Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Book Review: 2 A. M. at the Cat's Pajamas

TITLE: 2 A. M. at the Cat's Pajamas
AUTHOR: Marie-Helene Bertino
PUBLISHED: August 5th, 2014
GENRE: Realistic Fiction, Drama
PREMISE: A group of people get drawn together for one night at a popular night club.
MY REVIEW: This was very much a random read for me. It's not at all my usual type of read. I picked it up after rave reviews over at Book Riot.
I think the highlight of this book is absolutely the writing. The writer has such lovely prose. She also does dialogue and characters very well. The story all ties together neatly.
It just...ends somewhat too abruptly for my taste. It was just kind of sudden when it happened. It wasn't a bad ending. It suited the book just fine. It was just startling when it happened because I expected there to be more. So I won't be at all surprised if there's a sequel. But it's literary fiction so I suspect there won't be. Literature fiction isn't as sequel happy as genre fiction after all.
All in all it was a good read. I absolutely see why it got good reviews. It wasn't necessarily my kind of book, but for those into literature and realistic drama type fiction...I definitely recommend it.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of literary drama, nightclub goers
MY RATING: Four out of Five beautiful prose

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Goals/Resolutions for 2015

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

This Week: Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2015

1) Read 150 books at least: I did make my goal of 200 this year (a lot weren't reviewed here for various reasons), but as it looks like I'm going to be trying to move next year, I will likely have lots of my free time eaten up by working more to get moving money and getting my new place. So I'll probably have less reading time.

2) Get through the A authors in my reading through the library project: I'm about midway at the moment (at Al) so I think this is entirely possible. Especially as most of the upcoming authors are romance authors whom I have no interest in reading so I can skip a bunch of those. Possibly, I'll make it the B authors by July. May even get to the second row of shelves this year!

3) Keep up more on new releases: was kind of bad about that this year.

4) Keep up on my Net Galley reading: kind of ties into the keeping up on new releases thing, but I was sort of bad about Galley reading this year. Sorry publishers!

5) Finally read the rest of Jane Austen's books: I got the Barnes and Noble Jane Austen hardcover for Christmas this year. I've only ever read Pride and Prejudice and Emma. I think it's high time I've read the rest, especially as I've seen all the movies.

6) Read more John Scalzi. I loved Lock In. Time to read Redshirts finally. Also plan on reading more Chimanda Ngozi Adichie because Half a Yellow Sun was awesome.

7) Get more books I've been meaning to read forever out of the way: this includes: Diary of a True Part-Time Indian, Sabriel series by Garth Nix, some other Laurie Halse Anderson books, and so on.

8) Be more consistent about reviewing. My blog was really random this year, wasn't it? Sorry about that. At least I was kind of better then last year?

9) Do Thematic Sundays feature: I've decided to take the two features I had going for awhile and just combine them into one feature on Sundays, where I will take a theme and just rec any kind of book (adult, YA, MG whichever) that falls under that theme.

10) Get back into graphic novel reading and non-fiction reading: I sometimes like to take a genre I've been neglecting and get back into it. This year, I'm getting back into graphic novels because Ms. Marvel reminded me why I loved comics back in the day and I think I'll be doing some non-fiction reading because there have been some awesome looking ones coming out this past year (Yes Please by Amy Poehler, and Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay for example).

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Favorites of 2014 Part IV: Favorite Older Books I Read This Year

I read a lot of older books this year thanks to starting my reading through the library project (I'm halfway through the a authors! Go me!) and I finally got to some authors I'd been meaning to get to as well (hey there, Rowell). So, here are some of my favorite older books which were not published in 2014.

Personal Favorite Older Books not published in 2014:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce

The Raven Cycle Book 2: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Heather Wells Book 5: The Bride Wore Size 12 by Meg Cabot (adult)

Finishing School Book 2: Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Eleanor and Park/Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Various Discworld books by Terry Pratchett (adult) (not reviewed here because it's part of a long series)

The Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovich (adult) (totally caught up and love it, eagerly awaiting Foxglove)

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (adult)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Favorites of 2014 List Part III: Favorite New Series

So many series started this year. A bunch of them are awesome and going to keep everyone busy for awhile.

Personal Favorite New Series:

Sekret series by Lindsey Smith

Midnight Thief series by Livia Blackburne

Gates of Thread and Stone series by Lori M. Lee

Lock In series by John Scalzi (adult)

Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen (adult)

Death Sworn series by Leah Cypess

Rebel Belle series by Rachel Hawkins

The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

Prisoner of Night and Fog series by Anne Blankman

Illusive series by Emily Lloyd-Jones

The Young Elites series by Marie Lu

Friday, December 26, 2014

Favorites of 2014 List Part II: Favorite Sequels/Continuations/Conclusions

Unlike with debuts, I can say it was a damn good year for sequels. At least in YA. A couple of my favorite trilogies also ended this year, which makes me sad but makes me look forward to whatever the author has in store next.

Personal Favorite Sequels/Continuations/Conclusions

Madman's Daughter Book 2: Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepard

Dark Star Book 2: Burn Bright by Bethany Frennette

Lunar Chronicles 3: Cress by Marissa Meyer

American Fairy Trilogy Book 3: Bad Luck Girl by Sarah Zettel

Strange and Deadly Trilogy Book 3: Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Cahill Witch Chronicles Trilogy Book 3: Sister's Fate by Jessica Spotswood

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy Book 3: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Grisha Trilogy Book 3: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Naturals Book 2: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Lynburn Legacy Book 3: Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

I had a lot of feels this year...

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Favorites of 2014 List Part 1: Favorite Debuts

It was a mixture of good and bad debuts for me this year. Some I was really looking forward too turned out to be ho hum instead (Defy), others were just made of awesome. I'm happy to report I didn't run into outright BAD ones, so I guess it's been a decent year for the debs of 2014. All books are YA unless specified.

Personal favorite debuts in no particular order:

Bird Box by Josh Malerman (adult)

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

Illusive Book 1: Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Otherbound by Corrine Duyvis

Queen of the Tearling Book 1 by Erika Johansen (adult, though apparently there's debate about that)

Alienated Book 1: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Prisoner of Night and Fog Book 1 by Anne Blankman

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Book Review: The Cure for Dreaming

TITLE: The Cure for Dreaming
AUTHOR: Cat Winters
PUBLISHED: October 14th, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
PREMISE: A girl living under the thumb of her father gets hypnotized to be obedient, but instead gets visions of what people are really like underneath.
MY REVIEW: I actually think I like this one more then A Shadow of Blackbirds. Not that Shadow of Blackbirds wasn't good, it was. I just liked this one better. It felt more...polished if you will. There was more focus and that helped the story along.
Like Shadow of Blackbirds, the best parts of this are the historical notes. This author nails settings. I can picture everything. I honestly didn't even need the archive photos to help me, but they did enhance it because it showed she wasn't making this stuff up. I tell you, Victorian times were nutty man. There's reason a lot of people write about it.
Thanks to a more focused plot line, I think this was an improvement over Shadow of Blackbirds and once again, am eager to see what Winters cooks up for us next. She has such interesting ideas, I want to read them all.
WHO SHOULD READ: In the Shadow of Blackbirds fans, Gemma Doyle fans, historical fiction fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five hypnotists

Many thanks to the publishers for the Galley. Sorry this is late, I'm behind on my galley reading.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Book Review: Bird Box

TITLE: Bird Box
AUTHOR: Josh Malerman
GENRE: Dystopian
PUBLISHED: May 13th, 2014
PREMISE: A woman tries to survive in a world where you can't look up because if you do, there are monsters who will make you violent.
MY REVIEW: I think it's now safe to say that dystopians have caught on to the adult fiction section. So, maybe now we can stop accusing YA of only being dystopians? Sorry, that's just a thing that keeps being said lately that drives me bananas.
This book is your typical set up for a dystopian world where everyone is in danger. In fact, it reminds me an AWFUL lot of The Walking Dead. It's not a knock off though. Instead of zombies, there are beings who cause mass violence. No one actually sees these beings, they just know that if you look up and see them that you'll go homicidal and then kill yourself. The result is a very creepy survival type story.
This one was mostly good for the creep factor. Malerman is excellent at building suspense because it is a major page-turner. Story wise itself....average for dystopian thrillers. But a very well done average at least. This author is one to keep an eye on in the future. King, watch your back.
WHO SHOULD READ: Stephan King fans, Walking Dead fans, dystopian fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five evil birds

Book Review: The Dressmaker

TITLE: The Dressmaker
AUTHOR: Kate Alcott
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: A girl gets a job aboard the Titanic as dressmaker for a wealthy client....
MY REVIEW: This week's read through the library find is a book dealing with the Titanic. Sort of. I mean, the Titanic is there. Some of you may recall lots of Titanic books coming out in 2012 due to the bicentennial of it. This was one of those books.
I'll start with the good: the writer is good at nailing the setting. The best stuff in this is when she's describing the Titanic and the sinking of the boat was done pretty well also. suffers from being dull. Extremely dull. I'm sorry, other then the fact that she's a Titanic survivor, there's nothing really that interesting about Tess. I did find the aftermath mildly interesting, because not many people go into the legal fallout of what happened on the Titanic. But other then that and the moments they were on the Titanic...this book was rather boring.
It's not bad. It's just boring. The historical stuff is literally the only interesting thing going on in here. So if you're not a major Titanic buff, I would give this one a pass.
WHO SHOULD READ: Titanic buffs
MY RATING: Three out of Five wet dresses

Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review: Salt and Storm

TITLE: Salt and Storm
AUTHOR: Kendall Kulper
PUBLISHED: September 23rd, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: A young witch tries to embrace her destiny against her mother's wishes.
MY REVIEW: This was such a good debut. In fact, I think it's among my top ten of the year. It helped that the author did historical fantasy. My favorite sub-genre, because there's so much you can do with it.
It also did not follow all the typical YA rules. There's no love triangle, the main character goes through actual development, it doesn't make everything black and white and there's a dark twist at the end that I think took some guts to do, but the author stuck to it and that impressed me. Since it's not the typical YA, I imagine this won't be everyone's favorite and that's why there are such mixed reviews on Goodreads.
But personally, I thought this was a pretty solid and very creative debut. Kulper is one to keep an eye on in the future, if this her debut, I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
WHO SHOULD READ: historical fantasy fans, Gemma Doyle Trilogy fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five ships gone to sea

Note to readers: There will be quite a few reviews over the next few days as I'm playing review catch-up till the end of the year. Along with that, I'll be doing my favorites of the year lists from Christmas on until New Years Eve, where I'll finish off with my book goals for 2015. Then it's on to a new book year! Always exciting. I already have a few Galleys waiting to be read on my Kindle.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review: The Walled City

TITLE: The Walled City
AUTHOR: Ryan Graudin
PUBLISHED: November 4rth, 2014
GENRE: Eh...hard to say.
PREMISE: Three people live in a city of prisoners and try their best to survive.
MY REVIEW: This book will probably not be to everyone's taste. Which probably accounts for the mixed reviews it's gotten on Goodreads. It's violent and doesn't shy away from that fact. The characters aren't exactly your do-good likable protagonists turned anti-heroes either. In short: this book is dark. If that is not your thing, this probably won't appeal to you.
For those wondering why I say hard to say when it comes to the genre. Well, it's complicated. It feels like a dystopian. But the Walled City was an actual place in China and this story takes place there. So it could also be historical fiction. But there's some modernization in it as well. So...I don't know. You could say it's one of those books that defies genre.
Personally, I really liked this one. It may not be the most buzzed about book of the year (that one seems to be We Were Liars in the YA scene, I'm getting to it, I swear), but it definitely is memorable.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those who like dark books, Game of Thrones fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five places you don't want to live at

Many thanks to the publishers for the Net Galley of this book.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future

TITLE: Glory O'Brien's History of the Future
PUBLISHED: October 14th, 2014
GENRE: Magical Realism
PREMISE: A girl starts to get visions of people's past and future.
MY REVIEW: I'll be honest, as a rule, I don't get into magical realism all that much. It's just a very frustrating genre for me. I don't know if it's just that I've read poor examples of the genre (Time Traveler's Wife) or if the genre is just not for me. I do know WHY it frustrates me. They all have these great set-ups and then there's literally no explanation for the set up, all the focus is on boring melodrama. Seriously, you have a guy who time travels through his past/future and you're focusing not on why, but on his dull predictable romance?
Some of that persists here. It is never explained WHY Glory and her friend get these visions. They just do because of the bat stuff they drank. However, at least in this, the characters are interesting enough to make up for the fact that I wanted the story to focus more on the fascinating dystopian that King described. Seriously, she described it beautifully and honestly, it was more thought out then half of the actual dystopian books that I've read. What got me through this book was the interesting future she painted, and the beautiful writing. I LOVE King's prose. I am definitely reading some of her other books in the future.
While the ending is a tad abrupt for my taste, I overall really liked this book. The set up was unique (even if it was never explained) and it was beautifully written.
WHO SHOULD READ: A.S. King fans, magical realism fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five dead bats

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review: Maplecroft

TITLE: Maplecroft
Book 1 in the Borden Dispatches
AUTHOR: Cherie Priest
PUBLISHED: September 2nd, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: The story of Lizzie Borden is not what we think it was: her parents were murdered because they were possessed by an evil.
MY REVIEW: I admit, I mostly picked this up because the idea sounded clever. It was. It was a twist on a familiar tale and I always like it when authors take events in history and go "well what-if".
That said...I could have done without all the POVs. Probably could have left it in the sister's POV and be done with it. We didn't need all these doctor men chiming in. Especially because that really slowed down the pace. I found myself skimming their chapters to be honest, because I didn't feel they added anything I really needed to know.
So, other then too many POVs and slow pace, this was an interesting take on Lizzie Borden.
WHO SHOULD READ: horror fans, Cherie Priest fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five axes

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Book Review: Unmade

TITLE: Unmade
Book 3 in the Lynburn Legacy Trilogy
AUTHOR: Sarah Rees Brennan
PUBLISHED: September 23rd, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Witches
PREMISE: Kami and the gang take a final stand against Rob, but not without consequences.
MY REVIEW: Warning: I have extreme bias when it comes to this series. Pretty much, I adore anything Brennan writes. This book is no exception. It's not often I can say I loved a trilogy the whole through, but with this one, I can honestly say that.
As a conclusion, it did it all. It solved lingering questions, it solved plot lines, had a epic conclusion where Rob finally got his and that conclusion was not without sacrifice (RUSTY! ;gross sobbing;). It did it all through the trademark humor this series always had. I'm honestly hard pressed to find things I didn't like about this series. I don't know...maybe if you don't like snark? Or sassy characters? I'm sure such readers like that exist some where (and I feel very sorry for them).
Basically, I loved the hell out of this. Just as I've loved the hell out of this whole trilogy. I can't wait to see whatever Brennan has up her sleeve next. Whatever it is, I'm game.
WHO SHOULD READ: Sarah Rees Brennan fans, fans of the first two books,
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five (would be full five stars, but I'm feeling a bit vindictive about Rusty ;never forget;)

Book Review: Unmarked

TITLE: Unmarked
Book 2 in the Legion series
AUTHOR: Kami Garcia
PUBLISHED: September 30th, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Kennedy and the other members of the legion continue their quest to hunt down the demon that was set free on their watch.
MY REVIEW: THIS is how you sequel, folks. I actually go as far to agree with the blurb that this surpasses the original. Not that the original was bad, it certainly wasn't. But this one definitely upped it a notch.
First: no more love triangle! Which means, no more clogging up page space, which means we get to focus more on plot and character development. This is always a good thing in my book. We get more details on characters and the result is more fully realized people and less looking like a Supernatural with better female characters.
This was all around a good sequel with better character focus/development, better plot thickening, and just all around...better. Now really looking forward to the next book.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, Supernatural fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five good sequels

Friday, December 12, 2014

Book Review: The Infinite Sea

TITLE: The Infinite Sea
Book 2 in the Fifth Wave Trilogy
AUTHOR: Rick Yancey
PUBLISHED: September 16th, 2014
GENRE: Science-Fiction
PREMISE: Cassie and Ringer try to survive in a world where aliens want all the humans dead.
MY REVIEW: For some reason, I couldn't get into this one as much as I got into the Fifth Wave. Part of it was that it suffered from major second book syndrome.
Another part is that it didn't seem to have any focus. POVs jumped around, which did not happen in the first book. The plot went all over the place. It just kept going back and forth between focus and it was startling when that happened. It didn't help that all the characters sounded alike, so I was busy trying to figure out who was speaking all the time. It made for a far less enjoyable reading experience then my experience with the first book.
I concede that it moved the plot forward and gave character development. It just...wasn't as focused as I would have liked. It actually sort of felt like a stall book. Like the author meant to have this be two books, instead of three. It wasn't bad or just wasn't as good as Fifth Wave.
WHO SHOULD READ: The Fifth Wave fans, sci-fi/dystopian fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five alien spaceships

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Book Review: Unraveled

TITLE: Unraveled
Crewel World Trilogy Book 3
AUTHOR: Gennifer Albin
PUBLISHED: October 7th, 2014
GENRE: Fantasy, Dystopian
PREMISE: Conclusion to the Crewel World series
MY REVIEW: As far as final books go, I will concede this got everything done. It answered questions, solved plot lines, had a satisfying conclusion, etc.
It's wasn't very shocking of a conclusion. Literally, everything happened as I expected it too. Which is fine, that means readers who liked this trilogy a lot will get what they wanted. It just doesn't make for a very memorable conclusion like say Mockingjay. Say what you will about Mockingjay, that ending is memorable and powerful.
This...was perfectly all right. It just isn't one of those endings I feel a need to discuss that much.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first two books
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review: The Fire Artist

TITLE: The Fire Artist
AUTHOR: Daisy Whitney
PUBLISHED: October 14th, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl has magic powers that she obtained illegally and meets a jinni who promises to make her powers real.
MY REVIEW: I have to hand it to Whitney, she comes up with different books every time. This time, she's tackling jinnis and the world she's come up with here is great.
The only real downside is, once again, the instant-love. If we purged instant-love and love triangles from YA, the section would be ten times better off. The instant-love dragged down an otherwise pretty decent read. The world building is great, the character journey is satisfying. I particularly liked what the author did with jinni's (genies?) here. The only unsatisfying thing is the romance, on which the book focuses too much time on.
But again, for the most part it's a rather decent read. Definitely worth a check out from the library at the very least.
WHO SHOULD READ: Daisy Whitney fans, urban fantasy fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five jinni's being shady

Many thanks to the publishers for the Net Galley of this book.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2014

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

This week: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors in 2014

1) Rainbow Rowell-I was late to the Rowell parade. I heard about her last year, obviously (you would have had to be living in a cave not to have heard about her last year), I just never got around to reading either of her books, even though Fangirl was practically calling my name because of its title. But I finally got to her this year, and I'm really glad I did. I shall be reading her adult books this upcoming year, when I get the chance.

2) Ben Aaronovich-Aaronovich was one of the first authors I found in my reading through the library project (I'm on the second shelf for those curious about my progress). The Peter Grant series is awesome urban fantasy with diversity, humor, and great world-building and wonderful descriptions of London. Go check it out immediately, especially if you're a urban fantasy fan of any sort.

3) John Scalzi-I finally got to Scalzi this year by reading his latest, Lock In. I wound up loving it and I think this year, I'm going to try and get to Redshirts and some of his other previous work.

4) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie-Another library find author, this one from Nigeria. She writes well written and thought provoking historical fiction. I read Half of a Yellow Sun, and next year I'm hoping to tackle Americanah.

5) A. S. King-I literally just finished my first A.S. King yesterday and loved it (review is coming). Definitely will be reading more of her books next year.

6) Robert Jackson Bennett-I'd actually never heard of Bennett before I picked up City of Stairs. Apparently the fantasy world has been keeping him under wraps or something because he's been apparently writing for awhile.

7) Mark Lawrence-Never read the Broken Empire series, though I had heard of it. I picked up his latest from this year not realizing it was a spin-off of said series. Might look into the rest next year if I have the chance.

8) Lauren Beukes-I've actually never heard of Beukes either, until everyone started raving about Broken Monsters. I definitely see why she's a thing, even if Broken Monsters wasn't my favorite in the world.

9) Megan Abbott-Another read through the library find. As luck would have it, I discovered her just as The Fever started getting buzz. I haven't read that one yet, but shall try my best too, next year.

10) Natalie Whipple-This author has actually written a YA or two before that I've always meant to read but never got too. This year though, I got to House of Ivy and Sorrow and loved the hell out of it. Definitely will be looking into her other books now.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Book Review: Firebug

TITLE: Firebug
Book 1 in the Firebug series
AUTHOR: Lish McBride
PUBLISHED: September 23rd, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl who can start fires with her mind tries to pull out of the mafia that she's tied too.
MY REVIEW: I have never read Lish McBride's work before this. Therefore, going into this I had no expectations because I had no experience with this author's work before. So, that said....I'm not particularly impressed.
The book is not horrible. I love the set-up of the world. The plot is fun. It just...reminds so much of many YA urban fantasy books that I've read before. The magical mafia thing, for instance, reminded me of the Curse Workers (and the Curse Workers was better thought out). The fire starter idea is not really anything new, it's been done in several series. What helped was the characters, except even the characters were problematic for me, because of the holy slut shaming Batman. Yes, that's right, the author did the whole "girly girls are the enemies folks" and I cannot go on enough about how over that trope I am. The main character was cool to me, up until she took one look at the blonde girl she was double-dating with and decided then and there she must be a slut. How did she decide this? Because she's blonde and had the nerve to wear make up and nice clothes to a date. All of this, without having ONE full conversation with her, or knowing anything about her background. STOP THIS AUTHORS. PLEASE. It's shitty. Girls get torn down enough as it is, do you have to encourage girls to tear each other down too? No, the girl being super girly and liking boys does not make it okay.
So...this one was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I liked the set up, and dialogue, and plot. But it just wasn't really that original and I wanted to scream at all the slut shaming. So...mixed feelings about this one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Lish McBride fans, urban fantasy fans, Curse Workers fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five mafias

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward Too in 2015

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

This week: Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward Too in 2015

1) Fairest and Winter from the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Being Released: Fairest is out Jan. 6th, Winter is out November 24rth.

Why: Yes, I'm totally cheating by putting two books from the same series and counting them as one. I'm looking forward to BOTH of them. Don't make me choose just one. I can't.

2) Magnus Chase 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Being Released: October 6th, 2015

Why: Um, Riordan tackling Norse Gods? Can I get a hell yes? Note to self: maybe try to actually read the rest of the Heroes of Olympus series before this comes out (I've only read Lost Hero, I'm woefully behind).

3) Diviners Book 2: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Being Released: God willing, April 14th, 2015

Why: Please no more delay, please no more delay, PLEASE NO MORE DELAY.

4) Seraphina Book 2: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Being Released: God willing (again), March 10th, 2015

Why: Seraphina was awesome. I needed the sequel like a year ago.

5) The Custard Protocol Book 1: Prudence and Finishing School 4: Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger

Being Released: Prudence is out March 17th and Manners and Mutiny should be out sometime in November.

Why: Yes, I'm cheating again. There's just so many awesome books coming out this year and ten is not enough to go over them all.

6) Nevermore Trilogy Book 3: Oblivion by Kelly Creagh

Being Released: God willing (please note, I'm saying that a LOT this year ;glares at authors; ;then hugs them in understanding;) July 28th, 2015

Why: See the god willing thing. Also, this trilogy is awesome and seriously underrated.

7) Embassy Row Book 1: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Being Released: January 27th, 2014

Why: I love this author's books. I can't wait to read her new series which looks like it's going to be just as fun as the other two.

8) Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Being Released: May 19th, 2015

Why: I loved Entwined. It is one of my favorite retellings. Among the top ten at least. This one sounds particularly awesome. Steampunk, parallel worlds. Sign me up.

9) Rook by Sharon Cameron

Being Released: April 28th, 2015

Why: The Dark Unwinding books are seriously underrated and this one sounds pretty awesome. Also, cover lust, I have it right now.

10) The Wrath and the Dawn Book 1 by Renee Ahdieh

Being Released: May 12th, 2015

Why: A retelling of A Thousand and One Nights? Um...yes, please?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Review: Half of a Yellow Sun

TITLE: Half of a Yellow Sun
AUTHOR: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: A group of people live their lives during the Nigerian civil war in the 1960s.
MY REVIEW: This is both a another library find and a book I've been meaning to read for awhile now. So, two birds with one stone, right?
I will warn, this is a heavy book. It's about the civil war in Nigeria that took place in the 1960s, therefore many not so happy things happen. Because Nigeria during that time, wasn't the best place to be.
This is not a light read, it's very much a thinking kind of book. It will make you think about many things, because the author has a lot of stuff happen in this book worth discussing. First, there's the Nigerian civil war itself, a topic I confess I don't know much about because of our amazingly American centered education system. After that, there's much discussion about race issues, which as evidenced by Ferguson are still very much relevant. Then there's just how war effect all of us, no matter what walk of life we come from.
Again, this is not a book I would read if you want light hearted reads. However, if you want a book to curl up with that makes you think about some serious issues for awhile...I definitely recommend this one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Literature fans, historical fiction fans, Book Thief fans, war book fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Review: Snow Like Ashes

TITLE: Snow Like Ashes
Book 1 in the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy
AUTHOR: Sara Raasch
PUBLISHED: October 14th, 2014
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: In another world, a girl helps a resistance movement and discovers secrets about her past.
MY REVIEW: I have...mixed feelings about this one. There are things I liked about it and things I honestly could have done without. For the most part it was a decent debut...but I could tell it was a debut. It could have stood a lot of editing/world info/less telling instead of showing.
Then there's the ever dreaded love triangle which again: dragged down an otherwise okay book. Seriously authors: if you don't need a love triangle, DON'T PUT ONE IN. There's a damn good reason people are tired of them right now. I liked the imagination of the world, the end had some good twists, and there were some character feels here and there.
The book wasn't a total wash. I just feel like it could have been ten times better with lots of polishing.
WHO SHOULD READ: YA fantasy fans Dragon King Chronicles fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five could have been better sighs

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: On My Winter TBR List

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

This week: Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR List.

Again, as my TBR list is HUGE as always (need to start getting more picky), I'm sticking to books publishing in the winter season. So books published during December, January, and February.

1) Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Being Released: December 1rst, 2014

Why: Theatre Illuminata is one of my favorite really under appreciated trilogies. The author hasn't written anything since it ended almost two years ago. Plus, it's steampunk. I love me my steampunk.

2) Dark Star Book 3: Fire Fall by Bethany Frennette

Being Released: Jan. 6th, 2014

Why: Another underrated series that I love which is sadly coming to end. Hopefully the author has more new stuff coming.

3) Brothers Grimm Mystery series 1: Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints by P. J. Brackston

Being Released: January 15th, 2014

Why: It's about a grown up Gretel going out and solving cases. If you don't want to read that, I don't know what's wrong with you.

4) The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Being Released: January 13th, 2014

Why: It's Holly Black, nuff said.

5) Splintered Book 3: Ensnared by A. G. Howard

Being Released: January 6th, 2014

Why: I love this wacky Alice in Wonderland reimagining.

6) Avalon Trilogy Book 2: Polaris by Mindee Arnett

Being Released: January 20th, 2014

Why: Avalon was a favorite of this year. Can't wait to read the sequel.

7) Fever series Book 7: Burned by Karen Marie Moning

Being Released: January 20th, 2014

Why: One word: FINALLY. Almost two years waiting after that cliffhanger in Iced. Not cool, Moning. Not cool.

8) Lunar Chronicles Book 3.5: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Being Released: January 27th, 2014

Why: It's Lunar Chronicles. Nuff said.

9) Bloodlines Book 6: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Being Released: February 10th, 2014

Why: Bloodlines conclusion! Feels like only yesterday that we were celebrating the start of this series. Ah, nostalgia...

10) Shades of London Book 3: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Being Released: February 10th, 2014

Why: Been waiting quite awhile for this one. Such a good paranormal thriller series.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

What to Read Next After: The Book Thief

So, maybe you've finally gotten to The Book Thief ;gives you tissues for your tears and feels;. Now, you're ready for some more WWII fiction, because hey, that Pearl Harbor anniversary is coming up. Here are some books to try out next:

1) The Diary of Anne Frank

Going to get the most obvious choice out of the way. If you read WWII books, this should be one of the first ones you go too. Hopefully, your school teachers have already covered this one in class. But you never know with teachers, so if you haven't read it in school, try it out now.

2) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This one is about a spy for Allies who gets caught by the Nazis. I'll warn you now: it's a heavy book. But damn, is it good. When you're done, check out its sequel Rose Under Fire. Also good news if you've read both of those: there's another one coming out next year called Black Dove, White Raven (I think...).

3) Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

You probably know Lowry best for The Giver. Well, my first encounter with her writing was this book, which was assigned to me in school for a project of some sort that I don't remember now, but I do remember this book. It's just as good as The Giver.

4) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This one goes into the Russian side of things in WWII. It's about what Russians did to Lithuanians, told through the eyes of an teenage artist who is forced to go to one of their work camps. No, Nazi's did not have the monopoly on being horrible to other human beings.

5) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

I actually have not read this one yet ;ducks; but from the sound of it, it's in the same vein as Book Thief. This one is about a son of a Nazi who meets another boy from a concentration camp who starts to question what the Nazis are doing.

Other books to look at:

Prisoner of Night and Fog Book 1 by Anne Blankman
Annexed by Sharon Dogar
Atonement by Ian McEwan

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Review: Killer Instinct

TITLE: Killer Instinct
Book 2 in the Naturals series
AUTHOR: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
PUBLISHED: November 4rth, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
PREMISE: The group, still dealing with the consequences of the last book, embarks on a new mystery. This one dealing with a serial killer who is copying the work of Dean's serial killer father.
MY REVIEW: Ever wonder what CSI/NCIS shows would possibly be like if the characters were teenagers with baggage and powers? Well, it would probably look something like this series. Which would mean I would actually watch it and not get bored after two episodes (I have nothing against these franchises...I just find them really boring and repetitive).
Barnes takes the CSI set up and does it more along the lines of shows like Bones/Castle/Elementary (shout out to my favs) where there's more character development along with the progression of the mystery. It pays off too, because the result is an engrossing mystery series with characters I actually want to spend time with. I don't even mind the love triangle in this (which I think was basically resolved in this book, thank goodness), it's that fun. Honestly, my only wish is that we get more time with Sloane. But that's mostly because she's my favorite and I feel like she's not as developed as the rest of the group and I would like more info on her.
This did everything second books should do. It progressed the characters, solved lingering issues, and created new ones for future purposes. Honestly, if Barnes wanted, I can see this becoming a long running series. I would be all for it.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of The Naturals, mystery show fans, Barnes fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five serial killers

Many thanks to Disney-Hyperian for the Net Galley of this book.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: Thyme of Death

TITLE: Thyme of Death
Book 1 in the China Bayles series
AUTHOR: Susan Wittig Albert
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PREMISE: A former lawyer who owns a shop gets involved when an apparent suicide of a close friend is in fact a murder.
MY REVIEW: So, here's my weekly read the through the library find. I...wasn't that wild about this one. To be honest, it's entirely me. There's nothing really WRONG about the book. It was just a bunch of little things that bugged me that kept me from enjoying it.
For's pretty dated, particularly in attitude. I can absolutely tell a middle-aged white conservative lady wrote this. And no, there's nothing wrong with being a middle-aged white conservative lady. But it did mean that I spent a majority of the book wanting to bang my head on the wall at some of the nonsense going on in the book. For instance there's a conversation about guns that makes me cringe. I'm trying to keep in mind that this woman is from Texas and she wrote this pre-Columbine and not in this day and age where there's a shooting every damn week. But it did make me groan nonetheless (I'm pro-gun control. No, I don't want to take away your precious guns, but you can't honestly tell me you need to take a gun into a freaking Target).
Then there's the air of judgement that tended to come every time China spoke about someone who didn't behave "appropriately". This someone was almost always a woman. I also can't help but notice how strange it is that everyone in this town (a college town, mind you, not some small Stars Hollow ville place) was white. Literally, everyone. Oh, and don't get me started on the treatment of the revelation that the victim was a lesbian. It made it out to be some scandalous thing, and then the author did the preference bs. Being LGBT is not a preference/lifestyle choice people. Being LGBT is a part of who that person is. They do not choose it. Basically, this book was trying to be feminist (or what the author thought feminism was at the time), but really it kind of failed. Miserably. That's not even going into the fact that the main character BURNS EVIDENCE AT THE END. What self-respecting former lawyer burns evidence? I don't care if you're trying to protect someones image, you don't freaking do that.
Now, this series is still going on apparently, so for all I know the author has changed stuff and fixed the problematic things (people can change their viewpoints, it happens). However, I don't particularly care enough to find out as other then getting annoyed at the bad feminism, I was pretty bored through out this really predictable mystery.
WHO SHOULD READ: conservative cozy mystery fans
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five yawns

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book Review: Trial by Fire

TITLE: Trial by Fire
Book 1 in the World Walking Trilogy
AUTHOR: Josephine Angelini
PUBLISHED: September 2nd, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl gets pulled into a parallel universe where magic is every day and her other self rules supreme.
MY REVIEW: Angelini's books are ultimate guilty pleasures for me. I concede that they aren't that challenging or even that original in places. I also concede that the world building can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.
But damn it, she knows how to spin a good yarn. All the little issues tend to go by the wayside because you get engrossed in the fast paced plot and next thing you know, you've already finished the book a day later. I will warn that the first fifty pages are a bit of a struggle because that's the bulk of the teen melodrama. Once you get past that to when she gets into the parallel world is when it starts to get good.
In short, this was a fast and entertaining read, much like the trilogy she did before. If you liked her Starcrossed Trilogy the you'll probably like this. If you didn't for whatever reason, then this probably is not going to be for you.
WHO SHOULD READ: Starcrossed Trilogy fans, parallel universe book fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five rulers being shady

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: Evil Librarian

TITLE: Evil Librarian
AUTHOR: Michelle Knudsen
PUBLISHED: September 9th, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Demons
PREMISE: A girl discovers her librarian is a demon and is slowly taking over the school.
MY REVIEW: I'll be honest, I mostly picked up this book because of the title. Awesome title is awesome and has a great hook. Who wouldn't want to read a book about an evil librarian? Come on. Plus, it describes the book perfectly. It's about a girl who discovers her librarian is evil. Straightforward and to the point title.
The humor of the title also extends to the book and it's pretty much why I enjoyed this book. It's very clearly meant to be a fun urban fantasy romp and fun urban fantasy romp it is. It never asks you to take it seriously (so I don't particularly understand half the reviews I've seen complaining about every little thing) and is just all around FUN.
If you're looking for a urban fantasy that is fun, I definitely recommend this one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Buffy fans, urban fantasy fans looking for a fun time
MY RATING: Four out of Five librarians hiding dark secrets

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait to Get

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

This week: Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait to Get:

1) Diviners Book 2: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
Being Released: God willing that there's no more delay, April 2015

Why: Because Diviners is freaking awesome and I've been waiting for over TWO YEARS for this book. I'm not yelling at Bray, I get that when the writing juice doesn't come, it doesn't come. But seriously: two years.

2) Seraphina Book 2: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Being Released: March 2015, god willing again.

Why: another sequel to an awesome book that I've been waiting forever for.

3) Lunar Chronicles 3.5: Fairest AND Lunar Chronicles 4: Winter by Marissa Meyer
Being Released: Fairest will be out on January 27th, and Winter is going to be out November 15th (just in time for my birthday next year! I know what I'm spending my birthday money on that year)

Why: Because Lunar Chronicles is awesome. If you haven't read it yet, get Cinder like now.

4) The Custard Protocol Book 1: Prudence by Gail Carriger
Being Released: March 17th, 2015

Why: Okay, I'm kind of cheating with this one since technically it's a new series. BUT it's a new series that is a sequel to a pre-existing series. So I say it totally counts as a sequel. Prudence is the daughter of Alexia and don't even try to tell me you don't want to read about Alexia and Lord Maccon's kid.

5) Madman's Daughter Trilogy Book 3: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shephard
Being Released: January 2015

Why: I've been a fan of this vastly underrated trilogy since the beginning. I can't wait to see how it ends.

6) Winner's Trilogy Book 2: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Being Released: March 2015

Why: Really enjoyed the twists and turns of Winner's Curse. Can't wait to continue the story.

7) Nevermore Trilogy Book 3: Oblivion by Kelly Creagh
Being Released: July 28th, 2015

Why: yet another sequel to an awesome series that I've been waiting for forever.

8) Mediator Book 7: Remembrance by Meg Cabot (no cover out yet)
Being Released: February 2016

Why: Mediator series was my crack as a teen. You seriously think I'm not looking forward to reading about Suze as an adult? I hope she gets to visit Father Dom at her alma matter, ;crosses fingers;

9) Princess Diaries 11: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot (no cover yet)
Being Released: June 2nd, 2015

Why: Mia and Michael's wedding! Mia and Michael's wedding! MIA AND MICHAEL'S WEDDING!

10) Game of Thrones Book 6 and beyond by George R. R. Martin
Being Released: Who the hell knows when.

Why: Because it's Game of Thrones and there were several cliffhangers in A Dance of Dragons. Get it out already, Martin.