Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Wrap Up

I'm really happy with my reading this month.  I felt good about most of the books and didn't worry about stressing myself out.  Click the links if you're interested in seeing my reviews.

The Hero of Ages 5 Stars
Dead Beat 5 Stars
A Darker Shade of Magic 5 Stars
Seraphina 4 Stars
A Heartless Design 4 Stars
The Fire Sermon 4 Stars

Graphic Novels & Manga
Outcast- Darkness Surrounds Him 4 Stars
Eden 2.5 Stars

TV Shows
Reaper (Season 1, Episodes 9-12) A
Smallville (Season 3, Episodes 1-4) A
Constantine (Season 1) B
Parks and Recreation (Seasons 1-3) B-

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books Recently Added to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  It's a weekly meme where you share what books relate to the theme.  This week is books recently added to my TBR.  I'm going off of my Goodreads TBR because that's really the only cohesive list I keep.  On my list the most recent is number one, and the least recent number ten.  Off we go!

10. The Scroll of Years
I saw a really good review for this series recently and thought it sounded like my cup of tea.  I don't really know much of what this is about, though.  I don't know when I plan to buy/read this, but I don't think it will be anytime soon.

9. Daughter of the Sword
Well, first of all, this cover is beautiful.  And the title, pretty cool as well.  I think this is an urban fantasy set in Tokyo, so that's a recipe for success.  I do plan on picking this one up rather soon and hopefully diving in quickly.  Knowing myself, though, it will probably just sit on my shelf for a while.

8. Trick of the Light
Honesty hour: I don't actually remember why I put this one on my list.  It sounds like a pretty standard urban fantasy and I like the cover, but it's nothing special.  I trust myself, though, and look forward to reading this some day.

7. The Better Part of Darkness
This cover is gorgeous.  I love it.  Pretty much the reason I put this one on my TBR list.

6. Duke by Day, Rogue by Night
Well, historical romance is my newest guilty pleasure, so it shouldn't be surprising that at least one shows up on this list.  Katherine Bone follows me on twitter (I'm pretty sure she used to at least) and I love the sound of her books.  I haven't purchased this yet only because I'm on a book buying ban.  This will be one of the first I pick up once I can start spending again.

5. The Clone Republic
This one has just completely entranced me.  It just sounds so bad ass.  I really am dying to get to this one and will *hopefully* get to it next month.

4. Inda
I like big books and I cannot lie.  And, I'm pretty sure, this one is about the size of a brick.  I've heard really good things about this on Youtube, so I thought, why not?

3. Ice Kissed
I like Amanda Hocking and I love the sound of this book.  I know it's a sequel, but I'm interested enough to start from the beginning.

2. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell
I was actually surprised to see that this wasn't on my TBR list earlier.  I've always intended to get to this series.

1. Storm
I love this cover so so so much.  And I loved the first book in this trilogy.  I need to get to the sequel and then this one when it comes out.  This is a great series that features Japanese mythology, so I recommend.

Monday, March 30, 2015

5 Star Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author| V.E. Schwab
Edition| American Hardcover
Genre| Fantasy
Publisher| Tor
Rating| 5 Stars
Related Posts| WoW
This book seems to be the book of the moment right now, something it totally deserves.  I don't think it'll peter out after five seconds of fame, either.  This one strikes me as a story that will last for a while and, while reading, brought to mind classics such as Narnia and Stardust.  It had that same kind of fairy tale feel and, while I'm no Schwab expert, I believe this may be hailed as one of her greatest works.  Enough with the praise.  I'm sure you've seen many other wonderful reviews of this one.

For those who are unaware, ADSoM follows to protagonists- Kell and Lila.  Kell is from Red London, that which has a thriving magic system, and Lila is from Gray, where no magic exists.  Kell accidentally takes something from another London into Gray London, where the two cross paths.  From there forward they work as partners- one the adopted son of a king, the other a cross-dressing pirate.

I must admit, I almost gave it four stars for some minor flaws.  But I was being harsh.  I've had a bad track record with books when they get a ton of hype.  But really, the book crept into my dreams and showed me what good writing looked like.

The characters are so cool.  I loved both of them (though I'm rather more fond of Kell for some book crush reasons...).  Besides Kell and Lila, the side characters were intriguing.  We didn't get to know them as well as our main characters, but I do feel like they were each important and had their own story.  I do wish that they could be expanded more, but I feel that in the sequel they will be.  I think several of these characters were really teases of what was to come, so I'd rather not spoil my fun before book two comes out.

The pace was a little slow for my taste.  In the beginning and most of the middle and end I couldn't stop turning pages.  But there's quite a bit of time spent in Gray London (our world) and I wanted more of the other worlds.  We did get that eventually, but I had hoped to arrive sooner to embrace more of these strange places.  Of the other two worlds, Red and White London, I must say they were brilliant.  I wasn't sure if Schwab could pull off fantasy like this, but she ran with it and shone.  The languages of the worlds really made me happiest.  I felt like they were real and something I would love to learn for myself.

The magic system was interesting and deep, if not particularly unique.  There are those who can work with elements (something I see often) and then those who were travelers- Antari.  Antari were cool and much more interesting than the other forms of magic.  The magic system wasn't confusing either.  It seems like it would be hard to grasp when you first start the book, but it's explained well.

There wasn't very much humor in this book and I thought that was a shame.  I did find a few instances that I felt bordered on satire, but didn't quite make the mark.  I didn't need laughter from it, but that sort of accent on scenes might have helped the pace.

Regardless, I recommend this one with all my heart.  Everyone should read it, even those not big into fantasy.  It's a great book and you'll fall in love with the writing if nothing else.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

TV Review: Smallville (Season 3, Episodes 1-4)

Watch| Netflix DVDs
Starring| Tom Welling (Clark Kent); Allison Mack (Chloe Sullivan); Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang); Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor); John Glover (Lionel Luthor); Annette O'Toole (Martha Kent); John Schneider (Jonathan Kent); Sam Jones III (Pete Ross)
Rating| A

I love this show.  I'm not really sure what it is in particular, but I absolutely love it.  Unfortunately, I can't watch it very often because it's only available to me via the Netflix DVD service.  It is the main reason I still pay for that part of the subscription honestly.

So, in a few words, because I don't want to spoil you or bore you, let me convince you to watch it.  It's perfect for fans of Arrow or Flash and I would consider it the forefather of both those shows.  It proved how successful a comic book show could be, especially aimed at this audience.  It is the longest running Superman show, I'm fairly certain, and I believe this is the case because it sticks to Clark Kent.  It revolves around him discovering who he is before he becomes Superman.  The experiences and people that shape him, particularly his family and closest friends, Lex and Lana.

Upon reading the description of episode 3X01 I thought I had reached the point where the show jumped the shark.  I've heard that there comes a point where it gets a little crazy, but I'm glad to say this isn't that point.  I expect that to come after Clark's high school years, honestly.  The show has certainly gotten deeper into the mythology of where Superman comes from and what he was sent to do.  These episodes also reignited the story for Chloe (finally!), gave Lana the girl-next-door role again (yes!), and has worked to shift Lex's role completely, and, I think, steer him towards his destiny.

I am getting tired of the repetitive stories of people with strange powers.  I want the show to break away from that because sooner or later they will wear it out completely.  Also, Lionel is really getting on my nerves.  Of all the characters, he's the one I can stand the least.  This is purposeful, I'm fairly certain, but still grates on my nerves.  Overall, I'm very glad to be returning to Smallville.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's Next: The Unbound Deadly Stormlord

What's next is a meme hosted by Iceybooks (who you should go check out immediately!) that gives blog readers a chance to pick what book I'll be reading next.  While this is a weekly meme I only do it at the end of the month.  This month's options are (drum roll please)...

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) by Susan Dennard

Philadelphia 1876. The Dead are rising. A zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor Fitt. Whoever controls the Dead Army has her brother. She avoids her mother's choice of husband for the lab of Spirit Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel. The situation threatens her reputation, and the lives of everyone in the city.

The Unbound (The Archived, #2) by Victoria Schwabb

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.
Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe. 
Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?
With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Unbound delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.
The Last Stormlord (Watergivers, #1) by Glenda Larke

Shale is the lowest of the low-an outcast from a poor village in the heart of the desert. In the desert water is life, and currency, and Shale has none. But he has a secret. It's the one thing that keeps him alive and may save all the cities of the Quartern in the days to come. If it doesn't get him killed first...
Terelle is a slave fleeing a life as a courtesan. She finds shelter in the home of an elderly painter but as she learns the strange and powerful secrets of his art she fears she may have traded a life of servitude for something far more perilous...
The Stormlord is dying in his tower and there is no one, by accident or design, to take his place. He brings the rain from the distant seas to his people. Without a Stormlord, the cities of the Quartern will wither and die.
Their civilization is at the brink of disaster. If Shale and Terelle can find a way to save themselves, they may just save them all. Water is life and the wells are running dry...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Aeronaut's Windlass

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine and allows readers to showcase the books they're most excited for.

This week is one of my most anticipated books of the year.  It's by one of my favorite author's (Jim Butcher) with cover art from one of my favorite artists (Chris McGrath) and part of my absolute favorite genre (Steampunk!).  So, without further ado....
Here's the description courtesy of goodreads:
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.
Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.
And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity's ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.
I don't have any other words to describe how excited I am for this book!  What are you excited about this week?  Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review: A Heartless Design (Secrets of the Zodiac, #1)

Author| Elizabeth Cole
Edition| Kindle eBook
Genre| Historical Romance
Publisher| SkySpark Books
Rating| 4 Stars
This is my first foray into historical romance.  All of the sudden I had a craving for this kind of book so I went on the kindle store and took a ton of the free ones.  I was then left to try and decide which I wanted to read most.  Having no experience in this field I chose this book based solely on the cover.  And I don't think I could have chosen better.

A Heartless Design follows Cordelia, who masquerades as Lear, an engineer, and Sebastien, a spy working closely with the crown.  They cross paths as he searches for the designs of a new type of ship, one Cordelia designed.  He's not the only one searching: enemies of England are also on the hunt and it soon becomes a high stakes operation.

I don't have anything to compare this to directly.  I plan to quickly move through other books of this genre, including the rest of this series, but until then, this will be the template of all things in a good historical romance novel.  It was short and sweet, hitting everything I like in a book.  The writing was good, the plot smart and kept me laying in bed flipping pages long into the afternoon.  The romance and the characters were believable and I felt transported to that time with only a few deft strokes of the pen.

Books in this genre often come with the idea that they're full of steamy scenes.  While there was one smack in the middle that stole the show it wasn't so full of them that I would consider it erotica.  I'll be honest, I like a good sex scene, but when something turns into 50 Shades of Gray and they're going at it every couple chapters, I lose interest.  A Heartless Design kept me interested and entertained the entire time, which is all I can ask for.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)

Author| Rachel Hartman 
Edition| American Hardcover
Genre| YA- Fantasy
Publisher| Random House
Rating| 4 Stars
Related Posts| FIF
This book straddles two worlds- fantasy and reality.  Fantasy in that it takes place in a classic epic fantasy setting with dragons and such, but reality in that it deals with Self-Harm, religion, race politics, LGBTQ issues, and many other things hidden within the pages.  It's a book that requires you to read between the lines alongside that actual story.

If I could summarize this book, I would.  But the many twisting story-lines make that impossible.  Each is individually important and unique, but they also build upon each other.  The best I can say is this: Seraphina follows the namesake, a young woman recently given the job as assistant to the court musician.  Beyond this, she harbors a dark secret- she's half-human, half-dragon.  Her kind aren't supposed to exist and yet here she is.  But she must keep who she is a secret, something that is becoming incredibly harder to do.

There is little bad I can say about this book.  The characters were all surprises- any first impressions I had were crushed, but in the best way.  The setting, while pulling from classic medieval Europe, manages to have a unique flavor to it.  I think much of this relies on the dragon mythology being used.  The dragons really stole the show.  Rather than being half-assed (pardon my language) these dragons were on par with Smaug.  They were great!  I put a lot of stock in a good dragon and was not dissapointed.  Not just appearance, but dragon culture, especially their difference from humans, made them worth reading about.  Nothing ordinary or standard here; they were fully fleshed out.

So why not five stars?  Well, it had a slow beginning.  For a while I was waiting for the ball to drop and something amazing to happen.  It never quite happened, but there did come some invisible point where the book became much harder to put down.  It was a small shift, perhaps 150 pages in, but after that I wouldn't have dreamed of giving it up.  The slow start really did weigh on things, though.

I never would have read this book had I not received an ARC of Shadow Scales (review to come later).  I'm so glad I got the chance.  I really recommend this one, even if you're not a big fan of dragons.  It can pull to everyone's interest for sure.  This is one book to keep on your shelf, not merely borrow from the library.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Manga Review: Eden (Vol. 1)

Author| Bash
Edition| eARC courtesy of Netgalley
Publisher| Diamond Book Distributors
Genre| Paranormal/Mythological
Rating| 2 1/2 Stars
Publication| June 2nd, 2015

I received this as a free ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you.

Let's start with marketing: I had no idea this was a manga jumping into it.  The first several pages I read left to right and was completely lost.  But the art style made me consider the possibility of reading it right to left.  I'll admit, things began to make more sense.  However, I've scrolled few several reviews of this on goodreads and most of the other reviewers had a hard time reading it as well.  I haven't seen anywhere that this book is described as a manga, which can be problematic.

Outside of that, it was still hard to follow.  It begins by throwing you into a story about some kid with no memories.  He's being followed around by the Red Crosses? which are spirits that protect/harm humans, I think.  And he may also be being chased by angels and demons that don't want him to go into this town that he ends up appearing in magically anyways.  His friend may or may not be a shapeshifting crow, and this town may be populated by dead people? and magic wolves.  The story gives no inclination of what was going on.

The art left even more questions.  All of the characters looked the same and there was no clear distinguishing in any part of the story, except for maybe the main character, and even that was iffy.  When I thought I had a grasp on who was who it was shaken up on me.  Outside of this, I enjoyed the art.  I thought it was smart and had clean cut lines.

Every once in a while I would get into the story and begin to understand what was happening.  When these few moments came I found myself truly enjoying it.  But then it was thrown off.  I don't know if there was some issue in translating (I'm assuming it is translating because some of the grammar was off) or some central mythology I just didn't understand for a similar reason.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend this one, and I hate to give a bad review.  But it just didn't click for me.  It is a quick read, so if it does interest you in any way, I'd say pick it up from your library when it's released.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Winter Wrap-Up

Since today is the official first day of Spring I thought I'd take the chance to talk about some of my favorite books from this last winter.  This includes December of 2014, before I started blogging, so it's a great opportunity to high light those books I haven't talked about on here yet.  If I wrote a review for the book I'm talking about, I'll include a link to it.  Hope you enjoy!

(These are in the order I read them)

First up is Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn, two of my favorite books.  They make up the last to books in the trilogy, Chronicles of Lumatere.  They may be the best thing I read last year, to be honest.  If you could only read one thing this year, I would very much say that you should pick up the first book, Finnikin of the Rock.

The Thief is another first book in an award winning series.  It's got a slow beginning, but not long into it I forgot I was reading something at all.  I was flipping pages so quickly and completely lost track of time.  I stayed up until one in the morning, if I remember correctly.  Which, for me, is very rare.  I'm a little anal about keeping track of my time and when a book can get one over on me, it's definitely worth checking out.  So far I've only read one of the sequels, The Queen of Attolia, but it lived up to my expectations.

I may not have given this book five stars originally, but in retrospect I think I should have.  The Enchanted has stuck with me in a way few other books have.  I think about this book very often, and have considered getting it as a gift for most of my friends and family.  The message inside is complicated in the aspect that it has many facets.  The story it tells is unlike anything I've read before, which may have something to do with how much it has affected me.  It's definitively for mature readers, though, so be careful of picking this up.

The Mistborn Trilogy is something I will always hold close to my heart.  I do have mixed feelings over the ending, but then again, having mixed feelings means you constantly think about something.  Mistborn will always simmer under my skin and I don't think I'll find another fantasy series that sits quite this way with me.  Like many people I loved the magic system- allomancy infected my dreams- but more than that I loved the plot.  It was daring, it was provocative, and it was surprising.  Like many other fans of this series, I wholeheartedly recommend it, and think it's a great place to start the Sanderson journey.

Masters of Blood and Bone is a book more people should read.  It's perfect for fans of Gaiman or gritty SF&F reads.  It's got a surprising twist at the end that still makes my head spin.  I got this one as an ARC and didn't have super high hopes, but now, as you can see, it's one of my favorite reads.  Again, this one is for mature readers, so read with care.

Finally on this list is Red Rising and Golden Son, two books that have affected the books I read for the rest of the year, possibly the rest of my life.  I've always been a fan of fantasy, more son in the last two years, but regardless, I've always identified well with it.  Now, though, I think I can safely say that I'm a science fiction fan.  In fact, I've unofficially dubbed this the year of Sci-Fi and I plan on picking up many more of these kinds of books.  While I enjoyed Red Rising, Golden Son is where my heart truly lies.  Part Space Opera, but mostly a military story, it showed me everything a good science fiction story could be.  Red Rising was more dystopian, which may be why it didn't affect me as much, but it's worth getting through in order to reach the sequel.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

5 Star Book Review: Dead Beat (The Dresden Files, # 7)

Author| Jim Butcher
Edition| American Mass Market Paperback
Genre| Urban Fantasy
Publisher| Roc
Rating| 5 Stars
I forget how much I love these books until I pick one up.  Then it's like my whole life revolves around Harry Dresden and his posse.  I have no idea what is so addictive about these books, but they grab me by the feels and swing me around.

This was my favorite book in the series so far, and I feel like I say that about every book in this series.  The Dresden Files are an urban fantasy series that follow the adventures of Chicago wizard Harry Dresden (aka the other wizard named Harry) as he solves crime.  He's a private detective that moonlights for the police.  In this volume he finds himself being blackmailed into helping an enemy.  This leads him to the center of a treasure hunt where all the other participants are necromancers out to kill him.

Harry is a wonderful main character.  It's hard for me to say a main character is my favorite character of any series because we get to see all aspects of them and it's hard to like all aspects.  But for Harry, he is my favorite without a doubt.  I love most of the characters besides him, too.  And two of my favorite just happened to share as much time in the story as Harry did: Butters and Thomas.

After the events of Book Six it's understandable that Thomas would be around quite a bit.  I was not expecting Butters in it at all, though, and it made my heart soar.  He grew so much over the course of this book that it surprised me.  Other main characters this time around include Bob- who's role is bigger than it normally is and very refreshing- and Mouse.  Mouse is, as ever, adorable.  Notably missing is Murphy, but I won't give away why.

The plot of this one was rather straight forward.  It built on past stories very well, especially those from Books One and Five.  However, while the previous six volumes had many stories that intertwined after two thirds, this one really only had one story.  It didn't need the padding of other story lines because it held its own very well.  I think that's what made this one better than the others.

I will recommend this series until I'm black and blue in the face from preaching.  That's how much I enjoy it.  It's perfect for fans of Grimm, Supernatural, and Constantine because it basically does what those shows do, except better.  Please go pick up book one, Storm Front.  And then come back so we can talk!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Heir

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine and allows readers to share what books have them most excited.

This week the book I'm waiting on doesn't come out until May 5th, and I don't know if I can manage it.
I'd share the description, but it contains some spoilers, so here's the link to goodreads.  Click it at your own risk.

Basically, I love this series (even though I still haven't gotten to the One....) and actually have the opportunity to meet the author!  Now, if only I can convince my friend to come with me....  Kiera Cass is coming to a local bookstore around the release date and it would be totally worth it.  I can't wait!

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  In my list the tenth is the least-exciting and the first is the most exciting.  So, here we go!

10. The Decaying Empire
Just look at this AMAZING cover, guys!  This is the sequel to The Vanishing Girl which I reviewed earlier this year and loved.  I read that one as an ARC and recently received this as an ARC as well.  This is a New Adult series about people who can teleport.  It's steamy and exciting and the first book ended on a cliffhanger so I really can't wait for this one.

9. Flesh and Coin
You guys know I love Craig Saunders.  Okay, maybe you don't know that.  But a book of his that I read earlier this year, Masters of Blood and Bone, is on my favorite list for the year so far.  So I had to preorder this one.  And it arrived.  I have high hopes, Mr. Saunders- don't disappoint!

8. Denton Little's Deathdate
This isn't a book I would normally pick up, I don't think, but I read the description anyways and it sounded like the perfect thing to shake up my regular reading diet.  I have an ARC of this one, too, and can't wait to get it.  For some reason the cover just screams "Spring Read" to me.  Anyone else?

7. Cress
It's time to finally knock this one out of the park.  I love this series and have heard this is the best book so far.  I also have it on good faith that I'll love the romance in this one...

6. Angelfall
I've been meaning to read this one since it came out.  I don't think I've seen one bad review, actually.  So why haven't I gotten to it?  No idea.  I guess I'm just lazy.  Plus, I own the sequel and have already ordered the third.  I think I have to start it eventually...

5. The One
Basically, I have procrastinated every single book in this series.  I love them to death, but I never do manage to read them on time or even close to when they come out.

4. Assassin's Apprentice
I've seen this book around quite a bit lately and with what I've been reading, I think I'll love it.  I already own all three books and plan to binge-read them, even if it is unhealthy.

3. The Sin Eater's Daughter
This book got a ton of pre-release hype and I hope it's worth it!  It sounds like a book I really, really need to read.  The cover alone grabs my complete attention.

2. Warbreaker
I just finished the Mistborn trilogy, so while I don't think I can go long without another Brandon Sanderson book, I'm also not up for starting a new series (hint, hint, Stormlight Archives).  Plus, of his two standalone novels this one draws me in.

1. A Darker Shade of Magic
Yes, of course ADSOM has made it onto this list.  It's the next book I plan to read, and I cannot wait!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Quick Review: Parks and Recreation (Seasons 1-3)

Watch| Netflix
Starring| Amy Poehler (Leslie Knope); Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson); Aubrey Plaza (April Ludgate); Chris Pratt (Andy Dwyer); Aziz Ansari (Tom Haverford); Rashida Jones (Ann Perkins); Adam Scott (Ben Wyatt); Rob Lowe (Chris Traeger); Paul Schneider (Mark Brandanawicz)
Rating| B-

I have been binge-watching this show for about two weeks and flying through it.  I had to force myself to stop after season three in order to catch up on my other responsibilities.  Honestly, I like the show.  It's not my all time favorite or anything, but it's like a bag of skittles.  Short, sweet, and sugary.

Because the show is so character driven, rather than do a proper review, I'll review each character individually.  On one overall note, though, I like how there's a consistent story line.  I think it's one that may be missed were I not binge-watching it, and had I watched the show live, I would have given it up in season three.

Leslie Knope: At first I didn't really like her extreme optimism and air-headed nature, but over time, getting to know all facets of her character, I think she's sweet and would love to be friends with her.

Ron Swanson: Easily my favorite character.  He's funny, gruff, and scary looking.  The best thing about him- he's a nice guy.  It seems almost a paradox for this type of character, but I love it.  I love how he sticks up for Leslie and really cares about his staff.

April Ludgate: Another favorite.  I feel like everybody is a little bit of April inside, they just choose to bottle it up.  She may not be funny all on her own, but put in situations with others she brings out the best in them.

Andy Dwyer: I may have started watching this show for him... but I really have come to enjoy Andy.  Mostly, I love his and April's relationship.  It's adorable and something I want someday- unconditional.

Tom Haverford: I hated, hated, hated Tom when he was first introduced.  He was a bully.  But then, I came to love him.  I can't pinpoint where that shift was, but over time, he quickly grew on me.  I respect both the character and the actor a lot more now.

Ann Perkins: Whereas many of the characters I couldn't stand at first and then came to love, Ann was the opposite.  Seasons one and two she's fine, but in season three she's a drag.  I don't like where her character went and I don't like the role she plays.

Ben Wyatt: He's absolutely adorable and perfect for Leslie.  Must I say anything else?

Chris Traeger: I expected to hate him, but as soon as he was in an episode I loved him.  He brightens up the show and helps stir things up.

Mark Brandanawicz: I really don't like Mark.  I think he's a jerk and I think when they tried to make him a nice guy in season two it made him a wet blanket.  Basically, I'm sooo glad he's off the show.

So yeah, those are my thoughts.  I want to know what you guys think about the show, too, so leave a comment below!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Versatile Blog Award

I was nominated by Christina @ Books and Prejudice and if you haven't visited her wonderful blog you really should.  Thanks Christina!

Here are the rules:
1. Nominate 15 other bloggers relatively new to blogging
2. Let the bloggers know that you've nominated them
3. Share ten random facts about yourself
4. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog
5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post

Random Facts

  1. I have a Mini Dachshund turning 10 in less than a week (he's overweight and snores and just adorable!)
  2. My favorite TV show is either 12 Monkeys or Arrow
  3. I just committed to a college where I will study creative writing and film
  4. My favorite animal is the Pudu Deer
  5. I just started wearing glasses because my eye sight is so poor it isn't legal for me to drive without them
  6. Last summer I visited Europe (Paris, Brugge, and Amsterdam) and want to live there someday
  7. I used to horse-back ride but now I fence
  8. My favorite food is Alphabet Soup and Pepperoni
  9. I've only had four Shamrock Shakes this year
  10. Much of my free time is spent on tumblr
I Nominated
  1. Jocelyn @ Jooniel Obsesses Over Stories
  2. Daniel @ The Coach Potatoes Digest
  3. Noelia @ A Day in Bookland
  4. Hannah @ Novel Chronicles
  5. Perpetual New Girl @ Ramblings of the Perpetual New Girl
  6. Sam @ The Little Munchkin Reader
  7. Kat @ Readiculous
  8. Jennie @ Jennie Talks
  9. Sandra @ Sandra the BookWorm
  10. Liz @ Read Catch Kiss
So I only nominated ten people, but I had a hard time finding even ten!  I read a lot of blogs, but the majority of them have either been around for years or have already been nominated.  In choosing these ten I have chosen some of my favorites and hopefully none of you have been nominated before.  I tried hard to be fair.

Thanks for stopping by!

TV Review: Constantine (Season 1)

Watch| NBC
Starring| Matt Ryan (John Constantine); Harold Perrineau (Manny); Angélica Celaya (Zed Martin); Charles Hatford (Chas Chandler)
Rating| B
Related Posts| Episodes 1-8, The Devil You Know

This is just going to be a quick review, but I wanted to get my thoughts out.  I really am a fan of the show and of the comics it's adapted from, and I think the show deserves a better chance than just one season cut off prematurely.

It's not unlike many shows on TV right now, though, which is a liability.  Were it unique it would stand a better chance.  Or, were it on a different channel.  I don't think NBC has given it the appropriate opportunity to thrive.  Not to be harsh on NBC, because I do like them as a channel, but this show doesn't really fit there.  Maybe AMC would have been better?  But I digress.

As I've said before, I think the casting is spot on.  With every word Ryan is able to imbue himself with the character of John Constantine.  They really couldn't have found a better guy to play this part.  As for Celaya, I think she's a great Zed.  I'm not a big Zed fan in regards to the comics, but I think that her portrayal is the much needed update to the character and I absolutely love her.  I also think she's one of the prettiest people on TV right now.  Hopefully, if this show does tank, she'll be scooped up for something great soon.

The general plot of the season felt wrong, but only because it was cut off too soon.  With their limited run, you could tell that the producers and writers were just putting a taste of everything into the season in hope of enticing a second one.  But that being said, it detracted from the overall enjoyment of the show.

As a fan of Hellblazer I could tell what stories they were adapting in particular for episodes.... and I loved how they did it!  They managed to keep the integrity of the story and still make it exciting and fresh.  So many characters are dead by the time Hellblazer starts and this show manages to make them live and gives me hope for many of them.

I'm giving this star a B for all the kinks it has had.  However, with all its problems, it has done a pretty good job of cleaning up and coming out as best as possible.  Kudos to them.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

5 Star Book Review: The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3)

Author| Brandon Sanderson
Edition| Mass Market Paperback (American)
Genre| Epic Fantasy
Publisher| Tor
Rating| 5 Stars
Related Posts| The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension 
This review has SPOILERS FOR FIRST TWO BOOKS although I will try to give nothing away of this book.

Writing a review for this book seems impossible.  For one, I cannot contain what I felt for this book in one post.  Or two.  I would need to have a very long conversation that stretched days in order to really get across what I felt.  For another, it seems like a lie to say this series is over.  Technically, I know it's not.  There are the Wax & Wayne books, the first of which is already released, and two more series planned in this world.  But the original Mistborn trilogy is all done, everything tied up nicely with a bow.  After spending about three months living in this world with these characters I feel empty.  Yes, I have a book hangover.

This book picks up not too long after the last one.  Elend is emperor and Vin is empress.  They must try and unite all the world in preparation for the end of said world.  For the god (entity?) Ruin has been released and this is the purpose of his existence.  With a creature that can do all but read thoughts, our heroes must find a way to prevail or watch as their world is buried in ash.

The strangest thing about this one is that, barring a chapter or two, takes place exclusively outside Luthadel.  Luthadel is a city I have come to know so well I feel I could give guided tours of it.  Suddenly, spending time in Fadrex and Urtea I felt out of place.  It didn't take long, though, to realize that rather than location-driven (as I think there may be a case for this in the first two) it is completely character-driven.  It didn't matter where they were; I would follow them anywhere.

Speaking of characters, I came to grow very fond of one in particular- Spook.  He's always been a minor character when compared to the rest of the cast.  Here he's clearly one of the main characters.  And I loved it.  It's as if Brandon Sanderson was growing him in a garden, waiting for him to bloom, before showcasing him in such a way.  I also felt very able to connect with him, more so than any other character in the series.  If you follow me on twitter, you may have seen my many posts about needing to give Spook a hug.

As for the rest of the characters, I still think fondly of them all.  Each character had a satisfying (and sometimes too satisfying) conclusion.  Over the course of the whole series, though, Sanderson has done a great job of not dragging a character out or not using enough of them.  He really knows how to get the best of each character.

The ending of this one has left me reeling.  I think about it every day since finishing (I finished it earlier this week but wasn't coherent enough to write a review) and will think of it more still.  It's one that is bittersweet.  Good in many ways, but also sad in many ways.  It's haunting and resonating- a beautiful feat for any huge-sized series.

I once heard someone say that if they had one wish, it would be to see their favorite movie again as if for the first time.  Go into it without expecting anything and coming out with everything.  That's how I feel about these books.  I want to keep enjoying them again and again, with a fresh mind so that I can take everything in.

Thank you, Mr. Sanderson, for writing such an amazing trilogy.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Book Review: The Fire Sermon (The Fire Sermon, #1)

Author| Francesca Haig
Edition| eARC courtesy of Netgalley
Genre| YA Dystopian
Publisher| Gallery Books
Release Date| March 3rd, 2015
Rating| 4 Stars
Related Posts| WOW
This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I was so happy to get an ARC of it.  My plans included reading it ASAP, but life got in the way and I couldn't actually get to it until it's release date was racing upon me.  But, regardless, receiving this as an Advanced Readers Copy had me hopping down the school halls singing it out to my friends and utter strangers.  That actually happened.

The Fire Sermon is the first in a trilogy (no surprise) and actually reminded me a bit of The Darkest Minds meets epic fantasy.  The texture and tone of the world was the same, though the premises very different.  I also thought there were some similar characters, but that's neither here nor there.  This book follows Cass, an Omega and a Seer.  Every person is born with a twin.  Some twins are Omega's, those who have some sort of deformity, normally physical, and are sent away to live in poverty; others are born Alpha's, the perfect humans who go on to oppress the Omega's.  Why not just get rid of all worthless Omega's?  If one twin is severely hurt, the other feels it.  If one twin dies, the other dies.  They rely on each other for survival.  However, there are dreams of a place where Omega's are free, and Cass is desperate to find that place.

Within the first several chapters the world is completely laid out for the reader.  Complete history on why civilization is in ruin and the Alpha's and Omega's exist.  It was a lot of info dumping, told in the form of flash backs while Cass is sitting around in prison for a couple years.  At first, with the fast and smart writing, I thought this book was on track for five stars.  And then the descriptions never ended and the story never progressed.  Time was actually passing the character by and two years of nothing happened.  It actually made me doubt if this was a YA book, and I think it may border on NA, which is pretty cool.

When Cass finally does something I got excited.  I thought, "here it is, the moment the story starts".  But then, it just kept up a turtle's pace.  Traveling, traveling, traveling, pit stop, traveling.  And finally destination.  And then more nothing.  And then it's over with about three chapters of excitement.

I liked the story, I really did.  I liked the characters, and I liked the premise, and I liked the world.  And I loved the history in the story; I feel like things aren't explained enough in dystopian stories.  But it just dragged.  It never got to the point where I was tempted to put it down, but it came very close.  The writing was brilliant at first and then tapered off some, but never really lost its luster.  The ending, too, promised quite a bit and never delivered.  I feel like it was an ending I've seen a lot of lately and has been becoming cliched.  Fingers crossed the theme doesn't keep up because it's one of my least favorite endings, especially when I have to wait for the next book in the series.

Would I buy a hard copy of this book?  When it comes out in paperback, probably.  I enjoyed it enough to keep a copy on my shelf.  For those dystopian lovers out there, this one is particularly for you.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Winter

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine and you should totally go check them out.

This week I'm waiting on Winter by Marissa Meyer; something I think a lot of people will be waiting on.  This is the final installment of the Lunar Chronicles, so I hope it's understandable if I don't post the description.  Rather, here's the link to it's goodreads page: Winter.

Quick confession: I still haven't read Cress.  *hides in corner away from the judging eyes*  My only excuse- I'm a lazy person.  Though, in reality, I'm waiting to read Cress until Winter's release is a little closer.  It doesn't come out until November this year, so I have some time.

What are you waiting for this week?  Leave a link in your comment and I'll check it out!

UPDATE: A day after I posted this the cover was revealed, so I thought I'd add it to the bottom of this post.  Bask in its glory!

I actually really enjoy the cover.  I think Cinder is still my favorite, but this may be a close second.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

TV Review: Reaper (Season 1, Episodes #9-12)

Watch| Netflix DVDs
Starring| Bret Harrison (Sam Oliver); Tyler Labine (Sock); Rick Gonzalez (Ben Gonzalez); Missy Peregrym (Andi Pendergast); Ray Wise (The Devil)
Rating| A

So, yeah, this show has been cancelled for quite a while, but back when it was on my parents watched it.  And, knowing the shows I like, they told me to check it out.  Of course, the only way for me to get it is through the DVD service of Netflix, so I can't really binge watch like I would love to do.

For those of you who don't know what this show is, it's about Sam, who on his 21st birthday finds out his parents sold his soul to the Devil when he was just a baby.  Now the Devil has come to collect his due and Sam ends up being a Reaper- hunting down escaped souls from hell.  Sam, a slacker himself, enlists the help of his friends Sock and Ben (also slackers; they work together at the Work Bench, basically a mix of Home Depot and Costco) and together they capture these dangerous souls.

It's actually a pretty perfect show, and fans of Supernatural, Constantine, and the likes will really enjoy this.  It's a shame it only got two seasons; I think it hit the CW a few years shy of the total geek-fest going on there now.  Had it begun two years ago, or even last year, it would have done much better.

I love this show for many reasons, but I'll keep it short and sweet: Ray Wise.  He plays the best devil I've ever seen (and that's not something to take lightly)!  He may seem all smiley one second, but the next, he's killing people with a snap of his fingers and giggling about it.  He absolutely steals the show and deserves all the credit he can get.

The rest of the cast is great, too.  I can't really complain about any of the characters.  They're funny-I'm always laughing when  I watch- and they're smart (at least for their situation) and don't make silly mistakes that get viewers frustrated.

In fact, overall I give the show an A+ grade.  But for these episodes I'll have to lower it to just an A for repetitiveness.

Specifically what I loved about disc three was the plot line, which is finally coming together to arc over the whole season.  I can't say anything because I don't want to spoil anyone who may want to start the show now.  Also, the boys getting their own apartment, and their neighbors (again, no spoilers) are pretty awesome.

Go watch this show now!  You won't regret it, I promise.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


So my reading has slowed down quite a bit for several reasons.  Mostly, stress has gotten to me and even though reading calms me down, I haven't been motivated enough to pick anything up for long.  Also, the things causing the stress are taking up most of my free time.  And, now that things are starting to look up again, I've been watching a lot of TV.  Hopefully by this time next week I'll be back in reading mode, though.  I just thought I'd let everyone know what reviews are going to be going up in the next week or so, though, so you don't think I've abandoned everyone.

Sunday-- Reaper, Season One, Episodes 9-12, Review
Wednesday-- Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday-- Fire Sermon Review
Friday-- First Impression Friday
Saturday-- Hero of Ages Review

In two weeks:
Sunday-- Constantine Season 1 Review
Monday-- Parks and Recreation Seasons 1 and 2 Review

Yes, you can probably see how much TV I've been watching.  My TV reviews are normally very short and sweet though, so hopefully you don't find them annoying if you just come here for book reviews.

Thanks for everyone for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadows of Self

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine and offers an opportunity for readers to showcase the books they just can't live without.

This week is a book that has me soooo excited in such a fangirl way.

Sorry for such a bad picture, this was the best I could find for some reason...

But yes, this week I'm dying for Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson.  This is the fifth book in the Mistborn series, the second in the Wax and Wayne part of the series.  Here's the official description from the author's website:
The trilogy’s heroes are now figures of myth and legend, even objects of religious veneration. They are succeeded by wonderful new characters, chief among them Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs. There he worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are “twinborn,” meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.
This book comes out in October of this year, which also just happens to be my birthday month, so this would be such a great present!

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: Outcast- Darkness Surrounds Him (Vol. #1)

Author| Robert Kirkman
Artist| Paul Azaceta
Edition| eARC courtesy of Netgalley
Publisher| Image Comics
Genre| Paranormal/Horror
Rating| 4 Stars
Release Date| January 15th, 2015

I received a copy of Outcast from Image Comics via Netgally in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

I know Robert Kirkman is a pretty big name right now (he's the guy behind Walking Dead) but this is the first creation of his I've delved into.  And I like it.  I know that this was being considered as a TV show last year or so, and while I don't know whatever happened with that plan, I think it would work perfectly.  While reading it all I could think was "this would fit perfect on the small screen", so fingers crossed it happens.

Outcast is about Kyle Barnes, who has been surrounded by demonic possessions his whole life.  And, according to the pastor, he seems to have a knack for exorcisms.  So now the two of them are on a quest to discover what he is- the only clue is the title "Outcast".

Pretty decent idea, although it reminds me a little of Hellblazer, to be honest.  I liked the characters, they easily jumped off the page and were well-rounded.  Each of them seems to have a back-story, Kyle's being especially tragic.  The story was quick paced and had me eager to return each time.  It is a comic series, so it leaves you wanting more at the end and wraps up absolutely nothing, so if you're not in for the long haul maybe don't pick this up.

I have very little to say about this book, though.  It was good, but not great.  Interesting, but not unique.  I can't gush about it, but I would never hate on it.  So... I'm at a fork in the road.  I gave it four stars instead of three because of the art.  This I can gush about.  It was gorgeous- simple and detailed at the same time.  Gritty but not over the top for a horror series.  I love it.  I would buy it for the art alone; return to the series for the art alone.  So if you want to be in awe of Azaceta, please pick this one up.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March TBR & Update

So last month wasn't as great as January, but that's to be expected since it was a shorter month.  Either way, I read eight books (though not really the ones I wanted to at the beginning of the month...) and a total of 2,725 words.  This month I plan to read more, and hopefully I'll make it.

My TBR list is tentative; I don't know what order the stuff will be in or whether more or less will be added, but these are the books I'm most excited for.

From Last Month
Finish up Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Finish up The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
Poison Study, Magic Study, Fire Study and Shadow Study by Maria V Snyder
Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

New This Month
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Alienated by Melissa Landers
The One by Kiera Cass
The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

Batman and Son

Besides reading I plan to update the blog.  Right now it's pretty generic and I want to make it more personal.  If you have any ideas or recommendations; things you would like to see here, let me know.  Don't forget that you can find me on Twitter now, @TsundokuSam.