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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

What I Read in January

Ok folks, I seem to have forgotten how to blog. Or, rather, I can’t seem to get my blogging mojo off the ground. In my defence I’m going through some stuff and there are too many things that are overwhelming me. Being online, blogging, social media… those are a big chunk of the GAH! feelings so I have been avoiding the internet as much as possible. It’s helping me so that’s good. On the other hand, I miss blogging and having handy reference of what I read online, so here I am with a mini update!

I managed to read 7 books in total throughout January! This was surprising to me since I didn’t think I’d actually gotten that many read! I read some great books and some not-so-great books and here’s my rundown in one post because I’m just not up to multiple blog posts right now.

Reconstructing Amelia
by Kimberly McCreight

In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter–now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump. (goodreads.com)

This book was the first Featured Book from the 50 Book Pledge hosted by The Savvy Reader. It sounded pretty interesting and I was looking for less YA novels and more adult ones. I’m feeling mystery or suspensy these days and very little is holding my attention, I had hoped that this book would be a nice change of pace – I wasn’t wrong! This was a great mystery to read and I think it would be a prefect bridge-book between adult and YA fiction since the story is told in two points of view – that of Amelia and her mother. This has the added bonus of a Prep school. It’s not a boarding school, but there are still rich kids being all mysterious and secret societies! I love that stuff. Woo!

Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum, #19)
by Janet Evanovich

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.
(goodreads.com)

I saw a bunch of complaints about this nineteenth book in the Stephanie Plum series, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I am seriously hoping for some sort of character progression in Stephanie’s case over time, but ultimately this book made me laugh. Laughter is something I seriously look for in one of these mystery novels. I also love me some steamy Ranger scenes and although he was in the story a lot, there wasn’t a ton of steam. I don’t know if the love triangle will ever be resolved, but Morelli is getting a tad boring for my liking. He used to be a bad boy and now he’s just feeling like an old man. Hmm. At least Stephanie seems to be slightly more competent in her bail bondsman job. She’s not always failing miserably and I will admit to a certain amount of glee every time one of her cars blows up! Hee!

The Gospel of Winter
by Brendan Kiely

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s. (goodreads.com)

This one was sent to be by Simon & Schuster Canada after an email exchange I had with my pub rep. Once she told me it had been one of her favourites I admitted I was extra curious about it. It’s certainly a subject that’s pretty taboo and not often written about. I didn’t see many favourable reviews on goodreads for this one so I was apprehensive as I began it but I was surprised by how much I liked it. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing (now majorly lapsed) but this story was pretty riveting and I thought, well told. I liked Aidan a lot, too. As troubling as the story itself was I found the book to be quiet and calm, sort of like a snowfall. It was sort of nice to read an “issue novel” from the point of view of a male protagonist, too. I am very happy that I was able to have included this novel in my 2014 reading.

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, Book 1)
by Marie Rutkoski

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. (goodreads.com)

Release date: March 4, 2014

You might have seen photos of the epic packaging floating around the internet for the ARCs of The Winner’s Curse – they came with a dagger! I didn’t get the epic packaging, but my friend did send me an ARC and although this doesn’t come out until March, since I was so desperate to read a book that I could connect with I tried this one out. It’s an easy read and a nice fantasy but my problem with it was the constant pining between Kestrel and Arin. I wrote this on Goodreads, “I’d really like someone to write a YA fantasy novel that isn’t just a romance in disguise. I wanted to like this one more than I did but there was just too much pining between Kestrel and Arin and it overshadowed all the rest. 🙁” I KNOW Rutkoski can write an amazing fantasy novel because I adored her middle grade  Kronos Chronicles trilogy. I think the problem here is that YA novels always have to have this stupid OMG I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU UR SO PRETTY ZOMG! theme to them and I am so, so tired of that crap. Do I want to continue with the series? Probably. Mostly out of curiosity though.

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, Book 2)
by Sarah J Maas

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her. (goodreads.com)

Oh, look. Another YA fantasy novel that’s 80% PINING! This sequel to The Throne of Glass might just have ended the series for me. The first half of the book is all about how Celeana and Chaol can’t be together because OMG THE LUST and OMG THE DISTRACTION! And let’s not forget about how Darion can’t even look at her because OMG SHE WANTS CHAOL! Ugh. Then (SPOILERS) there’s this entire section of the book that’s nothing but sexsexsexsexsexsex all of the time and I just wanted to throw the book across the room in disgust because it added NOTHING to the story. Nothing. Nada. The last quarter of the book things got more interesting but then we’re totally thrown for a loop with a plot twist that I am still trying to decide between it being obvious and unoriginal or a surprise. Jury is still out on that one. I didn’t even like Celaena anymore. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with this series or not. We’ll see how I’m feeling when the next book comes out.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her–to play Batman to her Robyn–whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive  (goodreads.com)

Now THIS book was FANFREAKINGTASTIC! I picked it up for my Kobo with some gift cards I’d gotten at Christmas. I bought this one on the recommendation of my naturopath of all people. When I went to an appointment in January she mentioned having just read a great YA novel about teens with OCD and that totally piqued my interest. I am so happy that I found out about this book because it was just amazing. Yes, there is romance-ish between Adam and Robyn but it’s not the over-the-top swoony kind that you get in most novels these days. This book is so raw and real and just heartwarming you are rooting for Adam the entire time. This was a great story about mental illness that will make you laugh and cry and feel uncomfortable but also happy and hopeful. It even has a bit of a mystery within the story that kept me on my toes until the end. I know I’ve only read seven books (now 8, since I just finished one in February) so far, but this is the best one I have read so far.

This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life
by Leila Sales

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing. (goodreads.com)

I had tears in my eyes by the second page of this book. I knew just by Elise’s voice and the words on those first two pages that this book was going to resonate so deeply within me and I was right.

This Song Will Save Your Life was the book I ended the year with. After the year that I had, I think a book like this was the perfect ending. There is something so genuine and piercing about Elise. Her words. Her fears. Her actions. Although I couldn’t exactly relate to the sneaking out and DJing at an underground dance party, I did connect with the other parts of her. The parts that “knew” being different was wrong. That being yourself and not fitting into the cookie-cutter cutout rules and norms of the rest of the teen world would result in being punished.

It was almost like Leila Sales took parts of my actual life and wrote them into a story. Obviously she didn’t because she doesn’t know me from Adam, but there were so many things in there that were my life. Starting in the 4th grade. It was scary and fascinating all at the same time.

Elise was rescued from her life though, so many others aren’t. However so many others are too scared to take the leaps and chances that can find them refuge among the wars that wage between high school walls.

The idea that some idiot can make a fake blog and write as someone else in a way to bully another kid is just terrifying to me. I don’t know why that idea never crossed my mind before because I’ll bet you it’s common. It’s just another example that has me pretty certain I’d have not survived growing up if the internet had existed back then.

This story is one of the few that gets the teen voice right. The struggles, the fears. And it’s not completely depressing, there’s humour among all of the angst and the angst isn’t superficial. I was just about bawling when Elise tries to save her sister from the same fate she feels she’s had. The lesson here is don’t be different. Don’t be yourself. Blend in. 

Honestly for most of my life I had the same mantra although it didn’t ever work. I’m still learning that being myself and being different isn’t something that deserves punishment. Unfortunately it took me 30 years to get to the point that I could start understanding and trusting that.

I thought this was an amazing book. I’m still thinking about it three days later and I’m still full of emotion over it. This book might have been one of the best gifts I have ever received and I am so happy that someone chose to send it to me. It was exactly what I needed to end my 2013. It helped me settle down my energy for 2014. It moved me. It made me laugh and cry. It made me want to check out the other books written by this author.

Mostly, it made me happy to be ME.

Cress

Cress (Lunar Chronicles, #3)
by Marissa Meyer

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can. (goodreads.com)

Release date: February 4, 2014

I don’t normally like to post too early about soon to be published books, but I figure a month and half (ish) isn’t too bad… Also I need to just be able to read and blog when I am able to these days. So you’re getting an early review of Cress. I shall try not to spoil anything, but I suggest you continue reading at your own risk. 😉

My gosh. I started this post a week ago…but I’m just not feeling the book blogging mood anymore. Ugh.

I might be in the minority, but I found Cress started off really slow and I wasn’t entirely certain I was going to like the book in the end. Turns out I started liking the story a lot more by the second half, which made me happy.

With each book being about a different main character, it’s bound to happen that a reader might not connect much with a specific story. This is how I felt about Cress. I didn’t particularly like her. There was nothing special about her personality that I can blame on my dislike of her. Maybe it’s that I felt she didn’t actually have any personality. She seemed sort of one dimensional and bland. Can’t say I blame her for it. I gather her circumstances lead to her blandness, but maybe she could have been written a little more endearingly or something.

I didn’t hate her. I just didn’t care anything about her. That actually makes me sad because I’d much rather hate a character than be indifferent to one. With the hatred I know they have been portrayed in a way that makes them more realistic and well-rounded.

On the flip side, this book had a lot of Captain Thorne and I adore his character. He always makes me laugh. I like that he got to expand from his side-kick, comic relief role a little and we get to know more about him. Even if it’s with Cress.

And really, I liked Cress slightly more by the end of the story. But I still like the other characters more. Heck, I even adore Iko more and she’s a robot.

However I am seriously looking forward to the fourth and final book – Winter. Because the brief glimpse we have of that character was enough to make me exclaim, “ooo, this is going to be GOOD!” when I was done reading.

Even though I received an ARC of this book (not for review, as gift) I am going to purchase the hard cover when it comes out in February because I do love this series. I love this sci-fi, fantasy take on Fairy Tales I know and love so well. The writing is excellent and the stories are captivating. The cover art for these books is just beautiful as well and they are books I will be happy to have in my collection for ever and ever.

The Lunar Chronicles

  1. Cinder
  2. Scarlet
  3. Cress
  4. Winter – 2015

Never Fade

Never Fade (The Darkest Minds, #2)
by Alexandra Bracken

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself? (goodreads.com)

Whoops! I started this post on November 8 and apparently got distracted because I never actually finished it.

(sort of spoilery, so read at your own risk)

I suppose I also let myself get distracted because I didn’t really want to write this post. Sadly, I did not enjoy Never Fade nearly as much as I adored Darkest Minds. Alas. I had a bad feeling at the start of the book when I couldn’t remember who Ruby was. How did I forget the main character’s name? Golly, Cat, maybe pay better attention to things when you read books! Gah! I had to go back to my review of the first book to make sure I was reading about the same person. I felt like I was reading a different series at first.

I had some trouble reading this book. I kept finding errors in the text and had to re-read some parts over due to some awkward phrasing at times and I don’t normally notice these things, so it’s strange that I did this time.

I felt very little connection to Ruby in this sequel but I really liked Vida. I have to admit the Epic Love between Ruby and Liam just wasn’t doing it for me in this book. I think Ruby did something totally unspeakable and I feel like Liam should not forgive her for her actions. But, whatever… he’s supposed to remember intense love feelings for her regardless of Ruby’s actions and I just was not feeling that connection at all.

I was worried after reading the first book that the sequel would not be able to match the pace of the first book. I was right. I felt like this part of the story was very drawn out with little breathless action. I found a lot of it predictable and nowhere near as mysterious as the first book.

I was disappointed in the sequel much to my chagrin.  I’m not entirely sure how much of my disappointment has to do with my current mood and lack of reading ability or how much was the story itself. It’s often difficult to match the awesome of a first book. Sometimes I love the first, hate the second but love the third book in the series, so I am looking forward to reading the next book. I like the idea of this story and I tend to like the secondary characters a lot. For instance I really loved Chubs this time around even though I wasn’t a fan of his in the first book. He’s had some major character growth and that is pretty awesome to read in a book. Sadly, the protagonist hasn’t had much growth and I feel like her decisions are getting stupider by the second. She keeps endangering herself and everyone around her for stupid reasons. Smarten up, girlie!

Book three is out next fall (I believe) so I’ll be on the look out for that for sure. Hopefully Ruby will be a little more intelligent by then. I’m curious to see where this is all going after the ending of Never Fade. I’d appreciate a little more action and a lot less Epic Never Ending LOOOOOOVE.

The Darkest Minds

  1. The Darkest Minds
  2. Never Fade
  3. TBA – 2014

 

Allegiant

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)
by Veronica Roth

One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. (goodreads.com)

First: OMG! Look! I actually finished a book! It’s been over two and a half months, but I finished a book! Whee!

Second: Hmmm. I don’t know what to write because I am not sure what I thought of the book. I’m having a serious struggle between liked and disliked. So I think I’ll break things down in this post and go from there.

(So, SPOILER ALERT if you have not read this book yet. This is your warning!)

– I didn’t know this book would be told from alternating points-of-view. I didn’t read the summaries online because I didn’t want to know ANYTHING about a book I was highly anticipating. So I had no clue that we’d get the ending to this trilogy in both Tris’s and Four’s POVs. The thing is, multiple POV? I hate it. It’s rare that I come across a book where I feel the back and forth is done properly. And I especially hate when a series makes a switch in narration in the middle or end of a series. The first two books were told from Tris’s point of view and then suddenly the last book? SWITCHEROO! But I have loved this series so far and the writing and story has been solid, so I tried to keep my hatred for this type of thing down and read on with an open mind.

– Which allowed me to understand WHY the dual POV was written. There were two stories to tell and I can understand why there was a separation of narrator. But I still didn’t like it. Part of my problem was in realizing when we’d switched from Tris to Tobias in the chapter titles. I didn’t find their names were obvious enough. Or that they were too similar. I think if they’d written Tobias’s chapters as “Four” and not “Tobias” I might not have missed as many switches as I did. I would see the “T” and assume it was Tris. And then get confused until Tris would walk into the scene, or something. They were not distinguishable enough in my mind.

– I was both disappointed and horrified with what they found after they left the city and went through the fringe. Finding out it’s all a US experiment sort of… I don’t know, took away the mystique of  the dystopian society. I can’t explain it. The whole thing is a lie and it was like my bubble had burst. I didn’t like knowing there were others, out there controlling everything. The quiet bubble of this scary society was burst and the harsh reality of it all being an experiment and a lie left a bad taste in my mouth. But I was also horrified at the idea that a government/country could DO something like this. That the disregard for human life would be so strong and acceptable. I don’t know what I wanted them to find when they escaped the city. I don’t know how I would feel if it had been something other than what they did find. Did I want everything to be barren and empty? That they were the only ones left? Did I want there to be some sort of exiled, escaped people who lived out in the fringe and were insane? I’m not sure. But there was something about them finding… normal. Normal society, like ours now, only with some added quirks and issues about the Genetically perfect and damaged things… I still can’t figure out if I liked or disliked the Big Discovery and this is frustrating to me!

– I felt like Four was too quick to trust someone he didn’t know. I felt like his attitude towards Tris was wrong. I don’t think I ever had strong feelings for him before because he wasn’t the protagonist, but the more I got to know him through his chapters, the less I liked him. I think Tris could have done so much better. Especially since he always seems to make decisions that end up wrong.

– I was a little tired of every single group being part of an uprising. I mean, really. I suppose when you’re in a society that is that unstable you’ll get uprisings all over the place, but with each chapter and discover of new people and new groups, there was an uprising about to happen in each one. Seems a little much to me. Although I had thought those Fringe people would have been a little bigger part of the story. Especially since Tris was so moved by the lack of what they had AND got the name of one of the girls in the camps. I had expected more from the Fringe people, maybe while they were tying to sneak back into the city to thwart the memory serum plans? I feel like there was stuff cut out from the book that would have added more to that part of the story? Maybe?

– Speaking of the book… Sure it’s 500+ pages, but the font was very large and the margins were HUGE! I have no idea who thought this would be a great idea. Let’s make the book LOOK epically long and people will be excited and want to buy it even more! but then you open it and you have a tiny space of text on each page. I don’t like when books are padded like that to make it seem like they are long. This book would have made a decent 350-400 page book if it had normal margin sizes. I felt like I was reading a kid’s chapter book at times.

– I was surprised by the ending. I was convinced it was going to end some other way and when things unfolded as they did, I was convinced I would read on to discover that it was also a lie. But the ending stayed true to what I was reading and I have to say I was impressed with the ending to this story. Very impressed. And as much as I didn’t like Four I think the ending helped me come around a little as he showed emotion and… I really liked the ending. A lot. There were FEELS and stuff and those last few chapters and the epilogue are the main reason I didn’t dislike the entire story.

– Peter. Peter made my heart wrench. He also helped me not dislike the entire story. Peter of all characters.

– So I’m still undecided as to how I really feel about the final book in this trilogy. I do stand by the opinion that the Divergent series is a strong one and a great read. This book might not have had me at the edge of my seat, but I think it did the job at offering closure to a wonderful series. The writing was still strong – even if I didn’t like the dual points of view! 😉

I can now go around and read reviews from others. I am curious to see what the thoughts are on this book. I have to say it surprised me in many ways and I think that’s why I am so undecided on how I feel. Maybe that’s exactly what the author was going for. (Dual POV aside, I mean. That’s just a personal taste of mine to dislike dual POV and doesn’t have much to do with the story itself!) In celebration of my actually reading a book AND posting about it on my blog within 24 hours of finishing it, feel free to leave a comment about what you thought of the story. 🙂 I’d love to hear from you!

Divergent

  1. Divergent
  2. Insurgent
  3. Allegiant