Archive for September, 2012

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge 13

Sep
30
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Clock Rewinders

Clock Rewinders banner

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender shamelessly plug each other, share the fantastic posts, giveaways, or whatever else we’ve found and loved by other awesome bloggers (or authors!) during the week, and talk about the books we plan on reading in the coming week. [Description and banner borrowed from On a Book Bender]

The Corner Newsstand
(This week on Creativity’s Corner)

  • It was a short week this week, because I’m still recovering from vacation. I reviewed Shadow and Boneby Leigh Bardugo and Storm Front by Jim Butcher, and that was it.

Behind the Desk
(My life behind the scenes)

  • I got a glimpse at the tentative work schedule for the Christmas season this week. Give you a hint: Christmas at a chocolate store = hell. I felt so overwhelmed that I’ve been reduced to rereading favorites instead of working on my Unbreaking the Shelves goals.
  • This week at community band I was asked to: play a solo on xylophone (which I’ve only been playing for a year, and honestly suck at) and learn the saxophone because they were short one on the jazz band. It was an interesting week!

Around the Corner
(Blog posts I found awesome since the last post)

GoodReaders’ Digest
(Books I’ve read in the past week and books I plan to read next. Also includes stats for the Unbreaking the Shelves Challenge)

Read:
  • Vixen by Jillian Larkin
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Currently Reading:

  • Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Unbreaking the Shelves stats:

Get my “Embarrassed I haven’t read yet” shelf under 45.

  • Beginning total: 65
  • As of 9/30: still 62

Keep my to-read-now list as close to 250 as possible. Expert level: bring it down to 235.

  • Beginning total: 253
  • As of 9/30: 258 (whoops!)

Added: [totally made up for last week’s none *sigh*]

  • Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones (to-read-now)
  • Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (to-read-now)
  • Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (to-read-now)
  • The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (to-read-soon)
  • Fathomless by Jackson Pearce (series-completion, to-read-now)
  • The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke (to-read-now, arc)

Read 15 books off of my Series Completion list

Series Completion
2/15

EXPERT LEVEL: Read a total of 57 books from the TBR list (overshooting my original GR year goal by 25)

Total Books
10/57





Book Review: Storm Front

Sep
28
3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Storm Front CoverTitle: Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

Author: Jim Butcher

Summary: [from GoodReads]

For his first case, Harry is called in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with the blackest of magic. At first, the less-than-solvent Harry’s eyes light up with dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage. Now, that black mage knows Harry’s name. And things are about to get very…interesting.

My Review:

After Reading and loving Jim Butcher’s high fantasy Codex Alera series, I was really excited to get to his urban fantasy series.  I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint. This book is the very definition of urban fantasy, all about the paranormal, hardly any romance at all – and I found that very refreshing!

Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire who is called in by the police to look at a crime that could only have been done by magic. The prose was so vivid that I could imagine it perfectly well as a TV show (which has been done, though I haven’t seen it). Even the crime scenes were accurately described to the point of gory. Even  now I can picture Harry (who looks, oddly enough, like Richard Castle) and his cop friend (who is more like the blonde FBI lady fromHeroes) looking on the first crime scene and it sickens me a little!

The main thing that I enjoyed, though was instead of being romance and relationship-centered, this book reads as a mystery. Oh and there happens to be magic. There are some larger scale mysteries about who Harry is and what happened in his past. There are even a few hints at a possible future long-arc relationship for Harry. But the focus of the novel is the whodunit – who is the killer, what was his motive and how is he doing it? It has been so long since I’ve read a straight mystery novel that I’d forgotten what it was like, and I had started to miss it without even realizing it. For once I wasn’t entirely sure where the story was going and I’m okay with that.

For those of you looking for romantic urban fantasies, this one is not for you. But, if you enjoy a good mystery with the flavor of magic like I do, pick this one up soon!





Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Sep
26
10 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Shadow and Bone CoverTitle: Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Summary: [from GoodReads]

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

My Review

Have you ever loved a book so much that you don’t know what to say about it? I have skipped over writing this review SO MANY TIMES because i just loved it too much.

One of the big things that attracted me to this book in the first place is the fact that the fantasy world was not based on a western culture, but instead on a Russian one. The flavor was just exotic enough to be noticeable without distancing the reader by being too foreign. I know next to nothing about Russian culture (aside from watching Anastasia a bajillion times as a kid) but I like to imagine the Darkling as a Rasputin kind of character, just before the upheaval and the murder of the royal family. If that was the intention, I can’t wait to see the reinterpretation of Anastasia’s story that would have to be coming!

With all that exotic flavor I was a little surprised at how much court intrigue there was. I really enjoyed it, and in retrospect I’m a bit silly – there’s court intrigue everywhere! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen next. The suspense was so well written that even though I had my suspicions about where the story was going, I didn’t entirely trust them until they were officially confirmed or denied. That meant lots of back and forth on my opinion of the Darkling, which tore me apart, but in a good way.

I would definitely recommend this book to any high fantasy lover, and to those looking to try the genre. Either way, this is a fabulous read that you don’t want to miss!





Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge 12

Sep
23
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Clock Rewinders

Clock Rewinders banner

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender shamelessly plug each other, share the fantastic posts, giveaways, or whatever else we’ve found and loved by other awesome bloggers (or authors!) during the week, and talk about the books we plan on reading in the coming week. [Description and banner borrowed from On a Book Bender]

The Corner Newsstand
(This week on Creativity’s Corner)

Behind the Desk
(My life behind the scenes)

  • Thursday morning my family and I (plus Grandma) left bright and early for St. Louis where I had the honor of playing flute for my cousin’s wedding. Lisa and I were always exceptionally close, and I was so happy to be able to be a part of it. We spent lots of time catching up with family we haven’t seen in YEARS (we counted – 13 years since all four cousins have been in the same place at the same time). Plus, ya know, I got to wear a new pretty dress 😛 This is also why I haven’t been around as much – while we had wifi at the hotel I wasn’t around to use it that much. So, if you commented on my blog this week, I LOVE YOU THIS MUCH *holds arms as wide as they’ll go*! I just didn’t get around to replying, and I’m really sorry!

Around the Corner
(Blog posts I found awesome since the last post)

  • I don’t share memes much, but I really liked Smash’s answers to this week’s Book Blogger Confessions about blogger relations. Mostly because if I had written the post it would have said essentially the same thing.
  • Penelope from Reading Fever talked about how she uses her library. She says she’s doing it wrong. I say there’s no wrong way!
  • Amanda (On a Book Bender) was being her usual snarky, funny self and ranted about her Twitter pet-peeves. I giggled while being paranoid and reading all the details to make sure I don’t do these things. I think I only do one of them, though I’m sure somebody out there thinks I’m much more annoying than that.

GoodReaders’ Digest
(Books I’ve read in the past week and books I plan to read next. Also includes stats for the Unbreaking the Shelves Challenge)

Read:
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
  • Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
  • Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Currently Reading:

  • Vixen by Jillian Larkin
  • What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn (If my Nook ever decides to cooperate. )

Unbreaking the Shelves stats:

Get my “Embarrassed I haven’t read yet” shelf under 45.

  • Beginning total: 65
  • As of 9/23: 62

Keep my to-read-now list as close to 250 as possible. Expert level: bring it down to 235.

  • Beginning total: 253
  • As of 9/23: Back to 253

Added:

  • None. Wait, WHAT???

Read 15 books off of my Series Completion list

Series Completion
2/15

EXPERT LEVEL: Read a total of 57 books from the TBR list (overshooting my original GR year goal by 25)

Total Books
8/57





Book Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Sep
21
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

The Adoration of Jenna Fox CoverTitle: The Adoration of Jenna Fox (Jenna Fox Chronicles #1)

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Summary: [from GoodReads]

Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn’t remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

My Review

It amazes me sometimes how I can find out that “everybody” loves a book and still not really have the first clue what it’s about. It’s great – it means I have no pre-conceived notions going in – it just surprises me.

When I first started the book I thought for sure it fell squarely in the Contemporary category, which is usually a one-way trip to my “when I’m in the mood” list instead of “gotta read this!” Eventually it became clear that there was more going on, but that contemporary flavor stayed. And it turned out that was the best part about the book. It’s no wonder the book had such a huge following – it appeals to everyone.

The really interesting thing about this one for me is that it deals with such huge relevant issues even though it’s in a sci-fi world. We all have wondered who we are underneath. It’s interesting to look at the life of a girl who is suddenly without memories, and realize how much our own memories shape us. I wonder who I would be if I couldn’t remember the major events in my life. Would I still like to read if I couldn’t remember my second grade reading contest? (Probably. My love of reading started before that.) It’s worth thinking about.

For such a thinker, this book is also very emotional. The strained relationship between Jenna and her mother reminded me forcefully of the tense moments in my own familial relations. The pressure on Jenna to be the “perfect” daughter she can’t remember was so strong it made me feel like I wanted to cry, which is rare while I’m reading.

Whether you’re into “issues” books or not, I really think this is a book everyone should read. There is so much we can learn about ourselves by reading this kind of book. It makes you think – the future is not as far away as we think it is.





Kristilyn reviews The First Part Last

Sep
19
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review, Guest Post

The First Part Last Cover

Released: December 28, 2004 (Simon Pulse)
Author Links:
WEB | GOODREADS

Add This Book on Goodreads

Synopsis

 

Bobby’s a classic urban teenager. He’s restless. He’s impulsive. But the thing that makes him different is this: He’s going to be a father. His girlfriend, Nia, is pregnant, and their lives are about to change forever. Instead of spending time with friends, they’ll be spending time with doctors, and next, diapers. They have options: keeping the baby, adoption. They want to do the right thing. If only it was clear what the right thing was.

My Thoughts

 

This was a book recommended to me by my friend who’s the librarian at my local library. I had been reading Ellen Hopkins’ book Crank, one of my first ventures into novels written in verse and while this one isn’t written in verse per se, my friend thought it might be of interest to me as she really enjoyed it.

 

The First Part Last is a short read with no great amounts of detail, but is still a wonderful story about Bobby, Nia, and the outcomes of teenage pregnancy. I admit that the first thing I loved about this book was the explanation of the title and how it would be wonderful if we started out knowing everything, having wonderful experiences in life, only to end our lives as babies on a parent’s chest, with that feeling of warmth and contentment.

 

One thing that I really enjoyed about this book was that it was written from Bobby’s perspective. He’s the typical teenage boy who wants to play videogames, shoot hoops, and be reckless with his friends. I’d like to think that once a baby was to come in the picture, Bobby would own up, grow up, and take responsibility, but the author shows the reader, very realistically, that this isn’t the case. While Bobby wants to do the right thing, his old self keeps creeping back into the picture.

 

And this isn’t a bad thing. At no point does the author start preaching about the way it should be when someone gets pregnant accidentally – especially at such a young age (both Bobby and Nia are 16-years-old).

 

This was a very beautifully written book, a very fast read, and one that really piqued my interest in Angela Johnson’s work. My only disappointment was that the story was too short and I found myself wanting more details and more back-story into the main characters lives.

 

Admittedly, the only other stories I’ve read about teenage pregnancy usually dealt with more issues than the pregnancy itself – sometimes there was drugs, or rape, or just social issues that seemed to take pertinence over the pregnancy. It was kind of nice to read a story about kids who are just that – kids. There are no other external forces except that they want to have a childhood, but they still want to do what’s right.

 

While it was indeed refreshing to read a story like this from the male’s perspective, a strong part of me wanted to read about Nia. Of course, a lot of pregnancy stories are written from the female perspective, but this one seemed to be like a special case. I was desperate to know what was going on in Nia’s head. It just wasn’t enough for me to get Bobby’s version of her.

 

This book is perfect if you’re looking for a story that packs an emotional punch, but still keeps you guessing. There’s plenty of mystery going on, which is only revealed at the end, and you should be left with a feeling that while things aren’t perfect, they’re moving along the right path. For some, this book might be just a little too neatly tied in a bow, but hopefully the ride will still be worth it.

Kristilyn from Reading in Winter

© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to Kristilyn for volunteering to be my first guest reviewer! If you haven’t ever checked out her blog, click on her signature to do so. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!





Mini Reviews: Kiss of Frost and Vampire Academy

Sep
18
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book Review

Kiss of Frost

Kiss of Frost CoverTitle: Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2)

Author: Jennifer Estep

[Summary can be found on GoodReads]

Review: Having loved the first book in this series I was so excited for the sequel. I was desperate to know what happened between Gwen and Luke and how the whole Loki/Reapers of Chaos thing would turn out. (The opportunity to imaging Tom Hiddleston as Loki didn’t hurt either.) Unfortunately, compared to the first book, this one fell just a little flat.

For one thing, I thought it seemed more like a filler book than anything else. We find out one major overall arc detail in the whole book – the rest is more like a self-contained serial. Even the self-contained storyline was a little disappointing to me. I knew exactly where it was going and had thousands of alarm bells going off that should have been obvious to Gwen. But no, for some reason (plot, I expect) Gwen has suddenly developed a particularly bad case of stupid, compounded by a case of lovesick blindness. These things happen, of course, but Gwen didn’t strike me as the type in the first book.

Despite its faults, this book was a fun read, and I’ll definitely look for the next one in hopes that it does more for the overall storylines.

Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy CoverTitle: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)

Author: Richelle Mead

[Summary can be found on GoodReads]

Review: After reading the Blue Bloods series and the House of Night series all at once one summer, I was ready to put off anything “vampire boarding school” indefinitely. I shouldn’t have with this one. Though it has been a while since I read the former series’, from what I remember Vampire Academy did a much better job at it. The dark tone of the original lore threaded throughout the story. The fun, light-hearted elements that always seem to draw me to boarding school novels balanced the weight of the lore, so that neither overpowered the other. While the story wasn’t particularly weighty, the characters were fascinating and the plot was engaging and fast-paced. While this book fits squarely in the middle of the vampire rend, it is one of hte better renditions of them in YA lit that I’ve read.





Media Monday: Fall Television

Sep
17
6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Media Monday

It’s that time of year again! Time to scour the TV listings for new shows to watch and eye candy to drool over. As I’m still pretty far behind on all of the shows either from before I started watching TV regularly or that are on cable so I have to wait for DVDs (like Buffy, Smallville, Supernatural etc.) I’ve narrowed it down to three different series to try. [Click on the images to be taken to the imdb page for the respective shows.]

Revolution

Revolution

Image belongs to NBC

Anyone had a chance to watch the pilot of this yet? It’s available for free on Hulu, but I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. It looks a lot like an attempt at a Hunger Games television show. Except not really. I’ll admit I don’t know much. But it looks cool and I’m really looking forward to trying it! (Pilot officially airs 9/17)

Elementary

Elementary

Image belongs to CBS

As a devout fan of the BBC’s Sherlock, I’m a little worried about this one. It has the potential to be great. It has the potential to be epic fail. And we all know what making Watson a woman is going to mean, which I’m not sure I’m entirely on-board with. So, I’ll be giving this one a try, but I’m perfectly willing to call it quits after a few episodes if I have to. (Pilot airs 9/27)

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

Image belongs to the CW

Dear CW. DON’T screw this up. Beauty and the Beast is my absolute favorite fairytale of all time, and if you eff this up I will cry. So no pressure or anything. Love, Me.

Sadly, as I do not have cable I will be catching this whenever I can online. (Pilot airs 10/11)

 

Returning faves

Once Season 2

Image belongs to ABC

And of course we have all of our returning faves that I couldn’t live without. In no particular order, I plan to keep up with Once Upon a Time, Castle, Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who, and Merlin.

 

What shows, new or old, are you looking forward to this fall?





Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge 11

Sep
16
2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Media Monday

Clock Rewinders banner

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender shamelessly plug each other, share the fantastic posts, giveaways, or whatever else we’ve found and loved by other awesome bloggers (or authors!) during the week, and talk about the books we plan on reading in the coming week. [Description borrowed from On a Book Bender]

The Corner Newsstand
(This week on Creativity’s Corner)

Behind the Desk
(My life behind the scenes)

  • Getting over a cold sucks. Working extra sucks. Applying to grad school sucks. Basically, everything but blogging sucks. BUT, I have discovered the new girl at work and I have the EXACT same taste in television, which means I have many new TV shows to watch. Lots of new fodder for Media Monday posts!
  • I reworked my GoodReads TBR list for the first part of my Unbreaking the Shelves goals, so I’m reworking my part 2 goals slightly – instead of worrying about my ENTIRE TBR-list, I’ll be trying to keep my to-read-now list under 250.

Around the Corner
(Blog posts I found awesome since the last post)

  • Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner shared ways to find local bookish events. (This is mostly only helpful if there ARE local events to find. I swear my area is the least bookish place on the planet!)
  • Kristilyn from Reading in Winter killed my Unbreaking the Shelves goals with a post on pretty covers and witch-y books. I’d forget if I didn’t add them to my TBR list, right? RIGHT?
  • Ruby from Ruby’s Reads asked what we do to get over Reading ADD. I personally force myself to spend a half hour with the book straight before making up my mind – it usually works!

GoodReaders’ Digest
(Books I’ve read in the past week and books I plan to read next. Also includes stats for the Unbreaking the Shelves Challenge)

Read:
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemsin

Currently Reading:

  • Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier
  • What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn (If my Nook ever decides to cooperate. I really should just get a new one :/ )
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (I’ll probably finish this by the end of the night)

Unbreaking the Shelves stats:

Get my “Embarrassed I haven’t read yet” shelf under 45.

  • Beginning total: 65
  • As of 9/15: Still 63

Keep my to-read-now list as close to 250 as possible. Expert level: bring it down to 235.

  • Beginning total: 253
  • As of 9/15: 255

Added:

Read 15 books off of my Series Completion list

Series Completion
0/15

EXPERT LEVEL: Read a total of 57 books from the TBR list (overshooting my original GR year goal by 25)

Total Books
4/57





Wanted: Superheroes

Sep
14
4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Wanted
Uncle Sam wants YOU!

Image credit unknown, please claim if it’s yours.

Have you ever wished you could find that one book that was about _____? Have you ever found yourself wondering what a book with a certain kind of theme or message would be like? That’s exactly what “Wanted” is all about. A semi-regular feature, I use “Wanted” to talk about all those books I wish I could find that nobody seems to have written yet. If you happen to know of some books that fit my criteria, I would love for you to send them my way through the comments!

I need a (super)HERO!

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for a good superhero story. Superman from the 70’s? Yep, watched them ALL (including the crap-tastic Superman IV AND the sh*t on a stick remake Superman Returns) and loved them. (Well mostly. The soundtracks were good at least.) Batman? Lois and Clark? The Avengers? League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Green Lantern? Heroes? I’ve seen them all, at least in part (there’s a lot out there!) and own quite a few on DVD for re-watching on a regular basis. Despite my obsession with superheroes on visual medium, I have a terrible confession to make – I can’t make myself finish a graphic novel to save my life. I’m fine with Manga, and several web-comics. I just… don’t do American style comic books.

You know what would be great? Superhero novels! I know I can manage novels (obviously) and I would get one of my favorite kinds of story at the same time! I would eat it up like candy, I tell you! Sadly superheroes, while able to jump tall buildings in a single bound, seem unable to make the simple hop over the genre barriers.

“But what about Paranormals?” you say, “They’re kind of like superheroes!” And you’re right, they are. They have super-strength, super-hearing, super-whatever, so they could be superheroes. The defining line for me is how they use their super-whatever. Most paranormals being published now are so concerned with concealing their identity that they completely squash their powers, or they only tell a few people, without even bothering to figure out a way they could use their powers secretly. I love me some secret identities! Few of them use their powers to help anyone (other than their romantic interest, of course) and none of them seem to be interested in the vigilante type of justice that superheroes always seem to favor. (I’m not condoning this kind of behavior, mind. Just because I happen to find it very attractive…) I know I’m being picky, but there is a difference – let’s have our super-paranormals stand for something, instead of just hide out behind their secret identities!

Some novels I’ve read that do work as superhero novels:

The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Mayer

The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix

White Cat by Holly Black (sort of, and I don’t know if this holds through the whole series, as I haven’t finished it yet)

I’ve also heard that The Vindico by Wesley King is a sort of reverse superhero novel, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on it since the first review I saw.

Do you know of any superhero books that I’m missing out on? Am I just being too picky? What kind of novels do you want to see become the next big trend?

 





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