Lately, I’ve been struggling with this whole book blogging thing. I’m trying to cut back on full reviews and on pressure. Believe it or not but these couple paragraph things are so much fucking easier. I’ve been putting them in my monthly wrap up, but I feel like that has me posting way too long after I finished the book. As such, I’m going to try putting together a post of mini reviews everytime I’ve finished 3+ books. There’s no rhyme or reason here and they’ll be ordered by the date I finished the book.
The Books (and a Novella)
Illusive (Adverse Effects #1) by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Date Finished: July 7, 2015
Times Read: 2
Original Review: 4 stars on July 25, 2014
How Did It Hold Up? When I picked up my ARC of Deceptive, I immediately realized I didn’t remember the characters or plot well enough to go straight into it. Since I had Illusive on hand, I decided to take the time to reread it. Illusive was ever-so-slightly less wonderful the second time, because I was noticing some odd writing quirks I missed then, but I’d still rate it somewhere from 3.5 to 4. It would definitely be a tough choice.
I pretty much stand by everything I said then. The world building is a bit odd but Lloyd-Jones makes it work. The characters have great banter. What I would add is that the third person POV is oddly distancing and jumps around in frustrating ways. After an intense scene with a bit of a cliffhanger, you’ll go to Daniel’s POV or into Ciere’s past, and that’s just so not what you want right then, which really kills momentum. However, the second half of the book doesn’t do this nearly so much and I raced through the ending.
Also, I’m pretty sure I ship Kit and Magnus even more than I did on my first read and I swear if they are not cannon I will be most put out.
Murder on the Disoriented Express (Adverse Effects #1.5) by Emily Lloyd Jones
Date Finished: July 7, 2015
Rating: 3 stars
What I Thought: Typically, I pretend that these little novellas don’t exist, but I thought I should give them another chance, because I might be missing something. While I did enjoy “Murder on the Disoriented Express,” I don’t know that I’ll be purchasing too many novellas. It’s a cute bridge from Illusive to Deceptive, and I like that it’s setting up for my ship, but it’s also really not plot-necessary. It’s been so long since I read one that I forgot about that and how it frustrates me to spend $2 for them. So yeah, it’s good if you’re a novella person and not a miser like I am.
Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore
Date Finished: July 11, 2015
Times Read: 2
Original Review: Read pre-blogging, but 4.5-5 stars
How Did It Hold Up? Sadly, Graceling wasn’t as strong as I remembered. It’s weird because this is one of those books I compare others to. However, on this read, I wasn’t as impressed with the pacing or the writing as I was when I read this book back in 2009. It just didn’t command my attention as much as some of the other things I was reading, which truly shocked me.
Don’t get me wrong. I still really enjoyed Graceling, and the romance very much still held up. The concept of the graces is still masterful. Graceling will always stand out for because of the sex positivity and the fact that Katsa doesn’t want marriage or children. Graceling challenges a lot of societal norms in a really great and intentional way. There will always be a place on my shelves for Graceling, but I don’t think it’s a top favorite anymore. I’m kinda sad about this tbh, though thankfully I still liked it. It’s a dangerous business, readers, rereading your old favorites.
Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
Date Finished: July 12, 2015
Rating: 3.5 stars
What I Thought: Pretending to Be Erica has a fabulous, vibrant narrative voice, and I really churned right through it. It’s a mystery thriller that’s very much character driven, so it worked for me. It didn’t reach that level where it came alive and I cared so intensely, but it was fun.
Though I did like the ship, I feel like it could have used more establishment. I really liked that Violet was a criminal, not just a good girl in a bad situation or something; she owns her own guilt. The psychological elements of the novel were fabulous too, and I liked how she tried to balance her two selves. Mostly, I feel like this novel was a bit rushed. It’s under 300 pages, and I honestly wish there was more. If there were a sequel about what Erica gets up to next, I would most definitely read it.
Fire (Graceling Realm #2) by Kristin Cashore
Date Finished: July 13, 2015
Times Read: 3
Original Review: Read pre-blogging but 4.5-5 stars
How Did It Hold Up? Unlike Graceling, Fire completely held up for me on my second reread. In fact, I noticed things that I hadn’t remembered from the first two times I read it.
Everything about Fire really leveled up. The ship is a slow burn so slow that it gets down into every fiber of your shippy heart. It’s a similar vibe to that of Katsa and Po, but it’s a bit less startling, a bit more well-established.
The feminism is still every bit as present, with the use of birth control, sex positivity all around (even to the extent of no one shaming the women who get pregnant from casual sex), and Fire’s bisexuality. I also actually love that Fire, unlike Katsa, wishes she could have children but is still making the decision not to. Fire’s a much more engaging heroine than Katsa, and I think her characterization is a bit stronger. Both are great books but it’s clear how much Cashore’s talent had grown from book one to book two.
Also, I actually reviewed Bitterblue all official-like if you’re curious how the rest of the binge went.