Friday, June 23, 2017

The #FridayReads Review (6/23/17)

Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)
Itching to read but just couldn't settle on any of the half-dozen books I tried to start, so on with my (apparently year-long) Harry Potter re-read! (Barely remember re-reading the first four so thank goodness for Goodreads to remind me I already had.)

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore
Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones (ARC)
4.5 Stars. A delightfully fun and fashionable alternate Regency mystery with marvelous magic and intriguing espionage for fans of Gail Carriger and the Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal! Review to come.

(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
The Diabolic (The Diabolic #1)
The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid (ARC)
I'm thinking of doing CampNano next month and if so this book would be the perfect inspiration for the story I'm considering to write.

So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WoW: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares (Krystal Sutherland)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blogging event in which one spotlights an upcoming release they are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR

From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love one debilitating phobia at a time.

Ever since Esther Solar's grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther's father is agoraphobic and hasn't left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them. 

Esther doesn't know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares. 

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she'd been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn't counted on: love.

Why I'm Looking Forward To It: This sounds like such fun!! The purple cover intrigued me (cats always catch my eye ;) but it was after reading the summary that I immediately knew this will be just my kind of read. Magical realism ftw!

So what book are you waiting on?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Ten Series I've Been Meaning to Start but Haven't

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)
Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Cold FuryPassenger (Passenger, #1)
Riders (Riders, #1)Geek Girl (Geek Girl, #1)
  1. The Elemental Trilogy (Sherry Thomas)
  2. Reckoners (Brandon Sanderson)
  3. The Young Elites (Marie Lu)
  4. The Illuminae Files (Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff)
  5. Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo)
  6. The Great Library (Rachel Caine)
  7. Cold Fury (T.M. Goeglein)
  8. Passenger (Alexandra Bracken)
  9. Riders (Veronica Rossi)
  10. Geek Girl (Holly Smale)

So what series have you been meaning to start but haven't?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: Caraval (Stephanie Garber)

Title: Caraval
Series: Caraval, Book 1
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Alternate Fantasy
Told: Third Person Limited (Scarlett), Past Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (physical abuse by a parent, sensuality, violence, murder, suicide)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

*          *          *

Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review. Thank you, Flatiron!

In a Sentence: An alternate fantasy with a familiar and interesting world and game but contradictory telling versus showing, a frustrating main character, and a weak sibling bond.

Caraval was one of those books that I really wanted to like, thought I might like, but wasn't too surprised when I didn't.

Writing & Characters: At over 400 pages, Caraval not only was but felt like a really long read with too much uninteresting description and Scarlett overthinking everything. There was also way too much insistent telling that was contradicted by what was actually shown, especially concerning the promised “unbreakable bond between two sisters” the story said it had but I never really saw

Scarlett constantly underestimated and discounted her smarter and stronger younger sister, always assured that she was incapable of taking care of herself or making good decisions and had to be rescued. Not that Tella was always foremost in Scarlett's mind, though. While she was supposed to be focused on finding Tella, Scarlett was constantly distracted by thoughts of her upcoming nuptials, which she swore was about saving them both but was really just about her. And that would've been okay - marrying someone is a big deal, and essentially all about you (well, and the person you're marrying). But the fact that she kept trying to convince herself it was about her and Tella when it really wasn't rubbed me wrong. And Tella was the same way. She said she cared about Scarlett more than anything, that she felt responsible for making sure her sister was happy. But her personality was predominantly selfish and adventurous, and I never really bought any actions contradictory to that. Together, no matter how hard I looked, I just didn't see the strong sisterly bond the book insisted it possessed - two sisters does not an unbreakable bond make.

Romantic Relationships: There were two romantic interests for Scarlett: her unseen fiance, and her mysterious Caraval partner. The outcome of the fiance was no surprise and I'm glad it wasn't, although I was secretly hoping for more of a shock for who it turned out to be. The partner was a heavy case of instalust that did not sit well with me as they were so unbearably physically drawn to each other despite no other attraction and in fact a bit of revulsion and indifference otherwise. Overall both "relationships" disappointed and disturbed me in different ways, but thankfully both ended realistically, which I appreciated.

StoryDespite a promising dark and twisted game concept, for the most part I found Caraval too confusing and way too coincidental. The clues were impossible for me to follow and it was always a surprise when Scarlett somehow found her way, which made it feel as if the game were conforming to her decisions instead of her actually solving anything. (Maybe it was? Hence my confusion.) Since every clue I thought I deciphered turned out to be false, I eventually gave up trying to guess and thereby lost most of my interest in the game itself.

This left only one element of the story to keep me reading: the mystery that was Scarlett's Caraval partner. It kept me interested despite a lot of frustration with Scarlett and an occasionally elevated level of character stupidity that made me put the book down and walk away a few times. But even that mystery eventually grew tiresome as the truth was revealed and then disproved and then revealed and then disproved again until I really couldn't care less who he was anymore and just wanted the mystery over with. The final answer, which wasn't revealed until the last chapter, was a little left field and rather disappointing compared to my guesses, but by then that was no surprise. After all the frustration and dashed promises, the story's end left me feeling a bit gypped but satisfied enough, I guess. I was happy with how one character turned out, but very "whatever" with the rest. 

Setting: The setting was the only aspect of the book that didn't disappoint. The dazzling but unnerving world reminded me of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland while the fun yet sinister game was reminiscent of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. There wasn't nearly enough of the world for me though, and what little teaser snippets there were always left me wanting more that would never come. 

ConclusionAlthough I did enjoy the classically reminiscent world and game, there was way too much uninteresting description, Scarlett was too distracted and overthought everything to the point of frustration, and I never truly felt the sisterly bond. While the mysterious partner was intriguing, after way too many switchbacks I lost interest before the final conclusion, and while the end was for the most part satisfying it left me feeling a bit cheated.

Will I read the next book?: I actually wasn't expecting this to be a series, so despite my problems with Caraval the epilogue did intrigue me. However, while I am a little tempted to read the sequel since it will focus on what was, in this book, a stronger and smarter character, the foreshadowed plot has all the hallmarks of more of the same stupidity-inducing antics that frustrated me in this book and I’m not sure if the world and game are dazzling enough for me to put up with it a second time.

For Fans Of: A.G. Howard's Splintered Series

Scribble Rating
2 of 5 Scribbles

Friday, June 16, 2017

The #FridayReads Review (6/16/17)

Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (HBK)
Decided to give this short read a try before tackling Starfall - starting it this afternoon!

Starflight (Starflight, #1)Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 24

Starflight by Melissa Landers (ARC/HBK)
5 Stars. Just as good as I my first read last year! You check out my gushing review here.

Kamisama Kiss vol. 24 by Julietta Suzuki (PBK)
4.5 Stars. I cried. I laughed. I foresee using up a box of tissues for the final volume later this year.

(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Starfall (Starflight, #2)
Starfall by Melissa Landers (HBK)
Finished my Starflight re-read so on to the companion sequel next! Will have to brave the hardcover, but needs must.

So what are you reading this week?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Paragraph Review: Geekerella (Ashley Poston)

Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale
Title: Geekerella
Series: standalone
Author: Ashley Poston
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Told: First Person (Elle, Darien), Present Tense
Content Rating: Teen (some language, kissing)
Format Read: Hardcover (publisher)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad's old costume), Elle's determined to win unless her stepsisters get there first. 

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons before he was famous. Now they re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he's ever wanted, but the Starfieldfandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom."

*          *          *

Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review. Thank you, Quirk Books!

In a Sentence: A fun and fannish Cinderella retelling with great characters and a sweet romance that no geek should miss.

If you're a geek who enjoys retellings, then you are in for a treat with Geekerella! Partially set at a sci-fi convention and fully focused on fandom, this is a playful reboot about embracing who you are and knowing that you are never alone - especially if you're a geek. With a lighthearted style that still wasn't afraid to get emotional (I teared up a few times), I enjoyed following the story from both Elle and Darien's distinct and quirky point of views as, by way of hasty judgments and bad decisions they nonetheless found their footing and found each other. Elle could be just a bit too dense for me considering her hard-knock life upbringing, but Darien was pure gold with his outside actor facade and inside fanboy. Their "happily ever after" romance was sweet and realistic as they didn't fall for each other right away (always a plus with me), instead slowly getting to know each other through witty texts that were the book's highlight. While I never enjoy the darker Cinderella moments in any retelling, I did thoroughly enjoy Geekerella's modern twists on the classic story (the fairy godmother, the pumpkin carriage) as well as the diverse differences like Cal. Granted the book did have a few minor faults (the plot tended to drive Elle more than her actions drove it, and the voices blended near the end), but overall this was a great story of self-discovery and sci-fi conventions that shouldn't be missed.

Conclusion: While I'm not much for Cinderella angst, I really enjoyed this retelling with its modern twists and focus on fandom culture. Although Elle was a little too insecure for me at times, Darien was adorable and their fairytale ending was sweet. I highly recommend Geekerella for geeks everywhere!

For Fans Of: Cinderella retellings, geek culture

Scribble Rating
4 of 5 Scribbles

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

WoW: An Unkindness of Magicians (Kat Howard)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted by Breaking the Spine, in which one spotlights an upcoming release they are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

An Unkindness of Magicians
Title: An Unkindness of Magicians
Author: Kat Howard
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Saga Press

There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.

Why I'm Looking Forward To It: I am always game for a magical NYC story! And this one sounds deliciously sinister.

So what book are you waiting on?