Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books in the Last 2 Years

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Books We Would Consider Our Favorites in the Last 3 Years. To make it easier for myself, I’m only doing the last 2 years, because I have a super handy excel spreadsheet to look at instead of slogging through goodreads.

1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – JONAH GRIGGS

2. Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness – I’m cheating and doing several series on this list. Choas Walking is a surprising addition in my mind, because of how hard it was for me to read. I DNF’ed The Knife of Never Letting Go on like page 3 the first time around.

3. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid/Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer – Sorry to squeeze you in together, adult books, but you both became super important to me over the last two years and I had to make you both fit.

4. The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant – I read this series twice in once year because it’s that super amazing.

5. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley – I still got a lot of feels in my re-read, especially about Til The Heart Caves In by Michael Zavros and the horse tumlbing bits.

6. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay – I read this in July 2014 and my heart still hurts from it.

7. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

8. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

9. MAGGIE STIEFVATER – I couldn’t pick between The Scorpio Races and The Raven Cycle (and maybe even Sinner because I’m pretty sure Cole St. Clair and Isabel Culpeper are my OTP, or at least tied with Gansey and Glendower).

10. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer/Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor – I’m bad at top ten lists but hate going over. I feel like these are some of the best representations of sci-fi/fantasy in YA, with Meyer’s fairy tale retellings and Taylor’s beyond gorgeous writing.

ARC Review: The Winner’s Crime

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Title/Author: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Publication Date/Publisher: March 3, 2015/Farrar Straus Giroux
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2
Source and Format: I received this book as part of a tour with Gals On the Same Page

Rating: 5 stars

 

From Goodreads:

Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

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Wow.

There is so much plotting and deception – and finally the end result is worth it! THAT ENDING!

The Winner’s Crime is amazing, and even better than The Winner’s Curse in a lot of ways – which is pretty rare for the second book in a series/trilogy.

Kestrel and Arin are torn apart by circumstances they can’t control – save for the pieces controlled by the emperor (Kestrel’s father-in-law-to-be). War, political intrigue. lies – Kestrel and Arin (mostly Kestrel, tbh) do what they have to to save each other.

I don’t want to give ANYTHING away, obviously, but The Winner’s Crime is not to be set aside in favor of another read. You need to read it as soon as you can get your hands on it – and then join me in the wait for the soul-crushing wait for The Winner’s Kiss.

February Re-read Recap

Re-Read Challenge

In February I only re-read 4 books, so I’m falling behind already! This puts my re-read total at 14.

11. Boundless by Cynthia Hand: I’m glad I first read this series when I was new to blogging, because my thoughts are definitely more negative about the series now.

12. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: needed to read for book club AND I needed a refresher before reading an ARC of The Winner’s Crime.

13. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor: This series audio re-read took a super long time but it was so worth it! I highly recommend the audio for a series re-read since the books get prettttty long.

14. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: It was weird to re-read parts that I haven’t seen in movies yet, but it was very satisfying – though hard not to cry at some part while at work.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Related Problems I Have

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Book Related Problems I Have. I’m going to call these FIRST WORLD BOOKISH PROBLEMS.

1. Not Enough Shelf Space/Sharing Shelf Space: My single biggest regret is getting my husband interested in reading (jk). Now he thinks HE gets to buy books and put them on the bookshelf!

2. Too Many Books, Too Little Time: How am I supposed to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK IN THE WORLD if I have other time commitments/hobbies/inevitable sleep?!

3. Non-matching series: This doesn’t reallllly bother me, but it kind of bothers me. Not enough that I will re-buy if the covers change halfway through (ahem) or if I have some in paperback and some hardbound (unless I spot a really good deal). I know this REALLY bothers some people and my bookshelves would probably make them cry.

4. Bought the Kindle Version: I used to stay up on allllll the kindle daily deals, and thus have bought many, MANY kindle editions. What I don’t like is when I absolutely looooove the book, but I only have the kindle edition. It doesn’t matter that I only paid $1.99 for it, I usually can’t justify buying another copy when there are so many unread books I want to own. I love my kindle, but there’s something I love even more about SEEING the book and being able to flip open to a beloved passage (I have never actually done this but I could start at any time).

5. All My Library Holds Came in at Once: I don’t know how to use the wishlist feature on my library’s website, so I put every book I want to read on hold. Sometimes I have like 17 things all come in at once, which leads me to my next problem….

6. Returning Library Books Unread: See above. Sometimes I’ll wait months and months for a book to finally get to me, and by the time I get it I either have too many other books to read in that 3 week time period or I just don’t feel the fire to read it anymore.

7. ARC Envy: This is the stupidest one. It’s not like if I don’t get approved for an ARC I’ll never get to read the book, but that’s how my brain thinks about is sometimes.

8. Never Reading the Book at the Same Time as Everyone Else: What always happens is everyone will be reading a book or series together and talking up a storm about it on twitter and I want to join in but I’m already behind. So I try to catch up and only get spoiled for things or remain constantly behind. OR! I’ll get an ARC I just can’t wait to read and read it IMMEDIATELY before anyone else has started it and there’s still no one to talk to about it.

9. Those USPS Medium Sized Flat Rate Boxes Aren’t Sized Perfectly to Ship Books and There’s Always a Weird Amount of Extra Room: Pretty self explanatory.

10. When I Can’t Come Up With an Even Ten Things For a Top Ten Tuesday

So You Want to Read…Maggie Stiefvater

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For this month’s edition of So You Want to Read… I’m going to wax on and on about the one true queen, Maggie Stiefvater.

 

WHERE TO BEGIN?!

 

This is easy, because there’s not bad place to start – depending on what you like or are in the mood for.

 

The Scorpio Races is a standalone about magical killer horses that come out of the sea and the people of Thisby race them every year in the Scorpio Races. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking story of love and loss and family and I might ship Sean Kendrick and Puck Connelly as much as I ship Gansey with Glendower. I would start with The Scorpio Races and this is mostly only because the last book in The Raven Cycle comes out later this year and they need to be binged.

 

The Raven Cycle is about psychics and the hunt for a Welsh king and RONAN LYNCH. The Raven Cycle (The Raven Boys; The Dream Thieves; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; and the forthcoming The Raven King) read like a dream. They are so imbued with magic and love and perfection that I don’t even know what else to say except READ THEM IMMEDIATELY UNLESS YOU WANT TO WAIT UNTIL SEPTEMBER BECAUSE THAT’S FINE TOO I GUESS.

 

An aside: The Scorpio Races and The Raven Cycle are also amazing audiobooks, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

The Wolves of Mercy Falls series is not a place I would recommend to start. It’s not really a werewolf love story, but it still kind of is so I understand if you really need to be in the right mental space for that kind of thing. Still very lovely, but the stars of this show are Cole and Isabel who don’t really get enough time until Sinner, the last book of the series.

 

There is also the Books of Faerie series which no one really talks about? I haven’t read these books yet, but there seems to be a third book in the series that hasn’t been releases yet…the first two came out in 2008 and 2009, so it’s been a while. If you’re reached this point in your Maggie Stiefvater quest and they are the only books left, you’re obviously going to want to read the,

 

ARC Review: Shutter

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Title/Author: Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Publication Date/Publisher: February 3, 2015/Feiwel and Friends
Series: No, but I feel like it might be
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Rating: 2 stars

 

From Goodreads:

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

 

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Shutter just did not work for me. The super eye-rolling started when I saw “analog DSLR” on the back of the book – thankfully this was caught and changed for the final copy (though “analog SLR” is not much better) – and died down once I got into the story…but I just couldn’t connect to the Micheline and I couldn’t connect the writing to the story (more on that later).

I felt like the fact that ghosties were just a part of life in the world of Shutter was really interesting and that the use of a camera as a weapon against the creepy crawlies of the world could have been MORE interesting – it would have worked better for me if Micheline wasn’t the only person who did that. If it’s the only way to get rid of the spiritual undead, shouldn’t everyone be doing it? Unless being a tetrachromat is a requirement for that, it just doesn’t make sense to me (this might have been explained – I did a fair bit of skimming).
Horror isn’t my favorite genre. I’ve never been scared from reading a book, so it can often come across as cheesy to me. I would much rather read some campy horror than something trying to be serious. Shutter is trying to be serious, and has characters that are all very military-esque, so the purple-y prose doesn’t quite suit it. It’s not so bad that I would call it purple, but it’s definitely lavender. It would be a much better fit to a contemporary.

That’s not to say Courtney Alameda is without skill. This particular book didn’t draw me in in the way that I would have liked (there was only about ten pages where I was REALLY into it), but I would definitely read something else from her – just not a sequel to Shutter.
 

Series Review: The Lumatere Chronicles

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Title/Author: The Lumatere Chronicles (Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, Quintana of Charyn) by Melina Marchetta

Publication Date/Publisher: 2008-2012/ Viking Australia
Series: Yes, The Lumatere Chronicles
Source and Format: Owned and borrowed from library

Rating: 4 stars

From Goodreads:

Critically acclaimed and universally beloved, the Lumatere Chronicles – consisting of Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles, and Quintana of Charyn – is now available in its entirety in this e-book collection! Discover the fantasy trilogy that reviewers have called “thrilling, romantic, and utterly unforgettable” and that School Library Journal recommended for “fans of the intricate fantasies of Megan Whalen Turner or George R. R. Martin.”

 

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I am a series binger, for sure. I read a LOT of books and the best way for me to keep the story straight is to just read the whole series at once. The only problem with this is that it becomes one giant story, instead of three consecutive ones, if that makes sense. So I can never quite remember if something happened in one book or the next.

I really enjoyed this series! I had been slightly worried that Melina Marchetta was maybe a “contemporary only” kind of author, but I am happy to be wrong.

Though each book seems like it should focus on the titular character, it only kind of does. Finnikin of the Rock is mostly Finnikin’s tale, but it’s so we can meet Froi. Froi of the Exiles is definitely Froi’s story…but so is Quintana of Charyn, though we do get her perspective sometimes. The Lumatere Chronicles is almost pushing the limit of “too many different perspectives” but it’s such a sprawling story that they’re needed.

The issue I had was with the side characters. They’re at least not similarly named (for the most part), but over the course of over 1500 pages it’s hard to keep them all straight with all the little ways they’ve helped or hindered our heroes.

For a series that is all about warring lands that are cursed in different ways, there is little to no magic happening in The Lumatere Chronicles, which is both refreshing and confusing in a time of so many wizards. A thing I never expect, and am always pleasantly surprised by, is humor in fantasy. Usually the subject matter is so serious – cursed kingdoms at war, no babies, loved ones being savaged – that the humor always stands out. What I enjoyed most about these characters, besides how different they are and how brave and strong and terrific they are, is how FUNNY they are and the jokes they can make as they’re breaking my heart.

ARC Review + Giveaway: The Tragic Age

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Title/Author: The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

Publication Date/Publisher: March 3, 2015/St. Martin’s Griffin
Series: No
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Rating: 3 stars

 

From Goodreads:

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.

Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul.

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at.  The tragic age.

Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

 

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I, like Billy, have a lot of thoughts. Unfortunately, Billy probably doesn’t have any on this book, so I’m on my own.

On the one hand, The Tragic Age is good and interesting and well written, but on the other hand it’s so completely bizarre that I can’t accurately decide how I feel about it.

Billy & Co. are over the top, for sure. I’m not even entirely sure what really happened – you’ll see why when you read it! I worried a lot about THE POINT OF IT ALL and REDEMPTION, but those things don’t really matter. I think if the gang had just turned themselves in or let themselves be caught, the punishment wouldn’t have been thaaaaat bad – for a bunch of mostly white rich kids? In Southern California? They would have been fine.

The writing took a little bit to warm up to – Billy takes a lot of asides to drop some knowledge. If you like knowing/learning trivia tidbits, you may enjoy The Tragic Age more than someone who does not. It’s a lot of very no-nonsense stuff, but I found it very interesting…once I got used to it.

 

And now – the giveaway! My friends at Macmillan have provided 3 copied of Tragic Age for me to give away. This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada and, in the interest of full disclosure: the books will be sent from the publisher, not from me – so I WILL have to give your address and personal information to someone else.
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Paperback Recap: January 2015

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I normally post my monthly recaps on the first Friday following the end of the month, but I have a special post tomorrow so I had to change some things around. I also decided to stop making monthly graphics because I hate them, this is possibly just a filler (or I’m making matching ones for the other little banners through the post – I haven’t decided yet).

 

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Favorite Books in January:  I read 16 books in January and 10 of those were re-reads. I regret nothing…except maybe not getting through the Lumatere Chronicles a little faster. Since I only finished Finnikin and Froi in January, those were my favorite reads.

Favorite Movie/TV in January: I started watching Parenthood not realizing the series would be ending like two weeks later and everything has been spoiled, basically, so thanks for that people on twitter.

Favorite Musical Discovery in January: I’ve been re-vamping my workout playlist so I’ve really come to appreciate some dirty ass 90’s rap and also Nicki Minaj.

Favorite PR of January: HAHAHA okay.  I started a new program on top of my regular training, so I’ve been PRing like a madwoman every week – almost every day, even.

  • Back Squat 5RM: 198#. I wish I would have just done 200#, but the kilo plates still confuse me. That’s an 11# increase from a PR set 8 days before.
  • Deadlift 5RM: 250# – I felt like I could have kept going up, but I was super tired that day and my hamstrings are STILL sore, so it’s probably for the best. That was a 32# increase from only 4 days before…and a 54# increase from 16 days before, and both of those were PRs as well.
  • Strict Press: I couldn’t break 90# for FOREVER and then I did. 1RM: 93#, 3RM: 85#, 5RM: #80
  • Freestanding Handstand Pushup: 3! I’d been able to do one and crash on my head, but one day I just decided to practice them and did 2 in a row..then 3 in a row! My gymnastics skill level is super low because I obviously focus more on the weightlifting side, so this is huge for me. Of course, every video I took that day was of a fail haha!

There were more, but these are the ones related to my programing (except the last one) and it’s been amazing. I also PRed my rest days – I took 3 days off the last week of January to rest from all this madness.

 

Top Blog Thing in January:  I signed up for this round of the OTSP Secret Sister and I’m SO EXCITED. It’s only been a week or so (at the time of this writing) but I’m already having so much fun!

Top Blog Search Terms in January:

  • goodbye letter to boyfriend
  • there are two important rules in life
  • girl before the mirror crotique
  • 2 month anniversary text

 

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My book club finally had it’s first meeting! I relinquished control months ago, and we finally met up for coffee and it was so much fun! Of course I was the last to arrive and had to walk up to strangers and be like “are you my book club?” but it went okay and I got it on the first try.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Fantasy Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read Yet

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking about the Top Ten Books from a genre we can’t believe we haven’t read yet. I feel like I only recently really started enjoying fantasy – and there’s just SO MUCH out there that I’m never going to catch up – so that’s what I’m going with.

 

1. Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch: Do I even know what this is about? Not really. Do I know I need to read it? YES.

2. The Archived by Victoria Schwab: This is…something to do with books? Maybe? I don’t know but I bought it (and The Unbound) and haven’t read it yet.

3. The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima: There are so many books in this series that I’m hesitant to start it until I have a lot of free reading time since I’m a series binger.

4. The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron: Did I see this on the shelf at the bookstore and decide to buy it because everyone had been talking about it that day on twitter? Yes. Did I already have the first book checked out from the library at the time? Yes.

5. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: Everything I know about this I learned from gifs on tumblr.

6. Anything Tamora Pierce: My first coach actually recommended her to me, but there is SO MUCH and I don’t even know where to begin to start.

7. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier: This has only recently hit my radar, but it hit pretty hard. I’m sure I had time for this 12 years ago when it came out, so why am I only learning about it now?

8. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: Here’s the thing. Fantasy books are typically very long, and part of a very long series full of other very long books. It makes it hard to find time to read them all, especially all in a row (unless you forsake all other books like I did with The Lumatere Chronicles for practically the whole month of January…).

9. All the Brandon Sanderson (besides Mistborn which I have read and am re-reading at some point so I can continue the series)

10. Fairest by Marissa Meyer: Okay I know these are technically considered Science Fiction but the point is I have had this book on my shelf for almost a week and not read it and that is really bumming me out right now.