Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: October 2015

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Are you excited for Halloween? Are you dressing up? I posted a preview of my costume on my Instagram yesterday. It's kind of book related because it's inspired by the series I just reread in preparation of a November release. Anyway, the reason for this post. I don't usually do these book haul posts because I am on a book buying ban and don't get a lot of review books to warrant doing it every week. But I actually got a ton of books this month with author signings, preorders, and books for review so I though I would share the books that I acquired this month.


1.) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - (Add to Goodreads / My Review)
2.) Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson - (Add to Goodreads / My Review)
3.) The Rose Society by Marie Lu - (Add to Goodreads / My Review)
4) Ice Like Fire by Sarah Raasch - (Add to Goodreads)
5.) Landline by Rainbow Rowell - (Add to Goodreads / My Review)
6.) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - (Add to Goodreads)
7.) Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater- (Add to Goodreads / My Review)
8.) Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K.Vaughn and Fiona Staples - (Add to Goodreads)


9.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling - (Add to Goodreads)
This beauty came from my amazing Secret Sister. I cannot express how excited I am about it and how incredible she is.

For Review

10.) Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase - (Add to Goodreads)
Family secrets, forbidden love, and a gothic manor house. This sounds like a total me book. Plus I really like the cover, it's so interesting.

11.) In Real Life by Jessica Love - (Add to Goodreads)
Contemp is hit or miss for me but I like the sounds of this one. The good girl being impulsive is stuff I usually like.

12.) The Passenger by Lisa Lutz - (Add to Goodreads)
I'm always looking for a good thriller and I like the sounds of this one. The characters sound pretty dark which I like a lot.

13.) The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie - (Add to Goodreads)
Space pirates. That's really all I need to know. No but honestly this sounds like a pretty unique Sci-Fi debut.

So those are all the books I got this month. Way more than I normally get. A lot of my pre-orders came in and with book signings I bought more books than usual. What books did you get this month? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, October 30, 2015

On Reread: Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger

On Rereads is a monthly feature on My Thoughts Lit where I talk about the books I reread during the month. It's an opportunity to share some new thoughts on a book I read before and usually to prepare for a new release. For the foreseeable future I plan to do one reread a month so I want to share my thoughts on these books the second time around.

Remember how I said I was going to reread The Finishing School series and The Lunar Chronicles by the end of the month. HAHAHA, that was funny. I don't know what I was thinking. I behind on my TBR to begin with so what males me think that I will be able to do twice as many rereads than I have ever done. It was very optimistic and I totally failed at that. But I did get a chance to finish one of those series so here is my thoughts on the audiobooks for....

Finishing School Series by Gail Carriger

Etiquette and Espionage -  (Amazon / Goodreads / AudibleMy Review)

I read this series a year ago and it was right about that time that my interest in steampunk really started taking off. I remember absolutely loving the world of this book.Gail Carriger is a master of combining fantasy and science fiction with magical creatures inhabiting a world of technology and for lack of a better word, robots. The contrast is so interesting and there is so much conflict. I also adore the boarding school here and it was great to experience that again.

But what really struck me during my reread is how much stuff from this book comes into play during the rest of the series. When I first read it, I didn't find the plot very interesting because it felt like a lot of setup. But knowing where the story was going, I saw the clues and hints that I missed the first time. I found it so much more complex this time around and very impressed with Carriger's writing and the fact that she clearly planned this whole thing out really well.

Curtsies and Conspiracies (Amazon / Goodreads / AudibleMy Review)

With Curtsies and Conspiracies it was much the same as Etiquette and Espionage. I loved the world so much and the exploration of the supernatural with the steampunk. I noticed during this book that it seems to be that I remember so little about middle books. I forgot a lot about the plot of this book and found myself thinking, "is this the book where this happens?" One thing I do I remember is loving all the information about vampires the first time around. Plus the conflict here is also really cranked up and so this time around I also found it much more complex because I saw the big picture more and where things were going.

I also found in this case that I really enjoyed the audiobook in this series. There are a lot of different people from different places and the narrator does such an amazing job doing a French accent, a Scottish accent, even a Cockney accent. I loved the characterization and the personality she gave to each character it fit so well. The only one I didn't like was Vieve. I love her as a character but I found her voice grating and I wanted her to be less involved so I didn't have to hear it. But then I felt bad because I love Vieve. In general I did find that I loved the audio and think Moira Quick is a fantastic narrator.

Waistcoats and Weaponry - (Amazon / Goodreads / AudibleMy Review)

Waistcoats and Weaponry was when I really fell on love with this series. I loved the way things were developing and felt like this time around there was less exposition and more actual plot development. There is also a ton more conflict and things are more political here. But despite the fact that this was my favorite book the first time around, it was a bit of a disappointment during my reread. It's not that I didn't like it, I just didn't get anything new out of it and with rereads that is a lot of the point.

But the thing that I did love about this book is the character development. I have gotten so attached to these characters after three books and therefore this one is much more of an emotional read. I remember getting hit in the feels for the first time in this book and it definitely happened again. The fact that I like the characterization during the audio made that even worse.

Now I am ready for Manners and Mutiny, the last book int the series. I'm really excited to find out what happens with the characters, especially Sophronia. It comes out next Tuesday at which point it will magically get delivered to my kindle so I can start reading. I won't be able to continue with the audio though. I am however considering continuing with this series. This is technically a prequel series. The series Carriger originally wrote is the Parasol Protectorate, which is I think 30 years after this series and involves a few characters. I'm liking the world so much I may not want to let it go.

Have you read the Finishing School Series? Have you done any rereads lately? What books? Do you like doing rereads or not? Tell me why.  Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

ARC Review: After Alice by Gregory Maguire

Title: After Alice
Author: Gregory Maguire
Published: October 27, 2015 by William Morrow (Harper Collins)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis's Carroll's beloved classic 

When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice's disappearance? 

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll's enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice's mentioned briefly in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself. 

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is After Alice

*** I recieved an advanced copy of this book from the publisher at BEA. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I'm a big fan of Gregory Maguire. I have read many of his books over the years and he continues to entertain me with interesting takes on beloved classics. To me, he is the master of the retelling. So when I saw that he would be at BEA with copies of his new book, I of course had to get my hands on a copy. I was excited to see his take on Wonderland and I was not disappointed.To me, this book is classic Gregory Maguire.

Every time I read one of Maguire's books I am reminded just how much I love his writing style. It's very particular. It has a specific flow and feel to it. The writing is a bit clipped and almost utilitarian. Sometimes with fantasy books and retellings, the author tries for prose that flows with beauty and elegance but Maguire is not like that at all. It sounds like that would be a bad thing but it isn't. It has it's own kind of poetry. It forces you to slow down and take your time with the words. I absolutely found that with After Alice. It's not a long story but I wanted to take my time reading it. The chapters are short but it's not the kind of book that you can power through and read in one sitting. It's the kind of book that forces you to think more critically as you take your time exploring. It took a little while to get accustomed to but when I did, I was really enjoying it.

Unsurprisingly, once again, I loved the retelling aspect of this story and his world-building. This is such an interesting spin on a classic story. Mostly because this book has nothing to do with Alice. Well, that's not entirely true, she is a part of this story, but instead it is actually a book about everyone else. It's part historical fiction as we are taken to 19th Century Oxford with Alice's sister and the local families who are looking for their children. It's also part retelling as we travel to Wonderland but see it through someone different. This is definitely the Wonderland that you know and love. Throughout the story we come across the characters who inhabit this world and locations that are oh so familiar. The Cheshire cat is confusing, the Caterpillar is intimidating, the White Rabbit is illusive, and the Queen of Hearts is shopping off heads it seems far less whimsical. Wonderland is kind of a treacherous place full of obstacles and challenges standing in our hero's way and crazy people adding to if not being those obstacles. And while here it is much of the same, seeing it through fresh eyes makes it feel very different. It is no less absurd and challenging but somehow the fun and whimsy is gone. But that is also classic Maguire. This is not the first classic story he's given a bit of a harder edge and made seem less childlike and fantastic. But that's what made the world so interesting and unique.

But perhaps the different feeling of the world is caused from our characters. Our main character here is Ada, who is so very unlike Alice. Alice is curious, emotional, and rash. Alice seems to be deeply affected by everything she encounters on her journey through this magical land. Ada however, being more thoughtful and intelligent is not as phased by it. She has a goal in mind and will accomplish it despite the challenges. She seems more prepared for Wonderland and frankly better equipped to deal with it's eccentricities. Oddly enough however that makes them seem all the more scary. It's such an strange contradiction. Perhaps it is because Ada is more of a pessimist. She expects the worst so we see the worst. Or maybe because she is singleminded and doesn't view this all as some sort of fun adventure and escape. Ada is less whimsical herself the world reflects that too. It makes for a generally very interesting world and interesting characters.

But I will say I did find the constantly back and forth of the locations to be a bit problematic in terms of the plot development. The two stories connected well but when we were in one place I found myself missing the other. Well honestly, I found myself missing Wonderland. I did like that the book looked at what it may have been like for those around Alice when she went missing, but it detracted a bit from the Wonderland storyline. This way we didn't really get to see things there as much as I would have liked. If it was just in Oxford maybe with a small bit at each chapter from Alice in Wonderland that would have been interesting. But with the two different locations it made things hard to follow at times. I enjoyed both sides but with such a short book I felt like there really wasn't enough time to develop either side.

But on the whole, After Alice was a good and a really interesting retelling. It was great to read another book from a favorite author and see his take on a new and different fantasy world.

I give After Alice by Gregory Maguir 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. This is not really the kind of book for a casual reader who likes retellings. I would definitely recommend it to those who are fans of Alice in Wonderland though. It's a unique spin on the classic and you get to see the story from a few different angles. I would also recommend it to fans of Gregory Maguire. It has his style all over it and if you are a fan, like me, I think you will enjoy it.

Have you read After Alice? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine

This is about the second book in a series so beware of spoilers! (Like in the synopsis). If you haven't read ADSOM do it and come back. Here's my review to encourage you - READ IT

Title: A Gathering of Shadows
Series: A Darker Shade of Magic #2
Author: V.E. Schwab
Published: February 23, 2015 by Tor (Macmillan)

Synopsis: Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

Why I'm Waiting 

I was originally planning on doing a different book for today's WoW but then I got my postcards from the pre-order contest for A Gathering of Shadows so I was had to push this up in the plan because, wow I am so excited about this book. So far A Darker Shade of Magic is my favorite read of 2015 [MY REVIEW]. And there is some serious competition for that spot. But despite having read ADSOM in February I can't help but still gush about how amazing it is. It is one of the most creative fantasies I have read in a long time.

One of the things I loved about ADSOM and I'm excited for this book is the characters. I seriously cannot explain how much I love Lila Bard and how excited I am to see her develop in this book. I want to see Lila as a pirate but I also want to see other magically related things. Plus Kell and Rhys and the new characters. And the shipping you guys. I love them all.

But the best part of this series is the world building. Four different Londons with very different views and experiences with magic. Plus, did you read the synopsis? BLACK LONDON IS BACK! This is going to get dark and epic and amazing. I can't wait.

What about you? What are you waiting for this Wednesday? Have you read A Darker Shade of Magic? Are you waiting on A Gathering of Shadows along with me? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Book Covers to Decorate Your Pumpkin With

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

Hi Everyone. So today's topic is Halloween freebie. I was going to do bookish costumes like I did last year but I thought I would do something a little different. That's when it hit me. Pumpkins. That's what fall is all about, right? Pumpkin everything. So here are the ten book covers I think would make amazing jack-o-lanterns.

1.) These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
I mean all the covers in the Starbound trilogy would be amazing but just imagine how gorgeous Lilac's dress will look on a pumpkin with Tarver trying to reach out to her. Plus the stars in the background. Yup, amazing.

2.) A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab 
A Darker Shade of Magic would look amazing as well (I mean I love maps) but I think AGOS is more Halloweeny. The hands reaching out from the bottom. Plus it has Lila and she deserves to be on a pumpkin in all her pirate glory.

3.) The YA tie-in Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
The world needs all the Vin pumpkins. I absolutely love these covers. They are some of my favorites. Imagine three pumpkins: one has Vin in mostcloak with glass daggers, one has vin with the koloss sword, one has Vin on a dead koloss.

4.) Jackaby and Beastly Bokes by William Ritter
In the hands of a skilled pumpkin carver this will be amazing. They could do that whole shading thing so you can see the  figure inside the silhouette. It will look really amazing. And an unskilled carver could just do the silhouette.

5.) Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
I was going to pick one book from this series but I couldn't pick one because they seriously would all be amazing. All the Celaena pumpkins. Celeana in her cloak, Celeana with her daggers, Celeana with a bow, Celeana with Damaris.

6.) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stefvater
I take it back. Nothing says Halloween like a bunch of pumpkins with ravens on them. Plus I just like the design of these covers. They are whimsical and dark which I think would be really fun on a pumpkin.

7.) The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
And this is another one where I couldn't pick just one. With the palace on the bottom and the flowing and intricate designs (like antlers, sea dragon, and firebird) going up from there they would look so amazing as jack-o-lanterns.

8.) Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Nothing says Halloween like a  a dragon attacking a castle on a pumpkin. Plus again in the hands of a skilled pumpkin carver the woodcut design of this cover would look really amazing. It's intricate enough to look really cool all lit up.

11.) Snow Like Ashes and Ice Like Fire by Sarah Raasch
So I'm reading  Ice Like Fire right now and the cover is seriously amazing and gorgeous. It would look really cool on a pumpkin. Plus again, if you can do that whole shading thing then you could make is even better but just the chakram would be cool.

9.) The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
This cover is so dark and dramatic, I think using it to decorate a pumpkin would be amazing. And it's another one that you could make more complicated with shading but it would look just as cook if you had a basic silhouette with the branches in the background.

10.) Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Oh man, imagine this cover on a pumpkin with the city in a bottle and the ship underneath. It would look so cool and would probably confuse some people. But also just the letter would look amazing on this.

12.) Winter by Marissa Meyer
So this a little inside joke. I mean these covers are great and would look fun on a jack-o-lantern, don't get me wrong. But I just love the idea of putting an apple on a pumpkin because I feel like apple season gets overshadowed by the commercialization of fall and all things pumpkin spice.

There you go. Those are the covers I think would make amazing jack-o-lanters. If you are looking for a last minute way to decorate your pumpkin then here you go, use these covers. What one is your favorite? Which one would you use to decorate your pumpkin? Or what did you carve your pumpkin to look like? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Book review: The Rose Society by Marie Lu

Title: The Rose Society
Series: The Young Elites #2
Author: Marie Lu
Published: October 13, 2015 by Putnum Young Readers (Penguin)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all. 

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her. 

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

*** This is the second book in the series. There are not spoilers in this review but you should read The Young Elites before you read this. It's fantastic so just read it, okay. ***

Last year when I read The Young Elites it wrecked me. I mean this of course in the best possible way. It was one of my favorite reads of 2014. Never before have a read such a dark and entrancing YA fantasy with such complex characters. I usually don't love first books in a new series but The Young Elites I did. So when I started The Rose Society, I was both and nervous to see where the story would go. But Marie Lu has done it to me again. She has upped the ante and created another dark and enthralling fantasy read that has left me reeling.

It didn't think it was possible but The Rose Society may even be darker than The Young Elites. We pick up shortly after the events of The Young Elites where things did not go well for Adelina. Now she is plotting her revenge. The plot starts out a little slow but we are honestly just being lulled into a false sense of security. This book is like that quote in Game of Thrones "if you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." Once again this book builds to an absolutely thrilling, edge of your seat climax. Along the way there are huge reveals and twists that you don't see coming and keep the shock value going throughout the book. There is also of course tons of action scenes where the characters can show off their powers. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. From the emotional toll it takes on you to the bursts of thrilling action I was flipping pages like a maniac needing to know what happens next and staying up way to late reading.

But the plot is not the only thing that is darker about this this book. The characters too are even darker. While this is the kind of book that has multiple perspectives let's be honest, it's all about Adelina Amouretu. And wow, do I love her. She's has gained some understanding and mastery of her powers and it's amazing to see her use them but they are taking their toll on her mentally and emotionally. She's such a complex and deep character. Deep, dark, damaged, and delightful. This is essentially a villain origin story and by the end Adelina descends into into a madness so extreme that it is both terrifying and exciting. What I like most about Adelina is that she's a character doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons but it feels so right. In The Young Elites it was like a peak into her past. It showed all the bad things that led up to her being evil and because you are along with her through all of it you want her to fight back. She's just a product of her environment after all. I shouldn't support her ruthlessness but she's still so sympathetic. How do you do that Marie Lu? How?

But that may be because all of these characters are devious and self-interested. Every. Single. One. We get more time with some old characters who have development that makes you love and hate them at the same time. Of course Teren Santoro is back being crazy and terrifying. His self-loathing and his devious actions are pretty next level here. Raffaele is also back and manipulating people with his powers. His character arc throughout this series is such an interesting one. And Violetta is back as well. She seems to be the only person who is keeping Adelina grounded. Their relationship is so complex. You can tell they love each other but they both don't always know the best way of showing it is. Violetta is a character I wish had POV chapters to be entirely honest. I want a look inside her head. Then there are the new characters. We get to see Maeve more who was introduced at the end of The Young Elites and I want more of here, she's really interesting. And we also get some new Elites who are pretty dark as well. Like I'm pretty sure even Marie Lu's lovable rogue, a thief who helps Adelina, is dark and devious.

We also get to explore more of the world of this series, a world just as dark. The magical system here is one of my absolute favorites. There are clear rules and the powers come from a very specific place but they are also so varied and interesting. And everyone's powers are getting so much stronger now, especially Adelina's so it's great to see them used and explored. And some of the new characters have really amazing and interesting powers as well. We also get to explore more locations. In the beginning of the book there are representatives of new cultures and new locations to visit. But the best new knowledge of this world was the exploration of the powers. I am so curious to see where this will lead us in the final book. I of course have a harebrained theory about what the endgame will look like. And that to me is the sign of a great book. If I'm theorizing I'm invested.

And I'm definitely invested in The Rose Society. Once again Marie Lu blew me away with this dark fantasy world. The characters are complex and devious, the plot is action-packed and full of shocking twists, and the world is interesting and unique. But be prepared when you read this book, it will hit you right in the feels.

I give The Rose Society by Marie Lu 9.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: BUY! If you loved The Young Elites you will not be disappointed by the next installment of this series. It's dark and emotional in the best possible way. Without a doubt this is a book that fantasy fans should get their hands on, especially if you want a dark villain origin story. It's unlike anything in the YA fantasy game right now and it's amazing!

Have you read The Rose Society? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Review: The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Title: The Slow Regard of Silent Things
Series: Kingkiller Chronicle #2.5
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Published: October 28, 2014 by DAW (Penguin)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. 

Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries. 

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows... 

In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.

*** This is a novella that is a part of a larger series. It doesn't really have spoilers but you should still read those first. They're fantastic, trust me. ***

You may know that for me, 2014 was the year of Sanderson. I read eight of his books and I absolutely fell in love with his writing style. If I were looking for someone to make this the year of, I could say that it's the year of Patrick Rothfuss. I started the Kingkiller Chronicle with The Name of the Wind in January and I am now up to date with this fantastic series. The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a novella in the series and is totally different from the two previous books but just as atmospheric and magical.

One of the things that makes this book so different is that it's not from Kvothe's perspective, it's from Auri's. Have you ever wished that there was a book, even a novella, about your favorite secondary character in a series. Of course you have. We all have. Right? Well anyway, that's exactly what I have here. A novella about my favorite character in the Kingkiller Chronicle, Auri. And this book is a seriously fascinating look into a very mysterious character. And this peak into her head really does nothing to take away her mystery despite the fact that we learn about her past. But it's so subtle. If you aren't paying attention you won't even really pick up the hints. That's probably because these sorts of things are not what is important to Auri. This look into her mind justified what is important to her. It showcases her kindness and helpfulness but it also communicates her paranoia and anxiety. It's sweet and melancholy at the same time. It's almost heartbreaking to be inside her head. But that is offset by a sense of her power. Auri is so much more magical then originally thought and I loved being able to see that.

I also really loved the peak inside Auri's world. All of this book takes place in the Underthing, a part of the University and a setting that we get to see a little of in the main series but here we see so much more of it. We also get to see it through Auri's eyes and it's Auri's world therefore it seems bigger and more important. She's given each location it's own name that coincides with the purpose of the room. I wish there was a better way of saying it then it is its own little world but that's exactly what it is. It's a world within a world. And of course Rothfuss explains this world with his trademark atmospheric beauty. You can picture everything from the pipes along the ceiling to the pool where Auri bathes and it has a lyrical beauty and dark mystery. It's trademark Rothfuss and one of the reasons I've grown to enjoy his writing this year.

Finally, the thing that makes this book so unique is the plot. There is author's note at the end where Rothfuss mentions he was nervous about this book because really there is no plot. And maybe I was just searching for one but I think there is. Yes, most of the book is just a week in the life of Auri. She's going about her business and day to day actions. It's like Auri if she were a daily vlogger on YouTube. But those moments were okay because it's a character-driven story about someone so interesting and mysterious. I almost wanted more of her daily goings on. But there is also this underlying plot of Auri preparing her gifts for Kvothe. It's a snapshot into an off-screen event during The Kingkiller Chronicles, And because it's just a short (160 pages is super short for a Rothfuss book) it was a great diversion and added a lot of color to the overall series. It might nor be your typical high fantasy epic adventure but that doesn't make it any less interesting and just one more example of why this book is so different.

I busted my TBR when I noticed that there was a copy of this available to borrow from the library on Overdrive and honestly, I regret nothing. It was a great read and a perfect addition to a series that I absolutely love. But now I need the final book in the series. Yes? Yes.

I give The Slow Regard of Silent Things bu Patrick Rothfuss 9 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. This was definitely a good novella and a great addition to this series. If you are a fan of The Kingkiller Chronicle you should check out this diversion into the world of Auri, especially if she is your favorite secondary character. And if you aren't a fan of this series and you like fantasy, you should definitely check out this series. It's really wonderful.

Have you read The Slow Regard of Silent Things? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Book Review and Author Event: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: October 6, 2015 by St. Martins Griffin (Macmillan)
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. 

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

We don't get a lot of YA authors coming to Pittsburgh. So when I found out that Rainbow Rowell, who is someone that I adore and have missed meeting at two BEAs, was coming to town I was absolutely ecstatic. Two days after the release of Carry On she came to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for a short talk and book signing. She was unsurprisingly delightful and kind, staying for three hours to sign books. During the signing we chatted about awkward author encounters (she'll make this list now) and how I figured out she was writing this book when she tweeted about doing something new. She talked about everything from writing and reading, to fantasy, to fanfiction, and even some movie updates. I was originally going to write a whole separate thing about the event but I figured I would just pepper in some things she said throughout.

I absolutely love Rainbow Rowell and all her books. The one that introduced me to her writing was Fangirl which I will always have a special place in my heart for. I love Fangirl for multiple reasons. For one thing I always connected with Cath and her love of fantasy. So when I found out that Rainbow was writing a book about the characters that Cath loved, I was very excited to fall in love with them too. And that is exactly what I did.

One of the things that I always love about Rainbow is her characterizations. Every book has brilliant and realistic characters who you can't help but love and Carry On was no exception. In her talk Rainbow mentioned that one of the things she noticed while writing Carry On is that she had to have a lot of character perspectives because each character needed a little bit of information. I think there are seven different POV characters here. Usually that is something that annoys me but here it mostly worked. Each character had their own distinct voice and did in fact bring something that felt essential. Rainbow said one of her favorite characters to write about was Baz and he was definitely my favorite to read about. He has so much inner turmoil but so much humor and intelligence. He was fun and dark and so interesting. Simon was also really interesting. He's such a complex character and I really enjoyed his development and the way Rainbow played with the Hero's Journey through Simon. But I think my other favorite character was Penelope. She's the overly intelligent Hermione-esque character here but I love the way she flouts the rules and helps Simon. They had a great friendship.

But all the relationships here were so fantastic. For one thing they were incredibly complex, especially the romances. I often think that term "love triangle" is a misnomer. It's usually a love line with the MC in the middle and the two love interests on either side. Here it could genuinely be called a triangle. Most of the characters did in fact like the other two which made for a lot of drama. But the OTP here was the best part. We're all on the same page here, right? The ship here is Simon and Baz. And wow, I loved it so much. Baz isn't in the first part of the book and Simon's obsession with him was a little frustrating because I just wanted them to interact. I wanted the banter and the romance. And when I did get it I couldn't be happier. Because when it did finally happen it was so sudden. They went from enemies, to a begrudging teammates, to in a romantic relationship. I do kind of wish there was more romance though because the kissing scenes were pretty top notch.

But that wasn't the only thing about the book I loved. The world was also fantastic. This is Rainbow's first fantasy book and I have to admit that I was a little nervous about a favorite author who writes in a genre I don't usually love, writing in a genre I do love. I don't know why, I should have trusted Rainbow because she did an amazing job with this aspect. She said in her talk that she reads a lot of fantasy so she "had the vocabulary" and also mentioned a love of Lev Grossman and how he played with the tropes so after that I was really excited. And what is created in Carry On is a really unique fantasy world that does play with the tropes in a fun way. The magical school is quite common in YA fantasy but that was really just the backdrop here. Although Watford was a cool place. The locations within the castle felt Hogwartsian but they still felt unique.  But what I really liked about the world was the magical system. It was such a complex and interesting system. Here Mages had to be magical which is a mostly hereditary skill. And then to control their magic they also have to have some sort of magical object like a wand, a ring, or even a sword which was interesting. But even more creative was the fact that their magical words were nursery rhymes, song lyrics, and even some cliches. It was really unique and fun to see. The world and magical system of Carry On was one of my favorite parts.

But unfortunately there were some things about the book that didn't quite work for me. One of those is the plot development. There is a lot going on in this book. I usually love that, a complicated book makes for an interesting book. But the most interesting plot point was the "Chosen One" storyline and sometimes it was overshadowed or muddled by other plot points. At first it read more like a mystery and less like an epic fantasy, whic I liked. The mystery unfolded in an interesting way that made logical sense. It was solvable but not predictable which was really refreshing. However even the central mystery had a little too many facets. Rainbow mentioned in her talk that she gave different pieces of the mystery to different characters which is fine but often it felt like they weren't sharing that info. As the reader we had privileged knowledge that helped us solve things but that kind of dramatic irony is not my favorite. I think on the whole there were too many minor storylines. From Baz trying to find out who killed his mother, to the political intrigue of families arguing about who should be able to attend Watford, and even some stuff about vampires. There was a lot of different things that sometimes took away from the main story which I was enjoying. Plus when it was all said and done there were lose ends and plot points that just fizzled out. If this was a series then I could maybe see why they were included for them to become important down the line but here it kind of just made things a little muddled. But in the end I did really like the big reveals and resolutions.

And while the ending did redeem things it still made for a book that had some pacing issues. Things started out a little slow for my taste. I understand that when you are creating a new fantasy you have to set the scene and introduce the characters. A little bit of that is fine. But because there were so many different plot points there was a lot of exposition until they got to the meat of the story. Then when things did build to the thrilling conclusion it seemed like it was over a little too soon. And like I mentioned before, some plot points just fizzled out. There were no resolutions on some while others just ended without any follow up. The more complicated plot I think just resulted in a book that had a little too muddled pacing for me. A little less is more perhaps.

But on the whole Carry On was a thoroughly entertaining read. Rainbow Rowell created a world full of magic and mystery that she populated with some fantastic and complex characters. Fantasy fans will love the way she plays with the tropes and the unique magical systems and fans of her contemporary work will adore the romance and humor here.

I give Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. This was a great read that I think will appeal to a lot of different people. I may not really recommend it to fantasy fans because of my concerns with the plot development but it is worth it to see how she plays with the classic tropes. If you are a fan of Rainbow's contemporary novels you will probably also enjoy this one. It's a big change for her but I'd like to see her do more fantasy. I wouldn't mind if there was more Simon and Baz either.

Have you read Carry On? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Discussion Post: Why I Never Finish A Book Before Bed

So if you follow me on Twitter then you have probably seen me whining about how I am about to finish a book before bed and I have a rule about not doing that. I think I tweeted it three times in the past two weeks. I'm probably the only bookish person I know that won't stay up late to finish a book. Seriously, I can't remember the last time I did that. I will stay up late reading, but I never finish a book before I go to sleep.

Calling this a rule is probably a stretch but it's definitely a bookish quirk. I only realized recently that I do it however. The reason I realized I do it is because for the first time it has also been problematic. Usually I'm very happy not finishing the book before bed. But for three times in the past two weeks I have regretted this policy. But I am going to keep doing it. In general it works for me. I like it. I know what you're thinking, "but Cassi clearly it's not working anymore." No, it is working. I just like complaining about it. Complaining is one of my top five favorite hobbies. So to prove it to myself and to you I thought I would explain myself. Especially for you people who think I'm crazy for doing this. Also I'm secretly hoping that there is at least one other person who does the same thing.

What I Do:

Okay so let me set the scene for you. You're reading a great book, minding your own business, and you know the climax is coming. You look at how many pages you have left. Wow, not very many, only 50 pages. And you think about how long that will take you to read. I'm not a very fast reader so 50 pages usually takes me about two hours, sometimes more. So that's when it hits you. If you finish thins book it will be about 11pm and that's bed time. So what do you do? Well I stop reading. I put that book down and pick up something else. I'll finish it tomorrow.

So I was talking to Octavia from Read.Sleep.Repeat about this and I realized that this is a mentality that I have always had. I remember being in college and working on big projects and papers where most people would stay up late working on their and I'd write a draft and then be like "meh, imma sleep and finish it in the morning." Even my senior research thesis I didn't pull an all-nighter. In fact never in my life have I stayed up all night. The closest I came was when I worked for Americorps and we were hosting a lock-in for our students. I slept for about an hour and a half but I slept. This mentality I think has translated to my reading. I would much rather get up early and finish a book then stay up late.

Why Do I Do This:

1.) Because I Really Love Sleep

Well there could be any number of reasons. Maybe it's a little personal, like this is just how my brain works. Like I said I have done this for as long as I can remember and in other instances. I'm not a night owl (I mean I'm not even really a morning person either but that's a different story) so the idea of staying up late is not something I revel in. I really love my sleep. It's like my favorite thing ever. Not to mention the fact that I have always read for pleasure before bed. In high school, in college, when I didn't get to do a lot of reading I would treat myself by reading for a few hours before I fell asleep. So I think subconsciously my brain is trained that book means sleep. And I think even if a book is amazing and I don't want to put it down, I will reach a point where I am too tired to read (that point isn't 10:30pm but stay with me on this) so rather than hit a wall where I can't focus anymore and start missing information I decide to just call it quits for the night.

2.) I'm Always Reading Multiple Books

"Could I be reading any more books?"
One thing that I think allows me to do this is that I'm always reading multiple books. At the moment I am reading a physical book (The Rose Society by Marie Lu), an e-book (The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrcik Rothfuss) and an audiobook (Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger). So because I am reading more than one book, I can put one down if I am going to finish because it's easy to just go to another one of the books I'm reading.  It even helps me balance my reading better. There are some times where I even plan out how many pages I will read in one book to finish on schedule and then just go right to the next book. This means I almost never am placed in the situation where I do finish a book right before bed. 

3.) It's How I Avoid Book Hangovers

But I also like this because when I finish a book, I like to start reading something else immediately. I don't like there to be any more than an hour between finishing one book and starting another. If I go to bed after finishing a book then I can't do that. Now there is probably a longer explanation about why I do this but mostly it's because that's how I avoid book hangovers. For me, book hangovers are not very common. It takes the rare book to affect me in that way. I have found that the longer I linger with a book the longer it takes to forget it and reenter the real world or restart another book. So if I finish a book and then write a quick review or take a quick break, and then start something else I can avoid stewing with a book. So if I finish a book right before I go to sleep then I will be lingering with that book and the book hangover. As I fall asleep and try to shut my brain off all I will be able to think about is that book.

So there you have it. My explanation for why I never finish a book before going to bed. Does that make sense? Am I crazy? Do you do this? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!