Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: Wicked Charms

Wicked Charms (Lizzy & Diesel, #3)Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 23, 2015 by Bantam
Source: Netgalley review copy

Murdered and mummified more than ninety years ago, bootlegger Collier “Peg Leg” Dazzle once found and re-hid a famous pirate’s treasure somewhere along the coast of New England. A vast collection of gold and silver coins and precious gems, the bounty also contains the Stone of Avarice — the very item reluctant treasure seeker, Lizzy Tucker, and her partner, Diesel, have been enlisted to find. While Lizzy would just like to live a quiet, semi-normal life, Diesel is all about the hunt. And this hunt is going to require a genuine treasure map and a ship worthy of sailing the seven seas . . . or at least getting them from Salem Harbor to Maine.

Greed is eternal and insatiable, and Lizzy and Diesel aren’t the only ones searching for the lost pirate’s chest. There are people who have dedicated their entire lives to finding it, and are willing to commit murder or make a deal with the devil, just to hold the fortune in their hands. One of those people may even be Wulf, Diesel’s deceptively charming and enigmatic cousin. Wulf desires the Stone of Avarice. He also desires Lizzy. It’s hard to say how far he’s willing to go to gain either one.

This was a fun book, and I'm actually liking this series better than the Stephanie Plum series. This series still feels pretty fresh, and while there hasn't been a whole lot of character growth, at least it's not the same thing for 21 books. This isn't great literature, but it's a fun way to pass the time for a few hours, and I'll definitely continue reading the series.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Review: Red Rising

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)Red Rising by Pierce Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 2014 by Del Ray
Source: library copy

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

This was fantastic. It started off a bit slow, and I almost put it down thinking it just wasn't my thing. I'm so glad I didn't. It does have shades of other novels. I saw a lot of Hunger Games, and some Ender's Game as well. So it was fitting that the main character was compared to the two protagonists of those novels on the front cover.

It should bother me that this book borrowed so heavily from other novels, but it doesn't. There were enough differences and originality to keep the story fresh.

I've already got book two on hold at the library, and I can't wait to see where this story goes.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Book Review: Alive

AliveAlive by Scott Sigler
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Source: Netgalley review copy

A teenage girl awakens to find herself trapped in a coffin. She has no idea who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Fighting her way free brings little relief — she discovers only a room lined with caskets and a handful of equally mystified survivors. Beyond their room lies a corridor filled with bones and dust, but no people ... and no answers.

She knows only one thing about herself — her name, M. Savage, which was engraved on the foot of her coffin — yet she finds herself in charge. She is not the biggest among them, or the boldest, but for some reason the others trust her. Now, if they’re to have any chance, she must get them to trust each other.

Whatever the truth is, she is determined to find it and confront it. If she has to lead, she will make sure they survive. Maybe there’s a way out, a rational explanation, and a fighting chance against the dangers to come. Or maybe a reality they cannot comprehend lies just beyond the next turn.

I didn't like this one at all. I am not a fan of the books where you have to wait until the very end to get any answers, and then even then you don't get all the answers.

The main character was not even a little bit likable. But for some reason they all elected her as their leader. She wasn't the smartest, the most physically strong, or even the most socially adept. There was just nothing about her that would make other people follow her, except for that she decided she should be the leader.

This is not one I'd recommend at all, I'm sorry to say.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book Review: Uprooted

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik
Publication Date: May 19, 2015 by Del Ray
Source: Netgalley review copy

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 can't believe this book is only 400something pages, because I feel like I've been reading it for a year, and I'm only about halfway done. I'm just so bored. I don't care about any of it. Most of the reviews I've seen of this one are glowing, so I think it's one of those you'll either love or not like at all. If you like very descriptive and wordy books, you'd be much more likely to appreciate this book.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cookbook Review: North

Iceland is known for being one of the most beautiful and untouched places on earth, and a burgeoning destination for travelers lured by its striking landscapes and vibrant culture. Iceland is also home to an utterly unique and captivating food scene, characterized by its distinctive indigenous ingredients, traditional farmers and artisanal producers, and wildly creative chefs and restaurants.
Perhaps no Icelandic restaurant is as well-loved and critically lauded as chef Gunnar Gíslason’s Restaurant Dill, which opened in Reykjavík’s historic Nordic House in 2009. North is Gíslason’s wonderfully personal debut: equal parts recipe book and culinary odyssey, it offers an unparalleled look into a star chef’s creative process. But more than just a collection of recipes, North is also a celebration of Iceland itself—the inspiring traditions, stories, and people who make the island nation unlike any other place in the world.

I loved the pictures and reading and learning new things about Iceland.  The pictures of Iceland were absolutely gorgeous.  I really like the new trend I'm seeing in some cookbooks where you learn not only new recipes, but about the culture or country where the recipes originate.  Unfortunately, as a cookbook, this wasn't a big hit for me.  I would probably cook very few of the recipes.  They just didn't look or sound very appetizing to me, and many of the ingredients would be hard to find.  

I still think this cookbook is worth having in my collection, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Book Review: Undertow

Undertow (Undertow #1)Undertow by Michael Buckley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: May 5, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley review copy

Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

This started off pretty slow, and I had a hard time getting into it. I just wasn't feeling any of the plot points. The first 3/4 of the book was probably 3 stars at best (if I was being generous). But the end got really exciting and good, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

The romance wasn't believable for me. I didn't get a big sense of connection between Lyric and Fathom. It's not that it wasn't predictable. Almost every YA seems to have a romance of some type. But the nice thing is I don't think the romance overshadowed the story.

There was a lot of stuff that just didn't make a lot of sense. Like who exactly was making the decisions. Was it the President? If so, why didn't he (or she, I can't even remember if it was mentioned) ever step in when things started going bad?

Overall it was a pretty good book with quite a different storyline than usual. I would recommend it, with the caveat that the reader needs to remember it's a slow starter.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Review: Boywatching

BoywatchingBoywatching by Chloe Bennet
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Publication Date: June 4, 2015 by Orchard Books
Source: Netgalley review copy

The annual joint school dance (aka the Snog Fest) is looming, and Chloe and her three best friends are determined not to repeat last year's disaster, which led to Year 9's top Mean Girl, Maggie, humiliating them online as a pack of sad losers. First they need to figure out just what's going with the utterly incomprehensible yet strangely attractive St Thomas's boys - and so the science of BoyWatching is born...

This reminded me so much of the Georgia Nicholson books by Louise Rennison. I liked those 10+ years ago, but the most recent one I read I didn't care for. So I think this type of book just isn't my thing anymore. There really wasn't any plot here. It was about young teenage girls going to school, hanging out, and talking about boys. That was seriously it. Just not enough to really hold my interest (even though I did finish it).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book Review: The Fire Sermon

The Fire Sermon (The Fire Sermon, #1)The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: March 2015
Source: Netgalley review copy

 They were born together and they will die together.

One strong Alpha twin and one mutated Omega; the only thing they share is the moment of their death.

The Omegas live in segregation, cast out by their families as soon as their mutation becomes clear. Forced to live apart, they are ruthlessly oppressed by their Alpha counterparts.

The Alphas are the elite. Once their weaker twin has been cast aside, they're free to live in privilege and safety, their Omega twin far from their thoughts.

Cass and Zach are both perfect on the outside: no missing limbs, no visible Omega mutation. But Cass has a secret: one that Zach will stop at nothing to expose.

The potential to change the world lies in both their hands. One will have to defeat the other to see their vision of the future come to pass, but if they're not careful both will die in the struggle for power.

This wasn't bad, but altogether it fell short of being something that I would recommend. Even though the main characters were on the run, and it should have felt very suspenseful, I didn't ever feel a whole lot of urgency. The characters and the story just kind of ambled along until the end.

Kip, the love interest, wasn't appealing to me at all. The love story itself wasn't great, actually. To have your hero have amnesia, and no personality whatsoever, is not a good way to draw your readers in and make them root for the couple.

Overall this book felt very blah to me, and while I may read the next book in the series, it's not something I'm really anticipating.

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