Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review: The Book of Dust

TITLE: The Book of Dust
La Belle Sauvage Book 1
AUTHOR: Philip Pullman
PUBLISHED: October 19th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: In a prequel to His Dark Materials, Pullman takes us back to when Lyra was first born to show us how her world came to be...
MY REVIEW: So prequels can be a bit hit or miss with me. I don't mind them, if it actually turns out to be necessary to have them. If it's not necessary...just don't do it, okay? The Book of Dust....I don't think it was terribly necessary....but I also don't mind it.
This book is mostly helped by the fact that I just love Pullman's His Dark Materials world. Yeah, the books are slow. He's not subtle in his messaging. I don't care, they suit my taste. Whether or not you love this...will honestly just depend on what your feelings about His Dark Materials were. If you loved it, I guarantee you'll like this. If you were ho hum or just plain hated it...you probably weren't interested in this book to begin with.
I liked it, but I confess the one I'm really waiting for is the sequel. The sequel is going to take place ten years after the ending of the trilogy and give us adult Lyra. THAT'S what I want in my heart of hearts. I liked Malcolm, I did. But give me more Lyra please, author. She's a large part of the reason I adored His Dark Materials. She's what I'm here for.
WHO SHOULD READ: His Dark Materials fans, those who don't mind slow fantasy books
MY RATING: Four out of Five fantasy worlds I love

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Book Review: The Boy on the Bridge

TITLE: The Boy on the Bridge
Book 2 in the Hungry Plague series
AUTHOR: M. R. Carey
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Dystopian, Zombies
PREMISE: Set in the same world as The Girl With All the Gifts, this book gives us a different look at things....
MY REVIEW: Some of you may remember The Girl With All the Gifts from awhile back. It was a personal favorite of mine and surprised me because I usually find zombie things rather boring. Yes, even Walking Dead is boring to me. That show becomes less entertaining when you realize basically everyone is going to die eventually. Unless they come up with a miracle cure for zombies, that's pretty much the only way it can end.
Now this one was a bit interesting, but I sadly found it more along the lines of most zombie things: boring. At least for me. It is helped by Carey's great prose and character studies. But I was just not as invested in this one as I was with Girl With All the Gifts. I do think it was still good and a solid sequel/companion book. This is mostly just a me thing.
If you liked Girl with All the Gifts, you should like this one. As I said, me not getting into it was mostly just my thing. The book is solid. It's not you, Boy on the Bridge, it's me.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Girl With All the Gifts, zombie fans, Walking Dead fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five solid sequels

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: A Authors

So here's the first part of what I'm calling my big fat recommendation list. This is everything I've at least liked (so around three and a half stars or so and above) all in one place. I'll be doing it alphabetically to make things easier on everyone. So this part will be books by authors with names beginning in A, and then there'll be one for the letter b, and so on. I'll be putting a link list to everything over in one of the sidebars, so people can just click that in the future and find books. I'm providing a link to the books in question to Goodreads for anyone who wants more info on said books.
On categories: I'm basically dividing this up the way you would find it in your local bookstore/library. So there'll be a children's/middle-grade section, YA section, general adult section (that may be further divided up by genre), and a non-fiction section. All of these lists will be updated around every six months or so as I find new favorites.
Note: if there is not a book on here that you think should be on here it's probably because a) I have not read it yet so can't say for sure I recommend it or b) I have read it and did not like it and do not recommend it. Also, if there's a book on here that you've read and don't like, I'm sorry...I don't care.  These are MY personal recommendations. If you feel so strongly about it, feel free to make your own list.

Children's Books/Middle-Grade Books

Cam Jensen Mystery series by David A. Adler
American Girls series by various authors
Aesop's Fables by Aesop

Louisa May Alcott
-Little Women series
-Eight Cousins Books

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
Gilda Joyce series by Jennifer Allison
Animorphs series / Everworld series by Katherine Applegate
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

Young Adult Books

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Renee Ahdieh
-Wrath and the Dawn Duology
-Flame in the Mist Book 1

Becky Albertalli
-Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda
-The Upside of Unrequited

Crewel World Trilogy by Gennifer Albin
Bad Girls Don't Die Trilogy by Katie Alender
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali
Bound by Blood and Sand Book 1 by Becky Allen

Jodi Lynn Anderson
-Tiger Lily
-The Vanishing Season

Laurie Halse Anderson
-Speak
-Wintergirls
-The Impossible Knife of Memory
-Seeds of America Trilogy

Josephine Angelini
-Starcrossed Trilogy
-Worldwalker Trilogy

Kelley Armstrong
-Darkest Powers Trilogy
-Darkness Rising Trilogy

Mindee Arnett
-Arkwell Academy Trilogy
-Avalon Duology

Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Everneath Trilogy by Brodi Ashton

Adult Fiction Books

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
-Americanah
-Half of a Yellow Sun

American War by Omar El Akkad
Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

V.C. Andrews
-Dollanganger series
-Orphans series
-Wildflowers series
-Hudson series
-Shooting Stars series
-De Beers series

Mystery/Thrillers

Department Q series by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Bewitching Mystery series by Madelyn Alt
Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson

Romance

Jane Austen
-Pride and Prejudice
-Sense and Sensibility
-Emma
-Mansfield Park
-Persuasion
-Northanger Abbey

Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian etc.

Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
Winternight Trilogy Book 1: The Bear and the Nightingale  by Katherine Arden
Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

Isaac Asimov
-I, Robot
-Foundation Trilogy

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Non-Fiction

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
-We Should All Be Feminists
-The Thing Around Your Neck
-Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand
The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder edited by William Anderson
Harry, a History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon by Melissa Anelli
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book Review: Word by Word-The Secret Life of Dictionaries

TITLE: Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries
AUTHOR: Kory Stamper
PUBLISHED: March, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoir, slight micro-history
PREMISE: A person who works for Merriam-Webster gives you a behind the scenes look at how dictionaries get made.
MY REVIEW: Dictionaries. We all use them at some point in our lives. Some of us get really hung up on the definitions of things (bigots for example, LOVE to break out the dictionary and try to use it to show you how they are totally not bigots because of this random definition here!). But I never really quite realized how much work actually went into making those dictionaries. Until I read this book.
This book goes into the fine art of making dictionaries (or lexicography as it's actually called, something I also never knew until reading this). It delves into some history of dictionaries, goes into the author's own experience as a lexicographer, and makes lots of interesting points about language and whatnot.
The writing is witty and pretty engaging. It gets downright nerdy at times about arguing what is and is not a word. In short, it is a delightful memoir/micro-history that deals with dictionaries. I definitely am never going to look at my dictionary quite the same way again.
WHO SHOULD READ: writers, readers, people who are interested in history or like knowing things like how dictionaries are written
MY RATING: Four out of Five things I never thought of until now

Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Review: Who Fears Death

TITLE: Who Fears Death
AUTHOR: Nnedi Okorafor
PUBLISHED: 2010
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy/Dystopian
PREMISE: A girl discovers she has magic gifts and trains to eventually help save her people...
MY REVIEW: Nnedi Okorafor has been on my radar for some time. I just never really got to her until now and I have to say...I get it. I get why she's a thing. Her books are different. I know you're thinking "really? Because that premise sounds pretty generic to me".
But this book took the whole magical chosen one idea and kind of skewed it. It's much darker then most chosen one stories (which is probably why George R. R. Martin wants to adapt it for TV, this is totally his kind of thing). I will warn: there is rape in this story. There is threat of rape, there is violence, there are dark things in this. But it's all told wonderfully (and frankly handles the rape better then Game of Thrones does). Characters are interesting, and it's a very absorbing sort of book. But what really sold me was the ending. I was not expecting that ending at all. It's nice when authors surprise me.
So yeah, I am definitely a fan of this. I'd watch the TV show, but I don't have an HBO subscription. So, sorry in advance, TV show producers. But, I at least have a nice catalog of Okorafor's past books to go through, in place of that. I say this one was a great way to start off 2018.
WHO SHOULD READ: Game of Thrones fans, dark fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five surprise endings

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Notable Releases: 1/7-1/13

Here are this past week's notable releases. I'm hoping to get back into the swing of reviewing regularly this week. Last few weeks have been rather busy.

YA/MG

Unearthed Book 1: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman

I really enjoy Amie Kaufman's books. She has written a solo series (These Broken Stars) and has co-written others (Illuminae series for one) and they've been pretty solid. This one looks just as interesting as her other stuff.





Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Fantasy that looks rather interesting. It's promising sea goddesses, sad angsty boys, magic and all sorts of other things that are right up my alley. Also, the cover gets my pick for best strategically placed dress on a cover.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Contemporary book that has been getting lots of buzz. Remember back when I used to say contemporary is no longer my thing? Yeah...I don't think I can say this anymore, especially as a whole bunch of my favorites from last year were contemporary. Have I mentioned you guys should read The Hate U Give? Because you should read The Hate U Give, if you haven't already.




Adult Fiction

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

This book has been everywhere so I'm sure if you're in the internet book world, you know about it. I've been hearing really good things.







Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

This one promises me a dystopian mystery. I'm into stuff like that so I'll give it a look.


The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

This week's thriller offering. I'm already seeing a lot of buzz around this that reminds me of the buzz around other January thrillers like The Girl on the Train. I'm going to guess we're probably going to get a movie soon.

Wayward Children Book 3: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

My favorite series continues. I can't wait to read this one.







Perveen Mystery Book 1: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

This book interested me with its promise of 1920s mystery, it had me when it said it was set in Bombay. Yay for historical fiction set outside the US/UK for a change.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

Historical Fiction book that looks rather interesting. It promises gilded age family drama with murder and secrets.







Robots VS Fairies by various authors

First of many interesting looking short story collections out this year. This one has a bunch of heavy hitters from the SFF genre: John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire, Ken Liu etc.






Non-Fiction

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan

I've been having a weakness for essay/memoir type books lately. This one has been getting buzz.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Graphic Novel Review: The Giant Days series Vols. 1-5

TITLE OF SERIES: Giant Days
AUTHOR: John Allison
ARTIST: various
STARTED: 2015-still ongoing
Vols. 1-5 collect issues 1-20
PUBLISHER: Boom! Box
GENRE: Contemporary, Humor
PREMISE: Three girls navigate college together.
MY REVIEW: This series you guys. I picked this up expecting not much. I figured it'd be cute and that's about it. But I wound up loving the hell out of this series. Between this, Lumberjanes and Goldie Vance I think Boom! Box is well on its way to becoming a favorite comic publisher of mine.
This series is just plain delightful. It's a bit of a slice of life type of series where you follow Esther, Susan, and Daisy as they have romances, deal with things like finals, and have various campus dramas. There's an hilarious issue where they go to a world music festival. It sounds boring, but the humor and lovable characters really make it worth it.
If you are still new to this comic book thing and aren't sure where to start, this is a great starter series. Especially if you're a contemporary fiction fan.
WHO SHOULD READ: Lumberjanes fans, contemporary fiction fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five comics that just make you happy

Monday, January 8, 2018

Notable Releases: 12/31-1/6

Happy belated New Year! Here is the first Notable Release list of the year! There is a LOT of good stuff coming out in 2018 you guys. I know, like every year, there's no way I'm going to get through them all. But I can at least try, you know? In any case, here are the releases from this past week that are on my radar that you can expect to have a review of on this blog sometime in the (probably very far, at the rate I'm going) future:

YA/MG

Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet by various authors

Contemporary romance short story anthology where the theme is basically just meet cutes. This is going to be so freaking adorable, I think it'll be a nice one to read come February.

Folk of the Air Book 1: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I am here for basically anything Holly Black writes. I've been a fan for years and this latest book has me really excited because she's doing the fae again and she does the fae so well.I can't wait to read this one.





Faloiv Book 1: A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole

New sci-fi series that looks possibly interesting. Apparently this author has published before. But I guess her books really flew under the radar, this is the first I've heard of her.

Shadow Weaver Book 1 by MarcyKate Connolly

I've read a book by Connolly before and wasn't terribly impressed, but I believe in giving authors second chances (plus to be fair I read that when I was going through the stuff with my father and I wasn't really feeling many books during that time period). So I'm giving this new middle-grade fantasy a shot. It promises magic with shadows and I love stuff like that.



Green by Sam Graham-Felsen

The latest YA book to try and talk about race. We'll see how this one goes. I've seen mixed reviews.

Everless Book 1 by Sara Holland

Fantasy debut that looks rather interesting. Some sort of world where time is a currency and whatnot. I've been hearing good things about it so hopefully this will be good and 2018 will make up for a rather weak year of new YA fantasy reads in 2017. At least where debuts are concerned. Seasoned authors such as Marie Lu and Laini Taylor were great as usual. But among the debuts...there were only about one or two that stood out to me. The rest were just meh to just bad.

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

I actually really enjoyed the Wonder Woman book from last year. I can't wait to see teenage Bruce in all his teenage angsty glory.







You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Contemporary thriller thing. You all know I'm weak when it comes to mysteries.






Adult Fiction

Halsey Street by Naima Coster

Interesting looking family drama book that looks at things like gentrification and how that can effect family and people's lives.







Non-Fiction

The Curious History of Dating: From Jane Austen to Tinder by Nichi Hodgson

Looks like this one might be in the same vein as Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and if it is, it'll be a delight.





Monday, January 1, 2018

Book Review: The Language of Thorns

TITLE: The Language of Thorns
Part of the Grisha universe
AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo
PUBLISHED: September 26th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Leigh Bardugo tells original fairy tales that are told in the Grisha universe.
MY REVIEW: I have a very weird relationship with the Grisha universe. With the original trilogy...I admit...I enjoyed it but I also didn't really think much of it. It was just yet another fantasy trilogy. It was fine, but I didn't get super excited about it like I've seen others get over it. Now Six of Crows...that's another story. That duology I fell in love with. I think most of it was just overall improvement and much more interesting characters. Now I'm excited along with anyone else anytime a new book is mentioned.
First I want to talk about the packaging of this book, because holy crap is it beautiful. There are gorgeous illustrations throughout, the cover is gorgeous...it's just a very pretty book that will like very nice on the shelf, once I get my own copy. As for the stories themselves...I rather liked them. There were clear echoes of our fairy tales in them but Bardugo twisted them to suit the Grisha-verse and also subverted them more then a bit. The last tale that clearly is going into the back story of the evil sea witch in The Little Mermaid is my personal favorite.
If you've never read the Grisha books, you can actually read this. It doesn't involve plots from the series that much. You can just look at it as a retelling of fairy-tales and be good. For those of us who love the Grisha series, it's a great addition to the series. You won't lose anything if you don't read it at all...but these are some good fairy-tales so I recommend reading them.
WHO SHOULD READ: Grisha universe fans, dark fairy-tale fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five fabulous twisted fairy-tales

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Reading Goals and Some Plans For This Blog

So 2017 draws to a close. Thank god.

So...I have some ideas for the blog. The major thing that I want to do is to add a recommendation list. This will be one big giant list, in handy, alphabetical order, by author. I'll be doing it in posts and have a link sidebar somewhere so people will be able to just click and peruse my recommendations if they don't want to go through my huge review backlist. So keep an eye out for this. It'll be done over time, not all at once. I will also frequently update the list as I read more favorites.

Other ideas include new variations on book rec lists. We'll see how it goes there.

2018 Reading Goals:

1) Read at least one hundred books. I usually always start my number goal at one hundred because I usually make that goal. Around July I may look at it and what I'm reading and make the number higher.

2) Genre focus of the year: Poetry

So this year's genre/section that I want to focus on and really jump into is poetry. This is very much out of my comfort zone. I've never even taken a class on it. But I want to read it. So be prepared to see more poetry books and my awkward rambling as I try to figure out just what makes good poetry anyway....

Some poets/poetry books you can expect to see:

Sappho
Emily Dickinson's poems
Some of the epic poems such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
T. S. Elliot
Robert Frost
Dorothy Parker
Howl and Other Poems by Alan Ginsburg
Maya Angelou
Milk and Honey and some of the more modern poetry collections including some this year that look interesting.

3) Author focus of the year: The Bronte Sisters

This year, the author whose complete backlist I want to get through are the Bronte sisters. Now, I've read the two major ones: Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. But I haven't read any of the others, including Anne Bronte. So this year, expect to see a lot of the Bronte Sisters on this blog.

4) Read at least one play a month

I definitely want to continue reading plays as I enjoyed them a lot last year. Some I hope to get too this year include: The Crucible by Arthur Miller (no, never read this one in HS), A Streetcar Named Desire, Pygmalion, Our Town, Waiting for Godot and more.

5) Classics TBR List (that do not include the Brontes):

Beowulf
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavalli
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Candide by Voltaire
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Howard's End by E. M. Forester
Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Currently reading this one now as I actually meant to read it in 2017. Opps)
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (no, never read this one in HS/MG either)
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Watership Down by Richard Adams

Note: this list is subject to change as I'm fickle and life gets in the way.

And that's about it. Other then with classics I like to keep my TBR list open. I only make lists like these for classics because if I don't set a firm plan out...they never get read and I read fantasy all year long. Which is fine...but it doesn't get books off my list.