Thursday, December 7, 2017

Finishing All My 2017 ARCs! (Recap)


So, I am happy to say that I have finished reading all the ARCs I requested for 2017, which is actually a SUPER good feeling. And I’m also proud of that fact because 1) I don’t think I did the same last year, and 2) I really cut down this year in requesting because I knew I did not enjoy having a huge pile of required books to read. Honestly, it was such a good idea on my part because this year wasn’t exactly the best year in regards to the ARCs I had. And I’m not sure if it is because I am worn down and tolerate nothing, or because there truly wasn’t anything good.

I guess I wanted to use this post to recap all the review copies I have read for this year? Let’s take a look at my list:

(Yes I didn’t read four of them, oh well. It happens). But still, 24 read!


Favorite Reads

   

I think I can safely say Starfish (which isn't on this list even, because I didn't request it) for sure, followed by Goodbye Days, Gentleman’s Guide, and lastly Far From the Tree.

I’m just eternally grateful for Holly and Shannon for getting me a copy of Starfish, which features a biracial character dealing with social anxiety. It was such a refreshing read, with a character I could completely connect to. AND IT WAS AMAZING. Literally cannot shout about it enough.

Goodbye Days made me tear up, but not as much as the author’s debut, The Serpent King. Lastly, I loved both Gentleman’s guide and Far From the Tree, but both of them were quite long and took awhile to get into.


Reads I Could Have Done Without

   

Hahahah. I would say The Secret History of Us, Wait for Me, Almost Autumn, and then the last book I reviewed, Three Sides of a Heart.

The first three were just unbearably boring. I really liked Jessi Kirby’s previous books, but The Secret History of Us was missing A LOT, even though I was glad it was so short. Wait for Me was a bit meh, and I didn’t care for it too much. Same with Almost Autumn, which I’m bummed about because it was literally the first physical ARC I ever received in the mail (I KNOW right?). Lastly, and maybe because this is still very fresh in my mind, Three Sides of a Heart just didn’t wow me at all. Like I don’t even mind love triangles, but I was confused for more than half of the short stories in that anthology.


The DNFs

   

This year, I set my Goodreads Challenge to 1 book, AND IT WAS A LIFE CHANGER. No longer did I feel pressured to read and finish all the books. And so I definitely had a higher rate of DNFs this year than my previous years of blogging. So with that, I would definitely say The Sandcastle Empire, Wicked Like A Wildfire, The Bone Witch, and then Spindle Fire.

The Sandcastle Empire just really rubbed me the wrong way, with its setting of all poor people being evil and all. And then I’m a bit bummed about both Wicked Like A Wildfire and The Bone Witch, both books I just was not in the mood for, yet was anticipating. Lastly, Spindle Fire was just not my thing, and it was just so boring, that I HAD to stop.


The Enjoyables

   

Lastly, I want to end on books I very much enjoyed, but just didn’t make my favorites list. There’s Eliza and Her Monsters, Dare Mighty Things, Among the Red Stars, and then Wild Beauty.

I actually loved Eliza and Her Monsters, but I skipped the whole middle of the book! Because I just could not wait until I got to the reveal. So whoops. And there was also Dare Mighty Things, which I again, loved, until I got to the END. Among the Red Stars I thoroughly enjoyed, as it was another WWII book, but this time about Night Witches. But I have nothing to say other than that. Finally, I loved Wild Beauty, but definitely took time to get into!


That’s all I have to say about this year! How do you feel about this year’s releases overall? Are you looking forward to 2018?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Review: Three Sides of a Heart

Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles Edited by Natalie C. Parker
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: December 19th, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 11/19/17 to 11/23/17
448 pages


You may think you know the love triangle, but you've never seen love triangles like these.

These top YA authors tackle the much-debated trope of the love triangle, and the result is sixteen fresh, diverse, and romantic stories you don’t want to miss.

This collection, edited by Natalie C. Parker, contains stories written by Renee Ahdieh, Rae Carson, Brandy Colbert, Katie Cotugno, Lamar Giles, Tessa Gratton, Bethany Hagan, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, EK Johnston, Julie Murphy, Garth Nix, Natalie C. Parker, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir, and Brenna Yovanoff.

A teen girl who offers kissing lessons. Zombies in the Civil War South. The girl next door, the boy who loves her, and the girl who loves them both. Vampires at a boarding school. Three teens fighting monsters in an abandoned video rental store. Literally the last three people on the planet.

What do all these stories have in common?

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

Seeing as this is an anthology (and the first one I’ve read in a while), I’m going to be reviewing these stories one by one, and rating them individually!

I also do want to mention that I don’t mind love triangles, but uh…my opinion might change after finishing this entire anthology? Haha. Like there are definitely well written love triangles out there, but most of them flop.


Riddles in Mathematics by Katie Cotugno
3/5 – I liked this one, but contemporary isn’t really my thing. BUT Rowena is awesome, and she’s a lesbian, and the love triangle here is her, her childhood friend Taylor, and then her brother Steven. Though it was a bit predictable, I still appreciated the story as a whole. Plus the family dynamics were well done within a short time frame.

Dread South by Justina Ireland
2/5 – I just did not like this, as the pacing throughout was pretty rushed. Though I really liked Juliet, I wasn’t a fan of Louisa. Also like, just out of the blue, after watching Juliet kill a bunch of zombies, she wants to suddenly learn self-defense? Like where did this motivation come from? I get that this is a short story and so there isn’t much space to develop these things, but this urge definitely, randomly came out of nowhere.

Omega Ship by Rae Carson
2/5 – What is…going on. This is just a really gross concept so far, and reminds me of the movie Passengers way too much. CAN THIS END WITH BOTH OF THE GUYS DYING. Seriously this story is so vain.

“If we’re going to save humanity, I need to get pregnant right away and have as many babies as possible while I’m young and healthy and strong.”

Okay. This just ended out of nowhere. No conclusion whatsoever.

La Revancha del Tango by Renee Ahdieh
5/5 – WHY IS THE MAIN CHARACTER WEARING A DUKE SWEATSHIRT! The only thing I hate about this story is that Maya is going to Duke. But love that they refer to UNC as Carolina. I expected nothing less from Renee Ahdieh. Also I did not see where that story was going, and I loved it.

Cass, An, and Dra by Natalie C. Parker
4/5 – Surprisingly liked this one a lot! Cass is able to look into two different versions of the future, anytime there is a choice involved. And in an unchosen future, she meets Dra (who is genderfluid!). Yet she is in a relationship with An. This was written really well, flowed nicely, and definitely a favorite from this anthology.

Lessons for Beginners by Julie Murphy
4/5 – Things are finally looking up! Loved Ruby’s whole kissing business. And the fact that it led to her reconnecting with Annie. Kind of wish this was longer than a short story, but what an you do.

Triangle Solo by Garth Nix
3/5 – Okay, funny in that there is a twist, and this story focuses on avoiding playing the “triangle” part as part of being percussionists. And both Connor and Anwar both play percussion, but the new music teacher assigned a piece which includes a triangle solo. And so ok, now they need to decide who is going to play it. Then out of nowhere, this random girl shows up after so and so years, and Connor is excited and all he wants to do is look at her. Wait, apparently this is sci-fi? Is Anwar not human? What. Oh, wait everyone is on Mars.

Vim and Vigor by Veronica Roth
3/5 – Liked this one too! But it very much reminded me of the earlier short story, Cass, An, and Dra. Edie is struggling with a decision she needs to make, for prom, and so she asks her friend Kate about using her father’s super hi-tech decision-making equipment. This allows her to look into what could happen depending on the two decisions she is making.

Work in Progress by E.K. Johnston
2/5 – I have…no idea what just happened in this story. Uh, so this is in second person, and takes place on a spacecraft? But then later shifts to a medieval, fantasy world? No idea.

Hurdles by Brandy Colbert
3/5 – This was…good. I mean, to me running away with someone isn’t just something I can decide in two days. And it’s definitely not something I decide based on who I like. LIKE YOU ARE STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL???? I get that life is hard and there’s a lot of pressure, but…BUT.

The Historian, the Garrison, and the Cantankerous Cat Woman by Lamar Giles
3/5 – This was more about demon and monster hunting, though the writing was definitely not my style. It was easier to understand what was happening in the “Then” timeline, but not so much the “Now”. I think this would have been a much better story if it was developed more, and NOT a short story.

Waiting by Sabaa Tahir
3/5 – I enjoyed this story, which features Ani, an Indian-American MC and her relationship with Sam and Felix, both of whom are Mexican-Americans (I think Sam is?) But anyways, Sam recently got himself in jail, and Ani is kind of there just waiting for him. Because she loves him and all. Felix likes Ani too, but he’s definitely understanding of the situation. Kind of surprised with who she ended up with, BUT guess that kind of shows that you don’t owe anyone anything.

Vega by Brenna Yovanoff
2/5 – I…don’t know what happened here. All I know is that it takes place in New Vegas, has a bunch of partying, drinking, smoking, and…I know nothing besides that. Wanting an escape?

A Hundred Thousand Threads: Alaya by Dawn Johnson
2/5 – Right. I have no idea what happened here either. Something about someone being a spy, or making up a persona to infiltrate a political party? I have a feeling I’m getting this wrong, but I don’t know. Eternally confused.

Before She Was Bloody by Tessa Gratton
2.5/5 – This overall was pretty interesting, as in there’s murder, blood, cruelness all in the name of the gods and goddesses, but it wasn’t long enough to be super fleshed out. Hence, again, my confusion. I definitely would have enjoyed this more if it was a full-length novel.

Unus, Duo, Tres by Bethany Hagen
4/5 – Another favorite, although it was sad in the end. And it had vampires, and was one of the only stories that had both a m/m and m/f love triangle (yay)! (Okay to be fair, I think one more also had both, but I had no clue what was going on, ANYWAYS). This was also more bittersweet than I thought it would be.


Final Thoughts: There is a delicate balance between complexity and length one needs to keep in mind when writing a short story. I think it’s fair to say that some of these do that, while others don’t. This is easier done with contemporary, which those I definitely enjoyed in this anthology. Another thing that I would like to emphasize, is that some of the more complex stories just throw you in into this new world, and expect you to know everything about it. I get that these are short stories, but it was really confusing for me since I don’t share the same knowledge as that author. Which is again, why I was confused for almost half of these stories.

To conclude this very long review, this wasn’t my favorite anthology. Sure, some of the stories were very unique, but they mainly left me confused rather than content.