March Book Review

March was another month full of travel, so I got plenty of reading in; hopefully my streak won’t end now I’m back to my normal, boring life.

#1) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons – I loved the story of this book (even some of the cheesier bits!) but the almost elementary voice just kept it dragging on and on.

#2) The Star-Touched Queen by Roshki Chokrati – There were parts of this book, mostly the mythology and the poetry, that I loved and wish were better woven into the story, because the plot felt flat and confusing when combined with the more artistic elements of the book.

#3) A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – This book started out very slowly, and I was afraid that it would suffer from sophomore book syndrome, but it really picked up once the individual plot threads came together in the narrative.

#4) The Young Elites by Marie Lu – The story here was interesting, and certainly had potential, but the syntax was so repetitive and the voice didn’t seem well thought out.

#5) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – This book was pretty incredible; I could hardly believe it when I found out it was Sepetys’ debut novel. It truly speaks to the power of historical fiction.

XX. Shelby Jo

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January Book Review

January Book Review

January was wild y’all. But, I spent half the month on trains, planes, and buses, so I got a lot of reading in!

1). Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, so you can understand why I waited to read the sequel. All in all, I didn’t get the point of this book. The voice was interesting, but the plot was aimless and didn’t add anything to the first book.

2). Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris – This is the first Sedaris work I have ever read, and it was underwhelming. The connections in the essays were insightful, but the tone was not always engaging.

3). A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – Okay, I didn’t love A Darker Shade of Magic, but I loved A Gathering of Shadows. It’s one of the best “middle books” I have ever read; it was gripping and unique, but still successfully set up the final installment in the series.

4). Going Bovine by Libba Bray – I despise books about teenagers dying, but this was fantastic. Complete with less than thrilling sex and the world being saved by pop music, I could not ask for a better teenage odyssey.

5). Atlantia by Allie Condie – I honestly don’t know what this was. It was like three books combined into one, with terrible pacing and confusing characters.

XX. Shelby Jo

 

December Book Review

December Book Review

Congratulations, you survived 2016! (Unless you are an infant who learned to read and use the internet in the past 10 days, but I guess that’s an achievement, too.)

I read a total of 42 new books this year, which is close enough to my goal to satisfy me, because I re-read some and read plenty of comics, too. I’m not going to do a year in review this year, but in general, 2016 was good to me. It seems like it was rough for a lot of people, but, even though I can’t brag about a super fun year or anything, 2016 was full of massive change and achievements for me, and I will celebrate that over stagnation any day.

BUT, to put a cap on 2016, here is my December book review!

1). How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon – This book was some how interesting and boring at the same time. I understand that it’s very relevant and necessary, but at the same time the actual writing and plot felt somewhat aimless. I probably wouldn’t have finished it if I wasn’t reading an audiobook version.

2). Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Just know that the characters in this book fall right into my favorite category of character in the world, so I was bound to be picky. But, I didn’t love Six of Crows like the rest of the YA world. It was incredibly fun and a great team-up episode, but it lacked a “something more,” a consequence or meaning, that could have made it great.

3). The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh – OK. O-K-A-Y. We all know how I feel about The Wrath and the Dawn, right? WELL. I didn’t realize that The Rose and The Dagger was the final book in the series (I have a history or not doing research on things I read, see The Passenger Incident), so I was broken by the amazing and unexpected conclusion. The plot took a few detours on the way there, but it was a strong conclusion to the characters and world. ALSO: Dance party for the championship of Young People Knowing What They Want! ALSO ALSO: Title game on point, here. Seriously.

4). Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – Wowza, Crooked Kingdom completely delivered in the area – shall we call it righteous comeuppance? –  that Six of Crows lacked! I loved this book way more because the stakes were higher, but the plot was very erratic and didn’t make a lot of sense. Thankfully, that was passable because the characters remained true.

5). Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton – This was just a really fun read. Fantastic world-building, adventure, and a truly badass heroine. I hope the depth of this series continues to develop because it has a lot of potential.

XX. Shelby Jo

November Book Review

November Book Review

November is over! The world officially has my sanction to begin listening to Christmas carols, congrats.

This past month turned out to be a fairly productive reading month, despite the crushing weight of finals and wintertime despair. Yay!

1). Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – I snagged a used copy of this book and, though I’ve heard of it, had very few expectations; all I knew was DRAGONS and that was plenty. In the end, I really enjoyed it, even thought the voice wasn’t my typical fare. The characters were well developed and the mythos – especially the political elements – was engaging.

2). Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith – I’m at such a loss with this book, because the voice and the narrative were literally spellbinding. The way motifs wove in and out, through the main character’s very intentional narration, was fascinating. But everything in between was so sexualized that I couldn’t enjoy it.

3). A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Look at me, finally getting caught up on popular books! The world building here was so well developed and interesting that it completely out weighed the cliche characters. The pacing was slow for most of the book, but seemed deliberately so. The book’s ending is so conclusive, that I’m somewhat hesitant to read the sequel, but I don’t know if it’s enough to stop me.

4). Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland – I assumed this book would be ridden with cliches and – though it was, somewhat – it grew on me quickly. It was a lovely expression of the power of language.

5). Uprooted by Naomi Novik – This was possibly my favorite book I’ve read this year! The magic was interesting, the plot was well paced, the characters were engaging and surprisingly sexy, and just – ugh. I loved it. Obviously.

XX. Shelby Jo

October Book Review

Alright, I’m all caught up! …Now I have to come up with new content, yikes…

#1). Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – I don’t know if I can deal with this series anymore. I can’t deal with another love story, or love triangle. Damn the interesting world-building that keeps bringing me back! *shakes fist*

#2). The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima – This was a solid ending to the series. The characters finally clarified their motives, but the book was way too long.

#3). Wink Poppy Midnight by April Geneviere Tucholke – I really wanted to like this book, because it was so close to brilliant, but it was still slightly lacking. I’m not sure what it needed, but I think the lack of punctuation made the voices too similar and “surface level,” and really distanced me from the story.

#4). The Wrath and the Dawn  by Renée Ahdieh – I read this so. fast. omg. It was incredibly engaging; finally a book that lives up to the hype! The writing was a little too wordy for me; I think Ahdieh failed somewhat with the “show-don’t-tell” rule, but amazing all in all. (ALSO: A feasible love triangle! Finally! If Shazi messes this up, I’m going to be very upset.)

November is also shaping up to be a great reading month, hence me feeling good enough about my life to return to blogging. Stay tuned, plenty of things coming your way!

XX. Shelby Jo

Summer Book Review

Happens at la-ast!

Surprise, surprise, I’m back. Here are some catch-up, mini reviews of all of the books I read over the summer.

#1). Pardon Me by James Roberts – This was a self-published book I read in exchange for an honest review. You can find the book on Amazon, and check out my review here.

#2). The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – Finally, a Riordan book with a new plot arc; I thought this book was delightfully entertaining and showed far more potential than any of Riordan’s other recent work.

#3). An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – This book was engaging and fast-paced, and the world-building was so, so interesting, but I low-key hate both of the main characters. *Sorry*

#4). The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury – I was so confused by this book. I don’t even know what it was about. Love triangles and unloving parents and undeserved fate – what else is new?

#5). The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer – Laxmi Hariharan – This was a self-published book I read in exchange for an honest review. You can find the book on Amazon, and check out my review here.

#6). Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy – Reedy is such a good writer. This book flowed gorgeously, and wove in multiple themes, but ended with the plot feeling somewhat incomplete.

#7). Sketches of the Wigwam by Mack Moyer – This was a self-published book I read in exchange for an honest review. You can find the book on Amazon, and check out my review here.

#8). The Young World by Chris Weitz – I found this book funny more than anything else; it tried so hard to be aware and progressive that it became practically ridiculous.

I’m glad to get that all off my chest! Of course, I am behind on my goal, but I will make up as much as I can over the next two months and be happy with whatever I manage to accomplish.

XX. Shelby Jo

April Book Review

Hey, hey, hey, I’m back! Life has been insane lately, as it tends to be, so I’m doing my best to keep up my schedule, but I’m also not stressing when I can’t.

#1). Riders by Veronica Rossi – I really enjoyed this book, in the category of somewhat mindless YA. I think I may have burnt myself out on the genre, because none of it has been entertaining me, recently. BUT you can read my full review of the book here!

#2). Dracula by Bram Stoker – People have been recommending Dracula to me for a very long time, and I can’t believe I didn’t read it sooner. It’s so, so good. I also found that it was so interesting to read all these years later, now that the story is popularized and widely known. It was cool to think about the what the book may have been when the story was revolutionary, because the development was fascinating and the conclusion (though somewhat abrupt) was intense.

#3). The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane – Though in general, I thought it was boring, The Red Badge of Courage had beautiful prose, and the characterization and psychology were really interesting.

I also reread The Raven Cycle in April, and i finalllyyyy got my hands on a copy of The Raven King yesterday, and it has already broken my heart like eight times. Stay tunes for a review of that this Friday!

XX. Shelby Jo