OWLs Magical Readathon TBR

I’m going to start my new job this month and realistically probably won’t have much time to read, and yet… here we are.

I’m letting the OWLs Magical Readathon guide my physical TBR this month. If you don’t know about the OWLs readathon hosted by G from Book Roast on YouTube. You can watch the video with the information for it here!

I’ve decided to attempt the career paths, and so this time I’m deciding to try out the Metal Charmer path which requires 7 O.W.Ls, 5 of which are mandatory and 2 of choice. I chose metal charmer because it reminded me of undergrad when I worked in a materials science research lab that studied metal thin films.

From the Booklet: Metal Charmer Stats
Key Traits: Logic, precision, vigilance, originality
OWLs: Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, + 2 more of your choice
NEWTs: O in Arithmancy, O in Charms, O in Transfiguration, E in Ancient Runes, A in Defence Against the Dark Arts

The NEWTs magical readathon takes place in the late summer and how you perform on the OWLs affects what you can do for your NEWTs. G’s video linked above explains all that.

I don’t anticipate getting to all of these, but IF (a really big if) I do manage to finish the 7 mandatory ones, I want to try for the achievement of getting Outstanding on the O.W.Ls which is to read books for at least 9 of the prompts.

Also I know Sam (ThoughtsOnTomes) is hosting a Tome Topple this month which I hope to participate in as well, so two of these books I’ve chosen are over 500 pages.

Mandatory Subjects for Metal Charmer OWLs

Ancient Runes — A Retelling

Circe by Madeline Miller

I’ve been meaning to get around to this one since like last summer and finally got myself a copy this past month, so I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Circe is a sorceress from Greek mythology who appears in such works as Homer’s The Odyssey.

I just really love mythology retellings and so I’m really excited to finally have kind of an excuse to read this one. I’m not sure if this counts as like a ‘proper’ retelling, but it’s one of it’s genres on Goodreads, so I’m counting it.

Arithmancy — A Book Written by More Than One Author

Monstress, Vol. 3: Haven by Marjorie M. Liu (story), Sana Takeda (illustration)

So, I’m cheating a little bit here and counting this one as a book by multiple authors because I do think that with graphic novels/comics, the illustrations are just as if not more important than the writing itself.

Also, there aren’t any books on my overall TBR— physically or on Goodreads— written by more than one author? I guess it’s not just a trend in most of the books that I read. So, this is just going to have to be good enough for it. I do plan on re-reading volumes 1 & 2 before picking up this volume, but i’m excited to finally get around to it.

Charms — Age Line: Read an Adult Work

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This prompt really makes me feel like the odd one out since all the books I’ve chosen are for adult audiences, but I guess that’s the beauty of these readathons really, is that there’s a mix of stuff you really want to read and stuff you might otherwise not get to.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning for ages to read this book. I watched season 1 of the show and loved it, and I haven’t gotten around to catching up on season 2 yet, but I do want to, and I think the fact that that’s currently running makes it the perfect time for me to read this book.

I really love Neil Gaiman as an author, I’ve never rated anything I’ve read from him as under 3-stars so I’m hoping this book is going to be really good. This book is also over 500 pages so when the time comes for Tome Topple is probably when I’ll pick this one up.

Defence Against the Dark Arts — Reducto: Title that Starts with an ‘R’

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

I don’t have any physical copies of the books I want to read that start with the letter ‘R’? And there were only about 2 on Goodreads. I decided to go with this one because the other option was a YA contemporary book, and I just really have to be in a very particular mood to reach for those kind of books.

This book caught my eye recently since the final book in the trilogy was recently nominated in the BookTube SFF Awards.

I know this book is a fantasy series and I believe it’s about? Assassin nuns? I might be entirely wrong but I’m fairly sure going into it that that’s what this is.

Transfiguration — Sprayed Edges or Red Cover

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

I’ve been meaning to read something by V.E. Schwab for ages and ages now, and this just gave me the perfect excuse to go ahead and do it.

I really like the premise of a story told from a villain’s perspective and I’ve heard mostly good things about this duology, so I’m excited to give it a chance.

I’ve been torn about whether I wanted to read this series first or wait until after I got around to reading the Darker Shade of Magic series, but I’m almost kind of happy I have an excuse to read this first because it is more appealing to me.

All Other Prompts / If I Have Time

I’m not choosing exactly which two are definitely going to be read because I do want to leave myself a little flexibility for what mood I’m in when I get around to some of these, but I need to read at least two of them to meet the “career guidelines” for metal charmer, and at least four to get the Outstanding goal.

Astronomy — “Star” in the Title

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary, but I haven’t heard a single bad thing about this book since it came out last year, so I’d be willing to give it a try for this challenge. Also it’s the only thing on my entire Goodreads TBR that has the word “Star” in the title so this is kind of a “by default” one. I’d probably get this from the library just because I don’t have a lot of shelf space where I’m currently living and I do prefer to keep adult books on my shelves since I tend to be more likely to like those, but if I end up getting around to and really loving this I might buy a copy anyway, we’ll see.

Care of Magical Creatures — Land Animal on the Cover

Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden

I’ve been going back and forth with how much of the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist I wanted to read and prior to deciding to do this readathon my entire TBR was going to be comprised of literary fiction from that list, but I’m glad I’ve sort of decided not to go that route because I do go through phases where I read a lot of literary fiction at once and then burn myself out for too long so I’ve decided to pick one literary fiction book for the month of April and this is one that I’m really excited about.

This is set in West Africa and follows the story of a girl whose family gives her to a life in religious servitude, and it follows her story after she’s eventually rescued from that life, and I’m really looking forward to the story in this one. I think it’ll be very educational and very poignant, and I’m just really looking forward to it.

Divination — Set in the Future

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

I read the original Red Rising trilogy all in the span of about a week a couple summers back, but I haven’t gotten around to reading this one yet. This is one that, if I choose to read it, would also qualify for Tome Topple. All the “set in the future” books I have on my complete TBR are space operas and those tend to be on the longer side.

This is one I’m on the fence about as I don’t own the book and I’m already planning on buying a couple things for this readathon I really don’t need to be buying anymore, and yet…

Herbology — Plant on the Cover

The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink

I specifically bought the U.K. paperback for this book because I liked it a lot better than the U.S. paperback cover and I’m suddenly so glad I made that choice because trees! Trees are plants!

I believe this book is also considered literary fiction? But it’s also very short.

My friend who is currently in a creative writing MFA program told to read it saying that it’s weird but good.

All I know going into this is that it’s about a young American couple that moves to Europe. Also my friend sent me snippets of the smut scenes for us to make fun of together because published fiction is so notoriously bad at smut and, God, I plan on straight skimming those scenes rather than sitting through the cringe, so that should make a short book even shorter.

History of Magic — Published More than 10 Years Ago

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

I bought a copy of this book used, and it’s been sitting on my shelf collecting dust since. It was published in 1999, so double qualifies for this prompt.

It’s a story about a girl who grows up in a religious household to become a missionary, but she eventually realizes that she loves women and decides to leave the church and her family.

Books that deal with characters figuring out their place in religion and their sexuality are very important to me and hit very close to home so this is a book that I should have already read, to be honest.

It’s also pretty short so if I do have time to get to it, it hopefully shouldn’t take me that long to read.

Muggle Studies — A Contemporary

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

I actually just bought the paperback of this book on a whim a couple weeks ago while at Barnes & Noble because it was partially on sale and I was at Barnes & Noble anyway to pick up a few sequels of series that I needed.

This book is about a family, and I’m really looking forward to reading about it because I love family dynamics in books. I’ve also been making an effort to read more diversely and this book takes place during an Indian wedding. I have decently high hopes for this book. It is around 400 pages, so I’m not sure whether I’ll get to it with other longer books already on the list I have a feeling I’m going to be reading short books.

Potions — Next Ingredient: Sequel

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

This is going to be a challenge for me because it did take me quite a while to get through the first two books in the series and with the amount that I have to read for this challenge, picking up something I know is probably going to take me over a week to read may not be the smartest idea. Yet here we are.

I was slightly disappointed with The Well of Ascension but what it laid out for this book was something that excited me so I’m hoping that this one doesn’t disappoint me.

Also, like American Gods and Iron Gold this book is over 500 pages so it qualifies for Tome Topple.

That’s all the books! Make sure to follow my Twitter if you’re interested in following my progress throughout the month.

March Wrap Up

March was a special reading month for me. Why, you ask? Well, I started this blog! One of the reasons I did start this blog is to push myself to read more things and to read outside my comfort zone, and I think even though I’ve only been at this for a couple weeks it’s started to affect how I think about reading.

So far I’ve read 5 books in March, which doesn’t seem like a lot but given the fact that I was in the middle of finding my new job doing interviews and all that— as well as having a life and other hobbies— I don’t think it’s that bad (though I do hope to read more next month!)

Books I Finished

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window

As I was looking over my review for this book I noticed something about the scandal surrounding this author… which I hadn’t even known existed when I picked this up at the end of February.

I got this book as a gift months before that scandal was published in the New Yorker. And I hadn’t even known about the exposé until I finished reading and reviewing this already. I’ve deleted my review from the blog for that reason, but it is still up on my Goodreads for now. I could make a whole post about just that but I won’t, this is supposed to be about the books.

I’ll keep this succinct: this was about a 3.5 star book for me. Nothing special as far as thrillers go. I was entertained but the mystery wasn’t difficult to figure out at all and the writing style wasn’t anything special at all.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)

I read The Final Empire a long, long time ago and maybe that’s why this book was a little bit disappointing for me. I gave The Well of Ascension 3 stars, which is a good rating, but definitely a drop from where I had put The Final Empire.

I like what this laid out for Book 3, but it also left me feeling a little tired of the world so I decided to take a break before heading into reading The Hero of Ages.

This book seems to be very divisive between the people I follow who read Sanderson— some say it’s their least favorite in the trilogy, others say it’s their favorite— and I didn’t really have any strong feelings toward this book at all despite it being nearly 600 pages.

So, yeah, I’ll eventually get around to reading The Hero of Ages, but I’m not sure I’ll be reading any more Sanderson after I finish this trilogy.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

The Grownup

This book I listened to on audio. I enjoyed this one; it’s exactly what I look for when I pick up Gillian Flynn. The main character is beggar turned handjob prostitute turned aura reader. I really liked how this story was told and the character’s perspective was great.

Now that I’ve read this I’m all caught up on Gillian Flynn works, and I’m ready for her to release some more.

I still only gave this 3.0 stars because, while I liked it, I had issues with the ending and the parts everyone said were So Creepy really didn’t creep me out, but did make me go, “Hmmm….” Maybe I’m just tougher to crack than most.

It’s only under 70 pages though, so, there’s only so much that can be fit into that.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Housekeeping

This is one that my mother recommended to me at least two years ago, possibly more, and I’ve been putting off reading it for so long even though I was fairly sure I’d like it— my mother and I tend to have somewhat similar tastes in books— and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.

The language made the book tough to get through at times, which I talked about in my spoiler-free review, but it’s rare that I read a book and find no criticisms of it. Despite my criticisms of it, this book just really made an impression on me and I ended up giving it 4 stars. I am considering reading Robinson’s other works which I suspect her writing is improved in.

Motherhood by Sheila Heti

Motherhood

I really only have two good things to say about Motherhood. 1. The question of whether or not to become a mother is important and one worth pursuing in a book, and the conclusion that for some women the answer is no is a great one to see in literature. 2. It’s short due to the format, and I managed to finish it in two sittings.

Other than that there was just so much I disliked about this book. It’s technically fiction, but I’m not entirely sure it should even be considered fiction because there was no characters, really, (even the narrator didn’t have many traits and the ones she did were infuriating.) It was more like a long thought exercise published under the guise of fiction. This was 2 stars.

Books I DNF’ed

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Behold the Dreamers

So, I tried this one out on the recommendation of a friend and just couldn’t do it. I talked about this in my little Goodreads Review on it but the writing style and characters were just… like you can tell this was a debut.

The commentary on immigration, and the fact that the author is from Limbe, Cameroon where her main characters are also from, did made this book something special. The speech inflections of the Cameroonian characters feels very authentic. But the characters themselves don’t feel very much like characters at all, and I got to a point in the book where I told myself I’d give it at least one more chapter to decide whether to keep reading, and then I couldn’t get through that chapter because the main couple were arguing and their dialogue implied a lot of emotion but I just didn’t feel anything at all.

I wish this had maybe been a third or fourth book from this author because the themes and topics are very important and timely, but the writing and characterizations aren’t quite there.

Books I’m Currently Reading

Blindness by José Saramago

Blindness

This is a book I started out listening to thinking I might not finish it. Not because there was anything wrong with it but just because I wasn’t quite sure that it was the book for me.

It took about 10% of the book for me to really get into it finally, but now that I’m past that point I’m fully invested in what’s going to happen to all of these characters.

I’m hoping to finish this soon because I have a copy of other audiobooks I’m more excited for on hold on Overdrive that should be available to me soon and I don’t want to feel like I have to finish this to get to those.

Monstress Vol 1.: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening (Monstress, #1)

This should be a quick read for me as a graphic novel. It’s also a re-read.

I’m not sure if I’ll end up reviewing it this time around since I’m mainly re-reading this and the next volume just to refresh myself since I plan to read volume 3 soon.

I’ve been needing a break from all the regular types of books I’ve been reading lately and a graphic novel is a perfect way for me to sort of relax and reset myself for the plans I have for April’s reading.

My April TBR will be up Sunday, and I plan on participating in the OWLs Magical Readathon throughout the month so those books are all going to be somehow related to that.

Review: Motherhood by Sheila Heti

Motherhood

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Rating: ⭑⭒⭒⭒⭒

Date Published: June 7, 2018

Date(s) Read: March 25 — 26, 2019

Length: 284 pages

(A slightly different version of this review posted on Goodreads as well.)

Wow, big day today. First ever rant review of the blog. I’m not going to lie, my high in sodium ass is a little excited to be writing one of these.

Initially I wasn’t even planning on reviewing this book, but OH BOY, do I have lots to say about it, so here we are.

Before reading further, this review contains a lot of spoilers. Because apparently part of the market appeal of this book is that it asks the question whether or not to be a mother, the synopsis clearly doesn’t tell you her decision, and the obviousness of her decision is a part of my review. Also, there’s no real plot or characters so it’s hard to even think about what would be a spoiler for this book so I haven’t marked anything as spoilers. If you plan to read this and don’t want to be spoiled, this isn’t the review for you. Now onto what you all came here for.

So, I got this book from the library, and I’m glad I didn’t pay money for this garbage because… No.

Well, not entirely no. It got 2 stars, because there were two things total that I liked about it. First, the format made it a really quick read which was nice because the book I read previously was about the same-ish length and took me twice as long. Second, the question of whether or not to have kids is one that I find extremely relatable, and the exploration of deciding not to have kids as a valid life choice is something I think is extremely important within fiction.

Every single thing about the execution though either made me apathetic or disappointed me.

First, the whole question of whether to be a mother. From the beginning I already knew what the narrator was going to decide and that’s fine but then make that the premise of your book: accepting that you don’t want kids when society thinks you should, not that you’re truly questioning the decision not to have kids in the first place.

Occasionally there’d be a line I agreed with and liked but often times these were single lines and paragraphs surrounded by other stuff that had me raising my eyebrows or saying, “What?” out loud to myself and not because I was confused but because I just couldn’t think of any other way to react. Additionally, any “insights” this book laid out were things I’ve already managed to figure out independently in my life and I’m a whole seventeen years younger than the narrator of this book. I don’t dislike the relatability, but shouldn’t this woman have figured these things out already? Then again, she does seem way younger than her age throughout the whole book.

There were no characters whatsoever. The narrator isn’t named, which might be an interesting choice, but her only seeming personality trait is that she’s a crybaby, and to be honest the more I read the more I just assumed that she was a not even attempted to be veiled self-insert for the author. Her long-term boyfriend, Miles’ only stand-out feature is that he was tall and wearing eyeliner the first time she saw him. All they do is fight and all the narrator does is cry and then get mad at Miles for not validating her crying, and all he does is ignore her when she cries, and everything about their relationship made me think that it was two thirteen-year-olds together, not two people nearing forty.

Other women friends of the narrator’s are occasionally named throughout the book but they lack any importance, characterizations, or agency, so I couldn’t tell them apart and the only name I remember is Libby.

This book is classified as fiction, but the whole thing just feels like a thought experiment the author repackaged to be fiction. There’s a lot of asking coins questions for yes/no answers and the whole time that was going on I was just thinking that she might as well have used a magic 8-ball, and she herself even says at one point that she knows the coin-flipping is just random chance— even though she pays a woman on the street who claims to be psychic a bunch of money for a random interaction and has her tarot read. So does she believe in divination or not? Which is it?

Speaking of “Which is it?” That’s a question I asked again in the book because at one point she states that women who choose to live childless lives aren’t choosing that path as a judgment on women who choose differently— which I totally agree with— and then later she gets mad at one of her friends (Libby 1? Libby 2? Libby 3?) who becomes pregnant because she says the friend is abandoning her and “society as a whole” to “turn towards her child.” (Those may not be direct quotes as I already returned the book to the library, but you get the point.)

Abortion is touched on, which was a positive. But for a woman who has had an abortion as a young woman, and who doesn’t think she wants kids to use the pull-out method? How stupid are you, bitch? Maybe if you went on birth control you’d stop crying all the time because of your hormones. SHE IS ALMOST FORTY, in case you forgot. She even tells her doctor that she and her long-term boyfriend use the pull-out method and the doctor asks if she’d be okay having kids. Newsflash, idiot: Fantasizing about your boyfriend’s seed inside you isn’t the same as being okay with raising a whole child. I didn’t need 284 pages of wank for you to figure that out at the age of fucking forty.

Another thing that infuriated me was a single paragraph at about the halfway point of the book.

I always felt jealous of gay men who spoke of having to come out. I felt I would like to come out too— but as what?

She goes on the next few sentences to claim that gay men are lucky for getting to come out because it means they know what they are and I cannot even begin to describe to you how mad this made me at the book. I stopped even thinking about what I liked after this because the rest of the book I was still mad about it.

I have also had to grapple with the question of my own sexuality. “Coming out,” is not some kind of privilege. She knows she’s straight, but doesn’t know whether she wants to be a mother. Just like I’m sure some men who know they’re gay don’t know whether they want to be fathers. I don’t know, I’m a bisexual woman, not a gay man, so thinking of gay men as multifaceted human beings with a multitude of life experiences outside of their sexuality might be entirely wrong! Also, it’s interesting she only mentions gay men and not lesbian women, bisexual people, asexual people, or even touch on gender identity.

This entire book is a performative, self-involved look at the question of “motherhood” from the perspective of an insufferable middle-aged, middle-class, crybaby. In my opinion it shouldn’t even be shelved as “fiction,” but more importantly, one of the top shelves for this book on Goodreads is “Feminism.” I think we need to amend that to “White feminism.”

Overall I don’t recommend this book except to people who I guess like books lacking characters or plot or tension of any kind but have a whole lot of stupidity. I’m pretty sure I was part of the target audience— being a white woman in my childbearing years myself— and all this book succeeded in was making me hate it.

And actually, now that I’ve written all this out, I think I’m going to drop my rating on here and Goodreads down to 1 star.

Review: Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Housekeeping

Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction

Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒

Original Release: 1980

Length: 219 pages

Housekeeping is a book about Ruthie and her sister Lucille’s being cared for by their aunt Sylvie after the death of their mother, then their grandmother. It’s a very quiet story that’s mostly plotless and very character-driven. It is mostly about the family dynamics of Ruthie, Lucille, and Sylvie, but more than that it is about impermanence as Sylvie is a drifter prior to coming into the girls’ lives.

I said on Goodreads already that if I had rated this solely on the content of the book, it would have been 3.0 or maybe 3.5 stars. I read this on the recommendation of my mother who’s been telling me for years that I should read it and that it’s one of the best books she’s ever read, and reading this book while knowing how she grew up in comparison to how she raised us, I really felt like I came to understand her a little bit more in reading this, and I think it’s really special and important when a book is capable of doing that, so this gets an extra star from me for that.

There were places in the book where the prose truly was beautiful and it should have been, but because the prose was like that all throughout the book in a sort of aggressive and relentless way, it took away the magic from the scenes where it worked really well. I’m also generally not a huge fan of diction that abuses the thesaurus. I wouldn’t call Housekeeping‘s style a case of purple prose, but it’s definitely dangerously toeing the line.

In the last 50 or so pages of the book, the religious talk just started to make me feel like I was sitting in a pew in a church and my problem isn’t that it was there, but that it didn’t make sense for the character it was supposedly coming from. All the Genesis talk and preaching makes sense maybe for an academic, but definitely not from a drifter. My eyes started to glaze over and I ended up skimming a lot of these paragraphs because I just… it seemed very heavy-handed and misplaced.

I loved the relationship between the sisters, and Ruthie’s relationship with Sylvie. I think the dynamics were all very well done there and even though there wasn’t much “plot” I found myself constantly wanting to read more to find out more about the characters. There’s not much I can say about that without spoiling parts of the book, but for someone who loves books that really pay attention to dynamics between characters, that was really, truly the heart of this book and what made it so wonderful.

There is a lot of heavy themes of loneliness and transience. There is some romanticization of death, but as Ruthie’s mother died when she and Lucille were so young, to me that made sense.

I really enjoyed the process of reading Housekeeping but I also a little be relieved to be finished it.

5 Series I Don’t Plan on Finishing

I have a love/hate relationship with series. I know that some series tend to be extremely popular, and I always finding myself wanting to really like a series, or continue it and stay up to date as new stuff comes out, but sometimes I simply lose interest, and other times I’m disappointed by the beginning of the series.

So, today, I’m going to talk about some series I’ve read one or more books for, but don’t plan on continuing.

The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

Can I interest any of you in some unpopular opinions? Yeah, I don’t care if anyone reading this loves this book or thinks it’s the best fantasy ever. Feel free to suck my metaphorical dick, and when you’re done with that, eat my ass.

A while back I was really pushing myself to get back into my love of fantasy— which I loved more than any other genre when I was younger— and The Name of the Wind was at the top of everyone’s recommendations lists for getting into adult fantasy… and I just… did not like it. Patrick Rothfuss’ writing style is really good, but I’m going to refrain from calling it amazing because pieces of this book made me feel like he was a little too in love with his own writing ability and that ruined it for me. Like, you know when you meet someone who’s really hot and finally talk to them and it’s clear they know how good looking they are and that just ruins the illusion? That’s kind of what Patrick Rothfuss’ writing felt like to me.

Also, this book was just too long. I felt like there was way too much that sidetracked and meandered away from the main plot, and either Kvothe just loves talking about himself (gods, I feel bad for Chronicler) or Rothfuss just wrote for the sake of writing. I think both are equally likely.

The first couple hundred pages of the book I really did love it and everything that was happening, but then Kvothe got to the University and for me… everything was just downhill from there. It started to grate on me how much of a Mary Sue that Kvothe was, and anytime anything bad happened to him I wasn’t worried at all because I knew he’d magically figure a way out of it. This book was like 250-ish pages of good shit and then like 450 pages of eye-rolling.

I don’t know. It just wasn’t really my cup of tea. And I have a lot of feelings about it. If I had been reviewing books at the time I read this, this one absolutely would have been a rant review from me.

The Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith (A.K.A. J. K. Rowling)

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The Cuckoo’s Calling was just such a huge disappointment for me. I never read Rowling’s Casual Vacancy but when it struck my fancy to read something of hers that wasn’t Harry Potter I decided to try this series.

Sidenote: I refuse to re-read any of the Harry Potter books, especially after reading this, because I know I’ll only become entirely disillusioned with the franchise/series and JKR has done that enough for me with her mouth and her twitter account and whatever The Cursed Child was supposed to be so…

Anyway, there’s clearly a reason this series didn’t sell well before it was revealed that Robert Galbraith was a pen name for JKR. She used the same exact voice she wrote the Harry Potter series with for these books and it just… children’s fantasy and adult mystery should not at all have the same tone.

I honestly don’t remember anything about this book except the odd diction choices that JKR made— the choices that worked well in a world like Harry Potter, but clearly were not meant for adult books— and something about a murder maybe? I literally can’t remember that’s how little of an impression the actual content of the story had on me.

And, uh, can her editors please put a stop to her dialogue tags? It’s okay to use “said” twice on the same page.

The Queen of the Tearling Series by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)


I didn’t even know this book was supposed to be set in a post-apocalyptic future until Harry Potter was mentioned in it. Maybe part of it was that I listened to it on audio and I do have a tendency to miss large chunks of books I listen to rather than read on the pages because my mind ends up wandering (but I think it also has a lot to do with the way the narrator executes it.)

The Queen and the Tearling wasn’t a bad book, but there’s not a lot I remember liking about it. But there’s really only two things I remember disliking about it.

First, I’m just so damn tired of “She wasn’t like other girls,” main characters in YA. I get why they’re popular, but they’re not for me for a multitude of reasons but I’m not going to get into an examination of the implications of all that in this post because it’s supposed to be short.

My main problem however with this book was it just required me to suspend my disbelief way too much. I get it, the idea of a monarchy and a return to medieval to 15th century-ish society in the far future is an original idea. But, sometimes… original ideas… are worse.

The Witchlands Series by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)

I actually enjoyed the first two of these books. They were about 3.0 stars for me. All the side characters that are part of the, I guess, main ensemble— Merik, Aeduan, and Iseult— are characters I ended up loving. In Windwitch I even ended up really liking Merik’s sister, Viva.

I was kept entertained while reading, and after book one I felt the series had enough potential for me to give the second and potentially third book a try. However, at the time of writing this the third book has recently been released and I find myself… apathetic? I would maybe read it just for the characters above, but I have enough problems with the first two books that I think outweigh the good.

The world felt extremely underdeveloped while somehow also trying too hard. From what I think I can remember, it may be a case of being told we’re in a fantasy world without really being shown that, but I’d have to go back and re-read to remember exactly and I really just don’t have the time or interest to do so.

The main character, Safi… I have so many mixed feelings about her. I want to like her, but she suffers from Chosen One syndrome. She’s Special™ because she’s a truthwitch and apparently those are rare. And outside of that she feels more like a character type than an actual developed character. I just had a really difficult time connecting with her, and I didn’t have that issue with any of the other point of view characters?

Maybe I’ll eventually go back to this series, but for now it’s a no from me.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Series by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #1)

I was promised creepy, and what I got was a little bit quirky but mostly boring.

Let’s back up a minute. This book was getting a lot of hype when the movie came out, and it’s another one I listened to the audiobook for, but this time I don’t think it’s the narrator’s execution that contributed to my lack of being able to pay attention. This is a book that promises that Things Happen… and then… nothing happens.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with character-driven fiction where not a lot of plot exists, but I need to know that that’s what I’m getting myself into before I commit to a book.

The premise of this book is good and the execution clearly worked for a lot of people, but it just… wasn’t quite there for me. I think my expectations were a little too high. I wanted to feel at least creeped out listening to this, and I didn’t. There were a lot of promises for stuff that would be Important, and then like zero follow-through.

I will say though that this book does have a very, very strong point, and that is the setting. Easily the best part of the whole thing.

That’s it for now. Are there any series you haven’t continued because you’re disappointed about them or have lost interest in them?

5 Books I Should Re-Read

So, I’ve only recently taken it upon myself to try to become active in publishing my thoughts about books I read for the whole world to see. There’s a lot of books that I have many thoughts about but that I’d need to re-read to speak about fully. I’m also wondering whether the fact that my reading has had a lot of changes in ebbs and flows whether I’d even have the same thoughts and feelings about these books the second time around.

There are definitely more than 5 books in this category, but I want to keep this post on the short side. I’m also not entirely sure when I’ll actually get around to re-reading any of these since I’m— in general— not a huge re-reader unless it’s something like a favorite book from childhood or a comic/graphic novel series I want to brush myself back up on.

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s the books.

1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
My rating on the first read: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑/5.0

Deathless

This book was one that a close friend recommended and I read it back in my first year of undergrad. My reading in college was extremely limited due to the nature of my degree, other hobbies, and social life, and one of the reasons I want to re-read this (and a lot of other books) was that I felt as though I really felt either like every book I read was either a 5.0 or a 1.0. Looking back at my read list I know that’s not the case— most books I’ve rated either 3.0 or 4.0 stars— but this one I really just want to re-read because I do think my feelings about it now might be vastly different from when I first read it. I remember being totally enthralled in this book at the time I read it, but it was also one of the first books I had read in nearly a year. Later when I read Tartt’s The Goldfinch, I had expected to be blown away but only gave the book a 3.0. I’m not sure whether it’s a different in my tastes, or the book itself, but I do wonder whether I’d be as impressed by the admittedly pretentious style of Tartt’s writing after having found other books I’ve loved since.

2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
My rating on the first read: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑/5.0


This is one that I really just remember falling completely in love with. I remember the descriptions of childhood, and the way that childhood feels when looking back on it as an adult who’s started to forget what it’s like to be a child. I think I read this within the same year I read the previous book. I strongly suspect this book would be at least 4.0— if not still a 5.0— if I do eventually re-read it, and since it’s so short I don’t see why I wouldn’t take the time to do so. However, there are some other Gaiman books I really want to get to before rereading this (How have I not read American Gods still?) so it’s really a matter of when.

3. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
My rating on the first read: ⭑⭒⭒⭒⭒/5.0

I will fully admit that I’m high in sodium (more commonly known as salty) about a lot of things and this book was one of them. However that isn’t why I want to re-read this book. The fact that this book managed to elicit such a strongly negative reaction from me honestly wants to make me go back and examine it. And since it’s one of the shorter books that I vehemently disliked, it’d be a lot easier for me to slog my way through it and really try to examine and put into words the reasons that I thought this book was (dare I say it) trash. I remember having very strong feelings about one of the main characters in that her very existence was just so grating on my mind as I was reading it. The only problem with rereading this particular book is that I got rid of it at the first chance I could.

4. Monstress Vol. 1 & 2 by Marjorie Liu
My rating on the first read: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭒/5.0


Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood (Monstress, #2)

I’m counting these as a single book, because I’ll definitely read them at the same time. I don’t really have much to say about why I want to re-read these besides I think they’re good and I finally decided to go ahead and buy Vol. 3 (lightyears late, I know) and I really need a refresher on the plot and the world. I don’t remember much about the world or plot or characters, all that really stands out to me in my mind is the art style? Maybe on re-read I can think more about whether that’s enough for a 4.0 star rating which, in my mind is an extremely good rating. I’m going to try to pay more attention to the story on re-read of these so that I can think about them more critically. I do know that the art style is absolutely breathtaking, and I remember really enjoy reading about the matriarchal fantastic society. I also vaguely remember liking the main character (whose name eludes me as of writing this, and that I’m too lazy to simply check on Goodreads.)

5. East by Edith Pattou
*Did not rate this, as I read it so long ago it’s not even on my Goodreads.

East (East, #1)

I vividly remember this being one of my favorite books when I was younger. The fact that it was based on a fairytale I had never heard of at the time (East of the Sun and West of the Moon,) the writing style, and the romance gripped me thoroughly. I will admit that since reading this when I was so young (the book was released when I was 10, but I may have been 12 or 13 when I read it) I’ve sort of grown tired of most romance subplots in books I read. I just? Can’t be bothered to care. So I am a little nervous to re-read this one, however, the author released a sequel to this at the end of 2018 (called West) and I’ve been dying to pick up a copy since before it was even out yet. I’m really hoping to get to re-reading this one this year. In summer I always do go through a period of feeling like it’s way too damn hot and I need a break so I’ll read a bunch of wintery stories. I’ll probably get around to this (and a couple others I’ve been putting off) when that time comes.

And that’s it! Are there any books you think you should re-read, or have been dying to? Do you re-read often or rarely? I’m curious.

Review: The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2)

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 3.0/5

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

The Well of Ascension is the second book in the Mistborn trilogy. I read The Final Empire well over a year before picking up book two, mostly due to time constraints, my last year of college, finding and starting my first full-time position, and life in general happening in the interim. I was extremely excited to finally be getting to this book, but while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it quite as much as the first.

The Well of Ascension takes place after the fall of the Final Empire and its centuries-old leader. The fall of that system leaves a power vacuum that Kelsier’s old band takes up, with Elend Venture as King, and understandably there’s a lot of political instability in this time period. Three armies set up outside Luthadel, each with a leader that hopes to take Elend Venture’s place.

About two-thirds of this book is taken up by the politics of Elend’s situation. I didn’t really mind this all that much at first. It was interesting, and it did keep me reading but there were pieces of it that probably could have been cut out and that made the middle of the book drag a little bit too slowly. And anyway, anything that happens in that time is essentially unimportant compared to the last 20% of the book. Yet, I found this all far more compelling than the actual action that took place at the end of the book. I was expecting the end of this book to blow my socks off, but I think perhaps reading others’ reviews may have elevated my expectations a little too high.

Having only read The Final Empire before this, it’s very clear to me that the strengths of Sanderson’s writing comes in his worldbuilding and characters. Even if there were places in the plot that didn’t fully hold my attention, I cared enough about what happened to Vin, Elend, Zane, Breeze, and Sazed that I needed to keep reading. The mythology that Sanderson’s built around the kandra, the koloss, and the Terris religion around The Hero of Ages is all compelling stuff.

I was a little disappointed here (not enough to put the book down for longer than like a day at a time, though) but my love for the beginning of the series, and the things that this laid out for the next book has me ready to jump into continuing on. I’m really looking forward to reading The Hero of Ages and hope it brings back my excitement for Sanderson’s world in this series.