Thursday, February 21, 2013

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger is a book I have been waiting for since I read her series The Parasol Protectorate  Set in a supernatural England in the 1800's, The Parasol Protectorate breathes new life in to an era I love to read about. After I finished reading those books I went through Gail Carriger's Goodreads page and stumbled upon Etiquette & Espionage. I thought it looks amazing but was disappointed to find out it wasn't going to be released for another 10 months! None the less I added it to my to read list and kind of forgot about it for a while. But recently I was going through my to reads list and marking down on my calendar when books were due to be released. I was very pleased to find out that Etiquette and Espionage was to be released a week after I went through my list. It came out the same day as Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, last week was a busy reading week for me.

Actually, books like these are the reason I had to implement a new rule for my reading habits. It used to be my only reading rule was no starting new books after 8pm (this came about after staying up way to late to finish reading books that I didn't start until 10pm.) But now I have a second rule, no more starting books at 7am.... at least not during the week.  This rule is because if I start a book first thing in the morning I won't want to do anything else until I have finished said book. This becomes a problem because I would much rather read my fiction book over my Intro to Literature book. So, the rule really is that I have to read my lit homework before I am allowed to start a new book. Yes, there is a good chance I am addicted to reading. But that is a story for another post.

Etiquette & Espionage is set in England in the 1800's, like previously mentioned. However, it is a supernatural steampunk England where werewolves and vampires are a common occurrence  In the beginning of the book we are introduced Sophronia Temminick, a 14 year old troublemaker. It isn't that she is a bad girl so much as a very curious girl. Why sit for tea when she could be discovering how a dumbwaiter really works. Unfortunately, this leads to trouble for young Sophronia and she is sent to Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Sophronia doesn't really want to go, but she is forced to by her parents. On the trip to the academy her carriage is set upon by Flywaymen, highwaymen but in a floating ship. The Flywaymen are looking for an object that is of the utmost importance, but when their chaperon faints, Sophronia and the other two people in the carriage manage to fight off the flywaymen and make a great escape. 

When they reach the academy Sophronia is astounded to discover that the academy is on a sky ship held aloft by three large air balloons  Sophronia is even more amazed to discover the real purpose behind the academy, not just to finish ladies, but to create spies and assassins.
Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate  Etiquette & Espionage has some of the same characters as the other book. Over the course of the book you will fall in love with the academy and characters. My only regret is that I wasn't given the chance to attend a school like Mademoiselle Geraldine's.

I would rate this book a 4/5.

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger - This sequel to Etiquette & Espionage isn't set to be published until sometime late fall 2013. I am saddened by this.

The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger - set in the same world as Etiquette & Espionage, The Parasol Protectorate is a slightly more adult series. Still amazing.

The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter - This series is set in modern times and has a distinct lack of supernatural beings, but it is about a school for girls that trains spies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mind Games by Kiersten White

How do you beat a Seer? By never thinking past your next move. In fact, its best not to think at all, rely on your instinct and never ever plan anything.

This simple idea is the driving point behind the book Mind Games by Kiersten White. Sofia, called Fia by friends, is a 17 year old girl who has been drawn in to a web of lies and deceits in order to protect her sister Annabelle from a school that is a lie itself.

When they were young, Annie, blind from a young age, had a vision and saw her parents die in a car wreck. Since then, she has wondered if telling her parents was the real reason for the car wreck, would it still have happened if she hadn't said anything? Fia has been protecting her older sister since she was young and she has a unique power to do so. No matter what she picks, she always picks the right answer, the right object. Fia has perfect instincts, but will that be enough to protect Annie?

After the death of their parents Annie and Fia are taken to the Keane Institute, a miracle school that will provide everything Annie needs to learn, even doctor visits to try to restore her vision. Fia knows the school is wrong, but she can't deny her sister the chance to thrive. And thrive she does, Annie just has to ask and any supplies she wants are provided for her including a mentor to help train her Seer abilities. But under all of this is a sinister intention. They start training Fia in skills that aren't normal for a 14 year old girl, hand to hand combat, knife fighting, how to get out of a room when everyone else has a taser and doesn't want you to leave. But there are skills that Fia learns that aren't taught by the teachers. How to beat Seers, Readers, and Feelers. How to survive when everyone wants to use you for their own interests. How to protect your sister when she doesn't realize she needs protecting.
Mind Games is written in a series of flash backs intermingled with the present. We see how Fia and Annie come to be at the Keane Institute and the series of events that lead up to the present and why each girl makes the choices she does.

I would rate this book a 4/5. It was well written, though at times a bit confusing with all the jumping around. White does a good job showing the psyche of a young girl who has been pushed too far and made to do things that no human should have to do. In Mind Games we are presented with a girl who is on the verge of a mental break down who has developed a bit of OCD in an attempt to cope. We are led to believe by other characters that Fia is a cold blooded psychopath, but after reading the book I have come to the conclusion that the problem isn't Fia's lack of emotions, rather she has too many, but is good at playing the game.

I very much hope this is a trilogy or at least a duology but since Mind Games was just released yesterday, I doubt it will be any time soon. Drats.

I am actually pretty sad right now, Kiersten White is coming to Provo Utah on March 6th for the Pitch Black: Dark Days tour, but unfortunately that is a Wednesday and I really don't think I can handle an hour drive without traffic during rush hour. I would love to meet White and get an autographed copy of her novel, but I will have to settle for preordering a copy through The King's English Bookshop, the sponsors of the event. Maybe some day I will be able to have White sign a paint chip for my project! (You can read about my project in an earlier posting.)

Paranormalacy by Kiersten White - I loved loved loved this series. At first I didn't connect the two series because they are so different, but Kiersten White really is an amazing author.

Shatter Me by Teherah Mafi - Set in a world where having powers is a bad thing, this dystopian brings its own special power to the YA genre. I really liked this book.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Breathless Reads Book Tour - West Coast Edition.

As I mentioned in my post The Magic of Meeting Authors!, today was the Breathless Reads Book tour visit to Salt Lake City!

I was so excited to be able to attend this event, it always means a lot of me to be able to meet authors. It's my version of going to a concert! (There may be a lot of exclamation points in this post.) I drove about 40 minutes to get to the Barnes and Noble in Orem, where the event was being held and thankfully left early enough that I could be 30 minutes early to the event. While that may not sound like a good thing, trust me it was. By the time it was all said and done it was standing room only and I was lucky enough to have a chair.

I bought my books in advance and thought I had brought too many, seven in total. Fortunately, I hadn't brought the most, the two ladies next to me had 26 books between them! They were very nice ladies and we got the chance to talk before the event, it was nice to actually meet people.

The books I had brought with me:
Legend by Marie Lu
Prodigy by Marie Lu
Rift by Andrea Cremer
Rise by Andrea Cremer
Paper Valentine by Brenda Yovanoff
The Replacements by Brenda Yovanoff
Origin by Jessica Khoury

Ally Condie was a special guest, but I already had signed copies of her Matched Trilogy from an event in November I think it was.

For the first forty minutes it was a Q&A with the authors and we got to learn about their writing process and where they get their ideas. It was funny when they were asked to describe their books or series in 10 words or less. And all five authors had Kissing as one of their words.

Ok, so maybe it was just exciting to me, but these people are magicians to me!

After the Q&A we lined up for the book signing and this made me doubly glad I had gotten there early. Even though we weren't actually in the line, they shuffled it around so those in the chairs were moved to the front of the line since we were all early to the event. I got lucky and was third in line so I didn't have to wait in line forever.

It was amazing to be able to actually talk to authors about mundane things. One topic that came up was the weather in Utah and Andrea Cremer and I were talking about how it really isn't that cold here, not after you have spent winters in -40F. She is originally from northern Minnesota while I lived in Alaska for almost five years.

All of the authors were super nice and liked the idea of my paint chip project. Several of them said they want to see the finished project when it is all done and said I should tag them in a twitter tweet when I finished.

Finally, here are some pictures!

Brenda Yovanoff, Ally Condie, and Andrea Cremer

Andrea Cremer and Marie Lu

Jessica Khoury, Brenda Yovanoff, and Ally Condie

Jessica Khoury, Brenda Yovanoff, and Ally Condie

Six of the seven books I had signed along with paint chips.

Two of the books I had signed along with the paint chip.
My shelf of autographed books!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

This book was another library special. Starting Tuesday Iwill have a few more newly released book reviews, but for now I am sticking with my library and random books.
Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen is a ghost story, though they term it 'energy' in the book.

In Past Midnight we meet Charlotte Silver, a 17 year old girl who is known as the Princess of Paranormal. Charlotte's parents are renowned paranormal investigators and haunting debunkers. What this means for Charlotte though is lots of different schools and summers spent hunting ghosts. Charlotte prefers to spend her time behind the camera instead of in front of it but that doesn't always go well for her. While in Charlotte South Caroline Charlotte and her sister Annaliese are on set to try and summon ghosts to the restaurant that is supposedly haunted.

Fast forward to the start of a new school year and strange things are starting to happen to Charlotte. It is another new school and for once no one has found out who her parents are. But the school has a secret of its own, a mystery of how a star football player died the year before. At the school Charlotte soon becomes friends with Avery, a cheerleader who seems to be at the center of the mystery.
And all the while this is happening, Charlotte finds out that something followed her back from Charlotte, something that might not be friendly.

I thought that while the book felt a bit rushed, it was still a good story. It was a bit tame to qualify as a horror book, even though it did contain ghosts. Overall it was good.

I would rate it a 3.75/5.

Past Midnight Series by Mara Purnhagen - When I started the book I didn't realize it was just the first in a series but now I am hooked.

Deception by Lee Nichols - this is another ghost story, thought more on the paranormal side. In Past Midnight ghosts are residual energy, in Deception they are like living beings, just dead.

Beyond: A Ghost Story by Graham McNamee - This book is more of a traditional ghost story, meant to be a YA horror novel I think. Still, Ghosts.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund is another book that I found randomly browsing my local library's Overdrive site. If you can't tell, that is how I find many of my books. I hadn't really planned on reviewing it, I have a dozen books to write reviews for and I am currently a bit backlogged. But, after adding it to my Goodreads account yesterday I got an email from the author saying hi and it mentioned we have 117 books in common on our lists. Not surprising, her profile does say that she is influenced by Tamora Pierce, my all time favorite author. I thought it would be good to write up a post about Academy 7 and include the link in my response to her email. Cause I am a shameless self promoter like that. And if you couldn't tell by my last post, I am a sucker for getting to interact with authors. They are these mythical beings to me and getting to actually interact with them blows my mind. After all, why would someone so important want anything to do with me, they must have huge amounts of people writing to them or talking to them all the time as is.

And on to the review:
Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund is a futuristic novel that leans heavily on the scifi genre. Which of course I love.  In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Aerin Renning and Dane Madousin, two teens who have recently taken their placement exams and were selected for the best school in the Alliance, Academy 7.

Dane is the son of a top general who is also a member of the Council. Most of his early actions are spawned from a desire to go against his father's wishes, from being a firefighter in the beginning of the book to attending Academy 7, his father's Alma Mater, a place his father hates.
Aerin comes from another world entirely. Aerin's father was a non-Alliance trader who died several years before the beginning of the book and when we meet her she is an escaped slave who was rescued by a space ship that heard her distress call. When she is given the entrance exam she places well, but when she gets to school she is amazed and overwhelmed by everything she doesn't know. Before her rescue she had never even heard of the Alliance.

Dane and Aerin are seemingly opposites who complete in every class. Aerin comes in first with everything except debate, the only place Dane can beat her. Much of the book is  based on this competitiveness and how it affects their interactions.

I thought it was a well developed book though I would have enjoyed a bit more of a back story for both main characters. We see what they are doing in the weeks leading up to the school year, but not much of their lives before then. The only other thing that bugged me a bit, and it wasn't even a big deal, was that the author skipped from a week after Christmas break to the day before the end of the school year, several months later. It would have been nice to see what happened after the fight between the characters but before the final few chapters. I can understand why the author did it, but it still would have been nice to read about those months. If the book is set during a school year, I like to see the full school year.

Overall I would rate this book a 3.75/5. I am very much hoping this book will be the first in a trilogy, since there are three years of schooling for Academy 7.

Aurelia series by Anne Osterlund - If Academy 7 in Osterlund's futuristic novel, Aurelia is her historical novel. OK, really I am just guessing that based on the cover and short description. But, if you liked Academy 7 and Osterlund's writing style, you should check out Aurelia.

Salvation by Anne Osterlund - Osterlund's most recent novel is Salvation, it just came out January 10th.  I haven't read it, but it looks interesting. This one appears to be a modern fiction.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Magic of Meeting Authors!

In early October I moved from the middle of Alaska to Salt Lake City, Utah. I wasn't particularly pleased about the move, I liked living in Alaska and didn't know any one in Utah other than my husband's family.

Two weeks after arriving here I went to my local library to get a few books and ran across the most amazing flyer ever. It was an advertisment for meeting local authors, only the local authors that day? Shannon Hale and Libba Bray!!!! Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors ever. The only problem? The event started at 3 at another library and it was now 3:15. I drove as quickly as I could (while maintaining the legal speed limit) and made it to the other library just in time for the book signing! Sadly I missed the Q&A which was supposed to be awesome, but I was still stoked to get several books signed.

This started me on a journey, I had to find and attend more signings. And I did, I attended quite a few over the next two months until they stopped for the holiday seasons. Actually, the holiday season was pretty awesome. The King's English Bookshop had a holiday party and I got to meet all sorts of authors while there!

After I met Shannon Hale and Libba Bray I had an idea. I wanted a way to display autographs and there really isn't a way to do that when they just sign the inside of the book. My project was born. I took several old books with sentimental meaning that unfortunately had been ruined in the move and I cut out some of my favorite passages. I decoupaged them on to a 12x12 cardboard square as a base for my project. Now, every time I go to a signing or meet an author I ask them to sign a paint chip, a 2x4 paint sample on cardstock. Eventually when I have enough of them I will mount them on the cardboard squares, mat, and frame them for display.
Pictures of the process!

These are the authors that I have met and gotten signatures from:
Brandon Mull
Bree Despain
Michelle Davidson Argyle
James Dashner
Brodi Ashton
Jessica Day George
Jennifer Nielsen
Robinson Wells

There are several more, but unfortunately I have a terrible memory for names.

And more exciting news!
On Saturday I am going to the Breathless Reads Tour at Barnes and Noble in Orem and I will have the chance to meet 5 more authors! I hope that while I am there I can get all my books signed plus the paint chips and not have to stand in line for over an hour per author. But a girl has to do what a girl has to do.
Authors of the West Coast Breathless Reads Tour:
Marie Lu
Jessica Khoury (I am super excited to meet her, I reviewed her book Origin earlier in this blog.)
Andrea Cremer
Brenda Yovanoff

PLUS special guest:
Ally Condie

I actually had the chance to go to an event in November for Ally Condie but unfortunately that day my nanny child decided to spit up all over me and I was not in the mood after that.

I plan on posting pictures after the event!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I am late posting my review of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, I meant to have it done the day I read the book, the day it came out but I got distracted. Oops. Dang books and their addictivness.

I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer a few moons ago and have been not so patiently waiting Scarlet, the sequel. Actually, that has happened with a lot of books for me. I have them all marked on my calendar so I get reminders of when books I have been waiting for get released. It works well.

Anyways, I fell in love with the concept of Cinder, a cyborg Cinderella? It blends my love of scifi/fantasy and new takes on old fairy tales. Of course I wanted to read Scarlet by Marissa Meyer which continues on with the story of Cinderella and adds Little Red Riding Hood to the mix.

Sadly, I do have a negative thing to say about Scarlet. I got it in ebook format for my Nook app and I was very disappointed with the formatting. Instead of having the writing fill the page it was in column format and on my phone that ended up only having a few sentences per page. I had to make the font a smaller size than I usually prefer to fit more than a few sentences per page. It was rather annoying. But that was my only real complaint about the book.

In Scarlet we are introduced to Scarlet Benoit, granddaughter of Michelle Benoit. Michelle runs a farm in France with the help of Scarlet, but two weeks before the start of the book Michelle Benoit goes missing. The police have given up, assuming that it was a suicide or that Michelle Benoit simply ran off, leaving Scarlet to find her mother on her own. A few chapters in Scarlet meets Wolf, a street fighter with a mysterious past and an unusual tattoo. After Wolf protects Scarlet in a bar fight, she offers him a job on the farm. Several days later when her absentee father shows up at the farm looking for something that Michelle Benoit had hidden, Scarlet finds out that her grandmother has been kidnapped by the mysterious Order of the Pack, or the Wolves. When Scarlet learns about the Wolves, she goes to Wolf, who offers to help her find her grandmother.

At the same time all this is happening there is a second story, this one about Cinder. At the end of the first book, Cinder is locked in a jail after finding out that she isn't who she was raised to believe she is. Cinder contrives to escape from jail with the help of her new cyborg hand and a criminal she meets in another cell. Former Cadet Thorne, who now goes by Captain Thorne, is in jail for dereliction of duty, going awol and stealing an American Military spaceship. Cinder takes Captain Thorne with her after finding out he still has the ship in hiding. She and Thorne take off to avoid being recaptured and to find out more about her past.

I thought this was an excellent sequel and better than the first book. I liked Scarlet as a character and loved Iko, an android from the first book, being uploaded as the computer in Thorne's ship.

I would rate this a 3.5 out of 5. It got a lower rating because of the annoying formatting in the ebook format.

Cinder by Marissa Meyers - To understand what is going on in the second book, you should really read the first book. Plus it's Cinderella meets cyborgs.

Princess series by Jessica Day George - a series of books that blends fairy tales together. The most recent book in the series is Princess of the Silver Woods, another version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George

Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George has been sitting on my shelf and staring at me since I got it... I have a valid reason for this, I swear. I was lucky enough to attend the launch party for Princess of the Silver Woods and I got an autographed copy while there. This is the reason I didn't read it until yesterday.. I didn't want to ruin my awesome, personalized, autographed copy! I actually have almost a full shelf of books that I want to read but I don't want to damage the books.
I finally read it because I got a Barnes and Noble giftcard and I really have been dying to read the book. I loved the first two in the series and I was excited for this one.

So Tuesday I read Scarlet by Marissa Meyers and Wednesday (yesterday) I read Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George. I am on a bit of a Little Red Riding Hood kick right now, I want to find a third book to complete my readings.. (but instead I will settle for reading Aesop's Fables for my lit class.)

I was very impressed with Princess of the Silver Woods. It continues on with the theme of the previous two books in the series, Princess of the Midnight Ball and Princess of Glass. In Princess of the Midnight Ball we are introduced to the twelve dancing princesses. Each night they go to bed and in the morning it is discovered that all of their dancing slippers have been worn through. Galen, a soldier, works to save the twelve sisters including Rose, the oldest. In Princess of Glass we continue on in the fairy tales and focus on Poppy, who has been sent to Briton as part of a princess exchange program. For Princess of Glass we see the aftereffects of the twelve dancing princesses and it intertwines with Cinderella.

In Princess of the Silver Woods we truely meet Petunia for the first time. She is the youngest of the twelve dancing sisters and was only seven during Princess of the Midnight Ball. Now sixteen she has blossomed (pun intended) in to a beautiful young woman reading to make her own path in life. She loves to garden and knows how to handle a gun. When her coach is set upon by bandits known as the Wolves of Westfall she puts a gun in the face of a bandit and gets away. Unfortunately he coach crashes not much farther down the road and she is taken hostage by the head bandit. But this isn't the story of her being taken captive. Instead this is the story of what happens when the Twelve Dancing Daughters meet the sons of the Nine Daughters of Russaka

I very much enjoyed this book, I don't want to tell any more of the plot for fearing I might give it away.
I rate this a 4.5 out of 5! I wish there were going to be more books in this series, I really do.

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George - This is the first book in the Princess of the Midnight Ball series. You really need to read the books in order to get the full effect.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George - This is the second book in the series, again, awesome awesome books.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer - This book is a spin on Cinderella set well in the future where Cinder is a cyborg and a mechanic. I really liked this book and if you like books that take fairy tales and turn them in to something new, this would be a good one to read.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? This is the sequel to Cinder and actually just came out this week. I enjoyed Scarlet more than Cinder, but they are both pretty awesome. You will be able to see my review for Scarlet soon, I just have to type it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Hey look, its the third book in the Last Survivors Trilogy!
You can find my review of book two here.

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer takes place several months after the end of The Dead and the Gone. In this book we are back in Pennsylvania with Miranda and her family from the first book.

Their world is still in chaos after an asteroid has impacted on the moon and moved it closer to Earth. In the first book we see what Miranda, her mother, and her two brothers have to do to survive and in the second book we follow Alex Morales and his family. And in the third book we find out what happens when these two families collide.

After a hard winter it is finally spring. While the sky is still gray from volcanic ash, the snow has turned to rain and the fish are running in the river nearby. Things are looking good for Miranda and her family until a group of survivors ring their doorbell and their supplies start to run short.

This book was a pretty satisfying to end to the trilogy -- only, hold your horses, there is going to be a fourth book!

In reality, I think I would have been very disappointed if I hadn't known there would be a fourth book. While the book ended fairly well it seemed more like the middle of a longer book.

I still thouroughly enjoyed This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I would rate it a 3.75/5 and I definitely plan on reading the fourth book in the series which is out later this year.

Recommended books:
The Last Survivors series by Susan Beth Pfeffer - This series is pretty awesome about a post apocalyptic life.

The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer - This is the next book in the series that is supposed to come out in September 2013. It takes place two years after This World We Live in and focuses on Miranda's younger brother Jon.