Thursday, October 29, 2015

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Summary (from Goodreads):
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Like the rest of the world, I adored this book. I knew I would. It’s one of the coolest ARCs I’ve had the pleasure to read. Seriously, the ARC had a cover jacket. And all the blacked out stuff that’s on the official book’s cover is there on my copy too. I may have gone to Barnes and Noble to make sure I wasn’t missing anything too important with my copy…
This book has so many good things going for it: the format, the characters, the love story, a zombie-level plague (they kind of spell it out in the summary so I don’t feel like I’m spoiling), bossy AI, computer hacking, genocide, space ships, insane plot twists and plenty of witty commentary.
The format has been talked of before, but I’ll share more details. It’s written in emails, Instant messages, illegal documents, security footage, etc. There is no straight narrative. I actually have read similar styles before where the whole novel is a series of emails and IM’s. Though, I have never read it done quite like this before. This is kind of a higher tech version of all the things done before. And it was super exciting to be reading it.
The characters were awesome too. They each somehow managed a clear voice in all of these illegal documents and hidden conversations. Kady is strong, sassy, smart, and brave –what you come to expect from a good YA heroine. Ezra is a bit of jokester and a flirt. He’s also brave, loyal, and brilliant.  I shipped them together the whole time. I did not like them being broken up. The side characters were pretty great too.
What can possibly be worse than escaping the genocide of your planet and being chased by the spaceship who destroyed it?  Well, let’s throw in a zombie like virus that slowly kills the survivors. Oh, and an AI who may or may not have the survival of everyone as it’s main priority. And let’s make that evil space ship that is following pretty close on the tail of it all! This book was nuts. There is so much violence and action.
There were twists too that I just did not see coming! I literally had to go back and re-read things to make sure the authors weren’t pulling my leg.  There were a couple of moments where I really thought it just couldn’t get any worse for these characters, and it did. I loved being surprised, shocked, and hooked.
Also, finally, there are realistic teenagers who swear! I find it so hard to believe that out of all the YA I read, almost none of the characters ever swear. I found this believable, considering all the situations. And it’s not just to get attention, either. It makes sense in the context. There is so much sassy/witty back and forth dialog between the love interests, between certain characters and the captains, between certain characters and the AI. Seriously, the snark alone makes this worth the read.
This is probably one of my favorite books of the year. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (160)

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 Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (3/8/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Los Angeles. It’s been five years since the events of the Mortal Instruments when Nephilim stood poised on the brink of oblivion and Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs lost her parents. After the blood and violence she witnessed as a child, Emma has dedicated her life to to discovering exactly what it was that killed her parents and getting her revenge.

Raised in the Los Angeles Institute with the Blackthorn family, Emma is paired as a parabatai with her best friend, Julian Blackthorn. A series of murders in the city catch her attention — they seem to have the same characteristics as the deaths of her parents. Could the murderer be the same person? And her attention isn’t the only one caught: someone has been murdering Downworlders as well. The Fair Folk make a deal with the Institute: if the Blackthorns and Emma will investigate the killings, they’ll return Mark Blackthorn to his home. The catch: they have only two weeks to find the killers. Otherwise it’s open war between faeries and Nephilim.

The Shadowhunters of the Institute must race against time to catch the killers, even as they begin to suspect the involvement of those closest to them. At the same time, Emma is falling in love with the one person in the world she’s absolutely forbidden by Shadowhunter Law to love. Set against the glittering backdrop of present-day Los Angeles, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.
Why I’m Waiting:
I’m a big Cassandra Clare fan. I know there’s a lot of people who don’t like her, but I personally, have loved her books. Her books helped me become as obsessed with reading as I am today. I also feel like while all her stories take place in the same universe, they are each different. I have loved all of them. And this upcoming story sounds so amazing! I still hold by my position that if this author were a man, writing a genre predominately written for and read by men, there would be little to none of this animosity. Regardless, the story sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to see the urban fantasy element go to L.A. And I’m hoping for some friendly cameos of books past.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Good Week in Books (120)

I had a nice book week. I turned 29 this week. I unfortunately was really sick this week with a terrible cold/flu. I am still recovering from said cold/flu and I was sick for about 10 days. This sadly did conflict with my quality reading time. Headaches make reading not fun.
But, I’m finally doing better, and I’m excited to dive back into my books. I had great food (both at a restaurant and cooked by the fabulous boyfriend). I received awesome presents.  And I watched some great tv, anime, and movies while recuperating. I purchased one book this week, my mom sent me some lovely poetry books (I do also like to read/write poetry), and I received 3 new ones for review. Thank you, Macmillan.

The books:
Unspoken by C.C. Hunter
Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
The Boy Who Knew Everything by Victoria Forester

How was your week in books?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Summary from Goodreads:
Callum Hunt’s summer break isn’t like other kids’. His closest companion is a Chaos-ridden wolf, Havoc. His father suspects him of being secretly evil. And, of course, most kids aren’t heading back to the magical world of the Magisterium in the fall.

It’s not easy for Call . . . and it gets even harder after he checks out his basement and discovers that his dad might be trying to destroy both him and Havoc.

Call escapes to the Magisterium -- but things only intensify there. The Alkahest -- a copper gauntlet capable of separating certain magicians from their magic -- has been stolen. And in their search to discover the culprit, Call and his friends Aaron and Tamara awaken the attention of some very dangerous foes -- and get closer to an even more dangerous truth.

As the mysteries of the Magisterium deepen and widen, bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare take readers on an extraordinary journey through one boy’s conflict -- and a whole world’s fate.
I love this book. I also loved the first book. I know the first one had mixed reviews (mostly because people thought it was too similar to Harry Potter), but I loved it. I didn’t find it too similar. And this book certainly was not like Harry Potter much at all. This one was in a league of its own.
The twist at the end of book 1 was epic. I did not see it coming at all, and I was super excited to see what Call would do with the information he learned. I felt so bad for Call when he discovered what he did in his father’s basement. And I must say I just love Call as a main character. He makes lists in his head of things someone evil versus someone who wasn’t evil would do. And my goodness, I just loved every second of it. I love having the main character not be the chosen one, and the good one. I love that he’s physically incapable of things everyone else doesn’t think twice about. He has a bad leg. He’s just so different.
I love his friendships and his frenemies.  I love the magic. I love the setting. The action in this one was splendid. There were Percy Jackson levels of action and suspense. It was so hard to put down. I literally woke up last night in the middle of the night and instead of thinking about going back to bed, immediately turned my light on and thought, “I might as well keep reading.” It’s that kind of book.
The story is darker, the secrets are more intense, and the adventures are riskier. Also, Call has a pet wolf! I can’t talk too much about the plot without giving away serious book 1 spoilers, so I wont. Just know this was great. I can’t wait to see how things go in the next one. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (159)

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 Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins (6/14/16):

Description on Goodreads:
A collection of twelve romantic tales of young summer love. Edited by Stephanie Perkins. Featuring new short stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.
Why I’m Waiting:
It looks so much like My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories!! And I loved that book of short stories. If this one is anything like the other, I know I’ll just adore it. Plus, look at that list of authors. How could I not love it? June cannot come fast enough. I want more YA short story collection, please.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Batgirl Volume 1: Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher and art by Babs Tarr

Summary (from Goodreads):
Barbara Gordon is no stranger to dusting herself off when disaster strikes, so when a fire destroys everything she owns, she spots the opportunity for a new lease on life – and seizes it! Following the rest of Gotham City’s young adults to the hip border district of Burnside, Barbara sets about building an all-new Batgirl…and discovers new threats preying on her peers! As the new hero of Burnside, Batgirl gets started by facing twin sister assassins on motorcycles!
This was kind of a disappointment for me. I’ve had such great luck with amazing graphic novels and comic books this year. So many great girl heroes to read about now! But, this one just wasn’t doing it for me.
I did love the art. The reason I picked it up, besides my love of Gotham related things, was the cover. The art was seriously what kept me going and allowed me to finish the book. I hope the artist does more work. The story just wasn’t as good.
I’m not a Batgirl expert. So maybe I’m wrong on this. But, I always just saw Barbara as being super strong, independent, and intelligent. I loved how smart she was always portrayed. This Barbara gets drunk at parties and doesn’t remember the boys she brings home who can roam her apartment where important things about her secret identity are kept (this was like the first few pages). She also doesn’t know to back up super important research. And she doesn’t pick up on any of the obvious clues laid out for her about each villain she faces or her friends who are trying to help her. I guess my biggest problem was this version of Barbara.
I’ve read reviews that talk about how childish some of the story is, which doesn’t mix well with all the adult behaviors. This didn’t really bother me too much. I kind of loved the idea of technology based super villains and bad guys dressed as Manga characters. I like this Gotham 2.0 stuff. I thought it was fun getting something new. I liked the bad guys. And I liked seeing Barbara be a realistic young person of today.
I just wish this version of Batgirl could have held on to that intelligence that I really loved about the character. I’m not saying Barbara isn’t allowed to have a random hookup or use the Gotham version of Tinder (like she kind of does later); I just wish she was smarter about the decisions she made through it all. Like maybe when there are strangers over at your apartment, you shouldn’t leave out important things. Maybe I’m too attached to an older version of the character, I don’t know.
All in all, the art was amazing. I liked the technical makeover Gotham received. I found the villains fun and entertaining. Also, seeing Black Canary was super cool. I just found this version of Barbara to be kind of dumbed down. I wished she made smarter decisions and or that she grew through out the stories and learned from her mistakes. But, she really didn’t. All in all I guess I give it a 6/10. I don’t think I’ll read more.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan and read by Nick Chamian

Summary (from Goodreads):
At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy's instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through Gaea's forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors from both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape? They have no choice. If the demigods don't succeed, Gaea's armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus. This paperback edition will include a new short story in which Percy and Annabeth fight alongside Carter and Sadie Kane.
These books have been a blast. Seriously, Rick Riordan has set the bar high for middle grade fantasy. His stories are full of action, adventure, suspense, magic, mythological creatures, Gods, heroes, and now there is also Tartarus, evil creatures that won’t stay dead, giants, statues to guard, Romans to avoid battle with, and so much more.
It took me longer to finish this book than any of the others. It had nothing to do with the awesome story, and everything to do with a not-so good shift in narrator. I hate when narrators change mid-series. It took me so long to get used to the new voice of it all. And then once I did, I still never felt as fully immersed in this incredible world. He sounded very nasally and hipster, and sometimes his inflections for people’s voices were so off-putting, I’d be pulled right out of the story.
I wanted to finish these books by listening to them.  It’s hard to switch mid-series or even mid-book to a different format. So, I think I will truck through the last one via audiobook too. It’s sad because I know I’d like it better if I read it, but I just can’t listen to four books in a series and then switch to the regular format. I just can’t. Though, I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading his new series. No more audio for me with these.
As I probably say with each new book I read in this series, the stakes are higher. The risks are greater. The drama is more intense. And everything is setup so nicely for the last book in the series (which I may have already started). These books just have some of the best action and suspense you can get. They are that good.
Do I still have issues with certain characters? Yes and no. I’ve started to really like Leo. I like that he gets his own romance of sorts. I like his relationship with the rest of the crew. And there are elements about him that are so Percy, so how can I not like him? It just took me until now to get that. Piper is still not my favorite character. I get that she’s a daughter of Aphrodite. And that she’s supposed to be thinking of romance a lot. I just find her so two-dimensional, and she’s in a cast of five dimensional greatness. I get to see all these great scenes were other characters bond, like Jason with Nico, or Percy with Annabeth, but I never really felt like Piper bonded with anyone. I don’t know. Maybe she’ll have her moments in the last book. I’ll have to see and reserve most of my judgment until I’ve finished it all. Also, I love Nico. I’m so glad he’s back in this series. And I’m so happy to lean he has a point of view in the last book.
It was really cool seeing Tartarus in this book. I’ve never read a book that takes place there. Also, I loved how Riordan is blurring the lines between who and what is good and evil. There’s good Titans, and friendly giants (and let’s not forget about an old friend whose a Cyclops). People and creatures aren’t inherently good or evil. Their choices and actions are what make them good or evil. And I like this concept. I like that it always seems harder for Annabeth to grasp this than Percy. She’s not perfect. And I love how they balance off each other in this one.
Overall, this was probably my favorite book in the series so far. I’m giving it a 9/10. It would probably have been a 10/10 if the narrator wasn’t so bad. I may have to end up reading these books the old fashioned way some day and then I’ll really know. I can’t wait to see how it all resolves in the last book.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Good Week in Books (119)

I had a great week. Preorders came in. Oh my goodness. I cannot wait to read Carry On. It’s probably one of the books I was most excited for all year. And it’s here! I got some review books in too. Thank you Macmillan! I helped run a book signing at my library. And then a couple of days later I went to an author event in Boston and got my first book signed by Rick Riordan! He was a fabulous speaker. Seriously, I was laughing throughout his whole speech.
Really, I forget how special individual book events can be. BEA and ALA are awesome, but there’s something so powerful about being in an auditorium filled with hundreds (possibly a thousand) people who are all laughing and screaming and listening to the same loved author you are. We were all connected by just one author, and it was so so cool. I also got his newest book a day early! And I was one of the first people in the world to hear the news about his other series coming out later this spring. He even answered some very good questions about certain characters, members of the audience had needed to know. I’m so excited to read his new book too.
The books (and I want to read them all right now!):

Carry On
by Rainbow Rowell
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
Dream Strider by Lindsay Smith
First and Then by Emma Mills
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
How was your week in books?

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.