Sunday, 26 October 2014

Review || Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo ★★★☆☆
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.

I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed with this book.

Not that it wasn't a great read--because it was. I absolutely devoured it. Bardugo did a superb job leaving you hanging at the end of the chapter, desperate to keep reading. There were a few times when I told myself I'd put the book down after I finished the chapter I was reading... but by the end I just couldn't! I had to keep reading.

There was also a fabulous twist with respect to the search for the third amplifier that I did not see coming. It actually floored me. (Its resolution was a little lacklustre, though, but that's only because I like it when the stakes stay high and consequences are sometimes dreadful.)

Still. All that said. There was just something missing here. Something about this conclusion that did not meet my expectations. In general, it was the resolution to a number of plot threads that ended up being too convenient.

It's not that I didn't like the ending. That I wasn't pleased with how it all turned out. But more that feeling of "we could've had it all". And it just did not deliver. Maybe my expectations were too high.

Still, it is absolutely one for the bookshelves. And a series, overall, that I thoroughly enjoyed and would absolutely recommend.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Review || Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J Maas ★★★★☆
In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

I loved this book. It had everything I wanted: action, intrigue, secrets, BAMFs, love triangles...


Hold up.

A love triangle I actually enjoyed?????

Say it ain't so.

But it is. Because there was just something so compelling about the romantic forces at play in this book. There was no clear and decisive preference in my opinion. Which never happens to me. I always can firmly choose a team to side with. And in this book, I didn't want to.

Sighs happily. How refreshing.

Besides all that, Celaena is a fantastic character in her own right. And I am absolutely itching to get more of her backstory. The supporting cast of characters are also wonderful in their own right. I'm particularly partial to Nehemia.

Maas does a brilliant job of teasing out tidbits of information about the world. It feels like jumping into a fully realized universe, despite how much there still is to know.

I was enthralled with the tale, despite its flaws. I cannot wait to get my hands on both the prequel and the sequel. (Especially with book 3 out already!) Definitely recommended!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Review || More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This by Patrick Ness ★★☆☆☆
A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? The street seems familiar, but everything is abandoned, overgrown, covered in dust.

What's going on? Is it real? Or has he woken up in his own personal hell? Seth begins to search for answers, hoping desperately that there must be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife...

I am so torn. I really have no idea how to rate this book.

This entire review contains spoilers for this book. 
Turn back now if you haven't read it!

The first 160 pages of this book were so good. It was everything I wanted. Seth coming to grips with what had happened to him, us discovering what had lead him to this point. The bleakness, the loneliness.

And then the story twists. And at first, I was willing to play along. Because the first part had been so good.

But in the end, I mostly just feel betrayed.

I've seen people complain about the open-ended-ness of the conclusion. Which, I understand, but honestly, if you didn't see that coming from fifty pages away, I don't really know what to tell you.

Ness plays this game with you in the narrative. Is it real? Not real? Does it matter? (I want to make a Peeta Mellark joke here, I am restraining myself.) And while I can understand what he was going for, it's not a choice I respected. It started to feel like we were trying just a bit too hard.

Which is a real shame. Because there are moments of sheer brilliance hidden away in here. The first 160 pages, as I mentioned, but also the slow unraveling of what had happened. The dynamics and interplay between characters was so strong, so real. I would literally read an entire book about Tomasz.

And that's part of why I think I'm so torn. Because I am so disappointed. Even as we hit the weird Twilight Zone-esque happenings, I was still prepared to go along for the ride. But it just continued to devolve.

I was genuinely frustrated by this book as I finished it. Unsatisfied, not because of the open ending, but because of the wasted potential. This was not a book with answers. Which I get. But instead of being a poignant tale about a young boy coming to terms with his life and death, it ended up as a overwrought cliched mess.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Top 5 Wednesday || Series I Won't Finish

So, if you didn't know, Top 5 Wednesday is primarily a BookTube feature. Started by Lainey @ gingerreadlainey, there's a Goodreads group as well.

This week's topic is not actually the one I'm posting about today. But I saw the video responses floating around online this past week or so and thought, "Yeah, I wanna do that."

So here I am.

And here are the list of the Top 5 Series I Won't Finish.

1. The Syrena Legacy by Anna Banks
This book was too little substance for my tastes. I couldn't stand any of the characters and some super problematic elements were treated as perfectly acceptable. I have no desire to continue and, in fact, donated my copy of this book pretty much immediately after I was finished it.

2. The Firelight trilogy by Sophie Jordan
This one doesn't bring up as visceral feelings as the previous series. But it wasn't particularly memorable. My review on Goodreads wonders if I would've even bothered finishing the book had I not been stuck on an airplane for many hours. So.

3. The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner
Maybe not a super unpopular opinion, because I know this series has mixed reviews--but I figured it was fitting given the film adaptation is upon us. While the premise was intriguing there was too much "everyone knows something you don't know" nonsense. I couldn't make it through this. I looked up some spoilers online and wasn't too disappointed I'd decided to drop this. (I will be seeing the movie though.)

4. The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr
I ended up skimming about 75% of this book. It just never captured my attention. I can't remember if it was the characters or writing style or both that aggravated me. But given that this is a six book series, I can't be bothered to invest in something I didn't care about.

5. The Last Werewolf trilogy by Glen Duncan
A recent read (and review to follow). This was just too "male power fantasy" for me. Yuck. Though I am interested in Tallula's story, I think I'd want it to be written by someone else. This checks off too many boxes on the "super problematic representation of women" list. So bye.

How about you? Any series you're not finishing? Read any of these and think I should give them another chance? (Or not!) Let's chat in the comments!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Review || Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker #1) by Paolo Bacigalupi ★★☆☆☆
In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota--and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life...

I'm torn between 2 and 3 stars again. It's not as though I didn't like the book, but I'm not totally sure if it was really beyond "okay".

2.5 stars?

I don't want to undersell this book. It's definitely not a bad one. The writing style is tight, the story is gripping and fast paced. I read 60% of the book in one sitting without really trying. It definitely embodies the descriptor "page-turner".

But it wasn't that great. The world was interesting. The conflict compelling. But I felt this sort of detachment from the characters. Nailer was a decent protagonist, but I never really loved him. The other characters existed mostly two-dimensionally in the background. Even the one's Nailer has strong feelings about. I don't know, I was interested in the story but never invested.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it, though. It's an interesting and highly plausible take on dystopia. I'm glad to have read it, but I don't think it's one I'd probably ever come back to again.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Seriously Series Update 3

I'm having a hard time believing we're 3/4 of the way through the year. But that means 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 things continue to truck along. I knew when I started that I'd never get through all the books, but it's nice to have a list of the series I want to be getting through. I've made some additions and omissions over the past few months, because I've picked up series I want to continue and dropped ones that I'm not that keen on.


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'm basically a failure at the restarting series side of things, because there are too many other books I want to read. But oh well!

  • The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo
    • Ruin and Rising
(Sadly, I wasn't super thrilled with the ending! It was all right, but I felt like it could've delivered so much more!)

Series Started In 2014
I've sort of slowed down in this category this quarter. It really all boils down to the problem every book lover has, "too many books, not enough time!"
  • Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
    • Ship Breaker
  • Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
    • Falling Kingdoms
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas
    • Throne of Glass
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
    • The 5th Wave
I'm probably going to be dropping the Ship Breaker series, to be honest. I wasn't that keen on book one and despite the fact that it's only a duology, I don't really have any desire to read book 2 any time soon.

Falling Kingdoms was a bit of a disappointment too, actually. Not as bad, because I'll definitely be reading on in the series, but I felt let down. It was trying too hard to be a YA version of A Game of Thrones I think.

I loved Throne of Glass and have heard the series only gets better from here. So I can't wait to continue it. And I'm excited to read The Infinite Sea as well, since that was just released. Though I've heard pretty mixed reviews about it so far....

Overall Results
A lot of first books this quarter and not a lot of completion (save The Grisha trilogy). But a number of next books or series concluders are due out this fall and winter, so hopefully I'll jump on those right away! I'm especially looking forward to the 3rd Raven Cycle book, the conclusion of The Darkest Minds and more of The Lunar Chronicles

What series are you reading right now? How are they going? Any thoughts about these books? Let's chat in the comments!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

September Book Haul

With the acquisition and assembly of my new bookshelves for my new place, it was only really a matter of time before I bought a ton of new books to go on it!

This month totals 15 books, but because I bought these either second hand or through BookOutlet, it didn't do that big of a dent in my finances.


Value Village
Already Read

This is the second copy of The Book Thief that I've purchased. I loaned my original copy to a friend and don't have any idea when I might see it again. So I bought another copy to have. It'll end up in my classroom library if I get the original back.

And though I usually only buy books I really loved, I decided to get The Knife of Never Letting Go because I feel as though I ought to give it another try. We'll see!

TBR Pile

Two second books in a series I already have the first books for, and two first books in a series I've been meaning to read. How can you say no at bargain prices?

Already Read

I read Elsewhere earlier this year and basically did not stop crying throughout it. So I knew I had to own it. And I impulse bought the first two books of The Grisha trilogy in hardcover because a) they were cheap b) I actually don't care that much for the paperback version of Siege and Storm and c) I want to round the collection off with Ruin and Rising stat. So the old paperback I have of Shadow and Bone goes to my classroom library.

TBR Pile

Oops. Yeah, I kind of went overboard here. But they were all so cheap and I needed some retail therapy okay? I'm probably the most excited for Old Man's War because I loved Redshirts by John Scalzi and have been meaning to read his other work.

So that's that haul! Have you read any of these? What did you think? Any good book purchases this month? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

September Wrap Up & October TBR

Yowza! I've surpassed yet another reading goal for this year! This is actually bordering on insanity right now. I've upped my goal again to 88--which might seem like a random number, but there's a method to this madness, I swear. Before this year, I'd only ever topped out at 44 books in one year. That had been my maximum. So, the new goal 88 will be exactly double! Aah!

Also, I have an IRL friend who told me in June she was sort of competing with me, trying to read just as many, if not more, books than I was. We're friends on Goodreads too, so I've been keeping an eye on her challenge. Before, she was always a handful of books behind me, but now I'm only one book ahead of her! Better get reading!!


Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown 
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han 
Reality Boy by AS King 
The Last Werewolf (The Last Werewolf #1) by Glen Duncan 
Shattered Souls (Souls #1) by Mary Lindsey 
Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronciles #1) by Jessica Spotswood 
The Gathering Storm (Katerina #1) by Robin Bridges 
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn 
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein 

GOODREADS: 78/88 [+9]
ALPHABET: 20/26 [+0]
SERIES: 9 complete [+0]; 8 ongoing [+0]


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Old Man's War (Old Man's War #1) by John Scalzi
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

A number of the Goodreads groups I'm part of this month are reading books that are either on my shelves, or that I really wanted to read anyway. So I actually have a reasonable goal for my TBR this month.

Another book that I want to read but doesn't exactly fit into these two categories is The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I'm borrowing a copy of it from a friend and it's been calling to me these past few days. So I'd like to read it in October!

How did your September reading go? What was your favourite book? What are your plans for October? Got any spooky books to recommend? Let's chat in the comments!