Friday, February 24, 2017

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo + 50/50 Friday


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 current reads, Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo.  I've had this on my shelf for ages and I'm finally taking the plunge into this series.  It sounds amazing and I've heard so many wonderful things about this author that I can't put it off any longer.  I'm really looking forward to this - I've got my fingers crossed that I'll love it!


Beginning:

The servants called the malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke's house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.

56:

The soldier disappeared, closing the door behind him.  The driver didn't hesitate.  With a cry and the snap of a whip, the coach lurched forward.  I felt an icy tumble of panic.  What was happening to me?  I thought about just throwing open the coach door and making a run for it.  But where would I run?  We were surrounded by armed me in the middle of a military camp.  And even if we weren't, where could I possibly go?


This week I'm also taking part in a brand new linkup called 50/50 Friday, which is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books.  Every week they'll have a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - this week the topic is Most/ Least Intricately Built World.

Most:



The four Londons of the Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab - I can't wait to begin A Conjuring of Light!  Then again, I just don't want the series to end...

Least:


Legend (Legend #1) by Marie Lu - Unfortunately, I thought the world-building was one of the weakest points of this series.  I could have used more detail about Day and June's Republic of America.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Fireman by Joe Hill - Review


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A new plague is literally spreading like wildfire across the United States. It's called Draco Incendia Trychophyton, aka Dragonscale, and it's a highly contagious spore that marks its suffers with black and gold markings along their body and eventually causes them to spontaneously combust. Millions suffer and die from the plague and the fires it's caused. No one is safe from this new plague and there is no antidote. Harper, a nurse, and her husband, Jakob, made a pact that if they were ever infected they would kill themselves before things got too bad. However, once Harper realizes she's pregnant she decides she wants to live, at least until the baby is born. She figures the baby will be fine until then, at least if Harper lives that long. Jakob is sure that she's infected him too and goes crazy, and leaves her in the growing chaos of the newly formed Cremation Squads, posses armed to take out those with Dragonscale. That's when she meets The Fireman, a man wearing a firefighter's gear who can use his fire from the Dragonscale to his advantage as a weapon to help the infected.

Joe Hill's The Fireman really hooked me from the beginning and I quickly found myself all wrapped up in this brand new plague and the post-apocalyptic world surrounding it. I particularly enjoyed getting to know Harper and The Fireman himself. The Fireman doesn't show up all that much, but he gets some great scenes when he does. While the novel is very readable and I just had to know how it all ended, but unfortunately the novel could have done with editing. Personally, I feel that this novel could have been cut down into a much tighter narrative. The novel meanders quite a bit in the middle of the story and it slows the main plot down far too much. I listened to the audiobook which clocks in at somewhere around 22 hours - I think it could have been trimmed down to around 15-16 or so to it's benefit. Also there are a lot of references to Stephen King's works too (and quite a few other references - though I liked the Sirius Black and the Floo Network one!), some of which weren't necessary in the long run and made the story feel less original. However, my one main complaint is Kate Mulgrew's narration. She has a great voice, but unfortunately her sound didn't quite work for me in this case. She's the voice of Harper, a 26 year old woman, but Harper sounds much older. Every time we're told Harper's age I was surprised - I had it in my mind that she must, just by her sound, be in her mid-40s or 50s.

Overall, The Fireman is a good post-apocalyptic novel that has quite a few enjoyable elements and characters with great prose. I just wish it was more tightly woven with fewer diversions and meanderings to distract me. Was it just me, or did anyone else picture The Fireman himself as Pyro from the X-Men movies? I just couldn't help it when it came to that.



I listened to this audiobook from January 15 - 22, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Winter 2017 Comment Challenge March Sign-Up Post


This March I plan on taking part in the third and final month of the Winter 2017 Comment Challenge, hosted by Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense and Lonna @ FLYLÄ“F.  This challenge is a wonderful way to get know other bloggers in the community.  Over the Summer 2016 Comment Challenge I got to know Ellen and Sierra @ Quest ReviewsMari @ Story and Somnomancy, and Anne @ Head Full of Books.  So far during the Winter Comment Challenge, I've had the opportunity to get to know Lia @ Lost In A Story this January and Bill @ Billbrarian in February.  I'm pleased to be taking part again this March!   I plan on being just as ambitious by commenting 10+ times with my to be assigned partner - I can't wait to get to know you!  You can also tweet along on Twitter with the hashtag #Winter2017CC.  Don't forget, there is a challenge wide giveaway for participants!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would

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Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!  This week's topic is Books I Loved Less/More Than I Thought I Would (recently or all time) - it's the week after Valentine's Day and I feel like covering books books I loved less than I thought I would.  Each title is linked to my review, if you'd like to see why I didn't like these so much.  Here we go in alphabetical order:


Black City by Elizabeth Richards


Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes


Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard


The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare


Mrs. Hudson's Diaries: A View From the Landing at 221b by Barry and Bob Cryer 


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken


The Reader by Traci Chee


Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie


Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake


Have you tried any of these books?  Did you like them more than I did?  What books have you enjoyed more than you thought you would?  Thanks as always for visiting my blog, and perhaps even commenting down below!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Music Monday: The LEGO Batman Movie


Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.

Rules:

Every Monday share one or two of songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post's url.

This week I'm spotlighting two songs featured in The LEGO Batman Movie which I saw last Saturday.  The movie was a lot of fun, if you haven't seen it yet, and it has a pretty great soundtrack.

"Who's The (Bat)Man" by Patrick Stump - This is Batman's theme song which is in the beginning of the movie - and I'd say that it perfectly fits LEGO Batman!  Be sure to pay attention to the lyrics - they get pretty funny!  Here are a few gems: "Who does the sickest back flips? Batman!" "Turn Two-Face to Black-And-Blue Face", "I 100% am not Bruce Wayne", "Who could choke hold a bear? Batman!" and "Who never skips leg day? Batman!"  It's even better when you realize it's performed by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy!



"Friends are Family" by Oh, Hush, Will Arnett, and Jeff Lewis - You'll want to stay for the end credits for this one - it's a lot of fun and it's The LEGO Batman Movie's answer to "Everything is Awesome!" from The LEGO Movie.  Will Arnett gets a rap as Batman and Alfred even gets a guitar solo!  The song definitely fits Robin's bubbly, excitable personality.



Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab - Review


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It's been four months since Lila came into Kell's life, since Rhy was wounded, since the Dane twins and White London fell, and since a dying Holland and the stone were cast through the rift into Black London. Now, Kell is restless after giving up smuggling items between Londons and he can't help but think of Lila, and he's plagued by ominous dreams. Meanwhile, as Red London is getting ready for the Element Games, an international magical competition meant to strengthen the alliance between neighboring countries, another London is returning to life and for magical balance to be achieved one London will have to fall before another can truly flourish.

A Gathering of Shadows is the perfect sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, one of my favorite reads of 2015. Honestly, I'm not sure why I waited so long to dive back into one of my favorite worlds. Okay, probably nerves - how would my favorite characters fare, would it live up to the hype, would it be too painful? I don't know why I worried now because V.E. Schwab did an absolutely phenomenal job, reeling me right back into everything. Book two takes things to an entirely new level and manages to raise the stakes. The characters are back in top form - Lila, Kell, and Rhy alike. I also really loved our newest addition to the cast, Captain Alucard Emery (I couldn't help myself when it came to his first name - every single time I saw it I had a flash of Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard in Son of Dracula (1943)). He always kept me guessing and he's so charismatic that I couldn't help but be swayed by his personality. He's a real lovable rogue, that's for sure. As I've come to expect from Schwab, the world-building is stunning, the action is epic, the banter is great, the story is intricately plotted, and the prose is irresistible.

Overall, V.E. Schwab's A Gathering of Shadows is a more than welcome return to the world(s) of the Shades of Magic trilogy. What are you doing with your life if you haven't tried this series (or V.E. Schwab's work) yet? At least I don't have to wait long for the release of A Conjuring of Magic, the third and final book in this series because I NEED it in my life right now.



I read this novel from January 5 - January 24, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Victoria Woodhull in Fiction & Nonfiction - Mini Reviews


I've read a lot about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872 (as well as many other firsts), over the years.  She came from poor, rural Ohio roots and was far, far ahead of her time.  It's an understatement to say that she was a larger-than-life figure.  Unfortunately due to history she has been mostly forgotten, but thanks to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and nomination she is starting to be remembered (and she's putting Homer, Ohio, her hometown, back on the map).  The two books I'm reviewing below, Crossing Swords: Mary Baker Eddy vs. Victoria Claflin Woodhull and the Battle for the Soul of Marriage (nonfiction) and Outrageous: The Victoria Woodhull Saga, Volume One: Rise to Riches (fiction) are two interesting entry points to her fascinating life and work.


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This nonfiction book discusses the different philosophies of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement, and Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872, in regards to marriage, love, and sexuality. The two women were on completely opposite ends of the women's rights movement with Eddy staunchly defending the sanctity of marriage and Woodhull advocating for free love. Free love is a very modern idea in which women (and men) should be able to love, and/or marry, who they choose and when they choose that also includes marriage and divorce laws, women's rights within marriage, health and reproductive rights, and children's care and wellbeing. You might be able to see how quickly and easily that could be taken the wrong way, especially in those days and with a name like "free love". Safronoff discusses the free love movement by exploring Eddy's and Woodhull's totally different backgrounds and careers, as well as their own words.

Primarily, I found myself interested in picking up this book because Victoria Woodhull is such a fascinating, larger-than-life woman who lived a hundred years ahead of her time. I'm glad to see her getting remembered today after being mostly written out of history (I'm looking at you Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton!). The author manages to make her story relevant and interesting, especially considering Hillary Clinton was the first woman be nominated by a major political party in her bid for the White House in 2016. However, rather than both of these intriguing women being evenly presented, Eddy definitely gets more page time - the author states her bias towards Eddy in the preface and you can definitely get a sense of throughout. Overall, though, if you're interested in either of these influential women, I recommend trying this work of nonfiction as a good entry point into their lives and the movements they supported.


I read this book from February 12 - February 16, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.



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If you're interested in the life of Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president of the United States in 1872, this fictionalized account (with a touch of magical realism due to the inclusion of her spirit guide and work as a spiritualist) of her life is a must read. This first volume is actually told from her perspective and covers her childhood all the way up to 1870 when she announces her intention to run for the highest office. There's a lot that happens to her and that this larger than life woman manages to accomplish in her first 32 years including going from having absolutely nothing and a crappy family life to working with Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in the country, and becoming the first female stockbroker (along with her sister, Tennessee) on Wall Street. Victoria Woodhull was an absolutely fascinating figure in the women's rights and free love movement that is just starting to be rediscovered after being largely forgotten. After the 2016 election, it's a great time to learn about the first woman to run for president under the Equal Rights Party. I'm really looking forward to continuing Neal Katz's take on her life story in Volume 2, Scandalous: Fame, Infamy, and Paradise Lost.


I read this book from February 16 - February 18, 2017 and my review is also on Goodreads.