Throwback Thursday: The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane by Alex Irvine

I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.
I was intrigued by the concept of a new TV series companion written in diary form, and this book did not disappoint in that aspect. The writing matched Ichabod’s voice perfectly, and...

I was intrigued by the concept of a new TV series companion written in diary form, and this book did not disappoint in that aspect.  The writing matched Ichabod’s voice perfectly, and his insights into modern changes were fun to read.  What I was missing was any photographs for reference or any behind-the-scenes information usually found in a TV show companion.  Overall, good execution of the format but next time I want pictures!  Here’s what you need to know!

Pros:
Ichabod’s voice/character in diary form
Ichabod’s fun remarks on modern trends and fashion
Great recap of the whole first season of Sleepy Hollow
Diary format works well

Cons:
Missing some of the fun stuff companion tie-ins usually have

I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest review.  I chose this title because I really liked season one of Sleepy Hollow; however, after the finale, my husband and I couldn’t piece together why we should watch season 2.  But it was fun while it lasted 🙂

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#ALAleftbehind Book Haul

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My company is only able to send one person from my department to ALA, but my boss was willing to take my list and grab fun stuff again this year.  She was able to pick up everything on my list of confirmed swag as well as a few little extras!

 

Some of these I tried to get at BEA16, but was unable to secure:

Heartless by Marissa Meyer-Such a hot item at BEA that I waited in 3 different lines without success

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst-This is the book HarperCollins tried to tell me didn’t exist at BEA.  I’m so excited to have the chance to read it!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber-I had a ticket and was in line at BEA16 for this title, but the line was soooo slow that I gave my ticket to someone holding their friend’s spot in line but wished she had her own ticket.  I was excited to see her name on the signing schedule for ALA

Replica by Lauren Oliver-OK, so this one is on my list because I kept hearing about it at BEA.  Unfortunately, Lauren was unavailable for signing due to contracting the flu.

Here are the new ones at ALA16:

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff-After meeting him at BookCon and reading the description for this book, I knew I needed it!

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill-This is currently the only December book in my 2016 challenge, so I was happy to see that she was signing.

Harley Quinn and Power Girl by Amanda Conner-This is my favorite iteration of Harley Quinn right now.  I had sent Harley Quinn Vol. 1 for signing, but the author had taken a trip to Italy, where she broke her hand.  I hope it heals quickly!

My boss also scored some fun socks, Dragonwatch branded post-it notes, mini colored pencils, and Monstress bookmarks.  I feel really lucky that all of this made its way to me and hope that everyone had a great time at ALA this year.  Look forward to reviews of many of these titles–right here–very soon!

Top 10 Tuesday: 2016 Picture Books

Today, I want to share some of my favorite picture books from 2016.  As a cataloger, I see quite a few, but here are some that I thought really stood out.

  1. Goodnight Unicorn: A Magical Parody by Carla Oceanak

Goodnight Unicorn: A Magical Parody

An adorable parody of Goodnight Moon with beautiful illustrations perfect for any unicorn fanatic or fantasy-lover.

2. Quackers by Liz Wong

Quackers

A fun tale about a cat who is raised by a bunch of ducks.

3.If I had a Gryphon by Vikki VanSickle

If I Had a Gryphon

Adorable read-aloud, good for sharing with any young child who is interested in pets or just a good story.

4. Little Butterfly by Laura Logan

Little Butterfly

Fun, wordless picture book about kindness and compassion.

5. This is Not a Picture Book! by Sergio Ruzzier

This Is Not a Picture Book!

A cute and enjoyable read about what books can mean to you, the reader.

6. Fabulous Frogs by Martin Jenkins

Fabulous Frogs

This is a beautifully illustrated introduction to frogs, which are so much fun!

7. A Fairy Friend by Sue Fliess

A Fairy Friend

Disney-esque illustrations couple well with lyrical, rhyming text that would be great to read-aloud.

8. The Cloud Princess by Khoa Le

The Cloud Princess

Another beautifully illustrated picture book; this one introduces the reader to the water cycle in a fantasy format.

9. The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty

The Storybook Knight

I really enjoyed this fun, rhyming tale!  It’s not due out until October, but you should put it on your pre-order/TBR list right now.

OK, so I didn’t quite make it to 10, but we’re only part way through 2016.  I’m sure I’ll do another post like this later in the year as well.

What picture books have stood out to you?  Do you have a favorite already?  Reply in the comments below!

Manic Monday: Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

Heroine Complex

Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: July 5th 2016 by DAW
As we approach county fair season, I’ve been devoting more time and energy to creating entries, but I had to take a time out to finish reading this book!  I first discovered this book because of the cover artist, Jason Chan.  Many of you may know him from his many other cover creations, including Jay Kristoff’s Lotus War series, or from Magic the Gathering card art.  Heroine Complex starts in the middle of the scene depicted on the cover, kicking cupcake demon butt in San Francisco.  From there the snark and sass just ooze off the page as the demons racket up their obnoxious plan to take over the city.
 I really enjoyed this take on superheroes as we delved into the everyday tasks and relationships that are behind the scenes of every successful hero/heroine.  The relationship emotions were well-defined and truthful to the situations being described throughout the book.  They were occasionally rushed and maybe not quite built into the characters as early as they should be, but the emotions were genuine and matched the respective characters.  I was especially pleased with the urbanization of language and the pop culture references.  Both of these, and the hokeyness of the villain, played to many of the tropes found in superhero comics and TV shows.
The ending was quite satisfactory, but I can’t help wanting more.  These characters were very compelling, and I grew attached to them.  I don’t think there are any planned sequels, but I’m putting out my desire for a companion in the future.  Honestly, you should just put in your pre-order now.  Don’t wait!!

Summary:

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

 

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Throwback Thursday: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

R★: Highly recommended. (Must-read right now!)
Creative Must (Does something different really well.)
With this book, I deviated from my comfort zone of fantasy/sci-fi and delved into horror. A creepy psychological thriller, The Dead House shines some...

R★: Highly recommended. (Must-read right now!)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

With this book, I deviated from my comfort zone of fantasy/sci-fi and delved into horror.  A creepy psychological thriller, The Dead House shines some light on DID (disassociate identity disorder) through a multimedia format of diary entries, video transcripts, police interviews, and post-it notes.  And as a debut for Dawn Kurtagich, this book is a masterpiece.  Here’s my rundown!

Pros:
This format was easy to read and a whole lot of fun
Pacing was appropriate to the story’s flow
Round female characters
Use of Mala & Grundi is different and interesting

Cons:
Male characters felt stereotypical
Would have been nice to have a better grasp of Mala & Grundi (like an author’s note explaining the real-life basics)

Spoilers below

I’m not sure how I would classify the ending (as pro or con).  Basically the author puts forth enough information/evidence to support either that the main character was in fact insane or that someone really had cursed her.  I dislike endings that feel like ‘it was all a dream’, but this one had me thinking. I liked this ending because both sides had equivalent evidence and you really do have to figure it out yourself.

This book is great in any library but may be of particular interest to those wanting a first-person look at a multiple personality disorder. Definitely one to go out and buy as soon as it hits the shelves in September!!!

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof claimed from work.

One of my favorite reads from last year, I have been recommending this book to everyone who shows even the mildest of interest (including feigned interest!).  Luckily, it’s an amazing read and most of the people who took the plunge really enjoyed it.  I was able to purchase a signed hardcover at BEA16 from the Anderson Bookshop booth!!

May Reads-New Releases I’m Excited to Read

I’m a little late with this one, but here goes!  These are books that were released in May but I haven’t had a chance to read them yet!

 

The Crown (The Selection, #5)

This series is a guilty pleasure, but book 4 ended on a major cliffhanger, so I need to pick this one up.  Then again, it is the final book, and I have a bad habit about pushing those back 😛

The Sleeping Prince (The Sin Eater’s Daughter, #2)

Here’s the sequel/companion to The Sin-Eater’s Daughter, which I really liked, so I’m expecting this one to be just as great.

Admiral (Evagardian, #1)

Admiral came to me via AceRocStars and has received pretty good reviews, but I’m wary of science fiction right now even if it does sound really interesting.

Everland

Here’s one of the specially packaged books I received from a coworker.  I might have to wait a while before I have time to read this, but it looks fun.

Ruined (Ruined, #1)

I was all excited to read this until I saw other early reviews that were disappointed.  And while I like to read something and make my own conclusions, I confess that I did push this one back to read other things.  I’m hoping I disagree with all the disappointed reviewers though 🙂

 

What were your favorite reads from May?  What came out that you’re excited to read?

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)

Hardcover, 371 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Ace
This is one of the books I received through AceRocStars last year, and I just had a chance to finish reading it.  I enjoyed this book.  Not as much as other titles I’ve read recently, but certainly enough to see why it got high praise when it published last September.  There were two main reasons that disappointed me. First, the ending felt very contrived. *Spoiler* The two main characters declare their deep love for each other even though there was no previous romance between them.*  Second, the pacing was off.  Probably because this is a debut, and I allow debuts leeway because I’ve seen the pattern of authors’ evolutions.  So no big there.
What really drew me into this story was the social commentary on both women’s roles in society and how minorities were treated in the past.  I thought it played into the plot well and was carefully written to reflect the past and the present.  Of course, the characters themselves carried most of the burden of portraying and discussing this matter, and I must give props to the author for giving these characters a great depth of personality.  And because writers take great care choosing the appropriate words, I wanted to point out that the vocabulary chosen for both dialogue and exposition fit the world and time period wonderfully.  I felt like I was part of a different time almost.
Zen Cho is an author to keep on your radar for future books as I am looking forward to seeing Zen’s writing evolve into something amazing.

Summary:

Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof provided in exchange for an honest review through the AceRocStars Street Team.

Throwback Thursday: Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold

I’m more of a fantasy reader usually, which means that I absolutely LOVED Lindskold’s Firekeeper series! However, when I learned that her newest series also had intelligent animal companions, I decided to give it a try. Turns out, Lindskold is just...

I’m more of a fantasy reader usually, which means that I absolutely LOVED Lindskold’s Firekeeper series! However, when I learned that her newest series also had intelligent animal companions, I decided to give it a try.  Turns out, Lindskold is just as talented at science fiction writing as fantasy.  I was immediately pulled in by the characters and think that Lindskold kept good pacing with exposition, world building, and action.  Here’s what you need to know!

Pros:
Strong female lead character
Intelligent animal companions
Interesting, intriguing backstory and world building
Excellent pacing
Relationships have time to develop realistically
It’s the first in a series

Cons:
Choice of plot device (no spoilers here)
Strange “mechanical” blurbs at the end of chapters

Obviously, the pros outweigh the cons 🙂 Mostly the “mechanical” blurbs were lost on me when I read them, but they did make sense the further I read into the story.  I am definitely excited for the next book!

I had my brother-in-law pick up a copy of this title when the author had a signing in Albuquerque, NM.  At about the same time, I was in communication with the author regarding bookplates, which she graciously agreed to sign.  And shortly thereafter, I won the final prize in her contest, and I received an uncorrected proof of the sequel, signed of course!

Book Review: Lotus and Thorn by Sara Wilson Etienne

Lotus and Thorn

Hardcover, 464 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!  Why do I keep finding awesome science fiction novels with HUGE twists at the end?!?!?!  At least this time, I loved it all the way to the end, even if it did end on a huge cliffhanger.  This is definitely a reaction post in which I had not quite sorted out my feelings before typing them up, so bear with me.
So, when I first picked up this book, I wasn’t completely sold on the synopsis; however, I was interested and then I saw the clincher, “perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah Maas.”  My curiosity grew to the point that I needed to know if there was truth in that statement.  And there was 🙂  The writing style was addictive and easy to read, and the main character, Leica, had a lot of depth and characterization.  The world building was paced well–until the major twist at the end.  I just felt like there weren’t enough clues built into the text that would lead the reader there without it being spelled out, which does match how the main character felt but isn’t necessarily how the reader wants to feel.
One of my favorite personality traits for a leading lady is cunning and cleverness.  Leica had lots of this and it showed in her actions and internal monologue.  *I especially have a soft spot for well-written, well-utilized courtesans (i.e. kisaengs).*  I also really enjoyed how the author wrote Leica’s (and the other ladies’) strength in a realistic way that conveyed the various forms of strength–resilience, physical, emotional, endurance–pretty much any form you can think of.  The ladies have positives and negatives like real people instead of being written as the most powerful beings with no flaws.  The male characters were given the same treatment and fit the narrative without overshadowing it.
And last but not least, I want to talk about the format a little bit.  This novel was broken into three parts with parts one and two starting with a section of the same fairytale (Fitcher’s Bird by the Brothers Grimm), which echoed the plot arc for that part.  Part three’s was interwoven into the main story, and I liked the effect.  The genre is hard to pin down but I would probably categorize it as a dystopian science fiction with a good dose of fantasy elements and a dash of adventure.
This story is definitely for anyone who likes Tamora Pierce, Sarah Maas, Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins…  I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you like a good story with compelling characters, go pick up this book.  It’s out right now!!
Also, I am currently in communication with the author to do an email interview!  So look for that later this month ❤

Summary:

A thrilling fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah Maas

Ravaged by a plague known as Red Death, the planet Gabriel, a former colony of Earth, is a barren wasteland. Since being abandoned by Earth 500 years ago, resources are scarce and life is cheap. To stay alive, the survivors, the Citizens, scavenge the remains of a now dead city, trading for food with the resource-rich Curadores, the only other survivors on Gabriel. Every old computer, every piece of wire, every scrap of metal counts. To steal is the ultimate sin. So when tough-as-nails seventeen-year-old Leica is caught doing just that, she’s exiled and left to the mercy of Gabriel’s unforgiving desert for the rest of her life.

While in exile, Leica discovers a mysterious shuttle, which may not only lead her home, but even more impossible—reestablish contact with Earth. Then Red Death rears its head again, killing her entire work crew, leaving Leica all alone until a handsome Curador offers her refuge in the Dome—the only place on Gabriel untouched by Red Death, where a decadent and sultry life awaits. But there’s a catch: Leica can only enter the Dome as his concubine—his Kisaeng. When a rogue group of Citizens see their chance for revolution in Leica’s good fortune, she finds herself unraveling a deadly mystery with chilling answers to the true origin of Red Death and the reason Earth really abandoned them so long ago.

A richly imagined fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce, Lotus and Thorn, is a magnificent, epic adventure.

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof.