De-Cluttering: Culling the Hell Out of my Goodreads To-Read Shelf

So. This week, I took a quick glance at my Goodreads to-read shelf and low and behold, it’s siting at 122. One-hundred-and-twenty-two books. Like, WHAT. How in the good lord of all things books did this happen? There cannot seriously be 122 books that I am ridiculously keen to read. I’m sure there are other people out there with shelves more than three times that big, but for me, that number is looking just a litttttttllleee bit ridiculous. And, as you can tell from the title of this post, that means it’s time for a….CULL. Basically, may the odds be ever in your favour (aka. may you have a blurb that still holds some interest for me and an average star rating that doesn’t resemble a train wreck).

First up, I think I’ll be taking a page out of the book of some other bloggers by separating out unreleased books from my to-read shelf into a separate shelf all on their own. This should cut down the number a bit.

…okay, it cut 21. Just 21. Damn it.

Well, I guess we better get stuck in then. This list ain’t going to reduce itself. Time to say goodbye to…

Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake

28374007

I was pretty keen to read this once upon a time but since then I’ve increasingly lost interest. Based on the things I’ve heard about it and the sequels since, I get the feeling I’ll find it another average and forgettable read. I wanted political intrigue, backstabbing, awesome magic, and family drama, but it seems super slow and about 80% romance. *sigh*.

All the Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater

36321633

I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m not much of a fan of Maggie’s books. They’re not bad, but I always find myself extremely indifferent to them. I’ll willingly admit that I bought this one because I was 1) excited to find a release out in Australia before the US, (b) it has a stunningly colourful cover, and 3) I was trying to push myself to love Maggie’s books as much as everyone else does. I honestly have no desire to read this so I think it’s time to cut it (& donate the physical copy).

Truly, Madly, Guilty – Liane Moriarty

29616384

I bought this one at the peak of the Big Little Lies craze. I honestly thought I wanted to read it, but now, nope. Not in the slightest. Having read reviews of it recently, people report that it’s extremely slow, the big reveal is highly disappointing, and that the characters aren’t interesting enough to make you want to keep going to the end. Basically, I’m out. Cull & donate.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy – Mackenzi Lee

37880094

Yes, I know. I’m sorry, okay? I liked the first book, really I did. It was fun and the characters were cute, but there were also moments of drag and frustration. I just don’t feel at all compelled to read the sequel anymore. I can’t explain it. I mean, it’s got kick-ass Felicity, more European adventures, pirates, and the reviews are good! AND YET. No motivation for some time now. *sigh* Please don’t hurt me. Cull.

From Twinkle with Love – Sandhya Menon

40312693

I’ve mentioned in the past that I wasn’t that keen on Menon’s first book, When Dimple Met Rishi. Still, I added this one to my TBR, drawn in by the idea of another diverse read and a super cute cover. Since then, the book has ended up with a 3.66 average GR rating and a few of the things I’ve heard about it haven’t exactly floated my boat – an annoying protagonist, a love square, reliance on tropes, letter style format, and that the book reads quite young. I think I’ll give it a miss.

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason – Virginia Boecker

37678396

I think I may have added this book on a whim after seeing it pop up quite a few times, buzz words lighting up my brain – assassins, historical, theatre, enemies to lovers. Nowadays, I’m like, it looks okay but I feel as though I’m once again setting myself up for an average, forgettable read. The average rating is at 3.69 – not awful but not amazing either. So while this would probably be a decent book, I think I’ll pass for now.

The Crowns of Croswald – D.E. Night

34944590

This is another book that’s fallen victim to time. The excitement and motivation was there once but it’s slowly up and disappeared. Looking at TCoC now, there are a few things that send up warnings. First, the book has been shelved as both middle grade and YA by readers. I’m not much of a MG reader so the fact that this either is or reads like MG, turns me off a bit. Second, it’s less than 300 pages. For fantasy that does make me worry about depth of story and characters. Either way, it’s time to let go.

The Eye of the World – Robert Jordan

11203854

This book has been on my physical and virtual TBR since about 2014 and I’m still yet to pick it up. I think it’s the fact that it’s an enormous book and the beginning of an ENORMOUS series. I also happened to buy this before I heard that Jordan was considered very similar to Tolkien, an author who’s style I wasn’t so big on. The fact that the series supposedly declines in quality further down the track also isn’t much of an encouraging factor. I feel like one day I’ll read it (when I have plenty of time and patience), but I don’t see it happening for while. Until then, it’s time to take it off.

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

10626594

Insert the same reasons here as for All the Crooked Saints. I’ve been wanting to read The Scorpio Races for a long time and have almost bought it quite a few times now. But, I feel like the combination of my lack of enthusiasm for Maggie’s books and that I’ve heard this book isn’t as action packed as I was hoping, is sending me reaching for the x button. I think I have to give this one a miss for now.

The Disasters – M. K. England

32469736

I know why I added this one – it sounded vaguely similar to Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman which I am dying to get my hands on next month. I think I was maybe trying to find a way to sate my excitement? Also, the cover is cool and purple. I’ve heard since that the majority of the book doesn’t actually take place in space, the plot is a bit repetitive and superficial, and that the characters aren’t given enough depth. Who knows, I may completely change my mind but for now, goodbye.

Phew. Things are looking much healthier than they were before. This is manageable. I can deal with this. I’m sure there’s probably more I could cull but I’m constantly worried I’m going to get rid of something that I’ll actually end up wanting to read and enjoying later on. Ugh. This will do for now.

How many books are currently on your Goodreads To-Read Shelf? Is it tightly regulated or getting a bit out of control? (MAKE ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT MYSELF).

Have you read any of these books? Did I make the wrong decision? *panics & flails*

Advertisements

Waffles, Glitter, & Heartbreak: ‘The Boy Who Steals Houses’ by C. G. Drews (ARC)

Take some soft boys, sassy girls, a lot of heartbreak, piles of waffles, and a touch of glitter. Mix it all together and you get…well, pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a book written by Paper Fury. In the best possible way, of course.

Who, What, Where?

Sam and his autistic brother Avery have had it tough – an absent mother, abusive father, and an aunt who kicked them out. Ever since, the brothers have been stealing to get by, but not just wallets and phones. Sam also steals houses. Using his lock picking abilities and powers of observation, Sam’s great at choosing places to hold up in for a couple of days. That is, until the empty house he crashes in one night becomes not so empty the next morning. Enter the De Laineys – the big, crazy, and wonderful family that’s everything Sam’s ever wanted. Mistaken as one of the sibling’s friends, suddenly, he’s hanging out with twins Jeremy and Jack, and day dreaming about spunky, fashion designer Moxie. But Sam knows it can’t last and if they only knew the secrets he’s hiding…

I’m Happy, I’m Sad, I’m a Mess

TBWSH is a bizarre mix of different tones. One minute you’re reading about Avery getting abused and wanting to rip your heart out of your chest it hurts so bad, the next, pure happy, fluffdom hits, such as Moxie showing Sam how to eat waffles properly (*spoiler* with lots of caramel sauce!). I’ve read a few books where these different moods haven’t been integrated very well, leaving you with severe emotional whiplash. However, I can safely say that this is one book in which it just works effortlessly. For something with such dramatic highs and lows, it somehow always feels smooth and natural.

Speaking of these highs and lows, I have to say just how well written they are, especially the sadder ones. There are moments of genuine joy and others that are unexpectedly dark. Both hit you hard in a fantastic (or is it awful?) way.

Can I Join the De Lainey Family?

Just like Sam, I unexpectedly fell in love with the De Lainey family. Some members are more prominent/better developed than others, but I thoroughly enjoyed every scene in which members of them were around. Each person is different and sweet, and it’s very easy to believe a family like them exists out there somewhere. Plus, the banter is so good. I cracked a smile on many occasions during this book – it’s all so easy and amusing, particularly if it involves Jack and his swearing.

Loose Ends

While I enjoyed TBWSH, one of the things that bugged me a little were the few loose ends it finished up with. There’s the issue of some stolen money, a someone who does something to Sam and just disappears, and then, (although it’s still adorable) the sort of open-ended-ness to the ending itself. Yes, I understand I can’t always have all the answers but I’m a curious (aka. nosy) person, okay. I just have to know everyone’s alright! 

Writing Style

Something I was worried about going into this book was the writing style. I love Cait’s photography on Bookstagram, however, I’m only able to read her captions and reviews in small doses. I just find her writing very… energetic? Overwhelming? It’s not about quality, just personal preference. For this reason, I wondered if her books would read like her reviews. The answer is yes, and no. The writing still definitely screams Cait, but it also feels a little calmer somehow. Yet, there are a few choice phrases and similes that I found myself going, ‘huh?’ in response to, or finding a little grating with time. For example:

  • “Caseworkers made of black ink and hard lines”
  • Their kiss tasted of “salty tears and bloody memories and empty boxes”
  • “He can build a bridge of moons and caramel cakes”

Autistic Representation

Not only does TBWSH prominently feature a character with autism but, although this is just one expression on a broad spectrum, the representation here is done very well. Avery’s movements, speech, and behaviours are consistent, realistic and never feel gimmicky or thrown in for extra colour. He’s a well-developed and sympathetic character, and the violence and misunderstanding he faces over the course of the book truly hurt me.

You, Me, We

The relationship between Avery and Sam is great and I love how Cait was able to perfectly depict the complicated emotions associated with having a loved one with a disability. There’s love, a desire to protect them, and feelings of responsibility, but also guilt, frustration and resentment. The novel has some lovely moments between Sam and Avery and this bond really is the heart of the story. Sam just wants to protect his brother from the world but he can’t, and that’s the worst part.

Other Thoughts:

  • The book has a great start – it introduces the characters well, has a good degree of tension and really grabs you.
  • Moxie is a boss and I only want amazing things and many boxes of caramel chocolates for her.

TBWSH is a sweet but emotional read. If you’re looking for a YA contemporary about belonging, brotherhood, acceptance (and yummy snacks) that’ll break your heart and put it back together again, all in the space of 300 pages, this is the perfect choice.

4.5 STARS

April TBR: OWLs Magical Readathon 2019

Some of you may remember that last year I took part in both the OWLs and NEWTs magical readathons hosted by the lovely G at Book Roast over on Booktube. Just like G, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and although I don’t participate in many readathons, I can’t resist doing these ones. This year G has gone all out and has written up an entire booklet devoted to wizarding careers. Each have their own OWLs and NEWTs subject requirements which adds a fun, extra layer to the whole readathon experience.

If you’re interested in taking part, you can find the full list of subject prompts for the readathon here, and the book of wizard world careers here (it looks absolutely amazing!)

MY WIZARD CAREER

Picking a career for this year’s readathons has been a challenge! There’s just so many fabulous sounding professions, but of course, I have to think about what I’m reasonably capable of achieving. I can usually manage about 6 books a month without any hectic scrambling so I’ve got two professions in mind depending on how I end up tracking.

1) Auror – This only requires 5 subjects and sounds right up my alley if I were to actually be a part of the wizarding world.

2) Hogwarts Professor – This career requires 7 subjects and again, seems like something suited to me. If I’m progressing well with the number of books for the month, I’ll swap over to this instead as the subjects are highly flexible and allow for a cross over with the Auror requirements.

PRIORITY TBR

Now onto my TBR for the month. For the Auror career, I’m placing high priority on Defence Against the Dark Arts, Charms, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration. I’ve added books for some of the other prompts just in case I have extra time and am able to move up to Hogwarts Professor. If so, my specialty subject will be Charms because teaching kids to levitate stuff sounds like fun.

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Reducto – Book or Series Starting with ‘R’

Radio Silence – Alice Oseman

40119231

When I first saw this prompt, I thought it’d be one of the easiest ones on the list. How wrong I was. Turns out, R isn’t as popular a letter for titles as I thought. Not wanting to do a reread just for the sake of it, I ended up going to the bookstore and hurrah! I spotted Radio Silence. I’ve been wanting to read one of Alice Oseman’s books and now I have the perfect opportunity. This book has had some great reviews from my Goodreads buddies so I’m really looking forward to it!

Transfiguration

Sprayed Edges or a Red Cover

Saga, Vol. 2 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

17131869

I read the first volume in the Saga series as part of a previous magical readathon and really enjoyed it. I ended up buying the next two volumes shortly after but, as usual, never got around to reading them. These are perfect for bulking up your readathon results so I’m super glad one of the prompts fit. Time to get back to Marko, Alana & Hazel’s adventures.

Potions

Next Ingredient – A Sequel

City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments 5#) – Cassandra Clare

Image result for city of lost souls aus cover

Time to press on with my The Mortal Instruments read/re-read. After getting through CoFA, I’m now finally onto a book I haven’t read. I’m not sure how keen I am though. My sister didn’t exactly give CoLS a glowing review and I am beyond over Jace and Clary’s melodrama, but for Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabel, I’ll push through. Well, that and because, as I’ve said many times before, I WANT TO READ THE DAMN DARK ARTIFICES like everyone else on the planet.

Herbology

A Plant on the Cover

It Ends with Us – Colleen Hoover

27362503

Thank god, finally a prompt that works for one of the prioritised books on my existing TBR! As you can see, this book features a bunch of crushed flowers on the cover so that works for the prompt. I featured this book on my recent Top 10 Tuesday Autumn TBR post so I really hope I actually get to it (outlook seems good). As I’ve mentioned, it’s supposed to be a good romance read with a decent amount of substance and emotion. It’s not overly long either which is great for a readathon.

Charms

Age Line – An Adult Book

Middlegame – Seanan McGuire

35965482

I was granted this ARC a little while ago now but as we were told not to publish reviews until at least 2 weeks before release (which is in May) I’ve been holding off. With only about a month to go now, I think it’s time to get stuck in. However, I’m a little worried about the fact it’s over 500 pages long and that it may hold me up a bit. Then again, it’ll be an e-read, so maybe it will be okay. The vague (non-full review) comments on this book have been great, meaning hopefully it’ll be so good that I simply race through in the blink of an eye!

BONUS TBR

Arithmancy

Work Written By More than One Author

Always Never Yours – Emily Wibberly and Austin Siegemund-Broka

34092885

Another book from my existing TBR, yay! That means it’s cute contemporary time. As I mentioned in my Autumn TBR Top 10, I’m super keen to read this sweet, fluffy read. And fitting with the prompt, it’s written by two authors – a husband and wife, so adorable. I think this’ll be a quick, easy read which should help maintain my momentum, especially towards the end of the month.

Muggle Studies

A Contemporary

What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

39704614

As I’ve mentioned a million zillion times, I’ve been putting this book off for a ages so it’s about time I finally read it. However, this subject isn’t a priority for me with my chosen career so it’s unlikely I’ll get this far. Poor What If It’s Us, it’s always so neglected. I’ll get to you eventually, I promiiiissseeee!!!

History of Magic

Published at least 10 years ago

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

832792

I was originally torn as to which King book I wanted to do for this one, but having finally decided to try my hand at an audiobook and give myself something to listen to when I go for walks, I downloaded Pet Sematary. I have no idea if I’m capable of listening to the entire thing during the month (it’s like 15 1/2 hours?). At least this one isn’t an essential subject and regardless of when I finish, if I feel like watching the new adaptation (I don’t usually do scary movies but can’t resist King adaptations) I’ll be ready for it.

Ancient Runes

A Retelling

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Kiersten White

38255342

Annoyingly, I read the only retelling I had on my purchased TBR in March (A Curse so Dark and Lonely) right before I saw the prompts for the readathon. Now, of course, I have to buy one if I do this prompt. At this point, it’s looking like Elizabeth Frankenstein will be my pick because I’ve been thinking about reading it for a while, it’s short, and, for something different, it’s not a fairy tale retelling. It also looks a tad dark which you guys know I’m always drawn to.

And that’s my ambitious TBR for April 2019! I’m hoping that if I put in a little extra time here and there, more than I usually do, I’ll end up with a good result much like I did in 2018.

Are any of you taking part in the OWLs 2019 readathon? If so, what profession are you aiming for?

New Releases to Get Excited About: April ’19 Edition

April 2nd

Wicked Saints – Emily A. Duncan: In a Polish inspired fantasy world, a girl with the power to hear the voices of the gods joins forces with a defector and a group of rebels to infiltrate the palace, assassinate the king and end a long standing war.

The Devouring Gray – Christine Herman: The town of Fourpaths, NY is hunted by a mysterious beast. It’s people are protected by the descendants of the town’s original founders using special powers passed down through the bloodlines. But with the monster growing stronger, can they come together to save everyone?

You’d Be Mine – Erin Hahn: Heir to a country music legacy, Annie is in high demand by every major music label. But after her parent’s deaths, the last thing she wants is to be in the spotlight. Superstar, Clay Coolidge, is in a tough position, sign Annie to the label or get dropped. To his surprise, Annie agrees to go on tour with him, but will she be able to get past her personal issues and see behind his bad boy persona?

The Princess and the Fangirl – Ashley Poston: Imogen is a huge Starfield fan and Jessica is the actress who plays her favourite character, Princess Amara. After meeting each other at a convention, the two realise they look exactly alike. So, when the script for the newest Starfield film is leaked and all signs point to Jess, the girls agree to work together and trade places to track down the person responsible.

We Rule the Night – Claire Eliza Bartlett: Two girls are offered a way out of punishment for their respective crimes by joining a special women’s military flight unit designed to undertake deadly missions by night. But they’ll have to get over their dislike of one another to work together in the cockpit and survive the enemy.

Defy Me (Shatter Me 5#) – Tahereh Mafi: The latest in the bestselling Shatter Me series. Juliette continues to deal with the challenges of being Supreme Commander of North America and is left reeling when Warner reveals some secrets that could change everything.

Since We Last Spoke – Brenda Rufener: Aggi and Max were happily in love until both their older siblings suddenly died in a car accident. After a year of silence and restraining orders between their families, the teens reunite at a house party and start to rebuilt their relationship. But will this reconciliation help bring their families back together or break what’s left of them?

Defy the Fates (Constellation 3#) – Claudia Gray: Hunted, Abel is desperate to save Noemi, but first he must escape the Genesis authorities. Alone, Noemi searches for her place in the universe after being turned into a human-mech hybrid. Meanwhile, the countdown is on to the final battle between Earth and the Colonies, and the two of them may have the power to change the galaxy.

April 4th

The Boy Who Steals Houses – C. G. Drews: Abandoned by his relatives, Sam provides for himself and his autistic brother, Avery, by breaking into empty houses. One day, he’s caught out when a family returns home. But when each of the teens mistake him for a friend of their sibling, Sam soon gets caught up in, and falls in love with, their crazy, wonderful antics.

April 9th

Descendant of the Crane – Joan He: A Chinese inspired fantasy. After the death of her father, Princess Hesina becomes the ruler of an unstable kingdom. Whilst attempting to avert war and manage her new advisers, she enlists the help of a soothsayer and a convicted criminal to help track down her father’s killer.

How to Make Friends with the Dark – Kathleen Glasgow: It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. But when tragedy strikes, she’s left completely alone. Placed into the foster system and bounced from place to place, Tiger is forced to comes to terms with her new life whilst processing her crippling grief.

The Red Scrolls of Magic – Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu: Shadowhunter Alec Lightwood and his boyfriend/warlock, Magnus Bane, take a trip to Europe. They quickly find that everything starts to go wrong when they come across a dangerous, demon-worshiping cult that Magnus originally created.

April 16

Serious Moonlight – Jenn Bennett: Teens Birdie & Daniel bond after both taking on graveyard shifts at a historic Seattle Hotel. Sharing a love of mysteries, the two stumble upon and set out to investigate a potential real one – that of a famous, reclusive author, never before seen in public, who may be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

Starworld – Audrey Coulthurst & Paula Garner: Sam & Zoe both seek an escape from the hardships of their realities. When the two girls meet and exchange numbers, a friendship begins that leads to the creation of a private universe they call “Starworld” – a world full of adventure, kindness, and acceptance. But can it survive Sam’s growing feelings for Zoe?

April 23rd

If I’m Being Honest – Emily Wibberly & Austin Siegemund-Broka: Cameron is known as her school’s Queen bee, and a bitch at that. But this won’t help her impress crush, Andrew. Consequently, she sets out to “tame” herself, including making amends with those she’s hurt. This leads her to Brendan. As Brendan and Cameron bond, she starts to question whether compromising who she is for a guy is really the way to go.

The Tiger at Midnight – Swati Teerdhala: Drawing from Indian history and Hindu mythology, the story follows a legendary assassin and a dedicated soldier on opposing sides of the existing regime. When the two cross paths, it sets off a dramatic chain of events that could effect the future of their land.

April 30th

King of Fools (The Shadow Game 2#) – Amanda Foody: Book two in The Shadow Game series returns us to the City of Sin as Enne and Levi continue to play a dangerous game of crime and politics in which they may lose not only everything they’ve worked for but also their lives.

What April release are you most looking forward to?

And That’s a Wrap: March ’19 Edition

March 2019 is over, and April begins. I say this every month, but it honestly feels like the year is just flying by. In a few short weeks, it’ll be Easter and I’ve done basically NOTHING in 2019 yet. Well, I have read some books. There’s always that. Speaking of which…

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers ★★★★

This book was exactly what people said it would be – a richly developed group of characters travelling across space. While the plot itself isn’t super action packed and does get slow, it’s okay because I loved the crew of the Wayfarer – they’re this wonderful, oddball family. The world building is fantastic and I have to admire how well Chambers managed to created so many distinct species. Such a wonderfully diverse read which really advocates acceptance.

Again, but Better – Christine Riccio ★★.5

I was looking forward to a fun and more mature YA contemporary with this one. Unfortunately, while the book noticeably improved after the midway twist, I had a lot of issues with the plot and writing (e.g. excessive detail, weird chapter cut offs, constant 2011 references, etc.). I often found myself bored through large sections and had trouble connecting with the characters. There were a few engaging and sweet moments, but I can’t help feeling extremely disappointed.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer ★★★.5

I’m a big Beauty and the Beast fan so I was majorly excited for this release. I enjoyed the slightly darker tone, inclusion of a strong protagonist with cerebral palsy, and fact that Kemmerer was able to bring her own spin to the original story. Although, some of the things I wasn’t so keen on were the bland world building, slow paced and repetitious plot sections, underdeveloped villain, and at times forced chemistry between the two leads. A decent retelling but I’m not sure if I’ll read the sequel.

Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★.5 | Review

While not nearly as enjoyable as Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones shares a similarly great sense of place and realism. Some people may be put off by the documentary transcript style but chronological ordering and sticking to common topics helps retain a degree of flow. The book deals with some heavy themes and although we only get to know a few of the characters well, Reid digs deep on them. There’s a great sense of female empowerment throughout and bonus points to Reid for actually writing full songs for the band too!

The Boy Who Steals Houses – C. G. Drews ★★★★.5

Somehow managing to be both wonderfully fluffy & sweet, and heartbreakingly sad, TBWSH straddles these contrasting tones exceptionally well. The characters are loveable, the dialogue is funny, and the book features some fantastic autism rep. I did have a couple of issues with loose ends and elements of writing style, but overall I really enjoyed this contemporary, which at it’s heart is all about family.

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious 2#) – Maureen Johnson ★★★★

Welcome back to Ellingham Academy, home of the unsolved mystery. TVS is just as fun as book one but without the slow introductory section. The death of Hayes takes a back seat this time around, with focus turning to Ellie’s disappearance and the Ellingham kidnappings, both of which we get big answers on. There’s some relationship drama and the book ends on a dramatic cliffhanger than makes me eager for book 3.

Legend – Marie Lu ★★★

Legend isn’t up to the standard of Warcross but that’s okay. There were a few not so great things – (a) the characters are only 15 and kicking ass, like what the? (b) why do we need a rushed romantic story aspect?, and (c) elements of the world building were a little vague. These aside, I didn’t mind the characters themselves, the plot was fairly engaging (especially the last third), and I generally found it an easy, alright kind of read. I’ve heard the books get much better as we go on so I’ll probably read the sequel at some point.

In March, I bought 3 books and was approved for 1 ARC (The Boy Who Steals Houses). With TBWSH due to come out next week, I made sure to tackle it soon after I received it. Originally I’d planned on reading another one of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books this month but after remembering that Daisy Jones was coming out, I couldn’t resist getting stuck into it right after I bought it. In the end, only two additions to my physical TBR which I’m super happy about!

I’ve largely stepped back to just two posts a week this month which I’m finding more manageable. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to three in April. I guess we’ll see! As usual, just in case you missed March’s posts, here they are:

Top 10 Tuesday

Book Reviews

Book Tags

Miscellaneous

Next month, I’ll once again be taking part in the O.W.Ls Magical Readathon hosted by G at Book Roast. I had a great time doing this readathon back in 2018 so I’m looking forward to the second time around. I’ll be putting up a post this week which lists the prompts I’m doing and the books I’ve allocated to them. I’ll also detail the wizarding profession I’ll be aiming for with my subject choices.

TV/MOVIES

  • I saw Captain Marvel at the beginning of this month and enjoyed it. It’s not the best Marvel movie I’ve seen but it’s pretty good. Yay for female superheroes! Goose the cat (or Flerken) is for sure my fave.
  • I managed to finally track down The Hate U Give. As far as adaptations go, I think they did a pretty good job and Amandla’s acting was great. I’m still mad that it was so hard to find a way to see this in Australia though. Ugh!
  • I’ve been alternating binge-ing two series this month. The first is The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel which I’ve only heard amazing things about for AGES. Turns out they were all correct. It’s fabulous and so funny. Nothing beats Amy Sherman-Palladino dialogue. The second is Game of Thrones. Last year I started a re-watch in prep for season 8 and stopped half way through season 2. Then, at the beginning of the month I realised just how close the premier date was for the new season. So, I sat down and set myself the task of finishing the rest in time. I’m now at the end of season 6 so it’s looking like I’ll be fine. I’M SO KEEN FOR SEASON 8.

Other

  • I had a visit from one of my lovely best friends! She lives in Canberra (we met when I was studying at uni). Our annoying schedules often make it difficult to link up but we make it work. It’s always so nice to see her – we shop, eat bad food and have a great time. I was also FINALLY able to give her her Christmas present!
  • My family and I went to see a production called “Potted Potter”. It’s a Harry Potter parody show in which two British guys condense the events of all 8 HP books into one 70 min show. They play all of the characters and utilise a random assortment of props. It’s ridiculous but also very funny.
  • I’ve decided to try my hand at Bullet Journaling to help get me on track with a few things – goals, habits, easier reading tracking, etc. I went out and bought the journal yesterday. Now I just need to make the time to sit down and design it. Considering tomorrow is April, I’m clearly doing well with my time management… *face palm*

I hope you all had a wonderful March and read some amazing books. What were the best and the worst books you read this past month? And what are you hoping to read in April?

Stabtastic: 7 Assassin Reads for When you Feel Like Something Bloody & Murderous

I love a good stabtastic read on occasion (totally a real, not at all made up word). After all, a little moral ambiguity is good for the household bookworm. Plus, if there’s one thing assassin stories aren’t, it’s boring. Well, at least the majority of the time. But what books are out there to fulfill the occasional need for something a little dark and potentially messy? Here are 7 books that may fit the bill.

Just to state up front, I haven’t read all of these so don’t hate on me if there’s something here that you weren’t so keen on.

Nevernight – Jay Kristoff

29845906

Let’s kick things off with the obvious pick – obvious because I freakin’ love this series. Nevernight is about a girl named Mia whose family is killed by the Emperor when she is ten years old. Six years later she sets out in search of a school for assassins called The Red Church in the hopes of making herself into a weapon strong enough to get revenge. The Red Church is hardcore though and if you can’t hack it as a student, you die. Simple as that. Mia also happens to be special in that she’s a Darkin – someone with the rare ability to control shadows. One of the ways her ability manifests itself is as a shadow companion in the shape of a cat which she calls Mr Kindly. Basically, it’s dark, bloody, sassy, a little smutty, and it’s fabulous.

Shelves: Adult, Revenge-Story, Training-Academy, Magic, Sass, Quotable.

Grave Mercy – Robin Lafevers

38640725

This one is on my neverending TBR. Grave Mercy follows seventeen-year-old Ismae who is supposed to be married off to an older man. When a mark on her back identifying her as one of Death’s Daughters is found, she’s sent off to the convent at St. Mortain. Here, the nuns give her a choice – leave and marry, or stay and train as an assassin to serve as a handmaiden to Death (assassin nun). Following her training, she’s sent to court in Brittany to protect the young Duchess, Anne, from the French. To do this, she poses as mistress to Anne’s illegitimate half-brother, Gavriel Duval, who may or may not be acting against her. What will come as a shock to no one, Gavriel and Isame fall for each other. Like Mia in Nevernight, Isame also has special abilities in that she has an immunity to poisons and can talk to souls. Although the story does revolve around politcial espionage and mystery, it’s in large part a historical romance and does have a slower pace so keep that in mind.

Shelves: YA, Historical-Romance, Assassin-nuns, Alternate-History, Political-Intrigue, Mystery.

Red Sister – Mark Lawrence

25895524

Sorry, did you just say you wanted MORE assassin nuns? Well, I aim to please. Red Sister is another book which utilises the good old training academy trope. It revolves around eight-year-old Nona Grey. Nona is taken in by the nuns of Sweet Mercy Convent after she shows signs of magical abilities derived from ancient bloodlines when she murders the son of a powerful man. The nuns offer her the opportunity to avoid execution by taking up a position as a novice and spending the next ten years training to become a fearsome warrior. RS spans over the first three years of Nona’s training. Much of the book is spent within the confines of the convent but there are also threats to Nona from the outside – the consequences of her actions before becoming a novice. Additionally, the book has a chosen one element and features a largely 90% female cast of badass characters.

Shelves: Chosen One, Magic, Assassin-Nuns, Strong-Female-Characters, Friendship, No-Romance, Training-Academies.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

13519397

Come on, I had to do it. It’s not a fave of mine but could you imagine the rioting if I left it off? The Assasin’s Blade would probably be a better pick, but as ToG is the original, we’ll go with it instead. Book one in the series introduces us to Celaena Sardothien, trained assassin, and currently serving a life sentence in the salt mines of Endovier. In exchange for her freedom, Celaena is offered the chance to represent Prince Dorian as a candidate in his father’s to-the-death tournament to find a new royal assassin. Here she’ll be pitted against some of the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land, and either she’ll win or die trying. After books 1, 2 & the prequel, the series does direct focus away from the assassin vibe but Celaena’s history as an assassin and associated skills do play a big role in the other books. It’s high stakes fantasy with battles, faeries, magic and romance. But be prepared, the series is 8 books long so it’s going to take a WHILE.

Shelves: YA, Tournament, Royalty, Lost-Princess, Magic, Kickass-MC, Friendship, Book-Boyfriends.

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

21956219

Robin Hobb is a big name in the fantasy genre and the Farseer trilogy is considered to be one of her best series. In Assassin’s Apprentice, we meet Fitz, the royal bastard. Fitz has difficulty finding his place, something made worse by the fact that he has a magical link with animals known as the Wit – a craft hated by the nobility. Once he gets older, Fitz is adopted into the royal household and begins training to become the royal assassin. The books follow Fitz’s adventures and trials, dealing with politics, war, loss and revenge. This is another series that starts out slow. However, the books were so popular that they spawned two more series about the character.

Shelves: High-Fantasy, Royalty, Magic, Mentor-Apprentice, Coming-of-Age, Politics, Underdog-Protagonist.

Graceling – Kristin Cashore

3236307

Another kick-ass leading lady and another romance style fantasy. Our MC is Katsa – a girl born with a Grace (exceptional skill or talent) for killing people. Because of this, she serves as a thug for the king, her uncle, travelling across the land killing, torturing and instilling nightmares. However, as she grows up Katsa starts to question her role. One day she comes across Po, a graced man as talented in fighting as she is. He turns out to be a Prince who has come searching for his kidnapped grandfather. The two start up a friendship and set out together to track down the kidnappers. As you’d expect, the two also fall in love. The book is a series of three which changes focus characters each time around. It’s won a bunch of awards, has a 4.12 average GR rating, and known to contain one of the most loveable romantic interests around. Although, I should note that the feminism aspect to this novel is very much on the side of: reject all things considered to be feminine and girly.

Shelves: YA, Romance, Friends-to-Lovers, Adventure, Magic, Coming-of-Age, Action, Radical Feminism, Kingdoms-and-Royals

The Way of Shadows – Brent Weeks

3227063

This book is one of those weird ones where the average Goodreads rating is high and the top reviews are negative. Probably because the story itself has some issues but people seem to enjoy it as a sort of guilty pleasure read? The first book in the Night Angel series introduces us to Azoth, a guild rat who lives a miserable existence in the slums. To escape his situation, he apprentices himself to renowned Wetboy (aka super assassin) Durzo Blint. Azoth is forced to leave his old life entirely behind and is given a new name, Kylar Stern. He then begins his training in magic, fighting and poisons to become a Wetboy himself. His skills are soon put to the test when his city is threatened. While the dialogue is supposedly questionable at times, and the attitudes towards women could use a lot of work, The Way of Shadows is supposedly an action packed and fast paced ride. If you enjoy fantasy tropes, this book includes a few of them. The book doesn’t involve much focus on world building, although the magic system is reportedly pretty interesting, and instead directs attention to plot and characters.

Shelves: Adult, Grim-Dark, Action, Magic, Coming-of-Age, Male-Protagonist, Mentor-Apprentice.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

What’s your favourite assassin themed book?

Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was easily one of the best books I read in 2018 (my number one pick, to be exact). When I heard that Reid’s next release was to be another historical fiction novel, this time focusing on a rock band during the 70s, I was just a little bit excited. After having finally got my hands on Daisy Jones & The Six, it wasn’t everything I was hoping for, but a fairly enjoyable ride all the same

Who, What, Where?

In the mid-70s, The Six were steadily growing in fame to become one of the biggest music acts in the world. However, it was only after they were joined by free-spirited, up & comer, Daisy Jones, that they reached true superstardom. With sold out arenas and their music on every radio station, the band seemed like they were on top of the world. Until in the summer of 1979, they suddenly split. Told in the style of a music documentary, the book details the band’s rise, success, and everything behind the scenes that eventually led them to go their separate ways.

He Said, She Said

As I’ve already mentioned, DJ&TS is not told in traditional style. Instead, it’s written as an intermixed set of interviews with all the players relevant to Daisy and the band’s story. A few people will likely find this approach choppy. While the novel does jump around from person to person, what they’re discussing is chronological and always links to common topics, events and people. For this reason I found that, for the most part, it managed to maintain a decent sense of flow. Something else I enjoyed about this approach was that, as a reader, we get to experience a variety of different perspectives on the same characters and big moments. Seeing just how differently one character interpreted or remembered something to that of another is one of the most interesting things about the story and really makes you wonder what the truth is. 

Raw Honesty

DJ&TS features a large roster of characters, but there’s only a couple that you reach more than surface level with and care about. However, Reid really does go all in on her chosen few – Daisy, Billy (singer/songwriter) and, to a lesser extent, Karen (keyboardist), Graham (lead guitarist) and Camila (Billy’s wife). The rest often feel like mere plot devices or, worse, parts of the scenery. With the novel’s interview approach, the ability to connect with the characters rests heavily on how important each character is to the overall events (which explains the list of characters above) and what they’re willing to tell the “interviewer” about their thoughts and feelings during those events. Reid’s “interviewees” are completely honest and raw about their experiences. The novel gives the impression that they’ve been sitting on all of this for a long time and it’s almost cathartic for them to finally speak about it. I may not have always liked each of the characters, Billy in particular, but I can’t deny feeling deeply for them at certain points.

The characters in DJ&TS deal with some heavy things – addiction, infidelity, abortion, loneliness, toxic relationships, being overlooked and undervalued, and they dive into all of it head on. Despite this, there are moments where I can understand some readers’ difficulties connecting with the story emotionally. However, there are also many others where it really shines with just how beautifully it describes ideas above love, trust, and being your own worst enemy.

Not a Muse, The Somebody

This is a story with three major female characters. They’re completely different and yet, all of them are strong and empowered. You’ve got:

  • Camila: a mother who believes in her family and is willing to fight to keep it intact
  • Karen: a musician who, despite pressure, rejects traditional women’s roles because she wants her career to be her greatest achievement
  • And Daisy: a performer who knows exactly what she brings to the table, does what she wants, and refuses to accept anything less than what she deserves.

Even better, all the female characters in DJ&TS, including Daisy’s friend Simone, are extremely supportive of one another. *claps* YES TO WOMEN SUPPORTING AND UPLIFTING WOMEN. For a book featuring a sort-of-almost-ish love triangle, that’s a pretty amazing thing. Don’t understand how it’s possible? Just read the final conversation between Camila & Daisy.

Go Your Own Way

One of my biggest issues with this book was the lack of a twist or big, dramatic moment. Going into the story, we know that the band broke up, but we don’t know why. As we progress through the narrative and watch the characters start to implode, there’s the expectation everything will finally culminate in a bang. As it turns out, DJ&TS isn’t that kind of story – something I wish I’d known going in, because I would have viewed it quite differently. This is a book about characters dealing with personal dramas whilst trying to be a part of something supposed to be a team effort and, in the end, failing.

Other Thoughts

  • Just like with Evelyn Hugo, the sense of place in this book is great. The feeling of 70s LA with all its shifty undertones comes across perfectly and it’s easy to get caught up in the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll vibes.
  • The story feels extremely genuine and believable – it’s so easy to forget these aren’t real people and that DJ&TS wasn’t running around, making music in the 70s.
  • The book has song lyrics scattered throughout and full songs from the band’s final album at the end of it. I am so damn impressed TJR wrote these. Talk about going the extra mile.

Daisy Jones & The Six isn’t Evelyn Hugo, but that’s okay. While the book certainly has its flaws, there’s many things to appreciate about it as well. If you’re a music fan looking for something deep, a little dark, with slower pacing, and the feel of non-fiction, this might be one to check out.

3.5 STARS