Saturday, February 28, 2015

Looking Ahead: March 2015

So many awesome books coming out this month. Here's what's on my radar, meaning you can probably expect a review of it here soon.

TITLE: Sorceress
Book 3 in the Spellcaster Trilogy
AUTHOR: Claudia Gray
Released: March 3rd

Why: It's Claudia Gray, I can always count on her books for a good time that doesn't make me feel like I'm losing IQ points. This series is no exception, thought the second did drag a bit.

TITLE: Razorhurst
AUTHOR: Justine Larbalestier
Released: March 3rd

Why: It just sounds cool. Historical fiction with ghosts and mob bosses. I'm in.

TITLE: Burning Kingdoms
Book 2 in the Internment Chronicles
AUTHOR: Lauren DeStafano
Released: March 10th

Why: I admit, I didn't care for the Chemical Garden Trilogy at all. But I loved DeStafano's writing style. If I could grade her on ability to tell a story alone, that trilogy would have a full five stars instead of me shrugging my shoulders at it. Here, there's good writing AND good story. It's so much better then the Chemical Garden Trilogy and I can't wait to read the sequel.

TITLE: Shadow Scale
Book 2 in the Seraphina series
AUTHOR: Rachel Hartman
Released: March 10th

Why: FINALLY! I've been waiting for this sequel for TWO YEARS. I loved Seraphina and if you haven't read it, you totally should. I can't wait to get my hands on this one.

TITLE: Prudence
Book 1 in the Custard Protocol series
AUTHOR: Gail Carriger
Released: March 17th

Why: When Gail Carriger has a new book out I don't ask questions, I just read. I have not been let down by her books once.

TITLE: Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story
AUTHOR: David Levithan
Released: March 17th

Why: Tiny Cooper pretty much made Will Grayson, Will Grayson for me. I'm thrilled he's getting his own book.

TITLE: The Walls Around Us
AUTHOR: Nova Ren Suma
Released: March 24rth

Why: Suma is a vastly underrated YA author. Her prose are beautiful and she has wonderfully imaginative set ups and complicated heroines in her books. I never know what I'm going to get with her books, other then it'll be well written.

TITLE: The Wicked Will Rise
Book 2 in the Dorothy Must Die series
AUTHOR: Danielle Page
Released: March 31rst

Why: This series is just the right amount of cheese and good stuff that makes for an entertaining read about Oz. Looking forward to the sequel.

TITLE: Black Dove, White Raven
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Wein
Released: March 31rst

Why: It's Elizabeth Wein, if you haven't read Code Name Verity or Rose Under Fire, do so immediately.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: The Spiritglass Charade

TITLE: The Spiritglass Charade
Book 2 in the Stoker and Holmes series
AUTHOR: Colleen Gleason
PUBLISHED: October 2014
GENRE: Steampunk/Classic Book referencing/Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: Stoker and Holmes embark on a new adventure that leads them to discovering that vampires may not be as instinct as once believed...
MY REVIEW: I really enjoyed The Clockwork Scarab and was happy to see that there was indeed a sequel coming. For the most part this did not disappoint. It did all the things a sequel should. It advanced the story, introduced new story lines and had a good mystery along with it.
My only issue is that apparently we really need Stoker and Holmes making catty remarks about each other in their heads even though they're partners and have been through a lot. I'm sorry...we really don't. I get that these two girls have clashing personalities. I get that they aren't going to get along or see eye to eye on things. But we really do not need them making catty remarks about the way the other girl behaves or looks. Same with Holmes making remarks about other girl's appearance. It just is not necessary. It's more of this girls can't really be friends crap that floats around entertainment and I for one am sick of it. Especially because this drags down an otherwise really enjoyable book.
Other then that pet peeve of mine, I enjoyed this one just as much as I enjoyed the first one. If you loved the first one, you won't be disappointed. If you haven't checked out Clockwork Scarab yet, I strongly urge you too. Especially if you're a steampunk fan of any sorts.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, steampunk fans, Sherlock Holmes/Dracula fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five glass balls

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: The Silkworm

TITLE: The Silkworm
Book 2 in the Cormoran Strike series
AUTHOR: Robert Galbraith
PUBLISHED: Summer 2014
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: Cormoran investigates the disappearance of a author who was writing a book that would reveal dozens of secrets of powerful people in the book industry.
MY REVIEW: I loved the Cuckoo's Calling when I finally got to read it. I didn't mean to take quite so long to get to the sequel but stuff happened and I honestly just forgot about it because summer was a really busy time for books.
This sequel did not disappoint me though. I will say, I wasn't as hooked on this mystery as I was with the last one. Unlike Lulu, you do not feel one bit sorry for the writer who gets offed. He's a massive jerk in so many ways. But Rowling still manages to get you engrossed in what happened to him in that magic way she has. Seriously, her way of writing was made for mysteries. I seriously cannot wait for the BBC mini-series of this series. It's tailor made for TV. Plus, there's some pretty clever meta going on in here about writers and the publishing industry. Though unlike Owen, she does not seem to be basing these characters on any particular people (although Owen's ego about his work reminds me of several egotistic authors who shall remain nameless ;cough;Jonathan Franzen;cough;).
If you were a fan of the first book or just adore PI series then I absolutely recommend this series. I can't wait for the next book. Which I hope features more character growth for the assistant. I want a Joan Watson thing there so badly (where she moves from assistant to pupil to badass detective in her own right).
WHO SHOULD READ: Mystery fans, JK Rowling fans (willing to leave Harry Potter behind),
MY RATING: Four out of Five writers doing meta on writers

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Convergence

TITLE: Convergence
Book 1 in the Zodiac Legacy series
AUTHOR: Stan Lee, Stuart Moore, and Andie Tong
PUBLISHED: January 27th, 2015
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade
GENRE: Urban Fantasy/Adventure/Superheroes
PREMISE: A boy gets mystical powers and goes on an adventure while on a trip to China.
MY REVIEW: So it looks like this is the year Marvel is breaking into the book market. Or rather, the YA/MG book market. They've always had movie tie-in books and whatnot. There is another book in this series coming out. They also apparently have a YA book series planned for Black Widow written by Margeret Stohl out later this year (and as a Black Widow fan, I'm super pumped for that one. Almost makes up for no Black Widow movie. ALMOST). DC is apparently also getting in on the action with a Lois Lane series due this year as well (also pumped for that one).
But let's talk about this series. If you're familiar with Marvel and the way they do their origin stories, this one will be familiar to you. It is fun like all Marvel tends to be, with great diverse cast of characters and promising of interesting future plot-line developments. My only complaint goes by TOO fast for my taste. I have a feeling this was originally intended to be a comic book and they decided to go with book form for whatever reason instead. As a result the plot happens at a fast-paced speed that doesn't leave much room for character development. Were this actually a comic book series, I'd say this was a good first volume of issues and be happy. But it's a I notice the flaws a lot more.
That said, it's still definitely a good start to a series. I just hope they develop characters more in the coming books. I say this is a good one for all fellow marvel fans.
WHO SHOULD READ: comic book lovers, marvel fans, percy jackson fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five chinese zodiacs

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book Review: Bad Feminist

TITLE: Bad Feminist
AUTHOR: Roxane Gay
PUBLISHED: August 2014
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essays
PREMISE: Lots of essays on feminism and feminist issues, as well as relating feminist issues to pop culture.
MY REVIEW: So one of my book goals this year is to get into non-fiction reading. I do occasionally pick up a non-fiction book. It's just usually art books or books I use for research purposes. But lately there has been a lot of really awesome looking non-fiction coming out and I realized: I don't really know that much about this category. I've actually never even read an essay book. This one here, is my first essay book.
So with that in mind...I'm not sure how to review this. Everything I learned about essays I learned in college, okay? I don't know what sets good essays apart from bad ones, I don't know why some get collected in a book and others just get filed away somewhere. An expert on essays, I am not. So I'm mostly basing my review on my enjoyment of this book. I enjoyed it. A lot. Mostly because I related to a lot of what she was talking about and was going "preach girl, preach" throughout it. Some were better then others. That scrabble one was cute, but I don't think it really fit in with the rest of the collection.
So I enjoyed it. If you are new to essays, then this is probably a good starter book because I did enjoy the format a lot. I'm now seeking out other essay books, if any of you have any recommendations I'd be happy to hear them.
WHO SHOULD READ: all feminists, people who think being a feminist is about hating men (FYI: IT'S NOT), essay book fans, Roxane Gay fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five feminists

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Thematic Sunday: Books Dealing With Religion Struggles/Faith

So Ash Wednesday is upon us. I won't explain it, because I've never personally participated (I'm not Catholic, thank God, because I'd be the worse Catholic ever). But I thought that as people go through lent, that they might be looking for books dealing with faith as they're struggling to stay away from chocolate/coffee/whatever you've decided to give up. I'm being pretty liberal with my definition of religious here too. Some of these are non-fiction, some are allegory fiction, some are just about people who are into religion.

1) Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

Non-fiction series of essays written by Lewis on Christianity. If you've been going to Church on the regular chances are you've heard of this one already. Also check out his Screwtape Letters book. Just be warned: he had some shitty ideas about PoC and women. So your feelings about Chronicles of Narnia (also recommended) may become tainted. At least they will if you're me.

2) God is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein

Never read this one myself, but from what I understand it wrestles with ideas about death and faith and all that jazz.

3) Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK by Betsy St. Amant

Book about a preachers kid who starts questioning her faith and what she believes.

4) The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan

Like Lewis, if you're already in religious probably know this one.

5) Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Fiction book that wrestles with that science versus religion question. Personally, I think you can believe in religion and also believe in science. The two do not have to mutually exclusive. Unfortunately...many people don't seem to see it that way.

6) The Robert Langden series by Dan Brown

The first two absolutely for sure read. They have some fantastic observations/debates about science vs religion (and also point out how they don't have to be at odds) and go into a lot of bible history. The third one mostly deals with Freemasons. Haven't read the forth one yet so I have no idea what conspiracy that one's about.

7) A Nun on the Bus by Sister Simone Campbell

Non-fiction by a real-life nun doing some awesome stuff. Sometimes you just need to read something that makes you feel slightly better about your fellow Christians.

8) Time Quartet by Madeline L'Engle

Apparently like Chronicles of Narnia, this is allegory fiction. I never knew that when I read it as a kid, all I knew was that Meg and her siblings were damn awesome and I loved Mrs. Whatsit. I should probably note that the allegory in Chronicles of Narnia went completely over my head too. I just don't catch the allegories unless you tell me.

9) Faking Faith by Josie Bloss

About a lonely girl who befriends online Christian bloggers. Probably a bit of a stretch here. But hey, maybe some will get a kick out of it.

10) Godless by Pete Hautman

Have never heard of this one till now, but it sounds interesting. A kid apparently goes off an creates his own religion, complete with followers. This details the pitfalls that come with religion. I can see so much meta discussion about this...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book Review: The House of the Spirits

TITLE: The House of the Spirits
AUTHOR: Isabel Allende
PUBLISHED: 1986 (in the US)
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
PREMISE: The saga of a family in the Dominican Republic whose females inherit unusual gifts.
MY REVIEW: Somehow in all my book world wanderings I had never heard of Isabel Allende until last year. She is apparently a big thing in the literature world. Which...probably explains why I never heard of her, I haven't really been paying attention to those circles until the past year or so when I made the effort to get back into reading adult fiction.
Since this book has been out for quite some time and, like things such as A Fault in Our Stars, has had a lot of things said about it that are probably more relevant then anything I have to say...I'm not sure how review this one. I do know that for a magical realism book....I actually liked it. I know, you're all stunned, right? Well, unlike the magical realism books I keep running into...this one is well-written. Such beautiful prose. It's not really what I would call entertainment reading. There's some pretty heavy stuff in here (along with a rape so please watch out for that). It is however, a book that makes you think. The historical parts were the most interesting to me, mostly because again, this is a part of history I know very little about. Damn American based history teachers.
I think this is a book that will appeal to certain kinds of readers. If you're a reader who doesn't mind slow moving (but worth it) books, dense family sagas, and heavy stuff I whole-heartedly recommend this.
WHO SHOULD READ: magical realism fans, Isabel Allende fans, fans of family history books, Thornbirds fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five family dramas

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

TITLE: The Darkest Part of the Forest
AUTHOR: Holly Black
PUBLISHED: January 6th, 2015
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Faeries
PREMISE: A faerie prince wakes up after a long slumber, causing trouble for Hazel, Ben, and their small town.
MY REVIEW: If your first instinct is to compare this to the author's more well-known book: wouldn't be that far off. This has a lot of echoes of the Tithe trilogy. It has faeries, it has a female character who gets stuff done, and an overall dark tone to it.
But plot wise, it is quite different from Tithe and is Black's usual great mixture of entertaining and great world-building. I just love the way this author does the fae and this book is no exception to her creativity. It's a pretty straight-forward tale and so I don't feel a need for a sequel (though I wouldn't say no to one).
This is much of what I've come to expect from Black: solid writing, complex but engaging characters, a not-so black and white world, and overall a creative setting with wonderful world-building. If you're a Holly Black fan like I am, you will not be disappointed in this.
WHO SHOULD READ: Holly Black fans, Tithe Trilogy fans, Faerie fans, Lost Girl fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five coffins

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: The Witches of Echo Park

TITLE: The Witches of Echo Park
Book 1 in the Witches of Echo Park series
AUTHOR: Amber Benson
PUBLISHED: January 6th, 2015
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A woman returns home at her ailing family member's request and learns she's actually a witch.
MY REVIEW: I have really mixed feelings about this one. Writing was average. Nothing special, but nothing horrible either. Same character wise and plot wise.
My main issue is...not much actually happened in it. We get introduced to the characters and learn about the world and ends. Literally, it's like a prologue to the actual story. Like one really long-winded narrator going "this is what happened before all the other stuff and now our story." only to end just as you get to the story. That was...kind of annoying to be honest. I get that you want people to read the next one but at least have plot stuff actually happen in the book.
So...,it's not a bad book.'s not the greatest either. So...I don't really know how I feel about it other then...meh.
WHO SHOULD READ: Urban Fantasy fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five black cats

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book Review: The Unbound

TITLE: The Unbound
Book 2 in the Archived Series
AUTHOR: Victoria Schwab
PUBLISHED: January 2014
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Mackenzie deals with the aftermath of what happened to her in the last book and how her job has started to effect her life.
MY REVIEW: The Archived was one of my favorite books of 2013. So underrated. Oddly enough, it never got much buzz although the author's adult book Viscous took off pretty damn well. I'm trying not to think that it's because her pen name for that was initials instead of Victoria...but I suspect that helped. ;incoherent muttering about sexism in the book world;
The Unbound is just as wonderful and unexpected as the first book. Most sequels tend to do just a quick speed through to get to the next one. While this one definitely did do the introducing new characters bit, and it definitely built on previous plots, it did something that was unexpected. It went into how this life effects Mackenzie. Some YA trilogies have done this (Hunger Games for example did a pretty damn good job without being obvious about it). But not quite to the extent here. It's just a nice change of pace for an author to show how this stuff does effect you, especially when you're a teen because as tough as she is, Mackenzie is awfully damn young to be dealing with the stuff that has happened to her so far.
This was just a really satisfying sequel. I cannot wait for the next one, which sadly has not been confirmed for a release date yet, but Schwab promises is coming.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of The Archived, Urban Fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five teens dealing with so much shit, good lord

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Thematic Sunday: Romantic Books/Book series

So...I am not what one would call a huge consumer of romance. But every so often, I feel inclined to see one out. Or I seek out a book that is rather romantic but not what people tend to picture when they picture a romance novel. As Valentines Day is upon us (or Single Awareness Day as I prefer to call it), here are some romantically inclined books/book series to get you in the mood:

1) Anna and the French Kiss Trilogy by Stephanie Perkins

Why: It's romance set in PARIS. Why would you not want to read that?

2) Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

Why: Personally, I've never read these (will one of these days), but I hear it's pretty damn romantic and involves time travel.

3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Why: Looking for more character driven romance? You can't do much better then Bronte. Also check out her sisters books which also have some classic romances.

4) Anything Jane Austen

Why: While I'm sure there were romance novels before Austen, one cannot deny she has had a HUGE influence over the genre.

5) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Why: Maybe tear-jerker romances are your thing? Well, might I point to this book.

6) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Why: Maybe you like less rip-your-heart out romance and more bittersweet romances? Well, again, I point to this book.

8) The Shiver Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

Why: Perhaps you want more paranormal inclined romance. Well here's werewolves.

9) The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Why: What's this? You want straight up romantic fantasy? That's not quite so angsty/sad? Ahem. Also recommend the movie.

10) Anything Sarah Dessen

Why: have never read her, but people tell me she's a better version of Nicholas Sparks. Which as someone who kind of detests Nicholas Sparks' books already intrigues me.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Book Review: Jackaby

TITLE: Jackaby
Book 1 in the Jackaby series
AUTHOR: William Ritter
PUBLISHED: September 2014
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl arrives in New England and finds a job working for a mysterious man who deals with things like faeries.
MY REVIEW: If you've heard about this book (which is probably not many, for some reason it wasn't one of the huge buzz books last year), you've likely heard the Sherlock meets Doctor Who comparisons. While I do think the Sherlock (canon Sherlock Holmes anyway, not the Moffat version) is apt, I think it's more comparable to Dresden Files then to Doctor Who.
Luckily I like all three of these things so I dug this book quite a bit. Also luckily, it treats its female characters much better then all of those things. I love Sherlock but some of the things they do with the female characters makes me want to bang my head against the wall. It's one of the many reasons I actually prefer Elementary. But that's another rant for another day. Back to the book. It's just fun. It pretty much is a rehash of familiar territory. Main character getting a job for a mysterious employer and discovering magic world is a much loved trope, but it's well done nonetheless. This is a good intro to the world, there's a fast brisk pace to it, and it's just all around entertaining.
If you're looking for fun historical fantasy mystery this book definitely fits the bill. I can't wait for the next one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Sherlock Holmes fans, Dresden Files fans, historical fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five murders to solve

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

TITLE: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
AUTHOR: Sherman Alexie
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A Native-American boy transfers to the white school off of his reservation and faces a whole lot of consequences for it.
MY REVIEW: This probably won't be so much a review but a chime in. This is one those books that is on everyone's must-read lists, everyone likes it (though I'm sure there's some easily offended person somewhere kicking up a fuss about it just because), it's pretty much a recommend everywhere. While the masses and I don't always agree about stuff, this is an instance where I say: good job bestseller list.
I did really like this book and I totally completely get why it's become a huge thing in YA. Like Thirteen Reasons Why and Speak, this is one that all high schoolers should read. Heck, some privileged adults could probably stand to read it. This is just one of those books that needs to be and should be discussed and I salute the teachers who aren't afraid to use it in the classroom. Because if my endorsement isn't enough, it's been frequently banned/challenged in libraries. Nothing says decent read like a book having parents pearl clutching, right?
So yes, the hype is kind of accurate. Possibly a wee bit overblown like most hype, but it's still a damn good book. If you haven't picked it up, do so.
WHO SHOULD READ: Anyone inclined to do so, realistic fiction fans
MY RATING: Five out of Five, I honestly can't think of anything in it I didn't like

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Top Ten Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books I Can't Believe I've Never Read

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

So this week's topic was top ten books in a genre we can't believe we haven't read. I'm cheating a bit and doing Sci-Fi AND Fantasy, but in my defense both of these genres are often grouped together. I read a fair amount of books in both and yet there are some major ones out there that I haven't even touched.

1) Dune by Frank Herbert

Yes, I know, I have the nerve to call myself a nerd and I haven't even read this series at all. I know what it's about. I've seen the awful movie everyone says ruined the book, and I even know what sandworms are. I've just never read the actual book. ;hangs head in nerd shame;

2) The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

I've read the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit is one of my favorite books. Yet I've never read this or any other of the many books in the LotR verse.

3) I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I've seen the movie, it's actually one of my favorite Will Smith movies. But I've never read the book (which yes, I know is different from the movie) or any Isaac Asimov for that matter. But I should be getting to him this year as I'm probably going to be finishing up all the A authors on my reading through the library project and he's one of the major ones on the list.

4) Redshirts by John Scalzi

It's taken me an embarrassing amount of time to get to Scalzi, I only just read my first Scalzi book (Lock In) last year. I'm hoping to get to this one this year.

5) Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

This has been recommended right and left. It sounds right up my alley. I don't know why I haven't gotten to it yet.

6) The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

One of those staple series in fantasy and I've never read it. I've just never had interest despite it being fantasy.

7) The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

Have never read any Nix accept for a short story he did in a book collection I read once that was rather good. This whole trilogy is sitting on my bookshelf, I don't know why I haven't gotten to it, I just keep FORGETTING about it.

8) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This one escaped my schooling. Which doesn't shock me much, my teachers were very much of the old dead white dude mind-set and only did "serious" literature like Hemingway. Anything that wasn't realistic fiction, they didn't bother with. Hmm....maybe that's why I can't get into realistic fiction nowadays....

9) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I've seen the movie so I do often feel compelled to recommend the book to people, particularly those getting into dystopian. But I myself have never read this one. ;hangs head in nerd shame once again;

10) Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant

I've had this recommended to me many times and it does look like something I'd dig. I've just never gotten around to reading it for some reason. Maybe this year...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Looking Ahead: February 2015

Here are some books on my radar for 2015 that you can expect eventual reviews for:

Woodcutter Sisters Book 3: Dearest by Alethea Kontis

Why: Yay, more Woodcutter sisters verse!

Released: February 3rd

Alienated Book 2: Invaded by Melissa Landers

Why: Alienated was a pleasant surprise for me. Look forward to seeing more of the alien world this time around.

Released: February 3rd

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

Why: I've been waiting for this sequel for like EVER. One of the many long-awaited sequels this year.

Released: February 10th

Bloodlines Book 6: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Why: The finale to Bloodlines! ;sniffs that it's over; But apparently Mead has another series already in the works so all is not lost!

Released: February 10th

The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

Why: Article 5 was vastly underrated. Look forward to seeing Simmons' newest project.

Released: February 10th

A Darker Shade of Magic Book 1 by V. E. Schwab

Why: V.E.Schwab is the adult pen name for Victoria Schwab who writes the criminally underrated Archived series. I haven't read her adult books yet and figured I would start with her newest.

Released: February 24rth