Posted in First Impression Friday

First Impression Friday – The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

“The scent of wood smoke and roses always took him back there, to the boy he was and would never be again.”

First line in The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Hi, guys and welcome to a First Impression Friday post. I haven’t done one in a while but First Impression Friday is a weekly meme created by J.W. Martin and is an oppourtunity to talk about a book you’ve just started. I’m going to talk about The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima (finally!!).

I’m reading it as an ebook, and I’m 16% into it meaning I’m almost done with chapter 4. I’m really liking it so far, especially the characters. That Dancer character has some secrets and I’m so intrigued to know what they are. I’m a little worried that the female main character is going for that “not like other girls”-trope. However, she has also shown some surprising aspects of her character so I remain hopeful.

On the negative side is the world building. I’m confused. So many names have been thrown around and I’m just sitting here like… “where’s my map?”. There’s also a lot a culture involved already and I’m struggling a little to keep everything straight in my head.

In general though, my first impression is quite positive. I was a little scared because this is a YA fantasy book from 2009. Those tend not to age well, but I haven’t encountered any problems or overused cliches so far.

This is a book that featured on my 5-star predictions list and so far it still belongs there.

I hope you found this little insight interesting. I look forward to sharing my final thoughts of the book with you all. Have a great weekend!

Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – January 15th 2020

“Books burned so easily.”

First line in Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Hi, guys. Hoping your week is going great so far. As it is Wednesday, you get a little reading update from me through WWW Wednesday. It’s a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, and it’s meant to give you all a little insight into my reading this week. I’ll answer the 3 questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish?
  • What do you think you’ll read next

What did you recently finish?

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks. This was my first time reading a graphic novel and it was just delightful. I was surprised that I was able to connect to the characters the way I did for such a short read. I mean, I need Deja in my life. Awesome character.

I know people say graphic novels are quick reads but it still took me by surprise HOW quickly I finished it. A part of me feels like I cheated, you know. That number on my Goodreads challenge went up when I hadn’t done the work required for it. It’s so silly and I’m of course not say that you’re cheating when you’re reading graphic novels. It’s only a personal feeling. I’ll stop rambling.

I technically also finished another book: Words of Radiance (part one) by Brandon Sanderson. Not counting it until I’ve read part two though.

What are you currently reading?

My commute book is Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman which I’m very close to finishing. It’s making me feel so nostalgic because I remember spending so much time reading and learning about these stories in school when I was like 10 years old. That means this isn’t really new to me but it’s still quite fun to read.

Speaking of stories I already know, I’m also reading Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. Let’s just say I’m enjoying myself. I’m also experiencing a new found love for the live action version from 2003 because I’m realizing how many small details they incorporated from the book. I’m probably watching that again after I finish reading.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I hope to start both Autoboyography by Christina Lauren and The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima.

Posted in Recommendations

Recommending Atmospheric Reads

“In the year that Summer stayed too long, the heat lay upon the prairie with the weight of a corpse.”

First line in The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

Hi, guys. Today I wanted to talk about the kind of books I usually love: books with a great atmosphere. It’s the kind of books where the author manages to create a certain feeling or mood with the reader through the description of elements in the book. Some authors are true masters of this kind of writing style so today I wanted so share some of my favorite books from those said authors. Let’s get into them.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The book that prompted this post because I wanted an excuse to talk about it some more. Morgenstern creates an atmosphere that is magical, wintery, and warm. On top of that, she managed to make me feel that sense of belonging and hominess that comes from reading about other readers.

Circe by Madeline Miller

In Circe, Madeline Miller tells the story of Circe from The Odyssey, but let’s us see everything from Circe’s perspective. That gives us an empowering and atmospheric read with magic and nature at the core. As a reader, we are forced to feel Circe’s loneliness and insecurity as she tries to find her place in the world of Gods and mythological creatures.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns is a collection of fairy tales from Bardugo’s Grisha Verse but you don’t need to have read anything else before picking this one up. These stories perfectly capture that sinister mood and moralising tone of traditional fairy tales. The physical version of this book also has stunning artwork that will draw you into the stories and their atmosphere even more.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

A classic children’s book with a very popular movie that explores the wonders of a child’s imagination. The atmospheric part of this book is especially prevalent when we’re experiencing this imaginary land of Fantastica.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

A large part of The Binding takes place in the countryside where we follow a boy and his family. There is a certain calmness to this book which is evident in the writing style. When romance enters the story, that calmness is mixed with love and makes this book such a beautiful read.

Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

As you can probably tell from the title, this is a perfect trilogy if you’re looking for a wintery atmosphere. Arden is great at conveying cold in this one so that you will be freezing just as much as the character while reading it (well probably not, but still). These books are also heavily inspired by Russian folklore which makes the atmosphere have this sort of fairy tale-esque sort of feeling to it.

Those were 6 books that I think have such a great atmosphere. In general, I would recommend the authors’ other works too if you want more books to read. I’ve just picked my favorite ones from each. Do you love these kinds of books, too? Do you know of any other books with a great atmosphere? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Book Tags

The Netflix Book Tag

“The dungeon was a miserable place.”

First line in The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Hi, guy. Today we’re doing a book tag because it’s been a while and it’s going to be The Netflix Book Tag. It was originally created by BookTuber A Darker Shade of Whitney.

I wasn’t tagged or anything but I’m doing it anyway. Let’s go.

Recently Watched: The last book you finished reading

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. The most beautiful book I’ve ever read. Both inside and out. Please, don’t let it be another 8 years before she writes another book.

Top Picks: A book/books that have been recommended to you based on a book you have previously read

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. This book was compared to A Little Life by Hanya Hanagihara and I honestly didn’t need to know more before adding it to my TBR. Even though the story sounds like it’s quite different, I’m still looking forward to reading it to hopefully get that feeling of A Little Life again.

Recently Added: The last book you bought

I don’t buy books very often so the last book I bought was in October and that was Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell.

Popular on Netflix: Books that everyone knows about (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t or have no interest in reading)

For the 2 that I’ve read, I picked The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. Both are very important books but in their own way.

Then I picked 2 popular books I have no interest in reading:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Despite its popularity, I know I will hate so many things about it, so it’s not worth my time.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. I don’t like reading about assassins and I’m also put off by the school setting. Then it doesn’t seem like there’s much left of the book for me to like.

Comedies: A funny book

Not actually comedy but Carry On by Rainbow Rowell will always make me laugh. Mainly because Simon is so bad at being the hero that it’s comedic.

Drama: A character who is a drama queen/king

At first, I couldn’t really think of a character that fit this description. Then I found the perfect answer…Kvothe from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. The man who claims it takes 3 whole days to tell his life story and then creates the most dramatic story that builds tension all the way through. Oh, and of course makes himself look like the perfect hero of the story.

Animated: A book with cartoons on the cover

I’m going with The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer which is a Middle Grade so of course there are cartoons on it.

Watch Again: A book/book series you want to reread

I want to reread the Shades of Magic trilogy by V. E. Schwab. I planned to do it this year but I might wait until the second trilogy in the universe gets a release date. Then I would want to reread it closer to that.

Documentaries: A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone

I don’t exactly read non-fiction. Going through my Goodreads shelf, I found one so I guess we’re going with that. Feminsts Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies) which is a collection of essays from 52 women about feminism. Not all the essays are particularly good but I highly recommend the one from Kat Dennings. That one is still making me laugh.

Action and Adventure: An action packed book

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare. A book in the Shadowhunter universe about Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane who go on a relaxing vacation together. They are interrupted a lot which means a lot of action scenes. All the time.

New Releases: A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read

It’s going to be a while before this one is out but I can’t wait to read Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth. It follows a group of chosen ones 10 years after they did their thing which I think is so cool. As someone whose favorite trope is the chosen one, I can’t think of a better premise for a book.

That was The Netflix Book Tag. Since I wasn’t tagged myself, I feel weird tagging others but feel free to do it if you want. I think it’s a great tag so I’d love to see other people’s answers to these questions. Have a great day!

Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – January 8th 2020

“There is a pirate in the basement.”

First line in The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Hi, guys. Hoping your week is going great so far. Today is the day of week you get a little reading update from me through WWW Wednesday. It’s a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, and it’s meant to give you all a little insight into my reading this week. I’ll answer the 3 questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish?
  • What do you think you’ll read next

What did you recently finish?

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I went into the book knowing very little and with no expectations. Maybe that was a good thing because it is now in my top 10 favorite books of all time. This book just had it all – interesting and lovable characters, gorgeous writing and a unique plot centered around books. I loved reading it! My review of it should basically just be 10 heart-eyes-emojis.

What are you currently reading?

It’s the most peculiar thing (for me at least) but I’m only reading one book at the moment. Words of Radiance (part 1) by Brandon Sanderson demands all my attention because the library wants their book back next week. So far I’m halfway through the 653 pages of part 1 and it’s very good. However, I’m starting to get a little bored by one of characters and I don’t think her chapters are as strong as the others. It’s not enough to ruin my overall enjoyment of the book though.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell which is going to be my first ever graphic novel. Excited to find out whether it is something for me.

Posted in Uncategorized

2019 Reading Stats

“Aragorn sped up on the hill.”

First line in The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien

Hi, guys. Today I want to share some numbers with you all. All related to books of course so don’t worry, I’m not asking you to do any math. Without further introduction, let’s get into it.

In 2019 I read a total of 63 books and those contained 28,756 pages. This is slightly fewer books and pages than what I managed in 2018 (65 books and 30,181 pages). It’s close enough though, and those 65 books are still a record of mine. I don’t expect to beat it in 2020 as I plan to read some very big books.

My average rating was 3.6 out of 5 stars. See below how many books got 5 stars.

  • 5 stars: 13 books
  • 4 stars: 22 books
  • 3 stars: 16 books
  • 2 stars: 8 books
  • 1 star: 2 books
  • No rating: 2 books

Three of the 5-star books were rereads as were one of the 4-star books. That means that I only read 10 new 5-star books. That’s not a lot. I had a drought in 5 stars which lasted a couple of months over the Summer so I knew the number wouldn’t be very high. That is really something I want to rectify in 2020. However, I still choose to see it as positive thing that my most popular rating was 4 stars. Those are still good books.

I have been very good at reading a mix of YA and adult as you can see below. It’s almost 50/50.

A little disclaimer: I read 1 new adult book and 1 middle grade. It didn’t make sense making different categories for those so the new adult book is counted as adult and the middle grade is counted as YA. I’m expecting these numbers to change very little in 2020 but adult might end up leading slightly.

Then we have genres…

You think my favorite genre is fantasy? Don’t know what gave you that idea (lol). I could pretend that this diagram would look different next year but it’s not. I do read within a wide variety of fantasy sub-genres though.

Lastly, we have some funny and quick stats:

  • The highest rated book on Goodreads I read in 2019 was The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – 4.65 stars.
  • The book most people also read was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 4,454,728 readers.
  • The book fewest people read was Catching Stars by Cayla Keenan – 1,201 readers.
  • The shortest book I read Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner – 207 pages.
  • The longest book was A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin – 1,016 pages.

That was it for 2019. Do you know any stats like these for yourself? Tell me about some surprising ones in the comments.

Posted in Wrap up

December Reading Wrap Up

“This is it, you guys,” I say as we approach.”

First line in Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Hi, guys and welcome to my final wrap up of 2019. December turned out to be the best month of the year in terms of the number of books I read. I hit a total of 7 books which is kind of awesome for someone like me who has an average of 5 books per month. It was a super stressful month so I have no idea how I found the time to read that much. However, I think it helped that I participated in the Winter Magical Readathon which was so much fun but also probably pushed me to read some more.

My ratings for the month was a little bit all over the place although there were nothing truly horrible. Nonetheless, here you have the 7 mini-reviews of the books I read in December.

Ninth House (Book 1 in Alex Stern)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Published: October 8th 2019

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: secret societies, ghosts, creepy magic

Synopsis: Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Goodreads

My thoughts

It’s difficult for me tell you exactly what was wrong with this book, because I don’t believe it’s a bad book. It’s just filled to the brim with tropes I hate. Ghosts? Check. Murder mystery? Check. Annoying MC who is somehow better at police work than the actual detectives? Check. And so many others that are too spoilery to talk about so I’ll spare you.

A general problem I had throughout the entire book was that I didn’t care about the characters. I especially had trouble connecting with Alex, our MC, and just found her more and more annoying. As the book is very character focused that was kind of a big problem. We get quite a few flashbacks to her teenage years which put these breaks in the current story. I loved when Bardugo did that in Six of Crows, but in Ninth House they mostly felt boring.

The most interesting character for me was Darlington but he was barely there. He was what kept me reading because I was always hoping he would pop up.

As I said, this isn’t a bad book by any means but it was just so wrong for me. If you find the synopsis interesting, I still think you should give it a go.

The Toll (Book 3 in Arc of a Scythe)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: November 5th 2019

Genre: YA Science Fiction

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Buzzwords: Dystopia, AI, exploration of morality and humanity

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, Scythe.

My thoughts

I refuse to acknowledge that this series is over. It is too good the end! Nonetheless, The Toll was a perfect and satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that kept being relevant even though it takes place in the far future. This book continued the trend of the first two books and made me question humanity’s nature even more.

This last book is quite a long one but I’m not complaining. Even though it was a bit slow at times, the book needed to be this long. There aren’t a scene or a character that aren’t there for a reason and every little thing they do matters. Shusterman is especially good at making you understand every character and he doesn’t need many pages to do it. That was really important as we’re introduced to quite a few new characters in this one. It might seem counterproductive to do so in the final book but that is so not the case. Because Shusterman introduces them so effectively, it honestly seems like they’ve been a part of the story the whole time.

I also just briefly have to mention the plot because that is also amazing. Shusterman takes his time to develop it by going back and forth between characters, places and also years. He keeps you guessing all the way through, and it all in all made The Toll such a spectacular read.

The Fever King (Book 1 in Feverwake)

Author: Victoria Lee

Published: March 1st 2019

Genre: YA Science Fiction Fantasy

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Cool magic system, LGBTQ+, undocumented immigrants in the future

Synopsis: In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This book has such an interesting world and magic system. It’s set in the future but certain people have magical abilities that are heavily tied to a person’s knowledge of physics, biology ect. I love a magic system that encourages learning.

This book also has some compelling characters and serious themes that are very relevant to our world today. If you want to know more about my thoughts on The Fever King, I have a full review for you to check out.

The Bands of Mourning (Book 6 in Mistborn)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: January 26th 2016

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Gun fights, a developing fantasy world, complicated magic

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Final Empire.

My thoughts

I must admit that this is a series that I really, really want to love… but it just keeps letting me down. It’s not even that there’s something inherently wrong with it. I just think that it could be so much more than what it actually is. Does that make sense? Probably not.

I think the characters and the plot are too simplistic and predictable. The simple characters mean that I’m not very attached to them and the simple plot means that I’m never really excited or fearful about what’s going to happen. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad book. It was just alright. I’m also still going to read the next book in the series when it’s published because I want to see how the world evolves.

Queens of Geek

Author: Jen Wilde

Published: March 17th 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: fandom culture, social anxiety rep, romance

Synopsis: Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Prepare for some mixed feelings. Queens of Geek is a very, very fluffy contemporary and I think it was too much for me. Too many things in this book just seem way too perfect. Especially the conversations between the characters. We follow teenagers who apparently always know the correct thing to say. As in you couldn’t say it better. It’s very unrealistic, and that bothered me quite a bit because it’s a book that’s trying very hard to be real and relatable.

This perfectness also meant that I missed just a little bit of conflict. Any kind of problem was quickly quenched by those perfect conversations and that just got a little boring by the halfway mark.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed the social anxiety rep and how fandom culture can play a role in that regard. Those things were combined really well and I related to it so much. The social anxiety was also my main reason for picking this book up so I’m still really glad I read it. I just can’t quite look past my problems with the book mentioned above.

Dry

Authors: Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Published: October 1st 2018

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Disastrous near-future, human nature in a crisis, water shortage, standalone

Synopsis: Everyone’s going to remember where they were when the taps ran dry.

The drought—or the tap-out, as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. But now there is no water left at all.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This was just what I needed after finishing The Toll. It made me realize that I genuinely love Neal Shusterman’s writing style.

In Dry we follow a group of characters that are trying the survive in a world with no water. I really liked Shusterman’s character work in this one because he really makes you understand the characters and their decisions. Even those that are the tough decisions that this world inevitably provokes. If you want to know more about my thoughts, I have a full review for it.

Call Down the Hawk (Book 1 Dreamer Trilogy)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Published: November 5th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: The Raven Cycle sequel, beautiful writing, whimsical, Ronan (yes, that’s a buzzword)

Synopsis: The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

Goodreads

My thoughts

I’ve been putting off writing this review as long as I can, hoping that my feelings about this book would change. They didn’t meaning that I’m slightly disappointed by this first book in the new Dreamer Trilogy. My expectations were also very high.

The entire book felt very introductory. I kept waiting for it to start but I had to wait until the last 30 pages or so. That gave me hope for the rest of the trilogy though.

Other reviewer’s main critique of the book seems to be: not enough Adam (will there ever be enough though?). I feel that one too but I was prepared for it and understand that this isn’t about Adam. However, I want to add that there wasn’t enough Ronan. I feel like some of the new characters took over and I just wanted a Ronan-centered story.

However, Ronan’s parts of the book are the reason I still gave this a high rating. It felt sooo good to read about him again because he is such a unique character. And the few times Adam appeared too… I think my heart was about to burst.

I still have high hopes for the series and can’t wait for the second book.

Those were the 7 books I read in December which was a tough month for me personally, but apparently that means I read more. It was also a month were I found a new favorite author, Neal Shusterman. The two books I read by him this month were amazing and I want more of his writing style.

How was your Decemeber? Were there any books that managed to sneak their way onto your favorite books of the year list? Let me know in the comments.