Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reading/Book Blog Goals for 2014

So another year comes to a close. I did manage to get some of my book goals done this year at least. Here are my new ones for 2014:

Book Blog Goals:
Be consistent with reviews. Some of you have probably noticed my funky posting as of late. Apologies. My work schedule got in the way these past few months due to the holiday season (the bane of retail workers everywhere). But it looks like it's going back to normal in January. Either way, I'm still going to try to be better about it.
I've decided that I'm no longer going to do reviews of single series books for things like UF. Particularly for long series. So instead of eight reviews of me going "yeah, I still like this series" for say The Elemental Assassin, you'll get one review for the whole series when I get caught up. Stuff like trilogies, I'll still review separately, but for series with more then five books, I'll probably just review the first book and then do one big review for the rest. Then of course, if the series is still ongoing, I'll review the new books as they come out.

Reading Goals for 2014:
Read at least 200 books. Two hundred seems to be what I average. So I think this is a more realistic goal for me.
Read four classics. I was bad about the classics this year (I only read one and I usually read at least 5). So I'm hoping to be better about it this year.
Get back into adult fantasy. This year I did adult urban fantasy. I feel I hit most of the ones that interest me. Now, I want to try and foray back into adult fantasy. I gave it up a bit due to getting more into YA and lack of creativity going on at the time. People assure me though, that there have been many awesome books as of late. So I'm going to try and get back into it.
Read the 2013 books I missed. Particularly Allegiant and Champion.
Try finishing up/get caught up on some of the adult urban fantasy series I started. Namely: The Hollows series, the Elemental Assassin series, Immortal Empire, etc.
Keep up on new releases. Now that I go to bigger library, this is more possible.
Authors/series to check in to this year: Sarah Dessen, the Gone series (no, I haven't read it yet), J. R. Ward (Black Dagger series).



Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Favorites/Least Favorites Wrap Up List

So 2013 was kind of up and down for me, book wise.
Some books were really awesome. Some were massive disappointments. Some really surprised me, to the point of changing my original feelings towards a series/author (in a positive way, which is always a good thing in my book).

Trends I Noticed this year:
More steampunk (which as a steampunk fan, makes me VERY happy).
More historical fantasy (ditto, my favorite genre)
More science fiction
Really awesome sequels.

Favorites List

Favorite New Series/Trilogy: Memory Chronicles series (or whatever the publishers have decided to finally call it ;has seen like three different names for it;) by Lenore Appelhans
Arkwell Academy series by Mindee Arnett (Nightmare Affair was SO underrated)
Goddess War series by Kendare Blake (another underrated one)
Finishing School series by Gail Carriger
Hex Hall series Spin-off: School Spirits Book 1 by Rachel Hawkins
The Dispossessed series by Page Morgan
Altered series by Jennifer Rush
The Archived series by Victoria Schwab
The Madman's Daughter Trilogy by Megan Shepard
Pivot Point series by Kasie West
The Fifth Wave series by Rich Yancey

Favorite Continuations (please note, this was hard because the sequels really blew me away this year, this was actually a narrowed down list and it's not that small...):
Grisha Trilogy Book 2: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Darkest Minds Book 2: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken
Lynburn Legacy Book 2: Unbroken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Heist Society Book 3: Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
Something Strange and Deadly Book 2: A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Lunar Chronicles Book 2: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Unraveling Book 2: Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris

Favorite Conclusions of a series/trilogy: Starcrossed Book 3: Goddess by Josephine Angelini (even if some of the twists were a complete one-eighty of characters)
Darkness Rising Trilogy Book 3: The Rising by Kelley Armstrong
Abandon Book 3: Awaken by Meg Cabot
Gallagher Girls Book 6: United We Spy by Ally Carter
Unearthly Trilogy Book 3: Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Across the Universe Book 3: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Favorite Standalones: Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Poison by Bridget Zinn
The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Favorite Old Books That I Finally Read This Year: A Curse Dark As Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
All the John Green (but particularly The Fault in Our Stars)
Inheritance Trilogy Book 1: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
Millennium Trilogy Book 3: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson
Song of Ice and Fire Book 4: A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin

Favorite Retellings: Woodcutter Sisters series by Alethea Kontis
Lunar Chronicles Book 2: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund (to be reviewed)
The Madman's Daughter Book 1 by Megan Shepard
Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub

Favorite Fantasys: City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster (underrated)
Grisha Trilogy Book 2: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Shadows by Robin McKinley
Poison by Bridget Zinn

Favorite Steampunks: Finishing School Books by Gail Carriger
Something Strange and Deadly Book 2: A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Stoker and Holmes Book 1: The Clockwork Scarab by Collen Gleason

Favorite Historical Fantasys: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown
Dispossessed Book 1: The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan

Favorite Dystopian: Legend Book 2: Prodigy by Marie Lu
The Fifth Wave Book 1 by Rick Yancey

Favorite Witch/Magic People Books: Lynburn Legacy series Book 2: Unbroken by Sarah Rees Brennan.
  Spellcaster Book 1 by Claudia Gray
Cahill Witch Chronicles Book 2: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Favorite Paranormal/Ghost Books: Goodnight Family Book 2: Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Legion series Book 1: Unbreakable by Kami Garcia
The Dead and the Buried by Kim Harrington
Ruined Book 2: Unbroken by Paula Morris
The Archived Book 1: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Favorite Fae/Faerie Books: The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa
American Fairy Trilogy Book 2: The Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel

Favorite Vampire Books: Blood of Eden Book 2: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (currently reading and am loving the hell out it)

Favorite Mystery Books: Also Known As by Robin Benway
17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Prep School Confidential Book 1 by Kara Taylor

Favorite Historical Fiction Books: Spirit's Princess Book 2: Spirit's Chosen by Esther Friesner
The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeymoon
His Fair Assassin Trilogy Book 2: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Favorite Realistic Fiction Books: Just One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Pretty-Girl 13 by Liz Coley

Favorite Urban Fantasy Books: Elemental Assassin series/Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep
Shades of London Book 2: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
Mind Games Book 1 by Kiersten White

Favorite 2012 Books I Missed But Finally Got to Enjoy This Year: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Seven Kingdoms Book 3: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Woodcutter Sisters series Book 1: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Least Favorites

Book I Wish Had Been Better: The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe-I had tried Smoke Thief but didn't get what the big deal was. Figuring maybe the YA series was better, I tried that. It wasn't. Have come to the conclusion that Abe just isn't for me. Which is a shame because dragons! In historical fantasy setting!
Several Adult UFs that I tried out but wound up shrugging at. I actually didn't even bother reviewing them here because I had very little to say beyond, "read this before. Same old."
Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black-So much potential. So many uses of the familiar and tired cliches.
Poison Princess by Kresley Cole-Yet another popular author I can't get into.

Books That Make Me Question the Popularity Game Hard: Matched Book 3: Reached by Allie Condie-Most boring and predictable conclusion of a dystopian I've ever read. I don't get why people like this trilogy so much, I really don't. Clearly, I'm missing something.
The Magicans by Lev Grossman-Dull and pretentious as hell. Seriously, why did people rave about this so much? Better than Harry Potter my butt.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn-I'm sorry I can't get into books where every character is a jerk. I'm funny that way. I could maybe forgive it if the story was good, but no, it was rather predictable as well. No, I don't count the horrible makes-no-sense ending as a twist. Sorry.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Review: Blythewood

TITLE: Blythewood
Book 1 in a series?
AUTHOR: Carol Goodman
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Historical Fantasy, Faeries
PREMISE: A girl goes to a mysterious boarding school full of secrets.
MY REVIEW: This is yet again, a book that with a lot of polishing/editing, could have been ten times better then what it was. Instead, what we get was a trope ridden, cliche, mess of a book.
Because man, were there tropes in this. Girl with power she can't explain? Check. Mother who has secrets from her daughter? Check. Mysterious guy showing up just in time to save her and becoming love interest? Check. Mean rich girl? Check. Plots that somehow only girl can solve despite there being tons of competent adults around? Check. Magical boarding school? Check. So on and so forth. Everything here was so damn predictable. There was even a forced love triangle. The purple prose writing, did NOT help matters.
All in all, it added up to a dull, overly long, and predictable book. The ending leaves me to believe that the author is planning a sequel of some kind. If there is, she's going to have to step it up a notch to keep people reading.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those who don't mind cliche after cliche
MY RATING: Three out of Five I've seen this plot before feelings

Book Review:Hero

TITLE: Hero
Book 2 in the Woodcutter Sisters series
AUTHOR: Alethea Kontis
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy, Adventure
PREMISE: Saturday gets her own adventure as she seeks to fix a mistake she made...
MY REVIEW: So I finally got around to reading Enchanted about a month or so ago (I'm slow like that) and fell in utter love. It was fun and quirky, just how I like my fairy tale retellings.
Hero is very much more of the same, but this time it's centered around my favorite Woodcutter Sister: Saturday. It was just as enjoyable and fun as I hoped it would be. Also, we finally get an entrance from Jack Woodcutter.
The next book is going to be about Friday. Just like this one, I can't wait.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Enchanted, Fairy-tale retellings/mash-up fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five kick ass girls with swords

Book Review: The Burning Sky

TITLE: The Burning Sky
Book 1 in the Elemental Trilogy
AUTHOR: Sherry Thomas
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy, Adventure
PREMISE: Iolanthe gets mixed up into politics when her elemental powers get discovered.
MY REVIEW: You ever have one of those books where you wish you could give it a higher rating, but can't really because of quality level? This is me and Burning Sky. On one hand, it's awesome having more fantasy. I always want to give fantasy authors extra points because coming up with fantasy worlds is freaking HARD. Seriously, try it sometime, it's hard. I am working on one right now and I haven't even begun the actual writing part of the story and I started about six months ago (hence why my reviewing here has been funky as of late).
But...this is a very paint by numbers sort of fantasy? The writing is...average and does a lot of telling instead of showing. A lot of the things that happen are things I've seen done in other fantasy books (complete with the girl passing as a boy in a boys school). Characters weren't terribly complicated. Stuff was... predictable if you've read a lot of fantasy. Maybe stuff will ramp up in book two but honestly this one was a bit...dull, I'm sorry to say. It doesn't help that it drags in the middle. I'm pretty sure you could have cut a hundred pages and nothing would have been lost.
It saddens me, because I have a feeling this could have been much better if there had been more editing/polishing of the story. Unfortunately, taking time with stories seems to be a thing of the past in the publishing world.
WHO SHOULD READ: fantasy fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five elemental powers


Book Review: Unbreakable

TITLE: Unbreakable
Book 1 in The Legion series
AUTHOR: Kami Garcia
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
PREMISE: A girl's life changes when she is haunted by a ghost.
MY REVIEW: First off, I'll state the first question everyone is probably asking about this book: No. It's not as good as Beautiful Creatures. But, it's not horrible. I enjoyed it quite a bit despite the fact that it was a little too similar to Supernatural for my taste. How similar, you ask? Well, you could change one or two things in it, and this basically could be a book set in the Supernatural world about another group of hunters. That's how similar they were. This just doesn't have Supernatural's problem with female characters.
So I can't exactly give this one many points for originality. But at if you're going to do a rip-off, you should at least make it enjoyable and Garcia certainly did that. While there were several tropes here, I could have done without (forced love triangle with the brothers for instance), for the most part I got a kick out of this. I went into it wanting just a fun romp with ghosts and a fun romp with ghosts was what I got.
So original, this book is not. But it is at least a fun unoriginal book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Supernatural fans, Beautiful Creatures fans, Anna Dressed in Blood fans, paranormal fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five ghost traps

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book Review: Just One Year

TITLE: Just One Year
Book 2 in the Just One Day Duology
AUTHOR: Gayle Forman
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Realistic Fiction, Romance
PREMISE: So why did Willem not meet Lulu? Well, here's why.
MY REVIEW: As most of you know, contemporary romance isn't normally my thing. I have nothing against it. I know it can be done well. It's just normally, I just find it hard to care. Because normally, most contemporary romance is predictable. Especially YA contemporary romance.
But not Forman and especially not with this set of books. Forman takes all the expected tropes and chucks it out the window. It's not often where a contemporary romance doesn't end up where I totally expected it too, but this one did. For that reason, I can understand why this one didn't make too many people happy. There's this expectation sometimes that the main couple they want will of course wind up together in the end. This one says, why? Why should that automatically be the case? Personally, I loved that, and am thus one of the few who doesn't mind the ending.
This one is maybe not as engaging as Just One Day. But it's nothing really to do with the ending. It's more to do with the wandering plot and I honestly just don't like Willem as much Lulu. But it is nonetheless refreshing to read a contemporary romance that doesn't go the expected route.
WHO SHOULD READ: Just One Day fans, Gayle Forman fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five kissing couples


Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

TITLE: The Cuckoo's Calling
Book 1 in the Cormoran Strike series
AUTHOR: Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowing)
PUBLISHED: April 2013
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A PI gets called to investigate the apparent suicide of a famous model.
MY REVIEW: Back in April this book had a quiet release. Mystery buffs were gushing over it and it was getting good reviews, making good sales, and was being optioned for movie/tv (not sure which). Then shit hit the fan when people discovered that actually Robert Galbraith was in fact JK Rowling. People were confused. Why would she do such a thing?! Then there were those who acted like she somehow "tricked" them (to which I say HUH?). I said it in my review of Casual Vacancy and I'll say it here: the backlash pretty much shows WHY she wrote it under a different name. She basically proved that you dear readers, have author bias. That author bias effects how you think or feel about a book. Perhaps instead of getting upset at Rowling, you should maybe think about why you would not have picked up this book, or enjoyed it, if you had known she wrote it beforehand.
Now, as for the book itself? It's good. It's very old school PI mystery. Which is good, because I like that sort of thing. Sometimes it does wander. I think some of the middle bits could have been cut without missing a thing. But for the most part, it's a good old school detective sort of story with Rowling's usual great commentary on social issues.
I sort of wish that lawyer (or whoever he was) had kept his mouth shut because there's so much here to discuss other then the fact that Rowling wrote this under a different name. But sadly, now that the cat is out of the bag, that is likely all that will be discussed about this book. Not the stuff about racial issues, not the class issues, not even the fact that the main character has a disability and still manages to have a life. Nope. Mostly people will discuss about whether this is as good as Harry Potter. This makes me kind of sad. Also, that right there, is probably another reason Rowling wrote under another name.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mystery fans, those willing to give something Rowling wrote an actual chance and NOT compare it to Harry Potter
MY RATING: Four out of Five snarky PIs




Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review: Entangled

TITLE: Entangled
AUTHOR: Amy Rose Capetta
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Science Fiction, Adventure
PREMISE: A girl's life changes as she learns she was created in a lab.
MY REVIEW: This was a interesting little read. I mostly picked it up because 1) The awesome cover. Kudos cover artist. and 2) There's not much straight up sci-fi in YA (though that has been changing these past few months).
Like I said, this one was interesting. It was mostly about Cade's personal journey and her making connections with people and honestly, it was kind of refreshing reading a story that was mostly about friendship. Some things about it could have used a little work. Such as rushed pace. But mostly, it was an enjoyable read.
This one isn't what I would call a must read though. It was fun and cute but that was about it. Mostly it was just nice for me because it wasn't the usual stuff you find in YA nowadays and I always try to give props to authors who do different things because I appreciate when authors try to break the mold and there needs to be more of that in YA.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those looking for books that aren't strictly about romance, sci-fi fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five guitars

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: Never Fade

TITLE: Never Fade
Book 2 in the Darkest Minds series
AUTHOR: Alexandra Bracken
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Dystopian/Urban Fantasyish
PREMISE: Ruby gets involved in the one organization she shouldn't in order to find Liam.
MY REVIEW: This series is one of the more interesting dystopians to come about in the recent year or so. I honestly hesitate to even call it dystopian sometimes because there's a bit of urban fantasy in it as well.
But whatever genre it is, it is a great ride. Bracken deftly mixes plot, intrigue, character stuff, and romance and never sacrifices one for the other. If you read YA you know this is a rare thing. Now, I will warn, if you're the squeemish kind, this series probably won't be for you. There's violence, cursing, and bad things happening to children. Basically, if you had trouble getting through Hunger Games, I wouldn't try this because this is like Mockingjay times ten and Bracken doesn't shy away from cursing.
However, if you don't mind the dark stuff and loved the first book, definitely check out the sequel. I actually think the sequel is a bit better then the first. This is yet another great sequel to a great first book from last year. I'm going to have a hard time choosing the best sequel of the year this year, they've been that good.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Darkest Minds, Hunger Games fans, dystopian fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five potty mouth girls with guns (guess who was my favorite in the book?)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New to Me Authors I read in 2013

This is a weekly meme hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten New to Me Authors I Read in 2013:

1) John Green-This year I finally read all of the John Green. While I may not hold him as high up in quality as the literature crowd (his stuff is enjoyable for sure, but hardly groundbreaking), I am happy I finally read his stuff and I look forward to his next book.

2) Alexandra Bracken-I discovered the Darkest Minds series earlier this year instead of last year and I'm so happy I did. It proves that the dystopian is not totally dead. There are still new things to do with it.

3) Ruta Sepetys-No, I didn't read Between Shades of Gray, but I did read her latest, Out of the Easy and thought it was really good. I will probably be checking out Between Shades of Gray next year.

4) Rick Yancey-Yancey has actually been writing books in YA for awhile. But he made a breakthrough this year with The 5th Wave which is another book that proves the Dystopian genre can still have some good stuff in it.

5) Alethea Kontis-I finally read Enchanted a month or so ago and Hero is in my current batch of library books. I'm in love with this adorable retelling series.

6) N. K. Jemisin-I picked up Hundred Thousand Kingdoms because one of the websites I frequent was reading it and I'd never heard of it. I'm so glad I picked it up. It's one of the most interesting adult fantasy books I've read in awhile. I will be reading the second as soon as possible (meaning next year).

7) Juliet Blackwell-Cozy mystery author who writes a series about a witch solving murders that is so much fun.

8) Stephen Chbosky-Yes, I finally read Perks of Being a Wallflower this year. Granted, I wasn't as into it as a lot of people are but I think Perks is one of those that is best read when you're actually a teenager. I'm sure my teenage self would have related to it much more then my current adult self (especially as I went to high school in the nineties like the characters in this book).

9) Barry Lyga-Like Yancey, Lyga has been around for a bit. But he had a breakthrough last year with his book I Hunt Killers which I finally read this year and enjoyed quite a bit despite some reservations about it. Hopefully I'll be reading the sequel soon.

10) Megan Shepard-Hangman's Daughter was one of my favorite debuts of the year. I can not wait for the sequel, which comes out next month.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

TITLE: Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer
AUTHOR: Katie Alender
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Mystery, Paranormal
PREMISE: A girl travels to Paris just as people are being beheaded by a serial killer.
MY REVIEW: I confess, I was very disappointed in this one. I had read the Bad Girls Don't Die series and really enjoyed it. It was silly, yes, but it was sort of a self-aware silly that had some great social commentary squeezed into there as well. So I was expecting more of the same here.
Unfortunately...the author went a different route then expected and while sometimes that can be a good thing (such as The Dark Unwinding series), in this case...it was not. It was more of a disappointment. From the cover/summary I was expecting a awesome mystery about Marie Antoinette who goes around beheading people. Instead, this is more about Colette and her annoying friends. Which, okay. I could get behind a book saying being popular isn't everything under the sun. But this one did it in a particularly condescending way. Especially where Hannah was concerned. God, what a two-dimensional character Hannah was. Literally she was just there for the reader to hate on. She had no real use whatsoever other then to say "don't be like this girls! Being like this is bad!"
Then there's the fact that, Colette is just plain unlikable. Even after she gets the whole "lesson about popularity" thing. Then there's the apologetic attitude towards Marie Antoinette herself which drives me nutty. Yes, Marie was handed a raw deal politically (she didn't exactly ASK to be queen of France). No, she wasn't AS bad as people said. But...she was still bad. She still was responsible for a lot of crap. To wave away all she did and say the peasants were just being unfair about her and using her as a scapegoat...um no. That shows a complete lack of understanding about what was going on during that time period. Yeah, sorry, the peasants had every right to revolt and be mad at her. I may not be into the painting Marie as a heartless villain thing that history likes to do, but I'm also not into the excusing all the bad stuff because people were "unfair" to her thing that Marie sympathizers like to do either. This book did that a LOT and I could tell that was mostly author opinion and not actual use of facts/research/character opinion.
There were some good things about it. The mystery was entertaining. The descriptions of Paris were nice. I liked Audrey. But this ultimately wound up being not as awesome as it could have of been.
WHO SHOULD READ: Katie Alender fans
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five could have been better sighs

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review: Hereafter

TITLE: Hereafter
Book 2 in the Shadowlands Trilogy
AUTHOR: Kate Brian
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Paranormal, Mystery
PREMISE: Rory must now deal with the consequences of knowing the truth about her hometown.
MY REVIEW: This series is kind of a guilty pleasure for me. It's not totally original. There are funky messages throughout it. Writing...is passable but nothing to brag about. But it's just intriguing enough, that I keep reading despite its faults.
I do sort of like the set up here. The author is sort of decent at building up intrigue. I say sort of because a couple of things were pretty obvious from the start. I mean, was ANYONE surprised about mean girl who hated Rory for no apparent reason being one of the culprits? Anyone? Didn't think so. Subtlety is not this series strong suit, but it manages to get the job done just enough to keep you reading.
This series is what I call a good library read. It gets you your paranormal fix, but it's not something I would spend money on.
WHO SHOULD READ: Kate Brian fans, Paranormal fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five obvious villains being obvious

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book Review: The Dark Between

TITLE: The Dark Between
AUTHOR: Sonia Gensler
PUBLISHED: August 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Historical Fantasy, mystery
PREMISE: Three teenagers get drawn together in a mystery.
MY REVIEW: I don't really have much to say about this one, to be honest.
It had its good things (historical details, interesting idea) and its bad things (obvious romantic shenanigans, usual YA tropes, typical YA characters). So it made for a interesting but ultimately predictable read.
I'd recommend this to historical fiction readers more than paranormal readers though. The paranormal stuff was there, but it played a really tiny role in the overall plot.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical fiction fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five ghosts

Book Review: A Spark Unseen

TITLE: A Spark Unseen
Book 2 in the Dark Unwinding series
AUTHOR: Sharon Cameron
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Steampunk, Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: Katherine's life gets complicated as people come after her Uncle's machine...
MY REVIEW: Dark Unwinding was one of those underrated books of 2012. It wasn't marketed heavily. It wasn't the usual steampunk, with something happening every page. It was quieter. So, it got overlooked. Which is a shame because I enjoyed it quite a bit.
A Spark Unseen continues that not going the expected route. This one does suffer a bit from sequel syndrome but the ending leaves me to believe we're getting to the good stuff in the next book. I also wouldn't read it purely for romance, because, romance isn't a huge factor here. It's there (and enjoyable) but a large part of this series is focused on Katherine's journey. Which I confess, is part of why I like the series. It's rare to get a YA series that is mostly focused on the main characters personal journey. Usually, that takes the backseat to romantic shenanigans or adventure.
But going against usual story tropes means this series won't be everyone's cup of tea (hence all the mixed reviews on Goodreads). But if you're willing to give this series a shot, I totally encourage you to do so.
WHO SHOULD READ: Dark Unwinding fans, steampunk fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five clockwork devices

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR List

This is a weekly meme hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR List

For my sake, I narrowed this down to books from now until the end of February and not counting the books I already have that are waiting to be read (aka Coldest Girl in Cold Town, Dream Thieves, Battle Magic, Curties and Conspiracies, and A Dance of Dragons. I'll get to you guys soon, I swear).

1) Starters series Book 2: Enders by Lissa Price-Released Jan. 7th-Do you know how long it's been since Starters? Well over a year. Which is kind of mean considering where it left off.

2) Archived Series Book 2: Unbound by Victoria Schwab, Released Jan. 28th-I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Archived was one of 2013's underrated books of the year.

3) Under the Never Sky Trilogy Book 3: Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi-Released Jan. 28th-Can't wait to see how this one ends!

4) Madman's Daughter Trilogy Book 2: Her Dark Curiousity by Megan Shepherd-Released, Jan. 28th-Madmen's Daughter was another underrated book of 2013 (though thankfully slightly more read then The Archived). I can't wait to see how the author ties in Frankenstein to an already awesome series.

5) Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge-Released Jan. 28th. Fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Bring it.

6) Lunar Chronicles Book 3: Cress by Marissa Meyer-Feb. 4rth-You all are probably sick of hearing me whine about how much I have to wait for Cress so I'll spare you.

7) Altered series Book 2: Erased by Jennifer Rush, Released Jan 7th-Altered was a pleasant surprise for me. I wasn't expecting much from it, what with the half naked guy on the cover and the cheesy sounding summary, but this is one of the many cases where poor packaging sometimes hides a awesome book. Not to say it doesn't have its cheese, but it's fun cheese.

8) Pivot Point series Book 2: Split Second by Kasie West-Pivot Point was another pleasant surprise from this year. I hope the sequel is just as fun as the first one was.

9) Defy by Sara B. Larson-Released Jan. 7th-New one about a girl disguising herself as a boy and joining the royal guard. I'm a sucker for those kinds of books. Blame the Tortall series, which I'll be judging this book by, so be warned author.

10) Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick-Released February 27th.-Historical fantasy taking place in Russia during the time of the Romanovs. Hells yes.

Book Review: Gone Girl

TITLE: Gone Girl
AUTHOR: Gillian Flynn
PUBLISHED: 2012
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A woman goes missing and her disappearance brings out all sorts of dirty little secrets.
MY REVIEW: Dear Best Seller List: well, here we are again. This is yet another book you swore to me up and down was spectacular, oh so suspenseful, wonderfully written, etc. etc. ;insert hyperbole here; Once again, I am stuck asking: did we read the same book? Because...yeah, I don't get it. Which doesn't always mean anything. Sometimes there are books that are good that are just not for you. I don't like Wuthering Heights all that much but Wuthering Heights is beautifully written and I totally understand why it became a classic. It's just that self-absorbed, star-crossed lovers, who suffer due to their own stupid actions aren't really my thing.
But see, this is a mystery! That's totally my genre! I should love this. But...I kind of hated every minute of it. I get it author, people are horrible to each other, including to their spouses. If you thought this was brand new information and you were being revolutionary, you really weren't. But hey, I can deal with horrible characters if maybe the plot is decent. But alas...this is predictable mystery du jour that ends pretty much how I predicted it would when stalker guy was mentioned early on. On top of that, this was an extremely judgmental book. It judged EVERYONE. But it was especially harsh on women to the point of being vaguely sexist. Considering this was written by a woman, that's mildly disappointing.
I just don't understand at all how this became a best seller? The writing isn't that great. There's nothing really engaging about the story. It's predictable as hell (aside from that makes no sense ending) and made me eye twitchy as I read it. Why on earth do people like this so much? To the point that there's going to be a movie next year? I just...don't understand the book world sometimes.
WHO SHOULD READ: Gillian Flynn fans, uh...if you want to I guess
MY RATING: Two out of Five characters I want to strangle

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book Review: Untold

TITLE: Untold
Book 2 in the Lynburn Legacy series
AUTHOR: Sarah Rees Brennan
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, witches/wizards
PREMISE: The residents of Sorry in the Vale try to rise up against Rob, with consequences for all.
MY REVIEW: Unspoken was one of my top reads last year so I expected big things from the sequel. Boy did Brennan deliver, continuing the awesome sequel/continuation trend that has been going on in 2013.
Brennan swiftly brings you back to Kami and crew and doesn't stop from where she left off. There's loads of plot developments/twists that both make me squee with delight (such as the gang all hanging out together and trying to deal with this stuff) and moan in despair (damn Lynburns. Just...damn them). All of it is done with that delicate balance of feels and humor that Brennan has that has made me love her stuff so much.
In short, this was a excellent sequel. I am already pining for the next book and I have a year to wait. Damn it all.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read Unspoken, Sarah Rees Brennan fans, Mortal Instruments fans (this is like MI but ten times more better handled)
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five evil cliffhangers (no seriously, EVIL)

Book Review: Relic

TITLE: Relic
Book 1 in The Books of Eva Trilogy
AUTHOR: Heather Terrell
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy/Dystopian
PREMISE: Hoping for answers, a girl takes her brother's place in a dangerous game...
MY REVIEW: Okay YA summary authors, please repeat after me: I will not try to make a reader think this is going to be anything like Game of Thrones ever again. Because seriously, no YA series is ever going to be like Game of Thrones because Game of Thrones is adult fiction. It can go where YA can't because...honestly I'm still a little fuzzy on the rules that YA seems to have upon itself but I just know that there's very little chance of any YA series matching Game of Thrones when it comes to bloodshed/what the hellness/etc. Promising me that this book will do that, is basically setting me up for disappointment. This is like the third YA book I've tried that promised me Game of Thrones for YA and failed to deliver. That isn't even going into the fact that this has NOTHING to do with Game of Thrones. I can sort of see the Hunger Games comparison. But where the hell did the Game of Thrones comparison come in? Have you people even READ Game of Thrones? Because it's got nothing in common with this. At all.
Honestly...this book isn't even Hunger Games league. It's got its moments but there are so many plot holes that I just couldn't get into it. It also relied on the usual YA tropes: love triangle, girl being able to do everything magically, etc. Also, don't get me started on the rampant sexism in the society. I'm sorry but if you're going to have deep sexism that is totally accepted like this in a future society, you better give me a damn good reason for it. There wasn't any reason given. It was just there. Why? Who knows. I do know it made me side-eye the author hard.
All of this combined with flat characters and a very predictable plot made for a rather boring book. I probably won't be reading the rest.
WHO SHOULD READ: Hunger Games fans looking for lulz
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five sighs

Book Review: Bad Girls Don't Lie

TITLE: Bad Girls Don't Lie
AUTHOR: Jennifer Shaw Wolf
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A girl looks into the death of her best friend.
MY REVIEW: This review will be short because I don't have much to say about this book.
It was a typical YA murder mystery. Some things were good. Most were average. It wasn't terrible. But it didn't blow me away either.
So...it's okay. You could do worse. It's good for if you're looking for a murder mystery. But that's about all I can say about it.
WHO SHOULD READ: Murder mystery fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five shrugs

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book Review: Two Lies and a Spy

TITLE: Two Lies and a Spy
Book 1 in the new Two Lies and a Spy series
AUTHOR: Kat Carlton
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A girl's parents go missing and it's up to her and her friends to find them. Only they are spies who according to their government are traitors.
MY REVIEW: I'm a little conflicted about this one to be honest. I really like the IDEA of it. I get the feeling the author was going for a Gallagher Girls vibe and was hoping to snag those of us who were missing the series already (Bex! Macy! Come back to me!). However...it doesn't have the wonderful effortless feel that series does.
Sometimes there are these series that just feel like the author is trying too hard to be cool and edgy and that's what I get from this. Only instead of actually being cool and edgy, the book came off like a immature teenager trying too hard to fit in. There was much name dropping, there was teen-speak, etc. While there are some funny moments in it, the characters/dialogue aren't nearly as engaging as some other books (like say Percy Jackson for example).
I liked the concept. There is enough there with the parents where I may be reading the next one. But...it's a bit amateurish.
WHO SHOULD READ: Gallagher Girls fans (who don't mind a slightly lower quality book)
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five teen spies

Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Review: The Magicians

TITLE: The Magicians
Book 1 in the Magicians series
AUTHOR: Lev Grossman
PUBLISHED: 2009
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, witches/wizards
PREMISE: A guy gets into a magic school but learns that magic isn't all it's cracked up to be.
MY REVIEW: Does everyone remember when this book came out? I do and the way everyone billed it as "like Harry Potter but actual literature" was a honest turn off for me so I avoided it like the plague. I'm sorry I hate it when literature snobs latch onto a book and use it to bash a popular book and act like that book is better. Especially as usually the book in question is actually quite boring and tends to be condescending to the very readers it tries to aim itself at. I'm sorry I don't understand the whole "oh it's fantasy but it's LITERARY fantasy" type of deal. Just because something is literary, that does not automatically mean it's going to be better. Literature is a certain way of writing a book. It does NOT MEAN "automatically better then everything else". I wish book snobs would get that through their heads. Okay, I'm done. I swear.
Unfortunately that attitude is kind of what this book has. It has that whole air of trying way too hard that most of these critically acclaimed books tend to have. It doesn't help that none of the characters are remotely interesting or even really likable in any way. No, I don't think characters HAVE to be likable. But you better give me something or at least some reason for why your character is the way they are. I see absolutely NO reason for Quenten's behavior. He even says there's no reason for him to be miserable! He just is. I'm sorry, but I have zero patience for characters like that. That's like ninety percent of why I loathed Twilight.
On top of the unlikable and boring characters, the plot itself was just plain boring. I got what the author was doing with it: magic doesn't solve everything. Which, yes. But you can come up with more interesting ways to do that message. I can name several YA book series and adult series that do this same message but in much more entertaining ways. But I guess since they aren't "literary" they don't count or something.
To be frank, I didn't like it. I got what it was doing. The writing was pretty.But honestly, I thought it was just average. Certainly not at all worth the hype that surrounded it when it first came out. It's a shame too, because Lev Grossman himself is kind of awesome sounding in interviews. I guess this is a case of liking a author's personality more then their books. Usually it's the other way around for me (love the books, don't like the author ;cough;His Dark Materials;cough;).
WHO SHOULD READ: Um...not sure. Literature fans?
MY RATING: Three out of Five yawns

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Book Review: United We Spy

TITLE: United We Spy
Book 6 in the Gallagher Girls series
AUTHOR: Ally Carter
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Mystery, Adventure
PREMISE: Cammie and her friends are in their senior year of school. But graduation seems far away when people are constantly trying to kill you...
MY REVIEW: It's always a bit bittersweet to say good bye to a series. Especially when it's one I've loved as much as Gallagher Girls. It was one of the first ones I tried out for this blog (god, has it really been almost three years now?!) and I've been in love with it ever since.
When a series ends, you're pumped, because you finally get answers. You get closure for your favorite characters. If a author does it right, endings can be pretty big too (STILL not over Deathly Hallows or Mockingjay). But it's also sad because now, no more books (but hopefully more awesome stuff from Carter).
I'll keep it short and sweet: I loved the ending. It was a satisfying, no loose ends ending. It answered questions, it was entertaining as this series always is, and it ended in a fitting way. I'm going to miss Cammie and company something fierce.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read Gallagher Girls books 1-5, Ally Carter fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five diplomas

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: The Hangman's Daughter

TITLE: The Hangman's Daughter
Book 1 in the Hangman's Daughter series
AUTHOR: Oliver Potzsch
PUBLISHED: 2010
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Historical Mystery
PREMISE: A child is murdered and the hangman goes on the case.
MY REVIEW: This was...not really what I expected. Which I can deal with if what I got instead was much better. Unfortunately...it's not. I don't know about anyone else but I thought this would be about well...the hangman's daughter. I mean that's the title of the book, right? Heck, it's the title of the series! So I was under the impression this would be about the Hangman's Daughter going against convention and solving mysteries with her father's help or something.
Sadly, all the Hangman's Daughter does is hang around being pretty and distracting to the men folk who are the ones who do the mystery solving. Kind of disappointing no? I could deal with that, I mean this is in the sixteen hundreds, so I get that women can't be totally liberated but you could give her some sort of role to play still. Instead she kind of just is there as a love interest. It doesn't help that all the characters aren't very interesting and the mystery is pretty average.
It wasn't the worst thing I've ever read. But it wasn't the most ingenious thing either. It's basically just another historical mystery.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical Mystery fans (who don't want creativity)
MY RATING: Three out of Five could have been better shrugs

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Review: Perfect Ruin

TITLE: Perfect Ruin
Book 1 in The Internment Chronicles series
AUTHOR: Lauren DeStefano
PUBLISHED: October 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Science Fiction/Fantasy
PREMISE: Morgan and her friends and family live in Internment, a floating land above earth where there has been peace for years. But then a murder happens...
MY REVIEW: Some of you may recall, I tried getting into the Chemical Garden Trilogy and just couldn't. The world-building just made no real sense to me and the author sort of wrote herself into a corner by the second book so I was bored and gave up. But I loved DeStefano's writing style. She has a wonderful style and even if I wasn't crazy about the execution of the series, I did love the concept. So I gave this a chance in the hopes that there would be improvement.
There was! This is such a better, more thought out premise then Chemical Garden. Granted, it probably helps that the author isn't making this a straight up dystopian and asking me to believe that this will really happen. It's more fantasy/Science Fiction then dystopian and it works much better. It also helps that it isn't as dull as and as obvious. Sure, the usual YA suspects are in here (I forsee a love triangle in the upcoming books ;sigh;) but it's interesting and not just relying on romance alone.
This one was a pleasant surprise and a much more satisfying read for me then Chemical Garden. I can't wait for the sequel because that cliffhanger was evil and thus well done.
WHO SHOULD READ: Chemical Garden fans, Dystopian/Sci-Fi fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five pleasant surprises

Book Review: Frozen

TITLE: Frozen
Book 1 in the Heart of Dread series
AUTHOR: Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Dystopian/Fantasy
PREMISE: In a world frozen over in a second ice age, a girl goes off into the sea to find the voice that speaks to her in her head...
MY REVIEW: I'll be honest, I'm not the hugest Cruz fan. I like her concepts just fine, but her execution generally leaves a lot to be desired. I honestly picked this one up in the library on a whim but with really low expectations.
I will say, I liked this a lot better then her two previous series that I've tried (Blue Bloods, Witches of East End). It does still have some issues (forced love interests, trying to make me feel a certain way about a character in a super obvious way, etc.) Writing is still average but story telling is much better. World building could use some work but I've kind of given up on dystopians making sense.
Not the best intro to a series I've ever read. But considering I was expecting it to be a lot worse, it was pretty decent. Not sure if I'll continue or not though as I'm honestly rather passive about it as a whole.
WHO SHOULD READ: De La Cruz fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Review: The Lazarus Machine

TITLE: The Lazarus Machine
Book 1 in the Tweed and Nightingale series
AUTHOR: Paul Crilley
PUBLISHED: 2012
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Steampunk, mystery, Classic Book Referencing
PREMISE: A girl and boy find their paths crossing when they investigate mysterious events.
MY REVIEW: So I enjoyed this one a lot and that probably comes as a surprise to no one who has figured out my taste. It's steampunk. There are Sherlock Holmes characters. There are fun and snarky characters solving a mystery. Basically this was gold for me.
Sure, the soul thing is a bit weird (along with the twist about Tweed). But...the author runs with it in a way that makes it work and makes it entertaining. The writing is pretty average but overall this was just a fun intro to a series that looks like it's going to be fun. I'm now going to check out the second book which has recently been released.
WHO SHOULD READ: Steampunk fans, fans of The Clockwork Scarab
MY RATING: Four out of Five mechanical contraptions

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: Antigoddess

TITLE: Antigoddess
Book 1 in the Antigoddess series
AUTHOR: Kendare Blake
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mythology
PREMISE: A girl gets caught up in a war between the gods...
MY REVIEW: I freely admit, there is bias in this review. I loved Kendare Blakes Anna Dressed in Blood series so I had pretty high expectations for this series. I will say I didn't love it as much as the Anna books, but it was still a very good read.
Like Anna, it was creative and unexpected and well written. Things are slowly revealed over time, so if you're the impatient sort, you probably won't get into it much. But if you are, it's worth it. Characters are not perfect. They have moral gray areas which I know is not everyone's cup of tea but it is mine (there's a reason I love Game of Thrones).
So this one was not at all what I expected but I liked it a lot. I have a feeling it's one of those that won't appeal to everyone though, so I say check it out of the library first before you buy it.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mythology fans, Starcrossed Trilogy fans, Anna Dressed in Blood fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five feathers

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review: Bitterblue

TITLE: Bitterblue
Book 3 in the Seven Realms Kingdom Trilogy
AUTHOR: Kristin Cashore
PUBLISHED: 2012
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy, Adventure
PREMISE: Bitterblue tries to manage her kingdom as best she can while cleaning up the mess her father left behind and discovering lies within her own court.
MY REVIEW: I love the Seven Realms Trilogy. Is it perfect? No. But it is very well written and wonderfully crafted. Epic fantasy is a rare thing in YA nowadays, only a handful of authors do it, and well done epic fantasy is even harder to find. Seven Realms is one of the well done ones.
Bitterblue is possibly my favorite out of the three. It was a great character study and a great look at how just because a villain is defeated, doesn't mean he didn't leave things behind for the heroes to face. I've already said my piece about what I think about the supposed "anti-marriage"/man hating message that people are throwing around about this series so I'll spare you. Just know, I think that claim is completely bogus and made up by people who are threatened by the idea of women doing something outside of society norms. Not all women want marriage and babies guys. Doesn't mean, they think you're dumb for wanting it, it just means that they don't want it. Deal with it.
So I loved this. But then I'm completely biased where this series is concerned.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fantasy fans, Tamora Pearce fans, those that have read Graceling and Fire
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five royals


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review: A Cast Off Coven

TITLE: A Cast Off Coven
Book 2 in the Witchcraft Mysteries series
AUTHOR: Juliet Blackwell
PUBLISHED: 2010
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Witches
PREMISE: Lily gets called to the local college to help with a ghost problem but winds up running into a murder (of course) instead.
MY REVIEW: This series continues to be entertaining and fun. Like Estep, this author gets that you have to have changing plots with the main character in order to keep people reading and she does that. She also goes into the background of some of the other characters as well.
Mystery was typical but it was a decent continuation over all.
WHO SHOULD READ: Cozy Mystery fans, fans of Secondhand Spirits
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review: A Curse Dark As Gold

TITLE: A Curse Dark As Gold
AUTHOR: Elizabeth C. Bunce
PUBLISHED: 2008
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Historical Fantasy, Retelling
PREMISE: A historic retelling of Rumplestiltskin.
MY REVIEW: You know those books that you KNOW are good and that you should probably love more then you do? That is me and this one. To be fair to the author, it is entirely me. I do know that this is good stuff. Bunce is a fabulous writer and she does the story of Rumplestiltskin justice.
It's just that...I couldn't get into for some reason. The writing was lovely. There was nothing horrible about the characters. The historic details were accurate, etc. I just...wasn't into it. It was a nice tale. That was about it. I didn't get that big love I got with her Thief Errant series (speaking of which, are we getting a book 3? Because I would love one.)
I think this was a honest to goodness case of It's Not You, It's Me. I get that every so often. Usually with classics though (Wuthering Heights, Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye to name a few).
WHO SHOULD READ: Elizabeth Bunce fans, Retelling fans, Once Upon a Time fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five spindle wheels

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: Crimson Frost

TITLE: Crimson Frost
Book 4 in the Mythos Academy series
AUTHOR: Jennifer Estep
PUBLISHED: 2012
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mythology Referencing
PREMISE: Gwen's life gets complicated when she's brought up on charges of working with Loki.
MY REVIEW: Long series are tricky beasts. If not done well, they can get stale really fast. There's a reason most writers do trilogies. Luckily, Estep seems to be one of those writers who understands what it takes to get you to keep reading.
One of those things that keeps me reading is Gwen. She's frankly a enjoyable character. While I'm not one of those who requires my characters to be perfect beings, I do tend to get twitchy eyed if a protagonist is too flawed and I'm still expected to root for them. Gwen is that nice balance between flawed but also endearing. Then on top of that, there's plot twists/action that keep things from getting stale. This one brings development for Logan as well that explains quite a bit about his character.
So this was another enjoyable and satisfying installment to a fun series I already love. I really need to get caught up on this series (as well as Elemental Assassin which I'm woefully behind on).
WHO SHOULD READ: Mythos Academy fans who've read books 1-3, Percy Jackson fans, Veronica Mars fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five snarky swords

Friday, November 8, 2013

Book Review: All the Truth That's In Me

TITLE: All the Truth That's In Me
AUTHOR: Julie Berry
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Mystery
PREMISE: A girl with a horrible secret writes them out to the boy she loves.
MY REVIEW: I picked this one up on a whim in the library. Those sorts of books can always be a mixed bag. This one was...somewhere in the middle. I didn't think it was horrible, but I was sort of bored while reading it as well.
The writing is lovely. The slow reveal of things is good. But honestly? That's about it. The characters are typical stock characters. I could tell the heroine was going to get her man despite appearances to the contrary. Once one got past the unusual writing style, it was a pretty average story (and I'll be honest, I didn't care for the writing style much. It seriously took me about one-third of the novel to even catch on that this was historical fiction. That's...not good).
So...not the best book in the world. Not horrible. I just couldn't get into it at all.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical Fiction fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five diary pages

Book Review: All Our Yesterdays

TITLE: All Our Yesterdays
Book 1 in a new series
AUTHOR: Cristin Terrill
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Mystery
PREMISE: A girl goes back in time to change her present and winds up in direct conflict with the past...
MY REVIEW: Time travel has been a thing as of late in YA. Not sure why (too much Doctor Who, maybe?) but there it is. I'll be honest, I haven't been impressed with most of the time travel books either so my expectations for this book were pretty low. It managed to surprise me.
Granted, still a few issues. As with all time travel, the way they travel is flimsy at best. But the author manages to get me to overlook that annoyance by giving a good story. A good reason for time travel in the first place. That's what's been lacking for me in previous time travel YA books: there's no real rhyme or reason for the time travel, it's just sort of there (So Close to You for instance) and it's never really used to it's full potential, it's usually just there to get the heroine to meet the sexy broody guy she's destined to be with.
This one was a pleasant surprise. A few issues with plausibility aside, it was a fun read with a good story that is likely to make me pick up the next book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Science Fiction fans, Time Travel fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five time travelers

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait to Get My Hands On

This is a weekly meme hosted by the gals over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait to Get My Hands On

1) The Diviners series Book 2: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray-Released April 2014. The amount I've been pining for this book is kind of sad. I love Libba Bray, I loved The Diviners. I can't wait to see what happens to Evie and Co. next. I've missed them so much.

2) Finishing School Book 2: Curtsies and Conspiracies
by Gail Carriger-Released today! I loved the spin-off series that Carriger started. I look forward to spending more time with Sophronia and friends.
3) Madman's Daughter Trilogy Book 2: Her Dark Curiousity by Megan Shepard-Released Jan. 28th-I loved Madman's Daughter and can't wait to see how Shepard tackles Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

4) The Archived series Book 2: The Unbound by Victoria Schwab-Released Jan. 28th. The Archived was seriously underrated.

5) Lunar Chronicles Book 3: Cress by Marissa Meyer-Released Feb. 4rth-It's the Lunar Chronicles. Nuff said.

6) Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margeret Stohl-Released May 20th-Ridley is getting her own book! Ridley is getting her own book! ;squees;

7) Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy Book 3: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor-It's Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Nuff said.

8) Fever-Dani O'Malley series Book 2: Burned by Karen Marie Moning-Released July 22nd-which is WAY TOO FAR AWAY.

9) American Fairy Trilogy Book 3: Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel-Released May 27th-Another underrated series.

10) Grisha Trilogy Book 3: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo-June 3rd, After the way the second book ended, I need this book like yesterday.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: Asylum

TITLE: Asylum
AUTHOR: Madeline Roux
PUBLISHED: August 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Mystery, Paranormal
PREMISE: A boy and his two friends dig into the history of the asylum they're staying at for their summer program.
MY REVIEW: You know how sometimes you read a book and you can just tell that a book was pretty much written and released to entice fans of a hugely popular book? In this book's case, the book it's mimicking is Miss Peregrine. Unfortunately, I wasn't terribly impressed with Miss Peregrine (I enjoyed it well enough, but thought the praise was way over-the-top as usual. It was pretty standard YA paranormal fare once you took away the beautiful packaging and haunting photographs). I was even less then impressed with this copy-cat.
There's nothing horrible about it. But...it's not overwhelming either. There's the usual characters in it, who never really venture beyond their stereotypes. The mystery was mildly interesting but nothing to write home about. Honestly, for a creepy book, I was kind of bored by it. You are not supposed to be bored during a paranormal book.
So...it's not the best. The author tries, I'll give her that. But it was kind of just been there, done that for me.
WHO SHOULD READ: Paranormal fans, maybe Miss Peregrine fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five bored ghosts

Book Review: Shadows

TITLE: Shadows
AUTHOR: Robin McKinley
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy, Adventure
PREMISE: A girl's mother gets married to a man from the old world, the one full of magic...
MY REVIEW: I will tell you all now: Robin McKinley is one of those authors I will always have a certain pro-bias for. So please keep that in mind when I gush about this book. Because I loved this. But again: I love most of McKinley's stuff.
This one is all the things I've come to expect from McKinley: creative, great adventure, strong female lead, well written, and again: creative. It may not be the best book of the year, but it certainly is one of the most interesting.
If you love McKinley, this one is just as good as her other stuff. If you're new to McKinley, it's a great intro to her stuff (and if you decide you like her, check out Beauty and The Hero and the Crown).
WHO SHOULD READ: Robin McKinley fans, Dianna Wynne Jones fans, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five shadows

Book Review: The Clockwork Scarab

TITLE: The Clockwork Scarab
Book 1 in the Stoker and Holmes series
AUTHOR: Colleen Gleason
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Steampunk, Classic Book Referencing, Mystery
PREMISE: In a alternate Victorian London, the niece of Sherlock Holmes and a girl who's descended from a famous family of vampire hunters team up at the request of Irene Adler to solve a mystery.
MY REVIEW: As I've said before, sometimes there are books that are just guaranteed to make me like it. This book is one of those books. It's steampunk. It's got a mystery. It's got two girls who are classic book references themselves who team up and are generally awesome together. Basically this book was utter love for me.
Sure, there were a few too many love interests floating around in there. Some of it does drag a bit. But for the most part, I enjoyed the hell out of this. I love the world-building. The mystery was interesting. There's a much larger mystery that promises to be good.
This one was a winner for me. But I guess I was in the minority since I haven't heard that much about it from the book world. The reviews on Goodreads are mixed, but I've learned to take review scores on Goodreads with a grain of salt because people tend to get silly when it comes to the star system. For instance I saw one review that praised a book but gave it two stars because they had to wait for the next book and that's apparently dumb. So masses and I don't agree on this one. I say, check it out from the library and decide for yourself.
WHO SHOULD READ: steampunk fans, Gail Carriger fans, Mystery fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five clockwork contraptions

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Secondhand Spirits

TITLE: Secondhand Spirits
Book 1 in the Witchcraft Mystery series
AUTHOR: Juliet Blackwell
PUBLISHED: 2009
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Cozy Mystery, Mystery, Urban Fantasy, Witches
PREMISE: A witch runs a vintage clothing store and gets caught up in a murder mystery.
MY REVIEW: This book is another result of me going through the cozy mystery genre. But this is one series I think I may actually continue. It's not just a cozy mystery, it's urban fantasy as well. Now, for a lot of these, the world-building can suffer and be put aside for drama (see the Bewitching Mysteries series) but not for this one. I do get the sense that the author has actually thought this world through and is not just having the magic there to grab interest or something.
True, as with all of these cozy mysteries, there are a lot of tropes that are familiar. But the author does make me care about the characters. Also: yay, female friendship. It's amazing the lack of female friendship in books so I always like to give a shout out to authors who actually have it (actual friendship guys, not frienimies stuff. Frienimies do not count as friends in my book).
If you're in the mood for a magical cozy mystery, I highly rec this one.
WHO SHOULD READ: cozy mystery fans, Bewitching Mystery fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five vintage dresses

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: Let the Sky Fall

TITLE: Let the Sky Fall
Book 1 in the Sky Fall series
AUTHOR: Sharon Messenger
PUBLISHED: March 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Romance
PREMISE: Vane remembers nothing of his time before he lived with his adoptive parents. Then he meets a strange girl who tells him he's a prince...
MY REVIEW: First, I swear I will refrain from making James Bond references during this review. Because lets all be honest here: the first thing that pops into your head with that title is the Adele song of the same name. Sadly, this doesn't have much to do with Bond.
This book suffered from what I like to call Deja Vu Ville. It is when you read a book, it has a slightly interesting world in it, but the plot, the characters, the scenarios all sort of feel very familiar because they are really common book tropes. The world-building is very nice. Messenger's writing is also solid. It's just that everything else....has kind of been done before. Especially in YA and especially in the fantasy/urban fantasy genre.
So...it's not the best in terms of uniqueness. But, if you're in the mood for a romantic urban fantasy, I suppose you could do worse then this one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those who don't mind cliches, Urban fantasy fans (who again: don't mind cliches)
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five this has been done before shrugs

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top Ten Halloween Reads

This is a weekly meme hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week: Top Ten Halloween Reads

1) Dracula by Bram Stoker-Pretty much a no-brainer.

2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-Again, a no-brainer.

3) Edgar Allen Poe-Specifically, Tell-Tale Heart. But he's got a bunch that are wonderfully creeptastic.

4) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving-Another no-brainer. Oh, and if you haven't checked out the new show Sleepy Hollow, you totally should. It's awesome.

5) Anything Stephan King-It or Carrie would be my picks. But you also can't go wrong with The Shining or Pet Cemetery.

6) Anything R. L. Stine-If you like light spooky, this is the guy to go with. The Goosebumps series and Fear Street series were my crack back in the day and basically my introduction to horror.

7) Bunnicula series by James Howe-What, you never knew about this series with a vampire bunny? If you have kids who are into the creepy, I'd give them this.

8) Anna Dressed in Blood Books by Kendare Blake-One of the best recent paranormal series in YA.

9) Bad Girls Don't Die series by Katie Alender-But especially the first book which features a sister possessed by a ghost.

10) The Mediator series by Meg Cabot-Great series about a girl who sees ghosts and has a hot ghost living in her bedroom.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Book Review: The Wicked Within

TITLE: The Wicked Within
Book 3 in the Gods and Monsters Trilogy
AUTHOR: Kelly Keaton
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mythology Referencing
PREMISE: Ari and her friends face down Athena and the gods in the conclusion to the Gods and Monsters Trilogy.
MY REVIEW: This was one of those trilogies that when it started out, I enjoyed it. It was a bit cheesy, sure, but it was fun and there was good stuff. Then the second book happened and I enjoyed it less. Now...I'm kind of apathetic about it really.
This was kind of a ho hum ending really. Nothing happened that I didn't really expect. The only thing that really came out of left field was the ending with Athena (really, that's how you get rid of a Goddess? Throw a baby at her and watch her coo at it?). Oh and the thing with Violet was a wee bit of a surprise, but she turned out okay so it wasn't a huge deal in the end.
I honestly don't have much to say here. Sure, it tied up loose ends, but it was sort of a lackluster ending to a overall just okay trilogy.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of books 1 and 2, Percy Jackson fans, mythology fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five mythology figures
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Three and a half out of Five

Friday, October 25, 2013

Book Review: Conjured

TITLE: Conjured
AUTHOR: Sarah Beth Durst
PUBLISHED: September 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl with no memories tries to find out who she is and why she's important to the people holding her captive...
MY REVIEW: As you all know by now: I love Sarah Beth Durst's books. To me, she's one of the many underrated YA authors who fly under the radar which is a darn shame. She's a great writer and she's one of those rare authors who is always always writing something new that she hasn't done before. This book is totally different from her last book, Vessel. The only things her books ever have in common are that they have fantasy elements.
This book is a good example of how she plays with writing style and ideas and I just love that. Though I will say, this is not my favorite of hers (that's probably between Vessel or Drink, Slay, Love) and I don't think it's as good as some of her other books. But like all Durst books, it was interesting because I couldn't predict what would happen. That's a pretty rare thing in YA nowadays.
So, not Durst's best work. But like all her stuff, it's unique and definitely one of the more interesting books of the year.
WHO SHOULD READ: Sarah Beth Durst fans, Fantasy fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five memories

Book Review: The Infinite Moment of Us

TITLE: The Infinite Moment of Us
AUTHOR: Lauren Myracle
PUBLISHED: August 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Romance, Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Girl meets boy basically.
MY REVIEW: I confess, I never quite got around to reading Shine last year despite everyone reccing it right and left. It's on the list, believe me. It's just one of those that's not really a priority read for me. When I saw Myracle had another out this year, I thought I'd give it a try to at least see how I like her writing despite the fact that contemporary romance is honestly not my genre at all. Sometimes I like to push myself and read books that I otherwise wouldn't normally read. Every so often, that works in my favor (like with Anna and the French Kiss). But a lot of times it backfires on me.
This one, sadly, was a backfire. I just plain didn't like it. I liked the writing style for sure. Myracle has a wonderful way of writing that makes me think that maybe Shine will be way better then this. I hope so because this was a aggravating book for me. The characters drove my last nerve. I didn't believe the insta love for a second. The story was also predictable as hell and thus kind of boring.
So this one was a bust. I may still give Shine a shot, because as I said, I liked the writing style. Unfortunately, writing style alone, cannot carry a book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Contemporary Romance fans (who don't mind cliches)
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five yawns

Book Review: Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy

TITLE: Dancer Duaghter Traitor Spy
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Kiem
PUBLISHED: August 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Mystery, Historical Fiction (still not comfortable with the idea of a book that starts literally the same month I was born, being categorized as historical fiction)
PREMISE: A girl's life is torn upside down when her mother gets caught up in state secrets in Russia during the Cold War.
MY REVIEW: I think I liked the idea of this novel more then the actual execution of it. Come on a spy novel in the Cold War era? Awesome, right? To be sure, the author did do great research into this. I did honestly feel like this was the eighties and she captured the era and feel of the story well.
Unfortunately she takes far too much time to get to the meat of the story so I spent a large part of this novel being really bored. I'm sorry, but Marina's personal life was simply not as interesting as the stuff going on with state secrets and only like a third of the novel was spent devoted to that. The rest was mostly teen drama in a eighties setting. Which, fine, but when you promise me a great mystery and then don't get to the mystery till over half way through...I get irritated.
So, it was a good idea, it just needed better execution and less wandering plot. I do think this author has potential though, because it was interesting. She just needs to work on focusing her plot.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical fiction fans, those interested in the eighties
MY RATING: Three out of Five leg warmers

Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: The Enchantress

TITLE: The Enchantress
Book 6 in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series
AUTHOR: Michael Scott
PUBLISHED: 2012
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Adventure, Mythology, Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: The twins finally face their destiny in the last book of the series.
MY REVIEW: This series is one of those underrated series that I wish more people knew about but at the same time it does sort of have issues so I also understand why it's not very popular. It didn't help that it was one of the many that came out just as HP was nearing its end and publishers were pumping out fantasy books like whoa in the hopes of finding something that would make it as big (spoiler alert: never happened, but we did get many wonderful series as a result of this frenzy such as Percy Jackson).
So this series has been going on for quite a bit. I'm a little sorry to see it end because as wacky as it could sometimes be (seriously, William Shakespeare is alive in this and is sort of a villain) it was sort of fun. I love how Scott mixes up history/mythology and just plays with it. Again, much of it is wacky and probably will make no sense. But it was fun too.
As an ending to a series this was satisfying. Some of it was predictable as these things can sometimes be, others were actually a surprise. All in all, I liked the ending and am going to miss this series. But I look forward to whatever Scott has in store for us next.
WHO SHOULD READ: Percy Jackson fans, those that have read books 1-5
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five historical figures still alive and kicking ass
Rating for series: Four out of Five

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Book Review: Omens

TITLE: Omens
Book 1 in the Cainsville series
AUTHOR: Kelley Armstrong
PUBLISHED: August 2013
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
PREMISE: After finding out she's the daughter of notorious serial killers, Olivia runs away from her life to the town of Cainsville...
MY REVIEW: I love Armstrong's stuff. You all know that by now. That said...this isn't a favorite of mine. I don't think it totally stinks. There's actually a lot here to make me want to read the next book.
But I will warn: it's slow. Like really slow. I get it's the first book but damn. Also it's more mystery then urban fantasy. So if you were hoping for something knee deep in the supernatural, you're probably better off going elsewhere. Honestly this book was mostly just a set up and a promise that things are coming and it will be supernatural most likely.
So...I'm not a huge fan. But...it's also not bad? I'm on the fence with this one. It doesn't help that I'm really biased towards Kelley Armstrong.
WHO SHOULD READ: Kelley Armstrong fans, Mystery fans, Haven fans (it reminds me a lot of Haven)
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five spooky towns

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Books I Was Forced to Read

This is a weekly meme hosted by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week: Top Ten Books I Was Forced to Read

1) Peter Pan by James M. Barrie-Let me explain, you guys had teachers who forced you read stuff.I had them AND I had a grandmother who was a retired English teacher. Whenever I visited her (which was often in my childhood because then she lived half an hour or so away) she would press books into my hands. Or sigh when I told her what we were reading in school and say "here, read this instead". When I told her how much I loved the loved the Disney Peter Pan, she pretty much nodded and said, "okay, then you're ready for this." When she handed me books, I was expected to read them. Luckily I loved it.

2) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll-Another Grandma made me read.

3) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott-One of the few school reads I actually liked.

4) Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling-Because if you say you've never read it, you get horrified looks from readers.

5) The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett-Grandparents read (My Grandfather, also a book reader, would occasionally conspire with Grandma and get me stuff he thought I should be reading as well)

6) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee-Was a "suggestion" from my Mother. Are you getting why I'm a reader yet?

7) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle-School read. Again, one of the few I actually liked.

8) The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis-Made to from Grandmother number two who is quite religious. I didn't notice the religious stuff till someone pointed them out to me and suddenly I knew why she had given them to me despite frowning whenever I mentioned my love of fantasy books.

9) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien-Made to by a well-meaning Middle School but naive teacher who didn't quite get that Lord of the Rings is not something for middle-school. I hated it when I first read it, but when the movies came out I went back and reread it and Lord of the Rings while in late high school and fell in utter love.

10) The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi-Was a gift from Step-Grandmother who was married to Grandfather aka the co-conspirator. This is still one of my favorite historical fiction reads.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Review: Prep School Confidential

TITLE: Prep School Confidential
Book 1 in a new series
AUTHOR: Kara Taylor
PUBLISHED: July 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: When her roommate is murdered, new girl Anne goes on the case...
MY REVIEW: Can I just say I'm so happy teen mysteries are a thing again? For awhile it seemed like no one was writing them accept for Sara Shepard with the Pretty Little Liars series and its eighty million red herrings. As a mystery fan this made me sad. But now a few new teen mystery series have gotten started and this makes me very happy.
This is the latest teen sleuth series to start up. I didn't love everything going on it (the oh-so-obvious love triangle, the mean girl stereotyping, etc.) but there was far more good then bad. The mystery was good and even with the roommate's murderer found, there's a larger mystery to be solved. It's all very Veronica Mars and as a huge fan of Veronica Mars, I approve.
So I liked this one and look forward to the next book, coming out in the Spring of 2014.
WHO SHOULD READ: Veronica Mars fans, Nancy Drew fans, The Liar Society series fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five plaid skirts