Monday, January 9, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (6): Authors I wish would Write another Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at the Broke and the Bookish.
Caveat: I kind of twisted this to part be the original of authors who I would like to write more, but also authors that I would like to continue a particular series.
  1. Dawn Cook- You CANNOT leave me hanging after just two Decoy Princess novels. Yes, I scoughed at them at first, have since fallen madly in love with them. PLEASE write something else that progresses the relationship!!!
  2. Brandon Mull- Fablehaven was epic, especially towards the end. No way is that all the ideas you have in your head for this book. I haven't even touched your new series yet for fear that it is not as good. Please return to Fablehaven!
  3. Suzanne Collins- Hunger Games was epic. You have a gift. Gregor the Overlander, was actually, just as good and has 5 books. Hunger Games ended well enough for me. Gregor needs more!
  4. Mary Ann Shaffer (with Annie Barrows)- I also was prejudiced for a long while against The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society but it has since become one of my most beloved novels. I would like more of that type of beautiful story with both heartache and heart finding. It was amazing. Thank you.
  5. Merrie Haskell- Your debut of the Princess Curse was the perfect blend of innocence and cheek. I need more!! Pretty please? 
  6. Brandon Sanderson- I LOVED the Mistborn trilogy (including the Alloy of Law that came out of left field)...and have yet to finish The Way of Kings but have liked it as far as I got. Are you going to continue in the Warbreaker world, though? I think it would be smashing if you did!

Those are my short 6...
How about you?

Review: The Gathering Storm (Katerina Alexandrovna #1) by Robin Bridges

Overall Impression 1/2

In a Word: Satisfactory

Source: Publisher/ NetGalley

Publication Date: January 10th 2012

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue. 

My Review: I have this weird fascination with Russia. Add to that a female necromancer in the time period of Imperial Russia and you have me hooked!

I liked this book, I did. The setting was believable and, even though there is a plethora of people, I eventually got to know them and admire them. This is a good start to a series....but there aren't any publication dates, much less hints, of its continuation listed anywhere!

Not too much of a cliffhanger at the end, it resolves reasonably well, but there is definitely room for expansion. I think the second book has a the potential of being much better than the first now that the stage has been set. It took a while for reasonable tension to show between the two characters I was rooting for...and then it kind of sped up to make up for lost time, which I wasn't as much of a fan of.

Then Katerina was kind of bi-polar where she would be all sensible and blushing at a compliment one moment and then going off her rocker and having to forcibly be removed from the room by her father for a stray comment made by someone (why yes, I do have a specific example in mind). These instances do not happen often, but were enough for me to take notice.

And while the story was interesting, it seemed rushed. I felt that more effort had been taken in Imperial Russian research and in getting all of the names straight of cousins and relatives and princess and dukes (which was quite impressive, I will admit. The author made keeping straight all of those people seem effortless. While it was not entirely key to the story, a family tree would have been interesting) than in fleshing things out as much plot wise as they could have been. 

That being said, I was able to read this book in 2.5 days without difficulty. It went fairly smoothly for the most part and kept me turning the pages. I will read the next one when it comes out! (though...when that can only guess)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Overall Impression: 

In a Word: Magnificent

Source: Publisher/NetGalley

Publication Date: Jan 3 2012

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)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. 

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

My Review: I was hooked with this book from the beginning. The cover? Simply spell-binding! The premise? Original and totally gripping! I love reading fairytale retellings that add depth and complexity to my favorite stories, but this is over. the. top. awesome.

How can I explain this without turning into a squealing fangirl? I can't. So I'll try and keep it brief. Basically Ms. Meyers writing is all encompassing. It felt natural, the story she told, and it was so easy to assimilate into her futuristic world with people who live on the moon and cyborgs and androids part of everyday life.

Cinder was so real to me. As a protagonist I felt she was very easy to sympathize with, enjoy, and follow. This isn't your regular ashes ashes Cinderella story, but very uniquely its own and it fits so well!

Just to warn you, things don't resolve. I was expecting this to tie up all nicely in one novel and the other lunar chronicles to maybe, hopefully, be about something else. Nope! We are just going to have to sit here and suffer, waiting for the next book to come out. We all know how the classic story ends, but this one has so much added depth and complexity to it that use make it so.....amazing!

If you are a fan of fairytales, a fan of good writing, a fan of good storytelling, a fan of cute romances, this is the book for you! (I'll have to not let my sister read it though....she gets quite cross with me when I get her hooked on a series that isn't all published yet....oh well)!

PS- my favorite version of Cinderella is the movie 'Ever After' with Drew Barrymore. I was secretly hoping that this book would have some of that in it...and it did! Whether it's just me being silly, I felt that a scene at the end of the book bore some resemblance and the doctor reminds me of the role Da Vinci played. I'm still holding out for the Gypsies to make an appearance though!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1) by Leanna Renee Hieber

Overall Impression

In a few Words: unfulfilled potential

Source: Publisher/NetGalley

Publication Date: November 2011

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing...
Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.
My review: My opinions for this book have been on a roller coaster. I ignored it for the first little while even though everyone was putting it on their TBR piles (this happens to me sometimes, I don't know why). Then I actually read the premise and was totally hooked! Got approved from NetGalley and eagerly started reading it....then I stopped.

To be honest, I didn't finish this book in that I read it all the way through. I actually skipped what would be deemed the climax, the 'juiciest 100 pages' just to get to the end as I had had enough but wanted to 'finish' it all the same.

*sigh* I wanted to like this book. I really did. Really. It started off great with the heroine being mute (I have never read a book where that is the case, so that immediately set this one apart) and she had a fun voice and seemed quite sure of herself. Ends up she's kind of a spoiled brat but still only labeled 'headstrong' and people are proud of her for doing what she wants. Maybe if it had been presented in a different way I wouldn't have been so annoyed by it.

Then, there is the insta-love. There were a few moments of clarity where the two involved think to themselves how odd it is that they feel so close to one another and that the shouldn't be so familiar. A phrase that came about 10 times in the parts that I did read was, vaguely, 'oddness breeds familiarity so it's ok.' I can kind of get that, but there wasn't any foundation and too much instant attraction and oh we're in love so young and oh I'm going to follow you and the next book in the series just might be more about our adventures!

Honestly, I have not intense feelings about this book. I hope it's not coming off that I despise it or anything, but it just had so much potential and didn't fulfill a whit of it that. Oh well, on to better things!

January is NetGalley month over at Red House Books!

Yay for another NetGalley month!

So far I have read:

  • Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1) by Leanna Renee Hieber: review
  • Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer: review

I seriously <3 NetGalley...I really wouldn't have access to popular ARCs otherwise!

Thank you Netgalley!

And thanks to Red House books for hosting this! Though I read the fantabulous books I get approved for...I'm kind of slow, and this helps speed things up for me. 

Check it out and participate!

    Review: The Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker

    Overall Impression

    In a Word/Phrase: Felt middle-grade

    Source: Library

    Publication Date: May 2010

    Short Synopsis (Goodreads)In this new stand-alone fairy tale, Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie—blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic—can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen's true love to kiss her awake.

    But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn't possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father's guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own.
    My review: Simply tons of my favorite books are MG....but this one felt too young for me. It was cute, and the heroine was fairly clever and not your average princess, but things felt a little rushed, and too many parts of fairy-tales felt crammed in. Nothing wrong with re-doing fairytales, I love it when people do it well, actually, but that doesn't mean every single secondary character has to be one either. Sometimes characters can naturally go against the grain but still feel realistic, but every single one of the secondary characters in this book was either supporting or up and up going against a classic cliche. Which is ok, but just wasn't super diverting. 

    I like me some romantical tension in the books I read. In MG, I don't expect a lot....cause it's usually kids that I'm reading about, but there was a bit in this one and it was cute. 

    It was a little tedious getting there...but the end felt right. Overall, not a bad book if you're up for something light, quick and easy, just don't drop anything else to do so.

    Review: Midnight in Austenland (Austenland #2) by Shannon Hale

    Overall Impression

    In a Word: Better

    Source: Publisher/Netgalley

    Publication Date: January 31st, 2012

    Short Synopsis: When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies. 

    Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love? 

    The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end?

    My Review: When I first heard that there was a second Austenland book, I was overjoyed!! The first one had been a fun romp through a type of experience I wish I could have myself so to find that more was in store that I hadn't expected was fantastic.

    Enter me reading the first few pages. While Ms. Hale has a fun way of writing, the first few pages of this book filled me with a sense of unease as to whether I would enjoy reading it, much less be able to finish it. I wasn't sure if I would be able to relate to the main character, Charlotte. She's divorced, I've never been married; she has two kids and in some circles I'm still considered one. 

    Enter Austenland part deux. I really shouldn't have worried. Once Charlotte enters Austenland any dissimilarities the main character and I might have had in the real world are overcome by our mutual love of all things Austen and a giddiness of actually 'being' there.

    That's not to say the book didn't have its imperfections. Sometimes foreshadowing was a little too heavy and combining a murder mystery as a means of progressing the story, while done fairly well, isn't always my cup of tea.

    However, I will freely admit to much giggling and some hand clapping at certain turns of phrase and circumstances. About 3/5 of the way through the book I was able to kind of see where things were headed and was glad that they ended up the way they did. I think I like this ending better than I did the first. There is more closure and more realism to this story as opposed to a simple fantasy fullfillment as the one previous (from what I can remember).

    Not as good as reading a real Jane Austen book, but I am glad that Ms. Hale focused her considerable talent for writing towards another novel set in Austenland. Reading the first book is not required for reading this next one in the Austenland universe. It's been a few years since I read the first and while I was able to understand that a character or two was similar, it was by no means necessary to understanding the story of this latest edition.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    I'm Still Alive!!


    Did you miss me?

    No?! Well, I suppose I deserve that. I've been apocalyptically neglectful.

    What have I been doing with myself, you ask, that has caused me to be away for so long (not that you care, we already established that, no need to rub it in)?

    Well....I learned how to make ring tones on garage band.....aaaaaand I've been reading, a lot, just not writing about it.


    *Sigh*  I deserve that, too. I think there must be some unspoken internet blogging rule that if you are gone for a certain amount of hours you are automatically a pariah and can only be spoken about in hushed tones on the 3rd Tuesday of every month and only if there is an odd number of people in the room.

    And one can only come back from this pariah state by swearing that they will never do it again...ever... or so help them because if they abandon it again every book they touch will be turned into  brussel sprouts (kindles included, only doubly so).

    Yay for the world of blogging!


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