Monday, August 22, 2011

It's Monday: What are you reading? (17)

It's Monday: What are you reading? is a weekly meme from BookJourney.

I read two YA books:
Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2), Ally Carter (*****) See my review in the post below.
Delirium, Lauren Oliver (*****)
I only give this two stars because I don't like dystopian stories. I haven't since I was forced to read Brave New World and 1984. It's for this reason that I haven't read The Hunger Games. So read and enjoy; I just couldn't.
[Side Note for my Librarian Readers: despite the fact that I didn't enjoy this book, I do think it lends itself to a great book talk.] 

 I am reading: 
Devil's Cub, Georgette Heyer
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick

I will be reading:
My Optimistic Book Club is reading Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper. This is such a fun/funny series. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh and a light read. And as soon as I pick them up from the library, I'll be reading Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede (which I decided I must read totally based on the title alone) and Working Stiff by Rachel Caine (I loved her Weather Warden series, so I'm looking forward to giving this one a shot).


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Uncommon Criminals

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2), Ally Carter (*****)

Ally Carter does a great job of writing teenage girls who are above-average-awesome and capable of anything. In her Gallagher Girl series, her girls are spies-in-training at an exclusive all-girls spy boarding school. In the Heist Society series, the heroine is a born and bred uber-thief. Kat has been on the grift since she was 3 years old, and now at the age of 15, she and her teenage crew have already accomplished one impossible heist (see Heist Society, book #1), and now are planning another; both are heists that the older, more experienced generation claim are impossible. But Kat isn't stealing for the money or glory, she's returning stolen treasures to their rightful owners. This book opens on Kat stealing back Nazi loot for this purpose when she's called to another mission of mercy; one that goes very, very wrong.

The Heist Society series is a light, fun read. While Carter may be writing an Ocean's 11-style heist, it doesn't read like an intensive glimpse into the life of master thieves. It's more of a romp with a little added teenage angst. Kat may be a master thief, but she's still a teenage girl. I think Carter gets a bit deeper with the Gallagher Girl series, and I like that one a smidge better, but I think these are both great series and I highly recommend them.

Book Review: Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1), Julia Quinn (*****)

I love Julia Quinn. I love light, funny books with a bit of romance, and that's what she gives every time. In this series, we get a glimpse into the lives of the Smythe-Smith musicians, first introduced in the Bridgerton series. Honoria and Marcus have known each other since they were children and come to see each other differently as adults.

This was a lovely story, but I could have done without the grody medical emergency bit. It was both awkward and...well, grody. Still, it was a fun read and I'm sure I'll be picking up the next book in the series.

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's Monday! What are you Reading (16)

It's Monday: What are you reading? is a weekly meme from BookJourney.

I read:
I've finished a few books since I last posted here, most recently:
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
Magic Slays, by Ilona Andrews
The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Kady Cross
(click on the links for my full reviews!)

But what I've really been working on are book and media lists! Check 'em out in the posts below and let me know what you think in the comments section - and tell me if I'm missing anything, too!

I'm reading:
Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2), by Ally Carter
Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

I'm reading Delirium for a book group and Uncommon Criminals because I love Ally Carter!

To be read:
My "to be read" pile is always the longest. I am sad to say that I didn't read one of my book club books because it didn't arrive from the library on time (oh the shame!), so I'm still planning on reading The Devil's Cub, by Georgette Heyer, plus another of her titles, The Black Moth.

I recently saw a preview for the new movie, Hugo, which looks amazing. Turns out it was based on a book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick, which also looks amazing.

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs (DNF)

I'm afraid I'm going to have to mark this one as DNF - Did Not Finish. I wanted to love this book. I expected to love this book. And I think that my expectations were so high that when it just turned out to be "good" instead of "fan-freakin-tastic" I lost interest. Then the book was due back at the library, and I just gave up all pretense of reading it and returned it. 

One thing I did love about this book was the awesome photos. The author took crazy old photos he had collected and created characters from them. I love that. Seriously. It was such a cool idea and I loved looking at the photos whilst reading (and skipping ahead to just look at them); they were creepy and eerie, sometimes wackadoo, and just plain wonderful. If you come across this at the book store or library, at least give it a skim for the photographs, but don't let the fact that I couldn't finish it deter you; it was a good book, I was just expecting something else.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book & Media List: Cons & Heists

Cons & Heists:
One of my favorite shows on TV right now is Leverage, a story of a thief, a hitter, a hacker, a grifter and a mastermind who con and steal from the bad guys and give back to the mistreated everyman (watch it - it's awesome!). It made me wonder, what books are like it?

Movies and TVs
Ocean’s Eleven (1960), Ocean’s 11 (2001), Ocean’s 12 (2004), Ocean’s 13 (2007)
Italian Job (1969 & 2003)
The Sting (1973)
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 & 1999)
The Usual Suspects (1995) - thanks to Mike for the recommendation!
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
The Brothers Bloom (2008) - thanks to Mike for the recommendation; I can't believe I didn't think of this one, since I loved it so much!
Leverage (TV show 2008-present)
White Collar (TV show 2009-present)

Children, Tween, and Young Adult
Heist Society, Ally Carter (book 1 in Heist Society series, 2 books published)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart
The Thief (The Queens Thief #1), Megan Whalen Turner
Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl #1), Eoin Colfer
The Outlaws of Sherwood, Robin McKinley
Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? (Montmorency #1), Eleanor Updale
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, Jonathan Auxier
The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti

The Gambler, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Sting, Robert Weverka
The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
Robin Hood, Alexandre Dumas
Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief (Arsène Lupin #1), Maurice Leblanc

The Grifters, Jim Thompson
The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith (book 1 in 5 book series)
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters
Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch (book 1 of The Gentleman Bastard, 2 books published, at least 3 more expected)
The Grift, Debra Ginsberg
City of Thieves, David Benioff
White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Holly Black
Baudolino, Umberto Eco

Non Fiction/True Crime
Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale
The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man, David Maurer

Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam, Pope Brock
A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York, Timothy Gilfoyle
A Treasury of Deception: Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers, and the Extraordinary True Stories of History's Greatest Hoaxes, Fakes and Frauds, Michael Farquhar

The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century, Edward Dolnick
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts, Julian Rubinstein

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book List: Steampunk

Book List: Steampunk
I'm still new to the Steampunk sub-genre, but I am so intrigued by it. I love the aesthetic of Victorian England mixed with technology that wasn't. Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series got me hooked on the genre, and one day I hope to do a library program around Steampunk. But until that day, here's a book and media list regarding this awesome genre!

Anthologies and Non Fiction
The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature, Jeff VanderMeer - ***If you really want to know about Steampunk, not just read or watch something Steampunky, then this is the book you need!***
Steampunk, Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer
Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer, et al
Steampunk-Style Jewelry: A Maker's Collection of Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Designs, Jean Campbell
Steampunk Prime: A Vintage Steampunk Reader, Mike Ashley
Corsets & Clockwork: 13 Steampunk Romances, Anthology
Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology
The Art of Steampunk: Extraordinary Devices and Ingenious Contraptions from the Leading Artists of the Steampunk Movement, Art Donovan
Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, Young Adult Anthology

Movies and TVs
Wild Wild West (1999)
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Steamboy (2004) – animated movie
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Hellboy (2004)
Van Helsing (2004)
The Prestige (2006)
The Golden Compass (2007)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
9 (2009) - animated movie
The Three Musketeers (coming 10/21/2011)
Hugo (coming 11/23/2011)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (coming 12/16/2011)
Sanctuary (2008-present) – television show on SYFY
Warehouse 13 (2009-present) – television show on SYFY

Children/Tween/Young Adult
The Girl in the Steel Corset (The Steampunk Chronicles #1), Kady Cross
The City of Ember (Books of Ember #1), Jeanne DuPrau
Leviathan (Leviathan #1), Scott Westerfeld
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1), Cassandra Clare
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1), Philip Pullman
Howl’s Moving Castle (Castle #1), Dianna Wynne Jones
Airman, Eoin Colfer
Incarceron (Incarceron #1), Catherine Fisher

The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century #1), Cherie Priest
Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate #1), Gail Carriger
The Affinity Bridge (Newbury and Hobbes #1), George Mann
The Iron Duke (Iron Seas #1), Meljean Brook
The Steampunk Trilogy, Paul Di Filippo
The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi
Whitechapel Gods (Whitechapel #1), S. M. Peters
Steamed (Steampunk Romance #1), Katie MacAlister
The Native Star (Native Star #1), M. K. Hobson

Anime/Graphic Novels/Comics
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1, Alan Moore
Girl Genius Vol. 1: Agatha Heterodyne & the Beetleburg Clank (Girl Genius #1), Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Brian Snoddy
Rapunzel's Revenge (Rapunzel's Revenge #1), by Shannon Hale, Nathan Hale, and Dean Hale (Thanks to christy27204 for the recommendation!)
Last Exlie, animated Japanese television series (Thanks to Doug for the recommendation!)

For More:

Book List: Magical Realism
Magical Realism
Wikipedia describes magical realism as "an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements blend with the real world. The story explains these magical elements as real occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the "real" and the "fantastic" in the same stream of thought." I'm a big fan of this genre (Sarah Addison Allen is my favorite) and I wanted to find more books (and movies) in this style. Many of these authors wrote more in this style than the book listed, but the titles below are a good starting place.

Sarah Addison Allen – Garden Spells
Alice Hoffman – Practical Magic
Isabel Allende – The House of Spirits
Jonathan Safran Foer – Everything is Illuminated
Laura Esquivel – Like Water for Chocolate
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude
Carlos Ruiz Zafon – The Shadow of the Wind
Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities
Kathryn Davis – Labrador
Melissa Senate – The Love Goddess Cooking School
Lauren Groff – The Monsters of Templeton
Karen Russell – Swamplandia!
Peter Grandbois – The Gravedigger
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Tabitha King and Michael McDowell – Candles Burning
Toni Morrison – Beloved
Steven King – The Green Mile
Franz Kafka – The Metamorposis

Movies and TV Shows:
Death Takes a Holiday (1934) / Meet Joe Black (1998)
Big (1988)
Like Water for Chocolate (1992)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Lawn Dogs (1997)
Pleasantville (1998)
Practical Magic (1998)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Whale Rider (2002)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
The Lake House (2006)
Pushing Daisies (2007-2009) TV show - Thanks to Steven Gravatte for the recommendation!

For More Information:

Book List: Fairy Tales, Retellings, and Reimaginings

Fairy Tales, Retellings and, Reimaginings

We all know that vampires and werewolves were (and still are) majorly popular. Then there were fairies and angels and distopian futures (Hunger Games anyone?). What appears to be a new big trend, at least according to the TV networks and movie makers, is reimagining and retelling the stories of fairy tales. I love this: fairy tales have meat to them, moral codes in a let-me-put-the-fear-of-God-into-you-so-you-don't-do-this-stuff style, and they can be tailored to be light and happy (see Tangled) or dark and moody (see Beastly). You know it's a growing area when they have not one, but two Snow White movies coming out in the next year, both with all-star casts (Julia Roberts plays the evil queen in one of them! Gasp!).
Below is a list of movies, TV shows, and books for anyone intrigued by this sub-genre (oh, and I tossed in some Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland retellings, too). If you have any thoughts or additional items to add, please do so in the comments section!

Movies and TV Shows
Beastly (2011)
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Tangled (2010)
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Hoodwinked! (2005)
The 10th Kingdom (2000)
Ever After (1998)
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (coming 3/2/2012)
Snow White and the Huntsman (coming 6/1/2012)
The Brothers Grimm: Snow White (coming 2012)
Grimm (coming this fall to NBC)
Once Upon a Time (coming this fall to ABC)

Tween/Young Adult
Beastly, Alex Flinn
Cloaked, Alex Flinn
Briar Rose, Jane Ylen
Impossible, Nancy Werlin
Sisters Red, Jackson Pearce
Red Riding Hood, Sarah Blakley-Cartwright and Catherine Hardwicke (movie tie-in)
Crazy Beautiful, Lauren Baratz-Logsted
A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz
The Grimm Legacy, Polly Shulman
The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor

The Complete Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Anderson
Aesop’s Fables, Aesop
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights, Anonymous

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, Angela Carter (short stories, horror)
The Fairy Godmother, Mercedes Lackey (fantasy/romance)
Mirror Mirror, Gregory Maguire (historical fiction)
Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman (fantasy)
The Child Thief, Brom (fantasy/horror)
King Rat, China Mieville (fantasy/horror)
The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, A.S. Byatt (short stories, fantasy)
The Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood (literary fiction)
The Stolen Child, Keith Donohue (fantasy)
Stardust, Neil Gaiman (fantasy)

Anime/Graphic Novels/Comics
Fables: Legends in Exile, Bill Willingham, et al
Peter and Max: A Fables Novel, Bill Willingham, et al

Teaser Tuesday: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was."
Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children)

Review: Magic Slays

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, #5), by Ilona Andrews (*****)
Magic Slays is the 5th title of an action packed, ofttimes gory, urban fantasy series. The story is set in a near-future Atlanta where magic and technology battle for supremacy. Kate is a woman possessed of a great deal of magic and mad sword skills, plus a mysterious past that causes her to keep everyone at bay. Through the course of the books, though, she has allowed herself to make personal connections, including a best friend, an adopted daughter, and a love interest. Only in this series, tall, dark and handsome is more likely to end up furry, fangy, and dangerous. Kate's beau is the Beast Lord, a guy who turns into a lion and rules the furry roost in Atlanta. In Magic Slays, Kate and Curran (said Beast Lord) have to figure out why a vampire has lost control and eventually save Atlanta...again.

My only issue with this book series is that the books come out too far apart! By the time a new one comes along, I've forgotten a lot of what happened in the previous books. I guess it's just time I started over and refreshed my memory - and this series is worth a second read.

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1), by Kady Cross (*****)

From Goodreads:
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch...

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help-and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on, even if it seems no one believes her.

From Me:
I REALLY wanted to like this book. I loved the cover art and I was intrigued by the book description - I love a good tough-chick story. I even really enjoyed the characters and the world Cross created. I just couldn't get into the story. It felt like the author was trying to shove all the cool stuff she thought of into this one book rather than saving some of it for the next one (this is the first in a series). It wasn't that what was in the story was bad, there was just too much of it.

That being said, I'll still read the follow-up novel. I loved the Steampunk world and I want to see how the characters develop, particularly Finley Jayne (the girl in the steel corset). I would recommend this book for someone looking to test the waters of Steampunk, but who may not be ready to go into the full blown, hardcore Steampunk world. Though I would suggest Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate first, unless they really just wanted a YA read.

Question for those who have read the book: what in the world is "ropey hair"?