Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Favorites List Part IV: Sequels/Continuations/Series Conclusions

Here we have the last of the favorites list. This one is all sequels, series continuations, series/trilogy conclusions, etc. that I have enjoyed from this year.

Favorite sequels/series continuations/series/trilogy conclusions:

Avalon Book 2: Polaris by Mindee Arnett
Alienated Book 2: Invaded by Melissa Landers
Madman's Daughter 3: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shephard
Shades of London 3: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
Death Sworn 2: Death Marked by Leah Cypess
Winner's Trilogy 2: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Lunar Chronicles 3.5: Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Rebel Belle Book 2: Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Night and Fog 2: A Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
Illusive Book 2: Deceptive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Nevermore Trilogy Book 3: Oblivion by Kelly Creagh
Princess Diaries 11: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot
Magisterium Book 2: The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Jackaby Book 2: Beastly Bones by William Ritter
Tearling Book 2: Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Finishing School Book 4: Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger
Seraphina Book 2: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (still in the middle of it and loving every second)
Haven't read yet, but are sure to be favorites: Lunar Chronicles 4: Winter by Marissa Meyer
Diviners Book 2: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

And thus concludes my favorites list. I had a pretty good reading year, though I know my procrastination on this blog probably didn't show that. I am going to try and get better this year. Yes, I'm aware that I say that every year. At least I try?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Favorite Book List Part III: New Series/Trilogies from 2015

Welcome to part 3 of the 2015 favorites list! Here are my favorite new series/trilogies that got started this year. There were lots of awesome ones out this year. So much stuff to look forward too in the coming years.

Favorite new series/trilogies/duologies:

TheVivian Apple books by Katie Coyle-Technically, this duology came out in 2014, but they were only released in the US this year so I say they count.
Embassy Row Book 1: All Fall Down by Ally Carter-Apprently book two is already out!
Conspiracy of Us Book 1 by Maggie Hall
The Girl at Midnight Book 1 by Melissa Grey
Lois Lane Book 1: Fallout by Gwenda Bond
The Wrath and the Dawn Book 1 by Renee Ahdieh
Custard Protocol Book 1: Prudence by Gail Carriger
An Ember in the Ashes Book 1 by Sabaa Tahir
Red Queen Book 1 by Victoria Aveyard
The Fixer Book 1 by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Middle-School Princess Book 1: From the Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess by Meg Cabot
Six of Crows Book 1 by Leigh Bardugo
Magnus Chase Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (I'm actually still in the middle of this but I can already tell it's going to be a favorite)
The Fifth Season Book 1 by N. K. Jemison

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Favorite Book List Part II: Favorite 2015 Standalone Books

Welcome to part 2 of my favorites of 2015. This list is all the 2015 standalone favorites. That is, books that are not a part of any series or any sequel of any sort.

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (though I just found out that apparently there might be more books in this world. But it's not going to be for a few more years)
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Trigger Warnings by Neil Gaiman
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brackenbrough
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
As If!: An Oral History of Clueless by Jen Cheney
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Willful Machines by Tim Floreen
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Favorite Book List Part 1: Favorite Backlist Books

Welcome to my tradition of just going over all of my favorite books over the last week of the year. This will be split up into several parts going up to New Years Day where I will hopefully get back to regular reviewing. This first part is all my favorite books that I read this year that were not published in 2015.

Favorite Backlist Books:

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (and really all of the Austens I read this year)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books 2-5 by Douglas Adams-I finally finished this series via audio and it was a delight. For those curious, I did the Martin Freeman narrated audiobooks and I highly recommend them.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Handmaiden's Tale by Margaret Atwood
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Vicious by V. E. Schwab
The Archived Book 2: Unbound by Victoria Schwab
Thursday Next Books 1-3 by Jasper Fforde
Others Book 1: Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Dresden Files Books 2-4 by Jim Butcher
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Discworld: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (I was bad about getting the Discworld done this year)
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Heroes of Olympus series Books 2-5 by Rick Riordan
Flavia de Luce Book 1: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Jackaby Book 1 by William Ritter
Cormoran Strike Book 2: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Finishing School Book 3: Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger
Raven Cycle Book 3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
His Fair Assassin Book 3: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
Magisterium Book 1: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Review: Forever Red

TITLE: Forever Red
Book 1 in the Black Widow series
AUTHOR: Margaret Stohl
PUBLISHED: October 13th, 2015
GENRE: Adventure/Thriller
PREMISE: Join Natasha Romanov as she encounters her past during a mission.
MY REVIEW: This book is likely something that will only interest a certain amount of people. Namely, it'll interest Marvel fans. It's a very niche sort of book. I imagine anyone who doesn't know who Natasha Romanov is or reads comics will probably have very little interest in this book. If you want an introduction the character, this probably isn't the best way to go. It assumes you're a Black Widow fan already. I advise starting with the comics instead.
But if you are a fellow Black Widow fan, this one is for you. I know I've been saying this, but I'm seriously pleased that Marvel and DC have decided to crossover into the book world as well. YA works well for comics. I hear they're bringing in even more books next year such as Captain Marvel and Squirrel Girl and I'm so excited for this. If we get Kamala Khan, and maybe some Young Avengers (specifically a how Teddy and Billy met book) then I'll be the happiest fan ever.
While this book may not work for people who have never read Black Widow before, for those of us who have, this is a lot of fun. It is a tad fast paced, as most Marvel things tend to be nowadays (hey there, Agents of Shield), but it still does the trick in telling an entertaining story with not just one, but two kickass heroines.
WHO SHOULD READ: Marvel fans, comic book fans, Black Widow fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five badass redheads

Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Review: The Chess Queen Enigma

TITLE: The Chess Queen Enigma
Book 3 in the Stoker and Holmes series
AUTHOR: Colleen Gleason
PUBLISHED: October 6th, 2015
GENRE: Steampunk, Mystery, Classic Book Referencing
PREMISE: Evaline and Mina get stuck playing chaperone to a young socialite during the season, much to their dismay. However, chaperoning leads to a case in unexpected ways...
MY REVIEW: I really wish more people knew about the Stoker and Holmes books. They are such fun. A little ridiculous at times, yes, but it's a fun ridiculous if nothing else. This book was no exception.
This installment was great. It moved the plot forward. It brought some plotlines from way back in book one to a close. We get introduced to new plotlines. We also get a glimpse of the mysterious Mycroft Holmes, Mina's father, who I personally wanted to see more of. Perhaps next book? Even better, the author has stopped having the girls make catty remarks about each other. Yay! Progress! Made it ten times more enjoyable, let me tell you. Sure, the girls still bicker, but it was mostly free of girls hating on girls for no apparent reason other then because. It was honestly a relief.
I'm glad we're getting more Stoker and Holmes. It looks like the story is starting to take interesting turns. I can't wait to get back to these characters next time.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first two books, Sherlock Holmes fans, Bram Stoker fans, steampunk fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five wooden stakes

Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Review: Lock and Mori

TITLE: Lock and Mori
Book 1 in the Lock and Mori series
AUTHOR: Heather W. Petty
PUBLISHED: September 15th, 2015
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: Modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes with Holmes and Moriarty as teenagers and Moriaty as a female.
MY REVIEW: This is a case where I liked the concept far more then I liked the actual execution of the concept. Moriarty as a female? Awesome idea. It's been done before (hi there, Elementary), but still I always welcome gender swapping the classics. While this did give an interesting look at the idea, I honestly can't help but come to the conclusion that Elementary did it better.
Granted, this is maybe a bit unfair. Elementary has the benefit of having Natalie Dormer being their Moriarty. But the feeling remains. I'm not really thrilled with this version of Moriarty. It didn't help that this version of Moriarty and Sherlock were honestly, kind of boring. Getting Moriarty and Sherlock in a room together should not be boring.
The mystery part of this was good. But was honestly just kind of boring. Which boggles my mind because it's a Sherlock Holmes retelling but there it is all the same. It's not a bad reimagining. There are some interesting things going on here, such as trying to look into Moriarty's past. But overall...this is not the best version of Sherlock Holmes I've read.
WHO SHOULD READ: Sherlock Holmes fans, Elementary fans (willing to forgive that this is not Natalie Dormer)
MY RATING: Three out of Five not as good as it could have been sighs

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Book Review: Six of Crows

TITLE: Six of Crows
Book 1 the Six of Crows series
AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo
PUBLISHED: September 29th, 2015
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy, a bunch of misfits get together for job that has far more consequences then any of them realize...
MY REVIEW: I admit, when I heard that there was going to be a continuation of the Grisha series I heaved a bit of a sigh. I am a little tired of spin-off after spin-off of the same series that YA keeps pulling. Sometimes I wish authors would just move onto another thing. However, the premise sounded a little more promising then most spin-offs because it involved completely different characters and a different sort of plot then the first trilogy so I gave it a look despite misgivings. I'm glad I did, I actually sort of enjoyed this one more then the Grisha trilogy.
True, there are common tropes galore in this. I won't say this is ground breaking. It isn't. But it is damn fun. These characters are not a redo of the Grisha characters. It's not even a redo of the Grisha plot. So while it is a spin-off, it feels like a new series anyway. If you've never read the Grisha trilogy you can probably pick this up and not be totally lost.
While I am still tired of spin-offs happening, I can forgive the spin-off if it's well done. This was a well done one. Necessary? Not really. But it is fun and entertaining and if you want to spend more time in the Grisha world, it's a good way to do it.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the Grisha Trilogy, fantasy fans, fans of heist movies
MY RATING: Four out of Five complicated characters with issues

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: The Best Books I Read in 2015

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

This week's topic: Best Books I Read in 2015

I discovered many awesome books this year. This list was very hard to narrow down, in some cases I outright cheated and included the whole series. I'm also going to cheat further and include books that didn't make the list. I'm a rebel that way.

1) I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

This was my first foray into both biography and audiobook. It was definitely a good choice on my part. I'm now a little hooked on both things.

2) Heroes of Olympus series Book 2-5 by Rick Riordan

Once upon a time when it first came out, I read The Lost Hero. I loved it. But I failed to keep up on the rest of the series. Magnus Chase coming out reminded me of that failing, so I have been basically inhaling all of these books for the past two months. It's been a delight. Magnus Chase will likely have to wait till January though.

3) Thursday Next series Books 1-3 by Jasper Fforde

One of my favorite series discoveries this year was the Thursday Next series. If you are a lover of books, you need to read this series now. Especially if you love fantasy and classics.

4) The Others Book 1: Written in Red by Anne Bishop

I've been meaning to read Anne Bishop for years now. This is my first try and considering how much I loved this one, it won't be my last Bishop book for sure.

5) Vivian Apple Books 1 and 2 by Katie Coyle

Dystopians are a dime a dozen nowadays. This series reminded me of why I first loved the genre. Sadly it looks as though we're just getting two books.

6) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Like Bishop, I've been meaning to read this author for years. This book was an utter delight and I'm definitely checking out her Temeraire series now.

7) The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

So meta. I was grinning knowingly throughout this book and enjoyed every minute of it.

8) Kindred by Octavia Butler

If you haven't read Butler before, you really should.

9) Jackaby series by William Ritter

I don't understand why all of YA is not gushing over these books.

10) Bad Feminist Roxanne Gay

My first foray into essays and I loved the hell out of it.

Honorable mentions that only didn't make the list because I read a lot of awesome stuff this year:

Raven Cycle Book 3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Magisterium Books 1 and 2 by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Embassy Row Book 1: All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Finishing School Books 3 and 4 and Prudence by Gail Carriger
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Cormoran Strike Book 2: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
A lot of Jane Austen
The rest of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series
Peter Grant Book 5: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovich
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

and honestly I'm just going to stop now, we'll be here all day otherwise. I'll be doing my year end lists anyway so I'll get a shout out to all my favs then.

Book Review: Carry On

TITLE: Carry On
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
GENRE: Fantasy
PUBLISHED: October 6th, 2015
PREMISE: In the book Fangirl, Cath was writing a long fanfic titled Carry On about Simon Snow and Bas. This is that fanfic.
MY REVIEW: Last year I discovered Rainbow Rowell and never looked back. When I first heard about this, I was a little bit skeptical, but I couldn't resist and I'm happy that I didn't, this was a blast to read.
If you read a lot of fanfiction, and I'll be the first to admit I do (and I've been known to write some ;sticks out tongue at haters;), this book will be very familiar territory for you. It definitely reads like a fanfic. But the good kind of fanfic, not the bad kind like Fifty Shades of Grey was. If you were in the Harry Potter fandom at all (again: guilty), particularly the Draco/Harry part, this will be even more familiar to you. There are many Harry Potter influences in this and since Simon Snow is basically Rowell's fictional version of Harry Potter, it works very well. The only issue I found was that like most fanfiction, it assumes you've read the books it's based on, so it sometimes felt like I was missing knowledge. But overall, I got it and enjoyed this quite a bit. I actually now kind of want to see what the Simon Snow books are like. Just, throwing that idea at you, Rowell.
If you've never read Fangirl, you can certainly read this. It basically reads like a completely separate book. It's just maybe helpful to know this book's intent before starting. But even without knowing the intent, this book is just an enjoyable read.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Fangirl, those in the Harry Potter fandom, anyone looking for fantasy LGBT books
MY RATING: Four out of Five wizards who aren't Harry Potter but kind of are

Friday, December 11, 2015

Book Review: As If!: The Oral History of Clueless

TITLE: As If!: The Oral History of Clueless
AUTHOR: Jen Chaney
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: July 2015
GENRE: Pop Culture Commentary
PREMISE: An examination of how Clueless got made and what has made the movie so enduring, even twenty years later.
MY REVIEW: Let me take you back to the nineties. This was a big time for teen movies. To anyone who thinks it's something new...nope, sorry. They were honestly being made even before the nineties (hey there, John Hughs). As far as I'm concerned, Clueless is one of the best of them. I rewatch it frequently and despite the nineties flavor, it actually holds up pretty well even twenty years later.
So I was interested in this book the minute I first heard of it. It's a very thorough look at Clueless and its influence. It goes into how Clueless got made, what was going on in Hollywood at the time, the cast, the crew, there's a teary talk about Brittany Murphy, and it even goes into whether or not it holds up as a Jane Austen retelling (it does btw).
If you love Clueless or just love books about movies/pop culture, this is a fun one to read. A lot of it is conversations with people involved so the book goes by really fast. It's well organized and very in depth, which is what I look for in my pop culture commentary books. So I say job well done. Even if I'm still trying to believe that it's been twenty years since Clueless. Man, I'm old.
WHO SHOULD READ: Clueless fans, fans of pop culture, movie fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five nineties movies

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2015

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

This week: New-to-me authors I read in 2015

So I read a wide variety of books this year. I read some really old books I've been meaning too, some newer ones from last year I meant to get to but didn't, and finally tried some series I've been meaning too for awhile now. This list is just a sample of new authors I found this year that I enjoyed.

1) Sherman Alexie-Yes, I FINALLY got around to Diary of a Part-Time Indian this year. Loved it. I plan on checking out Alexie's other adult books next year.

2) Maya Angelou-Another author whose other books I plan on checking out as soon as I find time.

3) Jasper Fforde-If you haven't read the Thursday Next series, you really really should. It's been my favorite find this year.

4) Anne Bishop-I've been hearing about Bishop off and on for awhile. I finally sat down and read Written in Red and I kind of loved it. Will definitely be reading the rest of Bishop's stuff in the future.

5) William Ritter-The Jackaby series is as fun as everyone has probably been telling you.

6) Octavia Butler-Why this woman hasn't been more widely read, I will never know. Well, knowing the Sci-Fi community as I do, I kind of have an idea why (hint: her race and her gender have something to do with it). But seriously, read Butler if you're a sci-fi fan.

7) Jandy Nelson-I'll Give You the Sun was great. I plan on getting to the Sky is Everywhere soon.

8) Roxanne Gay-Gay's Bad Feminist was my first intro to essay books and to the awesomeness that is Roxanne Gay (seriously, follow her on Twitter). Untamed State is on the TBR list.

9) Naomi Novik-Uprooted was my first introduction to this author. The dragon series she's known for has gone up in my TBR list after reading it.

10) Alan Bradley-The Flavia de Luce series is a delight. I can't wait to read them all.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Review: Red Queen

TITLE: Red Queen
Book 1 in the Red Queen Trilogy
AUTHOR: Victoria Aveyard
PUBLISHED: February 2015
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: In a world where people with powers rule over people that don't have powers, a girl's life is turned upside down when she is forced to work for the rulers she hates and then discovers she has a power of her own.
MY REVIEW: Oh boy, here we go again. Once more, here is a book everyone loved. Everyone has gushed about. It even won Goodreads Choice Award this year so this has been a pretty huge book this year. Unfortunately...I didn't get into it that much.
Once again, I do understand why this has become a thing. Just because I personally didn't get into it doesn't mean I don't get the appeal. It's very readable. Aveyard is a decent writer. She describes things wonderfully, I get a...vague sense of the world. There are still some things that don't make sense to me, but I'm guessing most of that will be explained in upcoming books. It's just that honestly, a lot of the plot ideas in this book have been done before and have been done better. In the wake of The Winner's Trilogy/Game of Thrones, dark fantasy has become a thing in YA now. While I'm all for it, it does mean that maybe we need to think outside the box a little more when it comes to this genre. While I do think the author definitely has talent and there's potential still felt like every other dark fantasy book I've read. It probably didn't help that I had read Court of Fives like a week earlier.
To be clear: I didn't hate this book. It's not horrible. It definitely is at least one of the better debuts of this year that I've read. It's just...not very original and honestly I feel some of the praise is a tad overblown as usual. But I do definitely see why people liked it. Heck, even though I'm not totally enamored with it, I'm probably going to read the second book next year. So, this book is good. As good as people have been saying? Maybe not. But it is at least a decent library read and maybe worth a buy if you find it's too your liking.
WHO SHOULD READ: Game of Thrones fans, Winner's Trilogy fans, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five people with powers

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Book Review: The Invasion of the Tearling

TITLE: The Invasion of the Tearling
Book 2 in the Tearling series
AUTHOR: Erika Johansen
PUBLISHED: June 2015
GENRE: Fantasy/Dystopian
PREMISE: Kelsea deals with being queen of a nation that is at war, both internally and outwardly.
MY REVIEW: Despite some issues in it, I actually really liked Queen of the Tearling. I'm happy to say, I feel the same about its sequel. In fact, I actually kind of like the sequel more then the first one.
I'll admit, the sequel is slow. It's mostly politics and we get to see a glimpse of how this world came to be from our world. That second part to me, was the most interesting part. I actually kind of wanted a whole book about Lily. But I'll settle for the glimpses of her story that we get. The story was made all the better when you saw how it entwined with Kelsea's story and the current situation she was in. I love when authors take two separate stories and then tie them together in brilliant ways.
The writing in this is still very solid and there's a twist at the end that I actually didn't see coming. I can't wait for the third book.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Queen of the Tearling, Games of Thrones fans, fans of political type fantasy
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five badass queens

Friday, December 4, 2015

Book Review: Court of Fives

TITLE: Court of Fives
Book 1 in the Court of Fives series
AUTHOR: Kate Elliott
PUBLISHED: August 18th, 2015
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl defies her father and social standing and winds up paying the price in more ways then one.
MY REVIEW: I've been wrestling with how I feel about this book for awhile. I don't hate it or anything. There's actually a lot to like about it. Like most of Little Brown's books, it's highly readable. I'm always impressed by LB's ability to find authors who write good entertaining romps. For all that this book is a tad cliche, it's mostly well done cliche if you will.
Because honestly, the cliche part is the major issue I have with it. It's just frankly, not that original. Dark fantasy's have been going around YA for awhile now. Particularly this past year or so thanks to things like The Winner's Trilogy and Red Queen. I feel like there's a contest or something going on to see who can claim the title of YA Game of Thrones. So really...there's nothing new here. It also doesn't help that the world building makes very little sense to me. Particularly where the sexism is concerned. Like, the rich people have sexism but the poor don't? How does that work? There are also a bunch of little things that made no sense. It was good for plot, but it made no sense.
Honestly, this was a entertaining but rough book. It had a lot of good ideas and again is readable. It's just the more you think about it, the more it just honestly is a bit of a mess. If you just read it as an entertaining romp though, and don't think about the details of it, it works well.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fantasy fans (who don't mind messy world building), The Winner's Trilogy fans, Red Queen fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Debut Novels I'm Looking Forward Too

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish
Gosh, it's been so long since I've done one of these. This is also rather late. But I wanted to gush about these awesome looking upcoming titles.

1) The Girl From Everywhere Book 1 by Heidi Heilig

Time traveling sea ship? I'm in. I mean, the rest of the stuff sounds great too, but you literally had me at time traveling sea ship.

2) Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

There's been quite a bit of buzz around this one already. I'm just adding to it. The set up sounds awesome. Hopefully it delivers.

3) A Study in Charlotte Book 1 by Brittany Cavallaro

Yes, another twist on Sherlock Holmes. I can't help it, I'm a sucker for these. This one sounds a tad like Lock and Mori but with Sherlock as the female this time. Hopefully I like this one better then I did Lock and Mori.

4) Library Jumpers Book 1: Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake

The awesome cover got me. Plus, the set up just sounds awesome.

5) Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Western Historical Fantasy? Yes please.

6) Sea of Ink and Gold Book 1: The Reader by Traci Chee

Another case where the cover got me even though this isn't coming out until like Fall. But it sounds awesome story wise as well. There's apparently pirates and assassins and it's been called a cross between Inkheart and the Grisha Trilogy. I'm in.

7) The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokski

Yes, pretty cover. But it sounds interesting and I'm all for more diverse fantasy out there.

8) The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

FINALLY someone has written a mystery/ghost story in Missouri (I see Gone Girl as a thriller more then a mystery). It's about time! Considering all the creepy cornfields we have out here I can't believe more haven't been written.

9) The Crown's Game Book 1 by Evelyn Skye

Yes, give me all the historical fantasy.

10) These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

This has been described as Jane Austen meets X-Men set in Victorian England. Hells yes I'm reading it.

Book Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

TITLE: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
PUBLISHED: October 6th, 2015
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: In a universe where people have to band together to save the world daily, life can get old fast when you're just one of the normals whose destiny isn't to save the world.
MY REVIEW: This is probably going to be one of my favorite books of the year. First off, it's meta. You all know how much I love meta-type books. This one delves into how life must be for the rest of the people who live in those Chosen Ones stories and man, it's brilliant.
We actually get two connecting stories in this. In one, we have the typical YA Chosen One story. Complete with love triangles and saving the world shenanigans. Then we get Mikey and his friends. AKA the students who just happen to go to the Chosen One's school and are just trying to survive in a place where stuff like this happens daily.
I suspect this book won't be everyone's cup of tea. It's quirky. Quirky books can either work for you or they won't. This one worked for me. It also reminded me that I need to read the rest of the Chaos Walking series and Monster Calls (which apparently is being made into a movie next year).
WHO SHOULD READ: Patrick Ness fans, meta-ish type book fans, fans of the Chosen One trope
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five normal kids just standing there minding their own business

Book Review: Firewalker

TITLE: Firewalker
Book 2 in the Worldwalker Trilogy
AUTHOR: Josephine Angelini
GENRE: Fantasy
PUBLISHED: September 1rst, 2015
PREMISE: Lily and Rowan are now back in her world. But that doesn't mean the parallel universe they left is done with them...
MY REVIEW: Whether or not you ever read this will probably depend on how much you liked Trial by Fire. That book was a bit hit or miss for some people. I've seen so many mixed reactions to it. basically more of the first book. So, if you were one who the book's probably best that you don't bother. Me, I'm an in betweener on this series. There are so many things I like about it, but at the same time there are issues in it as there are with most YA books. The good does far outweigh the bad though.
This was an all around solid sequel. I do think it suffered from middle of a trilogy syndrome a lot (particularly in the really stalled middle bit), but for the most part it kept up the pace and entertainment and there's a massive cliff-hanger at the end that will keep me coming back for the next book.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Trial by Fire, Fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five parallel universes

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Review: The Jumbies

TITLE: The Jumbies
AUTHOR: Tracey Baptiste
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PUBLISHED: April 2015
PREMISE: Corrine isn't afraid of anything, certainly not jumbies in the forest. Those aren't even real. Or are they?
MY REVIEW: This book is a prime example of why I still read middle-grade books. It's wonderfully creative.
This book actually reminded me a lot of Coroline. It's got that same creep factor, with a great female lead that you root for, and great adventure. It slows a bit in the middle, but for the most part this book is a quick whirlwind of a read that is a fun and creative. If you have tweens looking for something new to read who love creepy books, try putting this one into their hands. If you don't have tweens, read it anyway.
WHO SHOULD READ: Coroline fans, middle-grade readers, fans of creepy fantasy books
MY RATING: Four out of Five jumbies

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

TITLE: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Book 1 in the Flavia de Luce series
AUTHOR: Alan Bradley
CATEGORY: Sold as Adult, but I think it can be considered YA/Middle-Grade as well.
GENRE: Historical Mystery
PREMISE: A precocious little girl goes on the case when her father is accused of murder.
MY REVIEW: This is one of the many series out there that I've been meaning to get to for ages. I definitely see why it's caught on. It's very charming. Most of that is due to great narration that Bradley has with Flavia.
As far as mysteries go, this one isn't terribly ground breaking. It's an interesting one with some twists. It was well played out. Like most of these series though what carries it are the main characters. Flavia is a great character and the dynamics of the family are fascinating and honestly most of what made the book for me. There's also that sardonic sly humor that I have come to associate with British authors. No one does sarcasm quite like Brits.
While it does get terribly slow around the middle, for the most part, this is a good read. I'll definitely be looking into the rest of the series for next year as I plan to focus next year on mystery and romance books.
WHO SHOULD READ: Nancy Drew fans, historical mystery fans, fans of kid sleuths
MY RATING: Four out of Five magnifying glasses

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Review: Sophia-Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary

TITLE: Sophia-Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary
AUTHOR: Anita Anand
PUBLISHED: January 2015
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Biography
PREMISE: Biography about Sophia Duleep Singh, an Indian royal born in 1876 who became a suffragette and a revolutionary in favor of Indian Independance.
MY REVIEW: I picked this one up on a whim. It was floating around on a few lists when the disappointing Suffragette movie came out and I figured why not. You are forgiven if you've never heard of this woman. She's one of the many unsung suffragettes out there. She's also mostly involved in UK history and considering our US history centric school system, I'm not surprised I've never heard of her either. Why you've probably never heard of her is actually gone into at the end of the book. It's interesting and kind of sad.
As a biography, this is a pretty good one. It paints a clear picture of who this woman is. It goes into background information to explain her circumstances which means a crash course on the history of India and British colonization. It's interesting stuff.
If you are interested in Indian history and are curious about suffragettes beyond the main ones that people always talk about, this is definitely a good biography to pick up.
WHO SHOULD READ: biography fans, history fans, those interested in India/British Colonization history
MY RATING: Four out of Five badass suffragettes

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: Beastly Bones

TITLE: Beastly Bones
Book 2 in the Jackaby series
AUTHOR: William Ritter
PUBLISHED: September 22nd, 2015
GENRE: Historical Fantasy, Mystery
PREMISE: Abigail continues her new job with Jackaby.
MY REVIEW: I'll admit for overall plot...this sequel kind of stalls a lot. It feels much like a filler book. There were some random small things here and there, but overall, most of the book was focused on the mystery. While this was fine by me, I love fantasy mysteries, I'm sure some people might not appreciate it that much.
It did do a good job of developing Abigail. Most of the first book was focused on Jackaby and learning about this strange world he inhabits. This time around we get more of Abigail and it's perfectly welcome in my opinion. I kind of get the feeling this might be turning into a Dresden Files type of series and honestly, I have zero complaints about that. Though maybe don't go on as long as Dresden Files has.
As a sequel it's not really knock it out of the park. But it's still enjoyable. I just kind of hope the next book does some more stuff with Jackaby and central plot things.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jackaby fans, Historical fantasy fans, Mystery fans, Dresden Files fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five for bit of a sophomore slump

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book Review: The Copper Gauntlet

TITLE: The Copper Gauntlet
Book 2 in the Magisterium series
AUTHOR: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
PUBLISHED: September 1rst, 2015
CATEGORY: Middle-grade
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Revelations abound as Callum and his friends return for another year of school.
MY REVIEW: First, I apologize for the absence. Holiday shopping season is upon me at work which means long work days and little time to think about blogging. I have been reading though. So that's something. I just need to have a lot of time to catch up on reviews.
I read this one last month as a matter of fact and I honestly loved it as much as I loved the first book. It doesn't slow down on the pace for one. There is no sophomore slump here and the authors don't stall on plot devices. Some things get revealed that are pretty surprising.
 Now yes, it is still kind of a Harry Potter combined with Percy Jackson rip off. But there are enough different things to keep the series a bit of a surprise. I personally don't see being a rip off as a kiss of death like some fans make it out to be. The case could be made for Percy Jackson being a rip off of Harry Potter and I still manage to enjoy that. This was a well done sequel and I still look forward to the rest of the series.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of the first book, Harry Potter fans, Percy Jackson fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five yes it's kind of a rip off but I don't cares

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Book Review: The Paris Mysteries

TITLE: The Paris Mysteries
Book 3 in the Confessions series
AUTHOR: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: Tandy and her family are now in Paris and Tandy finds more skeletons in the family closet.
MY REVIEW: Wow. That is not a good wow. I don't think I've ever had a series belly flop so hard on me like this. I never kidded myself. This series was never great reading. But its good points tended to overshadow the bad ones. This time however....there was more bad then good.
For starters, everyone was out of character. These characters were virtually unrecognizable from the characters I had come to adore from the first two books. Especially C. P. Don't get me started on how they ruined C. P. What happened with her is textbook character assassination. Character assassination that made no sense.
There is just one more book left, but honestly? I'm done. This series jumped the shark for me.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read the first two but tread lightly
MY RATING: Two out of Five bad what the hells

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reading Through the Classics: Northanger Abbey

TITLE: Northanger Abbey
AUTHOR: Jane Austen
GENRE: Romance
PREMISE: Catherine enjoys her season at Bath with a delightful new friend who introduces her to gothic romances which fuels her imagination while she visits her friend at Northanger Abbey.
MY THOUGHTS: For me, this is an underrated Austen book. I kept hearing this one and Mansfield Park were her worst. While I wasn't as into Mansfield Park, this one I actually liked quite a bit. This is probably going to get me yelled at, but I kind of liked Mr. Tilney better then Mr. Darcy.
Like all of Austen's books, there is some brilliant social commentary mixed in here with the slightly more quiet romance of Catherine and Mr. Tilney. Most of the commentary is aimed at gothic romances, which were all the rage back then. Yes, gothic romances are nothing new. For those of you who like to sneer at popular fiction nowadays, I'd like to point out that a lot of classics nowadays were yesterday's popular fiction. That book snobs like you also sneered at.
This is probably the lightest of Austen's books that I've read so far. There's very little angst, everything ends happily as always with Austen. It's also a very fast read. The audiobook itself, is less then three hours long. It's great way to spend an afternoon.

Quotable Austen:

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

“It is only a novel... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language” 

“The person, be it gentlemen or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” 

“If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard?”

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book Review: The Fifth Season

TITLE: The Fifth Season
Book 1 in the Broken Earth series
AUTHOR: N. K. Jemisin
GENRE: Fantasy
PUBLISHED: August 4rth, 2015
PREMISE: Not sure how to describe this without spoiling everything. It's a fantasy with characters trying to survive in the world?
MY REVIEW: This book reminded me that I really need to finish up the Inheritance Trilogy and get to Jemisin's other stuff because man, she's a good author. This is a very hard to describe book, but if you are a fan of good well crafted fantasy then I suggest you pick this up.
For those used to her Inheritance Trilogy books, this is written a little differently. I know alternating points of views can be exasperating to some, but this is an author who knows how to use this style well. It's very effective and well done.
If you love stuff like Game of Thrones or just fantasy in general, pick this up. If you love N. K. Jemisin, pick this up. I promise, despite the somewhat slow start, it's worth the read.
WHO SHOULD READ: Game of Thrones fans, N. K. Jemisin fans, fans of dark fantasy
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five epic fantasy worlds

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Where to Start: Mystery/Thrillers/Suspense

So, I've been debating and debating how to go about this list. Mystery in adult land is somewhat complicated because there are all these subgenres. There's cozy mystery, historical mystery, thrillers, and even a bunch of urban fantasy books out there could be considered mystery. I've decided to break it down into four categories: mystery, cozy mystery, and historical mystery.
Mystery for this list is going to be any book that has a mystery as the central part of its plot. I'm not including historical or fantasy settings. Just regular crime solving. I'm throwing in thrillers/suspense as well because honestly, the line between regular mystery and thrillers has always been a bit blurred so I'm just going to do them all at once.

Classics of the genre that are a good idea to read:
The Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle
Poirot series/Miss Marple series/or And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Lord Peter Whimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers
Philip Marlowe series by Raymond Chandler

Some popular staples:
Millenium series by Stieg Larsson
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith
Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson

Some random personal recommendations:
Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs
Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Review: The Nightmare Charade

TITLE: The Nightmare Charade
Book 3 in the Arkwell Academy series
AUTHOR: Mindee Arnett
GENRE: Urban Fantasy/Mystery
PUBLISHED: August 4rth, 2015
PREMISE: Dusty and Eli solve another mystery and try to find a way for them to be together.
MY REVIEW: This...wasn't a disappointment persay. It ended in a satisfactory way. There are certainly worse ways to end a series.
It's was predictable. I could see exactly how things were going to play out halfway through. There were maybe one or two minor twists, but not enough to make this a must read conclusion, unless you were a big fan of the first two books like I was.'s an average end to an enjoyable but average series. But I still think Arnett has great imagination though. I look forward to seeing whatever new idea she comes up with next.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first two books, Harry Potter fans, mystery fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Four out of Five

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Review: Vivian Apple Needs a Miracle

TITLE: Vivian Apple Needs a Miracle
Book 2 in the Vivian Apple books
AUTHOR: Katie Coyle
PUBLISHED: September 1rst, 2015 (in the US)
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: Vivian and her friend Harper do what they can to fight against the powerful Church of America, who has turned the two of them into public enemy no. 1.
MY REVIEW: It seems as though this is the last book in this series and I think that's a shame. This was a great dystopian set up. Considering the rhetoric going around lately, I had zero problems believing it could happen. That's rare in a YA dystopian.
On top of the fascinating set up are some great characters. The friendship between Vivian and Harper continues to be fabulous. We get some more insight to Vivian's long lost sister as well as her mother and it's just some all around good stuff. The romance with Peter is a bit whatever, but what can you do.
I'm sorry to see these books go. It was such a refreshing dystopian. I hope Coyle sticks around and gives us more interesting books.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, dystopian fans, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five believable dystopians

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thematic Sunday: Books for Those Looking Forward to Supergirl

So this week the new Supergirl TV show premieres. I'm mildly excited about it. I've heard good things from those who watched the leaked pilot (I abstained and will be watching it live to give the show ratings). I imagine there are some other fans out there, so here are some things to check out to tide you over during the season while waiting for new episodes.

1) Lois Lane series Book 1: Fall Out by Gwenda Bond

That's right, Lois Lane has gotten her own YA series. The first one is pretty cool and I definitely believe this is a teen Lois. There's a second book coming out next year in May.

2) Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Not to be outdone by the competition, Marvel is also throwing their hat into the YA book market, and releasing a Black Widow focused book. It just got released this past month. I've heard mostly good things. It's to be reviewed as soon I can get a copy. Another note: there's also a Captain Marvel YA series starting. ;dances a happy jig;

3) The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

If non-fiction is more your thing, definitely check out this book on how Wonder Woman came to be.

4) Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines by Mike Madrid

This one sounds like it's a little similar to the above book, but goes into superheroines other then Wonder Woman, including our girl Kara.

5) Ms. Marvel graphic novel series

If you are a graphic novel reader (and if you're looking forward to Supergirl, I'm assuming you are to some extent), you've likely heard about this series. Rest assured, it's awesome. Definitely check it out if you can.

6) Superman: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Wilson

Superman is...sort of involved in Supergirl's life (it depends on the version of Superman we're going with, honestly). It might be a good idea to look into big blue before watching Supergirl. Word on the street is, he might be making one or two cameos on the show.

7) Supergirl Vol. 1: The Last Daughter of Krypton graphic novel

The Supergirl comics mythos/backstory is...complicated what with all of DCs retcons. The new 52 definitely has its faults, but this is probably the best place to start if you're unfamiliar with Kara and would like to read her comics before watching the show.

8) Dark Star Trilogy by Bethany Frennette

Awesome urban fantasy series dealing with a world where there are superheroes. This series deserves way more love then it gets.

9) Zodiac series by Stan Lee, Stuart Moore and Andie Tong

Another example of Marvel/DC trying their hand at books, this is a new middle-grade series taking place in the Marvel verse about a group of kids discovering they have powers. There's only one book so far, book two comes out in January.

10) Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection graphic novel

Another awesome DC superheroine is Batgirl. Her comic book counterpart is so much better then any version we've gotten on TV or film. Perhaps if Supergirl does well, we could finally get the Barbara Gordon on TV that we deserve.