Top Ten Novel Recommendations for Eclipse Watchers

Ten novels to help people get in the mood for the August 21st Eclipse. Continue reading

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February 2016 Wrap-Up

book signing books

Books I got signed at the book signing I went to this month. Note: the ARC in the image was acquired indirectly from someone who had received it from BEA, but gifted it to me when she learned about the signing. 

I read significantly less in February than I have in the last few months, but I’m okay with that. February was a much busier month for me, and I still managed to read some great books. I also managed to go to a book signing where I met Melissa Landers, Carey Corp, and Lorie Langdon. I rarely get a chance to go to book signings, so that was exciting.

Reading

25551332Short Synopsis: An anthology of short stories set in the Unwind universe.

Thoughts: Some of these stories were really good, but others I didn’t really care for. For this reason, I’m not going to give it a rating, but left me wanting more books set in this world.

 

 

 

 

 

18966806Short Synopsis: Final book in the red rising trilogy.

Thoughts: Of the books I read in February this was my favorite. See my full review here.

Rating: five blue jays

15704486Short Synopsis: Final book in Brandon Sanderson’s YA trilogy about superheros.

Thoughts: This was the series that introduced me to Brandon Sanderson’s work, and I am very grateful for that. All the same, I think the second book in this series was the best. The pacing at the end of this book felt very rushed though as a whole this was still a good, fun read.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

20764879Short Synopsis: Second book in a series about traveling between parallel world versions of London.

Thoughts: This was quite addictive, and I read it in an extremely short period of time. The character development was also great.

That said, I felt like the plot didn’t develop much in this book. I was hoping to learn a lot more about a certain parallel world than I got to. Hopefully more will be explained in the sequel.

Rating: 4 blue jays

7932356Short Synopsis: A group of rabbits struggle to survive surrounded by enemies who take the form of everything from foxes, to humans, to rabbits themselves.

Thoughts: Listened to this one in audio book format. My favorite part was the world building surrounding the rabbit’s culture, but I also felt like the world building sometimes went to far and took away from the story. This book probably could have been much shorter, but it was still very interesting to read from rabbits’ point of views.

Rating: 4 blue jays

Blogging

I didn’t blog much in February as what little free time I had went to reading new releases, but I did post two reviews.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 4.5 Stars

Morning Star by Pierce Brown 5 Stars

Writing

I finally started writing again in February. It went pretty slowly, but I did manage to make it past the 25,000 word mark in the story I’m rewriting. This month I’m participating in the twitter challenge #MarWritingChallenge. The official website for which is writingchallenge.org. The goal of which is to write at least 500 words every day in March. I apologize to my twitter followers about the sudden increase in writing tweets, but it’s been really motivating.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 4.5 Stars

IlumimiaeTitle: Illuminae

Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Published: October 20, 2015

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Synopsis: Just hours after their recent break-up, exes Kady and Ezra find their home planet in the middle of a war between intergalactic corporations. In the evacuation the two find themselves on separate space ships.

If they want to survive Kady, Ezra, and the other refugees need to reach the nearest jump station, through which they can reach a more densely inhabited region of space, before those who invaded their planet catches up with the refugees.

Review: At first I had a hard time getting into this book. Adjusting to the formatting was a bit of a challenge, and months at a time passed in a matter of pages.

When I was on page 366 of 599 I noted in a Goodreads update:
“At first I was having trouble getting used to the constantly changing formatting, it can be jarring at times, but now I’m really starting to get into the story and the pace has really sped up.
— Dec 15, 2015 07:42AM”

However, I think the pacing picked up for me at an earlier point than I noted in that update. It was likely around page 250 or so. With the formatting the way the novel built to a climax was necessary to give the reader time to adjust to the formatting before everything started happening at once.

For those who think that this book is long with its length of nearly 600 pages I would like to remind them of the formatting. Had this book been written in the standard form of a novel there would likely have been much shorter.

I had a slight problem with some of the times technology was mentioned in this book. The characters had cars, a subway system, and tablets. It seemed as if at times the only technology that had progressed were weaponry  and spaceships that allowed for long distance space travel.

Considering that this book is supposed to take place in 2575, or over five hundred years in the future, this threw me out of the story a little. This is, however, a minor concern. Due to the way the story was narrated these objects were not described in detail and may have born little resemblance to their 2016 equivalents.

As this story takes place almost entirely on space ships in an isolated part of this fictional future, the reader isn’t told as much about the way the government functions  and other habitable planets. I think this was a good choice on the part of the authors as it allows the reader to become slowly immersed in the world-building as opposed to having the need to learn everything all at once. I hope to see more world building in the sequel.

I ended up reading this book twice. Once in physical form and then again in audiobook format not long after. This is unusual for me.

What Readers Should Know: This book contains many character deaths and zombie like individuals. All of the cursing in the physical version of the book is censored, but in the audio book the first and last letters of most of the curse words is not censored making it easy to tell what all of the censored words are.

Rating: This book started out a little hard to get into, but the second half made up for this.

4.5 blue jays

December 2015 Wrap-Up

December was a great reading month. I read a total of nine books a few of which were mentioned in my favorite books of 2015 post.

The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire, #1)Short Synopsis: Five young dragons prophesied to end a war must work together to escape from those who raised them, and find there way in the world.

Thoughts: This is my favorite middle grade fantasy novel of 2015. It used several common tropes of the genre, but I really enjoyed that the dragons were portrayed as dragons as opposed to humans who looked like dragons.

This is something hard to write properly while still making the readers sympathetic to the characters as they are so different from each other.

Full length review to come.

Rating: 4.5 blue jays

Hunted (Spirit Animals, #2)Short Synopsis: The second book in a series in which four children bond with ancient creatures of legend and must save the world from destruction.

Thoughts: This book dragged a little for me though I still enjoyed it. I still plan to read the next one. It was interesting to see the slight stylistic changes caused by this book having a different writer than the first.

Rating: 3 blue jays

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Short Synopsis: A crew of six thieves are hired to pull off the heist that could save the world.

Thoughts: It was a very close call, but in the end I decided to name this book as my favorite young adult fantasy novel of 2015. For my full thoughts, read my review.

Rating: 4.5 blue jays

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)Short Synopsis: The final book in a series of interconnected fairy tale retellings taking place in the future.

Thoughts: I definitely liked this book, but I feel very conflicted as to how much I liked it. Full length series review of the Lunar Chronicles to come.

Rating: 4 blue jays

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Short Synopsis: After their planet is caught in the middle of a war between intergalactic corporations Kady and Ezra find themselves refugees trying to flee to an inhabited part of the galaxy before the corporation that invaded their planet catches them.

Thoughts: I had some trouble getting into this book at first due to its unique formatting. I felt a little detached from the characters. However, as the book progressed I adjusted and the pacing picked up. I ended up reading this book twice this month.

The first time in physical form and the second time as an audiobook. I rarely reread books so soon after finishing. I decided to name this book my favorite young adult science fiction book of 2015.

Full review to come.

Rating:

4.5 blue jays

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)Short Synopsis: Young magician finds his way in the world.

Thoughts: I know so many people who love this book, and I really wanted too as well. Sadly, I think the hype made me anticipate too much. I still liked this book, but what kept me from loving it was a combination of what I felt to be the lack of a satisfying climax and the ease at which everything seemed to come to Kvothe.

Rating: 3.5 blue jays

26521836Short Synopsis: Second book in the Diviners series.

Thoughts: I listened to this one on audiobook, and the narrator did a good job, but be warned, I had the first few lines of the music box song stuck in my head for around three days.

Enjoyed this sequel and seeing all of the new and old characters again. The historical references were well worked into the plot. I like how different this book is from the other fantasy novels I’ve been reading.

Rating: 4 blue jays

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry AugustShort Synopsis: Every time Harry August dies his life starts over again exactly how it began. One time as Harry is dyeing someone shows up at his bedside to inform him that the end of the world is coming and he needs to stop it.

Thoughts: I had a slight issue with this book’s structure and the pacing, but other than that I really enjoyed it. It was so thought provoking, and the world building was extremely well done.

If I write a full review I may end up giving it a higher rating than I do now because I can’t seem to stop thinking about this book, and that makes me want to rate it higher than I did initially.

Rating: 4 blue jays

UprootedShort Synopsis: One girl is chosen to live with a “dragon” in his castle for 10 years.

Thoughts: Really enjoyed this twist on the typical fairy tale, but I had some trouble following what was happening at times.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Favorite Books of 2015

I was planning to make a top ten list, but was having too much trouble narrowing it down in a way that didn’t make just about every book fall into a particular category written by a particular author. Instead I will be listing my favorite in each category.

Note that this is a list of favorite books I read in 2015. Not all were published in 2015.

Young Adult Fantasy

23437156

Picking a book for this category was hard. It was a close call between this book and several others especially the Seven Realms series and later too books in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

In the end I chose Six of Crows because it has so many different elements that were well executed as discussed in my review.

Adult Fantasy

17332218

Words of Radiance is the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series which is part of the Cosmere, which is the larger fictional universe in which Sanderson’s adult fantasy novels take place.

I read just about all of Sanderson’s currently published Cosmere works this year, and I am now a huge fan. It was hard to chose only one, but this is my favorite Cosmere book so far.

I would not, however, recommend readers start with Words of Radiance, not just because its the second book in a series, but also because it’s hard to get through books in the Stormlight Archive for readers not used to long books. Starting with Mistborn: The Final Empire or Warbreaker might make Sanderson’s work easier to get into.

I have not yet reviewed Words of Radiance, but I have reviewed the first book, The Way of Kings.

Middle Grade Fantasy

13228487

I have always loved books about dragons, and look for novels with nonhuman narrators. For these reasons, this book written from the perspective of a young dragon was almost exactly what I was looking for.

If I had read this book while I was part of the intended age group it would probably have become one of my favorite books ever. As it was, I still enjoyed it enough to make it my favorite for this category, and I plan to continue with this series.

Young Adult Sci-Fi

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Choosing a favorite for this category was hard. In the end I chose Illuminae in spite of the fact that I had a little trouble getting used to the formatting at the beginning because the second half makes up for the first. I have not yet written a review, but hope to soon.

Adult Sci-Fi

18966819

Really enjoyed this book. Have read it around three times now. Golden Son is the second book in the Red Rising Trilogy. I have reviewed both Golden Son and Red Rising in which I express my enjoyment.

Middle Grade Sci-Fi

13376

This book is in the hazy area between YA and MG, but for the purpose of this list I will consider it middle grade. This book was very thought provoking, and I think it would be a great novel for discussion in a book club or classroom. It’s also the only book I’ve read set in Mexico, even if it is called something else in this novel.

Contemporary

18075234

This book is unlike anything else I’ve read. So different that I haven’t been able to compose my thoughts into a review. It’s hard to adjust to the disjointed way the story is told at first, but once I adjusted this book was heartbreaking and thought provoking.

Classic

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I’ll admit that I don’t enjoy classics as much as some people seem to, but I really enjoyed reading and learning about the symbolism involved in this one. The fact that a large canvas painting/picture of myself I’d forgotten about arrived soon after I’d finished was a coincidence that finalized making this one of my favorite classics.

Non-Fiction

6493208

This book was shocking for me because I had no idea any of what it discussed was taking place in the medical community. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks explores the ethical questions of who owns body parts after they have been removed for medical reasons though the true story of Henrietta Lacks and her decedents.