Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Iron Traitor (review)

3/5 stars

Julie Kagawa, I just can't quit you.  The Iron Traitor (Goodreads | Amazon) is not my favorite of Kagawa's works, but she did enough that I find myself shelving the 3rd in the series to be read on Goodreads and wondering where the story goes from there.  Because that ending, be warned, is a whammy of an ending.

My problems with The Iron Traitor are similar to my problems with The Lost Prince (review here).  As much as I wanted to like Ethan, that little boy Meghan sacrificed so much to save, I just do not connect with him that much.  He's brooding, angry and surly, whereas Meghan was wide-eyed and innocent when she stumbled into faerie.  Ethan puts up walls to protect himself, which makes it hard for other people to connect with him (both characters and readers).

The biggest problem for me continues to be his relationship with Kenzie.  There is too much bickering about their relationship, too much him telling her not to come to protect her and her getting angry and insisting on making her own choices.  Too much Kenzie calling him "tough guy" and me groaning because pet names can get really annoying when they are repeated.  For all of Kenzie's being superglued to Ethan's side, she doesn't really do anything throughout the whole novel, except bossing Ethan around. She's pretty ace at shouting at Ethan but if she's going to be in the story I'd like her to be relevant.

As far as plot, the relationship drama dragged down the story.  Once they arrived in faerie and the action really started, the book hit it's stride from their meeting with the deliciously evil Queen of the Seelie Court, to frolicking Puck showing up and the original brooder Ash even makes an appearance.  All of that leads up to an ending that took me completely by surprise. Will you like this sequel? It probably depends on how much you liked the Ethan/Kenzie dynamic in the first book.

I received an advance reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quick Reviews - The Fourth Bear, The Stolen Child, Over Sea Under Stone

The Fourth Bear

4/5 stars (Goodreads | The Fourth Bear)

This book was a lot of fun, especially as an audiobook.  Despite being the second in a series, I never felt lost or confused by the characters or the plot.  It's always nice to read a series where you don't necessarily have to remember everything from the last book to enjoy the next.  This book is meant to be ridiculous, with a villain like the Gingerbread Man and a fairytale police department would you expect anything else?  A fun, twisting, silly mystery that's great for car rides.

The Stolen Child

4/5 stars (Goodreads | Amazon)
A story of two changelings, the boy who is stolen and the changeling who takes his place, the story is told in alternating points of views.  With both characters you get the longing to return to the human-world.  They are children who aren't children, either growing up without growing old or being old already when they finally get to grow up.  It's an interesting story, more powerful for showing the two perspectives.  While at times the story drags and the passage of time is confusing, the book is very enjoyable and well-worth reading.  I listened to it on audiobook and really enjoyed the narration.

Over Sea, Under Stone

3.5 stars (Goodreads | Amazon)
Another take on Authurian legend and looking for the treasures of King Arthur, which is pretty middle of the road.  The book was good enough, a nice little story about a family staying in Cornwall who find an ancient map.  Evil people, known as "the Dark", try to steal the map and stop their progress.  I listened on audiobook and wasn't very impressed with the narration, particularly when it took on female voices, but it was acceptable. Depending on how much you like variations on King Arthur, the book is a pleasant little story.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Follow Friday - Book in a funny place

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Bookagram: Photograph your fave read in a funny place.
Guys I'm on vacation so I don't have access to my favorite book or anything funny (hotel rooms are decidedly lacking in personality).  So what you'll get is my current read (I'm researching Title IX for NanoWriMo purposes) balanced on my head while taking a selfie on an iPhone.  I feel like I should mention I've had a glass of wine even though I'm feeling zero effects just to make it sound more impressive.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is it quiet around here?

Sorry I've been quiet this week.  I am on currently on vacation.  Despite my best intentions of preparing ahead of time (okay I probably shouldn't have gone to a rock climbing event/camping trip Oct. 12 if my intentions were that good) I have zero reviews queued up.  I have a few books that I intend to review already read and a couple weeks worth of sexism/feminism geekery reports in their rough pure linkage format.  However, none of that is done and since I'm on vacation my motivation is really low. Unless you're a trail to be hiked, which is all my priority list consists of at this point.

So here's a pretty view to bide your time.  I'll have more books and pretty views for you soon.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Follow Friday - Magazines WHAT?

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
What are some of your favorite magazines?
So I don't actually read magazines.  As a reader I feel terrible admitting that.  I used to subscriber to Backpacker until I realized that I just looked at the pictures.  I like Backpacker, really I do, but seriously I kept piling up issues saying that I'd read that next. Back in college I loved Transitions Abroad.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Parasite (review)

4/5 stars

I look forward to every book Mira Grant writes (or Seanan McGuire, her urban fantasy alter-ego) and Parasite (Goodreads | Amazon) was no exception.  The story follows Sally Mitchell, an amnesiac who was declared clinically brain-dead then somehow, miraculously woke up.  Doctors credited her Intestinal Bodyguard, a genetically modified tapeworm that is culmination of modern medicine, with saving her life. Almost every human has one, a parasitic tapeworm that enhances the human immune system, which has been too sanitized by years of medicine, and distributes necessary medications and immunities into it's the human system.

This book is very different from Feed and Sally is a very different main character from Georgia (If you've read Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy). Sally can only remember the last six years of her life.  So despite being an adult, sometimes she's also very young and naive.  She's pushed around by almost everyone, SymboGen Corporation, who want to figure out her miraculous survival, and her parents who have guardianship over her.  She lives with the ghost of a girl she can't remember but everyone expects her to be.

In some ways that makes Sally hard to connect with.  There were huge gaps of her life, and thus pieces of her personality missing.  Even though I rooted for Sally, I didn't really feel her experiences on an empathetic level until the end of the book.  However, by the end of the book I REALLY felt them.

From the onset, the idea of a symbiotic tapeworm living in everyone's intestine, this book is creepy.  The science seems crazy impossible, yet well-researched and feasible.  What scares me the most about Mira Grant books is that they don't seem that far-fetched, like we're a few twists of science away from parasites trying to take over the human race. Like her other books, the complexity of the world-building continues to impress me.  Not only is there the basic plot-line, but inset interviews from magazines, autobiographies and the creepiest children's book known to man, that make the world feel layered and realistic.

While Parasite might not be as good as Feed, it's still a very good book and a series with a lot of potential. By the time I finished the last page I cared (and it's driving me nuts not knowing what happens next).  If you're looking for realistic medical-based science-fiction, then once again Mira Grant has written a winner.

I received an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sexism and Feminism in Geekery 10

As far as I'm concerned, sexism has been put on notice for this week.  Honestly there was way too much to include.  I've left out at least three incidents (which I hope to include next week) because sexism just exploded the past couple of weeks.

David Gilmour Does Not Like Women Writers

Congrats David Gilmour! You are the sexist asshat of the week.  The whole internet exploded in one giant WTF over your terrible comments about how you don't teach women writers. 
I’m not interested in teaching books by women. Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one of her short stories. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I tried to teach Virginia Woolf, she’s too sophisticated, even for a third-year class. Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.
You legit cannot make this stuff up.  Readin the full original article here or the full transcript. You can also read his apology where he admits that the only reason he's apologizing is that his publisher is worried women might not buy his book.  But guys I'm sure he's genuinely sorry. And he teaches Truman Capote so he can't be anti-anything (that's in the Bible or something I swear)

Probably my favorite response came from a professor at the University of Toronto.  Read it here.

Tumblr Takes on Sexism in Axe Astronaut Contest

Tumblr, I love thee.  Especially when you do stuff like this.  When Roshini Muniam Rose was announced as one of the five finalists from Malaysia, she faced the almost-expected sexist comments of the internet.  But then something magical happened.
Last night, Tumblr user sisterofdusk decided to take Rose’s fight to the people. Posting to the Malaysian feminist Tumblr group keluargakilljoy, she asked, “I’ve cast my vote, what are you waiting for? Let’s send her to space!” Rose got a big boost when Tumblr and YouTube celeb Tyler Oakley reblogged the post, noting, “She’s losing by 20k votes. Let’s fix this.” And Tumblr did. In less than 24 hours, Tumblr reblogged sisterofdusk’s post more than 38,000 times, pushing her from less than 3,000 votes to nearly 39,000.
Read the full article here. My favorite part about this story is that it actually worked and Roshini will go on to compete at space camp in Orlando.

Sexualization of Suicide - Comic WTF

Yes this is a few weeks late but it feels way too significant not to include.
Let’s recap this—in order to get potentially hired by DC Comics as an artist, all you have to do is draw a picture of a female character (who has already recently gone through an unnecessary hyper-sexualized redesign) completely naked and about to commit suicide. 
Read full article here.

Eventually DC Comics apologized but it still left everyone wondering, do they just not get it?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Follow Friday - Blogs I love

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
Feature your own favorite blogger, have it be a surprise.
Honestly I never find this question fair. I like particular features from particular bloggers and it constantly changes.  I absolutely love Cuddlebuggery, especially their round-ups of bookish news, I couldn't live without Forever YA's Gilmore Girl re-watches (or my quality of life would decrease at least) and lately I've been into The Mary Sue's tumblr blog.  Ask me next week and this might all be different depending on what I'm obsessed with at the time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chimes at Midnight (review)

5/5 stars

Chimes at Midnight (Goodreads | Amazon) once again proves that Seanan McGuire should write all of the books.  Whenever I've had a slew of sub-par books and I'm able to come back to one of her works, it feels like you've thrown a starving person into the best bakery in the world and I can't help but devour everything. (For me this is the world's best gluten free bakery which makes it even more important).
"When you decide its time to up the ante on getting into deep shit, you don't mess around, do you? You're just like, hey, what's the worst that can happen? That's the worst that can happen? Great. Let's do that." 
October Daye is one of my favorite heroines.  Despite being half-fae, she feels all too real.  Even if technically she's not human, she clings to and carry her humanity because that's what keeps her from becoming too disconnected with the world.  That stubborn humanity, is what sets her apart from the fae around her and makes her good at what she does (solving crimes, saving the world, etc).

As I read Chimes of Midnight and all the pieces from previous novels began to fall into place, clues dropped over time, it was hard to believe that the world McGuire built exists only in her head.  How can someone build a world so complex, characters who will matter more later, and drop so many clues?  It makes me wonder, is San Francisco really a hot-bed of faerie activity?  I'm just in awe of McGuire's ability and foresight in building a world and a multi-book narrative that feels so flawless.

The humor in this book might be the best yet.  The story has emotional highs and emotional lows.  Even when I was scared shitless for October, the book always had a gag, pun or joke to throw at me.  And it never felt out of place.  The book manages to balance it's sarcastic sense of humor and ability to laugh in the face of certain death,with it's well-plotted, dire circumstances storyline.

That's about all I can say spoiler free.  Because this book is so cleverly written, now I want to leave you with some quotes (and these might contain minor spoilers for people who have not read books 1-6.)

I went to pick my favorite quotes and they were all from Tybalt (I don't know why this surprises me). Without further delay, three Tybalt quotes to savor!
"I am a cat, October. I have a sense of duty, because I am also a man, but no cat can be held down by duty forever. Eventually, we must go where we wish to be, not where we are told.' Tybalt smiled slightly at the expression on my face.
He smiled against my lips. When I pulled back, he said, "I was a student of Shakespeare centuries before the romance novel was even dreamt. Be glad I do not leave you horrible poetry on your pillow, wrapped securely around the body of dead rats."
"I would gladly take a bullet for you.  I would even more gladly stand behind a man of living stone and allow him to take the bullet for the both of us."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tandem (review)

3/5 stars

Without the romance, Tandem (Goodreads | Amazon) would be a much better book.  There's an action-packed sci-fi plot, Sasha Lawson is kidnapped into a parallel universe to take the place of Princess Juliana, a girl who looks exactly like her.  In Aurora (the parallel world) things are dire, after years of near-constant fighting with their neighboring country, a marriage pact between Juliana and Prince Callum is the only route to potential peace.  That is until Juliana disappears without a trace.  There is plenty of plot - treason, kidnapping, terrorism - to keep the book moving forward.

However, the story is dragged down by the unnecessary and illogical romance.  Just for once, I'd like it if the main character did not fall in love with her kidnapper.  Is that really too much to ask?  Instead of focusing on the exciting plot, we get long passages where two character muse internally on whether they have feelings for each other or not.  We get hissy-fit arguments accusing each other of jealousy.  If there's chemistry, I never felt it.

Why is the romance worst than most?  At the most, the male love interest has known Sasha for two weeks.  He's been raised to be a soldier and to keep his emotions in check.  She is his assignment but he goes all doe-eyed, lovely-dovey really quickly.  What's worse, is by the end of the novel Sasha has known who he is for six days (for 2 weeks he was observing her by pretending to be his earth duplicate).  SIX DAYS!  In six days she goes from being kidnapped by this guy, to saying she's not ready to leave him and go back to her life yet.  Never mind that her grandfather is probably worried sick (she barely seems to worry about him), there's a boy to be liked, family be damned.

If you can swallow the unrealistic romance, this is otherwise a good book.  The sci-fi elements and explanation of parallel worlds is well done.  The plot itself is a good story, though it drags in the middle due to the overemphasis on romance.  I just cannot suffer the romantic plotline because it undermines the rest of the book and is absolutely unnecessary.

I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Feature Friday - Popular book I haven't read

Follow Friday is a feature created by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.  It's a fun blog hop where you meet other book bloggers and find people to follow.
What book (or TV show or movie) have you not read that seemingly everyone else has?
Divergent.  I saw some meh reviews from some trusted friends on Goodreads and kept putting it off.  Then with later books came out there was SUCH a huge hype machine that I just go too annoyed to even go back and read it.  It's languishing on my to be read shelf on Goodreads but I don't know if it'll ever happen.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (review)

3/5 stars

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Goodreads | Amazon) is not what I thought it was, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I thought the novel, despite the premise of being able to taste feelings, would stay clearly in the contemporary category.  By the end, it seemed a little bit more magical realism than contemporary, but still an interesting read.

The night before her ninth birthday Rose Edelstein takes a bite out of her birthday cake, a homemade lemon and chocolate masterpiece, only to discover that she doesn't taste the lemon, or the chocolate, but is immensely overwhelmed by the feelings baked in her cake.  She tastes her mother's sadness and emptiness.  From there onward, Rose can taste the emotions in food, tracing the feelings back to the farms where the vegetables are picked and factories where food is packaged.

Sometimes people ask the difference between an adult book with a child narrator and a children/young adult book with a child narrator.  This is a textbook example where adult knowledge and experience is put into the child's mouth.  For me, an avid young adult reader, it's a little jarring and makes the character less believable.  At age 8, Rose is building roads for her toy cars to travel and mentions city ordinances requiring them to go past her brother's door.  That's just not an 8-year-olds knowledge.  Tidbits like that are scattered throughout the book.

For me what really undermines this book is the ending.  Not only is it strange, but it's abrupt.  The book is suddenly over and you're left wondering if you missed something.  I'm not saying the book needed a happy, all the ends tied-up ending but the last chapter of a book should feel like a conclusion and for me it didn't  As for the strangeness, I really can't say much more without spoiling the book.  But it's very strange.  Overall the book was enjoyable but flawed.  I listened to this on audiobook from the public library, and it's worth a listen if you're in need of a book.

When I realized this was an author-narrated audiobook my expectations dropped.  Honestly, author/narrator combinations are so hit and miss that I tend to avoid them.  Luckily, this author manages to narrate the book well.  She does it without trying to overact, but reading the book in a simple narration style that fits Rose, a girl who has disconnected herself from her feelings to an extent.  It works.  Actually her style reminded me a bit of Sara Zarr (who I love as a narrator).  I think listening on audiobook helped improve the book, especially when I see other people complaining about grammatical style issues in reviews, which is something I did not have to deal with at all.  Like I said before, if you see this audiobook at the library it's worth a listen.