Book Courtship Tag

Phase 1 – Initial Attraction: A book that you bought/read because of the cover

Phase 2 – First Impressions: A book that you bought/read because of the summary

Phase 3 – Sweet Talk: A book with great writing

I don’t like flowery writing or purple prose, so if a book tells it to me straight, I like the writing.  But I also like writing that makes connections between books, has great characters, foreshadowing, etc.  Examples include the list of favourite authors: Tamora Pierce work, later Sherwood Smith works, Kristen Britain and Maria V Snyder (who is heavy handed on foreshadowing, but it’s cool).  

Phase 4 – First Date: A first book of a series which made you want to pursue the rest of the series

Most first books in series I read that i have rated over 3 stars honestly make me want to read more.  Look at my favourites shelf on GoodReads to get a few key books.

Phase 5 – Late night phone calls: A book that kept you up all night long

Phase 6 – Always on my mind: A book that you can not stop thinking about

The books I think about most often and consistently are found on my favourites shelf on Goodreads (link above).  

Phase 7 – Getting Physical: A book in which you love the way it feels

I love the raised parts on the hardcover edition of Lady Knight (Protector of the Small #4 by Tamora Pierce).  Other books I can’t think of right now have nice and smooth covers.  I just love holding books to be honest. 

Phase 8 – Meeting the Parents: A book in which you would recommend to your friends and family

Great themes for everybody!

Phase 9 – Thinking about the future: A book or series that you know you’ll re-read many times in the future

Broken record here, but look at my favourites!

Phase 10 – Share the love!!! Who would you like to tag?

Stefanie at Your Daughter’s Bookshelf!


TBR pile accounting

One of my reading goals I have this year is to reduce the number of unread books on my bookshelf by half.  At the time of writing that goal I hadn’t counted the number of unread books I had, but thought it was around a dozen.  So here is the official count!  Plus a few little tidbits of information on the books thrown in.  

1. & 2. & 3. Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen (Abhorsen trilogy) by Garth Nix

Bought: July 2014 

On shelf: 2.75 years

This was my only buy the whole series at once before reading it moment I’ve had.  I have heard good things about it by good people and started reading the first book and though I found it interesting, it didn’t immediately drag me in and force me to read the rest.  I will hopefully attempt to read it again. 

4. The Diviner by Melanie Rawn

Bought: ~August 2012

On shelf:  4.5 years

I bought this to be a plane read before my study abroad and I did actually start it but didn’t get too far into it as I’m not really a plane or bus reader, even though I can actually read in moving vehicles (I just prefer to look out the window or sleep).  Since then I haven’t attempted it and have lost interest.  This book is the most likely one I will donate, but I am also curious to know what it’s about.  I bought it because Rawn had another companion book that sounded good but was suggested I read this one first.  

5. Brimstone (Pendergast #5) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child 

Gifted by a friend Christmas 2014

On shelf: 2 years

This is a favourite book of a friend.  I’m told you don’t need to read them in order and reading the back of the book I realize it does sound interesting.  This sounds like an urban fantasy book which I generally don’t reach for but I’ve become more adventurous recently and I have being doing some group creative writing in an urban fantasy setting so now could be a great time to finally pick this book up. 

6. The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms #4) by Cinda Willams Chima 

Gifted by a friend Christmas 2014

On shelf: 2 years

I have read most of Chima’s books and have liked or loved them, though I have yet to read the last of Seven Realms books.  As it’s my friends favourite series and she knows this, she got me a copy of the last book in the series to finish it off though I haven’t been in a rush to do so. 

7. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Gifted by a friend 2016

On shelf: ~1 year

This is a first edition, signed Atwood book.  A friend gifted it to me since she already had personally signed copy.  Atwood is not normally my cup of tea,  but this book does sound good: it’s about a social experiment where pairs of couples switch between life in prison and normal life.  

8. Snow like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Stolen/given to me by family member

On shelf: ~8 months

The family member didn’t really like this book and so when I went to borrow it he said I could keep it.  It been on my to read list for a few years so I think it was a win-win for all.  Though we do generally have similar tastes in books so the fact that he didn’t like it too much has me hesitant but I think it’s more he’s growing out of the genera then anything wrong with the book.

9. Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson 

Bought: Summer 2015?

On Shelf: ~1.75 years

I’ve heard excellent things about this book from BookTube and even though it has a love triangle I am curious.  I’ve started it once and got about 2 chapters in but wasn’t in the mood to read it at the time.  Whenever I travel it’s the book I drag along with me so I think it’s only a matter of time.

10. Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J Maas

Christmas Present 2015

On Shelf: 1 year

This is a series that I have up to this point enjoyed.  I do expect to enjoy this book but for some reason have yet to get to it, likely because I am strange and liked the first book more then the second and feel like I won’t like this book, even though I’m also sure I will.  At the same time, I feel like I will like it and that is why I haven’t read it?  It’s a strange situation to be in, but I hope to get to this book soon. 

11. Half Bad by Sally Green

Bought: Summer 2015?

On Shelf: ~1.75 years

I have been interested in this book for years and around the time it was really hyped on BookTube I found it for 6$ in the book store (for a hardcover!).  Witches are generally not a theme I read about, but this one sounds good and I will likely get to it soon.

12. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Bought: July 2014

On Shelf: 2.75 years

I bought this before learning about BookTube and seeing all the hype about this series.  The cover dragged me in and everything I have heard about the book in reviews has only made me want to read it more, yet I haven’t gotten to it yet.  For shame!  Another one that I will likely get to soon. 

Note: Most of these books are part of a series, but unless indicated otherwise, they are the first of the series.

Average wait of time: 2.15 years

Number bought versus number gifted: 8 bought, 4 gifted

Approximate percent of bookshelf that is unread: 10-15% (I forgot to count all my books so this is a rough estimate)

For the record, because there are 12 books and I want to reduce that in half by the end of the year that means I want to have 6 unread books on my shelf by the end of the year.  If I buy more books I haven’t read I still want to have 6 or fewer.  If I give away books I haven’r read that means I have to read fewer books to hit the 6 unread books. 

Oh! and I *do* have copies of the first four Game of Thrones books, but they are currently in the ‘donate’ pile in my room, so I’m not counting them.  

Inconsistencies in Ready Player One by Ernst Cline

This post is in similar vane to my ‘How do you Review’ posts, though it focuses more on the inconsistencies found within Ready Player One that, in my opinion, hurt the book.  These are just a handful of the things I noticed.  There could be some spoilers.

-everyone is poor yet everyone can buy shit in the game?

-no one else thought the ‘much to learn’ would ever be the planet with schools on it?

-the talk of living in parent’s basements ignore the fact that in this world people don’t have basements anymore

-MC never thought to control+f his diary for key words??

-keeping all the identiy data from FBI over time would not have been a thing that could actually happen

-NPC’s are quite individually responsive in this world which at our level of technology is not realistic 

-it might be illegal to sample DNA but a corporation that routinely does illegal things including murder would be doing it anyway

-there were timeline issues, in one case it was insisted it had been months when it was really only about 2 weeks 

Review: Ready Player One by Ernst Cline

Published: August 2011

Publisher: Crown Publishers

Pages: 374

Star Rating: 2.5

Genera: SciFi

Series: First book in a companion series 

Source: Own paperback, this read was via audiobook through library Overdrive account   

This book is the first re-read for me for 2017.  Ready Player One is a book that many, many people love, but I didn’t really like.  However, it started my SciFi kick that has been ongoing for over a year now.  Because of my mixed feelings on this book and because I love Wil Wheaton, I wanted to re-read this via audiobook to reassess my feelings on it.

In a quick summary: the book started out really great, I love the introduction into the world.  For me it was unique, interesting and creative.  However, over time things start building up that resulted in the same mixed to negative feelings about the book.  To start with, the book quickly becomes infodumpy and feels more like a long string of 80s references and gaming culture explanations held together by a weak plot.  Overall, I love the plot and it’s unique and interesting, but the execution of the plot leaves me wanting more and better.  Then there are a bunch of characters I don’t really have any attachments to: the whiny cis white male teenager, but he’s poor and overweight so we are supposed to relate to him; his manic pixie dream girl, the ‘best friend’ who is better at the game then the main character but is relegated to a side-kick role and is also the Secret Diverse Character TM where the author wants credit for diversity that he didn’t actually write and for the diversity to be this big plot twist.  

Going into a bit more detail, the writing was too long-winded and needed an editor to pare it back.  For example, in the starting chapters there is this giant monologue spewing all the author’s life views (which I actually agree with) but was not needed to develop characterization which is how it’s framed.  The second part of this novel really starts bringing in the pop culture references to the point were I felt like I was wading through a pool of them trying to find the story.  It’s also at this point the story tries to out-cleaver itself which annoyed me.  The book has a large number of inconsistencies that build up I could write an entire post just about them (and I’m seriously considering doing so).  If more attention had been paid to staying in-world, to being consistent with the world he developed I would have been less annoyed.  Finally, at least three different times there were very heavy-handed use of the deus ex machina trope to solve all the problems currently effecting the main characters.  

Many of the inconsistencies also impact the worldbuilding.   On the surface the world is unique and believable.  I could really see us heading in that direction and the impact of an energy crisis and the solutions that were used to deal with the situations are creative and believable.  It felt like how the world went could have really happened, with a touch of suspension of belief for having technology so good to be able to made it seem and feel real.  The game as a distraction from the real world has parallels with the now (tv, video gaming), and it makes this book depressing when thought about in that sense.  The book has deep themes to be looked at if you like that sort of thing in your books 

However, going deeper into the world and OASIS things start to breakdown and I think it’s the contrast between the poor outside and the rich inside that do not seem to mesh.  Everyone is poor and can’t afford things in the real world yet everyone seems to be rich online.  

As for the characters, I think my above summary pretty much tells you what I think.  Wade was not a relatable character and fits in the whiny white male lead that too many characters fall into.  Similar to the use of the deus ex machina trope, there is a lot of ‘convenient explanation as to how the protagonist knows how to get out of every bind’ being used.  The white male lead fumbled around until the answer fell into his lap.  He also grossly invaded his friend’s privacy and took the high road about it.  Then insert fear of females into the MC before introducing the manic pixie dream girl.  The best friend is treated like a cute side-kick.  I liked Og the best out of every character, and he was only treated as a convenient side=character built to help the useless MC.  

Also, while it is nice to see more autistic characters in books being awesome and capable, the author did not do it in a respectful way in this book, describing Halliday as ‘high functioning’, which is very harmful to the community.  Then there is the part where the main character gets super fat but conveniently losses all the weight in a very short amount of time because of a girl.  Finally, there could have been some interesting diversity in this book but instead it was treated as a plot twist to the point it reminded me of JK Rowling wanting credit for diversity that was never really in the books.  

Finally, the plot, much like the worldbuilding, was interesting on the surface but breaks down in execution and delivery.  I was really interested in the scavenger hunt aspect of the story and it was well done for the most part.  I didn’t like the 80s aspect of it, with half or more of the references going over my head and there were times when it seemed like an encyclopedia of 80s jargon held together by a thin plot.  There were certain aspects of the plot  I liked: the sixers and the corporation were great, if one-dimensional, antagonists.  The blackmail scene was something I could imagine happening.  The sponsorship deals and the awards for winning I can picture happening, but the sponsorship deals never bit him in the butt (unrealistic) and Wade manage to make enough money to buy everything he ever wanted, ever.  That seems very unrealistic to me.  Or how about when the answer to one of the clues was in his grail diary, but he never thought/bothered to ctrol+f the thing? Yet still is the one that wins.  There were no checks and balances in filling out requisition forms, which much of the plot hinged on and is unrealistic.  The corporation would do some illegal things but not others that would destroy the plot just because there is a mesley law about it. Finally the book ended in a cheap romantic plot that did nothing to solve the issues of the world that non of the characters really cared about since they spend all their time online. 

In the end: the fact I wanted to re-read this book shows that there was something about it that I did like.  I loved the first third or so of this book but things got worse and worse after that.  It was long-winded and needed more editing, but the quest and the world intrigued me.  However, the thing that made me not like this book was the wasted potential.  It had the potential to be epic, but the manic pixie dream girl, the whiny white male saviour, the deus ex machina, and several other things the come into play at the end combine to make this book more of an annoyance then a favourite for me.  Many people love this book for the 80s nostalgia but I never grew up in the 80s so most of the references were lost on me.  Others say it’s geek culture in this book that they love, but this book just scratches the surface of the gross aspects of nerd and gaming culture and brushes over how harming it can be.  Things like gate keeping and sexism.

6 character deaths that didn’t affect me

listI admit, I generally don’t care or cry when characters die on-page, however, there are some character deaths that were more impactful than others and here is a list of those that others were really broken up about but I was not.

This post will have spoilers: (Harry Potter, Throne of Glass #2, Young Wizards, Hunger Games and The Magicians).

1. Dobby in Harry Potter – People love Dobby and hated his death, but I didn’t like him and didn’t really care when he died.  Sorry.

2. Ponch in Young Wizards – I was spoiled for this so it wasn’t a surprise which is half the battle of a death. 

3. Dumbledore in Harry Potter – Again, was spoiled and by that point I was angry at how much of a shitty person he was to Harry.

4. Nehemia Ytger in Throne of Glass – seemed gimmicky to me, a death of convenience.

5. Finnick Odair in Hunger Games – I was never attached to him as a character.  

6. Alice in The Magicians – Never attached to her, didn’t care.  Was another female death to save the rich white boy main character.  Yes I know she’s not likely really dead. 

As you can see there are three main reasons character deaths don’t impact me: I didn’t like the character, I wasn’t attached to the character or I was spoiled.  Two of these issues are a product of the writing, though since a large majority of readers were impacted by these deaths, the onus in not completely on the author since people were impacted. 

Are there any character deaths that didn’t impact you as much as other people reading the series?  Please let me know below!  Spoilers welcome, but many tag with the series so people can decide or not to read your comment. 


The challenges to supporting self-published authors

thoughtsThe general view of published versus self-published works is that you can expect a higher calibre of writing and story in traditionally published books.  Yet, there are a bunch of hidden gems in the self-published side of things and as anything and everything can be published there could be more of your favourite story type or tropes you like in the self-published realm then in the traditionally published side of things which tries to limit themselves to prevent over saturation.  

With such a perception, it can be hard to get into reading self-published works.  However, I think it’s important for readers not to be a traditional published snob.  And let’s face it, there are and will be a tonne of self-published books that are not worth the time to read it and readers want to know that what they spend their hard earned money on will be a good book.  Yet, I’m sure every reader has read at least one book through the traditionally published way that they can’t understand how it got published.  It also seems there are more and more of them being produced by the day.   I’ve read a few self-published books in the past year and none of them have blown me away, but I have read a lot worse books in that same year that were traditionally published. 

Another hurdle self-publishing has to overcome is viability.  It’s hard to find out about self-published works because readers mostly only hear about the traditionally published works, and even then it’s only the books with the highest promotional budgets.  It’s unlikely you will find many self-published books in your local library or bookstore, making it hard to find them or find out about them.  Not only do you need to find self-published books, you need to know which of these are the best of the best.  

That is why reviews are important.  Reviews tell other people ‘hey! I read this book you might not have known about and this is what I think!’  Reviews help give the book visibility.  

Yet, I find it hard to review self-published books as critically because I want to give the author a pat on the back and say good job.  It’s not as hard for me to say my feelings about traditionally published works because there are so many people in the process of publishing it that the burden of producing a good book is on more then just the author because there are more checks and balances with editors and the like then there are (generally speaking, though not always) in the realm of self-publishing.  The result is, I want to be nicer to self published authors and give them more leniency.

But I want my reviews to be critical and helpful and while I would never attack any author personally, by artificially inflating my ratings or my reviews because a book is self-published is not going to help the author get better or anyone who reads my reviews a good sense of my true feelings for the book.  It makes it harder to separate out the good from the bad which is part of why I write reviews, to be informative and help people decide if they want to read a book I have read.  

This is only the beginning of the challenges that face self-published authors and the readers that want to support them.  There are many, many others.  Overall, I think my take home message for this post is, don’t be afraid to read self-published works and don’t be afraid to review them critically.  Most good authors realize this is part of publishing and any visibility is generally better then none.  


Eve: the Awakening

Eve: the Awakening is my first self-published book of the year.  I will admit, I don’t tend to read a lot of them, but I do manage one or two in a year and would like to improve that.

Published: August 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 547

Star Rating: 2.5

Genera: Urban Fantasy, upper teen to adult

Series: First book, only currently released 

Source: Read the first three chapters for free, bought the ebook on amazon after.   

Possible triggers: graphic violence

This book came onto my radar after discovering the author on youtube.  Jenna gives out writing advise and is really informative and funny.  When I noticed the first three chapters of her book were online, I started reading out of curiosity.  That was all it took, as I was hooked and bought the book after finishing the third chapter.  

This book had a great start that dragged me in and made me want to know more.  What let this book down was it really needed an editor in the back half.  I was reading the climax and was bored because it was overly descriptive and there was battle after battle after battle….  The climax of the story should not bore your readers.  Ever.  In my scribbles of my thoughts on this book I have that the book was slow, bored me, there were too many battles, etc written down over 5 times.  There is really a problem with you book if I can’t even remember that I wrote that already.  On top of that quite a few of the plot twists were predicable.  Yet the very end rounded things up quickly compared to the pace of the rest of the book when I would have liked an explanation.

The characters were hit or miss.  The ratio of male to female characters could have been improved upon and the majority of the female side characters were lumped into the villain side of things.  These female side characters were over-done, being more caricatures then characters with diverse thoughts and feelings.  However, the main character and her friends and the teachers (mostly male) were diverse in thought and characteristics and I greatly enjoyed them.  I did love that there was no love triangle, instead there was the gross super overprotective BF after a few weeks of knowing each other trope. 

I did like the writing outside of the battle scenes.  It was descriptive and informative.  It was the the PoV that I like most (3rd person).  There were some things that I would have changed (like the fact every character plays with their cuticles 24/7 and no one knocks) but it was good.  There were interesting and creative small details and ideas included int he book that I loved.  Diamond bullets, anyone?  Underground chimera worshippers?  There needed to be some sort of break between the dream scenes and the rest of the book, however, as it would be dream on paragraph and not dream the next and it would take a bit to realize this was not the dream anymore.  Also the slang for a future book was a little to 2010s, but it’s not the worse case of this happening in a book that I have ever seen. 

The world was interesting but there were some inconsistencies.  Chimera did seem a little too powerful and it wasn’t really explained how they came to be (they were kind of explained through genetics but they also come from non chimera parents??).  The aliens, again, interesting by inconsistent.  First they were hard to kill but then they were suddenly easy to kill in the climax, even using techniques (like melting) that they tried and failed with the first time.  

Overall the book started good but the ending dropped the rating for me.  I would still recommend people check it out, the first three chapters are free, after all!  Finally, a great quote to leave you with that is deeper then just the surface level meaning: 

“Everyone deserves to feel beautiful.  It’s your God-given right to look in the mirror and love what you see.  Never mind the imperfections-we’re all imperfect, after all.  But people tend to get so caught up in what they’re lacking, they forget to appreciate what they have.”