April 2015: Month in Review

April 2015: Month in ReviewGods of Amyrantha by Jennifer Fallon
Narrator: John Telfer
Length: 16 hrs, 18 mins
Series: Tide Lords #2
Published by Audible on March 25, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

The Tide Lords are returning and that means every man, woman and child is in danger...

Arkady is exiled to the repressive Torlenian capital, where she makes some unexpected friends and some powerful enemies, all of whom seem bent on usingher to wreak vengeance on each other.

Things are not going smoothly for Declan Hawkes, the King's Spymaster, either, and not just because the Empress of the Five Realms has turned up in Caelum with her family. Jaxyn Aranville is determined to quash any opposition to his plans for the Glaeban throne and Arkady's husband, the Duke of Lebec, is on his way.

And in the stark deserts of Torlenia, a meeting between two powerful Tide Lords could put to rest eight thousand years of enmity...or not...

What I’ve Been Up To:

This section is where you find out about changes in my blog and my life.

Blogging:

It’s been my first full month of fully reviewing only the books where I feel motivated to, and so far I think it’s really helping. There are some changes to support this. You’ll find both DNFs and some brief thoughts (not official reviews) of the books I read down below.

I’m hoping to motivate myself enough to film a vlog before BEA, so hold me to it!

Shenanigans:

Though I don’t talk about my personal life much on here, I’m going to take a moment for that. My boyfriend, Sung, and I celebrated our first anniversary, which is kind of a big deal. I’ve never been in a relationship longer than a couple of months (and not many of those either), so yeah I’m kind of impressed. He’s a great guy. He took me to Fogo de Chao and ate ridiculously delicious food. All the pics are on his phone though so oops.

It was also my bestie Jordan’s birthday, so we (Jordan, Emily (her girlfriend), Sung, me) went to a Decemberists concert. The Decemberists are almost as great as Jordan are, which means the concert was fantastic (even though the weather was shitty, parking was absurdly expensive, and the opener was meh). Fun fact: my blog name was inspired by a lyric in a Decemberists song. Once again the pics are in someone else’s possession.

I attended Becky Albertalli’s launch party for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda at Little Shop of Stories. First off, if you haven’t bought and/or read Simon yet, DO SO. The launch was mostly amazing, aside from one really dramatic event. Seeing Becky is always great, because she’s the sweetest. I also met a bunch of other authors: David Arnold (Mosquitoland), Jeff Zentner (The Serpent King), Nicole Castroman (Blackhearts), Gina Ciocca (Last Year’s Mistake), and Rachael Allen (17 First Kisses, The Revenge Playbook). They were all really great people, so you should check out their books. I also enjoyed seeing a bunch of book club folks, like Tiffani and Vania, and meeting a couple really sweet librarians (heyyyyy Stefani Sloma) from Mississippi, who took a bunch of ARCs I didn’t need anymore off my hands. Simon vs. the Launch Party may have been the best one ever, because there were SO. MANY. OREOS. Becky even brought milk, an oreo cake,  vodka-infused oreos and wine.

IMG_1234
Becky and me!

IMG_1246
Nicole Castroman, Gina Ciocca, Rachael Allen, and Me

IMG_1228
IMG_1227

The fooooood (some of it)

Music:

As always, I’ll include my Spotify playlist for the month, but here’s a list of the artists I was playing on repeat this month:

Bear’s Den, Marina and the Diamonds, Mighty Oaks, Passion Pit, Sleeping at Last (still), and Twin Forks

Movies & TV:

Other than watching Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley as they air, I think I’ve only watched America’s Next Top Model. NO, YOU’RE OBSESSED. I’m on cycle 12 now.

Reviews Posted:

Um, yeah, my reading has been so great lately. Also, remember that I’ve started reviewing only the books I REALLY want to review, so a lot of the books that didn’t resonate with me ended up unreviewed (but you can see some thoughts down below).

5 star:

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) – Renée Ahdieh
None of the Above – I.W. Gregorio
Black Iris – Leah Raeder
The Fill-In Boyfriend – Kasie West

4.5 star:

Second Position (District Ballet Company #1) – Katherine Locke
A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) – Sarah J. Maas
All the Rage – Courtney Summers

4 star:

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2) – Anne Blankman
The Truth About Us – Janet Gurtler
Funny Girl – Nick Hornby
The Truth Commission – Susan Juby
Denton Little’s Deathdate (Denton Little #1) – Lance Rubin

3.5 star:

Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold (Broken Hearts & Revenge #2) – Katie Finn
Crimson Hero (Crimson Hero #1-20) – Mitsuba Takanashi

3 star:

A Touch of Stardust – Kate Alcott
Mosquitoland – David Arnold
Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5) – Gail Carriger
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures (Pip Bartlett #1) – Maggie Stiefvater & Jackson Pearce

2.5 star:

In a World Just Right – Jen Brooks
Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) – Amy Spalding

2 star:

Epic Fail – Claire LaZebnik

DNFs:

Alright, I’m not going to give explanations for these, but you can find them on my Goodreads if you’re curious. Click on the book cover to be taken straight there.

Galgorithm - Aaron Karo
An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir
The Last Leaves Falling - Sarah Benwell
Vendetta - Catherine Doyle UK
The Whisperer - Fiona McIntosh
A Matter of Heart - Amy Fellner Dominy

Mini Reviews:

April 2015: Month in ReviewGods of Amyrantha by Jennifer Fallon
Narrator: John Telfer
Length: 16 hrs, 18 mins
Series: Tide Lords #2
Published by Audible on March 25, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

The Tide Lords are returning and that means every man, woman and child is in danger...

Arkady is exiled to the repressive Torlenian capital, where she makes some unexpected friends and some powerful enemies, all of whom seem bent on usingher to wreak vengeance on each other.

Things are not going smoothly for Declan Hawkes, the King's Spymaster, either, and not just because the Empress of the Five Realms has turned up in Caelum with her family. Jaxyn Aranville is determined to quash any opposition to his plans for the Glaeban throne and Arkady's husband, the Duke of Lebec, is on his way.

And in the stark deserts of Torlenia, a meeting between two powerful Tide Lords could put to rest eight thousand years of enmity...or not...

Like the first book in the series, which I’d actually written up a review for but later decided not to post, I enjoyed the audiobook quite a lot. Narrator John Telfer does a really great job making the characters distinct and imbuing their lines with a lot of personality.

This series isn’t one I would have ever picked up on my own, but I’ve really been enjoying it. The world building is really cool. There are these immortals (Tide Lords) who have the ability to manipulate the tide, which is magic that comes and goes. The tide has been out for a really long time, so the Tide Lords have been blending in with the human population, but now the tide is coming in and the Tide Lords are beginning their campaigns to compete for world domination.

The characters are interesting and well-drawn, though the series lacks for swoony romance. I can’t decide if I like the idea of Cayal and Arkady or not , but I’m at least open to the possibility. My interest was a bit on the wane after a plot development for Arkady I didn’t like, but then there was a really awesome twist at the end that hooked me again.

April 2015: Month in ReviewThe Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Series: The Bone Season #2
Published by Bloomsbury USA on January 27, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Dystopian, Alternate History
Pages: 528
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

The fact that I struggled so much with The Mime Order makes me really sad. That’s a big part of why I don’t want to review this one officially. Also because the review would make Debby (Snuggly Oranges) sad.

My first problem was that I started this thinking I’d have time to read it before I went to Cancun for a week and a half, forgetting that pre-travel panic makes Christina unable to read. Then the book got left behind again when I had a business trip to Oklahoma. These were not great circumstances under which to read a book which is much too heavy for me to want to carry it on a plane. Basically, I was working on this through two reading slumps due to travel stress, and it took me over a month to read it, which for me is unusual.

The hype also worked against me, I think. The reviews I’ve seen were all saying that The Mime Order stepped it up. It was The Bone Season but even better. Obviously, I was excited, because I really liked The Bone Season. I’d been warned that one would bore me, but it didn’t. With this one, I had no warning, and I was bored. I expected more action and character, but it’s world building and political maneuverings primarily. They’re done well, I think, but the scenes I was there for—Warden/Paige (though I’m still not sure how I feel about this ship, it IS interesting) and action—were few and far between.

Much as I struggled, I’m not sure how much of it was me and how much of it was The Mime Order. I suspect The Mime Order is a really good book that I picked up at the wrong time. I’m not giving up on the series, but I think I may try switching to the audiobooks. Before book three comes out, I think I’ll try audiobooking both books one and two, because I’ll definitely have to reread two. Though audiobooks take much longer, they can make certain types of books work better for me, and The Mime Order might be one of those.

April 2015: Month in ReviewExile by Shannon Messenger
Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities #2
Published by Aladdin on August 5, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Pages: 592
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Sophie befriends the mythical Alicorn—and puts her mysterious powers to the test—in this enchanting sequel to Keeper of the Lost Cities.

Sophie is settling in nicely to her new home and her new life in the world of the lost cities. And it helps that living at Havenfield means getting to spend time with rare, precious species—including the first female Alicorn, who shows herself to Sophie and trusts no one but her.

Sophie is tasked with helping to train the magical creature so that the Alicorn can be revealed to the people of the lost cities as a sign of hope, and Sophie wants to believe that the recent drama and anguish is gone for good.

But the secrets buried deep in Sophie’s memories remain, and before long before she’s back in incredible danger, risking everything to find the answers to questions that could save not only her life, but the life of someone close to her…

The ridiculous continues, and I honestly wish I felt like reviewing it. I got trolled on my review of the first book, and I don’t have the energy to deal with that. I still think the series has a fuck ton of flaws, but any scene in which Keefe takes part is an awesome scene.

Exile is much improved by a more obvious plot that starts at the beginning of the book, by more Keefe, and by Fitz getting angry at Sophie and not wanting to talk to her. I still think that things come much too easily to Sophie, despite all the injuries. And don’t even get me started on the elven economy.

This series may have done damage to my intense love of unicorns though. Too. Much. Sparkly. Poop.

April 2015: Month in ReviewMagonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Series: Magonia #1
Published by HarperCollins on April 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Here’s the thing: I loved Magonia. Until the genre switch. Sure, I knew it was coming, but I still wasn’t ready, I guess. It doesn’t help that I hit a work-related reading slump right when I hit that part, I’m sure. Aza’s voice captured me in the beginning, and I felt like her voice wasn’t as powerful (ironically) once the real plot got started.

Though I felt like I should have loved this one and like maybe I would have if the timing had been right, I ended up struggling through about three quarters of the book. I think Headley’s a big talent, because she very much pulled off dual narration, and I will be trying whatever she writes and hoping that the next one hits me at the right time.

 April 2015: Month in ReviewTunnel Vision by Susan Adrian
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on January 20, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Romance and action come crashing together when a teenage boy with incredible powers is brought to the attention of the government.

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He's decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he's also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there's a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to "tunnel" into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It's an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn't agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he's juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he's doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel's help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

Ever since I read a post about the author that detailed Chuck as an inspiration for the novel, I became very interested to read Tunnel Vision, even though I’d initially not thought it was my sort of book. Though I see somewhat of the Chuck connection, it comes on the plot level, rather than the character level, which is what I was looking for.

Tunnel Vision really excels from a plot perspective. I called an early twist, but everything else was really surprising. Adrian took a lot of chances, and she made the book a bit darker than I’d anticipated. Shit gets real for Jacob, and he has to make some really terrible calls. Tunnel Vision really rolls around in the ethical gray areas, and I absolutely love when books do that.

The science fiction elements were quite strong too. Jacob Lukin has the ability to “tunnel” when he touches an object of value to someone else. What that means is that he can see that person down to their precise location and current activities. It’s pretty clear why that talent would be appealing to government agencies, huh? I found both the concept and execution of tunneling really cool. My only qualm here is that he occasionally was able to tunnel with objects that were not special to the person or of great importance, like a tiny piece of cloth torn from the tag on a pair of shorts, which felt like it didn’t fit with the book’s own internal logic.

I thought Jacob’s relationship with his sister was really sweet, as was his bond with his grandfather. Some novels fail to sell the familial relationships because plot gets in the way. Jacob never forgets how much he misses his family, and that made the situation feel much more believable.

The characterization wasn’t the strongest point of the book on the whole, but it will work for anyone who isn’t firmly a character-driven reader. The really weak aspect is the romance between Jacob and Rachel. Her character feels very much shoe-horned into the story to add romance. Now, I love a romance as we all know, but it frustrated me here because her character served no other purpose. Jacob’s really not in a position to be in a romance in Tunnel Vision, but it’s forced in there anyway by View Spoiler »

April 2015: Month in ReviewEverblaze by Shannon Messenger
Series: Keeper of the Lost Cities #3
Published by Aladdin on November 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Pages: 624
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Sophie Foster is ready to fight back.

Her talents are getting stronger, and with the elusive Black Swan group ignoring her calls for help, she’s determined to find her kidnappers—before they come after her again.

But a daring mistake leaves her world teetering on the edge of war, and causes many to fear that she has finally gone too far. And the deeper Sophie searches, the farther the conspiracy stretches, proving that her most dangerous enemy might be closer than she realizes.

In this nail-biting third book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, Sophie must fight the flames of rebellion, before they destroy everyone and everything she loves.

Wow, I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I have to give Everblaze three stars. The series is still ridiculous to the max, but the characterization and plotting are worlds better than they were in book one.

The reason this series has been steadily improving can be summed up in one word: Keefe. He is slowly taking over this series by sheer force of personality. He’s even, even more slowly, helping Sophie to loosen up a bit, which she sorely needs. Keefe has character development like whoa in this, and he does it all with his characteristic snark, banter, and warmth. He is the BEST. Any scene with him in it was compelling and engaging.

Unlike the prior novels in the series, Everblaze wasn’t so much of a slog. Bring on book four, so long as it has oodles and oodles of the Keefester.

April 2015: Month in ReviewThe Palace of Impossible Dreams by Jennifer Fallon
Narrator: John Telfer
Length: 16 hrs, 58 mins
Series: Tide Lords #3
Published by Audible on March 28, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Just remember, eternity is a long time to be watching over your shoulder...

Branded and sold into slavery in Senestra, Arkady holds out little hope of being rescued. She turns to her new owner for help...but learning the truth about him may cost both their lives.

Jaxyn's plans hit a snag when he realises the one man who can challenge him for the Glabaen throne, Stellan Desean, has sought asylum in Caelum. Strangely enough, the Empress of the Five Realms, and the Tide Lords Tryan and Elyssa, seem to be on Stellan's side...

And Declan Hawkes, struggling with his transformation, abandons the Cabal, and flees to Glaeba in search of some trace of Arkady.

Well, I’m definitely still really enjoying this series. John Telfer’s an excellent narrator with a wide range of voices. My interest in the story hasn’t really flagged at any point. Still, I’m not as much of a fan of this installment.

Here’s the thing: I’m really uncomfortable with the role of women in this story. Despite the fact that almost all of the women are really powerful, they’re almost exclusively evaluated as sex objects. So many of the female immortals are described with the designation “whore,” even though that would have been their professions thousands of years before. Yet, still, that’s how the other immortals think of them. Then there’s the fact that Arkady is View Spoiler »

Due to the previous spoiler, I really don’t ship anything, but I do want to know what’s going to happen in the end, and, as I said, I’m really enjoying this, despite my issues with it.

April 2015: Month in ReviewThe Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #0.5
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Adventure
Pages: 448
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Celaena Sardothien owes her reputation to Arobynn Hamel. He gave her a home at the Assassins' Guild and taught her the skills she needed to survive.

Arobynn's enemies stretch far and wide - from Adarlan's rooftops and its filthy dens, to remote islands and hostile deserts. Celaena is duty-bound to hunt them down. But behind her assignments lies a dark truth that will seal her fate - and cut her heart in two forever...

Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine and find out how the legend begins in the five page-turning prequel novellas to the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series.

This, right here, is why I try to always read in series order. At the time, I didn’t really know about the novellas. I’m definitely glad that I’ve gone back and read them, because they do give me a lot of background on Celaena and add to an already incredibly complex character arc. Still, having seen Sarah grow so much as a writer, going back to some of her first writing is a bit jarring.

My burden too is that I’ve heard so much about the stories, about the tragedy of them. Going in, I expected heartbreak, but I only experienced sadness from a distance. I already knew what was coming, and it really didn’t hit me in an emotional place. The romance, while wonderful from a character perspective, also didn’t hit me like SHIP. It was just ship, cute but not zomg my feels. The novellas are a must read, but, if you haven’t started the series yet, I’d recommend reading them before you start on the rest of the series.

Favorite story: “The Assassin and the Pirate Lord”

 

10 responses to “April 2015: Month in Review”

  1. Brigid says:

    I’m so sorry you has such a bad experience with Ember in the Ashes. There seem to be quite a few people who really didn’t like it either. I get really angry when a lot of the women in the story are represented so weak. I get trying to fight a world that’s so hard on women, but when the author leaves them so powerless and has rape threats thrown at them all the time i just can’t buy the author’s thesis that her MC is supposed to be strong. I can’t. I want a world that fights those issues but still has a capable and strong heroine that fights those issues.

  2. Savannah says:

    Wow, I’m SO jealous of your reading productivity lately! I’m finding it harder and harder to get out of bed, let alone finish out quite so many books as you have! Congratulations on your anniversary, too! 🙂

  3. I’m bummed that you didn’t like The Mime Order but I kind of also understand. They are very heavy books, and yeah, The Paige/Warden scenes are scarce if that’s what you are there for. I’ve kind of really involved myself in the storytelling and worldbuilding and I don’t really care about the relationships. 😀

    But congratulations on YOURS!

    Also, I am reading Black Iris right now and I have no idea what the fuck is going on and if I like it or not. I THINK I do but I think I won’t know until the end.
    Kara @ Great Imaginations recently posted…Nest N’ News: April Wrap UpMy Profile

  4. How AMAZING that you got to go to that launch party! All the Oreos!!! I’m curious about what that dramatic event was, but I’m glad the party was otherwise great.

    Also, congrats on your anniversary! ALSO also, your hair looks super cute.
    looloolooweez recently posted…GIANT GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  5. Lyn Kaye says:

    I am going to have to take a page out of your book and start doing some mini reviews, because there are a few books I have read that I can’t even start to review them. Luckily, Kara and Pixie are a HUGE help, and we’re reviewing books together, which takes a lot of stress off of me.

    Congrats on your one year!!! Many well wishes for the future!!
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Nest N’ News: April Wrap UpMy Profile

  6. Awww, congrats to you and Sung! 🙂 I’m so happy for you!

    Suuuuuuuper duper sads to The Mime Order. 🙁 I’m sorry if I hyped this series too much. Wahhh.
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2015My Profile

  7. Congrats on your first anniversary 😀

    It’s a shame that The mime order disappointed you so much. Hypes are always so tricky.. I definitely think it’s best if you read the novella’s before you start in Throne of glass. It adds so much to Celaena’s character. An ember in the ashes as DNF, oh no. I’m happy to see you rated A court of thorns and roses with 4.5 stars 😀
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…May link-up reading challenge.My Profile

  8. Aw, congratulations on your anniversary! 🙂
    Whoa. Vodka-infused oreos??? That sounds dangerous. lol

    Wow, check out all those 5 star reads. I’m reading The Wrath and the Dawn and REALLY enjoying it. I was nervous it was going to be another Ember but so far I’m not disappointed.

  9. Gillian says:

    TEAM KEEFE FOREVAHZ

    *laughs sparkly ass off*
    Gillian recently posted…Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehMy Profile

  10. Gillian says:

    WAIT OMG I TOTALLY MISSED THE ANNIVERSARY PART HAPPPYYYY ANNIVERSARYYY (also happy belated birthday to Jordan!)

    Also Team Keefe forevahz

    just had to throw that in there again
    Gillian recently posted…Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee AhdiehMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge