Sunday, 31 January 2016

Review || The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance #1) by N.K. Jemisin ★★★★☆
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

This was a really excellent read. I'd been wanting to try Jemisin's work for a while now and the combination of the praise for her new series and my happening across a short story of hers in a collection I was reading really put things in motion for me.

There was just something about this book. I had a hard time putting it down. And when I did, I found myself constantly thinking about the characters. I really like politically driven fantasy--navigating the court, unraveling the secrets, figuring out who is scheming with whom. Parts of it really reminded me of Kushiel's Dart, especially in tone, though I couldn't tell you exactly why. They're very different books.

Still, the worldbuilding was spectacular, the characters were complex and interesting and I enjoyed myself every time I sat down to read. Some of the writing was a bit clunky at times, but given that this is Jemisin's debut, it didn't bother me much. I can't wait to read more from her.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

January Book Haul

I am trying REALLY hard to limit my book buying this year. It's already been a struggle. Book Outlet is calling my name. But I must resist!

The rules I'm trying to hold myself to are as follows:

  • if it's a book I've already read and loved, I'm allowed to buy it
  • if it's a book in a series I'm currently reading, I'm allowed to buy it
  • read 5 buy 1 just because (doesn't include the above categories)
... I'm trying. I really am. My library system is really great, actually. And the inter-library loan process is also quite straightforward. I just have to be patient. Which is tricky. It's also why I'm trying to reserve my read 5 before I buy books for either things I can't get at all through the library or brand new releases I'm impatient about reading.

And to be fair, I ordered all of the books you're about to see here in December. So. (And they also actually conform to my rules?)

Chapters Online
Already Read

All of these were to complete (or get caught up with) series I already owned at least one book of. I had Blue Lily, Lily Blue and In the Afterlight already, for example, and needed their matching hardcover predecessors. And These Broken Stars was the only Starbound novel I didn't have so.

TBR Pile

I read Arrows of the Queen late last year and absolutely adored it. So I knew I needed to complete this trilogy ASAP.

I'm prepared for this restraint to blow up in my face at some point, but for now, we'll see! Maybe I can convince myself to do a library haul to make up for the emptiness...!

Have you read any of these? What books are new to your shelves this month? Let's chat in the comments!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Totally Should've Book Tag

I saw this tag going around and thought it would be fun to do. Check out the original here!

1. Totally should've gotten a sequel
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

I've heard rumblings that this may turn into a series of some kind, which I am totally up for. This book was fantastic as a standalone, but I'm not going to object to getting to spend more time in this world!

2. Totally should've had a spin off series
The Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

I would probably do pretty much anything for more Laini Taylor at all in general, but I adored this series and lot and it's definitely left itself open for a spin off, so who knows?

3. An author who totally should write more books

And by more I mean MORE SIMON SNOW, but also really just more anything. But more fantasy for sure.

4. A character who totally should've ended up with someone else
I'm usually pretty good about rooting for the right love interest in a triangle. But I'm still a little baffled that Harry/Ginny was endgame. Not that I was ever actually convinced I would get Harry/Draco, because hello, I understand how this works, but I think things would've been more compelling with Harry alone.

(Not that I read the last two books. Because I rage quit after OotP. For a lot of reasons. But shush.)

5. Totally should've ended differently
Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

This is a really different type of book, because I'm not one to usually read straight up chick-lit. But the concept of arranged marriages was interesting and I was in the mood for fluff and it started off well enough. But things kind of went downhill. And there was dumb "twist". And there needed to be 300% more kicking his dumb ass to the curb instead of forgiveness and blah. This left a bad taste in my mouth.

6. Totally should've had a movie franchise
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. Holy smokes, can you imagine how awesome this would be. I am, of course, choosing to interpret this as "a movie franchise with adaptations I will be happy with" so.

(It was this or the Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, tbh. So all my faves are sci-fi.)

7. Totally should've had a TV show
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

I had a hard time with this one, but I went with The Rithmatist because I think you could do some neat episodic things with the whole mystery aspect of this. And you could introduce the magic system incrementally
like the book does. And there's a lot of room for expansion.

8. Totally should've had only one point of view
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

If only because I couldn't actually tell the POVs apart. Seriously. Sometimes I would read something and go, "Wait, what? Who's narrating this section again?" Yeah. If you can't write different sounding characters, don't bother.

Otherwise, I tend to like multiple POVs quite a bit. But mostly because I like ensemble casts.

9. Totally should have a cover change
The Others series by Anne Bishop

I love this series a lot but man those covers do it NO justice at all. Bleh.

10. Totally should've kept the original covers
The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan


11. Totally should've stopped at book one
To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

I just don't really see why a sequel was necessary. I sort of liked the open-ended-ness of the ending. And I haven't heard super positive things about the second book anyway. I don't really intend to read it either.

And there you have it! What did you think of the tag and my answers? Got any of your own to share? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Top 5 Wednesday || Disappointing Eye Candy

I judge books by their cover. 100%. I'm only a little ashamed to admit it. Because damn there are some lovely covers out there. However, sometimes the outsides and insides don't match. And I'm not just talking about the crying shame that is every 90s fantasy book I've ever seen.

But sometimes, the pretty cover is the best thing the book has going for it.

Here's my Top 5 Disappointing Eye Candy (or books that looked beautiful, but I didn't like).

1. Trial By Fire (Worldwalker #1) by Josephine Angelini
I love this cover. Look at this cover. It is so epic looking. But Trial By Fire was only a mediocre read for me. I won't be reading the rest of the trilogy. [Read my mini-review.]

2. Zodiac (Zodiac #1) by Romina Russell
Ugh, SPACE. Look at it! The cover is so gorgeous. And the cancer symbol in the "o" of Zodiac. I love it. But this book was most just a mess for me. Bizarrely unnecessarily complicated and too superficial. [Read my full review.]

3. Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun
LOOK AT THIS COVER. All the covers in this series are amazing, tbh. But this book was so so so bad. [Read my full review.]

4. More Than This by Patrick Ness
The hardcover of this book is SO LOVELY. With the little cut-out door and the contrast and UGH. I'm really glad I got this from the library instead of buying it though, because I'd have a hard time letting it go it's so pretty. But mostly this book was a mess. [Read my full review.]

5. Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
This one is probably a case of "it's not you, it's me", but this book was not my thing. The cover is gorgeous though. What a shame. [Read my mini-review.]

And there you have it! My disappointing (but lovely looking) books. Have you read any of these? What books would you add to this list? Let's chat in the comments!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016


Sadly, another round of RYBSAT is at an end. Let's see how I made out with the reading!

1. Trial By Fire (Worldwalker #1) by Josephine Angelini
2 stars. An interesting premise boggled down by mediocre writing and some troublingly problematic elements. If you want parallel worlds and universe jumping, I'd recommend Tandem by Anna Jarzab instead.

2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
DNF. I read 50-70 pages and was already skimming along. This just didn't end up being what I expected--which is too bad, because look at that cover.

3. Fortune's Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach
4.5 stars. Oh man I LOVED this one. I had a feeling I was going to enjoy it, but I didn't expect to like it as much as I did! Watch out for a review coming soon!

... And then I cheated a little bit.

Listen. My inter-library loan came in and they sign them out to you immediately and you can't renew them, so I had to shuffle things around a bit.

4. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
2.5 stars. I wanted to like this more than I did. The content is so important, but the writing never immersed me. I've got a full review of this one scheduled as well.

5. An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir
2.5 stars. Another cheat since this is also a library book, but shush. Ultimately, this one let me down. I just finished composing a review for this, so watch out for that a little later on. (And read The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski instead, tbh.)

And there you have it! Not bad for only a week of reading, even if I did deviate from my shelf a bit. Oops! I love this readathon a lot, so you can bet I'll be up for round 8, whenever that is!

Have you read any of these? What did you read this past week? Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Monday Mix || I'm Going On An Adventure

If you didn't already know, I'm a teacher. And in case you were wondering, marking can be the most tedious thing ever. Seriously.

I've also become rather old lately, and I tend to have a difficult time listening to music with lyrics when I'm trying to multitask. I usually ends up with me stopping whatever else it is I'm trying to do in favour of lip synching along.

Put these two things together and you get to the subject of my "marking" music. What tends to happen is I go to 8tracks and search the "epic" tag. Marking eight-grade math tests is never actually epic, but I can usually convince myself I'm achieving greatness with the right soundtrack on anyway.

So rewind to a few weeks ago, the beginning of school after Christmas break--and lo and behold, marking. That's when I stumbled upon this wonderful playlist.

It is just the right mix of all the wonderful adventure-y songs. Upbeat, charming and impossible not to love. Hence why I needed to showcase it for this week's mix. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I'm Going On An Adventure

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Review || A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent #1) by Marie Brennan ★★★★☆
You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart—no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments—even at the risk of one’s life—is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten...

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

Oh holy smokes, I adored this. If you like fantasy-of-manners ala Gail Carriger's Soulless you should probably add this to you TBR immediately.

The writing is charming, the character voice strong and the world delightful--because even though this feels like Victorian England, it's tried and true fantasy. But enough so that newer readers to the genre won't be too put off by the learning curve. The world feels very familiar, and if you've read any historical fiction taking place in the 19th century you'll feel right at home with this one.

Isabella is an absolute delight as well. Narrating some of the exploits of her younger self, she often addresses the reader directly--sometimes to fantastic comedic effect. (She dares you to challenge her on the inclusion of some details that wouldn't be brought up in polite company and it is darling.) It also has the added benefit of being tantalizing foreshadowing sometimes.

Isabella is reckless, headstrong and determined to make more of herself than is expected of a woman of her time. And let me tell you, I am all about women defying societal propriety and expectation in order to strike out and discover something great. I love those kinds of stories, and this one did not disappoint.

That said, as other reviewers have mentioned, this ends up focusing less on the dragons and more of the memoir part of the title. Which I didn't mind at all, but I understand why some might be disappointed. Still, the dragons do feature, and I expect there will be much more of them in future books as well--which I can't wait to read!

If any of this sounds even remotely appealing, I'd definitely recommend picking this up. You're in for fantastic characters, enthusiastic discussions of science! and quite possibly a lot of capital-f Feelings about parts of that ending if you're anything like me.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Top 5 Wednesday || Favourite Buzz Words

So there are certain words that appear in the synopsis or marketing of a book that just make me drop everything and immediately add that book to my TBR. Sometimes this works out in my favour, other times not so much.

So for Top 5 Wednesday this week here are my 5 Favourite Buzz Words.

1. Soulmates/Soulbond
I'm a huge sucker for this nonsense in all its forms. I will go out of my way to pick up anything that even slightly has to do with soulmates. I still prefer a slow burn over insta-love in this case though; and some of the best stuff I've read works actively to explore and subvert the trope. And though this is definitely something I see more often in fanfic, you put this in your synopsis and I am so in it's not even funny.

2. Reincarnation/Past Lives
Especially when it goes hand in hand with #1. Whoa-boy can I click that "want to read" button any faster? No. I cannot. I am 99.8% certain that watching Sailor Moon as a kid is responsible for this. But I can't even tell you how much I love it when there's history there... especially if there's a little bit of memory play with remembering past lives. UGH. GIVE IT TO ME NOW.

Okay, not a buzz word, per se, but stay with me here. Because I'm not really talking about your standard contemporary queer lit either. Not that it doesn't have it's place, it certainly does and is vitally important, but it too often ends in tragedy. No, I'm talking about your standard SFF romp (or any genre really) with queer main characters. Incidentally queer characters. A story that plays out in exactly the same way it would if it was about straight characters. More of this always please.

4. Historical Fantasy
Less of a buzz word and more of genre. I really like it when you combine a historical-ish setting with some fantastical elements. Necromancy in Tsarist Russia (The Gathering Storm), magical prohibition in the 1920s (A Criminal Magic), steampunk in the Wild West (Revenge and the Wild)... and so on! I'm in, let's do this.

5. X Meets Y
Okay okay, sometimes this gets a little dicey. Because some times the publishers get is SO WRONG and some times they get it SO RIGHT. It's hard to tell. Hence why it's at the bottom of my list. But done properly there's can be just enough intrigue for me to keep going and want to read it. These Vicious Masks, for example, is marketed as Jane Austen meets X-Men and that's literally all I needed to know before adding it. On the other hand, The Young Elites was supposed to be X-Men meets Assassin's Creed (noticing a trend here, are you?) and I absolutely loathed it. So. Hit or miss.

And there you have it! What are your favourite buzz words? What did you think of mine? Let's chat in the comments!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Top 10 Tuesday || Recently Added to My TBR

Top 10 Tuesday is, as always, brought to you by The Broke and The Bookish. This week: Recently Added to My TBR.

I'm really bad about adding books to my TBR, and by that I mean I do it way to easily. If something sounds interesting to me, I'm pretty much in. I check the reviews sometimes, and the overall ratings, and I've tried to be more discerning about just adding whatever I want--but those stats and reviews can be misleading. I also try to see if my library has a copy or not, because I'm really trying not to buy a million more books this year.

But despite my best efforts, I still have a huge TBR list on Goodreads. It's over 300 books. Sigh.

Anyway, here are the most recent additions to that list:

1. Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine
I've had my eye on this for a while now, but never officially added it to the TBR until recently. But come on, a dystopian centered around the Library of Alexandria? Please.

2. Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer
This was on a recommended list based on some other books I've added and I was intrigued by the idea of magic through song.

3. The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman
With a world-jumping premise that reminded me of V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic and librarian spies, what's not to love?

4. Starflight (Starflight #1) by Melissa Landers
Sci-fi space fugitives who are distrustful of each other but have to work together in order to survive? I'm in.

5. These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1) by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas
This is pitched as  Jane Austen meets X-Men and I literally didn't need to know one single other thing about this before adding it to my TBR.

6. Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
This doesn't even have a cover yet... it's not due out until September. But holy smokes I cannot wait. It's set up typically--a princess is shipped off to a foreign land to marry a prince--but then she falls in love with the prince's sister instead. Heck yeah.

7. The Incarnations by Susan Barker
"Who are you? you must be wondering. I am your soulmate, your old friend, and I have come back to this city of sixteen million in search of you." Done done done and done. I am here for this.

8. The Rook (The Checquy Files #1) by Daniel O'Malley
Amnesia plotlines, supernatural creatures, political conspiracies. Sounds great!

9. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
With a backdrop of the civil rights movement, this promises to be poignant and probably heartbreaking. I've heard nothing but amazing things about it.

And there we have it. (Yes, I am going with 9 instead of 10 just so I can have nice groups of 3, shush.) Have you read any of these? What are some of the books you've most recently added to your TBR? Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Monday Mix || Rubber Ring Mix 2015

The title of this is going to throw people off, so let me explain.

From The Smiths song Rubber Ring:
But don't forget the songs that made you cry
And the songs that saved your life
Yes, you're older now, and you're a clever swine
But they were the only ones who ever stood by you
I started listening to The Smiths in earnest in 2004. More specifically, my first year of university. And for whatever reason, those lyrics stuck with me. For a number of years, after my spring semester was over and I was getting ready for summer break, I made a lengthy playlist. My "Rubber Ring" playlist--the songs that I'd discovered during that school year that I listened to over and over. Songs that I couldn't believe I'd only just started listening to, because it seemed like I'd known them for so much longer than just one school year. Songs that "saved my life", or at the very least, my sanity.

Music has always been important to me. And though I can't always have it on a background noise any more (or, at least, not if it has lyrics) there are still songs that have shaped my year.

So here's a slightly different Monday Mix for you. A list of songs that I started listening to in 2015 that are important to me.

Ingrid Michaelson - Can't Help Falling in Love

Just a gorgeous and haunting cover. There are a lot of Ingrid Michaelson songs I could put here as well, but this is the one I'm drawn back to over and over.

Alison Krauss - If I Didn't Know Any Better

Sometimes I listen to Songza to help fall asleep--and one night this came on. I haven't been able to stop listening to it since.

Fall Out Boy - Centuries

Catchy as all get out, I always turn up the stereo in my car when this one comes on. 

Bear's Den - Agape

I just adore this song. The chorus just gets me every time.

Walk The Moon - Shut Up and Dance

I really like catchy pop songs, can you tell? There's a reason this is my ringtone.

Sleeping At Last - Light

Picking one song from this collection was really tricky. All of his songs are so gorgeous. Please do yourself a favour and listen to Atlas: Year One in its entirety immediately.

Lord Huron - The Night We Met

I heard this first on a Shepard/Garius mix on 8tracks and immediately fell in love with it. The melody is so haunting and I just cannot get over the perfection of the way the chorus descends with each line.

Taylor Swift - Bad Blood

Aka my favourite music video of all time. But also a song that I will absolutely drop everything in order to dance in my kitchen when it comes on.

Seth Glier feat Crystal Bowersox - If I Could Change One Thing

Another song that came up on Songza as I was trying to fall asleep and I've just never stopped listening to.

Lorde - Everybody Wants to Rule the World

I have a lot of feelings about those characters I was telling you about from high school when I listen to this song. It was pretty much on repeat the last few days of December because I could not get over how well it fit the villain.

Birdy - Words As Weapons

Another Songza discovery. I just love it a lot. It almost made the cut for my "Like Weapons" playlist, for obvious reasons.

Jasmine Thompson - Stay With Me

This cover is just so so good. Just listen to it. Ugh. I adore it.

Elizabeth & the Catapult - Wish I Didn't

(Warning for NSFW language) Another Songza discovery. The first line immediately captivated me and here we are.

Phew! There we go! Hope you enjoy. Let me know what songs you can't stop listening to!