Monday, 30 June 2014

Monday Mix || Bound By My Own Disposition

You may have already figured it out, but I am a huge geek. And I'm pretty proud of it too. I occasionally take my students by surprise by debating with them the finer points of various geekery. It's pretty great.

In 2009 the Star Trek movie franchise was rebooted. I saw that movie once a week, every week for the entire month of May. (N E R D.) It rekindled my love for the franchise as a whole and science fiction in general. I spent pretty much that whole summer reading all the Star Trek novels I could get my hands on.

It was kind of a big deal.

Now, while I have since taken issue with some of the things surrounding the reboot (and if you're even remotely part of the fandom, you'll know what I'm talking about) that doesn't diminish my love for the characters.

So have a mix from 2009.

A mix for the triumvirate.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Series Review || Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky Trilogy by Veronica Rossi ★★★☆☆
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild - a savage - but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.

When I decided on a whim to try marathoning another series, I'm glad I picked this one. It was quick, fun and action-packed.

I made an impromptu library run with my sister during the Bout of Books 10.0 readathon and saw that book Through the Ever Night and Into the Still Blue were in. With book 1 sitting at home on my shelf, I decided to stray from my TBR and do another trilogy marathon.

It ended up being a good choice. Under the Never Sky suffers a bit from being book 1 in a tentative trilogy. And by that I mean, some of the super important resolution stuff near the end felt like I was going through it with the remote on fast-forward. Like Rossi was trying to cram in a bunch of resolution and denouement into as few pages a possible, to tease at a sequel but without having to commit to one necessarily.

Book 2 picks right up where book 1 sort of vaguely left you hanging. But by this point, it's clear there's going to be more, because book 2 is all about the set up. Not that important things don't happen here, but it's obvious there's a larger goal, a larger scope to the conflict here.

Book 3 then takes you through that conflict. And though I felt parts of Into the Still Blue were not quite as smooth narratively as they could've been, it was still a darned good conclusion to the trilogy.

All right. But at 4 stars, I did enjoy the series, but I never really loved it. I never got quite as invested in the characters and the world as I did in marathoning another series. I felt a lot of the time that I was sitting above everything, skimming the surface, instead of being as fully immersed as I could've been.

Part of this, I think, is that I didn't actually really like Perry that much. And with dual perspectives, half of the trilogy is in his voice. I've had a hard time pinning down exactly what it was I didn't like about him. And I will admit, that as the trilogy progresses, he grew on me. But he was never a swoon worthy love interest for me. All the more power to you, Aria, you go get him...

I'll just be over here with Roar.

I almost think that's the problem there. You can either be a Perry-person or a Roar-person. And I am definitely Team Roar. Now, I don't want to imply that there's a love triangle here, because that is the furthest thing from the truth with this series (thank god). Aria and Roar's friendship was one of the highlights of the series for me. But there was something about Roar as a character that I clicked with better than with Perry.

Regardless, I did truly enjoy Aria as a character, though. She was interesting, flawed, strong and stubborn. She was smart and very capable as the series progressed. She was a solid female lead and I appreciated her as a character.

The series also does a great job at portraying complex friendships and relationships. There were a lot of varied dynamics between the many characters. And spread out over the course of a whole trilogy, it was very interesting to see how those characters and their relationships changed.

The worldbuilding here is also interesting. It's a different mix. Aria's world is highly technological. Perry's world is not. The contrast was striking. That combined with the ever-present threat of the Aether meant there was bit of mental adjusting that needed to go on to get used to all the terms and realities of this complex world. That said, there was still some stuff that I think only barely scratched the surface. There were parts of the world and mythos and culture that was hinted at in places, but never fully explored. And things that were brought up when convenient to the plot and then dropped when not.

Lastly, despite all the build up and then desperate desire to find the Still Blue, I never really felt that the stakes were high. Or, at least, certainly not as high as they should've been.

People die in this trilogy, don't get me wrong, but those who do aren't really main characters. They are side characters that you've grown attached to, but the emotional impact of their deaths wasn't really there. It was a weak spot in the narrative, I think. There could have been more major casualties.

But even as I was racing through the second half of Into the Still Blue, I never really expected to get anything other than a happy ending. Even as Perry was lost and Sable was inflicting his brutality, I still knew it would all get nicely and neatly tied up with a bow by the end. And I wasn't wrong.

But that expectation, set by the narrative, sort of weakened some of the final dramatic moments of the trilogy. Because it didn't do anything to surprise me. Not really.

Regardless, it was still immensely fun and completely worth it. I'm really glad to have read the series. I'd definitely recommend giving it a go, especially if you like your dystopians fast-paced.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Library Woes

Let me say this first: I love the library.

I mean really, what's not to love? It's a building full of books. You can have (basically) as many as you want. They're virtually free (I pay $5/year for my card). If I don't like a book, I've lost a little bit of time, but no money.

So why the title then? Library Woes. What's that all about.

Well, I live in a relatively small city. At 60 000 people, we have one library branch. And sometimes my library can be really bad at having the books I want.

Now hey, I get it. I really have no idea how the purchasing system for the library works. And it seems really selfish to lament about the library not having everything I want. I am well aware. But sometimes the gaps in the collection are really baffling to me.

For example, Siege and Storm (Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo is finally on order for my library system. Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3) which just came out last week is no where to be found in the system. At all. But I've had a hold on Rainbow Rowell's Landline for months--and that doesn't even come out until July.

Or the system will have books missing from a trilogy or series. I've been interested in trying Cynthia Hand's Unearthly trilogy for a while now, but book 1 is marked in the catalogue as "LOST". Meanwhile, book 2 and 3 sit waiting on the shelves. Is the library ever going to order a replacement copy? We just don't know.

There is a silver lining to this story, however. There's this fabulous inter-library loan service that spans the entire province. Meaning that if something doesn't exist in my local library system, but it's in some library in Alberta, I can still get my hands on it.

Yeah, okay, it takes like 2 or more weeks for it to get processed and shipped to me. And yeah, it's due 3 weeks from when it arrives at my home library, not from the day I actually pick it up. And sure, I can't renew it. But still! Any book in the province! Shipped right to my home library for me to pick up and drop off. That's pretty sweet.

So. I love the library. I really do. But like anything there are some disadvantages. I guess I'll just have to keep pestering the library staff with my book purchasing requests!

What about you? Do you use your library? What do you do if they don't have the titles you want? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Waiting On Wednesday || Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
July 15, 2014
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 the government that could cost them their lives.

This book first appeared on my radar back in January when I was compiling a Top 10 Tuesday post about upcoming releases.

If you haven't already figured it out, I freaking love superheroes. And not only does this book plan to deliver that, but combine it with shades of grey morality. I'm so in.

I'm looking forward to what promises to be an action-packed thrill-ride of a book!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Monday Mix || The Neighbourhood

I'm going to mix it up again this Monday (haha, see what I did there). This post is going to highlight not only a band I've been listening to a lot recently but also a website I love for music listening.

I'm sure I first heard of The Neighbourhood because of some 8tracks mix I was listening to. Sometimes when I'm listening to random mixes, a song will catch my attention and I'll write it down somewhere to explore further.

However, as I'm sure you know, liking one song doesn't always mean you'll like the rest of a band's music. I used to go through iTunes or LastFM and look at popular tracks and listen to them and try and decide that way. Sometimes that can be a lot of work.

Enter the website I want to plug: The Best Of.

The Best Of lets you type in any band or artist and it generates a Grooveshark playlist of the top 10 or so tracks from that group. No more hunting and searching. It's pretty much my new favourite thing on the internet.

So, what are you waiting for? Follow the link to hear more!

(Some of my favourites include: Sweater Weather, Afraid and How.)

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Review || Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan ★★★☆☆
Kami Glass loves someone she's never met... a boy she's talked to in her head ever since she was born. She didn't spend her childhood silent about her imaginary friend, and is thus a bit of an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, she has a best friend, runs the popular school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return...

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

There's a lot to like about this book. And to be honest, the premise alone sold me on this book. Telepathy as a trope is something that I am just 100% down for.

So why the average rating? Unfortunately, this was another book that just didn't deliver in the ways I wanted it to.

From a writing perspective, I had a hard time with it sometimes. The pacing and scene transitions were occasionally really jarring or just poorly executed. At times, the sentence structure had me shaking my head and rereading lines because I had no clue what I'd just read. On top of all of that, I never really felt immersed in the world. The writing was lacking the atmosphere necessary to really suck me in.

I suppose it says something if I admit that the only time I actually wanted to sit down and read this book was when I picked it up to start it. Granted, the days I was reading it were busy ones, but even with free time I wasn't super keen to sit back down with it. It just never captivated me.

That said, there were definitely enjoyable parts. Some of the lines were literally laugh out loud funny. Kami's voice as a narrator took some getting used to, but I enjoyed her reckless perseverance. There was a lot of great girl friendship in this book too, which is something I think is all too rare in YA. In general, the supporting characters added a nice touch to the story.

The mystery and mythology that are at the centre of Sorry-in-the-Vale were interesting. Though, I think the revelations surrounding both were lacklustre, that more has to do with my issues with the pacing rather than anything else. Still, I found some of the "twists" poorly set up.

A word to the wise: this book does not even pretend to stand on its own. The ending is wide open and more than a little cliffhanger-y. So I'd have the sequel Untold on hand if you're really enjoying it.

For me, I'm not that fussed about the whole thing. I'm mildly interested to see where things go, but I'm by no means interested in rushing out to acquire the next one. I haven't even added Untold to my TBR on Goodreads at the time of writing. So. Maybe that speaks for itself.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Putting Off Reading

So, there's this weird thing I do sometimes. Where I've been waiting and waiting to read a book and then I eventually get my hands on it.

And then I don't pick it up.

For like, a while.

Is this just me? Am I just ridiculous?

I've been trying to sort out exactly why this is a thing that I'm prone to doing. And I don't have any real clear answers, but I have a few ideas.

There are two books in recent memory that I've done this with (and been annoyed at myself for it). Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo and Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor.

You'll note that they're both instalments in a series. They were both highly anticipated (even though I got Siege quite a bit after its release date). They were both parts of a series that I really enjoyed.

Here's where I think the problem is. Without meaning to, my brain is psyching me out on this.

"What if I don't like it?" comes to mind almost immediately. I think I get freaked out that the next instalment isn't going to live up to my expectations from the other books in the series. Especially when a beloved series is at stake, this is a real worry!

"I'm not in the mood," is another excuse I've battled with. Siege is, admittedly, fantasy. And in the time I had it on loan from the library, I picked up at least one book before I convinced myself to give it a go. Dreams is a behemoth of a book, at over 600 pages. And it came at a time when I was sort of suffering from reading fatigue. So committing to it was a bit more than I thought I could handle.

"But I'm not ready for it to be over!" This is primarily in the Dreams of Gods & Monsters case, what with it being the end to a trilogy and all. Though, given my track record, I'm sure I'm going to struggle with Ruin & Rising in much the same way. It's hard when things come to an end, especially when I'm attached to characters and their stories. And I want things to be resolved well. So I fall prey to my doubts.

I don't have any answers as to how to get over this procrasti-reading. With both the books above I gave myself a firm talking to. Which mostly consisted of something along the lines of, "Self, this is stupid. Sit yourself down and start the damn book."

Which is what I did. And then I had a hard time putting them down again. (Which, subconsciously, I think I knew also.)

What do you think? Have you put off books you've been dying to read for no (good) reason? How do you convince yourself to pick them up? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Waiting On Wednesday || Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
June 3, 2014
Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

I know that this book is technically already out, but I'm late to the party.

Still, I'm really interested to read a book about neuroatypical protagonists. We need more diversity in books and I hope the characters are treated with the respect they deserve. I can't wait to get to know Amy and Matthew.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Top 10 Tuesday || Summer TBR

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a new category every week!

This week's topic is Top 10 books on your summer TBR! I'm going to have to divide this one into a few categories...

Summer New Releases

Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo
I'm not sure exactly when I'm going to get my hands on this, as my library is notoriously slow when it comes to acquiring this series... But this is definitely one of my most anticipated summer releases!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
This is probably the book that I absolutely cannot wait for. I am already on the hold list at the library for this one. Aaaah! Is it July yet?

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Look for more about this book next week as I featured it as a "Waiting on Wednesday" book. But seriously, "X-Men meets Ocean's 11"? Yes please.

High Fantasy

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
Summer is when I hope to get cracking on a few behemoth books that I've been putting off for some time. I'm hoping the extra leisure time will mean I can devote myself to restarting this monster of a book. Because I remember really enjoying the first handful of pages I read a few years back.

The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson
I desperately want the UK covers (pictured above) for this series. And I am pretty sure I'm going to love this series. But I'm going to take the (ugly US version) first book from the library this summer and give it a go. When I inevitably devour it, I'll take the plunge on Book Depository!

Historical Fantasy

The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker
I've been eyeing this one for a while. I'm really intrigued by the premise here. Again, I'm hoping summer affords me more time to devote to some denser reads.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
I've had this on my shelf for a while, having bought it second hand a while ago. I'm ready to give it a go, given the theme of my summer reading. Also, I'm trying to go through some standalones on my shelf as well so I don't have to commit to more series.

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente
Another adult standalone from my shelf that I'm ready to give a go. I've heard good things about this one, and I've always loved Russian history and culture, so I'm excited to dive into some of the myths as well.

Science Fiction

Shades of Grey (Shades of Grey #1) by Jasper Fforde
I picked this up cheap on Book Outlet earlier this year and I've been eyeing it on my shelf a lot the past few months. I'm ready to see what Fforde's writing is all about--and I especially love the style this dystopian seems to take.

Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Another Sanderson pick, I know. But after reading The Rithmatist recently, I really want to read more of his work. I figure this is a nice trade off from the behemoth that the Mistborn series is going to be. Plus, superheroes and summer go together really well.

And there you have it. 10 books I'd really like to read this summer. We'll see how it goes, given my reading moods anyway. I'm sure a few TBR Jar picks will find their way in here as well.

What are you planning to read this summer? Have you read any of these books? Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Monday Mix || Set Yourself On Fire

So in 2010 this little movie called Inception came out, maybe you've heard of it?

I'm joking of course. But what's not a joke is the fact that the fandom for the movie basically took over my life from 2010 to 2011. I have the fanfic bookmarks to prove it.

And, because it's me, I made a fanmix. An Arthur/Eames fanmix, because that's just the kind of girl I am.

Tracklist and some explanations under the cut.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Review || 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad ★★★☆☆
It's been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA's unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space--and change their lives forever.

Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band's ticket to fame and fortune. Midori believes it's her way out of her restrained life in Japan. Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.

It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space... no one is coming to save them.

I'm still a little torn about this book. Because I liked it--parts of it, anyway. But it never really quite delivered in the ways I thought it was going to.

I'd heard a lot of good things about this book going in. Most of all that it was terrifying and creepy. I was ready to be thoroughly scared. But those terrifying moments never really came. The atmosphere was never developed the way it would've needed to be to really scare me. The writing was awkward at times, but I'm willing to let that go with a "lost in translation" explanation.

I'll be honest, the concept here is fabulous. And Harstad drops enough ominous hints, like breadcrumbs, throughout the set up of the plot. Especially as things started happening on the moon, I was ready to know what the heck was up there and what was going on.

When the big reveal happens though, it's sort of disappointing. Again, the concept here is great (and terrifying!) but the execution just didn't deliver. A lot of the explanation for things was really awkwardly hand waved away, which lead to the appearance of some glaring plot holes. And more than that, it was just genuinely disappointing.

I like my explanations. I like to know how and why. What little we got was basically just info-dumped on us--with a monologuing character. I guess this was just lighter sci-fi than I'd been expecting.

I could have maybe forgiven the hand waving explanations if there had been a really solid cast of characters. And again, the potential was there. Especially given that we spend a large chunk of the beginning of the book getting to see who these people are. But then the book decides to do some awkward and bizarre time skips. Like, we spend quite a bit of time seeing the three teens and their lives before they win, but then we completely skip over all of their training at NASA. We never see the relationships develop between them, or them getting to know the rest of the crew. They're just thrust into space.

But more than that, I found all the characters flat and underdeveloped. I never really found myself attached or caring about anyone. Not until the very end.

(Here be spoilers!)

Mia's letter on the last page of the book almost reduced me to tears. It was the first time I'd actually felt something for any of the characters and I think it was one of the parts of the book that was just brilliantly executed.

The vagueness of the whole ending sort of aggravated me as well. What actually happened on Earth afterwards? How did they stop the doppelgängers? I need to know more! I'm okay with open endings, but this wasn't even remotely closed as far as I'm concerned.

Though, I will give the book this--I was totally impressed with the body count. I did not expect everyone to die. I thought that was a bold move and I really respected this book because of it. (I felt a little like a psychopath thinking about that though, "Oh, this was a good book--everyone died." Oops.)

One thing I really did enjoy about the book, though, was the mixed media. Throughout the book there were ads, schematics and even real photos from the moon. It was a nice touch and added some atmosphere to the lackluster writing.

At the end of the day, I feel like this was more a 2.5 star book than 3 stars. I liked parts of it, but most of it was just okay. I think it's worth a try, if that means anything, but for me it fell short of my lofty expectations.

Friday, 13 June 2014


At the end of May I was kind of feeling a little burned out. I'd read a record total of 11 books already that month and I had Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor finally from the library... but have you seen that book? It's massive.

Anyway, I wasn't sure if I was mentally ready to dive into a 600 page behemoth of a book. And after Bout of Books 10.0, I was feeling a little drained.

Enter: audiobooks.

I'd found out about SYNC,a site that offers two free audiobooks a week, earlier in the month after some blog surfing. I'd been downloading a title a week for fun, because I was intrigued. I decided to load one up and give it a try. I figured maybe I could balance my time between the audiobook and attempting my hefty read.

I ended up going exclusively audiobook once I got started, though. I'm a horrible book monogamist, I can't juggle more than one story at a time!

Regardless, the audiobook in question was a version of Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. And it wasn't long until I was settling into the act of listening.

Reading is work, let's not pretend that it's not. Enjoyable work, sure, but still work. It requires effort. Listening to an audiobook does too, but I found that it was a different kind of effort. I could lay back on my bed, close my eyes, and listen. There was a different kind of effort required versus letting my eyes trail over sentences on a page.

I found myself quite enjoying the experience. I listened to it while cooking, a few times while driving, and even just some times in the evenings when I would've otherwise been reading. I looked forward to listening, not necessarily because of the story (but I'll get to that in a minute) but because of the novelty of the experience.

Cruel Beauty's narrator, Elizabeth Knowelden, has a very soothing voice. I enjoyed her reading of the tale very much. As for the actual story itself... I'm afraid it fell flat for me. (My review of the book won't be officially posted here until July, based on my queue, but you can see my thoughts on Goodreads here if you don't fancy waiting.)

All in all though, I enjoyed the act of listening. A few people on twitter mentioned that audiobooks are good for road trips too, so I'm looking forward to giving that a try as well.

SYNC has two more upcoming audiobooks that I am definitely going to be checking out (see my June TBR), so I think this is just the beginning of something wonderful.

What do you think? Have you listened to any audiobooks? Do you like them or do you prefer the act of reading? Any recommendations? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Waiting on Wednesday || Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo
June 17, 2014
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Aaaaah. The conclusion to this trilogy is so close I can almost taste it.

With Siege and Storm fresh in my mind I cannot wait to see where this final book will take us. With book 2 came many unexpected twists, so I know better than to trust this book at all!

Alina has become a very different person with the amplifiers and I wonder what her new-found cruelty will cost her. And how on earth are we going to defeat the Darkling? And at what cost? (Ack, I am actually super worried about the death toll of this book, not going to lie.)

Also, I need more Sturmhond in my life. Come on!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Top 10 Tuesday || 2014 Faves (So Far)

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a new category every week!

This week's topic is Top 10 favourites of this year (so far).

Given that I've read more books so far this year than I've ever managed to read in one year ever, this is going to be an interesting list! (And I can't wait to see how it changes come December!)

Four Star Reads

The Dream Thieves (Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
This world is just so rich and detailed. I just want to curl up in it forever. I am constantly amazed by the level of detail and planning that must've gone into these books.

The Darkest Minds & Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #1 & #2) by Alexandra Bracken
I am a cheater, because I adore both of these. Despite taking a while to warm to book 1, I experienced withdrawal in the wait time between finishing it and picking up book 2. Both are action packed and heartbreaking and I cannot wait for In the Afterlight.

Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
This book took a turn in the first handful of pages and then I was never able to trust it again. I loved it. I can't wait for Ruin and Rising.

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
I remember muttering, "I am super into this," whilst reading the beginning chapters of this book. Man. Just. This was so unexpected and so good. I am almost to the point where I am counting down the days until the companion novel releases.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor
While not my favourite of the trilogy, it was still a damn good book and a decent conclusion. The writing style was everything I expected from Taylor and the characters had me laughing and crying and aching alongside them.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
This novel was so much more complex than I think I first realized when I was reading it. The twists backwards and forwards, looping things together, sort of blew my mind as I reflected on it afterwards. It's a book I want to reread, just to pick up on the subtleties, which is a rarity for me.

Five Star Reads

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson
After all the hype, Sanderson did not disappoint. I loved the magic system and worldbuilding. This book will literally make you recoil in fear of chalk drawings--seriously!

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson
While I enjoyed the whole trilogy, this was the book that I loved beyond all measure. There's so much growth, such an epic journey, such a satisfying conclusion... it has everything I never knew I always wanted from this series.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Speaking of everything I never knew I always wanted... How do these books keep getting better? It's witchcraft or something. Because while books 1 & 2 aren't bad by any means, Meyer just keeps upping the stakes and her writing game. I need Winter approximately yesterday.

Vicious by VE Schwab
This was just so deliciously messed up, I loved it. Definitely not your traditional superhero tale!

Saga (volumes 1 & 2) by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
I've probably gushed about these graphic novels enough, but let me do it one more time. The story! The art! The characters! I cannot wait to see how this continues to unfold.

(Shush, I am well aware that I kind of cheated. But listen, I like even numbers and pairs and stuff. Hush.)

I've reviewed a number of these here on the blog (and on Goodreads, if you follow me there). All the covers should take you to Goodreads if you want to learn more about any book in particular.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What books have been your favourites so far this year? Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Monday Mix || The Fall of Dawn

I'm going to break away from the norm here and showcase a mix that isn't mine. 8tracks is great not just for uploading your own mixes, but for listening to others' as well.

Before I graduated from University, I could pretty much have any music on in the background and be able to work. But since then, I've found that it's a distraction. I'm too busy listening the lyrics, for example, to be able to really focus.

Enter 8tracks instrumental playlists.

The mix I want to link you to this week is one I've been listening to recently. It's got that sweeping, epic feel that makes me want to write space operas or high fantasy or something worthy. At 60 tracks and over 3 hours long, it's going to keep you going for a long time.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Review || Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick ★★★★☆
Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar, even though you've never been there before, or felt that you know someone well, even though you are meeting them for the first time? It happens.

In 2073 on the remote and secretive island of Blessed, where rumour has it that no one ages and no children are born, a visiting journalist, Eric Seven, and a young local woman known as Merle are ritually slain. Their deaths echo a moment ten centuries before, when, in the dark of the moon, a king was slain, tragically torn from his queen. Their souls search to be reunited, and as mother and son, artist and child, forbidden lovers, victims of a vampire they come close to finding what they've lost.

In a novel comprising seven parts, each influenced by a moon - the flower moon, the harvest moon, the hunter's moon, the blood moon - this is the story of Eric and Merle whose souls have been searching for each other since their untimely parting.

I don't even know how to begin talking about this book. I read it in two sittings--and truthfully, the only reason I put it down the first time was literally because I was required to do something else besides read. (Darn those day jobs!)

Let me be honest here, I am a huge sucker for these kinds of stories. The whole reincarnation, finding and loving each other across time thing? Huge sucker. I eat this stuff up. And this book offered its own delightful twist on the trope and I was just enthralled.

I really enjoyed the fact that Eric and Merle's relationships across time were not always as you'd expect. It was just romantic love, but familial love, love between friends, love between strangers even. It was such a fresh take on everything.

And not only that, but Sedgwick's storytelling is just on point. Things unfold in reverse chronological order, and by the time you've made your way through a few stories you start to put the pieces together. But even still, things twist and turn and invert upon themselves in unexpected ways.

Even as I sit here, right now, writing this review, I'm still realizing how some of the pieces slot together. I seriously just had another revelation as I was reflecting on the stories. It's a book that begs for a reread--which was, in fact, my first instinct after having put it down. And I'm not usually one who's big into rereading. But there's so much rich detail that I know I've missed on the first pass through. And now, knowing the big picture, I want to dive right in again and pull it back apart.

Despite sounding complex, the prose is simple--but deceptively so. Just like the book itself, it's hiding other meanings if you dig deep enough. The writing is evocative too, painting a picture of the scene as you read.

The more I reflect upon this book, the more I realize how good it really was. And that's enough to bump my initial rating of 4 stars up to 4.5. Highly recommended!

Friday, 6 June 2014


According to the most recent count (aka on Monday), I have 64 unread books on my (physical) bookshelf. This number isn't 100% accurate because I didn't count sequels in series where I haven't read the first book. (If I did, the number would probably be closer to 70.)

It's kind of getting embarrassing. Especially given the lack of actual room on my bookshelf. I live in a small apartment by myself and there is legitimately no room for another bookshelf. So I have to make due.

Despite the problem, it can be difficult to actually walk up to that bookshelf and physically pick a book. Because the options are at times overwhelming. Especially when I have no clear reading mood.

I've seen the idea of a TBR Jar floating around the blogosphere for some time now, and in a fit of boredom and inspiration (funny how those seem to go hand-in-hand) I decided to make my own. 

I started a simple table in a blank Word document and parked myself near my bookshelf and started typing. Then, I made the font a reasonable size. After printing and some cutting (and a little bit of creativity for lack of an actual jar) I was ready to go.

As I was cutting up my TBR list, I had several moments of doubt. As certain titles popped up, I was thinking, "I hope I don't pick that one..."

Woah. Wait. Hang on a second! That shouldn't be right. Why is that book on my shelf in the first place if I didn't want to read it?

As I examined my feelings, I realized the books fit into two categories: "I don't know if I'm in the mood for that right now" and "I don't know if I want to read that".

I decided that if I picked a book I wasn't in the mood for (and I have a few massive epic fantasies on the shelf) that could be forgiven. But if I had lukewarm feelings in general, then I really needed to think about why it was on my shelf in the first place. And maybe I needed to donate it.

Despite all this, I was still really excited to pick a book. And the random pick was just as thrilling. I bounded over too my bookshelf to grab it.

And, of course, I documented the process. (And yes, that is the lid of a CD spindle, in case you were wondering.)

I'm about halfway through Sabriel as of this writing (with Lirael and Abhorsen ready to go!) and I'm loving it.

I almost can't wait until the next time I don't know what to read, because I know my TBR Jar is waiting for me. (And yes, I plan on buying an actual jar this weekend. There is possibly even decorating in its future.)

What do you think? Do you have a TBR Jar? How do you pick what to read next? (Especially when you're not lacking for options!) Let's chat in the comments.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

May Book Haul

When I was contemplating whether of not to make this post I thought, "Oh, I didn't buy that many books in May. It probably won't be worth it." And then I inspected my bookshelf. Oops.

To be fair, it was only in the last week that I acquired all these books (that actually doesn't make it that much better.) I placed a Book Outlet order earlier and finally picked up a package of 5 books. And then my local library had their semi-annual discard book sale. And well. I paid like $12 for that whole haul, I can't really bring myself to be upset.

Except man, I'm running out of room on my bookshelf again. It's a good thing #RYBSAT (Read Your Book Shelf A Thon) is happening again this month. I'm going to need it.

On to the books! (Clicking the cover should take you to the Goodreads page.)

Book Outlet
Already Read

I read the whole trilogy in April and loved it. So when I saw the first two books on discount, I knew I had to get them!

TBR Pile

Three books that have been on my TBR list on Goodreads for a while. And again, I can't resist discount prices.

Library Discard Book Sale
TBR Pile

I feel like the poetry anthology requires some explanation. But really, the only explanation is that I want to start reading more poetry.

The other 3 books are ones that I recognized by sight, which is sort of how I approach the library discard book sale. There are just so many books all crammed together that I have to resort to scanning the rows for something that I recognize. Anyway, we'll see! I'm excited about them all though.

Classroom Library

So, as I may have mentioned before, I teach middle school. These days, that means grade 8 mostly. And even though I'm not an English teacher, I still like having a little classroom library. So one of my shelves in my room is dedicated for that purpose. My students can sign out a book from me if they wish, or just peruse one during downtime in class.

So these four picks went straight to the classroom library.

That said, I'll probably read them at some point (I tried Daniel X before and just could not get into it), but in the meantime, hopefully they'll get to entertain my students.

And thus ends my May book haul. Have you read any of these? Let me know and we can chat in the comments!

I really need to get cracking on my bookshelf reading in June!