Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Talks | When the Spine Size Decides

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion group created by Janie and Janelle where we discuss bookish topics. Join the discussions and have fun on the goodreads group (linked above).

How Book Size Influences My Reading
As many of my blogger/booktuber friends probably know, I love fantasy novels. They are absolutely brilliant (when done well) and make me love reading even more each time I pick one up. One thing that is popular in the fantasy genre is to have gigantic books. And I love this!

When I was a teenager I wouldn't pick up a book that wasn't "big" enough. Basically this amounted to me browsing shelves and determining which books had the biggest spines, then seeing what the books were about and picking the ones I thought I would like. Small books were ignored. So yes, when a book is at least 500 pages I'm happy. However, I do not think it's necessary for every book to be this long. I've done some growing up in the past ten years. 

I try not to let the size of a book either encourage or discourage my reading. If I'm interested, I'm interested. Sure I've picked up short books because they were short and I wanted a fast read, but in general that's not something I do. If I'm interested in the story I will pick it up and read it no matter how long it is. My favorite novel (The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson) is around four hundred thousand words, which is roughly a thousand pages in a hardback format. I've also read some excellent short stories and novellas this year, some of them coming in at only around ten thousand words, far under a hundred pages. 

If a writer has a story to tell that I'm interested in reading, then I will read it no matter the length. I do love long novels, but there are some excellent short ones as well. So for me length isn't really a factor in most cases. 

How do you think the lengths of novels plays into your reading?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Golden Braid~Melanie Dickerson | Review

Title: The Golden Braid (Fairy Tales #6)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: YA Fairy Tale Retelling
Length: 368 Pages
Release: November 2015
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel was enjoyable, but not great. I've never been a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, but recently I've read a few and really enjoyed them. An interesting spin can be put on things. That's what this one sounded like, so I decided to give it a read. 

The idea of Rapunzel wanting to become educated and being forbidden (basically) by her mother (Gothel) was interesting and different. It's a tale set in an old time, so it's not been modernized and it has an interesting story line. Rapunzel wants to learn to read, but has never had the opportunity because her mother is controlling and prevents her from doing so. She has several other useful skills, however, such as knife throwing. 

After being rescued by Sir Gerek and then rescuing him in turn, Rapunzel seeks out a way to learn to read. Gerek becomes her teacher (although no willingly) and the two start to develop a friendship. But boy does her mother have problems with that. 

At first I was not at all into Rapunzel and Gerek's relationship. They were both annoying and I didn't like how they fit together. Later on in the story they grew on me, however. I would have liked more building in their relationship, but we did get some toward the end. 

I've never read any of Dickerson's other works, so I don't know how this compares. I did find the writing style somewhat stilted and difficult to follow at times. Too much was left open about the characters in the beginning. 

This wasn't the best fairy tale story I've read, but I do think it would appeal to fans of the genre. There's also a strong Christian presence throughout the novel which would appeal to many.

Tuesday Talks | How Book Hype Affects My Reading

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion group created by Janie and Janelle. We discuss bookish topics suggested by group members on goodreads. So if you're looking for a discussion group, join us!

How Book Hype Affects My Read
This is a great thing to discuss because I think it has an impact on everyone, good and bad. Personally I try not to read books while they are the extreme IT thing. If I'm interested in the book I'll come back to it later or avoid any reviews/discussions about the book while I'm reading. Otherwise I'm probably setting myself up for disappointment. 

I don't always dislike books that are over hyped; in fact I've been introduced to some great series' just because of the hype surrounding them. I just don't like for this to be the main driving force behind me reading a book. I always hear things like "everyone was reading this book so it was time for me to give it a try" or "this book has gotten so much attention that I couldn't not love it". To me I have to have a genuine interest in the book. I love books being recommended to me, but I'm not going to read every book that is. Some just aren't things that I'm interested in. So no matter how many people have read and loved it, I'm not going to pick it up if I don't think I'll like it. I've been far too guilty of this in the past, I don't want to make the same mistake. 

Book hype is a good thing. I want to share my love with others when I read a great series. I just don't like it being over sold because of the chances of disappointment. I've read many really popular and super hyped books and loved them, I just don't want it to rule what I'm reading. 

What do you think about hyped books? Does it affect your reading? If so, how?  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Resurrection~P D Kalnay | Review

Title: Resurrection (The Alien Documentaries #1)
Author: P D Kalnay
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 336 Pages
Release: November 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

I've been trying to get more into Science Fiction, so when the author asked me to beta read this novel I was really excited to do so. Sometimes science fiction can take the whole alien thing to an extreme and turn a good thing into a bad thing. This is not one of those times. 

One thing that I particularly liked about this novel were the characters. Each character was easy to relate to and none of them were perfect. They all made mistakes and learned from those mistakes. And it wasn't overly serious. Most of the science fiction I've picked up recently has characters who seem almost perfect and extremely serious situations with very little humor. I really need humor in my books. 

The novel is told in third person, but alternates between a few different characters. The main characters we get perspectives from are Darren, a regular middle class man who has always dreamed of working in space and of aliens. And Darren's daughter Angela, a teen who loves to game and watch things that a thirteen year old probably shouldn't. While there are other characters thrown in, these are the main two you get to spend time with. Personally I think having these multiple perspectives (and the fact that one of them is a teenager) made the novel more realistic. There were regular family interactions and issues, not just some guy on a spaceship somewhere fighting for his planet (yes, these can be good too). 

The novel isn't perfect, but it's really good. The society that's been developed in this futuristic novel is interesting and not so different from what we know to be overly complicated or difficult to understand. There is video gaming, which can always be a nice touch to this type of novel, and of course aliens. 

The ending is very satisfying, but I'm still looking forward to reading the remaining novels in the series. Fun, fast paced, and just generally interesting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

All Fall Down~Stacy Green | Review

Title: All Fall Down (Lucy Kendall #4)
Author: Stacy Green
Genre: Suspense/Thriller/Horror/Mystery
Length: 320 Pages
Release: November 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This is the fourth and final novel in the Lucy Kendall series. I have to admit, I was worried about where this one would take us and if it would live up to the previous installments. But it did. And I'm pretty sure it's my favorite of the series. 

Lucy is forced to leave her new life in the DC area and return to Philadelphia when one of the people closest to her disappears. In a race against the clock, Lucy is forced to confront many of the demons lurking in her past. The process is a painful one. 

The characters in this story are phenomenal. Lucy is dark, twisted, but still caring. I would have liked to see Todd more throughout the series, but I really enjoyed what we did get with him. Justin, Kelly, Chris, and the rest of the side characters are fascinating. I'm really going to miss this series. 

There were so many revelations made throughout this novel that were surprising, to say the least. Did they make sense? Yes. Did I expect them? No. Definitely not. Which is one of the brilliant things about this series. It managed to keep me going through three and a half books without figuring out what the major reveal would be. And it was great. 

The ending was satisfying but definitely open. There are so many things that could happen in Lucy's life. I hope we get to see some appearances of this character in future crossover novels.

If you enjoy mystery, thriller, and horror stories you should give this series a try. You won't regret it.    

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday Talks | How the Book Community Influences My Reading

If you want to find out more about Tuesday Talks visit the goodreads group. It's a discussion group created by Janie and Janelle and it's a lot of fun to chat about bookish things every week. 

How the Book Community Influences my Reading
The biggest impact that a book community has had on my reading is expanding my reading spectrum. Ever since I got involved with Booktube, blogging, and goodreads about a year ago I've started reading more diversely. It's helped me determine what types of books I do and do not enjoy reading as well as introduced me to some amazing books that I would never have picked up otherwise. 

To me it's important to have a connection with other readers whether it be local book friends or online. The whole book community covers the world. I buddy read with people I know in person, people I know online, and get recommendations from so many different sources. I've found some of my favorite books through interacting with other readers online. 

The book community has mostly had a positive impact on my reading experiences. I've met some amazing people through my online interactions and learned so much about the world in general. Communicating with other book lovers has had an amazing impact on my life in general and I'm so excited to see how it continues to help me grow as a reader as well as a person in general.

What about you, how has the book community influenced you? 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Black Widow: Forever Red~Margaret Stohl | Review

Title: Black Widow: Forever Red 
Author: Margaret Stohl
Genre: YA Superhero/Thriller
Length: 401 Pages
Release: October 2015
My Rating: 2/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this novel as soon as I found out that I could and I was really excited when I was approved. Black Widow is an intriguing character and I had hoped this novel would delve more into her past and explore the intricacies of her mental psyche. I was disappointed in these hopes. 

How can you have a novel called Black Widow and then have Black Widow play a side role? It makes no sense. Instead we're stuck with a couple of confused teenagers who, while not completely unlikable, lack the complexity I was looking for. And the insta love was extreme. That is possibly what annoyed me most. After a day of knowing each other they are thinking about love, not knowing how to survive on their own, and even more nonsense. It was extremely annoying. 

And Natasha (Black Widow). Where do I begin? Her character was almost nothing like the woman from the movies. And the other Avengers who appeared, really. Who are these people? And not a single mention of Hawkeye, unless I overlooked it. Aren't they best friends? Wouldn't he be her go to and not Tony, Steve, Bruce, or Pepper, who are the ones mentioned when it talks about her secret keeping? The characterization just did not follow through with what's presented in the movies. 

I'm a huge fan of the Beautiful Creatures novels and really enjoy Margaret Stohl's writing, but this read more like fanfiction that an actual Marvelverse creation. I don't know who came up with the overall story and backdrop, but it fell far short of my expectations.  

The Forever Man~Eoin Colfer | Review

Title: The Forever Man (W.A.R.P. #3)
Author: Eoin Colfer
Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction/Time Travel
Length: 339 Pages (Hardback)
Release: October 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I have been a huge fan of Eoin Colfer ever since I first started reading the Artemis Fowl series many years ago. And when I found out about this trilogy (the first two books were already out), I was very excited. This final installment was just what the story needed. 
Going into this book I wasn't sure what to expect. After the second book, The Hangman's Revolution, I wasn't sure where the story could or would head. This one has Riley and Chevie being thrown even further back in time and Chevie accused of witchcraft. And Albert Garrick is back, seeking revenge. 

There were some new characters added for this installment that were so much fun. The whole time travel thing is always interesting to me and I love how it's explored here. There are mutations that occur as you travel through time. You might get cats eyes, become a dog, or a sea serpent. And those are only a few things that could happen. 

Chevie and Riley are separated for most of this book, but it works really well. They are both trying to save the other with extremely poor odds. As usual. I don't know what to say about this book that will convince you that you need to read the series, but you really should. 

Colfer explores relationships and plays with time so beautifully. The ending to this was amazing. There was a bittersweet aspect to it, but more sweet than bitter. When a book is fun to read I'm happy. When a book is fun, well written, has great characters and depth, then I'm very happy. And this book had it all. Go read it now. Well, read the first two if you haven't, then read this.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Monthly Recommendations | Trilogies

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group that was created by the booktubers Kayla Rayne and Trina (Between Chapters). There's a topic each month and you get to choose how you want to interpret that topic and then recommend books based around it.

I was going to try and narrow this list down to a certain genre/theme, but I couldn't. So you're just going to get some of my favorites. Some of these are well known, some are less well known, but they are some of my favorites. Most of these will be ones that I have completed, but I will include a couple that I feel very sure that I will like the third book.

 The Legend trilogy is definitely a well known trilogy in the realm of YA dystopia and it's my favorite dystopian trilogy. I love the characters, the writing, the story. And they get better book by book. I enjoyed it even more the second time around. And Champion, the final book, is my favorite. Also Marie Lu is super nice, if you get the chance to meet her you definitely should.

 I picked this book up right before Yallfest last year having no idea what I was getting into. It was fantasy (my favorite) and sounded interesting. I was hooked from the beginning. It's just so beautiful and fun. The third book is my favorite in this series as well. And again, Leigh Bardugo is really nice. Meet her if you can.

I don't know how I first heard about this trilogy, but I read it in three days. And loved it. There is a companion novel now that's kind of a fourth installment (but not really) which is also really good. Cole is my favorite, so Sinner was amazing. I know this series gets a lot of hate, but to me it's beautiful. Maggie just has such a beautiful style. Love it.

I absolutely adore Eoin Colfer's stories and writing. The Artemis Fowl series has been a favorite for years now and this trilogy (which I just finished) is brilliant. It's middle grade time travel and adventure. The bulk of the story takes place in Victorian London. The characters are just what I would expect from Colfer and the story is exciting and fun.

This is another middle grade trilogy. It has been suggested to me a couple of times but for some reason it took me ages to pick it up. Once I did though, I was hooked. Sage is one of my all time favorite characters. I just love these books. Definitely a series I will be rereading in the future.

If you know anything about me then you probably know I LOVE Brandon Sanderson. His Mistborn trilogy is what got me started with his books and they were even better the second time through. It's an adult high fantasy series (although now they are crossing over as YA). If you haven't read this and want to read a Sanderson novel, go buy The Final Empire right now and read it. You might want to get the box set, because you'll want to read them all back to back.

This is one that I haven't finished. The final book has been released, but I haven't read it yet. It's an adult historical/paranormal trilogy. Delia can  communicate with ghosts, lives in 1920s California, and has a police officer husband. I've really enjoyed the first books in this trilogy and am looking forward to finishing the final book.

This is the second Mistborn trilogy and the final installment (I think it's only a trilogy...) will be out in January. I am so excited. There are some things that I enjoy more about this series than the original. The characters and story are just brilliant. Read the first trilogy and then pick this one up.

I randomly picked this series up at the library some time last year and really enjoyed them. Jazz was an interesting character and it was nice to see his struggles to be a normal teenager since his father is a well known serial killer (and raised Jazz to be the best killer of them all). His best friend Howie and girlfriend Connie are great characters as well.

 Some more Brandon Sanderson for you. The Reckoners trilogy will be finished in February 2016, but I feel safe in saying that I'm going to love it. Sanderson has yet to disappoint so I'm confident he won't this time around. This is his YA series about people gaining super powers and becoming super villains. David, the MC, is one of my favorites of all time. You should definitely check these out.

I have enjoyed all of Shusterman's novels that I've read. His stuff is just the right amount of thought provoking, creepy, and haunting. This series is about teenagers being stuck in limbo after being derailed on their way to the after life. It's so good.

I reviewed this trilogy earlier this year and adored it. It's very emotionally charged, but so good. The two main characters come from an extremely abusive home. The have no friends and no way to escape. The trilogy tells the story of them growing up, fighting for their freedom, and finding their way in the world. It's a great trilogy.

I guess that will be it this time. I feel like I've thrown a load of books at you, but hey, I really like them! Let me know if you've read any of these or what some of your favorite trilogies are. 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

How to Be Brave~E Katherine Kottaras | Review

Title: How to Be Brave
Author: E Katherine Kottaras
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 288 Pages
Release: November 2015
My Rating: 1/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I was extremely excited to read this book when I first saw it on Netgalley. Books with "bucket list" type plots are so fun to me. I don't mind if a lot of the stuff gets repeated, I just like to see the journey and how different characters handle their own to-do lists. So this was an immediate request. I was looking forward to it for ages but didn't want to pick it up too far in advance of the release date.
The first chapter had me questioning whether I wanted to continue with the book. I pushed through, hoping it would improve along the way. Unfortunately, for me, it just fell very short of the mark. I didn't much care for Georgia. She was constantly down on herself and I never really felt like she grew in the story. She made some mistakes and there were life lessons for her to learn, but it didn't really feel like she learned them. 

I was also expecting this book to be focused toward a somewhat younger audience, so the cursing and drug use came as somewhat of a surprise to me. The list was rather different than I expected and it didn't seem like Georgia really spent that much time trying to complete it. 

The writing was ok, but I wasn't extremely impressed. There were poetry like portions where the narrator (Georgia) was mostly explaining how things had been with her mother. I thought this was an interesting style, but it didn't work very well for me. The art aspect was also interesting, I just would have liked to see it more in the story and how Georgia responded to it.

Many people have really enjoyed this book and I'm sure many more will enjoy it also. I was expecting some adventures, facing fears, growing up, learning to love, losing, hurting, all that sort of coming of age stuff. In some ways these elements were present, but they never really reached their full potential.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Gallaudet Children's Dictionary of American Sign Language | Review

Title: The Gallaudet Children's Dictionary of American Sign Language
Genre: Nonfiction Education
Length: 384 Pages
Release: September 2014
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a copy of this dictionary through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Over the past couple of years I've become extremely interested in learning American Sign Language (ASL). All signed languages are fascinating and extremely useful. I was really excited to be able to explore this dictionary and use it to further my studies of this beautiful language. 

The dictionary shares information about ASL, the deaf community, and the different between Deaf and deaf. It was all extremely useful. After these first pages of information it gets right into the dictionary portion, which shows illustrations explaining the hand movements that make up a certain word or phrase. 

While I think the dictionary is extremely helpful and the illustrations very well done, some of them were more difficult to understand. It can be hard to understand certain signs from an illustration because the movements are hard to depict in a drawing. Since there is a version with a DVD, I'm sure that helps for clarification. 

This is an excellent resource to include if you're learning or teaching ASL. I found the information to be very helpful with my studies and look forward to furthering my knowledge.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Background Information

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion group started by Janie and Janelle. You should check it out and get involved with the fun.

Background/Backstory: How much do you want?
This really honestly completely depends on the book for me. In some cases having information about the characters and their pasts is really helpful and gives me more of a connection with the story. In other situations I don't mind not having much to go on. Sometimes the characters' stories unravel as the novel progresses and I really like that. 
I also think it has something to do with the genre. I read a lot of fantasy and thrillers and with these I think it can help the story move better if the details are sparse to begin with. There really isn't much for me to say about this topic because it's all on a book by book basis for me really. 

What do you prefer? A lot of background, only a little? Let me know your thoughts!

Until We Meet Again~Renee Collins | Review

Title: Until We Meet Again
Author: Renee Collins
Genre: YA Romance, Time Travel
Length: 336 Pages
Release: November 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

First, let's look at that cover. Covers aren't generally what draws me to a book (I'm more of a title person), but this one is very beautiful. I love the ocean and this moonlit view of the ocean is gorgeous. Also, it plays a big role in the novel. 

This book, while not necessarily grouped in my favorite genre, was addictive. I read it in one day and had a hard time putting it down. The writing was nicely done, the story was interesting, and everything just flowed so smoothly. 

Cassandra and Lawrence meet on the beach and confusion ensues. Both of them claim to live in the same house...Only Lawrence is in 1925 and Cassandra is in 2015. The two fascinate each other, however, and no matter what they tell themselves they can't stay away from each other. The love story, while fast, wasn't extremely insta love like. There was some relationship building that made it enjoyable and not cringe worthy. 

I always find time travel really interesting and I actually enjoyed how it was done here. There were some intense moments when they realized decisions they were making together was affecting the future-Cassandra's time. Very interesting. The beach is their one link to each other, everywhere else is their own time. Imagine walking through a house and knowing that your friend is walking through the same house a hundred years in the past. A friend that you're about to go see. Talk about mind numbing. 

There's a mystery here that's interesting, but rather predictable. It mostly plays an important part because it connects Cassandra and Lawrence and forces them to acknowledge their connection. 

The ending to this book was perfect. It wasn't all happy and sappy, but it works. I don't always want a happily ever after and we didn't get one here (although we didn't not get one either). It's kind of a tragic love story but so beautifully wrapped up. 

Highly recommended for lovers of YA romance and time travel novels. It's fun, fast, and sweet.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Made to Kill~Adam Christopher | ARC Review

Title: Made to Kill (LA #1)
Author: Adam Christopher
Genre: Science Fiction/Historical/Mystery
Length: 240 Pages
Release: November 2015
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher Tor through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel follows Ray, a robot detective turned hit man, in 1960s Los Angeles. Being the last robot has it's perks. 
The thing that I enjoyed most about this novel was the setting and Ray's robot detective work as he tried to solve a mystery surrounding Hollywood's elite A list stars. The entire premise of the story was just interesting. I was immediately intrigued and I'm glad that I read this novel because it was fascinating. 

I haven't read very many novels with robots, but I like the way it was presented here. Ray is the last robot still in operation during the events of the novel (for reasons I won't go into as they would be spoilery). His creator is gone, there are no other robots, and the only "person" Ray has to rely on is his super computer Ada, who sets up his jobs and takes care of him. Ray's visualizations of Ada are one of the things that fascinated me most about this novel. These descriptions were such an interesting addition, particularly since you knew the entire time that she was a computer and had no body. 

The setting and mystery within the film industry in the 1960s was a nice touch. The robot stories that I'm more familiar with tend to have a more modern setting and I enjoyed the fact that this was different and brought in historic events. Since this is going to be a trilogy I'm interested to see what direction things will go in. The historic aspect, particularly there in the '60s, definitely has a lot of potential. I just wonder if any of my ideas will pop up in the future stories. 

While I really enjoyed this novel there were some things that I would like to see differently. The explanations about Ray and his robotic memory and how all of that worked, while touched on enough to be satisfying, could have used more explanation. I also didn't feel particularly invested in any of the characters, even Ray. Although I did enjoy his first person narrative and thought he had an interested perspective, I didn't feel like I knew him enough to really get invested in the story. Part of that might have to do with the fact that he doesn't even really know himself. Not sure. 

This was an enjoyable and very entertaining read. I will definitely look out for the next novels in the series as they are released as I would like to follow Ray on more journeys. I think this would appeal to anyone who enjoys science fiction and robots.