October Recap

The spookiest (and therefore best) year of the month has come and gone, and I had a better reading month than I did last month. Although I guess that isn’t saying much if I’m being honest. I read 1 book this month, including some of my most anticipated books of the year.

Long Way Down and For Every One by Jason Reynolds | Joint Review

March 9th 2018
★★★★☆

October 1st 2018
★★★☆☆

Jason Reynolds is an author who’s pretty new to me, and I’ve read two of his works so far this year. He has a unique writing style which is more spoken word than prose.

These two pieces are similar in structure, but thematically they’re very different.

In Long Way Down, we follow a boy whose older brother was killed, and he’s trying to determine if he should get revenge on the person who killed him. The book talks about rules, expectations, and pressure of society. The entire book takes place on an elevator, where 15 year-old Will is riding down while he debates whether or not to go through with his revenge. At every floor, the ghosts of his family members get on the elevator, adding to the story of what happened to his family, and his decision.

I listened to the audiobook, which was read by Jason Reynolds, and added a lot to the story.

As for For Every One, this book is a letter to himself, about dreaming, doing, and everything in between. I found the book good, but the style was not my favorite. It reminded me a lot of the poetry that Amanda Lovelace and Rupi Kaur write. Short, and straight to the point, without a lot of room for your own interpretations. This style of poetry is not my favorite.

I hope going forward that Reynolds writes more pieces like Long Way Down, because I’d love to read more of his work.

-Siobhan

Series I Do and Don’t Want To Finish

This week I thought it would be fun to look at some series that I really like, and can’t wait to continue, as well as some series that I wasn’t a fan of and share those.

So to start, here are three series that I will not be continuing.

This one will not come as any surprise to anyone, but this series was definitely not for me. I was not a fan of the main character. Contemporary and fluffy YA fiction just isn’t my taste anymore, and I’ve definitely learned that. A lot of people love this series, they made a movie adaptation, and I’m glad that the representation that’s in that movie is getting so much attention, but the rest of the series will not be something that I read.

The next series that I won’t be continuing is the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. I read the first book, Annihilation, back in January of this year, and I did not love it. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely was not for me. The book is extremely atmospheric, but I found it vague and a bit condescending. I tried the second book, and got less than halfway through before I ended up putting it down. A lot of my friends loved this series, but it definitely wasn’t for me. I have interest in the movie adaptation.

The final series that I won’t be continuing is The Young Elites by Marie Lu. I read Marie Lu’s Legend series back in high school, and really enjoyed them. When I tried to read this series last year, it felt like the main character was full of anger and malice, and I didn’t enjoy reading about them. I ended up DNFing this series, which was disappointing. Knowing how much I liked Lu’s first series, I’ll definitely give Warcross a shot.

I also have three series that I do want to finish. These are all series which have more books out in the series so far that I can catch up with, or they’re completed.

The first series is The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I have a review of the first book in the series, and I’m excited to continue with the second and third books in this series towards the end of this year and into next year. I like the format of this series a lot. I was afraid going into the first book that it would detract from the plot, but I found that it really enhanced the story and the relationship between the characters.

The next series is the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. I read the first book in the series earlier in the year and I’ve been looking forward to diving into the second book as well. This series is extremely intricate and dense, so I’ve been waiting for a time when I’m in the mood to really sink my teeth into the world.

Finally, the last series that I’m planning on finishing is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I finally started this series after having it on my TBR for years. I really enjoyed listening to the first book on audiobook and I’m definitely going to be getting to the rest of the series soon.

Those are all of the series that I do and don’t want to finish, at least for right now.

-Siobhan

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab | Book Review

September 29th – October 5th
★★★★☆

The wait is finally over. V.E. Schwab has released so much content recently, spanning across different age groups and genres. And this, the next installment in the Villains series.

This book takes place five years after the events of Vicious (review here), and continues to follow the original cast of characters from the first book, and a few new characters added into the mix, the shape-shifting June, and Marcella, who has the power to ruin anything she touches.

Spoilers for both books ahead.

At the end of the first book, Victor is in the ground, put there by Eli. Eli is in jail, captured by Detective Stell. Sydney and Mitch (along with Dol) are still driving, Sydney mourning the death of her sister.

And this book picks up right where it left off. We see Sydney bring Victor back, and all of the repercussions that this carries. Like the first book, this one is told from multiple perspectives, and bounces around in time, painting the picture that culminates in the final night.

The plot in this one is deceptively simple, but is executed perfectly. EON is a government agency who hunts down the EOs and neutralizes them, putting them in prisons. Eli is one of the EOs who is in this prison, and has agreed to work with Agent Stell to help track and find other EOs.

Victor is sick. Sydney bringing him back didn’t bring him back correctly, and every so often, Victor experiences the same death that he originally had to give him his power, and this is getting worse.

And then there’s Marcella, a woman who wants control and power and isn’t afraid to take it. After her attempted murder by her husband, she comes back full force with the power to ruin, and she uses it. She gets revenge on her husband, and then sets off to take over for the organized crime scene in Merit, the city that this book culminates in.

I loved this book a lot. Victoria Schwab’s writing is fluid and beautiful. I enjoyed this series so much and I’m definitely going to be moving her other series farther up on my TBR to read them sooner. She gives her characters so much depth, and I’ll read anything she writes.

-Siobhan

September Recap

Well, less the recap part, more the October TBR part.

If you read my last post, you’d know that I had a time in September trying to get through anything of note. Here are the books that I want to get through in October.

  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
  • Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

I didn’t read any of the books on my September TBR, which included some of these as well as The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I recently purchased this on audiobook, so I’m going to try and get through the full 45.5 hours of the audiobook during this time, so that can count as another book.

At the time of writing this, I’m currently one book ahead on my Goodreads TBR. If I can get through these books then I’ll be in a good spot for the rest of the year.

I’m also looking at participating in the Spookathon, a readathon hosted by BooksandLaLa on Youtube. She has five challenges and the readathon goes from October 15th-21st. If I end up participating, you can expect a post at the beginning and end of the readathon, but keep an eye out for posts every Friday!

Happy reading, and happy October!

-Siobhan

What Happened to September?

The worst thing you can do to jinx yourself is to say “Look at all of my consistent content! I’ll definitely keep this going!” Because it never happens. You never keep it going. Life gets in the way, and September is a really good example of that.

So, what happened to September? Two things.

  1. I didn’t read anything

  2. I made a decision.

Let’s start with the first one, and this is going to be a bit of a story. At the end of August, the last book that I had read was To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. At the time of that post, I had given the book four stars. I’ve since lowered that rating to 3. I started the second book at the end of last month, and had planned on completing the full trilogy right at the beginning of September.

That didn’t happen.

The second book in the series, PS I Still Love You was hard for me to get through. This is tough to explain, but I’ll do my best.

I read Jenny Han’s first series, The Summer I Turned Pretty, back in 2015. It was fine. They were okay books, and I was in a car with my family driving through Texas, so I was mostly using them to pass the time. I would never go back and read them again, or take any grand message from them, but they were just okay.

My biggest problem with that series was that they felt mostly immature. The main character was focused on how other people perceived her. Personally, I didn’t align too well with that message, and I found it a bit draining through the series. The sentences felt choppy and didn’t seem to connect to each other well, and it felt like the author was telling me about the characters, not showing me who they were.

With all of the buzz surrounding the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before movie on Netflix, and after seeing a lot of rave reviews from people I know and people whose opinions I typically align with, I decided to give this next trilogy a try.

The first book was fine, but in the back of my mind, something felt off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it seemed like my complaints from the last Jenny Han books I had read were rising to the surface. I finished the first book, and started the second, and those feelings doubled. I found myself not wanting to read, and putting off reading entirely, to the point that it’s now the 27th of September, and I have not read a single word.

So I tried to think about why this was, and I came to a conclusion. Contemporary YA with romance is not for me. I’ve been trying to force myself to read in this genre for so long and it just isn’t my style. I like characters with bite and substance, and I haven’t found any in this genre.

This is not me saying that this genre is terrible, or that anyone who reads it is immature, but I’ve just realized that it’s not for me anymore. So what do I like? I know that I like fantasy. I like character and plot driven stories. I do not like historical fiction, typically, unless it has some sort of magical element to it. I know that I like books which have politics and elemental magic, and that if they’re set in the desert I’m 100% on board.

September was a lesson in looking at my tastes and reevaluating them. I’m not in the typical YA demographic anymore. These books about high school romance aren’t targeted towards me, and it’s unrealistic for me to expect them to be.

I’ve decided to mark PS I Still Love you as my second DNF (did not finish) of the year, which is kind of sad for me. Maybe I’ll go back to it in the future, but I seriously doubt it.

Next month is going to be exciting. I have two vacations lined up, a bunch of books I want to get through, and I might possibly participate in a readathon, but I make no promises. I’m looking forward to getting out of this reading slump and back into some stories that I can really sink my teeth into.

-Siobhan

August Recap

Look at me! Two whole months in a row of consistent content! I think I finally hit a groove, it just took me seven months to get to this point. Scheduling posts in advance and posting them every Friday at noon has given me a nice schedule. I’m going to try and continue this trend for the rest of the year, and maybe even branch out into additional content as we round out 2018 and head into the new year. We’ll see!

For now, let’s talk about the things that I read in August!

I read 9 books this month, keeping myself ahead of schedule and bringing my total so far to 39 books for the year. This month I took part (unofficially) in Booktubathon to kick off my month. I read a full series (which I have a review for) a dramatic, heart wrenching contemporary, a fluffier contemporary, and a young adult thriller. 

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley – August 1st
★★★★☆

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – August 1st – 2nd
★★★★☆

Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness – August 2nd
★★★★☆

Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together – August 2nd
★★★★☆

Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe – August 2nd
★★★★☆

Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour – August 2nd
★★★★☆

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – August 10th – 12th
★★★★☆

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus – August 13th
★★★★☆

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – August 28th – 29th
★★★★☆

I also wanted to include a little bit of the books that I want to try and get to during September. Making TBRs always feels really restrictive to me, because I feel like I can’t branch out and read whatever I’m in the mood for. I’m putting a full disclaimer on this TBR that I may not get to any of these, but I’m hoping to. We’ll see, a lot of them are books I’ve been trying to get to all year.

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

To be completely honest, if I get through The Way of Kings I’ll be super impressed with myself. I’m far enough ahead that even if that’s the only book that I read this month I’ll still be okay.

I have a review coming out for one of these books next week, any guesses for what it might be?

-Siobhan

Scott Pilgrim Series by Bryan Lee O’Malley | Book Series Review

Scott Pilgrim Series by Bryan Lee O’Malley
August 1st – 2nd
★★★★☆ (each)

I don’t tend to read a lot of graphic novels. It’s a shame, too, because when I read them I find that I really enjoy them. I find them quick reads, and I like that the format lends itself to more comedic moments visually than a traditional book does. My partner really loves the Scott Pilgrim movie directed by Edgar Wright. During the course of our relationship, I don’t think I can count all of the times that we’ve watched it.

The movie has grown on me a lot. At first I found it really confusing, but I didn’t have any context. I’ve come to find it really funny, and I wanted to see if the graphic novels carried that same humor.

I was not expecting to like these as much as I did, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to like them more than the movie. Scott in the movie is a little pathetic. He’s kind of wandering through his life and doesn’t know what he wants to do. And Ramona in the movie is a bit dramatic. She talks about her dark past and wanting to escape, but says things like “I do that sometimes” which always really bothered me. I think that these two things are what prevented me from reading these sooner than I did, because I didn’t want more of that dynamic.

The books couldn’t be more different in this regard. Ramona has a backbone and a personality outside of her past in the books. She’s not confined to the love-interest and manic-pixie-dream-girl for Scott, but she has her moments where she acts out and gets scared. In the movie, they seem random and unprovoked. In the book we get more of a glimpse into her past, as well as indications about her desire to change, but how she keeps coming back to Gideon.

Scott is extremely different in the book as well. He still has his moments where he’s pathetic, but he’s less likable and more human. He’s more of a real person, who has his own flaws which mostly parallel Ramona’s. The two of them are a perfect couple, and this makes the ending of the series that much more sweet. He becomes one of her evil exes, then makes a conscious change and goes after her again. It’s wonderful.

A lot of the lines in the movie are directly taken out of the book, as are most of the transitions and the style decisions. I liked the consistency between page and screen, and the movie is definitely a faithful adaptation. The things lost in the movie are to be expected: exposition, backstory and things which there just isn’t time for when you’re condensing six volumes down into one feature length film.

I read all six of these over the course of a couple days. I highly enjoyed the art, reading them in color, and looking at all of the similarities between what I already knew and liked, versus what I now know and love.

Thank you for reading through this latest review, feel free to check out some of my recent reviews and come back next week for a look at more titles that I read.

-Siobhan

Scott Pilgrim Series by Bryan Lee O’Malley | Series Review

Scott Pilgrim Series by Bryan Lee O’Malley
August 1st – 2nd
★★★★☆ (each)

I don’t tend to read a lot of graphic novels. It’s a shame, too, because when I read them I find that I really enjoy them. I find them quick reads, and I like that the format lends itself to more comedic moments visually than a traditional book does. My partner really loves the Scott Pilgrim movie directed by Edgar Wright. During the course of our relationship, I don’t think I can count all of the times that we’ve watched it.

The movie has grown on me a lot. At first I found it really confusing, but I didn’t have any context. I’ve come to find it really funny, and I wanted to see if the graphic novels carried that same humor.

I was not expecting to like these as much as I did, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to like them more than the movie. Scott in the movie is a little pathetic. He’s kind of wandering through his life and doesn’t know what he wants to do. And Ramona in the movie is a bit dramatic. She talks about her dark past and wanting to escape, but says things like “I do that sometimes” which always really bothered me. I think that these two things are what prevented me from reading these sooner than I did, because I didn’t want more of that dynamic.

The books couldn’t be more different in this regard. Ramona has a backbone and a personality outside of her past in the books. She’s not confined to the love-interest and manic-pixie-dream-girl for Scott, but she has her moments where she acts out and gets scared. In the movie, they seem random and unprovoked. In the book we get more of a glimpse into her past, as well as indications about her desire to change, but how she keeps coming back to Gideon.

Scott is extremely different in the book as well. He still has his moments where he’s pathetic, but he’s less likable and more human. He’s more of a real person, who has his own flaws which mostly parallel Ramona’s. The two of them are a perfect couple, and this makes the ending of the series that much more sweet. He becomes one of her evil exes, then makes a conscious change and goes after her again. It’s wonderful.

A lot of the lines in the movie are directly taken out of the book, as are most of the transitions and the style decisions. I liked the consistency between page and screen, and the movie is definitely a faithful adaptation. The things lost in the movie are to be expected: exposition, backstory and things which there just isn’t time for when you’re condensing six volumes down into one feature length film.

I read all six of these over the course of a couple days. I highly enjoyed the art, reading them in color, and looking at all of the similarities between what I already knew and liked, versus what I now know and love.

Thank you for reading through this latest review, feel free to check out some of my recent reviews and come back next week for a look at more titles that I read.

-Siobhan

Top 5 Audiobooks

I’ve been listening to more audiobooks recently. Part of that definitely has to do with Audible having a sale, and the other part of that is that I’m reading a lot more non-fiction this year than I have in years past. In fact, looking at my current stats I’ve read 6 non-fiction books. That may not sound like a lot, but considering my average was between zero and one for the past however many years, I think I’m definitely branching out.

And audiobooks have become a majority of that reading. I like listening to authors read their own books: they’re intimate with the work and they give more life to the work. All of the non-fiction that I’ve read this year I’ve also listened to. For some of them I switched back and forth between the audiobook and the text depending on when I was listening. That being said I also listened to a few fiction books on audiobook, and have greatly enjoyed those as well.

I wanted to give you my overall top 5 audiobooks. I think this will be fun to look back on so I can see if I find that any of these change, or if they stay the same in years to come. I have some other plans for yearly statistics coming up towards the end of the year, so stay tuned for that as well.

These are in no particular order, so let’s just get into them.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey is an amazing writer, comedian, and all-around good person. As an aspiring writer, I find her work to be incredibly influential, and I look up to her so much. She’s not afraid to put herself out there both on the page and on the screen, and that becomes very evident in her book. This book had me laughing from the first page to the last, and I really enjoyed listening to Tina Fey read the book herself.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

In a similar vein, I recently listened to Amy Poehler’s book. My favorite part of this book were the guest appearances by other people I admire like Seth Meyers, and it was a lot of fun listening to her talk about some of the best parts of Parks and Rec and SNL. The stories in Poehler’s book were tangentially connected to Bossypants, so I was super glad that I read both of these this year to get the full context of their amazing story. Amy Poehler has a chapter called “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend”. A friend had told me about this chapter prior to me reading the book, and though I expected it to resonate to an extent, I feel like this book came to me in the perfect time in my life. I’ve since gone back and read that chapter a few times and listened to Amy Poehler read it. It honestly feels like she’s sitting in my car with me and giving me advice.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (Narrated by Gillian Flynn)

I know, I know, I wrote about this book last week. It’s just so good. One thing I didn’t mention in my full review of this book was that I listened to the majority of it on audiobook. The book was narrated by Gillian Flynn, who did an incredible job giving Michelle McNamara her own voice, while remaining respectful to the woman who wrote it. This story is extremely personal, and a lot of the time I forgot that Flynn was narrating it. I found myself gripping the steering wheel a bit too tightly as I drove home, completely immersed in the narrative. I loved this book a lot. It was an amazing reading experience, and an even better listening experience. If you haven’t already read this book, you should read that, and then go read my review of it.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

I’ll be honest, I chose this book for two reasons: it was short, and it was narrated by the author. This was one of the first books that I read this year. I listened to it on my ten minute commute to work, and was done within two or three days. I found it funny, charming, and insightful. This book touched on a lot of information that I did already have some knowledge about, and I did wish that it would branch out a bit further to give some more information, but I greatly enjoyed the little refresh it gave me. Maybe he’ll come out with a sequel called “More Astrophysics”. I would read that.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Narrated by Stephen Fry)

This is probably one of, if not the oldest book on my Goodreads TBR list. I added it in January of 2011, which is probably when I purchased the complete volume. I finally got to it this year, because it was narrated by Stephen Fry, and because it was relatively short and I was trying to catch up to get back to being ahead of my reading challenge. I had seen the movie previously and was not super impressed with it, so I was hesitant to go into it. I’m definitely glad that I listened to the audiobook instead of reading it. Stephen Fry made the piece seem more lighthearted and I enjoyed it a lot. I’ll definitely pick up the next installment soon.

That’s all of my current top five audiobooks! I hope you found something new to read here, and keep an eye out for next week where I’ll be having a full series review coming your way. (For a sneak peak of what that’s going to be, feel free to add me on Goodreads).

-Siobhan