Five Books I Want to Read This April By New To Me Authors

One of the reading challenges that was provided to me by a friend for the month of April was to read more books by authors who were new to me. I own so many books by authors I’ve never read before but having been dying to check out for years. I thought I’d share with you guys five books I hope to tackle this month but authors who are definitely new to me, or who may be debut authors who I may want to read more of in the future.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love
by Maurene Goo (Release Date: May 30th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

I saw this book while I was at OLA back in Feburary, and had been at Raincoast Books booth. The cover really caught my attention, and when I read th back, I knew it would be the kind of contemporary story I’d adore. This book is for the Kdrama fans, and those who love fun romance fluff. I also like that the heroine feels like Kdramas are going to be the way to understanding romance and dating. I am very excited to read this book, and isn’t the cover adorable? IT’S ADORABLE.

When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon (Release Date: May 30th 2017 by Simon Pulse)

This is an upcoming debut that I have been so excited to read since it appeared on my doorstep. If I am being honest, part of me wished I had read it as soon as I had gotten it, while the other half of me kept saying “No, wait until closer to release.” I’ve only heard positive things about When Dimple Met Rishi both as a romance novel and as a comedy. While I am not always the biggest romance lover, books like this one come along and they basically scream “SHUT UP YOU LIKE ROMANCE NOW READ ME.” Also I love reading about other cultures and this comes from the perspective of two Indian-American teens whose families want to instill parts of their culture that don’t necessarily work nicely with American culture. I feel like this is going to be a very fun read.

Short
by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Released on January 31st 2017 by Dial Books)

So I am going to point out that I actually own two books by this author (the other being Counting By 7s) and somehow I haven’t read anything by her yet? Many of my friends who I trust and who love middle grade adore Holly Goldberg Sloan’s books. Short definitely caught my eye because it’s focuses on The Wizard of Oz, which I LOVE. Regardless, this month I am going to read one of her books. The ultimate question really will be which one!

Prep School Confidential (Prep School Confidential #1)
by Kara Taylor (Released on July 30th 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin)

Over the years, Molly my amazing co-blogger has sent me lots of books. This particular series is one she sent me her extra copy of and told me it was a fun and quick read. I’ve been needing more fun and quick in my life, and I feel like this is the kind of silly teen mystery novel that will just pass the time and be delightfully entertaining. It’ll be good to get some non-ARCs off my TBR this month!

The Girl with All the Gifts (The Girl With All The Gifts #1)
by M.R. Carey (Released on June 19th 2014 by Orbit)

So I have had my copy of The Girl With All the Gifts since last summer and still haven’t read it. Story of my life. The worst part is that this book has insane hype behind it, every friend who has read it has loved the living crap out of it, and I’ve been told it’s just one of those highly originally stories that seems to stick with you long after the story is over. I need to get back into reading more adult fiction, and clearly I need to make time to read this beloved novel. I feel like this book is totally up my alley and I keep going “I’ll get to it later!” Real answer however: NEED TO READ SOONER NOT LATER.

So these are five books by five authors I’ve never read that I’d like to tackle soon. Have you read any of these books? If so, please let me know in the comments of what you thought of any of them. I am always happy to hear varying opinions.

#TomeTopple Readathon

 

It’s been awhile since I have participated in a readathon, but I thought for the month of April I’d continue to work my way through my Shelf of Shame. Frankly, having 200+ unread books and working at a library is both the best and worst things in the world, so readathons really are an amazing way to motivate yourself to work through the TBR. This readathon happens for two weeks, from April 7th to the 20th in your timezone.

Well, Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes created a really great readathon and one that focuses on those pesky 500+ page reads. If I am being honest, I always find myself super intimidated by the chunkier books, and perhaps that simply stems from the fact that I am always worried about padding in books. However, I have a few chunky books in my Shelf of Shame that I thought this would be a great chance to knock one or two books out of my TBR.

Here’s what I have selected as my TBR:

  • A Conjuring of Light by V.E Schwab
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

There are also challenges you can do to make your experience a bit more rewarding as well. They are:

1. Read more than 1 tome
2. Read a graphic novel
3. Read a tome that’s part of a series
4. Buddy read a tome (use goodreads and twitter to find buddies!)
5. Read an adult novel

With the two books I’ve selected, I feel like I may be able to complete challenges 1, 3, and 5. Except that A Conjuring of Light fits all three of those challenges. I think this readathon is going to be a lot of fun, and definitel check out #TomeTopple to see what folks will be reading these next two weeks. I’ll let you all know at the end of the month how well I did! 🙂

 

ARC Review – Speed of Life, by Carol Weston

Title: Speed of Life

Author: Carol Weston

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Sofia wonders if 14 might be the worst possible age to lose your mom. Talking with her dad about puberty and s-e-x is super-awkward (even though he is a gynecologist). And when she wants to talk about her mom, her friends don’t know what to say and her dad gets sad.

When Sofia discovers Dear Kate, an advice columnist from Fifteen magazine, she’s grateful to have someone to confide in about everything from crushes to mourning—someone who is completely, wonderfully anonymous. It feels ideal—until Sofia’s dad introduces her to his new girlfriend, Katherine Baird, a.k.a., Dear Kate…

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

If I am being honest, I wasn’t prepared for Speed of Life. Having read and adored Carol Weston’s Ava and Pip series, Speed of Life feels vastly different in a lot of ways. I felt a lot for the heroine, Sofia, who spends a lot of this novel trying to cope with the loss of her mother and the fact that her father is dating someone new.

A lot of Sofia’s feelings regarding the loss of her mother really resonated with me. I lost my mother last April and I admit, I’m still feeling a lot of grief and sadness. When Sofia talks about her smell, her clothes, anything reminiscent of her, I admit, it left me feeling really emotional. A lot of her feelings, people telling her how to deal with her grief, she’s super justified in her feelings. While I wouldn’t be brave enough to confide in someone such as “Dear Kate,” I thought this was an interesting way to tell the first half of Sofia’s story, especially given that Kate becomes the love interest.

There’s good characters in this series, even if the writing has some awkward moments — preferably at the beginning when reader’s are introduced to Kiki, Sofia’s bestie and “Dear Kate.” The story does fall on the much younger spectrum of YA — it’s not a bad thing, but I admit given the amount of YA I read, this threw me off a bit at first (the beginning reads so much closer to a middle grade novel to me). However, I think Weston dos do a great job of showing the reader a story where transition during a period of grief is challenging, even terrifying at times.

I think the support characters in this story are really well done. Kiki kind of urked me at first, but as the story went on she started to really grow on me. Same with Alexa and Kate. Weston’s characters are flawed in a great way — they aren’t likable at first but they are constantly trying to redeem themselves. Even Sofia’s dad, who you can tell is constantly trying to stay strong for his daughter. There is so much character growth in this story, and I love the way the book tries to acknowledge to the reader that change isn’t always a bad thing. It can be scary, but you never know what may be in store for you.

Speed of Life is a great read and one that offers a lot of depth to its readers. There’s great characters with a lot of heart and humour. Sofia is someone who becomes so strong and thoughtful throughout the course of the story. I really enjoyed my time with this book, and definitely would recommend it to younger YA readers.

ARC Review – Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1) by Claudia Gray

Title: Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1)

Author: Claudia Gray

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

Huge thank you to Miss Print’s ARC adoption for this review copy.

Molly’s Review:

Not gonna lie… Defy the Stars was kinda weak. I had REALLY been looking forward to this book but it fell flat for me in a lot of ways.

I guess my biggest issue was with the amount of EPIC scenes/themes that were really just… taken from other scifi movies/books. I’m sure that there are even some that I didn’t pick up on but there was a lot of very “Star Wars“-ish dialogue (the scene where they were like are you going to punch it? PUNCH IT! was very reminiscent of Han shouting “Punch it Chewie!”), Abel spoke like C-3p0 (odds and all), there was a scene where they come out of a gate (Star Gate/ Cowboy Bebop) straight into an asteroid field & then land on an asteroid (I was going to LOSE MY SHIT if they ended up landing inside a space slug). The religious aspects reminded me of the religious themes in Battlestar Galactica, as did the set up of the worlds. And their arrival at one of the moons (Wayland Station I think?) was pretty much taken out of Serenity.

Basically I was not IN this story, I was in a bunch of other stories. And that bugged me a lot. There was also very little world building or backstory for WHY Genesis was at war with Earth. And the whole “sacrifice myself to save my world” thing was weak because what military would let a bunch of young healthy people just go and DIE?! That’s just tactically stupid.

Maybe I’d just gone into this with too high of expectations, but after Gray’s previous trilogy I had SUCH high hopes. While this story was fast paced and there were a lot of tense moments, I didn’t find that it brought anything new or exciting to the AI-genre. I never felt like there were these DEEP questions about what makes a human, what separates us from the machines. And all of the worlds were just so stereotypical and kinda bland. I really had expected A LOT more from this and was so sad when it didn’t deliver. It was also super predictable, like I was able to figure out what Abel’s “purpose” was from the very start.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – March Reads

March is almost over, and much like February, I didn’t complete as many of the challenges I would have liked. Truthfully I got way too obsessed with some of the personal reading challenges I gave myself this month, and my husband’s silly challenge of reading as many blue books (blue on the cover, on the spine, just blue) as I could. I read quite a few, not going to lie. Still, I managed to complete two more challenges on my read harder journey. Here’s what I read in March!


King Baby by Kate Beaton

Completes Challenge #9: Read a book you’ve read before.

Thoughts: I recognize that picking a picture book may seem like cheating, but my goal this year is to read books I own and haven’t read, so I knew this challenge would be challenging given my own reading goals for the year. However, I ended up rereading King Baby for an interview I did where I had to perform storytime. I sadly didn’t get the position, but I will admit how much fun it was to reread this book to adults during the interview process. This book is still so funny, quirky, and I need one of those King Baby plushies that exist. Or a Queen Baby plushie. I maintain that my husband reads this book out loud better than I do. Seriously if you have wee ones, this is a must read!


Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

Completes Challenge #14: Read a book about war.

Thoughts: For this Book Riot Challenge, I decided to read a non-fiction book about war, and one that was more science-based than historical. I love Mary Roach’s writing, and adored Packing for Mars, but Grunt feels like a very different book. It has Roach’s humour and her methodical breaks downs for how different things work, but this was definitely a much more challenging read to get through. For starters, I am not really interested in books about war, and two: there’s some stuff in this book is really not for the faint of heart. Roach describes things like penis transplants, diarrhea, and others aspects of the military that are unique and challenging to say the least. I learned not to eat while reading this book. It’s very informative and very accessible, and I liked it given it gave me a different perspective on war that I didn’t think was actual possible.


When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

Completes Challenge #21Read a book published by a micropress.

Note: This book is published by Arsenal Pulp Press.

Thoughts: This book is a very difficult read, and it’s a book that doesn’t shy away from anything. It’s vulgar, it’s raw, and it doesn’t pull any punches. I both enjoyed and found this book frustrating. I really found myself disliking how Jude treated any friends he had in the story, but I weirdly loved his self-absorbed world where he was the movie star and everyone else the players. I feel like Reid nails that voice and nails that presentation throughout the story, to the point where it is so believable to both Jude and the reader. I also found the ending to be so difficult and given some of the hints in the story it was bound to happen. The writing had some awkward moments for me though. This book is definitely not for everyone, and if you can’t stomach sexual content or vulgarity, I would advise not touching this book with a ten foot pole.

 

ARC Review – Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men
a mysterious city stripped of its name
a mythic hero with blood on his hands
a young librarian with a singular dream
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Huge thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I want to preface this review by saying that Strange the Dreamer is a fairly difficult book to read. There are moments where you will feel lost, confused, and swept away. These issues will be problematic for some readers, as this is not an easy story to engage with in the slightest. This feels like such a departure from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone I trilogy, and that’s not a bad thing. While this book is a slow burn, I really enjoyed my time with it.

The issue with Strange the Dreamer is that to me it felt like more of an experience than a novel. Taylor’s prose is gorgeous, it leads you into a majestic world of The Weep, and it is such a rich realm ripe with exploration, darkness. Taylor does this fantastic job of blending dream and reality, making the reader feel as though at times they are in a dream-like state or inhabiting a nightmare. There is so much to this book that at times it feels overwhelming and I feel like in a lot of ways that is the experience Taylor is providing to the readers.

I think there is a beautiful world in this book, but I admit, I wish I liked the characters more. I felt that they weren’t the most well developed or even the most memorable. I found myself so drawn into the picture she was painting, but I didn’t find myself attached to anyone in particular. Perhaps that is both the strength and weakness of this book: there is so much happening in this story and yet it also feels like there’s something missing that stops it from being perfect for me. This is also very much a mood read for me: I’d have have moments where I was super into reading this book, and some days where I picked it up, felt overwhelmed and said NOPE.

And that’s just it — if you are a fan of Laini Taylor, you’ll likely adore this book because it has everything that makes her books special — fantastic and poetic writing and very vivid worlds. I think this is definitely a book I am going to have to reread before the sequel comes out just too see if my opinion on it changes, because part of me feels like if I had been in a different frame of mind this book would have easily been a win for me. Still, there’s a lot to like here, but if you don’t like feeling overwhelmed by intense world building, or feeling confused until the pieces of the puzzle are given to you, this might not be the book for you.

ARC Review – 100 Hours (100 Hours #1) by Rachel Vincent

30653906Title: 100 Hours (100 Hours #1)

Author: Rachel Vincent

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: A decadent spring break getaway on an exotic beach becomes a terrifying survival story when six Miami teens are kidnapped and ransomed.

Maddie is beyond done with her cousin Genesis’s entitled and shallow entourage. Genesis is so over Miami’s predictable social scene with its velvet ropes, petty power plays, and backstabbing boyfriends.

While Maddie craves family time for spring break, Genesis seeks novelty—like a last-minute getaway to an untouched beach in Colombia. And when Genesis wants something, it happens.

But paradise has its price. Dragged from their tents under the cover of dark, Genesis, Maddie, and their friends are kidnapped and held for ransom deep inside the jungle—with no diva left behind. It all feels so random to everyone except Genesis. She knows they were targeted for a reason. And that reason is her.

Now, as the hours count down, only one thing’s for certain: If the Miami hostages can’t set aside their personal problems, no one will make it out alive.

Huge thank you to Miss Print’s ARC adoption for this review copy.

Molly’s Review:

This book was like watching an early 2000-esque action movie. Lots of complicated ugly pretty people, random almost faceless “bad guys”, a tropical location, some vague references to political unrest & explosions.

So naturally I loved it.

The writing in this book isn’t spectacular, nor are the characters, but it was very fast paced and I flew through the first 250 pages in one sitting. I didn’t really care about anyone, but I did want to see what was going to happen.

A lot of this is pretty unbelievable. One of the characters is diabetic and she’s able to jump off a cliff, hike MILES through the jungle, and make out with the cute boy she’s known for a full day without having any problems. And no, I’m not saying a diabetic couldn’t do that, I’m saying that pretty much nobody could do that, let alone a teen girl with a disease that is affected by lack of food and too much physical exertion.

There is A LOT of teen drama in this, which I also found to be a little over the top because really, I feel like most teens that were kidnapped by Colombian terrorists in the middle of the jungle would be a WHOLE LOT LESS WORRIED about who’s hooking up with who. But then again it wouldn’t be an early 2000-esqu action movie without the main character hooking up with the beautiful strange they just met (hello every single Jason Statham movie EVER).

So yeah, this book was okay. It tried hard to be something more than it was, but didn’t quite make it. And it ends on a cliff hanger so I guess there’s going to be a second book. I might pick it up if I’m in the mood for some mindless action.