Posted in Book Review, Reading

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

Title:  A Perilous Undertaking

Author:  Deanna Raybourn

Publisher:  Penguin Publishing Group

Pages:  352

Genre:  Mystery, historical fiction

Setting:  Victorian London

Source:    Net Galley

Blurb:

London, 1887. Victorian adventuress and butterfly hunter Veronica Speedwell receives an invitation to visit the Curiosity Club, a ladies-only establishment for daring and intrepid women. There she meets the mysterious Lady Sundridge, who begs her to take on an impossible task—saving society art patron Miles Ramsforth from execution. Accused of the brutal murder of his artist mistress Artemisia, Ramsforth will face the hangman’s noose in a week’s time if Veronica cannot find the real killer.

But Lady Sundridge is not all that she seems, and unmasking her true identity is only the first of the many secrets Veronica must uncover. Together with her natural historian colleague Stoker, Veronica races against time to find the true murderer—a ruthless villain who not only took Artemisia’s life in cold blood but is happy to see Ramsforth hang for the crime. From a Bohemian artists’ colony to a royal palace to a subterranean grotto with a decadent history, the investigation proves to be a very perilous undertaking indeed….

From Me:

This book was so much fun. It is the second in a series and I haven’t read the first but I got along just fine. There were some references to a previous adventure, which made it obvious that you were missing something if you haven’t read the first book, but it didn’t detract from the story in the second.

Victorian England is one of my favorite historical settings for novels. Raybourn really plays that up and the tone of her writing is very Victorian. This is a mystery involving Veronica Speedwell, an amateur sleuth, and her friend and companion, Stoker. She is anything but your typical Victorian lady, being an independent adventuress. Veronica is so likeable that you just want her as your friend. Being in constant close quarters with her pal, Stoker who is something of an aristocratic pirate, doesn’t make her any less enviable. The humor between the two characters is fabulous and there’s just a hint of sexual tension between the two. The story is more about solving the mystery than it is about any sort of romance between Veronica and Stoker though.

I also enjoyed the scientific aspect of the novel. Veronica is a  lepidopterist or a butterfly hunter/collector and Stoker is natural historian and both are brilliant in their own respects. I thought that Raybourn played up the Victorian, sleuthing, and scientific aspects of the novel beautifully and it made for a well-rounded story.

One word of caution, a kind of side note here…Net Galley has listed the first book as a Teen/YA. Due to some graphic language and overt drug use, while pertinent to the story and appropriate to the Victorian era, I would think that this is a mislabling, especially considering they did not list the second book as YA. I don’t believe in censoring books but I do believe in parenting your own children. Do your own due diligence.

Advertisements
Posted in Book Review, Reading

War & Turpentine: A Novel by Stefan Hertmans

War & Turpentine

Title:  War & Turpentine

Author:  Stefan Hertmans

Translator:  David McKay

Publisher:  Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Pages:  304

Genre:  Memoir, Historical, Biography

Setting:  Pre and Post WWI Belgium.

Source:    ARC from First to Read in exchange for my honest review.

Release Date:  Aug 9, 2016

Blurb:

The life of Urbain Martien—artist, soldier, survivor of World War I—lies contained in two notebooks he left behind when he died in 1981. His grandson, a writer, retells his story, the notebooks giving him the impetus to imagine his way into the locked chambers of Urbain’s memory. He vividly recounts a whole life: Urbain as the child of a lowly church painter, retouching his father’s work; dodging death in a foundry; fighting in the war that altered the course of history; marrying the sister of the woman he truly loved; haunted by an ever-present reminder of the artist he had hoped to be and the soldier he was forced to become. Wrestling with this story, Urbain’s grandson straddles past and present, searching for a way to understand his own part in both. As artfully rendered as a Renaissance fresco, War and Turpentine paints an extraordinary portrait of one man’s life and reveals how that life echoed down through the generations.

(With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)

From Me:

This novel is a big ol’ WOW from me. Using his grandfather’s written memoirs, historical facts, stories from family, and his grandfather’s paintings, Hertmans recreates his grandfather’s life and in doing so, attempts to find his own place in his family’s history. We learn of Urbain’s early childhood, growing up poor in Ghent, and what leads him to become a soldier in the first World War. We follow Urbain through the utter horrors of the war, to falling in love, and finally marriage and settling down. Hertmans’ technique is nothing less than masterful. He deftly switches between telling his grandfather’s story in his own voice to having Urbain live his story during the war and throughout the entire telling, it reads like a novel. It draws you into the story of this seemingly ordinary man who is, in actuality, a complex, talented, romantic, war hero.

This is the first novel I’ve read, to my knowledge, that has been translated to English. The lyrical prose, the poetic descriptions, they are so brilliantly written that you can see the war-torn countryside, smell the nightmares of the trenches, and feel the heartache and loss experienced by Urbain. I have to wonder how much of that is McKay and how much is Hertmans or does it translate perfectly?

War & Turpentine will be released in its translated English on August 9, 2016. Do yourself a favor and preorder it.

5 Hearts

Posted in Book Review, Reading

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

Title:  The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

Author:  Chelsea Sedoti

Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire

Pages:  400

Genre:  Teens & YA, Contemporary, Mystery

Setting:  Small town in Ohio

Source:  Net Galley

Release Date:  Jan 3, 2017

Blurb:

Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her-or did he?

Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.

From Me:

From the blurb, this book sounds like it’s more about Hawthorn solving the mystery of Lizzie’s murder, but for me, this book was simply about Hawthorn.

I loved the voice that Sedoti gives this 17 year old girl. It could’ve been me in high school and me even now as an adult sometimes. I didn’t have it quite so rough as Hawthorn, but I relate to the introvertish tendencies that Hawthorn has and her need to escape into stories. I laughed and cried and at one point, I picked the very wrong moment in the book to have to pee in the middle of the night and creeped myself out, lol. (I read this book in one sitting, finishing it at 3:20 am in bed.)

I really don’t have much to say about this book outside of how I felt about it. Well, one thing:  I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did considering that it’s Sedoti’s freshmen book. It didn’t read like that at all. Her writing is polished and her dialogue is unique and real. Hawthorn was one of the most real characters I’ve ever read.

Posted in Books News

Goodreads 2015 Choice Awards

Book awards of any kind frustrate me. My choices differ with the nominees and/or winners more often than not. Why is that? Is my taste so terrible? I find that I often disagree with the popular opinion on a lot of different subjects. I guess my inner rebellious teenager will never be put to rest. I’d like to discuss some of the winners.

choice-logo-large-3b6c5b1100fce5aef9d6da8bc8b34bbb

  • Fiction:  Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. My opinion:  What a predictable pick. I judge this pick. Can’t people be a little more creative with their choices?? I haven’t read this book so I have no actual opinion of the book, but I still say it was predictable. BEYOND predictable. This book won and it didn’t even have to get out of bed to do so.
  • Mystery Thriller:  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. My opinion:  I couldn’t stand this book. It was about pathetic women. Awful. The plot twists weren’t creative or original. Ugh. It won by a landslide too. How? This was such a bad book.
  • Fantasy:  Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. My opinion:  Okay. So this is another predictable pick. HOWEVER, I love Gaiman and he is a phenomenal writer. I have this book and while I haven’t read all of the stories in it, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far.
  • Horror:  Saint Odd by Dean Koontz. My opinion:  I’m a huge fan of the Odd Thomas series. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m happy to see that it won for this category. Way to go Odd!!
  • History and Biography:  Dead Wake by Erik Larson. My opinion:  Larson is another fantastic writer. I have absolutely loved all of his books that I’ve read. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m not surprised it won in this category.
  • Graphic Novels & Comics:  Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. My opinion:  Of the nominees, I thought this was a clear winner. Again, I haven’t read this yet, but I have read volumes one and two. Saga is worthy of the win.
  • Best Debut Goodreads Author:  The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. My opinion:  This book was good. However, my opinion is that its win equals winning a popularity contest versus winning on merit. Looking at the other nominees, did The Red Queen deserve the win based on the story and the writing? I don’t think so. All the popular kids read and liked it…
  • Young Adult Fantasy:  Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. My opinion:  Are you freaking kidding me? I haven’t read this because I can’t stand Maas’ writing. Maybe she’s improved since Throne of Glass but holy wow! That was such an awful book I can’t stand the thought of torturing myself with more of her writing. Here, I have a very unpopular opinion but I stand by it. Makes me wonder at other people’s taste. 😉 I think Illuminae should have won here.

So, there you go. My opinion of other people’s opinions. When I disagreed, I strongly disagreed. What am I missing? I’m confounded.

Posted in Book Review, Uncategorized

Illuminae by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae

Title:  Illuminae

Author:  Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

Publisher:  Random House

Pages:  599

Genre:  Young Adult, Science Fiction

Setting:  2575, Space aboard a ship

Blurb:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

From Me:

This was such a fun book to read. Don’t let the 599 page count turn you off of this book.

The story is told through instant messages, e-mails, official reports, and transcripts of video footage. Through these various documents, the story is told of Kady and Ezra who escape from a planet that is attacked by a megacorporation. Kady ends up on one ship trying to hack her way to the truth of what really happened and what is currently happening with the refugees. Ezra ends up on another ship, conscripted into their military, and becomes a pilot. Both are on the run from another ship, the one that attacked their planet and is trying to eliminate the last witnesses.

This was a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat novel. Despite the dire circumstances, it was witty and endearing. Kady is so smart for her age that it’s hard to remember she’s only 17 until you hear her sarcasm and snarkiness come through in the different transcripts.

Illuminae is such an entertaining and unique read. I really and truly do NOT recommend that you read this on any device. It needs to be read in its printed form. I can’t imagine how the different documents and images would translate to an eReader of any kind. Even if it formatted correctly (and I’ve seen people complain about it NOT in other reviews) you would lose something in the experience. Not only that, but it has the neatest cover (the hardbound dust jacket) of any book I’ve ever seen. Waiting for the next installment of this trilogy isn’t going to be fun.

4 Hearts

 

Posted in TBR

November TBR

November TBR (1)

I’ve said previously, that I hesitate to make a monthly TBR because it seems as if when I do, I read anything but those books. However, the books I’m adding for November are pretty much a sure thing. In fact, I’m somewhat cheating here, hehehe.

This weekend, I picked up the new illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I read it almost in one sitting. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. It’s beloved! The illustrated edition is gorgeous. It’s beautiful! If you don’t have it, GO BUY IT NOW!I It’s been a really long time since I’ve reread the Harry Potter series because I’ve read it so much, my first book fell apart. ::sigh:: Luckily, it wasn’t a first edition. As a result, I was barely in the front door before I sat down with my new edition and read it. Now, I’m rereading the entire series. Hence, the first six books on my October TBR are the Harry Potter books (having already read the first one).

I’m also still reading The Lies of Lock Lamora and will finish this book if it’s the last thing that I do. GRRR! I’m also rereading Nirvana by J.R. Stewart. This is an ARC and one I’ve read and reviewed already. However, the publishing company got in touch and asked me to read a revised copy of the book, which I’ve agreed to do and have already started reading. Sneak preview:  It’s much better than the first version of the ARC. In fact, I’m amazed at what the reviewing and editing stage of writing can do for a story.

Should I finish these eight books, I also bought Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff this weekend. I am dying to dive into this book. The cover is one of the most unique in my library or, in fact, that I’ve ever seen. The novel itself is somewhat unique in that it is an illuminated novel. Book Riot recently did a write up of some illuminated novels you should check out.

I think this list should be enough to keep me occupied this month. If not, I have dozens of other books in my TBR pile to choose from. What’s on your reading list for November?

Posted in Reading Roundup

October 2015 Roundup

Round-Up

October was a so-so month for reading. Without Dewey’s Read-A-Thon, I know my stack would be a lot shorter. Out of the seven books I designated for my October TBR, I read three of them. For the month, however, I read a total of six books and I’m in the middle of reading three others. Anyway, here’s my roundup of what I read in October:

The Little Bookshop on the Seine  by Rebecca Raisin. Rating of 1 out of 5 hearts.

Tell the Story to its End by Simon P. Clark. Rating 4 out of 5 hearts.

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle. Rating 4 out of 5 hearts.

The Death Cure by James Dashner. Rating 4 out of 5 hearts.

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandell. Rating 5 out of 5 hearts.

Asylum by Madeleine Roux. Rating 3 out of 5 hearts.

Overall, not too bad. By far, my most disappointing read was The Little Bookshop on the Seine. It was seriously not my cup of tea. My favorite read of the month was Station Eleven. I really enjoyed that book and even referred to it in a discussion in one of my museum classes.