Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Monday, December 4, 2017

DNF Review: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares (Krystal Sutherland)

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Title: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Series: standalone
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Told: Third Person (Esther), Past Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (strong language, underage drinking, innuendo, violence, abuse, attempted suicide, parental neglect, body parts, disturbing serial crimes...)
Format Read: ARC (trade)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather met Death, her entire family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime—a fear that will eventually lead each and every one of them to their graves. Take Esther’s father, for instance: He’s an agoraphobe who hasn’t left the basement in six years. Then there’s her twin brother, Eugene, whose fear of the dark goes far beyond the things that go bump in the night. And her mother, Rosemary, is absolutely terrified of bad luck.

As for Esther, she’s managed to escape the curse…so far. She doesn’t yet have a great fear because she avoids pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, crowds—anything that might trigger a phobia is off-limits and is meticulously recorded in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares. 

Esther thinks she has it all figured out, until she’s reunited with an old elementary school classmate—and first crush—Jonah Smallwood. The encounter leaves her stranded at a bus stop and swindled out of her phone, all her cash, a Fruit Roll-Up she’d been saving, and her list—not to mention her dignity. But the theft is also the beginning of an unexpected friendship between the two, one that sends the pair on a journey of self-discovery as they try to break the curse that’s consumed Esther’s family. Together they face their greatest fears, one debilitating phobia at a time, only to discover the one fear they hadn’t counted on: love.

*          *          *

I did not finish this book. I stopped at Chapter 27 (Page 240 of 348).

I tried to finish this book. I really did. For over 2 months I tried again and again, setting it aside for a week or two and then picking it back up to try once more. But with every try the story further depressed and eventually disturbed me until I simply couldn't continue.

This isn't to say the book is bad - on the contrary. It's an engaging story with an original plot, a snarky and unique voice, and an air of The Addams Family, and for those who enjoy grittier realistic fiction with a touch of the macabre I would highly recommend it. But for an easily depressed soul such as myself who really can't handle contemporary fiction without a soppy romance focus, this story was just too real for me - with its colorful, catty cover and interesting summary I was fooled into believing I could handle any heavier content, and was sorely mistaken. The book has a serious dark side in the spiraling phobias of Esther's family, as well as Jonah's abusive situation, and to deal with it the understandably rather unstable teens drink and act out to excess. (There is also quite a lot of strong language, which always puts me off.) Just one of these things, possibly two, and I might have been able to soldier through, but all of it together left me ever more melancholy with every chapter until in a declaration of self-kindness after the disturbing Chapter 26 I finally allowed myself to let the book go unfinished.

I did lightly skim the remaining 100 or so pages and am glad to say the story does have a redemptive conclusion. But it came in the wake of even more unsettling content, and I am relieved I did not subject myself to it fully.

Conclusion: If you love darker realistic fiction with playful premises, do not pass this up. But if like me you require your contemporary reads to possess a large amount of fluff and good feels, don't let the flowery purple cover fool you - there's sadly little of either to be had in this book.

For Fans Of: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle (my review)

Friday, December 1, 2017

The #FridayReads Review (12/1/17)

Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School, #2)
Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger (PBK)
Last month I was in such a reading slump but still itching to read something so I finally just started re-reading my favorite series! Thoroughly enjoyed the first book but I've never been much of a series binger so now in the midst of Book the Second I'm starting to get antsy for a different read. Not sure exactly what though, so in the meantime Sophronia's adventures continue.

The Stone Heart (The Nameless City, #2)Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight 1Yokai Rental Shop Vol. 1

The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (PBK)
3 Stars. While the story is interesting, for such a big fantasy plot it reads rather subdued and simplistic. Still I enjoyed the very quick read and look forward to finishing the series with what I believe is the final volume next year.

Kiss Me at the Stroke of Midnight vol. 1 by Rin Mikimoto (PBK)
4 Stars. Almost didn't bring this home from the library and now so glad I did! Despite the boy's caboose fetish I really enjoyed the characters, humor and story - will definitely be picking up the next volume!

Yokai Rental Shop vol. 1 by Shin Mashiba (PBK)
3 Stars. Not quite as good as I'd been hoping but a little more interesting than I was expecting with both an unusual yet also rather familiar premise with intriguing characters and twists. Might give the second volume a try.

(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Ash Princess
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian (ARC)
Still eyeing this after a month - time for fantasy?

So what are you reading this week?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Giveaway: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl (Melissa Keil)

It's finally time for a giveaway!! 

Up for grabs: two finished editions of Melissa Keil's The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl (Goodreads), a YA Contemporary set in Australia about comics, best friends, the end of the world, and life after graduation.

I'm giving away both copies pictured, and you can choose your preference: right is the Australian softcover, and left the US hardcover. A note about the hardcover: it includes chapterly illustrations (by Mike Lawrence) - if you enjoy novels with a bit of art, you might want to give it a try. The hardcover also comes with the wire hairband it's wrapped in (courtesy of the publisher).

Want to give this colorful story a read? Enter the Rafflecopter below!

RULES: US only (sorry International Followers!); must be 16 years or older to enter. Following this blog is not required but counts for major points! ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King (Tricia Levenseller)

Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King, #1)
Title: Daughter of the Pirate King
Series: Daughter of the Pirate King, Book 1
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Adventure
Told: First Person (Alosa), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (violence, killing, abuse, minor torture, sensuality, innuendo and sexual implications - see Content Note below)
Format Read: ARC (BookHype)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

*          *          *

In a Sentence: A quick and thoroughly entertaining pirate adventure with an easy writing style and truly kick-ass female protagonist.

Confession: Unless there's a lot of comedy involved (a la Pirates of the Caribbean), I'm generally not much for pirates. So although I'd heard good things about Daughter of the Pirate King, going in my expectations were low. To my surprise I discovered an exciting and engaging adventure with the truly kick-ass female protagonist so many other books have promised but few have actually delivered.

While Alosa's tendency to turn all the horrific things that happened to her into "teaching moments" wasn't exactly the healthiest, she was a genuine pirate princess and embraced it, her strength and surety and fearlessness a beautiful thing to behold. Her power was also different and interesting and added a nice twist to her character and personality. Cute and tortured Riden was an excellent foil and love interest, and his banter with Alosa was naturally a highlight. Their "relationship" was an intriguing one as Alosa's character, so detached after her violent upbringing, doesn't even seem to recognize or understand the concept of love, and I look forward to watching her discover it - with Riden's help - over the rest of the series.

Despite the murder and marauding that always accompanies pirates, the story's easy, breezy writing style made for a light and effortless read. The plot was simple with only one or two twists, which I found very refreshing - so many book plots nowadays try to outdo themselves twist-wise and end up a messy knotted ball for all their threads, and as I can typically predict most of them it's grown rather tiresome. With just Alosa's ruse and her search and little else to Pirate King's plot I could relax and enjoy the quick adventure without suspiciously second-guessing every little thing. I will say the last 30% or so had some flaws, but for the most part it was an engaging story with a satisfying ending.

Content Note: I typically avoid pirates because of the filth and debauchery that accompanies them, but told in an easy writing style from the viewpoint of a detached and fearless female I felt the dingier bits of pirate life and rateable content (see Content Rating above) were very tastefully handled and for the most part blessedly skimmed over.

Conclusion: An easy and entertaining adventure with an uncomplicated plot, fantastically fearless female protagonist, and tastefully handled piracy. I wasn't even 20% through when I found myself wishing I already had the sequel to read next, and now look forward to Alosa's next adventure, Daughter of the Siren Queen, with great anticipation!

Scribble Rating
4 of 5 Scribbles

Friday, October 20, 2017

Nanowrimo 2017

It's that time of year again!

Although most years I typically say I won't participate in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) and then reluctantly do, this year I've been completely on board for months now! I'll be assisting my local library in launching their Nanowrimo Young Writers Program, and this November plan to start writing the first book in a new sci-fi serial series whose main character I am completely potty about. In general though I've been itching to write and this is the perfect excuse to finally throw myself into it without feeling [too] guilty about neglecting life and blogging.

So heads up, dear followers: as I plot and plan for Nanowrimo this month and then furiously write the next, posts will be spotty as I have less time to read and work on reviews. I'll see if I can't try to schedule some giveaways though, to hold you over until December. ;)

Are you participating in Nanowrimo? Find me here!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WoW: Daughter of the Siren Queen (Tricia Levenseller)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blogging event in which one spotlights an upcoming release they are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King, #2)
Title: Daughter of the Siren Queen
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

The capable, confident, and occasionally ruthless heroine of Daughter of the Pirate King is back in this action-packed sequel that promises rousing high seas adventures and the perfect dash of magic.

Alosa's mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he's under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father's justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.

In Daughter of the Siren Queen, Tricia Levenseller brings together the perfect mix of thrilling action, tense battle scenes, and a heart-pounding romance.

Why I'm Looking Forward To It: I'm typically not much for pirates but I thoroughly enjoyed Daughter of the Pirate King and so can't wait to continue kick-ass Alosa's adventures in this sequel!!

So what book are you waiting on?