Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Am Thankful For

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1.) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Half of the books on this list have books that got me through tough times or I learned a lot from. This book is definitely the former. There was always a new Harry Potter book for big changes in my life. Harry Potter is like comfort food to me.

2.) The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
This book really struck a cord with me when I read it almost 8 years ago. In fact it is the reason I started this blog because of that book and without this blog, where would I be? For that I am forever thankful to this book.


3.) The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
I was a very different book in my 20s. Much more high strung and intense. If you can believe that. Anyway, this book changed a lot of that for me. It really helped me reexamine my life and mellowed me out a lot.

4.) A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Similar to The Alchemist, I owe the fact that I have this blog to this book. Unlike The Alchemist, I actually hated this book. I hated it so much I wanted to complain about it. Then I remembered I had a blog and the rest is history.


5.) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
A lot you all probably know that I am a huge fan of audiobooks. That is thanks to this book, this audiobook. I loved the audio so much and because of it I wanted to listen to more and more audios.

6.) Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
This book made the list for a different reason than most of the other books. Because this book was my first Brandon Sanderson book. I had heard great things about him and then I picked up this audiobook and loved it so much that I read so many more of his books.

7.) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
I think I am thank for this book for a similar reason. But instead of introducing me to an author, this book introduced me to an entire genre. Historical mysteries are one of my all-time favorite subgenres and it's because of this book.


8.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I am such a huge fan of this book. It's one of my all-time favorites. Like Harry Potter this book is like comfort food to me. But this book makes me feel comforted but also sad. If I need a good cry I turn to this book and for that I am thankful.

9.) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I had heard good things about this author and so without thinking I read this book. And I have never related to a main character so much as I related to Cath Avery. I loved it so much I have read all her books ever since.

10.) Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
I used to say that I didn't like contemporary romance. But then I read this book and realized I just had not been reading the right books. If I hadn't realized that with this book I probably never read some other really fantastic books.

There you have it. All the books I am thankful for. What books made your list? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, November 20, 2017

ARC Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Title: Renegades
Series: Renegades #1
Written by: Marissa Meyer

Published: November 7, 2017 by Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both

This was not my favorite Marissa Meyer book. I’m a fan of the author and I have always thought she has done some amazing a creative things with classic stories so I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, I think that I had too high of hopes because I just didn’t love it. It was a good book but it wasn’t as exciting and I wanted and could have been much more creative.

One thing I did like about the book, despite their lack of creativity, was the characters. I’ll talk more about the powers later but as far as basic characterizations go, this part was pretty good. Character creation has always been where Marissa shines. She is great at creating lovable and charming characters that are complex and engaging. And while these weren’t some of her best they were still really good. As far as the main characters go, there were two, Nova and Adrian. I definitely liked them both. They had interesting backstories and were similarly complex in that they weren’t totally bad or totally good. I connected with them both and their search for answers. But many of them were odious and complex and walked the line between good and evil. That is what I like in my superhero/villain stories and also what I like about books in general so I did appreciate that.

But as far as the powers and the world-building goes, they were not very creative. I say they are not very creative because these characters had definite X-Men vibes. Like SUCH X-Men vibes. Which honestly is natural when you’re talking about superheroes because seriously there is a mutant for everything. It when basically every character has a near Pete t correlation with am X-Men character it gets a little old. There were some exceptions. Adrian’s power was really cool. I liked what she did with him a lot. And Monarch who could turn into butterflies was pretty interesting. But in general, I felt like instead of playing with superhero tropes this book played them up. Which is not a bad thing but also not what I am looking for.

But I think that was how I felt about the plot as well, it was not what I was looking for. It’s not that this book is not exciting. Because, come on, it’s a book about super powered people, there are plenty of action scenes. It’s just that the action scenes were kind of few and far between. There was so much potential here, but the book really just didn’t go there. I had all these theories about complex directions that that plot could be taken in and it didn’t do any of them:m. Which, whatever, I didn’t write this story. But the climax just fell flat for me. I didn’t feel like there was much of an over-arching plot that built up as the boom developed even though it tried to do that. It just felt like it was trying to be tense and it succeeded in that but the plot on the whole felt kind of lackluster.

Maybe it just suffered from first book syndrome for me. I am interested to see where the series goes because the big reveal at the ending was amazing and I know there is definitely some shoes to drop but on the whole, this book just didn’t impress me how I hoped it would.

I give Renegades by Marissa Meyer 8 out of 10 stars
 
 
Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I would probably recommend this book to someone who is not a superhero fan. It’s probably geared more towards a casual fan and not someone who wants an in-depth and creative exploration into the story of heroes and villains.

Have you read Renegades? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I Would Elect President

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Politics aside, maybe we should like a fictional character take a turn running our country. I mean it can’t be any worse, right?

1.) Hermione Granger in The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - Add to Goodreads
I mean I know she's British but he is also an incredible leader, smart, heroic, and amazing. I mean I have a Granger/Lovegood political t-shirt and there is a reason why. Hermione would make a great president.
 
2.) Dorian Havilard in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas - Add to Goodreads
He's already Emperor so I think he's halfway, or like more than way, there. Plus he's just generally fun and cool and I would feel incredibly proud to say he was my president.
 
3.) Sansa Stark in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin - Add to Goodreads
I will fight anyone who thinks that Sansa would not make the best leader out of all the characters in this series. All she's ever wanted is to be in charge of a house and she's good at it. How about the White House?
 
4.) Sierra Santiago in the Shadowshaper Cipher by Daniel Jose Older - Add to Goodreads
I just read the second book in this series and it was amazing. I really love Sierra and she is a fantastic leader. She really shined in Shadowhouse Fall. Plus I think I would agree with her platform.
 
5.) Elend Venture in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson - Add to Goodreads
I was originally going to pick Kelsier who is the leader of the crew in Mistborn but then I realized that no, I would much rather have Elend. He's similar to Dorian in that he is already Emperor. But also if he was the President then Vin would be First Lady.
 
6.) Richard Gansey III in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater - Add to Goodreads
Gansey is the blue blood private school son of a Congressperson. That has future president written all over it. But honestly, I think Gansey would make a great President. He's empathetic, brave, curious, and makes a great leader.
 
7.) Greta Gustafson Stuart in The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow - Add to Goodreads
Greta, like a lot of people on this list, is the heir to a throne. She is supposed to become Empress one day but is also a Prisoner of Peace so she understands the cost of being a leader. Plus she has already shown that she can make the tough decisions.
 
8.) Mark Watney in The Martian by Andy Weir - Add to Goodreads
An astronaut running for president wouldn't be totally off base. I mean John Glenn was a Senator. Plus he's a hero and people would totally love hearing about his experience out on the stump. Plus Mark is super funny and I would love that in a president.
 
9.) Petra in Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - Add to Goodreads
I don't think a beauty queen running for office is totally out of character. Especially for Petra. I feel like she would definitely end up running mostly because she wants to prove a point but I would support her in that.
 
10.) Kestrel in The Winners Trilogy by Marie Rutkowski  - Add to Goodreads
I think Kestrel would be a great choice because she is one of those characters who is an incredibly strategic thinker who is constantly under-estimated. I think this would make her a great leader and is one of the reasons I would elect her president.

There you go, all the fictional characters I would elect president. What characters would make your list? Leave me a comment with your thoguhts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Audiobook Review: La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman


Title: La Belle Sauvage
Series: The Book of Dust #1
Written by: Phillip Pullman

Published: October 19, 2017 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them, a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . .

When you hear that there is a new book in one of your all-time favorite series your first thought is always going to be excitement followed by an incredible amount of worry that it’s not as good as the original. And while La Belle Sauvage is no His Dark Materials, it was totally amazing.

For one thing this book had the amazing world that Phillip Pullman created in the His Dark Materials. I am such a huge fan of that world that seriously anything you give me with that setting I will read. Seriously. I’ve read all the novella in addition to the original series multiple times. The world is just so creative and imaginative. In La Belle Sauvage we explore the world a little more but it’s actually a very narrow area. Most of the book is spent in Oxford (although not the actual university) and a little bit in London. And yet we still learn so much more about the world. I love the way this series perfectly combines science fiction and fantasy to make something all its own. La Belle Sauvage absolutely did that. But I’d say this one leaned a little bit more on the fantasy aspects of the world. There was a real magic to it all and I loved that. But I loved everything about the world. It was imaginative and immersive.

Part of why I think the book was so immersive is that I listened to the audiobook. And seriously, it was an amazing audio. My last reread of the His Dark Materials series was via audio and I loved that it was a full cast. I was nervous about one narrator in this one, but it was amazing. Michael Sheen was a completely fantastic narrator. It didn’t matter who the character he was narrating for he completely embodied them. He did such a good job that sometimes I even find got it was only one narrator. Not to mention he did that amazing thing where when the plot got more thrilling he sped up his narration. He pulled me in and didn’t let me go until the very end.

But that’s a good way to describe this plot. It definitely pulled me in. I wasn’t exactly sure what this book was going to be about (not like I cared) but I did know it was a prequel for the original series. And that’s what this book was. It was sort of an origin story for Lyra. She wasn’t our main character but she was a huge part of the plot. We learned about how things got to be the way it was when we first entered he world but it was still a story all on its own. And it felt like a very topical story. Pullman has always done a great job making social commentary interesting and subtle while still making you think. With everything that is going on in today’s world it’s rife for this sort of thing. And it was completely fantastic in that way. But all that aside, this was a thrilling read. There was so much tension and drama. It had me on the edge of my seat and caught me by surprise many times. Pullman knows how to write a thrilling book and this was no exception.

As far as the characters they were everything I expect in a Phillip Pullman book. They were complex and sympathetic. I was a little nervous about reading a new book without Lyra as the main character but I don’t know why I was worried. Pullman did just as amazing a job of getting me to fall for Malcolm. He was such a great main character. Fiercely loyal, brave, smart, resourceful, willing to help anyone and everyone. Seriously, he was such a Hufflepuff. But I think the best thing about him was that he loved Lyra just as much as I do. Because yes, Lyra was a big part of this book. Baby Lyra. And she wasn’t the only character from the original series. We got to see the origins of a few other characters I love and love to hate. It was great seeing them pop up and learn how they got to be where they are when we first meet them. That includes some of the more odious characters like Lord Azriel and Ms. Coulter, but they were not the only odious characters. This is a book with plenty of characters who I wasn’t sure if I should trust or not. Those are the kinds of characters I love and I love that about this book too.

My one criticism however is with the pacing. It’s a thrilling book, yes, but it’s a little bit slow at first. I know that it takes awhile before we can get to the good stuff but this book felt like two different stories. Honestly it was similar to The Golden Compass in that way. The first part was just a “wandering around where we are” exposition before we go off on an adventure. I know we need those slower parts but I just don’t enjoy them as much as the actual adventure.

But all in all this was an absolutely amazing read. I loved being able to dive back into the world of His Dark Materials. It had an engrossing world, compelling characters, and a thrilling plot. It was everything I was hoping it would be.

I give La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman 9.5 out of 10 stars


Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you are a fan of the original series then you NEED to read this book. And if you haven’t read His Dark Materials and you like science fiction and/or fantasy you must read this series. I wouldn’t start here, but I would come back to it eventually.

Have you read La Belle Sauvage? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, November 3, 2017

ARC Review: This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada Blog Tour and Giveaway

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

This Mortal Coil
by Emily Suvada
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 7th 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fiction

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Links: Goodreads - AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiBooksKobo -  IndieBound -

Synopsis:

In this gripping debut novel, seventeen-year-old Cat must use her gene-hac king skills to decode her late father ’ s message concealing a vaccine to a horrifying plague.

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat ’ s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been ki lled, Cat ’ s instincts tell her it ’ s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat ’ s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much ca n she even trust herself?




I really wanted to love this book. It had so much promise and I was so excited to read it. But unfortunately it never quite delivered on that promise. It was an okay read but I just didn’t love it.

The one really good thing about this book was the world. It was a fantastic science fiction world. You can absolutely tell that the author is a scientist. And if she’s not she sure did her research. If she is, she sure did her research. There are some really elaborate and intricate parts of this world that give it a heavy science fiction feel to it. But there are also some really good dystopian parts of this world. It’s one of those books where society is basically in chaos because of a virus. I love when my dystopia keeps the sci-do feel and I appreciated that about this book. It was an interesting and engaging world.

That being said, I didn’t totally love the world building. There was a lot to this world. A lot of different concepts and technology. Whole that’s a good thing it did make for a world building that kind had to tell you instead of show you what was going on. It definitely had a bad case of the info dumps. Especially in the beginning of the book. I like a complex world but if you’re going to have to explain everything it is going to take me out of the book and impact my enjoyment. Unfortunately that is what happened here.

I think the complexity problem all extended into the plot as well. I never thought there would come a day that I thought a plot was too complex but that day is today. Because there was seriously just too going on here. At times it felt like it was just manufactured conflict to make things intense. While at other times it felt like the big moments weren’t given the amount of time needed for it to sink in. It just moved from point to point so quickly that nothing was really hitting in the way I wanted it. Like even when huge reveals and surprises came around. I was surprised and invested, but then we just moved on to the next thing. By the end of the book I kind of stopped caring a little bit because I just couldn’t devote any more attention to the plot I knew was just going to move on in a few pages anyway.

But I do think a lot of the book was redeemed by the characters. There were some very interesting and complex characters here. Most of you probably know I like my characters dark and odious. That is exactly what I found here. Like most good dystopia there are shady pseudo-government agencies, splinter groups branded as terrorists, and plenty of people whose true allegiance you don’t really know. It made for some fun reveals and character twists. But thankfully the one character who I was rooting for was the main character of Catarina. She was a good main character in that she was determined and smart but still vulnerable. Bad things kept happening to her and you didn’t want them to. She was really likable and made me keep reading. All the characters is what made me keep reading. I wanted to know where they stood in the end.

All in all this was an okay read. I honestly think it was just entirely too complex. If the world was toned down a little bit, the plot was given enough time to percolate, and the characters were given time to develop it would have been great.

I give This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada 7.5 out of 10 stars
 


Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Bypass. I would recommend this to fans of YA dystopia with a heavy science fiction element. It’s not the best of the genre that I’ve read but I think fans looking for one more book like that will like it.

Have you read This Mortal Coil? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Favorite Quotes
 
"A breeze dances through the knee-high grass, sweeping in across the water, carrying the cries of the pigeon, the chill of the evening, and the rich deep scent of the forest." (e-ARC p.7)
 
"Like, despite the apocalypse, I'm somehow supposed to be pretty. It feels stupid even thinking about it, but I still find myself tilting my head back and forth in the light from the naked bulb overhead, searching for an angle that makes me look good." (e-ARC p. 64)
 
"Most people are afraid of the guy with the gun, but the person they should be afraid of is the one with the genkit cable. It's software that runs the show in this world, not hardware. People like you are always in control." (e-ARC p.81)
 
"We live in evil times, Catarina. Sometimes we need to embrace that to survive." (e-ARC p. 242)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 


Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.
FOLLOW THE TOUR:

 
http://fantasticflyingbookclub.blogspot.com/2017/10/tour-schedule-this-mortal-coil-by-emily.html



• 1 Copy of This Mortal Coil by EMily Suvada
• US Only

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October Wrap Up and November TBR

Read in September: Magical Realism

Just as I suspected, it was a rough month for reading. Between my move to Rhode Island and my starting of my new job, I haven't been able to read much. But of I am being entirely honest I kind of underestimated just how little time. Although I think maybe that was because the past few months have been really good so in comparison this seems really slow. But I read a total of 7 books this month. But the good news is that most of them were really good reads. Although I did DNF one book, so there's that/

For challenges, I am doing okay but not as well as I would hope on some of the individual challenges. I made my Goodreads goal 120 books for the year and that was a really good decision because I am really close to finishing it. I wanted to finish it by the end of this month but that didn't work out so well. But I will definitely finish it in November. I was on track for the Debut Author Challenge of 25 debuts, but this month I didn't read any debuts, making my total for the year stil at 19. I'm not going to finish it but I'll probably end up with 20. For the Netgalley/Edelweiss Challenge, I read 1 book this months which makes my total to 31 for the year. My goal of 36 for the year is still doable as all I'll have to do is read 2 a month until the end of the year. For the Rock My TBR Challenge I didn't read any books for that this month towards my goal of 25 for the year bringing my totally up to 12 for the year. I'm definitely behind on this one but I might be able to meet the actual challenge goal of 15. My slow reading month definitely got in the way of me completing these goals as well.

The Books

1.) Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore Rating: 8 out of 10 [My Review]
2.) Bad Dreams by R.L. Stine Rating: 6 out of 10 [Podcast Review]
 3.) All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater 
Rating 8.5 out of 10 [My Review]
4.) Wonder Woman Vol. 3: The Truth by Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp 
and Laura Martin Rating: 9 out of 10
5.) Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older
Rating: 9 out of 10 stars [My Review]
6.) Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman Rating: 9 out of 10 [My Review]
7.) La Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman Rating: 9.5 out of 10 stars [Review to Come]

Other Posts

To Be Read in October: Science Fiction

I am hoping to have more time to read in November but I remain cautiously realistic in the fact that I am probably not going to be able to read much more than last month. But there are some books coming out that I am super excited about. Some that are among my most anticipated for the year. Plus I am excited to shift to a different theme as I have been reading a lot of fantasy and historical books lately.

Books for Review


This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada - Add to Goodreads
I'm part of the blog tour for this book and am super excited to read it. I wanted a copy at ALA but I wasn't able to get one so I'm excited to be on the blog tour.

Artemis by Andy Weir Add to Goodreads
I have been wanting another book from Andy Weir since I read The Martian over two years ago. Plus even if it wasn't Weir I'd want to read this book because it's about a female thief on the moon.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao  - Add to Goodreads
I read the first chapter of this last month but didn't have the time to finish it. But I liked it and I have heard good things and I want to read more.

Renegades by Marissa Meyers - Add to Goodreads
I am so excited to read this book. I love books about super heroes, I love Marissa Meyers, so could the two combined be anything but amazing!

 
The Knowing by Sharon Cameron - Add to Goodreads
I LOVED The Forgetting and I am super pumped that there is another book in this series. I wanted to read this last month but I didn't have the time. This month I am making time!

The Inevitable Victorian Thing by J. AcrumAdd to Goodreads
This is another perfect read for the Halloween season. It sounds really interesting and I know a few people who have read it and loved it.

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray - Add to Goodreads
I have had a copy of this book for a very long time and I still haven't read it. I mean they did archive the book before I could download it and then randomly didn't after awhile.

New Releases

The Empress by S.J. Kincaid - Add to Goodreads
I LOVED The Diabolic and I was so excited about more. The second book comes out today and I am super excited to read it. I made sure I finished the audio for La Belle Sauvage before today so I could start it immediately.

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray - Add to Goodreads
I started this book last weekend after seeing the delightful Libba Bray again. It's a pretty hefty read so I haven't been able to finish it so I'm still reading.

Backlist Books


Imprudence by Gail Carriger - Add to Goodreads
I planned to listen to the audiobook for Imprudence this month but I didn't get the chance. I still do want to read it and I think it fits this month's theme enough so I'll try again.

There you have it. Some of the books I hope to read in November. As always, these are subject to change. I may read all of these or I may only read a few and then read a bunch of different ones. But honestly I think this list I can stick to. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!