Best and Worst

The best and the worst of the year.  These are the posts most people love to read, because ~drama~.  Here are my lists (for the record, I don’t include re-reads on my list of best or worst, and pick the best of a series if I read more than one):

Best (ranking approximate):

7. Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane 

6. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

5. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

4. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

3. Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child 

2. Warcross by Marie Lu 

1. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

 

My best books will never all have 5 star ratings and 5 star books will often not appear on my list.  Why? Because my rating system is a mess and my favourites are more about my feeling and less about technical things.  I remove stars for things like major inconsistencies (*coughwarcrosscough*) but I still love them. 

Worst (rank definitive, novels only):

3. (Tie) The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern, EVE: The awakening by Jenna Moreci, Nerve by Jeanne Ryan, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

2. The Viral Storm: The dawn of a new pandemic age by Nathan Wolf

1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

By novels only, I mean there were a handful of graphic novels I read for whatever reason that I don’t want to think about or list again. The 5 way tie I could not break because each book had something I absolutely loved about the book, but there was at least one thing that made them a 2 or 2.5 star read.  

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Re-reads through Mark Oshiro

This time last year I made a post talking about how my read pile is deceiving.

This year is the same.  My Goodreads said I read 76 books this year.  However, I had 2 DNF’s that I count in that.  I also have several books I have reread through Mark Oshiro.  Add these on to my Goodreads Challenge and my total number of read books jumps to 83 which is quite a few more then my goal of 75.

To round off my list of books I have read this year, here are the handful I have read along with Mark over at Mark Reads.

1. Wizard Alone by Diane Duane

2. Wizard’s Holiday by Diane Duane

3. Wizards at War by Diane Duane

4. Wizards of Mars by Diane Duane

5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

 

DNF’ing your current read

listDid not finish.  Some readers will stop reading a book halfway through and won’t think anything of it.  Others cannot fathom leaving a book unread.  The reasons for putting a book down and trying something else are simple when you look at the list of books to be read and think about all the other things tat need to be done in the mere 24 hours that a day contains.  However, I am part of the latter camp, having only a handful of books that I did not finish out of hundreds and hundreds read. The Hobbit, Game of Thrones and the Diary of Anne Frank are only ones I can think of off the top of my head.  I have put down a book for over a year and gone back to it to finish it off.

 Here are some of the reasons I cannot seem to not leave a book unread:

1. School. There were too many boring requires readings that I had to read that I learned to force myself through on the off chance it might help me on the exam.  As an aside school and lying teachers telling me that the book we were going to read this year is actually interesting is a major reason why I don’t like to read hyped books or books that have been and recommended to me.  However both of my favourite authors were recommendations…

2. What if it gets better?   The major reason so many people push through to the end: the what if? the hope that the ending would somehow redeem the beginning.  I have read several books that had slow starts and stellar endings.

3. I need to know what happens, even if the book is boring me!  This is likely the major contributor for me.  It’s also the reason I will pick up the next book in a series that might not really interest me, because I need to know.  That book I put down for over a year?  I needed to know how it ended. 

4. Is it really so bad that I need to stop reading the book entirely?  Sure I might not be interested but it’s not that bad.   

5. A secondary or minor character saves the book, even if the main character is a drag.  Not even sure if this is a valid reason, but there are too many good side characters in books that need a shout out!

 

 

5 Bookish Pet Peeves

listWe all have bookish pet peeves.  Here are some of the pet peeves that I have been thinking about recently as I have been looking for new reads to, well, read.

1. Inconsistencies within a book or across a series. What got me thinking about this topic was on specific set of novels, the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane.  I will be doing a full review of my thoughts on the whole series once I have finished the last few.  However, what struck me most about reading them was the number of inconsistencies between the novels.  Now in this example many of them have likely been cleared up as the author has actually re-written several of her books, in part because of this.

I admit it, I am someone that sees, points out and gets irritated by inconsistencies in novels very easy.  Most of the time I can read past it and not let it completely ruin the novel, especially if it is across a series.  Novels take a long time to write and authors don’t have the time or brain capacity to read and remember everything about each novel they wrote (doubly so since edits likely have changes the books from the original intention).   However I do think it’s sloppy if there are issues within a novel and feel justified if blatant things are present.  Novels have a copy editor for a reason: to catch things like this!

2. When the back cover of a book has quotes from reviewers or an excerpt from the book and not a summary about the story. Personally, when I look on the back of the book I am looking for something that tells me about the plot of a book.  A well-picked excerpt can do that but the majority of the time it is an excerpt about the two main characters kissing for the first time and for whatever reason it’s forbidden.  That is never going to get me to read the book.  Quotes from reviewers are even less likely to get me to read the book.  Double less likely if its reviews of previous novels.  Making me open the book to search for the information I’m looking for will not sell me on the book. 

3. On the subject of book covers: cover changes.  Nothing new here so I don’t need to talk this one to death.  We all hate them and maybe someday publishers will listen.

4. The new trend in YA covers: the ‘terrible photoshopped white girl that is not looking at you’.  I have found in the last 10 years or so that the trend in YA covers is moving away from art work and towards photoshop, which yes, is art, but not hand-drawn art.  If its not the ‘white girl not looking at you’ it’s the ‘love triangle’ or the ‘white girl looking at white boy who is not paying attention’ variations. Fantasy has is slightly better as you get a mix of crowns, swords, castles and the like thrown in as well.  

I have noticed that Middle Grade novels still mostly have the hand-drawn art but once you move into YA this stops.  Then moving to adult fantasy you get back into the hand-drawn art again.  Why is that?  I find most YA covers boring now because of this.  Perhaps in commissioning art to be drawn for a novel more time is spent thinking about what to display because more time is put into making it.  Perhaps because YA literature is still not seen as real literature publishers do a quick a dirty job at it, whereas with adult literature you need to appeal to picky adults and for Middle grade novels you have to appeal to both children and adults that are most likely to be spending money.  

Others have talked about book covers, in particular about how you can tell if the book is to be marketed for a boy or a girl by the cover, and I feel this issue is a part of the discussion.  Also the lack of diversity of characters help perpetuate the White as Default narrative that we need to get away from.  White is not default.  

5. When authors go on Goodreads and rate and preview their own books.  This might not bug me enough to be a real ‘pet peeve’.  Of course authors will rate their books as 5 stars and they want to do whatever they can to see the book (for good reason, really the publishing industry is a messy place).  But I find it strange and mostly tacky.  To be fair, I have seen one good review by an author of a novel which used gifs to summarize their novel to spark interest, but he didn’t give it a star rating, just summarized the book.    

Obviously most of these pet peeves were about the books or authors and not on what can be found in the pages of the books.  That will come later!  Now back to my current read: Rook by Sharon Cameron.