Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus is by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy.

An engrossing, lively history of a fearsome and misunderstood virus that binds man and dog. The most fatal virus known to science, rabies — a disease that spreads avidly from animals to humans — kills nearly one hundred percent of its victims once the infection takes root in the brain. In this critically acclaimed exploration, journalist Bill Wasik and veterinarian Monica Murphy chart four thousand years of the history, science, and cultural mythology of rabies. From Greek myths to zombie flicks, from the laboratory heroics of Louis Pasteur to the contemporary search for a lifesaving treatment, Rabid is a fresh and often wildly entertaining look at one of humankind’s oldest and most fearsome foes.

The Breakdown:
1. I know this a departure from the usual books I read.  I am doing a Summer Reading Challenge from my favorite bookstore, Little Shoppe of Stories in Decatur, GA.  I chose this book for the non-fiction science read.  I have actually read quite a few books like this in the past, and it was nice to read a new book on the epidemiology of a disease.

2.  There is some interesting history behind Rabies as a disease.  It really is the first identified zoonotic disease.  Even before germ theory was ever created, people realized that this disease was passed from rabid dogs. 

3.  I loved learning about Pasteur's processes for developing the vaccine and what it meant to the world as a whole. Plus, it was interesting to read about how modern doctors are attempting to treat those with clinical cases and the theories behind why the few have survived did it.

4. I will say one of the most interesting things to me was the idea that Rabies gave rise to some horror legends, like vampires and werewolves.  Plus the idea that it is partially responsible for the idea of zombies.

To Read or Not to Read:

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Audiobook: Anansi Boys

 Anansi Boys (American Gods)

Anansi Boys is written by Neil Gaiman and is narrated by Lenny Henry and is the second novel of the American Gods series.

God is dead. Meet the kids.

Fat Charlie Nancy's normal life ended the moment his father dropped dead on a Florida karaoke stage. Charlie didn't know his dad was a god. And he never knew he had a brother. 

Now brother Spider's on his doorstep -- about to make Fat Charlie's life more interesting... and a lot more dangerous.

The Breakdown:
1. This book is a follow up to American Gods, and deals with the family of my favorite character from that series, Mr. Nancy.  I love Gaiman's characters so much.  They are always interesting, and the story is so beautifully written.

2. I loved the dichotomy between Charlie and Spider. Charlie so straight laced, and Spider is all the rules were made to be broken kind of guy . It was interesting to learn about their past and why Charlie could not remember Spider being his brother. Plus, I loved seeing them really start working together

3.  I enjoyed who Gaiman is able to bring all the story lines together.  He sets so many in motion and it is amazing to see how it all ends up coming together.  Even bringing in Anansi's past and tales of old just make sense with the whole story.

4. I just want to take a minute to talk about how wonderful the Lenny Henry was a a narrator.  He breaths so much life into every character.  He does such a beautiful job with the reading that I really did not want it to end.

To Read or Not to Read:
Must Read

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

To Kill a Kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom is by Alexandra Christo.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

The Breakdown:
1. I am sorry that I am so very behind on updating my reviews.  I will endevour to do better, but no promises.  That being said on the To Kill a Kingdom review.  This book is a little bit of a dark re-imagined version of the Little Mermaid.   To be clear, Lira is a siren, not a mermaid, which Christo makes a definitive separation between the do.  Mermaids are much more fish like than sirens.  In this story, there is an ages old war between humans and sirens, and both the main characters are at the forefront of this struggle.

2.  I find Lira an interesting character.  While is not an entirely likable character, especially in the beginning.  She is fiercely loyal to her cousin, and is trying her best to survive her mother, the Sea Queen's reign, until she inherits the throne. She shows to be very smart on when thinking on her feet.  She also learns what it means to have true friends with Elian and his crew.  I really ended up liking her at the end.

3. Elian is a crown prince who has no desire to rule.  He is a sailor and a warrior.  He is deadly when it comes to sirens, and is quite good at strategy.  I also found the banter between him and Lira to entertaining.  I am a little bothered by his name because my brain keeps wanting to see it as Elain, which is a female name.

4.  This book definitely kept me on my toes.  It had lots of twist and turns, crosses and double-crosses.  Plus, I really liked the ending, and found a stand alone fantasy novel refreshing.

To Read or Not to Read:

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Audiobook: The Beauty of Darkness

The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles, #3)

The Beauty of Darkness is written by Mary E. Pearson and narrated by Emily Rankin, Ryan Gesell, Kirby Heyborn, Kim Mai Guest and Ann Marie Lee and is the the last book of The Remnant Chronicles.

Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

The Breakdown:
1.  I put off reading this book for a long time due worry that I would be disappointed in the ending because of some of the reviews I read of the book.  I am happy to announce that I was not disappointed with it.   I thought the ending made sense with where Pearson was going with the story.

2.  I rather liked Lia's character development in the story.  She begins begins to really accept a leadership role and take steps to stop the Komizar's plans.   She proves herself to be an effective leader.  Although I am disappointed by the turn that her and Rafe's relationship takes.

3.   I get irrationally angry at Rafe for a most of the middle of the book.  He just does not get were Lia is coming from and belittles her fears.  I know that he is trying to do what is right for his country, but he should respect her more.  He does redeem himself at the end.

4.  I really loved Kaden in this book.  He really grows into his role and accepts who he is and where he has come from.  Plus, I liked the growing relationship between him and Pauline.  Plus, learning more about his father was quite enlightening.

5.  I was pleased with this book overall.  It did drag a bit in the middle,  but I enjoyed the ending. 

To Read or Not to Read:

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black is the first of The Folk of the Air series.

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

The Breakdown:
1. It is has been some time since I read a good deceptive Faerie novel.  This is an excellent example novel of why not to trust the Faeries. There are so many schemes going on in this novel, it is hard to keep up with who is with who and who is backstabbing who. 

2. Speaking of which, Jude is a human who has spent most of her life in the realm of the Fae.  She has had to learn to be smart and brutal in order to make her way.  She also shows that maybe you should not trust humans raised by Fae either.

3.  So interestingly to me, is that it is inferred that Cruel Prince refers to Cardan, but as the book progress he does not seem nearly as cruel as his brothers.  He is not a nice guy but, he, also, does not seem to have this great hidden agenda.  Plus,  he has had a very rough life, so it is no surprise he has some issues.

4. Holy Moley, that ending!  There was so much craziness happening and so much backstabbing.  It was amazing the plan that Jude brought together and cannot wait to see how things play out in the next book.

To Read or Not to Read:

Thursday, 7 June 2018

The Belles

The Belles

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton and is the first of the series of the same name.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever. 

The Breakdown:
1. I was excited about this book.  There is so much potential in the summary, but in the end, it just did not live up to all the hype.   The world building felt a lot previous books' world smashed together, like Amy Ewing's The Lone City and the Capital from Hunger Games.   

2. Clayton has such a wonderful idea with showcasing how societies try to hide the evils of slavery with beauty.  She had a lot of interesting points made during the story, but did not take the time to flesh them out.  It felt like she was trying to nail down every little detail instead of really developing the important details.

3.  I honestly was not a big fan of Camellia.  She is all like Amber is my bestie but as soon as she gets what I wanted, even though I broke the rules, I am angry at her.  Plus, no big deal when I steal her job.   I did respect the way she treated the servants, and I did want more of her pushing  people to be a little more natural in their looks.

4. I disliked Auguste, the "love" interest from the very start.  He always just seemed a little off, a little too much like he was running a con on Camellia than really interested in her affections.  I was really cheering for her personal guard and her to have a thing. 

5.  I will say this, that Clayton has come up with an absolutely terrifying antagonist in Princess Sophie.  She is definitely a psychopath, and her mood swings are beyond frightening.

6.   I will say that I am intrigued enough by the ending to continue with the series at least into the second book.  I am hoping that Clayton can fix some of the problems from this book and make a great series.

To Read or Not to Read:
Read, because I think there is still potential here.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Audiobook: Carry On

Carry On

Carry On is written by Rainbow Rowell and narrated by Euan Morton.

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.

That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.

Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

The Breakdown:
1. I decided on this book because my favorite Harry Potter podcast, Witch Please, does an episode on the book. Full disclaimer, I did not read Fangirl before reading this book.   Okay, now with those out of the way on to the meat of the review.

2. While I did enjoy the book, it does strongly feel like a Drarry (Draco-Harry) fanfiction, only the names changed to protect the innocent.  I do like that it is written from several characters perspectives and not just Simon's.   I, also, very much enjoyed Morton as the narrated.  He did a fantastic job of giving each character their own voice.

3. I just want to talk about how amazing Simon and Penny's friendship is.  There is absolutely no romantic undertones, yea!, and the lengths they go to to help each other is amazing.  I love that Penny wants nothing more than to save Simon, and is willing to uproot her life to make sure he is okay.

4.  Baz is probably my favorite character.  I kind of love his sarcasm and that boy definitely has style. I am sad there was not more Baz-Simon kissing scenes.

5. It does bother me that as the reader we know who Simon's parents are and why he is so powerful, but Simon never discovers this.  He never learns that he has a mother that loved him, and others never learn of Lucy and her fate. Oh, and for the record, I disliked The Mage from the beginning.

To Read or Not to Read: