Sunday, 3 April 2016

Review || The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams

The Shadow Reader (Shadow Reader #1) by Sandy Williams ★★☆☆☆
Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

I. Don't actually remember why I added this to my TBR in the first place. I'll be honest with you. Even as I started the audiobook, I went and reread the summary on here to see if it would spark some kind of recollection. And I've got nothing.

I don't know why I thought this would be somehow different from all the other urban fantasy shenanigans. But it really really wasn't. Which is fine, because once I realized that I stopped taking the book seriously at all and just laughed my way through it mostly.

I have tried to get along with urban fantasy in general, I really have. But in it's most common of forms, it is just not for me.

So there was a lot of eyerolling at the intentional descriptions of muscled chests and all that other nonsense. And a main character who is self-aware enough to recognize she probably has Stockholm Syndrome, but then brushes it off because 'oh well, he's hot, amirite?' (I might be paraphrasing there, but.)

And oh my god that agonizing love triangle. Please just stop.

That said, if you're a fan of the genre, this book has some things going for it. I especially liked how chapter 1 drops you straight in and forces you to hit the ground running. It explains the magic and politics in bite-sized pieces as needed, but it sweeps you into the action immediately. And there is a lot of action in this book--and I think it was fairly well written to boot. And the worldbuilding was definitely interesting.

I listened to this on audiobook and am kinda "meh" about the narrator. It's the same woman that did Rebel Belle, though minus the attempted Southern accent. And with more characters to voice in this book it's clear her range is limited. All her male characters sound the same. I don't know if she even tried to do different female voices. Not that it was excruciating to listen to or anything, but I wasn't particularly impressed by it.

Anyway. The moral of the story here is: the next time you see me add an urban fantasy book to my TBR, please feel free to hit me with something. What was I thinking?

Saturday, 2 April 2016

March Wrap Up & April TBR

Whoo-boy. I did a metric TONNE of reading this month. Including 2 books in one day, which is a first for me. But I've been in a reading mood and I've read some really awesome series and books this month!


Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner #2) by Lynn Flewelling 
Traitor's Moon (Nightrunner #3) by Lynn Flewelling 
Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) by C.S. Pacat ★ 1/2
YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright 
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin ★ 1/2
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers ★ 1/2
 The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose 
Glimpses (Nightrunner #3.5) by Lynn Flewelling 
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery 
Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones 
The Shadow Reader (Shadow Reader #1) by Sandy Williams 
Half A King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie ★ 1/2
A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray ★ 1/2
Gated (Gated #1) by Amy Christine Parker ★ 1/2

GOODREADS: 34/50 [+14]
ALPHABET: 17/26 [+5]
SERIES: 3 complete [+2]; 11 ongoing [-1]

Nine Circles of Hell Book Tag
Series Review || Nightrunner #1-3
Top 5 Wednesday || DNFs
Intimidating TBR Book Tag
Top 10 Tuesday || Recent 5 Star Reads

Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer
Heaven's Queen (Paradox #3) by Rachel Bach
Arrow's Fall (Heralds of Valdemar #3) by Mercedes Lackey

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray

Why yes I am going to put Winter on my TBR every month until I manage to convince myself to actually read the darn thing. I'm procrastinating with the end of this series. It's really getting bad.

With the exception of the second Firebird novel, I think I might try to just read off my bookshelves this month. I know I'm going to say that now and then fail miserably, but! I think I could probably make it happen. I have lots to choose from, and quite a few that I've been meaning to get to soon.

And that was my month! What did you read in March? Let's chat in the comments!

Friday, 1 April 2016

February/March Book Haul

Okay, so I bought a lot of books. But they all still fit my book buying rules, so I only feel a little guilty. And, to be fair, I've actually read quite a few of these already, so there isn't a huge addition to my TBR pile.


Honor's Knight and Heaven's Queen are books 2 and 3 in the the Paradox trilogy. I've read book 2 already and am planning in started the third book soon. I'd highly recommend this series if you like science fiction!

Truthwitch and Passenger were both January new releases, and I bought them as my "just because" books for having read 5 (though really 10, since there's two of them) before I bought 1. I really want to get to them soon, I don't know why I haven't yet!


Originally I'd read Captive Prince and Prince's Gambit from the library, but after book 2 I knew I needed to buy the trilogy. I read Kings Rising basically in one sitting the day it arrived in my mailbox and I regret nothing.

Another library read, but I devoured the first three books pretty much back-to-back. And then decided that I adored these characters so much I needed to own the books for myself. I'm glad I caved and bought them too, because it looks like my library went on a serious purge after I was done with the first two books and have removed them from circulation!

Glimpses is a short story collection set in the same universe. I bought the ebook version of it, but figured that was worth including here!

These two were my next read 5 buy 1 acquisitions. Though I'm still waiting on The Next Together because I ordered it from the Book Depository and who knows when it will arrive.

So all in all, yeah, a few books. But! Only like 5 of them are currently unread, so? That's like a win, right? And hey, I did stick to my rules!

I did a count on my bookshelf of the books I've acquired since Christmas and I've read 60% of them already. Which... might not seem like something to brag about, but I'm actually really proud of myself! I usually buy and buy and buy and let the poor books languish on my shelves for far too long. So this is progress!

What books have you bought or read recently? Let's chat in the comments!

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!