Monday, March 31, 2014

Month In Review: March

I've been really busy with my blog this month - just not exactly posting a lot. I wanted to do things and get moving in the right direction with this blog as I finally feel comfortable enough with the basics to start branching out a little. I added commentluv to my blog - which I though was only available for wordpress (anyway, I hope it's finally working. let me know if it doesn't, please). I set up a Google Plus account and am now on Pinterest. I've also now got links where you can find me in my sidebar. Seriously, just pop in to any of those places to talk with me - and you can use Goodreads to see how our taste in books match up.

I have several new plans for the upcoming month as, besides getting comfortable in my coding and layout, I'm finally starting to feel like I can really put myself out there in my posts. I have several discussion style posts in the works, as well as the required reviews lining up. I've also got a couple of new posts getting ready for a reveal next month - and, depending how they work, they may or may not continue past April.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Rating System: Explained

I decided that it was long past time that I updated my rating explanations. Besides the fact that I have new stars, since I've been blogging I pay a lot more attention to ratings and why I rated a book the way I did. I will admit that my rating tends to change drastically, sometimes after a week or two has passed other times it takes months and sometimes a re-read. Sometimes my opinion on it goes up, other times it goes down. When I rate my books, this is simply my thoughts at the time. I might want to change the rating two weeks later, but I don't. Usually.

Five Stars: This is the highest rating a book can get from me. This means I loved it. These are the books that show up on every list I make and that I never seem to shut up about.

Four Stars: This was a solidly likable book for me. While it didn't completely blow me away, I did enjoy it a lot. No glaring problems, though probably some minor ones.

Three Stars: A very average book. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. This is something of a catch-all rating for me in that if I'm neither impressed nor disgusted with the book, this is where it lives.

Two Stars: A flawed book for me - probably flaws that are difficult to ignore. I didn't hate the book but I didn't really like it either. There's probably a few redeeming qualities to the book, but not many.

One Star: The books I wish I hadn't read. Just a generally bad book and there were probably a lot of flaws that I could not over look. It's only getting reviewed because I feel the need to vent and warn.

I can't say I'm unbiased. I have favorite authors and genres and preconceived ideas on everything I read. However, I never lie about a book. I'm completely honest, for good or bad, and I will explain as best I can why I feel the way I do. I like fun books and think that my prefered reading generally reflects that.

Well, hope that answered any questions you have - but, if not, let me know.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #15
Published by Harper
Pages: 420
Genre: Fantasy/Comedy
Add on Goodreads

The city of Ankh-Morpork works - due, in majority, to the efforts of the Patrician. They have guilds, see. Assassins Guild. Thieves Guild. They even have a Fools Guild. But what they didn't have was a king. It was thought that the royal line died out when Lorenzo the Kind was beheaded. However, there is a certain man... A man that is part of the much maligned Night Watch in the City Watch. A man that was raised as a dwarf - albeit, a very tall one. A man that is none other than... Corporal Carrot!

'Add 'em up and divide by two and you've got two normal men, except normal men don't join the Guard.'

Discworld is something of a parody for all the normal fantasy tropes. And those have been shaken up and put in a blender. I was on the slow side getting involved with the series - seriously, I called myself a fantasy fan and I hadn't read the most well know humorous fantasy series ever. I couldn't even give the defense that I didn't like funny fantasy books, because I sure prefer them over the serious and dark ones.

This is the second book in the 'inner-series series' of Discworld's City Watch - the brave men that keep the streets of Ankh-Morpork save for the innocent civilians. Or something like that. In this book, thanks to the events of Guards!Guards! (which, if you want to get involved with Discworld, would be a great place to start) we get several new recruits, all joining up to cover the 'minority' problem the guard has been having.

You see, apparently the Watch had been entirely populated by white male humans up til now. Joining up, we have a dwarf, a troll and a woman. First thoughts on that 'Oh, good, the Night Watch now has a female'. Ever since reading Guards!Guards!, I've liked the community feeling of the Night Watch. It had been a very small group, and the people didn't always get along but that made it all the more fun.

The plot was about like it always is in these novels, with so many things all going on at once that you cannot see how they will tie up by the end. But, oddly, tie up they always do - usually with many improbable events always drawing just the right people together for the finale.

There were several things in this book that made me chuckle, but it honestly didn't seem as humorous as the others in the series that I have read. That might possibly be because two of the characters that I find the funniest - the librarian and Death - didn't have very large roles to play in this novel. When they were around though, it was always good for a laugh.

A few other things that I must mention:

The first time I've ever heard of a dwarf abode being handled realistically. I mean, really, if dwarves are so short, why would they build to human specifications?

I loved the way trolls were depicted and especially troll and dwarf dynamics.

These books are some of the only (if not the only) to really capture the way a lot of people talk. Seriously, me and my family are always using terms like 'thingy' and 'what-cha-call-it'. Many, many people in this book do that, and for me that was very entertaining.

Four Stars
  • I'm guaranteed to like anything with the Night Watch in it
  • The usual Discworld craziness
  • Wasn't quite as funny as I was expecting
Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo

Monday, March 17, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List

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Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List (to be read list)

It's odd. Even though most people think TBR means 'to be read' I usually think of it as 'to be reading'. I'm not even sure my idea is proper English, but that's usually what I call it. Okay, so today I get to list ten books that I cannot wait to read this spring. Also, you can now follow me on Pinterest too, so I plan on having more images (isn't that awesome!) on my posts.

I loved the first book in this series so much. Because of that, I am - at the same time - totally excited about this book and rather dreading it. I'm so worried that it cannot be as amazing as the first, but I'm sure I'll read it before the start of summer.

Yeah, yeah, I know what everyone is going to say. 'Why haven't you read this yet?' Well, I have finally heard enough good things about this series that I have ordered the first book. I hope all these wonderful bloggers that have encouraged me to read it is right. If not, I know who I can blame. (Just kidding!)

This book sounds totally awesome. I've been staring at it for almost a year at Goodreads and now I have finally taken the plunge. Synopsis quote that made me have to buy it: '[...]will take readers on a journey where not all heroes are good, not all monsters are evil'.

This is probably the newest book on this list, but I just adore the Beauty and the Beast story. (It was my favorite Disney fairy tale.) I knew almost as soon as I heard about this book, I knew that I would likely end up buying it. After all, there's never enough re-tellings of this fairy tale.

The first book in this series was such a fun, light fantasy romp that I am really looking forward to this one. If it's anything like the first was, it will be the perfect springtime read to take with my outside. Or to keep my attention while the warmer weather calls.

Another book that I can just hear people saying 'why has it taken you so long'. Eh, I've been interested in it for awhile but now, finally, I have been convinced. Thanks once again to people assuring me that, even though it is a middle-grade book, it's not childish.

I will admit, for as awesome as this book sounds, I'm a little curious as to how it will work for me. You see, I've never actually read a christian fantasy novel before. In fact, my full limit of christian fiction has been liited to romances. So, this will be very interesting at the least.

If you were around last Wednesday, you'd know how badly I want this book. Welp, I finally ordered it and it should be coming in anytime now. (Yeah, I know, I should have read this book long ago too, right?) Anyways, I cannot wait for this one.

Last book in the series. Oh, I am so excited. I love this series and I am sure I will love this book too. But, you know, I've been putting it off because that means that the series will be over. Oh well, at least I'll be able to reread it and read the prequels!

I'm just getting major 'read me and read me now!' vibes from where this book is sitting up there on my shelf. Of course, I am slightly worried about the whole 'sophomore slump' (I think that's the term) because the first book was so awesome and I loved it.

Any recommendations as to what I should start with? What are you going to be reading this spring?

What I'm Reading Over Spring Break

Seems crazy that on Saturday where I live was seventy for a high and then yesterday it didn't even hit forty and was snowing. So, I would love to escape to the beach - or barring that, a couple good beach-y reads. However, I seem to be fresh out of tropical climates on my book shelf. Instead, here are the books I plan to read this week.

The king’s orders were clear enough. “Move the tower’s shadow,” he bellowed. “I refuse to deliver my commencement speech from the dark.”

As the newly appointed mage to the Crown of Tirlin, Meralda Ovis has no choice but to undertake King Yvin’s ill-conceived task. Tirlin’s first female mage, and the youngest person to ever don the robes of office, Meralda is determined to prove once and for all that she deserves the title. The Tower, though, holds ancient secrets all its own. Secrets that will soon spell destruction for all of Tirlin—unless Meralda can unravel a monstrous curse laid by a legendary villain seven centuries before she was born.

An ancient curse. A haunted tower. A clamorous gathering of nobles, mages, and kings from the Five Realms come together in Tirlin for the fifth-year Accords. Meralda finds herself facing far darker foes than any mere shadow of the tower.

Before the Dawn Cataclysm, Moander the Darkbringer corrupted Tyche, Goddess of Luck. In a desperate attempt to preserve Tyche's goodness, the gods clove her in twain, creating two daughter goddesses: Tymora, Lady Luck; and Beshaba, Lady Doom. In the eons since then, the two sisters have existed in total enmity. 
Now a great power has hatched a mad scheme to re-create the goddess Tyche by reuniting Tymora and Beshaba, regardless of the potentially calamitous consequences. 

In a decision fraught with godly intrigue, Joel, the Rebel Bard, priest of Finder, is chosen to uncover whoever is behind the abduction of the sister goddesses. Aided by his old allies, Holly Harrowslough and Jas, and his new friend, the kender Emilo Haversack, Joel must find a way to prevent the merger of Tymora and Beshaba before disaster overtakes the luckless Realms. 

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

These books will be read in order and I've already started the first one. Of course, I'm not sure I'll make them all before the end of Spring Break, but I'll sure try. How about you? Are you taking books with you on vacation? If not a vacation, do you at least have some warm weather reads?

Friday, March 14, 2014

This Crumbling Pageant

Get ready to be swept away into a dark fantasy series that combines swashbuckling adventure, heart-pounding romance and plot-twisting suspense in equal measures.

Expect to hear more about Persephone Fury.

A lot more.

England, 1809. As fashionable Society streams toward London for the start of a new social season, they are unaware of a hidden magical England existing alongside. The Magi cathedrals are temples to the old gods. Reigning on their throne is not poor mad George, but the ailing King Pellinore of the House of Pendragon. But their wars are no less deadly.

The Furys are known for their extraordinary music, their powerful magic, and their historic role as kingmakers. But the Furys have their secrets as well, none so dangerous as the daughter whose Shadow magic spills from her, unchecked. Unless her powers are concealed, she’s not only ruined in Society, but marked as a target for those who would use and abuse her magic.

Persephone Fury is the Dark daughter, the one they hide.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and a good marriage for this frightening daughter is desperately needed. On the night of her debut, her world comes crumbling down around her when she is abducted from the man she loves by the man she most loathes.

Evil powers circle, calling her to the destiny foretold at the moment of her birth, drawing her to the source of her power, to the one place she can finally be free.

By embracing the Shadows. 

Persephone is ruthless, devious, and clever, but when confronted with the truth, she must make horrifying choices.

Can she defy destiny and seize her own fate?

Genre: YA Science Fiction
Release: May 6th
On Goodreads

This is a book I've been looking at ever since I first heard about it, and now I can share the cover with you. I honestly love it. The colors are very atmospheric and I love the dynamics in the girls pose. So what do you guys think? Does this book sound good? I know it's on my to-read list as soon as it comes out. (They had me at 'swashbuckling adventure'.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Series: The Crescent Moon Kingdoms #1
Published by DAW Books
Pages: 274
Genre: Fantasy
Add on Goodreads

Doctor Adoulla is the last ghul hunter.

He and his apprentice, Raseed, have been working to keep the great city of Dhamsawaat safe when an attack on a small family causes them to leave the tea-house - I mean - the city. They discover Zamia, a young lioness shape-changer, looking for the creature that killed her tribe. Her only clue is a bloody dagger that smells of no animal or human.

'One can only know as much as one has lived to know, though it is certainly possible to learn a great deal less than this.'

Sometimes, I've discovered, there's a reason why you read the first few pages of a book and then set it back on your shelf in favor of something else. There's also a reason why occasionally a book sits on the shelf for eight months without being read. Unfortunately, sometimes you can just tell that, no matter how awesome a book sounds, it just won't turn out well. This was one of those books for me.

The setting was doubtlessly my favorite thing about this book. Usually when I read fantasy, I stay with the tried and true with a locale locked in vaguely middle-ages Europe and a pantheon reminiscent of ancient Greek or Egyptian. This book has neither. It draws very firmly on Middle East culture and from what I can tell, it has an all-seeing, one true god. This setting - woefully underutilized and very confusing culturally - was the only truly good thing about this book.

The characters themselves...Well, they all got more and more annoying to me as the story progressed. There's five main characters that all take their turn at narrating the story - which is all to the good for me. However, three of the characters are filled with self-pity and think that they are too old for this fighting and deserve some happiness now. Seriously, that's about the limit of two of the three's character personality. The third one also likes to eat and drink, so at least he has more of a personality.

The remaining two characters are the youngsters of the group. They actually have a tiny bit more personality, and are even a little interesting, but they are almost as annoying. What I did like about those two were the fact that they were both very 'gung-ho' fighters.

Several times throughout the book characters contradicted themselves. One very obvious example was when one woman made a remark about merely wanting 'a few more years' of peace before she hoped to die. Then later in the same conversation, she announced that she had another 'twenty years' left. Perhaps it's supposed to be, I don't know, likable? She did use each statement to win an argument though, so maybe that was supposed to negate all effects. She's not the only example, but the others are less quotable and, after a while, I tried my best to block out the near bi-polar thoughts these people had of death and fighting.

I'd also like to make mention of marriage. There seems to be a strange preoccupation of marriage in this book. If you're female, you're either married or want to get married. To a degree, I could understand why the young tribeswoman wants that - as she is the last of her clan and there is no one else to carry on her family. However, that is pretty much half of her characterization - and it even shows up during what I believe was her first narrative turn. There's also a married woman that takes a lot of delight in the fact that an old flame of hers is still very interested. To the point of her thinking that there was a part of her that wanted him.

There was also a point that a woman got punched in the face and her immediate response was 'I'm a woman. I'm not built for this.' even though this is a woman that has been fighting along her comrades for at least thirty years. What, you mean to tell me that she never got punched before? I could have understood it better if she was pitying herself for being old, instead of the odd apparent mentality that women cannot fight.

And, for a book that boasts two out of five main characters as female, this was a distinctly anti-female story. There was talk of a woman that was raped and killed herself (apparently because of it). There was not one, but two instances of a child being raised only by the father because the mother was dead. There were countless instances of a woman suppressing tears - or being unable to.

Their whole lives revolved around one man or another and they often do whatever he wants - regardless of their opinions of the matter. They were supposedly very strong, but in reality were so not. I found this quote from the book and I just had to share it: '[...]showed the secret, defenseless self that she only ever showed late at night to him.' I'm sorry? What? This is from a woman that owns her own brothel, for pities sake! You know, a woman can be strong without it being a mask.

This book, I do believe, would have failed The Bechdel Test. The requirements are as follows:
A work of fiction must have:
  1. At least two female characters
  2. That have at least one conversation
  3. About something other than men

Scratch that. I know this story failed that test. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I've read books that don't have two female characters that ever meet. But in this book, two of the main five were females so... The only conversation I actually remember them having was about one of the guys being a potential love interest for one of the females in the conversation.

For all the times love was mention or alluded to in this story, it has no romance. From the old married couple to the old man that wants to reunite with his lady love to the two youngsters that are attracted to one another - there is no romantic anything. In a situation like this, I would have preferred no romance over the tepid emotions we got.

Finally, we don't even get romance of the adventure/epic variety. Once and only once, the characters leave the city and that was at almost the very beginning of the story. There was no exploration - though old Adoulla did reminiscence a little about everything he's seen, but it's just not the same.

As a whole, this was a very depressing book with the characters so unhappy with their lives, a not entirely good ending and a lot of whining by most of the main characters. And my inner feminist - who is usually pretty well pacified with offers of awesome fights and dashing men - railed against this whole thing.

To be honest with you, before I finished this story it was going to get four stars. Then, I was going to give it three before I started thinking about it. Then it was going to be rated two stars before I realize that it really was a sexist book. Ultimately, I did not like it. Ergo:

One Star
  • Uh... Like the idea for the setting.
  • Love the cover.
  • Misogynistic
  • Unlikable characters
Read for the following challenges: Book Bingo

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday #3

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Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

For this week, I decided to do something a little different. While it's true that I am looking forward to this book, it has also been on my list for a long time. So long, in fact, that it got pushed down my to-read list and somewhat buried.

Okay, this book has several things going for it. It's a fantasy novel and not just that, but also a novel featuring an assassin. I love assassins. And that cover... I really like this one - a lot more than the other - and I hope this is the cover I get when I buy the book. But, I must say, what is up with 'Prince Po'? I suppose it's too much to hope for that 'Po' is just a nickname.

So, that's my wishlist book this week. And, it will probably be one of the next book's I order. So, what do you guys think?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Favorite Books in the Fantasy Genre

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Top Ten Favorite Books in the Fantasy Genre

This weeks top ten was slightly different in that I got to choose the genre and, with that option, it should surprise exactly no one that I would pick fantasy. I love fantasy novels and I have ever since I started reading them years ago. These aren't really in an order, besides one being my favorite and two my second favorite. Also, if the books are a series, I only chose one of them for this list.

This is cheating a little, though there are fantasy elements to this story. I just love this book so much though that I had to mention it.

Such a fun book. It doesn't try to be deep and thought provoking, taking the fun-fantasy-romp route instead and it does that so well.

This book is actually the sequel to my first ever fantasy novel. And, it's even better that the first was.

My first ever Discworld novel and - to date - still my favorite. The humor in this book just had me in stitches but it also knew when to 'get serious' - or at least as serious as Discworld can get.

While this book is my favorite by her, it is also the last in its respective series. A series that is one of my favorite and it has a strong urban fantasy feel - along with vampires an werewolves.

A wonderful steampunk novel that is also cheating a bit. But the world is distinctly not ours so its like steampunk in a fantasy setting.

This is one of my favorite authors, I love all his books, and this is without a doubt, my favorite series of his. Though, I also adore his first series as well.

Honestly, this setting was so darn cool. I love the setting and thought it pushed what could have been a good book to a really great book.

This book is just so awesome. I loved it and I adore Celaena so much. For me, she's pretty much the perfect female in a fantasy novel. The guys aren't half bad either.

I could have easily chosen three other books in this series for this slot, but I decided to go with the first one. This is also the one that made me love and adore this series and the two main guys.

So, that's my list. I'd love to know if you've read any books on here and let me know what your top ten is - even if it's not fantasy.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mini-Review: The Shard Axe by Marsheila Rockwell

The Shard Axe by Marsheila Rockwell
Series: Standalone novel
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Pages: 339
Genre: Fantasy
Add on Goodreads

Sentinel Marshal Sabira d'Deneith has been hired to defend the dwarf that she holds responsible for her partner's death years ago. But, during the course of is trial, she discovers that the past doesn't always stay in the past.

Honestly, I'm not sure why we're supposed to like Sabira. She's completely unrelatable and rather unlikable. So much of this plotline hinges on what happened in her past. However, I was never interested enough to know and, when I did finally find out about halfway through the book, I really didn't care. She was just so sure that she was always right and she really felt as though she was supposed to be this hard-nosed, tough, strong and sexy woman - and yet all I could buy was that she was a little brat that pouted when she didn't get her way and -  really - was only a good fighter because the story said she had to be.

The plotline itself is rather weak. Basically, as a Marshal, Sabira gets to play lawyer for a dwarf that is accused of thirteen murders. Honestly though, it took until after the halfway point for that plot to show up. Prior to that it was just unimportant fight after unimportant fight. The resolution to the mystery was pretty obvious right from the start and the resolution to Sabira's problems felt very fake. (Please note: I do love the Eberron setting. It's simply awesome, so I did have foreknowledge about this world and what type of stories to expect. I also did discover that a hybrid legal thriller and fantasy jaunt just doesn't work for me.)


One Star
Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo & Lucky No.14

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mini-Review: A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Series: Amelia Peabody #19
Published by HarperCollins
Pages: 307
Genre: Historical/Mystery
Add on Goodreads

Set during the simmering tensions of pre-world war one Palestine. Into this melting pot we throw Ramses, working for an American archaeologist, and the rest of his family, on the hunt of an amateur archaeologist suspected of being a German spy.

Ordinary villains are one thing; religious rioters and spies of various nationalities are less predictable.

This is actually quite a different Amelia Peabody and Co. mystery than usual. We've traded in the usual Egypt for Palestine. There is less archaeology and more spies. There is also a good deal more narrated from Ramses' point of view than all except the chronologically newest books. I have heard some people being a little upset by all this, but it was honestly very timely for me. I loved the spy aspect in this story and how well it ties into Ramses and David's characters.

I really only had two, very small, problems. One was that I wished the characters had been all together for more of the book. They were split up for a good portion of it, the story being told both from Amelia and Ramses point of view. Also, my other complaint would be that I missed Egypt. I do understand why this story wasn't in Egypt, but it's obvious that no one - not the characters and not even Ms. P. herself - is as interested in Palestine as Egypt.

  • Characters I've come to love
  • Spy/espionage story
  • Egypt-less
Five Stars
Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo & Series Challenge & Key Word & Lucky No.14

Friday Finds - March 7th

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FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

Disenchanted & Co.

The Dark Unwinding
The Cadet of Tildor

Champion of the Rose

To be fair that last book, it's not a 'new' find for me. I've been waiting for this book ever since I finished Ms. C.'s Alexia series and, finally, they've added a cover for it. I really hope the cover does stay, as I love it. So awesome.

So, what do you think? What are your FF's?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Booking Through Thursday #6

Hosted here.

I think most of us are probably against censorship on principle, but … do you think it should vary depending on the impressionable age of the readers? Or is it always wrong? How about the difference between 'official' censorship by a government or a school system, as opposed to a parent saying No to a specific book for their child?

(Read the article that sparked this question here.)

Honestly, I think parental censorship is completely different than so-called 'official' censorship. I'm totally okay with parents reading a book and then saying that they don't want their kid reading it. Of course, I think it also is perfectly viable to let your kids read some of the more controversial books/subjects and then talk about the things in the book. But, what would I know about that. I'm not a parent, nor am I a teacher. I don't even have any young relatives or neighbors I offer books to. So, yeah.

Now, as for so called 'official' censorship... I could give you a lecture on a little thing called the 'The First Amendment to the United States Constitution'. But I won't. I don't want to get into the legal ramifications of this. I just will state that I do not believe it is the government's place to tell you or your kinds that you cannot read a specific book. As far as I'm concerned, that's not even something the government should be worrying about.

I do have to add something that came up in the original article. 

'As if there is certain subject matter we can't share with teens...while we are happy to watch CSI-whatever right in front of them.'

I used to watch CSI. I stuck around even though I had little interest in the characters. I tolerated the gore, the violence, until they found a severed human head in a bucket. I've not seen the show since then. Any one else remember the short lived series Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior? Yeah, at that point I was a huge Criminal Minds fan so, of course, I watched the spin off. That was quite possibly one of the most disturbing things I've ever been exposed to. In my family we lend DVD's to each other (well, my mother, brother and I do). Believe me, I have the strong stomach of the three of us. I'm the least bothered by violence and gore. I will never loan that DVD to either of them.

I don't know about teen's nowadays. How late do they stay up? When I was fifteen, I was already staying up until ten, watching some of the programming that ran from nine to ten in my timezone. I imagine most teens stay up at least late enough to watch the last hour long show of the night. I'll admit, I don't read much contemporary YA fiction, but I highly doubt much of it can be 'any worse' (if you will allow that term) than the television programs.

Now, one final quote from the original article:

'[...]hiding things from teenagers is a known fail. Teenagers already know what we're attempting to hide from them. They probably know a lot more than we do about the reality of being a teenager today. They're a lot smarter than most people give them credit for. Contemporary young adult books are not going to tell them anything they don't already know.'

Thanks for reading. What do you think of censorship? For it? Against it? For some of it but against other?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday #2

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Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

Synopsis: Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you're the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there's no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don't unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

First of all, I admit, I read pretty much everything I can hands on to do with Sherlock Holmes. So, he has a niece, you say? Odd, never knew Mycroft had a daughter - but at least this is more believable (of only just) than that short story anthology I read that dealt with Sherlock's grandson. And, it's steampunk. And, it deals with Egypt - even if it is only tangentially. Needless to say, but I will anyway, I need this book. (And I love that cover.)

The only thing that concerns me is it that it is told from first person point of view with both the girls alternating the narration. I have never ever had good luck with that. But, I am just way to interested in this book to let that stop me.

How about you? What's on your wishlist for this Wednesday? Have you read The Clockwork Scarab? Did you like it? Or not?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read

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Top Ten Popular Authors I've Never Read

Well, by George, as soon as I saw this week's top ten, I knew I was going to have fun with this. I tried to keep this list pretty balanced between authors everyone knows and authors everyone likes. I will also add that, most likely, there are authors on this list that I will never read. Of course, not know what they'll write next, I cannot say that for certain. So, let's get started.

10) Stephenie Meyer
No matter how many books she writes, I will only be able to think of Twilight when I hear her name. Vampires seriously are not for me (least not any more...) and I just know better than to subject myself to something I most likely wouldn't enjoy.

9) Janet Evanovich
Somehow, back in the day when I read nothing but mystery novels, I missed this author. Ultimately, I'm glad I did, but - considering everything else I read - I cannot quite understand how that happened.

8) Rick Riordan
I do have some interest in his books and they sound fun, I just... Oh, I hate saying this but... They sound a little young for me. That might not be fair, but I just can't shake the odd feeling I get thinking about reading about a sixth grader.

7) J.K. Rowling
I actually do intend to read the Harry Potter series. Eventually. It's just that I've seen all except the last movie and I really don't understand the fuss. I enjoyed them well enough, I'm just not getting motivated to read the books. And this kind of goes with the last one for comfort level - or lack thereof (least at first).

6) George R.R. Martin
For someone that claims to love the fantasy genre, it's probably unbelievable I've not read any of his books. Honestly though, they sound too gritty, sexist and way too sexually graphic for me.

5) Meg Cabot
I don't really do contemporary. Or, if you'll pardon the term, Chick-Lit. The Princess Diaries does interest me a little - I do tend to like those type of stories - but I've never been sufficiently convinced to give it a go.

4) James Patterson
I honestly don't know why I've never read Maximum Ride. I mean, they sound right up my alley with the X-men-esque kids. I guess my disinterest in his other work bleed over to this one...

3) Isaac Asimov
Oh, I so want to read some of his books. He is, after all, something like the father of science fiction. I just don't know where to start and I am terrified I won't like them. Because I want to like them.

2) Suzanne Collins
With all the interest in The Hunger Games, I'm just not interested. I might watch the movies if I can get them cheap, but I've seen enough stories inspired by The Hunger Games to know that this is one plotline that just isn't for me.

1) Michael Crichton
I loved the Jurassic Park movies, enjoyed Timeline and saw Congo and even liked it. I need to read some of his books - I just don't know where to start.

So, there you go, ten popular authors that I've never read. What are yours? Any input on these authors?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Published by Square Fish
Pages: 387
Genre: Science Fiction (YA)
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New Beijing is a thriving 
metropolis. Humans, androids and the reviled cyborgs crowed the streets. A mysterious illness is sweeping the world. The powerful Lunar colony is threatening war. What does all this have to do with the young, gifted mechanic Cinder?

'"For starters, I just spent my life savings on a foot. But even if I did have money, why would I spend it on a dress or shoes or gloves? What a waste."'

Is there something wrong with me? Is there? I wanted to love this book as much as everyone else. Instead I have a book that the longer I'm away from, the more ire I have for it. And believe me, I had enough - and enough sheer boredom - when I was reading it. I might be convinced to read the next in the series because, because Little Red. Excuse me me now while I curl up in the corner and let my depressive funk overtake me.

Okay, okay, I latched on to this book because (I mean, seriously) a cyborg Cinderella! How cool is that? And, honestly, this part of the story was done so well. You see, Cinder is a cyborg in more than just name. She has a processor connected to her brain. There's always 'netscreens' coming up in her retina. She cannot cry because she has no tear ducts. She cannot blush because certain systems click on/off to prevent her from overheating. A orange light flashes in her vision when someone lies.

In short, you are never allowed to forget that Cinder is not fully human. That was great. However, part of the reason you're not allowed to forget she'd human is because she won't let you. Cinder has this borderline self-pity thing going on. She hates being a cyborg. Of course, this could possibly be because the way most people treat her that know she's a cyborg (but more on that later). I do think I would have found Cinder a more relatable character had she enjoyed what she was a bit more - after all, the excitement of a cyborg character was what drew my attention. (Oh, yeah, about the twist concerning Cinder... I saw it coming so far off that I just wanted it out in the open.)

The setting itself is a sci-fi, future tech Asia. Very cool although not so inventive if you watch as many anime's as I do. In fact, I had such problems at the start of this book because of that that, even though the city name is New Beijing, I kept imagining a more Japanese culture than Chinese. That was doubtlessly just my own little problem, but I was all set to give this major kudos for the inventive setting until I realized that it's not really so unusual. For books, however, it is something that I personally have never experienced before, so still a thumb up for that. (I did read the author interview in the back of my copy and, surprise, surprise, Marissa is indeed an anime fan.)

What I don't understand was why the society hated and reviled the cyborgs so much. They are basically being used as lab rats - tested on and killed - to save the 'humans' from this plague. The cyborgs can contract the disease and, from everything I've heard, they die horribly. There is even a 'cyborg draft' to give the future version of the CDC new test subjects. (I will mention that, at almost the end of the book, there was a rather...unpleasant explanation as to why there was a cyborg draft in the first place. I could understand it - but it also kind of made me sick.) Sometimes cyborgs will willingly volunteer. No matter how the cyborg finds themselves a lab rat, their family is given some money. Through all this, cyborgs are still hated by the 'normal humans'.

I'm sorry, what? You have these people that still behave as people in mind and heart - and usually look quite human on the outside - being given a disease strain for which there is no cure, in the hopes of finding a cure, and the general populace still hates them. They even believe it is suitable for creatures that are obviously no longer human. I do understand that this isn't a pretty world - it has it's own share of problems - but if you're not going to explain why this society behaves this way, it just doesn't work for me. Honestly, in this world, if you were injured badly enough to die if you didn't get mechanical parts - you'd have to choose between death and general disgust. And don't even get me started on people that would choose to be a cyborg just to replace a missing foot and - whatever else it was that that guy had - to be merely six percent cyborg.

Cyborgs are fairly common from the sounds of it so I cannot imagine why they are still so stigmatized. What happened? Did the first cyborgs go on a rampage - unable to handle the mechanical parts connecting to the organic of their bodies - and now it's been ingrained into the human mind to loathe them? What? What happened?

After awhile, I realized another issue with this story. I couldn't see it. I couldn't see the city. I couldn't see Cinder. I couldn't see the prince. And that was all because no time was spent describing anything. Actually, the city did have brief moments - like the sun breaking through the clouds and shining on a little plot of land - and you could almost picture the place.

Honestly, I had a better mental image of the villainess than I did Cinder or the prince. As for Cinder… Was her hair color even mentioned once? All I knew about her was that she had long hair that she wore in a ponytail sometimes. To be fair, her clothing too was roughly outlined. All I could tell you about Kai's looks was that he had dark hair with bangs. In a particularly uncharitable moment, I wondered if it was one of those bowl type haircuts.

Besides my inability to see the people/setting, I never really connected to them. Cinder was a rather dry main character. The only times I found her very likable was when she was talking to Kai, Peony and Iko - the rest of the time I was rather indifferent to her. I wasn't really rooting for her to succeed. I was just reading her story.

The romance was…cute, but it fit in with fairytales too well. I know, I know, this is a fairytale retelling, so what did I expect? Well, you see, I can handle this type of budding romance when it is in a fairytale. We expect the romance to be rather insipid (or at least, I do) and too quick. I don't expect a well rounded fairytale romance - but I do expect one in my books. There is over three hundred pages to this book and I still don't feel the romance. It felt convenient. Cinder fell in love with the prince because... Well, because he was the prince and every girl (and a certain android) was in love with him. Kai fell in love with Cinder because... Uh, did he fall in love with her? I remember him showing an interest in her, but that seemed to be only so he could avoid all the crazy girls that 'loved' him. He showed no interest in Cinder except as means to an end. Or, perhaps, as a friend - something I believe he had none of.

Which leads me to the fact that this is a fairytale retelling. I will admit that this is only the second one I've ever read, so… Maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about. Or maybe this genre isn't for me. I felt as though the fairytale aspects just didn't work. They felt crammed in, forced to fit where they really didn't. The world was interesting on its own, but the Cinderella additions just felt stilted.

I feel like I should complement something. Now, this will be a backhanded complement if I've ever given one, but... The writing was nice. Even though I couldn't see things, the story was easy to follow. There were no confusing moments, though I think my eyes probably glazed over a bit from all the techno-babble. That happens to me sometimes and it's certainly not commentary on how interesting the technology was because, even though it was not described as well as I might have liked, it was some of the most interesting stuff in this story.

Ultimately, this book was just too dry and sterile for me. I know I didn't laugh once during this book and I don't believe it even got a chuckle out of me. (If it did, it was at that quote at the top of this review.) I seldom felt any emotional connection to the characters - and the only times (twice, I think) it happened was for Prince Kai. He was trying his best to take care of his people and keep them safe and he had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. I do, honestly, like those type of rulers. For me though, the story just felt emotionless - even when there should have been emotion. Maybe it's because our main narrator cannot demonstrate emotion like most humans. Whatever the reason, I felt a perpetual disconnect from the characters.

  • Quick read
  • Writing that I didn't hate

  • Poor world building
  • Characters I was indifferent to
  • The whole 'cyborgs as second class citizens' (yes, this goes with world building, but I hated it so much it needs its own point).



(Two Stars)

Read as part of the following challenges: Book Bingo & Fairy Tales Retold.