Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ARC Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Mime Order
Series: The Bone Season #2
Author: Samantha Shannon
Published: January 27, 2015 by Bloomsbury
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided. Will Paige know who to trust? The hunt for the dreamwalker is on.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (Thank you Bloomsbury) for an honest review in return. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

*** This review is  for the second book in a series and may contain mild spoilers for The Bone Season. You should check that book out before reading this review. But it is spoiler free for The Mime Order.***

I read The Bone Season (my review) in April and really liked it. It was one of those really hyped books that if you take it on it's own merit and don't compare it to other books you will enjoy it. While I wasn't completely blown away, I did find it creative and entertaining. So going into The Mime Order, I didn't have the highest of expectations but I was still really excited. But I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how good The Mime Order was. It was a huge step up and it kept some of the things I liked about The Bone Season, like the world and plot-development, and changed some of the things I didn't like. such as the world-building.

First and foremost when it comes to this series, Samantha Shannon has created an utterly captivating world. What I loved about the first book was the combination of mythology, technology, and fantasy to create something wholly new and interesting. And like all good fantasy, it has a "magical system" that has clear rules and is rooted in logic. But not only that, but the magical system is cool (for lack of a better word). In this book we get to see so many more clairvoyant powers in action. In the first book we got to see a lot more of the lower orders like using tarot cards or objects to communicate with spirits. Here we got to see things like spirits possessing you, trapping spirits, and using spirits against others (there's a lot more with spirits). Every time a person would use the aether and/or uses their clairvoyant powers it was so fascinating to me. But in terms of the world in this book we also got to learn more about the Rephaim and their history and spend more time in Scion London.

And surprisingly, even though the world was expanded and elaborated, the world-building wasn't frustrating. I felt like in The Mime Order, you get less bogged down in the world and it doesn't feel as needlessly complicated. Unlike the last book. there wasn't a lot of info-dumping and explanation. They werethose moments, but on the whole they were banking on the fact that we understood the world. And despite the fact that I wanted a cheat sheet and reminder about a lot of things, I didn't feel overwhelmed by the world. And I actually really liked learning more about the London Syndicate. The culture of the underground clairvoyants and mobsters was so interesting to me. It definitely had much more of the dystopian feel than the previous book. There was a lot more political intrigue and it felt more like it was about the evils of society than the evils of a particular antagonist. And while the conflict that was created in the first book was still there, it was in the periphery. Things were more big picture here and it really worked.

The fact that you get less bogged down in the world of this book, also enables you able to spend more time getting to know the characters. And boy did this book have some truly amazing character development. The main character Paige is a fantastic and well-rounded character. I liked Paige in The Bone Season, I found her to be brave, selfless, and sassy. But in The Mime Order she is truly badass. Right from the beginning she shows how smart and tough she is and how much she cares about others. As you keep reading she just gets more selfless and becomes such an amazing leader. I cheered for her success and was right there for her during her failures. But even more than that, I loved to see her develop and learn more about her powers. But Paige is not the only interesting and well-rounded character. I'm a huge fan of all the Seven Seals and loved getting to learn more about the extremely odious Jaxon Hall. I also really liked learning more about Warden and the Rephaim. The development of all the characters was so fantastic in this book.

But with less emphasis on the world-building, there was also much more of an opportunity for plot-development in this book. I loved the mystery and intrigue in The Bone Season. I spent a lot of the book with "huh face" wondering what it all meant or would mean, and that did not go away in this book. From the very beginning The Mime Order took off with so much action and adventure wrapping up the last book. And then from there things slowly build to a thrilling conclusion with tons of action and mystery along the way. Again I really loved the fact that the book did a great job wrapping up the specific storyline designated for this book, and set things up for the series to continue. But oh boy that cliffhanger! I was trying to figure out the major twist and I thought I had it but boy was I wrong and shocked by that reveal! But I love being shocked. The plot of The Mime Order definitely had me on the edge of my seat anxiously awaiting what would come next.

However, despite that fabulous plot development, the pacing of The Mime Order was a bit of an issue for me. This book is not a quick read, it's an investment. And while every one of the 528 pages did feel important, it still felt long. Mostly it felt like it was a bit of a slow start. I'm not sure if it was because I was just trying to get back into the swing of things or because after a huge opening scene, things really slowed down then didn't really start to pick up until about two-thirds of the way into the book. It had some great action-packed moments but it still didn't really hook me until then. But when it did hook me, I didn't want to let it go.

I give The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon a 9 out 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. Fans of Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Dystopia should check this series out. I think it has real crossover appeal so if you are worried about this being an adult series, don't worry, check it out. If you are looking for a book with a creative and interesting world with some great character development than this series is definitely worth your time. I cannot wait to see where it will lead because this was a huge step up for me.

Have you read The Mime Order? Did you love The Bone Season and are anxiously awaiting this book? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

One more thing before you go. Thanks to Audible, I have a preview clip of the audiobook of The Mime Order. If you are a fan of audiobooks this is the perfect book for it. It has tons of action, a captivating world, and vivid world-building. The narrator does a great job of capturing all the character's unique voices. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Resolutions

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

HAPPY ALMOST NEW YEAR! I'm not big on setting resolutions but I do like setting goals for myself, especially ones I know I can accomplish. So I went back and looked at my 2014 resolutions to see how many I accomplished and I actually did a pretty good job of completing my goals. So let's set some more!

Reading Resolutions

1.) Read 100 Books
Last year I honestly had no idea how many books I was capable of reading in a year, I had never calculated it at all. So in 2014 I read 115 books. I wanted to try and beat that by reading 120 books but I'm not sure that's realistic so I'm settling for the goal of 100

2.) Read At Least 12 Debuts
I'm taking part in the Debut Author Challenge hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. There are so many amazing debuts coming out this year and I am so excited to read so many of them. (Check out the Tab up top for more info)

3.) Read 10 Classics
So part of my theme month idea was meant to also include a classic a month. I did okay with it but I sort of gave up on that as the end of the year drew near. I want to get back to reading more classics. If anyone knows of any challenges for classics let me know!

4.) Read At Least 25 Books from NetGalley and Edelweiss
My NetGalley percentage has been hovering between 50-60% for so long. I really need to get it up to 80% and tackle some of these review books. So I'm participating in this challenge hosted by Falling for YA (see tab above for more info)

4.5.) Actually Link Up With Challenges
I did such a bad job with this last year. I completed my challenges but I never spread the word about it! I'll do better next year.

5.) Read Some New Adult Books
I wanted to try some last year but I never got a chance. There were a few that I wanted to try like the Rusk University series from Cora Carmack and I've heard good things about Colleen Hoover and Jamie Maguire. Let me know of any recommendations you may have.

Other Resolutions

6.) Go to BEA and Socialize!
So I went to BEA last year and it was awesome but I was a little antisocial. This year when I go back I want to take advantage of more of the cool and fun activities happening. Things like the Blogger Picnic or Happy Hour, book talks, even just hanging out with people more at the Javits.

7.) Participate in NaNoWriMo Again
I did it in 2013, then I had lots of ideas this year but work was really busy and I didn't get the chance to do anything. But I have this one idea that has been rattling around in my head for so long that I have to get it out!

Blogging Resolution

8.) Comment More
These past few months I feel like I haven't been great at commenting. I haven't commented back. I haven't commented on posts after people comment on my posts. I haven't even been very good at commenting on reviews that I read. This year I'll strive to be better.

9.) Redesign Blog
I have wanted to do this for so long! I like the maps but I really want something that isn't just a default template. I want to make it my own. Plus I'm getting sick of the brown background with white letters. I need something lighter and less dark.

10.) Keep It Up!
This past year was my first full year of blogging. It felt great to stick with it and grow within the community. I want to do that again this year. Blog five days a week, grow my following, find new amazing blogs, interact more with people, I just want to keep it up!

What about you? What are your resolutions for 2015? What challenges are you taking part in? Will you be at BEA? Leave me a comment with your thoughts! Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Series: Firebird #1
Author: Claudia Gray
Published: November 4, 2014 by Harper Teen
(Amazon / Goodreads)

 Synopsis: Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure

A Thousand Pieces of You is one of those books that I was almost instantly attracted to. From the gorgeous cover to the intriguing synopsis, this book intrigued me so much. And while the book didn't quite hit it out of the park, it was an interesting read with a fascinating world and interesting and well-rounded characters.

One of the best parts of A Thousand Pieces of You was the complex Science Fiction world. It's not your typical story of time travel or multiverses but it takes elements of both and creates something utterly fascinating. Claudia Gray has managed to develop a world that is rooted in science, logic, and technological and feels creative and interesting. I loved her concept of dimensional travel and taking over your other self's consciousness or what I like to call "body-switching." And because it was rooted in logic it seemed entirely possible.

But what also seemed possible is the different dimensions she created. In this book we get to explore four or five different dimensions. And while most of them aren't exceptionally different from our own, they are lusciously created. You can visualized the sleek and modern London, the frivolity of Russia where the Romanovs retained power, and the underwater ocean bases where global warming raised sea level. In each world you were immersed in a place that was interesting and unique. Every time the characters got ready to jump into a new dimension I would get so excited to see where they would be heading next. These dimensional worlds, and the world of this book, was the best part of A Thousand Pieces of You.

And as good an interesting as the world was, the plot felt a little lacking for me. I'm not sure if it because the focus of the book was the world-building but when it came to the storyline of the book it felt too basic. It's not that it wasn't interesting or enjoyable, it just wasn't the focus of the book. I would have liked it to be a little more complicated and there to be a lot more mystery. There were a few plot twists that did surprise me but most of the plot felt simple and a little predictable. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. If both the world and the plot were complicated it would have been too overwhelming. It tried to strike that delicate balance. Plus the simple plot made it a quick read. And one thing I did like about the plot was that it had an actual resolution. Being the first book in a new series, you would think that there would be a cliffhanger, but there wasn't. It actually resolved things so much that it felt like a standalone and I'm not entirely sure what is going to happen in the next book, because things were wrapped up so much.

But perhaps the thing for me that made this book walk the line between good and great was the characters. They were definitely interesting and well-rounded. They were the kind of characters that had strengths and weaknesses that usually makes me like them. Marguerite in particular felt very realistic and her dedication to others before herself was admirable. And while I did want to see her succeed, I just wasn't as invested as I thought I would be. In this case of Marguerite and many of the characters in this book, while I found them likable I just didn't feel the connection to them and their struggle. What I did love about these characters however were the family relationship. You could really feel the love between Marguerite, her parents, and their assistants. They cared so much for each other and supported one another with their words and actions. But that being said I didn't really like the romance in the book. It was a very contradictory feeling because while I shipped the ship the romance felt weird and the love triangle was incredibly forced. But what was even more forced is the love triangle. To me the choice was so obvious but it wasn't for Marguerite. Her romantic indecision made her feel indecisive and frustrating. All and all this made me feel a little indifferent to the characters and that lack of connection made it harder for me to connect with the book.

A Thousand Pieces of You was a good and enjoyable book, that was a quick read. The Science Fiction world was utterly fascinating but the plot could have been more complex.

I give A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray 8 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I would probably recommend this book to fans of Science Fiction or people who are looking for a fascinating and creative world. The multiverses and "body-switching" are so brilliant and amazing so if you are looking for a unique world then check out A Thousand Pieces of You. If you are looking for something with a lot of mystery and suspense then maybe give this one a pass.

Have you read A Thousand Pieces of You? What did you think? What was your favorite universe? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday - Merry Christmas!

A weekly meme hosted by Alison Can Read & Parajunkee's View

How it Works: 

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you visit the blogs of our illustrious hosts and leave your name on the post using using the linky tools, then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What sets this Hop apart from others, is our Feature. Each week we will showcase a Featured Blogger, from all different genres and areas. Find out below. Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow our Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.

This Week's Question: 

What books did you give other people this holiday season? -Suggested by Alison Can Read 

This Week's Answer: 

I usually give books for the holidays, pretty much everyone I buy gifts for get books, but this year I didn't get as many as I usually do. For my best friend I bought The Young Elites, my brother likes non-fiction so I got him Dancing with Myself which is Billy Idol's autobiography. My mom likes mysteries so I got her The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. And for my brother-in-law I got 1776 by David McCullough and a book called The Little Book of Lettering because he is a graphic designer.

But that was all. It's usually so many more but it seemed to be a relatively book-free Christmas. I only got two books and one of them I already have. What about you? What books did you give this Christmas? Leave me a comment of your thoughts.

And remember this is a blog hop so take a look around and if you like what you see give me a follow and leave me a comment so I can follow back. I am indifferent to the manner in which you follow so pick your poison: GFC, Bloglovin, and/or Twitter.

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a Great Sparkle Season! Happy FF and HAPPY READING!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

2014 End of the Year Survey

Merry Christmas everyone! I didn't want to do a big major post today but I wanted to do something so I thought it would be the perfect time to answer the End of Year Survey from Jamie at The Perpetural Page Turner so here you go!

2014 Reading Stats

Number of Books Read in 2014?
Just finished my 112th book but I'm hoping to finish three more before the end of the year.

Best in Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2014? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
Adult - Bitter Greens by Kate Fosyth and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Young Adult - These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Adult: Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler
Young Adult: Of Monsters and Madness by Kate Verday, Hexed by Michelle Krys,

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Adult: Neverhome by Laird Hunt
Young Adult: Looking for Alaska by John Green
Middle Grade: Nest by Esther Ehrlich

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson and Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
Series Started w/ Only One Book: The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Best Sequel: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater
Best Series Ender: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo and The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Brandon Sanderson (Here's a full list)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Adult- Landline by Rainbow Rowell
(I mean Rainbow is not out of my comfort zone by Adult Contemporary/Romance are)
Young Adult- Looking for Alaska by John Green

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Adult- The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Young Adult- Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo and The Young Elites by Marie Lu

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Adult- Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth or A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Young Adult- The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steivfater

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014
Adult- A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
Young Adult- These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner and Jackably by William Ritter

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Adult Books - Vin in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Young Adult- Adelina in The Young Elites by Marie Lu and Manon Blackbeak in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maad

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Adult- Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, Rooms by Lauren Oliver and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Young Adult- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater
Middle Grade- Nest by Esther Ehrlich

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Adult- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Young Adult- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Middle Grade- Nest by Esther Ehrlich

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Adult- The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Young Adult- The Raven Boys by Maggie Steufvater and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
I usually write my favorite quotes on the post-its I use as bookmarks and then leave them in the books but I'm on vacation right now so sadly I can't look!

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013? How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this yeaer that was the shortest and longest.
Shortest- Legion by Brandon Sanderson (88 pages)
Longest- A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin (1125 pages)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Adult- Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Young Adult- These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner and Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) (OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Adult- Vin and Elend in the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
Young Adult- TOO MANY TO LIST. Two of my favorites atm are Chubs and Vida in The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken and David and Meagan in The Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Adult- Jon Snow and Sam in ASOIAF by George R.R. Martin and Jennifer and Beth in Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.
Young Adult- Maddie and Verity in Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I want to say Blue and the Raven Boys but can't for shipping reasons so...

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Adult- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
Young Adult- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Adult- Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Yound Adult- The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stefvater

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Adult- Lincoln in Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and Elend in Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Young Adult- Thorn in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
Adult- The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
Young Adult- Jackaby by William Ritter

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Adult- The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Young Adult- The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, The Young Elites by Marie Lu

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Adult- The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg and The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer
Young Adult- Jackaby by William Ritter, Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire, and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Adult- The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Young Adult- Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken, The Young Elites by Marie Lu

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Adult- Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little and The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Young Adult- Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Middle Grade- The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? (these are all in a goood way)
Adult- The Good Girl by Mary Kubica and The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson  
Young Adult- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Code Name Verity by Elizabet Wein, and The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Middle Grade: Nest by Esther Ehrlich

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Adult- Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Young Adult- The Young Elites by Marie Lu and Blackbird by Anna Carey

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Adult- A Sudden Light by Garth Nix (in a bad way) and A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin (in a good way)
Young Adult- Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday (in a bad way) and The Falconer by Elizabeth May (in a good way)

Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?
I was very new to the blogging community in 2013 so I feel like I basically discovered all the book blogs in 2014. But a recent one that I just discovered is The Starry-Eyed Review thanks to Jen being my TBTB Secret Santa.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
Probably my review of The Magician's Land because it included a video review back when I was still thinking about doing the BookTube thing. Plus I refrained on the gushing and the review was spoiler free which is hard for a third book in a series.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
By stats my top two are my Maze Runner Readalong post and my Blogoversary post.
My favorite though is my Crossing Over posts, On Unlikable Characters, and Book Polygamy

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
BEA. I always wanted to go and it was so amazing. I can't wait till next year!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
BEA was really high up there! And also getting my first e-ARC which I can't remember when it happened but I know it was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I mentioned the Easter Egg and tons of people find my review from it. I don't give away the spoiler either which is funny! My next most popular is my review of the Percy Jackson series.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I think the ones that surprised me are the reviews that don't get any comments and I thought were really popular like Gone Girl and The Raven Boys. But in general I wish reviews would get the same love as memes.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Well I discovered Book Outlet this year and it's been really dangerous for my wallet ever since.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I did the 2014 Completed Series challenge and finished 15 series this year, the Standalone Reading Challenge and read 15 standalones, and my Goodreads challenge which I set to 60 at first and then moved to 105 and still beat it.

Looking Ahead - Books of 2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
Series Ending - The final book in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater
Sequel- The Rose Society by Marie Lu, the sequel to The Young Elites

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Redesign my blog, I'm over this brown background.

 6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
I haven't read any 2015 releases yet! I'm a procrastinator. I'm halfway through The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon which is really good, so maybe that? Oh and Firefight by Brandon Sanderson which is the sequel to Steelheart!

There you go! My very rambly answers to the survey questions from Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Book Review: Catalyst by S. J. Kincaid

Title: Catslyst
Series: Insignia #3
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Published: October 28, 2014 by Katerine Tegan (Harper Collins)

Synopsis: S. J. Kincaid has created a fascinating dystopian world for Insignia, her futuristic science-fiction adventure series perfect for fans of Ender's Game. Earth is in the middle of WWIII, battling to determine which governments and corporations will control the resources of the solar system. 

Teen Tom Raines grew up with nothing, some days without even a roof over his head. Then his exceptional gaming skills earned him a spot in the Intrasolar Forces, the country's elite military training program, and his life completely changed. Now, in Catalyst, the explosive series conclusion, dangerous changes have come to the Pentagonal Spire, where Tom and his friends train. 

When a mysterious figure starts fighting against the evil corporations' horrifying plans, but with methods Tom finds shocking, he must decide which side he's on. With slim odds of success, is it even worth the fight?

This is a series that keeps getting better with each passing book. And while I really wanted to love this one because of some great parts, it still fell a little short for me. It did have great character development and an interesting Science Fiction world but some problematic plot and pacing.

My favorite thing about this series is the world that S.J. Kincaid has created. I've loved seeing her use of technology, virtual reality, and space travel as a way of fighting the next world war. In this book we get to spend more time exploring and learning about this world and it's technology. But what this book did really well is remind me about the fact that dystopia is a subgenre of Science Fiction. This book definitely had more of that political intrigue that you see in dystopia, the us vs. an oppressive government and/or business kind of theme. And what I loved about this book, and this series, is that unlike a lot of series the focus of the world has narrowed. On top of the fact that it really became about one villain, it felt very high-stakes and like a "we have to save the world" kind of story. I really enjoyed the smaller focus and single diabolical antagonist. It gave me something to root against.

But despite the fact that the focus of the world narrowed and I liked the high-stakes nature of the plot, it felt very muddled. This is the longest book in the series at 432 pages, and despite that I've breezed through 800 page books and read 1000 page books without batting an eye but these 400 pages felt like a chore at times. And maybe that was the plot and pacing was a bit of a roller coaster. Being the final book in a series there were tons of huge reveals but they were always followed by a period of slowdown. I think my major issue with the plot however, was that it felt like two or three very different major storylines shoved together. Sometimes it worked, and in the end it all did served a purpose, but while I was reading it felt a little jarring and confusing. 

My favorite part of this book may have been something that previously I did not like about this series, and that was the characters. This book had some amazing character development. I don't know how it happened but it was as if a switch was flipped and suddenly the characters were likable and I could empathize with them. The main character of Tom in particular had a great redemptive arc. He went from being a character who's choices I didn't understand to a character who made the tough decision for the right reasons. But he wasn't the only one. I found myself cheering for characters I had previously not liked and empathizing with characters that I previously found grating. S.J Kincaid did a great job of developing these characters just befor they were faced with serious adversity, further cementing my attachment to them. Maybe it was because over time they grew on me or maybe something specific changed, but in Catalyst I really loved these characters.

All in all this was a good ending to a series that I did enjoy. A lot of the things I didn't like about the series were not issues in this book and with a thrilling world, likable characters, and an action-packed plot it was a good read.

I give Catslyst by S.J Kincaid an 8 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. The Insignia is an interesting Science Fiction series and is worth a read if you a fan of the genre or want to explore the genre more after reading books like Ender's Game and Ready Player One. It feels geared more towards a male audience but that's not really a bad thing. All in all an engaging and entertaining read.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Santa (or Anyone Else) Can Slip Under My Tree

A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Books I Have Read But Don't Own
1.) Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steivfater (Amazon / Goodreads)
I read an e-ARC of this one in October and I never bought a copy despite the fact that I really loved it. My Raven Cycle collection is incomplete without this book and that makes me sad. Plus it's so pretty and amazing. Why don't I own this book?

2.) Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (Amazon / Goodreads)
This was my favorite book of the year and I really intended to buy a copy and never did. I got an ARC at BEA and then I gave it away because I wanted everyone to read it. But now I don't own a copy and really wish that I did.

3.) Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken (Amazon / Goodreads)
Again, I own all the books in this trilogy except this one. I got a copy of The Darkest Minds at BEA and then got a copy of In the Afterlight when it came out. I love this series a lot and I really need to have a complete collection!

4.) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Amazon / Goodreads)
I'm such a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell and this book is one of my favorites, it was my first Rainbow Rowell so I will always have a special place in my heart for it. But I gave my copy to my best friend so she could read it and I haven't bought myself a new copy yet.

5.) This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Amazon / Goodreads)
I just finished reading this book a few days ago and it comes out today! It's so fantastic and beautiful I really need a copy. So if there are any last minute shoppers out there, you should go buy this book for me (and everyone else)

Books I Really Want to Read
1.) Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (Amazon / Goodreads)
How much do I love Amy Poehler? So much! I've loved this woman and her humor for years. One of my favorite things ever is the audiobooks of really funny women who have written memoirs and I really would love to read Amy's.

2.) Dangerous Women by George R.R. Martin et. al. (Amazon / Goodreads)
I'm not a big fan of short stories but this compilation has so many of my favorite fantasy authors in it. It has a Song of Ice and Fire story G.R.R. Martin wrote, a story from Brandon Sanderson, and a Magicians story (about my favorite character Julia) written by Lev Grossman. I wouldn't buy this book myself but if someone buys it for me, great!

3.) Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine (Amazon / Goodreads)
I learned entirely too late about this book that is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera (one of my favorite classics). Plus I have heard good things and it sounds interesting and fantastic. The second book in this series comes out soon and I would love to read them both.

4.) Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (Amazon / Goodreads)
I'm planning to read this YA mystery in January when I do a mystery themed month. I have heard nothing but great things about this book and I'm really excited to read it. I just need to get my hands on a copy, so if someone were to buy it for me that would be great!

5.) The Diviners by Libba Bray (Amazon / Goodreads)
I'm a huge fan of Libba Bray. I read the Gemma Doyle trilogy and Beauty Queens but I seriously need to read this series. I know a lot of people really like it and it sounds amazing. The second book in this series comes out in April and I'm planning to read it then.

ARCs That Could Be Slipped Into My Mailbox
1.) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Amazon / Goodreads)
This is one of my most anticipated debuts of the year and it sounds amazing. The few people I know who have read have said that they really liked it. I mean it's YA Fantasy about "brutal Romanesque world:" I need this book in my life and would love an ARC in my mailbox.

2.) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Amazon / Goodreads)
I feel like everyone in the blogosphere is reading this book right now except me and it's making me jealous and sad. I only recently got into stories about Fae and this one is NA written by Sarah J. Maas. *dies* I requested a copy and I really hope Bloomsbury will slip it in my mailbox.

3.) A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas (Amazon / Goodreads)
I'm doing a retelling month in February and I'm so excited to get my hands on this one. I love the concept, it's like a sequel of Sleeping Beauty and I love the idea of the not-so-happily ever after. I also requested a copy of this one and have seen a few copies around but I will remain hopeful.

4.) NIL Unlocked by Lynne Matson (Amazon / Goodreads)
I loved NIL and the mysterious island was my favorite character. I'm really excited for this sequel that I didn't even know was happening because I can learn more about NIL and what's going on on this crazy and creepy island.

5.) All Fall Down by Ally Carter (Amazon / Goodreads)
I never finished the Gallagher Girls series but I really liked it and this is the kind of book I am a sucker for. A mystery that takes you halfway across the world, yup! Plus I really did like Ally Carter's writing and am so excited about this book I signed up to be an Ally Ambassador.

So there you have it, the books I would love for Santa to place under my tree or in my mailbox. I know, I cheated again but I had too! I couldn't pick just 10, I mean I want all the books! What books are you hoping to get this Christmas? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!