Monday, December 29, 2014

TTT: Top Fourteen Books of 2014

Top Fourteen Books of 2014
I missed this topic a few weeks ago due to finals and such, so I thought I'd tack it on to this week. I'd much rather create this list anyhow. So here goes, my top ten  fourteen books of 2014.

Emma1. Emma by Jane Austen
This. Book. (And though I feel like I will be saying that a lot in this post, I'm serious. THIS book). Unpopular(ish) opinion: I LOVE Emma Woodhouse. She's so flawed, but usually well-intentioned. She's the epitome of a good-hearted slytherin. At the beginning of the novel she needs to do a lot of growing, but the glorious thing is: She grows. Her character development is phenomenal, and her and Knightley have the kind of relationship I want. They aren't afraid to correct and teach one another about the world and themselves, and they make each other better for knowing one another.
And I read this book at the perfect time, as I was watching the Emma Approved webshow as I read the book, which really added to the experience for me.
The Night Circus

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This book is pure undiluted magic. The tone and the characters work together effortlessly to create a beautiful tapestry of a story. The setting is created perfectly, slowly and subtly until the reader is totally immersed in this world of whimsy and mystery. I listened to the audiobook of this, which is read by Jim Dale (who read the Harry Potter audiobooks), which just made it that much more magical an experience. I cannot recommend this book, or this audiobook, highly enough.
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

3. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
I made it my goal this year to read more by inspiring women and girls. So, when I heard about Malala, I had to read her book. And it did not disappoint, actually she kind of blew my mind with her thoughtful evaluation of Pakistan's past and present and her hopes for the future. She truly is one of the greatest young women of our generation, and her story is inspiring and a tad heartbreaking, but ultimately filled with hope. She deserves every bit of her Nobel Peace Prize.
The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)

4. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
THIS WHOLE SERIES. Wow. This ranks among my favorite series of all time, with some of my favorite characters. Vin. Elend. Sazed. Tensoon. Breeze. Spook. Wow. Just thinking about The Hero of Ages makes me feel like crying my eyes out, but I am so thankful for this series and all of the adventures it took me on. Brandon Sanderson became one of my very favorite authors this year, and I will love his books until the end of time.

The Watch That Ends the Night
5. The Watch that Ends the Night by Allan Wolf
Heartbreaking. Beautiful. An ethereal kind of grit. That's how I would describe this book. It is the mostly true stories of twenty actual people who were on the Titanic. I say mostly because the author did a whole lot of research, but there were some places he had to guess to fill the story. This book is all in verse from twenty different perspectives, and if that sounds at all confusing, I promise you this book was NOT that. It flowed so beautifully. The story was so powerful, made more powerful every time you think about how these people actually lived and died almost a hundred years ago. This book made me laugh and cry and cheer and scream. It changed me.

I Am the Messenger

6. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Speaking of books that changed me. I see life differently because if this book and how it shook me to my core. It was both large and intimate, beautiful and intense, frightening and heartwarming. It dealt with the realities of life and how they can grind you down, but also it dealt with how powerful and important life can be, how you can change lives for the better just by existing. And it dealt with so many other things, almost more than you would believe could fit into a 300 page book. Markus Zusak is an absolute genius, and I can't wait to read what he writes next.

The Age of Miracles

7. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Ethereal and haunting. The perfect combination of science fiction and literary fiction, telling the world that the two can and should exist together. The language was beautiful and lyrical, dipping into poetic at some points. And the story was engrossing and interesting, a real evaluation of human nature and our ability to adjust to even the worst of situations. It talked about how life goes on, and how we let it, and the reality of youth. It talked about what it would feel like to be young in a dying world.


8. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Super-Villains and epic amounts of evil and sass. This book had it all, devilish plots, and phenomenal characterization. The format was inventive and so intriguing. The writing was clear and dynamic. The action was exhilarating. I have recommended this book to so many people this year, friends and family members alike, and not one has been disappointed. This book crosses preconceived genre boundaries and is perfect for anyone interested in a good story executed brilliantly.

9. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)I'm not completely sure how to describe this book other than to say that it is so phenomenal that I cannot describe it. The writing in this book is gorgeous and evocative, foreign and enchanting. This story is expansive and marvelous, and I fell in love with these characters. Kvothe is complex and mischievous and honorable (mostly). Kvothe is a character for the ages, complex but understandable, clever but flawed. The relationships in this book are so well-crafted, between Kvothe and his teachers, Kvothe and Auri, Kvothe and Denna, and Simmon, and Elodin, and Bast. This book is everything fantasy should be, everything fiction should be. It makes you feel things, took you on adventures, and immersed you in an interesting and complex world. It took one book to convince me that Patrick Rothfuss is a master, and I don't think I will ever doubt that.

Tales of the Jazz Age10. Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Here's the thing. If you were to ask me my favorite book, first I would tell you that it was impossible to give you an answer, that I love too many books. If you asked me again, I'd tell you the same thing and possibly have an existential crisis instead of coming up with an answer. But if you pressed me hard enough, I would eventually choose The Great Gatsby as my favorite novel, as it is a work of absolute art that gets to the heart of humanity. So, I knew I needed to read more Fitzgerald. I decided to try some short stories. AND HE CHANGED MY LIFE AGAIN. These short stories are unique and introspective and brilliant. Each story, however complex or simple, makes a statement and creates empathy or understanding on the part of the reader. Fitzgerald was a genius and one of the most talented writers I believe our world has seen.

11. Undivided by Neal Shusterman
Undivided (Unwind, #4)This series, since I first read Unwind close to four years ago, has never ceased to amaze me. Each book is better than the last, creating a intense, heartbreaking, and even downright satirical world. Shusterman never shoved these themes down the reader's throat, yet the books managed the various elements that it took on with care and precision. Besides just creating introspective thought in the reader, this series built characters that you loved and hated, cared for and wanted to see receive their just punishment. And this book wrapped up the series perfectly. There was tragedy and triumph, and an ending that wrapped together all the loose-ends, that showcased the growth of these characters. This book made me cry more than a few times, and I will hold this series as one of the best ever written for the rest of my life. Just so brilliant.

The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)12. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Speaking of the best series ever written, The Heroes of Olympus series ended this year, too. And what a way to end it. Did I have a few key issues with this last book? Yes. Would I have liked to see more Percy and Annabeth? Definitely. BUT, I loved finally seeing a true ending for these characters, one where they can stop fighting and rest knowing that the world is safe because of them (or as safe as it can be in their world). I cried and laughed for these characters, and I am so sad that this series is over, that this story has ended. But, I am so excited for Rick's next series, Magnus Chase, coming out next year.
Tess of the D'Urbervilles

13. Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
I read this book in Lit class first semester, and wow! I had never heard of it before, actually (I'd heard of Hardy, but not of Tess), but it was magnificent. My heart broke for Tess, but more than just my response, this story is so important and relevant even today. The way the sins of men influence Tess' life is hard to watch, her story filled with so much despair and hurt, but she is a heroine for the ages. The writing is beautiful, too, inciting emotion and passion in the mind of the reader. I highly recommend this book for those seeking a classic that will pull at your heartstrings while addressing life in a candid way.

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)

14. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
This series continues to amaze me. The books keep getting better, improving in quality with each book and creating more world and more loveable characters. This book introduced so many characters, including Aedion, Manon, and Rowan, all of whom I absolutely adore. I cannot wait to see how all these stories intersect in the rest of this series. And I already find myself getting sad that this series is half over, even though we have three more books to look forward to.

Top Six Graphic Novels of 2014
Friends With BoysI started reading Graphic Novels this year and found a great love for them. I think they are a great way to tell stories, and I adore reading them. So, I wanted to add a section on here to tell you about the best Graphic Novels I read this year.

1. Friends with Boys
This is the first Graphic Novel I ever read, and it did not disappoint. It's by Faith Erin Hicks, who is writing and illustrating a Graphic Novel with Rainbow Rowell sometime soon. So, I decided to check out her work, and it was SO GREAT. An adorable story with great characters and great art.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth

2. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth
This one is huge and so different from anything else I've seen. I love the way the shorter stories work together, and the art is absolutely gorgeous. If you are looking for something different and really, really interesting, I recommend this graphic novel.
Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1)

3. The Amulet Series by Kazu Kibiushi
This series has all the adventure of a middle-grade novel and the fun and interesting characters of a really great book. The art is fantastic, the colors and emotion of the stories are always on point. This story keeps you interested, wanting to turn the pages to see what is going to happen next. I can't wait to keep reading this series, though I'm sad that I'm caught up because now I have to wait for each new volume.

Through the Woods

4. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
A gorgeous, haunting anthology of horror stories told through a graphic novel. I particularly loved the color theme, a vivid blue and red, and black and white. I also particularly loved the text and the way it is used in the art. It weaves and wanders across the images, adding tone to the story. Not to mention these stories were creepy as heck, and beautiful in a creepy way.

In Real Life

5. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
Fascinating and educational, while also telling an interesting and relevant story. I love how the technology was worked into the art as well as the story. I loved how there were so many themes, and some themes that I have never seen touched on by any book, let alone in a graphic novel.

Adventure Time Vol. 1

6. The Adventure Time graphic novels
These are just as cute and hilarious as Adventure Time the television show, which I love. I love the notes at the bottom of most pages, because the narration is hilarious and quirky and downright weird a lot of the time. It feels just like watching an episode of Adventure Time, which is the perfect tone for them.

Basically, 2014 was a phenomenal reading year for me. I read some of the best books I have ever experienced. I can already see how these books are molding and changing me. I cannot wait to experience more books in 2015, I know there will be more favorites to find along the way.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Maze Runner --- Movie Review

The Maze Runner --- Movie Review

Here's the thing: The Maze Runner trilogy is okay. I liked it while reading it. It didn't make me feel that much, it didn't make me think at all, and the writing was annoying and confusing. BUT, the plot kept me reading because I wanted to understand what was happening. When I saw that this was going to be made into a movie, however, I was very excited. I thought the story would work better in a visual format. Then I found out that Dylan O'Brien was cast as Thomas, I was even more excited (seriously though, he's too attractive).

I WAS RIGHT, BY THE WAY. The movie was great. Absolutely wonderful. I loved everything they did with it. They simplified the plot in just the right way. They condensed it extremely well, leaving out the redundancy and keeping the tension. The casting was wonderful, and not just Dylan. Alby, Newt, Minho, Fry Pan, Gally, Chuck. They were all FANTASTIC!

The visual aspect was so compelling, as well. I loved how the maze looked, very much like how I pictured it. I loved the Greavers and the glade, even WICKED headquarters. The script was great, as well. It conveyed everything without loads and loads of exposition, even though that would have been easier for them to do.

Again, I'll say that Dylan O'Brien is, in all seriousness, the bae. His acting was brilliant in every way. He conveyed all of the emotions and the stubbornness that makes up Thomas.

I think they stuck to the plot of the book extremely well, keeping to all the things that needed to happen and all the things that needed to be set up.

I'm just very impressed and I can't wait until The Scorch Trials movie.

Monday, September 8, 2014

TTT: Underrated Books from Popular Authors

Top Ten Underrated Books from Popular Authors
Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different Top Ten list topic that a bunch of bloggers take and make their own list of those things.

I've decided to switch up this topic a little, so I'm going to choose my top ten underrated books from popular authors. (This isn't me saying that the more popular books aren't as good or that these underrated books are better. This is just me saying that I haven't heard many people talk about these books and I think they're swell.)

1. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Everyone has read or wants to read or has heard of The Mistborn Trilogy, and Steelheart has gotten its fair share of attention, as well. But The Rithmatist is an intensely readable, smart, and excellently written story with an unique, even odd, premise. This book has a nice place in my heart, as it was my first Sanderson, I just want more people to read and talk about it.

2. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
It makes sense. Attachments came out before she was big, and it, again, has a somewhat odd premise. But this book is charming in its own right, and is a great self-discovery story.

3. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
We've all heard of, read, discussed, and generally loved The Book Thief, but I Am the Messenger is just such a gem of a book. This story is important and entertaining and relevant to so many different people and I think everyone should read it.

4. Talking Pictures by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is his fiction, a book where he integrates all these old pictures he's found into a chilling and adventurous story. Talking Pictures, however, is non-fiction, and is just him collecting, organizing, and then discussing other antique pictures that he's found. It's fascinating how similar people were about pictures back then, how much we have in common with them. This book is just fascinating, and I highly recommend it.

5. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
I know a lot of people who read Princess Academy when they were in middle school (So did I, it was one of my favorites). But I've never heard anyone talking about The Goose Girl, which is a charming little story that I really enjoyed.

6. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
On the Jellicoe Road is really popular, and most likely rightly so. (I haven't read it yet, but I plan to really soon). I fell in love with Melina Marchetta's fantasy, though. Her world-building in genuine and strong and enveloping. This series is worth every bit of time and I think everyone should read it.

7. The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is my homeboy. Both series with him in them are wonderful and fantastic reads full of loveable characters and crazy fun adventures. BUT I'm always surprised how little attention The Kane Chronicles gets. It's seriously so great, like everything that Rick Riordan writes. If you love Percy Jackson, I guarantee you'll love this series. And you get to meet Sadie Kane! Sadie Kane is the bomb dot com.

8. Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is hailed by many as the Great American Novel, and for good reason. It's easily one of the greatest novels ever written by an American. But that's not all F. Scott Fitzgerald can do, oh no, not by half. His short stories are brilliant, just utterly brilliant. They are vignettes into characters and lives and certain events in life. They are touching and haunting and relevant. Just... F. Scott Fitzgerald, guys. He's freaking great.

9. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
If you've read any number of my Top Ten Tuesdays, you'll see that I was Gail Carson Levine's biggest fan growing up (and I still sort of am). Usually I always include one of her books on my lists, and this time is no exception. Fairest changed my life in 4th grade when I read it, and continues to change my life today. So yeah, this book. Read it.

10. Emma by Jane Austen
I love me some Pride and Prejudice. I really do, because that book is brilliant and touching and wonderful. But there's just something about Emma Woodhouse that I love. She's so unbelievably flawed, but she's still a great character who genuinely cares about things and people and tries to do what's best for everyone (even though she fails probably 95% of the time). Also, Knightley. I mean, KNIGHTLEY.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever After
By: Stephanie Perkins
Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever. Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

I meant to review this book a long time ago. I read it as soon as it came out, but then I sort of lost my free time to moving into and adjusting to college life. So yeah, that review didn't exactly happen.
I have been waiting for this book for about three years now, after reading Anna and Lola back to back and I am so relieved. This book lived up to its predecessors and gave me the same love that I was hoping it would. I fell into the story of this book just as much as I did in the other two, because Stephanie Perkins is magnificent like that.

I really like Isla. I didn't feel the connection with her that I had with Anna, and I didn't find her as interesting as Lola, but I liked her for what she was. She's earnest and loyal and awkward. Her friendship with Kurt was a really nice side story and it made my heart super happy. I loved her and Josh, they were pretty adorable. I liked her journey, too. I know a lot of people saying she didn't have a clear journey, but I think she did. At the beginning, she didn't know what her journey was, she didn't know who she was. But by the end, she has a better view of herself through help from Josh and Kurt.

And Josh. Precious, darling, Josh. I really did love him and how thoughtful and kind he was, but at the same time, he was believably a boy. His actions made sense in terms of their relationship and their place in life. Also, the art side of their relationship was so beautiful and props to Stephanie Perkins for creating it. I now want to date an artist, because their souls are gorgeous and they see things that others can't.

The settings were gorgeous as well, as always with Stephanie Perkins' books. Paris felt like home, Barcelona like summer, and New York like an adventure. I loved every bit of this journey, and I love that the boundaries were always expanding and you were never in the same place very long.

Slight Spoiler Section:

I ADORED the reunion scene. I was squealing and crying and sighing. I want to see more of the six of them, hanging out, being friends, living life. But at the same time, I almost died in just the couple pages that we got. And ANNA AND ETIENNE. OH GOOD LORD. I CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT. I'LL DIE.

End of Spoiler Section:

So yeah, I really loved this book. It was different than the first two, and different than I expected, but still familiar in the way I was hoping. I can't wait to see what else Stephanie Perkins will write in the future.

Monday, September 1, 2014

TTT: Book Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table

Books Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table
Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different Top Ten list topic that a bunch of bloggers take and make their own list of those things.
When I think of school lunch tables I think of laughing stupidly loud at ridiculous things, so I've decided to choose the characters that I find particularly ridiculous or entertaining or witty. These run the gradient of humor, some being clever with words, some being master pranksters, so I think we'd have a pretty well-rounded group.

Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)

1. My Darling Nikolai
Obviously. Who is more ridiculous, more entertaining, more witty than Nikolai Lantsov? That's right. FREAKING NO ONE.

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)
2. William Herondale
Speaking of my ridiculous darlings, William Herondale is too charming and witty for his own good. Seriously, I want him at my table every-freaking-day.

The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)
3. Pippin
What a prankster? I imagine he'd get along really well with Fred and George. Just imagine that!

The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2)
4. Percy Jackson
The love of my life. Percy is everything and I love him far too much for my sanity.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7)

5. Ron Weasley
The classic goofball sidekick who is simultaneously smart and courageous and mostly kind. Ronald Billius Weasley is a champ.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)
6. Fred and George Weasley
And what would a table of pranksters be if I didn't include good old Fred and George? They are the masters of all things prank and they are sort of my heroes.

Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness, #4)

7. George and Alanna
Their back and forth is just perfect all the time, and they would be definite Prom King and Queen material.

8. Regan
The sass Queen here to take her crown. Remember the scenes of Cath and her at meals? Yeah, it'd be like that. I would be Cath in this scenario, of course.

The Serpent's Shadow (Kane Chronicles, #3)
9. Sadie Kane
The bae. Sadie, with her kicking boots and her unbelievable sass. I want to be her best friend and I want to share clothes with her.

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)

10. Anna Oliphant
I just love her, okay? I think we'd get along really well and we share the same kind of humor. It'd work out pretty well.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)
11. Ginny Weasley
I have always loved and will always love Ginny for her sass and her fighting spirit and her kindness, and don't even get me started on her loyalty. I want her defending my friend group with her hexes.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling
By: Erika Johansen
The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)
On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

I let people talk me out of being really excited for this book. I did, and I'm ashamed. I LOVED THIS BOOK. There, now I've gone and said it outright, we can proceed.

No really, this book was so fantastic. I had issues with most of the world-building, but the story was told so well and so simply that I found myself overlooking those things and just falling in love with the story.

I love Kelsea! She reminded me a lot of Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, but less naïve at first. That's not to say she wasn't naïve, because she was, but she was also really authoritative from the very beginning, which I loved about her. It made the story interesting from the beginning that she wasn't willing to let herself be pushed aside. Her love for her kingdom also made me really love her. It's so important to me to know what characters are passionate about, and this book did that very well.

I had a few problems with The Fetch, just because he started the relationship by kidnapping her, which is kind of problematic. I like him as a character, however, simply because he's interesting. I want to more about him.

I loved Kelsea's relationship with her guards, too. The relationship felt right, in all the ways that count. It was a nice balance of her being in charge and having to prove that, but also an amiable sort of friendship. I love the Mace and Pen and their very different relationships.

The antagonist perspectives in this were so well-written and fascinating. There were so many kinds of antagonists in this story, which made the world feel so much more genuine. There was the Red Queen, who was freaking creepy as heck and so MESSED UP! But in a really interesting way. I want to know more about what is wrong with her and what that creepy guy she called was. Then there was the regent, who was so apathetic and absolutely disgusting. Just reading his sections, I wanted to vomit all over the book, but I like that it made me feel things, even revulsion. Then there was the gate guard, who got caught up in things too big for him. I just really liked how complex the plot was and how diverse the characters were.

The plot was great too. You can tell that this is an introductory book, but there was still so much that happened and so much being set up. I was a little bored about 50 pages in, but that stretch of boredom didn't last very long and then I was never bored again. I'm excited to see where the story is going in the rest of the series, and I sort of hope that the series goes more than just three books.

I had a lot of issues with the world-building in terms of the history behind the world. There was no solid explanation, just general mentions of things that made no sense. What is the Crossing? What in the world happened to all the technology? Why did some culture stick and some didn't? I came away with absolutely no concrete knowledge of what any of the terms actually meant. I have gigantic doubts about whether or not this world could conceivably make sense, but I love the story and that makes up for it.

Overall, I loved this story and these characters and I cannot wait until the next one.


“Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.”

“The mark of the true hero is that the most heroic of his deeds is done in secret. We never hear of it. And yet somehow, my friends, we know."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ready Player One

Ready Player One
By: Ernest Cline
Ready Player One
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune -- and remarkable power -- to whoever can unlock them.

This book is just a crapload of fun. There's no other way to say it, it's just a bunch of high-tech, high concept, and high action fun. There are so many references to classic pop culture games, shows, and movies. There's friendship, tension, and a great pace. That's not to say I didn't have problems with this novel, but none of the problems kept me from enjoying the story or the way it was written.

We start out with a lot of info-dumping. Like, a LOT of info-dumping. Almost too much info-dumping to handle. It helped that all the information was fascinating and really well conceived, but that didn't change the fact that this narrator straight up told you most of the relevant world-building information, and then oftentimes repeated himself about that concept later on.

But, like I said, the information was all really interesting, so it didn't kick me completely out of the story. I decided to keep reading, and I'm really glad I did. Once all the information was out there and out of the way, it got really good.

The Oasis seems so cool, like, it's only a matter of time before video games progress that far, but I really liked how this book explored both worlds since the creation of the Oasis. The world building, though not extensive about the outside world, is still really well developed, as was the world building inside the Oasis. I liked the different tones that each world gave off and how they were so different from one another.

I liked the characters. I can't say that any of them stuck out to me or were particularly fantastic, but they were passable. I liked them while I was reading about them and they served their purposes as vehicles to get into the world. I did have a problem with how Artemis was portrayed, very Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl in her archetype. But she had some agency, so it was more okay that I thought it would be when we met her in the story.

And the plot of this book was really, really great. Once I got past the beginning, I can't say there was a single time I was bored or uninterested in what was happening. The climax was constructed very well, like it really was the finish line of a year long race that the whole world participated in.

So yeah, I'm glad I read this book. It's everything that I heard it would be, if not quite as mind-blowing. Still a really great, really fun read.

Monday, August 18, 2014

TTT: Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read

People Have Been Telling You That You Need to Read
Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different Top Ten list topic that a bunch of bloggers take and make their own list of those things.
1. Cinder
By: Marissa Meyer

2. Code Name Verity
By: Elizabeth Wein

3. Brave New World
By: Aldous Huxley

4. The Lies of Locke Lamora
By: Scott Lynch

5. On The Jellicoe Road
By: Melina Marchetta

6. Just One Day
By: Gayle Forman

7. The Shadow of the Wind
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone
By: Laini Taylor

9. Sabriel
By: Garth Nix

10. 1984
By: George Orwell

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rebel Angels

Rebel Angels
By: Libba Bray
Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2)
Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain... the lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship. But all is not well in the realms–or out.

I loved the first book, and hoped that I'd love this one just as much. Unfortunately, I didn't, for a load of reasons. It was still a solid read, but I was expecting more so it felt like less.

My main issue with this book was the pacing and the plot. There were so many repetitive sections and sections that felt pointless and superfluous. Gemma never actually figured things out, she just worried about whether or not she would be able to piece together the information she needed. It felt like there was never any progress. Gemma did the same things over and over again and just kept expecting change.

The characters were just as well-written as in the first one, but I found that most of the time I didn't care about them nearly as much. Though I did love hearing more about Felicity's past and her family, which sort of broke my heart. Other than that moment (and a handful more), I didn't feel anything about what was happening to the characters.

Another problem I had, was the plot twist. I figured it out pretty soon into the book, then I had to wait the entire rest of the book for everyone else to figure it out, which was really annoying. All in all, it was a pretty decent plot twist, and if I hadn't known what it was way too soon, I would have loved it.

I don't love Kartik as much as I always feel like I'm supposed to. He's too boring and predictable, I guess. I feel like I know how their relationship is going to go before its gone that way. It doesn't help that Gemma is the kind of naïve that frustrates me in books, because its the kind of naïve that makes no sense for her character.

The writing was okay, as well, but I didn't fall in love with the words like I did in the first book. I didn't feel a connection with the language of these girls' lives.

This is a pretty harsh review, but I have to be honest. This book disappointed me because I expected more from it. That's just how things go sometimes. I'm still going to read The Sweet Far Thing eventually and hope that it impresses me more.

Monday, August 11, 2014

TTT: Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read

Books I'm Not Sure I Want To Read
Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different Top Ten list topic that a bunch of bloggers take and make their own list of those things.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This book is so hyped up, and I've read stories like it before. I'm just not usually a fan of high school books, so I really don't think I'd like it as much as everyone else.

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)

2. The Madman's Daughter
I've heard the sequel is horrible and I'm not sure I'm interested in the premise in the first place. The first book is highly praised, but I just don't feel that committed to reading it.

Cruel Beauty3. Cruel Beauty
This book has gotten incredibly mixed reviews, but some people really liked it. I generally love fairy-tale retellings, but (and please don't kill me for what I'm about to say, which I know is an affront to 90% of bookish girls) I never liked Beauty and the Beast, not as a child and not now. So this isn't exactly top priority.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide, #1)

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I'd love to read this science fiction classic. Mostly I'm afraid I won't find it as funny as most other people seem to find it. Hopefully I'll strengthen up and get to it sometime in the future.

Half Bad (Half Life, #1)
5. Half Bad
This was hyped before it came out, then more and more people were saying they hated this book. Too bad for me, I'd already got it as a birthday present. So now, I feel sort of obligated to read it, but I'm not at all excited about reading it, which makes me think maybe I should just skip it.

Sequels I'm Not Sure I Want To Read:

Altered (Crewel World, #2)6. Altered
I liked Crewel, but at the time that I'd read it, I hadn't read many other books in the genre. I don't remember most of the plot or hardly any of the characters, and I have no interest in rereading the first one. I could just try to jump in, but I have a feeling that wouldn't work out that well.

While We Run (When We Wake, #2)
7. While We Run
Wasn't in love with the first book. It was okay, but nothing special. I originally planned on continuing the series, but the more I thought about it, the more I dreaded it. I just have this thing where I feel obligated to finish series that I start, though I need to break myself of that habit.

The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2)
8. The Lord of the Opium
This is the problem of loving the first book, but also loving where it left the story. When I heard there would be a sequel, I was excited, but I also didn't understand why there should be one. I think I'll read this one eventually, I just need to prioritize it.

Rumors (Luxe, #2)
9. Rumors
Luxe was fun, but not anything substantial. I'll probably pick this one up if I ever get in the mood for light and catty historical, but my mood for light reading doesn't come around that often, so we'll see.

The Kill Order (Maze Runner, #0.5)10. The Kill Order
I've already made my peace with this series. I liked this series as a whole, but I'm just not sure I have any interest in going back to the beginning of it all with a prequel. I've heard from friends who have read it that it doesn't answer as many questions that it claims to. I can't see myself ever getting  to this one.