Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #103

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Ten Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would

Are we going to play the "this book sucked" game, or the "this book was so much better than I expected?" I have no idea, I think it is definitely fun to bash books, so let's do that. Woo!

Literally looking forward to Of Fire and Stars since the beginning of 2016, and it just didn't work out for me at all. And for a ton of other readers as well. So I guess this really wasn't just a me thing.

Also was looking forward to Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit so much, even more than Of Fire and Stars. But that just, didn't end up working out for me either. I was just way to distraught and discouraged over the main character's father actions. Big nope for me.

I don't even know WHAT I read after finishing Vassa in the Night. No idea whatsoever.

I figured that after having good luck with the author's previous book, I would like Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. But that did not end up happening at all. Instead the book was fairly boring, and was really slow.

I WANTED TO LOVE Carry On. But I should've know that Rainbow Rowell couldn't write fantasy. Or at least couldn't write my expectations of fantasy. I set the bar too high.

Let us not go back to the trainwreck that was Zenith. The best part was that it wasn't even the whole book. Literally Part One pissed me off so badly that I just couldn't.

I'm pretty sad about Ivory And Bone, and I really wish it was the prehistoric fantasy we all deserved. Sadly it was not. Or at least it wasn't for me (and my buds).

Have I mentioned I fought so hard to get an ARC of Into the Dim? In the end it wasn't even worth it because I hated the characters wayyyy too much.

Riders wasn't that great either. I'm not so keen on the one special girl surrounded by all guys type of trope. Especially when she refuses to tell ANYONE what is going on. CUE FRUSTRATION.

To me, The Girl At Midnight felt like a carbon copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Maybe if I hadn't have read that first, I would have loved it. But sadly, nope.

To sum up, nope nope nopity nope to all of these.

I read most of these in 2016, which didn't end up being a good year for me reading wise. Hopefully this year is better!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: Traveler

Traveler by L. E. DeLano
Traveler #1
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Source: ALA Midwinter 2017
Date Read: 2/5/17 to 2/7/17
352 pages

Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all steampunk pirates and fantasy lifestyles—Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it…This Jessa is going to live.

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

Ever read one of those books where you know you’re not going to get a whole lot from it, but it was still a fun read anyways? This (and a bunch others I read this month) was one of them. Usually if a book featured some sort of time traveling or parallel universes, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it unless everything made sense. This didn’t end up being the case with Traveler. Not that that meant everything made perfect sense (Spoiler: it didn’t), but it just didn’t bother me as much.

The synopsis of Traveler is quite intriguing, hence why I picked this up. And though it’s nothing like one of my favorite video games, Bioshock Infinite, it definitely reminded me of it. For starters, there’s this whole multiverse thing going on, in which our main character Jessa can travel and embody her “other” selves in other, parallel worlds. In each of these worlds, society, along with Jessa, are a bit different. In one world she’s an amazing dancer, while in another her parents aren’t divorced. It’s all based on constants and variables really.

Excuse me as I flail over Bioshock Infinite, again. BUT CONSTANTS AND VARIABLES

And on top of that, we find out that someone is tracking down all the Jessas, and killing them. Finn, who is literally Jessa’s soulmate as they are together in almost every world, is determined to put a stop to it, with the help of their Dreamers (or more specifically “guides in the dream world”). This is one aspect of the story that just didn’t make much sense to me at all. Let me break it down.

Dreamers basically guide Travelers on their missions. Remember how there’s probably an infinite number of Jessas? Well it was never really explained whether each Jessa had their own Dreamer, or if they all had the same one. Or maybe they all had different versions of the same one? See how it gets confusing? Well anyways, these Dreamers basically give Travelers “quests” that change the trajectory of other worlds. For example, a quest may involve recommending an amazing book to someone, which later will lead them to come up with the cure for cancer. Apparently Dreamers can predict these kinds of things. The weird thing though, is that Travelers have to travel to another self in order to complete these quests. But why? Why not just have that specific individual (that specific Jessa, for example) recommend the book herself? Why use another Jessa from another world? Well, the reasoning behind it is apparently emotional ties. Because I would definitely feel real emotional recommending a book to some rando. Okay.

Second, it seemed like the main Jessa we are reading about is the only one traveling to other Jessas. Why is it just her traveling? Why is no one else asking her for permission to enter her body? Maybe this just isn’t featured in the book? I will never know.

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe this book bothered me more than what I’ve let on. Well, yes, some parts did bother me a bit, but overall I really enjoyed the idea of it all. Though I don’t think I buy the whole “Every Finn and every Jessa are the same person”, because I don’t think they are. But in the end, I’m still looking forward to continuing on with the series. Hopefully it’ll my questions will be answer, and the second will be even better than the first!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: Wait for Me

Wait for Me by Caroline Leech
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 2/4/17 to 2/5/17
384 pages
Rating: 1/2

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

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

So, it’s come to the point where I am not really having many thoughts for the books I read. And this includes this one right here, which surprisingly, is another WWII book. Wait for Me was a nice read, but it really wasn’t anything special. It also received a ton of attention as it was assumed to be a forbidden romance between a Nazi and a young Scottish woman. Though I do want to point out that the character was a German POW who didn’t want to fight in the war, I understand why some readers are tired of reading about stories that put Jewish people in the background.

Onto the review!

Though Wait for Me was easy to read, it didn’t really bring anything new. Most of the story focused on the drama of a relationship between Paul and Lorna, the drama between Lorna and her best friend Iris, and the weird and somewhat forced relationship between Iris and William (who was such a pompous ass, I couldn’t stand him). As someone who loves to read about uplifting, hopeful, and somewhat sad stories that take place during WWII, I was slightly disappointed.

Then again, maybe I should have paid attention to what I signed up for? I’ve been meaning to read more romance-y novels, but the relationship in this one just didn’t entice me enough. I enjoyed the characters, but they are pretty forgettable.

On the other hand, I did like the different cultural references. German phrases were thrown in to make Paul seem more authentic, though whether they were accurate or not I’ll never know. Also I want milk and tea from Scotland now. Is that actually a thing? You know what’s missing though? The Scottish accent. That’s a thing right? Maybe it was better it wasn’t written out on paper, because as a non-Scottish person, I probably would have had such a hard time reading the book. I don’t know, I guess accents aren’t really portrayed in books. Maybe I’m just going off on a tangent for no reason, whoops.

I also noticed that the writing was surprisingly simple. This almost read like Middle Grade (totally stole this from Shannon as we were discussing the book). I read YA because I need that break from my graduate school work, but I think this was slightly too simple for me. I needed more to the writing style!

I don’t regret reading Wait for Me, and overall I do think it’s a pretty good novel. I just wasn’t as engaged as I wanted to be. Hopefully I’ll read better WWII books in the future, because I am already 0 for 2!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #102

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Graphic Novels!

I was so tempted to put every single Ms. Marvel comic on here, because of what happened last weekend. I won't since I have a lot to recommend (and also want to read), but just know that I am very much emphasizing Ms. Marvel. It's a great comic and it has great representation.

Like I said, Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal is a GREAT place to start if you're new to comics. Also it features Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, and she is amazing. And a teenager. And a Muslim.
Saga is one that I recommend again and again and again. It's also a great place to start if you're new to comics AND graphic novels in general. The thing that makes me hesitate about superhero comics is that it's hard to find a place to start, and there's so much background on a certain character, that it's tough to know what "series" to read. With Saga, you don't need to know anything at all. Just pick up the first volume, and before you know it, you'll be on the fifth.

I raved about this earlier, but YES to American Born Chinese. Totally resonated with me (10 years later). It also is #ownvoices, and brings in the story of the Monkey King.

I recently read This One Summer, and loved the simplicity, yet hard hitting messages it conveyed. If you find this in your library, check it out ASAP.

I read Maus years ago for my English class. It was a great pick for 10th grade. Even though I don't remember much about it, I remember 1) loving it and 2) being more aware about what happened during WWII. If you love reading about WWII as much as I do, pick this up! 

After reading Ms. Marvel, I also picked up Captain Marvel (Marvel Now) #1, and loved that as well. Though I was more confused with this one, as I didn't know the history of Captain Marvel. However I still enjoyed the story and the series! 

I read The Graveyard Book and loved it, which is why I picked up the graphic novel version of it. And I was impressed! Rather than having only one artist, each chapter was drawn in a different style by different authors. I started to appreciate the diversity of the art after a couple of chapters (because to be honest I wasn't sure how I felt about it at the beginning).

Batgirl, Volume 1, in which never have I been more happier to see Batgirl back in action! I only was able to read the first volume, but I have yet to check the local library for the rest of the series.

Then there is Everything Is Teeth, which is about SHARKS. I can't say much else except that haha.

Lastly, there is White Sand, which is by Brandon Sanderson. I will never NOT recommend Brandon Sanderson, so of course he makes it onto this list!

Have you read any of these? I'm constantly on the lookout for more graphic novels at the library, so feel free to recommend me some!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: Almost Autumn

Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Source: Publisher
Date Read: 1/15/17 to 1/17/17
278 pages
Rating: 1/2

Everything starts this autumn.

It’s October 1942, in Oslo, Norway. Fifteen-year-old Ilse Stern is waiting to meet boy-next-door Hermann Rod for their first date. She was beginning to think he’d never ask her; she’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember.

But Hermann won’t be able to make it tonight. What Ilse doesn’t know is that Hermann is secretly working in the Resistance, helping Norwegian Jews flee the country to escape the Nazis. The work is exhausting and unpredictable, full of late nights and code words and lies to Hermann’s parents, to his boss…to Ilse.

And as life under German occupation becomes even more difficult, particularly for Jewish families like the Sterns, the choices made become more important by the hour: To speak up or to look away? To stay or to flee? To act now or wait one more day?

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

If you don’t know me by now, you’ll see that I will request and review pretty much anything related to WWII. (And if you haven’t noticed the political climate in the US, you’ll know that this is very much needed). Unfortunately, this story ended up being a bit too simple for me. With POVs changing constantly with no warning whatsoever, and a story that did not bring anything new to the table (other than the setting, maybe), Almost Autumn wasn’t my cup of tea.

Almost Autumn starts off with our Jewish main character (yay!) Ilse, being stood up by her long time crush, Hermann. Though this seems devastating at the time, little does she know that the Nazis are out to get her and her family. And although Hermann secretly works for the Resistance, he struggles with his choice about telling Ilse about his job.

Other than the above, there’s nothing much to say about Almost Autumn. With discussion about the inclusion of Jewish main characters in YA, I was delighted to see one featured here (even though it is still in the setting of the Holocaust). But honestly, my delight ended there. Most of my problems stemmed from the writing, which was simple and bland at times. However, as this was translated from Norwegian, I wouldn’t be surprised if some things were lost in translation.

Another thing that bothered me a bit was the number of POVs, and how the story jumped from one character to the next with no warning. On one page, we’re with Hermann and his thoughts about the occupation. On the next, we’re with the next door neighbor, who is debating on whether to resist or not. The closer I got to the end of the book, the more inconsistent it became.

Lastly, each WWII novels I’ve read told a different, unique story. And although Ilse’s story needed to be told, I felt that it wasn’t compelling enough. There wasn’t much depth to the characters, and the plot was as simple as the writing. Overall, I feel like I learned nothing new.

As my first read of 2017, I’m hoping that this will be my only “meh” read. But I did end up finishing my Goodreads Challenge (of one)! So there’s that piece of good news!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #101

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten New Releases I Am Excited For!

I may have missed doing this topic a couple of weeks ago, but HERE IT IS, for my freebie! Because why not. Honestly I didn't know much about 2017 coming in, but now I'm much more familiar with what will be releasing in the next upcoming months.

I should probably clarify that this most likely covers the first half of 2017!

There's really no doubt that A Conjuring of Light is my all time highly anticipated for this year. It's the final book of the series, and I'm honestly not quite sure how I will feel after I finish.

I am actually currently reading When Dimple Met Rishi right now. And you know what? I actually wasn't as excited about it before I picked it up. Now I am hooked and I understand the hype. The hype is real. (Also CODING!)

Still beyond excited for It's Not Like It's A Secret. I do hope that there are some edits before the final book comes out though. Because I really needed this book yesterday, and it needs to be perfect. Really hoping I am not overhyping this in my head hahah.

Guys this is Elizabeth Wein's new book, The Pearl Thief, AND HOW COULD I NOT BE EXCITED? I have read every one of her WWII-related books (now I know all about planes) and of course this will be my next. ALSO FREAKING PREQUEL.

I am a huge fan of Shaun David Hutchinson so I will read anything of his even if I know nothing about it. At the Edge of the Universe is already preordered and I have no regrets. 

I have also been looking forward to Noteworthy since 1994 (just kidding since a couple months ago). Anything with acapella in it just cannot go wrong.
Daughter of the Pirate King just sounds amazing. Because pirates. AND WOW I WAS JUST REMINDED THAT I AM SUPER EXCITED FOR THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS AS WELL. But I forgot to add it to this list! Let's just say I am just excited for pirates.

Coding guys. Coding. Girl Code may be non-fiction, but I will read and promote anything that has to do with girls and coding. 
Strange The Dreamer is definitely on top of this list as well. I've been waiting forever for it, so hopefully it is as good as it sounds! Also I may have preordered both the US and the UK edition because I just could not decide which I wanted more. Whoops.

Another Victoria Schwab novel! Our Dark Duet is the continuation of This Savage Song and I would be lying if I said I didn't need it ASAP.

That is a very very short list of what I am looking forward to from now til June! Obviously there are tons more on my TBR. What are you highly anticipating?

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

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.