Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Favorites of 2016 Part I: Non-2016 Backlist Books

As I have been for the past few years now, I'm breaking up my favorites list, because there were a lot of favorites this year. Here are my favorite books I read this year, that were not published in 2016 in no particular order:

Simon VS The Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli (YA) (Contemporary)
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (Non-Fiction) (Memoir)
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (Non-Fiction) (Humor/Social Commentary)
Illuminae Files series Book 1: The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, (YA) (Sci-Fi)
Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Classic) (mystery)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Middle-Grade) (verse, Historical Fiction)
Embassy Row Book 2: See How They Run by Ally Carter (YA) (Mystery/Adventure)
Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (Non-Fiction) (Memoir) RIP my queen
Love by Numbers Trilogy by Sarah MacLean (Adult) (Historical Romance)
The Naturals Book 3: All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (YA) (Mystery/Paranormalish)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Classic) (Historical Fiction)
Magnus Chase Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (YA/Middle-Grade) (Fantasy)
Thursday Next Books 4-7 by Jasper Fforde (Adult) (Fantasy/Steampunk) Now I'm stuck waiting for the next book like everyone else...
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (Classic/YA) (Contemporary)
Discworld series: Wyrd Sisters, Sorcery, Pyramids, Eric by Terry Pratchett (Adult) (Fantasy)
The Others series Books 2-4 by Anne Bishop (Adult) (Urban Fantasy)
Flavia de Luce Books 2-5 by Alan Bradley (sold as adult, I say it's Middle-Grade) (Historical Mystery)
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Non-Fiction) (Essay)
Cormoran Strike 3: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling (Adult) (Mystery)
To All The Boys I Loved Before Books 1 and 2 by Jenny Han (YA) (Contemporary)
Star Wars: Lost Stars and Bloodline by Claudia Gray-Let Claudia Gray write all the Star Wars books!
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (Non-Fiction) (Biography)
The Diviners Book 2: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (YA) (Historical Fantasy) Pines for the next book yet again...
Willful Machines by Tim Floreen (YA) (Dystopian/Sci-Fi)
Lunar Chronicles Book 4: Winter by Marissa Meyer (YA) (Retellings/Sci-Fi)
Kate Daniels series Books 7 and 8 by Ilona Andrews (Adult) (Urban Fantasy)
Young Elites Book 2: The Rose Society by Marie Lu (YA) (Fantasy)

Part II (2016 standalones) will be up tomorrow.

Book Review: Kate Daniels series books 7-9

TITLE: Kate Daniels series
Book 7: Magic Breaks
Book 8: Magic Shifts
Book 9: Magic Binds
AUTHOR: Ilona Andrews
PUBLISHED: 2014, 2015, 2016
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Kate continues her relationship with Curran despite things such as the return of her father.
MY REVIEW: So the past year or so, I've been playing catch up with the Kate Daniels series. There was no particular reason I stopped keeping up with it. Things just sort of happened that way. Too many books on the TBR list.
But this past year, I've been catching up on series, and this is one of the series I was determined to catch up on and I'm so happy I did. Because, wow, have things gone down in these past few books. I can't help but compare this series to Mercy Thompson, where after her getting together with Adam, things have gotten boring. That is not so in the Kate Daniels series. Things are still happening, and Kate's character continues to develop beautifully. Thank you authors for remembering that character development doesn't just magically stop when people get together. So many long series tend to forget that little detail.
If you have read the first few Kate Daniels books, absolutely continue the series. Even if you've gotten to Curran and Kate getting together. I promise, the fun doesn't just stop because they're together now. The chemistry is still there, and plot is still there. I can't wait for the next book as always.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read the rest of the Kate Daniels books, Mercy Thompson series fans, Urban Fantasy series fans
MY RATING (for series): Four out of Five bad-ass women leads

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Book Review: You Can't Touch My Hair (and Other Things I Still Have to Explain)

TITLE: You Can't Touch My Hair (and Other Things I Still Have to Explain)
AUTHOR: Phoebe Robinson
PUBLISHED: October 4rth, 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoir/Essays
PREMISE: Comedian Phoebe Robinson talks about a variety of subjects from feminism, to black girls hair, to race relations and back again.
MY REVIEW: I confess, I'm not terribly familiar with Phoebe Robinson. I've listened to a podcast or two of her and Jessica Williams (whom I'm more familiar with, being a Daily Show junkie) show but that's about it. After this, I may have to rectify that, because Phoebe Robinson is frankly hilarious.
If you are a white person who gets terribly offended when people rightly criticize us for the nonsense we do, this probably won't be your book. Robinson does not sugar coat things. She calls out stuff that needs to be called out. There's a great explanation in here about micro-aggressions, that everyone should read. But it's not all seriousness. There's a lot of hilarious bits in here, including a beautiful (and now sad, considering the election results) chapter written the future first female president.
If like me, you have gotten hooked on memoirs/or essays by lady celebrities, this is a great one to pick up for when you want something that will both make you think and make you laugh at the same time.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the 2 Dope Queens podcast, celebrity memoir book fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five on point jokes

Friday, December 23, 2016

Book Review: Stars Above

TITLE: Stars Above
Book 4.5/companion book in the Lunar Chronicles series
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
PUBLISHED: February 2016
PREMISE: A collection of short stories taking place in the Lunar Chronicles series.
MY REVIEW: Short story add ons to series seems to have become a thing in YA. When it comes to a series like Lunar Chronicles, I don't particularly mind it. Especially if it's a wide variety of stories such as this collection.
Some of these I have read before as they were released with previous Lunar books. But some were new. Most, didn't really add anything revealing, except for maybe the one with Scarlet's grandmother. We learn about her grandfather's identity and some more about what Scarlet's childhood was like. Others were just nice supplied info.
If you are a die-hard Lunar Chronicles fan who is going through withdrawal from the series, this is a nice way to live in the world a bit longer. It's also a nice holdover for if you're waiting for Meyer's next series which apparently is dealing with superheros. To which I say, hell yes.
WHO SHOULD READ: Lunar Chronicles fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five happy endings

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review: Homegoing

TITLE: Homegoing
AUTHOR: Yaa Gyasi
PUBLISHED: June 7th, 2016
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Family drama
PREMISE: A sweeping family saga that follows the ancestors of two half-sisters who wound up in very different circumstances...
MY REVIEW: This novel has been all over the place this year in the literature circuit and there is a good reason for that: the writing is just damn good. The fact that this is the author's first book is mind-blowing to me and makes me eager for what we have in store for her future books.
This is not really an action-packed book. It is mostly a character study and a look at how our ancestors lives and history of the world effects where we end up. It does have multiple points of views so if that is an annoying thing, this might not be for you. It also does not shy away from things like abuse, racism, and so on. So it's not really what I'd call a happy book.
But it is a very thought-provoking book. The only issue I really have with this is sometimes I wanted to spend more time with some of the characters and then we were off to the next ancestor. I understand why it was done that way though. The prose are still gorgeous and it all ties up beautifully. If this is Gyasi's debut book, we are in for some damn good books from her in the coming years.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of family saga type books, fans of Roots
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five gorgeous writing prose

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Book Review: My Lady Jane

TITLE: My Lady Jane
AUTHOR: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
PUBLISHED: June 7th, 2016
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: A humorous alternate history retelling of Lady Jane Grey's time as queen.
MY REVIEW: I'll be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first of this book. Lady Jane Grey, for those who don't know, had a very sad ending in her life. I wasn't sure how one could make a humorous story out of that. I should learn to trust YA authors more. They managed it.
This book mostly works for me due to its tone. The premise is silly and the tone owns that. In the beginning the narration point blank says hey, we're screwing with history here. The humor is very Discworld-Gail Carriger like and that made very enjoyable.
If you're looking for a serious historical fiction book, this is not going to be your book. But, if you like hilarious takes on history with badass females in it...I highly recommend this one. It looks like this one is a stand alone, but apparently the authors are working on another book like this about the Bronte sisters. I can't wait.
WHO SHOULD READ: Discworld fans, humor book fans, parody fans, historical fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five shapeshifting royals

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Review: United

TITLE: United
Book 3 in the Alienated Trilogy
AUTHOR: Melissa Landers
PUBLISHED: August 2nd, 2016
GENRE: Science Fiction
PREMISE: Cara and Aelyx are finally together on a far away colony only to be forced apart once again by an invading alien force saying an alliance between humans and L'eihr is too dangerous to be continued...
MY REVIEW: I'll be honest, I was a little surprised when I heard there was going to be a third book in this series. I was under the impression the story was done and was happy with the way things ended. But...I'm a completionist, so I read this anyway.
As I was pretty much unnecessary. Then there's something that happens in the end that cheapens a big thing from book 2 so much that I kind of wish this book hadn't happened. But it did. So here we are.
I'm torn on this one because I personally didn't like it very much and just wondered why it was needed. But I also realize that some people like really happy endings and wanted more from the series. So if that is you, go ahead and read this. If you're like me and was satisfied with the ending from book 2...I'd stick with that ending.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first two books, romance fans
MY RATING: Three out of Five was not needed feelings
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Four out of Five

Monday, December 19, 2016

Book Review: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

TITLE: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
AUTHOR: Ruth Franklin
PUBLISHED: September 27th, 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Biography
PREMISE: A biography on the life of author Shirley Jackson.
MY REVIEW: Okay, confession time: I've actually never read any Shirley Jackson. Yeah yeah, I know. Shame on me. She's on the list, really. I hope to maybe get to her next year. This book motivated me to get to her sooner, rather then later.
Because this was a very interesting look into a very complicated woman. I had to skim parts because the author assumes you've read all or most of her books (this is a fair assumption, I'm not faulting the author for that) and I didn't want to be spoiled for things. But the parts I didn't have to skim were fascinating.
This is thoroughly researched and well organized. Like most biographies, it went into details that weren't terribly necessary, but did give an overall picture of her life. As far as biographies go, this was a really good one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Shirley Jackson fans, biography fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five troubled authors

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Reading Through the Classics: The Picture of Dorian Gray

TITLE: The Picture of Dorian Gray
AUTHOR: Oscar Wilde
GENRE: Paranormalish
PREMISE: A narcissistic young man has a portrait painted of him....
MY THOUGHTS: You know that image a lot of students have of classics? Where they're stuffy and boring? Now, I personally don't agree. Not all classics are the same. But this one here...could honestly qualify for that classics are boring image. Because wow, was it dull. Even with the murders going on, it was dull.
Part of my issue is that it is very dialogue heavy. A majority of the book is Dorian chatting with either Henry or Basil. Usually one or all three of them are being sexist douches during this dialogue. Yeah, yeah, I know, sexism was common during Wilde's time. I don't care. Doesn't make the rampant misogyny in this book okay. As for the LGBT mentions in it...there was subtext. I guess. Though I personally felt like the subtext was more on Basil's part then on Dorian. The stuff with the portrait doesn't start until halfway through the book, I guarantee you by then you will probably want to punch all of these characters in the face.
Yes, I got the social commentary. We'll have to agree to disagree on the writing. Because Wilde literally would spend a whole chapter on something that could have been summarized in a paragraph. I guess that's what happens when you pay authors by the word. This book isn't really a difficult read. It's pretty straightforward. It's just...very dull and at times very aggravating. I am going to try and read The Importance of Being Earnest at some point, but other then that...I think Wilde and I are going to have to part ways.
WHO SHOULD READ: Classic buffs, fans of the horror/paranormal classic canon, Oscar Wilde fans

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Book Review: If I Was Your Girl

TITLE: If I Was Your Girl
AUTHOR: Meredith Russo
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQA
PREMISE: A girl moves to a new town hoping for a fresh start and that no one finds out her secret: that her name used to be Andrew.
MY REVIEW: I'll be up front with you: this review has lots of bias because I frankly adored this book. Have I mentioned how happy I am that we're getting more happy ending LGBT books? Because I am really happy about this. Not to say we don't need things like The Miseducation of Cameron Post or whatnot, but I think books like this or Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda or You Know Me Well are needed as well.
This is basically like a lot of contemporary romances, it's cute, it's sometimes very angsty, and there's a lesson to be learned in it about yourself somewhere. It's a very quick read. I actually read it in one sitting. There's heart along with the cuteness and it just made me smile.
Is it a tad idealistic? Perhaps. No more idealistic then a lot of contemporary YA romance books are though. It's a feel good book and I personally am all for more feel good books with LGBTQA representation.
WHO SHOULD READ: those looking for LGBTQA books, Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda fans, You Know Me Well fans, contemporary romance fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five happy sighs

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

TITLE: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Part of the Harry Potter series
AUTHOR: JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
PUBLISHED: July 2016
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Harry Potter's son deals with his father's legacy as the past comes back to haunt everyone.
MY REVIEW: I'm a little late to the game in reading this one. I wanted to put off reading it because I've found reading a huge book release such as this tends to come with baggage. It's usually best for me to wait a few months where I don't have everyone's opinion rattling in my head and distorting my opinion of it.
My opinion is this: fandom overreacted as fandom tends to do. By the way I think they overreacted on both sides. It is not the crap pile that I've seen a lot of fans claim. Nor is it the brilliant story I've seen die-hards say it is.'s just okay. It really helps if you don't look at this as the eighth Harry Potter book. The publishers kicked themselves in the foot by advertising it that way. To me...this is fanfic, plain and simple. I get the feeling Rowling didn't actually write much of it. I'm sure she gave the basis for it, and there are some sparkling moments of dialogue that I can tell she definitely wrote. But I suspect most of it was written by Tiffany and Thorne. It just doesn't have Rowling's typical flare. I especially think this after seeing Fantastic Beasts, which was great, and very clearly written by her.
With that in mind...I don't really consider this an actual part of the Harry Potter series. So I'm not terribly offended by it. It's just something that's there. If you want to read it you totally can, but if you just want to stick the books, you're honestly not missing much really.
WHO SHOULD READ: Harry Potter fans who don't have strong opinions about character's futures
MY RATING: Three out of Five shrugs

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Thematic Sunday: January/February 2017 Books to movies/TV list

As is the case every year, 2017 brings a lot of adaptations to the big and small screen. If you're one who likes to keep up on such things, here are some from January and February to get a head start on.


The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

To start us off, Sherlock finally comes back on BBC (PBS in the States) on January 1rst. It is apparently the final season so buckle in folks.

The Oz series by Frank L. Baum

On January 6th, NBC brings us a trippy retelling of the Wizard of Oz series that rather reminds me of Tin Man. We'll see how this one goes.

The Amityville Horror: A True Story by Jay Anson

January 6th brings yet another Amityville horror movie. Technically this book is not the movie in question, but the original Amityville movie's source material is this old 1977 horror book.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Technically this movie comes out on Christmas, but it's not getting a wide release until January 13th. So many people won't get to see it until then. To tide you over, check out the recently released nonfiction book that inspired the movie.

A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket

On Netflix, January 6th, A Series of Unfortunate Events fans will finally get an adaptation they deserve as a TV show. Also, I'm going to be reading through this series in 2017. Because uh...I've never read it. ;ducks head;

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

On January 28th, a movie based on this series of books about a dog searching for his purpose over the course of several lives releases.

Afterlife With Archie series/or Archie series

On January 26th, CW launches a new TV show based around the Archie franchise. From the trailer I suspect they're going the Afterlife with Archie route. Which would be in tune with CWs genre friendly bent. If you're not interested in supernatural Archie, there's the regular Archie comics as well as Jughead and the Betty and Veronica series. All of the new Archie comics are pretty damn solid. I recommend all of them.

In February:

X-Men: Legion Quest

On February 8th, FX starts a new show centered around X-Men Legion. From the looks of it, it takes several liberties as these comic book shows often do. But still, a good excuse to check out some old X-Men comics.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

On February 19th, HBO premieres a mini-series based on this 2014 best seller.

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

On February 24rth, this historical fiction novel comes to the big screen.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Book Review: The Queen of Blood

TITLE: The Queen of Blood
Book 1 in the Queens of Renthia series
AUTHOR: Sarah Beth Durst
PUBLISHED: September 20th, 2016
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: In a world where demons run wild and destroy human life, a girl competes to be the next queen: the one person who can control the demons.
MY REVIEW: I have long been a fan of Sarah Beth Durst. She always has interesting ideas and takes familiar tropes and turns them on their head. When I heard she was doing a fantasy series I was through the roof.
Durst did not disappoint. We get a interesting world with equally interesting characters. I don't know why people keep trying to say this is YA because it's really not. It's adult. There is a time where one of the main characters is a teenager, yes. But a majority of the book is centered around adults and deals with very adult themes. I suppose there is some crossover appeal, but considering the sex scenes and sometimes gory violence...yeah it's adult.
I personally loved this one. It was unique and interesting as always with Sarah Beth Durst. I can't wait to see the rest of this series.
WHO SHOULD READ: Sarah Beth Durst fans, Game of Thrones fans, Queen of the Tearling fans, adult fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five demons wreaking havoc

Friday, December 9, 2016

Book Review: The Amateurs

TITLE: The Amateurs
Book 1 in a new trilogy
AUTHOR: Sara Shepard
PUBLISHED: November 1rst, 2016
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A group of amateur detectives meet up on a website and take on a cold case involving a teenage girl who disappeared.
MY REVIEW: Oh Sara Shepard, why can't I quit you? I'm the first to admit your books are cheesy. You also over do it with the red herrings. Also, can you please stop with the gross normalization of older men hooking up with teenage girls? Honestly, there's so much in your books that irk me. Yet...this is the third series I've tried of yours.
If you've read Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game series, you pretty much are prepared for The Amateurs. It's very much in the same vein. It even comes complete with aggravating characters. But damn if Shepard doesn't know how to spin a good mystery and keep up the suspense to keep you turning the pages.
So I don't know guys. This book has all the same issues PLL and the Lying Game has. Yet, like those's damn addicting. I'm giving this book three stars...but we all know I'm probably going to be here for the next book as well.
WHO SHOULD READ: PLL/The Lying Game fans, mystery fans, Shondaland fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five so ridiculous it's good books

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book Review: Where Am I Now?

TITLE: Where Am I Now?
AUTHOR: Mara Wilson
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: September 13th, 2016
GENRE: Memoirs
PREMISE: Mara Wilson (best known for Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire) reflects on her childhood years and shares stories from her time growing up as a child star.
MY REVIEW: Show of hands, who watched Matilda as a kid? If you didn't see that, perhaps you saw Mrs. Doubtfire? You probably have seen at least one of those two. Or the Miracle on 34rth Street remake. Mara Wilson has been popping up again, mostly writing wise. I've enjoyed several articles she's written, and her twitter feed is basically the best. So I was pretty pumped to read this when I first heard it was coming.
As far as celebrity memoirs go, this one is pretty typical. There's fun stories, you learn some behind the scenes things you maybe didn't know before, and it's pretty fast-paced. Wilson has a fun writing style and is very honest about things. There are two stand out parts for me: a letter she wrote about Matilda and her relationship with the character and a part that is in fact a blog post she wrote about remembering Robin Williams.
I enjoyed this one a lot. I hope we see more books/any kind of writing from Mara Wilson in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Matilda fans, Mara Wilson fans, fans of celebrity memoirs
MY RATING: Four out of Five child stars grown up

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Thematic Sunday: Holiday Seasonal Reads

So the holiday season (or hell as us retailers sometimes call it) is officially upon us. Here are some snowy reads to pick up to get you in the festive mood:

1) Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

This is exactly what it sounds like. Three cute contemporary romances set around the holidays. This is set to become a movie in late 2017, so good time to read it.

2) My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

If the above book puts you in the mood for more cute romances, definitely pick this one up.

3) Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

In a rare departure from his lawyer books, Grisham offers a hilarious tale about a couple who tries to skip Christmas, only for it to backfire.

4) Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

While not only about Christmas, this short story collection offers some hilarious tales such as Sedaris' time as a Macy's store elf.

 5)A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

Yes, the famous movie classic is based on a book.

6) The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford

Instead of recommending A Christmas Carol, which lets face it, is an obvious choice, I'm going to point you to this book about the publication process for the holiday classic.

7) The Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffmann and Alexandre Dumas

Fan of the Nutcracker ballet? Check out this edition that includes Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker which inspired said ballet.

8) The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by Frank L. Baum

Another good classic to look into is this one by the author of The Wizard of Oz. For more classics, check out all of the Penguin Christmas classics collection. As a bonus, they're really pretty books.

9) Shiver Trilogy Book 1: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

If you want something wintery, but not necessarily Christmas (not everyone celebrates it!) I recommend this oldy from Stiefvater. It's full of snow scenes.

10) The Ex-Games by Jennifer Echols

Another wintery-but-not-Christmas book to look into is this cute little romance from the Simon Pulse teen romance collection.

I did try to find some Hanukkah/Kwanzaa themed books guys, but...other then some cute picture books, there don't seem to be any. Publishing industry: do better.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Book Review: This Savage Song

TITLE: This Savage Song
Monsters of Verity Book 1
AUTHOR: Victoria Schwab
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: In a world where violence creates monsters, two new kids start school: one is the daughter of a mobster for one side of the city, the other is a monster hidden for a leader of the other side of the city.
MY REVIEW: May I just say I love that Victoria Schwab is finally getting her due? Ever since I first read Near Witch...gosh a few years ago now...I had a feeling she was going to take off as an author and after reading The Archived I really wanted it to happen. Now, it looks like it's finally happening and I'm just so thrilled because I adore her stuff. I have yet to read a bad book by her.
What I really love is just how all different her books are. They usually are always fantasy oriented, but the fantasy is all different and so interesting. This latest new book is no exception. I love how she's not afraid to do complicated characters, including female ones and manages to have books with little to no romance in them. This includes her YA books. Yes, I know, YA without romance! Who knew? Also, she doesn't dumb down her YA books. Some authors who write in both categories I've noticed tend to tone things down for the YA crowd. Schwab, does not, and I appreciate that so much. This book is just as dark as Vicious or her Shades of Magic trilogy.
If you are a Victoria Schwab fan, whether you're familiar with her YA books or adult books, absolutely pick this up. It's just as good as her previous offerings.
WHO SHOULD READ: Victoria/V.E. Schwab fans, dark fantasy fans, Neil Gaiman fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five man made monsters

Friday, December 2, 2016

Book Review: A Torch Against the Night

TITLE: A Torch Against the Night
Book 2 in the Ember in the Ashes series
AUTHOR: Sabaa Tahir
PUBLISHED: August 30th, 2016
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Elias and Laia are now on the run with Helene close at their heels on Marcus's orders...
MY REVIEW: So...I honestly don't remember Ember in the Ashes all that much. I remember liking it well enough (but apparently not as much as other people did, as these things go) but like actual details...I remember there being fighting. Luckily A Torch Against the night did some recapping so that jogged my memory. I don't think this is a mark against the book or anything. I was reading quite a bit at that time. It's a miracle I remember half of it.
This one is mostly like the first one for me: it's a lot of action. There's always something happening. I finished it in less then two days. There were some twists that were interesting but this was for the most part very much a second book in a series. It was mostly building towards getting to the third book. Of all the things, I found Helene's story the most interesting. In times I found myself wishing the book was only about her, because she was more interesting to me then Elias and Laia.
This was a very good sequel. It got the job done. I don't particularly think this series is that groundbreaking like people seem too, but it is definitely entertaining. If you want a fast-paced fantasy-adventure, this series is worth a shot.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Ember in the Ashes, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five people on the run

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Review: Gemina

TITLE: Gemina
Book 2 in the Illuminae Files Trilogy
AUTHOR: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
PUBLISHED: October 2016
PREMISE: Hanna is a spaceship captain's daughter when her ship is attacked and is forced to work with Nik, a rather shady guy to take down the group.
MY REVIEW: I got to the Illuminae Files earlier this year and enjoyed it quite a bit. It's a bit of a trope-filled series, but it's a fun trope-filled series and the way it's told is great. I'll be honest, I actually like this second book a whole lot more then the first. Not the first was bad, it really wasn't. I just didn't get enamored with anyone there like I did with the characters here.
This book takes place in the same universe as Illuminae but on another spaceship and deals with brand new characters. My favorite of the new ones is Hanna. As in the other book there are a bunch of files, message conversations, and even journal entries to go through. The story flows more for me for some reason. I still have no idea how they'll manage to do a movie of this though (assuming they ever do it. The road to Hollywood is paved with YA movies stuck in development hell ;forever bitter about my Charlotte Doyle movie;).
As a sequel, this book does its work. The ending has me really eager for the next one. Also, I need to check out Jay Kristoff's stuff I think. I've been meaning too for awhile now. Just never got around to it.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Illuminae Files, Across the Universe book series fans, sci-fi fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five hilarious message board conversations

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review: The Crimson Skew

TITLE: The Crimson Skew
Mapmaker's Trilogy Book 3
AUTHOR: S. E. Grove
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade
GENRE: Alternate History/Fantasy
PREMISE: Sophia and Theo continue their journey with Theo fighting in an army and Sophia trying to discover what happened to her parents...
MY REVIEW: I will always have mixed feelings when it comes to this trilogy I think and this book is no exception. As with the first two, the world-building is fantastic. I adore S.E. Grove's imagination and the ways she plays with history. I even enjoy things like lack of forced love interests and whatnot.
Unfortunately...the characters are kind of stock characters and the story mostly just adventure so I don't really feel any huge connection to them. I like what I read when I read it, but it's not like say, my love for the Harry Potter or Raven Boys characters.
If you loved the first two books, you'll probably love this one. It ties everything together very nicely and is more of the same. Overall this is a satisfying trilogy. It's just not what I would call a must-read series unless you're a serious world-building nerd like I am.
WHO SHOULD READ: alternate history fans, His Dark Materials fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five maps
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Three and a half out of Five

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Book Series Review: Love by Numbers

TITLE OF SERIES: Love by Numbers
Book 1: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
Book 2: Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord
Book 3: Eleven Scandals to Start To Win a Duke's Heart
AUTHOR: Sarah MacLean
YEARS PUBLISHED: 2010 to 2011
GENRE: Historical Romance
PREMISE: Romances of three siblings in Regency London
MY REVIEW: I have spent the past year reading through romances. Most I haven't really reviewed because there isn't that much to say about them. Either they were fun and business as usual, or they were bad and I wound up ditching them. As in most genres the Romance category has its good books and its bad books. This series was the first one I started for my romance focus and it has by far been my favorite. The romances are fun and not anger inducing as some of the category romances can get. The sex scenes are actually hot. I also love the fun way MacLean writes her books. If you want a series that is bound to convert someone over to category romance, this is a good one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical Romance fans, Romance fans, Jane Austen fans
RATING FOR SERIES: Four out of Five scandalous romances

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Raging Sea

TITLE: Raging Sea
Book 2 in the Undertow series
AUTHOR: Michael Buckley
PUBLISHED: February 2nd, 2016
GENRE: Sci-Fi/Dystopian
PREMISE: Lyric and her friends go on the run from the aliens who invaded Earth...
MY REVIEW: Here's the thing about the Undertow series: it's readable. It's just...very generic. In fact, I actually forgot most of the first book. Luckily the author recaps a lot of it in the sequel so that jogged my memory. I do remember liking it...I think? It just doesn't compare to my love of Buckley's other series, Sister's Grimm.
This book...honestly continues the genericness of the first book. It's very much business as usual as far as sequels go. The author does try to twist it a bit. Though it's almost as if he knows he's twisting it because sometimes it felt like he was commenting on common tropes. Sometimes this can work, sometimes not. This's okay but sometimes felt like the author was going "look how clever I'm being!"
As a sequel this does its job. It's perfectly competent. It's just not what I call a knock it out of the park book. Or even a knock it out of the park series. It's good enough that I'll probably continue to the end.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of the first book, fans of alien invasion books, Fifth Wave fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five alien invasions

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thematic Sunday: Gilmore Girls Revival Reading List

This is not a very imaginative list of me, but I've been binging the new Gilmore Girls like every other fan of the show this weekend. I'm completely finished so if you wish to gush with me, feel free to do so. As with the original show, books feature a lot. Some were already on the original Rory Gilmore challenge (that I'm still making my way through), so I'm going with books that aren't on the previous list.

1) Mark Renton 1: Skagboys by Irvine Welsh

Okay, the show references Trainspotting, but that's actually the second book in this series.

2) Coming Into the Country by John McPhee

There's only a mention of the author on the show. This book is probably his best known one of you're curious.

3) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

There's a big scene that is based around this non-fiction book about getting organized.

4) Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace

Consider the Lobster is referenced at one point.

5) Prometheus Bound and Other Plays by Aeschylus

The greek writer is referenced in a joke at some point. Here's a good selection of his work.

6) Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Another major moment is heavily inspired by this book.

7) Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Stories by Sholem Aleichem

This classic Jewish writer was referenced at one point. I'll let you all guess who referenced it.

8) Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth

This classic poet is referenced at one point. Here's a good book to get a beginners look at his work.

9) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings

Again, a specific book was not mentioned, but this author was mentioned in a conversation.

10) I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

There's a good joke at one point referencing this book.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Review: With Malice

TITLE: With Malice
AUTHOR: Eileen Cook
PUBLISHED: June 7th, 2016
GENRE: Mystery/Thriller
PREMISE: A girl wakes up with no memory and learns she was in an accident that killed her best friend, and learns the accident may have been deliberate...
MY REVIEW: I've been hesitant to pick this one up because it kept getting compared to Gone Girl or Girl on a Train, both books I wasn't wild about. Publishers, might I suggest you all stop doing this? Because calling your book the next ;insert super popular title here; tends to come with a lot of baggage.
Luckily, I wound up enjoying this one much more then I enjoyed the two books it got compared too. The writing is smoother, the pacing is better, and the twists...are actually rather good. If you have to do thrillers, at least make them as entertaining as this one was. The twist at the end...I'm not sure if I like it or not. But it is an interesting ending if nothing else.
So if you're looking for a fast-paced YA thriller read, this is a pretty decent read. If you want a summery feeling in this (finally) cold weather, this is a good pick.
WHO SHOULD READ: Thriller fans, Gone Girl fans, Pretty Little Liars fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five hmm kind of endings