Tuesday, May 17, 2016

So Sad Today

So Sad Today, written and narrated by Melissa Broder
Genre: Personal Essay
ISBN: 9781455562725
Published March 15th 2016 by Grand Central Publishing
Rating: 4

So Sad Today is a compilation of essays by Melissa Broder that narrates the interior monlologue of a person with mental ilness trying to survive and handle and deal with day to day life. Broder deals with a mariad of issues from sex and sexual identity, to masturbation, to anxiety attacks, to an addiction to the internet.

It was fascinating, enlightlening, entertaining, and relatable. It was violently truthful and brutally honest.

There are two sides of me responding to this book in two different ways.

The fememist inside me wants every young person to read this book for three reasons:

1. you are not alone in what you think it sweirdness and strangeness.

2. Here is someone who has experienced things you are curious about. Live vicariously throug her and learn from her mistakes but do not make the same choices.

3. This book is both a journal and a love letter, and it’s from her to you, so read it understanding it as both.

The other part of me sees the stuff she’s dealing with and ache for her. Broder is dealing with issues and trying to answer questions with no guidance and no purpose and no direction. It’s a battle I’ve never had to fight because I don’t seek for my fulfillment from me, I find it in my identity in Christ. And that part of me that sees her hungry and seeking and lost and confused really wants to take her out to coffee. So Melissa, if you get a chance to read this, I’d like to take you to coffee. Or we could just text. :)

Content/recommendation: mature and adult content. Lots of swearing and sex. 16+

About the Book

"These essays are sad and uncomfortable and their own kind of gorgeous. They reveal so much about what it is to live in this world, right now." --Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist

From acclaimed poet and creator of the popular Twitter account @sosadtoday comes a darkly funny and brutally honest collection of essays.

Melissa Broder always struggled with anxiety. In the fall of 2012, she went through a harrowing cycle of panic attacks and dread that wouldn't abate for months. So she began @sosadtoday, an anonymous Twitter feed that allowed her to express her darkest feelings, and which quickly gained a dedicated following. In SO SAD TODAY, Broder delves deeper into the existential themes she explores on Twitter, grappling with sex, death, love low self-esteem, addiction, and the drama of waiting for the universe to text you back. With insights as sharp as her humor, Broder explores--in prose that is both ballsy and beautiful, aggressively colloquial and achingly poetic--questions most of us are afraid to even acknowledge, let alone answer, in order to discover what it really means to be a person in this modern world.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author Site | Twitter

About the Author

Melissa Broder is the author of four poetry collections: SCARECRONE, MEAT HEART, WHEN YOU SAY ONE THING BUT MEAN YOUR MOTHER, and the forthcoming LAST SEXT (Tin House, 2016). She is also the author of the essay collection, SO SAD TODAY(Grand Central, March 2016).

Poems appear in POETRY, The Iowa Review, Tin House, Guernica, Fence, The Missouri Review, Denver Quarterly, Washington Square Review, Redivider, Court Green, The Awl, Drunken Boat, et al. You can read the online ones HERE.

Broder received her BA from Tufts University and her MFA from City College of New York.  By day, she is Director of Media and Special Projects at NewHive. She lives in Venice, CA.

Monday, May 16, 2016

This Week at The Life and Lies

Lots of exciting things this week guys! I have had an interesting time reading Deep Work shortly followed by So Sad Today, keep your eyes posted for the reviews for both coming up this week.

Also a little something special this weekend!

Reviews this week

Deep Work by Cal Newport

So Sad Today by Melissa Broder

Bloodmage by Steven Aryan

Author Watch: M. R. Carey

M. R. Carey (who also writes as Mike Carey and Adam Blake) is the author of The Girl with All the Gifts, and his new novel, Fellside. I loved the first and am super excited for the second!

About M. R. Carrey (from goodreads)

Mike Carey was born in Liverpool in 1959. He worked as a teacher for fifteen years, before starting to write comics. When he started to receive regular commissions from DC Comics, he gave up the day job.

Since then, he has worked for both DC and Marvel Comics, writing storylines for some of the world's most iconic characters, including X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR, LUCIFER and HELLBLAZER. His original screenplay FROST FLOWERS is currently being filmed. Mike has also adapted Neil Gaiman's acclaimed NEVERWHERE into comics.

Somehow, Mike finds time amongst all of this to live with his wife and children in North London. You can read his blog at www.mikecarey.net.

Read my review of The Girl with all the Gifts here!

About Fellside

About The Girl with All the Gifts

Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.

It's a place where even the walls whisper.

And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.

Will she listen?

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Snakewood

Snakewood by Adrian Selby, narrated by Joe Jameson 
Genre: Fantasy
ISBN: 9781478960935
Pub date: March 15th 2016 by Orbit
Rating: DNF

Snakewood’s first little bit (the intro and the first scene) started out really good, but it kept switching over to other little scenes and narrators, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. The text was full of Jargon (terms you would understand only if you worked the field) and it was hard to follow. I gave up after about an hour of listening. Just to make sure I wasn’t an idiot, I went on goodreads to see what others have said about the book and I discovered I wasn’t the only one.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sword of Destiny

Sword of Destiny: book # of The Witcher by Andrew Sapkowski, narrated by Peter Kenny.
Genre: Fantasy
ASIN: B017WP42JA
Pub date: December 2015 (Originally published in 1992)
Rating: 4.5

Sword of Destiny is one of the books earlier in the Witcher series. For some reason, the audio books were released out of order. I was totally okay with it, even though the journey has taken me around in a circle.

Gerald is younger and less grumpy (though less grumpy is still very grumpy by anyone else’s standards). We meet little Siri before she becomes Geralt’s Destiny (whatever that means) and get a little more insight on who they are, and how he and Siri became what they are today. It’s filled with mini-adventures that involve dragons, magic, mermaids, evil creatures, and our favorite sorceress, Yennifer.

There are a few sections where it feels like there’s a track missing, even though there isn’t. It jumps around and skips stuff and expects you to follow along and go with it, and I found it disorientating. Even with those few sections, and even though I listened to them out of order, it’s still an excellent adventure that I’d recommend to anyone who has a love of fantasy, action, adventure, and romance!

Content/Recommendation: Some sexual content, plenty of blood and gore. Ages 18+

Amazon | Audible | Goodreads

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Warlords and Waistrels

Warlords and Waistrels by Julia Knight, narrated by Angèle Masters 
Genre: historical urban fantasy, adventure, action
ISBN: 9781478960683
Pub date: December 15th 2015 by Orbit
Rating: 4

This series was a great start that kind of had a dead point in the middle, then got really good again with this third book, then the last little bit was kind of a let-down. The book itself, the plot, the twists and surprises, the murder, it was all great. But the ending and how it finished was very unsatisfactory. It felt like it came out of nowhere. It made some big changes to the characters lives. I feel like if you’re going to make a big change, you need to hint at it, leave some little for-shadowing clues in the body of the work, etc. Don’t just throw someting at me at the last page. That was the only part of the book I didn’t like.

All in all it was a good conclusion and a nice finish to a fun and exciting story. Not a Joe Abercrombie or a James Patterson or a Gail Carriger, but still fun and lots of swordfights. And we all know swordfights are really the only reason I listen to audiobooks.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

About the Book

The epic conclusion to the fast-paced new adventure fantasy series, the Duelists trilogy, from one of the most exciting new talents in fantasy.

Vocho and Kacha may be known for the first swordplay in the city of Reyes, but they've found themselves backed into a corner too often for their liking.

Finally reinstated into the Duelist's Guild for services rendered to the prelate, who has found himself back in charge, Vocho and Kacha are tasked with bringing a prisoner to justice. But this prisoner is none other than Kacha's old flame Egimont. The prelate wants him alive, and on their side. However the more they discover of Egimont and his dark dealings with the magician, the more Kacha's loyalties are divided. Soon she must choose a side -- the prelate or the king, her brother or her ex-lover.

The fate of Reyes is balanced on a knife-edge...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Legends and Liars

Legends and Liars by Julia Knight, narrated by Angèle Masters
Genre: Historical Urban fantasy, thriller, action/adventure
ISBN: 9781478960485
Pub date: November 10, 2015 by Orbit
Rating: 3

Legends and Liars was full of exciting moments with two of my new favorite characters. The writing was good and the wit was in rare form. The biggest problem I had with this book was there wasn’t any real plot. A lot of things happened, but there was no real plot that can be summarized in one word, asside from a lot of riding horses and trying not to die. Though trying not to die is really important! But it’s not really a plot.

I still enjoyed the book, and it did move the overall story along… I just wish there had been that one distinct overall thing to center everything. It feels like a bridge, not a stepping stone. I am already reading the third book in the series!

read my review for Book 1 here!

 

About the Book

Legends and Liars is the second book in the Duelist's trilogy -- a fast-paced adventure from one of the most exciting new talents in fantasy.

Vocho and Kacha are brother and sister, and between them they've got quite a reputation. They were once know for the finest swordplay in the city of Reyes. The only problem is, ever since they were thrown out of the Duelist's Guild for accidentally killing a man they were sworn to protect, it seems everyone wants them dead. Including a dark magician whose plans they recently thwarted...

Now Vocho and Kacha are in the midst of an uneasy truce, not sure whether to trust each other, or anyone else for that matter. What's more, the sinister magician is rumored to have returned. Now he knows who was behind the failure of his last plan, he's determined to put a stop to Vocho and Kacha permanently.

And this time, the flash of steel may not be enough to save them.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author site

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Un-review: Chasing the Dime

Chasing the Dime by Michael Connolley, narrated by Jonathan Davis
Genre: crime thriller
ISBN: 9780446611626
Pub date: 2002
rating: DNF

I woke up, and rubbed my eyes. I pushed myself up. my shoulders hurt. Probably from all the hard work I did yesterday, sitting in front of a computer and debating about a review I wrote. I rolled my neck. Slowly I pushed myself up, swung my legs over the side of my bed, and stood up. I was cold. I decided it was a good idea to grab a bath-robe or something.

Pointless jabber. That’s what that feels like. Tons of stupid little details that I don’t really need to know and really don’t care about.

The whole book so far has read like the above paragraph. I don’t want to know the details behind setting up your voicemail. I felt like this whole section so far could have been done in one or two chapters rather than te several that I’ve listened to so far. It was boring, slow, and redundant. I’ll always give a book a chance, but I don’t have time to waste on walking into the office, signing into the log, and noticing all the little details about old coffee cups and ugly posters on the wall, and the memories associated with them.

Which is really too bad, because there’s a great story in there. But the execution was poor.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

Friday, May 6, 2016

Best Served Cold

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, narrated by Steven Pacey 
Genre: Fantasy, adventure
ISBN: 9781478910800
Pub date: February 16th 2016 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Rating: 5

I loved this book. From the first chapter it threw you into a complicated and exciting story. I fell in love with characters only to have them slaughtered minutes later. And from there, the story began to unfold.

There was violence, sex, adventure, surprises, poison, and lots of bad choices. Characters we loved back in the first part of the First Law series came back up but showed a different side. We met several new characters in this book, and I can’t wait to see them again. I definitely recommend this book to anyone willing to put in the hours—it’s not as long as some of Abercrombie’s books, but it’s still 24 hours long (it took me about a week to get through).

One of the things I love about A is his writing style. There is so much clever repetition, he drops subtle hints, and little things come back to show their face that you didn’t expect. Of course it was expertly and beautifully narrated by Steven Pacey.

Literally the only thing I didn’t like about this book is the fact that when I looked it up and went to find the cover image, it has a blonde on the cover. GUYS IT CLEARLY SAYS MANY TIMES THAT MONZCARO MURCATTO HAS BLACK HAIR. This is not complicated.

About the Book

Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started...

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author Website

About the Author

Joe Abercrombie was educated at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and Manchester University, where he studied psychology. He moved into television production before taking up a career as a freelance film editor. During a break between jobs he began writing The Blade Itself in 2002, completing it in 2004. It was published by Gollancz in 2006 and was followed by two other books in The First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings. He currently lives and works in London with his wife and daughter. In early 2008 Joe Abercrombie was one of the contributors to the BBC Worlds of Fantasy series, alongside other contributors such as Michael Moorcock, Terry Pratchett and China Mieville.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Chimera

Chimera by Mira Grant, narrated by Christine Lakin
Genre: Apocalyptic fantasy
ISBN: 9780316381031
Pub date: November 24th 2015 by Hachette Audio
Rating: 3

This was the final book in the Parasitology series that I started reading back when the first book came out. I really have the same thing to say about it as I did the other two books.

This whole book was filled with great plot twists and great characters. I didn’t expect the curveballs that were thrown at me, and I enjoyed the discovery and the unfolding of the story.

My complaints were the same as the other books as well. The series was a good concept with poor execution. I was frustrated on a regular basis by the writing style, grammar, and sentince structure (or lack therof). It was repetitive, exhausting, and at times, quite petty. I normally don’t comment on the writing style, except when it’s a problem. And in this case, it did distract from the story, and Sal’s constant interior monologue made me want to slap her. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed the book, I just would have enoyed it more if it had been written well.

The ending was somewhat lacking, and I would have liked to see more finality and more resolution from some of the characters. The plot ending itself was everything it needed to be, it was just a few little things that were missing; conversations that were never had, conflicts that were never resolved, characters that never fixed (or ended) their relationship. It wasn’t at all an “open ending,” but it wasn’t as closed as it could have been.

All in all I gave it the 3 star rating because it wasn’t a bad book and it wasn’t a waste of my time, it just wasn’t a good book either.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

*also I finished and wrote this review back in January and just realized I never put it up online. sorry!*

About the Book

The final book in Mira Grant's terrifying Parasitology trilogy.
The outbreak has spread, tearing apart the foundations of society, as implanted tapeworms have turned their human hosts into a seemingly mindless mob.
Sal and her family are trapped between bad and worse and must find a way to compromise between the two sides of their nature before the battle becomes large enough to destroy humanity and everything that humanity has built...including the chimera.
The broken doors are closing. Can Sal make it home?

Wake of Vultures

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen (book 1 of Shadow Series) narrated by Robin Miles
genre: supernatural urban fantasy with a hint of western? It was a weird mix.
ISBN: 9781478906209
Pub date: October 27th 2015 by Orbit
Rating: 3.5

Wake of Vultures was an exciting, fast paced, interesting read. It was fun and different for me. It wasn’t phenomenal. I would probably read the next one in the series, but I wouldn’t spend money on it.

The biggest problem I had with the story was I felt that it tried to deal with too many things at once. Racism, sexism, sexual identity, slavery, nudity, and religion are all important and heavy topics. All of them together in one YA urban fantasy novel? It’s a bit excessive. Even though I of all people understand that sometimes when a story comes to you, as an author, you can’t change your character! That’s just who they are! And don’t get me wrong, the story was great and I enjoyed listening to it, and I was totally caught up in it. But there were times when I would listen and something would come up and I’d be like “this is too much. this is ridiculous.” It felt like overkill.

That aside, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the sequel.

About the Book

A rich, dark fantasy of destiny, death, and the supernatural world hiding beneath the surface.

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She's a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don't call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn't understand what's under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding -- at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin... if the monsters along the way don't kill her first.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author Site

About the Author

Lila Bowen is a pseudonym for Delilah S. Dawson, who writes fantasy, horror, young adult, comics, and romance. She recently won the Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence from RT Book Reviews. Delilah loves fancy books, trail rides, adventures, and cupcakes and lives in the North Georgia mountains with her husband, children, a Tennessee Walking Horse named Polly, and a floppy mutt named Merle.

The Dead House

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich, narrated by Charlotte Perry and Christian Coulson
Genre: urban fantasy/psychological thriller, YA
ISBN: 9781478959830
Pub Date: September 15th 2015 by Little, Brown Young Readers
Rating: 5

This is one of the best, most intense, creepiest books I’ve ever read. I would read it again in a heartbeat. I would buy it for myself and for my friends. I would buy copies for a local library and make sure they always had one on the shelf.

This book is filled with mystery, magic, and incomprehensable events that never fully resolve themselves but still leave you feeling resolved at the end. It plays with concepts I don’t see often in YA, and doesn’t shy away from hard questions. There is some questionable content, so I wouldn’t recommend it to all ages. But I am totally adding Dawn Kurtagich to my Author Watch list and hope you will too!

I don’t want to say too much about the story itself because I don’t want to spoil it. I requested the book, forgot about it, and then picked it at random having absolutely no idea what it was about. Suffice to say I was completely enthralled and enjoyed every moment of it. I can’t stress this enough: GO GET A COPY OF THIS BOOK IMEDIATELY. Audio, print, e-book, whatever. You will not be sorry.

Content/recommendation: some language, some sex, some violence. Most of the violence is mental torture the main character endures. Some witch-craft. Ages 16+.

About the Book

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you've finished reading.

About the Author
(from Goodreads)

Dawn Kurtagich is a writer of creepy, spooky and psychologically sinister YA fiction, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and grown-ups may have something to hide. Her debut YA novel, The Dead House, is forthcoming from Hachette in 2015.
By the time she was eighteen, she had been to fifteen schools across two continents. The daughter of a British globe-trotter and single mother, she grew up all over the place, but her formative years were spent in Africa—on a mission, in the bush, in the city and in the desert.

She has been lucky enough to see an elephant stampede at close range, a giraffe tongue at very close range, and she once witnessed the stealing of her (and her friends’) underwear by very large, angry baboons. (This will most definitely end up in a book . . . ) While she has quite a few tales to tell about the jumping African baboon spider, she tends to save these for Halloween!

She writes over at the YA Scream Queens, a young adult blog for all things horror and thriller, and she is a member of the YA League and Author Allsorts.

Her life reads like a YA novel.

Amazon | Goodreads | Author Website| Audible

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Rising

The Rising by Ian Tregillis, narrated by Chris Kayser
Genre: Steampunk, Historical fiction, sci-fi
ISBN: 9780316248013
pub date: December 2015
rating: 4

The Rising picks up exactly where The Mechanical left off, and I’d recommend reading them back to back.  I forgot some details of the previous story and had to figure them out as I went or remember them slowly. The narration was very slow and hard to follow at times, and I found myself having to really concentrate to keep my mind from getting distracted. The story itself was fulfilling, exciting, and successful.

I was very happy with the end! And it’s complete enough to not drive me crazy, but also open enough for another story if need be. I’m satisfied with The Rising and with the series as a whole, and hope to enjoy more great books in the future by Tragillis.

 

About the Book

The second book in the Alchemy Wars trilogy by Ian Tregillis, an epic tale of liberation and war.

Jax, a rogue Clakker, has wreaked havoc upon the Clockmakers' Guild by destroying the Grand Forge. Reborn in the flames, he must begin his life as a free Clakker, but liberation proves its own burden.

Berenice, formerly the legendary spymaster of New France, mastermind behind her nation's attempts to undermine the Dutch Hegemony -- has been banished from her homeland and captured by the Clockmakers Guild's draconian secret police force.

Meanwhile, Captain Hugo Longchamp is faced with rallying the beleaguered and untested defenders of Marseilles-in-the-West for the inevitable onslaught from the Brasswork Throne and its army of mechanical soldiers.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author website and goodreads

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All content is property of Haley Mathiot except where otherwise noted.

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