Wednesday, January 17, 2018

List-Style Review: Reign the Earth

Title: Reign the Earth (The Elementae, #1)
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: January 30th, 2018!
*I picked up a physical ARC from ALA annual.

From Goodreads...
Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.

But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumors of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

This intense, richly drawn high-fantasy by the author of Scarlet will hold readers spellbound. 

My Review!
The latter half of the book was a hell of a lot better than the first, but I just was so apathetic at that point, that I didn't care about anything? Because, let's see...

-lazy worldbuilding
-patriarchal fantasy, women are property, only good for having babies, etc, etc
-physically and emotionally abusive husband to the MC (TW for those who need it, it is awful)
-underdeveloped romance, with strong pressure on a "connection" from the very beginning that it felt forced
-idea from the Trifectate (the Bonelands) that queer people should be sacrificed to their god, which saddened me as all hell because I thought there could be something more between two characters, and it didn't happen
-very little focus on the actual elemental powers that Calix so desires removed from the world
-villain that feels one-dimensional

HOWEVER. There were a few positives for me:

-because while it did have the above, and it made me so mad at times, it became a fight story for Shalia. She stood up for herself, and took back her agency. It was a feminist song that made me so HAPPY. And I loved that the MC found her footing and her strength and that she chose herself. It was a healing power that changed a lot of the tone of the book. It just wasn't enough to make me love this.
-Kairos, desert dragon, clever and protective and mysterious and *heart eyes*
-strong focus on family! Shalia's got six brothers who love her very much, and her friend, Kata, and other people she meets along the way who remind her that family isn't always the one you're born with

And, like, I don't always mind cookie-cutter fantasies or the reappearances of tired and unoriginal tropes. But the author didn't really try to make anything different here; it was like she just took bits and pieces of other fantasy books and put them together. And I was so confused by what this world was even trying to be. SO DISAPPOINTED. But something did keep me turning the pages, and like I said, the second half of the book was better. I will be reading the sequel for (spoilery) reasons. Plus with how it ended, I feel the story will start to develop into its own, and it'll outshine its predecessor.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Let's Talk Statistics and Book Buying

So when 2017 started, I decided to use Crini from All About Books' spreadsheet for keeping track of the books I read and acquired throughout the year (and which I started doing again for 2018). And whoa boy, am I a terrible spender when it comes to books. I'm not going to talk about the amount I spent, but I do want to talk about why I'm glad to have these statistics, and what I want to do differently for this year. But first, y'all can take a look at the pie chart I made from the spreadsheet because looking at pictures is fun. :D

As you can tell, the largest portion of books I acquired were bought. 219, to be exact. But to be fair to myself, the majority of those were ebooks. I buy A LOT of those when they go on sale because it's easier, and what if I end up not liking the book? The most I lose out on is like $2.99. So I don't feel *too* bad about it, and I didn't spend much on them. But I also did acquire a ton of physical books that are crowding everywhere.

My spending habits need a hard, quick intervention. I am now at a point where I have to do a huge purge of books soon, because I'm losing shelf space and honestly, so many of these I don't *need* to keep especially if I'm not even sure I'll read them. Tracking my progress with the spreadsheet actually did a lot to help me out during the year. I was able to look at my spending, and put myself on mini buying bans. I couldn't go on one completely, and frankly I don't want to. I love supporting authors. But I do need to spend less. So here are some questions I'm going to ask myself to make my book buying habits in 2018 better.

1. Did I love the book? Like I said, I'm running out of empty space on the shelves. So I'm going to have to get rid of those that I enjoyed, or liked, because I don't have room for the ones I didn't love or that aren't favorites. And I'd rather have multiple editions of an all-time favorite book or series than keep around a book I gave 3 stars to anyway. Which brings me to:

2. Is it a special, exclusive edition that might go out of print? Yes? Then I'm buying that fucker. But if it's a no, then there's no point. Yet. I've kicked myself before after losing out on editions I wanted because they went out of print faster than I anticipated, and I hate that. As a collector of favorite series/authors/books, that just hurts my heart. But if it's something that's common, that is just a regular hardcover or paperback, then I don't need it right this second.

3. How much have I already spent this month? Too many times I hit that checkout button before thinking about whether or not I could've bought the book the next month, or a few months from now. Unless it's a sale or a preorder or special for some reason, then waiting wouldn't be a problem. SO YEAH, LET'S WAIT MORE.

4. Do I already own it? Sometimes I am bad, and I might pick up cheap kindle books even if I own a physical. Or an ARC. Or I might grab another edition I love of a book I haven't even read. I told you it's bad. 🙈 Anyway, it's not often the reason for me buying a book, but it can be, and that is enough for it to end. I don't have space for this!

5. Am I *really* going to read that book? I read like maybe three for every ten I buy. And that's just... ridiculous? Unless the book was cheap on kindle, then what was the point if I hadn't planned to read it before the year ended? Of course I won't get to everything. It's unrealistic to expect that. But for many of these books, they weren't quite at the top of my TBR, so I didn't have to buy them right that second. So this is a huge question I need to constantly ask myself. I do feel like I've gotten better about this specifically, but it's a work-in-progress. 

So yeah, here's to better spending in 2018! WISH ME LUCK. :D Is this one of your goals for the new year too? Or are you a wizard who is very good at the book buying thing? Let's talk!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

(91) Top Ten 2017 Releases I Didn't Read But Plan to This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topicTen Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn't Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)

1. Want
I've heard SO many good things about this, but I still haven't read it because I'm not sure it'll be for me. Anything near-future, post-apocalyptic scares me right now, but I do still want to give it a try at some point.

2. Dress Codes for Small Towns
I loved Courtney's debut, Faking Normal, and I love that this one is centered on gender and sexuality, so why didn't I read it in 2017? I don't know, honestly, but it WILL happen this year.

3. Wonder Woman: Warbringer
I feel like I'm kind of cheating adding this one just because I did read the first chapter. But it just wasn't what I wanted to read at the time, so I put it off. Plus it's weird reading a non-Grisha book from Leigh. 

4. Warcross
I'm holding off on this one until the sequel comes out so I can binge-read them. It'll be one of my series for my series-a-month challenge! 

5. They Both Die at the End
I'm a little scared of Adam's books, not gonna lie. Everyone says they sob and their hearts break. And though I did try MHTN and couldn't get into it, I still want to read this one. The premise is fascinating!

6. Flame in the Mist
This is another one I WILL definitely read because it's for my series-a-month challenge. I'm a little nervous because I've heard suuuper mixed things about it (and I loved, loved, loved Wrath/Rose), which is why I put it off in the first place. So, we'll see!

7. The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding
I loved Alexandra's Wayfarer duology, and got excited for her MG debut. But I still haven't read it yet. Hoping to this year!

8. Ramona Blue
I've heard such great things about this book, and I'm so happy that it features a bisexual MC, so it's high-up on my TBR!

9. The Pearl Thief
I absolutely loved Code Name Verity, even though it broke me. So when I heard about this, I just about died of happiness. But I'M SO TERRIFIED OF IT. I don't know if I'm ready? It's gonna make me ugly-sob, I just know it.

10. Until It Fades
K.A. Tucker is one of my favorite authors, so I really don't know why I didn't get to this book in 2017, except that I wasn't reading much romance/NA. But I really hope to get to it this year!

I deeeefinitely plan to get to these books this year (I hope). Which ones did YOU miss in 2017? Any of these make your list? Let's talk! :)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The 2017 End of Year Survey

2017 is *finally* finished, so that means it's time to do my end-of-year survey, hosted by Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner! YAY, I LOVE DOING THIS.


Number Of Books You Read: 161
Number of Re-Reads: 25 (DAMN, bigger number than I was expecting)
Genre You Read The Most From: fantasy!

1. Best book you read In 2017?
for the story: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
for the personal: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
Given to the Sea. Like holy shit what a disappointment. It was a 2-star read for me, and I wanted to cry because I love Mindy McGinnis. But, well, it just did not work for me. Hoping the sequel is better! Also Lucky in Love. Again, another fave author of mine (Kasie West). Another unbelievable disappointment.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I'd heard such great things about it going in, but I was surprised by just how much I came to love it, and how much I could relate to the MC. Also Girls Made of Snow and Glass. I feel like that came out of nowhere, and I ended up loving it even though it took me a long time to finish.

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did)?
Rashika said I gave her a small push toward Letters to the Lost, so YAY. But also I think I did more general Twitter pushing, and so didn't end up actually getting people to read books specifically because of me. So I'm gonna fix that in 2018! I'm slacking.

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best sequel of 2017? Best series ender of 2017?
Series Started: Daughter of the Pirate King
Best Sequel: Every Word and The Winner's Crime
Best Series Ender: A Conjuring of Light and The Fallen Kingdom

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?
Santino Hassell! I have read so many of his books now, ever since falling in love with his writing in Illegal Contact. I love how gritty, and honest, and real his books are. I see myself catching up to his backlist very, very soon. Haha.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Unearthed, because it's science fiction. I'm not really a sci-fi person, but I so enjoyed this book!

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Missing by Kelley Armstrong and This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis. I literally could not put either of them down until I finished. I HAD to know what would happen!

9. Book you read in 2017 that you are most likely to reread next year?
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. Also, I'm hoping to reread Wild Beauty, because it was just so wonderful.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

11. Most memorable character of 2017?
Monty from The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. I loved this precious bisexual rogue so much.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?
Wild Beauty was GORGEOUS. No one has a prose quite like Anna-Marie McLemore.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2017?
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I expect this to be on ALL the lists. It is, inarguably, a damn good book. And it has, and will continue, to change lives.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 
Vicious by Victoria Schwab. Like omg it was so good.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read In 2017?
"I have my own soul and my own destiny, and I'm tired of belonging to someone else." -Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

"Anger was a wall to hide grief behind." -Hunting Prince Dracula

bonus word: anoshe, from A Conjuring of Light = until another day.

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2017?
Beyond Denial by Kit Rocha at 15 pages
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at 870 pages

17. Book that shocked you the most?
Gray Wolf Island. I just was not expecting anything how the book turned out.

Mycroft and Watts from the Every series. These two are partners in every aspect. They are friends, lovers, amateur sleuth detectives, and they know each other so well. Their romance was one of my favorite parts of this series!
Kiaran and Aileana from The Falconer Trilogy (I wanted to add them in, even though I started this series last year and it felt like cheating, but OH WELL I JUST LOVE THEM SO MUCH)

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
Gideon and Noah from Foolish Hearts. I loved their friendship, and how they had each other's backs, and how they've known each other forever. Also they introduce each other to people with, "He's the best person I know." *dies of feels*

20. Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you’ve read previously?
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord. But also Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, which was SO good.

21. Best book you read in 2017 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure?
Starfish, which I would've read anyway, but with the hype in the community, and my friend Val RAVING over it, I devoured the book sooner than I would've. And I'm so, so happy I did because it was one of my favorites from this year.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?
Luka from Infini by KB Ritchie. Also love Mad from the Beyond series (Kit Rocha). But they aren't fictional crushes. I don't think I quite got that this year.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I loved the two main characters, and their adorable-as-fuck romance, and I can't wait to read more of her books!

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. No one does the fantastical like Laini. Her descriptions make me feel as if I'm there, and all I wanted while reading this story was to go to Weep myself.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?
the Meet Cute anthology. I loved it. 

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017?
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. UGLY-SOBBED SO HARD.

27. Hidden gem of the year?
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. I know it juuust came out in December, but it has had so little hype and I know that people are going to forget about it because it's not a big title.

28. Book that crushed your soul?
A Conjuring of Light. I'm still dying over that ending.

29. Most unique book you read in 2017?
I read a book about female serial killers! Lady Killers by Tori Telfer. It was super interesting. I also read some feminist books about badass women of history.

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen. Gah, I just seriously did not like it. The ~villain~ pissed me off, and I didn't find the world that unique, and ugh. I wanted to love it, though. 

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?
I, um, didn't discover any new blogs that I bookmarked or added to my blogroll. WHOOPS.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?
Probably my review for A Conjuring of Light, which was basically just a love letter to Holland. I'm not sorry.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
Seeing Harry Potter Through Adult Eyes (more a discussion than review)
a playlist for the Keeping the Moon blog tour
and summer activities I wanted to do inspired by Along for the Ride

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
ALA midwinter and ALA annual with the best people.
Also, I went to Leigh Bardugo's The Language of Thorns tour stop. 

It was a GREAT year for bookish events for me. I feel so lucky to have been able to attend all of them!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
I got auto-approval on NetGalley for Simon and Schuster! :D

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Balancing the new job, the different hours, with blogging. I work second shift, 2 p.m. to midnight, so not only am I away from the community during the hours when everyone's awake, but I don't have time for reading or writing during those days. So all of my blogging has ended up on the weekends, which hasn't been bad, necessarily. But it's been hard when I don't have the energy or time. I think I've gotten a lot better at it, but there were low days and low months. I hope 2018 brings more sunshine!

7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
The post where I talked about my uncontrollable TBR and ways in which I keep it down/organized was one of my more popular ones.

8. Post you wished got a little more love?
My blog tour stop for Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. I shared my favorite Shakespeare quotes, and related them to the book. I was so proud of it and wish it'd gotten just a bit more love.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Again, I don't think I discovered anything new book-related this year. SAD.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Yup! I surpassed my Goodreads goal of 100. I also read a series a month again, and plan to continue that in 2018. :D

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2017 but will be your number 1 priority in 2018?
Want by Cindy Pon and Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo are high on my to-read list. I meant to get to them in 2017, but WELL. Hopefully this year! :p

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut)?
SO. MANY. Dance of Thieves probably the most, though, because of how much I loved the Remnant Chronicles. Also Anna-Marie McLemore's Blanca & Roja.

3. 2018 debut you are most anticipating?
Children of Blood and Bone, for sure. It sounds AMAZING.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2018?
Restore Me, which I'm nervous about but omg more of Juliette and Warner YAY.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2018?
I would LOVE to be asked to blurb a book. It is honestly one of the last things on my blogger bucket list. I doubt it would ever happen, but one can dream, right?

6. A 2018 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone?
Meet Cute was so effing cute. Unearthed was enjoyable, and so was The Hazel Wood

If y'all did the end of year survey too, link me please! I want to read your post. :)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Hello, 2018

2017 was A Year. But it was not the worst year I've ever had. It was filled with both good and bad things. It was a mix of me opening up and closing back down. It was a mess of tangled feelings about people I thought were better and who loved me as much as I love them. It was days filled with anxiety and depression because the future looked too bleak to feel okay about. It was... a year of strife and hurt and lows.

But it was also a year for small triumphs and accomplishments, for demanding better for myself and focusing on me. It was a year for growth and learning. In a lot of aspects. In the work place and at home, in the blogging world and in my personal life. Not always, but little by little, I felt myself growing closer to who I want to be. I'm nowhere near where I wanted to be, going into this year and on the track to my 25th birthday. But I can't be too upset, because I feel like I've gotten to a point of healing. Finally. Depressive spirals made it harder, and so did people who disappointed me greatly, but I'm ready to take the next steps in 2018. 

So, I guess if I had to pick a word or two for this year, they'd be striving toward and working. On myself, my relationships, my goals in general. Trying harder, making more progress in life. It doesn't have to be huge or constant. I just need to keep moving forward. One step at a time. One day a time. One moment at a time.

I'm not really into resolutions anymore, because I never work at them or complete them. I always mean to, but it doesn't happen, and I just don't care enough now. But I do have things that I'd like to accomplish. Let this be the post that holds me accountable for my words and starts 2018 off on a hopeful note.

 Finish writing a damn book! I'm getting close with my NaNo WIP, but not quite there yet! I'm also over 10k into a newish story that I am loving. My most ambitious goal would be to start the query process, and find an agent. But I have to actually get to that point, you know? Here's to chasing my dream in 2018!

It's my ultimate goal, really my only goal. But there are a few smaller things that I want to try to do/get better at this year as well:

♕ teach myself how to braid
♕ post reviews on buy sites, especially for underrated and diverse books
♕ give therapy a try
actually work at getting healthy, both mentally and physically
♕ be kinder to myself
♕ make and use graphics more
♕ check in with people I care about often
♕ keep my room clean

Hey guys, what are some of your goals/resolutions for 2018? Are you happy that a new year has started? Sad? Let's talk about it! <3

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

(90) Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topicTop Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2017

1. Santino Hassell
I've been breezing through his backlist, and omg I love his stories. They're gritty, realistic, and very, very queer. He's a great romance writer.

2. Brandy Colbert
I loooved this book, and I'm very excited for her upcoming one. I also own a copy of her first novel, so I'm gonna read that this year!

3. Rick Riordan
Now I understand why everyone loves PJ, and Rick's writing. The series is fun, and I'm definitely gonna read the next ones!

4. Mackenzi Lee
This book became one of my all-time favorite reads, and I've got like all of her upcoming ones on my to-read list. 

5. Ellie Marney
This series is everything to me, and Ellie's made it onto my auto-buy list. I still haven't read No Limits yet, but I'm looking forward to it, and her book out in March.

6. Marie Rutkoski
Though I didn't super love her Winners trilogy, I was a fan of her writing, and how cunning the series was. I'm definitely gonna be reading more of her books!

Debut Authors:
7. Tricia Levenseller
Her book was HILARIOUS and so fun, so I can't wait to read the sequel.

8. Melissa Bashardoust
This book snuck up on me, and I was surprised by how much I loved it. Though it was a slower read, it was one that was very well-written. I want MORE.

9. Sandhya Menon
This contemporary was SO great, and adorable, and I loved Dimple and Rishi a lot. I'm so looking forward to more books from Sandhya!

10. Akemi Dawn Bowman
Starfish is one of the biggest surprises of this year for me. I related so much to Kiko, and I loved how Akemi tackled this story. Her second book is high up on my most anticipated list!

Who were some of YOUR new-to-you authors in 2017? Did any of these ones make your list? Let's talk! :)

Monday, January 1, 2018

January 2018 Releases

2018 is here! omg can you guys believe it? We made it through 2017! Relatively in one piece, but hey, we take the victories when we can get them. And yay, because it's a whole new year for books! I've a feeling this year is going to be AMAZING in that regard.

January 2nd

January 9th

January 16th

January 23rd

January 30th

I've already read: SO MANY. Unearthed, which I highly enjoyed. The Hazel Wood and Blood and Sand, both of which were certainly good though I'm not quite sure if I loved them. I really liked The Cruel Prince. I disliked Reign of the Earth SO MUCH. But I looooved the Meet Cute anthology. It's my favorite of those I've read. 

From NetGalley/ALA/publishers: Down by Contact, You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone, and A Quiet Kind of Thunder (which I think is being re-published). I'm SO excited about all of them and hope to read them this month. Also still need to read Gunslinger Girl, which sounds all kinds of awesome.

My most anticipated: quite a few of these! Love, Hate & Other Filters, Reign of the Fallen, and Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue are at the top of my list! I can't wait to read all three of them. :D

What January releases are YOU most excited about? Did I miss any books that should be on my radar? Let's talk! :)