Book Talk, Books

2017 Reading Recap

It’s finally New Years Eve and I was reflecting on all of the books that I read this year. Despite being in school and now having a part-time job I still managed to successfully meet my reading goals for the year. Overall, it’s been a pretty good reading year as almost all of the books that I read this year, I ended up really enjoying. I wanted to reflect on my top 10 novels that I read this year (not all of these were published in 2017).

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Favourite Books/Series (not in any particular order): 

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J Maas – I started off the new year last year with this series, and it was the first series that I had read by Sarah J. Maas and I’m so glad that the book store employee told me to pick them up because they were so so good, and now Sarah J Maas has become one my all time favourite authors.
  2. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover – I got this on my kindle the day it came out and I wasn’t disappointed. Colleen Hoover never fails to bring a heart-wrenching story to her readers full of emotion and beautiful prose. I read this book so quickly (I believe in one day) because it had me hooked from the start.
  3. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood – Margaret Atwood has such a talent for creating intricate and complex stories and after reading some of her other work I decided I should also read this! This is a story that will probably stay with me for awhile.
  4. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne – I read this in the early months of summer and I really loved it. It’s such a cute contemporary read that you can get through really quickly, and I think that those are always good to read once in awhile especially in the summer. I really loved the plot in this one and the whole political scene that was set up in this book really interested me.
  5. The Dazzling Heights by Katherine McGee – I was lucky enough to get this as an ARC and read it before it was published and it was amazing! I really love the whole premise of both The Thousandth Floor and the sequel and following the drama filled lives of all the characters!
  6. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – Another really interesting book that I read in the summer. I never read a book that took place in multiple dimensions before, it was like a time-travel book but better! I loved this book for its originality!
  7. Ruined by Amy Tintera – A fantasy novel that kept me on edge the entire time as the plot unfolded! Very action packed!
  8. Before Now by Norah Olsen – I was also really lucky to get this as an ARC! I loved this book so much as it was told in a reverse timeline that was brilliantly done! Definitely one of my favourites of the year.
  9. Frostblood by Elly Blake – I liked how this book built up the world and the contrast between frost bloods and fire bloods and illustrated how Ruby the main character learned to use her abilities.
  10. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas – Though I’m not technically finished this series, it has already made it to my absolute favourite series/books of the entire year. I love Sarah J Maas’ ability to create such elaborate worlds and magic systems while maintaining such lovable characters!

Least Favourite Books I Read this Year: 

Though most of the books I picked up this year I really loved, some of them just weren’t personally for me. Some of these include:

  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (audiobook)

 


In sum, I found myself this year straying away mostly from the romance and contemporaries which in previous years I would cling to (I own every single Nicholas Sparks book), and gravitating more towards fantasy novels and books that take place in another world. A lot of this year I was also in a reading slump for some reason which probably contributed to the reason why I didn’t love some of the ones I mentioned as being my least favourite, because I’ve come to have an expectation for novels to move fast plot-wise and to have a lot of action. If I get bored in the middle of a book, I lose interest right away.

In 2018, I hope to continue my fantasy/sci-fi trend, and I really hope to start reading more from Brandon Sanderson. Currently I am listening to Elantris and I absolutely adore it, the Mistborn Trilogy is the next series I want to pick up once I am finished with Throne of Glass!


 

I hope everyone had an amazing reading year in 2017! Happy New Year!

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Book Reviews

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas – Book Review & Discussion

Warning: Possible Spoilers for Throne of Glass, and Crown of Midnight ahead. If you haven’t read the first books in the series, this review may contain spoilers. 

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I just spent five consecutive hours reading and finishing Heir of Fire. This plot totally enveloped me from the beginning. Just when I thought that this series really couldn’t get any better because it was already pretty close to perfection, I was proven wrong. Sarah J Maas introduces new characters in this novel that are really interesting and integral to the ongoing plot. I also really liked how the readers got a better sense of the past of Aelin and her history and what really made her, her through a look into her past memories. I also really enjoyed learning more about Aelin’s family history and even meeting some of her family members. I thought that was a positive addition to the plot line and also to building her character further.

I found myself extra excited in the scenes where Celaena (AKA Aelin) was refining her magical abilities as a Fae and learning more about how to control her Fae abilities. I was rooting for her the entire time, and it was interesting to see how those refined abilities came in handy later on in the book.

This book so far has also been the best for world-building. I like how Sarah J Maas throughout her novels heads towards a natural progression of understanding for the readers, of the magic system and the world through her unique writing techniques. I feel like I know and understand so much more about the magic and the world now in comparison to Crown of Midnight.

The only aspect of this novel that I would say wasn’t my favourite part, was the storyline of Manon. Manon’s chapters I kind of felt myself reading more quickly to get to the chapters that were focused on Aelin or Dorian, basically anyone else. It’s not that I hated Manon’s part in the story because I know, as a reader of Sarah J Maas and fantasy, Manon’s story will make sense and will be crucial to the plot later on, but I didn’t find it be as action-packed or really that interesting in comparison to all that was going on in the rest of the book. It was rather slow for me.

Overall, I give this book 5.5 stars for delivering action, amazing characters, a unique magic system and an incredible world. If you haven’t this book yet, I would highly recommend it even if you read the other books and decided this series isn’t for you, Heir of Fire is even better than the other two novels in the series!!


SPOILER/DISCUSSION SECTION – If you haven’t read Heir of Fire and you do not want to be spoiled do not read ahead.

While reading this book I had so many feelings and thoughts! First of all, I knew that Sorscha was going to die in one way or another. I just knew that that heartbreak was coming, but even when it happened, I was still devastated. Poor Dorian. 😦

The new character Rowan I also loved. I think he is one of my favourite characters so far. In the beginning of the series I was shipping Celeana with Chaol but now….. things have changed. I feel that she should be with Rowan because I find them to be really similar and relatable to each other, also because he can shape shift into a hawk that’s pretty cool too. But in some ways it kind of bothers me that Celeana so far has had a romantic interest in Dorian, and Chaol and now I can see where it’s going with Rowan. But with Dorian and Chaol the only reason why she really didn’t stay with them was circumstantial not anything to do with their character – especially in the case of Dorian. And if all of this happens and eventually the King of Adarlan is killed and Dorian becomes the King, why shouldn’t they be together? As of right now it seems that there is no real reason why Dorian and Celaena can’t work out and also Chaol and Celaena.

Rowan and Aelin’s blood oath scene was probably my favourite scene so far in the entire series. I hate Maeve so much and I thought that that scene was just done so well!

I’m still wondering how Manon and her storyline will fit into the overall storyline with the King of Adarlan. My theory is that the king is making an army against Aelin and he will enlist Manon and her coven to help him do his dirty work.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – Book Review

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is essentially about a complex class dynamic between the “colds” and the old vampires, as well as the main character, Tana’s acceptance of herself. The world-building in this book was done phenomenally, I liked the whole idea of segregation of the “colds” in the coldtowns.

I thought the writing itself was done really well. Though, I did listen to it as an audiobook, I found that the writing was really descriptive and planted a very vivid image of the scenery of what was going on. I also liked how Holly Black would include relevant deep quotes, usually about death, in the beginning of her chapters. I found this really supported the plot and added another unique layer to her story.

However, I found for some reason that I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters. Tana to me didn’t really seem that relatable, and I just didn’t really feel any real connection to any of them. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but at some points I found Tana’s character to seem a little bit flat and lacking in real complexity. I could kind of predict what she would do or how she would react to certain circumstances before they happened.

Though the characters weren’t my favourite aspect of this book, I did overall really like the premise and the idea of the coldtowns, the way that the vampires were portrayed in this book I found was really well done. Most vampire books either really show them in a good light like Twilight for example, and others really portray them to be evil. However, I  think that this book found a safe middle between the two sides.

Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 stars!

Book Reviews, Book Talk

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas – Book Review

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas was so good! However, I found the beginning and the middle of the novel to be a bit slow, it really picked up in the last quarter. Many elements of the first book I felt were improved upon in Crown of Midnight including to some degree, the romance and the action. The reader gets a way better sense of the world that these characters live in, and a lot of questions are answered in this novel that were not expanded upon in Throne of Glass.

I loved the magic in this book, it was such an in-depth and unique magic system using wyrdmarks and wyrdkeys in conjunction with portals. I feel that in this book we get to see a lot more of that than in Throne of Glass.

The plot itself started to pick up near the end especially, I felt that the beginning of the book and even towards the middle was more character development and world building, but towards the end is when most of the action takes place, and it was well worth it to wait. Characters die, battles happen, and it’s just drama! I found that the plot twists that occur throughout the book weren’t really predictable, at least not for me, which always adds another element of intrigue.

Overall, I give this book 4/5 stars for being so well written and for the characters being really well developed in comparison to Throne of Glass. As a beginner writer, I can testify to the fact that it is sometimes really difficult to perfect world-building, character development, dialogue and description, but Sarah J Maas seems to be good at it all, creating an epic story. I cannot wait to start Heir of Fire tonight, and hopefully finish the rest of the series by the New Year!! 😀


WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD: Book Discussion

I always find it difficult to review books that are part of a series, without giving away any spoilers to the book that came before it. But for those of you have read Crown of Midnight or are finished the series completely, I wanted to share some of my favourite parts/some of the parts that really surprised me.

  • This far in the series, I was a little bit disappointed that Celaena pursued more of romantic relationship with Chaol as opposed to Dorian. I get her reasonings, being that Dorian is the Prince and as the King’s Assassin, their relationship would be forbidden. But at the same time, we can see that Celaena is a warrior usually willing to fight for what she wants regardless, so it seemed a little bit disappointing when she started going for Dorian’s best friend Chaol. It’s not that I don’t like Chaol, but I do ship Dorian and Celaena more at this point in the series.
  • Dorian has magic! This came as such a surprise to me, the son of a King who banned magic has magical capabilities, makes Dorian even more cool, and just another reason why Celaena should be with him.
  • Celaena is fae. This I kind of guessed from the beginning. But the interesting part about this is the fact that she has the ability to shift between human and fae. If she masters this and magic is restored, that will be a really interesting element to her already amazing character.
  • Nehemia’s death was literally so sad. I swear I was in a bad mood the whole day after I read that part. I really liked Nehemia, and I went through a period of time that I really really hated Chaol, until of course things became more clear of the person who was actually responsible (I sincerely hate Archer now).
  • Celaena is Aelin?! I know some people said that there clues were there, that they could see this one coming from miles away, so I really don’t understand how I missed this, but it literally came as such a shock for a good few seconds, until I really thought about it and it all seemed to make so much sense!

This book had so many emotions attached to it for me! I’m so excited to be continuing on the series!

 

 

Tags

Ruler of Books Tag

 What book would you make everyone read?

I feel like this would change all the time, because naturally I want everyone to read my favourite books, but my favourite books change monthly! So for right now I would answer this question by saying Without Merit by Colleen Hoover.

What would you abolish in book construction?

The type of paperbacks that crease or break the spine when you open them to read them.   The only paperbacks that should be constructed are the ones that open without having to break the spine. The spine is what faces out on your bookshelf, it can’t be broken!

What author would you commission to write you any book?

Sarah J Maas. She is one of my all time favourite authors, and I love how creative and imaginative she is. I would love if she would write me a book!!

What book would you demote to the library basement to make room for new books?

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I had to read this in Grade 11 English, and my English teacher at the time was abnormally obsessed with this novel and made the entire semester relate back to Brave New World and from that point on, I developed a strong dislike for this book. I get negative feelings every time I happen to walk by it in the book store now.  I think I had to write a minimum of 20 essays on this one book.

What cover artist would you commission to make a mural?

I’m not sure who the book artist is for the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, but whoever designed those covers I would want to make me a mural.

What characters face would you put on a coin?

Rhysand’s 😉

What book would you award the “Ruler of Books” 2017 Prize to?

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover.

Tags

The Fall Time Cozy Book Tag

It’s finally Fall! It’s not my favourite season, but it is my favourite reading season because the weather is starting to get cooler which means I can put on my reading socks and comfy sweater with a cup of tea and binge read! I haven’t done a book tag in a long time, and I want to start doing more so I saw this one and decided to do it! 🙂

Crunching Leaves: The world is full of color – Choose a book that has reds/oranges/yellows on the cover

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

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Cozy Sweater: It’s finally cold enough to wear warm cozy clothing – What book gives you the warm fuzzies?

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover.

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Fall Storm: The wind is howling and the rain is pounding – Choose your favorite book or genre that you like to read on a stormy day.

My favourite genre to read when it’s raining, or it’s storming outside is probably fantasy. I feel like the storm adds another layer to the reading experience.

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Cool Crisp Air: What’s the coolest character you’d want to trade places with?

I think for this one, I would have to go with Feyre from Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series. She’s a pretty strong female character throughout the series that demonstrates her independence and wit, and as a side note, she’s Rhysand’s mate which is also pretty cool.

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Hot Apple Cider: What under hyped book do you want to see become the next biggest, hottest thing?

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit.

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Coat, Scarves, and Mittens: The weather has turned cold and it’s time to cover up – What’s the most embarrassing book cover you own that you like to keep hidden in public?

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with the cover design, but my copy is really beat up and the cover is bent in many places.

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Pumpkin Spice: What’s your favorite fall time comforts food/foods?

Tea lattes and McDonald’s Salted Caramel Apple Oat Muffin <3.

 

Book Reviews

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover – Book Review

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    Without Merit by Colleen Hoover was published only a few days ago, but my anticipation for this book, given the fact that I’ve loved every other book by Colleen Hoover, made this one go straight to the top of my TBR pile. I basically read this book in one day, it was just that good. That being said, this is different from Colleen Hoover’s other books, in the way that it deals with a different age group (the main character being only 17).

The description of the novel in my opinion doesn’t really tell the reader the extent of what this book is really about – but to me, that’s a good thing. I went into this novel with only the foreknowledge that it dealt with family secrets, a troubled teenager who collects trophies she never won, and a little bit of romance. But the book was so much more than that description.

Colleen Hoover has done it again. I felt myself so immersed in this book, in this chaotic and dysfunctional family. Each character felt unique in a real way, each one of them flawed with their own quirks. It was interesting seeing such a vastly different perspective on identical twins portrayed in this book. Usually, twins are always portrayed as having a strong bond that no one else can understand, but in Without Merit, we see that even twins have their differences. Many people think about how cool it would be to have a twin, myself included, but this book illustrates that maybe having a twin isn’t all positive. Twin relationships can be strained, and flawed too, just like any other.

I also just have to mention Sagan in this review. Sagan was such a well developed character in this novel. I loved every single thing about him, including his epic name. He seemed so mysterious but really he wasn’t, he turned out to be someone with fears, desires, and family issues just like everyone else in the book. And can we just take a moment to appreciate that he’s also a Political Science major (just like me!). I feel like Political Science majors are so rarely mentioned in literature, so I got really excited when I learned he was studying Political Science, and he even brought in a bit of politics into the book.

On a more serious note, I think Colleen Hoover dealt with important themes throughout this book related to mental health really well. I feel like she has not only brought awareness to the fact that individuals may be suffering from mental illnesses without their own self-acknowledgement, but that mental health should be talked about within families openly.

Overall, I am really impressed with this book. I feel like I’m going to be thinking about this book and these characters for a long time even though I’m done reading it. Colleen Hoover books always leave a lasting impression on me, and that’s why I love them so much. She really captured some very real issues that many people face within their own families, and I felt like she talked about mental health in a really real way in this novel. I give it 5/5 stars!

Some of my Favourite Quotes from the novel: 

“There’s something freeing about refusing to stress over stressful situations.”

“Everyone sometimes wishes they were someone else. Someone better, With a better family.”

“If silence were a river, your tongue would be the boat.”

“I think we all just got to a point where we were waiting for someone else to initiate it, but no one ever did. Maybe that’s the root of a lot of family issues. It isn’t actually the issues people are hung up about for so long. It’s that no one has the courage to take the first step in talking about the issues.”

“So many people dream of living in a house with a white picket fence. Little do they know, there’s no such thing as a perfect family, no matter how white the picket fence is.”