Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The First Half of 2016

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature created at The Broke and The Bookish.



1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater: Because obviously.

2. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski: I've been waiting on that cliffhanger for a year!

3. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: This debut has a pretty amazing premise.

4. The Forbidden Orchid by Sarah Biggs Waller: This has been on my list since I read A Mad, Wicked Folly.

5. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins: Because monsters. Also, I like the colour pallet of the cover



6. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken: Time travel and the high seas!

7. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig: Also time travel and the high seas! (Seriously these two seem to have a lot of shared elements in their premises, and I'm looking forward to see how they differ/ are similar.)

8. Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan: After how much I enjoyed Unspoken, I'm looking forward to revisiting her writing.

9. A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood: Featuring a lot of my favourite authors, I've had my eye on this collection since is was Petticoats and Pistols.

10.  Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton: Mostly because desert.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Up and Down December

I generally REALLY like book blogging. Its something that I just keep coming back to. Though Wandering Through Books is my first book blog, it is not my first time blogging about books. They're a big part of my life, and something I really love talking about. But recently, I've been having some really mixed feelings toward book blogging.

Its like I'm either "IDEAS! EVERYWHERE! Must begin writing twelve posts ASAP!" or "you know what I'm just going to delete this thing and forget about it," and I'm not really sure why that is. Its like my blogging slumps are just super concentrated into phases of intense apathy. And right now, I'm in the apathy phase. Not toward everything, just toward book blogging. Like, I love books. They still excite me. But I'm just really meh toward blogging about them right now.

It kind of feels like I'm... stagnating? Going through the motions? And that's been really frustrating for me. I want this to be fun, dammit! But instead I've just got this pervasive feeling like I'm not really doing anything, which just hasn't gone away.

This is just a long way of saying that I'm sorry I'm not posting more, but inspiration has been a little thin on the ground. (And also sorry for the whining. Also that.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top Ten Books I'd Love as a Gift

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature created at The Broke and The Bookish.



1. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

2. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

3. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

4.  Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke

5. The Next Together by Lauren James


6. Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

7. East by Edith Pattou

8. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

9. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

10. The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Year In Disappointments

This month is, in general, going to be a celebration of my favourites, and I'm really excited to be doing it, but I need to get this off my chest first. This post is going to be the books that just totally let me down this year (there had to be a few...). And some musings on why.

Mortal Danger

I was really not impressed with this book. I think the main reason was that I walked away going "But? That is not how mental illness works?" And I couldn't get past it... it might seem like a little thing, but, at the same time, it wasn't. Because suicide is a serious thing. Like, dead serious. And recovery from something like that is a process, not just something you switch off. Being suicidal is not just a plot point, it's a symptom of much bigger mental health concerns.

Part of it might have been that I didn't totally know what I was signing up for when I started this one. I didn't realise that our main character was going to be suicidal at the beginning. In general, I tend not to read books that have suicide as an element, just as a matter of personal preference. So this was part "I didn't know we were talking about suicide" and part "but if we were going to go there, this isn't how to do it."


The Sin Eater's Daughter

The good parts of this book began and ended with the cover. Seriously. The cover's beautiful, the title is amazing, and then everything just kind of flops.

I did review this one, but it mostly makes this list because I was so hoping I would like it, and I really didn't. It turned out to be contrived, flat, and the relationships actually kind of disgusted me in how the main character was treated. While I often find love triangles kind of annoying, this one was toxic. The main character's feelings are consistently ignored by both boys, they manipulate her, and generally treat her pretty terribly, and yet I was supposed to find it romantic?




Winterspell

Again, I did review this. My lack of being impressed was, like with The Sin Eater's Daughter, at least in part due to fact that I found all of the romance to be deeply, deeply creepy. Like, weird and abusive and controlling kind of creepy. Maybe I missed something, but I just didn't find any of how either of the romantic interests treated Clara to be romantic. The story was all over the place, and the writing just didn't work for me. The colour scheme of the cover is quite lovely, but the book didn't live up to it for me.



Brokenhearted

A. K. A. How did this book survive the editorial process in the form I read it in? This was another one where I was confused by the lack of attention to how medicine actually works. You are not on your feet within hours after a heart transplant, much less an experimental procedure involving a completely artificial organ. If you want me to buy something like that, you have to give me some sort of reasoning. This book completely lacked reason. Her elevated heart rate somehow made her able to fly because hummingbirds also have rapid heart rates? That makes absolutely no sense. The rest of the story was just lackluster and poor storytelling. Love the cover, though.




Forbidden

My review for this one is reasonably recent. I was just incredibly unimpressed by this novel. It promised a vivid portrayal of a fascinating and complex culture, and it utterly failed to deliver. The romance was best described as bland, and the story itself lacked flow.

It felt like the idea for a novel, all sketched out before the author did any research on what she was writing about. The characters were one dimensional, the setting and culture were simplified to the point where they approached non-existence, and the message of the story overall didn't work for me. I had a hard time getting through this one, and I really doubt I'll be reading the sequel.


So that was my year in books that just didn't work for me. Really, given the number of books that I've read this year, it isn't a bad turnaround. Obviously, if would be fantastic if we all loved every book we read, but there are always going to be ones that just don't work for every reader.

Onward to 2016!



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature created at The Broke and The Bookish.


1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: I LOVED this book. I had to take time off before writing my review because otherwise it would just been loud flailing.

2. Magonia by  Maria Dahvanna Headley: This is such a beautiful, strange little book, and I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel.

3. The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Her books read like a fast-paced television show, and I really enjoyed reading this one.

4. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black: Faeries and a creepy little town are two things that really delight me. I love the feel of this book so much.

5. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Heist stories! Criminal masterminds! Magic! Moral ambiguity!



6. The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski: This one raised the tension and the stakes, ending on a cliffhanger, and I'm really looking forward to reading the finale next year.

7. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow: Despite the bumps around the way, I really enjoyed the premise of it.

8. The Nest by Kenneth Oppel: This was such a unique read, especially in its protagonist.

9. The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi: I didn't read Spiderwick when I was a child, but I really enjoyed reading it this year.

10. The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien: I was surprised by how much a enjoyed this one. It was interesting to explore storytelling.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Cover Change: The Winner's Curse

Here we go again...

So earlier today, the news dropped that The Winner's Curse is getting a cover change. I'm not generally opposed to cover changes as a concept except where they:

1) Happen in the middle of a series, therefore ensuring that my books will NEVER MATCH

2) Take a pretty cover and make it less so.

The change to The Winners Curse did not just one, but both. Let's examine:

Original: The best of the girls in dresses covers I've seen. There was a bit of a change in the typography between the first book and the following ones, but the theme is clearly consistent. (Curse is my favourite typography-wise.)

These are covers that make Kestrel looks strong, without making her look like she's planning on going out and physically fighting someone, and they make her look calculating. It accentuates that there is both combat (the weaponry) and court/ political drama (the dresses, Kestrel's overall appearance).
New: The original is just so much better than what they've done now. The new covers are honestly kind of silly looking? They look like a bunch of stock photos arbitrarily forced together. Why is the sky pink in the first one? They make these books look like something that they just aren't. These are stock YA high fantasy covers that you slap on a high fantasy with an assassin or something as the heroine, and magic figuring in. Which can be totally great, but that isn't The Winner's Curse.

These are not covers for a book like 
The Winner's Curse. Suddenly they have these stupid by-line things? You can's even really see the "The" on The Winner's Kiss. The worst part? They make Kestrel into someone she isn't, attempting to replace her brand of mental combat with some sort of stock variety "girl who fights things with knives." Also, Winner's Kiss cover? That is not how people look after they've been enslaved in a mine, nor even how they look after fighting their way out, if that's what you're going for.
To me, the new covers seem like a transparent attempt to appeal to a different audience. What I don't understand is why you would try to make this fantastic trilogy look like something it isn't. It seems like its more likely to disappoint readers who are drawn in by the cover, expecting a certain kind of story with a certain kind of lead. I love Kestrel, but she is primarily cerebral, and is less gifted with weapons. Her thing is cleverness and manipulation, not stabbing. This also ins't a world with magic in it, so I'm not sure about the random glow-y bits showing up randomly. So I'm a bit weirded out from a branding standpoint. If anyone in marketing understands why this happened, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Will I still buy and read the books? Yes. I'm not going to punish the author and myself to make a point that the publisher isn't going to get anyway. Am I unimpressed and a little confused? Definitely.

Audiobook Review: Salt and Storm

Title: Salt and Storm
Author: Kendall Kulper
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Series: Salt and Storm (with a spin-off)
Volume: 1
Goodreads

A Quick Introduction: All Avery Roe has ever wanted is to take over for her grandmother as the witch of Prince Island. When she was twelve, her mother took her from her grandmother's cottage, and, ever since, Avery has railed against her mother's attempts to turn her into a proper lady. When she has a nightmare predicting her own murder, she grows more desperate to find her way out of the spell her mother has used to trap her and become her grandmother's successor. Because, as everyone on the island knows, no one can kill a Roe witch.

Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: Full of complex familial relationships and an amazing, grim atmosphere, the only place this novel didn't work for me was the romance.

Review: This was overall an enjoyable read. I listened to it as an audiobook mainly because I have a lot to do right now, and I needed my hands free, but I'm glad that I did go this route. Lauren Fortganag overall does a good job with the narration (though I'm a little unsure about some of the accents). I think my favourite part of her narration was that she puts a lot of emotion into the character of Avery, which fit the character well.

Avery is such a hard-edged character in a lot of ways- she's fierce in her convictions, even when her convictions are wrong. She goes on a very interesting journey of coming to understand that things might not be exactly what she's always believed them to be. Her relationships with her mother, grandmother, and island all evolve over the course of the story, and I found that very engaging.

The point where this novel sort of fell down for me was the romance- I just somehow didn't end up all that invested in it. It didn't ruin the book for me, because most of the rest of the story was fairly strong, but it was meant to be a fairly key element of the story. Love and loss are meant to be something very key to the Roe witches.

The setting was vivid and the atmosphere of this novel really stood out to me. Its rough-edged and grim, and I really liked what it added to the reading/listening experience. It makes everything feel like its constantly on edge, waiting. The overarching plot fit well with the atmosphere, and was refreshing in that the author took the story places I wasn't expecting.

I really enjoyed listening to this one, and I'm really considering picking up the companion novel, especially if it has a similar atmosphere.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Thoughts on Rating


How I Rate Books

Sometimes rating a book is the hardest part of writing a review for me. This is when you make all those observations about the book and give them a quantity. It doesn't have have words, or explanation, its just a number. All of your thoughts being turned into a number.

"Then why do it?" I ask myself on occasion. I think that it is still valuable to assign a rating to books (though sometimes it feels really weird and artificial). It really is a part of writing a review for me- it communicates to anyone reading what kind of a review this is going to be, and I think it contributes a lot to how I write my review here.

Part of the issue is that I'm such a student. I'm incredibly used to ratings. Increasingly, I think in percentages, I rate my books out of ten. I'm not a fan of the five-star rating system, because I mentally turn it into a percentage, and it bothers me that there isn't a 50%. To me, 5/10 means that it passed, but wasn't great. (Like I said, student.)
To me this is 80% and it bothers me that it can actually be anywhere from 70% to 90%. Why, Goodreads?
It does vary quite a bit, though, depending on things like if the book managed to actually make me feel emotions (other than frustrated, when-will-this-be-over emotions). Basically, in my reviews, it is best to look at the rating and the "Review at a Glance" to get an impression of how I felt about a book. Or you could read the review. That would be good too.

Retroactively Rating Books

I'll often give a book a rating right when I finish it, and I'm still riding whatever emotional wave came from reading it. (Incidentally, I NEVER rate a book before or during my reading of it.) I often come back the next day, or while I'm writing the review, and change the rating. This can go up or down, I have certainly done both.

Do you rate your reviews?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Top (Not Quite) Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature created at The Broke and The Bookish.

I apparently didn't discover that many new favourites this year... I'm including debut authors because otherwise my numbers are kind of sad...

1. Maria Dahvanna Headley: Magonia was so wonderful, and I'm really excited about seeing what's in store next.

2. Sabaa Tahir: I overall enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes and I'm looking forward to more of this world.

3. Jay Kristoff: I generally enjoyed Stormdancer, and I LOVED Illuminae, which he co-authored. I'm probably going to be exploring more of his work next year.

4. Sharon Cameron: Rook was fun, though I'm not sure it I'll read her other books. We shall see.

5. Renee Adheih: I'm really looking forward to the sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Top Ten 2016 Debuts Novels I Are Looking Forward To


Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature created at The Broke and The Bookish.













1. The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapbood: Holes in space-time...

2. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton: Girls with magical horses has been one of my things since forever.

3. Love, Lies,and Spies by Cindy Anstey: I really like the cover...

4. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Choksi: This one sounds interesting. I do so enjoy girl-accidentally-becomes-queen stories.

5. Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh: Witches and a murder mystery rolled into one...



6. The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig: Time travel! Time travel! Time travel!

7. A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann: This one sounds eerie.

8. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallard: Despite the fact that twists on Sherlock Holmes rarely work for me, I can't not try.

9. The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude: Gothics.

10. The Reader by Traci Chee: This one sounds a little trope-y, but it might be fun.