Wrap Up: January 2017

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I didn’t really have a great start to the year in terms of reading. I was feeling a bit burnt out after reading 22 books in December to finish off my Goodreads reading challenge. I just needed a bit of a break and as a result didn’t really read as many books as I usually do. But I still managed to read 11 books and I’m happy with that for now.

My Goodreads reading goal for this year is currently set at 100. I’m anticipating that I’ll read more than that but we’ll see how I go for now.

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Reading summary header

1. Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone  4 stars

This novel features a character with OCD and I had some issues with the OCD elements in this book. My full review is linked if you’re interested in my thoughts on that. However, I thought the rest of the book was beautifully written and really sweet and, ultimately, I enjoyed the reading experience.

2. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates  4 stars

I really, really liked this non-fiction book. It’s a collection of essays written in the form of a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son, detailing the struggles of growing up and living as a black person in America. It’s a great book about race and violence and I found it to be impactful and poignant.

3. An Improper Ever After – Nadia Lee  4 stars

This is the third part and conclusion to Elliot and Annabelle’s story that started with An Improper Bride and continued with An Improper Ever After. While I enjoyed this third installment and liked how their story ended, I’m still very disappointed with the author’s choice to split one story into three sections. I’ve said this about Nadia Lee’s recent books many times before, but it just feels like she’s trying to profit more from splitting what could be one book, into three. And this also ruins the reading experience for many readers because of the cliffhangers at the end of Books 1 and 2. Not sure that I’m going to continue to read her books if she continues to do this.

4. Wayfarer – Alexandra Bracken  4 stars

Wayfarer is the sequel to Passenger and I absolutely loved it. I loved being reunited with Nicholas and Etta, and learning about new characters as well. I did have a bit of confusion as I was reading the book but I loved how the duology wrapped up and thought it was a great novel.

5. Windwitch – Susan Dennard  4 stars

Windwitch is the sequel to Truthwitch and I liked them both equally. Windwitch is a little bit less action-packed and is more character-driven, which I didn’t really mind. At times, I wished there was a bit more plot but the character development that we saw in this sequel was absolutely brilliant.

6. Us – Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy  4 stars

Us is a sequel to Him, but could probably be read as a standalone. I really loved Him and didn’t think Us was as good, but I still really enjoyed my read of the novel and being reunited with the characters again.

7. Freeks – Amanda Hocking  35 stars

I am part of the blog tour for this novel and my post, along with a short Q&A will be up on the blog on Sunday. It’s a slightly creepy and eerie carnival story and I thought it was a fast-paced and thrilling read. There were some parts that I wasn’t a big fan of, especially the way that the book ended, but I still thought it was a great read.

8. Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge  3 stars

This is a Beauty and the Beast-inspired story and I found it to be kind of disappointing. I found a lot of it to be very confusing and lacking in plot and I was not a fan of the main character. There was also a strange love triangle going on in the book that I found to be frustrating and, as a whole, I just wasn’t very impressed with Cruel Beauty.

9. Crimson Bound – Rosamund Hodge  35 stars

Crimson Bound is a standalone novel that is loosely inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, and I enjoyed it slightly more than Cruel Beauty. However, most of the problems that I had with Cruel Beauty, I also had with this book. The story felt very dragged out and I absolutely hated the love triangle in this book. I did like the main character but found her to be frustrating at times too.

10. The Billionaire’s Holiday Bride – Nadia Lee  4 stars

This is a novella that should be read after five books in The Pryce Family series. It allows readers to be reunited with the five couples from the books in the series, but also develops the backstory and romance of a different couple from the series at the same time. I really enjoyed it and it brought a smile to my face.

11. Lisette’s Paris Notebook – Catherine Bateson  2 stars

I was not very impressed with this contemporary novel at all. It sounded like a really cute and fluffy story but I found it to be extremely dull and it lacked substance and plot. The main character was frustrating to read about and I found the characters and the writing to be lacklustre.

Review: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

wayfarerPublisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: January 3, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 532
Goodreads || Book Depository

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Wayfarer is the sequel to Passenger, which means that this review may contain spoilers for the first book. Check out my review for Passenger instead, if you haven’t read it yet.

I really enjoyed Passenger when I read it last year and was really looking forward to Wayfarer. It wasn’t really what I expected but I definitely wasn’t disappointed by it either. I did have some issues with the book but those were probably issues that I had because it had been a whole year since I had read Passenger and it took me a while to get used to the world again.

My main issue with the book was that I found the plot to be confusing. I don’t know if it’s because I’d forgotten a lot about the world and the time travel rules, but I had a hard time following what was going on, especially in the first 50 pages. I reread the ending of Passenger to familiarise myself with what had gone down in the first book and that helped a little bit but I still found it difficult to understand some of the time travel logic and the world at the start of the book. This book talks about many different timelines and I found myself really confused for the first 20% of the novel and couldn’t really follow along. It did get better as I progressed through the book though.

The other problem that I had with the plot was that I had no idea where the book was going for the majority of it. We follow Etta and Nicholas through two separate story arcs and I didn’t quite know what to believe because we were being led to believe two different things. The motives of the side characters and key players of the book were unclear and we were deliberately made to be suspicious of everything, which just added to my confusion as to what was happening. It also didn’t help that there were a lot of different parties with vastly different motives and goals. I couldn’t really keep track of who wanted to do what and I just felt a bit overwhelmed and found it to be too much at times. Ultimately, I just went with the flow and decided not to think about it too much and I ended up really enjoying everything that happened and how the story played out anyway.

We are, all of us, on our own journeys…

I loved all of the characters in this book. The characters were all very complex and multidimensional and I really enjoyed that there wasn’t a single one who was purely evil or purely good. I enjoyed reading about each character’s motivations as well as about some of their origins. I loved the new characters that we got to meet in this book, like Julian Ironwood and Henry Hemlock, as well as the old characters that we got to revisit. The character development in this book was also great and I learnt so much about some of the characters that I didn’t really like in Passenger. The character relationships in this book were spectacular and I loved the friendships that were forged in this book as well as the reunion of family. As a huge Etta and Nicholas shipper, I was a bit disappointed that the two characters spent so much of the book apart, but I was pretty happy with how their reunion played out.

I really enjoyed this duology. I’d love to reread the books again because I think it’ll help me understand Wayfarer a little bit better. Despite the confusion and how overwhelmed I felt while reading this book, I highly enjoyed it. It was action-packed and I loved all of the places that the characters time travelled to. It was so much fun and I loved the characters so, so much!

Top Ten Tuesday: All-Time Favourite Book Covers

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Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday post. This is a weekly feature that’s hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is actually ‘All-time favourite books from X genre’ and I was really excited to share my favourites but then I realised that I talk about my favourites all the time and you’re probably sick of hearing about the same books over and over again. I was fully intending to skip this week’s TTT but then inspiration struck when I couldn’t stop raving about how beautifully packaged The Thousandth Floor is. So my topic for today’s list is “all-time favourite book covers”. I also happen to really love all of these books on my list so take this as my list of recommendations!

1. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Since this whole list is inspired by this book, it had to be at the top of my list. I love everything about this cover and how this book is packaged. It has a beautiful smooth texture and a beautiful embossed title. The spine is also amazing and is probably my favourite part of this whole book. The endpapers are also stunning and finally, when you undress the book, the naked hardcover has the title on it in beautiful gold lettering.

2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This is my favourite book of all time and there really isn’t any part of it that I don’t absolutely love. The cover is stunning. I love the colours and that the cover is slightly shimmery. It’s so beautiful!!

3. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

This novel is one of my favourite reads of 2016 so far. I love the colours on the cover, as well as the feathers and the branches. I just think that it’s very beautifully simplistic.

4. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

This cover is just stunning. The illustration of the bird is so detailed and I could spend hours and hours just staring at it and trying to figure it out. I have the Australian paperback edition but I’ve seen the UK hardcover addition and omg it’s BEAUTIFUL.

5. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The picture I’ve included doesn’t do this cover justice. It’s absolutely beautiful in real life and the debossed lines on the cover, as well as on the naked hardback is not only beautiful to the eyes but wonderful to touch. This is my favourite YA novel of all time and I’m so happy that it has an insanely pretty cover too.

6. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

I love not only the illustrations on the cover, which are so stunning and detailed, but also the texture of the cover. I have the hardcover edition and it’s got a wonderful matte cover and I love touching it so much!

7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I love the covers of all three books in this trilogy but I had to mention this one because it’s the first. I think the covers of Hollow City and Library of Souls are really mysterious and unique but this first book just has a really iconic cover. I love that it’s greyscale and that it’s just so peculiar!

8. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

I mean, just look at this cover. Just look at it! The colours are so pretty and there’s nothing that I can say about it that you can’t already see.

9. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

What I love most about this book is the texture of it. The black hole on the cover is stitched and I love feeling the raised bits of thread. I don’t like that it’s not centred but other than that, it’s perfection. I also really love the debossed black hole on the naked hardcover.

10. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

I love the font and the embossed lettering of the title. When I first got this book, I couldn’t stop feeling it. I also really like the bottle and the ship. I just think that it’s a beautifully designed cover!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Music

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. The theme for this week is books and music, so I’ll be listing ten books that feature music.

Just a disclaimer… I haven’t read like half of these books. I’m not really into books that are specifically about music. I’m generally just not a fan of books with a male rocker love interest. But here we go:

1. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner is the companion novel to Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls (Shiver) trilogy. It focuses on Cole and Isabel’s story, and in this book Cole is a musician who’s trying to make it big in LA. I didn’t really enjoy this book very much… purely because I hated the ‘drugs, sex and rock n roll’ elements.

2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia and Adam from If I Stay are both musicians. Mia is a cellist, who’s aiming to become a professional. Adam is part of an up-and-coming rock band. I really enjoyed the relationship between Mia and Adam in this book and they music brought them together even though they were into different genres.

3. You’re the Kind of Girl I Write Songs About by Daniel Herborn

This is an Australian YA debut novel, set in the inner west suburbs of Sydney. Both of the main characters are into their music and Tim is trying to make it as a musician. I wasn’t a huge fan of this book either. It just tried to be too hip and cool with all of these references to obscure bands.

4. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Etta, the protagonist of the book, is a violin virtuoso. She wants to debut as a professional but then finds out that she comes from a family of time travellers. What’s really cool about the time travel in this book, is that it incorporates music into it. Certain musical notes need to be played in order to open up the time travel passages.

5. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Music doesn’t play a huge part in this book but Jem Carstairs plays the violin and I just had to mention him because I love him so much ❤ That violin part in the epilogue KILLED me.

6. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

I read this book about 8 years ago so I don’t really remember how music was involved. I’m pretty sure the male love interest was in a band? Or the main character somehow goes through a healing process because of music?

7. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I started this book when it first came out but I had to put it down because life got really busy… and just never picked it back up. I remember music featuring pretty heavily in the first part of the book that I actually read. Also, they’re sharing earphones on the cover of the US edition, so I assume there’s a lot of music in this book.

8. The Chimes by Anna Smaill

Another book that I haven’t read. I’ve wanted to read this since I first heard about it mid last year. It’s set in a dystopian world where memories and writing don’t exist, and everybody has to rely on music? It sounds super intriguing and I know that the author is a violinist.

9. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

I haven’t read this book either but this whole book is about music. It features a girl who just can’t seem to fit in or make friends, but one day she stumbles upon party and discovers a love for DJing and some new friends who have a love for music.

10. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Haha another book I haven’t read. I know that this book has a lot of musical references and Nick is part of a band. Don’t actually know too much else.


Have you read any of these books and which do you recommend?

 

Review: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release date: January 5, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 496
Goodreads || Book Depository

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Passenger is a scavenger hunt through space and time for a mysterious object that can change history and the world as we know it. In this book, we follow two main characters, Etta and Nicholas. Etta is a violin virtuoso, from present day New York City, who is about to make her debut as a professional violinist. However, she encounters some strange people in a strange situation that causes her to faint and wake up in a time and place that is definitely not present day New York. She crosses paths with Nicholas, a legal pirate from 1776, and together they are forced to find a mysterious item in a mysterious location and time that they need to bring back to a man who seems to control the world. Etta and Nicholas find themselves time travelling to different centuries and locations in search for this mysterious “astrolabe”, while escaping from men who are watching their every move.

I haven’t read very many time travel books and I thought Passenger was a great one. The time travel aspect was so interesting and unlike any other time travelling system that I’ve read before (not that I’ve read very many). There were three things in particular about the time travel in this book that I found to be unique and intriguing:

1. In this novel, time isn’t stagnant. The different timelines work in parallel so that even if you time travel to a different location and year, you still end up in the same day of that year and time continues to move forward. For example, if you found a passage on January 11 from 2016 to a different place in 1900, you would still end up in 1900 on January 11.

2. The second aspect that I found interesting was that you cannot cross paths with yourself, meaning that you can’t go somewhere if you have already been to that place at that time. You cannot rewrite your history in that time and place, and you just get bounced out of that ‘passage’ if you’ve already been there at that point in time.

3. The third thing that I found interesting about this world was the fact that even if you die, you still exist in future years, if you’ve been there before. So if you existed in 2016, but you travelled back to Paris, 1790 and died during the French Revolution, you would still be alive in 2016?!

The time travel in this book did remind me a little bit of Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series. Etta and Nicholas finding passages and travelling to different locations, while evading people who were after them, reminded me a lot of Jacob and Emma travelling through time loops and escaping from the wights. But ultimately, the worlds were different enough for me to separate the two.

Besides the time travelling, I really enjoyed the historical fiction aspect of this book. Even though this is a book about time travel, it definitely leans more historical than it does sci-fi. The book only travels to different places in the past, including 18th century in the West Indies, 20th century London, 17th century Cambodia, 19th century Paris and 16th century Damascus. I found the settings of each of these places to be very vivid and I could definitely see myself in all of those places. The book seemed very well researched and it had lots about the customs and culture of those places during those periods.

I loved our two main characters separately and together. I enjoyed that Etta was a violinist and that she could fall back on music during tough times, and use it to calm and centre herself. I loved that she was headstrong, smart and relatable. She handled herself very well and she was never whiny or angry about the situation that she’d been thrown into. She wasn’t flailing around and acting like a fish out of water, which would have really annoyed me. I enjoyed how well she adjusted to her situation and how mature she was about everything. Nicholas was another great character. He was a person of colour and I liked this about his character because it allowed for the exploration of slavery and the marginalisation of people of colour. It was interesting to see how each time period treated those who weren’t white and I thought the book explored this very well. I also liked being able to see the different customs throughout time and how women and men were expected to behave around each other, especially since Etta was white and Nicholas was not.

Etta and Nicholas’s relationship was so beautiful. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to think of it because it started off very insta-lovey. They pretty much fall in love at first sight and it just didn’t seem to be realistic, especially since they’re from vastly different time periods and didn’t really know much about how things worked in their respective time periods. But it became obvious how well-matched the two were. They’re both very smart and, although Nicholas has never had a formal education, it’s obvious from the first time we meet him that he’s knowledgable about many different aspects of life and history. I loved how their relationship developed and all of the qualms they had about being together (which I’ll let you discover for yourself). I just cannot wait to read more about the two of them together.

What I had a problem with (and why I took off one star) was the pace of this book. It was consistently slow, which is completely fine since most historical fiction novels are slow. But I found that the first half of the book had almost nothing happening, with most of the action coming in the second half of the book. I had a hard time getting into the book and it wasn’t until 100 pages in that I started to enjoy the reading experience. Passenger spends about 170 pages setting up the world and the time travel aspect of the book and I thought this set up was too long. I appreciated it more after I had finished reading the book, but in the moment, I was kind of bored and confused. I did think that the second half of the book was stellar and Passenger is definitely worth the read. It just takes a while to get into. The other problem I had with the book was the ending. There were a lot of explanations within a short page span and it felt a little bit info-dumpy. There were some things that came out of the blue in order to set up for the sequel, and I just found myself confused about a few things that were mentioned.

Having said that, the confusion and the excitement that I feel makes me very excited for the sequel in this duology, Wayfarer. Passenger has a really unique time travel aspect and a great set of characters that I cannot wait to explore further.