Review: Egghead by Bo Burnham

★★★☆☆

As much as I love Bo Burnham’s comedy/shows/general existence, the vast majority of these poems weren’t anything to write home about. I’m just not a fan of comedy that relies on swearing and making things sexual rather than actually writing seggheadomething genuinely funny or thought provoking. Bo’s comedy routines do this too, although when it’s in a live show it seems to be more effective (but still juvenile). Basically it’s the kind of humor that you don’t really want anyone close to you to watch or read alongside you, because they’re probably going to think you’ve got an underdeveloped brain for finding it funny.

This is not to say I disliked the book, because I did like it, and there was definitely gold scattered throughout. It was witty and lyrical, basically like the XXX Shel Silverstein (who was obviously a giant inspiration for this book). A few of the poems were genuinely sweet and lovely and a lot of them make you think. Unfortunately these were overshadowed by poems aimed at people who think cussing a bunch and saying ‘pussy’ and ‘dick’ as often as possible is funny. And this is coming from a girl with the mouth of a sailor who still laughs until she cries at fart jokes… so. Take that information and do with it what you will.

Advertisements

Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

★★★★½

I recommended this book to four people before I’d even finished it.when-breath

It was beautiful—profound and honest and thick with questions of mortality and goodness. Kalanithi became a neurosurgeon/neuroscientist because he wanted to be at the cornerstone where “biology, morality, literature, and philosophy intersect”, and throughout the book he helps readers come to understand how by examining the brain, self-identity, interpersonal relationships, and how all of these can be affected by disease or injury.

“Doctors in highly charged fields met patients at inflected moments, the most authentic moments, where life and identity were under threat; their duty included learning what made that particular patient’s life worth living, and planning to save those things if possible—or to allow the peace of death if not. Such power required deep responsibility, sharing in guilt and recrimination.”

In the end, upon being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, Kalanithi’s deepest questions for his patients became those he then had to ask himself: What makes makes a life worth living?

At its core, When Breath Becomes Air is about a dying man trying to come to grips with life. The book itself never answers the big questions—in fact, the book wasn’t completed when Kalanithi died. Instead, it’s up to readers to figure things out for themselves; but the foundation he lays is enough to make anyone reevaluate their priorities.

Now, though I hate to be ~that person~ saying semi-negative things about a book written by a now-deceased person, the main reason this wasn’t a 5-star rating for me is because at times it was painfully overwritten—the prose was so purple my eyes bled. I kind of understand that you can’t talk about life and death without getting a little carried away, but it pulled me out of the book at times. I’m a fan of very, very simply writing with almost no flair.

Secondly, the foreword was completely unnecessary and added nothing to the book. This, too, was overwritten, to a stronger degree than the actual book. And Lucy’s epilogue, though heartbreaking, was insanely long for an epilogue (as in the narrator paused for a moment after 10 minutes or so and I thought it was over, I checked my phone and I still had 30 more minutes to go… of the epilogue). Parts of it probably could have been removed without diminishing its poignancy.

[Again, sorry for being ~~THAT GUY~~ but I can’t turn off my inner, bitchy, judgmental editor apparently.]

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

handmaidstale

★★☆☆☆

I picked this off my shelf after Trump was sworn into office, and told myself I’d read it before it was taken away from me. As much of an exaggeration as this was (for now), I had no idea how closely the actual book would follow my line of thought. I really knew nothing about the book going into it—before seeing the trailer for the new show, I didn’t even know it was a dystopian book.

So at the beginning, I was interested. Horrified, partly. I was actually having *nightmares* when I started reading. But throughout the book my horror turned slowly to apathy, and finally eagerness for it to just be over.

I think my biggest issue here was that this was barely a story. It was an idea—a good idea, sure, but an idea with no way out. It had zero plot. It didn’t actually go anywhere. And perhaps that was the point, but it didn’t make it any more interesting. I kept waiting for something to happen, anything, but the book is a patchwork of nonevents and memories (of “before”). When something did happen it was nearly always pointless, other than to show how bleak Offred’s situation was or portray Gilead as dangerous.

While I understand that the reason for the nonexistent plot is to show Offred (and everyone) as complacent, it honestly just bored me to death. There are a lot of people who feel very passionately about this book, and more power to ’em, but I like my reads to have at least a point in the end. I don’t care how small that point is. One example is Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. The whole book is a series of crazy events, leading up to the big reveal: [[[spoiler]]] it was the narrator all along!!!1! Wat!! [[[spoiler]]] Because without that ending, the rest of the book is just a series of events that ultimately don’t pay off.

I think the absolute worst part of this book was the ending. Horrible. I turned the page expecting another chapter, and I found something even worse: a fake keynote speech by a fake professor (or something, I don’t even care to check) talking about the “artifact” that they found, post-Gilead… also known as the book you just spent hours of your life reading. This ending, I honestly couldn’t help but feel, was the writer patting herself on the back for her cleverness. Ugh. The “professor” talks about how smart the regime was for this and that, he points out symbolism, such as the red habits that the Handmaid’s wear (symbolizing fertility), the meaning behind the names of the Aunts, Marthas, etc., just in case readers got to the last page and hadn’t yet seen how ~~~very very clever~~~ Atwood is. It was probably one of the worst endings to a book I’ve ever read, because it took the burden of coming up with a solid ending off of Atwood and displaced it like a shrug—”I guess we’ll never know!” I found it bullshit-y to the extreme, and it solidified my dislike of the book.

So there’s that. Two stars for the beginning of the book, which legitimately gave me nightmares. The rest was horrid.

Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

★★★★☆

Although I’ve barely watched The Daily Show, I had seen Trevor Noah in a clip or two on Facebook and knew I liked him. This book solidified that feeling, and listening to him actually tell the story made me feel like I knew him as a friend.bornacrime

This was my first time listening to a book on tape and let me say, this will have to be the way I listen to *all* autobiographies from now on. This is also perhaps the first time I’ve ever read/listened to an autobiography, or a biography, for that matter. I’m really not big into non-fiction, so having a book on tape to listen to on my commute helped me dip my toes into the genre.

Since this is one of the first autobiographies I’ve ever read, I don’t know how to compare it to others, and I don’t know what the ‘norm’ is for them. So while Born a Crime felt more like a collection of scattered childhood stories than anything cohesive, I’m assuming that’s what most autobiographies are; a glimpse into the major recollections of someone’s life. Sometimes the stories were short and sweet, sometimes they were silly, and others, like the story about Trevor meeting his father again after years of separation, were enough to make me cry. And don’t get me started on the ending. Born a Crime is, more than anything, Noah’s powerful ode to his fiercely religious, fiery, devoted, loving mother.

Noah covered a lot of ground—apartheid, racism, sexism, classism, and about a billion other isms—and explained things in a way that was easy for a dumby like me to understand while never talking down to the reader/listener. Before beginning this I knew only the very basics of apartheid—I knew very little of what it was or how it impacted life in South Africa, and although I’m by no means an expert on it now, I know more now than I did before, and that’s always good. Any book that can teach you something about the world is worthwhile.

Still, Noah didn’t really go into how he got where he is now, being a host on The Daily Show. There were a few mentions on how he had begun touring the South Africa and doing comedy routines, but he never actually told us how he got into that position, or how he decided to become a comedian. These insights would have taken the book from being a collection of memories and transformed it into something bigger.

I gave this four stars because of the nonlinear approach it took to storytelling. Though all of the stories were entertaining, few of them connected in a bigger way, so occasionally after a particularly short, seemingly pointless snippet (there were a few of these at the end of chapters or in the middle of two longer stories) I would think, “Okay, and…?” Still, it was heartfelt and fun to listen to (and made me cry twice), and I would definitely recommend the audiobook to anybody.

Review: The New Policeman by Kate Thompson

 

★★★★☆

I have a lot of books. Last I counted, it was nearly 250—and about 98% of these are Goodwill or secondhand finds. The problem with this is I’m a notorious procrastinator when it comes to reading the stuff on my shelves. With so many new, shiny books cominnew-policemang out constantly, and so many more popping up on my Goodreads suggestions, it’s hard to get around to actually reading the things I already own. Besides, what’s the harm in buying more books? So although I bought The New Policeman and its sequel, The Last of the High Kings about four or five years ago (purchased for probably a dollar or so each at a library book sale), they’ve ended up sitting on my shelf ever since. I was interested enough to buy it for a bargain, but I guess I couldn’t muster enough interest to put the time into reading the first one. Series are such a big time investment that I always hesitate to start.

Luckily, this year I decided on a new method of choosing my next book. Using a cute wooden bowl I found at Goodwill, I filled it with all the titles of the unread books on my shelves, so now whenever I’m ready to read a new book, I just mix the names around and pluck out my next book title.

Screen Shot 2017-01-21 at 5.38.45 PM.png

This method has worked so wonderfully and has actually gotten me to start reading some of the books I’ve either been hesitant to read or uncomfortable with for whatever reason—my next book, The Devil in the White City, is in a genre I’ve always been wary of: nonfiction. But because of this new method I’m going for it instead of opting for something more familiar, like YA fantasy (which, admittedly, I’m starting to detest).

Either way, I’m glad I finally got around to it! The New Policeman was a really fun middle grade novel set in Ireland, and it centers around a boy named J.J. who feels stretched too thin in a world where there is simply not enough time. (Obviously this main conflict makes it instantly relatable to basically any reader in the world.) So when another year rolls around and his mother is on the verge of celebrating yet another birthday, she wishes only for more time. When J.J. sets off on a mission to buy her some time, he soon discovers that the time from their world is leaking into Tír na n’Óg, the land of eternal youth, and he has to find a way to make it stop.

The book had a great balance of realism and fantasy, and it focused heavily on traditional Irish folklore, music, and dance. For people who can read music, the book includes after every chapter a short scrap of traditional Irish sheet music, so it might be fun to play along.

Overall I found this to be a wholesome middle grade book that shows the loving and trusting relationship between a mother and her son. This is one I’d suggest to any parents looking for reading material for their children, and especially any parents looking to introduce their children to Irish mythology or perhaps traditional Irish music. Even if you’re not Irish, this was simply a great, quick read with an interesting premise, and concise, effective writing that made me keep turning pages to solve the many mysteries. I’m definitely going to be reading the next two in the series!

Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnson

★☆☆☆☆

Ithousand-nights can count on one 6-fingered hand the number of 1-star ratings I’ve given (at least of the books I’ve rated):

  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman (although I may need to reread this now that I’m in the intended demographic)
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Choke by Chuck Palahnuik
  • The Maze Runner
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • Fifty Shades trilogy (which were mindless, stupid fun to read but awful in general)

And now this.

I considered giving it two, because it wasn’t awful, it was just ridiculously boring, but I really need to start being more harsh in my critiques and not rewarding mediocrity.

Basically, the story is a reimagining of A Thousand and One Nights, and centers around a girl (who is never given a name) who takes her sister’s place and weds an evil king. The king marries one bride from each village and they all die, normally after one night. But the girl lives and keeps on living, because she tells beautiful stories to her captor. Inspirational, right? It might have been, except literally this entire story is a slow, drawn out monologue on the boring parts of this character’s life, and she never actually got around to telling any of these beautiful, entrancing stories. To summarize, here are some things this character does:

  • Weaves things
  • Has dreams and visions that come true. Repeatedly. (The novelty of this wore off after the first time.)
  • Talks about her village
  • Remembers things about her village
  • Worries about her sister
  • Has her hair done
  • Talks about goats
  • Does some random, unexplained but super helpful magic (??)
  • Weaves some more

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 12.08.59 PM.png

And of course, there’s some intrigue mixed in to keep you reading: How did Lo-Melkhiin become possessed by this demon? Will he ever be free? How will the girl escape from him?

Listen, I love me some magical realism. It’s my thing. But if that magic isn’t ever explained, or if it has a really flimsy explanation, I’m instantly turned off. The girl gets her powers from the prayers of her people, who believe her to have become a smallgod. So when she weaves a tale, the tale comes true. It’s an interesting premise, but the execution was so slow and boring that I could not hold my interest for long. It took me like two weeks to finish this, which is ridiculous for a short, easy-to-digest YA book.

The girl is a good heroine, of course. She’s brave, she’s strong, she’s calm in the face of danger and fear, she sacrifices herself to save those she loves. And I think these qualities are some of the reasons this book has so many fans. But is a strong female character really enough to carry a book? I don’t think so. If it had been flipped and the protagonist were a young man, I have a feeling this book would have bored a lot of its readers. Simply the presence of a strong female character seems to be enough for some people, but it wasn’t for me. I was bored to tears.

Another issue for me is that I had figured a vast majority of my issues with this book would be explained in the sequel (which I’m not going to read), but apparently the sequel is set generations in the future. So all of those questions I had are probably never going to be answered. Maybe I missed something vital in the reading of this, but it was just incomprehensible for me.

Anyway, on to the next one. My next book for 2017 is The New Policeman by Kate Thompson! Check back for my review of that soon.

 

 

 

 

Review: The Summer Palace by C.S. Pacat

★★☆☆☆
‘I thought, I have lost everything and gained you, and I would almost make the trade, if I didn’t know it had happened that way for you, too.’
It was so close to his own thoughts—that everything he knew was gone, but that this was here, in its place, this one bright thing.

captive-princeConfession time: I kind of hate this new lovey-dovey, pliant, soft-spoken Laurent. It feels like his character did a complete 180 in zero time. For someone as rigid and controlled as him, I’d expect to see more than a little standoffishness even once he’s in this semi-relationship with someone he trusts. I would rather see him struggle to become a trusting and loving person than for it to happen as it did–that is to say all at once.

I’m probably in the 1% here, but this earned 2 stars just because it was Captive Prince related and featured characters I like. Other than that, it was pretty dull. It didn’t really add anything that hadn’t already happened, it didn’t really show a side of Laurent or Damen that hadn’t already been explored, and it didn’t hold my attention at all. It was basically slow-burn porn (and I hate to use that phrase because there was really no “burn” to it at all). I finished it because I paid for it, not because I particularly liked it.

I really hate writing negative reviews, especially when it’s a series I loved as much as this one. I guess I was hoping for more development between Laurent and Damen rather than just more washing and fucking. But a spin off or a tie in should really hold some kind of value, even if minimal, to the story as a whole. This was more like a short, smutty fanfic. It doesn’t impact the story, it doesn’t shed light on anything or anyone, it was just fan service. (Which is fine, if you’re into that thing. It just wasn’t for me.)

Screen Shot 2017-01-07 at 11.27.19 AM.png
Review brought to you by your friendly neighborhood asexual who can’t be impressed by porn. (If I could, this might’ve gotten a higher rating.)

Review: The Bear and the Nightingale

★★★½

“All my life,” she said, “I have been told to ‘go’ and ‘come.’ I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me.”

the-bearFirst of all, what a gorgeous, evocative book this was. Everything about it—from the cover to the writing to the entrancing main character—had me soaking up every word. As someone who is pretty sick of the YA/NA genre in general, this appeased me for a few reasons:

  1. We had a fantastic, strong, bold main character, Vasya, who is frequently described as ‘ugly’, although the way she commands herself and her presence is captivating to nearly everyone around her. She also refuses to accept her ‘lot in life’, aka being married off to a man, getting fat, and popping out a few kids, or alternatively going to a convent to live out her years as a quiet, docile virgin.
  2. Vasya doesn’t get all swoony over men. In fact, though there is some kissing and hinting, there’s really no romance in this book. *fist pump*
  3. Although I really don’t know anything about Russian culture (and I should probably change that), the lore and mythology in this book were fascinating and easy to understand for a noob like me.

Okay, now why only 3 stars? I was wondering that myself, because as I was reading the last few chapters I was thinking, “This is awesome. It’s well written. Vasya is authentic and I want to chill with her. So why do I kind of just want this book to end?”

I guess my problem was that a few things throughout the story were compounding and made the ending lackluster. Here are a few (spoilers below, obviously):

  1. A big subplot through the story is that Vasya’s father is given a necklace from the winter king to give to his daughter. Instead, Dunya, the nurse, keeps it to give to Vasya once she’s older. Dunya repeatedly has dreams where the winter king comes to her and, in a pretty threatening manner, demands that Vasya receive the necklace. Dunya begs him, a few times, to give her “one more year,” because Vasya is still just a girl. This all makes it sound as if the giving of the necklace will mean something terrible for Vasya, like the winter king is going to steal her or she’ll be sent on some dangerous mission or something. Well, the giving of the necklace happens finally, and … nothing happens. Maybe I’m missing something, but basically the necklace didn’t do anything or change anything in any way, since what was coming was coming not due to Konstantin’s meddling, not anything Vasya could prevent (even with the assistance of the necklace). The evil force in the book wasn’t deterred by the giving of the necklace, nor did the necklace protect Vasya from harm. Sometimes the necklace would burn like ice against her skin but I’m not sure what exactly that was supposed to … mean. Sure, it sounds cool (pun not intended, but I’ll roll with it), but overall the entire necklace subplot had no purpose other than keeping readers wondering what would happen once Vasya received it. And the answer is … nothing.
  2. At the battle in the end, Vasya calls on the household spirits to come and aid her fighting against Medved/the Bear/the one-eyed man. Then she realizes that’s kinda fruitless, since the household spirits are bound to their hearths and can’t leave. But then they arrive. Somehow. I kept waiting for there to be an explanation for this, but there wasn’t. Further, the spirits don’t even do anything in the battle other than look ragged, enforcing the idea that, if Vasya wins, her victory will have been again nearly unbeatable odds.
  3. I was ridiculously excited to see Vasya kick some evil spirit ass at the end of this book, because she was truly an awesome, strong character. I wanted to see her prove everyone wrong and save the village. But in the end, who does the saving? Her father. UGH. Her father, who was away on some journey to help out a village that had burned down (and this didn’t factor into the plot at all), comes back in the nick of time, barrels into the fight, and gives up his life to save his daughter, which apparently binds the Bear from doing any more harm. Think Lily Potter binding Voldemort with her love for Harry. So yeah, viola, fight scene is over, father is dead, evil force is vanquished, etc. This would’ve been sad because her father was a kind character, except it happened so fast and was so completely random that I barely had time to process it. Adding insult to injury is the fact that we didn’t get to see Vasya beat the odds. Instead, a man saved her. This annoyed the crap out me, because I LOVED this line that Vasya said right before the fight:

    “To the oak-tree. To the Bear’s clearing,” said Vasya. “As fast as you can run.” (…)
    Solovey put his head up, a stallions scenting battle. But he said, You cannot do it alone. (…)
    “Cannot?” said Vasya. “I will do it. Hurry.”

    What a BAMF! Alas, her BAMFness was foiled by a middle aged man.

  4. Konstantin, the priest who is basically bringing about all of this evilness by making the villagers afraid (that is what the Bear feeds on), is tossed from the story at the end in almost a throwaway scene: Vasya and the winter king go to his room, and the winter king stands behind her menacingly, projecting himself like a flame-eyed skull, and Vasya basically tells the priest to get lost, which he does. This happens right after Vasya is supposed to be mourning her father’s death, and instead the scene came off as comical—they walked out of the room laughing. I feel like this was included because there was no other way to wrap up Konstantin’s plotline.

Overall, the book had so many loose ends that I can’t even count them all. As I was writing this, more and more kept popping into my head. The gorgeous writing honestly made up for a lot of what it lacked in plot, but in the end I didn’t feel connected to anyone in the story but Vasya, none of the deaths affected me, and the climax/battle scene was a let down.

Still, I encourage you to read this if you’re looking for a beautifully written book with a strong main character. On both of those fronts, The Bear and the Nightingale is gold.

ARC received through Barnes & Noble. The Bear and the Nightingale goes on sale January 17, 2017.

Book Goals for 2017

2017 is here! I honestly can’t believe it. It feels like just yesterday I was writing out my list of books for 2016 — which I ended up not sticking to at all.

But nevermind that.

Even as I try to be pragmatic about New Years, it’s hard not to get excited. Sure, it’s just another day and there’s really nothing “different” about going from ’16 to ’17, but there’s something revitalizing about the turning of the year, the changing of the seasons, and most importantly, my ever-nearing birthday.

So I tried to be realistic in my goal-setting this year. (I told myself I would get fit in 2016, and just this morning, the first day of 2017, my breakfast was three cups of coffee and some Doritos. And I’m completely unashamed because it was delicious.)

But one of my other goals for 2016 was the move out of Ohio. And I did. And it was terrifying and awesome. So not everything went unachieved.

Anyway, I’ve decided to set my sights lower this year, because life is meaningless and Donald Trump has been elected president. Maybe I’ll finish my book. But I probably won’t. And that’s okay, because I’m tired of being stressed about it. Maybe I’ll blog more consistently, but it’s not like blogging is my life’s highest goal. So this year, I’m focusing not on achieving, but on being happy.

My 2017 goals:

  • Drink more water.
  • Save more money each month.
  • Track receipts and shit.
  • Stop buying things spontaneously!!
  • Seriously stop.
  • Less phone time, more petting Smokey and Rosie.
  • At least 1 hour of reading time per day.
  • Write more. I don’t care if this is for a book or for a blog or poetry or whatever. Write more.
  • Don’t give up on stuff just because it’s hard.

My more bookish goals:

  • Read 75 books this year.
    • The majority of these should be pleasure reading, since the majority last year were books for work.
  • Read at least 1 classic per month.
    • One of these needs to be Anna Karenina. Just do it.
    • Another needs to be Walden.
  • Finish all those half-started books on your shelf.
    • For instance, Into the Wild, The Buried Giant, The Wild Truth, A Wrinkle in Time, etc.
  • Read more nonfiction.
    • Especially: I Am Malala, When Breath Becomes Air, Between the World and Me, The Last Lecture, The Devil in the White City, Green Metropolis, and A Walk in the Woods.
  • Don’t buy any new books until you knock out a significant portion of the unread books on your shelf.
    • Unless you find an amazing deal at Goodwill.
  • Finish all those damn books on your Kindle.

Well, there you have it. It’s not much, but it’s something. I’m excited to see how I do on this challenge. 🙂

 

 

2016 Books in Review: Faves and Flubs

It’s the end of the year, and that means facing the facts.

Time to bare all.

I’ve been a big reader all my life, but this is actually my first year of doing a Goodreads/reading challenge. I’d had a Goodreads account for yyyyeeeeears but I never maintained it, and actually doing the work to organize and rate all the books I had read up to that point felt like way more trouble than it was worth.

But finally, in December of 2015, I decided to go for it (probably because it was miserably cold in Ohio and I was stuck indoors and procrastinating). I started going through my bookshelves and my memory and finding books I had read in my elementary and middle school and high school years, and even more recently that I may have forgotten about. This has been astounding for my planner/organizational side, since now I have a pretty extensive list of everything I’ve ever read, minus children’s books. (The only thing bugging me now is not knowing for sure what year I finished each book, so I can see my yearly totals.) But the worst part was seeing my total books read. Last year, before I began the reading challenge, I had only read 244 books in my entire life. If we start at age 8, which is about when I started reading things like Harry Potter, that’s only 17 books a year. With nearly 800 books on my to read list (and that only includes the first of every series), I felt time pressing down on me. It’s times like these that I wish I were a sparkly vampire with unlimited time to read. Either way, I knew I could do better than 17 a year.

And I was right. 2016 was a good year. My original goal was 52 books; one for each week of the year. I even went so far in the beginning as to write out an itinerary of which book I’d read on each week. And although I didn’t stick to that level of perfectionism (at all), I did meet my goal by reading a total of 72 books, 20 books over my goal. My biggest problem with this goal meeting, though, is that a little under half of these books I’ve read are actually books I was hired to edit or beta read, so although I did read them (and even more closely than the more casual books on my list) I feel a bit like a cheat.

My 2016 goal was pretty lofty; I mean, I had Anna Karenina on the “to read” list, and that obviously didn’t happen. (It is, however, still on 2017’s list. We’ll see.) So although I met my goal, I didn’t truly meet my goal. Next year I hope to do better, and make the majority of my reading books that I’ve already shelved on my “to read” list, or books that I hear about rather than am hired to edit or read.

And to anyone who is still reading this, I have only one question: Why?

That being said, here’s my 2016 reading challenge breakdown! This fun quiz was taken from The Perpetual Page Turner.

Number Of Books You Read: 72
Number of Re-Reads: 0 (I almost never reread books. The only ones I have reread are Harry Potter #1-6, and the Series of Unfortunate Events books.)
Genre You Read The Most: YA/NA Fantasy

Books I read for pleasure: 47%
Books I read for work: 45%
Free review copies: .042%

2016 Favorites (in somewhat of an order):

  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Rowling/Tiffany/Thorne
  • Touch of Iron by Timandra Whitecastle
screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-10-21-44-am

Of course I forgot to include The Road since I’m a dingus, so it received an individual spotlight below.

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

That’s tough, because my favorites of this year are across a bunch of genres and can’t really be compared to each other. Best writing was, by far, All the Light We Cannot See. But the one that has stuck with me the most has been Me Before You. While the former was sweeping and beautifully written, Me Before You still makes my heart
pang with emotion when I think of it. I’ve never cried harder at a book (except maybe the whole Sirius thing in Order of the Phoenix).

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I was really anticipating Bad Boy by Elliot Wake, Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, and A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. Especially with Torch, I immediately ordered it the minute I finished Ember, and it was a real let-down. ADSoM was also pretty disappointing, since it was being raved about soooo highly on Goodreads and Twitter and it bored me completely.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Good question… I think the biggest surprise was in the Captive Prince trilogy — I went into it pretty blind, so I didn’t know what to expect, and not only did I absolutely devour the first book (and subsequently order the second and third), but the fact that it had an asexual main character was AMAZING and made me super happy.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Unfortunately most of my friends and family don’t read much (at least the ones I talk to often enough to influence), so I don’t really have an answer to this one.

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

CAPTIVE PRINCE. Prince’s Gambit was the second book and it was even better than the first.

Screen Shot 2016-12-31 at 10.45.22 AM.png

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Leigh Bardugo, who wrote the Grisha trilogy. I loved those books, even if they were pretty YA-y, and I’m so psyched to read the Six of Crows duology.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Hmmm, I’m gonna go with City of Thieves by David Benioff. It’s a novel about two young guys who go on a mission to find a dozen eggs during the siege of Leningrad. I just happened upon it at the used bookstore and loved the cover, which you can see below (yes, I bought it because of the cover — judge me). But it was totally not what I expected and I’m glad it wasn’t. It was a really great, funny, poignant read.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

This one’s hard, since there were a few that were unputdownable but not really thrilling. I’m gonna say the Grisha trilogy (I can’t pick just one) because I couldn’t stop reading them, and Alina was such an awesome main character. I got chills (chills!!) from multiple scenes, which has literally never happened to me in a book before. Like I said: awesome.

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Is none an answer? I don’t really reread novels. I don’t have enough time with all the other stuff I want to read.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

I thought this would be difficult but it’s not. I’m going to pick two: City of Thieves and An Ember in the Ashes.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Laurent from Captive Prince. 🙂 He’s my new favorite character (right next to another gigantic asshole: Jaime Lannister).

laurent.png

Click through for source.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

All the Light We Cannot See wins by a landslide. But another that I loved was The Road by Cormac McCarthy — it was beautifully written, but in a filthy, dark, poetic way that still portrays the author’s enormous talent.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Me Before You. I wrote a review on it that spilled my thoughts on the whole thing, which you can read here, so I won’t get into the why. Just know I couldn’t get this book out of my head (or my broken heart) for weeks afterward.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-10-45-47-am

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

Ha — probably Gone Girl and Thirteen Reasons Why. Both of them were totally underwhelming and aggravating, but they’ve been out for years (Thirteen Reasons Why is approaching its 10th anniversary!!!) so I feel really behind on finally getting around to them.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

Do whole books count???

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Well, the longest was All the Light We Cannot See, which was 560 pages, but I’m not sure of the shortest. Either way, I read a few short stories, so probably 15 pages or so?

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Not sure.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Damen x Laurent 4evar. My precious gay babies. And Lou and Will, or course.

laurentdamenlou-and-will

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I really adored the relationship between Marie-Laure and her uncle Etienne, as well as with her father.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I almost thought I hadn’t read any of these authors before, but then I realized I read The Cursed Child. Althought Rowling isn’t actually the author, I think I’m gonna go with that.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I don’t know, probably either A Darker Shade of MagicGone Girl, or Thirteen Reasons Why. All three were sooo hyped up and weren’t all that great.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

See, I want to say Laurent again, because I love him, but if I knew him in real life I’d probably hate him. But he’s such a great character! I think my biggest crush would have to beeeee Nicolai, from the Grisha trilogy. I loved how pirate-y he was.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

Touch of Iron by Timandra Whitecastle. I actually got to be one of her beta readers, and it was one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s grimdark with light fantasy elements, topped with a completely kickass heroine, Nora.touch-of-iron

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Hmm, probably The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was incredibly evocative.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-10-22-10-am

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Well Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a really fun read. I originally started it and had to put it aside because I thought it was dumb, but when I picked it up again I guess I was in a different mindset, because I was laughing so hard I was sobbing. It was that funny. Some other feel-good reads are the Olivia series by Tessa Palmeri (they’re young adult romances that show really healthy young relationships), the Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novels (because I love that show), the SAGA graphic novels, and of course HP and the Cursed Child, which completely surprised me and I liked a lot.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

Me Before You killed my soul.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I’m gonna go with City of Thieves. It was such a quiet success of a book, because it wasn’t really touted all over the place or anything, and the fact that I just stumbled upon it and ended up loving it made it that much better.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Refer to #26.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin. I LOVED it. It was the most unique fantasy I’ve read this year (or maybe ever).

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Probably Gone Girl. I’d heard rave reviews about this book for YEARS, so I went into it expecting something incredible. It was just lazy, honestly. The woman turns out to be a crazy bitch, and that’s supposed to be suspenseful? I wrote a review about it where I ranted my feelings. I don’t know, it just irked the crap out of me.

Looking ahead – 2017:

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

I would really like to get some classics knocked out. I’m not much of a classic reader, but I’d like to know my stuff for once. Stuff like Wuthering Heights and Anna Karenina are on my list, among others. Also, I’m a failure as a fantasy-nerd because I haven’t read Lord of the Rings yet. I need to get that done.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom!

Screen Shot 2016-12-31 at 10.58.03 AM.png

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

No idea. :^D I usually find out about book releases after they’ve been out for a while. I don’t really have my finger on the pulse of the publishing world.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

I’d really like to finish reading the Shades of Magic trilogy eventually, so probably that.


All photographs taken by me. Any artwork used is not mine.