Weekly Reading Recap

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So much Olympics watching this week. It’s a lot of fun. And also a lot of nail-biting.

Currently reading: Puddin

Finished reading: Arcadia AwakensBookish BoyfriendsShip Itlost in a book

Reviewed: Onyx and Ivory

What I’m hoping to get to next week: FurybornAcademy to read

Bookish BoyfriendsShip It to review

Books read it 2018: 30

Debut authors read for 2018: 13

Contemporary: 14

Fantasy: 9

Sci-Fi: 2

Dystopian: 3

Historical: 1

Misc: 1

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Top Ten Tuesday

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Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish, and has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten books I’ve decided I’m no longer interested in reading. I did a spin on this one since I usually refuse to say I’ve lost interest, even if it’s been five years since buying it;) I did Top Ten topics/issues in books that could make me walk away(if I DNF’d books).

10. Cheating with no repercussions. Love triangles are so common in books that if there’s no physical cheating, there’s usually emotional cheating. It’s a plot device, I get it. But when a new couple emerges because of cheating, I find it hard to root for that couple.

9. Bad representation. Everyone has their own opinions on what this is. Hopefully with more ownvoices authors the good will shine through.

8. Abuse that’s not recognized as abuse. It doesn’t have to be physical but the “bad boy with a secret soft side” trope can definitely turn into emotional and verbal abuse and it’s not okay.

7. Needless character death. I get attached very often to amazing side characters who always seem to be expendable to the series. The lead needs motivation? Kill the best friend. Chosen one getting too cocky? Kill the mentor. It happens, I know it’s going to happen, but that doesn’t mean I don’t set the book down and walk away for a bit(or throw it) when it does happen.

6. Over the top descriptions. I have an imagination. I can use it. Unless it’s super important to the plot to name every shade of every colour found in some character’s bedspread, I can probably get by with multi-coloured pattern.

5. Slooooooooooooow. I don’t need action scenes every five pages but there needs to be something happening so the plot doesn’t feel stagnant. If I read five chapters and it feel like only a minute went by in the book’s world, it might feel like I’m in for a really long read.

4. Animal cruelty. Be nice to animals.

3. Chosen One trope. This one is just feeling really overdone but it can still be so good that I give it a chance. I just like when there’s reasons to why someone is the chosen one as opposed to them being the chosen one because they’re the chosen one.

2. No character growth. There needs to be character growth, even if it’s small. If the main character is still exactly the same on the last page as they are on the first page, what was the point of reading 300 pages of their journey.

  1. Author. If the author is a horrible person, I won’t buy their books.

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Book Review: Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Onyx and Ivory

Onyx & Ivory

Release date: May 15th 2018

4 stars

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.
The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.
With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.

Every time I read a new Mindee Arnett series, I feel like it hooks me even more quickly than the last did. The synopsis of this one sounded really interesting, maybe a little similar to other fantasy novels, but I was confident Mindee Arnett would put a spin on it that would make me love it. And I did. The history, the world-building, and the characters were more than enough to make up for the tropes used and I found myself getting sucked deeper and deeper into the story the more I read, which was exactly what should happen.

It was told in the two POVs of Kate and Corwin. Kate, nicknamed Traitor Kate due to her father’s attempt to kill the king a few years before, tried to stay under the radar working as a member of the Relay. She had the power to connect with animals, understand them, control them, though she only used her powers when absolutely necessary. Her magic, like many others, was forbidden and if she were caught, it would be death. Corwin was the second born son of the king, childhood friend of Kate before her father tried to kill his, and someone who never expected to contend for the throne. Their paths collide during Corwin’s peacekeeping tour and it really ended up changing everything. I enjoyed both these characters, together and separate. Kate was strong, determined to find the truth about why her father tried to kill the king, his friend, and she bravely went back to the city where it all happened even though she knew the reception she would get. Corwin was battling some demons and unsure about his ability to lead, feeling unworthy of the throne he’ll likely never have anyway. I liked how these two were childhood friends who knew each other better than anyone but, after the event with their fathers and a few years apart where they both changed, they were almost strangers. There were so many moments to remind us how close they used to be and just how much their relationship had changed.

I absolutely loved the supporting cast. Mindee Arnett is so great at writing supporting characters that I love just as much as the leads. Kate’s friends Tom Bonner and Signe were so loyal but they also had great stories on their own. They weren’t there just to support Kate. Tom was like a brother and Signe was her hilarious, never boring best friend. Corwin’s best friend Dal made up the last of their group and he as well was more than simply a character to prop up Corwin. He was the last born son of a low Lord, always quick with a joke and looking for adventure. They were a great group with interesting dynamics and that’s something I will always love in books.

The plot had a lot of key components. Kate’s search for the truth about her father, the nightdrakes/daydrakes that were attacking travelers around the kingdom, and the ritual battle for the throne between Corwin and his brother. All three wove into each other and were equally important. It also felt like learning something new in one plot could lead to something new in one of the other plots. It was intriguing and kept me reading. There were surprises, some more easily guessed than others, but overall, I really enjoyed it.

And I also really want the next book.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Series Spotlight: Prisoner of Night and Fog series by Anne Blankman

Every Thursday I’m going to be putting the spotlight on a book series and talking about it. It might be one I’ve read, one I’m reading, or one I haven’t gotten to yet, depending on what I feel like talking about that week. This week’s series is a duology and historical.

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The Prisoner of Night and Fog duology by Anne Blankman

Review status: 2/2. Prisoner of Night and Fog, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

Both books are released, own in hardcover.

I devoured the first book as an ARC and it was a long, long wait for the second one. It’s still one of my go-to recs for anyone reading in the YA section looking for something historical, or willing to try it. I loved the concept, the way real history was incorporated into the fictional plot, and it was executed so well.

Favourite character: Gretchen. One of the rare times my favourite character is the main character but seeing her begin to question everything and grow into a strong woman was amazing.

Favourite book: Prisoner of Night and Fog. It’s a 50/50 pick for a duology but the first one wins out. I found it to be slightly stronger than the second since this is the one where Gretchen begins to question everything she knows and becomes more open to listening to other people’s opinions.

Status: Finished.

Author status: Semi-buy. I love this duo but Traitor Angels was a little disappointing so it might take one more solid book to become auto-buy.

Next up from Anne Blankman: I was unable to find anything listed. She’s not very active on social media and Goodreads and her website don’t have any upcoming books:(

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Two Dark Reigns

Two Dark Reigns

Release date: September 4th 2018

Goodreads: There’s no synopsis yet.

Why I’m excited: This series has been getting darker with each book so I’m expecting a lot of action, reveals, and plot twists in this one. The second one avoided middle book syndrome and I have confidence this one will as well.

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Weekly Reading Recap

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I haven’t been feeling well so that means lots of reading time. No energy to do anything else.

Currently reading: lost in a book

Finished reading: Bone QueenOnyx and IvoryPurple HeartsEmpress

Reviewed: 36563330the-love-interest

What I’m hoping to get to next week: Ship ItBookish Boyfriends to read

Onyx and Ivory to review

Books read it 2018: 26

Debut authors read for 2018: 12

Contemporary: 12

Fantasy: 7

Sci-Fi: 2

Dystopian: 3

Historical: 1

Misc: 1

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Book Review: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

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I Have Lost My Way

Release date: March 27th 2018

4 stars

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

This was a pretty short, quick read but it was one I found myself getting absorbed in right away. The concept of strangers’ lives intersecting at the right moment is one I usually enjoy and this was no different. I liked the three characters and the way they interacted with each other, even after only just meeting. There was a bond that formed between them, they connected, recognized something in each other that made them protective of each other. The book was set in both the past and the present, seeing how each character got to where they were and how they were coping, or not, now.

There was Freya, an up and coming singer who lost her voice right before she was poised to break out; Harun, recovering from a break-up and about to leave the country; and Nathaniel, arriving in New York with just a backpack and a plan. All three had very distinctive voices so I found it easy to tell them apart, both in the present and the past. They were also all so different, people who might not have been friends if they’d all gone to the same school, but one fateful meeting in the park connected them. Like the title said, each of them had lost their way somehow and were in that park searching for a sign.

The plot moved along pretty quickly. It was set mostly within the same day in the present timeline with flashes into the past for each character. The past showed the good times and how everything started to fall apart for each of them. The present was a chance for them to begin to heal and find themselves again, or find a new path. It was pretty character dependent so if a reader didn’t like any of the characters, it might be a hard read to get through but I liked them all.

It was definitely an easy book to get through in one night but also one that had a lot of depth in its pages. It’s been a while since Gayle Forman’s last YA book but this was worth the wait.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish, and has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. Every Tuesday there’s a different topic. This week is Top Ten love freebie. I did Top Ten book titles that could be romantic, not necessarily that the books themselves are romantic or have happy endings. Just the titles sound that way.

10. Say You'll Remember Me Say You’ll Remember Me – Katie McGarry. Who doesn’t want to be remembered by someone they love?

9. secret-of-a-heart-note The Secret of a Heart Note – Stacey Lee. This titles makes me think of little notes folded into hearts.

8. start of me and you The Start of Me and You – Emery Lord. Every love story has a beginning.

7. isla Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins. And who doesn’t want a happily ever after?

6. proof of forever Proof of Forever – Lexa Hillyer. Proof that love is everlasting.

5. boys i've loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han. When I first heard this title I imagined a girl writing letters to all her exes because she finally found the one.

4. Romancing the Throne Romancing the Throne – Nadine Jolie Courtney. It had romance right in the title.

3. love and other unknown variables Love and Other Unknown Variables – Shannon Lee Alexander. Love is most definitely an unknown variable.

2.  ps i like you PS I Like You – Kasie West. Because like can turn to love.

  1. 35098416 When My Heart Joins the Thousand – AJ Steiger. This sounds like it should be a line in a poem.

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Book Review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

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The Love Interest

3 stars

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.
Caden is a Nice: the boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: the brooding, dark-souled guy who is dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose the Nice or the Bad?
Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be—whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.
What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

This book had an interesting concept and I was really intriguing by the whole Love Interest secret organization. It seemed to be very high-tech and it was definitely very shady. They trained young boys and young girls to be perfect until they matched with a high asset the LI wished to have intel on, then they would be sent into the world to compete against another Love Interest to be chosen by their target. The one chosen would report back to headquarters any information they asked and the one not chosen would usually be killed. It sounded like there would be a lot of action and plenty of plot twists.

Caden was the main character, a Nice in the Love Interest world, who didn’t feel like a Nice. He played the part well, always very aware of himself and berating himself silently if he messed up and acted too much like a Bad. I felt like I could have really liked his character and there were a few moments I was beginning to feel a connection with him, but it would be easily lost in the next moment. I do wish we’d gotten to see more of Dyl, a Bad and Caden’s competition, on his own. I liked the scenes he shared with Caden but I found it hard to see why Juliet would be interested in him in a way that made him a threat to Caden. He just felt a little underdeveloped.

Juliet also felt underdeveloped but I didn’t mind as much with her. Even though she was the goal for the two boys, their supposed only focus, their everything, she was not the focus of the book. She could have been a little more developed to feel like more of a supporting character instead of a plot device but she was a nice contrast to Caden’s mentor always in his ear talking about how hot he was or reminding him to “stay hot”.

The plot made sense in some ways but the world building felt very light. I could get behind the concept of a company grooming agents/love interests to put someone under their control next to people of influence. The secrets they would learn and be able to sell would probably pay for their whole operation. But we ended up being told a lot of things instead of shown, like why two love interests are needed for one target. There were also things that happened that felt more convenient to the plot instead of natural. The ending seemed to be very fast paced as well and it might have been better served by being a little longer or a duology. Normally I’m all for standlones but the concept of this was so intriguing that I would have read two books if that meant the world building was tighter and the ending was slowed down.

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Series Spotlight: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Every Thursday I’m going to be putting the spotlight on a book series and talking about it. It might be one I’ve read, one I’m reading, or one I haven’t gotten to yet, depending on what I feel like talking about that week. This week’s series is one that took a little time to get into but I ended up enjoying.

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The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Review status: 0/6

All books are released, covers match. First 5 in box set, 6th not which makes me a little sad.

I wasn’t too sure what to think about this series at first. I had heard so many mixed things. When I did give it a chance, the first book took a while to draw me in but by the second one, I was hooked. Characters I thought I wouldn’t like emerged as favourites and I was rooting for new couples.

Favourite character: Alec. Every time I re-read any part of this series, I love him even more.

Favourite book: City of Glass. This was the original ending before the trilogy was expanded and it definitely had the feel of a last book. So many plot lines were finished that it would be possible just to read the first three and feel like you read a completed trilogy.

Status: Finished.

Author status: Auto-buy.

Next up from Cassandra Clare: Queen of Darkness and Air, last book in The Dark Artifices series, out December 4th 2018.

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