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

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The First Law series review

The First Law series by J: The Blade Itself, Before they are Hanged, The Last Arguement of Kings

First of all, these  were some of the longest books I’ve listened to in a while. I’ve been plugging away on these suckers for over a month. some of the tracks are an hour or longer. So if you like long books, it’s worth the time investment! this is a great series for a long road trip, a summer (winter) vacation, or to play in the background while you attack a major knitting project.

All three books have a part 1 and a part 2. Part 1 of the first book was spent introducing a huge variety of characters that didn’t seem to have anything to do with each other; in fact they didn’t even feel like they were living in the same world. I did put the story down and move away from it a few times, because there wasn’t much plot or connection between them. Even though it was interesting, funny, and well written, that first part seemed very disconnected.

I told myself I’d listen to one more track. So I did, and that one track was the one where everything started falling together. Not only were they in the same world, they would be going on the same adventure and working together to save the world from an evil king, a crazy wizard, and magical zombies.

I love a good war story.

 

Each story left off with a stunning finish that begged for more. Even the last one; though it was open enough that anything could happen, you’re pretty sure you know. All the loose ends are tied up: bad guys die, people get their revenge, the king gets married, the deserving are promoted, and the drunks get… less drunk than normal.

If you’re into action, adventure, fantasy, or bloody thrillers, this series will keep you busy for a good long time!

Content and Recommendation: Ages 18+. Some sex (I’ll tell you know it’s awkward not great, even worse when you’re listening to it, not reading it). Plenty of language. Lots of violence; war scenes, murder, and cutting off body parts. One of the main characters is a torturer, okay? This one isn’t for the faint of heart. And don’t listen to it while you’re eating.

About the Books

Wizards, inquisitors, mysterious objects, bothersom politics, famous northern sword fighters, and silly self-absorbed nobles unite to save their home country in an unlikely team.

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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Murder House

The Murder House by James Patterson
Genre: Crime Thriller
ISBN: 9780316410984
Published: September 28th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 3.5

James Patterson is one of those writers who I should know to avoid because his story will consume my life, but I know it’ll be worth it, so I listen to it anyway and then in the middle of it, my face looks like this:

Person 1 killed person 3 but person 2 gets blamed but actually person 25 killed 74. PSYCH you thought you had it figured out. Oh, here’s one random fact that doesn’t add up. And now we’re back to square one, but with more hoops to jump through.

Now my face looks like this:

Finally about 3/4 through the way, I figured out who the bad guy was. But I made an assumption (I won’t share it, to keep this review spoiler-free) and when that truth was revealed, my face looked like this:

So there was the adventure of listening to The Murder House.

As far as the book itself, there were good things and bad things. Some of the good things included the rollercoaster mentioned above of feeling like patterson was just messing with my head, the fact that the characters were so clearly defined and constructed, and the plot itself.

Some of the not so good things included the violent descriptive murder scenes (which is one of the reasons I didn’t continue with the Alex Cross series. I quit after Kiss the Girls.). I understand those scenes were in there to make me hate the bad guy and desperately want him to get caught and go to jail, but I also wasn’t happy with how descriptive it was.

There was also a lot of overdramatic moments between some of the characters that made me want to roll my eyes, even in the heat of a very serious moment.

Lastly, Patterson is great at writing violence and murder, but not so great at writing subtley-blosoming romance between two unlikely characters. It felt awkward.

Overall I have mixed feelings about The Murder House. It was an excellent story, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who can’t handle a good murder scene. The writing isn’t phenomenal, but I also enjoyed 85% of my time spent listening to it. So make your judgement on how you tend to respond to violence and gore, and let me know what your face ends up looking like.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

 

About the Book

No. 7 Ocean Drive is a gorgeous, multi-million-dollar beachfront estate in the Hamptons, where money and privilege know no bounds. But its beautiful gothic exterior hides a horrific past: it was the scene of a series of depraved killings that have never been solved. Neglected, empty, and rumored to be cursed, it's known as the Murder House, and locals keep their distance.
Detective Jenna Murphy used to consider herself a local, but she hasn't been back since she was a girl. Trying to escape her troubled past and rehabilitate a career on the rocks, the former New York City cop hardly expects her lush and wealthy surroundings to be a hotbed of grisly depravity. But when a Hollywood power broker and his mistress are found dead in the abandoned Murder House, the gruesome crime scene rivals anything Jenna experienced in Manhattan. And what at first seems like an open and shut case turns out to have as many shocking secrets as the Murder House itself, as Jenna quickly realizes that the mansion's history is much darker than even the town's most salacious gossips could have imagined. As more bodies surface, and the secret that Jenna has tried desperately to escape closes in on her, she must risk her own life to expose the truth--before the Murder House claims another victim.
Full of the twists and turns that have made James Patterson the world's #1 bestselling writer, THE MURDER HOUSE is a chilling, page-turning story of murder, money, and revenge.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Manners and Mutiny

Manners and Mutiny by Gail Carriger, Narrated by Moira Quirk 
Genre: Steampunk, Historical Urban Fantasy, Romance, YA
ISBN: 9780316190282
Published: November 3rd 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5

I’ve been looking forward to this book since I finished the last one. Gail Carriger is one of my favorite writers. Hers are the books I’d sit down on an empty weekend to re-read the entire series, just to try to relive the excitement and the brilliance of the plot, and the life of the characters.

At the beginning of the series we see Sophronia hiding in a dumbwaiter and dropping a trifle on a guest. She’s a rambunctious, over energetic, stir crazy girl. But by the end of the series, she has grown into an elegant, cunning, and well finished lady. Mind you she is still our beloved Sophronia! just with a little more…Qualite’.

The story tied up every loose end in an epic and fulfilling conclusions that leaves the reader satisfied for the opportunities in the characters futures. We don’t need to know every detail of their futures: we know they will succeed in making their own way. I am so happy with the way this series ended!

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

About the Book

If one must flirt…flirt with danger.
Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine’s floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia’s sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she’s not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the ever-stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition, Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster—in decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.
What will become of our proper young heroine when she puts her years of training to the test? Find out in this highly anticipated and thrilling conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Finishing School series!

 

About the Author

Check out my interview with Gail Carriger here!
Gail Carriger writes comedic steampunk mixed with urbane fantasy in three series: two adult, the Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol, and one YA, the Finishing School series. Her books are published in eighteen different languages. She has twelve NYT bestsellers via six different lists (including #1 in Manga). She has received the Alex Award from the ALA (for her debut Soulless) and the Prix Julia Verlanger and the Elbakin Award from French readers. She was once an archaeologist and is overly fond of tea.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Swords and Scoundrels

Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9781478960164
Published: October 6th 2015 by Orbit
Rating: 4.5
This was a fun beginning to a great new trilogy. A brother and sister’s relationship that is all fun and games on the outside, but on the inside is so real in it’s rocky ships and stormy seas. There is tension and emotion from love and hate, and confusion from not-quite-love mixed with not-quite-hate. The characters are brilliant and complex, the magic is deep, and the story twists and turns like the city it sits on. I’m super excited for the next turn of the series!
Amazon | Goodreads | Audible
 

About The Book

Two siblings.
Outcasts for life.... together.
What could possibly go wrong?

Vocho and Kacha are champion duelists: a brother and sister known for the finest swordplay in the city of Reyes. Or at least they used to be-until they were thrown out of the Duelist's Guild.
As a last resort, they turn reluctant highwaymen. But when they pick the wrong carriage to rob, their simple plans to win back fame and fortune go south fast.
After barely besting three armed men and a powerful magician, Vocho and Kacha make off with an immense locked chest. But the contents will bring them much more than they've bargained for when they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous plot to return an angry king to power....
Swords and Scoundrels is the first book in The Duelist's Trilogy -- a tale of death, magic, and family loyalty.

About the Author

Julia Knight is married with two children, and lives with the world’s daftest dog that is shamelessly ruled by the writer’s obligatory three cats. She lives in Sussex, UK and when not writing she likes motorbikes, watching wrestling or rugby, killing pixels in MMOs. She is incapable of being serious for more than five minutes in a row.



Monday, December 28, 2015

Un Reviews

What’s an un-review? It’s a reason why I didn’t read it. If I start a book and there’s no good reason to quit then I’ll read all the way through it. But if there is a good reason for me to stop, I will. These are the books I didn’t read, and why.

After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, and Rob DeFranco
I found this book dull and overdramatic. An orphan girl in a hard world sees a pretty naked boy. He has special powers. She’s framed for murder. I don’t see a plot here, just a bunch of things happening with lots of emotional rushes.

Spy Games by Adam Brookes – This book was not catching. I tried twice to get into it but both times I just couldn’t stay with the characters, or in the world. actually some of them were kind of annoying. this was disappointing because I absolutely love crime novels and spy books.

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson – There was no plot. The first hour and a half of the book, I was still just barely understanding the world. And if the first hour and a half is just character development and world building, I’m sorry, but you’re not a story teller, you’re a world builder. It was a brilliant world, don’t get me wrong. But the only thing that happened in the first hour and a half was she got ice cream and then went outside, saw some boys, and went back inside.

Atlas of Cursed Places by Olivier Carrer – This was the kind of book that should be flipped through. Acoffee-table book, a book given to a history buff, a book to read to yourself. I found the audiobook boring and dry, and hard to focus on. Not all books are good for audio. This isn’t a reflection of the book, more the fact that it didn’t make a good audio production.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Gameshouse

The Gameshouse Series by Claire North
Genre: Urban Magic
Published November 2015
Rating: 5
Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

The Gameshouse is a novella series by Claire North, author of Touch and several other books. She is a stunning writer with a distinct and mysterious writing style that engages the reader and forces them to think harder and harder with every passing page.

The first novella, The Serpant,
proved a beautiful introduction to the world in which the Gameshouse resides, which is our world, except not. It’s a world in which there are cunning, clever, devious, and skilled players using our world as a game board. The game might be an election, a war, or something more simple such as hide and seek. But they play for more than money. They play for years of their lives, their love of the taste of strawberries, a memory, the affections of the person they last loved, the richness of the color purple… or something more detrimental: if I win, you take my asthma. If you win, I take your constant migraines.

The story begins with a beautiful portrait and backstory of our main character Thini, who later becomes a crucial piece in a bigger game. Her game is played, the game is won, and the world goes on.

The second novella, The Thief, shows us a more detailed and in-depth look at the
Gameshouse and how it works, and how sometimes, not all games are fair. Remy plays hide and seek with a highly skilled player whose record of finding someone is 11 days. If Remy wins, he gains 20 years of the other man’s life. If he loses, he forfeits all of his memories. All of them. A hungover older player against a highly skilled young man who only plays when he knows he can win leaves us with a thrilling and unexpected end to an unbalanced match. But it ends, and the world goes on.

The third story The Master ties the other two together in the ultimate game. The final game, the Great Game. A great player, known only by the name Silver, challenges the Gamesmaster, the woman all in white behind a veil, who is in charge of the Gameshouse. The doors of the Gameshouse shut and both players use every piece they have to play a giant game of chess with the world. The winner will have the rights to the Gameshouse. The loser dies. But Silver is not a normal player. Silver has a different goal for the outcome. And when the last move comes to play, he has to make a choice. And so he leaves that choice up to the one thing he doesn’t have control over. Luck. And the world goes on.



This series was frustrating and exciting. The ending left me frustrated (okay, yes, I did spend some time ranting out loud). But it was in a good way. The story was finished and whatever happens after that doesn't really matter because the world still goes on. This is a series that plays with the reader's mind just as much as the players in the book play their pieces.


Step through the silver doors. And flip your coin.

About Claire North
Claire North is actually Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated young-adult novel author whose first book, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was just 14 years old. She went on to write seven more successful YA novels.  She also writes under the pseudonym Kate Griffin.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Dressed in Knits

Dressed in Knits: 19 Designs for Creating a Custom Knitwear Collection by Alex Capshaw-Taylor
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 9781620339466
Published: November 27th 2015 by Interweave Press
Rating: 4.5

This book is Super-classy. I mean, like, some of these patterns, I’d fell like I would have to do my hair and makeup just to make them, let alone wear them. they’re highly elegant and very flattering (at least, they are on the models). All of them except one, a random cropped jacket that’s all bobbles. It didn’t fit with the rest of the collection at all. These were the kind of sweaters and camisoles you go into an expensive shop and you’re afraid to touch the yarn because it’s like a whole paycheck if you accidently get something on it.

Classy.

There were several light sweaters and cardigans, a few designed for outerwear, a camisole, a couple dresses, a hat, and a purse. I was a little surprised not to see a skirt in the collection but I did love what was there.

Also. One of the prettiest cabled sweaters I’ve ever seen.

The book also details how to go about measuring, fitting, and sizing your new classy wardrobe. There were clear instructions and diagrams all the way through. Most of the patterns use needles between size 5 and 7. There are a few size 3, and the projects that are felted use 10.5. I’d recommend to intermediate knitters who want a really nice project but don’t want to go highly complicated.

About the Book
Knit your own couture wardrobe!

As a knitter, you know the appeal of creating a piece that can go from home to office, from weekday to weekend--and, most importantly, that looks flattering on your figure. But that can be easier said than done! Until now.

Knitwear designer Alex Capshaw-Taylor has created a collection of 19 knitted garments and accessories featuring timeless, high-fashion designs that are refreshingly easy to wear.

In "Dressed in Knits," you'll experiment with a variety of techniques including multidirectional knitting, colorwork (intarsia and stranded), cabling, and more. Unique to this guide is helpful information devoted to educating knitters on couture details that produce designer quality finished pieces. Alex will demonstrate proper seeming, picking up stitches, applying beads, turning a hem, creating pockets, steeking, adding zippers to knitwear, and more. Helpful tips on styling finished garments will also be sprinkled throughout the book, like how adding a belt to a piece can change the silhouette giving it a totally different look.

"Dressed in Knits" isn't just another knitting book. It's your fashion-forward guide to a whole new wardrobe

Amazon | Goodreads | Ravelry

Friday, December 4, 2015

Free Spirit Knits

Free Spirit Knits by Anne Podlesak
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 9781620339497
Published:  November 13th 2015 by Interweave Press
Rating: 4

This was a really cute, fun book. Really nice designs, lots of orange and blue and brown and gold, solid bases with strips of simple fair isle patterns worked into the edges or the middle, or simple lace worked down the back of an otherwise solid sleeve. I love the southwest, and the patterns were reminiscent of the places they were named after. I really liked all the patterns, except one really awful random sweater that I don’t think anyone with any friends would wear in public. Some of them really represented the landmark or location they were named after, but others just looked free-spirit-ish because of the other clothing the models were wearing.

Most of the patterns are worked size 5-7 needles, with some smaller stuff thrown in there too. Each pattern has several photographs and charts. The sweaters have drawings of the composition. It is mostly sweaters, a few wraps and shawls, a hat, a pair of socks, a scarf, and a cowl. Recommended for intermediate knitters who have their hearts set on Nevada and Wyoming’s autumn nights.

About the Book
Knit your wildest dreams using windswept color and texture!

In "Free Spirit Knits" author Anne Podlesak shares a gorgeous collection of 20 knitted garments and accessories that combine the richly-colored beauty of the high desert with a sense of play and adventure.

The pieces, for both men and women, have beautiful silhouettes and rich color palettes. From a gorgeous knitted cardigan-style coat (Grand Canyon Coat) to monochromatic knitted socks (Petroglyph Socks) to the lace knitting techniques showcased in the Aspens sweater, you'll love creating each stunning project. Wild-at-heart knitters of every skill level will find something to make and love.

Whether your nearest canyon is made of rock or skyscrapers, treat yourself to the collection that will see you knitting off into the sunset.

Amazon | Goodreads | Ravelry

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Poetic Crochet

Poetic Crochet: 20 Shawls Inspired by Classic Poems by Sara Kay Hartmann
Genre: Crochet
ISBN: 9781632500069
Published: October 22nd 2015 by Interweave Press
Rating: 4

If you like shawls that are elegant, artistic, and inspiring, this is the book for you. This is a stunning compilation of different crochet lace shawls inspired by different well known poems. There is a variety of shape, size, weight, texture, and pattern, but each is beautiful and distinct in it’s own right.

Now I prefer a heavier weight of yarn, larger hook, and simple stitches. Almost all of the patterns used DK weight, and the ones that used lace weight still used a larger hook. Some people won’t like that (or even consider it lace) but I really like it. I like working big, I can see what I’m doing, and I think the intricate stitching looks nicer with larger stitches. The stitches themselves were also not very complicated, just a really nice arrangement of beginner and intermediate stitches. This isn’t an advanced lace shawl book. It’s for beginner/intermediate crocheters ready for their next new, big project.

I would have liked for each pattern to have the poem it’s based off of written near it. It was done for just one of the patterns (Traveler) and I would have liked the others to be there as well. I can’t help but wonder if they were all supposed to have quotes on them? Why would just one have it? Lastly I would have liked to see the flat photograph (or at least a full diagram or drawing of the pieces). As lovely as the artistic photographs are, it’s very helpful to see the piece laid out flat.

Also the author’s name was spelled wrong on the back, so I’m not sure how well the inside and the patterns were edited. But we’ll give the editors the benefit of the doubt.

 

About the Book
Crocheted shawls inspired by classic poetry!

Just as poetry laces together the simplest of words into dramatic lyrical pieces, "Poetic Crochet" uses basic stitches to create a romantic, breathtaking collection of shawls and wraps.

When creating this classic, wearable collection of shawls, wraps, and stoles, you'll explore a variety of shawl shapes, construction techniques, borders, and edgings. Author Sara Kay Hartman shares her tips for selecting the fibers that work best in shawl making, how to achieve a beautiful drape, how to play with gauge when crocheting shawls, and more.

The patterns in "Poetic Crochet" won't require any special technique knowledge, but rather they have been designed to highlight the simple sophistication achievable with the most basic of stitches. Crocheters with any experience level, beginner to advanced, will find something rewarding--and poetic--in this inspired collection of 20 projects.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Ravelry

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

No reviews may be copied or reprinted except to quote, or with permission.

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I do not post a disclosure on every blog post, I post them beside the title on my Reviews page. Click here for my Disclaimer. See Sources to see my suppliers of review copies.