Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Siege and Storm Book Review

Title: Siege and Storm
Author:  Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 4/5
Age Group: YA

GoodReads Run Down: 

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Review: As much as I hate to admit it, I had a total dingbat moment. After reading Jessica's review of Shadow and Bone on Rabid Reads I decided to read this book. Well, here is the dingbat moment - when I went to the library I was a bit distracted and grabbed this book, book two, instead of getting Shadow and Bone. The covers are similar and I wasn't all that focused. So I get home and start reading. It's a very fast, easy read and I was about 100 pages in before I figured out that this is the second book.

How could be so silly you ask? Well, in part I wasn't paying attention and in part, Bardugo does such a great job of flowing into the new book that I didn't feel like I was missing much explanation about the world. Yes, I did miss some and there were moments between Alina and Mal that I didn't understand but overall I didn't miss book one. When I figured out that this was book two I did stop and try get book one but it was checkout until the end of the month so I just finished Storm and Siege  instead.

This is such a plot driven book I'm unsure if I'll go back and read book one. Especially as I saw a review on GoodReads from Wendy Darling and she was talking about the love triangle and how in the last book there will be a fourth potential lover introduced. I don't really care for numerous lover drama. In this book I was conflicted between the two love interest, Mal who is sweet and loyal and Alina's first love, and a handsome, rouge with enough charm to make ships fly. I'm inclined to root for Mal because he was there first (at least in this book) and he was Alina's first love. Then again, she gets on my nerves a bit and it seems like Mal could have someone who wasn't so tied up in the world and who could focus on him more. Mal deserves someone who is more focused on the relationship than everything else that Alina is wrapped up with because he's a nice guy who would be better if not so threatened all the time. If this were real life I would tell them to break up because if you feel that insecure about your relationship then it's time to calls it quits.

I've skipped ahead a bit so let me back up and start at the beginning. This is a great book. It's a fast read with loads of magic, mystery, love, and adventure. There are pirates who made me curl my toes with excitement - a pair of siblings in particular make me sooo happy. Not to mention Strumhound, the sexy, charming, brilliant captain who resembles a fox (which with my obsession with foxes, just makes me love him even more).

Skipping the first book caused me to lose out on some drama and understanding of some issues but not for long as the recaps are quick but well done. This is an interesting world that reminds me of Russia meets Avatar The Last Air Bender. (*It should be noted that I LOVE Avatar and that world so I liked this world right off the bat.)

I'm not a huge fan of the main character, Alina but she doesn't bother me enough to not enjoy the book. She's a bit...I don't know, annoying? No, that's not right. It's hard to explain but she just doesn't gel with me. Despite that, the other characters are interesting and the story is gripping. I think I'm going to read the first book at some point but most likely after I've read the third so I don't get whiplash. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting, waiting, there's nothing like waiting...

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-have" selection is: The Immortal Crown: An Age of X Novel by Richelle Mead
 to released on May 29, 2014 (or so, there are a few different dates on the web at the moment). 

From GoodReads: 

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodline series returns with the second installment in her acclaimed Age of X series.

Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.

Why I'm waiting: I enjoyed the Vampire Academy books but didn't like the Succubus books as much. When I started read Gameboard of the Gods I wasn't sure about the new series but it was soo good! I can't wait for the next installment. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Title: Tin Star
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Rating: 5/5
Age Group: YA

GoodReads Run Down: On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on
the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind. 

Review: To say I love this book is an understatement - I adore this book (no simply about it). This was a book that popped up in my life. Goodreads sent me an email letting me know that Tin Star was now available. This was strange as I've never received such an email from Goodreads before and I don't remember ever putting this book on my to read list. Anyway, I decided to check my local library and it was on order. Two days later I had the book in my hands but wasn't all that interested in reading it...but then I cracked the spine and it was so amazing I couldn't put it down. 

This isn't my typical book. There's little to action. The protagonists is a female, a strong one that at, but she's very closed and I tend to like the emotional powerhouses who fight and freak out all the time. Tula is a brilliant character though. She's wise and a true scraper. She misses an obvious issue that I saw miles away BUT it made sense that she missed it. It also distracted me from a couple of things that were wonderful surprises later. 

While the story takes place in the middle of nowhere, literally the middle of long forgotten space, the characters are so alive, so endearing it's odd to think of life outside. As I've said, there is very little action, the start of the story with Tula getting beaten by Brother Blue (don't worry, it's not a spoiler because it happens in the first couple of pages) there isn't much other action. This is more of a slow burn I guess...but it's not a typical slow burn. Normally I think of slow burn as dull but this book is anything but dull. 

We ride along as Tula negotiates her survival and success in an array of alien cultures. It's such an interesting journey to watch her weave through the culture of the station and her emotional baggage. What is also interesting is how economical Castellucci's telling of the story is. There are no wasted words, no scenes that don't fit perfectly into the larger puzzle of the story. I was really impressed and had to go back and re-read parts to really revel in the glory of her work. 

The ending of the book is different. Typically I won't like this type of ending but I found it fulfilling none the less. When I closed this book I was so happy and sad and fulfilled. I didn't feel cheated, I didn't feel like I needed more. Sure, I would love more but if there isn't more I'm ok with that. 

Go read this book. It'll take you a day or so - I suggest giving it a few days so you can really savor it's beauty but if you need to rush though I get that too. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #3: Top Ten "Gateway" Books/Authors In My Reading Journey

I have admit, lists have always been a bit of a weak spot for me - I love them! So, here's another Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish
It's all about my favorite things - bookish lists!

Share your lists and remember to stop by where it all began The Broke and Bookish.

Top Ten "Gateway" Books

1. Number The Stars by Lowis Lowry - the book that started it all, the first book I finished, the first book I loved. 

2. Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde. I still read this once every couple of years. LOVE this book, it led me to the paranormal. She also stared my author followingness. I've followed her books ever since this first adventure with Carrie. 

3. Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. First urban fantasy book. Need I say more? 

4. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. This was major in how I think, live, and love. 

5. The Collected Stories of Colettee by Colettee. My first French love. I was obsessed in high school and college. 

6. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis opened the world of series and fantasy. Here began my love of fauns and Pan and everything else fantasy. 

7. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I can't even begin to say what world this book opened for me but it helped inspire some of my degrees 

8. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen - my first contemporary romance. I don't read a ton still but I love Allen follow her like a love sick puppy. 

9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - my first contemporary YA. It was love at first listen. 

10. Harry Potter and... by J.K. Rowling - these got me into audio books. I loved them when I read them but then when I listened to them...oh, it was love all over again. I've been an audio book listener ever since. 

What are your gateways? 

Monday, March 31, 2014

It's my blog and I'll do what I want - an odd book review

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Mysteries of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Rating:  see below for this exception
Age Group: YA

GoodReads Run-Down:  A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically
acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Review: Have you ever a read book, or rather, not read a book, that you didn't want to rate? You know, you just keep pushing and trying but you can't get through it and even then you want to like it...but you still don't?

Ugh!! I don't know what to do about this book. Help!

So I've tried listening to this book for weeks. Something like a month and I can't get past the second disc...which is so unfair. This book won so many important awards. It's about minority boys who fall in love. Good, smart, world-changing people like this book. Teenage boys who don't like to read like this book. So why don't I?

Well, for starters I just can't seem to get into it. The writing is a flash fire that does more telling than showing. The boys don't talk like the boys I know.

Why can't I like a noble book?

I do like noble books...sometimes. In fact, I like them more than sometimes damn it!

One issue with this book is that it's realistic fiction. I'm not such a fan of this typically. Normally I like my morals, my high minded ideals slathered up with science fiction or fantasy. Rainbow Rowell convinced me that I like realistic fiction but maybe it just was too much, too fast.

So, I'm not giving this book a rating because I want people to read. I want people to listen to it and love it in ways that I cannot. In a few months or a year or a couple of years I'm going to give it another try but until then I hope someone else will love it.

What books can't you love? 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Night Broken: Book Review

Title: Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8)
Author: Patrica Briggs
Rating: 5/5 (and every star in the sky)
Age Group: Adult

GoodReads Run-Down: An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate
Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Review: Where to begin. Should I start with the end? The moment when I closed the book and felt my heart a little lighter, my life a little better for having had some time with Mercy and then have it wrap up with a smile moment? Briggs is brilliant at these moments. She pushes you to run, sprint through a story without breathing then she allows you to cross the finish line with a smile and sometimes a laugh. Sure, there are plenty of dangles that are worrisome and will obviously end up in the next book but it doesn't matter because everything is so good at the end of the book.

Some of the new characters (YES! There are new characters!) and some of the old character who didn't used to have much screen time are most likely in for the long haul and it's so exciting. Gary is a great character and I love what he brings to Mercy's life. Coyote brings in the indigenous love factor. River Marked was exciting for me because he came onto the scene and made me so happy I squealed and now he's back and better than ever! When I closed the book I felt a warm comfort knowing that I'll see those guys again soon. (Ok, roughly two years, but you know, sooner than never.)

But no, I won't start there.

Should I begin with the middle? The place where the meat resides and the pages turn so fast you look up and it's morning and none of the papers that needed grading are graded? The place where I was rooting for Mercy and laughing at how lame Christy was? It's where the ex drama gets a bit nastier but then, not really. I grew up with a step-mom who exposes Christy for the weakling she is. Briggs is brilliant in that I didn't hate Christy but still wanted Mercy to school her. It was nice because it felt real and not over the top as many authors make the situations. Mercy and Adam have a strong relationship and Mercy didn't forget that - she got irrated with a situation but didn't stoop to what I call Loretta Lynn battles - you know, the ones where women fight over men and pretend that a healthy relationship can be broken by an ex. It's so nice to see a secure relationship respond to pressure in an adult manner. It was crafty and well done.

Tad's role in this book is awesome but short. He's beautiful as always and I think his character surprised Briggs a little but for the best. What's great is that we get all the lovely build up and battles with lots of character development to ice the yummy cinnamon roll. This is also where the set-up for the next books peeks it's head out and says hello for the first time.

No. I'll not start there.

I guess I'll just be predictable and start at the very beginning, because it's a very good place to start. That moment when I opened the book, heard the crack of the spine, got the whiff of new paper and potential...the feeling of going home to a world I love.

Briggs is one of my favorite authors because her characters burrow into your heart and you can't not love them. The story is really second to those characters who make the world a less mundane place. With that said, I should admit that I don't remember from the last book, Frost Burned. It was a good book but it didn't resonate with me as much as many of her other books. Night Broken made me giddy and I don't think I'll forget it anytime soon because the story clicked in my head and I can see its importance to the Mercy world.

Go buy this book. It's so good. It's better than hot cinnamon rolls.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Think Tank: Mini-Review

Title: Think Tank Volume 1
Author: Matt Hawkins / Art - Rahsan Ekedal
Rating: 5/5
Age Group: 17+

Cover Thoughts - Ok, so David looks a bit creepy on the cover - it's really just on the cover so
ignore it and read the book.

GoodReads Run-Down: Dr. David Loren is many things: child prodigy, inventor, genius, slacker... mass murderer. When a military think tank's smartest scientist decides he can no longer stomach creating weapons of destruction, will he be able to think his way out of his dilemma or find himself subject to the machinations of smaller men?

Collecting the original series (issues 1-4) in its entirety.

Review: AH! I love, LOVE LOVE this story!!! So, if I could have a super power it would be to be a physics genius. Well, that and control the weather or be Emma Frost. Ok, but anyway, for about ten years I've had a physics hot spot so when I found this comic I was sooo excited. Of course, as is my timing on most things is bad, the run was almost over so I had to wait for the graphic novel to be published.

So worth the wait!!!

This is a great series and as soon as I get a little cash I'm going to buy the next book.

Every chapter begins with a quote from Einstein and every top of the page or first panel of action has F=ma in the top left corner. F=ma is Newton's second law of motion and signals action or important motion in the story. It's a great little nod to one of the great minds of humanity and a perfect detail for the story - one of many that make this book so well done.

In graphic novels it's important to have a solid story AND great art. The art and story must work together, each providing details and concepts to feed the other - the balance is difficult. Superhero books are just good fun and the balance is important but not in the way that literature-like stories need. Hawkins and Ekedal strike a beautiful balance and the pages turn themselves.

David Loren is a brilliant guy and a great anti-hero but he could very easily be dislike-able. He makes weapons that kill mass numbers of people and he creates gadgets that destroy humanity's illusions of privacy and freedom - yet, you really don't hate dislike him. David is searching for a better a way to live, a way out but he gets so caught up in his ego and curiosity that instead of not making these weapons, he continues to do so. He says that if he doesn't someone else will so it doesn't matter as much. Yet, he's upset and doesn't want to them because he doesn't want people to die. It's a classic debate of morality waged within the young and brilliant mind of a physics genius.

The end of the graphic novel Hawkins includes pages of information on the science. He fills you in on the declassified inventions he knows about and scares you just a little because his comic reads like science fiction but it's actually either reality or near future. This is a scary element of the comic that I wasn't sure how to feel about - yes, I'm glad that it's there because it's important to be informed but ugh! It's scary! It makes me feel a bit helpless because there are all these weapons, inventions, that can do things only imagination should be able to do and they are in the hands of man.

This is another must-read graphic novel. If you have any interested in sci-fi, military science, science, the future, or just like a good story - this is your book.