Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Lost Boy 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:
Lost Boy by Christina Henry
Publication Date: July 4th, 2017
Berkley Books
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook
"From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a familiar story with a dark hook—a tale about Peter Pan and the friend who became his nemesis, a nemesis who may not be the blackhearted villain Peter says he is…

There is one version of my story that everyone knows.

 And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island b
ecause there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter's idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.
Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever."

Growing up, I never cared much about the Disney Peter Pan movie/story. thought I did love the movie Finding Neverlad. However, in recent years I've started reading a variety of different Peter Pan retellings and Peter Pan-inspired stories (Tiger Lily, Alias Hook, etc.), and I've really grow to love it. This particular one really grabs my attention, and I am dying to read it!

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Do You Cheat and Read Ahead While Reading a Book?

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 discussion question is:

Personally, I don't think I have ever done this! I absolutely hate being spoiled by a book, and that is what generally prevents me from reading ahead. Also, if I'm that desperate to know what's going to happen, then I'm generally really loving or engaged with the book and I will subconsciously try to draw the book out longer because I don't want it to end. It's a problem.

The only exception to the above is if it's a book that I really dislike or no longer want to read, but that I still want to know what's going to happen. That's when I'll allow myself to just sort of skip forward

Now, have I ever accidentally spoiled myself? Definitely. We've all had those times when it's a really intense moment and we flip the page and our eyes somehow drift right to the opposite page and somehow something is inadvertently spoiled... yeah, that's always frustrating.

So now I pose the same question to you: do you ever cheat and read ahead while reading a book? If so, why? Do you have a strict rule to never look ahead? Do you ever have exceptions? Let me know in the comments!

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa


Chapter 1

What power has love but forgiveness? —William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,"  Book 3

 "I noticed her the first time she came in the store, and right from the start I picked her for a thief, although that day she didn't take anything. 

On Monday afternoons there were usually poetry readings at La Entretenida, the bookstore I'd recently opened with a group of friends. We didn't have anything better to do and we were tired of paying through the nose for books chosen by and for others, as "eccentrics" like us are forced to do in provincial cities. (There are far more serious problems here, but I don't want to talk about all that now.) So, to put an end to this annoyance, we decided to start our own store."*

Rodrigo Rey Rosa is a prominent Guatemalen writer, and since I don't believe I've ever read any literature from Guatemala, I thought this sounded like a great book to start! This is a short book, more of a novella, in which the narrator -- a bookseller -- tracks the novels a young woman steals and tries to figure out more about her based upon the books she takes. I am rather excited to finish this one up, it sounds wonderfully intriguing. 

What do you think? Would you keep reading either one of these? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

*The Women in the Castle will be released Tuesday, March 28th!*

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. William Morrow, 2017. 368 pages.

*I received a physical ARC courtesy of HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.*

As some of you may know, I tend to be skeptical of World War II-themed books. I have read so many of them over the years that I slowly became burned out on the genre, and now I am very choosy about those that I do pick up. I am extremely pleased to report that The Women in the Castle was a WWII book that I really enjoyed!

This story centers on the postwar lives of three women: Marianne, Benita, and Ania. We do get a few chapters told from the perspective of Benita's son, Martin, but overall this book is told from the perspective of these three women. The content and plot of this particular story was very unique and refreshing to me. Most of the books I've read that centered in Germany during WWII were told from the POV of Jews, those in concentration camps, or those running from Nazis; in this book, the story is told from German women who were not especially in danger of Nazis. Instead, this book seems to focus more on their own guilt and emotions as they come to terms with the horrors that occurred during the war and what role they did or didn't play.

This is not a linear book. Each chapter begins with a location and a date, and though it does move in a linear fashion some of the time, there is also a jumping around between dates and locations. Honestly, I'm not usually a fan of this style in books, but Shattuck is so careful with her storytelling that it actually fits in rather well and makes for an interesting read.

 I was particularly impressed with the development of each woman and how distinct each was. Shattuck could have easily gotten stuck in having three widows who were too similar in personality, but she somehow moved away from that and managed to keep each character unique to who they are. I enjoyed learning about each woman as more and more of their story was revealed and the reader is able to see more aspects of them. 

Shattuck's prose is both descriptive and simple at the same time. It is not overdone, but it is also not overtly simple, either. The Women in the Castle is not what I would call a 'page-turner,' but there is a compelling quality in Shattuck's writing that made me want to keep reading. Her words are almost haunting as they capture the darkest and most personal sentiments of these three women as they come to terms with their experiences during and after the war. 

The Women in the Castle is a thoughtful book. There is not a lot of action of suspenseful moments; instead, things are told in a thoughtful, deliberate manner in a specific order. If you enjoy World War II novels or enjoy reading books with strong character development and that are more character-focused than plot-based, then this is absolutely the book for you. 

Overall, The Women in the Castle receives four stars from me!

You might also like:
The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff

Friday, March 24, 2017

Anticipated April 2017 Releases!

Well there are a lot of new releases this April! I have featured quite a few of them below, but of course it is not nearly close to all of them - just the ones I'm particularly excited for. Titles + releases dates + links to the Goodreads page are listed below the images. :) Also, I have made sure to note which books I have ARCs for and will be reviewing soon!

If We Were VillainsRed Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1)Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome
The Dragon’s Legacy (The Dragon's Legacy, #1)SkullswornWithin the Sanctuary of Wings (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #5)
A Fever of the Blood: A NovelThe Zoo: The Wild and Wonderful Tale of the Founding of London Zoo: 1826-1851The Shadow Land
The Competition (Da Vinci's Disciples #2)Given to the SeaWinter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy, #1)
Beyond the Wild River: A NovelThe Wingsnatchers (Carmer and Grit, #1)The Freemason's Daughter

If We Were Villians by M. L. Rio || April 11th (review coming soon!)
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence || April 4th (review coming 4/3!)
Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King || April 25th (review coming 4/24!)
The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A. Wolf || April 4th (review coming soon!)
Skullsworn by Brian Staveley || April 25th
Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan || April 25th
A Fever of the Blood by Oscar de Muriel || April 4th
The Zoo by Isobel Charman || April 4th (review coming soon!)
The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova || April 11th (review coming soon!)
The Competition by Donna Russo Morin || April 25th
Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis || April 11th
Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys || April 4th
Beyond The Wild River by Sarah Maine || April 18th
The Wingsnatchers (Carmer and Grit #1) by Sarah Jean Horwitz || April 25th
The Freemason's Daughter by Shelley Sackier || April 11th

What are your anticipated April releases?

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

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:
A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
Publication Date: October 17th, 2017
Del Rey Books
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

A Plague of Giants

"In the start of an enchanting new series, the New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid Chronicles creates an unforgettable fantasy world . . . one that is forever changed when an army of giants invades. The kingdom's only hope? The discovery of a form of magic that will call the world's wondrous beasts to fight by the side of humankind."

The synopsis for this one is so short and it doesn't come out until October, but I am just really needing some fantasy lately, and I think this sounds fantastic. I am excited to find out more and eventually read it!

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Fourteen of My Favorite Short Stories (and Short Story Collections) + A Few on My TBR!

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 short books, and since I sort of just recently made a post highlighting some great books that are 200 pages or less, I thought I'd tweak this theme a little bit... and share some awesome short stories and short story collections, along with a few short works of poetry and plays thrown in for good measure (I'm being liberal with the term 'short story')! Now, I thought that this would be more difficult to do since I'm not really a big short story person, but apparently I like more than I thought - who knew?

**These titles are listed in particular order. Enjoy!

Unnatural Creatures
1. Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman
As the summary describes it, Unnatural Creatures is "a collection of short stories about the fantastical things that exist only in our minds. The magical creatures range from werewolves to sunbirds to beings never before classified." And yes, this collection is every bit as magical as it sounds. 

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm
2. The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Jack Zipes
Besides being absolutely stunning, this particular is the first translated edition of all 156 stories by the Brothers Grimm from the original 1812 and 1815 editions. I love folk/fairy tales, and these one did not disappoint at all. They are as close to the way they were originally written as possible, and it's wonderful. The illustration, by Andrea Dezso, are also a lovely addition.

The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories
3. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
"The Yellow Wallpaper" will never get old. This 6,000-word short story essentially documents slow descent of a woman into madness, and that's all you really need to know to jump in. 

Howl and Other Poems
4. "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg
I am a big fan of Ginsberg's poetry, which I first mentioned in a review for some uncollected works, and because of this I had to include his short book of poems in this list. This particular collection resulted in the arrest of its publisher and editor for "disseminating obscene literature." What's more enticing than banned books?

A Modest Proposal
5. "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift
This is, hands down, one of my favorite pieces of satire to ever be written. Essentially, Swift suggests that in order to ease the lives of the poor and provide them with more food, they should begin selling children as food to the rich. Thus, the poor would make a profit and food would begin to be in greater supply. As you might expect, it wasn't received by everyone with as much enjoyment as it is now. 

Through the Woods
6. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
I am so in love with this book. There are three short stories contained within, each one delightfully creepy and haunting. I read these all in one sitting, and I definitely recommend them.

The Sleeper and the Spindle
7. The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell
In case you hadn't noticed, I like Neil Gaiman. The Sleeper and the Spindle is a short book inspired by a "weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic." It's gorgeous, and the illustrations by Riddell are as stunning as every other thing he's ever created.

The Complete Works
8. The Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe
I know, I know, I probably include Poe too much on these list, but I can't help it! I love his short stories (and poetry!) and I think they are some of the best out there.  They are classically disturbing and I just cannot get enough of them.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
9. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Another classic! If you haven't read the tale of the headless horsemen, then I encourage you to do so!

The Lady With the Little Dog and Other Stories, 1896-1904
10. Lady with the Dog and Other Short Stories by Anton Chekov
If you haven't read anything by Chekov, this is a great place to start! The Lady with the Dog is about an adulterous affair, and supposedly Vladimir Nabokov called it one of the best pieces of short fiction he's ever read, so there's that.

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
11. Fragile Things: 
Yes, more Neil Gaiman. And more wonderful short stories.

After the Quake
12. After the Quakes: Stories by Haruki Murakami
And another favorite author of mine. This particular collection features six short stories written in response to the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan.

Greek LivesLives of the Caesars
13. Greek Lives by Plutarch & Lives of the Caesars by Suetonius
All of these are great. They're fascinating if you're at all interested in Ancient Greek and Roman figures. I just translated a good portion of Life of Antony this past quarter for a Greek course, so I am slightly biased, but they are still fascinating. And Suetonius' lives of the Roman emperors are delightfully juicy. I highly recommend them.

The Bacchae
14. The Bacchus by Euripides
Euripides is a brilliant Greek author, and I think this is one of his best works. 

Short Stories I want to Read:
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
I don't even know how many years this book has been on my TBR at this point, but I am still dying to read it! I love every thing I've read about this collection, and I think it sounds like it is right up my alley.

Moral Disorder and Other Stories
Moral Disorder and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood
I love Margaret Atwood and have heard great things about this collection! I've yet to read any short stories by Atwood, so I'm excited to see how it is.

Little Black Book of Stories
Little Black Book of Stories by A. S. Byatt
I'm just so fascinated by the sound of this one. I read Possession last year and I think I really liked it (it's complicated), and I think this sounds like a perfect match for the taste of Byatt's writing that I received from Possession.

Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite short stories/short story collections?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco

Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco. Metropolitan Books, 2009. Hardcover. 432 pages.

Footnotes in Gaza has been on my radar for a while, but because of its size and the complexity of the content, I was always a bit intimidated by it. I finally picked up this hefty graphic novel because it was one of the options listed to read for a class I was taking this past winter quarter, because there's nothing like a school requirement to motivate you to do something, right?

Footnotes in Gaza is journalist Joe Sacco's exploration into two sparsely covered reports of massacres that occurred in Khan Younis and Rafah, both located in the Gaza Strip, during the 1956 Suez Canal Crisis. The facts of these events, what really happened, and who is at fault is still debated, but Sacco's aim was to find out -- from firsthand accounts and interviews -- what happened during these massacres.

This is a dense graphic novel. There is so much information packed into these pages that it took me an extremely long time to get through the entire thing. I found myself needing to stop a re-read a few pages to fully grasp what was going on before continuing on with the story. If you, like me, are unfamiliar with much of the content and the background of Israel-Palestine conflicts, then it takes a little time to fully understand the things which Sacco describes, but fortunately he does provide enough background information to make everything come together.

In addition to the obvious topic of the Khan Younis and Rafah massacres, this novel covers so much more than just those two events. Sacco takes his readers with him as he travels around the Gaza Strip in the present day (then 2003) to see the current conditions of those living in Palestinian land, and he also receives firsthand accounts about other periods of time in Israel and Palestine's tumultuous history.

This is an extremely compelling read, and there are no details left out. It is extremely heartbreaking and frustrating at times to read of the horrific violence and deplorable conditions those living both then and now experience. The illustrations are all done in black and white, but that does not in any way take away from their impact and meaning. He illustrates every story he is told, no matter how dramatic or devastating it is, which allows each person to have a face and a story to tell.

What I found particularly interesting about Sacco's journalism was that so many of the people he interviewed were perplexed by his interest in these two massacres -- why did he care about things that happened so long ago, when so many other thing had happened and were currently happening? To me, this brings up an important discussion about why events in history are important, even if they are just considered "footnotes."

Some people seem to claim the Sacco is too biased towards the Palestinians, but I do not personally feel that is the case. I saw Sacco as a mainly looking to find information on one particular event in one place, and that is exactly what he did. He told the accounts as he was told them, and he mentions many times that not all of these stories may be accurate.

Overall, I am giving Footnotes in Gaza four stars! I really enjoyed this graphic novel, but for me it was quite difficult to get through at times. Despite this, I still think it is an extremely important book about some rather unknown events that should be considered.

You might also like:
The Chibok Girls by Helon Habila
Consequence by Eric Fair

Friday, March 17, 2017

Book Beginnings Friday: The Zoo by Isobel Charman

Book Beginnings Fridays is hosted by Rose City ReaderJoin us every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

This week I started reading Isobel Charman's upcoming release The Zoo, which tells the story of the creation of London's first zoo. I am fascinated by the premise of this story, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

The Zoo: The Wild and Wonderful Tale of the Founding of London Zoo: 1826-1851

Publication Date: April 4th, 2017

"They could not save the animals, Tom's collection, so lovingly assembled - the pet monkeys, the bears, the tapir, the tiger. 'My Noah's ark,' he'd called it - all now aflame on one great, terrible funeral pyre. Sophia knows she will never forget the hellish crescendo of the beasts' barks and cries, loud even above the cracking of the burning wood and the thunder of the hungry flames; the frantic, futile flapping of countless feathered wigs against iron bars. No! She will not forget it, ot for as long as she lives. However long that might be."

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

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