Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesdays are a weekly feature over at The Broke and The Bookish (which I have actually managed to do for two consecutive weeks and counting...)

Oh look, one I can (more or less) put in order. I couldn't really decide if graphic novels counted, so they're seperate.

Eoin Colfer: The Artemis Fowl series. I also own the Airman and W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin. I'm not sure if I'll continue the series, but we'll see. I would like to get The Supernaturalist eventually.

Rick Riordan: All of the Percy Jacksons, and all of the Heroes of Olympus to date. I have read the Kane Chronicles, I'm just not sure if I'll ever reread them, so they aren't something that I have purchased.

Cassandra Clare: I've said before that I have a kind of strange relationship with these books, but I do have them for when I feel like reading them.

James Paterson: Regret. I almost compulsively finish series, so, even when the Maximum Ride books went into a serious tailspin, I finished the series.

J.K. Rowling: (Though these are kind of the family copies...) Harry Potter, of course. They're in kind of rough condition, and we had to replace Philosopher's Stone after the covers were more or less read off.

Michael Scott: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. These covers are fantastic. It isn't why I own the books, but it is certainly a bonus.

Lesley Livingston: Wondrous Strange was one of the books that started me reading YA in earnest, I think. They're fun books, and I liked the faery would the Livingston creates.

Y.S. Lee: The Agency/ Mary Quinn Mysteries. If she writes a fifth I will read it. Seriously. The covers don't match because I couldn't wait for the Canadian release of Rivals in the City. I just find these books so fun to read.

Christopher PaloniThe Inheritance Cycle. A teacher read Eragon allowed to us, and I enjoyed it enough that I had to finish it, then the series. While I'm not sure how I would feel about it if I read it now, it was certainly something I enjoyed then.

... the rest are trilogies or below. I have a lot of trilogies, but there simply isn't a point trying list them.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Badger Read-a-thon: Twitter Book Recommendation Challenge

The challenge is basically to make four recommendations, each with 140 characters or less, using no character names, major plot points, spoilers, or snippets from the synopsis.

High Fantasy
Dragonfly by Julia Golding
Dragonfly is an adventure set in a vibrant fantasy world. Bonus points for horses.

Science Fiction
Legend by Marie Lu
Legend is a fast-paced dual PoV YA dystopia, compete with coloured font.

Historical Fiction
The Agency by Y.S. Lee
YA mystery series, The Agency, is set in a vivid- and gritty- Victorian England.

Steampunk/ Alt. History
Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld
The Leviathan trilogy is a wonderful dual PoV steampunk alternative history.

Wow. I apparently get irrelevant if I have to be succinct. Well, this is not the first time I have said that there is a very good reason that I am not in marketing, nor, I'm sure, will it be the last.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mini- Reviews

For some reason, I've recently (in June, because that month was a bit mad) read some books that I just don't have that much to say about, or that I don't think I'll write a review for because of how long ago I read the book (travelling really messes with your schedule). So here's some little review snapshots.

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6)
Out of Ten: 5/10
I fluctuate constantly on how I feel about this book. There were parts that I did enjoy, but I think, overall, the style of the storytelling wasn't for me. These have always kind of been brain candy books for me, something I didn't read for it's stunning literary merit, but for the fact that it they somehow pulled me in despite their flaws. That said, there were a lot of flaws for me in this one. While I enjoyed the cameos from The Infernal Devices, I don't know if they all were necessary. There was a lot of (probably somewhat unnecessary) stuff inserted to tease for the next series in the Shadowhunter world. Some of the relationships seemed a little problematic (put diplomatically), and some issues were treated in a way that didn't really work for me. I didn't particularly care for the ending, just in how it came together a bit too neatly for my tastes. All of this said, I went through this one very quickly, and there were parts that I enjoyed. I keep changing the rating on this one.

Rivals in the City (The Agency #4)
Out of Ten: 8/10
If Y.S. Lee were to suddenly get up one morning and say "I'm writing a fifth story," I would be completely on board. The ending was open enough to allow it, but it was still satisfying enough as a conclusion to wrap up the story. I enjoyed this one a lot. Something Lee does very well is put you in the world of Victorian London- the good, the bad and the ugly of it (and there was a lot of ugly in Victorian-era London). I did kind of miss that banter (there was less in this book, just due to circumstances), but I still really enjoyed this book as a whole. I just wish there was more of the story, both character-wise and mystery-wise. It was so short. I could do with a fifth book, I really could. I wasn't planning to write a full review for this... but now I'm tempted.

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Out of Ten: 3/10
This was possibly more of an "it's not you, it's me" situation. I don't typically read contemporary romance novels, though I seem to keep looking for ones that will change my mind about the genre. This was not one of those books. I didn't like Lola, and I have a hard time with books where I don't like the narrator. Lola was just sort of unlikable for me. I didn't like her, I didn't like how she looked at other people and the world, and I honestly didn't understand her at all despite being in her head. I just didn't enjoy any of the characterizations in this book, and I wasn't a huge fan of how the storytelling played out. Again there was a cameo, which I kind of have mixed feelings about (talk about a clingy couple).

The Lovely and the Lost (The Dispossessed #2)
Out of Ten: 6.5/10
These books are strange in that I just kind of read them casually. I wasn't eagerly anticipating them, but I still read the first and picked up the sequel. They're something I'm not incredibly invested in, but enjoy reading nonetheless. As the second book in a series, this one more or less did what it was supposed to do. That is to say, it carried on the story, introduced more of the mythology that the author has created and built up some of the characters. It was fine. Other thought than that, please tell me we've put that feeble love triangle out of it's misery. This book just didn't really pull me in completely, though I will still  pick up The Wondrous and the Wicked when it is released.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Ten Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

Top Ten Tuesdays are a weekly feature over at The Broke and The Bookish (which I will one day actually manage to do on a weekly basis).

They seem to come in pairs...

Mau and Daphne from Nation. They've already done this whole island thing.

Kate de Vries and Matt Cruse from Airborn (and the rest of the Matt Cruse trilogy). Again, they've been stranded on an island before. They would probably somehow manage to discover a new, possibly homicidal, species while there.

Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase from  Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and The Heroes of Olympus series. Water powers, anyone? And Annabeth would just generally get things done.

Kami Glass and Angela Montgomry from Unspoken (and the rest of The Lynburn Legacy trilogy). Angela would hate it, but Kami needs her partner in crime. Kami because a) she's awesome and b) she can use her convenient mental link to tell Jared what's going on. Especially if I could have everyone on the list on the desert island... because Percy can automatically tell what coordinates he's at, provided it's at sea. And then she could basically radio the coordinates.

Katsa and Po from Graceling (and Bitterblue). Katsa has (spoiler) extreme survival skills. Po because I think I would need someone to stop her from killing someone if they annoyed her. They also make an excellent team.

Though I feel like some of them would have competing personalities... hopefully is would be okay?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha Trilogy
Volume: 3
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, High Fantasy
Release Date: June 17, 2014

A Quick Introduction: (Spoilers for books one and two). Alina's fight with the Darkling almost killed her. Weakened, she is now in hiding, recovering in a network of caves deep underground, sheltering with the Apparat and those who have declared her a living Saint. But she cannot remain hidden forever. She is the only hope the world above has of destroying the Fold, and of being free of the Darkling's rule. To get the strength to do this Alina must unite Morozova's amplifiers, even as she uncovers long-hidden secrets- about the Darkling, about Morozova, and about the truth of her own power.

Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: A good conclusion to a trilogy set in a fascinating and wonderfully built world.

Review:With the disclaimer that this will contain spoilers for the first two books in the trilogy, so if you haven't read those, and don't want to be spoiled, shoo. Overall, I really enjoyed this as an ending to the trilogy. There were still some flaws, but despite them I enjoyed the world, and much of the story.

One of the greatest strengths of this series is its cast of characters, especially the secondary characters. Something that can happen in first-person point of view stories is that the secondary characters take a back seat. Not so with this story. While this is very much Alina's story, the many of the other characters are vivid.

Alina herself is something of a difficult character. She isn't a typically "heroic" character in a lot of ways. She doesn't jump at the call to arms, and she considers how nice it would be to just leave the country to it's ruin. She's not naturally selfless, and she is power hungry. This makes her both a very human character, and one that sometimes made it a little challenging to be cheer on wholeheartedly. She is also continuously questioning if an Alina with all three amplifiers will be any better than the Darkling is. The Darkling makes a compelling antagonist (and to me, he has always been a villain, but he is a three dimensional one), with his own history and his own motives, and I think that is all I will say about that.

If I have a complaint about the plot, it was that it moves a little strangely. Breaking it down into events, not all that much happens in the main plot. A layer of the book is the plot, and another (often more overriding) layer is how Alina feels about what is happening, and Alina's personal journey. While generally they were reasonably well balanced, there were times that the action could have been more pronounced, with a little more emphasis on the physical story. There were some aspects of the story that might have benefited from some more foreshadowing. I also felt that the romance could have been minimized slightly or done differently. There was just something about some parts of it that didn't really work for me.

A strength of all of the books in this trilogy is the setting. Leigh Bardugo makes an enthralling world (compete with a map-I am a sucker for a map). It's a world that is complete with fantastical locations and dangerous creatures, and it was one of my favourite aspects of these stories. Leigh Bardugo paints an image with her writing. She writes in a way that appeals to the senses, and a I very rarely found myself jolted out of the story. Generally, it flowed well, and fit in well with the story itself, adding to the reading experience.

All in all, I enjoyed this book as a conclusion to the series. While there were still some flaws with the storytelling, especially toward the ending, I still found that it, for the most part, wrapped up this trilogy well. I'm looking forward to the next series, also set in the Grisha world.

Friday, July 18, 2014

How To Dislike a Book

This has been brewing for a while, and gets worse every time I take a look at review on Goodreads. Usually I'm pretty happy to be part of a community of readers. I don't know if it's just that I'm picky, or if everyone has this issue, but I'm going to put a little guide out there for everyone. So, here we go, here's how to dislike a book.

Let's face it, you're not going to love every book. You're not even going to like every book. This is fine, and you certainly don't have to enjoy every book you read. You're allowed to be upset, disappointed or even angry. Even when you do like a book, there will still be at least one thing that you find problematic. But before you go off on a long rage tangent about a novel, here is a guide:

1. If you do finish the book, close it. Sit back and take a breather. No, seriously. Go for a nice walk around the block. Take a shower. Fold origami. Make cookies (I recommend this, not only does it give you something else to do, but you also finish with cookies). Give yourself at least an hour away from reading. DO NOT go on the internet. This is important. No internet for you yet.

2. Are you calm? Heart rate back to a healthy pace? Face no longer flushed from rage? If yes, proceed to step 3. If no, repeat step 1, and then come back.

3. Okay. Now you can go in the internet.  You can now write that review, but there’s a few things that you MUST remember as you do:
  • You are telling people that you didn't like this book, but, more than that, you are telling people WHY you didn't like it. I’m far from a perfect reviewer, but it seems to me that part of the point of a review is to give others an impression of whether or not this was a book they might enjoy.
  • All caps are great for expressing emotions, but get tired, and sounds confrontational, if your entire 200+ word negative review in entirely capitalized. Use the powers of capitalization, bold, and italics wisely and sparingly.
  • Now, this is an important one. NO DEATH THREATS. No threats of violence of any sort. None. We are readers, not violent crazy people. I know you’re upset, but even threats with nothing behind them take your review from upset about at book to outright hostile toward another human being. Remember: attack the idea, not the person, just like in high school debates. Attacking an author, or anyone else, over the internet (or otherwise) is not cute.
  • Please, please be coherent. There isn't any point to reviewing if it’s mostly you cursing, and nobody can follow the sentences.

I exercised my superior skill with Microsoft Paint to make you a checklist, possibly breaking my own rule about capital letters.
And always, always remember that the internet is not some empty void that you are shouting into. There are other people there. We are all examples for each other out here in the wilds of cyberspace. One person attacking another person and getting away with it gives other people the impression that it is okay to do that. It isn't. These things snowball, and suddenly we have a pitchfork bearing mob on our hands, and everyone else shaking their head and wondering why on Earth they bother reading reviews at all, and then nobody is happy.

Basically, remember to dislike a book in a reasonable way. Otherwise, you just come off as irrational, and I am going to have a hard time taking anything you say seriously. If you want to show me your point of view, tell me it with a cool head, and be ready to back yourself up. I'm far from perfect, and probably not the best person to be handing out advice, but reading books and talking about books (yes, even talking critically about books, even negatively reviewing books) should be something that you do because you love books, not out of hate.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves

The Secrets of Lily GravesTitle: The Secrets of Lily Graves
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Genre: Mystery, Romance
Release Date: May 13, 2014

A Quick Introduction: Growing up with a family of female morticians, Lily Graves is used to the dead.  But when Erin Donahue, senior class president is found dead hours after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily is pulled into a murder investigation- as one of the prime suspects, along with Erin's ex-boyfriend, Matt.

Out of Ten: 5/10

Review at a Glance: A fairly absorbing mystery, although aspects felt incomplete.

Review: This book felt more like an first draft that hadn't been fleshed out yet than a complete story. That said, once I started reading it, I didn't put it down until I finished it (in the early hours of the morning). It was a quick read, and took me about four hours to finish.

The characters and relationships were one aspect that made the story feel incomplete. The characters felt more like sketches than finished characters. Lily was raised living in a funeral home, and her family are morticians, so she's obviously quite comfortable around dead bodies and I would have liked to hear more about her home life, and participation in the family business. There were aspects of her character that I appreciated, though I would have liked more buildup. It would have been nice to see more about Matt's character, and his personality oustide of the whole romance. The romance could have done with more time to develop, or rather, more display that it had developed, since Lily and Matt knew each other before Erin's death. Though they weren't exactly seeing each other behind Erin's back, they weren't exactly not either, which I found dishonest, especially on Matt's part. Despite being told that they were interested in each other before, Lily and Matt didn't really seem to click from what was shown in the book. It was one of the aspects that could have been more built up.

Another aspect that would have benefited from more fleshing out was the plot itself. More time could have been taken between big reveals of new information, and it could have been interwoven with smaller pieces of information. As it was, the investigation seemed a bit too easy, and some pieces didn't weave together as well as they might have done if they had been plotted more carefully.

The writing was fairly simple. The story was told in first person, from Lily's perspective. This limited perspective worked well, since all information was revealed to the reader at the same time as it was revealed to Lily. As a matter of personal preference, I like when the information in a mystery is given to the reader at the same time as the character, rather than additional information being presented from time to time. I find it allows for a more interactive reading experience to solve the case along with the characters, so this worked for me. Despite the fact that the mystery wasn't terribly complicated or well planned out.

Overall, while this book could have done with more buildup in the areas of character, relationships and plot, it was still an alright mystery, and I didn't put it down until I finished.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Read-a-thon (again)

Click here for more information.

This one is a month long, I haven't done one this long before, but I missed out reading while I was travelling, just because things got so hectic between that and my course, and I would really like to get some more reading done this summer.

I don't really have a TBR (my TBR pile is more of a "oh look at all of the books I would like to read some day" pile than a "here are all of the books that I will be reading in the month of July, in order" pile. I think I will be pretty relaxed about the read-a-thon itself, maybe participating in some challenges or a readalong. I think that's about it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Raven Cycle (re)Readathon

TRCR readathong mock up

I'm participating in another readathon (well, this is more of a readalong, but lets not talk about that). I looked at this and thought to myself "Self, is there anything more productive than rereading the same book for, what, the sixth time?" to which I replied "No. No there is not." (I am, after all, a chronic rereader, and probably would have read this anyway.)

These are such fun books to think about, there's so much to them, and has some of the most interesting meta writers I have come across in book fandoms. There's just so much to them, and I'm looking forward to doing this reread. If you've read them, time to make if fresh in your mind. If you haven't, well, wouldn't it be nice to remedy that? (Look. There. You see that? That is the reason that I do not work in marketing.)

Anyway, for anyone who wants more information, or to sign up, click here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Ten Classics I Want To Read

Top Ten Tuesdays are a weekly feature over at The Broke and The Bookish (that I am really terrible at doing consistently).

I often struggle with classics, but here's a list of classics that I hope to get to at some point. There are also so many that I want to read because I have (or will read) adaptations of the book, though there aren't any on the list. So, basically what I'm saying is that I have many classics I would like to read, and a lack of motivation to read them all.

The Silmarillion- I have tried to read it, but I need a solid amount of time to read this one. I have read The Lord of the Rings, and I feel like I should eventually finish it. It's  quite a dense read.

Dune- My mother actually told me about this a while ago, and I, for some reason, didn't read it.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- I read a bit of it, but it was during a busy time in school, so I didn't end up finishing it before returning to the library.

Journey to the Center of the Earth- I would actually like to get around to reading several of Jules Verne's books.

The Giver- I seem to be the only person who didn't have to read this for elementary school English class, and I should get around to it at some point.

War of the Worlds- I can't not have some H.G. Wells on the list, since I haven't read his stuff yet, and I would like to.

Fahrenheit 451- Kind of dystopic. I've read a short story by Ray Bradbury, and really enjoyed it (it was a bit creepy... The Veldt).

The Chrysalids- Again, sounds dystopic and a bit dark , though I haven't heard too much about it.

Sabriel- I have yet to read this. I know there's a prequel coming out (or a companion), so maybe now is the time to read this book and the rest of the series.

Lord of the Flies- One day, when I am ready to be fundamentally disturbed, I will read this. Probably. One day. Maybe. I'm unsure about this one.

It was surprisingly difficult to limit myself to ten. I didn't realise I had that many classics that I have yet to read and would like to.