Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TTT: Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

List by Danielle

This could be embarrassing, guys. I tend to be something of a hoarder, especially with books. The only time I ever send them away is if I end up with duplicates, which means I hold on to series I've outgrown. For the rest of eternity. I also steadfastly refuse to abandon a series in the middle unless it's really unforgivable. So all told, here are the authors I own the most books from. Please don't judge me too harshly.

1 (tie). Robert Jordan - 24 books 

Yes, they're all Wheel of Time. I have the entire series, minus TGH because my mom's scumbag ex STOLE IT MOST CRUELLY. And New Spring. And the two-part reissue of TEOTW with the new prologue. And two copies of the big white book. And the New Spring graphic novel. And the first five on audiobook. And EOTW in ebook because I couldn't find the paperback. 

It's not weird.

1 (tie). Tamora Pierce - 24 books

I've owned every single book Pierce has written in my life. Since I moved, I did have to downsize and only bring 21 of my favorites with me. (The other 3 are ebooks, which luckily don't take up room.) She is undeniably my favorite author of all time. 

3. Brandon Sanderson - 23 books

If you count the three WoT books for both Sanderson and Jordan, Sanderson does technically have more, but I'm only going with his original works for this list. (7 physical copies, 8 ebooks, and 8 audiobooks.) #SandersonArmy

4. Charlaine Harris - 14 books

You might not know it by looking at my bookshelves, because the first 9.5 are ebooks, but I have the entire Sookie series, (minus the last book). And I picked up one of her mysteries at a library sale. And one of her short story collections. I don't even like Harris anymore, but I'm compelled!

5. Patricia Wrede - 13 books

Most of my Enchanted Forest copies seem to have wandered away, but I still have the Lyra and Cecilia and Kate series on my "childhood favorites" shelf. Shame about the Frontier Magic series or I'd still be collecting her catalog.

6. George RR Martin - 11 books

First three in hilariously beat up paperbacks, Feast and Dance in hardcover, GoT in ebook, Warriors and Dangerous Woman, and three graphic novels. Not bad for a five book series.

7. Terry Goodkind - 10 books

I was young and dumb. I do still like Wizard's First Rule, but the rest? There's a reason there were 9 copies of Chainfire at our used bookstore.

8. Courtney Milan - 9 books

That reminds me, she just rereleased her first three books and I need to go pick those up. Best romance novels in the world.

9. Gail Carriger - 8 books

Another author I love and have everything by. Since I bought the first three Parasol Protectorate as an ebook bundle, I've been totally hooked.

10. Phillipa Gregory - 6 books

This is another author that I like, but don't love, that I would have kept buying forever if I hadn't HATED The White Queen. But I know, if she ever goes back to Tudor fiction, I'll be right back in line.

Bonus: Terry Pratchett - 44 books

My husband's obsession with Sir Terry is out of control. I have entire bookshelves devoted to Discworld. I ship copies in from England JUST FOR DISPLAY. He listened to the books on tape, then the books on CD, until they wore out. (Thank you Audible.) I'm pretty sure someday I'll be arrested for killing him, because he's going to end up in L-Space in my dinning room.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Jessie's Book Haul!

So it's been quite a while for me. I fell into a reading/blogging slump and then had some personal issues that kept me from being online much of the last two weeks. I thought a book haul would be a great way to ease myself back into the blogging arena.

Here are a few books I was sent for review:

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente (Fairyland #3) - It's no secret that I adored the first two novels,s o I cannot wait to read the latest installment with September and her wyvery.

Inamorata by Megan Chance -- historical fiction, exile, Venice, secrets. All things I love so I am obviously VERY excited about this book tour. 

Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas (Dangerous #2) -- the first was twisty, ctrazy fun and never got the reception it deserved. I have high hopes for this sequel, especially based on my friends' enthusastic responses.

Thank you Macmillan, Abigail Haas, and TLC Book Tours!

Here are a couple I won from a Twitter giveaway:

The City's Son and The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock  -- (The Skyscraper Throne #1 and #2) -- I've already read and loved the first but hadn't owned a copy. Plus a chance to continue this staggeringly originals series is hard to resist.

Thanks to Tom Pollock himself for the giveaway.

And now the books I bought myself/were bought for me:

Conversion by Katherine Howe - interesting reviews and the premise caught my attention.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern -- I love this book. This is my second copy because I cannot resist the gorgeousness of the paperback. I will probably buy even more versions as I find them.

Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne (Midnight Thief #1) -- synopsis heaven for me, really. The reviews have been mixed but I knew I had to try this one.

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith -- so Gaby recommended this author to me and I inhaled The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight in under three hours. So buying this was a must.

And all these were gifts from my lovely fiance who spoils me terribly:

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale (Books of Bayern #2) -- I am a sucker for these illustrated covers, especially over the more generic one I have seen for the series.


but anyway. 

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima  (Seven Realms #1) -- Ellis demanded it. Ellis recommended it. That's enough for me.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Shipbreaker #1) -- Lots of recommendations and awards. I've had my eye on it for years but I found a copy for $4.49 and could not resist.

What's Left of Me and Once We Were by Kat Zhang (The Hybrid Chronicles #1 and #2) -- I had read both these as ARCs so finding hardcovers for $9 was a great steal.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking #2) -- so I found this gorgeous hardcover for $7, even though I own it and the first on my Nook. That said, I will now collect the series in hardcover.  MANCHEE.

aaaaaaaaaaaaaand this bit of perfection (with bonus Jessie-in-a-prom-dress):


aaaaaaand it was only $17.Half-Price Books is a magical place, kiddies.

So those are my new reads and I can't wait to dive in.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Madame Tussaud's Apprentice by Kathleen Benner Duble

Title: Madame Tussaud's Apprentice: An Untold Story of Love in the French Revolution
Author: Kathleen Benner Duble
Genre: historical fiction
Series: none
Pages: 224
Published: Expected August 1, 2014
Source: publisher via edelweiss
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

In 1789, with the starving French people on the brink of revolution, orphaned Celie Rosseau, an amazing artist and a very clever thief, runs wild with her protector, Algernon, trying to join the idealistic freedom fighters of Paris. But when she is caught stealing from none other than the king's brother and the lady from the waxworks, Celie must use her drawing talent to buy her own freedom or die for her crimes. Forced to work for Madame Tussaud inside the opulent walls that surround Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Celie is shocked to find that the very people she imagined to be monsters actually treat her with kindness. But the thunder of revolution still rolls outside the gates, and Celie is torn between the cause of the poor and the safety of the rich. When the moment of truth arrives, will she turn on Madame Tussaud or betray the boy she loves? From the hidden garrets of the starving poor to the jeweled halls of Versailles, "Madame Tussaud's Apprentice" is a sweeping story of danger, intrigue, and young love, set against one of the most dramatic moments in history.

Reviewed by Danielle

A moderately engaging look at the French Revolution that suffers from one of the worst romances in recent memory.

Celie Rousseau is a homeless orphan, living in the back alleys of Paris with her savior, Algernon, a boy with revolutionary dreams. They steal from the rich, through a combination of housebreaking and rigged card games, and are feeling quite proud of themselves for it. Until a fellow thief botches his take and theirs, ending with Celie imprisoned, where one of the victims demands that she draw the other criminals to spare her own life.

Celie is a world class artist with an eidetic memory, which is WAY lucky for Marie "Manon" Tussaud (*cough*Grosholtz*cough*,) since she just so happens to need an apprentice to draw the backdrops to her wax figures! The other victim, the evil Comte d'Artois, wants her hanged regardless of skill, but Manon argues for Celie. They agree to a thousand livre bet that Manon can't tame Celie's wild spirit, and the girl is remanded.

Of course, Celie immediately flings herself into the mud and dirties the Comte’s carriage to show just how little she respects royal authority.

From her time spent with Manon and working with Elizabeth at Versailles, Celie starts to realize that maybe the upper class doesn’t have the freedom she suspected. I have almost no problems with this section of the book. The characterizations of Louis and Marie are pretty non-existent, I would have liked any sort of interaction between them and the main characters, but otherwise it’s a nice but unmemorable historical fiction told from an outsider point of view.

And then there’s the goddamn romance.

Algernon is an asshole. He uses Celie for her drawing skills, rejects her advances to become more than friends, then plays the jealous lover when she starts to find friends and family of her own. He constantly berates her for her disloyalty, but never shows himself to be loyal to her. He’s abusive, manipulative slime and when it comes time for the big confrontation, the book has the audacity to play the victim card and let him wiggle out of everything he’s done.

If the worst thing about this novel was the sheer convenience of a street urchin with an eidetic memory and the world’s greatest art skills, I’d probably call it good and recommend it as a short, fun historical romp. But I can’t, because I hate this book. Every quibble is magnified into full blooded hate due to Algernon’s stupid stupidness. I hate the ending and the naivete of thinking revolution can be bloodless. I hate that Marie Tussaud, (*cough*Grosholtz*cough*,) is barely in the book but she and Celie become inseparable mother and daughter any way. I hate the kiss and the final scene on the deck and last minute character changes. There have been a lot of novels written about the French Revolution. Read them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review Take Two: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Title: The Girl with All the Gifts
Author: M.R. Carey
Genre: horror, dystopia
Series: none
Pages: 460
Published: June 6, 2014
Source: publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 5 out of 5


Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

Reviewed by Danielle

Have you ever read a book and knew, knew it would change you, irrevocably, before the end of the first chapter? It’s a rare and powerful thing to behold, but by the time Melanie said she wouldn’t bite, I knew I would never be able to forget her or The Girl With All The Gifts.

I want my readers to do me a favor. I’m going to keep this review vague, but this is the kind of book where everything is a potential spoiler. So don’t read this review. Instead, run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore and buy the book. Read this book, regardless of your usual preferences. I don’t read horror books. I don’t read thrillers. I don’t read zombie books. This is a five star, genre-defying experience.

Go now.
If you still need convincing, the writing is stupendous. Carey’s word choices sing. I’ve never highlighted so many passages in a non-fiction book, because I never want to forget lines like:

If the lad had killed the junkers himself, gutted them and made balloon animals out of their colons, Parks would still have done his best to put a positive spin on it.
It’s not that he’s the first writer to describe guts as balloon animals, but I’m awed by how descriptive one little sentence is and what it says of Sergeant Parks. And then there’s our first good glimpse of the villain:

Thin grey strings like shoelaces - hundreds of them - have exploded from the rat's body cavity and filled most of the interior space of the bottle, wrapped loosely around and around the little corpse as though the rat had decided to try to be an octopus and then hadn't known how to stop.

Take me now, I’m having a metaphorgasm.
But TGWATG isn’t just great writing, it asks a lot of deep, philosophical questions in an often overlooked genre. Who’s worse, the villain who’s totally up front about their villainy, the soldier who’s just following orders, or the teacher who raises a generation to think wrongly? At what point do the ends justify the means? Is it heroic or cowardice to become a martyr? There are no answers in the book, any more than there are answers in life, and I love it. Some of the characters’ decisions haunt me, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Speaking of characters, where else are you going to get a zombie novel where the scientist is the one obsessed with brains? More cleverness that slays me. The vast majority of the book is spent with a core group of five characters, each with individual verbal tics and thought patterns. They also change and grow through the book as sickness and fatigue beat them down, or revelations build them up.

TGWATG is amazing. It’s tense and scary while defying genre conventions. (But the baby carriage? There’s not enough “no” in the world.) It’s not perfect, though, and I wish some of the revelations in London had come earlier with more time to dwell on them. The scene with the shadows on the house felt derivative of Bradbury’s There Will Come Soft Rains, (though that could just be me.) An early plotline,the junkers chasing them was unresolved, and I wish it wasn’t. Still, I’m completely confident in giving The Girl With All the Gifts five stars and recommending it to horror, dystopian, sci-fi, or mythology fans or just people who can’t get enough of beautiful prose, like myself.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TTT: Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

List by Danielle

If I'm stuck on a deserted island, I'm going to need a lot of help. I'm probably the least outdoors-y person on this planet, not the least because I'm allergic to grass, mold, dust, pollen, and anything with fur. And I'm not much for the running or jumping or fishing or... Basically, if this was the Hunger Games, I'd find a way to die before my pod opened. So with that in mind, I've picked a top ten roster of dreamy book boys (and girls) who can support me in my time of need. My top ten characters I want with me on a deserted island?

  1. Finnick Odair: Deserted island means water. Water means Finnick. Did you SEE the man in Catching Fire? With the diving and the trident and the sugar cube? I need to cool down. 
  2. Akiva: DoGaM proved that a seraphim is an excellent thing to take on a camping trip. You never have to light a fire, they can fight and hunt, and then there's the whole magic thing. Which reminds me:
  3. Karou: Firstly, Karou and Akiva are a matched set, but more importantly, you never have to worry about death! Scuppies are pretty useless in Prague, but I bet I could find lots of uses for them in the wilderness. And there was that "house" on the beach at the end of DoGaM. <.<   >.>
    Our friend Gilly @ theartofyoungadult.tumblr.com is AMAZING
  4. Ismae: Not only is the star of Grave Mercy immune to poison, she can pass that immunity on to those around her. And she's the daughter of Death, which is something I'd really need on my side.
  5. Captain Thorne: We know the man can successfully navigate the Sahara Desert with Cress, so I have a lot of faith he could navigate a moderate sized island. He's resourceful and he'd at least have great stories. And he's like Flynn Rider mixed with a space pirate, so he can come sit next to me.
  6. Ignifex: He's a demon lord, but the real reason is my mammoth crush. Just being honest.
  7. Yukiko and Buruu: Nothing is getting into our camp with these two around, and Buruu's constant snark will keep spirits up!
  8. Veralidaine Sarrasri: A wild mage who can not only hunt and trap, but transform into animals, communicate with gods, and brings the cutest pet dragon in history? How could she get any better?
  9. Numair Salmalín: My first book boyfriend is one of the most powerful mages in the world, but completely down to earth and not above starting his own fires and sourcing his own food. AND HE AND DIANE ARE PERFECT AND I WANT TO BE WITH THEM AND BE THEIR FRIEND AND 
  10. Owen Wedgwood: Cinnamon and Gunpowder is all about Wedge making amazing gourmet food on deserted islands! Who else to round out our top ten?
Well readers, obviously food is the most important thing in my life, since it's all my list is built on. Are you smarter than me? Would you pick people who can fly you off this dratted island? People who know how to build shelter? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Tour Review: The Sweet Spot by Stephanie Evanovich

Title: The Sweet Spot
Author: Stephanie Evanovich
Genre: general fiction, romance novelish
Series: N/A
Pages: 272
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

When pro baseball player Chase Walker first meets Amanda at her restaurant, it’s love at first sight. While Amanda can’t help noticing the superstar with the Greek-god-build, he doesn’t have a chance of getting to first—or any other—base with her. A successful entrepreneur who’s built her business from scratch, Amanda doesn’t need a Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet. And a curvy girl who likes to cook and eat isn’t interested in being around the catty, stick-thin herd of females chasing Chase and his teammates.

But Chase isn’t about to strike out. A man who isn’t interested in playing the field, he’s a monogamist who wants an independent woman like Amanda. His hopes rally when she discovers that squeaky-clean Chase has a few sexy and very secret pre-game rituals that turn the smart, headstrong businesswoman on—and into his number one fan.

Then a tabloid discovers the truth and turns their spanking good fun into a late- night punch-line. Is Amanda ready to let loose and swing for the fences? Or will the pressure of Chase’s stardom force them to call it quits?

I can tell you why this book didn't click for me personally  -- it was the characters. Well, mainly one important character. It's a hard kind of novel to enjoy if you aren't a fan of the people directly involved with the plot and I was less than enthused with the male half of the equation. There's a lot to celebrate with Evanovich's second novel -- the body positive focus on Amanda, the female love interest, the relatively healthy family dynamics shown, the easy way you sink into the story -- but it fell apart for me with Chase, Amanda's counterpart.

Chase just isn't the kind of man or love interest I find attractive. He's overbearing and bossy, presumptuous and incredibly arrogant. Granted, Evanovich paints him in smaller strokes than that, but even for all the layers and virtues she gives Mr. Walker, I never liked him or cared about him. And once a reader is divorced from the central romance, it can all feel a bit silly and contrived. At least, that's how I feel about The Sweet Spot. It's a mostly innocuous, bubble gum-type read; one that will entertain for a few hours with its predictable but comfortable plot.

Granted my apathy for Chase won't be the only or expected reaction and my 3/5 is certainly indicative that there's more to like about the story than just Amanda's attitude and her family. It's a broadly entertaining novel, but it just doesn't do anything original enough to become a favorite for me. The characters grow and change, but I still lacked an emotional connection to any part of the story at the end. The Sweet Spot is what it is: a fluffy summer read. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Tour Review:The Queen's Exiles by Barbara Kyle

Title: The Queen's Exiles
Author: Barbara Kyle
Genre: historical fiction, romance novelish
Series: Thornleigh #6
Pages: 352
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 4/5

1572. Europe is in turmoil. In the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise ...

Scottish-born Fenella Doorn rules like a queen over a privateer's haven on the Isle of Sark. Her success at salvaging crippled vessels affords her gold and security, and it is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron—and privateer—Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him.

But Fenella’s own bold actions have put a price on her head. Now Adam and Fenella’s lives are in peril as they race across Europe in an attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the crown, and restore the peace that few can remember.

Though the fourth the in series and second Thornleigh novel for me, The Queen's Exiles was a much improved outing for me with this author. The characters and plots that surround Nella and Adam make for more engaged reading, and the romance that makes up the secondary plot is easy to care about and root for with those two involved. I thought the previous novel too concerned with a less-than-charismatic romance but found that far from the case here --- I cared more about the people involved and the romance was handled in a better way. Adam, Fenella, and even Frances make for an exciting and unpredictable story.

Fenella Doorn is a great character and carries whatever portion of the book she is involved with, personally, romantically, tangentially. She's a great complement for a lot of the mainly male cast (exception: Frances); she isn't a traditional female but nor is she an anachronism for the timeline of the story being told The life she has carved out as an independent woman in the 1500's is unconventional but not unbelievable. She's easy to like and respect, and her admiration for Adam is undeniable. It helps that Fenella feels like a new character, only recently introduced into the sprawling legacy and series. The other, more established characters feel weighted down by a history that you really need to read the earlier five novels to fully understand.

The strength of Adam's character is largely due on his devotion to his children, and his overall honor as a man. Everything else is second to him. And while The Queen's Exiles is often a romance as well as a drama, it never loses sight of the real plot or personal goals that motivate the individual characters. Love doesn't always conquer all, and not all endings are happy for the Thornleighs by the time the book is resolved. I loved that the author isn't afraid to be a bit cruel to her well-known and favorite characters -- shown not only by Adam and Fenella, but through the trials Isabel and Carlos face too. 

I wish that the politics angles had been more of a central plot as it was a fascinating time and place to be, or that the ending hadn't been quite so quick, but The Queen's Exiles is an engaging and often exciting historical romance. Well-rounded and well-drawn characters help to make the read personal and memorable.
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