Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Reading Goals and Some Plans For This Blog

So 2017 draws to a close. Thank god.

So...I have some ideas for the blog. The major thing that I want to do is to add a recommendation list. This will be one big giant list, in handy, alphabetical order, by author. I'll be doing it in posts and have a link sidebar somewhere so people will be able to just click and peruse my recommendations if they don't want to go through my huge review backlist. So keep an eye out for this. It'll be done over time, not all at once. I will also frequently update the list as I read more favorites.

Other ideas include new variations on book rec lists. We'll see how it goes there.

2018 Reading Goals:

1) Read at least one hundred books. I usually always start my number goal at one hundred because I usually make that goal. Around July I may look at it and what I'm reading and make the number higher.

2) Genre focus of the year: Poetry

So this year's genre/section that I want to focus on and really jump into is poetry. This is very much out of my comfort zone. I've never even taken a class on it. But I want to read it. So be prepared to see more poetry books and my awkward rambling as I try to figure out just what makes good poetry anyway....

Some poets/poetry books you can expect to see:

Sappho
Emily Dickinson's poems
Some of the epic poems such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
T. S. Elliot
Robert Frost
Dorothy Parker
Howl and Other Poems by Alan Ginsburg
Maya Angelou
Milk and Honey and some of the more modern poetry collections including some this year that look interesting.

3) Author focus of the year: The Bronte Sisters

This year, the author whose complete backlist I want to get through are the Bronte sisters. Now, I've read the two major ones: Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. But I haven't read any of the others, including Anne Bronte. So this year, expect to see a lot of the Bronte Sisters on this blog.

4) Read at least one play a month

I definitely want to continue reading plays as I enjoyed them a lot last year. Some I hope to get too this year include: The Crucible by Arthur Miller (no, never read this one in HS), A Streetcar Named Desire, Pygmalion, Our Town, Waiting for Godot and more.

5) Classics TBR List (that do not include the Brontes):

Beowulf
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavalli
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Candide by Voltaire
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Howard's End by E. M. Forester
Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Currently reading this one now as I actually meant to read it in 2017. Opps)
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (no, never read this one in HS/MG either)
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Watership Down by Richard Adams

Note: this list is subject to change as I'm fickle and life gets in the way.

And that's about it. Other then with classics I like to keep my TBR list open. I only make lists like these for classics because if I don't set a firm plan out...they never get read and I read fantasy all year long. Which is fine...but it doesn't get books off my list.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Favorites List Part 4: Non-Fiction

I have descended even further into becoming a non-fiction fan this past year. Here are some of my favorites. Again, if your favorite is not on here it is because 1) It was not a favorite of mine. or 2) I haven't read it yet.

Memoir/Biographies

Hunger: A Memoir of My Body by Roxane Gay
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin
This is Just My Face, Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidebe

Essay collections/Opinion type books

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World by various authors (edited by Kelly Jensen)
One Day We'll All be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
All the Lives I Want by Alana Massey
The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
Wolf Whistle Politics: The New Misogyny in Public Life Today by various authors (edited by Naomi Wolf)

History/everything else:

Never Caught: The Washinton's Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (apparently this counts as non-fiction as everyone puts it in the non-fiction section...I find that weird as it's clearly retold mythology fiction...but whatever)
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker (poetry collection)
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Favorites List Part 3: Adult Fiction

Here are my favorite adult fiction books from 2017. Again, if there's one on here that you think should be on here, it's probably not because 1) it wasn't a favorite of mine or 2) I haven't read it yet.

Contemporary/Literature Fiction

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Science-Fiction

American War by Omar El Akkad
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
Interdependency Book 1: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Winternight Trilogy Book 1: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Olympus Bound Book 2: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Amberlough Book 1: Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
Wayward Children Book 2: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Shades of Magic Book 3: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

Mystery/Thriller/Historical Fiction etc:

Veronica Speedwell Book 2: A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Favorites List Part 2: YA/MG Books from 2017

Here are all my favorites from the YA/Middle-Grade categories that were published in 2017. Please note: I have not read all the 2017 books yet. For instance I haven't gotten to: Diviners Book 3, One Dark Throne, Magnus Chase book 3, The Book of Dust, and many others. I read a lot but even I only have so much time. So if you're wondering where certain titles are they either a) aren't actually a favorite of mine or b) I just haven't read them yet.
Books that have top ten pick by them are the books are my personal best books of the year.

Contemporary YA/MG

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (top ten pick)
Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali
Charlotte Holmes 2: The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert
You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz
History is All You Left Me/They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (counting both books as a top ten pick because it's my blog, I do what I want)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (top ten pick)
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Science-Fiction/Dystopianish/Time Travel etc. YA/MG

Girl From Everywhere Book 2: The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig
At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
Warcross Book 1 by Marie Lu (top ten pick)

Fantasy YA/MG

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (review forthcoming)
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (top ten pick)
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
Star-Touched Queen 2: A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
Nemesis Book 1: Dreadnought by April Daniels
Witchlands Book 2: Windwitch by Susan Dennard
Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody (top ten pick)
Caraval Book 1 by Stephanie Garber
Rebel of the Sands Book 2: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (top ten pick) (also gets my vote for most improved series of the year)
The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Trials of Apollo Book 2: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
Monsters of Verity Book 2: Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (top ten pick)
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
Strange the Dreamer book 1 by Laini Taylor (top ten pick)

Historical Fiction/Alternate History/Fantasy YA/MG

Stranje House 3: Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee (top ten pick)
Daughter of the Pirate King Book 1 by Tricia Levenseller
Code Name Verity prequel: The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein
Conqueror's Saga Book 2: Now I Rise by Kierstan White (top ten pick)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 Favorites List Part 1: Backlist Books

Welcome to the first of the favorite lists for the year! This list will have multiple parts and will be divided up as follows:

Part 1: Backlist books-Favorite books I read this year that were not published during 2017
Part 2: Favorite YA/MG-Favorite books from the Young Adult/Middle-Grade categories
Part 3: Favorite Adult Fiction: Favorite books from literature, sci-fi, fantasy etc.
Part 4: Favorite Non-Fiction: Favorite books from biography, memoir, essays etc.

It will all end on the 31rst where I will have a big post explaining my reading plans/goals for the new year and some new things you might be seeing on the blog.

Favorites List Part 1: Backlist Books

Classics (aka books published before 1985)

The Witches by Roald Dahl
A Room With a View by E. M. Forester
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
1984 by George Orwell
The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Young Adult/Middle-Grade

Six of Crows Book 2: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
The Naturals Book 4: Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Three Dark Crowns Book 1 by Kendare Blake
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
The Great Library Books 1 and 2 by Rachel Caine
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Wolf by Wolf Book 1 by Ryan Graudin
Proxy Book 1 by Alex London
Young Elites 3: The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Timekeeper Book 1 by Tara Sim
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Adult Fiction

Flavia de Luce series Books 6-8 by Alan Bradley
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Another Brooklyn by Jacquelyn Woodson

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Peter Grant Book 6: The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch
Dresden Files series Books 10-13 by Jim Butcher
Custard Protocol Book 2: Imprudence by Gail Carriger
Wayfarers Books 1 and 2 by Becky Chambers
Themis Files 1: Sleeping Giants by Slyvain Neuvel
Discworld series (Small Gods, Witches Abroad, Reaper Man) by Terry Pratchett

Non-Fiction

Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Big Giant End of the Year Wrap Up Part II

Continuing from yesterday, here are the books I've read (so far) this month. Tomorrow will be the beginning of my favorite of the year lists (yes lists, I divide them up because I can't choose just ten favorite books to talk about. I'm just not wired that way).

Books I read in December (so far):

TITLE: One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
AUTHOR: Scaachi Koul
PUBLISHED: March 7th, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essays
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Very interesting collection of essays. I can definitely see why this has been making the rounds.
MY RATING: Four out of Five




TITLE: Our Dark Duet
Monsters of Verity Duology
AUTHOR: Victoria Schwab
PUBLISHED: June 13th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Schwab delivers again with another amazing ending to a duology.  But it's probably zero surprise to any of you I loved this, lets face it: I'm Victoria Schwab trash and am here for anything she writes.
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five
RATING FOR SERIES: Four out of Five solid duologies

TITLE: Girls Made of Snow and Glass
AUTHOR: Melissa Bashardoust
PUBLISHED: September 5th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy, Retelling
RANDOM THOUGHTS: One of my favorite fantasy debuts this year. This one retold Snow White SO much better then Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (and didn't have girl hate going on either).
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five



TITLE: The Dire King
Book 4 in the Jackaby series
AUTHOR: William Ritter
PUBLISHED: August 22nd, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Okay ending. I felt it was rather rushed to be honest. But it ended it in  a satisfactory way so I don't feel too cheated.
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five
RATING FOR SERIES: Four out of Five


TITLE: Wonder Woman-Warbringer
Book 1 in the DC Icons series
AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo
PUBLISHED: August 28th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy/Superhero/media tie-in
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Solid take on Diana and what it might have been like for her as a teenager. If you're just coming into this from the movie: it completely ignores the movie. And honestly the comics continuity in general from what I can see. So I just see this as one of the many different AU Dianas out there.
MY RATING: Four out of Five

TITLE: The Gilded Years
AUTHOR: Karin Tanabe
PUBLISHED: 2016
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Historical Fiction
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Solid historical novel. A bit predictable but otherwise not bad. Not sure how well it will do as a movie (it's been optioned for a film apparently) as a lot of the middle parts are rather dull. But we'll see.
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five



TITLE: Hunger: A Memoir of My Body
AUTHOR: Roxane Gay
PUBLISHED: June 13th, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoir/Essays
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Amazing memoir from Roxane Gay. If you guys haven't checked out Bad Feminist yet, seriously do so.
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five




TITLE: Ash and Quill
Book 3 in the Great Library series
AUTHOR: Rachel Caine
PUBLISHED: July 11th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Dystopian/Alternate History
RANDOM THOUGHTS: I am now completely caught up with series. This makes me happy but also sad because now I have to wait for the next book like everyone else...
MY RATING: Four out of Five


TITLE: Dear Martin
AUTHOR: Nic Stone
PUBLISHED: October 17th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary
RANDOM THOUGHTS: I wanted to love this. I appreciate what the author was trying to do...but ultimately....this was just okay. The writing style was not my favorite, there was way too much excusing white people for the shit we do (I'm white and I'm sorry stop excusing us, seriously. We need to be held accountable and called out on our shit. Otherwise I guarantee we will never change), and plot choices that bugged me here and there. Plus I tried not too, but I couldn't help but compare it to The Hate U Give and I'm sorry but The Hate U Give is ten times better in quality. It's not bad. It just....was not my favorite.
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

TITLE: Little & Lion
AUTHOR: Brandy Colbert
PUBLISHED: August 8th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Damn good contemporary book. I have to say, contemporary genre, you all knocked it out of the park this year. More then half of my favorite reads from this year have been contemporary reads which is pretty unusual for me.
MY RATING: Four out of Five


TITLE: Final Girls
AUTHOR: Riley Sager
PUBLISHED: July 11th, 2017
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Thriller/Horror
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Okay thriller. I could tell the author was trying to be subversive but they quickly fell into many regular tropes that happen in horror/thrillers such as weird hang ups on sex/slut shaming/women can't be friends nonsense etc. I am still side-eyeing the author like hell for his reasoning behind the female pen name.
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five

TITLE: Wicked Like Wildfire
Book 1 in the Hibiscus Daughter series
AUTHOR: Lana Popovic
PUBLISHED: August 15th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy
RANDOM THOUGHTS: One of the most interesting magic systems I've come across. Beautifully written and I loved that most of it involved family and family history. It's just...terribly slow in the middle.
MY RATING: Four out of Five


TITLE: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
AUTHOR: Cynthia Hand
PUBLISHED: October 24rth, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Paranormal, Classic Book Referencing
RANDOM THOUGHTS: This book is best read when you're on that Christmas high like I was when I read it (I finished it around Christmas Eve as a matter of fact). It's like the best of those cheesy Christmas TV specials in book form and it's delightful.
MY RATING: Four out of Five


Monday, December 25, 2017

The Big Giant End of the Year Review Wrap-Up PART 1

Okay, it's time to face facts: I'm behind. If I don't catch up now, I won't ever catch up. So Here is one big random wrap up of what I read in the last half of November.:

TITLE: The Hearts We Sold
AUTHOR: Emily Lloyd-Jones
PUBLISHED: August 8th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Liked it a lot. Unusual ending and lots of good themes.
MY RATING: Four out of Five



TITLE: In Other Lands
AUTHOR: Sarah Rees Brennan
PUBLISHED: August 15th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Utterly hilarious fantasy parody. One of my favorite reads of the year.
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five




TITLE: A Study in Scarlet Women
Book 1 in the Lady Sherlock series
AUTHOR: Sherry Thomas
PUBLISHED: 2016
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Mystery
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Wanted to like it, but for something that was supposed to be a female Sherlock doing sleuthing, the female Sherlock didn't do much of the actual sleuthing.
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five


TITLE: The Collapsing Empire
Book 1 in the Interdependency series
AUTHOR: John Scalzi
PUBLISHED:March 21rst, 2017
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Science-Fiction
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Good start to a new series. Don't have much to say about it. It was good sci-fi, that's about it.
MY RATING: Four out of Five



TITLE: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
Book 1 in the Rise of the Empress series
AUTHOR: Julie C. Dao
PUBLISHED: October 10th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy, Retelling
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Wanted to like it because the idea is great and the writing is good, but there was just too much girl hate going on in this. There is some major internal misogyny going on here.
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five


TITLE: Warcross
Book 1 in the Warcross series
AUTHOR: Marie Lu
PUBLISHED: September 12th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Dystopianish, Sci-fi
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Lu has done it again and delivered another awesome series start. One of my favorite new series of the year.
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five



Graphic Novels:
Spinning by Tillie Walden
Giant Days Vols. 2 and 3
Princess Jellyfish Vol. 2

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Reading Through the Classics: 1984

TITLE: 1984
AUTHOR: George Orwell
PUBLISHED: 1949
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: In a future imagined by Orwell in the forties, a man starts to question his government and the way things are...
MY THOUGHTS: 1984 is one of those books that has been making the rounds this year (along with The Handmaid's Tale). After finally sitting down and reading it I definitely see why. There is stuff in here that is sadly, incredibly relevant to what is going on in the US government right now. BTW, guys? Our government resembling Big Brother is....really not a good thing. We should all be seriously worried about that.
As with all classics, there is stuff in here that is dated. Orwell's take on women is...more the a little questionable (I'm also kind of getting the feeling that he hated kids. Or possibly people in general. This book is not kind to humanity). I find it interesting how people go after YA dystopia for poor world-building but when you read this...well...it's not exactly terribly detailed either. Also the romance in this is ten times worse then anything I've read in YA. Just saying. One thing I found interesting was in this one...there's no hopeful rebellion or anything like that. In fact....the ending is rather bleak. Which is a far cry from today's dystopians that try to at least have a rebellion of some sort going on to give hope for the next generation.
Like Fahrenheit 451 I get the sense that a lot of people read this and deliberately misinterpreted things to suit their world view. This happens a lot in classics and entertainment in general. Hell, I admit, I've probably been guilty of it. But I get the sense a lot people think they're Winston in the beginning of this story. Rebelling against authority, sticking it to Big Brother and all of that. The truth of the matter is....most of us are the sheep willingly going along with society because it's the easy path. At worst, we're O'Brien, helping Big Brother stay in power. Or we're the neighbor's bratty kids, gleefully turning on anyone who doesn't follow society's rules.
This book offers a lot of food for thought. I definitely see why people have been reading it again and why it tends to be on everyone's must-read list. I don't think it's a perfect book (the treatment of women leaves a lot be desired for me), but it is interesting and is one of those books that tends to stay with you for awhile.
WHO SHOULD READ: Dystopian fans, George Orwell fans

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Book Review: There's Someone Inside Your House

TITLE: There's Someone Inside Your House
AUTHOR: Stephanie Perkins
PUBLISHED: October 5th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Thriller/Mystery
PREMISE: A girl moves to a new town to escape her old life only to be caught up in a series of murders....
MY REVIEW: So, it has been almost three years since Perkins' last book. I mean, a book she wrote by herself. She did edit some short story collections here and there these past few years. If you had told me after Lola and the Boy Next Door that her next book was going to be a thriller, I would have laughed in your face. But....here we are. 2017 sure has been a weird year.
Personally, I am all for authors branching out into new genres and trying new things. This definitely was new for Perkins and....I think she more or less succeeded. I can sort of take or leave thrillers and this one was okay. It had all the usual trappings these things have. The romance was forced, and frankly unnecessary, but I've seen worse. There are silly reveals at the end. There were red herrings all over the place. A good creepy atmosphere going on with the town. It was typical thriller du jour.
I went into it wanting a bit of a R. L. Stine kind of thing and that's basically what I got. It did its job. It's not the best book ever. But it's not the worst. All in all it was just okay for me. Good for if you want those creepy mystery vibes, but not much else.
WHO SHOULD READ: Thriller fans, horror movie fans, Stephanie Perkins fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of five okay thrillers

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Book Review: Release

TITLE: Release
AUTHOR: Patrick Ness
PUBLISHED: September 19th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A boy tries figuring out life while dealing with his super religious family, an ex-boyfriend who he's trying to get over, a new boy and everything in between.
MY REVIEW: Patrick Ness is one of those authors who is always writing interesting things. I never quite know what I'll be getting with him, but I do know that it will likely be awesome. Release is no exception with this pattern. But this is the one time that I honestly...just didn't get what he was doing.
Let me explain, there are two stories in this book. The first story is the summary I described. That story is fantastic, I love it and if I could rate the book based just on Adam's story alone, this would be a pretty high rating and be one of my top contemporary books of the year. But....it's not the only part. See, there's this other story going on dealing with ghosts and magic and...look I'm all for that stuff, you guys know that but...there wasn't really a point to it? At least none that I saw. Perhaps there was and I missed it? I don't know. It turns out this is inspired by Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf which I have never read. So maybe it ties into that somehow?
I don't know guys, I can't offer any explanation for the fantasy part because it just plain doesn't make sense to me. But I will say that Adam's story is fantastic and if you read this book, read it for that. But this is again what I appreciate about Ness: he experiments with ways of writing. Sometimes it doesn't always make sense to me, but I appreciate that he tries different things.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mrs. Dalloway fans, contemporary fiction fans, Patrick Ness fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five writing experiments I didn't totally get

Friday, December 15, 2017

Book Review: Daughter of the Burning City

TITLE: Daughter of the Burning City
AUTHOR: Amanda Foody
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: July 25th, 2017
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl who creates illusions realizes someone is going around and murdering her illusions...which shouldn't be possible because the illusions aren't real...
MY REVIEW: You guys remember Caraval, right? Carnival book out in January that everyone and their mother kept insisting was super amazing? Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Caraval. I definitely think it's one of the better YA fantasy debuts this year. But in my personal opinion...this book is ten times better if you want more of that fantasy set in a circus thing.
The problem I had with Caraval is that ultimately...it was a pretty predictable YA fantasy. Everything went pretty much how I expected it too and the author just played it really safe. This book did not play it safe. There's representation for one (not just token characters either!), the romance is better handled, the story is better handled, there's more interesting twists...everything was just better.
I tend to not like comparing books, I think it's horribly unfair to the books in question to judge it based on what another book did....but in this case I couldn't help myself because it was very much the same sort of idea: fantasy set in a traveling circus with a quest of sorts going on. Each went about it very differently, but as far as I'm concerned...this book did it better. Again, not saying Caraval is bad. I still recommend it...I just think it played it very safe and this book just emphasizes how safe that book was. This is one of my favorites this year and I can't wait to see what the author has in store for us next.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Caraval (who liked it but wanted more), carniepunk fans, murder mystery fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five traveling magic circuses

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: This is Just My Face, Try Not to Stare

TITLE: This is Just My Face, Try Not to Stare
AUTHOR: Gabourey Sidebe
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: May 1rst, 2017
GENRE: Memoir
PREMISE: Actor Gabourey Sidebe talks about a variety of topics from the things she encounters as a celebrity to family life.
MY REVIEW: Full disclosure: I adore Gabourey Sidebe. I love pretty much everything she's been in and she's just one of those actors who I find to be a breath of fresh air and would love to just hang with some time. So it was probably going to be a given I was going to really like this book. So I'll give the standard this review has bias warning.
Having read a few memoirs now, I've now gotten some idea about what works for them and what doesn't. For me a good memoir is one that just feels genuine. Like it is actually the person writing the memoir and not some ghost writer speaking for the person and trying to cast them in the best light ever. When you read a few of these, it usually becomes pretty clear who is actually writing the memoir and who is just telling a ghost writer stories and having them interpreting them how they see fit.
This is one that feels genuine. Sidebe does not shy away from some the uglier aspects of Hollywood and the way they treated her because of her weight. She also does not shy away from pointing out some of the bullshit she gets from fans about her weight and race. There are stories about family about her mother and everything in between. It's told with a sharp wit and is just enjoyable even though some of the topics talked about get pretty dark.
Personally, this is one of my favorite memoirs this year. I won't say the best (I am in the middle of Hunger by Roxane Gay and that's shaping up to be one the best this year) but it's definitely in the top ten category.
WHO SHOULD READ: Gabourey Sidebe fans, celebrity memoir fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five awesome people

Monday, December 11, 2017

Book Review: Now I Rise

TITLE: Now I Rise
Book 2 in the Conqueror's Saga series
AUTHOR: Kiersten White
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: June 27th, 2017
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: Lada continues her quest for her homeland while Radu deals with a mission he was given...
MY REVIEW: And I Darken was a favorite of mine from last year and I have been looking forward to this sequel for some time. I am happy to say it did not disappoint. Normally, I am not a fan of dual perspectives. It's usually a gimmick and not necessary and frankly a lot of authors don't use the technique well. This is one of the few times, it is actually used well.
Lada and Radu are so different that I have no issue figuring out who's speaking (this is usually a big issue with dual perspective). I love these characters. They are complicated and messy and are just so interesting. Thanks to the dual perspective, we get two sides of the war the characters are in and it's so well done. I admit, I don't know much about the history that White is talking about here, but she explains it so well that I got the gist.
To sum it up: I loved this book. It's definitely one of the top books of the year for me. If you loved And I Darken, you'll love this. I cannot wait to read the next book. I am also fearful, because I have a feeling it's going to be a tissue box kind of book (especially if White sticks to history. I don't know much about this time period, but I do know Vlad dies).
WHO SHOULD READ: And I Darken fans, Game of Thrones fans, historical fiction fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five fangirl squees

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book Review: Divided We Stand

TITLE: Divided We Stand-The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics
AUTHOR: Marjorie J. Spruill
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: February 28th, 2017
GENRE: History, Politics
PREMISE: A non-fiction book delving into the 1977 National Women's Conference and how what happened there was a glimpse of future politics to come...
MY REVIEW: I have so many mixed feelings about this book. I do think it's an important thing to read and many people today could stand to read it. But I have issues with the way the author went about presenting the information because it's clear from the way she presented it, that she is biased and wanted you to feel a certain way about things. I HATE when non-fiction history authors do this. If there's something that doesn't have a lot of info and you do have to guess, then okay I get that. But stuff like this? No, just give us the information and let us come to our own conclusions, please.
Namely, she seemed to want you to sympathize with conservative women and admire Phyllis Schlafly. About eighty percent of this book is spent presenting Schlafly and her group as some amazing united force. Meanwhile, she presents the feminists as an unprepared group that spends too much time in-fighting and whatnot. I thought this was weird and then I went and looked up the writer. She's from the south. And most of the books she's written has to do with southern white women and their great deeds. Which, explains a lot.
Look, feminists are not perfect. I am the first to tell you that. But seriously don't sit there and tell me that Shclafly and her group was better. They did everything they could to undermine progress for women simply because they felt they knew what was best for every woman. That is not something to be admired. And I don't think it's very surprising or admirable they were able to organize very well. They all just had one goal. It's easy to agree and get everyone on board when you have one goal. Feminists, have more then one goal, and everyone wants their goal to be at the fore front and focus on that. So of course, we're not all going to agree on everything. Also, I would like to point out, Shclafly's group is also responsible for a lot the negative and frankly untrue stereotypes you hear about feminists today, such as that lie about how feminism is about hating men.
But one thing this book does do well, is it explained the switch of the political parties that took place during the seventies. It does draw very good links between politics now and politics back then. I just...am not pleased with how biased the author clearly was and how she tried to get you to sympathize with people who were actively trying to take away women's rights.
WHO SHOULD READ: Feminists, those interested in political history
MY RATING: Three out of Five flawed takes on history

Friday, December 8, 2017

Book Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

TITLE: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
AUTHOR: Maurene Goo
PUBLISHED: May 30th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: A girl hatches a plan to get a boyfriend by following the plots of Korean Dramas...
MY REVIEW: As I was reading this, I was reminded a lot of When Dimple Met Rishi. So if you were a fan of that book, I suggest trying this one out. It's got that same cutesy romance vibe that that book had.
Ultimately I liked this one. It's just nothing to really write home about. The writing is decent, the characters are decent, the romance is cute, everything is just...okay for me. It's not something that blew me away or anything. But it did satisfy my need for a cute light-hearted romance.
If you're in the mood for something light-hearted and fluffy, this book should do the trick. Though I will warn: it will make you want to go and have a K-Drama marathon. Which I highly recommend,  because K-Dramas are the best. The author gives a great list of them at the back of the book if you want to know where to start.
WHO SHOULD READ: K-Drama fans, those looking for cute romances to read
MY RATING: Three and a half out of five cute romances

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Wires and Nerves, Vol. 1

TITLE: Wires and Nerves
Wires and Nerves series, vol. 1
AUTHOR: Marissa Meyer
ARTIST: Douglas Holgate
PUBLISHED: January 31rst, 2017
GENRE: Science-Fiction/Retelling
PREMISE: Marissa Meyer continues the world of Lunar Chronicles in a new graphic novel series
MY REVIEW: Okay, full disclosure: despite loving comics and loving books...I tend to avoid these graphic novels based on book things. First off: they're usually just adaptations of the book and I don't find it necessary to read books in graphic novel form. Secondly: the art is usually pretty ugly.
But lets face it: I'm Lunar Chronicles trash. If it's Lunar Chronicles, I'm there. It helps that this series actually picks up where the books left off so it's actually new material. I'm still not much of a fan of the art style....but it is what it is, I've made my peace with it.
All in all, as far as these graphic novels based on books thing goes...this one is not bad. Iko is delightful and we get to see all the favorite characters again and catch up with what's going on in their lives. We also get a nice look into what the results of the end of the last book were and I'm pleased that the author makes it clear that just because you overthrow a villain, doesn't magically mean every world problem is solved.
So I liked it. I wish the art was better. But what can you do? If you're looking for more Lunar Chronicles goodness, this should do the trick for you. For those wondering, Vol. 2 comes out in January.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those who have read the entire Lunar Chronicles series, Lunar Chronicles fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five sassy androids

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Book Review: Amberlough

TITLE: Amberlough
Book 1 in The Amberlough Dossier series
AUTHOR: Lara Elena Donnelly
PUBLISHED: February 7th, 2017
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A group of people survive as best they can in a war-torn country...
MY REVIEW: This book has been on my radar for a bit and now that I've read it, I'm really sad it's not more popular then it has been, because it was pretty damn good and sadly very relevant considering current events.
The basic gist is that this is part Caberet/Casablanca set in a fantasy world with two countries constantly at war with each other. A majority of it is politics so if that's not your thing, you'll probably not be terribly interested. But I love stuff like this, so this book was right up my alley.
In short, I loved this one. The writing is good, characters are fascinating, and though it does drag here and there, ultimately the pay-off at the end is worth it. It also looks like this is now going to be a series and I for one am thrilled about that.
WHO SHOULD READ: fantasy fans, Caberet/Casablanca fans, those that like political fantasy type of books
MY RATING: Four out of Five sassy spies

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Book Review: Jane, Unlimited

TITLE: Jane, Unlimited
AUTHOR: Kristin Cashore
PUBLISHED: September 19th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasyish...
PREMISE: A girl gets invited to her friend's mansion and presented with choices...
MY REVIEW: This book is very much a quirky book. So I will point out: it won't be for everyone. That's probably why its gotten so many mixed reviews on Goodreads. It doesn't follow the typical plot of a book. Instead, Cashore modeled this after old-school choose your own adventure books. One adventure goes into a mystery, another a spy thriller, then there's a fantasy type one, and so on.
I found this one very interesting to read, and ultimately I liked it. But I imagine some people won't like the quirky way it's written, the quirky meta sense of humor, etc. But again....I did like it. So I think this will just ultimately come down to a matter of personal taste.
I definitely give Cashore props, because this was one of the more interesting YA books I read this year. I am all for authors taking more risks and playing around with different ways of telling a story. Cashore definitely did that here. It worked well for me. But again, this is one of those books that I think will not appeal to everyone, so I suggest checking it out of the library first, to see if it's for you.
WHO SHOULD READ: Kristin Cashore fans, gothic mystery fans, fans of the old choose-your-own-adventure books
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five quirky books

Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

TITLE: Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Book 2 in the Wayward Children series
AUTHOR: Seanan McGuire
PUBLISHED: June 13th, 2017
CATEGORY: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: In a companion to Every Heart a Doorway, we get to learn about the twins' past.
MY REVIEW: Every Heart a Doorway was a favorite of mine last year, so I've been looking forward to the sequel since I heard about it. I'm happy to say, it did not disappoint. It's more of a companion then a sequel. This one goes into the sisters Jack and Jill and their story. We got hints of it in the first book, but this one gives us full details and it's great.
As with Every Heart a Doorway, my one complaint about this series is that the books are too short. I'm selfish and want longer books. But I am impressed with how tightly McGuire weaves the story and it never actually feels rushed, despite it being under two hundred pages.
If you were like me, you'll no doubt love this second book. It looks like we're getting a third book in January, that promises to be a direct sequel to Every Heart a Doorway and I cannot wait.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire fans, vampire fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five creepy fantasy worlds

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Book Review: They Both Die At the End

TITLE: They Both Die At the End
AUTHOR: Adam Silvera
CATEGORY: Young Adult
PUBLISHED: September 5th, 2017
GENRE: Dystopianish, Romance
PREMISE: In a world where you get called a day before you die, Mateo and Rufus both receive calls and meet on an app designed give comfort to those about to die.
MY REVIEW: I'm a little late to the Adam Silvera bandwagon. I just read History is All You Left Me earlier this year and it was a favorite, now I have another favorite. So expect a review of More Happy Than Not in the future. If you are familiar with Silvera, you probably already know: this one will make you cry.
Surprisingly, this one reminded me a bit of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. It has that people meeting randomly thing, you knowing ahead of time it's going to end sadly but wanting them together anyway, them getting together beautifully and then you being sad when the sad ending comes. It's all very seize the dayish and great characters and yeah, I liked this one a lot. Sad as it was (and it is so sad guys. The title is not a lie).
So Silvera gets me again with another great book. Looks like we're getting another one from him next year (that he co-wrote with Becky Albertalli!!!!!!) and apparently a fantasy book of some sort is in the works (here for that). I am officially on the Silvera train. Sign me up for all his books in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Adam Silvera fans, The Sun is Also a Star fans, those who like books that rip your heart out
MY RATING: Four out of Five tissue warnings

Monday, November 27, 2017

Book Review: Sex Object

TITLE: Sex Object, A Memoir
AUTHOR: Jessica Valenti
PUBLISHED: June, 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essays, Feminism
PREMISE: A collection of essays from columnist Jessica Valenti that center around the ways in which sex has effected her and other women.
MY REVIEW: Jessica Valenti has been around for quite awhile, but I confess...I've never read her books. I've been meaning too, it just never happened until now. After reading this one, I'll definitely be looking into her other books.
For those trying to wrap your minds around Weinstein, Moore, Franken etc. I definitely recommend picking this one up if you are wondering how exactly we got here. There is a lot of stuff in here that is pretty timely and some of these essays were written quite a few years ago. Oh and FYI, women have actually been calling out sexual harassment stuff for quite awhile now. Stop acting like the news that there's a rape culture out there is somehow brand new information. We've been telling you about it for years now. You're just now finally forced to acknowledge it because the media finally decided to pay attention to it.
I should get back to the book...anyway, there are a lot of great essays in this one. The most notable ones for me are the essays titled Subways and Grilled Cheese. If you want to really get angry at people, Valenti ends the book with some of the comments she's received online from people about the essays. All I can say is...wow.
WHO SHOULD READ: Feminists, those reading up on rape culture
MY RATING: Four out of Five thought provoking essays

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Book Review: At the Edge of the Universe

TITLE: At the Edge of the Universe
AUTHOR: Shaun Hutchinson
PUBLISHED: February 7th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Science-Fictionish, Contemporary
PREMISE: Tommy remembers Ozzie, his boyfriend. Everyone else...does not.
MY REVIEW: I read We Are the Ants last year and promptly fell in love with it. It was one of those books I picked up on a whim, not expecting much, and it just sort crept up on me and suddenly it was a favorite. This is the second book by Hutchinson that I've read and I think its cemented him as a favorite author for me.
This kind of has the same idea as We Are the Ants: there's a possible major world catastrophe going on in the background as a guy goes through life trying to figure things out. You don't know if it's in his head or actually real and honestly....don't get many answers in the end, so for that....it's a tad frustrating. But character wise...this book packs as much of a punch as We Are the Ants.
If you're not into sci-fi, don't let that element of the book turn you off of this. It plays very little into the story. A majority of this story is character development and typical contemporary drama stuff. It is very much of a slow burn of a book, but the pay off at the end is worth it.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of We Are the Ants, Magical Realism fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five disappearing universes

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Book Review: Flame in the Mist

TITLE: Flame in the Mist
Book 1 in a new series
AUTHOR: Renee Ahdieh
PUBLISHED: May 16th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl disguises herself as a man after she is attacked to find out who tried to kill her.
MY REVIEW: Flame in the Mist and the way it was received is a perfect example of how poor marketing and blurbs can hurt your book. This was billed as a Japanese retelling of Mulan. And...it isn't. The only thing it has in common with Mulan is that there's a girl dressed up as a guy. Everything else from why she's dressed that way, to the story, is not at all Mulan. I get why the blurb writer tried doing that, because a lot of people are fans of Mulan. But its misleading and that led to a lot of people being disappointed. And when fans are disappointed....they tend to get harsher when reviewing books. Seriously, don't piss off your readers guys, it's just not a good idea. Another issue was that people were getting upset at the idea of Mulan being retold with Japanese elements (something about cultural appropriation, I think) and I bet we maybe wouldn't have had all of that if it didn't market itself as a Mulan retelling. Which...again...it wasn't. So just...be careful how you market your books, okay?
So as for the book itself....it was just okay for me. It has a pretty solid plot. The characters are interesting and world is well developed. The weaving of Japanese myth into the fantasy world was probably one of my favorite aspects. The romance....was there. The ending...was a good lead in for the second book.
For the most part, I was pretty okay with this book. It's not the most remarkable thing I've ever read. I've certainly read worse. Just please, don't go into this expecting a Japanese Mulan retelling. You will be disappointed.
WHO SHOULD READ: Renee Ahdieh fans, Japanese mythology fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs

Friday, November 24, 2017

Book Review: Moxie

TITLE: Moxie
AUTHOR: Jennifer Mathieu
PUBLISHED: September 19th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A girl gets fed up with the rampant sexism in her school and starts a feminist zine to fight back.
MY REVIEW: When I heard the premise for this book I was both very nervous and very excited for it. I was excited for it because we are now actually in a place where YA is bluntly talking about and embracing feminism. That is amazing to me and I'm very happy about it. I was wary about it because I was afraid it was going to be what I call faux feminism (or White Feminism depending on the situation): it would be all about empowerment to an extent. I will give the author credit: she did try to emphasize that feminism should be inclusive.
For the most part I liked this book. It is a very basic introduction to feminism. If this is what it takes to get girls to realize feminism doesn't mean hating men and is not the evilness their friends have probably assured them it is, I'll take it. Seriously that conversation the main character has with her friend where the friend is all "I just like...don't hate men. I'm into like, equality! So I'm not a feminist"? Yeah, I've had way too many conversations like that. Guys, if you're into equality, congratulations: you're a feminist. Because that is what feminism is. Do some research, okay? A lot of the stereotypes out there about feminists are in fact bullshit made up by anti-feminists. Not to say the movement is perfect, it isn't, we need to work on our crap same as everyone else. But a lot of the stereotypes you hear are usually not even remotely true.
I just have two issues with this book. One: it's not subtle at like all. The sexism in this book is very in your face and easy to spot. Which, okay, I get it. But here's the thing: a lot of the sexism nowadays? Is not easy to spot. It's subtle and done in little ways so that the person can go "oh that's not sexism, you're making a big deal out of nothing!" It's like racism: it got coded and is done such away so that people can hand wave it away if they feel like ignoring it and don't want you calling them out on crap. I really wish the book had gone into more of the subtle ways sexism gets perpetuated in our society today.
The second issue I have is it does try to say your feminism needs to be inclusive...but it sort of does it as an afterthought. Like there are token characters of representation here and there and the character goes "oh yeah, inclusiveness is important!" and then goes right back to focusing more on the straight white females of the story. Perhaps if there's a sequel, the author can focus more on that bit.
So it's got issues. I wish the author had done a little more then what she did. But at the same time I appreciate that we're even getting this book at all. The plot is a solid one. It definitely gets the message across. In short it did its job. So...all in all I'm satisfied with it.
WHO SHOULD READ: Feminists, contemporary fans not scared off by feminism being in their books
MY RATING: Four out of Five Moxie Girls

Note about Notable Releases: Here's the thing about November and December in book world: there are usually no really big releases during those months. For the next few weeks or so there are only about one or two books I'm mildly interested in during this month so it's not really necessary for me to do notable releases right now. So it's on a brief hiatus until the beginning of 2018 and you get all the January releases. And there are so many books in January guys. SO. MANY.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

TITLE: When Dimple Met Rishi
AUTHOR: Sandhya Menon
PUBLISHED: May 30th, 2017
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: A girl meets her betrothed at a convention. The only problem? She doesn't want to be betrothed.
MY REVIEW: This is one of those books everyone and their mother has been raving about around the YA book community. To be fair: I get it. It is a very charming book. I just suspect I wasn't the right audience for it. This is for those who just want a true epic romance that doesn't really tackle much else.
I do think the author tried to tackle other things. I see issues floating about in here such as cultural conflicts, girls in tech, sexism in the tech industry, etc. But...the author didn't spend enough time on those issues and kept pushing them aside in favor of the cute romance. On one hand: it is romance so I get it. On the other hand: this stuff is pretty big stuff...so it all kind of felt really out of place in what was otherwise a very fluffy romance. I sort of felt like there were two books here that the author had been working on. One was the cute romance sort of talking about generational conflicts in Indian culture. The other was the one about a cute romance dealing with girls in tech. The two plots...didn't really gel well for me and the book sort of suffered as a result.
If one ignores that the author didn't really touch on issues very well and just focuses on the cute romance part...this book was decent. The dialogue is nice and snappy, characters are fleshed out, the romance is cute. The author just needs to work on her plotting a little better because a lot of this book dragged and again, it suffered from too many ideas going on that didn't blend well together. I do think Menon is promising though. I will be checking out her books in the future when I just want cute romances.
WHO SHOULD READ: Bollywood movie fans, Romance fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five cute romances that did the job

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Book Review: Never Caught

TITLE: Never Caught: The Washington's Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
AUTHOR: Erica Armstrong Dunbar
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
PUBLISHED: February 7th, 2017
GENRE: History
PREMISE: A non-fiction book that looks into the slave Ona Judge, who ran away from George and Martha Washington.
MY REVIEW: I wanted to read this one almost as soon as I heard about it. Most people do not go into the fact that the founding fathers owned slaves. In fact, some people go out of their way to ignore it. Or try to paint it in a rosy "well, they treated them with kindness so it was like...okay!" light. Look at all the ways people try to romanticize Jefferson having sex with his slaves (or in some cases, outright say it didn't happen because that doesn't fit their world view of Jefferson).
For the most part, I did like this one a lot. Unfortunately...it didn't go enough into Ona Judge's story. I think the author just didn't have enough solid information. Half of the stuff about Ona is in fact, speculation on the author's part. Logical speculation, sure. She does present all the facts she has and show you how she comes to her conclusions...but ultimately....it's speculation.
The far more interesting thing to me here was the deep look into pre-Civil War attitudes about slavery. I really wish the book had actually been more about this, because that a) had solid information and b) was just more interesting because it is a thing that most people just don't go into. It was nice having a book that did not wax poetic about George Washington for a change. Sorry guys, he was flawed. All the founding fathers were flawed. Yes, they did great things. But they were also human beings with many faults. I personally would love a book that focused on the founding fathers and their views on slavery because there is a bit in this book that goes into it a little and it's pretty fascinating (and also disturbing sometimes when you consider the mental gymnastics some of them had to have done to justify their views).
WHO SHOULD READ: those interested in american history
MY RATING: Four out of Five looks at things people don't often talk about

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

So You've Finally: Got caught up on Game of Thrones

So you've finally got caught up on Game of Thrones. You've read all of the Song of Ice and Fire books and you've realized you probably have quite a long wait before you get new content from both the show and the books. Well, here are some things that I think GoT fans might be interested in reading next:

You're curious about reading more from George R. R. Martin

Dreamsongs series by George R. R. Martin

Martin has written a ton of short stories. Some in the Game of Thrones universe, some not. Dreamsongs collects a whole bunch of those short stories into one collection. So far there are three books.







You loved the warrior women in the series and kind of wished the series focused only on them:

The Conqueror's Saga by Kiersten White

If you want more women fighting and taking names, I recommend this alternate history series where Vlad the Impaler was actually a female. It's as awesome as it sounds.







You. Want. Dragons.

Temeraire series by Naomi Novik

Looking for a long dragon series to sink your teeth into? I recommend this alternate history series where dragons were involved in the Napoleon wars. Have not personally read this myself, but I've heard great things and it sounds perfect for dragon fans.






More dark fantasy please:

First Law series by Joe Abercrombie

If you want your fantasy to be grimdark, this is definitely one to go too.









You like Jon Snow, okay?:

Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

From the looks of things, all Robin Hobb's books will be good for Game of Thrones fans. But if you're particularly invested in Jon Snow, this trilogy looks like it'll do the trick.







You're in it for Tyrion:

Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch

I have not personally read this series yet (look, I have a huge TBR list okay?) but from the sound of things, Tyrion would get on well with the characters of these books.







You just want another fantasy epic to sink your teeth into while you wait for more Game of Thrones:

The Riyria Revelations series by Michael J. Sullivan

From the sound of things this series has all the plots and twists of Game of Thrones and also has that really long story thing going on.








As much as you liked Game of Thrones, you would have liked a) more women, and b) more humor:

Rat Queens graphic novel series by Kurtis J. Wiebe

If you want more snark and humor with your fantasy as well as more awesome women, I recommend this comic series from Image about a group of female mercenaries in a fantasy world.








Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Review: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls

TITLE: The Gallery of Unfinished Girls
AUTHOR: Lauren Karcz
CATEGORY: YA
PUBLISHED: July 25th, 2017
GENRE: Magical Realism
PREMISE: A girl deals with difficulty in her life while meeting a mysterious artist who helps her and others with their creativity...
MY REVIEW: I know what you all are thinking: you keep saying you don't like magical realism....but you keep picking them up???? I don't know either guys, it's a thing with me. This genre disappoints me over and over again, but they make their plots sound so interesting and so I think "hmm...well maybe this one will be good!" because for every nine magical realism books I hate, there's one I actually don't mind. So...I keep picking them up despite getting burned over and over again. It's an issue, I know that.
This one had all the usual problems I have with magical realism: slow plot, nothing much going on, great idea for magical bit but not much of an explanation for how magical bit is going on. But, it also had beautiful writing and meaningful character development. So...I'm torn on this one. At least with this one there was a bit of a point to it.
I think whether you like this will just depend on personal taste. I didn't mind this one, but also didn't completely love it.
WHO SHOULD READ: magical realism fans, contemporary fans, artists
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five unfinished portraits

Book Review: Etched in Bone

TITLE: Etched in Bone
Book 5 in the Others series
AUTHOR: Anne Bishop
CATEGORY: Adult
PUBLISHED: March 7th, 2017
GENRE: Urban Fantasy/Alternate History
PREMISE: Things in the Others series finally come to a head...
MY REVIEW: Have you ever had a series give great build-up only to get to the end and go "really? That's it?"? Well, that is sadly me with The Others series. It pains me to say this too, because I really loved this series.
The first problem is: this book is really slow. I know, I've said that with all the books. But with this one....that slowness was doubled down on to the point that when I got to the ending, I was a little confused and didn't realize I had read the ending. Turns out, I actually haven't. See, now there's going to be new books in this series, but it's going to deal with new characters. I suspect this was a last minute decision and that caused this last book to suffer because the author had to change things. I might read the new book next year, I might not. We'll see how I feel next year.
So yeah...I don't know guys. I still like this series. I recommend it for all who like in depth world-building and don't mind slow-burn plots. Emphasis on slow. But this last book....yeah, I kind of get the feeling that author didn't really know what she wanted to do with it and the book suffered from an anti-climatic ending as a result.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first four books, Anne Bishop fans, fantasy readers who don't mind slow plots
RATING FOR THIS BOOK: Three and a half out of Five disappointed sad sighs
RATING FOR SERIES (I'm counting the first five books as their own series #don'tcare): Four out of Five

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Book Review: Proxy

TITLE: Proxy
Book 1 in a series
AUTHOR: Alex London
PUBLISHED: 2013
CATEGORY: YA
GENRE: Dystopian
PREMISE: Two boys from different sides get caught up in a rebellion in a dystopian future.
MY REVIEW: This is one of those books that has been on my radar for awhile, it just has taken me awhile to get to it. Look, there are a lot of books I want to read okay? My TBR list would make you weep from the sheer size of it.
For the most part, this is pretty typical dystopian stuff. Once again, I notice it talks about class issues and privilege better then Sandcastle Empire did. I know, I know, one day I will stop ranting about that book. But today will not be that day. One thing that really sets it apart from other dystopians is the dynamic between Knox and Syd. There are definite inspirations drawn from The Whipping Boy here and it works rather well.
This is not a unique book by any means, but it is interesting, has a solid plot and issues that it brings up and talks about fairly well. Looks like the author has another book coming next year that looks interesting and there is a sequel to this book. I look forward to eventually reading both.
WHO SHOULD READ: those looking for LGBT dystopian books, fans of The Whipping Boy and Feed, Dystopian fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting dystopian societies

Friday, November 10, 2017

Author Review: Rebecca Solnit

TITLES OF BOOKS: Hope in the Dark
Men Explain Things To Me
The Mother of All Questions
AUTHOR: Rebecca Solnit
PUBLISHED: 2004, 2014, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essays, Articles, Feminism
PREMISE: In three of her books, Solnit discusses various issues surrounding politics, feminism, and activism.
MY REVIEW: Over the past few months I've been reading through these three books by Rebecca Solnit. For those who have no idea who Solnit is, you probably know or have used a term she coined: Mansplaining. That term is credited to her essay Men Explain Things to Me. She's also a frequent columnist on many websites, including LitHub.
I specifically want to talk about Men Explain Things to Me though, because mansplaining has been a thing getting a lot of flack lately around the internet. Mostly from men, but not always. First, I'd like to point out, Solnit herself is not altogether pleased by how much the term has been overused. She says as much in some endnotes after the Men Explain Things to Me essay. So maybe put your misandry claims away, okay? Second, I think people frankly deliberately misunderstand what the term means. No, it does not mean men can't explain stuff ever. If a woman actually asks for your opinion and you are actually educated and know a thing or two about the subject, go ahead and talk about it! We won't care. Because that's not mansplaining.
Mansplaining is a man making the assumption that a woman can't possibly know this one brilliant thing they know and so proceed to condescendingly explain the thing to us. Yes, sometimes females do this to people too (geeks of all shapes and forms tend to do this to new fans I've discovered and guys, seriously, cut it out). But it is not quite at the same rate as men do it to women. I see you men going "well wait, then how do I know if I'm mansplaining or not?" It's very simple: did the woman ask for your opinion and do you actually know a thing or two about the subject? No to both or one of those questions? You are probably mansplaining. Stop.
Men Explain Things to Me is probably the best of all the essays. But there are a whole lot of really good ones. Hope in the Dark is also incredibly interesting to read at times because it features essays written during the Bush years and it's like a peek back in time to what was going on then. I'm still wrapping my mind around the fact that it's been over a decade since some of the early Bush years.
WHO SHOULD READ: feminists, those interested in social justice issues or politics
MY RATING FOR ALL OF THE BOOKS: Four out of Five satisfied nods