I’m Back!

Hello!

It seems like ages since I last wrote a post and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep up this blog. Last month was filled with craziness, both good and bad, and I just didn’t have the time to read, let alone write about reading. I’ve been needing a break for awhile now and finally decided to take one after three years of blogging. I’ve never been the most prolific or consistent of bloggers, but I’ve always tried to aim for at least once a week posts. But I’ve been feeling like I’ve put too much pressure on myself about the whole blogging thing. This is supposed to be fun, but I’ve been turning it into a chore and stressing about the number of views or likes. But I’m not going to worry about that anymore. I’m going to post when and if I feel like it and forgive myself for setting aside different hobbies when a week gets too overwhelming.

But now to the books!

I didn’t read as much as I would have like this spring, but here are the books I did have time to get to:

March:

The Circle by Dave Eggers

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Beast Within by Serena Valentino

April:

Twelve Kings in Sharakai by Bradley Beaulieu

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

May:

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

I enjoyed most of what I read and learned a lot from the nonfictions, so I’d say it was a good season of reading even though I didn’t read a ton. I’ve already read five books this month, all of which I’ve loved, so I think I’m back on track! I’ll be starting The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry today and couldn’t be more excited!

Bye for now. The books are calling!

Fantastical Fiction: Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

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Hello!

I’m here today with some thoughts on Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley Beaulieu, book one in the Song of the Shattered Sands series. The story begins with our main character Ceda, a pit fighter living in the grand desert city of Sharakhai. She scrapes out a living fighting as the famous White Wolf and by doing odd jobs for the owner of the pits. But Ceda has also been biding her time. As a child, Ceda witnessed the death of her mother at the hands of the twelve Kings of Sharakhai and she means to make them pay. From there, the story begins to unravel as Ceda and her friend Emre are swept up in a conspiracy against the kings and Ceda is forced to confront the secrets of her past.

After finishing The Wrath and the Dawn series by Renee Ahdieh last year, I was looking for another fantasy series set in a desert realm. Twelve Kings in Sharakhai had really positive reviews and seemed like something I could sink my teeth into as one of my issues with The Wrath and the Dawn series was that it was too short. I was sure I was going to love Twelve Kings in Sharakhai after reading the first couple of pages, but sadly, I ended up having mixed feelings about the novel. I enjoyed the setting and the mythology but neither were explored enough for me. The plot, which promised to be suspenseful on the blurb, didn’t keep me interested and I found that I could guess certain reveals before they happened. Speaking of the reveals, they didn’t feel earned to me. The set-ups and the pay-offs happened too quickly and didn’t take advantage of the length of the novel. Beaulieu utilized many flashbacks to Ceda’s childhood in order to tell the story and it seemed like he would throw them in as exposition right before the information came up again in the present day story. Ceda never seemed to know the information from the flashbacks until the reader did, even though each flashback should have been a part of her past. It would have been interesting to see what the story could have been if it was told in chronological order because the flashbacks continuously slowed the story down. I think they would have better served the narrative if the reader was allowed to follow the story as it unraveled rather than being kept at a distance through memory.

I also found it hard to connect to the characters. I really wanted to like Ceda but she never leapt off the page for me. Emre’s character improved as the story progressed but he never became a favorite of mine. Oddly, I was more interested in some of the secondary characters than I was in the main two. The kings themselves were also strange because I felt like I was being told how terrible they are rather than seeing them do terrible things. The reader is given occasional glimpses into the power of the kings but mostly, the city of Sharakhai seems to be pretty peaceful and calm. Once every six weeks something terrible happens, but even that is framed in a way that isn’t as terrifying as it should be. There didn’t seem to be any depth to the narrative and never once did I feel shocked, or scared, or any strong emotion for that matter.

I don’t know if I will be continuing with this series. I might give the second book a chance just to see if Beaulieu will add any depth. Maybe Twelve Kings in Sharakhai suffers from being the first book in a series and having to set up a world. I’m not sure yet.

Let me know what you think of this series and if the second book is worth picking up.

Bye!

March 2017 Book Haul

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Hello!

I’m here today with my March book haul. This month I purchased four books. They are:

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond: This is a nonfiction book that uses real life accounts to investigate the rise of poverty in America’s urban areas. It seems to me that many of the problems in the US arise from income inequality and poverty, so I want to learn more about these issues and what can be done about them.

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson: I’ve read two of Larson’s books now and loved both of them, so I decided to pick up another. This one looks into life in Berlin during the rise of Nazi Germany seen through the eyes of an American family living there. Larson has the great ability to relate historical information in a way that reads like a novel and I can’t wait to learn more about this time period.

The Queen of the Blood by Sarah Beth Durst: This is the first book in a new fantasy series that I came across while browsing online. It is set in a world where everything in nature has a spirit and these spirits are constantly struggling against the human world. Only the Queen can control them and she is always in danger. This follows a young woman training to be the Queen’s heir and her journey to find out more about the malevolent spirits. I hadn’t heard of this author or this book before, but it sounds really interesting.

And finally, the book not pictured:

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson: I’ve read three of Atkinson’s novels with Life After Life being my favorite. This is a companion novel to that book set during WWII following one of the characters from Life After Life as he navigates the disintegrating world around him. I’ve been excited for this for a while and am happy to finally have it waiting for me on my shelf.

What books have you acquired this month? Have you read any of these? Let me know!

Bye!

A Little Catch-Up

Hello!

I know, I know, it’s been a couple of weeks. Honestly, I just haven’t had the time or the motivation to put together coherent posts. This whole working-two-jobs-while-going-back-to-school thing is a lot more stressful than I thought it would be. And I’m still taking the easy classes guys! I also haven’t felt like I’ve had much to say or that I’ve had any great ideas for posts, which has contributed to my absence. There just isn’t a lot of room in my brain at the moment and my reading has slowed down a bit because of the lack of free time. But I’ll keep at it, just a little less consistently.

I recently finished The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden and would highly recommend it if you are a fan of fairy tale retellings or Russian literature. I really enjoyed the tension throughout the novel between the pagan belief system and Christianity, as well as the main character Vasya, who is far braver than I’ll ever be.

Also, if you haven’t seen Beauty and the Beast yet, GO SEE IT! It was everything I wanted it to be and so much more. The cast is perfect, the design is beautiful, and now I love Dan Stevens.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Bye!

Winter 2016-2017 Reading Wrap-up

Hello!

Here is my reading wrap-up from December to February. In total I read 12 books. Here they are:
December:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb

Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath

January:

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (reread)

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (Audiobook) reread

February:

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance (Audiobook)

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Stats: 

Genre: 2 Fantasy, 1 Classic, 3 Non-fiction,  2 Supernatural/Historical, 1 Mystery, 3 Literary Fiction

Type: 2 Audiobooks, 10 physical books

Age Range: 1 YA/Children, 11 adult

2 rereads, 10 new

Favorite: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb. This book concluded the Farseer Trilogy perfectly. I loved the detail Hobb put into the story and the secrets of her world that she is only starting to reveal. Fans of fantasy should definitely check this out.

Least Favorite: If I had to pick, I’d say A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. But honestly, it isn’t a bad book. In fact, it is quite a good book. The subject matter is just so tragic so I can’t really say that I “enjoyed” reading it. I am glad I read it but it wasn’t an easy read for sure.

I had a pretty good winter of reading overall. There wasn’t one book that I regret reading or that I just flat out didn’t like. Another favorite is definitely Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I was able to read some new books and some books I’d had on my shelves for too long. I also read quite a variety of genres and am quite happy with this list! Let me know what you’ve been reading!

Bye!