Audiobook/series review blitz – The Raven Cycle

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Titles: The Raven Boys (#1), The Dream Thieves (#2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (#3), The Raven King (#4)
Genre: young adult, fantasy
My rating: 5/5 for every single book. If I had more stars to give, I would.

Let’s get one thing clear straight out of the gate: I love this series. I love the magical, laid-back atmosphere of Henrietta, Virginia. I love the nuanced characters of Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. I love the vibrant and multifaceted people they interact with, from the women at Fox Way to Henry Cheng to Mr. Gray. I love the Welsh mythology. I even love all the attention Maggie Stiefvater lavishes on the cars everyone drives (which is saying something, since I’m not even really a car person).

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November Book Haul – Part 2 (feat. pictures that are even MORE extra)

To my US friends: Happy Thanksgiving! To everyone else: happy Thursday! And to all of you: I’m so thankful for books and this community surrounding them, and especially for all of you who take time to write about books, read my ramblings about them, and leave likes and comments. Much love to you all 💜

Anyway, this is a continuation of my book haul for this month, which has been way larger than anticipated, courtesy of several giveaways I’ve managed to win (no clue how…). If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here. Otherwise, here are a few more pretty pictures. Enjoy!

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely – review

Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication date: January 29, 2019
Genre: young adult fantasy, fairytale retelling
My rating: 4/5 stars

With all the hype this book has gotten, I wasn’t sure I would love it–especially since apparently some Beauty and the Beast retellings these days (*cough* ACOTAR *cough*) have taken one of my favorite fairytales and turned it into a glorification of unhealthy relationships. Fortunately, A Curse So Dark and Lonely wasn’t that at all. Vividly imagined, if a bit predictable even in its “twists,” this book was nonetheless quite enjoyable, particularly because of its complex and compelling cast of characters.

So let’s start with those characters, because their identities set the plot up nicely and also cover a lot of my favorite things about this book:

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Top Ten Tuesday 11/26 – Fictional families I’m thankful I’m NOT a part of

Its freezing outside and the approaching holidays are stressful, but hey–at least there’s comfort in the routine of weekly memes. You know the drill: Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s TTT is a “Thankful Freebie,” and while I initially wanted to do something cheesy and happy like “books I’m thankful to have in my life” or something, I started thinking about big things we associate with Thanksgiving…like family. Honestly, not all families are great; there are racist grandparents and cruel siblings and overly critical parents and just generally shitty people. Even my family has quite a bit of its own drama. But we’ve got nothing on these fictional families, which I am so incredibly glad I don’t belong to.

Let’s begin.

1. The Parrish family (The Raven Cycle)

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Spilling the Tea: the Goodreads Choice Awards

Folks, it’s that time of year again! All around the world, readers are flocking to Goodreads to place their votes for which books were the “best” this year, in genres ranging from Historical Fiction to Romance to Memoir to Young Adult Fantasy. Close to 4 million votes have already been placed (3,948,345 as of the time I type this paragraph). It’s a fun, interactive way for the bookish community–both dedicated superfans and casual readers alike–to have a say in the determination of a literary award, and given that it is hosted through (probably) the most popular book-tracking website, it reaches a huge audience. In theory, it’s an awesome award and a good rally point for bookworms everywhere.

In practice, there are just SO MANY PROBLEMS with it.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love the concept of people being able to choose and vote for their favorites. It’s like the People’s Choice Awards, but for print media instead of movies and TV. But for a site run by the almighty Amazon, you would think that the logistics of this popular contest would be ironed out a little better. Some of my quibbles with it are small, others are quite substantial, but all of them add up to form a resounding impression that this contest just doesn’t work like it should. Here are some of my reasons why.

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November Book Haul – Part 1 (feat. pretty pictures, because I’m that extra)

Hello, lovelies! Because I have zero shelf-control (pun intended) when it comes to both buying books and entering giveaways, my collection has grown a fair bit this past month. For reasons I don’t quite understand, I have been winning a TON of giveaways, mostly from Goodreads, but one or two from other sources as well. A lot of these are ARCs, and a couple of them came with bookmarks, so that’s cool too. Not going to bother with fancy captions on most of these, so just sit back, relax, and enjoy the pictures.

Stay tuned for later reviews of these, and more! The 2020 ARCs just keep coming…

A Long Petal of the Sea (ARC)

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The Astonishing Color of After – review

Author: Emily X.R. Pan
Publication date: March 20, 2018
Genre: young adult, contemporary, magical realism, fantasy
My rating: 4/5 stars

In four words, this book is: beautiful, painful, vibrant, and important. I must admit, I had to stay up two hours past when I planned to go to bed in order to finish this one. It wasn’t because it was a page-turner; truly, I wanted to go to sleep and resume it in the morning. But it brought up some really vivid memories and deeply intense feelings of pain and sadness that I thought I was past by now. I needed to get to the end, because I knew I wouldn’t sleep well if I went to bed in that emotional state. It took some processing, and while I expected it to be good, it was even more devastating than I expected a book about a girl and drawing and a magical bird and mental illness and suicide and family and friendship to be.

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Top Ten Tuesday 11/19 – All I know is these times are changing

You know the drill: TTT is a weekly themed post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is “Changes In My Reading Life (Maybe you like different genres or topics, maybe you read faster than you used to, maybe you only like standalones now).” At first I thought this would be difficult, but once I started writing, I realized there have actually been a lot of changes for me, both recently and from childhood to now. I tried to link in a few more of my past reviews and posts for this, so…take a look at them, maybe? 😊

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Again, But Better – review

Author: Christine Riccio
Publication date: May 7, 2019
Genre: young adult, contemporary, speculative fiction (?)
My rating: 1.5/5 stars

Note: I first published a version of this review on my Goodreads account in June 2019. I figured, with the fact that this dumpster fire is up for a Goodreads Choice Award now, I should clean it up a little and get my (very strong) opinions up here as well.

That was…disappointing. There were some promising elements (some of the details hit way too close to home…), and the premise was cool, but the execution was lacking, and it was a little painful to get through. For some context, I read this because the new Barnes and Noble YA Book Club chose it as their first monthly pick, and I was going to go to that discussion. But when I finished the book, I was not a huge fan–didn’t despise it, so I wasn’t going to rant about it or anything, but didn’t have any desire to spend even another minute on it. So when my mom and brother decided they were going to get Dairy Queen shortly before when I would have had to leave for that meeting, I opted to go get ice cream and skip the discussion altogether. That’s the kind of apathy I felt.

In retrospect, I actually did hate it a lot more than I initially thought, to the point that I decided to sell this book–which I had actually paid just about full price for, in hardcover–to Half-Price Books for about $3 (yeah, they’re kind of cheapskates…) because I didn’t want it on my shelf, nor did I want to give it to my friend who is a high school English teacher for her classroom library, because, again, it was garbage.

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Watchmen – review

Author: Alan Moore (writer), Dave Gibbons (illustrator)
Genre: graphic novel, drama, superhero
My rating: 5/5 stars
Publication date: September 8, 1987

There is so much to unpack in this book. So much happens, and so masterfully executed, that I really don’t know if I can do it justice with a simple review on this blog. I’ll do my best to keep this from turning into straight-up raving, but I have a lot to say. Sorry in advance for the length.

But first, storytime!

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