The Yearly Report: Best and Worst of 2015

I can’t believe that 2015 is almost over.  It has gone by so fast.  As usual, I’m doing a yearly recap.  Usually, I’ll use my Almost Quarterly Reports to help but this year has been really unbalanced reading wise-you might’ve notice the lack of a third quarterly and fourth quarterly because of this.

Personal Life:

 I moved to another state, then moved again due to a really bad housing issue.  Now I’m settled in a new apartment with annoying neighbors who like to drill at eight in the morning and just got done studying for a notary exam and about to prepare for another bar exam (that’s what you get for accepting a job in another state.  I also bought myself two adorable long haired Chihuahuas named Pinky and Brainy who are trying to dethrone  Patty (who lives with my parents) as my co-blogger.  Don’t think Patty’s going to let that happen 😉  Though once the Chihuahuas start living with me (they currently live with my parents too while I’m studying for the exam from hell) I might start having them review the copious amounts of toys they get and other pet friendly posts.  Because pets rule.

Good Pups

Chi cuteness.

Total Books Read: 

Without rereads (that GoodReads deemed to not count) I read 106 books as of December 13, 2015 (the time this post was drafted).  I figure I might read a couple more titles before the new year, but reading at this point will become pretty sporadic since I’m going to be studying for the bar-I’m guessing I’ll only probably get out five or six titles between now and the exam.   Though, who knows.  I probably would’ve read more if I wouldn’t have had to deal with the housing issue in the middle of the year.

Most Read Genre:

Contemporaries.  Particularly light, fluffy contemporaries (I think my Princess Diaries reread pushed this genre over the edge).  I’ll admit it, I am a fluff girl.  I read for romance and ships and try to get away from the bad things in life.  I’m an escapist when it comes to reading.  Plus, I find there’s a lot more veracity to contemporaries than in high fantasies-most of them do the long lost princess format which isn’t necessary bad BUT…it gets sort of annoying.

Reading Report:

Overall, the books I read this year were a lot better than those I read in 2014.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting pickier in what I read or if it was just a better year in publishing (because the House of Night series has finally been put to bed). But it just worked for me.  Hoping next year is similar but even better.

Biggest Surprise:

I’ve praised this book a lot.  And for good reason.  It’s a contemporary that has various shades of seriousness, fluff, and for the plot it’s pretty realistic.  Thorne is on my “To Buy List” because of this book and I’m really looking forward to what she offers in the future.

Biggest Disappointment:

I’m intrigued with Korea and was really looking forward to reading this book (the cover looks adorable).  But it suffered from having an insufferable character and sort of didn’t use it’s setting to the fullest. I’m still interested in what Stout has to offer in the future, but I will probably library it for the time being.

Best Contemporary:

Ellie Marney is queen.  I love this series and if I wasn’t such a neurosis about having matching covers I would’ve bought the third book already-still might.   The second book though really does do a lot to develop the relationships between Watts and Mycroft.

Worst Contemporary:

Ugh, not a fan.  This should’ve been interesting since it featured a main character who was intersex and transgender.  But I thought it blurred the lines on informing the reader what the difference was between the two things and can confuse uninformed readers.  Also, it was a little too soap opera for my taste.  Especially over such a sensitive topic.

Best Paranormal:

It’s an oldie but a goodie.  I almost removed this from being in contention since I’ve read it before. But this is all of my reads list for 2015 and The Mediator series still kicks butt when it comes to YA paranormal.

Worst Paranormal:

So much potential to be a cute little book, BUT book genie fail.

 Best Retelling:

Not a fan of Maas’s previous work but this book really wowed me.  It’s probably because I am a Beauty and the Beast junkie.  And there some rather hot scenes here too.

Worst Retelling:

I just felt like this retelling didn’t know what it wanted to be.  Which is a shame because Jay has shown she’s capable of some beautiful writing in the past.

Best Fantasy:

Such rich world building and ship worthy (if you get past the ickiness).  This one is probably going to be on a lot of people’s lists and the reason is obvious.

Worst Fantasy:

Now, this one is probably a little bit of a black sheep choice.  I know a lot of people loved this one but it did not work for me at ALL.  Rape was basically used as a romantic plot device and I hate that.  It just grated on my nerves on so many levels.

Best Diverse Book:

So many wonderful diverse books this year.  But I chose Simon because I loved how the diversity wasn’t the “lesson” of this book.  I’m sorry not a fan of moral or agenda filled books.  The best sort of diverse books, are the ones where the characters just live their lives and aren’t harassed for being different in a Lifetime-y sort of fashion.  And Simon lives, comes to terms with himself and there’s so much Oreo wonderfulness all around.  This book needs a movie.

Best Comeback:

It’s Princess Mia.  How can you not like Princess Mia?  Especially when she’s getting married to Michael (squeal).

Best Debut:

Again.  This book,

Most Overhyped Book:

Next Harry Potter, my ass.

Best Reread:

I really enjoyed my Lunar Chronicles reread, and it surprisingly didn’t take as long as I expected it to.

Best Series Starter:

I’m a fan of DC themed books and TV shows, so this book sort of fits that niche for me.  I’m really excited to see how this series moves forward.

Best Series Ender:

I cried like a baby when I finished this book.  I am going to miss this series.  Even though Winter wasn’t my favorite in the series it still did it’s job quite well.

Best 2016 Release I’ve Read in 2015:

Somehow, Edelweiss decided they liked me and gifted me with ARC of this beauty.  It’s already been devoured-in less than five hours (big surprise: not)- and a review has been written (will be published near release date), but WOW.  This was….okay, I’ll shut up now.

Best Cover:

I haven’t read this book yet (it’s in my TBR) but God that is a glorious dress and a far improvement from the second cover.  It’s also very pretty to look at.  AND it stuck to it’s theme.

Worst Cover:

Technically, this is a 2016 release but they released the cover redesigns for this book this year (which makes the cut for the list) and they SUCK. I’m almost tempted to buy the UK version or print out the original dust jacket and put it on my copy.  I really hate the redesign.  If you look at all three books they sort of are trying  for a Thorne of Glass thing which sucks since the books had their own separate identity with the dresses-I loved the dresses they showed that you could be a badass regardless of what you wore.  Instead though, we get covers that try to rift on another popular YA series with a little bit of Tank Girl and Peter Pan’s long lost sister thrown in there.  Suckage.  At least the inside of the book will be wonderful-hopefully.

Worst Overall Book:

Someone needs to put this book in a meme with Grumpy Cat.  It is horrible, horrendous.  I’m pretty sure Colleen Houck is going to be appointed Donald Trump’s Secretary of Cultural Sensitivity because that’s how bad this book is.  Her ideas about culture are insensitive and incorrect.  Add to the fact, that she can’t write a realistic character for the life of her.

NO.

Best Overall Book:

There were so many great books that I’m leading this category blank.  Instead I’m going to list some of my favorite reads (all of these have been released) :

  • Fairest by Marissa Meyer
  • The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead
  • Geek Girl by Holly Smalle
  • None of the Above by IW Gregorio
  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
  • The Wrong Side of Right by Jen Marie Thorne
  • Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
  • Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot
  • The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot
  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Every Word by Ellie Marney

 

 

The Almost Quarterly Report: Half A Year Gone

Sigh, 2015 has been going by ridiculously fast. It’s been a pretty big year for me.  Within these first six months, I’ve moved to another state and have begun the process of looking for a dog-target was originally for September though it seems like it’s been delayed a bit.  Anyway, within this quarter I started my new job and have began the process of starting to study for yet another bar (hoping to take the test is February of next year-blah).

But I’m not here to talk about my personal life, I’m here to talk about books.  There were a lot of good books this quarter, some better than others.  But there were some I wasn’t that thrilled about.  Anyway,  here’s the best and worst books I’ve read since March.

Total Read:

Since the last time, I post I have read thirty-one books.  Not bad, since I’ve had blots of reading slump and am still getting used to the move.  I’m hoping I can knock out my yearly reading goal by next quarter (seventy-five books).  I’d really like to make it to a hundred books this year, but considering that I have a lot coming up in the latter half of the year we’ll see.

Biggest Surprise:

This book is just fascinating.  Weird but fascinating.  If you want something completely different I suggest you give Magnolia a try. The contemporary aspect of this story and the weird bird people fantasy works (for the most part).

Biggest Disappointment:

I loved Cruel Beauty, but Hodge’s sophomore addition was such a disappointment. The story just was too oddly placed and I couldn’t connect with the characters to continue.  At leas the cover looks pretty next to Cruel Beauty, though I am thinking of maybe giving it away in a possible giveaway.

Best Diverse Book:

 

I really loved how this book utilized its Pakistan setting and discussed arrange marriages.  The story was strong, quick, and while the parents were a bit on the side of being a bit too Lifetime-y at the same time Saeed did give crumbs to show how the characters would feel the way they do.

Worst Diverse Book:

This one featured a South Korean setting and a South Korean love interest and I just didn’t feel it.  I think because the main character just seemed to try to change rather than embrace her surroundings.  To be fair though, the book has got me interested in K-Pop so that’s something, right?  Too bad I learned nothing about K-Pop from said book and instead had to make do with friends/Pandora recommendations.

Best Contemporary:

No big surprise here.  I’ve been looking forward to this book since I found out it was going to be released, and it did not disappoint.  Hanging out with Mia and the gang again brought back a lot of good memories.  And I hope that we get another one.  Please, Meg.  Please.  And there were rumors for awhile there that we might be getting another movie, though I pray to the movie gods that in this one they have Mia (Anne Hathaway) get back together with Michael ( recasted with Christian Bale-for obvious reasons-read book ten).   However, more than likely though,  if a third movie was actually made, I bet it will be a spinoff with Mia’s little sister.  Though, I don’t know how the dead dad would’ve had Olivia. Unless, someone stole Phillipe’s stuff from a Genovian sperm bank- talk about not so Disney drama.

Worst Contemporary:

Sigh.  I really hate when I have to list something on the worst list twice on this list.  Unfortunately, I read a lot of contemporaries this quarter, and this one sticks out as being the most disappointing one. It wasn’t an outright one star book, but it wasn’t great by any means.  The story itself was underdeveloped and the parts that I was looking forward to-i.e. the K-Pop angle was hardly developed at all.

Best Paranormal:

To be direct, most of the paranormals I read this quarter just weren’t up to snuff.  So unfortunately, this category is going to be blank.  I’m hoping that next quarter I’ll read some great paranormals.

Worst Paranormal:

Ack!  This was a DNF that I was really looking forward to.  I’ve read so many books featuring jinn and this one was probably even worse than Fire Wish which I really didn’t like.  I think anytime a book has a boob or butt enhancement makeover scene I just need to avoid.

Best Fantasy:

I loved this book.  I almost put it in the best retelling category but ended up putting it here because the world building was just so intricate and it varied enough from the original tale where it could be viewed as a thing of its own.

Worst Fantasy:

Ugh.  This one way way over hyped.  To be fair I did enjoy the book for a good chunk of it (didn’t love but liked) until there was a horrible plot point that sort of emphasized the stupidity of the characters in this one.

Best Retelling:

I am ready for the sequel of this Scheherazade retelling.  I loved the passion that these characters had.  And the world just had that magical storybook feeling to it.

Worst Retelling:

Great Expectations was never a favorite of mine, BUT it could make for an interesting retelling.  Unfortunately for this book, it did not modernize the original story in a believable way.

Winning Genre This Quarter:

Without a doubt contemporary.  I have been loving YA contemporaries lately.  I think because that genre is really starting to diversify itself.  There have been so many nice and fluffy contemporary books, but at he same there have been so many that have depth to them.

Losing Genre:

YA fantasies.  While there have been a lot of great ones.  I feel like they’re so repetitive in nature.  The good thing is I’ve started to try to take breaks between each of these books so I won’t feel so blogged down with them.  And there have been a few stand outs like A Court of Thorns and Roses and The Wrath and the Dawn to make me stomach them easier.  A close runner up goes to YA paranormal, it’s just been a very sad quarter to paranormal books.

Honorable Mentions:

Here are some books I really liked, that I thought deserved some recognition.

I really enjoyed this contemporary.  It really keeps you on edge trying to figure out what’s going and on and it’s heartbreaking.  There’s one subplot that doesn’t completely work, but it’s very easy to ignore in hindsight.

I loved how this book deals with a heavy topic and doesn’t romanticize it.  Bonus points for how the romance is treated in this book.

Best Cover:

Because you can totally take it out in public and people will think you[re reading some serious adult-y book.I also like that the is a meet between fantasy and contemporary on the cover (the feather has an ethereal quality about it and the town looks like it’s pretty much your stereotypical blah town).

Worst Cover:

Yes, I know it’s a kid’s book, but try taking this to the office or to the airport without getting strange looks for reading this. The thing is as far as cartoonish covers go it’s actually really good.  I like the the cover reflects the main characters’ physical appearance-there have been way to many a covers that white wash the MC-but again the bold pink letters all those other kids in the background and then the back it’s just something someone over the age of twelve is going to probably take off the soft jacket or just read the ebook edition to avoid strange looks. Funny thing is, the adult book almost has this problem to-I despise Mia’s two toned hair BUT it’s saved by the fact that there are no gaped mouth preteens in the background.

Best Overall Book:

This book.  Is just this book.  I love the characters (although, admittedly the main lead is a bit of a dumb ass) and it’s a retelling of my favorite fairytale.  So you know…

Worst Overall Book:

Ugh, yeah.  This one was just bad.  It made me like the original more, so NOT that happy.

Books I’m Looking Forward to Next Quarter:

Tim was my favorite supporting  character in the first book, so I am really interested in reading his story.

Look at that cover plus Gold Rush.

I have a thing for Captain Hook, so shoot me.  I blame Hook on Once Upon a Time damn accent and the vest of sex.

The Almost Quaterly Report: Seriously, That Time Again

This year has been going by fast.  I think in part because I started a new job in another state and had to move.  Anyway, let’s get down to business and look back at the books I’ve read this quarter:

Total Count:

As of March 21st I have read thirty-six books.  It will probably even out now that I started my new job and my reading time is limited to lunch, after work, and weekends.  However, I do think (knock on wood) I’ll get through my reading goal this year.

Biggest Surprise:

I though the blurb was too good to be true, but this is a really well written book, guys.  You should totally read it.   It should be a lot more hyped than it is.

Biggest Disappointment:

I like character driven books, but this one is just boring.  I’m sorry.  Nothing happened till the end.  It was a snore fest.

Most Diverse Book:

Yes, a new category, but I think diversity is a very important factor in YA and I want to acknowledge a book that shows diverse characters.  I really applaud IW Gregorio’s efforts with None of the Above while there were some issues with the supporting  characters in the novel, the intersex issues and the intersex character were well well done.

Best Contemporary:

 

This one I put on here at the last minute, but boy is this book worth it.  If you are looking for a good YA contemporary that hits all the feels.  Pick.  This.  Book.  Up.

Worst Contemporary:

Ugh.  Ugh.  Ugh.  I hated this book.  It was unrealistic on so many levels and really did not go into the meet of the issue-intersex and transexual issues.  Plus, it didn’t distinct that the two things ARE completely different (cough, read None of the Above for a good book about intersex issues, cough).

Best Paranormal:

Yes, it’s a little cheesy, but Mead writes some damn good YA paranormal.  And at it’s best, I think YA paranormal is a little cheesy.

Worst Paranormal:

Just a big fat cliche which is  a shame because tons of potential there.

Best Fantasy:

There’s just something about this fantasy series that makes it stand out.  Yes, it uses a lot of the lciches but there’s no long lost princess and the politics are actually not politics.  Not about long lost forbidden magic.

Worst Fantasy:

A lot of people really loved this one, but it was just the epitome of YA fantasy dystopia cliche.  No thank you.

Best Retelling:

This is one series that gets better and better with each installment.  I am really looking forward and dreading Winter because I don’t want it to end!

Worst Retelling:

Ugh, I DNF’d this one.  It’s one of those books where the main character seems way too young and stupid.  And the plot is nonsensical and not even existent.  Plus, there’s major women hating for absolutely no frickidickity reason.

Best Overall Book:

I want to say duh, but I think it would be a little rude.  Plus, after I started this post I read The Wrong Side of Right and it really was a contender for this reward.  But Fairest was masterfully done.  I really liked this small novel.  Because it doesn’t try to white wash Levana’s actions.  Instead, it builds on what a psychopath she is and you can see through the layers but not you know…want to say she misunderstood.  I think I really appreciate it after the disaster that Once Upon a Time has turned into.  I like Regina, but man don’t try to make Snow White look evil because she told on her about her secret boyfriend.  She was nine.

Worst Overall Book:

For a book that could’ve been so poignant, this book was ridiculous and insulting.   I really recommend that people read IW Gregorio’s book,  None of the Above, rather than this shit fest.  That book is very educational, this book is sensational.

Overall Thoughts:

A lot better start to books than I had in 2014.  I think in part because I’ve become more selective in my reading choices.  Though a part of me is hopeful that this year is a better reading year than 2014-looking at my GoodReads challenge I had a really sucky first quarter last year.

Books I’m Looking Forward to Next Quarter:

Um, yeah.  Obviously.  I want this one NOW!!!!!!! Yeah, I’ll act like a greedy little kid about this one and probably be unproductive the day it comes out and everyone will hate me, but you know what I won’t care.  Because Mia and Michael.

Hodge was one of my favorite debut writers in 2014, so I’m really looking forward to her next book.  The funny thing about this one is that you’d think it’s a companion novel to Cruel Beauty but it’s not.  Bad cover designers, bad.  Though it’s another fairytale retelling so you can’t exactly blame them.  And it’s gorgeous.

Prisoner of Night and Fog was a dark horse favorite of mine last year.  Really looking forward to what the sequel offers.

The Yearly Report: The Best and Worst of 2014

Everyone is vegging out on the TV after opening gifts and eating lots and lots of Christmas ham and cheesecake.  Hence, why I was able to get this blog post out so quickly.

Overall, 2014 was sort of a mixed year at best for me personally.  Some good things happened.  A lot of bad things happened.  And I read a lot of good, bad, and meh books. And now it’s time to discuss the best of the best and the worst of the worst.  To look at how I rated more books, please check the quarterly report.

Biggest Surprise:

 

I checked this one out at the library, but after reading it I preordered its sequel.  That’s how much this book surprised me.  The problem with historicals is that they are in a lot of ways confined to the events of their time period.  However, Blankman gave the story layers and nuances that made it unpredictable.

Biggest Disappointment:

 

Uh, I’m done with this series and most of the author’s books.  I might continue reading The Ring and the Crown till it jumps the shark-which is fairly common given de la Cruz’s track record-but the lack of continuity and the OOC of the characters from the YA series to adult series (no it’s not New Adult because these characters are not in their early to mid twenties-they’re in their early thirties) has sort of made write a Dear John letter to this series.

Best Contemporary:

I merely picked this one up because a fellow blogger (Gillian from Writer of Wrongs) raved about this book.  She was right.  It’s fantastic.  I like the way the relationship is built, the mystery, and the elements of the original series that were used versus the elements of originality that Marney added.

Worst Contemporary:

There were lots of bad contemporaries-actually.  This one stood out though because it had so much potential and it just took what should’ve been a strong heroine and made her very, very, weak.

Best Paranormal:

As I mentioned in the quarterly report, this is the epitome of what YA PNR should be. The pacing is excellent.  The ship is just oh so wonderful.  And it really is just a piece of art-save for its horrible cover.

Worst Paranormal:

Snickers.  Six foot tall leprechauns.  You know, it could’ve worked if there was some explanation about it.  But there never was.  In fact, this book became a laughing joke amongst the office I used to work at.  One of my coworkers and I would read passages from it and it was…well, memorable if gag worthy.

Best Retelling:

This is one of those books you’ll either really love or not so love.  I fell into the camp that liked it.  I liked how flawed these characters were and that Beauty wasn’t a nice person.  Neither was the Beast, but man I think that’s what made them work so well together.  There was some flaws with the pacing, but I think Hodge is an author to watch.

Worst Retelling:

Oh, God.  I just hoped that no one bought this book for their ten-year-old for Christmas.  I can just imagine the angry parents if that’s the case.  I don’t know what Legrand was trying to do with this book, but I think maybe it dealt with themes that might’ve been a little too mature for YA.

Best Fantasy:

Yeah, this one is probably on a lot of people’s lists. But it is really one of the best fantasies if not the best fantasy I’ve read in 2014.  I like the Roman/Greco inspired world. I like that we have  a heroine that’s mentally a bad ass, while physically not strong.

Worst Fantasy:

Yeah, this one…it should’ve been a lot cooler than it actually was.  Gender bending is one of those tropes I feel that has never really gotten its just desserts in YA.

Worst Book:

Don’t get me started.  I’m afraid I’ll start raging even a year later.  It’s that bad.  The thing about Big Fat Disaster that truly bothers me is that it had lots of potential to be original and to discuss issues that were actually pertinent and the book sort of blew it.

Best Book:

This book hits all of its punches and that’s why it’s the best book I’ve read this year.  This is one series that I’ve really taken to and I didn’t think I would like it initially.  Meyer has a way with words and plotting and  ships and….I just want the next book now.

 

The Almost Quarterly Report: Fall is in the Air!

It’s time to summarize another quarter of reading (woohoo).  I have to say, overall it was a far improvement from the second quarter where there were a lot of OMG why am I reading this.   Okay, so there were a few bombs.  But there were lots of good books to talk about as well.

 

Total Amount Read:  Thirty-six.  Yes, it seems impressive (well, to me at least), but there were lots of DNFs.  I also read a lot of short books as well.  Also, I had a couple of weeks off, so I was able to catch up on some reading then as well.

 

Biggest Surprise:

Um, dude.  If you haven’t, read this duology.  I want books more like this.  I was just expecting a cute little book with some light genie mythology, but Ribar actually writes a cute little book that discusses all different types of serious issues. I actually gave the first one in the duology five stars (which I hardly ever, ever) give.  Buy.  It.  Now.  Or at least library it. You won’t regret it.

Biggest Disappointment:

Lesson learned from this book: if you’re going to compare yourself to Sherlock and Dr. Who, you better be able to back up those claims.  Or at the very least, not seem like a poor fan fic.  Honestly, there were times when I squinted that this book really worked for me.  But for the most part, it was a big fat disappointment.  Except the duck.  The duck was amusing.  But not as amusing as this.

Best Contemporary:

Duh.  It really shouldn’t be that big of a surprise that a Stephanie Perkins novel wins this category hands down.  The thing was though, overall I was sort of disappointed in this book.  It hit the right buttons, but in comparison to Lola and Anna (which I reread this quarter) it just wasn’t doing it for me.  Sorry, Isla.  Maybe if you hadn’t ruined how I view rabbits we’d be better friends.

What’s more upsetting than the book was that I was totally going to go see Perkins and Kiersten White at a recent signing.  However, a stupid sinus infection got in the way so I spent the day in bed watching Dr. Who on Netflixs instead.

Well, the Dr. Who part was okay.

Worst Contemporary:

Ew.  Gross.  Would be the best way to describe this one.  I’m sorry, I just can’t take a book that describes the love interest looking like a young  Republican (what exactly does a young  Republican look like, since I know plenty of Republicans who look, well, different from each other) and a mother who decides to take it upon herself to teach an entire lunchroom vaginal exercises.  A little over the top and TMI, you think?

Best Paranormal: 

Honestly, I almost listed The Art of Wishing again, but because I like to feature as many books as I can on this post I’m putting Illusions of Fate here.  While it’s true I only gave this book three stars, it had a lot going for it.  And I have to say, I like the fact that it wasn’t a totally gritty and dark book (which seems to be the norm amongst the genre).  Sometimes it’s nice to have some fluff. Especially in historical paranormals which never seem to be fluffy.  Please, let fluffy historical paranormals become a trend.

Worst Paranormal:

It didn’t exactly get the lowest rating, but this one was probably the worst paranormal I read if you looked at expectations going in.  Blue Bloods was a series I once loved and it was like this new spinoff sequel did everything in its power to make me hate that series.  Seriously, why, why, do you ruin one of your best couples like that?  And late twenty somethings do not act like their in their forties and NOT everyone that age has decide whether they’re going to reproduce or not.  This book is just really scary of when author takes their series way too long after its expiration date.  Hopefully, de la Cruz will stop before her characters get to the age of Depends (at the rate this book is going at that will be the ripe old age of thirty-five).  And stop contradicting yourself.  If you can’t keep up with your mythos. Stop.  Just stop. And give me Kingsley.  And Jack.  And Oliver before you turned him into a tool.

 

Best Retelling:

I’ve never really been one for The Phantom of the Opera, but I loved this book.  Fine did an amazing job with incorporating the slaughterhouse setting in the book and the main character was sort of a refreshing change from the typical archetypes you get in YA.  I also loved how there was the perfect balance between character evolution and plot. And the best part, I didn’t get that Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtrack stuck in my head (okay, maybe I did).

Worst Retelling:

To be fair, I didn’t read that many retelling this quarter.  But even if I did, I’m pretty sure this one and its sequel would’ve been there.  I give a lot of leeway to self pub books, but God what was the point of this one?  It was like someone was going all fan girl over Colin O’Donoghue (Captain Hook in ABC’s Once Upon a Time) and wrote this book but made him blonde so that the reader couldn’t see that this was really a Colin O’Donoghue appreciation book.

It just didn’t work.

Add the fact that Peter Pan is aged up merely so that the reader can get a pointless love triangle.

And it’s no wonder why Captain Hook is always drinking rum on that show.

Best Overall Book:

Yeah, big surprise.  I mean, I did give it five stars.  And as I said before, I hardly ever give anything five stars.  Once again, if you haven’t.  Read this book.

Worst Overall Book:

Ugh.  I was actually really looking forward to this one.  In a genre that’s so full of WASP main characters, I live for stories about diverse protagonists.  Unfortunately, I felt like this one more or less bashed culture and religion.  Having a main character that is constantly ashamed of who she is is no bueno, especially into day and age where we need books that improve our knowledge and awareness about ones culture and beliefs.

Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading Next Quarter:

I feel like I’ve been plugging this book a lot lately on the blog.  But can I say, I’m really excited about it.  I’ll read anything jinni oriented in YA and I loved Something Real.

Claudia Gray is like my number one guilty pleasure novelist.  And lately I’ve been liking the whole alternate realities trend, so I think I could potentially get into this one (hopefully).  Oh, and is that Russia on the cover?  Books involving travel=win.

Even though it’s a companion novel, I’m still looking forward to this novel if the chemistry between these two characters is anything like the first book.  Plus, I think this trilogy has some of the prettiest covers ever.  Though, I do prefer the green flowy gown to the leather bodysuit.  Seriously, bodysuits.  Only Jennifer Garner (via Alias years) or Angelina Jolie can make them look acceptable.

The Almost Quarterly Report: A Meh Quarter

Well, the second quarter of the year is almost up.  Which means it’s time to do another quarterly report again.

Total Count: Thirty-three books.  A bit more than last quarter (27) and I’ve over achieved my GoodReads’s yearly reading goal  of fifty books. Woohoo.  Grant it, there were some DNFs this quarter.  But it still adds up.

Biggest Surprise:

Cinderella’s Dress has such a fantastic premises.  But it’s execution was  appalling.  A book with this sort of premises shouldn’t be boring, but it is.  So, so, boring.  And it’s one of the reasons I really don’t request ARCs that often unless I’m pretty sure I’m going to like the book.  Because this one..shudders.  No bueno.

 

Best Contemporary:

Yes, a Katie McGarry books wins the best contemporary for this quarter.  While there are some faults with this book, it’s enjoyable.  The characters are also well developed.  And it has a plot.  Always a big thing for a YA contemporary to succeed. If there is no plot, then God help you.

Worst Contemporary:

Well, there were lots and lots of contenders for this category, but Royally Lost managed to grab the crown in this category even though there were a couple of DNF-s as its competition.  I think what makes this book such a foul memory is that it had  elements in the book that I should’ve loved (royalty and European vacations) and sort of shitted on it.  Plus, I have a hard time believing any MC that thinks you can just Google a prince’s telephone number.

Best Paranormal:

This book was a solid sequel.  However,  it almost has a dark horse feel to it.  Under hyped, but if you do somehow find yourself reading it you are really wowed.  Solid world building.  Strong characters.  It is really a joy to read. I  just wish more people knew about it.  What’s even more applaud worthy about this particular installment is that its the second book in the series.  Yes, it does not suffer from middle book syndrome.

Worst Paranormal:

I feel really  bad about this.  This book was written by a teenager, and I thought about not putting it on my list because she’s young and I think a lot of the issues in this novel are based on experience.  But out of the paranormals I’ve read this quarter, it’s one of the worst.  And even though a part of me really wanted to put City of Heavenly Fire as the winner to this particular category,   it is a better book than Take Back the Skies.

Best Retelling:

This Cinderella retelling was the perfect retelling.  Hodge is probably one of my favorite debut authors this year.  I just love what she does to fairytales.  She gives them layers and twists them in such ways that you’re just feel your emotions drained as you go through the story.  And she managed to do this in a novel with Gilded Ashes. 

 

Worst Retelling:

This seemed to be a book that was a little too over hyped for my tastes.  It just didn’t live up to expectations and after reading half a dozen or so reviews for this one, I still don’t get the appeal.   It’s not a bad book, but it’s not that special.  And seriously, while they got the shoes right on the cover.  They said ruby slippers in the book which is so wrong (read the actual Baum book).

Best Overall Book:

I honestly don’t know.  There were a lot of books that I liked this quarter of the year, but nothing stands out as the best book (A lot of February releases kicked their ass).  Or for that matter, there really weren’t that many books I can say that I liked that much to be a top pick.  While I did like quite a few books this quarter, the majority of them had faults.  And there were only a couple that got over the three star threshold on good reads.  Those books (Pushing the Limits and Shadow and Bone) were great but not that great.

Worst Overall Book:

This is a fuck fest.

Yeah, I hated that book that much.

I actually returned it to Barnes and Noble.  This is the sort of YA book that makes me angry.  If I didn’t know better I would think that Fantaskey does not take her audience seriously.  The main character is immature and the whole plot line is ludicrous.

Avoid.

Avoid.

Avoid.

Overall Thoughts:  Looking back at a lot of my reviews this quarter, I haven’t exactly been a happy reviewer.  While there were lots of books rated in the B zone (three stars) I only rated maybe two four star books and no five star books.  And there were lots of ones.  The good news is that most of these bombs didn’t infuriate me as much as the previous quarter’s bombs.  The bad news is the ones that did stick out have me wondering just how many twinkies publishers were consuming.

Books That I’m Looking Forward to Reading Next Quarter:

 

In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

Source: GoodReads

Oh yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to this one.   High fantasy and as much as I hate to say it a love triangle that actually looks like it could be interesting.

 

 

A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . .

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.

Source: GoodReads

Anything that has jinnis in it and I’m game.  I also have an ARC of this one, so I’m really forward to reading this one soon.

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted…which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

Source: GoodReads

I’m a little skeptical about this one since I deplored Starcrossed with every square inch of my being, but the premises looks awesome so I’m willing to give it a chance. Hopefully, it will end up on my best instead of my worst list next quarter.

The Almost Quarterly Report

It’s almost April which means almost a quarter of the year has gone by.  Which means, its time for me to introduce a new feature: The Almost Quarterly Report.  In which I examine my reading choices.

Amount of books Read: Twenty-Seven according to that GoodReads Challenge app thing.  Actually, I think it’s been really twenty-eight because I didn’t track my reading progress for one of them (whatever, we’ll keep the twenty-seven for prosperity’s sake).

Biggest Surprise: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.  This one has been over hyped and then some, so I was expecting to be a bit disappointed.  But amazingly, I enjoyed it just as much as everyone else did.  Am I really changing my black sheep ways?

Worst Overall Book: Oh, by far this goes to Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum.  It was the first book I read this year and it really left a HORRIBLE impact on me.  It is so trigger inducing, so insulting on so many levels.  I just try to block it out.  I think what really made this one THE worst was the fact it had all these sensitive issues and where it could’ve taken its time to deal with them delicately it just shitted all over the place.  And I don’t care, but any mother who tells you it’s okay to stick a finger in your mouth and vomit needs to have their parental rights terminated.

Best Debut: Probably Something Real by Heather Demetrios.  I almost gave this one to Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, but Something Real  is overall a much more solid book.  If you like trashy TLC shows,  Something Real is a great behind the scenes fictional account about how much dysfunction is really behind these shows.

Weirdest Book: See Me by Wendy Higgins.  I almost think Higgins wrote this on a bet that she couldn’t make leprechauns sexy.  Well, she didn’t.  This book falters in a lot of ways where it really shouldn’t.  I get that this was independently published, but still Higgins has a fairly successful series out there-she should know better than naming her hero after a vegetable that is almost as infamous as asparagus. Runner up, goes to Fates by Lanie Bross.  Dear freaking lord, I didn’t even understand the point of that book.

Pretty much sums up this book.

Best Book: I’m going to give it to Cress by Marissa Meyer.  I really loved that book.  It was just what I wanted.  This series just keeps getting better and better.  To be honest, I was a little nervous about this book because Rapunzel (the traditional NOT Disney Rapunzel) is a bit of a drip.  However, Cress well she kicks butt without being ridiculously unrealistic.  Oh, and did I mention that there is just so much swoon in this book.

Most Disappointing Book: Sadly, there were so many in this category and in the end I had to give this one a tie for new books the crown goes to Evertrue by Brodi Ashton.  I just had such high hopes for the finale series and I got a book that read like a sophomore slump.  The other winner would be Second Star by Alyssa B Sheinmel.  This book was supposed to be a Peter Pan retelling.  The only thing Peter Pan about it was  the characters names.

Overall Thoughts: So far, this year has been a mixed bag.  There has been some fantastic stuff, but there has been some shitastic stuff as well.  Hopefully, the next quarter will be stronger (we can only hope).  Here are some of the books that are coming out/or that I’m planning on reviewing in the next reading period.

 

I have really high hopes for this one.  However, I haven’t been a fan of de la Cruz’s past few releases.  I can only hope that this one will be like her early Blue Bloods books or I really think I’m going to her on my library only list.

 

 

Another author’s whose books can go either way.  I’m actually excited about this one, even though it does look like a little bit of a Pretty Little Liars knock out.  Because hello, ballet.

 

 

 

Because after the last book, I know it’s going to be a cluster fuck of a mess and that in itself can be interesting in a sad sort of way.  Plus, I think I might make a drinking game with this book and that’s always fun.