Six Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente

In the past month I have read two completely different Snow White retellings. One set in space and one set in the old west. To different stories written by two different authors….What I liked was that there the perspectives of both authors was very different. There were some similarities to the Snow White character that I found interesting. However, what I found most interesting is the differences in the characters and the journeys the characters took.

Summary: A Snow White retelling set in the old west.

What I liked: I love the way Valente took Snow Whites story and twisted it to make it her own but you could still see the original story underneath. I don’t want to give away too much of the story but there are strong feminist underpinnings. I loved the twist with the Dwarves. The ending was amazing and I was not expecting it.

What I didn’t like: The story was slighty slow in the beginning but I think that it helped build up the anticipation for the rest of the story.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: I think that the story was told in such a way that it feels fresh and relevant in todays society. I truly enjoyed this take on Snow White. I was not surprised at the feminist undertone of the story but I think that it brings up a lot of important points that really make you think about aspects of society today.

The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen

“All houses in which men have lived, suffered and died are haunted houses.” – Mary Roberts Rhinehart. Who doesn’t love a story about a spooky house. That you read with minimal lighting and a cup of hot chocolate. If you don’t then what the hell is wrong with you. LOL. I was really lucky to have received this little gem of a book in the mail.

Summary: A man returns to his home town after a personal tragedy. (I can’t tell anymore or there will be spoilers)!!

What I liked: I liked the fact that this wasn’t just a haunted house story. There is so much more to it. The characters were very well fleshed out and are three dimensional. They each have good and bad traits which make them more human and likable. I also like how the circular the story was. Sorensen is a great writer and was able to convey very complex human emotions with words.

What I didn’t like: The only thing I was kind of unsure of is where the crow fit in. I would have liked a bit more explanation as too what the crow symbolized. But I am not going to use that to take away from my rating.

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: I really liked this book. I found myself getting profoundly sad for the protagonist towards the end. I liked the fact that this wasn’t just a spooky haunted house story. The story had real meat to it and I felt that Sorensen’s writing conveyed the horror and sadness that this story had. But there is some vindication there too. Which being me I love in a story. Such a good story I can’t read more in the series.

I want to thank Chris Sorensen for providing me a copy of The Nightmare Room for my honest review.

Dwarves of Calcus by Katie Hamstead

Have you ever started a book that you weren’t quite sure about but then it surprised you. Surprised you in a good way, not in a bad way. Anyone who has even glanced at my blog knows that I read a lot of fairytale retellings. Some good, some not so good. But this surprise was good.

What I liked: I like the whole series of books. I was really surprised by how Hamstead was able to take a very well known fairytale and make it something unique and her own. I loved the interweaving of technology and magic. The pacing of the book was very good and was well written.

What I didn’t like: I am never a big fan of the princess needs a prince to save her trope. There was a little of this in the book but I understand why because of the story Hamstead was telling. But this was the only real thing that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 4.5

My thoughts: This was the third book of The Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles the other two books were provided by the publisher Quriosity Quills. I really enjoyed this retelling. I am not sure I am going to read the next book even though I enjoyed the first three. But they were fun and light reads that I enjoyed.

A Never Ending TBR…Screw the monthly list

I have made a decision…I am no longer going to be making TBRs for the month. Okay I should probably rephrase that. I am no longer going to be making personal TBRs for the month. I have decided to fight the power. Let me explain why…Every now and again I see people talking about their TBR like it is a bad thing. For example: “ohhhh I have too many books to read..I am on a book buying ban, I need to read my TBRs”….or my all time favorite “My TBR is going to fall over and kill me in the night.” FYI this could totally happen. Especially if you have hoarder tendencies which I do not, but still it could happen.

So what started me thinking about TBRs (no I wasn’t going to Krispy Kreme this time), I was talking to an instagram buddy and she was complaining that she isn’t ever going to get through her entire TBR. I was flummoxed and my brain could not comprehend this. I proceeded to ask her if as readers aren’t we always going to have a TBR list/pile/entire rooms? Isn’t there always going to be books that you want to read? She ruminated on this idea for a bit and still held firm to the idea that she would like to read down her TBR. But in my head I was screaming “There are always new books being released and thousands of backlist books to be read. So the TBR is always going to be there.”

Not having a TBR is something I don’t want to even think about. The only people that I know who don’t have a TBR are people who don’t read. So, would mean by not having a TBR you would not be reading! Just think about that one for a second. No TBR…No reading. The thought actually makes me a bit queasy. Not having a stack of physical or digital books somewhere that can be read at anytime is not a world I would want to inhabit. Nothing about this TBR discussion makes any sense. So being the rebel I am I decided to screw the whole TBR list! I am fighting the power! No longer will I look at the stack of books that is tittering on the edge of my bookshelf and think HOLY SHIT I am never going to be able to read all of these books. Never again will I look at a book and think you know I really need to read this list of books before I read this one. So in essence I am not going to keep a list of personal books I need to read. I am going to read whatever the hell I want in whatever order I want to. If I want a new book I am going to get it. So here is me fighting the ridiculous notion that TBRs are a bad thing. TBRs just means you have books that you always have books you want to read.

*The only caveat I have are ARCs. I have a list of ARCs that need to be read per publication month*

Peril in the Old Country By Sam Hooker

I enjoy the routine that having a quiet life brings. There aren’t many things that are completely unexpected, your day has a little road map. What were to happen if that road map was completely thrown out the window due to no fault of your own? Your family isn’t who you thought they we were. You get a promotion that isn’t necessarily a promotion. Then you would understand how Peril feels.

Summary: Sloot Peril is living a quiet life as an accountant in the Old Country until a promotion leads him into an adventure fraught with spies, danger and hilarity.

What I liked: I loved this entire book. Hooker is a amazing writer. The story of Peril was witty and intelligent. Honestly, Peril just bumbles through each adventure. He reminds of the great bumbling detectives like Monk or Columbo. Except he doesn’t really detect anything. Read the book you will know what I am talking about.  Hooker describes the Old Country so vividly that you can pretty much picture each building. The characters were fleshed out beautifully and are three dimensional.  The storylines are well thought out and tied up in a bow at the end…sort of. (No spoilers read the book and you will know what I am talking about). What truly makes this a great book is the writing.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t a second book out yet! I want to find out what happens to Peril.

Star Rating: 5 and then some! BUY IT

My thoughts: Peril in the Old Country was such a fun read. It had everything that a great story needed; action, adventure, a love interest and some goblins. I loved the story and the characters. I still find myself chuckling every so often when I think about Peril or something that he said or did. Peril in the Old Country is a book that is going to stay with you. The characters and the ridiculous positions they get themselves into.  I have a Advanced Readers copy but I will be buying it when it comes out.

Release Date: June 5th, 2018

I want to thank Blackspot Books for sending me a Advanced Readers Copy.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I’ve seen a in a dark, dark wood hanging out in a rack by the front door of my local book store for a couple of months. I walked by it and walked by it. I finally bought it and HOLY CRAP I am happy I did. Dark and lush with a hint of claustrophobia. I have never been a fan of modern architecture and I really don’t like it now. If you haven’t read this I would totally suggest that you rush out now. STOP READING MY REVIEW AND BUY THIS BOOK.

Summary: A friend from school invited her to a Hen do…but they haven’t spoken for 10 years.

What I liked: The twist…I was pretty surprised by the ending. I felt like the main character in this book trying to figure out what was going on and feeling a little crazy. That was how good the writing in this book is. You feel like you are part of the story. I loved the atmosphere that Ware set. The house was like a character in the story. The forbidding nature of the house and the surroundings made the story even creepier as it set you on edge for what was to come. Wonderful story telling!!

What I didn’t like: That I didn’t know the twist. I can normally see a plot twist coming a mile off, but not this time. That was driving me crazy.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: I read a lot of thrillers and horror…but I really appreciate when an author can portray this feeling of horror and madness. Ware succeed on all fronts. The first line had me hook line and sinker. I read this in one sitting and I truly enjoyed every minute of this book. I should have bought it sooner.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Can you make your ears wiggle? Stupid question I know. I can to a certain extent. But I always end up moving my eyebrow a bit. If you are reading this you are probably wondering why I am talking about ears…I did a buddy read of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black this last week and ears are mentioned quite a bit. As a matter of fact I did see Black at the Tucson Festival of Books this last weekend and her ears did come up in conversation.

Summary: A mortal girl who was raised in Elfhame tries to win her place within the fae court.

What I liked: I genuinely liked the story. The characters were well thought out and three dimensional. The pacing was really good throughout the story. Black’s portrayal of the Fae as being mischievous/not very nice to humans is more in line with what I knew about fairies growing up. Black’s world building was really well done and in line with what I would have expected with the descriptions of places and different types of characters/creatures. I think that Black set the stage very well for the second book.

What I didn’t like: There was not anything in particular that stood out. I was not a big fan of Taryn but I think I expected that as she is pretty much the ying to Jude’s yang. I would have liked more about the other kingdoms. But as there is a second book to be released I am sure there will be more about this.

Star Rating: 4.5

My thoughts: I don’t read much YA fantasy, actually this month is probably the most I have read in a few years. I think that Black is a excellent writer and the story she crafted was very enjoyable. She was right on with her pacing as I would have expected during world building. All in all I would recommend The Cruel Prince.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and I just wanted to take a moment to recognize the women that have come before me, are my contemporaries and the women that will come after me. There are so many inspiring women who are quiet in their inspiration: the mother who goes back to college, the grandmother who was there to quell the fears and the women that show you that anything is possible.

So I just want to say to all the women who have inspired me (there are way more then I can list) Thank you!!! Your tweets, books, pictures, words and art inspire me to live my best life everyday.

The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer

Princes, fairy lands and enchanted horses are some of my favorite things. I love the idea that there is a thin veil that separates our world from that of the fairy. I think it has to do with having a grandmother who still put out bread and honey for the fairies and little people (leprechauns) so they would not make mischief. I still cling to the belief there is magic in the world we just have to reach out to find it. (As always this is my experience with the story. Nothing to do with the author).

What I liked: I wanted to like this book more then I did.  The premise of the story was super appealing. I liked that idea that the King traveled through time to fairy land and then returned to exactly where he had been. I loved the idea that he had a son in fairyland that returned to find him and a war. So much to love but…

What I didn’t like: The relationship between the brothers. At the beginning it was cool Aric had a gut feeling that Aldric was his brother. However; at times their relationship seemed almost romantic. Which kinda creeped me out a bit.  The pacing of the story was not to my liking. It was slow and plodding. I felt myself wanting to put the book down and read something else.

Star Rating: 3.0

My Thoughts: Here is what I can say. The writing in the book is really good.  This is the problem. I don’t have many thoughts about this book. I read it and have really no feelings about it. I was not invested in the characters or the story line. The brother’s relationship kinda weirded me out..either your brothers or you hook up. You can’t have both. No offense meant to anyone I just could not wrap my head around where Springer was going with the brother’s relationship. So well that was really the only feeling I had. The book was just not for me, but this doesn’t mean that someone else won’t enjoy it more then I did.

Release Date: May 15th 2018

I would like to thank Tachyon Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Genre Hopping

I enjoy many different book genres. If you only read one genre that is kinda like limiting yourself to one ice cream flavor. I mean wouldn’t you get tired of chocolate or whatever after awhile. You would totally get burned out on that flavor. It would lose all the things that you loved about it. There are genres that I do not read; for example, romance. OMG, I hate romance novels. Okay maybe hate is too strong a word, I dislike romance novels. The bodice ripping and quivering members are too much for my taste. Hey some people like them. My grandma for instance that is all she read. But then again I didn’t see her reading a lot…hmm but I digress.

Genre burn out is a thing I am totally convinced it is real, but here is the thing I think it could possibly lead to the dreaded reading slump. That is right folks, reading slump. I think the answer to this may be genre hopping. Take for instance my favorite genre horror. I love horror….specifically zombie books. I have loved zombies since for as long as I can remember. After the explosion of World War Z there was a proliferation of zombie novels, novellas and short stories. I gorged myself on long, short, good and bad 24×7 zombie reading. However, I started to feel like uhhhh not another outbreak/comet/random gene mutation gone awry, watch friends die, hole up, fight other survivors and end up victorious novel. I felt like I was reading the same damn story (the trope is strong in the zombie genre). So I did something very uncharacteristic, I stopped reading for about three months. Now, I have never stopped reading for a weekend let alone three months. This was the great zombie burn out of 2016. I was bereft and beside myself. I longingly looked at pictures of people reading on the internets and I tried to read but I just couldn’t. It was horrible…..the worse three months of my life. I was a former shell of my vibrant self.

Picture this burned out book nerd walking through the Barnes and Noble NOT BUYING ANYTHING. Nothing…no TBR…no new release excitement nothing. I came home sullen and in even more of a funk then I was before I left. I walked over to my bookshelves and with the last ounce of book love I could muster; I picked up Madame Bovary by Flaubert. Sat down and started to read. I didn’t have to force myself and all of a sudden (queue harps and cherubs) my reading slump was over. I went on to finish Flaubert and picked up a couple more classics and speed through them. But this time, once I was done with like the third or fourth classic I stopped. I decided to pick up something in a different genre. And I kept reading.

I thought about this for a time and I finally figured out why I had never been in a reading slump before. I was constantly switching up what I was reading until the zombie take over of 2013-2016. I mean serious three years of just zombies…yeah I was out of my mind. I still have yet to read any zombie books since the great zombie burn out of 2016 but I have learned something way more important I need to switch genres when the genre I am reading gets to be a bit to much. I bounce from speculative fiction to YA fantasy to dark humor to thrillers to short stories and I find that my palette is always cleansed. No need to go into a reading slump.

So the next time you are reading slump step away from the genre and try something a bit different.