April 16, 2017

Cress: A Rambling Review

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Cress by Marissa Meyer

I wasn't as engaged with the story as I was with Scarlet. The pacing seemed uneven – large slow stretches peppered with short bursts of excitement – and I wasn't the biggest fan of how we kept switching character POVs (there were some storylines I had less interest than others). I think part of it was just that I don't really have the time/energy to read during the week, so I kept just reading a little bit each weekend, then waiting a whole week before reading another chunk...but still, I found it easy to put down, and it wasn't strongly compelling me to pick it up again.

That said, I enjoyed spending time with the characters; I'd say characters and dialogue are Marissa Meyer's strengths. Perhaps because the plot was getting more intense, I think there was less humour in this one than in Scarlet (everyone was too busy trying to stay alive to crack a lot of jokes). I liked that Cress was not a "perfect" sort of character, but I did wish she'd been given a few more attributes to make her a little less one-note; it seemed like she was used for all technology-related needs and not much else (and she turned into a liability in any physical fight, although at least she couldn't be mind-controlled). I really enjoyed finally getting to see Kai and Cinder meet up again, and how that scene played out. I'm also intrigued by the introduction of Winter, and interested to get to know her better in the next book.

March 28, 2017

The Winner's Kiss: A Rambling Review

25526307The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

An excellent final book in the series! Marie Rutkoski was not afraid to put her characters in dark, dangerous situations with the odds stacked against them. She certainly didn't make things easy for Kestrel and Arin. I also really appreciate the way she showed how relationships are not neat, black-and-white, clean-cut things, but full of uncertainty and emotions that don't necessarily make sense, and that one may not want to even acknowledge.

I did think that the book could have been tightened somewhat; the first half became somewhat repetitive in its exploration of Kestrel and Arin's relationship, and the second half had a few too many battle (and battle preparation) scenes for my liking. (Battle scenes are always quite hard for me to picture, and so they don't do all that much for me as a reader.)

I thought it was clever the way the climactic scene was structured, split between what Kestrel was involved in and what Arin was up to (and plus, I liked how Kestrel's plan involved an element introduced earlier in the book). Also, the opening part of the book, detailing the treatment of Kestrel in the mines (and the psychological toll of that), really made me feel for her and was a way to create conflict in the Kestrel/Arin relationship without relying on a cliche such as a love triangle or "star-crossed lovers."

One thing I would have liked would have been more discussion of the whole issue of slavery; this largely seems to get dropped from the narrative, given the pressing issue of the war going on, but given how very recently the Herrani had been slaves to the Valorians, I think realistically that tensions surrounding that would have been high.


March 11, 2017

The Wrap-Up List: A Rambling Review

The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arntson

13429646This was an odd, quirky little story. It has a fantastical premise (creatures called "Deaths" are responsible for 'departing' certain individuals), and is set sometime in the future (no year is given, but the US is on the brink of what sounds like another world war) and yet it is centered very much on protagonist Gabriela's teenage concerns and daily life. There really isn't much world-building going on, but given this book seems to be more of a contemporary novel with a fantastical premise, I don't know that it really needs a ton of world-building.

Despite the fact that Gabriela's wrap-up list (what she wants to have happen before she departs) is centered on first kisses, romance really doesn't play that large a role in the story. Her "love interest," if you can call him that, is a sad specimen and I honestly don't know why she wanted him as her first kiss. He seemed like kind of a jerk, to be honest. Gabriela's taste in guys aside, however, she was a likeable enough protagonist, although her voice sounded a little younger than her specified age -- more like fourteen rather than sixteen. I enjoyed seeing her Mexican heritage highlighted in a natural, organic sort of way.

My favourite character without a doubt was the Death Hercule. He had attitude. I wish we could have seen even more of him. Just generally, I think some of the side characters could have been fleshed-out more; I would have liked to have seen more of her relationships with friends and family. It felt a little like the basics had been sketched out, but not completely filled in.

Plot-wise, there weren't many "big events" before the climactic scene, and then the ending itself was fairly predictable (highlight for spoilers: for one thing, I totally guessed that the "wait for Gabriela" hint could refer to after Sylvester's departure).


January 7, 2017

2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge


This is a new challenge for me, but since I normally read at least a few historical fiction books a year, I figured why not join a challenge for that?

This challenge is hosted by Passages to the Past, and I'm choosing the Victorian Reader level of 5 books, which is both:

a) attainable (I hope!), and
b) appropriate since the Victorian Era is one of my favourites.

Here are a few books on my shelves that would work for this challenge:

- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
- Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
- In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
- The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson
- The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth
- The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley
- The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

If you'd like to join in, you can sign up for the challenge here, and tweet about the challenge using #2017HFReadingChallenge!

January 5, 2017

2017 Rock My TBR Reading Challenge


Okay, so last year the #RockMyTBR challenge was the ONLY one that I actually completed! Over-achieved at, actually, since I ended up reading 16 books off my shelves instead of just 12. *pats herself on the back* I am actually super pleased about this.

However... in the meantime, I'm afraid that some more books have joined my shelves. (Shocking, isn't it?) So, I am going to join in with the 2017 #RockMyTBR challenge! It is once again hosted by Sarah K from The YA Book Traveler.

The challenge: read a book a month that has already been published. I'm just going to count books that are already physically on my shelves (or e-books I have).   

You can use the hashtag #RockMyTBR to tweet about the challenge, and updating monthly about your progress on Twitter/your blog/a vlog/etc. is encouraged.

Sarah suggests making a list of books you hope to read for the challenge, to see if anyone else wants to buddy-read them with you, so here goes:

- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (If there is ANYONE left on this planet who still has not read this book, and wants to, let me know so that a) I don't feel so alone and b) we might work out a buddy-read thing.)

- Where I Want to Be by Adele Griffin

- Split by Swati Avasthi

- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

- Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

- In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

- The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

- More Than This by Patrick Ness

- This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers

- Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

- A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge

- Outpost by Ann Aguirre

- Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

If you're doing the challenge and any of these are also on your list, let me know!!

If you'd like to join in the fun, you can read all the details and link up your blog post here on Sarah's blog.


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