Monday, October 16, 2017

Notable Releases: 10/8-1014

And I'm late once again with this. So sorry about that. Anyway, here are this week's notable releases that are on my radar.:

MG/YA

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

LGBTQA contemporary involving theater. I'm in.








Rise of the Empress Book 1: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Fantasy debut I've heard really good things about. Please don't let me down, book. I want at least ONE good fantasy debut this year.






Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I'm pretty sure everyone and their mother knows this one is coming out. Green certainly doesn't need my help to promote his books. But in case you like forgot or something...

Berserker Book 1 by Emmy Laybourne

This one is promising me historical fantasy: western setting. I'm in.

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

New Stiefvater book! Yes! Also, yes, I am aware of those cultural appropriation claims going around about this book. But I can't help but notice that like what happened with Ramona Blue, those claims are made by people who just decided it was appropriation from reading the blurb. So sorry, I can't really take those claims very seriously.



Adult Fiction

The Power by Naomi Alderman

This has been out elsewhere for awhile now, but here in the US it is finally getting released and I've heard some damn good things and can't wait.







Non-Fiction

Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, Corruption, and Cover-Up of America's Greatest Unsolved Murder by Piu Marie Eatwell

I've heard about the Black Dahlia murder, but I confess...I don't particularly know what the story IS. So I'm rather interested in picking this one up.





A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo

Sounds like this one could be pretty inspiring.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Review Catch-up: Four mini-reviews of books I've Read Recently:

Okay, I"m way behind on book reviews. I meant to have more this past week, but time got away from me. So here are five quick reviews of some books I've read in the past two months:

TITLE: Lady Midnight
Book 1 in the Dark Artifices series
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare
PUBLISHED: 2016
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
THOUGHTS: Same old, same old from Cassandra Clare. Sorry guys, I don't see this amazing breakthrough people on YouTube kept saying this book was. This had literally the same plot points as Mortal Instruments had, down too beloved adult figure turning around and betraying them all.
But, we've established I'm trash for this series, so despite issues I have with it...I'll still read the next one. Curse my weakness.
WHO SHOULD READ: Die-hard Cassandra Clare fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

TITLE: The Refugees
AUTHOR: Viet Thanh Nguyen
PUBLISHED: February 7th, 2017
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Contemporary/Short Stories
THOUGHTS: Typical short story collection. Some better then others. I suspect there was some nuance in these stories that was lost on me though, because a lot of it focuses on issues in Vietnam and I don't particularly know much about that country (other then we had a war there, and whole lot of issues sprung up from that war). It has made me interested in picking up The Sympathizer though.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the author's book The Sympathizer
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

TITLE: Madly (called The Potions Diaries in the UK)
Book 1 in the Potions series
AUTHOR: Amy Alward
PUBLISHED: 2015
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy
THOUGHTS: Cute fantasy about a girl entering a potions contest. The writing is a bit juvenile so this probably geared more towards the younger YA crowd, rather then the older one. So if you know any tweens who love Descendants and are looking for something to read, I would absolutely give them this.
WHO SHOULD READ: younger teens, Descendents fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

TITLE: My Life, My Love, My Legacy
 AUTHOR: Coretta Scott King
PUBLISHED: January 17th, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Biography
THOUGHTS: Pretty typical biography. What was most interesting to me, was the peeks into the Civil Rights movement that we don't often see. Since she was the wife of MLK, King did get a front row seat into the planning that went on and in many cases during and after her husband's death, often organized things like marches and many other things she didn't get enough credit for.
WHO SHOULD READ: those interested in learning about civil rights history
MY RATING: Four out of Five

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Notable Releases: 10/1-10/7

Here are all the release from this past week. Apologies for no post last weekend, I unfortunately was very busy and couldn't post. Some potentially awesome books that came out that week include: There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins, The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo, Diviners 3: The Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (FINALLY), and Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Here are THIS past week's notable releases that you can probably expect me to be reviewing at some point.

MG/YA

The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

Sounds like this will be a good spooky one for fall.









Vanderbeekers Book 1: The Vanderbeekers of 141rst Street by Karina Yan Glaser

A middle-grade book that has been getting some buzz and sounds like it's going to be adorable.

Wild Beauty by Anne-Marie McLemore

I have a feeling this is going to be the book that comes in October's OwlCrate box. On one hand, I'm not a fan of magical realism, on the other hand...gorgeous cover is gorgeous so...I don't mind.

Magnus Chase Book 3: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

You all know I love Rick Riordan. Of course this book makes the list.

Devil's and Thieves Book 1 by Jennifer Rush

I remember enjoying Rush's Altered series and this sounds like it could be cool. Reviews aren't filling me with much confidence but as I've said in the past: I can't really put much stock into Goodreads reviews. I mean, there are people who will give one star ratings to a book just because that book is the start of a series and that person hates series. So yeah.





Nightside Saga 1: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

LGBTQA sci-fi book that looks like it could be cool. Again, the ratings on Goodreads are making me hesitate, but again...I don't particularly trust Goodreads reviewers that much...so yeah. We'll have to see about this one.







Adult Fiction

Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View by various authors

Short story collection celebrating Star Wars' 40th anniversary. It apparently is basically the movies, but told from the perspective of various side characters. I love shit like this and some of those names of authors have me very excited about this book.

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

Historical fiction that sounds like it could be interesting. I'm a little confused about why it's marketed as adult fiction though. From the summary, the main character is a teenager. So this should be in the YA section. But whatever. I've given up figuring out why marketers put things in what section.






Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

A short story collection that has been getting lots of buzz.

Their Bright Ascendency 1: The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

Fantasy LGBTQA book I've been hearing good things about. But there have also been accusations of racism against it so...yeah. I'm reading it, but also very wary. Which is why it will be a library read.







Non-Fiction

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Daughty

A book looking at how different cultures/countries bury their dead. It sound morbid, but also kind of fascinating.







Comics/Manga

New Superman Vol. 2: Coming to America
Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 2: Who is Artemis

Friday, October 6, 2017

Book Review: Talking as Fast as I Can

TITLE: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls and Gilmore Girls to Everything In Between
AUTHOR: Lauren Graham
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: November 2016
GENRE: Memoirs
PREMISE: Actress Lauren Graham talks about her life during the filming of Gilmore Girls, Parenthood and much more.
MY REVIEW: Celebrity memoirs are for a certain type of audience. Namely, it's for people who are fans of the person writing the memoir. If you are not a fan of the person in question, you more then likely aren't going to be picking this up at all. But I am a Lauren Graham fan and a huge Gilmore Girls fan (for the record, I am team Rory Needs to Work on Herself Before She Has a Boyfriend).
This was a pretty typical memoir. There's nothing really major revealed in it. It's a quick and easy read. I finished it in a day. The thing I most liked was the chapter where she watches through Gilmore Girls and shares some thoughts.
So if you are a Lauren Graham or just Gilmore Girls/Parenthood fan...pick this one up. If you aren't...you probably were never going to read this in the first place. From what I hear the audiobook is much better then reading it. Apparently Graham herself narrates it and does a really good job. So if you are inclined towards audiobooks, I'd try it that way.
WHO SHOULD READ: Lauren Graham fans, Gilmore Girl fans, Parenthood fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five fun memoirs

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Book Review: American War

TITLE: American War
AUTHOR: Omar El Akkad
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: April 4rth, 2017
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: A person recalls their life as the second American Civil War breaks out...
MY REVIEW: If you've been itching for some good dystopian after reading 1984 (yes, I know at least someone who reads this blog, read that book), might I suggest this one? This is yet another example of how the dystopian genre isn't dead.
This set up is if the more conservative states decided to succeed from the US again. Considering all the things happening nowadays...I honestly am not entirely sure this won't happen again in the future. The author cleverly lays out how it happened in between the main character's story with interviews, news articles etc. It's well written, it's not a chosen one fixes everything type of dystopian either, which was nice.
This is more of a character focused dystopian so there's not much action, but despite that it goes by fairly quickly. I'm impressed that this is the author's first book as well. He's apparently a reporter by trade (which explains the article angle of the book) and that definitely seems to have helped a lot. This was a damn good dystopian. I hope we see more books from this author in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Exit West, dystopian fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five well developed dystopian worlds

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review: Song of the Current

TITLE: Song of the Current
Book 1 in a new series
AUTHOR: Sarah Tolcser
PUBLISHED: June 6th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl gets caught up in a web of politics when she agrees to take cargo on her father's ship...
MY REVIEW: I'm...not particularly sure how I feel about this one if I'm really honest. I didn't really gain any real feelings about the book as I was reading it. It was one of those plots that move along at record pace and so I didn't particularly get anything out of the book.
As an entertaining fantasy, it does the job. Characters are okay. Setting is okay. Plot is okay. Everything is just...okay to me. There wasn't really anything to set it apart from any other fantasy I have read other then it was nice to have a biracial main character.
So yeah. This book is fine. No real problems with it. But...no huge attachment to it either. It's just...there. I might read the sequel though. It ended in an interesting place.
WHO SHOULD READ: those who like action packed fantasy, fans of The Girl From Everywhere series
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs

Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review: The Disappearances

TITLE: The Disappearances
AUTHOR: Emily Bain Murphy
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: July 4rth, 2017
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Magical Realism
PREMISE: A girl gets sent to a small town in the 1940s where people are losing things such as the ability to hear music.
MY REVIEW: This book is one of those many YA books that is a mixture of many genres. It's historical fiction first and foremost. But it's also mystery and also magical realism. Now, before you look at that magical realism part and go "oh, she hated it then", brace yourself: I actually didn't hate this one. Didn't love it. But didn't hate it either.
This is incredibly atmospheric, I highly recommend reading it for fall. It has a good spooky vibe to it. I will warn though: it's very slow. That's actually its major flaw, it takes way too long to get to the point. But I've noticed, that's kind of a thing with magical realism. There is some interesting stuff here. Character dynamics were great. People finding ways around the Disappearances was interesting. I just kind of felt the ending was...a tad anti-climatic.
So I have very mixed feelings. On one hand it's a good atmospheric historical mystery that's right up my alley. There are things to like about it. On the other hand: it's painfully slow and drags and I'm not sure the ending was really worth it. So...yeah, I say this is worth a library read to see if it's for you but that's about it.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical fiction fans, magical realism fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five spooky feeling books

Friday, September 29, 2017

Book Review: Exit West

TITLE: Exit West
AUTHOR: Mohsin Hamid
PUBLISHED: March 7th, 2017
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A man and women meet and start a romance when their country is on the brink of civil war.
MY REVIEW: I'm going to be very honest: I wasn't expecting much from this book. I tend to find most of these books that get nominated for all these literary prizes rather tedious. For instance, when I was reading this, I was also trying to get through Love in the Time of Cholera. Spoiler alert: I couldn't finish it, it was so boring (as well as sexist and it pushed the Nice Guy narrative). But I did not get that with this one. It was that rare literary book that was not only well-written, it was interesting.
I try not to compare books, but as I was reading this at the same time, I couldn't help but compare it to Love in the Time of Cholera. This book, was far superior. The characters don't make you want to scream, the romance is better, female characters are treated with more respect, there's actually a point to it and it doesn't drag on and on. This book was less then two hundred and fifty pages, but it managed to get in a story and character development ten times better.
In case its not clear, I loved this book. I will be rooting for this one and Underground Railroad come literary prize time (it's already made the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize!).
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Underground Railroad, Mohsin Hamid fans, literature readers
MY RATING: Four out of Five satisfied nods

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book Review: Freedom is a Constant Struggle

TITLE: Freedom is a Constant Struggle
AUTHOR: Angela Y. Davis
PUBLISHED: January 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Speech/Interview/Article collection
PREMISE: A collection of interviews/articles/speeches that Angela Y. Davis gave over the past few years.
MY REVIEW: I'm not terribly sure how to review this one to be honest. It's not really a book persay, it's mostly just a collection of speeches, or articles, or interviews that activist Angela Y. Davis gave in recent years. If you are a big Davis fan, this is a good one to have. If you aren't...you probably weren't going to seek it out in the first place.
There are a lot of interesting thoughts here. Reading this made me wish I could see her give these speeches in person. I wish they gave some sort of background on what the items were for exactly. Some I could figure out, but others such as the interviews, I did not.
This is a very short book. You can probably read it in less then a day. The speeches at least are well worth your time.
WHO SHOULD READ: Angela Y. Davis fans, those interested in the recent BLM protests
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting speeches

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

So You've Finally Read: The Hate U Give

Yes, I'm finally getting back to these. This week, I'm doing The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book has been everywhere (for damn good reason too!) and it just recently might have bumped up on your radar thanks to that author who tried to cheat her way onto the NYT best seller list.
If that got your attention, and you picked this up and you read it and loved it...here are some more books to look into afterwards:

Some fiction to read next:

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendon Kelly

I personally have not gotten to this one yet, but I have heard really good things (and its been nominated for a bunch of awards). It sounds like it'd be a good one to dive into if you want more books that make you think about current race relations.

Another one to read after this: The Boy in the Black Suit also by Jason Reynolds

This Side of Home by Renee Watson

This one deals with gentrification more then police violence, but from what I've heard it does go into cultural identity a bit like The Hate U Give touches on a bit.

Another one to read after: Piecing Me Together also by Renee Watson




Some Non-Fiction related books to read so you don't become a Hailey:

On Intersectionality: The Essential Writings of Kimberle Crenshaw by Kimberle Crenshaw

Hailey was pretty much a textbook example of White Feminist. To avoid that, I recommend reading up on intersectionality and why it's important. I'd start with Crenshaw.

One to read after: Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks



You Can't Touch My Hair: and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson

Robinson tackles everything from black hair to race in this hilarious memoir that I highly recommend.

One to read after: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay




Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

Dyson speaks directly to White Americans and deftly explains how yes, actually we do live in a racist world still. And even better, gives us tips on how to be better allies at the end.





Some Non-Fiction related books that touch more on some topics brought up:

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

If you have seen all the news footage featuring this month's cop who killed a black person and walked free, read this book and somehow still think the system is perfectly fair and totally not racist, read this book. If you still think that after reading this and all the stats in it...I don't think anyone can help you.




The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by various authors, edited by Jesmyn Ward

A fantastic essay collection from last year that touches on a lot of topics mentioned in The Hate U Give.






Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates talks to his son about race relations in this powerful memoir. Good one to read if you were confused about Starr talking about how Khalil wasn't following the rules of being pulled over by the police.