Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Winner's Crime

Title: The Winner's Crime
Book 2 in the Winner's Trilogy
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 3rd
Category: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Premise: Now trapped in an impossible situation, Kestral and Arin deal with the consequences of their choices.
My Review: I adored the Winner's Curse like pretty much everyone else did last year. So believe me, I had some big expectations for this book. Rutkoski delivered.
Yes, this one does have some of the pitfalls most second books in trilogies have. A slightly stalled plot for instance. Most of this book is court intrigue things. While that is absolutely right up my alley...I know that can bore some people. I however, loved it to bits, because it helped build up the world and gave much breathing room for the fast pace of the first book. There were also some character development bits here and there that were nice to see.
As far as sequels go, I say this one landed and did its job. There's an excellent (meaning it was pure evil) cliff hanger at the end and I can't wait for the next book.
Who Should Read: those who've read Winner's Curse, fantasy fans, Tamora Pierce fans, Game of Thrones fans
My Rating: Four and a half out of Five spies spying on each other

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Review: Case Histories

Title: Case Histories
Book 1 in the Jackson Brodie series
Author: Kate Atkinson
Published: 2004
Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery
Premise: A PI investigates three old cases that are seemingly unrelated.
My Review: Okay, confession: I tried Life After Life, the book this author is mostly known for, and...I couldn't get into it. I think it was mostly me. I may try to get back to it in audiobook format. I liked the writing style, so I picked this one instead because I figured hey, mystery. Definitely more my thing.
I was right, I got into this a whole lot better then Life After Life. It is your basic literaryish PI novel. PI is down on his luck, gets a few cases and those cases help make his luck a little better. My only issue with this one is that I wish it hadn't been in multiple POVs. I think it would have been better to just stick to Brodie's POV. But that's a thing in literature/thriller writing so, what can you do?
So if you're a fan of the Cuckoo's Calling or Phillip Marlowe or any some such types of series, this one is definitely for you.
Who Should Read: Mystery fans, Cormoran Strike fans, PI detective series fans
My Rating: Four out of Five cold cases

Book Review: I Was Here

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: January 27th, 2015
Category: YA
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Premise: A girl deals with her grief over her best friend's sudden suicide.
My Review: This is one the kind of book I suspect people will mostly seek out because they want too. Forman has a large readership by now so she has a built in fanbase. This certainly is a good introduction to her stuff.
The subject is why I feel it'll probably just come down to a matter of if the person wants to read it or not. It deals with suicide and grief and I don't know about anyone else, but that's something I have to be in the mood for.
It's definitely a good book, if a bit slow moving. I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending and that's probably another thing that will come down to the person in question. I've seen very mixed reactions. I say pick this one up from the library if you're not sure if it'll be to your taste.
Who should read: Gayle Forman fans, Thirteen Reasons Why fans, those looking for serious issue books
My Rating: Four out of Five tissues

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book: Feed

Title: Feed
Author: M. T. Anderson
Category: YA
Published: 2002 (2004 in the US)
Genre: Dystopian
Premise: In a future where everyone has chips in their brain that gives them updates, a boy meets a girl...
My Review: This is one of those books that tends to wind up on a lot of people's lists. I've had people go "better then Hunger Games!" at me about it, and literally hold it up as a pinnacle of YA fiction. Which is probably why I avoided it because I knew that would effect my feelings on it if I didn't like it. But I finally caved and of course...I tended to nitpick. This is why I loathe hype.
Honestly though, even without the hype...I probably would have just shrugged at this. It's that average. I'm honestly trying to sit here and think about what could have possibly set it apart from all the other dystopians to get it its praise and the only things I can come up with are 1) It's written by a male (lets face it, most of the dystopians in YA are written by females, hence why they get mocked and this gets awards ;grumbles about double standards;). 2) It has a male main character falling in love, and 3) no real uprising or chosen one stuff. That's it. That's all that sets it apart from things like Hunger Games. Writing wise it's average. Character wise...average again. Everything is just average. I don't get it.
It doesn't help that the topic and slang honestly feel a little outdated. In the early 00s there was all this worry about the effect the internet and all the fast growing technology was having in our youth and it's kind of obvious this was written as a response to that fear. The author has them using a LOT of teen speak (from our time, which...doesn't make sense as this is the future and slang changes). Then there's the fact that NOTHING HAPPENS. That's what really floors me. This is literally just him falling in love with Violet, then getting annoyed with her bringing up world views and serious stuff, and then the death at the end and...that's it. Literally, that's the plot. It's one of the most boring dystopians I've read, to be honest.
Honestly, the more I sit and think about this book, the less I like it. So much could have been done with it, it was an interesting world and everything, but the story just never went anywhere. Also, I can't help but feel it would have been about ten times more interesting in Violet's point of view, she was the one who had an actual narrative. Instead we're stuck with the boring male character who basically just goes to parties all the time.
Again...this is just me. I also admit, most of my issues came about because hype around this book gave me pretty big expectations. There are some interesting ideas floating around in this thing but it just felt like those interesting ideas never came to their full potential.
WHO SHOULD READ: dystopian fans, YA fans, those who don't mind slightly outdated books
MY RATING: Three out of Five disappointed faces

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review: Burned (has vague spoilers so beware)

Title: Burned
Book 7 in the Fever series
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Published: January 2015
Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Faeries
Premise: Mac deals with all the changes around her as well as her complicated relationship with Barrons
My Review: So it's been about what, two years or so since the last book? A year and a half, at least. During that time, I've come to realize some deep flaws in this series. Which is a downfall that can happen when you have to wait so long for the next book.
This next book....has only honestly furthered some of those flaws. I do not like how this series handles rape at all. I've never liked it. But I swear, it's kind of gotten worse. I also am not terribly fond of what happened with Dani. On one hand, at least now there's not an icky underage thing between her and the guys lusting after her. On the other basically replaced her character with another, so no more Dani. Who was basically my sole reason for hanging on to this series at this point. The fact that it feels like it was basically done so the author could go ahead with the romantic relationship without a squick factor...kind of just adds salt to the wound.
On the other's still entertaining. I still love what Moning does with the mythology. There was a thing at the end that was shocking. But I'm not sure if I'm going to bother with the rest, now that it looks like Dani is basically gone.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the previous books still into it, faerie fans, urban fantasy fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five things happening to favorite characters that I don't care for

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Review: My Life in France

Title: My Life in France
Author: Julia Child
Category: Non-Fiction
Genre: Memoirs
Published: 1996
Premise: Julia Child talks about the years spent with her husband in France where she goes to cooking school and starts to write a cookbook...
My Review: This one is a little strange for me to review because I'm not sure how to rate it. Memoirs like this are going to have a specific set of audience and that audience is likely going to search this out only if they wish too.
So for that audience....this will be a good pick. If you want to know more about Julia Child and how she got her skills and how the book The Art of Mastering French Cooking came to be then this is probably the book for you. If you could care less about France or cooking or have little interest in Julia Child...then you probably wouldn't have picked this book up in the first place, but in case you did, you'll likely still be bored.
As a memoir it's pretty straight forward. Child has all the information organized and her descriptions of food and Paris itself are lovely. It's helped much by photographs that her husband and others have taken. So if you're interested in Julia Child and want to know about this period in her life, it's a good and informative read. If you have no interest...then you probably don't need to bother.
WHO SHOULD READ: Cooks, fans of Julia Child, memoir readers
MY RATING: Four out of Five pans

Monday, May 11, 2015

Reading Through the Classics: I, Robot

Title: I, Robot
Book 1 in a series
Author: Isaac Asimov
Category: Adult/Classic-Modern Classic
Published: 1950
Genre: Science Fiction
Premise: A collection of stories from the future about robots.
Thoughts: I've been meaning to read this one ever since I saw the Will Smith movie years ago. I admit, I have a fondness for the film. If you're going to take a book and not follow the plot at least make a good story out of it, and that film definitely did that. It got all the world stuff right anyway. I actually can kind of see the film as a lost tale of sorts that wasn't in the series.
So yes, the book is very different from the movie. Instead of focusing on one story that's part robot ethics/part mystery, Asimov goes into several stories about robots that is all about things like can robots gain a soul, do we sometimes go too far with technology, etc. It's all very interesting and thought provoking if nothing else. Whether or not there's a probably a matter of opinion. Having read this, I now totally get why they went the route they did with the film, because the book as is would make a hell of a confusing movie. Plus while they changed everything, they still got the basic theme of the book right, which sometimes is more then I can say for some films that follow their book to a T.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the I, Robot film, Isaac Asimov fans, science fiction fans, robot book fans

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Book Review: Pointe

Title: Pointe
Author: Brandy Colbert
Published: 2014
Category: YA
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Premise: A girl's life spirals as a friend who disappeared comes back and secrets from back when he disappeared come to light.
My Review: I picked this one up on a whim because I recall it being talked about a lot last year. It's a heavy book that is pretty frank about things like teenagers having sex and swearing and doing drugs/drinking. So if that's not your probably won't get into it. Personally, I felt some of it was over-the-top, but that's what I tend to feel like a lot when authors try to pile that on in YA books. It literally feels like the author going "look how hip and in the know I am!" at you. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should sugar coat things either. But there should be a balance, you know?
Other then that minor issue, it is a good book mostly. It's heavy book mostly due to the subject matter. This is one of the few times where I feel the story would have benefited more from actually having two points of view. The story stalls a lot in the middle because we don't know what's going on with Donovan. I kind of wish we had gotten his view of things. As it is, we don't. While it still answers a lot of things in the felt a little incomplete and ended quite abruptly. But that's kind of how most of these contemporary books tend to end so there you go.
Whether you like this book or not will probably just come down to a matter of taste and whether or not you're in the mood for such a story or if you like books that tackle serious issues.
WHO SHOULD READ: those in the mood for serious issue books, realistic fiction fans, Speak fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five ballet shoes

Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review: Speak

Title: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: 1999
Category: YA
Genre: Realistic Fiction/drama
Premise: A girl goes to a school that hates her as she tries to get over being raped.
My Review: This is one of those books where whatever I have to say about a book is not really going to impact it much. This has been out for fifteen years now. I think it's fairly close to becoming a modern classic. Give it another five years or so.If you've gone to high school in the last decade or so you might even have read it for school.
I was in high school when this book came out and I don't really remember hearing much about it. I don't think it became what it is now until a year or so later. Honestly, a lot of nineties books in YA happened that way because the YA section was not the YA section back then. It was still rather small and not the powerhouse in sales that it is now so YA books were not pushed like they are now. That's probably why I missed this one (as well as a few other books like Perks of Being a Wallflower). Plus I went to school in the bible belt. My school did abstinence sort of sex-ed, you know they weren't about to let a book about date rape get in their libraries.
So that's how I missed this classic despite being the target audience for it when it came out. Now that I've read it, I'm kind of mad that I missed it. This book is important and should be read by every high schooler, especially boys and people who like to victim blame rape victims. I also am kind of impressed by how not dated it is. This was written fifteen years ago and doesn't feel dated at all. Mostly because the author doesn't go around trying to put in pop culture references or teen slang. Authors, please take notes.
WHO SHOULD READ: Laurie Halse Anderson fans, those that like books about serious subjects, anyone inclined to read it
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five near perfect books

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Julie and Julia

Title: Julie and Julia
Author: Julie Powell
Category: Non-Fiction
Genre: Memoir? I don't know what books about experiments are called.
Published: 2005
Premise: A woman cooks her way through Julia Child's The Art of Mastering French Cooking for a year and blogs about the experience.
My Review: Okay, I recently rewatched the movie that was based on this book and I decided to read the two books Julie and Julia was based on. This is the first one. The other is My Life in France by Julia Child, which shall be reviewed later.
First, if you found Julie in the movie annoying, I'm sorry to say that was the sugar coated version of her. She's much more worse in this book, but personally, I found her ten times more realistic. She's very self-aware and even when she's whiny she's being self-aware. I'm probably in the minority where I actually like book Julie more then movie Julie which had everything work out for her in the end in a neat little bow, whereas in the book, she had no clue what was going to happen next and that was awesome.
Story wise...this book is basically the movie. How much you like it will probably depend on if you liked the movie or like books about cooking in general. Some of Powell's descriptions of the food are what make this book for me mostly. Seriously, she should be a food writer. Is that a thing? If it's a thing, she should do it.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the Julie and Julia movie, cooks/chefs, you like memoirs about experiences
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five eggs

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Review: Vicious

TITLE: Vicious
AUTHOR: V.E. Schwab
GENRE: Urban Fantasy/Superheros
PREMISE: Victor and Eli were best friends who started experimenting with powers. One became a villain, the other became a hero hell bent on destroying everyone with powers.
MY REVIEW: So I've been a fan of Victoria Schwab's for awhile now. Turns out V.E. Schwab is in fact the same person, she just uses her initials for when she does adult fiction. Her adult fiction seems to do better then her YA fiction, which makes me wonder if there is some credit about the idea that people will only look at your fiction if they don't know right off you're a woman. If so...that's sad.
But onto the book. I loved it just as much as the Archived series. It has complicated characters. It does great meta commentary on superheros and good vs evil and you all know how much I dig meta commentary in books.
Personally, I feel the ending left room wide open for a sequel but it seems Schwab has moved on to another series that has finally been getting the buzz she deserves. I can't wait to read it.
WHO SHOULD READ: Darker Shade of Magic fans, Archived fans, comic book fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five masks