Saturday, January 19, 2019

2018 Best in Books

**2018 READING STATS** 

Number Of Books You Read: 94
Number of Re-Reads: 23
Genre You Read The Most From: Paranormal Fantasy


best-YA-books-2014
Created by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner

1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street



For: Introspective beautiful writing, diversity in historical fiction


The Ship Who Sang (Brainship, #1)




For: Creative world building, diversity in science fiction



The Good Daughter




For: The most harrowing  audiobook I have EVER sat through with convincing plot twists and great, fully fleshed characters




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

I LOVED The Tao of Pooh...but this did not live up to its predecessor.  It had moments of brilliance that were reminiscent of ToP, but it went onto preachy tangents and rants that had no actual evidence to back up the arguments other than opinion, which is a shame.  I do still recommend The Tao of Pooh if you haven't read it though!



Weapons of Mass Seduction3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

I was so surprised by this one!  I thought it would fall somewhere between smut and fluff and it had so much love and substance. I loved all three story lines in this, and recommend this if you are into contemporary romance!


5. Best series you started in 2018? 

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1)     Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)

1. I was not expecting to love Patricia Brigg's Alpha & Omega series more than her Mercy Thompson series.  I never expected paranormal romance to appeal to me as a genre, especially more than paranormal fantasy but I freaking ADORE Anna and Charles.  I LOVE that you have a main character who uses her submissiveness and meekness as a strength.

2. You don't really see many stories about WWI, let alone the traumas of how it affected entire nations, families, and communities. The Maisie Dobbs series is such a thoughtful look at the time period in Britain and has given me a much better understanding into cultural and social mores of the time.

Best Sequel of 2018? 

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)

Best Series Ender of 2018?

Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, #10)



6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?
Natasha Pulley's atmospheric writing and beautiful storytelling has made her a new go-to author for me!
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
If You Find Me

 I don't read much contemporary fiction, particularly if I know it is going to deal with some challenging emotional subjects.  This is definitely worth reading.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Hands down no question The Good Daughter.  The story unwinds in three major section, and each section starts with this gruesome scene that is the catalyst for the main story.  But each time the story is retold, it's done from a new point of view so you get more information.  I do not know how I survived this in audiobook form. It was SO INTENSE.


 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street     A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs, #8)


11. Most memorable character of 2018?
Maisie Dobbs - I'm at least 2/3 of the way in the series now and it's wonderful to see how much she has grown emotionally in the series since the start of it all.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?
At the risk of repeating myself...did I mention that everything about The Watchmaker of Filigree Street was beautiful? Because if I didn't...it very much is.
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?
Modern Romance

Modern Romance - for a variety of reasons.  One, it appears to be well researched and is very upfront about what it doesn't cover or isn't sure about.  Secondly...because of the author and the scandal that popped up after the book.  
  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 
Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)

 I originally started this series at the height of my Cassandra Clare rage (read book 5 of The Mortal Instruments).  So it may have suffered a bit. I have since seen the light (although I stand by my feelings on books 4 and 5 of TMI) and gave the series another shot. So glad I did!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?
“Thaniel listened for a while longer, because the silence was so deep and clear that he could hear ghosts of the thirty-six of thirty-seven possible worlds in which Grace had not won at the roulette, and not stepped backward into him. He wished then that he could go back and that the ball had landed on another number. He would be none the wiser and he would be staying at Filigree Street, probably for years, still happy, and he wouldn't have stolen those years from a lonely man who was too decent to mention that they were missing.”  - The Watchmaker of Filigree Street 
“Cats never liked to admit to names. Being named might lead to being held responsible for something.” - Frogkisser!
“You forget what it was like. You'd swear on your life you never will, but year by year it falls away. How your temperature ran off the mercury, your heart galloped flat-out and never needed to rest, everything was pitched on the edge of shattering glass. How wanting something was like dying of thirst. How your skin was too fine to keep out any of the million things flooding by; every color boiled bright enough to scald you, any second of any day could send you soaring or rip you to bloody shreds.” - The Secret Place
16. Shortest &Longest Book You Read In 2018?
Entwined (The Kinky Connect Chronicles #3) 
41 pages



Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)
699 pages                                      

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
The Good Daughter hands down.  Did NOT see a lot of that coming

18. OTP OF THE YEAR

Well, I can't say because I don't want to spoil the book. So otherwise, basically the entire cast of Lord of Shadows (particularly Kit + Ty!)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
The Dark Days Pact (Lady Helen #2)

Lady Helen and her teren-in-training Darby. Actually just all the relationships in this book.  Runner up would be Lord of Shadows!
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles #1, Tortall #8)

I mean, obviously.
21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:
The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal: Omnibus

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal

This was recommended to me by my cousin and it was gorgeous both in art style and story telling.
23. Best 2018 debut you read?
Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1)
24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
In the interest of not putting the same book for ever category (*cough* Watchmaker of Filigree Street/Ship Who Sang)

Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)

Dread Nation.  I mean...hello post Civil War zombies.  That's about as good as it gets!
25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Romancing the Inventor (Supernatural Society, #1)          Frogkisser!

1. No one does fun quite like Gail Carriger, and Madame LeFoux is possibly my favourite character in the entire Supernatural Society series, so having her get her own spin off novella? Perfection.

2. If you only know Garth Nix for his Abhorsen, this has a very different vibe.  It's fun and silly while still having substance to the story.


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
The Ship Who Sang (Brainship, #1)

Although Anne McCaffrey is a big name in books, it's usually about her (amazing) series the Dragonriders of Pern.  I don't have any friends who have read this one, so if you like science fiction at all, I highly, highly recommend this book!
28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
If You Find Me
29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?
Honestly that would probably go to books I've already mentioned, so I'm going to throw in another title I LOVED this year, but didn't have a question here that merited it as an answer.

The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3)

All of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's books are GORGEOUS.  This is the third book in the series that starts with The Shadow of the Wind, but honestly they can be read in any order.  Despite the fact there is an actual chronological order they happen in I think the fact that it doesn't matter when you read each - the reveals just happen in different places, is so unique and very cool.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

March Mini Reviews: In which Elizabeth read...practically nothing

I'm starting to post these regularly enough that I feel like should make a banner or something.  But in the meantime, how about we celebrate the statement "I'm starting to post these regularly"!  I mean when was the last time I could say that?   (To be fair, posting once a month for all of three months is hardly a ringing endorsement of my ability to post regularly haha)  This will also be a...rather shorter list than my previous months.  I only write the mini-reviews of books I haven't read before, and as March was a rather emotionally fraught month I mentioned that basically the only reading I've accomplished was rereading (and even that I've done little of. Apparently emotions get in the way of being able to focus on books. Who knew?) So the list is short this month, alas.


Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2)

Rating: 5 stars

I officially don't care about how I felt about her first series - I am officially a hardcore Shadowhunter fangirl. CASSIE CLARE OWNS MY SOUL.  I am there for all of her books.  Her first series was...well her first series.  The fact that every series and collection of short stories is better than her last is a sign of being a good writer (incidentally, how I feel about Maggie Stiefvater as well).  If you haven't read any of Cassandra Clare's books or even if you tried her first series and it wasn't for you, I highly recommend trying this series!






The Bone Doll's Twin (The Tamír Triad, #1)

Rating: 5 stars

This somehow manages to take a tired hero/savior trope and make it feel completely fresh. It's got really interesting world building and Flewelline manages to pack in so much of it with showing not telling or infodumping which can be really challenging to do given how in depth the world building gets here.  It also has a really cool character set up that I won't spoil, but color me intrigued and invested.  I'll definitely be trying to get my hands on book two!



The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently #2) by Douglas Adams

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (Dirk Gently, #2)

Rating: 3.5

 Sadly, I think this one suffered because I had to keep starting and stopping the book and I never tend to enjoy books as much as they deserve when that happens.  That being said, for some completely unknown reason I was expecting a little more continuity from the first book (again...no idea why I would expect that. It's not like Douglas Adams showed much in the way of continuity with Hitchhiker's Guide!).  I'm a little sad now...I've officially read all of Douglas Adams' novels.  Nothing will ever top Hitchhiker's for me, but I might try this series again and see if I have better luck if I read it in one sitting.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read

Hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl

This week's topic has some obvious choices, despite the fact that it is otherwise a challenging topic for me. I am a notorious rereader - probably 30% of what I read yearly are rereads.  If I don't reread something I like a lot, it's probably because I don't feel like I'd gain anything from a reread, or I just don't feel like I have enough of an emotional connection to the characters to warrant a reread. I definitely don't have ten books I can think of that fit said reasons, but I do have enough that immediately came to mind that I decided to go ahead and do this week's topic.  With no further ado here's the list:


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief 

This one was the most immediately obvious choice for this topic.  I had not expected to love this book as much as I did at all - and certainly wasn't expecting the emotional impact it gave.  After all, it tells you in the very first chapter all the characters that die.  I WAS PREPARED.  (Or so I mistakenly thought).  I ended up really loving the style of writing and I ugly cried so hard through the last few chapters of the book I could barely read the words at all.  I'm talking Harry Potter Deathly Hallows level of ugly crying.  




Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine 

Speaking of Harry Potter 7 levels of crying and immediately obvious choices for this topic....  (Guys you should seriously search how often I mentioned this book on the blog for like two years after reading it, it affected me that much).  Going Bovine is another book that just...destroyed me.  Not just emotionally either - it did things to my brain that surprised me.  I was certain, certain I tell you that I knew the ending was going to go, and then Libba Bray goes and throws in this completely unexpected third way of ending things and....needless to say I spent the last 20 minutes of the audiobook sobbing so hard I couldn't see the road while driving.  (Luckily it was rush hour traffic so it wasn't like my car was moving anyway. No one was harmed in the process of listening to this book!)




The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)

  Are you starting to sense a theme here? I can't tell you much about this because of spoilers, but needless to say there is a SCENE in this book that anyone who has read it will immediately know will understand why it makes this list.




UnWholly (UnWind #2) by Neal Shusterman





UnWholly (Unwind, #2)

Speaking of SCENES (although that's the first book, but still).  The series as a whole is really great, none of the rest of the books ever reach the full impact that the first book does.  And since it was originally written as a standalone I sort of prefer to think of it that way.  I'll read the first book again for sure (I literally buy any copy I find of it in thrift stores so I can send it to people to read because I'm THAT PERSON about UnWind), but the rest of the series I probably won't make an effort to get to again.




All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)

On the flip side, I loved everything about this whole series.  (I may have gone through a...mild obsession)  Honestly...I'm a little afraid if I ever reread these that I won't love them quite as much as I did the first time around.  (And I really, really loved this series!).  Although rereading my posts on the series...it is tempting....




Misery by Stephen King

Misery

Ok, this one technically doesn't qualify because I DEFINITELY didn't love it.  But it deserves mentioning, because it is clearly masterfully written....and also put me off an entire genre of books.  Needless to say, I will NOT be rereading this one!


What was on your list?  Leave me a link below!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Day in the Life #53 In which Elizabeth is a bit vulnerable



So....I've been a little bit quiet around the blogosphere lately (which to be fair is not unusual these days).  In the midst of all the teaching drama I posted about last time I was dealing with some personal drama as well that I wasn't ready to post about at the time.  So.  Some of you know that for the past almost ten years I've been dating Sejoon.  Well, a few weeks ago we decided to end things.  I'm not really going to talk much about it in detail, but it was a good decision for both of us and I think we called it at the right moment so it ended on a good note. 

On the upside, entering the dating world has not been nearly as terrifying as I'd thought for all these years, and I'm actually having a lot of fun with it.  Not that I'm ready to settle down by any means, but at least I know I'm capable of meeting new people and it not being terrible.  And I'm used to being alone since he traveled so long this year so I'm more used to spending time alone than the average person at the end of a breakup.  It's been pretty up and down for me, but most days I'm happy.

The stress has definitely meant I've fallen back on rereading books rather than reading new books for the most part (although I did buy Children of Blood and Bone. I mean have you seen the front cover?? IRRESISTABLE)  Juliet Marillier's Sevenwater series is one of my go tos and has been getting me through the last couple weeks.  If you haven't read any of her books, Marillier has really beautiful writing and Daughter of the Forest is a wonderful place to start.



Dramafever is no longer on Playstation anymore (WHYYYYY. This would have been the one time I actually have time to watch Kdramas!!!), so in the meantime here's what I've been catching up on:

Parks and Rec - I mean, let's be real.  I never seem to put this show down for more than a couple of months it is my ULTIMATE form of comfort.  I always start on Season 2 episode 23 because what's the point in watching the show pre-Ben Wyatt?

Velvet - I've mentioned the show before, but I am soooo slow at watching subtitled things. (That are not K-dramas because I can't STOP watching those).  This show is beautiful, but I do tend to get stressed out when there's too much romantic drama. Which is....basically most of the show other than fashionable dresses...hence me still watching this show a year later haha.

Queer Eye - I do not want to know any secret behind the scenes terribleness about this show ever because I LOVE IT SO MUCH.  I cry every episode, it's so freaking inspiring and beautiful and if you are not watching this, you NEED TO.   I'd say this was a guilty pleasure but I a unashamed of how much I adore this series.

Longmire - Ohhhh this last season is so good.  And the soundtrack is so on point! I haven't finished yet, but I must be at least 2/3 of the way through now and there hasn't been a dud episode yet.  I am going to miss these characters so much when this is all over.



Top three songs I can't stop listening to:



There's also a "flipped" version of this that sounds more like Broken Bells and I freaking love them both.


I know this is old, but I went on a big nostalgia kick and I hadn't heard the acoustic version before. I feel like most singers in this genre don't fare well on acoustic versions, but Brent Smith has great vocals.


This is from the first episode of season 6 from Longmire and I am obsessed.


Bookish links:

Blogger stuff
Veronika shares stuff that positively pisses her off in books.
Stacee transcribed a book event led by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff.
Kelly Lagor discusses science fiction and science: Jules Verne and Charles Darwin.
Christina talks about sharing pop culture.
Heather talks about when reading makes you uncomfortable: rape.
Annemieke shares how she unhauls books.


Author stuff
Mari Ness talks about Death as a godfather in fairy tales.
Elizabeth Bear shares her formative SFF (forgotten classics of the 70's and 80's).
Chris lists 5 things every fantasy writer can learn from Earthsea.
Michelle Obama is releasing a memoir!




THIS IS EVERYTHING.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

February Mini Reviews


The Alienist (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #1) 
Rating: 3

This was definitely an interesting story, but dear GOD it was long. And this is coming from the QUEEN of huge book reading!   I love long books as much as the next person, but there needs to be a good reason for it.  There's a reason fantasy novels tend to be thicker books - they need the length to have room to put in the world building.  This book didn't need it - could have easily cut 200 pages of this and not lost anything.  But it does go into an interesting side of history I don't know much about, and if I'm able to watch the series I think it will make a GREAT TV adapation!





The Sum of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet #3) - Julia Quinn

The Sum of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3) 
Rating: 4 stars

I've said it a million times before, but Julia Quinn is hands down QUEEN at humor in historical romance.  She's by far the funniest of any historical romance authors I've read, and this book was no different.  There were parts I didn't love of this toward the end - it got a bit over dramatic when it could have wrapped everything up, but otherwise if you need a solid piece full of squishy feelings and hilarious banter, you should pick this one up.





Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me 
Rating: 3.5

Especially in the current climate, I could not recommend reading this book more.  If you choose to go audio - and I do recommend that you do - it's read by the author which makes it feel even more powerful.  Now I didn't agree with everything he said, but I feel like this book isn't really here to answer questions, it's here to make you ask more questions.  Sometimes it felt like Coates goes a little over-generalized, but again this is one where I think it's important to shut up and listen.





Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs #1) - Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs, #1) 
 Rating: 5 

This book was so delightful!  The mystery doesn't fall into any expected categories - it's not quite a cozy mystery - I usually associate them with a certain amount of humour and this one has a level of sincerity and thoroughness that doesn't quite jive with that.  But neither is it some sort of grim thriller.  It's thoughtful and a little quiet for a mystery novel.  This isn't to say that it's not a very fun novel - it definitely is.  If you like historical mysteries, and I'd say even for fans of cozy mysteries this is definitely one you shouldn't let pass by.





 Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2) - Jacqueline Winspear

Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs, #2) 
 Rating: 4

This one is also quite lovely.  It's looking like the whole series is going to be set post World War 1 (which tends to get overshadowed in literature by World War II so it's nice to see more on this end of things).  What I really love about this is that both stories so far have been connected to the aftermath of the war - how it affected soldiers, families, and communities and how it was treated at the time.  It feels exceptionally relevant now, as we've had a war going for almost two decades and our treatment of veterans is abominable.






Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles, #1) 
Rating: 5

THIS IS A TAMORA PIERCE BOOK DID YOU REALLY THINK IT WASN'T GOING TO GET  STARS???  I literally cried before I even started reading the book.  This is not an exaggeration.  I read every single author blurb written for this in the inside cover, and it was 99% authors that I love all saying how much they loved Tammy Pierce's writing and how much she changed their lives. GUYS I'M TEARING UP RIGHT NOW.   Everything is amazing, and if you haven't read any Tamora Pierce yet, all of her series are self-contained so you could start here!





Tortall: A Spy's Guide - Tamora Pierce

Tortall: A Spy's Guide 
Rating: 5

Not for the casual reader obviously. But if you're crazy about the Tortall series the way I am this is super helpful in keeping things straight and has some cute details to add about all the characters you love!





Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs #3) - Jacqueline Winspear

 Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs, #3) 
Rating: 4.5

This one may be my favourite of the lot so far! (Other than the first one).  It feels the most personal of the lot so far and really delves into character depths we haven't seen yet.






Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs, #4)
Rating: 3.5 stars

I didn't love this quite as much as the others, but can we just agree that the fact I've read four of these in a month is a good indicator of how brilliant this series is?  The WWI trend is definitely a thing, although as we get later in the books (there's at least 8 more of these, maybe more) we're definitely going to head into WWII area at some point. 





The Good Daughter - Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter (The Good Daughter #1) 
Rating: 5

HOOOOLY CRAP GUYS. This book is intense and amazing, and I highly recommend the audio. , but when you get to it I highly recommend it an audio.  One of my favourite narrators so far!

Maybe wait on reading this one if you're not up for a school shooting.  I was listening to this and we had a lockdown (not a drill, but nothing on school grounds - there was a standoff in the neighborhood) and I can definitely say that if I know ahead of time a book is going to have a school shooting I WILL NOT READ IT.  There is nothing scarier as a teacher right now than knowing you are in a real lockdown situation...and not knowing why. So I'm glad I didn't know about it ahead of time because I definitely would not have picked it up. It seriously made me think I was having heart palpitations it gets so intense.  If you liked Gone Girl, Girl on the Train - any of those sorts of intense thrillers, this is a book for you.





Dollhouse: Epitaphs - Andrew Chamberliss

Dollhouse: Epitaphs (Dollhouse, #1-5) 
Rating: 2.5

For those of you who don't know, this is a graphic novel based on a show called Dollhouse, created by Joss Whedon.  It's one of my favourites from Whedon (and yes, it is problematic, and yes I'm not sure I can love it as much knowing what we do about him now.  That's beside the point and I feel weird about it, but didn't think I could talk about this without mentioning all of the above.)

This didn't actually flesh much of the time gap, so it didn't feel like it added anything to the story. Which wouldn't have bothered me as much except that it looks like there isn't going to be any more, so what was the point? Sooo...I'd give it a pass.