March 5, 2013

Review of The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners by Libba Bray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pub. Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 592

Short Sweet Synopsis:  Evie, a spunky teenage girl, is exiled from her boring hometown to the bustle streets of New York City where she becomes friends with a Ziegfield girl and meets a rakish pickpocket.  She lives with her uncle in a museum of the occult and uses her secret gift to help investigate a slew of gruesome murders.

I have a new favorite Libba Bray book and it is "The Diviners"!  Speakeasies, flappers, prohibition, anti-immigration, the KKK, eugenics, spunky female characters, and the Occult!!!  What is there not to love about this book?  Some of you may say the length, but as a slow reader and someone who can't stand books that make me feel like I'm watching paint dry, "The Diviners" kept my attention from start to finish.  Usually I am antsy to finish a book so I can start a new one, but this didn't happen with "The Diviners".

I listened to the audio book and the narration was fantastic.  I don't usually listen to audio books from start to finish (I switch between the book and the audio), but I sat for hours staring at the wall engrossed in the audio book.  I did read some of the book; however, I found myself missing the narrator and usually switched back after 20 minutes.

I didn't realize when I started the book that it was part of a series, but realized it towards the end of the book that there was no way Libba Bray would be able to explain all the mysteries and questions I had.  Usually I cringe when I realize a book is part of a series; this was not the case with "The Diveiners", I can't WAIT to get my hands on the next book!  If Libba Bray tried to wrap up "The Diviners" in one book, it would have been TERRIBLE.  The plot and characters are just too rich; the book would have just fallen flat.

You know a book is fantastic when you have a pile of books on your "to-read list", but none of them sound intriguing anymore.

February 10, 2013

Review of "The Fire Horse Girl"

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman
Pub. Date: January 1, 2013
Pages: 336
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Short Sweet Synopsis:  Strong headed girl dreams of finding her place in the world. Feels unwanted in China and does everything she can to get to America.

"The Fire Horse Girl" was a nice surprise.  Jade Moon is a strong female character; while she doesn't always make the best decisions, readers will enjoy her spirit.  Based on the cover of the book, I was expecting this to be kind of like a modern day Mulan, but I was happy that the main focus of the book was on Jade Moon's journey to America.  I had not heard of Angel Island and was very interested in learning about this aspect of US history.  I knew that Chinese came to America and landed in California, but I hadn't read or heard anything about the process before.

I only had one issue about the book, how did she conceal her period?  I know this might sound crass, but seriously, how would a girl pretending to be a guy hide it from everyone for months?  If I could give this book a 3.5, I probably would.  Such a big plot hole just took away from the believability of the story.

“The Fire Horse Girl” is filled with characters with depth.  I liked that I couldn’t tell what a character would do from one minute to the next.  Some characters disappointed me, but their flaws made them more realistic.

I recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction, Asian American literature, or who enjoy books with strong female characters.

*Received an advanced reader from NetGalley.

January 27, 2013

2012 Wrap

It’s that time of the year again; time to recollect on all the junk you've eaten in the past few months, come up with goals for 2013 and reflect on all the amazing books you read last year.  I’ll begin by focusing on my favorite books released in 2012 and then share my top books that were not released in 2012.

My absolute favorite Book released in 2012:

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
“The Fault in Our Stars” is a must read! It is now my favorite book by acclaimed author John Green.  Hazel and Augustus are characters with depth and personality.  You will be laughing and crying while reading “Fault in Our Stars”, so be sure to have a box of kleenex on hand.  I didn't think the book could get any better and then I listened to the audio book;  the narrator captures Augustus perfectly.

Favorite Realistic Fantasy/ Sci-fi Book (and close second place):
Every Day
David Levithan

"Every Day" is hard to describe, but I think realistic fantasy sums it up. While it has fantastical elements, the main character waking up in a new body every morning, the story still deals with real issues.   The characters are regular people in our world dealing with both normal and paranormal issues. 

"Every Day" has a unique plot and great characters that will keep readers of all ages up all night frantically reading to find out what will happen next!

Favorite Historical Fiction/ Paranormal (and third overall):
The Diviners
Libba Bray

I have a new favorite Libba Bray book and it is "The Diviners"!  Speakeasies, flappers, prohibition, anti-immigration, the KKK, eugenics, spunky female characters, and the Occult!!! What is there not to love about this book?  Some of you may say the length, but as a slow reader and someone who can't stand books that make me feel like I'm watching paint dry, "The Diviners" kept my attention from start to finish.   Tip to commuters: this if a wonderful audio book!

Shadow and Bone
Leigh Barduco

Whether you are looking for a great fantasy book or just an amazing book,
 "Shadow and Bone" will satisfy both cravings.  
The characters, plot, setting, pace, and writing are all awesome!   There is a great play between good and evil; and beauty and ugly that continues throughout the book.

Other Great Books Released in 2012:

     Best Books Read in 2012 that Were NOT released in 2012:

Did I read 100 books like I challenged myself to?  Yup!  I ended the year having read a grand total of 119 books!  If I had been keeping track better I would list them all for you, but I would rather give you useful content, like reviews, instead of typing out the books individually.  I'll try to keep better track this year.

I finally got a new computer AND figure out why it wasn't working!  After months of spotty internet connections and slow website loading, I am back to the world of full keyboards and constant internet connectivity.  :)  

Review of "The Raven Boys"

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Pub. Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 409
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Short and Sweet Synopsis: Girl raised by psychics meets her destiny when a group of boys from the preppy private school enters he life.

I have read all of Maggie Stiefvater's book and really enjoyed them, so I was very disappointed while reading "The Raven Boys".   It just felt like there was too much going on int he book.  While the plot was interesting, it just moved too slowly.  The book didn't feel like a smooth flow of character and plot development.  The lore in the book was complex and took away from the progress of the story.  I like fully developed characters, but I didn't connect with half the cast and it slowed down the plot even more than the  mythology.  Blue was a very interesting character and I would have liked to learn more about her family.  I never really warmed up to Gansey; while he had his moments of being human, he felt like a robot.  I did enjoy Noah and wish he had been more central in the book.

Another problem was that I listened to the audio book and I just did not like the narrator. I should have stopped listening when I realized I wasn't a fan, but I was hoping it would get better. I had faith that Maggie's writing would pull me through, which it did, but not enough for me to fall for the series.

Sadly, the book moved too slowly and I wasn't hooked until the end. It was interesting, but I will not be reading the rest of the series. Maggie Stiefvater is a great writer, I'm sure many people will enjoy this book and find the series very satisfying; unfortunately, this series just isn't for me.