The State of the Reader: 3/8/17

<–The State of the Reader: 3/1/17          The State of the Reader: 3/15/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and where I am with them in addition to what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads to make it easier for interested parties to add any books that might strike their fancy.  I attempt to use the covers for the edition I’m reading, and I’ll mention if this is not the case.  If you have a Goodreads account feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Finished This Week: 2

Title: The Dream Thieves
Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Added: January 23, 2017
Date Started: January 26, 2017
Date Finished: March 4, 2017
Reading Duration: 37 days

The second book in the series was a bit slower and just a tad weaker than the first.  This is not to say there weren’t parts that sent a chill down my spine and a thrill through my heart, but Ronan is a tough character to follow.  He does reckless things that are both hard to explain and difficult to understand even knowing his situation.  You feel bad for him, but then you grow exasperated with him due to his acerbic nature and cutting attitude.  He’s of “beg for forgiveness instead of ask for permission” crowd, acts on impulse, and doesn’t seem to care about the fallout.

I’m going to try to review this by next weekend.  That will give it time to marinate in my mind so I can better express my thoughts.

Title: “Beta Reading”
Author: High School Friend/Fellow Author
Date Added: N/A
Date Started: February 14, 2017
Date Finished: March 4, 2017
Reading Duration: 18 days
Media: PDF/Kindle

I finished my friend’s wonderful novel and am now left with an issue.  I have nothing bad to say about it.  You’re probably thinking this is a good thing, but as I said last week, writers thrive on constructive criticism and I don’t have any to give.  Besides some minor typos, there’s nothing I’d change about the narrative.  The only thing I can possibly question is his audience.  I believe this is supposed to be a YA, but there’s some language and one particularly graphic scene.  However, The Dream Thieves is also apparently YA and it has strong language, too.  Regardless what I’m going to say, I’m happy and honored I was able to read this, and I can’t wait to see it on bookshelves.

Update: I sent him my feedback through FB messenger, and he was genuinely delighted.  This is a polished edition of the story, so he was quite happy that I didn’t find any major issues.  He also sent me the companion book to this one, which I’m excited to read so I can get the other side of the story.

Books Purchased This Week: 2

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Added: March 4, 2017
Date Purchased: March 4, 2017

Media: Kindle
Price: $5.99
Retailer: Amazon

Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Series Title: Gentlemen Bastards
Author: Scott Lynch
Date Added: October 11, 2012
Date Purchased: March 7, 2017

Media: Kindle
Price: $1.99
Retailer: Amazon

I was going through my downloaded-prior bookshelf on GR just to see if anything was on Amazon (Kindle) for cheap.  I almost bought another book that was $2.99, but decided to keep my limit at under $2.00.  There are still some situations where a physical copy is less expensive than Kindle.  In this case though, the price was more than right for a book that’s also on my really-want-to-read shelf.

Books Currently Reading: 5

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Added: March 4, 2017
Date Started: March 5, 2017

Media: Kindle
Progress: 12%

In karaoke there’s a concept called “sing and bring.”  It entails bringing up the next song you want to sing when you’re name is called to sing the last song you put in.  For some reason, I’m thinking about that as I read and add these books.  In all honesty, I consider this series just one long story.  As I finish the last, I immediately buy and add the next.  I’m hoping this installment delves into Blue’s origins.  We were given drips and drops about it in the first; absolutely no mention of it in the second (since that concerned Ronan), so I’m hoping we discover more about her elusive father with the ridiculous nickname.  I have my own theories about him, but we’ll see if I’m right when I read it.

Title: The Quantum Door
Author: Jonathon Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: February 18, 2016
Date Started: March 3, 2017

Media: Kindle
Progress: 20%

This novel reminds me great of Strange Things.  Power outages, parallel universes, strange girls.  The main characters are two brothers, and I’ve found that sometimes if characters are too similar, it can be difficult to keep track, but Brady is the elder and more cautious, while Felix is the adventurous child prodigy.  I’m excited to see where this goes.  The tension just keeps tightening.

Title: Prospero Lost
Series Title: Prospero’s Daughter
Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter
Date Added: June 19, 2016
Date Started: February 11, 2017

Media: Hardback
Progress: 34%

I’m kind of in a stride with this book.  It doesn’t overly excite me to read it, but I don’t dread when it’s in the rotation, and it’s kind of a “Hm, I wonder what the Prospero siblings are up to now.”  It’s like catching up with friends who have hobbies that aren’t your interest, but you care about them, because they’re their hobbies.  Like The Quantum Door, the author manages to differentiate the siblings so that I don’t have to constantly remind myself who’s who, though so far there have only been two others introduced besides the main character Miranda.

Title: The Illustrated A Brief History of Time/The Universe in a Nutshell
Author: Stephen Hawking
Date Added: June 25, 2016
Date Started: January 2, 2016

Media: Paperback
Progress: 34%

I have a bit of a confession…I’m starting to lose interest in this book.  I know. I know.  I’ve been talking about studying astrophysics and quantum physics, so how dare I falter a book about the same.  It’s certainly not a slight on Professor Hawking’s writing, but he has such a brilliant mind that I have to concentrate fully in order to absorb all of the information, and for many reasons, my mind tends to wander, and concentration can be a difficult beast to catch.  I do wonder how I would do with this topic in a classroom setting.  I’m going to keep reading especially since I’m almost finished the first part.  What I may do is read that, which I’d count as one book (this version just happens to have both), and then I’d read another reference book in the interim (The Hyrule Historia.  I already know) before returning to read The Universe in a Nutshell.  I’d figure out the logistics on Goodreads later.

Title: The Mabinogion Tetralogy
Author: Evangeline Walton
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: July 31, 2016

Medium: Paperback
Progress: 67%

So the king found out what his asshole nephews did, but it was at the end of a chapter.  The poor handmaiden told him, and he not only believed her, but made her his own queen and promised vengeance.  I cannot wait to read the next chapter.  Oh, you have no idea how much I love righteous vengeance (if you’re reading myThe Broken Rose fanfiction, you’ll find out in a later chapter.  Shit.  Gets.  Real).

Fanfictions Finished: 0

Fanfictions Currently Reading: 1

Title: I’m the Darkness, You’re the Starlight
Author: runicmagitek
Fandom: FFVI
Pairing: Celes Chere/Setzer Gabbiani

No chapter updates for a while, per her last reply to my comment.  She has to take care of some personal shenanigans (which I totally understand) so like I do to so many of my readers, I shall have to wait.

Fanfictions Added to TBR List: 0

Books Added to Goodreads TBR List This Week: 4

Title: Traitor’s Blade
Series Title: Greatcoats
Author: Sebastian de Castell
Date Added: March 5, 2017

There’s a kick ass review of this over on Cupcakes and Machetes’ blog, and it was so, er, explosive (you’ll understand how dirty that joke was if you go to her blog.  I’m a mess…hahaha *gross*) I had to add this book.  Plus the series is called Greatcoats.  I love greatcoats aka long coats aka badass longcoats.

Title: Descendants
Series Title: The Arete Series
Author: Rae Else
Date Added: March 5, 2017

I had the honor of being asked by another author to beta read their work, this one in the form of an eArc.  I downloaded it on my Kindle this evening and am going to try to get to it before release date April 12.  Either way, I’m going to purchase to support the author whose blog (and the post about the book in question) can be found here!

Title: Gathering Blue
Series Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Date Added: March 7. 2017

I had no idea The Giver had a sequel and was a series (I think there are least four books in it).  I read the series opener a long time ago back in high school, and I have not seen the movie.  I liked the book’s ending.  It was ambiguous, bittersweet, and made sense for the type of novel it was.  I heard the movie went a different direction, because people tend to like happy endings.  Since I haven’t seen it, I can’t really judge whether or not this was a good move.

I was going through all of the books I’ve marked as read on Goodreads, and it’s less than 400!  I’ve read many more books than that, but memory is not always kind to the Shameful Narcissist, so while I’m pretty sure I’ve read over a thousand books, fucked if I can remember what they are.  I can envision my high school’s library, and I’m trying to imagine myself walking through the sections I used to haunt in an attempt to recall the books I found and read there.  I’m trying the same thing with my old local library and bookstore.  What I could do is look at the books I’ve read on Amazon and see what the recommendations are in an attempt to jog my memory.  This will have to be another organizational project though.

Either way, I added a bunch of Ms. Lowry’s Anastasia series, which I read ad nauseum as a teenager (if you haven’t read her Autumn Street do it.  It’s a book about racism as seen through the eyes of a child), and that’s when I noticed this unknown series for a book I read years ago.

Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner
Date Added: March 8, 2017

A Beauty and the Beast retelling that comes with high acclaim, or at least one of my Goodreads’ friends gave it high marks.  It’s average rating is above 4.00, which means quite a few people found it worthy.  I love fairy tale retellings, and I use fairy tales a lot in my own works both fanfiction and original, so finding one is almost always an insta-add.  I like to see how other authors shuffle the well known narrative and tropes around, and I’m obviously not above doing a bit of shuffling myself.

Total Books on Goodreads TBR List: 443
Change from Last Week: +3

A Sample Question

So I download samples to my Kindle and decide what to keep, what to put on my really-want-to-read shelf, and what to put in my passed-based-on-sample shelf.  I don’t include these because I generally don’t talk about books I’ve removed, and anything I put on an additional shelf is already on my TBR list.  I could start including what samples I’ve downloaded if you’d be interested in that.  Since I’d be talking about what either attracts me to or repels me from a book, it could make for some interesting conversation.  Let me know your thoughts down below!

What are you currently reading and/or what’s on your radar to read next?  What would you recommend based on my current and recently added?  As always I look forward to your comments and suggestions!

<–The State of the Reader: 3/1/17          The State of the Reader: 3/15/17–>








A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses


Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Series Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Date Added: June 15, 2016
Date Started: November 19, 2016
Date Finished: January 22, 2017
Reading Duration: 64 days
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

Pages: 416
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Media: Paperback

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

When I first started this novel, I was immediately hooked by Ms. Maas’s compelling writing style.  Each chapter ended in such a way to nearly force you to read the next, and I devoured the initial offerings in a very short amount of time.  The realm of fairy and the human world were starkly delineated, though the former and far more powerful High Fae were a constant threat to humanity held at minimal bay only by an oft mentioned treaty.

I’m beginning to hate this phrase now, but Feyre is (initially at least) a great example of a “strong, female character,” the sole provider for her broken and impoverished family that she’s sworn to care for based on a promise she made to her now deceased mother.  Her father was severely injured by his debtors, and her sisters  are far too softly raised to do what she does, though I was impressed by how Maas threw me for a loop with her one, Nesta’s, true nature.

It’s not quite accurate to say that things go awry after Feyre kills he wolf, because subsisting hand to mouth in a run down cottage is not exactly prime living, but Tamlin taking her away means that Feyre’s family has lost their only means of survival, and the 19 year old huntress is now supposedly forsworn.  The lord of the Spring Court; however, eventually assures her that her father and sisters are now well provided for, relieving Feyre of both her vow and life’s burden in addition to allowing the young woman time and opportunity to pursue the painting endeavors she so loves.

Despite using the name “Tamlin,” Thorns and Roses has more of a Beauty and the Beast vibe to it rather than the fore mentioned.  Though Tam isn’t trapped in beast form, there is a nefarious spell laid upon his Court and its people that only Feyre can break.

Unfortunately, Maas’s exceptional writing cannot make up for certain lacks.  In Chapter 18 out of the blue, Feyre suddenly ceases her rampant hatred for Tamlin in the rose garden and is suddenly attracted to him.  There was no build up to this (that I could see) in any of the chapters before.  The enemies to lovers trope can be a beast to pull off, because it’s so common, but generally you have one if not both parties torn between their physical attraction against rampant hatred or mistrust of the other.  Then when the person does something that flies in the face of hatred/mistrust, the other begins to see them in a new light, bolstered by their already established attraction.  Or you do it as a slow, gradual change of heart.  It’s so quick in this story it comes off as unauthentic.  It makes Tamlin *spoiler* sending her home in Chapter 27 *end spoiler* so no one will hurt her due to what she means to him have less of an impact, because it really hasn’t been shown.

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