Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tired of Dystopia? Try These Ghost Stories Instead!

I've been doing these Tired of Dystopia posts for a few weeks now, but I only have a few more categories left. So if you have any other ideas, feel free to leave me some suggestions.

This week I'm recommending some ghost/paranormal books.

The Mediator Series By Meg Cabot

Duh, this is Meg Cabot, of course this series is on here. The Mediator Series tells the story of Suze who moves with her family to California and discovers there is a ghost living in her bedroom, but she's the only one that can see him, and he's really hot. Suze is pretty much like the Ghost Whisperer, since she can communicate with the dead and help them move on. The series might be a little dated, and it can be a little campy, but I loved it when I was a teen. Cabot is also going to do another book for this series with Suze older as an adult book, so I'm pretty excited about that. 

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney By Suzanne Harper

Sparrow Delaney's story is very similar to Suze's, they both can see and interact with ghosts, but have a hard time coping with it. Sparrow comes from a long line of mediums so she is expected to be able to communicate with the dead, but she doesn't let her family know that. Sparrow's story is not just about helping a ghost who begins to haunt her, but it's also about learning that it's okay to be different. I was really hoping that Suzanne Harper would make a series out of this, because I wanted more of Sparrow helping ghosts, but I think it's decent standalone novel. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tired of Dystopia? Try These Fantasy Books Instead!

Last week I decided to separate Faerie books from the fantasy genre because I have a lot of books to recommend in the magical/fantasy genre. So this week in my Tired of Dystopia series we are talking about fantasy books. Fantasy has always been a genre I read because it allows you to get away from your world and suck you into another, much cooler one that often has dragons. I want a freaking dragon.

The Curse Workers Series By Holly Black

Tithe really opened me up to the world of Holly Black and it eventually led me to The Curse Workers series, which I think is my favorite book by her. When I first read it I got it out of the library, so I'm a little ashamed that I don't have a copy of it, because it might be one of my favorite books. The book is set it Cassel's perspective, a kid who comes from a family of con artists and curse workers. In this alternate reality, certain people have curses that if they touch someone they can use their curse on them--like making someone fall in love with whomever they want, or making someone lose their memory. Due to this everyone wears gloves and some have amulets to protect them from curses, so if someone tries to curse you it will break. The concept is so cool, and I almost felt like I was reading a modern Humphrey Bogart movie. It has this air of Noir that I couldn't get enough of. I recommend this one all the time, and without hesitation.

A Song of Ice and Fire Series By George R.R. Martin

Like this phenomenal epic fantasy series was not going to be on my list? Martin's epic story is what I like to refer to as a "political fantasy." While there are dragons and mystical characters like Lady Melisandre, this book is set in a fantasy world where it is all about political power struggles. It wasn't until after I finished the fifth book that I learned the plot is based off of the War of the Roses, which was when the Lancasters and the Yorks fought over the throne in pre-Tudor England. There are expected to be seven book in the series, and they are rather long so if you start now maybe Martin will finally put out The Winds of Winter when you are finished! I highly recommend this series if you are a strong reader looking for a challenge. This series was one of the hardest books I have read in a long time, so it definitely will test your strength as a reader.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy By Laini Taylor

I wrote a book review about the last book in this trilogy, so it really shouldn't come as a surprise that I'm recommending the whole series. Taylor's series is unlike anything I have ever read before, so it's hard to put into words what this series is really about. The easiest way is to describe it as a series about Angels VS. Demons, but even that does not give the series justice. One thing I really liked about this series was that it was set in Prague, and I don't think I have read too many books that are set in that side of the world, so I think it sets it apart from other books. Don't let the cover of the first book fool you, because this series is not what you first think.

Graceling Realm Trilogy By Kristin Cashore

Let me first say that this trilogy is not a traditional one in that the three books are not set in the same perspective or time frame. So really these are companion novels set in the same realm, and that's what sets in apart from other series. The concept of this series is really cool. It's about people in this fantasy kingdom that have certain graces. In the first novel of the series we are introduced to Katsa whom has a killing grace. The one thing that I think hurts this novel is that her name is too similar to Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series. I think the books are on different spectrums, and I actually think that Katsa is a more independent character, and I kind of liked her better than Katniss.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dark Eden: A Book Review

So far from the books I have reviewed for Blogging for Books* I have been striking out. Dark Eden by Chris Beckett had a lot of potential, but for me it fell flat.

The concept of these primitive people living on a planet with no sun, whom were decedents of Earthlings that crashed landed on the planet years and years ago was a cool concept. The initial plot really drew me in, but I was afraid that we were going to find out that these people weren't actually on another planet. I was really glad to find out that didn't happen, but I was still unimpressed with the ending. The book ends with a big question answered, but it leaves you with more questions. I have read that there is going to be a follow-up novel, so that makes sense, but I think I am going to pass on it.

So why didn't this book wow me? It really came down to two things; the characters and the writing style. 

The book was written in multiple perspective, which is something I really like, but at times I had to think, "Wait, who is this again?" We first meet John Redlantern and we are inclined to side with him, but the more I got into the book the more I wanted to punch him in the face. We meet other characters and get their points of view of what is going on in their world, but I literally did not care if any of them lived or died. For me they came across as two dimensional and I just could not relate to them.

So the other thing that bothered me was how this book was written, and I think that is the overall problem I had with this book. The main issue was the fact that they seemed to lose the word "very" in their language, so instead of saying "It was very cold", they would say, "It was cold cold." It wasn't just a few instances, but used throughout the novel, and it made me want to punch punch everything. I understood the experimental linguistic take Beckett was putting into his novel, and I applaud him for trying it out, but I think it alienates the reader and makes them frustrated. I know that this was the biggest annoyance I had with the book, because at times this style would give me a headache.

Overall I think Beckett's concept was pretty cool, but the novel did not impress me. 

*I received this book for free from Blogging For Books for this review. For more information on author Chris Beckett click here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fangirl: A Book Review

Man, I have been meaning to read this book ever since my friend told me she wished this book was out when we were in college. I read this over a weekend, because I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out what was going to happen. But also because I had a long train ride to go visit my boyfriend in Harrisburg.

The first thing that really struck me about Fangirl, was that this was one of the first YA fiction books I have read that has dealt with the trials of the first year at college. I love YA and I find I can relate to teen books more than others, but since I'm only two years out of college, I could really relate to Cath. I wasn't quite like Cath in college, I think I was more like Reagan--with less boyfriends, but I knew people like Cath in college. I had friends like her in college, and that's why this book is awesome!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tired of Dystopia? Try These Faerie Books Instead!

So here we come to Part 3 of my Tired of Dystopia series! So this week I'm talking Faery books. (No seriously does anyone actually know how to spell Faery? Is it fairy? or Faery? Or Faerie? I'll stick with Faerie per Holly Black.)

Modern Faerie Tale Series By Holly Black
Let me first warn you about this book series--you either love it or hate it, there is no in between. I am of the camp that loved this series. The first book in the series Tithe is about a girl named Kaye who discovers she is a Faerie and gets entrenched into the politics and war of the Faerie Kingdom. I really liked this book, what I liked even more was that the second book isn't even about Kaye at all. The characters you meet in the second book intersect with Kaye's story in the final book of the series, and I really like the way that Black weaves the tale this way. Tithe was also the first book about Faeries I ever read, and it made me to seek out Black's other work.

Tiger Lily By Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily is technically a "faery book" since the story is told in Tinker Bell's perspective. The book is a retelling of the Peter Pan story, and it is really about the relationship between Tiger Lily and Pan. Be forewarned, you won't get the ending you want from this book, but Anderson's writing is so eloquent it makes up for it. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from this book, so I was surprised at how easily I fell in love with the writing.

The Iron Fey Series By Julie Kagawa

Okay, so like Tithe, The Iron Fey Series has a lot of mixed reviews. I personally really enjoyed it, and if you want a story that is straight up about crazy faeries running around pick this one up. The Iron Fey starts with The Iron King and introduces us to Meghan Chase whom has never really fit in since her father disappeared when she was a kid. I had my own issues with the series, because I didn't think her father was going to be who he was in the end and I really don't like love triangles, but I did enjoy reading it. Kagawa actually brings in the character of Puck from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream, and I thought that was something cool and interesting to include in the series. Kagawa is currently writing a spin-off series that is in Meghan's little brother's perspective, so I'm interested in seeing what she comes up with in the new books. 

So I don't have a lot of Faery books, but that is probably because two of my recommendations are series with three books or more. I do have Wings by Aprilynne Pike on my TBR list, so that might eventually get added. As always feel free to leave me any comments with your recommendations.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Unsouled: A Book Review

This cover is pretty terrifying!
I read quite a bit of dystopia, so sometimes I get a bit burned out from it but Neal Shusterman's Unwind Dystology does not do that to me. Shusterman's saga is so scary and frightening, because of how realistic it is. With the inclusion of very real news stories that are eerily similar to the Unwind Age, he shows us how his terrifying world could be a possibility. That's why I think his work stands out from the other dystopia series out there, because this could happen and we need to make sure it never does.

In book three of the series Unsouled, Shusterman continues on with Connor, Risa, Lev and Cam's interconnected journeys. The thing I liked that was different about the third book was that we finally get to see how and why Lev was manipulated by the Clapper terrorist cell. In the first book we see Lev as CyFi is going a bit crazy and the next time we see him he is at the Graveyard being recruited by the Clappers. We never really knew what happened in between that time, and I was glad to finally have that answer.

The third book in the series brought back a lot of characters and events from the first book, which I thought was an interesting choice to do. I think Shusterman's point to do this was to show that each character was special in their own way. Especially when Connor reunites with Risa to find Sonia and they learn that the woman who housed them in her basement is not exactly who they thought she was. What they learn from Sonia is so big, and so crucial that there was no way this series could end at this book. It leaves a lot of questions left unanswered.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tired of Dystopia? Try These Sports Books Instead!

Here is Part 3 of my Tired of Dystopia blog series. This week I'm going for a genre that I don't have a lot of books to recommend--sports books. Since the novels I am currently writing have an element of hockey to them, this list is pretty important to me. These are mostly hockey books, so if you have any other suggestions to add to this list please let me know!

J.R.: My life as the most outspoken, fearless and hard-hitting man in hockey 

If you love hockey, you love Jeremy Roenick. Chicago Blackhawks fan? Philadelphia Flyers fans? San Jose Sharks fan? You all love JR. Most fans may know JR now because of his broadcasting career for NBCSports, but back in the day he was one of the most ballsy players out there. Since JR wore the black and orange at one point in time, I love him, and this book was so entertaining. It's half memoir, and half him shooting the shit with the reader. If you want a book about sports, which is also about real life, I recommend his book.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

This is the only non-hockey book on my list. Even though I'm American, I don't know anything about football. Okay, I know some things, but I don't live and breathe for it like I do with hockey. Murdock's young adult book about D.J a farm girl who really just wants to try out for the football team was such a new and interesting concept. I liked this book because it shows a part of the country that I think a lot of us don't really think about--unless of course you live on a farm in a small town like D.J. It was a nice fresh take on a YA concept. Parts of it were predictable, but I think it's a "fluffy" read that sometimes you just need. There are actually two more books in the series, but I'm terrible at series and I haven't read them yet.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dear Luke, We Need to talk. Darth: Book Review

I wrote before about how I was going to start doing honest reviews for Blogging For Books, and I finally finished reading the first book that I requested. I have been reading a lot of dystopia novels, and i have been trying to get away from that, so the first book I chose was John Moe's Dear Luke, We Need to talk. Dad. The book seemed like a straight pop culture humor book, and was something easy I needed to read in-between other books.

I read a few of the reviews and they appear mixed. Some people thought the book was not funny, and others really loved it. To be honest, I thought the book was just okay. Some of the "letters" I thought were not funny, and some of this had to do with the fact that due to my age they went over my head. 

However, there were a few I generally enjoyed. A few that I enjoyed were the Welp Reviews, Excerpts from Horovitz v. Horovitz (2013) regarding the right to party, Captain James T. Kirk's lost log entries, and the e-mail from Fox Mulder to Dana Scully concerning the lost X-Files. These were pop-culture references that I understood and could laugh easily at. A few of the other ones I just didn't understand. I think that the repetitive timeline of rejected Super Bowl Half-Time Show Proposals were not funny and actually hindered this book. 

Even though parts of the books were not funny, this was light-hearted easy read, so I did ultimately enjoy it. 

*I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. More information about the book can be found here. Author info is available here.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Dreams of Gods & Monsters: Book Review

I hate Laini Taylor and I hate this book...because I'm jealous of how good of a writer she is.

For real, I wish I could write as eloquently and descriptive as she does. Her writing style is unlike any I have encountered before. She blows me aways with it, and inspires me to improve my writing. Even though the two novels I have in progress right now are not fantasy novels, I hope that reading her work can flesh out my own writing more. In fact immediately after finishing this book, instead of going to write the review right away, I started revising one of my novels.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters is the final installment of Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. So if you haven't read the first two novels I suggest you read those before this review. Actually read the book before reading the review because there are a few spoilers. Otherwise meet me after the jump.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Why I Both Recommend & Don't Recommend The Handmaid's Tale

"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."
The above quote from Margaret Atwood has been coming up on my Tumblr blog a lot lately, especially in the aftermath of the Santa Barbara shooting. So I decided to finally read her book The Handmaid's Tale which has been on my TBR list for years. It was just one of those books that I always wanted to read, but just never got around to read, so I finally forced myself to read it. I have to say that I was not that impressed with the composition, yet at the same time I think it's a really important book to read.

Find out why I'm both recommending this book, but also not recommending it after the jump.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Like Game of Thrones? Like YA? HERE READ THESE!

I think maybe I should rename my blog from "Deanna Writes" to "Deanna really likes infographics." I mean see Exhibit A, B and C. I really like infographics, especially if they are telling me what books to read and why. Harper Collins Publishers' teen imprint Epic Reads is really good at them. 

Earlier today they started promoting a new graphic of 25 young adult fiction books to read if you are a fan of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones Saga. I've written about GOT before on here, but I have to say, that I don't think there is any series that can compete with Martin's work. These are the most challenging books I have read in a long time. That's not to say that I don't think this project was really cool, because I am all for it. 

I like the books they have on this graphic, because I have really only heard of a few of the books on the list. The only book on the list I have read is Graceling byKristin Cashshore. Graceling has to do with Kings and characters whom take power by force and a little bit of fantasy, so I can see why this was added. 

The other books on this list that I have heard of before, but have yet to read, are Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. Grave Mercy and Seraphina were just suggested by my book club to consider for book options, but we put them aside for now. Maybe eventually we will get to read one of them. I have had Finnikin of the Rock on my TBR list for years. I was heavily reading Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth Series a few years back, so Goodreads kept on suggesting it to me. 

I like to think that I am pretty up to date with books, but I know there are so many I have yet to read. With that in mind, I think it was cool of Epic Reads to put out this list, because now I have more books to consider adding to my TBR pile. I think they did a great service to the YA community by not only featuring books by their publishing company, but by others as well. 

I highly suggest checking out this list. Pretty cool stuff is constantly coming from them.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Tired of Dystopia? Try These Mythology Books Instead!

Here is part two of my Tired of Dystopia? weekly blog. This week I'll be giving my recommendations for books that are based on mythology.

I am a huge fan of mythology ever since they made us do "Greek Week" in the seventh grade, and I had to read Edith Hamilton's Mythology book prior to AP Lit my senior year of high school. 

I also want my readers to keep in mind that the below books are all ones I have previously read and enjoyed, and I hope you will too. As always feel free to leave me a comment with any of your suggestions for additions to be added to this list!

Avalon High By Meg Cabot

If you've been reading my blog since the beginning, it should not come as a shock to you that this book is on my list. Especially since I blogged about the three-part graphic novels that follow this book. This book is loosely about mythology because it is about a girl name Elle who has to convince her crush that he is the reincarnation of King Arthur. You know, the one with the round table. I loved this book when I read it back in high school, that I read it twice. If you're not too keen on all the greek mythology currently out there, I highly suggest this book as it's equal parts contemporary and fantasy. 

Oh.My.Gods Series by Tera Lynn Childs

I liked Childs' novel about track star Phoebe, one because I would read it on the elliptical and run faster, and two because her novel focused on a different greek god than most currently on the market. Phoebe comes home to find that her mother is getting married to a Greek man and they are moving to his home country, where she is enrolled in a prestigious Academy. The kicker is, that everyone in the school is a descendant of a greek god, but Phoebe thinks it's all B.S. We don't find out which god Phoebe is a descendent of until the end of the novel, so I don't want to give it away, but it was pretty predictable. Childs wrote a few novellas and short stories as well as a sequel to the novel. Goddess Boot Camp focuses on Phoebe trying to harness and control the powers she has discovered. I thought it was a decent sequel, but I don't think Childs is planning on writing any more full length novels for the series. As far as I currently know.

More of my recommendations are after the jump.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Reading Rainbow's Kickstarter Restored My Faith In Humanity

When I first heard about the plan to get Reading Rainbow back in the hands of children, I was on board. After they beat their goal of $1 million and announced their stretch goal, I was still on board. I was pretty confident that they could make that goal, considering their recent success.

Reading Rainbow was a huge and integral part of my childhood so I was pretty stoked to help bring it to the future generation. It seems that I was not the only one. Reading Rainbow definitely instilled a love of the written word for the generation that grew up on it. Their kickstarter campaign ended a few hours ago, and I am proud to say that I am a part of the group of 105,857 people that helped raised $5,408,916 for their cause.

Can you believe that? I sure can, especially since Family Guy creator and actor Seth MacFarlane played a huge part in helping the team get over that last hurdle. Shortly after the team hit the $4 million mark, MacFarlane announced he would match the next $1 million dollars raised. I think he deserves some recognition for that. And so do each and everyone who pledged to help this worthy cause. You have all restored my faith in humanity!

If you missed out on your chance to donate to this cause, you can still help! You can pledge to help them bring Reading Rainbow programing to more classrooms. If you are a backer of the campaign, you do not need to pledge.

I threw money at this campaign as soon as I heard about it, and I am happy that I could be apart of this. I don't know what I would be if it wasn't for a love of reading, and I want others to have the passion for reading that I have.

Happy Reads Everyone!