Posted in Wrap up

November Reading Wrap Up

“Dusk at the end of winter, and two men crossed the dooryard of a palace scarred by fire.”

First line in Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Hello, friends. Welcome to my November Wrap where I give you some exicting mini-reviews for the books I read in the month of November. I read a total of 5 books which seems to be my number. 3 of those were perfect, one was okay and my last read of the month was a waste of time.

This was also the month I managed to reach my Goodreads goal of 55 books. Always great. I’m the kind of reader who set my Goodreads goal to something I’m absolutely sure I’ll achieve because I just want to feel acomplished. Silly, I know. Let me know what you consider when setting your reading goal for the year.

As something new in my wrap ups, I’m going to give you “buzzwords” for each book. Words to grab your attention and help you decide whether it is a book for you. I’m still figuring out how to do it properly, but I’m working on it.

Let’s talk about some books.

Thick as Thieves (Book 5 in The Queen’s Thief)

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

Published: May 16th 2017

Genre: YA fantasy

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Friendship, escaped slave, complex characters, political intrigue

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

My thoughts

Honestly, I’m mindblown. Again. I’m so mesmerized with the way Turner writes her characters and their slow but steady development. For some reason, I’m always a bit wary before starting books in this series because they each have their own POV character. As a character-driven reader, I need to love that POV character to love the book so maybe you understand my hesitation. It took me 5 books to realize that I never need to worry about that when it’s Megan Whalen Turner who writes the characters.

Our main character in Thick As Thieves, Kamet, starts out with quite a few flaws. He’s stubborn and a bit of an annoying know-it-all, but I loved reading from his perspective anyway right from the start.

Besides her characters, Turner is also famous for her plot twists. I was so sure that by the fifth book, I’d figured her out and knew what to look out for. Did she trick me again? Yes. Several times.

Basically, I think Thick as Thieves might be my new favorite book in the series.

The Girl in the Tower (Book 2 in Winternight Trilogy)

Author: Katherine Arden

Published: December 5th 2017

Genre: Historical fantasy

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Russia, atmospheric, empowering female characters, winter

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale.

My thoughts

Let me tell you, I did not expect to love this. I gave the first book in the series 3 stars, and I mainly continued with the series because the writing was beautiful. The writing is still beautiful , but the book also gave me so much more!

Even though the story is very character-driven, The Girl in the Tower also had a really great plot which I was sort of missing in the first book. It wasn’t always at the forefront, but I was completely mesmerized by the revelations at the end.

My favorite part of the book is our main character Vasya. THAT is a strong female character if I ever saw one. Her motivations are so inspiring. She knows what she wants and won’t compromise even though people tell her again and again that she should. I can’t tell you how much I loved reading about her in this book.

Author: Laura Silverman

Published: March 5th 2019

Genre: YA contemporary

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: High school, living up to society’s expectations, diversity

Synopsis: Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

Goodreads

My thoughts

3 star books are just the hardest to review. I liked the last half of the book quite a bit more than the first half. In the beginning, it felt a lot like the book needed to check some things off a list in terms of diversity. It was all very rushed so I didn’t have time to appreciate everything. In general, I think the book could have benefited from being longer. There were some time jumps that made me go: “Wait.. didn’t we skip something important?”.

It’s a book that also heavily feature Judaism, because our main character is Jewish. The author herself is also Jewish so I expect that the religious aspects are pretty accurate. Definitely a book I will recommend if you’re interested in that perspective. However, I don’t care for any religion in any book, so that brought my rating down a bit.

The themes of the book is what kept me reading. It deals a lot with the pressure of being good in school and have a functioning social life at the same time. That’s what the last half of the book really got into and I like the way it was handled. If you’ve read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, you’ll definitely see the parallels. I still prefer Radio Silence over You Asked for Perfect, but if you crave more Radio Silence, I think this is a good choice.

The Winter of the Witch (Book 3 in Winternight Trilogy)

Author: Katherine Arden

Published: January 8th 2019

Genre: Historical fantasy

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Russia, atmospheric, empowering female characters, winter

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale.

My thoughts

First of all: I finished a series! And completed my Goodreads goal of 55 with this book. Second of all: I already praised the second book in the series further up in this wrap up. I could copy-paste all of that here because the third book was just as amazing.

However, I want to add that I especially appreciate this book a lot for its overall fairy tale feeling. Yes, it’s magical but also a bit sinister like those original fairy tales. I really think it’s amazing how Arden balanced that. Also, that I was able to get this feeling without knowing anything about Russian fairy tales. I could tell that parts of the story was probably based on fairy tales but I didn’t know what and how much. I loved that.

It’s not a full 5 stars, however, because there were parts of the book that dragged a little. Especially around the middle I was a little impatient to get the story moving.

The Nickel Boys

Author: Colson Whitehead

Published: July 16th 2019

Genre: Historical fiction

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Civil Rights movement, POC main character, reform school

Synopsis:

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called The Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

In reality, The Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors, where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked and the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at The Nickel Academy.

Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Of course I end up disliking a book that is a National Book Award Nominee *sigh*. I’m sorry but I was so bored all the way through, and it wasn’t until the last 15 pages that I got a little exicted. The ending is basically the only thing I really liked about this as the plot twist was quite clever. It wasn’t good enough the redeem the entire book though, but it made me glad I pushed through.

I think the writing put me off because it felt quite detached from the events in the book. I kept being told that these awful things were happening but I wouldn’t see it. More importantly, I wouldn’t feel it either. Whitehead doesn’t go much into the character’s emotions about these horrible things and that just made it hard for me to connect to it all.

I also couldn’t help thinking that I’d heard this story before. These stories about the so-called reform schools where the students were abused have been told before. Both in books and movies, and I don’t think The Nickel Boys did anything special to differentiate itself from the others.

This is it for my reading month. I’m really happy that I was able to finish/get caught up with two series! That’s kind of a big deal. So, now I can start some new ones right? Oh, don’t worry. I’ve already done that.

My favorite read of the month ended up being The Girl in the Tower. I’d love to know what your favorite of the month was.

Posted in Wrap up

September Reading Wrap Up

“Waxillium Ladrian, lawman for hire, swung off his horse and turned to face the saloon.”

First line in Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Hi guys and welcome to my wrap up of the most pitiful reading month I’ve had in years. I finished… 3 books. 3!?!? I even had a TBR for this month because I wanted to read all the sequels for Sequel September. I only read 2.

However, I’ve also been reading 3 others books this month that I just wasn’t able to finish. Those include The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (reread). I will definitely finish the last two of those very soon.

My personal life has partly been what kept me from reading very much this month. I took a big step and started seeing a therapist for my social anxiety, which I probably should have done 10 years ago. I hope it will end up making my life just a little bit easier but we’ll see. So far, so good. Enough of that. Let me tell you about those infamous 3 books I read this month.

Shadows of Self (Book 5 in Mistborn)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Goodreads.

My thoughts

I enjoyed this one a lot more than the previous installment in the series, The Alloy of Law. It felt more like Mistborn. Like we actually came back to the world we spent the first three books in. The plot was amazing and detailed. I kept guessing what the ending would be but I didn’t get it right of course. As usual, Sanderson threw in a plot twist that made me question my own sanity but that’s how it’s supposed to be. I still don’t care to much for the western and detective-solving-a-crime vibes from it. I still love Wayne dearly, but I hate how he’s being reduced to a comic relief. There’s really not much of a point to his character.

The Stone Sky (Book 3 in The Broken Earth)

Author: N. K. Jemisin

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: This is the way the world ends… for the last time.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This final book in the trilogy is probably my favorite one. I definitely liked it a lot more than book 2 which just seemed like a filler book to me. In The Stone Sky, I really liked how it all came together although the ending itself was a little underwhelming. The lead-up to it was great. I think my favorite part of the book was seeing Essun’s complete character arc. How she has developed through her life really made me feel something. I’m still not a fan of the writing style but the story and especially its modern themes has kept me reading. It’s honestly magnificent how Jemisin has incorporated these themes of racism and love of nature into a fantasy story.

Timekeeper (Book 1 in Timekeeper)

Author: Tara Sim

Genre: YA fantasy/steampunk

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!!!

Synopsis: Two o’clock was missing.

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time – and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that 17-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors. And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems.

Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: He is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target, or he’ll lose not only his father but the boy he loves – forever.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Timekeeper was such a surprisingly good read for me. It’s has a very sweet romance and the plot revolves around a very cool concept about clocktowers. It felt very unique to me which I really appreciated. When reading YA I often get the feeling that I’ve read the story before but not this time. Also, even though it had a bit of a slow start, the ending was magnificent. I was so enthralled that I couldn’t put the book down. If you want to know more of my thoughts on Timekeeper, I have a full review for it right here.

That was it for my reading in September. It can only get better from here lol. Maybe this was proof that I should never make a TBR again. I felt so limited and because I use my library so much, it also felt kind of stressful. I learned a lot but I’m not doing that again so hopefully you won’t miss it.

I hope you had a great reading month. What was your favorite book of the month? Also, what is your experiences with TBRs? Let me know what you think of them.

Posted in Wrap up

August Reading Wrap Up

“The king of Attolia was passing through his city, on his way to the port to great ambassadors newly arrived from distant parts of the world.”

First line in A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

August is over so here is my reading wrap up for the month. I finished 5 books which is pretty much my average. Besides these 5 books, I also started The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and I’m about 300 pages into that. I probably won’t be able to finish it before I have to return it to the library, so it will be a while before it shows up in a wrap up as finished. I’m really enjoying it though! But enough of that, let’s get onto the books I managed to complete. The first one is another Sanderson novel because why not.

The Alloy of Law (Book 1 in Mistborn: The Alloy Era)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis: Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

Goodreads

My thoughts

I don’t think I like westerns. At first, I found this book super interesting because of how the world had evolved since we left it in Hero of Ages. It’s a fantasy world where they actually managed to invent stuff like electricity and guns. It showed how the world is progressing instead of just showing a finished product. I found the plot somewhat underwhelming for a Sanderson novel which is why my rating is a little low. If you want more of my thoughts on The Alloy of Law, I have a full review right here.

A Conspiracy of Kings (Book 4 in The Queen’s Thief)

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

Genre: YA fantasy

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: After an attempted assassination and kidnapping, Sophos, heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears. Those who care for him—including the thief Eugenides and the Queen of Eddis—are left to wonder if he is alive and if they will ever see him again.

Goodreads

My thoughts

It felt so good to be back in this world. And we get to see Sophos again after he’s been gone since book 1. I really enjoyed reading from his perspective, so I didn’t mind an absent Eugenides for most of the book. The first half the book was definitely my favorite because that’s really where we got to know Sophos a bit better. The more political plotline took over in the latter half and I wasn’t as impressed with it as I’ve been in the previous books.

I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Genre: YA contemporary

My rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Jude and her twin Noah are close until a tragedy drives them apart. Now they are barely speaking – and both are falling for boys they can’t have. Love’s complicated.

Goodreads

My thoughts

A very sweet story that I imagine many people can somewhat relate to if they have a sibling. Jude and Noah are so different and yet so similar that it was really heartwarming to see them grow. It’s very much a story about grief and different ways of dealing with it. And not dealing with it. I don’t have any experiences of my own that could relate to what Jude and Noah went through and I think that made my experience of this book a little different that others. I felt detached from the story when I think I was supposed to cry. Odd feeling really but that is why this is not a 5-star book. I think it will be just that to others.  

The Eye of the World (Book 1 in The Wheel of Time)

Author: Robert Jordan

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Yeah, that’s not really possible without spoiling stuff. Even the Goodreads page doesn’t tell you much.

My thoughts

I’m a bit conflicted. I loved the beginning of this book and the potential it presented. I imagined so many possible plot lines that just didn’t end up happening. That meant that the first 200-300 pages had me hooked and I couldn’t put the book down. Then it became very, very dull. I might go insane if I read another page-long description of an insignificant inn. That leads me to my main problem with the book: the writing style. It’s so not me. I don’t mind when books are slow paced as long as the time is spent depicting character emotions and thought processes. Jordan spends more time on buildings, clothes and general surroundings which I just don’t care about.

I still gave the book a bit of a high rating because I’m really intrigued about the world and I want to learn more about the magic. The characters are also very good and realistic with much room for development in the next 13 books (!).   

Station Eleven

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Fiction (I don’t know what to call this!)

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This a case of a hyped book not living up the hype for me. It’s a fine book and I enjoyed reading it, but it didn’t make me feel anything spectacular. I liked the way the collapse of civilization was described. It was done in a way that was connected to characters and I thought that was very inspiring. We follow a lot of characters and I liked pretty much everyone but I didn’t love them, so that kept me a bit detached. I plan to have a review up for this very soon and I hope my thoughts will be a little more clear and constructed by then.

That’s it for my reading in August. It was very much a 4 star month for me. Pretty much all the books were around that rating. It’s been a while since I’ve read a 5 star and I’m feeling the desperation creeping up. Next month, I’m participating in Sequel September which was created by Kathy from Books and Munches and hopefully that will give me a 5 star book. If you’re interested in knowing what I’m reading, my TBR is right here.