T5W – Summer Reads

Hi all! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is “Books That Remind You of Summer”. Now, I don’t really have a lot of books that remind me particularly of summer itself, but I can think of a few that would be great to read in the summer!

This book actually does take place in the summertime, so let’s start with it. 

Where Things Come Back (John Corey Whaley)

12162432The summer before Cullen’s senior year turns into a season of loss and rediscovery. Just as the town is celebrating the reemergence of a bird thought to be extinct, Cullen’s little brother Gabriel goes missing. — I don’t want to give to much away, so I’ll leave it at that, but this was an interesting book. The secondary story, about a missionary in Africa, gets woven into the tale in such a way that you aren’t sure what’s going to happen until the end. I wasn’t a huge fan of the jumping POVs, but it worked ok within the narrative. I’d recommend this one for people who like a little mystery in their ‘coming of age’ tales.

I seem to be reading a lot of “life journey” type books lately, which meshes well with the idea of summer to me. I’m not sure why, it just feels like summer is a good time to find yourself (or others). 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper (Phaedra Patrick)

34532251After Arthur’s wife passes away, he finds a charm bracelet in her closet that he didn’t know she owned. Curious about what the charms mean, he goes on a journey of discovery to find out more about his wife’s life before they met. — I really enjoyed this book. The idea was an interesting one: how well do we REALLY know the people we think we know the best? Finding out about Miriam’s life alongside Arthur was fascinating and watching Arthur coming back to life after his wife’s passing was touching.

The Last Voyage of Sigismund Skrik (Karstin Flohr, John Brownjohn translator)

24965065Sigismund Skrik is the “master hairdresser of the seven seas”. Plying his trade on a transatlantic ship called The Liberty, he meets and chats with quite a wide variety of people, from a circus strong woman to a concert pianist…even some monkeys! — This was a quirky little book. The tale of how Sigismund came to be a hairdresser on a ship is interspersed with the backstories for all the characters he meets. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, lighthearted read with a nice ending.

Gone Tomorrow (P.F. Kluge)

3409917Upon the death of campus legend George Canaris, fellow professor Mark May becomes his executor. Expectations abound on whether or not he will find the infamous, never-published novel that Canaris has supposedly been working on for decades. Finding a kind of memoir instead, we get to follow along on May’s discovery of Canaris’ life. — This book was really interesting. It follows the life of an author who was expected to be the next coming, but instead spent his life as a college professor. Not a great description, I know, but if you enjoy life-story novels, especially about fellow book people, this one would be a good one to pick up.

And now, for something completely different. This was the first book I stayed up all night to finish, so it always reminds me of summer, not because of its content but because of when I read it first. 😉

The Death & Life of Superman (Roger Stern)

110918This book is the novelization of one of the greatest story arcs in the Superman comics. It runs from the death of Supes at the hand of Doomsday (not a spoiler, it’s right there in the title 😉 ) through the aftermath and the rise of the pseudo-Supermen. — I will admit, I’ve never been a big Superman fan (too much of a boy scout for me; I’m a Batman gal all the way), but the story line and the writing of this novel kept my attention well enough for it to become my first ever binge read! I highly recommend it to fans of comics and especially Superman fans.


What books or types of books shout “summer” to you?

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Mini-Reviews – Graphic Novels

Hey guys! I thought I’d do another session of Mini-Reviews because I managed to snag a couple of really good graphic novels the other day! 🙂

Saga, Volume 1 Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist)

Description from Goodreads:

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

My Review:

I didn’t quite know what to expect coming into this one. I hadn’t actually read any reviews for this series other than a few comments from friends on Goodreads which basically all said “Where has this been all my life?!?” Seeing that it also has one of the highest ratings I’ve ever seen on GR, I decided to add it to my list.

Man, am I glad I did! This was one of the most exciting graphic novels I’ve ever read. I’ll admit, I haven’t really branched out of the ‘superhero mainstream’ before in physical comics, so I was delighted to find a full-fledged story with amazingly fleshed out characters.

Apparently not one for shying away from action, the author begins our story with one of the main characters in the midst of childbirth and ends the same scene with a gigantic firefight. What a way to jump into the middle of things! It works really well in this instance, though, by pulling you directly into the story without having to worry about too much setup. It also helps set the tone for the series by letting the reader know upfront how much danger our main duo is in.

The author is really great at making all of the characters seem believable too, which can be difficult in a sci-fi, where you can have anything from spider-women to ghosts. I love that, by the end of Vol 1, we’re already starting to get some backstory for all the main characters. I’m really becoming attached to some of these guys and finding out more about them and how they got into this situation is very interesting.

The artistry of the novel is wonderful as well. The diversity between the different species is very impressive and everything was really well executed. I did however, feel like I’d seen one character somewhere before…

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Left: Prince Robot IV (Saga, 2013), Right: The One Electronic (Rice Boy, 2006-2008)

Very probably a coincidence, but I couldn’t get it out of my brain. 😉

All-in-all, I’d definitely recommend this for sci-fi fans! I’ve already ordered the Volume 2; I can’t wait to get started!

Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile Bill Willingham (Writer), Lan Medina (Artist), Steve Leialoha (Artist), Craig Hamilton (Artist), Mark Buckingham (Cover Artist)

Description from Goodreads:

When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the “mundys,” their name for normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society that they call Fabletown. From their exclusive luxury apartment buildings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, these creatures of legend must fight for their survival in the new world.

My Review:

Oddly, it was the cover that originally drew me into this series (great job, Mr. Buckingham, lol). I literally went “Is that a flying monkey?” and then I noticed the title. I’ve always been a fan of fairy-tales, so I decided right then and there to give this one a go.

I love the idea of fairy-tale characters trapped in our reality. Seeing how each character has established themselves in our world puts a very interesting twist on the original tales. This story mainly focused on Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, and Rose Red, but the author did a great job of pulling in as many characters from different tales as he could. He even got Old King Cole in there!

The mystery in this novel “What happened to Rose Red?” was really interesting. I was pretty stumped as to what happened all the way up to the end. The author did a good job with the pacing of the story, so that the reader was intrigued, but not rushed to a poorly explained conclusion.

Having finished the novel, though, one has to wonder…just where did the creators of ‘Once Upon A Time’ get their idea? A dark force takes over fairy-tale land, leaving our heroes trapped trapped in the mundane world? That sounds awfully familiar…


So how about you guys? Read any good comics lately? Got recommendations?

Bookish Book Lover Tag

Found this on the Thrice Read blog and thought it looked fun!

Rules:

  • Use the original banner.
  • Answer the questions!
  • Use lots of book covers.
  • Tag your friends.

What book are you currently reading?

90360Ireland by Frank Delaney – This is a wonderful little book about a Storyteller in Ireland and the boy he inspires. I’m listening to it on audio, which is probably the best medium for this novel, since it makes you feel like you’re actually sitting and listening to the Storyteller and the boy tell you the history of Ireland.


What’s the last book you finished?

27883214Caraval by Stephanie Garber – I did a review that you can read here, but basically it’s a fun adventure/mystery about a girl searching for her lost sister within a magical treasure hunt.


Favorite book you read this year?

28449207.jpgStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I ADORED this book!!! You can read my review of it here. I can’t wait until the sequel comes out! Unfortunately, since this one literally came out like a month ago, I think I’m in for a long wait.


What genre have you read most this year?

I’ve actually read a good mixture so far this year. Mysteries, fantasies, sci-fi, contemporary fiction, non-fiction…I’ve been all over the place. 🙂


What genre have you read least this year?

90160Western. I’m not really a huge fan of pure westerns (give me a steampunk anyday), but I managed to force myself to read Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey for my reading challenge. My admittedly biased review can be found here. 😉


What genre do you want to read more of?

I’ve been trying to get myself to read more contemporary fiction lately. I have a tendency to stick with mysteries, fantasy, and sci-fi, so part of my reading challenge this year was to branch out a bit. I’m doing pretty well so far.


How many books have you read this year, and what’s your goal?

I have completed 26 books so far this year and am about halfway done with Ireland. My goal is 60 books, which is pretty average for what I read in a year.


What’s the last book you bought?

I actually just picked up 6 book from local authors at a Book Fest last weekend:


What book are you saving up to buy next?

I just recently (finally) read Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fables Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham. I loved them both! I might pick up the second volumes of each this weekend if I happen to swing by my local comic store for Free Comic Book Day.

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How many books did you check out last library visit?

Three. I went in for two, but got three. It’s an addiction, I swear.


What’s a book you can’t wait to read?

28208687I’m actually really looking forward to It Devours by Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor. It’s the next book from the Welcome to Night Vale universe and it sounds pretty interesting. 🙂


What’s a series you’d recommend to everyone?

22088245Hm…tricky. Depends on what genres you like. If you like fantasies (and especially if you like role playing games), then you’d probably enjoy the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series by Drew Hayes. I’ve only read the first book, NPCs, so far, but am looking forward to the next one.


Who’s an author you’re hoping writes more?

28517611Jackson Lear, author of Kingston Raine & the Grim Reaper. This was a fun little book where Death accidentally kills a fictional character who then flees into other books. It’s a bit hard to explain, but I tried my best in this review. It was funny and action-filled, and I highly recommend it, especially to book lovers.


A few books your heart adores?

Oh, this is a hard question! There are so many!…Let’s try, books I would try to save if my house was fire:

  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (the early years)
  • Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman

What series’ coming conclusion makes you sad?

The Weird West Tales series by Mike Resnick. I LOVE this series. It’s a steampunk AU of the old west, complete with classic gunslingers, zombies, magic, dinosaurs (yes, I said dinosaurs) and more. I haven’t started the fourth novel yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s the last one. 😦

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What books are on your wish-list?

27809678Way, WAY too many to list. I do want to pick up the Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling (I’m trying to get the full series). I’ve also been eyeballing The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette, but I’m waiting for the price to go down.

 


My Tags:

I tag anyone and everyone that is reading this tag. I had a lot of fun and would love to see your answers.

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)

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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)

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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)

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

End Games (T. Michael Martin)

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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)

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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…
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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! 😉

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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!

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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! 😀