Showing posts from 2015

Book 145: "Chased by Fire": by D.K. Holmberg

Title: Chased by Fire (Cloud Warrior Saga #1)
Author: DK Holmberg
Publisher: ASH Publishing
Read in: Kindle Ebook
Genre: YA Fantasy

I like the concept of this book. I like the world that it is set in and the way that magic (called shaping or sensing) is closely tied with nature. I like the culture of the world, so far. I like the characters. But the story, while it is entertaining and draws the reader in, is predictable and your standard YA book.

In other words, a teen full of angst who feels inadequate finds himself thrust into an adventure full of responsibility and with an exceptional gift he didn't know he had. Falls in love with mysterious girl who lives on the outside of his known world/community. Has a gruff, experienced, wise mentor guiding him through said adventure and teaching him along the way. There is, as of yet, no love triangle; so that is refreshing.

The only thing I really did not like about the book is that the main character is kind of an idiot. He takes a very lon…

Books 143 and 144: Fables Volumes 4 and 5 by Bill Willingham

Title: Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers (Fables Volume 4) AND
Fables: The Mean Seasons (Fables Volume 5)
Author: Bill Willingham
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: DC Comics
Read In: Trade Paperback

I love this graphic novel series. If you're unfamiliar, this series is based on the idea that fairy tale, fable, legend, etc. creatures have all been forced out of their homelands into our world by an enemy they call The Adversary. To survive, they have set up two locales within our world. Fabletown is the center of the action, hidden in New York City. This is where the majority of human, or those that can pass as human, Fables live. The Farm is in upstate New York and is where all the non-human or anyone that can't pass as human lives in secret from the outside, human, world. Though I am only through volume 5 of the series, they recently published their last one, ending at 22; so I have quite a few to go.

I love this series for several reasons. First is that it's a slew of all yo…

Book 142: "Manners & Mutiny" by Gail Carriger

Title: Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School Series #4)
Author: Gail Carriger
Read in: Nook ePub
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk Urban Fantasy

This is the last installment of the Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger. Her Finishing School series is a prequel to the Parasol Protectorate (which if you haven't yet read, do so immediately!) It is also a Young Adult series, where Carriger's other series are for adults. As such the books are less complicated, shorter, and have less mature themes. Since this is the last book, I will not expend much on it. I like the ending, it was perfect for every character and in the true style of a YA book, it was wrapped up quickly (in about two chapters). If you're looking for an easy, entertaining read and like the Victorian era, I suggest you read the series!

If you have been reading my blog for long, you are probably aware that I love Gail Carriger; she is my favorite author that is currently …

From The Archives: Books 29, 30, and 31: The Mortal Intruments Series by Cassandra Clare

Books 29, 30, and 31: The Mortal Intruments Series by Cassandra Clare Verdict: Read if you like YA adventure-fantasy-romance. This series consists of three books- at least that I read- "City of Bones", "City of Ashes", and "City of Glass". The series was originally meant to be a trilogy, so I stopped with the 3rd book. The 3rd book wrapped up the plot nicely, so I felt no need to continue further. 
Book one, "City of Bones", contains a twist that kept me frustrated for the rest of the series. The twist actually surprised me, a feat that not many YA novels manage to do. It introduces you to the two main characters, Jace and Clary. Clary has lived her life as a normal human teen, that is until she meets Jace. Jace is part of a secret society of protectors. This society has an element of magic- mixed with runes and fighting skills- that they use to protect mankind from demons. Man cannot see demons, but they are there and this society is killing them…

Book 141: "The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch

Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1)
Author: Scott Lynch
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Read In: Nook ePub
Genre: Fantasy

I really liked this book. A lot. This is the first book in The Gentleman Bastard series and I look forward to reading the rest. This book is unlike most other fantasy novels I have read, which I adore. I always enjoy a new style and idea when it comes to reading. Lynch also uses a character driven style, which is my preference. While it is obvious that Lynch draws on some classic literature for inspiration, (most obviously Oliver Twist) it is more a way of honoring said literature than by stealing its ideas.

The Lies of Locke Lamora, obviously, centers  around the character Locke Lamora. The story is told following two storylines. There is the main storyline of the novel that features Locke and friends as adults. There are also "Interludes" which tell the story of Locke and a few of the Gentleman Bastards growing up. The Gentleman B…

From the Archives Double Feature: Books 27 and 28

Book 27: "Blameless" By Gail Carriger Title: "Blameless" by Gail Carriger
Verdict: Read (after the first two, of course) "Blameless" is Book three of the Parasol Protectorate Series. The series is considered Steampunk. As with the first two, I loved the wit and the language. The plot of this wasn't as strong, or as engrossing, but still an awesome read. I was thrilled that this book managed to resolve the very frustrating end of "Changeless". Overall, read the first two book reveiws, "Soulless" and "Changeless", for more information. I will definitely be reading the fourth book "Heartless" due out July 1st.
Book 28: "Eyes Like Stars" by Lisa Mantchev Verdict: It was okay "Eyes Like Stars" is a Young Adult fantasy novel that incorporates classic theatrical figures. The protagonist is Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, known as Bertie, a foundling infant who is taken into the care of a magical theatre that…

Fromt the Archives: Book 26: "The Picture of Dorian Gray" By Oscar Wilde

Book 26: "The Picture of Dorian Gray" By Oscar Wilde Title: "The Picture of Dorian Gray" By Oscar Wilde
Verdict: Read This is Oscar Wilde's only novel. It was first published in 1890 and later had additions/edits that ultimately added six more chapters. The novel is character driven, primarily by the Lord Harry. His philosophies on life drive the progression of the story, from Dorian melding his soul to the painting to Dorian choosing to live a life of debauchery. In fact, each major plot point of the novel is preceded by a philosophical discussion. The novel is toted as a gothic horror, however it seems to stay true to the Victorian novel. For instance, the novel is not in first person, but the usual 3rd person narrator. Although there is an element of the supernatural, as far as form, the novel is Victorian. I was disappointed with the novel overall. I fear that I had built it up in my mind as a great story, but once read it seemed more a place for Wilde to vent …

Fromt the Archives: Books 21, 22, and 23: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy By Libba Bray

Books 21, 22, and 23: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy By Libba Bray Don't read this series if you know anything about Victorian culture- or if you tend to pick books apart, as I do. The Gemma Doyle series is a young adult historical fiction/fantasy trilogy by author Libba Bray. The trilogy consists of the three titles "A Great and Terrible Beauty", "Rebel Angels", and "The Sweet Far Thing". I read this series having never heard a bad review of it. Well there's always a first. I'm not saying the series was the worst I've ever read, I did finish it after all, but it wasn't great or even good, just average.
There are reasons behind this opinion, of course. But first I will give you a short summary of what these books are about.
Gemma Doyle, the protagonist, has inherited the power of a secret society of women, named The Order, who carry the ability to transcend realms. She is the last remaining person with this power, as her mother is killed early …

From the Archives: Book 20: "The Strain" by Guillermo Del Torro and Chuck Hogan

"The Strain" by Guillermo Del Torro and Chuck Hogan
Verdict: Really liked it. Okay, for all of you twilight lovers, this is not your kind of vampire, don't read this book. I was excited to pick up this book and see what Del Torro (writer/director of Pan's Labyrinth) would do to vampire legend. I want to make it clear that these are not even close to the sexy, intelligent, pretentious vampires our society has created. These are vampires based loosely on the South American succubus legends. "The Strain" is book one of a trilogy. The book is horror fantasy. Here's the summation. Vampirism is a plague that is taking over New York City. Transferred any time a vampire feeds, the host is transformed by parasitic worms into more of an insect than a person. Unless you are one of the seven elders or a direct descendant, the host is victim of a hive mind mentality and functions more as a zombie would than a traditional vampire. The main plotline of the story is tryi…

Book 140: "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo

Title: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Author: Victor Hugo
Publisher: Smithmark Publishers 1981 edition
Read in: Hardcover
Genre: Classic, Victorian/Gothic Literature

This book has been on my "to-read" list for a very long time; I'm glad that it isn't any longer. I did not love or hate this book. There are some things I really enjoy about it and others that I despise. Overall, I find myself underwhelmed. I have two words to describe the vast majority of this book: depressing and tedious.

My biggest problem with the book is the author, Victor Hugo. Hugo decides, quite often, to take the reader off on tangents that are completely unrelated to the story. I have to admit, I quickly began skipping these sections entirely; they were not only irrelevant, but incredibly boring. Hugo, as narrator, also has a very condescending tone; he is obviously assuming that his readers are all far less intelligent than he.

My next main issue with this story is the characters. The vast majority o…

Book 139: "Lullaby" by Chuck Palahniuk

Title: Lullaby
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Read In: Trade Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction

I finished this book just under a week ago, and I really still am not sure what to say. I really enjoyed it, as I do the majority of Palahniuk's novels. The concept (as they usually are) is very intriguing. The story is based around two main characters; each has discovered that there is a culling song in a popular children's book that actully works. A culling song is a song, primarily in African cultures, that is sung to herds and animals when they are in need of population control. Basically, it's meant to kill, painlessly and without a mark, mass numbers. This book is wonderful to pick apart. It addresses:
-the meat industry
-human nature when given the power to kill without consequence
-power structures
-religion, especially pagan
-And probably other things I missed.

Palahniuk is a master at addressing or touching …

Book 138: "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

Title: The Catcher in the Rye
Author: J.D. Salinger
Read In: Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult

This book has been on my "to-read" list for a very, very long time. It is the pioneer of the young adult genre, which doesn't actually come into shape many years later. According to Wikipedia, the book was first published in 1951 and was written for adults. I can see how it quickly became a favorite of teenagers. I have never read a book so full of angst. Seriously, the entire book is just teenage angst. The main character, Holden Caulfield, is the teenage son of an obviously very wealthy family in New York. He obviously has some anger issues, probably due to several things in his personal life. But, basically, he goes around New York City doing whatever he feels like and hating everything and everyone he comes into contact with.

I can see why the book was banned in the 50s (not that it should have been). It is full of swearing, …

Banned Books Week: Why it Matters

If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably noticed that I've been a bit excited about celebrating Banned Books Week. It is partially because it's the one week a year that's all about reading, which for a book nerd like me, is pretty exciting all on its own. It's also important, however, to spread awareness that censorship is still very present in today's society.  Books are still often challenged in schools and public libraries for a multitude of reasons. But what's the big deal? I mean, after all, you can still go to your local bookstore or the internet to buy said "banned book" with no consequences, right?
Reading has always been a passion for me. I was raised believing in the power and magic of the written word. Books, in all societies, across history, are an essential part of shaping culture. Because of their form, they have the ability to deeply tackle issues that would be otherwise inaccessible to the general public. Each art has it's s…

From the Archives: Book 19: "The Princess Bride" by William Goldman

"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman
Verdict: Read it, it's strange, but awesome.

The Princess Bride has always been one of my favorite movies. I, like many others, have every line memorized. So I decided I needed to read the book. The book is a strange experience; it really just kept me thinking that William Goldman is a genius and probably mad.

If you love the movie, you'll love the book. As Goldman wrote the screenplay for the movie, it is perhaps the most accurate adaptation I have ever seen, with direct dialogue from the book. What makes Goldman mad? The fact that he has created another author to give an added narrative element, S. Morgenstern. This alone is awesome, but his introductions are what give him the crazy element. In his introductions to the novel, he adds another layer mixing real events with fictional, changing his family structure and acting as though Morgenstern, Gilder and Florin are actual places. So you end up needing to read the introduction…

From the Archives: Book 18: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

The Giver" by Lois Lowry
Verdict: A must-read for kids and adults

"The Giver" by Lois Lowry has always been known as a children's classic. I passed it up as a child, but was convinced to read it by my mother, now that I'm infinitely less picky in my choices. I'm so glad that I listened.
This novel takes the form of a dystopia, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite genres. This dystopia, like most, gives off the air of being the perfect society: simple, happy, educated, clean, etc. People are assigned everything from jobs to families. This book follows one pre-teen who is given his job and finds out the truth. Instead of being assigned, he is selected to be the next Receiver. The Receiver holds all the memories for how things were before the perfect society existed. In other words he holds the truth of life with colors, feelings, and everything that comes with no regulated way of life.

This journey is amazing yet slightly depressing as you realize that in…

Book 137: "Grey" by E.L. James

Title: Grey (Fifty Shades #4)
Author: E.L. James
Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Read In:  Nook ePub
Genre: Romance, Fiction

Okay, I'm going to be brutally honest. I'm embarrassed that I read this book. So embarrassed that I considered not writing a review...but here I am. Did I expect this book to be awful? Yes. It fully lived up to that expectation. I read this out of curiosity, mostly, and a need to try and figure out why it has sold so many copies. Because as much wrath as it gets from differing communities, that doesn't change the fact that it sold over 1 million copies in four days, breaking records in the book industry. With no more ado, here we go...

To continue my honesty: Recently, when the new broke that E.L. James was destroyed by fans at her twitter Q&A (, I have to be honest that I thought people were over-reacting just a bit. I read th…

From the Archives: Book 17: "The Concubine's Daughter" by Pai Kit Fai

"The Concubine's Daughter" by Pai Kit Fai
Verdict: Not a fan
This book was a struggle for me to finish. It claims to be in the same vein as "Memoirs of a Geisha" on its cover which is completely false. The only thing they have in common is that they both take place in Asia. The book follows three generations (focusing on two) of women in China. The main problem I think this book had was that the author tried to cover too much. I appreciate the culture that went into the writing which made the story more interesting, but covering the life of two women from childhood through adulthood is too much for one book to handle effectively. The book ends up focusing on culture aspects over the characters, which I am never a fan of in this type of literature.
The first generation is represented through Pai Ling- a wealthy family's daughter who is sold as a concubine to a wealthy farmer. It follows her from her arrival at the farm through the birth of her daughter, Li Xia…

From the Archives: Book 16: "Beatrice and Virgil" by Yann Martel

"Beatrice and Virgil" by Yann Martel
Verdict: Like irony? Read it.
I really liked this book. I can't compare it to Martel's previous book, The Life of Pi,  as I have not read it; but after reading this, I definitely will. The book is really intricate, so the plot is hard to explain. It focuses on an author who is trying to write about the Holocaust in a new way and fails. He then meets a man who is doing what he couldn't with the storyline of Beatrice and Virgil, a donkey and an ape. This man is a taxidermist and asks for help from the main character. The majority of the book follows them working on pieces of the taxidermist's novel- who will not show them to anyone in their chronological order. The ending is disturbing and offers a classic, but still awesome, twist. 
I really loved this book, but it is not one you can just read- it requires active reading and thinking. A great book to pick apart if you are in the mood; if not, I wouldn't suggest this to yo…

From the Archives: Book 15: "Dead in the Family" by Charlaine Harris

"Dead in the Family" by Charlaine Harris
Verdict: Like Vampires? Read these!!!
For books like this, where I'm at the latest of the series, I'm not going to focus on the book specifically, unless I have started the series on this page. That being said, "Dead in the Family" is the latest in Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series, the books that HBO's "True Blood" is based on.
The books follow Sookie Stackhouse, back woods Lousiana girl who lives in Bon Temps, Lousiana. The basis for the series is that Japan created a synthetic blood, making it possible for vampires to "out" themselves to society. So Vampires are now legal citizens of the world, acknowledged in every society as real. Sookie Stackhouse, the main character, is also a supernatural of sorts, she's telepathic. She finds herself enjoying the company of vampires, whose minds she cannot read.
As the series progresses, Sookie learns there are many more supernatural things than v…

From the Archives: Book 14: "Animal Farm" by George Orwell

Book 14: "Animal Farm" by George Orwell "Animal Farm" by George Orwell
Verdict: It's a classic worthy of reading...though I'm not a fan.

So much has been said on this book that I won't take up too much time writing on it. That, along with the fact that it has now been over a month since I finished it, will make for a rather short review.
As far as classics go, this is not my favorite, or even in my top ten. As far as dystopia's go, I can see the appeal, especially for the time period in which it was written, but again not in my favorites. I always hesitate to critique classics of merit. This book does deserve to be a classic and I can see why it has been canonized, however- simply put- I didn't like it. I didn't hate it, I guess I'm apathetic to it. Overall this probably stems from two main reasons. Firstly, I've never been one to identify with animals. I just don't get involved in stories that star animals as their main characters…

From the Archives: Book 13: "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury

"Fahrenheit 451" By Ray Bradbury
Verdict: A classic that is often used as reference in many other things: Read it.
Yes, yes, I have just now read "Fahrenheit 451", for the first time. Okay, so, I hate to say it, but I'm not impressed. Perhaps I already knew too much, or the book has been over-hyped for me, but either way, I'm not in love.
If you don't know, this book is a dystopia and is about a world where reading books is forbidden. Firemen don't put out fires but start them, burning books, the houses that contain them and any occupant that refuses to leave. The main issue I had with this book? The message was too obvious. The activities that the culture are supposed to be doing are mindless television based things. The message is simple. We, as a society, should strive to preserve knowledge, knowledge that technology of modern ages is threatening to destroy. This book is not about burning books, no matter what anyone says. Books are a symbol for k…

From the Archives: Book 12: "Burned" by P.C. and Kristin Cast

"Burned" by P.C. and Kristin Cast
Verdict: I don't know why I read these books.
"Burned" is the latest in the House of Night Series, a young adult vampire series authored by P.C. Cast and her daughter Kristin Cast. Since classic vampires are quickly becoming vampires of the past, this series also puts a new spin on them. The books focus on fledgling vampires, or teenagers, that have not fully turned. Not every teen who begins the transformation (chosen by a goddess, no biting involved) survives the transformation, but while waiting for it they attend school at House of Night and gradually mature into full vampires. Each fledgling is marked with the outline of a crescent moon on their forehead. When they mature, the crescent fills in along with other markings on the brow specific to that person's talents. As the vampire becomes more powerful, the markings spread to the rest of the body. The series primarily follows Zoey Redbird, a chosen one of the Goddess. S…

Book 136: "City of Dark Magic" by Magnus Flyte

Title: City of Dark Magic
Author: Magnus Flyte
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Read In:  Trade Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism

I loved this book. I have a hard time placing it in genre. It rings most true to magical realism, though it obviously lacks the Latin/South American origin that usually goes with that genre; it is also a bit more aware about the unrealistic nature of what happens. Regardless of where it falls, it's a very good book. I finished it on Saturday and it is still with me. I can't seem to escape its world.

Primarily set in Prague, this book is full of intrigue, murder, mystery, history, music, friendship, magic, and love. The characters are unique and complex. The writing is wonderful, it completely wraps you in the world the characters are experiencing. The book is written in first person, from the point of view of two characters. The primary character is Sarah. Sarah is a PhD candidate who specializes is Beethoven. She is asked to help sort and determ…

Book 135: "I Hunt Killers" by Barry Lyga

Title:  I Hunt Killers (I Hunt Killers Series 1)
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Read In: Trade Paperback

Jasper, or Jazz, is the son of notorious serial killer. He both blames himself and fears himself just because of this one fact. To help with these feelings, he has a strong need to "help" the police find murderers. This book is basically the Dexter of YA. The only real difference is the main character is a teenager who has been trained to become a serial killer, but doesn't want to be one. In fact, he wants more than anything to prove to himself he is NOT a killer. Because of the acts of his father, he lives as a societal pariah with one friend, a girlfriend, and a crazy, senile grandmother.

Though this wasn't the most original of ideas, the book was good. The characters are endearing and the plot is exciting; it kept me reading as a thriller should. It's also well-written. I have never heard of Bar…

Book 134: "The Duff" by Kody Keplinger

Title: The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Read In: Trade Paperback
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

I'm going to be honest (well, I try to always be). This book took me by surprise. I really wasn't expecting much from it. I had seen the movie, which was amusing enough to induce curiosity and cause me to read the book. I was expecting a lot of drama, angst, and not particularly great writing. While there is some drama and angst, this book is well written. I actually liked it quite a bit. A lot more that expected.

The storyline begins with the main character, Bianca, getting called a DUFF or the Designated Ugly Fat Friend by the "popular" guy in school. The term is not meant to signify that the person is ugly or fat, just more that they're the approachable person of their friend group. The key, as it were, to their more attractive counterparts. The term sends Bianca into a spiral and causes her to reev…

Book 133: "The Hanged Man" by P.N. Elrod

Title: The Hanged Man (Her Majesty's Psychic Service #1)
Author: P.N. Elrod
Genre: Paranormal, Historical, Slightly Steampunk
Publisher:Tom Doherty Associates
Read In: Nook ePub

The Hanged Man is set in the late Victorian England. It is an alternate history where the paranormal exist and are integrated into society. The main character is a Reader. In other words, she reads the emotions of places, people, and things; much like psychic (though not the fortune telling kind). In England, Readers are used to help Scotland Yard in the investigation of crimes. Basically they read the emotions of the crime scene and provide clues from those emotions. Their sector is called her Majesty's Psychic Service and is considered a separate piece of the government. Like most books in this vein, there is a mystery and a secret society that are at play.

I had high hopes for this book. It was recommended by Gail Carriger, author of the Parasol Protectorate Series, on her blog. Unfortunately the book d…

From the Archives: Book 11: "Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld

Book 11: "Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld
Verdict: Interesting read, I'm curious to see where the rest of the series goes.
Having only read the "Uglies" series by Scott Westerfeld, I didn't go in with high expectations for the start of his new series, "Leviathan". But Westerfeld surprised me. In this new young adult novel, Westerfeld creates an interesting world that mixes fantasy/sci-fi with actual historical events*. On the brink of World War I, the story follows two characters, a boy and a girl. The boy, Aleksander is the Austrian Prince, now fleeing for his life after the assassination of his parents. The girl, Deryn Sharp is English and posing as a boy so that she can join the air service.
Similar to actual history, Europe has been split into two factions. However, the sides have new names. Instead of the Allies, you have the Darwinists. The Darwinists of this story have taken Darwin's theory of evolution and used it to their advantage. The…