Friday, May 29, 2015

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ 

London, 1922. The City is tense - ex-servicemen are disillusioned and many are demanding change. Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, once part of the proud upper class now need to share their stately home and take in lodgers, aka "paying guests". Little do the Wrays know just how much Lilian and Leonard Barber, a young modern couple from the "clerk class", will shake up their lives and how far the repercussions surrounding the relationship formed between Frances and Lilian will travel.

I had only read The Little Stranger by this author and I was so impressed with it that I knew I had to read more by this author. While I wouldn't really compare the two books, both were great in their own ways. Waters excels at creating flawed and complex character who jump off the page, Frances and Lilian are the two I found myself invested in. I liked the slow build of their relationship and exploration of each character separately so we are able to get a very good sense of who they are and how they see themselves. This style also gives the author plenty of time to explore many themes, concepts, and taboos. While this style is great for allowing us so much time with the character, it also dragged in places it shouldn't have.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the Gothic air of mystery surrounding it in the beginning. It really complemented the slow build of the story. Unfortunately, it didn't continue throughout the story. It was dropped right around two-thirds through when it turns into the investigation. It lost that element of mystery and became very predictable. The crime and court case was incredibly predictable - I mean, we know what happened but the professional investigators sure don't. I expect Horatio could have had the mystery solved after a tilt of his head and a bad pun. It was just painful to watch the scenes drag out for the last third of the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed highly character-driven relationship drama of The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. If you like the author's style, character-driven pieces, and novels set in the aftermath of the Great War, you may want to give it a read.

I listened to the audiobook from May 22 - 28, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries #1) by James Runcie

Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.

I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.
  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.

This week I am spotlighting my current read, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries #1) by James Runcie.   I was pleasantly surprised by how great the PBS Masterpiece tv adaptation starring James Norton and Robson Green was - Grantchester, Wolf Hall, and The Hollow Crown have been recent favorites.  When I realized it was based on a book series, I needed to check it out and see how it would compare.  So, after being on hold for it for a few months it finally came in.  I haven't gotten very far yet, but I have very high hopes!

Book Beginnings: 

Canon Sidney Chambers had never intended to become a detective.  Indeed, it came about quite by chance, after a funeral, when a handsome woman of indeterminate age voiced her suspicion that the recent death of a Cambridge solicitor was not suicide, as had been widely reported, but murder.


How could he have been so slow?  It annoyed him beyond measure.  To have taken the information at face value; to believe what people wanted him to believe!  How had he allowed himself to be taken in? 

Even if you're not that much of a fan of cozy mysteries, as a show Grantchester was great tv and I'm looking forward to the second series.  I hope the book lives up to my expectations!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer

It's already Tuesday - it doesn't seem like it!  This Memorial Day weekend really through me off.  Thanks to all those who served.  Anyways, the theme this week for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer or Books I Think Make Great Beach Reads.  I don't really have a "beach bag" or even go to the beach for that matter, I'm taking the first option.  The books on this list are all books I plan to read this summer.  Here we go, in alphabetical order:

All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka - I watched the movie adaptation Edge of Tomorow: Live Die Repeat with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt not too long and it was awesome.  If the book has a fraction of that awesomeness it would still be great!

Cold Days by Jim Butcher - This is the fourteenth installment of The Dresden Files, one of my favorite urban fantasy series.  I've just picked up this one and the next one, Skin Game, in paperback and I can't wait to continue Harry's adventure, especially since that ending in Ghost Story!

Downfall by Rob Thurman - This is the ninth installment of the Cal Leandros series, another one of my favorites of the urban fantasy genre.  This series just keeps getting better and I can't wait to see where Thurman goes here!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - I just picked this new YA fantasy a short time ago and I'm interested in seeing what all the fuss is about.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke - I've head so many amazing things about this novel and I must admit the trailer for the tv show looks absolutely brilliant!  I have to read this before I watch the show.

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi - This sounds like the best kind of weird.  And, just look at that cover!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard - I fully expect to love this!

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin - I need to continue this series!

Tricked by Kevin Hearne - This urban fantasy series is quickly becoming one of my favorites as well and I can't wait to see what's next for Atticus O'Sullivan here in the fourth installment of The Iron Druid .

Unbound by Jim C. Hines - I have enjoyed the Magic Ex Libris series so much - as I librarian myself I get quite a kick out of it!

What do you think of my list?  Have you read, or want to read any of these books?  Until next Tuesday!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1) y Julie Kagawa - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ ❋ ❋ 

Actual rating 4.5 stars.

Nothing has been quite right in Meghan Chase's life since her father mysteriously disappeared 10 years ago and she's never quite fit in anywhere. When a stranger starts watching her and her best friend, Robbie, becomes overly protective of her, she can tell that something is about to change. She never would have guessed the truth - that she's a half-faerie and the daughter of Oberon, King of the Seelie Court. That makes her very important and a potential war-time pawn. Now she'll find just how far she'll go to save her kidnapped little brother, and stop a threat that no faerie would dare face.

I've wanted to read this for quite a while now. I'd had it one my shelf for a long time and I finally got around to it I'm actually kind of ashamed that I hadn't gotten around to it sooner because it was a lot of fun.

The world-building is pretty darn fantastic throughout the novel. Kagawa is quite a visual writer so I could fully "see" scenes in my mind's eye. She also is able to bring the concept of the sidhe into the present with the iron fey and I like where she's taking it.

In regards to the cast, Meghan is a good leading lady. Although she has the appearance of a stock YA fantasy heroine, she really comes into her own over the course of the story and she is immensely likable and relatable to top it off. Robbie is a fun character, especially when you find out just who he is, and he has potential and for the most part her vision of the character is successful. Ash, a son of Queen Mab, is an interesting foil to Robbie. With his character, there are quite a few opportunities to see just how inhuman the fey are. If you don't already know, there is some romance in this novel and bit of a love triangle which I'll admit did get old at times. What saved it, for me, was the fact that the romance doesn't consume the story at all.

Overall, I enjoyed The Iron King so much and I'm looking forward to the sequel, The Iron Daughter. If you like Maggie Stiefvater and Holly Black, chances are you'll like Julie Kagawa too.

I read this novel from May 17 - 23, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Slip (The Slip Trilogy #1) by David Estes

Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.

I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.
  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.

This week I'm spotlighting my current ebook read, Slip (The Slip Trilogy #1) by David Estes.  I'm currently about 18% of the way through novel, but I'm enjoying this new YA dystopian story.  This is my fourth title by David Estes and it certainly is promising so far, even just considering the two snippets below.  If you haven't checked out his work, I can't recommend it enough.

Book Beginning (opens with an article - the body of which is in full below as it really sets up the story):

Past article from the Saint Louis Times:

Controversial Population Control Decree Written Into Law

Since the cataclysmic natural events referred to globally as the Rise and the Fall, American lawmakers have discussed various ways to control the growing population to ensure sufficient resources for survival.  A five-year study has determined that the ideal economic and social population for the Reorganized United States of America is 504 million.  As our great country is on the verge of reaching our ideal population, a population control system will be instituted on the 5th of December this year.  Prior to pregnancy, all couples planning a family must register with the Department of Population Control of the Reorganized United States of America, and pay a nonrefundable processing fee.  After processing, each couple will receive a "pregnancy offset," which the media is casually referring to as a Death Match, someone who is likely to die in the near future.  Only when their Death Match has died will the couple be authorized for pregnancy and child-bearing, thus maintaining the population status quo.  This process has been coined Birth Neutrality, and is being referred to as "the cornerstone of our survival," by recently elected President Ford.  In the even of an unsuccessful pregnancy, the Death Match will be voided and provided to another couple in need of a match.  At that time, the couple may reapply and try again.  Punishment for non-compliance will fall under the jurisdiction of the newly established Department of Population Control, which has been nicknamed Pop Con.

56 (from page 250, at 56% of the ebook):

Michael Kelly hasn't left his office for hours, since the reports of the explosion on the outskirts of the city and the rumors of a failed attempt to apprehend the Slip.  His face is hot, flush with anger and frustration, even as his hands are cold and clammy with anxiety.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Part 1: Phantom Blood, Vol. 1 by Hirohiko Araki - Review

❋ ❋ 

Actual rating - 2.5 stars.

When Dio Brando's father passes away, a nobleman he "saved" years earlier agrees to take in Dio and raise him as his own alongside his own son Jonathan. Dio's father was a real scumbag and the apple didn't fall far from the tree - Dio, if anything, is actually much worse. Dio makes it his life goal to torment Jonathan Joestar, a young man who wants to be a true gentleman, and take his family for everything it's worth. There's also a stone mask that has vampiric qualities that makes the wearer seemingly immortal and incredibly strong.

I'd never heard of this series before I picked it up at the library - mostly because the cover is just so eye-catching and the opening full-color pages are quite intriguing. Since, I've looked it up and learned the series has it's roots in Shonen Jump Magazine and has been around since 1986, this is just the first time it's been translated into English.

So far, I can honestly say that I don't know what to think of it, aside from the fact that it's very bizarre - the title definitely fits the story. It was fun, but it seems a little distant. I've read the extreme origin story for these characters, but I still have a lot of questions - primarily regarding motive. I mean, I understand that the characters are supposed to like an embodiment of good and evil, but it seems forced. Another question, how did twelve year-olds get to be so ridiculously muscular - and that's just in the beginning because after the seven year flash-forward they look like 1980s action stars. I didn't realize they were supposed to be that young in the beginning! Back to the 1980s thing, check out their hairstyles, oh, and one minor character is called Speedwagon. Three guesses where that comes from.

Overall, I liked it, but it everything about it is just so exaggerated and a bit stiff when it shouldn't be. I like manga, but the art here isn't really my style and sometimes it could be difficult to follow some of the action sequences. It was weirdly fun, but I don't know if I'll be coming back for round two.

I read this manga on May 20, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Songs I'm Currently Enjoying

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a freebie so I decided to go a different route this week and talk about music.  Listed below in alphabetical order by artist are ten songs I'm currently enjoying, not all of which are new but are definitely worth a listen:

Let Her Dance by The Bobby Fuller Four -This song was featured in the movie adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox (which if you haven't seen, you really should).  This list could have easily comprised the entire soundtrack of the movie actually.  I recently rewatched the movie and remembered how much I liked this song.

Hounds by Della Mae - Della Mae is a fantastic up-and-coming bluegrass group.  This particular song is from their last album, This World Can Oft Be.  They've just released their newest self-titled album and I can't wait to hear it!

Uma Thurman by Fall Out Boy - I've always like this band and I don't know why but I haven't got their two most recent albums.  I just heard this on the radio yesterday and it's stuck in my head - definitely my favorite of their recent singles.  And, you just can't go wrong with The Munsters theme song!

Budapest by George Ezra - George Ezra has a stunning voice.  I heard him a couple times on the radio and was very impressed by his performance on Saturday Night Live.  Doesn't look at all like I would have thought, though.  His album, Wanted on Voyage, is pretty great.

I've Been Everywhere by Hank Snow - You know the Johnny Cash version of this song, right?  (If you don't, look it up!)  If you thought Cash didn't waste any time in naming the places he's been, think again.  Hank Snow's 1962 reworking of the Australian Lucky Starr hit makes Cash sound like he's going incredibly slow!  I can't imagine the concentration it would take to perform this song live like he does in the above video!

Wishing Will Make It So by Harry James and His Orchestra featuring Frank Sinatra - Before Frank Sinatra worked with Tommy Dorsey, he worked with band leader Harry James in 1939.  They weren't together long, but their combined talents really acted as a catalyst for Sinatra's career.  I just happened to stumble upon this album a little while back and I can't get enough of it.  You may notice Sinatra has a quite a different sound in the early days.

Old Home Place by J.D. Crowe and the New South - I'm a fan of bluegrass music and you can't go wrong with this band - this song is one of my favorites of theirs.  I particularly like Tony Rice on guitar and lead vocals, Ricky Skaggs on mandolin, and Jerry Douglass on the dobro.  I hope you're not too put off by the '70s clothes and hair.

Baggy Pants by Jan and Dean - Before this pair hit it big with surf music along with The Beach Boys, they were known for their doo-wop music.  Basically, I stumbled upon Golden Hits, Volume 1 in the record bin at my local Goodwill.  All of the songs are a lot of fun, but I laughed aloud at this!  Who Put The Bomp is also great for a good laugh.

Rollin' and Tumblin' by Muddy Waters - This song has been covered by so many artists, but my favorite and probably the most well-known version was recorded by Muddy Waters, the father of modern Chicago blues, in 1950.

Vagabond Shoes by Vic Damone - If you're interested in artists like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, and Jo Stafford like I am, you'll have to check out Vic Damone's work, especially from the Mercury years.

What do you think of my topic this week?  Hear any songs or artists you like?  Thanks for checking out my blog - comments are always appreciated!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ ❋ 

Lynn knows every potential threat to the pond from droughts and coyotes to the most dangerous of all, thirsty people who just want a drink. Every day life is a constant struggle to survival and Lynn has dedicated herself to making sure she sees tomorrow. She has no use for whatever may exist away from her home, the pond, and the nearby fields and woods. The pond requires constant protection and Mother has taught her well during their hours on the rooftop with their rifles at the ready. However, Lynn knows that what little peace they have won't last much longer - the smoke on the horizon, footprints near the pond, gunfire, and nighttime threats mean strangers and Lynn knows that they won't stop until they get what they want.

I won a copy of this book a while back and I knew it was high time to see what all the fuss was about. I particularly enjoyed this unique post-apocalyptic story. I found myself particularly drawn to the language, characters, and setting. I didn't realize quite how spare the writing style would be going into this novel considering how small Lynn's world is even though it does broaden a little over the course of story. The starkness and rawness works wonders for the book - it feels honest and sets up the realities of her world.

In regards to the characters themselves, we have a pretty great small cast. Lynn has just the right combination of tough-as-nails grit and compassion to make me invest in her journey for over 300 pages. Stebbs, Lynn's nearest neighbor, easily became my favorite character and stole the show. Lucy and Eli are both interesting additions that begin to widen Lynn's understanding of the world beyond the pond. In different ways, they are definitely the heart of the story because they teach Lynn what it means to live. The desolate and harsh setting the action takes place in really complements the writing style. We can see easily how it takes a toll on the cast and how they react to what it throws at them.

My only complaint about the novel is that I wish there was more world-building. We get enough to piece together what's going on in terms of Lynn's life, but then when the story begins to broaden I had more questions. I wanted more and more background information on Mother's life (by the way, I was pleased to find out her first name's Lauren - I love it when I share my name with a character!), the Shortage, and the Second War for Oil. This novel is also set in my home state, Ohio, which is also where McGinnis calls home, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of what's become of it.

If you enjoyed Blood Red Road by Moira Young or The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, I have a feeling you'll probably like Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. I'm looking forward to reading it's companion, In a Handful of Dust.

I read this novel from May 7 - 17, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Down the Wormhole (Wormhole Stories #1) by Ana Franco - Review

❋ ❋ 

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

One day, a girl named Kitty (no last name) arrives at an orphanage for teens who live double lives. In fact, these teens are gods and goddess straight out of a variety of mythologies - Greek, Celtic, and Egyptian. Before she has time to be surprised by their identities, she is taken into a magical world that slowly reveals that slowly reveals the truth about herself. She'll have to come to terms quickly because there are bigger secrets about to be revealed.

Generally, I'm a fan of mixed mythologies if it's presented well and clearly. I particularly liked the sound of Lewis Carroll meets Rick Riordan which is what Down the Wormhole tries for. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to either of those. While reading I was perpetually in a state of mild confusion just trying to keep the characters straight, which is really saying something coming from me. The characters seemed to randomly jump back and forth between their "human" names and their "real" names needlessly.

As for the characters themselves, our leading lady was not fleshed out much at all. She pops into the story and things just seem to happen randomly with little explanation. Random seems to be a pretty good word choice when it comes to this story actually. The characters also behave in the same way. It really bugged me that Kitty was all over the place when it comes to actions and reactions. Although the fast-paced main plot has potential and generally held my interest, the grammar errors, plot jumps, and character whiplash prevent it from flowing evenly and organically. With some substantial work this could be the great beginning of a new series.

I read this ebook from May 8 - 9, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ ❋ ❋ 

Just out of a psych hospital, Camille's first assignment back at the newspaper is to cover the murder of two preteen girls in her hometown. Since she left eight years ago, she has barely spoken to her mother or the thirteen year-old half-sister she hardly knows. While staying in the family's Victorian mansion, she is haunted by the dark, traumatic past she tried to cut from her life. As she works to find the truth about these murders, she realizes she strongly identifies with the victims. In order to make it beyond all the dead ends, Camille will have to confront the demons of her past if she wants to survive this homecoming.

I listened to the audiobook of Sharp Objects. The performance by Ann Marie Lee is particularly good, particularly her interpretation of Camille and Amma. All of the characters Flynn has created for this psychological thriller are bad people. People you wouldn't want to meet in dark alley, especially the women. That being said, it's fascinating to read these characters and delve into their lives. Wind Gap, Missouri, the setting, was just as fully fleshed out as the cast. It felt like it could have a real small town with lots of local color. This novel is definitely not for the squeamish. I really enjoyed keeping up with the multiple twists and turns - the final reveal is really something else!

I listened to this from April 26 - May 9, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.

I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.
  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.

This week I'm spotlighting my next read, The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.  I'm actually kind of ashamed I haven't already read it.  Based on these two snippets, I'm definitely intrigued to find out more!

Book Beginning: 

The Ghost in the Computer

Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday, my father disappeared.

No, he didn't leave.  Leaving would imply suitcases and empty drawers, and late birthday cards with ten-dollar bills stuffed inside.  Leaving would imply he was unhappy with Mom and me, or that he found a new love elsewhere.  None of that was true.  He also did not die, because we would've heard about it.  There was no car crash, no body, no police mingling about the scene of a brutal murder.  It all happened very quietly.


He nodded and held up the wine bottle.  "This is mistwine.  You just had a swallow.  A cup will make everything go back to normal."  He balanced the bottle on two fingers, watching it sway back and forth.  "One cup, and you'll be normal again.  Your brother's behavior will not seem strange, and you won't remember anything weird or scary.  You know what they say -  ignorance is bliss, right?"

Monday, May 11, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I REALLY Want To Meet

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  This week's Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Authors I REALLY Want To Meet.  Yes, REALLY is in all caps.  There are so many I'd love to meet, but I going to simplify things for myself and choose authors who are currently living.  Here we go, this list is off the top of my head:

J.K. Rowling

Jim Butcher

Kevin Hearne

Neil Gaiman

Maggie Stiefvater

Marissa Meyer

John Green

Patrick Ness

Laini Taylor

David Estes

What do you think of my list?  Would you like to meet any of these awesome authors, too?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ms. Marvel, Volume 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ ❋ 

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt continues the adventures of Kamala Khan. Now the question is this: Who is the Inventor and what does he want with the new Ms. Marvel? She meets one of her favorite superheroes, Wolverine, and stumbles upon Inhumanity and her connection to it via a gigantic dog called Lockjaw. As she learns more and more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future existence. She joins up with an unlikely batch to try to put a stop to this birdbrained genius Inventor before he can cause irreversible damage, but has she stretched herself too far? How long will she be able to keep her two lives separate before things start to catch up to her.

I can't describe how excited I felt when this came in for me at the library much sooner than I expected it to! G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel is an absolute must-read for everyone, not just fans of comics and graphic novels. I like that we're getting a wider look, along with Kamala, at her new world by introducing Wolverine, Captain America (not just a vision), Queen Medusa, Lockjaw, and the Inhumans. I may not be all that familiar with them, but they are introduced in an accessible way. Like the Booklist blurb says, this "comic is full to bursting with heart and charm." Wilson's writing (Kamala gives some inspiring speeches, by the way) and Alphona and Wyatt's art are simply fantastic and complement each other well. This series is one of the best out there and I'm really looking forward to Volume 3: Crushed which promises to feature SHIELD agent Jenna Simmons and Loki!

I read this graphic novel on May 10, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.

I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.
  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.

This week I'm featuring my current read,  Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis.  I won this a while ago and finally decided to see what the fuss is all about!  I've just started it but it seems promising and I've heard great things about it.  Just based on these two snippets, it sounds like it's going to be a very intense read!  

Book Beginning:

Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink.  Mother had killed the people who came too close to their pond before, but over the next seven years they fell by Lynn's gun as well, their existence easily wiped out first by a bullet, then by the coyotes before the sun could rise.  Death and gunpowder were scents from her childhood, but today the fall breeze brought something less familiar to her rooftop perch, and her nose wrinkled.


Lynn debated.  Going out would be difficult.  Without Mother, even trips to the pond were a test of nerves.  with no one to cover her back, every step felt like a reprieve from death, each silent second without a sniper's bullet an unprayed-for miracle.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Springtime Giveaway featuring Unhinged by A.G. Howard

I've said this before but I love a good giveaway - free books are the best!  So in honor of reaching over 10,000 page views on my blog (which I still can't believe!) and the full-fledged arrival of Spring, I'm hosting another giveaway.

This time I'd like to share with you my love of A.G. Howard's Splintered series by giving away the second book, Unhinged (if you like you can also check out my review).

Look how beautifully the violets growing in my yard compliment the cover!  If you'd like to win this copy of Unhinged, be sure to see the Rafflecopter widget below!  The giveaway begins right now and ends at 12 a.m., May 15th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May the odds be ever in your favor!  Good luck!

Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles #1) by J.A. Souders - Review

❋ ❋ 

For most of her just about perfect life, Evelyn has been trained to be a Daughter of the People in the utopian, underwater base called Elysium. She was selected from hundreds for her genes, and as far as she's considered everything is just about perfect - her underwater world, the people she serves, and the law. But, then when a Surface Dweller, Gavin Hunter, stumbles upon this utopia, Evelyn realizes that she's been lied to her entire life. In fact, she's been brainwashed and her own Mother is a monster. Together, Evelyn and Gavin plot their escape, but Mother has one last trick up her sleeve that could destroy them all.

I won a copy of this book a while ago and while I wasn't exactly sold on the cover, the premise sounded interesting. Unfortunately, it didn't hook me or hold my attention, even after giving it one hundred pages. I don't leave books unfinished often, but I just couldn't get into this one even though the premise is, like I said before, an interesting one. For me, it's too slow and repetitive. It's also obvious right from the get-go that Elysium is not a utopia at all and that Evelyn is being brainwashed, even if she thinks everything is "about perfect" (as she frequently tells us and herself) and doesn't realize that something is very wrong - enough to question what's going on around her.

Looking back on what I read, I would have liked to have seen a split first-person perspective between Evelyn and Gavin or I would have liked to have seen the story told from Gavin's perspective entirely. I think either of those methods could have worked wonders for the premise behind the story, kicked the pacing up a notch, and perhaps even given us more than a dash of world-building. As it stands, though, Evelyn is on the boring side, not much actually happens in one hundred pages, and there is hardly any world-building beyond the superficial beauty of Elysium.

Overall, the premise of Renegade by J.A. Souders is promising, but it doesn't live up to it. I didn't hate it, but I was bored by it. Even though it wasn't for me, I know others could definitely enjoy the authors style. With a few tweaks, this mediocre series opener could have really worked for me.

I attempted to read this book from May 6 - 7, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ 

After everything Alyssa faced in Wonderland last year, now all she has to do is graduate from high school, go to prom, and attend the prestigious art school in London with her boyfriend Jeb. However, that's much easier said than done what with her mother being overprotective after her release from the asylum and Morpheus showing up at school to tempt her back to Wonderland with a new challenge. Alyssa has to juggle the real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about his lost memories. Wonderland is starting to bleed through into her world and Morpheus warns that the Red Queen is close behind. If she stays in the human world, she could endanger everyone she holds dear, but if she goes back to Wonderland, it could cost her much more than her head.

For the most part, Unhinged by A.G. Howard takes what makes Splintered so great and takes it to the next level. This deliciously twisty story is excellently detailed and the creepiness of Alyssa's world is very Tim Burton-esque (read: awesome). In this novel, I loved that Howard brings Wonderland to us, instead of sending us to Wonderland. Of all of the characters in this story, Morpheus is by far my favorite. He's very charming and likable, yet you're never quite sure what to make of him or his agenda. He's a very tricky and slippery character and that translates well to the real world. I also enjoyed seeing more of Alyssa's mother and watching their relationship grow.

There were only three things about this sequel that I disliked or wished were different. The first being the only character I don't care for - Jeb. He may be alright in small doses since he's not badly written, but he appears in so much of this installment that he becomes grating. It's not exactly something I can put my finger on as to why, but his character just rubs me the wrong way. I do know that the amount of time Alyssa spends thinking about Jeb is exhausting. Secondly, as much as I loved seeing Wonderland bleeding over into the real world, I wish we got to spend more time in Wonderland. Lastly, the plot, at times, felt overstuffed with too much going on at once. Usually that doesn't bother me that much, but it actually made things unnecessarily difficult to keep track of while reading.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed A.G. Howard's Unhinged. For the most part, the author was able take the elements that were so great about the first installment and make them better here. However, I'm going to say that at times it suffers a little from second book syndrome - it has a lot of heavy lifting to do and sometimes it just doesn't quite reach the mark. That being said I absolutely can't wait to read the final book, Ensnared! How couldn't I after a cliffhanger like that!

I read this novel from May 3 - 6, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Among Thieves (Tales of the Kin #1) by Douglas Hulick - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ 

Drothe, a Nose for the Kin, works and rubs elbows with crime lords, thieves, and murders on a daily basis while smuggling relics on the side. Things are going along well enough until he comes across a dangerous relic, a book, that could potentially bring down emperors. This is a relic that just about any member of Ildrecca's underworld would kill to get their hands on.

I've kept the above summary short and sweet, but Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick, a great series opener, is densely and tightly plotted. I loved the level of detail to Drothe's world. There's so much to talk about here, but the world-building is top-notch. However, the characters are absolutely fantastic. They are fully fleshed out and their realness bleeds off the page. Drothe, our narrator, really stands out. He has a great voice, and really kept me invested in following his journey through the criminal underworld. He's definitely not a good guy, but he is, for the most part, a good man. By the way, the action and fight scenes are really well written. My only issue is that sometimes it was a little bit too fast-paced where it didn't need to be.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hulick's fresh take on a familiar premise. I enjoyed getting to know his characters and the city they inhabit. If you are a fan of epic-fantasy, thieves and assassins, or Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk, you will love Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick. I'm looking forward to continuing the series with Sworn in Steel.

I read this novel from March 26 - May 3, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Will Probably Never Read

The theme for this week's Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a different one.  It's Books I Will Probably Never Read.  When I realized what the theme was I probably looked just like this: 

Ha!  Can you see the panic behind the eyes?  I didn't even want to think about some of these for various reasons, but I pushed through it anyway.  The ones I have included below are titles I have absolutely no intention of ever picking up.  

Books I never want to open:

Series I never want to continue:

As far as I'm concerned, these books just aren't for me. 

 What do you think of my list?  Do we share any dislikes?  Are there some you would have expected me to include, or are curious to see if I would read them, or already have?  Or, do you like these and are disappointed that I've included them here?  Please feel free to share your thoughts below!