Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Book Review: Paper and Fire

TITLE: Paper and Fire
Book 2 in The Great Library series (yes series, it's apparently now going to be five books instead of 3. I'm cool with that)
AUTHOR: Rachel Caine
PUBLISHED: July 2016
GENRE: Dystopian/Alternate History
PREMISE: Jess and his friends continue their lives at the Library with the danger growing every day...
MY REVIEW: I am a late-comer to this awesome series. I should not have doubted Caine though, because the first book of this series was fantastic and this second book is just as good.
For those that have not picked it up yet: the series is basically about a world where the Library of Alexandria never burned but instead grew to be a global super power that controls everything. It has Caine's usual different cast of characters and fast paced plots and the result is an entertaining as hell series that should be getting way more attention then it is.
Apparently I'm the minority that loved the sequel. I will admit this one dragged a bit. But it did what it needed to do and gave you lots of plot development. So I'm personally very satisfied. And need the new book immediately, because that was a mean cliffhanger.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, Rachel Caine fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five fangirl squees because damn I love this series

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: The Vanishing Throne

TITLE: The Vanishing Throne
Book 2 in the Falconer series
AUTHOR: Elizabeth May
PUBLISHED: June 2016 (in the US)
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: After being trapped in the fae world, Aileana finally returns to her world only to discover three years have passed and the world is not as she left it...
MY REVIEW: So, remember years back when I reviewed The Falconer and really enjoyed it? Yeah, me neither. That book totally slipped my mind until I saw the third book in Barnes and Noble last month and went "wait, when did the second book get released?!" and so here we are.
The problem with picking up a second book after not reading the series after awhile is you sometimes forget details of the first book. But somehow, I managed to remember stuff. Or at least...important things so I was able to get the gist of what was going on in this book. And there was quite a bit going on. Literally every other chapter had some sort of plot development so I sped through this one in like a day.
This is much darker then the first book and leaves off at quite the cliff-hanger. Luckily the third book is out so I don't have to wait as long to finish that one up.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, those that like books about fae
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid plots.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Book Review: Royal Bastards

TITLE: Royal Bastards
AUTHOR: Andrew Shvarts
PUBLISHED: May 30th, 2017
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A group of bastard children band together to save their kingdom...
MY REVIEW: Sigh. I wanted to like this book so badly. To be fair to the author: if I turned off my brain while reading, and stopped noticing how literally EVERYTHING in this book has been done before, and didn't wind up comparing the two, I might have been able to enjoy it more. But sorry, I don't do that while reading. Or consuming any forms of entertainment really. I like to think about the story and all of that.
So, I'm sorry to say: I did not enjoy this one. The world building is paper-thin and again, stuff that has been done before. The characters are typical stock characters that again, I've seen done before (in much better, more fleshed out ways). Every story line I was able to call from chapter two. It was that predictable.  That's not even going into how awkward it was to have teenagers in a medieval fantasy setting using modern language and slang.
The story isn't offensive. Nothing bothered me. It's just SO BLAND. I'm honestly really surprised at the high rating this is getting on Goodreads. Because frankly, I personally can't give this book more then two and a half stars. That's even with me being lenient and taking into account that this is the author's first book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Eh...if you don't mind bland fantasy books?
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five this could have been so much better then it was feelings

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Notable Book Releases: 7/16-7/22

Here are all the releases from this past week that I'm interested in, are big buzzy books, or just general books of note:


In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

A new Brennan book pretty much always makes me happy. This one sounds just as interesting and unique as her other books.

The Xenith Trilogy Book 1: Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener

Sci-fi debut that looks like it might be good. It's been getting mixed reviews so we'll see.
Conspiracy of Us Book 3: The Ends of the World by Maggie Hall

This adventure series has been a fun race from the beginning. I'll be interested to see where it all leads.

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Interesting looking fantasy that apparently is drawing from Indian folklore.

The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride

Mystery that looks like it might possibly be good.

Adult Fiction

The Breakdown by B. A. Paris

This week's twisty thriller offering.

Comics/Manga trades

Backstagers vol. 1
The Amelia Cole Omnibus
Princess Jellyfish Vol. 5
Mighty Thor Vol. 3: Asgard/Shi'ar War
Ms Marvel Vol. 7: Damage Per Second
Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat Vol. 3
Punisher Vol. 2: End of the Line
US Avengers Vol. 1
Bleach Vol. 70
Case Closed Vol. 63
Blue Exorcist Vol. 17

Friday, July 21, 2017

Series Review: Flavia de Luce

SERIES: Flavia de Luce
1) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
2) The Weed That Strings the Handman's Bag
3) A Red Herring Without Mustard
4) I Am Half Sick of Shadows
5) Speaking From Among the Bones
6) The Dead and Their Vaulted Arches
7) As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
8) Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
AUTHOR: Alan Bradley
PUBLISHED: between 2009-present
CATEGORY: Packaged and sold as adult fiction, I say it's middle-grade but what can you do?
PREMISE: In 1950s England, in a small town, a precocious girl solves mysteries using logic and a love of science.
MY REVIEW: So last year I finally sat down and read the first book of this series and promptly fell in love. Since then I've been playing catch up and after getting to the eighth book last month, I finally am caught up. I'm still very much in love with it too.
Flavia de Luce is sort of a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Fisher pushed into the body of a tween. The result is a delightful main character. On top of Flavia is a colorful cast of family members, and small town characters, who are all very entertaining. Basically, it's like one of those BBC mystery shows in book form, starring a awesome little girl.
The last book left off at quite a place so I'm very eager to get my hands on the next book which is coming out in September.
WHO SHOULD READ: Sherlock Holmes fans, BBC mystery show fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five awesome main characters

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

TITLE: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
AUTHOR: Jaye Robin Brown
PUBLISHED: August 2016
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: An out and proud girl agrees to not advertise her sexuality for her father's sake when they move to a new town. Trouble starts however, when she starts falling for a local girl...
MY REVIEW: I've been meaning to get to this one for quite awhile. As far as a contemporary romance: it does the trick. If you loved things like Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda or just want a sweet LGBTQA romance with minimal angst, this is a good one to pick up.
Not to say there isn't angst, there is as the girl Joanna becomes involved with struggles with whether or not to come out, but no one dies, Joanna gets her girl. This is quite possibly, the happiest lesbian romance I've ever read. It's always nice to see happy LGBTQA romances out there. The world needs more of them.
Along with general cute romance, this makes a lot of good points about faith and the LGBTQA community. I wish I had gotten to this one last year. It definitely would have made the favorites list. Ah well, it's going on the best of the backlist books list at least.
WHO SHOULD READ: Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda fans, those looking for relatively happy LGBTQA books
MY RATING: Four out of Five happy feelings

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Book Review: A Perilous Undertaking

TITLE: A Perilous Undertaking
Book 2 in the Veronica Speedwell series
AUTHOR: Deanna Raybourn
PUBLISHED: January 10th, 2017
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Mystery
PREMISE: Veronica Speedwell investigates a murder at the request of the mysterious Lady Sundridge...
MY REVIEW: The first book in this series was a surprise delight for me last year. I wasn't really expecting much from it when I randomly picked it up at the library, but it managed to get me and this second book was just as delightful.
We get more banter, some more backstory on Stoker, some general mystery solving hijinks and all the fun things that should come with historical mysteries. If you're hoping for romance to ignite between Veronica and Stoker....doesn't really happen much. But, there is still banter and chemistry so I say it's a good trade off.
From the looks of things, we have at least three more books in this series coming, and I have to say: I'm here for it.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the first book, Parasol Protectorate fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five lady detectives

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: Sorry, Not Sorry

TITLE: Sorry, Not Sorry
AUTHOR: Naya Rivera
PUBLISHED: September 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoir
PREMISE: Actress Naya Rivera talks about her life.
MY REVIEW: Confession: I used to love Glee. In the first season. Then...the rest of the show happened and my love came and went like that. I still really like the cast members though (sorry guys, you all really deserved better then what the writers gave you). So, I picked this up.
As a memoir, this book does its job. It gives you an idea of who Naya is, what her life was like, etc. It gives some behind the scenes look at what being on Glee was like, and all of that. There was nothing terribly shocking. It's a pretty straight forward memoir.
So it was just okay. I would mostly recommend this for die-hard Naya Rivera fans or Glee fans in general.
WHO SHOULD READ: Glee fans, Naya Rivera fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five actresses who are awesome

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: Refuge for Masterminds

TITLE: Refuge for Masterminds
Book 3 in the Stranje House series
AUTHOR: Kathleen Baldwin
PUBLISHED: May 23rd, 2017
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Romance
PREMISE: The adventures of the Stranje House crew continues with Lady Jane Moore...
MY REVIEW: The Stranje House series is a personal favorite of mine so I was looking forward to this book quite a bit. It did not disappoint. It kept the plot up, we got to get more background on Jane this time, and the romance was rather sweet. There's not really much I can add without going into spoilers. Just going to say: if you liked the first two books, you'll like this one.
Personally, I felt like that ending was a good one for the series, but it looks like we're getting another book according to the author. But I honestly can't complain. As I said, this series is a favorite. So I say bring on more books.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read the first two books, historical romance fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five female spies

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Reading Through the Classics: A Room With a View

TITLE: A Room With a View
AUTHOR: E. M. Forster
GENRE: Contemporary (for the time period it was written in anyway)/Romance
PREMISE: A young woman goes on her coming of age trip through Europe and experiences many ups and downs through out it...
MY THOUGHTS: I have to admit, this was not at all what I was expecting. People always make such a big deal about Forster in the lit world that I honestly, was expecting something super serious. Turns out: Forster is FUNNY. His prose remind me a lot of Austen's prose. It has that biting snark that manages to keep slow pace drama such as this one, rather fun.
If you've seen the 1985 movie, you likely know what to expect from this. I confess...I haven't seen it. But from what people tell me, other then a few liberties, it is mostly the same as the book. This is actually a fairly quick classic, at under two hundred pages. I read it in about a week.
All in all, this one was a fairly pleasant surprise. I'll definitely be picking up Forster's other books such as Howard's End and whatnot in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jane Austen fans, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell fans,

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Notable Releases: 7/9-7/15

Here are all the notable releases from this past week that are on my radar. There are quite a few of them this week...


The Great Library Book 2: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

I have only just devoured the first two books in this series in the past two months and holy crap do I love it. I can't wait to read this one as the second book left off in...quite a place. For some reason I thought it was a trilogy, but it turns out, we're getting two more books! ;does a jig;

Waste of Space by Gina Damico

Damico always has such interesting ideas and this one is no exception: future reality show featuring teenagers on a space-ship.

Stoker and Holmes Book 4: The Carnelian Crow by Colleen Gleason

New Stoker and Holmes! New Stoker and Holmes! And it looks like we're getting a fifth one!

Girl at Midnight Book 3: The Savage Dawn by Melissa Grey

An entertaining series comes to what I hope will be a satisfying end.

Because You Love to Hate Me anthology by various authors

I'm in this for the awesome idea. I don't really care about all this drama people keep making about this book. Because it's just that: Drama.

Adult Fiction

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

Literary debut that has been getting tons of buzz.

Loom Saga Book 2: The Dragons of Nova by Elise Kova

I'll say one thing for this series: it's not making you wait. The first book came out in January. Looks like the third is coming out in December.

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

Canadian book that is just getting released in the US and it features witches in New York City so I'm basically sold.

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Interesting looking new thriller from the author of the Temperance Brennan series (aka the inspiration for the Bones TV show).

Bannerless Saga Book 1: Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

After saying goodbye to the Kitty Norville series (still need to get caught up on that...) Vaughn tackles mysteries in a dystopian/sci-fi world. I'm in.


Coming of Age: The Sexual Awakening of Margaret Mead by Deborah Beatriz Blum

Interesting looking biography about one of the first female anthropologists.

Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis

A collection of essays that talk about various issues such as racial profiling, history of racism in the criminal justice system etc.

Graphic Novels/Manga

Daring New Adventures of Supergirl Vol. 2
Birthright Vol. 5
Drifter Vol. 4: Remains
Hulk Vol. 1: Deconstructed

Friday, July 14, 2017

Book Review: The Pearl Thief

TITLE: The Pearl Thief
Prequel to Code Name Verity
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Wein
PUBLISHED: May 2, 2017
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: Before Code Name Verity, see Verity's years during peace time when she uncovers a mystery and tries to right wrongs...
MY REVIEW: You guys know I'm always up for an Elizabeth Wein book. Especially if she's doing another Code Name Verity book. This is a tad more light-hearted than most of Wein's books tend to be. At least to me. It's set during peace time for one. And it deals with a mystery instead of a war.
Now, it does deal with some heavy topics, such as racism towards the Romani people that went on during this time (and honestly, still goes on). there's also a nice surprise in Verity having a romance with a girl, confirming that she is indeed bisexual (the term bisexual is not used, but she's very clearly attracted to both men and women throughout the book). That was nice to see. The mystery was also interesting.
It wasn't totally what I was expecting. I was expecting much darker, but overall I definitely enjoyed it. It was a nice solid, historical mystery. If Wein decides to write more historical mysteries, I definitely would not be opposed to them.
WHO SHOULD READ: Code Name Verity fans, historical mystery fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five stolen pearls

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Sleeping Giants

TITLE: Sleeping Giants
Book 1 in the Themis Files series
AUTHOR: Sylvain Neuvel
PUBLISHED: April 2016
GENRE: Science Fiction
PREMISE: Over a series of interviews/documents we learn the story of a group of scientists that study an alien artifact found by accident...
MY REVIEW: This is a book that has been slowly, but surely gaining a lot of popularity. I've been seeing it make the rounds and have now finally gotten to it and I have to say: it is pretty damn good.
I will warn: it is very slow. It's sort of like Illuminae where everything is told through documents or interviews. But unlike Illuminae it's got a lot of science in it. So reading it can...sometimes be a bit of a head scratcher. But it is worth it in the end. Characters develop and the story unfolds into something pretty awesome at the end.
So it definitely is a slow burn of a book. But if you stick with it, I promise it is worth it to get to the end. If you're new to sci-fi, I say this is a good one to try first. It's more character driven and less interesting in showing off science babble, so I suspect it might be a good gateway book.
WHO SHOULD READ: Sci-fi fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five random alien robot hands laying around

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies

TITLE: Under Rose-Tainted Skies
AUTHOR: Louise Garnell
PUBLISHED: January 3rd, 2017 (in the US)
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A girl stuck being inside falls for the boy next door.
MY REVIEW: I wanted to like this book more than I did, because I understand that books like this are needed. It's just...I've seen this scenario before. Two times in fact. First, with Everything Everything, and though I haven't read it yet, I understand Highly Illogical Behavior also kind of follows the same plot. Both of those were released within the past year. So...I'm sorry I can't really give this book much points for originality.
Characters/romance's okay. It's cute. It gets the job done. It does explain the mental health issues really well, so that I give it tons of points for. Plot...again, it's like Everything Everything, so I was able to easily predict what was going to happen. One thing that really annoyed me was the unnecessary side plot that mostly involved villianizing a pretty popular girl who dared to have a crush on the main characters love interest. Authors, I thought we had moved past this? I guess not.
So was cute and all. I give it lots of points for the issues it talked about. But ultimately, I can't give it more then an average rating because it was predictable as hell and we've seen this plot before.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Everything Everything, Romance fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five deja vu feelings

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Book Review: Allegedly

TITLE: Allegedly
AUTHOR: Tiffany D. Jackson
PUBLISHED: January, 24rth, 2017
GENRE: Mystery/Contemporary
PREMISE: A girl who got convicted of killing a baby when she was little now tries to clear her name after learning that she is pregnant.
MY REVIEW: This is yet another book I had mixed feelings about. On one hand: it is riveting. Jackson is a talented author who knows how to keep people flipping the pages for more. Even as I kept thinking "I'm...not into this story that much", I still had to keep going. So it has that going for it. It's not the author's fault that I just can't seem to get into books with unreliable narrators.
I'm going to warn you now: you probably won't like anyone in this book. They are all fully realized deeply flawed characters. They make all the mistakes that come with that. I have some issues with stuff in the book. Also, definitely don't go into this hoping for a Orange is the New Black kind of situation where the characters are dark/in crappy situations, but support one another. Female friendship/support is basically non-existent in this book.
So yeah...I've got many issues with some of the ways this book was executed. was pretty damn well written and it did its job as a suspenseful did she/or didn't she type of thriller. So it's good...but there are issues. I will say it's a very strong debut though. I'm keeping an eye on this author. Like I said, it's not her fault I just can't get into unreliable narrator stories. That's a me thing.
WHO SHOULD READ: Gone Girl fans, those that like books with unreliable narrators
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid debuts

Monday, July 10, 2017

Reading Through the (Modern) Classics: Rubyfruit Jungle

TITLE: Rubyfruit Jungle
AUTHOR: Rita Mae Brown
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A woman goes through life figuring things out and being proud of who she is.
MY THOUGHTS: I have so many mixed feelings on this one. On one hand, there things in here that make me side-eye the author really hard (like some very judgmental comments about pretty much everyone who doesn't live the life the main character/author seems to think they should be living). On the other was written in the seventies.
On one hand....nothing really happened? I'm reminded a lot of On the Road, where the characters just go here, do stuff and then move on. I mean, this at least didn't have the sexism and whatnot of On the Road. I definitely liked the characters better in this book. But again: slow plot. But on the other hand, context is important when reading classics. This was a very bold book when it was written in the time it was in. On the other hand writing
So...yeah. I don't know how to feel about this one you guys. I didn't hate it...but I didn't love it either...but I also get why it made the splash it did when it was published. Just...I have a lot of mixed feelings.
WHO SHOULD READ: those looking for more LGBTQA classics, Rita Mae Brown fans,

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Notable Releases: 7/2-7/7

Here are some new releases from this past week that I'm eager for, are buzzy books, look interesting etc. Note: Looks like publishers changed the release date of Now I Rise from last week to this week. ;shakes fist at publishing gods for making me look wrong;


A Void the Size of the World by Rachele Alpine

Interesting looking mystery.

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Spooky looking mystery I've been hearing good things about.

Adult Fiction

Stillhouse Lake Book 1 by Rachel Caine

It's Caine, so I'll be giving this book a look at some point in time.

Queens of Renthia Book 2: The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst

I've been a long time Durst fan and I naturally loved the first book in this series. I'm glad to see it looks like people are finally starting to take notice of her books or at least this series.

Alex Craft Book 5: Grave Ransom by Kalayna Price

The fifth book in the Alex Craft series. I...need to get caught up on this series still.


Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan by Elaine M. Hayes

Interesting looking biography.

Graphic novels/Manga

Woods Vol. 7
Angel Catbird Vol. 3
Berserk Vol. 38
Injustice Ground Zero Vol. 1
Wonder Woman, The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 2
Monstress Vol. 2
Wayward Vol. 2
Star Wars Vol. 5: Yoda's Secret War

Friday, July 7, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: Saga Vol. 7

Vol. 7 in the Saga series
AUTHOR: Brian K. Vaughan
ARTIST: Fiona Staples
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
GENRE: Science-Fiction
PREMISE: Hazel and her parents rest in a place that has never-ending war...
MY REVIEW: Okay, for those new to comics, or who by some chances are into comics but not have picked Saga up yet, I'll summarize it for you: Romeo and Juliet in space, if Romeo and Juliet were soldiers, who were smarter and got together to have children and deal with the war. Saga has been around a few years now and probably doesn't need my help giving it press, but what the hell, I feel the need to talk about it.
Because as always, major things went down in this volume. I'll refrain from spoilers, but if you know the series, you probably already have an idea of what to expect. And you know why I have feelings right now. There was a character death (of...sorts...) that I'm sad about. We get to see Hazel and her family get to be a family for awhile which was nice to see. There's much going on in this volume as there always is. I definitely advise starting at the first volume. This is an ongoing story arc, unlike Marvel or DC, you do have to read this one from the beginning or you'll be lost.
This series is space opera at its best. I will warn, it's a very adult series as most Image comics tend to be. But if you don't mind sometimes very random gore/sex (and I do mean random...), it's a great series to dive into. As a bonus, the art is gorgeous and it is one of the few long-running series out there that doesn't constantly change artists so you're not suddenly getting a different art style every other issue.
WHO SHOULD READ: Star Wars fans, space opera fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Review: Being Jazz

TITLE: Being Jazz-My Life as a Transgender Teen
AUTHOR: Jazz Jennings
PUBLISHED: June 2016
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoirs
PREMISE: Activist Jazz Jennings talks about her life growing up.
MY REVIEW:Another memoir that I'm not sure how to go about reviewing. I do think it's very well done. As this is aimed at teenagers, I don't have much of an issue with the fact that it's a slightly chatty memoir. This is something happens with a lot of celebrity memoirs and it kind of works for me.
Jazz is overall a very positive person and that absolutely shines through in here. She's very comfortable in her skin and I hope I get half the confidence she has one day. Because frankly the things she's done at her young age are damn impressive.
This is a very quick read. I believe I read it in like two short sittings. If you want a positive memoir to give you hope that this new generation will do better than we have, it's a good read.
WHO SHOULD READ: you want positive memoirs
MY RATING: Four out of Five books to give you hope

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Book Review: The Hate U Give

TITLE: The Hate U Give
AUTHOR: Angie Thomas
PUBLISHED: February 28th, 2017
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A girl deals with aftermath of a police shooting. A shooting that involved one of her friends and that she witnessed...
MY REVIEW: Chances are you have heard about this book already and pretty much already know the deal about it. Heck, you've probably already made up your mind about whether or not you're going to read it by now. But in the small case you haven't let me assure you: it is as good as people are saying. I have a feeling this is going to be my best book of the year because so far nothing has topped it yet (Upside of Unrequited came damn close, but this still won out in my heart).
The writing is great, the characters are all fully realized, the plot and topics it touches on gives you so much to unpack and think about. There's no easy solution in the ending. It just...I could go on forever about all the ways this book just does things right.
This is one of the best debuts I've read in a long while. And to the people on Goodreads/general internet who keep trying to say this is racist/unfair towards white people, as a white person here is my response to that:

WHO SHOULD READ: Anyone who is interested.
MY RATING: Five out of Five debut authors who I hope stick around because this book was damn good.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Book Review: The Bane Chronicles

TITLE: The Bane Chronicles
Part of the Mortal Instruments series
AUTHOR: Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A bunch of short stories written by Clare and others that deal with some of the history of Magnus Bane.
MY REVIEW: I know what you all are thinking: hey, didn't she say she was done with this series after the last Mortal Instruments book? Yes. Yes, I did say that. But come on, we all knew it was a lie. We knew I'd come crawling back to this series because I just can't seem to resist it despite my many many many issues with it. I blame all the gushing on YouTube about the new series. It's made me curious again.
So I figured I'd just dive in again like the weak person I am with The Bane Chronicles, because Magnus Bane is basically my favorite thing about this series. As usual with story collections, some are better then others. Most didn't really reveal anything new to me. It was kind of fun seeing what the MI world was like during history, but other then that....not much to these stories. I think my favorite bit in this was when all the characters called Magnus' phone to bug him about the break-up in...I don't remember which book. But this story was hilarious.
So yeah...expect a review of Lady Midnight soon. Because I just can't quit this damn series.
WHO SHOULD READ: Mortal Instruments fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five favorite characters being awesome

Monday, July 3, 2017

Reading Through the Classics: Summer

TITLE: Summer
AUTHOR: Edith Wharton
GENRE: Romance (sort of...), Drama
PREMISE: A young woman has an affair in her small town...
MY THOUGHTS: So, this is my first Edith Wharton. I actually wasn't planning on reading this, but library. picked up on a whim, you know the drill. Plus, I'm just trying to get stuff off the TBR list. Have I mentioned it's huge?
Anyways, Wharton...very interesting. I kind of think of this as the anti-romance novel. Like, you know how romances in general tend to mostly be escapist fiction with happily ever after guaranteed? Yeah, Wharton basically took that idea and tossed it out of the window. She made everything in this realistic, including (spoiler alert) not having the affair end in happily ever after. Like Madam Bovary, this is one of those books that during its time was seen as sensual. Like Madam Bovary it...really isn't. But it was interesting seeing a book from this time period actually have its main female character be interested in sex and not slut shame her for it (like Madam Bovary did).
This was an interesting reading experience, to be honest. I'll definitely be picking up more Edith Wharton in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: The Awakening fans, classic book fans, Edith Wharton fans

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Your Syllabus for: YA Before Twilight

As someone who has looked long and hard at publishing dates of things I've noticed something: there is a big difference in YA before the first Twilight book and after. Namely, the section was much smaller. I am the first to tell you, I do not like Twilight. But I'm also the first to tell you that yes, it did indeed have an impact in YA. Now, I don't think it is the sole reason for the big boom in YA that happened after 2005. There were a few factors that led to the boom:
-Harry Potter fans were growing up and the publishers realized they could cash in on this built-in audience.
-John Green started writing around this time, bringing in many new fans, a lot of them adults. 
-The Percy Jackson series also started and The Book Thief, Uglies series, and a lot of other highly popular YA books that gained the section a lot of new fans were published during this year. Any publisher worth their salt would have seen the sales coming from those books and realized there is money to be made here.

But no matter the reason, I tend to think of the changes in the YA section as waves, sort of like in feminism. From the 50s to 2004 is in my mind, the classic era of the YA section. The second wave (that I kind of just call The Boom Era) goes from 2005 to...around 2012 or so. I think we're currently in a new wave. I'm not sure what to call it exactly, but there definitely is a bit of a change from today's YA to the YA from five years ago. I'd actually go as far as to say, we may be entering a new wave now because even this past year there's been a shift in what's being offered in the YA section.
This syllabus is focusing on the books from those early years. Not everything is on here, because there was a lot published over those couple of decades, but I have managed to include the ones that have stood the test of time and that people still talk about to this day. 

YA Before Twilight:

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Pub. 1954, Survival fiction

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Pub. 1967, Contemporary, considered by some to be the book that actually started the YA section. 

Forever by Judy Blume

Pub. 1975. Blume has written a few YA books over the years, but I'm going with this book that caused parents to clutch their pearls everywhere because it dealt with teenagers ;gasp; having sex. 

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Pub. 1978, Mystery

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Pub. 1978, also check out the Damar books, Sunshine, and others

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Pub. 1982, Contemporary
Tortall series by Tamora Pierce

Started 1983, Fantasy series, several arcs within a series. Absolutely fabulous and still be added too this day (next book comes out in February!)

Also check out her Circle of Magic series started in 1997 and still going strong.

The Vampire Diaries series by L. J. Smith. Also look into The Secret Circle series 

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Pub. 1992, Contemporary. Also check out Saving Francesca, pub. in 2003.

Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

Started 1995, Fantasy

The Once Upon a Time retellings series by various authors

Started around 1997, bunch of one-shots written over time that are various retellings of fairy-tales.

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Pub. 1996, Contemporary

Dessen actually has a few she wrote before 2005: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, Someone Like You, This Lullaby, and The Truth About Forever. Probably some I missed in there too.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Pub. 1999, Contemporary. 

Anderson also has many other books she wrote before 2005.

Pub. 1999, Contemporary

Started 1999, Contemporary

The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot

Started 2000, Contemporary, also look into The Mediator series, the 1-800-WHERE-R-U series, Teen Idol, and All American Girl

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Pub. 2000, Contemporary

Sweep series by Cate Tiernan

Started 2001, Urban Fantasy

Started 2001, Contemporary series (with magical realism type elements)

Rainbow Boys Trilogy by Alex Sanchez, pub. 2001, Contemporary

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Pub. 2002, Dystopian

Tithe Trilogy by Holly Black

Started 2002, Urban Fantasy

Matteo Alacran series by Nancy Farmer

Started 2002, Sci-fi/dystopian series

The Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini

Started 2002, Fantasy series

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Pub. 2002, Mystery

East by Edith Pattou

Pub. 2003, Retelling, Fantasy

Books of Bayern series by Shannon Hale

Started 2003, Fantasy Retellings. 

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger

Pub. 2003, Contemporary

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Pub. 2003, Contemporary

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (also check out Luna, pub. in 2004), both contemporary

Crank Trilogy by Ellen Hopkins

Started 2004, Contemporary, verse fiction

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

Pub. 2004, Contemporary, also check out The Key to the Golden Firebird released the same year.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Pub. 2004, Dystopianish

Is it YA? We Will Probably Never Agree on This (books that crossover into YA frequently but aren't always considered by some to be YA):

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Pub. 1868
I've seen this often shelved in libraries as YA. I personally think it's more middle-grade, but honestly is one of those rare books that can be all categories as it follows the March sisters from childhood to adulthood. 

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Pub. 1951, I've seen so much debate about whether this is a YA book or not. The publishing world seems very evenly split on this one. I think it is one of those frequent crossover books that is both YA and adult fiction. 

The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

Started 1996, Fantasy series, seen shelved as both YA and Middle-Grade and sometimes adult fiction. 

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Pub. 1997, Fairy-Tale Retelling. I personally think this is firmly YA, but for some reason the book world doesn't seem to think so.

Holes by Louis Sachar

Pub. 1998, Contemporary
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman

Started 1995, Fantasy trilogy, put here because I've often seen this also categorized as Middle-grade. I think it's both MG and YA which does often happen (see Harry Potter)

The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

Started 1997, Fantasy series, again it is both YA and MG. 

A Wrinkle in Time Quintet by Madeline L'Engle

Started 1962, Fantasy series, both YA and MG (I actually remember reading this one in elementary school)

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Started 2003, have seen shelved as MG and YA.