Monday, May 29, 2017

Reading Through the (Modern) Classics: The Gunslinger

TITLE: The Gunslinger
Book 1 in The Dark Tower series
AUTHOR: Stephen King
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A man pursues another man in a mysterious western fantasy world..
MY THOUGHTS: Okay, unpopular opinion time: not a huge fan of Stephen King. I like the ideas he comes up with. He has great concepts. I even like King himself, because from the interviews I've seen him in...he's a pretty cool dude. Those interviews and the cool concepts make me really wish I liked his books more. But of the two (and with this one, now three) I've read....I've come to the conclusion his books just aren't for me.
First....his treatment of female characters is frankly....ick. I forgot that but after I started this, I remembered right away why I haven't picked up one of his books in like five years. This one was definitely different from his other two I've read (Hearts in Atlantis and Carrie for those interested). But it still had the same issues I've found with his work: boring writing style, characters that feel more like ideas of characters then actual characters, and a fantasy world that also feels more like an idea then an actual fantasy world. That ultimately is always my issue with his books: they always feel like unfinished drafts of things that need to be worked on much more then they were.
Now, I know some people have said this gets better as it goes on and there's a big plan and yadda yadda yadda. I'm sure it does. I mean, there has to be some reason it has all the fans it does. But me personally? Yeah, sorry, I have zero interest in continuing. I think it's time I just face facts: I'm probably never going to be a Stephen King fan.
WHO SHOULD READ: Stephen King fans, fantasy fans who don't mind very vague world-building

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit

TITLE: A Closed and Common Orbit
Book 2 in the Wayfarers series
AUTHOR: Becky Chambers
PUBLISHED: October 2016
GENRE: Science-Fiction
PREMISE: Lovelace wakes up in a new body and tries to adjust to her new life...
MY REVIEW: So I finally read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet a few months ago and enjoyed it a lot. So I picked up the sequel. This one is...a bit different from the first book, in terms of format. This one jumps back and forth between Lovelace's story and the story of a girl named Jane who appears to be a clone of some sort.
At first I was confused by why we were doing this. I enjoyed both stories but I kept thinking WHY? Then when I got to the ending, it became clear. It's sort of like with Holes where the alternating stories don't seem to have much to do with one another, but by the end it all ties up beautifully.
As with the first book, this one isn't terribly action heavy. It's mostly a character study focus. So again: if you read sci-fi for big epic space battles....probably not going to be your thing. But if you loved the first one, this one should really please you as well.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, sci-fi fans who love character studies
MY RATING: Four out of Five space crews

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Notable Book Releases: 5/21-5/27

Here are some of the notable releases from this past week. Edit: Not sure what happened down below with formatting. But I fixed now. I hope...


Woohoo! New Stranje House book! I adore this silly but fun historical romance series. 

The latest Mortal Instruments universe book. You know how I keep saying I was going to quit this series? Yeah...I'm feeling the need to pick them up again. Damn this series' pull.

Cage Book 3: The Gauntlet by Megan Shepherd.

The Cage trilogy draws to a close. I still need to read the second book. I never got to it last year. Look, there were a lot of books last year, okay?

Adult Fiction

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

So apparently someone found a manuscript of this book after Crichton's death and...I don't know. I never really feel comfortable reading books that an author possibly never actually wanted to get published (looking at you Go Set a Watchman). But...there might be fans who are interested, so here you go.

The popular series returns with another installment. Also, FYI there's apparently a movie coming. 

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

New book from the author of the really creepy book Bird Box. Also taking those low goodreads ratings with a grain of salt because most of it seems to be "this isn't as good as Bird Box!" whines, with no real reason given for why it's not as good. See, this is why I side-eye Goodread reviews a lot, positive or negative. 

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Awesome looking alternate history debut that's been getting some buzz.


Book featuring short bios on 22 people you probably didn't know/weren't told were part of the LGBTQA community.

Graphic novels/Manga

Josie and the Pussycats Vol. 1 TP
The Books of Magic Vol. 1 TP
Moonshine Vol. 1 TP
No Mercy Vol. 3 TP
Princess Jellyfish Vol. 4 manga
Moon Knight Vol. 2: Reincarnations TP
Unworthy Thor TP

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book Review: By Your Side

TITLE: By Your Side
AUTHOR: Kasie West
PUBLISHED: January 31rst, 2017
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: A boy and a girl spend a few days locked in a library together. It blooms into a romance of sorts...
MY REVIEW: I've been meaning to look into West's contemporary fiction for awhile now. I've read her Pivot Point Duology and I remember enjoying it a bit. I saw this latest one in the library and figured, why not?
It's pretty typical YA romance stuff. Boy and girl forced to spend time together. Love blooms. Each have things they're dealing with. Friends and family make the romance more complicated then it needs to be, stir till fluffy. I did appreciate that West did not have the friends be horrible. I kept waiting for that moment when we'd get the typical bashing of the popular kids thing that tends to happen in books like this, but it actually never came. That was a pleasant surprise. There was also a nice female friendship in there, and no slut shaming. The love interest wasn't a total douche. It was a romance I could get behind. It doesn't sound like much, but you'd be amazed at how few YA contemporaries manage to pass this incredibly low bar that I have.
In short, it was a typical YA romance with a contemporary setting. If you want something that is light and fluffy, this will probably do the trick for you.
WHO SHOULD READ: Kasie West fans, those looking for cute romances to read
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five cute couples I can root for

Monday, May 22, 2017

Reading Through the Classics: Four Anton Chekhov Plays

TITLE: The Seagull
Uncle Vanya
Three Sisters
The Cherry Orchard
AUTHOR: Anton Chekhov
PUBLISHED: 1895, 1897, 1900. 1904
GENRE: Realistic Fiction/Family Drama
MY THOUGHTS: So I recently took the plunge into plays, and one of my ongoing projects this year is to read through the ones being put on Broadway this season (I'm really excited about the Tonys, FYI). There are two Chekhov plays being done. One of them is The Cherry Orchard. The only copy my library had was a volume that was a bind-up of these four plays. Which is fine, these were also on my TBR list.
Of all four of them...I think Cherry Orchard was the best. Chekhov does a lot of focus on family drama things. There's probably some commentary on Russian things that I'm missing due to not knowing much about Russian history as well.
If you're just getting into Russian lit, I think Chekhov is a great place to start. I say this as someone also very new to it. His writing is easy to understand and quick to get through. You don't have to know everything about Russia to get his plays. So for those of us who may have been say...intimidated by Russian lit in the past (I fully blame Tolstoy. Trying Anna Karenina first, was probably not my wisest choice), Chekhov is a nice gateway into Russian lit.
WHO SHOULD READ: Theater nerds, Russian lit fans

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: This One Summer

TITLE: This One Summer
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
CATEGORY: Graphic Novels
GENRE: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Two girls have a memorable/drama-filled summer at their annual family vacation spot.
MY REVIEW: Every family has that one vacation spot they probably went to frequently, at least when they were kids. My family always went to a lake in West Virginia where my grandmother had a house. To this day, I'm still not sure how that house came in our family's possession (it's since been sold) but I have very fond memories of spending Forth of July there. This graphic novel reminds me a lot of those summers.
In that way, it's a perfect summer read. The art style is very interesting. At first I didn't like it much, but as the story progressed, I realized it actually suits the story very well. There are lot of topics covered in this as Rose and Windy spend their summer lazing about. Some of it was dealt with kind of vaguely, but for the most part...this was a pretty well-done one-shot story.
If you're looking for some graphic novels to take on a trip, I highly recommend this one.
WHO SHOULD READ: YA contemporary fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five summer lakes

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Notable Book Releases: 5/14-5/20

First off: apologies for no release post last week. Honestly, there were only like two books I was interested in, and the rest I didn't think anyone would particularly care about. So I didn't think a post was terribly necessary for two books. I suppose that's what happens when you have a big opening week beforehand.
But there are lots of interesting things this week, so here we go:


Flame in the Mist Book 1 by Renee Ahdieh

A Mulan retelling from the author of Wrath and the Dawn? Bring it.

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

LGBTQA book that looks really fun. I'm ignoring those ratings on Goodreads for now because I've found when it comes to LGBTQA books (or any book not featuring a white protagonist or be a YA book not featuring romance) the ratings can be very suspect.

Riders Book 2: Seeker by Veronica Rossi

Sequel to last year's Riders which...I still have mixed feelings about, so I'm not sure if I'll be getting to this one. But for those that liked it, the sequel is out.

The Crown's Game Book 2: The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye

I'll be honest: I did not like The Crown's Game. It was a DNF book for me from last year. A very disappointing DNF because I loved the premise but the writing and basically everything...was just so bland for me. But I am apparently in the minority on this feeling, so I'm letting those that liked the first book know the sequel is out.

Adult Fiction

Large Animals by Jess Arndt

A short story debut that has been getting some buzz around the lit sphere.


The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

True crime memoir type book that has been getting some buzz.

City of Light, City of Poison by Holly Tucker

Talk about crime solving in Paris during the 1600s? I'm in. I also want a Netflix series or PBS/BBC costume drama about it.

How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra  and Abigail Pesta

Looks like this one is going to be the heart-wrenching memoir of the summer. 

Comics/Manga releases

Free Country: A Tale of the Children's Crusade TP
Supergirl Vol. 1: Reign of the Cyborg Supermen TP
Spider-man Spider-Gwen Sitting in a Tree TP

Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: Ink and Bone

TITLE: Ink and Bone
Book 1 in The Great Library series
AUTHOR: Rachel Caine
PUBLISHED: July 2015
GENRE: Alternate history, Dystopianish
PREMISE: In a world where the Library of Alexandria never burned but lived on to become a world dominating power, a boy is sent to the library for training...
MY REVIEW: I've been meaning to read this series forever because the premise sounds so amazing and Caine is one of those authors who has great premises, even if her plots are usually average. This one though...I actually think this one might be her best series yet. It not only lived up to its awesome premise, but it exceeded my expectations.
This has a lot of what made Morganville Vampires so entertaining: interesting variety of characters, different premise that you don't see everyday, fast pace with lots of things going on, and snappy dialogue. But it's also much better in that there's not lots of focus on love drama. There's romance but that is secondary to this big plot with the library.
Honestly, I'm hard-pressed to find anything really bad about it. About all I can say is the writing is average. But the quality of the story is very very high. I really wish I'd gotten to this one much sooner. But now that means I don't have to wait long to get to the end so, best laid plans.
WHO SHOULD READ: Rachel Caine fans, those who like alternate histories/dystopians
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five scary librarians

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: Rebel Genuis

TITLE: Rebel Genius
Book 1 in the Geniuses series
AUTHOR: Michael Dante DiMartino
PUBLISHED: October 2016
CATEGORY: Middle-Grade
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: In a world where artists have the ability to create life with art, a boy joins a group of people rebelling against the queen...
MY REVIEW: I admit, I had probably too high expectations for this one. In my defense, when you tell me that one of the creators of Avatar: the Last Airbender has written a book...I'm going to have high expectations. Because I freaking loved Avatar.
Unfortunately...this one was one of those that had a great world....but not such an original plot. I could honestly predict what was going to happen from the first chapter and that's...not good. The author does try, but it really misses all that heart and subverting of tropes that Avatar had. Which kind of makes me think, DiMartino is mostly responsible for the world-building aspect of Avatar and not the writing. Which is fine, we all have our strengths. I did love the world in this.
I just didn't really love the plot and found the characters...lacking to say the least. It's like a movie where you can see what the writer/director was going for...but there's no feeling behind everything so you can't really connect with it. It's not bad...I suspect younger readers will very much enjoy this one, but for anyone whose looking for more depth or original plot...this one is probably not going to be for you. I honestly can only shrug sadly at this. It was just underwhelming.
WHO SHOULD READ: Younger fantasy readers
MY RATING: Three out of Five I wanted more from this feelings

Friday, May 12, 2017

Reading Through the Classics: North and South

TITLE: North and South
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Gaskell
CATEGORY: Classic, Adult
GENRE: Romance
PREMISE: A young woman moves to a new town after her father has a crisis of faith.
MY THOUGHTS: The first thing that popped into my mind as I read this was "this is kind of like Pride and Prejudice" honestly is basically a bit of a redux on it. Gaskell definitely does her own take on people falling in love despite differences of opinion on things. Things don't go down quite the same way. I'm not saying it's a rip-off or anything like that. can sort of tell, Gaskell got a lot of inspiration from Austen. As an Austen fan, I don't mind.
This one took the social commentary to higher levels then Austen did. But there was also still plenty of heart tugging romance. I definitely see why a lot of people fell for this story. There's lots going on, a lot of things to think about and the prose are great. Very wordy at times, like most of the classics are (daily reminder: a lot of authors back then were paid by the word. The books are wordy for a reason).
This was actually a rather enjoyable classic. I'll definitely be looking into Gaskell's other books in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Romance fans, Jane Austen fans, Bronte fans

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Review: The Stars Are Legion

TITLE: The Stars Are Legion
AUTHOR: Kameron Hurley
PUBLISHED: February 7th
GENRE: Science-Fiction
PREMISE: A woman is reborn into a civilization at war...
MY REVIEW: If that premise sounds vague to you, it's because I honestly have no idea how to explain this to people. Long story short: it's sci-fi where people get reborn constantly and they are at war with another civilization over a planet's resources. Oh, and everyone is female. Yes. Everyone. But somehow they all still manage to give birth. There was a bit of a hand-wavy explanation for how.
This was my first experience with Hurley's fiction writing. I'd just recently read her Geek Feminist Revolution book and in it she talks about her writing process and inspirations a lot. That made me very interested in picking up her fiction books, so I just picked up her latest one. it but I also have issues with it. Namely the world-building is...a tad confusing at times. The character building is great. I also really like her writing style. But I had problems picturing things because the world-building felt vague to me. So that was a bit frustrating. Also...I won't lie: this book is dark and at times very violent. Think Game of Thrones style violence but in space. So if you're squeemish, I'd proceed with caution.
So yeah, I liked the idea of this one...I'm just not sure about the overall execution. I really wouldn't read this if you're brand new to sci-fi. There are much easier introductions to the genre. But if after you've gotten your feet a bit wet, and want some more LGBTQA sci-fi in your life...this isn't a bad one to pick up.
WHO SHOULD READ: veteran Sci-Fi fans, Kameron Hurley fans, Game of Thrones fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five wars

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Book Review: Dreadnaught

TITLE: Dreadnought
Nemesis Series Book 1
AUTHOR: April Daniels
PUBLISHED: January 24rth, 2017
GENRE: Superheroes, Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A trans girl gets not only the body she's always wanted, but superpowers as well. With the superpowers comes all sorts of new problems...
MY REVIEW: I don't know about anyone else, but I wanted to read this one the minute I heard about it. For the most part it did not disappoint. I will put a bit of a trigger warning on this one though: Danny faces a LOT of transphobia in this book. She gets it from her parents, her supposed best friend, and there's even a gross TERF on the superhero team that tries to recruit her. The author makes it very clear this transphobia is wrong and whatnot. But it's still quite a bit and I imagine it might be triggering for some. So I'm going to just let people know before they dive in.
If you think you can handle that though, this is a great read. It does deal with Danny and her going through the pains of coming out as trans and how that effects her life, but you then also have the superhero plot and that's also very interesting. It's a bit meta at times actually and I really love that aspect of the book.
All in all this was a good read and a very strong debut. At times the writing felt a tad...juvenile, like it was maybe meant for middle-grade originally. But overall, this was exactly what I wanted from this book. It looks like we're getting a sequel in July and I have to say, I look forward to it.
WHO SHOULD READ: those looking for more trans representation in their books, superhero fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five capes

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: Letters to a Young Muslim

TITLE: Letters to a Young Muslim
AUTHOR: Omar Saif Ghobash
PUBLISHED: January 3rd, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essays?
PREMISE: An ambassador talks to his son via letters about what it is to be Muslim in this day and age.
MY REVIEW: I first heard about this book through The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Which lately, has been on fire with its interviews and non-fiction book recommendations. My non-fiction TBR list has exploded these past few months thanks to them.
This was a very interesting read. I do not really know much about the Muslim religion beyond the very basics (there's praying five times a day, the head scarves are for religious reasons; do not bother people about them etc.) so this gave a lot of insight into the religion itself. As the author was also an ambassador, he wrote a lot about how things in the Middle East came to be and that was very illuminating. Because honestly...we aren't taught enough about the situation in the Middle East, despite the fact that we constantly hear about it in the news.
This is a very heavy, thinkers type of read. It's a small and fast read but it packs quite a punch and gives you a lot of food for thought. I say that overall, it was a job well done.
WHO SHOULD READ: Anyone interested
MY RATING: Four out of Five thought provoking letters

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Notable Releases: 4/30-5/6

Here are all the notable releases from this past week that are on my radar, are books I think people might want to know about, or are just big buzzy books of the moment. I apologize for how late this is, I have been working steadily since Wednesday, or have had family things, so there's been very little free time.


To All the Boys Book 3: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

I am very much a newcomer to Han (I only discovered her just last year) but this final book in the Lara Jean series has definitely been on my anticipated list for the year. Well, possible final book. I've learned to never say never with YA.

Release by Patrick Ness

Ness has recently climbed up the ranks in my favorite authors list. I'm very intrigued by this one which is billing itself as a cross between Mrs. Dalloway and Forever. Interesting mix.

Dream Fall Book 1 by Amy Plum

Amy Plum always has interesting ideas, so I'll definitely check out this new series from her at some point. Word on the street is that it's been optioned for TV.

Star Wars: Rebel Rising by Beth Revis

More Star Wars books to tide you over till the Last Jedi comes out. Seven more months guys. We're almost there.

Trials of Apollo Book 2: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Another highly anticipated release for me. Hidden Oracle was one of my favorite reads from last year and Riordan always delivers.

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

New Wein book! That is a prequel of sorts to Code Name Verity. This is an awesome book release week, I have to say.

Adult Fiction:

Divine Cities Book 3: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

Note to self: read the second book of the series. I did start it but I set it aside because of various things. I need to get back to it.

Girl With All the Gifts 2: The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey

Sequel to The Girl With All the Gifts! Huzzah!

Nikki Heat Book 9: Heat Storm by Richard Castle

If you've read both the Derek Storm series and the Nikki Heat books and thought "damn, I wished these two would meet". Well, the author has you covered.

London Underground Book 1: From Duke Till Dawn by Eva Leigh

Looking for your historical romance fix? Eva Leigh has you covered with a new series.

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon

Latest creepy thriller offering. Coming to you from the author of The Winter People.


The H Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness by Jill Filipovic

Interesting looking social commentary type book about women and happiness.

Jane Austen: The Secret Radical by Helena Kelly

A new look into Jane Austen that sounds potentially interesting.

This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

This week's celebrity memoir offering comes to you from the delightful actor from things like Push and Empire.

Graphic Novels/Manga:

Goldie Vance Vol. 2 TP
Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One TP
Ocean of Secrets vol. 1 manga
D. Gray Man Vol. 25 manga
Haikyu Vol. 11 manga
My Hero Academia Vol. 8
One Piece Vol. 82 (yes, 82. Good lord, One Piece)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: Hunted

TITLE: Hunted
AUTHOR: Meagan Spooner
GENRE: Fantasy/Retelling
PREMISE: A retelling of Beauty and the Beast mixed where the girl goes hunting for a beast that killed her father and discovers he's not what she expected...
MY REVIEW: I wanted to read this one the minute I heard about it as I've loved the books Meagan Spooner has done in the past and I believe this is her first solo book that I've read (she wrote another series before These Broken Stars apparently, which I have not gotten too yet). It did not disappoint. In fact, it actually surprised me because it is not only just a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it's an Ivan and the Wolf retelling as well. You would think those would be weird fairy tales to mash up but the author pulls it off and pulls it off well.
The romance is a bit insta loveish (on the Beast's part anyway) but that's kind of a trope of most fairy tales. Beauty and the Beast retellings can be tricky due to the whole is it stockholm syndrome thing, but the author very clearly makes it clear that Yeva's capture was not okay and even after the capture aspect is ended, they aren't in love yet. It does a lot to take that ickiness of the Beauty and the Beast romance out.
This is well written, Yeva and the Beast are great characters and I actually rooted for this couple (which is more then I can say for the last Beauty and the Beast retelling I read) so I say this was a job well done. I hope we get more solo Meagan Spooner books in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Meagan Spooner fans, Beauty and the Beast retelling fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five excellent fairy tale mash ups

Monday, May 1, 2017

Book Review: Red Vengeance

TITLE: Red Vengeance
Book 2 in the Black Widow series
AUTHOR: Margeret Stohl
PUBLISHED: October 2016
GENRE: Adventure, Superhero, Media tie-in
PREMISE: Natasha and Ava continue their adventures together...
MY REVIEW: Here's the thing about these Marvel/DC books that I've kind of learned: they're never really going to be ground breaking. Also, don't look for any kind of continuity, because on one hand I thought this series took place in the MCU but then suddenly Captain Marvel is there so honestly...I don't know. I think maybe it's some random Marvel AU verse where both the comics and the MCU events exist.
But the important thing about these tie-in novels is that they at least get the feel of the characters right and that, they do well. This definitely feels like a Black Widow type of adventure. It's incredibly fast paced like most Marvel things. There's lots of action and it tries to give some character stuff in between.
Ultimately, this book series is probably going to mostly appeal to hardcore Black Widow fans. If you're a fan of her comic book series, there are going to be lots of easter eggs in here that you'll probably enjoy. If you're only a fan of Black Widow through the might want to try her comics first.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read the first book, Black Widow fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five snarky Tony Starks