Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Deep Blue

TITLE: Deep Blue
Book 1 in the Waterfire Saga series
AUTHOR: Jennifer Donnelly
PUBLISHED: May 6th, 2014
GENRE: Fantasy, Mermaids
PREMISE: Serafina's life is turned upside down when war comes to her world...
MY REVIEW: Okay, so I've read Donnelly's stuff before and quite liked it. So keep that in mind when I ask: what the heck was this? This book felt like it was written by a completely different author and NOT in a good way. It was frankly...childish.
Seriously authors, what is it about mermaid books that makes you think you have to write them in a childish manner? This happens to me over and over again in the mermaid genre. I don't get it! This also stinks, because if it weren't for the childish tone (and some funky world-building issues such as why do the mermaids wear gowns? I would think all that cloth wouldn't hold up well in sea water) I would be eating this book up for breakfast. It's got a heroine who is proactive, female friendship, diversity among mermaids (and also not all of them are skinny!) and romance is kept to a minimum. Also, the packaging on this book is fab. If there were awards for best book design, this would be one of my nominees. But I keep getting side-tracked by the clumsy and childish writing style.
It's just puzzling to me, because I KNOW this author can write better then this. So I'm terribly confused about why she suddenly thinks her readers are idiots and need everything explained to us via info dump after info dump. You're better then this Donnelly. Just because it's a mermaid book doesn't mean you have to treat it like it's childish. So now my feelings about this book are honestly kind of torn. There's some great stuff in it, but I KNOW this author can do much better then this and thus I'm kind of baffled about what happened.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mermaid book fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five I expected better of yous

Saturday, June 28, 2014

What to Read Next: Pretty Little Liars

This week, I'm going to do books to read after Pretty Little Liars since the show has come back, so some of you may be craving those mysteries.

1) The Lying Game series by Sara Shephard-Well, obvious choice, Shephard's other series that also got made into a TV series on ABC Family (but didn't do as well as PLL). Personally, I think this one is much better then PLL. But that's my opinion.

2) Flowers in the Attic series by V. C. Andrews-Like PLL this is part mystery, mostly drama. If you think the girls in Rosewood had problems, check out this family.

3) Rosebush by Michele Jaffe-Actually, Jaffe has a few that would be good for PLL fans. But Rosebush especially fits the bill. It's got that complicated female friendships and mystery that PLL has.
Also check out her Bad Kitty books. They are hilarious fun.

4) Pretty Crooked series by Elisa Ludwig-This one is more of a robin hood story. I rec it because there is a bit of mystery, but it also goes into ethics and bullying and touches on some of the same things PLL does. 3rd book comes out next year.

5) Confessions series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro-Like PLL this series has mystery, dirty family secrets, and a girl who must unearth them while living among the rich. Besides, Hannah already gave her okay to Patterson on the show. If it's good enough for Hannah, it should be good enough for PLL lovers.

Other Recs: The Liar Society series by Lisa Roecker, Prep School Confidential series by Kara Taylor, 17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma.

Book Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

TITLE: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Book 1 in a new trilogy
AUTHOR: Anne Blankman
PUBLISHED: April 22nd, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: Gretchen has been part of Hitler's inner circle her whole life. When she finds out there was more to her father's death then she was told, she starts questioning everything...
MY REVIEW: I'll be quite honest: I loved this book. Was the romance tacked on? A bit, yes. Does it hinder the book any? Not a bit. This is good historical fiction period. The author very clearly did her research.
It's first and foremost a character study. A quietly done one, but a well done one. We have gotten a few of these "girl on the bad side of the war starts to question things and goes over to the good side, usually due to a guy." This one does do that, but it's actually very little to do with the guy she meets (I don't know why the summary tries to make it out to be, probably hoping to grab the romance readers I guess). This is also one of the few times I was able to believe her journey to coming around and seeing that what Hitler was doing was wrong.
In short, this was a fabulous book. Possibly it'll be on my top ten books for 2014. For sure it'll be on the top ten debut list. This is one of the more memorable ones this year.
WHO SHOULD READ: Book Thief fans, historical fiction fans, Code Name Verity fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five girls rebelling against the system

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: The Inventor's Secret

TITLE: The Inventor's Secret
Book 1 in a new series
AUTHOR: Andrea Cremer
PUBLISHED: April 22nd, 2014
GENRE: Steampunk, Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: Charlotte and her brother lead a band of refugees in the hopes of changing the tide of war.
MY REVIEW: In retrospect...I probably should have left this one alone. I wasn't the biggest fan of Nightshade. In fact, I still haven't read past the first book because I just plain didn't want too. I still have no regrets about it, either.
But, every so often, an author makes a different sort of series that is better then their original so I make it a point to give authors the benefit of my doubt and try new series unless I really really hated their first one. For instance, I will not be looking at Adornetto's new series, because I just plain couldn't stand Halo and from what I gather, she hasn't improved much. Sadly...there's not much improvement here either. This one has all the same problems that Nightshade had, just with a different setting. Like Nightshade, it had a competent enough plot and a great setting. But also like Nightshade, it had flat characters who didn't make sense, conflicting messages about feminism (for instance the main character is kick-butt, but it makes sure to scold things like wanting to wear pretty dresses), and plot-holes galore. Also, while I admit the plot is competent...the plot is also kind of the same as Nightshade just with different characters and different setting.
So, I guess if you happened to love Nightshade, go and read. You'll probably enjoy it very much. But if you were ho hum about Nightshade like myself....don't bother.
WHO SHOULD READ: Nightshade fans, light steampunk fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five shrugs

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Book Review: The Winner's Curse

TITLE: The Winner's Curse
Book 1 in The Winner's Trilogy
AUTHOR: Marie Rutkoski
PUBLISHED: March 4rth, 2014
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Kestrel purchases a slave just as things are about to change in her country...
MY REVIEW: This book has been making the rounds lately and now after finally being able to read it, I totally see why. Normally, I'm bothered by slave fiction. Especially the ones that have the master falling for the slave because almost none of them go into the consent issues surrounding it. In fact, some of them outright glorify slavery.
This one happily does not. Arin is never once happy to be a slave and it's never excused. Granted, I wish the book went more into the consent issues of it....but at the same time it's YA so I get why the author probably couldn't. I will warn, it takes awhile to get to the point. The best parts of the book happen after the middle when stuff starts to go down. So, I would be patient while reading this.
If you're going into this hoping for a YA Game of Thrones...please don't. I've said it before and I'll say it again: there'll probably never be a YA version of Game of Thrones, because YA is so policed that it can't go where GoT does (and yes, that does bum me out spectacularly). But if you want a fantasy to sink your teeth into, this is a perfectly decent read.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fantasy fans, Graceling fans, Throne of Glass fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five revolutions

Friday, June 20, 2014

What to Read Next: The Fault in Our Stars

So, this is an idea I've come up with that I hope to do every Friday (or weekends, depending on schedule) where I give about five (or more) book recs to read after you've read that big bestseller and found that you loved it. Because I always see people do this. They find a book they love, but then don't know where to go from there. So, I hope this feature will help people out with that problem. Or at the very least, help you find new books. Note: I will be doing all categories with my recs. So you'll often see a mixture of YA and adult and maybe some middle-grade. If it suits the topic in hand, I will rec it.

This Week: What Read After Fault in Our Stars

1) Looking For Alaska by John Green
Why: I always say check out the authors other books as well first if you've found you loved one of their books. Looking for Alaska is the strongest of his other work. But also look into: Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and Will Grayson Will Grayson.

2) My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Why: Not much of a Picoult fan, but this is in keeping with the theme of Fault in Our Stars. It deals with cancer and the emotional take in can have on people. Though this one goes more into some of the ethical questions of treatment. I will warn though, that it kind of does all the tropes about cancer kids that Fault in Our Stars makes fun of. Seriously, I bet if Hazel would read this, she'd hate it so this rec comes with a bit of a disclaimer.

3) 13 Little Blue Envelopes (and sequel) by Maureen Johnson
Why: It's realistic fiction so there's that. But also Johnson and Green have similar writing styles so I definitely see her books appealing to Green fans. This one also has the quirky, sarcastic characters like Fault in Our Stars. There's also a trip to Europe.

4) If I Stay (and sequel) by Gayle Forman
Why: Again, slightly similar writing styles. Also this one explores grief and questions of life and death like Fault in Our Stars did. It's also being made into a movie that comes out in August and is sure to cause a tear or two as well.

5) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Why: Well, Green himself highly recommends Rowell. This one also has the nerdy romance couple thing going for it as well as a slightly bittersweet ending. Also, it's been optioned for a movie so the time to read is now.

Other longshot recs: Sarah Dessen (so I hear, never read her, so can't say for sure), The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (again, haven't read, but people tell me it's good for Fault in Our Stars fans), Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Review: The Lovely and the Lost

TITLE: The Lovely and the Lost
Book 2 in the Dispossessed Trilogy
AUTHOR: Page Morgan
PUBLISHED: May 13th, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: Ingrid and Gabby deal with their new lives now that they know about the magical world around them.
MY REVIEW: Beautiful and the Cursed was a fun read from last year. It wasn't the most impressive thing in the world, but it did manage to be entertaining and feed my historical fantasy addiction. So I was perhaps a bit more lenient then I should have been, rating wise. But I stand by the fact that it was a solid debut.
This one...has bit of the usual problems second books often have. There were a few twists here and there, particularly at the end, to keep you wanting to read. But much of the beginning and middle book was mostly just busy work. I also feel there were too many love triangles but as we all know: I'm not a love triangle fan.
I still do mostly like this series though. It's fun and great summer beach sort of read. Which is exactly what I wanted it to be, so no major complaints, other than maybe cool it with the love triangle drama. You're better than that Morgan. You have lots of interesting characters/ideas going on in here. You don't need love triangle fodder to keep it going.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mortal Instrument fans, The Beautiful and the Cursed fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five grumpy gargoyles

Book Review: Always Emily

TITLE: Always Emily
AUTHOR: Michaela MacColl
PUBLISHED: April 8th, 2014
GENRE: Historical Fiction, slight mystery
PREMISE: Emily and Charlotte, the two girls who would grow to become two of the famous Bronte sisters, help solve a mystery in their small town.
MY REVIEW: While I liked this book, I also have to admit: it's probably just going to be for a select group of people. Namely: Bronte fans/historical fiction fans. Everyone else....will probably get bored with this.
Because even a history lover like myself got bored while reading it. Also, I have to ask: why didn't Anne get to join in on the adventure? Seriously, why does everyone always forget about poor Anne Bronte? Even I'm guilty of it, hers is the one Bronte book I haven't read (my bad Anne, I'll try and get to it this year maybe). You know what would be great? If someone wrote a book about the forgotten Bronte sister. Authors, I give you permission to use this idea.
So this was a pleasant if a bit droll read. If you're a historical fiction/Bronte lover, it's a must read. If you're neither of those things...I'd look elsewhere.
WHO SHOULD READ: Hardcore Bronte fans, historical fiction fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five forgotten little sisters

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review: After The End

TITLE: After the End Book 1 in new Trilogy
 AUTHOR: Amy Plum
PUBLISHED: May 6th, 2014
 GENRE: Urban Fantasyish, Mystery
PREMISE: Juneau's life is turned upside down when she returns to find her clan murdered and in an attempt to find answers, learns her entire life was a lie... MY REVIEW: First, I apologize if this post is funky. Blogger has changed the way they do things post wise. AGAIN.
So if this is messed up, THAT is why. Seriously Blogger, WHY? As for the book, I actually quite liked this one, mostly because it wasn't at all what I expected. Also, kudos author for writing something completely different from your last series. I love when authors go against type. It's a GOOD thing. It means more variety in stories. This one starts out as one thing, and winds up being something else by the end and it's a great journey in between getting there. Juneau was a nice change of pace, character wise. Miles...not so much, but at least he wasn't a douchebag love interest. Also note: no love triangle. You can make a series interesting without having one. Future authors, please take notes. This was definitely NOT what I was expecting and that's actually a good thing. I'm really looking forward to seeing where the author takes this.
WHO SHOULD READ: Amy Plum fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five LOL, you thought this was dystopian books
Edit: I figured out what went wrong on this post. Now, it's hopefully fixed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

Sorry for not doing these lately. I've had work and so have not had enough time to prepare a list for these. Plus, for some of the recent ones, I just didn't really have any books that answered it so I left it to people who had better lists.
But here I am this week, at least. This is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

1) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black-Took me awhile to get to Black's latest. But I loved it just as much as I suspected I would.

2) Circle Reforged Book 3: Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce-Another brilliant one from last year that I missed and wound up loving. But it's Pierce so really, it's no surprise that this was a favorite. ;has major bias where this author is concerned;

3) Madman's Daughter Book 2: Her Dark Curiousity by Megan Shephard-One of the best sequel's I've read this year.

4) The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson-Don't read much contemporary, but when I do, it's Anderson because she always delivers.

5) Lunar Chronicles Book 3: Cress by Marissa Meyer-Again, much bias where this series is concerned because I just love it so much.

6) Rebel Belle Book 1 by Rachel Hawkins-Looking for a fun YA Urban Fantasy that spits on making girly girls out to be villains? This book is that book and it is made of win.

7) Legend Book 3: Champion by Marie Lu-THIS is how you end a dystopian trilogy ;looks at Divergent pointedly;

8) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell-I was a little late to the Rowell fangirl party, but I'm here at last. I also read and really enjoyed Eleanor and Park, but I figure two Rowell books on one list is overdoing it a bit....

9) Dark Star series Book 2: Burn Bright by Bethany Frenette-Another really good sequel. Seriously, why aren't people all over the Dark Star series?! It's urban fantasy, WITH SUPERHEROES!

10) Avalon Trilogy Book 1: Avalon by Mindee Arnett-New series that is sort of Fireflyish. Really wish more people were talking about this one.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Book Review: The Long Quiche Goodbye

TITLE: The Long Quiche Goodbye
Book 1 in the Cheese Shop Mysteries series
AUTHOR: Avery Aames
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PREMISE: A woman tries to clear her grandmothers name while running her family business.
MY REVIEW: Yes, another cozy mystery. What can I say, my library is full of them and this is part of my library project, so here we are.
Not much to say about this one. It's a cozy mystery. Lady with too much on her plate? Check. Quirky family? Check. Place to run (in this case a cheese shop)? Check. Multiple love interests to keep interest in the story going? Check and check.
So...not really much to say. If you like this genre, then this is one to check out. If you don't, don't bother, it's more of the same.
WHO SHOULD READ: Cozy Mystery fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review: The Specialist

TITLE: The Specialist
Book 1 in the Tasmanian Thrillers series
AUTHOR: Gordon Aalborg
GENRE: Thriller, Mystery
PREMISE: A woman pits wits against a serial killer who murdered her sister.
MY REVIEW: So in an attempt to get out of this reading rut and to do one of my goals: explore more books out of my comfort zone, I've started going through the books in my libraries adult fiction section one by one. So if you see a random book on here that's adult, it's likely a result from this project.
This is the first one I picked up. I honestly don't have much to say about it. It's usual thriller du jour. The writing is average, the mystery isn't all that mysterious because we already know the killer killed her sister, and it vaguely reminds me of a duller Hannibal.
So...I say this is a library read only type of book. Unless you're really into thriller books. There's a second book that my library has but this was so dull that I won't bother. I've already agreed with myself to not bother with the rest of the books if I didn't like the first one. It'll go faster that way and life's too short to spend time on books you dislike.
WHO SHOULD READ: Hannibal fans, James Patterson fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Book Review: The Taking

TITLE: The Taking
Book 1 in The Taking series
AUTHOR: Kimberly Derting
PUBLISHED: April 29th, 2014
GENRE: Science Fiction, Mystery
PREMISE: Kyra wakes up after an accident only to discover that she's been gone for five years...
MY REVIEW: You really have to hand it to Derting: she mixes it up. I may not always be thrilled with her stuff (see The Pledge trilogy), but I can always be sure that a) it will not be like her last book (unless it's part of the same series) and b) it will be an interesting idea. This new series of hers is no exception.
It starts off slowly. At first I actually did figure this was just going to be a regular mystery but I was proved wrong and it was awesome when I was. There are some things I could have done without as usual (damn love triangles, things are like weeds, you can't get rid of them!). But those are mostly minor complaints that absolutely don't ruin the fun ride this book is.
As I've come to expect from Derting: this is a clever and entertaining read. Not the best in the world, but certainly not a waste of time. If you like the sci-fi side of mysteries, absolutely check this one out.
WHO SHOULD READ: Derting fans, Sci-Fi fans, fans of Project Paper Doll
MY RATING: Four out of Five alien spaceships abducting people

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Review: The House of Ivy and Sorrow

TITLE: The House of Ivy and Sorrow
AUTHOR: Natalie Whipple
PUBLISHED: April 15th, 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Witches
PREMISE: A girl lives with her grandmother and studies magic. Her life is turned upside down when a man who might be her father returns...
MY REVIEW: Ivy and Sorrow was definitely an interesting read. The author managed to give a good sense of this world and also give a fast paced plot to keep you turning the pages.
What interested me mostly was the magic of course. It was actually kind of refreshing. Magic wasn't easy and there were rules to it and some of it was slightly twisted. That and the interesting family dynamics were what kept me reading. The romance was...okay. Nothing spectacular, but no douchebag love interests, so I'm happy. It was also nice to see a girl with actual female friendships. It's sad that this happens so little in YA that when it does I sit up and take notice when it does occur.
So it's a bit of a mixed bag really. I feel like it was a bit rushed and this is one of the few instances where I wish the author had stretched it into a series for that reason. But there was a clear beginning, middle, end. Characters were interesting. Plot was interesting. So I say a job well done. I'll be looking into Whipple's future books and the one she wrote last year that I missed.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of her last book, witch fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five talking sassy cats

Monday, June 2, 2014

Book Review: Sea of Shadows

TITLE: Sea of Shadows
Book 1 in the Age of Legends Trilogy
AUTHOR: Kelley Armstrong
PUBLISHED: April 8th, 2014
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Two sisters get caught up in intrigue that will change their world forever...
MY REVIEW: This is actually quite different from anything I've read by Armstrong. It's NOT in the Women of the Otherworld series for one. It's not urban fantasy either. It's actual fantasy. I have to give props to authors who aren't afraid to step out of their genre. Easily she could have just done another Woman of the Otherworld series because that world is HUGE and honestly I love it so much, I wouldn't have complained too loudly if she did. Unlike another series that shall remain nameless ;cough;MI;cough;, WotO has variety in its characters and Armstrong doesn't tell the same story over and over again. I'm sorry, I like MI but its formula has gotten stale and I really wish Clare would try something new.
Now as for the actual book...I have mixed feelings. Some things I was horribly confused on and felt needed to be expanded on more. But I'm trying to keep in mind that this is the first book, and perhaps she's waiting to expand on that at the correct time because Armstrong tries to avoid info dumps, which I appreciate. The characters were the interesting part of this for me. I just loved the dynamic between the sisters and actually didn't mind the romances that much.'s not the best Armstrong has ever done. But I appreciate that she's trying out a new thing and there is a lot here to make me want to check out the next one. I say, check this one out from the library to see if it's for you.
WHO SHOULD READ: Kelley Armstrong fans, Fantasy fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five good starts

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Book Review: Toxic Heart (contains spoilers so beware)

TITLE: Toxic Heart
Book 2 in the Mystic City series
AUTHOR: Theo Lawrence
PUBLISHED: April 8th, 2014
GENRE: Fantasy, Steampunk
PREMISE: Now with the rebellion in full swing, Aria has put her heart on the line and is all in with the rebels...but just because you love someone doesn't mean it's meant to be.
MY REVIEW: This was a sequel that actually managed to surprise me. Oh, not in a lot mind you. Once again, we have a love triangle where previously, we didn't have one. SO ANNOYING. There was also some stuff I saw coming.
My surprise mostly comes from the realistic handling of the Hunter/Aria thing. My gosh, a YA book is actually pointing out that just because you're together doesn't mean you're going to STAY together because there's this thing called LIFE. I know that doesn't sound like much, but most YA books have their heroines marrying their first loves and everything happily ever after, all tied in a bow. This one doesn't actually do that. The couple actually breaks up! What's better: THE GIRL DOES IT. It's not the guy doing it for "her own good" like most of these things go (and seriously, screw that nonsense). Aria straight up realizes that she and Hunter want different things and so it's probably not a good idea for them to be together. I just want to do this:
So I admit, there are some flaws here. But I was overall pleased that the author is trying his best to be realistic about this relationship. Now, whether or not he sticks to that in the coming books, remains to be seen. I hope he does though. It would kind of cheapen this if he had the two of them go through this growth only to go "oh hey, we're back together!" in the next one. Unless he does it really well. Personally, I look forward to the next book. 
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of Mystic City, Romeo and Juliet fans, Hunger Games fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five heroines realizing that it's not the end of the world if she and her honey aren't together.