January 2015 Wrap-Up

So January was a big month for me reading wise. I read a total of 10(!) books, two of which were re-reads. So, that’s 8 new books! Let’s get started.

The first book that I finished in January (started in December, but it counts toward January, if you ask me) is Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars, and since I wrote a review, I’m not going to talk about it here.

Soon after that, I finished White Hot Kiss also by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I rated this 3 out of 5. I did not find it quite as compelling as some of her books. It wasn’t bad but it also didn’t ensnare me so much that I couldn’t put it down. There wasn’t any of that extra quality I’m looking for when I read her stuff.

Then, I finished Dragon Bound, the first installment of the Elder Races series, by Thea Harrison. I listened to this on audiobook, so it was an exercise-time read, for the most part. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars. I really, really enjoyed it for the most part. There were parts I wasn’t a huge fan of. The sex was good, but almost too mind-blowingly perfect, for my tastes. I prefer more, well, down-to-earth sex scenes.

I read Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott next. I rated this 3 out of 5 stars. I wasn’t feeling this one, to be quite honest. The writing felt a little too juvenile for me, even for a YA book. I was disappointed. The plot was super intriguing, but I didn’t feel the story or the writing did it justice. I did, however, grow to like the characters and feel they were pretty well-developed, especially the main character, Tella. I’ll probably continue on with the series, but I can’t promise anything.

Then, I read the second book in the Unwind series, Unwholly, by Neal Schusterman. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars. I liked this better than Unwind (which I read in December). This story is so gripping, and the different perspectives just grab you. The tone goes from creepy to romantic to action-packed ferocious. I loved some of the new characters in this one, including Cam, and Trace, and Starkey (well, I loved to hate at least one of these people.)

I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin next. I rated this one 4 out of 5 stars. It was very good, very creepy, and the romance was also pretty okay, I thought. Not great, but not cringeworthy or just thrown-in there, either. I really enjoyed this book, and I’m looking forward to continuing this series.

Finally, for my first-time reads, I listened to the first two books of the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. I have many thoughts.

I gave the first book, Halfway to the Grave, 5 out of 5 stars. Wow. I was astonished. I loved, loved, loved this book. The romance was smoldering, and the story was well-paced, and the villain was sufficiently villainous. Just…beautiful.

And then, the second book, One Foot in the Grave. Sigh. I only gave this 3 out of 5 stars and I cannot explain how disappointed I was. The book started off even better than the first, if that is possible. The first scene between Cat and Bones was just perfection. And then everything went to crap. Friendships only existed to be a threat to the couple. Jealous lovers. Cat fights. I hate this stuff. Why can’t characters just be friends? Of course Cat’s male best friend is in love with her. And of course every women in Bones’ past must be trying to get in his pants still now. Because unhealthy contrived relationship drama is the best! Or not. I won’t be continuing this series. Sorry. I might do a review of this book so more adequately capture my grievances, because it seems I have a lot to say. (If three stars sounds generous, that’s because I averaged how much I liked the first half of this book with how much I hated the second.)

So, those are all the books I read for the first time in January. As for re-reads? Well, the sixth and final installment of Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series, The Ruby Circle, is coming out on February 10th, and it is one of my most anticipated releases of this year. So, I’ve decided to marathon the first five books of the series to freshen up on this series. I’m two books deep so far: Bloodlines and The Golden Lily. These are both 2014 reads that I rated 3 and 4 stars out of 5, respectively. I think this series in underrated, and after I finish marathoning it and read the final book, I might just have to reread the Vampire Academy series. Who knows?

I guess I was a tough grader for the books I read in January, with only one five-star book. I’m still looking for something to “wow” me and keep me enthralled. Halfway to the Grave could have been it, but the second book made it not so. There’s still plenty of time left in 2015, though!

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January 2015 Wrap-Up

Review: Wicked, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

wickedcover

Rating: 4/5

So, I went on a Jennifer L. Armentrout kick over the holidays. I read White Hot Kiss, Opposition, and this little beauty.

First: the cover. Meh. That’s the thing about covers for her books — they are never very good, unfortunately. This one is better than most of them; I like the background and the font, but the picture? Not feeling it.

On to other things…

This book takes place in New Orleans, with a 21-year-old woman, Ivy, who is a member of “the Order,” a secret organization who fight the Fae — otherworldly human-appearing nemeses roaming the cities unbeknownst to most humans. After Ivy encounters a Fae with strange powers who is not harmed by her trusty iron stake, she realizes that there is a bigger threat out there. The only person who is willing to be honest with her about that threat is Ren, an elite Order member who just transferred to the New Orleans branch — and who takes a special interest in Ivy.

This was probably my favorite JLA read of the month, mainly because the other two are YA. I like YA, don’t get me wrong, but she writes these steamy romances and honestly, I just get kinda skeeved out by them if they’re so young, y’know? I liked the Lux series, but after book two the romance became too much. In this book the characters were still pretty young, but at least they weren’t still legally kids. When Daemon and Katy had sex, I had to pretend in my mind they were older to not feel like a total creeper. I’m not saying YA books should be chaste, but I am saying that when it comes to steamy romance — I, personally, prefer to go to the adult section.

The story was actually pretty good. The romance I was lukewarm on. I liked both of the characters, Ivy and Ren, but I wasn’t sure how much I was feeling them together. I expected more from JLA in terms of creating romantic and sexual tension between the two of them. I feel like it was consummated far too quickly, and it followed all the predictable lines of a paranormal romance without any deviation from the norm.

That’s the thing about this book: Nothing really stood out until the end. Which isn’t to say I didn’t like it: I actually really enjoyed this book. It was good. Just good. The thing is, I enjoy paranormal romance, so if a story follows the rules, so to speak, it’s a safe four stars from me.

So, now, we get to the ending.

Warning: Here be spoilers

Continue reading “Review: Wicked, by Jennifer L. Armentrout”

Review: Wicked, by Jennifer L. Armentrout

2015 Reading Goals

The good thing about starting this blog in January is that it is the perfect time to write a post about my 2015 reading goals. So let’s start with the obvious one:

I want to read 50 books this year.

That number seems low. I have a lot of friends who are aiming for 75 or 100 books this year. However, I work a full time job, and I will be taking college classes for the spring, summer, and fall semesters. I also have a freelancing job. Basically: I’m not anticipating a whole lot of free time on the average day this year. If things change, or if I end up being way ahead of par, I may increase my goal down the line. But I think 50 is reasonable for now.

There are two other goals that are super important to me this year, as I realize that my book collection has come to lack a certain kind of diversity.

I want to read at least 10 books with queer or LGBT protagonists.
I want to read at least 10 books with protagonists who are people of color. 

I have some books lined up for these goals, but I also have some research to do toward what books to read to reach these. I didn’t add the goal of reading a certain number of female protagonists, or books by female authors, though I think those are also two worthy goals. The thing is, 90% of the books I read fit both of those criteria, and so I didn’t feel the need to add a numerical goal to that.

I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, and have only one non-fiction goal for this year:

I want to read at least 5 books about theology.

I have even decided what these books will be:

Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology by Patrick S. Cheng
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone
Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland
Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity by Dianna Anderson
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans
I am actually currently reading Radical Love, although that is going slower. My goal on that is to be finished and have a review up in time for Valentine’s Day.

Moving away from my theology TBR for 2015, now is the time to stretch my boundaries. There are certain types of books that I love to read, and there are others that just…I haven’t really dipped my toe into the water all that much. Now is the time to change that.

I want to read at least 5 contemporary books. 
I want to read at least 15 standalone FICTION books.
I want to read at least 3 adult high fantasy books.
I want to read at least 3 FICTION books written before 1990.

I could go on and on about the different genres and areas I still have to try out, but I feel like adding anything other than might end up stretching myself too thing for 2015. I have to leave room for the old favorites, after all!

Those are all of my goals for this year, as of yet. They are subject to revision, addition, or deletion, but I think this is a good starting point for the next twelve months. At least now I have an idea of what titles to be on the look out for!

2015 Reading Goals

Introducing…

Since this is the first post to this book blog, and since I am too lazy (and you’d be too bored) to do a few introductory paragraphs, here are a few questions and answers about me, my book-reading habits, and this blog.

How old are you? Where are you from? What do you do?

I am 27, almost 28-years-old, from an undisclosed location in Oklahoma. I’ve done a lot of temporary work, and right now I am an assistant in the accounting department of a pretty sizable oil and gas company. But that’s just paying the bills. What I really love to do is write. I want to become published and eventually make it to the point where I can support myself fully with my writing.

What genres of books do you normally read?

I read young adult fantasy and science fiction, though I’m not so much into YA contemporary. I feel like I can’t connect to the characters as much anymore, being as old as I am. At least in SF/F, I can suspend my disbelief a little more since that’s not supposed to be realistic. I like adult stuff, too, and am more likely to pick up a romance or contemporary or “realistic” book if it is an adult book rather than YA. I like series. I like epic stories. I’m not so much into high fantasy (though I will read it) as I am urban fantasy and science fiction.

Favorite authors.

That is a tough one, to be honest. I don’t really have that many “favorite” authors whose books I will always pick up by rule. As for authors I’ve read over and over again? Well, I’ve read quite a bit by Jennifer L. Armentrout lately, because I find her books addictive. I don’t like everything about her writing style or her quirks, but I can read her books like they are candy. I like Richelle Mead a little better, though all I’ve read from her are the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines. Nalini Singh is an adult paranormal romance writer who I adore, though I’ve only read two books in her Guild Hunters series thus far (and loved them, and highly recommend them, by the way).

Favorite ever series.

There are so many! It isn’t a contest, but there are so many series that I just love, I feel bad about leaving them out. But my favorite ever series is, without a doubt, the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Everything about that series is so, so, so good. The plot, the action, the world, the romance (Peeta!), the implied social commentary… I could go on and on…

Favorite ever stand-alone novel. 

This is a book I don’t think many people have heard of. I only gave it 4.5 stars on Goodreads, despite the fact that I just devoured it (I think I had an issue with the romance, mainly). But that book is Split by Swati Avashti which is about a teenager boy who escapes from his abusive father and goes to stay with his older brother, who escaped five years prior. That’s a one-sentence summary. The book is so gut-wrenching in the way it deals with the issue of domestic violence and child abuse, and my heart went out to these characters. I read it in a day. I remember, because my grandpa had broken his hip and I read it in the hospital while we were in the waiting room and he was in surgery for a few hours. I cried. I had to put it down a couple of times to walk around because I just couldn’t handle it. This is the kind of book that takes an emotional toll on you.

Who are some authors you believe to be overrated?

Well, keep in mind there are some authors who I love but who I know probably aren’t that great. So, hopefully, this doesn’t make anyone mad, but… John Green. I just have never been able to get into his books or characters. At all. Also, I see a lot of love for Cassandra Clare among book bloggers and vloggers but I’m not a fan, to be quite honest. Sorry!

Overrated books?

Okay, on that same note… I know I gave The Fault in Our Stars four stars on Goodreads but it probably didn’t deserve that. I think I only gave it that many because I felt bad. I just…I felt that Gus was so pretentious and I couldn’t understand him as a love interest. Hazel Grace was okay, but not the greatest protagonist. Some of the aspects of the romance were just cringe-worthy. Making out in the Anne Frank house? No. No no no no no no no no. I’m sorry. That is just plain wrong. The cigarette thing Gus did made no sense at all. Anyway. It wasn’t that I hated the book but I just personally find it t one very overrated. Anyway, that’s the big one. I’m sure there are others, but I’ve talked too long at this point.

Okay, so what about some underrated books?

Well, there’s the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead, which started out slow but got better as it went along; it isn’t as good as Vampire Academy but I still think more people should be talking about it. Also, I really liked Allegiant even though it seems like everyone and their dog hated it and said it was the worst in the Divergent series. Same with Mockingjay, as well

What book formats do you prefer?

Anything I can. I like having physical copies of the books I love, but I love my Kindle. I also listen to audiobooks because I work out and it’s fun to listen to a book while working out. I’ve found that there are certain books that are perfect for listening to; others, not so much.

What are you currently reading?

Right now, on audiobook I’m listening to Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison, which is an adult paranormal romance and wow! it is steamy. Oh goodness, Dragos….

I’m also reading Unwholly by Neal Shusterman, which is the second book in the Unwind series, a YA dystopia and it is so creepy and unique. In fact, I need to go read it now before bed, so: Good night!

Introducing…