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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.

Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass (Book 1)
by Sarah J Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined. (goodreads.com)

This was probably my most anticipated novel of 2012 – at least the most anticipated Debut novel of 2012. From the second I heard about this book many, many moons ago (when it was called Queen of Glass), I have had it on my radar to pick up the second it was published. I think I originally found out about it through twitter when someone I followed linked to Sarah J Maas and announced her book deal, or something like that. I can’t even remember now, but it feels like it was a million years ago. The fact that this is close to epic/high fantasy for YA as you can get, I knew it needed to be on my shelves.

There weren’t many authors or books that I wanted to stalk at BEA this year, but once I found out there would be ARCs and a signing for this debut novel I was stoked. Yes, stoked. Hell0, 1980s! I owe my acquirement of this book to Kristi who kindly stood in line for me as I was off in a panel during BEA. I was so cranky that even though I only wanted to actually do a handful of things at BEA – THEY WERE ALL AT THE SAME TIME! GAH! Kristi had also wanted to do something at this exact same time, so I told her not to worry about Throne of Glass, that I would just suck it up and wait a few more months to buy it myself. But luck was on our sides and she was able to get me a signed ARC. Yay!

Because Throne of Glass isn’t coming out until August, I waited FOREVER to start reading it. FOREVER being five weeks after I got it, of course. I figure since I didn’t get this from a publisher specifically for review purposes, I could break down a read it. Heck, it comes out in 3-ish weeks, that’s close enough right?

Internet, this is one heckuva fantasy book. I was actually sad when it was over because I didn’t want to stop reading. Celaena was a strong and more-or-less likable character. I will admit it took her a while to grow on me, but mostly because I wasn’t sure what sort of character she was supposed to be. That actually ties in to one of the few issues I had with the story, which I’ll explain a little later on. I very much enjoyed the secondary characters as well, my favourite being Chaol, the Captain of the Guard, seconded by Nehemia, the Princess and finally, Dorian the Crown Prince.

There’s even a bit of a love triangle in this book, folks, but it’s one that DID NOT BOTHER ME. Not one bit and you know me and love triangles. We’re like mortal enemies. The relationships in this story (both of the romantic and platonica kinds) actually blossom before your eyes. You can see why someone will feel the way they do about another. You actually FEEL the romantic tension between Celaena and Chaol. The only time I found the attraction a little off was between Dorian and Celaena because I didn’t feel they spent quite enough time together. It was more that he was fascinated by her because she was the wrong girl for him. Part of me felt like once the chase was over he’d grow bored. I’m very curious how these relationships will progress in the next books.

This book had a little bit of everything, which sometimes makes it a little too much; but for the most part I thought this was a great fantasy novel and just what I’d been needing in my life. The Tests that each of the potential King’s Champions had to endure were not as detailed as they could have been. I actually thought those tests would be the main focus of the story, but surprisingly they were not.

The one problem I had with the story was how I felt like we were sort of tossed into things in a way that assumed we should know about them already. There were a few references made by the protagonist or the way certain events were phrased that made me feel like I must have missed a book because I wasn’t catching on. Celaena’s attachment to Sam (which she mentions a few times) wasn’t filling me with sympathy or, well, anything because I have no idea who the heck Sam is so how am I supposed to know she has an attachment, or regrets, or grief. It didn’t flow properly in my opinion, however it wasn’t  a huge part of the story so it was easy to ignore when it wasn’t right in front of me.

BUT!

After I wrote about finishing and loving this book on twitter I was informed that there are three novellas that preface this story and they explain how Celaena ended up where she did and why she has this reputation and HOPEFULLY they will tell me about this Sam character. BONUS they are actually $0.99 right now for the Kobo and..er..well… I might actually have an eReader in the house right now. I will blog about that eventually, but it’s a shared one with my husband and well… maybe it’s handy to have when there are eBook novellas for books? (I can get the Michelle Zink ones, too!)

So, bottom line (if you made it this far) is that Throne of Glass is certainly worth picking up if you love high/epic fantasy and think there should be MORE OF IT IN YA! (Also, it doesn’t really read like a YA book, so I think older -female-fantasy fans would enjoy it. Think, Poison Study by Maria V Snyder, or Graceling by Kristen Cashore.

Of course now I have that “oh, crap, I read this book a month before it comes out which means the wait will be EVEN LONGER for the SEQUEL!” problem. Woe is me. Truly. Impatience is one of my middle names. 😉

One more thing before I stop writing this epically long post – I loved this book SO MUCH that when I saw the UK edition had a wicked beautiful cover? I bought it. Yep. As soon as I finished this signed ARC and saw on Goodreads the cover for the UK edition, well, I HAD to buy the UK one. It’s rare I get two copies of books. Enough said.

Throne of Glass

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