Review: Chilling Effect

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

Series: Chilling Effect
Genre: Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down. 


This is one of the most fun Sci-Fi books I’ve read in a long time, and I really enjoy a good ol’ fashioned just-for-fun Sci-Fi romp. If Becky Chambers wrote a John Scalzi book, the result would be something like this.

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6 Non-Christmasy Books for the Winter Holidays

At this time a year I always see a lot of Christmas books, especially Christmas romances, going around the blog-o-sphere. You know the kind, Hallmark movies in book form. A lot of people really love them, but if I’m being honest they are not for me. But I do like to read wintery books at this time of year. So I thought I would share some of my favorites for anyone who, like me, is looking for something a little less Hallmark-y this Holiday Season.

Okay, so half of these books are fantasy. That’s what I like, get over it. 😛

The Bear and the Nightingale

If you’re looking for atmospheric books set in winter, it doesn’t get much colder than the Winternight Trilogy! This book is lyrical, lush, and nuanced. Though the entire book isn’t set in winter, it’s sure to give you the desire to curl up with some hot coco by the fire (and maybe leave some toast in the grate for a domovoi). This has become one of my favorites these last few years. Read it!

The Cuckoo’s Calling

If you like detective novels, this one’s investigating a death that happened over the holidays in the midst of snow. Wintery London weather plays a big role in this mystery, and it’s got excellent characters. From the investigators to the investigated, it was the characters that really kept me reading. Related recommendation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Super winter-creepy.

Spinning Silver

Like The Bear and the Nightingale, this fantasy by Naomi Novik is icy cold. It’s got a Rumpelstiltskin meets The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe vibes, and the writing is just amazing. I’m a huge fan of Novik’s, and this has a much quicker pace than Uprooted, as well as a larger cast of female leads. If you love fairy tales you’ll love this book!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I picked this book because it’s cozy. There’s talk of a long winter during the war, but I mostly just included it because it’s such a feel-good book. It’s got that Hallmark feel without the cheesiness. Plus, dreary weather in the best way for the win.

The Golden Compass

Armored polar bears. Do I need to say more? If you’ve never picked up this classic, now is the time! Read it before you watch it on HBO, you won’t regret it.

Landline

Okay, so this one technically takes place on Christmas. But that’s incidental, I promise! Landline has all of the elements of a Christmas romance except that it’s just not. It’s about a grown-up relationship going through tough times, and it might just take a little bit of magic to get everyone back on track. And not Christmas magic, time-traveling-phone magic. If you like Rainbow Rowell’s YA books, now is the time to give her adult books a try! This book is so sweet and touching, I swear I cried the whole way through.

Review: Click

Click by Kayla Miller

Series: Click
Genres: Graphic Novel, Middle-Grade
Maturity Level: 1
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Rating:
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Olive “clicks” with everyone in the fifth grade—until one day she doesn’t. When a school variety show leaves Olive stranded without an act to join, she begins to panic, wondering why all her friends have already formed their own groups . . . without her. With the performance drawing closer by the minute, will Olive be able to find her own place in the show before the curtain comes up?


Oh my gosh, I loved this book! Librarians, teachers, parents, you have to get this book for the fifth grader in your life!

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Review: Waiting for Tom Hanks

Waiting for Tom Thanks by Kerry Winfrey

Series: Waiting for Tom Hanks
Genre: Chick-Lit, Romance
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating:
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Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.

When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?


FINALLY!! A romantic comedy that was everything I wanted it to be!!!!

Waiting for Tom Hanks had everything I was hoping for: sizzling chemistry without on-the-page sex; people who talk like real life without dropping f-bombs every other sentence; a hapless heroine who is neither a damsel in distress or a bad-ass; quirky side characters that don’t get annoying in their cliches; preposterous situations that didn’t take themselves seriously. If more romance novels were PG-13 rated like this one I would read them ALL THE TIME. This was a feel-good book that gave me all of the fuzzy tingly romance things without the awkwardness of stumbling across a sex sequence while sitting on the couch next to my mom. I loved it, and I will absolutely be reading anything else Winfrey writes, and I am also taking suggestions for more PG-13 romance novels. ❤

P.S. All of the bonus points for nerd rep.

Calendar Girls December: Best Diverse Cast

Christmas time is here!

Alright, now that the Snoopy gifs are out of the way, happy December Calendar Girls! I don’t know about anyone else, but I am ready for a break from my semesters, some hot chocolate, and some holiday cheer. Also, a little good news on the job front wouldn’t hurt, so please keep keeping your fingers crossed for me!

This month we’re talking all about books with diversity. I’m very much looking forward to talking about this, partly because I have literally no idea what I’m about to pick, and partly because I’m ready for some great recommendations! I know that I don’t read enough books with diversity (my penchant for picking up older novels really bites me here), and my tbr is currently hanging out *whispers* below 85. So! Hit me with em!

I think what makes this theme tricky is the wording of diverse “cast”. I read plenty of books by and about people of color, and the number of LGBTQ books has definitely gone up since I started blogging. But it’s tricky to find a book where the characters are black, white, gay, latina, east-asian, lesbian, blue, green, orange, and everything in between. Also, I feel like picking a Sci-Fi book where we’re past the point of segregating ourselves is cheating. (Plus, I already picked The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, so…)

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Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Genre: Fiction
Maturity Level:
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern. 


I’m not really sure how to review this book, because I think your enjoyment of it is basically just going to come down to personal taste. It’s very surreal, and if that sort of writing appeals to you great, but if it doesn’t then this probably isn’t going to be the book for you.

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Review: The Starless Sea

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.


Morgenstern’s sophomore novel completely lives up to the years and years of waiting, and now of hype. It’s mature, nuanced, thought-provoking, and sensual. But it didn’t resonate in my bones the way The Night Circus did.

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