Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy New Year from River

photo~*~ Happy New Year ~*~

Wow. I am SO glad that 2013 is over. It was probably one of the hardest years of my life. I’m actually not sure what to say other than a lot happened, not all of it good, BUT some major goals were met and if things play out like I hope they do, 2014 should be an awesome, life changing year. But I’ll keep that to myself for now and just hope that in a few months I will be making a super exciting update. 

2013 was the YEAR OF READING. As I’ve posted about in the past, I’ve been a huge reader all my life, but due to a lot of things I just wasn’t making it as much of a priority as I used to. And that’s really what reading is about… making it a priority in your life. If you don’t make time to read, then you probablyyyyyy aren’t going to do it. And this year I did. As much as it was a return to a hobby that I LOVE, it was also an escape from a lot of the shit that was 2013. 

Hilariously, in my first post of 2013 I made a list of the 62 books that I WAS.GOING.TO.READ. And I ended up reading 22 of them. Now, if you want to see the 135 books that I DID read, check out my goodreads challenge

2013 was The Year of ARCs. I discovered eARCs thanks to my lovely Sam, and after some months of struggling to figure out what publishers wanted from me, I finally managed to get pre-approved for some major publishers and I am now rolling in the ARCs. So much that I had to make a system for READING all of them. And thus my crazy ARC schedule was born. Basically, on goodreads, I have a shelf for each month. Then I tag the ARC with the month BEFORE it comes out (out in May? Tag it for April!) and then at the start of each month I read ALLLLLLLL the ARCs before going onto published books. So far it’s working REALLY well. 

So here are my ARCs for January. I’ve actually already read 3 on the list and DNFed 1. So here are the ones that I’m going to be cracking away at starting from tomorrow!

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But right now I’m just re-reading The Raven Boys & The Dream Thieves because I’m on vacation and I’ll do what I want to and GANSEYYYYYYY. 

Happy New Year guys! I hope everyone is able to ring it in with someone they care about, and that 2014 (year of the horse) is kind to everyone (myself included!!!)

 

ARC Review – Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sable

18599709Title:  Vivian Divine is Dead

Author: Lauren Sable

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: In this fast-paced adventure set in Mexico, teen celebrity Vivian Divine goes on the run after receiving a death threat, and discovers that everything she thought she knew about her charmed life—and the boy she loves—is a lie.

 

 

Huge thank you to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for an advance copy of this book.

Sam’s Review:

Vivian Divine is Dead might be one of the weirdest books I’ve read in a long time. The pace moves at lightning speed with no sense of stopping, and yet when you reach the end of the book, you question a little bit as to what the heck you just read. This book is weird. Like, really weird at times.

I think the best way to describe this book is Stockholm Syndrome. Vivian is kidnapped, yet she’s… okay with it most of the time? It seems a bit odd, but it would have played better had our protagonist not been so bratty or delusional. Part of the problem is that Vivian comes across flat and stereotypical for a rich girl and it doesn’t do her any favors. Yet, her circumstances made you want to turn pages and see what the heck was happening to her.

I really, really, hate the romance in this novel. Nick is an awful character who is simply too all over the place to really enjoy. He’s a crappy person, does crappy things, yet a lot of the time Vivian just brushes it aside, meanwhile you find yourself asking “what the heck is so interesting about this tool?” I just didn’t understand the connection — I don’t mind a character that plays both sides, but a lot of his motivations felt so awkwardly put together that I just felt very unsure most of the time. Nick, you and I will continue to be having words.

Vivian Divine is such an awkward duck and in a lot of ways it was hard to engage with because you expect more from the characters and the situation they are involved in. Yes there’s living dangerously and being free spirited, but I wanted more than just what the rush provided for me. I still found myself asking more questions, and feeling like everything wrapped up a bit too nicely for its own good.

River’s End of Year Book Survey

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1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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

Just One Day by Gayle Foreman

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Tie between The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys. My friend Melissa kept pushing them on me and I REALLY had no interest in them at all. I got The Raven Boys when it was on sale in the kindle store and even THEN it sat on my TBR shelf for a VERY long time. It was only when I got an ARC of The Dream Thieves that I decided to finally read it and then… well, if you know me, you know how THAT went. So I finally decided to try The Scorpio Races and THAT was amazing as well.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

The Raven Boys

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. I know it’s not finished yet, but I read the first two and they’re the start so it counts.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Maggie Stiefavter and Jessi Kirby. It’s a tie between the two of them! I love their books SO much!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Before I read this book I was NOT a fan of contemporary. I’d read Sarah Dessen books, but those were IT. So reading this was very different for me.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Tie between Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne and Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Raven Boys… I’m actually already re-reading it and 2013 isn’t even over yet!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

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11. Most memorable character in 2013?

Maggie from AKA & Going Rouge by Robin Benway! Omg she is my FAVORITE!!!!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Golden by Jessi Kirby

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Tie between The Raven Boys and Golden. I feel like Golden had an impact on me in a very emotional way, but The Raven Boys somehow became my NUMBER ONE BOOK OF EVER.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

The entire Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. Well… maybe I can believe that I waited so long because… zombies.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

She asked, “Is this thing safe?” “Safe as Life,” Gansey replied. Blue & Gansey from The Raven Boys

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest – An Autumn Dream by Melissa Giorgio
Longest – Feed by Mira Grant

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I actually can’t think of anything right now, but I’m sure there was TONS of stuff that I ranted and raved about to Sam!

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Roar and Perry in the Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Tie between The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black and Mind Games by Kirsten White

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

The Raven Boys

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

Contemporary. I went through a HUGE contemporary kick over the spring and summer and I LOVED it. So glad I got super into that genre!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Ganseyyyyyyyyyy (from The Raven Boys)

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy MicGinnis

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Coda by Emma Trevayne

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

AKA by Robin Benway

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. I SOBBED through the end of this.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas! OMG this book is insane and I felt like NOBODY was talking about it. There should have been a collective OMG heard around the world the night it came out because everybody should have read it and been all OMFG at the ending!!!

Annnnnd in NO particular order, my

TOP TEN FAVS OF 2013

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12578313anna and the french kiss

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What are your tops 10 books read in 2013? Leave your list in the comments!

ARC Review – Sekret by Lindsay Smith

15673520Title:  Sekret

Author: Lindsay Smith

Rating: ★★★ 1/2 & ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Yulia’s father always taught her that an empty mind is a safe mind. She has to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia, especially because she seems to be able to read the minds of the people she touches. When she’s captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she’s thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power where she can trust no one. 

I received an ARC from the publisher and I’m writing this honest review to say thank you.

River’s Review: 

3.5 Stars

I wanted to love Sekret more than I did. Spies. SPIES GUYS. I love anything with spies. And this wasn’t just spies, it was PSYCHIC RUSSIAN SPIES. Which was so cool.

Overall I enjoyed the setting of this book a lot, but I sometimes have trouble getting into historical books and that might have just been one of the parts that disconnected me from this book. Another part was that it was slow. I would read for an hour and be like ‘wow, I read so much!’ and then update my status and be shocked to see that I’d only read like 30 pages. I just feel like it took me FOREVER to read this. And it wasn’t that long and it wasn’t boring it was just… slow.

The entire thing wasn’t slow though. When they went on missions it was really tense and I was totally sucked in! But when they were training at school and stuff I just never felt fully engaged.

Despite that the writing was beautiful, and I loved the imagery that flowed through the words. I also enjoyed learning about Russia and the atmosphere of the book.

I did like the characters, and felt so bad for Sergei at times, he just was like such a huge puppy dog trying so hard to make the best of everything and then there’s dark, mysterious, musical Valentin who steals everyone’s hearts through his dark eyes. Ugh, it was hard to pick who to swoon over.

I DID like that I didn’t see the twist coming and I want to know SO much more about how all of that came to be! Maybe in the next book?

So if you like historical fiction, then you’ll love this. If you like spies, then you’ll love this. If you like psychic teens then you’ll like this. If you like all of these, then you’ll LOVE this.

Sam’s Review:

4.5 Stars

I am a huge fan of books that take place in Russia or use Russian history as a backdrop. I also love spy and espionage story, so Sekret won me over with its premise alone. Turns out, there was also an excellent novel hidden in this book!

Although this is Smith’s debut, this is one of those books where you can’t tell it’s in fact, a debut. The writing is tight, tension filled, and memorizing. I found I had a hard time putting Sekret down every time I started it, because I had to know what was happening to these characters and this world. The writing makes everything feel so vivid and terrifying, I literally jumped a few times just because Smith took turns I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

Seriously, the plot twist alone int his book makes it worth the read. I didn’t see it coming, and it’s definitely something that will make your jaw-drop. Also Sergei needed like, all the hugs in this book. All of them. I just loved all the characters, and I thought Yulia was a fabulous protagonist to follow. She has great convictions, strength and determination, and it’s no wonder why people fear her gifts in a lot of ways. With the way the novel ended, I’m struggling to wait for book two. I really am.

Sekret is slow, but thoughtful. Engaging, but creepy. There’s so much to love in the writing, characters and world building that I feel like Smith wrote an almost grand-slam. I do think the pacing will bother some readers, but when slow burns are done the right way, they often can be the most interesting reads of all.

Merry Christmas — From RIVER?!

Hey guys, check it out, I’m BACK! Merry Christmas! It’s officially Christmas here in Japan. I have to work (Christmas isn’t a national holiday here) so I’m up early to try and enjoy some festivities as much as I can (mainly just listening to Christmas music). I celebrated with the husband over the weekend though. We had a few lovely dates with lots of food and Christmas lights.

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So… y’all must be wondering WHAT HAPPENED. I’ll write a huge post about that later in the week but my busy days are over for now! Only… next week is my winter vacation and husband and I are planning on traveling and I probably wont be back to BLOGGING-blogging until after the new year… but that’s okay! I have LOADS of fun stuff planned and I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things! But this past year has been crazy, both in my reading life and my personal life. Again, stuff I’ll blog about later. So for now, Merry Christmas, I hope Santa brings you piles and piles of books!

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And since Sam posted her list of bookish-resolutions I think I’ll follow with my own:

1. Kill the eBook TBR pile: So 2013 was the year of eDeals and ARCs. I have omg, I don’t even know how many ARCs to read right now… but I also have about 40 eBooks that I bought over the year and… they’re just sitting on my eReader waiting to be read. AND I STILL KEEP BUYING MORE. So that READ ALL THE TBR LIST.

2. Book-buying ban: I used to limit myself to book that I REALLY REALLY WANTED and then I limited myself to edeals. Now I’m not even going to let myself buy those UNLESS it’s a new release (like, within the year) that’s on special sale. And even then it must be 1.99 or less.

3. Read all the ARCs first: My Netgalley dashboard is fairly under control but since I was pre-approved by HarperTeen AND Harlequin Teen on Edelweiss (and Simon Pulse seems to like me quite a fair bit now) my EW shelf is OUT OF CONTROL. I’ve devised a system for reading ARCs (I made shelves on goodreads listing the ARCs that I need to read for the month) and so far I’m killing it. So I really want to keep this up.

4. No more ‘Review to come’ reviews: Okay, so with my hiatus these past 6 months it’s a wonder that I even managed to READ all that I did… but part of that was because I wasn’t blogging and writing reviews… which was bad. I did submit feedback for NG & EW but they weren’t proper posted reviews half the time. Half of the books I read this past year have ‘review to come!’ reviews and I know that I’ll never actually get around to doing that… so now that I’m not so busy I really want to make sure to review things AT LEAST within the week of having finished it.

5. Giveaway books: If everything works out the way I pray it does… I should be moving back to the USA in 2014. This means packing and… packing. Also packing BOOKS. I don’t have that many physical books because I just don’t have space for them… but I have accumulated quite the pile over the past year and I know that a lot of these books I really don’t need nor will I ever read them again. So like Sam said, I might do a mystery box giveaway in the spring and give away some of these. I’m also going to give some to Sam (shhh, don’t tell her, haha). I really should only keep my favorites.

Christmas Book-Tube-A-Thon & Bookish New Years Resolutions

Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well for the holidays. For those like River who are in Japan or other parts of the world: Merry Christmas! For Canadians and Americans, Happy Christmas’ Eve. I thought it’d be fun to take a break from the insane amount of reviews to share an update on Book-Tube-A-Thon and some of my Bookish New Years’s Resolutions.

First off, Book-Tube-A-Thon was a smash hit. They were running challenges from the 20th to the 22nd, and it ended at midnight. I ended up reading four books for the event:

  • The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate (5 stars)
  • Half-Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan (4 stars)
  • Daughter of the Forest, by Juliette Marillier (4 stars)
  • Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan (5 stars)

Overall, I had an amazing experience with the event. They were running book sprints, asking people to take pictures of favourite quotes, what they were reading, it was just such a great and relaxing event. You never felt pressured to read if you were tired. I’ll definitely be participating again sometime in the near future.

Bookish New Years Resolutions

BcQ63rzCYAA7nu7Meet “The Shelf of Shame” as my spouse calls it. He’s been teasing me for years about how I one day we’re going to live in a house overrun by books. We actually have over twelve book shelves in the house, but this one is specifically my pile of books that I have bought and have not read. This does not include the books my spouse and I share that I haven’t read (which is A LOT).

I want to work on a few bookish things for the new year, so here’s a few things that have been on my mind.

  • Read More, Spend Less: Although I read roughly 200 books a year, it’s funny how the Shelf of Shame doesn’t feel like it goes down. This is because I am the Queen of reading the new and shiny gems that end up in my hands. My goal is to try to buy less books and read what I have. Same goes with the Kindle backlog (which is bad as well).
  • Use the Library… even more: I love my local library. It has an amazing and very up to date selection of books. I’d love to even work at my local library if I could (finish library school first!). If there’s a series I am curious about or bought the first book and thought “eh that was okay,” I’ll just get the rest from the library and save my wallet a beating. Of course, I want to read more of what I own first, so we’ll see about how my dates at the library go. We may have to break up and make up a lot next year.
  • Donate/Purge: The reality is, I need to  stop keeping books I likely will never read, lean or save. I have tons of old books I need to donate, and if I read something my collection that makes me go “eh,” into the donation pile it goes so that way someone else can hopefully enjoy it. I donated over ten bags of books last year, hopefully I can donate a bit more.
  • Have At Least One Used Book Store Binge: Since my father passed away, I’ve made less trips downtown, so I haven’t done my annual “Used Bookstore Day” with some of my girlfriends. It pissed me off in fact, that I couldn’t get my act together to have that one day where I see how much I can get and for how cheap. In 2014, this is happening.
  • Go to Mable’s Fables and Re-Reading: Living in Toronto there are so many unique bookstores, and two I have my heart set on visiting are Mable’s Fables & Re; Reading. Hopefully I get to them at some point next year. 🙂
  • ARCs: I’m not going to lie, I love receiving ARCs. I feel like it’s Christmas when I get a physical one in the mail or Netgalley and Edelweiss tell me there’s new goodies for download. However, once I finish reading a lot of the physical ones, I never know what to do with them. So perhaps I shall host a few mystery box ARC giveaways throughout 2014? Yeah, I think you’d like that idea, readers. 😉 Also just more giveaways in general!
  • Practice Cataloguing More: As a library student, this is just something I’m going to have to practice more whether I like it or not. BANE OF MY EXISTENCE (except not really, I don’t mind it, there’s just lots to remember).
  • READ: 2013 has been probably the roughest year of my life. Well, that’s a lie, from 2011 to 2013 has been the toughest time in my life. Reading has helped me cope with a lot of the fears and anxieties I have faced and it’s my hobby that continues to always give me new worlds to explore and characters to all in love with. I hope to read at least another 200 books next year, but who knows where life will take me, eh?

And that’s it. Let me know in the comments what some of your reading resolutions are. I’d love to hear them. Also if you see any books in the Shelf of Shame picture that I should have read by now and haven’t, TELL ME. I’m always looking for suggestions on what to read that I already own. I hope everyone has a Happy Holiday and an Amazing New Year! 🙂

ARC Review – She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

18926796Title:  She Is Not Invisible

Author: Marcus Sedgwick 

Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers–a skill at which she’s remarkably talented. Her secret: She is blind. But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness. She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.

Sam’s Review:

Huge thank you to Macmillian and Netgalley for providing me with an advance reader copy of this book.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get with She is Not Invisible, and truthfully what I ended up getting was something I wasn’t at all impressed with. This book has many great ideas, but these great ideas are never fully realized, and often even go ignored. If I could sum this book up into two words it would be wasted potential.

I love the idea of reading a novel where a character has a disability. I love to see how author interpret disability in literature, and I will give Sedgwick credit for creating a very positive approach to this topic. I love the fact that even though Laureth is blind, the novel has a lot of auditory moments where you can sense the heighten of sounds that surround her. But this also leads me into my first set of complaints: half the time the book forgets that Laureth is blind. In a lot of ways this novel is VERY visual, and to the point where you could see the book struggling with what it means to show versus tell, with showing winning out in a few major instances. If your protagonist is blind, shouldn’t the novel lean more towards telling? Well it does to an extent, but you can see the fumbling between both ideologies. A lot of the time Laureth behaved as though she had sight, and seldom were we reminded that she was in fact, a blind person.

I’ll admit, I love that Laureth is strong, but I found myself frustrated by the fact that her being blind felt so meaningless in this novel. Everything felt too easy and to the point where you ask yourself what was the point of making her blind in the first place. Moreover, I thought it was odd how all the adults in this novel seemed so moronic and stupid. In one instance, Laureth and Benjamin are able to get on a plane with ease and without an adult and no one in the airport questions this, even though they probably should? These were the moments where Sedgwick remembered that Laureth was blind, and these moments really ruined what strength he could have gave to this character. I just kept asking myself why he bothered to make her blind if he wasn’t going to use that to its full potential. Every situation that Laureth gets out of also just felt so Scooby-Doo that it was very hard to take the novel seriously. Believe-ability was something I definitely struggled with while reading She is Not Invisible.

It also doesn’t help that the writing in this book is surprisingly boring. For a topic that could have been more interesting than it was, I was horribly disappointed with the narrative flow and use of language. Often philosophical ideas were through in, but the connections were never strong enough to Laureth’s narrative and moreover, they often felt thrown in for the sake of being thrown in. If you’re going to add this type of content, give it a concrete purpose and really make it connect to the narrative in such a way where the reader can appreciate it being there. Then the ending comes along and everything feels so anti-climatic that I felt like the book had been just such a waste of time and potential. I feel like if you’re going to create to a mystery novel with a blind protagonist, you need to make her struggles feel more realistic and honest, and this book felt so hokey a lot of the time that I found myself rolling my eyes more often than not.

I love when authors try to take a chance and include issues of disability within texts. I love being given a new point of view where I get into the shoes of someone else and attempt to understand their trials and tribulations. But the author made everything feel too comfortable and too easy that it killed the intrigue for me. I expected so much from this great idea and I got very little in return. Is it a bad book? No, because the ideas are there, they just happen to be very flawed. If you’re the type of person who struggles to suspend their disbelief and suspend itfar, you will have a hard time with this book and I can’t recommend it. If you’re someone where this doesn’t bother you, there are neat ideas in this story that just needed further exploration. I want to recommend this novel, but considering the end result its a difficult call to make.