Sunday, August 25, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: August 25th

This is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews that tells people what new books we've gotten over the week.

Sorry for my random posting this month. My work schedule has been hectic to the point where I'm actually having to consider doing scheduled posts. Something I've never done before.

Bought from Barnes and Noble:
Abandon Trilogy Book 3: Awaken by Meg Cabot-Finally going to read this!

Downloaded to Kindle:
Doll Bones by Holly Black-On sale on Kindle for 1.99 till the end of August!

Library Haul:

Arkwell Academy series Book 1: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett-YA debut that sounds totally awesome. I don't know why I haven't heard anything about it.

Deviant by Helen FitzGerald-YA debut.

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry-YA mystery debut.

The Woodcutter Sisters series Book 1: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis-Everyone raved about this last year and I totally forgot to read it. My bad.

Hourglass series Book 3: Infinityglass by Myra McEntire-Yes, my library had the new hourglass book already. No, I don't know how I managed to get it so fast. I didn't even go to my regular library, I went to the big fancy one because my regular library is currently under construction for the next two months.

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross-YA historical fiction debut. Have heard mixed things so we'll see how it goes.

American Fairy Trilogy Book 2: Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel-Sequel to one of my favorites from last year. I can't wait to read it.

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

TITLE: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
AUTHOR: Benjamin Alire Saenz
GENRE: GLBT, Romance, Drama
PREMISE: Aristotle and Dante meet each other over the summer and become apart of each others lives in ways neither would have guessed.
MY REVIEW: I'm not sure how to review this book to be honest. I personally think it's a wonderfully written book and want to press it into every book snob's hands and say "what was that you were saying about YA being dumb?" But a part of me knows it's not one of those universally appealing books. Which is why it hasn't been mass marketed as much as say Fault in Our Stars even though it's just as wonderful as that book was and has won all these awards. It's times like this I do hate how commercial the book industry has gotten.
Because this book should seriously be all over the blogosphere and tumblr. It's wonderfully written, sweet, and has some great character studies.
This is one of the many overlooked books of 2012. But 2012 had a lot of good YA books so it's understandable. If you're inclined, I totally rec this.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of GLBT books, John Green fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five why hasn't everyone read this? sighs

Book Review: Such Wicked Intent

TITLE: Such Wicked Intent
Book 2 in The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
AUTHOR: Kenneth Oppel
GENRE: Fiction retelling/prequel, Paranormal
PREMISE: Victor starts his quest to bring back his brother from the dead...
MY REVIEW: I loved This Dark Endeavor last year. Which was kind of a surprise because prequel/sequel books to classics can always be iffy for me. Often times you can tell the author's feelings on the story/character in question and those almost always conflict with the original idea of the story and as a result the prequel/sequel tends to conflict with what is presented in the classic book in the first place.
This, does not do that. Oppel doesn't waste time trying to make us love Victor. He is presented as the flawed character he was in the original tale. It doesn't sugar coat him. Doesn't go the "oh he was just a tragic misunderstood guy" route like I've seen so many books about classics try to do (like say all the retellings of Jane Eyre that I've read so far who've all done their best to ignore the horrible things Rochester did). This retelling is not afraid of all the flawed characters in Frankenstein and I frankly love that.
Bottom line, if you loved This Dark Endeavor, you will love this. If you want some Frankenstein in your YA, I strongly rec this series.
WHO SHOULD READ: This Dark Endeavor fans, Frankenstein fans, Retelling fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five flawed characters

Book Review: Paper Towns

TITLE: Paper Towns
AUTHOR: John Green
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Quentin has always been in love with the girl next door. When she vanishes, it's up to him to find her...
MY REVIEW: Well, good news, I liked this more then An Abundance of Katherines, but don't think it's quite up to par of Fault in Our Stars. Now that I've read all his books, I repeat what I said in my Looking for Alaska review: I like his stuff. I definitely get why he's popular with teens. I totally rec his books. But I don't see why he gets all this praise outside of YA circles when there are tons of writers in the YA category who are doing the exact same thing he's doing but the rest of YA gets pretty much ignored or shelved as "just that silly YA stuff". His stuff is good but I sort of raise my eyebrow at the "genius" stuff I've seen thrown around. But as I've also said many times: I always raise my eyebrow at hyperbole. Even when it comes to stuff I love. I mean I love Harry Potter but I always sort of cringe when people call it "best series ever" or "best books of our generation" because there's absolutely NO way to prove that and you are setting up people's expectations, so naturally they are going to nitpick at every little thing they find wrong instead of just sitting back and enjoying the story. Because I've found that people have a natural tendency to do this with books they've been told are "the best thing ever". I tend to do it, even though I honestly try not too.
Paper Towns actually reminds me a lot of Looking for Alaska, but I think it does the whole deconstruction of the manicpixiedreamgirl trope much better. Like all of Green's books, the characters are funny, it's well written, great dialogue, good character studies, etc. But ultimately? It's a little similar to Looking for Alaska. I'm not saying it's an exact copy. There's a different plot and whatnot. But the end idea: deconstruction of the manicpixiedreamgirl was kind of the same.
So I have read the John Green. Ultimately I think he's a good author. I just feel people use way too much hyperbole with his books. If pressed, I'd say Fault in Our Stars is his best book. I look forward to the movie and any future books he writes.
WHO SHOULD READ: John Green fans, Maureen Johnson fans, Gayle Forman fans, Realistic Fiction fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five manicpixiedreamgirls

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things That Help Me As a Blogger

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

Top Ten Things That Help Me As A Blogger

1) Goodreads-This site is a godsend. It gives all the info on books I need, helps me keep track of upcoming books on listopia, and I've even won some books from it.

2) Shelfari-I mostly use this to help me keep track of what I've read. It has the most useful tagging system.

3) Other bloggers-You all give me an idea of what I should look at, what's not going to be for me, and give me book news. Thanks to you, I am never uninformed about books.

4) Tumblr-Did you know a bunch of authors use tumblr? So do publishing companies. Sometimes I find out more up to date info on tumblr then anywhere else.

5) Twitter-To an extent. I'm not on Twitter much nowadays but it is good for keeping up to date on stuff.

6) Amazon search engine-Amazon tends to have books on their site months in advance. If I ever need to know what's coming in about six months I can just use this to narrow it down. I've found many books I otherwise would have overlooked this way.

7) The Library-AKA that place where pretty much ALL my books come from. I have bills so I can't afford to go out and buy everything I want (no matter how much I'd love too). The library lets me keep up on new books and read older books I don't want to spend money on. Especially helpful since they've gotten the inter-library loan system which is the best thing ever because my district has like 10 libraries so it's rare when one of them doesn't have at least ONE copy of something I want to read.

8) Net Galley-The best source for ARCs for me.

9) My Kindle-Make all fussy noises about physical books you want. My Kindle lets me read Net Galleys and get free classics, and get books for as low as 99 cents. Amazon frequently has awesome deals on ebooks so it's a great source for books as well. For the record, I buy physical copies of books too. I don't understand why people think that if you own a Kindle that automatically means you won't be buying actual books as well.

10) Author Websites. Granted, not all author websites are created equal. Some just have a bio and bibliography page. Others have awesome info that's amazingly helpful. Like Tamora Pierce's website. She has entire rec pages of books that have helped me find so many awesome authors (she's how I found Sarah Beth Durst). So it depends on the author's website, but some can be great resources.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines

TITLE: An Abundance of Katherines
AUTHOR: John Green
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A  boy who just got dumped by yet another girl named Katherine goes on a road trip of self discovery with his best friend.
MY REVIEW: Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I'm sorry you all, I couldn't get into this one. It wasn't horrible or anything. It was well written like all of Green's books. If you're going through a break up I imagine you'll relate to it like whoa. Also Hassan is the best. wasn't really about anything? I mean, Green tried. I could tell he was trying. But I'm sorry the whole revelation at the end was kind of a big duh and didn't really make me think "okay, that story was worth it then". Plus, Colin was really trying as a character. He was a well developed character. I got where he was coming from. But damn, he tried my patience. Like really dude, you're not the first guy in the world to have bad luck with women. I just had very little patience for him.
It's not a horrible book...I just expected a lot better and I know thanks to Fault in Our Stars that this author can do better. But If I'm right, this was his sophomore book, so I guess this was his sophomore slump. I really hope Paper Towns is better.
WHO SHOULD READ: John Green fans, those going through a break up
MY RATING: Three and a half out of five dumpers

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ditched Books

Here are some ditched books that I've given up on these past few months:

Death's Daughter by Amber Benson-Usual UF du jour. I was bored by page thirty. Makes me feel bad because Amber Benson was Tara on Buffy and I think she's awesome. I just didn't like this book.

Vampire Huntress Book 1: Minion by L. A. Banks-Diversity in UF is awesome, but not when it's horribly written like this. Couldn't get past page forty.

Wasteland by Susan Kim and Laurance Klavan-Confusing dystopian is confusing. I'm done with giving dystopians more of a chance. If I can't understand what's going on past page fifty. We're done.

Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon-Couldn't get into it. Not you author, it's me.

Colors of Madeline Book 1: A Corner of White by Jacelyn Moriarty-Magical Realism. I just cannot with this genre. It just drives me batty because it seems like the authors can just come up with any sort of weird scenario and just NOT EXPLAIN ANYTHING. Nope. I just can't with that.

The Engelsfors Trilogy Book 1: The Circle by Sara Elfgren and Mats Strandberg-Douchebag male lead along with usual YA tropes that annoy me. No thank you.

Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick-Nothing made sense. Plot holes galore. Stopped reading by the fifth chapter. I feel a little bad since it's a galley I requested. But I could just tell this book and I weren't going to get along.

Trickster by Jeff Somers-Typical UF. Bored by fifth chapter.

Reboot Book 1 by Amy Tintera-Confusing dystopian that honestly kind of failed to make me care. I was finding it tedious to get through by the fifth chapter and so I parted ways with it.

Arclight Book 1 by Josin McQuein-Just couldn't get into it. Another case of it's not you, it's me.

Paper Gods Book 1: Ink by Amanda Sun-Douchebag love interest. I swear I've had it up to here with douchebag love interests who treat girls like garbage but the main character falls for him anyway (and even ADMITS he treats girls like garbage). Again, feel bad because this was a galley, but it's probably just as well that I stopped reading because I have a feeling the review would have been just one big rage review.

So those are the books I have given up on this summer.

Book Review: School Spirits

TITLE: School Spirits
Book 1 in the School Spirits Hex Hall series spin-off
AUTHOR: Rachel Hawkins
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
PREMISE: Izzy Brannick gets sent to a honest to goodness regular high school to get rid of a ghost. It turns out to be more then she bargained for.
MY REVIEW: Spin-offs are tricky beasts. Sometimes they're pointless and you wind up not feeling anything for the new characters. In other words, it was an idea that sounded better on paper. But sometimes they can be just as wonderful as the series it originated from and I'm happy to say this series is of the second kind.
It does everything that you should do with spin-offs: make the character their own character. Izzy is not Sophie 2.0 and that's a GOOD thing people (I've seen a few complaints about this and I honestly scratch my head at it. Of course Izzy is not going to be like Sophie, she's a different person with a different background and a different situation. If you weren't going to like a book that wasn't narrated by Sophie then why did you bother?). We get some more insight to the world outside of the one Sophie lives in. We get new characters who just as enjoyable as the old ones (Dex, Romy, and Anderson are freaking AWESOME) and it's got Hawkin's usual brand of humor and fast-pace fun plots.
Frankly, I'm satisfied. This is everything I hoped for. Bring on the next book please.
WHO SHOULD READ: Hex Hall fans (willing to give Izzy a chance and not rail at her for not being Sophie), Percy Jackson fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five sarcastic mirrors

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Review: Rebel Spirits

TITLE: Rebel Spirits
AUTHOR: Lois Ruby
PUBLISHED: June 2013
GENRE: Paranormal, Romance
PREMISE: A girl tries to help a spirit of a soldier move on.
MY REVIEW: I love ghost stories. I think I may have mentioned that once or twice...if your book has a ghost in it, chances are, I'm going to pick it up. Regardless of how corny a plot it sounds. Lets face it, this one did sound silly. But it managed to surprise me.
I really liked it. The author was good with the historical stuff. She didn't stereotype the south for once. While I was a bit ho hum about the romance part (it was usual insta love), I have to give the author credit for not taking the easy route and having the ghost magically come to life which is a plot that has been used way too often for my taste in YA. While part of me does understand why that plot device is used (readers tend to get bitchy when their romance doesn't end happily ever after, preferably with marriage and baby) I tend to find it annoying. So I appreciated the ending here.
This is a very old school type of ghost story. It's probably considered slow by today's YA standards but I liked it anyway. I would read this one, only if you're willing to let the possibility of a happily ever after type ending go. Not sure if this is going to be a series or not. The way it ended and the way the author set it up leads me to think that it could be. I would certainly welcome a sequel.
WHO SHOULD READ: ghost story fans, readers okay with a romance not ending happily ever after
MY RATING: Four out of Five hot ghosts

Book Review: If I Should Die

TITLE: If I Should Die
Book 3 in the Revenants series
AUTHOR: Amy Plum
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Kate tries to bring back Vincent in time for war...
MY REVIEW: Honestly, I've never understood the huge love for this series. I like it well enough. It's sort of like Mortal Instruments, where I get entertainment from it, but that's about it. This "best series ever" stuff that I've seen on places like Goodreads, I can't really agree with. To be honest, it's typical YA Urban Fantasy.
Not to say it's I said, I get entertainment from it and I do get why people like it. The world-building is somewhat interesting. Kate is likable. I love Georgia to death (if ever there was a character that needs her own series...). There's nothing hugely offensive about it. There's just nothing fantastically great about it either. It doesn't push the bar or rock the boat.
Basically this series is as advertised: romantic urban fantasy for the Twilight set. It succeeds (and is thankfully more tolerable then Twilight, otherwise I wouldn't have read past book 1) and is perfectly all right. But that's all it is: all right. The conclusion is also all right. Nothing huge really happened that I wasn't expecting (please, like the author was actually going to seriously kill off Vincent), the usual suspects died, the usual plot devices happened. So it's not a bad series. It just doesn't really push the envelope.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of book 1 and 2, Twihards, Mortal Instruments fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five romances
FOR TRILOGY: Three out of Five

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: Star Cursed

TITLE: Star Cursed
Book 2 in the Cahill Witch Chronicles
AUTHOR: Jessica Spotswood
PUBLISHED: June 2013
GENRE: Historical Fantasy, Witches
PREMISE: Cate navigates her way through the Sisterhood whom she doesn't fully trust as the Brotherhood persecutes witches/women even worse then before...
MY REVIEW: Born Wicked was one of those books from last year that I went into not expecting to love as much as I did. This one continues that trend by actually taking an already decent plot, and pushing it higher.
In other words: this was a fabulous sequel. I loved everything in it. I say, it's actually kind of better then the first because now that the forced love triangle is out of the way, we get to focus on the stronger parts of the series: the Sisterhood and the morally gray battle between them and the Brotherhood as well as the dynamics between Cate and her sisters.
Over all, this was just immensely satisfying. After that evil cliffhanger, all I can say is bring on book three.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Born Wicked, historical fantasy fans, Gemma Doyle fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five witches getting shit done

Book Review: Permanent Record

TITLE: Permanent Record
AUTHOR: Leslie Stella
PUBLISHED: March 2013
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Badi gets sent to a new school because he got kicked out of his old one...
MY REVIEW: I have split feelings regarding this book. On one hand, it's wonderfully written. I love the issues the author brings up in it because this is stuff that does go on in high school constantly and needs to be addressed as well as other issues that also need to be talked about such as the bs Muslims in the US frequently get thanks to 9/11.
On the other was predictable. I also feel that for all that the author did their best to make Badi and his family not stereotyped, she had no problem making the school jocks/teachers stereotyped. The jocks were very much the typical jerks that you expect in books like this and there were all the usual suspects in high school: kids who are different get picked on, jocks get special treatment, etc. It quickly turned into the typical underdog gets screwed by the system type story and thus I was able to predict what was going to happen by the middle of the book. It made wanting to finish it, kind of hard. While I understand that yes, there are schools like this and it sucks, I also wish the author had done more to make everything not so black and white regarding the situation.
So I'm split. I think the writer is good and I can't wait to read more from her. The issues raised are important. But at the same was a predictable book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Contemporary fiction fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five underdogs

Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

TITLE: The Fault in Our Stars
AUTHOR: John Green
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Hazel meets Augustus Waters at a cancer survivor support group...
MY REVIEW: Honestly, at this point, there's probably not much I can say about this book that hasn't already been said in the past year and a half or so. Most people have probably read this by now or have made up their minds about whether or not they want to read it or not. I doubt anything I say in this review will impact much of anything.
So good news: I liked it. I see why people like it. I'm looking forward to the movie. I have a feeling Shailene will be perfect. It's quite like The Descendants which is a much better glimpse into her acting ability then Secrets of the American Teenager. I will say, I'm not entirely sure why the literature crowd has latched onto this, because to me, this is usual YA stuff, just a tad more sophisticated in writing style prose. So I don't understand why this gets the thumbs up from them, but the rest of YA gets a sneer when there's a lot of YA that's just as good. But then I don't think I'll ever understand the literature snob crowd and what they deem "okay" to read and what's not okay to read.
So I enjoyed this. I will be reading either Paper Towns or Abundance of Katherines next in my John Green binge. It'll depend on whichever I find first in the store.
WHO SHOULD READ: John Green fans, Gayle Forman fans, Contemporary fiction fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five tissues (you're gonna need them, it's one of those books)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Book Review: Spies and Prejudice

TITLE: Spies and Prejudice
Book 1 in a series?
AUTHOR: Talia Vance
PUBLISHED: June 2013
GENRE: Retelling (sort of), Romance/Mystery
PREMISE: Pride and Prejudice gets a contemporary update.
MY REVIEW: This was basically exactly as it advertised: cute retelling of Pride and Prejudice with espionage. It's what I wanted when I went into the book and it's exactly what I got.
Is it the best thing ever? No. P and P retellings are a dime a dozen. There are so many Jane Austen retellings/reduxes that the women basically has her own genre. For me, I have to be in the mood for these because honestly, they can be on and off.
This was luckily a decent one. I got my Jane Austen book fix, I had fun reading it. It wasn't ground-breaking, but it wasn't horrible either. So if you're in the mood for a Jane Austen type book, I rec this one. For those wondering why I put a question mark on the series part. From what I see, there's no news of a sequel yet. But there's a bit of a unsolved plot in it that leads me to believe the author is setting this up as a series.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jane Austen retelling fans, Pride and Prejudice fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five teen spies

Friday, August 2, 2013

Book Review: Born of Illusion

TITLE: Born of Illusion
Book 1 in a series
AUTHOR: Teri Brown
PUBLISHED: June 2013
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: According to her mother, Anna is the illegitimate daughter of Houdini, which would explain the strange powers she possesses...
MY REVIEW: Well, this will probably come as no surprise to any of my regular readers: I loved this. Mostly, it just had a bunch of tropes I love and will read over and over again, no matter what: historical setting (twenties! My favorite! Author, how did you know?), people with powers, family conflict, sassy teen girl just trying to do her thing, and so on. In fact, it reminded me very much of The Diviners. Not as polished as the Diviners, but then Bray has written like five books before The Diviners and this is Brown's first so that's a bit unfair. But still, I was rather impressed by it.
It's a quiet book. The plot is mostly character focused and stuff takes awhile to happen but I promise, it happens and I for one, loved where the author took the ending, even if some of it, I saw coming. There were a few of the usual amateur things in it as well (unnecessary love triangle drama, etc.). But for the most part, this was a strong debut. If you're in the mood for historical fantasy type books, I totally rec this.
WHO SHOULD READ: Gemma Doyle fans, Diviners fans, historical fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five spirits

Book Review: Siege and Storm

TITLE: Siege and Storm
Book 2 in the Grisha Trilogy
AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo
PUBLISHED: June 2013
GENRE: Fantasy/adventure
PREMISE: Alina and Mal try to move on from the clutches of the Darkling, but he won't let them...
MY REVIEW: Ever have one of those series where you do honestly like it, you get why it's popular, and you do think it deserves recognition and people should read it, but you're just not "OMG best series ever"? That is me and Grisha Trilogy.
I like the Grisha Trilogy. Bardugo's imagination and world-building here is fabulous. I love her writing, and I like where she's taking this story. But I'm just not as super excited about it as I've seen other people get and I have a feeling that makes people think I don't like it. I do. I could do without the love triangle part though, because I think that's the poorest aspect of it (really did we HAVE to bring in another love interest to replace the Darkling? I loved Sturmhond until it became clear he was going to be used as romance bait and that honestly kind of diminished his character for me. He could have been so much more then "B character there to make Mal jealous and for love triangle drama"). But mostly I do think it's a good series.
Actually, I'll go as far as to say I liked this one better then the first. Warning though: evil cliffhanger. You will want the third book like yesterday and then remember that you have to wait a year. Not cool.
WHO SHOULD READ: Shadow and Bone fans, Graceling fans, Tamora Pearce fans, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five "I have to wait HOW long?" reactions