Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Mini- Reviews

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.5)
Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Out of Ten: 6/10
Review: I was a little leery going into this one. I've mentioned before that I'm generally more of a hero person, for one thing. On the other hand, though, I am a fan of the Lunar chronicles and I was definitely game to explore more of the world.

What I found with this book was it lacked the vibrancy of the other books. There's just a certain je ne sais quoi that the rest of the works in the series have that this just didn't. Part of it was that I couldn't cheer for Levana- even if I hadn't know that she would end up an antagonist, I doubt I would have liked her, and I found her hard to even empathise with. That said, it was still interesting to get more insight into Levana's story, as well as Luna as a setting, where at least part of Winter is to be set. Overall, this novel feels like more of a primer for Winter than a stand-alone story.

The interior art is quite stunning, though, so I'm including a little photo of it (the lighting is bad due to the fact that it is entirely an artificial source... and a compact florescent).

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
Release Date: December 1, 2014
Out of Ten: 4/10
Review: Despite a lot of things that I didn't enjoy about this book, it had some fun moments. Steampunk is always hit-and-miss for me, and this was more of a miss. I quite liked the clockwork heart as an idea, but I wish the rest of the world were more clearly defined. One of the key parts of a successful Steampunk for me is that the Steampunk elements feel intrinsic to the world, and are organically a part of it, which wasn't the case with this story. I never knew exactly what the limits of the technology, how it worked was, for the most part was never explained. The world didn't end up feeling cohesive. Though there were some parts that were fun to read, they felt like they weren't truly a part of the story- it didn't really flow. The world building was carried out mainly though exposition. I wasn't generally attached to the characters, and I didn't much care for the romance- it felt forced. The end verdict on this was: interesting core concept, poor execution.

The Brokenhearted (The Brokenhearted #1)
The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney
Release Date: October 3, 2013
Out of Ten: 2/10
Review: I was not a fan of this one. Anthem drove me a little crazy, she was everything I dislike in a character, and was very hard to connect to. She was the worst kind of stupid: the kind that doesn't learn from her mistakes. I didn't like her way of doing things, I didn't like her personality. Anthem aside, I had a really hard time with how the concept was carried out. It just didn't make sense. I couldn't suspend disbelief about how she got the heart- her recovery time? Nobody recovers from a major organ transplant that quickly. Also, if you drown, it isn't your heart that is generally the problem... I could have done with more of and explanation as to how the heart gave her some of the powers she had (you do realise hummingbirds appear to "hover" because they have wings that they flap really, really fast, right? Not just through magic?) Overall, this really didn't work for me... I liked the idea of a super-hero origin story where a new heart eventually modifies the girl enough to grant her super-powers, but this wasn't what I was looking for, and really wasn't for me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January DNF

This is a strange little DNF pile for this month. They're both carry-overs from December (actually, I started them in November).

Haze (The Rephaim, #2)
Haze by Paula Weston
November 28-January 28

200 pages (I think, I was pretty close)
I just kept trying to finish this. I have actually been trying to read this for two months. It just wasn't working for me. I wasn't completely crazy about the story, and I just kind of lost interest. I might give this another try once the next book (or possibly the rest of the quartet) are out. We shall see.

Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales
November 26- January 1
This collection started off really strong. I then hit a point where I had read three short stories that I really didn't care for, and couldn't stir up the enthusiasm to continue with the stories. I think I would like to pick this up again at some point, because there were some really strong series, and I hope that there will be a few more that I like. I feel like the short story format is better read separately, rather than back to back, so it might be better if I plan it more next time. I'm actually leaving it in my mental TBR pile, rather than DNF, because it feels weird to say I didn't finish each story, when I did finish and like a several of them.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
January 14-28
70 pages
I wanted to like this one. I really did. But I just can not get into this book. I tried to listen to the audiobook, I tried to read the novel, and I'm just not feeling it. Scott Westerfeld's writing is hit-and-miss for me- I really like the Leviathan trilogy, I really didn't like Uglies. His style has certain weaknesses, and I think there are certain stories that carry the writing and there are certain stories that don't, and this one didn't, for me. The characters just didn't really feel like they had any depth for me, and I wasn't invested in either of them. Part of it was the storytelling style, alternating between the contemporary of the writer, Darcy's, story and the other part is the character in the novel she's writing, Lizzie's story. The points of view didn't overlap well, taking away from each other rather than working together to form a cohesive book.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club/ If I Had A Book Club

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

I mean, there's the one that I'm part of on Twitter (and that has been lovely so far), but I don't have a one in real life... I've never been able to find people with tastes similar enough to mine for something like that to work. Hence the slash in the title.

1. Nation by Terry Pratchett. I have nobody to talk to about this one, and I feel like it bares discussion. (I tried to explain it to one of my friends and she looked at me blankly and said "So everybody in the village dies? Sounds like your kind of book." Which is, of course, patently untrue- almost everyone in the village does die, but that isn't why I read it.)

2. The Raven Boys (and, actually, the rest of The Raven Cycle) by Maggie Stiefvater. I actually have one friend (not the same as above) who has read and liked it, but she isn't as intense as most of the online community.

3. All Our Yesterdays by . I was reading it at school and I think I bothered my roommate about it while I was reading it... she had no other option but to listen to me randomly say random things about the book. I think it would be something that would be interesting to discuss.

4. Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow. This is one of those books that I really liked, and I feel like it would be great to talk about.

5.  A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sarah Biggs Waller. It just sort of feels like a book club book.

6.  Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst. I think this would be interesting to read with a group.

7. Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I don't know why I like the concept, but I really enjoyed the concept.

8. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. Again, I feel like this series would be interesting to discuss, especially as things build up.

9. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. Possibly I am a Holly Black kick... there's this strange feeling of sort of almost... slow decay to it that I found interesting.

10. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. It might be on my mind because I just read Shadow Scale, but I think this would be sort of fun to discuss.

Now I want to start a book club.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Statistics Survey

Statistics Survey 2014
This survey is hosted over at The Book Addict's Guide. The survey can be found here. I kept meaning to do it... so I've gotten there now.
  1. Number of books under 250 pages (not including novellas): Zero. The only book that would qualify was actually one that I listened to, so I suppose that counts?
  2. Number of books read between 400-449 pages: 13
  3. Number of books read between 450-499 pages: 1
  4. Number of books read over 500 pages: 3
  5. Number of books read over 1000 pages: 0
  6. Number of novellas read: Zero
  7. Number of books that made you cry: Good question. One?
  8. Number of books from a female POV: (single narrator/ narrative focus): 28
  9. Number of books from a male POV: (single narrator/ narrative focus): 3
  10. Number of alternating or multiple POVs: 18
  11. Number of DNFs (did not finish): 18
  12. Number of five star reads: 2
  13. Number of one/two star reads: 13
  14. Number of authors met in 2014: 46
  15. Number of book events attended in 2014: 0
  16. Number of books you read in one day: 1
  17. Number of audiobooks: I've only just started keeping track of those, probably five or six.
  18. Number of 2015 books you have on pre-order: 0. 
  19. Number of re-reads: Countless (again, I've only just started keeping track.)
  1. Book with the highest rating on Goodreads: (average rating, I assume) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas.
  2. Book with the lowest rating on Goodreads: Twinmaker by Sean Williams
  3. Book read furthest away from home (vacation reads?): I reread The Scorpio Races while visiting a friend in Wales. Both the book and the audiobook (the audiobook is wonderful).
  4. Book that took you the longest to read: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, I think.
  5. Book that you personally connected with the most: New read? Hmm... maybe Blue Lily, Lily Blue
  6. Book that made you love the villain: I'm more of a hero person... I've always found the Darlking from the Grisha trilogy (Ruin and Rising came out last year) to be a compelling villain... but I wouldn't say I like him.
  7. Book you said you’d come back to but still haven’t picked up again: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.
  8. Book you read waaaay before it’s publication date: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong.
  9. Book you read on your birthday: Shadows by Paula Weston
  10. Book with a character who shares your name: I can't remember any Kellys as first names (Kelly can be both a female and male, as well as a last name, I think there was a last name this year).
  11. Book you weren’t entirely truthful about when rating (Fluff up any ratings? Rated even though you didn’t finish?): I don't think so? I dither a lot on the rating of City of Heavenly Fire, though. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I do worry that some of my ratings were skewed by my mood at the time, too. Or whether or not I reviewed right after vs. after a day or so cooling off period.
  12. Book you read in 2014 but already want to re-read: I'm a compulsive rereader, but right now Blue Lily, Lily Blue. A friend has my copy. 
  13. Book you borrowed from a friend a long time ago and still have: None! I triumphantly returned Tears, Toes, and Other Things That Make Us Human and a couple of other books to someone this year, after having it for ages, though.
  14. Book by a foreign author/originally published in another country: Shadows by Paula Weston immediately comes to mind.
  15. Book you which you could go back and read for the first time again: Cruel Beauty, because I wonder if I was in a bad mood when I read it. People seemed to love it, but I was pretty neutral...
  16. Most books read by one author this year: Nothing dominant. A lot of authors that I've read two books from. 
Stat Survey This and That
  1. Happiest & saddest: This is a challenging question... as in what is subjectively the saddest, or what is objectively the saddest? Because sometimes weird things make me happy/sad.
  2. Longest & shortest: City of Heavenly Fire & The Job
  3. Best & worst: The Winner's Curse & Landry Park (or The Ring and the Crown, it was a toss-up)
  4. First & last reads of 2014: The Naturals & The Islands at the End of the World
  5. First & last books on your bookcase (1st book on the top left and last book on the bottom right): Artemis Fowl & The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook (by Alan Lee)
  6. The most disappointing & the biggest pleasant surprise: The Blood of Olympus & Killer Instinct
  7. Bandwagon/fandom you joined & one you abandoned: does A Thousand Pieces of You have a fandom? &  I may be in the process of bandwagon leaping off of the Throne of Glass books.
  8. Most lenient & harshest ratings:  Hmm...  Tei(probably?) & The Ring and the Crown 
  9. Most hyped & furthest under the radar that you read: A Thousand Pieces of You & Rivals in the City (maybe... what is under the radar? It hasn't been published in North America yet, but I bough the UK edition).
Stat Survey Grab Bag
    Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe, #1)
  1. Book you read that is red: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, it has such a lovely cover.
  2. Book you read that starts with M: Does A Mad, Wicked Folly count? Its as close as I've got right now.
  3. Book you read that you may have hugged when you finished it: Unmade (it was on my kindle app on my laptop, so I don't think so)? Or The Winner's Curse
  4. Book you read that you may have wanted to throw across a room: Landry Park, probably. I'm still sort of surprised that I finished it because it was so frustrating to read.
  5. Book that has the letters Q, X, or Z in the title (bonus for one of the words in the title beginning with those!): Lola and the Boy Next Door.
  6. Book that suffered some damage this year (food? water? ripped pages/cover? Ouch!): My copy of Ink suffered ripping, tearing, staining and water damage at the hands of my sister's backpack. (I'm not always gentle to my books, but I'm also not that rough on them, suffice to say I was not thrilled with this development).
  7. Food you craved while/after reading a certain book: Nothing that comes to mind.
  8. First book you read in 2015: Winterspell
  9. Number of books read that end with a 6 in the page count: 4
Stat Survey Blogging Life

    1. Number of posts in 2014: 95
    2. Number of reviews posted this year: 25
    3. First post of 2014: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2014
    4. First review of 2014: For Darkness Shows the Stars (carry-over review from my 2013 reads)
    5. Last post of 2014:  Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015 (hey, symmetry) 
    6. Last review of 2014: The Young Elites
    7. Least coherent review: 
    8. Review with the most views (regardless of post date): Rites of Passage
    9. Post with the most comments: Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For
    10. Post you wish you could re-write: Most of the reviews, to be honest.
    11. Most popular post this year (that was posted in 2014): Bout of Books 11: Day 5

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the ForestTitle: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: January 13, 2015

A Quick Introduction: When they were young, Hazel and Ben hunted faeries in the woods behind they're home- the dark woods full of creatures that prowled, preying on unwary tourists. The town of Fairfold has an uneasy relationship with the fae, fear mixed with fascination. They town's greatest attraction is faery boy, sleeping in a glass coffin- one whom Hazel and Ben have adored since they were children, and who hasn't moved for generations. Until one day, when the town wakes to find the glass coffin shattered, and the boy awake. But he isn't the only thing that has awoken, something stirs at the heart of the forest, and nobody in the town is safe.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: An enthralling faery standalone with a vibrant cast and wonderful setting.

Review: In a word, this book was captivating. For me it was one of those books that, when you're reading it, you almost forget that you're reading.

The Darkest Part of the Forest features a vibrant cast of characters. They've lived with the knowledge of their dangerous otherworldly neighbours from childhood (and then, of course, some of them are the aforementioned dangerous, otherworldly creatures). Hazel is a fierce, stubborn and very brave, but she makes reckless decisions, and will do just about anything to hold onto her childhood vocation- hunting down the fae that harmed tourists with her brother. Ben is a musician- though not by choice. He was "gifted" the talent and compulsion to play by a faery when he was a child. Where Hazel is fierce, he is the softer sibling. They're contrasts in a lot of ways- she's a fighter, he's a musician, he's a romantic, she generally prefers to avoid commitment- but they work well together, though they sometimes don't quite trust each other.

Their relationship, as well as, to a lesser degree, their troubled relationship with their artist parents, were an important part of the story. There was romance, both for Hazel and for Ben, but it didn't play as much of a role in the plot. Those added another dimension to the story, but weren't all that dominant.

The setting was one that I really enjoyed. I think I've got a soft spot for strange little towns with magic at their edges. Those who live in Fairfold are aware of the fae, many wear protective charms, and exist in shaky harmony with them. The fae don't attack the townspeople, but may go after tourists if they aren't being careful. Those are the fae that Hazel spent her pre-teen years hunting with Ben. I really liked the elements of fae folklore woven into the town- the talismans, the herbs, the day-to-day rituals that are just a part of life for those that live there. It made the world feel real.

This book is a very quick read. Its fast-paced, when there isn't actual action, there's the uncovering of secrets- there's always something happening. The plot was, overall, fairly simple, but still enjoyable. The world is, for the most part, introduced through the actions of those who live in it, rather than through prolonged amounts of exposition, which lends the book a flow. This book juggles past and present, showing snapshots of what it was like for Hazel and Ben to grow up next to a forest full of monstrous and beautiful creatures, with parents who were quite inattentive (at best) to their two young children, allowing them to do more-or-less whatever they liked, and how this upbringing shaped to the teenagers that lead the story.

The strongest parts of this book were the characters and setting, and it was overall a very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the use of faery mythology, and I'm looking forward to reading what Holly Black releases next (and possibly working through some of her older books).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Top Ten Stand-Alone YA Fantasy Novels

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

1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

2. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

3. Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

4. Dragonfly by Julia Golding

5. Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

6. Nation by Terry Pratchett

7. East by Edith Pattou

I'll finish this with a request: If anyone knows some good stand-alone fantasies, I would love to read more.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Zodiac

Zodiac (Zodiac, #1)Title: Zodiac
Author: Romina Russel
Series: Zodiac
Volume: 1
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: December 9, 2015

A Quick Introduction: Following a massive disaster on her planet, Rho suddenly finds herself appointed Guardian to the planet Cancer. Shortly before the disaster that befell her home, she sensed something dark and unknown lurking in the stars. Rho comes to suspect that what befell Cancer was not an accident, but part of a larger plan by someone wishing the entire galaxy ill- the exiled thirteenth house, Ophiuchus. Now she must convince the rest of the Zodiac to unite to face a threat she can't even fully prove exists.

Out of Ten: 6/10

Review at a Glance: A compelling idea, unfortunately aspects of the execution really didn't work for me.

Review: This was a really neat concept. Essentially, the Zodiac consists of twelve major planet systems, each based on one of the Western zodiac. This is mainly in the people, but also in the characteristics of the planet itself (for example, Cancer, the crab, is a world of mostly open sea). The people of each planet have a unique culture and and- more or less- race.

As you can tell, I really liked the worlds themselves. Even if some of them are a little scientifically improbable (though not necessarily of everything... even the binary-planet thing is hypothetically possible... though they would likely collide with each other, either full-on, or glancing off each other). They were such a fun concept, even if, at times, they pushed the limits of my suspension of disbelief.

Where my suspension of disbelief struggled was with the people and the magic system. The magic system because it wasn't fully explained- was there any actually astrology involved? What exactly is the Psy and how is it supposed to work? The people because peoples' personalities cannot change their genetic make-up (this mainly stems from a line which basically said that some people are born with character traits that so strongly contradict their zodiac sign that their physical traits change to that of the house the suit...). Basically, it wasn't something I fully understood.

So that aspect was a strength. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy much else. I didn't particularly enjoy being in Rho's head. She just didn't approach problems in a way that worked for me, and didn't seem willing to learn from her mistakes or compromise. While I did appreciate her determination and loyalty, I still found I couldn't connect to her. I know that this is meant to be series, so I assume that she'll grow, but there weren't enough convincing positive traits to make me invest in her in this first book.

And there was a love triangle. Seriously. I'm sure if this wasn't a trope that I am incredibly, indescribably tired of nearly all of the time, I wouldn't have been so irritated by it. But it is, and I was. It was, at best, lukewarm for me. I never really felt the any of the characters had connection (chemistry?) and the plot could likely have done without it. I get why it was in there... it just wasn't necessary, and that point could have been made without it.

As the plot went... well, the most enjoyable part for me was the travelling to other planets part. Otherwise there were times where I was frustrated by the storytelling, but I was overall alright with it, I suppose, up until the ending, which didn't work for me. It felt like a forced climax, and a more subtle one probably would have worked better for the first book in a series.

Overall, I didn't love this one, but it was alright. I felt the concept had potential, but it wasn't met by the characters or plot. I'm not sure if I'll be picking up the next book.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: Death Sworn

Death Sworn (Death Sworn, #1)Title: Death Sworn
Author: Leah Cypress
Series: Death Sworn
Volume: 1
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Release Date: March 4, 2014

A Quick Introduction: Ileni is losing her magic. She's spent her childhood training for a destiny that can no longer be hers. Rather than spending the rest of her life in a place where she doesn't have the value she used to, she takes the likely-lethal mission of becoming tutor to the assassins living in isolated caves. She's to go to the assassin's cave, and, while training them in magic, investigate the deaths of the previous two tutors. What she finds there is more that she ever expected.

Out of Ten: 6/10

Review at a Glance: Despite an interesting premise, this book's characters, world and plot weren't a fully engaging introduction to a duology.

Review: This was an alright read. It wasn't bad, but it was one of those books that I didn't really have much feeling for one way or the other. It was only disappointing because I was expecting more.

The characters really always just felt like characters, never like people. While I could see their motives, but I never connected to them. I had a hard time with Ileni, simply in how she chose to conduct herself, and how she chose to go about her mission. She's supposed to be hiding her dwindling magic, but she's awfully reckless and gets herself into a lot of situations where it is required. Sorin just didn't interest me. Despite the fact that he was fairly developed background-wise, I just didn't care much about him. While I didn't feel much attachment to any of the characters, I didn't really find them intolerable, and I still didn't mind reading from Ileni's point of view.

Possibly partially as a result of the unengaging natures of the characters, the romance wasn't terribly interesting. I found myself uncertain as to why it was necessary. Ileni and Sorin were designed to be at odds with one another, and I didn't really see where the romance grew from, as they didn't seem to like each other much more... so it felt sudden. There didn't feel like there was a bond there, so it wasn't something that I was terribly invested in.

The setting and world both felt static. While the assassin's cave could have been a very dynamic location, I just didn't see it. It didn't feel vivid. The background of the world (the history, if you will) wasn't truly presented. There wasn't a very vivid story, so what I got was essentially "One day the Empire (where were basically jerks) appeared out of nowhere and took over without any resistance. Some people ran away to live in the caves or on a mountain". I just didn't feel it.

The plot itself was alright. Again, I wasn't engaged, but I still worked my way though it. I think it would have been more engaging with more story. The Empire was such a vague enemy, that wasn't truly the enemy. It felt that there could have been more involved in constructing the mystery. The plot was fine, just not something that I was super invested in.

In the end, this book was alright, but it was something that I couldn't really invest in. I still think I'm going to read the Death Marked, the sequel and conclusion to the duology. I do have some hopes for seeing more of the world, and that I might connect more with Ileni.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

December Backlog Mini-Reviews

Twinmaker (Twinmaker, #1)
Twinmaker by Sean Williams
Out of Ten: 5/10
Review: I had a really hard time suspending disbelief with this book. Even I know that matter CANNOT be created, and that seemed to be exactly what happened in this book. It just didn't work, or otherwise wasn't explained at all, so I could not make myself believe it. That aside, the story was fairly simple, pretty standard as YA dystopia goes, and I couldn't connect to or empathise with any of the characters. The mystery of Q's identity was something that was quite easy to predict, so I wondered why Clair couldn't see it.
Killer Instinct (The Naturals, #2)
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Out of Ten: 7.5/10
Review: I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I was somewhat disappointed be The Naturals early in 2014, and I wasn't sure if I was going to pick up the sequel, but I saw it at the library, and figured I might as well give it another try. While it wasn't perfect, I found I enjoyed this one a lot more. Part of it was, I think, that I knew what to expect going in (despite the serial killers and darker themes, these books contain a lot of levity). The writing had more flow now that the characters had been introduced, and the characters grated on me less than they did in the first one, for the most part. The story itself was engaging, though I did have a hard time suspending disbelief at some plot points. I'll probably be picking up the next one.
The Islands at the End of the World (Islands at the End of the World, #1)
The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan
Out of Ten: 6/10
Review: This was the last debut that I read in 2014, and while I didn't dislike it, I didn't feel much else about it either. There were aspects that I enjoyed, however I found that I really couldn't connect to Leilani, and I didn't enjoy some of the narrative decisions. Basically, as the plot went on, I found that it interested me less and less (the story itself disinterested me), but it was still alright. I'm not sure if I'll be finishing this duology or not.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn't Get To

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

1. Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jenson: This has been on my list since the beginning of the year, I just haven't gotten to it yet.

2. Avalon by Mindee Arnett: Spaceships are fun. This one has also been on my list for quite some time, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

3. The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove: This one sounds really interesting. I almost bought it once, actually, but I decided to wait a bit... I still have not done that.

4. Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix: This sounds really strange and fun. I do enjoy Ikea, and this is sort of a parody, I believe.

5. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: This is more of an "the library hasn't gotten it in yet, I've had it on hold for months" thing.

6. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker: I didn't know about this until later in the year, and I haven't gotten to it yet.

7. The Falconer by Elizabeth May: Again, this was on my list at the start of the year, but it was just never at the top of my reading list.

8. The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen: Library hold situation, again. I'm sure it will come in eventually.

9. Day 21 by Cass Morgan: I read The 100 when it was released, and I actually had an eARC of Day 21, but I realised that I would have to reread the first one before going into it, so I've not gotten to it yet.

10. The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst: I'm still curious about this one, I really liked Vessel, however, I'm not sure if I will ever get to this one. Thoughts?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Wrap-up


So, it wasn't fantastic, this time around, as finishing books went. Possibly it was not a good idea to do a read-a-thon in the first week of school starting up again *shrugs* hindsight's 20/20. It was still an enjoyable way to start the new year, and I'm always looking forward to doing it again.

Daily Updates

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: Winterspell

WinterspellTitle: Winterspell
Author:Claire Legrand
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

A Quick Introduction: It's Christmas Eve, 1899. Clara Stole has enough to worry about, with a murdered mother, a grieving father, and a crime syndicate gaining power in New York City. Then, her father is taken by creatures that from another world. To get him back, she must follow him into the war-torn land of Cane, accompanied by Cane's dethroned prince, Nicholas, whom she isn't even sure she can trust. Clara soon finds there is more to her story, and her mother's murder than she ever could have imagined.

Out of Ten: 2/10

Review at a Glance: A standalone fantasy that overall really didn't work for me despite some interesting elements.

Review: This book was just... uncomfortable to read for me for a lot of reasons. I have lists. There were things that squicked me out (the whole thing with the statue, for one... I won't go into that because it is possibly more personal preference?), and things that I found downright problematic. More on that later.

The first thing in this book that didn't work for me was the characters. I had a really hard time with the main character, Clara. She felt incredibly inconsistent. She would constantly switch from a capable competent fighter to someone incapable of handling themselves in a crisis. She didn't feel real, and I didn't understand her decisions at all. Nicholas was... well, I'll be honest, I didn't like him at all, not as a character and not as a person. The common denominator of all of the characters was that they all felt inconsistent, as though they were being shaped for convenience of the situation (whatever trait worked best in a situation, it was there).

This book felt, in a word, problematic. Look! I made a list:
  1. Clara's internalised victim-blaming: this may be somewhat in-world, as women were often blamed for "tempting" men by doing things like walking or having a figure (actually, sometimes they still are, but we will leave that discussion for another time). This was something that was, to an extent, worked through in the book though... so this may not be too strong a part of the list. Moving on.
  2. Nicholas made me incredibly uncomfortable. He's essentially borderline abusive. He uses Clara, he hurts her, then he apologises. Rinse and repeat. The way he's handled was just one that I really didn't like (there are some things I'm not going to mention in this review because of spoilers). He's obviously got some problems of his own from his past (seriously), but people like that really shouldn't do the relationship thing until they've worked through that.
  3. Anise. Again, hurts Clara, apologises (I mean, sometimes apologises). Anise is, in a word, unstable. She's quite unable to empathise with pretty much anyone, she tortures people (yes, she has Clara tortured too). On top of this, Clara is actually Anise's prisoner, and is, therefore in her power... it is a balance of power that is difficult to do in a way that respects those involved. This didn't.
The plot didn't pull me in, and it didn't feel like it grew all that organically, especially with the pacing toward the end. I found myself drifting away from the action, from what was meant to be going on. The world itself was fairly well formed. It has a dark glamour to much of it, and reflects the state of Anise's mind (which is, as I mentioned, quite unstable and destructive). While I did not adore the world, it was well formed and fairly interesting.

The writing was quite simple, though, as I mentioned, I appreciated aspects of the world building. It is mostly told from a third person limited point of view, from Clara's view, with occasional inserts of a story being told by another narrator. As I've mentioned, I struggled the pacing, especially toward the ending. The climax was almost too quick, as well as very simple, compared to the speed at which everything else in the novel happened. Otherwise the writing didn't stand out to me one way or the other.

This books was essentially not for me on just about every level. I didn't particularly enjoy the plot, I didn't particularly enjoy the writing, and some really issues with how aspects of the book were handled.

Bout of Books 12: Day 6 Update


  • Still Star-Crossed: 342 pages (finished)


(I'm just going to do one today because I would like to get more reading done.

Literary Quote
I can't actually use the recommended programs and my sister has done something with the camera's SD card... (Maybe it's in another camera? Under a bed? In Narnia? We just don't know.) So you shall once again be treated to my fantastic skills with Microsoft Paint. Behold.
I read Still Star-Crossed today. I somehow have this very vivid mental image of how Rosaline said these words.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Day 5 Update


  • Mortal Heart: 244 pages (finished)
  • The Archived: 6 pages
Mortal Heart actually took a surprisingly long time to finish, given that it is under 500 pages... I feel like I've spent a lot of time reading it, but I think that I've read five minutes here and there this week (when I get to class early and what have you). 

*goes off to read more before midnight*

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Day 4 Update


  • Mortal Heart: 122
I am the worst. Perhaps doing a read-a-thon in the first week of school starting back up again was unwise.


Synopsis Challenge: The Archived
The dead sleep, shelved like books,
kept from waking by the Keeper.
When those that sleep in the Archive are disturbed,
she must fit together the remaining pieces to save it.

I think that's short enough. That's my next book, once I finish Mortal Heart (which I will hopefully be tomorrow).

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Day 3 Update


  • Winterspell: 142 pages (finished)
  • Mortal Heart: 68 pages
Well, at least I've finished a book, I suppose.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Day 2 Update

Taking this week off of Top Ten Tuesday... I might do it on a Wednesday this week... (is that allowed?)


  • Winterspell: 152 pages
I'm really crawling than wandering through books this time around...(*casually mocks blog name*)


You’ve just started to work at a bookstore (or library) - what are your top ten go-to book recommendations?
These are just off the top of my head- most are recent rereads... I really ought to work on having a cohesive list, oughtn't I?
1. Dragonfly by Julia Golding. Because I could basically say "Have you seen The Princess Bride? Well, this has the same feel." I've always felt like this is a good intro. to fantasy for some reason. It is a fantasy world without magic in it, and its an adventure. Would a bookstore have it...? That's another question entirely.

2. Nation by Terry Pratchett.

3. Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. High-flying (literally) adventure story, featuring sky pirates, an island shipwreck and undiscovered species.

4. Legend by Marie Lu. This one is fast-paced, and a good first YA dystopia. Plus bonus coloured font.

5. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. This is here because it is a very fun read.

6. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Clever middle-grade sci-fantasy, complete with child criminal masterminds and back-talking fairies.

7. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. An entertaining twist on Greek Mythology. 

8. Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Futuristic fairy tale retelling with cyborg Cinderella.

9. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkins. It always feels like a spoiler to tell the genre, but it is definitely a psychological thriller.

10. Fat Cat by Robin Brande. I feel like I should put a contemporary on here somewhere... this is here because it really made me think about food.

Bout of Books 12: Day 1 Update

... once this post is up I'll be all caught up (I mean, I'm late for the challenges, but at least I'm caught up). Yay me!


  • Winterspell: 170 pages
I know, it is kind of feeble, but it was the first day of classes and I had to watch Lord of the Rings (well... I didn't have to. But I did).


Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt
There aren't any pictures because my sibling stole the SD card from the camera.
1. Find an author with the same initials as you
On my bookshelf, zero. I don't have an author with the same initials as me there. There are plenty that have the same first initial, though.
2. Find a book with the color yellow on it
My copy of Maximum Ride: This Should Have Been the Last Book Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports is basically entirely yellow-toned.
3. Find an author’s name with the letter “S” in it
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.
4. Find a book with a female protagonist
Fire by Kristen Cashore.
5. Find the longest book you own
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare.
6. Find a book with a map in it or on it
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan.
7. Find a book with a face on it (photograph or illustrated)
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston.
Bonus: Find something on your shelf that isn’t a book.
... do notebooks count? Ah. Sketching pencils that I got in high school. 
New Year's Resolutions
I do have a list of new years resolution-y things already, but have some more, in a different format. I'm not really huge on New Year's resolutions... so this is more "here's what I would like to do this year" stuff.
From So Simple a Beginning (the four great works of Charles Darwin, compiled by Edward O. Wilson): Will I finish this? Probably not. But represents something that I want to read this year: natural science books. It is also a ginormous monster book.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: I need to reread this. I reread a lot anyway, but LotR can still be a bit daunting. It is, however, I world that I want to explore again, I feel like I missed a lot the first time through. (Why does this list seem to consist of ginormous monster books?)

Bout of Books 12: Sign-Up Post

... or "Some silly person forgot to post her sign-up before the thing actually started," but I thought that was a bit long for a title. I could blame classes starting back up again on the same day... but it is mostly that I am a forgetful creature sometimes.

Bout of Books
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I'll probably be mostly updating on Twitter (@kelly8434) though I'll try to do as many daily challenges here as I can.

Monday, January 5, 2015

December DNF

Just one that fit my criteria for the month of December, I think.
Latitude Zero
Latitude Zero by Diana Renn
51 pages
I didn't get very far into this one. I read and reviewed Renn's debut, Tokyo Heist, last year. While I didn't love it, it was alright. This one, however, I just couldn't get into. I think it was mostly for personal reasons. The writing didn't really pull me in, but more than that it was that I disliked the main character from the start, because I really, really don't like people who don't stick to their guns. Tessa was just a pushover, and let herself be convinced to do things despite knowing they were not only wrong, but dangerous to herself and others. I assume that she grows throughout the novel, but no aspect of it pulled me in enough to stick around an see it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 End of the Year Book Survey

Number Of Books You Read: So far 50. It was not a good year for finishing books for me.

Number of Re-Reads: More than the number of books I've read for the first time. This has been an year of rereads.

Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy.
1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

The Winner's Curse, I think. I'll be mentioning it a lot.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I was kind of disappointed by Trust Me, I'm Lying. Also, Blood of Olympus was much less than what I was expecting.
 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 
Rites of Passage. I don't usually enjoy contemporaries, and I'm always pleasantly surprised when I do.
 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
The Raven Boys? Maybe. I don't even really keep track of what books I recommend to who recently. I probably ought to, no?
 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
The Winner's Curse was the best book starting a trilogy that I read in 2014. World After was my favourite sequel. My favourite series ender was Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan, despite some problems that I had with it, or Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. 
 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Probably Marie Rutkoski.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I don't generally read a lot of Historical Fiction, but I really enjoyed A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller. Also, as I mentioned before Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley.
 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
I went through Rites of Passage pretty quickly, among others.
 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue will definitely get a reread next year. Probably in anticipation of the Untitled final book. I feel like all these books benefit from several reads. 
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)
Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends, #1)A Mad, Wicked Folly
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)
I actually liked a lot of the covers for books that I read this year. Blue Lily, Lily Blue has a lovely cover, so do Sea of Shadows, A Mad, Wicked Folly, World After and Cress. Talon is overall really well packaged.
Talon (Talon, #1)
11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Kestrel from The Winner's Curse, or Kami & co. from Unmade
 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
The Winner's Curse, or Blue Lily, Lily Blue
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Little Brother had some very thought provoking moments, despite it's other flaws.
 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Poison Study. For something that was on my list for a significant about of time, it certainly took me a while to get to.
 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
I always have such a challenging time with this one... I really ought to commit these things to memory in advance. Part of the issue is that I have a lot of passages I love for a lot of different reasons. I'm still not sure. Here's a couple that I remember loving:

  • The end of The Winner's Curse I really liked from a storytelling perspective, because it adds a lot of suspense without saying "Bam! Cliffhanger!" And really sets up the next book.
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Longest: City of Heavenly Fire at 725
 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
I wasn't really all that shocked by too many books this year.
18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Kestrel and Arin from The Winner's Curse, I'm a fan of couples that feel like equals. Also Penryn and Raffe from World After... talk about a battle couple (possibly I'm still hung up on that time when Penryn fed and Archangel cat food. Maybe). 
19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Kami and Angela from Unmade have an amazing friendship. Unmade was my champion for this, this year, apparently, because I also loved Kami's relationship with her father John. 
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
As in book not a part of a series I'm already reading? So part of a new series, or a new stand alone. Sea of Shadows was really enjoyable, and Rebel Belle was a fun read.
21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
I don't generally have people recommend books to me... I might not have picked up A Mad, Wicked Folly when I did if I hadn't at the time been doing the debut author challenge, though, so maybe that counts.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Another year goes by and still nothing. This question gets more awkward every year... would it help if I said I still lack a celebrity crush too? Or would that make it worse? There are a lot of characters that I admire, but I don't think that's the definition of a crush-way...
23. Best 2014 debut you read?
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
The Winner's Curse was interesting. Also, as always, I loved the world of Ruin and Rising.
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
I feel like I've been mentioning a lot of the same books so let's bring a new one. Rebel Belle had its fun moments.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Unmade was a lot of ups and downs.
27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Hmm...  I don't really think I had one.
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Unmade has its moments, though my soul wasn't that crushed. Souls are very had to crush. 
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
I really enjoyed the blended mythologies in Sea of Shadows. Its really unfortunate that mythologies like Native American don't get more time to shine on their own, but it was nice to see elements in this. (By the way, if anyone has some good books based in lesser-known mythologies, leave a comment, I would love to read more of them).
30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
*let-down authority figure voice* I'm not sad, just disappointed. *end voice*. No I'm actually pretty angry. Blood of Olympus. The only thing that worked for me was the Nico and Reyna parts, and I even had qualms about a few of the narrative decisions there. 

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 
I don't actually know which ones I found this year. I love the layout of Snuggly Oranges, who I found very recently.
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 
Often when I look back at my review I don't like them. I've really enjoyed doing the mini-reviews. 
3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
My personal favourite was the How To Dislike a Book post, solely because it was a) getting something off of my chest that had been bothering me a while and b) kind of fun to write (also c) let me show off my incredible talent with Microsoft Paint *sarcasm*). 
4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I did nothing this year, physical world-wise. Actually nothing. There were two events that I really wanted to get to, but it didn't work out... it was at a bad time- they both conflicted with busy times for classes. I did do several read-a-thons that I really enjoyed, though.
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
I'm part of a book club/read-a-long thing on Twitter (oh, right, I got a Twitter this year), and I always enjoy the chats at the end of those.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
One of my Top Ten Tuesday posts actually: Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For. Interestingly, neither of the ones on the list that I actually did read made my favourites.
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Some of the reviews, maybe? I always struggle with where I am as a reviewer (I feel like my reviewing style is constantly evolving), and they take me a long time to write sometimes... so it would be nice to know what other people thought of the book.
9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Book Depository. I had heard it mentioned before, but this was my first year visiting this site.
10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
2014 Debut Challenge: No. I instead have a pile of DNFed debuts. I attempted a lot of books.
Goodreads Challenge: Not quite. Things happened.
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
Try an incredibly long list of books. Death Sworn has been on my list for a while. 
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
I have a list. For books that are not part of an existing series: The Darkest Part of The Forest, most immediately (it comes out in January). 
3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Either Red Queen or An Ember in the Ashes.
 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
Right now probably either The Winner's Crime or the untitled last book of The Raven Cycle.
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Figure out HTML and CSS. I'm no good at it (anyone know a good book on intro. programming?)
6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
I haven't read any yet... I don't really request a lot of ARCs...