Review: Froggy Style

Froggy Style, J.A. KazimerJean-Michel La Grenouille is handsome, disgustingly rich, and an actual hand-to-god prince, but he’s got a dirty little secret: he spent the first few years of his life as a frog. It was only a chance meeting with a hungry little girl that released him from his slimy prison.

If Jean-Michael wants to keep his handsome human form (and his money and title), he needs to find that girl — The One — and marry her before he turns 30…in just 10 days. Trouble is, the girl he’s pretty sure is The One has a touch of narcolepsy, and seems so much less interesting than Lollie Bliss, a tattooed, smokin’ hot biker who may be dating a hit man.

Will this prince-less-than-charming find his happily ever after, or will he be doomed to life among the lily pads?

Not as exciting as I’d hoped

I thought with a name like Froggy Style: A F***ed Up Fairy Tale, this book would be a little more…well, f***ed up. There were lots of fairy tale creatures and people, but there wasn’t much else to it.

The story was basically your standard fairy tale — not a bad thing on its own, but I thought the point of Kazimer’s novel was to turn that stuff on its head, and make it different and cool. But Froggy Style wasn’t any of those things. I didn’t really care about any of the characters, and the “twist” was anything but.

By far the biggest flaw was the ending: the deus ex machina is my biggest literary pet peeve, and this one flew in on a flaming chariot with guns blazing. It didn’t even make a whole lot of sense.

Kazimer’s book is part of a series (the second, but it read fine as a standalone), but not one that I think I’ll continue. Oh well. Next!

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Review: The Curse of the House of Foskett

The Curse of the House of Foskett, M.R.C. KasasianDisclosure: I received a free copy of The Curse of the House of Foskett from publisher Pegasus Books, LLC, but was not compensated for discussing/reviewing it. My thoughts on the book are my own.

It’s been several months since the disastrous case detailed by Miss March Middleton in The Mangle Street Murders, and business has been slow for personal detective Sidney Grice. His reputation is in shambles, and his normally irascible temper has grown almost violent.

But nothing peps the old man up quite like a murder in his own home, and soon Sidney and March are on the case of a family curse and a final death society whose members are dying off just a little too quickly (not to mention mysteriously).

And just when March thinks things can’t get any weirder, Sidney Grice appears to be falling in love.

We meet again

The Mangle Street Murders was one of my most fun reads of 2014, and I was really excited to get my hands on a copy of its sequel, The Curse of the House of Foskett.

Sidney Grice’s reputation may not have survived his previous big case, but his “Oscar the Grouch” attitude certainly has — he’s as mean as a snake, as my dad would say. And of course he’s still brilliant.

March seems to be the one who’s done any real changing. She’s a quick study, sharper than her uncle would like to believe. This book takes you even further into her dark past, and right at the end offers up a twisted hook sure to get you pumped for the next in the series.

The ridiculousness continues

M.R.C. Kasasian is not a subtle writer — he drops his characters right into a complicated, gruesome set of murders and keeps them (and the reader) on their toes right up until the last chapter.

The “whodunit” is well crafted and tense, but just like with The Mangle Street Murders (and even the Sherlock Holmes stories) it all feels…convenient. Sidney is just a little too smart, his knowledge just a little too complete. It doesn’t detract much from my enjoyment, but it’s still a clear presence.

So will I keep reading the series? I don’t know. I can’t find a release date for the third in the series; I enjoy it while I’m reading, but don’t think they’re very re-readable. Jury’s still out, I guess.

Anyone else reading this series? What do you think of it?

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Mini-Reviews: What I Read Over the Holidays

One of the many great things about Christmas is getting to spend 12 hours a day eating and reading. I’ve worked my way through enough turkey, dressing, and apple pie to fell an elephant, and read the following books.

Mini-reviews: books I read over the holidays

Cotillion, Georgette Heyer

My love for Georgette Heyer is nearly endless, and Cotillion served to reinforce that love even more. Kitty Charing stands to inherit a large fortune from her hypochondriac great-uncle Matthew if she marries one of her cousins. Unfortunately the right cousin — Jack — has a reputation as quite the rake, so she convinces another — Freddy — to pose as her fiance and take her to London where she can make Jack madly jealous. Between keeping up pretences with her false fiance, finding a way to get the child-like Lord Dolphinton out of his mother’s clutches, and helping her friend Olivia find love, Kitty finds herself in bind after amusing bind. This novel has plenty of Heyer’s signature storytelling and humor, and has a satisfying ending that may leave you a little surprised.

Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed

This is the first in Ahmed’s The Crescent Moon Kingdoms series, and introduces the reader to Adoulla Mahkslood, his assistant Raseed, and a young shape-shifter called Zamia. Mahkslood is one of the last true ghul hunters, sworn to protect people from ghuls and the monstrous sorcerers who create them. The book is bloody and harsh and just a little slow — I lost interest less than 100 pages in and kind of skimmed the rest. I liked some of the Middle Eastern mythology touches, but it just couldn’t hold my attention.

Unbreakable, Kami Garcia

I thought Garcia’s Beautiful Creatures was fairly good, so when I heard that this first in her The Legion trilogy was available at my library, I grabbed a copy. Unbreakable introduces us to Kennedy Waters, whose life is thrown into chaos when her mother is murdered and a pair of twins named Jared and Lukas inform her that she’s now part of a secret society whose roots date back to ancient times. It’s a typical “first in a series YA” novel — lots of world building, a love triangle, etc. — but good enough to make me want to read Unmarked, which came out late in 2014.

The Origins of Sex, Faramerz Dabhoiwala

**This mini-review/book contains adult language and discusses sex and sexuality in frank terms.**

Many people consider the 1960s the time of the first sexual revolution, but according to Dabhoiwala it actually happened at the end of the 17th century. This book dovetailed nicely with what I learned reading Sex and Punishment, which is basically that over the centuries sex has become less regulated by the church and even by the state, and more of a personal subject. The book dragged a little and took me longer to get through than other books on the same topic, but that’s easily blamed by “holiday brain.” It’s hard to focus on such deep information when you’re stupefied with cookies.

Did you get any holiday reading done?

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2014 End of Year Book Survey

2014 end of year book survey2014 has been quite a year, and not necessarily a good one. I’m so excited that it’s finally the holiday season, and that I have some time to look back over my reading for the year. I’ve read fewer books, but more of them have been excellent than ever before.

Best Books in 2014

1. Best book you read In 2014?

Like I could pick just one.

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

The Book of Madness and Cures and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard were kind of “blah,” and Heads in Beds and The Copper Sign should have been tossed out a window.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2014?

Even though I love Doris Kearns Goodwin, I was worried that The Bully Pulpit was going to be a little dull. I didn’t know much about Roosevelt and Taft, and wasn’t sure it would be interested. As usual, though, I underestimated Goodwin.

4. Book you read and recommended to people most in 2014?

It’s a toss-up between J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s S and Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England. Both are incredibly fascinating and I would love to talk with someone about them!

5. Best series you discovered in 2014?

Pegasus Books sent me a copy of The Mangle Street Murders, which features a seemingly heartless bastard of a “private detective” and his stubborn niece. I’ll be getting an advanced copy of the second in the series soon, and I’m so excited!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Terry Goodkind’s books have been around for decades, but Best Friend gave me a copy of Wizard’s First Rule and now I’m a little obsessed with the entire series.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2014?

The Seeker kept me up until 2am (and then I was too scared to sleep), and I read S twice in the period of a week.

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I may not re-read it all the way through, but I’ll probably skim through The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England again. It’s an easy book to pick up and start reading anywhere.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

Look at these!

2014 end of year book survey

11. Most memorable character in 2014?

Kahlan Amnell from Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule. She’s strong and brave, and has an interesting backstory in a fascinating world.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion was both hysterical and heartbreaking.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2014?

I read a lot of great books this year, but the one that stuck with me the most was actually The Copper Sign, the most eye-rollingly stupid novel I read all year.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2014 to finally read?

I tend to cycle through my TBR list fairly quickly, so there isn’t one particular book I found myself thinking, “Why did I wait so long to read this?”

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014?

Listening to This I Believe gave me a bunch of great quotes to love, but this one is my favorite:

I believe in the absolute and unlimited liberty of reading. I believe in wandering through the stacks and picking out the first thing that strikes me. I believe in choosing books based on the dust jacket. I believe in reading books because others dislike them or find them dangerous. I believe in choosing the hardest book imaginable. I believe in reading up on what others have to say about this difficult book, and then making up my own mind.

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2014?

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody?

Definitely S — the entire novel. Read this so we can talk about it!

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2014 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)?

The Mangle Street Murders features Sidney Grice — snobby “private detective” — and his niece March Middleton. Their relationship starts off a little rocky, and I think it’s going to be fun to see what happens.

19. Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you’ve read previously?

No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin

20. Best book in 2014 you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else?

I got a free copy of The Seeker from Pegasus Books, and trusted their recommendation. Boy, were they right!

21. Genre you read the most from in 2014?

Somewhat surprisingly, history. I’ve always loved it, but in the last couple of years have been reading more fantasy type stuff. It’s been a nice change.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Richard Cypher from Wizard’s First Rule. And kind of on Kahlan as well. And to be honest, on Denna as well.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

The Seeker, definitely.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2014?

Wizard’s First Rule has some amazing world building, from Confessors to Mord-Sith and magic and Sword of Truth and a million other things. It’s intimidating that there’s more than a dozen books in the series, but I really want to continue reading.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2014?

Reading The Seeker scared the shit out of me, and it was awesome.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?

The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, for sure.

27. Book you read in 2014 that you think got overlooked this year (or the year it came out)?

I don’t pay too much attention to what other people say about the books I read.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be your biggest priority in 2015?

I got a copy of J.A. Kazimer’s Froggy Style from PaperBack Swap, and just haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)?

Even several months after my visit to South and North Carolina, I’m still obsessed with reading books set in the area. The House on Tradd Street promises a great Charleston feel with a nice mix of romance and mystery.

3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?

I don’t think much about debut dates.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2015?

I’m not sure if any of the series I’m reading are ending in 2015. Another thing I don’t pay much attention to.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging in 2015?

To enjoy books and reading as they happen, and not freak out about my blogging schedule.

What are your 2015 reading goals? Let’s talk!

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2014 State of the Blog and Wrap-Up

State of the blogAnother year, another State of the Blog. Time to look back…and forward.

First, the basics

  • Books read in 2014: 52 (9 since 10/1)
  • Pages read: 17,452 (3,004 since 10/1)
  • Books reviewed: 49 (11 since 10/1)
  • Books not enjoyed: 7 (3 since 10/1)
  • Books not finished: 3 (0 since 10/1)
  • Library books: 11 (4 since 10/1)
  • PaperbackSwap books: 1 (1 since 10/1)
  • Re-reads: 3 (1 since 10/1)

Genre breakdown (year totals)

  • Fiction: 29
  • Non-fiction: 23
  • Young adult: 8
  • History: 18
  • Fantasy: 10
  • Mystery/thriller: 11
  • Humor: 2
  • Gender/sexuality: 4
  • Paranormal/supernatural: 7
  • Biography: 2
  • First in a series: 2
  • Children’s literature: 1

Reading challenges

  • Reading Outside the Box: 2/4
  • The Mount TBR Challenge: 4/12

Well, poo. I think my downfall on these was relying too much on the library. My local system has many of the books on these lists, but they’re not all available at my nearest branch. Trying to coordinate inter-library loans with any kind of accurate timing is just too hard. Here’s what I managed to read in 2014!

Some thoughts

  • Fairly balanced between fiction and non-fiction this year. Go me!
  • Once again my reading slumped off in the last few months of the year. This doesn’t make me upset so much as just kinda bum me out.

Looking ahead

  • I’ve got a couple great books — including Froggy Style and the sequel to The Mangle Street Murders — waiting for me on my bedside table.
  • Just a few more working days until the long Christmas break. Come on, December 24th!

How did your 2014 reading turn out? What are you most looking forward to in the new year?

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