Hello and welcome! I'm Nicole, an avid reader, and I mostly read YA fantasy and science fiction. However I'm willing to dive into anything if it intrigues me!
BookTube-A-Thon 2015 is over and I had a fantastic time! I love the BookTube community and I'm so grateful I got to take part. Although I had a busy week, I managed to get through a ton of reading and complete all of the challenges. I have to say I'm very proud of myself, although the books I read differed to what was originally on my TBR. You'll probably be seeing some full reviews soon. Here's the when, what & how I read over the 7 days.
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
Challenge Completed: Read the last book you acquired
Pages read: 140
I actually started this the night before, and I found myself getting sucked in. This is not the kind of book I would usually read but I gave it a go and while I had a lot of problems with it, I actually enjoyed it. The writing flowed very nicely and the main character was a great narrator. The story was a bit underwhelming but I wouldn't expect much more from it. Overall I flew through it, and I would recommend if you like contemporary high school romances. (Although, If someone had said that to me, I never would have picked this up. I'm not really sure how to describe it. Perhaps I'll try to get my thoughts together for a full review.)
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor, Vol. 1 by Robbie Morrison, Dave Taylor, Alice X. Zhang
Challenge Completed: Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name
Pages Read: 128
I enjoyed the artwork, and I found they really captured Capaldi's Doctor quite well. However I found the two stories here to be somewhat underwhelming and unmemorable. Plus, the inclusion of Clara Oswald - who is my least favourite companion on the show, and I'm sorry but quite possibly one of my most disliked fictional characters of all time.
My Rating: 2.5 stars
Variant by Robison Wells
Challenge Completed: Read a book with blue on the cover
Pages Read: 373
This was a reread for me, yet I found I didn't remember most of the details. I enjoyed it but I think if I had read this for the first time now, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. I realized how bland the characters, how unsatisfying the ending is. Still, I had a lot of fun reading it.
Rating: 4 stars
Claymore, Vol. 11: Kindred of Paradise by Norihiro Yagi
Challenge Completed: nothing! oh well.
Pages Read: 200
On day 3 I got sick. It was awful, but I managed to get through this volume of Claymore, which was good, but I definitely would have liked it better if my head hadn't been spinning and my eyes blurring.
My Rating: 4 stars
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Tim Sale
Challenge Completed: Finish a book without letting go of it
Pages Read: 48
The artwork in this was absolutely superb, so beautiful and captivating. I found the story lacking in substance however, which was very disappointing. I would definitely recommend this to any DC fan, even if only for the artwork.
Rating: 3 stars
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Challenge Completed: Read someone else's favourite book
Pages Read: 254
I read the first half of this novel months ago, but because I read an eBook on my phone, I read bits and pieces at different times. I never got into the story. And,f or some reason, I was very doubtful that I would like it. I think because of the hype - especially on BookTube - I was worried I wouldn't enjoy it. But Sarah J. Maas is a fantastic author, and she really proved that to me in A Court of Thorns and Roses. I was up reading until 4:30am! (Note: I actually had a lot of problems with this book, despite my love for it. But you can definitely expect a review of this coming soon.)
Rating: 5 stars
Star Wars: Darth Bane: Rule of Two by Drew Karpyshyn
Challenge Completed: nope.
Pages Read: 218
Listened on audio. This was not only a fantastic sequel, but a fantastic novel overall. I loved Zannah, and once again the narrator did an excellent job. The Star Wars music and sound effects just really add to it and make it feel very much like it's set in the Star Wars universe. Highly Recommend.
My Rating: 4 stars
Claymore, Vol. 12: The Souls of the Fallen by Norihiro Yagi
Challenge Completed: nothing.
Pages Read: 200
Another strong volume.
My Rating: 4 stars
Claymore, Vol. 13: The Defiant Ones by Norihiro Yagi
Challenge Completed: nah
Pages Read: 192
This series is going really well.
My Rating: 4 stars
Check Mate by Malorie Blackman
Challenge Completed: Read a book you really want to read
Pages Read: 528
This is the third book in the Noughts & Crosses series and it continues to be fantastic, although my least favourite so far. The only thing is, how did I ever think it was a good idea to read 500 page book on the last day! *face palm* At least I succeeded!
My Rating: 4 stars
So, in total, I read 10 books. 10 BOOKS!!! And now to add up the pages I read...
2,281 total pages
Hey, that's pretty good considering how short most of the books were! I had the best experience, and I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who made it happen, and to everyone who participated alongside me. I can't wait to see what next year will bring!
The BookTube-A-Thon is an annual event that's happening next week, from August 3rd to August 9th. While I don't actually have a BookTube, I don't make videos on books, I participated in this last year and had such a good time. There are 7 reading challenges that I'll be trying to accomplish throughout the week. Here's my TBR!
For information on the BookTube-A-Thon, check out the Youtube channel.
Challenge 1: Read a book with blue on the cover
BZRK by Michael Grant
This hasn't got much blue on it, but it's enough! I'm actually already half way through. I started reading it earlier this year but I was never able to really get into the story. I'm hoping this will help me push through it. I would probably just give up on it otherwise, but I borrowed it from a friend who really wants me to read it.
Synopsis: Set in the near future, BZRK is the story of a war for control of the human mind. Charles and Benjamin Armstrong, conjoined twins and owners of the Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation, have a goal: to turn the world into their vision of utopia. No wars, no conflict, no hunger. And no free will. Opposing them is a guerrilla group of teens, code name BZRK, who are fighting to protect the right to be messed up, to be human. This is no ordinary war, though. Weapons are deployed on the nano-level. The battleground is the human brain. And there are no stalemates here: It’s victory . . . or madness.
BZRK unfolds with hurricane force around core themes of conspiracy and mystery, insanity and changing realities, engagement and empowerment, and the larger impact of personal choice. Which side would you choose? How far would you go to win?
Challenge 2: Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name
Winnie-The-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Both our last names start with M. This was my mother's book before she handed it down to me, so it's very worn and quite special to me. I grew up with these stories so it will be very nice to read it again. Plus, it's nice and short, perfect for read-a-thons!
Challenge 3: Read someone else's favourite book
The Madness of Hallen by Russell Meek
This is one of my brother's favourites. I already started it but only got a few chapters in so I'll continue with the read-a-thon. It's a high fantasy, and of what I read, I was very intrigued. My brother usually has excellent taste in books, so I'm expecting great things!
Synopsis: Battle raged on the desert sands of the Great Depression. A land of tribal warriors, scattered and leaderless, was finally united under one mind, a man proclaimed as Husam al-Din, the Sword of the Faith.
On the dark day of his death, al-Din’s priests tore his mind apart, preventing his treacherous wife, Maymunah, from taking control of the armies. They disappeared beyond the borders of the known lands, taking with them six harmonic stones containing the mind of al-Din, leaving the tribes leaderless and united only by faith.
Revenge vowed, Maymunah set her descendants on a quest to recover the lost stones. Centuries passed as nothing was found, until twenty generations later, in an ice cave deep in the Meil’vohllen Mountains, Hallen made a discovery that would change the world forever.
Unable to contain the power of the stones, Hallen’s mind was lost, and for three further generations the daughters of Maymunah have only heard whispers in the wind...
The Madness of Hallen is the first of four epic fantasy novels, following the lives of two brothers in their quest against the rightful heir to the mind of Husam al-Din.
Challenge 4: Read the last book you acquired
Variant by Robison Wells
I got this book a few years ago from the library and highly enjoyed it. I just picked it up recently to add to my shelves and so I'll be rereading it this following week. :) I have forgotten a lot of the details, but I hope I enjoy it as much as the first time.
Synopsis: Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
Where breaking the rules equals death.
But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.
Challenge 5: Finish a book without letting go of it
Claymore, Vol. 11: Kindred of Paradise by Norihiro Yagi
I've been really enjoying this manga series so far, although I find it lacking in depth. Hopefully it only gets better. This challenge sounds really fun, and since I can read these volumes very quickly, this should work out!
Synopsis: A Claymore - a female warrior named for the sword she carries - travels from medieval village to village to destroy Yoma, monsters who disguise themselves as humans and who are almost impossible to kill. Claymores are half-humans, half-demons who willingly transformed themselves by mixing their blood with monster's blood. Claire, nicknamed silver-eyed killer, is such a powerful Claymore, she can slay a Yoma using only one hand. But she must constantly struggle to keep from becoming a monster herself.
Challenge 6: Read a book you really want to read
Torrent (River of Time #3) by Lisa T. Bergren
This is another reread for me. I love this series and I've been rereading the books throughout the year when I've felt the urge. I can easily fly through this one.
Synopsis: When Gabi and Lia finally learn to surf the river of time, they realize they must make hard choices about life and love in the third book in the River of Time series.
Gabi and Lia Betarrini have learned to control their time travel, and they return from medieval Italy to save their father from his tragic death in modern times.
I had very high hopes for Falling Kingdoms. While I have heard many good things about it, I didn't feel like it was over hyped, something which often ruins a book for me. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to any of my expectations. And I'm genuinely upset about this. I thought this book held so much great potential but it really flopped. I do love the cover though.
I don't think the novel, as a whole, was bad. It just felt like it was very shallow and spread thin, and it had the greatest flaw of all YA fantasy: Lack of originality. It follows the story of the three kingdoms of Mytica, with tensions between them high and war on the horizon. We see the story through many POV's, giving us many different perspectives on the same situation.
There's Jonas, the rebel. He is basically every rebel in every young adult novel ever. Fueled by rage and hungry for justice, Jonas will go to any means necessary to take down the people who have destroyed his life. Sound familiar? If you've read any YA novel with rebels in it, then probably yes. Jonas had some interesting scenes but he didn't have much personality of his own. I never connected to him, and while he has quite a large family and some close friends those relationships were never developed. This only helped to make Jonas more robotic.
Next is Cleo, princess of Aurenos, and she has lived in luxury all her life. She was so utterly, completely, annoying. The author tried to make her into a strong, kick butt heroine who stands up for herself, but she just came across as immature and stupid. I was frequently rolling my eyes at her silly ways of thinking. There is certainly room for development with her character, and if done right, she could become pretty awesome.
Then we have Magnus. Magnus is heir to the throne, he has a horrible father (who is known as the 'King of Blood') and with his daddy issues and creepy romance, he is the typical YA bad boy. I really did not care for Magnus. I did not, could not sympathize with him. I'm not entirely sure if the author was setting him up as a villain or maybe an anti-hero, but either way I didn't like him at all. That being said I think I probably enjoyed his storyline best? I'm not sure why, but I guess because Magnus seemed to be the most fleshed out character. It was interesting how he would twist things to his advantage.
Lastly, we have Lucia. Think Morgana from BBC's Merlin, but more fragile. She is apparently super powerful, but the magic in this world is barely explained (Something about elements? Never seen that one before...), and so it's just like she can do things! Wow! But I have no idea what she can actually do. Other than her magic, she doesn't have much personality. She likes flowers. This is all I know about her character after reading a novel where she is one of the main characters. Ok.
There are plenty of side characters as well. I usually love books with large casts of characters, like Michael Grant's Gone series for example. The problem here is that none of these side characters are fleshed out and they sort of blend together. They are the "friend" or the "guard" or the "neighbor". Very disappointing.
I felt the plot was decent, but as I mentioned earlier, spread way to thin. This book was pure set up for sequels. There were many twists and turns but I honestly saw all of them coming a mile away. ALL OF THEM. Literally not a SINGLE PLOT TWIST THAT I DIDN'T SEE COMING. This is a big deal because there were a lot. I had quite a lot of problems with the events of the plot itself, but that would be getting into spoiler territory so I'll leave it at that.
As much as I didn't enjoy this book, I don't think it was badly written. The writing was just rather bland and, again, spread thin. The world building was good enough, although I can't say much for the setting itself.
I don't plan on reading the sequels. I don't care what happens to the characters or where the story goes. So very disappointed in this book. I can see what it was trying to achieve, and according to other reviews it seemed to to get there for other readers. Just not this one!
This is an engrossing fantasy novel that sets up the series well. While the characters are a bit bland at times, what really makes this novel come alive is the beautifully descriptive setting. Robert Treskillard paints a vivid picture in your mind with his skilful writing.
Twilight descended as he rowed. The stars appeared, but they refused to reflect off the turgid water. The moon raised its leprous head through the trees, casting anxious shadows on the reeds that rattled against the boat.
While the plot was slow-paced, it gave plenty of time to get to know Merlin. If the other characters fell flat it was because Merlin outshone them all. You feel his struggle as he goes about trying to have an ordinary life despite being half-blind, and then his pain as his friends and family are deceived by an evil magic stone. Merlin is able to use his blindness to his advantage as he sets out to destroy the stone. His selfless, caring nature, as well his bravery, are his greatest strengths and the qualities I find most admirable about him. Even through his darkest moments, he is always looking to help others, and I found Merlin to be a wise and inspiring character to look up to as you share his journey.
I like how Merlin deals with his disability and the emphasis on how it does not define you. Merlin is teased and mocked for his blindness, and the large scars that cover his face. However he and those closest to him know that it’s what’s on the inside that matters. This is something that can be easily forgotten in our world of media and fame, where the bigger and more beautiful the better. It’s the simple things, like love and faith, which really count.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir has an interesting cast of characters, setting, and plot. It has all the makings of a fantastic, unforgettable book.
However it very disappointingly falls flat. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it. But the world building, or lack thereof, really let it down.
An Ember in the Ashes follows two characters, the first is Laia, a Scholar living under the brutal rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who vow to save her brother from execution. The second is Elias, the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
Laia and Elias were both very complex and flawed characters, and they each had a distinct voice. Although I found Laia somewhat irritating, I liked her growth throughout the novel as she found courage within herself. Her brother Darin, who pretty much fuels her courage, I did have a problem with. I felt both him and Laia's relationship with him weren't developed well enough for me to really connect with Laia at all.
Elias I enjoyed a lot more, all his motivations and relationships were well developed and built up, and I could actually understand him. I especially enjoyed his relationship with his mother, a mystery that slowly unravelled.
I wasn't really into the plot until the last hundred or so pages when it really picked up and everything was crazy. I loved the way Laia's and Elias' stories intertwined, and ultimately reached the same place. The plot moved very fast and had some nice twists, but ultimately it just couldn't make up for the lack of world building.
This fantasy world was supposedly inspired by Ancient Rome which I could almost see coming through, but there was just no atmosphere at all. The writing was fairly simple and was fast paced, but had some nice quoteable passages.
I look up at the stars hanging low in a sky that makes me think I’m seeing the infinite. But beneath their cold gaze, I feel small. All the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.
Well that's great and all but I felt so lost being thrown into an intense plot, but having no idea what the setting was like. There is little to no description of the surroundings, and it leaves the story very bland.
Also WHAT ON EARTH are the "Masks" supposed to look like?! They're soldiers who have this mask stuck on their faces, but all I could see was a bunch of soldiers looking like the gas mask kid from Doctor who...and (while that is totally creepy) I'm pretty sure that is not what they are meant to be.
Overall, An Ember in the Ashes was enjoyable, but a huge let down. I would recommend it if you like YA fantasy such as the Grisha trilogy and Snow Like Ashes. If this book impacted me in any way, it was a reminder of how important world building is.
Okay, from my rating you would probably think I hated this book to some degree. Before reading this book, I thought I would in fact hate it. I was surprised to find that it wasn't completely and totally awful! Yay!
But...I still didn't enjoy it. I can sum it up for you in a couple words, cheesy and boring.
The writing was pretty good and as I listened to this on audio book, I thought it was read quite well.
But I was zoning out often because it was just so darn boring. Shiver suffers from a serious case of insta-love. It's really weird, because it doesn't develop anywhere from that. It's just "Oh I saw you and I loved you" and then it goes nowhere. *eternal sigh*
There isn't much of a plot. Just the two main characters (whose names I've already forgotten) staring at each other and the occasional irrelevant dialogue from random side characters who...were they important? I can't remember. Okay, to be fair, there were moments where I went "Oh! Interesting!" but my interest never lasted long, and the particular sub plot would die out before I could get invested.
Overall, this was not awful. It had moments of charm within it's stale and lifeless plot. Unless you really, really, reaaaally like boring paranormal ya romance, I wouldn't recommend this one. I won't be continuing the series because I couldn't care less. Goodbye!
The Seven Realms series continues in this third installment, however this has to be my least favourite so far. A major plot point was revealed in the blurb and it really took away from the reading experience and the moment it happened. It is true that you could see it was going to happen anyway, but I still would have preferred to go in blind. I recommend that you avoid reading the blurb when going into this one. All you need to know is that the story picks up right where The Exiled Queen left off. Raisa is on the run, Han is searching for her, and there are enemies everywhere.
The dual point of view is still in effect here, but this book focuses more on Raisa than Han, an aspect I thought I would enjoy as I greatly prefer her character. But it turned out Han’s struggles were much more interesting than Raisa’s so I was left unsatisfied. The Gray Wolf Throne is very character driven, even more so than The Exiled Queen.
It was sad to see the end of Oden’s Ford, as I really enjoyed the setting, and there wasn’t really any firm setting here. They moved around a lot and unlike in The Demon King, it didn’t work.
The first half of the novel was the best. It was pretty intense, with both Han and Raisa on the same path, yet separated. It was action packed, and I felt it had a good balance with the slower scenes. The plot was engaging and constantly moving forward (although pretty slowly it seemed) yet it didn’t have any strong build up or climax. This definitely was more of a bridge book to set up for the sequel. While I enjoyed the read, it was disappointing. There are still some fantastic moments, and if you have liked the first two books then you should definitely pick this one up. I’m hoping that this is all build up to an explosive finale! And if you haven’t tried this series yet, go ahead and give The Demon King a chance. It’s an excellent, refreshing young adult fantasy!
I loved this insight into Levana's character. I feel like now I fully understand where she's coming from and how twisted her mind actually is. I was often full on cringing reading this, because her idea of what was happening was so wrong. She really does think she is a good queen, although she is incredibly selfish and vain. Seeing the horrible things she had to go through as a young girl doesn't redeem her, but it does give her great development as a character and a villain. Before this book, she was just a faceless evil, not an actual person. This book has added much needed layers to the character, which I hope will come into play in the final installment of the series.
As for the plot of this book, it wasn't very exciting. This was more of a character study then anything. It had a nice build up to Winter, and I loved the inclusion of characters who will play an important role in that book.
Really, once you've read one John Green book, you've read them all. Paper Towns is a somewhat less tragic version of Looking For Alaska. It was still a good book, even a great book. It made me laugh and it made me go "Hmmmm" and it made me sad. But, when I finished it I realized that ultimately I didn't get much out of it. The characters weren't memorable the story wasn't memorable the setting was very unmemorable. Paper Towns and Paper Stories. The one thing I really took away was an intense desire to take a spontaneous road trip.
Overall, I did enjoy the reading experience, and the book as a whole. (Especially the road trip bit.) I'm definitely interested in seeing how it will be adapted into a movie.
Once again, Malorie Blackman has ripped my heat out and smashed it to a pulp within the space of two pages. That ending was horrific.
This was an excellent sequel to Noughts and Crosses. It continued to not only be an intriguing story in itself, but deal with heavy real world issues. However, I didn't enjoy this one as much as the first. The plot wasn't quite as good and I really missed you-know-who.
I loved the way the characters were portrayed. It was a bit painful to read at times, as they were all very messed up because of the events in the first book. I especially enjoyed reading from Jude's point of view. True, he is a hate-filled rage monster but you also see a bit of the goodness in him, and how he really does believe he's doing the right thing. It was very intriguing.
I loved that I had no idea what was to come. It really made this an exciting read and I completely devoured it. Can't wait to read the next one!
I feel very conflicted about this book.
I think Brandon Sanderson is an excellent writer but there was just some things missing in The Final Empire.
First of all, it took me waaaay to long to finish it. It was due back at the library so I had to wait a while to pick it up again.
Sanderson is obviously very good at writing action scenes - the climax was just. Wow. Leading up to it, I found the plot very slow moving. The world building and character development were pretty on point but it just felt...stale. Maybe because I've also read Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, and a lot of aspects were the same.
I finished the book feeling confused, mind-blown, and relieved that I was finally done.
All in all - I liked this book...?
I'm not sure I've ever felt so conflicted. I like the way it wrapped up, but I am curious about those loose threads. I think I'll have to give the next book a chance.
Ruby Red was a fun book but it left me unsatisfied. While the story continued to build, I felt there was no real climax just more of a oh! now you have to read the next one! Just loooove that..
Saying that, I probably will give the second book a go as I did have fun with this audio book and I loved the narration.
Loved it, although possibly not as much as Scarlet.
I wasn't a huge fan of the character Cress, who seems to be the least mature of the group. Not that I can really blame her after being alone for seven years. But it did get on my nerves.
Thorne however.....ohmygoodness. I LOVE THORNE. He's so sassy and chill about everything. He goes through some seriously awful stuff in Cress but he just shrugs it off, keeping himself together so Cress doesn't fall apart. I get so mad that he doesn't think he's a hero. (Well he can be a jerk but he's a pretty nice one, come on)
I have to say that I LOVED the way the book ended, and I CANNOT WAIT for Winter!!
Overall this was a great book and an excellent continuation of the series. I love how Raisa's character is developing and I found Han's inner struggles especially interesting.
It does well furthering both Han and Raisa's story lines, but I felt the wider story was somewhat at a halt. There was considerably less action than The Demon King, and the plot seemed to flow nicely until they reached their destination. From there it slowed down.
If you liked The Demon King, chances are you will with this too. It can drag at times, but the writing is once again beautiful and captivating. I'm looking forward to continuing the series!