August, September, and October Wrap-up

August, September, and October Wrap-up
This image is derivative of “Red-blue sunset” By  Adam Ziaja  CC BY 3.0.

These past few months were eventful to say the least. So eventful that I am wrapping-up my reading experience for three months in one post. Seriously though, there is a lot to cover.

I read some books that disappointed, others I loved, went to two author events, and finished the first draft of a novel.

Bluejay Feather

Reading

I read eight books in August, September, and October.

30253091

Title

Shadowcaster (Shattered Realms #2)

Short Synopsis

A princess proving her worth. A captain on a dangerous assignment. A boy with enchanting music.

Thoughts

I was hoping to enjoy this book as much as the books in the original series, but like the previous book, the characters didn’t seem as memorable, and the story didn’t seem as compelling as the Seven Realms series.

 

Rating

3 blue jays

19105727

Title

Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis Trilogy #2)

Short Synopsis

Akin is the first human-alien composite male, but looks human. This makes Akin a subject of interest to the sterile human survivors of the apocalypse.

Akin must act human enough to avoid their wrath, while remembering his true nature.

Thoughts

I need to read more of Octavia E. Butler’s works. I’ve really enjoyed the two I’ve read so far and can’t wait for the others.

My main complaint is that this was too short, but that has more to do with the style of writing that was popular at the time it was written than the author. Still thought provoking even though it was published about 30 years ago.

Rating

4.5 blue jays

30063453

Title

Amid Stars and Darkness

Short Synopsis

After being kidnapped by an alien, Delaney must impersonate an alien princess or else the entire human race will be enslaved.

Thoughts

I was waiting in a long line at the library and picked this up on impulse as I walked by. I’m not sure I would have read it otherwise.

It’s too romance heavy for my taste, and I prefer more science in my science fiction, but it was otherwise a light, fun read.

If you’re looking for a book you can’t put down, this might be for you.

Rating

3 blue jays

9539

1166599

Titles

The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time #4), The Gathering Storm (The Wheel of Time #12)

Short Synopsis

Books four and twelve of the Wheel of Time series.

Thoughts

Some of you are probably wondering if I indeed skipped from book four to book twelve in this series. The answer is that, yes, I did. At the risk of annoying some of the Wheel of Time fans, I must admit my motive for reading this series lies in the fact that Brandon Sanderson wrote the last few, and I want to read all his books.

I like the other Wheel of Time books, especially book four but not enough to read the eight 1,000 page long books in between books four and twelve.

Rating

4 blue jays
33198183

Title

Darkness of Dragons (Wings of Fire #10)

Short Synopsis

The final book in the second arc of the Wings of Fire series.

Thoughts

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, it’s probably no secret that Wings of Fire was one of my favorite middle grade series. To some extent it still is. However, this book is probably one of my least favorite in the series, though my least favorite overall would have to be book nine.

It came across as a little anticlimactic to me, and I wasn’t a fan of the characters’ resolution of the conflict that’s been building in the last few books. Still, it was a fun read.

Rating

3 blue jays

22295304

Title

Shadowshaper (Shadowshaper #1)

Short Synopsis

Sierra must uncover the mystery of her family’s magical heritage before anyone else dies for it.

Thoughts

I wanted to love this book so much. The atmosphere is great. Older seems to have captured an otherwise realistic portrayal of Brooklyn with some magic thrown in.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t capture my attention enough for me to give it a higher rating.

That said, if you’re looking for a detailed, diverse portrayal of Brooklyn this may be the book for you.

Rating

3 blue jays

13612968

Title

The Silver Mask (Magisterium #4)

Short Synopsis

Fourth book in the Magisterium series.

Thoughts

Oh, look, the only book I read in October. *Hides in shame.* If this isn’t an indicator of how busy I’ve been I don’t know what is.

There is something about this series that makes me always come back to it even though there are some less than amazing elements to it. I think it’s the premise. I love “hero destined for evil” stories so much.

Rating

4 blue jays

 Author Events

In the past three months I went to events for Leigh Bardugo and R.L. Stine. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Bardugo twice before, but I don’t see how I can go to too many signing events when one of my favorite authors is involved.

Even after attending her events in the past, I still learned something interesting about Bardugo’s writing style. She uses a modified version of the beat structure outlined for scripts in the book Save the Cat. She outlines most of the beats mentioned in the book, but skips a couple because she’s never sat down and read the book to find out what the others were.

Hey, when it comes to writing, the right way to write is the way that works.

R.L. Stine was a first for me. My biggest takeaways from his event were that sometimes life takes us in unexpected directions, that one of the best ways to succeed is to be open to these directions, and that ideas come from unexpected places.

If you would like to see a full post about these events, leave a comment to let me know.

Writing

Total Words Written in August
The words I wrote in August. Graph generated with NaNoWriMo goal tracker.

My months have been so distinct from one another in terms of writing progress that it almost seems wrong to sum it all up in one post like this.

August was a great writing month. During the first half of the month, I averaged around 5,000 words per day. My first draft ended up being 70,000 words. This makes it the longest first draft I’ve ever written, though still shorter than the longest thing I’ve written (90,000 words).

I took a break after finishing my first draft midway through the month, intending to get back to my writing in September.

I started some short stories in September, but the progress I made was interrupted due the disruption Hurricane Irma made to my schedule. I’ve put those short stories on hold for now.

Little writing progress was made in October until the end of the month when I began reading through the draft I finished in August.

Bluejay Feather

Have you read any of these books? If you could meet any author who would you choose? How do you go about revising your first drafts? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

February and March 2017 Wrap-up

Reading

Between February and March, I read six books, a novella, and an anthology.

20518872

Title

The Three Body Problem

Short Synopsis

Science fiction novel featuring China’s cultural revolution, a high tech video game, and aliens.

Thoughts

Slower paced than I usually like, but I was intrigued enough to keep reading. It’s hard to see how all the different elements connect at first, but they come together by the end.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

27833670Title

Dark Matter

Short Synopsis

Man is abducted and wakes-up to discover everything in his life has changed.

Thoughts

Really enjoyed this, but there were some elements of the world-building that confused me and kept me from rating it higher.

Rating

4 blue jays

13364300

Title

Vortex (Tempest #2)

Short Synopsis

Sequel to Tempest.

Thoughts

I was in the mood for a book about time travel and read the first book a long time ago.

This book was fun, but some parts made me roll my eyes.

Rating

3 blue jays

30016

Title

The Naked Sun (Robot #2)

Short Synopsis

Classic science fiction novel in which Elijah Baley must travel to a distant world to solve a murder mystery.

Thoughts

I’d heard a lot about I, Robot before, but never knew the author had written a series set in the same universe. Even though this book is a product of its time, I enjoyed it much more than I expected.

Rating

4.5 blue jays

20938681

Title

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Short Synopsis

Jonathan is a special seagull none of the other seagulls can understand.

Thoughts

Listened to this novella on a long road trip because one of my traveling companions wanted to. There were aspects I enjoyed, but it also falls pray to some tropes I’m not a fan of.

Rating

3 blue jays

41811

Title

The Caves of Steel (Robot #1)

Short Synopsis

Elijah Baley is recruited to solve the mystery behind the murder of an individual visiting Earth from another world.

Thoughts

Yes, I read these books out of order. I’m terrible, but these aren’t really books that need to be read in order. They still make sense if the second book is read first.

I enjoyed this book about as much as the second.

Rating

4.5 blue jays

28595941

Title

Arcanum Unbounded

Short Synopsis

A collection of Brandon Sanderson’s short fiction set in the Cosmere universe.

Thoughts

Short stories/novellas in this collection would get a rating between 3/5 and 5/5 if rated on an individual level. Works that would get a 5/5 or a 4.5/5 include: The Emperor’s SoulMistborn: Secret History, and Edgedancer.

Rating

4 blue jays

13642

Title

A Wizard of Earthsea

Short Synopsis

A young wizard grows into his powers.

Thoughts

I’ve heard about Ursula K. Le Guin for so long but hadn’t given her work a try. I decided to change that. I liked this book but didn’t love it.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

Writing

I wrote a couple short stories that I’m revising this month. They’re turning out better than expected.

January and February 2017 Wrap-up

I’ve decided these monthly wrap-ups were getting repetative, and so, for the next couple months I’m going to try posting bi-monthly wrap-ups instead.

29550388Title

Talons of Power (Wings of Fire #9)

Thoughts

I liked it, but this is my least favorite book in the series so far. My expectations were high after how much I enjoyed the spin-off novel, Darkstalker. My main issue is with Turtle as a protagonist. Every time I thought he was going to take some initiative it didn’t happen.

Rating

3 blue jays

27904311Title

The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2)

Thoughts

I enjoyed this, but not as much as the first book in the other series Riordan is writing at the moment. I’m curious to see how this series might interact with Rick’s other series in future books.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

9361589Title

The Night Circus

Thoughts

I liked this, but didn’t love it. It is very atmospheric with an interesting magic system, but I felt the pacing was too slow.

Rating

3.5 blue jays

Title

You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay

Thoughts

I read this novella because I was reading a lot about point of view and wanted to read something written in second person (using “you” instead of “I” or “(s)he”). It’s one of the best novellas I’ve ever read. This story has great world building, characterization, and use of this notoriously difficult point of view.

Read it online here: http://uncannymagazine.com/article/youll-surely-drown-stay/

 

Rating

4.5 blue jays

2016 Reading Statistics

I loved making this post last year and seeing everything I read that year in visual form, so I decided to do the same for 2016. This will exclude most of the statistics already listed in Goodreads’ beautiful “My 2016 in Books” feature.

Age Groups

dxpeuca

In both 2016 and 2015 I read more young adult books than any other age groups, but the amount of books I’ve read in other age groups has grown a lot relative to last year.

Genres

fpi2qev

Like last year, the overwhelming majority of books I read were fantasy. I’m somewhat embarrassed that not one of the books I read in 2016 fit into the contemporary category (though one got very close).

Contemporary is far from my favorite genre, but I like to try to read at least a few books from it. Guess this means one of my reading goals for 2017 is to read at least one contemporary novel.

Where Books Take Place

qnebwd9

Like last year, I read more books taking place off of Earth than any one place on it. This year the portion of books seems to have grown enough that a little more than half of the books I read take place on Earth, unlike last year where I read more books taking place in fictional locations/in space than on Earth.

The portion of books I read in places outside of the US has also grown a little, though not by much. Like last year, most of the books taking place in a European setting took place in the UK. So many, I considered making it its own category both times, but ultimately decided against it.

Note that this chart doesn’t comment on the accuracy of how these places were portrayed, only that the book in question had at least one significant scene set in this location. This also means, therefore, that some books fall in multiple categories.

The book with no location is nonfiction.

Conclusions

I didn’t read as much in 2016 as I did the two years before. (I read 63 books in 2016, 73 books in 2015, and 77 books in 2014.) However, I’m okay with that.

I was much busier in 2016 than I was in 2015 and 2014. I wanted to still read a significant amount of books in 2016, but focus on reading what I wanted to read. I knew that otherwise I would never find the motivation to read. I feel I have succeeded in these goals.

Note: Charts made with onlinecharttool.com.

December 2016 Wrap-up

I read four books in December. Three were fiction and one was non-fiction. One was fantasy and two were sci-fi. Two were young adult.

28954189Short Synopsis: Two teenagers must compete for a position neither of them wants: to become a professional killer.

Thoughts: Not my favorite Neal Shusterman book, but still an awesome read.

See my review to learn more.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

234225

Short Synopsis: A duke, his concubine and son are exiled to a desert planet. Chaos ensues.

Thoughts: This one took me a while to get through. There is a lot of world-building that can slow the pace down at times, but the world-building is ultimately the novel’s greatest strength.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

23302838

Short Synopsis: Fifth book in the Abhorsen/Old Kingdom Series.

Thoughts: I read the first three books, but skipped the fourth on account of the negative reviews. Skipping the fourth (a prequel) had no impact on my enjoyment of this novel.

Goodreads claims this is the nineteenth book I’ve read by this author. I suspect the count is closer to seventeen, but it’s still high regardless. Nix’s world-building keeps me coming back.

Also Lirael=awesome. That is all.

Rating: 4 blue jays

180467Short Synopsis: Nonfiction book about how writers can self-edit.

Thoughts: A lot of this is basic and I already knew, but there were some details I needed a refresher on and a few things I hadn’t realized. This book does a great job doing what it set out too, but I’m not going to rate it because I have such a hard time deciding what to rate non-fiction.

October and November Wrap-Up

Sorry for the hiatus everyone, but now I’m back. Since I missed my wrap-up for October this will be a wrap-up for both October and November.

I haven’t had a lot of free time for the past two months, so I only read five books, but five is better than nothing.

12432220

Short Synopsis: Orphan boys compete for the for the chance to impersonate the crown prince.

Thoughts: This book was a lot of fun, and I would have loved it if I’d read it a few years ago. The plot was my favorite part, and I loved the twist towards the end. However, I found the main character annoying at times, and would have liked more variety in the world building from what I’ve read before.

Rating: 3 blue jays27190613

Short Synopsis: If Vlad the Impaler was female.

Thoughts: I’m of two minds about this book. On one hand, I learned a lot about the Ottoman Empire, found the characters well developed, and the plot enjoyable. On the other hand, it feels odd to me when authors write novels about real people and the story felt abrupt. Part of my problem with the ending stems from me believing this book to be a standalone when it isn’t, but I still felt the ending was sudden.

Rating: 4 blue jays

23677341Short Synopsis: Boy is abducted by aliens and told all he needs to do to save the world is push a button, but he isn’t sure he wants to.

Thoughts: This book was not what I expected. There was a lot less sci-fi than I thought there would be, and a lot more contemplating humanity.

That said, I read this book in only a day or two, which is faster than any of the other books I read during this time period, and I recognize awesome character development and an interesting theme when I see them. As a result, I’ve given the book a high rating, in spite of the fact that it had too many contemporary elements for my reading preferences.

Rating: 4 blue jays

27161189Short Synopsis: Final book in a long and drawn out series.

Thoughts: There was only one character in this book I actually cared about, and he is the only reason I kept reading when otherwise this would have been a DNF about three books ago. I would have liked to see more of this side character in the book.

Rating: 

2.5 blue jays

26228034Short Synopsis: Second book in the Broken Earth series.

Thoughts: I loved the first book and was really excited for the sequel. While I did like the first book a little more, I still loved this novel. The world-building is some of the best I’ve seen.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

 

September 2016 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up (1)

I read seven books in September. Of those, five could be considered dystopian. Never thought I’d say that after the dystopian craze died down, though admittedly, the more recent “dystopian” books have a different feel than the ones published during the trend.

Reading

111154341610151518054017

Short Synopsis: Trilogy following a teenager asked to fight in World War III due to his skill in virtual reality games.

Thoughts: I’ve read books with similar plots in the past, but what set this series apart from the others was the author’s attention to detail in her world-building. The author thought of some potential challenges and usages of the technology used in the story that I’ve never before considered or seen considered in a story. This adds richness to the story.

I read this series after enjoying an arc of The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid. This series is very different from the author’s forthcoming standalone, and reads on the boarder between middle grade and YA whereas her standalone read as in the hazy area between young adult and adult/new adult.

Rating:4 blue jays

23299512Short Synopsis: In a city where violence breeds monsters, two teenagers must learn to see past their differences to survive.

Thoughts: I stayed up until 2am reading this book. I value my sleep, so this is a rarity. That’s how addictive this book was. I also loved the idea of having violent acts create actual monsters, and the character archetype of a monster who wants to be human is one of my favorites, so I loved August.

Rating:4 blue jays

16299Short Synopsis: In the beginning there are ten people, and by the end there are none.

Thoughts: I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed some of the classics I’ve read recently. I suspect this is due to the fact that I’m choosing to read these as opposed to being told to do so for school.

Loved the way the plot all came together to work with the nursery rhyme. Still, I’m glad to have read the most recent version, with “solider boys”, because I think the original would have upset me too much to finish.

Rating: 4 blue jays

22299763

Short Synopsis: Second book in the Six of Crows Duology.

Thoughts: Really enjoyed this one. I loved the way the author made all six narrators distinct from one another. They were all incredibly developed, and I was rarely confused about whose perspective I was reading from.

The pacing was great, and I loved the way the characters had to work around set backs in their plans.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

22328546Short Synopsis: Mare was born a red, the lower-class subservient to the godlike silvers. When Mare discovers she has a Silver-like power of her own, she must pretend to be silver.

Thoughts:Some of the plot points felt forced, and I was annoyed with the characters for large portions of the book. The last thirty percent or so was my favorite part.

Based on the reviews of the next book I think I’ll stop here, but I wouldn’t be opposed to reading books unrelated to this one by Victoria Aveyard.

Rating: 3 blue jays

 

 

August 2016 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up (1)

August started with a reading slump. Thankfully, I got out of it during the second half of the month and read some great books.

Reading

26836910Short Synopsis: Girl genetically engineered to have her life revolve around protecting a single person must pretend to be the person she would die to protect.

Note: An advanced copy was provided by the publisher, but opinions are my own.

Thoughts: This book managed to get me out of my reading slump. It was so addictive I had a hard time putting it down when I needed to.

I’m also a fan of sci-fi novels in which the main character has to masquerade as someone from a very different walk of life, and enjoyed the main character’s internal struggle of trying to decide whether she could be her own person when she’s internalized that she is less important. Full review to come closer to the release date.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

28190254

Short Synopsis: Three young dragons have choices to make. What they choose will influence their world for centuries.

Thoughts: This is book can be read as a stand alone without reading the series it’s a spin-off from. In fact, the main series contains spoilers for this book.

I wasn’t expecting much from this book since I already knew how it ended and spin-off books have a history of being not that great, but this book surprised me.

My favorite part was Darkstalker (one of the three narrator’s) moral ambiguity. It seems to be becoming more common lately, but it’s still rare to see the main character in a middle grade novel, or novel in any genre really, walk the line between good and evil so closely. I want to like Darkstalker, but part of me thinks he is the dragon equivalent of Hitler.

I have a bit of a problem with the names of Darkstalker and his sister, Whiteout. The names sound like some sort of racist joke, but other than that this story was great.

Rating:

4.5 blue jays

13259262Short Synopsis: Collection of short stories about fictional Martian colonization.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this overall, but at times certain details seemed illogical to me, or not to connect to the story as a whole. It was as though most of the short stories contained in this odd combination of an anthology and a novel were set on the same timeline while a few were set on different ones.

Still, this is probably one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read, and Ray Bradbury’s prose is beautiful.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

13612965

Short Synopsis: Third book in the Magisterium series.

Thoughts: Something about this series has me hooked, but I have a hard time figuring out what it is that makes it so addictive. I’ve come to the conclusion that I really enjoy the protagonist’s internal struggle, though I can’t go into what that struggle is without telling spoilers.

I’ve read books with similar concepts to this one many times before, but never executed exactly this way. I think it’s the exact set up of the protagonist’s internal struggle, and the reaction of those around him to that struggle that make this series so attractive to me.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays

July 2016 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up (1)

In the month of July I read three books.

Reading

17235026

Short Synopsis: A young zombie might be the only hope left for humanity.

Thoughts: Really liked the beginning and seeing the world through Melanie’s eyes, but the second half felt too much like a traditional zombie novel to set it apart for me.

Rating: 3.5 blue jays

22559712

Short Synopsis: Seventh book in the Chronicles of Nick series.

Thoughts: This series is starting to feel way too drawn out, but this book was still a quick, enjoyable read.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays

19063Short Synopsis: Young girl in Nazi Germany discovers the power of words.

Thoughts: Thought this was a very good book overall. I really came to care about the characters. I had a hard time getting into the story at first, and felt death’s narration was a bit overdone at times though I liked the metaphor overall.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

Writing

I wasn’t as productive with writing as I would have liked to be in the month of July, but still managed to write 10,000 words.

June 2016 Wrap-Up

Monthly Wrap-Up (1)

June was a busy month for me. I spent most of it traveling, and since I get motion sick there wasn’t much time for reading, but I did still manage to read four books and a novella.

Reading

25558608Short Synopsis: Sequel to An Ember in the Ashes.

Note: An advanced copy was provided by the publisher. Opinions are my own.

Thoughts: Like the first book my thoughts on the sequel are very mixed though positive overall. It is addictive while reading, but I didn’t find it to be as memorable as I like books to be. This is a good book for someone trying to get out of a reading slump.

Rating: 4 blue jays

13836Short Synopsis: An orphan with a gift for caring for animals must come to terms with the fact that she has special abilities.

Thoughts: Loved the atmosphere and magic system, but had a hard time fully immersing myself in the story and kept getting distracted.

Rating: 3.5 blue jays

25067046

Short Synopsis: Two young Imperial recruits follow very different paths. AKA Published Star Wars fanfiction.

Thoughts: The beginning felt very cheesy and a bit cliche, but the second half more than made up for it. It’s rare to find a story that follows a character who remains in a system deemed to be evil by society at large like this one.

Rating: 

4 blue jays

7824322Short Synopsis: A 15-year-old is abducted from her home and taken to a Soviet prison camp in Siberia during WWII.

Thoughts: This was a somewhat personal book for me since some of my relatives have narrowly escaped these camps. If they hadn’t I wouldn’t be here today.

I’m debating whether or not I’m willing to share my relatives’ full story publicly on the internet. Depending on my decision, I might write a full review.

Other than that though, this is a good historically accurate account, but it doesn’t have as much plot as I like in the books I read. However, it might be more shocking for someone who didn’t already know this happened.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays

18075001Short Synopsis: Young orphan tries to find her way in  a world where she must hide her true nature.

Thoughts: I enjoyed the atmosphere and magic system introduced in this story, but ultimately thought it was too short for me to become entirely immersed in the story. However, this is not unusual for novellas.

Rating: 4 blue jays