Saturday, December 31, 2016

NetGalley Review: Threads of Silk

When I was a child, I thought my destiny was to live and die on the banks of the Xiangjiang River as my family had done for generations. I never imagined that my life would lead me to the Forbidden City and the court of China’s last Empress.

Born in the middle of nowhere, Yaqian, a little embroidery girl from Hunan Province, finds her way to the imperial court, a place of intrigue, desire, and treachery. From the bed of an Emperor, the heart of a Prince, and the right side of an Empress, Yaqian weaves her way through the most turbulent decades of China’s history and witnesses the fall of the Qing Dynasty.

My Review:

Once upon a time there was a young girl who wanted nothing more than to take care of her silk worms all day. Then her mother bound her feet. Driven by pain and boredom, she discovered she liked--and was good at-- something else. She was a natural embroiderer. She goes to school, makes a lot of money, and even becomes a very important embroiderer in the Palace.

But things are not all well. There are scenes of assault. There are sacrifices made. There are lies told, and lives lost. And through all that, a mother who never quite acknowledged her daughter as a person.

1. Asian stories always get a star, even if it's east Asian.
2. I liked this. I liked it almost as much as SnowFlower and the Secret Fan.
3. She named her daughter for a Tiger. 

1. Yaquin's mom! Really, now.
2. The FEELS. But that'll happen.

Overall, I need more books like this. SO MANY MORE BOOKS. I need ALL the books even remotely like this. Definitely something to consider as a gift, but maybe not for younger or easily triggered readers. Some pretty adult stuff happens to our little Yaquin.

Monday, December 26, 2016

NetGalley Review: A Mortal Song

Sora's life was full of magic--until she discovered it was all a lie.

Heir to Mt. Fuji's spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother's last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents' true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world's natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.

As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she's ever known.

My Review:

1. Sora, and Sora's Cahracter, and her dedication to help the people who lied to and betrayed her.
2. Chosen one finds out she's not so Chosen, but tries her best anyway.
3. ASIAN Representation, yo!

1. Chiyo: Come on. Like really, come on. She got on my nerves more than a few times.
2. Takeo: Clingy, much? 

Overall: I liked the plot, the worldbuilding, and the writing itself. But a lot of things (Chiyo and Takeo and almost everything they did or said) annoyed me. And the Dragonfly! The dragonfly wasn't annoying, but deserved better.

I can't say it's my favorite book on my shelf right now, but I will say I wouldn't hesitate to gift it to someone else. My sister, maybe.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ebook review: Parasol Protectorate #5 - Timeless

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, cannot put a dampener on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle. 

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

My Review:


1. What does the vampire of Egypt want from her? --- Well, it was pretty clear from the moment we found she was on Life Support that she wants death. She wants to die. Immortality isn't all that and a bag of chips, as it turns out.


3. And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire? --- She's not. She's really not. She's really only popular in Egypt....for some reason. 

Furthermore, can we talk about the utter failure of the vampires trying to kidnap Prudence? I mean, first you take a boy. Then you take a girl who is NOT Prudence. And also, you've already met Prudence so could you not just smell her under the bed???

But Alexia, my heart when she thought Conall was dead. My poor baby. 

And I still have a crush on Genevieve, after everything.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ebook Review: Parasol Protectorate #4 - Heartless

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

My Review: 


But honestly, points off for predictability here. There was just a tad too much foresight here. Although Lord Akeldama comes to the rescue by making sure the Vampires, at least, will stop trying to kill her for a moment. 

Felicity remains annoying and petty. Biffy is too sad and I need to give him a hug. (Or a lover but we'll get to that.)

"Madam, I believe you are having the baby."
"Not now, I'm busy!" --- you might think this is a trope, but I do know people like this. I admire it in a woman. 

Furthermore, I have just one thing to say to Lyall and Alexia: Secrets get you nowhere.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Ebook Review: Parasol Protectorate #3 - Blameless

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

BLAMELESS is the third book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

My Review:

The biggest thoughts: 1. CONALL IS SO STUPID. Even Lyall, in his Beta way, is trying to make him snap out of it and realize he's totally wrong. 2. Does anyone *not* have a crush on Genevieve?

Alexia loses two sources of supernatural protection, and people are still trying to kill her. So she goes to the people who want to get rid of people like her and her husband. Logic, much? I get that the big bad Vamps can't really get you there, but it's a little frying pan-fire situation, Alexia. Good thing she has Floote on her side. 

People are complaining about the ending, but in my opinion I don't think it warranted a fight. That wasn't the point. All the drama came from lack of communication and feelings of abandonment. How is fighting going to fix it at all?

Richy McRich-wolf still gets on my nerves, but I did admire his role in this book. I see you, Channing!
On that note, it's really hard to write about books in a series without spoiling anything. >< 


Monday, December 12, 2016

Ebook review: Parasol Protectorate #2: Changeless

Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

CHANGLESS is the second book of the Parasol Protectorate series: a comedy of manners set in Victorian London, full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

My Review:

My Lord, it got better. I wasn't sure, because once love comes into things I start getting bored. But it got better. I do love that Vieve Lefoux stayed in the series. She's becoming quite the interesting character. There were others who managed the change from Finishing school to protectorate, but they're more of just...cameos, really. No more depth than they had in the first series.

Let's talk Scotland. For weeks my house will have a running joke of "Oh my, are you showing KNEES?". And frustrations!!! Conall's behavior, first running off and then AT THE END. And Ivy, please stop being so useless. Just really. 

ProTip: Don't read the ending whole at work or school. If you're anything like me, you will be in the WORST mood until you read something happier.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ebook review: Parasol Protectorate #1 - Soulless

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire--and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My Review:

So now we know there are people with too much soul who can become immortal, and people with no soul at all--and someone is trying to kill the latter. I'll be honest. Going straight from the finishing school series to this series had an adjustment period. I suggest only launching into this book when you've had ample time to say goodbye to the last series.

That said, Alexia (A woman who prefers Libraries to parties - my heart!), Ivy (the goofy best friend), Werewolf McWolferson (Who is a love interest?), and Lord Akeldama(You remember HIM from the powerpuff girls?) are a lovely mix of characters with enough intrigue and action to make you want to launch into the next book right away.

Overall, the writing skill and ease of reading remain elevated with Ms. Carriger, and I immediately grabbed the second book as soon as I finished with this one. (Protip: Just buy the boxset. you won't want to wait between books)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Blogging for Books Christmas Gift review: Me - A compendium

Inventive, hilarious and joyously colorful, this fill-in journal was designed to help kids capture nearly everything that’s uniquely rad about them. With design-savvy, yet completely kid-friendly illustrations, they’re asked to draw or write about a bunch of interesting things — like what their hair looks like, what their band name would be, what they’d bring to outer space, and how they feel about lightning, lizards and pickles. There may or may not be a place for super-secret stuff inside the book jacket. Whether kids complete their entire compendium on a rainy day, or finish it over a year, it’ll become a treasure to look back on and smile. 

My Review:

I requested this book for Review because I have a certain 6 year old that is in need of a gift. I was worried it would be plain, and a little boring but the presentation of the artwork and prompts are fun, vibrant, simple, and give kids a voice.

My first diary was filled very quickly. Each page had one line on it, something like "I like collecting rocks" or "I have a sister" and really I feel bad for my mom for spending all that money on a fashion diary for a first grader who completely wasted it.

This journal is better. It's designed for kids. It can be used as a regift for their 18th birthday when they thought everyone forgot about their preferred superhero game. Just be sure to store it away instead of throwing those memories out.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tyndale review: 365 pocket morning prayers

Each morning when you arise, take a moment to talk with God about the day ahead. Ask Him to prepare your heart so that you can be ready to face any challenge that comes your way. 365 Pocket Morning Prayers can guide this time of life-changing conversation and help you express your needs and concerns to God. Don’t worry about what the day will bring. Instead, release your troubles and concerns into God’s care by reading and meditating on the prayers featured in 365 Pocket Morning Prayers. Begin your day in joyful anticipation, trusting that God is in control of your life and wants only the best for you. 

My Review:

This is a case in which you should most definitely judge a book by it's soft leather cover. This book is cute, small, easy to find in a purse without looking at it, and provides a convenient help to those just starting to pray by offering guidelines and examples of prayers. 

I received this book from Tyndale Publishers, who I work with a lot. I'm never paid for my reviews, and I never pay them for the books. My reviews are always honest and unbiased (unless they're about Christmas, then I'm totally biased. Love Christmas)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Netgalley Review: Everybody loves Ramen

Everybody Loves Ramen is the perfect gift for a high school graduate, college student, single friend living on a tight budget, or anyone who remembers the days when a package of ramen was haute cuisine.

As a college student, Eric Hites learned just how far he could stretch a dollar by combining a package of ramen noodles with some odd ingredients out of his nearly bare kitchen cupboards and a little imagination. Living on a tight budget, Hites and his friends spent many nights of fun, laughter, and experimentation figuring out how they could concoct original, cheap yet tasty meals from the only food they could truly afford: ramen noodles.

My Review:

This book is made up of four things: Recipes, magazine-style games, stories from people who have strong ramen memories, and ramen fun facts.

I appreciate that the ramen recipes stay true to the spirit of ramen: they're all cheap and most of the ingredients can be stored without a refrigerator. But what really sets this book apart from other college recipe books is the crosswords and word searches that you can fill out while those noodles are boiling. There are also little areas where you can fill out your experience making each recipe,
I like Ramen, but I don't need a ramen diary. 
Overall, this was a cute and well thought out little recipe book. And for ten bucks, why not? It has a good two months of recipes in it.