Showing posts with label four birdcages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label four birdcages. Show all posts

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Revie: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library, #1)Title: The Invisible Library
Author: Genevieve Cogman
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Roc; June 14, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author...

One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen. London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...
The Invisible Library is one book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I mean, it sounded like the kind of book I would enjoy anyway since its main theme is a mysterious library, librarians who double as spies, and of course books—lots and lots of books. In a lot of ways this one reminded me of The Librarians (the movies and TV series). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that comparison in a bad way, because I actually enjoyed this book.

The Invisible Library was a pretty interesting story. It had a lot to do with one librarians search for a “particularly dangerous book.” This book was heavy on the mystery aspect. The majority of the book was spent building up the characters and the mystery surrounding the books’ disappearance and ultimate fate. Another thing worth noting was the library. I liked the fact that the library wasn’t just a library, but a place that connected to a lot of different realities. The individual realities were kind of interesting in that they could share common features and names, but were still different at the same time. So, there was a bit of a time-travel-y element to the story. I also found the librarians themselves to be a point of interest, because of how the library affected them and the roles they took on. Because hey, it’s just part of the job description, right?

Now before I end this review, I want to talk about the characters. The librarians were already kind of mysterious, especially the more higher ranking ones above where the MC, Irene, currently worked. Irene was pretty cool. I’m always a sucker for characters who are librarians—but Irene gets bonus points for working for a magical library, and being a spy. She was intuitive and had a love for books, and honestly, it was just kind of fun to read about the adventures she had. In the synopsis it’s mentioned that Kai—Irene’s assistant—had secrets. That part was alright, but I found his secrets easy to guess. However, I still have some questions about his character. So, guessable secrets aside, Kai was still interesting.

So, The Invisible Library was entertaining, and I look forward to seeing what comes next in this series.

This copy of the book was provided by Blogging For Books (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Genevieve Cogman got started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age, and has never looked back. But on a perhaps more prosaic note, she has an MSC in Statistics with Medical Applications and has wielded this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst and classifications specialist. Although The Invisible Library is her debut novel, she has also previously worked as a freelance roleplaying game writer. Genevieve Cogman’s hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting and gaming, and she lives in the north of England...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers; March 28, 2017
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real? Welcome to Weep...
I still haven’t finished the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, but I was excited for Strange the Dreamer since it wasn’t a spin off. There was a lot to like about Strange the Dreamer, but I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. There was nothing fundamentally bad, but at times I did find myself checking out of the story. Still, the book was very readable with a sort or cliffhanger-ish ending.

The first chapter was an incredibly strong start to the story, because it set up the mystery surrounding the ultimate fate of the lost city known simply as Weep. Taylor certainly knows how to weave a layered story with rich scenery and myths brought to life by impressive prose. There was an almost lyrical and dream-like quality to the story, which is one of the things I liked about Strange the Dreamer. One of the reasons I kept reading was because I wanted to know more about the magic—what the limitations were, and how it worked. The abilities were creative and pretty cool even though some were slightly more morbid than others.

Some parts of the beginning didn’t necessarily grab me. I did like what I read. However, I kept setting the book aside because at times I did get a little bored while waiting for something to happen. A lot of time was devoted to developing Lazlo Strange’s character and the world around him. After a certain point the plot picked up, and I was able to get into the story and stay in that mindset long enough to get through the book. At times, I got a sense of déjà vu. Some of the details that turned out to be essential to the story almost felt like bits and pieces from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It wasn’t exactly the same, but the themes were almost too similar. I can’t really specify because it didn't come up until pretty late in the story. Some of the secondary characters bugged me. They were there, but mostly their story was viewed through Lazlo's eyes. This was mainly concerning the party that was traveling with Lazlo, and by the end of Strange the Dreamer, I still felt like I didn't know much about most of them.

The end is one of the things I was conflicted about. The last part of the book was, at some points, awesome with plenty of action and twists that were surprising. However, others parts were just okay—mainly because it lacked an element of surprise. Still, the end was the start of something new for some characters. There were a lot of questions left and some new ones that were presented at the very end, which was clearly setting up the story for the next book.

So, Strange the Dreamer was good, and it’s highly likely that I’ll read the sequel once it comes out. Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

FurthermoreTitle: Furthermore
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library;Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Dutton Books For Young Readers; August 30, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A captivating and colorful adventure that reads like a modern day fairy tale, from the bestselling author of the Shatter Me series...

Inspired by her childhood love of books like The Secret Garden and The Chronicles of Narnia, bestselling author Tahereh Mafi crafts a spellbinding new world where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places...

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other. But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. It will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss...

So, a couple of years ago I read Shatter Me and didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t think I would ever pick up another book by Tahereh Mafi after that, but obviously that has changed. I recently read Furthermore and was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the book. It was fun, the writing was very descriptive, the setting was magical and colorful, and the story gave me some serious Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland vibes.

The synopsis states that this is a story about a girl trying to find her father, and the adventure she goes on to do just that. I can agree with that since that’s basically what happens. My only complaint was that it took a while for anything to really happen. However, I can overlook that because I thought it was nice to see what Alice’s life was like before she had her grand adventure. It also set up the ground rules of how the magic worked.

As for the characters, I did like the majority of them, and there was no one that I really considered to be an antagonist. Alice Alexis Queensmeadow was pretty interesting. Unlike the rest of her town, she had no color except for in her eyes and sometimes her cheeks. Part of why I picked up this book was that I wanted to see how her colorless condition was going to work with the rest of the story, and what her ability would be. Alice felt sorry for herself in the beginning, so, it was nice to see her grow as the book progressed. Oliver, like Alice at the beginning of the book, was just alright but his character did eventually grow on me.

Now, the setting and magic were two of the more interesting parts of the book, and there were clear differences between Furthermore and Ferenwood. Ferenwood was a place that thrived on color, because color was a sign of magic. While there were some minor inconsistencies, I thought that it was an interesting idea that turned out to be pretty cool. Furthermore was just as interesting of a place as Ferenwood. It was also kind of dangerous and ruled by something that was undeniably random, which is why it kind of reminded me of Wonderland.

Overall, I really liked Furthermore. It turned out to be an interesting story. Now that I have read this book, I’m curious about how the Shatter Me trilogy actually ended. So, it’s highly likely that sometime in the near future, I’ll go back and read those books.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Review: The Twistrose key by Tone Almhjell

The Twistrose KeyTitle: The Twistrose Key
Author: Tone Almhjell
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Puffin Books; September 2, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Something is wrong in the house Lin's family rented. The clocks tick too slowly. Frost covers the flowerbed, even in a rain storm. And when a secret key marked "Twistrose" arrives for her, Lin finds in a crack in the cellar and unlocks a gate to the world of Sylveros. This frozen realm is the home of every dead animal who ever loved a child. Lin is overjoyed to be reunited with Rufus, the pet she buried under the rosebush. But together they must find the missing Winter Prince in order to save Sylver from destruction…and they’re not the only ones hunting for the Prince...
I happened to find a copy of The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell by complete accident. I was just out for the day and happened to see it in the store. I wasn't looking for it, and didn't know anything about it or the author. However, once I read the synopsis my immediate reaction was "Yeah, this seems like something I want to read". I do have to admit that the synopsis can sound a bit morbid, but The Twistrose Key was a whimsical tale full of adventure, danger, and friendship.

The Twistrose Key was a fantastic story. There was a lesson, but it was conveyed subtly through prose, dialogue, and all the things Lin experienced. The primary focus of the story was on the task given to Lin and her reunion with Rufus in the world of Sylveros. The majority of this book took place in Sylveros, and it was by far one the best settings I’ve read about. I mean, it was a snow covered land literally populated by beloved pets that were deceased. The rules of Sylveros were pretty straight forward, and I liked how consistent the details were kept.

The characters were wonderful, Lin especially. By far, she wasn’t perfect. She made mistakes, got upset and frustrated. But it was nice to see such a range of emotions. I also liked the friendship between Lin and Rufus.

The story didn’t have that fast of a pace. Instead, it was a combination of slow and quick moving scenes. I honestly didn’t mind all of the details. I liked the early development that went on. The initial chapters introduced a lot of the characters, the magic, and other details that would later become the adventure aspect of the book. The Twistrose Key was simply a good story.

There appears to be another book in this series, and the synopsis also seems pretty interesting for that one too. So, I would definitely be interested in reading another book by Tone Almhjell.

Friday, December 16, 2016

ARC Review: Iceling by Sasha Stephenson

Iceling (Icelings #1)Title: Iceling
Author: Sasha Stephenson 
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Razorbill; December 13, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Lorna’s adopted sister, Callie, is part of a mysterious group of non-lingual teens, Icelings, born on a remote Arctic island, who may not be entirely human. Now Callie wants to go home...

Seventeen-year-old Lorna loves her adoptive sister, Callie. But Callie can’t say “I love you” back. In fact, Callie can’t say anything at all. Because Callie is an Iceling—one of hundreds of teens who were discovered sixteen years ago on a remote Arctic island, all of them lacking the ability to speak or understand any known human language. Mysterious and panicked events lead to the two sisters embarking on a journey to the north, and now Lorna starts to see that there’s a lot more to Callie’s origin story than she’d been led to believe. Little does she know what’s in store, and that she’s about to uncover the terrifying secret about who—and what—Callie really is.
Two words: road trip. Buckle up dear readers, because I need to talk about this book.

Originally, Iceling by Sasha Stephenson wasn’t one of my most anticipated books of 2016. If anyone would have asked me about the book back in February, I wouldn’t have had much of an answer. Simply put, I hadn’t heard much about this book. However, I eventually saw the synopsis and I liked all the ideas that it introduced and was immediately excited about Iceling.

Just like with every book I’ve ever read, there were things that I really loved about Iceling, and others that I felt sort of mixed about. By no means was this a bad book. In fact, the twists were really surprising and kept me on my toes, and once the plot hit all those pivotal moments the story turned out to be fantastic.

I’m going to talk about what I didn’t like just to get it out of the way. What I disliked about Iceling was the parts that seemed like they were a little extraneous. There were semi-long stretches where facts that had already been stated seemed to be repeated back in several, differently worded ways. I’ve got nothing against repetition since I think it can be used as emphasis to make a point. In Iceling, it was a little much for me, but not something that made me rage-quit the book.

Now, what I did like outweighed what I didn’t like about the book. The synopsis left me with a lot of questions. However, the biggest draw for me was really the Icelings. The Icelings were interesting and probably my favorite part of the book. I really liked them and the role they played in the story. I also liked how the relationships between the Icelings and their adopted siblings were set up. The plot was, overall, really good. Once the story picked up, I could see what Stephenson was setting up during the initial chapters of the book. And man, the end result was something wholly memorable.

Iceling was a solid start to something that could turn out to be a great series. Suffice it to say, I want to see where this goes, and so I have to sit here and wait until book two comes out.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Title: Gemina
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Knopf Books for Young Readers; October 18, 2016
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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed...

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands. But relax. They've totally got this. They hope...
I feel like I have waited forever to read Gemina. There were parts that I really loved about the story, and others that were just sort of meh.

Listen, I loved Illuminae. I have an endless amount of praise for that book. I enjoyed the way the mixed media was used to tell the story, and honestly, it was just exciting. The beginning packed an emotional punch, and the ending was full of action and suspense. Simply put, Illuminae was exhilarating. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Don’t get me wrong, Gemina was not a bad book. The same elements that made Illuminae so great were here too; although, I felt like something was missing. Some parts were a little underwhelming for me and I had a harder time connecting with the focal characters—Nik and Hanna—but other than that, the book was great.

Despite its length, Gemina was a quick read for me. I did like the use of the mixed media—plus, the illustrations were nice. On its own, the story was pretty interesting, and there was a lot of action once the bulk of the conflict took center stage. Part of what I liked most about Gemina was the tone of the story. The villains posed a significant threat. Their motives, attitude, and means created an atmosphere of suspense.

The science fiction aspect of Illuminae and Gemina is part of what I like about this series thus far. The technology, ships, and the station were all pretty neat, and I liked how the setting was used.

As I said above, I had a slight problem with connecting with the characters. This was mainly due to the VERY beginning of the book, but once I got past that and learned more about them, I did like them a little more, especially how they were ultimately developed. It was also nice to see some of the characters from the last book, and I really enjoyed that part of the story.

Now, the end of Gemina didn’t really resolve that much—it was kind of a cliffhanger. I still have a lot of unanswered questions and want to see how things ultimately turn out, so I’m definitely going to read the next book.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: The Bridge From Me To You by Lisa Schroeder

The Bridge from Me to YouTitle: The Bridge from Me to You
Author: Lisa Schroeder 
Source/Format: Won (Giveaway), Bound ARC
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary; Romance
Publisher/Publication Date: Point; July 29, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place... 

Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible--something to truly believe in...
The synopsis doesn’t tell much about the book, but I decided to give it a try anyway. And folks, let me tell you, I’m glad I did. The Bridge From Me To You is the first book I’ve read by Lisa Schroeder, and it was a very cute contemporary novel. The story focused on a high school football player and a girl just trying to find her place in the world. This concept had the possibility of turning into a been-there-done-that kind of thing. However, it was anything but typical, and I liked this book more than I thought I would. At first, I wasn’t too sure about how I would react to the writing, but actually, I really liked it. The development of the characters respective situations, backstories, and relationships didn’t suffer because of the alternating POVs and writing. The combination of prose and poetry was interesting to read, and worked well. I think Schroeder did a good job at the emotional aspect of the book, and I liked the chemistry between Lauren and Colby. The friendships were great too—they seemed realistic, and the connection between the characters was there. Another thing I liked was how this book didn’t gloss over the issues, but instead showed the potential worries and emotional damage that could come from them.

At the end of the day, The Bridge From Me To You was a very good book. I really enjoyed it, and I would consider picking up another novel by Schroeder.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Review: The Snow Queen by Hans Christain Andersen, Illustrated by Sanna Annukka

24385896Title: The Snow Queen
Author/Illustrator: Hans Christain Andersen; Sanna Annukka
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Hardcover
More Details: Classic; Fairy Tale
Publisher/Publication Date: Hutchinson; October 22, 2015 (Originally published in 1844)

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Hans Christian Andersen's magical tale of friendship and adventure is retold through the beautiful and intricate illustrations of Finnish-English illustrator Sanna Annukka. Cloth-bound in deep blue, with silver foil embellishments, The Snow Queen is a unique work of art.

Sanna Annukka is familiar to many from her collaborations with Marimekko and her artwork for Keane's album, Under the Iron Sea. For her second book project, she illustrates Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen...
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen is one classic I’ve been meaning to read. Since I had a chance to read the edition illustrated by Sanna Annukka, I figured that now was the time. I’ve heard about the numerous retellings and stories loosely based on the Snow Quuen, but I wanted to see if the original tale was good. Actually,  I really enjoyed The Snow Queen. It was a short  and charming tale about friendship and the Snow Queen. It was also somewhat of an adventure too. The illustrations were gorgeous (in this edition), and the story itself was nice. I enjoyed the friendship between Kay and Gerda—especially Gerda’s loyalty. I could understand her motivation for undertaking the task of helping her friend. Now, the Snow Queen, she was an alright character, but she wasn't really that present in the story. The majority of the book was spent almost entirely on Gerda’s perspective and the characters that were directly part of her end of the story.

Really, I can’t say anymore. The book was so short that I found it hard to find something to say without delving too far into the story. So, I will leave it here today, and end this review by saying I’m glad that I can finally mark The Snow Queen off the list of classics I haven’t read. It was a very nice story.
This coy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, in 1805. The son of a cobbler and washerwoman, he didn't start school until he was seventeen. He became famous for his fairy tales, including classics such as The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid. The Snow Queen was published in 1844. When he died aged 70, the king and crown prince of Denmark attended his funeral...

About the illustrator...

Sanna Annukka spent her childhood summers in Finnland, and its landscape and folklore remain a source of inspiration. A print maker and illustrator based in Brighton, England, she is also a designer for Finnish textile brand Marimekko and has been featured in Vogue and many interior design magazines. She had also illustrated Hans Christian Andersen's The Fur Tree...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: Grand Forks (A History of American Dining in 128 Review) by Marilyn Hagerty

Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 ReviewsTitle: Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews
Author: Marilyn Hagerty 
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Food & Drink
Publisher/Publication Date: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco; August 27, 2013

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A legendary 86-year-old food critic brings together a collection of the best down-home, no-nonsense restaurant reviews-from Red Lobster to Le Bernadin-culled from her fifty year career...

Writing for her local North Dakota newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald since 1957, Marilyn Hagerty went from obscurity to overnight sensation in 2012 when her earnest, admiring review of a local Olive Garden went viral. Among the denizens of the food world-obsessive gastronomes who celebrate Alice Waters and Michael Pollan, revere all things artisanal, and have made kale salad a staple on upscale urban menus-Hagerty's review ignited a fiery debate over the state of American culture. Anthony Bourdain defended Hagerty as an authentic voice of the larger American culture-one that is not dictated by the biases of the food snobbery that define the coasts.

In this refreshing, unpretentious collection that includes more than 200 reviews culled from a voluminous archive spanning over fifty years, Hagerty reveals how most Americans experience the pleasure of eating out....
Just a quick disclaimer: this is the kind of book that will make you hungry.

I picked up Grand Forks just because I happened to come across a copy, and decided to just go ahead and buy it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading 237 pages worth of reviews about restaurants and food, written by Marilyn Hagerty.

Grand Forks is probably one of the more interesting nonfiction reads I’ve come across this year—not because it wasn’t science, history, or environment related (it’s not even a cookbook). Those subjects are fine, but Grand Forks was just different. It was filled with a compilation of restaurant and food  reviews.

Grand Forks was all about the food from the various restaurants that Marilyn Hagerty visited. She also described the décor, the atmosphere of those places, and her overall dining experience. Hagerty’s descriptions of the food she tried often made me wish I had a plate of it too.

I liked how the reviews centered largely on Hagerty’s community restaurant scene, and how some of the places were reviewed more than once. On the surface, Grand Forks doesn’t appear to tell the history of much. But, actually, it was kind of a history of American dining. One of the earlier reviews in Grand Forks comes from 1987. So, 1987 all the way up until 2012. That’s a long enough time to establish some kind of history. As the book progressed, it kind of illustrated the changing times in Hagerty’s community. New restaurants opened, old favorites closed down or altered their menus and dining rooms—while some things almost stayed basically the same.

So, Grand Forks was a very entertaining read. I liked it a lot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1)Title: Hourglass
Author: Myra McEntire
Source/Format: Purchased; ebook
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Egmont USA; June 14, 2011


Synopsis from Goodreads...

One hour to rewrite the past…

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may also change her past. Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should've happened?
The synopsis says “One hour to rewrite the past…” and that pretty much sums up the point of the book in one perfect six word sentence. Let me get into that a bit…

Recently, I was in the mood for something more paranormal than fantasy, which is why I picked up Hourglass by Myra McEntire. What I got was a hefty dose of time travel and related theories. This book leaned more towards science fiction, and that was perfectly fine even if that wasn’t what I was exactly looking for. Don’t get me wrong though, the book wasn’t a bad one. In fact, I actually really liked it.

Emerson Cole was a pretty strong narrator. The book was written in first person, thus it was her story. I liked the descriptions and the dialogue between the characters. For the most part, I liked Emerson as a character, even when Michael Weaver showed up on the scene. I didn’t mind his character for the most part; however, I have one complaint. From there, the middle section of story kind of turned into this sort of tug-a-war thing between Michael and Emerson. One pet peeve of mine is when characters withhold vital information for reasons just…well, because. It’s vital for a reason! And that same sort of situation temporarily popped up in Hourglass. However, Hourglass has some really neat twists going for it, ones that I wasn’t expecting, and that’s good writing in my book. What happened wasn’t what I thought would go down, and the last handful of chapters were, in my opinion, the best part of Hourglass.

The setting wasn’t really anything different. It had a small town vibe to it, but it was interesting how McEntire used it to develop the abilities of the characters and set up plausible situations where these things could happen. All in all, a very interesting take on time travel.

Hourglass was a very good opening to the series. Currently, I don’t have any more of the books, but I would be interested in other works by Myra McEntire.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlTitle: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Source/Format: Won (giveaway); Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Press; September 10, 3013

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Synopsis from Goodreads... 

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love... 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan. But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
I have been hearing about Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell since it came out way back in 2013. And, I don’t know, I guess I’ve just put off reading it for a long time since the hype was everywhere. However, I’ve had a copy sitting on my shelf for a while now, and recently I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. Fangirl was not a bad book. I liked the overall story, and particularly enjoyed how Rowell handled some of the themes in the novel. I think what I liked best about Fangirl wasn’t actually Cath’s fan fiction writing, but all the other elements that made up the story. Don’t get me wrong, the fandom/fan fiction parts were fine on their own. However, what I liked more than anything else was seeing Cath adjust to college life and how she dealt with turmoil in her family and personal life. Those parts were especially awesome. Cath’s story was the focus of Fangirl, but I also liked the secondary characters too. Cath’s college roommate came off as kind of unapproachable, but I instantly liked her character. Cath’s twin sister Wren was alright too. They each went through their fair share of changes, sometimes together and sometimes alone, and the learning moments that both Cath and Wren experienced was handled in a way that fully explored the issues. As such, I really liked the dynamics of the friendships and relationships in Fangirl.

So, I went into Fangirl with literally no expectation besides wanting to finally get to this book, and came away thoroughly entertained with a handful of new favorite characters.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Review: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

A Corner of White (The Colors of Madeleine, #1)Title: A Corner of White
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Source/Format: Purchased; ebook
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Arthur A. Levine Books; April 1, 2013

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world). Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth. As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...
Amidst my marathon of contemporary and nonfiction, I took a break to read something else. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty caught my attention because it seemed like something I would enjoy. It appeared to have all the right elements—a myth, a mysterious gap, and unexplained disappearances. And despite the sole problem I had with A Corner of White, I really enjoyed this book.

What I really liked best about A Corner of White was the characters, the setting, and the writing. The characters were interesting. Madeleine and her mother were among my favorites. I think Moriarty did a good job depicting the relationship between the two as a realistic connection between mother and daughter. Elliot’s side of the story was just as interesting as Madeleine’s, and I liked how their lives eventually connected. The setting—or should I say settings—were different from one another, and I liked them both. The Kingdom of Cello’s “color storms” were especially interesting.

I’ve read books where the characters and their lives are the main focus of the book, and the same could be said about A Corner of White. The beginning and the middle of the book focuses more on the lives of the characters and the things that happened to them on a daily basis. Stuff does happen—which I was happy about—but not until very late in the book. Thinking back on it now, I can see some vague hints at the main conflict around the middle, but nothing like the end chapters. The last few chapters are what made A Corner of White worth the read—that moment when the conflict that I was searching for finally made an appearance. I have so many unanswered questions. And I’ll be honest, I want to know what’s in store for Madeleine, Elliot, and the rest of the characters. A Corner of White made an impression, so the book did its job. It left me wanting more of this story, the world, and the characters.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake

Mortal Gods (Goddess War, #2)Title: Mortal Gods
Author: Kendare Blake
Source/Format: Won; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Teen; October 14, 2014

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Ares, God of War, is leading the other dying gods into battle. Which is just fine with Athena. She's ready to wage a war of her own, and she's never liked him anyway. If Athena is lucky, the winning gods will have their immortality restored. If not, at least she'll have killed the bloody lot of them, and she and Hermes can die in peace. Cassandra Weaver is a weapon of fate. The girl who kills gods. But all she wants is for the god she loved and lost to return to life. If she can't have that, then the other gods will burn, starting with his murderer, Aphrodite. The alliance between Cassandra and Athena is fragile. Cassandra suspects Athena lacks the will to truly kill her own family. And Athena fears that Cassandra's hate will get them ALL killed. The war takes them across the globe, searching for lost gods, old enemies, and Achilles, the greatest warrior the world has ever seen. As the struggle escalates, Athena and Cassandra must find a way to work together. Because if they can't, fates far worse than death await...
I won a copy of Mortal Gods a while ago, and until recently it’s been sitting on my shelf unread. I’m not very familiar with Blake’s work, but I’ve heard no shortage of glowing praise about Anna Dressed in Blood. I also haven’t read books that involved Greek mythology in a long time. So, I was really looking forward to getting to Mortal Gods.

The first thing that struck me about the story was the premise, which is basically along the lines of: the gods are mysteriously dying out, and the main character, Cassandra, is caught up in the middle of it. There’s a lot of action, internal conflict amongst the gods, and all the while sides are being chosen. Sounds interesting, right? Well, Mortal Gods was pretty fantastic. I really did enjoy the book. It had a lot going for it, from the mythology aspect, to the utterly normal moments amongst the chaos. All in all, the combination had a cool effect.

The plot in itself was enough to carry the novel—it was interesting, and the early introduction of the conflict raised enough questions to keep me reading. I did enjoy Blake’s take on Greek Mythology. There were familiar names like Ares, Aphrodite, Athena, and Hermes—just to name a few. The roles they occupied were as their mythology dictates with some minor changes to accommodate the plot. Then there was Cassandra. She wasn’t a bad main character, but sometimes I felt like her decisions were getting clouded by her grudge against certain characters. Other than that, she fit seamlessly into a story with Athena and Co.

I’ve read books where things rapidly unfold, but there’s never much of a reaction to it. It’s like, okay, this thing went down. So, tell me how this impacts the characters. How do they feel about it? How are they going to deal with the consequences and emotional impact? That wasn’t a problem here. There was an emotional aspect to Mortal Gods that I particularly enjoyed. There were a lot of relationships, friendships, current love interests, and even ones who were previously lost. Blake dealt with the fallout of these things in a way that blended it with the present story, without having it take over the plot entirely—yet the characters were certainly influenced by it.

I never considered reading Anna Dressed in Blood before, but after reading Mortal Gods, I’m curious to see if all that glowing praise is true. Two thumbs up for this one.
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