Thursday, May 31, 2018

My Big Fat Recommendation List: D Authors

Here are all the books by authors whose name stars with D, whose books I have read and recommend.


Roald Dahl
-All of it, particularly Matilda, The Witches, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Spiderwick Chronicles series by Toni DiTerlizzi and Holly Black


Croak series by Gina Damico
Nemesis series by April Daniels
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
13 to Life series by Shannon Delaney

Susan Dennard
-Witchlands series
-Something Strange and Deadly Trilogy

Kimberly Derting
-The Body Finder series
The Pledge Trilogy

The Glass Spare Book 1 by Lauren DeStefano
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Annexed by Sharon Dogar

Jaclyn Dolamore
-Magic Under Glass Duology
-Dark Metropolis Duology
-Between the Sea and Sky

Jennifer Donnelly
-A Northern Light

Young Wizards series by Diane Duane

Sarah Beth Durst
-Drink, Slay, Love
-Enchanted Ivy

Corinne Duyvis
-On the Edge of Gone



Amberlough Book 1 by Lara Elena Donnelly
The Queens of Renthia series  by Sarah Beth Durst


Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle


Charles Dickens (there are plenty of Dickens books worthy of reading, but these are the ones I've read)
-Great Expectations
-A Christmas Carol
-Oliver Twist

Room by Emma Donoghue


Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Y. Davis
You're Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
Never Caught: The Washington's Relentless Pursuit of Their Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Book Review: The Wicked Deep

TITLE: The Wicked Deep
AUTHOR: Shea Ernshaw
PUBLISHED: March 6th, 2018
GENRE: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
PREMISE: In Penny's town, every year a trio of witches come back from the dead and possess girls and then proceed to murder three boys...
MY REVIEW: All the stuff in this book is what I wanted from How to Hang a Witch and did not get. It didn't help that book that I was reading these at the same time and that really showcased just how cliche How to Hang a Witch was. Yes, this book has its fair of YA tropes (like insta-love) but this takes those tropes, subverts them, and does it in a fun and not boring way.
This is a very atmospheric book for starters. That's what really helps it. It gives you that spooky summer feeling (I highly recommend reading it on a hot day) that kind of reminds me of the Fear Street series by R. L. Stine. The witch characters are also great. There's a twist around the last third of the book that actually managed to surprise me.
It was just a fun and wild ride from beginning to end. It's not a perfect book, and there is stuff that reminds me of other things I've read. But I always say if you're going to do tropes, do them in a fun and entertaining way. And this book did exactly that. If How to Hang a Witch left a bad taste in your mouth, like it did with me, read this one to remind you that witch stories definitely can still be fun.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Hocus Pocus, Fear Street fasn, Charmed fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five fun witch stories

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Book Review: Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann

TITLE: Let's Talk About Love
AUTHOR: Claire Kann
PUBLISHED: January 23rd, 2018
GENRE: Contemporary, Romance
PREMISE: An asexual girl's life gets hectic as her friends start to drift and she finds a new guy to crush on...
MY REVIEW: This is yet another book published by Swoon Reads I have read and I am kind of enjoying them. I do sometimes think their almost adult teenage characters sound WAY too young (and the issue persists in this book), but I find I am enjoying their books.
Like Queens of Geek, this is just super cute and very inclusive. Again, I love that we're getting more representation for asexual characters. Again, I ask why is there not also representation for demi-sexuals? Even in this book there was a scene where they could have mentioned demi-sexuality was a thing, but it never came up, As a demi-sexual, I find this endlessly frustrating. But the book is still very cute and very enjoyable. Again, it sometimes felt like the characters were too juvenile for people who were supposed to be entering their second year of college, but it didn't hinder the enjoyment of the book at all.
If you just want a cute, fluffy romance to read by the pool or something, absolutely pick this up.
WHO SHOULD READ: those who want cute contemporary romances
MY RATING: Four out of Five cute romances

Monday, May 28, 2018

Book Review: How to Hang a Witch

TITLE: How to Hang a Witch
Book 1 in a series
AUTHOR: Adriana Mather
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: A girl who is a descendant from one of the judges in the Salem Witch Trials moves to Salem, Massachusetts....
MY REVIEW: Sigh, I wanted to like this one so badly. Really, I did. I honestly should of. It has witches, Salem Witch Trials, girls banding together...this should have been right up my alley. Unfortunately the author did every YA cliche in the book, so what should have been a fun ride, turned into a boring cliched mess.
Literally every bad YA trope is in here: girl moves to new town and is automatically hated for no real reason, adults are all incompetent and honestly should not be in charge of children (especially that principal who basically victim blamed the main character for being bullied), girls can't be friends nonsense, love triangles, insta-love, obvious villain being obvious, and so much more. I honestly lost track of how many times I rolled my eyes while reading this.
This book was just...lazy. I've read this book a million times and I've read books that do the premise better. The writing is okay, and I guess the plot gets the job done. But I was just so bored throughout it that I can't even call this an enjoyable cliche read. It's just..dull. With nothing new to really say or do.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that don't mind lots of cliches
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five cliche boring books

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Book Review: Schindler's List

TITLE: Schindler's List
AUTHOR: Thomas Keneally
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: History
PREMISE: In WWII a man puts together a refuge for Jewish people in Germany.
MY REVIEW: Full disclosure: I have never seen the movie Schindler's List. I've heard the beautiful soundtrack. But I've never seen the movie. I might be rectifying that in the future because this was fascinating. It was also maddening as it went into all the reasoning Germans had for allowing Hitler to do his bs. Personally, I'm seeing a lot of parallels between pre-WWII German attitudes and the US right now. Which is really scary to me.
This is not for the faint of heart. Keneally does not shy away from the horrors inflicted upon the Jewish people. If you want a sugar-coated version of WWII, this is not going to be your book. I also appreciate that Keneally did not try to make Schindler out to be a saint. The book is matter of fact about how this was not really started out of some altruistic motive (though it may have ended up that way).
This is just a fascinating bit of history. I also highly recommend the audiobook, which is narrated by Ben Kingsley. That's how I read it and I found that easier to get through then the physical book which has a lot of blocky dense text.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of The Book Thief, those who have only seen the movie, WWII history buffs
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five interesting bits of history

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Book Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky

TITLE: Beneath the Sugar Sky
Book 3 in the Wayward Children series
AUTHOR: Seanan McGuire
PUBLISHED: January 9th, 2018
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: We return to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward to join a new group of people who go on a journey to a land made of candy...
MY REVIEW: I should probably just go ahead and put up a bias warning whenever I review these books. Because I honestly just love them. Sometimes there are series where you feel like the author peeked into your head and wrote your ideal series. This series is one of those for me.
As with the other books, this is fairly short. It's a novella, so it's just under two hundred pages. As with the other books, it's very whimsical, has a very fairy-tale like writing style, a diverse group of characters, and a nice and satisfying plot.
If you liked the other two books in the series, I would absolutely read this one as well. It looks like we will be getting at least two more books in the series and I can't wait.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Every Heart a Doorway, fairy tale fans, fantasy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five series I adore

Monday, May 21, 2018

Book Review: The Cruel Prince

TITLE: The Cruel Prince
Book 1 in the Folk of the Air Series
AUTHOR: Holly Black
PUBLISHED: January 2nd, 2018
GENRE: Fantasy
PREMISE: A human girl forced to live among the fae, who despise humans, tries her best to survive and thrive there.
MY REVIEW: If you are around any sort of bookish communities, chances are you've heard of this one. It's been pretty much everywhere. I'm a little surprised that people are surprised at how good this is. It's Holly Black. She's pretty much queen when it comes to the fae. But hey, at least people are discovering her now. FYI, if you like this check out her older books. They're all just as good.
Now I don't think this is as mind-blowing as the hype machine is making it out to be. There are pacing issues and this is actually pretty usual stuff for the fae. It's also pretty usual stuff for Holly Black. To all the people saying this is something new and unique...sorry, no. Not so much. That doesn't stop it from being good though. It's damn entertaining, the world-building is fantastic, the characters are memorable and interesting.
I do think this is very good. I just don't think it's as good as people have been saying. But that seems to be my lot when it comes to hyped books. About the only ones I've agreed with the hype machine on is The Hate U Give and Harry Potter. I still really enjoyed this one though. But that's not surprising, I've always enjoyed Holly Black's books to some extent.
WHO SHOULD READ: Holly Black fans, fans of faerie books
MY RATING: Four out of Five excellent starts to a series

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Book Review: Halsey Street

TITLE: Halsey Street
AUTHOR: Naima Coster
PUBLISHED: January 1rst, 2018
GENRE: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A woman returns to her old street to help take care of her ailing father as the neighborhood goes through gentrification...
MY REVIEW: How much you like this book will depend on how much you can deal with flawed characters. I don't mind the flawed character stuff, I did however mind the cheating. Sorry, cheating is not something I'm into. At least here however, it comes and goes very quickly and isn't condoned. So I could deal with it, even if I didn't particularly like it.
The rest of the book I did mildly enjoy. It's a very slice of life type of story that goes into how gentrification can hurt the people who already live in the neighborhood. That aspect of it is very eye-opening. The character stuff was okay. There's a plot about an estranged mother that was good, but never seems to go anywhere until the very end.
For a debut this was rather good. I was reminded very strongly of Swing Time by Zadie Smith, though this book at least didn't have two main plots competing with each other. I do definitely see a lot of promising stuff here and will probably be picking up more of the author's books in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of the book Swing Time, Americanah fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five very promising debuts

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Book Review: The Girl in the Tower

TITLE: The Girl in the Tower
Book 2 in the Winternight Trilogy
AUTHOR: Katherine Arden
PUBLISHED: December 2017
GENRE: Historical Fantasy
PREMISE: Leaving where The Bear and the Nightingale left off, Vasya disguises herself as a boy and winds up helping to save Moscow...
MY REVIEW: I feel like The Bear and the Nightingale was one of those books that kind of came out of nowhere. I remember very little buzz when it came out, but then it slowly got all this good word of mouth and became a big thing and after reading it, I totally understand why. It's really good stuff.
This second book is also really good stuff. In fact, I think it's actually better then the first book. The plot doesn't waste time recapping things, it just goes full on and it's a wild and engaging ride from beginning to end. There are all sorts of things that happen with Vasya and you get to see more of Russia. It's just really good, guys. I don't want to give too much away, because a lot of it kind of spoils the ending of The Bear and the Nightingale.
If you loved the first book, I pretty much guarantee you'll like the second one. I can't wait to see how this all wraps up.
WHO SHOULD READ: Those that have read The Bear and the Nightingale, epic fantasy fans, Tamora Pierce fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five great main characters

Friday, May 18, 2018

Book Review: Lab Girl

TITLE: Lab Girl
AUTHOR: Hope Jahren
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoir, Science
PREMISE: A woman talks about her life as a scientist.
MY REVIEW: This book helped me come to a realization: books dealing with science, kind of bore me. In the book's defense, I didn't realize this when I picked it up. I don't read science books as a rule. But reading this, I kind of realized this was what was going on and why I couldn't get into it.
I'm not blaming the book for my boredom. The author did try her best to make things interesting. I did like the look into how labs are run and why science is so damn expensive. I am impressed with her and other scientists who do this work. I don't think I could handle it, to tell you the truth. But, I was still just really bored while reading it.
So this is yet another it's not you, it's me sort of situation. If you really love science and want to know more about plant life and stuff like that, this book will absolutely be for you. But if you're like me and kind of don't really will probably bore you.
WHO SHOULD READ: people interested plant life, people who like science books
MY RATING: Three out of Five solid books that just aren't for me

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Modern Classic Review: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

TITLE: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
AUTHOR; Jeanette Winterson
GENRE: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A character tells about her life growing up and her complicated relationship with her very religious mother.
MY THOUGHTS: When reading this, I was reminded strongly of Rubyfruit Jungle. Probably very groundbreaking for its time, but nowadays...not so much.
The writing in here is great. There are lines in it that are hilarious and poignant. The characters are interesting. At least unlike Rubyfruit Jungle, it didn't constantly act if like you weren't living the life the character/author thought you should be, you were doing it wrong. It does do its job as a memoir like fiction book. It's just...these kind of books are all over the place in literary fiction. So I was kind of bored because it didn't particularly offer anything new.
But again: this is an older book. At the time it was written, this was considered new. So I totally understand how it became a thing when it was published. It's just one of those things, that maybe hasn't aged very well. It's still good. Just rather dated.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Rubyfruit Jungle, fans of Fun Home

Monday, May 14, 2018

Graphic Novel: The Prince and the Dressmaker

TITLE: The Prince and the Dressmaker
AUTHOR: Jen Wang
CATEGORY: Graphic Novel
PUBLISHED: February 13th, 2018
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Drama, Romanceish
PREMISE: A prince hires a dressmaker to make dresses...for them.
MY REVIEW: If there is one thing that first comes to mind about this graphic novel it is that the art is beautiful. The whole book is beautiful, actually. It's hardback, that cover really pops in it, and the art is gorgeous throughout.
Along with the gorgeous art, is a just plain adorable story. Sure, it wraps up neatly and a little too tidy. But sometimes, you just want a feel good story about people supporting one another. This book gives you that. Sure, Sebastian goes through crap in this to get their acceptance. But they get it eventually and it is beautiful when they do.
In short, I adored this one. It is a single story, so the entire story is in it. It's a really good one to read if you are new to this graphic novel thing. If you want a story that will just make you happy, I highly recommend this graphic novel.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical fiction fans, Lumberjanes fans, A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue fans
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five graphic novels that just make you happy

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Book Review: If Beale Street Could Talk

TITLE: If Beale Street Could Talk
AUTHOR: James Baldwin
GENRE: Contemporary
PREMISE: A husband and wife try to figure out how to get him out of prison when she discovers she is pregnant.
MY THOUGHTS: This is the first James Baldwin book that I've read. I've been meaning to read him for years, but best laid plans and all. This was a random read. I had a few hours to kill at the library while waiting for someone, so I picked up a small book I could find and read it. This turned out to be that book. It is under two-hundred pages. You can read it in one sitting.
It is a short book that packs a powerful punch. As with most literature, it covers a lot of subjects: racism, prison, classism, family issues and so much. There is a lot in this under two hundred page book. As with most classics, the way it deals with women leaves something to be desired (there's a moment of abuse with a husband that basically gets dismissed by everyone. Not okay). But other then that, this was a damn good book. I definitely get why Baldwin is a thing.
I'll probably be picking up more Baldwin in the future. I don't know when exactly. But it will be soon.
WHO SHOULD READ: James Baldwin fans, contemporary fiction fans

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Book Review: Unearthed

TITLE: Unearthed
Unearthed Book 1
AUTHORS: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
PUBLISHED: January 9th, 2018
GENRE: Science Fiction
PREMISE: Two people get thrown together on an adventure in space...
MY REVIEW: I have...mixed feelings about this book. There's nothing really wrong with it. It is very much what it advertises: a space adventure with a dash of romance. It's just...there's not much difference between this and the author's other series, These Broken Stars.
It has the same type of plot: boy and girl on opposite sides of a conflict meet. Boy and girl wind up in life and death survival situation. Boy and girl fall for each other by the end. I honestly had a lot of deja vu while reading this. But it does have a slight difference in the end. It looks like the next book will not go into different characters, so it does look like we'll get a divergence of plot in the next one.
The book did do a satisfactory job of telling the story. There was decent character development, there was a decent plot. I will probably pick up the next book. I just can't ignore how similar this is to stuff the authors have written before.
WHO SHOULD READ: These Broken Stars fans, sci-fi fans
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five good, but familiar stories

Monday, May 7, 2018

Book Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza

TITLE: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza
AUTHOR: Shaun David Hutchinson
PUBLISHED: February 6th, 2018
GENRE: Magical Realism, Sci-Fiish
PREMISE: Elena Mendoza grapples with the fact that she has healing abilities and many other strange things...
MY REVIEW: Okay, this review comes with a bias warning: I adore Shaun David Hutchinson's stuff. His books just speak to me for some reason. I freely give that they are weird and not for everybody. But they are for me and I haven't disliked a book of his yet. Though I will say the best of his is still We Are the Ants.
This book is very much like We Are the Ants. I would like to note, it looks like this takes place in the same world as At the Edge of the Universe as Tommy makes a brief appearance. There's all sorts of weird stuff going on. That weird stuff is balanced with personal things that the main character is going through and it is all done beautifully with a bit of humor thrown in.
Again, I warn, this will probably not be for everyone. You have to suspend a lot of disbelief with Hutchinson's books. If you want everything answered for you, these will not be your books. I don't think this is the best of Hutchinson's work (seriously, start with We Are the Ants first), but I still really liked it. But as I have said: I'm very biased about this author.
WHO SHOULD READ: Shaun David Hutchinson fans, magical realism fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five weird things going on

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Graphic Novel series Review: Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat

TITLE: Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat
AUTHOR: Kate Leth
ARTIST: Brittney L. Williams
Volumes: 1: Hooked on a Feline
2: Don't Stop Me-Ow
3: Careless Whiskers
PUBLISHED: between 2015 and 2017
GENRE: Superhero
PREMISE: Patsy Walker, fresh from returning from hell itself, tries to adjust to life again.
MY REVIEW: I started this series about a year or so ago after falling in love with the Jessica Jones TV show. Trish was my favorite, and this does involve her in...a slight way. Be warned, this Hellcat is very very different from TV Trish Walker (and yes, I have...feelings about what season 2 did with her. Lots of feelings. Not all of them positive). Honestly, if you're going to delve into the comics for any of the Defenders shows, just know they're all pretty different. Accept for Daredevil. He is as much of a disaster in the comics as he is on the show.
This series is a very light and fluffy series and honestly, I kind of love it for that. You don't need to have much comics knowledge going into it. It's pretty separate from the Marvel comics. You might want to know who some of the side characters such as She-Hulk or America Chavez are, but it is not necessary to understand the story.
This was a sadly short-lived series. Though really these days, a year and a half is a pretty good run for solo titles that are not A-listers like Captain America and such. If you're looking for a cute all-ages type of comic to dive into that doesn't require much vast knowledge of the Marvel universe, this is a good one to start with.
WHO SHOULD READ: Jessica Jones TV show fans, Marvel fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five cute series that I miss

Friday, May 4, 2018

Book Review: How Dare the Sun Rise

TITLE: How Dare the Sun Rise
AUTHOR: Sandra Uwiringiyimana
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Memoir
PREMISE: A woman tells the story of how she and her family became refugees and came to the United States.
MY REVIEW: So full disclosure, I actually listened to this via audiobook. I actually really recommend doing this. The narrator is great and listening to this story is like the author telling you the story herself and it makes it that much more impacting.
Warning: this woman's life was hard. There are sad things going on in this book. It talks frankly about genocide, racism, poverty and all sorts of tough issues. It is not an easy book to read. But along with all of that are some beautiful moments. The strength of Sandra and her family is amazing. Seriously, where the hell is their movie?
If you're looking for a super happy memoir...this one ain't it. There are some incredibly sad things in here. But if you want inspiring people, absolutely read this.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of memoirs, fans of In the Country We Love: My Family Divided
MY RATING: Four out of Five inspiring stories

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Book Review: Angels in America

TITLE: Angels in America
AUTHOR: Tony Kushner
GENRE: Contemporary/magical realism
PREMISE: In 1980s America, characters dealing with AIDS and various other personal dramas try to figure out things.
MY REVIEW: So the Tonys are upon us again. Which means me reading some of the revival plays. This particular play has gotten all sorts of nominations this year. After reading it, I absolutely understand why.
It's a very odd play, with lots of things going on and topics being discussed. If you liked Rent, this might be of interest to you. It deals with the same sort of ideas of mortality and how that effects people and AIDS and its influence in the 80s. I personally, really liked it. Its got a sense of humor that really speaks to me (Prior is everything). However, the odd way this play is told...I have a feeling it's one of those things that will be an acquired taste. You either will really like it...or you won't.
For those curious about the other plays that are on Broadway that I'll hopefully be reading soon: Three Tall Women by Edward Albee (I'm going to try and read Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? first though), The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill, and Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of Rent, Theater nerds
MY RATING: Four out of Five interesting stories