Reading Wednesday – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes you watch something because you read the book. Other times, you read a book because you watched something. And then there are the times where you see an adaptation is coming and it intrigues you, so you find the source material. That’s how I decided to read Big Little Lies.

While watching Westworld (and reruns of Game of Thrones) on HBO, I saw the trailer.

I wasn’t paying attention to it because I was doing some other ridiculous thing in my attempt to multi-task. But I heard the words “Welcome to Monterey” and my attention was peaked. I watched the trailer, intrigued by the casting and the premise. And I decided to read the book.

I picked up Big Little Lies from the Sacramento Library just before the New Year started. I started reading and I was hooked, even if it was set in a beach town in Australia rather than Monterey, California. I was struck by the characters and also how perfect the casting was for each of them. I loved the format of the story with the police interviews distributed throughout. I also loved that you had no idea who died until just about the very end of the book (or at least I didn’t. At one point I thought I knew who died, but then I realized it had to be someone else).

The book reminded me of Broadchurch (the British version of course because I didn’t watch the American version). The book gives you a slow build in which every character seems to have reason to be a suspect, each with their own secrets. And secrets run rampant from the little ones to the big ones. It’s an accurate portrayal into the psyche of those who keep such secrets and justify keeping those secrets.

As the book progressed closer to the infamous trivia night, I found it harder and harder to put down and ended up staying up way too late to finish the book (mostly because I was so engrossed I had no idea how long I’d actually spent reading). This was one of those books were I was scared the payoff wouldn’t live up to the slow build. But it did.

I loved Big Little Lies and I’m even more excited to watch the adaptation now. I think the casting is perfect and I hope it gives me the same delicious anticipation that the book did. And I’m dying to know how that gun in the trailer fits into things!

If you’re a fan of Broadchurch or The Girl on the Train and similar types of mysteries, I think you will really enjoy Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies.

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Back to Me Being Me – Welcome 2017

2016 has been a hell of a year. And by that I mean it’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

I started January 2016 off with a strain to my IT band and I finished it off with plantar fasciitis. Despite that, I still managed to complete four half marathons and two 10Ks. I received my first Coast to Coast medal (and a fancy Millennium Falcon to boot). I may not half managed to run a full marathon (insert link to girls on the grid post), but I’m okay with that.

The start of 2016 also dealt me a massive emotional blow. That hit has had me struggling all year. It’s why I’ve been quieter and away from a lot of things this year. And while I will probably struggle with the pain of that blow for the rest of my life, I’ve learned quite all about myself through it all. I can’t change what’s happened. I don’t have a time turner, a Delorean, or a Tardis to change the past. So I can only move forward.

And that’s the beauty of the New Year and all the celebrations that go along with it. It’s a chance to move forward and leave the past behind. It’s a promise of new beginnings. It’s a chance for me to get back to being me.
Me being me means focusing on the bright side of things. So rather than dwell on the physical and emotional pain that 2016 dealt me, I’m choosing to focus on the good. Even with all the bad (which I’m not even going to get into the broader state of the world), there’s been a lot of good.

I had several amazing trips to Disneyland with family, including whirlwind trips for just one day. I had some amazing cosplays put together and even a photoshoot in one (thanks Charles!). I’ve met a lot of new, wonderful people by spearheading more Geek Girl Brunch Sacramento events and by hosting Geeks Who Drink quizzes at Pizza Rock. And I had one of the better holiday seasons I’ve had in a long time; managing, coping and even avoiding my Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So with this choice to focus back on me, I’m excited to see what 2017 brings. I’m already planning several different trips to visit amazing people and see wonderful things. You’ll just have to wait and see what new adventures await.

Happy New Year and Welcome 2017!

Book Review – Planetfall by Emma Newman

PlanetfallPlanetfall by Emma Newman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Plantefall is a wonderful science fiction story of humans leaving earth, guided to a new planet by a ‘chosen one’, the Pathfinder. The story begins with a colony settled on the new planet and the tale of how they got there unfolds slowly, tantalizingly so, as Renata Ghali’s life and lies begin to crumble around her when a newcomer arrives at the colony.

As many of the best science fiction books do, Planetfall gives us a startlingly look at humanity and in Ren’s case at certain mental disorders. Her ways of coping with the trauma of Planetfall and all that’s transpired are unhealthy to say the least. From the beginning of the story, we are teased with what actually happened as opposed with the knowledge the majority of the colony has. Emma Newman makes us work for that knowledge. We are almost a third of the way through the story before we start to collect bits and pieces and two-thirds through before we can actually piece together more. And all the while, we are treated to the workings of the colony and those of Ren’s own mind.

It’s a book about resources and environmentalism (living with a minimal footprint and zero-waste). But it’s also a book that considers questions of humanity, faith, belief, and ultimate purpose. And like many great stories, its ending leaves you questioning not only the story but also your own beliefs and your own self.

I received a free copy of Planetfall from the publisher. My review is my own personal and subjective opinion and I have not received compensation for it.

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Book Review – The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

The House of Shattered WingsThe House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title itself intrigued me. And then I saw the cover. The image of the throne set in front of a Parisian landscape that includes the Eiffel tower and burning feathers floating down from the sky is stunning. The opening of the book did not lessen my intrigue. The book begins with fall of an angel and proceeds to explain and detail the disaster that Paris has become and the danger that the Fallen face and can create.

We learn that the Fallen, though they rule the city of Paris from within separate “Houses”, are not necessarily safe, especially if newly fallen. Parisians not dedicated to a House prize the Fallen for their parts in order to perform magic and maintain a magical high. Our three main characters, Philippe, Isabelle, and Madeline each embody the main aspects of this world. Isabelle is a newly Fallen. Madeline is an alchemist who belongs to a house and continuously seeks the damaging magical high created from inhaling Angel Essence or the dust of angel bones. Philippe is somewhat of a mystery, but hates the Fallen and who they represent and so tries to live outside of the House system.

These three characters are forced together in a somewhat incongruous way and the story unfolds through their viewpoints. At its core, The House of Shattered Wings is a simple mystery – one built upon discovering whom has created an elaborate plot of revenge against House Silverspires. The revenge is built upon a frightening curse. It is dark and palpably scary. And yet, I wanted more from the book.

I wanted more discussion of theology and philosophy. I wanted to more characterization of many of the Fallen and their faith or lack thereof. I wanted more thought, feeling, and discussion about the rights and wrongs of the War, the House system, and the Fallen’s role in the world. Philippe spends some time considering his place in the world and the way things are, but it is rather superficial. I wanted so much more of this and from more of the characters.

Despite spending a majority of the book with Philippe, Isabelle, and Madeline, I only felt like I truly got to know Madeline. While the book is beautifully written and the descriptions are wondrous (multiple sensations were frequently described), I found the plot and its pacing slightly discordant. I feel like the book the author wasn’t quite sure what she really wanted her book to be – a tale of the Fallen and other Immortals once they become mortal or a tale of a post-war future. Even the discord between Houses and the House system itself could have used more detail. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly I found lacking, but I just know I wanted more. And as a result, the ending felt slightly unsatisfactory and abrupt.

Galley copy of The House of Shattered Wings
Overall, I recommend The House of Shattered Wings as an entertaining and intriguing story. But do not look to it for deeper implications and philosophies.

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Five Fandom Friday – 5 Fictional Characters I Most Identify With

Five Fandom FridaysIt’s Friday. That means another edition of Five Fandom Friday from geeky bloggers all over thanks to the genius of Super Space Chick and The Nerdy Girlie. Today’s topic: 5 Fictional Characters I Most Identify With. I actually learned a little more about myself by pulling these together. There’s definitely a particular type of character I identify with and I’m fairly certain people who know me would definitely agree with my choices. And they are: (more…)

Book Review – Vanishing Girls

Vanishing GirlsVanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vanishing Girls is billed as a psychological thriller and it is that, but it isn’t new and fresh, or even that surprising. But that isn’t what pulled me into this story. First and foremost, even before I’d call it a psychological thriller, I’d call it a story about sisters. The relationship and love between Nick and Dara is heart-wrenching. I have a younger sister whom I adore, but whom I’ve also had my jealousies of and with. I could relate to the emotions in this book and there are a lot of them.
It’s a quick read with fairly simple language. The metaphors are sometimes awkward, but given the speed of the story did not irritate me too much. I did have some issues with the mystery of the missing girl, Madeline Snow. I was so connected to the story of the ‘estranged’ sisters after the accident that this other mystery didn’t feel as natural. It did serve to push the story and the reveal forward, but otherwise it seemed slightly awkward.
I will also say that I knew what was coming in the twist about halfway through the book. That said, I did replay and reread certain scenes after I had finished the book to understand the new perspective. To me, that is a sign the twist was actually well done, even if I did see it coming.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book but it was not for the mystery and instead for the characters and the touching relationship between the sisters – the love and hate, the anger, the jealousy, the forgiveness. It’s a quick read and worth the time.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Authors I Want to Meet at RT Convention Dallas 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here by the The Broke and the Bookish.  Each week, there is a new Top Ten list that The Broke and the Bookish and other bloggers will answer. If you want to join in the book-related fun, feel free. Just be sure to link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget over at The Broke and the Bookish so that others can find your post and you can find other. Because really, what’s better than talking books with kindred souls?

This week’s prompt is Ten Authors I REALLY Want To Meet.  This was actually kind of a hard post for me because I have been very fortunate to meet several of my very favorite authors (Neil Gaiman, Ilona Andrews, Ann Aguirre, even George RR Martin).  Given that I am currently in Dallas for the RT Convention, I chose to focus this blog on the 10 authors I hope to meet at this year’s convention.  (I’d also like to point out – the RT Convention is a fantastic place to meet and actually get to know a whole bunch of authors.) Here are 10 authors I’m hoping to meet at this year’s convention: (more…)

Giveaway!! Balzer + Bray Books

 

As a result of conventions and other things, I’ve got a bunch of books piling up around my house. So, I’ve decided to host some giveaways.  Let’s see how this goes, shall we? First up, I’m giving away three Balzer + Bray books.  A little mystery, a little intrigue, and a little supernatural.  Sound interesting? Enter below to win all three books pictured below (Ten by Gretchen McNeil, Everneath by Brodi Ashton, and Born of Illusion by Terri Brown).
BalzerBrayGiveaway
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Book Review – Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)

Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ink and Bone is from Rachel Caine (author of the Morganville Vampire Novels). At its core, Ink and Bone is about a love of books and knowledge. But it’s also about power and ignorance and control. In this world, the Great Library of Alexandria has survived time and now has a presence worldwide. But that presence is extremely controlled. There are rules and restrictions and prohibitions about owning books.

Ink and Bone takes places in the year 2031. The main protagonist is a 16-year-old boy who grew up smuggling original copies of books and grew to love those books. His father tasks him with entering service to the Great Library to continue to help his smuggling family. Jess’s experiences trying to gain a coveted position and the relationships he develops make Ink and Bone a great read.

It’s a little confusing at times trying to suss out the positions and reasoning for the various groups (Burners, Ink-Linkers, Smugglers, the Great Library, and even a war between the English and the Welsh). But all these groups set the background of dynamics within this world and create interesting conflict.

Ink and Bone is reminiscent of Harry Potter (academic trials) and Game of Thrones (Greek fire is a lot like wild fire). It also has some common young adult tropes. A variation of the #commonYAline “released a breath didn’t know was holding” even makes an appearance. But none of that bothered me because I was fascinated with the world and the concepts and the struggles Jess faced trying to navigate this world and fit his own beliefs into it.

I truly enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to read Volume Two of The Great Library.

Note: I was provided a promotional/free copy of Ink and Bone by Ace or Roc Books, but all views are my own.

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Five Fandom Friday – Favorite Games I Love to Play

It’s Friday. That means another edition of Five Fandom Friday from geeky bloggers all over thanks to the genius of Super Space Chick and The Nerdy Girlie. Today’s topic: Favorites Games I Love to Play. I love games! All sorts of games, but I decided to focus my love on the the type of games that started it all – tabletop games. I’ve loved playing them since I was a kid. So here are my favorite games: (more…)