June Book Review

In the past, I have proven that I am very bad at reading over the summer (because I have less responsibilities to shirk? Who knows.), but things went surprisingly well in June. Well, surprisingly average, I guess.

#1). Black Blade by Alexander Charalambides – This is a self-published book that I read in exchange for an honest review. You can read the full review here and find the book on Amazon.

#2). This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab – It goes without saying that Victoria Schwab is a fantastic world builder. Like sickeningly fantastic. The dystopia that she created in this book was incredible, and kept me turning the pages above any other element of the story.

#3). Ahe’ey by Jamie Le Fay – I received a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. It’s one of the best self-published books I’ve read so far! Check out all of my thoughts here, and find the book on Amazon.

**I love reading manuscripts, ARCs, and self-published books! If you’re interested in feedback or a published review of your book, contact me for more information.**

#4) Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – I’m so torn over this book. I adored the prose, but the characters were so frustrating and one-dimensional, that I can’t really say I liked it.


February Book Review

February Book Review

I read five books this February, which is pretty exciting, considering it is the shortest month of the year. That means I am well on my way to my goal, and so far is hasn’t even cost me too much in time, sleep, or overdue fees!

  1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I honestly thought this book was somewhat underwhelming. For starters, I am not a fan of spontaneous romances so it had that going against it from the beginning. But all in all, the plot was surprisingly straight forward and predictable considering the creative premise. It had interesting characters but I thought, overall, it lacked depth and an engaging voice.

The Night Circus 62. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin – I adored this book. (You can read my full review here) It’s been ages since I read a book cover to cover, and there was no way I could put this one down. It pulled at my heart strings from the very beginning. It was definitely cliche, but it was the good, homey cliche that I love. I highly recommend it to book lovers everywhere.

3. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens – This was actually a re read for me, but I am counting towards my goal because it took a significant investment. I used to hate this book. I didn’t understand how Dickens (one of my favorite authors) could have written something so…disconnected. This time, I was completely drawn in for the majority of the story and couldn’t figure out why I used to hate it. But, towards the end it came back to me. The conclusion is incredibly strung out (unusual for Dickens) and just really bad. Events happen for no reason, and everything works out in this weird, convenient, random way.

4. The Gray Wolf Throne – Cinda Williams Chima – The saga of Raisa making out with everyone and then wondering why she is romantically confused continues!!! But obviously I am enjoying it!! Also some character motivation and plot was finally established in this book, but I just got the final book and it’s massive so I feel like that all might be about to go down the drain.

5. I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak – I picked this book up because of The Book Thief‘s tenth anniversary coming up, but it didn’t end up being a good choice. The narrative voice was incredibly strong, but i don’t know if I “got” it. The book as a whole lacked a lot of the subtleties that make The Book Thief great, and in the end, everything came down to sex? Audrey’s love wasn’t good enough, so the universe mysteriously helped Ed become a better person so she would finally have sex with him? And, of course, she realized she had been stingy and wrong the whole time, and everyone was magically whole. That isn’t character development. Sorry.

My queue for March includes a lot of newer releases and starting a few series. Also a Raven Cycle reread is on the horizon. I was planning on waiting until April, but I don’t know how much longer I can hold off.

XX. Shelby Jo

I don’t think I wrote any this week. It’s a problem, I know.

January Reading Summary

I read four books in January, which is a little fewer than I would have liked, but is also a good start to the year. If I read four books every month, I’ll meet my goal for the year. Again, I am only counting books I have never read before, so no re-reads or school assignments (though there may be exceptions at some point).

#1 – X by Ilyasah Shabazz – This novel is a fictionalized account of Malcom X’s childhood. I don’t know a lot of the history behind the book, so I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but it was very well written, and the narrative was compelling.

#2 – Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch – This is the second book in the Gentlemen Bastards series, which follows a group of con artists in a gritty fantasy world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and love Lynch’s characterization, but I have to say it was no where near as enjoyable as the first, The Lies of Locke Lamora. I originally thought that Lies was a standalone book, which heightened the intensity of the plot so much. On the other hand, Red Seas was all about the adventure, and the conclusion of the plot felt very abrupt and forced. It is also fair to say that it’s nearly impossible to compare anything to The Lies of Locke Lamora. Also, a few too many fart jokes? Was that just me?

Sequels 2

#3 – The Demon King – Cinda Williams Chima – This book was entertaining, and had plenty of the fantasy tropes that are near and dear to my heart, but it was practically all set up for the rest of the series, as it had no central conflict of its own. There are also sooo many possibilities for love triangles; the majority of my suspense surrounding the series is fear for all the love triangles that could come to be. But, I specifically wanted to give Ms. Chima credit for being adamant about and pursuing the idea of a queendom. I really like the way she is handling it.

#4 – The Runaway Queen – Cinda Williams Chima – Okay, so I must have liked it enough to read the sequel, right? Well, it was pretty much the same as The Demon King, but the plot is thickening. Again, however, there was little centralized plot to the book, just a lot of events that contribute to the series as a whole. ALSO THE LOVE TRIANGLES HAPPENED. I want to punch Raisa in the face because she makes out with l i t e r a l l y everyone. I don’t know if it’s good because she’s well developed enough for me to hate her or bad because I hate her. (I’m going to finish the series, so I guess it can’t be that bad? I’m so torn.)

I am currently reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and the rest of my February tbr includes the remainder of the Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima and hopefully starting the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo!

XX. Shelby Jo

Weekly Goal: 5,000

Weekly Count: 206

Total Count: 12,854

Review: 2015

Happy New Year, y’all!

I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution type of person, but in the last couple of years I have started setting some goals (lame ones like “get a job,” “get accepted into a decent college,” “survive at least 6 months” – you get the idea), and I actually think it’s helped me out.

So, here are my blogging/writing goals for 2016!

1). Read 50 books. I’ve set reading goals in the past, but never really paid them much mind. This year, I only read 20 (new) books (I don’t count re-reads, because I re-read a lot, and it would definitely confuse the numbers). I am going to journal reactions to each book (bc finding my Lunar Chronicles journal entries was obvs rly entertaining), and then post monthly summaries of my reading progress with the help of those reactions.

2). Finish the first draft of #RhanforyolifeThis is a tricky one, because my goal was originally to finish it by spring break, but that isn’t going very well so far. I also want to include editing the manuscript somehow, but I won’t know how far I want to pursue this book until the draft is finished. So, for now, I’m just sticking with a first draft.

3). Continue posting regularly. I have really enjoyed blogging regularly, but it has also proved to be a lot more work than I anticipated, and my life is only going to get crazier! 😉 So twice a week it is, for another year!

Thank you so much for giving me a shot if you have ever visited this site, and thank you x a million for sticking around if you ever decided to come back a second time.

Here’s to a good 2016.

XX. Shelby Jo

Reading Goals 2014

I am ridiculously competitive and quite a sucker for a good challenge (…as in…any challenge). So, last year, when many of the bloggers I liked (mainly Hero and Kelli – check out their sites!), took up reading challenges, I had to join in. I set my goal to 40-75 books, and barely scraped in 40.

That was pretty disappointing, since I love books and consider myself an avid reader. I looked back and realized I fell off the reading bandwagon sometime around when I started high school, presumably when I began attending co-op. Since I was focusing on school, I felt like I couldn’t be too hard on myself for not reading.

So, my only goal for this year is to read more books than I did last year. I’m also journaling a brief response to each of them, since I have found that helps me as a writer by creating a sort-of information bank.

Thus far in 2014 I have read 13 books, compared to the 9 I had at this point last year. I’d say things are looking good.