Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Book Review: Victoria-The Queen

TITLE: Victoria, The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire
AUTHOR: Julia Baird
PUBLISHED: November 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Biography, History
PREMISE: An historian gives an in depth look into the life of Queen Victoria.
MY REVIEW: Some of you may have noticed: I've been getting into historical biographies lately. I've been hearing quite a few good things about this one, so I picked it up. It is surprisingly a rather refreshing look at Queen Victoria.
I've just read way too many biographies that clearly have a bias either toward or against Victoria. This author pointed out Victoria's flaws as well as the good things she did. It was a nice change of pace. The wealth of information is detailed and well organized and is actually pretty well written. Occasionally the author's bias against other people sometimes shined through, but for the most part it was very fair biography.
If you're looking for a fair and balanced look at Queen Victoria, this is definitely a good one to pick up. If you're wary about how large it is, I'd like to point out at least two hundred pages of it is just notes/bibliography. It also reads surprisingly fast.
WHO SHOULD READ: those interested in Queen Victoria, historical biography fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting people in history

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

TITLE: The Summer I Turned Pretty
Book 1 in the Summer Trilogy
AUTHOR: Jenny Han
PUBLISHED: 2009
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary/Romance
PREMISE: A girl's friendship with two brothers changes one memorable summer...
MY REVIEW: So I'm still pretty new to Jenny Han. I only discovered her just last year. I'm not ready to say good-bye to Lara Jean just yet, so I thought I'd pick up her first trilogy first. I liked it...but not as much as I liked the Lara Jean series for some reason.
As always with Han, the writing is great. Like Lara Jean, there are interesting family dynamics going on. I just for some reason couldn't click with it. There were a few instances where I sighed (like when the fat-shaming jokes happened in the beginning), but those instances weren't enough to ruin the book or anything. It still had some great character stuff like the Lara Jean series has. Just for some reason this one...I just shrug at. I'll still be reading the next two books, because it's summer and this series is perfect summer reading.
I don't know, you guys. I still say it's good. Just for some reason that has to do with mostly me, I think, I just didn't get into this one as much as I got into Lara Jean.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jenny Han fans, Sarah Dessen fans, contemporary romance fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Spider-man-Miles Morales Vol. 1 and 2

TITLE: Miles Morales
Spider-man-Miles Morales Vols. 1 and 2
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
Series Start: 2016
PUBLISHER: Marvel
COLLECTS: vol. 1 collects issues 1-5, vol. 2 collects issues 6-11
PREMISE: Miles Morales deals with his growing complicated life as Spider-man.
MY REVIEW: It's really fun, when it comes to Spider-man I've always been sort of a shrugger. But Miles? I love Miles. I discovered him sometime last year and it's taken me awhile to get caught up but it's been so worth it.
I will say, I have a bit of a issue sometimes with Bendis as a writer. Like some stuff he does, I love (he writes some of the best dialogue ever), but then there are scenes where...I just want to bang my head against the wall. Like that scene in one of the early issues that is clearly taking potshots at girls online who dare to care about things like representation. Writers, don't insult people that read your stuff, okay? We tend to notice you're making fun of us and sorry, it's not going to stop us from criticizing you. It might make us stop buying your books/comics though.
Second volume unfortunately got bogged down with Civil War II stuff. As I've been getting caught up on the Marvel comics from last year, I've been getting bits of info here and there about Civil War II and I have to say...it looks like it was just as much of a mess as Civil War was. On the bright side though, we got to see Luke Cage and Jessica Jones meet Miles and that was the best.
So...this series is ultimately good, but has some issues as usually happens when Bendis is involved. It is still a great start to read if you're curious about Miles Morales.
WHO SHOULD READ: Spider-Man fans, Miles Morales fans
GOOD FOR NEWBIES: Er...sort of. If you have some idea of who Miles Morales is, you should be okay. Would probably help to read his older books first though.
MY RATING: Four out of Five web-slingers

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Notable Releases: 6/11-6/17

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

MG/YA

Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali

Debut that's been getting quite a bit of buzz.

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Anderson always writes very interesting ideas, and this one looks like it's no exception.

Stormheart Book 1: Roar by Cora Carmack

Fantasy debut that's been getting lots of buzz.

Ivory and Bone Book 2: Obsidian and Stars by Julie Eshbaugh

I have...mixed feelings about the first book in this series that is basically a gender-flipped Pride and Prejudice set in the pre-historic era. But I was interested enough that I'll probably read this. Eventually.

Monsters of Verity: Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

I can't wait to get my hands on this one. This Savage Song was one my favorites from last year.






Adult Fiction

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know Book 1: Mad by Chloe Esposito

This week's twisty thriller.







Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S. J. Sindu

LGBTQA book that looks interesting to me.







Non-Fiction

Daring to Drive A Saudi Woman's Awakening by Manal Al-Sharif

Interesting looking memoir.









Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

New Roxane Gay book! New Roxane Gay book!

Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock

The author of the memoir Redefining Realness returns with a memoir talking about her life as an adult.







Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Review: Caraval

TITLE: Caraval
Book 1 in new series
AUTHOR: Stephanie Garber
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy/Romance
PREMISE: A girl and her sister get swept up in a magical game at a magic carnival...
MY REVIEW: Most of you have probably either already read this, or seen all the reviews, or at least know about this. It has been a pretty big buzzed about book this year. It was basically THE book to get your hands on at last years BEA and the marketing for it has been great. Naturally with most books like this...people had expectations not met and so there are lots of mixed reviews out there. It seems to be one of those books people either really loved or were just meh about.
I'm in this weird place where I liked it a lot...but I also am not completely in love with it. One thing I loved was the magic part of it. The imagination in this was great. The world-building definitely could have used a lot more polishing, but we're spending most of the time in the game so I get why we can't see everything yet. The characters...were just okay. They got the job done. I didn't really have any feelings on the romance, other then whatever. I definitely don't think this rivals Night Circus like the publishers kept trying to say. Sorry, it is not up to that level at all. Also for the last time: please stop comparing new debuts to beloved older books. You tend to set up high expectations that way and that tends to make people more critical then usual of the book. You are not helping your new author at all with that nonsense.
For a debut, this is really good. I have a feeling if it was not a debut, I'd be grading it a bit lower, but the author pulled the story off, I really hope the next book is about the sister because she was frankly ten times more interesting to me then the main character was. If you want just a entertaining story with romance and magic, this is your book. It's definitely not better then the Night Circus, but it is still good.
WHO SHOULD READ: Night Circus fans, those that like romance with fantasy elements
MY RATING: Four out of Five magic carnivals

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Book Review: History is All You Left Me

TITLE: History is All You Left Me
AUTHOR: Adam Silvera
PUBLISHED: January 17th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A boy tries to get over the death of his ex-boyfriend. The only one that seems to understand is the guy his ex-boyfriend dated after they broke up...
MY REVIEW: This is actually my first foray into Adam Silvera's writing. I have not yet read More Happy Than Not. After this, I'm definitely picking that one up sooner, rather than later, because this was GOOD. I have to say, contemporary lately, particularly some of the ones I've been reading this past year have been knocking it out of the park. I used to never really bother with contemporary, but nowadays, that's definitely not the case. So far some of the top books I've read this year have all been contemporary.
One of the things that really impressed me about this: it actually admitted the relationship between these two boys was not healthy. Like...thank you. I have read way too many books where the relationship is clearly not healthy, but author went ahead and tried to make them a happy ending sort of couple anyway. Silvera did not go that route and I'm very grateful for that. More authors need to do this. Both main characters manage to move on and deal with their grief, but it's not a "your love helped save me!" sort of situation like so many of these kind of books tend to turn into.
So this book was definitely a very present surprise. I won't lie and say it's an utter joy to read. It's good, but it is very sad. If you're dealing grief this will possibly trigger you like whoa. But the writing is good, the characters are fully developed (also yay for present parents in YA!) and it dealt with things honestly and realistically. This book will very likely wind up on my top ten list of the year, or at least be close if I happen to read things better in the second half of the year (completely possible, there are a lot of good looking books coming out this year).
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of More Happy Than Not, David Levithan fans, John Green fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five incredibly satisfying books

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review: Rebel Mechanics

TITLE: Rebel Magisters
Book 2 in the Rebel Mechanics series
AUTHOR: Shanna Swandson
PUBLISHED: July 2016
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Steampunk/Alternate History
PREMISE: Verity tries to bridge the gap between the wealthy Magisters who are ready to rebel and the Rebel Mechanics already having a rebellion under way...
MY REVIEW: I will be forever sad that this series didn't take off more than it did among the YA crowd. It is a tad generic, true, but the world created here is great. Swandson really expanded that part in the second book.
Not only did she expand on the world, but she developed characters as well. This book took things in directions I wasn't expecting and that to me, is the mark of a great middle book of a trilogy. My favorite part, surprisingly is the way the author handled the love triangle. This is the most mature way I've seen a love triangle handled in a YA trilogy.
Is this a brilliant series? No. I've seen ideas like this done before. But, if you're like me and hooked on these steampunk books, this series is one of the better ones to come out of YA.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read Rebel Mechanics, steampunk fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five huzzahs, because this improved things from the first book

Monday, June 12, 2017

Notable Releases: 6/4-6/10

So...yeah...this is late. Sorry. Real life and all of that. Anyway, here are last week's notable releases:

MG/YA

Dividing Eden Book 1 by Joelle Charrbonneau

New fantasy trilogy debut. The comparison to Maas and Aveyard is giving me slight pause because...well, I'm not a huge fan of either author. But I'm hoping it's just a case of the publisher comparing it to popular fantasy and not because there any actual similarities (which lets face it, is something that happens in publishing A LOT).




Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

I can't wait to get my hands on this one. A book with a asexual main character. FINALLY. Not a background character, the actual main character. Now if we can just get some damn demi-sexual representation out there...

Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill

Mystery that looks pretty good.








Song of the Current Book 1 by Sarah Tolcser

Fun-looking fantasy that is the latest one to involve pirates.







Adult Fiction

The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson

Historical fiction about Patricia Highsmith.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

One of these days I will actually read a Horowitz book. I keep making note of his books because they look fun, but then I always forget about them for some reason or another...






The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Big June release that probably doesn't need me to plug it, but here you go. Once again, I advise ignoring the low rating it has. Most of it seems to be people whining about how she's an activist now.


The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

WWI/WWII historical fiction novel that's giving me some Code Name Verity vibes.







Non-Fiction

Rwandan Women Rising by Swanee Hunt

Non-fiction about how Rwandan women have come to hold over sixty percent of their Parliament seats. Perhaps US women should take notes.






Comics/Manga Releases
Giant Days Vol. 5 TP
Valerian The Complete Collection Vol. 1
Fate Zero Vol. 5 TP
Mother Panic Vol. 1: A Work in Progress TP
Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven TP
Teen Titans Vol. 1: Damien Knows Best TP

Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star

TITLE: The Sun is Also a Star
AUTHOR: Nicola Yoon
PUBLISHED: November 2016
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
PREMISE: A girl and a guy meet on a very important day in their lives, but it seems their romance is doomed due to circumstance...
MY REVIEW: So here's the thing about Everything Everything for me: I liked it...but it was mostly just okay for me. I have too many issues with that ending to ever really love it. But this book? This book I love. I actually think this one is ten times better then Everything, Everything.
Everything about it is much more realistic. There's a less cringe-worthy ending. It also touches upon so many issues in just a short span of time. Also, I like this romance more for some reason. Yes, it was insta-love, but...it was realistic insta-love, if that makes sense (it probably doesn't and won't till you get to the end of the book). Characters were also much better developed. Everything was just...much better and far more polished for me then Yoon's first book was. NOW I'm definitely a fan.
If you're looking for a sweet (but realistic) romance that touches upon social issues, this book is definitely a good one to pick up.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Everything Everything, contemporary romance fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five realistic endings

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Review: Yesternight

TITLE: Yesternight
AUTHOR: Cat Winters
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: October 2016
GENRE: Historical Fiction/Magical Realismish
PREMISE: A young woman comes to a town to help children and discovers one child might be remembering a past life.
MY REVIEW: Why didn't I know Cat Winters had branched out into adult fiction? Seems very strange for me as I enjoy her books quite a bit. This is apparently her second adult book. Who knew. Everyone but me, I guess.
This is very much like Winters' YA books. It has top notch historical details, interesting plot that you don't see every day, and an interesting conclusion. What I love about Winters' stuff is she mixes real events in with her plots and her writing is very atmospheric.
As always, I enjoyed this one. The ending is not my favorite thing in the world. It ends rather abruptly. But overall, this was a very interesting read, as usual with Winters. Not my favorite of hers (so far, the best I've seen from her is A Steep and Thorny Way), but definitely memorable.
WHO SHOULD READ: Cat Winters fans, those that like spooky fiction
MY RATING: Four out of Five reincarnated lives