Tag: bibliophile

Oct 06

Review of Achilles by Greg Boose

Book Reviews 0 ★★½

Review of Achilles by Greg BooseAchilles by Greg Boose
Published by Diversion Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads two-half-stars

The year is 2221, and humans have colonized an earthlike planet called Thetis in the Silver Foot Galaxy. After a tragic accident kills off dozens of teenage colonists, Thetis's leaders are desperate to repopulate. So the Mayflower 2, a state-of-the-art spaceship, sets off across the universe to bring 177 new recruits to the colony. For Jonah Lincoln, an orphaned teen who's bounced between foster homes and spent time on the streets of Cleveland, the voyage is a chance to reinvent himself, to be strong and independent and brave the way he could never be on Earth. But his dreams go up in smoke when their ship crash-lands, killing half the passengers and leaving the rest stranded--not on Thetis, but on its cruel and unpeopled moon, Achilles. Between its bloodthirsty alien life forms and its distance from their intended location, Achilles is far from an ideal resting place. The situation is already dire, but when all of the adults suddenly disappear, leaving the teenage passengers to fend for themselves, Jonah doubts they'll survive at all, much less reach Thetis. Especially when it appears Achilles isn't as uninhabited as they were led to believe.

I wanted to love this book. It sounded so cool, and like a break from the ton of fantasy/fairy tale type books I’ve been reading. Achilles was a book that, try as hard as I might, I just could not really get into. However, if you’re big on science fiction you might love it! It did remind me of the first season of LOST…which, I, ahem, also discontinued a couple of episodes into Season 2 because I simply couldn’t stand all the craziness and constantly losing people.

Me, pretty much the entire book.

Characters:

I’m very character oriented when I read books. Characters are more important to me than world-building or excitement factor.  In Achilles, the characters feel very flat and many of them feel the same. I got so confused because I could NOT keep many of the supporting cast separate. Not helped by the fact that many of them weren’t even given names (referred to as “the hacker,” etc.) until several chapters after they appeared. Jonah, our MC, I thought was going to be likable but he turns out to have a bad case of navel-gazing and I just…cannot. I feel bad for him but I spent most of my time being annoyed at the way he was written. Also, he’s supposed to be this hard-ass kid that’s suffered abuse and came out still standing, yet his reactions to a lot of the things that happen are not how abuse victims and soldiers (he’s been in a military training facility for some time by the time the book starts) react. It makes the whole thing kind of unbelievable – really jolted me out of my suspension of disbelief, which is necessary for any kind of fantastical fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, fill-in-the-blank). I really didn’t feel anything for the rest of the characters either, and I was a little – ok, a lot – put off by how some of them did unexplained 180-degree flips without any real reason. Very suspicious and never explained, so the conclusion I am left with is that the author just…didn’t notice? Ugh.

Oh, also – CAN WE PLEASE HAVE MALE AND FEMALE INTERACTIONS WHERE THE MALE IS NOT SUDDENLY OVERCOME WITH AN UNAVOIDABLE HARD-ON?? I swear, so many times, when a book is written from the male perspective, he’s so distracted by female characters physicality that he turns into an idiot and it gets really old. I refuse to believe that the male population of the world is run solely by hormones.

World-building:

I think this is where the author spent most of his time! The world of the moon Achilles is harsh and brutal and I actually felt grossed out by some of the descriptions of the creatures inhabiting it (hard to do…I’m an EMT and few things turn my stomach anymore). It seemed like something new was introduced in every chapter. Sometimes it was hard to keep up but it was definitely intriguing.

Feels:

I usually put this section first, but this time I am putting it last because…er. I really didn’t have any. This book failed at making me feel anything but relief it was over. I am not interested in finding out what happens next. It didn’t really end on a cliffhanger, though there are lots of things about Earth’s colonization of Thetis that are not explained and have very dark implications – the main points of the story were wrapped up and that’s all I cared about.

 

Thank you very much to Diversion Books for sending me the ARC! I was delighted to read and review even if it turned out to not be my cup of tea. 

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GoodReads

two-half-stars

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May 08

The I Dare You #BookTag

Books/Writing 4

the i dare you #booktag

I’ve been off exploring and re-visiting beautiful places like this. I missed Virginia SO MUCH.

Oh hi! I haven’t entirely disappeared. Just mostly. I’m on vacation. Ish. Because I’m trying to house hunt and apply to universities at the same time and just WTF IS ALL THIS ADULTING. Also trying to ignore the fact that Virginia air is trying to kill me by giving me allergies so bad my eye swelled shut and I could barely see. Yay me. 😛

So this popped up in my inbox DAYS ago and I knew I wanted to do it. Many thanks to Cait @ PaperFury!

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  1. What book has been on your shelves the longest?

Uhhhhh. Possibly the Samantha set from American Girl. Or the Little House on the Prairie set. I’m not sure. I loved the American Girl girls SO MUCH when I was like 8-10 years old. As in loved them enough that even though I am now GROWN and do not plan to have my own little American girl-child, I am tempted to buy all the sets and put them on my shelves…because obviously my friends and family have little girls who MUST be shown the love of reading, right? Not because I am just a book dragon and like to hoard matching books. Ahem.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

I just finished Girl Out of Water. It was AMAZING. Also a giant kick in the feels because…well. Maybe I’ll elaborate in a review at some point. But I kind of want to sleep with this book under my pillow because I feel like someone GOT ME. Even if I’m 10 12 years older than Anise.

My current read is Epic Tomatoes. Don’t judge. 😛 I like science, and growing things, and I’m fascinated by plant genetics. So bite me…though a tomato would be more tasty. 😛

  

My next read…I’m torn. I brought a bunch of books with me and haven’t had nearly as much time to read as I thought sooooo….what’s a girl to do.

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

Red Queen. Grrrr. Did not enjoy this one at all. Sorry, everyone. Read my rant-y review.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Who am I kidding…while I have a backlist of classics, I’m not sure when I’ll ever get around to reading them. I’ll be lucky to get to 12 for this year, especially since as of right now I think I’m at 1/12. 😛

5. Which book are you saving for retirement?

I don’t ever plan to retire, soooooo….

6. Last page: do you read it first or wait to the end?

Errr…can I plead the 5th? No? Okay. So…I don’t ever read the last page FIRST, but a lot of times when the suspense gets to me I will flip to the last few chapters, just to make sure my babies (i.e., my fav characters) survive and everything works out in the end. Guilty. As. Charged.

7. Acknowledgments: are they a waste of paper and ink or interesting?

I think they’re pretty cool, myself! I will admit, when they are more than 3 pages long I read the first couple pages and then skim the rest. Because I figure there’s absolutely no chance that *I* or anyone I know is in them, so…yeah.

8. Which book character would you like to switch places with?

Ugh. See, in most of my favorite books…the characters are kind of in less than ideal circumstances, so no one in their right mind would REALLY want to switch places with them…but I guess if I had to choose, I’d choose Claire from Outlander. Because not only does she hang a hunk of a Scottish Highlander for a husband (who is big and tough and the BEST WARRIOR, but also a big ol’ teddy bear), the whole area and time period is fascinating to me. Minus all the really shitty stuff she and Jamie and their family have to go through.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

Isn’t every book connected to a memory? Wait, no. There are definitely some books I’ve read that I can’t recall where or when I read them. But most books on my shelves I remember the circumstances or where I was mentally when I read them. Like I read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series when I was sick and could NOT get my hands on anything else – and in the process discovered an awesome series and author.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

I used to do book swaps on Swap-bot. I got Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore that way. That’s about as interesting as my book acquiring goes, haha!

11. Have you ever given away a special book to a special person for a special reason?

Yes. I gave my copy of Romancing the Inventor to someone, because my heart just told me it was perfect for them. Because representation.

12. Which book has been with your the most places?

Ummmm….well, Lord of the Rings is my go-to comfort read. So I have hard copies, Nook copies, and audio copies. But, the same could be said for Outlander…I just read Lord of the Rings first.

13. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad 2 years later?

Are you kidding me? I was that kid in high school who had all the material read 2 weeks after school started. I couldn’t get my hands on enough books, and if they were required, so much the better.

14. Used or brand new?

OMG. How can you even ask this question?? I love them ALL. If it’s a fairly new series I try to find like new condition books…if they are older, then I don’t mind them with some wear. I’m not a first-edition collector, I can’t afford it. Much as I would love to be…but then I might be afraid to actually read them.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

What? No. Though I keep meaning to give the first one a try.

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

The Princess Bride. Shocking, I know. Though Buttercup is possbily the lamest of lame heroines. The movie is hysterical, but the book is lame.

17. A book that’s made you hungry?

Nothing particularly comes to mind…food isn’t so present in most of the books I read, maybe? Or maybe I just don’t notice?

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Um, I can’t say 100% of the time to anyone, but I love Emily May’s reviews and have found her tastes and opinions align with mine about 92% of the time. In real life, my best friend Mara has pretty good tastes and she’s known me forever so she’s good at picking stuff I like. 😉

19. Most read authors?

I’m totally copying Cait with the GoodReads screenshot. Hehe. Also this is kind of embarrassing, and skewed because Valerie Tripp wrote a ton of the American Girl books I read as a 10 year old. 😛

And I’m skipping the last question because it just breaks my brain. Hahaha. 😛

 

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Feb 18

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

review of a series of unfortunate events

I missed the boat on these books growing up. Actually, I think they were published just a little bit behind when I would have been of the age to most appreciate them (yes, I’m old…shhhh). Of course I had heard of them, but when I saw all the hype about the Netflix show I decided to pick them up and of course I had to write a review! My plan is to read all 13 books and review them in 3 posts.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events
Series Overview
:

This series is entertaining just for the narrative voice, if nothing else. Mr. Snicker (as narrator), is so dry and ridiculous that while yes, the books appeal to children, the tone is undeniably entertaining for adults. Are they great literature? No, I really don’t think so. Will they be remembered in 50 years? Yes, I think so, because they are so different from the vast majority of middle grade (MG) books.

The first 4 books (all I’ve read of the series, at this point) are all very similar. Set in an indeterminate time after the invention of the car and the telephone but before television and cell phones (I’m leaning towards the 1930s but not sure), the Baudelaire siblings, as we are told “lead lives filled with misery and woe” even though “they are charming and clever.” The actual location varies a bit, but adults are generally stupid and careless or cruel and cunning. The siblings stick together even as various horrible people try to hurt them or steal their fortune (or both). As their parents die in a catastrophic accident at the beginning of the first book (hence the title), the siblings have an enormous fortune, no near relatives, and no intelligent adult to help them or protect them. They fall easy prey to fortune-hunters…a theme that is repeated in all four of the first books. They go through a series of “guardians,” each seeming more horrible than the last, but at the end of the 4th book it looks like something might be changing as far as their living situation goes. To be honest, that is the main reason I’m going to continue on with the series, just because they were all so very similar.

The narrative voice in this series is as previously mentioned, very distinct. It breaks all the rules. It interjects into the story – sometimes with 3rd person omniscience, sometimes with random definitions of words. Like this:

This is one reason many lawyers make heaps of money. the money is an incentive – the word “incentive” here means “an offered reward to persuade you to do something you don’t want to do” – to read long, dull, and difficult books. The Baudelaire children had a slightly different incentive for reading these books, of course.

I think in this way, the author manages to use some words that middle grade readers wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with. It works, surprisingly – though as an adult reader I found it a bit annoying. The narrative voice is also the constant voice of doom and gloom, though with such wryness I found myself chuckling.

The series is not a realistic fiction series. I read several negative reviews that obviously took it as such, and I think that’s missing the entire point. The appeal of these books is that they use gross exaggeration to make points and to be funny. The characters are not supposed to be people you would meet on the street. They are grotesque exaggerations of people. Yes, we can all see elements of our crazy ex-boss in Count Olaf or Mr. Poe. But no one in the real world is that overtly-obtuse or evil. There are also made up creatures in these books – a dead giveaway that while they are set in a familiar world for readers, they are not in fact events that could actually happen.

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Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on September 30th 1999
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 176
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.
In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.
It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.
With all due respect,Lemony Snicket

The Bad Beginning as a title does not exaggerate. These poor kids, let me tell you. It starts off with introducing us to the Baudelaire siblings – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – just as they’ve lost their parents. Their solicitor, Mr. Poe, is a well-meaning but incredibly thick man who has no idea how to care for children and truly seems unable to see past the end of his constantly dripping nose. The siblings go to live with the evil Count Olaf, who is somehow VERY distantly related to them (how is it their parents have SUCH weird distant relatives and no near ones?) and cares nothing for them except how to get his hands on their money, as their deceased parents were quite wealthy. They move into his horrid house, where there are treated as little better than slaves. There is some comic relief, and also a consistent ray of sunshine in the form of Count Olaf’s neighbor (who, despite being well-meaning, is just as dense as every other “good” adult in this book).

The siblings are far from being normal children. They are all extremely gifted in some form, even Sunny – who is still a baby but is able to both communicate and act on a much older level. Violet is an inventor, and Klaus is a devourer of books and therefore just a general compendium of knowledge. Are they believable? Hardly. But neither are the adults.

The dark, twisted tone of this book really surprised me. This is for children!?! There are elements of abuse of the Baudelaire kids on all kinds of levels, twisting of the law in the worst possible way…and yet, the siblings refuse to be put down and refuse to give up. They stick together and eventually overcome the evil…but the evil is still lurking…and Mr. Poe is just as dense as ever.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on September 30th 1999
Pages: 192
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
If you have picked up this book with the hope of finding a simple and cheery tale, I'm afraid you have picked up the wrong book altogether. The story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire children spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle, but don't be fooled. If you know anything at all about the unlucky Baudelaire children, you already know that even pleasant events lead down the same road to misery.
In fact, within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odor, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the appearance of a person they'd hoped never to see again.
I am bound to record these tragic events, but you are free to put this book back on the shelf and seek something lighter.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The Reptile Room starts off (after the necessary doom-and-gloom letter from the narrator, of course) on a much better note for the Baudelaires. At last it seems they may be going to live with someone who genuinely cares for them and has their best interests at heart. BUT WAIT. Let’s not get too carried away. This is, after all, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and indeed they do seem to be the MOST unfortunate of children.

Soon after they arrive at their new home – another relative, this one a eccentric but lovable scientist, disaster strikes and they find themselves being hunted by the horrible Count Olaf once more. Only of course, since they are children and have been greatly traumatized, no one believes them. Because why would you? 😛 Naturally, things go from bad to worse and the children find themselves in a desperate fight to avoid being kidnapped right under the nose of the law. Sunny, the little rascal, plays a very important part in this one – eliciting a few eyerolls as somehow she manages to have the mental compact of about a 7-year-old in the body of a 15-month-old, but you know. Realism isn’t the point here. 😉 In the end, they narrowly avoid Count Olaf once more.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on February 25th 2000
Pages: 214
Goodreads three-half-stars

Dear Reader,
If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted; but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all. If you haven't got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair. I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

The Wide Window takes place far and away from the first two books, in a reclusive town and even more reclusive house with, you guessed it, yet another unstable distant relative as guardian for the Baudelaire children. This time their guardian, Aunt Josephine, isn’t even actually related to them, but is their “second cousin’s sister-in-law.” Who just happens to be terrified of everything. The dock. The lake. The oven. She never eats anything hot for fear of getting burned by either the oven or the food. However! She has an intense passion for grammar.

“Grammar is the greatest joy in life, don’t you find?”

Being something of a grammar freak myself, I found her constant corrections and horror at bad grammar to be quite entertaining and that in itself is the reason this book received a slightly higher rating than books 1 and 2. It really was hysterical at times, and plays an interesting part in the story.

Of course this wouldn’t be an A Series of Unfortunate Events book without, well, you know. Horrible bad luck. Of course these kids can’t catch a break and when a “Captain Sham” (hahaha ok, Lemony Snicket, you must have had such fun naming characters) shows up with an unhealthy interest in the children and all kinds of sweet words for Aunt Josephine, the terror begins. Once again (I since a recurring plot) the kids are forced to fend for themselves due to the incompetence of their adult guardians, and once again after a great deal of running around and close calls and horrible things happening to certain people, they manage to escape.

Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-4The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #4) by Lemony Snicket, Brett Helquist
on April 15th 2000
Pages: 194
Goodreads three-stars

Dear Reader,
I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log.
The pages of this book, I'm sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons.
I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven't, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Whoo-boy, here we go – The Miserable Mill picks up where The Wide Window left off, with the Baudelaires going off to yet ANOTHER guardian, this one the most mysterious and incomprehensible yet. Things are getting extremely repetitive at this point, so much so that I was tempted to not read this one. But the books are so easy to get through and so FAST to get through that I persevered.

This book gives a new spin to the Baudelaires mistreatment – they actually ARE slaves in this one, for the most part! Thrown into a sweatshop/poorhouse type sawmill, they are used and abused and try to hold each other together. Hope seems to be slipping away from them as they are too exhausted to do anything at the end of the day. But then Klaus breaks his glasses and has to go see the “optometrist.” And all is not as it seems…because nothing ever is, for these kids. Of course no one believes them when they say they are being stalked. Of course no one sees anything wrong with 3 children working in a sawmill – actually, someone does, but has no guts to do anything about it, typical of the “good” adults in these stories. In the end, they of course barely escape per the usual. However, this time, the ending doesn’t have them going off to another relative, it has them going somewhere else entirely, so maybe the next book will have a change in plot. I very much hope so because I really think even most children would be bored with these by now.

three-stars

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Dec 31

2016 End of Year Survey

Books/Writing 12

2016 was my first year of book blogging! I had written reviews here and there before, but in July I really started taking it seriously. So I’m very excited to participate for the first time in the 2016 End of Year Survey hosted by the wonderful Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner!

Note: The survey is for books you read throughout the year, no matter when they were published, and is not limited to just books that came out in 2016!!

Number Of Books You Read: 104 (might make 105 before New Year’s!)
Number of Re-Reads: 4
Genre You Read The Most From: Young Adult/Fantasy

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

I’m cheating and saying the Lunar Chronicles series. I discovered these books in February, and my library just HAPPENED to have all 4 on the shelf at one time. I sped through them in 8 days, 5 of which I worked a 12-hour shift. These books singlehandedly broke me out of a rather horrible book funk.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

City of Glass (Mortal Instruments #3). I loved the first MI book, the second one was ok, and then this one…I had to DNF. I just couldn’t deal with the angsty and stupidity and I’m still bitter about it.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

My Lady Jane. I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it much when I first saw it in my OwlCrate box, but then I started seeing glowing reviews…and then I read it and LOVED it. Somehow they pull off the whole Monty Python infused Lady Jane Grey story and it’s awesome.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Um, I don’t know how many people actually took my book recommendations! I probably recommended Outlander the most, because it’s my favoritest of favorites. 😉 New books though…probably A Court of Mist and Fury (and by necessity, A Court of Thorns and Roses because obviously you have to read the first one to fully appreciate the second).

Nope, not obsessed AT ALL.

Outlander!!

The ACOMAF set came from NerdyGrlDesigns, and the Outlander set from JanesTinyThings.

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Series – Oh gosh. This one is really hard! I started SO MANY series this year! I’m going with one I haven’t finished yet – Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. While it wasn’t in my most read genre of the year, they were ALL fabulous. I haven’t read the latest one yet, but so far my lowest rating has been a 4/5 stars and I don’t see that going down. I sincerely hope not.

Sequel – To a series I started last year, is how I’m taking this question. And for that the prize goes to Gail Carriger’s Imprudence! I adore Gail’s writing and her alternative history/steampunk Victorian London. LOVE.

Series ender – Wow. I, apparently, have a real problem with finishing things. I only finished TWO series this year and I loved both so I can’t choose. Gail Carriger’s Manners and Mutiny (Finishing School #4) and Marissa Meyer’s Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4).

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Traci Chee, author of The Reader! She’s now on auto-buy. 😀

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China – I don’t usually care for memoirs, but I asked in a reading group on FB for recommendations to cure a book hangover, and this did the trick! It was hysterical but also enlightening.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

 

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I’ll probably re-read both ACOTAR and ACOMAF in preparation for the release of ACOWAR. 😀 😀 😀 Speaking of which…OMG MAY HURRY UP!!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

While I only gave the book 3/5 stars, THIS COVER. I love it so much. I love the eye, I love the gold lightening. It’s what really drew me to the book!

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Rhysand. So predictable of me, I know, and the same answer 9,999 other book bloggers are giving. I can’t help it!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

I adored Kate Morton’s The Lake House. It felt as though I fell through the book and into the places she described. While it’s not a face-paced book, I personally LOVED the switching back and forth in time and the gradual unfolding of the mystery. Beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

I’m actually skipping this one…because I read almost entirely FLUFF this year, not going to lie.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

The Bell Jar, by Cynthia Plath. This was so good. I don’t even have words, and probably need to add it to my rereads for 2017 list.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016? 

“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.
I was a survivor, and I was strong.
I would not be weak, or helpless again.
I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”

Feyre, in ACOMAF by Sarah J. Mass.

“There are good days and hard days for me—even now. Don’t let the hard days win.”

Rhysand, in ACOMAF by Sarah J. Mass.

Notice a trend? I think SJM comes up with some of the BEST INSPIRATIONAL LINES EVER.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

My shortest and longest were both by Marissa Meyer! Haha. I crack myself up. But they were The Queen’s Army (which is arguably more of a short story, but whatever, GoodReads), and Winter.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Probably Red Queen. I was really expecting to love it, but I thought it was HORRIBLE. Sorry, Red Queen peeps.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

I don’t read books for the romance. In fact, my cold little jaded heart is usually over the moon when characters DON’T end up HEA…that said, I love Feyre and Rhysand. Love. Adore. Idolize.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Honestly? The Bennet sisters in Eligible, the modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

And I’m back to Gail Carriger’s Imprudence on this one! I really can’t believe she’s not more popular.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

ACOTAR and ACOMAF. I had decided not to read it after seeing a bunch of meh reviews for ACOTAR, but then people started RAVING about how much better the second book was. So I gave it a shot, and, well…you see.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Take a guess.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

The Reader, by Traci Chee!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. This book is set practically IN my hometown and gave me chills.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Love & Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch! Such a fun read. Perfect for summer, in my opinion.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

In the Woods. Yes, really. If you haven’t read it, do. Please. Do yourself this favor.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Er, to be honest…I didn’t read any I would consider HIDDEN. Sadly. I was pretty mainstream and read what the popular kids did this year. Need to work on that.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

ACOMAF. I sat in my chair clutching it to my chest after finishing, just staring into space.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

Hmm. This one is hard, but I think Jackaby by William Ritter. It totally turned the whole Sherlock Holmes thing on its head for me, in a fun way.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

I’m going with Red Queen on this one too. I was so disappointed I was MAD. Really mad.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

Well, this is hard. Really hard. Because there are LOTS of book blogs that I love! AND I discovered almost all of them in 2016. However, I’m going to go with Paper Fury. Cait is so positive and her posts never fail to be entertaining and fun, I just love her! Especially with her referring to characters as cinnamon rolls and pineapples.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

I don’t really have one…

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Don’t really have one of these either…

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Oh oh! I had the MOST FUN with the Halloween Read-a-thon hosted by Lauren over at Wonderless Reviews! SO MUCH FUN. Hopefully next year I’ll get to do some things outside of the virtual world. I’d love to go to some author events.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Well, right now I’m pretty stoked about going over 300 blog subscribers a couple of days ago!! So if you haven’t subscribed, you can do so via WordPress or Bloglovin’. 😀 😀 *points to right-hand sidebar*

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Getting over reading slumps caused by real life. Like November. I barely read at all because I was just so depressed. Sad panda.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Oddly enough, it’s my 2017 Audiobook Challenge sign-up post. Not sure how that happened, but ok!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I really wish it had been one of my reviews that was the most popular. Any review. Hehe. I’ll just keep working on it!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Oh gosh. I’m obsessed with magnetic bookmarks. They’re so teensy, and so collectible, and there’s one for EVERYTHING. See above ACOMAF collection. Hehe.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I was aiming to read at least 50 books this year. Apparently, I underestimated my ability to read in a year that didn’t involve intense personal upheaval. Hehe. 😀

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Well, it would be As I Darken, but now I think I’m going to save it for the May Diverse Books Challenge. We’ll see if I can hold on, since it was under the tree for me this year…

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

 

Elizabeth May’s The Fallen Kingdom (last in the Falconer trilogy) and of course Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Wings and Ruin!

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Stephanie Garber’s Caravel. It sounds amazing and I’m agreeing awaiting my preordered copy!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Oh, well…see above #2!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Reading – I’m in a LOT of challenges for 2017, and I have high hopes of completing most of them. My number goal is 75. It maybe should have been 100, but we’re going to be moving in April/May, back to the States, so I anticipate that will slow me down a lot.

Blogging – I hope to increase my followers to at least 1,000 by the end of the year!  Also, I want to interact with some authors maybe via interviews, etc. I’d like to attend maybe some publishing and or author functions. I really want to increase my contacts with authors and publishers as well as other bloggers! Hopefully the challenges will help to facilitate that. 🙂

Writing – I’m adding one more area here, because I’ve been steadily plugging along on the fantasy novel I plotted during NaNoWriMo, and I want to have the first draft finished by the end of 2017. Totally reachable if I stick to my 2,345 words a week goal!

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Um. Well. The 2017 releases I’ve already read, I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. 😛 Isn’t that sad? But, you know…maybe I’ll get some good ones later on! I do have ARCs of The Fallen Kingdom and The Bone Witch that I’m itching to dive into.

And there we have it! If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations and THANK YOU for sticking with me! Thanks for reading and here’s to a great 2017! Did you post your own 2016 End of Year Survey? If so leave me a link in the comments!

 

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Dec 06

Down the TBR Hole #2

Books/Writing 2

I can already tell this meme is going to become embarrassing. Because of how greedy I am about books. MUST. READ. ALL THE BOOKS! Anyway, here is my next Down the TBR Hole post from the meme by Lia at Lost in a Story!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, I started with 604 books on my list. Last week I pared it down to 603 (SO much progress).
This week I am at 611 books.

frabz-silently-judging-you-61d8a2

I know, I know. Ahem. This week up for the chopping block are books 5-11 of the original list (yes, weird number, explained below)! Covers link to GoodReads.

Title/Author: The Surgeon, by Tess Gerritsen

Date added: September 19, 2012

Thoughts: Actually, I DNFed this book just a few days after adding it, so I’m not sure why it’s still on my TBR other than that I thought I might eventually get back to it. This is the first in the series that started the popular Rizzoli and Isles TV show. I watched a few random episodes of that and decided the book series would be fun too. However, the books have a WAY different vibe and I recall this one scaring the bejesus out of me…which involved looking at every man that walked by me with the side-eye. None of the humor present in the TV show was in the book, so I was not only creeped out but disappointed. Not what I was expecting.

Judgment: Off the TBR and onto the DNF shelf.


Title/Author
: The Third Gate, by Lincoln Child

Date Added: September 30, 2012

Thoughts: Why did I put the 3rd book of a series I haven’t even started on my list? I never do that…I always start with the first book. Always. So, even though this sounds intriguing, I haven’t read anything else by this author and even though I know he’s pretty popular, I don’t see many reviews of his work by people I follow.

Judgment: Let it go.

 

Title/Author: Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1), by Kevin Hearne

Date added: November 6, 2012

Thoughts: This still sounds like a scrumptious, borderline on guilty pleasure read. Sexy tattooed Irish guy and angry Celtic gods? Sign me up, please! Kind of like grown-up Percy Jackson stuff. I’m not sure why I still haven’t read it, especially since it’s a series of decent length now!

Judgment: Keep! Also try to obtain in the near future. Hmm.

 

Title/Author: She-Wolves: the Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, by Helen Castor

Date added: November 6, 2012

Thoughts: This sounds fascinating. I love history and Queen Elizabeth is such a stand-out character, she seems so far beyond her time. However…my attention span is somewhat limited, and I don’t usually have protracted amounts of time in which to read. Particularly 480 pages of non-fiction, no matter how fascinating.

Judgment: Let it go, but remember the title.

 


Title/Author
: Crucible of Gold (Temeraire #7), by Naomi Novik

Date added: February 14, 2013

Thoughts: *cue flailing* This is one of my favorite series, and I haven’t finished the last 3 books! When I added this the 9th one had yet to be published, but they’re all done now so I could potentially binge read. *evil grin*

Judgment: KEEP!

 


Title/Author
: Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire #8), by Naomi Novik

Date added: February 14, 2013

Thoughts: Ditto above.

Judgment: KEEP!

 

 

Phew! Well, that was a lot more progress than last week. I removed 3 books – I’m so proud of myself! Hehe. 611 to 608…now if I could just refrain from adding so many…but we all know that probably won’t happen. 😛

I’m really curious now: how many books are on your TBR list (not your physical pile, but a list either on GoodReads or elsewhere)? Am I the only one with such a monstrous one?

 

 

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Dec 01

Top Ten Tuesday #7: Best Non-Book Holiday Gifts for Readers

Books/Writing, Life 2

Even though I’m late (again), I couldn’t resist this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the lovely The Broke and the Bookish as usual! I’m going with my top 5 NON-BOOK gifts for readers. Why not books? Because I’m sure every reader out there has handed their family or significant other a list of books, or an Amazon wishlist, or hell, even has a standing list at their local bookstore. That part is easy. Books are almost always welcome. Unless you’re some relatives-that-shall-not-be-named of mine, that use the holidays + my love of books combination to shove off their religious crap on me…but I digress. Everyone who loves a bibliophile knows to get books. This list is for all those other things that make a bookworm’s life so much more fun!

  • Bookshelves! Every bibliophile I know is constantly running out of space. Handmade would be amazing, but store-bought is also appreciated. Just to jumpstart your creativity though, here is an amazing compilation of DIY bookshelf plans. My lovely husband has promised to make me matching bookshelves when we move back to the States, by the way. *all the heart-eyes*
  • A reading lamp. Know your reader – do they read on the couch or at a desk? In bed? I have yet to own a reading lamp but I covet them…especially the Tiffany ones. I’m also almost as attached to my chair as Sheldon to his spot, so I would loooooove to have a lamp all my own.
  • An e-reader cover. Chances are your reader already has their device of choice (but if not, RUN, don’t walk, to Amazon or B&N to get them one), so I’m suggesting a special cover. I love finding different, unusual covers so that I don’t have to use the widely mass-produced one from the big box stores, and I am IN LOVE with Oberon’s covers (ok, pretty much everything they make, but especially the e-reader covers). They make covers for just about every device out there, even my ancient Nook Simple.

    This is their

    This is their “Camelot” cover.

  • Literary art – you do know their favorite books, right? Society6, Redbubble, and Etsy all have some amazing artists who create bookish art. Definitely worth checking out. One of my favorites is Charlie Bowater with her portrayals of my loves of the Night Court (aka, Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series), but the possibilities are endless.

    Another favorite based on subject matter alone – Eowyn from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of my top 3 favorite female literary characters. I love her so much, I feel like she has to be my sister from another mother. This lovely print is from Heather Spriggs on Society6.
  • Bookish stuff. Now I know that sounds horribly, horribly vague. BUT. There’s so much fun, pretty, quirky, useful bookish merch on the market right now, and it all makes for perfect gifts!  Totes, pouches, phone covers, mugs, candles. I love it all and chances are your bookworm will too. 😉 Like this awesome – and useful for EVERYTHING – set of pouches from Evie Seo’s store on Society6. I love pretty much all of Evie’s designs. She is AMAZING on so many levels.

    There’s also all kinds of book-themed jewelry. I might – cough – happen to know that this particular set of Outlander-inspired earrings is under the tree for me and I am DYING to wear them. Made by the lovely KLF Studio on Etsy.

So if you’re a bookworm, be sure the pass along a few of these gift ideas to your loved ones besides books…and if you’re a non-bookish person that loves a bibliophile, try one of these (or three). They’re sure to be a hit!

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Nov 29

Down the TBR Hole #1

Books/Writing 8

I’ve found a new meme that I’m SUPER excited about! My TBR list is ginormous and out of control. As of right now I have 604 books on it.

Yes, I know. But anyway. This is a new meme (on its 3rd week) hosted by Lia at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, you’re Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

So here we go! I’m hoping to get through my entire list…at…some…point. Who knows how long that will take though, haha. This week I’m on books 1-5!

Title/Author: The Dark Unwinding, by Sharon Cameron

Date Added: September 18, 2012 – 4 years ago! Phew!

Thoughts: This still sounds interesting to me…I added it when I was looking for some more steampunk reads after finishing Gail Carriger’s Soulless. In fact just a few weeks ago I had the idea of starting with some of my older TBR books, and I bought the ebook. I really should read it…I feel like the sense of accomplishment would be HUGE.

Judgment: Keep.

 

 

Title/Author: The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

Date Added: September 18, 2012

Thoughts: I absolutely LOVE the idea of this series, which is “a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously.” However, I haven’t read Jane Eyre (DNFed it years ago…need to give it another shot), so I feel like I can’t read it and appreciate it until I do.

Judgment: Keep.

Title/Author: The Witching Hour, by Anne Rice

Date Added: September 18, 2012

Thoughts: I haven’t read anything by the famous Anne Rice, and this is one of the few books of hers that has attracted my attention. At some point I still want to read it, but it’s not very high on my list right now.

Judgment: Keep (I think I have trouble letting go).

 

 

Title/Author: The White Forest, by Adam McOmber

Date Added: September 18, 2012

Thoughts: While this still sounds somewhat interesting, it also sounds somewhat boring and meh to me now. I seriously doubt I will ever get around to reading this.

Judgment: Let it go, let it go…

 

 

 

Title/Author: A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness

Date Added: September 18, 2012

Thoughts: Aaaaahh! This is one of those that I keep meaning to read, and every other month or so I think I will start it – I have the ebook, even – and then I never do. It’s just so big, it reminds me of Outlander.

Judgment: Keep

 

 

 

Well, look at that, I’m down one already! Now that’s what’s up. Even if it makes me a teensy bit sad to “get rid of” books. Hehe.

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Oct 23

Stacking the Shelves #1

Books/Writing 3

I’ve decided to participate in my very first Stacking the Shelves meme, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews! I haven’t finished any other books this week (had a DNF that kind of took the wind out of my sails) but I have some AMAZING new ones sitting on my nightstand. Why nightstand instead of shelf? Because that’s where I keep all my library books, so that they taunt me daily and remind me to READ THEM FIRST. Yes, I swear they actually talk to me, in low little guilt-inducing whispers.

img_4005

My local library is tiny. It has a notoriously bad selection. However, every now and then, they get a brief loan of books from some other library (the location of which no one seems to be able to tell me…I’ve resigned myself to believing it’s in the sky somewhere and just randomly showers down books). I walked in on Monday and found – lo and behold – some of the very books I’ve been DYING to read! I was so excited!! I might have done a little happy dance right there. Which, by the way, earned me a few looks, because not even the librarian here seems to actually love books or understand the love of reading. I tried to talk to him one day. It was most depressing. He was shocked that I’d been reading since the age of 4 and wasn’t tired of it yet. :thinking: Like how do you get to be a LIBRARIAN, of all things, and not understand that?? ANYwho…here’s my haul!

 

 

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelley – Sara at Freadom Reads actually turned my attention to this book about a week ago with her review of the entire series. I was intrigued based on that alone, and then I realized the author also wrote an adult series I’ve been wanting to read. I was SHOCKED when I saw the first one sitting on the library shelf, so naturally I had to grab it.

 

 

 

The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan – I’ve wanted a copy of this ever since it came out! But my attempt at a book buying ban (I’d still like to point out I made it a solid SIX MONTHS) foiled that, and since then I’ve been too preoccupied with so many other books…but then I saw the second one on the shelf at our store the other day and it nearly killed me! So I’m super excited to finally get to read this one.

 

 

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – There has been so much hype about this one, I feel like I don’t even need to explain it. Especially since the sequel/final book just came out. I have to know what everyone is on about, basically. And see if I love Kaz as much as everyone else seems to…see, I don’t have the faintest idea who Kaz is other than he’s everyone’s new book boyfriend.

 

 

 

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard – Again with the hype. SO MUCH HYPE. I swear everyone on my GoodReads friends list has either read this book or has it on their to-read list. But the reviews are actually a little wishy-washy, so naturally I want to see for myself.

 

 

 

That’s it for this week, folks! I don’t know how often I’ll participate in this meme (since I am, actually, trying to limit my book acquisition…but there’s always the library!) but it was fun. 😀 Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

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Oct 21

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 12 ★★★★

Book Review: Stalking Jack the RipperStalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1) by Kerri Maniscalco
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 20th 2016
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Goodreads four-stars

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

costume-party

This was my Creepy Cover pick for the Halloween Read-a-thon (hosted by the lovely Lauren at Wonderless Reviews)! So far, out of three Halloween reads, it’s been my favorite. 🙂

First of all, look at that gorgeous cover! I could practically reach out and touch the silk of that dress. Also I swear I see blood on the knife, every time I see it out of the corner of my eye. But when I look at it closely, of course there’s nothing there. And that, my friends, is why this was my Creepy Cover. Because no matter how many times I look at it…I see that blood (it’s probably the combination of the lip color with the knife when I just glance at it…but still). Oh, and inside at many of the chapter beginnings, there are these AWESOME old creepy pictures.

Like this.

Like this. Courtesy Wikipedia.

I’m fascinated by unsolved true crime. Yes, I am one of those people. At the same time, I like keeping a semi-safe distance between me and the crime. Hence, Jack the Ripper fits the bill because he’s obviously dead by now. Phew. All the same, this book raised the hairs on the back of my neck. While simultaneously causing me to tear up in the final chapter. Like what IS this mix of emotions, even?!?

Audrey is a scientifically minded young woman with a backbone of steel. She is fascinated with the human body and despite the VERY suspicious appearances, studies under her uncle, a professor with an unsettling obsession with the dead (now we call it forensic science). I love the way she flaunts society while at the same time enjoying what fashions suit her own fancy. Of course, this also involves disobeying her extremely protective father, who honestly comes across as rather unhinged after the passing of her mother. She still cares deeply for him, despite her constant frustrations with the limitations forced on her. Audrey’s brother, Nathaniel, is another sympathetic character. He deals with the loss of their mother much differently, seeming to have picked up and moved on as a sadder, melancholy person concerned only with his family and holding them together. Her motivation for studying science above and beyond what’s considered proper really resonated with me:

It was then that I knew I’d rely on something more tangible than holy spirits. Science never abandoned me the way religion had that night…God no longer held dominion over my soul.

Yessssss. I’ll join you in hell, dear sister.

Ahem. Moving on. *insert “Fight Song” playing in the background*

Then there is Thomas, the quirky, socially awkward student with the face of an angel and tongue of a viper. He’s annoying in an endearing sort of way. Every time I was about to be all, “Awwwww,” he would make some other caustic remark that made me want to slap him. Like for real slap, not pretend slap. He gets better and we get inside his crusty exterior more and more as the story goes on, though, and by the end I was feeling very charitable towards him, indeed. In the way one feel charitable to a naughty but adorable puppy.

Yep. Like that.

The hunt for the serial killer (a term not yet coined) Jack the Ripper – first called Leather Apron by the press (look at me, learning things!) keeps the plot moving along briskly. The attention to historical detail in this book is AWESOME, even if there were a few liberties taken that made me roll my eyes. Like at one point Audrey’s cousin says women should be able to wear a certain type of clothing to “go to work.” Um…wealthy women in the 1880s most definitely did not “go to work.” Just saying. I understand Audrey is something of a revolutionary, but to maintain believability I think a couple things like that should have been edited out. I do love the way she comes into her own through the story, and THAT part is handled exceptionally well.

“This who deserve respect are given it freely. If one must demand such a thing, he’ll never truly command it. I am your daughter, not your horse, sir.”

The creep factor is amazing. At first I thought it was going to be relatively tame (flaying bodies open and lots of blood really don’t bother me, ummm…sorry?), but the psychological aspect of it really starting affecting me about a third of the way in and I couldn’t put it down at all! I started it in bed one night…and quickly decided to finish the rest in broad daylight. 😛 I was by turns fascinated, horrified, and at the last just so very sad. The foreshadowing was incredible – which means it was so skillfully done that I was completing flailing in chapter before the reveal and while I felt completely broadsided, immediately saw the clues I’d missed.

My biggest issue with the book is actually the romance. Thankfully, it’s more of a sub-plot, but I think the whole thing would have been better by just hinting at possibilities to come instead of anything actually happening. In the first several chapters it’s WAY too distracting and it really seems out of place for Aubrey’s character. Contrary to popular opinion, it seems, I think you can have a very successfully told YA story without having any romance at all. Sometimes “just-friends” friendships are the strongest ones we have.

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars.

Monsters were supposed to be scary and ugly. They weren’t supposed to hide behind friendly smiles and well-trimmed hair. Goodness, twisted as it might be, was not meant to be locked away in an icy heart and anxious exterior. Grief was not supposed to hide guilt of wrongdoing.

 

four-stars

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Oct 11

Book Review: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 4 ★★★½

This cover is horrible. Seriously, when I saw it, I thought the book was published in the 80s. WHAT WAS YOUR GRAPHIC ARTIST THINKING, YO.

This cover is horrible. Seriously, when I saw it, I thought the book was published in the 80s. WHAT WAS YOUR GRAPHIC ARTIST THINKING, YO.

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

This book was recommended to me by one of my oh-so-awesome penpals (no, WordPress, I do NOT mean pencils…as I’ve spent 5 minutes trying to give a cease and desist letter to your autocorrect)! I’ve been on a real fantasy kick lately and she provided some spot-on recs…like Sabriel.

I was instantly doubtful of The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. However, I am happy to report that the actual reading improved the impression I had drawn based on the cover (gag) and title (odd). Overall I’m giving it 3.5 stars…I am leaning towards 4, but…the sheer length of it is taking a half star off for me. I don’t mind longer books, as I read faster than average…but honestly this one could have been edited a little better, starting with less scenes of boring medieval castle chores. The writing itself is of excellent quality, I have no complaints whatsoever! Emily Barker has created a colorful world peopled with interesting characters. I finished it in about 3 days, despite the staggering 570 pages!

I’m a sucker for any books that have to do with books or bookish people, and Nora’s grad school/literary critic/teacher occupation intrigued me. Her personal life woes in the beginning are oh-so-very first world, but thankfully we don’t spend much time with that before she goes wandering and plunges headlong into the other world. The first, oh, about 60 pages…I felt like I was drunk and wandering around trying to figure out what was going on. At first I was extremely annoyed and though I wouldn’t be able to finish the book, but then as I kept going I realized that the feeling was intentional, to make us feel how Nora feels when she first enters the alternate world. Well done indeed. Maybe keep it to 40 pages next time though. 😉

The world she enters has a deep history and so many interesting characters – most of which are MUCH more interesting than Nora herself. There are stories within stories – both in the form of sub-plots, and actual stories characters are telling. I loved that part. I absolutely despised Aruendiel until the last 100 pages or so, but his story was just so DAMN INTERESTING I had to keep reading. So much intrigue – and so much innuendo and crimes hinted at but not fully explained. Which, I suppose, is quite in keeping with the medieval type society depicted. Oh…don’t even get me STARTED on all the patriarchal nonsense that Nora has to put up with. I did really like that she was constantly resisting all that malarky, even when it was shoved on her day in and day out.

The overarching conflict was very long in coming to its conclusion (see comments on editing). I could have done with a few more fight scenes. If the tempo of the last 200 pages had been over the majority of the book, it would have definitely been 4 solid stars. Emily Barker has, thankfully, avoided the dreaded tropes of either a love triangle or a special snowflake. Nora is underwhelmingly average, as she is frequently reminded. I can really appreciate that after so many books lately just chock-full of ALL THE SPECIALNESS.

Just when I thought the ending was resolving itself…oh, haha, nope just kidding! We’re left hanging by a thread and while part of the conflict was resolved we never find out what happens to some of the main characters. *flail* This is so unfair! Especially since there is no hard and fast date for a sequel. *cries* I. Must. Know. I actually checked my book to make sure no one had torn out the last chapter (I had a library copy). Nope. Just a massive cliffhanger. I will definitely be looking at for the next one, even if from the sounds of the author comments on GoodReads, it might be a long time in coming.

three-half-stars

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