April/May Reading Wrap-Up

I’ve gotten way behind in my wrap-ups these last two months. I’ve totally slacked on writing my thoughts and impressions right after finishing a book and with an April reading slump, AP exams, and the end of high school, I just haven’t kept up with my blog. So here’s a very brief and bare summary of what I’ve read during the past two months.

April

I read four books and got into a bit of a slump because The Wise Man’s Fear was long and dragging. I also listened to much of the second Harry Potter audiobook.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare | 3 stars
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss | 4.25 stars
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss | 2.5 stars
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski | 4.5 stars

May

I finished eight books and made progress in two more.

 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale | 5 stars
Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes | 3 stars
Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes | 3.5 stars
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | a million stars
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas | (re-read)
~
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas | re-reading, almost done
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale | barely begun

I’d just like to take this moment to say that ACOMAF by Sarah J. Maas is everything. It’s an absolute gem. And my favorite book ever. And you should read it. ASAP.

That is all.

Thanks for reading.

751707090435814070915

Advertisements

March Reading Wrap-Up

Hellooo. I’m excited to share my March reading wrap-up because I got a ton of reading done this month, which I wasn’t anticipating. (And, I stuck pretty well to my TBR!) In total, I finished ten books, two novellas, and one audiobook. I’m pretty pleased with myself! Below is a list of the books I read, along with my rating and a (somewhat) brief summary of my thoughts on each. Enjoy!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
I love this book; I love Harry Potter. This was my first time reading a British edition of Harry Potter, and I quite enjoyed exploring the subtle deviations from the American version. Goblet of Fire has long been one of my favorite installments in the series. It is such a good transition book, meshing the self-contained, relatively lighthearted plots of the first three books with the heavier, more ominous plot lines of the last three. And the Triwizard Tournament is just so much fun. GAH. On a side note, J.K. Rowling has a habit of inserting commas—or omitting them—in very interesting places in her sentences. Same thing with semicolons.
Goodreads

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (3 stars)
I read Shadow and Bone in one afternoon/evening. I liked it, but was by no means blown away by the story. I found the world-building to be lackluster and I saw bits and pieces of several different YA books/movies in this novel. I feel like not much happened throughout the story, but I also feel like a lot of stuff was rushed and happened way too quickly. I am looking forward to the sequel though, as the second half of the book picked up considerably in comparison to the first half (as did Alina’s likability and narration). Not a whole lot happened in the first half that I thought was unique or really engaging. The second half of the novel, while far from revolutionary, did hook me and keep me reading until nearly 12 am to find out what would happen. I picture the Darkling as a crossover between Kylo Ren and young Tom Riddle. Overall, there is nothing offensive about Shadow and Bone, nothing wrong with it, but it’s just fine in my opinion, whereas Bardugo’s Six of Crows was absolutely flipping fantastic. Some happenings were just a little too convenient and others were easily predictable. But like I said, Shadow and Bone is not a bad book. I enjoyed reading it, and I’m planning to marathon the rest of the trilogy.
Goodreads

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (2 stars)
Don’t let my rating fool you—I didn’t hate this book. However, the reading experience was quite blasé. Like its predecessor, Siege and Storm contains many tropes and unoriginal plot lines (along with major plot holes) while simultaneously suffering from a lack of world-building and second book syndrome. All that being said, I really have no feelings about it, good or bad. I’ve been oddly neutral and unaffected, emotionally or mentally, whilst reading the Grisha trilogy. There were definitely some annoying things in this book that would’ve driven me mad normally, but I just kept chugging through in a somewhat detached way. I’m not connecting with the Grisha trilogy at all, good or bad. But Bardugo’s books, for all their faults, are page-turners. My favorite character was definitely Sturmhond/Nikolai (love that name!); we definitely need more of him. And the first portion of the book aboard the ships was the most exciting and interesting. The banter between characters was a plus in Siege and Storm and I enjoyed some of the dry humor and sarcasm. I disliked the brevity of Alina’s “tough leader” stature, how quickly Nikolai became a side character, the execution of Mal and Alina’s relationship issues, and the choppiness and pacing of the plot. Also, the amount of unanswered questions! In my opinion, the best parts of both Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm are the “Before” and “After” chapters at the beginning and end. These prologues and epilogues are written in a detached style from third person omniscient, and they’re eery, mysterious, and wonderful.
Goodreads

The Tailor by Leigh Bardugo (4 stars)
I really enjoyed this novella. Genya is one of my favorite characters in the series, and it was interesting to see some of her backstory and her perspective on her friendship with and betrayal of Alina.
Goodreads

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (3.5 stars)
Ruin and Rising surprised me. I connected to the characters and the storyline, and I finally felt something for the first time while reading this series. Individually, I think it’s probably closer to a 4-star book, but I lowered my rating by half a star because of its two predecessors and because it still didn’t blow me away. I totally predicted several of the plot twists, but everything wrapped up nicely in the end. Nicely as in loose ends are tied up, but not everything is happy-go-lucky. It’s a bittersweet, wistful ending that reminds us of what could have been. I still think the Grisha trilogy could have benefited from multiple POVs. The writing and characterization were much improved in Ruin and Rising, although no progress was made with the world-building and fundamental fantasy questions were left unanswered. I wish Nikolai had played a bigger role in the novel; it seemed like Bardugo just took him out to avoid dealing with plot issues and to make her tidy ending more convenient. Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised by the improvements I saw in Ruin and Rising from first two books in the trilogy, and I found it to be a satisfying end to the series. The epilogue was very well done—it is poignant, moving, and very bittersweet, but there’s hope and consolation, too.
Goodreads

The Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo (3 stars)
This novella is a snapshot of the 13-year-old Aleksander (who goes by Eryk in this story). I enjoyed seeing an innocent Darkling and witnessing the event that catapulted his dream for a Grisha safe place, but I wanted more. I would’ve been more interested to see his early evil days, to see his power begin to take hold of him and corrupt him. But that’s just me. The story was all right, but nothing too exciting. I did like observing the early relationship between the young boy and his mother.
Goodreads

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (4.25 stars)
The Kiss of Deception was one of the best books I read in 2015, and, overall, The Heart of Betrayal was a good sequel. I was never bored while reading it; in fact, I found it quite difficult to put down. However, not much actually happens in this installment and it seemed to me that more questions were raised than explained, which worries me because there’s only one book left in the trilogy and a whole lot that needs answering. That being said, Lia is an AWESOME heroine, and I love the alternating perspectives. Though I didn’t really understand the need for Pauline’s chapters (hers didn’t really add much to the story), Kaden’s really grew on me—I loved his character growth in this novel. The Komizar, too, was a fascinating character. I was torn between liking and disliking him for most of the book, but his beating of Lia sealed the deal with my hate for him. And what an ending! I don’t know where the last book will take us—or Lia.
Goodreads

The Offering by Kimberly Derting (2 stars)
I loved The Pledge and really liked The Essence. However, most of The Offering was boring and pointless. I started it back in 2014, a few months after it was released, and only got 70 pages in before I was bored to tears. Nevertheless, I’ve been on a YA fantasy kick lately, and I picked it back up again this month, determined to finally finish it. I did enjoy the action-packed and satisfying ending, which tied up the multiple perspectives and overarching plot points of the trilogy nicely.
Goodreads

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (3 stars)
I hope and expect the rest of the series to be much better if it’s going to live up to its hype. Falling Kingdoms was neither fantastic nor horrible. It was interesting and enjoyable, and it definitely had its moments. I liked the alternating perspectives a lot. Rhodes manages to get you to sympathize with each character and to understand his or her perspective. For example, my opinion of Magnus changed drastically when viewing him through his POV sections as compared to viewing him through Cleo’s POV sections. The characters are all flawed and multidimensional. Cleo is ignorant and bratty, but also bold and fiercely loyal. Jonas is intuitive and a good leader, though he has a strong temper. And Magnus… Well, Magnus is complicated. His feelings for his sister, Lucia, are disturbing, particularly because he is not aware that she is not his sister by blood when they first develop. Regardless, Magnus and Lucia were raised as brother and sister, blood-related or not. I’m intrigued with the way Rhodes is delving into incest and am curious to see whether Magnus’ unrequited love will abate. I also appreciate how Rhodes doesn’t shy away from putting her characters through hell (and lots of deaths), but I found every major “plot twist” predictable. SPOILERS: I predicted Theon’s death, that Cleo would be left orphaned with no family, that Lucia would reject Magnus, that Magnus is a borderline sociopath, that King Gaius would turn on the Chief, and that Jonas and Cleo will have a romance (this hasn’t actually happened yet, but I’m pretty sure it will). END SPOILERS. Overall, Falling Kingdoms was a decent book, but I just wasn’t hooked and amazed the way some people seem to be by this series. I do have hopes that the series will improve with each installment though, and the ascending ratings on Goodreads serve as confirmation of my expectations. We’ll see!
Goodreads

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (re-read)
Boy oh boy do I love this book. It was one of the best books I read last year and re-reading it was just as great. Lia is most definitely one of my top female protagonists… She is just so dang AWESOME. I loved the male perspectives in The Kiss of Deception, Rafe’s and Kaden’s. I love getting to see Lia not only through her own eyes, but through theirs as well. AH. Read this book ASAP!!!
Goodreads

The Girl Who Fell by S. M. Parker (2.75 stars)
The Girl Who Fell is a really tough book for me to rate. I believe the author had the best intentions when writing it, a belief that is supported by the author’s note in the back of the book. However, it was an uncomfortable and generally un-fun book to read, often because of the topic it deals with. The dialogue (and relationship) between Alec and Zephyr is dramatic, awkward, cheesy, and cringeworthy. He’s such a creep. The writing style left me feeling like I was being told a lot and shown very little, particularly in regards to Zephyr’s family life and her father’s departure. The ending, when Zephyr finally sees Alec for what he really is, was the best part of the book, but even it was rushed and not thorough. I would have preferred to see less of the book dedicated to Zephyr and Alec’s relationship and more to the aftermath of its ending.
Goodreads | My Review

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (4 stars)
I finally got around to reading this classic for an independent reading assignment for my senior English class. I’d been wanting to read it since at least freshman year, and I’m not ashamed to say that my interest was originally piqued by Stephenie Meyer’s EclipseWuthering Heights was perhaps not the most enjoyable book to read, due to its slew of dysfunctional characters and, at times, tedious narration/plot line. However, I so admired the ways in which Brontë connects the stories of two generations of characters (and the influence of the first on the second), and was so gripped by the juxtaposition between Catherine and Heathcliff’s unconventional personalities and fierce, unwavering love, that it has definitely earned a place on my list of favorite classics. For around 200 pages, I was more immersed in Wuthering Heights than I think I’ve ever been whilst reading a classic, so much so that I didn’t feel like I was reading a classic at all.
Goodreads | My Review

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (5 stars)
I really loved listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I enjoyed Jim Dale’s narration and voices, and the story seemed more magical than ever before. The audiobook truly brings the story, characters, and wizarding world to life in a way I’d never imagined—and for Harry Potter, which is already so real to so many of us, that’s really saying something.
AudibleMy Review

BITS & PIECES
I read 124 pages of Red Rising by Pierce Brown before DNFing it (for now), I started re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I got a few chapters into the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (LOVING IT). We also began Hamlet in my English class and have read/listened to the first three acts. Finally, I read a great portion of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

What was the best book you read this month?

Thanks for reading.

751707090435814070915

 

February Reading Wrap-Up

Hellooo. Today I’m here to share my February Reading Wrap-Up, a summary of my thoughts on all the books I read this month. Though I strayed pretty far from my February TBR, I had a really good reading month (possibly the best February reading month ever). I read twelve books and started two others. Without further ado, here’s what I read in February!

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (5 stars)
I read most of this novel in January; I finished the last 20% of it on the first day of February. It was wonderful, packed, and exhausting. I think the show, which I watched first, has really done Martin’s high fantasy world justice, and its producers certainly enhanced characters and plot lines in season 1 that were a bit scant in the first installment of the book series. As far as Martin’s writing goes, I didn’t find it to be overly dense or difficult to follow. However, for whatever reason (though not for lack of interest), this book took me awhile to finishjust over a week. Regardless, I loved it, and it was really cool to read the source material of one of my favorite television shows. I will definitely be continuing on with the series, though I don’t think I’ll be reading its installments back-to-back.
Goodreads

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (4 stars)
My English class read the play aloud in school. I got to read Algernon’s lines for Act I. I thoroughly enjoyed Wilde’s wit and humor, and the play’s satirical elements certainly highlight his social commentary on both Victorian society and people in general. I found myself grinning and chuckling in class whilst reading; the play is really quite amusing.
Goodreads

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
Oh, wow. Where to even begin? For a very long time, The Twilight Saga was one of my absolute favorite series, a real obsession. For that reason, I will always love Twilight. It was so important to me during a critical developmental period of my life, and re-reading it for the first time in two and a half years (and six years after reading it for the first time) was nostalgic and wonderful. But it also showed me how much my reading tastes have evolved. I was able to see the flaws in Twilight that I have blissfully overlooked in the past, and I laughed a lot while reading because, honestly, the book is incredibly cheesy. But despite it all, I still enjoyed it. I don’t know if I’d be able to stomach Twilight now if I were reading it for the first time. I tend to loathe paranormal romance as a genre, and Twilight definitely contains some of my most-hated tropes: insta-love, ridiculous drama, and moody good-bad guys. However, I think Twilight is gripping because Bella is relatable and a blank slate—women can easily imagine themselves in her place. The writing style is addictive, and though not of the highest quality, easy and quick to read. Twilight has always been an escape for me, and this was the first time (out of 10+ times) reading it that I simply enjoyed the story on the surface, rather than sinking in and becoming engrossed. It has become a light, fun, and nostalgic book for me, rather than the best book I’ve ever read omg. (FYI: I re-read Twilight in the 10th anniversary addition, but have not yet gotten to Life and Death. Also, I definitely think Edward’s perspective is more interesting than Bella’s, at least now—I can’t speak for my 11-15 year-old self. I’m still hoping for Midnight Sun!)
Goodreads

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
Despite being my least favorite book of the saga the first time around, New Moon has consistently been one of my favorites to re-read. This time was no exception, as I found it to be a significant improvement from my Twilight re-read. New Moon is better written, and though it does have its cheesy and melodramatic moments (like, say, Bella’s entire reaction to Edward leaving), it lacks some of the annoying tropes that Twilight contains. The biggest difference is that Bella’s relationship with Jacob in New Moon is much more developed than her relationship with Edward in Twilight (which I will concede is mega insta-lovey). I like Bella better in New Moon, though she is oftentimes still so incredibly slow at grasping things. Regardless, I enjoyed re-reading New Moon immensely, and found that most of my chuckling (or outright laughing) aloud was appropriate—Stephenie Meyer sure knows how to play with timing and awkwardness to create humor. If I were re-rating the books now from a completely fresh perspective (which I will absolutely not do—they will retain the 5-star ratings I gave them in sixth grade), I would hesitantly give Twilight 3 stars and New Moon a solid 4. And for the first time ever, I do feel the need to leave a disclaimer that yes, I understand the Twilight books are not the greatest works of literature ever. I rate books based on a number of factors, including enjoyment and purpose. The Twilight books are meant to be entertaining, addictive, and probably a bit angsty and romantic. For the most part, they fit the bill, if you ask me.
Goodreads

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
Eclipse was my favorite book in the Twilight series when I first read it, and it has remained my steady favorite since then (despite the fact that I think I’ve consistently enjoyed re-reading New Moon more). It’s quite a long book, and somehow, simultaneously a lot happens and not a whole lot happens. I enjoyed re-reading it, but I found the pace/plot lagging in some places. Also, I realized that I 100% do not buy into the whole “Bella is in love with Jacob” thing. She loves him, and that’s it. Her feelings for him were not in one way romantic (aside from her considering loving him near the end of New Moon, before Alice returns) until he “tricked” her into kissing him at the end of Eclipse. *Cue eye roll.* I did like how Edward changed throughout this book; he went from being über controlling and overprotective to finally giving Bella some freedom and choice. However, their relationship is one hot mess—Edward can be very overbearing and Bella too submissive. But I can’t even get into that in one short blurb review. Maybe another time… My favorite scenes were 1) Alice guilting Bella into letting her plan her wedding, 2) the infamous tent scene, and 3) the Jacob-Edward face-off on Charlie’s lawn after Jacob kisses Bella against her will.
Goodreads

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
Well, thus concludes the easiest re-read of the Twilight series that I’ve ever had—emotionally, at least. I have always been of the opinion that the last half of Breaking Dawn is the best part of the series. Not only because Bella is finally a vampire, but also because she starts to hold her own. She shines in her new form, taking control and standing up for herself. And her relationship with Edward is much more equal, though that relationship takes the back-burner big time as Renesmee takes center stage in the plot and the characters’ lives. Yes, everything is tied up super nicely at the end, almost to a fault. But doesn’t the movie make up for it, what with that epic vision/“plot twist”? *winks*
Goodreads

Midnight Sun draft by Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
Ah, how I very much wish Stephenie would suck it up and finish this book. If not for me, then for her mother. I find Edward’s perspective fascinating, mainly because it differs so drastically from Bella’s. Both think they are quite transparent in their words and actions, and yet both are insecure, self-conscious, and, in many ways, oblivious to the other’s feelings. I think the relationship between Bella and Edward is better explained and developed in Midnight Sun than in Twilight, mainly because we actually get to see and understand the specific traits in Bella that draw Edward to her. Midnight Sun also enhances your perspective on the Cullens and their daily life, and let’s be honest—they’re probably the most fascinating and intriguing characters in the Twilight world. I would definitely recommend reading Midnight Sun if you love or have ever loved Twilight!
PDF Link

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
Bree starts out her novella as a not particularly likable character. She has no regard for human life, and the opening scenes are… graphic. However, as she begins to form a connection with Diego and, later, Fred, Bree becomes more relatable. She’s intuitive and has had a hard knock life, both as a human and a vampire. I love that she silently aids the Cullens in the face of the Volturi and her impending death. It was interesting to understand the newborn army and battle better, and to see the Cullens and Edward from a perspective other than Bella’s. Also, being a vampire is not all glam and glory, if you’re living the way Bree and her coven did. Yuck. The last line of the book—Edward saying, “Don’t watch.”— gives me chills because in Eclipse, it’s as though he is speaking to Bella, while in The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Edward could easily have been speaking to Bree. Poor Bree. I wish she and Diego had run away as soon as they discovered their immunity to sunlight, or that she’d gone with Fred to Vancouver. Bree ended up being a good person in the end, relatively speaking, and her ending, written from her own perspective this time, was both inevitable and haunting. RIP.
Goodreads

Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer (3 stars)
Twilight reimagined. Sort of. I read Life and Death out of curiosity and a sense of compulsion, and this book gave me a complex. I am rating it on the basis of it being BONUS material, not an actual finished book. Admittedly, it was cool to see the ending, the what if, that we’ve all considered in Twilight. It made me realize that the way Meyer did it with Bella was the better way, even though it was frustrating at times because OMG EDWARD JUST CHANGE HER ALREADY. I thought Beau’s cooking and cleaning for Charlie was pretty unrealistic, but I liked most of the changes Meyer made. I think they improved her writing and the original story, and also made Beau’s perspective a bit more realistic. I think the concept of gender-swapping the novel is really cool, but Meyer could have made it better by going one step further and re-writing the story naturally from scratch, rather than trying to fit it into the original. It was a bit awkward, and didn’t work out or fit right with the original characterization at times. And the names are So. Much. Worse. But again, it’s bonus material. I definitely would have preferred to read from Edythe’s perspective rather than Beau’s, but in that case, Stephenie Meyer might as well have just finished Midnight Sun. I’M NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER, STEPHENIE. Anyway, the ending was REALLY rushed, and a TOTAL info dump. The ending, and the way it was constructed, more than anything, is what really would have detracted from the story and my rating had Life and Death been a “real” novel. I recommend checking Life and Death out if you still have an interest in Twilight. It was fun and interesting to read, but I doubt I’ll ever re-read it. Never say never though, right?
Goodreads

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide by Stephenie Meyer (4.5 stars)
I thought this was a very interesting, thorough, and well-done guidebook. It satisfied a lot of my curiosity and contains a good deal of bonus content and backstories. There is a TON of great material in the guide.I recommend reading this book if you’re still interested in the Twilight universe!
Goodreads

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (5 stars)
Wow. Where to even begin with this book? It is wholly and completely and utterly amazing. Everyone should read it. Yes, it is young adult historical fiction. But adults should read it, too. It’s eye-opening and life-changing, haunting and poignant, so raw and real. Ruta’s writing is eloquent and unique. I read it really quickly; the pages and short chapters that alternate between four perspectives just fly by. The one change I would have made would be to denote the final chapter (Florian’s perspective) as an epilogue. That’s it. I loved Salt to the Sea so much that I can’t even describe what I loved about it. This will most likely make my top books of the year list, and is probably a new all-time favorite. It’s just that good. It has almost a 4.5-star rating on Goodreads. What the heck are you waiting for? GO READ IT.
Goodreads

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (4.5 stars)
I think that, for the most part, Between Shades of Gray is a solid 4-star book. However, I’m a sucker for war fiction, especially set in WWII, and so I gave it a slightly higher rating than the storytelling itself may warrant. Also, I began reading this immediately after finishing Salt to the Sea, which completely blew me away, so it’s a bit unfair of me to compare it to that and expect it to live up to those ridiculously high expectations. That being said, Between Shades of Gray is still a really good book that deals with an aspect of WWII that isn’t covered in many history textbooks. Most of the characters were of varying shades of gray themselves; few were black and white, completely good or evil. Nikolai Kretzsky was one said gray character who intrigued me quite a bit. I think this novel would have been better had the narration altered between several perspectives, rather than being told just by Lina. Nikolai and Andrius are two characters whose backstories I’d like to have seen. And Lina often got on my nerves. The middle of the book drags a little and is slow, and the ending is good, but quite abrupt. There is an epilogue, but many strings are left untied. I suppose it is purposeful, as many questions probably remained unanswered for Lina. However, I was left wanting more. Did her dad really die? What happened to Kretzsky? How did she and Andrius find each other again? Why was she released from Siberia after 12 years instead of 25? So much is left untold. But really, Between Shades of Gray is a good book. I just think Salt to the Sea is much better—more unique, powerful, moving.
Goodreads

BITS & PIECES
I started reading Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie at the beginning of the month and I read the prologue of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak at the end of the month.

What was the best book you read in February? Let me know in a comment below!

Thanks for reading.

751707090435814070915

January Reading Wrap-Up

Helloooo. I’ve decided to start back up with my monthly reading wrap-ups again this year, and I had a whopping good reading month in January. I completed eleven books, and read a little extra that I’ll talk about at the end of this post. Without further ado, here’s all that I read in January, and what I thought about it.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (3.5 stars)
I think this book’s underlying message is very important and applicable to many people. Going into the novel, I expected sophisticated writing and character development. However, The Alchemist reads more like a tale than a novel and the writing style is simple and easy to follow. Like all tales, the story’s main purpose is its message, not its plot or characters. The Alchemist’s message about following your dream is beautiful and powerful, and I think that’s why it is so hyped.
 I found some parts to be a little bit too pretentious and deep for my taste, but overall, I enjoyed reading The Alchemist.
My Review | Goodreads

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (4 stars)
This is the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve ever read. Now, after concluding this beautiful novel, I am sure it won’t be the last. Gaiman has somehow managed to weave the very core and essence of childhood into his writing and the result is a story that will only grow more meaningful with time. Well-written and haunting, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is mysterious, poetic, and lovely. I quite enjoyed it.
My Review | Goodreads

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin, Luis Royo (Illustrator) (3 stars)
This was my first George R.R. Martin book, and I am excited to read more of his works. The illustrations were beautiful, and, for the most part, so was the tale. While I’m not convinced the story takes place in Westeros—if it does, it’s a very old and simplistic version—I liked the setting. This is a heavier children’s book, as war and death run rampant throughout it. Martin’s trademark theme of ice versus fire is present in this story through the dragons. The ending is abrupt and unexplained, and it doesn’t stay true to Adara’s character in earlier parts of the novel. Despite the disappointing ending, I still enjoyed The Ice Dragon, and I’m glad that I read it.
My Review | Goodreads

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (5 stars)
Surprise, surprise… Another first! Apparently “firsts” was an unintentional theme of the month. Eleanor & Park is the first Rainbow Rowell book I’ve read and I loved it in an emotional, gushy, heart-melting sort of way. While I recognize that the book does have flaws—namely typos, and some overly cheesy scenes that would inspire eye-rolling in probably any other book—I don’t care because I adored it. It was an effortless read; all I had to do was move my eyes across the pages and the story and its characters would come to life. I enjoyed the family aspects incorporated into the novel, and loved both Eleanor and Park (and their switching perspectives—they were both so interesting). I anticipated the open-ended ending, but I actually found that it gave more closure than I expected. I REALLY recommend reading Eleanor & Park, and I cannot wait to read more of Rainbow Rowell’s books!
Goodreads

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (3.5 stars)
I haven’t read a Nicholas Sparks book since eighth grade, and while I liked The Longest Ride, I think I liked the movie better (I know that’s blasphemous, but I watched it on the plane ride home from Europe, thinking I’d never read the book). The movie definitely changed some stuff, and switched the order of things around, but I thought it flowed and connected the two love stories of Ira and Ruth and Luke and Sophia better than the book. The book’s portrayal of these two relationships was largely disjointed until the ending, when the connection between the two was revealed suddenly and all at once in a rush. However, Luke and Sophia’s romance is less complicated and sweeter in the book than in the film; the characters seem more innocent, less flawed. Sparks’ writing isn’t the best in The Longest Ride, and I thought the Ira chapter placements were odd and, like I mentioned earlier, disjointed from the rest of the story. However, loving the movie as much as I did, I enjoyed reading The Longest Ride regardless.
Goodreads

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas (5 stars)
This was such a nostalgic read for me, and it made me want to start re-reading the Throne of Glass series yet again. If you don’t know, Throne of Glass is one of favorite series of all time—we’re talking right up there tied with Harry Potter. Though I read four of the five prequel novellas years ago when they were released individually as ebooks, the fifth one is only available in this bind-up edition. I enjoyed reading all of them, both new and old, in one book, and I affirmatively believe that reading the prequel novellas (or The Assassin’s Blade) is totally essential to anyone who wants to read the Throne of Glass series. These stories help the reader understand Celaena, her backstory, and why she is the way she is. They also shed light on important characters and plotlines that appear in the series, particularly in Queen of Shadows. My recommendation is to read The Assassin’s Blade after reading Throne of Glass but before Crown of Midnight. The earlier you read it in the series, the better, but PLEASE read it before reading Queen of Shadows!
Goodreads

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan (3.5 stars)
I enjoyed The Opposite of Loneliness for what it is, rather than what it is hyped up to be. I gave it three stars for content, and leniently granted an extra half star because the book was published posthumously without its author getting the chance to revise. I didn’t find any of the stories or ideas in The Opposite of Loneliness to be particularly revolutionary, nor did I find them to be spectacularly well-written. They were good, but not amazing. However, Marina’s youthful spirit and idealism shine through in her works, and it’s inspiring; her short life and premature death make the reader, especially a young one, take what she has to say seriously. Overall, I found The Opposite of Loneliness interesting and enjoyable, but not necessarily impactful enough to be life-changing.
Goodreads

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken (4.25 stars)
This was a highly anticipated 2016 release for me, and though it wasn’t quite what I expected, I enjoyed the story a lot. Passenger’s genre is quite hard for me to classify, as it is a time travel novel that involves elements of magic and fantasy, historical fiction, and contemporary fiction. I loved the social commentary on race and feminism that Bracken brought into the book, and I really liked the two main characters, Etta and Nicholas. While I approve of their romance, at times I felt that it dominated parts of the story in an unrealistic and sudden way. Nevertheless, after the ending, I definitely buy into it completely. Bracken’s writing style is very descriptive and dense, to the point of sometimes being superfluous, but I enjoyed it in her The Darkest Minds trilogy and I enjoyed it in Passenger. I will say that, after reading each of her previous novels in one or two sittings, I knew that the best way to enjoy her stories and writing is to spread the reading out and pace myself. If you read Passenger and feel yourself getting tired or bored, just put it down for a day! Though I think Passenger could have easily been a standalone novel had it ended differently, I will be reading its sequel. Overall, I found Passenger to be a refreshing, marathon-type read.
Goodreads

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (5 stars)
I. Loved. This. Book. I would give it ten stars if I could. Though I haven’t read Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, I understood and was amazed by Six of Crows, and I honestly don’t think her first series could possibly compare. A cast of characters with questionable motives and morals? Check. A thrilling, fast-paced heist plot? Check. An endless number of twists and turns, impossible feats, and crazy obstacles? Check, check, check. The fantasy elements were fantastic and interesting, and I appreciated the pieces of history woven into Bardugo’s Grisha world. I also loved the alternating perspectives, and how they weren’t placed in a systematic, repetitive order. I do think that reading Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy may have improved my understanding of her fantasy world’s history, politics, and society, but I loved Six of Crows so much anyway that I doubt it really matters. Six of Crows is a new favorite book, for sure, and I HIGHLY recommend it, especially to fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy.
Goodreads

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (4.5 stars)
This book was chilling. Haunting. Poignant. Perhaps it’s because of the eerily poetic writing style. Maybe it’s because of the cold, dark, rural setting in Iceland. Or maybe, it’s because Burial Rites is based on a true story—the last public execution in Iceland. Whatever it is, I found Burial Rites to be a beautiful and compelling tale. The author clearly did a lot of research to develop its atmosphere and to make it authentic. While the first half was slow, revealing very little about protagonist Agnes’ role in the murders she was accused of, the second half picks up swiftly, informing the reader of the backstory and circumstances under which Agnes ends up at the execution block to be beheaded. It’s a slow-build read, requiring patience, but atmospheric enough throughout to deserve a high rating. Burial Rites brings to light the startling consequences of the death penalty, and is, overall, an excellent historical fiction novel.
Goodreads

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (5 stars)
I loved this novel. I’d heard mixed reviews; on the one hand, Regan from PeruseProject loved it and I really trust her recommendations; on the other hand, a lot of readers said it was very slow. I fell into the category of loving it, and my sole concern with Emma Watson playing Kelsea in a film adaptation is that, unlike the protagonist, Emma Watson is not plain. But I think she’s a great choice; Kelsea and Watson share similar values, and I think they’d be good friends if given the chance. Anyway, I loved the political intrigue of The Queen of the Tearling, I loved learning about Johansen’s post-apocalyptic medieval fantasy world (which I found fascinating), I loved the writing style and occasional shifts in perspective (which reminded me of Throne of Glass), and I loved the characters. I think the sequel, The Invasion of the Tearling, will definitely enhance the world-building and answer some questions, but I was wholly satisfied with The Queen of the Tearling as a first installment. It’s very unique, and I can see why some claim it is too slow, but I was engaged throughout its entirety. I’ll be reading the sequel very soon!
Goodreads

BITS & PIECES
I started One Direction: Who We Are: Our Official Autobiography, started and completed 80% of A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, and began reading Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest in my English class (we’ve gotten through the beginning of Act II).

What was the best book you read in January? Let me know in a comment below!

Thanks for reading.

751707090435814070915

 

2015 End of Year Book Survey

2015-end-of-year-book-survey-1024x984

Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner created this incredibly reflective end of year book survey back in 2010. I participated last year and thought it was a lot of fun and a good way to look back on the year’s reading, so I decided to take part in the 2015 edition, too! Without further ado, here it goes.

Note: I completed this survey using only books I FINISHED in 2015 (there were plenty of books I started but didn’t get around to finishing).

reading-stats-2015-1024x278

Number Of Books You Read: 43
Number of Re-Reads: 3 (I’ve gotten so bad at re-reading due to lack of time and a huge list of unread books I want to read!)
Genre You Read The Most From: Hmm… Probably fantasy (mostly YA), but I read a fair number of contemporaries (for me), and quite a few “classics.”

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
QUEEN OF SHADOWS by Sarah J. Maas. Hands down. LOVED.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I have two for this question: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (the conclusion to a trilogy whose first two books I adored) and I Was Here by Gayle Forman (one of my favorite authors).

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
Good: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson blew my mind so unexpectedly.
Bad: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir because it was good but didn’t live up to being one of my most anticipated 2015 releases.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Well, only one person did, but THRONE OF GLASS, THRONE OF GLASS, THRONE OF GLASS. By my queen, Sarah J. Maas. Obviously.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Series start: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Sequel: I don’t have a resounding answer for this one.
Series end: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
Marie Rutkoski and Brandon Sanderson (I’d been meaning to get to his books for forever.)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I read a lot of good books for school this year, but three stand out to me as some of my favorite school books ever, and even as some of my all-time favorite novels.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Ummmmmmmmmm Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. Is that even a question? Followed by A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Finch from Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places and Rowan Whitethorn from Sarah J. Maas’ Heir of Fire.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
I’m not sure that beautiful is the right word, but I loved the writing styles in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I also thought Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns was very well-written. Cassandra Clare’s City of Heavenly Fire had her typical humor and wonderful characters, and I think that, by this point, Sarah J. Maas’ books go without saying. Also, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson was hauntingly beautiful.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I’M SORRY TO KEEP REPEATING BUT THIS BOOK IS AMAZING.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

“It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.” – Theodore Finch (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven)

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.” ― Aelin Ashryver Galathynius (Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas)

“‘You cannot pick and choose what parts of her to love.’” ― Dorian Havilliard (Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas)

“So we’ll just let things take their course and never be sorry.” ― Lois (Benediction by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

There are probably many more that I am forgetting, but those were the standouts in my Goodreads quotes list!

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Well, this is sort of lazy, but I don’t feel like checking the page counts of 42 books. According to Goodreads, the shortest “book” I read is A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner (which is a 17-page short story) and the longest book I read is The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson (763 pages).

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson!!! Plot twist!!! AHHH!!!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

  1. Aelin and Rowan (Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas)
  2. Violet and Finch (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven)
  3. Isla and Josh (Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins)

I have lots of ships but I’ll just leave it at those three.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
You really should have seen this coming, but Aelin and Aedion from Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas!!! And, um, before that, it was Aelin and Rowan from Heir of Fire (if you reference question #18, you will see why I switched).

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 By An Author You’ve Read Previously
C’mon, now. Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, and A Court of Thorns and Roses, all by miss Sarah J. Maas.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Not counting school books, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (recommended ages ago by Regan of Peruse Project).

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Finch from All the Bright Places and Rowan from Queen of Shadows. Runner-up: Josh from Isla and the Happily Ever After.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy), A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (historical fiction), The Martian by Andy Weir (science fiction).

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan, City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Oh, and like all of Sarah J. Maas’ books. 😉

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (bawled), The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (started tearing up in class), The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (angry tears and threw the book across the room), Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (almost teared up). I’m sure there were others.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Evertrue by Brodi Ashton was a fun conclusion to the paranormal romance trilogy Everneath. I can’t remember if I cried at the end, but I probably did at least a little bit.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Either The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien or Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski. I HATE MISCOMMUNICATION. ESPECIALLY IN CLIFFHANGERS. DESPISE IT. NO, NO, NO! (And yes, I liked this book.)

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?
My lovely Canadian friend Annie’s book blog, The Runaway Reader.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?
Probably my review of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. It’s lengthy, but very thorough and I spent a lot of time on it.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
I really liked my Halloween Reading Recommendations post, and my discussion post about reviews.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I got involved with NetGalley for the first time this year, which is pretty cool. I sort of went crazy requesting books at first, thought, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
I joined Lit Up Review as a bimonthly contributor, which has been an awesome experience thus far. I’ve met a few book-blogging friends and I’ve LOVED receiving comments on my posts – it’s a huge blogging highlight for me.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
While I think I’ve actually become more consistent with blogging regularly, my reading life suffered a serious setback this year. I developed other interests that occupied more of my time, and with extracurriculars and school and college applications, I’ve neither had nor made as much time for reading.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My most popular post was the Top 15 Books I Want to Read in 2015. My most popular review was All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Probably all my posts, to be honest. I’d rather receive comments than views because they’re more personal and interactive!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I ordered from Book Depository for the first time and it’s awesome – now I can buy UK editions whenever I want! I also visited Waterstones twice while I was in London and loved it so much.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I didn’t set a goal for the number of books I wanted to read this year because I didn’t want to put pressure on myself and wanted the freedom to read whatever I wanted. I read seven of the fifteen books I wanted to read this year (that had released prior to 2015) and started two others. And I read more “classics”!

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson and The Rose Society by Marie Lu.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
SO MANY. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, The Last Star by Rick Yancey, The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead, Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, Heartless by Mariss Meyer, and the fifth installment to the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, to name a few. 🙂

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
There are a few that I’m interested in, but I’m mostly looking forward to non-debut novels!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
Sequel: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series Ending: The Last Star by Rick Yancey and the untitled third installment in The Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
Write more book reviews and read/re-read more!

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
Like I previously stated, I am way behind on my NetGalley ARCs, so I don’t have an answer for this one!

What was the best book you read in 2015? Let me know in a comment below! 

Thanks for reading.

751707090435814070915