Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Book: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Published September 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire|324 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

I really loved the magic, traditions and culture in Labyrinth Lost.  When I first heard about it, I knew I wanted to rea it, because it seemed really different.

Los Lagos was a really vivid setting- it had this Wonderland feel to it, and I think, if it were to be adapted into a movie or t.v. show, that Los Lagos would be really pretty to look at.  I thought things were pretty interesting leading up to Los Lagos, and as pretty and vivid at it seems, it was also the point where I started to lose a little bit of interest.

I think it’s mostly because the stakes never felt really high.  I know Alex is trying to get her family back, but there was never the sense of urgency that she would never get them back if she didn’t comply with the Devourer’s wishes.  It was pretty predictable that she’d be reunited with them, and I kind of felt like the book never really made me feel like it was a distinct possibility.

There were also a lot of the tropes you’d see in a book like this.  The girl who’s the most powerful in a while, but doesn’t want it and would do anything to get rid of it.  There’s the best friend who has no idea her best friend is a bruja but goes after her anyway, and the bad boy with a troubled past who, in the end, does the right thing by trying to help our heroine.  It wasn’t annoying enough to make me dislike it, but just annoying enough for me to bring it up. So keep that in min if you’re thinking about reading it.

The magic and folklore were really different, and I liked the idea of a Deathday celebration.  There was something very old and traditional about the magic, like it was passed down from generation to generation.  I also really liked the contrast between Brooklyn and Los Lagos and Brooklyn and the magic we see in the book.

I did think Alex was a little bit on the bratty side- her family really cared about her, as did a lot of other people, and it seemed like she threw it right in their faces at her Deathday celebration.  I am curious about why her mom didn’t really put her through their magical training a little more.  I wonder if maybe that’s part of Alex’s problem.  Maybe not, but I do wonder if it would have made a difference.

And the cover!  It’s really unique and I’d definitely pick it up based off of the cover alone.

4 stars.  I can’t wait to read the next book, because I am curious to see where things go.  Especially with how the book ended.  It is really unique, and worth checking out!

Book Review: City Of Saints And Thieves by Natalie Anderson

Book: City Of Saints & Thieves by Natalie Anderson

Published January 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|401 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The more you see, the less you know.

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who does not exist.

Tina and her mother first arrived in Kenya as refugees from Congo desperately searching for a better life. Trading the peril of their besieged village for the busy metropolis of Sangui, they can barely believe their luck when Tina’s mother finds work as a maid for the Greyhills, one of the city’s most illustrious families. But there’s a dark secret lurking behind the family’s immense fortune, and when Tina discovers her mother shot dead in Mr. Greyhill’s private study, she knows he pulled the trigger.

With revenge on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving the streets on her own, working as a master thief with the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job with the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving a long-awaited chance for vengeance. But once Tina returns to the lavish home, she’s overcome by memories of her painful past, and the girl who does not exist is caught red-handed, setting into motion a breathless and dangerous cascade of events that will expose not only the truth behind who killed Tina’s mother, but even more harrowing secrets from Tina’s past that will change everything.

I thought City Of Saints & Thieves was a great book!  This is most definitely a book about getting revenge on the person who killed Tina’s mother, and I thought it went in a really interesting direction.

At first, Tina very much wants revenge on the man she believes killed her mother.  When she returns to the place where her mother died, a series of events leads her to realize that she didn’t know for sure what happened the night her mother died.  What really happened that night ends up being far different than what Tina thought happened, and she uncovers a lot of family history.  Everything from who her father is to why they left Congo.

What happened isn’t the whole story, and I liked how we uncovered what really happened that night.  I think it would be interesting to go back and re-read City Of Saints & Thieves knowing what I know now.

I liked the rules of being a thief that we see at the beginning of some of the chapters.  It added something special to the book, and I think it gives a peek into Tina’s life as part of the Goondas.

It did take a little while to get into the book, and I thought the pacing was a little uneven.  It was fast-paced, and then really slow.  I still wanted to know what happened next, but I felt like I had to wade through some parts of the book.

I also loved the setting!  I’ve read a few books set in Africa, but I don’t think I’ve read any set in Congo or Kenya before.  There is a sense of danger, and I felt like you really understand why Tina and her mother left Congo for Kenya.  You see the danger they’re in, and why people might seek a better life somewhere else.  You also see why people stay, even when it might be easier for them to leave.

It turns out the author has worked with refugees in Africa, and that really comes through.  It felt very well researched and I felt like there was a lot of attention to detail.

4 stars.  It was a little slow at times and it was hard to get into at first, but overall, I really liked it.

Book Review: Queen Of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Book: Queen Of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Published September 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing|547 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Throne Of Glass #4

Genre: YA Fantasy

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

I really like this series, and this book…I don’t know what I was expecting, but I can’t wait to see what happens next. Especially with how the book ended.

In the last book, I wasn’t sure about Manon, and the whole arc with the covens- it seemed out of place before. And I wondered if maybe it was setting something up in future books.  I turned out to be right about that, but I really didn’t expect it to go the way that it did.  I want to see more of Manon and her Thirteen.

We see more development with Rowan and Aelin, and it seems like the good ship Chaol and Celaena are on their way to being completely dead.  It depends on what happens in Empire Of Storms, of course, but I don’t see Chaol and Celaena getting back together.  As much as I love both Chaol and Celaena, I don’t think I really like them together. Pretty much because I think he has a hard time accepting her for who she is.  And after the whole thing with Nehemia…there really isn’t any hope for them.  Not anymore.  But at the same time, Chaol does stand up to her, which I think she needs.

She is a very different Celaena in this book than in the previous ones.  She is more Aelin, Queen Of Terrasen than Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s Assassin.  It’s a big change, and I have the feeling that there are very divided feelings on both the change in Celaena and with the romance.

I did hate what Maas did to Chaol, but he was right (a lot) and I wish the changes for him and Celaena were a little bit smoother.  And Dorian!  I felt for him, I really did.  I hated every single time he was in pain.

Manon and Lysandra were amazing, and Nesryn had a lot of potential but I kind of felt like Nesryn was just there.

Queen Of Shadows is definitely a big turning point.  We’re turning away from trying to free magic and take down the king of Adarlan, and turning towards a war with Perrington.  I’m curious to see where things go.

4 stars.  I thought Nesryn had a lot of potential, and I hated what Maas did to Chaol, but I can’t wait to see where things go.

Book Review: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

Book: My Sister Rosa By Justine Larbalestier

Published November 2016 by Soho Teen|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Thriller/Contemporary

What if the most terrifying person you know is your ten-year-old sister?

Seventeen-year-old Aussie Che Taylor loves his younger sister, Rosa. But he’s also certain that she’s a psychopath—clinically, threateningly, dangerously. Recently Rosa has been making trouble, hurting things. Che is the only one who knows; he’s the only one his sister trusts. Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and very good at hiding what she is and the manipulation she’s capable of.

Their parents, whose business takes the family from place to place, brush off the warning signs as Rosa’s “acting out.” Now that they have moved again—from Bangkok to New York City—their new hometown provides far too many opportunities for Rosa to play her increasingly complex and disturbing games. Che’s always been Rosa’s rock, protecting her from the world. Now, the world might need protection from her.

I was intrigued by My Sister Rosa when I first heard about it, and I finally got around to reading it!

Rosa’s pretty creepy and twisted, and she seemed a little bit older than her ten years.  It’s easy to see why her parents- especially her mom- wouldn’t believe what she’s really capable of.  Some people seem to know there’s something different about her, though, but they’re not sure what.

We’re told right off the bat that Rosa is a psychopath, and nothing’s really changed by the end of the book.  I wish there was more build-up with Rosa.  I also thought that maybe Che was an unreliable narrator, and that he was the psychopath, not Rosa.  I expected Rosa’s results, but not Che’s- it seemed opposite of how Che acted in the book.  I also didn’t get how the book went from “my sister is a psychopath” to “everyone is a psychopath, but you just don’t know it.”  The book makes it seem like it’s something that’s really common, but I always thought it was a lot more rare.  I also felt like I was being told Rosa was a psychopath, as opposed to actually seeing her act that way.

I also felt like we got two stories in one book- one focusing on Rosa, and one focusing on a coming-of-age.  I felt really bored reading about both Rosa and Che’s life in New York, and I kind of wish the book focused more on Rosa. It was a little too unbalanced, and I wish the book had focused on one or the other.

Considering how big of a role David and Sally have in the book, we know absolutely nothing about them.  Some of the other characters had the potential to be really interesting, but they fell a little short.  I did like how diverse the characters were, though.

2 stars.  It was okay, and I felt like there were two different stories that didn’t go very well together.  I also wish we saw how creepy Rosa was, instead of being told that she was psychopathic.

ARC Book Review: Black, White, Other And A Girl Named Mister

black-white-otherBook #1: Black, White, Other by Joan Steinau Lester

Published January 2017 by Blink|225 pages

Where I Got It: I received this book as an e-arc from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Identity Crisis.  

As a biracial teen, Nina is accustomed to a life of varied hues—mocha-colored skin, ringed brown hair streaked with red, a darker brother, a black father, a white mother. When her parents decide to divorce, the rainbow of Nina’s existence is reduced to a much starker reality. Shifting definitions and relationships are playing out all around her, and new boxes and lines seem to be getting drawn every day.

Between the fractures within her family and the racial tensions splintering her hometown, Nina feels caught in perpetual battle. Feeling stranded in the nowhere land between racial boundaries, and struggling for personal independence and identity, Nina turns to the story of her great-great-grandmother’s escape from slavery. Is there direction in the tale of her ancestor? Can Nina build her own compass when landmarks from her childhood stop guiding the way?

Rating/Review: 2 stars.  It was okay for me, and I wanted to like it, but I had a hard time with it.  I found myself skimming through the part where she’s reading about her relative.  I liked the present-day story a little bit more, and the message was really obvious- but it’s also really important.  She really does struggle to fit in, and you see how much things change her and how she feels caught in the middle on so many different levels.  I did really like seeing the relationship with one of her friends and her reaction to Nina hanging out with other people.  I think it’s something we can all relate to, feeling like we don’t fit in, but I feel like I understand Nina a little better.

a-girl-named-mister-coverBook #2: A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

Published January 2017 by Blink|233 pages

Where I Got It: I received an e-ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review

What It’s About: Nikki Grimes, a bestselling author known for titles such as Dark Sons, Barak Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope, and Voices of Christmas has written a gripping book from the perspective of a girl named Mister (Mary Rudine) who finds herself momentarily distracted from her faith commitment to purity by a handsome boy named Trey. After one night of weakness, Mister finds her entire life has changed, even if she can’t yet accept all the changes occurring within her are real. When the emotional scars of losing her innocence are more lasting than she imagined, Mister turns to a book of her mother’s, which contains poems from Mary’s perspective. As both Mister and Mary’s voices play out in the story, a full and meaningful portrait of Christian faith, trust, and forgiveness emerges, along with the truth that God can use even the most unplanned events in our lives for his greater glory.

Rating & Review: 2 stars.  This one was okay for me.  It was a quick read, which I think is because the entire book is told in verse.  It was okay, but sometimes it felt like things were broken up to give the appearance of poetry, because there were times where it didn’t feel like I was reading poetry.  Then again, I don’t read a lot of novels told in verse, so maybe unfamiliarity is where my problem lies.  There is a whole diary feel to the book that didn’t quite work for me.  The comparison to Mary, Jesus’ mother, did not work for me at all, and I felt like the comparison was trying to compare apples and oranges.  I’m also not sure what the book was going for abstinence, maybe?  That’s the impression I got.  I’m also not quite clear on who the book is actually meant for- definitely not me, but maybe a teen who’s questioning her faith is the target audience for this?  The ending was also abrupt and left a lot of questions.

Currently Obsessed With: January 2017

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month feature where I talk about my favorite things from the last month!

Currently Obsessed With

 

January felt like such a weird month!  There was reading, but I just couldn’t get myself to actually review the books I read.  Some of them, anyway.  Hopefully, a trip to Starbucks or the library will do the trick, because attempting to write some reviews during my lunch break didn’t work out very well.  I feel like I mostly stared at pinterest, or curled up in bed the second I got home from work, which is super-weird for me.  I feel like I’m starting to come out of whatever funk I was in, so hopefully I’ll get back to reading and reviewing soon!

Books: 

Not a lot of book-buying happened last month!  Just Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder from Audible, and that’s it.

Crochet:

I continued working on a blanket that I’ve been working on for a while.  I finished it last night, which is good, considering it’s a birthday present for my grandma, and her birthday is tomorrow!  I have a couple projects I need to get started on (baby gifts for a co-worker), and after that…I have no idea what to work on next.  I’ll figure it out eventually, I just need to get through the baby gifts first!

T.V./Movies:

I haven’t really watched anything- I’m just waiting for Beauty And The Beast to come out (which reminds me, I don’t even know when that is).  I haven’t really been in the mood to watch anything, but maybe that will change this month!

Around The Internet:

Why We Need More New Adult Books.

Why Libraries Are Awesome!

This is an interesting article on social isolation.

I also really liked this article about how one man helped shaped climate change.

Has anyone else read this transcript of President Obama talking about what books mean to him?  I thought it was absolutely fascinating.

Speaking of President Obama, I also thought this article about the letters mailed to the White House was really fascinating.

I never really thought about how restaurants prep for VIP’s before.

The ALA Midwinter award list has some amazing books and authors on it!  I really need to read March by John Lewis.

Things YA authors need to stop doing.

Also: Should authors agree with everything they write?

Music:

I’ve been listening to Brave Enough by Lindsey Stirling a lot over the last month!  It’s so good, and it’s interesting because she normally does a lot of instrumentals, with one or two songs that have vocals.  But the songs on Brave Enough are split between instrumentals and vocals, and those are the ones I ended up loving.  Here are two of my favorites!

Song #1: Brave Enough.  I can’t stop listening to it!



Song #2: Where Do We Go.  It’s another one I’ve been listening to constantly.



Top Ten Tuesday: Top Seven 2016 Releases I Wanted To Read But Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

Blog Graphic- Top Ten Tuesday

Top Seven 2016 Releases I Never Got The Chance To Read

It seems like every year, there are always a bunch of books I want to read and never do.  I don’t have a full 10 books today, because I really couldn’t come up with 10.

  1. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows.  I’ve wanted to read this for a while, but I never seem to get around to it. I know it’s not a 2016 release, but it’s still one I never got around to reading, even though I kept telling myself I would.
  2. Imprudence by Gail Carriger.  I was so excited about it when it came out but never got around to it.
  3. Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine.  Her Morganville Vampire series is one of my favorites, so when I saw she was doing a collection of the short stories, I knew I had to read it.
  4. Outrun The Moon by Stacey Lee.  I really liked Under A Painted Sky, and I’m looking forward to reading Outrun The Moon so much!
  5. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.  I feel like I’ve heard a lot of good things about Truthwitch, and since I recently bought a copy at Barnes And Noble, I’m hoping I’ll actually read it.
  6. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.  I did pick this one up and a few pages in, realized the audio book was going to work a lot better for me.  I still need to listen to it, but hopefully, I’ll get to it this year.
  7. Empire Of Storms by Sarah J. Maas.  I really like this series so far, and even though I still need to read Queen Of Shadows, I can’t wait to read Empire Of Storms.

The End Of Year Survey For 2016

I really love the End Of Year Survey that Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner does every year, and I figure this is a great time to do it!  You can check it out here.

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2016 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books I Read: 123

Number Of Re-Reads: I honestly have no idea- I’m pretty sure I re-read some stuff, but I don’t track it.  Unless you count the Welcome To Night Vale book, because I did read the print book and listen to the audio book because I couldn’t make up my mind about which format I wanted to read it in.  That’s only one I can remember off of the top of my head.

Genre I Read The Most From: Contemporary- with 38 books!

Best In Books:

1. Best Book You Read In 2016:

Contemporary: It’s a tie between George by Alex Gino and Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Fantasy: A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas and The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

General Fiction: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick.  I really liked it but not as much as I thought.  It just didn’t have the same appeal My Life Next Door Had.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read: All The Beautiful And Ugly Things by Bryn Greenwood.  This book was a good surprise, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I loved it.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did): I feel like I talked about George by Alex Gino a lot- I’m not sure how many people picked it up specifically because I mentioned it, but I think everyone should read it!

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Best Series I Started: Court Of Fives by Kate Elliott

Best Sequel: A Court Of Mist And Fury

Best Series Ender: The Heart Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016: Yaa Gyasi- Homegoing was amazing

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone: It’s a tie between Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and Behold The Dreamers by Mbue Imbolo

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:  I’m going with Harry Potter And The Cursed Child for this one, and that’s because I was excited to get my copy at midnight that I knew I couldn’t go to bed until I read the entire script.  It doesn’t exactly fit, but that’s the book I’m going with.

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016: I love this one, and I don’t know why.  But it’s so pretty!

shiny-broken-pieces-cover

11. Most memorable character of 2016: Gabi, from A Girl In Pieces.  I loved her, and she has a really unique voice.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016: This is a hard one, but I think I’m going to go with All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016: All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.  There are no words to describe how much this book made me think, but it was such an eye-opener for me.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick.  I’ve wanted to read it for a while, but never got around to it until last year.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016:

“You look around at the people in your life, one by one, choosing to hold on to the ones who make you stronger and better, and letting go of the ones who don’t.”

From Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016:

Shortest: The House On Mango St by Sandra Cisneros (110 pages) and Perfect by Natasha Friend (4 hours, 30 minutes)

Longest: The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson (688 pages) and World War Z by Max Brooks (12 hours, 8 minutes)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most: Soldier by Julie Kagawa.  I was not expecting that ending at all.  I will be so glad when the next book comes out so I can find out what happens.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!): Valek and Yelena from Night Study

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Melissa and Kelly from George.  I love their friendship and how supportive Kelly was.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: And I Darken by Kiersten White.  I swear, every book she does is so different than the last one, but it was such a great book!

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: Court Of Fives by Kate Elliott.  I read it solely based on Gail Carriger’s recommendation.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016: Rhysand from A Court Of Thorns And Roses.  I don’t think an explanation is needed.

23. Best 2016 debut you read: In the interest of mixing up and NOT putting a book I’ve mentioned already, I’m going to go with False Illusions by A. Cramton!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye is one of the more vivid settings- I loved the Night Circus feel that the book has!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read: The BFG by Roald Dahl.  It definitely made me smile!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.  It’s the only one where I remember crying when I was reading it.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  This book deserves more attention!

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul: This is another hard one, but I think I’m going to go with All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  But I also think Missoula by Jon Krakauer would be either choice.  I wish I could make up my mind, because there are too many good choices.  These are my top 2 choices, though, so at least I was able to narrow it down.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016: I have to go with the Welcome To Night Vale book for this one- I highly recommend the audio book, if you do decide to pick it up!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it): Take A Chance and One More Chance by Abbi Glines.  I read a couple of other books by Glines and really liked them, but these two were so frustrating to read.  Just thinking about them makes me angry!

My Book/Blogging Life:

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016: Paper Fury!  Her blog was new to me last year, and I don’t know why I didn’t start reading it before!!!  Her blog is absolutely delightful and fun.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016: The reviews I wrote for Take A Chance and One More Chance.  As much as I didn’t like those particular books, it was good to get my frustrations out.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog: I think I’m going to have to go with the posts I did about the Gilmore Girls revival: one with no spoilers, Part One (With Spoilers) and Part Two (With Spoilers).

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.): Going to the signing for the Welcome To Night Vale scripts.  It was so much fun to hear them talk about one of my favorite podcasts ever.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016: I have to pick?  Probably the Welcome To Night Vale signing I went to.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year: Lack of motivation.  I had a hard time getting myself to write blog posts this year.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views): Top Ten Books For People Who Like The Iron Fey.  I published this post in July 2012, and it’s STILL my most popular post.  I’ve done a couple of updated posts, but the original one is still going strong, which is completely awesome.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love: I honestly don’t know.  I’m good with whatever people want to read, and I don’t know that there’s one particular post that needs a little more love.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.): Read Diverse Books.  It’s one of my new favorite blogs, and I’ve come across so many books I haven’t heard that I want to read.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year: Close to half of the books I read last year were diverse/#ownvoices, and I definitely paid more attention to what I was reading.

Looking Ahead:

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017: My entire TBR pile?  I’m only half-joking here, but…I think I’m going to go with A Thousand Boy Wishes by Tillie Cole.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut): Red Hot Rain by Rachel Caine.  I was surprised to find out there was going to be another Weather Wardens book, but I’m really looking forward to it.

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  I am looking forward to this book so much I pre-ordered it.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017: A Court Of Wings And Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.  After the way ACOMAF ended…I just need to read it.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017: There are so many things I could say, but if I have to pick one…listen to more audio books.  I’m going with one audio book a month this year.

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: I haven’t read any 2017 releases yet, but I know I have a couple ARC’s I need to read.

2016: A Year In Books

Since I did a post looking back at everything I did last year, I figured I do a bookish recap too!  I figured I do a numbers/resolution post, but the 2016 End Of Year Survey is in the works too.  I should be posting that sometime this week, and that will be more focused on the books I read last year.

Some General Stats:

  1. Total Books Read: 123
  2. Shortest Book I Read: The House On Mango St. by Sandra Cisneros at 110 pages
  3. Longest Book I Read: The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson at 688 pages
  4. Total Pages Read: 38,445 for 115 e-books/print books
  5. Shortest Audio Book: Perfect by Natasha Friend at 4 hours, 30 minutes
  6. Longest Audio Book: World War Z by Max Brooks at 12 hours, 8 minutes
  7. Total Hours Listened To: 73 hours, 31 minutes

5 Most Read Genres:

  1. Contemporary: 38 books
  2. Fantasy: 29 books
  3. General Fiction: 10 books
  4. Historical Fiction: 9 books
  5. Re-Telling: 9 books

Some Random Stats:

  1. 11 books were from 2016 debut authors
  2. 70% of the books I read were YA, 21% were adult, and 9% were NA, middle grade and children’s.
  3. 74.9% were from the library, 21.9% were books I own, and the remaining 4% or so were ARC’s or borrowed.
  4. 54% were print books, 40% were e-books and 6% were audio books.
  5. 62% of the books I read were 3 stars or higher, and I ended up not finishing 39 books this year.  I’m not sure about how many books I re-read, but that might be something to track this year.

How I Did With Last Year’s Reading Goals:

  1. I read, on average, 5 diverse books every month, and overall, 48.9% of the books I read last year were diverse.  I was hoping I would reach 50%, but I got pretty close, and I am determined to have half of the books I read this year be diverse.
  2. Apparently, one of my goals last year was to get back into reading after a reading slump.  Even though I’m feeling sort of blah about a lot of the books I read this year, I did pay more attention to what I was read, and I did get out of my comfort zone a little bit.
  3. This brings me to not doing the Goodreads challenge last year.  It took a lot of pressure off, and I feel like I was able to focus more on WHAT I was reading, instead HOW MUCH I was reading.  It is a good challenge, and it definitely works for a lot of people- it worked for me for quite a few years, but at this point in my reading life, I have other things I want to focus on in terms of reading.  I may come back to the Goodreads challenge at some point, but not anytime soon.
  4. Not surprisingly, I didn’t read a lot of the books I own.  I did use the library a lot- around 74% of the books  I read were from the library, but I think it’s partially because the books I own weren’t too appealing last year? Maybe?  I’m not really sure.

My Reading Goals For This Year:

While we’re on the topic of goals, let’s talk about what I want to accomplish this year, in terms of reading.

  1. Not doing the Goodreads challenge.  I talked a little bit about it above, but it was a huge relief to NOT do it last year.  I have reading goals in mind, but not of the “how many books do I want to read this year” variety.  It’s just not a goal for me right now, but like I said, it’s something I may come back to in the future.
  2. Half of the books I read this year will be diverse/#ownvoices!  I was so close to that number last year, but more importantly, it’s really important to me that I keep reading books that are about and written by people from marginalized groups.
  3. I also want to read more translated books!  Shadow Of The Wind was really interesting, and I really liked The Vegetarian, so I am determined to find more translated books.  I’m always looking for suggestions!
  4. This year, I really want to listen to more audio books!  I feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for audio books and podcasts, but this year, I want to listen to at least one audio book a month.

I think that wraps it up.  Have a great week!

Book Review: Heartless, Conviction, and Court Of Fives

heartless-cover-marissa-meyerBook #1: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Published November 2016 by Feiwel & Friends|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Re-telling

What It’s About: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

What I Thought: I really liked Heartless!  The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series, and when I found out Meyer was coming out with another book, I knew I had to read it!  At first, I wasn’t sure about it, and initially, it was just okay.  But the more I read, the more I fell in love with the book, and the more I liked Catherine.

She’s an interesting character, and at first, she really is the sweetest person who loves baking.  It was hard to see her becoming the Queen Of Hearts that we all know in Alice In Wonderland, but the change she made into the character we all know was really believable.  It was a pretty fast change, but it worked for her character, and it was easy the events that led to her change were so easy to believe and made perfect sense for her.

By the time I was finished, I was ready for more set in this world, and that was when I realized that it was a stand-alone.  Which is fine, since it is Meyer’s take on Alice In Wonderland and the Queen Of Hearts.  But I am curious to see what Alice In Wonderland would be like if it were done by Meyer, because she did something pretty cool with Cinder.

My Rating: 4 stars.  It took me a little bit to get into Heartless, but by the end, I really wanted more set in this world!

conviction-coverBook #2: Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Published May 2015 by Disney Hyperion|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch already has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

What I Thought: I really wanted to like Conviction, and it seemed like it would be a great book, but it ended up being really frustrating to read. There were so many different angles, and I felt like none of them really got the attention they deserved. There’s Braden, and the complicated family stuff- his mom left him, and the same happened with his half-brother’s mom. There’s a dad, who seems abusive, and pushed baseball on his kids because his dream of being a professional baseball died when he got injured. And all of the stuff with a brother, who’s gay, and was kicked out and basically almost killed by their dad. On top of that, Braden’s dad is accused of killing a cop, and people may or may not have lied about what happened that night.

I felt like a lot of things weren’t clear, like with what happened on the night that the cop died, and things were hinted at, but for the most part, nothing was clearly mentioned or explained. That was when it matched up with what was previously mentioned in the book, and there was definitely at least one time, where things didn’t match up at all.

Not only that, but you have different time lines- there’s Braden’s memories of his dad, there what happened the night the cop died, and what was going on in the present, and it made things less coherent and really jumbled. It didn’t feel very focused, and I felt like I was reading all of these different pieces that didn’t really come together. The flashbacks were also poorly done in my opinion, and randomly thrown in with no transitions before and after.

My Rating: 2 stars. I didn’t dislike it enough to give it 1 star, but it was really confusing and all over the place. I can see why people like it, but it wasn’t for me.

court-of-fives-coverBook #3: Court Of Fives by Kate Elliott

Published August 2015 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|448 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Court Of Fives #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

What I Thought: I picked up Court Of Fives based solely on the recommendation of Gail Carriger, and it was a fun, interesting read. I do feel like there are a lot of similar books out there, plot-wise but I really liked this one because it felt different enough to hold my attention. I really liked the competition, and how things aren’t what they seem.

It’s interesting that the history they know seems to be slightly different than what actually happened (which isn’t surprising at all), and I was really intrigued by the original story, and the parallels to Jessamy’s family, particularly with her parents. I did like that her dad stuck by her mom, even though it would have advanced his career a lot more. He still seemed really ambitious, and it didn’t seem to matter in the end, since they lost their main protector. But it did seem to matter to him, at least for a little while.

I kind of wish the competition was explained a little more, because even now, I’m not quite sure how to explain it, or even what it is. Something about it reminded me of the actual Hunger Games, but far less deadly. And something that relies a lot more on actual practice and logic and strategy. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series, and how things work out for Jessamy and her family.

My Rating: 4 stars. This was intriguing and interesting and a really good read.