RECENT READS | #6-10

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Hello! This is a new feature on my blog where I’ll be briefly talking about the books I’ve read this year. I did quarterly wrap up posts last year, but I decided that I wanted to do these wrap up posts with a little more frequency. Really, I’d just like to get into the habit of saying something about every book that I read, and I don’t always have enough to say about a book to warrant a full length review.

I’ve read 11 books so far this year — if you’re wondering why this post is starting at #6, it’s because I talked about the first four books I read this year in my #DAReadathon Wrap Up post back in January, and I’ve also written a full length review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I’ve had a great reading year so far, I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever read over ten books before the end of February before. Plus, I’ve given every book I’ve read a pretty good rating, so let’s get into it!

Covers = Goodreads.

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#DAReadathon Wrap Up

 

 

 

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It’s time for my (belated, as always) wrap up for the #DAReadathon! I managed to read a total of four books for this readathon, and so completed four of the challenges. I did get partway through my fifth, but ended up losing steam. Despite not hitting my seven book target, I’m not in the least disappointed. I really enjoyed all of the books that I read, so without further ado, let’s get into the books!

As always, the covers will take you to the Goodreads pages.

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JULY – SEPTEMBER READING WRAP UP

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It’s time for me to do mini-reviews of all the books I’ve read over the last three months! You can read my January-March wrap-up here, and my April-June wrap-up here. My reading definitely slowed down over the summer, owing to writing the bulk of my dissertation during July and August, so the only reason I’ve actually been able to keep on track with my goal of reading 50 books this year is because I read a lot of comics/graphic novels over the last few months.

I started the last post by discussing the books that I said I was currently reading in the last one, and yes, I’m still not finished with either The Lies of Locke Lamora or House of Leaves. I’ve only recently picked up The Lies of Locke Lamora again, and I am really enjoying it, it’s just that I’ve been getting distracted by wanting to read other things. Hopefully I’ll definitely get around to finishing House of Leaves this month, as it’s on my TBR for Lauren’s Halloween Read-a-thon.

Now onto the few books I have read!

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HOLIDAY TBR #2

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So I’m lucky enough to be going on another holiday next week! I’m heading to Antalya, Turkey, with my parents. They asked if I’d like to go with them, and really, I’m not about to say no to a free holiday, so here I am. If you saw my previous holiday TBR, you’ll know that I aim to read a lot of books while I’m away, owing to doing basically nothing else but read for an entire week. This TBR is no less ambitious, so let’s get right into it!

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BOOK REVIEW | The Winner’s Kiss — Marie Rutkoski

28587801Read: May 2016

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis:

Following the intrigue and danger of The Winner’s Curse and the revolution and romance of The Winner’s Crime, Kestrel finds herself in the tundra’s mines and Arin has sailed home. The empire seems unstoppable.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this third and final installment in the heart-stopping Winner’s trilogy.

This book was easily one of my most anticipated books of the year. I read The Winner’s Curse and enjoyed it for what it was: a YA fantasy that was fairly heavy on the romance, light on the action. The series completely changed for me with The Winner’s Crime, which kept me up until the small hours with its constant twists. I had no idea where this series was headed, so I was actually incredibly nervous about picking it up.

Really, I was right to be nervous; this book was incredibly tense, and almost relentless in its pace. It wasted no time in preamble, picking up almost exactly where the last book left off.  It was incredibly hard to find a lull in the action during which I could actually out the book down. There are two kinds of tension in the book: that of the war, and that between Kestrel and Arin. For me, the balance between the two was struck almost perfectly. I enjoyed that the book was heavy on strategy, though the action was handled brilliantly too. Fighting wars is a lot more than a bloody skirmish, and I loved seeing these characters planning how they were going to outmaneuver the Valorian army. Nothing and nobody felt safe in this book either; life-threatening situations for these characters actually felt life-threatening. At no point did I feel that I could comfort myself in thinking that someone was going to be okay because they were a main character.

Ultimately, however, I think your enjoyment of the book—and the series more generally—comes down to how much you enjoy Kestrel and Arin’s relationship. Theirs is probably one of the only relationships that I’ve actively cared about in a long time. Usually I don’t really care who ends up with who at the end of the series, but I really, really cared about Kestrel and Arin. Because of that, it should be no surprise that I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Given everything that’s happened to these two, it was nice to see them finally being honest with each other, and it’s refreshing to see a couple actually go through trials together, and to see their relationship develop and change over the course of the series. Not only are Kestrel and Arin more honest with each other, they’re more honest within themselves too. I liked that their character development came more in the form of making themselves more vulnerable, often I think we see “character development” as someone making themselves “stronger” in an almost entirely physical sense. I liked that this series moves away from that, and shows that there’s a kind of strength in vulnerability, too.

However, there were characters I expected to see more of, such as the Dacran Queen, Prince Verex, and Risha, but I think the book benefitted from the focus on Kestrel and Arin. It’s possible that shifting the focus too much would have killed some of the tension, and weakened the book overall.  I was surprised by how present Roshar was in the book, though  I’m not in the least bit surprised that I loved him, he’s exactly my kind of character. I’m incredibly glad that he featured so heavily, and I loved his friendship with Arin, and his tentative friendship with Kestrel. While Roshar figures as comedic relief at times, he is a very well-written and developed character. Really, most of the secondary characters in this series are pretty well-developed.

Overall, I was very pleased with this ending.  The actual ending itself was very open, which is actually something I prefer. Often I think when an author attempts to perfectly tie up every loose end, or provide a satisfying ending for every character, it can come across as messy, so I liked that this didn’t have a definitive conclusion. If anything, it felt more like a new beginning, as cliché as that sounds. Realistically, dealing with the aftermath of a war is an entirely different story, and would probably need an entire series dedicated to it in and of itself, so I’m glad that this book ended as it did, instead of rushing to a “neat” conclusion.

The rest of this post will contain spoilersSo tread carefully if you’re planning to read this any time soon.

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BOOK REVIEW | Half Lost — Sally Green

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READ: April 2016

FORMAT: Paperback

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

I’ve never felt more conflicted about a book than I have about Half Lost. I was wary about starting this series because of all the hype it was getting, but when I was finally convinced to read it, I was pleasantly surprised. Green took risks with her writing, and the world felt harsh and unfair, and Nathan was such a compelling character. I loved that Witch was a gender neutral term, it was such a small but clever decision to make. This, combined with the fact that it was White witches that were “bad” and Black witches that were “good” (while they aren’t racial codifiers in the novel, it would be a little silly not to suggest that we don’t see white/black as such, generally) it gave me a really good feeling about the series. It felt different from other young adult novels, and after finishing Half Bad, I was very excited to read its sequel, Half Wild.

Half Wild blew me away. I was one of my favourite books of last year. I thought that the series made incredible progress, and it took turns that I genuinely wasn’t expecting. One of the things I was most surprised by was the introduction of Gabriel as a love interest for Nathan. I was so, so pleased that there was a potential for an actual same-sex relationship in a young adult series that featured the main character. I’d barely come across it before, and only ever when I’d really been looking for it. After I’d finished reading, I was incredibly impressed, and I felt bittersweet about the series ending, because I wasn’t ready to let this world go.

Which is why I’m so conflicted, prior to the final book, I genuinely loved this series, and while I was really dissatisfied with the ending, I’m not sure that I want to warn people off it entirely.

I was initially a little concerned when I picked up Half Lost at a bookshop and noticed that it was considerably shorter than its previous instalments. I began worrying about how the series would be able to successfully conclude in what seemed to be so few pages.

These worries pretty much disappeared when I actually started reading. It was action-packed, and compelling as ever. Nathan’s morality is so complicated, and it was really interesting exploring this. I loved his relationship with Gabriel, and how Gabriel influenced him and made him want to try to be better, to be considerate, and not give in to his violent impulses. Nathan and Gabriel remain the strongest points of this series for me, the scenes between them were my favourites in the book.

I enjoyed probably the first 90% of this book. I had issues with a few things—Hunters in this world are mostly women, so this involved Nathan killing a lot of women (which made me uneasy, but moreso when a situation arose in which he could have killed male guards, and didn’t). Also, to say that Analise was barely in the book, Nathan thought about her all the time—more precisely, he thought about how he was going to get his revenge, and kill her, all the time.

Ultimately, this didn’t work for me because Green was writing a war story that didn’t feel like a war story. The White Witches never felt like enough of a threat, so while these characters were going through hell, it never felt like they were, which made the ending (I’ll get into this) feel like it was done for shock value, and little else. Really, it came down to people talking about war and how hard and unfair it is, without it ever really feeling that way. In regard to the ending, the trouble is, I can’t specify what made me so mad, and so disappointed without spoiling the ending. It engages with a really awful trope, and still, I can’t even tell you what that trope is without spoiling the ending (this is an issue! The name of this trope indicates exactly which character it effects). However, I do want to talk about it so the rest of this review will contain spoilers. If you’re interested in the series and don’t want to be spoiled, then skip this next part.

If you want the no-spoiler reason for my disappointment, it really comes down to the fact that the message at the end of this series seems to be that if you’re broken, you can’t be fixed, and if you’re different, you can’t be happy.

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BOOK REVIEW | The Rest of Us Just Live Here — Patrick Ness

the rest of us just live here

READ: September 2015

FORMAT: Hardcover

OVERALL RATING: ★★★★

It’s no secret among people I know that I’m a huge fan of everything Patrick Ness writes. After reading A Monster Calls a few years ago, and going on to devour the Chaos Walking trilogy and More Than This (I’ve yet to foray into his adult fiction) I’ve pressed copies of his books into people’s hands nearly every time they enter a bookshop with me. Naturally, I was incredibly excited when I heard that Patrick Ness was releasing a new book full stop but the premise, a book about the people who aren’t the Chosen One, had me counting down the days until its release.

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