Monthly Wrap-Up: July 2015

At the end of June I told myself that I would only read two to three books in July and spend the time I would normally spend reading writing . . . Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Writing 

What I wrote last month: I still spent a significant amount of time writing and accomplished my goal for July of finishing the third draft of my young adult sci-fi work in progress, but the third draft turned out shorter than I wanted. I was hoping for the draft to end up at 70,000 words which is between around 200-350 pages depending on formatting for those people who don’t understand word count. It ended up being around 63,000 words long (only around 33,000 words of that was written this month) which is still an increase from my 54,000 word long second draft and 35,000 word first draft.

I’d like to thank my Camp NaNoWriMo cabin mates for keeping me motivated!

What I plan to write next month: My writing goal for the next couple months will be extensive revisions on my high fantasy work in progress. The first draft was only 40,000 words long. My current revisions have actually made it shorter than that at the moment, but the first draft was so fast paced that I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who would be able to understand it. Believe me when I say there is plenty of room for expansion.

Reading

In July I read five books. One was a graphic novel memoir, one was adult fantasy/steam-punk, two were science fiction novels that my library classifies as adult but I feel are better suited for mature YA/New Adult readers, and one was a YA sci-fi romance novel (yes, these exist).

The Alloy of Law by Brandon SandersonShort Synopsis: Spin-off/book four of the Mistborn series. Picks up a few hundred years after Hero of Ages left off. It blends elements of the original Mistborn Trilogy with those of steam-punk, western, and mystery novels.

Thoughts: My Brandon Sanderson marathon continues. This book is much shorter than the previous ones in the series and Brandon’s other adult books. I enjoyed the original trilogy more, but this was still worth reading. Excited to see where the next few Mistborn novels lead.

Rating:

4.5 blue jays

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Short Synopsis: The true story of a girl growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution.

Graphic novels and memoirs are not something I normally read so I started this expecting it to not hold my attention meaning I have more time to write, but ended up being unable to put it down for long periods of time. I liked the first half more than the second. If it were only the first half this would get five stars.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

Red Rising by Pierce BrownShort Synopsis: 16-year-old Darrow has spent his life on Mars mining for the minerals needed to terraform the planet. One day Darrow’s wife dies fighting the repressive “Gold” upper class. He vows to  do whatever he can to keep this situation from repeating.

Thoughts: I was determined not to read any more dystopian novels, but then I found out this book was set on Mars and saw it had generally good reviews. Mars is my favorite setting so I was thrilled to read this. Would have liked to see the fact that this was Mars incorporated a little more into the wold building (but I think that’s just me), and there were some overused dystopian tropes, but still really enjoyed this. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating:

4 blue jays

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Short Synopsis: Sequel to Red Rising. Darrow, now 20, continues to infiltrate upper class society in the hopes of freeing his people.

Thoughts: Liked this even more than it’s predecessor. This book felt more space opera than dystopian and I loved this shift as there aren’t nearly enough well written space opera novels. My only regret is not waiting until book three is released to start this trilogy.

Rating:

five blue jays

Broken Skies by Theresa Kay

Short Synopsis: 17-year-old Jax’s brother is abducted by aliens. With the help of Lir, a young alien the group who kidnapped her brother left behind, Jax must find a way to infiltrate their civilization and free her brother.

Thoughts: As always with multi-species romance stories I had to suspend my disbelief. A human and a jellyfish are more similar than a human and any life-form we’re likely to find that originates on another planet, okay? Humans and aliens are never going to date.

That said, this was a well paced, quick read. It satisfied my desire to read about aliens, and I do plan to read the sequel when it is released.

Rating:

4 blue jays

Monthly Wrap-up: June 2015

I read a total of eight books in June with two of them being over 1000 pages in length. Before this past month I had not read even one book over 1000 pages long so I consider this an accomplishment even if the books didn’t feel 1000 pages long because of how much I enjoyed them. Five of the books I read were YA fiction, and three were adult fiction. All fell into the fantasy genre. Five were high fantasy, and three were dystopian with a paranormal twist.

June was one of my most reading intensive months this year, if not the most so far. Sure, eight books is not the highest number I’ve read, but it’s close and some of the books I read in June were also incredibly long.

In terms of writing I didn’t post very much last month due to the fact that all I wanted to do was read. This is specifically true of my blog since I did manage to write around 5,000 words of my current work in progress, but didn’t manage to keep up my goal of posting at least once per week. Throughout July I’ll be participating in Camp National Novel Writing Month so all the reviews for the amazing books I read but didn’t write about last month may have to wait as I try to focus on finishing my current manuscript, but I do plan on reviewing at least a few more of the ones I’ve read eventually.

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

Short Synopsis: Conclusion to Brandon Sanderson’s original Mistborn trilogy.

Thoughts: This was a really great end to a trilogy. I had a few minor problems with it, but those were mostly subjective. Mistborn may well become one of my favorite series depending on my thoughts of the new continuation books.

Rating:

 five blue jays

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehShort Synopsis: A man marries a new woman everyday to kill her at dawn. Shahrahzad agrees to marry him so she can kill the man and end the cycle.

Thoughts: I had a few, mostly nit-picky, issues but overall this was very enjoyable. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirShort Synopsis: The most promising aspirant in his class tries to find a way out of doing the terrible things his empire asks of him. Meanwhile, a slave girl infiltrates the compound where he goes to school in order to save her brother.

Thoughts: I have some conflicted feelings about this book, but am giving it a relatively high rating because it was extremely addictive and left me wanting more.

Rating:

 4 blue jays

The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonShort Synopsis: Kaladin was a prominent young squad leader in an army until one day he was sold into slavery. Now forced into the position of bridgeman, considered the worst position in the army because it has the highest death rate, Kaladin struggles to protect the lives of those around him.

Meanwhile, a girl named Shallan tries to steal one of a princess’s most valuable possessions to save her family from financial ruin and Highprince Dalinar tries to make sense of his strange visions.
Thoughts: This book was very good, but due to it’s length this is the book that took me the longest to read this month. It follows the stories of several different characters, many of whom never meet in this novel, and at times it could be a little hard to remember which perspective I was reading from, but the formatting really helped with that. The world building was some of the most unique and well developed I’ve read. Overall this book was long, but amazing and worth it.

Rating: 

five blue jays

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Short Synopsis: The second book in the Stormlight Archive and the sequel to The Way of Kings.

Thoughts: This book might have been over 1000 pages long, but I read it in about four days because I was just so invested in the story and loving the way it came together. I can’t wait for book three to be released next July.

Rating:

five blue jays

The Immortal Rules by Julie KagawaThe Eternity Cure by Julie KagawaThe Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

Short Synopsis: In a dystopian future where vampires rule and humans are herded like cattle our main character must chose between true death and becoming the thing she hates most: a vampire. The entire Blood of Eden Trilogy.

Thoughts: I wasn’t expecting to like this one and actually started reading the first book because I was hoping to read something that wouldn’t distract from my writing, but ended up really enjoying it and reading the entire trilogy in three days.

Rating:

4 blue jays

(series rating)

Currently reading:

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May 2015 Wrap-Up

This month I read six books. Many of the books I read this month were some of my favorite books of the year so far. I also read the longest book I had read so far in 2015 (The Well of Ascension).

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanShort Synopsis: A girl writes love letters to all the boys she has ever loved and hides them in her room until one day they are sent in the mail.

Thoughts: This book was fun to read. It was lighthearted and had an intriguing plot with well developed characters. However, it was my least favorite book of the month not because there is anything wrong with it, but because some of the other books I’ve read this month will probably become some of my favorite books of all time.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Challenger Deep by Neal ShustermanShort Synopsis: Caden descends into the depths of the Marianas Trench and his own mind.

Thoughts: This is a hard book to get into as it has a unique writing style of very short chapter alternating between two purposefully confusing story lines. After adjusting this book is unique and thought provoking.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasShort Synopsis: When the wolf Fayre killed in the woods turns out to have been a faerie in disguise she must chose between paying with her life and a lifetime trapped in a faerie’s house.

Thoughts: Though there were some elements at the end that confused me, I really liked this book. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

End of Days by Susan EeShort Synopsis: Third book in the Angelfall Trilogy in which angels invade the Earth.

Thoughts: Although I enjoyed this book, particularly the first three fourths, I felt the ending was rushed and left the story feeling incomplete. For my full thoughts see my series review.

Rating:

 4 blue jays

The Final Empire by Brandon SandersonShort Synopsis: A group of thieves with magical abilities gained through consuming metals plot to overthrow an immortal dictator.

Thoughts: This was a great read. The “overthrowing dictator” plot has been done a lot in fantasy, but Sanderson makes it feel original and fresh. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

five blue jays

68429Short Synopsis: Sequel to Mistborn: The Final Empire. This shows the aftermath of the heist in book one.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, and liked that I could hardly ever predict what would happen next. However, the story just didn’t feel as complete to me as book one which I preferred over the sequel.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

Currently Reading:

The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3)Invaded (Alienated, #2)18243700

Note: I’m probably going to stop reading Invaded and The Assassin’s Blade for a while. It’s not that either is a bad book (neither is). It’s just that I had to return one to the library, and as for the other, I’m just distracted by everything else I want to read and not in the mood for a human-alien romance story.

Reading Wrap-up: April 2015

I didn’t read as much this month as I normally do because I spent so much time in April participating in Camp NaNoWrimo. Then at the end of the month I got incredibly busy. Camp NaNoWriMo went well and I ended April having written 32,716 words which is over 10,000 words more than the 20K goal I started with.

Instinct by Sherrilyn KenyonShort Synopsis: The sixth book in a series about a boy who discovers a world of dark hunters and demons he never knew existed but is suddenly out to get him for reasons not revealed until later in the series.

Thoughts: This book was the shortest in the series too far, and I feel it was too short. The author didn’t go into her usual depth with character interactions and events. Everything felt rushed. None the less, this was still a fun read, and I find the fact that Sherrilyn Kenyon manages to write so many books in the same fictional universe (around 30 and counting) is extremely impressive. Especially when a fore mentioned books contain only minor inconsistencies. Someone I know who has read most of the Dark Hunter Universe books pointed the inconsistencies out to me. I never noticed.

4 blue jays

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeShort Synopsis: Dorian Gray makes a wish on a painting to be young and beautiful forever while the painting ages. Unfortunately, Dorian’s wish is at the cost of his soul.

Thoughts: I don’t usually rate classics, but I really enjoyed this one. It is much easier to read than most classics, and I enjoyed the overall plot. I also read this book at the perfect time because around the day I finished it I found a large picture of myself had arrived at my house.

five blue jays

 

Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. EatonShort Synopsis: A teenage girl living on a military camp finds her “dream boy” in the woods the night after a mysterious plane crash.

Thoughts: This novel involves aliens. I read it as research for my current writing project which also involves space aliens. It is very much a paranormal romance novel with aliens and there were many times it had me rolling my eyes and needing to suspend my disbelief, but I appreciated that the romance progresses slower in this novel than most of similar varieties I’ve read. This book was also well paced and therefore hard to put down.

3.5 blue jays

The Young Elites by Marie LuShort Synopsis: Teenagers who survived a plague get super-powers.

Thoughts: I’ve noticed Marie Lu likes to write about plagues. This book felt like it followed a formula, and there were aspects I really liked, and others that didn’t work for me. I’m very conflicted in my feelings towards this book, but will probably read the sequel.

 

3 blue jays

 

Currently Reading:

15749186

 

 

Reading Wrap-up: March 2015

In March I read five books. One was nonfiction, and three were young adult fantasy, and one was New Adult Fantasy that was arguably also YA Fantasy.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Short synopsis: Assassin nuns must defend the Duchess of Brittany from her enemies. Sequel to Grave Mercy. 

Thoughts: I highly enjoyed this look into Sybella’s mind. Her back story and family complications were clearly well thought out. She is a great character with so much complexity and background. The integrate world building with its historical inspiration sealed the deal. My favorite book in the trilogy so far.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

 

 

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootShort Synopsis: Women’s cells are cultured without her permission, but save millions of lives. The backstory of HeLa  cells.

Thoughts: The moral and ethical issues discussed in this book were extremely enlightening. I had no idea any of this was going on. It also shows the person behind an important medical achievement, something not usually shown in nonfiction.

Rating: 

five blue jays

 

 

 

 

Ensnared by A.G. HowardShort Synopsis: Third book in the Splintered Trilogy. A series of Alice and Wonderland retellings.

Thoughts: I enjoyed it, but not as much as the previous books in this series. For my full thoughts see my series review.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays

 

 

 

 

The Ruby Circle by Richelle MeadShort Synopsis: The final book in the Bloodlines Series, the spin-off of Vampire Academy.

Thoughts: This is the book I’m considering New Adult fantasy. The main character is now 19, and let’s just say her commitment to her relationship goes beyond what is normally seen in YA. What I love about Rachelle Mead’s novels is that they’re so gripping and well paced. I did not find that to be the case with this book as much as I had with the others in the series. Something felt off, and the plot felt a little forced, but it was overall still a fun read.

Rating:
4 blue jays

 

 

 

Shadow Scale by Rachel HartmanShort Synopsis: The second book in a series about dragons in a fantasy kingdom.

Thoughts: Still a fun read, but I had some trouble getting into it. Something about the pacing in the beginning felt off, but I liked the second half more than the first and am pleased with where the story ended up.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

 

 

 

 Currently Reading: 

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Reading Wrap-up: February 2015

In February I read four books for the first time and reread three. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and still am. When this happens I typically start rereading some books I found highly enjoyable.

First Time Reads: 

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin GierShort Synopsis: Book two in a series about a family with a time traveling gene.

Thoughts: I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first in the series and am debating whether to continue on. The characters have really begun to annoy me, although I do enjoy the underlying plot.

Rating: 

3 blue jays

Fairest by Marissa MeyerShort Synopsis: Prequel to the Lunar Chronicles Series. Find out how Queen Lavana got to be such an evil villain.

Thoughts: If it weren’t for my reading slump I think I would have enjoyed this much more. It gives background information I suspect will be useful for understanding Winter when it is released, but those who try to skip this book in the series should still know enough to grasp events in the series finale.

Rating: Too conflicted to decide.

Born at Midnight by C.C. HunterShort Synopsis: Teenager finds herself at a camp for paranormal creatures.

Thoughts: This book had me laughing out loud on several occasions, and put me in a good mood. It was a great choice for when I was both in a reading slump and not feeling well. At the same time I felt like it was following some sort of unspoken formula for YA and middle grade novels (ie girl goes somewhere new where two boys fight for her affections). This book feels like it was very much an introduction for the future books in this series which I do intend to read.

Rating:

 3.5 blue jays

Hamlet by William ShakespeareShort Synopsis: Hamlet attempts to kill his uncle, Claudius, to avenge his father’s murder.

Thoughts: I was read exerts from Hamlet before bed when I was younger and it was interesting to see how all of those exerts came together to form a story.

Rating: I can’t decide.

Rereads: 

Seraphina (Seraphina, #1)Short Synopsis: Teenage girl tries to ease tensions between humans and dragons while keeping her own past a secret.

Thoughts: Thoroughly enjoyed this book both times I’ve read it. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Short Synopsis: Angels leave the world in ruins and kidnap a girl’s sister. Girl nurses an angel back to heath to convince him to give her information about her sister’s location.

Thoughts: A fast pace, captivating read. For my full thoughts see my review.

Rating: 

five blue jays

World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)Short Synopsis: Sequel to Angelfall.

Thoughts: Still enjoyed this one, and am eagerly anticipating the series finale, but I liked the first one better. This book has a much slower pace, and a certain male character didn’t have enough page time which wouldn’t normally be a problem for me, but this character and the main character have an amazing dynamic. This dynamic was part of the reason I loved the first book.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Currently Reading: 

Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin, #2)

To see a full review of anything I’ve read this month but haven’t reviewed please comment below with a request.

Monthly Reading Wrap up: January 2015

January was a great month for reading. I read nine books and am currently reading two. Many of them were highly enjoyable. Two were classics, six were young adult, and one was nonfiction. Books are in the order I finished reading them with the earliest completed appearing first.

The Winner's Curse by Marie RutkoskiShort Synopsis: When seventeen-year-old Kestrel accidentally buys a slave at auction she learns the price she paid for a human being was higher than she could have imagined.

Thoughts: I started The Winner’s Curse at the end of 2014, and it became my first book finished in 2015. While I enjoyed it and plan to read the sequel I don’t think I liked it quite as much as most readers seem to. This has to do with the fact that I had difficulty believing any slave would be openly rebellious like Arin after years of servitude.

Rating:3.5 blue jays

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini TaylorDays of Blood & Starlight by Laini TaylorDreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Short Synopsis“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.”– Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

Thoughts: See my series review (spoiler free except where there are warnings) for my full thoughts, but overall I loved these.

Series Rating: five blue jaysThe Fire in Fiction by Donald MaassShort Synopsis: A nonfiction book to help fiction writers with the structural and characterization elements of their works.

Thoughts: I haven’t read many writing-craft books yet though I intend to read more, but it seems like many of them are about the marketing aspect of fiction. I liked that this book focused on the writing itself rather than publication. I didn’t like all of the brief exerts from other works and skipped many of them, but recognize these exerts may have been necessary to further the author’s points.

Rating: I haven’t read enough writing help books to feel confident rating them.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Short Synopsis: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” — Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin

Thoughts: I know so many people who love this book I felt I had to read it. While I liked it, and feel I can understand why it’s a classic it was unfortunately not a life-changing read for me. Romance just isn’t my genre.

Rating: I haven’t read widely enough in novels from this time period to judge.

Firefight by Brandon SandersonShort Synopsis: Teen kills/tries to kill people with superpowers, but in the process uncovers that the solution to fighting the people he fights is nothing like he imagined.

Thoughts: I need to read more Brandon Sanderson books, that is my conclusion. Firefight is book two in the Reckoners Series that began with Steelheart. I’m loving this series so far, and think Brandon Sanderson has a great understanding of plot construction and world-building.

Rating:five blue jays

Charm & Strange by Stephanie KuehnShort Synopsis: Teenage boy deals with his complicated past and the fact that the “beast” inside might finally come out.

Thoughts: I’ve been looking for a book with a plot like this. In June I finished the second draft of a manuscript I’ve been working on with a similar plot (but more supernatural elements, less psychology). I’m not anywhere near querying it, but had no I idea how to market it if I ever got to that point. My other concern was that some agents like comparative titles in their queries and I couldn’t think of any. Now I have one. Unfortunately for this book, I guessed the plot within the first fifty pages. Once the reader knows exactly what’s going to happen the book isn’t nearly as exciting. Note that the only reason I found it predictable was that I wrote a story with a similar plot. This book is not predictable.

Rating: 3 blue jays

 

Oedipus Rex by SophoclesShort Synopsis: Classic Greek tragedy about King Oedipus.

Thoughts: Most dysfunctional family in literary history. If you thought all of the orphan characters in fiction had it bad wait until you read this! This play is extremely short, but the poetic language makes it difficult to get into.

Rating: I haven’t read enough Greek tragedy to judge.

 

Currently Reading:

3318723632998

 

To see a full review of anything I’ve read this month but haven’t reviewed please comment below with a request.

Jacqueline--Name with a Bluejay