Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 2013 Wrap-Up

Here's a summary of my book-related activity for November. It was slow going. I had more hours at work, plus one of my courses wrapped up this month, so I had very little reading time. But what I did read, I really enjoyed!

Books I read (linked to the reviews)

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness (TBR pile)
The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass (new book)
Deadly Offer (The Vampire's Promise #1) by Caroline B. Cooney (NetGalley)
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner (TBR pile)
Yoga for Living: Feel Confident by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli (TBR pile) (in progress)
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King (NetGalley) (in progress)

Books I bought (in this case, ebooks from Comic Con)

The Violet Fox by
Clare C. Marshall
Stars in Her Eyes
by Clare C. Marshall
Within by
Clare C. Marshall

Books I got as presents

Girl With a Pearl Earring
by Tracy Chevalier

Progress on challenges

I completed the following letters for the A-Z Book Challenge: Y

I read 3 books for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

I read 0 books for the Anne Rice Challenge.

I completed the following squares for the Book Bingo Challenge:

I read 2 books for the Nerdy Non-Fiction Challenge.

I read 3 books for the Dystopia Challenge.

I read 3 books written by women.

I read 4 books for the Seriously Series Challenge.

Progress on my TBR pile: I added 4 books to my to read list and removed 6, so my pile decreased by 2 this month!

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Show (Northwest Passage #3) by John A. Heldt

Title: The Show (Northwest Passage #3)
Author: John A. Heldt
Publication Date: February 16, 2013
Length: about 290 pages (ebook)

The Show is the third book in the Northwest Passage series, but is a direct sequel to the first book, The Mine. Warning: This review will contain spoilers from The Mine.

The Show starts by backtracking a bit, giving us the end of The Mine from Grace's perspective. We follow her into the year 2000 and into her new life with Joel. Fast forward a few years, and Grace's newfound happiness is torn from her when she inadvertantly enters another time portal, this one sending her back to 1941. When it seems like the requirements for the portal to send her back will never happen again, Grace soon loses hope of returning to her life with Joel. She starts a new life, getting to know her parents as young adults, and befriends an injured army captain.

This story was so heartbreaking! I can't imagine suddenly being separated from my family and having to consider starting a new life. It's so sad to watch her with Captain Walker; he's so devoted to her, and I would want them to be together were it not for Joel, who I hoped all along she'd get back to. It really tore my heart in two! And as can be expected, whichever way the story turns out, it's both joyful and heartbreaking.

One thing I learned about Grace in this book is that she has no respect for the timeline! If this were Back to the Future, she'd be in big trouble. Luckily for her, John Heldt takes the other approach to time travel, where you can't really mess up your own past. Still, some of her actions are straight up crazy. She is led very much by her heart, though, so her illogical decisions are still always relatable.

5 stars. I can't get enough of this series!

Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this book from the author.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable

Title: Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa
Author: Benjamin Constable
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Length: about 352 pages (ebook)

Ben Constable (who is not only the author but also the main character) receives a suicide note from his friend Tomomi "Butterfly" Ishikawa. Her strange note leads him on a strange quest, following clues she left for him in her laptop, which lead him to clues found hidden in public places. Soon he finds himself learning things about Tomomi he's not sure he wants to know, and realising he didn't know his friend as well as he'd thought.

Main impression: This book was weird. Like, really weird. It left me thinking, what just happened?

I really enjoyed Ben's quest, finding the clues, and meeting people who add to the mystery along the way. It was like nothing I'd ever read before. Aside from the more mysterious and disturbing aspects of the journey, I kind of wish someone would leave me clues hidden around the city that led to me figuring out a story! I feel like even reading a book like this set in my own city would be really cool.

But the end was... strange. I'm still not sure how I feel about the last chunk of the book. So much happens, none of which I can really talk about without major spoilers. I think it's one of those stories that's supposed to leave you wondering what really happened and what's really true, which, to be honest, has never really been my thing.

3 stars.

Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Dark Victorian: Bones by Elizabeth Watasin

Title: The Dark Victorian Volume 2: Bones
Author: Elizabeth Watasin
Publication Date: January 23, 2013
Length: about 348 (ebook)

Warning: This is a review of the second book in the series, and may therefore contain spoilers from the first book. You can see my review of the first book here.

Bones picks up right where Risen left off. Right after solving their first case together, Art and Jim start searching for a black arts surgeon who is stealing the bones and organs of healthy, poor people to transplant into wealthy people with various diseases and disfigurements. As the surgeon searches for the skeleton of a woman over 6 feet tall, Art herself is in danger as they hurry to solve the case.

I loved the first book in this series, and I loved this one even more. It felt like it just had more of everything, in the best possible way. More of Art untangling her past, more of her relationship with Helia (and the other somewhat mysterious ladies in her life), and more of Victorian-era lesbians!

The story of the Bone Stealer is engrossing, the character development is satisfying yet simultaneously makes me want more more more, and the writing is absolutely gorgeous.

Oh and guess what! This blog is totally quoted in the critical acclaim section at the beginning!! *positively faints with excitement*

5 stars.

Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this book from the author.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The First Rule of Swimming by Courtney Angela Brkic

Title: The First Rule of Swimming
Author: Courtney Angela Brkic
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Length: 336 pages

The First Rule of Swimming follows several members of a Croatian family across the world. Jadranka has disappeared after moving to America, and her sister Magdalena starts to worry. Finally, Magdalena leaves her island home and sets off for New York to track down her sister.

I really wish I'd known more (read: anything) about Croatian history before reading this book. I learned some along the way, from the story itself and from looking things up on Wikipedia when I was confused, but I feel like a more in-depth knowledge would have added a lot to my experience.

This is a rich story in so many ways. The various family members and their relationships are so complex, from the deep connection but huge differences between Magdalena and Jadranka, to their American cousin Caterina's spoiled life and jealousy of Jadranka's art. I would have liked to see more from Jadranka's point of view, since mostly all we see from her perspective is the part where she makes really terrible decisions, making me shake my head at her in disbelief. I feel like at other parts in the story she would have been a really interesting mind to be inside. But at the same time, seeing her through her very different sister's eyes also creates an interesting dynamic.

4 stars.

Full disclosure: Free ebook copy received from the publisher through NetGalley.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Title: Red Moon
Author: Benjamin Percy
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Length: 531 pages

Red Moon follows a bunch of a different characters through their own, somewhat related, stories. There's Claire, a lycan (werewolf), who's on the run after a mysterious man broke into her home and killed her parents. Patrick is the only survivor of a lyncan killing spree on an airplane. There's also a politician who's pushing anti-lycan laws and a lycan gang that's fighting for lycan rights in a violent way, and throughout it all there's a war going on in the country the lycans formed for themselves, which is under US occupation.

There is a lot going on in this book. Having waited too long to write this review, I'm having trouble remembering a lot of it. There are so many story lines, which are kind of related, but still make you feel like you're jumping around a lot.

One thing that was perhaps overdone, but I liked overall, was the rewriting of history to include lycans. Historical events in US civil rights are mentioned, but in this world it was lycans, not black people, fighting for their rights. The present-day treatment of the lycans is an obvious parallel to present-day Islamophobia in the US: one lycan kills the passengers on a plane, and it sparks nationwide fear and hatred of lycans, even ones who have been living peaceful lives amongst their human neighbours.

Red Moon is well-written, and takes werewolves to a place I've never really seen before. It has a lot going on, but for the most part I was interested in each of the characters' stories.

4 stars.

Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.