Friday, January 20, 2017

Review: Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Arc of a Scythe #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books
Release Date: November 22nd, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 11/24/16 to 12/8/16
435 pages
Rating: 


Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

I have been putting off this review since forever. About a month and a half or so. The reason for that is because I just didn’t know how to review Scythe. Because it was that good, but in a way I just couldn’t possibly explain.

The great thing about Neal Shusterman is that he has these worlds that are constrained by rules of his own making. About two years ago, I heard him talk about it during a signing. He showed the audience pages and pages of his manuscript, all written out in ink. I couldn’t imagine all the hand cramps that came with that. His dedication to world building is clearly shown in this new series, and I highly recommend you at least read this for that.

In this science fiction world, humanity has gained immortality. Without hunger, disease, war, or misery, you could say that this is a pretty good world to live in. Well, except for the fact that there are people called scythes, in charge of maintaining the human population. Everyone is scared of them, sometimes there’s bribery, and this book (and most likely the series) focuses on the corruption within the group. That’s where Citra and Rowan come in, two apprentices who not only have to learn the morals of what it means to take a life, but also find a way to survive themselves in this political climate group.

Though I absolutely adored the characters, I was very much drawn into the plot and the world-building. It’s not every day where you read about how to pick someone to kill. And the different scythe mentors, Scythe Faraday and Scythe Curie, each had unique methods. One who goes for the instant kill, and the other who confronts the person first. Also pretty sure Scythe Faraday was one of my favorite characters from this book.

As with all great books that I’ve read, I just don’t have that much to say about Scythe. But don’t take my lack of words as me not liking it. Because I did! Compared to the rest of the books I read in 2016, this one is way above all of them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #100 (Yay!)

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Ten Underrated/Hidden Gem Books I've Read In The Past Year Or So

This is just going to be underrated books I read during the year of the garbage fire, and not ones released during 2016. Sadly I didn't have such a great time with the new releases. Hopefully 2017 will be better in that regard!

Also I think I'm going to define underrated as under 1000 ratings. Plus I did already do this post a couple of months ago, so I am only limiting this to 5 books! Because then it would be too repetitive.




I really liked Iron Cast, especially the cover. I did see a little bit of hype on my Twitter feed, but it definitely wasn't as much as some other books coming out at the time!

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl was first published in Australia, but then finally made its debut in the US, for which I am pretty thankful for. Looking back, I think I expected more from it, but in the end I really enjoyed it.

I can't believe Return Once More is not more popular. I don't think it helps that the pub did little to no publicity, PLUS they dropped the sequel. Luckily the sequel is self-pubbed and is on Amazon. 

This next one is interesting. Everything Is Teeth is a graphic novel about a little girl obsessed with sharks and shark attacks. It was interesting. I may not have understood the message, but it was UNIQUE.

Lastly, and this one is decently popular on Twitter, there's Timekeeper! I actually really liked this one, and I have been having really good luck with Sky Pony Press. I hope this streak keeps up!


Have you read any good underrated books? I hope to read more this year!

Monday, January 16, 2017

DNF Review: The Architect of Song

The Architect of Song by A. G. Howard
Haunted Hearts Legacy #1
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Release Date: August 15th, 2016
Source: Amazon
Date Read: 12/28/16 to 1/12/16
425 pages
Rating: DNF


A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower - intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as - haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts - they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

Hello friends. Long time no see.

I'm starting 2017 with a book I did not finish, a book I had immense feelings over. Angry feelings. I just wish this book turned out differently, but sadly it just didn't end up working out.

You know how much I love The Mediator series by Meg Cabot? And see how this isn't YA, but rather shelved as NA? I was 100% looking forward to a NA version of my favorite series of all time. But like all naive readers, I shouldn't expect such things. As someone who loves reading about ghosts and the paranormal, this book just rubbed me the wrong way.

The book immediately starts off with Juliet's mother passing away. We then learn that not only is Juliet heartbroken, but she also is being pressured to sell her estate. To this guy called Thornton. Juliet is also deaf, and relies on reading lips in order to fit in with society. She can't hear anything until she encounters a handsome ghost named Hawke that only she can see, when she is in contact with this magical flower. Once this flower wilts (think Beauty and the Beast here), then she'll lose Hawke forever.

It really is set up to be great. Sigh.

Let’s be honest here, I was getting into this in the beginning. For someone who loved The Mediator, this is making me question whether I still do.

WARNING. Prepare yourself for some serious ranting. Which may or may not be grammatically correct. I do not care.



For one, there is a ghost. Two, only Juliet can see him. I was totally on board with it. Heck yeah I love ghosts and all things supernatural! But the romance took an overbearing turn, leading to a “I’m dead but you belong to me and I’m super jealous that you’re getting closer to this other guy”. DUDE, Hawk or whatever your name is, YOU ARE DEAD. DEAD. Unless by some miracle, by the end of this book, you live again, this is NOT okay! I really don’t blame Juliet here, for not holding on to your flower at times because she wants some peace and quiet.

I get it, you’re dead. This one woman means a lot to you because she can see you. But you (and really both of you) have to let it go. It won’t happen. LET HER GO. That’s true love okay?

Accurate gif of how I felt. Also, this is a great anime

I’m not sure why I have such strong feelings about it. I think it just hurt my head to see the main character tied down to someone who is dead. Someone who will be brooding in the background if she chooses another man over him. It just annoyed me to see how overprotected he was over her, even starting fights (with his somewhat ghostly powers) against others. I just don’t think I’m happy with the idea of this ghost having a say in Juliet's love life. And this makes me wonder whether this happened in The Mediator Series. A part of me doubts it, but I won’t know for sure until I reread the series.

I honestly have nothing else to say at the moment. This started out really strongly, until I became sick of the romance. I might change my mind about the book depending on whether I decide to pick it up again.

If I may ask, have you read this? Does it get better? How exactly does this "love" triangle play out, and did I decide too soon to DNF?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Diverse Reads: Graphic Novels!



Hello it's Val again. WITH GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS! More like Val needed 10 books to complete her Goodreads Challenge, and after last years embarrassing 99 out of 100 books (in which she added a picture book she read). This year, I WILL make 100 books, even though they will all be short.

First, I would like to say that the books featured here are 1) awesome and 2) one of which are by my fave and 3) Asian authors!

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: September 5, 2006
Source: Library
Date Read: 12/15/16
240 pages
Rating: 


All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn't want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he's ruining his cousin Danny's life. Danny's a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...

This is actually a reread, I read this such a long time ago, when I was a BABY (more specifically I was in middle school). I will be completely honest, I don't think I understood what I read back then, but I get it now. Sometimes I wonder if anything would have changed during my childhood if I fully understood the meaning behind this book. Maybe I would have looked at my own culture differently, because man does this hit home now.

I realize that I never fully explained what this novel is actually about. In this case, the title is pretty self explanatory. American Born Chinese is simply (but not so simply) about a Chinese American student who finds himself not being able to fit in at his school. There are three stories woven throughout this novel that all come back together in the end. There is a bit of magical realism, along with a short retelling of the Monkey King (woo!), BUT THE MESSAGE IS GREAT.

Shoutout to my dad, who maybe doesn't remember this, but he remarked back when I first borrowed this that I wasn't American Born Chinese but rather Canadian Born Chinese. Pretty sure there's no difference but I could be wrong.

I was initially going to review Saints by Gene Luen Yang as well, but I realized that it was a companion novel for a book I haven't read yet. I hope to get my hands on Boxers but until then I will wait.


This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Source: Library
Date Read: 12/16/16 to 12/16/16
320 pages
Rating: 

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.


Rashika recommended this one to me! And to be honest, I'm not exactly sure if this counts as a diverse book, but it is by two diverse authors (I may be wrong, it is hard to tell in graphic form)!

This was definitely interesting, in that the plot revolves around the two 15-year old girls, and their summer vacation together. Every year Rose and her family hang out at Awago Beach, where she meets up with her best friend Windy. Everything seems really simple, but the novel actually touches upon some very heavy topics. But it does it through the eyes of Rose, who doesn't fully understand what is going on or what kinds of consequences her actions may have. This is truly a coming-of-age story, and due to the graphic format and art of this book, it is easy to take Rose's perspective. But at the same time, you can tell that her thoughts and actions aren't always right.

I highly recommend this read as well. I'm just still impressed over how such little dialogue can have a profound effect on the story. The imagery really plays a role here, even if it is not as detailed as some other graphic novels out there.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

End Of The Year Book Survey 2016


Today, my dad asked me why I hadn't book blogged in so long. Well, it's because I'm lazy, ok? And it's been hard to be motivated to blog, especially as the year comes to a close. Also, have I mentioned that I've finished pretty much zero books? Other than Scythe, which I was supposed to review weeks ago? My bad.

But for those of you who are concerned, I haven't quit! I have at least two posts planned before 2017, one about diverse graphic novels I've read from the library, and then my review of Scythe. So stay tuned for that!

And of course, there's this! My year in review! This will be quite long as there are a million questions. This was created by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner, and here's the link back to the original post if you want to do your own!



Number Of Books You Read: 94 (As it's not quite the end of the year, I will update this later!)
Number of Re-Reads: 2!
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy, I'm sure.




1. Best Book You Read In 2016? Noooo, why do I just have to pick one? I'm definitely cheating.

 


2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Can we talk about how this was all of the 2016 releases (Looking at you Vassa in the Night and Of Fire and Stars)? I really hope it's not like that next year haha. But anyways, for me it will definitely be the Peaches book. I was really hoping to love it, but it made me really sad and therefore I couldn't enjoy it (my review)



3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? Mainly because I thought this was fantasy but it was not. Fortunately that didn't end up bothering me one bit.



4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? My friends finally read The Book Thief and I have no regrets.



5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016? The Raven King would be here, if I didn't finish the Abhorsen series. Which is my fave. Also the former kind of lacked in climax, unfortunately.

  


6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016? Everyone? Just kidding, I would say Shaun David Hutchinson. If you're not familiar with him, he wrote this great title, and has something new releasing next year!



7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? I struggled with this a bit because I haven't really read outside my comfort zone (whoops), but then I don't read much middle grade, but Furthermore was exceptionally good!



8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? This was a reread, but while reading, I was so happy to be rereading it. Never was I bored 😀



9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? I really want to say A Gathering of Shadows, but I'm not sure I'll have the time to. Because I always plan to but it never happens!




10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016? The first one that popped into mind was The Love That Split the World, but then I realized I read that in 2015 and not 2016. Boo. I did buy the UK Nevernight specifically for that cover, so I will say that!


11. Most memorable character of 2016? Manchee because pupper.



12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016? A lot of choices, but in the end I am going with The Song of Achilles.




13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016? Because everything he writes is thought-provoking.



14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? Technically I listened to the audiobook of this, but MAN this was one of the FIRST books I added to my GR list back in 2012, and I FINALLY got to it! And it was good!



15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016? From the above book. This literally tore me up into little tiny pieces. I was sobbing in the car as I was driving back home, listening to this.



16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016? Just going to leave this here.



17. Book That Shocked You The Most. More like was constantly shocked by the events of this book haha.



18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) I went down with this ship, it was painful.


19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year. I didn't read many friendship stories, which is SAD, except for This One Summer!



20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: Patrick Ness needs to be on the top of my list. I need all of his books asap.



21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: Here you go Amber.



22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016? NO ONE. EVERYONE SUCKS. Just kidding. I really love Alucard, and pretty much everyone from AGOS




23. Best 2016 debut you read? It's really a tie between Iron Cast and Timekeeper

 


24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? I'm currently reading Return Once More, so this is kind of cheating (until I finish it this year obviously). But I love the fact that Historians time travel and record past events! It is so cool.



25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? Sorry, I only read sad books.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016? This one again. Like I said. I full on bawled.




27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? Everyone needs to read this. Also the sequel is coming out next year! (!!!)




28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? Again. Though a lot of books crushed my soul. Like If I Stay, and also Leonard Peacock!

 



29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016? I can't decide. I read a lot of unique books this year.

 


30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? Nope, definitely hated this. I can't believe I spent $3 on this, and I really wished I returned it after reading it as it only took 30 minutes or so.





1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016? I don't exactly remember if I discovered them this year, but I love all the posts by CW @ Read, Think, Ponder and also Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016? Definitely Zenith. That was fun to rant about.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? The one where I discussed whether you could still love something even though it's problematic.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? First off, there was BEA16 (When it was actually called BEA). Oh and ALAMW16 as well! That was so much fun! AND the Make Me Read It Readathon was SUCH A SUCCESS. Ok now I am just listing everything.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016? All of it. Blogging is fun guys. I can't pick just one thing. I guess I would say when Ely and I hosted a readathon and it became really popular. Or the time where I received a physical ARC (WWII obviously)

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? The election results.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? I'm just going to go with my views because I'm lazy. But it's my sign up post for the Make Me Read It Readathon.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? Hmmm. Maybe that review of Spontaneous. Though I don't really care so much.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Probably Feedly. Though that's not exactly bookish. OH I really love Flyleaf books even though I've been there only once.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I will definitely read 100 books this year. Or at least I will try.




1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017? Pretty much all of them. And don't yell at me for not finishing Crooked Kingdom.

    


2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)? Do you even have to ask?



3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? Needed this book yesterday



4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017? Points to A Conjuring of Light above.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017? At this moment, I really am just holding on, and hoping that I won't end up quitting due to all the crap that's happened this year. Right now, my bar is set really low for 2017, but I guess if I were to set some sort of goal, I guess it would to not be pressured by my GR challenge. WHICH IS WHY I AM SETTING MY CHALLENGE TO 1 GUYS. IT'S GOING TO BE GREAT. Oh, and also to hang out and chat with my friends Shannon, Rashika, Holly, Amber, AND YOU TOO ZOEY we literally just spent an hour talking about you coming to visit me to go see lemurs at Duke. Let's do it.

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: Well. This is awkward because the only 2017 book I've read is Max, which I really liked. Unfortunately the cover is not the greatest in that it has an image of an unborn baby with a swastika on its arm. But, I thought it was a great WWII book and I would recommend it to others. It just....needs to have a cover change. Did I mention that when I mailed it to Shannon, the packaging was completely torn up, but the book itself suffered minimal damage! Definitely a demon book that one. Pretty sure the mail person saw it by accident and was like "NO" and proceeded to rip up the packaging even more, which I don't blame them for. I mean I like to believe this happened. 😂


WHEW I ANSWERED ALL THE QUESTIONS.

Have you guys filled this out yet? This is so long to get through I don't blame you if you read it all!