Flights of Fantasy reading challenge!

Hey all! In keeping with my desire to blog more and read more this year, I’ve decided to join in Hello Chelly‘s and Alexa Loves Books‘ Flights of Fantasy reading challenge, my first reading challenge ever. Since starting Harry Potter around first grade, I’ve loved fantasy books and have roughly 33 books on my TBR shelves that are fantasy (out of 74 total books on my TBR shelves). And that doesn’t even include some big names in fantasy, like Juliet Marillier or Robin McKinley, both of which I want to try as well this year.

Accounting for some of my TBR fantasies as well as some I’ll inevitably get from the library and buy this year, I hereby goal myself at a healthy 40 fantasy books to read this year. I don’t yet want to commit to joining the Flights of Fantasy book club as well, but I might try to work in some of those here and there.

Stick around, and I just might keep you posted on my progress!

Happy New Year!

Happy holidays and a happy new year to you all! I don’t normally do resolutions so I will state this is a GOAL instead: I want to blog more regularly in 2016! 2015 got me off to a decent start but I definitely lost track as the year progressed. New year, clean (blogging) slate! I can do it!

2015 in Books

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A few months into the year, I decided to go the “One Book Challenge” route: I was in such a reading slump that the pressure from my Goodreads goal (initially 130, I think) was driving me into a deep, dark pit of reading unhappiness. The one book challenge that several other bloggers inspired me to do was a way of taking the pressure off and reading for the love of it, not for the numbers. While I didn’t hit 130 books this year, or even 100, it’s still a success because I DNFd more books and found more books that I am so enamored with. (DNFing is a magical thing.) I’ve also grown pickier with my ratings — definitely a good thing! — and have less 5-star more 2-, 3-, and 4-star than past years.

You can find all the books I read both on my Goodreads and here on my blog.

In 2016….

Somehow, some way I really need to cut the number of books on my TBR shelves in half, at least. My TBR list is over 2 pages of 8.5×11 college-ruled Moleskine notebook paper. That’s insane. The largest it’s ever been.

Here’s to reading more and BLOGGING more in 2016!

Wait….why haven’t I been blogging?

I thought I felt a comeback coming on, but then I went and blew it. Not really on purpose, but the desire to blog just…slipped away again. I don’t feel particularly stressed, yet I’m always doing something and paying no desire to that voice at the back of my head saying “YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO TALK TO NO ONE IN PARTICULAR and everyone at once ABOUT BOOKS”. Also…I don’t entirely know what I want to write about half the time I feel like actually blogging???

Lion Heart by A. C. Gaughen

Details: 348pp, Bloomsbury USA Children’s hardcover
Release date:  19 May 2015
Series: Scarlet, book 3
Rating: 3.5/5
Buy: BN.comPowell’sPolitics & Prose — The Book Depository

Summary (from Goodreads): Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince’s clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

My thoughts: I am so conflicted with this final book in the Scarlet trilogy that I’m not even sure I can give it a rating that matches all my feelings. For one, I am still in love with the trilogy’s idea with gender-bending the classic Robin Hood tale to make a woman into the mastermind behind it all. In this book in particular, however, there seems to be one overly tragic flaw that’s making me question this whole book’s plot.

Who here loves a good B plot? You know. Like in many YA SFF books there’s the A plot, the characters on a classic SFF journey, and the B plot, that two of the characters were slowly falling in love. I generally like a B plot because it amps up the tension. BUT WHEN IT GOES COMPLETELY UNRESOLVED?? How would you like to get in a taxi on the way to your next big adventure only to find out that you’re never going to get out of said taxi? NO THANK YOU. No matter what kind of taxi ride it is (they can be pretty eventful if you’ve got an experienced taxi driver) you want to get out at some point. [[SPOILER AHEAD]] So YES, after all the lead up I wanted Scarlet to officially save her father KING RICHARD so that estranged father and daughter could be reunited. I mean HELLO Eleanor has already more than accepted her so why not have more of a family reunion? That was more than hinted at even in book 2 that when it didn’t come I felt sure my book had been mis-assembled and I was missing pages.[[END SPOILER]]

On the other hand, the romance was more pronounced. Normally I’m not a fan of romance in YA books, but it worked well for Lion Heart since it was the last in the trilogy: I wanted to see my favorite characters happy in the end! And even though Scarlet doesn’t end up meeting her birth father, she still continued to form a close bond with Eleanor, which was excellent to see. She and Eleanor also had a very similar mind set, a similar way of doing things, and it was great to see that it runs in the family!

Overall, it was a good end to the series, though it could have been more well-planned. I would’ve liked to see Scarlet meet her dad…. 3.5/5

The struggle of days without internet

Access to the internet is something I don’t appreciate as often as I should because I don’t realize how much I use it until it’s gone. Especially now in a house where “television” is dependent on Hulu and Netflix and other streaming services, internet really does run pretty much everything. We lost it on Saturday. And only just got it back today.

On the upside, I made some progress (-ish) on my TBR piles! And then added to the problem again with some good deals from Barnes & Noble and Kindle deals. Of course. Of course that’s how it happened. In the end, it turns out I really needed that break from the internet to tell me how much I really love reading. There have been quite a few “duds” for me lately, but after having picked up The Martian at long last, I am well and truly excited. And I now have Illuminae and Career of Evil waiting for me too! All of the books. ALL OF THE BOOKS.

A belated list of books I read in October, accompanied by my Goodreads ratings:

  • Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas [re-read] ★★★★★
  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas ★★★★★
  • Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan ★★★
  • The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1) by Maureen Johnson ★★
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn ★★★★

And these books I’ve read since Saturday:

  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman ★★★★
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling, illustrations by Jim Kay ★★★★★
  • Need by Joelle Charbonneau ★★★

Clearly not having internet helps speed along my reading! There’s that plus side.

Top Ten Tuesday (7)

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Wishes I’d Ask the Book Genie to Grant Me

It feels like forever and a day since I read Victoria Schwab’s The Archived and The Unbound and (1) I still really wish I could read the third book RIGHT NOW. Obviously after a re-read of the first two, but still. I think Ms. Schwab comes up with some of the best stories and I just really want to see the end of the series that got me hooked on her! Also, (2) I really want to have coffee and/or tea with her. Maybe it would be took much awkward for one table, but maybe not. I think our awkwards could jive pretty well.

(3) I wish I could get a stroke of genius and figure out how to end the story I started writing when I was 16. I still think about it, and the fact that I wrote it into a hole has never ceased to bother me. So basically I’d like some new ideas to come to me that revolve around the same characters!

(4) I wish I could meet J.K. Rowling. Good ol’ JK. It’s been more than 15 years (HOLY CRAP) since I read the first Harry Potter book, and I still re-read the series about once every year…? Maybe more like once every 15 months. I know I re-read HP back at the beginning of this year, right around my birthday in February, and I’m already itching to start another re-read….

(5) I wish the bookish genie could grant me some more patience with reading all the books on the list I found, “1001 books to read before you die”. I really would like to read all the books on that list, but some authors really scare me. I have such a strong dislike for The Scarlet Letter (it has persisted since high school) that I want nothing to do with Nathaniel Hawthorne. And I’ve had Les Mis sitting on my shelf for a little while now, but it just looks so dense, even for a classic. (Here’s a question: if I could read Anna Karenina with fair ease, will I be able to do the same with Les Mis?)

(6) I wish I could win a contest that awarded me with a gift certificate worth a few hundred dollars to Barnes and Noble, or a good-sized and well-stocked local bookstore. There are so many recent releases I have yet to buy and I also want to know what it feels like to buy like 20 books at once. I’ve never done it, and I really want the funds to do it!

(7) I wish I could happen across some good space-centered, living on a spaceship science-fiction that makes sense to me. I have had such a craving for this lately but I have no idea what author writes these kinds of stories that get some decent ratings on Goodreads (higher than 3.5). Some good examples of books that satisfy this craving would be the Starbound Universe series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner and the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis.

(8) I wish I could get a well-paying job working with books, either bookstore-related or publishing-related.

(9) I wish that J.K. Rowling would decide that she misses Hogwarts and decides to write about the Marauders. How could I not want that? Every Potterhead wants it, yeah?

(10) I wish to get my book-buying under control! I’ve been doing alright with an undeclared book-buying ban, but lately with all the new releases I’ve really wanted to go binge shop the books. Hi, my name is Devon and I’m a bookaholic.

A personal update….

I wish I had a better explanation for my absence other than “I’ve lost the drive to blog” recently, but I don’t have another excuse. I’ve still been reading, but with working and looking for a real job, and my great love for sleep, blogging hasn’t been a priority. It started to feel like just one more thing I had to worry about either at the beginning of my day or after a long day on the sales floor.

With my absence, however, has come some progress in my reading (and an almost unnoticeable dent or scratch in my TBR list). Since my very last post, my book review of Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, I’ve only read three more books on my TBR list and one of those I just finished today. But in the midst of that, I re-read Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series before finally cracking into Queen of Shadows. I can say with pretty strong confidence that series is my favorite that is still being published. I love The Lunar Chronicles with a fiery passion, but even with some of those I wasn’t 100% in love with each book. Throne of Glass I am. Each and every book. I couldn’t find a large enough critique that would bring any books even down to 4-stars on Goodreads. They’re all 5-star reads for me, including Queen of Shadows!

What am I looking for in my next book? And now, it’s October, which means a relentless craving for spook-tacular reads. Good thing I’m a hoarder of books because I have a good amount of those that I have yet to read! Also, I have the illustrated edition of Harry Potter coming to me today; I am a notorious tracker of shipments and I see that package is out for delivery! I’ve flipped through the edition in stores before, but I can’t wait to really sit down and absorb all the visual magic.

What television has been distracting me lately? Guys, Doctor Who is back in a big way. I haven’t made it a secret that I thought series 8 fell a little flat after the magnificent adventures of Amy and Rory and Eleven and Clara in the second half of 7. And that fiftieth anniversary special? Come on. That was FANTASTIC. So where was that explosive entry for Capaldi in series 8. ANYWAY, I digress. Series 9 is a bomb of awesome and I am so so happy. And I can’t help but add that a re-watch of Sherlock has grabbed my attention lately. Especially “A Scandal in Belgravia”. I just watched that episode (again) a week ago and already I am craving a revisit. Irene Adler as a dominatrix is genius and Sherlock’s reactions are priceless. How about some gifs of some small but splendid moments?