Thursday, 31 March 2016

Series Update || 1st Quarter

I am terrible at finishing series. I really am. So back in 2014 I participated in the Seriously Series Challenge to try and keep myself accountable. It was good to keep track of what I'd started and what I wanted to finish in the year.

Sadly, the official challenge is no longer running. But I kept my Series Page up so I could keep track on my own. My plan is to do an update post like this every three months to see how things are moving along.

So, let's see how January-March worked out!

Continuing Seriesaka I only need to read a few books/new releases

Starbound by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner 
  • Their Fractured Light 
Heralds of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey
  • Arrow's Flight

New Series

Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
  • A Natural History of Dragons
The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Paradox Trilogy by Rachel Bach
  • Fortune's Pawn
  • Honor's Knight
The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff 
  • Illuminae
The Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat 
  • Captive Prince
  • Prince's Gambit
  • Kings Rising
The Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling (sort of)
  • Luck in the Shadows
  • Stalking Darkness
  • Traitor's Moon
  • Glimpses (short stories)

All right, let me start off by explaining the "sort of" above. Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series is like, 7 books currently, I think? And I'm not sure if I'm going to continue it or not. The first three form a nice self-contained trilogy. And Glimpses tied up some loose ends as well. And given the summary of book 4... well, I'm not sure. I went into some detail in my Series Review, so you can read about it there, if you want.

I only have one book to read in both the Heralds of Valdemar and Paradox trilogies. And I'm caught up on The Illuminae Files until the second book is released in the fall.

I'm considering putting the Inheritance trilogy on hold... I had book 2 out from the library and didn't have much desire to read it, so I took it back. They're companion novels anyway? And I mostly read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms because I wanted a taste of Jemisin's writing before picking up her latest release. So we'll see.

I absolutely devoured the Captive Prince trilogy as well. I read Kings Rising in one sitting and regret NOTHING. Also, despite my lukewarm feelings about continuing the series, I really adored the Nightrunner books and characters. It's hard to believe I didn't know anything about the characters before February!

As for the rest of it, well, it's fairly self-explanatory, yes? I really need to get on some series rereads though, since I haven't even touched that category yet. But overall, I think it's going fairly well!

What series are you reading or finishing right now? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Top 5 Wednesday || Least Favourite Book in a Series

When I first saw this topic I didn't think I'd be able to come up with a list... but after staring at my bookshelves, I think I might be able to pull this one off.

So! My least favourite book in the series:

I really did enjoy Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy. Siege and Storm is my favourite book of the three. So I had high hopes for the conclusion Ruin and Rising. And that's not to say this was a bad book, because it wasn't. I was frantically flipping the pages to see what happened next. But there was something anti-climactic about that ending. And no, not because of the romance aspect--I was fine with that, actually. But there was just something that left me wanting. Like, we could've had it all... but Bardugo just didn't go there. Things felt too neatly tied up. Too easily resolved.

Unfortunately Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy is one that just kept going downhill for me. The first book, Feed, was like 5-star level unbelievably good. And I liked Deadline, but not as much. And then Blackout was all right, but man it took things in a different direction. Some of the plot points were too out of left field for me. And I don't know... "it's not incest since we're not technically related" is just never a plot device that works for me. Again, this conclusion just felt too tidy in places. And it made all the suffering from book 1 lose its impact.

And now the opposite. The Captive Prince trilogy was one that got better and better for me as the books went on. In fact, I read the titular book 1 and was kind of baffled about the hype. There were so many people falling all over themselves because of this series and I liked Captive Prince well enough, but it wasn't inspiring any kind of manic devotion in me. And if that sounds like your experience HOLY SMOKES READ BOOK 2 PLEASE. Everything took off for me from there and I totally get the hype now. I'm actually really interested to reread this first book knowing what I do now. I think it'll be a very different experience.

Another series where my favourite was book 2 (Days of Blood & Starlight) and my least favourite was book 3. Dreams of Gods & Monsters was gorgeously written and surprisingly quick to read despite its size. But it features this weirdly important subplot that has never really been mentioned before and then relies basically on deus ex machina to solve the major problem of the series. And it was just disappointing. I still adore this series, and Laini Taylor's writing in general, but this conclusion made me feel a little confused and underwhelmed.

Okay, this is kind of cheating since I haven't finished the Lunar Chronicles series yet, but barring some monumental upset, I feel like my answer will be the same regardless. All the books in the series were improvements on the last here. But something about Fairest just didn't do it for me. Reading about Levana was interesting, but I guess I wanted more totally unrepentant villain than I got. In her own narrative, it makes sense that Levana wouldn't see herself as the villain, but she was a bit too... I don't know, childish? in her approach than I expected. Own that badness girl, and take take take. Anyway, still enjoyable, but not super mind-blowing.

And there you have it! What are your least favourites in a series? Let's chat in the comments!

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Top 10 Tuesday || Recent 5 Star Reads

Top 10 Tuesday is, as always, brought to you by The Broke and The Bookish. This week: Recent 5 Star Reads!

I feel like I need to explain my rating system a bit first. Because there is a very special kind of feeling that comes with a 5 star read for me. It's the "I feel like I need to throw this book across the room it is SO GOOD".

That's what primarily distinguishes 5 star reads from 4 or 4.5 star reads for me. 4 stars is really enjoyable--some 4 star reads even make it to my favourites lists from time to time. And 4.5 stars is very nearly perfect. But they're both lacking that little something. Which is the compulsive desire to throw the book.

I'm totally serious. When reading 5 star books I will stop and like bang my hand against the cover when something happens. Or prop the book open on my head and just stare off into the distance because I cannot handle it.

So with that in mind, here are some recent 5 star reads.

First up, two from 2015 that really stood out to me. Both made my favourites list of last year and I pretty much can't stop talking about them.

Rose Under Fire is the follow-up companion novel to Code Name Verity. And with both of those books, I would highly recommend the audiobook version. I did so much crying during Rose that I got dehydrated. That's not even an exaggeration.

Carry On is another book I never shut up about. It's probably my all-time favourite book right now, if you asked me to name just one. I stayed up far too late to finish it and promptly felt the need to reread it immediately. My copy is full of sticky-tabs and I rarely ever feel the need to add tabs to a book.

Clearly Amie Kaufmann is doing something right, since two of her books are on this list. But both Their Fractured Light and Illuminae were fantastic, if for different reasons.

Light was the conclusion to a much beloved series and I had to keep putting the book down and wandering around my house because things were SO STRESSFUL.

Illuminae was completely gripping for other reasons. I very nearly read it all in one sitting. The formatting really lends itself to devouring this book. That and the frantic pace especially near the end helps.

The Arrival is a completely different story. Told completely in pictures, with no text at all, it's the story of refugees. And yes, there is an element of magical realism going on here, but it's no less poignant because of it. Despite being published in 2007, it's incredibly relevant today and achingly beautiful.

And that's really it for the true 5 star books I've read recently. Oh sure, there are others rated 5 stars on Goodreads, but that's because I have to pick between 4 and 5 when I want to give half stars.

I've read a good deal of 4.5 star books this year so far, so I'll just drop their pictures down here in case you're interested:

And there you have it! Have you read any of these? What 5 star books have you read recently? Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Monday Mix || Espionage

For NaNoWriMo a number of years back I wrote a pseudo-spy novel. I didn't really have any idea what I was doing, because I've read precious little spy fiction. But oh well! It was fun anyway.

I've posted the mix for that novel here before: Monday Mix || The End Is Where We Begin

And one of the things I love about 8tracks is diving into the tags. And one of the tags that the mix I made and this one I found had in common was "espionage". Which is also the title of the playlist.

From the 8tracks description:
For those who carry the film noir excense, blending amongst the citizens and shadowed alleyways, heart breakers with guns hidden under trench coats, eyes covered by the cold fog and secrets that invite them into violent missions;
Get ready for another playlist with a great atmosphere. I hope you find it inspiring!


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Intimidating TBR Book Tag

Time for another book tag! I have something like 80 unread books on my physical book shelf at home, so my TBR pile definitely qualifies as intimidating! (We'll ignore the fact that my Goodreads TBR shelf has 300 books on it..!)

I'm going to use my physical books for answers for this tag, and you can find the original here!

1) What book have you been unable to finish?
Here's a photo of my "to donate" pile at the bottom of my bookshelf.
Yeaaah. (And no, none of those count in my 80+ books.)

To be fair, not all of them are unread. Some of them I read and didn't like. But there's more than one there and I couldn't finish.

What book have you yet to read because...
2) just haven't had the time?
The entirety of the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.

I even own all three books. I just keep telling myself to wait until I have time to sit down and totally immerse myself. But I'm definitely just making excuses.

3)'s a sequel?
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski.

Everyone says it's brutal and cliffhanger-y. So I've been procrastinating while waiting for book 3. I'm going to have to read book 1 again before I go on, because it's been too long! (Also why I'm procrastinating.)

4)'s brand new?
I am super procrastinating on Passenger by Alexandra Bracken right now. I want to read it! But I keep picking other things up first!

5) read a book by the same author and didn't enjoy it?
This was the reason I waited so long before picking up Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys. Which, WOW, I'm glad I got over that.

Other than that, I don't think this applies to anything currently on my TBR shelf. (Though I am procrastinating on Blue Lily, Lily Blue because I'm ridiculous. Sigh.)

6)'re just not in the mood for it?
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

I know this is going to be good. I like historical fiction. But man, I know it's going to be a heavy read. And I just don't know that I'm ready for those kind of feelings right now.

7)'s humongous?
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

I'll be honest. I don't know if I'll ever actually read this brick cover to cover. Chapters here and there? Sure. Orestes Fasting, Pylades Drunk? Already have, more than once. But straight through? Probably not. I'm keeping it forever though, because I finally found the edition I wanted.

8) ...because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?
Most of those are in my huge donation pile, honestly. I tend to regularly pull books from my shelves and purge them. Mostly to the tune of: why did I even buy this? What was I thinking?

9) What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Firstly, it's huge. Second, it's so well loved.

Listen, I'm sure I'm going to like it. I read the first 50 pages a few years ago and liked where it was going. But man. MAN. I am so intimidated. I want to pick it up. But ugh.

10) Who do you tag?
Anyone that wants to give this a try and has a ridiculous TBR like me! 123go!

Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Top 5 Wednesday || DNFs

Ah yes, the dreaded DNFs. I use an "abandoned" shelf on Goodreads to keep track of these. I really try not to DNF books whenever possible. Though sometimes that just ends in skimming and hate-reading, which isn't really better.

I've gotten better these last few years about understanding my own reading tastes. And with that comes the knowledge of whether or not I think a book will redeem itself in my eyes. Sometimes, it's easy to tell that things are just not going to get better.

So. Let's talk about my top 5 DNFs.

With these first two, it was all about the writing style.

The Maze Runner has this incessant slang that completely aggravated me every time I was forced to look at it with my own two eyes. It just. Wasn't good. That and the way the narrative was constructed felt like the author was constantly going, "I know something you don't know~" and I hated it. I'm not sorry I DNFed this, especially since there seems to be only one female character in the whole ensemble cast. And I hate-read spoilers for the trilogy on Wikipedia and whoo-boy, I did not miss out on anything.

With The Dangerous Days of Daniel X it was a similar sort of dislike. Though, I'll admit, I skimmed the first 100 pages of The Maze Runner and didn't even make it 20 into this one. I remember being at the library trying to kill some time before heading to a movie, so I picked this up and thought I'd read the first chapter before leaving. And the narrative style and I just did not get along. I ended up reshelving it and walking away.

Both of these books should've been my thing. Sci-fi action romps that were drawing comparisons to Firefly. I had high expectations when I picked these up.

I don't think I made it 50 pages into Black Hole Sun. It was just trying WAY too hard. One of those writing styles where the author clearly thinks they're funny and smooth and sarcastic and exciting. But it left me shaking my head in disgust. Nothing about it seemed natural or genuine. And I had no desire to read 300+ pages of super-duper self-insert circle-jerk space cowboy. No thanks.

Avalon was also disappointing, but in a different way. The writing was just really bland. There was supposed to be all this excitement going on and I just didn't care at all. The characters were flat and boring and I didn't care about any of them. The book kept going, "Oh, but the stakes are so high!!" and I was just like, "Really?" I skimmed until about page 160 or so and then read spoilers on Wikipedia. Didn't miss anything here either.

And now for something completely different. Genre-wise anyway.

This book gets praised from here to Sunday about its portrayal of a main character who is on the spectrum. And I just could not stand it. It felt so trite and contrived. It rubbed me the wrong way from page 1, but I tried. I really did. It was when it was clear that this was going to devolve into an adult version of the manic-pixie-dream-girl schtick that I gave up. 

People who love this compare it to The Big Bang Theory--which I think is fairly accurate. It also explains why I loathed it entirely.

And there you have it! What are some books you've DNFed? Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Monday Mix || Dying Horribly in Space

I don't know how much introduction this mix needs, since the title really does explain it all. It's got that perfect atmosphere and some incredible instrumental tracks.

Someone in the comments on this playlist said it "satisfies my needs for a grimdark Star Trek AU" so. That should really tell you everything you need to know.

Hope you find it as creepy and inspiring as I did!

Dying Horribly in Space

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Series Review || Nightrunner #1-3 by Lynn Flewelling

Nightrunner #1-3 by Lynn Flewelling ★★★★☆
When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them.

Oh boy, if that summary isn't the biggest understatement of this series, I don't know what is. Because man, do things take a turn for both Seregil and Alec.

I have a lot of feelings about these first three books in the Nightrunner series. And as you might guess from the 4 star rating, most of them are good. I'm not sure how coherent this review will be, but I'll try my best.

First of all is Flewelling's characters. Seregil and Alec in particular, but really, the whole supporting cast is fantastic as well. I adored Alec from the outset--his charming naivety, his steadfast loyalty, his quick competence. He goes through so much in these first three books and is so changed by it. He's pitted against some overwhelming odds right at the beginning of book 1 and perseveres. I just want to clutch him to my chest and fight off anyone who tries to hurt him.

Seregil too, although those overprotective feelings didn't develop fulling until book 2. Because Seregil puts on a good performance, and it's only later that you realize how much he's been hurting and hiding. Despite that, he is so kind and loyal--despite the terrible hand fate has dealt him. As that starts to unravel in book 2 and especially in book 3, I was ready keep him safe, much like Alec.

And oh, let's talk for a hot second about the romance between these two. Because, I'll be honest, that was what drew me to these books in the first place. The slow burn is so good. There's only hints of anything in book 1, and it takes until the very end of book 2 before anyone acts on any of those feelings. But there is some delicious mutual pining in the lead up. (Along with, y'know, forced separation and mortal peril, which are always good for kickstarting the romance.)

And I appreciated how casual and familiar things seem between them in book 3. But despite occasional mention, most of the rest of it takes place off-page. Not that I mind--or that I even really think the books should've focused on the romance more heavily--but I wonder if things might've played out differently had it been a heterosexual pairing.

Despite all that, Flewelling's world is nothing if not tolerant. Bisexuality is treated as normal and common throughout most of the lands and both Seregil and Alec are canonically bisexual. Skala--the main kingdom of the series--is a matriarchy, ruled by warrior women. Though, I will quibble a little with the small role female characters play, at least at the outset of the series. This improves through books 2 and 3, though, to Flewelling's credit.

The politics and mysteries, magic and intrigue were also excellently done. Though, I feel like the writing gets clunky in places. There are breadcrumbs, but they're not always that easy to follow. Flewelling tries to tease out hints, but some of them are bogged down with intentional obscurity--leaving you with the feeling that she's withholding information intentionally only to rip the curtain back at the last second. I'm sure that rereading passages with the reveal in mind would help you see how the pieces were supposed to fit together, but again, clunky. This didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the books, per se, but you can see that this is a 4 star series and not a 5 star one.

Still, that aside, the tensions and stakes felt appropriately high in times of danger. I had a difficult time putting any of the books down, and when I did, I was constantly thinking about what might be going on in my absence. Despite the fact that they're basically 500 pages a piece, I read them mostly in 3 or fewer sittings--often reading 300+ pages at a time.

There are currently 7 books in the series, but book 3 does a good job of rounding out most of the major plot threads satisfactorily. Sure, there's more to be explored in this world, but I'm not sure if I'm going to continue on. I love Seregil and Alec and would read more, but at the same time, there was a nice little ending--even as open as it was.

And I've read the summary of book 4 and from the sounds of it (and some of the reviews I've read) it sort of looks like things get a little too trope-y. That, and with the number of years between books 3 and 4... some reviewers have mentioned inconsistencies within the canon. And anyway, I don't know that I really need to read on. I can happily conjure up fantasies about what Seregil and Alec might be up to or read fanfic to satisfy the urge--but I don't know that I need to read about them getting captured and separated and sold into slavery. No really, that's the synopsis of book 4.

Anyway! Quite the ramble, but hopefully that's mostly coherent! I really did enjoy these books, despite their flaws. And if you're interested in some classic 90s fantasy with queer protagonists, I'd definitely recommend it!

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Nine Circles of Hell Book Tag

All right, it's time for another book tag! I saw this randomly on Youtube and thought it looked fun, so let's give it a shot. The original is here.

1.What book series have you read the first book, but have not made the decision to finish the rest?
Oh, so many. I have a "series-dropped" shelf on my Goodreads. But hm, let's pick something interesting...

How about the Kate Daniels series by Illona Andrews? I read book 1 and thought it was okay, but it was a little too much: "look, a strong female character look how strong and female she is, she totally fights all the time and hates everything" and UGH. Exhausting. Can we not?

2.What book do you not own, that you can not wait to get your hands on.
I would probably commit homicide over a copy of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Especially since the cover reveal. I hope it has black edged pages like Six of Crows.

3. What book or series could you read over and over and never get your fill?

Forever and ever and ever amen.

4. What book do you need multiple copies of even though you own enough of them?
... Oops, Rainbow Rowell strikes again. I have two editions of Fangirl, will likely by another edition of Eleanor & Park at some point and will definitely buy future editions of Carry On.

5. What book did you hate and would never recommend?
I have a "dont-bother" shelf on Goodreads as well. But let's pick something I'm particularly salty about.

... I sort of want to mention Ready Player One by Ernest Cline again. But I've done that recently. And it's not that I actively hated it, because I didn't. It had it's moments. I just am bitter about what could've been and get irrationally sour when people rave about it.

Oh I know! Let's talk about Moth by Daniel Arenson instead. What a piece of garbage. The best summary of this is another one star review from Goodreads: "This book features characters you won't care about and conflicts that are contrived."

6. What book or series got really low ratings or that most people despised, but you LOVED?
I tend to not swing this way that often.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson has a 3.66 average rating, but I adored it. But that's about as close as we get to really different opinions.

7.What dystopian book or series had the most violent society in your opinion?
I mean, this is really just trying to pick between evils.

I'm going to mention the No. 6 manga because there are some really graphic depictions of bodies, with the main characters actually needing to literally climb a mountain of corpses to escape.

8. What book did the cover or synopsis not truthfully depict the story?
I'm just going to sit in my corner and be forever bitter about how More Than This by Patrick Ness turned out. Like, damn son, commit to your genre already. This would've been so much more compelling without all the sci-fi nonsense--and that's coming from someone who usually loves sci-fi nonsense.


9. What book series did the protagonist start off strong but grew weaker as time went on?
The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan.

This started off really well. There was a cool fight scene and as we started exploring the world and mythos, I thought I'd end up enjoying this. But it derailed for me at some point. Probably when Morgan started liberally tossing the word "f*ggot" around.

Look, I picked this up for queer fantasy. For once could we just not with the world where your protagonist is gay, but it's not acceptable for that to be the case? Also, none of parts with regards to Ringil's sexuality were handled very well, in my opinion. It was like he was gay for shock value and nothing else. (I'm not finishing this series either, in case that was unclear.)

And there you have it! What did you think of the tag? Have you read any of these? What would your answers look like? Let's chat in the comments!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

February Wrap Up & March TBR

Things slowed down a bit this month, as I suspected they would. Still, despite not reading at all for the first week of February, I think I did pretty good!

And I only bought 3 books this month, which fit the rules by being books in a series I'm reading. So yay me! I haven't really felt the itch to buy things just for the sake of buying them, so that's nice.


Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar #2) by Mercedes Lackey ★ 1/2
Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1) by Kate Elliott ★ 1/2
Captive Prince (Captive Prince #1) by C.S. Pacat 
Honor's Knight (Paradox #2) by Rachel Bach ★ 1/2
The Arrival by Shaun Tan 
Luck in the Shadows (Nightrunner #1) by Lynn Flewelling 
Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince #2) by C.S. Pacat 

GOODREADS: 20/50 [+7]
ALPHABET: 12/26 [+3]
SERIES: 1 complete [+0]; 12 ongoing [+1]

Top 10 Tuesday || Should've Done Romance Differently
Rainbowthon Wrap Up
Monday Mix || Made of Stardust

Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) by C.S. Pacat
Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner #2) by Lynn Flewelling
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Why yes, I did buy the entire Captive Prince trilogy this month, thanks for noticing. To be fair, I borrowed book 1 and 2 from the library, but after finishing book 2 I caved and ordered the whole thing. You can bet I'll probably drop everything to read book 3 when it arrives.

The rest is up in the air, as always. I have a few library books out. I keep meaning to read Winter and am terrible about it. When I'm into a series I have two modes: read it in one sitting or procrastinate FOREVER. So yeah.

We'll see! How did your month go? What did you read? Let's chat in the comments!