T5W – Judging a Book by its Cover

Crud puppies! I completely forgot to do my T5W yesterday! That’s what happens when you stay home sick on a Monday; it throws your whole week off. 😉

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is Favorite SFF Cover Art! Tough category, but here are a few that really drew me in.

Meddling Kids (Edgar Cantero)

32905343

This book is a kind of horror satire of the 1970’s Scooby Doo and the cover does a great job of capturing the essence of those old cartoons.

Shutter (Courtney Alameda)

20757532

This cover is just creepy. It was what first drew me to the book when I was scrolling around Goodreads and it matches the storyline perfectly.

Leven Thumps and the Eyes of Want (Obert Skye)

1211904

Really the entire series has wonderful covers, but this one is my favorite. It’s just gorgeous!

End Games (T. Michael Martin)

13228537

Another horror, I know, but you have to admit the cover is neat. It has a wonderfully creepy feel and I love how they turned the trees into zombies.

The A.I Gang series (Bruce Coville)

51D47QJZSJL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_

Ok, yeah, I need to explain this one. No, the artwork isn’t the best. But, you have to admit, 90’s era kid’s book artists really knew how to draw in the reader. All three covers show the main characters right in the midst of action, battling mortal danger. Exactly what you’re looking for when you want an adventure.
Let’s compare that to the 2014 version…
23827585
Seriously? Come on now. Which would YOU have picked up as a kid?


Show me yours! What are some of your favorite covers?!?

Book Review – Caraval

Book: Caraval – Author: Stephanie Garber

Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy

Description from Goodreads:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

My Review:

I’ve seen my share of bad reviews for this book, but I actually really enjoyed it. The idea behind the game of Caraval is intriguing. It’s basically a giant cosplay-treasure hunt, where you can trade secrets and wishes for magical items and dreams. And at the end, if you solve the mystery, you may just win the prize of a lifetime. But don’t get TOO caught up or Caraval could become your downfall.

I’ll be completely upfront: the main character, Scarlett, is about as angst-ridden as you can get. Her father is a monster, her arraigned marriage is a mystery, her sister is missing, and then she starts falling for a guy who could be anyone. But somehow, she never comes off as annoying. I actually really liked Scarlett. I felt pretty bad for her situation and spent most of the book going “Come on, I know you can do this! You got this one, Scar!” I also really liked her sister, though she’s not in the forefront of the novel for very long.

The action in this one never stopped coming. I actually read the book in about 5 hours, which isn’t too bad for an over 400 page book, and most of that can be attributed to the fact that I spent about 85% of the book on the edge of my seat. The author really knows how to keep you guessing: Is creepy Dante really Master Legend? Or is Legend actually the mysterious Julian, the sailor who arrived just in time to carry the girls off to Caraval? Will Scarlett escape her father and will she ever find her lost sister? What is real and what is just the game?

This one was a knuckle-biter from start to finish. I highly recommend it to people who like adventurous books with a dash of romance thrown in (yes, I even liked the romance in this one 😉 ). I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel!

Similar Book(s):

The Night Circus – Erin Morganstern

Book Review – Six of Crows

Book: Six of Crows – Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy

Description from Goodreads:

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first..

My Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. Bardugo managed to build an entirely original, yet realistic, world. I found myself trying to compare the countries with our own and, though there were similarities, there were enough differences that the world seemed completely new and exciting.

The diverse cast was very interesting. Having most of them be from different countries gave them each a very unique viewpoint towards the war and the mission itself. I don’t think there were two characters who came from similar backgrounds, even when they grew up in the same city, and it was their individual qualities that made them work so well as a team, even if they didn’t always want to.

I don’t usually like it when the POV jumps around, but in this instance I think it worked. I liked how the inner-thoughts of each character were used to lead into their history and how they explained the perspective of each character. It really helped me understand them all individually rather than just focusing on a single character or the group as a whole.

I will admit, as I have several times before, that I am not fond of romances, and so much of this book seemed to focus on the yearnings of the characters that it almost turned me off. The adventure and writing style of the book are what kept me going. I was truly curious as to what would happen during the mission and whether or not all of the crew would make it out alive. Bardugo has an easy writing style that allows you to read quickly enough that you can flow through the adventure almost as easily as watching a movie and, with an adventure this broad and exciting, that is a great thing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy, group adventures…or just a good scoundrel. Be ready for some romancy-angst, though, and be aware that there is a sequel!

Similar Book(s):

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

 

Chocolate Fest & Book Faire

Can you believe it? My tiny corner of the world (or, well, the town adjacent to my tiny corner of the world) actually holds an Annual Chocolate Fest & Book Faire. I have died and gone to Heaven!

The event takes place in downtown Martinsburg, West Virginia (USA). Several shops on “Main Street” host local authors and you can grab a piece of chocolate while you chat! The local chocolate factory, DeFluri’s Fine Chocolates, also runs tours. And, yes, they DO give samples and their chocolate is delicious! 😉

18194674_10105155331676049_7685616395523979333_n
There was also a cupcake tasting, yum! 🙂

I snagged six new books from four local authors:

It was really nice getting to meet the authors. You could tell how excited they were about sharing their books with people. They even all signed the books I bought! 🙂 I have to finish up my library books first, but I can’t wait to get started on these. They all look really good!

20170501_155910

In extra cool news, I was chatting with Laura Ellen Scott and mentioned my book blog, so she offered to put me in touch with her publishing company, Pandamoon Publishing, to see if they would be willing to get me more books to review! I’ve already gotten a message on Goodreads from her company and another author! 😀

Book Review – Welcome to Night Vale

Book: Welcome to Night Vale – Author: Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Supernatural-ish

Description from Goodreads:

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked “King City” by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.

Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: “King City”. It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it.

My Review:

The Podcast – Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor have built something so completely unique with this podcast that it’s very difficult for me to describe. The cast of characters is extremely diverse: from our favorite radio host, Cecil Palmer, to the real 5-headed dragon, Hiram McDaniels, this is a crazy wonderful cast. The plots of the show are all based loosely (and not so loosely) on real conspiracy theories and contain everything from a giant glow cloud that drops dead animals (ALL HAIL) to a mysterious desert other-world to an overreaching corporation run by a smiling god. See? Very hard to explain. The best I can do is share my all-time favorite review of the podcast: “It’s like Steven King & Neil Gaiman got together to build a Sim City and just left it running for a few years”. Seriously awesome. 🙂

The Book – This book was just as wonderful as the podcast. It gave us an in-depth look at several “side characters” from the show and tied up a few plot lines. It also contained a full storyline of its own, though with several call backs that pointed out some rather clever foreshadowing they had done in the podcast.

I especially liked the Library sequence, since I’ve always been curious as to what those exactly those horrible Librarian monsters are and what a Library in Night Vale actually looks like. Turns out it looks like any other library…filled with horrific monsters that want to kill you, making any attempt to use the Library like running a gauntlet where you have to remain completely silent and hope your weaponry holds out. You know, just the usual. 😉

The King City mystery was really interesting and finally took us outside of our small town for a glimpse of what else this world holds. The authors described the town so well, that it felt like I was actually walking down the streets, looking at the abandoned shops myself. The plot line with the Man in the Tan Jacket finally cleared up the story behind this mysterious character who has been wandering around Night Vale for quite some time. Wow, I was not expecting that!

And the thing with the pink flamingos was great. I just love all the completely off the wall things these the guys come up with!

No review is complete without giving props to the Voice of Night Vale, Cecil Baldwin. I was lucky enough to purchase the audio version of this book, so I got to spend several hours basking in his melodious tones. (Really, he has a GREAT voice.) He didn’t do super well at trying to sound like the female main characters, but his voice is so naturally deep, that I’ve forgiven him for it. 😉 The rest of the book was very well done; he just makes the reading sound so natural, like he’s having a conversation with you. I’m very glad I got the audio version, reading it on paper just isn’t the same experience.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an interesting, touching, completely crazy adventure. You don’t necessarily have to have listened to the podcast to understand what’s going on, but it would definitely help. There are some small details that you won’t pick up on if you haven’t done your homework. 😉 You can find out how to listen to the show here: http://www.welcometonightvale.com/listen

Similar Book(s):

Can I just list all the WtNV books here? Lol!

Mostly Void, Partially Stars – WtNV Episodes, Year 1
The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe – WtNV Episodes, Year 2

And the new book, It Devours, is now available for pre-order!

T5W – Give Me More!

Hi all! Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Authors You Want to Read More From.

Here’s my list of authors who I desperately need to read more of, regardless of whether I’ve only read one book or several.

Laini Taylor – Well, if you’ve been reading my blog the last couple of weeks, then you know I have a new obsession, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. This book was just completely wonderful; the characters were all very complex, the plot was extremely interesting, the world building was superb, and the writing in general was just beautiful. I definitely need to give her other books a try!

Neil Gaiman – Always a winner, Neil Gaiman has an amazing talent for world & character building. He manages to make even the most unbelievable stories seem completely believable. I’ve only read a handful of his novels so far; thankfully, though, he’s fairly prolific in the book department, so I can continue reading his work for a long time.

Francis Hardinge – Last year I read my first novel by this author, Cuckoo Song, and it completely amazed me. I decided then and there that I had to get my hands on more of her novels. Thankfully, my tiny library has several of her books, so I was able to snag The Lie Tree as well. I can’t wait to try out more!

Fredrik Backman – I have currently only read one book by this author, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry. It was just fantastic! Apparently a lot of his books contain at least vague references to characters from his other novels, and I loved the characters in this book so much that I’m ecstatic about not having to let them go. I think I’ll read Britt-Marie Was Here next!

Fannie FlaggFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is one of my all-time favorite novels (and movies). I can’t believe I’ve never read any of her other work! I recently found A Redbird Christmas at a rummage sale and received the audio version of The Whole Town’s Talking from a Goodreads’ giveaway, so hopefully I can get more read soon.

________________

How about you? What authors would you recommend I try?

 

Netflix Book Tag

While scrolling through my Reader list on WordPress, I stumbled across this fun little book tag (sources at the bottom). Turns out that it’s quite the fad on Youtube!

Recently Watched
The last book you finished reading 

The Haunting of Gillespie House by Darcy Coates – This was a good little suspense/horror novel. Not TOO scary, but still kept me on my toes. The author included a short story he had written, which inspired this novel.

Top Pick
A book that has been recommended to you based on books you’ve previously read

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan – People keep telling me that I will like this series. Apparently it’s ‘right up my alley’. I’m sure I’ll start it eventually.

Recently Added
The last book you bought 

Stranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer – I made myself give up buying books for Lent this year, so I bought one final present right before it started. The story sounds cute, Colfer is a good writer, and honestly, it had the word Fanfiction in the title, so I was intrigued. 😉

Popular on Netflix
Books that everyone knows about. (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading)

Read: Paper Towns by John Green – I really enjoyed this book. I thought the characters were all pretty interesting and the plot was fun. More light-hearted than The Fault in Our Stars, but still introspective.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I’m reading this one right now and it’s pretty good so far! I like all the characters (at this point anyway) and I’m really curious to see if they will accomplish their mission.

Not Reading: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman – I love Neil Gaiman AND mythology, but I’m so far into the Myths & Legends podcast (highly recommend!) that I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all the myths that will be covered in this book. I may still read it eventually, but I’m not falling over myself to get it right now.

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp – I was in high school during Columbine and I just can’t bring myself to read this book. Even seeing it brings up memories of being terrified, walking down the halls looking for hiding places, praying it wouldn’t happen at my school…I just can’t.

Comedies
A funny book: 

The Martian by Andy Weir – It’s pretty impressive that a true sci-fi book, with all the technobabble involved in that genre, can still make me laugh as much as this book did. I binged this one in 6 hours and a lot of my sticking with it had to do with the humor.

Dramas
A character who is a drama queen/king.

Can I say Harry Potter here? Will people stop speaking to me? – Order of the Phoenix especially. He’s a total butthead in that one! Granted, he’s a 15 year old boy, but really; I almost gave up on the series at that point. JK’s writing skills were the only thing that kept me going.

Animated
A book with cartoons on the cover

Hyperbole & a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh – This is one of my all time favorite books. If you are having a bad day and need a bit of cheering up, you should definitely try this one. 🙂

Watch It Again
A book/book series that you want to re-read

The Tapestry series by Henry H. Neff – I’ve been trying to purge my shelves a bit, donating to the local library and mission, and I can’t seem to bring myself to get rid of these books. I really should re-read them to jog my memory of why I liked them so much!

Documentaries
A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day – Considering that it’s likely you are a nerd to some degree if you are reading my blog, I’d definitely recommend this memoir to everyone, even if you have never heard of Felicia Day (though you should really look her up if you haven’t heard of her; she’s totally awesome!)

Action and Adventure
An action packed book

Cuckoo Song by Francis Hardinge – This book was amazing. Well written, action-packed, suspenseful, full of interesting characters & mythology…plus you were never quite sure if the main characters were going to make it!

New Releases
A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I was shocked that my library already had this one, since it came out like a month ago, so I grabbed it immediately. All the 5-star reviews were right; this book is AMAZING! I’m completely distraught that it just came out and I have no idea when the next one will be published. 😦

______________________

Sources: I snagged this book tag from The Paperback Pilgrim and the photo from A Book Lovers Playlist.