Thursday, May 31, 2018

Mini-Reviews: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman & Self-Portrait With Boy Rachel Lyon

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman
Del Rey, 2018
367 pages. Hardcover.

What drew me to this book was the main premise of a woman with a medical condition that basically puts her into a death-like coma at unpredictable intervals, and this idea did end up being one that was explored thoroughly, both by Carol and her late friend John Bowie. I don't read an abundance of Western books, but I was looking forward to that being the setting for this book, and I think Malerman made that aspect fit really well with the story. Malerman's writing style also really shines in this book, as he does a wonderful job of capturing the mix of emotions that speed through his characters' heads as they move through the story. Unbury Carol is a slow-moving, very character-focused sort of book that builds up to a a clever ending.

I was honestly just disappointed with this book in general. There wasn't anything overly bad about it, but it was just.. lacking. There wasn't really much of a plot there and I feel like the 'plot' that was there could have all been wrapped up in about a hundred pages or so. There were characters that didn't feel like they needed to be there and I felt that the concept I was so excited for was lost somewhere in the mix. I think a big problem I also had was that there never really seemed to be a strong enough motivation for Dwight to want to kill his wife. There was also a weird sense of urgency that seemed to pop out of nowhere and just didn't quite fit.

Overall, I'm mixed on this one. I enjoyed aspects of this book, but I also consistently wondered why I was reading this and what the point was. I've decided to go with three stars for this one.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon
Scribner, 2018
376 pages. Hardcover.

Self-Portrait with Boy is an unassuming novel that packs a huge punch in ways that were much different than I expected. Briefly, this story tells of Lu Rile, a young aspiring photographer who accidentally captures an image of her upstairs neighbor's young son falling to his death through her window while taking her own photograph. Although this premise is what drew me to this book and does provide an overarching storyline, this is not, surprisingly, the main focus of this book at many times. Lu is such a relatable character in some ways, and although I couldn't connect with her on major lifestyle aspects, there were so many sections that I found myself marking because I just felt like she was reading my own personal thoughts about things. This is an extremely quick read, both because it is written very simply, but also because it is hard to put down. This is one of those literary novels that doesn't use quotation marks, and this seemed to only make the story go quicker and I really liked how it added to the somewhat depressing and fatigued nature of the story.

The only major dislike I had was that this book was not what I was expecting. The issue of Lu capturing a photograph of her upstairs neighbor's son was indeed a huge part of this book, but there was so much more in this story than just that. This book covers a small chunk of life about living as a rather destitute artist in early '90s Brooklyn, something that I didn't expect--though I did very much enjoy it. There was also a small, recurring storyline about a ghost that just didn't make much sense to me, though it did end up being important at the end of the story.

Overall, I liked this book a lot. As a warning: it's incredibly bleak. I definitely found myself feeling a bit ore depressed than usual while reading this book, so just keep that in mind if you're sensitive to books that seem to bleed into your own life. Otherwise, I would absolutely recommend this book for the variety of topics it delves into. Four stars!

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay & The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen

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 Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
William Morrow
288 pages
Pre-order: Amazon Book Depository 
From Goodreads:

The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense that recalls Stephen King’s Misery, Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, and Jack Ketchum’s cult hit The Girl Next Door. 

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road. 

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, "None of what’s going to happen is your fault". Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: "Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world." 

Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay."

This week I thought I'd take a step back from the constant WoW epic fantasy picks and go with some other books I've been really looking forward to! My curiosity is certainly piqued by this concept and I can't wait to find out more. I honestly have no idea what to really expect, but I'm really into the dark tone this synopsis provides.

The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen
Publication Date: July 10th, 2018
304 pages
Pre-order: Amazon Book Depository 
From Goodreads:

From the acclaimed PEN-Faulkner Award-winning author of The Great Man comes a riveting high-seas adventure that combines Christensen’s signature wit, irony, and humanity to create a striking and unforgettable vision of our times. 

The 1950s vintage ocean liner Queen Isabella is making her final voyage before heading to the scrapyard. For the guests on board, among them Christine Thorne, a former journalist turned Maine farmer, it’s a chance to experience the bygone mid-20th century era of decadent luxury cruising, complete with fine dining, classic highballs, string quartets, and sophisticated jazz. Smoking is allowed but not cell phones–or children, for that matter. The Isabella sets sail from Long Beach, CA into calm seas on a two-week retro cruise to Hawaii and back. 

But this is the second decade of an uncertain new millennium, not the sunny, heedless fifties, and certain disquieting signs of strife and malfunction above and below decks intrude on the festivities. Down in the main galley, Mick Szabo, a battle-weary Hungarian executive sous-chef, watches escalating tensions among the crew. Meanwhile, Miriam Koslow, an elderly Israeli violinist with the Sabra Quartet, becomes increasingly aware of the age-related vulnerabilities of the ship herself and the cynical corners cut by the cruise ship company, Cabaret. 

When a time of crisis begins, Christine, Mick, and Miriam find themselves facing the unknown together in an unexpected and startling test of their characters."

This fascinating and also pretty gripping, so I can't wait to dive in and find out more. I actually really like the cover for it, as well.

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.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

New-To-Me Authors That I'd Like to Continue Reading!

This week's Tell Me Something Tuesday prompt is: Debut authors/ New to me authors. What books have you read lately by new authors that you want to read more from? I've decided to continue a similar post I've done and feature some authors that I read for the first time so far in 2018 that I want to read more from. Keep in mind, I'm only including authors that already have other work out that I actively want to read, so any  new debut authors that I've read this year and loved (which there have been a lot!) won't be included--I'll be making new posts for those at a later date.

J.V. Jones
What I read: A Cavern of Black Ice (review)
What I would like to read next: A Fortress of Grey Ice & The Baker's Boy
Amazon | Book Depository
Amazon | Book Depository

Jonathan French
What I read: The Grey Bastards (review coming soon)
What I would like to read next: The Exiled Heir
Amazon | Book Depository

I was so impressed by The Grey Bastards that now I would really like to check out more of French's writing, even if it is pretty different.

Robert V.S. Redick
What I read: Master Assassins (review)
What I would like to read next: The Red Wolf Conspiracy
Amazon | Book Depository

Claire Legrand
What I read: Furyborn (review)
What I would like to read next: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
Amazon | Book Depository

Robert Dinsdale
What I read: The Toymakers (review)
What I would like to read next: Gingerbread & Little Exiles
Amazon | Book Depository
Amazon | Book Depository

Colleen Oakes
What I read: Queen of Hearts
What I would like to read next: Blood of Wonderland Wendy Darling

Have you read any books by these authors? What authors have you recently discover that you'd like to read more of? Let me know!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Review: A Star-Reckoner's Lot by Darrell Drake

A Star-Reckoner's Lot by Darrell Drake
Self-published, 2017. 
Ebook. 316 pages.

If you enjoy reading some non-traditional fantasy settings, then A Star-Reckoner's Lot is a perfect book to pick up. Not only does this book have setting inspired by the Sassanian Empire in Iran, it also tells a unique, captivating story that felt very different from a lot of books.

A Star-Reckoner's Lot is one of the many self-published books I've read recently where I can't really tell that it's self-published, as it feels incredibly polished and carefully written. I loved the unique, refreshing setting that is what initially set this book apart, and since I have been loving fantasy books set in new and different areas, this book hit that note perfectly.

One area that I specifically want to mention is the magic system, which I loved. Magic users in this book essentially draw their power from stars and astronomical elements, such as from constellations and the various movements and motions of the planets. I thought that this was a fascinating system that was also developed extremely well. I really can't commend Drake enough for creating such a unique and intricate system that completely enraptured me. It was also nice that this system had, like many other magic systems, consequences for overusing magic and things of that nature which always add a level of severity and authenticity that I really appreciate.

The three main characters that I want to mention are Ashtadukht, Tirdad, and Waray. Ashtadukht is, indeed, a bit of a mouthful to say, but her character is a fascinating one. Her personality is not necessarily the most likable, but there is something really endearing about her that drew me in. I personally loved that she wasn't exactly all that great at using her magic, but that she was still incredibly tough and determined in her goals. Tirdad, Ashtadukht's cousin, was also a complex, well-written character to follow and I appreciated his humor and personality immensely. Ashtadukht and Tirdad meet Waray along their adventures, and Waray turns out to be a quirky and intriguing character. There were many times when I couldn't quite decide if I liked her or not, but reflecting back on the book I really do think I enjoyed every scene she was in. She brought some extra charm to the story and it really felt like she helped expand it as well in both theme and style. This book relied a lot on current character exploration and development, so I don't really want to go too in-depth with their descriptions  since I personally had such a fun time exploring them on my own and feel that this is the best way to discover them.

This was a pretty quick read for me, both because the book itself is on the shorter side (only a little over 300 pages), and also because it is a book that really grabbed my attention and was a very approachable read. It starts off a little on the slow side, but once the story gets going it really takes off and its easy to get sucked into this multi-layered story. The main issues I had with the writing were the many different time period jumps, which often had rather sharp tone shifts as well. I enjoy getting a bit of variety, but it also sometimes made it hard for me to stay fully engaged and it would take a while to get back into the groove. Despite this, the writing itself is extremely well-done and Drake is clearly a gifted and intelligent writer.

Overall, I had a great time reading this book and would definitely recommend it to someone looking fora slightly more unique fantasy setting. I've given A Star-Reckoner's Lot four stars!

*I received a copy of A Star-Reckoner's Lot courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This book was part of TBRindr. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

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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?

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.

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