Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do or Learn About After Reading Them

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

1. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Profiling as a concept interests me. I dabbled in psychology a bit when I was in high school, but it was never something I could really see myself doing.

2. Every time I read something set in Italy, I want to learn Italian. And how to make pasta properly, I never manage to make it from scratch with total success.

3. Genius: The Game by Leopoldo Gout it was interesting, and reminded me how very much I don't know about computers.

4. The Martian by Andy Weir and the viability of the potatoes intrigued me. Obviously less something to do and more something to research. We did grow tomato seeds that had been sent to space when I was in high school.

5. There are plenty of books that make me want to start taking self defense again...

6. I'm quite interested in the development of the field of forensics, and forensics itself. I read a book when I was in the sixth grade that kind of started my interest in it. One of my favourite things about The Shallow Graves were the proto-forensics bits.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

I'm in France!

I don't think I mentioned this at all, but I'm taking a French course in France right now! I got a scholarship through my university to cover the cost of the course, and I'm living here in student housing for the next month.
I'm not carrying any physical books with me (baggage limitations) but I'm hoping to get through a few ebooks (and eARCs) while I'm here. I'm also working my way though audiobooks, and I'd love audiobook recommendations! They're fantastic for travel and the like, and it would be great to find some more really good ones.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ten Books Set Outside The US

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

I'm going to assume that it is restricted to this planet. It is not restricted to reality because I don't read that many books entirely set in reality.

1. Unspoken, Untold, and Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan: Is set in the UK, in the mythical town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, with a brief visit to London.

2. Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer: Takes place in quite a few places, none of which are America. Most of the first book is set in Ireland.

3. The Mary Quinn Mysteries by Y.S. Lee: Set in Victorian London, it paints a vivid picture of the city.

4. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund: Set in futuristic New Zealand. The sequel, Across a Star-Swept Sea is set in the Pacific Islands.

5. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: Set in what was once in Eastern Canada.

6. Rook by Sharon Cameron: Paris. All be it a Paris slightly under water.

7. Every Breath by Ellie Marney: Set in Melbourne, Australia. The second book mostly takes place in London.

8. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller: Another one set in London.

9. Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Set in Beijing in the distant future. The series visits several other places (also not America).

10. The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner: Also set in New Zealand. This was such a fast-paced book, and I remember quite enjoying it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Review: First & Then

Title: First & Then
Author: Emma Mills
Genre: Realistic fiction
Release Date: October 13, 2015

A Quick Introduction: Devon Tennyson is happy, right? Sure she's got a probably never-to-be-requited crush on her best friend Cas. Sure she has no idea what she's going to do after high school. But she's happy. Until her cousin comes to stay with them. Foster doesn't fit in, and doesn't really try to- and he also has a talent for football. Foster's newfound talent pulls new people into Devon's life and suddenly everything in Dev's life is changing- and she has to decide what it is that she wants.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: Despite a poor first impression, this novel ended up really impressing me!

Review: This book, people. This book. I kind of thought I would hate this book. And then I did. And then suddenly I realised that, wow, actually I didn't. Like, at all. How's that for first impressions proven wrong?

But, Kelly, you say. This is a review, you say, we need more info. than that! Fine. Well, to begin with, I don't typically like realistic fiction. It is not my genre of choice, and I'd generally much rather have something with dragons. And to end with, I'm very leery about anything compared to Pride and Prejudice, because it bears the distinction of being one of the few classics I've ever wholly enjoyed. And in between things is the fact that it involves football and that there's a heart on the cover.

I am a judgmental jerk. It's true.

But, despite my leery-ness about all things compared to P&P, I was also curious, and so, when the library had First & Then available, I picked it up. And I hated it. I really did. For the first fifty or so pages I was fully prepared to drop it like a hot potato and move onto something with more magic and explosions. I really didn't like Dev- I found her pretentious and judgmental.

Then it was like a switched flipped. I still found Dev judgmental, but I felt like I just got her. She's judgmental because sometimes people are judgmental. And just because she was flawed, didn't mean I didn't come to like her. There were parts of her that started to seem very familiar to me... her struggles with feeling motivated to go above and beyond what was strictly necessary when it came to school were all too familiar.

Despite the lack of dragons, I found myself really enjoying Dev's journey. I liked watching her and Foster figuring each other out, her growing relationship with Ezra, and seeing her start reaching out to other people as well. It was very subtle development, but she did grow in a very real way, and I found myself quite proud of her in the end. The supporting cast was pretty great too, in the end I found that I really liked Lindsey, Emir, and Jason. I would have to see her regard for some of her phys. ed. classmates grow a little more, too, though she did make some strides on that front toward the end. (Okay, possibly I just would have liked another couple chapters...)

Overall, this book was such a pleasant surprise. I kind of want to say the start was shaky, but I don't think it was. I think my dislike of Dev in the beginning set her up to grow on me as the novel continued, and I'm really glad I pushed through my initial frustration.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review: Paper and Fire

Title: Paper and Fire
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library
Volume: 2
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: July 5, 2016
eARC received through Netgalley

A Quick Introduction: Born into a family of book-smugglers, Jess has always been an enemy of The Great Library- but now he's also a member of their ranks. He also has far more personal reasons to hate the Library, having seen far too many of it's dark secrets during his training, and lost his best friend, Thomas, to the Library's ruthless control of new ideas. When he finds out that Thomas may still be alive, he and his friends will stop at nothing to free him.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: An intriguing continuation of a series in which the Great Library of Alexandria never burned, and now controls all availability to books, and knowledge in general.

Review: I did quite enjoy Ink and Bone, but Paper and Fire took it to another level for me. It raises the stakes, and pulls us further into the world of the Library. There is A LOT happening in this story.

Jess has always had a pretty complicated relationship with the Library, and that continues in this book. He now has a lot of ties within the library- people he trusts more than his own blood family- but also far more reason to fear it. When he finds out the Thomas is alive and being tortured by the library, he and his friends and allies are determined to find out where. This means deception, and their quest definitely leads to come collateral damage.

What was really interesting about this is we see the Library is not a faceless evil made up of only terrible people doing awful things. There's a lot of good people who truly value knowledge there, and there are a lot of conflicting ideals at work. There's people plotting, but there are also a lot of people who serve the Library without really knowing about the corruption among it's highest ranks, which we see more of in this book. I'm really hoping that in the next book something is done about how the Obscurists are treated- and also that Sybilla is okay.

There are so many characters in this book, too. There's Jess and his friends, and Wolfe and Santi, and a whole host of supporting characters who all have names and motives and histories of their own that get touched on. One thing I still rather suspect I wouldn't have missed is Jess's relationship with Morgan? I'm not sure, it just feels like it was shoehorned in during the first book, and it somehow never really developed into something I cared that much about.

Something else that I really liked was that Wolfe and Santi continue to play a role. Often, in YA novels, the teenage protagonists don't have any real adult support. Paper and Fire manages to let Wolfe and Santi play a role, without having them condescend to any of the teens, all the while letting them be characters going through their own struggles. I feel like it isn't common enough in YA to see adult characters who actually respect the young heroes, and I really appreciated getting to see that.

I do still wish that the power of the Obscurists was expanded on, and I still don't fully understand the alchemy. I wish that had been expanded on more, I was hoping it would be made more clear in this book, but if wasn't.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this trilogy concludes, and to see how the existence of the Library has shaped North America in the next book.