Monday, October 15, 2018

Book Review: The Grave's a Fine and Private Place

TITLE: The Grave's a Fine and Private Place
Book 9 in the Flavia de Luce series
AUTHOR: Alan Bradley
CATEGORY:often shelved as adult, I say it's middle-grade
PUBLISHED: January 30th, 2018 (in the US)
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Mystery
PREMISE: While dealing with the death of her father, Flavia stumbles upon another mystery...
MY REVIEW: I am a latecomer to the Flavia de Luce series. I read the first book around...two years ago, I believe. The series has been out for quite some time now. With the ninth book, it is coming to an end. I'm sorry to see it go, but I think it's just as well. I could tell the author was running out of ideas of what to do with the series. Some of the previous books wandered in plot a lot. The same happened with this book. But we do ultimately get a good conclusion for Flavia and everyone else in her life. For the record, I wouldn't be opposed to a series about adult Flavia de Luce. Just saying.
It's always a bit bittersweet when a series comes to an end. On one hand...you get to know the characters are going to be okay in the end. On the other hand: no more books. Flavia, I'm going to miss you and your delight in stumbling upon dead bodies.
WHO SHOULD READ: those who've read books 1-8, cozy mystery fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five series coming to an end
RATING FOR SERIES: Four out of Five

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Book Review: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

TITLE: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have the Answers to When You Work in the White House.
AUTHOR: Alyssa Mastromonaco
PUBLISHED: March 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoirs, Politics
PREMISE: Obama's former Deputy Chief of Staff writes about her time in the White House and what it's like to work in politics.
MY REVIEW: I'm honestly not sure how to rate this one. There's nothing really wrong with it. The writing is engaging, it explains things really well, there are some good stories in here. It's just...I feel like the book didn't know what it wanted to be.
Part of it was a memoir, another part of it was life advice. It just kept switching and it was jarring when it would switch. That aspect of the book, I could have done without. But for the most part, I did enjoy it. It just was all over the place sometimes and needed a bit more focus. There were some excellent stories in here about Obama though. Those were fun.
This is one of those niche kind of books, you either are going to be interested in it or you aren't. I was, so I liked it.
WHO SHOULD READ: those interested in politics
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five funny stories about Obama

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Book Review: Heroine Complex

TITLE: Heroine Complex
Book 1 in the Heroine Complex series
AUTHOR: Sarah Kuhn
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: 2016
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Superheros
PREMISE: An assistant to a superhero struggles with new found super powers...
MY REVIEW: I've been meaning to read this forever. I don't know why it took so long for me to get to it. It just did. I enjoyed this one a lot. I will warn, there's actually a lot of sex scenes in this. Way more then I was expecting, actually. I don't mind sex scenes, but I know that can be an issue with some readers.
This was actually more romance focused then the summary let on. If you're a romance reader, you actually should probably like this. It follows a lot of the romance genre beats. There's some good character stuff in it as well. I love that it wasn't afraid to make all its characters flawed.
If you want a really serious urban fantasy...this probably won't be for you. It's more character/romance focused then it is on world-building. But the character stuff is great and is what is going to keep me reading the series. The next book goes into another character and her romance and I actually am really looking forward to that. I found the character really interesting.
WHO SHOULD READ: superhero fans, romance fans, Marvel fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five kick-ass women with powers

Friday, October 12, 2018

Book Review: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You

TITLE: The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You
AUTHOR: Lily Anderson
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: 2016
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: When their friends start dating, two people who can't stand each other agree to try and get along for their friend's sake....
MY REVIEW: After reading and enjoying Undead Girl Gang, I decided to just go ahead and read the author's other books. This one is different from Undead Girl Gang. It's a contemporary book with romance in it. Luckily for the author, I've been in a romance mood, thanks to Crazy Rich Asians and the To All the Boys I've Loved Before movie.
This is one of those classic enemies to lovers kind of plots. It's honestly, just fun. It's also very nerdy. All the characters are geeks, so there are references to all sorts of things. The dialogue is great, there's a bit of a funny twist at the end and I liked all the friends.
If you want ground-breaking, this book isn't it. But if you want just a cute and fluffy contemporary romance, with lots of geek references, it absolutely delivers. There's a companion book out there and I've already read that too, so a review will be coming soon.
WHO SHOULD READ: geeks, contemporary romance fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five cute romances

Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

TITLE: Crazy Rich Asians
Book 1 in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy
AUTHOR: Kevin Kwan
PUBLISHED: 2013
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Romance, Contemporary
PREMISE: A woman finds out the man she is dating is in fact a member of one of the richest families in Singapore....
MY REVIEW: Unless you've been living under a rock or something, chances are high you've at least heard about Crazy Rich Asians. The movie has been big this summer. I saw it, and honestly, I get the hype. Seriously, the movie is gold, go see it if you adore rom coms or any kind of family drama stuff.
I read the book right before seeing the movie it was honestly just as delightful. I will warn, the writing...is not the best. It kind of jumps from POV to POV and is awkward in some places. But the characterization, the self-aware humor, and entertaining family drama all make up for it. There's also some pretty interesting commentary on things like classism, racism, and various other topics. I also actually liked the footnotes. They provided some interesting information that I wasn't aware of. So not only are you getting an entertaining read, you actually get some interesting tidbits about Singapore and its culture.
So count me in on the Crazy Rich Asians hype train. I can't wait to read the rest of the books and see the sequel, whenever we get it. Also: if you have not seen the To All the Boys I've Loved Before movie yet....do so. It's wonderful.
WHO SHOULD READ: Rom com fans, Jenny Han fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five wacky families

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Book Review: Most Wanted

TITLE: Most Wanted
Part of the Star Wars canon books
AUTHOR: Rae Carson
PUBLISHED: May 25th, 2018
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Sci-Fi, Media tie-in
PREMISE: Set before the Solo movie, this book goes into how Han and Qi'ra became partners...
MY REVIEW: I saw the Solo movie a few months ago in theaters. It was perfectly decent movie. Completely unnecessary, as are most prequels, but it was a decent film.
This book is pretty on par with most of the new Star Wars books: not necessary to read, but a good time if you're pining for more Star Wars in between the films/TV shows. They also give some nice supplemental info. I actually kind of feel like this gave us some better background on Han, then the movie did. It also gave Qi'ra some much better development, as well.
If you read Star Wars books on regular basis, you know what to expect from this one: lots of action and adventure. It's very fast-paced (I finished it in like, two sittings). If you liked the Solo movie, but maybe wanted some more info on the characters, this is a good one to pick to pick up. There's also one out there about young Lando, so I'll probably look into that one as well.
WHO SHOULD READ: Star Wars fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five space races

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Book Review: Undead Girl Gang

TITLE: Undead Girl Gang
AUTHOR: Lily Anderson
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: May 8th, 2018
GENRE: Urban Fantasy. Mystery
PREMISE: A girl raises her best friend back from the dead to find out how she died, but...she winds up bringing back two other girls as well.
MY REVIEW: I normally am not interested in zombies. I don't know why, but they just honestly bore me. There's usually not really much you can do with them. But this one interested me, because there was a mystery and female friendship attached to to it.
For the most part, it's a fun ride. You have to suspend a lot of disbelief while reading it. The main character is a bit prickly, but I personally enjoyed her. But I find all the characters the YA crowd deem "unlikable", are characters whom I wind up liking a lot. Go figure. If you were picking this up because you heard rumblings about there being "great" LGBT rep...there really isn't. The rep is just two adult female side characters who barely get any screen time and it's just mentioned that they're in a relationship. I found them interesting, and would honestly love a book about them. But I'm not sure why it was advertised as great rep as honestly...the characters don't really do anything.
That disappointing bit aside, this was a decent read. I particularly liked where the mystery went. After this, I went and picked up Lily Anderson's debut book, and wound up loving that one as well. The review is coming soon. I think I have a new author to enjoy now.
WHO SHOULD READ: Buffy fans, those looking for books with witches/zombies
MY RATING: Four out of Five female friendships

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Classic Book Review: A Separate Peace

TITLE: A Separate Peace
AUTHOR: John Knowles
PUBLISHED: 1959
CATEGORY: Young Adult (sort of)
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: A man remembers his time in school during WWII.
MY THOUGHTS: Sigh. This is yet another book in what I'm beginning to think is a sub-genre: Old (usually white and straight) guy thinks back on one memorable thing from his childhood. I've stumbled across so many literature books that do this and...honestly dudes? I'm sorry, but your childhood is not as interesting as you think it is. This one had all the problems that books that do this idea have: mainly...it's dull.
I get what the author was doing with it. War is hell, it effects us all, even those not in the war, etc. etc. Probably also some metaphors for losing your innocence as well. This is not a difficult novel to grasp or even to read. Which is probably why it winds up on reading lists for schools all the time. But personally, I suspect this is better read as an adult. I have no doubt that teenage me would have hated this. Adult me....didn't enjoy it, but appreciates what the author was trying to do.
I just, for the life of me, couldn't get into this one. Yet another classic that is just not for me.
WHO SHOULD READ: literature fans, those that don't mind slow-paced books

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: J Authors

Here are all the authors whose books I recommend whose last name starts with the letter J:

Childrens/Middle-Grade

Diane Wynne Jones
Chrestomanci series
Enchanted Glass

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Young Adult Fiction

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Michele Jaffe
Bad Kitty duology
Rosebush
Ghost Flower
Minders

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay (there is a second book, but it's honestly kind of bad. Just read the first)
The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Summer Prince
Love is the Drug

Maureen Johnson
13 Little Blue Envelopes
Devilish
Suite Scarlett duology
Shades of London series
Truly Devious series

Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston
Need Series by Carrie Jones

Diane Wynne Jones
Howl's Moving Castle series
The Game
Dark Lord of Derkholm

Adult Fiction

Contemporary/Historical Fiction
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Science-Fiction/Fantasy

N. K. Jemisin
Inheritance Trilogy
Broken Earth Trilogy

Queen of the Tearling Trilogy by Erika Johansen

Non-Fiction

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
Here We Are: Feminism For the Real World by various authors, edited by Kelly Jenson
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diane Wynne Jones

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Book Review: Not If I Save You First

TITLE: Not If I Save You First
AUTHOR: Ally Carter
PUBLISHED: March 27th, 2018
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary/Romance
PREMISE: A girl needs to save the President's son from getting kidnapped. Too bad she hates the boy's guts.
MY REVIEW: I am pretty much always up for an Ally Carter book. Her books are just fun. This short standalone is no exception. It's a nice breezy pace, with lots of action, just enough detail, and a satisfying story.
It just...wasn't as good as I've seen her do. It's not bad! Again, I enjoyed it. If you're looking for a quick, cute, read, it's a good pick. If you want something with a little more substance though....I'd look elsewhere. This also isn't as good as some of her previous work. I kind of get the sense that it was just written to meet a contract requirement. But at least it was fun. It also apparently takes place in the same world as Gallagher Girls/Heist Society as there's a bit of a reference to one of the spy schools.
So, not the best book ever. But if you just want a quick read with a fun main character, this is a good one to pick up.
WHO SHOULD READ: Ally Carter fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five bedazzled hammers