Friday, May 15, 2015

PR Special Edition: SAM MAGGS Guest Post

Poisoned Rationality Special  Edition

Welcome to another Poisoned Rationality Special Edition!  Today we have Sam Maggs - author, blogger, coolest person you could ever hope to meet ;) She's here discussing her new book THE FANGIRL'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY and some of the nerdy influences from growing up.

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Summary
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.

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Fangirl Flashbacks: 
The Nerdy Media That Influenced Me the Most
My parents were always big into nerd culture, but I had to come to it myself in a lot of ways, too. While I was writing Fangirl’s Guide, I really had to examine the media that had the largest impact on me when I was just a budding geek – and here are the things that stuck out the most. You might want to go check them all out, too.

Stargate


I came to Stargate SG-1 when I was around twelve years old, and it was my first major fandom – fanfic, forums, and all. I think what got to me about this show was Sam Carter, who not only was a hard-core military bad-ass, but was also an astrophysicist. It was the first time I’d seen a show that really demonstrated to me that Strong Female Characters didn’t just have to be physically strong – they could also be super smart and also go into space! My very first convention was a Gatecon, and it was a lovely entry into the world of fandom. Stargate forever.

Tamora Pierce


If you haven’t read any of Pierce’s books, stop reading this article and immediately go get the first book set in the medieval fantasy world of Tortall, Alanna: The First Adventure. Imagine A Song of Ice and Fire, but if there were several different series set in Westeros and they all had amazing female protagonists, including two lady knights, a WOC demigod who can speak with animals, a spy master, and a slum cop. Oh, and she wrote them ten years before Westeros was even a glimmer in GRRM’s eye. These books ignited my love for fantasy worlds, magic, romance, and awesome kick-butt ladies. Go and get some of them right now.

Baldur’s Gate


Sure, I love Nintendo and Super Mario 64, but the first game that I was ever really obsessed with was Baldur’s Gate. An early outing from BioWare (who would go on to develop fan faves like Dragon Age and Mass Effect), Baldur’s Gate was basically a direct adaptation of a tabletop Dungeons & Dragons game onto the small screen. I was so stoked to play a game where I got to choose my gender and be a lady, and it also started my lifelong love of playing rogues or thieves in any sort of fantasy setting (there’s just so many things to hoard!) BeamDog recently released remastered versions of the first and second games, and they’re old school, but they totally hold up. Playing them felt like coming home, cheesy as that might be.

Runaways
One of my all-time favorite Marvel comics and a great entry into the Marvel universe, the original Runaways came to us from some of the greatest minds in comics, including Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona (currently the artist on Ms. Marvel), and even Joss Whedon. In this highly-underrated series, a group of teens discover that their parents are members of a collective of supervillains called The Pride, and band together to take their folks down. The book has an incredible cast of female characters (including girls with divers sexualities, races, and body types), and one of them even has a pet velociraptor. You can also find cameos from lots of familiar Marvel faces, like Captain America, which makes the journey into other Marvel comics a little easier.

Sailor Moon
Ah, the DiC English version of Sailor Moon for kids wasn’t the true Sailor Moon, but Serena and Darien hold a special place in my heart just because they were my first introduction to anime and to magical girls. This series was wonderful for showing me that all different kinds of girls could be heroes – the silly klutz, the super-nerd, the marriage-obsessed chef, the family-oriented priestess, the super-star. So often shows or games relegate teams to having just one girl who then has to speak to the experience of all women; not so on Sailor Moon. Revisiting the show on Hulu with subtitles, as it was meant to be watched, has been a highlight of my adult life as well.

What nerdy media influenced you the most growing up? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @SamMaggs!

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 About the Author
She wrote a book about begin a fangirl, likes Doctor Who, Anime, Books, and---oh fine here's what her GR bio says "Hi friends! I'm Sam Maggs, a writer, televisioner, and geek girl, hailing from the Kingdom of the North (Toronto). Despite my MA in Victorian literature, my writing focuses on geek culture and (sometimes) how it intersects with being a lady."

SO LIKE I SAID AWESOME COOL



FANGIRL'S GUIDE Video Trailer:

Author Links:

Monday, March 30, 2015

book Review: Bite at First Sight


When Rafael Villar, Lord Vampire of London, stumbles upon a woman in the cemetery, he believes he’s found a vampire hunter—not the beautiful, intelligent stranger she proves to be.

Cassandra Burton is enthralled by the scarred, disfigured vampire who took her prisoner. The aspiring physician was robbing graves to pursue her studies—and he might turn out to be her greatest subject yet. So they form a bargain: one kiss for every experiment. As their passion grows and Rafe begins to heal, only one question remains: can Cassandra see the man beyond the monster?


Yeah i deducted a half star because my favorite character dies. I won't say who, its a spoiler, but its the char at the end who dies.

That said enjoyable paranormal romp!

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There was something slightly unsettling about this book and the way that Cassandra nonchalantly discussed rooting around in a cadaver's body to see what made what muscle link where properly.  Fascinating, but much like certain other characters I found it to be very off putting when I'm contemplating eating steak.  And Cassandra love to go on at length about such things (is it a good thing if you can put a vampire off his meal? I'm not sure).

However the sparkling banter between Rafe and Cassandra makes up for the unsettling moments of honest discourse about peeling back a man's skin. Some of you may remember my complaints about Angelica in the first book (Bite Me Your Grace), and how annoying she was as a main character.  I can't speak to the second couple (Lydia and Vincent from One Bite Per a Night), since I haven't read that book yet unfortunately (they are lots of fun here though), but neither Cassandra nor Rafe were frustrating personalities.

It was refreshing to read about a romance heroine who could argue sensibly while also understanding the larger picture.  Was it wrong of Rafe to jump to conclusions and basically turn her life upside down because he didn't think to ask before assuming she was a vampire hunter? For sure.  But he was being very accommodating and aside from ludicrous threats against her life that no one believed BUT her, was the picture of helpfulness.  Look when even the villains of the plot say to each other "He won't kill her" (and in fact use that as a reason to revolt against Rafe) you should probably assume he isn't going to kill you.

Truthfully her agitation over whether he would or wouldn't kill her came quite late in the game (after the initial fear she all but forgets about it) and felt more like a contrived reason for her to fall into the dastardly (but highly inept) clutches of the bad guy.

To settle on the bad guy, Clayton, for a moment - he was so over the top shady that I'm certain the only reason he wasn't figured out sooner was all the "Lords of London" (in three years they've had three different lords!) keep getting hitched and finding their wives.  I was a bit squicked by a lot of how he allowed his goons to treat their prisoner.  Mild Warning for discussion of rape - there's nothing explicit, but the prisoner mentions it, the goons mention it and while later on everyone is very clearly NOT OKAY with it (to some violent degrees) I wish it had felt less like a set-up for two characters to be drawn together.

[spoiler]Lenore, a supplicant of Rafe's who Clayton kidnaps and allows to be raped multiple times by his "rogue vampire" henchmen, later uses their sexual assault as a means to escape.  Jolly resourceful, if not particularly pleasant, for her! She then escapes to a neighboring vampire's domain--a well known vampire who dislikes others tramping about in his area uninvited and is no close friend of Rafe's--and more or less falls into his arms.  He helps her and then later, after extracting a debt from Rafe for helping him defeat Clayton, requests Lenore.  Its stated, a couple times, that Lenore is afraid of men and shies away from all of them no matter who they are (understandably so).  Except for this Blackwell, the vampire who helped her.  [/spoiler]

I think if such an issue hadn't been made about the assault, and a key reason why Clayton could never be allowed such power for allowing it in the first place, I would have been more okay with how those two characters meet.  But after the end, and the request made to fulfill a debt, it left a bad taste in my mouth.  Not sure why.

In all this was an enjoyable, if rather uneven, historical paranormal romp.  I do think some of the descriptions of Cassandra and Rafe's ahem sexy times sounded less then sexy to me (I'm sorry "animalistic brutality" does not make me all hot and bothered), and Ann did kill my darling*, but I definitely enjoyed this outing.


(*) if you've seen the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, my darling dies very much in a similar fashion to how Anya died...with only slightly better reasoning [spoiler]To save Cassandra[/spoiler] and far more internal sobbing...though I still haven't forgiven Whedon for it (amongst other things).

Friday, March 6, 2015

Book Review: The Orphan Queen


Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others


As any of you who have seen my Goodreads review can attest I had a mixed bag experience with this book originally.  5 months ago I had excitedly requested the book for review from Edelweiss, running home from my friend's to read it.  Eagerly I read it, though I had some trepidations about the beginning, and to my shock I finished it quickly (we're talking less then a hour here folks).  Insult to injury it ended so abruptly I couldn't understand what had happened.

A little research later proved that Harper had only put a sampler (the length of the first part of the book, roughly 140pages) online and didn't think to mark it as such.  Jodi had made a blog post about it by the time I had cooled down enough to actually NOT yell my anger.  Though it didn't do anything for my anger levels as it just made me angry in a different way*.

Anyhow I got my hands on a finished copy (thank you ALAMidwinter) and read it through as quickly as my exhausted brain would let me.  With frequent stops to comment on things (see hashtag #TheOrphanQueen...or this status update conversation no spoilers, unless you count reactions to things not named as spoilers).  And thank you sweet shiny books that I did because my heart could not go on.

Possibly not that surprisingly almost all of my issues with how Part 1/the sampler ended are resolved within Parts 2&3.  No I'm serious here.  
1) Multiple Possible Love interests? One tosses himself under the bus while another seems to start to work out but ultimately ALSO tosses himself under the bus.
2) Super Shady Melanie? Legit, if surprising to Wil, reason.
3) All telling no showing? Okay this evens out somewhat, though its still very much a "Ask a n00b question, get a detailed answer" game in some parts, sort of justified because of what one character is scheming.
4) Why is Magic Bad? I'm...on the fence for this one since I think an answer may have been revealed, but it was a small part of a larger issue so it may not be the whole truth.
5) Wil and Mel's inability to understand court politics? Answered and with relish on one character's part.
6) Black Knife's morality issues (aka the world is black and white): Answered. Especially once we find out who he is. It makes A LOT of sense.  Also why I love him.
7) Wil wondering about if magic is bad? TOTALLY ANSWERED and not in a good way for her sanity.

So you see my broken faith was restored by the end.  Only to be broken anew by the last few paragraphs.  Okay I'm being dramatic, but JOOOODDDDIIIIII :shakes fist:

A lot transpires within OQ and you do need a certain level of disbelief to go along.  Wil's journey outside the castle walls for a number of weeks for instance.  She's pretending to be a highborn lady, who's a Ward of the King.  How the heck she is able to sneak out night after night is surprising enough (though also mostly answered), but a two week journey? TWO WEEKS.  Not two days, not a week, two weeks she's expected to be able to roam off where she (reluctantly) wanted without anyone questioning?  I had a lot of trouble buying that.  

And quite frankly a band of misfit, underfed, orphans with minimal training could actually retake a Kingdom is just as o.O  I don't know what Patrick was smoking, but I'm glad when Wil calls him out.

Like I said put aside your disbelief because this is an engaging roller coaster ride.  I liked Wil, her heart was in the right place in regards to her intentions and during the course of the book she learns to grow that backbone she should have had in the beginning.   She makes plenty of mistakes, but she truly believes that she is working to save her Kingdom (or what is left of that Kingdom) from invaders.  

Tobiah I have little to say about - he's a Prince. He's a bored, kind of disinterested, mostly unhappy because he is being forced to marry a girl he doesn't love, Prince.

James is fun and flirty and protective.  His heart is in the right place as well, though his methods are occasionally suspect.

Patrick I want to see beheaded. 

Melanie...I feel for this girl.  She's torn in two by her loyalties and feelings, wanting to resent Wil for something she can't help and never asked for.  Loving Wil because they've been best friends forever and she knows Wil's heart is in the right place.  Distrusting Wil because she's not such a blind forgiving idiot that she doesn't see that the world she wants can't happen because of Wil.  She makes questionable choices, but like Wil she's trying to stay true her heart.  Its just not a cut and dry solution.

Black Knife. Hey so let's talk about Black Knife who is awesome and great and the best thing since sliced bread.  Also let me emphasize that Black Knife is the awesome one. Everything after we find out who he really is, that's a different story. Before that reveal however BK couldn't have been cooler if he tried.  Honestly he reminded me of why I used to love Nightwing in the New Teen Titans - he smiles and jokes and flirts while dispensing justice.  

Granted BK had some things to learn, like you know the world isn't black and white, nor should you assume all that you are told is sacrosanct, but he makes that effort and when he finds out he may have been on the somewhat less just side then he thought he changes his methods and atones.

That my friends is a sign of someone who is mature.

But like I said after we find out who he is things take a bit of a downhill turn.  Can't say why but depending on the second book's opening, you may hear me say "Don't you dare fridge ____!" 

This all said I'm a little iffy with the last fifth of the book.  A lot comes out into the light of day and suddenly happens.  Not that any of it wasn't previously discussed, but everything happens one on top of the other so its hard to feel anything but dizzy by the end when yet another game changer happens.

So now we wait.  The good news is that a new prequel novella is due out in June (The Hidden Prince), with another due out in September (The Glowing Knight), with at least two more in the wings (currently unnamed) and the second book is due out in March of 2016.  Yeah. Dammit.  Join me my friends in saying JOOOODDDDIIIIII :shakes fist:
 


Monday, March 2, 2015

ebook review: The Assassin's Salvation


When Jamie Flipkens signed on as a pilot and engineer for a small medical research company, she never expected to end up on a mercenary ship full of hulking soldiers who want to make her their latest conquest. The captain has been good to her--it doesn't hurt that he's her boss's new beau--but she's on the verge of quitting when a strange man shows up at her shuttle door.

Sergei Zharkov claims to be an old friend of the captain's. He neglects to mention that he's also an assassin, a dangerous man who even the hardened mercenaries avoid. Jamie should avoid him, too, but she's drawn to the charm that sometimes escapes from beneath his grim facade. She finds herself wanting to give him a reason to smile--and maybe a little more than that.

The problem? There's a fresh bounty on the captain's head, and it's possible Sergei is there to collect it.


Note this is Book 3 of the series (MERCENARY INSTINCT was book 1, TRIAL AND TEMPTATION is Book 2, but I skipped it because assassin) so there's quite a bit of spoilerage involved. However if you're in it for the couple--Jamie and Sergei that is--then you don't have much to worry about as Sergei is new to this book and Jamie, while a separate character in the other two books, doesn't come into her own personality until this one.

Straight off I want to address the fact that Liondrake took Jamie's story into area I was less comfortable with.  Jamie is quick to point out that the Captain has sheltered them and tolerated them because of his relationship with Ankari (and nominally the money of his investment).  However that was at odds with the fact that Jamie felt very awkward around the other crew members.  Their behavior towards her bordered on sexual harassment and it seemed odd to me that the Captain wouldn't say something since he did take a more protector role towards her.

Otherwise I enjoyed this a lot though the assassin angle wasn't quite what I expected (we can blame fantasy for that).  Sergei comes on rather strong, but he's careful towards Jamie.  He definitely wants her, tells her as much, but he wants Jamie on her terms, not his.  He's willing to wait, or step aside, if that's what is better for her.  

Jamie's a mixed up mess.  She wants to leave the ship (because of discomfort) but she's enjoying learning from the ship's engineer and acknowledges she's learning more from him then from a classroom.  She wants to go to school, but mainly its because she feels a fake and fraud since she's almost entirely self-taught from books.  She wants a relationship with Sergei...actually no she's firm on this one.

This one felt more insular then INSTINCT, with a lot more time spent on the two of them running around solo, then as part of the group.  I'm okay with that--I'm in these books first for the romance, second for the other stuff.  And their romance was a joy to watch develop.  Sergei is a man of few words, but Jamie learns to pick up on the actions to understand.  I loved how Sergei wanted to protect Jamie, but saw that she was hella more resourceful then him at times and let her protect him.  I loved how Jamie listened and really understood what making the choice to pursue him might mean.  He shared a lot of personal details with her (in a somewhat comical moment as he silently urged himself to STOP but just kept talking), but she gave it all serious consideration.

I will say not knowing the second book sort of impeded my understanding of something Jamie apparently did.  However it didn't impede the romance angle of this book so that's all I really cared about in the end.




Sunday, March 1, 2015

Smashwords: Read an Ebook Week Sale (3/1 - 3/7)


Its that time of year again folks when Smashwords hosts a sale to grab your interest.  I've talked in the past about books I've gotten/read/enjoyed (here, here, here) and this'll be no different.

Free
Smashwords
Tsunoda Naoki is a ghost expert! Maybe. Okay, not really. He just pretends to be one, scraping a living by putting the easily-spooked at ease. But his luck seems to run out when he’s suddenly got a real ghost to deal with. He can’t even see this spirit, let alone exorcise her—and to complicate matters further she apparently seems to like Naoki… a lot.

Is this ghost hunt a romantic comedy or a tragic horror?

Smashwords
When her dreams are smashed by an assignment which would leave her trapped in a job far beneath her abilities, Eleanor has nowhere to turn. The Imperial system prides itself on unassailable perfection. In desperation she rejects her assignment and the quality of life she would have been guaranteed - and finds her imagination captured by legends which tell of a secret society of elite assassins.

Smashwords
In a distant future, Trevor "Lex" Alexander was shaping up to be the next great race pilot until a fixed race got him banned from the sport. Reduced to making freelance deliveries, he thinks his life can't get any worse. That's when a package manages to get him mixed up with mobsters, a megacorp, and a mad scientist. Now his life depends on learning what their plans are, and how he can stop them.

Smashwords
Josephine is a powerful wizard with a talent for psychometry that is so strong and acute that she can read the psychic impressions in a room without touching anything. Her abilities are as rare as they are unsettling. Her peaceful and quiet retired life is shattered when the police request her help with investigating a crime scene left behind by a suspect with powers equal to her own.

Smashwords
***** Part 1 of an 8 part Serial *****

Saira doesn't know how she ended up in a mountain cave. She's not quite sure where she got this magic sword, either - or the tattoo on her arm. In fact, Saira can't say for certain who she is.

What she does know: she's been kidnapped by bandits. And apparently, they're planning to use her as bait for a city full of ghosts ...

Smashwords
When monsters break through the veil between worlds, Mackenzie Scott has nothing left to lose. Her brother is marked, her future is gone, and all that remains is a desperate need for revenge. She devises a plan to stop them, and finds an injured stranger that just might be the key. But he's not the helpless boy he appears to be. He's one of them. And he's got plans of his own.

25% Off

Smashwords
This Descendants Series box set includes the following titles:

BOUND BY PROPHECY -- Aern's only job is to protect the chosen. Emily just wants her sister back. Together, they'll take on destiny.

SHIFTING FATE -- Brianna Drake was born to save the world. Logan was sent to watch over her. Neither expects what fate has in store.

REIGN OF SHADOWS -- Brianna and Emily thought they'd set things to right, beaten the prophecy. But the shadows have other plans.

50% Off

Smashwords
Why is the Empress suddenly so interested in the drylands north of the Empire? Eleanor and Daniel don't agree on much, but when they're sent to investigate strange happenings near the border between two foreign states, neither of them is really sure why they're there. Meanwhile at home, the rebels are causing chaos in the streets, whilst the Empress is grows ever more demanding of her citizens.

You can check out the whole sale going on right now over at Smashwords.  Tell me what you find how about?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review: Echo 8


Three lives. Two worlds. One chance to save them all.

As a parapsychologist working for Seattle Psi, Tess has devoted her life to studying psychic phenomena. But when doppelgangers begin appearing from a parallel world that's been struck by an asteroid, nothing in her training will help her survive what's to come.

After dislocating to Seattle Psi from the other Earth, Jake is confined by a special task force for study. But when he drains life energy from Tess, almost killing her, it causes a ripple effect across two worlds — and creates a bond neither of them expected.

Ross is an FBI agent ordered to protect Tess while she studies Jake. His assignment is not random — he and Tess have a history, and a connection the Bureau hopes to use to its own advantage. By the time Ross realizes his mission could be compromised, it's already too late — he'll have to choose between his love for Tess and his duty to protect the people of his own Earth.


This one is more like GHOST PLANET then THE OPHELIA PROPHECY, even down to the paranormal component. Largely I spent the book confused by anything not directly related to the character emotional relationships with each other.

Basically this was much "harder" scifi then I'm accustomed to in my scifi romances. Words, theories and suppositions were all tossed around as if I should understand the underlying concepts.  I love parallel world stories.  Just look at my love for A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU by Claudia Gray or UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris.  But what I love more is some sort of understanding of how the parallel world works.

So let's instead focus on what I did enjoy. Tess is interesting in that she's obviously smart; we're told as much, but she proves it more than once in her analysis and comprehension.  She catches on quickly to what the circumstances surrounding Jake represent.  She's also a victim of her own brilliance in terms of her and Ross' relationship.  Social cues mean little to her so she takes everything on face value.  Ross made a snarky comment about something she believes in, so obviously he thinks everything she does is ridiculous.  Even as she recognizes the skepticism others have she holds him higher.

Ross meanwhile is very much "Listen to what I mean, not what I say" sort of person.  More than Tess we "hear" his regrets in how he has handled their first meeting and how they get along thereafter.  But he doesn't understand what she's looking into and he doesn't know how to get around that.  So he waits and he pokes about trying to find a way to get her to understand.

Jake is antagonistic, somewhat petty and wholly over his head.  I never quite understood Tess' attraction to him, and I'd argue she never felt romantically towards him.  Still we can thank him for Tess and Ross, since Ross' jealousy towards him prompt him to act.The change in their relationship is a shock, since it just sort of happens, but from his point of view made sense. 

Fisher does address the inconsistency on Tess' end, as to that point she spent much of the book worried over what her research could mean and how Ross kept getting in the way (or rather the group Ross represented), then any lust she felt towards him.  Given that their first time together is rather...extraordinary and opens up a host of new things for Tess to investigate, I was rather glad there wasn't a whole lot of time spent on regret.

The "Echoes" like Jake represent a link that, as anyone who is versed in any sort of paranormal books that involve the government can attest to, offers quite the juicy prize.  "You can travel across dimensions you say hmmm?" is the gist of at least one government official's commentary as he twirls his imaginary mustache.  Rule number one in dimension hopping never trust the government. Yours or the one on the other side.

In the end this wasn't enough for me to whole-heartedly enjoy.  The mechanics of it didn't interest me as much as they should have and Jake's grating presence wore thin on my patience.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Post ALAMW 2015: 5 Books to Be Excited About



ALA Midwinter is, by in large, a much more relaxed conference then Book Expo America (I spoke more about this last year).  I can't say anything towards the Annual Conference (which is larger and has a huge literacy signing open to the public), but for me ALAMW is really the perfect sort of conference.

I've already gone into (briefly, more to come) the We Need Diverse Book Panel (Part 1), and I'll speak as to several other author panels I sat in on at the Pop Top Stage (which was possibly my favorite part of the conference).  But I wanted to get y'all geared up for some exciting books coming our way.

You can see a complete list of the books I got at the conference here on GoodReads. Where possible I linked to a digital galley you could request, all other links lead back to GoodReads. 


Goodreads
"Here in the Just City you will become your best selves. You will learn and grow and strive to be excellent."
Created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future—all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.

The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer's daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge,  ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an unguarded moment during a trip to Rome—and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her.

Meanwhile, Apollo—stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does—has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human.

Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives—the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself—to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect.
Whyso Interested?  Let's start with the fact Athena (Pallas Athene) is a time traveling goddess and I think from there you can extrapolate why I'm so excited.  Also I think I'm going to like Ethel and Simmea.  I really do.


Goodreads
Welcome to Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, the premier trainer of minions for Evil Overlords everywhere. No student is prouder to be at Dr. Critchlore’s than Runt Higgins, a twelve-year-old werewolf. (At least he thinks he’s twelve. He was abandoned at the school as a baby, so he can’t say for sure.) Runt loves everything about Dr. Critchlore’s. He loves his classes—like History of Henchmen and Introduction to Explosives. He loves his friends—like Darthin the gargoyle and Syke the tree nymph. And he loves his foster family, who took him in when his wolf pack couldn’t.
 

But not everyone loves Dr. Critchlore’s as much as Runt. After a series of disasters, each worse than the next, it’s clear that someone is trying to shut the school down. It’s up to Runt, who knows the place better than anybody, to figure out who’s behind the attacks . . . and to save his home, and Dr. Critchlore himself, from total destruction

Whyso Interested? SCHOOL FOR MINIONS.  Aside from the obvious awesome that is, who could say NO? I'd go to that school in a HEARTBEAT.

Goodreads // Netgalley
In the wake of the deadly devastation of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace, rescued from the ocean after torturous days adrift with her dying friend Libby, knows that the Persephone wasn’t sunk by a rogue wave as survivors Senator Wells and his son, Grey, are claiming—it was attacked.

To ensure her safety from the obviously dangerous and very power­ful Wells family, Libby’s father helps newly orphaned Frances assume Libby’s identity. After years of careful plotting, she’s ready to expose the truth and set her revenge plans into motion—even if it means taking down the boy she’d once been in love with: Grey Wells himself.


Whyso Interested?...yeah so I ran into a door while reading this...I greatly enjoyed Ryan's "Forest of Hands and Teeth" books (and short stories), and revenge is always intriguing to me. There's always more then one side to every story and I have to wonder what the truth is exactly because its never as cut and dry as it seems.

Goodreads
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I'm allergic to the world.I don't leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black--black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can't predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It's almost certainly going to be a disaster.


Whyso Interested? In the normal course of things I'm not sure I would have glanced twice at this as its not in my normal genres of choice.  However during the "We Need Diverse Books" panel at ALA Midwinter, the author spoke so engagingly about it that I decided I would read the book.


Goodreads // Edelweiss
Eleven-year-old Nell Warne arrives on her aunt's doorstep lugging a heavy sack of sorrows. If her Aunt Kate rejects her, it's the miserable Home for the Friendless.

Luckily, canny Nell makes herself indispensable to Aunt Kate...and not just by helping out with household chores. For Aunt Kate is the first-ever female detective employed by the legendary Pinkerton Detective Agency. And Nell has a knack for the kind of close listening and bold action that made Pinkerton detectives famous in Civil War-era America. With huge, nation-changing events simmering in the background, Nell uses skills new and old to uncover truths about her past and solve mysteries in the present.

Based on the extraordinary true story of Kate Warne, this fast-paced adventure recounts feats of daring and dan
ger...including saving the life of Abraham Lincoln!


Whyso Interested? HOW COULD I NOT BE?  This sounds fabulous!  Also anything to do with the Pinkerton Detective Agency from back in the day is of interest to me. 

Did you find new stuff to read and check out?  Did you hear about a book I didn't? Share your thoughts!