The Sunshine Blogger Award + Where Have I Been?

Hey guys! I’ve been blogging a lot less since the start of the year and I’m really bummed about that. I tend to think either very short-term or incredibly long-term, so I forgot about all the time that my IAs  and studying would take and I’ve rarely been in the mood to read. I’ve only read one book and that was Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven exactly on January 1st and I haven’t picked anything up since.

I won’t say I’ll be taking a break from blogging, but my posts may be very backed up until I finish my exams or at least feel confident enough that I can spare time for reading. That may or may not be late April or mid-May.

As it stands physics makes me want to beat myself over the head and computer science has me very close to setting my laptop on fire. But I’m doing well overall, so this time has been worth it. I will likely be salutatorian for my year and though I have no plans to attend graduation, I am happy with my achievement.

But enough of that. I’ve been tagged by Maxine @ The Rogue Storyteller to do the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thanks, Maxine! On to the questions!

Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions set by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and then write 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger award logo in a post/on your site.

What fictional universe would you like to live in if given the chance?

The problem with this question is that it assumes that the fictional universes that I read are desirable… All my favorite books are set in pretty dismal places so I guess I’d have to go with the universe in The Square Root of Summer. I really loved that book and I might as well choose somewhere I would actually be alive.

Where are your top three travel destinations?

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France is #1! Not just Paris, but may be also Lyon and Saint-Malo. Hopefully I can get a study abroad opportunity at the Sorbonne while in college, but if not at some point I really want to visit.

Washington, D.C., too. My sister has visited a couple times with organizations at her university and her experiences sound incredible. We both want to go into politics so it would be a really great place to get some insight.

Also, this one is kinda random, but Lake Retba, purely because it is pink and pretty as hell.

Describe your reading habits in as few words as possible.

Always or never reading.

What do you like most about your favorite book?

It changes based on what book I feel is my favorite. If it’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, then it’s Tiny because Tiny. If it’s Aristotle and Dante, then the gay Mexicans because I love seeing myself in books and things that will make me cry.

If you could get a book related tattoo, what would it be?

None, really. There are a lot of pretty ones but I just prefer watercolor floral and geometric tatoos more. If I got anything it would be something like this on my side.

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What book or book series do you think could have been a major hit if it had just a little more oomf?

The Monstrumologist Series by Rick Yancey. I feel like the 5th Wave got hyped up but I think this series is way better. It is slow-paced at first, though, so I can understand why, but everything just gets so crazy.

Have you ever read a book in a language different to your native one?

All the time. I mainly read in my second language. Spanish is my first. I occasionally read in French, too.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t really remember the wording but it was something along the lines of: Don’t force yourself to be around toxic people. If you wouldn’t make the effort to stay in touch with them if you didn’t go to the same school, then reconsider that friendship.

What would you like to see more of in YA fiction?

Diversity without the cultural identity being the main focus and without the negative portrayals of said culture. Asians hating their repressive culture, unsupportive and strict Indian families, Latinx families with careless parents and 6 children. Do these things happen? Of course. But I don’t only want to see these stereotypes. I want to see Indian parents who support their children’s aspirations, and Asians who don’t wish they were white, Latinx characters that come from small families where the parents are very involved in their lives.

I want to see these characters as superheroes, witches and wizards, time travelers, etc etc. I’ve seen this done well a few times but not nearly enough. (If you want an example, read Hero by Perry Moore. It’s about a gay superhero and it’s great. And there’s a female superhero with a disability too.) 

What kind of music/which artists do you like to listen to when you’re happy?

Pop punk! I live for it. Man Overboard, All Time Low, New Found Glory, etc etc. Also chip tune sometimes and chill wave because it’s so upbeat.

If you were a book character, what genre would you most likely be found in?

I’d be the first person to die in a horror.


I nominate
Moira @ For the Lover of Books, Sophia @ infinitbr, Louise @ Genie Reads, and Megan @ Book Slayer Reads.

1. Describe yourself like a character in a YA book.
2. What is a body modification from a book you have read that you would like to have?
3. If you were a character in a book, what would be your role?
4. What is one bad bookish habit that you have?
5. You can have any 3 items in the world, what do you choose?
6. What do you think about fan art/fiction?
7. What movie/TV show always cheers you up?
8. What’s your ideal meal?
9. Musicals! What do you think about them?
10. You can change the ending to any book/movie. Which book and what do you change?
11. What does your ideal library look like and have?

Disappointments of 2016// A Monster Calls + Magonia | Mini Reviews

A_Monster_Calls.jpg Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
Series: Standalone
Pages: 216
Source: Public Library
Rating: 6/10

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.


Based on the subject matter, I expected A Monster Calls to really hit home and crush me. Conor’s mom has cancer and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. My mom and I don’t have the best relationship, but I do still care about her and seeing her sick hurt a lot. Like Conor, I can remember how the first few days after treatment she would come home and throw up and I wouldn’t see her because she’d sleep the whole day. I was 16, but that really gets to you regardless of age. Even so, I didn’t feel as emotional as I thought it would.

Conor’s nightmares and the way he acted out were handled really well. It was plain to see how much he loved his mom and how hard illness is on young children. I’ll admit that I did cry during certain scenes just because I could remember feeling a similar way, but as a whole I wasn’t moved.

I think most of it was that the way the story was written, it was hard to really get inside Conor’s head. It seemed to be written better adapted visually.It was more like reading the book adaptation of a movie, which was awkward. All throughout I was more excited to watch the movie than read the book.

I did still enjoy the book, but I think the movie will be better because even in the trailer I could get a better picture of how Conor was feeling.

♦ ♦ ♦

51dzlut9r6l-_sx329_bo1204203200_Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Magonia #1
Pages: 309
Source: Public Library
Rating: 4/10

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

What the fuck?

Okay, that was kind of rude to start off a review with, but seriously. What the fuck?

The best books are the ones that make you feel something so I tend to gravitate toward things that will crush my soul. I expected Magonia to be like that and that I would see the grief a family faces after losing their daughter -The Lovely Bones did it better- or see Aza rediscover life in her heaven (Why didn’t I just reread the Lovely Bones?).

The first part was done slightly well. I remember listening to the audiobook as I was walking home and crying at the scene where Aza dies and her whole family is freaking out. It was incredibly emotional and I loved how much her family did to make her not feel guilty for leaving them, for considering that she might even feel that way. BUT after that we didn’t see a whole lot of her family. Instead the book goes back and forth between Aza and Jason, her best friend. Only Jason is ANNOYING pain in the ass.

There are several times when you read just a few pages full of pi. Like, I get that people cope with things differently and repeating something familiar might help some, but in a book it’s incredibly annoying when your reading is interrupted by 200 digits of pi. A small chunk of numbers and continuation  of the narrative would have made a better point. Also he had no life whatsoever apart from Aza. Like, grieving your longtime best friend is one thing, completely obsessing over her just shows lazy writing and that the author didn’t care enough to give Jason a personality apart from his friendship with Aza.

Now, that wasn’t the crazy part. I’m still so confused by the second half of the book that I won’t even try to go into detail with that. All I have to say is if you like reading about the grief of a family and a bird pirate adventure novel about starvation and heists in the same book, go ahead. That was just the last thing I’d expect in a book like this.

Books I Loved and Books That Made Me Tear Out My Hair// Best & Worst Reads of 2016

I’ve seen a lot of people sharing their most disappointing reads for the year, as well as their favorite books and it looked like a fun way to end the year!

The Best of the Best

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The Winner’s Curse: “The Winner’s Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.”  

I think by now my love of the Winner’s Trilogy is pretty clear, but if you don’t yet know what I mean you should go check out the Winner’s Curse and find out for yourself. The world building and characters are too amazing to pass up on.

The Square Root of Summer: “This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.” 

This is a recent read for me and I can’t believe I almost didn’t read this. The romance was so cute and I didn’t understand the whole hype around food in books until now. Thomas’ dream to own a patisserie and his and Gottie’s relationship had me gushing. This was so quick and fun and I am so glad I read it because gahh.

The Wolf Road: “We live in a world a’ men and there ain’t no good come out of tellin’ them they monsters. Makes ’em think they ain’t done nothin’ wrong, that it’s their nature and they can’t do nothin’ to change that. Callin’ em a monster makes ’em something different from the rest of us, but they ain’t. They just men, flesh and bone and blood.”

 Honestly this won’t appeal to everyone and I get that. Buuut if it sounds like something you’re interested in check it out because the character development is literally amazing.

This is the story of a girl who was raised by a man whom she calls Trapper in the woods after losing her family.He taught her how to hunt and take care of herself and in a way adopts her. One day she goes into a nearby town and sees his face on a poster saying he’s wanted for murder. Elka runs to avoid being connected with any possible murders her “father” may have committed and to find her real parents.

When the Moon Was Ours: “Miel still had thousands of secrets, small and shimmering. She held them tight in her hands, and he had nothing left that he had not given up.”

Literally everything I wanted in a book. Magical realism, Hispanic main character, Pakistani main characters, transgender representation. I just. My heart. My heart was too weak for this.

Undercooked Books

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(Okay, I wanted to include nice quotes from the books like I did for those above, but the writing is nowhere near as pretty so I decided to create my own quotes to summarize the beauty of these books. I’ve also decided to be generous and only insult 3 books. What can I say, I’m a giver.)

Daugher Unto Devils: “Dead children everywhere. Why did it go here? I’ll never know.”

Okay so, as much as I wanted to be scared reading this, I was just more weirded out than anything. It was oddly sexual in the beginning and there was a lot of talk about dead babies and I was just not a fan at all. Not scary, just disturbing and not at all enjoyable.

The Motherless Oven: “??? with a side of ‘what the fuck.'”

There’s no other way to explain the mess that is the Motherless Oven. Definitely odd like I thought it would be without the satisfaction of good story telling.

Magonia – “Fucking bird pirates.” 

If you can figure out what this book is about I’ll edit this and quote you because goddamn am I lost.

Dishonorable Mentions

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I lied. There were more. I’m so sorry you had to see this, but since you’re here I might as well introduce you. Reader, these are the reasons I don’t use Netgalley anymore.

2016 End of Year Survey | I Accomplished Something!

I wanted to finish off the year by reflecting on the year. This will be a long post so hope you stick around! (Or skim. That’s cool, too.)

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I didn’t have the best reading year, considering I didn’t read outside of school until the summer started and a lot of books I read were graphic novels. I did enjoy a lot of the books I got to, though, so time to see what my year was like! Do your own take of the Perpetual Page Turner’s survey.

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Number Of Books You Read: 62.

Number of Re-Reads: This is shameful. 1. I only reread To Kill a Mockingbird because it was required reading my junior year.

Genre You Read The Most From: Surprisingly Fantasy with Contemporary Romance tailing behind.

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Best Book You Read In 2016?

I’m gonna cheat and pick two books because the Wolf Road and My Sister Rosa were both really good.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Graces was supposed to be amazing and beautiful and everything you could want in a book about witches, yet here it is.

A Monster Calls has been on my radar since I loved the Chaos Walking Trilogy and when I saw the movie trailer I decided to pick it up. I liked it, but I didn’t really love it. I thought it was pretty average, but I’m still excited for the movie.

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

For this, I’m going to pick one book that was surprising for both reasons.

I was disgusted with how offensive Everything Everything was to people with chronic illness. The story would have been a lot better without the main character’s “illness” because so much was wrong with how SCID was portrayed and Maddy’s disregard for her life and health.

After reading that I didn’t have high hopes for Every Last Word, which depicts OCD and anxiety. It’s clear that the author did research because the anxiety that Sam felt was very relatable and I grew to really care about the characters. I can’t say anything about the portrayal of OCD because I have yet to search reviews from people who have OCD,  but I’ll be doing a joint review for both books and will link back to anything I find.

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

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I’ve tried to get my boyfriend, sister, and best friend to read this and so far only my best friend has. He loved it and now he and I can fangirl over it and wait for Noelle Stevenson’s next books. I won’t give up on my boyfriend, there’s still time.

 Best series you started? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender?

I’m shit at finishing series, but this year I finished a whole trilogy! *applause*

Okay, I didn’t finish this series but the Winner’s Trilogy was amazing. I can’t believe I waited this long to read it! I need to own all the books because I will definitely be rereading this series at some point.

I was anticipating to read the Winner’s Kiss but since I didn’t get to it, I have no book for Best Series Ender.

Favorite new author you discovered ?

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I don’t read much by Hispanic authors –which is a complete shame since I support the #OwnVoices movement and love reading books by Hispanic authors– but this year I got the chance to read both Anna-Marie McLemore’s existing novels and I adored them.

She writes compelling magical realism and the diversity in her characters is amazing. In just two books I think she’s done a wonderful portray of disability, trans characters, Hispanic, French, and Pakistani characters. I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything she releases in the future because two books is not enough.

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I never read graphic novels, but there was a period this year where I felt like only reading graphic novels and these were my favorite out of the ones that I read.

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

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Read this. That’s all I’ll say.

Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I may reread the first two books in the Winner’s Trilogy in preparation to finish the series.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

If there are stars and moons on the cover and there’s a beautiful shade of blue, I’ll probably like it. 

Most memorable character of 2016?

 Briony from Atonement. And not for good reasons. I wanted to punch her from the start of the book, oh my god.

Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

 I can’t think of anything actually. I guess I didn’t seek out particularly poetic books.

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

 This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun. This book is honestly so amazing and terrible for all the same reasons.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?

 Dorothy Must Die because damn is everyone fucking evil. Except Dorothy. She’s still in diapers and will graduate from evil school hopefully in the second book.

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read This Year?

If we’re being honest here I had to go back and search the quotes section of Goodreads for my favorite books. I missed the memo that book bloggers keep track of pretty quotes, I only remember what made me angry.

“Sometimes you think you want something,” Arin told him, “when in reality you need to let it go.”
― Marie Rutkoski, The Winner’s Crime

Shortest & Longest Book You Read?

The shortest book I read was Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Anderson(soo cute) and the longest was Replica by Lauren Oliver.  EVENTUALLY I will post reviews.

Book That Shocked You The Most

Nothing really shocked me this year. If anything I was underwhelmed most often.

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Arin and Kestrel from the Winner’s Trilogy can have all my heart. (Also, not book related at all but I ship everything in Star vs the Forces of Evil because MAH GOD. If these aren’t the cutest I don’t know what is.)

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Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Elka and Penelope from the Wolf Road had such a strong friendship. I loved it.

Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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Won by default as the only book I read this year by an author I already read from.

Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

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Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

 I don’t get fictional crushes honestly.

Best 2016 debut you read?

Don’t really read debuts either. Wow…

Best World-building/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

 The world building in the Winner’s Trilogy was phenomenal.

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry?

Everything Everything made me cry from how bad it was.

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Paaaass.

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

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You can’t be doing this. I got a reputation as a robot to keep. I can’t be crying in class.

Most Unique Book You Read?

 Obvious answer but Replica by Lauren Oliver.

Book That Made You The Most Mad?

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ALL THE AWARDS FOR MAKING ME WANNA RIP IT APART AND THROW IT AGAINST A WALL. (It’s good tho, check it out. Just have something ready to punch 🙂 )

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New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

I just started blogging this year so every blog is a new blog. Excuse the length of this list.

Paper Fury | For the Lover of Books | Arctic Books | Wonderless Reviews |
Thrice Read | She Latitude | The Cozy Reader |
Bookshelves and Paperbacks | Fangirl World | Sparkling Letters | Books Baking & Blogging | Loony Literate | Vivatramp | The Quiet People |

Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

 I really like my review for The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. Probably because I loved the book.

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

25 Bookish Facts about Me. This was fun to write and I really enjoyed sharing dumb facts about me because  wow I was a mess.

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

None, sadly. Hopefully I can remedy this next year but as of now things were bland.

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

When I got approved for my first book on Netgalley. Your first ARC is so exciting.

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My 18th Birthday book haul got the most views.

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

8 Holiday Dessert Ideas for Vegans. I’m really trying to diversify my cooking and I kind of wish there were more vegans or people interested in vegan cooking to share recipes with.

Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Netgalley! I got to read some really cool books from here. A publisher also found me through Netgalley and got in touch so I got my first physical ARC that wasn’t from a giveaway!

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I set a goal of 60 books for the year and I went over it even though I only read the second half of the year. Not my best but I’m satisfied.

 

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One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

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I love Jenna Moreci’s youtube channel and all the writing advice she gives out. Kind of nonsensical since I’ve given up on writing for years after I lost my notebooks with all my ideas and motivation. But anyway, I read the first three chapters on her website and ordered the book, but I never finished it, which really sucks. I will read it next year for sure because her second book is coming out and I want to be sure I enjoy her writing style before committing.

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)? 

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Aristotle and Dante is everything and he’s coming out with another YA book? Yes, please!!

2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

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Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

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I have’t even started the series yet but I’m excited to marathon it in the next year!

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

You can read all about my goals here!

A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone

I have not been fortunate enough to read any 2017 ARCS. (By this I mean, I had one and it’s still months away so I haven’t gotten to it. Oops.)


Comment below if we’re in the same boat for anything! And if you’re a Star vs. the Forces of Evil fan, feel free to cry with me because we have to wait for season 3.

Taking Control of My TBR // 2017 Reading Challenges

As I mentioned on my Reading Goals post, I’ll be participating in a few challenges this year. Considering the amount of books I read and that most of them were read in the summer and I hardly read in the first 5 months, I’ve decided to set my Goodreads challenge to 50 and see what happens.

Without further ado, here are the 3 challenges I’ll be taking part of.

Shelf Love

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This challenge is hosted by Terri @ Second Run Reviews and Chapter Break. The point is just to read any books you own and my goal is to “give my shelves a warm friendly hug” (i.e. read 21-30 books).

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This is kind of a lofty goal for me given how busy I’ll be until I graduate, but I think I can do it! If I complete no other challenge I want to complete this one so I can trim down any books that I don’t love.

♦      ♦     ♦

Beat the Backlist

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This challenge is hosted by Austin and Tia@ Novel Knight. The only rule is that the books counted must have been published prior to 2017.

I’m participating in this because there are always shiny, new books that distract me from others that I should be reading. But in 2017 I will try to stop being a baby that gets distracted by pretty objects. The only books I’m counting for this challenge are ones I don’t own so I will be visiting the library as often as I can for this.

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There are actually more backlist books I want to get to but these are the ones that I’m most excited about. I’m kinda holding back on this because I want to focus so much on my own books but knowing me, I’ll exceed these books or change my mind completely.

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I will also be participating in the Hogwart’s House mini-challenge as a Hufflepuff for this so hopefully I can earn my house a lot of points by doing more reviews this year!

♦      ♦     ♦

diverse-challenge-2017You can sign up to join this challenge on either of the hosts blogs. Mishma’s blog can be found here and Shelly’s blog here. This challenge is a lot more structured than others because there are specific challenges for each month. Hopefully it forces me out of my comfort zone and I can discover some great new books!

Instead of doing a TBR for this challenge I will be posting a recommended list at the beginning of each month based around the challenge and at the end of the month I’ll share what I read and hopefully a review!


Comment below if you’re participating in any reading challenges this year. Let me know what you thought of any of these books if you’ve read them or if you’re looking forward to reading any of them, too!

 

Shatter Me + Dorothy Must Die | Mini Reviews

You might recall that not long ago I posted about 10 popular series I haven’t read, and I’m really excited to say that I’ve read two books on that list! I’ve been having a hard time putting together full reviews so you might see more mini reviews popping up.

Anyway onto the books!

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Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Shatter Me #1
Pages:338
Source: Public Library
Rating:  6/10

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I tried to read this before and couldn’t stand it. The constant scratches and repetition were annoying . I thought I barely gave it a chance but as I listened to the audiobook turns out I actually read most of it. If I got to 70% the first time I don’t know why I didn’t finish, but that’s irrelevant now.
My opinion hasn’t changed all that much. I don’t think it was particularly good or anything, but I was entertained at least. It was pure fluff. The dystopian background  was hardly a major point in this book, but I didn’t really mind.
I didn’t really care about Juliette or Warner or Adam, but I enjoyed Kanji’s character. He was the right amount of funny and endearing, even if he seemed to have no tact.
I think I’ll probably continue the series or not, but only on audiobook. It was a lot easier to listen to than it was to read. Maybe I should have figured since it is a stream-of-consciousness narrative.

♦ ♦ ♦

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Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
Pages: 452
Source: Public Library
Rating: 8/10

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

I did really enjoy this. The violence was pretty brutal and I enjoyed the bleak circumstances Oz was in now and the hopelessness of all the citizens. Acid bubbles that eat away your body and mutilation and slave labor. Dorothy Must Die gave a new life to the Wizard of Oz and it was so well done. I didn’t expect to actually be disgusted with the world building but wow.

Unfortunately I was disappointed with Dorothy. I expected her to be bad ass and crazy, like Bellatrix Lestrange kinda, but I got none of that. Instead Dorothy waltzes around in low cut clothes, handing out orders and staying safe inside her palace. Ordering people to be killed for the pettiest of reasons was pretty crazy, but she never physically did anything herself –or we didn’t see it– at least so I was unsatisfied with the major threat she was described as. When Amy is finally in proximity to Dorothy to kill her, Dorothy runs away. I mean, what? Even without magic I was expecting Dorothy to be murderous and stabby, but a game of hide and seek just killed the vibe.

The Scarecrow and Lion were a lot worse than Dorothy and if anything they were the only real threats in the book. Take away Dorothy’s magic and she’s a scared child. But let the Lion loose and he’ll murder a whole city. The Scarecrow will animate the corpses after torturing them to use as more slave labor. The Tin Man will hit on Dorothy (Ugh. Ew.). You get my point.

Nevertheless, I did really like the other characters and think they were developed well. Amy wasn’t a complete idiot and her perspective was refreshing. I at least understand her character and why she did what she did. At times she was so clueless it was irritating, but I can’t really fault her for that when her only thoughts are survival.

I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series, but I didn’t love this as much as I thought I would. Hopefully Dorothy toughens up for the next books.

Froelich’s Ladder by Jamie Duclos-Yourdon

27348501
Publication Date: August 2016
Publisher: Forest Avenue Press
Series: Standalone
Pages: 248
Source: Publisher
Rating: 6/10

Uncle Froelich nurses a decades-old family grudge from his perch atop a giant ladder. When he’s discovered missing, his nephew embarks on a rain-soaked trek across a nineteenth century Pacific Northwest landscape to find him, accompanied by an ornery girl with a most unfortunate name. In their encounters with Confederate assassins, European expatriates, and a general store magnate, this fairytale twist on the American dream explores the conflicts between loyalty and ambition and our need for human connection, even at the highest rungs.

From the description Froelich’s ladder sounds like it’ll be a funny and heartwarming story about family. In a way, it was, just not as much as I hoped.

Straight away the writing style was more tell than show and I wasn’t particularly fond of it. The setting was hard to visualize and it was difficult to get a feel for the characters’ personalities. It was similar to Forrest Gump in the way that the story felt very detached. This did make it hard for me to get into the story, but once I did it was easier to get a better a picture of what was happening.

After a feud with his brother Harald, Froelich climbs up the ladder he made with his brother and refuses to come down. Harald–and later  his children, Binx and Gordy– take it upon themselves to keep the ladder upright, even if it means they practically live hunched over the base of it to support their uncle’s tantrum. When a cloud whisks away Froelich, Gordy searches for him while Binx stays behind.

This is the kind of book that doesn’t take itself seriously (which was a nice change from the books I’ve been reading for school). Moments that should be serious have a little humor added in to lighten the mood. Despite this, I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. The characters felt very flat and I would have liked to see more development in them.

Gordy had a strong personality and seemed to be favored more than Binx, who was more than a little lost and dependent. Given Froelich’s fight with his brother, I wanted Binx and Gordy’s relationship to be explored more. There was some development, but it leaned toward Binx becoming more independent. It was really nice to see Binx grow and gain the confidence he was lacking.

Gak and Josie were the best characters in my opinion. They got up and did something if they didn’t like a current situation, which was a stark contrast from Gordy and Binx, who seemed to go along with anything. They had a lot of spirit, but at the same time were vulnerable enough to be believable. Gak dressed as a boy, partly for safety, and when it was discovered that she was a girl you could see the fear she emitted. Josie’s lack of control over her life was also handled well and made her a more believable character. My only complaint about them is that we didn’t get to see a lot of their friendship. I live for strong female friendships and the beginning of one at the end was such a tease!

While I still think Froelich’s tantrum was dumb, I liked seeing his development over the course of the book. I have to admit the letter at the end was heartwarming!

Overall Froelich’s ladder was a strong book, albeit somewhat fluffy. The situations the characters find themselves in are weird and enjoyable. Check it out if you want something quick and entertaining to read.

Thank you, Forest Avenue, for providing me with a copy of this book for review!

 

 

 

2017 Reading and Blogging Goals

I never imagined that by today my decision for college would be set in stone or that I would actually be done with the whole application process (save for minor scholarships), but here I am. I’m so excited, but so terrified. I’ve never lived anywhere other than Florida and now I’m moving all the way northeast on my own. I’ve been talking to lots of current students and the other admitted students from my year on Facebook and I think I’ll really be happy there, but oh my god I’m still nervous. I don’t think I’ll really believe it until I move in next September.

But anyway, this post will be pretty straightforward. I did have to go back and adjust some goals based on what my living situation will be come fall, but I still I plan to use it as a reference throughout the year to track my progress.

Reading Goals

  • Finish more series. I am the absolute worst person when it comes to sequels and that NEEDS to change. There are so many series I’ve started that I haven’t finished even though I loved the first book. Makes no sense. I won’t set a number because I’m not sure how many series I want to continue with, but more than 3 would make me happy.
  • Use the library often. Since I started high school I kind of stopped using the library as often as I used to (which is completely stupid. I volunteered at a library two whole summers. How did that happen?) and I really want to change that. I live in a big city and the main branch of my library system is this 4 story building downtown that hosts lots of events and there is so much available that I don’t take advantage of. I want to attend some of the author events before I move. I’ve been doing this on Saturdays, but I really want to maintain this habit next year.
  • Read at least 30 of the books I own. I’m not someone who has a problem with having a lot of unread books, but I do want to get to the books I own. I have this problem where I buy books I’m so excited to read, but then I read library books instead while my own books gather dust. #Oops.
  • Reread more. I keep the books that I do because I plan on rereading them. And I want to, trust me I do, but I get this feeling that I’m not being productive if I reread instead of reading a new book. It’s a hard thing to overcome but it will be done.
  • Branch out of YA. I think I read fairly diversely in terms of genres, but I want to read more than mainly YA. I still love the genre, but I have read plenty of adult books that are great and I want to be exposed to some hidden gems there. Basically be able to walk into any section of a library or bookstore and be happy.
  • Read what I want, when I want, without feeling pressure. This means not being afraid to DNF like crazy. I’m better about it now, but I still occasionally finish books I can’t stand and it’s such a waste.
  • Buy no/incredibly few books. It’s not that I feel guilty or anything, but I want to be more responsible about what I spend my money on. I’ll most likely allow myself to go to the library bookstore for every 5-10 books of my own that I’ve read and the quarterly sales. I like having a lot of unread books, but I don’t want to have so many that they outnumber the books I have read, especially since a lot will have to stay behind or in storage.
  • TRACK MY READING. I deleted my Goodreads account to start over and before deleting I completely forgot to move all the information for the books I read the past season (which is why I didn’t post a wrap-up). I also forgot that I created a new library account after I turned 18 so the “track checkouts” wasn’t turned on like on my old account. Basically I forgot half of what I read. I’m gonna work on improving this by keeping a reading journal. I want to be able to see the ratio of Male to Female authors I read and what ethnicity they are, not to mention genres and what I own vs what I read from the library. Just everything.
  • Keep a reading journal. I cannot keep a journal to save my life, but I really want to. I’m gonna try to use it and stick to it and write my thoughts on books as I read them so I have an easier time writing reviews.

Blogging Goals

  • Review every book I read. I’ve been a lot better about this since I’ve started blogging, reviewing most books even if it is a mini review or something, but I want to be really consistent about it. It takes me forever to review books and even longer to actually post them.
  • Participate in reading challenges and memes. Okay so, I don’t really like memes, but I did like some topics so maybe I’ll participate occasionally. I’ve also decided to take part in the Shelf Love Challenge hosted at Second Run Reviews and the Diverse Books Challenge. I’ll make another post soon to share what challenges I’ll be participating in.
  • Do more book and adaptation reviews. A lot of the things I read have been coming out with adaptations and I really want to reread the books and watch the movies and do reviews and comparisons so look out for that!
  • Write more discussions. I love discussions. I seek them out on every blog I follow in addition to varied reviews, but I don’t have any myself and I really want that to change so expect to see more! I have plenty in my drafts I just haven’t had the chance to finish them.

You might have noticed I won’t be doing the Goodreads Challenge and that’s because I want to focus purely on the quality of books that I read instead of the quantity. I’ll be setting a low goal (probably 50) to account for the larger books I’ll be reading. But anyway, that’s everything I have planned. Let me know if you have any similar goals or if you’re setting goals at all for the year.

I’m Catching Up on Backlist Books! //Anna Dressed in Blood + Extraordinary Means + The Darkest Part of the Forest | Mini Reviews

book3
Publication Date: October 17, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen
Series: Anna #1
Pages: 320
Source: Public Library
Rating: 8/10

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.


I wanted Anna to be scary, but I’m not really disappointed that I wasn’t.

From the start I got a lot of Supernatural vibes, which may or may not be a good thing. I personally could not get into Supernatural so even though the idea interests me I will never watch it and I’m glad I was able to get a taste of the story. If you have watched it you might be annoyed that this is like a book version (minus fan service) or you might like it. Who knows?

The demon hunting was such a fun part of the book, but I wish I had seen more of it. Besides the one ghost at the beginning, there is hardly any more hunting until the end of the book. The violence throughout does make up for it in a way. If I can’t be scared, there better be at least half a dozen deaths amirite.

I liked that a romance didn’t bloom between Cas and Carmel- the obvious choice- but the relationship between Cas and Anna was a little weird. Something didn’t sit right with me. It was instalove with an undead girl and necrophilia is just so ??? That being said I really liked Anna as a character. Her story was unexpected and sad. I’m so glad there’s a second book, maybe I’ll see more of her.

The other characters were enjoyable. At times it felt like a paranormal sitcom. Thomas the mind-reading sidekick. Carmel the powerless brains. Whats-his-face, the dick. Really enjoyable.

 ♦ ♦ ♦

23149128Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Standalone
Pages: 336
Source: Personal Library
Rating: 8/10

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

This has been compared a lot to the Fault in Our Stars and I can see the similarities, but they deal with their topic so differently. After a point the only thing in common is the sick teenagers.

The main difference is the characters are not as pretentious. There were times when I got a little annoyed at their attitudes but they were generally likable. They were funny, they messed around and did dumb shit. It was just a very honest portrayal. I’ve noticed a tendency to want to portray anyone ill as angels or inspirations because of their illness, but they are still teenagers and they think and act like us; they’ve just had much shittier luck with their health.

I’ll admit even though I wasn’t all that emotionally attached to the characters, I may have bawled my eyes out imagining what happened to them. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen when the book is about tuberculosis. I’ll spare you the details of who. Ahem.

I wasn’t particularly impressed by Extraordinary Means, but it was a fun experience. I’m really glad the author didn’t choose to take the easy way out at times. If a book can elicit an emotional response from me, it’s pretty good in my book.

♦ ♦ ♦

20958632
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Standalone
Page: 336
Source: Public Library
Rating: 8/10

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

The book trailer is the coolest thing and if it weren’t for that I doubt I would have picked this up, honestly. Now that I have, I need to read more of Holly Black’s books. (I read most of White Cat and that wasn’t really the best, but maybe I just need to read a different books?)

The diversity in sexual orientations was a nice surprise. Hazel is straight, but her brother is gay and the boy who sleeps in the glass coffin is bisexual. I do wish it had been a little more straightforward because it’s really just an assumption. Both Hazel and her brother had a crush on him. I thought he seemed very neutral toward Hazel and clearly preferred her brother. I’m basing everything off the fact that he didn’t seem opposed to Hazel, only disinterested in her.

The fighting and monsters were really well done, but apart from that Hazel reads more like a 13 year old girl sometimes. For the first part of the book, she talks about the boys she’s kissed and how she can’t stop kissing boys and even her friends make fun of her for it. Like okay, even if you’re incredibly flirtatious I think at 17 you would outgrow that kind of tone. It was a little annoying but eventually it stopped so there’s that.

I would say give this book a chance if you enjoy fairies and trolls and just general stabiness.

Winter 2016 | Bookish Bingo

I enjoyed participating in this so much last season that I have to participate again! I’m trying to read more of my books so while I’ll be finishing any library books I have checked out (2) I’ll largely be reading my own until I get the ratio of books I own and read to those I haven’t read to be about 3:1.

The Details:

  • Every new season has a new bingo card. This one is for books read in the months of December, January, and February.
  • The object is to get as many BINGOs as possible (five across, up and down, or diagonal)
  • One square per book
  • You do not have to review these books, or even have a blog, this is simply for books read during the allotted months
  • At the end of February there will be an international giveaway for all participants. The more BINGOs you get, the more entries you get in the giveaway!
  • To participate, simply leave a comment!

The Card:

winter-bingo-2016-2017-768x752

B

Green Cover: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
Alternative format: (on Audiobook) Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
Set abroad: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Sequel: Oleander by Hollow Ryan
Own Vices: More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera

I

Banned Book: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
2017 Debut: Frostblood by Elly Blake
Romance: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
GR Choice Nominee: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven.
Pink Cover: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

N

Not YA: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
White Cover: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Free
Science Fiction: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
December, January, February Release: History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

G

Crime: What We Saw by Aaron Hartlzer
Survival: Nightfall by Jake Halpern
Blue cover: Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano
LGBT: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Super hyped: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

O

Twitter poll: No book yet.
Nature on Cover: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Unreliable Narrator: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Cover buy: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Urban fantasy: Daugher of Smoke and Bone by Laini Tailor

♦ ♦ ♦

Of the books listed, I own 18 of them. I don’t know how well I’ll stick to this, but I’m really hoping to start making a dent into my own books before next September since I don’t know how much space I’ll have in my dorm. (Also, it’s my last winter in Florida?! When did this happen?)


Let me know if you have any suggestions for the empty sections! Link your post in the comments if you’re participating!