Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Golden Son
(Red Rising Saga #2)
Publication Date: January 6, 2015
Hardcover, 430 pages, Del Rey
Genres: Sci-Fi

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation.

Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within.

A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

My Review

It took me a while to get to this Red Rising sequel, but boy, am I glad I did. I don’t know how Pierce Brown makes this crazy sci-fi world so addicting, but I dig it.

One major reason I love this series so much is how I never know what’s going to happen next. The storyline constantly surprised me, and that ending was so brutal. If I would have had book #3, Morning Star, with me, I would have immediately started reading it just because I need to know what happens next. Golden Son leaves off on a crazy, terrible, brutal cliffhanger.

Of course, the characters are mostly the same from book one, but I did love Darrow’s development in this book. At first, I was getting sick of his underlying holier-than-thou, I’m-the-man attitude, but by the end of the book, he’d redeemed himself so very much. I felt like his development was a natural progression within the storyline.

As for why I’m only giving the book 4.5 stars instead of the full five, well… there’s really two reasons. One reason has to do with the lack of competent, powerful women in this series. I feel like sometimes the few women who are in the book rely too much on Darrow and other men to make things better, or they’re made out to be martyrs. The women on the opposing/evil side are, of course, made out to be wicked stepmother-ish. It wasn’t a huge problem for me while I was reading, but I did catch it happening.

Another small complaint I have is the jargon. Sometimes, it was hard to follow because of the crazy language. I know that that’s what a good sci-fi novel is based on, its ability to create new and unique worlds, but it got a little crazy at times, especially during battle scenes. But, man, were those battle scenes crazy. Again, every scene completely surprised me.

All in all, this series is one I’m happy to continue with. I have Morning Star on hold at my local library, and I’m going to be impatiently waiting for Iron Gold to release next year.


*Note: I purchased a copy of this book for myself. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jodi Meadows and Co. Launch Event Recap

So if you saw my Stacking the Shelves post yesterday, you know that I went to the Jodi Meadows launch event for Before She Ignites in NYC. Jodi Meadows wasn’t the only YA author there, however. C.J. Redwine, Erin Summerill, and Dhonielle Clayton were also there to promote their books.


C.J. Redwine was one of the authors on my list of authors I wanted to meet, so I knew I had to go to this event, even if it meant spending more money than I should. What was really sad about the signing, though, is that C.J. Redwine is one of my favorite authors. I LOVE The Courier’s Daughter trilogy (Logan + Rachel = OTP), but I left the entire trilogy and the first book in her Ravenspire companion series at my parents’ house! ACK!

I also left The Orphan Queen, the first book in Jodi’s fantasy duology, at my parents’ house as well. I was so sad when I realized I wouldn’t be able to get my favorite trilogy by C.J. signed. I’m still a little bitter, but I guess the world goes on… *sigh*

Anywho, I forced my roommates to come to the NYC Books of Wonder launch event with me, and I just thought I’d share as many details as I remember/took notes over.

***

The event itself wasn’t very large. There were about 20 chairs set up, and even though I was there only a half an hour early, I still got a seat. It also started a little late because Dhonielle, author of Tiny Pretty Things, was running late (she continuously joked throughout the panel that she runs late when she’s on deadline).


Once things got started, the moderator asked some questions. I’ve provided them below, but I don’t have a photographic memory; thus, they won’t be word-for-word transcriptions.

Q: How do fairytales and fantasy stories provide inspiration for you in your writing?

CJ: Fairytales were, in the past, verbal stories. They always seem like brief synopses of larger stories. I wanted to look in between the cracks of those fairytales and answer the whys. Also, fairytales translate scary things from real life into fantasy. Witches and goblins are lenses for real life problems.

Dhonielle: I made up my own fairytales for The Bells. (Note: The Bells is her upcoming release.)

Erin: Fairytales connect.

Dhonielle (left), some random woman's head, and Erin (right)

Jodi: They provide social commentary.

CJ: I got frustrated with stories like Snow White’s where she would be okay with cleaning some random dudes’ house.

 Q: What is a book that has been influential to you that has its issues, but is still good? And, what is a book that is good and revisionist?

Dhonielle: Narnia and The Indian in the Cupboard have their issues, but they’re good stories. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland is just good.

Erin: Robin McKinley has misogynistic elements. The Babysitters Club and The Giver by Lois Lowry have their issues.

CJ: Narnia and the Grimm’s fairytales have problematic elements. Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns turned tropes.

Jodi: Mercedes Lackey is influential but has issues. Girls Made of Snow and Glass, a fairytale retelling, is really good.

Q: What’s your writing process like?

Jodi: I stress knit and cry. I knit a cape and Outlander gloves. I used to binge write, but I don’t do that anymore.

CJ: I don’t outline, but I develop my characters beforehand.

C.J. (left) and Jodi (right)

Erin: My process involves a lot of Hot Tamales and Coke Zero. I also plot out my characters, as well as the story’s middle. Then, I go to the beginning and end. I also write with my eyes closed.

Jodi: I watched her type with her eyes closed once without Erin knowing.

Dhonielle: My writing partner helps me outline, or I wouldn’t do it. I have to handwrite everything, then type it all up. I also leave the country if I’m on deadline so I can gain extra hours. I plan on going to Australia next. I might visit Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Basically, Dhonielle recommended time travel to aspiring writers.
An audience member also asked a question about writing other books and how easy/hard it was to write another book once that first book/series is complete.

Jodi: Each book is challenging in different ways, and each is harder than the last.

After the writing- and book-related questions, a HarperCollins editor asked about the stuffed bat that was sitting in front of Erin on the table. Because I don’t remember exactly who said what, I’ll just sum it up.

From left: Erin, the stuffed bat, and C.J.
 
C.J., Jodi, and Erin were all staying in the same hotel room for the NYC event the night before. While C.J. and Jodi were sleeping and Erin was doing work on her laptop, a bat started flying around their room. Erin was apparently very traumatized and she started to scream. She threw her bedcovers over her head and yelled. Eventually, they ushered the bat into the hallway and called the front desk. Apparently, later on, they heard and saw two guys trying to catch the bat with giant trash bags. No one else in the hotel was disturbed by all of this.

Last moderator question: What’s next for you?

Jodi: The sequel to My Lady Jane, called My Plain Jane, which I like to describe as Jane Eyre meets Ghostbusters.

CJ: The Traitor Prince, the third companion book in the Ravenspire series.

Erin: Ever the Brave, which is out in December. I also have a standalone book set in the same world as Ever the Hunted coming out next year.

Dhonielle: The Belles is out in February, but I also have a secret project in the fall and a middle grade series out in the summer of 2019.

***

Okay, so that was the panel portion. It was hilarious! I don’t know if my brief summation really gave it justice. That bat story and the time traveling comments had the audience in stitches.

The signing part went by very quickly since there weren’t a ton of people. I was actually sixth in line because I had bought my books at Books of Wonder before the event started.

Jodi was first in the signing line, so I was able to get a quick pic with her. 

Jodi (left) and me (right).

She signed the book with "You are fine."


C.J. was next, and I pretty much acted like a complete fool. I told her that I owned all of her books but I left them back in Missouri.  I rambled. Then, I just went silent. My roommate (who I nominated to take pics for me while I got my books signed) was probably embarrassed by my weirdness.


I didn’t get a picture with C.J., simply because the table was set up weird. I couldn’t really get around it and the other authors to do so. The same thing happened with Erin.


Erin was super nice. She knew how to pose for a picture too, even though she joked that she probably had a weird grimace in one of them.



Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything for Dhonielle to sign. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time to buy everyone’s books. However, Dhonielle lives in NYC and, from what the moderator said, is a frequent author at their events. Thus, I’ll probably get the chance to get a book signed by her again.

All in all, this event was a little hectic for me. It was my first NYC book signing event, and it was the first one that happened right after I got off work. I was mess, but it was still fun. I just hope I get the rest of my C.J. Redwine collection signed by her at some point in my lifetime…

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Stacking the Shelves: The Jodi Meadows Launch Event Edition

 
 "Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

I did a thing this week. A good/bad thing. I went to a book signing/launch event for Jodi Meadows’s new release. However, it wasn’t just Jodi Meadows who was there. C.J. Redwine (the amazing goddess) and Erin Summerill were there too. That obviously meant I had to buy their books in addition to Before She Ignites, right?

I’m never going to have any money. *sigh*

Oh, and I’ll have a recap of the launch event on the blog tomorrow, so stay tuned! You can read all about how traumatizing it was to have left all my C.J. Redwine and Jodi Meadows’s books at my parents’ house.

The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

The next book was a random find. One of my Brooklyn neighbors had set out a bunch of books for grabs on the building’s fence. Most of the titles left were not to my particular tastes, but the one I grabbed sounded good. I still don’t know a lot about it.

Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah (ARC)

All in all, it was a pretty good book week. I spent too much money, though. 

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the pic.
https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=xy1xSglz&id=DD49509D0B85CEA0EB7843A1E0FDF8F1E4EAD624&thid=OIP.xy1xSglzNRF1VbXdwMv_BAFNC7&q=dean+winchester&simid=608022540267816711&selectedIndex=16&ajaxhist=0

I have no idea what Dean’s doing here or what episode this is from. It’s obviously and early season. Dean looks so young! While I love how the character has progressed over the seasons, I do miss Sam and Dean’s na├»ve younger days.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

Batman: Nightwalker
(DC Icons #2)
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Hardcover, 272 pages, Random House Books
Genres: YA, Sci-Fi, Superhero

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

My Thoughts

Leigh Bardugo’s YA Wonder Woman book just released, and I haven’t read it yet. *sigh* I’ll get to it. I just need more money in the bank before I go on a book spending spree. (I say after I buy books for an author signing. Oh, the irony.)

Anywho, I’m not sure how I feel about this Batman book. I really enjoyed Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, so I’m not worried about her writing style. I’m actually more worried about how short it is. It’s less than 300 pages! That doesn’t seem like enough to me.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Inside & Out Book Tag

My second tag post in two weeks. Can you tell I’m running out of post ideas?

This particular tag is called the Inside & Out tag, and it was created by MathomBooks. I originally found it on A Backpack Full of Adventures.

Well, here goes…

I Inside flap/back of the book summaries: Too much info or not enough?

Inside flap is generally too much. I tend to skim it, but the back is never enough. I guess I need a balance between the two.

N New book: What form do you want it in? Audiobook, ebook, paperback, or hardcover?

HARDCOVER. Don’t get me wrong, I like my paperbacks and ebooks as much as the next person, but hardcover is so much easier to keep safe.


S Scribble while you read? Do you like to write, take notes, or make comments in your books? Or do you keep your books clean? (Tell us why)

I don’t take notes in books unless it’s a textbook. I keep my books very clean. Even the dustjackets must be spotless.
I In your best voice, read for us your favorite 1st sentence from a book.

Since this is a blog, and not a vlog, I’ll just share it with you in text form. Also, I don’t really know my favorite first sentence from a book. The only quote I can really remember loving at this moment is from Victoria Aveyard’s King’s Cage, and it’s kind of SPOILERY, so skip this answer if you haven’t read the series yet.

I love your brother, Maven. You were right. You are only a shadow, and who looks at shadows when they have flame? Who would ever choose a monster over a god? – Victoria Aveyard, King’s Cage

D Does it matter to you whether the author is male or female when you’re deciding on a book? What if you’re unsure of the author’s gender?

This depends. If I’m looking for a romance-heavy book, I’m probably going to go with a female author. I want descriptions of cute boys. However, if I want fantasy, action, sci-fi, etc., the gender of the author doesn’t matter.


E Ever read ahead or have you ever read the last page way before you got there?

I don’t read ahead. I used to skim-read back in high school when a book was boring me, though. Now, I do take a peek at the last page, but most of the time it’s to check how many pages there are in the book. Sometimes, this leads to spoilers.

&

O Organized bookshelves or outrageous bookshelves?

I like my shelves to be organized, but right now, I’m living in a new apartment with no bookshelves. My books are not in a good place right now. The ones I left at my parents’ house, however, are semi-organized and arranged how I want them. I still need three or more empty bookcases to really organize them all how I want.

U Under oath: Have you ever bought a book based on the cover alone?

Nope. I may think it’s pretty, but I won’t buy a book unless the inside is somewhat interesting to me.

T Take it outside to read or stay in?

STAY IN. I can’t read outside. I’ve tried. I prefer laying in my bed or on a couch by myself with no distractions around.

**

Alright, there you have it. Those are my answers to the Inside & Out tag.

What are some of your answers to these questions?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist
(Flame in the Mist #1)
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Hardcover, 393 pages, Putnam Books for Young Readers
Genres: YA, Fantasy

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

My Review

It’s been a while since I read this book, so my review is going to be a short one.

Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn duology was a lyrical and beautiful retelling of 1001 Arabian Nights. I had no idea when I picked up the first book how much I would grow to adore Ahdieh’s writing style. However, Flame in the Mist let me down a bit. Let me tell you why…

Okay, so my first reason for being let down was the magic system of the book. I’m not completely sure how it works or what the rules are for who has magic and what the magic does. That needs some explanation to help settle the world-building, which was pretty cool except for the lack of magical explanation.

The second reason has to do with the period-esque language. Each character seemed to talk in metaphors and roundabout speeches that kept me from getting to know them as human beings. I was a tad disappointed since Ahdieh’s first series was so good at creating lovely and realistic characters. Mariko is a strong female character who does remind me a lot of Mulan, but I just wanted to like her more than I did.

Other than those two problems, the story wasn’t bad. It was a good start to what I’m sure will grow to be a great series. It just needs some development in a few areas, and I fully plan on sticking around to see those areas flourish in the sequels.


*Note: I purchased a copy of this book for myself. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fall 2017 Shows I Plan to Watch

Whelp, it’s almost time for the fall television shows to come back on.

I’ve got a list of shows that I’m planning on watching, so I thought I’d share 'em with you.

1. Supernatural


I feel like this one’s a given. I mean, I do Dean Winchester Friday posts. I’ve watched Supernatural since its first season, and I’m not going to stop in its 13th. Dean Winchester is bae. 

Season 13 starts Thursday, October 12.


2. Supergirl


Season two of Supergirl was good, and I want more Karamel (Kara + Mon-El). Plus, season two left off on a kind of cliffhanger, so I need answers. 

Season three premieres Monday, October 9.


3. The Flash


Another CW superhero show that left on a cliffhanger. Season four is coming up, and I’m interested to see where it’s going to go. Hopefully, Barry Allen gets faster and less dramatic. 

Season four premieres Tuesday, October 10.


4. Stranger Things


I wasn’t as obsessed with Stranger Things as some people, but I still found it entertaining. I watched the first season in a week, so I expect season two will take even less time. #thankyouNetflix

Season two premieres Friday, October 22.


5. Fuller House


Yes, this spinoff series has a lot of flaws, but I’m still interested to see where the Tanner kids’ storyline goes. 

Season three airs Friday, September 22.


6. How to Get Away with Murder


I don’t know how I feel about seasons two and three of HtGAwM. Season one was awesome. Season two and three, not so much. I’m gonna keep watching, though, because I love me some Connor and Oliver. 

Season four airs Thursday, September 28.

***

Those are the shows I plan on watching in fall of 2017, what are some that you’re excited for?