Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Ten Oldest Books on My Shelves That I Haven't Read Yet


I've recently gone through my bookshelves to kind of cull my collection and to get rid of some books I didn't like. One of my younger cousins was helping in exchange for the YA books I was getting rid of and she made the comment that I had some really old books on my shelves. I'm a scientist and a serial inventorist when it comes to my books so I have records of when I bought each book. Let's just say I was floored when I saw just how many unread books I had on my shelves that I had bought over five years ago. My cousin kind of shamed me for it. So in an effort to motivate myself to finally get these read, I figured I would share a list of the books I've had on my shelves the longest.


1. Legend by Marie Lu (2011)
I'm ashamed that I haven't read this yet. I bought shortly after it came out because I was in a read all the dystopians mode. Unfortunately, I burned out on the genre before I ever made it to this one so it's sat on my shelves for almost seven years and has moved across the country three times.


2. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (2006)
I bought this after binge reading the Sandman comics with the bestie to read together and we never got to it because college got in the way. I really need to read this now that there's a mini-series being made of it.


3. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (2012)
I bought this book the day it came out because I was so excited to see how this series of companion novels played out. I read about 25 pages and had to put it down because I moved the next day and I never picked it up again. I'm really ashamed that I haven't read this one yet.


4. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (2005)
I received this book from my BFF's grandma when we graduated from high school and I still haven't read it. It's been 13 years. Please forgive me, Nana! I can't even tell you why I haven't read it yet. I just haven't.

 

5. The Hob's Bargain by Patricia Briggs (2010)
I bought this after I ran out of Mercy Thompson books when I first binged the series. Sadly, it got forgotten about as I discovered other urban fantasy series. Someone recently told me that it was Briggs's version of a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I think I need that in my life like ASAP.


6. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley (2003)
This is the only unread Robin McKinley book I have on my shelves and I've had it for a long, long time. And I honestly can't tell you why I haven't read it yet. Maybe it's because once it's read I will be out of McKinley books until she publishes more. That's probably the reason.


7. Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede (2009)
This book is like the previous one where it's the last unread book I have by the author and I just can't bring myself to read it and be out of Wrede books.


8. Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (2012)
I bought this book the year it came out simply because it had a sword coming out of a book and a glowing spider on the cover. I still haven't read it but I've heard excellent things about the whole series.


9. Kindling the Moon by Jenn Bennett (2011)
Funny story. I actually picked this book up at a comic convention soon after it came out. I really didn't know what it was about but I brought it home and put it on the shelf. Since then, I've collected the other books in the series and have read most of her other books. This might be cheating but I'm currently reading this one right now and it's been excellent so far!


10. Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier (2009)
I bought this book as a reward for getting through one of my toughest semesters as an undergrad. Sadly, it went into a box soon after and wasn't found until I moved again almost three years later. So I still need to read it. It'll be my first Marillier book once I get to it and I'm still excited about the premise all these years later.

What books have been on your shelves the longest?



Monday, May 21, 2018

Weres Wanna Know: Is anyone else confused about New Adult?



I think I first heard the term New Adult five or six years ago when Jeaniene Frost was writing The Beautiful Ashes. The first NA I read was probably Cecy Robson's Shattered Past series, which has lots of sex and other "adult subject matter" like abuse. (If you like to cry, check these out. They're intense!) It was my understanding that what made something NA was a college age - let's say 18-24 year old - protagonist. And I've read a few college romances, which also had lots of sexual content, that reinforced that.

I actually started to think NA = lots of sex. I mean, lots of people have lots of sex in college so it made sense. The Beautiful Ashes was re-released with a new cover that looked like adult PNR because lots of people thought it was YA. And I figured that was a problem because of the adult content in the series, though I don't think there was much in that first book.

About two years ago I reviewed a book with an 18 year old heroine who had already graduated from high school and a 20 year old hero. And I spent a ton of time trying to figure out why it came from a YA publisher when it was obviously an NA book. Was it because there's no sex? Because all the NA I had read had lots of sex. (I do understand that's not really the definition of the genre so don't @ me.)

I don't think I'm the only one who's about confused this. I've seen so many comments about how the ACOTAR series has so much sex for YA. And then I read something that called it NA and I had an epiphany. One, that would explain why everyone comments on all the sex. And two, NA comes from both YA and adult publishers. That second one kind of blew my mind.

But now how am I supposed to know what to call any given book? I've read some UF with nineteen year old heroines, like Hailey Edwards Black Dog series, and tagged the reviews as New Adult Urban Fantasy - that one seems pretty easy. But what about the ones from YA publishers? I have no idea. The main character's age is usually in the blurb, but now we need more information.

I read a Twitter thread not too long ago that claimed YA is about finding out who you are and NA is about finding your place in the world. That sounds good, but then I might not know which one it is until after I read the book. And if NA also has all the sex, how am I supposed to know if my twelve year old should read it unless I read it first? I don't actually have a twelve year old, but you get the point. Plus, now I'm afraid I can't even tag my review correctly!

princess bride Theatre & Musicals GIF

I think that the genre has evolved in the last six years. But that really only makes it more confusing. There are lots of NA releases without a lot of sex in them. Maybe they have more cursing - like how a certain number of F-bombs automatically gets an R rating? And I can name a handful of adult books with teen protagonists that muddy the waters even more. Maybe it all depends on the marketing? Honestly, the more I analyze it, the less clear the definition gets.

And does it really matter? For teens, I think it does. For my own reading, probably not. I'm going to read what sounds good to me regardless of what label you put on it. And I'm not sensitive to sexual or violent content. But I'm a word person and it bothers me when labels are used incorrectly. It's worse if I'm the one doing it wrong because that's my thing. But sure, let's keep changing how we use the term. Aaah!



And don't even get me started on this, which actually means "New Releases in Adult Fiction."

Is anyone else confused about New Adult?





We’re participating in the 2018 Discussion Challenge hosted by It Starts at Midnight and Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Go check out all the May discussions!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis


By Fire Above
(Signal Airship #2)
Robyn Bennis
Release: May 15, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
"All's fair in love and war," according to airship captain Josette Dupre, until her hometown becomes occupied by the enemy and her mother a prisoner of war. Then it becomes, "Nothing's fair except bombing those Vins to high hell."

Before she can rescue her town, however, Josette must maneuver her way through the nest of overstuffed vipers that make up the nation's military and royal leaders in order to drum up support. The foppish and mostly tolerated crew member Lord Bernat steps in to advise her, along with his very attractive older brother.

Between noble scheming, under-trained recruits, and supply shortages, Josette and the crew of the Mistral figure out a way to return to Durum―only to discover that when the homefront turns into the frontlines, things are more dangerous than they seem.

Review:
One of my favorite under the radar books last year was The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis so it's not a stretch to say that I've been anxiously awaiting the sequel, By Fire Above. It was everything I wanted it to be. It started up a bit slow because Josette needed a crash course in royal politics from Lord Bernat (aka Bernie) but it quickly morphed into the fast-paced adventure novel I was anticipating as the crew of the Mistral take part in a plan to retake the city of Durum. I was on the edge of my seat reading the last half of this book. It about gave me a heart attack but I couldn't put it down!

There's a lot of praise I could heap on this book because it really was brilliant but the thing that pleased me the most was how much the characters have grown in such a short period of time. Josette is finally becoming comfortable in her role as the captain and it’s obvious to why the crew of the Mistral trusts and willingly follows her. I think the one character whose arc surprised me the most was Bernie. I enjoyed his character in the first book but I adored him in this book! He's still a bit foppish and ridiculous but he is the perfect foil to Josette's character! And can we talk about the banter between those two? Because OMG! This book has some A+ banter. Bernie totally stole the show for me this time around.

This series is the best kind of military fantasy and I've enjoyed the heck out of it! It's the perfect balance of steampunk and military adventure in my eyes. While I still enjoyed the science of the airships and the descriptions of the tech, my favorite part of this book was the airship battles. They were brutal and chaotic and absolutely perfectly paced. They are seriously perfect. The combination of interesting characters, Napoleonic warfare, and airships made for a great story and I'm intrigued to see what will happen next! I need a book three so badly!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

   
  4 / 5 Stars



My reviews of other books in this series:
The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Manga Reviews: Otaku and Male Cheerleaders


Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku, Vol. 1
(Wotakoi: Otaku Can't Fall in Love #1)
Fujita
Release: April 17, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
The awkward, romantic comedy manga about geeks in love that inspired the new anime! Can a professional man who's secretly a hardcore gamer and a woman who's secretly a fujoshi date without their hobbies getting in the way, or revealing each other's secrets?

Extra-long book includes 2 Japanese volumes!


GAMES OVER ROMANCE

Narumi Momose has had it rough: Every boyfriend she's had dumped her once they found out she was an otaku, so she's gone to great lengths to hide it. When a chance meeting at her new job with childhood friend, fellow otaku, and now coworker Hirotaka Nifuji almost gets her secret outed at work, she comes up with a plan to make sure he never speaks up. But he comes up with a counter-proposal: Why doesn't she just date him instead?

In love, there are no save points.

Review:
One of my favorite animes this season is Wotakoi so when I saw the first volume up on Netgalley I requested it so fast I gave my mouse whiplash. I loved it! I don't think I've related this hard to a manga in forever.

Wotakoi is the slice-of-life office romance manga that I never knew I needed! I seriously loved everything about it! I really enjoyed the fact that the romances are between people in their mid-to-late 20s but it also did an excellent job showing older otaku in a positive light! Being in my early 30s myself, it was really refreshing to see representation of anime/manga fans, cosplayers, and video gamers that I could relate more to. After reading it, I can see why this series has been so popular in Japan. I'm so glad that it's finally been translated to English!

I love the romance between Narumi and Hirotaka! They've been friends since they were kids so they know a lot about each other. I found it charming that as well as they know each other they have to start at ground zero romantically. It was fun watching them learn about one another on a such a different level. It's been a while since I've laughed this hard while reading a manga.

Good news! The other romance between Kabakura and Koyanagi is just as good! They are the other couple's work and otaku buddies. They have a slightly different romance since they have been dating since high school. Unlike Narumi and Hirotaka, they know each other completely and their slightly antagonistic romance was adorable. One of my favorite parts was watching them trying to help the other two with their relationship.

The illustrations were beautiful and the storyline was quirky and different! And it had so many fun otaku references. Plus, all of the BL side jokes and gaming references were awesome for this otaku. Overall, the whole thing just cracked me up! If you're looking for a cute and nerdy office romance, I can't recommend this manga enough! I can't wait to get my hands on volume two!

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley

    
  5 / 5 Stars!!!


Again!!, Vol. 1
(Again!! #1)
Mitsuro Kubo
Release: February 27, 2018
From the co-creator of surprise anime megahit Yuri!!! on Ice comes a dramatic, funny, time-traveling high school story about what it means to cheer on a friend! What would you do if you had the chance to do everything… again?

Kinichiro isn’t even that bad. It’s just that on the first day of high school, his eyes made him look shifty, so people assumed he was trouble. Now it’s graduation, and he’s looking back on three years with no friends. He never even joined a club. But after a bloody collision and an accidental fall, he wakes up a high school freshman, with the chance to try it all over… AGAIN!!
!

Review:
When I saw that one of the co-creators of Yuri on Ice was working on a new manga, I knew I had to read it! This manga is quite different from Kubo's most recent/popular work, but I found the premise interesting. What if you went through high school as an outsider and had an opportunity to go back in time and redo it over again? Would you change things?

I'm a huge fan of underdog/outsider stories and this manga didn't disappoint that way. As a first volume, it's not quite as inviting as Yuri was and honestly if it were an anime, it'd be one of those shows where I'm on the fence about it for a few episodes before quitting it.

There's a lot going on in this first volume with introducing you to characters, time traveling, and whatever the heck Ouendan actually is. It's kind of like the Japanese version cheerleading but with a lot more drums and less acrobatics. My problem with this volume is that it's definitely a case of too much information all at once and it took me away from the story. I did found some of the characters annoying but I'm all for the changes Kinichiro is making and I kind of want to know what happens after that cliffhanger. I think it's going to be one of those manga series where all the set up happens in the first volume and it gets really good after that.

Honestly, I thought it was okay but I was interested in the characters by the end. I'll be picking up the second volume at one point but I don't know when.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley


  
  3 / 5 Stars


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

We Love Lists: Books I Want to Read by the Pool This Summer


It's that time of year again where we all start thinking about the books we want to read at the beach or, in my case, by the pool. Normally, I'm all about reading urban fantasy by the water but this year I'm really feeling the itch to read some contemporary books. And I have a ton of unread ones on my bookshelves and my kindle that will be perfect pool side reads! Here are the books I want to get to while on vacation this summer.

 
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

The main characters in this book are said to have had the most awkward meet cute ever. Also, they get to know one another via text message and I am here for it! It just sounds like a YA romance that is super applicable to today.

 
American Panda by Gloria Chao

The main character is Taiwanese-American and her parents want her to become a doctor. The problem is that she's a germaphobe. I'm totally here for the family dynamics in this one! I also hear that the romance is adorable.

 
From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

I adored Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi last year so it just makes sense to read her sophomore novel. The main character is a female filmmaker and I'm kind of getting You've Got Mail vibes from the synopsis. The story is told through letters, emails, and journals entries and I'm always down for that kind of narrative. I can't wait for it to hit my kindle at the end of the month.

 
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

I adore Jenn Bennett's books but I'm so excited for her enemies-to-lovers/lost in wilderness romance! I really don't know more than that about it but it's all I need to know.

 
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

I'm so excited to read this book! I wanted to know more about Leah while I was reading Simon vs and now I get too! I'm also really excited for my faves to make their reappearances in this book!

 
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I've been meaning to read this book for years now but just haven't gotten to it even though I've owned it for years. I haven't read many books with an office romance so I'm intrigued to read it. I'm also intrigued by a romance where the IT main character falls for the love interest before they even meet by reading her email attachments. It's just so unique and sounds right up my alley!

 
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Thanks to Geekerella, I'm on the look out for more romances that take place at conventions and this one just sounds awesome! It goes for the double whammy with two love stories and one of them is a F/F romance and I need more of those in my life!

 
Roomies by Christina Lauren

I've only read one book by the writing duo, Christina Lauren, and that was Autoboyography. I loved it so when I was going through their other books for what to read next this one caught my eye. It features a marriage of convenience and Broadway. I'm super intrigued about that combination and can't wait to read it.

 
Small Change by Roan Parrish

I read and adored Roan Parrish's The Remaking of Corbin Wale last year and my friend, Meghan, assures me that this is the next book by her I need to read. The romance is between a female tattoo artist and a male coffee shop owner. Plus, the second book is a M/M romance and you all know how much I adore those!

 Royals by Rachel Hawkins

I haven't caught the Royal Wedding Fever yet but I will say that this book sounds hella fun! I was sold from the moment Rachel Hawkins said she wrote a book about a Scottish Royal Family and the American one marrying into it. I just heard lots of good things about it.
Check out Gretl's review.

What books do you want to read by the pool this summer?



Monday, May 7, 2018

Review: The Hero Within by Bec McMaster


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The Hero Within
(Wasted Lands #3)
Bec McMaster
Release: April 20, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the author 
Can this villain become her hero? 

As the only healer in a war-stained town, Eden McClain is devastated when the Salt Plague sweeps through the wastelands she calls home. Suddenly she's racing against time to save her people–and her niece–before it's too late. When she hears whispers of a cure, she knows she can't cross the dangerous Wastelands by herself to get it. She needs a guide. And she's just desperate enough to turn to a man who once betrayed her.

Redemption comes at a price… 

After years of living on the leash of a dangerous psychopath, Johnny Colton is finally free, but that doesn't mean he can wash the blood off his hands. The easiest way to deal with the past? Just stop caring. Which is working perfectly for the rugged outlaw, until a beautiful ghost from the past rigs a trap for him.

The last person he wants to see is the woman who haunts his dreams, but as Eden points out, he owes her one. The only problem is that the people with the cure might also have created the plague, and deliberately unleashed it. It's a dangerous trap, and the only way to escape it is for two past enemies to learn to trust each other. 
Review:

The Hero Within is easily my favorite book in the Wasted Lands series. It’s an Enemies to Lovers story, which is my fave. It’s also a road trip story, my other fave. (Actually there's kind of a tournament in there too, which rounds out my top three.) It takes readers across the divide between the wasteland where the other books are set and the Confederacy, into one of the border cities. I knew from earlier books that this part of the world existed, but I loved actually seeing it.

My favorite thing though was learning more about the Wargs. Johnny Colton is a little different than the heroes in the first two books since his parents were also Wargs. He’s more in control of his beast and knows something about how Wargs were created. But they meet some other characters on their journey who fill in all the blanks. They’re a lot more like we expect werewolves to be, which I might have liked to know earlier.

It also makes this feel more like a traditional shifter romance, which could be part of the reason I like it so much. There's none of that alpha-hole behavior that's been bothering me in shifter books lately though - Colton's big on consent. I really enjoyed his dynamic with Eden, as well as the chance to see his side of the incident that made them enemies initially, which is described from a different POV in the previous book.

The events in the earlier books play an important part in the story, both the shared history of the three heroes and the times where Colton popped up in the other stories. I enjoyed seeing the characters reconcile some of their differences. Part of Eden’s involvement in that history was new and made the romance feel more natural.

In some ways, I would have liked Eden and Colton's story to start the series. So many of my world building questions finally got answered. I'm happy to have those answers either way. And I'm happy with where these characters wound up.

Recommended for fans of: Keri Arthur’s Outcast series, The 100


    
 stars

My reviews of other books in this series:
The Last True Hero


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