Friday, October 28, 2016

The #FridayReads Review (10/28/16)

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!

The Continent (The Continent, #1)
The Continent by Keira Drake (ARC)
This sounded like just my sort of read so I've been excited to get to it, but I'm two chapters in and so far not really impressed. A lot of people have really loved it though, so I'm hoping it gets better!

>> DNF <<
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine (Trouble, #1)
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly (ARC)
DNF at Chapter 4. There's something off about the writing for me that makes it harder to follow, I'm not crazy about the characters or setting, and I'm not interested in the slightly creepy mystery plot (granted I'm not much for mystery plots in general). Sad this didn't work out but going to pass.

Glitter by Aprilynne Pike (ARC)
Stars. A near-future suspense with lots of intrigue, tension, and historical glamour. Review to come!

(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Not Lives Vol. 3
Not Lives vol. 3 by Wataru Karasuma (PBK)
I really enjoyed the first two volumes so I'm excited to continue the series!

So what are you reading this week?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Release Spotlight: GLITTER (Aprilynne Pike)

Today I spotlight the gorgeous first book in a duology set in the near future full of dark intrigue and historical glamour: GLITTER by Aprilynne Pike! I had the honor of beta-reading this beauty some time ago, and reading the ARC this month has been a delight. If you haven't yet done so, see below for all the links - or if you'd like even more information about this unique story, check out my early author interview here for a detailed scoop!



Title: Glitter
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 10/25/16

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike comes a truly original new novel—Breaking Bad meets Marie Antoinette in a near-future world where the residents of Versailles live like it’s the eighteenth century and an almost-queen turns to drug dealing to save her own life. 
Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.

When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.

Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.

But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.

Add to Goodreads

Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository

Monday, October 24, 2016

DNF Review: Reawakened (Colleen Houck)

Reawakened (Reawakened, #1)
Title: Reawakened
Series: Reawakened, Book 1
Author: Colleen Houck
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: August 11, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy Adventure
Told: First Person (Lily), Past Tense
Content Rating: Teen (up to P95: car accident, mental and physical manipulation)
Format Read: ARC (trade)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can't imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

*          *          *

DNF Review
(DNF at Page 95)

In a Sentence: While the premise was interesting, I couldn't connect with the writing, the main character, or the story, and the magic was unsettling.

I'm intrigued by all things Egyptian (I once even tried to learn hieroglyphics), so when I heard about Reawakened I was eager to read it. But despite the exciting premise, right from the start there was something off about the writing that unbalanced everything else, and I found the story rather unbelievable and a little disturbing.

I'm always willing to suspend some disbelief for the sake of entertainment, but here I struggled as the situations felt way too coincidental or just downright dictated. Main character Lily, who was supposed to be really smart, was instead rather dense, but I could tell it wasn't her fault but the story's dictating her personality and knowledge - and the knowledge around her - out of necessity. (She loved to study people but had somehow never heard of anthropology (the study of humans), and her college brochures didn't even list it as an option??) Then when she came into contact with Amon, her reactions were odd, and after a lot of talking and proof that should've persuaded a "smart" person like her it was something insignificant that convinced her to believe him. (My literal reaction: "What? That she believes? Seriously?")

And then there was the magic. While I was intrigued by the power to allow one person to live off the life force of another, I found the "necessary" slavish addition highly disturbing as Amon was able to control not only Lily's body with commands but alter her mind and emotions, diverting her thoughts when she focused on things he didn't want her to and calming her when her instincts told her to fear. Although the book insisted there was innocence to it I was unsettled by the way it was handled, and the interesting bits were soon suffocated by the troubling ones.

In the end though, the writing was the final nail in the sarcophagus for me. With flat dialogue and awkward movement on top of the dictated characters and disturbing magic, I struggled to maintain interest despite the plot heading overseas. Clinging to the still intriguing premise I hoped the book would get better, but when a serious case of backstory infodumping began on the plane ride my interest dropped to zero and I finally decided it was time to throw in the Egyptian cotton towel.

Conclusion: While I really thought this would be just my kind of read, I couldn't connect with any of the elements and lengthy infodumping proved too much for me to continue.

Try It Again?: Doubtful

Friday, October 21, 2016

The #FridayReads Review (10/21/16)

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!

Glitter by Aprilynne Pike (ARC)
I haven't felt much like reading novels the past week or two (it happens sometimes), but with the launch party this coming Tuesday I couldn't put this beauty off any longer! So far it's been an easy and engaging read, although I occasionally find myself staring at the gorgeous cover and forgetting to actually read the book. ;)

Handa-kun 1 (Handa-kun, #1)
Handa-kun vol. 1 by Satsuki Yoshino (PBK)
Stars. I've been really enjoying the Barakamon series, but in this prequel series teenage Handa's gloomy and defeatist demeanor is off-putting for me. While the situations and other characters are amusing, he is not. Read the first two chapters and then skimmed the rest; will sadly not continue the series.

(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine (Trouble, #1)
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly (ARC)
I've been seeing ARCs of the sequel around a lot lately so it's probably about time I gave it a try! I've heard good things.

So what are you reading this week?

Friday, October 14, 2016

The #FridayReads Review (10/14/16)

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!

A Certain Magical Index, Vol. 5 (manga)
A Certain Magical Index vol. 5 by Chuya Kogino (PBK)
Although the world is a bit odd, this series has really surprised me with interesting characters and exciting action. After two thrilling two-volume story arcs this third is so far a little less impressive, but the characters continue to keep me engaged.

World Trigger, Vol. 12
World Trigger vol. 12 by Daisuke Ashihara (PBK)
StarsWhile I feel the rank wars arc are a waste of time and energy and the commentary can get seriously wordy at times, I am enjoying the action enough to continue. I hope they bring back the monsters soon, though!

(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Glitter by Aprilynne Pike (PBK)
The release party is only a few weeks away so I need to get started on this beauty pronto!

So what are you reading this week?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 (J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Title: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2
Series: Harry Potter, Book 8
Author: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: July 31, 2016
Genre: Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Told: Play Format
Content Rating: Teen (some scary images, intense and emotional moments, some minor language)
Format Read: Hardcover (library)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

*          *          *

In a Sentence: A quick but unimpressive "eighth book" in an otherwise impressive series.

I had middling hopes for this "book," excited for something new in the amazing Harry Potter world but knowing realistically it would not be another Rowling masterpiece (it is essentially written by someone else, after all). So I wasn't as surprised as most that this book proved rather disappointing, although it did let me down a little more than I'd expected.

Since the main reason I "enjoyed" this book as much as I did was because I had absolutely no idea what it was about, this review will be brief to avoid spoilers. I will say, however, that it read rather like fan fiction, asking "what would things be like if this had happened instead" questions and exploring the results. I did enjoy some of the results, and enjoyed seeing some unexpected characters, but overall the story lacked proper character motivation and connection for me, and I wasn't impressed with the plot at all.

I must admit though that some of my connection difficulties were most likely due to the format - I've never read a play before (screenplay yes, theater play no), and the spartan format left a lot to be desired. This did make for a quick read which I was glad for, but the minimal movement, detail, and emotional resonance with the characters created too much distance for a truly enjoyable book.

Conclusion: If you loved the original Harry Potter series, you really can't not read The Cursed Child, but thankfully it's a quick read with an intriguing premise, if little else. Although I doubt I'll ever read it again (and am very glad I borrowed it from the library, not purchased it), I'd definitely be interested in seeing a recording of the play, even though I've now ruined quite a lot of the impact. Still, I'd be intrigued to at least see how the man-eating bookcase works on stage...

Scribble Rating
2.5 of 5 Scribbles

Friday, October 7, 2016

The #FridayReads Review (10/7/16)

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!

Komomo Confiserie, Vol. 1
Komomo Confiserie vol. 1 by Maki Minami (PBK)
With the recent release of the last volume, I am re-reading the first two volumes of this cute and funny series before reading the last three this weekend! I really enjoyed the second volume, so I'm excited to see where the story goes and especially how it ends.

Imprudence (The Custard Protocol, #2)Not Lives Vol. 1

Imprudence by Gail Carriger (ARC)
StarsAs anticipated, a delightful and steamy read full of adventure and wit that answered quite a few parasolverse questions while opening doors to many more areas of exploration! Review to come.

Not Lives vol. 1 by Wataru Karasuma (PBK)
4 StarsThis was epically better than I expected! Very interesting video game story with great twists, root-worthy characters, and exciting action. Would've given it 5 Stars but there were just too many panty shots for me. *sigh* So glad I had vol. 2 handy!

The Seven Deadly Sins 12: Ban's Decision
The Seven Deadly Sins vol. 12 by Nakaba Suzuki (PBK)
After Komomo Confiserie I have volumes 12-15 in this series to catch up on! With my library it's a manga feast or famine.

So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WoW: Lucky in Love (Kasie West)

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:

Lucky in Love
Title: Lucky in Love
Author: Kasie West
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic

Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment -- She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Why I'm Looking Forward To It: Two Kasie West books in 2017, I shall feel positively spoiled. ;) Kasie continues to come up with such fun premises! And I love that Scholastic is sticking with tradition and the cover matches her previous book with them. Can't wait!

So what book are you waiting on?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Review: The Dark Talent [Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians #5] (Brandon Sanderson)

The Dark Talent (Alcatraz, #5)
Title: The Dark Talent
Series: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, Book 5
Author: Brandon Sanderson (site)
Publisher: Starscape (Tor)
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy Adventure
Told: First Person (Alcatraz), Past Tense
Content Rating: Teen (violence/fighting/war, death, wooly sea sloths)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and his friend, Bastille, is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the Highbrary–known as The Library of Congress to Hushlanders–the seat of Evil Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?
*          *          *

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

*Warning: possible spoilers below!*

Series: This is Book 5 in the Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series. For reviews of the previous books, see Book 1: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, Book 3: The Knights of Crystallia, and Book 4: The Shattered Lens. (Book 2: The Scrivener's Bones, pending.)

In a Sentence: A return to everything I loved about the first two brilliant and hilarious books but with a little more weight, thrilling twists, and a shock of an ending.

Determined to save the world from his possibly well-meaning but probably misguided father and retrieve the antidote that will revive his friend, Alcatraz teams up with his evil Librarian mother and several Smedrys to infiltrate the Highbrary (aka the Library of Congress). But after accidentally declaring war on the Librarians to the entire world, the infiltration becomes more of a very loud, very public break-in that turns DC into a war zone. With the aid of some unexpected family Alcatraz is able to make his way into the Highbrary, but once inside he must face a bloody dinosaur, several methods on his "ways to die that don't sound very fun" list, his parents' true motivations, his mysteriously absent Talent, and a very dark, very ancient evil bent on destroying everything he holds dear.

While Alcatraz is one of my all-time favorite series, after a somewhat disappointing fourth book my expectations for this fifth were a little low. So it was with great happiness that The Dark Talent vaulted my expectations to deliver as entertaining and thrilling a read as the brilliant and hilarious first two books that started it all!

As expected with this amazing series, the writing was sharp with wit and action and really bad puns, the story full of exciting twists and turns and cake I did not see coming. Although the weights of responsibility, familial unrest, and war that have built up over the series did dampen the zany humor just a bit, the Smedry eccentricities along with Alcatraz's penchant for off-topic tangents and new discovery of informative footnotes rather perfectly balanced the darker elements. By this book Aclatraz has fully embraced being a Smedry, which made for highly amusing moments and dialogue, as well as accepted what it means to be a leader and all the responsibility and guilt that comes with it, especially in times of war, which made for a bit more adulting than one might expect in a children's book but generated some good takeaway lessons. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read, and up until the last chapter the only thing keeping The Dark Talent from 5 Scribbles was the almost complete lack of my favorite character, Bastille, although I didn't feel her absence quite as keenly as expected except in the occasional need for a cutting remark.

And then: the last page.

After pondering it a while afterwards, the end really rather fit what came before and was properly foreshadowed through the entire series. At the time it hit though, it was probably the most complete shock of an ending I'd ever read, and had me rereading and flipping through the final pages of the ARC with wide eyes while I made many of the noises in Chapter Alice. I'd been under the impression this was the final book in the series, and for the series to end like that... While fitting, I was not happy. As in giving this book 2 Scribbles instead of 5 unhappy.

Luckily, I'd received an early finished hardcover just a few days before (thank you again, Tor!!). Still making Chapter Alice noises I scrambled for it and flipped to the end, praying that the ARC ending was some kind of misprint. It wasn't. But while the end remained the same, I discovered just how "unfinished" an Advance Reader Copy can be right before the hardcover flyleaf, a discovery that bumped this book back up to 4.5 Scribbles and now has me awaiting 2017 (cake I hope it's only 2017) with even more anticipation than I built up for this long-awaited fifth book.


Conclusion: A highly engaging and entertaining fifth installment in the Alcatraz saga with a shocking end but thrilling possibilities. Although the fourth book was somewhat disappointing this fifth returned to the brilliant and witty roots of the first two books, and I highly recommend the entire series for anyone who enjoys fast-paced, action-packed, fourth-wall-breaking adventures!

For Fans Of: Harry Potter

Scribble Rating
4.5 of 5 Scribbles