2018 ARCs!!!

About once a quarter we receive a box of ARCs from Baker and Taylor.  It is part of their ARC program for libraries and the program has separate boxes for MG and adult fiction.  They may have a separate program for picture books but I am unsure.  If you’d like to be part of the ARC program, please contact your B&T rep.

Now onto the books

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I’ve read Children of Blood and Bone and The Belles.  You can find my review of The Belles in January 2018 SLJ print publication.

I’m excited about It Should Have Been You and Ash Princess and Orphan Monster Spy and I’ll probably be finishing those by the end of February.

Have you read any of these titles? Which ones should I read first?

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First in Line

First In Line is going to be difficult to explain because there is no information about it on their website so if my info is wrong, sorry.  I signed up at a booth at ALA.

First In Line is a kind-of-subscription-box for librarians.  Although it is from Underlined, it is Penguin Random House.  Every couple of months you receive three ARCs and each ARC comes with samplers and display materials for librarians to put in their stacks.  The books you receive are really book ARCs so if you are interested in this program, visit Underlined and sign up for the newsletter to get started!

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Books from this quarter’s box

December 2017: Any Bangs

The last two months have been super crunch time to meet my Goodreads goal and although I completed my 90 book goal, technically I finished my 90th book on January 1st.  But I was 2/3 of the way through and I’m counting it.

This was a rough month meaning no bangs but it ended strong.  Click on the title for full reviews. (Not all books have reviews).

one of us is lying

One of Us is Lying

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

I wasn’t expecting a critical read but I was expecting a good mystery considering this has been on the NY Times bestseller list for weeks.  It began pretty well but then it dragged ass and that ending-WTF?  I was legit going back to the crime scene to figure out who was doing what and that didn’t even matter. UGH!!!


see what i have done

See What I Have Done

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

I like many are fascinated by Lizzie Borden and this debut was a good try but unfortunately, Schmidt used the small amount of evidence available and tried to fill 300 pages.  Too repetitive.


loneliest girl

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

I reviewed this for SLJ and you can catch it in a future publication.


love hate and filters

Love, Hate, and Other Filters

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

This is an okay light hearted romance with a bit of Islamophobia.  The ending was a bit too unrealistic.


rebels of gold

Rebels of Gold

Bang Bang Rating: DNF

I loved the first two and this one was good but it was all about an impending war that I could predict the outcome and I was just not interested.  I got about 2/3’s in and skipped to the end and I was right.  It’s still a good fantasy and I highly recommend it.


dear martin

Dear Martin

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

Not very deep.


you bring the distance near

You Bring the Distance Near

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb

Too much telling and not enough showing.


everless

Everless

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 3/4

A little info dumpy but the idea was interesting.


batman book

Batman

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb

Solid story but it was a bit boring.


vicious

Vicious

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 3/4

I don’t know why I waited so long to read this but it was GREAT! This book was a struggle because we are conditioned to pick a side and root for them but both characters were monsters and they both had good points.  I went back and forth-FRUSTRATING but good frustrating.


I’m tired and I’m not reading a damn thing for two weeks.  When I do decide to read, here’s the rundown.

2018 So Far

So I started reading 2018 books in October because I ran out of 2017 books to read.  You might be saying, “Dawn, you don’t like anything.” Trust me, I hear it from my friends all the time and I’d like to say that I do like stuff-I’m just REALLY picky.  I’m a critical reader which means I enjoy books that challenge me with multiple themes, a unique voice, and beautiful prose.  I’m also a sucker for a quotey book and a book that mixes genres.  If a book is full of tropes; is predictable as hell; has the same voice I’ve heard a MILLION times; or has elementary writing, I’m not gonna like it, people!  I’m all about own voices and I’m super excited to see so many authors of color but that doesn’t excuse bad writing (in my opinion).

With being said, here we go…And as always, click the title for full reviews.

everless

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

This is a debut fantasy and I usually don’t like debut fantasy but this one has great potential.  The world uses time as currency which is a unique spin on the haves and the have nots.  The mythology was interesting but a bit convoluted.  The major reveals and world building were info dumped but there was an attempt at uniqueness and the writing was solid.  I also liked the female friendships-I’m sick of girl hate.

You should definitely read this.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 3/4


ink iron glass

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Here’s another debut fantasy and I did NOT like this one.  First of all, it’s only 336 pages-RED FLAG, RED FLAG!  This usually means the world building is shitty and not well developed-it wasn’t.  The premise is cool-a scriptologist can write a world and “people” can live in it.  The execution however was not good as it tried to mix in historical Italian fiction but it was all info dumped and not very interesting.  There was insta love and the character development was weak.  Then the author tried to execute a plot twist that contained no foreshadowing therefore rendering it anticlimactic.

Although the cover is beautiful, RUN AWAY!  Read Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine instead.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb


children of blood and bone

Published March 6, 2018

Are you scared of what I’m going to say? I had high hopes for this because of the hype and I was also scared of what I was going to think.

I like it a lot-PHEW! The character development was strong, the pacing was fantastic considering it is 600 pages, the plot was well developed and easy to follow, and it contained some thought provoking themes.  I’m so happy to see a fantasy with an all black cast.

Add it to your collection the day it’s published.

Bang Bang Ratingbang

 (I initially gave it 4.8 but that’s dumb; I’ll just up it to a perfect 5)


love hate and filters

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

This is marketed as Islamophobia and although there are instances of it, it is not the main focus by any means.  Islamophobia theme to me means it’s going to contain a deep discussion and strong themes but it doesn’t.  This is more like a light hearted romance with a smattering of Islamophobia but the voice wasn’t nuanced enough to love this.  It’s just okay.

Read The Hate U Give instead.  I’ve only read three books about Islamophobia and none of them were noteworthy.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb


thunderhead

January 9, 2018

This was a nonstop roller coaster with a death drop at the end-DAMN! This is the type of science fiction book I like.  This book has strong themes of mortality and abuse of power. There are complex characters and timely world building even though it’s post apocalyptic.  Once again, I initially gave it 4.5 because I wrote my review immediately after reading when my emotions were all over the place-THAT DAMN CLIFFHANGER ENDING!  But upon reflection, I will bump it up.

This was better than book 1.

Bang Bang Rating: bang


traitor's game

Publication Date: February 28, 2018

I loved the False Prince and I think Neilsen should stick to middle grade books.  The main character was awful and the insta love was gross.  There’s nothing new to see here, folks.

Read The False Prince, Kiss of Deception, or Winner’s Curse instead.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb 1/2


the hazel wood

Publication Date: January 20, 2018

So I don’t like Alice in Wonderland because it’s too much imagery for me to grasp.  I didn’t know this was a retelling even though the main character’s name is Alice and her grandma’s book references Hinterland.  Nevertheless, I DNFed this because although it started off well, it got a little too nutty for me with the twists and turns and the double agents and such.  I’m not the best person to listen to because of my dislike of Alice in Wonderland so I may not be the best person to advise.

Bang Bang Rating: DNF


dread nation

Publication Date: April 3, 2018

It pains me to say this because I love the premise but the execution of this was bad.  The voice was not special and the racism was stereotypical-racist sheriff/villain calling blacks darkies and setting them up for failure? The racist sheriff is not nuanced.  Publishers/editors cannot rely on a great cover and premise to sell books.  The editor should tell the author to have the main character say something serious about race and in this book’s case, the emancipation proclamation.  The characters were all characters we’ve read before-the sassy black girl who knows more than everyone in the room, the beautiful female nemesis who turns out to be okay, the fast talking hot guy womanizer with a heart of gold-COME ON!!!  This book is about zombies and zombie hunters in 1865; do something with it!!  It makes me angry when you have a vocal author (I follow Justina on Twitter) who obviously has something to say but it doesn’t translate into her books.  I strongly believe it’s the editor’s job to help authors write great books.

Read Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin instead.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbomb 1/2


cruel prince

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

I wanted to like this book even though I’ve yet to like anything by Holly Black.  I know I’m in the minority here but this book had NO plot.  The main character made extremely dumb choices and not just dumb but unrealistic.  She’s the type of character that has no training but falls ass backwards into good luck-I hate that shit.  There’s an issue I had between Jules and her sister that really ticked me off and the whole hanging out with the fey who are sadistically trying to kill her just bothered me.

This book made me angry because I had such high hopes and I felt like I wasted my time with this big ass book-(insert angry emoji).

Read or reread Throne of Glass or Falling Kingdoms instead.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb


batman book

January 2, 2018

Marie Lu is a good storyteller and this was no exception.  Something however was missing and I’m not sure what it was.  The character development was good and the story was good but I was bored and I like Batman.  I can’t put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy this book.

This is still worth a read.

Bang Bang Review: bombbombbomb 3/4


I would love to share my thoughts on these books but I can’t just yet because I reviewed them for SLJ, School Library Journal. When they are published in the journal, I will post my honest review.

 

Most Surprising Books of 2017

These are books where I had no expectations and they ended up surprising me as a really good read. Click the titles for full review.

city of saints and thieves

I was gonna read this early in the year but I read some Goodreads reviews and decided to not read it.  DAMN, I SHOULDN’T HAVE LISTENED TO GOODREADS.  This book was thrilling and exciting and a bit difficult to get through because of the sex slavery trade.  The pacing was good, the characters were well developed, and the mystery was pretty solid.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb


thief

I wanted to read the series before Thick as Thieves came out even though you didn’t have to.  I wasn’t surprised that this book was good but I was surprised by the story.  There are no ages which was interesting and it’s full of political intrigue which I also found interesting considering it was a Newberry Honor. I loved the main character and the story as a whole.  The series seems to be for older teens because there’s not a lot of action that would hold the attention of a younger teen but it’s a solid series.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb


gilded-cage

I’m not sure why I picked up this book but I’m glad I did.  This is set in the near future in England where slavery was not abolished but evolved.  Nonmagical people have to spend 10 years in slavery where they are servants or serve in work houses.  Anyway, this book is about power, privilege, and love and it’s DARK.  There are hella characters but they are all extremely well developed and the world building is fantastic.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 1/2


alchemists-of-loom

I’m not a fan of this cover but it had a HIGH rating on Goodreads and the GR rating is gospel for me.  I’m glad I chose it because this series is great.  Very strong heroines and their gender is never a focal point.  There’s some political intrigue, a repressed nation that’s fed up and ready to fight, and a love story that’s not in your face.  Ignore this cover and read this series.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb 1/2


song of the current

Not sure why this book flew under the radar when other shitty books were promoted to death.  If you’re curious about which shitty books I’m referring to, click here to read my disappointing reads of 2017.  It’s Bloomsbury which means they spent their budget on Sarah J. Maas-GEEZ!

This is a debut and I don’t like debut fantasy because they are usually horrible but this one had a diverse cast of pirates.  It was funny and thrilling and I liked the love story and it wasn’t fluffy.  The main character was dealing with some issues surrounding the nation he inherited and the other main character was dealing with identity issues.  If you are looking for a diverse pirate fantasy, check out this series.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb

Everless

everless

Everless

By: Sara Holland

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Bang Bang Review

The country of Everless uses time as currency and Jules’ father is running out of time trying to pay the taxes of the Gerling royal family.  Although Jules’ father begs her not to give her blood/time to pay the bills and warns her about going to Everless, the home of the royal family, Jules wants to contribute and defies her father.

So this is a debut and I HATE debut fantasy because it’s usually shitty.  This book is also only 360 pages which I’ve learned the hard way that if a book one in a fantasy series is less than 400 pages, that’s a PROBLEM.  It usually means the world is info dumped and the first chapter of Everless was indeed info dumped.  But because the mythology was interesting and the writing was okay, I continued to read.

Let’s start with Jules.  She’s your typical poor girl living in a land of starving people who are over taxed by the royal family.  Her father wants to protect her but she’s not gonna listen to her father-if she did, there would be no story.  No, she decides to go the Everless, the  castle, to work for the royals even though she and her father were cast out ten years prior because they knew too much.  Screw that, Jules goes anyway and she hopes to see Roan, the prince she befriended ten years prior.  And you know she’s in love with him because obviously and because she reminds us several times.  Then there’s the evil brooding older brother that she hates and you can probably venture a guess as to where this is going.  I forget to mention that Jules can stop time but she doesn’t know how or why and in other fantasies, the heroine would ignore this skill until it conveniently rears its head to save them but Jules actually recalls this skill several times so she avoids this trope. Jules is likable even though she’s constantly fawning over Prince Roan.  She asks the right questions albeit sometimes she doesn’t ask them at the proper times but nonetheless, she asks them.  She’s inquisitive and too nice for her own good which gets her into serious jams-WHY ARE YOU GOING BACK TO THE CASTLE WHERE THE QUEEN COULD POSSIBLE KILL YOU?  LEAVE YOUR DAMN CLOTHES, GIRL!

As a debut, the execution of the story was almost great but the end got a little convoluted and the answers weren’t coming fast enough.  Holland continuously presented the reader with more and more and more questions without equally providing answers.  Holland attempted to include clues for the reader to try to figure out Jules true identity and which characters were double agents but she fell too short and the ending was info dumped by several people-DAMN, THAT WAS UNFORTUNATE.  I liked the use of time as a currency which made for a solid metaphorical statement.

The female friendships in this story is worth mentioning because although it contains contentious relationships, there were a couple of pretty good female friendships which means it passed the bechdel test-YAY!

The world was the most interesting part of the story especially the mythology. There’s a sorceress and an alchemist and it’s all about them so I encourage you to pay attention to their story.  I applaud Holland for trying something different but the execution fell a bit too short and when you get to the end, you’ll see. I’m interested to see where Holland takes this story so I will be reading book two.  I recommend this series and I hope Holland’s editor encourages her to fix the pacing and stop the info dumping.  She needs to figure out a way to weave the backstory into the narrative and she needs to provide better clues and foreshadowing for the reader.

Spoiler edition to come.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 3/4 (It was going to be a 4 until the last twenty pages.)

Most Disappointing Books of 2017

It’s that time of year again; time to get bitchy and cheery about books-YAY.

This week, I’ll post my most disappointing books; the books that I shockingly liked; the worst books of the year; 2018 books that I’ve liked and disliked so far; and my faves of the year.  I actually did my faves of the year so click here to see that list.

So off we go with my most disappointing books of 2017.  Disclaimer, the books on this list were books I was REALLY excited about and they didn’t live up to my extremely impossibly high expectations.  Some of these books I gave a low rating and some I gave a high rating.  Click the cover if you want to read my full review.

These are in no particular order

that inevitable victorian thing

I loved Exit, Pursued by a Bear but this book-YIKES!! The characters were underdeveloped, there were dropped storylines, the world building was incomplete and not very interesting, and I don’t give two shits about the Canadian railway.  Sorry Canada and Canadians but I don’t give two shits about the American railway either.

Bang Bang Rating bombbombbomb


one of us is lying

I wasn’t expecting a critical read but I was expecting a good mystery considering this has been on the NY Times bestseller list for weeks.  It began pretty well but then it dragged ass and that ending-WTF?  I was legit going back to the crime scene to figure out who was doing what and that didn’t even matter. UGH!!!

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb


wrinkle in time

I know, I know and I hate to say it but WHAT THE HELL was happening in this book?!! We didn’t read this in school and I grew up in a town called Zion so maybe it was because of the religion aspect? Who knows.  Anyway, it starts off great with the weird six year old and the rough and tumble girl and the interesting bag like lady but then the pacing went bananas.  Then I couldn’t understand why no one was pointing out that a six year old does not talk or act like that and that ending was too abrupt.  I applaud the author for writing about black holes and god in the same book but DAMN, that was not a good book.  I will however go see the movie.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb


dear martin

I waited a long time to read this book, last week to be exact, and I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like it.  I’ve seen Nic at ALA long before her book was published so I knew this book was going to be hyped but you know when you get that feeling…Well I was correct-no thanks.  I do think this book is a good conversation starter but that’s it.  There’s no depth to the real conversation and the character development was absent.  This book is called Dear Martin so I expected some deep inspirational convos with MLK.  Nope, he mostly talked about the white girl he liked that his mother won’t approve of.  I think MLK has other things to care about other than your insensitive mother.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb


flame in the mist

OMG, this book was hyped to DEATH and boy did it disappoint.  I like to begin by saying that I’ve met Renee and she’s a sweet woman but she needs to fire her editor and fast.  She has great ideas and I like the folklore she incorporates but she needs someone to tell her to STOP IT with the Mary Sue heroines.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb ( I was being generous with a three)


warcross

Marie Lu is a hit or miss for me but it’s mostly been hits so imagine my surprise and disappointment when I read this mess.  Emiko made some dumbass mistakes like not checking her room for bugs or checking her back when she went to meet, dude.  Sorry, forgot his name.  And that ending, I saw that coming a mile away.  And that instalove?  NOOOO, Marie does the slow burn romance so well.  I loved June and Day but this couple-GROSS!

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 1/2


a conjuring of light

UGH, it hurts my feelings to say this but I did not like this series ender.  Rhy is such a weakling and I feel he never really recovered or it was a bit too late- either way it SUCKED FAT ONES!  Did we find out who Kel was? Did I miss it?  It was too much going on and I didn’t enjoy it.  I also listened to the audiobook for this one and I did not like the voices for Rhy, Alucard, or Kel.  Good god, Alucard sounded like an old ass man-NO!  I still love Schwab and if you get the chance to hear her speak, I HIGHLY recommend it-she’s inspiring.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 1/2


gentleman's guide

This book was a HOT ASS MESS.  Monty was the worst-completely unlikeable and I know he’s supposed to be but in my opinion, he never redeemed himself.  The topic of race was  was stereotypical-“Look everyone, a negro is in the room.  Are you the help?”  COME ON!!! Their unrequited love is so played out; I need to see something new, people. The sister was a trope-oh the girl who is smart and doesn’t want to be a princess (insert eye roll emoji).  And the eavesdropping of every important conversation just to advance the plot, NO.  Lee needs to find another way.  NOPE, NOPE, NOPE

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb (Once again, I’m being generous with this three)


jane unlimited

I liked Graceling and I think Cashore is a good writer but this-NO.  I liked the find your own adventure format and I was all about that but this book was a snooze fest.  The characters were quirky and mysterious and interesting but it was often too much unnecessary info.  And art forgery? Teen don’t give a shit about that.  The fact that these characters were in college lead me to believe this is new adult as I do not know what teen to give this to.

Bang Bang Rating: DNF


the upside

I loved Simon and I’m excited about the movie but I think I had too many expectations for her second book.  I did like it but I feel like this book is written explicitly for a 16 year old girl and it does not relate to the masses.  I read almost exclusively YA and in most contemporary, I can find some nuggets of relatable info but this one-NOPE!  I kept yelling at the protagonist to GET OVER IT ALREADY, GEEZ.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb


goodbye-days

This suffered from the same issues as Upside of Unrequited.  Serpent King was one of my top books of 2016 and this book lacked everything that I loved about TSK-the seamless incorporation of religion and the hope of a better future.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked it but not as much as I thought I would.  Also, I love Zentner and if you get the opportunity to see him, please do. Perhaps he’ll wear a kerchief like he did when I met him.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbombbomb


a-ship-beyond-time

I thought the end of book one was a hot mess but I like Heilig’s writing particularly the relationship between Nix and Kash but this book…Heilig started changing the rules of her world and I was like, HELL NO!  The strong character development from book one was missing and I couldn’t make it through.

Bang Bang Rating:  DNF


hunting prince dracula

I didn’t necessarily love book one but I did like to dynamic between the main characters. I do love Dracula so I was interested but most of my disappointment came from my poor reading abilities.  See, the title is Hunting Prince Dracula and that’s pretty much what they do for the entire book-hunting.  It’s not called Hanging Out with Prince Dracula so I was surprised when I got a lot of, “I’m a girl; look at me” and not a lot of Dracula.

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb


If you liked any of these books on this list, I apologize but not really- LOL.

Were there any books that really disappointed you this year?