Thursday, 31 July 2014

DNF Round Up || July

I'm hoping this won't turn into a regular feature. But who knows.

Coming close on the heels of last week's post about abandoning books, I thought I'd do a little round up of the three books I didn't finish this month. (Which prompted that whole post in the first place.)

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
DNF @ ~50 pages
Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs - the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother - who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

I just could not get into this book. It floats multiple perspectives past you without really bothering to make any distinction between them--leading me to feel very confused. And not in that intriguing "ooh what's happening?" kind of way. But in that "wait a second, did I read that wrong?" kind of way.

It never grabbed me. It didn't make me want to read on. People assure me that it gets better, especially as things start to come together. So maybe I'll consent to try it some other time, but I'm marking it as abandoned for now and have returned it to the library.

Feed by MT Anderson
DNF @ ~50 pages
Spending time partying on the moon and riding around in his "upcar," Titus is an average teen of the future, complete with a computer chip implant -- the "Feed" -- that lets corporate marketers and government agencies broadcast directly into his brain. Then Titus meets Violet, and an anti-Feed hacker shuts down their Feeds for a short time; but when Violet's Feed is seriously damaged, she begins spouting some radical ideas.

Every time I have tried classic dystopian cyberpunk, it's never worked out well for me. Here it was the colloquial and juvenile writing that did me in. I've seen a few people compare it to A Clockwork Orange in terms of language, and I just don't know if that's my thing.

I also feel like I know where this whole thing is going. I mean, I could be wrong, but it seemed like it was on a fairly predictable path.

I've seen an audiobook mentioned, which might help, so I might try that later. But for now, abandoned and my copy donated. (I need the bookshelf space.)

Don't Turn Around (PERSEFoNE #1) by Michelle Gagnon
DNF @ ~110 pages
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her hacking skills to stay anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in a warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.

Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life in no uncertain terms. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.

So apparently I can't read, because for some reason I thought this would be like this government-crackdown dystopian where you're monitored all the time and then some teens decide to go off the grid. Which is not what this is about at all.

The mystery here is compelling enough, but the whole thing suffers from mediocre writing. Do I want to find out what happens? Sure. Could I plow through this in a few hours to do so? Sure. But I'd be just as happy reading spoilers online for all I care about these characters.

There were multiple POV changes in a chapter as well, which I found really jarring. I know it was the book trying to create tension, but it didn't feel necessary. Chalk it up to mediocre writing again. Anyway, I'm probably not going to keep this one either.

And there we have it. My DNF books for July. Any thoughts about these books or DNFs in general? Have you abandoned any books lately? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Waiting On Wednesday || I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amelie Sarn

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn
August 5, 2014
Eighteen-year-old Sohane loves no one more than her beautiful, carefree younger sister, Djelila. And she hates no one as much. The two have always shared everything. But now, Djelila is embracing her life as a secular teen, and Sohane is becoming more religious.

Every choice has a price.

When Sohane starts wearing a head scarf, her school insists that she remove it or she’ll be expelled. Meanwhile, Djelila is repeatedly harassed by neighborhood bullies for not following Muslim customs. Sohane can’t help thinking that Djelila deserves what she gets. She never could have imagined just how far things would go.

I love I hate I miss my sister.

In the year following Djelila’s tragic death, Sohane struggles with her feelings of loss and guilt, revealing a complex relationship between two sisters, each girl’s path to self-discovery, and the consequences they face for being true to themselves.

I just came across this book recently as I was looking for books to be published in the next handful of months. And that title immediately intrigued me... especially with that gorgeous typography layout on the cover.

Then, I read the synopsis. I'm really intrigued by the premise of this book. I'd like to see how it explores both diversity, religion and familial relationships. I'm glad I came across it!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Monday Mix || C R E E P .

I freaking love covers of songs, you guys. There's just something so cool about taking a song and twisting it around somehow to make it your own, but still maintaining some of the feel of the original.

Sometimes, though, the best covers are the ones that deviate a lot from the original.

And that's where this next mix comes in.

Aptly titled, this combines all the awesome parts of covers with the down right creepiest vibe I've ever heard. No seriously. I did not think "Stand By Me" could be creepy. And then I listened to this mix.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Series Review || Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix ★★★☆☆
Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companion in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

This marks the third time I've marathoned a series, and I have to admit it was harder than the other times.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this series overall, but I found it sort of lacking at times.

The writing is good, if simplistic at times, and the magic system and worldbuilding is very intriguing. But the pacing sometimes felt off--sometimes the action was nonstop and others it was slow going. However, despite the epic set up, things tend to be resolved a little too conveniently at the end. Some of the defeats of the big bads throughout the series were disappointing.

I kept a record of my thoughts on each of the three books, so I'm going to break it down from there.

This was my favourite of the three, and my rating reflects that being higher than the rest at 3.5 stars. The mystery and worldbuilding here were well done. You're discovering, along with Sabriel, exactly how dangerous the Old Kingdom is. The book was fun, engaging and the magic system really shines throughout.

However, the romance between Sabriel and Touchstone (and god, don't even get me started on this name because ugh) was so out of left field for me. There was this great dynamic going on throughout the book and then suddenly there were love confessions? It just seemed like there was no build up or transition. Sure, Sabriel had mentioned she found him attractive, but that's very different from "I love you."

Regardless, an enjoyable read. I really liked Sabriel as a character as well. She hit all the right notes for me as a character and I was excited to see where her journey would go.

But, as you'll know if you've read this series, I was about to be disappointed. Lirael jumps ahead 14 years at the start of the book from the ending of Sabriel.

Which, okay, there's a different story to tell here. Fine. I get it. And I did really come to like Lirael as a character as well. The book itself starts off strong and is very provocative. I was interested to see where this was all going.

But in truth, I hadn't expected the series to go down this way. I was thinking the trilogy would be about Sabriel and Touchstone coming into their own. Sabriel struggling with the Abhorsen mantle and Touchstone struggling to regain his kingdom. I wanted to see their trials, their romance, their awkward young adulthood trying to rule. Instead, we skip ahead and these characters become secondary to their children and the other players.

(I was also hoping Touchstone would take on a name that didn't drive me crazy, but alas.)

As the book progressed, I found myself enjoying it more, though. And to be fair to the book, the week in which I was reading it was terrible for me on a personal level, so I have no doubt that contributed to my lacklustre opinion of it.

It also was sort of tainted for me because I really did not care about Sameth at all for a really long time. It was really only towards the end of this book (and into book 3) that I really had any investment in him as a character at all.

As things came together at the ending, though, I was eager for the conclusion.

If Lirael was the slower set up, Abhorsen is the sprint to the finish. This book takes off from page 1 and doesn't stop. The plot, as it developed, was compelling and pulled a lot of threads together in a satisfying way.

Though, if I thought the climax of Sabriel was fast and convenient, it pales in comparison to the conclusion here. Yes, the stakes were high. And yes, I was a little concerned about the body count. But I was never really that worried our heroes would fail. And the defeat of our great evil was not that difficult.

Yes, there were sacrifices made, but in the end it all fell into place. You could maybe argue for a little deus ex machina here as well. It was fine, but it was definitely convenient.

Still, overall, a worthwhile series. One I'm glad to have read, even if it did fall short of my expectations.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Not Finishing What You Started

I've been a reader since I was very young. I've had a library card since before I could walk. There have always been piles of books that were mine.

And though I've gone through some ups and downs with respect to my reading over the years (most notably in high school and university) I've always considered myself a reader.

But it's only in the last few years that I've really been keeping track of exactly what that means. I opened my Goodreads account in late 2010 and from 2011 onwards have been accurately keeping records of what I read.

And maybe it's because this year I've read a lot more (quantity wise) than before. But I'm finding myself thinking often about the big conundrum that is marking a book DNF.

I took some time to puzzle out what was actually going on here--especially because this month in particular I felt like I had a disproportionate number of DNFs. (So much so that I'm planning on doing a DNF round up later this month.) I don't really remember giving up on books as a kid, but I know objectively that I must've.

I'm certainly no stranger to not finishing series that I start. Though, admittedly, that's something I'm trying to fix this year. I tend to go a little first book crazy and then never continue for no good reason.

But interestingly enough, I think that problem is actually more closely related to the whole DNF thing than I'd originally thought.

Why do I abandon books? That's the central question. To which, for me, there are many answers. I'm not in the mood for it at the moment. I can't get into it. I'm bored by it. It feels like a chore to read. I don't want to go back to it. ... Those are just some of the few.

Some people talk about that niggling little doubt in the back of their minds... "What if it get better?" Which is a legitimate concern. I always try to give books at least 50 and sometimes 100 or more pages to change my mind. If I'm still feeling blah, then it's time to let it go.

And currently, I think it all comes back to the fact that I have so many books that I want to read. It's a product of my Goodreads tracking. My TBR pile is massive. Why would I waste my time on a book that just isn't doing it for me when there are so many others that I could be exploring? And, consequently, why would I continue with a series I didn't have strong feelings about when there are others out there? (See, I told you it all came back to the same thing.)

The other piece is that I think I'm actually getting better at telling what books I'm going to like. This has to do with the quantity bit I alluded to earlier. Over the last few years I have read way more than ever before--this year especially. I'm starting to get a handle on my own preferences, as bizarre as that may seem.

Before, I don't think I was very discerning. Everything sounded good. And sometimes it doesn't take more than to flick through a few chapters to realize that this was not what I thought it was going to be.

I'm getting better at choosing books I'm going to like. Sure, some of them hit a less than 3 star rating at the end of it, but very few of them have given me cause to dump them completely.

Which is why it was surprising that I would mark 3 books this month as DNF. Because I guess I thought I'd figured it out better than that by now. Regardless, it wasn't a waste since I'm going to get at least 2 blog posts out of the concepts!

So, what about you? Do you abandon books? Why? What are your criteria? Do you ever come back to books you've put down to try again? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Waiting On Wednesday || The Young World by Chris Weitz

The Young World (The Young World #1) by Chris Weitz
July 29, 2014
After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park...and discovers truths they could never have imagined.

I need to have a moment to appreciate that cover, okay?


Phew. Okay.

Let's look at that premise though: post-apocalyptic road trip? Yeah, I'm in. And with five main characters, I'm hoping for some great ensemble interactions. Plus, who doesn't like to read about vicious teenagers? I'm hoping this book is an action-packed roller coaster ride that punches me right in the feels.

Monday, 21 July 2014

BookTubeAThon Wrap Up

... Haha. This should really be called "BookTubeAThon Spectacular Failure". 

I did not even remotely read things according to plan this week. I actually hit a pretty bad reading slump at the beginning of the week and never really recovered. It's partially because I decided to go into school this week and do some planning for the fall. I'm teaching brand new courses (one of which is a diploma level course, which is fairly high stakes for grade 12 students) and wanted to get a jump on the first couple of units since I'm going to be moving right before school starts up again.

Anyway. I put in 5 hour days of basically non-stop work Monday through Thursday. And when I came home, I did not feel like doing much of anything.

That's not to say I didn't read this week. It just wasn't really what I'd planned on.


I read about 50 pages of Dead Iron to kick things off after work. And it was just... a little bit more involved than I was anticipating. It's steampunk fantasy and it's fairly complex. I enjoyed what I've read so far, but it wasn't really helping the reluctant reading mood I was in. I haven't read on since Monday, but I'm planning on it.

After dinner I decided I needed something lighter, so I picked up Fables volume 1, which I'd snagged from school earlier that morning. It was fun and enjoyable. I rated it 3 stars.


Tuesday I read the only book that was actually on my TBR, Locke & Key volume 1. The only mistake I made here was reading it so close to bedtime. Holy crap, it was messed up. I really enjoyed it though, and rated it 4 stars.


I did absolutely no reading these days. Which is definitely because of this reading slump. And also a little because of my impending move related stress.


I decided I needed to make up for my lack of reading late Saturday night by picking up Amulet volume 1. I'd also snagged this at the school library earlier in the week. It was a really quick read and quite engaging. I liked it and rated it 3 stars.


I watched a bunch of BookTube videos to try and psyche myself back up to reading. I ended up picking up Fractured (Slated #2) because 1) I figured my TBR was never going to happen anyway and 2) I've borrowed this on interlibrary loan and it's due back soon and I can't renew it.

I'm about 25% of the way through this and I should be able to finish it in one or two more sittings. (I would've read more today I think if I hadn't discovered there was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles documentary on Netflix........)

And that was my BookTubeAThon.

What did you read this week? I hope your reading this week went better than mine did!

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Review || Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor ★★★★☆
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

This trilogy, you guys, oh man.

I have been waiting for this conclusion since the winter. It had sort of become my unofficial Christmas tradition to sit down with a book from this series over my winter break and just devour it. So when this release got pushed back to April, I was really disappointed.

And then, when it was finally in my possession... I put it off!

First, let's be real, this book is massive. At over 600 pages it is intimidating to say the very least. But there was also the fear of, "What if I don't like it?" paired with, "But I don't want it to be over!"

I got over myself and devoured this in 4 days. I felt pretty proud of myself.

The writing in this book is just as gorgeous as I've come to expect from Taylor. Her descriptions are poetic and beautiful and sometimes down-right heart-wrenching. This book does not disappoint in the feels department. Tears were shed, more than once.

Taylor has done a magnificent job making you care deeply about this cast of characters. Not just about Kaoru and Akiva, but for those closest to them as well. Ziri and Liraz both stole my heart in this book and then made it ache. Taylor really understands the phrase "hurts so good". Ugh.

However, this is not my favourite book in the series.

It's a great book, and a good conclusion, don't get me wrong. But it's probably actually my least favourite of the three. (The list goes: Days of Blood & Starlight, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and then this one, if you were wondering.)

That's not to say I disliked it. Not by any means. I gave it 4 stars and it genuinely deserves it. I enjoyed it a lot. But I had some issues with it that weren't fully resolved.

This book introduces some new characters and new depth to this world. And as interesting as it was, I struggled the whole time I was reading the book with how necessary it was. Now, I fully respect Taylor's authorial intent on this one, but it just didn't do it for me.

I feel like, for the most part, you could've removed most of that and not really lost anything. Sure, you would've had to rework a few scenes and resolutions, but I don't think the story would've been any poorer for it.

As I was scanning Goodreads reviews--as I am want to do after finishing a book--I saw the phrase angelus ex machina show up in a review. And that perfectly describes some of the problems I had with all these extra complications. I don't think the book was any more compelling with all the extra lore.

And truthfully, I feel like some of it, especially the epilogue, was just there to make Kaoru and Akiva angst some more about not being together. Again, it just didn't do it for me.

That said, it was still a great book--and a great series. One I would highly recommend (and one I am looking forward to adding to my bookshelf)!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Cover Judger

I'll admit, I almost titled this post "Judging a Book by its Cover".

Because let's face it, most of us do it. Maybe not 100% consciously all the time, but it still happens.

I'm pretty guilty of this, to be honest. I'd like to imagine that I'm impartial and that I'll read something on its supposed merit alone. But. That's just not true.

Now, that's not to say that I'll outright refuse to read a book with a bad cover. Because that's not true either. But I'll definitely have to had put in some research in advance before picking up a book with a bad cover. Like, I should know what the book is about and be fairly certain that I'll like it.

But I'm still not going to buy it. I'll get it from the library, sure, but I don't necessarily want it on my shelf.

Now, say the cover is bad but the book is so good. I will definitely go out of my way to find an edition of the book that has a cover I like. The Book Depository has been my go-to typically for this.

So, I'm a bit of a cover snob. I'll admit it.

But what's worse is that the reverse is true: if it's pretty, I'll probably buy it. (Unless I know I'm going to hate it.)

As I've mentioned before, my book buying habits fall into two categories: books I've read and loved so much I want to purchase, and books I'd like to read and bought on a whim because they were cheap.

And, you guessed it, the cover is a pretty big factor in the latter purchases.

For the most part, though, I don't buy something completely out of the blue. It's usually a book on my Goodreads TBR and I know something about it.

But sometimes I completely succumb to the pretties. And I do the inevitable cover buy. (I mean, I read the book's synopsis first and sometimes check Goodreads. But sometimes I'm just overcome with the urge to buy it because it's pretty.) This sometimes backfires spectacularly in my face because the book is rotten, but I suppose that's the flip side of the judging moral.

Of course, the idea of good vs bad covers is completely subjective. What I might like aesthetically, you might hate. And vice versa. (Though, I really have to ask, does anyone like all the SF/F book covers that look like the art style came straight from the 70s? Because I don't understand why those two genres routinely get saddled with the worst covers ever.)

Does the cover factor into things for your book reading or buying habits? Any favourite covers to share? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Waiting On Wednesday || Extraction by Stephanie Diaz

Extraction (Extraction #1) by Stephanie Diaz
July 22, 2014
Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.

What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon's lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet's leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too.

Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don't want her running—they want her subdued.

The initial premise here really reminds me of Under the Never Sky, but with a twist. I really enjoy the whole "more than what it seems" trope, especially in a utopia/dystopia context.

I'm hoping Clementine will be a clever lead. I'm intrigued by the established relationship here, because of how it might all play out. I just hope we avoid the dreaded love triangle. I guess we'll see!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Monday Mix || 100 Driving Songs

It's time for another 8tracks mix that I didn't make, but have been listening to a lot lately.

I found this one completely by accident. I was listening to a fanmix (surprising no one) and I didn't realize that it was over. If you've never used 8tracks before, it gives you about 10 seconds after the end of a mix to choose what to do next. If you do nothing, it loads the next mix in a "similar mixes" queue or another one by the same user.

By the time I realized I'd moved on to another mix, I was already a few tracks in.

Which is when I saw the title: 100 Driving Songs.

That's right, this mix is 100 tracks. It clocks in at just over 6 hours. "100 upbeat, feel good jams." I'm no where near done it yet, but it has not disappointed me yet.

Hopefully you enjoy it too.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Review || Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge ★★☆☆☆
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.

May was a strangely productive reading month, but I was starting to feel a little burned out. So I picked up the audiobook version of this on a whim and started listening. There was a different kind of concentration involved in listening to a book as opposed to reading it, and it definitely helped soothe my reading fatigue.

Overall, the narrator of this audiobook was quite enjoyable. That was one of the strongest parts of this "read", I felt.

That's not to say that Cruel Beauty didn't have its other selling points. The classical mythology references that were scattered throughout the narrative were interesting. The prose itself had a lyrical quality to it, and the descriptions were lush with detail. And the nefarious bargains made by the demon lord were fascinating--especially the way the consequences were twisted up in the seemingly harmless wording.

However, for the most part, this book just didn't really do it for me. I found myself wanting to listen to the audio often, but I think that was more because of the novelty of it. The story itself ended up just being okay for me.

Nyx was one of my major barriers. She's angry, frustrated and hurtful--all of which is to be expected. She's been preparing for most of her life to be a living sacrifice for her people. Not only that, but she's burdened with their hopes as well. Her familial love is twisted by this sense of duty, jealousy and despair. Her anger is justified.

But she blames that on herself. She thinks herself selfish for wanting a different life when she alone could save her people. The feelings twist and tangle up inside of her and she lashes out.

All of which are completely understandable. This is not the reason why I didn't like her. It's because, instead of growing, instead of taking action, Nyx is constantly waylaid by her own angst. She's so wishy-washy. She loves her family, she hates her family. She hates the demon, she loves the demon. She's going to save everyone, she doesn't care about anyone. She's going to betray her husband, oh no, maybe not.

It was infuriating.

The narrative isn't much better.

There's an entire system of "magic" that's almost completely unexplained and exists for almost no reason except to be a plot device. It's not fleshed out and despite the scraps of information we get about it, it doesn't seem to mesh well with the rest of the world here.

The plot also likes to remind you that it's smarter than you and does things like have Nyx find out everything, not explain any of it to the reader, and then have her conveniently forget it all. Why. Why.

Ignifex as a love interest was baffling as well. The relationship doesn't seem to develop at all, just suddenly changes to love for no reason. One minute Nyx is hurling crockery at him and threatening to kill him, the next she's being bedded by him. Ignifex is mocking and cold and detached for the most part. The narrative tries to play it off because they're both "monsters" (Ignifex literally, Nyx because of her hatred) but the romantic tension was never believable. Also, I really can't stand violence and emotional manipulation being played off as romantic. No. Just no.

And then the ending happened.

One of the major "twists" I saw coming, but it still pleased me to be right. But then everything afterwards got really convoluted at the end. And then suddenly happily ever after? Wait what.

I don't know if I would've finished this had I not been listening to the audiobook. Overall, I found it lacklustre, confusing and annoying for the most part. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

BookTubeAThon TBR

So the second annual BookTubeAThon is happening next week from July 14-20. And though I don't vlog, I'm still definitely participating. (If you want more information, you can check out their Twitter or Youtube.)

There are a number of reading challenges running, so I thought I'd post my TBR plans for the week. I'm hoping to get around to everything... but we'll see. I'm also hoping this will be a much needed distraction from all the house hunting insanity that's going on in my life right now.

Locke & Key volume 1 by Joel Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
This will complete two challenges: read a book with pictures and read a book with red on the cover.
I picked this up at Comic Expo back in April and I've been meaning to read it. I figure it'll be nice to break up some of the marathon reading with a graphic novel!

Ship Breaker & The Drowned Cities by Paolo Gacigalupi
This will complete the challenge: start and finish a series.
I own Ship Breaker and have had it on at least 2 other readathon TBRs this past year. It's time to get to it. I'm going to have to pick up The Drowned Cities from the library, but that should be fine. I figured might as well read a duology for this challenge and keep it simple!

Dead Iron (Age of Steam #1) by Devon Monk
This will complete two challenges: read a book that someone else picks and read a book from a genre you've read the least from this year.
I haven't read a lot of alternate history type books this year, so I picked three from my shelf and posted them online asking my Facebook friends and Twitter followers to weigh in on what I should read. Dead Iron had the most votes, so there we go!

The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle
This will complete the challenge: read a book and then watch the movie adaptation.
Somehow I completely missed out on The Last Unicorn during my childhood. I have no idea how that happened! But I went with some friends at Comic Expo in April to meet Peter S Beagle and I bought a copy of the book to have him sign. And then I'll find myself a copy of the movie and finally see what I've been missing.

The only challenge left is to read 7 books and/or an average of 300 pages/day during the week. We'll see how the week goes, but I do have a few other graphic novels that I could sneak in to try and round this up to 7 books. I also just picked up Rainbow Rowell's latest, Landline and am dying to read it. So that might make an appearance during this readathon as well.

Are you participating in the BookTubeAThon? Link me to your TBRs! Any thoughts about my list? Let's chat in the comments!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Slow Burn Romance

I have a lot of thoughts about romance in novels.

The first one tends to be, "not this again".

To be fair, this mostly only applies to love triangles. Which, ugh, I have been so over forever. They all seem to be formulaic and just haven't been compelling in the longest time.

After that, my next thought is typically, "why?"

This is usually because the romance feels forced to me. We're told the characters are into each other and bam! romance. This applies to the insta-love just as much as it applies to other forms of romance in books. Sometimes it feels like it's thrown in as an afterthought. "Oh yeah, a YA book, better have a love interest!" That kind of thing.

Romance isn't a requirement for a good book. And I am especially tired of conventional romances... but that's definitely a topic for a different post.

Instead, what I want to talk about today is the slow burn.

As you may or may not have already figured out, fandom plays a relatively big part of my online life. And when I'm not reading a book, I'm probably reading fanfic.

And one of the things that fanfic tends to do really well is the slow burn. 80k of my two favourite characters realizing they have feelings for each other? Sign me up.

So, it's probably fanfic's fault that I'm not usually terribly into book romance. I like the long, drawn out, dancing around each other romantic tension. I like being able to see that the characters are developing feelings for each other, rather than just being told. I want the butterflies in my stomach when one of them finally leans in for the kiss.

I want to ship them, is what I'm saying. I want a book to reel me in slowly and make me feel for these characters. Make me want them to hook up. But without all the dumb soap opera drama/angst/misunderstanding that usually comes with.

I want to watch their journey. Have their romantic subplot run parallel to the rest of the story--not necessarily be the focus of it. I want them to struggle a bit, but that just makes the moment when they come together all that much sweeter.

And less of the, "You're the main male character and I'm the main female character: we must obviously be attracted to each other!"

I would be perfectly happy reading a trilogy where the main couple did not get their act together until the third book. So long as the narrative isn't obnoxious about it.

So give me the slow burn. Build me up. Bring on the romantic tension. Show me, don't tell me.

What do you think? How do you feel about romance in the books you read? Any fantastic recommendations to send my way? Let's chat in the comments!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Seriously Series Update 2

The second quarter of the year is over... how is half of 2014 over already?! So it's time for another Seriously Series Challenge Update! This is hosted over at Reading the Paranormal.

My current running list can be found here and I'm pretty pleased with the progress I'm making overall. I knew when I started typing out my list there was no way I'd get to all of this in one short year, but I'm happy to have the goal in mind.

My first update for January-March can be found here.

Series Started Before 2014
I broke this down into two categories: continuing (I need to read a few or the new release) and resuming (I read the first book so long ago I need to start over).

I still haven't managed to get to any of the starting over books. There are just too many books to read..!

Here's my April-June progress:

  • Daughter of Smoke and Smoke by Laini Taylor
    • Dreams of Gods and Monsters
  • The Others by Anne Bishop
    • Murder of Crows

Series Started in 2014
This section has seen quite a bit of progress. I'm going to attribute that to my recent discovery of marathoning series. Still, it feels like I'm just adding and adding to this section!

  • Eon by Alison Goodman
    • Eon
  • Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
    • The Girl of Fire and Thorns
    • The Crown of Embers
    • The Bitter Kingdom
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
    • Under the Never Sky
    • Through the Ever Night
    • Into the Still Blue
  • Abhorsen by Garth Nix
    • Sabriel
    • Lirael
    • Abhorsen

Overall Results
I've completed 5 series this quarter between both sections! I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself, to be honest.

If you looked at my series masterlist, I have dropped a few series off the list--mostly because finishing (or starting) them is just not a priority right now. When I first made that list in January, I pretty much put anything I could think of on it. Six months in, I think I can be a little more discerning.

Still, with the series marathoning being a game-changer, we'll see how the next quarter goes. Plus, as we get later into the year, some releases I'm waiting on start dropping. I'm eager to get my hands on Ruin and Rising which came out late in June for sure!

It's interesting how things can change in just a few short months!

Are you working on any series right now? Have you read any of these? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Waiting On Wednesday || The Fire Wish by Amber Lough

The Fire Wish (The Jinni Wars #1) by Amber Lough
July 22, 2014
A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything...

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.

This book came up on my radar relatively recently. And it grabbed my attention immediately. Because first, look at the typography on that cover. Yes please. Also a YA book about jinni? Yes please.

I'm hoping for some awesome female representation in this book (hopefully with some great female friendships). And again hopefully some slow burn romance, what with the while "young men [they] are just discovering they might love" bit. Should be interesting!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Top 10 Tuesday || Blogging Confessions

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 Blogging Confessions. I have 5 book related confessions and the 5 blogging related ones!

1. Paperbacks
I'm just going to get this out of the way and say it first: I don't particularly like hardcover books.


I feel like that's a big thing in the book world. But I am a paperback girl through and through. I like the size better (generally--don't give me a chunky mass market, though). I like that I can shove them in my purse. I like holding them better (no pesky dust jacket to worry about!)

2. Cheap-o!
I am a total Scrooge when it comes to buying physical copies of books. I am always canvassing second hand shops and thrift stores for books in good condition. I don't mind if there's a little wear and tear to the book either, so long as the price is right.

3. Scratch & Dent
BUT. There better not be any damage to my brand new book. When I purchase a new copy of a book, I expect it to be in pristine condition. There have been many times where I've put a book back on the shelf at the store because it had some cosmetic damage. (And yes, I will absolutely go through all the duplicates on the shelf to pick the best one before I buy it.)

4. Library Binges
I have a TON of books on my bookshelf, but sometimes I get in these library moods where I just have to take out another ton of books. I have all these books on my shelf to read--and I actually do want to read all of them--but instead I find myself browsing at the library instead. It's like the bookish version of "I don't have anything to wear!"

5. Cover Love (or Hate)
I am the biggest cover judger. I'm so shallow sometimes when it comes to a book. When it's from the library, that doesn't bother me so much--so long as it's one I actually plan on picking up. But when it comes to buying a book, I will definitely sift through to find the best cover. (Side-eyes the US editions of the Mistborn trilogy as a pertinent example--they're just so ugly compared to the UK ones!)

6. Weird Buying Habits
If a book is cheap, or I'm in a spending mood, I tend to pick up books on a whim. But if I don't like the book, I can part with it fairly easily.

When it comes to buying books I've already read, however, I'm much more discerning. I'll only grab a copy if it's a book I've absolutely LOVED. Weird, right?

7. Commenting
I'm a pretty bad commenter, in general. I'm a big time lurker. I read all the posts and watch all the videos, but I rarely comment. I find that I don't think I have anything worthwhile to add. I'm trying to work on interacting more with my fellow bloggers... I want to feel like I'm part of the community, after all!

8. Positive Reviews
I often struggle to write 4- and 5-star reviews. When I dislike a book, it's easy to pick apart the problems I had. When I've enjoyed a book, sometimes the reasons for those feelings are harder for me to quantify. Even in the glowing reviews, I tend to mention minor quibbles. Like why a 4-star book wasn't a 5-star read for me. Or whatever.

9. Scheduling
I have recently discovered the wonder of scheduling and queuing blog posts! It's sort of silly that it took me 6 months to figure it out. I'm a very organized and type-A person by nature, so it's surprising to me that I didn't think to plan to blog like I plan for everything else. What a difference it's made for me now though, I love it!

10. Physical Copy
I'm fully prepared to admit that it may be because I don't have the right one, but I don't particularly like reading on my eReader. I much prefer having a physical book in my hand. I like the feeling of it, the weight. I like being able to flip through and see how many pages are left in the chapter. Or flip ahead and see where the next section break is. I like the physical indicator of my progress when I use my bookmark.

So! There are my blogging confessions. Are they similar to yours? Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Monday Mix || Ludo

It's time for another band that I adore.

I first started listening to Ludo in 2009 and the whole album "You're Awful, I Love You" is 110% worth your time.

But one of the things I adore about this band is their ability to write the most unconventional love songs. Love Me Dead and The Horror Of Our Love come to mind immediately. But also the newer Anything For You from their 2011 album.

If you like catchy and slightly offbeat, then you're going to enjoy this. And like last time, I had to use my favourite site: Best Of.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Review || The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1) by Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★
More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

Oh my goodness, this book was so good. Yes, it was slow and dense at time, relying on a lot of intentional worldbuilding and info-dumping, but I actually really love that.

Unlike some of the mediocre books I've read as of late (and even some of the quite good ones), there is no doubt that this world is fully realized. Sanderson knows the politics, religion, geography and history of this alternate history he's created. And he knows the laws and rules of Rithmatics inside out. From the way the characters speak and act, to what's hinted just slightly out of view, to the drawings that preface each chapter, it's a fully realized and tightly constructed world.

Not to say that it wasn't confusing at times. I spent a lot of time at the beginning of chapters trying to really understand the Rithmatic drawings. But it got easier and easier each time, as I became more familiar with the rules. I can understand, though, how some people might feel bogged down by the complexity.

But truthfully, this book made me remember why I love epics and fantasy so much. It's bolstered my courage to pull some of those chunky books off the shelf and give them a go. Because I adored the way this book was set up.

Also, this book was supremely creepy. Sanderson has successfully made me afraid of chalk. Seriously. It's more his storytelling, it paints such a clear narrative picture (combined with the well placed illustrations) that just have my imagination acting overtime. I was more freaked out after the prologue of this book than I ever was during 172 Hours on the Moon--which has been lauded as genuinely terrifying (but that I found lacking). I loved it.

That said, I've gone with 4.5 stars instead of the full 5 because of a few minor quibbles.

Because this book is very plot heavy, I found my attachment to the characters came second. I enjoyed everyone well enough, but I was never totally attached to them. Granted, this is the first in the series, and about half the length of Sanderson's usual fare. It's not a dealbreaker by any means here, just something I'm looking forward to Sanderson expanding upon in future books.

And then there's the whole thing about women in this book. Okay, look, I get it. You're setting this in an alternate early 1900s. I understand that the few disparaging comments about women are meant to be "period accurate". But the lack of female diversity was a real bummer. It just felt like a big old boys club at times, and I think there could've been more representation.

Still, despite my annoyances, this was a fantastic book. I read it almost reverently. And smacked my hand against the front cover when I was done because it was just that good. Highly recommended!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

June Book Haul

As I've alluded to previously, my personal life got crazy in June. First, it's the last month of school and everyone (8th graders and teachers included) go a little mad in anticipation of summer. But before that there are the dreaded final exams. Which are hell to mark.

Then, because it's June, every sub-group at school wants to have a year end party. I went to three separate parties in one week. It was fun, but exhausting.

And then, I sort of got thrown into a house-hunting scramble because my landlady decided to give me notice on the apartment I'm renting from her. I have until September 30 to find a new place to live. It was really sudden and through no fault of mine (she wants her son to move in for college), so I basically spent a week crying. And now am looking at properties to buy because I figure I'm a grown up now and should own property.

So all of that combined lead to a bit of retail therapy. In the form of books. Oops?

Value Village
TBR Pile

I actually really like book hunting at Value Village, because even though it's hit or miss, sometimes you can snag some amazing finds. I've never read this classic, so I decided to give it a try.

Classroom Library

All of these books were in great shape and will make a nice addition to my little classroom library. (Though, I may have to curate my collection a bit since I'm teaching senior high in the fall instead of grade 8!)

Already Read

I have a copy of this book already, but I let a friend borrow it quite a while ago and she shows no signs of returning it any time soon. So I wanted a replacement copy because I've been thinking I'm overdue for a reread of this!

TBR Pile

... Oops?

Most of my justification for this is that I was sad, they were cheap and on my TBR for the most part anyway.

Also, moving into a new place will mean more bookshelves, right?

Haha. Sorry not sorry.

Anyway! What did you pick up this month? Have you read any of these? Let's chat in the comments!