Monday, April 27, 2015

More Riddles and More Ghosts and More Time Travel! Oh My!

A great sequel!

From Goodreads:
Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

Rating: 5 Stars
Sapphire Blue is the second book in the Ruby Red Trilogy, also known as the Precious Stone Trilogy. Just like I did with the first book in the trilogy, Ruby Red, I would like to start the review by addressing the beautiful covers. Both the paperback and hardcover are designed beautifully, however, I prefer the hardcover. The colors are again very vibrant and deep, and the intricate design around the front cover is very elegant.  The blue marks in the design are raised and they are made to look and feel like sapphires. 
As always, I will try to keep the review spoiler free, so some of my statements will be very vague. Book two starts exactly where Ruby Red left off and the story was easy to follow. With this book, we do get a few questions answered; however, it also seems that for every answer we get, there are more questions that arise. There are new riddles introduced that will have your head spinning theories and second guessing every character. Besides Gwen, I never know who I can trust in this series.
Gwen as a character develops even more in book two. She handles herself quite well, she is considerably grounded given the situation she finds herself in. One of the most frustrating things for her (and for me as I was reading) is the secrecy.  She is expected to fulfill a mission, but no one trusts her enough to provide her with information needed to successfully complete the mission. She is always given bits and pieces of information while all the adults around her, who are supposed to help her, are keeping vital information back. She still has her best friend Lesley, who as always is great at research and digging up things for Gwen. The bond and trust between the two friends is written so beautifully. The friendship between them is so powerful and trusting. Lesley never doubts what Gwen is saying, even when she talks about ghosts and gargoyles that no one else can see. In addition to James, the very charming ghost we were introduced to in Ruby Red, in Sapphire Blue we meet Xemerius; a gargoyle demon, which again no one except Gwen can see. Lesley soon finds a way to use him for their cause.  With so many secrets being kept from Gwen, Lesley suggests they use Xemerius to their advantage. He not only proves to be very useful in listening in on meetings and conversations that Gwen is left out of and then conveying that information back to the girls, he also helps Gwen with things she must learn about different time periods. I absolutely adored Xemerius in this book; he provided a lot of comedic relief to some of the most intense situations throughout the book.
One thing that I wasn’t expecting was the frustration I felt towards Gideon in this book.  I believe the author is really trying to show character growth in him.  In my opinion most of his faults can be attributed to the way he was raised. I think the ideas of his uncle in regards to women, in particular the Montrose women, have influenced him.  I truly believe that out of all the characters in the trilogy we will get the most character growth in him by the conclusion of the trilogy.  He has a long way to go and lots of readers to win over; still I believe in him. I think a lesson to be learned in this series is that while children are heavily influenced by the beliefs and attitudes instilled in them by the people raising them, they can overcome that and decide on their own what is right and what is wrong. I had to constantly remind myself that he is only 18 and thus still maturing. As I said, I believe in him and I am looking forward to his journey.
Just like with Ruby Red, one piece of advice I have is to make sure as you read along, to bookmark the family trees, because they are complex and you will want to refer back to them as additional clues are revealed. 
I am looking forward to reading Emerald Green, the final book in the trilogy!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy!

Every Fangirl’s Must Have Guide!

From Goodreads:
Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

Rating: 4 stars

First of all I would like to mention that I picked up this book not knowing much about it. I had it on my To-be-read list, but I hadn’t looked into it much. The title and cover were enough for me to decide that it would be something I would enjoy. The manifesto (shown in the picture above) had been floating around the internet for a while and I simply fell in love with it. To be honest the first time I saw it I didn’t even know that it was associated with a book. Later, I received an e-mail from NetGAlley informing me that they had ARCs available. So I decided to request this “novel”. If you thought of this book as a guide from the very beginning, then you are in luck. I just assumed that it was a novel in which the main character was a fangirl that encountered many obstacles and that somehow she managed to overcome those obstacles and learn a few valuable lessons along the way.  Turns out both are sort of true, the only thing is the main character is you. This book provides lots of advice, general information, and detailed information about different fandoms out there and it helps readers embrace their geekiness.

This is a great guide for young fangirls that are just trying to find a way to fit in, for older fangirls that have had some experience but want to get more involved, and even for the family members or friends that perhaps need some guidance to understand us.

My absolute favorite thing about this book has been her support and understanding of the hardships fangirls have to face, from online trolls to having to prove your worth to others. The term ‘fangirl’ has been used as a derogatory term for girls/women for a very long time. But it is time to put that to rest. Maggs encourages through her book to let your inner fangirl flag fly high. Don’t let others be the judge of what you like. Embrace your geekiness and remember you are not alone. My biggest complaint in the nerd community has always been, what I like to call, judgy nerds. The ones that expect you to know everything about every topic in order to “prove” your worth. This book provides great advice on how to overcome that and how not to let it affect or change you. We all have things that we are passionate about. Find what makes you happy and just go with it.

Another section I enjoyed was the internet etiquette, what is appropriate and what is not, how to avoid becoming a troll, and most importantly how to handle trolls. Maggs provides great advice on how to deal with trolls and how to best handle it when it gets out of control. Don’t be shy to involve local authorities if you believe things are spiraling out of control or if you feel threatened. However, one thing that no one ever talks about is what makes a troll and how to avoid turning into an internet troll. I was very impressed with Maggs for addressing how to avoid becoming a troll. It is very easy being faceless on the internet to start bashing things that you don’t like and making fun of certain fandoms. Not everyone likes the same things, and I believe there is a right and wrong way of expressing your opinion. Stating on all social media outlets “the stupidest novel I ever read…”, for example, can very easily insult all those who enjoyed the book. It is perfectly acceptable for you to dislike something, but the delivery of your opinion can be the difference between an honest view and just being insulting towards others. I found that the nerd community has usually been subjected to the most ridicule, we have been bullied, and made to fell worthless at times. Why then do the same to others in the nerd community that share different opinions? Again, I loved that Maggs was very outspoken on this subject and offered advice on how to avoid being mean or turning into an internet troll.

The book is divided into categories that make it very useful for future reference. The book includes a tv show, movie, video game, comic book, books, cons, and many more sections that provide a great information as well as starting points. One of the things I usually find hard to pick up is comic books. Don’t get me wrong, I love comic books; but deciding where to start can be a bit overwhelming considering that the universes and characters have been around for decades. Sam Maggs provides helpful links that can help you in your research and decide where to start. She includes a lot of websites for all the categories she talks about. She has lots of ideas on how to connect with other fangirls out there and how to organize get-togethers to get others involved.

All in all, I found this book not only extremely helpful but quite funny. I laughed out loud a lot while reading this book (“figure out how you are going to pee in it” –advice for first time cosplaying at a con). Needless to say, I preordered my copy so that I can tab and make notes on all sections that I am interested in. This guide will come in very handy in the future and it will make great gifts for all my fangirl friends!

If you are pre-ordering this book, make sure to go to  to participate in the preorder campaign for free stuff. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich

A great debut!

From Goodreads:
Straight-laced, sixteen-year-old Rebecca can't wait for her Acceptance. A fancy ball, eligible bachelors, and her debut as an official member of society. Instead, the Machine rejects Rebecca. Labeled as a future criminal, she's shipped off to a life sentence in a lawless penal colony.

A life behind barbed-wire fences with the world's most dangerous people terrifies Rebecca. She reluctantly joins a band of misfit teens in a risky escape plan, complete with an accidental fiancé she's almost certain she can learn to love.

But freedom comes with a price. To escape a doomed future and prove her innocence, Rebecca must embrace the criminal within. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars
I picked up this book because a friend recommended it. I am always nervous when someone recommends a book I didn’t hear of before. What if I don’t like it? Would they be offended? Well… I don’t need to worry about that for this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I would recommend it to dystopian fans in a heartbeat.

The concept of this book was great. Rite of Rejection is the first book in a beautifully written young adult dystopian series. We first meet Rebecca as a very innocent 16 year old that is looking forward to her Acceptance ceremony. During the Acceptance ceremony, the Machine tests subjects in order to determine whether to accept or reject members from society. The Machine is supposed to determine which teenagers are going to become criminals and reject them. These “criminals” are sent to the PIT to live out their lives. The teens accepted become full citizens of the society. Following the Acceptance ceremony, there is a ball where the newly accepted citizens begin looking for a spouse. Soon thereafter the men will receive their Assignment and take their place in the workforce, while the women’s responsibility is to bear and raise children and maintain the household.

Rebecca has never considered the life people have in the PIT. There is no indication that she is not fit to be a great member of the society. She is looking forward to the ball that is supposed to follow the Acceptance ceremony and the prospect of meeting a boy that she could one day marry. I instantly loved Rebecca; she seemed intelligent, a little naïve, and totally out of place. There was a sweetness and innocence in her character that made her very likable.  

Before the Acceptance ceremony she goes shopping with her best friend and their moms.  From the choice she makes when purchasing a dance card for the ball we get the feeling that she is different from other girls her age. She picks out a very old fashioned dance card for the ball in which possible suitors are supposed to sign their name, while all the other girls pick out the newest high-teach gadget that would allow boys to just scan their cards to reserve a dance. Not long after selecting her dance cards she meets Eric, an extremely handsome boy who asks her for the first dance at the ball. The chemistry between these two is instant. But before making it to the ball something goes horribly wrong. The Machine rejects Rebecca and marks her as a criminal and she is taken straight to the PIT.
Her new life in the PIT is brutal. The living conditions are deplorable, there is hardly any food, and there is trash everywhere. The author did a great job at vividly describing the horrid conditions. There are a few crimes that Rebecca witnesses during her first few days in the PIT that shocked me to my core.

Without much choice and because of the hardships she encounters, Rebecca matures quite rapidly. There is a lot character development in Rebecca as things get harder and the conditions in the PIT worsen. When she first comes in she is far too trusting of people and has a few close calls, but as the story progresses we see her intelligence and strength shine through. While in the PIT, she meets and befriends a group of people that soon become more like her family; they are a family with a mission. They want to escape the PIT, but things go horribly wrong and new plans need to be made; plans that would expose the Cardinal and the fact that the Machine does not work as people were made to believe.

I don’t want to spoil the story, so I’ll just mention a few things that prevented me from giving this book a higher rating. First, I wanted a bit more information on The Machine and The Cardinal. I felt like there should have been a bit more information on how the Cardinal became so powerful, what led to this society, and how the Machine came into existence.  Also, I would have liked a bit more development on the supporting characters. The book contains some romance as well, but that also felt a bit sudden and under developed.  I wish the characters had spent more time together to allow the reader to develop a stronger bond with their relationship. However, once it happens it is beautifully written and very believable.

Overall I think with another 20-30 pages giving more depth to the things I mentioned above, I would have rated this book 4.5 stars. I was very impressed with the world Negovetich created and I am looking forward to the next book!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Riddles and Ghosts and Time Travel! Oh My!

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
From Goodreads:
From Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon—the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential.  Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Rating: 5 Stars
Ruby Red is the first book in the Ruby Red Trilogy, also known as The Precious Stones Trilogy. The series was originally released in Germany in 2009. In 2011 the book was translated in English by Anthea Bell.  I would like to start this review by addressing the beauty of this cover.  Both the paperback and hardcovers have an amazing design that is sure to capture attention.  While I think both versions are very well done, I must say that I absolutely adore the hardcover design for this book.  The colors are very vibrant and deep, and the intricate design around the front cover is very elegant.  The red marks in the design are raised and they are made to look and feel like rubies. 
But this book is far from just beautiful on the outside.  The story is very gripping and it will leave reader begging for more.  I think that the author took a lot of time to do research.  The story is set in modern day London, but with the main theme being time travel, we are thrown into the 18th century London as well.  Gier did a great job of making the readers feel like they stepped out of their own world and into different time periods in London.
The protagonist of this series is Gwyneth (goes by Gwen), a 16 year old girl who never expected for her life to be turned upside down.  She lives her grandmother’s home with her mother, sister, brother, aunt, and cousin Charlotte.  They are not a typical family, every few generations a new female time traveler is born in the family.  Because of careful calculations it was determined that Charlotte was the one that would inherit the time traveling gene.  Practically from birth she was prepared for her time traveling abilities that were supposed to manifest at the age of 16.  She trained with different weapons, she learned the arts of proper attire and etiquette for different time periods, and most importantly the history of all time periods she was supposed to travel to while on the mission.  But the family was shaken when, instead of Charlotte, Gwen found herself jumping back in time with no notice or preparation.  Once it was determined that in fact it was Gwen who inherited the time traveling gene, she had to take Charlotte’s place in the mission.  There is only one problem, Gwen is clueless when it comes to history, etiquette, weapons, and everything else that she is expected to master in order to successfully complete the mission.  There is another thing that is different about Gwen, although nobody, except her best friend Lesley, has ever taken her seriously: she can see and talk to ghosts. She actually has a ghost friend in her school, James who doesn’t know he is a ghost.  Lesley and James add a humorous element to the book. 
Gideon is the male time traveler and he comes from the family that carries the male time traveling gene.  He has trained with Charlotte for many years and is not very happy in the change of plans for the mission.  He can be quite mean and rude to Gwen at times, but his attitude improves as the story goes as he begins to understand that they need to work together in order to complete the mission that he has trained for his entire life.
As always, things aren’t as easy as they seem, and after a few events (that I will not spoil), Gwen and Gideon are thrown into a situation that leaves them doubting everything they thought they knew.  The book is extremely rich in mystery and leaves reader with many questions in the end which hopefully will be answered in the second book. 
I found the story very easy to follow.  There are many riddles that will leave you guessing and second guessing every situation.  One piece of advice I have is to make sure, as you read along, to bookmark the family trees, because they are complex and you will want to refer back to them as additional clues are revealed.  I would definitely recommend this book to time travel fans; however, I think that non-time-travel fans of reading would enjoy this as well.

Words cannot express how much I loved this book.  I was captivated from the prologue and my excitement and intrigue built with each chapter.  I am looking forward to reading Sapphire Blue, book two of the trilogy!