Monday, May 26, 2014

Cinder by Marissa Meyer and Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay

I've finished off two books over the long weekend. The first is Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and the second is Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay.

Cinder is the first book in The Lunar Chronicles series. I believe four books are currently planned in the series, three of which are currently on store shelves. As you may have guessed, Cinder is a Cinderella story, but in this case Cinderella is a cyborg. The book takes place in the future, mostly in New Beijing. Androids are common household helpers, and people who have been badly injured can be saved with electronic limbs and even implants into their nervous and sensory systems.

Cinder was adopted shortly after the surgeries which turned her into a cyborg, her parents had supposedly died in the car accident that caused her injuries. Her adoptive father died shortly after adopting her, and her adoptive mother was not pleased with the new addition to the family. Cyborgs are second class citizens, they are not readily accepted into society. Cinder earns money for the family by working as a mechanic, she runs a stall on market days.

The book has most of the major elements of Cinderella, but Meyer has added a fantastic twist and created a fascinating world. I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Death of a Mad Hatter is the second book in the Hat Shop Mystery Series by Jenn McKinlay. The first book is Cloche and Dagger. This series features cousins Scarlett and Viv who run a hat shop in London, left to them by their grandmother. Scarlett has lived most of her life in the United States, which provides opportunity for the author to teach us Yanks about uniquely British things that we may not understand. The difference between afternoon tea and high tea is one of the things I learned from this book.

Death of a Mad Hatter revolves around the cousins preparing hats for a fundraising tea hosted by a well-to-do family to raise funds for a hospital wing to be named after their recently deceased patriarch. When the titular Mad Hatter at the Alice in Wonderland-themed tea turns up dead, Scarlett cannot help but stick her nose in. She did discover the body after all.

I really enjoy amateur sleuth mysteries. They are generally quick reads, with fun characters and interesting mysteries to solve. I love the characters from this series. Scarlett and Viv are fun characters and so is their supporting cast. I can't wait for the next book!

I am giving Cinder by Marissa Meyer, 4 stars. I am also giving Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay, 4 stars.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Storykiller Swag

I had already posted my review of Storykiller by Kelly Thompson, but today I received my hard copy of the book plus all the extra swag from my support of the Kickstarter! I wanted to share some pictures of all of the cool stuff, so here we go!

First we have the "Fight Your Fiction" tote bag and the brown paper wrapped packet of all the other goodies.

Here is the post card book.

Here is all the stuff, the book, with the cool red foil title, bookmarks, fight your fiction magnet and round Tessa Battle magnet, the postcard book in the upper right, thank you note, and large illustration print of Tessa and Bluebeard. The mysterious green envelope to be opened after you read the book.

One more view of everything.

I was so excited to get all the stuff. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by Kelly Thompson! I will support one of her Kickstarters any time.

If you haven't read Storykiller, check it out! If you have read it and are ready for more Kelly Thompson, Check out The Girl Who Would Be King.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Midnight Crossroad is the first book in a new series by Charlaine Harris. There are planned to be only 3 novels in the Midnight, Texas Trilogy according to Charlaine Harris' website. This series features characters who have appeared in previous series by Harris.

Midnight, Texas,  is a very small town, and many people and businesses have deserted it. The few that are left are a strange lot. There is a newcomer to town, who happens to be Manfred Bernardo from the Harper Connelly novels. Manfred arrives just in time for some drama surrounding a woman who disappeared from town a couple of months before.

The book reminds me a bit of J.K. Rowling's A Casual Vacancy, there isn't a main character and it is more of an ensemble piece. Except, of course, some people in Midnight have bigger and more peculiar secrets than a typical small town. Manfred himself is a psychic and there may be a vampire, there definitely is a witch, and perhaps a shifter for good measure.

There is a character from the Lily Bard series, although I didn't remember him until much later in the book, when it was given away. I haven't read that series in forever. But I was pretty sure of the one from Aurora Teagarden, but I cheated and looked it up online before the book gave it away.

There is a twisty murder mystery and all kinds of twisty secrets. Midnight Crossroad was a fun read and I raced through it. Now that I've gotten to the end, I will have to read it again to pick up more clues for book two!

I highly recommend Midnight Crossroad, if you're a fan of Charlaine Harris' already or urban fantasy, or paranormal mystery you will enjoy it!

I'm going to give Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris, 4 stars.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Storykiller by Kelly Thompson

Kelly Thompson's latest young adult book is called Storykiller. Thompson is also the author of The Girl Who Would Be King. I supported both of these books on Kickstarter and have thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

Storykiller is the story of Tessa Battle, a girl celebrating her 17th birthday with a return to her hometown of Lore, and the arrival of her standard super hero package of powers. It turns out Tessa is a scion, someone who stands between the world of fiction and the real world.

Fictional characters are real, and exist in a realm of their own, but some choose to live in our world instead. It is up to the Scion to see they don't get up to mischief. Too bad no one prepared Tessa for all of this.

The book makes me think "Once Upon A Time" meets The Eyre Affair. It isn't quite as clever as Jasper Fforde's writing, but it also didn't make me feel like I'm not well read enough. It mostly sticks with characters from familiar stories, many from fairy tales.

The ebook version I got from the kickstarter had several illustrations done by different comic book artists also, which were fantastic. Tessa is a fun character, and so is her misfit band that she winds up recruiting. Some of her merry band is made up of human friends from school, some from Story and some give rise to the question of who's side they're really on.

I would highly recommend this book, and I hope Thompson plans to write more in this world!
I would rate Storykiller 4 Stars.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Divergent Book and Movie

I had read the Divergent book around the time Insurgent came out, and I never got around to reading the other two books. With the movie on the horizon I decided to re-read Divergent before seeing the movie and then read the rest of the series.

The re-read of Divergent reminded me that it was a good book, in some ways I like it better than Hunger Games. There is overall a more hopeful vibe than Hunger Games has. Maybe it's that the action is limited to one city, it feels more manageable somehow. The names of the factions still bug me, they feel a little like trying to hard and explaining the book to my husband made me feel ridiculous. I love Tris though, and in some ways she feels more real than Katniss.

I saw the Divergent movie on an IMAX screen on March 26th. I really liked the movie too. I think overall they did a nice job translating the book. Of course things get left out, and of course the book in general is better. However, one place I think the movie did better than the book was when it came to Tris' final exam in the fear landscape, and in her preparation leading up to that.

In the book it feels like she knows that how she performs in simulations is part of what marks her as Divergent, but in the book it also feels like she doesn't do much to change that performance. She maybe tries to slow down. The movie has Four showing her how to go through the simulation like a Dauntless would instead of like a Divergent.

I flew through Insurgent and am working my way through Allegiant. I hope the series has a good ending, but I'll let you know!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy 2014!

2013 saw a lot of changes for us. We moved from Iowa to Miami. The move came up about the time of my last post on this blog, so there you go. Miami is a big change from Iowa, but having lived in Las Vegas, Nevada and Orlando, Florida, it wasn't completely another planet. Although, Miami is different from both of those places. This time we had the added challenge of moving school aged children, so the school area we move to is much more important than before.

But, enough about moving halfway across the country, just in time to avoid a horribly cold Iowa winter.

I had set a goal of 105 books to read for this year. It looks like I beat that goal and ended up with 112 books read. I did not read as much non-fiction as I'd hoped, so it's a goal that will carry over to this year. The books I read were all over the place, but a lot came from mystery, fantasy/sci fi/urban fantasy and romance.

One of my favorite series I read this year was the Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance. She released the latest book in the series this fall and it sounded interesting, so I started from the beginning. It is the first series probably since Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series that I just read the books back to back until I finished everything that was out there. I did take a break before reading book one of the spin off series Midnight's Daughter.

My short list of favorite books that I read in 2013 is:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece by Rosanne Montillo 

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Fangirl  by Rainbow Rowell

Lamb by Christopher Moore

Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

God Save the Queen  by Kate Locke

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

There were also some great entries in series that I have been reading for awhile, including the last Sookie Stackhouse book in 2013.
My favorite series:

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris (final book in Sookie Stackhouse series)

Tempest Reborn by Nicole Peeler (final book in Tempest series)

Etiquette and Espionage  and Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger (new YA series in her Parasol Protectorate universe)

Ever After by Kim Harrion (Hollows series, more to come in this one!)

What A Ghoul Wants by Victoria Laurie (Ghost Hunter series, and one of the best in the series)

The Twelve Clues of Christmas  and Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen (Her Royal Spyness mysteries)

Time Thief and The Art of Stealing Time by Katie MacAlister (new series by a favorite author)

Tulle Death Do Us Part by Annette Blair (Vintage Magic mysteries)

Deadly Forecast by Victoria Laurie (Psychic Eye mysteries)

Tarnished and Torn by Juliet Blackwell (Witchcraft mysteries)

The Hen of the Baskervilles and Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow mysteries)

A Custom Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon (Magical Dressmaking mysteries)

Third Grave Dead Ahead, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, and Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson series)

Seed No Evil by Kate Collins (Flower Shop mysteries)

Dark Currents and Autumn Bones by Jacqueline Carey (Agent of Hel series)

Touch the Dark, Claimed by Shadow, Embrace the Night, Curse the Dawn, Hunt the Moon, and Tempt the Stars by Karen Chance (Cassandra Palmer series)

There were several first in a series books that I read this year also, but I think I will do a separate round up of those.

I want to include more non-fiction this year and get more knitting done. I need to make more progress on my Bee Keeper's Quilt.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2014!

Happy reading!