Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

Heist Society by Ally Carter
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in the Heist Society series
Release date: February 9th, 2010
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 287 pages
Source: purchased
Rating: Perfect plane read, perfect slump buster

When Katarina Bishop was three, her parents took her on a trip to the Louvre…to case it. For her seventh birthday, Katarina and her Uncle Eddie traveled to Austria…to steal the crown jewels. When Kat turned fifteen, she planned a con of her own—scamming her way into the best boarding school in the country, determined to leave the family business behind. Unfortunately, leaving “the life” for a normal life proves harder than she’d expected.

Soon, Kat's friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. But he has a good reason: a powerful mobster has been robbed of his priceless art collection and wants to retrieve it. Only a master thief could have pulled this job, and Kat's father isn't just on the suspect list, he is the list. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it's a spectacularly impossible job? She's got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family's history--and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

So, this book is mad entertaining. I've only read one Ally Carter book, and I wasn't as enamored of it as I thought I would be, but THIS is exactly what I wanted from Carter. Whip-smart teens up to NEFARIOUS DEADS! Art heists! Twists, turns, fast pace, such goodness. I read essentially this whole book on a trans-continental plane. I couldn't put it down. I was so into Kat's heist (AND HALE!! oh, Hale).

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in the Lady Helen series
Release date: January 26th, 2016
Publisher: Viking (Penguin Random House)
Length: 432 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: my fave book of the (admittedly very new) year

New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

Say so hello to my favorite book of 2016!

Okay, yes, it is not even February (though February is rather terrifyingly close...what is with this whole time-continuing-to-pass-even-when-I-tell-it-not-to thing?), but still. The Dark Days Club is so going on my end of year favorites list (which reminds me to do my 2015 favorites list...SEE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT TIME RUDELY DOING ITS TIME THING?)

The Dark Days Club can be summed up in a very tidy pitch: it's Pride and Prejudice meets Buffy. This is a pitch tailor-made for me. This is like Alison Goodman looked inside my dream journal and decided to write me a personal present. But even if this isn't your precise cup of coffee, I encourage you to dive into the story of Lady Helen Wrexhall, who is making her entree in 1812 society...while also grappling with a possibly cataclysmic supernatural destiny as a Reclaimer. An destiny that she doesn't think she wants anything to do with.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January DNFs

I've had a really excellent string of reads lately. I added two books to my YES PLS SEQUEL NOW shelves this month (Truthwitch and The Dark Days Club, the latter of which I plan to review tomorrow if I'm not lazy again which I probably will be). But too much positivity does things to a person. It makes my hair limp and my skin dull. It is time to bring some negativity to this business and restore the evil sparkle in my snake lord eyes.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Are You Willing to Wait for Series to Get Better?

I've been mulling the idea for this discussion post over in my head for a while, mostly because I've found myself saying "But it really gets good in the second book! Promise!" a lot lately. When I saw Bekka post a similar post, explaining why honestly she just doesn't care if a series gets better, I decided to finally cobble my thoughts together and post a friendly answer as to why I'm one of those people who is willing to hurry through a not-so-great series starter (or a mediocre first season of a TV show, hello Parks and Rec/The Mindy Project/the first two episodes of The 100) to get to the goods.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in the Witchlands series
Release date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Length: 432 pages
Source: ARC from the BEA15
Rating: puts the EPIC in epic fantasy

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

It's an understatement to say that Truthwitch has been hyped in the blogging community, and not just recently. I was one of the lucky BEA 100 who got an ARC, who literally and figuratively booked it to get a spot in line to grab one of the coveted tickets. I've met Susan twice and she is a DELIGHT, and I adore both her and her last series. So clearly, my expectations were high, and I'm not going to lie: I was scared to read Truthwitch. So very, very scared.

Yet immediately upon finishing Truthwitch, so flushed with BOOK HIGH was I that I scurried to Goodreads and marked it as five stars. I was definitely rounding up--taking everything into account, I'd rate the excellent Truthwitch at a very respectable four or four point five--but I was SO FULL OF FEELINGS at the tail end of it that I almost feel it deserves that five. It left me breathless, eager, and excited. My blood was pumping at the epicness and the action. I missed my fictional friends already. I was dying to know what would happen to them next. Upon closing the last page, I was totally taken with Truthwitch.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why You Should Stop What You're Doing and Binge Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Instead

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that my life was recently ruined by a show called Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, who is made in Australia but currently airing on USA and UK Netflix.

This is entirely Gaby's fault for introducing me to this glorious show, but once I got a taste, there was no turning back. Cue the full and instant obsession. One episode in and I was a goner.

The basic gist of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is this: in 1928, the Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher (pronounced FRYknee) returns to home to Melbourne. She came from humble (and tragic) Australian beginnings, but then all her relatives conveniently died in the Great War and her father became a wealthy British baron and Phryne left for England. Now she is BACK, mostly to stir up trouble, because that's what Phryne does best, other than dress herself, deliver bon mots, and have eye sex and actual sex. About thirty seconds after docking, Phryne is pulled into a murder mystery, which she solves after only a slight bit of life-threatening peril, but that doesn't shake Phryne much, nor does matching wits with handsome if serious Detective Inspector Jack Robinson. Phryne decides she likes this sordid murder business so much that she becomes a Lady Detective.

Meet the Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Three on a Theme: Russian Fantasies

Hi, welcome to my once-in-a-blue-moon feature, Three on a Theme, wherein I'll highlight three books that have something in common and that I can (usually) wholeheartedly recommend.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Russian history. To be more specific, I was obsessed with Romanov history, and to be even more specific, I was obsessed with the last Romanovs (aka Anastasia and her family). Yes, this was 100% spurred on by seeing the TRULY EXCELLENT I DON'T CARE HOW INACCURATE IT IS animated movie in first grade, but after that I read every book i could about first Anastasia, then her family and the revolution that killed her, then her lineage and country stretching all the way back through the centuries. I love novels set in Russia. I love nonfiction set in Russia. I love Russian food, history, culture, architecture, YOU NAME IT, I'm into it. Especially if it has to do with Romanovs.

So it's no surprise that I'm super into this recent mini trend of Russian-set or -inspired fantasies. Taking two of my fave things--Russian culture and fantasy novels--and mash them together only leads to EVEN BETTER THINGS. There are two upcoming releases in particular with a Russian flavor that are making me extremely excited.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Review: The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine

The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine
Goodreads Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1
Release date: January 5th, 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (Simon & Schuster)
Length: 432 pages
Source: e-ARC from the publisher
Rating: Slow start, epic finish

Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

TIQ is a tricky one, because I was a bit dubious to start and wildly enthusiastic at the end. If you don't love the slow, establishing opening chapters, I still recommend sticking with it, because once the ball gets rolling it's damn near impossible to put it down. Sometimes you have to give high fantasy a little bit of time to grab you, and The Impostor Queen is definitely one of those.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Looking Forward: January

HAPPY (BELATED) NEW YEAR! Oh, blog. How I've missed you, blog and delightful blog readers. I hope everyone had a lovely holiday and and are not too terribly disappointed to be forced at knifepoint, kicking and screaming, out of your candy cane comas and into the harsh and blistering frozen tundra that is the unforgiving reality of a new year filled with thorny new problems and failed resolutions and...oh, I lost that rosy January 1st optimism very fast, didn't I? Blame my wicked cold. It has conquered my brain.

Anyway. It's January! A very epic January for book releases. Like, utterly epic to the point of being overwhelming and intimidating and oh god my wallet weeps. Without further ado, these are the January releases that I, personally, am most looking forward to!