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.

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Title: Morning Star (Red Rising #3) Author: Pierce Brown Published: Febuary 9, 2016 Genre: Adult Science Fiction Note: Because I find it impossible to write a synopsis of this book it is being left out of this review. I’ve kept this review as … Continue reading

10 Most Anticipated 2016 Book Releases

I’m anticipating far more books than will make it on this list, but these are the ten I am most looking forward to. This list is in order of my very most anticipated of the ten to least anticipated of the ten. Though if the book has made this list at all it still means that I really want to read it.

Before I begin I would like to give an honorable mention to book three in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. If this book is somehow released this year than it is absolutely my most anticipated.

Morning Star (Red Rising Trilogy, #3)

1. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Release Date: Febuary 9, 2016

After the end of the second book, Golden Son, I am eagerly awaiting the third book in the Red Rising trilogy.

The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn, #6)

2. The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6/Alloy Era #3) by Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: January 26, 2016

Few who follow this blog are likely to be surprised in my choice of a Brandon Sanderson novel. Even if Stormlight #3 does not release this year I’ll still be satisfied by a combination of this book and Calamity.

Flamecaster (Shattered Realms, #1)

3. Flamecaster (Shattered Realms #1)

Release Date: April 5, 2016

This is the spin-off series of Seven Realms taking place a number of years later. I really enjoyed the world of Seven Realms, and the way the series ended left a few left ends in terms of this fictional world as a whole so I am curious to see what has changed in the time between the two series.

4. The Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: September 22, 2016

I really enjoyed the first book in Six of Crows, and I’m curious about the direction the second book will take.

A Gathering of Shadows  (A Darker Shade of Magic, #2)

5. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

Release Date: February 23, 2016

The first book was addictive and fun. I’m curious to see which direction the second book takes.

6. Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Release Date: Fall 2016

I really enjoyed the first book, and hope that it means more YA novels set in space will gain popularity in the future as I would like to read more of them. I’m also very curious to see the direction the second book takes.

Beyond the Red

7. Beyond The Red by Ava Jae

Release Date: March 1, 2016

I follow this author’s blog, and find the writing advice she gives to be very useful. The setting of an alien planet in a YA novel also interests me greatly.

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Not the final cover.

8. Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Release Date: September 27, 2016

I really enjoy this author’s writing style, and suspect that this will have continued to grow in her newest series. This book sounds like it has the potential to be very good.

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

9. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Release Date: February 16, 2016

The summary of this book sounds very interesting to me. Time travel interests me, and I figured this list needed more novels from debut authors.

The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, #1)

10. The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Rick Riordan’s books always have a tendency to put me in a very good mood. It was hard to choose the final book in this list, but in the end I chose this one for that reason.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown Five Stars

18966819Title: Golden Son (Red Rising #2)

*Note: This is a review of the second book in a series. If you have not read the first book I suggest reading my review of Red Rising instead to avoid spoilers.

This review contains major spoilers for Red Rising, but not for Golden Son. 

Author: Pierce Brown

Publication date: January 6, 2015

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: The mines of Mars are an unforgiving place. There the “Reds” labor believing their work is critical to both humanity’s survival and the process of making Mars habitable. Never realizing the Martian surface was settled centuries ago and humanity’s population has never been higher. This was Darrow’s childhood.

After successfully infiltrating the “Gold” upper class Darrow might just have the chance to spark the revolution to help free his people. Darrow’s plan to destroy the upper class from within is challenged more and more each day. Not just by Darrow’s enemies who long for his death, but by Gold friends who make him question his hatred of the upper class as well. It’s up to Darrow to decide whether he is after retribution or freedom from oppression.

Review: Resuming four years after Red Rising started, Golden takes the conflict and world building in this series to a new level. The first book took place entirely on Mars, but most of this one takes place primarily in outer space. The change in setting gave me an idea of the true scope of this society that I lacked in Red Rising.  It also made the book feel less like a dystopian and more like a space opera even as the story-line focused more on the rebellion. I’m not the biggest fan of dystopian novels at the moment so I appreciated the new direction.

Darrow’s character development takes an interesting turn in this book. In Red Rising Darrow consistently did some pretty remarkable things and the only time he really failed at anything was his dual with Cassius. Golden Son begins with Darrow failing epically. The way Darrow dealt with and eventually learns from his defeat adds interesting depth to his character arc.

Time jumps aren’t something I usually enjoy in fiction, but I understand why this one was necessary. Darrow’s life training with a razor and learning to command space ships wasn’t really relevant to the rebellion and everything Darrow is trying to accomplish. In an interview Pierce Brown stated that the reason for the time jump had to do with the fact that the story was written in first person and the time jump was to get to the next time period in which Darrow could narrate. While many books have the narrators learn skills in ridiculously short periods of time in order to avoid these time jumps I’m inclined to agree with the author here and say this one was for the best.

I really appreciate how well developed side characters in this series are. It’s very clear most, if not all of them each has his or her own motivations, goals, and schemes. I especially liked how the characters who learned Darrow’s true identity in this book each reacted very differently. So many books brush over reveal scenes, and have characters accept one another’s huge secrets without  much skepticism or negative consequences. There isn’t much to say on this topic without getting into major spoilers, but let’s just say Golden Son had some realistic character reactions in this regard.

Golden Son is well paced. I started this one directly after finishing Red Rising and had a lot of trouble putting it down to do things between sittings. This is especially true of the last hundred pages or so which were particularly difficult to put down.

What readers should know: The first book was somewhere on the hazy edge of young adult, adult, and new adult where I just couldn’t decide on an intended audience. In Golden Son Darrow is 20 and though this book probably has less potentially inappropriate content than the first book it is most definitely not young adult anymore. That said, if a person was able to handle the content in the first book they should be able to handle this one.

Rating: This book resolved the minor problems I had with Red Rising and earned a five out of five rating for its excellent side characters, good pacing, and great world building. If you’ve read Red Rising I highly recommend continuing with the series.

five blue jays

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

Red Rising by Pierce Brown 4 Stars

15839976Title: Red Rising

Author: Pierce Brown

Publication date: January 28, 2014

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Synopsis: Darrow spends his days on Mars mining the minerals needed to terraform the planet’s surface. He could care less about the fact that he is a member of the lowest “caste”, oppressed by the Society. Darrow is too busy trying to provide for his wife and extended family. Darrow knows the price of rebellion. He attended his father’s execution at five years old.

Darrow’s outlook on rebellion changes when another of Darrow’s loved one is killed by the society. Her dying wish: break the chains. Now Darrow will stop at nothing to make her dream a reality. Even if it means infiltrating the Gold, upper-class, society and pretending to be one of his enemies.

Review: Mars is one of my favorite settings. It’s where I set the first novel length manuscript I completed, and I’ve always had a fascination with the planet. So of course, when I saw a book set on Mars with generally good reviews I wanted to read it.

The first fourth or so of this book is very different from the latter three fourths. Based on reading many reviews, what seems to make or break the reading experience is whether the reader likes the path the story takes in the later portion. For me both portions worked. Although the “teenagers in an arena fighting for their lives” and “boarding school” tropes that showed up in the second half have been overdone in fiction as of late Brown did a decent job in portraying it in an exciting way.

This book clearly draws inspiration from many others. Sometimes this bothers me about books, but for some reason it didn’t in this case. It likely has something to do with the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever before read ideas put together in this particular way before.

The ideas are drawn from so many vastly different places I have trouble categorizing it. The book is set on Mars, but has a very dystopian feel at times. At others it has a mythological fantasy feel with all because the houses at the school Darrow attends are named after Roman gods or even Lord of the Flies.

There is also the question of whether or not it is young adult, new adult, or adult. Darrow starts the book at 16, but within it two years pass, and I know for a fact the next book has a time jump in between and the story restarts with Darrow at age 20. This book is also very realistic in the horrors of the totalitarian regime and the actions of the characters who live within it. Many characters bring out the worst in themselves in this novel.

While I wanted to see more of some world-building aspects others felt overly simplified. I can think of other books off the top of my head that use a color classification system to differentiate between classes of people. Then again, I’ve been reading an excessive number of Brandon Sanderson books lately and have come to expect excellent world-building.

Something I would have liked to see more of is the world building, specifically how living on Mars affected the characters. We’re not shown much of the Martian Civilization, and the rebels themselves. The rebel organization was interesting, but like so many other dystopian novels I’ve read it was skimmed over in this novel, but I’m hopeful more of the rebels will be seen in future books as the story expands in scale.

What readers should know: This book features a significant amount of swearing, mentions of cannibalism, mentions of sex, prostitution murders, executions, and some side characters are raped. The cannibalism, prostitution, and rape do not occur while the main character is present, but it’s clear what is happening. Darrow is present for and sometimes even participates in murders and executions. The sex scenes are not detailed, and the book puts little emphasis on romance.

Rating: I flew through this book and really enjoyed it overall, but would have liked the later portion to be more in depth details about the rebels and the world so I’ve given it a four out of five.

4 blue jays