Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review Wednesday: Children of the Morning by Shanna Lauffey

Chronicles of the Harekaiian #2

"The Time Shifters are in danger. Someone wants what they have and are willing to kill if necessary to get it.

Akalya couldn’t hide in the past forever. The time has come to untangle the threads of a conspiracy so sinister that her very life hangs in the balance, as well as the lives of all of her kind.

Compelled by her promise to help Marcus, the half-breed, to learn to control his abilities, Akalya is conflicted by the need to go underground to elude the rich entrepreneur who continues to seek out others of her kind that even Akalya doesn’t know about, and the mysterious researcher working behind the scenes who already came too close to dissecting her best friend.

Akalya cannot leave, but she cannot stay. Most of all she must see that no more of her kind breed mutants like Marcus, who could become a danger to them all."

Thank you to the author, Shanna Lauffey, for gifting me with a copy of Children of the Morning.  All opinions expressed are my own.

I read the first book in this series a little while ago and I enjoyed this one a little more.  I'm just really getting into this series!  There's still some vagueness like what I mentioned in my first review but it's remarkably better and everything is more distinct.

1.  The characters.  We keep the same cast of characters as in the first book and there aren't any more significant one's added which allowed the author to really dig into the existing character's personalities.  In the first book, they were just barely shaped but in this next installment, they're so much clearer.  I finally began to really understand the main character, Akalya, and her frame of mind.  I find it's best to get to know characters through simply immersing with them in their own story and the author did a fantastic job of doing that with her.  There are passages before the start of each chapter that are in Akalya's voice (first person) which really emphasized her time traveling abilities (they are written as though it's all in the past while currently in the future if that makes any sense) and her personality and also offsets the rest of the book which is in third-person omniscient.  There still remains a bit of shadow and murkiness around the two villain's, though, and their personal motivations.

2.  The plot.  This installment is probably my favorite so far because of much we get to know about Akalya's time shifting abilities and we get to watch her shift through time and distance repeatedly and in quick succession.  The plot is mainly about neutralizing/delaying the threat that the two villain's pose for the Time Shifters (they are capturing them and experimenting on them to gain a better understanding of their abilities and whether it can be taught or transferred to other people).  Once you get used to the constant shifts in time and wrap your brain around what's happening, it's really enjoyable and slightly addicting.  Personally, I haven't read that many books about time or time travel and honestly, it doesn't seem like there are many out there.  Suffice to say, this series is a good addition to the small subgenre.

3.  The romance.  This is one of my favorite parts of the whole book.  Yes, there is romance, but Akalya has lived with suspicion her whole life so consequently, there is no instalove in sight.  It's more of a slow burn romance; one where Akalya wants to learn more about Marcus before getting involved with him, even if she was attracted to him from the very start.  This serves as such a testament to both their character's and speaks to their motivations which I really enjoyed.

The Final Verdict:
While there is still some murkiness present that transferred from the first installment, the romance, character development of the MC, and the plot are all brilliantly executed.
4 stars

Sunday, February 18, 2018

2017 Wrap-Up (yet another year with a reading catastrophe)

Yes, yes I know I'm terribly late with this but better late than never, am I right?  You know those years where you have all the best intentions to fix all the mistakes of the previous year but then it doesn't really work out?  Yeah, that was 2017.  I didn't even get around to posting my resolutions so I don't really have anything to compare myself with.  Mostly, I just know I failed epically at the two challenges I set for myself in the beginning of the year.  But let's stop with all the doom and gloom; the year wasn't all bad.  I had a great rereading stint (even if it meant I wasn't reading new-to-me books...) which was really great and December was an awesome month for reading.  But let me stop talking at you and show you some stats!

For starters, I read about 5,000 more words than last year which is really great!  Granted, I reread a LOT this year...

I also have a bunch of charts for you!  (but mostly for me because I'm lost without charts...)

I'm kind of disappointed in myself that I didn't tackle longer books although it was a crazy busy year for me.  I only read a small, small fraction of books over the 500 page mark (and 500 pages isn't even that bad!).  I'm hoping to do better this year.

The formats are mostly the same as last year.  I still haven't gotten around to trying an audiobook yet and I mostly read on my kindle.

As for the series', I feel like this is an ongoing problem.  I constantly start new series and then I never finish the series' that I start!  I get sidetracked by another series and it's just a horrible cycle.  I have a whole list of series' that I'm hoping to finish off this year.  I just don't like finishing series' and closing off the world for some reason.

I'm glad to see I have a bit more diversity in my genre selection last year although there's still a lot of fantasy in there (but how can I abandon fantasy??  It's the best!).  Overall, I'm satisfied with that spread and I'm going to try and keep up the trend.

The target audience percentages aren't surprising at all to me.  I love YA and I think I'll continue to love it for at least the next five years.  I am slowly introducing more Adult books into the mix too.

The author spread always surprises me.  I don't know how I tend to read books by female authors but that's just how it ends up.  I have no qualms with it, though.  I do want to read some books by an androgynous author sometime though!

My average star rating for 2017 was 3.97 which I'm kind of happy with.  I've been trying to work it down mostly because I feel like I'm always really generous with stars and I rarely ever rate anything 1 star.

But this is exactly what I'm talking about with trying to get my average star rating more balanced!  I tend to rate most books with four or five stars which could mean that I'm just really good at picking books that I know I'll like, or it could also mean that I always strain to see the good in everything.  I've rated a grand total of two books with one star in my entire reading career which is ridiculous.  I'm not sure if I'm committed enough to change this though.  I feel like that would mean changing my whole attitude on life which I don't want to do.
As you can see, the reading catastrophe occurred from June to September.  That's also about the time that I randomly disappeared from the blogosphere and stopped posting 50/50 Friday's.  My summer was just insanely busy with trying to keep up with my summer job and taking care of the house while my parents were away.  And then there was preparing for fall semester and then actually transitioning back to uni which was a little rocky.  So those months were not good months.  I think I redeemed myself a bit in December although it wasn't enough to make my Goodreads challenge (68/100 without counting rereads).

The Books:
If you'd like to see the whole list of books I read for 2017, you can see it HERE.

Some notable ones include:
Caraval - Stephanie Garber

Caraval #1

Rating: 4.5 stars (Review HERE)

This was one of the most atmospheric books I read during 2017!  I remember laying on the floor of my room for hours reading this, not even taking a break for food because I was so enraptured.  The sequel comes out at the end of May and I'm so excited!

A Court of Wings and Ruin - Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses #3

Rating: 4.5 stars (Review HERE)

Ah yes, this year marked pretty much the end of Feyre and Rhysand as protagonists and I'm sad to see them go.  Of course, I'm so excited for A Court of Frost and Starlight (that title though!!) but we won't be seeing them as main protagonists in full-length books anymore.  They're final full episode went off almost without a hitch (except for that fake death at the end... what the heck, SJM?  While I didn't want them to die, I almost would have preferred an actual death.  This is the perfect time for an Allegiant moment if you know what I mean!).  I'll definitely be rereading this series (and hopefully actually writing a review for the middle one, ACOMAF)!

18 Hours to Us - Krista Noorman

Standalone to date

Rating: 4 stars (Review HERE)

I've been reading and reviewing Krista Noorman's books for the better part of four years and it's been such a pleasure working with her.  I'm never disappointed in her books and she writes such lovely, fluffy (but with a hint of spice) contemporaries that I adore.  This is her newest book that I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of.

Among the Flames - Shelby K. Morrison

Legend of the Liberator #2

Rating: 5 stars (Review HERE)

I've also established a relationship with this author and I've read the first book in the series as well and I have to say, I immediately fell in love.  This is one of the hidden gems that you always dream of finding.  The second installment didn't disappoint and it's one of the newest additions to my fantasy favorites.  This is also one of my few solid 5 star books in 2017 (books rated 4.5 stars are rounded up in the statistics and many of my rereads are 5 stars).

The Fate of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling #3

Rating: 4.5 stars (Review HERE)

This is one of those series' where you either love it or hate it and I absolutely loved it.  This is the final book of the trilogy and I have to applaud the author for a perfect ending.  It's far from picture perfect and takes a turn you wouldn't expect but strangely, it's rather wonderful.  Kind of like the ending of The Handmaid's Tale where it's not the ending you were hoping for but it's perfect all the same.  I loved this trilogy so much I bought a hardcover copy of it and I'll be rereading it very soon!

And there you have it!  I'll be posting my 2018 resolutions and challenge wrap-ups/goals (I know, I'm so late!!) in about a week.  I already have them written in my notebook so I'm a little more organized than last year.

How did your 2017 pan out?  Did you meet your Goodreads goal?  Do you tend to read more male or female authors?  Do your reading tastes focus on a few genres or are you like me with basically everything?  Are you also intimidated to start large books?  How do you feel about having a high average star rating?  What's your average star rating?  And do you have my same problem with starting ALL the series' and then never finishing them?  Let me know down in the comments!

Friday, February 16, 2018

50/50 Friday (72): Favorite/Least Favorite Family in a Book

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Favorite/Least Favorite Family in a Book

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review Wednesday: In Search of Gods and Heroes by Sammy H.K. Smith

Children of Narowyn #1

"Buried in the scriptures of Ibea lies a story of rivalry, betrayal, stolen love, and the bitter division of the gods into two factions. This rift forced the lesser deities to pledge their divine loyalty either to the shining Eternal Kingdom or the darkness of the Underworld.
When a demon sneaks into the mortal world and murders an innocent girl to get to her sister Chaeli, all pretence of peace between the gods is shattered. For Chaeli is no ordinary mortal, she is a demi-goddess, in hiding for centuries, even from herself. But there are two divine brothers who may have fathered her, and the fate of Ibea rests on the source of her blood.
Chaeli embarks on a journey that tests her heart, her courage, and her humanity. Her only guides are a man who died a thousand years ago in the Dragon Wars, a former assassin for the Underworld, and a changeling who prefers the form of a cat.
The lives of many others – the hideously scarred Anya and her gaoler; the enigmatic and cruel Captain Kerne; the dissolute Prince Dal; and gentle seer Hana – all become entwined. The gods will once more walk the mortal plane spreading love, luck, disease, and despair as they prepare for the final, inevitable battle.
In Search of Gods and Heroes, Book One of Children of Nalowyn, is a true epic of sweeping proportions which becomes progressively darker as the baser side of human nature is explored, the failings and ambitions of the gods is revealed, and lines between sensuality and sadism, love and lust are blurred."

Friday, February 9, 2018

50/50 Friday (71): Favorite/Least Favorite Ships

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Favorite/Least Favorite Ships

Friday, February 2, 2018

50/50 Friday (70): Best/Worst Book Read in January

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @The Butterfly Reads and I and focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc).  Every week will have a new topic and several advance topics will be listed in the tab labeled 50/50 Friday!

Today's Topic: Best/Worst Book Read in January

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Agatha Christie Review Round Up: Part Seven

For my birthday last year, my parents gifted me with about 35 Agatha Christie mysteries of which I've made it my mission in January and February to read!  I've done six other parts to this series, all of which I've linked below.

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