Showing posts with label purchased. Show all posts
Showing posts with label purchased. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

53152636. sx318 sy475 Title: Mexican Gothic
Series: n/a
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Source/Format: Purchased; Hardcover
More Details: Historical Fiction; Gothic Horror; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Del Rey; June 30, 2020

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER; An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets... 
After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find - her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
Mexican Gothic is one of my most anticipated book releases of 2020. After reading Gods of Jade and Shadow, my expectations for it were pretty high. Mexican Gothic is an unsettling story about a socialite who goes to save her cousin from what is at first thought to simply be a bad marriage. With the isolated and mist-shrouded setting, the horror steadily built up as the story unfolded. Moreno-Garcia’s writing was positively atmospheric, and there was a lot I liked about Mexican Gothic.

The first part of the book was spent laying the groundwork for the rest of the story. The tone of it shifted once Noemi traveled to High Place, which was a somewhat strange and brooding house on top of a hill. There were plenty of descriptions about it and its history, as well as the people who lived in it. Right away, I enjoyed Noemi’s perspective. Her character was refreshing, and her attitude was one of defiance throughout much of the story. She enjoyed spending her time on music, parties, and dates among other things—so she preferred fun and vibrant things. It was in stark contrast to the dreary silence and danger of High Place. Virgil Doyle, Catalina’s husband, seemed fine on paper. So did the house. However High Place was a house ruled by rules and secrets, and the Doyle family seemed beholden to its strict traditions. There were few characters to like from High Place, and they were among some of the most unsettling parts of Mexican Gothic.

Overall, I liked the story. It was a little slow in the beginning, but I think it was necessary to really set up the atmosphere that would come into play later on. I did like the more mysterious parts of the story. Everything seemed to have some kind of hidden meaning, so nothing was quite as it seemed and I mean that quite literally. The story is best described as a puzzle. All the pieces were there, it just took time to put it all together. Along with what I liked about the book, I do have to talk about some of the other elements in the story. Mexican Gothic is very dark. The horror outweighed any romantic notions that Noemi and Catalina might have had, and that’s pretty much conveyed on page. What romance there was seemed second to the rest of the story; although, I did like the way it was gradually developed. There was also no shortage of family drama and distorted relationships here, and the threat of harm to Noemi was near constant. It also featured a lot of gothic horror conventions in the same vein as Crimson Peak, with body horror imagery that had a similar gross-out factor to some parts of Dracula and Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion.

Mexican Gothic was the kind of story with a gradual build toward the end. What made it scary was the kind of close-quarters, claustrophobic, feeling it evoked. Needless to say, I will definitely read more work by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review: Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

43319573Title: Ghost Squad
Series: n/a
Author: Claribel A. Ortega
Source/Format: Purchased; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy; Supernatural
Publisher/Publication Date: Scholastic Press; April 7, 2020

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository     Target

Synopsis from Goodreads...
Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.... For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. 
Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd's witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely's firefly spirits before it's too late. With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.
I don’t know what it is with this trend of middle grade ghost stories, but I’ll take it. Ghost Squad, is just the latest book I’ve read that falls in line with this pattern, and I had a lot of fun reading this story.

Ghost Squad had a lot going for it. I like ghost stories, especially ones that are set during October, which is one of my favorite times of the year. From the start, I enjoyed Ortega’s take on ghosts and magic. There were a number of spooky and heartwarming moments in the story. The latter was particularly evident at the beginning with instances between the main character, Lucely Luna, her father, and the ghost (fireflies) of past relatives. The ghosts were fantastic. Their portrayal is one of the best I’ve read in middle grade fiction. I liked how there was a mixture of them with some of them being spooky/creepy while others were seemingly made of light. So Ortega did an excellent job of developing the magical aspects of the story.

I also enjoyed how the message and themes were explored in the book. Part of that was through Lucely’s connection to her family and friends. The portrayal of the platonic and familial bonds in Ghost Squad was not only excellent but they were also one of the highlights of the story. The same could be said about the rest of the colorful cast of characters. I really loved the friendship between Lucely and Syd. And among my top-favorite characters was Babette, Syd’s grandmother. She was such a fantastic character. She was stylish, and her personality was great. She and her cats—all named after characters from the Goonies—were entertaining. I also loved Lucely’s ghost relatives. They were wonderful characters.

As for the story, I liked it. There were a number of pop culture references, such as mention of characters from the Goonies.

I really enjoyed the book, and I will be looking forward to what Ortega writes next. As for recommendations, Ghost Squad is perfect for fans of The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown as well as Small Spaces and Dead Voices by Katherine Arden. But really, if you’re looking for a ghost story, then I’d recommend giving this one a try anyway.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review: Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace

25819511Title: Envy of Angels
Series: Sin du Jour #1
Author: Matt Wallace
Source/Format: Purchased; ebook
More Details: Urban Fantasy 
Publisher/Publication Date:; October 20, 2015

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

In New York, eating out can be hell. Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings? Welcome to Sin du Jour - where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish...
I didn’t know what to expect with the first book in the Sin du Jour series by Matt Wallace. Prior to diving into it, I’d heard a lot of good things about the series and my expectations were moderate. And I’m happy to report that I enjoyed this story. After all, it combined two of my favorite things: urban fantasy and cooking. With a combination like that, what could possibly go wrong? Well, for the characters, a lot actually. 

I’ve read urban fantasy that also had cooking/catering combined with paranormal elements. And while those stories were good in their own way, I also enjoyed Envy of Angels for what it had to offer. There was a certain, often elevated, degree of ridiculousness to some of the situations the characters ended up in. It was very unexpected, but at the end of the day it worked. The cooking was probably my favorite part of Envy of Angels. I always love the idea behind supernatural catering/restaurants, and this is one of the more unique interpretations of it that I’ve recently read. There was a quirky and strange approach to the types of ingredients described, while the cooking techniques were, well, kind of normal. It was what one would expect from any kind of restaurant kitchen except for the ingredients. The characters are also worth mentioning, because they were interesting. They came from different backgrounds and held different jobs and as a result their skills and internal monologue varied greatly. I particularly enjoyed the side plot that involved Sin du Jour’s “receiving folks” or procurement team. As it so happens, there's a short story about them over on It's called Small Wars, and you can find it here: Small Wars by Matt Wallace;

All in all, Envy of Angels was surprising in the best kind of way. It was everything I was hoping it would be and more. Suffice it to say, I will definitely read more books by Matt Wallace.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight (Starflight, #1)Title: Starflight
Author: Melissa Landers
Source/Format: Purchased; eBook
More Details: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Disney Hyperion; February 2, 2016

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith. When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
Melissa Landers is one of those authors who has been on my radar for a while. So, back when Starflight was on sale I went ahead and bought a copy with every intention to read it. Well, I have finally accomplished that, and let me tell you, this story surprised me in a good way. I’m going to be honest. The first couple of chapters of Starflight were just okay. I didn’t have the easiest time getting into the book, but once everything was set up and the characters were introduced, the story got really interesting.

Before starting Starflight, I never really read the full synopsis. What I knew about it came from the praise I saw around the time of the books initial release. The fact that it was set in space was enough to get my attention, because I haven’t read enough young adult science fiction outside of the Illuminae Files series. So, I was looking forward to Starflight.

The space travel aspect was a lot of fun to read about. Part of Starflight’s charm is the characters, especially the mc, Solara Brooks. Her backstory was a point of interest, and her POV was a definite highlight. I liked the fact that she was willing to take risks to protect herself. She made mistakes, but was given the capacity to own up to them. Then there was Doran Spaulding. Doran started off as a stereotypical rich guy who also happened to be a conceited jerk. He was intentionally mean and the friction between him and Solara wasn’t easily solved, but that’s what made the story interesting. The crew of the Banshee was amazing. They were kind of eccentric and kept their secrets, but it was hard not to like them and the dynamics aboard the Banshee.

Starflight was really good, and I look forward to reading more works by Melissa Landers.

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

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

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.

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

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

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 5, 2016

Review: Burning Emerald by Jamie Reed

Burning Emerald (The Cambion Chronicles, #2)Title: Burning Emerald
Author: Jamie Reed
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Young Adult; Paranormal
Publisher/Publication Date: Dafina; May 29, 2012

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Dating the most popular guy in school is every girl's fantasy. But to Samara Marshall, he's a dangerous force come to rekindle their tangled past. Only it's not her past. Samara faces a challenging senior year. Controlling her inner demon is a struggle, even with help from her Cambion boyfriend, Caleb. But her life takes a turn for the worse when the hottest jock in school begins pursuing her--especially since Malik's anything but what he seems. They share a connection from a forgotten past--a secret that could destroy her and Caleb. As the attraction becomes harder to resist, Samara is now at the mercy of the demon within her. To break free, Sam must fight a battle where she is the enemy and the prize...and victory will come at a deadly price...
The Cambion Chronicles is one of my all-time favorite paranormal series, yet, oddly enough, I never got around to getting the second book. However, all that has changed. I have finally read the second book, Burning Emerald, and I’ve been thoroughly reminded why I love this series so much.

The plot picks up after the end of Living Violet, and Samara must deal with the drastic changes in her life. Really, Burning Emerald had a lot going for it, with character and story development that I initially missed. This is just one of those series that kind of requires a full read, or else pieces will be missing. So even though I loved the third book, reading Burning Emerald added a lot of context and clarity to what ultimately ended up happening. So, if you ever read this series, don’t do like I did. Don’t skip the second book; go straight through from start to finish.

Also, the writing in this series is just one of my favorite styles. Reed knows what she’s doing, and expertly applied her skills where they were necessary. Samara’s perspective was unique, to say the least.

Reed knows how to write and develop characters. I think that’s one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this series. Samara Marshall is one of my favorite characters for a number of reasons—her resilience, personality, and individuality. Plus, her relationship with her boyfriend, Caleb, is just awesome. I loved their individual moments, but I also enjoyed the scenes they shared together. Samara’s friends and parents were my favorites of the secondary characters. I especially loved how involved Samara’s parents were in her life.

Burning Emerald answered a lot of questions for me, and I am glad that I finally got a copy. After all, finishing The Cambion Chronicles was long overdue on my end.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Visual Reference Guides Architecture by Jonathan Glancey

Architecture (Visual Reference Guides Series)Title: Architecture
Author: Jonathan Glancey
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Nonfiction; Reference; Architecture 
Publisher/Publication Date: Metro Books; March 15, 2010


Synopsis from Goodreads...

Visual Reference Guides: Architecture, the definitive visual guide, allows you to discover 5,000 years of architectural design, style, and construction, from airports to ziggurats. You'll be able to explore the world's great buildings through amazing illustrations that take you right to the heart of the world's landmark buildings. Look beyond the façades and examine the materials and technology that shape buildings, and identify the key elements and decorative features of each architectural style. It's the perfect addition to any architecture enthusiast's library, whether expert or novice...
When I sat down to give Visual Reference Guides: Architecture a read, I really had no expectations except one: a visual trip around the world and through the ages of architecture. That’s what this book was about, architecture, and how it changed or stayed the same over time, or even fluctuated backwards to a more classical style and forwards to something new.

What this book does is give a small profile on different examples of architecture as well as architects who worked on specific buildings—if the information was available. It’s also divided into clear sections that focused on a specific architectural style that sometimes depended on region/culture/country, and available building materials—everything from Classical Revival to Baroque & Rococo, and even Gothic Revival and Modernism. Some styles had similarities, but others were noticeably different. My favorite types of architecture were found in the sections that discussed Baroque, Rococo, Greecian, Indian, and Southeast Asian styles.

Since this was a visual reference guide, photos made up a lot of the book—there was almost one for every profile, give or take a few. So, there were some blank spots in the information provided, but it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment. The photos also served as visual examples of the types of architecture being described. Another aspect I liked about this book, was that there were pages dedicated to summaries of information that gave a little history about each style, which was cool since the explanations were handy.

I like architecture in its many forms. Since, after all, it is a part of everyday life and the source of modern convenience and comfort—really handy when it’s over a hundred degrees outside, just saying. So, I really enjoyed this book and the way it highlighted my favorite architectural features as well as those that were new to me. My money was well spent on this one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review: The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee

The Traitor in the Tunnel (The Agency, #3)Title: The Traitor in the Tunnel
Author: Y.S. Lee
Source/Format: Purchased; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Historical; Mystery
Publisher/Publication Date: Candlewick Press; February 28, 2012

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Queen Victoria has a problem: there's a thief at work in Buckingham Palace. The Agency - the secret all-female detective unit - assigns quick-witted Mary Quinn to the case. Posing as a palace maid and fending off the attentions of the Prince of Wales are challenging enough, but when the prince witnesses a murder, Mary's case becomes anything but petty. Engineer and former flame James Easton has an assignment in the sewers, where someone is making illicit use of the tunnels. Mary will need James's help if she's going catch a thief, solve a murder - and avert disaster...
Whenever I pick up a Mary Quinn mystery I know I’m always in for a fun adventure set against the backdrop of historical London. And The Traitor in the Tunnel was no different. All my favorite characters were back and better than ever, and Mary has once again been dispatched by the Agency. Only, this time her case had landed her in the position of a maid in Buckingham Palace rather than at a dangerous construction site like the one from The Body at the Tower.

Y.S. Lee knows how to write convincing characters and has continued to develop them across the series so far. The Traitor in the Tunnel was as much about the mystery as it was an emotional journey for Mary, and Lee managed to skillfully intertwine these elements into a single story. The Agency remains one of my favorite aspects. I really like how Lee structured the organization as an all-female agency, which used the stereotypes of women during that time period as an advantage for their operatives.

Across three books, I’ve seen Mary go from giving up on life altogether—which was a pretty grim and gloomy beginning—to finding a place and occupation that suited her, and wanting to live life to the fullest. In The Traitor in the Tunnel, she had to face some hard truths and come to understand herself and her emotions. And really, it was kind of awesome. James was also back in the picture, albeit working on projects of his own. But really, they were best together. I really like his interactions with Mary. They make such a great team! They have good chemistry and the best banter.

The plot was also good and featured solid straight-forward storytelling. The mystery was intriguing and started out with a fairly mild beginning but quickly transitioned into one with higher stakes. As such, there were moments of tension and even some action thrown in. The writing was consistently good. Lee’s style is descriptive, yet gets to the point without beating around the bush with unnecessary information.

So, The Traitor in the Tunnel was an engaging and super fun novel to read. It was great to get caught up with the old characters and even those  new to the scene.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton

The Torn Wing (The Faerie Ring, #2)Title: The Torn Wing
Author: Kiki Hamilton
Source/Format: Purchased; ebook
More Details: Fantasy; Young Adult 
Publisher/Publication Date: Gaslamp Books; August 9, 2012

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

London 1872 - 

A bloody escape, a deadly threat, a shocking revelation...

As an orphan who stole the Queen's ring - only to find the ring was a reservoir that held a truce between the world of Faerie and the British Court - Tiki’s greatest fear suddenly becomes all too real: the fey have returned to London seeking revenge. As war escalates in the Otherworld, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold, is attacked. In order to protect her family and those she loves, Tiki needs to know the meaning of an fáinne sí, the birthmark that winds around her wrist. But will she be brave enough to face the truth?
So, I had no idea what to expect with The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton. I was unfamiliar with the author, but I knew that I had the book on my ereader for a long time. I’m having a lot of fun with backlist books lately, and I hoped to continue that trend when I decided to give The Torn Wing a try. I knew it was the second book in the series. I knew I didn’t have a copy of The Faerie Ring, but once I started reading I knew I was going to finish it anyway.

Have you ever come across those books where you read the first couple of pages, and you’re automatically like “I’m going to like this”? Well, that’s how it was for me. The Torn Wing started off really good, and I was immediately curious about the circumstances of the characters—and what the rest of the book had in store for them. The writing was excellent and had a nice flow to it with enough descriptions to flesh-out the setting. And because of that, it was easy to get into the story.

From the details spread throughout the book, it was easy to pick up on what happened in The Faerie Ring. And while I didn’t know the full story, there was enough information in conversations, interactions, and the character’s internal thoughts for me to get a good grasp on what happened. I’ve read enough books to recognize common tropes used in novels that involve faeries. However, the plot of The Torn Wing was one of its shining features, and I found it to be really interesting. I enjoyed Hamilton’s take on faeries, and the central conflict that directly stemmed from their part of the story.

The characters were also great. I think that Hamilton did a good job showing the bonds between Tiki and her friends—and her growing feelings for a certain character. It seemed very grounded and real—certainly plausible given the circumstances they collectively came from. Some of my favorite moments were definitely their interactions with one another.

So, the Torn Wing is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I would definitely consider picking up another one of Hamilton’s novels. (Actual rating 4.5 out of 5)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: Love Charms and Other Catastrophes by Kimberly Karalius

Love Charms and Other Catastrophes (Grimbaud, #2)Title: Love Charms and Other Catastrophes
Author: Kimberly Karalius
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Young Adult
Publisher/Publication Date: Swoon Reads; May 17, 2016

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sometimes love comes gift-wrapped…literally...

Aspiring love-charm maker Hijiri Kitamura was excited to come back to Grimbaud for her sophomore year—until she learned about the upcoming charm-making competition. She, along with her friends and fellow rebels, had worked too hard to free the town from Zita’s tyrannical love fortunes to allow some other charm maker to move in and take over. The only solution is for Hijiri to win the contest herself.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, especially when Love itself has decided to meddle in Hijiri’s life. Concerned that its favorite charm maker has given up on finding a love of her own, Love delivers a very special gift—the perfect boyfriend, specially crafted just for her...
Last year, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters was one of my favorite books. So, it’s easy to see why I was so excited for the sequel, Love Charms and Other Catastrophes. I was ready to go back to Grimbaud and see where my favorite characters ended up. Plus, I also wanted to see what happened to the town now that it was free from Zita’s tyrannical monopoly on love.

So, over 4th of July weekend, I stopped by Barnes & Noble and finally picked up a copy. Needless to say, Love Charms and Other Catastrophes was a spectacular follow-up. It was just as charming and entertaining as the first in the series. However, rather than a rebellion against Zita, there’s a new danger present in Grimbaud: love charm makers and shady business practices. Plus, Love was back and meddling again, only this time the focus was on Hijiri’s love life.

I was really glad that Karalius decided to tell Hijiri’s story since her perspective was so interesting. I was rooting for Hijiri to get a happy ending since she played such a fundamental role in both books. It was also great to see Fallon, Sebastian, and the rest of the club members again. There was a lot of character development going on since the characters were getting older, and for some, their time in high school was coming to an end. So, despite the magic of the story, there were moments when ordinary troubles were addressed.

Love Fortunes and Other Disasters was a strong opening for the series. The groundwork was all there—characters, setting, and convincing conflict and themes that could and were carried over to the sequel. Love Charms and Other Catastrophes had good plot and pacing. From page one I was hooked. Karalius’ writing was fantastic, and captured the charming atmosphere of the setting. The extra details only added to the pre-established world, and fleshed-out secondary characters both new and old.

So, while it might have taken me a while to get my copy, Love Charms and Other Catastrophes was well-worth the wait. It was a delightful novel with a satisfying ending, and deserved its place as the sequel to one of my all-time favorite books. Now, I’m just curious to see what Karalius writes next.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

Wintersmith (Discworld, #35)Title: Wintersmith
Author: Terry Pratchett
Source/Format: Purchased; Paperback
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: HarperCollins; October 2, 2007 

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

The third in a series of Discworld novels starring the young witch Tiffany Aching...

When the Spirit of Winter takes a fancy to Tiffany Aching, he wants her to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. It will take all the young witch's skill and cunning, as well as help from the legendary Granny Weatherwax and the irrepressible Wee Free Men, to survive until Spring. Because if Tiffany doesn't make it to Spring—

—Spring won't come...
Wintersmith is the first and only book I have by Terry Pratchett. I also remember reading the first chapter a long time ago then setting the book aside for some reason or another. And honestly, I don’t know why I did that, because Wintersmith was one heck of a fun book. Sure, it began on a more somber note as winter tightened its grasp on an already weather-beaten town. But, from that point on, the story delved into how that opening chapter was relevant to the plot.

Wintersmith is about Tiffany Aching who made an unfortunate mistake one night, by interrupting a story that wasn’t her own—a story that might as well have been as old as time itself. So therein lays the problem. Tiffany’s accidental mistake had unintended and far-reaching consequences that she couldn’t have foreseen.

The POVs in this book alternated between a multitude of characters, but this worked to benefit the story. The different perspectives sort of fleshed-out the world a little more—by showing what was happening in other parts of the setting, from the perspective of other characters. There were moments of genuine humor that had me laughing out loud, and I also liked how Pratchett approached magic. It seemed almost natural for the world of Wintersmith.

Tiffany was an interesting character. Currently away from home, she was spending time with witches while learning magic. I liked how dedicated she was to learning what she could and couldn’t do with her abilities. The Wee Free Men were interesting, and their antics were often entertaining as they strived to help Tiffany. Who else? Oh, yes, the other witches—Miss Treason, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and a few others. There was plenty going on with them. Miss Treason was certainly one of my favorite characters from Wintersmith, besides Tiffany that is.

So, while I'm unfamiliar with the majority of the series, I had no trouble getting into Wintersmith. It was an easy and highly entertaining read.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: Need by Carrie Jones

Need (Need, #1)Title: Need
Author: Carrie Jones
Source/Format: Purchased, Paperback
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher/Publication Date: Bloomsbury, January 1, 2008

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right - not human - in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara...
So, last week I read Need by Carrie Jones, and I have to say that It was pretty good; yet, this book had its ups and down. Sure, there were cheesy/cute moments, but in terms of general reading experience and enjoyment, Need was a fun book and an interesting opening to the series.

Need was definitely a paranormal novel. A half-frozen, decidedly sleepy town in the middle of nowhere? Check. Mysterious things happening upon arrival? Check. Paranormal elements? Check. All the semi-necessary ingredients for a paranormal pie heaped with an extra added dose of trouble. I actually liked the way Jones chose to gradually introduce the supernatural aspects into the story. As the story progressed, it became apparent that trouble had been brewing for a while. So, it was nice to see how well those details were developed, and later integrated into Zara’s story.

Zara is the main character, and she was sent to live with her grandmother to help her cope with a recent death in her family. That part of Need was pretty good. The writing was good and made it easy to get into the story, but it also captured Zara’s emotions in a way that made them seem realistic—when it concerned her family.

One of the lower points for me was some of  Zara’s blatantly bad decisions. Despite repeated warnings, she insisted on walking right into trouble against better judgment. The romantic aspect wasn’t necessarily my favorite, but I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I was more interested in the mystery and its solution. It wasn’t all bad of course, I liked the majority of the secondary characters—especially Zara’s new friends and her grandmother, Betty. The paranormal aspects, writing, and the overall plot were also good.

So, Need was interesting. Would I continue on with this series? The copy of Need that I have has a small sneak peek of the second book in the very back. And, just from the sneak peek alone, things seemed to be getting very interesting. So, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of picking up the next book. (Actual Rating 3.5)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past by Ray Raphael

Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic PastTitle: Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past
Author: Ray Raphael
Source/Format: Purchased, Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction, History
Publisher/Publication Date: MJF Books, August 11, 2007

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads...

Much of what you thought you knew about American history is wrong...

Our best-loved tales actually sell America short, Raphael says. This nation was founded not just by the handful of "founding fathers" we have come to admire, but also by the revolutionary activities of innumerable and nameless patriots who are not mentioned in textbooks. Why should only a select few get the credit? The collaborative spirit and effort of the American people is an important concept for children (and adults) to learn...
“The stories work best because they clarify and vindicate who we are—but they also conceal who we don’t want to be.” (p.244).

What if the Revolutionary War could not be defined by simple paragraphs that summarized the events that transpired? What could be the reason to twist fact and mix it with speculation—to make for a better story? Sometimes the cause was poor record keeping at the time, or simply a romanticization of facts to make historical events into a favorable story—good vs evil. All those things and more were explored in Founding Myths by Ray Raphael.

Founding Myths can be summed up by one simple phrase: food for thought. This book gave me a lot to think about. The founding myths, as explored in this book, painted a grim but realistic picture of history, in contrast to the almost rosy-hued lens that gave misconceptions popularity among fact. This selective isolation of stories overshadowed real accomplishments, struggles, and suffering—and gave a narrow view to a broad history. One thing that I noticed while reading the book is that there were a few common themes: effort, collaboration, and strategic planning/preparation. Founding Myths offered an organized look at the events that gradually led to the Revolutionary War. The book also made mention of the ordinary people who had taken part in such monumental events in history instead of focusing on one limited group—as well as the state of politics/alliances abroad during the same time period.

The best books, whether they're nonfiction or fiction, leave a lasting impression. That was my reaction to Founding Myths, and I’m glad I decided to give it a chance. (Actual rating 4.5)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...