Saturday, August 22, 2015

Not the Dragon Book I Was Looking For

Published: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Received: Egalley from Netgalley (Thanks Disney-Hyperion!)

I was so excited for this book. I loved Lackey's Elemental Masters books and her Valdemar books, plus dragon (!!) on the cover of this one. What could go wrong?? 

Apparently a whole lot. 

This seriously felt like a first novel of an untrained writer. I kept thinking to myself, maybe this is her first book written with a ghost writer? It did not read like a Lackey novel at all. Even the world-building was incredibly subpar compared to her other novels. It felt like she had the barest bones of an idea, and she figured since she was writing for a younger audience that she didn't need to put in as much as effort. I was so disappointed. 

The premise is great: Hunter Joy has been secretly training in her mountain village for years, but has now been called to the big city (Apex) to join her Uncle and pick up training there. Typically any hunter goes to Apex to train from the beginning, so Joy must keep the Masters and Hunters of her home village a secret. With her pack of "dogs" (creatures from the Otherside who work with Joy), Joy must keep Apex safe from the variety of dangerous Othersiders that crossed the barrier years before and have been slowly creeping past the supposedly safe zone of the city. 

However, Lackey also failed a bit at executing the premise. She combines a lot of different cultures to create this "futuristic" society. Basically she says that no culture was entirely right, but each of them seemed to get a little bit of it right. However, this comes across as really insensitive to cultures and traditions. I kept having to ask myself, "Is this racist? This feels a little bit racist." And I've gotten to a point in my life where if I have to ask myself that question, it probably is. Although, I'd really like the input from someone of a culture that was included to read it and talk about how they feel. 

This is entirely exposition. It's set-up for the series. It has the barest of plots to keep the book moving forward and feeling slightly more than entirely character introduction, but I feel like 80% of this book could have been cut out. I was also frustrated with Lackey's method of writing for this book which was entirely "tell-don't-show". Sure, this book is written in first-person, but I don't think that's the problem. The problem was that instead of showing (through character actions or sensory input or descriptions), Lackey spent most of the book having her character tell us what was happening or what had happened or what she felt. I felt like the successes of the book were few and far between but they came when Lackey remembered to show. 

Overall, this would not be a book I would recommend to fans of Lackey's or fans of dragons or fans of fantasy dystopians. Perhaps after the sequel comes out, I will be more of a fan. I mean, I spent 354 pages reading about the characters, I do kind of want to see what happens to them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

When you publish, I'll be there

Hello Lovelies!

As usual Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is 10 Authors I would Auto-Buy meaning if these authors were to publish anything, I would be at the bookstore that week, money in hand. 

Anne Bishop: I'm currently finishing up the only series of hers I haven't read, and she's one of the few adult authors who I seriously adore. I would (and will) buy anything she writes.

Jandy Nelson: Omg, I'm obsessed with  I'll Give You the Sun and I really enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere. I can't wait for her next book release!

John Green: I mean, I've read almost everything he's written (still missing a couple short stories, dang it!), and I'll continue to do so.

Kate DiCamillo: She won me over completely with The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, but I've really enjoyed her other titles too. Can't wait to see what she publishes next!

Patrick Ness: I'm obsessed with his books! Once I get my latest book order, I'll only be missing his collection of short stories. I'll definitely be picking up The Rest of Us Just Live Here when it's finally released in the U.S.

Rainbow Rowell: To be completely honest, if this was arranged by priority, Rowell would be #1. I cannot wait for Carry On, Simon Snow to come out. Rowell has changed my life so much in the last couple years. If her books had midnight releases, I would be at every one of them.

Stephanie Perkins: I feel like I don't have a lot of contemporary author favorites (although looking at this list, maybe I just don't know myself that well), but I love her books so much. I will always buy stuff she writes.

Marissa Meyer: I love the Lunar Chronicles! I cannot wait for Winter to come out. And I would be just as excited to see what she did with another world. 

Gene Luen Yang: He got me into graphic novels. Like I had read the occasional one before his, but his style completely drew me in. I will definitely buy anything he does.

Leslye Walton: She might only have one book out, but I think about it constantly. I can't wait to see what she does next. 

Those are my top 10 auto-buy authors!! Who's on your list? Let me know in the comments!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Fate of a City in a Monkey's Hands

Published: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Received: E-galley for review through Netgalley (Thanks Wendy Lamb Books!)

Lizzie doesn't have friends at school--Miss Barstow's, a school for young ladies to learn how to become perfect wives. Lizzie would rather read books or accompany her doctor father on visits to patients. That's why Lizzie can recognize the problems with the quarantine of Chinatown. Nobody is wearing protective gear, for one thing. But nobody will admit that the plague is in San Francisco. What lengths will adults go to in order to keep the news of plague quiet?

I remember reading Al Capone Does My Shirts when I was younger, and I enjoyed it. This book left me feeling a little unfulfilled. It was good, but I also felt like Choldenko tried to encompass too many threads without deeply exploring any. I thought the book was about the plague, but really that's tangential. It only becomes necessary to the plot when Choldenko wants it to. I also felt like Choldenko tried to include a love triangle without making it a love triangle? I know a lot of people have crushes at 13 (I was definitely one of them!), but I think that the way in which Choldenko writes Lizzie and the crushes it comes off as false. 

Overall, I would probably recommend this to middle grade readers looking for historical fiction set during this time period. I think it's unique in subject matter and setting.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Twist of Lies

Published: June 2, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Received: An Egalley from the publisher on Netgalley! Thanks HMH!!

Charlie Price just died in a fiery plane explosion, Except all that's been recovered is his bloody jacket. So technically he's missing, presumed dead. But Lena doesn't care about technicalities or improbabilities. As Charlie's girlfriend, she's certain he's still alive, still out there somewhere, waiting for her to find him. 

Aubrey had to find out about her boyfriend's death through the internet. He wasn't answering her texts or calls. But he'd encouraged her to sign up for his campus newspaper. And the paper announces the missing student. When she finds out about his funeral service, she heads to Paris. Where she meets Lena, Charlie's other girlfriend who is convinced he's still alive. Aubrey agrees to chase after Charlie. But Aubrey's just looking for something Charlie took, something Aubrey's willing to do just about anything to get back.

The first couple pages of this book really through me off. I'm not sure whether it was the setting or the voice or the situation, but I had to put it down and come back to it (like three months later, oops, sorry HMH!). However, I started reading it again yesterday, and I finished it in one day. I'm not sure that I can actively say I liked it, but I can say that it's a thriller and it had me on the edge of my seat. I needed to know what happened. I needed to know whether Charlie was alive or dead. I needed to know what was going to happen to Aubrey and Lena. 

Possible spoilers in this section so skip ahead if you avoid those.  What the hell was up with that ending?!? When we got to the last few chapters, I was like whoa! No! What! I definitely did not see that part coming. I'm not sure how much I buy into it either. Like I can tentatively see a spoiled rich boy at 21 coming up with a fake suicide and leaving a trail for his ex-girlfriends, or at least I'm willing to suspend my disbelief there. But somewhere around the middle I started to feel a little sensitive about the culture clashing happening and how much it reinforced certain stereotypes about those cultures. And then I got really annoyed with the last part of the book and then the criminal justice aspect. I know there are real world equivalents to this last part of the story, but I don't buy into this outcome with this story and these characters. 

Overall, I would recommend this to fans of thrillers and almost murder mysteries. Well a murder isn't the driving force, I think the set-up is similar, and the did-he-did-he-not aspect is similar to trying to figure out a murderer. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tell Me a Story I Don't Know

Hello Lovelies!! As usual Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. Today the theme is Fairy Tale Retellings I Want to Read. I went a little loose with the definition of fairy tale (a.k.a. I have books that are just retellings of famous stories). So without further ado:

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston (A Thousand and One Nights)
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (Little Red Riding Hood)

Valiant by Sarah McGuire (The Brave Little Tailor)

Those are all the retellings I am dying to read! What about you lovelies? Anything I should add to my list? Let me know in the comments!!