January 2017 Wrap-Up

Can you believe we’re already at the end of January? My, that went by quickly.

I’ve noticed a lot of BookTubers and book bloggers post monthly wrap-ups, so I thought I’d jump on that train this year. 🙂 Here’s a recap/wrap-up of all the books I read this month, and a little blurb about what I thought of each.


This was my TBR for January 2017:

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My final count for books read this month is seven (which I’m actually pretty proud of). I didn’t think I’d be able to read so much with schoolwork, but I’ve managed to pull it off. Out of all the books pictured here, I read five and DNF’d three.


Books I Read This Month

28588061A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I’ve heard wonderful things about this novel. While I liked the writing and I thought the concept was interesting, the ending was too rushed for me to call this one of my favorites. I’ll probably still watch the movie, though.

 

 

 

 

 

15749186To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book, but I did. It’s a cute little story about love and what it means, and about growing up. It’s sweet and the characters are endearing (I loved Laura Jean’s family; they’re portrayed very realistically), and, though it’s not a spectacular book, it’s still a good and cozy read. I plan to read the sequel in February.

 

 

 

18166936The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

So many people I know loved this book, but I just didn’t get the hype. The writing is nice and it’s very interesting to see Ava’s ancestry, but I didn’t feel the “twist” this novel was building up to was executed skillfully, so the wait never payed off for me. Atmospheric, but unsatisfying.

 

 

 

 

26721568The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

This was a nice story about strength and what it takes to overcome one’s past, but, for such a long book (nearly 500 pages), not a lot happened. I loved Armentrout’s portrayal of anxiety and fear, and I was ecstatic to see a supportive parent-teen relationship that, though it’s not perfect, is solid. But I just liked this book; I didn’t love it.

 

 

 

25812109The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

I was worried this book would be a little too in-your-face for my tastes, but I connected with it well, and finished it in one day. (It was due at the library the next day, and I couldn’t renew it.) The writing was lovely and sharp, and the characters were easy to connect with and root for. Overall, a brutal book with some great messages. I’ll be looking out for McGinnis’s future works.

 

 

 

28954189Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I’m the black sheep among my reviewer friends, it seems; I thought this book was a lot of fun. Shusterman takes such a cool premise, and uses it to introduce us to a fascinating futuristic world, wherein the book explores the concepts of compassion, mercy, and humanity through death itself. I really, really enjoyed some of the High Scythes (Scythe Faraday!), and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series so I can see more of this world and these characters. Consider me intruiged.

 

 

25566212Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Everyone has been raving about this book. I’ve not read Cinder (I will next month), but I picked this up anyway. I was enjoying it until the last 75 pages, wherein a certain twist took place that I felt was rushed and not developed fully enough to be convincing. I liked it, but didn’t connect with it or love it the way others have. (Perhaps that makes me heartless?)


Books I DNF’d This Month

16221851Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

I’ve read Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities–and was bored out of my mind–so I’d hoped that this retelling would be more interesting. I wasn’t connecting with it, though, so I decided not to continue reading.

 

 

 

 

 

22510983Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

I picked this up while at the library, but it’s just not my thing. The style is too “tweeny” for me, if that makes sense.

 

 

 

 

 

28962906Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

I’m bummed about this one. I’ve heard mixed reviews, and I wanted to love it, but it just wasn’t gripping enough for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Overall, I consider this month a profitable reading month; I managed to keep up with library deadlines, and I’ve implemented a new DNF policy: if I’m not invested by page 75, I don’t continue reading. I’m looking forward to the new books and adventures February will bring!

 

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REBELLION (Extraction, #2): Review

18625184Rebellion (Extraction, #2) by Stephanie Diaz
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on February 10, 2015
Genres: young adult romance, dystopian, science fiction
Pages: 324
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★★½ 


We can’t forget those who are still imprisoned in the work camps, especially now that there’s acid descending on them from the sky. They already lived in fear of death, and now they have one more way to die.

They deserve freedom. But even if the scouts return and bring us news so we can launch an attack, it will take a lot more than a single battle to liberate everyone in the camps.

Our uprising has barely begun.

One week ago, Clementine and Logan escaped Commander Charlie’s clutches, and are now in hiding on the Surface. Even though the idea of safety is tempting, Clementine knows the peace won’t last for long; Charlie is determined to find her and crush the Alliance she’s aligned herself with, regardless of the consequences.

To throw the Developers a returning punch, Clementine sneaks back into Kielan society disguised as a worker in one of the Sector camps. There, she tries to stay undercover long enough to find information that will incriminate Charlie and the other Developers. But, the closer Clementine gets to finding the truth, the closer she finds herself to losing everyone she loves, as well as herself.

It’s been quite a while from the time I read this to the time I’m writing this review, so unfortunately I can’t remember much about it. All I know is that this book is was amazing. It took its predecessor’s flaws, and polished them. It took Extraction’s tension, plot, and chilling atmosphere, and it cranked the chaos to stratospheric levels.

Every page, it seemed some new disaster had befallen Clementine and her friends, one more obstacle to surmount on the path to truth and freedom. I applaud Diaz for not giving her characters any leeway and making them work towards their goals; it made the pages fly by.

Clementine’s strength in this book was unbelievable. Her determination to find the truth drove her far, but her willingness to sacrifice herself for her loved ones was unbelievable. Her selflessness landed her in some pretty terrifying situations—ones she could have easily avoided if she’d been focused just on saving her own skin. But instead, she faces all the challenges thrown at her head-on, because she knew others were counting on her. Her ability to

In regards to plot, Rebellion takes the foundation laid in Extraction, and expounds on it, weaving mere plot threads into dark, chilling tapestries that show just how deep the Developers’ deception runs. The tone of the book is set by the stains of Clementine’s emotional trauma, which grow larger as the book progresses and she’s subjected to more tortures. However, despite every twist, there is always hope remaining for the characters in one way or another, giving Rebellion a sense of urgency that made the book difficult to put down.

Finally, my favorite part: the writing. Clementine is still trying to recover from her experiences in the previous book, and this lends some poignancy to the prose. It helps whet Rebellion into a sleek, sharp dagger aiming strait for the heart. In addition, the ending promises a thrilling conclusion to the trilogy. It looks like Evolution is going to be one heck of a ride.

Mood & Music Monday: 1/30/17

Hello, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? My dad loves this song, but, believe it or not, I’ve never heard Sting or The Police before. The lyrics aren’t exactly calming, but the feel of the song is, and I really enjoy it. 🙂

What are you reading? I’ve finished Scythe and The Female of the Species, and I’m still working through Heartless.

What are you drinking? Water, and I’m planning on opening a Kombucha later tonight.

Any goals for this week? Finishing Heartless and working on book edits, which I haven’t touched in a while. We’ll see how it goes.

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

Book Haul: January 2017

Hello, my friends! Happy weekend!

So I know we’re not quite to the end of the month, but I’ve bought a lot of books this month (most from used bookstores), so I thought I’d share my purchases with you now (because I’ll probably be on book ban after this, heheheh).

My hope is to do a book haul each month (if I get books that month, of course). I’ll do unhauls, too, if I decide to ditch a book.

 

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Aaaaand the lighting for this was much better on my phone. Oops.


19062Getting the Girl (Wolfe Brothers, #3) by Markus Zusak

I’ve read and loved The Book Thief and I Am the Messenger, so when I found this book on the shelf at my used bookstore, I had to pick it up. I didn’t know it was the last in the series, but I still plan on reading the series anyway. 🙂

 

 

 

 

7937462THE SHORT SECOND LIFE OF BREE TANNER (THE TWILIGHT SAGA, #3.5) BY STEPHENIE MEYER

This was the only book I actually enjoyed in the Twilight Saga, so when I found it in decent condition for one dollar at the bookstore, I snatched it up. Can’t pass up a deal like that. 🙂

 

 

21853636All the Rage by Courtney Summers

This book has garnered a lot of praise, and it was in good condition, so I picked it up. I just recently read another book dealing with rape (The Female of the Species) and very much enjoyed it, so I am hoping this novel will be an enlightening–and brutally honest–look at rape culture and how it impacts rape victims. I hope it is a book of courage and strength.

 

 

 

 

7766027I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga

This premise sounds so, so interesting and creepy. I’m not usually one who reads crime/mystery novels (Sherlock Holmes being an exception, of course), but my reading friends have really enjoyed this one, and, again, it sounds so good, so I’m looking forward to it.

 

 

 

 

 

15790833Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga

The sequel was also there, so I bought it, too. (Also, it’s in hardcover, so it has these red bloodstains on the actual naked cover of the book. I’m pretty sure those bloodstains were 80% responsible for me buying this book.)

 

 

 

 

 
22055262A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)
 by V.E. Schwab

 

This was probably my best find; it’s probably the last book I’d expect to be at a used bookstore, but it was just waiting for me on the shelves. I really enjoyed This Savage Song, and this series has received a lot of praise, too, so I’d like to check it out and see what all the hype is about. It was in good condition, too, which is a plus.

 

 

 

20764879A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) by V.E. Schwab

Would you believe it? I found this book, too! It made me super happy. ^_^

 

 

 

 

 

 

14546838FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK (LUMATERE CHRONICLES, #1) BY MELINA MARCHETTA

Found this in paperback, so I bought it, even though I already own hardcover. (Don’t judge me; it’s one of my favorites.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

30233110Carve the Mark (Untitled, #1) by Veronica Roth

I preordered this, and it came! And let me tell you, it’s just as beautiful in person as the photos online make it seem; the cover is so, so shiny and gorgeous and shiny. (Did I mention it was shiny?) I have some library books to go through first, but I plan to read this soon! (I’m almost scared to, though, I worry if I touch this book too much, I’ll damage the perfect cover somehow. 0_0)

 

 

 

1656001The Host (The Host #1) by Stephenie Meyer

I’ve had my eyes on this book for a while (heheheh), so when I found it for, again, one dollar at the bookstore, I didn’t even hesitate. This behemoth normally sells for $25, I think, and I got it in good condition for one. Dollar. I feel so accomplished, haha.

 

 

 

 

 


So, all in all, that makes for a haul of 10 books this month. (That’s a lot for me; I blame Bookstagram and BookTube for subconsciously teaching me it’s okay to binge buy and then never read :/.)  I definitely won’t be buying books in February *knocks on wood*, but I am happy with the purchases I made. 🙂

What about you? Did you buy any books this month? How many? Which ones?

ROT & RUIN (Rot & Ruin, #1): Review

7157310Rot & Ruin (Rot & Ruin, #1) by Jonathan Maberry
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 14, 2010
Genres: young adult, post-apocalyptic, zombies
Pages: 458
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★★½ 


I will be honest with you: I did not expect to enjoy this book nearly as much as I did.

I’m not a horror novel junkie, but I do like zombies (even though reading zombie books makes me low-key scared of the dark). I don’t enjoy being scared while reading, but there’s something about zombie novels that makes being scared fun. So I enjoy them, but I can’t read too many of them, or I’ll start to get paranoid.

A fellow reader recommended this series, and, when I saw the first book at the library, I picked it up, hoping it would be good.

And it was more than good. That first sentence is probably my favorite first sentence ever. (And no, I won’t tell you what it is; read the book and find out for yourselves. 😉 )

There are many things this book does well, but I would say its strongest asset is its humor. This book made me laugh a lot with its witty prose, which helped characterize Benny and his friends very realistically. It lightens the mood of this book considerably, which served as a great balance to what is otherwise a sad, morbid story of a world caged in by death–a world that forgets the meaning of compassion and humanity itself when it comes to the walking dead.

Another favorite aspect of this book is Tom. He’s just so cool, and I don’t mean in the testosterone, action-figure way. Tom is capable as a zombie bounty hunter, but he’s also incredibly wise and insightful. Where so many fellow bounty hunters have forgotten the meaning of mercy, Tom remembers, and he teaches Benny very, very well. Their sibling relationship was written beautifully–it’s so supportive and understanding and stable–and it’s another one of the things I loved about this book. I wanted more of their relationship, and I wanted more of Tom.

There were a few times where I felt the author got a little too caught up in the moment with his characters and overly-romanticized certain scenes/character decisions, which diminished their impact in my eyes. But, overall, Benny and Tom and Nix and Chong and the rest of their town have captured my heart. With solid world-building, an equal balance of entertaining action and well-written character development, and a fair share of tense, terrifying moments, this is a novel that’s just as much about the human conscience as it is about the zombies themselves. Forget my brains–this book ate my heart.

But, strangely, I’m okay with that.

 

WiP Marathon #6: January 2017

It’s that time of the month again–WiP Marathon time! I present to you: the first 2017 update! Check it out below. 🙂


Last report word count + chapter count/scene count:

95, 829 words, 26 chapters.

Current report WC + CC/ SC: 

The same, honestly, I haven’t written anything new since this update, so no new scenes. Beta reading has been my priority.

WiP Issues This Month:

Prioritizing. Because I decided to take on beta reading as a hobby, I haven’t had time to focus on my own work. I want to find ways to progress in the revision process, but, since a lot of it is just staring at my outline and moving scenes around/brainstorming, it takes time–time I don’t ever seem to have.

What I learned this month in writing: 

I haven’t written at all this month, but I’ve read a lot of other people’s writing, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: Keep a leash on your prose. Don’t let it get out of control.

Also, make sure your premise (your promise to the reader) is the same as the actual plot of your book. And make that plot exciting, whatever it is.

What distracted me this month while writing: 

Beta reading, although I wouldn’t call it a distraction so much as a voluntary choice. I chose to beta, and beta-ing involves deadlines–deadlines I need to keep up with. I chose that over my own novel.

Goal for next month

Finishing the revised outline completely. Then, from there, I can start rearranging scenes/working further on plot, and things should get a lot smoother. (Famous last words, heheh.)

EXTRACTION (Extraction, #1): Review

16210411Extraction (Extraction, #1) by Stephanie Diaz
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on July 22, 2014
Genres: young adult romance, dystopian, science fiction
Pages: 406
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★¾ 


The publishing industry flexes according to the current trends in literature, and the current inundation of the reading world with dystopian/post-apocalyptic/science fiction is definitely one of the prime examples.

But, trust me. If you are still looking to get your sci-fi/dystopian fix, you will want to read this one.

I say this primarily because, going into this book, I had my fingers crossed. I was hoping that this would be exceptionally good, that, in the flood of dystopian books in the current YA market, it would be memorable, and that it would be original.

Much to my pleasant surprise, Extraction was, for the most part, these things to me.

The planet of Kiel seems much like our own in that humans inhabit it, but Kiel is very different from Earth in other respects. Luxury and life past twenty years of age is a rare commodity that are given only to those with high Promise (the factor that is supposed to show how useful or valuable a certain citizen is supposed to be). Child labor and starvation are abundant in all the layers of the planet except for the Core, which is portrayed by Developers as the ultimate utopia. The only way for outsiders to be granted Core citizenship is to take the Extraction test, which is administered once every year to sixteen-year-olds as an evaluation of their Promises. A handful of those who show the most Promise are selected from each layer of the planet, and then sent to the Core to begin Extraction training. It is seen as the ultimate escape from a life of constant hunger and misery.

Our protagonist, sixteen-year-old Clementine, is lucky enough to escape the Surface by being picked for Extraction. But the price she must pay for freedom is leaving Logan, the boy she loves, and, the longer she stays in the Core, Clementine begins to wonder if she has even gained freedom at all.

What I liked

  • Extraction’s pacing would probably be its biggest asset, if I had to choose one. The chapters are so masterfully laid out that it is almost impossible to put this book down. I am certain I stayed up until at least 2 A.M. reading to find out the fates of certain characters.
  • One of my favorite aspects of the book is the way that the author portrayed Clementine’s relationship with Logan. She is smart and strong enough to be able to survive on her own, but in a world as harsh as Kiel’s, she needs someone to lean on. I know that I would if I were in her position. Their relationship adds an extra shade of vulnerability to Clementine, and it made her easier to relate to.
  • I felt that the world-building in Extraction was cleverly done in that the similarities between Kiel and Earth were enough for me to be easily able to imagine myself as one of its citizens. Thus, I felt myself caring and feeling empathy for the starving children, the twenty-year-olds being carried away to quarantine, and the kids that know how to do nothing but constant work. Life on Kiel is so bleak, and so incredibly messed up, that I felt pain for its inhabitants, and found myself wishing I could make it better. There were a few things that required my suspension of disbelief at certain points, but, as long as I went with it, I was able to appreciate the way life on Kiel was portrayed.
  • The prose in this book has a tone that reminds me of Divergent‘s: blunt, but meaningful. At times it was even capable of also being beautiful–even poignant. While reading, I remember wishing that I could just take a highlighter and go over all the lines that I felt spoke to me but I would never do that, because I have an ARC of this, and it’s still new and shiny, and I’m terrified I’ll damage it or rip a page or get an oily finger print on the gorgeous cover. There were so many that I am still haunted by this book’s chilling ambiance.
  • I loved that Clementine had mathematical equations and theorems (like Yates’s) memorized. It was a fun little quirk that I haven’t seen in YA yet, and it helped make Clementine’s character unique.
  • I thought the ending was perfect. What a brilliant way to close the first book in this trilogy.

What I didn’t like

  • There were a few typos in my copy, but most of them were minor things, and, because my copy of the book is an ARC, I will not hold the mistakes I found against my rating. I do hope, however, that they are not in the final copies. A few sentences were so mangled with errors that they were incoherent, and I would hate for the meaning of these sentences to be lost because of some undetected mistakes.
  • I wish we could have seen more of Logan in the story. For a character so integral to Clementine’s decisions and behavior throughout the story, I felt as though he needed to be a prominent character in this book. His physical absence throughout most of the plot made it a bit difficult for me to care about the fate of Clementine’s quest. We don’t get enough time with him to see why we should care about him as much as she does.
  • Sam. I mean, it’s all right if you want to include a cocky, antagonistic character in a novel, but still…((SPOILER))Do you have to make him assault the main character and rape her friend in order to get across how evil he was? After that, reading scenes with him in it made me want to take a shower. ((END SPOILERS)) Plus, I know a few Sams, and they’re all really wonderful guys, so that kind of tarnished my image of the name. 😐 It’s a nit-pick, yes, but it bugged me enough for me to want to put it in the review.
  • Clem’s relationship with Beechy. At the beginning, everything was fine. ((SPOILER))Then she started feeling stuff toward him. I get it: she’s vulnerable, and he’s one of the few guys–heck, the few adults–who have ever treated her kindly. I can see how things would transpire that way. However, once Clementine discovers that Beechy is married, this plot thread is dropped like a hot cup of tea and never revisited. After going there with that, I would have appreciated some closure. ((END SPOILERS))

In the end, if you would like to read an enjoyable, addicting dystopian and don’t mind some mature content ((SPOILER))(in other words, if sexual assault doesn’t faze you)((END SPOILERS)), consider checking this one out. It stands as a pretty solid (though a slightly formulaic) dystopian novel with an intriguing premise, and its pretty cover only makes it more appealing.

Extraction is exactly like the moonshine it so terrifyingly describes in that the story settles onto you, haunts you with its urgency, and makes you feel considerably vulnerable for the few hours it takes to finish the book.

Except you’re not dead by the time you finish it. You’re very much alive, and you instantly want more.