Friday, December 19, 2014

Book Tour Review: Prism by Roland Allnach

Title: Prism
Author: Roland Allnach
Series: N/A
Pages: 282
Published: July 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours for review 
Rating: 3/5

Prism presents the best of Roland Allnach's newest stories together with his most acclaimed published short fiction. These selected stories fracture the reader's perceptions among a dazzling array of genres and styles to illuminate the mysterious aspects of the human experience.

Roland Allnach has been described as a "star on the rise" (ForeWord Clarion), "a master storyteller with a powerful pen" (Cynthia Brian, NY Times Bestselling author), with writing that is "smart, elegant, and addicting" (San Francisco Review).

Anthologies and short story collections are often hard to review because of the shortness of the text, the lack of time you have to really sink into the story or get to know the characters therein. Usually there is a unifying theme and that can be helpful, but Roland Allnach's Prism is... different. Trying on many different hats and attempting to write in various genres, Allnach's Prism is a book that is hard to define, or to review. It does provide a lot of thought-fodder, and remains starkly unique reading experience in my memory. With varying degrees of success, it was a book that tried to do a lot and one that definitely kept my attention.

With almost disparate twenty stories contained in this not-quite-three-hundred-page book, chances are there will be something for every kind of fiction lover in Prism. If you like horror, or science fiction or poetry, Allnach has you covered here. (Same for fantasy or speculative fiction and so on and so forth.) And while the short-lived nature of these pieces of fiction can often work against them, it also makes Allnach's work stand out as a whole especially when he ties (some) of the stories together through a common thread. 

Some of the stories are undoubtedly stronger than others. Some showcase Allnach's writing to great example, and some almost lose the narrative thread entirely. I can't say I was a fan of everything in Prism -- the poetry utterly failed to connect with me -- but when I was a fan, I was a big, enthusiastic fan. The collection veers more on the dark, tragic side of fiction but that was a large part of the appeal for me. I liked that the author isn;t afraid to explore negative emotions and perspectives in unexpected ways.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: The Jupiter Pirates #2: Curse of the Iris by Jason Fry

Title: The Jupiter Pirates #2: Curse of the Iris
Author: Jason Fry
Genre: science fiction
Series: The Jupiter Pirates #2
Pages: 400
Published: Expected December 16, 2014
Source: Publisher via edelwiess
Rating: 4 out of 5

Treasure Island meets Battlestar Galactica in Book 2 of the swashbuckling sci-fi adventure series SLJ called "space opera in the classic style" in a starred review, from New York Times bestselling author Jason Fry.

It's been a tough year for Tycho Hashoone and his family. Hostilities between the Jovian Union and Earth have reached a boiling point. The privateering business hasn't exactly been booming. And the ongoing contest for the captain's seat of the Shadow Comet has the three Hashoone siblings perpetually on edge. Then the Hashoones intercept a ship—one with a long-dead crew, its final mission a warning to all who seek their fortunes in space. The Hashoones don't have time for ill omens; they need a payday. Following clues from the mysterious ship, they embark on a hunt for the long-lost treasure of the Iris—a treasure that Tycho's own great-grandfather Johannes had a hand in hiding. But in his quest for the Iris cache, Tycho is going to dig up much more than he bargained for. Because like old pirate treasure, family secrets never stay buried for long.

Filled with action, intrigue, and one unforgettable family, The Jupiter Pirates: Curse of the Iris takes readers across the depths of space and brings the Jupiter Pirates saga to new heights.

In an exciting and joyful sequel that will delight sci-fi fans of all ages, we once again join the Hashoone family on their privateer ship around Jupiter. Two years have passed since the first book, and the Shadow Comet has fallen on some hard luck. The Hydra is embroiled in a nasty legal battle, ensuring the Hashoone’s haven’t seen their money for capturing the infamous pirate ship, and with tensions heating up between the Jovian Union and Earth, they’re not capturing many merchant vessels, either. But when a long dead ship turns up with a clue to a buried treasure, Tycho and his siblings are once again on the hunt.

It’s a great plot that brings to mind classic adventure stories, a’la Treasure Island, and Star Trek. In addition to treasure hunting and space battles, there’s espionage as a mysterious government figure joins the search and a real focus on the individual strengths of each of the kids. Possibly my favorite part was a solid explanation for something I found arbitrary in the first novel: the contest for captain. The kids’ deeds are still being entered in The Log, but they’re also starting to question why only one can be Captain. The reason being, that while the kids may respect each other if they all get their own ships, will the respect their cousins? Second cousins? Soon space would be full of Hashoones fighting each other, and family has to be there to support, not tear down. Great message, though I think Tycho made it clear it’s not so cut and dried.

There are very few negatives this time around. I’m not sure the time skip of two years works, as I don’t know if the twins felt any older. Everyone still has the same roles on the ship and still talks about the Hydra, so it didn’t feel like any time had actually passed. This isn’t a huge issue that detracts from the book, just a little quibble. Additionally, the universe feels smaller this time, as most of the traveling either takes place off screen or is between Jupiter’s moons. There is a time limit on the treasure hunt, that ends up feeling kind of silly and rushed,

The time skip could have been used to introduce more mature plot elements, but it’s not. There are still no love interests, though the crew get a bit more screen time, so there are other characters than the immediate family. There is a side plot dealing with an ex-spacer who’s developed substance abuse problems, which might be a bit heavy for some younger readers. It’s used to teach a really good lesson, though, and all actual use takes place off screen. There are some fight scenes, again with off screen deaths, but nothing more intense than an episode of TNG.

Comparing the book to Star Trek is both a huge compliment and the best description I can give. It lives up to Roddenberry’s desire to mix Gulliver’s Travels’ adventure and morals with the mystery of space. I know the author writes for the Star Wars EU, but perhaps he should consider a move to the better Star franchise*.

*This is of course said in love and jest. Except that it’s not. Trekkie 4 Lyfe.

Whatever he writes for, I hope he continues the Jupiter Pirates, as it has the potential to inspire a lot more wonder.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Title: Princess of Thorns
Author: Stacey Jay
Genre: fantasy
Series: none
Pages: 400
Published: Expected December 9, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 2 out of 5
Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

I’m giving up on cross-dressing heroine stories. They obviously peaked with Alanna and Mulan and now all we’re left with is…Ror.

A lot of people don’t know that in the older versions of Sleeping Beauty, there’s a second act. Beauty bears the prince two children, L'Aurore and Le Jour, (Dawn and Day,) but while the prince, now king, is away, they’re taken by his Ogress (step?)mother, who wants to eat them. A kindly cook swaps the children for lamb and goat and sets them free, (shades of Snow White,) and though Beauty offers to slit her own throat because she thinks they’re dead, the cook is also able to save her. The Ogress then tries to kill the family in a tub of vipers, but the king arrives in time to rescue them, killing his (step?)mother in the process.

In this version, the prince is murdered by the Ogres while he’s away at war, and in an effort to save Aurora and Jor, Beauty slits her throat to pass her fairy magic to a six year old Ror. Rather than bless her with beauty and grace, instead the child gains strength, mercy, bravery, and the accidental ability to turn men into slaves. The story takes place eleven years later, mere weeks before, according to Ogre prophecy, Aurora will bring about the end of the world.

That sounds amazing, right? And it is. There’s nothing wrong with Princess of Thorns’ plot that removing the romance would not fix. Unfortunately, in addition to ruining girl-disguised-as-a-boy stories for me, this book has ruined bickering love interests. There’s nothing charming about Ror and Niklaas’ arguments. They’re mean spirited. Niklaas is a chauvinistic bore convinced he can force any woman to fall in love with him. Ror is an emotionally stunted brat, incapable of telling the truth even when life and free will are on the line. They are both perhaps the most stubborn, obstinate characters in literature. Every single one of their problems would be solved by talking to each other like adults. I never felt a reason for them to come together at the end. There’s lust, but no love or respect. The “romance” is actually quite depressing.

And then there’s the writing. Apparently if you can’t make us feel the love between your main characters, just have them spout purple prose in run on sentences. That totally makes up for the fact that they’ve only known each other for three days and have lied to each other the entire time. Additionally, there are a lot of weird word choices. Sentences like, “with a groan muffled by my startled ribs,” don’t even make sense. The most egregious comes when Niklaas finds out Ror is actually the princess Aurora, (why would Jor go by Ror, Niklaas? WHY?!) "[H]e pulls away like my fingers are made of fire. Or feces. Fire and feces mixed together." This is not a joke. This is not an exaggeration. This is a line that made it into a published fantasy novel. LIKE FIRE AND FECES MIXED TOGETHER.

The only good thing about the book is the third POV from the Ogre queen, which fleshes out the villains and gives an excellent example of the quote, “a villain is a hero in his own mind.” Ekeeta is a terrifying religious fanatic who is trying to bring about the end of the world so that she may usher humans and Ogres alike into the paradise of The Lost Mother. Except it turns out that she’s just a puppet for the real big bad, illustrated by a complete 180 in her motivations off screen. Even when I’m trying to say nice things about this book, it just won’t let me.

I’ve been looking forward to Princess of Thorns for more than a year, and the fact that it’s such a disappointment is painful. This book had the opportunity to take fairytale retellings to an action-packed place, but unlikeable characters and too much focus on the romance keep it from ever getting out of first gear.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Danielle's November Reads and (mini) Book Haul


But I was approved for four ARCs, two library books came in, and my most amazing TBTBSanta sent me two early gifts. Dash it, how does one actually reduce a TBR list?

But actually, November was kind of a crap month for me, bookwise. I only read eight books, and not big ones like October, and the scores were only middling. I did get my first Bingo, though. IRL, I moved into my own office for the first time in my career and passed a six-hour certification exam, which on top of the holidays, didn't leave a ton of reading time. And I may have played 90s PC games for 12 hours instead of reading on at least one occasion. Nothing can be proven.


The Body Electric by Beth Revis - 3 Stars (Review)
The Little Christmas Kitchen  by Jenny Oliver - 3 Stars (Review)
The Unhappening of Genesis Lee by Shallee McArthur - 2.5 Stars (Review)
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs - 3.5 Stars
Feed by Mira Grant - 5 Stars
Captive by Aimee Carter - 2.5 Stars (Review)
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs - 3 Stars
The Jupiter Pirates #2: Curse of the Iris by Jason Fry - 4 Stars (Review to come)

The Mercy Thompson books came from the library and they filled out two Bingo squares. I'm waffling on continuing the series.

Rashika did such a great job on my TBTB Secret Santa box! Not only did she send me A Little Something Different and Dream Thieves, but a super cute cat calendar, chocolate covered pretzels, (my favorite!), Tropic-os, (Peachos are my other favorite!), pickle chips, hot chocolate, and a candy cane the size of my head. Truly, truly spoiled. And the tissue paper is glittery. I only hope my partner loves her box half as much as I love mine.

On the ARC list, 
Not shown: The Witch of Painted Sorrows

So there we go, a pretty quiet month from me. If you want to see a real haul, head over to Jessie's, because the woman with 700 unread books needed another twenty or thirty. 

What about you, friends? How was your Thanksgiving month? Are you finishing out the year strong, or slacking like me?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review(s) Take Two: The Paper Magician & The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Title: The Paper Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Series: The Paper Magician #1
Pages: 224
Published: September 1 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3/5

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

Title: The Glass Magician
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Series: The Paper Magician #2
Pages: 222
Published: November 4 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2.5/5

Three months after returning Magician Emery Thane’s heart to his body, Ceony Twill is well on her way to becoming a Folder. Unfortunately, not all of Ceony’s thoughts have been focused on paper magic. Though she was promised romance by a fortuity box, Ceony still hasn’t broken the teacher-student barrier with Emery, despite their growing closeness.

When a magician with a penchant for revenge believes that Ceony possesses a secret, he vows to discover it…even if it tears apart the very fabric of their magical world. After a series of attacks target Ceony and catch those she holds most dear in the crossfire, Ceony knows she must find the true limits of her powers…and keep her knowledge from falling into wayward hands.

The delightful sequel to Charlie N. Holmberg’s The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician will charm readers young and old alike.

This is not a true series review as the third and final book in the Paper Magician series, The Master Magician, is not out until 2015. But I started and finished both of Charlie Holmberg's published books in less than a day and a half and they kind of melded together into one story. They're both quite short stories so it's not hard to speed through all of Ceony and Emery's adventures, though be advised things can and will get weird before the end.

The Paper Magician starts things off well, and continues in good fashion for a period. It also introduces the totally fun and inventive magic system, one of the cleverest and most original I've come across in fantasy. Danielle explains it pretty perfectly here and I am firmly a fan of Holmberg's creativity. I'm less enthused when it comes to her plotting and pacing. Notably less polished on both counts in the first novel, there are just some odd ways the timeline plays out, combined with all-too-often infodumps/exposition, and not to mention how infrequently we feel any kind of presence from the antagonist.

The Glass Magician fared rather better in regards to plotting and especially pacing than its predecessor, but it also felt rote at times. Ceony and Ethan's nebulous relationship feels more "expected" than a wholly natural development for the two of them, for one example. The characters are likeable enough, I guess, but they're missing a certain spark, both individually and as a unit. I want to care about them more than I actually do -- I'm always a big fan of creativity and it's obvious Holmberg has that in spades.

Endings seem to be a problem area for this author. Both failed to deliver, to my disappointment. The second one was a more egregious flouting of the expected, but each felt more like a placeholder than offering any real resolution to the novel. I finished each book ready for the next but it's still a vaguely unsatisfying experience when the author seemingly cheats her own established worldbuilding at the expediency of a plot twist that wasn't that twisty lbr here.

There's always room for growth and this is a series with some serious potential. The third book could and has every possibility of being creative, fun, and memorable. The Paper Magician was a good starting point for the trilogy and while The Glass Magician was only slightly less impressive experience, it was still a good indicator of Holmberg's abilities. I will still look forward to reading The Master Magician when it publishes, but I won't rush out to buy the hardcover to find out the series end.

Jessie's November Haul

Sooo.. November. It was a good month. A very good month, bookwise. It was the month of my birthday. It was the month I went crazy on e-ARCs after doing so well since BEA. It's been a while since I've done a haul or a wrap-up, so this may verge on TL;DR. Feel free to ogle pretty pictures of the books and ignore me.


Here are some goodies I was sent for book tours:

The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner - Tudor Spymaster #3 - fun, quick, twisty little historical mystery series continues.

The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by Stephanie Thornton - her historical fiction focuses on overlooked/ignored/important women of history. So so good.

The Brewer's Tale by Karen Brooks - um, I want this hair. Even if it goes in my face like that all the time.

Sent for review:

Silverblind by Tina Connolly - Ironskin #3 - I was curious to see how the author concludes this odd but interesting series and was not disappointed.

Dream A Little Dream by Kerstin Gier - weirdly there is no GR page for this, but hey, I like the cover. It looks cute.

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre- I adore Ann Aguirre's scifi, enjoy her work with her husband (Bronze Gods), like her UF/paranormal (Immortal Game), so I figured why not try this.

The Boy Next Door by Kati Van Ark - Swoon Reads second book and it looks prettyyyy cute (if cliche but WHATEVER gimme all the feels)

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski - The Winner's Trilogy #2 - I don't know how I haven't dived headfirst into this one yet, honestly

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios - Something Real was the contemporary debut of the year for me so far. Maybe the only way to top a Demetrios is with another Demetrios?

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen - Cat Hellisen is a one of a kind and I will read anything she writes.

Thank you to the kind people at Tor and Macmillan, specifically Ksenia who is a goddess amogst publicists.

Gifted by lovely lovely people:

The Poisoned Crown by Maurice Druon - The Accursed Kings - #3 - my obsession with the series that inspired ASOIAF is rivaled only by my obsession with ASOIAF.

The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist - The Opal Mask #1 - pretty obvious why I need this, no?

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby - Golden spoke to me in a quiet but lovely way and I can't wait to see how Moonglass fares.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis - Across the Universe #2 - I love a good "teens in space!" adventure and this series works for me, despite squicky love interests.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe - I had read an ARC of this and hardcover was most certainly in order. This book is beyond lovely. 

The Falconer by Elizabeth May - The Falconer #1 - I love this book. I read it as an eARC and have forever pined after that hardcover since. It is now mine and I won't lie and say I didn't pet it when I opened the box. (KIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARAN)

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore - Goodnight Family #1. This sounds and looks creepy and awesome. Here's hoping it's an atmospheric gothic read.

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen - Scarlet #2. Another eARC read that I have lusted for for many months. This series is so well done and full of twists and turns and feels and oh noes and more feels and JUST READ IT OK.

Steel by Carrie Vaughn -- notice how several of these book covers feature fierce ladies with knives? I like it.

My True Love Gave to Me by various - short stories from many favorites but especially Laini Taylor made this a very desperately sought prize.

The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima - The Seven Realms #4. I was refusing to read book two until I owned all four because I know CWC is gonna bring the feels. 

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. I don't know if I can do it. You only break the glass on the last Marchetta when you have to. **credit to loltergeist for that one.

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce - Alanna #4. I will finally, finally finish reading the Alanna seriers, thanks to the pushing and generosity of my friends.

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan - The Lynburn Legacy #3. I have already finished this and holy wow, my broken, broken feels. I just... HDU. The "u" is for everyone ever that read this before me and did not warn me.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch - Snow Like Ashes #1. A new fantasy favorite, this is another series that has a great, actiontastic heroine with many sides to her.

The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders - The Keepers #1. This ARC for a MG series looks like a great way to spend an afternoon!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - The Name of the Star #1. Jack the Ripper. That's all I needed to hear to know I wanted to read this.

A Blight of Mages by Karen Miller - Kingmaker, Kingbreaker #.5. I read the first two in this series ages ago and am unbelievably excited Miller has returned to tell more about this world.

Havoc by Ann Aguirre - Dred Chronicles #2. While this series isn't hitting Sirantha Jax-levels of awesome yet, you can't go wrong with an Ann Aguirre scifi novel with a badass female MC. You just can't.

The Native Star by M.K. Hobson -Veneficas Americana #1. This has an interesting synopsis and a gorgeous cover -- so yeah, been on my wishlist for aaaages.

Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick - Ashes #2. Creepy, actionpacked, dense. This is a series I plan to mainline as soon as there is any free reading time. Bick is so highly recommended.

Rain by Amanda Sun - Paper Gods #2. I didn't get an ARC for this so I have been curious for moonths. Book one was a decent introduction -- here's hoping book two knocks it out of the park.

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron - The Dark Unwinding #1. Another I had read but never owned, this is such an entertaining, quietly different story.

Thank you, Bekka! You really are a total wizard, and every time I stare at that gorgeous cover I will remember I owe ya. <3
Kara, thank you thank you for always rec'ing me such perfect reads. From YA to adult, you always know just what I want to read and are so generous. <3
Megarus, you are a gifting genie-person and I am forever thankful for you introducing me to Eli Monpress, amongst many other things.
Guylian Berty, my Jean Valjean, my Moriarty, my six-fingered man, you are too generous and kind by half. Thank you for hurting me with SRB and Unmade.
Lyn, you wonderful gal you. Thank you for picking out such great gifts, being so generous, and being always around for a chat when I need.
Ellis, you being of wit and wonder, you giver of The Last Unread Marchetta. Thank you for being you and for being such a thoroughly excellent bookpusher and opinion-haver.
Lili, fellow movie lover and texter extraordinaire. Thank you for the lovely package and the many recommendations and book talks way too late or way too early.

Danielle. My best friend, partner in crime for untold years, friend since The Teen Years, coblogger and co-conspirator in all things. You beyond spoiled me and I hope you know how much I treasure you in my life.

Aaaaand now the books I bought myself:

The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. AKA The World of Hot Targaryen Dragonlords.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. Just revel in the Auri-ness.

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine - A Tale of Two Castles #1. GCL owns my soul when it comes to fairy tale retellings and has since Ella Enchanted first was published.

Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara. An eARC that I truly loved; finally I own a copy. This book is so hauntingly lovely, guys. It contains some of my favorite quotes in all of literature.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner -The Queen's Thief #4 - this is where you see how crazy I am. I bought this hardcover on BookOutlet for $4 even though I don't own and have never read the first three. But it was on sale and I want to read the series soooo yeah, I bought the fourth book in a series I haven't started.

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear - Eternal Sky #1. Another coverlove favorite that I found on sale and bought on a whim because pretty. It doesn't hurt that it's a pretty acclaimed fantasy, though.

Written in Red by Anne Bishop - The Others #1. Hardcover for a popular book with great reviews for $3? Yep, bought it.

Winterspell by Claire Legrand. Gorgeous cover + seasonal + retelling = instant must have for Jessie.

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger - Finishing School #3. I love Gail Carriger and her YA series is consistently entertaining and fun.

The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller - The Tarnished Crown #1. I will read any fantasy this woman writes, the fatter the book the better. As you can see, this new series is off to a good start.

 Lastly, from a book sale, I got these 17 books for $14.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire #1. Read, loved, picked up because it was literally $1.

Matilda by Roald Dahl - childhood favorite and a steal for $.50!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone/Chamber of Secrets/Order of the Phoenix -  Harry Potter #1, #2, and #5. These are in great condition -- so much so I could not leave them there.

Crazy by Amy Reed - she has been recommended so many times I had to give it a shot.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - I actually owned this, I just picked this up because it was a hardcover for $1.50.

Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. So I grabbed this because Bet Me is my jam but reviews are mixed.

The Goose Girl/Enna Burning by Shannon Hale - Books of Bayern #1 and #2. Good condition, if the less-awesome version of the covers for this series.

Three Souls by Janie Chang. I love this book so I bought this to physically push on my friends and family.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. I've had my eye on this for months but could never committ to buying it. Until it was $1, that is.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger - Keeper of the Lost Cities #1. I love the cover and the premise of this.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I heard nothing but nonstop love for this book earlier this year.

The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans. Historical fiction that just sounds like fun.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - Bas-Lag #1. Another author that I hear so much about but read infrequently -- might as well try his most famous work, right?

The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson - Malazan Book of the Fallen #6. Man this series is so hard to explain/get other people interested in, but IT IS SO GOOD.

In my defense, some of these will be donated - the three Harry Potters, Matilda, the two Books of Bayern, Keeper of the Lost Cities, Game of Thrones, and The Bonehunters to my sister's 5th grade class and my father, respectively.

So yeah. A lot of books this month for me. I only wish I could read them all right now.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Review: Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Title: Suspicion
Author: Alexandra Monir
Genre: young adult, retellings, mystery, gothic
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Published: expected December 9 2014
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 1/5

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic Rebecca with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, Suspicion is an action-packed thrill ride.

I had a sneaking suspicion that Suspicion and I would have a rocky road when the poor, poor main character was described as being "forced to live as an American commoner!" and then again when the "keep secrets from the main character FOR HER OWN GOOD" trope came into play not 25% into the novel. Still, I had to give that cover and a YA retelling of the gothic classic Rebecca at least a second or third chance. And while I did manage to read all 368 pages, I have to say it was not a good use of time or effort. 

The thing is, Suspicion is pretty readable (if way off the claims in the summary. This is not half as fun or entertaining as the Princess Diaries or a third as creepy as Rebecca.) Even if a lot of the story is hard to believe or just ill-conceived, it makes for an easy read. But as you continue to read, you realize how flimsy a lot of the novel is. Not only is the mystery picked up and abandoned at will for a lackluster romance, but the stakes never feel real for poor Imogen-the-American-commoner. The gothic vibe the author tries to cultivate is also weak and makes for little atmosphere despite all the "mysteries" surrounding Imogen and her poor dead Duchess cousin.

The romance is... tepid. Weak. Ridiculous. It's pretty much the opposite of ship-able. It's unbelievable in all regards -- in that they love each other, or that he has loved her as long as he claims, or even that this really is love. Monir totally attempts to retcon half the story by the book's final page and tries to turn her characters' instalove into something more like soulmates. Not only does that not work with these two chemistry-less individuals but that's not even the worst part about how the story in Suspicion concludes. 

I just cannot with that ending, with the total ridiculousness that it was. Nope. No sir. No way, no how. This was never going to be higher than a 2 or a 2.5 for me but that ending served only to wreck any good there was to be had in Suspicion. Unfortunately, this is another cause of cover fraud because I finished this disappointed and less than impressed.

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