Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

26032825Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers; January 2, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe...

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
I have been a fan of Holly Black’s writing for a number of years. I've always particularly enjoyed her books about fairies including The Spiderwick Chronicles (which I read as a kid), the Modern Faerie Tales, and The Darkest Part of the Forest. So, you can imagine how excited I was for The Cruel Prince.

I enjoyed this book. The plot had me hooked from the very first page. One thing I particularly enjoyed about The Cruel Prince was how it expanded the world already established in other books—like Tithe—and some familiar faces appeared briefly in the story.

The Cruel Prince didn’t necessarily offer anything new in terms of fairies—especially if you’ve read books by this author before. It read like Black’s usual take on fey lore with the fairies being cruel tricksters, and their society dark and atmospheric full of magic, danger, and politics. But that’s what I was expecting and it was done so well. What I didn’t expect was how much I liked the majority of Jude’s perspective. For the most part she was okay. I didn’t necessarily like all the decisions she made, and parts of her personality reminded me a little of Hazel from The Darkest Part of the Forest. At some parts, their goals were kind of similar, particularly in the beginning of The Cruel Prince. That being said, their stories were vastly different. It was also interesting to see the courts from the viewpoint of a human forced to live among the nobility of the fey and what daily life would be like for Jude and her twin.

The prince implied in the title, well…I didn’t like his character for about 50% of the book. The title says it all: he was intentionally cruel to Jude to the point of endangering her life. And that crossed the line. However, the twists with his character were unexpected, and he went through some much needed development in book 2 (part 2). I wasn't exactly sympathetic to his character, but he was tolerable.

Overall, The Cruel Prince was everything I was hoping it would be. The last few chapters were amazing, and I look forward to what Holly Black has in-store for this story.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thoughts on the Imperial Radch Trilogy: Review of Ancillary Sword & Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

About the books...

20706284Title: Ancillary Sword
Author: Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch #2
Source/Format: Gift; paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Orbit; October 7, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

What if you once had thousands of bodies and near god-like technology at your disposal?

And what if all of it were ripped away?

The Lord of the Radch has given Breq command of the ship Mercy of Kalr and sent her to the only place she would have agreed to go—to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn's sister works in Horticulture. Athoek was annexed some six hundred years ago, and by now everyone is fully civilized—or should be. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. Old divisions are still troublesome, Athoek Station's AI is unhappy with the situation, and it looks like the alien Presger might have taken an interest in what's going on. With no guarantees that interest is benevolent...

23533039
Title: Ancillary Mercy
Author: Ann Leckie
Series: Imperial Radch #3 
Source/Format: Gift; paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Orbit; October 6, 2015

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The conclusion to the trilogy that began with Ancillary Justice...

For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist, and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself. Breq refuses to flee with her ship and crew, because that would leave the people of Athoek in terrible danger. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before...


Just a quick note: I will be discussing the second and third book of the trilogy. I will try to be as vague as possible, but there may be minor spoilers. So, if you haven’t read the first book, Ancillary Justice or Ancillary Sword, then stop reading now.

No, seriously, look away.

Well then, you've been warned.

Still here? Alright then, read on... 
During my break from blogging, I planned to get a lot of reading done. And while I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, I did binge the rest of the Imperial Radch trilogy—Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy—because I got the books as Christmas gifts.

As a whole, I enjoyed this series for its core themes and characters. In particular, my favorite part of the both books was the character Breq. I also enjoyed the politics—there was a lot of it—and other parts of Radachaai society outside of the palaces. And, I liked Leckie’s use of technology, and what she did with the AIs prominently featured throughout the trilogy.

Ancillary Sword…

I liked Ancillary Sword, but it was a little weaker than Ancillary Justice. I think the main issue I had was that some of the excitement of the first book was missing in the sequel. Sometimes, the stakes didn’t seem as high despite the danger posed to Breq and crew.

The political side of Radch has always been a focal point of the series, and it was one of the things I was looking forward to. In Ancillary Sword, Breq—former troop carrier, Justice of Torren, and current ancillary—is in a new role: fleet captain, a position given to her by one faction of Anaander Mianaai. However, while the civil war between the differing factions of Mianaai is made mention of, it seemed a little detached from the story because much of the fighting takes place off page rather than seeing parts of the conflict directly through the eyes of Breq—as was the case in Ancillary Justice. There was action in Ancillary sword, but not as much as in Ancillary Justice. But, I didn’t really expect it, given that from early on the narrative tended more toward Radch politics—although localized—and tea. And I mean lots and lots of tea.

But, it was kind of interesting to learn more about the AIs—ships and stations—as well as what different parts of the Radch was like. And Ancillary Sword was still a necessary read, because it set up the plot that continued into the next book.

Ancillary Mercy…


Now, by comparison, I enjoyed Ancillary Mercy more than Sword because the stakes were higher—the danger and conflict were more direct. During some parts, I was actually nervous for my favorite characters, and that only heightened how much of a page-turner Ancillary Mercy ended up being. It was an epic finish to the trilogy. It had all the elements I was missing from Ancillary Justice. There was a perfect blend of character development on all fronts—AI and people—politics, actions, mention of tea, and the conflict between Anaander Mianaai and herself.

One thing I enjoyed about Ancillary Mercy was how vivid the characters were—both familiar and new to the trilogy. Even the AIs had distinct personalities and habits despite being viewed by some as just equipment. I appreciated those little quirks.

The end, while not neat or overly happily ever after—and it certainly didn’t solve everything about the situation with Mianaai and Radch—was still a satisfying conclusion for the characters. And that made the whole series worth it.

Finally…

As a whole, the Imperial Radch trilogy was something else. I like to describe it simply as awesome. There were a lot of interesting ideas about technology, politics, justice, and the limits of an empire. And Leckie did a good job exploring them.
Would you read The Imperial Radch trilogy?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

ARC Review: Don't Live For Your Obituary by John Scalzi

36471758Title: Don't Live For Your Obituary: Advice, Commentary and Personal Observations on Writing, 2008-2017
Author: John Scalzi
Series: n/a
Source/Format: Subterranean Press via Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Nonfiction; Writing
Publisher/Publication Date: Subterranean Press; December 31, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...


Between 2008 and 2017, author John Scalzi wrote fifteen books, became a New York Times bestselling author, and won numerous awards, including the Hugo, the Locus and the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio. He also had book deals crater, lost more awards than he won, worried about his mortgage and health insurance, flubbed a few deadlines, tried to be a decent parent and husband, and got into some arguments on the Internet, because, after all, that’s what the Internet is for. Scalzi wrote about it all—the highs and lows in the life of a working writer—and gave his readers, and other writers, a glimpse of the day-to-day business of navigating a writing life in today’s world. Sometimes these essays offered advice. Sometimes they commented on the practical business of publishing and selling books. Sometimes they focused on the writing issues, arguments and personalities of the day. And sometimes, Scalzi reflected on his own writing life and career, and what both meant in the larger scheme of things. Don’t Live for Your Obituary is a curated selection of that decade of advice, commentary and observations on the writing life, from one of the best-known science fiction authors working today. But more than that, it’s a portrait of an era—ten years of drama, controversy and change in writing, speculative fiction and the world in general—from someone who was there when it happened… and who had opinions about it all...
Considering that this book was written by John Scalzi, I’m honestly not surprised that I liked it. I’ve been following Scalzi since I read his book, Old Man’s War, in 2015. I was late to the series, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it. So, I was excited when I first learned that he would be releasing a book on writing, mostly comprised of posts that have appeared on his blog between 2008 and 2017.

I liked Don’t Live For Your Obituary partly because I don’t have to go back through all of Scalzi’s blog posts to find the ones included in the book, and he has a lot of insightful commentary on his experience as a published author and on publishing in general. This book covered a myriad of topics. There was one topic I particularly liked and that was the focus on the business side of publishing—including taxes, money, and day jobs—which is something I often look for in writing books but never usually get.

Don’t Live For Your Obituary is a good book to read if you’re thinking about getting involved in anything publishing related, or are just looking for something interesting to read. It doesn’t sugarcoat or feed into lofty expectations, and often focuses on the reality of publishing. So, if you’re a fan of Scalzi then I recommend this book. And, if you’ve read the vast majority of the blog posts on his blog, Whatever, then, I still recommend Don’t Live For Your Obituary.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided  Subterranean Press via Netgalley for this review.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: The Unnatural World by David Biello

The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth's Newest AgeTitle: The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth's Newest Age
Author: David Biello
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Scribner; November 15, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...


With the historical perspective of The Song of the Dodo and the urgency of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, a brilliant young environmental journalist argues that we must innovate and adapt to save planet Earth...


Civilization is in crisis, facing disasters of our own making on the only planet known to bear life in the vast void of the universe. We have become unwitting gardeners of the Earth, not in control, but setting the conditions under which all of life flourishes—or not. Truly, it’s survival of the innovators. The Unnatural World chronicles a disparate band of unlikely heroes: an effervescent mad scientist who would fertilize the seas; a pigeon obsessive bent on bringing back the extinct; a low-level government functionary in China doing his best to clean up his city, and more. These scientists, billionaires, and ordinary people are all working toward saving the best home humanity is ever likely to have. What is the threat? It is us. In a time when a species dies out every ten minutes, when summers are getting hotter, winters colder, and oceans higher, some people still deny mankind’s effect on the Earth. But all of our impacts on the planet have ushered in what qualifies as a new geologic epoch, thanks to global warming, mass extinction, and such technologies as nuclear weapons or plastics. The Unnatural World examines the world we have created and analyzes the glimmers of hope emerging from the efforts of incredible individuals seeking to change our future. Instead of a world without us, this history of the future shows how to become good gardeners, helping people thrive along with an abundance of plants, animals, all the exuberant profusion of life on Earth—a better world with us. The current era of humans need not be the end of the world—it’s just the end of the world as we know it...
I’m pretty much on a nonfiction binge at this point, and I dove into my second nonfiction read, The Unnatural World, right after the Cosmic Web. This book focuses on the environment of the past, present, and hypothetical future. Often times asking the hard “what if” questions about what’s going on with the environment. The Unnatural World was a pretty good book. It presented a multitude of interesting arguments about what people unintentionally but inevitably do to the planet. It also exemplified how carelessness and ignorance about the environment causes damage, some of which cannot be undone (like the extinction of certain types of plant life and species of animals). I did like this book, but, at times, the writing seemed a little unfocused and that made some chapters a little slower than others. However, overall, The Unnatural World was still an interesting read that gave me a lot to think about.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

ARC Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

34050917Title: The Girl in the Tower
Series: The Winternight Trilogy #2
Author: Katherine Arden
Source/Format: Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Fantasy; Historical
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; December 5, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege...


Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop...

I've been looking forward to The Girl in the Tower since January, and luckily the wait wasn't too long. I was primarily excited for it because of how much I enjoyed reading the first book in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale. That book had a semi-open ending, and I wanted to know where Arden would take the story since there were so many possibilities. And indeed, The Girl in the Tower picks up shortly after the end of The Bear and the Nightingale. Vasya made her choice, and she intended to stick to it.

By no means was I disappointed by The Girl in the Tower, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous book. I still liked the story, but the first couple of chapters didn’t immediately draw me in the same way The Bear and the Nightingale was able to do. However, once the point of view shifted to Vasya, the story took on a familiar fairytale-like tone, which I was an absolute fan of. It quickly became apparent that this was the dark, icy, and magical sequel I was hoping for.

One of the things I like about Arden’s writing is how atmospheric it is. I particularly enjoyed the historical aspects of the book because of how detailed and real the characters and setting seemed to fit with the time period. She perfectly captured the landscape, weather, and dangers of the setting and society. The folklore is something to be noted too. There are a lot of old tales incorporated into Vasya’s story, which tied in with the magic. It was one of the things I enjoyed so much about The Bear and the Nightingale, and I was glad to see that it carried over into the second book.

That brings me to the characters. While Vasya’s story was the focus, I liked that the secondary characters had personality. They were present in the story, not just there as background noise. Then, there was Vasya. I liked her strength and determination. She learned a lot through her mistakes, and that made her character arch all the more interesting. Morozko—I don’t have much to say about the frost demon, because that would be a spoiler. What I will say is that he's one of my favorite characters in this series, and I appreciated the scenes he was in but wish he would have been more present in the story.

So, while the ending was a little abrupt, The Girl in the Tower was still a solid addition to the series. And if you enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale, then this is a must read. Now begins the wait for book three.
Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by the publisher (Del Rey) via Netgalley for this review.
About the author...

Born in Texas, Katherine attended Middlebury College, where she studied French and Russian literature. She has lived abroad in France and in Moscow, and is fluent in both French and Russian. She has also lived in Hawaii, where she spent time guiding horse trips while writing The Bear and the Nightingale. She currently lives in Vermont...

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Monday, November 20, 2017

ARC Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

34189556Title: The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Source/Format: Bookish First (St. Martin's Press); Bound ARC
More Details: Thriller; Suspense; Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Press; January 9, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love...

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement. You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves. You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her. You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships. Assume nothing...
I don’t typically read thrillers, but The Wife Between Us seemed too good to pass on. And let me tell you, this book surprised me in a good way. It was a thriller from start to finish, and I ended up loving it.

The back of the ARC states that “you will make assumptions,” and that’s true. I had several conflicting theories about how it all went down. I was right about some of it, but others aspects I was wrong about. Untangling the mass of lies rooted in the relationships between the characters, is part of what made The Wife Between Us such a great book. There was a lot of intentional misdirection—due in part to the narrative style, a combination of third and first person. There was always a foreboding sense that something has already happened. As well as the fact that something would happen, based off the context. So, in that way, the authors succeeded at maintaining tension throughout the entire story.

My favorite part of this book was Vanessa. She was an unreliable narrator, but her bitterness, hurt, and anger were as loud and clear as her fear. She was haunted by the events of her past—from the time she was in college all the way to the end of her marriage with Richard. In many ways, this book wasn’t only a mystery and thriller. It was also a thorough exploration of her character.

Overall, The Wife Between Us was a fantastic thriller that kept me guessing right up to the second to last page. It’s officially one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I look forward to seeing what Hendricks and Pekkanen write next.
 Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Bookish First & St. Martin's Press for this review.
About Greer Hendricks...

Greer Hendricks spent over two decades as an editor. Her writing has been published in The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. The Wife Between Us is her first novel.

About Sarah Pekkanen...

Internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen's newest book is THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS. She is also the co-author of the upcoming THE WIFE BETWEEN US (out in January 2018). Her prior novels are: THINGS YOU WON'T SAY, CATCHING AIR, THE BEST OF US, THE OPPOSITE OF ME, SKIPPING A BEAT, and THESE GIRLS....

Friday, November 17, 2017

ARC Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

33815781Title: The Wedding Date
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Source/Format: Bookish First (Berkley); ARC
More Details: Fiction; Contemporary; Romance
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley January 30, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel...
Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist. On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend. After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other. They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want...
It’s been some time since I picked up a contemporary romance novel. I had the chance to read a preview of The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory and couldn’t resist entering the raffle. After all, this book involves a couple of my favorite romance tropes: accidental meetings, and fake wedding dates. There were a couple of things I was a little on the fence about, but overall, The Wedding Date was a nice story with a cute main couple and a great cast of supporting characters.

I was already excited to read the full book just based off of the preview, and now I can say for certain that I liked this book a lot. It can feel a little formulaic at times, but the diverse and career-minded characters more than make up for that—particularly Alexa and Drew. Parts of the book focused on their respective professions and goals. It added a lot to their characterization. I thought it was a nice touch.

What I was a little conflicted about was certain aspects of the relationship. While I liked Drew and Alexa together, the start of their relationship happened quite quickly. At times, it felt more like lust. However, as the book progressed, they did talk, and the early chemistry really came through and developed into something more.

The Wedding Date is one of the best contemporary romance books I’ve read so far this year, and I look forward to reading Guillory’s next book.
Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Bookish First and Berkely for this review.
About the author...

Jasmine Guillory is a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law School. She is a Bay Area native who has towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks.

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.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Review: Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kristen Miller


28238589Title: Otherworld
Author: Jason Segel; Kristen Miller
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Delacorte Press; October 31, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true. Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted. And it’s about to change humanity forever. Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming...
I’m so very-very disappointed. I’ve been looking forward to Otherworld since it was first announced, because I read Segel and Miller’s middle grade series—Nightmares!—which was phenomenal. Needless to say, I was ready to love this one as much as Nighmares!. So, you can imagine how surprised I was by the fact that I just didn’t like Otherworld and ultimately DNFed it before the hundred page mark. My main reason is the main character. It's told in first person, so, the fact that I didn’t like the main character at all presented some issues I ultimately couldn’t get over. I didn’t like his personality, and his thoughts/internal monologue had me shaking my head “no”, and not in a good way. His actions weren't humorous. Instead, he came off as spoiled and extremely gross. Based off of how this one went, it's not for me, and I won’t be continuing on with this series.
Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review.
About the Jason Segel...

Jason Segel is an actor, a writer, and an author. Segel wrote and starred in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and cowrote Disney's The Muppets, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Segel's other film credits include The end of the Tour; I Love You, Man; Jeff Who Lives at Home; Knocked Up; and The Five Year Engagement. On television, Segel starred on How I Met Your Mother as well as Freaks and Geeks. He is the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Nightmares! series. Otherworld is his first novel for young adults...

About Kristen Miller...

Kristen Miller lives and writes in New York City. She is the author of the acclaimed Kiki Strike books, the New York Times bestseller The Eternal Ones, and How to Lead a Life Crime. Otherworld is the fifth novel Kristen has written with Jason Segel...


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review: The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe by J. Richard Gott

The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the UniverseTitle: The Cosmic Web: Mysterious Architecture of the Universe
Author: J. Richard Gott
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction; Science
Publisher/Publication Date: Princeton University Press; February 9, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

J. Richard Gott was among the first cosmologists to propose that the structure of our universe is like a sponge made up of clusters of galaxies intricately connected by filaments of galaxies--a magnificent structure now called the "cosmic web" and mapped extensively by teams of astronomers. Here is his gripping insider's account of how a generation of undaunted theorists and observers solved the mystery of the architecture of our cosmos. "The Cosmic Web" begins with modern pioneers of extragalactic astronomy, such as Edwin Hubble and Fritz Zwicky. It goes on to describe how, during the Cold War, the American school of cosmology favored a model of the universe where galaxies resided in isolated clusters, whereas the Soviet school favored a honeycomb pattern of galaxies punctuated by giant, isolated voids. Gott tells the stories of how his own path to a solution began with a high-school science project when he was eighteen, and how he and astronomer Mario Juri? measured the Sloan Great Wall of Galaxies, a filament of galaxies that, at 1.37 billion light-years in length, is one of the largest structures in the universe. Drawing on Gott's own experiences working at the frontiers of science with many of today's leading cosmologists, "The Cosmic Web" shows how ambitious telescope surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are transforming our understanding of the cosmos, and how the cosmic web holds vital clues to the origins of the universe and the next trillion years that lie ahead...
The Cosmic Web was a challenging book and not something I could just sit down and read in one sitting. It took me at least a week to read it. Yet, it was time well spent, because this was the kind of book that really made me think about what I was reading. The Cosmic Web put a real focus on the hard science, which I personally enjoyed. There was a lot of technical terminology pertaining to everything from physics to astronomy. However, it’s a fascinating read about what makes the universe what it is—how it’s structured, how galaxies are formed, the Big Bang, and so on. I also like the fact that Gott talked about his experience in his profession and mentioned people like Vera Rubin, Edwin Hubble, and Einstein—as well as many others. I mean, it’s not every day that I come across a book that describes the structure of the universe as a “sponge,” and managed to accurately describe why that was so.

Now, I’m a little sad that I checked this one out from the library but hope to eventually purchase a copy to keep on my shelf.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Draw 50: Sea Creatures by Lee J. Ames with Erin Harvey

35272546Title: Draw 50: Sea Creatures
Author: Lee J. Ames with Erin Harvey
Source/Format: Blogging from Books; Paperback
More Details: How-to; Nonfiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Watson-Guptill; July 25, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Part of the best-selling Draw 50 series this step-by-step guide to drawing various fish, sharks, oysters, bottlenose dolphins, crabs, polar bears, coral, and other ocean life is for artists of all levels. In this new installment of Lee J. Ames's beloved Draw 50 series, readers will find easy-to-follow, step-by-step visual lessons on sketching and rendering all kinds of sea and ocean-dwelling creatures. Animals and plants from in and near the water featured in the book include clownfish, whale sharks, sea otters, dolphins, turtles and more...
When it comes to drawing books, I don’t typically reach for ones that are specifically how-to or step by step. I like reading about the technical aspect instead. However, my goal is to improve on certain parts of my drawing skills that I consider to be weaker than others. So, when I saw Draw 50: Sea Creatures I couldn’t resist.

My first impression of this book is that it was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. I’m not too familiar with Step-by-step books, but from the description I expected this one to be a little thicker, page wise anyway. Also, the examples of the process did not have any text to offer further explanation. However, that wasn’t necessarily needed because the steps are pretty straightforward.

To get a good feel for how well this book works, I broke out my new sketchbook and drew five of the creatures in pencil. I tried to follow as many steps as I could. At some points, I did find myself skipping to the last step. However, that was mainly because I’m not a total beginner and didn’t end up needing the skipped steps to get to the finished drawing. That being said, Draw 50: Sea Creatures is good for beginners. The steps are simple visual examples that could be helpful with learning the basics of sea creatures. Even I found this book to be a good exercise. I also liked the fact that there was a pretty good mixture of creatures to draw like conch shells, blue claw crabs, pelicans, lionfish, narwhals, puffins, and sharks—just to name a few.

Overall, Draw 50: Sea Creatures was better than I thought it would be. I’m keeping this one on my shelf, because I have a feeling that I’m going to end up getting a lot of use out of this book. (Actual rating 4.5 out of 5)
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review. 
About Lee J. Ames...

Lee J. Ames began his career at the Walt Disney Studies, working on films such as Fantasia and Pinocchio. He taught at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and at Dowling College on Long Island, New York. An avid worker, Ames directed his own advertising agency, illustrated for several magazines, and illustrated approximately 150 books that range from picture books to postgraduate texts. He resided in Dix Hills, Long Island, with his wife, Jocelyn, until his death in June 2011...

About Erin Harvey...

Erin Harvey is an artist who works primarily in pencils, charcoals, oils, and pen and ink. She lives outside Atlanta with her husband, Ben, and their two children. 

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...

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