Sunday, July 23, 2017

July Book Club -The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant

We've been making themed refreshments for our book club get-togethers. That was my husbands brilliant idea and it has turned out to be one of the high-lights of our meetings every month, and this month, since it was a vampire book, I knew we would have to include blood. But what to do other than a red colored drink? After thinking on it for a while I started wondering if I could actually get drink pouches that looked like blood bags. You know, so we could drink from blood bags the same way Fred the vampire does in the book. And lo and behold, look what I found on Amazon...

We ended up filling them with a mixed berry drink and we sipped on them while we talked about the book. We had so much fun this month and I'm looking forward to next month when we all read Ready Player One. We already know we are going for an 80s theme, but no idea what the refreshments will be yet. Anyway, here is my review of the book:

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire AccountantThe Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew  Hayes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Comedy

Some people are born boring. Some live boring. Some even die boring. Fred managed to do all three, and when he woke up as a vampire, he did so as a boring one.

This was our book club pick for July. I enjoyed it quite a bit and found Fred the vampire to be quite clever and lovable, even if he was somewhat boring as an individual. In the beginning Fred goes to his high school reunion and runs into an old friend who ends up spicing his life up a bit. The book is divided into different stories about Fred. He ends up collecting a new friend in each new story, until he has his own little group of friends, who all happen to be supernatural beings like him. Besides the high school reunion story there are also stories about a LARP, a trip to Vegas, and a couple of kidnappings.

This book was funny, but not as funny as I was expecting it to be. For me, the best part was the jousting duel in Vegas. Just picturing that makes me laugh, but I don't want to spoil anything so I'm not going to give away any of the details. It turns out there are more books about Fred but I think I'm fine with calling this a stand-alone. It was a fun diversion, but not something that I really want to invest a lot of time in. If you are looking for something light to read between heavier, more complicated books, than this would fit the bill perfectly.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Steampunk, fantasy

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality...But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped.

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Reading Gail Carriger is always a delightful experience. Her characters are charmingly quirky and just plain fun. I love the funny and absurd names she gives her characters too. There is Mrs Barnaclegoose, Frowbritcher the butler, and Lord Dingleproops to name a few. Not only are the characters funny and quirky but her descriptions can be too. This paragraph is a good example:

"He was very pale and boasted an unassuming mustache, which was perched atop his upper lip cautiously, as though it were slightly embarrassed to be there and would like to slide away and become a sideburn or something more fashionable."

Overall Etiquette & Espionage is a very fun, lighthearted read that is set in the same alternate Victorian steampunk world as the Parasol Protectorate series. Time-wise this one is set before The Parasol Protectorate and we get to meet Genevieve Lefoux as a 9 year old and Sidheag Macon as a 14 year old. The setting works well in a YA novel, although this novel did feel somewhat more like a middle grade novel at times.

While I find certain aspects of Carriger's writing delightful, there is something that doesn't pull me in as much as I would like and I never really feel compelled to move onto the next book. Sadly that is again the case here. I'm not sure if I will ever read further into this series, but this book was fun and it did make me laugh which is always a plus.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby by William Ritter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult

Genre: Paranormal, Mystery

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--

The moment I saw that this was being marketed as Sherlock meets Doctor Who I knew I had to read it. I also knew those were huge shoes to fill so my expectations were rather low. I must say that I really liked Jackaby. It has a nice quirky charm to it.

The character Jackaby is very much like Sherlock and The Doctor rolled into one. He has the Doctor's eccentricity combined with Sherlock's blunt rudeness. Like Sherlock he is a private investigator, but like The Doctor he deals with the strange and unexplained. The strange and unexplained consists of several paranormal creatures.

I do feel inclined to add that there is no time travel. The comparisons to The Doctor are strictly personality based. This was a fun read that had a few laugh out loud moments. It was easy to figure out who the bad guy was, but mostly I was not disappointed in this book. I look forward to reading more in the series.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Novice (Summoner, #1)The Novice by Taran Matharu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy

When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

I've been looking forward to reading The Novice for a while and it mostly lived up to my expectations. I loved getting to know Fletcher, Sylva, and Othello. Fletcher ends up being pretty brilliant in this book. I loved the ideas he came up with for the tournament. This is a pretty standard mage school type book with tension between the students of different races (humans, elves, and dwarves) as well as between the upper and lower classes, with some of the nobles being predictably snooty and mean. However, I was pleased that the book didn't always follow the predictable path. There were a few times I thought the story was going to be predictable and it wasn't.

The thing I liked best about this book were the pet demons that the mages had. From cute little mites that could spy on people to powerful griffons and golems, they were all interesting. I also enjoyed reading the guide about them at the end of the book. The ending was a bit frustrating and it left me really wanting to know what happens next, so I'll definitely be reading more.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Caged GravesThe Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction 

17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery...Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in...

The Caged Graves really grabbed me from the very beginning. It was not as creepy as the description made it sound, but that was ok with me. There was a mystery to figure out and while I figured most of it out pretty early on I still enjoyed reading this. The book is meticulously researched. The time period felt authentic and the characters felt well developed. There is a love triangle in this book, but I actually liked it. It was well done and didn't feel just thrown in for no good reason. It was actually an important part in the development of the main character. In the beginning liked things about both love interests, but the one she ends up choosing in the end was definitely the best choice. I won't spoil it by saying why though.

The mystery surrounding the graves is what drew me to this, and the fact that there really are caged graves near the town in this book. No one knows why the real graves have cages around them. I liked the fact that the author actually used the names on the real headstones in the book and created a history and a reason for the cages.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Stitching SnowStitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera

Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Stitching Snow is a sci-fi space retelling of Snow White. What I really liked about it was that Snow or Essie as she calls herself, is a smart capable girl. She didn't just get that way by accident either. She had to be or she wouldn't have survived. I also liked that the romance didn't take over the story or Essie's brain for that matter. She didn't let her feelings for Dane interfere with what had to be done, and he didn't either. They were both willing to sacrifice what needed to be sacrificed to do what needed to be done. I liked the support they gave each other, it was just really sweet.

I enjoyed the way the different elements of the Snow White story were added to this version. I thought the drones in the place of dwarfs were a great idea and really would have liked to have seen more of them. The apple shaped pendant was another nice touch. The hunter who takes her off to kill her at the queen's orders was there as well, but in the form of a guard. There was no mirror, but the queen's jealousy was given a different reason in this story, a more disturbing reason than just vanity. I was a little surprised that was included in a YA book, not that I think it shouldn't have been it's just not a subject that is included very often in YA. I felt like the author handled the subject well and that it fit into the story and wasn't just added for pure shock value.

One of this book's shortcomings I think is a lack of world building. The tech side of the sci-fi was well covered, I just felt like the space side could have been more detailed. I would have liked more description of the different planets and all of their surroundings so I could feel like I was in space. This did remind me a lot of The Lunar Chronicles but Marissa Meyer did something completely different with her retelling of Snow White. This is also a stand-alone. There is a companion novel coming out this year, but no sequel. I like that.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

SkyfarerSkyfarer by Joseph Brassey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Catergory: Adult
Genre: Fantasy

I really enjoyed this book! The mages in this story open portals for their Skyships to pass through, allowing them to travel from place to place more quickly. Aimee is an apprentice portalmage whose first portal casting goes awry, and she and the crew of her ship end up somewhere other than where they were supposed to be. They end up right in the middle of a war. While there Aimee and the rest of the crew learn about a mythical relic called the Axiom Diamond that has the power to show its bearer any truth they desire. They set out to find it before the ruthless Lord Azrael and the infamous Knights of the Eternal Order find it and use it to their advantage.

Skyfarer ended up being just about everything I was hoping it would be. It was a fast, fun read and I loved the characters. Aimee and Azrael were my favorites. There are some plot threads that were left hanging and I'm hoping there will be a sequel. I would really love to read more about this world.

Thanks to NetGalley and Angry Robot for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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