January Wrap-Up | February TBR 2016

This month really flew by in terms of reading. I set myself a pretty high goal. Higher than I usually go. I decided this year was going to be the year that I would read 100 books or more, no matter what. I have to do it. I CAN do it.

As far as quality, this month was a very VERY good reading month. I even did pretty good in quantity. I just did a post on how I rate books. Check it out if you’re curious!

January Wrap-Up

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Ocean at the End of the Land by Neil Gaiman
5/5 Stars
This was such a great start to the year. It was a very short book, but it packed a huge punch. I found myself getting quite emotional during certain parts. I thought about it a lot after I finished it. Neil Gaiman is a master of magical realism and he will always be my favorite male author.

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Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry (Thunder Road #1)
3/5 Stars
I did a full review on this if you’re interested. I initially rated it 4/5, but I think that was a bit impulsive. When I reflected back, I knocked it down a star. But I don’t want you to think I didn’t enjoy it, I really did. It was cute, sweet and a very quick read.

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The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (The Magician’s #3)
4.5/5 Stars
This is the conclusion to The Magician’s Series and it was the best one. People love to compare this series to Harry Potter and say that it’s an “adult version”. I can see the parallels but I DO NOT recommend you go in to it thinking that. You’ll end up disappointed. I love this series to pieces. I have a full series review if you’re interested.

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Deadly Class Vol. 1
1/5 Stars
I can’t really tell you why I hated this graphic novel, but I did. It just did not sit well with me. Sorry if you love it, I just didn’t like it at all.

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American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
4/5 Stars
This book was everything that I wanted it to be. I’m suffering from a severe Downton Abbey hangover. This helped me with the withdraws between seasons. I really loved how the book read exactly like an episode. I found myself going from hating the main character to loving her by the end of the book. I loved the ending, can’t wait to read Daisy Goodwin again.

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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2)
5/5 Stars
As always, Sarah J Maas delivered. I was even more enthralled in the world in this book than I was in the first book. My love for Dorian Havilliard grew, as well as my love for the amazing Celaena Sardothien. The ending left me wanting to instantly read the next book. The book was full of magic, intrigue and mystery. I can’t wait to keep reading.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #1)
3/5 Stars
I literally finished this a little over an hour ago. I was hesitant because of the love/hate relationship everyone has with this book. I found myself in the middle. I really liked the story, the world and the action in this book, but I found that a lot of the characters fell sort of flat for me. They all seemed to sort of blend together near the end of the book. I predicted quite a few things. I thought the book was very entertaining and I certainly will be continuing on.

“Hangover” Books
These are books I didn’t quite get to last month as planned. I may or may not incorporate them in if I have extra time.
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Note: I am currently reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

February TBR

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Let me know if you’ve read any of the books mentioned and what you thought of them! Thanks for reading! May you crush your TBR.

~The Grisha Lieutenant

How I Rate Books | Book Talk

A while ago, I decided that I needed a method for rating books. Before I came up with my rating system I would just assign whatever rating felt right after I finished a book. I would rush to my phone and rate it on Goodreads along with a small summary of how much I liked the book or didn’t like the book. I would always look back at that rating and think, but did I really think about it or did I go on impulse?

That was when I came up with my system for rating books. I sat down and broke down the most important factors (to me) for rating a book fairly and objectively. Ever since I started book blogging I decided it’s not enough to just slam a book or praise it. That if people were reading my reviews they deserved a dimensional breakdown so that I could help someone else decide if they wanted to commit their time to something.

I’m a Virgo. I have to chart/list/laminate everything.

The System:

Total Stars Possible: 5

Factors Impacting Ratings: 10

The Breakdown:

Each star represents a different element of a novel. I have two factors in each category, each worth half of a star. I look at the chart every time I finish a book and attach a rating to it. I ask myself questions to decide if the book deserves the half star or not.

Star 1: Plot and Story 

  • Development:
     Did the plot develop throughout the story? Did it change?
     Was the pacing of the novel appropriate for the development of the plot?
     Was interest in the plot maintained through out the novel? 
  • Originality:
    – Was the plot unique/original/memorable?
    – Did the plot follow a “scripted” sequence of events or did it follow it’s own path?
    – How many tropes were used? How often were they used?
    – Were you able to predict the ending?

Star 2: The Characters

  • Dimensionality:
    – Were the character’s three dimensional?
    – Could you distinguish one character from another easily? Did they all have individual personalities? Did they blend together?
  • “It” Factor
    – Did you care about the characters through out the story? Did you care what happened to them?
    – Did you have a strong emotional connection (love or hate, good or bad) to at least one of the characters?

Star 3: The Writing 

  • Readability:
    – Did the book read well?
    – Was there consistency to their writing?
    – Was there a clear mastery of grammar?
  • The Author’s Voice:
    – Would you read another book by this author?
    – Was the writing poetic? Beautiful?
    – Did you like the writing style? Did you connect to it?

Star 4: Enjoyment 

  • The Reading Experience
    – How long did it take you to finish the book? (Note: I prefer to read a book within the span of about 3-4 days. If it’s longer or shorter than that, there’s usually a reason)
    – Did you want to finish the book or did you feel obligated to?
    – Did you find yourself wishing it was longer? Shorter?
  • Feelings After Finishing
    – Did you feel satisfied with the ending? (Excluding books in a series)
    – Did you want to talk about it right away?
    – Would you recommend it to others? A close friend?
    – Did you feel strongly about the ending?

Star 5: Extra Factors

  • Escapism
    – 
    Did you feel fully distracted from reality while reading it?
    – Were you fully engulfed in the world? (Fantasy only)
    – Could you visualize everything that was happening in the story?
  • Fangirling Level
    – Was there Fangirling?
    – Did you instantly search for the book on Tumblr and reblog everything you found?
    – Did you aggressively avoid spoilers while reading the book?
    – Have you shipped any characters and/or shipped them with yourself? (You know you do it, don’t judge me)

There you have it. That’s how I rate books! Let me know below what your process is like and what you think of mine. Thanks for reading!

~The Grisha Lieutenant

Note: Sometimes my Goodreads rating differs from my blog rating. I usually do the whole process before a Wrap Up (which is coming tomorrow!).

Reading Update | January 27th, 2016

I thought I was going to do a lot better with my TBR this month. I was so pumped to do eight books a month! I tried to pick books that I really wanted to read. But somehow, I’ve been reading pretty slow. I did so great at the start of the month, then it just slowly declined.

Here are the three I read within the last week: 

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I know, I cheated. I read something that was both not on my TBR and isn’t really a book. It really did bite me right in the ass. I didn’t like Deadly Class at all. I thought that if I picked up a graphic novel, it would keep me motivated. Then I hated it.

The other two novels I loved! It took me a while to read through American Heiress and then I almost flew through Crown of Midnight. Both of them were fantastic and I cannot wait to read more Daisy Goodwin and continue on in the Throne of Glass series.

What I plan on finishing before the end of the month:

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I’ve already started Red Queen. I’m hoping to make good progress with it tonight and finish it tomorrow night. Then I want to get to Six of Crows. I’m hoping to at least start A Thousand Pieces of You before the months is over, but life and Netflix are unfortunately things that get in the way.

My ratings will come with my Wrap Up, which is soon. Really soon.

I really wanted to post this to see if anyone wants full reviews on any of these. Please let me know if you would like to know my thoughts on any of these. I’d prefer not to continue in Deadly Class, so I hope you don’t want that.

Comment if you’ve read these and what you thought!

~The Grisha Lieutenant

My First Book Signing | Meeting Victoria Schwab and Susan Dennard

That’s right guys. I got to meet my favorite author of all time, Victoria Schwab. I’m sure you’ve heard of her, how could you not? In case you’re not familiar with her literature. Here are a few:

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I only found out about the signing two days in advance. And was shocked, authors never come to Michigan. They just don’t. I scrambled to find someone to go with me and of course, neither of my book buddies were free. Rather than let my social anxiety take over, I went by myself. Upon arrival I found a seat beside two other girls who had also come alone. (You should follow Samantha) The three of us quickly decided our small group was now a ‘thing’.

There were nine authors in total. To be honest I had not heard of most of them. I shy away from really hardcore sci-fi books. You know the ones that never come out in hardback and are mass market sized? Not that I don’t think they could be good, I’m just stuck in my ways. Here’s a complete list of everyone: Susan Dennard, John Scalzi, Wesley Chu, Max Gladstone, Greg van Eekhout, Lawrence M. Shoen, Tom Doyle, Cherie Priest.

First they did a panel, which was how I actually came to really love Wesley Chu. They didn’t talk much before opening it to the floor for questions. Which I thought was pretty fantastic. Yes, I did ask one of the “speed round” questions. I asked Victoria what the most influential work of literature was for her. She answered with “Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things”. My heart soared. My two favorite authors are in fact Victoria Schwab and Neil Gaiman. She also caught me photostalking her.

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When I finally got up to the authors after we all waited in line, I got to talk to Wesley Chu and John Scalzi quite a bit. They were all extremely nice and friendly. Wesley Chu was especially hilarious. So much that both Samantha and I ran to the checkout after we got out of line for Susan and Victoria, bought his book and came running back just before he left.

Then I finally got up to Susan Dennard! She was more than happy to sign numerous things for me. Two books, a poster and a small little card. She wrote personal notes inside both the book for myself and the one for my best friend. We talked a little about loving and hating characters in her first series before I move out of the way and got in line for Victoria. She was so kind and patient. So down to earth. 10/10 would recommend meeting her if you can.

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After that I got back in line and rejoined my impromptu girls book club in line for Victoria. Let me tell you I was so nervous I thought I was going to puke. I had no idea what to say to her, or what to ask her. I ended up just blurting out things, I think. I mentioned that she was my favorite author of course, and that I loved her response to my question. Then I gave her anxiety because I asked her to sign the dust jacket cover of A Darker Shade of Magic. She was so polite and couldn’t be more delightful. She signed a book for my best friend as well, then took a photo with me. You know the people who say “Never meet your heroes”. They’ve never met their favorite author, I guarantee it. Please everyone, meet your literary heroes.

I had such an amazing experience. I hope everyone gets to meet their favorites. Thanks as always for reading.

~ The Grisha Lieutenant

Top Ten Tuesdays | 10 Books I’ve Added to my TBR

Late again. As always. Sorry guys. Right now I’m bingeing Season 10 of Supernatural so that I can get all caught up to the current episodes. So I completely forgot about my Tuesday posts. And everything. Because I’m a terrible person.

Most of these aren’t new releases, but i’ll start with the new ones. Most of them are just paperbacks that I either recently got or that have been sitting there for over a year.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Releases Feb 23rd)

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Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon

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Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

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Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

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Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

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Winger by Andrew Smith

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

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Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

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Comment if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them!

-The Grisha Lieutenant

Totally Should’ve Book Tag

I saw this on the wonderful Katytastic’s channel just today and thought it would be fun. Since I won’t be participating in this Wednesday’s Top 5, I chose this instead. So without further delay heeeeeeeeeeeeere we go.

1. A book that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE had a sequel

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I chose The Night Circus because I am NOT done with these characters. I love this book. I LOOVEEE it. But the ending did leave me a little unsatisfied (and a little confused at parts). I just felt there is so much more story in this universe that I want to discover and I am still not over it. But I read it for my very first book club book like three years ago.

2. A book/series that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE had a Spin-Off series

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*Slams fists on table* MARAUDERS. MARAUDERS.
I honestly tried to think of something else. But I’m pretty sure I would give part of my soul away if J.K Rowling would write Marauders books.

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3. An author who TOTALLY SHOULD write more books

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I chose Lev Grossman because I thought his writing was spectacular in The Magician’s Series and I want more. But I’d be curious to see how he’d do with different subject matter. I hope it stays within fantasy, but really, whatever he comes out with I will probably read.

4. A character who TOTALLY SHOULD’VE ended up with someone else

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I can’t say WHO I would have preferred Alina to end up with (because spoilers). But I totally DO NOT agree with who she ended up with. That was the only part of Ruin and Rising that made me so angry. Out of the many suitors, she ended up with the only one I didn’t want.

5. A book/series that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE ended differently

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Let me explain here. There was only ONE part that I liked about this ending. It was that Peeta and Katniss ended up together. (If you’re complaining about spoilers, you’ve had years, sue me) I hated that Prim died. I hated that nothing was REALLY wrapped up and that this book as a whole was a complete disappointment. (In my opinion. Sorry if you loved it)

6. A book/series that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE had a movie franchise

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Don’t care if it’s too early. I want the movie and I want it NOW.

7. A book/series that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE had a TV show

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I think we’re all 100% ready for this. Don’t deny it.

8. A book/series that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE only had one point of view

(I don’t really have an answer for this one. Hopefully you come up with something. Here’s a cute gif for your trouble.)
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9. A book/series that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE had a cover change.

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This was the first book that came to mind. I just hate this cover and have since I was a little kid. Stop smirking at me. It’s making me uncomfortable.

10. A book/series that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE kept the original covers

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I hate the new covers with a burning passion. These are beautiful. Leave them alone.

11. A series that TOTALLY SHOULD’VE stopped at book #1

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Going to agree with Katytastic again on this one. I couldn’t get through Insurgent. I haven’t even seen the movie. I loved the first book, then about halfway through the second I was just sort of done.

I’m tagging

 Kayleigh
Rowan
J from JBookish
Eve

Thanks for reading! Comment your thoughts!

~The Grisha Lieutenant

P.S. Let me know what you think of the new blog layout!

 

Top Ten Tuesdays | Books I didn’t get to in 2015

Creators of Top Ten Tuesdays

This list could be so much longer than ten books. I meant to read so much more last year and only managed just over 50 books. But that means I get to enjoy them this year, so it can’t really be that bad, can it?

Keep in mind not all of these came out in 2015.

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

With a username like TheGrishaLieutenant you’d think I’d have gotten my act together the second this book came out. But nope. It’s on my TBR for this month though! I’m trying!

The Diviners

The Diviners by Libba Bray

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

I read her Shiver series and liked some aspects of it. The writing especially. Now that so many people are talking about it, I really need to get on it.

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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Cruel Beauty by Rosmand Hodge

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Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

A historian writing a novel about Alexander the Great. Why have I not gotten to this?!?

Fallen Kingdoms Covers

Fallen Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

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The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

Let me know below if you’ve read any of these or any recommendations that you have!
Thanks for reading as always.

~The Grisha Lieutenant