October: Monthly Roundup
Outside the Reviews / October 31, 2017

My town usually only gets a few days of autumn color before it snows or freezes and all the leaves wither brown, but this year the weather has held true, crisp and (mostly) clear. I’d like to say that the sweeping color and lovely skies are the reason for only fourteen books reviewed this month, but I haven’t gotten outside anywhere nearly as much as I’d like. It just hasn’t been a productive month overall. But tomorrow…! Nanowrimo is upon us, and yet I have unreasonably high hopes for getting all sorts of things done. More, Oathbringer and Renegades are both coming out, the two new releases I’m most interested in for the rest of the year. ~ Favorites ~ My favorite book of the month… was a contemporary YA romance! Since when, right? At an even four stars, The Geography of You and Me isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s sweet, fluffy, and clean. My favorite recently published book was Apex, the third (and probably last) book of the Hunter series. It’s not very satisfying as an ending, but Joy is such a great main character. In Middle-Grade books, I really liked The Wednesday Wars, a realistic/semi-historical highschool story. Recommend for anyone who: likes Shakespeare,…

The Creeping Shadow
Young Adult / October 30, 2017

Lockwood & Co. #4. Author: Jonathan Stroud. Summary: After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them–and only them–to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Hmm. Very similar to the previous books, which is partially bad, partially good. Cons: there’s not a lot of character development, and the fighting-ghosts action sequences really are repetitious when compared to the earlier books. Pros: in all fairness, the fighting-ghosts is every bit as shiver-inducing and exciting as it was before,…

It’s Okay if the Sky is Awful
Outside the Reviews / October 29, 2017

It’s okay if the sky is awful. ​ Did you know that the words awesome and awful are directly related? “Awful” was around a lot earlier, going back almost a thousand years, and it meant something that was awe-inspiring. Full of awe. It could mean “worthy of, or commanding, profound respect or reverential fear”. It was not a far stretch, back then, to use it to mean “causing dread”. Sometime after it strayed into strong negative connotations, “awesome” came around, perhaps to replace it; and if now we say awesome the same way we’d say cool or great, still it used to mean “something that inspires awe”. Sometimes awesome is awful. Consider: even now, one of the sentences under the dictionary definition of awful is “the awful majesty of alpine peaks”. Being filled with awe has never been supposed to be a pleasant experience. It’s okay if the sky is awful. Humans are dreamers, philosophers, romanticists. We have always looked up at the sky and seen mystery. We have always asked halting questions about the intangible. We have always tried to paint our emotions: in lofty words of poetry and novels, in the music of songs and orchestras, in sweeping…

Once and for All
Young Adult / October 28, 2017

Author: Sarah Dessen. Summary: Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants. My Thoughts: Wow, I’ve never seen a Manic Pixie Dream Boy before. You know what a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is, right? Quirky and cute and believes in life, there to remind the MC to eat ice cream and enjoy the sunset and things will turn out all right? Well, that’s who Ambrose is. Or who he’s meant to be – he’s not all that cute, and he’d definitely drive me mad. He has lots of quirky little things like blowing out a candle as soon as he lights it for a wish (majorly impractical when you’re lighting a whole bunch for wedding tables) and constantly fiddling with everything from the radio to the tape dispenser (just reading about it had me twitching). He…

The Dire King
Young Adult / October 27, 2017

Jackaby #4. Author: William Ritter. Summary: The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I think I liked Jackaby rather better when it was a paranormal detective series. That was a twist I’ve never seen before. The got-to-save-the-whole-world ending was a disappointing relapse into fantasy cliches. The characters hold true, though. Quirky, amusing, overall determined to do the…

Silksinger
Middle Grade / Juvenile , Young Adult / October 26, 2017

Faeries of Dreamdark #2. Author: Laini Taylor. Summary: One faerie, the last of her clan, must fight to complete her sacred duty Whisper Silksinger is the last of the secret guardians of the Azazel, one of the powerful Djinn who dreamed the world into being. Relentlessly pursued by bloodthirsty devils, she flees to the city of Nazneen to restore the Azazel to his temple. At the same time, Hirik Mothmage is also on a secret quest, to find the Azazel and restore his disgraced clan’s ancient honor. And behind them all flies Magpie Windwitch, first champion of the new age of faeries, desperate to rescue Whisper and the Azazel alike before they fall in the clutches of a sinister hidden enemy. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Much more dynamic and fast-paced than the first one! When multiple new point-of-views were first introduced, I was confused and none too pleased. Who are all these random people, and why am I watching them mess about when Magpie obviously has important things to do? As it turned out, Whisper Silksinger and Hirik Mothmage turned into my two new favorite characters. (There aren’t even that many characters, but trust me – I really, really like…

Brace Yourselves, Nanowrimo is Coming
Outside the Reviews / October 25, 2017

  Have you ever heard the writing advice, “Write the book you want to read” ? Well, that’s basically why I write things. A lot of things. Often, when I read a particularly good or bad book it inspires me to start something new, to play around with my own world and characters and FIX THE HORRIBLE MISTAKES okay sorry I promise my stories aren’t anger-driven but I recently read The Invisible Library and it’s The Reason I’ve revived an old idea about Libraries because I was so disappointed. (There are other reasons I write too, I just don’t feel like writing up a dissertation on Creative Writing right now.) I still have some notebooks filled with badly-spelled short stories from years and years ago (the first evidence of story-writing is from a journal entry dated in 2007), so maybe it’s not fair to blame everything on reading books? On the other hand, I was reading back then too. So what’s all this about NaNoWriMo? Well. *deep breath* NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month (November), and is also the name of a non-profit organization that encourages people to participate in the month. The official goal is to write a fifty thousand…

Ready Player One
Adult / October 24, 2017

Author: Ernest Cline. Summary: It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS…

Apex
Young Adult / October 21, 2017

Hunter #3. Author: Mercedes Lackey. Summary: Being a member of the Elite Hunter Command imperils Joy in more ways than one. In their latest clash with Othersiders, the army of monsters nearly wiped them out. Apex City is safe . . . for now. But within the city barriers, Joy must wage a different kind of war. The corrupt and powerful PsiCorps is determined to usurp the Hunters as chief defenders of Apex City and Joy is now squarely in their crosshairs. Unused to playing political games, she has very few people she can truly trust—not even Josh, her first friend in Apex City, who broke up with her when it became too dangerous for a Psimon to be dating a Hunter. Then Josh comes to Joy for help. He fears that Abigail Drift, the head of PsiCorps, will soon use him in her twisted experiments designed to empower PsiCorps and render Hunters superfluous—a scheme that’s already killed off dozens of Psimons. Joy manages to smuggle Josh to safety, but he cannot evade Drift forever . . . As Joy faces ever more powerful Othersiders, she is helped by the most surprising ally imaginable—the same Folk Mage she once met…

The Invisible Library
Adult / October 19, 2017

Invisible Library #1. Author: Genevieve Cogman. Summary: Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently… Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake. (Published Summary) My Thoughts: I maintain that The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson proves that a book can actually live up to and beyond an epic premise. Well, The Invisible Library proves that a book can have a spectacular premise – the premise of that fascinating, thoughtful, epic-and-yet-amusing book you’re always wishing you could…