Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Shadows of Sherwood (Robyn Hoodlum #1) by Kekla Magoon - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ 

Robyn Loxley has to learn to take care of herself the night her parents disappear. Her city has been overthrown by the governor and his supporters. After escaping with her life, she throws in her lot with a rag-tag group of misfits, each with a talent for trouble. Robyn and her new found friends make names for themselves as wanted outlaws by doing what they can for those being crushed by the new regime. As Robyn continues to piece together the clues surrounding her parents disappearance, she realizes her destiny is tied to the future of the city.

Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon is fun, fast-paced adventure story. I really like the idea of going back to the beginning with a younger (and female) Robyn than I've ever seen. It's a great way to to introduce middle grade readers to the legend, especially if they aren't already familiar with it. Pairing those elements up with a futuristic setting is also a pretty cool new direction. Robyn, the most well-developed character in the story, is brave and strong, but also childish and selfish at times (then again she is twelve this time around). I also liked being able to see which classic characters are featured in this new interpretation: Tucker, Friar Tuck; Merryan, Maid Marian; and Scarlet, (female) Will Scarlet. While the story is about Robyn, I felt like the supporting cast should have been fleshed out a little more than they were.

There were two other things that could have made this story better: archery and the exclusion of the moon lore. Whenever I think of Robin Hood in any incarnation, I always think of the iconic bow and arrows, so I was stunned to see that there isn't a whisper of that (aside from the sketch she uses as her calling card). Then again, maybe the author thought that would be too odd for the futuristic setting. Then again, we could have have a scene somewhere along these lines, minus the robots:

On that topic, the moon lore element of the story just didn't seem to fit together with everything else. For me, it didn't mesh with the futuristic sci-fi elements. In a way, I am glad that the author took the destiny aspect the way she did by not making Robyn the only Chosen One in that the prophecy goes around and comes around through history.

Overall, I enjoyed this new interpretation of the legendary Robin Hood. It left me with plenty of reasons to return for the yet-to-be named sequel.

I read this novel from September 16 - 22, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Read If You Like These Popular Titles

Happy Tuesday everyone!  This week's theme for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted The Broke and the Bookish, is Books To Read If You Like This Super Popular Book/Author.  Today, I will be listing ten popular books and providing a less popular read alike for each.  Here we go, in no particular order:   

If you couldn't get enough of the laugh-out-loud funny Winger by Andrew Smith, you'll love Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets by J.A. Buckle.

If you're a fan of the British humor in Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison, you'll get addicted to Geek Girl by Holly Smale.

If you are obsessed with urban fantasy with a side of deadpan snark like Storm Front by Jim Butcher, there is no way you'll get through Hounded by Kevin Hearne without becoming an instant fan.

If you like a paranormal presidential alternate history like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, I bet you'll like Crooked by Austin Grossman too.

If you enjoy dystopia with a tough-as-nails leading character like The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, you'll approve of Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis.

If you enjoy world-within-a-world fantasy like Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, you'll appreciate The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey.

If you enjoy cyberpunk like Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, you'll probably like the virtual reality thriller The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.

If you like YA Paranormal Horror such as A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan, you'll get hooked on Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith.  

If you love mythology with your urban fantasy like American Gods by Neil Gaiman, you'll appreciate the magical realism of Last Call by Tim Powers.

If you enjoy fairy tale retellings in the vein of Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, you'll likely enjoy this dark middle grade retelling aptly named A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz.  

Have you read any of the books on my list this week, or are you now interested in checking any of them out?  Do you have any good recommendations to share with me? 

Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1) by Holly Smale - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ 

Harriet Manners is a geek - she's overly intellectual, unfashionable, and socially awkward. She only has one real fried, a geeky stalker, and a bully who makes her life miserable. The last thing she expects is to be discovered by a modeling agency while on a school trip. After giving it some thought, Harriet doesn't want to be laughed at any more and she figures that becoming a model will change her life for the better.

Geek Girl by Holly Smale is a refreshingly fun and quirky read. I enjoyed following Harriet's modeling misadventures and seeing how she would attempt to balance her new found career with the rest of her life. Despite everything she still manages to be a very relatable character and someone I'd like to befriend.

I listened to the audio book on Playaway and the production is fantastic. Harriet's voice and tone come through well, alongside characters who aren't so nice. Either way, I greatly enjoyed the first novel of this series and I'm looking forward to continuing it with Model Misfit. If you like Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series) by Louise Rennison, you'll also like Geek Girl by Holly Smale.

I listened to this audiobook from September 16 - 21, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets by J.A. Buckle - Review

❋ ❋ ❋  

Josh is a big fan of death metal and dreams of becoming a death metal guitarist. However, he has a long way to go - he still needs a decent electric guitar and his strict mom won't even let him grow his hair out. He does have a way of coping with life's little setbacks. It's only his diary, but he uses it to keep track of his dreams and frustrations, and ideas for band names and lyrics. There's so much to do before he turns seventeen.

I noticed this novel after I saw it crop up on a few blogs and the description sounded great - not to mention that title and cover. When the book came in for me at the library, I eagerly dove into the pages. I'm thrilled that I just happened to stumble upon this because it's a real gem. Honestly, more people should check it out.

Josh is a fantastic character who comes across as very real and refreshing. I think teen guys could easily relate to him - I mean, I did and I don't fit either of those categories. I also couldn't get enough of his sense of humor. While the story is very funny, it's not just a comedy as it delves into serious topics.

If you like Ryan Dean from Winger by Andrew Smith, you'll want to get to know Josh from Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets by J. A. Buckle!

I read this novel from September 15 - 16, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

To Nowhere by C.E. Wilson - Review

❋ ❋ 

I received a free ecopy of To Nowhere from the author in exchange for an honest review.

When seventeen year-old Lyris first meets Wyatt, a hot older guy, she has no idea how much her life will change. She's far too concerned with starting at her new school with a boyfriend that she's mostly able to overlook his weirdness. So when he goes from begging to show her a specific room in the abandoned house next door to warning her to stay away from it and to forget he ever mentioned it, she can't help but want to see what's in that room. She could have never prepared herself for what she finds. The door is a portal to a world of giants who auction off humans as pets to the highest bidder - and Wyatt is their supplier.

The aspect I liked most about this story is the concept of giants keeping humans as pets. That idea is what kept me reading. I enjoyed seeing the mindsets of the giants selling off the humans and how the "pets" are dehumanized. There aren't all that many differences between the humans and the giants - aside from size and the fact that they have pointed ears, the only key difference is language.

While I really found myself interested in those parts of the story, I just couldn't get behind Lyris. She makes some incredibly stupid decisions throughout the story - and all of them stem back to Wyatt. Since the story truly begins when he appears I have no idea if hot guys who pay her a little bit of attention normally make her go stupid, or if this is completely out of the ordinary for her character. There's no way to get a good sense of her character before she meets Wyatt. Let's just say that Wyatt throws up every possible red flag from the moment she meets him and she just goes a long with it because she really wants to start school with a boyfriend. There also isn't much in terms of world-building. I would have liked to have seen more of the giants' world and I would have liked to have known more about the portal(s).

To Nowhere was an intriguing read, but there were several things I wish had been explored. Honestly, I hoped this would have been a little more like The Incredible Shrinking Man.

I read this ebook from September 18 - 28, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1) by Mark Lawrence - Review

❋ ❋ ❋ 

Jorg Ancrath, once a privileged royal child, now the ruthless leader of brotherhood of thugs, has seen and done terrible things, but one thing still scares him and that's going home to the father who left him for dead four years ago. Going back to his father's castle will force him to relive his horrifying past as he tries to carve out a future for himself with everyone turned against him. And, Jorg has big plans because in two years, when he turns fifteen, he's going to be the King of the empire.

When I purchased this book from the local bookstore, the owner told me I could return it if I didn't like it. She warned me that Jorg makes Joffrey look like a boy scout. Now that I've read the book, I can say I definitely agree with her! Let's just say, Joffrey could learn a thing or two from Jorg.

Jorg is a brutal character to follow, but needless to say he's fascinating to keep up with. I probably should have hated everyone in this story, but they're all so compelling that I couldn't wait to see what they'd get up to next. The action keeps up its break-neck pace from beginning to end and the writing is as razor sharp as Jorg. The only reason I didn't give this a full five stars is that sometimes the blood, devastation, death, war, and horror got a little too exhausting for my tastes and I had to stop to take a breather.

If you like your epic fantasy on the dark and gritty side like A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin or Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick, you'll probably enjoy Mark Lawrence's debut novel, Prince of Thorns. I'm looking forward to continuing this series with King of Thorns.

I read this novel from September 10 - 13, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman

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 one of my upcoming reads, Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman.  This novel sounds exactly like my kind of historical fiction fantasy story.  I'm extremely excited to finally check it out and these snippets make it look fantastic!

Book Beginning:

Katerina races across the meadow, scanning for any roots or rocks in her way.  Her heart thumps wildly in her chest.  Her legs ache.  The gazelle leaps slightly ahead of her, it's hooves barely touching the grass.  It is a blur of tan and white, with long, black-ringed horns; a creature not fully of the earth, but also of the sky.  


He sighs, listening to the forest sounds.  There is a constant low buzz of insects.  Somewhere nearby, an owl hoots.  A pack of wolves is howling, too, but far off and forlorn.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR

Happy Tuesday everyone!  This week's theme for Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is Books On My Fall TBR.  The following are ten books I plan on reading this season.  I'm breaking it down a bit further by books that I currently have in my possession.  The first four are library books which I plan on reading right away and the last six are ones that I plan on reading shortly.

Library Books (in alphabetical order by author):

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman

The Edge of Forever by Melissa E. Hurst

Stand-Off (Winger #2) by Andrew Smith

Books I Own (in alphabetical order by author):

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renée Ahdieh

Rook by Sharon Cameron

Gideon by Alex Gordon

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

Sharps by K.J. Parker

Vicious (Vicious #1) by V. E. Schwab

What you think of my selections?  Have you read any of them?  Are there any you think I should add to my list?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sunday Funday: The Scorch Trials Movie Edition

❋ ❋ ❋ 

Saturday was a busy day for me, but while I actually had some free time I went to see The Scorch Trials.  I got there about 15 minutes early for the second showing of the day and I even bought myself a bag of Skittles.  When we walked in we were the first people in our theater, but that wasn't a surprise since everyone usually comes in a minute or two before the trailers begin.  Needless to say, we got the best seats!  In the end, there were six others seeing the movie with us (two more came in and watched for about thirty minutes in the middle of the movie - probably walked out of their own movie and right into ours).  There were two trailers that showed before the movie began: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 and Woodlawn.  I absolutely cannot wait for the finale of The Hunger Games.  I hadn't heard of Woodlawn starring Sean Astin before, but it looks inspiring.

On to the meat of The Scorch Trials, if you're looking for a direct adaptation of James Dashner's source material, this movie isn't for you.  There are probably about as many differences between the book to movie adaptation as there were for Insurgent.  I can't help but compare the book and movie and sometimes I can get pretty critical, especially if a favorite scene is changed, it's been miscast, if the movie can't stand on its own.  By that I mean that the movie completely relies on the viewer having read the book and those who haven't read it come out of the movie feeling completely confused, etc.  In this particular case, the movie is able to stand on its own even though it's very different from the book.

I must say I actually preferred the movie to the source material.  There are so many elements that work well on screen about this adaptation from effects, soundtrack, and casting.  Of the book series, my favorite was The Maze Runner.  I liked the rest of the series well enough, but I preferred the maze mostly because the trial in the sequel just never grabbed me as much.  It turns out that the biggest difference from page to screen is that the trial aspect is completely absent.  It makes me wonder why they kept the same title.  Another major difference is in the presentation of the Cranks, which are essentially fast zombies in the movie.  Another interesting difference is that The Right Arm in introduced here rather than in The Death Cure.  Those aren't the only differences, but those are some pretty key differences from book to movie.  Regardless the movie is still pretty fantastic.

The movie is extremely fast-paced and doesn't waste any time getting right into the story and getting our Gladers out into the Scorch.  I always like seeing some post-apocalyptic destruction.  The movie is also very intense and has some horrific moments dealing with the Cranks - I mean, did you see the tunnel and rubble scene?!  I also really enjoyed the new additions to the cast - Giancarlo Esposito as Jorge, Rosa Salazar as Brenda, and Aidan Gillen as Janson (aka Rat Man) are quite good in their parts.  I was surprised how much more I liked movie Brenda versus book Brenda.  I never really clicked with book Brenda for a variety of reasons, but the movie iteration was much more engaging.  Like I mentioned before, the soundtrack is also good.  I always like to pay attention to the music and sound editing and I particularly enjoyed it here - Jorge's "favorite song" is "Walkin' After Midnight" by Patsy Cline!  It's an unexpected choice, but it works well in the context of the film and that entire sequence is one of my favorites.

Before I get too carried away, I just want to say that I really I enjoyed The Scorch Trials movie much more than I initially expected to.  I like where Wes Ball is taking the film series and I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the film trilogy.

Has anyone else seen the film yet?  If so, how did you like it?  Did the changes bother you or did you like it as an adaption?

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Stand-Off (Winger #2) by Andrew Smith

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, Stand-Off (Winger # 2) by Andrew Smith.  I don't believe I can adequately describe just how excited I am to start this novel since Winger was one of my favorite reads of 2013!  If you haven't read Winger yet or anything else by Andrew Smith, you're missing great stories!  I'm so pleased this hold came in so quickly for me at the library!

Book Beginning:  

Everyone kept telling me, "You need to draw again, Ryan Dean.  You need to draw..."

So I did.

I started drawing again in the summer before Annie and I went back to Pine Mountain for our senior year.  The problem is, I'm pretty sure I didn't draw what anyone expected.


"'Crit partner' is what WRITERS"--whenever Dr. Wellins said "writers," it always sounded like it was in all capitals, like he was attempting to describe celestial angels to the tongueless half-beast spawns of hell--"call their critique partner.  It is a significant relationship, one based on trust, openness, integrity, and support.  The commitment is akin to the faithfulness and dedication of a husband or a wife.  Do I make myself clear?"    

Timebound (The Chronos Files #1) by Rysa Walker - Review

❋ ❋ ❋  

Kate thinks her grandmother must be senile when she gives her a glowing medallion and starts talking about time travel. If only it were that easy because what her grandmother was telling her hits home when a murder in the past drastically changes Kate's present. The medallion is the only thing that's keeping Kate tethered to reality. Kate learns that this murder at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair is the beginning of a sinister plot to rewrite world history and that she is one of the few who can prevent this wrong timeline from taking its course with her genetic ability to time travel. Correcting the timeline will come at a personal cost because the one person she's grown close to since the timeline has been altered will have no memory her.

Timebound by Rysa Walker ranks as one of my favorite new time travel books! To begin, our cast is well-developed including minor supporting characters. Kate is a character I felt I could relate to considering everything she goes through. Trey is fun character and I enjoyed seeing where his character was going to go next. Although Connor is a supporting character, he really stole the show for me and I was looking forward to his page time. There is also a bit of a love triangle here and fortunately it's done well. Instead of making me groan and roll my eyes I was dying to know more.

The concept of time travel in this novel is also pretty fantastic. I don't want to spoil too much of how it works, but as you probably guessed it involves the medallion I mentioned above.
Some time travel novels can get super bogged down by all the technical and historical details, but luckily this novel balances everything well and doesn't overwhelm the reader by keeping things moving. I loved all of the historical detail that we get to see, from the women's rights movement, the Chicago World's Fair, to Woodstock.

I can't do this novel justice in my review, but it was a lot of fun and it had everything I could have wanted. I'm can't wait to read the sequel, Time's Edge!

Final verdict:

I read this novel from August 20 - September 9, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.