Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Top Ten Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

1. Vicious by V. E. Schwab: I did actually start this once but I never had time to finish it... I'll probably give it another go at some point soon.

2. The Poison Eaters by Holly Black: I've been on a Holly Black kick recently and this sounds appealing so at some point I'll probably try to find a copy.

3. The Unfinished Tales by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien: next on the Tolkien reading list, I think. That or The Fall of Gondolin because I really like Gondolin and also Idril.

4. Lament by Maggie Stiefvater: I don't know if I'll read this once or not, I know that the story is in a perpetually unfinished duology and that might not be a satisfying read.

5. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel: Frankenstien retelling from before Frankenstien retellings were cool. (Or at least. This is the first one that I heard about.)

6. Now I Rise by Kiersten White: I know, I know. I thought I was putting it off until Bright We Burn came out, but now it's out and I have no excuse.

7. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab: I know what happens (because I spoiled myself like the wise person I am) and it's easier to be in denial without reading the book. I may pick it up at some point.

8. House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones: I'm really excited to get back into this world. I think I might re-read Howl's Moving Castle again first just because I REALLY like Howl's Moving Castle.

9. Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers: Recently out in Canada. I shelved this at the library where I worked and... didn't borrow it because things were so busy.

10. Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff: look I'm always sold on androids and AIs and robots and space. I'm a simple person with simple tastes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

1. The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee: Gentleman's Guide was one of my favourite reads last year and Felicity was a really important character to me.

2. West by Edith Pattou: East has a sequel coming out! Rose and her chronically-in-need-of-rescue husband return!

3. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor: Strange the Dreamer was really lovely and talk about a cliffhanger!

4. Chainbreaker by Tara Sim: I keep forgetting to get around to this one, so I figured I'd put it here in hopes that I will remember to read it.

5. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal: I was super excited about this, and then I bought it, and now it is just hanging out on my shelf.

6. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elise Chapman: I still haven't read this! I borrowed if from the library but had to return it before picking it up.

7. Jade City by Fonda Lee: I've seen this around a bit and it sounds really interesting!

8. The Alchemists of the Loom by Elise Kova: Okay this is 90% because the cover is pretty and the concept is cool. Also the audiobooks is available from my library.


10. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang: Another library book that had to be returned before I read it. It's becoming a bad habit with me...

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Top Ten Hidden Gems

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Disclaimer: I don't actually know how hidden these are but I do want people to come talk to me about them. It's possible I was just going through one of my "living under a rock" phases (they happen periodically) when these were being hyped.

1. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel: Okay I know this one is hyped in Canada and is also a decade old but. I WANT EVERYONE TO READ IT. Kenneth Oppel has a talent for crafting flawed characters who you still root for and also. This is the best integration of a steampunk-y concept into a story that I've personally read. It doesn't feel forced at all. It's part of a trilogy and also it's on Book Outlet (in the nice cover! This book has gone through a series of... less than ideal covers but this 10th anniversary cover is stunning.)

2. Dark Life by Kat Falls: Underwater society in a post-extreme sea level rise world! I just really enjoy this for a lot of reasons. It's a climate-change sci fi that isn't completely bleak, it's an adventure that really feels like an adventure, and the world feels unique. 

3. The Alchemyst by Michael Scott: Well. Technically this whole series. In a way one of the most bizarre concepts I've read, and definitely one of the most gigantic casts. Stunning covers! Alchemy! Scented magic! Time travel! Joan of Arc! There's a lot going on in these.

4. East be Edith Pattou: just the familiar story of a girl going to rescue her husband (who is a bear) (long story) from an evil queen. (Not seriously it's a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon which is a Scandinavian folktale. It's like Beauty and the Beast but better. And almost nothing like that. This has troll queens and dangerous journeys and magical boots.) AND IT'S GETTING A SEQUEL, because sometimes when you're an intrepid folktale heroine, your weird folktale husband just can't stay out of trouble. I've posted the old cover here but the repackaging is lovely too. 

5. The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer: This one isn't so much underrated as... lesser known? While Artemis Fowl definitely takes the cake for my favourite work from this author, I really liked The Supernaturalist as well. (Where is my sequel?)

6. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine: More the later books than this one but. Let's start with the beginning of the series.

7. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: post-climate wars world being held hostage by an AI with a strange and terrible sense of humour and the nuclear codes.

8. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse: This is a recent release that I read and really enjoyed, and I'd love the hear about more people reading it!

9. In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: Halfway between portal fantasy and portal fantasy parody this one plays with genres. And has a grumpy pacifist main character. It's great.

10. A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee: I feel like there are always a lot of Canadian authors on my hidden gems lists. I guess I just really like Canadian authors? 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Series Review: Modern Faerie Tales

Tithe by Holly Black
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

This one I partly picked up because a few of the characters make a cameo in The Cruel Prince and it reminded me that I still hadn't read it... Overall it is very much what is says on the package, very much a faerie tale feeling. Holly Black's writing has definitely gotten more nuanced since this one came out. It was nice to get more background on the world (which this book does provide, along with Ironside). Reading through all of Holly Black's stuff really does give the impression that her faerie world is either constantly in a state of chaos or undergoing a period of VERY EXTREME chaos for the past couple decades...

I think the main function of this book for me was to give me more of a foundation in Holly Black's fae world, but I did also enjoy it on it's own merit although it wasn't quite as nuanced as her more recent books.

Valiant by Holly Black
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

This one was definitely my least favourite of the Modern Faerie Tales companion novels, less due to any sort of writing flaw than simply because the content was much less up my alley than the other two. (Some of it is, in fact, content that I generally tend to avoid with my personal reading, just because I don't really find them to be terribly edifying topics... but anyway.)

The real strength of this one was seeing the urban fae taken to the next level, and also establishes more of the world and the nature of the fae. (Including half-fae, and how the exiled fae survive (or don't) in the big city.)

Ironside by Holly Black
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

This was my favourite of the three! This one was definitely in terms of plot. It also felt like the characters were more settled, which also made the story more enjoyable. Ironside brings together the casts of Tithe and Valiant (definitely more strongly focused on the cast of Tithe, which I found more compelling overall, so that worked out okay for me).

The plot itself was more complex and engaging, and this book was all the more enjoyable for it. I've overall quite enjoyed reading these three books (if only in part so I could read Ironside and fully understand what was going on, in the case of Valiant... not that Valiant was necessarily bad, just not as much my thing as the other two books). It was interesting to see what had stayed the same and what had developed in Holly Black's writing style, and I think it'll be useful for continuing with Folk of the Air

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Top Ten Rereads I Revert to When in a Reading Slump

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

In a way, I have never really been in a reading slump, but in another way, I am usually in a reading slump. Because I reread CONSTANTLY. Not always the whole book but at least part of it.

1. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: I don't usually reread ALL of the series but. Bits and pieces.

2. The Matt Cruse trilogy by Kenneth Oppel: These are kind of comfort reads to me, and are naturally something I fall back on when I'm not really in a particular reading mood.

3. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black: as of now it's a standalone and it's wonderfully compelling, so it's a good between-new-books read.

4. Fire by Kristen Cashore: Graceling may have been a formative experience but Fire is a read I fall back on a lot. Currently a friend has my copy and I'm a little bit bereft.

5. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: This current moment is one of the first times since reading the book for the first time that I'm not in the process of a reread.

6. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater: specifically the audiobook of The Raven Boys, which I actually own a copy of, rendering it one of my fall-back audiobooks

7. In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: I keep catching myself pulling this one off the shelf just whenever.

8. The Winner's trilogy by Marie Rutkoski: Okay so I don't generally pick up The Winner's Crime because the FRUSTRATION IS REAL but still. (It isn't that I neccesarily think Crime is a bad book it's just... it is intended to be frustrating, I think, and it succeeds.)

9. Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo: if I am ready to get TOTALLY PULLED IN to a reread, I'll pick these up because I know I'll wind up accidentally rereading the whole duology.

10. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: another one that I just find myself picking up and skimming from time to time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Top Ten Favorite Book Blogs

Wow when you aren't around for a year... the landscape changes. Someone's moved the street signs around and there's a new subdivision and that duck nest wasn't there before, was it?

I hadn't realised exactly how many of my favourite blogs weren't active anymore until I was doing this post. I'm going to limit myself to blogs that have been active in the past 4 months but besides that... no rules. Here are a random selection of some of the blogs whose posts I'm always excited to see on my feed:

1. Happy Indulgence: This was one of the first blogs I ever remember following and they've just had such consistently great content over the years.

2. Readers in Wonderland: Isn't really active anymore but I really liked the content they posted when they still were! I like the way they formatted their reviews...

3. Paper Fury: There's so much I admire about this blog and it's blogger! It's such a vivid experience, both visually and to read. I've also really enjoyed reading the discussions about writing (I need all of the inspiration I can get in that department and Cait manages to be funny, and frank, and motivating all at once.)

4. Alexa Loves Books: She has SO MANY creative features that I really like seeing! I especially like Tunes & Tales (both the original version and version 2.0).

5. The Book Wars: The discussions they have on this blog are lovely... and also they're a Canadian blog and I am basically patriotic in two situations: when following bloggers, and when watching figure skating competitions. (Actually that's kind of a lie since over half of my favourite skaters are not Canadian and half of the ones that are have just retired from competition BUT ANYWAY.)

6. The Book Smugglers: Part book blog, part publishing team, all fantastic. I really admire what they're doing here. They're an old favourite of mine that I've recently rediscovered so there's a lot to catch up on.

7. That Artsy Reader Girl: I kind of had to put the superhero who hosts TTT on here, didn't I? Although really, it isn't just that. This was also one of the earliest blogs I remember following and I've consistently really enjoy her content.

8. A Kernel of Nonsense: A new-ish-to-me blog that I've found my way to only since I started blogging again.

9. Tor/Forge Blog: I just... really like Tor a lot? It's a whole thing. Similar to The Book Smugglers in that publishing is part of the MO but also in that I really like both how they approach said publishing and also their not-strictly-publishing content.

10. Drizzle and Hurricane Books: Also a pretty new to me blog! The discussion posts are something I'm especially enjoying.

Okay this is your cue to suggest more blogs for me! 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Review: Foolish Hearts

Title: Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: December 5, 2017
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

After accidentally witnessing the resident the breakup of the It couple of her elite all-girls school Claudia isn't expecting senior year to be a breeze. She's now on the wrong side of the meanest girl in school, and they're both being forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Unexpectedly, her involvement in the play leads to new friendships, a boy band obsession, and possibly a new romance; as everything begins to change around her.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: a great coming-of-age story with a strong focus on friendship and finding things that interest and delight you.

Review: I think Emma Mills has superpowers. She's able to make some of the most resonant, real-feeling realistic fiction I've picked up in the past few years. I'm not much of a realistic fiction reader because I haven't encountered much that feels really familiar. (Ironically this isn't a problem I tend to have with speculative fiction but I have... no idea why that is).

Foolish Hearts is a quick read, and overall pretty light (which was welcome, coming off of reading the entire Harry Potter series in a week). It's a really nice story about being passionate about things, and about figuring out how to be invested in things and just... it's just nice, I guess? There's a lot of emphasis on relationships, old and new, or all kinds.

Arguably the new relationship that forms a backbone of the story is Claudia's friendship with Violet- it's more a story about falling in friendship than one falling in love- which is often the main plot of these kinds of contemporary stories... not necessarily a bad thing but seeing a friendship be the focus is always refreshing. It isn't just the relationships but how Emma Mills constructs them, in a way that feels really organic, which is kind of an extension of how she creates characters (similarly organic).

The relationships in this book shift and change over the course of the story, which are both shape and are shaped by the changes in the characters themselves. These are very evident in Claudia's relationships with her friends and family, but also Iris (particularly the friendship between the two of them, but also Iris's relationship with her (ex)-girlfriend). The romances in the story have a very strong friendship component as well, which is always wonderful to see (because you know. You should  be friends with the person you're dating. Otherwise why bother?) Emma Mills starts with some reasonably familiar character archetypes, and breathes new life into them, partly by adding character traits and partly by changing the interactions between the characters, and it winds up working really well. The result is a quiet, personal, and engaging story.

Also having read all three of Emma Mills's books I wonder if she like... knew at least one extremely charismatic person when in high school? Because there's always at least one in each book. I could be totally wrong maybe it's just a thing with her writing but... wondering if it comes from somewhere? Anyway. Not the point. Well, maybe a side-point, but not the main point.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one! Emma Mills writes what I guess are my favourite contemporary coming of age stories. I really like the way she builds friendships and the details of character's lives. I'm looking forward to whatever she puts out next!

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