Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hedgie's Must Reads: January 2015


January is over! And it was an amazing start to the new year! I got through so many good books this month; I am so proud of myself. So, so proud of myself! I can't believe I got through so many! A note to readers: while I am still going to do Hedgie's Must Reads, but I am also linking my Reading Wrap-Up videos at the end of these posts. These videos allow me to go a bit more in depth about what I liked about the books - and what I disliked. So enjoy this new(ish) feature!

January Reading Wrap-Up

Book #3 in the Harry Potter series. Harry is preparing for another semester at Hogwarts, but even this enchanted school of wizardry and witchcraft may not be safe for the young wizard. Sirius Black, the most dangerous criminal and Lord Voldemort's heir apparent, has escaped the magical prison of Azkaban - and he's after Harry. I really enjoyed Book #2, but this one of my favorite. Because we meet new characters - more specifically Professor Lupin - there's the terrifying dementors, we get even more backstory on Harry's parents and what happened during Voldemort's time, and there's lots of twists! I cannot wait to see what happens next!


Ticker by Lisa Mantchev (3/5)
Penny Farthing would have died from a rare heart disorder of the brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick hadn't installed a clockwork heart - a Ticker - to replace her failing organ. Penny is the first of the Augmented. But when Warwick is put on trial for mass murder - murders he committed in perfecting Penny's Ticker - the Farthing Augmentation factory becomes a target for terrorists and people who want to use the Augmentation technology for weaponry. When Penny's parents are kidnapped, it's up to her and a collection of friends to save them. I adored the characters in this novel, and the overall lack of seriousness. My only complaint? The world held a lot of promise, but wasn't as well developed as it could have been.

January Best Reads

Pennyroyal Academy by M. A. Larson (4/5)
Book #1 in a planned series. Evie doesn't remember who she is or why she's in the middle of an enchanted forest wearing nothing but cobwebs. She eventually finds her way to Pennyroyal Academy - where princesses are trained to fight witches, and knights are trained to fight dragons; the kingdom's two biggest threats. While Evie struggles with her lessons in being a princess, she also struggles with trying to remember who she is - and why one of the princes seems to know her. I loved, loved, loved the characters, the world, and plot - everything. It reminded me a tiny bit of a darker Princess Academy, but it has a lot of originality to it still. And the romance? Totally and absolutely adored it!

"Shouldn't You Be in School?" by Lemony Snicket (4/5)
Book #3 in the All the Wrong Questions series. The school children of Stain'd-by-the-Sea are in danger! But why? What is Hangfire up to? As always, I thoroughly enjoyed it; I always enjoy Lemony Snicket's novels. I continue to love Snicket as a narrator, and I love all of the other characters, and I love that we're slowly getting some answers for A Series of Unfortunate Events - especially where it concerns V.F.D. and what might have happened with the Great Schism!




Firefight by Brandon Sanderson (5/5)
Book #2 in The Reckoners trilogy. Steelheart has been defeated and Newcago liberated. But now a new High Epic is trying to get the Reckoners' attention: Regalia in Babylon Restored. She's been sending Epics to Newcago, and now the Reckoners are going to her. David hopes to get answers there, and maybe encounter Firefight - another Epic he has personal history with. But the Reckoners might be walking straight into a trap that Prof may not survive. Oh my gosh!!! This book! This book is just all kinds of wonderful! The world of Babylon Restored, the Epics, the twists and turns, the characters - ahhhhh!!!!



Beneath the Stone Forest by Jordan Quinn (5/5)
Book #6 in The Kingdom of Wrenly series. When Clara is given an assignment in school to visit a part of Wrenly she's never been and then write about it, she invites Prince Lucas to come with her to the Stone Forest. Unfortunately, Lucas's bratty cousin Princess Bella has to come with them, too. The Witch's Curse is still my favorite, but this one was really fun, too - as always. Loved the gnomes and the Stone Forest and the gem mines!





Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (4/5)
Book #1 in a planned series. Kyra is a thief; the best in Forge. She is uncannily agile, better at seeing in the dark than most, and swift on her feet. But she's also struggling to meet ends meet. So when James, leader of the legendary Assassins Guild, offers her a job, she can't refuse - even though she knows she should. Tristam is a Red Shield with a promising career. Betrayal and shadowy deals throw these two unlikely people together, and they soon realize that working together might be better than being enemies in this world of broken promises and double-sided words. Loved this world and the characters and the twists and the writing - and everything!


The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio by Lloyd Alexander (4/5)
Carlo Chuchio is a dreamer - and his uncle has had enough of it. Carlo doesn't care, though. Because he's found an old map that promises to lead to unimaginable riches on the Road of Golden Dreams. So he sets off, gathering companions along the way, in the form of Baksheesh, the world's laziest camel-puller; Shira, a beautiful girl with a tragic past; and Salomon, an old man just on his way to the ocean - someday. I love Lloyd Alexander's books. They're full of adventure, comedy, magic, treasure, and a romance than you can root for. This one is no exception.



Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz (5/5)
In the aftermath of the Reichenbach Falls, where Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes plunged to their deaths, Pinkerton Detective Chase and Scotland Yard Inspector Athelney Jones are hot on the trail of a new criminal mastermind, who is determined to take over Moriarty's place in the criminal underworld and wreck havoc such as the world has never seen. Anthony Horowitz has, for me, proven his absolutely brilliance as a writer in this novel. He stays true to the Canon spirit and style, while creating his own story at the same time. And that ending. . . .I can't get over that ending. I didn't that coming from miles away. Can Moffat and Gatiss please hire him as a screenwriter for Sherlock?


January's Worst Reads

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (2/5)
Finch is on a bad road to self-destruction. Violet is suffering from survivor's guilt after her sister died in a car accident a year ago. The two meet on the roof of their high school when they're both contemplating putting an end to all the hurt. But when they're assigned as partners in a class project, they take a mini road trip of their state - and find a new reason to live. I think this book will appeal to most everyone, but for me it left me wondering, What was the point? I liked most of it, and I saw the ending coming - but it still left me feeling sad and sour inside.




Friday, January 30, 2015

January 2015 Book Haul


It is time to showcase all of the books I bought and/or was given for the month of January! While I deviated a little bit from my planned buys, I didn't do too bad. Besides, it's always fun to a buy a few unplanned buys; to keep the book haul interesting. ;-) So, without further ado, here is the January 2015 Book Haul:


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: Moriarty - Anthony Horowitz

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
Genre: Adult, historical fiction, mystery, Sherlockian fiction
Published on December 9, 2014
Published by Harper
Pages: 304
Read From: 1.20.15 - 1.25.15













SYNOPSIS
What really happened when Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis, Professor James Moriarty, met at the Reichenbach Falls? 
Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz's nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of Detective Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty - dubbed "the Napoleon of crime" - in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls. 
Days after Holmes and Moriarty disappear into the waterfall's churning depths, Frederick Chase, a senior investigator at New York's infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, arrives in Switzerland. Chase brings with him a dire warning: Moriarty's death has left a convenient vacancy in London's criminal underworld. There is no shortage of candidates to take his place - including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.
Chase is assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a Scotland Yard detective and devoted student of Holmes's methods of deduction, whom Conan Doyle introduced in The Sing of Four. The two men join forces and fight their way through the sinuous streets of Victorian London - from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the Docks - in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty's successor.

Review

Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Oh yes, I do like the cover art. Silvery and attention-grabbing and lovely. Don't like it so much without the dust jacket, but I'll just leave the jacket on! :-)


Characters: Frederick Chase, I'll be honest, wasn't my favorite protagonist. He was good for the story, but I didn't feel much attachment towards him. He was a narrator for the story, and the supplemental Dr. Watson for Athelney Jones. That isn't to say Chase had no personality; he did, but there was something missing in him that kept me from really truly liking him. And I think this was done on purpose - but I can't tell you. It would be giving away the ending. . . .Athelney Jones I felt kind of sorry for. Once humiliated by Sherlock Holmes, he has no dedicated his life to Sherlock's art of deduction. And with Sherlock seemingly dead, Athelney feels like it's his job now to take Sherlock's place. He isn't a bad investigator at all, but you can tell he's constantly trying to make up for his previous shortcomings. The villains of this novel were thoroughly believable. Thuggish, ruthless, and intimidating, I had no trouble believing that they could actually exist. And then there's Perry, a demented little boy who just totally freaked me out.

The Romance: There isn't any!

Plot: The synopsis does a terrific job summing it up. On the surface, it's actually a pretty straightforward story: we know who the villain is; there's no question about that. And now our protagonists are just trying to figure out how to get concrete proof to bring Devereaux down. But as the story continues, it becomes a lot less straightforward. Every associate of Deveraux's Chase and Jones interview suffers a mysterious grim and brutal murder. Chase and Jones seem to have help now and then, but from who? And why? This mystery led me on and on and on, and I wasn't about to put it down. I wanted to know what all was going on. I wanted to know what would happen to Chase and Jones next. With each chapter, the game was upped, the stakes raised. My only real complaint about this novel was that it sometimes felt too much like the Author was trying to create the same feel and setup of Sherlock and Watson - only with Jones and Chase. Chase is the Watson to Jones's Sherlock. And they mirror the two rather well. Jones goes into long deductions, and Chase exclaims over how he could possibly tell! Sometimes it felt like the Author was trying to make up for the fact that Sherlock and Watson are not, in fact, in the story. This, however, is given an explanation at the end, so it is, as I said, a minor complaint.

Believability: No complaints!

Writing Style: First person, past tense. Anthony Horowitz has Conan Doyle's style down so perfectly that I always feel like I'm reading an original Sherlock Holmes story. Even though Watson wasn't the narrator in this one, it still felt like that.

Content: Blood and violence and gore. There were a few moments that had me flinching.

Conclusion: All in all, a riveting mystery that I was prepared to declare, "Well, that was fun! I really enjoyed it!" And then. . . .the twist. The huge, amazing, sudden, and so-didn't-see-coming twist that sent this book from "really enjoyable" to downright mind blowing. The twist that made me completely respect Anthony Horowitz as a writer; a respect that can never be shaken again. And this is all I have to say on this matter: can Moffat and Gatiss please, please, please hire Anthony Horowitz as a screenwriter? The world would explode!

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, eighteen-and-up, fans of mysteries, Victorian historical fiction, and Sherlock Holmes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #76 + WWW Wednesday #46

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
It's a weekly meme about upcoming books we're excited about!



Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard
(Red Queen Trilogy #1)
Publication Date: February 10, 2015

From Goodreads:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mae finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the center of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Why I'm Excited

- I love high/epic fantasy.
- Finally! Someone is writing a fantasy series where the magical people are the ones who rule and the normal people are the peasant class!
- Look at the GORGEOUS cover!

The Shadow Cabinet
by Maureen Johnson
(Shades of London #3)
Publication Date: February 10, 2015

From Goodreads:

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determined if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory's classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte's in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself - and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

Why I'm Excited

- It's the third installment in the Shades of London series!
- After how The Madness Underneath ended, I simply must have this book!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading
What are you currently reading?

Thursdays at Castle Glower have never been spent so far from home. After the Castle transports Princess Celie, Prince Lulath, Pogue, and Celie's siblings, Rolf and Lilah, to an unknown land, they find themselves in the sleeping ruins of the Castle, in a world full of wild griffins and scheming wizards.

Without the Castle to guide her, Celie is unsure whom to trust - especially when two strange wizards claim to be the Castle's original keepers. She and the others must set out into the unknown if they hope to awaken the Castle and return home. As they learn the story of the Castle's origins, a truth fraught with secrets is revealed. But Celie knows the Castle best of all, and with the help of her pet griffin, Rufus, and her motley crew, she must find a way to save the Castle and get them all home safe and sound.

Not very far into this third installment of the Castle Glower series (trilogy?), but I'm really enjoying it so far! This is such a fun book!

What have you recently read?

Days after Holmes and Moriarty disappear into the waterfall's churning depths, Frederick Chase, a senior investigator at New York's infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, arrives in Switzerland. Chase brings with him a dire warning: Moriarty's death has left a convenient vacancy in London's criminal underworld. There is no shortage of candidates to take his place - including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase is assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a Scotland Yard detective and devoted student of Holmes's methods of deduction, whom Conan Doyle introduced in The Sign of Four. The two men join forces and fight their way through the sinuous streets of Victorian London - from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the Docks - in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty's successor.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 strawberries. Anthony Horowitz has thoroughly impressed me as a writer. I enjoyed this Sherlockian novel, but it wasn't until the end that I was blown away. I did not see that coming! Can Moffat and Gatiss hire Anthony Horowitz to help write screenplays for Sherlock?


What do you plan on reading next?

Matteo Alcran was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium: a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster; except for El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself.

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patron's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.

This is the February read for my book club (yeah, we decided not to waste our time with a Valentine's Day-themed read; we went straight for weird!). I have to admit this has never been at the top of my TBR pile, but I am the leader and I must read what our club chooses. So I guess we'll see how I like this very strange book!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday #74 + Teaser Tuesday #35

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 


This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic: Top 10 Books I Wish My Book Club Would Read. And because I run my book club, maybe we will someday! Some of these books I've read already and would like to re-read; others I haven't read yet.




Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading


- Grab the book you're currently reading.
- Flip to a random page!
- Share 2 teaser sentences from that page!

There were bushel baskets of gold coins, open chests of jewelry and bolts of fabric that gleamed with silver and gold bullion embroidery beneath a layer of dust. There were racks of weapons and statues of women and children that had been painted to make them appear more lifelike. They wore clothing, too, of rich velvets and silk, and the women wore real crowns and necklaces of ruby and emerald opal. Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George (pg. 87)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio - Lloyd Alexander

The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio by Lloyd Alexander
Genre: YA, adventure
Published on August 7, 2007
Published by Henry Holt & Company
Pages: 306
Read From: 1.17.15 - 1.20.15













SYNOPSIS
A beautiful Kirkassi girl, cold-eyed villains and smiling killers, a bazaar merchant peddling slightly used dreams - could any young adventurer ask for more? Not Carlo Chuchio, who is seeking hidden treasure on the legendary Road of Golden Dreams. 
With Baksheesh, the world's worst camel-puller, Carlo leads a caravan through the Arabian Nights-like realm of Keshavar. Robbed of all but his underdrawers, mistaken for a mighty warrior and then for a crown prince, Carlo risks his life for a treasure that may not even exist. . . .

Review

Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I love the color scheme for this book, and the Arabian Nights style. It promises adventure and treasure!


Characters: Poor Carlo has a heart of gold and craves adventure, but he isn't the most aware or brilliant person. He's easily fooled and you can't help but love him, even if you face-palm sometimes. Baksheesh was awesome. Definitely the comic relief, his tricky ways and exaggerations were hilarious and wonderful and he was so, so awesome! Shira, the woman of the group, is tough, courageous, honest, and witty. Lloyd Alexander knows how to write tough female characters, and Shira might be my favorite. This book has so many colorful characters; villains and allies alike.

The Romance: It doesn't take long for Carlo to fall for Shira, and I really liked their romance. It's quick, naturally, but I've found that if I like both characters and the romance isn't mostly focused on how hot someone is, I don't mind quick romances anymore. It is also implied that they're on the road for quite a long time, so Carlo and Shira have known each other for a little while. I also maintain that life-and-death situations can strengthen feelings a lot faster than normal circumstances. So Carlo and Shira's romance is very sweet and I loved it.

Plot: Carlo Chuchio is a dreamer, and it's driving his uncle crazy. When Carlo finds a mysterious old map that promises to lead to treasure, he decides to take his meager possessions and start out on an adventure of a lifetime. Along the way, he picks up a couple of companions: Baksheesh, a lazy, dishonest, yet very loyal camel-puller; Shira, a young woman with a dark past; and Soloman, an old man who is on his way to the beach - someday. Together, these four travelers encounter inexplicable wonders, evil villains, and what true treasure is. I love journey stories, expedition stories, travel stories, and more importantly - treasure stories. I love all the crazy, dangerous, and weird things that happen in stories like that. And The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio delivers with Lloyd Alexander's classic humor, magic, villains, and perilous situations. The plot moves along at a clipped, easy pace, and along the way there is indications of an underlying main plot that is going to create a climax at the end.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. I love Lloyd Alexander's writing style. It's witty, it's magical, it's very picturesque. He brings the characters to life with his words.

Content: None.

Conclusion: The first time I read The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio, I found the ending to be a tad bit disappointing. Lloyd Alexander was a brilliant writer, but I've always been of the opinion that his endings are a little weak. It's like he got bored with writing the book and just wrapped it up. Re-reading it, though, I liked the ending a whole lot more. Maybe it's because of my "new" perspective on life, but I'm able to appreciate the whole "the journey is the treasure" idea a lot more than I used to as a kid. Either way, this is definitely one of my favorite Lloyd Alexander books.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, fourteen-and-up, fans of adventure stories.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stacking the Shelves #75

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Review


BOUGHT

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday - and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings. . . .until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth - sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just. . . .disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night?
Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn?
Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger?
Um. . . .

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?

Go skinny-dipping?
Wait. . . .what?

Alistair Grim's Odditorium by Gregory Funaro
Grubb, age twelve (or thereabouts), has never known anything beyond his miserable existence as a chimney sweep, paid only in insults and abuse by his cruel master.

All of that changes the day he stows away in the coach belonging to a mysterious guest at the inn where he works. Grubb emerges from Alistair Grim's trunk and into the wondrous world of the Odditorium. Fueled by a glowing blue energy that Grubb can only begin to understand, the Odditorium is home to countless enchanted objects and an eccentric crew that embraces Grubb as one of its own.

There's no time for Grubb to settle into his new role as apprentice to the strange, secretive Mr. Grim. When the Odditorium comes under attack, Grubb is whisked off on a perilous adventure. Only he can prevent the Odditorium's magic from falling into evil hands - and his new family from suffering a terrible fate.

Grubb knows he's no hero. He's just a chimney sweep. But armed with only his courage and wits, Grubb will confront the life-or-death battle he alone is destined to fight.

Survival Colony 9 by Joshua Bellin
Querry Genn is in trouble. He can't remember anything before the last six months. And Querry needs to remember. Otherwise he is deadweight to the other members of Survival Colony 9, one of the groups formed after a brutal war ravaged the earth. And now the Skaldi have come to scavenge what is left of humanity. No one knows what the Skaldi are, or why they are here, just that they can take over a person's body before shedding the corpse like a skin.

Querry is both protected and tormented by the colony's authoritarian commander, his father. Desperate to prove himself after the accident that stole his memory, Querry tries to fit in with the other teens. But he always feels like an outsider. The only person he can talk to is the beautiful Korah, but even with her, he can't shake the feeling that something is going terribly, desperately wrong. And that he and his lost memories are at the very center of it.

This Week, On The Reading Hedgehog......

January 19, 2015 - Monday
January 20, 2015 - Tuesday
January 21, 2015 - Wednesday
January 22, 2015 - Thursday
January 23, 2015 - Friday
January 24, 2015 - Saturday

Next Week, On The Reading Hedgehog.......

January 26, 2015 - Monday
Review: The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio - Lloyd Alexander
January 27, 2015 - Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday #74: Top 10 Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club
Teaser Tuesday #35
January 28, 2015 - Wednesday
Waiting on Wednesday #76 + WWW Wednesday #46
January 29, 2015 - Thursday
Review: Moriarty - Anthony Horowitz
January 30, 2015 - Friday
January Book Haul
January 31, 2015 - Saturday
Hedgie's Must Reads: January 2015

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Guest Post: Reader Problems

These questions were created by About to Read on Youtube!

Katherine's Reader Problems


  • You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

Well, I'm kind of a "I read what I want" type of person, so I'd probably read the book that captured my interest first. Or I'd just pick a book from the ginormous pile and give it a try. While I don't have 20,000 books no my TBR, it sometimes feels like it. ;-)

  • You're halfway through a book, and you're just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
I try really hard not to DNF a book. But if I'm halfway through a book and I'm really not loving it, I do DNF it. Life's too short to read a book you dislike.

  • The end of the year is coming and you're so close but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
It depends on how many books behind I am. If it's 5 books or under, I'd try to play catch-up. But if it's 6 or more books, I'd just not worry about meeting my goal. I'd be proud of the books I did read, and there's simply no point in stressing out over doing the thing you love. Reading should be fun, not a chore!
  • The covers of a series that you love do not match. How do you cope?
I'm not usually one of those people to totally freak out over a cover change, so long as the series is all the same format (all hardcover, all paperback). I do get a little annoying of they change the covers and I happen to like the old covers, but it's not the end of the world.
  • Everyone and their mother loves a book that you really don't like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
this has happened to me so many times. Everyone seems to love a boot BUT me, and I'm left feeling all awkward about it. I just take comfort in the fact that there's bound to be someone else out there who doesn't love the book as well (unless it's Harry Potter, which everyone universally loves. I have yet to meet a person on this planet who doesn't like Harry Potter).
  • You're reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
This is going to sound really awful. . . .but I never cry during books. EVER. It makes me sound like a Grinch, but it's the truth. I just don't cry while reading. Not during Mockingjay. Not during The Fault in Our Stars. Not during The Book Thief. It just doesn't happen. But if it did happen (by some miracle), I would probably move to a more private location so I could cry in peace, if possible.

To prove my Grinch-ness even more, I rarely cry during movies. But it does happen. I don't cry when humans die, but if an animal dies. . . .I'm a complete puddle. I ran out of my 4th grade classroom sobbing during Prancer because the reindeer got shot and they showed a close up of his bleeding leg. I grieved after an an (an ANT!) died during Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I can't bring myself to watch Bambi because I know I'll be a complete mess. Weird little tidbit there.
  • A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you've forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?
I have a pretty good memory, so I have a tendency to remember a lot from previous books. I would say if I did forget, it would depend on how long the previous books are. If it's 200-300 page book, I would reread the book. But if we're talking A Game of Thrones length, I would just forget it. I'd probably Wikipedia the entire thing.
  • You do not want anyone, ANYONE, borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
I never lend out my books, mainly because none of my friends are as avid readers as I am. I did lend out a book one time to my lab partner in science my senior year, and I have yet to see it, three years later, haha!!! If a friend did want to borrow a book, I would just tell them straight up that I don't lend out my books.
  • Reading ADD. You've picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?
Like all readers, I do have occasional reading slumps, whether it's because I simply don't have the time to read or because I don't feel like reading in general. If I'm in a reading slump, I just let it take its course, then read a book I know I love. It reminds me why I love to read in the first place.

  • There are so many new books coming out that you're dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
Ah, the tricky question for all book addicts, because we want to buy ALL THE BOOKS!!! I try to limit my book buys to those I absolutely know I MUST have, like a sequel to an anticipated book series I love, of it it's a book in my favorite genre, or if the premise just sounds so interesting I simply can't wait for it to become available in my library.
  • After you've bought the new books you can't wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
Again, it depends on how excited I am. If it's a book I've been anticipating for a long time (or it's a sequel), then I read it right away. Other times, I wait a little while to read it when I feel like I'm in a mood to read it.

Hazel's Reader Problems

  • You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
Usually I either go with what I feel like reading at the moment, or what I have on my shelf. I go through spurts where I will just read through all the unread books I have bought, or sometimes I'll just read ones I get from the library.
  • You're halfway through a book, and you're just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
It depends. Sometimes I just can't make myself finish a book like if it's just too dull and I can't be bothered (it depends on how I'm feeling). But if I hate it for reasons, then I will always finish it so I can explain why in a review.
  • The end of the year is coming and you're so close but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
I read as much as possible, even if that means no more Netflix marathoning until I meet the goal. :P
  • The covers of a series that you love do not match. How do you cope?
I don't. Just kidding; this is a huge pet peeve of mine, though. I guess you just have to live with it. Sometimes it's not a bad thing.
  • Everyone and their mother loves a book that you really don't like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
My Goodreads friends of the same opinion - usually Mara, since we have many of the same likes and dislikes. ;-)
  • You're reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
Try to be brave. Usually I have to stop and save it for later, but sometimes it's too late.
  • A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you've forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?
If I have time, I love to re-read the previous book in a series before the new one comes out. I usually make a spot for it on my monthly TBR, but sometimes I just can't and then I will just either hope I remember things, or do a quick flip through the book to hit the high points.
  • You do not want anyone, ANYONE, borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
I do lend out some of my paperbacks, depending on who it is who is asking, but usually I will not lend books (had bad experiences with that). I usually say that I just don't lend books and it's a blanket policy, no offense. ;P
  • Reading ADD. You've picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?
Ugh, hate it when that happens. This usually happens to me when I finish an awesome series and can't find anything new to replace it. Sometimes it's the kind of thing that you just have to wait out. Usually I personally start writing when this happens, because I won't have anything to distract me. But other than that, forcing myself to finish a book usually helps.
  • There are so many new books coming out that you're dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
I always buy ones from continued series or authors I love. I sometimes will do a faith buy on a couple brand new ones if I have it on good authority I will like them, and provided I haven't gone over my budget with others. Sometimes waiting for my library to get things is just too annoying. :P
  • After you've bought the new books you can't wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
Depends. If I have nothing better to read, they go fast, but sometimes series books that aren't my top, top faves will sit for a few months, or I might just not feel like reading a certain book at the moment.


Cayla's Reader Problems

  • You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
The sad part is that this is semi-realistic of my current situation (once you count all the books in the series I've started). The method I currently use isn't very impressive and usually consists of scrolling through my To-Read list and finding one that catches my fancy to request at the library. Or, if I happen to see a book that looks interesting at the library, I'll grab it there.
  • You're halfway through a book, and you're just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
Ugh. I fatal flaw. Unless there is a content issue, nine times out of ten I bite the bullet and just finish the thing. If it's just AWFUL I may abandon it, but usually I feel a twisted sort of duty that requires I get through it. I suppose I just don't like leaving things unfinished.
  • The end of the year is coming and you're so close but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
Again, sadly accurate to last year's circumstance. Whether or not I try to catch up really depends on the situation. I don't have as much time to read as I'd like these days, so often it just isn't possible to catch up. However, when I do decide to try, I usually tackle several books at once (which I don't do under normal circumstances). Honestly, though, I'm not too competitive about finishing on time.
  • The covers of a series that you love do not match. How do you cope?
That would definitely irritate me. However, this isn't too much of an issue simply because, being a broke college student I buy close to no new books (yay for libraries!). So I rarely actually see all the books in a series together.
  • Everyone and their mother loves a book that you really don't like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
This happen to be fairly often, oddly enough. Thankfully, I have plenty of people to rant to (whether or not they're particularly willing :P). My brother makes a very good sounding board and, since I work at a library, my co-workers are good to talk with as well.
  • You're reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
I'll be honest, this RARELY happens. Maybe I have a heart of stone, but I've only actually cried over a book once or twice. I've gotten emotional plenty of times, sure, but actual tears are very rare. This did happen to me recently when reading the end of Return of the King (that last line, especially, gets me every time). In that situation, I put the book down for a couple of minutes to collect myself. This usually isn't a problem, though.
  • A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you've forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?
Depends on the situation and how long the first book was. Before I read the second Enola Holmes book, I re-read the first. Ditto with the Lady Ilena books. Sometimes I just don't have time to re-read the first one, however, in which case I look over my review and read as detailed a synopsis as possible. Usually I start remembering stuff within the first couple of chapters.
  • You do not want anyone, ANYONE, borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
I'm assuming this is a rhetorical question because I normally don't mind when people borrow my books (as long as I'm not in the middle of reading them - which has happened a time or two. . . .). I suppose if I was in this situation I'd explain that I'm afraid of forgetting which books I lent to who and just keep it at that.
  • Reading ADD. You've picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you got over your reading slump?
We already know I'm a bit stubborn when it comes to finishing books, so this isn't a huge problem for me. However, I do have reading slumps when nothing sounds interesting. When that's the case I might do a couple of things: 1) take a break from reading and let the slump run its course. 2) Do some writing of my own to job my creativity. 3) Read Lord of the Rings (yes, I'm a die-hard fan of this book and I've honestly never been bored while reading it.) One of those three usually does the trick! :D
  • There are so many new books coming out that you're dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
A rough estimate would be. . . .zero. See above for the 'broke college student' comment. ;)
  • After you've bought the new books you can't wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
Depends on life, obviously. However, I will admit that I'm not usually good at getting to books that I actually own. Library books always get read first. I guess I take the ones I own for granted. :P So it really could be a couple weeks to a couple of years before I read them. I know, terrible.

The Reading Hedgehog's Reader Problems

  • You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

I start with a gameplan! In some ways, I'm a mood reader; I can force my way through a book even if I'm not feeling it, but let's be honest: forcing your way through a book when you're not in the mood isn't doing anyone any favors. I'm not enjoying the book as much as I might, and therefore I'm less likely to give it a fair review. So each month, I look through my TBR shelf and pick out what I imagine I'll enjoy. And I don't deviate from that stack unless I really need to.
  • You're halfway through a book, and you're just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
If I'm halfway through a book, I'm usually committed by that point. Otherwise, I just wasted my time that I could have used for a better book, and I need to feel like I got something out of it. Like writing a review.
  • The end of the year is coming and you're so close but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
I've done two things in this situation: I've tried to catch up (and failed), or I cheat and lower my challenge quota. Or I read a bunch of kids' books that take less than an hour to get through - which is also cheating, in my opinion.
  • The covers of a series that you love do not match. How do you cope?
I close my eyes whenever I have to look at them. I REALLY hate it when a series doesn't match, but I also get over it and it eventually becomes a minor annoyance that I might gripe about once a month and move on.
  • Everyone and their mother loves a book that you really don't like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
Myself. Or my sister, who has very similar reading tastes; we rarely disagree on a book (or bad) book. Sometimes, depending on how much I hate the book, I'll go find the negative reviews on Goodreads, and post my "thank god, I'm not alone in hating this book!" comments.
  • You're reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
Grab a tissue and announce to no one in particular, "Ugh, allergies!" Honestly, though, I'm not a very emotional reader. Oh, I get the feels - don't at all mistake me. But apparently my expression says everything my mouth does not; I don't exclaim out loud, but my face certainly does. Apparently. I've never actually seen myself read, so I'm trusting what my friends have told me. ;-)
  • A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you've forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads? Cry in frustration?
If I can, I'll find a synopsis on Goodreads or a blog, or I'll email a friend and ask them. But in general, I'll just delve into the sequel and my memory of the previous book will usually come back as I read. Thank you, photographic memory! ;-)
  • You do not want anyone, ANYONE, borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
I just tell them: "Hey, I would love to, but I just don't loan my books out. I can see if the library has a copy!" If they insist: "Look, I don't trust anyone with my books. Sorry." If they still don't get a hint? "No! I'm not letting you borrow my books! And you are forthwith banned from my collection, because I don't trust that you won't borrow one without asking!" However, my friends are sneaky; they know to ask when I'm caught off guard. So then I get a panicked look on my face and blurt out "Sure!" And then have them sign a waver.
  • Reading ADD. You've picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?
Do something else for a while. Binge-watch a show, do some beadwork, cleaning, writing. Usually if I'm in a reading slump, it means that I need a break. So I take it, rather than fighting it. I used to fight it, and that's just miserable.
  • There are so many new books coming out that you're dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
All of them. It's bad. It's awful. It's a habit I'm trying to break this year. I'm trying to limit my buying to sequels and stand-alones that just completely, totally grab my attention (or stand-alones that are written by authors I love). Guess what - it's not working.
  • After you've bought the new books you can't wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
Depends on the book. A lot of them do tend to set on my TBR for several months before I get to them. But there's also new releases that are on my priority list for several reasons, and those will get read generally with my next TBR. But it also largely depends on mood.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Review: Midnight Thief - Livia Blackburne

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Series: Midnight Thief #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on July 8, 2014
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 376
Read From: 1.16.15 - 1.17.15











SYNOPSIS
Growing up on Forge's streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that's not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs. 
But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she's not sure she wants to play by his rules. But she is persistent - and darkly attractive - and Kyra can't quite resist his pull. 
Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by the Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with remarkable ease. 
When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival - and vengeance - might be to join forces. And as they loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra's past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

Review

Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I do love the cover. Atmospheric, simple, magical, awesome. Love it!


Characters: I almost feel like I should just cut and paste my friend Hazel West's review, because our assessment of this novel is pretty much exact. Kyra is the sort of strong female protagonist I love to root for. Having grown up on the streets, she's tough, quick, smart, and very good at her job: thievery. But she isn't proud, and she'll accept help when she needs it from her friends. James, the leader of the Assassins Guild, was a very interesting character. Having read the prequel novella Poison Dance, I know something of his backstory, and it definitely cast him in a different light than if I read Midnight Thief not knowing anything about his past. I still didn't trust him and silently urged Kyra to refuse his help, but I felt perhaps a bit more sympathetic for him regardless. Tristam - oh, I loved Tristam. He was so awesome! And I loved Tristam's two friends (??) - both very minor characters, but I loved them so, so much. Some of the best characters were, in fact, the minor ones. And that's a sign of a good writer.

The Romance: I'm not going to say who Kyra falls for, because it's enough of a spoiler that I don't want to give it away. But it is Reading Hedgehog approved. The romance isn't a very big part of the plot, and is in fact mostly in the background. But I loved it.

Plot: Once again, I give you the above synopsis. I'm sorry; I'm just not feeling very inspired with my reviews right now. Ever read a book that was so good that you just consumed it at a rate that left you totally blank on what happened? That's where I'm at with Midnight Thief. I know I loved the plot; it was exciting and fast-paced. There was intrigue and secrets and backstabbing and friendships in unexpected quarters and political maneuvers and raiding mercenaries and the hints of war and magic. Kyra's world is very well thought-out and immersive. There's so much to this world; you can feel it in the writing. And I can't wait to learn more about it!

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. I did really, really like the Author's style. It's detailed without being over-the-top or movie-ish.

Content: None.

Conclusion: I saw the twist coming; I very much did. But it was also done very well and logical that Kyra couldn't figure it out sooner. Midnight Thief is a terrific beginning to a very promising new series. It's got wonderful characters, a strong plot, and even stronger world building. This Author also isn't afraid to take risks with her characters, in that you really can't know whether or not they'll survive their ordeals. I cannot wait for the sequel!

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, fifteen-and-up, fans of high fantasy! 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: Ticker - Lisa Mantchev

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
Genre: YA, steampunk
Published on December 1, 2014
Published by Skyscape
Pages: 274
Read From: 1.11.15 - 1.16.15












SYNOPSIS
When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass "Ticker" in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it's discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another, improved Ticker for Penny, and he's put on trial for mass murder. 
On the last day of Warwick's trial, the Farthings' factory is bombed, Penny's parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings. . . .or is the motive more sinister? 
Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romances stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

Review

Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Love the cover art. It's very steampunk and Neo-Victorian. Caught my attention right away.

Characters: Penny Farthing is a spunky, "do or dare" type of protagonist with good instinct that does tend to lead her into trouble. I would have gotten more frustrated with her tendency to dash off without a plan, except her instincts were usually spot on and everyone was moving at too slow a pace. I loved Sebastian, the resident rogue-with-a-heart, and I tried to like Penny's twin brother Nic, but he too often treated Penny like a child that I got annoyed with him. I loved Marcus the moment he appeared. Gentlemanly and intelligent. Warwick as a villain wasn't necessarily intimidating nor disappointing. I was a little bleh about him.

The Romance: Naturally, Penny and Marcus fall for one another. And their romance is extremely fast. I would have liked it to be developed over time a bit more, but overall I didn't mind it too much because I liked Marcus and Penny.

Plot: I send you to the above synopsis because I am too lazy to sum it up in my own words! This book didn't have a serious bone in its proverbial body. Even amid all of the peril and high stakes, it was plain not serious. It was just a fun romp through a steampunk world. That being said, I have some complaints. I enjoyed the plot, though it was perhaps a lot more straightforward that I would have liked (there are no real twists in this book; the only one is fairly easy to see coming). And the world was awesome. However, it wasn't as well developed as I wanted it to be. There were mechanical animals and mechanical butterflies, but no explanation as to who created the mechanical butterflies and why there were no real animals. So a brilliant world, but not a lot of explanation.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. Penny was a good narrator, though I suppose there was nothing special about her voice.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Bittersweet, but it worked. Ticker is exactly what it promises it be: a light-hearted, fun, comic steampunk adventure. It's a fast read, it's a relaxing read, and it was just fun. It has its flaws, but you can still appreciate it for what it is.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fourteen-and-up, fans of steampunk.

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