Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Are Hard to Read

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Books That Are Hard to Read. I feel like I’m going for a more literal interpretation, rather than books that are hard to read due to subject matter.

  1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: I will be shocked if this isn’t on every list this week
  2. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
  3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace: Mostly due to size, footnotes, and my own issue of putting Infinite Jest down for 2 years with 80 pages left and then having to power through to the end to finally finish it

That’s it. I guess I don’t read books that are hard to read.

Coffee Talk: Reading Schedule, Part Two

 

coffeetalk1Back in March, I posted my first Coffee Talk regarding Reading Schedules. Since then I’ve made some changes, so I wanted to talk about them again.

Since around mid-August, I’ve basically stopped following a reading schedule.
(screeching tires, etc.)

It’s true. I, who loved the hyper-organization of a color-coded google calendar working in tandem with an also color-coded spreadsheet of reading and posting dates and information, have called it quits on that system.

Enter “That New New”: I still have the calendar to track release dates and dates for posts to go up, but they are only scheduled after I’ve read the book. I’m keeping my TBR spreadsheets so I have a general idea of the order I ~should go in (based on release date), and it’s working out pretty well. I can read the books I’m more excited for, books from the library, books I’ve already shelled out money for, and still get my reviews posted in a mostly timely manner.

I’m not saying it’s gone perfectly, but I got tired of constantly shifting around my reading schedule if it took me longer than expected to read a book or if I checked out too many books from the library.

This also frees me up from posting everyday, which I’ve been lax on in the past anyway. I have too many other things I want to do that don’t include feeling chained to a schedule for something I’m supposed to enjoy. I’m already freely DNFing, but I think this system takes some of the pressure I’ve put on myself.

Now that it’s been over a month, I can say that I still love the freedom of it, but I’m not reading as much. Still a few books a week, but I don’t feel like I have to push myself.

It used to be my personal policy to review books within the two weeks before release date, but now I’m lucky if I read the book a week after release day – all those September titles have really made a mess of things.

I’ve been seeing a lot of people quit their reading schedules lately, or find more unique ways to go about it. I’d love to hear about your system in the comments!

 

The Game is Afoot

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Title/Author: Jackaby by William Ritter
Publication Date/Publisher: September 16, 2014/Algonquin Young Readers
Series: No
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley and Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
Rating: 2 stars
From Goodreads:
“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion–and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

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“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.”

Jackaby, in two words, is crazy disappointing. Almost all the reviews I’ve seen so far say the same thing. You say “Doctor Who + Sherlock” and everyone is going to get pretty excited and expectations will be super high.

Jackaby is….fine. Really. It’s fine. I thought it read much younger than it meant to and was a lot of set-up for little payoff, but it was…fine. I mean, it took me three days to read 40% of this (without reading anything else at the same time) and I’m unemployed but it’s….fine.

Abigail Rook is the plucky female companion, even though this is her story. I loved her love (and want) of adventure. Jackaby is more or less Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. Other characters include a ghost and a duck and a bumbling police force.

Is it possible I would have enjoyed this more if I wasn’t in the middle of a Doctor Who re-watch and in the midst of some of my favorite episodes? Maybe. Or without the comparison to two of my favorite shows? Maybe, but I would have made the comparison myself.
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Sherlock meets Doctor Who is actually quite apt – Jackaby is definitely Moffat’s Sherlock, but the Doctor Who portion is not aliens but mythical creatures (trolls, kobolds, redcaps, etc). This description led me to believe it would be much better than it was.

Take These Broken Wings and Learn to Fly

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Title/Author: Blackbird by Anna Carey
Publication Date/Publisher: September 16, 2014/Harper Teen
Series: Yes, Blackbird Duology #1
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
Rating: 2 stars

From Goodreads:

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her.

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.

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What a disappointing run of books I’ve been reading. Blackbird is technically interesting, but I’m surprised the second person narration didn’t make me DNF. Each time I picked the book up it took a little while to get re-acclimated to it though, so I recommend reading it all in one sitting, if possible. Actually, I recommend watching The Pest instead of reading Blackbird.

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The second person narration puts YOU as the main character of the story. This should make things feel more immediate and thrilling, but it didn’t really work that way for me. Even when people are being murdered right in front of YOU, there is no emotional connection to them, because YOU have no memories.And because YOU don’t seem to actually feel any emotions.


YOU keep making terrible decisions. Like, I would totally completely trust the first hot guy I saw, and go live with him even though I plan to steal from him again and again. There are some fade-to-black(bird) sexy times and every teen character in this book is super unsupervised (minus the tracking/surveillance), so this makes me think that these characters should have been written as older than 17/18. Not because of the implied sex parts, but because if you’re going to make your characters operate as grown-ups, then what is the point of being a teenager? All the teenage obstacles are irrelevant in Blackbird due to lack of parental/authority figures – even the cops are failures – so they are basically all 25 years old.


YOU are obviously on the run and have no memories of family, Ben (drug dealing heartthrob/savior) has an dead father and an institutionalized mother, Izzie (Ben’s neighbor’s granddaughter who YOU befriend and also try to steal from again and again) keeps turning up and YOU keep putting her in danger. Why do these people keep helping YOU?!


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Blackbird is being pushed as The Maze Runner meets Code Name Verity, and I’m sorry, but WHAT?! I guess it’s like The Maze Runner because there is running and I didn’t like it? But Code Name Verity is a literary masterpiece and I’m extremely offended by this comparison. Is it because…the main character is a girl? I still say to just watch The Pest instead. Proof (I know this is not from The Pest because it’s from my second favorite movie ever okay):


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Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR. I’m posting about my new lack of reading schedule on Monday, but let me just say that this was super hard to do without my old google calendar.

  1. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas: I want to start over the The Assassin’s Blade and read all the books! You know how much I love a binge read.
  2. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson: I need some more #mistbornfeels!
  3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater: Pre-ordered the fancy bookplate edition SO FAST and waiting to be approved on Netgalley for SO LONG
  4. Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho: Enough of the fantasy, I always feel like reading ALL THE CONTEMPORARY in the fall (and all the other seasons)
  5. Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas: I thought Ask Again Later was pretty cute, so I’m excited for this one
  6. Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot: Does anyone else get a We Were Liars-ish vibe from this?
  7. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray: Enough with the contemporary – I can’t wait to get to this gorgeous book (though I did just realize it’s A Thousand and not ONE Thousand and that maybe bothers me a little bit?)
  8. Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch: YES YES YES YES YES
  9. Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: So far I’ve heard that this is better than The Naturals, so I’m totally on board. I would really like to know how many books are in this series though – is this the end or will there be another?
  10. The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris: Okay, back to contemporary. I haven’t read any Rachel Harris yet, but all of her books are pretty close to 4 stars or higher on Goodreads, so I’m excited to give this a shot.

I can’t wait to see everyone’s TBRs this week so I can add to my ever growing one!

Get Mad, Then Get Over It

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Title/Author: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
Publication Date/Publisher: September 16, 2014/Balzer + Bray
Series: Yes, Don’t Get Mad #1
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
Rating: 2 stars
From Goodreads:
Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

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Two stars is generous for Get Even. While I applaud the diversity of the four main girls, the biggest question I’m left with – even with a crazy cliffhanger – is WHY?

Get Even is confusing from the get go, jumping around from girl to girl for what seems like an endless amount of time. Eventually we make it through all 4 girls and I realize why there are usually only 3 girls in a friendship – there is way too much going on, and it’s presented in a way that works as the story goes on, but not so much for meeting all the girls.

After that, there’s just so many vague hints and so much finger pointing I can take. It took me forever to finish Get Even, because nothing really happens. Towards the end, we’re finally going to get some answers – and instead get a cliffhanger ending. I doubt I will be continuing the series, and I probably need to break up with Gretchen McNeil.
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Get Even is billed as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. I would say Get Even is almost exactly Pretty Little Liars (the show – I haven’t read the books), but it’s zero, and I mean ZERO, The Breakfast Club. Maybe half the story takes place in the school, and even then: it’s a private religious school, everything is centered around a play – not detention, and The Breakfast Club is iconic. Almost 30 years later, and it’s still influencing movies today! I quote The Breakfast Club fairly regularly in my real life – I doubt anyone will be doing the same for Get Even.
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DNF: The Perilous Sea

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Title/Author: The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
Publication Date/Publisher: September 16, 2014/Balzer + Bray
Series: Yes, The Elemental Trilogy #2
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
Rating: DNF
From Goodreads:
After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother’s prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

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I normally save my DNFs for a round-up, but my recent DNFs haven’t been noteworthy. I feel like I read enough of The Perilous Sea to share my thoughts about it.

I requested The Perilous Sea without first reading The Burning Sky. I do this more than I would like to admit and it almost never works out for me. The Burning Sky was only okaaaay for me, though I found I was only making myself finish it because it was a book I purchased (kindle daily deal some months ago).

The Perilous Sea continues right along with everything that I had a problem with in The Burning Sky: shoddy world building, overly ambitious, and I just didn’t care about what happens to the characters. At least in The Perilous Sea, Titus is not everything that’s wrong with schools these days. In The Burning Sky he was so entranced by Iolanthe’s legs that he couldn’t think (girls can’t wear shorts because it distracts boys), he does some creepy things in the Crucible (actually, this probably continues in The Perilous Sea), and I was actively rooting AGAINST the two of them to get together.

In The Perilous Sea, we’re suddenly in his-n-hers AND past-n-present perspectives. The past and present back and forth did not work for me AT ALL, and I think it might be the lack of memories + magic that has still never been explained.

I read to 37%. I probably could have kept going, but the level of boredom verged on “suffering through it” – and that’s how I know it’s time to give up.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I NEED to Read More of

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking us for the Top Ten authors we’ve read one book from and NEED to read more. This list houses my shame.

  1. Melina Marchetta: What if I just read Jellicoe Road 50 more times? THEN WHAT?! I hear awesome things about her fantasy series (and own most of it) but I need to read one fantasy series at a time – preferably in a binge, so you can see where this is going.
  2. Cath Crowley: Graffiti Moon is my favorite and I’m just afraid.
  3. Sarah J Maas: I bought the whole Throne of Glass series (including the novellas book) – and I’ve still only read Throne of Glass. Once I get all my other fantasy series wrapped up, I’m binging the heck out of this series.
  4. Brandon Sanderson: Or B-Sands, as I’ve come to call him. I own at least two more of his books, but I’ve still only read Mistborn.
  5. John Corey Whaley: I loooooved Noggin, and I’ve heard wonderful things about Whaley’s debut.
  6. Jenny Han: I didn’t love To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before, but I am interested in reading more of Jenny Han’s work.
  7. Tiffanie DeBartolo: One: I need to read How to Kill a Rockstar. Two: I need Tiffanie DeBartolo to write many more books.

And “authors who need to have more than one book out because I’m dying for more”: Tess Sharpe, Julie Murphy, Pierce Brown, and Katja Millay.goo

ARC Review: Sway

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Title/Author: Sway by Kat Spears

Publication Date/Publisher: September 16, 2014/St. Martin’s Griffin
Series: No
Source and Format: I received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.
Rating: 1 stars
From Goodreads:
High school senior Jesse Alderman, or Sway as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop.  He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs.  It’s all business with Jesse.  He has few close friends and he never lets emotions get in the way.

But when Ken, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things.  While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s younger brother who’s belligerent and self-pitying after spending a lifetime dealing with cerebral palsy.  Suddenly Jesse is visiting old folks at nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him.  The tinman really does have a heart after all.

A Cyrano De Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion–until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel SOMEthing, again.

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Is this a joke book? Like…was what I just read for real?
There is not even one redeeming quality in Sway. The portrayal of women: awful. The portrayal of dis- and differently-abled people: awful. The characters: awful. And unrealistic.
If I didn’t already know, I would be extremely surprised to learn that Sway was written by a woman. The girls in this book are portrayed as gold-diggers, drug addicts, sex fiends, or any combination of the three. Unless they’re too fat to be desirable by anyone. Or unless they’re Bridget Smalley – the hottest, smartest, sainty-est girl who will only show her true colors to Jesse. Too bad he doesn’t realize he likes her until he’s set her up with another guy…after that guy paid him $200 to do so.
Bridget’s brother, Pete, has Cerebral Palsy and volunteers her time (sainty-ness) at the center that helped Pete when he was younger. Jesse also starts showing up there to get to know Bridget so he can sell her. The number of times Jesse uses the R word is excessive. Once would have been too many times, yet there it is, again and again – sometimes to Pete’s face. This does not stop Pete from idolizing Jesse and becoming his best friend. Other minor characters with disabilities are referred to by their disabilities, even after we know their names (see: Cynthia a.k.a. Flipper Girl).
Ah, Jesse. Musical genius, regular school genius (he pays a college student to do his school work so he can have more free time to sell drugs and teenage girls), sad loner boy (see: ~mysterious), top dog of the high school. Even the principal comes to him for favors. This particular moments happens early in the book, and I should have known to DNF then (or maybe when Jesse made rape jokes to his female best friend?).
Pardon me if my California is showing, but is ANY of this actually happening in the world? Obviously, the racism and ableism and all the other -isms contained in Sway exist because I see it even if it’s not all directed towards me, but in what universe is the principal coming to a 17 year old to take care of school problems?
And the ending. With 5% left, I had my fingers crossed that it would not end the way I was expecting and OF COURSE it does and I would rather flush my kindle down the toilet than ever have to think about this book again.
Oh, I guess the ONE redeeming thing is that Kat Spears had the (2) black characters call each other “my Negro” instead of the actual N-word, and that is the only good thing I can think of about this book.

Paperback Recap: Two Year Anniversary

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How can two years feel like forever and no time at all?

Today is my two year wedding anniversary! The time has absolutely flown by, but it also seems like I’ve never not been married. Our story so far is pretty short, but I’m going to share it anyway.

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We met on September 12, 2010 and married on September 12, 2012. I wanted to hold out for 10/11/12, but apparently remembering two dates was out of the question for someone. I was proposed to via text message, and we were engaged for 7 weeks. The picture above is from my birthday about 7 months after we started dating and two months into living together. Marshall had just accidentally shaved my head. I married him anyway.

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This is from our first dating anniversary. We had the bright idea to go camping, though I’m not what anyone would call “outdoors-y”. We spent way too much on all the gear and only lasted one night because Big Sur in September is freezing. We got married on our second dating anniversary, and for our (second) first anniversary, we went to the little Dutch town of Solvang – about halfway between Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. We forgot to take pictures.

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We met at a stoplight. We were both blasting MMMBOP and looked over at each other. It was basically love at first sight. We pulled into a parking lot, went for coffee, and the rest is history.

Okay, none of that is true. We met on an online dating site, but Marshall thinks that’s too embarrassing. I made up a new, even more embarrassing story to use instead.

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I don’t have advice or answers or anything. Everyone is different and everyone’s relationships are going to be different. We basically eloped and it was completely unromantic and we only have like, 7 wedding photos and one time I wore my wedding dress to work because I really needed to do laundry. I have yet to wear my shoes again, but they the third most expensive part of the wedding.

Okay, I lied again. I totally do have some advice. IF you will not regret it and especially IF you don’t have friends/family close to you – physically or emotionally – I completely recommend eloping. It was just us, our dog, my mother-in-law, her dog, and the Justice of the Peace at the Justice of the Peace’s house. His parent’s wedding photo is the focal point of our 7 wedding photos and it’s totally creepy, but it was right for us. My only regret is that we didn’t take more photos, and eventually I would like to get a photographer and take some nice pictures – especially without the stress/nerves of it being my wedding day.

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Anyway, if two years feels so long and so short, I can’t even imagine what 10-25-50 years is like. I’m not a person who gushes about relationship things, so this is not the outpouring of love I had hoped to write (especially since we’ve had like three fights since I started writing this and it keeps turning into NEVER GET MARRIED).

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In conclusion, I am not actually a giant and happy two years, babycat!