Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (158)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Last Star by Rick Yancey (05/17/16):

Description on Goodreads:
We’re here, then we’re gone, and that was true before they came. That’s always been true. The Others didn’t invent death; they just perfected it. Gave death a face to put back in our face, because they knew that was the only way to crush us. It won’t end on any continent or ocean, no mountain or plain, jungle or desert. It will end where it began, where it had been from the beginning, on the battlefield of the last beating human heart.

Master storyteller Rick Yancey invokes triumph, loss, and unrelenting action as the fate of the planet is decided in the conclusion to this epic series.
Why I’m Waiting:
I just loved the first two books! I cannot wait to see what will happen in this last installment. What more can happen? Who will survive? I’m so excited for all of it. It’s not he most unique cover, but I don’t care. I want this book now. Yesterday.
What are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Beastly Bones by Wiliam Ritter

Summary (from Goodreads):
“I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.”

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer R. F. Jackaby are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First, a vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.
Reading this book was like eating a particularly good chocolate truffle. So wonderfully smooth, and rich, and sweet. My only problem is I want a whole box of chocolates now. And I have a feeling I will have a long wait for the next installment. And I do hope for many installments.
I’m so glad I listened to people and read Jackaby (book 1 of this series). In some ways this sequel was less intense than book 1. It’s mostly accepted (by any of the characters who matter) that the supernatural is real. So, in some regard, the stakes aren’t as high. Jackaby and Ms. Rook know the right people will believe them. They are even approached by the notorious non-believer from book 1 to work on the new case.
However, the mystery feels a lot more dangerous than the previous one. The new case involves stolen dinosaur bones from a dinosaur dig! The bodies and the destroyed livestock create a very dark atmosphere. Oh, and there’s all kinds of strange mythological creatures to learn about and see. There’s battling scientists, kindly farmers, supernatural hunters, and more dead bodies. There’s a lot of new characters. There’s the return of my favorite characters from book 1 (aka: Jenny, the ghost and Charlie, the police detective). Also, there is just so much fun, sassy, dialog between Jackaby and Ms. Rook.
Jackaby is the supernatural version of Sherlock and Ms. Rook is just as good, if not better than the standard Watson. The mystery, the creatures, and the setting make for a fun story. And the amazing characters and excellent, snarky writing style make this just an excellent book, period.
I loved the crush that is more developed between Ms. Rook and Charlie. I love that she gets advice from all of her acquaintances. While the most awkward, I loved the advice Jackaby gives about matters of the heart. He also just says some of the most astute, wise comments sometimes that make me step back and re-read. This book is very quotable. Though, I don’t really like to quote ARC’s, I have to this one time. In a discussion of failure, Jackaby tells Ms. Rook, “-the greatest figures in history are never the ones who avoid failure, but those who march chin-up through countless failures, one after the next, until they come upon the occasional victory” (266).
I loved this book. I give it a 10/10. And I cannot wait to see what happens next to these favorite characters of mine.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gotham Academy Volume 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher and art by Karl Kerschl

Summary (from Goodreads):
Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits...

Okay, so Gotham Academy isn't like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn't like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she's back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude...and an unexplained fear of bats.

Olive's supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Maps is the kid sister of Kyle, Olive's ex. Then there's the ghost haunting the campus...and the secret society conducting bizarre rituals.

Can Olive and Maps ace the biggest challenge of their lives? Or are they about to get schooled?
This was a lot of fun! I’ve read nothing but good things about this one. And when I saw this at a bookstore I almost bought it then and there. I played it smart though and requested it from the library. But still, I don’t think I would have minded owning this graphic novel.  It’s that cool.
If you have not somehow gathered, I’m a bit of a superhero fan. When I saw they were doing a Gotham high school/YA kind of story, I was excited. This graphic novel screams YA too. The main character at this prestigious school has lost all her memories of last summer. There’s a supposed ghost haunting the campus. Olive (the main character), also has to play tour-guide to her ex-boyfriend’s sister. There school dances, secret passages, a mixed up story with Olive’s mom being in an institution (Arkham), school drama, and plenty of mystery.
There’s also cameos by Bruce Wayne (and later Batman) and a villain I couldn’t remember from before: Croc. It’s also kind of fun to see a main character not in love or idolizing the superhero. In fact, Olive kind of seems to hate Batman. And I so need to know why!
I love the setting for this book. What’s not to like about a creepy prep school in Gotham where Bruce Wayne can just stop by? I also love the mystery. It read like a good supernatural suspense book. The art was awesome too. It reminded me of Batman the Animated series mixed with a really good manga. I’m not sure I’m feeling all the characters (yet). I love Maps. And I kind of love her brother too –the one who used to date Olive. I’m not sure how I feel about Olive yet. It does feel like I’m just getting to know her. I’ll have to keep reading the volumes to make up my mind.  I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (157)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (07/05/16):

Description on Goodreads:
In Ink and Bone, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine introduced a world where knowledge is power, and power corrupts absolutely. Now, she continues the story of those who dare to defy the Great Library—and rewrite history…

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…
Why I’m Waiting:
Book one is probably one of the most under-rated/not hyped enough YA books I’ve ever read that I think seriously needs more hype. It might have been my favorite book of the year. It was so good, I’ve already convinced 3 coworkers they need to read it (one already has). I cannot get this sequel fast enough. There is so much I need to know. And just the fact that the word, “fire,” is in the title gives me goose bumps. I cannot wait.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Good Week in Books (118)

I had another good week in books. I received three new pretties for review. Thank you, Macmillan. I’ve already read and reviewed two of them (as ARCS picked up at BEA)…I believe there needs to be a giveaway soon. And the third is one I have been waiting for, so I’m super excited to get my hands on it. Also, the outside of the pages are black. The book looks so cool.

Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
How was your week in books?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Summary (from Goodreads):
The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series contrinues Celaena's epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
Ahhh. This book. It’s one of those books that leaves you with a sad feeling when it’s over because, well, it’s over. This was my favorite of the series so far. What a great addition to the series that seems to be taking the YA world by storm.
I’m not sure I rated the other books in this series as highly as everyone else seemed to. I loved them, but I wasn’t loving them as much. Looking back at past reviews, I found some repeat occurrences that equate to personal red flags. I hate characters that boast of being able to do things that you never see them actually doing. Celaena was a lot of talk in the first couple of books. I get that she was enslaved in a labor camp and not her normal, chipper self. But, just being told she was once an assassin wasn’t enough for me. Talking about escaping and killing a room full of people is not the same as actually escaping and killing a room full of people.
Queen of Shadows shows her as the assassin. And oh my goodness, she is a remarkably tough, powerful young woman who can definitely escape and kill a room full of people (and then some). And now I feel as though she’s owned her boasting rights. She was always a strong character for me. She clearly wasn’t ever a damsel, but it was nice to finally be able to see this side and not just hear rumors about it.
The thing I love most about this series as a whole, is the characterization. I learn more about Aelin with each installment. I remember being genuinely surprised to learn who the main character actually was. And then I was more surprised. And I continued to be surprised learning about her assassin history in this book. She’s a complicated character, and my love for her grows the more I learn about her.
I also love the other characters. I love that romance is something that changes and grows; first love isn’t the only love. I wish more books handled romance in this fashion. I love the revenge story. I love the plotting, the action, the build-up, the simmering and slow-building type of romance, the world building, the politics, the evil, the witches, the demon princes, the friendships, the minor side characters, and the magic.  
Maas has proven herself to me to be a master fantasy writer. She’s probably one of my all time favorite YA fantasy writers today. I cannot wait to see where the story goes, who survives, etc. If you like YA fantasy at all, you need to read these books. I give this one a 10/10.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Summary (from Goodreads):
In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
This book was not what I was expecting it to be. I was kind of thinking it would be more of a lighter, humorous tale of an older kid with a returning imaginary friend. While a portion of the book deals with the main character’s reoccurring imaginary friend, Crenshaw –the giant cat, it was more about family and poverty.
I guess I didn’t really read what the book was about before diving in. Occasionally, I’ll do crazy things like that. I knew I’d like it. I’ve loved this author since the Animorphs series. She was the number one author I wanted to meet this year at BEA. My ARC of this book is signed! I just wasn’t prepared for the feels. I had a few tears in my eyes, reading this one.
It’s just so understandable and relatable. I can see this happening and know it does happen to a lot of families. I know medical bills can be outrageous. And I know people get fired and laid off all the time. I’ve never read anything on this topic though from the child’s point of view. Jackson’s memories of living in a minivan were so harsh. I really saw it all from his young point of view.
I loved Jackson’s relationship with his sister. He wanted to protect her, but at the same time, he didn’t want to lie to her. Reading about these kids having to give up the few belongings they cherished really melted my heart. This isn’t something I’ve read a lot about. And Applegate wrote it so well. So much can be taken away from this short novel. There’s messages about what in life is most important. There’s so much about family, friendship, and control too.
Crenshaw, if anything, was a small side note to the story. He did make Jackson more likeable to me. What’s not to like about a kid who has a giant cat for an imaginary friend? I also like that there was this thin layer of magical realism. Did Crenshaw really know everyone else’s imaginary friends? Did the dog see him? There was a fine balance between the magical and the logical, yet there was also so much hope. Hope for a better situation, hope for things not being that bad, and hope for some things to remain magical.
I mostly enjoyed this one. I wasn’t expecting the feels, but that’s my own fault for not reading what this book would entail. I also feel like I kept waiting for more story to happen. It was a very character driven novel, which I tend to like. Yet, this one seemed to be missing something. I wanted a little more plot to it than I got. All in all, I really liked it. I give it an 8/10.