T5W – Book Betrayals

Hi-ho! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is “Books You Felt Betrayed By”, perfect for the Ides of March! I’ll be honest, I had a very hard time with this topic, since I haven’t actually read that many books that made me angry enough to constitute ‘betrayal’, so the vast majority of this list is actually going to be more like ‘books I was severely disappointed with’. 😉

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)

2Let’s start off with a book that gave me an actual ‘had to re-read that bit several times to believe it was happening and then almost threw the book across the room’ moment. You know the spot. JK! What did you do?!? He was my favorite side character, dog-gone-it! And poor Harry!!! This is probably the only book in this post that I could actually consider for a betrayal list. I was completely not expecting that moment and neither were most of the fans of the series. It was utterly horrifying and I felt almost numb for the entire rest of the book. 😦

Dorothy Must Die (Danielle Paige)

18053060Ok, so this one made the list pretty much just for the ending…BECAUSE THERE WASN’T ONE. Absolutely nowhere on the cover of my copy of the book or in the summary on the inside flaps did it say that this was the start of a series. Usually it makes me happy to find out that a book I’m reading is the start of a series. New series are awesome. But not this one. I’ll be honest, I just really wasn’t into this book. I only even GOT to the ending because I was slightly curious as to what would happen, but I didn’t like any of the characters (that were left at this point) and I was actually really glad that it was almost over. Until it wasn’t. ::shakes fist::

Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

18490This book is supposed to be the birth of science fiction, one of my all time favorite genres. I remember in high school being disappointed because the AP kids got to read Frankenstein and I was stuck with The Crucible. I shouldn’t have wasted the emotion. Even given my issues with Victorian literature, this book was AWFUL. Dr. Frankenstein is one of the most selfish, self-absorbed, and idiotic characters I’ve ever had to read about. I found myself rooting for the Monster, just because I couldn’t stand listening to Franky whine anymore. Extremely disappointing and one of the books that makes me question who exactly comes up with the ‘Classics’ category, because this really shouldn’t be on there.

Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)

239113I guess this one also falls into the ‘Classics’ category and I didn’t really like this one either. Again, mostly because of the ending, which didn’t really exist. It took me a month to read the first 200 pages of this book; it just dragged. The main character, who they never actually name, was completely insipid and I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything that was happening to her. But things started to turn around in the last 100 pages. The action really picked up, I was finally starting to like the main character, and was really curious how things would play out. And then it just stopped. Right in the middle of the everything. UGH!!! SO FRUSTRATING!!!

Hitchhiker’s Guide #4 & 5 (Douglas Adams)

You know those tv shows that have one too many seasons? The one’s where you can tell the writers’ are either out of ideas or they have given up on the plot because they know the show is ending? And how that let down kind of taints the entire series for you? The final two books of The Hitchhiker’s Trilogy feel a little like that. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the original trilogy (and I get a kick out of the fact that there are 5 books and everyone still calls it a trilogy, lol), but the last two books are almost completely nonsense. They are unnecessarily complicated, don’t have a linear plot (or even a logical one), and honestly just feel pointless. Such a huge let down after such an amazing series.

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Do you have any books that distressed you so much you couldn’t finish them? That made you mad enough to throw the book across the room? Or that you were just so disappointed in that they tainted how you viewed anything else by that author? Let me know in the comments!

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Mini Reviews – Cozy Mysteries

Today I’m going to focus on my current guilty pleasure: Cozy Mysteries. Now, my definition of cozy mysteries is slightly different than the norm, in that I include any small-ish mystery book where the sleuth is fairly likable, the mystery isn’t too difficult, and the plot isn’t too gory or vulgar (think more ‘Monk’ than ‘Criminal Minds’). Basically, a nice little mystery that you can curl up with on a rainy afternoon and know that it will leave you with a sense of enjoyment, rather than nausea or paranoia. 😉

The Excalibur Murders (J.M.C. Blair)

Description from Goodreads: Merlin is no magician, merely a scholar and advisor to King Arthur. But after the supposedly magical Stone of Bran is stolen along with the legendary sword Excalibur and one of Arthur’s squires is brutally murdered during the theft, Merlin must use the power of reason to conjure up a miracle and catch a murderer.

3312838Review: Ok, this one was fun. I admit to having a BIT of difficulty trying to take the book seriously, because I kept picturing Colin Morgan as Merlin (BBC, I blame you! ::shakes fist::), but it was a still a nice, quirky little mystery.

The characters were all believable, which can be tricky when dealing with medieval, legendary characters. The author kept the thees and thous to a minimum, which made the characters a lot more relatable for the modern reader, but also kept the mindset of the age which helped properly date the piece. The mystery was really interesting too, especially once you were told exactly who the victim was. The murderer really could have been anyone and I honestly had no clue who did it until the very end of the book.

As an aside, I liked that Merlin & Nimue had to travel to all the suspects’ castles. It dragged the mystery out a bit, but then it WOULD really have taken that long to get anywhere back then, so I can’t complain too much. The nice part, though, was that it gave you a small view of England in the middle ages, which I always find interesting.

Night of the Living Deed (E.J. Copperman)

Description from Goodreads: Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She’s returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable-guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them.

7507902Review: This one is a true ‘cozy mystery’, right down to the punny title. 😉 I actually really enjoyed this book. The main character, Alison, was spunky, humorous, and realistic…as in, she kept asking herself “why am I doing this?!?” when she did dangerous things. She also, oddly, actually turned evidence into the police! Shocker! I get so irritated when these amateur sleuths actually hide evidence from the cops.

Also, though she does have a ‘love interest’, she doesn’t immediately fall head over heels or spend the whole book quarreling with him, which was a refreshing change. For some reason, it’s almost impossible for authors to allow their female main characters to be autonomous, especially in cozy mysteries. They almost always end up spending more time worried about their love lives than actually staying alive.

The mystery here was pretty good. It took me a bit to figure out the bad guy and then it took me even longer to figure out how they did it. It was one where you actually seem to solve things at generally the same pace as the sleuth instead of spending half the book going “READ THE STUPID LETTER!!!” or anything like that. Which is great because, as I stated earlier, these books are supposed to be fun, not aggravating! 😉

I ended up making this my “first book in a new-to-you series” for my reading challenge, because I liked it so much that I decided to buy the next one. That doesn’t actually happen all that often with cozy mysteries for me, so you know it’s got to be good!

Still Life (Louise Penny) 

Description from Goodreads: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

338691Review: This was a really enjoyable mystery. I ended up really liking the main character; he seemed like a nice guy who honestly wanted to help and protect the people of the village. He actually listened to people when they spoke, including his subordinates, and wasn’t above taking advice.

And I’ll admit, it was nice that he was happily married, so I didn’t have to spend half the book reading things like “her eyes were beautiful seas” or anything like that (can you tell I’m really not fond of romances? 😉 ), though that DOES happen far less with male main characters than with women, so it wasn’t TOO surprising.

The mystery here was really interesting as well. It took me a long time to figure out who the murderer was, which is always nice. I liked this one well enough to invest in the second book, so we’ll see how the series goes.

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Well, that’s it for now. How about you? What is your reading ‘guilty pleasure’? Do you like cozy mysteries? If you have any suggestions for goods ones, please share in the comments! 😀

T5W – Fave Sci-Fi/Fantasy!

Time for another Top 5 Wednesday! This week, in collaboration with the BooktubeSFF Awards, we’re exploring favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy books! This is a genre near and dear to my heart because, though I’m more of a mystery gal nowadays, I grew up as a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic. I’m going to forgo the most popular books in this list, since most everyone already knows about Harry Potter, Doctor Who, etc, and you don’t really want to read the same lists over and over. So here are a handful of books that you may not of heard of, but should really give a try! 😀

Long Way to a Small, Angry Plant (Becky Chambers)

27213244.jpgI just finished this book a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing! The amount of world (universe) building that went into this novel is insane. The book starts out focused on a woman named Rosemary who is joining a spaceship that creates wormholes for the public to travel through space. Once on board, you get to learn about each of the members of the crew: their personality, their family/friends, their homeworld, and you learn about the universe as a whole. The author has created a universe as detailed and diverse as Star Trek or Doctor Who in a single book. I highly recommend this one.

Circle of Magic (Tamora Pierce)

I LOVED this series as a child and I still love it today. It’s four of only a handful of books that I still reread from time to time. The books are about four young children who discover that they have unique magical skills. This was one of my first ever “misfit realizes they are special” books, so it really affected me at the time. It also was one of the first series where I liked every single character, which was VERY helpful in encouraging me as a young reader.

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Redshirts (John Scalzi)

Have you ever seen that movie, Galaxy Quest? This is kind of like that,13055592 only reversed. Here the crew of a starship find out that the reason all this wacky stuff keeps happening to them is that they are actually characters in a TV show. Star Trek fans will LOVE this one; I know I certainly did. It gets a bit mind-bendy towards the middle, but if you can stick with it, you will end up really enjoying the book.

Leven Thumps (Obert Skye)

214856This is a wonderful series! Fourteen year old Leven Thumps finds a gateway to the magical land of Foo and has to help save both worlds from the evil Sabine. This one is kind of reminiscent of the ‘His Dark Materials’ series by Philip Pullman, but with a completely unique cast of characters. What’s extra nice about this series is that the teenagers are actually believable AS TEENAGERS. For some reason, it seems very difficult for the average author to write a believable teenager. I haven’t finished the entire series, but this seems like a great one for the young adult fantasy nut!

NPCs (Drew Hayes)

I LOVED this book! For those of you who don’t game (that includes22088245 myself, though I am a bit of a gaming voyeur, I suppose), a NPC is a Non-Player Character in a role playing game, like Dungeons & Dragons. Basically anyone who isn’t played by a real person, like the pub owner or the guy selling cabbages, is a NPC. In this book, the NPCs in a game end up having to take over a quest for the actual players in order to save their hometown from being destroyed by the king. The humor is great, the characters believable, and the world building awesome. There are a lot of inside jokes for gamers, but anyone who likes fantasy will enjoy this as well.

Honorable Mention:

Welcome to Night Vale (Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor)

We’re only supposed to do five and this isn’t technically a book (though they DO have a novel now so I’m counting it), but I can’t resist adding in my favorite podcast, ‘Welcome to Night Vale’. My favorite description of this podcast is that “it’s like Steven King and Neil Gaiman made a Sim City together and left it running for a few years”. Yeah…it’s THAT GOOD!

WtNV is a community radio program for a city (called Night Vale, obvs) where pretty much every conspiracy theory you’ve every heard of is true. The characters and story lines are all really off the wall, but somehow still completely believable. The fan base is amazing as well, welcoming to everyone regardless of age, gender, anything (and you should see their fanart, wow!), probably because the podcast itself is so welcoming (as long as your name isn’t Steve, lol). You should all definitely check it out!

WelcometoNightVale

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Well, there you have it, my less well-known list of recommendations for sci-fi and fantasy lovers. I tried to get a mixture in there for you, so I hope you found something that sounds interesting!

Book Review – Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper

Book: Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper – Author: Jackson Lear

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Supernatural-ish

Description from Goodreads:

The Grim Reaper finds himself confronted with his most challenging death ever: that of Kingston Raine, an industrial thief and all-round smartass. Soon he comes to realize that Kingston may be the only one capable of thwarting a coup that threatens the entire afterlife. Unfortunately, Kingston just did the impossible and found a way to escape back to his own universe.

My Review:

::opens mouth to speak::
::closes mouth::
::opens mouth again::
“….uh…well?…”
::closes mouth::

Ok, first things first: I liked this book, I really did. But how to describe it without spoilers? Hm….

General description time: Limbo is run by a corporation called Death Inc, whose CEO is, of course, Death himself. During the latest coup, Death accidentally manages to kill a fictional character named Kingston Raine. Kingston turns out to be clever and crazy enough to steal Death’s scythe and zap himself back into the fictional universe…just not HIS fictional universe. Mayhem ensues.

Bibliophiles will get a kick out of this one, as Kingston manages to stumble into some of the greatest literary characters of all time during his journey to get back home. I had fun trying to guess along with Kingston which book he was in, so I won’t divulge WHICH characters, but there’s some good ones in there. And I want to applaud the author for sticking to the original version of the tales (you’ll know which one I’m talking about when you get to it).

This book was hilarious. Who knew Death and Satan could be so humorous? 😉 Their banter and the quips coming from Kingston & crew kept everything fairly upbeat. You can tell that the author has a good sense of humor.

He also writes people very well. All of the characters, both “real” and “fictional”, came across very realistically. These were people you could see yourself hanging out with; my favorite type of characters. And, come on, the author actually got a cheer out of me when Satan turned up towards the end, that’s just good writing. 😉

All in all I highly recommend this book for people looking for a fun read. One of the other reviews I read called it “madcap” and I heartily agree. If you can suspend your disbelief enough to just go with it, this book will take you on quite the ride.

Special note: The Kindle version of this book is currently free on Amazon (3/8/2017). Also, subscribe to the author’s mailing list, you can download this book and the sequel for free (http://www.jacksonlear.com/).

Similar Book(s):

I honestly really just want to write “Dogma” here, because the movie has a similar feel (although a LOT more vulgarity and drama). That’s probably not super helpful, though, so I’m going to go with:

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

 

 

Book (aka Life) Burnout

Alas, the wall has been hit. I have finally caved into my first big book burnout of the year. I’ve started 6 books in the last week and can’t bring myself to really care about any of them. 😦

In this case, though, it may actually be a case of Life Burnout, since I can’t bring myself to crochet or enjoy my favorite shows either. Playing on Facebook is boring. Going to work is an even bigger chore than normal. All I want seem to want to do is cuddle with my dog and sulk. Sigh. I hate it when I get like this.

Suggestions? What do you do to motivate yourself when you have hit the dreaded ennui?

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While you ponder your reply, here is a short list of the books I am trying to entice myself into reading. Let me know if you have read any yourself and think they are worth pushing through the fog for. 🙂

  1. Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)
  2. An Uninvited Guest (EJ Copperman)
  3. Kington Raine and the Grim Reaper (Jackson Lear)
  4. Devil in the White City (Erik Larson)
  5. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley)
  6. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo) – This one is my year-long goal. 😉

I’ve actually gotten decently far into both Mistborn and Kingston Raine, so I’m hopeful about finishing them. Kingston is much more playful than Mistborn, though, so I’ll probably try to stick with that one for now, especially since my copy of Mistborn in over 600 pages long!

Any book suggestions to help my with my burnout? I’m trying to find something fun that will grab my attention quickly. My burnout brain tends to drop books if they haven’t grabbed me within 30 pages or so. :/ Any genre will do, though I’m really not fond of romances. Please help!

(Cover photo: Hyperbole and a Half)

Top 5 Wednesday – Fictional Dream Jobs

Time for another Top 5 Wednesday!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic:
Fictional Jobs You’d Want to Have

Muggle Studies Teacher (Harry Potter)

hogwartsI’ve always though this would be a fun job, but only if done properly. Instead of just teaching the wizard-born kids about muggles, you need to also teach the muggle-born about the wizarding world! Get the kids involved! Have them all give presentations on things they think the other kids should learn about. Pair them up and have them write essays about how wizards and muggles would accomplish the same tasks. Have them swap their favorite novels and candies. Get them together for mock gobstones and soccer tournaments. And, of course, “Movie Fridays”. 😉

Owner of Small Bookstore (The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend)

Ok, so this one is a real job, but I LOVE the idea of it, booksstoreeven if for me it would probably never pan out. See, I don’t want to just own a small bookstore. I want to own a small bookstore in a small town. Something cozy, where people can escape the real world for a while and hunker down with a good book. Comfy chairs, warm atmosphere. Sounds like heaven. 🙂

Magizoologist (Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them)

Harry Potter Take 2, but this time with animals. I would LOVE to explore the world and find new exotic animals…but only if I can do magic to help me study them and keep the bugs away. 😉newt

Owner of Small Teashop (Death by Darjeeling)

teashopAlso a real job, but still a little out of reach for me. A quaint little teashop (yes, in a small town) where people could pop in for a warm cuppa and a cookie. We could host little events, like book clubs or small luncheons. Mix up our own concoctions and have “Fun Tea Friday” at half price for anyone adventurous enough to give it a go. There’d be a book nook, of course, where you could snuggle down with your drink and a happy novel. Also heaven. 🙂

Gardening Detective (Rosemary & Thyme)

Ok, this one is kind of just for fun. But can you roseimagine, playing detective while being surrounded by so much beauty? A smidgen of danger, just enough to make things interesting, but not so much that you are constantly anxious. An interesting mystery, but not too difficult to figure out. And gorgeous scenery, even if you have to make it yourself. Sounds like a blast!

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So you’ve seen mine, now tell me…what would YOUR fictional dream job be?

Top 5 Wednesday – Out of the Slump

Hey guys, this week I’m actually going to follow the listed topic! Yea for me! 😉

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic:
Books to Get You Out of a Reading Slump

Here are five books that reminded me why I love reading. 🙂

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry (Fredrick Backman)

23604559This was a wonderful book that pulled me out of my most recent reading slump. I plan to do a full review at some point, because I absolutely loved it.

Do you remember that movie “Big Fish” starring Ewan McGregor? This story is kind of similar to that, except the main character is still the little girl who believes in her Grandmother’s stories. Over the course of the book, she learns the truth behind the fiction and comes to understand her family and neighbors on a much deeper level. I HIGHLY recommend this one.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds (Cat Winters)

Wow, this book caught me by surprise. I had been interested enough13112915 to buy the book, so I knew that I’d probably like it, but I wasn’t expecting to become enthralled enough to read it in one sitting!

This story follows a 16yo girl in 1918, who is struggling to deal with the Spanish Influenza epidemic and the loss of her sweetheart to WWI. Mary never believed in ghosts, not until her beau returned to her, desperate to tell her his tale.

This one had a nice romance, a good dose of the supernatural, and wonderful world building. Great book!

Weird West Tales (Mike Resnick)

8253037Well, technically this is a series, but it’s my current go-to for when I need something fun to read that I know I’ll enjoy.

Now, normally, I’m not a fan of westerns, but a steampunk western featuring one of my favorite outlaw/lawman Doc Holliday? That also has cameos from Thomas Edison, Ned Buntline, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, and Theodore Roosevelt? Johnny Ringo is a zombie? Bat Masterson gets turned into a real bat?! Geronimo is an actual magic wielding shaman?!? And the next book has a frickin’ DINOSAUR on the cover?!?!? …Count me in!

Cuckoo Song (Francis Hardinge)

This is the book that introduced me to the amazing Francis Hardinge.23344750 I’ve only gotten to read two of her books so far, but both were wonderful.

Yes, the book is as creepy as the cover. 😉 But it’s a fascinating look into what I consider one of the most interesting tales from folklore (no spoilers, I promise; I could see people who are unfamiliar with the lore not figuring it out until pretty far into the book). The author’s world/character building is practically flawless in this one and I could NOT put it down.

Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (Allie Brosh)

2D9725260-coverIn all honesty, this is more of a “life slump” book for me than a reading slump. This is one of a handful of books that I turn to when I’m having an awful day, especially if I don’t have a real reason to feel awful.

I’ve done a full review on this book already, but this is honestly one of the most funny, touching, and relatable books I have ever come across. If you are going through a tough time, especially if you are dealing with depression, I highly recommend this book and the website it was based on. The author has hit a rough patch herself at the moment and hasn’t updated in a while, but what IS there is fantastic and I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me.