March 2016 Wrap-Up

I didn’t have much time for reading in March, but I’m okay with that because of how busy I was, and how much I accomplished in terms of writing.

Reading

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Short Synopsis: After the destruction of Earth, Lilith finds herself abducted by mysterious captors.

Thoughts: This science fiction novel is very different from what I normally read, making for a nice change in pace. I liked the first half better than the second, as by the end some of the sense of wonder had worn off.

An interesting take on alien invasions.

Rating: 4 blue jays

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Short Synopsis: First book in the Infernal Devices series, the sequel to the Mortal Instruments series and companion series to the Infernal Devices.

Thoughts: This book was very addictive once I got past the first few chapters, but at the same time I felt it could have been much shorter and still have been effective.

The new characters are enjoyable, and I’m excited to see where this series goes in the sequel.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Edit: After publishing this I realized that a book I’d thought I read in February was actually read during March. That book’s details are listed below.

25898435Short Synopsis: The queen of an alien civilization and a half human, half alien boy must team up to save themselves and humanity.

Thoughts: This book was a light and fun read. The writing was a little hard to follow at times. I sometimes wondered how the characters had gotten from one scene to another, but all in all it was a nice debut.

Rating: 3.5 blue jays

13638125Short Synopsis: Two college students uncover the key to getting superpowers which subsequently ruins their lives.

Thoughts: Very different from the other V.E. Schwab books I’ve read in the A Darker Shade of Magic series. I really enjoyed the way the novels’ two timelines interwove, and how  this book toyed with the traditional concept of good verses evil.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Blogging

The Dragonet Prophecy 4.5 Star Review

Beautiful People: March 2016

Writing

During March I met my goal of writing at least 500 words each day on my work in progress with 16268 words total for the month bringing my manuscript over 4o,000 words in length. I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, and my goal is to write 20,000 words.

I’m really sorry about the relative inactivity lately. Unfortunately, it will probably continue until I finish my rewrite.

October 2015 Wrap-Up

Reading

In October I didn’t have much time to read, so I only read four books. Two were middle grade, one was either middle grade or young adult depending on how you define the audiences, and one was adult. Of those three were fantasy and one was science fiction.

Short Synopsis: Book two in the Magistarium series. To learn more read my review of book one here.

Thoughts: For some reason the plot twist this series centers around is one I can’t seem to get enough of. This book was a lot of fun.

Rating:

 4 blue jays

Short Synopsis: When her underground home is destroyed Eva Nine finds herself surrounded by creatures she hadn’t even known existed.

Thoughts: Read this book thinking it would make a nice comparison title for the writing project I’m working on this November. I was right. The artwork is also stunning.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Short Synopsis: Fifth book in the Mistborn series, and second book in the Alloy Era of Mistborn. Read my review of the first book of the original trilogy, Mistborn: The Final Empire, here to learn more about Mistborn.

Thoughts: I liked Alloy of Law, but not nearly as much as the original trilogy. I think part of that had to do with the stakes being so much lower. In this book the stakes were raised, and I was much more invested in the story from the beginning onward.

Rating: 

five blue jays

Short Synopsis: When Magnus Chase dies on his sixteenth birthday he discovers his life is far from over.

Thoughts: This book was a lot of fun, but I wasn’t completely blown away.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Writing

I’m now finished with my rewrite of the first third of my high fantasy work in progress. Part one ended up being exactly 21,461 words long. My target for part one was 20,000 words, and I almost never go over my target length even though I often want to so this is great.

I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month for November and (as it is November while I am writing this post) am working on a middle grade sci-fi project about a twelve-year-old girl who thinks she is a robot.

Blogging

Yes, I am well aware that I am still terribly behind on my tags. I really do appreciate it when people tag me, it’s just hard to find the motivation to write up tag posts sometimes. I’m also terribly behind on my reviews as well. Hopefully I’ll get around to posting more in the next few months.

My favorite Books of 2014

The books I’ve read in 2014:

The Iron KnightThe Iron QueenFangirlThe Iron DaughterThe Iron KingGrave MercyOut of the Silent PlanetA World Without PrincesThe Iron TrialAbhorsenLiraelEverfound1984Ruby RedSilver ShadowsFinnikin of the RockUndividedThe Blood of OlympusIllusions of FateEverwildNaked Economics: Undressing the Dismal ScienceAfterworldsThe Infinite SeaThe Indigo SpellEverlostHeir of FireIf I StayThe Fiery HeartThe Revenge of SevenStarglassThe Poisonwood BibleThe Golden LilyHow to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the LinesBloodlinesLast SacrificeSpirit BoundOpalBlood PromiseOnyxThe Kiss of DeceptionSinnerShadow KissWhat's Left of MeClosed HeartsEona: The Last DragoneyeThe School for Good and EvilPoison StudyLament: The Faerie Queen's DeceptionUnhingedSplinteredCaptivateCity of Heavenly FireThe OneThe Maze RunnerObsidianOpen MindsSteelheartIllusionThe Great GatsbyThe Bone SeasonRuinsFrostbiteInfiniteThese Broken StarsIgnite MeAlienatedCressWorld AfterAngelfallPhoenix OvertureScarletCinderThe DivinersSabrielInvisibilityReal Mermaids Don't Need High Heels

In 2014, I read a total of 77 books, all of which are pictured above, and I ended the year currently reading three: The Winner’s Curse, Pride and Prejudice, and The Fire in Fiction.
 The Winner's Curse by Marie RutkoskiPride and Prejudice by Jane AustenThe Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass
Of these I will be choosing my 10 favorite books and series I read in 2014. Before I continue I would like to point out that just because a book I read didn’t make this list doesn’t nessissarily mean I did not like it, or I don’t think the book is worthy of the praise it is given. For me how much I enjoy a book has a great deal to do with timing. I need to be in the mood for it, and I realize that this list is heavily influenced by this fact.
 City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6)
10. City Of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments book 6) by Cassandra Clare
This book made the list not so much because of it’s content, but because of the circumstances under which I read it, and the length of time which I have been reading this series. I read around a fourth of this over 700 page book while in the middle of a lock down that lasted the entire school day, and an additional roughly two hours after school ended.
Without this book I would have been bored out of my mind, focusing on the fact that there was no way to access a bathroom, and pacing back and forth in the confines of our small classroom complaining about how much I never wanted to see the room again. Instead this book inspired me to write a middle grade story about faeries, quite a bit of which was planned during this time period, along with other stories planned but not yet written inspired by the event itself.
What kept this book from being higher on my list is that I felt some of the content setting the stage for the next series in the Shadow hunter Chronicles was unnecessary, and I feel that the characters’ personalities weren’t entirely constant with previous books in the series.
Vampire Academy (Vampire Ac...Frostbite (Vampire Academy,...Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academ...Spirit Bound (Vampire Acade...Last Sacrifice (Vampire Aca...
9. The Vampire Academy Series by Rachelle Mead
 I have put off reading this series for years. Back when I was 12 I was a fan of Twilight, but have made an effort to avoid books Vampire related ever sense, especially those with the word “Vampire” is in the title. I like this series for its suspense. Once I start reading I can’t seem to put these books down. These books made it extremely difficult to stop in the middle of a series to finish my summer reading.
Poison Study (Study, #1)
8. Poison Study by Maria V. Snider
This book was fast paced and engaging. It reminded me a lot of the Throne of Glass series which I also enjoy quite a bit. What kept it from being at the very top of this list is that I’m not sure I want to continue. The other books in the series don’t seem to have very good reviews. If anyone has read the other books in this series I would appreciate them leaving their opinion in the comments below.
SplinteredUnhinged (Splintered, #2)
7. Books one and two of the Splintered Series by A.G. Howard
I really enjoyed this retelling/reimagining of Alice in Wonderland. I had a hard time getting into book one, but once I got engaged in the story I absolutely loved it. This version of Wonderland was well thought out, and the small details helped make the world feel real to me. My one complaint is the love triangle.
Sabriel (The Old Kingdom Trilogy, #1)Lirael (Abhorsen, #2)Abhorsen
6. The Old Kingdom/Abhorsen Original trilogy by Garth Nix
I have been a fan of Garth Nix since I was about 11-years-old when I read his Keys to the Kingdom series. I often struggle to get into his books, but I love the world building which is what keeps me coming back to read more of his novels.
My favorite book in this series is book two, and I’m not sure that it’s necessary to read book one first although it would be helpful. A prequel to the trilogy was recently released, but I’m not sure if I will read it as it seems to be getting mixed reviews.
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)World After
5. Angelfall books one and two by Susan Ee
I read book one in a single day on a school night. This almost never happens because it usually takes around 50 pages or so for a book to truly engage me. Also, if it happened all the time I would never get any sleep and would have terrible grades.
My favorite of the two was AngelfallWorld After was still very good, but I liked the first book much more.  My only major complaint about this series is the cannibalism as I feel it is unnecessary, and a distraction from the overall plot.
Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)
4. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
This is the first Brandon Sanderson book I’ve read, and even though superheros aren’t something I typically enjoy, I loved the world-building in this book. I already own the box set of the first three Mistborn books. If I weren’t so intimidated by their length I would have started them long ago. I want to read the Mistborn books when I have a lot of time set aside to read uninterrupted which is unlikely to happen until next summer. The sequel comes out in a few days on January sixth, and I can’t wait to read it.
EverlostEverwildEverfound (Skinjacker, #3)
3. The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman
Neal Shusterman is one of my favorite authors. I love the way his world-building is so thought out, and how his books make me think, but at the same time how I never feel as if he is trying to manipulate the reader into thinking a certain way. The first book in the Unwind Dystology will always be my favorite, but this series and Bruiser are really good too. I can’t wait to read more of his books.
This series falls somewhere between middle grade and young adult whereas I feel Unwind is most definitely young adult rather than being able to fit into either category.
CinderScarletCress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)
2. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
My favorite book out of the three is Cress, but I enjoyed all three of the books that have been released so far. Most series seem to have an amazing first book, but then the rest of the series ends up being either just okay or downright terrible. Not so with this series.
I love the way this series incorporates familiar fairy-tales, but is still it’s own original story. The interaction between characters is great, and I love the way each book introduces a new story arc while still incorporating the old ones. I theorize this is how the series succeeded while others have failed to keep my interest after the first book: by having each new novel focus on a new character but still having old characters narrate. The symbolism from the fairy-tales is another one of my favorite aspects of this series.
I have some problems with the believability of the world building in this series, but am willing to overlook this because everything else about it is amazing.
Undivided (Unwind, #4)
1. Undivided (Unwind Dystology book 4) by Neal Shusterman
This is the best conclusion to a series I have read in a long time. It’s also one of the only books to have actually made me cry. Books often make me teary-eyed, but this is one of the only ones that has made me sob. I wasn’t prepared to like this book as much as I did since book three was my least favorite book in the series, but it’s a tie between this book and the first as to which I love more.
I’ve been reading this series since my freshmen year of high school, and it’s hard to believe it is finally over. At the same time, I can’t wait to read more of Neal Shusterman’s books. His ability to shuffle between many characters and still give each a unique voice and personality is amazing, the world building in all of his books I’ve read has been well thought out, and I said this already, but I love the way his books make me think.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare Review: 4 Stars

20578940Title: The Iron Trial

Authors: Holly Black, Cassandra Clare

Publication date: September 9, 2014

Genre: Middle Grade Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: Most children will do anything to get into magic school. Not twelve-year-old Call, he wants to fail. Call grew up being told mages and magic were evil and the cause of his mother’s death. The last thing Call wants to hear is that he has an affinity for magic. Call does everything in his power to fail the Iron Trial, the test to get into magic trial, and he does. Call has the lowest score in the Trial’s history.

When it is determined Call failed on purpose he is forced to go to magic school anyway. There Call will discover the truth about his past. The real reason his mother was found dead next to a message that read “kill the child” all those years before.

Review: I have been reading many classics lately and am planning to start more soon, but I really needed to read something light and fun before reading another. This book was what I was looking for.

Most middle grade novels I read I find predictable, but not so with this book. I had always thought a somewhat predictable plot was necessary for middle grade novels so I am interested to learn more about how this book was received by its intended audience.

Call is a bit of an antihero. This is something I haven’t seen before in the middle grade novels I’ve read. Call still has many redeeming qualities the reader can sympathize with including his loyalty to his friends, and love of animals, especially one animal in particular. I don’t have entirely positive comments about Call. Sometimes his decisions seemed illogical as though he was acting purely to move the plot further, but for the most part this was something I was able to overlook.

I feel that in most middle grade novels Call’s friend Aaron would be the main character. His personalty and back story as an orphan is more like what I have come to expect from a middle grade protagonist.

I have heard a lot of comparisons between this book and Harry Potter, and throughout the book I was reminded of that series, but I feel J. K. Rowling’s world building was more complex and thought out than the world building in this book. While I do feel that this book was inspired by Harry Potter it was different enough that I don’t feel there are any plagiarism issues.

What readers should know: Most of the violence is confined to the prologue, and even there the story starts after the battle was fought and all the reader sees is what remains afterwards. One secondary character does die, but this death isn’t extremely detailed or emotionally impactful.

Rating: I give this book 4 out of 5 for an interesting plot twist and an entertaining story. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a light, quick read who doesn’t mind the resemblance to Harry Potter.

4 blue jays