Book Review - Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

Friday, January 16, 2015
Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara
Series: Chronicles of Elantra #1
Publisher: Luna
Publication Date: 1 July 2005
Genre: Fantasy
My Copy: Library - Paperback

Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade, knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered -- and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin...

Since then, she's learned to read, she's learned to fight and she's become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and immortal Barrani, she's made a place for herself, far from the mean streets of her birth.

But children are once again dying, and a dark and familiar pattern is emerging, Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade with a partner she knows she can't trust, a Dragon lord for a companion and a device to contain her powers -- powers that no other human has. Her task is simple -- find the killer, stop the murders... and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies!

This book was kind of weird for me. I loved the characters, and that alone is enough to make me read the second book. There's a lot of action and mystery in the book. However, the story line was very confusing to me. There wasn't enough of the setting explained early enough in the story, so it took me a long time to figure out what the world was like. It's difficult to read a book when you don't understand the foundation. I'm not one to like long winded descriptions, but in this case, a little more description would have been helpful. I found myself going "What?" on multiple occasions. Despite that, I was hooked into the story early on. I'll admit Kaylin is a bit annoying, but somehow I still found that I liked her. I think what annoyed me is trying to figure out what was going on, and Kaylin kept saying she didn't want to know. I wanted to yell at her "But I do!" 

The book has a wide variety of elements from lion/human-like characters to angel type characters to dragons. Once I understood the world a little better, I really liked it. I also have a thing for the fieflord Nightshade. I get that he's probably sort of a bad guy, but I think he's also kind of a good guy deep down. Probably not the right person to root for, but I liked him anyway. Tiamaris is probably my second favorite. He seems very wise and private, but he's also weirdly likeable to me. Severn is the obvious male interest, but because he's obvious, he's also somehow less interesting to me. Plus compared to the other two, he's just kind of a guy with a past. I still liked him, but I wasn't crazy about him. I'm curious to see how things play out in Cast in Courtlight.
Favorite Quote:
Truth, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.

Book Review - Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: Lunar Chronicles #1
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: 1 January 2012
Genre: YA - Sci-Fi
My Copy: Library - Paperback

 Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

This was one of those books where I had doubts that I would like it. I'm not that big into fairytale retellings, and Cinderella is probably one of my least favorite fairytales. However, I kept hearing wonderful things about this series, a coworker gushed about the series, and the cyborg aspect kind of interested me. I didn't have high expectations going into this novel, and in fact, I almost convinced myself that I wouldn't like it. I had checked it out from the library on a whim, and I waited until a couple days before it was due (roughly 54 days since I checked it out since I renewed it once) to actually read it. I'm really glad I decided to go ahead with it since I found myself loving the story!

I thought Cinder was kind of badass by the end of the book. She took care of herself and stood by her stepsister who was obviously the less important daughter to her mother. She started a little "woe-is-me" but she ended by taking a stand for not just herself, but for Earth. Sure she had moments of self-doubt, but I think everyone does so that just made her even better. I guessed at the ending fairly early in the book, so the only thing that kind of irritated me was that she didn't pick up on it sooner. I thought she ought to put the pieces together herself quicker than she did. I like that she's a female mechanic too. The secondary characters were a little one-dimensional to me. Even Prince Kai was kind of blah. I hope to see more development out of them in the second novel, even if Scarlet is focused on a new character and different fairytale.

Despite this being a twist on Cinderella, there is plenty of unique story line. The Cinderella aspect isn't overly obvious and isn't even the main story to me. The cyborg business wasn't explained perhaps as much as I would have liked, and Cinder was the only one named in this book. I hope the next book has more about the cyborg process as well as going more into depth about the Lunars. I knew this was futuristic and had cyborgs and androids, but despite reading the synopsis, I didn't pick up on the fact that there would be a civilization on the moon as well which made the story that much more awesome to me. So many interesting dynamics and politics explored in the book. I'm really looking forward to reading Scarlet next.

Favorite Quote:
Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.

Book Review - Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Monday, January 12, 2015
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury Books
Publication Date: 19 June 2012
Genre: YA/New Adult - Contemporary
My Copy: Library - Hardback

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

I have to mention one thing before I start my review, and for the record, it has no bearing on my review. I recently discovered Trish Doller in a strange way. I had heard the names of the books, and working in a library I saw her books circulate regularly. The thing is, I worked with her husband Captain Phil for several months when I first moved to Fort Myers, FL. It wasn't until after I started my new job at the library and was no longer working with Phil that I found out his wife was Trish. So, there you go, it's a small world. Anyway, once I found that out, I had to read her books because it's exciting even if I've never actually met her. I just finished this one and I'm getting ready to start Where the Stars Still Shine

I really enjoyed this story. I wasn't sure going into it that I would like it which made me a little nervous to read it. I don't usually like anything war related in fiction. I know that is weird since my focus for my BA in History was Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, but because of knowing so much about it, fiction just kind of irritates me. I think because this was set in present day and dealt with Afghanistan that it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. Travis was an easy character to care about. Usually I don't feel for male characters as much as female, but I really wanted things to work out for Travis. I liked that the writing made his story seem realistic. Sometimes YA/New Adult novels make it seem as though everything is tied up in a pretty bow at the end, like there should be a "and they lived happily ever after" at the end. Without spoilers, the end seems plausible. Hopeful, but plausible. 

I have read a few reviews on this book and a few say that the PTSD isn't as bad as it really is in life; however, I think there are different levels of PTSD. Not to mention, it's great to bring this up in a YA novel because the truth is lots of people join the military right out of high school, but much of the effects of war is not mentioned, particularly to teenagers. Or at least, I never really heard much about it until after I was out of high school for awhile. It's something that shouldn't be shameful. It also shows that it's okay to need help. I think that's a big theme in this book. It's okay to need someone else to help you. Everyone needs someone else to pick up some of the burden, someone who understands you and accepts you without judgment.

Travis goes through a lot in this book and grows up quickly. There were several actions by him that endeared him to me multiple times in the story. I wanted to punch his dad and shake some sense into Ryan. I cheered for his mom, especially at the end. She started out weak and ended strong. I love characters that change within a story, and this one had two. The book gets 4 stars because while I liked the story, characters, and lessons, it didn't quite have that thing that makes it a book I absolutely love. Still, I recommend this book and I did thoroughly enjoy reading it. In fact, I read it all at once.

Favorite Quote:
But here's the thing: the strings are already attached.

Book Review - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Monday, January 5, 2015
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: 1 April 2014
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Library - Hardback

 On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A.J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A.J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A.J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.


LOVED THIS!!! Okay, now that that's out of the way, this book is going on my top lists. I went into the book, like I do most books, with a certain idea of how the story would go. It wasn't really at all what I expected, which I liked. The story is all about A.J.'s life, as you can probably guess from the title. At first I had this "poor guy, but what a jerk" feeling towards A.J. However, it didn't last very long before I found his quirks endearing. At first I was a little confused about how time was passing in the book because it doesn't seem to flow at a consistent pace. Some chapters started immediately after the one before it, but others started varying years after the previous chapter. It was a little bit of a hangup at a couple places. Each chapter also starts with an book entry by A.J. which gives clues to what will happen in the following chapter. It took some of the surprise out of parts of the story, but for me there were still things that I didn't see coming.

There are a lot of wonderful, well-developed supporting characters in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Maya is a very intelligent young girl, and it was interesting to watch her grow up through the book with A.J. as an influence. Amelia was the perfect balance to A.J. Lambiase, Ismay, and Daniel each have their part to play in the story. They were each unique characters which was refreshing to read. Many times the secondary characters are all kind of the same character. 

I loved how the story was centered around books. A.J. is a bookstore owner. Amelia is a publishing agent. Daniel is a writer. Ismay is an English teacher. Maya is a reader and future writer. Daniel is a reader. Everyone bonded over books. Since I'm obviously a book person myself (library assistant), I personally love books that incorporate books, especially if love is involved! Timing is also important in the book. Things happened as they were supposed to at the right time to each of the characters. The writing in the book is a little odd from what I'm used to, but I kinda liked it. The plot reminded me of Jojo Moyes in some ways, so if you like her, I'd recommend this one. Although, I'd recommend this to everyone. I cried at the end, so have some tissues ready!

Favorite Quotes:

 We aren't the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on.

We read to know we're not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.

You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?

It is the secret fear that we are unlovable that isolates us,” the passage goes, “but it is only because we are isolated that we think we are unlovable. Someday, you do not know when, you will be driving down a road. And someday, you do not know when, he, or indeed she, will be there. You will be loved because for the first time in your life, you will truly not be alone. You will have chosen to not be alone.

New Year's Resolutions

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

It's that time again! I love the idea of starting over with a clean slate and so much possibility. Last year brought a lot of changes to my life which make me even more excited for this year even though some of the changes were hard. I moved from Missouri to Florida. I absolutely love it here. Being near a beach has always been a dream of mine, but I never knew how much I really loved the sun until I moved here.  I changed jobs a couple times, and finally landed the library job I have wanted for years. Life is pretty great!

Non-Bookish Resolutions

1. Take the GRE so I can take the next step towards an MLIS degree.
2. Pay off my credit cards and start paying my student loans down.
3. Lose 40 pounds.
4. Go to the beach more often.

Bookish Resolutions

1. Read a minimum of 1 book per week, but ideally 2.
2. Post 3 times per week.
3. Comment on at least 3 reviews by other bloggers each week. I tend to be a lurker. I read the blogs and don't comment out of fear that I'll sound like a weirdo.
4. Complete my reading challenges!

Do you have any resolutions for 2015?

January 2015 New Releases

Thursday, January 1, 2015

NOTE: This is by no means a complete list of book or movie releases. Book titles link to Goodreads.

6 January

The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell (Saxon Stories #8)
Insatiable Appetites by Stuart Woods (Stone Barrington #32)
Golden Son by Pierce Brown (Red Rising #2)
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #7)
Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole (Arcana Chronicles #3)
Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz 
No Ghouls Allowed by Victoria Laurie (Ghost Hunter Mystery #9)
Silver Thaw by Catherine Anderson (Mystic Creek #1)
Before I Go by Colleen Oakley
Ensnared by A G Howard (Splintered #3)
Rogue Waves by Jennifer Donnelly (Waterfire Saga #2)
Frostfire by Amanda Hocking (Kanin Chronicles #1)
Descent by Tim Johnston
A Seamless Murder by Melissa Bourbon (Magical Dressmaking Mystery #6)
The Importance of Being Alice by Katie MacAlister (Ainslie Brothers #1)
A Little on the Wild Side by Robin Kaye (Wild Thing #3)
Back to Before by Tracy Solheim (Second Chances #1)
Drifters by John L Campbell (Omega Days #3)
Reborn by Jennifer Rush (Altered #3)
A Single Kiss by Grace Burrowes (Sweetest Kisses #1)
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

No Good Deed
The Longest Week
Left Behind 
Girls - Sn 3
Black Sails - Sn 1
Glee - Sn 5 

13 January

Saint Odd by Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas #7)
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag
The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith
The Curse of the House of Foskett by M R C Kasasian (Gower Street Detective #2)
Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols (Superlatives #2)

Gone Girl
A Walk Among the Tombstones
The Identical 
Men, Women, and Children
Boardwalk Empire - Sn 5
Dallas - Sn 3

20 January

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen 
Burned by Karen Marie Moning (Fever #7)
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen (Waverley Family #2)
See How Small by Scott Blackwood
The Prey by Tom Isbell (Hatchery #1)

The Drop
White Bird in a Blizzard
Wolf Blood - Sn 3 

27 January


Bridged by Kendra Elliott (Mason Callahan #2)
All Fall Down by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #1)
Viper Game by Christine Feehan (GhostWalkers #11)
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (Bone Season #2)
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller (Brides of Bliss County #2)
If the Viscount Falls by Sabrina Jeffries (Duke's Men #4)
Echo Lake by Carla Neggers (Swift River Valley #4)
Panther Prowling by Yasmine Galenorn (Otherworld #17)
Shark Skin Suite by Tim Dorsey (Serge Storms #18)
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd (Madman's Daughter #3)
Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh

Book of Life
The Remaining 
Before I Go To Sleep
Downton Abbey - Sn 5