Book Haul: October 2016

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My October book haul is coming to you a little bit late because I’ve been super busy at work and I’m on a semi-hiatus. By the time you read this post, I will be in sunny California visiting a colleague before I head over to Boston for my work conference. Let’s get into the haul!

BOOK DEPOSITORY

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Half of these books were actually preorders that I made months ago. Everyone We’ve Been, This Adventure Ends, Frost Like Night and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition were all preorders. I also picked up Tales of the Peculiar and Radio Silence, both of which have been on my wishlist for a while. Finally, I was talked into buying the Under the Never Sky trilogy on Twitter.

KINOKUNIYA

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I spent a lot of time in Kinokuniya this month because I was waiting for Blood for Blood to be available. I pretty much went every day to see if they had stock and ended up picking up the other books.

RECEIVED

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I went to Brisbane in October and stayed with Jeann, so naturally I went home with a whole bunch of books to review on Happy Indulgence. I brought home It Looks Like This, Somewhere in Between, Mistletoe & Mr Right and The Pain, My Mother, Sir Tiffy, Cyber Boy & Me. Jeann also gave me the movie tie-in edition of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because I love the trilogy and I’m so happy to have it. I received three books from a friend as a late birthday gift: The Thing About Jellyfish, China Rich Girlfriend and Everything I Never Told You. These were all on my Book Depository wishlist. Metaltown technically wasn’t a ‘received’ book. I got it in my October Fairyloot box so I did purchase it. But I’m also too lazy to put it in its own category. Finally, Pan Macmillan Australia sent me Moon Chosen.

EBOOKS

There was a Harper drop on Edelweiss and I have three books to review for Happy Indulgence: The Upside of Unrequited, The End of Our Story and By Your Side. I bought An Improper Bride because it’s the second part of a story and I needed to know how it ended (only to read it and find out that there’s a third part…). Most of my month was spent reading new adult books because I was in a big reading slump so I kind of became obsessed with Sarina Bowen’s books. Totally waiting for her next release!


Hope you guys had a great month!

Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartless Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: November 8, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Aila @ One Way or an Author
Pages: 464
Goodreads || Book Depository

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favourite series of all time and I was extremely excited to read another retelling by Marissa Meyer. Sadly, Heartless fell way short of my expectations and I hate to say this… but I’m glad that it’s a standalone and that we can move on to bigger and better things.

Heartless is a villain origin story. It’s an Alice in Wonderland reimagining and we follow the Queen of Hearts from my childhood (or young adulthood) into her descent into evilness. Prior to being the Queen of Hearts, Cath was a girl who was not interested in being a society girl and marrying into a wealthy family. All she wanted to do was to open a bakery with her maid and best friend. However, without the approval from her parents and the resources to do so, she’s left with no choice but to enter into a courtship with the King of Hearts. But when she meets the court jester, Jest, they fall in love and begin a secret relationship…

My biggest problem with Heartless was the romance. I didn’t think that Cath and Jest had any chemistry together. I didn’t feel any passion or love between the two of them, which was a really big surprise to me because of how much I love all of the ships in The Lunar Chronicles. It didn’t feel like Marissa Meyer had taken the time to develop the relationship between Cath and Jest, and it just felt extremely forced. In terms of the characters themselves, I didn’t feel like Cath or Jest were particularly interesting characters. Besides Cath being a talented baker, there was nothing about her that stood our and her characterisation just fell flat. I felt similarly about Jest. I was expecting him to be quirky and interesting because he was the court jester but he came across to me as another typical male love interest. There just wasn’t much to the characters in this novel.

I didn’t think that the world building was strong. The world just felt like every other Alice in Wonderland-inspired novel that I’ve ever read. It wasn’t particularly original and there wasn’t a lot of time dedicated to developing it. I was honestly a bit underwhelmed by it. However, I did enjoy the plot of the book and how it fit into the world. I was a bit disappointed with the first half of the book because there was absolutely nothing happening and I found it extremely hard to get into the novel. But I did start to enjoy it more towards the middle of the story when there was a little bit more action. I loved the story of the Jabberwock and the role that it played in the book. That was perhaps my favourite aspect of the novel. The last section of the novel was interesting but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. Knowing that Heartless was a villain origin story ruined the ending for me a little. I knew that Cath would start becoming evil and when she did, I found it to be a bit underwhelming. I thought that it happened too abruptly because one moment she was not evil, and the next she was. I also found the catalyst of the whole thing to be kind of predictable.

Overall, Heartless was not the book that I wanted it to be. It wasn’t exciting enough for me and I thought the characters, the romance and part of the plot were boring and disappointing. However, Marissa Meyer’s writing never disappoints so I still managed to enjoy it.

Blog Tour: Moon Chosen by P.C. Cast

moon-chosen Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Release date: October 25, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 600
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan; but she has cast her duties aside, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival, dominating clan strays across her path, that Mari experiences something she has never felt before…

Now, darkness is coming, and with it, a force, more terrible and destructive than the world has ever seen, leaving Mari to cast the shadows from the earth. By forming a tumultuous alliance with Nik, she must make herself ready. Ready to save her people. Ready to save herself and Nik. Ready to embrace her true destiny…and obliterate the forces that threaten to destroy them all.

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Welcome to my stop on the Moon Chosen blog tour! I will be sharing my thoughts and opinions on this first book in P.C. Cast’s new series. Moon Chosen isn’t really my typical read but I found it quite enjoyable to read. Even though it was a giant book with 600 pages, I read it all in just two days!

Moon Chosen follows our heroine, Mari. She belongs to a clan of Earth Walkers, where her mother is a Moon Woman, who is the most important person of the clan because of her healing abilities. Mari has inherited these abilities but has spent most of her life hiding in secrecy because her father belonged to a rival group. Unsure of what her identity means for her existence in her Earth Walker clan, she has never shown her true self. However, when her clan is attacked by the rival group and things start getting out of control, Mari learns the extent of her powers and begin to embrace who she is.

It’s a little bit difficult explaining the plot of this book because the novel is quite slow-paced and there isn’t really a lot of action. Most of the book is spent setting up the world and getting the reader comfortable with all of the different clans and customs of each clan. I did find the world to be very confusing at the start of the book. It took me over 100 pages to have everything sorted in my mind. There were a lot of characters introduced and I had a hard time putting everything together and figuring out how they all fit into the story. However, I got used to it pretty quickly after that and had no trouble following the story. I found the world to be quite interesting and not like many other worlds that I’ve read before (though admittedly, I am no expert in fantasy worlds). The world felt like a early history kind of world, with clans and tribes and lots of nature and biology. But what I found most interesting was that this was a post-apocalyptic world where all things man-made and technological had been wiped out. Whether it’s post-apocalyptic or not doesn’t really factor into the story but I just thought that that was unexpected and interesting.

While the plot and the story was slow-paced and dragged out, it didn’t bother me too much because the  characters were engaging and I couldn’t help but care about them. I was right with them throughout the book and I loved watching the friendships form and seeing how they interacted with each other. Mari was a character who I wasn’t a big fan of at the start but she grew on me throughout the book and I enjoyed her development into a slightly whiny girl into a caring and independent woman. I loved her kind personality and the lengths she goes to to help others who are not probably not so deserving of her help. I also loved her friendship with Sora, who also grew on me extremely quickly in the novel. I also really liked Nik, the male from Mari’s rival tribe. I wasn’t sure of his intentions at the start and was highly suspicious of him, but he proved to be a character who was also quite easy to love. But of course, one of my favourite characters was Jenna. Yes, simply because she shares my name.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of this novel was the concept of the Companions. Certain tribes in this book have animal allies that are bonded with tribe members. This bond is extremely strong and those who are bonded are tied together for life. If you love reading about animal companions, like Manchee in The Knife of Never Letting Go, you will love Moon Chosen because this series takes it to a whole new level.

Despite really enjoying most aspects of the book, there were a few things that I didn’t like so much. I was not a big fan of the dialogue in this book. At times, it felt very forced and I couldn’t really imagine people talking that way. There were also a lot of instances where characters spoke aloud to themselves and that just seemed a bit strange to me. I also had a bit of a problem with the pacing. While I didn’t mind that the book was very long, I did think that there wasn’t really a climax to this book, so it never really got intense and exciting for me. It just wasn’t as epic as I wanted it to be and I just wanted it to be paced a little bit better. But overall, I enjoyed the book and thought that it was a great read despite some of my problems with it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

pccast PC was born in the Midwest, and grew up being shuttled back-and-forth between Illinois and Oklahoma, which is where she fell in love with Quarter Horses and mythology (at about the same time). After high school, she joined the United States Air Force and began public speaking and writing. After her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a New York Times Best-Selling author and a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers’ Best, and the Laurel Wreath. PC is an experienced teacher and talented speaker. Ms. Cast lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses.

Website || Goodreads || Twitter

Wrap Up: October 2016

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October was a bit of a rough month for me. I was in a bit of a reading slump for most of the month because I had a lot going on outside of blogging. I had a lot of assignments to mark and that sucked the life out of me. I also did a bit of travelling as well, which was quite draining. I went away for a weekend for a friend’s wedding, and I also went to Brisbane to visit my coblogger, Jeann @ Happy Indulgence. It was a lot of fun but it didn’t leave me a lot of time for reading.

I ended up reading a lot of new adult books this month to get me back into reading and to stay on track with my Goodreads reading challenge. I completed my goal of 150 books last month, and decided to increase it to 200 books. Ever since then I’ve been 1-3 books behind but hopefully I’ll be able to catch up soon. I’ll need to get ahead of schedule soon though since I’ll be travelling for two weeks in November and won’t have much time to read. Enough chatter.

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Reading summary header

Books are listed in the order that I read them and reviews are linked.

1. Swarm – Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti  4 stars

Swarm is the second book in the Zeroes trilogy and I inhaled it because it was so fast-paced and action-packed. It continues the story of our group of six Zeroes extremely well and ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you crying for more.

2. Nothing Tastes As Good – Claire Hennessey  4 stars

I love a good issue book and this novel explores body image and eating disorders. It has a very interested concept and I thought it was executed well. I did have some concerns about the first half of the book – there were some things that made me feel very uncomfortable- but all of these concerns were addressed by the end of the book. I do have to say though that it could be triggering for some people, so proceed with care.

3. Replica – Lauren Oliver  4 stars

This was a really interesting read and I have to admit that I was initially interested in this book because of the two books in one format. This is a sci-fi novel that can be read in 4 different ways. I switched perspectives after every chapter, which made for a unique reading experience. I’ve never had to read with two bookmarks before. But looking beyond this cool format, I really enjoyed the story too. I loved how the perspectives worked together and that the story was fast-paced and thrilling.

4. When the Moon was Ours – Anna-Marie McLemore  5 stars

I absolutely loved Anna-Marie McLemore’s debut novel, The Weight of Feathers, and this book was just as good. It has magical realism, racial diversity and sexual diversity. I fell in love with the story and the relationships in the book. Definitely one of my favourite reads of the month.

5. Odd and the Frost Giants – Neil Gaiman  45 stars

I picked up this book because of the beautiful cover and packaging of this book. It’s an interesting middle grade story that has Norse mythology elements. The edition that I read had illustrations by Chris Riddell and they were absolutely stunning. Each page also had some beautiful silver accents. I was in love!

6. An Improper Bride – Nadia Lee  3 stars

An Improper Bride is the sequel to An Improper Deal second part of Annabelle and Elliot’s story. I’ve had issues with Nadia Lee’s recent books because she’s been splitting up her books into multiple parts and releasing them separately. But since I’d already started the first part of this story, An Improper Deal, I decided to pick up An Improper Bride to finish it off… Only to find out that this isn’t the end of the story. There’s a part three! I think I’ll be quitting Nadia Lee after I read that last part when it’s released. I just can’t agree with authors releasing what is one story in multiple parts in order to rake in the cash.

7. Phantom Limbs – Paula Garner  4 stars

I love a good book about grief and Phantom Limbs explores the theme in a light-hearted but impactful manner. It has a great balance of grief, romance and friendship and I enjoyed the plot and the relationships immensely.If you’re looking for a serious read that won’t leave you feeling dark and heavy,  this is the one for you.

8. The Year We Fell Down – Sarina Bowen  35 stars

I saw a recommendations list on Deanna @ A Novel Glimpse‘s blog this month and this book was on it. I don’t read a lot of new adult books but Deanna said she really loved this series so I picked it up. I highly enjoyed The Year We Fell Down because it had two characters with physical disabilities and I’ve never read that in a new adult novel before. I also really liked the romance in the book and the side characters as well.

9. Blood for Blood – Ryan Graudin  5 stars

Blood for Blood was one of my most anticipated books this year. I loooooved Wolf by Wolf last year and I couldn’t wait to pick up this sequel. It was everything that I wanted and more. While it wasn’t as fast-paced as Wolf by Wolf or the prequel novella, Iron to Iron, I really liked the plot of it and all of the twists and turns that it took. My heart was completely broken by the end of the book but it was so completely worth it.

10. Everyone We’ve Been – Sarah Everett  4 stars

This book has a stunning cover and a plot that is pretty amazing too. It’s about first love and identity and I’d recommend it if you’ve watched and enjoyed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At times, there were a few  too many similarities but I did enjoy what the characters brought to the story.

11. The Year We Hid Away – Sarina Bowen  4 stars

This is the second novel in The Ivy Years series. it can be read as a standalone though. I really enjoyed the plot and the romance in this book. I liked that the characters came from different walks of life and I appreciated that the author tried to incorporate different issues into this book.

12. Blonde Date – Sarina Bowen  4 stars

Blonde Date is #2.5 in The Ivy Years series. This is a novella about two side characters from The Year We Hid Away. I thought their romance was really adorable and it was a light and fun read.

13. The Understatement of the Year – Sarina Bowen  45 stars

This is book 3 of The Ivy Years and probably my favourite one of the series. It features a LGBT relationship and is a coming out story. I don’t really have the words to describe why I enjoyed it so much but I really connected with the two main characters and their personal stories.

14. Rat Queens, Vol 1: Sass & Sorcery – Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch  35 stars

I really enjoyed the humour and the action in Rat Queens. It was really sassy and funny and I loved the four main characters that make up the Rat Queens. The plot was enjoyable and the art style was beautiful. It wasn’t the best graphic novel that I’ve ever read but I enjoyed it enough to want to pick up the next volume.

15. The Shameless Hour – Sarina Bowen  35 stars

The Shameless Hour is the fourth book in The Ivy Years series. Again, this one can be read as a standalone. This novel explores slut-shaming and I appreciated what the author was trying to do. I liked the main  characters and enjoyed their romance a lot. It wasn’t my favourite of the series but the writing was very addictive.

16. The Fifteenth Minute – Sarina Bowen  35 stars

This is the last novel in The Ivy Years. I liked the characters in this book but wasn’t as big of a fan of the plot as I was of the other installments. I still enjoyed it immensely though and liked how relatable the characters were.

17. Rookie Move – Sarina Bowen  4 stars

This is the first book in a spin-off series to The Ivy Years. It features a second chance romance, which is one of my favourite romantic tropes! This novel follows a side character that has appeared in multiple books in The Ivy Years and I enjoyed finally being able to read his story.


Thank you for reading. I’m on a semi-hiatus right now but I have a small giveaway running in this post.