Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #118: character names for my future dog

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Characters
I'd Name A Dog After

I had so much fun with this topic! I always say that I need more pets to name because I there are so many awesome names out there, and some are hilarious. For example, my 10lb toy fox terrier's registered name is Bella the Beast. These are ten character names I'm keeping on my list for my next puppy!

Darkling, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Captain Hook, Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum
Kestrel, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Morph the Moth, Unhinged by A.G. Howard
Lada the Impaler, And I Darken by Kiersten White

Rhys, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Serafina, Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Varen, Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Wen, Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Monday, October 17, 2016

ARC Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Title: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 608
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from ALA in exchange for an honest review//

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

I read an advance copy of Illuminae last year and totally loved it! I could not wait to get my hands on Gemina and when I found it at ALA over the summer I was SO excited! Gemina is told in the same unique format as Illuminae, which I was really looking forward to. It also did a lot of other things the same as Illuminae, which I didn't love so much.

Gemina introduces two new main characters - Hanna, the captain's daughter, and her drug dealer, Nik. Hanna was a great character, strong and fully capable of handling herself. There were times when I wondered why a spoiled captain's daughter would know so much about certain things and she seemed a little too knowledgable at times. Her backstory mostly explained these things, thankfully. Nik was also a fun character, although he seemed very similar to Ezra to me. One thing that I noticed throughout both books is that every person in this universe seems to have taken sarcasm classes at some point because almost everything they say is snarky. It is amusing though. The romance between Hanna and Nik was cute, but it just wasn't on the same level as Kady and Ezra.

The storyline of Gemina crosses paths with Illuminae, which was awesome! I was concerned about a second book not having the same main characters as the first, even though it worked for the Starbound Trilogy. The big bad was also really different. Instead of a terrifying zombie virus, this time we have some kind of weird space worm parasite thing. While kind of scary in concept, it didn't end up packing the same punch as the virus from Illuminae. I did think the invasion of the ship by unknown troops was really well done, though. Like with Illuminae, I never felt like I knew exactly what was going on until the end. I love to be kept guessing!

Unfortunately, the rest of the story was quite predictable. I was really disappointed to see that Gemina used many of the same tricks as the first book in the series. There were several times when something happened that was supposed to make me sad or anxious where I didn't have much of reaction at all because I already knew what was going to happen (and I was correct). I'm sorry to say that most of the big reveals were extremely predictable because they followed a pattern very similar to Illuminae.

That isn't to say the book was a total loss though! World building is definitely where this series excels. The format that the book is written in makes it extremely easy to feel like part of the world and it's really easy to picture the ship that the characters are running around. I'm sure it'll be much better once the final art is included too!

Overall I liked Gemina but it did not blow me away like Illuminae did, mostly because it felt much to similar. I did enjoy some of the new characters and there were a few reveals that did surprise me. I also loved being immersed back in the world the authors created. I will definitely still read the next book to see how it all wraps up, but I'll probably go in with lower expectations next time.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Weekly Recap: 10/9 - 10/15

Happenings Off the Blog...

This week was pretty busy leading up to family visiting. I had a little time to read, which was great! I also got a few new ones to add to the ever-growing TBR. On Thursday evening my in-laws arrived to spend a little over a week with us. We went to Disney Springs on Friday and checked out some shops and then on Saturday everyone went to the beach while I stayed home with the kids (read: dogs)! Today we're going to Hollywood Studios to spend the day and it will be my niece's first time at Disney World, so we're really excited!

I'll still have some time to check up on the blogs and finish some others over the next week but it might take me just a little while longer than normal. I have some posts ready to go up for the week so it won't be totally bare around here!

New Books


For review:

In Case You Missed It

Monday book review of Uprooted
The topic was books recommended to me for Top Ten Tuesday
On Thursday I discussed men vs. women in YA

This Week I Read

Upcoming Review

I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Read more »

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Women vs. Men in YA Fiction

Today I want to talk about a topic that I've been thinking about a lot for the last few months. A while back there were a lot of posts floating around the interwebs discussing the discrepancies between men and women authors in the young adult world. I saw people talking about how men have better representation, more best sellers, etc. and found it really curious. If this is true, how does this translate to the books we read? Do people actually read more male than female authors in YA? 

You're walking through your local bookstore and approach the young adult section. There are a couple endcaps or tables full of popular YA books. They probably look something like this:

If you're familiar with YA authors, you'll recognize that the majority of the books on this table are written by women, with a few male authors sprinkled in. Whether you're looking through the books on the endcap at B&N, browsing interviews on Goodreads, or checking out the Time top 100 teen books of all time, this seems to be the way things play out.

To gain a little more insight, I decided to take to Twitter to see what YA readers tend to read more and the results were overwhelmingly on the side of female authors.

Okay, sure, there were only 34 votes. But this was the result I expected to see based on the readers I interact with regularly. 

To round out my super scientific investigation I headed over to the NYT bestseller list to see what the last couple months looked like. Last week, 9 out of 10 bestsellers in the YA hardcover category were by women authors. In the two weeks before that, all 10 were by women! At least in the YA hardcover category, women clearly dominate. 

So now I'm curious. Do men really get better representation in YA? Do they generally get paid more? Either way, though, it definitely seems like more women authors become insanely popular, hanging out on the bestseller lists (and in the fandoms' hearts) for basically ever.

Are there more men or women on your bookshelves?
(My answer: There are 11 men represented between my four bookshelves.)
Let me know in the comments!
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday #117: books I was told to read

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books I Read
Because People Told Me To

What I learned about myself this week: I don't actually read a whole lot of books based on recommendations from others. I tend to read what I feel like based on what's coming out and what sounds good at the time. That being said, these are the top ten that I DID pick up because other people suggested them!

Angelfall by Susan Ee
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Jackaby by William Ritter
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Talon by Julie Kagawa
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
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Monday, October 10, 2016

Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Del Rey

Pages: 438
Add to Goodreads

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I am a sucker for a good fairytale retelling! Beauty and the Beast happens to be my favorite of all time, so Uprooted has been on my TBR for awhile. Recently, when I was in a reading slump following Sleeping Giants, Uprooted was pitched to me as "Cruel Beauty but good." Since I loved Cruel Beauty I expected to be totally blown away by Uprooted! I had heard that the language was dense and sometimes hard to pick through, but I dove in fully prepared to fight my way to the end if needed.

I think it's important to point out that the synopsis of Uprooted tells the reader approximately 1/10th of what actually happens. Usually I can get a good feeling for what a book will be about based on the blurb. Not so here! The story begins when Agnieszka is (shockingly) chosen by the Dragon (who isn't a dragon) to live in his tower for ten years. She goes with him and finds that she will basically be his servant for the duration of her time there, while also dabbling in magic. Agnieszka at first finds the Dragon (also known as Sarkan) to be a jerk, but slowly discovers that there's more to him than meets the eye. This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, after all.

I liked Agnieszka for the most part. There were times when she ran off and did really stupid things without much reason, and I do have a hard time with dumb characters. I do think her heart was in the right place, though, and that she made the best of difficult situations. I can't say the same for the Dragon. Sarkan is the kind of snarky, arrogant, rude male character that women love for some reason. I'll admit, I like a confident, sarcastic love interest as much as the next person, but Sarkan didn't do it for me. This kind of character also has to have endearing qualities and I didn't really see that with the Dragon.

The romance was weird. Sarkan was pretty much rude to Agnieszka 95% of the time and called her names regularly. When the romance actually did appear it came from out of nowhere and didn't seem to have much bearing on the story, almost as if it was an afterthought.

By the way, they weren't kidding when they said Uprooted was dense. This book somehow moved incredibly fast while also taking forever to push through. It took me a full ten days to decipher everything that happened in Agnieszka's story. There were descriptions of descriptions and the story suffered from way too much detail in one area while there was no detail in others.

It felt as if this story was meant to be two or even three books. There was not nearly enough time for Sarkan and Agnieszka to get to know each other. Their time in the tower before the real threat came was over so quickly that I almost felt like I missed it! This really should have been the first book a the series... The threat of the woods was told in such a way that it was terribly creepy, but again it was there and over too fast. There was also a bit in between these two main plots that felt quickly thrown together as a way to connect the two. It just didn't work for me. The ending was also incredibly abrupt.

I wanted to love Uprooted so much! This story was supposed to be the best Beauty and the Beast retelling (complete with creepy evil woods) I'd ever read. At the end of the day, it was a decent retelling with way too much going on in way too small a word count. I feel like Uprooted could have been fantastic had it been given more time to come together. As it was, it never reached its full potential, in my opinion. I'm sad to say this book was all hype and not a lot of (or maybe too much?) substance.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Weekly Recap: 10/2 - 10/8

Happenings Off the Blog...

Wow, what a week! Monday started off slow with some work and some hanging out around the house. My husband and I are preparing for our family to visit for 9 days, so we actually do have a lot to get ready for! All of that had to be put on hold halfway through the week as we started preparing for Hurricane Matthew, which was expected to be devastating even in Orlando. After moving the patio furniture inside and stocking up on water, we hunkered down and waited. We did feel a lot of wind and there was quite a bit of rain, but there weren't much hurricane effects where we live (thank goodness).

After the hurricane it was just a lot of waiting. There was a mandatory curfew put into effect for Orlando, punishable by a fine(!), so we had to hang out inside for the majority of Friday. Even after the curfew was lifted we weren't comfortable driving, so we finished watching American Horror Story Hotel! I made some progress on Gemina so yay for that! On Saturday we went out to Islands of Adventure for a couple hours and tried the new Kong ride. The weather was great by that point. Now my family in North Carolina is facing a huge flood threat so I'm hoping they're all okay! I hope everyone else out there is safe too!

New Books


For review:

In Case You Missed It

Monday ARC review of Beast
The topic was my favorite villains for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I posted link-ups for the horror & dystopia challenges
I featured Flame In the Mist for Waiting on Wednesday
On Friday I shared survival books to make you feel ready for anything

This Week I Read

Upcoming Review

I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Read more »