Book Review: Maggie Stiefavter's Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Source: Hardcover purchased by me
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub. Date: 10/21/14
Page Count: 391
ISBN: 0545424968
Genre: Young Adult (YA), Fantasy

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I tell you that Maggie Stiefvater's Blue Lily, Lily Blue, book three in the Raven Cycle, is a major disappointment.


Oops, I think I did it again...

Don't judge me, but I may have downloaded even more graphic novels off of NetGalley. They are just so easily and freely acquired, I couldn't help myself.

  • Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag 
  • C.O.W.L. Volume 1: Principles of Power by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis
  • The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie Mckelvie 
  • Pride and Prejudice (by Jane Austen) Adapted by Stacy King 
  • Orphan Blade by M. Nicholas Almand and Jake Myler 
  • Shutter Volume 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca 

...I said don't judge me.

Linked up here and here.

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Book Review: Gabriel Hardman's Kinski

Kinski by Gabriel Hardman

*I received a free digital ARC of this title via NetGalley and Image Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Digital ARC via NetGalley
Publisher: Image Comics
Pub. Date: 11/18/14
Page Count: 156
ISBN: 9781632151797
Genre: Graphic Novel, “Quirky Crime Thriller”

Publisher Summary:
A salesman’s self-styled mission to save a puppy from its neglectful owners escalates into a righteous crusade in this quirky crime thriller written and drawn by Gabriel Hardman. Collects KINSKI #1-6.

My Review:
Oh, Kinski. You have so much potential. Let's focus on the positives first. The description of the plot sounded like something I'd really be into since I'm a huge animal lover, and I was immediately drawn to the sweet cover art (PUPPY!). The interior artwork, done in black and white, is moderately intricate in style and is characterized by gray shading and thick line definition. I liked the art-- that isn't the problem. It's the plot that has issues (pun intended).

The story is interesting but strange, and not in a good, thought-provoking way.  More like strange in a “this would make more sense if Hardman put a little more effort into making the plot fluid and detailed” kind of way. The quality of the writing leaves much to be desired. The weird, disjointed, overly bare dialogue does the overall story a disservice.

It would make more sense if Joe, the traveling salesman obsessed with saving the puppy, had a valid reason for being so possessive over Kinski, the dog in question. He literally loses his job, gets beaten up, breaks the law on multiple occasions, gets arrested, gets evicted, and completely alienates his friends all for the sake of saving a puppy who already had a family. And the irony of it all is that he causes more harm to the dog's life than if he would have just left the poor thing alone with its family. Don't get me wrong, irony is good-- if it's intentionally done by the author. This just ended up being a plot hole.

The only reason provided by Joe for his crusade is that he's afraid the dog would get loose again. Joe is asked repeatedly by different characters if there is more to why he's so hellbent on ruining his life to rescue the dog, but he gives no pressing reason, making his actions and the plot feel shallow and trivial.

Apparently Gabriel Hardman also penned some Hulk, Heathentown, and Planet of the Apes comics. I'm guessing that superhero stories are more in his wheelhouse.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Have you read Kinski? Maybe some of Hardman's other works? What did you think?

That Time Sharon Creech Acknowledged My Existence

I completely forgot to post about this here when it happened, but back in May, Sharon Creech-- THE Sharon Creech, one of my all-time favorite authors-- acknowledged my existence on Twitter. Behold:

Click image to enlarge.

I know this may seem like a silly thing to get excited about to some, but authors are my rockstars, people. I consider it a momentous occasion. Remember that time Oprah's Book Club tweeted at me? I lost it then, too.

What can I say? I'm a nerd.

Have you interacted with your favorite authors via social media? Unlike me, I bet you were able to keep your cool.

New Blog Name, Same Fantastic Literary Content

An exciting bit of news:

I purchased my own domain name for the blog! Welcome to The Literary Hedonist.

My old blog name, RKG (which are my initials), just wasn't cutting it for me now that I am taking book blogging more seriously. I wanted a solid, clever, and striking name that is representative of me and my interests while being just a bit subversive and evocative.

So. What is a literary hedonist, and why do I identify myself as such, you ask?

Well, a hedonist is a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life, aka a pleasure-seeker. A literary hedonist, i.e. me, reads for pleasure. I read whatever I want whenever I want for as long as it pleases me. 

That's what this book blog is all about, after all-- my self-indulgent literary pursuits. So it's perfect, no?

Farewell, RKG. You were a convenient blog name, but I've moved on to greener, more relevant pastures.

Galleys and ARCs and Proofs, Oh My!

NetGalley must be the Book God's gift to us mere book-worshipping mortals.

I just signed up at the beginning of the month, and I've already been accepted to review several graphic novels. Don't get me wrong, I've been rejected for a bunch, too. But, behold the six beauties I get to feast on before the rest of the lowly book-reading world: 

  • Scott McCloud's Sculptor, Pub. Date: 2/3/145
  • Andi Watson's Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula, Pub. Date: 2/24/15
  • James Kochalka's The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie, Pub. Date: 3/17/15
  • Jay Hosler's Last of the Sandwalkers, Pub. Date: 4/7/15
  • Penelope Bagieu's Exquisite Corpse, Pub. Date: 5/5/15
  • Boaz Lavie's The Divine, Pub Date: 7/14/15

It's kind of ridiculous that I've been (intermittently) book blogging for almost three years, and I've only just jumped on the NetGalley train. What took me so long? I don't even want to imagine all of the ARCs I could have gotten my greedy little hands on.

Are you on NetGalley? What has your experience been like?

Linking up here, here, here, and here.

Book Review: Diana Gabaldon's Outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Source: Physical copy purchased by me from B&N
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Pub. Date: 1991
Genre: Historical Romance

Well. This book turned out to be much darker than I thought it would be.

Going into it, all I knew was that it's a historical romance with a little blip of time travel thrown in at the beginning. I was really into the first half of the book and flew through it in a couple of days. But then some unsettling things happened around mid-way, and it only got worse from there. I ended up being pretty disgusted and disappointed overall.

A bit of a spoiler that I wish I knew about before picking up the 850 page book: there's frequent scenes of sexual assault, domestic violence, and rape. You might come away from this book feeling better about the plot than I do if you are better at handling character trauma than I am. I personally just tend to stay away from brutal and graphic storylines when I read for funsies in my spare time.

I've watched the first few episodes of the TV series adaptation on Starz, and I have to say, they are doing a good job being faithful to the book. The actor who plays Jamie is pretty perfectly cast and makes for some very pleasing eye-candy indeed.

My Rating: 3 Stars

I know there has to be some hardcore Outlander fans lurking about this blog. How do you feel about the book?

Underrated YA Fantasy Wish List

It's no secret that I love me some YA lit. I'm not an old lady (yet), but I'm not necessarily the assumed demographic for that genre. There have been arguments aplenty for grown adults reading YA. I particularly loved HelloGiggles' argument found here and the article in the New York Times here.

Recently, I uncovered a hidden gem called The Shape-Changer's Wife by Sharon Shinn at a used bookshop. Once I cracked it open, I devoured it. You may not have heard of it because it's sortof older (published in 1995), and it was Sharon Shinn's first novel. Her works are sometimes overshadowed by her more commercially successful novels like Summers at Castle Auburn and the Samaria series, and even those are not all that popular.

I bring this up because reading and loving The Shape-Changer's Wife has inspired me to do some digging for more YA fantasy that's under the radar. 

Here's my little Underrated YA Fantasy Wish List:

  • Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Pama
  • Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
  • The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop
  • Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
  • Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

Have you heard of any of these novels? Do you plan to scout them out? If you've read them, what did you think?

Book Review: Lauren Oliver's Rooms

*I won a physical ARC of this book from Ecco Books and HarperCollins Publishers through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

Image via Goodreads
Rooms is a cross between a ghost story and a mystery, alternating between first and third person point-of-views depending on which character is narrating. It's Oliver's first published Contemporary Adult fiction title. 

This is the first book I've read by Lauren Oliver. I can sum up my feelings about Rooms in 4 words: interesting premise, weak ending.  

I won't give away any specific details to spoil the end for you, but I feel like the storylines are wrapped up in a neat, little bow, which completely undermines where I think Oliver was trying to go with the concept of the book-- that life is messy and confusing and oftentimes grim.

One of my problems with the book is that the characters are simply unlikable. I get that Oliver is  trying to convey that everyone has a dark side and certain circumstances bring out the evil in all of us, but the majority of the characters are all so ugly (sometimes literally, physically ugly) that I had a hard time feeling for any of their plights.

I'm still willing to read another one of Oliver's books, however. I hear her YA novels are quite good, especially Before I Fall.

My Rating: 3 Stars 

Have you read Rooms by Lauren Oliver? What did you think?

Best Kept Bookish Secret

Incoming book alert! Check out all of these unused books I purchased for only $30 (excluding Maggie Stiefvater's Blue Lily, Lily Blue).

From top to bottom:
  • Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure
  • Sharon Green's Silver Princess, Golden Knight
  • Leah Cypress' Mistwood
  • Amanda Hocking's Switched, Torn, & Ascend
  • Leigh Bardugo's Shadow & Bone
  • Kiersten White's The Chaos of Stars & Mind Games

Where'd they all come from for such a low price, you ask? Alright, friends. I'm about to let you in on a very juicy bookish secret-- one you will most definitely thank me for. I only just discovered it recently myself, but you better believe I wasted no time in taking advantage of it.

It's called Book Outlet.

They sell discounted books offered at 50-90% off the original list price. Book Outlet's books are marked down so low because they are from a publisher's excess inventory. The books are unused and in excellent condition, unless they come from the Scratch & Dent section-- my personal favorite section. The Scratch & Dent books show some signs of handling or scratches, but they are structurally sound, overall. The best part is they are even cheaper. Like $2-3 for a hardcover cheap.

The only downsides would be cost of shipping and length of time it takes to ship-- but even so, it was cheaper to order those titles through Book Outlet than it was to order them through Amazon with Prime 2-day shipping. Trust me, I checked first before placing the order.

You're welcome.

And just for the record, I was not paid for this post, and I have no affiliation whatsoever with other than the fact that I use it and love it.

Have you heard of Book Outlet before? Am I the last one to be in the know? What were your experiences like? If not, do you plan to use the site in the future? I'd love to hear from you.

Linking up here and here.

Book Review: Philippa Rice's Soppy: A Love Story

Soppy: A Love Story by Philippa Rice

Image via Tumblr
*I received a free digital ARC of this title via NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Wow. What a charming, sweet, and understated graphic novel.

Mostly illustration, not a ton of text, the beauty of Soppy is in its subtleties. The illustration is deceptively simple in technique, and only three colors are used: black, white, and red. Even so, Soppy packs a major emotional punch.

Viewing the comic from the standpoint of being in a long-term, loving relationship, I find the content completely endearing. Rice depicts the tender, everyday, and sometimes under-appreciated moments between lovers. 

Image via Tumblr

Some scenes are so relatable that I laughed out loud: “I'll cook if you wash up. If you phone for the pizza I'll answer the door when it arrives.” & “Are you asleep? No. *both fall asleep*
Having never read anything of Rice's before (even though she's kind of a big deal on Tumblr, apparently), I did not have any major expectations going in, and because I didn't have advanced knowledge of her work, I think I was able to enjoy Soppy all the more. It turned out to be such a delicious surprise.

I fully intend on purchasing a physical copy to add to my graphic novels shelf. 

My Rating: 5 Stars
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