Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Shootout Solution by Michael R. Underwood


Synopsis:
Leah Tang just died on stage. Well, not literally. Not yet.

Leah's stand-up career isn't going well. But she understands the power of fiction, and when she's offered employment with the mysterious Genrenauts Foundation, she soon discovers that literally dying on stage is a hazard of the job!

Her first assignment takes her to a Western world. When a cowboy tale slips off its rails, and the outlaws start to win, it's up to Leah - and the Genrenauts team - to nudge the story back on track and prevent a catastrophe on Earth.

But the story's hero isn't interested in winning, and the safety of Earth hangs in the balance...

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
As the end of the year draws closer, I find myself reading more and more books off of my TBR, which I am very proud of. I feel like the more of my TBR I read by the end of the year, the more I will be able to experience new books in 2019. Last year, I read Michael R. Underwood's Geekomancy series and loved it. This year, I got his Genrenauts series, and recently had the chance to read the first book. I really enjoyed it.

One of the things that I loved about the first book in the series, The Shootout Solution, was that it was so unique. I know this might sound cliche, but I don't think I've ever read anything like it before. The author not only had to do some world building, but he also had to do some more world building within that world. It was almost like there were two settings because of the unique way the premise is presented. He pulled it off very well. He also created a great cast of characters. I found myself caring for them almost instantly, and being concerned for what was going to happen to them. Not only was I emotionally involved in the main character, Leah, but I really liked the side characters as well. That can be hard for a writer to do at times, but Michael R. Underwood nailed it.

I did have a couple of problems with The Shootout Solution. The western world was a bit too over the top and cliche at times. It made sense for the plot, but it still made me want to roll my eyes at times when I was reading. My other problem was that the book was boring at times. Don't get me wrong, like I said, the premise is one of the most interesting things I've heard of in a long time. However, there were certain parts, especially in the middle, where I found myself losing concentrating, and daydreaming while I was reading. I had to reread a couple paragraphs several times because I just couldn't focus on what was going on.

I found The Shootout Solution to be an enjoyable first book in what I'm sure will become a fantastic series. As soon as I finished the book, I immediately downloaded the second one. I had to know right away what other worlds the Generenauts were going to go to, and what other adventures they were going to get into. I foresee myself binge reading the rest of this series back to back if the other books are as good as The Shootout Solution. 


I give The Shootout Solution: 3.5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: http://michaelrunderwood.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelRUnderwoodAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MikeRUnderwood
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5820379.Michael_R_Underwood

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

I, Girl X by Annalise Grey


Synopsis:
Carleigh is a 14 year-old girl trying to carve her own place in this world. Her younger brother's mental illness is slowly invading every aspect of her life.

Her family is troubled. Friendships are unbearable. And just when calm begins to seem possible, one night will change Carleigh, and her family, forever.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Years ago, I read Annalise Grey's book, Gettysburg After Dark, and really enjoyed it. Ever since I finished it, I've been wanting to pick up more books by her. Recently, I finally had the opportunity to read I, Girl X. I loved it.

I thought I, Girl X was a beautiful, thought provoking story. We as readers don't often get to see what happens to the siblings of people with mental health issues, and how it affects their lives. It really puts things into perspective. I found Carleigh's story to be absolutely heartbreaking. I think Annalise Grey took the subject matter, and wrote about it in such a way that it was a true learning experience. While reading, I could feel Carleigh's emotions. It was almost like I was there beside her, experiencing what she was going through. It takes a very talented writer to do that. I also learned a lot about the specific mental illness that her brother, Carson, has. I didn't know much about that mental illness going into the book, although when he started displaying symptoms, I had a feeling that's what he had.

Another really surprising thing that I loved about I, Girl X was that it was written in verse. For me, books written in verse can either be a hit or a miss. This one was definitely a hit. I thought that reading the book through Carleigh's poems made what was going on around her, and happening to her, that much more impactful. The author did a fantastic job with that. It was also really cool to see the text changes throughout the story when Carleigh was feeling specific emotions. It really helped to get her emotions through to the reader.

I loved I, Girl X. It was a beautiful yet heartbreaking experience to read the book. It really makes you stop and think about situations that others could be going through. Mental illness (or any illness, for that matter) doesn't just effect the person that has it, but everyone around them. I think the book will definitely help me remember that in the future, and will help me be more compassionate to those around me. I really hope Annalise Grey writes more books, especially novels in verse. I will definitely be reading her backlog of books, and whatever she writes next.  


I give I, Girl X: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: https://www.ramblingsofatiredmind.com/ & http://www.annalisegrey.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annalise.grey
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnaliseGrey
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annalisegrey/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5434956.Annalise_Grey

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Better Than Magic by Marcia Calhoun Forecki


Synopsis:
Edith Swann is smart, curious and creative. She is determined to be herself in spite of controlling parents. Her nightmare is the 7th grade bully, Dante Cooper. When Edith fi nds a magic mirror, she suddenly has the power to make her problems disappear and her parents proud. That is, until she accidentally sets free all her anger; her Inner Eddie. Before Edith can stop Eddie from destroying the whole neighborhood, the mirror breaks. Without magic, Edith needs all her wits, her strength and especially her friends to defeat Eddie. This is really a statement about growing up and the tribulation of doing so.
(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Lately, I've been going through a phase where I want to read a lot of middle grade books. There's just something about middle grade books that I find charming, and fun. No matter what's going on in the story line, the book usually fills me with hope and joy. I was recently looking through my backlog of middle grade books, and decided to start Better Than Magic. I'm so glad I did. It was such a short, cute read.

I think Better Than Magic is a great middle grade book that I honestly wish more people knew about. I thought the book was a fast paced, fun read. I sat down and read the whole thing in about an hour and a half because I couldn't put it down. I loved all of the quirky characters. I especially loved Edith's parents. They constantly made me chuckle with the weird things they did, like keep a schedule of excersizng, and signing Edith up for very odd things to learn.

Another thing I loved about Better Than Magic is that it teaches a great lesson to children. It teaches children to have empathy, and sympathy for others. When someone is being a jerk, instead of being mean back to that person, take a step back. It teaches them to contemplate, and put themselves in the other person's shoes, instead of having a knee jerk reaction that might do more good than harm. It also teaches to be careful what you wish for. Even if it seems like a good idea at the time, spontaneously doing certain things can have bad consequences when you don't think it through.

I really enjoyed Better Than Magic. It is intended for kids, but I am 28, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think most people would like this book and get something out of it, regardless of age. We all need reminders to be kinder to people every now and then, even if they're being difficult. I can't wait to read more of this author's other books.  


I give Better Than Magic: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/315820.Marcia_Calhoun_Forecki

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson


Synopsis:
When Alyson meets Graham Copeland, the new boy next door, she instantly feels like he’s a kindred spirit—shy and awkward like her, someone who has trouble making friends. It’s impossible to resist having a crush on him.

As usual, her sister, Sydney, sees things differently. In Sydney's mind, Graham's odd personality and secretive past scream psychopath, not sweetheart. Her gut is telling her to stay away from him, and to protect a love-struck Alyson from her own naïveté. But despite her instincts, Sydney is surprised to realize that a part of her is drawn to Graham, too.

And the more Sydney gets to know him, the more she realizes just how right—and wrong—she is about everything.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Recently, I've been trying to catch up on my huge backlist of books. I would say I have a couple thousand print books, and several thousand on my Kindle that I own and haven't read. I've been listening to audiobooks quite a bit to catch up. Recently, I listened to Twisted Fate, which had been on my TBR for several years. After finishing, I'm still not entirely sure how I felt about it. I liked it, but also had quite a few problems with it.

There is one thing I really loved about Twisted Fate. I loved the concept of this book. It kept me guessing to the very end. Even at the end, I was still dumbstruck by how everything turned out. I couldn't believe it. It was also excellent at building suspense. I NEEDED to know what was going to happen next. However, I didn't like the excution of the concept. The book just felt very choppy to me, like a bunch of random scenes that weren't connected well. It made the book not flow well at all, which made things very confusing.

Speaking of confusing, I found the characters to all have the same type of voice, which I found very confusing. It was almost like they were one person instead of multiple people, especially the sisters, Ally and Syd. Maybe it's because I was listening to the audiobook, but I could not tell their characters apart at all. I kept having to flip back to the currently listening screen and look at the chapter titles to figure out which girl's perspective I was on. It made the photoshop thing towards the end of the book more confusing than shocking, although I still found it creepy.

I really did enjoy the concept behind Twisted Fate. I just wish the author would have had a better editor; someone who could have made the story flow more cohesively. I think if that would have happened, it would have been a five star read for me. As is, I just found the book to be confusing a lot of the time, and weird. If the author has more books available, I will probably try one more, just to see if the storytelling has matured.  


I give Twisted Fate: 2.5/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website: https://www.harpercollins.com/author/cr-111666/norah-olson/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Norah-Olson-730954703647687/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheNorahOlson

I received this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett


Synopsis:
Do you believe in magic? Can you imagine a war between wizards? An exciting journey in an airship or down in a submarine? Would you like to meet the fastest truncheon in the Wild West?

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner is the second fabulously funny short-story collection from the late acclaimed storyteller Terry Pratchett. A follow-up to Dragons at Crumbling Castle, this second batch of storytelling gems features stories written when Sir Terry was just seventeen years old and working as a junior reporter. In these pages, new Pratchett fans will find wonder, mayhem, sorcery, and delight—and loyal readers will recognize the seeds of ideas that went on to influence his most beloved tales later in life.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
My husband is a big fan of Terry Pratchett. He discovered his books earlier this year, and is currently trying to make his way through reading all of his books. Recently, I discovered that I actually own a couple of his short story collections. My husband started reading Terry Pratchett with The Color of Magic. I decided to start with The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories. I found it to just be okay.

I listened to The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories on audiobook. I don't know if that hindered my enjoyment of the book. I don't do well with nonsensical  books, which is what a lot of this was. At times, I found it almost too silly, and I would get bored with it, so my brain would start to wander. Then I would have to rewind my audiobook to realize what was going on. My  least favorite story was definitely the first one, The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner. I had a hard time following along with what was happening, and it became more confusing than anything else.

That being said, there were a couple of stories that I really did enjoy. I liked The Truly Terrible Toothache. It kind of reminded me of a story that I had heard as a child. I found it funny, and witty. I also enjoyed An Ant Called 4179003, and Rincemangle, the Gnome of Even Moor. The rest of the stories, I found to be just okay. A lot of them were boring in parts, and I kept wondering to myself when they were going to get better.

I thought The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories was a quick, enjoyable book. However, it definitely won't make my favorite books of the year list. Even though I thought it was just okay, I definitely want to try more Terry Pratchett books. I think I might try his Discworld series before I try any more short stories, and see if I like that instead. I'm going to try The Color of Magic. I don't think I would recommend this for anyone's first Terry Pratchett book. Seasoned veterans of his writing style might like it though.  


I give The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories: 3/5.

Want to know where to buy this book?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

DNF Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan


Synopsis:
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
Usually I love books with LGBTQ+ themes. The genre is one of my favorite things to read. I had heard a lot of hype surrounding Boy Meets Boy, so I decided to give it a chance. It was my first David Levithan book. Unfortunately, I did not like it at all. I ended up DNF'ing the ebook at about 15%. I also tried the audiobook, and made it one third of the way through before DNF'ING it.

There were so many reasons why I didn't like this book. First and foremost, all of the teenage drama was incredibly annoying. The main character drove me crazy with his insecurities. The one third of the book that I did read was mostly him gossiping about his friends to his other friends, and playing the "Does he like me, does he not like me, I'm not going to ask him, I'm just going to freak out about it" game. It got old real quick.

The last thing that really bugged me was that the book just wasn't realistic. It was almost like David Levithan had never been to a high school before. Maybe it's because I'm from the Midwest, but we definitely did not have cliques of drag queens walking around together when I was in high school. You were lucky if you knew one drag queen in school, but most of our schools didn't have them. We also didn't have a lot of openly LGBTQ+ kids that people treated respectfully, or everyone was nice too. Most of them were bullied and ridiculed instead of praised. Maybe that's changed in the almost ten years since I've graduated, but from having friends that have kids in school, I know it hasn't. I wish high schools were more open to the LGBTQ+ community, but around where I live they're not. Maybe that's different in other parts of the country. All of that kept taking me out of the story, and ruining my immersion. Seeing the main character face adversity, and not let it get to him would have helped with that.

I did not like Boy Meets Boy at all. I typically love LGBTQ+ books, but this one just wasn't for me. I will try reading more of David Levithan's books in the future because I do own most of them. It might be a little while before I try another one though. I'm a little intimidated because I didn't like this one, and it was my first book of his. I hope it's just a fluke, and that I love his other books. 


I give Boy Meets Boy: 1/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  http://www.davidlevithan.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/David-Levithan-139042149485971/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11664.David_Levithan

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill


Synopsis:
An all-consuming love affair.

A family torn apart by scandal.

A young author on the brink of greatness.

Hideous Love is the fascinating story of Gothic novelist Mary Shelley, who as a teen girl fled her restrictive home only to find herself in the shadow of a brilliant but moody boyfriend, famed poet Percy Shelley. It is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature: a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.

Mary wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen, but inspiration for the monster came from her life-the atmospheric European settings she visited, the dramas swirling around her, and the stimulating philosophical discussions with the greatest minds of the period, like her close friend, Lord Byron.

This luminous verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.

(Synopsis from Goodreads).

My Thoughts:
 For those that have been following my blog for a while, you'll know that my major goal this year was to get my TBR all caught up. As we near the end of the year, that looks like it's a goal that I'm going to be taking into 2019 with me. Anyways, I recently decided to read Hideous Love because it had been on my TBR for a couple of years. Unfortunately, it was just okay.

Hideous Love had some interesting parts, and some boring parts. Unfortunately, the boring outweighed the interesting. I didn't know anything about Mary Shelley's life prior to reading this book, other than she wrote Frankenstein. I'm not sure how historically accurate Hideous Love was, but I found it very interesting that she fell in love at such a young age, and experienced so much in life before she even hit her mid twenties. She was a very strong, admirable woman. She survived more hardships in her twenties than most people do in a lifetime, and never let it get the best of her.

Other than learning little tidbits about Mary Shelley's life, the rest of the book was entirely boring, and slow. There was a lot of gossip about side characters and putting them down, which I didn't care for at all. I could have cared less about the rumors about who was sleeping with whom. When those parts happened, I found myself skimming through them, or rolling my eyes. I just wanted to get back to the interesting facts about Mary Shelley. I also didn't like the way her husband treated her at all. I thought it was a selfish, pompous asshole that put his needs above hers, especially when she really needed him. In fact, I think Mary might be the only character in this book that I actually liked.

All in all, Hideous Love was just okay. I'm glad that I read it because it puts Frankenstein in a whole new perspective for me. However, it's definitely not something that I would pick up again to re-read. I think if someone wants to learn more about Mary Shelley, I would encourage them to pick up a biography of her instead. I know I'll definitely be reading one when I come across it in a book store or library. 


I give Hideous Love: 3/5.

Want to know more about the author?
Website:  https://www.harpercollins.com/author/cr-104712/stephanie-hemphill/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StephanieHemphill.author/

I received this book from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.