Friday, September 30, 2016

Review - Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)
Series: Kate Daniels #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Source: Library (Then Purchased)
Published - April 2007
Paperback - 260pgs
Add it // Buy it 

Rating: 4/5

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic…

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

Well!  It turns out I was WOEFULLY unprepared for how much I was going to like this book, and I am currently scrambling to get my hands on book two. This series sets an interesting scene in a futuristic society where magic and technology collide and wreck havoc on one another.  It literally feels like magic and technology are fighting each other for dominance in this world and I completely loved it. The story hits the ground running and I had to do a bit of catch up, but overall I really enjoyed it.

Kate is not only kickass and tough as nails, but she has a great inner monologue. I listened to this on audiobook so the inner workings of her mind were easy to distinguish from her dialogue. I liked how this dynamic also showed Kate's fear and her ability to overcome them. She isn't fearless, but she is brave and refuses to let her fears get in the way of her work. This story also blends a variety of different mythologies and belief systems to provide even more fearsome creatures that could attack Kate and her friends.

There were so many things that I liked, but I also ran across a few things that bothered me. While the writing style is quite info-dumpy, especially about the world, there is still a lot about the world that feels hidden. We get these weird info dumps about the story, specific characters and specific devices, but the world itself is still quite foreign to me. For example, at the end of book one I am still confused about how magic came to be in this world and how the transition from magic-free society to magic-infused society happened. This feels like a major plot point to skip, but much of the past especially Kate's seems to be intentionally hidden so I'm sure we will see more of this later. She feels completely closed off from the audience at times. There is obviously a lot more to Kate and I cannot wait to see her unleash it.

I also expect the sexual tension between two characters to explode later on in this series and I'm already completely on board with that ship.

A lot of this book is groundwork for the series, which though slows this book down, is needed and actually made me quite anxious to continue on with this series. I will be picking up the physical books to continue though. The narrator's accents were quite annoying to me and I had a hard time distinguishing the characters while I was listening to her.

Last Week's Review: Wonder Women by Sam Maggs 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Spooky Reads TBR (2016)

This month is October which is one of my favorite months of the year. Not only is it my birthday month, but Halloween is also coming! This year I will be reviving my event from last year. I dubbed it All Hallows Week last year and so it shall be. Join me on October 24th for the kick off. These are some of the books I'll be reading to feature during that week!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review - Wonder Women by Sam Maggs

 Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History
Series: Standalone
Genre: Non-fiction
Age Group: MG+ (Adults too!)
Source: ARC from Quirk Books
Expected Publication: October 4th! 
ARC - 225 pgs
Rating - 5/5

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inventor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China?

Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors—each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stickto-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.

I received an ARC copy of this book from Quirk Books in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

What we have here is a short, smart, well-researched introduction to the ladies who have started to break down barriers for women in the STEM fields! Sam Maggs introduced me to women in many different STEM fields throughout history including inventors, scientists, doctors and many more. Maggs selected a group of women diverse in nationality, race, class, and sexuality. Their accomplishments are highlighted and stories told in a simple but effective fashion.The format and illustrations are lovely and easy to follow. At the end of each chapter a modern woman working in STEM is featured in an interview which I enjoyed immensely. Overall this book must have needed an immense amount of research and Maggs did an excellent job.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Books On My Fall TBR List (Top Ten Tuesday)

This week we are looking ahead to our fall TBR. I already feel like I've been living in a fall fantasy world for a few weeks now. I've been adding pumpkin to my diet and switched from iced coffee over to regular hot coffee again. So I am ready for fall and sweater weather right now. I have a few books I'm already planning to read for my revival of #AllHollowsWeek that I did last year. This is the only time of year that I read "seasonally." Check out the ten books I'm looking to read this fall.

Prudence (The Custard Protocol, #1) Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter, #2) The Curse of the Wendigo (The Monstrumologist, #2)

Code (Virals, #3) Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels, #7) This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1)

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) Conjured Silver in the Blood

The Mirk and Midnight Hour

Last Week's Top Ten Tuesday -->

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter

Hamilton: The Revolution

Series: Standalone
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Group: Adults
Source: Purchased
Published - April 2016
Hardcover - 288pgs

Rating -5/5

Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country's origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages--"since before this was even a show," according to Miranda--traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don't throw away their shot.

This was a fascinating look at the way Hamilton came to the stage and the people who helped make this musical the phenomenon it is. It is beautiful physically. The book was light and well made. I loved the deckled edges and look of the book as much as I loved what was inside of it.

It is filled to the brim with amazing facts about Hamilton as well as stories that will make you laugh an ugly cry. I was surprised how emotional this book was and I cried several times. Learning about the people behind this show can be heart wrenching. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius, which I appreciate even more after reading this book, but he worked with other incredible people to make this possible. The stories are told so beautifully. When I thought I couldn't love this show any more, I picked this book up and it increased my love ten-fold.

There are also the lyrics. Anyone who has listened to Hamilton knows, there are some lyrics you need to read. What exactly is that phrase in the middle of Guns and Ships? What are Hamilton's lines behind Samuel during Farmer Refuted?   You can look it all up and have it on hand with this book. I loved it.

The lyrics also include footnotes from Lin that explain some of his creative process. Now that I've read this book I see what a love letter Hamilton is to hip-hop, musicals of all genres and New York City. The longer I think about it the more impressed I am.  I haven't even mentioned the photographs yet! Being unable to see the musical in person, I loved seeing more of the set and the production than I have in the past. The photos are beautiful too.

It is an amazing look into the story and the legend that will become Hamilton. Obviously, I loved it. I will stop gushing about it and conclude by urging you to listen to the soundtrack if you haven't already. Then pick up this book!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Courtship Tag

Phase 1 - Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover?
Phase 2 - First Impressions: A book that you got because of the summary?
Phase 3 - Sweet Talk: A book with great writing?
Phase 4 - First Date: A first book of a series which made you want to pick up the rest of the series?
Phase 5 - Late Night Phone Calls: A book that kept you up all night?
Phase 6 - Always on my mind: A book you could not stop thinking about?
Phase 7 - Getting Physical: A book which you love the way it feels?
Phase 8 - Meeting the parents: A book which you would recomend to your family and friends?
Phase 9 - Thinking about the future: A book or series you know you will re read many times in the future?
Phase 10 - Share the love: Who do you tag?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

T5W - Characters I NEVER want to trade places with

This week for Top Five Wednesday the topic is not quite what I was expecting. Instead of the run-of-the-mill subject of which characters would you like to trade places with, we examine the characters the characters we would NEVER switch lives. The latter turned out to be a little easier than the former. Terrible things happen to characters in fiction and I know exactly who I would avoid living as.

1) Kate Daniels - This girl gets hurt a lot and she is on the run a lot. No matter how her sexy shapeshifter boyfriend is (and he is quite sexy) I never want to be in her shoes. Plus the world she lives in is super dangerous and I never want to be on Kate's bad side. I will be her friend because otherwise I will end up dead.

 Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1) Magic Burns (Kate Daniels, #2) Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, #3)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

10 Audiobooks on My TBR I Should Listen to

For about a year I had an Audible subscription and I loved having audiobooks so readily available. However, after realizing I wasn't keeping up with the number of books I was getting, I cancelled the subscription. I still have a stock pile of audiobooks to get through though and I also have some I bought as disc sets! These are the ten I am most anxious to get to.

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and read by Rosamund Pike - My friends and I started a Jane Austen book club this year, which we are already planning on evolving into just a book club, and our next pick should be P&P. I'm so excited for this audiobook. Pike's voice is very pleasing and, since she played Jane in the 2005 movie, I am ready to listen to her read me this story.

2) Vicious by V.E. Schwab and read by Noah Michael Levine - I've heard so many good things about this book and want to read it very much. Instead of commiting to it though, I've added it to my ever growing list of Victoria Schwab books I cannot wait to read!

3) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz and read by Lin-Manuel Miranda - So many people have raved about this book and I've wanted to read it for ages. I mostly want to listen to it because Miranda reads it. Who can get enough of Hamilton's voice? (Other than Burr?)

4) Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor and read by Zara Ramm - After finishing The Parasol Protectorate Series, I've been looking for an amusing series to start. This was a recommendation from Elizabeth at Books and Pieces and I'm excited to try it.

5) Binge by and narrated by Tyler Oakley - I have been watching Tyler on Youtube for a few years. I don't know much about his life before Youtube and his memoir sounds interesting.

6) A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn and read by Angele Masters - More historical fiction centered in Victorian London and a lady who solves mysteries. Of course, if you know me at all your know I am super excited about all of those words.

7) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker and read by George Guidall - This was the first audiobook I purchased for myself through Audible. I'm interested in checking this one out but it is quite long so it might take me a while to play this one.

8) The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury and read by Amy Shiels - This one just sounds so cool and I love the covers even though I only have the audiobooks.

9) As You Wish by The Cast of The Princess Bride - This one sounds so cool! Many of the cast members from the movie read sections of the book that recounts their experiences on set. I cannot wait to check it out.

10) Armada by Ernest Cline and read by Wil Wheaton - I really really need to read a book by Ernest Cline. I've put it off for so long!

My Last TTT ---> My Top Ten Paranormal Books

Monday, September 19, 2016

Library Haul (6)

It has been a few months since I've gone to the library. This time I took out mostly graphic novels and I'm excited to try them out. Since I've been so obsessed with Kate Daniels books, I don't know how many I'll actually pick up. Sadly this all coincided so I probably won't read too many of these, but I'm excited to have them!

Books Mentioned:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Review: Lucifer Vol. 1: Cold Heaven (Issues 1-6) by Holly Black

Lucifer, Vol. 1
Series: Lucifer 2015 
Genre: Supernatural Comics
Age Group: Adult
Published: July 2016
Source: Won via Goodreads
Paperback - 144
Add it // Buy it 

Rating: 3/5

As this new series begins, God is dead—and Gabriel has accused Lucifer of His murder. Lucifer had motive and opportunity, but claims he can prove his innocence. If Gabriel finds the killer and takes the culprit into custody, Lucifer's sins will be forgotten, and he'll be welcomed back to the Silver City. So, despite the fact that Lucifer just opened a new nightclub on Earth and is hiding a mysterious wound, the two brothers set off to solve their Father's murder. Their investigation will span Heaven, Hell, Earth, and beyond in this antagonistic buddy-cop noir with an angelic flare.

When I won this volume from Goodreads, I was intrigued. Lucifer and Gabriel are pulled into investigating the death of God. Sounds interesting right? I got some of what I was expecting with an angel and devil working side by side to solve this mystery.

Unfortunately, several factors lessened my enjoyment of this series thus far. The first is I simply didn't know enough going in. This graphic novel series apparently is in the middle of something much larger. There was at least one previous Lucifer series and the story originates from Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Cue confusion. While I could follow the story, I knew things were going over my head and I was only getting a surface level understanding. The main storyline was interesting and engaging but I wish I had grasped more of it.

I'll be honest. I didn't do a lot of research when this arrived on my doorstep, but that was my error and I could mostly put that aside. The art style is grisly and dark. The level of dark and grim reminded me a little of the Locke and Key Series by Joe Hill, which I really liked, although the styles are very different.

But the story wanders a lot. The are several detours through the series that led up to a seriously anti-climactic reveal. (that was the most disappointing part) Overall these installments were missing tension and I wasn’t very attached to the two main characters. Instead I felt like there were all side stories up until the last issue or two.

I'm not sure I'll continue on with this series. If you know more about this universe, I expect you will enjoy it a lot more.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Unboxing (Paranormal Edition)

This month is already out of control as far as book buying goes. Normally I can hold out a little better than this, but I am obsessed with this series and I am anxious to continue on with it. Expect to see a bunch of these in my wrap up!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Summer Favorites

For the past few months I've skipped doing monthly favorites posts. Overall I was quite busy and didn't take the time to compile a list of the best things I did and saw throughout the summer. However, I do want to do that now! It may just be an effort to hang onto the last remnants of summer, but I am still excited to share some of my favorite summer things with you.

Book Favorite:

Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5) My Lady Jane

Over the past three months I've read some amazing books and I couldn't pick just one favorite. To be honest some months I can't pick one book as a favorite so there was bound to be several for this span. My summer selections overall have been amazing so choose these two was difficult. However when I look back on my summer what I loved most was the fun reads. The books that made me laugh shot to the top so if you aren't convinced by my long winded paragraph check out my reviews of Timeless by Gail Carriger and My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows.

Monday, September 12, 2016

#Diverseathon TBR!

This week a very special readathon has been planned by four lovely booktube ladies. I have compiled a small TBR pile of diverse books that sounds amazing for this event. If I can get through these three books I'll pick up another book from my shelf!

Books Mentioned:

Friday, September 9, 2016

Review - My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane
Series: Standalone
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age Group - Young Adult
Published - June 2016
Hardcover - 491pgs

Rating - 5/5

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

Quick Thoughts: Amusing, fun and clever. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a little British humor and can enjoy some historical inaccuracies. Please go check out this awesome story.

Full Review: 
This book was the whole reason I ordered Owl Create for the first time. I was convinced the book would be My Lady Jane and I was anxious to read it. Something about this book had piqued my interest from the moment I heard about it. Luckily I was right and this book arrived on my doorstep along with some other cool goodies!

The story is fun and engaging. While it doesn't hurt to have a good understanding of English history, the authors throw history out the window so it doesn't actually matter in the end. This hilarious retelling gave nods to a lot of great literature along the way and completely disregarded history. I should hate that. I have a BA in History after all, but I didn't. Somehow the authors were historically accurate while they disregarded the history books.

Throughout the book the humor reminded me a lot of The Princess Bride which made me love it even more. While not everything can be believed, the hilarity and absurdity of some of the plot lines made up for it. Overall it is a book that doesn't take itself too seriously even though we are talking about beheadings and political coups. I was caught up in the story and I couldn't put it down.

While this story felt complete, I am actually disappointed there won't be more adventures. I would love to continue following these characters to see what they could get up to in the future. (And what kind of history the authors could mess up next.) I absolutely adored this book.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Missing My Audiobooks

So in the middle of August I realized I haven't listened to any audiobooks in 2016 which seems like a crime to me. I love audiobooks and now that I realize I've been missing them I cannot get enough of them. For the rest of the year I've set a couple goals in order to catch up on what I've been missing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Top Ten Books I Need Netflix to Pick Up

There are many books and series I think would make awesome television shows. When a series is as complex as interesting as some of my favorites are, I think its hard to adapt it with any accuracy to the big screen. Plus if we have several seasons, the enjoyment lasts just that much longer. These are just a few series I wish would be made into series by Netflix since they seem to be creating the best shows out of anyone right now.

1) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater - This is my ultimate desire in bookish life. If this series was well adapted into a television series I could die happy. Is that too much? Right now it is at the top of my favorite series list so I don't think so. This fan made trailer is what started this obsession so check it out!

2) Virals by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs - This series is very fun and fast paced. If adapted into a series would probably be short lived, but I think it would be awesome. If you combine the appeal of Bones with more paranormal elements, this could be a very interesting show!

3) The Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger - Here is another show I would watch without hesitation. Give me this adaptation of steampunk paranormal London and I will be happy the rest of my days. This would be awesome.

4) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson - Given the success of The Flash, Arrow, and Daredevil, I think this comic book series could be another awesome adaptation. I also think this series, if adapted, would be a great way to insert more diversity into the Marvel and television world.

5) The Old Kingdom Series by Garth Nix - This series would be difficult to adapt because it has a huge map and covers a lot of ground. Plus there would be a lot of CGI involved with the number of dead things that appear and are described. I still think it would be awesome.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) Virals (Virals, #1) Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)

6) Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce - Honestly I want this adaption just so I can experience this series in a fresh way all over again. It is one of my favorites of all time and I'd love to see it put on the screen at some point. This world is so big they could just keep going!

7) Eragon by Christopher Paolini - We can all agree the movie was terrible, but what if we started over? Let actually try again and put some good thought into this adaptation.

8) Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples - Can we all just imagine for a moment how awesome this would be?

9) His Fair Assassins by Robin LaFevers - Another awesome series about kick ass ladies that I want to see put on the screen! This story is told in companion novels and I think it would be interesting to see them play out all at once.

10) A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis - This possibly would be better as a movie, but maybe it could be expanded on to be a series. The original story is awesome. The main character is a mental health patient who helps solve mysteries so there could be more mysteries to solve!

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1) Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1) Saga, Volume 1 Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1) A Madness So Discreet

Friday, September 2, 2016

Review - The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Series: Standalone 
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Published- June 2015
Hardcover - 403

Rating - 4/5

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d'Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can't sing. She can't even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend's invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse's home in the Caribbean isn't: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He's also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn't treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove's high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn't the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian's seductive tide and entranced by the Cove's charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn't what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who's best known for breaking them.

This story grabbed me right off the bat. There were a lot of elements beyond just the romance to keep me interested. Not only was this a fun contemporary romance with a diverse cast of characters, but it is a retelling of The Little Mermaid as well. If the synopsis didn't grab me, the cover was going to. It is a beauty. 

The main character, Elyse, has lost her ability to speak and a lot of her confidence in an accident. She is brave and throughout the book I admired her spirit and drive. Throughout the book I felt Elyse's sense of loss and longing for her home, her family and her voice. All of those things, while not all are permanently lost, are beyond her right now and I think Ockler did an awesome job making that feel very real. She faces all of this in a brave but believable way and I loved it.

The romance was just what I wanted. It was fluffy and cute, but important to both people. I liked Christian, as a character, too. Even though he is set up to be the typical player, he had some depth that kept me interested in his story as well as Elyse's. The whole cast was diverse and interesting and I loved them. 

There were a few things that didn't work as well for me though. The story is sluggish at times and I found that annoying. There was also a strange paranormal element to this story that seemed to pop up only at convenient moments. I didn't understand why that even existed in the story. It threw me off whenever it came into play. 

Overall this was a very fun summery read that was perfect when I picked it up at the beach. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a fun contemporary read!