Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Five Things I Want to See More of in Books


Do you all remember that Top 5 Wednesday post we did a while ago about the Supernatural Creatures We Wanted to See More of in Books? Today, I'm going to do a similar post about what I want to see more of in books.

Recently, I've found myself wishing for certain tropes and other things to show up more in the books I'm reading. Some of the things I'm wishing for are definitely a result of all the fanfiction I've read this year and others are because I've noticed a decided lack of them in the books I've been reading over the last year. So I sat down and made a list like I'm wont to do and now I'm going to share it with you. These are the five things I want to see more of in the future.


Soulmates
I can blame my obsession with the Soulmates Trope firmly on all of the fanfiction I've read lately. This trope is my crack. I could write a whole post just on the things I love about it. I just want to see the idea of soulmates and the many ways people have come up to help find the other piece of yourself outside of fanfic. I want soul-identifying marks, telepathic connections, countdown timers, or tattooed names on wrists to start showing up in my romance books. And I'm not talking insta-lovey fated to be mated stuff. I want them to find each other and get to know each other. They may have been made for each other but make them work for their happily ever after.



Non-Contemporary Queer Romances
Don't get me wrong. I have adored all of the contemporary queer romance I've read over the last few years but I want to see more queer romance in my sci-fi and fantasy books. Seriously! I love fantasy books with queer romance like the Whyborne & Griffin novels but... Where are my gays in space books at? Where's my fantasy romances where the dwarf actually falls in love with the elf and doesn't just have an extended bromance? I want to see more wizards/witches fall in love with their shifter familiars. Thank you Gail Carriger for filling that void I never knew I had! I want to see an alpha fall in love with another alpha. I want to read about gay space pirates. I want to see the princess fall for the "evil" fairy. Just... just give me all the non-contemporary queer romances please!


Established Relationships
I love a good love story as much as the next person but I feel like romance is stuck on one kind of love story relationship dynamic. As much as I love seeing the love interests meet and fall in love, I want to see more established and supportive relationships from the start in books. And not just as side characters. I want to see them as the main couple. Love stories don't end once the couple finally comes together. They continue until death do we part. I want to see that part of the love story. Established relationships are just as romantic and I just need more supportive of each other, there through thick and thin couples.



Non-Conventional Books
I just finished up a reread of the first two books of The Illuminae Files and it made me want more books with non-conventional formats. I want more epistolary books like Illuminae and Sightwitch with pictures telling the story while not being graphic novels. Heck. I just want more illustrated adult books. Could you imagine an adult book done in the style of a Brian Selznick book? Just take my money now!



Platonic Relationships
I know this gets said a lot but I want to see more platonic relationships in books. Where are my girl and boy best friend books where they're just friends and have no romantic feelings whatsoever for each other? Where are my books where two girls are friends and supportive of each other and not trying to tear the other down? Where are my books that revolve around the friendships and not the romance like The Raven Cycle books? I just need more healthy platonic friendships in my life.

What kinds of things do you want to see more of in books?


Monday, February 26, 2018

#BeattheBacklist Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
Release: August 16, 2011
Goodreads Amazon
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Review:
Like a lot of people who haven't read this book, it took the news of the movie coming out to get me to pick it up. Initially, I was scared it would be overhyped but I shouldn't have worried. I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! And listening to the audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton made it even better!

Ready Player One is a love letter to the pop culture of the 70s and 80s and video game culture and my little geeky heart loved it all. I was born in the 80s but don't remember much of them since I was a little tyke but I grew up watching 80s movies, listening to the music, and playing old Atari games with my dad. So I caught most of the references but there were still some obscure ones I didn't get.

As plenty of others have stated, this book takes place in a world both like and vastly unlike our own. Energy, food, health, and economic problems have grown to a point where a sizable segment of the world spends most of their time living their lives in an immersive online environment. Addicted to Facebook? Twitter? Youtube? 4Chan? Then you'll have no problems connecting to characters who find freedom and society within the realms of OASIS, an expansive MMO that has taken the place of the 2-D internet we are so familiar with today.

The creator of this world and massive fan of pop culture, James Halliday, dies leaving behind a massive fortune and the OASIS itself to the first person who discovers his golden egg. So upon his death he created a contest. There are three magical keys hidden throughout the OASIS which will each unlock a gate. The first person to find all three keys and opens all the gates will find the golden egg and complete the quest winning Halliday's fortune.

This is where the main character, Wade Watts, comes in. He has dedicated his life to James Halliday's quest and has cultivated his own obsession with the 1980s and its pop culture in order to find these keys. While scouring this virtual world, Wade manages to make friends, enemies, and maybe even find love and it is one hell of a ride. I couldn't stop once I started it.

This book will hit every nostalgia button you have. If you're looking for a book full of 80s pop culture references, video game nostalgia, and nerd culture as a whole set in a dystopian future, Ready Player One is the book for you! If you just like action, interesting characters, and good writing ... well then you can devour it too! I can't recommend reading this one enough!

    1/2
  4.5 / 5 Stars



Friday, February 23, 2018

Watched That? Now Read This! The 100 Read-Alikes


I'm sure I'm not the only one who goes on a Netflix binge to fight book burnout. But what if your favorite shows could help you pick your next read? That's the idea behind this feature which was actually inspired by a post on our Instagram.


One of my favorite shows that I discovered on Netflix is The 100. Season 5 doesn’t premiere until April 24 so once you've caught up on the most recent season, or binged it all again from the beginning, how do you fill the Bellarke-shaped void? Try one of these post-apocalyptic reads!

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The Burned Lands series by Bec McMaster
Like The 100, this PNR series takes place after a nuclear apocalypse. It has people living in underground bunkers, ruins of recognizable cities, and even reivers. The overall feel is a little more Western than the show. And oh yeah, there are werewolves.
 Start with Nobody's Hero
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The House Immortal series by Devon Monk
I loved this series but it's kind of hard to describe. It's a dystopian world altered by a time travel experiment gone wrong. Our heroine Matilda is a Frankenstein-y being stitched together with special thread. The story is fast-paced and twisty so I recommend binging all three books.
Start with House Immortal.

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The Outcast series by Keri Arthur
A war between humans and shifters left this world in ruins. It also tore open the veil between worlds releasing wraiths and creating pockets of interdimensional weirdness. Like in The 100, the world gets bigger as the series progresses to include a corporation experimenting on people (*cough* Mount Weather *cough*) and lots of espionage and intrigue.
Start with City of Light.

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The 100 by Kass Morgan
I know this one's obvious, but there's a reason I bring it up. Lots of people want to read the book as soon as they see the movie or show. That's the reason there are so many tie-in versions out there. But I've found that it's best to do that while you're waiting for the new season to start. If you're still watching, or even have watched recently, book-world and TV-world can get confused and you're left trying to figure out which version something happened in. (Trust me, it happened to me with True Blood. Give yourself some time between the book binge and the TV binge.)

What book reminds you of The 100?



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Books I Know I'll Love But Haven't Read Yet


Have you ever had a friend or another book enthusiast describe a book to you and you immediately knew you were going to love that book? Then you go out and buy it and don't get around to reading it for awhile but when you do pick it up you end up loving it as much or more than you thought you would? I have totally done this! Honestly, I think all bookworms have at some point in their lives.

I was recently watching some Booktube videos and Jesse from JessetheReader had made a video all about some of the books he had on his shelves that he knows he's going love but he just hasn't read them yet. It got me curious so I went through my TBR pile for ten books I've bought recently that fit in this category and it reminded me that I have some books that I just know I'll love once I finally get around to reading them. Let's talk about the ones I found, shall we?

 

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

It's a steampunk Cinderella retelling. How could I not love this one?


Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I was sold on this book the minute someone described this as Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider IN SPACE! It might just be me but I'm more likely to pick something up when it's described as some of my favorite things in space.


Invictus by Ryan Graudin

This was described to me by my Best Friend as the "time-traveling Firefly book with a red panda that I never knew I needed" and I totally dig that tagline.


These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I had a blogging friend describe this to me years ago as Titanic in space and I immediately went and bought it.  I still haven't read it but I know I'm going to love it when I finally do.


A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

I've had this book described to me as a reverse harem novel that turns the chosen one trope on its head. And I am here for it! Add in the fact that it has magic and an alternate Victorian London setting and it's like catnip for my soul.


The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

I fell in love with book once Gretl told me that it's "a pirate book with Jurassic Park-style created Kaiju developed to defend countries and ships."

 

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

One of my good blogging friends described this one to me as "an alternate Regency Era Buffy with demons by the author of Eon" and I was instantly sold on it. Seriously. I could read alternate history books set in Regency or Victorian England all day long.


Want by Cindy Pon
This is one of the books I'm so sad I didn't get to in 2017. My friend, Jessie, described it to me as "a high-stakes futuristic sci-fi thriller that ties in the reality of climate change set in Taipei". Add that to all the good things I've heard about it from other bloggers and I need to read this book ASAP. Also, can we appreciate that the cover hasn't been whitewashed and actually has an Asian main character on it?

 

Warcross by Marie Lu

It's a book about a video game written by Marie Lu about a bounty hunter heroine with rainbow hair. What more do I need to know about it?


Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Oh, look! Another alternate Regency England book with magic and a murder mystery! It's not a surprise anymore that I love these kind of books, is it?

What books have you bought recently that you haven't read yet but know you'll love?


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Blog Tour Review: Sightwitch by Susan Dennard



Sightwitch
(The Witchlands #2.5)
Susan Dennard
Release: February 13, 2018
Goodreads Amazon B&N Book Depository
Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch...
Before Merik returned from the dead…

Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight―and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.
Review:

Going in, you should know that Sightwitch is a little different from the other books in the Witchlands series. In fact, I like to think of it as an actual artifact from that world. In Windwitch, Merik visits Kullen's apartment:
Merik's attention snagged on one spine now, a familiar title he'd seen Kullen reading on the Jana only hours before his death.
The True Tale of the Twelve Palladins
Merik's breath caught. He yanked it off the table in a rasp of leather, a puff of dust. He peeled back the cover. . .
Different copy. He exhaled - hard. This addition had a torn first page; the one on the Jana had been smooth.
And when you peel back the jacket on Sightwitch:
*gasp* And the first page tells us that "Sightwitch diaries have a way of changing, depending on who reads them." So while most of the book is Ryber's journal, we also have pieces of Erydice's, a Sightwitch who lived a thousand years earlier. The magic (or perhaps the goddess if you ask a Sightwitch) tells us everything we need to know, even though it's more than Ryber intended to tell. Within those journals are maps and sketches and other bits that Ryber collected that help tell the story.
 
My only real criticism is that I wish I could tell which parts Ryber added, like with whatever the Witchlands equivalent of tape or paperclips would be at the corners to give more of a scrapbook feel. I feel like the pages are too clean, though there instances where Ryber's made notes in the margins, which I love.
As readers we learn the history of the Witchlands along with Ryber and her friend Tanzi, including the origins of their magic and the story behind the construction of the underground city in Windwitch. I found those stories just as fascinating as Ryber and Erydice's own. It's so compelling, I read it more or less in one sitting. (It was a snow day, so I did have to pause for some kid-related trips to the kitchen.)

Sightwitch is set a year before Truthwitch, so it is technically a prequel, but I agree with the decision to call it book 2.5. Learning the world's mythology is so much more meaningful when you're already invested. I also think it would be frustrating to go from this story to Truthwitch where Ryber and Kullen play such small parts in the story. And I have so many theories about where the series is headed now that I know what the endgame is. At least, I think I do. I even have a (very spoilery) idea about the title of book four.

I've just been fascinated by the entire Witchlands series. I'm happy that I read Windwitch and Sightwitch together though, because I feel like there's so much going on in all of these books. If you want to refresh your memory but don't have time for a reread, Susan Dennard has done these really fun gif recaps of both of the previous books, Truthwitch and Windwitch. Even if you don't need a refresher, I highly recommend them.


    
4.5  stars

My posts about other books in this series:
Truthwitch

About the Author

I’ve come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, I got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (I’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before I settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

I’m the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the New York Times bestselling Witchlands books, Truthwitch and Windwitch, and if I’m not writing, then I’m busy slaying darkspawn or earning bruises at the dojo.

I live in the Midwestern US with my French husband, two spoiled dogs, and two grouchy cats. Learn more about me and my cookie-addiction on the blog, newsletter, twitter, instagram, or pinterest.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Manga Series Review: Finder Deluxe Editions, Vols. 1-5

I've been going back and forth on how I'm going to do these manga series reviews. I've toyed with doing a similar post to our Read This F@!%ing Book posts or to do a series of Really Short Reviews. For now, I've decided to go the Really Short Reviews route with a short manga primer before hand.

So let's talk about m/m romance manga. These manga are frequently called Boys Love and fall into two main categories: yaoi and shounen ai. Shounen Ai is the non-explicit m/m romance manga and Yaoi is the explicit version. Both of these manga genres are aimed towards women while Bara is the mange genre that is targeted towards gay males.

The series I'm reviewing today falls into the Yaoi category. Something you need to keep in mind about Yaoi is that it perpetuates a problematic trope. That trope being that of non-consensual sex or sex with dubious consent. Way too many of the romances in this genre start off with rape. If that bothers you, Yaoi is not for you.

So let's talk a bit about each volume. My reviews aren't going to be long and will just be a few of my thoughts about them. I will be honest. The Finder series does use that non-con sex trope. I know it's problematic but I can't help but love it a lot though.


Finder Deluxe Edition: Target in Sight, Vol. 1
(Finder Deluxe Edition #1)
Ayano Yamane
Release: June 13, 2017
Goodreads Amazon
Pain and pleasure collide when a sophisticated underworld boss crosses paths with a naive photographer hell-bent on bringing him down!

This deluxe edition includes never-before-released material as well as a double-sided color insert and special cover treatment! Photographer Takaba Akihito takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader—the handsome, enigmatic Asami Ryuichi—in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever.

Freelance photographer Akihito Takaba is captured by the very subject he’s been stalking in his viewfinder—the handsome and enigmatic crime lord Asami Ryuichi! The older man ravages him, both body and mind. Does this mean the end for the naive photographer, or will he live to shoot another day?

Review:
This whole volume sets up the initial meeting between our two love interests. It's the story of young photographer who goes looking for a scoop and becomes entangled with a brutal and kinky Yakuza boss and all the problems that comes with this.

I love Takaba Akihito and how determined he is! As much as I like him, he does make some stupid decisions. I've reread this volume every time but every time I'm struck about how mysterious and cruel Asami Ryuichi is and how much I want to know more about him. 

This volume was a good start to the series.

   1/2
  3.5 / 5 Stars



Finder Deluxe Edition: Caught in a Cage, Vol. 2
(Finder Deluxe Edition #2)
Ayano Yamane
Release: August 8, 2017
Pain and pleasure collide when a sophisticated underworld boss crosses paths with a naive photographer hell-bent on bringing him down!

This deluxe edition includes never-before-released material as well as a double-sided color insert and special cover treatment! Photographer Takaba Akihito takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader—the handsome, enigmatic Asami Ryuichi—in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever.

Impulsive freelance photographer Akihito Takaba isn’t one to back down from a challenge. Undeterred by the ravaging his body took at the hands of crime lord Asami Ryuichi, Akihito stakes out the handsome crime boss’s club hoping to get the information he needs to take him down. Meanwhile, rival mafioso Fei Long returns to Hong Kong after his run-in with Asami and reminisces about their time together seven years earlier. What could the future possibly hold for this very deadly love triangle?

Review:
This volume is all about furthering the tension between Asami and Akihito. There's a stake out at Asami's club and the introduction of a character who is going to be a big part of the series later. Fei Long is an interesting yet brutal addition and we get to see more of his back story in the later part of this volume. The world is getting bigger and this manga is getting more and more interesting.

   1/2
  3.5 / 5 Stars



Finder Deluxe Edition: On One Wing, Vol. 3
(Finder Deluxe Edition #3)
Ayano Yamane
Release: October 10, 2017
Pain and pleasure collide when a sophisticated underworld boss crosses paths with a naive photographer hell-bent on bringing him down!

This deluxe edition includes never-before-released material as well as a double-sided color insert and special cover treatment! In Finder, Photographer Takaba Akihito takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader—the handsome, enigmatic Asami Ryuichi—in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever.

Freelance photographer Akihito Takaba has something Fei Long wants, and the crime boss will stop at nothing to get it, including kidnapping the young photographer’s friends! Akihito turns to the only person he can think of for help, Fei Long’s former lover and current rival Asami Ryuichi. But when Asami’s old flame meets his new replacement, sparks fly!

Review:
This volume sees the return of Fei Long and things get really interesting as he targets Akihito for something. Akihito's friends get kidnapped and he becomes the pawn in the game between Asami and Fei Long as he tries to get them back. Things happen and through his reckless behavior Akihito gets himself in the worst trouble he's been in yet. The drama ramps up in this volume and I am here for it!

   
  4 / 5 Stars



Finder Deluxe Edition: In Captivity, Vol. 4
(Finder Deluxe Edition #4)
Ayano Yamane
Release: December 12, 2017
Pain and pleasure collide when a sophisticated underworld boss crosses paths with a naive photographer hell-bent on bringing him down!

This deluxe edition includes never-before-released material as well as a double-sided color insert and special cover treatment! Photographer Takaba Akihito takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader—the handsome, enigmatic Asami Ryuichi—in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever.

Impetuous photographer Akihito Takaba finds himself in trouble again! After pursuing crime boss Fei Long, he’s captured and spirited away to Hong Kong, but not before Asami takes a few bullets during a failed rescue attempt. Now all the despondent Akihito can think of is whether or not his lover is alive, and if so, are Asami’s feelings strong enough to attempt yet another rescue?

Review:
In Capitivy is the main meat of the Hong Kong arc and it is full of pain, drama, and tension. Asami and Fei Long are injured and Akihito has been kidnapped by the Baishe triad. This chapter is much darker than the previous ones but there's a lot of action and plot advancement. There's also quite a bit of non-consensual sex.

This volume was the most gripping of the series so far in my opinion but it ends on a cliffhanger that just about killed me when I first read it in its first English translation. Things don't go as planned but it acts as a killer set up for the next volume. What I loved the most about this one is that we finally FINALLY get some indication of Asami's feelings and I am here for it! It's a problematic relationship but I can't help but ship it.

   
  4 / 5 Stars



Finder Deluxe Edition: The Naked Truth, Vol. 5
(Finder Deluxe Edition #5)
Ayano Yamane
Release: February 13, 2017
Pain and pleasure collide when a sophisticated underworld boss crosses paths with a naive photographer hell-bent on bringing him down!

This deluxe edition includes never-before-released material as well as a double-sided color insert and special cover treatment! Photographer Takaba Akihito takes on a risky assignment trying to document the illegal activities of the Japanese underworld. When he captures its leader—the handsome, enigmatic Asami Ryuichi—in the crosshairs of his viewfinder, Takaba’s world is changed forever.

Crime boss Ryuichi Asami puts everything on the line to save his lover, Akihito Takaba, from the hands of his enemy. Unfortunately for them, Fei Long has grown quite fond of his captive. Meanwhile, Russian mafioso Mikhail Arbatov takes advantage of the situation to steal something precious. When three of the underworld’s biggest crime bosses clash, will Akihito be the one caught in the cross fire?

Review:
This volume marks the end of the Hong Kong and it was an explosive conclusion to that arc! I could not put this book down! It is action-packed with violence, intrigue, and sexual tension in spades! Asami’s spy has been discovered. The Russian Mafia has come on the scene and asserts their power by abducting Akihito from Fei Long. Asami's plan goes pear-shaped and he proves just how far he is willing to go to get Akihito back. The characters have reached a new level. Now, they all feel three-dimensional and very real. We get the full story from so many POVs and I love it!

But my most favorite thing about this volume though? I am here for all of the Asami and Akihito page time. Asami gets Akihito back about halfway through and we get to see how their relationship has change since they've been apart and how they have grown together. The second half was tender, revealing, and really quite steamy!

Overall, this volume is the best of the series so far! And I can't wait to see what happens now that Asami and Akihito are back in Japan. Everything was wrapped so well in this volume that I have no idea what's going to happen next!

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

    1/2
  4.5 / 5 Stars

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