Thursday, January 15, 2015

Audio Book Review: Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) 
By Mary Robinette Kowal
Read by Mary Robinette Kowal
“Perfection is different to every viewer.” 
― Mary Robinette KowalShades of Milk and Honey
From Goodreads:
Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right--and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

From Me:
A delightful cross between a Jane Austen story of manners and...well, magic. If I had to compare this story to anything, I'd say it's fairly similar in tone to that of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, though Shades is not as dense. 

I loved Jane, she was very Anne Elliot-esque, and Anne is probably my favorite classical heroine. Her sister, Melody, on the other hand, frustrated me to no end (people who act like her generally do). 

I listened to the audio book version of the story, and it was read by the author, who did a wonderful job. I always feel like I'm getting the truest version of the story when it's read by the author, and Kowal did a lovely job with the telling.

I'd recommend this book to fans of Austen, fantasy, and historicals. It'd also work well as a YA crossover.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review: First Frost

I love the cover art for Allen's books!
First Frost (Waverly Family #2) 
By Sarah Addison Allen
“On the day the tree bloomed in the fall, when its white apple blossoms fell and covered the ground like snow, it was tradition for the Waverleys to gather in the garden like survivors of some great catastrophe, hugging one another, laughing as they touched faces and arms, making sure they were all okay, grateful to have gotten through it.” 
― Sarah Addison AllenFirst Frost
Another beautiful story by the amazing Sarah Addison Allen, who has become one of my all-time favorite authors. Her worlds are so warm and wondrous, and reading one of her books is like cozying up to a fire with something warm and sweet to drink.

This is Allen's first "sequel," though Claire has shown up in another book besides her own, but I like to believe that all of these stories happen in the same fictional universe. Like all of Allen's stories, magic weaves throughout the tale - in this case, characters who through food or hair styling can affect a person's day, a character who has the sudden urge to give some random thing to some random person - a thing that person will need, and a young girl who knows where everything belongs. 

I loved revisiting the Waverly family, seeing their lives after the "happily ever after." Much of this story follows what happens to Bay, now 15 years old, after she gave a letter to Josh, a senior in high school who she knows she belongs with - a knowledge that comes with her Waverly gift. It's nice to see that even though these characters had their HEA at the end of Garden Spells, despite their touch of magic, they're still normal people with normal issues and insecurities. 

A magical story from a magical author. Highly recommended.

I received an eGalley of First Frost from NetGalley.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: In Real Life

In Real Life
Written by Cory Doctorow
Illustrated by Jen Wang
“This life is real too. We're communicating aren't we?” 
― Cory DoctorowIn Real Life
In Real Life follows Anda as she gets into gaming and discovers issues within the gaming world, as well as the actual world. It examines girls in games, gaming for money, "gold farming," and differences in how other countries treat their employees.

Frankly, this story was a little too after-school-special-y for me to truly enjoy it. It wasn't bad, not at all, but it may have been improved by more text and back story; in this context there were too many "issues" to care about the characters. That being said, the artwork was gorgeous. Jen Wang did a beautiful job.

Maybe I didn't love the book, but I'd still recommend it to young gamers, particularly girls who think maybe it's not ok for them to like gaming. It's a super fast read, so it's worth the half hour it takes to get through it.