January Round-up: Reading, Writing, and Beyond

The first month of 2018 has been a bit up and down for me. I got five books marked off my Goodreads goal (albeit, one was read mostly in 2017). I’m a good 60% through another couple books which I hope to finish the weekend, including A Torch Against The Night, which I’m loving.

This month has been rather cold. There was one warm week, which I enjoyed immensely, but currently we’re back into the deep freeze-most definitely not my favorite part of the year and already I can’t wait for spring. I did take a quick vacation get-away at the end of the month, and spent a day at the enormous World Water Park pretending that I was in Mexico. Ah, if only I had actually been in Mexico just like last year. Well, there is always next year.

January was a terrible month for writing (I blame this on the cold, since all I want to do is sleep and read). I plan on picking that up next month, and finally get somewhere with The Circlet and The Chain (Artifacts of Avalum Books 2 and 3). Tomorrow, I’m going to post my planned February reading list, and I’ll have a few more quick reviews in the coming weeks too. What have you been reading lately?

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JEH

What I’m Reading: The Death Cure by James Dashner

Young Adult Book Review: The Death Cure by James Dashner

It has taken me a long while to get around to reading the last book of The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner. This last book in the series definitely kept me on the edge of my seat as I wondered just how Dashner was going to wrap everything up.

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Earlier this week, I posted a review for The Savage Dawn, which is also a last book in a trilogy. I wrote about how that book had an ending that fit, and that I liked. Now, I liked how The Death Cure ended the Maze Runner Trilogy, but I’m not sure I got enough information. At the end of a series, I like to have a good feeling that I know how the main character’s life is going to be, and with The Death Cure, I feel that I don’t really know what Thomas’ life will be. I feel like there could be a whole new series of books.

Now, I know that there is a novella that might fill in some gaps, and I haven’t picked it up. I’ve also read some reviews that say it doesn’t really answer the lingering questions. Overall though, the ending was solid, and hey, some people really like the unknown.

4/5 Stars

JEH

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: 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

What I’m Reading: Legend by Marie Lu

Young Adult Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

This book had been on my ereader waiting to be read for literally forever. I’m currently attempting to get through my backlog, and Legend was actually a nice, quick read. Oh how I wish I had more time for reading!

I found the beginning of the book a bit confusing, since I didn’t know if Day was a boy or girl, but once everything was sorted out, things moved along smoothly. Legend is a dystopian novel, set in a future world at war after enormous flooding. The narrative alternates back and forth between June and Day, two kids on opposite sides of the war.

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I picked this book up because on of my friends told me she like it more than the Hunger Games. And I was like, what?!? More? Not possible. So, now that I’ve read legend I can honestly say I stick to that opinion (sorry friend, you know who you are). I still love Hunger Games more, but Legend was a solid YA dystopian read with a nice pace and a nice mystery that keeps you turning page after page.

The second novel in this trilogy, Prodigy, has also been on my ereader forever, and after I finished Legend, I began reading it right away. The series is definately worth a word.

A solid 4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Young Adult Book Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Like this first two books in this series, I listened to Dreams of GodsĀ and Monsters on audiobook. If you like audiobooks, I highly recommend these ones. Or you could just read the books, because the story is fantastic.

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Dreams of GodsĀ and Monsters begins right where Days of Blood and Starlight ends. Karu is deep in battle with her foes, and her heart is deep in battle with itself. Laini Taylor’s world is so well thought out and rich with detail, and it’s super easy to get lost in it for a while.

I didn’t find the last book of this series as strong as the first two. The end felt a bit protracted, as the main action ended well before the end of the story. It was that kind of slow winding down feel, which I’m not a particular fan of (such as J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King). The audiobook is over 15 hours long, and it took me a long time to get through it. I think I had to borrow it from the library three or four times, mostly because I didn’t have any long road trips during this period. But if you’ve got in your future, pick up this book to keep you well occupied.

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy is now new the top of my favorite Young Adult series. What’s at the top of yours?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I’m almost ashamed of admitting how long it took me to finish reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I made a pact with myself a while back to read more classics. I know and love Pride and Predjudice very well, but I haven’t read all that many classics other than everything by Jane Austen. Since I’ve begun reading more of the old famous books, I’ve found a few that I love, Dracula and Frankenstein, and a few that I’ve hated, Lolita and Madame Bovary. Jane Eyre fit somewhere in between those two ends.

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Jane Eyre wasn’t quite as romantic as Pride and Predjudice, and it wasn’t quite as gothic as Frankenstein and Dracula. I’ve noticed the obvious pattern that even amongst the classics I mostly prefer those with a fantastical twist. Part of the reason I picked up this particular copy of Jane Eyre was because of the cover. Isn’t it gorgeous? Here’s a better look.

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Previous to reading the novel, I’d seen a couple different remakes of Jane Eyre in cinema format, and I’ve never particularly loved any of those either. Part of the reason, I think, is that the pieces of the novel I found more interesting always seemed to be wiped out of the movie. For instance, i really enjoyed the beginning of Jane Eyre when Jane’s at school. This took up at least a good quarter of the book, but I’ve never seen a movie dedicate that much time to it.

All in all, reading Jane Eyre was a pleasant experience, so pleasant in fact that I kept falling asleep when reading it, which is part of why it took me over six months to get around to finishing it. But I’m glad I’m done, and that I can now add it to my GoodReads count.

4/5 Stars.

JEH