Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday | Authors on My Auto-Buy List


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and features lists on different bookish topics. Today's category:

Authors on My Auto-Buy List

I love having an "auto-read" list. I am one of those people who really hates spoilers, to the extent that I actually shunned the interned for a week before the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so if I can just glance at the author and go, "Yup, I want to read that" without even looking at the blurb, that's perfect. I'm pretty sure that's the case for way more authors than these, but here's ten.

Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels, The Edge)
It's been a while since I raved about Ilona Andrews, so for the newbies: I would buy Ilona Andrews' books if they published a treatise on conjunctivitis. That's how much I love their writing. Want a sample? They're publishing a free serial on their website.

Guy Gavriel Kay (Tigana, The Fionavar Tapestry, Under Heaven)
Weirdly, while it would be really difficult for me to choose a favorite author, I can tell you with some confidence that The Lions of Al-Rassan is my favorite book. By sheer coincidence, GGK has a new book, River of Stars, coming out in April, and I can't wait to read it.

Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files, Codex Alera)
Reading Jim Butcher's books is always a pleasure. He's creative, can keep hold of numerous plot threads at once, and has moments of absolute hilarity.

Robin McKinley (The Blue Sword, Beauty, Spindle's End)
Robin McKinley has a unique, rambling writing style that really appeals to me. Sunshine and The Hero and the Crown are two of my big comfort reads.

Maggie Stiefvater (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, The Scorpio RacesThe Raven Cycle)
Like Guy Gavriel Kay, Maggie Stiefvater has a gorgeously lyrical style that I love. Plus she's hilarious, and her books are all amazing.

Seanan McGuire (October Daye, the Newsflesh trilogy, InCryptid)
I'll admit I wasn't won over by Rosemary and Rue, but after reading all of Seanan McGuire's books (under her own name and as Mira Grant), I have to say, I love her world-building and characters. If you haven't read any of her books, you should.

Melina Marchetta (Jellicoe Road, Saving Francesca, The Lumatere Chronicles)
Melina Marchetta's characters seem so real that other books pale in comparison. I can't wait to read Quintana of Charyn in April.

Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, The Way of Kings, Elantris)
If I had to choose the top ten worlds I've read (which, okay, I've actually done), at least three of them would probably be Brandon Sanderson's. Not only are his worlds incredibly creative, but they're also populated with great characters and brilliant stories.

Scott Lynch (Gentleman Bastard)
Scott Lynch is definitely one of my favorites. His books are dark and dangerous and absolutely hilarious. Plus, who wouldn't want to read about thieves and con artists and pirates?

Jennifer Fallon (the Demon Child trilogy, Second Sons, Tide Lords)
Jennifer Fallon just writes all-around good books. They're exactly the kind of epic fantasy I love.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bite-Sized Reviews

In which I notice that, hmmm, I have several books that I meant to review but then I got distracted by new and shiny other books. Life is hard...


Working Stiff by Rachel Caine
Revivalist #1
3 stars

Working Stiff is a dark and interesting take on zombies filled with moral ambiguities and layered characters. While a bit slow in places, it definitely has the potential to become an excellent series. Recommended for fans of My Life as a White Trash Zombie and Unholy Magic -- imagine it as somewhere between the two.



The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Crosspointe #1
3 stars

The Cipher gets off to a promising start, and, after stalling a bit in the middle, delivers a solid finish. While the book is a little overly focused on what seems like a strange romance, overall the unusual magic system and the last third or so of the book manage to make up for it. Recommended for fans of Holly Lisle and possibly Kate Elliot.


Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells
Sabina Kane #1
3 stars

Red-Headed Stepchild doesn't do much to stand out from the urban fantasy crowd, but it is an enjoyable read, though Sabina can be annoying at times. Recommended for anyone who's craving more urban fantasy and doesn't need anything particularly new.


Mister Monday by Garth Nix
Keys to the Kingdom #1
3 stars

I find that Garth Nix's works generally have excellent, unique magic systems but fail to live up to their world-building prowess in the storytelling department. Like Nix's other books, Mister Monday has a fascinating world, but the story doesn't really capture the reader's attention until the last third or so. That's not to say the writing is bad -- it's not -- but somehow I always expect the writing to be as compelling as the world. Recommended for fans of The Graveyard Book and a less funny Percy Jackson and the Olympians.


Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout
3 stars

In an almost exact reversal of Garth Nix's strengths, Jennifer L. Armentrout is a captivating writer who doesn't seem to publish anything really original. Like her other works, Cursed is nothing you haven't seen before, but the addictive quality of JLA's writing carries it towards the front of the YA line. Recommended for fans of the usual YA paranormal suspects.




I guess it's no wonder I wasn't in much of a hurry to publish these -- they were all good but not really excellent. I could, however, easily see other readers very much enjoying any of them, depending on tastes, so if one sounds interesting, definitely give it a try. All of them are also the first in their series, so they might be worth trying anyway; the best books often come later.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chocolate from the Cloud


Some of this is a bit old, but still interesting:

 •Controversy over Amazon's review policies (The Guardian)
•An infographic about who reads ebooks (Book Patrol)
•Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy picked up for TV by Fox (Publishers Weekly)
J.J. Abrams is likely to direct Star Wars: Episode VII (Variety)
Winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards announced (Publishers Weekly)
•Amazon plans to put advertisements on Kindle devices (The Bookseller)
•Neil Gaiman releases a free collection of short stories and is asking for readers to help illustrate them

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Favorites | Movies

Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Movies


The Dark Knight – epic awesomeness


Gladiator – best movie ever


A Knight's Tale – kind of cheesy, but the soundtrack definitely makes the movie


The Princess Bride – anybody want a peanut?


Mulan – "I've got a name! And it's a boy's name, too."


Star Wars: Episode V – best of the trilogy


Inception – just a really cool idea


Pirates of the Caribbean – yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to leave a link below. What are your favorite movies?

Join us next week to share your favorite desserts.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Review | The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

The Indigo Spell
Richelle Mead
Bloodlines #3
Published 12 Feb 2013
YA urban fantasy
4.5 stars

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

Bite-Sized Review
The Indigo Spell is a spectacular continuation of Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy spinoff, with enough suspense, action, and romance to make any reader happy.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-The balance and pacing in this book are just about perfect. There are several different stories going on at the same time, and all of them are both important and interesting. Because the plotlines cover the Alchemists, magic, and Sydney and Adrian's relationship, there's really an excellent balance of suspense and romance.

-Sydney and Adrian are a brilliant couple. At the beginning of this series, I actually wasn't sure about their relationship, but they are astonishingly good for one another. Richelle Mead has done a great job building their relationship.

-Let's not forget about the secondary characters. Jill, Eddie, Angeline, Trey, Ms. Terwelliger, and all the others have interesting, complementary personalities. The Amberwood "family" has grown so much over the series. Of course they can be annoying sometimes, but then, so can any family.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-Having to wait until November for The Fiery Heart!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Favorites | Cities

Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Cities you've visited

I love visiting new places and seeing the sights. Every city has its own personality and its own culture. I'd really love to travel even more, and I hope I'll be able to soon. But for now, here are the best cities I've lived in or visited.


Washington, DC

Most people scoff at DC for its crime, politicians, lack of fashion, mediocre food scene, etc, but I love it. For some unknown reason (ask five DC residents and you will probably get six different theories), buildings in DC are required to be below a certain height. I think they have to be shorter than the Washington Monument, or maybe the statue at the top of the National Cathedral. Anyway, the result is still a city with all of the normal city stuff, but because of the lack of skyscrapers and the many trees and parks, it feels more comfortable than most cities. Plus there's the huge number of different cultures, the happy hours, the free museums, the casually walking by the White House, the Library of Congress...I could go on and on.


Berlin, Germany

Berlin was my study abroad experience and I absolutely loved it. It's even more full of green things than DC -- Germans are really big on the environment -- there's a ton to do, and there is so much history there. I would really love to go back!


Austin, Texas

Unlike most of the other cities on this list, I have never lived in Austin; I just visited for a few days. But it was so unique and interesting that I loved it. Of course it's possible that my experience is slightly colored by the fact that I got to visit a horse ranch and ride a horse and see the foals.


Dublin, Ireland

Okay, I have also never lived in Dublin. But it is really an amazing city that I fell in love with at first sight. Maybe it's my fascination with Irish mythology, but I absolutely adored this city.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Until I was ten, I lived in a small town outside Philadelphia, so I visited the city many times. I won't say that I got a real feel for it (I was way too young for that!) but I really liked the atmosphere and the history.

That's it for this week! Thanks for stopping by. What are your favorite cities?

Don't forget to post your link in the linky below, and be sure to join in next week to share your favorite movies!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Review | Unravel Me by Taherah Mafi

Unravel Me
Taherah Mafi
Shatter Me #2
Published 5 Feb 2013 by HarperCollins
YA post-apocalyptic
4 stars

tick
tick
tick
tick
tick

it's almost

time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

Bite-Sized Review
Once again, Taherah Mafi's spectacular writing makes a fairly standard YA dystopian stand out from the rest. With exciting reveals and plenty of action, Unravel Me will appeal to any fan of Shatter Me.

Chocolate (things I liked)
-I happened to glance at my review for Shatter Me after reading Unravel Me, and I saw this:

The contrast between Warner and Adam was spectacular. They were really mirror images of each other, and seeing their interactions with Juliette and each other was fascinating. Warner was an excellent villain; his motivations and actions were completely understandable, while Adam made a great hero. Normally I don't like love triangles, but this one is a little different – for one thing, Juliette doesn't love Warner, and for another, Adam and Warner balance each other so perfectly that this is just another aspect of their duality.

and I wanted to go back in time and say to my past self, "Kate-of-2012, you have no idea." Everything just gets more complicated in this book, and once the shock wears off, somehow Taherah Mafi makes it all seem inevitable rather than contrived.

-Mafi is one of the best writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Her imagery is nothing short of brilliant, and her creativity really makes this series stand out from the rest. There's not quite as much of the crossing-out and repetition in this book -- I know some people weren't fans -- which makes sense because Juliette's situation is more stable. Ish. It's really amazing how much the writing changes with Juliette's state of mind; when she's feeling off-balance, that's when the "crazy" writing comes back. It's incredible how well the writing fits Juliette's character.

-I wasn't a huge fan of Juliette and Adam's relationship in the first book. I thought Juliette was far more dependent on Adam than any healthy person should be. So I'm happy that she does grow and learn to interact with other people normally in this book. She still has a long way to go, but she makes progress.

Brussels Sprouts (things I didn't like)
-Angst is a little overly prevalent in this book. Juliette could do so much, if she would just stop freaking out every eleven seconds. Obviously she's not going to go from no-experience-of-normal-human-interaction to fine right away, but as a couple of characters pointed out to her, of course everything seems terrible if she's thinking about it to the exclusion of anything else.

Recommended for
Anyone who enjoyed Shatter Me. Everyone else should read Shatter Me, and then Unravel Me will be recommended for you too.

Quality: Excellent
Enjoyability: Excellent

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Favorites | Actors

Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Actors (male and female)

Growing up, I never really knew who was in what movies or what specific actors looked like. I've gotten a lot better since then, but I'm still not as good as most people at identifying actors (or at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon). Even so, I have my favorites, as I'm sure most of you do too.


Jensen Ackles
You know him from: Supernatural
Jensen Ackles is both gorgeous and in one of my favorite shows, so of course he has to be on this list.



David Tennant
You know him from: Doctor Who
I love all the Doctors, but David Tennant is easily my favorite. Watching The End of Time always makes me cry.


Jennifer Lawrence
You know her from: The Hunger Games
I thought Jennifer Lawrence made an amazing Katniss, which made me very happy!


Russell Crowe
You know him from: Gladiator, Les Mis
Gladiator is my favorite movie in the world, so Russell Crowe was pretty much inevitable. Plus he was a brilliant Javert in Les Mis.


Maggie Smith
You know her from: Harry Potter, Downton Abbey
Maggie Smith is pretty much just awesome...do you really need more of an explanation?

I could probably think of more, but I'm feeling lazy so I'll stop now. Thanks for stopping by! Who are your favorite actors?

Don't forget to join us for next week's topic, cities you've visited!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Favorites | Food


Friday Favorites
<center><a href="http://neverbakeinblack.blogspot.com" title="Friday Favorites"><img src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-WAm7IZGciuM/UPbrLCsOYjI/AAAAAAAABok/BdR8CmA7OHk/s1600/FridayFavorites.jpg"></a></center>

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

We all talk a lot about books on our blogs, but what about other things we like? Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Epic (Chocolate) Fantasy that gives book bloggers a chance to gush about something other than novels.

To join in, grab the button code, write a post about your favorites for the category of the week, and post your link below. Thanks for participating!


This Friday's topic is:
Food (not desserts)

Even though it was Lolita's idea, not mine, this week's topic is the perfect excuse for me to reminisce about all the food I miss from the US now that I've been living in Korea for a month. And while I really like Korean food, there are definitely some things I would really, really like to be able to get.

Cheese


For whatever reason, Koreans don't really eat cheese, so the only kind they sell here is this really crappy, cellophane-wrapped "cheddar". I would seriously love some grilled cheese or pizza or just cheese and crackers right now.


Cheeseburgers


On a related note, cheeseburgers are delicious. Oddly, it's quite difficult to find a good burger anywhere I've been outside the US -- I'm told it has to do with whether the cows are grass-fed or corn-fed, and I stopped paying attention after that because who cares. The result is a dearth of burgers of the expected quality, which is always sad.


Bread


I love bread way more than is probably good for me. Bread fresh out of the oven is particularly amazing. Actually for this one, I don't miss the US; the country I've lived in that had the best, freshest bread was Germany. Mmmmm. I really miss having bakeries everywhere.


Tacos


I'm not actually sure most Koreans know what tacos are, but you know they're missing out. Tacos and beer is pretty much the perfect meal.

I think I'll just stop here because I'm getting really hungry. This may not have been the best idea in the world, since I'm far away from most of the foods I want! Oh well, I can always dream.

Thanks for participating! Be sure to join us for next week's category: actors (male and female).