January Wrap-Up | 2017

I am the worst book blogger in the entire universe. Seriously. I’ve had the worst reading slump ever and I’m trying so hard to break out of it, but I’m struggling. I only read two books in January and let me tell you, it sucks. We’ve all been there. I keep buying books, but I haven’t been reading them. I have issues, guys.

23299512
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
4.5/5 Stars

*Best book of the month*

It’s not that hard to pick a “best book of the month” when you only read two. But I’m giving it to this one anyways. I’ve come to expect a pretty high level of quality when it comes to Victoria Schwab since she is forever my favorite author, and this didn’t disappoint at all. The concept, the characters and the initial hook were all first class. The whole concept that when you commit an act of violence it creates an immediate physical consequence (a monster) is so beyond what a lot of other YA books would even dare to dream up. I only took off a half of a star because there were parts that I found tedious. I really loved reading about a pair of characters that had no romantic involvement with one another even though it could have so easily gone down that path. I’m very much looking forward to the sequel and conclusion of this series.
This Savage Song Goodread’s Page

 


51oiuodzdpl-_sx332_bo1204203200_
Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
3/5 Stars  2/5 Stars
*Audiobook & Montly Book Club Pick*

I think I was being a bit generous when I rated this now that I’m thinking back to it, because my recollections are not very positive. Before I started the audiobook, I tried reading this in it’s physical form. Instantly I was irritated because the book is written as if the protagonist is telling you a story. There are no quotations to indicate when dialogue begins and ends and the grammar is very peculiar to say the least. I knew I would struggle with it, so I bought it on audible, moved on from there. I thought maybe if the story was being read to me, then I would be okay with it. I was very wrong.
tumblr_ndaidwbepp1sxvzz9o2_250
I had so many issues with this book. It took me a month and a half to finish it. It’s a pretty decent sized book, but it should not have taken as long as it did. I was intrigued in the beginning with the start of this opera singer’s childhood and how she joined a circus. That was all pretty exciting and held my attention for about the first quarter of the book, but once you actually start to get in to the parts that actually involve opera, it gets extremely boring and tedious. There are several cases of insta-love with characters that are barely mentioned for more than two pages, a protagonist who clearly has never made an adult decision in her life and  decides to deal with everything by running away from it and then crying about it for almost an entire chapter. The protagonist literally ruins everyone’s life that she comes in contact with in one way or another, then pretends like she’s completely blameless. I seriously was begging for someone to murder her about halfway through the book.

Here’s my biggest gripe. I’m a huge fan of opera, an even bigger fan of historical fiction and am borderline obsessed with French history. This book should have blown me away. It left me so irritated that I probably would give this book away if the spine wasn’t ridiculously beautiful. Now that I’m thinking of it, I’m docking this book a star. Just typing about it is actually making me mad.
Queen of the Night Goodread’s Page


Let me know down below if you’ve read either of these and what you thought of them!
(No spoilers please)

October Wrap-Up | 2016

It was an okay month for me. I didn’t read nearly as much as I wanted to. I’ve been adjusting to my new schedule, getting in the the routine of my new job and having more trouble staying up passed ten or eleven at night. Adulting is hard, keeping up with reading is even harder.

220px-thewitchinghourcover
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
(Audiobook)

4.5/5 Stars

If you’re like me, and enjoy history almost as much as fictional narratives, then this books is definitely for you. I won’t lie, it’s a big commitment even for the most ambitious readers. It’s over a thousand pages in print and 50 hours on audiobook. I took my time with it and I think that’s what made me love it so much. It chronicles the family line of our main character through hundreds of years of magic and scandal. Anne Rice has a real talent for writing deeply flawed characters that you still love unconditionally. And let me tell you, the flaws they have are pretty hard to get over. Some of course, more than others. And of course, in true Anne Rice fashion, both the family history and the two main characters meet perfectly at the end leaving you ready for more. My only criticism was that it took so long to finish this audiobook that towards the end I felt a lot of the content in the last three or four hours was a bit unnecessary.  

28962906
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
4.5/5 Stars
** Favorite Book of the Month**

This was an excellent spooky October read. It had a perfect balance of history, early forensic medicine and narrative. I really enjoyed the main character, especially her cleverness, bravery and intellect. I loved how she actually questioned everyone around her, even those closest to her. I guessed the culprit about midway through the book, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment of watching the story unwind.It was the motive that was a surprise to me and it brought a whole other element to the book.

51txqrgobyl-_sx329_bo1204203200_
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by Various Authors (Selected by April Genevieve Tucholke)
Monthly Book Club Selection
5/5 Stars

This was my perfect rating book this month. I read one every few nights throughout the month and that ended up being a perfect speed to fully enjoy each story as it’s own. Of course, there were a few I hold in higher regard than others, but only one ended up boring me so much that I didn’t even finish it. A few of them surprised me with how scary they were, especially the second story in the anthology based on Alice in Wonderland. But my favorite by far was Sleepless by Jay Kristoff. No surprise there. Even though Halloween is passed, consider giving this one a read for those cold nights.

Currently Reading:
51hguevaayl

Let me know down below what your favorite book was this month or if you read any of the ones I mentioned!

~The Grisha Lieutenant

 

 

September Wrap-Up and Reading Update 2016

23507745
*MONTHLY BOOKCLUB PICK*
Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatti
3/5 Stars

I didn’t necessarily love this book, but I didn’t really hate it either. It certainly had a creepy feel to it and had a very dark and mysterious story. But for some reason I just got irritated with it at certain points. Yes, it was a middle grade book. But even for a middle grade I found the “big reveals” at the end to be far too obvious and felt like parts of it were entirely unnecessary. Her country accent sort of got to me by the end of the book. There were also parts that I enjoyed too though, mostly that our heroine wasn’t the “naturally clever bookworm from a middle class family”. She was a lower class girl with little to no education. That was certainly different, especially in a setting that oozed wealth and excess. The writing was quite good, but in the end I don’t think it interested me enough for me to continue with the series. 

1168191
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
4/5 Stars

This was one of those books I kept beside my bed and would read little by little before I went to sleep. The book consists of bits of wisdom and advice from Marcus Aurelius taken from letters and speeches. For those not familiar, he was one of the great Roman Emperor’s widely revered for his wisdom and goodness. As a scholar of history, I found it endlessly fascinating that all of wisdom and observations still hold up to this day.

79329_original
Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J Maas
5/5 Stars

As always, I enjoyed this book immensely. It opened up whole new horizons in the story line and even had me loving a character I was previously ambivalent about. I’m of course talking about Manon. I previously tolerated her chapters, but in this one I really looked forward to them. But I still enjoyed every moment of Celaena vs. (enter male character) banter and the nail biting action. The downside is, as much as I really love the TOG books, it always takes me FOREVER to read them. I can’t seem to just sit down and read them within a few days. It takes me at least two weeks per book in the series. 

llwdacohmndlqsifnpvw
*FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH*
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
3.5/5 Stars

This was another recommendation from Regan over at Peruseproject on Youtube. This was the optional bookclub book (We choose two a month. One mandatory, one optional). I was pretty pumped going in to it. The writing was the star of this book. It was descriptive and interesting without being overly pretentious. Harry August was an incredibly dynamic character that very visibly grows as a person as he dies and is reborn again repeatedly, each time learning from the previous life. What’s really cool about this story is that each life is drastically different from the last. The downside was that this book was pretty heavy on physics. You can follow it pretty easily, but I felt it really took away from the story as a whole and had me incredibly uninterested at times. The book also took me about two weeks to read because every time the scientific verbal frenzies took the main focus of the story, I found reasons to get distracted and not read it. I was instantly interested at the start, it lagged in the middle, but the end was ultimately intriguing and very satisfying. If you don’t mind some science heavy language, I’d recommend picking this one up. 

Currently Reading

51txqrgobyl-_sx329_bo1204203200_          28962906

Have you read any of the books I mentioned or am currently reading? Let me know what you thought of them below! What was your favorite book of the month? Let me know! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that made you want to learn more.

As usual, these are in no particular order!

22608277

This book made me want to learn more about the courtesan’s who lived during the Belle Epoque in Paris, as well as the culture of the artists in Paris. It really made me want to visit La Louvre with it’s numerous mentions of various famous works of art. 

9999107

I’ve always been pretty fascinated by pre-WWI England. Especially after binge watching Downton Abbey numerous times (I can’t help myself, I love it so much). This was admittedly picked up so I could try and fill the void Downton Abbey left in my heart. The premise of the “old ways” of the wealthy dying out has become something of a curiosity as both a historian and a reader. 

Menagerie

Even though this is a fantasy book, it made me curious about both the culture and history of American carnivals/menageries. 

815D5sneiNL._SL1500_   Clockwork Princess

I clumped these two together because they both sparked my interest in the Victorian era. It wasn’t really an era I was interested in until I read The Night Circus, then it was renewed again in Clockwork Princess. I was really curious about their manner of speaking and the fashion. Now I’ve been inspired to write my own novel taking place in the era. 

13000748

I’ve always loved the era of the 1920’s, but this really sparked an interest in the world of Illusion and magic during the era. Harry Houdini is one of the characters in the novel and it made me want to know more about his life. 

Comment below and let me know if you’ve read any of the ones I’ve listed or if you have any recommendations based on them! 

~The Grisha Lieutenant

The Grisha Lieutenant Recommends | Adult Fantasy

magicians-trilogy

The Magician’s Series by Lev Grossman
My Rating: 
4.25/5 Stars

Usually I recommend YA books. I just want to point out right now that this is not a Young Adult series. There are very adult themes in this series which include but are not limited to: sex, drugs, violence. The TV series starts at the end of January on Sci-Fi. So if you’re looking for a short series to binge before the show premiers, this is the series for you!
Trigger Warning for Sexual Violence. (Takes place in The Magician King)

Spoiler-Free!

Things I Loved:

  • A New Experience in a Familiar Setting: I felt like while reading this that I was very much in my safe little comfort zone of the magic school trope, but at the same time this was more unique. Of course when you think of the magic school trope, you think of Hogwarts and of course, Harry Potter. But the magic academy, Brakebills, is something entirely different. I kind of thought of it as more of a magical college. I always wondered what happened behind closed doors at Hogwarts. You knew there had to be some drinking and sexual activities going on. I feel like this series had exactly what I needed in terms of vicariously experiencing a magical school at my current age.
  • Unique Magic System: The magic system in this series is so much more complex than most. In a lot of fantasy, the witch or wizard simply says a word in Latin and points their wand. This isn’t the case in this world. In the first book we see the students having to learn several languages from several cultures, learning intricate hand gestures and having to account for the oddest things when casting a spell. I really liked this because it didn’t have the trope of “the chosen one”. It wasn’t enough to be born with magic in this world, you had to study it in depth and getting there with the characters was enjoyable.
  • Extremely Flawed Characters: I felt like all of the characters in this story had something that I loved about them and something that I really hated about them. There wasn’t that ONE character that I picked out as infallible. I had favorites, but they weren’t on any sort of basis of perfection or purity. At one point or another I wanted to scream at every one of the main characters.
  • The Universal theme of Fandom: Quentin Coldwater, our protagonist, is completely obsessed with a series of books very similar to the Narnia books about a magical land called Fillory. The books are something he always keeps in his mind and his heart. Especially in the second and third installments. I just felt closer to Quentin because of his love of a book series. I often found myself bonding more with him because of his love for a series. Let’s be real, all of us readers have that ONE series that nearly defines us. In this series, it’s a good thing that he’s so obsessed with a fantasy world because it ends up helping him on his journey.
  • Original Mythology: A big part of the world he builds is the mythology behind it. I can’t say where it takes a big role because that’d be a spoiler, but I can say it had to have taken a lot of thought to come up with and execute.
  • Satisfying Ending: I cannot praise the ending enough. Everything that needed to be wrapped up was. There were no lose ends (that I could think of) and the ending was realistic within the context of the story.

Criticisms:

  • World Building: I will be the first to admit that the first book has an overwhelming amount of world building. If you’re not used to fantasy books that spend an enormous amount of time and detail in to their magic systems and worlds, this may not be the series for you. I personally got annoyed in the first book, and found myself very anxious for some action to happen.
  • Overused Tropes: There were a lot of tropes used throughout the series. The Magic School, The Heist, The Rebel, etc. There are several tropes that do pop up, but in it’s defense I thought that Grossman executed them extremely well. A lot of people disagree.
  • Predictability: A lot of the time (especially during the more exciting parts) I could guess what was going to happen. This is, however, limited to the third book more than the others. I found the first pretty unpredictable, the second only slightly, then the third I pretty much guessed what was going to happen. Maybe I’ve read too much fantasy? But I can say I wasn’t disappointed in about 85% of the events.

Let me know if you’ve read this series and what your thoughts are in the comments! If you have a series to recommend, always feel free!

~The Grisha Lieutenant

 

The Grisha Lieutenant Recommends | Contemporary

That’s right. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. I’m recommending a contemporary! Granted, I literally just finished it about ten minutes ago. It’s 4:20AM. I read this book within 12 hours with only a few short breaks. That should tell you something by itself. I can’t even remember the last time I did that!

So what is this mystery contemporary? (If you saw my TBR earlier, then you’ve spoiled yourself. Don’t blame me. I’m not as sneaky as I think)

23492282

My Rating4/5 Stars

No, I didn’t give it a perfect 5 star rating, but you know what? That’s okay. I really did enjoy so many aspects of this book while I was reading it. To be honest, I don’t think I have rated any contemporaries outside of Looking for Alaska with a perfect rating.

Things I loved:

  • The “Unraveling Secret” Plot: I will be the first to admit that sometimes this gets old, but in this case the slow progression of finding out bits and pieces of the mystery that was our protagonists’s life was well worth the wait. I honestly did not guess the big reveal at all. When I think back, I realize that there were very obvious hints towards it, but I was enjoying the book so much I wasn’t thinking about it very carefully.
  • Realistic Portrayal of Characters: Our main characters are seventeen and eighteen. They’re young, naive and at times make stupid decisions. But in a lot of contemporary books involving late teenagers their decisions are so stupid that you want to scream at them. From their thoughts to their communication with one another it was all very realistic and not over-dramatized. I didn’t have the “eye roll reaction” that I have to most teenagers in books that make me question being too old for YA.
  • Satisfying Ending: At the end of the story I was left with a warm feeling of satisfaction. Some parts of it were pretty heartbreaking, but I don’t feel lost in a hangover from being overly emotional about the characters or where it left off. I’ll be the first to admit I often get lost in stories and get overly attached, it was nice for that not to happen for once and just be okay with where it ended. Even a bit giddy and happy with all the fluffiness that was filling up inside of me.

    tumblr_inline_ntbdgkMTsG1sfqiy7_500

Things I Didn’t Love: 

  • Unrealistic Events: I found some of the events that transpired to be a bit too much “like fiction”. Towards the end I found myself shaking my head and thinking that these events would only take place in fiction. It sort of knocked me out of the book a little.
  • Too Much Focus on Romantic Plot: Yes, the romance in the story was very adorable and fuzzy and made me smile a lot. But I wanted to know more about the motorcycle club’s dynamic and the people involved. They all seemed to be there just for the setting of the story rather than to be actual characters in the story itself.

This book is perfect for: Those Saturday nights when you don’t have any obligations. When you’re either in the middle of a series or you just finished one. This is a perfect example of a pick me up book. It’s light reading, it’s fluffy and enjoyable.

Hope this is helpful for your next weekend off! Comment if you’ve read this or it’s on your shelf.

May you read with the force of a thousand suns.

~The Grisha Lieutenant

September Wrap Up!

This month wasn’t spectacular for me in terms of reading. I work a lot and tend to binge watch TV shows when I get home after a long day. I’ve decided to commit to reading at least one hour a day and maybe that will help me out. If you have any tips on how I can get more reading time or motivate myself to do so, please leave them in the comments!

I only read four books this month unfortunately. It was overall an okay month, but I’m hoping to double that number this month!

Clockwork Princess

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare: 5/5 Stars

This is my favorite of the month. I have never had a book finish this perfectly in my life. Not even Harry Potter. This was my perfect ending book. I felt so many things going through this book I thought my heart was going to burst. Cassandra Clare is seriously the queen of urban fantasy. No one comes before her in my mind. When I finished it I just wanted to get up and start jumping around like a mad woman.

tumblr_inline_nmgu75cDEI1qgfq5s_500

Tiger Lily Cover

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson: 2.5/5 Stars

I was greatly disappointed in this book. I expected more from it, but ended up unsatisfied. Full spoiler-free review linked below.
Tiger Lily Review

51XfbTo2iOL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day: 5/5 Stars (Audiobook)

I absolutely loved this memoir! I love Felicia Day so much and this just made me love her even more. The audio book was narrated by her and that just added to the experience. She was honest, funny and unapologetic about everything. The whole time I just wanted to talk back to the audio book and tell her she’s amazing.

512CO-MfFYL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (Remnant Chronicles #2): 3/5 Stars

Here was another one I was sadly disappointed in. I really loved the first one and thought it was really exciting and fun. But then this one just sort of fell flat on me. I got halfway through and just started losing interest in the story. I don’t think I honestly paid enough attention to the mythological side of the story and ended up confused about it. Soon I just sort of stopped caring about the characters and then just found the ending VERY predictable. I’ll still read the next installment, I just don’t think I’ll be running to the bookstore to buy it.

15479659

Leave any thoughts or comments below. ❤