Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Review: Sorcery of Thorns

Title: Sorcery of Thorns
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Genre: fantasy
Release Date: June 4, 2019

Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

eARC provided through NetGalley

Elisabeth was raised in a library full of very dangerous books- dangerous books that whisper, bite, and sometimes invade minds. Spellbooks that turn into monsters if you go about them the wrong way. Her aspiration is to complete her apprenticeship and be a warden, to guard over the books in the magical library for terrifying sorcerers. But when she is blamed for a death at the library, and nobody believes her warnings that there's something more going on, she finds herself in a world more complicated than she's ever known and with stakes higher than she could have imagined. 

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: an equal parts familiar and original plot, with a strong lead and some surprisingly fun scenes.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Review: This Place

Title: This Place: 150 Years Retold
Writers: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, and Chelsea Vowel
Illustrators: Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, and Jen Storm
Release Date: May 28, 2019

Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

eARC provided through NetGalley

A graphic novel collection of stories by Canadian Indigenous people, detailing the past 150 years of Canada's history from an Indigenous perspective.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: A fantastic and informative collection of stories featuring Canadian history from Indigenous perspectives.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

First Ten Books I Reviewed

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

Okay so the thing is that I had blogs before this and they were terrible and are very deleted like as deleted as I could make them on the internet of things, where in truth things are not ever actually gone but that said don't try to find them because they were terrible. Anyway.

The first one's I've got tagged are reviews on this blog (and so the first ones that were really consistent with my current reviewing style (i.e. blathering on at length but without spoilers) are:

1. The Seven Kingdoms quartet by Cinda Williams Chima

2.Cinder by Marissa Meyer

3. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

4. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

5. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

6. Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard

7. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

8. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

9. Cate of the Lost Colony by Lisa Klein

10. Nation by Terry Pratchett

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Some Thoughts on Audiobooks

I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. Like. A LOT of audiobooks. Over half of what I finished in the month of January was in audiobook form, and I think they're a fantastic way to experience books.

I'm not going to have the discussion about whether or not audiobooks qualify as reading... as far as I'm concerned any way of experiencing a book should qualify. I know audiobooks aren't for everyone, but for people who struggle with reading words on a page, they can be a real boon. It's a fantastic way to improve the accessibility of stories. And for me personally, I just really like listening to them while doing groceries, or taking the bus. Basically if I'm on the go, unless I am speaking to another human being or in class, I am listening to an audiobook. I really, really like being read to, I suppose?

My ever-increasing audiobook listening has me thinking about what makes a good audiobook. Audiobooks to me have always kind of been not only just a book being read out loud, but also a way to add something to the experience of the book. Done well, audiobooks can be really immersive things. 

I think it's a symptom of me being me, but I like to dissect. If something isn't working for me, I want to know why it isn't working. I think it's a bit clearer why things DON'T work than why they do. It's like salt- you really notice it when it's not there, I guess?

A lot of this was brought to the surface by me trying to figure out what about the audiobook of The Gilded Wolves wasn't a particularly enjoyable reading experience for me. And I think a lot of it was the narration of the audiobook, rather than the story itself not being compelling.

I've found that a pet peeve for me with audiobooks is when audiobooks with 3+ point of view characters has only two narrators, one per gender. It's... weird for me. For immersion, I've found what works best (for me at least) is to either have:
  1. one narrator for the whole book, or 
  2. one narrator per point of view (I get that having a significant number of voice actors come in to narrate challenging and expensive, and a lot of the time there might not be a budget for it... and I honestly think in those cases, I'd rather just have a single narrate carry the whole story, it feels more cohesive in general that kind of... arbitrarily divvying up the characters by gender and for me makes differentiation more difficult.)
Having one narrator per character is really nice in cases of first person point of view especially (and these are definitely some of my favourite audiobooks). It really does a fantastic job of putting the reader into the character's head! A good narrator can really give a fantastic inner voice to a character.

A single narrator, on the other hand, is more about the feel of the book than the feel of a given character. On one hand I think it's easier to make it cohesive with a single narrator (either because there's just one POV, or it's third person), but other the other hand it can take away from the experience if the narrator isn't able to differentiate the individual voices.

Some favourite first person POV audiobooks:
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Fiona Hardingham as Puck and Steve West as Sean: this audiobook the treasure of my heart, honestly. The narrators' voices are, in fact, so tightly tied up in the characters for me that it took a significant amount of mental effort for me to listen to another audiobook read by Steve West without hearing Sean. Both narrators are really good and excellent at giving a sense of place to the story, as well as having intonations that really add something to the characters. My favourite way to experience The Scorpio Races is actually the audiobook (although I love reading it too... the audiobook is really something). Also Maggie Stiefvater did the music for the intro and it is, dare I say, a jam
  • Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Emma Galvin as Isabel, Dan Bittner as Cole, and Pete Larkin as Martin from F♮ Live: there are going to be a lot of Maggie Stiefvater novels on this list because the audiobooks of Maggie Stiefvater's novels are kind of everything an audiobook should be. I especially like the narrators for this one. They're both good at caustic and conveying "experiencing an emotion that is blotting out the rest of everything" which is... really good. 
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, read by Lin-Manuel Miranda: this is just. Such a good book and so,so well narrated. I listened to it while I was doing a summer job cleaning a factory and it was super nice to have it.
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, read by Euan Morton: Euan Morton is so good at carrying multiple points of view (nine first-person points of view, I think?) and making them distinct, to the point where I never found myself forgetting whose point of view I was in at a given time, despite the whole story having one narrator. (This is partly down to Rainbow Rowell's ability to make point of view clear though characterisation, and partly due to Euan Morton's fantastic flexibility as a narrator, I think?) Simon and Baz are the principle points of view and they're both distinct, despite being narrated by the same person they sound VERY different.
Some favourite third person POV audiobooks: 
  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton: I told you there'd be a lot of Maggie Stiefvater on this list, but it merits this treatment. I just feel that Maggie Stiefvater's books are really well suited to the audiobook treatment, and these are especially well done.
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, read by Christine Lakin: I've listened to this about three times in the past fortnight, which is slightly excessive behaviour, even by my standards
  • Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale: I couldn't not mention this one! My parents discovered when we were children that these were a good way to keep myself and my sister quiet in the car for long drives, so this one has some nostalgic value, but they're also just really good audiobooks! 
So, that's some rambling on audiobooks, because audiobooks are the theme of the week.(I swear I didn't plan that! Have you met me? I'm not fantastic at planning things. But I digress.)

Do you listen to audiobooks? Do you have a favourite listening program? Are you totally dependent on libraries because audiobooks cost even more money than books in other formats? Do you have any recommendations that stand out as absolutely fantastic? Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Some Favourite Audiobooks

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

This one is aptly timed, as I'm just putting the finishing touches on a discussion post about audiobooks now! Well, no now, as it is kind half past midnight, but you know... in the next day or so. I'm really looking forward to sharing that!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

DNF Review: A Crown of Feathers

Title: Crown of Feathers
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Series: Crown of Feathers
Volume: 1
Genre: fantasy
Release Date: February 12, 2019

Veronyka, orphaned animage, has been traveling with her controlling sister, searching for phoenix eggs and chasing the dream of becoming a Phoenix Rider. When her sister turns on her, she finds herself adrift, and resolves to search out what remains of the Riders and join them- even if it means disguising herself as a boy.
Review at a Glance: This one just wasn't for me! The characters and the world just didn't feel cohesive and it fell back on tropes that I didn't love, without breathing new life into them.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Standalone Books That Need a Sequel

I feel like standalones are split into three distinct categories for me: the "this desperately needs a sequel" section, the "I love it as a standalone and it would change the story a lot for a sequel to be introduced but I would still be excited about it," and the "please please let it stand alone" category.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Top Ten Favourite Non-Fiction

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

Okay this one requires some convolution to get from point A to point B, given that I've deviated rather far from the initial prompts but in my brain it goes like this: I got a little too close to this topic last week with the visiting places prompt (where I very much went for the fantasy worlds angle) and I just kind of felt like spotlighting some of my favourites from the current actual world where I reside at the moment.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

February Wrap-Up

 I really only picked up audiobooks this month! That really isn't normal for me. I think part of it is that I've been fighting to make myself read this one ARC and I'm not having a funky time with it so I'm in a state of banned (by me) from reading any new physical books but also (again due to me) not reading it. I think it's going to be my first DNF of the year and I'm not a huge fan of DNFing things so it's causing me a level three crisis.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Audiobook Review: The Gilded Wolves

Title: The Gilded Wolves

Author: Roshani Chokshi
Read By: Laurie Catherine Winkel, P. J. Ochlan
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound        Libro.fm

Treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie has long thought himself willing to do anything reclaim his birthright as head of one of the houses of the powerful Order of Babel. Now he has been ordered to find an artifact the Order seeks, he and his team will all be putting much at risk. And, in this retrieval, they cannot afford to fail. 

Out of Ten: 6/10

Review at a Glance: While it wasn't everything I was hoping it would be, I still enjoyed the experience of this Belle Epoque heist story.

Friday, February 1, 2019

January Wrap-Up

My January book experience was... mostly audiobooks. Partly because I commuted a lot on a school bus (my university bus is a school bus with seats spaced for children 4 ft. tall or less) and audiobooks are great for that! Also for walking and grocery shopping. Basically if I'm out of the house and not in class, I'm listening to an audiobook.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Audiobook Review: Braiding Sweetgrass

Title: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
Author: Robin Wall Kimmerer
Read By: Robin Wall Kimmerer
Release Date: June 16, 2016
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound        Libro.fm

Robin Wall Kimmerer brings together her training as a botanist and her experiences as a member of the Citizen Patowatomi Nation, teacher, and mother in Braiding Sweetgrass. She brings together different ways of gaining and sharing knowledge, and discusses the importance of the importance of these methods in healing the relationship between humans and the rest of the natural world- and in turn healing the natural world itself.

Out of Ten: 9/10

Review at a Glance: A wonderful and thought-provoking blend of personal stories and botanical knowledge, with a message about both hurt and healing (and how ways of knowing contribute to both), showed off to it's best advantage when read by the author.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Review: The Wicked King

Title: The Wicked King
Author: Holly Black
Series: Folk of the Air
Volume: 2
Genre: fantasy
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

It has been 5 months since Jude became a kingmaker, putting into motion her plan to keep the throne for her younger brother until he's old enough to rule in his own right.

Now, she struggles to navigate the politics of the High Court, aware that every passing day brings her closer to the deadline on the bargain she made that placed Cardan in her power. Furious with her for the deception that put him on the throne, he continues doing his best to humiliate and undermine her, further complicating their already fraught relationship. He's a distraction she can't afford, as the she faces the prospect of a betrayal by one of the few in whom she's placed her trust, the prospect of her semi-estranged sister's wedding, and a fracturing of the truce with the Undersea that had been in place since before Cardan's father took the throne.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: A twisty and dangerous continuation to The Folk of the Air trilogy that raises the stakes and complicates already complicated relationships even further.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019 Challenges

I'm attempting a number of challenges this year! I took the last year off of pretty much all challenges besides the Goodreads challenge because over half of the year was an unexpected hiatus.

2019 Audiobook Challenge

Runs January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019. Run by HotListens and Caffeinated Reviewer.

Challenge Details
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.
  • Updates plus a giveaway will be posted twice during the year. The first update will be June 30, 2019, and the last update will take place on December 15, 2019.

Achievement Levels

Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
Stenographer (can listen while multitasking) 10-15
Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+

2018 Discussion Challenge

The challenge runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2019. Run by It Starts at Midnight and Feed Your Fiction Addiction.

Challenge Details

  • Please link back to both challenge hosts and include the challenge button in your sign-up posts.
  • The challenge runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2019. Sign-ups will remain open through December 31st, 2019. (So, you can sign up all year long! Come join us!)
  • Share it! The more people we get to participate in this, the more awesome discussions we can all be a part of and the more fun it will be! So, invite your friends to join us!
  • Discussions can be about whatever you want as long as it’s relevant to books or book blogging (no discussions about things that are completely off-topic like travel or fashion, etc). They can also be about you personally if it’s a get-to-know-you type post.
  • On the 1st of every month, a link-up will go up on both Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight where you’ll leave your links for that month’s discussions. Every month, we’ll update this 2019 Book Blog Challenge Page with the links to that month’s Challenge linky–so you’ll always know where to find the latest link-up!
  • There will also be monthly giveaways, so make sure you check in!
  • Every month, we’ll feature our favorite posts from one challenge participant. There will be extra options in the Rafflecopter for commenting on posts by our featured blogger.
  • Use the hashtag #LetsDiscuss2019 to share your progress and connect with other participants on Twitter.
  • Have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments!

Achievement Levels

Discussion Dabbler: 1-10
Creative Conversationalist: 11-20
Chatty Kathy: 21-30
Terrifically Talkative: 31-40
Gift of the Gab: 41+ 

Retellings Reading Challenge

Runs January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019. Run by Cornerfolds

Challenge Details

  • Books must be read and reviewed in 2019. (You don't have to review books to count towards your goal, but you do have to review them if you want them to count as giveaway entries.)
  • Audiobooks, e-books, re-reads, short stories, novellas, and graphic novels all count, and you can read adult, YA, and middle grade books for this challenge.
  • It's also totally fine to use books from this challenge to fulfill other reading challenges and vice versa.
  • ALL retellings count!
  • You don't have to be a book blogger to participate! You can link up and track your progress on Goodreads, Instagram, Youtube, or wherever you share books!
  • Sign up below with your post, shelf, etc. and leave a comment letting me know what your personal goal is.
  • Link up your reviews each quarter on the post provided! (Bookmark this page to make sure you don't miss a link-up!)

Achievement Levels 

Silent Assassin: 1-5 Retellings
Warrior Princess: 6-10 Retellings
Elemental Witch: 11-15 Retellings
High Fae: 16-20 Retellings
Fairest of them All: 21-25+ Retellings

The challenge runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2019. Run by Novel Knight.

Challenge Details

  • this challenge focuses on backlist books, that aren't new releases, of which there are many that I need to read

Achievement Levels

  • Hmm so there isn't really an achievement list, but I'll be trying to follow along the with the bingo pages. 
  • My ever-updating list of books for this challenge can be found on my Goodreads

reading challenge 2019(1).png

Runs January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019. Run by A Dance with Books.

Challenge Details

  • This reading challenge consists of 3 sections. Fantasy, Sci-Fi and General for a total of 52 prompts which comes down to about 1 book a week.
  • With each section, one Double-Up is allowed. (1 book for 2 prompts.) 
  • In the general sections both fantasy and sci-fi books can be used, but not other genres.
  • Graphic novels, comics, audiobooks and novella’s are allowed. It is all reading in my book.
  • Rereads count
  • You can move the books around throughout the year if things fit better elsewhere and all.

Achievement Levels 

I'll be working my way through at least one bingo card, and hopefully all three sections! 

2019 New Release Challenge logo - (un)Conventional Bookworms

The challenge runs from January 1st until December 31st, 2019. Run by  Lexxie and Brandee @ (un)Conventional Bookworkms.

Challenge Details

  • Books have to be released and reviewed in 2019.
  • Other challenges can be used as well, if you are participating in the Netgalley / Edelweiss challenge or in the COYER challenge, books can count towards more than one challenge, as long as the ones you use for the 2018 New Release Reading Challenge qualify to the other rules.
  • The minimum length for a book to qualify is 100 pages, it can be in any format though, physical, e-book, ARC or audiobook.
  • The New Release Challenge is open from January 1st through December 31st 2019, and sign-ups are open until September 1st 2019.
  • You don’t have to be a blogger to participate, you can link to your review on Goodreads or Booklikes instead – so don’t be shy!
  • If you want to spread the love, please use #2019NewReleaseChallenge on Twitter

Achievement Levels

1-30 books per year – New Release Newbie
31-60 books per year – New Release Pro
61-100 books per year – New Release Veteran
101-200 books per year – New Release Enthusiast
200+ books per year – New Release Obsessed

I should probably do some sort of challenge or what-have-you for Instagram in order to make me actually use Instagram this year, so if anyone has recommendations for that, let me know!

Friday, January 4, 2019

9th Annual End Of Year Survey

The Annual End of Year Survey is hosted each year by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner.


Number Of Books You Read: 102 total, according to Goodreads
Number of Re-Reads: 12 of my total were rereads, more were listening to audiobooks of books I've also already read
Genre You Read The Most From: fantasy

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Review: The Girl King

Title: The Girl King
Author: Mimi Yu
Genre: fantasy
Release Date: January 8, 2018
eARC received through NetGalley
Goodreads        Chapters        IndieBound

Lu has grown up assuming that she will be her father's heir, the first female empress. Her younger sister, Min, has grown up assuming that she will always be stuck in the shadow of her sister. Then, their father names a male cousin, Set, heir to the throne, with Lu as his bride. Lu finds herself, for the first time, lacking the security of the place she assumed would be hers and, shortly after that, a fugitive on the run. She is determined to regain her throne, but for that, she'll need an army. This sets her out on a desperate quest to find a city that nobody has seen in years. Unexpectedly, she finds herself in the company someone who had been a childhood friend- until her family massacred his people in a brutal move to prevent them from holding shape-shifting power outside of the empire's control. Meanwhile, Min is discovering that she has access to a dangerous form of magic- one that could secure Set on the throne, or allow her to claim it for her own. 

Out of Ten: 6/10

Review at a Glance: A story that draws on a lot of familiar tropes, which is enjoyable despite some falterings in character and world-building.