Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Really Short Reviews: The Linnet Ellery series by Phillipa Bornikova

I read the first two books in the Linnet Ellery series from the library in December of 2013. I was so disappointed when there weren't any more. But now, almost five years after the previous release, the series is continuing. (Yay!)

Because I think a lot of people don't know about this series, and the ones that do probably haven't thought about it in years, I'm sharing my reviews of books 1 and 2 along with the new release. They're edited a little bit from what originally appeared on Goodreads.

This Case is Gonna Kill Me
(Linnet Ellery #1)
Phillipa Bornikova
Release: Sept 4, 2012
Goodreads Amazon
What happens when The Firm meets Anita Blake? You get the Halls of Power—our modern world, but twisted. Law, finance, the military, and politics are under the sway of long-lived vampires, werewolves, and the elven Alfar. Humans make the best of rule by "the Spooks," and contend among themselves to affiliate with the powers-that-be, in order to avoid becoming their prey. Very loyal humans are rewarded with power over other women and men. Very lucky humans are selected to join the vampires, werewolves, and elves—or, on occasion, to live at the Seelie Court.

Linnet Ellery is the offspring of an affluent Connecticut family dating back to Colonial times. Fresh out of law school, she's beginning her career in a powerful New York "white fang" law firm. She has high hopes of eventually making partner.

But strange things keep happening to her. In a workplace where some humans will eventually achieve immense power and centuries of extra lifespan, office politics can be vicious beyond belief. After some initial missteps, she finds herself sidelined and assigned to unpromising cases. Then, for no reason she can see, she becomes the target of repeated, apparently random violent attacks, escaping injury each time through increasingly improbable circumstances. However, there's apparently more to Linnet Ellery than a little old-money human privilege. More than even she knows. And as she comes to understand this, she's going to shake up the system like you wouldn't believe….
We see so many Urban Fantasy heroines who are detectives, assassins and bounty hunters. Linnet Ellery is a lawyer and she's still a little bit badass. She works for an elite "White Fang" firm, where when you make partner, you get made a vampire. In her world, only men can become vampires or werewolves, so the glass ceiling may as well be titanium. Linnet is assigned a dead end case, working for a lawyer no one in the firm respects and couldn't get any lower on the office totem pole if she tried. Then her boss is murdered and she finds out their case is a lot more interesting than she expected.

Linnet tries to find the killer, while navigating through office politics and the dating scene, not to mention vampires and werewolves. Linnet is smart and relatable. The supporting cast is original and engaging. There is more action than you would expect from a legal drama. The villain is not unexpected, but there are surprises along the way. I really enjoyed this twist on a typical Urban Fantasy!


16059327 stars

Box Office Poison
(Linnet Ellery #2)
Phillipa Bornikova
Release: August 6, 2013
What happens when exquisitely beautiful elves start getting all the roles in Hollywood? Human actors sue, that’s what. In a desperate attempt to keep the squabbling inside the Screen Actors Guild from going public, the president of SAG forces the two sides into arbitration.

Enter Linnet Ellery, a human lawyer working for a vampire law firm, to serve as arbitrator. Linnet discovers that there are sinister forces at work in Tinsel Town determined to shatter the fragile peace between elves, vampires, werewolves, and humans. Someone has been coercing famous elven actors into committing sudden and terrible acts of violence against humans in a series of tragedies that could turn the tide of public opinion against all the supernatural Powers.

During the course of her investigations Linnet realizes that a puzzling secret surrounds her, and that a strange power has been affecting the very course of her life. . . .
Linnet Ellery travels from New York to L.A. with her new boss, vampire David Sullivan, to preside over an arbitration among SAG members. The human actors claim that Alfar (elf) actors gain an unfair advantage by using their powers to land roles. During the hearings, two prominent Alfar actors commit heinous crimes, causing even more resentment from the humans. Linnet, along with a new journalist friend, starts looking for a connection between the cases. She discovers a hate group, a potential conspiracy, and of course, winds up in danger herself.

Along with social commentary about racism and celebrity, this book is full of pop culture references. Everyone in L.A. is constantly quoting movies and soon Linnet starts doing it too. There's also a really unusual love triangle taking shape. Linnet still has feelings for John, who was trapped in the Alfar world in the last book, and David seems to be interested in Linnet, though she's completely oblivious. I'm really interested in how that relationship will develop, given her history with vampires and the constraints they're under. I'm also curious about which of the supporting characters will make their way into later books. (We could wind up with a love trapezoid soon.)

Perhaps in honor of its Hollywood setting, much of this book reads like an action movie. The showdown with the Big Bad in the middle of the Oscar ceremony really blew me away! I can't wait to see what Linnet does next!


25659418 stars

Publish and Perish
(Linnet Ellery #3)
Phillipa Bornikova
Release: April 24, 2018
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Linnet Ellery, a young attorney at a prestigious New York vampire law firm has proved she has extraordinary luck--and not just in the courtroom. She has walked unscathed through events that would kill a normal person.

Linnet's elven ex-boyfriend is trapped in Fairyland, and Linnet will have to lead a raid into Fey to free him--alongside her boss, whom she is falling in love with. But a love affair between a vampire and a human is strictly forbidden, and any violation is punishable by death for both parties.

As events unfold, Linnet determines the source of her mysterious power, and is dismayed to discover that she is the most dangerous person in the world to her vampire and werewolf friends. The more secrets and treachery she uncovers, the more Linnet realizes that a decision must be made: Can she be her true self, without sacrificing everyone she cares about? 
I think I would have enjoyed Publish and Perish more if I had reread the previous book first. It starts immediately after Box Office Poison. Linnet has just gotten off the plane from L.A. and is making a few stops on the way back home when the excitement starts. But since it's been almost five years for me, I just wasn't as emotionally invested in the characters as I would have liked. There are also some returning minor characters from book two who took me a little time to place.

The book answers some big questions, like why there are no female vampires. (When the rule is first introduced, it just sounds like patriarchal nonsense.) And we find out more about the secret societies that were hinted at before. But you know how sometimes really unpleasant things happen to the characters in a book and it's unpleasant to read? That's kind of what happened with this one.

After the unpleasantness, and a little WTFery, though, I like the direction the series is going. It reminds me a little bit of Secret McQueen, in feel as well as content. I hope that there's another book planned for next year and I don't have another five year wait.

3 1/2 stars

Friday, April 20, 2018

Weres Wanna Know: Do You Read More Backlist Books Or New Releases?

I'm finally getting around to analyzing my book stats from 2017 and I found something interesting. Most of books I read last year (and the first part of this year) have been mostly new releases. Actually, if we exclude manga and rereads, I only read 26 backlist books that were published before 2017 out of the 97 books I read (26%). That's a very small fraction of my reading. So far this year, if I exclude manga and rereads, I've read 7 backlist books out of the 16 books I've read (44%). While 2018 is looking like I'll do better than last year, most of my success this year is directly correlated to my participation in the Beat the Backlist challenge.

So it got me thinking about why I read so many new releases compared to backlist books. I have a ridiculous amount of unread books published before 2018 on my shelves and that number isn't getting any smaller. One of the main reasons I read mostly new books is because I get several ARCs for review on the blog each month and I prioritize getting those read over my personal reading. But it's not a big enough number to describe what is happening. 

Aside from ARCs, the only other reasons I can think of as to why I read so many new releases are hype and buyer's guilt. I have a love-hate relationship with hype in the book community. And while it can deter me from picking books up, it plays an even bigger role in getting me to pick books up. I frequently have this fear that I'm missing out on the next big thing that could be this decade's Harry Potter. It seems that no matter how old I get, I still want to be one of the cool book nerds. It also doesn't hurt that, I want to be able to be apart of the conversation.

The other reason is that I feel buyer's guilt with new releases. Like if I buy it, I should immediately read it guilt. I buy a lot of books each year but most of them are ebooks. It's weird but I totally feel more guilty buying a physical book and not reading it than I do an ebook. So I tend to read the new physical books I buy. Do I get to everything I buy? No, I don't. Some series I'm waiting till they're finished to start and others I need to get caught up with first. But if I buy a book that I can read immediately, I usually do.

I always have the goal to reduce my TBR pile but to do that I need to prioritize my older books over new releases. The Beat the Backlist challenge has helped but I really don't have any ideas on how to be better at reading older books. 

Do you all have any advice or tips that will help me pick up more backlist books?

We’re participating in the 2018 Discussion Challenge hosted by It Starts at Midnight and Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Go check out all the April discussions!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Product Review: Book Sleeves

Have you ever seen a bookish product and known immediately that you had to have one? I met a book friend for lunch about two years ago and I couldn't help but be curious about what looked like a small padded pillowcase with a book in it sticking out of her purse. When I asked her about it, she started raving about how great her book sleeve was. As someone who always has a book in my purse or backpack, I was immediately sold on something specifically designed to keep them safe as I went about my day.

Today, I'm going to review the two different kinds of book sleeves I've tried and tell you which one I think works the best.

Book Beau vs StoryHero

 When I was first looking into getting a book sleeve, everyone recommended getting a Book Beau. Unfortunately, they were so popular that the Etsy store would immediately sell out as soon as the new products were stocked. I tried for a few months to get one and was never able to. Then the store did a Kickstarter campaign and I was able to order one of each size. They have book sleeves available in three sizes: the mini for ereaders and mass markets (6" x 8.5"), the indie for trade paperbacks and smaller hardcovers (7.5" x 10"), and the XL for standard hardcovers (8" x 10.5").

Honestly, I'm super disappointed with these. They work but they were shoddily made for the Kickstarter. The fabric (which isn't even the one what I ordered) is permanently wrinkled and my seams have split. They're also super thin. They'll protect your books but not as well as other products. Since I ordered them through the Kickstarter, they were supposed to be water resistant but I found out quickly that my Indie size isn't. My water bottle broke in my purse and soaked everything. Instead of repelling the water, the book sleeve absorbed it and ruined the book. It made me so mad!

The most irritating thing to me though was that they don't run true to size. I use my "XL" one to protect trade paperbacks and manga volumes because it's not big enough to use on the larger hardcovers. It's the same width as my Indie size but has the length of the XL. I tried to get a refund/replacements but the store owner never responded to my emails. I'll never buy their product again. I know lots of people who have had good luck with them. I just wasn't one of them.

After my terrible luck with Book Beau, I started researching other book sleeve stores on Etsy and I came across a store called StoryHero. I LOVE these book sleeves so much!

They are really well made! Like perfectly well made! They each have a padded body to protect your book from taking a beating in your bag. They have a water resistant inner lining that actually works. Remember when I said my water bottle broke in my purse? I had span of about a month this last summer where I broke or had a leaking water bottle at least every other day. My StoryHero got wet but my book was perfectly dry. One thing I love about these book sleeves compared to others you can find on Etsy is that they come with a flap closure so your book is protected on all four sides and each sleeve comes with a pocket!

I frequently have my book in my sleeve as well as my iPad mini, a bookmark, post-its, and a pen in the sleeve. Depending on the size of the book, I can also fit a manga volume or my iPad in the main sleeve too. I've had my floral StoryHero for about a year now and it's still in top condition. And I used it commuting every day for six months of that.

You can get your book sleeve in one of two sizes: Original Story or Epic Story. The Original Story is approximately 10" x 8" which works perfectly for paperbacks and ARCs and can easily fits books up to 500 pages. It will also fit smaller hardcovers and is the perfect size for an iPad mini! Even if I don't have a physical book with me, I've taken to using mine to protect my iPad in my bag.

The Epic Story size is approximately 11" x 9" and works perfectly for the larger hardbacks (most adult hardcovers). I easily put my 624 page copy of Obsidio and a manga volume into the main sleeve and still had room to put my iPad in the pocket.

Also, the shop owner, Becky, has been a dream to work with! She ships fast and makes each sleeve to order. She restocks the store every Friday and has some great fabric choices. I really can't recommend her book sleeves enough! I use my small book print StoryHero every day.

Do you have a book sleeve? Which brand do you have?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

We Love Lists: Kindle Unlimited Book Recs

Last year I did the free trial of Kindle Unlimited and decided it probably wasn't cost effective for me. (I wrote a post about it, which you can read here.) But I got a great deal last month.There was one series I wanted to read that was part of the program and it was actually cheaper than buying those two books. I'm actually thinking of keeping it for a while this time. I've found more books I'm interested in. Now I just have to find time to read them.

Here are some of my faves that are available in Kindle Unlimited. 

Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller
Borrowed Souls came out last year, but was just added to KU. It has one of the most unique magic systems I've read recently - you can borrow a soul to keep your own clean while you sin - and an interesting diverse cast. Fans of Downside will like this one.

The Black Dog series by Hailey Edwards
You know how I love a paranormal police procedural? The Black Dog series follows a young marshal for the Conclave, the Fae ruling body, and her incubus partner on their supernatural cases. It's also spawned several spinoffs, all available in KU, though the original series is still my favorite.

Heart of Malice by Lisa Edmonds
Heroine Alice Worth reminds me of Jaye Wells's Kate Prospero, which is always a good thing. I also loved the supporting cast and the magic. Book two in the series comes out in May.

How to Save an Undead Life (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy Book 1) by [Edwards, Hailey]
The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy series by Hailey Edwards
This is the series that made me try KU again. I've read the first book and was waiting for the third, which just came out. The heroine Grier lives in a sentient house, gives ghost tours of Savannah and crushes on her next door neighbor. She also just got out of prison after being cleared of her aunt's murder. I'm planning to post a series review when I get caught up.

Fallout by Gwenda Bond
Fallout tells the story of how Lois Lane became a journalist. She's just started a new high school and joins the school paper. For some reason only the first book in the series is in KU right now, but it stands alone just fine.
My review of Fallout

The Harry Potter series is also included in Kindle Unlimited. I'm not sure how that works since the books are supposed to be exclusive. It's a "book club" edition so maybe it's abridged? But if you haven't read them yet, that's also worth looking into.

Do you have Kindle Unlimited?
Give me your book recs in the comments!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence
(The Others #6)
Anne Bishop
Release: March 6, 2018
Goodreads Amazon
In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy, set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, Vicki DeVine and her lodger, the shapeshifter Aggie Crowe, stumble onto a dead body . . . and find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal beings even more deadly. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns like Vicki’s have no distance from the Others, the dominant predators that rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what’s out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shapeshifting Others–discovers a dead body, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the man’s death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, things get dangerous–and it’ll take everything they have to stay alive.


Lake Silence marks the next story arc in Anne Bishop's The Others series. And while I recommend that you read the first five books in the series, I think you could easily start with this book without getting lost. This book acknowledges that the world of The Others has changed after the first arc, but it doesn’t refer to events in the previous books much other than that.

The story is a bit different this time around. Where the first arc was mostly told from the points-of-view of the Others in the Lakeside Court, Lake Silence deals more with the human side of Thasia and specifically, it's a chance for us to really see the consequences from The Great Predation, especially what it did to the smaller settlements. In addition to focusing more on the human side, we also get a lot more focus placed on the Elders and Elementals, which were more on the sidelines in the first arc. They're still super creepy, in my opinion.

This book introduces us to Vicki DeVine, a human living in the little town of Sproing. She received an old run-down resort known as The Jumble in her divorce settlement and has been fixing it up and getting it ready for guests. Soon after she's completed renovations, a dead body is discovered on the property. The body could possibly be connected to her ex-husband and a plot to reclaim The Jumble. Unfortunately, most of the police are wanting to blame Vicki for the murder. When her friends and neighbors come to her defense and help her investigate, she realizes that she’s been surrounded by more of the Others than she ever thought she was. By claiming The Jumble as her own, she’s become part of their world.

I really liked Vicki! She's a woman who has been through a brutal marriage and still struggles daily to get past the poison her husband ingrained in her throughout the years of their marriage. But she is moving on, albeit slowly. I loved the glimpses we get of her unguarded thoughts that show us how spunky she is. It makes the brutality of what her husband did to her stand out more. She’s so unsure of herself and censors herself because she has been told repeatedly that her place is to be unseen and hidden. I look forward to the series continuing and seeing Vicki break out of that shell she's formed around herself. Also, it looks like we're going to get another great slow burn romance in this arc and I am totally here for it!

Vicki's only paying lodger Aggie, a Crowgard, is also a wonderful addition to this series. She's inquisitive like the Crowgard we met in the first story arc, but she seems to understand the humans a bit more than other terra indigene in this series. That understanding comes through in her investigative skills when she's able to put herself into the mindset of the humans in certain cases. I loved the parts of the story that were told from her point-of-view! I'm interested to see where her character goes from here.

Lake Silence drew me in like all the other books in this series and I can't wait to see where this new story arc goes from here.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley


Friday, April 13, 2018

Thoughts on 2018's Spring Anime Premieres, Part 2

In case you missed yesterday's post, I did terrible about keeping up or even starting anime last season. So to motivate myself to start all the anime I'm interested in this season, I decided to write a post that turned into two about my thoughts on the first episodes of each show. There's so many I want to watch this season! For the most part, I can tell by the end of the first episode whether I'll like an anime or not. I've only found a couple I'm meh on so that makes me happy! So today I'm talking about the second set of premieres I watched and what I thought of them.

Yotsuiro Biyori
 Premiered: April 10th on Crunchyroll

Guys! Yotsuiro Biyori is the most chill anime ever! It's about four guys running a tea shop and that's the whole show. It sounds too simple but it's SO good! Plus, it's super relaxing to watch! Although, it made me super hungry with all the anime food porn. 😅 And three of the main characters are voiced by the actors who voice Victor Nikiforov, Midoriya Izuku, and Nozaki-kun! This anime made me super happy and I can't wait to watch more of it!

Space Battleship Tiramisu
Premiered: April 2nd on Crunchyroll

I really wanted to like Space Battleship Tiramisu, but this anime is just not for me. For such short episodes (~7 mins), the animation is great and the mechas are cool but that's where my appreciation for it ends. The humor and the main characters grated on my nerves. I'm not going to continue with this one.

Butlers X Battlers
Premiered: April 11th on Crunchyroll

Butlers X Battlers was... something. Overall, the episode was pretty meh till the last few minutes. It was a poorly executed episode for a premiere not to mention confusing. I'm a bit disappointed because the premise sounds so cool. The characters were interesting. The main character comes off as kind of a dick but the other characters seem cool especially Holmes, Watson, and Hikari. I'll give it another episode or two to catch my attention before I give it up.

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
Premiered: April 12th on Amazon Prime

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku was one of my most anticipated animes of the spring season and the first episode was so great! It gave me serious Recovery of an MMO Junkie vibes but with different kinds of otaku and not just gamer otaku. I loved it! The characters are great so far! And I already kind of ship one of the romances. I'm really excited to watch this one this season and learn more about the characters! Also, the opening credits were glorious!

Premiered: April 8th on Crunchyroll

Okay. I'll be honest. I'm still not 100% sure what Caligula is about but I'm totally intrigued after watching that first episode! It's looking like it's going to be a sci-fi/horror psychological thriller and a bit of a mindf*ck set around "the world is not as it seems trope". And I'm totally here for it! I can't wait to see what happens next!

Libra of Nil Admirari
Premiered: April 8th on Crunchyroll

The first episode was mostly setup but I can tell that I'm going to dig Libra of Nil Admirari. It has cursed books and it really embraces that it's a reverse harem anime. That end credits was something else. 😅 The characters look like they're going to be fun. Plus, I'm really interested to see where they go with the story. I'll definitely be continuing this one!

So that's all for my anime premiere thoughts posts! I wasn't able to get to Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Matosan and Last Hope (Juushinki Pandora) because Netflix doesn't have them uploaded yet. I'll be posting my impressions for both of them in my Spring Anime Twitter Thread if you want to see what I think when I do get to watch them.

What shows are you watching this season?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Thoughts on 2018's Spring Anime Premieres, Part 1

Okay. I did terrible about keeping up or even starting anime from the winter season. I’m going to try to do better at watching anime this spring season and not just rewatch old favorites.. *cough* Yuri on Ice *cough*

So to motivate myself to start all the anime I'm interested in, I decided to write a post that turned into two about my thoughts on the first episodes of each show. There's so many shows I want to watch this season! For the most part, I can tell by the end of the first episode whether I'll like an anime or not. I'm hoping that this season will be a good one for anime after the many disappointments of the fall season. So here is the first set of premieres I watched and my opinions on them.

Tada Never Falls In Love
Premiered: April 5th on HiDive 

Okay. I'll be honest. This anime wasn't even on my radar until my friend, Nikki, mentioned it on her Twitter. I'm so glad I checked it out! I'm all in after just the first episode. It was freaking adorable! I can already tell that it’s going to be one of my favorites this season. I’m intrigued about the characters and can’t wait to learn more about them! Especially Teresa! I have some theories about who she is and I can't wait to see if any of them are right.

PERSONA5 the Animation
Premiered: April 7th on Crunchyroll

PERSONA5 the Animation is a lot of my anime and gaming friends' must watch anime of this season. Personally, I haven't played the game this is based on yet so I don't know much about the story line. I was a bit confused in parts but it has definitely pulled me in. I'm intrigued to see where it is going and I want to know more about the characters. Plus, the animation style while a bit flashy is still pretty cool. I'll definitely be continuing on with this one.

My Hero Academia Season 3
Premiered: April 7th on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Funimation

Honestly, I was going to watch season three of My Hero Academia whether the first episode was good or not. It was this weird mash-up of a recap and a pool party but oddly enough it worked. I'm so excited for this season! I'm definitely all in!

Dances with the Dragons
Premiered: April 5th on Crunchyroll

I'm conflicted on this one. The first episode was pretty meh but I'm intrigued by the premise. The anime promises to be this futuristic sci-fi dragon hunters show mixed with some political intrigue. I'm going to give it a couple more episodes before I call it quits but I wasn't impressed with the premiere.

Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits
Premiered: April 2nd on Crunchyroll

This is another anime I hadn't heard about that my friend, Nikki, informed me of. The first episode was SO good! I'm all in! This show so far seems to be a mix of Kamisama Kiss and Natsume Yujin-cho and I am here for it! I've already watched the second episode and it has just gotten better! I can tell that this one is going to be a season favorite for sure!

 Premiered: April 6th on Crunchyroll

OMG! Guys! Hinamatsuri surprised the hell out of me with how good it was! I never knew I needed an anime about a Yakuza becoming the caregiver of a girl with telekinetic powers. It sounds weird but the first episode was SO good! And funny! And oddly endearing! I think it will be a favorite this season!

My Sweet Tyrant
 Premiered: April 6th on Crunchyroll

My Sweet Tyrant is a bit weird and has really short episodes (~3.5 mins) but I liked the first one enough to continue on with it and see where it goes. I'm all for animes with weird relationship dynamics.

So that's all for today's post! Check back tomorrow for more of my thoughts on this season's anime premieres! There's lots of good ones this time!

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