Friday, September 16, 2016

Baaaa Goes the Black Sheep | Air Awakens by Elise Kova

This isn't exactly a review...it's more of a discussion on my experience with Air Awakens. I guess that's still technically a review, but it's not the formal type in the way that I will be cross-posting to Goodreads and Amazon. This is just for the blog!

Before I go on, I do want to say that I'm a definite black sheep for this book. I thought of just going without posting about my thoughts on it, but some of the things I bring up may be good sources for discussion.


~~~

I had a REALLY hard time with Air Awakens. It started out fine, but then I started having trouble making myself read it. When I sat down to read the last big chunk of it, the issues I had started snowballing and I ended the book feeling ridiculously upset. (I had a long bout of hiccups right after finishing the book, and it felt weirdly induced by my negative reactions. And then I got more irritated because HICCUPS. That was a bad night...) Hopefully, this post won't feel too ranty because I really don't like ranting online. But oh well. Let's see how this goes.

Issue #1 - Not Feeling Engaged

This book didn't grip me. I found myself constantly distracted. I spent almost an entire day avoiding reading by binge-watching booktube and maybe doing some blog-hopping and post scheduling. And I know I wasn't distracted because I simply wasn't in the mood to read. It was that I just didn't want to read Air Awakens.

Should I have DNFed at that point? Sure. I thought about it, but decided that I wanted to have the option of continuing the series if I wanted and not have to worry about going back to book one.

Issue #2 - The Hype

The plot, characterization, and world all felt . . . standard. Even the magic didn't feel fresh. I don't think this would've been a big deal to me if this wasn't such a HUGELY HYPED BOOK.

Here's what you should know about me: hype hasn't burned me a lot. It hasn't made me wary of books until recently because, well, popular books usually go very, very well for me. I'm not a black sheep very often. If I am a black sheep, I can usually say, "It wasn't for me, but I can see why it's so well-loved."

With Air Awakens . . . I just didn't see that. I didn't feel like this book deserved the hype and that was such a frustrating feeling for me. And I hate even thinking that because I know so many people that absolutely love the series, but I simply couldn't see the appeal. That brings me to the reason I can't give a rating to this book: did I not like the book because the hype confused me or because I genuinely think it's not for me? How much did my reaction to other readers' excitement over the book affect my own reaction? It doesn't feel right to me to those two so closely connected, so I'm going without any rating. 

(Side note: This is why the second half of the Throne of Glass series isn't a part of my TBR at the moment. There's been SO MUCH surrounding this series, including hype, drama, fighting (wtf?!?), probably way more. I don't know where my own opinions end and my reactions to other people's reactions begin! So, I recently decided that I need to be able to separate the books from the entire online community and continue it when I can do that.)

Issue #3 - The Conflict Between Those With Magic and Those Without It

Hey, IT'S TIME FOR AN ACTUAL CRITIQUE

My notes while reading: 

There's supposed to be hatred towards magic and sorcerers, right? The way the main character and other characters react to magic, it seems like there's deeply-run prejudice against it. Right? But that hatred feels so . . . weakly written. WHERE'S THE DEEP-SEATED HATRED ROOTED IN YEARS OF VIOLENCE AND SUPPOSED INJUSTICE? I don't get it.

More notes about a quote: 
"'But-but she's not a person. She's a freak.'"
Whhhaaatt? Where does that even come from?? It feels like possibilities with this class conflict of sorts--sorcerers vs. everyone else--was only scratched at. This lost me. Without feeling that hatred, some of the events in this book just didn't make much of an impact on me. I didn't feel anything in response to them. It also made sure any emotional depth flew right past me. I was frustrated with this because, damn it, this story should've had more to it.

It's been a few days since I read the book, and my thoughts on this have actually strengthened. 

A few things may have influenced my reaction:
  • The last fantasy I had finished before starting AA was Traitor's Blade by Sebastien de Castell. The world is BRUTAL. It's a very fun book, sure, but there's a lot of despair. Like the supposed hatred towards sorcerers in AA, there was this deep hatred towards Greatcoats. Everywhere Falcio, Kest, and Brasti turned, there was someone treating them calling them Trattari (a slur referring to their "tattered" and traitorous coats ) or trying to kill them or reminding them how hated they were in the world. AA felt like it was trying to have this divide between sorcerers and everyone else based on some sort of hatred and having Traitor's Blade's world fresh in my mind, AA's conflict felt like a joke.
  • I read a big chunk of AA a few hours after watching Adriana's Let's Talk: Systematic Oppression & "The Fifth Season. Now, I know. I'm 90 percent sure oppression isn't a part of AA. But Adriana's video is so insightful and made me think about class conflicts/divides/prejudice in fantasy. Then I went into AA and got NONE of that. I wouldn't be annoyed if it simply wasn't a part of the world, but let me repeat this quote that one random character said about the heroine: "'But-but she's not a person. She's a freak.'"
  • I really, really like class/group/etc. conflicts in fantasy worlds. I find them really interesting to read about and they can oftentimes relate back to conflicts in the real world. So, I don't react well to seeing them barely developed.
    • I wonder if this is a bookish pet peeve of mine?  Hmm...
I have a feeling that most readers didn't have the same issues with the conflict as I did and that other parts of the book (the magic, characters, romance, writing, etc.) made them like the book more. But, I had an issue with almost every aspect of this book felt poor to me: one-dimensional side characters, bland heroine, uninteresting world, eh romance, very little romance (on the page--why must so many big things happen when the heroine passes out??), simple plot, very little depth, an absence of the "anger and pain" that was apparently present, a bad attempt at dangerous events.

Issue #4 - Where The Story Is Headed (SPOILERS)

There's a slight chance that I'll continue this series, though I was recently reminded of how many other fantasy series I have yet to finish. (It's a lot.) This series is very low priority.
Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?
The most ranty I get in my AA notes is in reaction to the sequel's description because it just solidifies this idea that there's supposed to be more hatred and darkness among the characters. It's supposed to affect Vhalla deeply. "Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?" I look at these words and I'm so . . . confused. There doesn't feel like there's even remotely enough foundation built to make a struggle with humanity and being a "monster" POSSIBLE. Also, she apparently has a fragile sanity and I . . . WHAT. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?

*thinks of Adelina from The Young Elites**Thinks even more of Falcio's bouts of madness in Traitor's Blade**compares both to Vhalla*

This doesn't make ANY SENSE to me.

Oh, I've remembered that I don't actually want to read the sequel.

Hype, though. It makes me want to give the series a second chance.

Likes?

If I were to rate this book, the lowest I would go would be 1.5 rounded up to 2 on Goodreads. There were a few things I liked:
  • I appreciated the way that AA addressed sex. It was a super small detail--two or three sentences worth--but it felt refreshing. Vhalla has a little bit of experience, but it wasn't made into this big deal. She has at least one ex, but I highly doubt anyone she was with before the book began will have significant impact on the rest of the series. I don't see this a lot in YA fantasies!
  • The ending was okay . . . or at least, that's what my notes say. Um. I forgot what happened.
  • The idea of the magic was decent. Even though I said it didn't feel fresh, that was a matter of execution. Looking at the magic alone and not considering how it executed in the book, I liked the idea of the different elements. I love magic based on elements.
Discussion Prompts
Where do I even begin? I feel like there are soooo many points for discussion in this post, though my closing questions shall be on hype:

Has hype (or just other people's thoughts on a book/series in general) ever strongly affected your experience with a book? Do you ever get upset with a book and wonder if it was due to frustration with not understanding the hype or your reactions to the book itself?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Monday, September 12, 2016

My Relationship With Science Fiction

This goes with my science fiction recommendations! In this post, though, I'm going to share what I think of the genre, what works for me, what my TBR looks like, etc. I've been really wanting write posts on different genres, topics, themes, etc. so I may be working on similar posts to this soon.


Overall Thoughts on the Genre
Meh. That's the word that comes to my mind when I think of science fiction. I mean, I do like some sci-fi books--enough to make a recommendation post on it--but when I'm not in the middle of one of the great books or aren't watching a video where someone talks about a book with enthusiasm, I just don't feel that interested in the genre. That's why I consider it one of my least favorites. Plus, I've had a lot of meh experiences with sci-fi books.

However, this is also a genre I'm gaining more interest in. I want to like it more. I sometimes watch booktube videos where someone talks about a sci-fi book and why they're excited for it, and then I get excited for it and forget that the genre isn't currently my thing.

What Works For Me
  • Romance - Books with romance are my comfort zone, so if I read a science fiction book with a great romance, all the other elements are bound to be easier for me to get into. Or, if I don't get into them, they don't bother me as much.
  • A fast pace - Sometimes I find sci-fi to be very . . . boring. The ones I get really into tend to move pretty very quickly. I don't mind slower paces in other genres, but it's really easy for me to get bored with a slow sci-fi. I'm drawn to thriller/sci-fi combinations. 
  • Light sci-fi elements? - I'm not entirely sure on this, but I think I prefer it when the elements are just a bonus instead of a focal point. That reminds me how I prefer politics in books since politics-heavy scenes can make me feel like I'm slogging through the pages.
What Intimidates Me
  • Time travel - This is one of those things that I see so many people get super excited about, but it doesn't interest me quite as much. I loved it in Loop by Karen Akins, though. 
  • Space - Planets, space ships, gadgets, battles: books set in space feel like they have a lot to keep track of. Sometimes I just don't care that much. Even though I love the Saga graphic novels, sometimes, the war between the different planets doesn't interest me that much.
  • Very technical language and/or a lot of detail - It's not exactly that it confuses me, but rather that I just don't care that much? It's not a big deal to be given a lot of details on specific scientific stuff. I like good world building and creative concepts, but if there's a ton of detail, it weighs down the pace or me.
My Science Fiction TBR
I attempted to group these books together by themes or related genres, but it just wasn't working out. There are some space-set books, some dystopias, and some with a more modern setting (I think). I don't own False Hearts or Sleeping Giants, but I'm planning to get them from Overdrive. There are a few more books that I could add, but 16 sounded like enough. :D

Sci-Fi in Films/TV Shows
I love Orphan Black and The 100! Under the Dome went well for me, though I got stuck in the third season. Does Jessica Jones count? I usually associate superhero type stuff with science fiction. Guardians of the Galaxy went well for me, though its sci-fi-ness didn't interest me that much.

I've seen the first couple seasons of the Doctor Who revival and as much as I really want to love it, my eyes practically glaze over if I try to give my complete attention to it. I always found myself needing to multitask while watching it so I wouldn't feel bored. *shrugs* I watched some of Gravity and felt so over it so quickly, even though I love Sandra Bullock's movies. I've never had much of an interest in Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, or Stargate. I watched some of Daredevil and liked it, but haven't felt the need to continue watching it. 

Sci-fi movies and tv shows don't really appeal to me and I think that's part of the reason I feel so meh about genre when it comes to books. It's not a genre that keeps failing me over and over and over when I read. I'm not tired of it. The idea of reading more science fiction and getting more into the genre actually feels exciting! So, why should I automatically feel so meh about it?

Anyway, I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS FOR YOU.

what are your thoughts on science fiction? Does it usually go better or you in books or in movies/shows? What should I read sooner than later? What should I add to my TBR??

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Science Fiction Books I Like | Monthly Recommendations

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group created by booktubers Kayla from Kayla Rayne and Trina from Between Chapters! There's a new theme every month where members can share recommendations for on their channels, blogs, etc. It's a very laid back feature where you can share your recs anytime during the month and can include any number of books you want!

This month's theme is science fiction! I oftentimes consider this my least favorite genre because it tends to be hit or miss for me. A lot of the sci-fi I do end up liking have a large romance focus or light scientific elements, so my recs are probably best suited for those of you that aren't very into the genre. And while I do love Saga, the Lunar Chronicles, and Illuminae and recommend all of them, I'm going to recommend some less hyped books!


Light on the Science Fiction
These books have a more contemporary feel to them (though one is set in an alternate world) and have a sci-fi element that heavily influences the main character. 
In We are the Ants, Henry has been being abducted by aliens since he was 13 and has been given the decision to press a button and save the world or just allow the world to be destroyed. But he isn't sure if he really should save the world. Other than that, it's really just a contemporary about a teenage guy trying to find a point in life as he deals with family members, grief, bullies, and dating. Science facts and fun/scary/odd theories of the end of the world were mixed in as well.

Charisma has more science in it than We Are the Ants, but the sci-fi is much lighter than the other books I will mention in this post. It's a thriller where the main character take a gene therapy drug called Charisma to get over her extreme shyness. As the name suggests, it gives her more charisma. But then things go wrong and the result is a contagious disease. There's a lot of exploration of ethics and focus on ways to change yourself. 

Well-Known But Published 8+ Years Ago
Unwind is a disturbing read. I mean, just read this part of the synopsis: "Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end." It follows three teens that cross paths when they're on the run or are headed towards a place to be unwound. It's a good thriller as well as a dystopia/sci-fi read.

Uglies kicks off one of my old favorite series! I haven't read it in a long time, but I did love the characters and the world they were in. It has more sci-fi type items--like hoverboards--than most of the other books on this post. I really like the concepts and beauty related themes in the series. If you don't know, this book is set in a world where you get plastic surgery at 16 to go from "ugly" to "pretty." and follows a character whose friend runs away.

Space and Other Planets!!
In Double Life, Lyssa is a space excavator who analyzes planets and then sells them, but she has a secret life as a pirate/bounty hunter named Razia and is trying to prove her worth. It's a really cool, fun book! Plus, it's FREE. And less than 300 pages. I read it in one day. (Do I sound like a broken record yet? I feel like I've been pushing the Razia series all year. Actually, I have. :D)

I guess These Broken Stars can be considered a hyped book, but since the series ended, I don't see many people talking about it. Anyway, this starts out on a "spaceliner" and then there's a crash and a girl and a boy end up stuck on a planet together and they're all alone (I think) and lots of banter happens and then romance happens and some sciency stuff happens as well. I loved this book! I don't know how great the sci-fi elements are, but I sure loved the romance!

I'm adding Avalon because of all the twists and turns it has. It's one of the most exciting and fun sci-fi books I've read. Apparently it has Firefly influences, but I've never seen that show. If you're looking for a fast-paced read, Avalon is a good one to try. 

Time Travel
Loop was so, so much fun! I'm not sure how to describe it plot wise, but this book will take you through lot of twists and turns and loops. Bree is a time traveling student that makes a lot of mistakes when she goes back in time. Finn is a guy from a couple centuries before her time that has dated Bree's future self. There are also people attacking time travelers and the two characters work on solving the mystery. I adored this book!

Have you read any of these books? What science fiction books do you recommend to me? I don't read them very often, but I want to try more of them!

This post is kind of a two-parter. Today was about recommendations and tomorrow I'll have a post where I go into more detail about my thoughts on the genre.

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Did Someone Say Purple Magic?? | Spells and Sorcery by S. Usher Evans

Have I convinced anyone to read Sush's books by now? This is only the eighth book of hers that I've read and enjoyed this year. :D

*I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
You have magic.

One sentence, three words, four syllables. Enough to change my life forever. And I'm not talking about the whole spells and sorcery thing.

Lexie Carrigan thought the weirdest thing about her was she preferred watching documentaries and reading the newspaper to reality TV and Twitter. But on the eve of her fifteenth birthday, her aunt and sisters drop a bomb--she's magical.

Now the girl who never made waves is blowing up her nightstand and trying to keep from wreaking havoc on her school. When a kind stranger shows up with all the answers, Lexie hopes he'll be able to help her control her newfound powers. But Gavon may not be as kind as he seems, and soon Lexie finds out that being magical is the least weird thing about her.

Spells and Sorcery is the first YA fantasy from S. Usher Evans, author of the Razia series, the Madion War Trilogy and Empath.
*Released October 4th 2016 from Sun's Golden Ray Publishing*

Ahh, Spells and Sorcery was fun to read! It reminded me slightly of S. Usher Evans' Razia series because both have a stubborn and reckless main character (though there are still many differences between the two). I know I'm in for another series where the heroine undergoes a lot of character development and that makes me so happy!

Lexie was a BRAT. And that's huge for the story because so much of her character growth she experiences and so many of the messes she found herself in wouldn't have happened if she was well behaved and overly cautious. Lexie was an immature 15 year old who acted out against her oldest sister and aunt (Nicole and Jeanie) and anyone else who tried to control her. The fights she had...oh man. She reminded me of Marie at times, who acted mean towards her family and disobeyed the rules verrryyy often. Lexie was a smart person, but getting magic clouded her judgement and...well, she made some really stupid decisions. She was always reprimanded for acting that way, though. She was grounded. Her behavior was pointed out by her family members and Gavon (the man that shows up on her Magic's Eve and starts helping her learn about magic). So, even though she's a character that could get on your nerves, she sure suffers the consequences of having an attitude and being reckless. And she learns! Though it does take a couple slaps of cold reality to help her grow. All of that said, I really liked her.

I also really liked Lexie's relationship with her sister, Marie. Her relationships with Nicole and Jeanie were interesting too, I found myself looking forward to seeing Lexie and Marie interact much more. That's kinda funny to write because they did NOT get along. They were practically enemies! I kept watching and hoping for any sort of sign of affection between them. Whenever there's an ugly relationship between sisters, I just want to yell at them and tell them to get along already. Clearly, I don't have any sisters. I started out really disliking Marie's attitude, but as she was fleshed out more, I softened up to her. Actually, I think she's my second favorite character from this book! Huh. I wasn't expecting to say that.

This book felt refreshing to me. It's been a long time since I had read anything similar! I don't seem to read as many books with magic as I used to, or at least not the books where the "powers" are actually called magic. I was so happy that this book had a more light-hearted tone than what I usually read in paranormal books. Well, that it started out that way--the last quarter-ish has some pretty serious events. There was also zero romance. The majority of characters are adults and Lexie's family members. Instead of romance, the focus is on family relationships! Even if there's romance later in the series, I really appreciated the absence of it in this book. Sometimes it feels really good to read something like that.

The downside to the light-hearted tone is that the serious events didn't feel as intense to me. There was an obvious attempt at it, but I felt like I should've been more worried about the characters than I was. I also felt like I should've been hit harder by the climax. Another negative is that with so many fights Lexie had with Nicole and Jeanie, it was a little hard to get to know those characters more. That could've been the point, but I do wish they felt as fleshed out as Lexie and Marie.

As for the magic, I don't have that much to say... I liked learning the history of it as Lexie did because it played a big role in the story. My favorite thing was that Lexie's (and most other characters, I think) visible magic was PURPLE. PURPLE MAGIC. It's was like a dream come true for me.

Overall, Spells and Sorcery was a fun book featuring a girl learning to how control her magic--experiencing many mistakes and receiving many lectures as she does--as well as how to appreciate what she has. If you want to read something with a tone in the vein of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and possibly Hex Hall, I suggest looking into this one!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Discussion Prompt

This book is obviously about magic, so I'm wondering . . . 


What kind of magic do you really like seeing in books? What would you like to see more of?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It's Brilliant, Really | Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Haha, my review for this book is similar to mine of The Fall of Butterflies because I had an "interesting experience" with both AKA I started out not liking either very much then ended up completely changing my mind three-quarters of the way through it.

*I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

*Released August 5th 2014 from Atria Books*

This book was an interesting experience! And by "interesting," I really mean that I had conflicting opinions that fueled a wheel in my brain. I love it when this happens because it usually results in me peering closer at the story and how it was crafted and then attempt to analyze specific parts instead of just saying what I liked and didn't like. (Key word: attempt.)

Before I dive into some specific parts I thought a lot about, I should talk about enjoyment level. It was . . . good. I enjoyed the book much, much more in the last quarter because that's when all the emotions hit me the most. I know that's when they were the most intense, but there were emotionally charged scenes earlier in the book that didn't reach me well because I wasn't connected enough. It's my least favorite Colleen Hoover book so far (next to the Hopeless series and Confess) because I didn't enjoy it as much as the others, but I definitely really liked reading it.

The Writing 

I had a love/hate relationship with the writing.

Miles' chapters were offputting at first. All those short sentences that were supposed to go together in a beautiful, poignant way felt like they were being forced to carry emotions. Because of that, it then felt like the author was trying too hard. I had a hard time connecting to his chapters, though only mainly because of the writing. Miles himself was hard for me to warm up to, but I'll get into that later.

Tate's chapters were a bit better, though there were times when it didn't feel that different from the style in which Miles' POV was written. For the most part, though, I really liked reading from her perspective. The story was easy to get into and everything simply flowed better for me.

Later, though, I got really into Miles' chapters--even more than I was into Tate's. It was the chapter where Miles' past is fully revealed that changed everything for me. The writing style was PERFECT for all the emotions that went into that scene and I don't think it could've been written any better!

SPOILER

Plus, I absolutely LOVED how his narrative goes from centered to left justified--just like it was before he met Rachel--at the end of the scene. It was like this giant cracktore through his heart at that time. I love it when authors do stuff like this because the author didn't just show his emotions through the characters' actions and his reactions to Rachel's pain and his words, but also through a visible shift in the narrative. It was a very clever way to make that scene more powerful. I also loved how his narrative goes back to centered after he and Tate patched up things between them. It was like I could see his heart become full again. It was beautiful!

END SPOILER
The Single Large Focus 

There's an all-consuming, obsessive quality to this book, which I didn't always love, but I was able to find a way to say that it was a good thing.

So, the story is primarily focused on love. I want to say it's also about moving on from heartbreak/trauma, but that played only a small role. Is it about family? Friendship? Nope. Is it about--um, I don't know what other options there could've been in this story, but the answer is no. It's about ugly love and how the beautiful moments make the ugly bits worth every second. So, in the sense that this story is pretty much JUST about that and isn't multi-faceted when it comes to themes, there's not much to this book.

But.

It's that all-consuming, obsessive quality that makes all that focus on ONE thing feel like the point. It's not supposed to be about much else than love. The moment Miles meets Rachel, he's obsessed with her. Instalove? Er, maybe. But that's him. Miles is an obsessive guy. The woman he wants to be with becomes the center of his world (literally, if you think of how his narrative is center justified), even if he's not in love with her just yet. He feels SO MUCH. This character is one of the most passionate ones I've met in awhile. He's even passionate in the moments he didn't want to care about Tate! His emotions were loud and clear on the page. Tate, too, seemed to focus so much of her time, energy, and attention on him. They had an all-consuming relationship and when I think of that, it makes up for the absence of other themes and focuses. Even though it felt lackluster at times because of that (I personally prefer to have a lot going on in romances because it helps set them apart from other books), it felt like a good writing move to make the book as a whole as obsessed with the love as the characters were about one another. Shining a bigger light on Tate and her brother's bond or doing something similar actually could've taken away from the story instead of adding to it.

Overall, this is a beautiful book with many ugly moments and emotions. The story sometimes felt poorly done, yet when I look at it at a different angle, it felt brilliantly written. It wasn't the most enjoyable Colleen Hoover book I've read so far because of moments I disconnected from it, but it did remind me how much I love how she crafts stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Discussion Prompt
I don't consider myself a close or analytical reader, but some books just make me look more closely at why the book was written the way it was. Even though Ugly Love wasn't super enjoyable, the fact that it made me think more than the average book made the reading experience more enjoyable. I'm a big fan of books that do that! So, I'm wondering . . .

What besides enjoyment level turns your reading experience in a very good one?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Monday, September 5, 2016

What TV Show Should I Watch Next? | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and a weekly meme where we simply make a top ten list for the week's topic.

This week's topic is pretty open! I generally avoid tv-related topics because I'm not as into tv shows as I used to be. I watch a lot of anime, sure, but I've barely glanced at any other shows lately. And I would post about anime shows if I haven't already posted about all the ones I've seen (in updates) and about ones I want to watch soon. But I guess I can try to get more into some?

Ten TV Shows I've Been Wanting to Watch the Most

I won't be including anime, but everything else is fair game. I'm also including two shows that I want to continue since I only had eight new-to-me shows that felt like they belonged on the list.


The other day, Eli @ The Silver Words told me I should watch this Korean Drama and I said I would try to make it the next show I start, so yes, this is the highest priority show on this list. I don't really know anything about it past the photos I've seen and even though I'm definitely not up to speed with Kdramas (seeing as how I've seen 1.5 shows in the past few years), I know this is very popular right now. I'm curious! Why do so many people love it?

W

I initially discovered this one from Mimi @ M&EM Read and ever since she told me about it, I've been keeping an eye out for it. From what I can tell, a daughter of a comic book writer finds herself taken into a comic book to solve a murder. . . . Then the male lead is a character in the book and they fall in love and solve the mystery together? I'm not entirely sure, but it sounds really interesting!! I love the concept. I've actually always wanted to watch/read more stuff where that sort of thing happens (not necessarily where one of the characters is from a book, but where someone comes from another world).

I've always been somewhat curious of this how, but my most recent reasons for wanting to watch it is Jamie Clayton. She narrates the audiobook of George by Alex Gino and she does is very well. I discovered that Jamie was in Sense8 and felt an extra bit of excitement for the show.

I've been eyeing this for a really long time, mainly because so many people LOVE it. The prison setting sounds a bit meh for me, but it looks like it has a lot of cool characters.

Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell
Okay, I don't know much about this, but I've seen the book mentioned on quite a few of the booktube channels I'm subscribed to. I didn't know until recently that it was turned into a tv show and now I'm really curious. The book is GIANT and not really something I want to read anytime soon, but a tv show might be easier for me to get into.

UnReal

DRAMA. I'm expecting lots of drama from this show. It's centered on the set of a bachelor-type reality show, so of course there will be many, many scandals. I really want to see it, though at the same time, I'm not sure if it'll go very well for me.


I'm so curious about this show, but I haven't made any move to start it! I love the idea of each season focusing on difference characters and locations. Plus, whenever I see trailers for the show, I tell myself that I should finally start watching it.


I overlooked this one for awhile, but it's starting to look like something I would really like. It seems to have a large crime aspect, which I tend to like in shows. Plus, I would like to see another Rob Thomas show since I loved Veronica Mars!

Third season of Orphan Black

I HAVE ACCESS TO THIS NOW. Most of my tv show watching goes through Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime (the free selection), but if it's something I have to rent, it's super low priority. The third season is now included with Prime and I'm really excited to watch it. Orphan Black is one of my favorite shows!

The Bates Motel
I got two seasons and two episodes into this show before my mood decided to push me towards something else. I really like it! The cast is pretty good...especially Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore.




Have you seen any of these shows? What other shows would you recommend based on what I put on my list? If you did a TTT, please feel free to leave me a link so I can check it out!

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Sunday, September 4, 2016

When A Book Takes You By Complete Surprise | The Fall of Butterflies by Andrea Portes

I was excited to read this one because I loved Anatomy of a Misfit and was eager to read another book by Andrea Portes. The Fall of Butterflies started out pretty rocky, but my appreciation and enjoyment grew as the story went on and . . . broke out of the cocoon as a pretty butterfly? I don't know. Forget I tried to by punny. 


*I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Willa Parker, 646th and least popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life.

Did she choose this new life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy. It’s her famous genius mother’s idea to send her to ultra-expensive, ultra-exclusive Pembroke Prep, and it’s only the strength of her name that got Willa accepted in the first place.

But Willa has no intentions of fitting in at Pembroke. She’s not staying long, she decides. Not at this school—and not on this planet. But when she meets peculiar, glittering Remy Taft, the richest, most mysterious girl on campus, she starts to see a foothold in this foreign world—a place where she could maybe, possibly, sort of fit.

When Willa looks at Remy, she sees a girl who has everything. But for Remy, having everything comes at a price. And as she spirals out of control, Willa can feel her spinning right out of her grasp.

In Willa’s secret heart, all she’s ever wanted is to belong. But if Remy, the girl who gave her this world, is slip-sliding away, is Willa meant to follow her down?

Andrea Portes’s incandescent, heartfelt novel explores the meaning of friendship, new beginnings, and the precarious joy and devastating pain of finding home in a place—a person—with wings. 

*Released May 10th 2016 from HarperTeen*

I have to laugh at myself. My first impression of this book was bad, but then as I got further and further into it, I slowly warmed up to it and started really liking it, though it still wasn't proving to be a great book. Then the ending blew me away and left me on that sort of happy cloud that I get to visit after reading really good books. A happy reading cloud? Is that what I should call it?

I went from almost DNFing this to being wowed and I just have to laugh at the change. In a way, that made me even happier at the end because oh man, do I love a book that surprises me!

The first couple chapters opens the book in an interesting way. The plot takes awhile to really start because there's this chunk where you're stuck in Willa's head as she just talks and talks and talks about both random and pertinent stuff. It was tough for me to get through because I just wanted her to GET TO THE POINT ALREADY. Once she befriends Remy, the plot picks up and more dialogue is added in. I do think it was important to show how random Willa could get--tangents, so many tangents--and to show how her thought process worked, but that didn't make me any less annoyed with her narrative in the beginning. I guess the "stream of consciousness" type of writing can be a hit or miss for me. It eventually worked for me, but I did get very close to DNFing before that happened.

What I did always like about her POV was that she speaks directly to you, the reader. It's like those moments when comic books break the fourt
h wall or whatever (I don't really know much about it.) For example, there's a moment where she says how you are probably expecting the story to go a certain way, one that would typically happen in a movie; then she goes on to point out that things don't always work out that way or wrap up as cleanly as that.


The story is a very dark-underbelly-of-the-young-and-rich type of thing. This girl from Iowa--apparently that just means she's from nowhere??--catches the attention of another girl whose mere presence seems to inspire awe from everyone around her. Girl-from-Iowa clings to this new and exciting friendship and feels oh so lucky and happier, but then the awe-inspiring girl says "hey, you want to know my dark secret" and starts showing all her cracks and faults as she introduces girl-from-Iowa to a rich, yet empty way of living. Okay, there's much more to it than that. Think of The Great Gatsby. It's like that. There's even a reference to the author, so I must be right with this comparison. Right?

This book examines differences between small-town, middle-of-nowhere life and the big, ritzy, this-city-is-on-the-map sort of life, though more complicated than that. Willa is thrust into this new life and surrounded by people that use her Iowa background as a joke. (Oh, there's Iowa farm girl. That sort of thing.) They're the kind of people that are very privileged, but can't seem to be satisfied or happy with what they have. Part of Willa wants to be just like them, to be worthy of them, which is probably why she was so willing to do some things she normally wouldn't have done. At the same time, it's shown that this "cultural difference" (as described by Milo) makes a feeble excuse, like a way to point out bad behavior as something normal and therefore, totally understandable. (It's not.) I really liked how the author dealt with these differences between Willa and the other characters. It's a big reason my mind changed so much about this book!

Also, I got this subtle "be grateful for what you have" message and I adored that!

As I got further into this book, I gained more appreciation for it. I got used to the writing and even started liking the fact that it was written that stream of conscious style (dialogue seriously helped). This isn't a simple book. Early on, I thought I had the book figured out. I thought I knew what type of plot it would continue to have and how the characters would affect one another. But I was surprised! This book takes some turns that I wasn't expecting, turns that felt a bit refreshing. The themes are more complicated than I initially thought. Even though I felt a bit too distanced from the story and didn't find everything executed as strongly as they could have, I really liked how the book snuck up on me and convinced me to like it.

I also really liked how this book seemed to have many layers, which is reminding me of Anatomy of a Misfit. Both have this more-than-meets-the-eye (or more-than-initially-expected) quality to them that turns me into a very happy reader. (Again with the happy reading cloud.) Also, both are told in a way that makes them feel different from other books with similar stories and focusing on similar topics.

And oh my, the ENDING. I have this urge to frame it because I loved the thoughts Willa closed her narrative with. It also made me realize just how much my mind had changed about the book. I never did feel connected to the characters, but I liked everything else more with time.

Overall, The Fall of Butterflies provides a very interesting reading experience. I hesitate to recommend it because the experience can easily turn out more bad than good, but I still think more people should read it. I started out annoyed that the character wouldn't just get to the point, which is funny because now I'm loving that this book wasn't so straightforward. I don't think I would've read it in one day--while practically glued to Kindle--or would've written this lengthy (oh god, I'm like Willa) of a review if it just got to the point. It boggles that my mind that I grew to like the book so much, but I'm so, so happy that it did.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Discussion Prompt
I actually have a two different prompts today!

1) If a book starts out very rocky and you're not into the characters or writing, what would usually change your mind and make you really, really like the book by the time you finish it?

2) Books that have many layers tend to leave me on the "happy reading cloud." What's something that makes you feel super happy when you're reading?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Really Long Series Update

Since I came back from my haitus, I haven't been posting any sort of updates. I've been posting a lot of reviews (surprisingly), some lists, a couple tags, and a couple other things. But no book hauls, weekly updates, reading wrap ups, etc. I don't intend to bring back any of updates I used to do (except Anime Updates), but I felt like posting one for series! What I've been working on reading, what I want to read next, that sort of thing.

The goal here is to make me feel more organized and on top of the series since I really want work on finishing/continuing some, but who knows if it'll do that...

I'm including all the series I've made any progress in the past two months. Considering that I mainly read books in series...there's a lot to add. O_O The first category is sorted by priority the series have in my TBR at the moment.

Series I've Been Reading (July - August)
Addicted/Calloway Sisters by Krista & Becca Ritchie
Current Length: 10
Read: 2
Series status: I'm 99.9% sure this is finished.
Notes: I'm reading this series in the recommended order, so after Addicted For Now, I'll be reading Kiss the Sky.

The Others by Anne Bishop
Current length: 4
Read: 3
Series status: Last book releasing in 2017?
Notes: I've read some of Marked in Flesh and will be continuing it soon!

Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare
Current Length: 3
Read: 2
Series status: This is another series that's probably finished.
Notes: I'm finishing this series very soon!

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Current Length: 6
Read: 4
Series status: I really don't know how many more volumes there will be.
Notes: I'm reading #5 soon, then will hopefully be able to purchase the 6th one and read that soon too.

Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Current length: 11 volumes
Read: 7
Series status: It's possible that the series will end in December, but I'm basing that on one little comment I came across.
Notes: My library only has 7 volumes right now, so continuing the series is tough right now. :(

Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama
Current length: 20 volumes
Read: 6 (#8-13)
Series status: It's possible that the series will end in December, but I'm basing that on one little comment I came across.
Notes: I started reading this where the anime left off! I plan to read the 14th volume soon then continue the series on Crunchyroll with the free premium trial.

Frigid by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Current Length: 2
Read: 1
Series status: I think it's finished!
Notes: Scorched isn't high priority, but I think I'll liked it more than Frigid.

Wait For You by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Current Length: 5
Read: 4
Series status: The 6th book releases in November.
Notes: I would really like to get to the 5th book this year, but I have to buy it first.

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
Current Length: 6?? (There are a lot of novellas and maybe a spin-off)
Read: 1
Series status: I'm pretty sure it's finished.
Notes: I recommended the next two books for my library to purchase through Overdrive, so I'm waiting to see if they get the books.

The Girl in Midnight by Melissa Grey
Current Length: 2
Read: 1
Series status: There's another book releasing next year.
Notes: I'm looking forward to the second book, but The Girl at Midnight left a bad last impression on me and I'm just not that eager to get my hands on the sequel.

Series I Finished

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
FINALLY. I'M DONE WITH THE SERIES! I PUT CLOCKWORK PRINCESS OFF FOR FOREVER. The ending made me cry...

Gamers by Megan Erickson
I read the last two books a couple months ago! My favorite couples were Marley and Austin from Changing His Game and Chad and Owen from Tied to Trouble, though really, I adored all the characters!

Maus by Art Spiegelman
This was a little tough for me to get into because of the art. I was reading the words, but at the same time, I wasn't really taking them in. I did get a better hang of the story the more I read, so I still liked the books.

Unfinished Series I Caught Up On
Madion War Trilogy by S. Usher Evans
The third book doesn't release for awhile, but I'm feeling good about being caught up.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliot
I read the sequel and thought it was better than the first book! It helped that I didn't remember the first book and all my little issues with it when I continued the story.

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
This series is decent! It's not a very memorable one, but I thought the second book was better than the first.

The Miscellaneous Category
Read First Book, But Won't Be Continuing Series
First and Last series by Laurelin Paige
Nil by Lynne Matson
White Sand by Brandon Sanderson

Read First Book, But May or May Not Continue Series
Fall Away series by Penelope Douglas
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
Faith by Jody Houser

2016 Releases That Kick Off Series I Intend to Continue
Spells and Sorcery by S. Usher Evans
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda (The first collected edition released this year)

May Have Finished But Neeeeed More Books!
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series I Want To Work on Continuing
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (one book left)
Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson (one book left in main series)
Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb (currently reading first book, have two books left)
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (two books left)
Fostering Love by Nicole Jacquelyn (one book left)

I didn't realize there would be so much to add to this post. There are soooo many series to read!

What series have you been working on lately?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺