19 October 2016

Book Review: Illuminae

Title: Illuminae
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Rating: 5 Stars
Dates Read: 12 October - 19 October 2016

Illuminae is unlike any book that I have read before. I am glad that I chose a physical copy of the book rather than a digital copy to appreciate the different "documents" that lay out the story.

The book starts with a planet with an illegal mining operation being attacked by a corporation. Kady Grant and her (ex) boyfriend Evan Mason manage to escape on two different ships and head for safety while one of the corporation's ships follows. The story is told through different documents - e-mails, IM conversations, confidential reports, etc that have been compiled by a hacker - Illuminae. There is even an appearance by a little paper clip guy to explain how these documents were discovered.

The action of the story was fast-paced and exciting. There was a little bit of romance through Kady and Evan's IMs, and even though their relationship is what seems to drive Kady's survival, it actually wasn't a distracting part of the story (as romances usually are for me). There was just enough science and technology to make the story believable. And I absolutely love Kady! She is a serious butt-kicking hacker!

At 599 pages, the book is hefty, but by using the document format it doesn't feel like a long book. The only downside to the format is that some of the pages are black, which means smudgy fingerprints when turning the pages.

Overall I was engrossed in the book and could not wait to see how it ended. I was somewhat surprised at one of the reveals at the end, and as someone who usually figures everything out, I liked that it caught me slightly off guard.

27 January 2016

Book Riot: Young Adult Box 1

 Book Riot: Young Adult #1 (April 2015)

I love subscription boxes; I have a bit of an obsession with them. How awesome is it to get a box of surprises in the mail every month / every other month / quarterly? Pretty darn awesome. 

This is the first Book Riot: Young Adult box from Quartlery Co. Boxes are $50 each and ship out quarterly. Each box will contain two books, some book-related goodies, and a personal letter. The next box ships January 2016. You can find out more and subscribe here.

Chalkboard Mug - This chalkboard mug says "Today I'm reading ..." and you can use the 4-pack of colored chalk included to write the title or doodle or whatever you want. The mug is a good quality mug, perfect for whatever hot beverage you choose to drink when reading. The chalk washes off so you can always keep it up to date with your reading status.

Novel Tea tea pouch - This pouch includes 5 bags of English Breakfast tea. Not only is the packaging pretty, each tea tag contains a literary quote.  

Story Cubes - I have bought sets of Story Cubes for my nieces, nephews, and cousins, so I was happy to have a set for myself. Each cube has different pictures, and when you roll them, you are supposed to create a story with whatever picture is on top. These are great for encouraging kids to use their imagination and build their story-telling skills, but it is also great if you have writer's block and need some inspiration for what to write about. There are nine cubes included, as well as a pouch to keep them in, so it travels well. 

Book:  How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon - The first book included is a 2015 Coretta Scott Kind Author Honr Book. Honestly this is a book I probably would never pick up on my own and may or may not even read. The story is told from several different perspectives (18 actually!), which I do not usually enjoy in a book.

Here is the description from GoodReads: When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black, the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth. Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down."

Book : Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier - Again, a book I probably would never have given a second glance. The book is historical fiction set in 1930's Australia and involves ghosts. I probably will not read it.

Descrption from GoodReads: "The setting: Razorhurst, 1932. The fragile peace between two competing mob bosses - Gloriana Leson and Mr Davidosn - is crumbling. Loyalties are shifting. Betrayals threaten. Kelpie knows the danger of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment. Dymphna is Gloriana Lesons's 'best girl', experienced in surviving the criminal world, but she doesn't know what this day has in store for her. When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna's latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie's new protector. But Dymphna's life is in danger too, and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy's ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living."

Personal Letter - Each box, instead of having the typical "info card," contains a personal letter. The letter contains information about the books. The letter also gives descriptions of the rest of the box contents, including a list of the potential bonus items you may receive (I did not receive any in this box). Also included is a deleted scene from the book How It Went Down with a letter from the author about why the scene was ultimately cut from the final draft.

Overall I think this was a good first box. I like that there were two books included (even if they are not books I would pick up myself or that I am even going to ever get around to reading) and that there was bonus material for the books. My favorite item was the Story Cubes, but I love the mug as well(and the fact that they included chalk). 

Rating - 4 Stars

05 January 2016

2015 Book Year in Review and 2016 Goals

Books Read in 2015: 29
Goal: 30 Books
First Book Read in 2015: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Last Book Read in 2015: Winter by Melissa Meyer
# of Books with 5-Star Reviews: 3
# of Books with 4-Star Reviews: 16
# of Books with 3-Star Reviews: 7
# of Books with 2- Star Reviews: 3
Total Pages Read: 10,995

5-Star Books:
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Winter by Melissa Meyer

Reflecting on 2015
One book short of my goal of reading 30 books! I probably could have tried to eek in a graphic novel or some short stories, but I did not have the energy. I did read a bigger variety of books this year than last year. I finally started to read the Throne of Glass series; the fourth book will be the first book I read in 2016. I wanted Winter to be the last book that I read in 2015 because I enjoyed the series so much and could not wait to see how it ended (surprisingly well considering how many story lines were weaved throughout the series).

I did write more reviews in 2015, but I am still not committed to writing a review for every book that I read, especially since I do most of my reading on my lunch break at work and while I am on vacation. I did not do much writing at all in 2015, but that is always a goal for every year.

Goals for 2016
Having come so close this year, again, I am going to aim for 30 books for 2016. I also am going to read at least one new author, read one new series, read one book outside of my usual genres, and read one classic book. I also want to re-read the Harry Potter series, since I am long overdue for one of those. I have a few non-fiction books that are on my to-read list, especially after my travels (and to inform future travels).

I have recently subscribed to several different book related subscription boxes, so I will start posting reviews of those. I plan on starting a new cycle of 101 things in 1001 days (which I never did in 2015). I also look forward to trying many new things in 2016.