What I’m Reading: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Young Adult Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling is one of those books I heard a lot about for a long time before I finally decided to pick it up. Graceling is the story of Katsa, a fun, fearless, kick-butt female hero who reminded me a lot of Aelin from Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass Series. Published in 2008, Graceling came well before Throne of Glass, but came in the same year as The Hunger Games and the now very well known Katniss Everdeen.

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Since I was a child, female hero’s have definitely become stronger, more independent, and just as deadly as any male counterpart. And I love this. Graceling is very much a classically written epic fantasy, with slow moving, but beautiful passages of description, and less dialogue. There are good guys and bad guys and of course a few love interests.

I really enjoyed Graceling, though I felt this book had a good ending, and though there are two more books in the Graceling Realm Series, I don’t feel pressed to pick them up, as the books are about other characters. Sometimes I like this, and other times I fine with one book being just one book.

A solid 4/5 Stars.

JEH

What I’m Reading: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman

Young Adult Book Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Starbound Trilogy #2)

Early this year I reviewed These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, book #1 of the Starbound Trilogy. I loved that book, so I wasn’t surprised when I feel right into This Shattered World. The second book of the trilogy has two different main characters, Jubilee and Flynn, but the tension, world, and romance were similar enough that I found the transition easy. Because the mystery is bigger than the characters themselves, it is easy to get hooked.

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I listened to This Shattered World as an audiobook. It was nice that the book was ready by two narrators, one for the part of Flynn, and one for the part of Jubilee. Without two separate narrators, I might not have so easily been able to tell the chapters apart. There’s one more book left in this trilogy, and I imagine I’ll be listening to it soon.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Young Adult Book Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep (Mythos Academy #1)

I recently had the privilege of attending a writing conference, where Jennifer Estep was one of the Key Notes. I had never read anything from her before, and I wanted to be familiar with her work before the conference, so I picked up Touch of Frost, the first book in Estep’s Paranormal Young Adult series, Mythos Academy.

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Now, the Mythos Academy name tells you almost everything you need to know to get started reading Touch of Frost. First, it relies heavily on world mythology; Second, the Gods are back (bad and good), and Third, you’re in for a whole lot of fun. The main character in Touch of Frost is Gwen, who’s a gypsy newly arrived to a school full of warriors, most of which are also blessed with some sort of bonus magical power. Of course, as always happens, things go wrong and Gwen ends up attempting to sort things out.

Touch of Frost was a quick, easy read, set in a world that I would love to live in. There were a few weak elements with the plot, but I could overlook them because the pace was quick, and there was never a slow moment. There are currently six books in the series (apparently #7 is currently only going to be release in Germany. But six books is plenty to keep me reading for a while.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Young/New Adult Book Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Either Young Adult books are becoming more and more edgy, or there really needs to be a new category of book. I vote for the later. There has always been edgy fiction, but these days there is a certain class of fiction that has young adult characters, is shelved as young adult, but has very adult themes. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios is one of those books. Exquisite Captive is a paranormal fantasy that follows Nalia, a Jinn, on her quest for freedom from her captor.

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I listened to this book as an audiobook on a solo road trip last month. I really enjoyed it, but looking at the other reviews out there, at lot of people did not. Their main pet peeve seemed to be the somewhat abusive relationship in the book. Now, in my opinion, and abusive relationship is not a reason to put down at book (unless you’re a really sensitive reader, I’m not). How that relationship is treated may or may not be. As I don’t believe the relationship is glorified in any way, I didn’t find it a reason to stop listening. I liked the book, so I kept going.

For fans of darker young adult fiction (the stuff that is often called New Adult), such as Sarah J. Maas or Laini Taylor, Exquisite Captive may be for you. Of course, there were somethings I didn’t love about the book, like how it things just kept not working out. I mean sure, it’s fiction, that happens, but it was almost like that happened one time too many.

Still, it was a pretty decent book. Exquisite Captive is the first book in a trilogy, the third book of which was release in February this year. Which is great, since sometimes I just hate having to wait for all of the books to be released.

JEH

Book Box Subscriptions, The New Thing?

So, for a while now I’ve been hearing about book boxes. There are plenty out there, and the basic premise is the same: subscribe and once a month (or less, depending on the company), you will be sent a surprise book in the mail, often with themed merchandise. Some boxes come with tea, some with jewels, and some with bath stuff.

I finally gave in and decided to try one.

With OwlCrate, the company I’ve probably hear the most about, I had the option to choose from their back order list just to try out the service. A few months back the book of the month was Caraval by Stephanie Garber, and it came with a bunch of circus themed goodies, including the Night Circus tote pictured below. As I loved The Night Circus, I decided that this was the box for me.

Well, it arrived yesterday, which immediately perked me up after arriving home from work, because who doesn’t love getting stuff in the mail that isn’t a bill?

Here’s a video and some pictures of my swag:

I really did enjoy opening my box. The mini-donut lip balm by Geek Fire Labs smells soooo good. As does the candle. The book looks like a great read too, and I can’t wait to get to it once I get my TBR pile down to a reasonable level (Why is it always out of control?). But the real question is: are book box subscriptions as pleasurable as going to a book store?

Now, I love book stores. I love going there, getting coffee, browsing the shelves of not just books, but journals, bookmarks, candles, and treats. The difference, though, is that the OwlCrate was filled with book related items. I think that is where so many bookstores fall short. Fandom is a huge market these days, and it’s only getting bigger. When I read a book like Throne of Glass, or Rebel of the Sands, I don’t just want the book, I want the stuff in the book. I want a candle that brings the world to life, or a necklace like the one so-and-so’s character wears, and this where the themed book crates come in.

So yes, I did enjoy the experience. Would I do it again? Quite possibly. Because I love surprises. That said, there is always the chance that I won’t like what comes in the box. And that’s when I go back to the bookstore.

JEH

 

My 2017 GoodReads Reading Challenge Update – Halfway There!

I love GoodReads, and I love the Annual Reading Challenge. This year, I’ve set my goal at 60 books. Well, June 30th is approaching and I’ve now completed 31 books, which puts me 2 books ahead of schedule.

So far, my favourite read of 2017 has been The Girl Who Drank The Moon. I seriously love this book and it is now on my absolute favourites list along with books like The Lord of the Rings, Pride and Predjudice, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter, and The Historian. Yeah, I know, my list is a complete mish-mash of genres. I could also go on listing my absolute favourite books, but I think I’ll save that for another time.

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In the past couple weeks, I’ve finished reading a few books I haven’t blogged about, mostly because I try to only blog about middle-grade and Young Adult books, though my reading preference is much more broad than that. I finished Career of Evil on audiobook (loved it!) and And The Birds Rained Down (a 2015 Canada Reads pick). I’m into reading Canadian Fiction as Canada’s 150th birthday is coming up July 1st!

Currently, I’m reading a few different books (I very rarely read one at a time). I have a bunch of half-read books, and I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll have surpassed my 60 book goal (70 would be lovely). But I have a lot of hefty picks waiting on my TBR shelf.

Here’s hoping! What are you reading?

JEH

 

What I’m Reading: The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Young Adult Book Review: The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

First off, I’m going to be honest and specify that I listened to this book on audiobook. But I loved it so much I went out an bought a hardcover copy after I finished. It isn’t often I rave about a book and say that everyone should read it, but I will with this one. The Girl Who Drank The Moon should be on everyone’s reading list, and I do mean everyone, young, old, and those in the middle.

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The Girl Who Drank The Moon is about a mottled assortment of characters (also young, old, and in between), in a fantastical world full of sorrow and magic. The book centers on the character’s inward journey’s and their interactions.

When I went to pick up my hard copy at the bookstore, i found this book shelved in Young Readers (9-12), which I think was a mistake on part of the publisher. I think this is really an all ages tale. It is beautifully written, poetic, and well themed. While there are children in the book, a lot of the story is told from Xan’s point of view, and Xan being an ancient witch, I wasn’t sure the book would have captured my attention as a young child, though Luna, also a protagonist, is 12 at the end of the story.

In all honesty, this book is hard to categorize. But that really doesn’t matter, because it is just a beautiful book. I heard about it from a woman in my writing group who raved about it, and I will say that she was definitely not wrong. If you haven’t hard about The Girl Who Drank The Moon, you should have, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should start. Now.

5/5 Stars

JEH