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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Review: Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

30955863Title: Heroine Worship
Series: Heroine Complex #2
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW; July 4, 2017

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository


Synopsis from Goodreads...

Once upon a time, Aveda Jupiter (aka Annie Chang) was demon-infested San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine, a beacon of hope and strength and really awesome outfits. But all that changed the day she agreed to share the spotlight with her best friend and former assistant Evie Tanaka—who’s now a badass, fire-wielding superheroine in her own right. They were supposed to be a dynamic duo, but more and more, Aveda finds herself shoved into the sidekick role. Where, it must be said, she is not at all comfortable.

It doesn’t help that Aveda’s finally being forced to deal with fallout from her diva behavior—and the fact that she’s been a less than stellar friend to Evie. Or that Scott Cameron—the man Aveda’s loved for nearly a decade—is suddenly giving her the cold shoulder after what seemed to be some promising steps toward friendship. Or that the city has been demon-free for three months in the wake of Evie and Aveda’s apocalypse-preventing battle against the evil forces of the Otherworld, leaving Aveda without the one thing she craves most in life: a mission. All of this is causing Aveda’s burning sense of heroic purpose—the thing that’s guided her all these years—to falter.

In short, Aveda Jupiter is having an identity crisis.

When Evie gets engaged and drafts Aveda as her maid-of-honor, Aveda finally sees a chance to reclaim her sense of self and sets out on a single-minded mission to make sure Evie has the most epic wedding ever. But when a mysterious, unseen supernatural evil rises up and starts attacking brides-to-be, Aveda must summon both her superheroine and best friend mojo to take down the enemy and make sure Evie’s wedding goes off without a hitch—or see both her city and her most important friendship destroyed forever...
It hasn't been that long since I read Heroine Complex, so the memory of how much I loved the story is still fresh in my mind. Obviously, I was excited to read Heroine Worship. I’m happy to say that I loved this story as much as the first book in the series. It had everything I liked about Heroine Complex and more since it was told from Aveda’s perspective this time around. And I have to say that the Heroine Complex series just keeps getting better and better.

Heroine Worship was just a good story. I don’t have any other way to describe it. It’s also a great example of what can be done with superheroes in an urban setting (in this case, San Francisco). The supernatural elements are unique, the bad guys’ schemes/methods were out of the box, and the characters are awesome to the point where I couldn’t help but root for them to succeed. Kuhn knows how to write action as well as the daily aspects of the superheroes’ lives, and it’s the balance between the two that I really love about Heroine Worship.

One thing that continually works for these books is how Kuhn weaves the issue of relationships (platonic and romantic) in with the more supernatural and superhero aspects of the book. And if there was one character that encompassed those things, it was Aveda Jupiter. The first line of the book is “I love being a superhero.” And in Heroine Complex, Aveda was a larger than life superhero, someone who strived to portray a constant image of perfection. But she was a diva and not the greatest friend to Evie or anyone else. But there was so much more to her character than that. In Heroine Worship, there’s this whole other side to Aveda that I didn’t get to see last time. And somehow, I liked her even better now than before. I think that was because I got a better understanding of her as a character. One of the main storylines included Aveda was coming to terms with how Annie Chang and her Aveda Jupiter persona ultimately fit into her life going forward.

That’s pretty much all I have to say. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone looking to get into the series. All-in-all, Heroine Worship was a fun read and a fantastic installment to the series. The next book is probably going to be from the perspective of one of my favorite characters, Evie’s younger sister, Bea. And I’m looking forward to that...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Aggretsuko...

Before I get to the main part of the latest installment of thought corner, first I've got to get to some of the technical details about the subject of today's post...

Details...
Title: Aggretsuko
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Rating: TV-14
How I Watched: Netflix Subscription
Netflix's Aggretsuko Page
Trailer from Netflix's Youtube....





Has anyone else watched Netflix’s 2018 show, Aggretsuko? I have, and now I need to talk about it....

So, back when Netflix premiered the trailer for the show, I admit that I was a little skeptical about how good it was going to be. But, I was so very-very-VERY wrong. I watched it with my little sister, and we both loved the show! So, today, I’m here to talk about all the reasons why I absolutely adored Aggretsuko in an attempt to convince other people to watch it too.

I had to take a couple of days to sit and process my thoughts about Aggretsuko. It’s such a great show and all I want to do is gush about it to anyone who might ask me if it’s worth watching. It is. Yes, definitely go watch it now. But for those who haven’t watched it, I’m going to try to keep spoilers out of this post.

So, Aggretsuko is one of the best animated shows I’ve watched. The animation style is cute (as expected of something associated with Sanrio; I mean, they’re the same company behind Hello Kitty), the humor was spot-on, and the subjects the show covered were shocking in that they were realistic—mirroring some current discussions about workplace bullying, bosses abusing their power, and even romantic relationships. The combination of characters, story, and an incredibly strong script ended up making Aggretsuko pretty awesome.

Let me explain... 

One of the most defining elements of Aggretsuko was the main character. Retsuko had a job she hated, a slew of terrible bosses, and often expressed her rage. In fact, now that I think about it, the show was all Retsuko’s daily life, which covered how she navigated all those issue. I lived for Retsuko’s reactions. And I’m glad that the creators didn’t shy away from showing Retsuko’s rage toward the unfair expectations stacked on her desk each and every day. It was refreshing to see how bluntly overworked and tired she was with certain aspects of her daily life, because rather than pushing aside the pain, anger, and fatigue, Retsuko got to express it. And that. Was. Awesome. She also had that one hobby where she could really decompress. And that was also awesome.

The whole cast was wonderful, but one thing I have to make note of was the friendships, particularly those between the female characters. And I just have to say: the portrayal of the female friendships was amazing. They actually seemed like good friends and not frenemies looking to one-up each other. Instead, they were supportive to each other and had conversations where they listened acutely to issues that they respectively faced.

Time for a couple other highlights…
  • Fenneko, the Fennec fox character—you’d have to watch the show to know what I mean. 
  • The setting—besides the whole anthropomorphic animals’ thing, the setting was pretty typical for a city. Still, I liked it a lot. 
  • I have to mention Retsuko’s love of death-metal again. It was such an integral part of her character and often served as relief during stressful situations. 
All of the above culminated into one thing: I need a season two. So, even if you don’t watch for the animation, you should do it for Retsuko and if not for her and her hobby, then for Fenneko or Gori, or even Washimi and Haida.

Have you watched Aggretsuko? If so, then what did you like about it? If not, would you watch it?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

27209443Title: Heroine Complex
Series: Heroine Complex #1
Author: Sarah Kuhn
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; paperback
More Details: Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: DAW; July 5, 2016

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder...

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco's most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants. Unfortunately, she's not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea. But everything changes when Evie's forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it's up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda's increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right... or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion...
I’m being completely honest when I say that the cover is what initially drew me to Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. Then, once I started reading up about it, I knew that it was a book I eventually wanted to read. Well, I’ve read it, and I can say that I absolutely loved the story. I don't know why this hasn’t been made into a movie or TV show, because there’s a lot to love about this book.

I haven’t read anything with superheroes in a while, and I liked Kuhn’s approach. Her treatment of the story and characters took something like superheroines and demon villains and made it feel refreshingly new. There was a perfect balance between mystery, action, supernatural, and even a little romance. The story was just good. I also have to give Kuhn props for how she developed the platonic and romantic relationships. The characters talked to each other to work out issues even if the subject was a tough one, and it was glorious.

I liked that Kuhn decided to make the focus of the story the superheroines personal assistant, Evie Tanaka. Reading from Evie’s perspective showed a lot of the behind the scenes aspects of Aveda Jupiter’s crew for example the upkeep of the signature costume, support if an emotional crisis arose, and even something as simple as who’s going to buy the groceries. Evie was a wonderful character. She was good at her job, but I also liked the growth she went through once she reached her breaking point. There was also a day-to-day feel to parts of the story, and I liked those moments because it showed what life was like for Evie outside of working for Aveda.

There are more books to this series, and after the all the twists and that ending, I’m really looking forward to Heroine Worship....



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

30078567Title: The Collapsing Empire
Author: John Scalzi
Series: The Interdependency #1 
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Science Fiction 
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books; March 21, 2017

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository



Synopsis from Goodreads...

The first novel of a new space-opera sequence set in an all-new universe by the Hugo Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Redshirts and Old Man's War...

Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible -- until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars. Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war -- and a system of control for the rulers of the empire. The Flow is eternal -- but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals -- a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency -- are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.
Going into The Collapsing Empire, I expected to like it based on what I already knew about Scalzi’s ability to tell a compelling story with interesting characters and even more interesting in-book universes. Even with that in mind, I was still surprised by The Collapsing Empire. And I mean that in a good way. It was a relatively quick read and a good story with a number of interesting components. One such detail was the quirky names of the ships. For example: Tell Me Another One and Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby, among others. I'm not kidding, and more than once I found myself thinking that the names sounded like the punchline to a joke when spoken aloud.

There’s a definite difference between Old Man’s War and The Collapsing Empire. The former had more military elements, while the latter focuses heavily on politics, and as the title suggests a collapsing empire. Even so, there was a substantial amount of action and nefarious plotting throughout the book, as well as political maneuvering done by the main characters and those around them.

This book is told from a couple of different perspectives. Each one had something to offer to the plot, which I appreciated. Having the alternating perspectives in different places around the Interdependency contributed to how expansive the story felt. The distances between the characters were sometimes vast, and it drove home the fact that the story took place in an “interstellar empire”. I expected nothing less.

So, the Flow is a thing. It’s integral to the way the Interdependency functions, and is the sole source of travel between the different systems. Yet, there wasn’t much of an explanation for the origins of the Flow, only how it was being used by the Interdependency. However, the mysterious and formerly static nature of the Flow kind of worked, especially when put into context with the events that took place in The Collapsing Empire.

All in all, this was a very good beginning to a new series. I recommend it to fans of space-opera and those who are already familiar with or want to read a book by Scalzi.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Review: How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price

35209767Title: How To Break Up With Your Phone
Series: n/a
Author: Catherine Price
Source/Format: Blogging for Books; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Self-help
Publisher/Publication Date: Ten Speed Press; February 13, 2018

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository



Synopsis from Goodreads...

Packed with tested strategies and practical tips, this book is the essential, life-changing guide for everyone who owns a smartphone...

Is your phone the first thing you reach for in the morning and the last thing you touch before bed? Do you frequently pick it up "just to check," only to look up forty-five minutes later wondering where the time has gone? Do you say you want to spend less time on your phone--but have no idea how to do so without giving it up completely? If so, this book is your solution. Award-winning journalist Catherine Price presents a practical, hands-on plan to break up--and then make up--with your phone. The goal? A long-term relationship that actually feels good. You'll discover how phones and apps are designed to be addictive, and learn how the time we spend on them damages our abilities to focus, think deeply, and form new memories. You'll then make customized changes to your settings, apps, environment, and mindset that will ultimately enable you to take back control of your life...
I was mildly apprehensive about whether or not I would like and find some useful advice in How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price. I’ve read a book that covered a similar if not the same topic (Unfriending my Ex and Other Things I’ll Never Do by Kim Stolz), and I liked it. However, thinking back on it now, it was more about Stolz’s experience with taking a break from her phone and her thoughts about it, whereas Price’s writing reads more like an analytical study about the pros and (mostly) cons of heavy phone/tablet/computer/ social media use has on almost every corner of a person’s life, including time and even how our brains function. She also covers how to make changes and healthier choices, and that’s what I liked about How To Break Up With Your Phone.

This book has two parts: the wake-up and the breakup. In the wake-up, Price cites studies as evidence to support the point of the book. It’s meant to be a wake up call: the hard facts and the ugly truth. And this book is more than successful at not only stating those points but making the information stick. The more I read, the more I realized that some of the things being mentioned were habits I exhibited almost unconsciously. As I continued to read, the more I agreed with what was being said. Part two covers the breakup. The writing made the steps for the 30-day plan approachable. There was a focus on realizing, questioning, and changing habits accompanied by a lot of useful tips and simple exercises. Price’s writing is done in a positive, encouraging tone that makes you want to try some of the things being mentioned to find out if the changes will have any effects.

How to Break Up With Your Phone is a quick read that wasn’t just surprisingly good, but also eye opening in a lot of ways. I haven’t had the time to try the 30-day plan for myself. However, the book has given me ideas about smaller changes that I can implement now. How to Break Up With Your Phone is a book that I’m definitely going to keep on my shelf for future reference.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review. 






CATHERINE PRICE is an author and science journalist whose articles and essays have appeared in The Best American Science Writing, the New York Times, Popular Science, O, The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post Magazine, Slate, Parade, Salon, Men’s Journal, Self, Mother Jones, and Health magazine, among others. Her previous books include Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food and 101 Places Not to See Before You Die. A graduate of Yale and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, she’s also a recipient of a Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Reporting, a two-time Société de Chimie Industrielle fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, an ASME nominee, a 2013 resident at the Mesa Refuge, a fellow in both the Food and Medical Evidence Boot Camps at the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT, and winner of the Gobind Behari Lal prize for science writing. You can learn more about her and her work at catherine-price.com...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ARC Review: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

36686547Title: The Tea Master and the Detective
Author: Aliette de Bodard
Series: The Universe of Xuya
Source/Format: Subterranean Press via Netgalley; eARC
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Subterranean Press; March 31, 2018

Goodreads     Amazon     Subterranean Press



Synopsis from Goodreads...

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appearance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow's Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow's Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow's Child with her.

As they dig deep into the victim's past, The Shadow's Child realizes that the investigation points to Long Chau's own murky past--and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars...
I’m always on the lookout for a good gender-swapped version of Sherlock Holmes, and Aliette de Bodard has achieved that and more with The Tea Master and the Detective. Despite its short length—it’s a novella—De Bodard crafted a compelling book with a fantastic story set in the Xuya Universe with characters that were as mysterious as they were smart. It also had a unique take on space travel that felt fresh and innovative.

I adored this book. It was the perfect combination of science fiction and mystery, with a Sherlock Holmes and Watson-esque relationship between the two main characters, The Shadow’s Child (a mindship) and Long Chau. That’s one thing I love about De Bodard’s writing—she always manages to create such vivid characters. The Shadow’s Child was by far one of my favorite aspects about the book. It was a mindship discharged from the military after a traumatic injury. The character could have gone either way, good or bad. However, the backstory, personality, and how De Bodard portrayed the lingering fears linked to the aforementioned trauma, made for a well-rounded character. The same could be said about Long Chau; although, I much preferred when the two were interacting/investigating.

The Scattered Pearls Belt was an interesting place with excellent world building. There were a number of little details about the society that made it an interesting setting for a mystery to take place. I particularly enjoyed the author’s take on space travel. Specifically, I liked the idea of using something as ordinary and everyday as tea to nullify the effects of traveling into “deep spaces.” And the process behind making these teas—the trial and errors while brewing—were quite fascinating to read about.

So, The Tea Master and the Detective was pretty awesome. I loved everything about it, and I recommend it for readers who have read works by De Bodard before or are looking for a good place to start.

Disclaimer: This copy of the book was provided by Subterranean Press via Netgalley for this review.
Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris, where she has a day job as a System Engineer. She studied Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, but moonlights as a writer of speculative fiction. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy of Aztec noir fantasies, as well as numerous short stories, which garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and two British Science Fiction Association Awards. Her space opera books include The Tea Master and the Detective, a murder mystery set on a space station in a Vietnamese Galactic empire, inspired by the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Recent works include the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings (Roc/Gollancz, 2015 British Science Fiction Association Award, Locus Award finalist), and its standalone sequel The House of Binding Thorns (Ace/Gollancz). She lives in Paris with her family, in a flat with more computers than warm bodies, and a set of Lovecraftian tentacled plants intent on taking over the place...

(Photo credit: Lou Abercrombie)

Goodreads     Website     Twitter


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

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository



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

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

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

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     

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.

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

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository



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....

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

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

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.


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
Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

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.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Fire; March 7, 2017

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer...

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human. Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves...
Man, The Bone Witch was something else. Before diving into this book I read about it and came across some mixed reviews. I do agree that it was like Strange the Dreamer in that they’re both slower moving fantasy novels. Time is spent developing the characters, and establishing the world. But that’s reasonable since both books have a complex society and magic that stems from mythology—stories, traditions, beliefs, and such. That being said, I honestly enjoyed this story from start to finish.

The Bone Witch has a dual storyline told mainly from the perspective of Tea and that of another person. Both perspectives detailed Tea’s life from when she first discovered her abilities and everything that happened after that point in time. I was a total fan of the choice of narrative for The Bone Witch. The style of storytelling was fitting for the kind of story that Chupeco was trying to tell. This wasn’t the most action packed book, but the mysteries between the dual perspectives was more than interesting enough to keep the pages turning.

The world Chupeco created was steeped in tradition and dependent on magic. The society of the Asha was also interesting. There was a clear difference between the way things actually were and how the main character, Tea, initially thought them to be.

Oh yeah, then there was that end. It can’t just end that way. It can’t. But it did. I have to admit that this book has one heck of a clever ending with a cliffhanger that I never saw coming. I have too many questions.

The Bone Witch is one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2017. I know that Chupeco has written a couple other books unrelated to this series, and I might eventually check them out. Beyond that, I’m more than excited for the sequel to this book. I’m ready for it to be here already, and it’s only been a couple of weeks since I read The Bone Witch.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart
Title:The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury US; May 30, 2017

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Aventurine is the fiercest, bravest dragon there is. And she's ready to prove it to her family by leaving the safety of their mountain cave and capturing the most dangerous prey of all: a human. But when the human she finds tricks her into drinking enchanted hot chocolate, Aventurine is transformed into a puny human girl with tiny blunt teeth, no fire, and not one single claw. But she's still the fiercest creature in the mountains -- and now she's found her true passion: chocolate! All she has to do is get herself an apprenticeship (whatever that is) in a chocolate house (which sounds delicious), and she'll be conquering new territory in no time...won't she?
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is one book I’ve been waiting for since I first heard about it sometime last year—I can’t remember the exact date now, I just know that it was a long time ago. This isn’t the first book I’ve read by Stephanie Burgis, but it’s certainly one of my favorites. I sped through this book. I read it in almost one sitting and can say that The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart was such a cute story filled with magic, chocolate, and of course dragons.

I have to admit that I was looking forward to this book because of who Burgis choose to be the narrator of the story. I think it was a great decision because Aventurine was such an interesting character. She was a dragon who thought she knew everything there was to know, and set out to prove just that. However, it becomes quickly apparent that Aventurine still had a lot to learn about herself and the world outside her cavern home. The other dragons were a point of interest too. I loved all the scenes with Aventurine’s family, and it was interesting to see Burgis’ portrayal with what life was like for younger dragons—like, for example, what was expected of them, what they were supposed to learn, etc..

Chocolate—you can’t go wrong with something like that. I loved how chocolate was used in the story. It was my second-most favorite part of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, because it wasn’t just there. Instead, Burgis explored how chocolate—and other chocolaty desserts and drinks—were made, and I thought that was a pretty neat thing to include.

Yeah, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. And, now that I looked at the Goodreads page again, I noticed that there appears to be another book in the series. So, in light of that, I look forward to reading more of Stephanie Burgis’ books.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...