January Book Haul #26

Book Haul Base Banner

https://i.imgur.com/XS0XVS1.gifHappy Hump Day! Today I figured I’d do a haul. Now, at the beginning of the year, I made a resolution to keep my book buying to 4-5 books per year. I’ve since then added a bit of detail onto it.

I’ve decided that if I buy a manga or graphic novel (not a regular book) with the intention of reading it as soon as I get home, and then actually read it when I get home, it doesn’t count towards the five. I decided on this for two reasons: 1 – the whole point of my limit is to keep my TBR from growing, and if I read it right away, the TBR doesn’t grow, and 2 – manga takes like thirty minutes to read. I feel like if I counted them towards my five, I’d never actually buy them because of how fast I get through them, even though I’m actively following many series at the moment. I’d fall behind. 😛 So manga don’t count… if I read them right away. If I buy them and don’t get to them immediately, then they count.

Does that makes sense? I have no idea. Basically I’m just giving way to my impulses I suppose. What else is new.

Anyways. The books!

I got a lot of YA, and all fantasy. I dig it, though.

Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas – Haven’t gotten to these yet. I rather liked the world expansion in books three and four, so hoping I like these too.

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb – The fourth and last book in the Rain Wild Chronicles, this series has really grown on me. I’m buddy reading it with Zezee and we’re both digging it so far!

Crooked Kingdom and King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – I buzzed through the Six of Crows duology earlier this month after getting Crooked Kingdom, and am currently in the middle of King of Scars. I wrote a full blabber on Crooked Kingdom, and intend to for King of Scars as well as soon as I finish it.


I also got one graphic novel this month that falls into the category above – I bought it and read it immediately (so yay, doesn’t increased TBR) That is Fence volume 2 by C. S. Pacat.


And that’s it! I think I’ll keep separating out the five books and the ‘immediate read’ manga/graphic novels. Until next month, happy reading!

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
YA Fantasy
Read Aug 23 – 27th
648 pages
Throne of Glass, Book 4
Spoiler-free blabber

I feel like these books are hard to review. Objectively, there are a lot of problems with them, but subjectively, I tend to adore them.

To prove my words, I wrote that top bit there and then I sat here for five minutes staring at my screen, trying to figure out how to start. Hm…

Queen of Shadows was a book on my 10 in 2018 list, the second year in a row it appeared there. I read the first three books rapid fire back in January of 2016 and then got distracted. This read was the second attempt. I picked it up once in 2017 and got a chapter into it before realizing I had forgotten character relations, major plots points, and all sorts of things from the first three. I ended up watching a spoilery in-depth review of Heir of Fire before jumping into it this time, and while my memory was spotty on it for a while, it definitely was a better experience.

Going into this one, I had heard it was a party-splitter, that some fans adored it and others really, really disliked it. I read it, waiting and waiting for this opinion-altering event to occur, and… I never really found one. Overall themes in the book could be off-putting I suppose, but I don’t think I quite understand why this book is so disliked by some when obviously they had liked the first three. I don’t really see how it was so different overall. So, if you are in the ‘didn’t like this’ party, enlighten me, because I am truly curious what I missed.

I think my favorite thing about this book and Maas’s books in general, is how easy they are to read. I tend to pick them up when I’m in a reading slump, because without fail I fly through them. I think I read this 650 page book in… four days? Maybe five? I really buzzed through it, and considering I’d only been reading manga beforehand because of  the slump, I’d say that’s pretty good.

I’ve mentioned in past reviews of the series that Celaena or Aelin or whatever her name is, is not my favorite character. She rubs me the wrong way. I feel like her abilities are too much for the amount of training she’s received compared to her enemies, some obviously much older and much more experienced. I guess she just comes across as a bit unbelievable to me. Though, she’s nowhere near as bad as my favorite Mary Sue. And honestly, I think I liked her more this book than I have in any of its predecessors. Originally in book one, she was very immature – threw tantrums, was vindictive. I think seeing her actually have interpersonal relations with people has helped. And I very much like ‘Aelin’ more than ‘Celaena’. Her character development has been going pretty well and maybe one day, I’ll actually like her. Maybe.

So, I mentioned there are problems with the book objectively, the main character being a bit over-inflated being one. Another is the age of many of the main players and leaders of factions. Everyone from the resistance to the assassins to the guards are in their late teens or early twenties, with the exception of the centuries-old fae who is somehow able to get along with everyone with no maturity or generational-gap issues. He just… fits right in, but you would think he’d have more problems adjusting. A third is the eventual almost-guaranteed attraction of every male character to Aelin. At one point or another, all of them decide they’re crushing on her or more, regardless of their age. Heck, even her cousin gets territorial over her (though not for romantic reasons, don’t worry, it’s not gross). A fourth is all the ‘alpha-male’ bull-doody that results from issue three. Aelin herself calls it out, but she does it in a way that says ‘Oh you guys. Quit fighting over little ol’ me’ and never actually addresses the root of the behavior or why it’s weird for them all to be posturing to each other over this 19-year-old woman.

So yes, objectively, issues. None of these issues are particularly new, they’ve been in the series since book one and just growing broader with the addition of more characters. Do they bug me? Yes. Are they enough for me to dislike the series? Weirdly, no. But, I can see why they’d be too much for some people. I feel like if I wasn’t able to fly through the books as easily as I am, these issues would be much more of a factor for me. But I at least want to acknowledge them.

Plot-wise I rather liked this book. I liked the expansion of the world, I liked the subplots of the side characters. I like Chaol and I really like Manon. The witch subplot chapters were some of my favorites, and I really like how she’s been developing and how her thirteen are actually starting to get personalities. When she was introduced last book, I found her interesting but her chapters were kinda flat. Aside from Manon herself, none of the characters in them were really given any opportunity to show that they were more than cardboard cut-outs. This book allowed for that, and I think that Manon’s First is one of my favorite characters in the series now. She’s pretty great.

Another thing I liked seeing was the friendship that developed between Aelin and one of the female characters that was mentioned earlier in the series and then forgotten about. She reappears in this book and actually gets a good dose of character development. It’s always nice to see a movie or book pass the Bechdel test, man. Just because a book has a main female lead doesn’t mean it passes, and it’s a bit sad that fails are so common. I think this relationship in particular is what made me dislike Aelin less in this book than I have in the others. I feel like this friendship was a much needed dynamic, and I hope it lasts.

And finally, as mentioned above, I flew through it. The writing was compelling enough to keep me reading for over a hundred pages a day, and that is the main reason why I liked it so much. The book was fun. It was enjoyable to read, and I found myself unable to put it down. It made me wanna break my book buying ban so I could go get the fifth one (but I didn’t, I’m making myself wait).

So overall, despite the issues this book has, I did rather like it, and I’m looking forward to the fifth one.

4.25/5 stars

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 3.1
229 pages
YA/basically new adult fantasy
Read May 17th – June 3rd

Spoilery Blabber

This book suffers from the ‘second book syndrome’ that the actual second book manages to avoid. I suppose it’s not surprising that this super common lull in a series would catch up with this one eventually. On one hand, this is a novella, so it’s unfair to judge it how I would a book. On the other hand, I’ve read other of Maas’s novellas set in already established series and they are way, way, way better than this one.

I’m not saying this was a bad book. It just wasn’t… good. Nothing happened. I felt like I was reading a fanfiction. You know, the ones where the fanfiction author pulls the characters out of the main story arc, sticks them in some unspecified point in the cannon plot and goes, ‘now how about they celebrate a holiday together’. Which is exactly what this book was, except we knew the plot took place after the ending of the third book.

Going into this, I had heard mixed things. Those still solidly on the Feyre/Rhys express seem to love this book. Me, along with those who have been a bit disenchanted at this point, were a bit more let down. For me I think it stems with the fact that this series peaked in book two. Book three was okay, and this one is probably a bit lower down than that.

I feel like if there was a bit more plot then it would have been better, but come book four, the author could just go ‘the winter solstice was last month and Feyre told Rhys that she’s ready for kids’. Because that’s literally the only important plot point in the entire thing. Otherwise, you get to read about shopping and painting and more shopping and how much Amren like jewels. Oh, and a sex scene that uses the word ‘shattered’ to mean ‘orgasm’ for some reason. Multiple times within the same scene. Like why ‘shattered’, all I can picture is the two goin’ at it and then Thanos pops in and snaps his fingers. At least Maas didn’t use the word ‘sheathing’ this time.

My issues with how the sex scenes are written in this book  could beworth a whole different post, so I won’t get into it anymore here I don’t think.

So overall, this book was okay. It wasn’t bad – there wasn’t really anything I disliked about it (except ‘shattered’… shudder) but there wasn’t anything that really drew me in, either.

And I don’t have anything else to say about it because nothing else happened in it.

So here we are.

3/5 stars

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas | Blabber

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
705 pages
Hardback
Read May 2 – May 13, 2017
A Court of Thorns and Roses, book 3
Spoiler-free blabber (for this book – possible spoilers for the first two books)


Reading this book allowed me to see what I like about Sarah J Maas’s books and what I don’t. I buzzed through the first two books in this series back in January and had been chewing at the bit for this one for a few months. I pre-ordered it, even – something I tend not to do unless the book is super special or signed or somethin’. But after coming off the buzz of A Court of Mist and Fury, I was super-eager for this one. I had rated that book five stars, but now looking back, there were issues in it that I had been blind to originally. I’m not changing the rating on that though – I loved it at the time and I still love it, but this latest book has pointed out some flaws in the series as a whole. Unfortunately these flaws were more apparent to me this time around than during the second book.

I’ll start with what I like about this book and this series as a whole:

Sarah J Maas’s writing is compelling – I also have issues with it but I’ll get to that later – but really, she can write a good, juicy, fast-paced story. I devour her books. They’re so much fun to read, so easy to fly through. The world she sets up takes a bit of time to develop, but I kinda fell in love with it. I wanna go see Velaris, people.

Her characters are good as well – the side characters at least. The main characters are alright – I don’t dislike them, I just find them a tad irksome. But the side characters I really like. Meaning, I’m very much looking forward to the continuation of these series bases on these characters. Maas is also really good at getting the reader (ie: me) to change opinions on characters from chapter to chapter. Some chapters, I hated Tamlin, others I felt sorry for him, others I liked him. Same with Feyre – my feelings towards her character are all over the place. But I really like that – that my mind isn’t set on ‘this character is this way and this is what I think’ like a stone. The variability of my perception just goes to show the characters themselves have more than one personality trait – that they’re actually developing throughout the series (woo!).

The plot I think, is neat too. It hopped from Beauty and the Beast in book one to Hades and Persephone in book two to… what? Was there a fairy tale entwined in book three? I have no idea, but pulling all the plot points together was really neat. Across these three books, so much happened, so much more than one over-arching plot, and I really dug it.

So as much as I liked the plot, the characters and the compelling writing of this book, I also had a laundry list of little ‘ehhh’ things that popped into my periphery while reading it:

First and foremost is Maas’s writing. Like I said above, she’s really good at keeping a fast pace and moving the story along but at the same time, her writing is rather uh… convenient, I guess is the best word to describe it. And maybe this is a strange complaint, but everything seemed to have its place in this book. All the characters kinda paired off, characters that had been alluded to throughout the series showed up at just the right time due to happenstance… It was just strange. The use of the blatant plot device, people: It’s in this book.

Second is Maas’s writing. By this I mean the inconsistency in communication. Okay, I get that Rhys and Feyre communicate via thought using the mating bond. That, sure, that’s fine. Buuuuut, there were so many times that Maas would write Feyre having full sentence communication with other characters by conveying meaning through their eyes. Like, seriously – she’d be all ‘Amrens eyes said ‘maybe we can try this thing that is a really complex idea together with two of us instead of four of us like I had planned. Totally telling you this by staring at you by the way”. It was weird. If at some point it had been pointed out that in this world that eyeballs could convey full messages to each other, then I’d be fine with it. But apparently everyone’s vision marbles are shouting things at each other throughout this whole book. Unsaid communication that nobody ever misinterpreted ever was a very common thing in this book, and it was weird. And eyeballs did so many things too – they burned, they glinted, they screamed, they did all sorts of stuff that eyeballs shouldn’t do, at least things that wouldn’t be able to be picked up by another living being via just looking at somebody. I want to have a deep and meaningful conversation on battle strategy via looking at someone. That would be neat, and I’m jealous I can’t do that while these people somehow can. 😛

The final, and honestly most goofy thing is Maas’s writing. By this, I mean sex scenes. The vocabulary used in these sex scenes had me in hysterics. So, I guess this could be a positive trait about these? I guess? I mean, if you’re looking to read about a couple boning and want to laugh hysterically while you’re doing it, then it’s definitely a good thing. If you’re after an actual love scene though that’s not funny and all but instead steamy or whatever adjective you wanna assign to it, you’re gonna be out of luck.

Because of the amount of boning in this book (which… isn’t as much as I was expecting, honestly. So go you, Maas), I’ve take the liberty of creating a list of things not to do while writing a sex scene:

  • Don’t use the word ‘sheathing’ when referring to intercourse. A vagina is not a sheath. A penis isn’t a sword.
  • Don’t use the word ‘sheathing’ more than once within the same paragraph.
  • Don’t say that breasts ‘tighten’ in anticipation. If you experience this, you should see a doctor. Nipples perk out? Sure. But if your whole boob just yells ‘ATTENTION’, then that’s a medical issue.
  • Please please come up with more than one way of letting a reader know a character is turned on. If I have to read about curling toes one more time, man…
  • At no point should your character ever ever ‘feel like a moonbeam’. What does that even mean.

So, if you’re in the middle of writing a novel that calls for a nice love scene, just follow these five easy steps to keep your reader from laughing and then getting their SO to dramatically read the passage out-loud as if it was a performance piece. I mention this because I totally did it and it was so so very entertaining.

So while Maas’s sex scenes aren’t the best, they’re still amusing to read. Whether or not she intended them that way, I have no idea, but the fact that I was still enjoying myself while reading them means they didn’t really take away from my overall rating of the book. They just made me attribute this book to being super silly at times.


Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t love it I don’t think, but it was a nice, fun, (sometimes probably unintentionally funny) read. I like the series as a whole and I think this book was a nice, fitting ending to the trilogy. Endings are make-or-break for me, and this one handled loose strings rather cleanly (sometimes… too cleanly, but then again, it’s a weird complaint). I liked it. I’m very much looking forward to the companion books for this trilogy and will likely gobble them up when they come out (even if the word ‘sheathing’ is present in there, yeesh).

Rating: 4/5 stars

May Currently Reading | ’17

Hello it’s May! 😀 That means it’s not April! That means my project is over! I know I’ve been yapping about this damn thing for months, BUT I’M JUST SO HAPPY IT’S OVER OH MY GOODNESS.

And now on to what I’m currently reading! 😀


The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb

The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)I’m the closest to finishing this one out of any of them – less than 100 pages left! And it’s getting preeeetty intense, man. This one is a buddy read with Zezee :”D We’ve been slowly tackling all of Hobb’s books for a while now – it’s fun!

I have a weird love-hate relationship with Hobb’s books. I really like everything I’ve read from her, but reading her books just takes so much out of me emotionally, man. It’s draining.

 

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Gene: An Intimate HistoryThis one is being listened to on audio. I’ve been slipping with this one lately though – I find that if I’m under stress *cough*project*cough* I just wanna blast Scandanavian power metal on the way to work instead of listening to science. But now that stress is gone, science it is. :”D

 

 

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting by Ed Greenwood

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (Forgotten Realms)This one has been and likely will continue to be on my currently reading list for a while – it’s a ‘about’ book for a dungeons and dragons setting – not exactly something you binge, haha. I’m enjoying it though – it’s allowing me to flesh out the background of my character nicely. 😀

 

 

The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

The Broken Eye (Lightbringer, #3)GUYS. I’VE BEEN WAITING TO READ THIS BOOK FOR FOREVER. I finished the second one last month and have been waiting to pick this up until after I had finished my coding project – I knew if I picked it up before that I would never finish the code, haha. So I made it my reward to myself for finishing. 😀

I’M LOVING IT SO FAR, BY THE WAY.

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)I’m totally on this train now, peeps. I wasn’t for the loooongest time. And then I read the first book and found it to be decent if not a bit unhealthy and then the second one was so much better (except the word ‘sheathing’ was used too much). And this third one – I’m rather digging it so far. It’s definitely highlighted some goods and bads about the book, but I’ll get to those in the blabber I write about the thing when I’m done with it. Because there will definitely be a blabber, yo.

So far I’ve figured out the wings bit, but still am clueless about the ruin bit.

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And that’s it! I hope to finish at least a few of these before picking up more. Five books at once is a looooot. Happy reading!

Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 562
Read January 9, 2016 – January 21, 2016

I know I’m not the first one to talk about this book. Far from it. But I still think it warranted yet another review. The Throne of Glass series is one that I was very hesitant to pick up, and if you follow my blog, you know this already. It’s one of those series that’s been hyped into oblivion to the point where if you read it and don’t find it to be the second coming, you’ll likely be very disappointed.

Well, it’s not the second coming. This book is far from perfect, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it nonetheless. I think my biggest issue with this book (well, series as a whole) is the main character. I have trouble connecting with her. I can’t put my finger on why exactly. Everyone always refers to her as this badass character who should be revered as this awesome strong female lead. While I can’t deny she has potential as a strong main character, the term ‘badass’ doesn’t quite fit I don’t think. Sure, she’s skilled, but she’s also nineteen and can be rather egotistical. (Nothing against nineteen year olds, promise)

I think that’s why I enjoyed this book so much. This one in particular, along with the prequel novellas. In this book, Celaena is shown that no, she can’t be the most powerful thing out there without having to put a ton of work into it. She isn’t automatically better than her enemies in this book. In first two books, she had an upper hand over basically everyone due to this assassin background she had, everyone was constantly wowed by it, but not in this one. She’s no longer automatically the strongest or the fastest. She wants to be so, obviously, but she realizes she has to work for it. I feel like she went through a decent bit of character development in this one and I enjoyed seeing it.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this one was all the new characters, perspectives and world building that went on. Manon is introduced, who is a fascinating character (though I’m having trouble connecting with her too I’m afraid, regardless of the fact that I like her storyline). I like how small details from the novellas are tying into this book. I’m very happy I read them ahead of time. A big scheme is slowly unfolding and it had me reading this book like a storm. I will be definitely borrowing the next one soon, and I’m looking forward to actually being caught up with this thing and not having to worry about coming across spoilers.

So overall, I think this is a strong addition to the story. To me, it made it so much more than a YA fantasy romance-thing. It feels like it has depth now, and I really dig it.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Today I Eat My Hat

Today, you may all laugh at me and say “I told you so, I told you so.”

If you remember, a few months ago there was a top 5 Wednesday post of ‘Books I’ll never read. Ever’. It was a fun post and all the books on it at the time I was certain I would never read ever. Here is my post, if you’re interested.

Well guess what book I’ve picked up as of last night. My number one choice on that list, Throne of Glass. I saw it in my local library and it was in my arms before my brain processed what had happened. By then, it was too late. I was doomed.

Currently five chapters in. Not wowed yet, but from what I’ve heard that typically doesn’t happen ’til book 2.

So yes. Just do you know. I’m a giant hypocrite. My lesson here is I shouldn’t say ‘never’, I suppose.

Happy reading. :”D