What I’m Reading: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Young Adult Book Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep (Mythos Academy #1)

I recently had the privilege of attending a writing conference, where Jennifer Estep was one of the Key Notes. I had never read anything from her before, and I wanted to be familiar with her work before the conference, so I picked up Touch of Frost, the first book in Estep’s Paranormal Young Adult series, Mythos Academy.

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Now, the Mythos Academy name tells you almost everything you need to know to get started reading Touch of Frost. First, it relies heavily on world mythology; Second, the Gods are back (bad and good), and Third, you’re in for a whole lot of fun. The main character in Touch of Frost is Gwen, who’s a gypsy newly arrived to a school full of warriors, most of which are also blessed with some sort of bonus magical power. Of course, as always happens, things go wrong and Gwen ends up attempting to sort things out.

Touch of Frost was a quick, easy read, set in a world that I would love to live in. There were a few weak elements with the plot, but I could overlook them because the pace was quick, and there was never a slow moment. There are currently six books in the series (apparently #7 is currently only going to be release in Germany. But six books is plenty to keep me reading for a while.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Young/New Adult Book Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Either Young Adult books are becoming more and more edgy, or there really needs to be a new category of book. I vote for the later. There has always been edgy fiction, but these days there is a certain class of fiction that has young adult characters, is shelved as young adult, but has very adult themes. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios is one of those books. Exquisite Captive is a paranormal fantasy that follows Nalia, a Jinn, on her quest for freedom from her captor.

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I listened to this book as an audiobook on a solo road trip last month. I really enjoyed it, but looking at the other reviews out there, at lot of people did not. Their main pet peeve seemed to be the somewhat abusive relationship in the book. Now, in my opinion, and abusive relationship is not a reason to put down at book (unless you’re a really sensitive reader, I’m not). How that relationship is treated may or may not be. As I don’t believe the relationship is glorified in any way, I didn’t find it a reason to stop listening. I liked the book, so I kept going.

For fans of darker young adult fiction (the stuff that is often called New Adult), such as Sarah J. Maas or Laini Taylor, Exquisite Captive may be for you. Of course, there were somethings I didn’t love about the book, like how it things just kept not working out. I mean sure, it’s fiction, that happens, but it was almost like that happened one time too many.

Still, it was a pretty decent book. Exquisite Captive is the first book in a trilogy, the third book of which was release in February this year. Which is great, since sometimes I just hate having to wait for all of the books to be released.

JEH

Book Box Subscriptions, The New Thing?

So, for a while now I’ve been hearing about book boxes. There are plenty out there, and the basic premise is the same: subscribe and once a month (or less, depending on the company), you will be sent a surprise book in the mail, often with themed merchandise. Some boxes come with tea, some with jewels, and some with bath stuff.

I finally gave in and decided to try one.

With OwlCrate, the company I’ve probably hear the most about, I had the option to choose from their back order list just to try out the service. A few months back the book of the month was Caraval by Stephanie Garber, and it came with a bunch of circus themed goodies, including the Night Circus tote pictured below. As I loved The Night Circus, I decided that this was the box for me.

Well, it arrived yesterday, which immediately perked me up after arriving home from work, because who doesn’t love getting stuff in the mail that isn’t a bill?

Here’s a video and some pictures of my swag:

I really did enjoy opening my box. The mini-donut lip balm by Geek Fire Labs smells soooo good. As does the candle. The book looks like a great read too, and I can’t wait to get to it once I get my TBR pile down to a reasonable level (Why is it always out of control?). But the real question is: are book box subscriptions as pleasurable as going to a book store?

Now, I love book stores. I love going there, getting coffee, browsing the shelves of not just books, but journals, bookmarks, candles, and treats. The difference, though, is that the OwlCrate was filled with book related items. I think that is where so many bookstores fall short. Fandom is a huge market these days, and it’s only getting bigger. When I read a book like Throne of Glass, or Rebel of the Sands, I don’t just want the book, I want the stuff in the book. I want a candle that brings the world to life, or a necklace like the one so-and-so’s character wears, and this where the themed book crates come in.

So yes, I did enjoy the experience. Would I do it again? Quite possibly. Because I love surprises. That said, there is always the chance that I won’t like what comes in the box. And that’s when I go back to the bookstore.

JEH

 

What I’m Reading: Star Wars Aftermath Life Debt by Chuck Wendig

Okay, first off I’m going to admit that it’s been a while, a long while, since I’ve blogged about anything. Somehow, I fell into a blogging summer vacation. I imagine it was all the sun and the hot weather that pulled me away. The good news is I have a lot of catching up to do, and I’ll start with a review of a book I finished reading just yesterday: Star Wars Aftermath Life Debt by Chuck Wendig.

Prior to the new Star Wars reboots, I had almost all of the old Star Wars fiction, which is now Legend. Between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, there is a large gap of time, and I’m the kind of Star Wars fan that needs to know what happened, and this new trilogy, written by Chuck Wendig is how to find out. Life Debt is the second book of the trilogy, and while the first book was fairly slow and a bit too meandering, the plot of the second book is much tighter, and has more of a purpose, so it seems. It also has much more Han, Leia, and Chewy.

The ending was a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m hoping to get the third book sooner rather than later, but I have a few books that I need to get through first for an upcoming writing conference.

Overall, this trilogy has been satisfactory. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Legend by Marie Lu

Young Adult Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

This book had been on my ereader waiting to be read for literally forever. I’m currently attempting to get through my backlog, and Legend was actually a nice, quick read. Oh how I wish I had more time for reading!

I found the beginning of the book a bit confusing, since I didn’t know if Day was a boy or girl, but once everything was sorted out, things moved along smoothly. Legend is a dystopian novel, set in a future world at war after enormous flooding. The narrative alternates back and forth between June and Day, two kids on opposite sides of the war.

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I picked this book up because on of my friends told me she like it more than the Hunger Games. And I was like, what?!? More? Not possible. So, now that I’ve read legend I can honestly say I stick to that opinion (sorry friend, you know who you are). I still love Hunger Games more, but Legend was a solid YA dystopian read with a nice pace and a nice mystery that keeps you turning page after page.

The second novel in this trilogy, Prodigy, has also been on my ereader forever, and after I finished Legend, I began reading it right away. The series is definately worth a word.

A solid 4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I’m almost ashamed of admitting how long it took me to finish reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I made a pact with myself a while back to read more classics. I know and love Pride and Predjudice very well, but I haven’t read all that many classics other than everything by Jane Austen. Since I’ve begun reading more of the old famous books, I’ve found a few that I love, Dracula and Frankenstein, and a few that I’ve hated, Lolita and Madame Bovary. Jane Eyre fit somewhere in between those two ends.

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Jane Eyre wasn’t quite as romantic as Pride and Predjudice, and it wasn’t quite as gothic as Frankenstein and Dracula. I’ve noticed the obvious pattern that even amongst the classics I mostly prefer those with a fantastical twist. Part of the reason I picked up this particular copy of Jane Eyre was because of the cover. Isn’t it gorgeous? Here’s a better look.

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Previous to reading the novel, I’d seen a couple different remakes of Jane Eyre in cinema format, and I’ve never particularly loved any of those either. Part of the reason, I think, is that the pieces of the novel I found more interesting always seemed to be wiped out of the movie. For instance, i really enjoyed the beginning of Jane Eyre when Jane’s at school. This took up at least a good quarter of the book, but I’ve never seen a movie dedicate that much time to it.

All in all, reading Jane Eyre was a pleasant experience, so pleasant in fact that I kept falling asleep when reading it, which is part of why it took me over six months to get around to finishing it. But I’m glad I’m done, and that I can now add it to my GoodReads count.

4/5 Stars.

JEH

 

What I’m Reading: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Young Adult Book Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

I’m going to admit that this post might be a little biased because I’m a big Brandon Sanderson fan. I love his epic fantasy, both the Mistborn Trilogy and the Stormlight Saga, but this was the first Young Adult work I’d read by him. This is actually his first young adult series, though he has also published some middle grade stuff that I haven’t read yet. But I’m such a big fan that I plan on reading all if it at some point in time.

About a year ago, I read the prologue for Steelheart and felt a little blah about it, and I put the book down for a good while. I finally picked it up again last week, and began on Chapter One, since I’d already read the prologue a long time ago (though I had forgotten a few details). Beginning from Chapter One, I fell right into the book and loved it, which left me wondering if it really needed the prologue. I mean, the prologue was alright but… Well, maybe it’s just me. Did you read the prologue? Did you like it?

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Anyway, moving on. The main character in Steelheart is 18 year-old David, a regular human in a world that’s been invaded by comic-book type bad guys. I loved that. There are no Supermen or Batmen, just bad guys. And the regular folk have to figure out how to take them out. Needless to say this book is full of action. It is also full of that smart, witty humour I love.

“I was like the guy who had brought the spoiled shrimp cocktail to the party, causing everyone to throw up for a week straight.” Yep, our main character David is really bad at metaphors, which I found to be really entertaining.

Like I said, I might be a bit biased, but I give this book 5/5 Stars.

JEH