Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Did Not Finish

Top 5 Wednesday Goodreads Group

I tend to see a book through regardless of whether or not I like it, so I don't have a huge list of books I did not finish.  (I'm not including former school reads for this list.)

1.  Legend by Marie Lu
Likelihood of finishing in the future: Slim

Legend is the first book in a highly popular dystopian trilogy.  I abandoned it halfway through when my library ebook expired.  I never cared enough to renew it because I felt the world building was a bit lacking.  I had finished The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies not too long before starting this book, so perhaps my standards at that point were a bit too high.

2.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Likelihood of finishing in the future: Slim

Someone gave me this book as a birthday present when I was about 12.  It is probably the oldest book I've had continuously on my bookshelf.  I took it to college...then grad school...then my own house when I moved out from my parents' home.  Every couple of years I think I should make an attempt to read it, and every time I DNF.  I think the farthest I've ever gotten was approximately 100 pages.  I just don't care for the writing...maybe I'm jaded, but it feels kind of saccharine sweet and somewhat too religious for me.

3.  The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Likelihood of finishing in the future: Possible

I've checked The Magicians out as an ebook twice...and abandoned it twice.  Once I think I got about a quarter in and the other time about a third.  I did actually enjoy the part of it that I read, particularly the second time when I got further.  I may resume in the future if I'm in the mood.

4.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Likelihood of finishing in the future: Probable

I know some people might find it surprising that this was a DNF for me.  I enjoyed the beginning, but once I got to the middle, I felt it was dragging.  I think part of the problem may have been that I was trying to read it during the middle of the summer and I just needed something lighter at the time.  And, again, my library ebook expired.

5.  Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Likelihood of finishing in the future:  It will happen...someday.

We the Living by Ayn Rand is one of my all-time favorite books, so someone gave me Atlas Shrugged as a gift assuming I would enjoy that one too.  It is the longest book I have ever seen, let alone read.  We're talking 1,168 pages.  I've gotten as far as page 125 before I've given up, even though I was enjoying it.  It's just intimidation and book ADD.  But it will happen.  Maybe a 2017 challenge to myself?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday Talks: When You Don't Enjoy Book One

Tuesday Talks Goodreads Group
Today's Topic: If you did not enjoy the first book in a series, do you keep reading?

For me, the answer to this question is usually a resounding no!  Why torture myself further?  Yes, there may be the odd case that a series might grow on me, but I feel there are too many books out there to bother wasting my time on a series that I'm not feeling.  If I can't give book one at least a 3.5 rating, I'm generally done with it.  (Perfect recent example: read my Truthwitch review.)

Three other examples...

1.  Matched by Ally Condie

I gave this book 2.5 stars and I remember virtually nothing about it even though I only read it a year ago.

2.  Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

This is the first in a popular cozy mystery series.  I remember the dialogue being wooden, the characters generic, and the whole book generally unimpressive.  2 stars from me.

3.  Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

My main regret is that I read this on my Kindle so I couldn't throw it across the room and/or set fire to it.  One star because no stars isn't an option.

The time I gave a book only 3 stars and still decided to continue was...

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (first in the Southern Vampire, AKA Sookie Stackhouse, AKA True Blood series)

The first one was just mediocre for me, but I liked Sookie and saw some glimmer of potential and moved on to book 2.  (Plus the hype around the series didn't hurt my motivation to keep going.)  Book 2 was also just okay for me, and I decided to call it quits.  I moved on to the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton and found that one more enjoyable.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Finds

Hosted at Books and a Beat, Friday Finds showcases the books added to your TBR list over the past week!

I've resigned myself to the fact that my TBR list will always include more books than I will probably read in the rest of my lifetime.

This week, I discovered and added an eclectic bunch:

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
I've never read anything by Brandon Sanderson, but I know he has quite a few fans.  This is a high fantasy with a female lead.

A Dangerous Age by Kelly Killoren Bensimon
This book has an expected publication date of June, and I discovered it on Edelweiss.  It's contemporary fiction set in the world of New York City socialites.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
This book was nominated for the National Book Award in YA for 2015, and the description looks very unique - magical realism with some mystery.

The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
This book looks amusing.  It's about a group of nursing home residents embarking on a crime spree.

Casting Off by Emma Bamford
This is a non-fiction travel narrative about a woman who gave up her regular life in order to sail on a yacht...appealing for those days when you just want to run away from home and start over.

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove
I'm not sure if this book is middle grade or YA, but it looks good regardless.  It's first in a trilogy about a mapmaking family and seems to involve lots of adventure and time travel.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Books on My Spring TBR

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Here are 10 books that I hope to read in March, April, and May:

1.  Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

I knew I was going to read something by Jane Austen to fulfill #17 on the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge (a book at least 100 years older than you).  The Reads With Friends Book Club on Goodreads is slated to cover Sense & Sensibility from March 21-27, so I figured getting through it might be a little easier with others who are reading it as well.

2.  Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I've had Station Eleven on my TBR list for a while, and it will fulfill Popsugar #20: a science-fiction novel.  The Reads With Friends Book Club will be reading this book April 18-24 (my birthday week!), so if it turns out that I like the group-read thing, I will join in for this selection as well.

3.  Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

This is a super-short little book that is a written version of a speech delivered by J.K. Rowling at a Harvard commencement.  For me, it will count as Popsugar #14: a book you can finish in a day.

4.  The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian is a rare case of my having seen the movie before reading the book.  I quite enjoyed the movie and was surprised that the book was not longer in length.  It will knock out Popsugar #10: a New York Times bestseller.

5.  Cress by Marissa Meyer

I'm working my way through the Lunar Chronicles, and I've managed to find ways to fit all four books into Popsugar challenge categories.  I'm putting Cress into #29: a dystopian novel.  (The others I'm using are: a romance set in the future for Cinder, a book based on a fairy tale for Scarlet, and a book that's over 600 pages for Winter.)

6.  Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

I can't come up with any Popsugar category for Siege and Storm, but I don't want to wait until 2017 to continue reading the Grisha Trilogy.  I'm hoping to finish all 3 and then move on to Six of Crows by the end of the year.

7.  Eleanor by Jason Gurley

I just received Eleanor for review from Blogging for Books.  It was published in January.  I know it involves twins (one who died) and time travel.

8.  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

I was just about to purchase Carry On when it popped up as a "read now" selection on Netgalley.  Score!  I'm just hoping I'm not lost because I've never read Fangirl, the book that it was spun off from.  I've actually never read any Rainbow Rowell, and I feel I'm highly overdue to give her writing a try.

9.  Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

I received Before the Fall from Netgalley.  I'm glad I have this book to pick up when I'm sick of YA fantasy.  This is a grown-up book about a plane crash and the stories of the passengers onboard.  It attracted me because it looks suspenseful.

10.  The Progeny by Tosca Lee

The Progeny is another Netgalley eARC.  I'm surprised I haven't seen more buzz for this book, which will be released in May.  Adventure, creepiness, secret societies, and the descendant of a female serial killer...I'm in!

Monday, March 14, 2016

REVIEW: Truthwitch

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (The Witchlands #1)
Completed 3/12/16
Fulfilled 2016 Popsugar Challenge #30: A book with a blue cover
Rating: 2.75 out of 5

You've probably heard of Truthwitch by now since it's been all over the internet in the past couple months.  If, however, you're living under a rock, I'll break it down for you:  Two girls, each with magical powers.  It's a chase plot.  That's really all you need to know.

This book nearly pushed me into a reading slump. It took me ages to finish. I spent the entire first half contemplating whether I should label it a DNF and move on. The second half was better, or perhaps I just accepted its flaws and went with it.

What I didn't like...

The author has created a complex world and magical system. However, she clearly has absolutely no clue how to share it with the reader in a clear but interesting way. So she leaves you to attempt to figure it out on your own with just a minimum of context...with varying degrees of success. Without any proper world building to explain why things are the way they are, the story requires too much suspension of disbelief. When I tried to analyze certain things, I just ended up frustrated because I had more questions than answers. 

I feel like the writing is just off somehow. The pages didn't turn quickly. Character motivation becomes hazy when the author decides it's time for an action scene. And certain parts are SO cheesy and/or ridiculous! Yet they are presented in all earnestness! 

For example, some of the fight scenes (including the one at the very beginning) are just absurd. They are written as though these girls are characters from The Matrix, twisting and flipping through the air. What works on a movie screen, however, just falls flat on the written page. 

And don't even get me started on the romance that occurs later in the book...which could have been a really cool flirtation to watch develop since I think the characters are well suited to each other. Instead it was silly, cliched, and rushed. Falling on top of each other? Grow up. 

What I did like...

Believe it or not, there are actually some things I liked about this book. I liked the characters and found them to be significantly better developed than the world is, particularly Iseult and particularly in the second half of the book. 

I liked that the book features a strong female friendship. I think it's cool how the author handles the concept of family. None of the four main characters has anything close to a "normal" family. Safi and Iseult have kind of made their own.

I did not find the book predictable aside from the budding romance. 

Overall, I can't say that this book lived up to the hype. I am curious to know what will happen to these characters, but ultimately I just can't stomach any more of the writing and unanswered questions, so I will not continue to read further books in this series.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday Finds

Hosted at Books and a Beat

I've been super busy, and I'm still struggling through Truthwitch after a week and a half (review to come), so I didn't add many books to my TBR list this week.  In fact, I only added three...

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia is a YA contemporary about a girl with schizophrenia who has difficulty distinguishing reality from delusions.  I have to admit that this is one of the prettiest covers I've seen in awhile.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton is a YA contemporary focusing on three girls struggling to be the top dancer at an elite ballet school.  I've never danced but I've always been somewhat fascinated by "ballet culture."  (A few months ago I discovered the Australian TV show Dance Academy on Netflix, and I binge-watched all three seasons in about a week!)

The Enchanted by Rene Denfield is an adult magical realism tale of a death row inmate, along with some mystery aspects as well.  The description looks complicated and extremely unique.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday Finds

Hosted at Books And a Beat

I added lots of books to my TBR over the past week, I'm making this a brief post today.
Interesting that I added a lot of YA to my TBR on a week when I was reading an adult psychological thriller...

The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
YA dystopian about a world with a shortage of females

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
YA political(ish) thriller (first in a duology) set in a private school in Washington, D.C.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
YA sci fi that's very popular on Booktube but I'm still not entirely sure what it's about

A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes
YA time-travel fantasy spin-off of the Falling Kingdom series.  Haven't read the Falling Kingdom series, but the description on this book looks more interesting to me.

Air Awakens by Elise Kova
YA fantasy series about a library apprentice and a society of sorcerers.  Hate the cover, but I like books about libraries and I like books about sorcerers (generally).

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Popular dystopian about a traveling group of actors

Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik
Non-fiction about female detectives, both real and fictional.  April release date.

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
YA dystopian about a girl who is supposed to kill the president's son

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
YA fantasy about a princess fleeing an arranged marriage

The Queen's Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler
My Kindle First pick for March.  An adult fantasy about a boy held hostage by a king.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Take Control of Your TBR Pile

Take Control of Your TBR Pile

I'm getting a slightly late start, but I knew I wanted to participate in this challenge to keep up my good reading mojo going in March.  Check out the host, Caffeinated Book Reviewer, for further details, events, and a giveaway.

My planned reading for March:

Tuesday Talks: Movie Adaptations

Goodreads Group for Tuesday Talks

Today's topic is movie adaptations that you've enjoyed more than the books they were based on.  Like many people, I prefer usually prefer the book to the movie and not vice versa.  (I also prefer to read the book before I see the movie, though I have had instances where watching the movie prompted me to buy the book.)

Therefore, my list for this topic is quite short...

1.  Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

It's been awhile since I read the book (high school?) and saw the movie, but I remember that it did fall into this category.  It's not that I didn't enjoy the book at all, but I definitely preferred the movie.  Hugh Grant and his accent may or may not have had something to do with this, but I feel like Renee Zellweger did a good job making the character a bit more likable.

2.  Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

I read The DaVinci Code and loved it, so my next move was to pick up Angels & Demons, which is actually the first book in the Robert Langdon series.  I found the first half quite slow and not really what I was expecting (too much science for my personal taste).

The movie seems to speed through the parts that I didn't like and get right to the action of the story.  And for some reason, the mis-casting of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon bothered me much less in this movie than in The DaVinci Code.

3.  Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

There are few books that I loathe more than this one (on pretty much every level), so the movie had to be a step up.  I found it to be a snoozefest but at least not quite as offensive.

And even though the following two are not movies, I must mention...

1.  Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

The show has long been my guilty pleasure, but I picked up the book a couple years ago to fulfill my obsession during the off-season.  The girls in the book seem so much younger than in the TV show...unsurprisingly, since the actresses are all older than the characters they play (except for Alison, I think).  I didn't continue the book series, since I just prefer the way the actresses have developed their characters on the show.

2.  Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

The book was pretty good, but ohmygod, the TV miniseries with a youngish (30s) Pierce Brosnan?!  Awesome!  My mom stayed up late 3-4 nights taping this on VHS when I was a little girl, and I finally found it on DVD through Amazon a few years ago.  Adventure, romance, little moments of humor, and of course that accent!  

I think I shall watch it tonight. :)