Friday, May 25, 2018

Anticipated June 2018 Releases!



June is almost upon us, and you al know what that mean... new releases are coming! Below is a small collection of some of those books coming out next month that I am highly anticipating. There's a pretty wide variety this month, which I think it always a good thing. What books are you looking forward to?

       
              

Starless by Jacqueline Carey || June 12th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Traitor God by Cameron Johnston || June 5th -- Amazon | Book Depository

Ravencry by Ed McDonald || June 18th -- Amazon | Book Depository

Adrift by Rob Boffard || June 5th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Hawkman by Jane Rosenberg LaForge || Amazon | Book Depository

A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White || June 26th -- Amazon | Book Depository

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman|| June 26th -- Amazon | Book Depository

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje || June 7th -- Amazon | Book Depository

Midnight Blue by Simone van der Vlught || June 26th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd || June 5th -- Amazon | Book Depository

 Orope: The White Snake by Guenevere Lee || June 5th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Mermaid by Christina Henry || June 19th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts || June 12th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay || June 26th -- Amazon | Book Depository

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen || June 5th -- Amazon | Book Depository

Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi || June 28th -- Amazon | Book Depository

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez || June 5th -- Amazon | Book Depository

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir || June 12th -- Amazon | Book Depository

What are your anticipated June releases?

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Review: LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

*LIFEL1K3 will be published Tuesday, May 29th!*

LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff 
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018
Hardcover. 416 pages.

**There is a pre-order campaign for LIFEL1K3 pre-orders that is ongoing until May 29th where you can receive a print of the map in LIFEL1K3 as well as four character cards! You can find out more here.**

LIFEL1K3 was a solid book, but it was also one of my biggest disappointments this year.

Everything about this book screams 'Jay Kristoff,' which is part of what made me so excited to read it. I expected a fascinating world, strong and unforgettable characters, a compelling plot, and a book that I would find impossible to put down. Instead, I got an overly predictable story, characters that I lost interest in, and a book that I found myself increasingly bored with.

Before getting into the details, I want to say that LIFEL1K3 is very much trademark Jay Kristoff and I could hear his voice throughout the entire story. The problem was that I felt like I'd read this book a hundred times before in many other books. It seemed like this book was more about the dialogue, the world, and the characters, with less emphasis placed on the plot itself, and this is where I had issues.

The world-building is fantastic and this is one area in which Kristoff shines. He not only builds an in-depth world with different locations and elements, but he also invents his own slang and manner of speaking that really brings it to life. I did have some issues with the slang in parts because I didn't always know what they were talking about, but idea and execution of it did help with the world-building. The only issue I had was that occasionally I felt confused and as if things weren't fully explained, but this wasn't something that lingered too long and was only minor. The Mad Max inspirations in his world-building really shine through in this world, though, so if you're a fan of that franchise you might want to pick up this book.

The characters in this book were really hit or miss for me. The main protagonist, Eve, irritated me more than I expected. I felt very little connection to her and that her reactions to various revelations and events were somewhat off. On a somewhat minor but still irritating note, she also made endless references to how 'she'd looked death in the face before and wasn't afraid to do it again' so. many. times. that I truly did not care anymore. I did, however, love Eve's cyborg dog Kaiser--Kristoff did great work on that. Lemon Fresh, her best friend, was one of the characters that I did really love. She seemed to have the most well-rounded and interesting personality of the bunch. She did feel slightly one-note at the beginning of the book, but as the story progressed I felt she more well-developed and I loved her personality. I also really loved Lemon and Eve's friendship and really enjoyed seeing their love for another shine throughout this book. Ezekiel, a character we meet fairly early in the story, was one of the least interesting characters for me. There was nothing interesting or endearing about him, and I think Cait at Paper Fury got it right when she likened him to her toaster. The last character I want to mention is Preacher, only to say that I still don't understand what his purpose was and all he seemed to be to me was a huge pain in the ass for no reason.

As mentioned, it was the plot that I really struggled with. The twists and turns were interesting, but also easily guess-able; it's a well thought-out story, but it just wasn't new enough. I feel like if you don't read a lot of books then you might enjoy this book a lot more than I did, but since I read a lot all the tie I just feel like I've read and seen this all before.

The writing, however, was great. Kristoff is wonderful at creating engaging and witty dialogue that lets you easily imagine the story in your head and feel like you are there with the characters. The descriptions of the world were strong and I appreciated Kristoff's accessible prose. The biggest complaint I have about his writing was that there was way too much action for my taste. I felt like the characters were constantly on the run or involved in some sort of action drama and I just got so tired of it and found myself desperately wanting to skim over large chunks of this book.

Despite my rather ambivalent review, I do still recommend you check this one out if you are a Kristoff fan or if you think the synopsis sounds good. There are so many other readers that have fallen head over heels for this book, so there's a good chance that you might still like it. People are even calling this some of Jay's best work, which I personally find a bit insulting to Nevernight, but that's just my personal opinion. Overall, I've given LIFEL1K3 three stars. I liked parts of it, but I just didn't enjoy this as much as I expected to and I look forward to reading more reviews from other readers to see what their thoughts were.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository


*I received an ARC of LIFEL1K3 courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*


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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Summerland by Hannu Ranjaniemi & The Mermaid by Christina Henry


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:
Summerland by Hannu Ranjaniemi
Publication Date: June 28th, 2018
Gollancz
320 pages
Pre-order: Amazon Book Depository 
From Goodreads:

"From Hannu Rajaniemi, one of the most exciting science fiction writers in the last decade, comes an awe-inspiring account of the afterlife and what happens when it spills over into the world of the living. 

Loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning. 

In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. 

Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god. 

When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in. 

But how do you catch a man who’s already dead?"

I'm honestly just really intrigued by the idea of discovering the afterlife and somehow exploiting that, so this book sounds like it might be a fascinating experiment. I'm not really sure what to expect, but I'm certainly looking forward to it!

and...
The Mermaid by Christina Henry
Publication Date: June 19th, 2018
Berkley
336 pages
Pre-order: Amazon Book Depository 
From Goodreads:

"From the author of Lost Boy comes a historical fairy tale about a mermaid who leaves the sea for love and later finds herself in P.T. Barnum's American Museum as the real Fiji mermaid. However, leaving the museum may be harder than leaving the sea ever was

Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn't bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return. 

P. T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he'd heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket. 

Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he's determined to hold on to his mermaid."

I love Christina Henry's books and her newest upcoming release sounds like it will be just as amazing as her previous work (Lost Boy, Alice). I really can't wait to finally read this gorgeous thing!

What do you think about these upcoming releases? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?


Planning to purchase a book or two? Consider purchasing on Book Depository through my affiliate link! Book Depository has worldwide free shipping and millions of titles to choose from.

I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to pause adblock to see it!)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday Double Feature: Tell Me Something Tuesday & First Chapter Tuesday

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings where a wide range of topics from books to blogging are discussed. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.


This week's topic: Are you more inclined/ less inclined to read books that are compared to other popular books or authors?

 To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if this sort of description affects me too much one way or the other. Unless a book's description is just extremely annoying or rubs me the wrong way, then I'm pretty likely to just ignore the comparisons and read the book anyway. Comparisons might occasionally make me interested in a title, but they don't generally turn me off from a book (usually because a majority of the time the comparison is off).

I definitely get annoyed by certain book/author comparisons, namely Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, etc. comparisons. Not everything is 'like Harry Potter for adults' or 'Game of Thrones meets [insert random book/movie here]'. How about we just don't do that? If an author was specifically inspired by a certain book or author that has a big franchise, then I'm totally fine with something akin to 'inspired by [whatever book] here,' but I don't think they should actively compare the book for no real reason. I know it's all about marketing and the average buyer is more likely to pick up a book that markets itself as similar to Harry Potter, but I wish we could stop doing that because if all the books that claimed to be like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones actually were, we'd have very little variety.

The most recent example of a time when book/movie comparisons ended up both intriguing me and thenn disappointing me was with Jay Kristoff's latest release, LIFEL1K3. One of LIFEL1K3's main advertising sell is: "It's Romeo & Juliet meets Mad Max meets X-men with a little bit of Bladerunner cheering from the sidelines." Now, I don't hate this. I think it's fun and it did make me pretty intrigued by this book, but it also sort of gave me too  many expectations. It almost spoiled the book in a sense by giving away so much about what it's like and what it's perhaps trying to be. It also really frustrated me because of how disappointed I was in the book because it felt so unoriginal (I'll expand on this in my review for LIFEL1K3, which should be up Thursday). This particular instance of comparing has both pros and cons and although I think it successfully piqued the interest of a lot of readers, it personally left me wanting and slightly annoyed. I will say that I prefer it to the generic Harry Potter type ones, but I still felt a bit disappointed by it.

Minor digression aside, my answer is that these comparisons do not influence me to read or not to read a book, but they will possible affect how I view the book and my enjoyment of it. If I'm expecting one thing going into a book and then I never find that specific thing, then I'm going to be confused and frustrated. What are your thoughts on this subject?



First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Vicki @ I'd Rather Be at the Beach. This is meme in which bloggers share the first chapter of a book that they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Vicki's blog, or simply check it out to find more new books to read!



The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick



"Chapter 1: Tarboy

1 Vaqrin (first day of summer (941)
Midnight
It began, as every disaster in his life began, with a calm. The harbor and the village slept. The wind that had roared all night lay quelled by the headland; the bosun grew too sleepy to shout. But fort feet up the ratines, Pazel Pathkendle had never been more awake."
I read Robert V.S. Redick's neweest release Master Assassins earlier this year and completely loved it, so now I'm hoping to get started on some of his other works that I've yet to read. 

Pre-order: Amazon | Book Depository


Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman


"Chapter One: At the Funeral of John Bowie

Harrows, situated at the northernmost point of the Trail, savored its distance from the meat of the rabid road. It was easily the most affluent town in both counties; the homes of Harrows were larger, often constructed of stately stone, some with as many as ten bedrooms. The garden yards were as wide as the fabled Trail itself, some roofs as high as the willows. Even better: Harrows enjoyed more sunlight than the other towns, as the shadows cast by the arching of those willows concluded where the wheat fields began, just south of the border. Sunny and secluded, remote and rich, Harrows was a very desirable place to live. 

But that didn’t preclude its citizens from dying. 

John Bowie found this out the bad way."

I loved Malerman's Bird Box and I thought the premise of this book was really intriguing, so I was excited to jump into this one. 
Pre-Order: Amazon Book Depository


What do you think? Would you keep reading these books? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 




I am also an Amazon affiliate, so if you'd prefer to shop through Amazon, just click the banner on the upper right hand side of my blog! (above the 'Follow by email' box, you may need to turn off adblock to see it!)

*Excerpts are taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang


The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
Harper Voyager, 2018
Hardcover, 544 pages

So this book... I truly don't even know where to begin with this review. This was absolutely insane and incredible and I can't stop thinking about it. Basically, I've been looking forward to this book for quite a while, and then when it finally came out I started seeing rave reviews for it everywhere about how wonderful and brutal this book was, so my excitement skyrocketed up and I ended up picking it up way sooner than I expected to. 

If you've seen anything about this book, then you have probably already seen people calling it extremely dark and intense, and well, they're not wrong. It's also incredibly riveting and an exceptionally exhilarating experience. The Poppy War spends the first portion of the book in the sort of school setting that we all tend to love in fantasy books. There are, of course, rivalries among other students and the protagonist, Rin, since she isn't overly welcome and doesn't fit in, which leads to very few real friends. However, this school setting is still very fresh and exciting and it works really well with the atmosphere of the book. There's a lot of variety within the school itself and what is taught and it's not your average 'fun school setting,' but rather is a harsh environment where you're sort of left to fend for yourself for the most part. I really liked that the rivalries among the students didn't take up too much time and energy and that the school period wasn't just filled with savagery and revenge like in a lot of books. Instead of focusing on this, everyone was too busy actually studying and trying to focus on their own work and grades, which was oddly nice to see As mentioned, this school setting only lasts for the first half or so of the book, so if you don't like school settings then don't worry because it's not the whole thing, but if you do like school settings then I promise you'll enjoy it. 

The Poppy War takes inspiration from China's brutal 20th century history and draws many similarities between various events and themes/ideas between the two. I liked knowing about this inspiration before reading the book because it added some extra curiosity to my reading and actually inspired me to get back into learning more about China's history. The world itself that Kuang crafted in The Poppy War is incredibly realistic and it truly felt like it was a place that actually existed. There were strong mythical and cultural elements that built up this world extremely well and added so much to it. I love when there are such strong elements like these in books that allow the culture to bleed into the story through a variety of ways that, again, make this world feel so real and interesting. 

As with many fantasy books, there is a pretty decent sized cast of characters. Every character had really strong characterization and development overall and I really didn't think that there were any characters that were purely one-note; each one had many different sides that were interesting to explore. Rin, our protagonist, is truly an interesting person that constantly had me wondering what she was going to do next. She's a bit reckless, but this didn't annoy me as much as in other books because I sort of understood where her recklessness came from based upon where she grew up and what the current stakes in her life were. I loved watching her grow throughout this book and I think Kuang did an excellent job at creating such a fascinating character that, although we might not always agree with what she's doing, still has an engrossing journey that I am fully invested in.

Among other characters are Altan, a top student at Sinegard and the last known member of the Speerly race still alive; Kitay, one of Rin's only friends; Jiang, a professor at Sinegard who is not widely respected and is a bit of a wild card, and Nezha, Rin's immediate enemy. Kitay and Jiang were easily some of my favorite characters. I felt that they both had such interesting personalities that were explored in very different ways. Kitay comes across as a rather normal type of student, but there's much more to him than expected. Jiang is a very complicated person, but he's also an especially intriguing person and is one of those that you can't help but be drawn to due to his great mystique and many unpredictable and strange actions. There are honestly a lot more characters that I could touch on, but I fear discussing them could give away minor spoilers about future plot points in this book, so I am going to refrain from doing so in this review.

Although there are some dark elements in the beginning of the book, it isn't until the second half of the book that things really take a turn for the truly dark and difficult. There are some images described that are so hard to imagine--and honestly, I didn't want to imagine them most of the time-- and really make you wonder at the depravity of humans and how low they can get. At times, the last part of the book actually felt like a completely different story from the first half, almost as if I was reading multiple books in a series instead of just one, and I actually loved that. There is so much going on that you hardly ever even have a chance to feel bored or think that the book is dragging; something new or intriguing was almost always going on. 

Overall, I loved The Poppy War. This book is beyond thrilling, fully compelling, and one that I once again cannot recommend enough. I've given The Poppy War five stars.