Showing posts with label Penguin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Penguin. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

ARC Review: Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay

Death in the Stacks (Library Lover's Mystery, #8)Title: Death in the Stacks
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Mystery; Cozy-Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; November 14, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In the latest Library Lover's Mystery from the New York Timesbestselling author of Better Late Than Never, the library's big fund-raiser leaves director Lindsey Norris booked for trouble . . .

Lindsey Norris and her staff are gearing up for the Briar Creek Library's annual Dinner in the Stacks fund-raiser. The night of dinner and dancing is not only a booklover's dream--it's the library's biggest moneymaker of the year. But instead of raising funds, the new library board president is busy raising a stink and making the staff miserable. Although Olive Boyle acts like a storybook villain, Lindsey is determined to work with her and make the event a success. But when Olive publicly threatens the library's newest hire, Paula, Lindsey cracks like an old book spine and throws Olive out of the library. The night of the fund-raiser, Lindsey dreads another altercation with Olive--but instead finds Paula crouched over Olive's dead body. Paula may have secrets, but Lindsey and the rest of the crafternooners know she's not the one who took Olive out of circulation. As the plot thickens, Lindsey must catch the real killer before the book closes on Paula's future . . .
Last year, I got the chance to read the previous book in the Library Lover’s Mystery series, Better Late Than Never. I adored that book and was excited to read the latest release in the series, Death in the Stacks. It was a quick read and fairly typical for a cozy mystery—amateur sleuth, small town setting. That being said, I honestly enjoyed Death in the Stacks because, at the end of the day, it was still an interesting mystery. And, it gets a couple of bonus points for being set in a library with librarians as main characters.

The gist of the story is that Lindsey Norris is entangled in another mystery, this time involving Olive Boyle—the troublemaking and manipulative new president of the library board. Olive had a lot of enemies, and that’s what made the mystery so good—I never knew who the culprit was because so many characters did have a clear motive. Also, another thing worth mentioning is the balance between the mystery and the personal lives of the main characters—such as the continued development of relationships established in previous—which added an extra layer of depth to the story. It also led to some interesting scenes between the mystery and subsequent investigation.

All in all, Death in the Stacks was a good book and I look forward to Jenn McKinlay’s next book.


This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review.

About the author...

Jenn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of several mystery series and will be debuting a new women's fiction series in June 2017, starting with the title About a Dog. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets and her husband's guitars.


Monday, October 30, 2017

ARC Review: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of NightTitle: Beasts Made of Night
Author: Tochi Onyebuchi
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill; October 31, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt. Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family. When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life...
Beasts Made of Night is another one of the books I was looking forward to. This was a highly entertaining book. It had an interesting system of magic with clear consequences and was set against the gritty and dangerous setting of Kos. I'm not going to lie, I was a total fan of this one. It did move at a slower pace, but some of the best young adult/fantasy novels I've read so far this year, have been like that—i.e. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. In the case of Beasts Made of Night, this was due in part to the character arcs. The characters go through a lot of learning and training, and some parts of the book felt very day-to-day with exception of sin-eating. The ability of the aki was probably my favorite part of Beasts Made of Night, aside from the sin-beasts. Sin is at the heart of the story, and it was an interesting choice to take something—a decision that a person makes or an act that a person commits—and turn it into something that is alive enough to do harm. Not just that, but to make others carry that guilt like it was their own.

Beasts Made of Night is now one of my favorite books of 2017. There’s nothing about a sequel on the Goodreads page yet. I hope there will be, because this book felt more like a beginning with such a promising story and set of characters. Needless to say, I look forward to reading Onyebuchi’s next book.
 This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review. 
About the author...

Tochi Onyebuchi is a writer based in Connecticut. He holds a MFA in Screenwriting from Tisch and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. His writing has appeared in Asimov’s and Ideomancer, among other places. Beasts Made of Night is his debut...

Friday, August 11, 2017

ARC Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

The Library of Fates
Title: The Library of Fates
Author: Aditi Khorana
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill; July 18, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn...

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough. The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them. Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?
You guys know I loved The Star-Touched Queen (TSTQ) and its sequel, A Crown of Wishes. So, when I saw that The Library of Fates was being compared to TSTQ, I was just like “yes” and also “Where can I sign up for this one?” Low and behold, I got the chance to get an eARC of The Library of Fates and was beyond excited to start it. What makes this hard is that I do like this book, but there are some things that I was a little on-the fence about.

I’m going to start with what I liked about The Library of Fates. The beginning was very interesting. There was some world building going on and I loved all the details about the scenery, old myths, and creatures specific to the book. I also liked the initial direction of the story and was interested in seeing how the political conflicts would playout—especially concerning the main character, Amrita, her father, and the fate of their kingdom. There were a lot of scenes that I thought were interesting. They were creative and took full advantage of the previously established myths as well as the setting.

For the most part, I was a big fan of the characters. Amrita’s initial reaction to the sudden changes to her situation was great, and I enjoyed the fact that part of The Library of Fates focused on her journey. She was helped along the way, and the parts where she was forced to face her past, present, and the possibilities of her future were incredibly emotional and pretty awesome. Thala was pretty interesting. I liked her character mainly because of her strong motivation to be free of her own set of circumstances.

However, as the story progressed I began to notice some things that were kind of similar to TSTQ. Since TSTQ is one of my all-time favorite books, I remember a lot of how the story went down. I know that the synopsis for The Library of Fates makes the comparison, but there was a point when those similarities got a little uncomfortable. Mainly because I felt like I was reading parts of Maya, from TSTQ’s, story again.

That being said, there were a lot of things I still liked about this book. And overall, I basically enjoyed the story and will definitely check out more books by this author. (Actual rating is 3.5 out of 5)

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ARC Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Speak; July 11, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she's finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?
I’ve been hearing about Akata Witch for a couple of years now and was excited to get a chance to read an eARC of it. On the surface, it appeared to have all the elements I look for in a fantasy. However, I had some reservations about approaching a book that had a substantial amount of hype. That being said, I really enjoyed Akata Witch. There was so much about the story that just clicked for me. So, I’ve seriously had to stop and wonder why I haven’t read any of Nnedi Okrafore’s novels before. Obviously, I’ve been missing out!

The synopsis of this book promises magic, and it fully delivers on that and more. I’d like to just say that I liked this book and you should read it too, but that doesn’t explain why. I’ll start with the story. The story of this book moves at its own pace, and honestly, I didn’t mind because there were a lot of details to take in. There was magic, lots of it actually. That being said, Okrafore put such a fresh and imaginative spin on it that the premise of the story felt entirely new. In that way, I enjoyed the world building a lot and found Okrafore’s version of a magically inclined society interesting and unique. It’s probably one of my favorites thanks to how the characters interacted with each other and the places around them. There were so many cool elements to the story and setting, and I can’t talk about them for fear of accidently spoiling the story. Just know that they were cool.

Before I end this review, I want to mention the characters. Let me just say that they were amazing, especially the main character, Sunny. From the start, I instantly loved how Okrafore portrayed her character. While the core of Akata Witch was arguably Sunny’s journey as she learned how to handle her abilities as a “free agent,” it was also about learning, teamwork, and friendship. The friendship between Sunny and her new friends was one of my favorite things about Akata Witch.

At the end of the day, I’m really looking forward to reading more books by Nnedi Okrafore, especially Akata Warrior. Also, I’ve heard a lot of praise for her Binti series. So I’ll eventually read those books too.

(Actual rating 4.5 out of 5 birdcages)

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review.
About the author...

Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation”, The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning”. Nnedi Okorafor’s books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for Best Novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel), Kabu Kabu (A Publisher's Weekly Best Book for Fall 2013), Akata Witch (an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner). Her latest works include her novel The Book of Phoenix and her novella Binti (a finalist for a Nebula and British Science Fiction Award). Nnedi is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY). Learn more at Nnedi.com...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

ARC Review: The Reader by Traci Chee

The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold, #1)Title: The Reader
Author: Traci Chee
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Putnam; September 13, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible...
One word folks: more. I want more of this book—this series—this world that Traci Chee has created. I have one reason for that: The Reader was awesome. The synopsis had a lot of promise—a society that was widely illiterate by custom, a mysterious book, a girl out for revenge against those who have wronged her and those she loves. I went into this book with high expectations, and boy does The Reader deliver.

The primary focus of The Reader was Sefia and her journey to get revenge, and unlock the secrets of the book. She had a thirst for information, and strived to understand things that were never taught to her. Part of The Reader focused on her progress and growth as a character. There were other characters that also had narratives just as strong as Sefia’s, and their stories were just as important—I had my favorites and tolerable secondary characters—but for the most part, the characters were one of the strongest aspects of The Reader. There were just so many compelling and layered pieces of the plot that I found myself easily invested in the story!

The story gets started on strong footing. The setting, society, and problems are quick to show their faces—promptly setting up the main conflict. And while the book was long—almost five hundred pages—there was something gripping about the story. I was never bored. There was always something going on with the characters, and their adventures were fun to read about. The story was also pretty balanced with a solid mystery, action, and a hint of romance.

The writing was also good. The prose was descriptive and straight-forward. There were a lot of POVs but it showed different parts of the fictional world, and painted a broader picture of the circumstances, mindsets, and habits of the main characters.  I actually liked reading from so many perspectives because of that. It kept the story going at a good pace and answered questions while raising others—it also gave background to parts of the story.

All-in-all, The Reader was a solid debut. I liked these characters and their story, and the society they were a part of was fascinating. I still have so many questions—I wasn’t ready for the story to be over, but it was—as such, I will definitely continue on with this series.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog. The Reader is her YA debut...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ARC Review: Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor

Thieving WeaselsTitle: Thieving Weasels
Author: Billy Taylor
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Dial Books; August 23, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Skip O’Rourke is dragged into one last con . . . but he doesn’t know the con’s on him in this funny, page-turning debut YA for fans of Winger and Ocean’s Eleven... 

Cameron Smith attends an elite boarding school and has just been accepted to Princeton University alongside his beautiful girlfriend, Claire. Life for Cameron would be perfect, except that Cameron Smith is actually Skip O’Rourke, and Skip O’Rourke ran away from his grifter family four years ago…along with $100,000 of their “earnings” (because starting a new life is not cheap). But when his uncle Wonderful tracks him down, Skip’s given an ultimatum: come back to the family for one last con, or say good-bye to life as Cameron. “One last con” is easier said than done when Skip’s family is just as merciless (and just as manipulative) as they’ve always been, and everyone around him is lying. Skip may have given up on crime, but there’s one lesson he hasn’t forgotten: always know your mark. And if you don’t know who your mark is . . . it’s probably you...
Let me start out by saying that Thieving Weasels was not a bad book. In fact, it was actually pretty good, I liked it. The story does explore the question of morality since the characters dipped into morally gray areas—they were career criminals after all. Now one thing I do have to note is that this book wasn’t really all that humorous. There were moments that were maybe, possibly a little funny, but there was nothing that made me outright laugh. However, besides that, there were other aspects about Thieving Weasels that I did like.

Thieving Weasels was basically about Cameron Smith, a.k.a Skip O’Rourke. He was running from a life of crime, and he saw the boarding school as an exit from his old life. What I got from the story is that he wasn’t just running from his family, he was trying to find a place that made him feel like an actual person. And yeah, Taylor did show Skip’s history in a way that made his otherwise outlandish decision to take off alone, seem like a plausible thing for someone so desperate for change. That part of the story was handled well, and brought up questions about loyalty and family. In short, I could understand Skip’s feelings on the matter.

The overall plot wasn’t bad, and the story was more entertaining than anything else. The pacing was also good, and it was a light read. One of the biggest draws for me was definitely seeing how Skip would ultimately deal with his family and the situation they put him in—think meddling relatives but about a hundred times worse. That part of the story was pretty good too. Morality was a big theme in this book, and more than once Skip grappled with decisions he had made and happened to be considering at the present point in time. I did like the fact that this was an actual detail, because it made Skip more fleshed-out with faults and habits, and the like.

As far as the secondary characters go, they were just alright. A lot of the development went to Skip’s family—his mother, cousin, and uncle—since they had such prominent roles in the story. I would have liked to have seen more of what his life was like at the boarding school, but Thieving Weasels wasn’t that long of a book. And given where the story began, I didn’t expect to see much of his life outside of his family anyway.

Overall, Thieving Weasels was not a bad read. I went in not knowing what to expect from a story like this, but the book ended up being fun and entertaining.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!

Friday, June 26, 2015

ARC Review: A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

A Book of Spirits and Thieves (Spirits and Thieves, #1)Title:A Book of Spirits and Thieves
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Source/Format: Penguin First to Read, E-ARC
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill, June 23, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her father’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspeare Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself.

Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart...
 
A Book of Spirits and Thieves is basically my introduction to Morgan Rhodes' novels. I have heard of her other series—Falling Kingdoms—though I don’t ever really remember being too interested in it despite the numerous things I’ve heard about it, all good. But for me this book was ok, and I in no way felt like I needed to immediately rush out and buy all of Rhodes' other novels. The beginning was just alright, and I honestly kept setting this book aside until I finally sat down and decided to just get through it. There were elements within the first few chapters that offered enough intrigue to make me curious enough to see how the book would end.

The story was in no way slow. In fact, the trouble almost immediately begins, and the plot quickly moves along from there. One aspect that I really enjoyed was the very different settings—Present-day Toronto and Mytica. I found the parts that took place in Mytica especially interesting, and when the story finally reached those parts I felt more enthused about getting to the ending of the novel. The premise about a book actually doing some harm was interesting enough. Wait, sorry, no, not “some harm,” but a lot of it actually. And the mystery of what this book was is what kept me reading. It was one thing I definitely wanted to know more about. The writing was also something else I enjoyed. Yes, it was third person, but it was descriptive and it was nice to see the story from different perspectives. And not once did I ever feel like the characters were getting muddle together. It was easy to distinguish one from the other.

Crystal (Crys) Hatcher was an ok character. My primary issue with her in the beginning was how the book dealt with the relationship between the two sisters, with Crys being the eldest. I don’t know if this is a trend, but I don’t like it when the older sister is constantly comparing her shortcomings to the younger sister that is always considered the breadwinner of the family. Sometimes it could be for the pettiest of reasons like looks, grades, jobs, or whatever. And once I got past the beginning, Crys continued to be an ok character but my opinion of her improved as the story progressed. As for the other prominent characters in the book, I liked Maddox and Becca, and I did enjoy seeing them interact with one another—it was very entertaining. And then there was Farrell Grayson. I didn't like him at all mainly because of the things he did. But there was an assortment of characters ranging in personalities and motivations regarding their actions and it ultimately tied into the plot.

So, all in all, A Book of Spirits and Thieves was an average sort of book for me. There were things I liked and some that I did not. But the second half of the book is what saved it for me. I might consider picking up other books by Morgan Rhodes—maybe even the sequel to this one, it just depends.
This copy of the book was provided by Penguin First to Read for this review, thank you!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

    Thank you to Penguin/Viking for allowing us to reveal the cover of Stasia Ward Kehoe's The Sound of Letting Go!  Personally, I love the cover.  It's simple, but in a perfect kind of way that I think suits the book.  Make sure you visit the bottom of the post for the giveaway!
 
 
 
 
Arrows, because I feel like making you work to get to the cover...
and giveaway...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hah, you're almost there...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
And now the cover 
 
Title: The Sound of Letting Go
Author: Stasia Ward Kehoe
Publisher/ Expected Publication Date: Penguin Group/Viking, February 1, 2014
 
Synopsis
     For sixteen years, Daisy has been good.  A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly.  A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad.  She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave. 
 
     But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal.  Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy?  Should she side with her parents or protect her brother?  How do you know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?

 
The all important links
For more information on Stasia Ward Kehoe

And now for the giveaway!
 
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