Saturday, October 29, 2016

Book Review: Bright Blaze of Magic

TITLE: Bright Blaze of Magic
Book 3 in the Black Blades series
AUTHOR: Jennifer Estep
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: Victor Draconi finally makes his play against the other families. Lila and her friends get caught in the middle of it...
MY REVIEW: And so another trilogy comes to a close. I'll always have slightly mixed feelings about this one. It's fun, no doubt. It's got Estep's voice written all over it. It's just...a tad predictable. It's not what I'd call must read reading. It's more: if you like urban fantasy a lot sort of reading and are looking to tide yourself over until your next favorite book comes out.
It's got all the standards there, about the only thing that sets this one apart from other urban fantasy series is that there's no love triangle. Yes my friends, you can write a YA series without one! There's still romance and it's all very cute. At least this love interest doesn't make me want to pull the heroine aside and say "girl, he's a sexist douche, run away" like some of these YA male leads can nowadays.
If you've enjoyed the characters and the plot in this series, it's perfectly well worth a read to see it through till the end. Estep brings everything to a satisfying's just a rather predictable conclusion. But I'll take predictable over confusing/makes no sense endings any day of the week, so I say it's a perfectly decent last book.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first two books, urban fantasy fans, Jennifer Estep fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Er....three and a half to four out of five (I can't make up my mind between the two, sorry)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Review: The Obelisk Gate

TITLE: The Obelisk Gate
Book 2 in the Broken Earth series
AUTHOR: N. K. Jemisin
PUBLISHED: August 18th, 2016
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Essun's journey continues...
MY REVIEW: Sequels can often be tricky things. Especially sequels to books that got such huge acclaim as The Fifth Season did (it won a Hugo, for those living under a rock). This one...mostly lived up to expectations.
I say mostly because a majority of it is spent on more world building. While I love that, being the giant world building lover that I am, I know some don't have patience for it. It also had the tendency to stall the plot somewhat. So that made this quite a slow book.
For the most part though, this was a good sequel. If you loved The Fifth Season, there's a good chance you'll like this one. It definitely is a builder kind of book though, where its main concern is leading us to the third book. Which should be excellent.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of The Fifth Season, those who like complicated magical worlds
MY RATING: Four out of Five magic systems

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Review: The Reader

TITLE: The Reader
Book 1 in the Sea of Ink and Gold series
AUTHOR: Traci Chee
PUBLISHED: September 13th, 2016
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl goes on the run when people come after her for the precious item she holds: a book.
MY REVIEW: This interesting read. It definitely was not what I was expecting. It was darker and the way it was told was very different then what you normally see. I did ultimately like it. But I suspect this is one that will not be for everyone because of the quirky writing style. That is the pitfall of having a quirky way of telling story: your reader will either get it and get on board or they won't get it and won't like it.
While I do like this, I wish the world was more fleshed out, but I'm hoping that's going to happen in book 2. I also hope there's more development for the characters because one drawback to the writing style and the fact that this book was mostly focused on the adventure part, is that there wasn't much connection with the characters.
This one...was honestly a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love the interesting way the author went about telling the story, the diversity is excellent, the world is intriguing and the way it left off will definitely have me picking up the next book. But there were also a lot of things that needed more development such as the world and the characters. The good here far out weighs the bad though. I think whether you like this book will ultimately come down to a matter of personal taste.
WHO SHOULD READ: dark fantasy fans, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting starts

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Thematic Sunday: Feminist Reading For Beginners

So I've been listening to We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler on audio. It's going into the fact that there are a lot of misconceptions out there about feminism and it becoming a buzzword these past few years in the media has frankly not helped matters.
So, if you've recently decided you might actually be open to this feminist thing the chances are that you've probably learned it's actually more complicated then the general public would have you believe. Here are some good books to look into if you want to be more knowledgeable about feminism, it's history, many different pockets of thought, and some of the issues facing us today. Oh, and definitely look into the book I mentioned, it's a great intro for what's going on with feminism now.

A Vindication Of The Rights of Women by Mary Wollenstonecraft

If you want to go back to some of the early feminists, Wollenstonecraft is a great place to start.

The Essential Feminist Reader by various authors, edited by Estelle B. Freedman

Good crash course through feminist historical writings.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This tiny book should be read by all feminists and given to anyone who is still going around fighting for equal rights but claiming they're not feminist.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

Personally, I find this book a tad dated (it was written in the sixties, and it mostly is concerned with middle-class straight white women). But, it is a good way to understand where baby boomer feminists are coming from. Chances are they read this book and it influenced a lot of their thinking.

Women, Race, and Class by Angela Y. Davis

Unfortunately, even feminists can be racist. One of the big problems in feminist circles is how they tend to leave all non-white women behind (as well as LGBT women). Please, if you're going to declare yourself feminist, make sure your feminism is inclusive.

Feminism is For Everybody by bell hooks

For those who need to understand why your feminism should be inclusive.

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women

For those who may not be totally convinced that there's still sexism around.

Gender Trouble by Judith Butler

A good intro to LGBT/trans issues.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

If you're a feminist, you're going to hear about Gloria Steinem. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. If you want to know who she is and what's she's done, her memoir is probably a good place to start.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

If you're a geek/consumer of any sort of media you're going to start noticing some less then savory aspects of the thing you consume when you start researching/reading up on feminism. These essays are about reconciling the media we enjoy with our feminism and how you can like problematic things and still be a feminist.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Review: The Long Game

TITLE: The Long Game
Book 2 in The Fixer series
AUTHOR: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
GENRE: Mystery/Adventure
PREMISE: Tess agrees to help a high school candidate win Hardwicke's school election. As always, it becomes more complicated then that...
MY REVIEW: The Fixer was one of my favorite, rather underrated, reads from last year. If you haven't picked up the first book, think YA version of Scandal, if Olivia was allowed to make healthy life choices and got better love interests then Jake and Fitz (no, I don't like either. Both are unhealthy options quite frankly). So I was looking forward to this something fierce.
As always, Barnes didn't disappoint. Between this and The Naturals series, she's been knocking it out of the park lately. I don't understand why she isn't more widely known and why Disney or whoever hasn't snatched up these series for a TV show.
This sequel did everything sequels should do. As a bonus, there's a twist I actually didn't even see coming at the end and I can't wait to see how that plays out later on. If you are pining for Scandal during its hiatus period, absolutely pick this series up.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of the first book, Scandal fans, Barnes fans, The Naturals series fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five damn good sequels

Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: The Raven King

TITLE: The Raven King
Book 4 in The Raven Cycle series
AUTHOR: Maggie Stiefvater
PUBLISHED: April 26th, 2016
GENRE: Magical Realism
PREMISE: Gansey and the others continue their search for the lost king and this time...may finally find him.
MY REVIEW: This series sneaks up on you. At least it did with me. I liked the first book perfectly fine but didn't go gaga over it like everyone else seemed too. But then came the second book and before I knew it I was eagerly anticipating every release. Also might have been mildly stalking Steifvater's blog/tumblr a bit in the hopes for some news about it...
I meant to get to this a whole lot sooner but that's when my father's health starting declining and got pushed aside. But I finally picked it back up this month and as I suspected, it was a wonderfully satisfying conclusion.
Also, I just heard that Stiefvater is possibly doing a trilogy centered around Ronan. It will probably be forever and a day until we get it, but I am all for it if it happens. Along with anything else Stiefvater has planned. She's basically a auto-read now for me.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that read and liked the first three books, Maggie Stiefvater fans, magical realism fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five lost kings
RATING FOR SERIES: Four out of Five

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book Review: A Monster Calls

TITLE: A Monster Calls
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness/Siobhan Dowd
CATEGORY: Childrens/Middle-Grade
GENRE: Paranormal
PREMISE: A young boy gets visited nightly by a monster while dealing with his mother's cancer diagnosis.
MY REVIEW: I admit, I put off reading this. I got it awhile ago when the trailer came out for the movie. But my father recently passed away a few months ago and I just had a feeling this book would just hit too close to home. Dealing with that is part of why reviewing on here has been random to say the least.
But I finally sat down and read it this past month. I kind of had to skim some parts that just got to me too much, but I suspect that means this is a great book. To me, if you can get to a person emotionally, that means you're doing your job as a writer. The illustrations are what really make this book. You probably recognize Jim Kay from the Harry Potter illustrated books. The ones here are just as gorgeous as the Harry Potter ones he did.
I got very attached to this book, but I suspect that might be to just relating too much. So I don't know how a person not dealing the death of a parent will connect to this book. But for me personally, this was a great book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Patrick Ness fans, those looking for creepy books
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five creepy monsters

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Book Review: The Shadow Hour

TITLE: The Shadow Hour
Book 2 in the Girl at Midnight series
AUTHOR: Melissa Grey
PUBLISHED: July 12th, 2016
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: Echo and her friends continue to fight the war started in book one.
MY REVIEW: The Girl at Midnight burst onto the scene last year with much fanfare. For the most part...the fanfare was kind of deserved. The world is unique, the author has fun characters, and it's just great entertainment.
Most of that continues in the second book. The ever present love triangle is a bit annoying, but author at least uses it wisely. She doesn't demonize one guy over the other or something. Which is a habit love triangles have that tend to annoy the hell out of me. As with the last book, the highlight of this book is Jasper. He luckily gets a lot more time spent on his romance and I am perfectly fine with that, as I find that romance more interesting then the bland central love triangle.
This is overall a solid sequel. I don't think this series is particularly ground breaking or anything. It has many familiar tropes/story lines in it. But it is definitely entertaining.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of the Girl at Midnight, Cassandra Clare fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five bird people

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Review: The Walls Around Us

TITLE: The Walls Around Us
AUTHOR: Nova Ren Suma
PUBLISHED: March 2015
GENRE: Magical Realism, paranormal
PREMISE:'s really hard to explain. There's a magical jail?
MY REVIEW: I've read quite a few Nova Ren Suma books over the years and I've discovered there are two kinds of books from her. There is one that is beautifully written that ties together wonderfully from beginning to end. and there is the one that is beautifully written but confusing for awhile until it ties together beautifully at the end. In short: her books take patience.
But if you stick with them, you get very interesting and clever ideas. Some of her books have been better then others. But they are all very unique. This latest one is no exception. But it is one of the confusing for awhile but ties together by the end ones. So I advise a lot of patience with it.
As with most of Suma's work, if you don't like metaphor-heavy and slow stories, then you might not like this very much. This one actually isn't my favorite of hers (that one is still 17 and Gone), but as with all her work: it's beautifully written. I think Suma's books are for a certain taste. You either really like her stuff, or you're just confused by it. As always with her books, I suggest checking out the book before buying.
WHO SHOULD READ: literature fans, magical realism fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five creepy jails

Friday, October 7, 2016

Book Review: Exile For Dreamers

TITLE: Exile For Dreamers
Book 2 in the Stranje House series
AUTHOR: Kathleen Baldwin
PUBLISHED: May 24th, 2016
GENRE: Historical Romance
PREMISE: The adventures of Stranje House continue with Tess.
MY REVIEW: School for Unusual Girls was a pleasant surprise from last year. A very underrated one. True, it had it's issues with things like insta-love. But for the most part, it was a fun alternate history historical romance that was actually kind of refreshing for YA. Mostly because there were girls actually supporting one another and no love triangle to be seen.
This book takes the good things from the first book and expands on those. I think it's smart of Baldwin to move on to new girls each installment. With Tess, we get views that we didn't get from Georgiana because Georgiana was new to Stranje House while Tess had been there for awhile. We also get a new perspective on the villain from the last book, we also get some new promising characters who are sure to tie in for later books.
All in all, it was a fun installment, I look forward to more from this series.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of the first book, romance readers
MY RATING: Four out of Five females supporting one another for a change

Book Review: Ghostly Echoes

TITLE: Ghostly Echoes
Book 3 in the Jackaby series
AUTHOR: William Ritter
PUBLISHED: August 23rd, 2016
GENRE: Historical Fantasy, Mystery
PREMISE: Abigail continues her apprenticeship to Jackaby, this time the mystery they're solving is a bit more personal: the murder of their ghost friend, Jenny.
MY REVIEW: If ever there was an unsung series, this one is it. It's been a fun series from the start, and this latest installment is no exception. For those that have never read it, think Dresden Files meets Doctor Who but with better treatment of female characters.
Ritter continues great world building, fun adventures, and we get a peek into the past of Jenny and even some more revelations about Jackaby. As always, it's a quick read and there's plenty of snark and great dialogue to help move along the few slow parts.
Apparently the next book in the series is going to be the last. I'll be sorry to see this one go, but if it means we get more new things from Ritter, then I don't mind one bit.
WHO SHOULD READ: Dresden Files fans, Doctor Who fans, Sherlock fans, historical fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five ghost murder mysteries

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Review: The View From The Cheap Seats

TITLE: The View From The Cheap Seats
AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Speeches/essays/articles
PREMISE: A collection Neil Gaiman's non-fiction writing from intros he wrote for books to speeches he did at various functions.
MY REVIEW: If you're going into this book hoping for new Neil Gaiman material to're likely going to be disappointed. Most fans, probably know most of the things here. Especially if you're a regular reader of his blog.
This book is a collection of old things Gaiman has done. It has a lot of speeches, various intros he wrote for people's books, and many other random non-fiction. I don't think it's meant to be read all at once. Stuff like this is probably best read here and there when you're in the mood.
Like most collections, some are better then others. There was a lot in here about Gaiman that I wasn't aware of, so for me it was rather fun. But if you're a Gaiman super-fan, then likely you know most of the things here. I'd only pick it up if you're really interested and just want all the things he wrote in one place or something.
WHO SHOULD READ: hardcore Neil Gaiman fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five on point speeches

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Looking Ahead: October 2016

This is a tad late. I apologize. Family visited so the beginning of the month has been a bit wacky. But here are all the books on my radar that are releasing in October. If you thought September was busy, you ain't seen nothing yet:

Releasing October 4rth (Today):

The Wangs VS The World by Jade Chang

A adult fiction debut that has been getting lots of buzz.

Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino

Fantasy from one of the people involved with Avatar: The Last Airbender? Sign me up!

Spare and Found Parts
Interesting looking fantasy/sci-fi debut

Replica Book 1 by Lauren Oliver

I'm a little hesitant about this one, because the way it's apparently written sounds very gimmicky. But, I'm always willing to give Oliver a chance because she always has creative ideas floating around.

Magnus Chase Book 2: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

I'm pretty sure everyone knows this one is out. But in case you didn't.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis

Adult sci-fi novel that looks interesting. I've heard a lot about Connie Willis but haven't gotten to her books yet. Maybe this will be my intro.

Yesternight by Cat Winters

I'm always up for a Cat Winters book.

October 11th:

Bound by Blood and Sand Book 1 by Becky Allen

Sounds like a potentially cool dark fantasy.

Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston

I didn't even have to read the synopsis of this book. All I know is it's about Ahsoka, my second favorite character from the Star Wars universe. I'm in. I wish the author was different, because the one Johnston book I read didn't impress me much, but I'm hoping that was just that one book or something.

Still Life With Tornado by A. S. King

I'm always up for an A. S. King book. Vastly underrated author.

Young Elites Book 3: The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

I completely underestimated this trilogy. The beginning was solid, but didn't grab my attention much. But that second book. Damn. THAT is how you twist things. I can't wait to see how this goes down.

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Historical Fantasy. I'm a sucker for it. This one is no exception.

Beast by Brie Spangler

Beauty and the Beast contemporary retelling with Belle as a trans girl. I'm here for it.

Black Widow Book 2: Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl

Another Marvel/media tie-in book. There are a lot good ones coming out this month. If only they would get that Captain Marvel YA book they were talking about out.

October 18th:

Boy series Book 4: The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot

It's Cabot. I'm going to read it. She seems to be continuing her nostalgia trip by reviving an old adult series which were romances told through things like emails, receipts, anything electronic/paper. If this is as fun as the others, I'll enjoy it a lot.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

After finally reading and loving Wishful Drinking, I can't wait to read Fisher's newest book.

Illuminae Files Book 2: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I still think this series is pretty generic, but it's fun enough that I'm continuing anyway.

October 25th:

Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer

Marvel continues its descent into publishing books and I'm here for it every step of the way.

There are a lot more then this coming out this month, but I fear if I list all the books I'm interested in this month, this post will be way too long. Just know, it's a pretty awesome month for publishing.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Reading Through the Classics: The Sherlock Holmes Series

TITLE: The Sherlock Holmes series
AUTHOR: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
PUBLICATION Started: 1887 Finished:1927
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A brilliant detective solves mysteries in England.
THOUGHTS: Over the past several months I've been going through the Sherlock Holmes series. It's been a process. Not because the books are hard. In fact, they're very easy books to understand. It's just they get repetitive. Now, I have read some Sherlock Holmes before this year. I read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes a few years ago back when the Robert Downy Jr. movies started. I also did The Hound of Baskervilles back when the Sherlock TV show did their version of it. 
To everyone moaning about how they became a procedural on CBS: please. That's actually the perfect format for these books. If you don't think so, that actually tells me you've maybe never actually read these books. Or if you have, you have a very rosy eyed view of them. Which can be a issue with a lot of Sherlock Holmes book readers. As poor Arthur Conan Doyle found out when he tried to quit writing the series.
If you only read one or two of the books, I recommend going for A Study in Scarlet and then either The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes or Hound of Baskervilles. The rest aren't very necessary, unless you want bragging rights about how you've read the whole series. Which, honestly, is mostly why I read the whole thing. 
WHO SHOULD READ: Die-hard Sherlock Holmes fans, you want to say you've read the whole thing
ORDER OF SERIES: A Study in Scarlet
The Sign of Four
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Hound of Baskervilles
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
The Valley of Fear
His Last Bow
The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

Note: sorry about weird formatting, blogger was being a pain today for some reason.