Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Top 5 Disappointing Books of 2017

Photo by Luke Palmer on Unsplash
We're closing in on the end of the year, and this has been, overall, a really good reading year for me. I'll get to the best books I read in 2017 soon enough, but first... the duds. The ones that let me down. That dashed my raised expectations. These are the top 5 disappointing books of 2017.

A couple notes before I start. First, these are books I read in 2017 -- not necessarily ones that came out in 2017. Second, in order to make the list, the book needs to have actually, well, disappointed me. For instance, as much as I loathed The Cabin, I didn't go in expecting it to be "good" in the first place, so it didn't disappoint me. Ergo, it doesn't make the cut. Third, I'm ranking this best-to-worst. (Well, for a small measure of "best.")

5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Everyone has those couple of books that everyone and their mother has hyped up, but when you actually got around to reading them, you couldn't help but think, "...That's it?" The Raven Boys was one of those for me. I'm glad so many people enjoy this book and its sequels, but for me, it was mostly a dull reading experience. As I mentioned in my review, I think part of it may be that Stiefvater's writing style is just not my cup of tea. It's not the worst book, or even a bad book, but I won't be continuing with the series anytime soon .

4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Another book that was seriously hyped up by the bookish community. However, when I read it, I honestly didn't see what the big deal was. I didn't enjoy it much at all, and I found the plot to be slow and tedious, not to mention insanely confusing. I also hated the love interest, but that's a rant I covered in my review. If you liked it, I'm glad, but for me? Nah.

3. The Merciless II: The Exorcism of Sofia Flores by Danielle Vega

This one made the list mainly because I absolutely adored its predecessor, so a merely "meh" followup was a serious letdown. On its own, The Merciless II is a decent enough horror story, but when comparing it to the first book, it just can't measure up. Luckily, the third installment in the series picked up the slack. Here's hoping The Merciless IV can keep up!

2. Royce Rolls by Margaret Stohl

The problem with satire is that it is very, very easy to fuck up. Going too over the top, or not over the top enough, can make the whole thing seem lame and forced, or just totally fall flat. This book was meant to satirize reality TV and the whole Kardashian "thing," but it just didn't work. The characters lacked depth and were impossible to care about, and it felt like the author didn't really commit. When you're providing social commentary on something as ridiculous as reality TV stars, you have to go big or go home. Adding in the fact that the book just wasn't very funny, and you've got a real dud.

1. RoseBlood by A.G. Howard


I'm sure most of you know by now that I'm a huge Phantom of the Opera nerd. So when I heard this was a modern redux of the classic story, I snatched it right up. I was expecting a fun, dark, exciting story, maybe with some romance mixed in. What I got instead was a half-baked, kind of racist mess that clearly lacked understanding of what makes Phantom work. I gave up less than halfway through. Look, there's no Phantom of the Opera that's objectively great art, but even most of the shitty ones have something to enjoy. But not this book. I can withstand a lot of crap for Phantom, but not this much.

It's not as bad as the 1998 movie, though.

Nothing will ever be as bad as the 1998 movie.


Thank you so much for reading this list. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

What books were you disappointed by in 2017? Let me know down in the comments!

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Top 10 Most Anticipated 2018 Releases

We have less than two weeks left in 2017! I know for a lot of us, the initial response to that is, "Thank GOD." As fucked as this year has been politically, it's been a pretty good year for me, personally. (A few hiccups notwithstanding.) One of the highlights has been this blog. I am impressed with myself for keeping it going for a whole year, and I don't think I'll lose my momentum any time soon.

One way blogging has changed the way I read is that it's made me much more aware of new releases. I used to just read stuff whenever, but the online book community is very conscious of reading things right when they come out -- and I'm no different. For the first time ever, I'm actively keeping track of what's coming out soon. (And what I need to preorder.)

So, without further ado, here are ten books that are coming out in 2018 that I am greatly looking forward to! This isn't in any particular order -- I just ranked them in the order that I wanted to talk about them.

The Merciless IV: Last Rites by Danielle Vega

One of the main series I've talked about on this blog is The Merciless, a Southern gothic horror story with demons, religious fanaticism, and teenage girls being bitchy. This is the fourth (and apparently final) installment in the series, and as far as I'm concerned, it can't come out quick enough.

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

This one doesn't even have official cover art for it, but I'm hyped. The sequel to Vicious, I just about died when I found out I'd have to wait an entire year to read it. Vicious left me with one of the worst book hangovers of my life, and I'm desperate to go on another adventure with these characters.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Another sequel that doesn't have a cover yet! You saw me rave about The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue a few months ago, and I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Mackenzi Lee HERE. The Lady's Guide is a companion/sequel focusing on Felicity, who was by far my favorite character in the first book. I can't wait to see where her story goes!

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Uh, hello? It's a magical retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear. Of course I'm going to jump on this.

Nothing Happened by Molly Booth

Another Shakespeare retelling! This time, one of the comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, set at a modern-day summer camp. And, as a bonus, it's gay.

Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

A queer, contemporary love story, between two young women who have hit rock bottom. This is one of those books that grabbed my attention from the title alone. I've never read anything from this author before, but the reviews all look very promising.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

A new fantasy, centered around Alice, whose grandmother is a famously reclusive author. Following her grandmother's death, Alice's mother is taken away -- by someone who claims to be from the fantasy world in which Alice's grandmother's books were set. This book sounds creepy, dark, and fantastical. So, it's right up my alley.

The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan

Following a poor decision at the end of her junior year, Kendall's senior year gets off to an even worse start when she's framed for stealing from a drug dealer. Forced to publicly play the role of "bad girl" to save her own neck, Kendall gets drawn deeper and deeper into a drug ring that's been hiding in her school, all in an effort to reclaim her reputation. I love (well-written) teenage thrillers, and all the early reviews of this one have been extremely favorable. I can't wait to see if it lives up to the hype.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Following an emotional crisis and being expelled from her high school, Jane needs a change. Moving into the local college for a high school completion program, Jane winds up on a local reality show that slowly grows from a tiny webseries to a TV show with an actual fanbase. The premise of this book sounds like it could be hilarious, and it's such an odd setup that I'm extremely curious to see how the author pulls it off.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Last on my list is the first in a new YA fantasy series, focusing on a girl named Jude. Ten years ago, Jude's parents were murdered, and she and her sisters were spirited away to live in the High Court of Faerie. Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, but many fey hate humans. In order to keep herself and her sisters safe, Jude must entangle herself in dangerous alliances as the threat of war looms on the horizon. I love stories with fairies (or fey, or whatever you want to call them), so this immediately jumped out at me. I can't wait to get my hands on it. And I won't have to wait long -- it comes out January 2!


Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

What books are you looking forward to in 2018? Tell me about them in the comments below! I had a really hard time narrowing it down to just ten for this post, so I'd love to hear what made your list.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

TITLE: Turtles All the Way Down

AUTHOR: John Green

GENRE: contemporary / mystery

PLOT SUMMARY: Billionaire Russell Pickett is missing, and there's a $100,000 reward to anyone that can provide information that will lead to his being found. Aza isn't interested in doing detective work, but her best friend Daisy, has other ideas. Especially when she finds out that Davis, Russell's son, is a childhood friend of Aza's. However, Aza's mental health issues, and her own fear of the world around her, may get in the way -- not just of the investigation, but of life in general.

FIRST THOUGHTS: I've always been a fan of John Green's. Paper Towns is one of my favorite books of all time, and I, like everyone, cried my eyes out the first time I read The Fault in Our Stars. So when I heard he was coming out with a new book, I ordered it right away, without having a clue what it was about. This is also the first John Green book I've gone into completely blind; I managed to avoid all spoilers before I began. (For me, a TV Tropes fanatic with poor impulse control, that's incredibly impressive.) This wasn't my favorite of Green's books, but it was a great reading experience, and I think anyone who's a fan of his will enjoy it.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: By far my biggest complaint about this book is related to the plot. Not that it's bad, or anything -- it's not. It's just that the summary on the inside jacket cover presented the story as a mystery. While the mystery of Russell Pickett's whereabouts does get the story started, it ultimately doesn't play as big of a role as I expected, or would've liked. It gets things moving, but then it sort of disappears from the narrative until you're almost at the very end. The book's what I'd consider a character study; it's not so much about what happens to Aza as it is about Aza herself, and her internal struggle. If you like that sort of thing (which I do, if it's well-written, which this was), you'll probably like this book.

5 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: Most John Green books feature a strong ensemble, so I was a little disappointed when the only two characters that were really complex and compelling were Aza and Daisy. That said, both Aza and Daisy are extremely strong characters, and they easily carry the novel. I loved how fleshed-out their dynamic was, and how they both were very layered and nuanced people. As I said, this book is a character study; you gotta have three-dimensional characters in order to make that work. John Green's always been great at having compelling main characters, even when they're not at their most likable. (Aza is likable, but I defy you to find me a teenager who isn't five seconds away from being slapped sometimes.) My only real gripe with the characters is that, since all the depth went to our heroine and her best friend, the love interest, Davis, felt flat and uninteresting by comparison. Out of all of John Green's love interests, Davis is by far the blandest. It's not that I didn't like him; I just didn't know him well enough to care much about him one way or the other, and I didn't really see why Aza was so fixated on him.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: This is definitely the John Green I remember! One common complaint about Green's books is that all his teenage characters sound too mature, eloquent, and grown-up. While I do agree that it does sometimes stretch the willing suspension of disbelief, it's never been enough of an issue for me to mind. Personally, I like that about his books -- I like the well-spoken, intellectual characters, and their philosophical ramblings. But I do get why it's not for everyone. This is a very well-written novel, especially in the segments where Aza's internal monologue turns into a "spiral;" when her illness briefly takes over and controls her thoughts, causing her to go down a bit of slippery slope. Those segments were heartbreaking, but also some of the strongest writing in the book.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: First, I'll get the smaller stuff out of the way. This book features several POC characters, including one of the leads, and it also touches on class and financial issues in a really unexpectedly realistic way. However, a lot of the buzz surrounding this book is due to the fact that it has a main character with OCD -- written by an author who has been very open about his own experiences with OCD. As a result, this is not the simplified, one-dimensional portrayal of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that you may know from TV. It's brutally realistic, and shows the ups and downs of Aza's illness in vivid detail. It doesn't define Aza as a person, but it does have a huge effect on her day-to-day living. I have no experience with OCD myself, but I know that a lot of people who do have said that this book's portrayal of the disorder really spoke to them and their experiences. I'm glad to hear that; mental illness is so often portrayed incorrectly or outright insultingly in fiction, so it's nice to find an exception to the rule.

8 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: I was so glad to read a John Green book again. I associate reading his work very strongly with being high school, so it was a nice little trip down memory lane. (Even though I wasn't in high school all that long ago.) If I were to rank Green's five solo works so far, this would be dead in the center. (For the record, my ranking, favorite to least favorite, is Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, Turtles All the Way Down, An Abundance of Katherines, and Looking for Alaska.) I heard some rumors that John Green wasn't planning to write another book after TFIOS, so it was a real relief to find that that wasn't the case -- and that his return to the page was as good as this was.



Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

If you've read Turtles All the Way Down, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

The next book I'll be reading is The Hate U Give, but after that, I'm putting it up to a vote for my Patrons! Patrons, vote HERE! Remember, you only need to chip in $1 a month to get access to polls like this one.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

OwlCrate, December 2017

OwlCrate is a monthy subscription box where you get sent a new YA book and all sorts of cool merch and goodies, all pertaining to a certain theme.

This month's theme was SEIZE THE DAY! Here's all the stuff I got in my box this month. If you want to sign up for OwlCrate, their website is here.

This month's box included...

  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. Claudia didn't mean to overhear a messy breakup between Iris, one of the meanest girls in school, and her girlfriend. Now that she's on Iris's bad side, she's especially unhappy that the two have been forced to write a paper together -- and audition for the school play together.
  • A Christmas ornament inspired by Everything, Everything.
  • A candle inspired by The Names They Gave Us.
  • A tote bag inspired by Harry Potter, with the quote, "Don't let the Muggles get you down."
  • A planner designed by OwlCrate, specifically for readers!
  • A double-sided bookmark with quotes from The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Serpent King.
  • A magnet with a quote from the Percy Jackson series.
There's also a preview for next month's theme: FEARSOME FAIRY TALES. Can't wait!


Thank you so much for reading this unboxing post. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

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Friday, December 1, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

TITLE: An Enchantment of Ravens

AUTHOR: Margaret Rogerson

GENRE: fantasy, romance

PLOT SUMMARY: Isobel is a painter, which makes her highly coveted by the fair folk. The fair folk can't create Craft, be it paintings, writing, or even food, without crumbling into dust, so artists such as Isobel are highly prized. After taking on her first royal patron, Rook, prince of the autumn court, however, Isobel gets herself into a bigger mess than she can imagine. When Isobel paints genuine emotion in Rook's portrait -- a weakness that could cost him his throne -- he spirits her away to the world of the fair folk so she can stand trial. However, there are forces at play much greater than Isobel or Rook anticipated, and the two are forced to work together for their own survival.

FIRST THOUGHTS: I bought this book for two reasons. One: Regan of PeruseProject spoke highly of it. (Hi, Regan, if you're reading this! Big fan!) Two: The cover is simply beautiful. Buying books based on the cover art or based on another review has backfired on me before, so I really wasn't sure how it'd work out for me this time. However, I'm happy to report that it turned out great! I've always loved stories focusing on fairies, and I especially enjoyed this book's unique lore and worldbuilding. It did take me longer than usual to get through this book (thank you, finals season), but I enjoyed every page.

THOUGHTS ON PLOT: I don't normally enjoy books that are primarily romance-based, but this proved to be an exception. I was especially surprised by how much I enjoyed the book's Forbidden Love™ aspect, since in most YA books, it comes off as lame and forced. But it didn't in this case; Rook and Isobel being together will cause actual problems, far greater than pissing a few people off. The stakes are high, and that's what makes the book work. "Star-crossed lovers" stories are only compelling if there are real reasons why they can't be together. I also really enjoyed the story's focus on the politics on the fairy world, and the road trip Rook and Isobel take through the enchanted forest. I wasn't expecting the plot to go the direction it ended up in, but I really liked it.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: Isobel is a mixed bag as a protagonist. There's a lot to like about her -- she's smart, self-assured, and noble. However, she's also very lowkey, which isn't bad in itself, but it means that she does get overshadowed by the other characters. I really liked Rook -- when I read the book's synopsis, I expected him to be the aloof asshole love interest that YA uses so often, but he wasn't like that at all. Haughty, sure, but in a clueless, ridiculous way, rather than an annoying emo way. I just really liked how genuinely nice he is, a couple stress-induced outbursts aside. The side characters in this book were also lovely, especially Gadlfy, one of Isobel's eclectic patrons, and Aster, who's surprisingly complex and sympathetic for her limited pagetime.

7 / 10

THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: By far this book's strongest aspect is its prose. The writing and narration are simply beautiful. It reminded me a bit of Laini Taylor's works, especially with the descriptions of the world and Isobel's paintings. I also really enjoyed the worldbuilding and the way the "rules" of this universe were established. It never felt infodumpy, but you were always given enough background to know what was happening, which isn't always easy, especially since our protagonist grew up in this world, and isn't learning as she goes. I've never read anything by Rogerson before, but I'm definitely interested in checking out anything else she's put out, especially any other fantasy.

8 / 10

THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: Like many books, this is an example of a story that isn't politically offensive... but it's also not progressive. There are no POC or queer characters in the story, which is disappointingly common in YA fantasy. (Seriously, though -- what is it about fantasy that makes people completely skimp on the diversity department? You can have dragons and fairies and witches, but not gay or black people?) It's not bad, politically speaking, but it's not good. Books like Six of Crows, The Hearts We Sold, and The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue have really raised the bar when it comes to diversity in YA fiction and fantasy, and I hope that more books will meet it in the future.

4 / 10

FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a delightful little book. While I can't make any promises at the moment, it's definitely a contender for my upcoming "best of 2017" list. Is it perfect? No, but no book is. I still enjoyed every page, and I think you will, too. I believe it's going to be a standalone, but honestly, I would welcome more stories set in this world. If you like fantasy, road trip stories, or forbidden romances, I'd recommend you check it out.

FINAL GRADE: 6.5 / 10


Thank you so much for reading this review. If you liked it and would like to support my work, click on either of the buttons below to donate -- Buy Me a Coffee is a small, one-time donation, but becoming a Patron has several benefits and rewards. Either way, it's a huge help to me. A special thanks to those of you that choose to contribute!

If you've read An Enchantment of Ravens, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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