Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books if You Like Castle

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

This week: Top Ten books if you like X TV Show

I chose Castle because the other one would have probably been Once Upon a Time and I've already done lots of retelling lists here. Time to mix it up. So I'm picking my guilty pleasure: Castle (though really, these books would be good for other buddy cop mystery shows as well such as Bones and Elementary, which I also watch, because I have a mystery show addiction problem).

1) The Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle-Oh come on, like I was going to have this list and NOT mention these? ABC did a brilliant thing here by having a ghost writer (my personal theory is that it's James Patterson because the dude doesn't sleep) write the series that Castle writes in the show. It's a typical thriller series but if you're a fan of Castle, there are a ton of fun easter eggs in the books for you. Oh, the Derek Storm series (the other series Castle is known for in the show) has also been started, but I haven't read those so I can't say yay or nay yet.

2) Deadly Cool series by Gemma Halliday-This two book series (though apparently a third is on its way) has a sassy teen who starts off her career by clearing the name of her douchebag ex when he's implicated in a murder.

3) The Agency series by Y. S. Lee-Historical Mystery series (that has a forth book coming in June!) that has a savvy female spy who has a great snarky romance while serving queen and country.

4) Confessions series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro-I have to give props to a author who actually has showed up on Castle. Any one of his series should please Castle fans but I'm picking his current YA series because I'm really digging it right now and can't wait for book 3 (coming god knows when this year).

5) Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs-Yes, the series that Bones is based on. Because I am unoriginal that way.

6) The Liar Society series by Lisa Roecker-Mystery series about a sassy teen girl looking into the death of her friend. Rather Veronica Mars like but manages to be its own thing at the same time (also good for VM fans)

7) Prep School Confidential series by Kara Taylor-Another one about a girl looking into the death of her friend and uncovering secrets. Also good for Veronica Mars fans

8) Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson-Old school noir, perfect for Castle fans who are there for the mystery aspect (who don't mind mysteries with darker subjects).

9) Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling-Another old school noir mystery that the mystery lovers should enjoy.

10) Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich-Plum has wacky hijinks that almost put Castle to shame.

Also, really any sort of cozy mystery series would probably do as most of them tend to follow the tv show mystery drama formula.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Cress

TITLE: Cress
Book 3 in the Lunar Chronicles
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
PUBLISHED: February 4rth, 2014
GENRE: Science Fiction, Retelling/Reimagining
PREMISE: Cinder and co. go to a satellite to encounter Cress, a hacker who's been kept indoors for the past seven years, keeping an eye on the empire...
MY REVIEW: It really says something that three books later, I'm still pumped for this series, and it still manages to entertain me with its clever little twists on very familiar tales. It's hard to keep interest going in a three book series, let alone a four book one. So I give props to the author for keeping this series a must read.
I loved this one just as much as the other two. I will say it does feel a bit like a stopover on the way to a really awesome finale. It's a pleasant stopover. It gives answers, keeps up the plot, gives new characters, and Cress is the most adorable thing in like, ever. But...it is a stopover.
But if you're going to have a stopover book, you do it this way. I am in no way complaining about the book. I still very much love this series and I can't wait for Winter even though I'm also going to be very sorry to see this series go. This series continues to be awesome.
WHO SHOULD READ: Lunar Chronicles fans, Once Upon a Time fans, retelling fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five adorable protagonists

Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: Rise of the Arcane Fire

TITLE: Rise of the Arcane Fire
Book 2 in the Secret Order series
AUTHOR: Kristin Bailey
PUBLISHED: February 4rth, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fantasy/Steampunk, Mystery
PREMISE: Meg joins the Order like she wanted, but quickly learns that all is not as it seems...
MY REVIEW: I honestly have mixed feelings about this series. Especially after this sequel. On one hand: it's steampunk. You all know how I love my steampunk. On the other hand...it's really slow.
Then there's the mixed messages. I mean, on one hand, it's very awesome that Meg is brainy and goes against the system. On the other hand...Meg is apparently the only female who does this and the book does its best to make all other females who aren't Meg out to be terrible shrews. Yeah, I'm not down with that. You can have your female character be awesome in a way that doesn't put down other types of women. Then suddenly, there's a love triangle. Worse, the other male love interest is one who puts down Meg constantly but somehow she still has a thing for him. Spare me.
So...I'm not sure if I'll be continuing this. This was a really slow sequel, and I'm not really wild about the direction the series took.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first Secret Order, steampunk mystery fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five mechanical contraptions

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: The Well's End

TITLE: The Well's End
Book 1 in a new series?
AUTHOR: Seth Fishman
PUBLISHED: February 25th, 2014
GENRE: Er...Sci-Fi I think..., kind of mystery
PREMISE: A girl's life is turned upside down when her school is put under guard by soldiers when the adults start rapidly aging.
MY REVIEW: This was...an interesting read. It starts off strangely and honestly...ends strangely. I don't really know what to call it either. Is it dystopian, sci-fi, what? I think it could have been more focused sometimes. For instance there are a couple of scenes in the beginning that were totally not necessary. Actually, the romance between the main character and the new guy wasn't even needed because the stuff going on was interesting enough without that.
Character wise...it was okay. The book seemed more focused on the stuff going on then on characters but I will give the author credit because he did try.
There are a few ups and downs that are typical of a first novel. But all in all it was a good book. It doesn't look like a sequel has been announced yet...but with that ending...there kind of needs to be one because it left in a rather awkward place.
WHO SHOULD READ: Um...no idea really, Dystopian fans I guess...
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five wells

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: The Private School Murders

TITLE: The Private School Murders
Book 2 in the Confessions series
AUTHOR: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: Tandy's adventures as a detective aren't over. Now she not only has to clear her brother's name, but solve the murders of local private school girls, and figure out what happened to the boy she fell for but can't remember.
MY REVIEW: Patterson books can always be kind of off and on for me. Luckily, this series seems to be one that is on. True, the mysteries are pretty normal thriller wise but are interesting enough to keep reading.
What keeps me interested in this one is the interesting character of Tandy. She very much reminds me of Veronica Mars and that is not at all a bad thing (yes, I'm a Marshmellow). The interesting family dynamics as well as the colorful cast of characters (C.P. is the best) make the rather normal mystery more fun.
No, it's not the most original thing in the world. But if you are in the mood for a sassy girl detective mystery, this definitely fits the bill.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of Confessions of a Murder Suspect, Police TV procedural fans, James Patterson fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five sassy detectives

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: The Nightmare Dilemma

TITLE: The Nightmare Dilemma
Book 2 in the Arkwell Academy series
AUTHOR: Mindee Arnett
PUBLISHED: March 4rth, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
PREMISE: Dusty investigates when a classmate is assaulted and the school's resident jerk is the number one suspect.
MY REVIEW: Last year, The Nightmare Affair, was one of my favorite underrated books. So I was looking forward to The Nightmare Dilemma quite a bit. Luckily this is a case where the sequel did not disappoint.
There was a solid mystery. There was character AND plot growth. It entertained all the way through to the end. It answered some questions, but also brought new ones. It did everything a sequel should do.
I was pleased and I can't wait for the next book (as well as the next Avalon book. If you haven't read the author's new book Avalon, you totally should).
WHO SHOULD READ: The Nightmare Affair fans, Mindee Arnett fans, magic boarding school trope fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five magic boarding schools

Book Review: The Line

TITLE: The Line
Book 1 in the Witching Savannah series
AUTHOR: J. D. Horn
PUBLISHED: January 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Witches
PREMISE: In the deep south a woman with a powerful magic family finds out her family is hiding dark secrets...
MY REVIEW: When this came out, it was quickly billed as the perfect replacement for Sookie Stackhouse lovers which is why I took notice of it because I am in mourning for the fabulous character that is Sookie (book!Sookie, TV!Sookie...I'm not going to miss as much). Now...I definitely see why this is recommended for Sookie fans. It's got the same sort of dark urban fantasy deep south feel that Sookie has and it's got mystery wrapped up in the fantasy part.
However, it doesn't have what Sookie had, which is likable characters who you actually want to spend time with. I'm sorry, but practically all these characters in here, I wanted to smack at some point. That includes the main character who was just as insufferable as her family. If not more so, because the author kept trying to get me to sympathize with her by pulling the pity card, but all I felt towards her was annoyance. Then there was the random plotting at the end which kind of evolved into a really messy ending that made even the worst season of True Blood look good. Also some of the stereotypes in here bothered me to no end such as the entire character of Mother Jilo. She may have been an interesting character, but she was horribly stereotyped in a way that came across as borderline racist. I say borderline because I have a feeling that the author, a white guy, probably didn't realize his portrayal came across as a racist stereotype.
So...I'm torn to be honest. On one hand: it entertains, the world building is interesting, the writing is solid. On the other hand: characters were vastly annoying, the ending was messy, and there were problematic things all over the place in it. So...I say check this out of the library first to see if it's for you.
WHO SHOULD READ: True Blood fans, Urban Fantasy fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five shrugs

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Review: Tin Star

TITLE: Tin Star
Apparently this is the first in a new series...
AUTHOR: Cecil Castellucci
PUBLISHED: February 25th, 2014
GENRE: Science Fiction
PREMISE: A girl gets trapped on a space station when she is betrayed and must learn to survive there.
MY REVIEW: I've read Castellucci off and on for awhile now. This is the first one of hers I've read that has not been a contemporary (I believe the one she did last year was sci-fi, but I never got around to reading that one). Luckily it looks like Castellucci is one who can pull off different genres. In fact, I actually kind of like this one more then I liked her contemporary ones. But I wouldn't put much stock in that since, as I've said many times, contemporary fiction isn't really my favorite genre to begin with.
This is a more character focused sort of sci-fi. Mostly, it deals with Tula's personal growth. It's a interesting journey. Tula is a interesting character and watching her grow is pleasing. Sometimes though, I think it limits the world building a bit because we only get Tula's POV and she's stuck on the station so we only get the details she knows. Which is good, that's good writing there. But...I really want to know more about this universe she's in. It's interesting and sadly, we don't get as much info this way.
Aside from that and a slightly abrupt ending, this is a satisfying book. The writing is solid and it's a good character study. All in all, I say it's a job well done. EDIT: I just found out that apparently this is going to be a series. So that explains the abrupt ending.
WHO SHOULD READ: Castellucci fans, Sci-fi fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five space stations

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Review: Steadfast

TITLE: Steadfast
Book 2 in the Spellcaster Series
AUTHOR: Claudia Gray
PUBLISHED: March 4rth, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Witches
PREMISE: Nadia and Co. deal with Elizabeth who is going after them with a vengeance.
MY REVIEW: If ever I want entertaining urban fantasy that doesn't make me feel like I'm losing IQ points, I turn to Claudia Gray. Yes, she has tropes galore, but she manages to put fun twists on them that keep her stuff interesting.
This latest installment is no exception. She keeps the plot going quickly, but never out of control. A few cheesy romantic moments aside, there are several good things going in this. There's also good character development that all leads to a big cliffhanger at the end.
All in all, a satisfying sequel. No, this series probably will never win writing awards, but if you're looking for entertaining urban fantasy with witches, it definitely gets the job done.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Spellcaster, Evernight fans, witch book fans, fans of Charmed
MY RATING: Four out of Five spells

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review: Tsarina

TITLE: Tsarina
AUTHOR: J. Nelle Patrick
PUBLISHED: February 27th, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: During the fall of the Romanovs, a girl holds the countries' future in her hands as she discovers the secrets of a magical fabergie egg.
MY REVIEW: I'll be honest, I liked this one mostly because it's got all those things I love: flawed heroine, historical fantasy, lovely historical detail, no douchebag boyfriends. It was just a nice read.
Is it a must read? Maybe not. But if you're a fan of the historical fantasy like me, I would definitely give this vastly underrated book a look. Also, it's kind of fitting since we're hearing so much about Russia right now and there's just so much about Russian history that's really interesting, but hardly anyone ever talks about.
So, this was just a nice pleasant read. There wasn't anything frustrating about it, it was entertaining. I enjoyed it. I don't know if there's going to be a sequel, but the ending kind of gives me hope that there will be.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Russian history, historical fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five magical eggs

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: Allegiant

TITLE: Allegiant
Divergent Trilogy Book 3
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth
PUBLISHED: October, 2013
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: The Divergent trilogy comes to a close as Tris and her friends take their last stand...
MY REVIEW: I'll be the first to admit, my feelings regarding the Divergent Trilogy will probably always be mixed. I never loved it as much as the rest of the YA community seemed too, yet I never felt the hatred towards that I've seen some aim its way. Honestly, to me, the trilogy is just kind of there. To me, it's always been a entertaining, but rather average dystopian. Which is why I wasn't a bit surprised when the movie turned out to be entertaining, but average.
The third book is...pretty much the same. World-building is still a mess (in fact, I kind of think it became messier with those nonsense explanations for the factions). Ultimately, aside from what happened with Tris at the end...it was pretty damn predictable. Actually, what happened with Tris was the first time I actually felt this series went outside the very firm dystopian formula it was in. Unfortunately, it happened way too late for me to really say it made the series more powerful.
When it comes to this trilogy, I'll probably always be shrugging when people ask me how I feel about it. But honestly, this one has become so huge, I don't really think any misgivings I have on the trilogy will make a difference. It's going to be around for a few more years, particularly because we are apparently getting two more movies.
WHO SHOULD READ: Divergent fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Three and a half to Four out of Five (because I honestly can't make up my mind between these two ratings)

Book Review: Alienated

TITLE: Alienated
Book 1 in a new trilogy
AUTHOR: Melissa Landers
PUBLISHED: February 4rth, 2014
GENRE: Science Fiction, Romance
PREMISE: Cara hosts one of the first alien exchange students and finds her world changed forever...
MY REVIEW: It's not very often a book can pleasantly surprise me, but this book definitely did. Probably because due to the focusing on the starcrossed romance part in the marketing, I honestly wasn't expecting much from it when I went into it. I won't lie to you: there is a romance angle and yes, it's cheesy. But this book actually has a lot more to offer besides the star crossed lovers bit.
The world building is interesting. It takes a good look at what would happen if aliens DID make contact on earth. It talks about it in a interesting way too. Plus, for once, I understand why an author does multiple POVs and for once, I'm not stuck wondering who is who. Because the alien's POV actually does feel and sound like an alien stuck on a planet where he's an outsider. Granted, like all these sci-fi books that use aliens as a metaphor to talk about race, I can't help but wonder why we can't use actual PoC characters to talk about race (it doesn't help that all the aliens in question are apparently white) but that's a personal issue on my part. I do at least appreciate that the author didn't shy away from talking about it, even if whether or not she succeeded in making the point, is highly in question.
So...yes, the book does have a cheesy romance in it. But I can forgive a cheesy romance that has some sort of interesting bits to the story and this book definitely has some interesting bits. Personally, I'm looking forward to the next book which promises to have more of the alien world and I'm really interested in seeing that.
WHO SHOULD READ: Science Fiction fans, starcrossed lover stories fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five culture shocks

Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Review: The Warrior Heir

TITLE: The Warrior Heir
Book 1 in the Heir Chronicles
AUTHOR: Cinda Williams Chima
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A boy find out he is a chosen warrior...
MY REVIEW: Let me take you way back when to 2007. Harry Potter was ending and it seemed everyone was scrambling to find a series to replace it. There was huge inflation of YA as result. Particularly the YA that followed the "boy finds out he has gift, gets whisked off to magic world, magic battle, etc." formula. On the long list of Harry Potter replacements, everyone was pointing to this series which is how it got on my radar (and promptly fell off because like I said, YA had a huge inflation in 2007 and we readers reaped the benefits).
Now that I've finally read it...it's just okay. There's nothing really wrong with it, although personally I was rather bothered by the treatment of the female characters in it (it reeked of the "tomboys are great! feminine girls suck!" attitude that tends to plague YA and we all know how I feel about THAT). But just as there's nothing really wrong with it...there's nothing here that really stands out to me either. It's pretty generic as far as these boy hero Harry Potter look alike books tend to go.
So, sorry, not really a fan. I don't hate it. I'm sure boy readers would enjoy this. Me, I'll stick with my Harry Potter and my Percy Jackson.
WHO SHOULD READ: Harry Potter fans, Percy Jackson fans, male readers looking for YA books
MY RATING: Three out of Five bland male heroes

Book Review: Dangerous

TITLE: Dangerous
AUTHOR: Shannon Hale
PUBLISHED: March 4rth
GENRE: Science Fiction
PREMISE: Teenagers inherit strange powers that change them...
MY REVIEW: I'm so torn about this one. On one hand, it's Shannon Hale. Like all her stuff, it's creative. It's well written. Also, I have to point out how big it is that the main character is not only a PoC, she has a disability. But the book has nothing to do with either of those things. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you think about the amount of characters out there in regular sci-fi like titles with either of those things...you come up with very small numbers.
That said, the book itself...kind of becomes confusing after awhile. There are many small likable things in it that I liked and found interest, that were enough to keep me reading. But the plot...kind of goes all over the place. Especially after a hundred pages or so.
So...I'm really not sure how I feel about this one. I am terribly fond of the author in question and I know this isn't her best work. But at the same time..I appreciate that she's trying something new. No one wants to do the same sort of thing over and over, your readers would get bored fast. So...I say this is one to check out of the library and see for yourself. It's not going to be for everyone.
WHO SHOULD READ: Shannon Hale fans, superhero fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five cape wearing teens