My Year in Books

Hello All,

Every year I participate in the Goodreads reading challenge. I thought it would be fun to share “My Year in Books”. Here are some statistics:

Total Books Read: 27

Total Pages Read: 10,134

Average Length: 375 pages

Shortest Book: 211 pages: A Wrinkle in Time (my first time reading this classic!)

Longest Book: 626 pages: A Court of Mist and Fury (who else is seriously excited for ACOWAR? I can’t contain myself.)

Most Popular Book Read: Eleanor & Park

Average Rating: 4 stars. What can I say? I read a lot of great books this year.

Overall, it was a great year. I read my first Gaiman (The Graveyard Book), I got into VE Schwab, who I adore, Sarah J Maas and Jennifer Niven. I would say my favorite books were All the Bright Places which was incredibly written, heart-wrenching and honest, as well as A Court of Mist and Fury and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. If you’re someone like me and strong characters are the most important part of a book to you, I recommend all of the above.

What were some of your favorites, or least favorite books you read in 2016? Did you hit your goal? I missed mine by 3 books! What books are you looking forward to in 2017?

Happy reading!

Author of the Month: V.E. Schwab

Hey guys,

So I’ve read three V.E Schwab (Victoria Schwab) books this year and I did not do any reviews for them. I felt that I should give her a special shoutout.

 

 

These are the books I’ve read from her. I want to start by saying that she is a phenomenal writer with great powers of world-building and character development/characterization. Tor is her publisher which also says a great deal about her.

Of the three, Vicious was my favorite. “Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.” Ugh. Amazing. This book is totally and completely morally ambiguous and I love that. For most of the book these characters are pretty gray. Who is a villain? How does one define a villain? I am gravitated to exploring these questions and the characters were well developed.

The other two books are the first two in her Shades of Magic trilogy. I didn’t find the characters as alluring as they were in Vicious. But, if you are a big fan of fantasy, there is a magic system and it takes place in a fantastical world, whereas Vicious was set in our good ol’ normal planet. Shades of Magic is set in 4 different parallel Londons: Red, Gray, Black and White London and only Kell can travel between the 4 worlds (or is he the only one?).

Overall, I would definitely recommend checking out her work, even if you aren’t a big fantasy fan. If not, I would say to start with Vicious to get a taste of her writing style. You won’t be disappointed!

 

Review of “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

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Rating: 3/5 Stars

Pub: May 19th 2015 by Del Rey

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.” -Summary from Goodreads.com

This book has a few instances of violence against women. Dragon grabs her arms and quite literally drags her, to the point of bruising, and early on a prince tries to rape her. Dragon calls her useless among many other things. These things didn’t sit well with me. The Dragon was almost too mean in the beginning. That being said I am a romantic, and I still liked the buildup of them getting to know each other. I won’t spoil it but I loved loved learning his real name and the magic she felt with it.

I am aware that this book draws quite a bit from Eastern European folklore of which I’m not too familiar with (except vampires) so I don’t feel a great authority to speak on that. I’d also be interested to learn more about the language used for the magic spells!

Dragon and Agnieszka spend a good chunk of the story apart, rendering it not really/completely about them, as the sorely lacking synopsis alludes to. (Seriously that synopsis is bad). There was also a lot of uninteresting court politics in this book. It was very long and had a few different pieces to it, I think this whole world and story could have been told in more than one book (and I am not usually the person to say this).

I did like the ending, even if it did feel a little abrupt. The best part of it for me was what Agnieszka was doing, that felt real to her character. It wasn’t all about the love story and she didn’t just blindly follow Dragon, she did what she knew was true to her. I liked that.

With all that said I don’t think this is exactly my type of fairy tale retelling, there was a good amount of pieces I didn’t really enjoy. But the story is there and quite detailed, so still 3 stars for me.

Review “Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined”

Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Stephenie Meyer

Pub: Oct 2015 Little, Brown

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

I was pretty excited about this. I love Twilight and I am not ashamed to admit it and I don’t think you should ever be ashamed to love the things that bring you joy. Yes, people have said over and over that Twilight gives young girls an example of an unhealthy relationship. To those I would say 1: it’s fiction, he’s a vampire, he’s not even human and they are often betrayed as possessive due to their animalistic nature. This was never meant to be a book about relationship advice. 2: in the foreward to this Stephenie Meyers states: “She’s [Bella] also been criticized for being too consumed with her love interest, as if that’s somehow just a girl thing. But I’ve always maintained that it would have made no difference if the human were male and the vampire female- it’s still the same story. Gender and species aside, Twilight has always been a story about the magic and obsession and frenzy of first love.” Gosh, she hits the nail on the head here. We all remember our first love. Mostly, it wasn’t healthy. It was obsessive, all consuming and tortured. You could think of nothing else and it was filled with a childish innocence and beauty. Isn’t that what Twilight does for us? I think it’s beautiful and that my life has been made better for this story.

Now, mushy stuff aside. I love Edythe…I might actually love Edythe more than Edward (shh don’t tell). She is way less broody and tortured and suffering. She is strong and she says stuff like “Try not to get caught up in antiquated gender roles” BOOM (Stephenie probably put this in here to appease us, but I still love it). There’s also a scene where Beau sees Edythe in his dreams and it’s really quite beautiful. I will say I wasn’t as attached to the other Cullen members as I was in the original series, but I think that’s due to the fact that I kept picturing them in the original. It was a little bit more confusing to keep track of everyone.

If you’re a team Jacob fan…sorry guys, Jules role is minimal to nothing. Stephenie hints at a budding friendship but this story is different. I won’t spoil it but the ending is a total surprise and is INCREDIBLE. I wish the original could have ended this way but I can see why it couldn’t (plus we would have had way less books). It’s more practical and I love it, I really do. I’m also really impressed that Stephenie kept this a secret, it wasn’t public until the release day. Considering what happened with Midnight Sun I can see why she pulled all stops and probably had legal documents alllll over this. Good for her. That is seriously difficult to do in this day and age.

I would say if you’re a Twilight fan then you definitely need to read this. If you kind of liked it but were unsure about the gender roles, read it. Otherwise, check your negativity at the door, this is a safe space 🙂

(Also I’ve been really excited to see the fan art coming out and they all make Edythe a red-head even though it’s supposed to be golden. Weird?)

 

Review “Crimson Bound” by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound

Rosamund Hodge

Pub: Balzer + Bray May 2015

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Rating: 4/5 Stars

“When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love, and redemption.” -Summary, Goodreads.com

As much as I loved Cruel Beauty and fairytales I was definitely excited to read this book. I may disappoint by saying that it wasn’t quite as good as Cruel Beauty. Of course, this could be because I have a soft spot for Beauty and the Beast.

Let me start off by saying that Hodge still kills it with her beautiful world building, lush language and picture painting. Girl kills it. I even missed my train stop because I was so engrossed in it. Also, once again a beautiful embossed hardcover and jacket.

One of my only issues with Cruel Beauty was that I felt that some of her characters needed work, especially the second-level or background characters. Going into this book I felt that way but towards the end I changed my mind. I thought that Erec was multi-layered and so was his relationship with Rachelle. A mark of good character building (hello Orange is the New Black) is when the writer makes me change my mind more than once on how I feel about them. I definitely felt this way with Erec ad Rachelle. Towards the end you realize that Rachelle doesn’t always make the right decisions, that she’s flawed, and I love that. She’s human (well, not really). Without giving away too much, at one point she tells Amelie that she couldn’t have gone on without her, that she would have given in to the forest. And as a reader, I believed that.

A big gripe I had was the summary. This is compared as a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood…but it isn’t. At all. I think they may have taken this angle to sell more books, but she really doesn’t need it. The forest and perhaps her aunt’s cottage were the only similarities. Some parts were a bit trippy and filled with odd creatures that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland but overall this stands on its own. Not to mention the summary didn’t even include Erec, who was pretty important… I also enjoy reading her acknowledgements because she always lists inspirations.

Crimson Bound had less musings on humanity and life lessons than Cruel Beauty but here’s one quote I liked: “This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.” (Hodge, 383).

Overall, I recommend and will continue to read her beautiful books. Any thoughts?

10 Best Novels by Poets

10 Best Novels by Poets

How many of these have you read? I know that The Bell Jar has been on my list for quite some time. That’s what makes Janet Fitch one of my favorite authors, her lyrical prose. Poets make amazing fiction writers (except every now and then when they go overboard with the flowery language and metaphors…we’ve all seen ’em).