Thursday, June 18, 2015

Unveiling Motion and Emotion

Unveiling Motion and Emotion by Anabella Lenzu lenzu
Genre: Essay
Rating: 5

This is a collection of essays by Anabella Lenzu, a dancer and dance teacher who has a very clear and unique style of choreography and dance. She was a classically trained ballet dancer who then went forward into the modern dance scene and truly began to find herself. As a teacher myself, I find some of the things she said in her book to be the words surrounding ideas I couldn’t describe. Some of my favorites: “In my life, dance is a bridge that connects my inner and outer worlds.” and my personal favorite, “Dance is a means, not an end.”

I adore this book and will continue to read it for inspiration and encouragement!

Know your Beholder

Know your Beholder by Adam Rapp
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3, DNF

I got halfway through Know your Beholder before I quit. I still wouldn’t be able to tell you what it was about. It’s really too bad, to. I only had one problem with it.

It was like a lot of things happened, but nothing actually happened. There was no plot, just a bunch of events strung together with lyric, hilarious, over thesaurus-ized sentences. The writing itself was great and it was what kept me listening past the first track, but when I was halfway through and I still wasn’t sure what was going on, and I didn’t like the main character any more than I did when it started, I opted to spend my time on something else.

The Mechanical

The Mechanical by Ian Tragillis
Genre: Steampunk
Rating: 5
Amazon | Goodreads

The Mechanical surprised me. The first few chapters were hard to get into. It was so different than anything I’ve read. I’m not a fan of historical fiction (even if it is supernatural or steampunk) but I gave this book a chance based on a recommendation from a friend. I’m so glad I did.

The Mechanical is a wild ride through the lives of three characters; a catholic priest pretending to be protestant and smuggling information to New France, a female spy known in the legends as The Tallyrand, and Jax, the mechanical in question. The characters stories intertwine together to create a rich well-developed adventure of excitement, love, treachery, betrayal, and euphoric freedom. The book looks you in the eye and challenges the idea of free will, religion, and the tendency for us to believe everything the government wants us to believe.

In the beginning, I found the narrator hard to listen to, maybe because of his pacing, and steady non-fluctuating voice. But as I got more and more into the story, learned more about this world and what was going on, fell in love and hatred with the characters, I appreciated the way he read more. It worked for the characters and for the story.

I am super excited for the rest of this series and highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a well thought out story. Ages 17 + for some violence and sexual scenes.

My name is Jax.
That is the name granted to be by my human masters.
I am a clakker: a mechanical man, powered by alchemy. Armies of my kind have conquered the world - and made the Brasswork Throne the sole superpower.
I am a faithful servant. I am the ultimate fighting machine. I am endowed with great strength and boundless stamina.
But I am beholden to the wishes of my human masters.
I am a slave. But I shall be free.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Un-Review: Canary

Canary could have been really awesome… if. Why does there always have to be an “if?”

This was a case of “High Concept, Poor Execution.” Here’s the thing about this book: I didn’t like the main character. For an honors student, she was an idiot.

You meet this drug dealer. You kinda maybe not even sure if you like him but you might like him. You accidently become his accomplice in a deal and don’t realize it until after it’s over. Then you help him get away from a cop. And you defend him and refuse to give the cop info in exchange for you being completely removed from the evidence. Why?

You aren’t sure.

Thing is, that’s a really bad reason to not snitch on a drug dealer. If her dad was being held captive, or he had something important of hers, or if they’d been together for six years, those are all good reasons. But “I just met you and I’m not sure if I like you but I’m still not going to rat you out?” not a good reason.

Review: Touch

Touch by Claire North
Genre: Supernatural of some sort
Rating: 5

Touch was crazy. It threw you in at the first sentence. It hung on tight the whole story through. I was amazed at the beauty and ugliness of the thing that was the main character—whatever her…his…it’s name was. I was amazed at all of it. Up until the end when  I thought I would cry.

I didn’t want it to end, and when I finally figured out how it would, end I was furious. But I also knew there was literally no other way it could work; and yet it was still so hard to accept.

The mystery, the suspense, the back-story that fed into the current events, it was all enchanting and amazing and well written, and I will 100% read it again, and 100% recommend it to anybody. Claire North, you’re on my Author Watch.

As well as being well written, it was also well performed. I loved the voice chosen for the reader, it was read at a good speed, and it was read well.

Content/Recommendation: Some language. ages 15+

Review: The Forgotten Girls

The Forgotten Girls
Genre: Adult, Crime
Rating: 3

The Forgotten Girls was a pretty good book. I can’t say it was amazing, but it definitely wasn’t bad. It is a book in a series. It’s designed so you don't have to read the others to enjoy this one and even though I didn’t need the other books in the series to know what was going on, I did feel a little lost at times, and I felt like I was thrown into the middle of a movie (like I skipped the first scene) and it was disconcerting.

That being said, the story itself was okay. It was a good execution of a concept that just wasn't that high. The climax didn’t feel that phenomenal and I felt like it ended just as it got going.

All in all, it was a fine read, I wasn’t annoyed by it, I certainly enjoyed the process, but it didn’t force me to keep reading like some books, and I wasn’t that impressed with the overall experience.

Content/Recommendation: Some language, violence, rape scene (not overly-grotesque). Ages 18+

Review: Bombproof

Bombproof by Michael Rotbotham
Genre: Crime
Rating: 3.5

Bombproof was a fast-paced thriller with a reluctant hero who seriously just wanted all this *&$#%@ to be over with. The plot is detailed and well executed. There were only two spots through the story where I had trouble, and it was because it slowed down too much that I lost track of what was going on.

The end seemed a little abrupt, and I’m still not sure if I like it (though honestly it ended the only way it could have ended… and maybe that’s why I didn’t find it awesome or amazing). All in all it was an enjoyable fast-paced read with great characters and a very good plot. It wasn’t the most thrilling thriller I’ve ever read, but I would definitely read another book by Rotbotham again.

The narrator had a very deep gravely voice that I liked a lot, but it was hard to focus on at times. He did read at a good pace.

Content/Recommendation: Drugs, sex, alcohol, violence, and language. 17+

Prudence

Prudence: Book 1 of The Custard Protocol by Gail Carriger
Genre: YA Supernatural
Rating: 5 Stars!

I absolutely adore Prudence, both the book and the girl. I don’t have a single bad thing to say about it other than I wish I had the next book in the series right now, because I’m quite unhappy to leave her world.

Gail Carriger has a knack for making incredible characters full of life and wit and hilarity. Every story I’ve ever read by her has made me want to jump right into the book and live there. It doesn’t even matter which character I’d be, as long as I was there. Added to that is her eloquent, witty, and distinct writing style. I wholeheartedly recommend Prudence to any fan of YA fiction, drama, romance, adventure, or supernatural adventures in an air ship.

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Broken Monsters

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes 
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Rating: 3, DNF

Broken Monsters was what I call “High Concept, Poor Execution.” There were two major things that caused me to decide not to finish it.

The first reason: The story was written from several different characters perspectives, and it switched almost every chapter. Some books can get away with this (generally there are two or three PoV) but this one had like 5 different voices, and it was just too much to keep track of.

The second and most important reason: The relationship between the police officer and her daughter. Seriously, no police officer is going to pick up her high school daughter and start telling her all about the secret case they haven’t yet allowed the press to get wind of, or tell her details or hunches, or—what really set me off—have her daughter help her use a search engine to find photos from nasty crime scenes. You just don’t do that.

The premise was cool and the bad-guy was amazing (his PoV was my favorite) but I just couldn’t keep going with those two factors.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King
Genre: YA
Rating: 4.5

What would you say if I told you that you could acquire psychic magical abilities by mixing beer with the powdered remains of a petrified bat and drinking it?

You heard me.

I started this book without any idea what it was about. I just started listening to it. Sometimes I do that and allow myself to be pleasantly surprised, by genre and sex of the main character and all. I instantly liked Glory and her way of thinking. Glory sees straight through modern-day brainwashed crap and hides behind the shadow of her suicidal mom that nobody talks about. She and her slutty brainwashed ditzy friend drink a bat and gain super powers. And their lives change forever.

There are a lot of things that make up a good book, and this book was made good by the main character. I loved Glory. She is exactly how I felt as a teenager; “No I don’t have any friends, no I don’t really want any, I just want to decide how I feel about this.” Glory stood up and challenged her dad on some things, Glory did what she needed to do for the people in her life, even if she didn’t always feel like it, Glory grew up. She broke out of being afraid and hiding behind a camera and set off on the adventure of her life, even though she knew it would be scary and hard.

I would definitely re-read this book, and recommend it to anyone ages 14-adult.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Silkworm

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith*
Genre: Thriller
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Rating: 4 stars

Cormoran Strike and Robin have another murder on their hands, but this time, Strike is sure the police have accused the wrong person. Refusing to stand down and allow an innocent person to be blamed for the atrocious murder, he and Robin bend every rule in the book and use every wit they have to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I love Cormoran Strike and Robin, and I like this series so far. I read the first one right after it came out and was very happy with it. The Silkworm was an excellent piece of work, full of miniscule details, complex characters, intriguing dialogue, and an entrancing story. It was a little hard to follow because of how complex it was, and how many characters there were, but all together I was pleased with the story and how it turned out. It’s not Galbraith’s best work, but I still have high hopes for the series.

I was very happy with the narration of the book. To see the rest of Glenister’s audio recordings click here.

*Robert Galbraith is a pen name for J.K. Rowling.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Stolen Ones

The Stolen Ones by Richard Montanari
Genre: Crime Thriller
Rating: 4

A cold case comes to live with the discovery of a new body, a new murder, and multiple new connections. A two-year-old child is found standing in the middle of the street. A mysterious man in ragged clothing appears in a little girls closet completely out of nowhere. A woman disappears from her basement without having left her house. With the help of the rest of the experts in the Philadelphia Police Department, Detectives Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne unravel a chilling series of dream-like murders.

The Stolen Ones is book 7 of a series of detective novels. At the time of request, I was unaware of this fact, and I hoped that I would not be  confused because I hadn’t read the others. I’m happy to say that I had no trouble at all getting lost in this story. I am totally in love with Kevin Byrne and his snarky Irish attitude, and Jessica’s tough-girl-who-is-here-to-kick-ass mentality.

The story was incredibly complex, and a few times I found myself stopping and saying “wait, what? I’m confused.” I had to check to make sure I hadn’t skipped a track in the audiobook. I hadn’t, all was well… there were just some jarring sections that I think were hard to interpret because it was audio instead of printed. however all things considered it wasn’t enough to negatively affect the story.

The performance by William Hope was very good. I liked his voices and interpretations of the characters a lot, especially Kevin Byrne. He has done quite a few audiobooks, and his experience is obvious; he reads with a good authority, pace, and energy.

There were some gruesome details of violence so it is not for the faint of heart or stomach. It was enough to shock me, but it wasn’t anything I would regret listening to. I’d definitely recommend it to ages 18+ who are into the crime thriller genre.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Genocide of One

Genocide of One by Kazuaki Takano
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 5

Genocide of One completely blew my mind, multiple times. The plot twists just kept happening, new characters kept being introduced and then turning out to be totally different characters than I thought they’d be, and the adrenalin was pumping almost immediately. There were so many little things that became big later, so many details, so many connections, that I feel like if I read it again, it would be just as exciting, maybe more exciting the second time, because I might actually understand it on a deeper level. The ending was fulfilling but left opportunity and excitement. I definitely didn’t want it to end and I would read a sequel or another book by Takano in a heartbeat.

The book switches from one side of the world to the other every chapter. Initially I wasn’t sure how the two totally different stories were connected, but one connection at a time the two sides became one. There was a war thriller and a medical mystery happening at the same time and they were two different aspects of the same problem.

The hardest part of the book was the technical lingo and jargon in the medical chapters. I won’t say it was unnecessary because I’m not sure how else the author could have described the specifics of what went on, and being vague just wouldn’t have worked for this kind of story, but the jargon was a little hard to follow. I got won’t say I understand genetics now, but I do have a pretty good idea of what happened (medically speaking) in the story and I think it added to the book rather than taking away from it, so I’m okay with it.

The narration was excellent and not in any way distracting from the story. Joe Knezevich did an excellent job with all the different voices and accents, American and Japanese.

The bottom line is I loved this story and recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers or adventure stories. There was some violence during the war scenes, but it wasn’t gruesome or grotesque.

 Audible | Amazon | Goodreads

The internationally bestselling, award-winning Japanese thriller about a child who may be the future of the human race--or the cause of its extinction.

During a briefing in Washington D.C., the President is informed of a threat to national security: a three-year-old boy named Akili, who is already the smartest being on the planet. Representing the next step in human evolution, Akili can perceive patterns and predict future events better than most supercomputers, and is capable of manipulating grand-scale events like pieces on a chess board. And yet, for all that power, Akili has the emotional maturity of a child--which might make him the most dangerous threat humanity has ever faced.

An American soldier, Jonathan Yeager, leads an international team of elite operatives deep into the heart of the Congolese jungle under Presidential orders to destroy this threat to humanity before Akili's full potential can be realized. But Yeager has a very sick child, and Akili's advanced knowledge of all things, medicine included, may be Yeager's only hope for saving his son's life. Soon Yeager finds himself caught between following his orders and saving a creature with a hidden agenda, who plans to either save humanity as we know it--or destroy it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Danger is Everywhere

Danger is Everywhere by Docter Noel Zone (David O'Doherty)
Genre: Humor
Rating: DNF, 3.5 for what I did read

Danger is Everywhere was one of those books that would have been much better if I’d read it (physical or Kindle) instead of listened to it. All things considered the narrator did a good job, but there’s only so many acronyms one can keep straight without actually looking at the book. Not only that, the book had a definite voice to it, but the narration was just a little too much. It would have been much better if it had been an annoying voice in my head instead an annoying voice in my ear—and it was definitely supposed to be annoying (in a silly kind of way).

The premise of the book is clever and the examples and chapters are very funny. Part of the humor is how serious the book takes itself. But as I said earlier,the narration kind of killed it, and I couldn’t stick with it without getting a headache. Maybe one day I’ll become a Dangeroligist but I’ll have to get a paperback.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Is How You Die

This Is How You Die (edited by Ryan North)
Genre: Short stories
Rating: 4

I’m not a huge fan of short stories: I like to really get into the characters lives and the anticipation and the crescendo of a novel. Short stories, to me, feel like I’m thrown into a story, see a snippet of it, and am then jerked out. But one thing that really helped this collection not feel like that was how all the stories were about the same thing. Not the same plot, not the same people… but the same concept. A machine that tells you how you will die, and is absolutely never wrong? That’s a sticky situation. And each person had to figure out how to deal with it and it revealed a lot of humanity.

I was very pleased with this collection as a whole. I didn’t read the first one, and I don’t think you’d need to in order to enjoy it. I definitely liked some stories and some writers better than other, but all in all, it was very satisfying.

 

If a machine could predict how you would die, would you want to know? This is the tantalizing premise of This Is How You Die, the brilliant follow-up anthology to the self-published best seller, Machine of Death.
The machines started popping up around the world. The offer was tempting: With a simple blood test, anyone could know how they would die. But the machines didn't give dates or specific circumstances - just a single word or phrase. DROWNED, CANCER, OLD AGE, CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. And though the predictions were always accurate, they were also often frustratingly vague. OLD AGE, it turned out, could mean either dying of natural causes, or being shot by an elderly, bedridden man in a botched home invasion. The machines held on to that old-world sense of irony in death: You can know how it's going to happen, but you'll still be surprised when it does.
This addictive anthology - sinister, witty, existential, and fascinating - collects the best of the thousands of story submissions the editors received in the wake of the success of the first volume, and exceeds the first in every way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rags and Bones

Rags and Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales, a compilation edited by Melissa Marr
Genre: Short Stories (supernatural)
Rating: 4.5

Rags and bones stripped down stories that were important to the author and allowed for a new telling, a blank canvas, a skeleton for new musculature. it was one of the most interesting collections I've ever read and every story had something interesting about it. The writers selected to participate in the project were all excellent. Some of the stories I was able to figure out which story they came from, but others I didn’t know, and some I intend to read. I really liked that each story had an author’s note explaining their reason for picking the story they did.

I don’t typically like short stories because I feel like I can’t get into the story until I’m being pulled out again because it’s over. And I did definitely stop between stories and think about each one for a while. But I was impressed and enraptured with Rags and Bones. It is one of my new favorites. I recommend it to anyone who likes short stories, or who needs something to think through.

The best writers of our generation retell the classics.
From Sir Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen to E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops," literature is filled with sexy, deadly, and downright twisted tales. In this collection, award-winning and bestselling authors reimagine their favorite classic stories, the ones that have inspired, awed, and enraged them, the ones that have become ingrained in modern culture, and the ones that have been too long overlooked. They take these stories and boil them down to their bones, and then reassemble them for a new generation of young adult readers.
Written from a twenty-first century perspective and set within the realms of science fiction, dystopian fiction, fantasy and realistic fiction, these short stories are as moving and thought provoking as their originators. They pay homage to groundbreaking literary achievements of the past while celebrating each author's unique perception and innovative style.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It does not get easier

I’m going to post just a little tid-bit here.

I started this blog when I was in High School. I was a terrible high-schooler, I did very little work and spent most of my time reading, growing this blog, and dancing (and pretending to do homework). I thought I’d have so much more time to do blog stuff when I went to college (I had significantly less) and that I’d have even more time when I graduated (2014 had something like seven blog posts, and that’s being generous). However one thing I’ve learned is that you have to make time for something you want.

Hence the reason I’ve cut down on memes and weekly posts like Exploring Etsy and monthly review stuff. I’m less concerned about pageviews, followers, and contests. And maybe I don’t get as many visitors, but you know what?… it’s a lot more fun to listen to an audiobook and write a review on it when I get the opportunity than force myself to read fifteen books a month and have five to ten blog posts a week.

That being said, here is my advice to bloggers or people considering starting a blog:

1. You can make it whatever you want it to be, but don’t bite off more than you can chew

2. If you aren’t enjoying it, don’t do it

3. If it’s not working for you, there’s always room to make changes.

Thanks guys! hope to see more of you this year since I’ve gotten more into the habit of listening to audiobooks than anything. so many more reviews coming soon!

Waistcoats and Weaponry

Waistcoats and Weaponry, by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quirk 
Genre: YA, Steampunk
Rating: 5

I loved Waistcoats and Weaponry as much and maybe more as the rest of the books in the series. Sophronia just keeps getting better. I won’t spoil anything, but she’s growing up, learning how serious life is, planning for her future, dealing with boys, and getting into mischief with her friends. I loved every second of it and am dying for the next one. I hope it’s the last because I want to know how it ends, but at the same time I don’t want it to end because it’s so clever and exciting.

The series demands to be taken seriously. Looking at a summary of the series it would be hard to take it seriously (Hey I’ve been reading this steampunk series about a girl who goes to a floating finishing school that trains her to be a secret agent spy intelligencer type person, and she takes classes about taking high tea but also how to kill people with bladed fans, and she’s friends with the kids who keep the school floating, and there’s vampires and warewolves and robots and a school for evil geniuses, and she keeps getting herself in trouble with this band of anti-supernatural men who try to blow up trains with cannons…) It’s kind of hard to read or hear someone tell you all that and not raise an eyebrow (or both). But the thing is, the writing and the language takes itself seriously, and transports you into a place where you can throw yourself into the story and take it seriously, which is the only real way to enjoy it. I admire Carriger’s writing style and plan to read more of her work.

Moira’s reading was as good as always, and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. If you haven’t listened to her work, check out this link to the audible books she’s done.

Ettiquite and Espionage | Curtsies and Conspiracies | Waistcoats and Weaponry | Manners and Mutiny

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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.