Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Book Review: Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales

TITLE: Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales
AUTHOR: Kiersten White
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade
PUBLISHED: July 2017
GENRE: Fantasy, Fairy-tale mash-up
PREMISE: A retelling of various fairy-tales with some twists here and there...
MY REVIEW: I should probably give a bias warning: Kiersten White is a favorite author of mine. I've yet to read a book of hers I haven't enjoyed at least somewhat. Her stuff just kind of speaks to me, and this book is no exception. It is basically a fantasy parody with mash-ups of fairy tales with a slight horror bent. For instance, Goldilocks and the three bears. In this version, Goldilocks is a zombie hunter and the bears were actually zombies. Her breaking into the house was totally justified, guys!
There's Snow White, who turns out to be a mind-controlling monster (hence why the queen really put her into the coffin). Red Riding Hood turns out to be a vampire and so on. It basically just twists fairy-tales in unconventional ways and ties all of the tales together. It's all told with an hilarious narrator.
Because of the parody element, this probably won't appeal to everyone. But I personally loved it. If you know of tweens or anyone who enjoys middle-grade who is skeptical of the whole princess thing, they will probably like it too.
WHO SHOULD READ: fairy-tale mash-up fans, those who like fun twists on familiar stories
MY RATING: Four out of Five fun twisted fairy-tales

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: G Authors

Here are all the books I recommend written by authors whose names start with the letter G:

Childrens/Middle-Grade Fiction

Neil Gaiman
Coraline
The Graveyard Book

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Mapmaker's Trilogy by S. E. Grove

Young Adult Fiction

Elusion Duology by Claudia Gabel
Caraval Trilogy by Stephanie Garber
Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margeret Stohl
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden

Whitney Gardner
You're Welcome, Universe
Chaotic Good

Princesses of Westfallen Trilogy by Jessica Day George
Stoker and Holmes series by Colleen Gleason
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Ryan Graudin
The Walled City
Wolf by Wolf duology

Claudia Gray
Evernight series
Spellcaster Trilogy
Firebird series
Star Wars: Lost Stars

John Green
Looking for Alaska
An Abundance of Katherines
Paper Towns
Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-written with David Levithan)
The Fault in Our Stars

The Girl at Midnight Trilogy by Melissa Grey
Masque of the Red Death Duology by Bethany Griffin
Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Adult Fiction

Contemporary/General Fiction

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Historical Fiction

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Science-Fiction/Fantasy

Neil Gaiman
Trigger Warnings: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Neverwhere
American Gods Duology
Stardust
The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Romance

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Mystery/Thriller

Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
Body of Evidence series by Christopher Golden (I think this series is out of print now, but you should be able to find it at used bookstores or libraries)
Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood (also highly recommend the TV show version)

Non-Fiction

Neil Gaiman
The View From the Cheap Seats: Selected Non-Fiction
Norse Mythology

In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary

Roxane Gay
Bad Feminist
Hunger: A Memoir of My Body

Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash
My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Giuerrero with Michelle Buford

Monday, July 9, 2018

Book Review: Before the Devil Breaks You

TITLE: Before the Devil Breaks You
Book 3 in the Diviners series
AUTHOR: Libba Bray
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: October 2017
GENRE: Historical Fantasy/Paranormal
PREMISE: The Diviners all come together for their training as their lives become more difficult and the enemy comes closer and closer...
MY REVIEW: I think I've been pretty up front about the fact that I adore this series. So it probably won't come as a surprise to any of you, that I adored this book.
As with the other books, the characters in this series are the best. I love how they all come together. I love the snark, I love how their personalities clash and also mesh well. I love the setting in this. Far too many historical novels that take place in the twenties focus on the glamour part of it. This book does that, but also points out all the gross stuff that went on during this time as well such as deep racism that still existed well after slavery had ended, sexism, classism, and a whole bunch of other funky things we tend to try and brush under the rug when we go on about the "good old days".
This was a phenomenal continuation. There were twists I wasn't expecting (and some that downright broke my heart, even though the twists were damn good), and it leaves on a big question mark. I'm sure we'll probably have to wait awhile for the next book in this series as well and I'm honestly okay with that. Just please, publishers: stop changing the damn covers.
WHO SHOULD READ: Libba Bray fans, those that have read the first two books
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five almost perfect books (it was a tad slow in the beginning, that's the only reason it's not getting five full stars from me)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Book Review: Geek Love

TITLE: Geek Love
AUTHOR: Katherine Dunn
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: 1989
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A slice of life sort of book documenting the lives of a family at a traveling carnival...
MY REVIEW: Oh literature crowd, sometimes I do not understand you and your taste. This is yet another one of those times. I've seen this book on all sorts of lists, hailed as super amazing and everything. So I was eager to read it. Unfortunately...I did not get into it. At all.
The writing is gorgeous. This is something the literature crowd does get right usually. They have an amazing ability to spot people with good prose. But here's the thing: just because something has good prose...that doesn't mean it's a good book. The prose here were lovely...the story...not so much. The characters were all jerks who I didn't enjoy spending any time with. There's emotional abuse and all sorts of messed up things happening here. The plot also moves at a snails pace. The ending leaves a lot to be desired as well. A lot of reviews I saw, said the ending was worth all the slowness of the book...I really don't agree with that assessment.
So yeah. I just don't get what people see in this book. All I saw was a book that had a great idea, but not such great execution. Which is a problem I find happens a lot in literature. But from what I can tell this is the kind of book people either really love or really hate. So I would not take my word for things and check it out of the library to see if it's for you.
WHO SHOULD READ: literature fans who don't mind slow books
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five beautifully written, but boring books

Book Review: To Kill a Kingdom

TITLE: To Kill a Kingdom
AUTHOR: Alexandra Christo
PUBLISHED: March 6th, 2018
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy, Retelling
PREMISE: A retelling of the little mermaid where the mermaid actually becomes human so she can kill the prince...
MY REVIEW: I admit it, I was a bit skeptical going into this. Mermaid books and me, really do not get along as a rule. But to my surprise...I enjoyed it quite a bit. It is a tad generic. Sorry, but retellings of the Little Mermaid happen all the time. So I can't give it higher then four stars. But it is still a very readable and entertaining book.
My favorite part about this book, hands down, were the side characters. Particularly the Prince's crew. They were an utter delight. They snarked at each other, supported each other, it was all great. It gave me a lot of Six of Crows chosen family vibes. That's my weakness. So that had a lot to do with my enjoyment of the book. I always say: if your plot is not going to be the most original out there, make sure your characters are awesome so people want to stay and read it. And the author succeeded in that quite a bit.
This was just a fun, but also kind of angsty, entertaining read. It did exactly what it set out to do, and I think the author did a fairly good job on it. The fantasy debuts this year are doing a much better job then last year, I must say. I still say it needs to do better on the diversity/LGBTQ plus rep though. I'm hoping the success of Children of Blood and Bone (which I still need to read) gets the ball rolling on the diversity front at least.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the Little Mermaid, dark fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid retellings

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Book Review: Famous Last Words

TITLE: Famous Last Words
AUTHOR: Katie Alender
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: 2014
GENRE: Paranormal/Mystery
PREMISE: A girl moves to Hollywood as there's a serial killer on the loose and she's haunted by visions...
MY REVIEW: I read this pretty much right after reading Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. As always with Alender: it's a fun and entertaining romp. This would make a great by the pool book (there's even a scene in it with a pool!). Quality wise...it's just okay.
The plot was decent. It kind of slowed in the middle. There was stuff going on with a female friend that I found incredibly unnecessary (and fed more into that whole "girl can't be real friends!" nonsense that seems to plague YA). The romance was...a little blah and felt forced. But the stuff with the ghosts and the mystery was pretty good. A little slow, but good.
This book just scratched my itch to read more ghost books. If you also have such a need, it's a good one to look into. Though if you're going to try Alender, I recommend starting with her Bad Girls trilogy first. After reading all her books now, I can safely say that's her best one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Katie Alender fans, those who just want fun ghost stories
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five ghosts bothering humans

Friday, June 29, 2018

Mid Year Book Freakout, 2018

This is a survey thing that was created over on YouTube. I think it works pretty well for blogging as well so I'm going to borrow it. Basically it's a way to take stock of what you've read so far in the year. Here is the original video for anyone interested in doing it themselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_Wh0rPGfRg

I still can't believe the year is halfway over. Didn't we just start 2018?

The Questions:

1) Best book you've read so far in 2018:

I have a lot of favorites so far already. But I'm going to go with Diviners Book 3: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray. I finished it a few days ago (review is coming soon) and I have feelings you guys. So. Many. Feelings.

2) Best sequel you've read so far in 2018:

Other then Before the Devil Breaks You, some other good sequels have been:

Three Dark Crowns Book 2: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
Broken Earth Book 3: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
Winternight Trilogy Book 2: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
Wayward Children Book 3: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

3) New release you haven't read yet but want too:

Oh geez, where to begin? Here are some of the heavy hitters

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Flavia de Luce 9: The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Illuminae Files Book 3: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Trials of Apollo Book 3: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan
Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

4) Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

It's so cute how they say release instead of releases

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Conqueror's Saga Book 3: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White
Custard Protocol Book 3: Competence by Gail Carriger
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab/Vengeful by V. E. Schwab
Kate Daniels Book 10: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Three Dark Crowns 3: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake
Warcross Book 2: Wildcard by Marie Lu
Strange the Dreamer 2: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
What if It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak
Renegades Book 2: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
Peter Grant 7: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovich

5) Biggest disappointment:

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

This book should have been everything for me. It had so much potential. But it was all wasted on a typical plot I've seen a million times before.

6) Biggest surprise:

The Belles Book 1 by Dhonielle Clayton

I admit it, I was not expecting much from this book. I had hopes. Especially after the gorgeous cover was released. But the comparisons to The Selection kept putting me off. Luckily, the comparisons to that series turned out to not really have much merit, and this book turned out to be awesome.

7) Favorite new author:

Nnedi Okorafor
Emma Mills
Toni Morrison

8) Newest fictional crush

Yeah...I don't really do the fictonal crush thing. Plus honestly half the characters in the books I read are like 17 or whatever so me having crushes on them would be....not right. But here are some people I highly recommend as good possible romantic partners to people who are not old like me (or aromantic like me):

Finch from The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Remy from The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Gideon from Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Elena from The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
Adrian or Nova from the Renegades series by Marissa Meyer
Takumi from Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Abby and Garrett from Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

9) Newest favorite character

The ship crew from To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

I utterly adored the Prince's ship mates from this book. They bickered and bantered and were all sassy and loyal. They were just awesome.

10) Book that made you cry:

Er...none really. I don't really cry during entertainment of any kind. I get really shocked. But I don't cry. One that did really get to me, mostly because I was just so angry on the main character's behalf was The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis. Does that count?

11) Book that made you happy:

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

This book is so adorable you guys. Just read it.

12) Most beautiful book you've bought/received this year:

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert.

That cover is freaking gorgeous. The one I got was an Owlcrate exclusive cover too and the background is green instead of black and I LOVE IT.

13) What books do you need to get to by the end of this year?

Well, see all the books from above. As for my Bronte sister read through, I'm in the middle of Shirley, and still have The Professor, Villette, and Emily's poems to get through. As for my classics list I'm hoping to do:
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Candide by Volitaire
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Little Prince
Howard's End by E. M. Forester
and possibly Watership Down

14) Favorite Book Community Member

Eh....don't really have one? There are lots of people I follow on blogs as well as YouTube who just all give out great content. I don't particularly have a favorite, though I do love the Owlcrate team for their subscription boxes.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat

TITLE: Leah on the Offbeat
Companion book in the Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda series
AUTHOR: Becky Albertalli
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: April 24rth, 2018
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: Simon's friend Leah goes through her own set of troubles as she deals with the looming of college, dealing with her sexuality, and a crush on a girl that she thinks is hopeless...
MY REVIEW: I love Becky Albertalli's books, so I should probably give a bias warning for this review. She's basically an auto-buy author for me now. So whenever there are more Albertalli books in the future, I will be reading them.
As with all of Albertalli's books, this one was just cute. It is fast paced, there's some great lines in it that just nail things, and there's a romance I actually don't mind. I will admit that story wise...this was all over the place and I kind of think it lost focus too much. Quality wise...I think it's not as good as her first two books.
But it is still very enjoyable. At the end of the day, it was mostly what I wanted from it, so I'm not complaining too loudly and don't think it's bad or anything like that. I can't wait for whatever she has in store for us next. The only one I know of coming out is the one she's writing with Adam Silvera that's coming out later this year. I am thrilled about it and have my money and my tissues ready.
WHO SHOULD READ: Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five happy reads

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: F Authors

Here are all the books I recommend written by authors whose name begins with the letter F.

Childrens/Middle-Grade

Harriet the Spy series by Louise Fitzhugh
The Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox
Corduroy picture book series by Don Freeman

Cornelia Funke
Inkworld Trilogy
The Thief Lord

Young Adult Fiction

Jessica's Guide Duology by Beth Fantaskey
Of Metal and Wishes Duology by Sarah Fine
Incarceron Duology by Catherine Fisher
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Willful Machines by Tim Floreen
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Gayle Forman
If I Stay Duology
Just One Day Duology
I Was Here

Bhinian Empire Duology by Miram Forster
Dark Star Trilogy by Bethany Frenette

Esther Friesner
Nobody's Princess Duology
Spirit's Princess Duology
Sphinx's Princess Duology

Adult Fiction

Contemporary/General Fiction
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Room With a View by E. M. Forester

Mystery
Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke

Fantasy
Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

Science-Fiction
Welcome to Night Vale series by Joseph Fink

Non-Fiction

Carrie Fisher
Wishful Drinking
The Princess Diarest

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

Monday, June 25, 2018

Book Review: Gunslinger Girl

TITLE: Gunslinger Girl
AUTHOR: Lyndsay Ely
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: January 2nd, 2018
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: A girl escapes her home life and goes on a journey to a town where she becomes a sharp shooter for entertainment...
MY REVIEW: These James Patterson imprint books have been a real mixed bag for me. Much like how James Patterson's books are, now that I think about it. This latest book is no exception. I do give the author many points for creativity factor and readability factor. But story-wise...it was just okay all across the board.
The world-building is really interesting and where I see most of the creativity. She also writes nicely and cleanly and manages to spin a fast-paced tale. But other then those things...nothing much about this stood out for me. The characters were all the usual types that you see in YA these days. The story was okay...but not what I'd call a must read. Even the writing, which I mentioned was nice...is just okay. Everything is just...okay. Nothing, aside from some creative world-building, really stands out in this book.
So I don't know how I feel about this one to be honest. I enjoyed it as I read it. There's nothing particularly bad about it or anything. It's just...very average. I basically finished it, shrugged, and then promptly moved on to the next book in my pile. But I've seen some people love this. So...I don't know. I say check it out from the library, and see if it's for you, before buying it.
WHO SHOULD READ: James Patterson fans, dystopian fans, Hunger Games fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs