Saturday, August 29, 2015

August Mini-Reviews

Title: A Curse of Ash and Iron
Author: Christine Norris
Out of Ten: 6/10
Review: Overall this book was a fun read. While the cover is very steampunk, the novel itself is more fantasy with steampunk elements. The main focus is on Ellie and the curse she finds herself under- her father is ill and no longer capable of recognising her, the rest of the world sees another girl's face when they look at her, and she is unable to speak her own name. Its a retelling of Cinderella, and it is always interesting to pick out how elements of the fairy tale tie in to a retelling, so that contributed to my overall interest in the story.

While the plot of Ellie and Ben, a friend and aspiring illusionist, attempting to undo the curse laid on her by her stepmother before time runs out was enjoyable, I decidedly did not enjoy the romantic aspect of the story. It felt both forced and unnecessary, and really detracted from my interest in reading- especially because it was a love triangle. While I don't exactly hate them on principle, they have to be well done to be enjoyable, and this, unfortunately, wasn't. The issue of the romance aside, however, this was quite a quick, enjoyable read.

Title: Dead Upon a Time
Author: Elizabeth Paulson
Out of Ten: 6/10
Review: First thing that we need to address: on my ARC there's a little byline thing on the cover. It is an allusion to Disney's Frozen, and I may have shrieked in despair inside, but tried not to let it warp my view of the novel's contents. I hop you appreciate my self control. Moving on to the actual book: it was alright. There were pages where I was wholly engaged, and there were stretches where I just wasn't. The major flaw in this story is that nothing in this world is really explained or expanded on in any more than the most superficial way.

It is an quick read, and, while I enjoyed parts of it, the weaknesses in the structure of the world and plot really decreased my engagement with the story. I found myself asking very basic questions about the plot- I constantly felt that I was missing something, as though I were reading the third of fourth book in a series without reading the novels preceding it, almost. I did enjoy the characters and the general plot, despite the incomplete feeling of the story, and would have liked to see it fleshed out more.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bout of Books 14: Day 2


  • A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz: 132 pages
  • Ink and Bone: The Great Library by Rachel Caine: I haven't read any of this today, but I'm going to try to read some tonight.

This Week: 

  • A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz: 274 pages
  • Ink and Bone: The Great Library by Rachel Caine: 8 pages


I know the photo isn't great, but I left this until late, so I have zero daylight.
1. A Book that begins with “B”  (for Bout of Books!): Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore
2. A book you’re planning to read/currently reading for Bout of Books: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
3. Blue Book(s): Most of my books are blue in this post for mysterious and/or thematic reasons. Pick any, Bitterblue is the most blue, but Ink and Bone is dominantly blue, and so is Empire of Night.
4. Books from your favorite genre: I have a lot of favourite genres. It basically boils down to "not contemporary" but here's two, Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong (fantasy) and Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel (steampunk, but not forced).
5. A book on your TBR shelf, or your full TBR shelves: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. I have been resisting the urge to open this one until I finish my August ARCs.

Review: A History of Glitter and Blood

Title: A History of Glitter and Blood
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: August 18, 2015

Synopsis: Life in the city of Ferrum has its hazards for a fairy like Beckan. Gnomes will try to eat you, with the added unpleasantness of the fact that you'll be able to feel the appendage as it is digested. Fairies are immortal- they cannot die. Not even when they've been shredded to pieces. Beckan stayed when almost all of the other fairies left, and survives as a sex worker for the same species that would eat her. Making your way in a city where you're on of the few fairies who haven't left, in a city where there's now a power imbalance is a challenge. Beckan soon finds herself working with members of both her own species and others toward a common goal.

Out of Ten: 6/10

Review at a Glance: A bizarre story, told in a bizarre way, which was overall fairly engaging.

Review: This was such a weird book. Seriously, so weird. It wasn't a kind of weird that I loved, but it also wasn't a kind of weird I wished banished from the face of the Earth. I think.

This book basically intentionally plays with doing all of the things authors are advised against doing when they write, with mixed results. The idea of this novel is that it is meant to feel incomplete. The issue is that it does, and that wasn't a reading experience that I particularly enjoyed. The book deliberately jumps tenses and narrators in a disorienting way, especially because we have two layers of narration: the points of view from which the story is told, and the "author" of the story's own notes and thoughts. It takes some getting used to, so this book got off to a disorienting start.

This books is designed to be viewed almost as a found object- as if a notebook containing an early draft of a story/history were found and printed, with various pages of other books, and drawings inside. I generally enjoy having drawings and such in my novels, but, combined with the writing style, there was a bit of a scattered feeling.

The world Hanna Moskowitz creates is a strange one, one that we only see peaks of. I did find myself wondering what the world beyond Ferrum was meant to be like. There are mentions of other cities (where the fairies go), but it seems like a very isolated place, and I cannot imagine how the rest of the world functioning in a manner similar to this city. I must admit I had a hard time seeing why Beckan, Scrap, Josha, and Cricket stayed, because they suffered so much for a place that would inevitably destroy them. The desire to stay in your home only stretches so far.

This is definitely more of a mature YA novel (the main characters are sex workers, who frequently come face to face with violence, profanity is used consistently). The story is set in a dark world, and is often told in a very stark way. While there isn't really magic, each of the three races has fantastical character traits, which were quite interesting.

Overall I found this novel to be quite interesting, despite my mixed feelings about some of the story and storytelling style.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bout of Books 14: Day 1


  • A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz: 142 pages
  • Ink and Bone: The Great Library by Rachel Caine: 8 pages (I think...)
My page count is seriously not great today, because Netflix. I'll probably do some more reading tonight.


The challenge today is to choose books set in a place that isn't where I currently reside. I'm in Canada, so we're not going to do that. There are some books set in Canada.

Five books set in Paris (because themes, I think this is still within the rules- Paris is a pretty big city). Once upon a time I went to Paris, but I was, quite honestly overwhelmed and jet lagged. I don't think I was mentally ready, and I'm hoping to go again at some point in my life. (My French is rather dreadful, I would have to brush up.) I've only been to a few of the places mentioned in these books...
  • Belle Epoque: Historical fiction.
  • The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan: Historical fantasy. About les grotesques (the things you probably call gargoyles).
  • The Magician by Michael Scott: Urban-(ish) fantasy. When I was in Paris, I stayed in an apartment across the street from Nicholas Flamel's house on Rue St. Montmorency! Its a restaurant now. 
  • Rook by Sharon Cameron: Post-apocalyptic. Inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel.
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: I felt compelled to include some kind of contemporary novel. I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about this book.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature created at The Broke and The Bookish.

I'm going by my Goodreads shelf and my memory... (I need to finish that reading spreadsheet. And that other spreadsheet. I have a lot of spreadsheet catch-up to do.) There's quite a bit of overlap here with my "Authors I Own the Most Books From" post.

1. Rick Riordan- 15 books: Um, what? I didn't realise it was this many! Percy Jackson and the Olympians (plus two of the guides), Heroes of Olympus, The Kane Chronicles. At risk of sounding strange, I liked the older books best.

2. Eoin Colfer- 12 books: All of the Artemis Fowl books (and the Artemis Fowl Files, yes, I'm that person), which I adore. I've also read The Supernaturalist, Airman, and The Reluctant Assassin.

3. Cassandra Clare- 10 books (+1/2, I'm partway thought The Bane Chronicles, I'm weird about how I read short stories): I've mentioned that I have a kind of odd relationship with her books, but I certainly have read a lot of them.

4. J. K. Rowling- 10 books: Harry Potter, and all the accompanying material (Quidditch through the Ages and whatnot).

5. James Patterson- 9 books (ish): *hangs head in shame*  Maximum Ride, the first Daniel X. For those wondering, I have a disturbing amount of commitment to finishing a series when I start it, so I read eight Maximum Ride books, though I was pretty done with the series by book six. I will probably NOT be reading the ninth book, because I simple DO NOT have the emotional fortitude to subject myself to that. I try not to think about the James Patterson books I've read.

6. Kenneth Oppel- 8 books: Matt Cruse trilogy,  Silverwing trilogy, and The Boundless. Airborn is one of those books that I go back to when I'm in a reading slump. (Hello, fellow rereaders!)

7. Holly Black- 7 books: The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and The Darkest Part of the Forest. I read Spiderwick as a bind-up, but I also have the separate books, so I'm going to count them as they were originally published.

8. Lesley Livingston- 7 books: I kind of have a soft spot for her books, because they're from when I REALLY started reading YA. Which reminds me, I still haven't read Transcendent, yet.

9. Michael Scott- 6 books: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. 

10. Julie Kagawa- 5 books: I have a lot of author's whose books I've read five of, apparently. I'm putting her here because I've read a couple of short stories as well, so...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Bout of Books 14: Sign Up

It's that time again! (Did you really think I could resist a read-a-thon?)

 Bout of Books 14
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
So that's what's happening. Come. Join. Read things (you know you're going to anyway...)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Review: The Fixer

Title: The Fixer
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer
Volume: 1
Genre: Mystery, Action
Release Date:

A Quick Introduction: Tess Kendrick hasn't seen her sister Ivy in three years when Ivy renters her life in a big way. Tess goes from living on her grandfather's ranch, where she's grown up, to Washington D. C., where Ivy holds an unusual job- she makes the problems of the rich and powerful go away. When Tess gets a reputation around school for skills similar to Ivy's she soon finds herself up to her neck in a conspiracy involving the death of a member of the U. S. supreme court, and, as she digs deeper, uncovers startling secrets about her own family.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: A quick, enjoyable introduction to a YA political mystery.

Review: It seems like every Jennifer Lynn Barnes book I read, I enjoy more than the last. I wasn't crazy about The Naturals, but I really enjoyed the sequel. And then this novel comes along and blows me away! Where Barnes's previous novels faltered for me, this one didn't miss a beat, and turned out to be a really fast, enjoyable read.

I'm really enjoying the cast of characters in this one. Tess is a great combination of strengths and flaws, both of which play a part in her journey, which has only just started in this book. She wants to manage things on her own, but she's rapidly being dragged out of her depth. We are introduced to a whole host of new characters, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in future books.

Something I really liked in this novel was the pacing. It manages to be quite a quickly paced read without giving up focusing on characters as they build relationships. There's just enough suspense to keep the story moving apace, and the interactions between the characters themselves have a quick flow to them. The suspense and political aspects add intrigue, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where that plot goes.

The plot balances juggling the suspicious death of an important official, as well as hints about Tess's own family secrets, and the relationships that Tess builds with Ivy and a host of new acquaintances. I loved that we got more of a focus on Tess forming a group of friends- while there are hints of a romance to come later in the series, it was nice to spends a book getting a groundwork on all these characters that the readers- and Tess herself- are just meeting.

Overall, this was a strong start to a new series, and my favourite Jennifer Lynn Barnes release so far. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next in store for Tess and company.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Unexpected Hiatus

And when I say "hiatus" I mean "hospitalization." Guess who no longer has her appendix!! (Me. Its me.) Basically, it went like this: I woke up last Thursday feeling vaguely nauseous, which progressed to feeling outright sick by about ten in the morning. I then proceed to spend the rest of the daylight hours being pretty violently ill. About twelve hours after that I started to realise that it probably wasn't a garden-variety stomach bug, especially because I was getting kind of stabbing pains in my right side that were getting worse.

Now, stabbing pains in your right side do not bode well, because that is the residence of one of the human body's least useful organs: the appendix. For those who don't know, its this tiny little tube that's main purpose in the human body seems to be getting infected. Dominant theories are that it holds helpful bacteria or that its a vestigial trait from humanity's distant evolutionary past.

I kind of thought I might be overreacting because I was a) in pain, b) nauseated and c) dehydrated from vomiting for twelve hours, but I still wanted to get that checked. And- lo!- it kept getting worse as I got to the waiting room to get into the hospital waiting room (the hospital was under construction).

Upshot is, three hours later they had a tentative diagnosis: acute appendicitis. Since it was 1 a.m. and the surgeon had said he wouldn't come until morning, they stuck me on pain meds and wheeled me off to a quiet corner until someone was available. Which turned out to be evening of the next day. (Lucky it wasn't urgent, I suppose. Whatever do they do in emergencies?) So they wheeled me to another room to wait with a bunch of people over they age of 80. One was really intensely opinionated about where her table should be, and, let me tell you, laughing when your appendix is infected is not recommended. Leave your sense of humour at the door.

It was my first time being put under anesthesia. Nobody warned me that you start shaking like crazy when you regain consciousness, that was so strange. Its apparently a reaction to the anesthetic. Also nobody warned me that the last thing I would hear before they put me under was the surgeon and nurses arguing about what music to listen to whilst cutting me open.

So the moral of the story is see a doctor if you're in a lot of pain, and, if at all possible, try to fall ill when there's a surgeon on duty.

I do have some things in the works now, but I'm at the "waking up in the morning makes me tired and all I want to do is sleep" phase of my recovery, so I'm not sure what the timeline for posting things will be. I have a bunch of things to review, but the tiredness thing is not good for my focus, and I have some school work to catch up on, so bear with me.