July Book Review

Things were pretty uneventful this month, but I’ve put a lot of effort into revving things up for the fall, so stay tuned for some pretty spicy reviews and campaigns (giveaways !!) coming up!

#1). The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Being a creative writing student feels pretty impossible sometimes, because I have hundreds of years of the literary tradition to catch up on, as well as staying up to date on new releases. I picked this book up on a recommendation from a professor, to start filling in the gaps of more recent fiction history that I’ve been missing out on. I really enjoyed McCarthy’s prose, but overall felt that the plot of The Road was lackluster, especially thanks to the weak ending.

#2). The Tower by Nicole Campbell – This was a self-published YA book that I received in exchange for an honest review. Check out my thoughts here!

#3). The Last Gambit by Om Swami – Another self-published YA, a coming of age story about an Indian boy determined to become a chess master, that I received in exchange for on honest review. You can find the full review at this link.

XX. Shelby Jo

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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

February Book Review

#1). Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Outlander turned out to be unexpectedly well-plotted and thoughtful; I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Though I won’t continue with the saga (there’s just so much to read!), it’s definitely a notch in my belt.

#2). The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein – I picked this book up because I love Elizabeth Wein’s historical fiction, and I was intrigued by the idea of a retelling of the Mordred myth – one of my favorite elements of the Camelot legend. However, the detached, lyrical voice detracted from the story, in my opinion, and is my main reason for deciding not to continue with the series.

#3). All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – This was a beautifully told story, with rich and full characters. In some ways it felt inconclusive, but perhaps that’s the best solution, given the subject matter.

#4) The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – This book was a lot. I was definitely impressed with the sheer amount of lore and world building, but it seemed to impede the plot in a lot of respects. Also, the blend of sci-fi and fantasy didn’t particularly appeal to me.

XX. Shelby Jo

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

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