Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review: Why Not Me?

TITLE: Why Not Me?
AUTHOR: Mindy Kaling
PUBLISHED: September 2015
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoirs/Humor
PREMISE: Actress Mindy Kaling talks about what she's been up too since her last book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and other various topics about what her life is like now that she has had her own show.
MY REVIEW: I was a little late to the game and only read Mindy Kaling's first book a few months ago. I enjoyed it quite a bit and thus have been waiting for her second to come out.
For those that have read her first book, Why Not Me? is basically more of the same. She just talks about different subjects. She talks a little about getting the idea for The Mindy Project. She talks about what life is like for her now. There is some various social commentary on Hollywood itself. It's all done in Mindy's style of humor.
If you loved her first book, chances are you'll like this one as well. It's just as funny and interesting as the first one.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mindy Kaling fans, fans of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
MY RATING: Four out of Five hilarious women

Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Review: Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda

TITLE: Simon VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda
AUTHOR: Becky Albertalli
PUBLISHED: April 2015
GENRE: Realistic Fiction, Romance, LGBT
PREMISE: Simon has been in the closet for awhile now and is fine with that, then he gets blackmailed by a fellow student who threatens to out him if he doesn't do what the student wants him to do.
MY REVIEW: I adored this book with every fiber of my being. I'm honestly hard pressed to find something I didn't like about it. Really the only nay saying thing I can say is that story's probably not very ground breaking. As far as LGBT books go, this is actually very light stuff. But...that's kind of why I liked it.
Look, I love things like Aristotle and Dante and I've heard fantastic things about The Miseducation of Cameron Post (that's on my list of things to finally get too this year actually). I'm not saying there shouldn't be more books like that. But sometimes I just want an LGBT romance that is just cute and that pretty much is what this book is. There is some seriousness in there about how forcing people out of the closet is not cool. That is an important issue. But mostly this was just a cute romance that I honestly want to see more of. Give me all the LGBT meet-cutes in YA. Straight couples get a bunch of them, LGBT couples should as well.
This is just one of those books that puts a smile on your face, even as the character is pining and there's the usual angst that comes with YA. It's just a very likable and very readable book. If books like this become a trend in YA, I don't mind one bit.
WHO SHOULD READ: those looking for lighter LGBT reads, romance fans, realistic fiction fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five adorable characters to root for

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Where to Start: YA/MG Historical Fiction

Now I'm going to move onto historical fiction. For the sake of this list, historical fiction means basically any book that takes place in the past. I tend to have the cut off time period be the eighties for historical fiction. FYI, if it was written in a historical time period, I don't count it as historical fiction that much. For example, Sherlock Holmes was not considered historical fiction when it was written. Therefore, I'm not counting it as historical fiction. I am not counting historical fiction that blends over into fantasy-like areas. There will be separate lists for that (which will likely be quite long because I adore historical fantasy).
This list is just going to be young adult and some middle-grade historical fiction. The next where to start will have the adult historical fiction on it.

Some staples of the genre you should probably read first:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (note: this and TKAM are usually sold in the adult sections but the main characters are tween age so sorry lit crowd, it counts as MG as well)

Some popular books in the genre:
The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen (she also has a few other historical ones out there)
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (also check out Fever 1793)
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
Bloody Jack series by L. A. Meyer
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Some personal recommendations:
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (as well as the two companion books)
Princesses of Myth series by Esther Friesner
Logan Family series by Mildred B. Taylor

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: Modern Romance

TITLE: Modern Romance
AUTHOR: Aziz Ansari
PUBLISHED: June 2015
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Social Commentary, Humor
PREMISE: Comedian Aziz Ansari conducts some research into what romance is like in the days of technology.
MY REVIEW: This book is really interesting. You're probably going to see me say that a lot in this review. Because that's mostly what it boils down too. It's just a plain interesting subject. How has modern technology effected the way we romance? The answer is...a lot.
I love the way Ansari went about his research. He talked to a wide variety of people and cultures. He did not just go into what romance is like in the US. He looked into dating in Japan and various other countries as well. He asked older couples how they went about romance and found some interesting comparisons between that and how we date today. He also remembered not everyone is straight and looked into romance in the LGBT communities.
It's just all very interesting. Being a comedian, he finds lots of humor in the situations so it is a funny book as well as a social commentary book. I appreciate that for once, a book on this sort of subject didn't despair of how technology is ruining the youths. It never tried to lead you to any sort of feeling about the subject either. It basically just presented you with the information and let you come to your own conclusions about the subject. It's a very fascinating book. If you're interested in subjects like this, I definitely recommend giving it a look.
WHO SHOULD READ: people interested in the subject matter, Aziz Ansari fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting subjects

Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review: The Golden Specific

TITLE: The Golden Specific
Book 2 in the Mapmaker's Trilogy
AUTHOR: S. E. Grove
PUBLISHED: July 2015
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade/Young Adult (crossover kind of series to be honest)
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: Sophia and Theo's adventures continue as she starts searching for clues about her parents and Theo gets apprenticed to an explorer.
MY REVIEW: Honestly...I don't have much to say about this one. Which is disappointing because I really liked the first book a lot. This book wasn't bad or anything it was just very much a middle book of a sequel and fell into all the traps that middle books can often fall into.
It stalled a lot for one thing. I think a lot of this could have been edited out easily and we wouldn't have lost anything. Most of the plot was just exposition. Illuminating exposition. We got a lot more details about this world. But exposition nonetheless and thus, the book felt like it was dragging a lot.
It's still a good series. It's just that this one stalled a lot and felt overly long to me. I still do love the author's imagination and attention to detail when it comes to this world though. Such fantastic world building.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, alternative history fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Recently Added To My TBR List

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

This week's topic: Top Ten Books Recently Added to the TBR List (To Be Read for those that don't know)
Now, full disclosure: My TBR list is over seven hundred books long. Yes, I'm one of those that wants to read all of the things. My list reflects that. So...this list is random, it made sense when I added them, I swear.

1) The Naturals Book 3: All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

One of the many books of 2015 I did not get too. I love this series that is basically a YA Criminal Minds, if the crew on Criminal Minds had paranormal powers.

2) Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Like many people, I've become obsessed with the Hamilton musical. The soundtrack is on Spotify if you want to give it a listen. I plan on reading this at some point. Possibly before the Tony Awards because I know that musical better win some Tonys. The Tonys doesn't have as much of a race problem as the Oscars does so there's actually a good chance.

3) The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith

How did I not know that the First Wives Club was based on a book?! I love that movie.

4) Classics For Pleasure by Michael Dirda

Essays about classics. I've been in an essay sort of mood lately and I love reading commentary on classics. The only downside is, I have no doubt this will just add books to my TBR list.

5) Theodosia Book 1: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

Did you know the author of the awesome His Fair Assassin Trilogy wrote middle-grade fiction? Neither did I. It's just under R. L. LaFevers instead of Robin LaFevers and it looks awesome. This series has museums, old artifacts, mysteries, and secret societies. I'm sold.

6) Temeraire series Book 1: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

I recently read Uprooted and loved the hell out of it. This series went immediately on the list after I finished it.

7) The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

With all the superhero stuff coming out this year, I think it's high time I read the classic that is in a way the precursor to the superhero.

8) The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Another 2015 title I missed. Which is odd because I actually love Nova Ren Suma's stuff. She's such an underrated author.

9) Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

This was recently made into a movie that is getting a lot of Oscar buzz. Hence the add on to the list.

10) Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

I've been reading through the Grimms Complete Fairy Tales and it's put me in a fairy tale retelling mode. Though I'm honestly usually always up for a fairy tale retelling so this is nothing new.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review: Go Set a Watchman

TITLE: Go Set a Watchman
Sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird
AUTHOR: Harper Lee
PUBLISHED: July 2015
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: An adult Scout comes back home to Maycomb for a visit.
MY REVIEW: The first book I finished in 2016 was a much hyped book from last year. This is one of those books that has a lot of noise around it. That is, there are many issues involved. First, it has the baggage of being a sequel to a much beloved book. So that means many high and probably absurd expectations. Second, there was the way it got published. For those who don't know, there are some issues about whether or not this book should have been published in the first place because some feel Harper Lee herself didn't want it published. This is why I checked it out of the library, because honestly...there was no satisfying conclusion for me about whether or not Lee actually gave her permission for this to be published. I don't want to give money to shady publishing deals. Then there was just the outrage some people had over some things that happened in it. Namely, that it was revealed that Atticus was not quite the upstanding guy that people have made him out to be all these years.
When one clears away all the noise surrounding this book what you have is...honestly a pretty average book. You've probably heard all the negative reviews and honestly...a lot of those reviews are unfair. I feel a lot of them were mostly just people not being comfortable with some of the hard truths that this book confronted. Like the fact that no, Atticus was not perfect. He was just as racist as the other white guys in his era. Just because he did not treat black people like dirt, doesn't mean he wasn't also racist.
Me, I'm somewhere in the middle about this book. I like the things it talked about, more then the actual book itself, if that makes sense. It needed a LOT of editing. I can definitely tell this was a rush publishing job. Which furthers my opinion that the way this got published was more then a little shady. Story wise, it's kind of average. I will say I don't think this ruins To Kill a Mockingbird in any way. Maybe it makes you think about the book differently. But I don't think being forced to look hard at your favorite childhood book is necessarily a bad thing. Honestly, I think what one thinks about this book, will probably just come down to the individual.
WHO SHOULD READ: To Kill a Mockingbird fans (who don't idealize the book)
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five controversial bestsellers

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Thematic Sunday: Jane Austen Retellings

So I've spent most of last year reading the Jane Austen books. The most fascinating thing to me is the fact that Austen herself has sort of inspired a mini-genre of retellings/reimaginings/sequels, and so much more. I'm pretty confident that when it comes to retellings of classics, Austen is probably one of the most retold. Probably the only classic that rivals her books in the retellings is Sherlock Holmes. In the large world of Austen retellings, here are some that I recommend.

Jane Austen Retellings/Reimaginings/Sequels/Tie-Ins etc.

1) Austenland by Shannon Hale

Why: A woman who is obsessed with the Austen books (particularly Mr. Darcy), gets sent on a vacation to a resort that caters to hardcore Austen fans.

2) Bridget Jone's Diary by Helen Fielding

Why: Modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. You most likely know the movie.

3) Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James

Why: A sort of sequel to PandP where Elizabeth and Darcy must solve a murder that happens on their estate. Check out the BBC mini-series this inspired.

4) The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Why: A book about a book club who read through the Jane Austen books and all the drama in their lives that mirror the books themselves.

5) Longbourn by Jo Baker

Why: Pride and Prejudice told from the servants POV.

6) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Why: Say it with me now: Persuasion, set in space. You know you want to read it.

7) Jane Austen Heroes series by Amanda Grange

Why: Basically all the Austen novels from the men's POV. There's only three shown here, but Grange did all six novels.

8) Jane Austen Mystery series by Stephanie Barron

Why: What if Jane herself became a amateur sleuth?

9) Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

Why: YA modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice

10) Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters

Why: You probably know that there's a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It's been everywhere and the movie comes out in a month or so. But you might not know that they did a bunch of other monster mash up with classics including Sense and Sensibility.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Book Series Review: The Heroes of Olympus

SERIES: The Heroes of Olympus
AUTHOR: Rick Riordan
PUBLISHED between 2010 and 2014
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade/YAish
GENRE: Fantasy/Adventure, Mythology Tie-in
PREMISE: The demi-gods of Greece and the demi-gods of Rome's worlds collide as a force threatens to tear the world apart.
MY REVIEW: So, once upon a time, back when I first started this blog actually. I read The Lost Hero. I had just devoured the Percy Jackson series and I honestly, really liked it. But then.,,I forgot to read the rest? It's not a reflection on Mr. Riordan at all. These books are great. I just got into the Kane Chronicles, and then I had so many other books to read, that keeping up on this series sort of fell by the wayside. Especially after he started publishing two books a year.
But Magnus Chase came out and that reminded me that I have not read the rest of these and I started to feel guilty. So I went on a two month binge of the books. I enjoyed every minute of it. Reading these reminded me of why I loved the Percy Jackson series, way back when. I love that Riordan paid attention to the criticisms of the lack of diversity and instead of throwing a temper tantrum or crying PC police conspiracy, he went "you know...good point" and actually put diversity in the next books. Whether or not the diversity was good representation, is probably debatable, but I appreciate that he did it.
If you are familiar with Percy Jackson or the Kane Chronicles, this series follows the same sort of pattern. It's still immensely enjoyable. I love the spins on mythology that Riordan puts in it. I now am super pumped for the Apollo series and I'm reading Magnus Chase as we speak.
WHO SHOULD READ: Percy Jackson fans, Greek mythology fans
RATING FOR SERIES: Four and a half out of Five demi-gods getting stuff done

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Review: Ungodly

TITLE: Ungodly
Book 3 in the Goddess War Trilogy
AUTHOR: Kendare Blake
PUBLISHED: September 2015
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mythology-tie-in
PREMISE: Cassandra and her friends face a final battle...
MY REVIEW: This trilogy is very underrated. My only explanation for why people aren't gushing about is...that it's not a happily ever after everyone comes out okay type of YA trilogy. Good characters die in this series and they stay dead. The good characters are complicated, which means they aren't immediately likable. I can't help but notice for all that readers love to complain about wanting more complicated characters (specifically females ones) and less gooey romance, when those things actually happen....the books that do these plot elements don't get super popular. Which, I have to say, is probably a large part of why YA authors don't do them very often. Just pointing that out.
But enough about my frustrations with the YA crowd, this book is just as solid as the rest of the trilogy was. As mentioned above, this is not exactly a happy YA series. Dark stuff happens here. There is a tied up ending, but it's more bittersweet then anything. No characters miraculously live again. The war does end though. Just not in a totally happily ever after way. Which, is actually fine by me. This feels like a more realistic ending. If all that darkness happened and then everyone lived happily ever after and all dead characters came back to life...well, I personally would have felt cheated. I've read series that have done this before and it's always felt like a really forced happy ending. So while I'm sad for Cassandra and other's a much more realistic feeling ending in a way.
I am personally satisfied with how this ended. I'm sure not everyone will agree and hey, that's fine. But I really liked it. As always with Blake, I can't wait to see what she gives us next. She apparently has a new series in the works for later this year and it looks great.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of the first two books, mythology fans, Kendare Blake fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five troubled goddesses

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Where to Start: Historical Mystery

Historical mysteries are exactly what it sounds like: a mystery that is set in historical times. This genre is also wide and varied. Sometimes it can crossover into cozy mysteries and sometimes it can crossover into fantasy territory. For the record, I don't count things like Sherlock Holmes as historical mysteries. Because at the time it was written it wouldn't have been considered historical fiction. So things like that will not be on this list. But if you find yourself liking historical mysteries, absolutely give Holmes and Agatha Christie and so on a try.

Some staples to look into first:
Lady Julia series by Deanna Raybourn
Mistress of the Art of Death series by Ariana Franklin
Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
Dr. Laszlo Kriezler books by Caleb Carr
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Some random popular titles:
Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King
Matthew Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom
Gaslight Mysteries series by Victoria Thompson
Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

Some Personal recommendations:
Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander
The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

TITLE: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
AUTHOR: Felicia Day
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoirs/Social Commentary
PUBLISHED: August 2015
PREMISE: Youtuber/Actress Felicia Day talks about her experiences in nerd culture, how it shaped her career, and many other things.
MY REVIEW: This kind of book is probably going to be a niche sort of books. It'll generally appeal to a certain kind of person. Namely, it'll mostly appeal to fans of Felicia Day or perhaps nerds who happen to know her from the many things she's been on. Luckily, I fall into the fan of Felicia Day category. I've seen basically everything she's been in, I love her channel on YouTube, and she has even has a great book club on Goodreads that I check into from time to time because I've found some hidden gems that the members have recommended.
If you are familiar with Felicia Day and way she does her YouTube shows/commentary then this book will likely be familiar territory for you. This is basically her journey in nerdom written in her style. It goes into what her early years were like, to how she became interested in acting, to eventually writing and starting The Guild TV show. It's a lot of fun, and as a geek I related to a lot of it (I'd probably be just the same if I ever met Nichelle Nichols in person).
This was pretty much what I expected it to be: a fun and witty memoir. There was some nostalgic moments that made me think back to those early days of geekdom ( mailing lists....) and I got to learn some things I didn't know about a favorite actress/celebrity. All in all, a fun read.
WHO SHOULD READ: Felicia Day fans, those in geek/nerd culture
MY RATING: Four out of Five fun memoirs

Monday, January 11, 2016

Reading Through the Classics: Persuasion

TITLE: Persuasion
AUTHOR: Jane Austen
GENRE: Romance
PREMISE: A man from Anne Elliot's romantic past comes back and she is reminded of a love that could have been had her friend not talked her out of the relationship.
THOUGHTS: Having now read them all, I think my favorite book is between this one and Sense and Sensibility. Yes, I like Pride and Prejudice. It's good, don't get me wrong. But I far prefer these two books. They're more interesting to me commentary wise.
I think of all of Austen's books, this one is the most romance heavy of them. There's still Austen's frank social commentary/criticism. But there's a lot of pining in between that criticism. What can I say, I'm a sucker for good pining and this book has that in spades.
Sadly, this is the last Austen book I have to read. But I do plan on continuing to read through classics. This year expect to see lots of Sherlock Holmes, as I'm finishing up the series finally, and I hope to get through the clunkers that are Gone With the Wind and North and South as part of my goal to get all/a majority the romance books off my TBR list this year.

Quotable Jane Austen from Persuasion:

"I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives."

"How quick come the reasons for approving what we like."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Where to Start: Cozy Mysteries

So cozy mysteries. You've probably seen these books before and had no idea there was a name for them other then mystery. If the picture on the cover has a shop of some sort, a four-legged animal of some kind, and a pun in the title it is more then likely a cozy mystery. The cozy mystery is mostly like regular mysteries except that it's usually even more formula, it tends to involve sleuths who are not necessarily PIs/detectives first, and the mystery is usually secondary to catching up on what's going on in the main character's life at the moment. There's a cozy mystery series out there for anyone. If you can think of a hobby, there's a mystery series for it. Hell, I saw a series based on stamp collecting once. Yes, it's usually always a series. I've yet to see a standalone cozy mystery, but I'm sure there's one out there. It's a large genre with many popular authors who've written tons of books. Getting into this side of the mystery genre can probably seem daunting. But it's not impossible.

Where to start with Cozy Mysteries:

Staples of the genre (series that have been around for years that are a good idea to start with):
Miss Marple series by Agatha Christie
Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown
Aunt Dimity Mysteries by Nancy Atherton
Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Bruen
Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton

Shop-owner/Hobby type mysteries
Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke
Goldy Bear Culinary Mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson
Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle
China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert
Booktown Mystery series by Lorna Barrett

Historical Fictionish type cozy mysteries:
Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen (also check out her Molly Murphy series)
Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood (also check out the great TV show it spawned)
Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters

Paranormalish type cozy mysteries:
Psychic Girl Mysteries by Victoria Laurie (also check out her Ghost Hunter Mysteries)
Bewitching Mysteries series by Madelyn Alt
Ophelia and Abby Mysteries by Shirley Damsgaard
Witchcraft Mysteries series by Juliet Blackwell (author also has several other series that are popular)

If you really want to find a cozy mystery that's to your taste check out Cozy Mysteries Unlimited that has a large database of all the cozy mysteries out there. It also gives a helpful calendar for new releases.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book Review: Manners and Mutiny

TITLE: Manners and Mutiny
Book 4 in the Finishing School series
AUTHOR: Gail Carriger
PUBLISHED: November 2015
GENRE: Steampunk, Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: Sophronia's time at her school draws to a close as she learns of a large plot and finally deals with her feelings for her friend Soap.
MY REVIEW: It seems only a short time ago we learned about this new series and everyone was speculating and all nervous about it. Now, it's come to a satisfying end and we have to bid a sad farewell to another awesome Carriger heroine.
This was a great ending to a endlessly fun series. As always, I will miss these characters something fierce. Especially Pillover. If you're familiar with Carriger's style, this book continues that tradition of romance and humor and it all leads to a satisfying end.
As always with Carriger, I loved this. While I'll definitely miss this series, there's still the Prudence series to read and whatever fun series Carriger gives us next.
WHO SHOULD READ: Gail Carriger fans, steampunk fans, historical fantasy fans, those who've read the first three books
MY RATING: Four out of Five sassy schoolgirls getting stuff done

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions for 2016

This is a weekly meme hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish
This week's topic: Bookish New Year's Resolutions for 2016

1) Read 150 books. That's around 3 books per week. That's my usual speed. I can do more if I do audiobooks as well. But this year, I'm likely going to be moving so I won't have as much time to read.

2) Keep up on reviews on the blog and keep posting content. I was SO bad about that this year. I'm hopefully going to be much better this year. She says after mentioning she's probably not going to have as much time to read...

3) Explore the romance genre. Every year I pick one genre to focus on and get books on the TBR list out of the way and this year, it's going to be romance. Category romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, YA romances. All sorts of romance. Yes, if you're a romance guru, by all means, feel free to recommend stuff.

4) Get Gone With the Wind done. This is one of my bucket list books. Since I'm doing romance this year, I'm going to try and finally get this thousand page sucker read.

5) Get the entire Sherlock Holmes series done. I've only read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of Baskervilles. I want to read the whole series.

6) Get North and South done. Another bucket list book. Also fits in nicely with the romance genre focus.

7) Get caught up on a bunch of series. For instance: the Kate Daniels series, the Others series, The Flavia de Luce series, and definitely get Dresden Files done.

8) Get at least halfway through the Discworld books

9) Get my TBR list down by at least a hundred books. It would probably help if I stopped adding to it...

10) Remember that it is okay to ditch a book if I'm not feeling it. I've gotten a lot better about that this past year, but I stil sometimes feel the guilt. Then I have to remind myself that no one cares if I don't finish that book. I'm not committing some grand sin. Life is too short to read books I'm not enjoying.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Book Review: The Dark Blade of Magic

TITLE: Dark Blade of Magic
Book 2 in the Black Blade series
AUTHOR: Jennifer Estep
PUBLISHED: October 2015
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Lila competes in a tournament while dealing with her new life among the families.
MY REVIEW: Like most sequel books, this review is going to be short because honestly I don't have much to say.
Estep continues her ability to make good on-going series here. Making interesting sequels and keeping readers coming is a hard thing and Estep manages it and I'm amazed at how well she manages it.
This did everything sequel books should do: keeps the plot going, keeps you interested, solves some plots and introduces others. It's all done with Estep's usual snappy and fun fast pace.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jennifer Estep fans, fans of the Cold Burn of Magic
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five magic tournaments

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Book Review: Willful Machines

TITLE: Willful Machines
AUTHOR: Tim Floreen
PUBLISHED: October 2016
GENRE: Dystopian, LGBT
PREMISE: The closeted son of the President deals with conspiracies going on in his school in a troubled future where robots are becoming more human by the day.
MY REVIEW: Like Coyle's Vivian Apple series, this book proves that there can be originality in the dystopian genre. It is not dead, no matter what naysayers (namely, people who don't actually read it all that much) would have people believe.
This was new. There's no rebellion, no love triangle, none of the usual trappings I've come to expect from dystopians. The world is similar to most dystopians and bless the writer, he remembers that the US is not the only country and talks a bit about how other countries are dealing with the same issue (hint: much better then the US handles it). There's not much action in this one. It's a very character driven sort of dystopian. But I like the way it's handled and it doesn't end in a neat and tidy manner. It's actually a little bittersweet, which is probably why there are so many mixed reviews about it.
It's maybe not the best I've ever read, but for a debut, this was actually pretty good. A nice bit of fresh air in the crowded dystopian genre.
WHO SHOULD READ: those looking for new LGBT reads, dystopian fans, robot fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five robots gaining intelligence

Friday, January 1, 2016

Looking Ahead: January 2016

Yes, I'm bringing this feature back. As part of my goal to stay on top of this blog this year.

Here are some releases I'm looking forward too, that you can probably expect reviews for at some point in January:

Released January 5th:

Passenger Book 1: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Category: YA
Genre: Goodreads says fantasy

New Alexandra Bracken series. I have no idea what it's about and I don't care, because it's Alexandra Bracken.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley
Category: YA
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Classic Book Referencing

Historical fantasy starring the Bronte sisters? Yes, please.

Witchlands Book 1: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Category: YA
Genre: Fantasy

First, I'm thrilled that Dennard has a new series out. Second, it's epic fantasy.

Curio Book 1: Curio by Evangeline Denmark
Category: YA
Genre: Fantasy

Looks very steampunkish and I'm all about steampunk so I'm in.

Library Jumpers Book 1: Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
Category: YA
Genre: Fantasy

This book had me at promising fantasy adventure involving libraries.

Imposter Queen Book 1 by Sarah Fine
Category: YA
Genre: Fantasy

After enjoying a couple of this author's books, I'm pretty much down for anything she writes.

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy

An adult fantasy novel that looks very interesting. I've heard lots of buzz about it.

Released January 19th:

Sword and Verse Book 1 by Kathy MacMillan
Category: YA
Genre: Fantasy

If there's one book from January that's been getting the hype, it's this one. I'm definitely intrigued by the premise at least.

Released January 26th:

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction

Another historical fiction from Melanie Benjamin. I've had good luck with her stuff before so I'm going to give this one a look.

Divine Cities Book 1: City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy

Yes, finally a sequel to the wonderful and really underrated City of Stairs.

The Zodiac Legacy Book 2: The Dragon's Return by Stan Lee, Stuart Moore, and Andie Tong
Category: Middle-Grade
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adventure

Convergence was underrated. I for one fully support Marvel's bid to take over everything.

Some bookish things happening outside book releases:
BBCs Sherlock Christmas Special is airing Something to tide us over until they make us wait another three years I guess.
For a modern Sherlock that doesn't make you wait forever, Elementary's 4rth season comes back on the 7th.
In graphic novel TV related news: Supergirl returns January 4rth
iZombie returns on January 12th
Agent Carter season 2 returns on January 19th
The Flash season 2 returns on January 19th
Arrow season 4 returns on January 20th
Legends of Tomorrow debuts on January 21rst
Such a good time to be a comic book geek right now.