Friday, November 28, 2014

Audiobook Reviews: Legion and Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Legion
Series: Legion #1
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: September 11, 2012 by Tor (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)

Synopsis: A novella from #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, Legion is a fast-paced, witty, and supremely fun thriller with a psychological bent. 

Stephen Leeds is perfectly sane. It’s his hallucinations who are mad. 

A genius of unrivaled aptitude, Stephen can learn any new skill, vocation, or art in a matter of hours. However, to contain all of this, his mind creates hallucinatory people—Stephen calls them aspects—to hold and manifest the information. Wherever he goes, he is joined by a team of imaginary experts to give advice, interpretation, and explanation. He uses them to solve problems…for a price. 

His brain is getting a little crowded, however, and the aspects have a tendency of taking on lives of their own. When a company hires him to recover stolen property—a camera that can allegedly take pictures of the past—Stephen finds himself in an adventure crossing oceans and fighting terrorists. What he discovers may upend the foundation of three major world religions—and, perhaps, give him a vital clue into the true nature of his aspects. 

I'm not usually a fan of short stories, I always feel like just when I'm starting to connect with the characters it ends, or the plot just doesn't have time to develop in a way that is creative and interesting. But those are two of the things that Brandon Sanderson does extremely well so I definitely had high hopes for this novella. And while I wasn't blown away by Legion in the way that I have been from his novels, it was a fantastic and interesting read.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this one was the plot. It was an exciting mystery with an action-packed globetrotting adventure. I'm a sucker for those kinds of books. I hate travel monologues but if your search for clues takes you to exotic locales, I'm all for it. And the mystery in this one was pretty amazing. I've become used to the "Sanderson ending" where even though there are clues along the way I'm still completely shocked by the big reveal or twist, and that is exactly what happened with Legion. It is the kind of book that I love in an audio format. It's full of action and adventure making it exciting and fun.

But part of that exciting plot was also an interesting and unique world. I'm not sure how to categorize Legion. I've heard it called Science Fiction but it's more like Low Fantasy to me, but it also has great elements of Mystery novels. It's the kind of book that I could see as a fantastic television show. Like a police procedural with a supernatural element. And that supernatural element was so unique. A man who isn't technically crazy who has different people who only he can see help him solve mysteries. It sounds confusing but Brandon Sanderson portrays this "magical system" with expert handling that makes it seem both unique and natural.

And with these "aspects" there are some interesting and likable characters to get to know. Leeds himself is a great protagonist. He's smart and resourceful but he is also far from perfect. He has his quirks and weakness that makes him fleshed-out in a short period of time. The handful of aspects that we got to know in this book were also really interesting. They all have their individual skills that help him figure things out and many of them are great comic relief, mentors, and even the voice of reason sometimes. The narrator of the audiobook did a great job of establishing who they were through their varying voices.

 I give Legion by Brandon Sanderson an 8.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! For a short story, Legion was an exciting and interesting ride. If you are a Sanderson fan or are just a fan of mysteries then check this one out. I would also definitely recommend this one to anyone who is a fan of shows like Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, maybe even Supernatural. For me it wasn't quite long enough but thankfully... THERE'S MORE!

Title: Legion: Skin Deep
Series: Legion #2
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: November 24, 2014 by Tor (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)

Synopsis: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, Stephen Leeds is back in a new, double-length novella that Library Journal says has "the pulse of a thriller and the hook of a fascinating hero balancing on the edge of psychosis." 

It's not his own genius that Stephen Leeds gets hired for. Clients want to tap into the imaginary experts that populate his mind—and it's getting a bit crowded in there. 

Now Stephen and his internal team of "aspects" have been hired to track down a stolen corpse—but it's not the corpse that's important, it's what the corpse knows. The biotechnology company he worked for believes he encoded top-secret information in his DNA before he died, and if it falls into the wrong hands, that will mean disaster. 

Meanwhile, Stephen's uneasy peace with his own hallucinations is beginning to fray at the edges, as he strives to understand how one of them could possibly have used Stephen's hand to shoot a real gun during the previous case. And some of those hallucinations think they know better than Stephen just how many aspects his mind should make room for. How long will he be able to hold himself together?

More is the watchword in this one. Like I said, I'm not usually a fan of short stories but if you put these two books together it definitely makes one good story. Just like the first novella, it was full of an interesting plot with a great mystery, complex characters, and an interesting world. It just had more of that!

Like the first book Legion: Skin Deep had an amazing and thrilling plot. This one kept things a little more centrally located, but it turned up the action. It felt much more like a thriller this time. Between the contract killer looking for Leeds and the hunt to find a missing body before they do, it felt much more exciting to read (well listen to). So much more exciting that I lost focus on everything else and ended up missing my exit on the highway. But maybe that was less about the action and more about the mystery. It was another slow build up of clues with a crazy mind-blowing reveal and twist and another great book to have experiences in the audio format.

The other great thing about Sanderson and this book in particular was the further exploration of this world. While I found the world that was created in the first book interesting and creative, here we got to explore it even more, making it completely fascinating. We get to meet more of the aspects, see how they work together, and even see how this affect Leeds. There were even some moments where we got to potentially learn who this people are and how they got there. It seemed much more like a Science Fiction novel this time. Plus as the synopsis says, things are fraying and Leeds is struggling to understand and hang on to things. It's definitely much more psychological this time.

Speaking of those aspects, the characters were amazing, just like the last book. We got to spend more time getting to know some of the favorites from the first book and even got to know a new character or two. And getting to know them better, we were able to see them in a more fleshed-out way making them more multi-faceted. Characters that seemed more like tropes in the first book become more complex. But Leeds was still a great main character for this story. I loved getting to know him better and be along for the ride while he solved yet another mystery.

I give Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy! Legion:Skin Deep is another fast and fun adventure. The sequel is twice as long an three times as mysterious. Just like the first book this is definitely worth it for Sanderson fans and mystery fans. Plus right now, it's free on audible. So go check it out!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ARC Review: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Title: Waistcoats & Weaponry
Series: Finishing School #3
Author: Gail Carriger
Published: November 4, 2014 by Little Brown
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Class is back in session... 

Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review in return. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

If you have been following my reviews of this series you will realize my one major comment about this book, this is a series that keeps getting better. The first book was good, the second book was better, but this one I really enjoyed. The world keeps growing, the characters keep developing, and the plot is becoming much more intricate and mysterious.

What has always struck me about this series is the world. This past year I have become such a fan of steampunk fantasies. The Victorian era has always been a favorite for Historical Fiction and with the addition of machinery and inventions things are all the more interesting. Gail Carriger does a great job of making things like dirigibles, robots, and other inventions seem perfectly normal and completely interesting at the same time. In this book we got to further expand the universe that this world inhabits. Most of the time was spent away from the school, putting what has been learned in previous books into practice.

Plus things are taking on a decidedly more political tone, especially when it comes to the supernatural creatures that inhabit this world. With the first books things were very narrow. We were only introduced to the three major groups within this series: vampires, werewolves, and Picklemen (these are not half men, half pickles. At least I think they're not). In the second book we got to learn more about vampires and their Picklmen and experience a little bit of the dichotomy between these progressive and conservative ideologies respectively. In Weapons & Waistcoats those ideologies came in direct competition. A competition that began early on but was hanging below the surface.  Plus we got to learn more about the werewolves in this book, which was extremely interesting.

However these two different explorations of the world led to a kind of muddled plot development. With the first few books in the series things were extremely narrow. So narrow that it felt like there was almost no plot development. Then in this book there was almost too much! It was like it was making up for lost time when it came to the larger plot of the book while also incorporating an individual storyline for this book. Or maybe this plot was also below the surface and it only come out in this book. Series love doing that, waiting till it's almost over and then telling you everything that they were keeping from you in the previous book. And with things coming to the surface, there was definitely a lot more big reveals in this book. We learned about what is going on within the larger world and really what is at stake. Little things from previous books that seemed unconnected got connected and there was much more mystery again.That being said, I love an exciting plot and this book definitely had a lot of excitment. It was probably the most thrilling of the three books so far and it definitely had the best pacing. Things built to a really exciting conclusion. A conclusion that left me with seriously unexpected feels!

But those feels may have been less about the plot and more about the characters. Since the very beginning I've loved these characters. They're quirky and fun but in this book they became a little bit more complex. With the expansion of the world, we are narrowing our focus on just a few characters. And while some favorites like Vieve and Professor Braithwope were sorely missed in this book, we got to know many of the other characters a lot better. Secondary characters like Dimity, Sidheag, Soap, and Felix had some great character development in this book. And so did Sophronia. For the first time I would say we got to see her in a more vulnerable place. A place where she wasn't entirely sure of herself, where she saw the consequences of her actions, and where she saw that not everything is how she wants it to be. Before this book she was put in difficult situations but this is the first time where she couldn't be the hero and it was kind of nice.

I've really enjoyed being along for the ride with this series. If you had asked me two books ago if I would be anxiously awaiting the conclusion to this series, I would have said probably not, but now I am hooked. I can't wait to see how it will all end. I'm also even more curious about checking out the Parasol Protectorate series now. In the mean time, maybe I will check that series out. I want to see how this world develops and to see what happens to some of these characters (I hear there are familiar faces).

I give Weapons and Waistcoats by Gail Carriger 8.5 out of 10.

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you enjoyed the first two books in this series then definitely add this one to your list, it just keeps getting better. If you are looking for a steampunk Young Adult series then check this one out. It has an interesting world, quirky characters, and gets better as it goes one. I would recommend it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Winter TBR

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I love that the prompt says it's a month early. Clearly you all don't live in a place where winter lasts six months out of the year. It's been winter for me since the start of the month! But I get that it's early for the schedule of when we talk about our reads for the season.

So as you all know, I do themed months. So here is a peak at my themes for the next three months and the books I am excited to read this winter.

December Theme - Science Fiction

1.) Firefight by Brandon Sanderson - Add to Goodreads
This one is in the mail! I'm part of a kind of ARC tour for this one and I'm so dying about it! Thanks to Mark for sharing the Sanderson! I loved Steelheart and can't wait to continue this series with amazing characters and this fantastic world where superheroes are villains!

2.) Zodiac by Romina Russell - Add to Goodreads
I've seen some mixed reviews on this book but I'm still very intrigued by the world and the concept of planets based on the zodiac. I got an ARC at BEA and it fits my theme for the month so I'm making it happen.

3.) This Shattered World by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - Add to Goodreads
These Broken Stars blew my mind and is one of my top books of the year. I got a bound manuscript of this one at BEA and I've had to hide it so I don't start it too early. Soon precious, soon!

4.) The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon - Add to Goodreads
I've mentioned this one a few times but I'm so excited to continue with this series. The world is so intriguing and I'm excited to explore more of this series version of an alternate future London. Plus the "magical system" is very cool. It's like Science Fantasy which I love and the characters are really interesting.

Backup Books: Dissonance by Erika O'Rourke and A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
(If anyone has recommendations between these two that would be appreciated)

January Theme- Mystery/Thriller

5.) There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake - Add to Goodreads
I got approved for this one on NetGalley and I'm pretty excited about it. I love a good unreliable narrator and well I mean, check the title out. Yes it's basically a travel book which you probably know I hate but it sounds mysterious and action-packed so I'm expecting to really enjoy it.

6.) The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black - Add to Goodreads
This is not a Mystery or a Thriller, it's Fantasy but it sounds mysterious and thrilling. I got an ARC at BEA and I've been waiting to read it closer to release day and I'm excited to make that happen in January. I've changed my tune of fae stories and I'm excited to read my first Holly Black.

7.) Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham - Add to Goodreads
This is the second Veronica Mars book and I flailed so hard when I was approved for it on NetGalley and realized it fit the theme for that month. I loved the first one and I hear this one has more Logan, so obviously it will be better!

February Theme - Retellings

8.) Beauty by Robin McKinley - Add to Goodreads
I picked a copy of this up at Half Price Books for a few bucks and after Jessie and Terri doing their Robin McKinley week I'm excited to read my first book by the author. Plus it fits my theme for February so I'm making this happen!

9.) Fairest by Marissa Meyer - Add to Goodreads
More Lunar Chronicles? Yes, please! I'm really excited to learn more about Queen Levana and maybe some of the other characters in turn (like Princess Selene and Winter). Not to mention that I love villain stories and Levana is definitely a compelling villain.

10.) The Marriage Game by Alison Weir - Add to Goodreads
This does not fit the theme, but I sort of realized that it's good to switch things up a little bit to not get bogged down in the theme. It's Historical Fiction about Elizabeth I but it sounds dramatic, tawdry, and full of political intrigue. This book has me written all over it!

What are you planning to read this winter? Are any of these books on your list? Have you read any of them? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers

I love these tag posts! I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to fit this one in but I'm kind of behind on my reading so bam! Here we go.

- Thank the blogger that nominated you, and link back to their site.
- Post the award’s logo onto your blog.
- Answer the 10 questions you’ve been asked.
- Nominate 10 other bloggers and ask them 10 questions.

I was nominated twice, so thank you to the lovely Brittany at Please Feed the Bookworm and Tracy at Cornerfolds. Both have fantastic blogs and are really

Answers to Britt's Questions
1.) If you could alter one storyline or ending what would it be? It can be anything you want!
So as to avoid spoilers, there is a moment in The Hero of Ages that I will never ever ever be over. I would change that ending.

2.) How many books have you read?
In my whole life? No idea. It's probably close to 1,000. Maybe more.

3.) If you could only read one book/series for the rest of you life, what would it be?
Harry Potter. There are seven books and they never get old, no matter how many times I read them.

4.) Would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
No, and I don't want to! If the zombie apocalypse comes I would much rather become a zombie than try and survive as long as possible. I don't even care if they eat me instead of turn me. I have no skills that would help me survive in any sort of apocalypse!

5.) How do you tell people you're a blogger?
I don't really. If I do I say "I have a book blog." But I'm pretty secretive about it.

6.) What's your latest and greatest ship?
Latest: Adelina and Enzo in The Young Elites. Greatest: Vin and Elend in Mistborn or Chubs and Vida in The Darkest Minds trilogy (they're my new fave OTP)

7.) Name the book you would give your left arm for?
A Court of Thorns and Roses, the final book in The Raven Cycle, and The Winds of Winter!

8.) Who is your favorite author?
I'm not really sure. J.K. Rowling? Gregory Maguire? Rainbow Rowell and Brandon Sanderson are probably the latest faves.

9.) Why did you start book blogging?
To be able to share my love of books with others and to talk about books with more people.

10.) Show me how GIFted you are - One gif that best describes you!

Answers to Tracy's Questions
1.) What is one book you won't admit to liking?
Probably Twilight. I was a fan of it when it was popular a few years back. I mean I had tons of issues with it, most notably Bella and Edward, but I liked it.

2.) Who is your top book boyfriend?
Seriously Tracy, asking the tough questions. Elends pretty high up there. And Levi in Fangirl. And Thorne in The Lunar Chronicles, and Snape in Harry Potter. I seriously love Snape!

3.) What is your most treasured book?
That is another really tough question. I have a copy of Eats Shoots and Leaves that my aunt gave me before she passed away. It always makes me think of her and it's pretty special.

4.) What is one movie that you think was better than the book?
Stardust. But that may be because I listened to the audio book version which was not very good. 

5.) Have you ever written a super embarrassing fanfic
Yes! I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction that I was too embarrassed to show anyone. I read some of it recently and it is hilariously bad! 

6.) Do you prefer character or plot-driven books?
Plot-driven. I need good characters but if the plot isn't top notch then I won't enjoy the book.

7.) What is your favorite social media outlet for blogging?
Twitter. I am a Twitter fiend.

8.) Does your family read your blog
Nope. I know they know about it but they don't really read it.

9.) How many books have you reviewed this year?
I have reviewed 97 but I am about to finish my 100th book.

10.) What is the best giveaway you've won as a blogger?
I recently won a giveaway from GReads that was for The Young Elites and the entire Legend trilogy. That was a pretty fantastic giveaway!

My Nominees
Violet at Paper Worlds and Swirls of Ink
Monique at Mo_Books
Stephanie at Her Reviews
Octavia and Shelley at Read. Sleep. Repeat.
Becca at Pivot Book Reviews
Jessie at Jessie Reads Everything
Melissa at Bookmark Dragon
Elizabeth at Book YAbber

My Questions
1.) What is a book that you tell people you'vr read even though you never finished it?
2.) What series do you wish you started years ago?
3.) Who is your favorite villain?
4.) What book in a trilogy do you typically like best?
5.) What is your favorite genre and your least favorite genre?
6.) How important is romance to you in the books you read?
7.) What are the 3 best books you have read so far this year?
8.) What book do you just hate with a fiery passion?
9.) If you were trapped on a desserted island, what dessert would your island be made of?
10.) What is your favorite thing about where you live

That's all she wrote! Thanks again to Britt and Tracy for nominating me. This was a lot of fun! My nominees should feel no pressure to do it. If you want to then go for it. And of course, thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stacking the Shelves - November 16-23

A weekly meme from Tynga's Reviews

So I don't do these very often. Mostly because I have been trying not to buy a lot of books for myself. But I did just splurge a little bit after a crazy week of work. And I figured, with the holidays coming up and being involved in two different gift exchanges with bloggers I figured I would fess up about the books I got this week. Plus, I got some really exciting books for review that I want to flail about. So here are all the books.


1.) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - Add to Goodreads
Austen is sometimes hit and miss for me but I'm really excited to check out her take on Gothic lit
2.) Beauty by Robin McKinley - Add to Goodreads
I've been loving Jessie and Terri's McKinley week so I picked up Beauty when I saw t it for a great price
3.) Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon - Add to Goodreads
Saw this beauty at Half Price Books in pristine condition. I love maps, legends and Chabon.
4.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer - Add to Goodreads
I mean I own a copy of this book but I saw a signed one at Book Outlet so, yeah, now I have that too.
5.) The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkowski - Add to Goodreads
Don't harass me for not having read this book. I bought it so I can read it very soon.
6.) Plus One by Elizabeth Fama - Add to Goodreads
This was not supposed to be for me but now it is. Don't ask questions.
7.) Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire - Add to Goodreads
I have a signed ARC of this book but I went to a signing with Maguire where he talked about this book so I had to but a copy.

For Review

1.) The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela McColl - Add to Goodreads
-You know when you hear about a book and you're like "THAT WAS WRITTEN FOR ME!" and you make Tina Belcher groaning noises cause you want it so bad. This book. 
2.) The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter- Add to Goodreads
An archivist starts piecing together a mystery that includes a girl who went missing 20 years ago when she was babysitting between an old estate and a Victorian asylum. Creepy? I hope so! 
3.) The Winter Family by Clifford Jackman - Add to Goodreads
Historical Fiction about a group of ruthless outlaws. The synopsis refers to it as "Western noir" so I'm on board.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Title: Curtsies and Conspiracies
Series: Finishing School #2
Author: Gail Carriger
Published: 2013 by Little Brown
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Does one need four fully grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully grown guests? 

Sophronia's first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has certainly been rousing! For one thing, finishing school is training her to be a spy--won't Mumsy be surprised? Furthermore, Sophronia got mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and had a cheese pie thrown at her in a most horrid display of poor manners.

Now, as she sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers' quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship's boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a field trip to London than is apparent at first. A conspiracy is afoot--one with dire implications for both supernaturals and humans. Sophronia must rely on her training to discover who is behind the dangerous plot-and survive the London Season with a full dance card.

In this sequel to New York Times bestselling Etiquette & Espionage, class is back in session with more petticoats and poison, tea trays and treason. Gail's distinctive voice, signature humor, and lush steampunk setting are sure to be the height of fashion this season.

**** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion of the book****

Curtsies and Conspiracies once again reminded me that I should wait to judge a series until the second book. While I did like the first book in Gail Carriger's Finishing School series, Etiquette & Espionage, I wasn't really blown away. And while I wasn't blown away by this book either, I found it greatly improved. Curtsies and Conspiracies took the compelling world and interesting characters from the first book and stepped up the plot to make the book much more mysterious and engaging.

In Etiquette & Espionage my favorite thing about the book was the world. I seriously have been really digging the steampunk settings lately. I love that it combines the historic setting with it's ideas and views of society and adds machinery and technology that actually seems and kind of is historically accurate. It's something new and inventive but rooted in history. This series is no exception. In this book we get to spend more time at the floating school, Miss Geraldine's, and learn not only how to be a lady but how to be a spy. It's such a fun and interesting concept, and one that I really enjoyed. And just like most sequels it expanded the world further. Here we got to explore what steampunk London is like, if only briefly. And that exploration of London also included and exploration of the larger society of the time. I'm not sure I would really say that it got more political but we did get to experience the liberal and conservative forces at play in this world, with our fair heroes right in the middle. It created an interesting dimension to the story and I'm sure these two varying forces will come into play as the series develops.

And the world in this book also veered more towards the supernatural. I haven't read the Parasol Protectorate, Carriger's adult series set in this world, so this may be repeat information for those who have read that series, but I really enjoyed learning more about the supernatural side of things. In this book we got to learn a lot more about the vampires who inhabit this steampunk London. What I loved about this is that we got to see and experience vampire society. It wasn't just about how the lore, how vampires are created and who they are, it was about their hierarchy. It was about their strengths but also their weaknesses. It was detailed and interesting, and I loved being able to learn all about them in Curtsies & Conspiracies.

But the real charm of this series is in the characters. The quirky and fun characters. Our main character Sophronia is back and up to her old tricks. She's your typical strong female protagonist, intelligent and brave but rash and rebellious so that it gets her into trouble. She's also too smart for her own good sometimes. But all of this leads to some fun and exciting situations. There are also some great secondary characters and in this book, with the expansion of the world we got a lot more new and interesting characters that I am hoping will come back in later books in the series. And while I still found the oddities of the characters names annoying, in this book it became more laughable and less frustrating. Sure, I'm supposed to be an adult but I can't help it but laugh at names like Professor Shrimpdittle and Lord Dingleproops. I'm sure a teenager while be giggling away at them just like I do.

The best development in this book, however, was with the plot. In the first book I found myself waiting for things to get interesting but here it was interesting almost immediately, and I think that was because of the emphasis on the mystery within the book. Things got much more intricate when it came to the plot development. There was more to figure out, more clues to search for, and more little things becoming big as the book developed. It felt like things were slowly developing to an exciting conclusion and there was still plenty of exciting moments to keep me reading. That being said, I still did have some issues with the pacing. Even though it developed well, it didn't really seem to flow any better. Some moments we got to extremely quickly while others took quite awhile to reach. It felt much more like a series of moments rather than a cohesively developed story.

This book was a fun and interesting second book in a series full of an inventive world and quirky characters and a much more developed plot full of mystery and action.

I give Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger an 8 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. If you're a fan of steampunk YA or looking for something fun and different within the fantasy genre than pick this series up the next time you're at the library.

Have you read Curtsies & Conspiracies? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Discussion Post - Book Polygamy

If you are my friend on Goodread you may have noticed that I usually read multiple books at once. It's always been my style, even as a kid. I remember being in 6th grade and having to keep a reading journal that outlined how much we read every day. My teacher would marvel at the fact that I was able to understand what was happening in the multiple books I was reading. Back then I think it was because I had book ADD, I couldn't focus on more than one book at a time. It was also a competitive thing. The reading journal was part of a class-wide contest and I wanted to beat my friend. I decided that if I read multiple books I could read more on a given day. Not entirely sure if that's true but I was eleven so having fuzzy logic is acceptable. 

Today however it seems to be about convenience. Awhile ago in a Top Ten Tuesday Post I mentioned how I'm not very nice to my books. I tend to write on them, spill on them, get crumbs in their spine, toss them around so they get ripped and wet. I know, I know, but before you harass me I'm getting better. I've been trying to not read physical copies of books when I commute to prevent this from happening but that means I need e-books and audiobooks for travel reasons. On a given week I will read one physical book at home, one e-book for commuting, and one audiobook for while I'm at work or driving. Then on the weekend I may put them all on hold to binge a different book.

But then I realized last week that I was only reading one book. It was a weird feeling for me but I kind of liked being able to give one book my undivided attention. There do seem to be some flaws to reading multiple books at once.

1.) One Book is Always Better or More Enjoyable
Not all books are created equal. Whether it is personal taste or what you're enjoying at the time, one book will always take precedence. When you're a book polygamist it's hard not to play favorites. It's all a balancing act and often the scale will tip more in the direction of the book you are liking better. And because of this...

2.) It Takes Longer to Finish the Book.
I mean this is just common sense, right? If you are splitting your time between books then it is clearly going to take longer to finish that book. But it's more than that especially if you are playing favorites. It's sometimes taken me weeks to get through an e-book because I would rather read the physical book or vice versa. On average I read 2-3 books a week but when reading multiple books...

3.) You Finish Them in Groups
I can go entire stretches where I haven't finished a single book and then all of a sudden in a single day I finish two or three. That sounds like a good thing but when you are reviewing books it seems better to finish them on a regular basis. I usually finish the month with a list of books to review and no more days to review them. Having a backlog of reviews can be even more problematic because there have been times that I can't post a review because I'm not done with anything (like right now). And as far as blogging goes content is king!

But my book monogamy was short-lived. The very next day after marveling at reading only one book, I finished that book and I started three new ones. Because there are a lot of benefits to book polygamy.

1.) It Helps Me Decide If I'll DNF A Book
Yes, not all books are created equal, some of them just don't work for you. It's not them, it's you. When I'm only reading one book, I will force myself to push through so I can get to the next one. Then it will take forever because I'm not enjoying it. This is the other side of the coin when it comes to playing favorites. I can better see if I am enjoying a book. My policy on DNFs is put it down for a few days and if I want to pick it back up great, if not DNF. Reading multiple helps me do that. And I'm not faced with the dreaded "what now?" because...

2.) You Always Know What to Read Next & Always Have Something to Read
When I started book polygamy I was never at a loss for the next book to read. When I was only reading one book at a time there was always that question. And having different books in different formats definitely helps with that. I can easily switch from one e-book to the next and one physical book to the next. Plus part of why I am a book polygamist is so I always have something to read. I have an e-book I can read when I'm commuting, a physical book I can read read over the weekend, and an audiobook I can listen to when I working, cleaning, and driving.

3.) It Keeps Things Fresh
Reading multiple books makes it so I don't really get sick of a book. Before I started blogging I would typically read one book at once and sometimes that would drag. I personally like being able to switch things up and not put all my eggs in one basket. I wouldn't particularly call myself a mood reader but I do think I have book ADD. I just personally can't focus on one book at a time. It honestly slows me down because I tend to get sick of a book sooner if I am devoting all my attention to it. Plus...

4.) It Helps Avoid Book Hangovers
Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner had a post recently about "the sacrificial lamb book" and I realized I don't really do that. I just start something else right away to avoid fixating on the previous book. Reading multiple books at a time helps with that because it's not very jarring to start something new and different because I'm already past the awkward exposition stuff and am slightly more invested in the new book. Plus I think that sometimes I also avoid reading slumps this way because there is always something exciting an interesting about one of the books I am reading at the time. But then again if all the books aren't working all of this goes out the window.

But only time will tell if I read more books when I subscribe to book polygamy or book monogamy. I will say that personally I've decided I like it better when I am reading more books than just one. I am currently only reading one book and I'm not liking it as much this time around. I feel like I'm struggling to finish it in time to review it and finish the two other books I planned to read this month.

How about you? Do you prefer to read one book at a time or do you like to read more than one book? Are you a serial monogamist or do you prefer book polygamy. Leave me a comment on your thoughts on reading multiple books. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Title: The Young Elites
Series: The Young Elites #1
Author: Marie Lu
Published: October 7, Putnum (Penguin Teen)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen. Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

The Young Elites had me utterly captivated! From beginning to end it was one of the most unique, complex, and interesting books I have read in a really long time. From the characters, to the world, to the plot it was truly fantastic and I loved it!

The thing that first struck me about this book was the world. When the book began I wasn't sure if it was more of a dystopian novel or if it was more of a High Fantasy. It definitely had elements of both with a lot of political intrigue, a disease that changed society, and teens with powers. Speaking of those powers, the magical system here was incredibly unique. While it was supernatural in origin it was rooted in logical with each power being specific to the wielder and their particular nature. I loved learning about everyone's power and seeing the characters learn and experiment with them. And while I did feel like there was a bit of info-dumping or just a convenient way of showing off the individual powers of the characters, I'm going to cut this book a little slack because it didn't take me out of the story completely.

Or do, your call, whatevs!
What drew me into this story, and kept me captivated despite the info-dumping, however was the characters. Every last one of these characters was complicated and ruthless! I have never read a book where the heroes are just as hardcore and evil as the villains. They were all the dubious kinds of characters that I love and on the spectrum of good and evil they fall more towards the latter end of things. Adelina in particular was a fantastic protagonist for this kind of story. She is dark and dramatic with a tortured past that has made her that way. But that is also what makes her so compelling. I think what was the most interesting thing about Adelina is how despite being told over and over again that she is evil and not to be trusted, she did not come off that way to me. Throughout most of the book I kept thinking that she isn't really that bad and I was waiting for her to become as villainous as she is painted. But Adelina's Hero's Journey in The Young Elites was more about becoming evil. And while this is a villain's origin story but throughout it all, Marie Lu still makes her sympathetic and dare I say, likable?

Not to mention that the book was also full of amazing secondary characters that are just as compelling and ruthless. Teren was a spectacular antagonist for this story and was truly diabolical. Like he is officially on my list of villains that I love to hate! Meanwhile The Daggers were also great characters. I particularly like Enzo, who is a great leader and romantic lead, and Raffaelle, who may be my favorite character for how complicated he is and shipping feels. And Adelina's family was also really compelling especially her sister Violetta. And for the first time I really loved being able to see the book from the perspectives of these character, if only briefly. It added to the complexities of their characters. Being able to see into their heads made them darker and even more intense. It also added a level of dramatic irony and made them seem contrary to their actions and how Adelina viewed them.  I'm usually complaining about this but in The Young Elites it really worked.

Perhaps the most incredible thing about this book, however, was the plot development. The first quarter of the book was a lot of exposition and world-building. At this stage of the book it was much more character-driven, we were getting to know everything and empathizing with the characters. And when we develop am attachment to them the plot exploded! And from then on it was non-stop action and adventure. It sounds like a weird thing to say but the plot development was incredibly purposeful and thoughtful. Every action of the characters and every moment intentionally led to the thrilling climax of the book and when you sit down and think about it, you can logically draw the cause and effect. I'm not sure I've ever read a book where that was so clear, and I really enjoyed it. But as logical as it was in that respect the plot was also incredibly outrageous! This book is full of surprises, twists, and big reveals that I didn't see coming. I found myself on the edge of my seat, with my mouth agape, and bursting into tears at the unexpected WTF moments.

It was without a doubt an emotional roller coaster and I'm still not entirely over it three days later. I can't believe that this is only the first book in the series. It had feels, big reveals, and surprises that usually don't occur until the last book in a trilogy. Maybe that's why this is one of my favorite first books ever and one of my best books of the year.

I give The Young Elites by Marie Lu 9.5 (really more like 9.8) out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY, BUY, BUY! If you are a fan of Marie Lu, Dysopia, High Fantasy, and/or villain stories than you need this book in your life. Or if you are looking for a YA unlike anything you have ever read then check this book out. Give this book as a gift to that person in your life who is all "isn't YA just blah blah blah." This book is not for the faint of heart though. Be ready for the feels and a thrilling adventure!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels I Can't Wait To Read!

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This weeks prompt is the top ten sequels I can't wait for. Now I'm the kind of person who typical likes to binge a series because I am not very good at waiting. I'm probably the most impatient person I know. SO here are a few sequels that I am impatiently waiting for!

1.) Firefight by Brandon Sanderson - The Reckoners #2
Release Date: January 6, 2015 (Add to Goodreads)
The first book in this series, Steelheart, was my first Sanderson and I loved the world-building, the complex characters, the thrilling action, and the insane plot twists. I'm super invested in these characters and I need to know what happens next because I have theories and that reveal at the end blew my mind!

2.) The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon - The Bone Season #2
Release Date: January 27, 2015 (Add to Goodreads)
The Bone Season was utterly captivating. The world in this series is completely incredible and I am so excited to return to this future London and explore more of the aether and learn more about these dubious characters. I'm hoping the exposition and info-dumping is over and we can just explore this amazing world!

3.) Skandal by Lindsay Smith - Sekret #2
Release Date: April 2015 (Add to Goodreads)
I loved Sekret! The combination of Historical Fiction set in Soviet Russia in the 1960s with teenage psychic spies, it was brilliant and so unique. The characters were complex, the romance was swoony, and the plot was full of mystery. I have theories and I can't wait to see if I am right!

4.) NIL Unlocked by Lynne Matson - NIL #2
Release Date: May 12, 2015 (Add to Goodreads)
I didn't even know that this was going to be a series. I mean I'm not complaining. I loved exploring this mysterious and creepy island and I'm more than willing to do it again and learn more! I mean the best character in this series is the island!

5.) Untitled Throne of Glass #4
Release Date: September 10, 2015 (Add to Goodreads)
I marathoned the first three books in this series and the novellas and I am completely hooked. The characters are amazing, the world is growing more and more interesting, and I am really intrigued to see where it all leads. I love that I have three more books in this series but I still want them all now!
This is the UK cover

6) The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May - The Falconer #2 
Release Date: ??? September 2015 in the UK (Add to Goodreads)
THAT ENDING! The Falconer was the book that got me into steampunk and stories with fairies or fae. It was full of action and adventure with an amazing world that combined historical elements with fantasy elements. But mostly THAT CLIFFHANGER! Who ends a book at the climax?

7.) Untitled The Raven Cycle #4 
Release Date: 2015. October? (Add to Goodreads)
I also marathoned this series recently and this is the last book in the series. While I am excited to see how it all ends, I will be so sad to let it all go. These characters are some of my absolute favorites and I need to know if my ships will sail. I know it's going to bee full of feels and I'm not sure I'm ready!

8.) Untitled The Young Elites #2
Release Date: October 2015? (Add to Goodreads)
I finished The Young Elites a few days ago and I'm still not over it. Just thinking about it brought tears to my eyes. I can only think of five books where that happened! But that book was dark, dramatic, and traumatizing in the best possible way and I NEED to continue with this series, this world, and these characters ASAP!

9.) Winter by Marissa Meyer - The Lunar Chronicles #4
Release Date: November 24, 2015 (Add to Goodreads)
I binged the first three books in this series in February and got totally hooked. I'm excited to see how it all ends. I am however not excited that this got pushed back to November but if it gives us a great conclusion and Fairest (a villain story) then I'm cool with it!

10.) The Winds of Winter - A Song of Ice and Fire #6
Release Date: Your guess is as good as mine! (Add to Goodreads)
Do I really need to explain why this book is on my list? I feel like I have compartmentalized my impatience for this book so much that I almost didn't include it. I need it so bad! I mean the TV show has kind of caught up. I need to find out what happens! I mean there were some horrifying cliffhangers for some favorite characters! Great! Now I'm losing my shit thinking about it. FANTASTIC!

So what sequels are you anxiously waiting for? Are any of the books I included on your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

And if you haven't yet, I have a giveaway to celebrate my blogoversary that ends on Friday. Two winners will win a stack of five books each so go check it out [HERE]