Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rafe Rebellius and the Clash of the Genres by Joseph Lowery

Rafe Rebellius and the Clash of the Genres by Joseph Lowery. 2017. Ebook .162 pages.

If you're looking for an adventurous middle grade novel that runs wild with imagination, then Rafe Rebellius and the Clash of the Genres is the next book you should check out.

Rafe Rebellius has spent much of his youth traveling around the country with his scientist parents for their work. As a result of their constant travel and moving from school to school and town to town, Rafe wants to finally settle in one place.into one place. This finally happens when his family moves to -- and he lands at his seventh school, where he is told that he will be able to stay for all four years while living with some of his extended family, the Genrés. While in this town, Rafe enters endless books that take him on endless adventures through different stories. The rest of this story's plot is left up to you to discover.

The characters that we are introduced to throughout Rafe Rebellius are the perfect mix of quirky and captivating, and I really enjoyed learning about each one. The endearing nature of the characters' different personalities really drew me in and made this entire book an exciting experience, though many of the characters did seem to fit solely into one specific mold and nothing else. The Genrés family itself is so fascinating, and I liked how Lowery developed the dynamics between Rafe and those he met and interacted with.

I thought this entire book was so clever with its inclusion of so many different genres in one overarching story. Rafe experiences that are fantasy, western, sci-fi, detective mysteries, and more throughout this entire story, and I really liked how Lowery used this to really showcase each genre. I loved being able to escape into this story and find myself transported to a variety of different times and places all in one book.

Lastly, I was  impressed with the quality of writing. Lowery is able to find the perfect balance between giving enough information, but never dwelling too long in any one area. He also uses his language in a manner that is simple enough for a middle grade reader to follow, but not too simple or youthful that an older reader or adult wouldn't be able to also appreciate. I'm an adult and I still enjoyed it!

Overall, I've given Rafe Rebellius and the Clash of the Genres  four stars! I will certainly be keeping it in mind as a gift for young readers in my family this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

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:
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Publication Date: February 8, 2018
Raven Books
Pre-order: Book Depository

From Goodreads:

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
"A brilliantly original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent: Gosford Park meets Inception, by way of Agatha Christie

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. 

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath..."

I am just so fascinated by this synopsis! I don't typically read murder mysteries all that regularly, but I do enjoy them now and then, and I love Agatha Christie, so this entire premise completely calls out to me. Can't wait to get my hands on this one.

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My Ambitious Winter Reading Plans (We Can All Dream, Can't We?)

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is 'Winter TBR.' For this, I've made a list of books that I would like to get to over the next couple of winter months, but I'm not realistically expecting to get to all of these. Most of these are books that I've either had on my shelf or I've been wanting to read for ages, so I really want to buckle down and get to some of them (and stop getting distracted by other books... but, you know, we'll see how well that works.) I'll also probably throw in a Murakami book at some point, but I'm not sure which one yet, so I didn't add it to this list. What are you hoping to read this winter?

Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3)The Child ThiefThe Changeling

It's finally here! I'm trying to make sure I can clear my plate enough so that I can focus solely on this behemoth.

I found out about this a couple months ago and I've been dying to read it ever since.

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle
It looks creepy and wonderful!

Bird BoxThe Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)This Darkness Mine

I've heard endless good things about this one, and I could use some creepy. 

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
Another fantasy series that I've been wanting to read what seems like years now!

All I've heard about This Darkness Mine is that it's super dark and twisted and well, that sounds just about right.

The Two of Swords, Volume OneThe Crown Tower (The Riyria Chronicles, #1)Blood of Elves (The Witcher, #3)

I loved the first two Witcher books I read and I've had this one as "oh I'll read that next" for more than a few months, so I think it's time to, you know, actually read it

Ilium (Ilium, #1)Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen, #1)The Goblins of Bellwater

Ilium by Dan Simmons
Because I want to try more sci-fi!

The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle
I love stories that are inspired by Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market" poem, so I can't wait to read this one!

Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #2)The Silent CompanionsDunbar

This is a perfect Victorian ghost story that I plan to read in the deepest part of winter (which, in Southern California, basically means one or two rainy days) to match the atmosphere. I will be waiting for the opportune moment.

Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn
I've enjoyed many of these Hogarth Shakespeare retellings, so I'd like to try this one!

Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #1)Witchborn

Have you read any of these? What books are you hoping to read this winter?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City by Fonda Lee. Orbit, 2017. Hardcover. 512 pages. 

Well this was a fascinating debut fantasy concept! Fonda Lee says that she credits much of the inspiration for this novel to her love of kung fu movies and mafia stories combined with her interest in enhancing the physical powers of people, and that inspiration definitely shows! All of those elements have combined to create this intense political family saga known as Jade City.

Jade City is, at its core, very much about family, duty, power, and how all three of those things work both with and against one another. I loved the rival dynastic family aspect and how Lee constructed such an intricate network of familial ties--both those forged by blood and those sworn by oath-- and relationships in many different ways. There are a certain number of clans that rule the area that this book takes place, and the two biggest--the Mountain and No Peak--seem to reach the pinnacle of their rising tensions in this book.

Jade City is set in a modern Asian-inspired urban setting that I found particularly unique. The world-building itself is impressively detailed and completely dragged me in. The entire concept of jade enhancing the abilities of certain individuals was fascinating and truly laid the foundation for an engrossing fantasy conflict. I think what really impressed me about this world was how Lee took regular ideas, such as certain objects giving people power and having a somewhat modern setting, and formed them into something wholly exciting and brand new. 

Where Lee truly excels is in her character development. Each main character was given such a strong background history and personality that I felt as if they were real people. I also appreciated how she managed to provide the history about each character without resorting to straight-up info-dumping; rather, she slowly released information through certain events or conversations with others. Jade City is told from the main perspectives of Lan, the Pillar ( aka leader) of the No Peak clan and elder brother, Hilo, the Horn (akin to an enforcer figure) of the No Peak clan and younger brother, Shae, the sister, and Anden, a boy essentially adopted into the family. I found Shae and Hilo's perspectives and overall story to be the most interesting, as they seemed to have the most in-depth development and changes compared to the others. The interactions among this family group are often tense, but always honest and occasionally brutal. At the root, however, is an obvious loyalty and willingness to defend each other to the death if needed.

There's not much mercy or slack given in this book, either, which lent itself to a somewhat relentless plot and easily kept me hooked. Each character is expected to uphold certain traditions or take on certain tasks, and well, that's just how it is. No matter how much one might try to get away from their duty, it somehow drags them right back into.

There is a lot of political maneuvering and discussion, and sometimes I found the internal dialogue of various characters a bit tedious. I enjoyed being privy so much of their insight and thought process, as it really helped to develop and make them more three dimensional, but it also seemed to drag on for just a little too long. This made a few minor areas of the book seem to also drag, but these moments were generally brief and it wasn't long before I was engaged in the story once again.

Overall, I've given Jade City four stars! I really cannot wait for the next installment. 

*I received a copy of Jade City courtesy of Orbit books in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the book.*

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Anticipated December 2017 Releases!

Upcoming Releases: 
December 2017

The fact that it is already time for December is simply astounding. Where has the year gone?
As expected, there aren't really a lot of December releases, or at least not all that many I could recall. Regardless, I did still manage to find a fair few that I (and many other) are looking forward to releasing this next month, so check them out and let me know your thoughts! Let me know if I've completely overlooked any great releases, also. :)

What are your anticipated December releases?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Few Bookish Things I'm Thankful For!

🍁Happy Thanksgiving!🍂🦃

Today, I though I'd keep it simple and just share a short list of bookish things that I'm ever so thankful for! I hope you all have a wonderful day if you're celebrating--and if you're not, well, I still hope you have a wonderful day!

1. Beautiful Covers

I'm not really sure if this one needs an explanation. Beautiful covers are a gift that none of us deserve but we all readily accept. Just look at some of these:

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grisha Verse, #0.5, #2.5, #2.6)Shades of GreyThe Graveyard Book
The Book of Lost ThingsHeartlessThe Secret Keepers

Seriously, are these even legal?

2. Naturally Naked Hardcovers
I cannot for the life of me recall what these types of hardcover books are called, so for now they are going by 'naturally naked.' Adhesive Case Wrapped books? I don't remember. Regardless, I really love hardcover that don't have a jacket and instead have the cover art printed right there on the naked cover. Examples:
The Watchmaker of Filigree StreetThe Secret History
I'm not sure if all The Secret History hardcovers have no jacket, but I bought mine secondhand and it has no jacket and it's lovely!

I know sometimes library binding editions do this, but not always.

3. Post-Its!

Post-It's are true blessings. I use them as bookmarks because they stay in place and I can use them to mark exactly where I left off on a page (I'm not someone who has to read until the end of a chapter or anything like that, I'll put a book down halfway through a page.) I also use them to mark favorite quotes or scenes without having to mark up my actual book. I would be so lost without the many different forms of post-its. I use a certain size for bookmark vs. a certain size for quotes. Also, just to make myself even weirder, I also use specific color to match the book I'm reading... don't judge.

4. Matching Books/Series

We all know that there is nothing more satisfying than having a complete set of books that are equal in design/stature/etc. A few examples from my shelves:

Ah, satisfaction...
Perfect! (the far right is paperback,
hence smaller size)
And... disaster. Why is the first one only available in mass market? I don't know. This is a case of schadenfreude.

5. The Brandon Sanderson Progress Bar

This man is magic. Not only does he write like a magician and madman, he also keeps us all updated with a progress bar! You can always have a general idea of what he is working on and how far along he is on it. He also writes a million things at a time while still doing other things in life as well. Like I said, he's magic.

As of 11/22/17
Is that not the most beautiful, useful thing ever? We Sanderson fans are spoiled.

6. Goodreads

Honestly, Goodreads is so great. I also like to great an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what I've read (and I use one for an inventory of my books, not Goodreads for that), but this is the most convenient and useful tool ever. I love Goodreads.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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:
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Publication Date: January 30th, 2018
Flatiron Books
Book Depository

From Goodreads:

The Hazel Wood
"Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong."

I've been so intrigued by The Hazel Wood ever since I first heard about it a month or so ago. It sounds so magical and somewhat dark and I can't wait to see what Melissa Albert does with this storyline. I actually just received an ARC of this a couple days ago, so now I can't wait to dive in! I still can't wait for the actual book to release though--it's gorgeous!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Extravagant Fictional Feasts!

Extravagant Fictional

If you live in the United States, as I do, then you are probably aware of the fact that this Thursday is Thanksgiving! (And if you didn't know that and it's news to you, then don't worry--it really snuck up on us this year!) For many people, the highlight of Thanksgiving is getting to stuff your face with a large array of delicious food--and, uh, you know, spending time with those we love, of course.

Jokes aside, feasts are always fun to partake in, and they're even pretty fun to read about sometimes. I decided to make a short post about some of the more extravagant feasts in literature that I've read. I know I'm missing a lot a great feasts, but these are the ones that came to mind, so bon appétit!

I also look at food this way.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling: The first feast in the Great Hall
Oh man are the Great Hall feasts the things of my dreams. Food that magically appears on tables? (Yes, I know the hosue elves made it and I would be so thankful.) A wide variety of foods? I would gain so much weight if I went to Hogwarts, but let's be honest--who cares!?

"Harry’s mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, chips, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup and, for some strange reason, mint humbugs....

 ...When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the puddings appeared. Blocks of ice-cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate éclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice pudding… As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to their families."

Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient RomeFeast of Sorrow by Crystal King: Thrasius' first meal creation with his new master
Now, not everything in this feast appeals to me, but if this isn't an extravagantly, no-holds-barred meal, then I don't know what is. Ancient Roman fare at its finest. I actually have a Classical cookbook that features Ancient Greek/Roman recipes with some of the stuff from this book, so I may have to give it a go some time...

"I would begin with a gustatio of salad with peppers and cucumbers, melon with mint, whole meal bread, soft cheese, and honey cake."...."Then pomegranate ice to cleanse the palate, followed by a cena prima of saffron, chickpeas, Parthian chicken, peppered morsels in wine, mussels, and oysters. If I had more time, I would also serve a stuffed suckling pig. And to close, a pear patina, along with deep-fried honey fritters, snails, olives, and, if you have it on hand, some wine from Chios or Puglia."

The Hobbit (Middle-Earth Universe)The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: Bilbo's uninvited meal
I already know that if I were to choose any fantasy world/land to live in, it would be Middle Earth, specifically Hobbiton. I would fit in with the residents of Hobbiton perfectly, and one minor reason for that is because of their love of food. One of my favorite scenes is when everyone invades Biblo's home and help themselves to anything, mainly because it's hilarious and I am also 100% Bilbo in this scene. But also, the food sounds amazing! For example:

"Already it had almost become a throng. Some called for ale, and some for porter, and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes; so the hobbit was kept very busy for a while. A big jug of coffee bad just been set in the hearth, the seed-cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones, when there came-a loud knock. I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink!" 

"What's that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think, for me."
"And for me," said Thorin. 
"And raspberry jam and apple-tart," said Bifur. 
"And mince-pies and cheese," said Bofur. 
"And pork-pie and salad," said Bombur. 
"And more cakes-and ale-and coffee, if you don't mind," called the other dwarves through the door. "Put on a few eggs, there's a good fellow!" Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. "And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!"

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
It's been so long since I've read this book, and it's really due for a re-read, but I do remember a certain feast that I wanted to include. Confession, though: I don't like seafood. Like... any seafood. I don't eat shrimp, fish, oysters *shudder*... I just don't. So this feast doesn't sound amazing to me, but I know for those that do like seafood, this feast would be fantastic, so this is for you, seafood-lovers!

"When they began to pass around the dusky, piquant, Arlesian sausages, and lobsters in their dazzling red cuirasses, prawns of large size and brilliant color, the echinus with its prickly outside and dainty morsel within, the clovis, esteemed by the epicures of the South as more than rivalling the exquisite flavor of the oyster, North. All the delicacies, in fact, that are cast up by the wash of waters on the sandy beach, and styled by the grateful fishermen “fruits of the sea.”

A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript EditionA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
This feast just sounds so home-y and delicious. This particular meals sound rather simple and classic, but completely perfect.

"There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all at last! Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone — too nervous to bear witnesses — to take the pudding up and bring it in."

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Leave it to Gatsby to bring out extravagant foods! This is the food of the wealthy, and I wouldn't mind being a guest and being able to try all of these different liquors and such--uh, I mean, foods. 😉

"At least once a fortnight a corps of caterers came down with several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree of Gatsby’s enormous garden. On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold. In the main hall a bar with a real brass rail was set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and with cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another."

Would you like to try any of these extravagant literary feasts? Are there any you particularly like from other books? Let me know!