Saturday, August 04, 2018

Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


Synopsis:

Love, life, dreams, and a world beyond reach.

Amelia dreams of Mars. The Mars of the movies and the imagination, an endless bastion of opportunities for a colonist with some guts. But she’s trapped in Mexico City, enduring the drudgery of an unkind metropolis, working as a rent-a-friend, selling her blood to old folks with money who hope to rejuvenate themselves with it, enacting a fractured love story. And yet there’s Mars, at the edge of the silver screen, of life. It awaits her.

This novella length story set in a future where we have traveled to and colonized Mars is packed full of the desperation that many are feeling right now. It is the story of a young woman who put everything she dreamed of on hold to care for a sick parent, then never was able to pick it back up again after that parent passed, with a sister who takes her presence for granted, but tries to make her feel like the leech.  It is the story of a woman who finally takes her life back, with help from an unexpected source, in spite of everyone trying to convince her it's a bad idea, for their own reasons, not hers. 

While I cannot say this was a fun read, if you are expecting a sci-fi story about Mars, this is not the place, it was well done and evokes the emotions that the character is feeling so well.  Your heart just aches for Amelia, who can never seem to win, and constantly does for others, only to be chastised and unappreciated at every turn. 

I gave this a 4/5, and look forward to reading more from Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  I was very affected by the slice of a life she crafted here.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

Synopsis:

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

I am a long time fan of Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series so I was excited to try something different from her. I was not disappointed! Far from the humorous adventures of the Pink Carnation's compatriots, this is a historical mystery that kept me guessing until the end!

The story vacillates from the past to the present, finally meeting in the middle as the murder is solved much differently that I expected!  The characters are well crafted, as are the elements of their lives, helping to create the tension and make you wonder what really happened!  I was interested from beginning to end, and still not entirely convinced about how the ending truly stands. 

I gave this a 5/5, I definitely need to read more of Lauren Willig's non-Carnation books!

The King of Bones and Ashes by J. D. Horn

From Goodreads:

Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches.


The King of Bones and Ashes is an atmospheric story filled with mystery, voodoo and different types of magic. There is a lot packed in, and I can't help but compare it to Anne Rice's The Witching Hour, which is what I was hoping for, though not quite what I got. This story builds slowly, with a lot of character set up, starting in the past to set the stage and moving to the present where family rivalries and grudges are in full swing. Most of the action happens towards the end, so I expect that book two will not have the time dedicated to set up that this first book had. While I did enjoy it, some elements were confusing, and I feel that some were not as fully fleshed out as they needed to be. While the write up leads you to believe Alice is the main character, it really skips around between several stories, and Alice isn't as strong of a character as I would have liked. I'm mildly interested to see where it goes next, but I'm not sure I was as drawn in as by the author's Witching Savannah series of which I've read The Line and the Source, which I do intend to continue.

There is a lot of interest here, it may just be a little slower to get going. 3/5 stars.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Synopsis:

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...


Publication Date: January 2nd, 2018
Imprint: Disney-Hyperion
Publisher: Disney Book Group
Genre: Teens & YA/Sci-Fi
Received From: Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback
My Rating: 4/5

An archaeology adventure on another planet? I am in!

This was a fun, fast paced, puzzle-solving story, full of difficult decisions, secrets kept and revealed, betrayals, new alliances and more!  I enjoyed the characters and the setting, though a few things seemed too convenient, that was probably also on purpose to make you think hmmm... something funny is going on here! I'm interested to see what happens next!



Tuesday, January 23, 2018

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

Synopsis:

What if you could ask for anything- and get it?

In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.

Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.


Publication Date: January 2nd, 2018
Imprint: Sourcebooks Fire
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Teens & YA/Sci-Fi
Received From: Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback
My Rating: 4/5

I would like to provide a trigger warning for attempted suicide in the content of this book.

As You Wish is based on such an interesting concept, one that I'm sure we've all considered, being able to wish for our hearts desire and have it come true. But how many of us have truthfully followed the ideas of our wishes all the way through to consider how they might have come out? That maybe it won't turn out exactly how we hoped? That maybe you should be careful what you wish for?  We're safe in our musings because there is no magical way for those wishes to happen so we're not bound by the consequences of just daydreaming.  Not so for the people of Madison.

Just like in life trying to decide what to do with your life,  go to college, start working immediately?  Are you really ready to make that life-changing to decision at 18?  Yet that is when you must make your wish, and live with whatever it brings.  I enjoyed the examination of the different wishes and how they turned out.  Many were selfish and short sighted, but we're human after all, and at 18 most of us are not equipped to be able to craft a wish that covers all the bases, that plans for every outcome that needs to be avoided. 

I was wary going in from the other varied reviews I was seeing, people either seemed to love it or hate it, and I was pleasantly surprised at how thoroughly and thoughtfully this story covered the premise of wishing and all the ways it might come out.  Our main character Eldon is flawed, as we all are, and struggling with what he wants, vs. what his family wants, a true trauma, and with just being a teenager growing up and all the social pressures that come along with that.  He doesn't make the best decisions, many of the characters don't, and the final outcome is not necessarily the best one for all involved, or in the mind of the reader, but it certainly provides a lot of food for thought. 

Overall I thought it was a well told and interesting story that made me think and pulled on my heart strings.  I appreciate the opportunity to review it!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Winner! -- My Best Read of 2017 Giveaway




The votes are in and you all picked The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood as my best read of 2017! I won't lie, it was a pretty frightening and intense book, I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the Hulu series of it yet!



The book with the next highest votes was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which was also just excellent and I cannot recommend it enough! 



 


  The Winner of my contest is *drumroll* .... Rachelle B. who said agreed The Handmaid's Tale was my best read in 2017, and chose to win Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman! 

Congrats Rachelle!  I have e-mailed you to work out the details of your win! 




Thank you to everyone who entered!  I had a great reading year in 2017, and I can't wait to see what my best read for 2018 will be!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Best Reads of 2017 - A Giveaway!

So life happened, and the rest of my polls didn't, so I made some executive decisions and have a best book for each month! Giveaway incoming! This is a two-parter, you're going to tell me which book was the best of the year, and then you're going to tell me which one you'd like to win if you are chosen! So it's a choose your own giveaway!

The chosen winner will have their choice between a US Kindle copy or a physical copy from The Book Depository or Amazon (my choice which vendor), please note that the cover may vary as I will choose the most economical version of the book for myself to send.  Thank you!

This Giveaway will be open Through Saturday January 20th, 2018! 

Your choices are (with links to their Goodreads pages):

January

Vicious
by V. E. Schwab

February

The Handmaid's Tale
by Margaret Atwood

March

Between the World
and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates
 April

Norse Mythology
by Neil Gaiman
May

The Fifth Season
by N. K. Jemisin
June

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas
July

Eliza and Her
Monsters

by Francesca Zappia
August

Binti: Home
by Nnedi Okorafor

September

Sorcerer to the Crown
by Zen Cho


October

The Tethered Mage
by Melissa Caruso



November

Beasts of
Extraordinary
Circumstance

by Ruth Emmie
Lang
December

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
by Jennifer Ryan





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Saturday, January 06, 2018

Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini

Synopsis:

The only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the most brilliant, revered, and scandalous of the Romantic poets, Ada was destined for fame long before her birth. Estranged from Ada’s father, who was infamously “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Ada’s mathematician mother is determined to save her only child from her perilous Byron heritage. Banishing fairy tales and make-believe from the nursery, Ada’s mother provides her daughter with a rigorous education grounded in mathematics and science. Any troubling spark of imagination—or worse yet, passion or poetry—is promptly extinguished. Or so her mother believes.

When Ada is introduced into London society as a highly eligible young heiress, she at last discovers the intellectual and social circles she has craved all her life. Little does she realize that her delightful new friendship with inventor Charles Babbage—brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly—will shape her destiny. Intrigued by the prototype of his first calculating machine, the Difference Engine, and enthralled by the plans for his even more advanced Analytical Engine, Ada resolves to help Babbage realize his extraordinary vision, unique in her understanding of how his invention could transform the world. All the while, she passionately studies mathematics—ignoring skeptics who consider it an unusual, even unhealthy pursuit for a woman—falls in love, discovers the shocking secrets behind her parents’ estrangement, and comes to terms with the unquenchable fire of her imagination.

Publication Date: December 5th, 2017
Imprint: Dutton
Publisher: Penguin Group Dutton
Genre: Historical Fiction
Received From: Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback
My Rating: 4/5

This cover is gorgeous and I was interested to find out more about Ada Lovelace's work with Charles Babbage as I knew they were associated, but only vaguely.  This was a slow read for me, tedious at times as so much of it is Ada, alone with her governesses or her mother's friends, angry and lonely, a brilliant mind with not enough to keep it busy.  She did not have an exciting life, and was often ill, but in spite of being the daughter of a wealthy mother, she was nearly a prisoner, as her mother sought to keep her from falling prey to her bad Byron blood, by keeping her imagination reined in.  Luckily her mother did approve studies in math and science, or the world might not be where we are now!

This is my first read by Chiaverini, but I am interested in more.  While it was not a quick and smooth read, as I mentioned above parts were somewhat tedious as there was much description of not a lot happening, that does serve to give an idea of how Ada herself must have felt, wanting so badly to experience life and being held in check by her mother's fears that she will turn out like her father.  Apparently I was the only person who didn't already know that Lord Byron the poet was her father!

I think lovers of historical fiction with an interest in Ada Lovelace's life will enjoy this, it is not heavy in actual math and science, but more description of Ada's experiences and interests in those studies and relationships with some of the great minds of the time.  The Analytical and Difference Engines of Babbage are mentioned, and described in a way that a person not familiar with them should be able to follow along and have a good idea why they were important. Even though it is told from Ada's point of view, there is a lot of set up from before her birth and while she was very young that helps to establish her mother's feelings about her father, which will in turn affect Ada's entire life.  Her story is often a sad and lonely one, but then I wonder, had she not been watched so closely and kept focused on math and science, but allowed more freedom of imagination, what might she have done instead with her brilliant and all too short life? Would we have computers as we now know them?


Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Best Read of August 2017 - A Poll Off!

It's always hard to decide what the best books you've read in a year are.  We can look at our ratings, but those may change depending on our mood. It's really hard to compare some of those books against each other, especially when you've read them months apart, or they are on completely different subjects.

I'm going to have a friendly competition between the books I've read this year and see what YOU think was my best read in 2017.  I'm going to post a poll for each month of the year, with the books I've read in one list for you to vote on, so that by the end of the year, I'll have 12 books for a final poll to decide what the best book I've read this year was, according to you! There may even be a giveaway at the end!

Starting the first week of October, I will post a month's worth of books every week to be voted on, with the winner for that week going on the final list.

Here are the books I read in August, covers and links to Goodreads will be below the poll itself so you don't have to scroll if you already know your answer!  It's okay if you haven't read any of them, just pick the one that sounds the most appealing to you!

Update: I got a little behind on making polls, and there will be a giveaway at the end, so if you haven't read any of these, please still vote for the one that interests you the most. Chaos voting is okay! ;)

Create your own user feedback survey


by Tamora Pierce
by Neil Gaiman
by Yoon Ha Lee
by Kauffman
and Kristoff
by Eddie Izzard
by Cat Winters
by Nnedi Okorafor
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