Size Doesn’t Matter (9): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (9): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerSlasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke
Narrator: Robbie Daymond, Emma Bering, Nora Hunter, Jorjeana Marie, Julia Whelan, MacLeod Andrews
Length: 13 hrs, 12 mins
Published by Listening Library on August 18, 2015
Genres: Horror, Short Stories, Anthologies, Paranormal, Thriller, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

Though I’m not a huge horror fan, I couldn’t pass up the authors in this anthology. Plus, I adore this adorably creepy cover. That evil little toothy baseball is so cute for some reason.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys is one of the best anthologies I’ve read, because it doesn’t have any of the truly terrible and/or boring stories that usually make reading them torture for me, though nothing like the torture scenes in this book. As a whole, the stories are all strong. Short stories will never be my preferred tales, but I was impressed with the quality here.

Most of the stories, as with most horror, are horrors going after young women. It’s a pretty sad commentary on our world, but a true one. What’s nice is that almost all of them twist that and I loved all the brutal women. I loved watching women get their vengeance. Some of them were truly eerie in a way I hadn’t accounted for.

Favorite stories: “Sleepless” by Jay Kristoff & “The Girl Without a Face” by Marie Lu. Lu’s story has the bonus of being the only one to actually creep me out, and I regretted listening to it at night.

Least favorite stories: “In the Forest Dark and Deep” by Carrie Ryan & “Verse Chorus Verse” by Leigh Bardugo. Ryan’s story was a bit too weird for me, and I just couldn’t get a good mental picture of it, though I liked parts of it. Bardugo’s was a bit boring and more about the mother than the teen, which seems unfortunate given the intended audience.

The audiobook was good for the most part, though Winters’ and Bachmann’s stories suffered because I very much did not like their narrator, the same for both stories set in Europe. Aside from the stories listed above, they were all solidly good. Horror fans will not want to miss this.

Size Doesn’t Matter (9): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron
Series: The Legend of Eli Monpress #1
Published by Orbit on February 24, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Pages: 268
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief.

But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while.

Like a king.

Rachel Aaron has a gift, you guys. It’s amazing that The Spirit Thief was her debut. For so many authors, The Spirit Thief would be the lofty peak of their career, but Aaron/Bach basically does amazing things every time.

There’s a lot that’s familiar in Eli Monpress, but it’s also something wholly original and Rachel Aaron. She excels at both world and character building, twisting archetypes into her own delightful mishmash of balls-to-the-wall awesome. At most points, I thought I knew where The Spirit Thief was headed, but then I didn’t.

Also, I defy you not to fall in love with Eli and the rest of this kooky cast. Eli’s one of those incredibly flirty guys who’s super powerful but doesn’t feel the need to posture. Sure, he makes jokes about his talent but he’s mostly low key and let’s you forget that he’s a force to be reckoned with, which makes him more dangerous and way easier to respect.

Size Doesn’t Matter (9): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerSymphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson
Published by Candlewick on September 22, 2015
Genres: History, Nonfiction, Biography
Pages: 464
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson delivers an account of the Siege of Leningrad and the role played by Russian composer Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony.

In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.

This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives.

In general, I’ve been reviewing all the books that really move me in full. Obviously, I’m not doing that for Symphony for the City of the Dead, mostly because I’ve never really been sure how to write a comprehensive review for nonfiction, since that seems to come down in large measure more on the accuracy of the information which I can’t really speak to.

In all my years studying history, I’ve always been most fascinated by the World War II era. One of my other favorite bits of history to study was that of Russia. Clearly, Symphony for the City of the Dead was up my alley. What added to its appeal and success is that M.T. Anderson is a writer of fictions, so he tells history in a way that’s not dry like so many nonfiction tomes can be. It’s alive and made me cry quite a bit.

I’ve not actually studied the Siege of Leningrad much, so I learned a lot here. I’m also now tempted to dive into that incredibly long history of the siege that’s been on my to-read list since college. I probably won’t do it soon, but someday.

Size Doesn’t Matter (9): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerBlood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Series: Blood and Salt #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on September 22, 2015
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 341
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

Blood and Salt was a really quick read, just a couple of hours, and I had a lot of fun with it. The pace was fast and the writing engaging. That said, I had some issues with it.

What I expected to have problems with was the instalove, but that didn’t really bother me. For one thing, I think it helps I was warned by the comparison to Romeo and Juliet. For another, I think it was dealt with, rather than being a half-assed attempt at writing romance.

Blood and Salt didn’t turn out to be as creepy as I’d expected and one of the big twists was very much telegraphed. I also didn’t understand what the culture was supposed to be. The people of Quivira refer to themselves as a tribe sometimes, but they don’t seem to be Native American at all. There’s a Mexican family perhaps and the rest seem to be white, which is weird. I didn’t particularly bond to the characters. My favorite was actually Rhys, her brother who wants no part of anything Quivira.

Bless whoever put the series info on Goodreads or I would have been really pissed when I got to the end. Still, it does feel like this story could have been wrapped up in one book. I’ll probably read the sequel but on some level it doesn’t feel needed to me. There’s still plot for it, mind you, but I just don’t know that drawing it out to a series was the best way to tell the story. Maybe I’m wrong though; only the sequel will tell.

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3 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (9): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger”

  1. Layla says:

    I’m really excited about A Symphony for the City of the Dead though honestly it’s not one I’m going to pick up for some time (i’m in a reading funk and nonfiction is usually not good at helping me break out of that). I love your review of it, tho!
    Layla recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Girl of the LimberlostMy Profile

  2. Horror fans will not want to miss this, eh? Well FINE. I think I’ll go the print route though. I have The Spirit Thief but have yet to make time for it. So excited to see you enjoyed it! I don’t read too many Non-Fiction books but Symphony for the City of the Dead did intrigue me.. might have to check this out now.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Audiobook Review – The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah HarknessMy Profile

  3. Katrina says:

    I had no idea that Slasher Girls & Monster Boys was an anthology but WANT SO BADLY! It looks really cool and I’m a big fan of Horror so it’s probably up my street! Exciting stuff 🙂

    Also, I am currently running two Giveaways! Click here for Hanna Peach’s ‘Girl Wife Prisoner’, and here for Garrett Calcaterra’s ‘Dreamwielder’! Good luck!

    Katrina @ Chased By My Imagination
    Katrina recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for ‘Bookish Habits I Want To Quit’.My Profile

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