Thursday, April 12, 2018

Book Review: Foolish Hearts

TITLE: Foolish Hearts
AUTHOR: Emma Mills
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: December 2017
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: A girl's quiet life is turned upside down after she accidentally overhears the breakup of the school's most popular couple and is thrown into a production of the school's play.
MY REVIEW: This book took me completely by surprise and I love it when books do that. It came in my OwlCrate and I honestly wasn't expecting much from it. But I wound up loving the hell out of it.
So many things about this made me happy: it's diverse, the popular couple that breaks up is actually two girls and no one in the school cares. It takes place at an all girls school and there's no catty "girls can't be friends" nonsense. The male love interest is not a douchebag! I actually wanted her and the guy to get together. That's always a nice change. There's great female friendship and it just rings so many bells for me.
This actually kind of gave me a lot of Becky Albertalli vibes. If you are pining for Leah on the Offbeat to come out like I am, this might be a good book to pick up in the meantime. It's not a groundbreaking book by any means. But it is just a nice breezy contemporary romance with fun characters that give you a good time. I will definitely be checking out more of Emma Mills stuff in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Emma Mills fans, Becky Albertalli fans, those that want cute contemporaries
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five enjoyable as hell books

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Book Review: Batman-Nightwalker

TITLE: Batman: Nightwalker
DC Icons series Book 2
AUTHOR: Marie Lu
PUBLISHED: January 2nd, 2018
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Media tie-in/Superhero, Mystery
PREMISE: A young Bruce Wayne gets caught up in a mystery....
MY REVIEW: I have deep fondness for Batman. One of the first superhero things I ever got involved in was the Batman: The Animated Series. I got hooked on that show, then the Superman animated show and JLU and soon, I was checking out the comics they were based on. Nowadays, I am more of a Marvel girl. But Batman and his neverending angst will always hold an important piece of my heart. He is basically what got me into comics.
So I went into this cautiously. I wound up actually really enjoying it. Like the Wonder Woman book by Leigh Bardugo, it ignores comic continuity. So if you're hoping for teenage Bruce in the seventies or whatever, this will not be your thing (which is sad, I'd really like to see an historical take on Batman and how historical events may have shaped Bruce). But it is a believable look at Bruce as a teenager. One of my particular favorite parts was Alfred. But this is not surprising. Alfred is always my favorite. As far as I'm concerned, he's MVP in the Batman family. I'm pretty damn sure Bruce does not pay him enough for the shit he puts up with.
If you're looking for a absolutely amazing Batman story...this one isn't really up there. There are better ones in the comics. But if you like the Gotham TV show and want to see more angsty teenage Bruce Wayne. This one absolutely delivers. Plot wise it's a little meh (especially in the unnecessary romance part) but overall, this felt like a teenage Bruce Wayne and at the end of the day, that's kind of my only expectation with these DC Icons books: that they at least feel like the teenage versions of the characters they're supposed to be. For those wondering: the next DC Icons book is going to be Catwoman, written by Sarah J. Maas. I'm...not certain how that will work out (I have mixed feelings about Maas, to be honest). But I will still be checking it out.
WHO SHOULD READ: Batman fans, fans of Wonder Woman: Warbringer
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five angsty teenage caped crusaders

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Review: What We Lose

TITLE: What We Lose
AUTHOR: Zinzi Clemmons
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: July, 2017
GENRE: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Thandi deals with grief and many questions as she loses her mother to cancer.
MY REVIEW: The number one thing I have to say about this book is that it is short. It's under 250 pages. I read it all in one sitting. Sometimes this works out well, sometimes it doesn't. For this one, I do think it worked out well for the most part.
As always with literary books: the writing is gorgeous. The story...I think it had something to say, I just didn't particularly get into it. But I've been having issues connecting with all my books this past month or so, so I don't think that's a reflection on the book at all.
This one was kind of a mixed bag for me. I definitely do see a lot of potential in this author, so I'm excited to see what we get from her in the future. For a first book, I think this was pretty decent. I will warn it can be very sad at times, as it is dealing with grief. So if you are dealing with something like that, I'd maybe wait to read it. Unless you really want a good cry, if so, go for it.
WHO SHOULD READ: literary book fans, those that want books dealing with grief
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five solid debuts

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: So You Want to Talk About Race

TITLE: So You Want to Talk About Race
AUTHOR: Ijeoma Oluo
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: January 16th, 2018
GENRE: Social Commentary, Race
PREMISE: A writer goes into the various issues surrounding race and gives advice on how to talk about it.
MY REVIEW: This book is pretty much what it sounds like: a guide for talking about race. I'm sure someone out there will try and scoff at this book, but personally, I do think it's a necessary read. Especially for us white people who want to try and have these conversations. I can't begin to tell you how many times I see white people try and start conversations about race, but then just pull out of it or give up because they feel uncomfortable, or they just are trying to use the conversation to say there is no racism anymore (if you're going to do that...just maybe, stop). If you have done this...maybe try to read this book.
It is not what I'd call enjoyment reading. I mean, I personally found the author's writing enjoyable, but I know not everyone will, because of the subject matter. But the advice given in it is really good. I'm actually personally going to try out some of the advice myself, particularly the advice about calling out casual racism when you see it. Unfortunately in the area where I live, there are a LOT of casual racists out here. I also love the bit where the author points out that you better be ready to be uncomfortable when having these conversations. I see so many people whine about how talking about race just like, makes them uncomfortable, so they don't want to do it. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall. I'm sorry, but we white people really need to get over how these conversations make US feel.
If you are going to attempt to have conversations about race, please read this book first. I also suggest reading Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson. I have not read it yet, but I read the blog post it's based on, so I also recommend Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, to remind yourself that PoC are not required to have conversations about race with you if they do not want too.
One piece of advice I have to offer is this: instead of trying to assert your opinion on race in a conversation, stop and listen instead. Fight down that part that tries to say "well I haven't seen this, so you must be lying!" and just listen to people when they try and tell you about instances of racism (or sexism/homophobia/transphobia etc.). If you stop and listen, you tend to learn stuff more. Learning helps you grow. Growth tends to make these conversations go much better.
WHO SHOULD READ: White people, anyone interested in having conversations about race
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five necessary books

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: C Authors

Meant to have this up a lot earlier. There were just a lot of authors to go through, and real life has kind of gotten in the way of me blogging, or anything like that. But without further ado, here are the books I recommend from authors whose names start with the letter C:

CHILDREN'S/MIDDLE-GRADE

Thoroughbred series by Joanna Campbell
Alice in Wonderland books by Lewis Carroll
Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

Bruce Coville
-Unicorn Chronicles series
-My Teacher is an Alien series
-Magic Shop series

How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell

Karen Cushman
-Catherine, Called Birdy
-The Midwife's Apprentice

YOUNG ADULT

Meg Cabot
-Princess Diaries series
-1-800-WHERE-R-U series
-The Mediator series
-Abandon Trilogy
-Airhead Trilogy
-All American Girl Duology
-Avalon High
-Jinx

Rachel Caine
-The Great Library series
-Morganville Vampires series

Dark Unwinding duology by Sharon Cameron
Finishing School series by Gail Carriger
Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

Ally Carter
-Gallagher Girls series
-Heist Society Trilogy
-Embassy Row Trilogy

Kristin Cashore
-Graceling Trilogy
-Jane, Unlimited

Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Sea of Ink and Gold series by Traci Chee
Star-Touched Queen series by Roshani Chokshi
Mortal Instruments series and spin-offs by Cassandra Clare

Rosemary Clement-Moore
-The Splendor Falls
-Goodnight Family Duology

Kingdom on Fire Trilogy by Jessica Cluess
Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

Brandy Colbert
-Pointe
-Little and Lion

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
With Malice by Eileen Cook
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Vivian Apple Duology by Katie Coyle
Nevermore Trilogy by Kelly Creagh
Tempest Trilogy by Julie Cross
Steampunk Chronicles series by Kady Cross
Breathe Duology by Sarah Crossan
Magnolia League Duology by Katie Crouch

ADULT

Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Historical Fiction

The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Mystery

Heather Wells Mystery series by Meg Cabot
Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle

Romance

Meg Cabot
-Ransom My Heart
-Boy series

Sci-fi/Fantasy

Insatiable duology by Meg Cabot
The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

NON-FICTION

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik, and Ping Zhu
As If!: The Oral History of Clueless by Jen Chaney
My Life in France by Julia Child
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

PLAYS/POETRY

All plays by Anton Chekhov

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Review: Track of the Cat

TITLE: Track of the Cat
Book 1 in the Anna Pigeon series
AUTHOR: Nevada Barr
PUBLISHED: 1993
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A park ranger discovers the dead body of a co-worker and investigates her murder...
MY REVIEW: I should probably warn you all now: I've decided to go back to my read through the library project. This year I'm doing the B authors. So you'll likely be seeing a lot of random titles in the future. Even more random picks then what I usually do.
This series has been on my list for some time now. I know it's a pretty popular one. I...just found it okay to be honest. It's pretty dated in some stuff. For instance when it's discovered that the dead woman has had an affair with another woman, it's treated as this huge scandalous thing. Then one character tries to say only religious folk get upset about stuff like that. Which...um....no. Sadly, it's not just religion that can make people homophobic. Sometimes people are just jerks. I'm a little surprised the author would think that during the nineties, when homophobia was rampant (there was a big resurgence of it when AIDS started happening). Then there was a lot of other things that just made me sigh heavily.
Mystery wise...this was honestly just okay. Anna as a main character...had her moments. Everything else about the book...was just ho hum for me. It's a nice mystery, but that's about it. I'm honestly probably not going to bother with the rest of the books. I didn't feel any particular attachment to any of the characters.
WHO SHOULD READ: mystery fans, those who like books dealing with wildlife/nature
MY REVIEW: Three and a half out of Five okay mysteries

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Notable Releases: 3/11-3/17

Here are the notable releases from this past week that are on my radar:

MG/YA

Tyranny of Petticoats vol. 2: The Radical Element by various authors

A Tyranny of Petticoats was a really fun collection of short stories a few years ago. I can't wait to read this new collection.








Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

I adored Gardner's book from last year: You're Welcome, Universe. This one looks just as good. It's taking on the geek world and the double standards we female geeks face from male geeks. I hope it calls out just as much bs as Gardner's last book did. Because as a female geek, let me tell you: there's a lot of bs in geek culture. A lot.

Illuminae Files Book 3: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Conclusion to a series that I have a deep fondness for. If you haven't read this series, seriously do so.








Adult Fiction

Laura and Emma by Kate Greathead

Interesting looking debut that is giving me slight Gilmore Girls vibes.

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

This one is promising talk about rape culture and how extremism helps no one and all sorts of interesting and relevant topics. How the author handles things seems to be a mixed bag though. So I'll see how this one goes.







The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

Short story collection that is retellings of fairy tales. Which we all know: is my thing.








The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat

Interesting looking debut. I'm ignoring the low Goodreads ratings, personally. As I've said before: they are to be taken with a grain of salt because Goodreads reviews...can be very iffy sometimes.







Non-Fiction

Not My White Savior: A Memoir in Poems by Julayne Lee

Keeping an eye out for this one. I am working my way through poetry still, and am not quite comfortable reviewing anything yet beyond: I liked this bit here. Which is why there haven't been any poetry reviews this year. I have been reading them...I'm just still not sure what to look for in poems, yet.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Review: Swing Time

TITLE: Swing Time
AUTHOR: Zadie Smith
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: 2016
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: Two girls lives intertwine when they're kids and taking a dance class...
MY REVIEW: I have never read Zadie Smith before. I've been meaning to read NW and On Beauty for awhile now, but I just never have gotten around to it. So this is my first Zadie Smith book. I do definitely see why she's a thing.
Her writing is beautiful. There are so many quotable lines in this, that I lost track of all of them. Story wise...this was interesting, but I felt like it needed more focus. Too me, there were actually two stories going on here: one where there were two girls who became friends as kids, but slowly grew apart over the years, and another with one of the girls as an adult and the things she was going through. The stories didn't really gel well for me. So there were pacing issues.
I'm kind of torn on this book to be honest. Part of me, wants to give it high marks, because the writing is gorgeous and it talks about a lot of important subjects and issues that I think are worth talking about. But the pacing and plotting were, to me, kind of a mess. I definitely will be still picking up Smith's other books though. From what people tell me, this isn't the best of her work.
WHO SHOULD READ: Zadie Smith fans, fans of Another Brooklyn, contemporary literature fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five interesting, but kind of messy stories

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Book Review: Around the Way Girl

TITLE: Around the Way Girl
AUTHOR: Taraji P. Henson
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: 2016
GENRE: Celebrity memoir
PREMISE: Actor Taraji P. Henson talks about her life.
MY REVIEW: This review will be short because honestly, there's not much to say about this one. It's a very typical celebrity memoir. I can tell you, I really like Taraji, which is why I picked this up. Like most people, I became aware of her when Empire became a thing (I still have not seen it. Sorry guys). I then grew to like her as an actor when I watched Person of Interest a couple of years ago (seriously, watch this show. It's the best). I also highly recommend Hidden Figures, if you haven't seen it yet.
There are a few things in here about her that I actually did not know. She doesn't really tell many dark secrets or anything like that. But it does make me admire her a lot. It's decently written. I can tell she's the one telling me these stories. Which at the end of the day, is all I ask from my celebrity memoirs: that it does actually at least feel like the person is the one telling you their stories and not some ghost writer.
There's no huge bombshells. It's funny and very fast-paced. If you like Taraji and want to know more about her, this is a good one to pick up.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Taraji P. Henson
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five solid memoirs

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: Truly Devious

TITLE: Truly Devious
Book 1 in the Truly Devious Trilogy
AUTHOR: Maureen Johnson
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: January 16th, 2018
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A girl goes to an exclusive private school where she soon becomes involved in solving a decades old cold case...
MY REVIEW: Maureen Johnson is an interesting author for me. Some of her things, I'm a bit ho hum about (like 13 Little Blue Envelopes for instance) but other things she's done I really liked (the Shades of London trilogy). Luckily, I can put Truly Devious in the category of I liked it.
This is a fun little mystery. It is a bit slow in parts, but what it does with characters is great. It does have Maureen's habit of quirky characters. So if you are not into that, this might irk you a bit. But if you don't mind quirkiness, this does turn into a very interesting mystery. On one hand, you have the older mystery with the family, and then things happen and there's a modern day mystery to solve.
I thought this was a very good introduction book. It gives you a larger mystery solve. There are more modern ones for the character to tackle, and some new questions get raised at the end. I'm personally looking forward to the next book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mystery fans, Veronica Mars fans, fans of boarding school stories
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid mysteries