I DARE YOU Book Tag!

Posted August 9, 2018 by A Conjuring of Lit in Book Love / 0 Comments

In honor of National Book Lovers Day, we wanted to share some random reading and bookish facts with you! And we’re off!

1. What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Kate: In terms of books I actively read/still read/have any intention of reading in the future, probably my paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’ve had it since ‘99. I have a bunch of my childhood board books, but I don’t think those count for some reason.

Paige: My original HP #1 book was lost in a break-up (I am definitely a lot more stingy about who I lend things out to now), otherwise that would totally be my answer. I’ll have to give second runner up to my Chamber of Secrets hardcover, because it is my oldest original copy. I still have all the other original HP books that I read as they came out. Nostalgia!

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

Kate: Lololololol I read many things at once.
Current: Sky In the Deep – buddy read w/ Paige, Inheritance audiobook, and The Diviners on my Kindle. There are others, but those are the only ones I’m actively reading. Post-wedding energy slump is REAL.
Last read was Heart of Iron
I absolutely must read Godsgrave next, or I might die.

Paige: My current reads according to Goodreads are Tower of Dawn (I am trying!), Sky in the Deep (going so quickly!), Down Among the Sticks and Bones (audiobook read by the author!), and Shadow of the Fox (eARC #blessed)
If my friend Mike is reading this, I’m totally starting The Way of Kings next. In all reality, I’m hoping to either read Obsidio or one of my subscription box books next. Maybe Ash Princess?

3. What book did everyone like but you hated?

Kate: Caraval. I couldn’t even finish it. I had a very negative, very powerful reaction to it. It still makes me angry to think about, and I picked it up the week it was released.

Paige: I also hate Caraval. Don’t @ me.I also hate The Magicians trilogy. I wish I would have had a physical copy of the second one so I could throw it against a wall. I almost finished it, got disgusted, and I refuse to try again.

4. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Kate: Probably Outlander. I’m genuinely interested, but there are so many other series full of giant books that are a greater priority to me.

Paige: Oh this is really hard. Currently it FEELS like I won’t ever get to the Wheel of Time books because I’m drowning, but I really really really do want to.
Kate: I’m stealing hers. I’ve been ⅓ of the way through the fourth one for almost four years now.

5. What book are you saving for retirement?

Kate: Anything written by someone with a Russian surname. I was an English major and read my fair share of hefty translations in college, but I tend to save my giant reads for things from the fantasy section these days.

Paige: At this point, the next Game of Thrones books. I’ll have to reread them because it has been so long, and it was a LONG couple of months when I binged the first 5 the first time.

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?

Kate: I’m about 50/50. Sometimes I look because I’m bored, sometimes because I’m excited, and sometimes because I’m just curious. Other times it becomes a personal challenge not to for the same reasons.

Paige: I don’t ever feel tempted to read the last page, but I DO struggle when the last paragraph of a tense chapter is on the right hand side of the book. I have to try really hard to not look at the last sentence and see how angsty things are gonna be.

7. Acknowledgment: waste of paper and ink or interesting aside?

Kate: I tend to really enjoy them. Not a fan of when they take up more than a page or two, though.

Paige: I’ll be honest, I don’t tend to read them unless I feel some sort of connection with the author as a person.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Kate: Feyre. No contest.

Paige: Rude answer-stealing Hobbitses (Ha!)…More realistically, I’ll go with Cath from Fangirl. I wouldn’t survive Feyre’s life, but I could definitely be okay with being a successful writer with an adorable boyfriend.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (place, time, person, etc.)

Kate: I have a few, and most of them are dumb. My personal favorite is actually Twilight, not because of the book, but because of the traditions a group of friends from high school had surrounding the book. We read better ones, but Twilight started it all.

Yes, we did a Twilight themed photo shoot in homemade Twilight puffy paint t-shirts. We were cool.

Paige: Dune, and just hear me out. This was the first book my husband gave me as a gift (he also got me The Killing Joke), and I also got him a really beautiful copy as a gift on our wedding day.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

Kate: I feel like I’ve had them thrown at me, but I can’t think of an example right now. I really don’t know. I tend to just buy them on a whim.

Paige: I acquired a signed copy of Taggerung by Brian Jacques in the regular section of a Half Price Books in Cincinnati. I didn’t realize it was signed until I got home. $8 well spent!

11. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

Kate: Not that I can remember. I’ve given countless gifts that include books, but I rarely give them away. I become emotionally attached to them, and I don’t think I could ever handle that. The most meaningful book gift I’ve ever given was probably to my niece for her 10th birthday. We gave her both the book and movie of Matilda, and her card said reminded her to “always remember she has magic inside her.”

Paige: Aside from my above story about Dune, I gave my grandmother copies of My Side of the Mountain and The Far Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George because she had introduced them to me when I was young, and her memory was starting to fail her. I was so pleased when she opened them and her eyes lit up with the memory. I have the copies myself now that they are gone, and I cherish them.

12. Which book has been with you the most places?

Kate: This is the hardest for me to answer for some reason. Probably The Five People You Meet In Heaven. I haven’t actually taken it that many places, but I bought it in Germany, and it’s message about empathy is something I think about A LOT. I’ve only read it once, but it’s stuck with me for a long time.

Paige: The Secret Garden! I’ve taken a copy to Texas, bought a copy in Michigan, and had one in my carry-on when I went to Europe.

13. Any required reading you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Kate: The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington. My junior year of high school, my English teacher tried to squeeze this one in during the last 10 days of the year. It was not well-received by the students, and between end of year craziness and AP testing, he didn’t really have time to teach it. But I picked it up randomly in college, and I actually really enjoyed it. I still have it 11 years later.

Paige: I’m pretty set in my ways about my hatred of things I read in high school. No regrets. My school sucked.

14. Used or brand new?

Kate: Either! I probably prefer new, but I can’t turn down a good bargain, especially if the book’s in decent shape.

Paige: As long as it is in really good condition (cuz I’m a snob), I am happy with either.

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Kate: I have. It was fine.

Paige: I was really into them for a little while, and then it was like a switch flipped in my brain and I was over it.

16. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Kate: See above question haha

Paige: The Shawshank Redemption. Stephen King seems to be a fun person (mostly his dog), but his writing isn’t really for me.

17. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Kate: I read cookbooks for fun, so this is PERFECT for me. Share by Chris Santos made my mouth water. It’s a whole cookbook full of small plates and shareable cocktails and I just wanted to invite my friends over and make it all. SO GOOD.

Paige: If you don’t get hungry reading Redwall feast scenes, you’re a cop.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Kate: Since Paige is a copout, I’ll go with either Rachel or Lisa. One’s a friend from college, the other is in those beautiful Twilight themed pictures up there, and they both have exquisite taste.

Paige: I also swear by Rachel’s recommendations! I also really like a lot of Booktubers for their recs, and my first favorite creator ever is Sam from Thoughts On Tomes.

19. Is there a book out of your comfort zone that you ended up loving?

Kate: How to Buy a Love of Reading. I picked it up from the library before a family road trip, which is perplexing, because it’s contemporary, the description paints it as much more fluffy than it actually is, and it has one of those hand drawn covers that usually makes me crazy. But I devoured it. I went out and bought a copy when I got home, and it’s still on my shelf.

Paige: The Name of the Wind for sure. At the time, I was pretty daunted by giant adult fantasy novels. I am now madly, madly in love with the book. It is a masterpiece.

*****

Whew! That was fun. Let us know your answers in the comments!

Happy reading!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Monthly Wrap-Up: July 2018

Posted July 31, 2018 by Paige in Reviews / 0 Comments

Welcome to the end of July everyone! It’s Harry Potter’s birthday, it’s my brother’s birthday, and it’s also time for my first ever monthly reading wrap-up! Kate will be joining in these shenanigans in future months, but she’s had maybe the busiest July ever (one of her awesome friends got married out of state, and she is getting married herself this weekend. SEND GOOD VIBES HER WAY!) So here are all of the books I read this month, along with a few of my thoughts and general ratings for them.

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch- This was a failed buddy read with my friend Mike, and by that I mean I could NOT keep up with him. He’s actually already finished with the 3rd book in the series, but I totally don’t blame him. This book was PHENOMENAL. Scott Lynch weaves such a beautiful braided narrative where I truly don’t know what’s going to happen next. Locke and Jean are one of my favorite brOTPs of all time, and I am infinitely entertained by their antics. This is the second book in a series (the first is The Lies of Locke Lamora) featuring orphans, thieves, con-men, and general fuckery. I highly recommend picking up the first book. FIVE STARS

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows – This was an audio read for Tome Topple, and I really had no idea what it was going to be like before I got to it. I knew My Plain Jane was coming in my July Owlcrate box, so I decided to get a taste of what was to come. Ultimately, I’m currently at about a 3.5 star rating because I can understand why some people enjoy it, but it really isn’t for me. I definitely appreciated the audio version more than I think I would have enjoyed the print version. This was basically a retelling of the story of Lady Jane Grey, but with magical shapeshifters and a complete alternate history, told with humor. It sounds cool, but it ultimately didn’t jive with me.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee- HOLY CRAP. I loved this book, and it is a classic example of me wondering why I took so long to read something. I read this in two days, and I regret nothing. Our main character Monty is the ridiculously charismatic bi character I never knew I always needed to read about. Monty and his best friend Percy are about to go on tour before Percy goes off to school and Monty takes over learning how to manage his father’s estate, and hijinks absolutely ensue. I absolutely adore Monty, Percy, and Monty’s sister Felicity (who will make an appearance later on in this wrap-up!), and I was heartsick while I was rooting for Monty and Percy’s love. I definitely was thrown for a loop near the end, but ultimately it was exactly what my little heart wanted. 4.5 stars!

Renegades by Marissa Meyer- Oh man. Okay. Let me start off by saying this book is fine, and I will absolutely be continuing with the series. That being said, I was so disappointed. If I hadn’t been buddy-reading this with Kate for Tome Topple, I probably would have set it aside. I absolutely adore Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Heartless, so I was absolutely amped to read a story she wrote about superheroes and villains and what happens after society collapses and needs to be built back up. Sadly, I absolutely did not connect with a single character, and that is the easiest way to get me to stop caring. Our main character, Nova, was never gray enough for me. The plot didn’t drive forward enough for me. But goddammit, did that ending shock the crap out of me. Probably about a 3.5 stars, but I’m kinda wishy-washy about that.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – You guys. This book…I cannot handle it. While I was reading it, I had to keep setting it aside for 2-3 minutes and take a breather before I could pick it back up again. My angst and stress meters were off the goddamn charts. I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS SO MUCH. I cannot even begin to pick my favorite. Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, and Matthias are so important to my well-being. This series probably deserves its own gush post just so I can screech about how much I adore them. What the original Grisha trilogy didn’t do for me, this did in SPADES. Since this is the second book in a duology, I once again cannot elaborate too much about my love, but keep an eye out for my thoughts on this duology. Once I can form coherent thoughts again, that is. FIVE HEART-PALPITATING STARS

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – This is one of my favorite books. This was a re-listen to the audio. Jim Dale is flawless. Celia and Marco own my soul. Just…go read this book. It will enchant you.

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart – This is a book that actually comes out today! I got a copy in my June Fairyloot box, and we were fortunate enough to get access to the story early. The book itself is gorgeous. I sped through the story in a couple of days. It was very easy to read, and it definitely gave me hardcore Red Queen vibes. I’m hesitant to recommend this book because it definitely felt foundational. I’m intrigued to see where the story goes from here. I’m hovering around a 3.5 star rating. I recommend checking out Goodreads reviews to get a few more coherent thoughts and investigate the plot.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee- Felicity is back! This October, Felicity Montague gets her own book that takes places after the events of Gentleman’s Guide. We find Felicity living in Edenburgh (swoon), working for a local bakery and trying to find someone to take her on as a student of medicine. This book is a love letter to the struggles women face, especially in traditionally male spaces. There’s also a variety of LGTQ+ representation (I won’t speak exactly to the types of rep because no character specifically states their orientation, so I don’t want my lack of education on the subject to step on the toes of anyone who is Own Voices in this situation. If you can enlighten me more on Felicity and Sim’s rep, please feel free to leave a comment!!!), as well as a Muslim main character. Again, loved this book. Preordered it before I finished it. It comes out this October! 4.5 stars

Leah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli – While I have read up on some criticisms of this book due to a particular line (which I will 100% say put a bad taste in my mouth), I will again leave it up to those more knowledgeable to me to speak about the bisexual representation in this book. What I CAN say is that Leah is a character that grew on me, and I was happy to be inside her head for the duration of my audio listen of this book. I absolutely ADORE Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and I was excited to return to Shady Creek. That being said, PLEASE look up some other reviews for information on (potential) hurtful bisexual representation if that is something that is concerning for you. I have read several reviews that have alluded to a harmful scene. Besides that, 4 stars. I wish there had been a little more plot, but this book read more like a slice of Leah’s life. I’m not totally opposed, but I’m glad I was able to listen to this instead of reading a physical copy. It probably would have been a difficult read.

Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, and Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas – I figured I would talk about all of these together since they are books 3, 4, and 5 in the Throne of Glass series. I will admit, it took me until Heir of Fire (having read the first two books plus the prequel novellas) to finally get into the series, but once I got there, I was totally hooked. Surprise, I’m Sarah J. Maas trash. There’s not much more to say other than I am SO EXCITED for Kingdom of Ash. 5 fangirl take-this-with-a-grain-of-salt stars.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston – Meh. This was an Owlcrate book, and I WANTED to love it. It was an Owlcrate book earlier this year, and we got a gorgeous copy with purple sprayed edges. PURPLE. There are not enough purple books. However, this Anastasia in space retelling just fell flat for me. There were some EGREGIOUS editorial issues, and I ultimately wasn’t that engaged in the story line. I definitely should have been. There is a M/M romance, a rogue AI, and it’s set in space. The premise was really good and should have checked a lot of boxes for me, and it just fell flat on execution. I’ve been waffling for a while because I hate giving reviews on meh books, but I think I’ve settled on 2.5 stars overall.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand- This was a reread for me. I had gotten an advanced copy of this book (and I’ve reviewed it on this blog!), but I hadn’t read a finished copy. I had put a hold on the audio version ages ago, and when it popped up on my Libby app, I decided it was time. I really loved the narrator. It was only one person, but she was talented enough to make it feel like full cast audio. If you’re interested in some more in-depth thoughts, check out my review here!

So there you have it! I read 14 books this month, and I feel like that is pretty solid for me. I’m hoping life will get less crazy and I can tackle even more books in August, especially since I am excited for a TON of fall releases, but my TBR shelf just doesn’t seem to be getting any less crowded. Comment down below to let me know your thoughts on these books if you’ve read any of them. You can also ask me for more elaborate thoughts on books that have piqued your interests. Thanks guys!

Paige

Tags:


Non-Bookish Content: 3 Things Book Tag

Posted July 25, 2018 by A Conjuring of Lit in About Us / 5 Comments

Hey guys! We thought we’d shake things up a little bit today and provide you with a few non-bookish facts about us as a way to give you a little more insider info about the nerdy ladies behind the screen. The original tag was created by Steph, the version of the tag we are using can be found here, and we were inspired by Madalyn at Novel Ink to do this tag for ourselves! Without further ado, here are the questions.

  • Three things we’d never give up

Paige: Dogs and fluffy creatures in general. If I ever develop and allergy or something, I’ll just have to suck it up. My dog Max is my favorite person. Pop punk music, because my middle and high school tastes have fused themselves to my personality, and I will absolutely never grow out of my love for Fall Out Boy. Pokemon games, because I love becoming attached to my little virtual dog-fighters.

Kate: Diet Coke – I already have to give it up 8 hours a day, because I work at one of the licensed promotional distributors for Pepsi. (LIFEBLOOD) That’s more than a person can realistically be asked to give, okay? Leggings – I’m a big believer in personal comforts for both relaxation and motivation. My books – I feel like this one’s self-explanatory.

  • Three Favorite Vegetables

Paige: Mushrooms – sauteed, stuffed, raw, marinated, ANYTHING. Red onions, bonus points if they’re pickled and on top of a bougie sandwich. Peppers of any and all sorts.

Kate: Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Brussels Sprouts – I used to hate all of these things, and then I grew up and learned I was wrong.

  • Three favorite fruits

Paige: Cherries, clementines, and bananaz.

Kate: Honeycrisp apples, strawberries, and cantaloupe. But it has to be a good, flavorful, musky cantaloupe, not one of those flavorless balls of acrid orange water.

  • Three shows I watched faithfully from beginning to end

Paige: Apart from Game of Thrones, there is literally no other show that I KNOW I have seen every episode of. But don’t worry, Kate 100% has me covered.

Kate: *cracks knuckles and stretches* WELL! I guess I’ll just have to tell you about five of mine, because SOMEONE is slacking. Admittedly, some of these are still on, but given that I’ve watched (and rewatched) loyally, I’m counting them anyway. Gilmore Girls is first and foremost in my heart. Always and forever. Except for the new ones – they don’t exist to me. Friends is also near and dear. I’ve watched it several (20, 25, 30ish times – who knows?) in its entirety, despite the fact that it premiered when I was four. I grew up alongside the characters of One Tree Hill, and it’s a show that I still rewatch and am affected by. The other two are, without question Grey’s Anatomy and Cougar Town. And by “without question” I mean they are the first ones that popped into my head, and I’ve since thought about 15 more. I watch A LOT of TV.

  • Three places we want to visit inside the US

Paige: Seattle, because my soul is convinced it belongs in the PNW. New York City, because I feel like there are so many things there that I absolutely must experience. New Orleans, because I want a damn beignet.

Kate: I have three big US trips that I’ve been toying with for some time now. I’d like to take a good 10 days or so for each one and really take the time to explore. I want to go to the PNW and see Seattle and Portland, do a loop through Asheville, Charleston, and Savannah; and finally, I’d like to see New England during fall foliage time, ideally staying in small towns in New Hampshire and Vermont, and finishing up with some delicious seafood on the Maine coast.

  • Three places we want to visit outside the US

Paige: Ireland, because my sister in law has visited twice since I have known her and MY GOD AM I JEALOUS. Also Kate has gone, and she went without me. Rude. The UK! Specifically London, for many of the same deep-seated reasons that I feel the need to visit NYC.

Kate: London and Ireland are great. You should totally do that. And also take me with you so I can go again! My wishlist is ever-changing, but my current top three are Scotland, Norway, and the Czech Republic. That list almost hurt me to write, because I had to cut off so many places.

  • Three things we always have with us

Paige: At least one lip balm, headphones, and some sort of book (I know this is a non-bookish, but this is just real life)

Kate: Phone, book, pen. It’s also rare to find me without my drivers license stashed somewhere on my person or in my immediate vicinity. I’m paranoid about needing it and not being able to find it.

  • Three qualities we like about ourselves

Paige: Especially compared to the version of myself from just a few years ago, I am much more comfortable in my skin. I also pride myself in my sense of humor. I ALSO feel like I am a pretty good friend, but I guess Kate has more of a valid opinion on that than I do.

Kate: She’s great. Either that or I have Stockholm Syndrome, because I invest large amounts of time and energy and silliness with Paige and don’t regret a second of it. As far as what I like about myself, I’d have to go with loyalty, hilariously ironic maternal instincts, and my sense of humor. It’s STUPID, and half the time I’m the only one who thinks I’m funny, but as I get older, I’m okay with that.

  • Three qualities we dislike about ourselves

Paige: I am horrendously impatient. My anxiety issues overall, which can make me scared or irritable or even more impatient or just incredibly sad. Unsubscribe. I also wish I was a couple of inches taller, not for aesthetic reasons, but because I feel like I could reach SO MANY MORE THINGS.

Kate: DANGER WILL ROBINSON! Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of myself, but the help of family, friends, licensed professionals, and sheer force of will, I’m getting there. Impatience is also top of my list – I want things done on my schedule. I also break down, sometimes completely, when plans get messed up. I could do without the little beast in my brain named depression, because it makes just about everything more difficult even when i’m having a great day. And finally, I could have done without gaining all this weight from emotional comfort eating (see point number two) that I now am in a position of having to work with a doctor, nutritionist, and trainer to lose.

  • Three most recent movies we watched

Paige: The Incredibles 2 (liked), Black Panther (LOVED), and Infinity War (can’t speak about this still)  OH GOD HOW DID I FORGET DEADPOOL. So gud. So. So gud. This is four, but Kate reminded me about Deadpool and I can’t take it off.

Kate: Um. I don’t know. The last one I saw in the theater was Deadpool 2. I watched The Greatest Showman and Baywatch on the plane back from Italy. I know I’ve seen movies other than that in the last two months, but I can’t think of them right now.

  • Three books we read and loved in high school

Paige: Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, which makes me sad because he’s a trash can. Twilight, because I was 16 in 2007. The Vampire Academy books for the exact same reason. ASK KATE ABOUT MY SCHOOL’S ADHERENCE TO REQUIRED READING STANDARDS.

Kate: It…wasn’t great…but I’ve learned since then that my high school was overly thorough, so we’ll just leave that one alone. My three favorite books/series in high school were Eragon, Mortal Instruments, and A Great and Terrible Beauty until she made KARTIK TURN INTO A FRIGGIN’ TREE! (You’re a tree) I’m still not over it, and I refuse to apologize for an 11 year old spoiler.

  • Three most often used makeup products

Paige: Ya girl is 99% makeup free because she sucks at it, but if I do wear something, it’s almost always eye related or lipstick.

Kate: I only wear makeup about 25% of the time, but when I do, my go-to products are some kind of blush, the OG Naked Palette by Urban Decay, and Better Than Sex mascara by Too Faced.

  • Three pet peeves

Paige: Generally oblivious people, mostly in the context of my job. It’s a very autonomous research type position, and people can be loud in a quiet space or take up TONS of room where there isn’t any, and it makes me rage. When people “soak” dishes in the sink for days on end and suddenly I’m out of fucking forks. People who are rude to service workers.

Kate: HAVING EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO MAKE AN HONEST EFFORT TO LIVE UP TO YOURSELF. I think this applies to work, family, and friends. If you’re gonna ask for it, you better be willing to give it. People who refuse to move out of the left lane. When other people’s plodding or procrastination affects my schedule.

  • Three things that make us laugh

Paige: Top-notch games of Quiplash with excellent friends. Unexpected jokes from my incredibly mild and dead-pan husband. The interesting ways my cats arrange their bodies and faces.

Kate: Aside from a whole host of things that probably shouldn’t, I’m going to start by stealing Paige’s Quiplash answer. We have hilarious acquaintances. Anything dry or punny even though I pretend to be annoyed. My dog when he misses a jump. (It’s HILARIOUS. Malcolm is v v v talented.)

  • Three things that make us cry

Paige: Sad animal stories. Videos where animals are reunited with their people. When my dog is being painfully adorable. See a theme here?

Kate: I’m a crier, so this one’s tough to narrow down. Top three: seeing my mother cry, that bone-deep exhaustion that hits when you try to take on too much and finally start to let some things go (or maybe that’s just me?), and my grandparents’ birth and death days.

 

So that’s a little bit more about us! Comment down below if you have any more questions, or if you’re also a huge Diet Coke fiend like both of us, or if you read any of these at all and think OH GOD ME TOO I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE! Wanna do this tag yourself? CONSIDER YOURSELF TAGGED! Leave us a link to your tag post or video in the comments. Thank you so much for reading!

Tags:


#TomeTopple Readathon Wrap Up

Posted July 18, 2018 by A Conjuring of Lit in Book Love / 3 Comments

This round of Tome Topple has come to a close, and we’re here to share our successes with you! If you didn’t see our post about this event, it is a 2-week-long readathon that happens a few times a year (depending on how crazy the hosts’ lives are!) where the focus is on reading giant books. Specifically books over 500 pages. As readers of science fiction and fantasy, we have LOTS OF BIG BOOKS, so this readathon was basically tailor-made for us. The five challenges were:

  1. Read more than one tome
  2. Read a graphic novel
  3. Read a tome that is part of a series
  4. Buddy read a tome
  5. Read an adult novel

Were we successful? Let’s find out!

Paige:

I definitely feel like I was successful! I was in a super turbo reading slump in the weeks ahead of the readathon, and I was hoping the challenges and community engagement would motivate me. While I didn’t complete all the challenges or stick completely to my TBR, I did manage to read the equivalent of 2910 pages. HOORAY! I finished:

  • Red Seas Under Red Skies (which I was about halfway through when the readathon started, but fight me)
  • My Lady Jane
  • The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
  • Renegades
  • Crooked Kingdom
  • And The Night Circus!

My Lady Jane and The Night Circus were audiobook reads, while the other 4 were physical books that had been burning a hole in my TBR shelf for quite some time.

Challenges:

  1. Read more than one tome? CHECK (six is more than one, right?)
  2. Read a graphic novel? FAIL
  3. Read a tome that is part of a series? Almost all of my books are/will be part of a series, so CHECK.
  4. Buddy read a tome? CHECK! Kate and I read Renegades together, so be on the lookout of our collaborative thoughts on this book.
  5. Read an adult novel? CHECK! Red Seas and The Night Circus are both adult novels.

I’ll probably be getting into more in-depth thoughts on most of these books, but I will say that my favorite book of the ‘thon was probably Crooked Kingdom (because The Night Circus wins forever and it feels unfair to pick it, and CK was giving me heart palpitations). My least favorite was sadly our buddy read of Renegades, but I’ll still definitely be picking up ArchEnemies this fall!

Kate:

Did I have a good readathon? Yes. Did I kick as much ass as Paige did? Ha! No. She is my idol in terms of speed, voracity, and retention. Her skill is rude, really. 

ANYWAY I was very pleased with my readathon! I read or completed three books, and started a fourth. All of this with a surprise vacation in the middle. (I do that sometimes – keeps people on their toes.)

  • Nevernight – I finished this one. I know I shouldn’t count things I’d already started, but putting it down was really out of the question, and the Kindle version is over 600 pages, so ha! I’m counting it anyway!
  • Brisingr – Audio tome!
  • Renegades
  • And I started The Name of the Wind, but I’m only 111 pages in.

I can’t even kind of tell you what the page number equivalent was, but I can tell you that it felt good to knock some hefty books off my TBR. Which of course has just opened the door for more! Not to mention those pesky sequels. Here’s how I did on the challenges:

  1. Read more than one tome: YEP
  2. Read a graphic novel: NOPE – I pulled one for my TBR, but I didn’t make it happen. Maybe next time!
  3. Read a tome that is part of a series: YEP – I think all of them fulfill this requirement, actually.
  4. Buddy read a tome: YEP – just you wait till you hear what we have to say about Renegades
  5. Read an adult tome: YEP

A couple of these will get interviews or reviews from Paige and/or I, so I don’t want to get too into them here. I would have to say that my favorite was Nevernight. It took me a while to get into that story, but all of a sudden I was hooked and couldn’t stop. It’s one of the greatest literally payoffs I’ve ever experienced. The nostalgia factor goes to Brisingr, though. I haven’t re-read this series since the early years of college, and I forgot how much I really love it.

*****

How did your readathons go? Are you pleased with your progress? Still hungry for more? BOTH?

Until next time!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Tome Topple Readathon – Summer 2018

Posted June 28, 2018 by A Conjuring of Lit in Book Love / 0 Comments

Hello everyone! If you’re like us, you’re all big fans of readathons. Something about the sense of community and all of the challenges really makes us feel motivated and like we can move mountains. Some of the shorter, more intense readathons are incredibly fun, but they are often harder to participate in (see Kate’s success with 24 in 48 and Dewey’s Readathon) than some of the longer-term readathons. Enter…Tome Topple! This two week long event happens periodically throughout the year, and the 6th edition of it begins at midnight this Friday, the 29th of June in whatever time zone you are in! It ends two weeks later on July 12th. You can check out this video made by Sam, who created the readathon, to learn more about it! Below, you can check out our TBR piles as well as some of our hopes for our own readathon successes.

Here are the challenges for this edition:

  1. Read more than one tome
  2. Read a graphic novel
  3. Read a tome that is part of a series
  4. Buddy read a tome
  5. Read an adult novel

There will also be additional Instagram and reading challenges posted by the hosts. Check out the bottom of this post for a lengthy list of links to the hosts channels and Instagram accounts.

We somehow managed to achieve most of those without even trying as we were choosing things. Go us!

Paige:

So guys, I have to admit. I have been in a really slumpy place for approximately the last couple of months, and I am SICK of it. I’ve tried all kinds of different things, but I BELIEVE that my current read of A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir is finally resurrecting me. But because I’ve been so all over the place lately, I wanted to create a TBR that was narrow enough to give me a sense of direction while also being general enough that I didn’t feel trapped and end up slumping again. I am currently finishing Reaper as well as Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, and I am hoping to pick up one of the following books once those are done:

Ta da! Paige’s Tome Topple TBR!

Starting at the top, we have the third book of the Gentlemen Bastard series, The Republic of Thieves, which will follow Red Seas Under Red Skies. It was going to be a buddy read with my friend Mike, but he is a machine and I am a struggle bus, so I am way behind. Next is Heir of Fire, which contributes to me plugging away at the Throne of Glass series before the final book arrives in November. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue has been everywhere I look during Pride Month, so I figured it would be just the sort of hilarious fluff I need if I start getting slumpy. Crooked Kingdom and Obsidio are both on here because I am a dumpster fire and need to stop depriving myself of the ends of series that I adore. It’s just silly. And lastly is Renegades, which I hope to buddy-ish read with Kate. We both love The Lunar Chronicles, so why haven’t we read this yet? Kate? Kate? KATE?!

Kate:

WHAT? Just kidding. I’m here. 

First of all, Kingdom of Ash comes out on October 23rd. How dare you forget? Also, I don’t know why we haven’t read Renegades yet. Probably because we suck. But we’re fixing it, okay?! Buddy read for the win!

But seriously. I’m very excited about my list this time. I don’t know if I’ll actually finish them all (Yes, I do – I won’t), because as Paige mentioned above, I suck at actually finishing/participating in readathons. Or they happen when my best friend is getting married (lookin’ at you, 24 in 48 July 2018!). And also I’m getting married and I have lots of family commitments and I might die in the next 14 days. It’s all a mystery! But it’ll be fine. IT’S ALL FINE.

I’m kinda breaking things down into parts this time to try to break it up. So without further ado, here are my tome topple tomes!

Physical Books:

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Game of Thrones by George R.R. “I don’t know how to budget my time” Martin*

A yet to be decided graphic novel from my shelf – I’ve been putting off a fair number of large ones

Audiobook:

Brisingr* and (maybe) Inheritance by Chris Paolini, depending on how fast I can power through

Kindle Books:

The Diviners by Libba Bray*

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

*I’ve already started these, which I know is technically against the rules, but I’m a rebel. And I can’t focus on more than one audiobook at a time, and also I promise to prioritize them behind all the other things. But I’m still going to keep reading them and also Nevernight, because I can’t stop. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m bad at rules.

*****

We hope you join us for all the tome toppling goodness! This is a really great, lower-stress challenge, and it’s an awesome opportunity to tackle some of the books on our shelves that we worry about eating all of the time?

Will you be participating? Yes? Excellent! And what will you be reading?

Let us know in the comments!

*****

The booktubers who host and co-host this event are really fantastic. You can find all their social media in their profiles, and you should definitely follow them and their bookish adventures. A+ material all around!

Sam – ThoughtsOnTomes

Adriana – PerpetualPages

Sarah-Jane – TheBookLife

Sian – ReadersRambles

Caz – Little Book Owl

*****

AND if you want to follow along with us as we work and buddy read our way through this challenge, be sure to follow our blog Instagram and Twitter (links in the sidebar), as well as following along with our personal bookish ramblings (links below)!

Kate

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/weakestreed/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/weakestreed

Paige

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/paigesquared/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/paigesquared

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Review – A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

Posted June 26, 2018 by Paige in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – A Thousand Beginnings and EndingsA Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh, Elsie Chapman, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Renee Ahdieh, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Cindy Pon, Alyssa Wong, Sona Charaipotra, Aisha Saeed, Lori M. Lee, Shveta Thakrar, Preeti Chhibber, E.C. Myers, Rahul Kanakia
Published by Greenwillow Books on June 26, 2018
Pages: 336
Goodreads
five-stars

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.
Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.
Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.
A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.

This short story collection is one I saw being promoted during Asian Pacific American Heritage month, and skimming through the list of featured authors made it IMMEDIATELY clear that I had to check it out. I was lucky enough to be approved for a review copy on Edelweiss, and I am excited to bring you this release day review!

Reviewing short story collections can be a tricky beast. While there were definitely some stories that didn’t click with me when I read them, what made this collection amazing was the follow-up piece that accompanied each story. Each author was tasked with writing, rewriting, or otherwise putting their own spin on a story known throughout their culture, and each author also wrote an explanation of how their new story connected with the old, why it was important to them, and how they had attempted to expand upon or explore the traditional story. So even though some of the stories had me a little confused at first, I had SO many lightbulb moments when I read the author’s take at the end of the story, and I often went back and reread it.

As a white person, I absolutely cannot speak to the authenticity or representation in these stories, but I walked into this reading experience prepared to be educated and entertained, and I definitely was. So many of these stories had some familiar threads running through them, but even more were completely new to me. I also enjoyed the mix of stories – some of the authors modernized old tales, some explored an old story from a new angle, and some blended several stories together to create something rich and inventive. I was stealing snippets of this book every moment that I could (thank goodness for ereaders).

I first cracked the stories open during a rainy lunch time at work, and boy did it start with a bang. The second story is called “Olivia’s Table,” and it was written by Alyssa Wong. She has won TONS of awards for her works of short fiction, and let me tell you they are well deserved. This story was hand-down my favorite, and it had me weeping into my bagel while trying to not attract the notice of other people who were just trying to enjoy their lunch.

A close second favorite was “The Land of the Morning Calm” by E.C. Meyers. This book reimagines a classic Korean tale by create a World of Warcraft-like video game setting that means a great deal to the narrator and her family. The video game made it easy for me to connect with the aesthetic of the story, and it made for a beautiful analogy to allow me to understand the story better. I could probably go on and on about many of these stories, but they are definitely something that deserves to be enjoyed by going in nearly blind.

For the benefit of many readers, I will definitely want to point out a few trigger warnings. Many of these stories deal with grief, loss of loved ones, violence, and potential unhealthy relationships. These heavy-hitting topics are part of the reason why these stories were so powerful, but it could definitely be difficult for some readers to deal with the themes.

Overall, while not every single individual story was a 5 star experience for me, I wouldn’t be being honest with myself if I gave this entire collection 5 stars as a whole. I feel like all of these amazing authors sat me down in the middle of a circle and took turns educating me about their lives and experience through the beauty of storytelling, and I absolutely would recommend that experience to anyone and everyone, especially my fellow white Western people. We have a lot that we can learn.

five-stars

Tags: , , ,


Mid-Year Book FREAKOUT Tag

Posted June 21, 2018 by A Conjuring of Lit in Book Love / 0 Comments

It’s…it’s June? More than halfway through June? How are we here already?

Well, being (almost) halfway through the year means it’s a fine time to update you on our reading journey with the help of a book tag! We borrowed this from a few Youtubers we’ve seen over the last couple of days, and the links below will take you to the originators of the tag!

Original Creators: IsThatChami: https://www.youtube.com/user/ReadLike…

ElyJayne: https://www.youtube.com/user/Midnight…

Without further ado, let’s freak out!

1) Best book of 2018 so far

Paige: Picking just one very hard, guys. I’ve had a really good reading year so far. I’m going to go with Nevernight by Jay Kristoff because I have successfully forced my husband to start reading by sheer force of my enthusiasm. This is quite the feat since he has approximately 8 billion interests.

Kate: So like…I’ve been doing a TON of re-reads this year, and using one of those feels like cheating. So. Well. I guess….WAIT this isn’t hard. Strange the Dreamer. Hands down. And all the other Laini Taylor things I devoured with psychotic zeal while I should have been paying attention to my international vacation. (Sadly not kidding about that last bit….)

2) Best sequel

P: UM. UM. UM. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. I really liked Ember, but I absolutely DEVOURED Torch. Hold me close, I just got Reaper into my hot little hands.

K: A Reaper at the Gates. I know it’s also the newest one, but dude, it killed me. In every great and terrible way.

3) New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

P: Besides the aforementioned Reaper, I’m going to go with Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett, which I got in a Fairyloot box recently. I read the first few chapters of all the book-box books I own and haven’t read yet, and that one really caught my attention.

K: This is a LONG list for me. Furyborn is up there, as well as Sky in the Deep. I’m also interested in Smoke in the Sun just to see if it has any more staying power for me than Flame in the Mist did.

4) Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

P: Vengeful and City of Ghosts by V.E Schwab and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor HANDS DOWN NO CONTEST.

K: Vengeful, Muse of Nightmares, and KINGDOM OF ASH. I’m gonna die.

5) Biggest disappointment

P: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes.  I was doing a read-along with the series with some Twitter friends, and it didn’t take me very long to progress from reading to hate-reading to hate-skimming. Props to my lady friends for finishing the series when I couldn’t even finish the first book!

K: Ruin and Rising. I waited literal years to read Grisha, and that ending ruined the whole damn thing.

6) Biggest surprise

P: Either The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner or Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan. There books aren’t things I would have picked up on my own necessarily, but I am SO glad I did. TSK made me ugly cry in public, and PoB was badass and unique.

K: Hmm….this one actually is difficult. I think Scythe probably surprised me the most. It was so hyped that I was afraid to pick it up, but I ended up really loving it.

7) Favorite new author

P: I’m going to go with Sarah Henning, who wrote Sea Witch. If I hadn’t known, I would never have guessed this book was a debut! It was so dark and delightful.

K: I’ve read literally nothing by a new author this year. Which I should address.

8) Newest fictional crush

P: Probably Ezra Mason from Illuminae or Cartier from The Queen’s Rising. Dopey dudes and intellectual dudes for the win!

K: Akiva *star eyes emoji* (P: HOW DID I NO THINK OF THIS)

9) Newest favorite character

P: Mister Kindly from Nevernight because not-quite-animal animal sidekicks are my fave.

K: This is counter-intuitive given an earlier answer, but The Darkling. I loved that Leigh Bardugo [mostly] committed to making him irredeemable.

10) Book that made you cry

P: The Serpent King, Illuminae, and Simon versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

K: BAHAHAHAHAHA I cry at everything. I don’t think you understand. I legitimately cry when I experience any sort of emotion. For the sake of actually answering the question, we’ll go with Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

11) Book that made you happy

P: A Court of Frost and Starlight. Say what you will about it, but it was just the kind of slice-of-life short fiction that I yearn for when there are characters I love as much as the Inner Circle.

K: Same. I have a lot of feels about the Inner Circle and the nostalgic, sappy, happy things they make me feel. I unapologetically wish I could live in that world with them.

12) Most beautiful book you’ve bought/received

P: After MUCH angst with the post office, I finally received the first two Daughter of Smoke and Bone books in their ethereal UK hardcover forms. I am also waiting for the Fairyloot version of The Language of Thorns and Strange the Dreamer to arrive from Europe, so those would also be on this list as well if I had the ability to show them!

I literally made my brother (who lives with us) open the package after he signed for it and send me a photo at work because I wouldn’t believe it until I saw it.

K: I received my Books A Million special edition ACoFaS and a signed (not sprayed pages, but it’s still beautiful) UK Strange the Dreamer the same day. That was a damn good, ethereally beautiful day.

*screams*

13) What books do you want to read by the end of the year?

P: Five books that I own that I would like to get to this year are Crooked Kingdom (shut up), Onyx and Ivory, Obsidio, Brightly Burning, and REAPER.

K: I’ll take a page from Paige’s book (see what I did there?)[P: h8 u] and only list things I already own, not that that really makes the list much shorter. If I name the first of a series, assume I mean all of them. Nevernight, Illuminae, Six of Crows, War Storm, The Queen’s Rising, and Smoke in the Sun. I also promised my fiance that I would finally commit to The Deed of Paksenarrion and The Seventh Tower, because I never read them as a child. Yeah, I know. Not to mention that I’m slowly but surely working my way through Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire. There’s a reason Paige reads more than I do, guys. She’s better at it.

14) Favorite book community member

P: This question feels a little weird, but my newest favorite Booktuber is Spencer at CommonSpence (those cold opens tho).

K: This question troubles me, because I tend to be too afraid to actually engage much with the bookish community. You’re all lovely, I’m a blubbering mess. But I really enjoy watching both ThoughtsOnTomes and PeruseProject’s videos. There are more, but Sam and Regan seem to be the ones I always come back to. 

Tags:


Review – The Light Between Worlds

Posted June 19, 2018 by Paige in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – The Light Between WorldsThe Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Published by HarperTeen on October 23, 2018
Genres: YA, YA fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: eARC from Edelweiss
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge.
When Ev and Phil finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.
Now, Evelyn spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes.
Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.
But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.
Content warnings are available via the author's website: https://www.lauraeweymouth.com/books

We are back after a really, really long hiatus! International trips, residuals from moving into a new house, and mental health breaks make for an interesting balance between things, but hopefully you’ll be seeing more regular content from us in the next couple of weeks.

The Light Between Worlds was something that I had seen in passing a few times on various lists and blogs, but what really captured my attention was when Margaret Rogerson, the author of An Enchantment of Ravens, tweeted that it had ensnared her, haunted her, and made her cry. The masochist in me said HELL YEAH! I looked for it on a couple of my usual eARC websites, and I was approved for a copy through Edelweiss.

I will start off by saying that this book definitely didn’t end up being what I thought it would be, and that is usually a huge bummer for me. However, this book was beautiful for what it was, and after shifting my perspective a little bit as I read, I was sold.

This book starts out during the London air strikes of WWII, and it centers around the Hapwell siblings – Evelyn, Jamie, and Philippa. The first half of the narrative belongs to Evelyn, who wishes herself and her siblings somewhere safe. One moment, they are cowering in a bomb shelter, hoping desperately that their parents will arrive soon and hide with them. The next, they are in the eerie and beautiful Woodlands. Hello, Narnia vibes! Evelyn’s chapters switch back and forth between the time the trio spent in the Woodlands and the present, where they have returned to London and attempted to assimilate. Many years passed while they lived the life of Woodland folk, but when they returned, they returned to the time they left, even returning to their child bodies. While Philippa and Jamie are able to slide back into their old life, Evelyn simply cannot. The Woodlands call for her, and she just wants to go home.

The second half of the book is taken over by Philippa after something big happens with Evelyn. She returns home from studying abroad in America to try and piece together what has happened to and between herself and Evelyn.

This book is so beautifully tragic. I absolutely love that it centered around the relationship between Evelyn and Philippa, even though most of the “present” narrative took place in the real world. I thought this book was going to be taking place more in the Woodlands, but we were really only there in flashbacks. However, the use of flashbacks was incredibly effective and gave this book hints of a mystery/thriller vibe without being too intense. HOWEVER, I will suggest that readers be aware of the content warnings the author has placed for this book. I really wish more authors would do this, because there were definitely incredibly heavy moments in this book, and I am glad I was able to mentally prepare myself to handle them.

The Light Between Worlds portrays characters dealing with depression, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder, illness and disordered eating, and the loss of a loved one. It refers to possible suicide, contains scenes of violence and war, and brief mentions may be unsettling to readers with emetophobia.”

The Lauras Weymouth’s employment of content warnings skyrocketed my opinion of her from “author of a great debut novel” to “author of a great debut novel AND excellent, thoughtful human being.” As such, I will be doing my best to include more content warnings in my future reviews, even if the content is not something that affected me personally.

Back to the book though! I identified so heavily with both of our main characters. Evelyn suffers from depression, and I could see echoes of myself in her actions and thoughts. It made me want to reach out, hold her, and guide her through the troubled times. This is part of the reason why I identified with Philippa, her older sister. I am an older sister myself, and Philippa’s fierce protectiveness of her younger sister really spoke to me. Her unabashed confidence and use of her femininity as a shield and sword had my heart swelling with pride and girl power as well.

There are two love interests in this book, one for each of the sisters. While I enjoyed both to an extent, Evelyn’s story was allowed to play out much more gradually, and thus felt much more believable. Phil’s story was a tiiiiiiiiiny bit insta-lovey for my taste. HOWEVER! I adored both of the male love interests, so I’m not entirely angry about any of the romance involved.

If you’ll notice, I’m really skirting around what I think of the plot. This book is a bit of a meandering story, and I believe a story like this deserves to be discovered organically. I enjoy going into books blind, but I feel it to be necessary with this story. Suffice to say, if you love a little bit of magic with your historical fiction (Outlander, anyone?) and wistful, raw, real-feeling characters, this one is definitely for you. It comes out October 23, 2018.

four-half-stars

Tags: , , , , , ,


Review – The Grisha Trilogy

Posted June 12, 2018 by Kate in Reviews / 2 Comments

by Leigh Bardugo
Genres: YA, YA fantasy
Format: Paperback

I have good and bad news for you all today!

Good news: we’re back! And we’ll be operating as normal for a few weeks as we work out how to roll out some new ideas and a bit of a facelift.

Bad news: I REALLY hated the way The Grisha Trilogy ended, so I’m going to be ripping a fan favorite series a bit. I hated it so much I’ve lost my perspective on the first 85% of it, which makes me sadder than you could know.

As usual, I’ll let you know when it might get spoilery. Despite being maybe the last YA fantasy fan on the planet to read this series, I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun.

***

I was so excited to pull Shadow and Bone off my shelf a couple months ago, because I had been putting them off for years. I DEVOURED it. I loved the creepy feeling of the world, the wrongness that Bardugo was able to build into the being of the Darkling, the elemental magic system, and so many of the characters, specifically Nikolai and Baghra, but they were in good company. I thought the whole thing was creative and new, even though I was about 7 years late to the party.

From the beginning, I liked Alina. I know she as a character isn’t necessarily a lot of people’s favorite, but I enjoyed her. Her insecurities felt very real to me, both in terms of the world of the Grisha she was being thrust into and in her relationship with Mal. I thought it was particularly valuable that she wasn’t able to fully grasp her power until she was able to let go of some of those insecurities and desires. So often, characters are striving to find something to be able to gain full control of themselves and their abilities, and in this case, she needed to find herself. What a thoughtful, simple twist. I LOVED that!

I’m not going to do my normal breakdown of characters I think are great/terrible, because this series has a hilariously long list of important characters. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t say anything about Mal and the Darkling. So buckle up, because if Goodreads swooning is any indication, I’m gonna lose some friends.

***

In my revision stages I realized that Mal and the Darkling are dark, spoilery beasts. Run away!!!

***

Mal. Oh, Mal! What a bland, patronizing, waste of paper. His problematic, “I’m a man and you’re a woman so clearly you need to be taken care of, right?” behavior would have been fine if it served a purpose. Or if he ever apologized for it. Or if they grew beyond it in someway. BUT THEY DIDN’T. I’m marrying someone who was my best friend before we got together – from a personal standpoint, I’m all for people finding their way to a deeper relationship with someone who has always been around and knows them like the back of their own hand. What I’m NOT here for is thinking it’s cute when the tropes of childhood and sexism seep their way into adult relationships. The relationship between Mal and Alina could have been more; it could have transcended its origins in a million different ways, and it never did.

Issue #2: Fan perception of the Darkling. In my opinion, he’s written to be irredeemable. If she wanted him to be pure at heart, she wouldn’t have escalated his atrocities at every turn. Trying to shape it differently is doing a disservice to the character and story as it was written. Seriously. Just stop. He’s SUPPOSED TO BE terrible. Let him be the worst possible version of himself. Bardugo went out of her way to make that reality. Just because Alina can relate to him because of their murky romantic history, the fact he told her his name, and their power hungry tendencies, doesn’t mean you should fall for it. As readers, we see the big picture. Everyone single thing he did – kissing her, sharing his vision, cultivating her power, telling her his name – were done to manipulate her. I can go on forever about this, but I’ll stop. He’s a good character, because of the depth of his badness. Period.

In terms of the story, I honestly can’t say anything positive. Despite loving it till the last 50 pages, that overshadowed the whole thing for me. This was the first book I threw in years, but throw it, I did. Hard. Against a wall. And I’d do it again.

This series deserved better. I don’t know if Bardugo was trying to temper the fantastic events with a more down to earth ending or what, but it just needed to be more. Alina deserved more, Nikolai deserved more, the Grisha supporting cast deserved more. Hell, even Mal and the Darkling deserved more. They were built up to be these enormous counterbalances to each other and then they just…ceased. They were no more. It was the most anti-climatic drivel I’ve ever read. So much was happening, and then NOTHING.

Shadow and Bone rating: 3.5 stars

Siege and Storm rating: 4.5 stars

Ruin and Rising rating: 1.5 stars

Series Rating: 2.5 stars

***

All of that being said, I’m excited to read Six of Crows and Language of Thorns. They’re still on my high priority list for this year. And I’m chomping at the bit for King of Scars – Nikolai can do no wrong, as far as I’m concerned, and I want to know everything about him I can. I have high hopes, and my friends who didn’t like Grisha did like SoC and LoT.

***

Let us know what your thoughts of this series are! Or what’s a fan favorite series you think is highly overrated? Friendly debate is always encouraged in our little corner of the interwebs!

Until next week!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Top 5 Wednesday – Authors We’d Love to Meet

Posted May 2, 2018 by A Conjuring of Lit in Top 5 Wednesday / 0 Comments

Since Samantha – our delightfully bookish host – has a crazy month, we’re able to choose our own topics this month. And since we also have pretty crazy months, we’re kicking it off with something simple and fun that hopefully every one of you can relate to!

KATE

I’m doing six.

I’m a rebel.

Laini Taylor – As usual, it took me a while to jump on the bandwagon with Laini Taylor’s books, but now that I have, I’m in love. Strange the Dreamer made me weep (pun intended) it was so beautiful. Waiting for Must of Nightmares is slowly killing me, I swear. I recently started Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I’m enjoying it immensely. I just keep coming back to the fact that I can’t believe I put off reading all of these things for so long. I want to meet this woman and thank her for Lazlo Strange.

Marissa Meyer – I have very strong feelings about The Lunar Chronicles. I just think that series is fantastic, and it’s a world and a story I can return to and bask in. I love that experience. Admittedly, I’ve only listened to Heartless and I haven’t attempted Renegades yet, but even if I end up thinking they’re both terrible, I’ll still think Marissa Meyer and her world of Earthens and Lunars is damn near perfect, and I’d love to be able to tell her that.

Sarah J. Maas – I just….love her books. LOVE them. It’s borderline unhealthy, and I’ve got the blog posts (that’s right – two of them) and the tear stained pillow cases to prove it. I also like the way she talks about her writing and her process, and even though I’m terrible at asking questions at book events, I’d just like to be in the room when people who are better at it than me can pepper her with them. And then I want her to sign all the things and I’ll say thank you and I’ll die happy.

Sabaa Tahir – With every social media post I see from her, the more I want to meet her. Not only do I love An Ember in the Ashes, she just seems so relatable. I imagine meeting her would be like meeting Victoria Schwab (which I still can’t believe happened, by the way) – easy, fun, enlightening, and a complete and total fangirl moment.

Erin Morgenstern – Real talk: I want to ask her if she’s ever going to write anything else. And then I’d go home and chastise myself for being an ass and read The Night Circus again and bathe in the silvery light of its perfection.

Neil Gaiman – Everything I’ve ever read of his, I’ve loved. I also love the way he interacts with his fans and the way he cares about things and supports loved ones and tells me that dragons can be beaten. I just think that’s all really important, and I want to hear it (or at least something like it) in person.

PAIGE

Despite the fact that meeting people I admire really stresses me out, I still would absolutely be over the moon to meet some of my favorite authors. In the interest of full disclosure, I would also ABSOLUTELY go and meet everyone on Kate’s list as well!

Jay Kristoff – Ever since I read Illuminae  and Nevernight, I knew Jay would be at the top of the list if he ever made a stop close to me. I can’t blame the guy, being Australian and all. He’s absolutely hilarious, he’s written some amazing stuff, and he kinda looks like Dave Grohl. What’s not to love?

Leigh Bardugo – But I would only talk to her about the Six of Crows duology, Language of Thorns, and who her favorite character is and why it’s Nikolai. Unpopular opinions here on this blog regarding the original trilogy. You’ve been warned.

Seanan McGuire – Yet another case of me liking a book, following the author on twitter, and LOVING the author. Urban fantasy isn’t really my thing, but I’m willing to read anything Seanan writes while I wait anxiously for as many Wayward Children books as she is willing to give me.

Patrick Rothfuss – Not only has he written amazing books and done tons of philanthropic work, but he’s a big fuckin’ nerd and I love his guest appearances on the DnD stream done by Penny Arcade. He’s a truly hilarious individual, and I’d love the chance to thank him for his books since it seems like most people feel the need to give him crap about forthcoming books.

Margaret Rogerson – Margaret is a Cincinnati native, and that city will forever have my heart. I truly enjoyed her debut An Enchantment of Ravens, and I would love to meet her and pick her brain to see if she’s going to write more fae books. She seems DELIGHTFUL.

*****

Who are some authors you would like to meet? Let us know in the comments!

Until next week!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,