Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Book Hesitation

I will probably never ever get through all the books on my to-read list. Right now, the count is nearly 300. And even with my lofty 50 books/year goal (which I've never managed to reach, by the way) it would still take me an embarrassingly long time to get through that list. And doesn't even include any new books that I add along the way.

I've come to terms with this. Too many books to read, too little time. My sister says that concept stresses her out. My dad shrugs and agrees that really this is the opposite of a problem. My mom seems generally unconcerned by the whole deal.

My criteria for adding a book to my to-read list is pretty minimal. As my Goodreads page says, "Give me a decent cover and an intriguing synopsis and I'm pretty much in." I add books that look interesting, or books that people have talked about (friends, bloggers and booktubers alike). I don't tend to pay a lot of attention to many of the other details.

Though recently, this concept of reading a book because it's written by a certain author has become a more tangible thing in my mind. Because my reading preferences tend to be all over the place and it's definitely easier to avoid certain books or genres than it is to get into them, I haven't really paid much mind to the authors behind the books.

Except in the last little bit, I sort of have noticed. Authors like Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, Marissa Meyer and John Green have won me over. I've read enough by them to know that yeah, actually, I'm pretty much in for whatever they write.

That's sort of a new concept for me. I probably haven't had a go to author or series of authors since RL Stine and KA Applegate when Goosebumps and Animorphs took over my childhood. It's... not weird exactly, but different. The good kind of weird maybe?

Anyway, the point of this is that this awareness has led to some interesting side-effects. Though, it's probably just as correlated to the fact that I actually have half a clue about what's going on in YA fiction these days. But it's brought author awareness to the forefront of my mind.

And not necessarily in a good way.

Hence the "hesitation" part of the title of this post.

What happens when a book delivers on my requirements of a decent cover and intriguing synopsis but I have not been particularly fond of that author's other writing?

The specific example that's been on my mind lately is Uninvited by Sophie Jordan. Let me show you what I mean...

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

Sounds cool, right? Nature vs nuture vs society and all that. Love it. And the cover is a little meh, but the DNA strands in her hair are pretty wicked.

So what's the hesitation? My brain had been running Jordan's name through my mind for a while before it dawned on me. Firelight. That one about teenage shapeshifting dragons. (The one that's not Seraphina.)

I probably would not have finished Firelight had I not been stuck on an airplane. The world was decent, but the whole thing was overshadowed by characters who were unlikeable at best and obnoxious at worst. The writing and plot was forgettable. So much so that I actually had a moment last year where I was trying to think about this book I was sure I'd read and... oh, right, it was Firelight. I did a lot of skimming and scanning of that book.

So I'm reluctant to try Uninvited, because my experiences with Jordan as an author have been less than stellar. And with so many (potentially) great books already on my tbr, why gamble with my time like that?

Of course, there's a flip side to this story. And that is Maggie Steifvater.

Shiver was not my thing. My feelings towards it were lukewarm at best. So I did a lot of casually ignoring her other books. And then I picked up The Raven Boys. Good cover, intriguing synopsis. "Hm," I thought. But I waffled on it for quite some time. After all, I'd been 'burned' before. Metaphorically. Or at least put off.

Eventually, curiousity won out and I signed The Raven Boys out from my library. And it ended up being one of my favourite books of the year. It's sequel The Dream Thieves will probably make that list at the end of 2014.

It's enough that I am seriously considering checking out The Scorpio Races because, wow. Wow. (Also there is not enough YA standalone fiction in the universe. Why does everything have to be a trilogy WHY.)

So, I guess my question is two-fold:

Does the author of a book matter to you? Does it register for you at all or do you just read whatever strikes your fancy?

And do you give authors you disliked second chances? Has it worked out?

Let me know what you think!

(Should I read Uninvited?)

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Review || Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake ★★☆☆☆
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.


This wasn't a bad book by any means. And it's not like it wasn't enjoyable at times. But I don't know, it just never really felt necessary to me. Does that make any sense?

Okay, let me explain. Anna Dressed in Blood didn't answer all the questions, and I get that. What happened to Anna? What happens to any ghost after the athame does its job? What's with the athame anyway? This book answers those questions, and does a pretty good job with it too. I appreciated the backstory and history into this universe. It was something that I'd been curious about in Anna.

But truthfully? This just feels like part 2 of the same book. I don't mean to say that's a bad thing, though. I felt the ending of Anna was accelerated and abrupt. Sure, it tied off the plot strings loosely, but it was still obviously done with haste. And yes, I recognize that it was done for the sake of the sequel.

But again, this is where I struggle with the necessary bit. With some fiddling and reworking, I think Anna and Nightmares could've been one (admittedly big) packaged deal. One standalone. Give me the mythos and backstory. Make me wonder what's happened to Anna. Deliver on the twists of the Obeahman and make them hurt. Show me Carmel's reluctance, Cas' mother's struggle, Morfran's voodoo. Do something more compelling than just dropping Jestine in my lap.

I understand why this was two books, but I think it would've been a stronger package otherwise. I never felt as gripped by this book as I did with Anna. While the last 50 pages or so certainly got me turning them with speed, it wasn't until almost the very end that I really felt anything for these characters again. Which is a shame.

That said, it was a satisfying ending. Questions were answered and there certainly is closure. Without spoiling anything, I have to admit that I'm pleased with the direction Blake took this for the ending. I think anything else would've been too cheesy or overwrought.

Still, I can't help but feel a little let down by this sequel.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Friday Faves || Favourite Childhood Books

Friday Faves is a feature I'm trying to get rolling about your favourite (bookish) things! I love hearing people talk about their favourites! They get so excited and occasionally incoherent. It's such fun.

A list of all my planned topics so far is here. Feel free to link up if you get inspired (and suggest future ideas too!)

This week I'm getting nostalgic and talking about my favourite childhood books. To clarify, I'm going to write about books I read as a teen and younger. So literally books from my childhood. But feel free to interpret this however you'd like.

(Interesting aside: I did this list in reverse chronological order based on when I read them as a kid.)

 Everworld by KA Applegate ★★★★☆
David's life was pretty normal. School. Friends. Girlfriend. Actually, Senna was probably the oddest aspect of his life. She was beautiful. Smart. But there was something very different about her. Something strange.

And on the day it began, everything happened so quickly. One moment, Senna was with him. The next, she was swallowed up by the earth, her screams echoing from far, far away. David couldn't just let her go. Neither could the others. His friends and hers. So, they followed. And found themselves in a world they could have never imagined. 

Now they have to find Senna and get home without losing their lives. Or their minds. Or both...

This series was probably one of the most fondly remembered series of my young adult life. Recommended to me by my best friend in... 10th? grade, it was such a pleasure. Mythology, personal demons, parallel worlds... this series was fantastic. The books pictured above are the entire series and they cycle through different perspectives of the main cast of characters.

I feel like I ought to do the "If you liked Percy Jackson...." schtick here, because they're not that dissimilar. But really, if you love mythology and ensemble casts, check this out.

 Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling ★★★★★
Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?

I almost feel like I don't need to explain this. Except I totally do.

This is my favourite Harry Potter book, you guys. (Remember, I bailed after OotP, so keep that in mind too.)

This is almost 100% because my love for Remus and Sirius is ridiculous. They are two of my favourite characters in the entire series. And the backstory and plot twist and reconciliation in this book just. Ugh. Happy sighs. (Sirius' absurd death is likely also responsible for my abandoning ship on this series, but I'll own up to that.)

Sighs. This book.

 Animorphs by KA Applegate ★★★★☆
Sometimes weird things happen to people. Ask Jake. He may tell you about the night he and his friends saw the strange light in the sky. He may even tell you about what happened when they realized the "light" was only a plan -- from another planet. Here's where Jake's story gets a little weird. It's where they're told that the human race is under attack -- and given the chance to fight back.

Now Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias, and Marco have the power to morph into any animal they choose. And they must use that power to outsmart an evil that is greater than anything the world has ever seen...

Okay, okay, guilty as charged. My childhood self had a thing about KA Applegate. I read this long before Everworld, though.

Now, there are 50-something books in this series. If I'm being honest, I sort of lost the plot somewhere around book 20 and then dropped the series altogether. But this series features some of my first and most beloved characters. (Tobias and Ax, if you were wondering. I still plan on naming a future child Tobias, that is how much this series has impacted me.)

 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen ★★★★☆
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother has given his as a present--and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart ever since his parents' divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity, or despair--it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.

I posted about my reread of Hatchet in December. As a kid I probably would've given it 5 stars... as an adult I gave it 3. So I figured I'd go for middle ground on this entry.

This was a grade six experience. I remember this book being the answer to the question, "What's your favourite book?" There was just something about this book, something about the age I was when I read it. It had staying power.

I analysed this in a little more detail in my proper review, which you can find here.

 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson ★★★★☆
Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone.

That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits.

This was required reading in my fifth grade class and to this day, I can still remember reading parts of this in class. My teacher read this every year and I remember us getting towards the end of the book and she said, "This is the only chapter I'm not reading aloud. I can't do it. You'll have to read it yourselves."

(If you've read this book, you'll know what chapter she's talking about. It's one of the first times I remember a book ever making me cry.)

Again, this hasn't been reread since then, but it was a definitive moment in my childhood reading.

... Well, that about does it! What about you? What books do you remember fondly from childhood? Have you reread them since? Have you read any of these books?

Let me know!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Top 10 Tuesday || Reading Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a new category every week!

This week we're looking at the top 10 things on my reading wishlist. Also known as, top 10 things I wish more authors would write about.

How long do you think this is going to take to turn into a list of my favourite fanfic tropes? (Spoilers: The answer is not long at all.)

1. Incidentally Queer Characters
I mentioned this yesterday in my review of Ash, but there is a criminal lack of good LGBT characters in fiction. Oh sure, there's a lot of terribly tragic narratives that deal with the fear of coming out, or death and disease, or discrimination. And it's not to say that those narratives aren't worthwhile--because they certainly are. But it's time for chick-lit/rom-com queer romances. It's time for queer dragonslayers and magic users and space pirates. It's time for a narrative featuring LGBT characters where, yes that is a facet of their identity, but really we're too busy paying attention to the epic quest we have to go on. Or what have you. I am so ready for this. In every genre. All the time. YA or adult. (Please recommend any and all books that do this immediately! I need more of this in my life.)

2. Female Character Diversity
The "trend" lately--and YA seems to be particularly guilty of this--is the "strong female character". Constantly on a quest to prove herself, she doesn't need a man, doesn't need rescuing and is often abrasive. Okay, that's cool, I get it. But not every female character has to be like that. 
Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong. Write characters who are people. (Source.)
See also this article. And enough of this. Give me diversity. Give me multi-dimensional female characters. Give me equal representation and Mary Sues and interesting, varied women.

3. Unconventional Romances
Okay, so I feel like this partially goes with #1, but it's mostly borne from my irritation with love triangles. YA is super bad for this because it feels like almost every book with some sort of romance in it has to have a love triangle. Who decided this was a requirement? And it's usually the same old female narrator can't pick between two boys. I will concede that sometimes this is done compellingly. Which, good, keep at it. But most of the time it's like, ugh can we just get back to the plot I don't even care.

There are a lot of ways this could be remedied to make it more compelling. Like, girl likes boy 1, boy 1 likes boy 2, boy 2 likes girl. Ta-dah, conflict. Or, hey, let's just get everyone to hook up.

Okay, so I realize that threesomes are probably out of the question in YA. But ugh, it would just solve so many problems. (I remember thinking this about Matched, since miraculously the two boys in question actually interacted with each other. That story would've been so much more compelling with threesomes.)

Anyway, I feel like New Adult fiction might be able to tackle this? And adult fiction, I guess. But I want to make it clear that this doesn't necessarily have to be explicit or erotic. Like, okay, there's nothing wrong with a steamy sex scene every now and then, but to my mind it doesn't really have to be treated any differently than your standard YA romance. Like, PG-13 threesomes.

Have I scared you all off? I feel like I'm way out there on this TTT and I'm just rambling. Oops!

4. Reincarnation/Soulmates/Destiny
... This is 110% Sailor Moon's fault. It's funny, isn't it, looking back on your formative years and realizing how much that media shaped your current preferences?

And to be clear, I don't mean this as a plug for the insta-love trope. That bothers me as much as the next person. But there's something to be said about that connection between characters. Or a shared history and past. That feeling of "I know you..."

UGH. Send help. I will (and have) read mediocre fiction on this premise. It is my biggest indulgence. I love it so.

5. Identity Reveals
This is also Sailor Moon's fault. But ugh, I just have this huge thing for characters with multiple personas who know each other but haven't put two and two together yet. And then, predictably in a big crisis moment all is revealed and it changes everything.

And yes, there is usually a romance element here too. But I can't even explain what this does to me when it's done right. It's just so glorious. Dramatic irony at its finest.

Superhero stuff tends to do this often and occasionally well. I just need more of it all the time.

6. More POC characters
If there's a theme to this post, it's representation. Give me diversity!

7. Standalones
Series are all well and good, but sometimes I don't think they're always necessary? It'd be nice to read a contained plot--beginning, middle and end--and be satisfied. Not everything has to be a trilogy for crying out loud!

8. Diverse settings
One of the most eye-opening things I've learned in recent years is about the so-called Dark Ages. A not so spectacular time for most of Western Europe, but it was a time of great enlightenment and prosperity in the Muslim world.

Give me historical fiction with those kinds of settings. Show me alternate histories and timelines without Europe/American at the centre. Write more sci-fi/fantasy based on different mythologies. I mean, I love me some Greco/Roman/Norse myths, but there's so much more than just that!

9. More mythology inspired works
I feel so strong about this I think it needs it's own category. This predominately comes from the fact that I read The Song of Achilles last year and just loved it. I was familiar enough, in passing, with The Iliad to get the basics, but it was still immensely enjoyable on its own. It was a solid retelling of the myth without me actually having to wade through The Iliad.

So more of that, please. Retelling, reinvention, reimaginings. More myths!

10. Less unnecessary romance
I feel like I need to offset my insanity from earlier in this list by clarifying that while I am all for unconventional romances in fiction, that not everything needs to have romance in it either.

A boy character and a girl character who are just friends? GASP. Or whatever. I get it. And as much as I might play cynic, I really am a sucker for a good romance. But don't force it. Please don't force it. And please for the love of everything that is good in this world stop playing creepy and abusive behaviour off as romantic. No. No no no no no. Enough.

Do it right. Do it differently. But don't feel like you have to do it all the time. There are other vehicles to drive your plot.


Well. That certainly turned into something, didn't it?

Please feel free to throw some recs my way! And link me to your TTT!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Review || Ash by Malinda Lo

 Ash by Malinda Lo ★★☆☆☆
Cinderella retold

In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

Truthfully, this probably wades into 2.5 star territory in the sense that I liked it well enough but it never really did anything truly spectacular to my mind.

One of the reasons I had this on my tbr shelf was the premise. I am always on the lookout for books with LGBT characters and content. And not just the stuff of tragic Lifetime movies, but representation in which a character is incidentally queer.

Ash certainly fits that bill. Her friendship and attraction to both Sidhean and Kaisa are developed organically and don't feel forced. And I was pleasantly surprised that her romance with Kaisa didn't illicit much controversy. It simply was and was allowed to be.

That said, I had problems with the book. Overall, it's a short read--not even breaking 300 pages. And while I could appreciate its simplicity, it felt like a short book. By that, I mean I think it could have benefited from being more fleshed out. It could've explored the depth and breadth of the world, focused in on more of the details of Ash and her relationships. It could have made me feel more attached.

Because while I enjoyed the mythos built up in the world, I wanted to explore it more. There were so many lovely myths, so many hinted backstories that never were fully realized. Though I liked Sidhean and Kaisa well enough as characters, some of the other supporting cast fell horribly flat. Ash's parents had depth, but they were both dead by the time things really got rolling. Ash's stepmother was flat, "evil" and cruel for its own sake without a lot of explanation or rationalization. There were a few shining moments for Ash's stepsisters--where we glimpsed the potential for them to be fully realized and complex people--but it wasn't really followed up on. Or rather, since so much of the focus was on Ash and the web she'd entangled herself in, they were relegated to the periphery and stayed flat. Which is a shame and a missed opportunity.

As the book progressed, things felt more and more rushed. The climax and resolution were abrupt and sudden. As a result, there wasn't really a sense of urgency, I didn't think. We realize, along with Ash, what kind of mess she's gotten herself into. There was potential for complex reflection and soul-searching here. But instead, Ash has a great and sudden realization and magically (except not actually) solves her major problem. The tension wasn't allowed to build and thus the stakes never felt that high. Plus, I was only casually invested at best, so I didn't feel that sense of urgency.

Still, it's not as though I regret picking this up. Though as Cinderella retellings go, I'd definitely pick and recommend Cinder over this.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Review || The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds #1) by Alexandra Bracken ★★★★☆
When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she's on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her-East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

The internet has been collectively raving about this series since I first tuned into booktube in December. So I finally decided to cave and see what all the fuss was about.

I have to admit, at first I was a little wary. The first time I sat down with this book I read 80 or so pages. And by that point I wasn't terribly impressed. I was having a hard time getting into the writing, the worldbuilding was neat, but not very well explained, and Ruby--our narrator--wasn't really doing much for me.

I put it down and took a break. Later that evening I read another 100 pages. By then, things were starting to get rolling. The story had found it's groove and things were happening. Ruby became someone I could relate to and enjoy. I grew desperately attached to Liam, Chubs and Zu. I devoured the rest of the book quickly and with glee.

The book still has its flaws. The writing gets stronger as the story unfolds. Though there were a few times when characters were called by name before Ruby was introduced to them or before she was referring to them in that way. Since the story is first person, this bothered me. And given that Chubs' real name actually managed to stay on lockdown for as long as it did, this could've been easily fixed. Call it a nitpick or a pet peeve if you want, but it did throw me out of the immersion of the story when it happened.

That said, there were some genuinely amazing moments in this story. While the overarching plot points and major twists weren't too hard to puzzle out, they were still satisfying. I'm not going to spoil anything, but the end of chapter 23 and the beginning of chapter 24 actually made my heart stop a little. I had to close the book and force myself to breathe.

And ugh, that ending. While I think some of the parts leading up to... well, everything hitting the fan, felt a little rushed, there's no doubt that the urgency was there. The stakes were high--and they felt high. I was frantically turning pages. I may have smacked the cover a number of times and hurled verbal abuse at the book once I was finished. But in a good way.

I am desperate for book 2. Part of my goal this year is to read through more series and actually complete them. But I actually want to dive right back in to Never Fade, which isn't always the case with other series. Unfortunately, the school library copy is checked out by a colleague and overdue. (I may or may not have confronted her about it after school today! She promised to bring it back soon.)

Despite the slow and wary start, I'm excited to see where this series will go. With the third book coming out this year, I think I picked a good time to jump aboard this ship.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday Faves || Favourite Covers

Oops. Sorry this is a little late! This week got away from me.

Friday Faves is a feature I'm trying to run weekly because I love it when people get to talk about the things they love! You can check out previous and future topics here.

This week's theme is Favourite Covers.

And yeah, we can throw in the "don't judge a book by it's cover" in here. But you have to admit that sometimes there are covers that are just so lovely. I may or may not have created a wishlist at Book Depository just so I could moon over the pretty covers of books I may or may not buy someday.

I'm not really going to explain my choices much, because I feel like the rest of the text would just be me oohing and ahhing and there's only so many variations of that you can stand before getting bored. Some of these books I have actually read, but some are definitely on this list just because I think they're stunning.

So, without further ado!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Bookshelf Reorganization

I live in a 600 sq ft apartment. It's just me, so that's plenty of space. But the one thing I lack is storage space. And, well, wall space. I have one bookshelf. One. There is literally no room in my apartment for another one.

The one bookshelf is, predictably, a disaster. Made worse by the fact that late in December I discovered Book Outlet and have placed three orders since then. The shelves are overflowing and it looks terrible. I resolved to reorganize it ASAP.

The problem is, I really like things to be organized. If I had it my way, I'd have unlimited shelf space and I'd be able to put all my books alphabetically by author's last name (and then by publication date if I own more than one book by the same author).

Alas, you can barely tell what's going on here, even though at one time there used to be some semblance of order. I decided to try and pile my to-be-reads together and my already-read-and-keeping-forever books together. And because of my serious lack of space, I gave up on the idea of order and just decided to sort by relative size--keeping series together, though!

Here all all those books on the floor. You'll notice I left my bottom shelf alone. That's full of my single issues, trade paperbacks (hiding behind the blue binder) and manga. The other books off to the side are books I'm borrowing from friends and don't want to accidentally mix in with my collection.

I tried to sort everything somewhat as I pulled it all off the shelves, but this was quite the process. It took me about an hour altogether.

That looks way better as far as I'm concerned. Part of me still cringes a bit because things are alphabetized, but I'll get over it. And I'll console myself with thoughts of the day I buy my own place and get to have lots of bookshelves!

For the most part, the top shelf is unread books. Two exceptions off to the far right include first books in series I want to re-read this year. (And hopefully complete their series!)

The first half-ish of the second shelf is also unread, with The Name of the Wind hanging out front because it was so chunky and I actually want to read it this year so I wanted easy access. The rest is already read and keeping forever, with my two most recent reads hanging off the far right side.

One day, when I inhabit the mythical utopia of all the bookshelves, I think I'll probably have a harder time letting books go. Hell, since I started watching booktube and blogging in December I've had some fantasies about having a real collection of my own. (This is probably Katytastic's fault since, have you seen her shelves?)

Regardless, before all that and before Book Outlet, I sort of jumped at any chance I got when it came to bargain books. As a result, I have quite a few books that I think I bought solely because I recognized the name and/or author. But upon realistic reflection, I'm not sure when I'll ever get around to these books. And if I have a sudden change of heart, they wouldn't be hard to scoop up from the library.

 So I begrudgingly made a to-donate pile. Two of these books are books I have actually read (the single issue comics aside). Ex-Heroes and Earth Girl were both good books, but I'm just not sure they're good enough for me to want to keep forever.

My keep forever books typically fall into two categories: books I love to death and want to have on hand to re-read or even just flip through for favourite passages (see: The Song of Achilles) or books that I want to have to lend to friends because you just have to read this book.

Again, one day when I'm not so desperate for shelf space I can seem myself hanging on to a lot more. But for now, I'm okay with letting these go.

Now I just have to figure out where to take them... My public library does a paperback exchange every summer, but do I really want to hold onto these until June? I wish we had a second hand bookstore in town... It seems ridiculous that we don't given that we're actually a city of 60k, but alas. The nearest 'metropolis' is 3 hours away by car, but they have their fair share of second hand shops.

Hmm. Decisions, decisions!

Anyway, that was my evening. And since it was book related, I thought I'd post about it. How is your bookshelf organized? How do you deal with lack of shelving space? Do you ever have to purge your collection? How do you decide what stays and what goes?

Let me know!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Top 10 Tuesday || 2014 Debuts

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a new category every week!

This week we're listing the most anticipated 2014 debut novels. And at first, I wasn't sure I'd be able to come up with 10... but after cruising through a few posts in the link up, I think I need to calm down!! (My to-read list is already approaching 300 books on its own, I don't need any more!)

The Murder Complex by Linsday Cummings (June 10)
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Red Rising by Pierce Brown (January 28)
Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (January 28)

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

 But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones (July 15)
When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against he government that could cost them their lives.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (April 8)
Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

Every time Harry dies, he is reborn in exactly the same time and place, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, and nothing ever changes. Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears by his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message back with you. It has come down from child to adult, child to adult, passed back down the generations from a thousand years forward in time. The message is that the world is ending, and we cannot prevent it. So it’s now up to you.”

This is the story of what Harry August does next—and what he did before—and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow. It is a story of friendship and betrayal, of love and loneliness, loyalty and redemption, and the inevitable march of time.

The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen (March 4)
For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.

Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.

And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen (February 4)
In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate.

But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all.

Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.

Okay, so not quite 10. But 7 is pretty close, right? Anyway, my tbr list cannot handle any more!

For the most part, it's embarrassingly easy to tell what kind of stories I'm into. Past lives are huge weakness of mine. I cannot help myself! Also, I'm definitely a SF/F type moreso than contemporary.

What debuts are you most excited for this year? Link me to your TTT!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Bout of Books 9.0 Wrap Up!

Bout of Books 9.0 is over and I have to admit, I'm a little sad! I really enjoyed making reading a priority this week, even though it would've been easy to let myself get overwhelmed with all the back-to-school shenanigans.

It made the week pass quickly as well. And I remember going to bed each night with a smile on my face!

So, how did I do overall?

My goals were:

  • Read 2 books
  • Review any books read
  • Visit/comment on blogs

I read 3 books, reviewed 2 of them and browsed a number of blogs. I also snuck in on the last few minutes of the last twitter chat (and had a blast!) and completed a handful of challenges (not all posted here). I think I did pretty well!

My total page count came to a whopping 1,213! I am so pleased with myself.

You can see my updates post here, read my reviews of Scarlet and Anna Dressed in Blood, and take a look at the double date challenge post I made here.

How did your Bout of Books go? What did you read? Feel free to link me!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Adventures in Baking || Snicker Doodles

So, one of my non-bookish goals for this year was to try out a new recipe every week or so. I really love baking especially, and Pinterest has really helped expand my entrée repertoire. To make things even better, one of my friends gave me a cookie page-a-day calendar for Christmas. So there's lots of new recipes to try!

Snicker Doodles from Cookie-A-Day Calendar/500 Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg

Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and half the cinnamon together in a bowl, then add the salt.
In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar (less 2 tbsp) together. Add the egg.

Combine dry ingredients with the butter mixture and mix to a smooth paste. Wrap the dough in parchment and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon. Shape dough into small balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar.

Place the balls at least 2 inches apart, as the mixture spreads to produce a thin cookie. Flatten each cookie slightly with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.

Makes 2 dozen.

Okay. So, let me just tell you about all my adventures with this recipe. Phew. It was not as straightforward as I thought.

First, I had a hell of a time finding cream of tartar because I'm an idiot and didn't know what I was looking for. Thankfully, my parents let me borrow some.

Second, I apparently can't read and added 1 cup of sugar instead of 3/4 cup. Whoops. I also didn't bother with the parchment covering. I just put saran wrap over the bowl and refrigerated the whole thing for a little under an hour.

Third, this recipe completely understates how much this dough spreads while cooking. No seriously. Just look at this!

With any other recipe that would've been a dozen neatly spaced cookies. (Okay, 13, I tried to sneak an extra one on there, look how well that turned out.) The balls I rolled were reasonable in size and I managed to get 26 out of the dough instead of 24. But these cookies are gigantic and paper thin!

I smartened up and cooked the remaining 13 in two batches, but MAN. I was not expecting that!

It makes me think that you could roll the balls even smaller and get nice little baby cookies out of this deal. You'd definitely have to reduce the cooking time though, because 10 minutes was almost too much. I ended up going for about 8.5 minutes when I cooked them six at a time. 

Despite their less than ideal appearance, they're still tasty though. So that's something.

Overall, I'm sort of disgruntled with this recipe. But I'll probably hang on to it and might try it with the benefit of experience. Maybe it won't be so bad.

Ease: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Taste: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Review || Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake ★★★☆☆
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

This book was a lot of fun. A lot of gruesome fun. The graphic descriptions in this book were a lot more than what I was expecting. I've generally got a relatively high tolerance for stuff like that in books, but there was something about the casual descriptions of dismemberment that were sort of shocking.

That said, don't let that put you off of this book. It's not all blood and guts. It's also got that really great creepy factor. I had to intentionally not read this right before bed, lest the shadows on my walls kept me up all night.

The mythos here was also neat. I like the rules and explanations of how ghosts worked. I enjoyed all the other paranormal bits that were included as well, like witches and telepaths. That last one surprised me, but it was a pleasant one. (I'm a sucker for telepaths, to be honest.) Cas was a likeable narrator and it was easy to understand his motives. His supporting cast was interesting and varied and I found that I enjoyed Thomas and Carmel (and of course, Anna) a lot.

My only criticism is the last... I don't know, 50-60 pages or so? I remember closing in on the end and thinking, "How on earth are we going to wrap all this up in so few pages?" The answer was... somewhat. The lose ends get tied up a bit hastily for my liking, especially when the major twist/antagonist was only really introduced a handful of chapters previous. The big climatic showdown felt rushed and wasn't as satisfying as I thought it could've been. Now, I know there's a second book. I'm willing to bet a lot of these problems will be addressed in that book. It's still a little disappointing, though.

Still, I gave this book four stars because all in all it was a fun and fast read. Certainly enjoyable, if occasionally gruesome. But it never really blew my mind or messed with my expectations. I think the big reveal towards the end might've, if it had been handled differently. I'm definitely going to be reading Girl of Nightmares, though.

If you're a fan of the paranormal with a dash of horror, this will be right up your alley. And if you've read this, what did you think? Let me know!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Review || Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer  ★★★★☆
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

This is another book I've been struggling to review because I just really enjoyed it. I guess it's easier to be critical than it is to explain why you really liked something!

Cinder completely took me by surprise last year. I'd been putting off reading it for no good reason, but when I finally picked it up I was completely unprepared for how hooked I was going to get. At least going into Scarlet I sort of knew what I was in for. But Scarlet grabbed me twice as fast and would not let me go. I had to make myself savour the book--it would've been far too easy to all but devour it in a day.

Scarlet and Wolf were excellent additions to the cast. As with Cinder, Meyer manages to twist the original fairytale just right to suit her needs. The story of Little Red Riding hood is recognizable in Scarlet's tale, but is still different enough that you're not quite sure how everything is going to play out. There is one plot twist in particular that actually made me screech aloud. (It's times like these where I'm glad I live by myself.)

Impressively, Meyer manages to intertwine Scarlet and Cinder seamlessly and brilliantly. Both stories are cohesive and engaging and I'm really invested in both characters. Wolf was compelling and interesting as well, even though tall, dark and tortured isn't usually my thing. I even bizarrely found myself growing attached to Thorne who I was certain at the beginning I was going to detest. In the latter parts of the book I found myself amused by him and then promptly caught myself in surprise.

All in all this was a delightful read, and I am absolutely vibrating in anticipation of Cress.

Friday Faves || Favourite Villains

So for this week's Friday Faves I'm going to talk about my favourite villains. Sometimes people like redeemable villains. Sometimes there's also something awesome about an unapologetic bad-guy. This list will probably have both.

And I have to say, this ended up being harder than I thought, initially.

So! Incidentally, also a Top 5

The Capitol (The Hunger Games)
One of the most sinister forces, but also frighteningly familiar. It's just terrifying how the Capitol and high society is so drawn to the glamour of the games and so quick to pointedly ignore what they're actually doing. They want love stories and Victors and treat people as things to be paraded around. They're completely oblivious to the suffering in other Districts, willing to overlook that their heroic figures are murderers and worst of all that they're murderers because they were forced to be.

It's ironic how this parallels the media that exists in "our world". Especially when you look at how the marketing is being done for the movie adaptations. The love story and love triangle features heavily in the ads. There are make-up campaigns inspired by Capitol/District fashions. And though the movies themselves do a good job of drawing narrative attention to President Snow, you still miss out on the greater evil here--the society that has been built around reality TV murders.

It's not too far-fetched, when you think about it. And that is the most frightening part of all of it, I think.

Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter)
I have a lot of complicating feeling about Harry Potter in general, which is definitely to be the subject of a later post, but Draco has had a place in my heart for a long time. I know he's more of a minor antagonist instead of a true "villain" but indulge me.

Okay, confession time: I stopped reading Harry Potter after I finished The Order of the Phoenix. I never made it on to books 6 and 7. I think someday I'll probably try to finish the series, I think I'd like to, but again, I have complicated feelings about the series. Which is not the point of this post.

Though, it sort of ties in, because some of my complicated feelings come from the treatment of Draco as a character. I really liked him as a foil for Harry, but continued to be disappointed at his lack of character development. He was a flat character who hadn't really grown since he was 11 and he had all kinds of potential (in my mind, for redemption, but just as easily for more complex evil) and I was disappointed that he didn't seem to be going in that direction.

I think--actually, I know--this is one of the reasons I relate so much to Cath in Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, because her love of Baz reminded me of my love for Draco. (And yeah, okay, I shipped Harry/Draco, sorry not sorry.) So while Draco isn't necessarily one of those villains on this list because he particularly frightening or evil or whatever, but because I've had a soft spot for his character for a long, long time.

The Gray Man (The Raven Cycle)
Oops, I kind of have a thing for villains that are completely unbothered by how terrible they are. And again, the Gray Man is probably more antagonist than villain, but I just came to adore him. It was totally unexpected.

It was probably because of his manner. He was just so unbothered by being a hit man and played it off so straight. It was charming. That and his observations while he was working. How breaking a lock is easy, but putting it back together, not so much. How he was careful not to disturb Gansey's model of Henrietta, even while being prepared to ransack the place. Be still my heart.

Doctor Impossible (Soon I Will Be Invincible)
Full disclosure, I have not read this book in a dog's age. Like 2010. But I remember Doctor Impossible's character voice being really fun to read. It was charming, funny and completely devious.

Queen Levana (The Lunar Chronicles)
This is more of the proper unconcerned tyrant of a villain. She doesn't care who she steps on or how in order to meet her ends. She's not interesting because she has some redeeming qualities or hidden depths, but precisely because she does not.

She's ruthless, terrifying, vengeful and a little bit mad. The fact that she can manipulate people in basically any way imaginable is a horrifying thought. I cannot wait to see her violence in action in the next two books of the series.

What do you think? Is your list different? Feel free to link your posts about your favourite villains in the comments! I can't wait to hear your opinions! And check out the list of Friday Faves to see what topics are coming up.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Bout of Books 9.0 || Double Date Challenge

I'm relatively impressed with myself because not only has my reading been going well this week, but I've actually been participating in challenges. I've done most of the ones in the comments so far, but this one struck me with unexpected inspiration, so I decided to post it here.

The challenge is "Double Date" hosted by Writing My Own Fairytale. And the premise is to recommend two books that could be read together. They could be similar in some way, but cannot be two books from the same series.

Initially, I was kind of stuck on this one, so I toddled off to Goodreads to look at my four and five star reviews to see if anything jumped out at me.

And lo, not one pair, but three hit me with inspiration. Hence the posting on my own blog thing.

So here we go!

Date #1: YA Alternate History

 Both Leviathan and Airborn take place in an alternate version of history in which we make frequent use of airships. Westerfeld's tale is set just barely pre-World War I and pits the Axis Clankers (machines) versus the Allied Darwinist beasts. Airborn juxtaposes the wonders of airship travel against a dangerous mystery. Both are super fun and the first book in their respective series!

Date #2: Adult Urban Fantasy

Soulless and Written in Red both take place in worlds in which the supernatural is not particularly uncommon. Both worlds are accustomed the nuisances and nuances of werewolves, vampires and the like. Alexia (Soulless) is a hilarious and quirky narrator who is often hilariously put off by the fact that the supernatural won't adhere to polite society manners. Meg (Written in Red) carves out a place for herself amongst her city's most intimidating creatures. Though their tones are very different, they're both great reads and also first books in their series.

Date #3: Superheroes (but not comic books)

While I love me a good comic book, sometimes it's really cool to see something different than your typical Marvel/DC fare. Soon I Will Be Invincible follows both a supervillain and newbie superhero, alternating perspectives and throwing in a few flashbacks to round out the narrative. Ex-Heroes has multiple narrators, past and present, both first and third person, and details the challenges of heroes trying to protect people during the zombie apocalypse. Yes, you read that correctly. Superheroes and zombies. Both are completely unlike anything I've ever read.

So! What do you think? Have you read any of these? Any double date suggestions of your own? Feel free to link me to your challenge posts!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Book Tag || New Year's Resolutions Tag

In conjunction with my 2014 Goals post, I thought I'd take a crack at the New Year's Resolutions Tag made by CharrsNewChapter on Youtube.

So! Here are the questions!

1. An author you'd like to read (that you've never read before). 

Almost all of them? I tend to put books on my tbr list based on whether they sound interesting and not really take author into account. But if I have to choose....

I'm going to go with Alastair Reynolds. I have two of his books and he's lauded as one of the greats in sci-fi, so I need to get on that, I feel.

2. A book you'd like to read.

You mean the 280+ on my tbr list on Goodreads isn't sufficient? There's almost too many too choose Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi is high up on my list. I've got a copy on my shelf and everything...

3. A classic you'd like to read.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. This will probably not happen this year, but I can dream. I grew up on the musical and have been devouring the fandom output since the movie came out last Christmas. It's just that I know this book is a huge commitment, so that's intimidating.

I also want to find a copy with the translation of Orestes Fasting, Pylades Drunk in which Grantaire's dialogue is translated to "Do you permit it?" Because, as I said, the fandom has taken over my life. (I found "If you'll permit it?" or something similar once. So close!)

4. A book you'd like to re-read.

I think I'm overdue for a reread of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Having seen the stylish movie adaptation last year made me realize it's been a long time since I read this book. And since I consider it personally influential (more on that later, perhaps in another post) I think it's time to revisit it.

5. A book you've had for ages and want to read.

Again, almost too many to list. (I have this bad habit of buying books and then not reading them in a timely manner.)

But let's go with Cold Fire by Kate Elliott. This is the second book in The Spiritwalker Trilogy and I adored Cold Magic and own Cold Steel, so I really just need to get moving with this series. (And actually, I feel like Cold Magic probably warrants a reread before I push on further. Good thing one of my resolutions this year is to complete more series!)

6. A big book you'd like to read.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I actually started this back in 2012 and probably got 50 pages in before I set it down. I remember really enjoying it, but it just wasn't what I was in the mood for at the time. It's definitely a denser read and at the time I needed more fluff, so I set it down and haven't come back to it. But it's time to, I think.

7. An author you've previously read and want to read more of.

I'm super excited to read more from Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell and Marissa Meyer!

8. A book you got for Christmas and would like to read.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. I've got this lined up for the Bout of Books read-a-thon next week, so hopefully I'll get around to it!

9. A series you want to read (start and finish)

The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu. I have heard so much about this series and it sounds like it's right up my alley. It's probably going to be one of the first books I borrow from the school library this year, if I can get my hands on it!

10. A series you want to finish (that you've already started)

The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth. I read book 1 back in 2012 and was underwhelmed overall. But with Allegiant just being released and all the hype around the movie, I'd like to be in the know. So I'll probably reread Divergent before tackling Insurgent.

11. Do you set reading goals? If so, how many books do you want to read in 2014?

Always. And as always, the goal is 50 books. Fourth time's the charm?

12. Any other reading goals?

Check out my 2014 goal post from a few days ago

What do you think? Do you have any resolutions for the new year? Or any goals? Let me know! And if you want to give the tag a shot, feel free! (And link me so I can see your responses!)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Review || The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

I finished this on Thursday and have kind of been putting off writing an actual review. Not because I didn't love this book, because I absolutely did, but more because I wasn't sure what I really wanted to say about it.

This book was just so good. A lot of people have been saying that's it's better than it's predecessor The Raven Boys, and I don't think they're wrong. It certainly does not suffer from mediocre-sequel-syndrome as so many second books tend to.

I will admit, it had been a year since I read The Raven Boys and this world is so rich with detail that I found myself struggling to play catch up with the opening of this book. There isn't a lot of recap, which is fine, and what is there is woven in with the new expertly enough to jog my memory without being overbearing. (Nothing irritates me more than a "last time on.." sort of info dump.)

Again, the writing is so captivating and lush that I found myself wanting to take my time with this book. With a lot of YA, I tend to race through, but here I wanted to slow down. To take it all in. To reread a particularly exceptional turn of phrase. To imagine being surrounded by everything that Stiefvater has created.

This book, as with it's predecessor, is an experience. And because it's so all consuming, it's hard not to love the characters that inhabit it. I feel like I understand Ronan so much more, now. I'm starting to have a little bit of a Gansey problem (the good kind). I want to hug Noah basically all the time and keep him safe. I'm still wary of Adam. I love Blue and her family. I completely unexpectedly adored the Gray Man--from his detached and unapologetic view of the nature of his work, to the way he concerned himself with and appreciated certain details (not ruining Gansey's model of Henrietta struck me as particularly charming).

And again, the mythology of this book--of this series--is just so cool. It continues to be so different, to set itself leagues apart from what else is happening in YA right now. It's. Ugh.

Yes, this is a plot-y book. And no, that doesn't mean it's slow going. There are so many twists and turns. So many questions to still be answered. The stakes remain high. And I absolutely cannot believe I have to wait until later this year for the sequel. (Hopefully not any longer... but considering there's no title, cover or release date yet. Yikes!)

★★★★☆ (4 out of 5 stars)