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
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!). 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.'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
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
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
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.'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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.'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.'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
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
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