May Wrap-Up

So I thought I would ease back into reviewing with a quick wrap-up of what I read in May, as the glorious summer months kick off. May was a really fabulous reading month, with lots of kick-ass heroines, high fantasy, and wonderful new worlds to explore.

Books Read:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: This book was SO freaking good. The world reminded me a bit of The Winner’s Curse, probably because it is based on Roman culture and one of the protagonists is a slave, but the rest of it was wholly original. I read it in a single day – which is thoroughly impressive for a book of this length – and just couldn’t be bothered to get up and do things that I probably should have been doing. Highly recommended. 5/5 stars.

The Heir by Keira Cass: Despite myself, I keep finding myself reading The Selection books (maybe it’s my soft spot for The Bachelor). The heroine of The Heir, America and Maxon’s daughter, is such a pill and I had a hard time rooting for her. However, like its predecessors this book is compulsively readable; hopefully its protagonist will go through a little character development in books to come. 3.5/5 stars

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: Another absolutely amazing book that I couldn’t put down. The magic! The romance! The world-building! I love both the Beauty and the Beat fairy tale and the Tam Lin legend, and Maas weaves these two legends together so perfectly. Really, really well done. 5/5 stars

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brackenbrough: This book was really lovely and poetic, though I found myself losing interest at the end. It’s also really nice to read a love story set in my hometown of Seattle that isn’t Twilight or 50 Shades. 3/5 stars.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas: A super solid sequel to Throne of Glass, there are so many wonderful twists and turns in this story. I found myself saying out loud, “NO WAY! NO WAY!” at the end. Sarah J. Maas is quickly rising to the top of my favorite authors list – time to go and check out Heir of Fire! 5/5 stars.

Challenge Updates:

As of the end of May, I’m 40% done with my Goodreads challenge (having read 24/60 books); 18 of those count towards the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge.

Coming Up in June:

I’m currently reading The Courtiers by Lucy Worsley, which is a really interesting look at the life of the Georgian court in England, and Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy so I can go and see the movie. In June, I’m planning on reading a lot of fairy-tale retellings – A Court of Thorns and Roses has really given me a taste for them!

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Summer TBR

So remember when I started a book blog? AHAHAHAHAHA. That was before this insane semester happened and I was so, so busy. I still managed to read 20 books for fun over the course of the term (and plan on posting a few reviews of the recent releases I’ve read, like A Court of Thorns and Roses, which if you have not yet read YOU MUST), and I’ve got a busy summer ahead of me! I typically read about 20 books per summer break, and so here are some titles that I’m looking forward to reading:

  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
    I started reading this one a couple days ago because I want to read the book before I see the movie. So far, it’s a lovely book with a heck of a lot of sheep.
  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
    A thriller set in Dickensian London with a lesbian love affair thrown in for good measure? I’m all about that.
  • 1599 by James Shapiro
    In case you don’t know, I study Shakespeare. This book focuses on a year in the life of Shakespeare and is by one of my favorite Elizabethan scholars.
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    I saw a marvelous stage adaptation of this where Long John Silver was played by Arthur Freaking Darvill and Jim was played by a girl (the wonderful Patsy Ferran), and now I feel the need to read the book!
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
    I’m really, really obsessed with fairytale retellings and I’m so glad that’s what is on trend right now in YA. So pumped to read this one.
  • When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke
    I’ve started watching the adorable TV series based on this book, and even though I tend to stay far away from Christian fiction (despite being a Christian, I can’t stand how preachy it can get), the reviews I’ve read lead me to believe that the book is just as good as the TV show.
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
    Summertime is the best time for a good contemporary romance, and this sounds like a fun read.
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Review: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Publisher: Ecco, 2014

Format: Hardback, 433 pages

From The Bookworm’s Corner:
This book has gotten an incredible amount of hype, and I was excited to see this under the Christmas tree. I’m a never-fully-recovered dollhouse enthusiast (The Doll People by Anne M. Martin & Laura Godwin was my jam growing up), so the idea of a mysterious miniature house intrigued me. I read most of this on an eleven-hour plane ride, and reading it took me into a different world and made me forget that I was in a metal tube in the sky.

The book has a slow start, but if you keep powering through it is more than worth it. The writing is just drop-dead gorgeous, and I loved envisioning the world of 1600s Amsterdam, the “Golden Age” of that country. The characters were intriguing and the plot well-paced.

I did see the first major plot twist coming from a mile away, but the second plot twist I didn’t see coming at all. I love when authors catch me by surprise and I end up putting the book down for a moment and saying, “NO!” There is one central mystery that never fully gets resolved, which is a little disappointing, but I got so wrapped up in the story that I didn’t mind all that much.

In short, I found this book exciting and fun to read. If you’re a historical fiction nut, then get on this one right away.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Review: Yes Please

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Genres: Humor, Memoir

Publisher: Dey Street Books, 2014

Format: Audiobook

From the Bookworm’s Corner:

Like most people, I fell in love with Amy Poehler’s work on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation (still one of the best shows on TV, in my humble opinion) and so I was very excited to read her book. I was even more excited to listen to it as an audiobook; I love listening to comedians reading in their own voice. Actually, for Yes Please more so than most, I would really recommend listening to it over reading it. You get to hear the voices of the guest authors too, as well as some clips from Parks and Rec. 

There are some genuinely good pieces of advice in here about confidence, about being true to yourself, and being a woman in the entertainment industry. Those were the parts of the book that I loved. The one thing was, though, I didn’t find the book particularly funny. That may not have been Poehler’s intent in writing this memoir, but I guess I was expecting more humor and less talking about how difficult it is to write a book. Perhaps this is nobody’s fault but my own – I’ve read other books by comedians, both male and female, and even when they are more memoir-ish in nature there are still plenty of jokes, so maybe I was just expecting something different. I also wasn’t sure how to feel about the guest writers; I really wanted to hear Amy’s voice, not Seth Meyers’ (though I love him as well) or her parents’.

So all in all, I liked it but didn’t love it. Fans of Amy will certainly enjoy it, and her wisdom that she shares is wonderful. I just wish that it had been shared with a little more humor.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Re-Read Challenge!

I love to re-read books – there’s nothing like jumping back into a world that you love. It’s like being wrapped burrito-style in a fuzzy warm blanket! So I’m very excited to attempt the re-read challenge.

The plan is to re-read 12 books in 2015 – one a month!

I haven’t nailed down all the books I plan to read yet, but here are a few I know for sure:

  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. This book is one of my all-time favorites, but I haven’t re-read it in nearly 2.5 years! I need to stay gold, Ponyboy.
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. OK, so I re-read this book every year. 2015 will be no exception.
  • First Test by Tamora Pierce. Pierce’s Tortall books were a highlight of my childhood reading, and I would love to revisit at least one!
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Happy New Year!

It’s almost time to begin another wonderful year of reading. I read 63 books in 2014 (my goal was 52), so I’m aiming to read 60 in 2015. The lovely Booktuber padfootandprongs07 recommended this reading challenge, which I think I may take a stab at as well.

As far as reading “resolutions,” I’m hoping to read more classics (planning on starting with Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson) and more fantasy – when I was in my early teens, I almost exclusively read fantasy and I’d love to go back to some of those worlds and explore a few new ones as well.

On to the fireworks! Wishing a happy and healthy 2015 to all of you.

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Review: My True Love Gave to Me

My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins 

Genre: YA, Romance, Anthology

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 355 pages

From The Bookworm’s Corner:

‘Tis the season for snuggling up with a good book by the fire, and My True Love Gave To Me is perfect for that. It’s also perfect for reading a short story in between all the racing around, shopping, and cooking that you end up doing at this time of the year. 12 authors (including some of my favorites, like Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins) contributed to this lovely collection. There were some stories that I felt more strongly about than others, so I thought I’d do mini-reviews of each one, then finish up with an overall star rating. Onward!

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell
Adorable, made me very happy as all Rainbow Rowell stories do. Lovely to see a relationship develop so well, even over the course of a short story. 4.5 stars.

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link
Very unusual story, but cool. I think Link may have been playing with the Tam Lin legend? I didn’t care for the main character, though. In any case, it was weird but in a good way. 3 stars.

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña
I really loved our hero in this story, and enjoyed watching the main relationship develop. Lots of very genuine emotions and reasonably realistic situations. 4 stars.

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
Probably my least favorite in the collection – I don’t really remember all that much about it, but I did think that the ending was great. 2 stars.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins
This short story was probably the highlight of the collection for me. Wonderful characters, cute setup, great setting – Perkins at her best. 5 stars.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
A sweet story, but just not my favorite. I didn’t find it particularly memorable, but did enjoy parts of it. 2.5 stars.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black
This was another very quirky and odd take on a Christmas romance. I loved the idea of Santa having an “evil twin,” so to speak. It was definitely a fun take on the idea of being naughty or nice! 3 stars.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman
Loved, loved, loved this one. All the awkwardness of starting a relationship, trying to fit in, and the ending was my favorite out of all the stories. 5 stars.

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire
I greatly enjoyed this one. The best part was wondering what else was going to go wrong next, and I particularly loved the pastor’s daughter. This one focused on relationships of a community as well as romantic relationships. 4 stars.

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White
Another very cute story. I personally found the ending to be a little cheesy, but I can deal with that because the journey to get to that ending was well-written and engaging. More than anything, though, I wish I had cooking superpowers. 3.5 stars.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
A kind of far-fetched scenario, but the relationship between our heroine and the aunt was very sweet and I always like stories about the love of family – while I think that the romance was cute, it was the family that really mattered. 3.5 stars.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I’m not entirely sure what this had to do with the holidays, except that it took place in the winter, but it was lyrically and beautifully written. The plot was fine, and I did think the characters were well-drawn. 4 stars.

All in all, I found this story collection to be wonderfully diverse and had a blast reading – I highly recommend it. Merry Christmas!!

Overall Rating (out of 5): Four stars!

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