The beginning of the end

There is still a week to go, but the year is almost over and I’m calling it already.

Farewell 2016…

Welcome 2017!

And, unlike last year, this year’s goal was achieved ahead of schedule. Something that still make me smile everytime I think back on it.

While I was going over the whole of the books crossed out of The List, I realized that the first days of 2016 caught me with a half-read book that had to be put down in account to lack of reading time. Just as the end of the year will see me.

Talk about going full circle!

It might all be a strange coincidence, but I’m inclined to think that it has something to do with winter always being the busy season (and not just with work).

Last year’s unfinished book, The Witch’s Daughter, remains so… Not having made it back to the To-read List… Which doesn’t bode well for this year’s Graceling and Truthwitch, that I’m supposed to be reading right now (but can’t really remember how the characters got to where they are).

I’m sure, like me, you have more than one reason why you’d put down a book. But…

…does it make you feel as guilty as it makes me feeling?

Anyhow… I’m still quite proud of myself, regardless of unfinished books. Now I can honestly say that those who read less than five books in a year, are simply not interested in reading. I mean, just check it out!

Books read 2016

It all added up to almost 40 books this year. And I feel a step closer to being ready to take the Goodreads Challenge.

Maybe in a couple of years.

NSFW 

4/5

Specimen by Shay Savage

Definitely not appropriate for reading in public, specially if you’re like me and it requires effort and concentration to keep what goes through your head to show on your face.

Specimen by Shay Savage

Specimen by Shay Savage

I did enjoy it, though. Besides the hot and detailed sex descriptions, there is also a good story being told. There are super soldiers, and brain-machine interfaces, mad scientist experimenting with human beings, and all a bunch of stuff that can be considered immoral, but it is not because it happens in a post-disaster world.

It kind of made me think about all the things we would be willing to do to eachother as humans when survival is the immediate goal. I imagine we wouldn’t be so “civilized” then…

I also like the ending of this story. It took a moment to let it settle, but I honestly think it couldn’t have gone any other way. And it wasn’t even that surprising with the pace and direction of the book. It did feel a little sad, though.

But I won’t spoil it for you. Let me just say that it took me back to when I read 1984 by George Orwell. That’s all I’m saying.

Current goal: Cake.

4/5
Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

As you know, I’m a fan of Shay Savage‘s books. To me, they are like a good scoop of sorbet. Delicious, refreshing and excellent to cleanse my mind from all stories and free it for new stories.

It is not uncommon for me to get stuck on a story. Sometimes, even when I didn’t really enjoy the, that much, little pieces of moments get replayed over and over in my head. Sometimes, I even dream about them for days in a row… And even when that doesn’t happen, I feel like little left over residues of old stories and plots get smeared in my mind everytime I read a new book.

Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

Win Some, Lose Some by Shay Savage

But there are these ones… these stories… that take everything else out of my mind as I go trough them. Like washing the blackboard before using it again. Win Some, Lose Some felt like that.

Of course, that is NOT to say that I didn’t enjoy it for itself. This is the only book I have ever read with a main character with autism. I think that makes it special.

Matthew Rohan is a very smart young man, to whom very sad things have happened, but all that on top of his social deficits, are not really what defines all that he is… And I think that’s the main thing we all most always remember. Our differences, be these what they’d be, are not what defines us as people… Our actions do.

But this is not the only reason I liked this book, it is also lovely. The budding relationship between Matthew and Mayra, the bond between siblings that Matthew enjoys with his sister even when they both have their own issues, and even the glimpses we get of all other relationships between many characters… I thought it was all simply lovely.

This was a heartwarming reading, even win the sad and dramatic bits.

But, hey! There’s a reason why I like Shay Savage‘s books so much.

Oldies but goodies

Have I mentioned before that I have terrible memory? I’m sure I have. I must have.

I haven’t? Well, let me mention it now…

I have a terribly bad memory.

Of course, that trait really isn’t conductive to reading different books in a series with long waiting periods in between.

It didn’t help with reading The Queen of the Damned, either.

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

It has been years since I read this series, and there were a lot of things that I wished I remembered better.

Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. It made me feel quite nostalgic, and reminded me that the reasons I love some books are varied.

While I can come to love a writer’s style and way with words and worlds, it is also possible and common occurrence with me to love a book simply by the originality of its ideas.

The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice falls under the second category. I think Rice‘s style of writing is sometimes a bit slow in comparison to other more recent authors, but the mythology she created about the origin of the vampires and The Legend of the Twins is one of my favorites.

There are very few things that can beat an original point of view… at least as far as I’m concerned.

Now, this series is a very long one, and I stopped at the third book back then when I first took it up. I don’t know if I will ever finish it, but I keep feeling like this book is the perfect stopping point. I might hold it for a few more years.

Nameless is my price

5/5

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

OH MY GOD!

This book was amazing!! I have no words for how much I’m absolutely in-love. I was at the edge of my sit during the whole thing, there was no good moment to stop or even breathe!

Queen Aelin Ashryver Galathynious spent the whole 700 pages going for one betrayal to a disaster to an ambush, to another betrayal and ambush. It was insane! I LOVED IT!!

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms is the fifth installment in the Throne of Glass series, so there is a lot happening that relates and/or recounts what has been happening since the beginning. And this one has way more explanations about how all those things merge together. So there were many times I felt like I should be re-reading all the previous books to freshen up my memory about the details.

I also think I waited to long to read Asassin’s Blade. There were a few new character that I felt I should know already, and many more that I think we’re mentioned lightly before hand.

But all of that, didn’t matter. The story was awesome! Simply mind-blowing.

Land not just because of all the magic and battles, but also for all the scheming and surprising turns of events. Then, of course, there was a couple of sexy times and a lot of built-up.

The next book -that still has no name- better be as good. I think better is impossible, but I wouldn’t discourage Sarah J. Maas for trying,

The downside? The wait for the conclusion of the story is going to be a year.

A WHOLE year!

War, heartbreak and friendship

3/5

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

While there not as many little action sequences as in the previous one, this one did have more mass violence and strategy. It felt more like a book about war, almost as if I were back at college reading about all the disturbingly creative ways people have devised over the centuries to systematically kill each other.

The Last Four Things does take the massacre and disturbing imagery farther than The Left Hand of God did. There were some people being blown to pieces, bolts raining down from the sky to kill dozens, and most gruesome of all, the almost complete annihilation of an entire envoy of women and children for the sake of making a point.

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman

It never reaches the disgustingly gory level, if only for the couple of times we…

reserve the right to look away

…instead of going into detail about the most horrendous war crimes that are talked about. Because that’s what it all feels like… a series if hideous and unnecessary war crimes.

That is to say, this is most assuredly not an uplifting read. And it is definitely not for everyone. It has many religious reference that could easily be offensive for some and a heavy handed criticism of many things… from holy war and the politics withing religious institutions, to the decision-making processes of all kinds politicians or leaders and the easily swayed loyalties of people.

One of the positive things that come from all the killing and betrayal, is the seemingly reluctant friendship between two of these kids that have survived the grueling upbringing of abusive monks seeking to make ruthless soldiers out of children, Thomas Cale and Vague Henri.

They mostly don’t agree with each other’s choices and decisively tell one another all that’s wrong with their actions… but continue to follow each other to the origin of their traumas, to war, to perilous travels, and even to the middle of potentially treacherous political alliances.

What better kind of friends? Even when they keep on saying that…

“He’s not that much of a friend”

Everything seems more depressing and more uncertain after finishing the second book, so I will surely read the last one, The Beating of his Wings, if not right away.

The Claw, the Wing and the Smoke

2/5

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

After a painful beginning, the middle has ok. It wasn’t until two thirds of the way in that things started to get exciting, and then it was over.

I was honestly, quite disappointed with this books. After The Shadow Queen, and in between chapter of Dark Triumph, the introduction of the characters felt way too slow, and annoyingly meaningless.

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

There were people and events that were only talked about, but never fully explained nor recounted. I think adding characters or happening to a story, when these don’t affect or have any bearing I the plot is a waste of book pages; and this was specially true for Silver in the Blood. 

The idea behind all the parts and details I didn’t like, was quite intriguing. Two girls who come face to face with a family legacy that they were completely unaware of, and a ruthless grandmother who rules the family clan as it were a cult… It could have been an awesome book.

But, it wasn’t.

SPOILER ALERT

The shy and self-conscious girl finds herself with knowledge of her new power, but the strong willed one just crumbles? That felt weird. And then, just when you think she’s gone pull out of it whe her situation gets a bit more dire… She gets all meek and catatonic?

It wasn’t until the last moment when we got to see Dacia finally own up to her new power and status within he wolf pack, but by then, LouLou was now the week one.

And then! That so called confrontation with their grandmothers! That was totally disappointing. Inspected more backbone and maybe for the two girls to bring the family together. The fact that Grandmother dearest got to get away with half the family made everything else feel meaningless.

Seriously. There were many things I didn’t enjoy about this book, I could rant for a long time.

Success!!

cool

Look at me! Look at me!! I made it! I reached this year’s goal and it’s not even October yet!!

After last year’s unaccomplished goals, it feels really good to check this out of my yearly checklist. It makes me feel very proud of myself, to accomplish something ahead of time (something that doesn’t usually happen with me), even when it most likely means I neglected many other things to spend much of my time reading.

I will ignore all those things that seem to be dragging on and be permanently etched into my to-do list while remain ignored… and will focus on thisfw1 one thing that I can feel good with myself about.

I did it! I read more book this year than last year!!

Of course. The reading must go on… even if that makes next year’s goal potentially more difficult (not that I’ve decided already what that’ll be), and we’ll see how things look when the year is over and the final count is in.

In the meanwhile… I’ll congratulate myself by adding something extra to this month’s book budget.

To the sky and back

5/5

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

It’s been a while since I read a book like this one. One that I simply couldn’t put down.

Work get me from going past the first page for most of the week, but by Thursday I was finally able really get into int. And after that, I just couldn’t stop. I even managed to squeeze in some pages while at work, between appointments…

It was a great story, with a fast pace plot that doesn’t feel rushed or tiring. There’s lost of magic, some comedy and some heart break. There’s even dragons!! DRAGONS!! I mean… If someone had told me there would be dragons, I would have gotten to this book a long time ago.

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

People that turn into dragons, to be specific, but they were great. The idea that this being can have two hearts that beat together in their chests (one for their dragon instincts and thirst fro violence, and one for their human natures and their ability to feel things like love or mercy) was one of my favorites. I think it added an extra layer of complexity to this characters that was delightful. I DO wish we could have gotten to know the people of Eldr better, the Draconi, but I understand the story was about Lorelai Diererich.

SPOILER ALERT

I did find the death of Lorelai‘s brother, Leo, to be terribly sad, and the sudden disappearance of the Eldr King‘s uber-loyal friends/guards and then their equally sudden re-appearance felt slightly weird and empty. I think a couple of chapter from their point of view would’ve been good, but again, I understand this was not a story about the Eldrians. Maybe it should have been.

At the beginning we are introduced to all this characters… the Draconi princess, the Master military trainer and royal adviser… and the problems the Eldrian crown faces. But by the time we get to the last page, everything over there has been solved and we got no clear answer as to how, what really happened or how did all these character fared. That, I didn’t like.

But, if you ignore that, everything else was amazing. The strong princess that can climb trees and crumble mountains. How cool is that!! My favorite thing however was the falcon pet. She has a mental link with the magic wielding princess and her thoughts are simply the best part of the whole book in my opinion.  What better thing that a pet that can talk to you in your mind to offers you eating advise?

“Mouse? Rabbit?”

In short, I loved it, will add it to my list of favorite books and would absolutely love to know more about this. Maybe C.J. Redwine should consider writing a book all about the Eldrians.

Unexpected horrors

3/5

Commodity by Shay Savage

 

I don’t think it is possible to Love this book. It has nothing to do with either the writing nor the plot, it is just the content. How can you possibly love a book about human trafficking, rape and world-wide extermination?!

It was a hard read the first time around, I don’t think I would be up for reading it again in a very very long time… If ever.

Commodity by Shay Savage

Commodity by Shay Savage

I have to say I was grateful for the mid-book time leap that we get between part 1 and 2. I’m not always a fan of time voids or jumps that happen in he middle of the action part of the story, or that leave you hanging with out knowing the fate of one of the main characters, but this time I seriously appreciate not having to witness the horrors Hannah had to endure, from her own perspective. I think that would have just made the whole thing unreadable.

All in all, it was not that far from what I’ve come to expect from Shay Savage. She always delivers some heart-wrenching stuff just when you were hoping things would get better.

I did have a problem with the Alien part of this story, thou… If it weren’t because it was alluded  to in the introduction, it would have felt completely forced…

Specially that last encounter Falk has with them, that turns out not to be the first one he has!

It felt like a last minute addition to me that didn’t quite flow right, but I guess some kind of explanation had to be given for the almost extermination of the whole human  race… Right?

Maybe it would’ve been better for it to remain a mystery to just speculation.

 

Closure

2/5

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

I really didn’t like that ending. It simply felt anticlimactic.

I understand it. Really, I do. This is a book about grief and self-discovery, but I really didn’t like that ending.

It all started good and exciting. The mystery of the Runaway Aunt, the meaningful task that were meant to actually teach her something…

… But then, it all started to go downhill.

It did feel realistic, thou. All trips have a certain amount of failed expectations, and you had to consider that this one was planned by a reckless woman that was in fact already dead… So, of course, things had to fall through some.

By the end, it was exhausting and all I wanted was to get to the end of the tasks… Give the whole thing a sense of closure… And be done with it. But then…

SPOILER ALERT
13envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

… The whole buch of envelopes get stolen. And we don’t get to discover what was it that the Aunt Peg really wanted from Ginny.

Of course, that too feel tremendously realistic… Getting your stuff stolen is kind of a rite of passage when it comes to international travel. One of those thing that you simply have to go through. But I think this book needed a bit less realism. At least for my taste.

It would have been more emotionally satisfying to have Virginia go through has all envelopes, even if the tasks fell through or even if she decided to not mod them.

The not knowing is what bothered me the most. This were her beloved aunt’s last words to her, and now they are lost forever. It’s just downright depressing.

Be still my heart

5/5

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I absolutely loved this story. It was amazing, and it will go directly to my Favorite books of all time list. I’ll even start searching for a print hardcover version to own, simply for the pleasure of owning it. I was that amazed and enamored of it.

And it wasn’t just the dragons!

I love dragons.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

There’s no way around that. Most of the times, the simple promise of dragons can drag me to any movie, make watch any TV series and read pretty much any book. And, yes, that was the main reason why I decided to read Seraphina. But I will re-read it and re-read it for many more reasons than that.

Like, for example, I finally found a sane and reasonable example of a girls falling in love with a guy in the middle of a battle for her life. Who would have thought it was possible!? This sounded totally plausible and even somewhat unavoidable. She doesn’t waste pages and pages rambling about his beauty or perfection, or thinking of way to escape everything with him. This felt more like a completely unexpected and painful experience that she loathes but, at the same time, cannot stop.

SPOILER ALERT!

She gets to know him in the mist of all the adversities, and to her utter horror, she trips into love with him. After all, how can you not love a honorable and dedicated man who just wants justice and who appreciates you intelligence and opinions¡?! That sounds like a wonderful specimen that even i would brave dragons for.

And the best part? They go about it with total levelheadedness. She doesn’t throw herself at him recklessly, nor try to move him away from his duties or responsibilities. She takes is from the begging like an unattainable thing. Because, how can you ask that kind of man to betray everything he believes on for love?! Can he be the man you love if he agrees?! Honestly I loved him, too. Prince Lucian Kiggenstane is my newest book crush.

Shadow Sale by Rachel Hartman

Shadow Sale by Rachel Hartman

And then there were the dragons. I loved those too! My second favorite dragons of all times. My very favorite is still Eragon‘s Saphira, but these came a very close second. The idea of this ancient and mighty creatures taking human shape just to be able to understand us and all the blundering the come to when they’re faced with feelings. Feelings! Can you believe that, of all things, would be the most puzzling thing about mankind?! Of course, some weird way, it all completely makes sense.

Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything I can really say (or write) that can accurately tell how much I loved this book. So much so, that I’m not daring to stop and already started loading the sequel, Shadow Scale, and will be starting on it as soon as possible.

As luck would have it, today is the day I actually go back to the full on hectic schedule that I had before summer’s respite, but I won’t let that stop me. Sleeping is overrated, after all! Maybe I can even bring in my headphones and keep with my audiobook in the shower…

 

Big guns and corruption

What the hell

Killing Floor by Lee Child

I have to say that I’m very, highly, so disappointed.

This book was not what I expected, not at all. But, you know, I could have lived with that. I didn’t need a super detective that could have the crime solved in a matter of pages. That would have made for a very short book. But this was such a slow slow thing, it became tedious.

The descriptions were insane. Of course, you can always appreciate a good description, it gets you into the correct frame of mind, it can help immerse you into this world and help you see everything from the point of view of the main character… until you get descriptions of things that seem (and end up) being useless or irrelevant,or when you get to hear the same descriptions over and over again.

Killing Floor by Lee Child

Killing Floor by Lee Child

On top of everything else, I found Killing Floor to be absolutely predictable. I knew who were the bad guys by the end of the first chapter, and what was going on by the time I was half way through. There was no mystery to this crime. We had more than one investigator/detective working the thing, and it felt like they all lacked imagination. I don’t know if it is because this is an old book, or because I have watch very very much crime-solving TV, but I felt like all those smart experience investigators missed the point until it was smashed on their faces.

Then, there was the ending. It was crazily out of proportion. I mean, they almost blew up the town! There were roof flying off and buildings leveled out. How crazy can you get? And then it all felt kind of patched up.

Like someone said: “Well, no. You cannot blew up some building, no matter how insignificant the town, and expect nothing to happen”. So they had to send in all the cavalierly. All those guys that weren’t paying one bit of attention while a government official was suspiciously murdered while conducting a very sensitive investigation.

It was absurd.

I really, really didn’t like it… but I always feel guilty about saying that a book is bad. I rather not. Some books are just not for me, and Killing Floor is just one of those. I guess I will have to stick to the Jack Reacher movies.

Half-demons

What the hell

Stained by Ella James

This was a relatively short story, which I picked just for the author.

I didn’t like it at all. And the worst part it wasn’t even about the story itself, but about the telling. The whole thing felt as if I were missing something. I would’ve been sure someone took pages out of my book if it weren’t an eBook.

Stained by Ella James

Stained by Ella James

I spent most of the time trying to catch up with what was happening, and absolutely confused with the timing. From the very beginning I felt like I started reading the story midway, and had to go online to make sure I had the first book in the series and I was not missing part of the story by mistake.

Sometimes I felt like we jumped forward too fast, and I missed half the interactions, specially when the feel of the relationship between the two main characters changed too quickly. One moment they were strangers and the next they are BFFs, then suddenly something seems to be going on out of nowhere and then they are not talking to eachother. And for no reason, they are a couple. It was insane.

And that is saying nothing about the plot. I have no idea who this Julia is, even when she’s suppose to be the main character. I have no problem with a story full of mysteries and unknown enemies, but when you’re not even sure who your main character is, it all gets way too weird and confusing.

For what I can gather, there are some kind of half-demons hunting this girl for unknown reasons that may have something to do with a weird birthmark she has. But there are also others that are looking for her and may or may not have evil intentions.

Then there was the guy, he might or might not be evil. He has powers, and might at someplint been in the same team as the bad guys.

Honestly, it was bad. Totally consuming and weird, and not in a good way. There are two more books (I think) to this series, but no… Hell, no…. I will not be reading those.

If you are interested, check out my page  …when they come in a bunch for this and other book series.

Cliffhanger

3/5

Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Serial killers.

Who doesn’t enjoy stories about serial killers?

I do. Does that make me weird?

Without wanting to get too much into how old I am, let me tell you that I used to watch -and love- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And this book series is starting to feel like that. Every book a new episode. Including the post-conclusion chapter that only gives you a taste os what is to come without any details to tie you over. All designed to make you read the next book, I’m sure.

I did feel more repetition of previous books facts, but that could be because I read this one right after the previous one without any pause nor delay. We did get more information about Alex Craft and her childhood and origins, but for every new thing we learn, 20 more questions pop up. There is so much mystery and confusion around her father and his motives that it’s becoming a bit of a drag, and the no-progress is driving me a bit nuts.

Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Grave Memory by Kalayna Price

Another thing that’s starting to worry me, is all the leftover bits. There are a few facts and events from  Grave Witch and Grave Dance that seem to have been neglected or happened for no reason. I really hope I’m wrong and the author is planning to collect all those bits and pieces that Alex seems to be forgetting and use them in a creative way further down the story line. Otherwise I’ll be seriously disappointed.

Things are getting more and more dicey with Alex‘s personal life and that, I think, makes the story more interesting… if not taken too far. I don’t think I would enjoy if the next book focuses too much in her romantic woes instead of all the crime and social/political issues popping up around her. I mean… her city is in the verge of chaos! and her father playing a very unknown and convoluted political game around her! And her friendships are going through a rough patch. I think all that needs to be more important than the two boys vying for her attentions..

But I guess there’s nothing but wait and see.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to the fourth book of this series, Grave Visions, but I’ll keep you posted.