Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Review: The Cruel Prince

TITLE: The Cruel Prince
Book 1 in the Folk of the Air Series
AUTHOR: Holly Black
PUBLISHED: January 2nd, 2018
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A human girl forced to live among the fae, who despise humans, tries her best to survive and thrive there.
MY REVIEW: If you are around any sort of bookish communities, chances are you've heard of this one. It's been pretty much everywhere. I'm a little surprised that people are surprised at how good this is. It's Holly Black. She's pretty much queen when it comes to the fae. But hey, at least people are discovering her now. FYI, if you like this check out her older books. They're all just as good.
Now I don't think this is as mind-blowing as the hype machine is making it out to be. There are pacing issues and this is actually pretty usual stuff for the fae. It's also pretty usual stuff for Holly Black. To all the people saying this is something new and unique...sorry, no. Not so much. That doesn't stop it from being good though. It's damn entertaining, the world-building is fantastic, the characters are memorable and interesting.
I do think this is very good. I just don't think it's as good as people have been saying. But that seems to be my lot when it comes to hyped books. About the only ones I've agreed with the hype machine on is The Hate U Give and Harry Potter. I still really enjoyed this one though. But that's not surprising, I've always enjoyed Holly Black's books to some extent.
WHO SHOULD READ: Holly Black fans, fans of faerie books
MY RATING: Four out of Five excellent starts to a series

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Book Review: Halsey Street

TITLE: Halsey Street
AUTHOR: Naima Coster
PUBLISHED: January 1rst, 2018
GENRE: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A woman returns to her old street to help take care of her ailing father as the neighborhood goes through gentrification...
MY REVIEW: How much you like this book will depend on how much you can deal with flawed characters. I don't mind the flawed character stuff, I did however mind the cheating. Sorry, cheating is not something I'm into. At least here however, it comes and goes very quickly and isn't condoned. So I could deal with it, even if I didn't particularly like it.
The rest of the book I did mildly enjoy. It's a very slice of life type of story that goes into how gentrification can hurt the people who already live in the neighborhood. That aspect of it is very eye-opening. The character stuff was okay. There's a plot about an estranged mother that was good, but never seems to go anywhere until the very end.
For a debut this was rather good. I was reminded very strongly of Swing Time by Zadie Smith, though this book at least didn't have two main plots competing with each other. I do definitely see a lot of promising stuff here and will probably be picking up more of the author's books in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the book Swing Time, Americanah fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five very promising debuts

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower

TITLE: The Girl in the Tower
Book 2 in the Winternight Trilogy
AUTHOR: Katherine Arden
PUBLISHED: December 2017
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: Leaving where The Bear and the Nightingale left off, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and winds up helping to save Moscow...
MY REVIEW: I feel like The Bear and the Nightingale was one of those books that kind of came out of nowhere. I remember very little buzz when it came out, but then it slowly got all this good word of mouth and became a big thing and after reading it, I totally understand why. It's really good stuff.
This second book is also really good stuff. In fact, I think it's actually better then the first book. The plot doesn't waste time recapping things, it just goes full on and it's a wild and engaging ride from beginning to end. There are all sorts of things that happen with Vasya and you get to see more of Russia. It's just really good, guys. I don't want to give too much away, because a lot of it kind of spoils the ending of The Bear and the Nightingale.
If you loved the first book, I pretty much guarantee you'll like the second one. I can't wait to see how this all wraps up.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read The Bear and the Nightingale, epic fantasy fans, Tamora Pierce fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five great main characters

Friday, May 18, 2018

Book Review: Lab Girl

TITLE: Lab Girl
AUTHOR: Hope Jahren
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoir, Science
PREMISE: A woman talks about her life as a scientist.
MY REVIEW: This book helped me come to a realization: books dealing with science, kind of bore me. In the book's defense, I didn't realize this when I picked it up. I don't read science books as a rule. But reading this, I kind of realized this was what was going on and why I couldn't get into it.
I'm not blaming the book for my boredom. The author did try her best to make things interesting. I did like the look into how labs are run and why science is so damn expensive. I am impressed with her and other scientists who do this work. I don't think I could handle it, to tell you the truth. But, I was still just really bored while reading it.
So this is yet another it's not you, it's me sort of situation. If you really love science and want to know more about plant life and stuff like that, this book will absolutely be for you. But if you're like me and kind of don't really will probably bore you.
WHO SHOULD READ: people interested plant life, people who like science books
MY RATING: Three out of Five solid books that just aren't for me

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Modern Classic Review: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

TITLE: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
AUTHOR; Jeanette Winterson
GENRE: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A character tells about her life growing up and her complicated relationship with her very religious mother.
MY THOUGHTS: When reading this, I was reminded strongly of Rubyfruit Jungle. Probably very groundbreaking for its time, but nowadays...not so much.
The writing in here is great. There are lines in it that are hilarious and poignant. The characters are interesting. At least unlike Rubyfruit Jungle, it didn't constantly act if like you weren't living the life the character/author thought you should be, you were doing it wrong. It does do its job as a memoir like fiction book. It's just...these kind of books are all over the place in literary fiction. So I was kind of bored because it didn't particularly offer anything new.
But again: this is an older book. At the time it was written, this was considered new. So I totally understand how it became a thing when it was published. It's just one of those things, that maybe hasn't aged very well. It's still good. Just rather dated.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Rubyfruit Jungle, fans of Fun Home

Monday, May 14, 2018

Graphic Novel: The Prince and the Dressmaker

TITLE: The Prince and the Dressmaker
AUTHOR: Jen Wang
CATEGORY: Graphic Novel
PUBLISHED: February 13th, 2018
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Drama, Romanceish
PREMISE: A prince hires a dressmaker to make dresses...for them.
MY REVIEW: If there is one thing that first comes to mind about this graphic novel it is that the art is beautiful. The whole book is beautiful, actually. It's hardback, that cover really pops in it, and the art is gorgeous throughout.
Along with the gorgeous art, is a just plain adorable story. Sure, it wraps up neatly and a little too tidy. But sometimes, you just want a feel good story about people supporting one another. This book gives you that. Sure, Sebastian goes through crap in this to get their acceptance. But they get it eventually and it is beautiful when they do.
In short, I adored this one. It is a single story, so the entire story is in it. It's a really good one to read if you are new to this graphic novel thing. If you want a story that will just make you happy, I highly recommend this graphic novel.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical fiction fans, Lumberjanes fans, A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five graphic novels that just make you happy

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Book Review: If Beale Street Could Talk

TITLE: If Beale Street Could Talk
AUTHOR: James Baldwin
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A husband and wife try to figure out how to get him out of prison when she discovers she is pregnant.
MY THOUGHTS: This is the first James Baldwin book that I've read. I've been meaning to read him for years, but best laid plans and all. This was a random read. I had a few hours to kill at the library while waiting for someone, so I picked up a small book I could find and read it. This turned out to be that book. It is under two-hundred pages. You can read it in one sitting.
It is a short book that packs a powerful punch. As with most literature, it covers a lot of subjects: racism, prison, classism, family issues and so much. There is a lot in this under two hundred page book. As with most classics, the way it deals with women leaves something to be desired (there's a moment of abuse with a husband that basically gets dismissed by everyone. Not okay). But other then that, this was a damn good book. I definitely get why Baldwin is a thing.
I'll probably be picking up more Baldwin in the future. I don't know when exactly. But it will be soon.
WHO SHOULD READ: James Baldwin fans, contemporary fiction fans

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Book Review: Unearthed

TITLE: Unearthed
Unearthed Book 1
AUTHORS: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
PUBLISHED: January 9th, 2018
GENRE: Science Fiction
PREMISE: Two people get thrown together on an adventure in space...
MY REVIEW: I have...mixed feelings about this book. There's nothing really wrong with it. It is very much what it advertises: a space adventure with a dash of romance. It's just...there's not much difference between this and the author's other series, These Broken Stars.
It has the same type of plot: boy and girl on opposite sides of a conflict meet. Boy and girl wind up in life and death survival situation. Boy and girl fall for each other by the end. I honestly had a lot of deja vu while reading this. But it does have a slight difference in the end. It looks like the next book will not go into different characters, so it does look like we'll get a divergence of plot in the next one.
The book did do a satisfactory job of telling the story. There was decent character development, there was a decent plot. I will probably pick up the next book. I just can't ignore how similar this is to stuff the authors have written before.
WHO SHOULD READ: These Broken Stars fans, sci-fi fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five good, but familiar stories

Monday, May 7, 2018

Book Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza

TITLE: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
AUTHOR: Shaun David Hutchinson
PUBLISHED: February 6th, 2018
GENRE: Magical Realism, Sci-Fiish
PREMISE: Elena Mendoza grapples with the fact that she has healing abilities and many other strange things...
MY REVIEW: Okay, this review comes with a bias warning: I adore Shaun David Hutchinson's stuff. His books just speak to me for some reason. I freely give that they are weird and not for everybody. But they are for me and I haven't disliked a book of his yet. Though I will say the best of his is still We Are the Ants.
This book is very much like We Are the Ants. I would like to note, it looks like this takes place in the same world as At the Edge of the Universe as Tommy makes a brief appearance. There's all sorts of weird stuff going on. That weird stuff is balanced with personal things that the main character is going through and it is all done beautifully with a bit of humor thrown in.
Again, I warn, this will probably not be for everyone. You have to suspend a lot of disbelief with Hutchinson's books. If you want everything answered for you, these will not be your books. I don't think this is the best of Hutchinson's work (seriously, start with We Are the Ants first), but I still really liked it. But as I have said: I'm very biased about this author.
WHO SHOULD READ: Shaun David Hutchinson fans, magical realism fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five weird things going on

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Graphic Novel series Review: Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat

TITLE: Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat
AUTHOR: Kate Leth
ARTIST: Brittney L. Williams
Volumes: 1: Hooked on a Feline
2: Don't Stop Me-Ow
3: Careless Whiskers
PUBLISHED: between 2015 and 2017
GENRE: Superhero
PREMISE: Patsy Walker, fresh from returning from hell itself, tries to adjust to life again.
MY REVIEW: I started this series about a year or so ago after falling in love with the Jessica Jones TV show. Trish was my favorite, and this does involve her in...a slight way. Be warned, this Hellcat is very very different from TV Trish Walker (and yes, I have...feelings about what season 2 did with her. Lots of feelings. Not all of them positive). Honestly, if you're going to delve into the comics for any of the Defenders shows, just know they're all pretty different. Accept for Daredevil. He is as much of a disaster in the comics as he is on the show.
This series is a very light and fluffy series and honestly, I kind of love it for that. You don't need to have much comics knowledge going into it. It's pretty separate from the Marvel comics. You might want to know who some of the side characters such as She-Hulk or America Chavez are, but it is not necessary to understand the story.
This was a sadly short-lived series. Though really these days, a year and a half is a pretty good run for solo titles that are not A-listers like Captain America and such. If you're looking for a cute all-ages type of comic to dive into that doesn't require much vast knowledge of the Marvel universe, this is a good one to start with.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jessica Jones TV show fans, Marvel fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five cute series that I miss