June 2015 TBR

June 2015 tbr

First, let me say that I am back from a fairly long hiatus.  Between work, school, roommate drama, and Netflix I have been a little unmotivated to keep up with a blog.  But with school ending I have a little more time and I’d like to get back into this blogging thing.

June will be very simple.  I just have to read the books pictured.  I’m not going to set any other goals because I fear I’m out of practice with even reading let alone reviewing.  I’m currently 14 books behind schedule according to Goodreads.  Let’s see if I can catch up!

February Wrap Up 2015

First, I’m proud to finally say I met most of my reading goals for the month.  I did however deviate quite a bit from my TBR pile and ended up reading quite a few other books instead.  This was mostly because school took up more of my time than I had anticipated and I am pretty terrible at sticking to TBR piles.

51NM1oLX7CL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Author: Gregory Maguire

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

I started this book almost two months ago and kept putting it down to pick up something else.  It wasn’t really bad but it did seem to drag on in spots.  I lost interest and had to struggle through the second half.  After finishing it, I can’t say I was terribly moved by any part of it.  Definitely one of those books that I consider to be over-hyped.  I liked the idea behind the book but the actual writing style and plot didn’t speak to me.

City_of_AshesTitle: City of Ashes

Author: Cassandra Clare

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

This was my second reading of this book and honestly, I don’t even like this series.  I’m re-reading it as a refresher before I tackle City of Heavenly Fire.  Reading this book reminded me how much I am out-growing YA.  I find the narrator annoying, the plot predictable, and the dialogue unamusing.  I would have really loved these books five years ago so I won’t trash it too much but this will likely be my last reading of this series.

1155613845Title: Phèdre

Author: Jean Racine

Rating: 3/5 stars

I read this play in English for my literature class.  I generally shy away from plays due to some poor high school experiences.  I was however pretty pleased with this one.  It didn’t drag and despite the archaic language it was understandable.  I’m really glad that this was a required reading because I would never have read it otherwise.  I can’t say it’s a favourite and Phaedra made me want to strangle her (I think that may be the point) but I did get some enjoyment out of it.

41bmNxoM4rL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Life of St. Gemma Galgani

Author: Venerable Fr. Germanus, C.P.

Rating: 5/5

To put it simply, I loved this book.  I picked it up thinking it was going to be a long and dull read but hoping I would at least learn something.  I was surprised to find it a very easy read that kept me interested the whole time.  This book was a perfect way to start Lent and was really inspirational.

517X4Z0CKALTitle: Faust

Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Rating: 1.5/5

Here we have another reading assignment for World Literature.  I can say that I really hated this work.  It’s rather disappointing because I am a huge fan of The Sorrows of Young Werther by the same author.  But, I found Faust to be too long, boring, hard to follow, and just not worth the time it took to read.

Reading Books I Hate

It’s no secret among my friends and family that I will read pretty much anything.  I will pick up books, even buy books, that I know are not something I will enjoy and proceed to read them just to then complain about them for no fewer than 3 days.  Why do I do this?  I few reasons:

1. Justifying my hate.  If I’m going to hate something I want to be able to outline why I hate it.  For example, I’m no fan of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.  Did I read all 6 books and then re-read them to refresh my memory?  You bet.  I can’t justify saying I hate a book or a writing style unless I’ve given it a fair chance and actually read it.  Sure, I waste a lot of time, money, and energy on books that in the end leave me frustrated.  But, no one can tell me I didn’t give it a chance.

2. I am dragged in by the hype.  I’ll admit it.  I often read books because they’re popular no matter how much I know they won’t be my cup of tea.  Part of me believes that if I read it I will somehow better understand why half the world has decided this is the book of the year.  The other part of me hates not being able to participate in a good book discussion so I read the book I don’t like just so I’ll have people to talk to about it.  I have no friends.

3. I try to value everyone’s writing equally.  I really don’t like judging a book based on genre or synopsis.  I try to give every book a chance to surprise me.  Does it work?  Usually not but it has happened and those books give me just the littlest bit of hope for the others.  My worst writing related fear is that one day I will write something I think is brilliant and someone will tell me it’s terrible without even reading the first page.  This is why I don’t write novels.  I can’t bring myself to do that to anyone else.  So I read on.

4. I get bored.  Sometimes I’ve run out of books to read and reliable recommendations and I start buying books based on nothing more than whims.  I end up with shelves and shelves of books I either haven’t read, don’t want to read, or after having read them can’t stand.  This is my greatest downfall.  Once I own the book, I have to read it, right?  Otherwise it would be a waste.  So I do, I complain, I repeat the process.

None of this is to say I don’t read good books.  I do, really.  There are a whole lot of books I have read and loved and would read again if I didn’t have such a large TBR pile.  But, I also read books I don’t like.  Are they “bad” books?  I don’t think so.  I firmly believe that books being good or bad is all a matter of opinion.  I don’t like certain genres and styles but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people who do.  A good book is a book that makes you happy or sad or plagues your thoughts for days after.  It inspires you, excites you, or makes you look at something in a different way.  If we catered books to white 22-year-old girls we would have a huge problem with literacy rates because most people wouldn’t like reading.  We need corny teen romance novels.  We need erotica.  We need books targeting racial and religious minorites.  Books are what we make them and I am not going to tell someone their favourite book is bad just because I didn’t relate to it.

February Reading Goals

So I have been slacking when it comes to reading, writing, reviews, etc.  So badly in fact that I have been reading the same book for the past 3 weeks and I’m only half through.  I can come up with excuses, most being related to universities and professors asking for 5 page papers 2 weeks into the semester, but I will save everyone the time reading my rants.  In all honesty, I have been procrastinating a lot and having set the goal of reading 1 book per week this year I am in need of some serious help.  Therefore, I’m setting some goals for February.  Having dropped my Chinese class, I am out of reasons not to do all of these things.  With any luck, posting them publicly will give me some motivation.

  • Finish the 2 books I’m reading.  They both suck.
  • Read another 3 books
  • Read something from the classics pile
  • Write at least 2 reviews

Half Bad

Half_Bad_book_coverRating: 3.4/5
Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green

    Nathan lives is a world ruled by black and white.  White witches have ruthlessly hunted the blacks into near extiction for years.  But Nathan is half and half and his father, Marcus, the most powerful black witch of the time.  As the counsel of white witches issues decree after decree gradually limiting his movements and contact with others, Nathan soon finds himself ripped from his family, locked in a cage, beaten, and trained to kill his father or face death himself.  But when witches turn seventeen they must receive three gifts from an ancestor and Nathan soon sees that the only way to receive his gifts and escape certain death is to find his father and convince him to give him his gifts.  With no place safe and his every movement being tracked by witch hunters, Nathan must find Marcus before its too late.
I don’t usually talk much about book covers but I would like to draw everyone’s attention to this one.  I have to admit it played and role in my deciding to read this book.  It’s unique, eye-catching, and generally just really cool to look at.  If only we could judge books by their covers.
I’d like to begin this review by saying this isn’t a bad book.  I actually really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the sequel this year.  Still, I probably have more complaints than positive comments.  My first disappointment came rather early when the book began changing between a first and second person narrative for seemingly no reason.  I rather liked that it started off in second person and was expecting it to continue this way.  Then, it fell into first person and then went back to second for a chapter, back to first – ugh.  If it had seemed to be consistent in when and why it changed I could have gotten behind this feature.  But it was chaotic and distracting.
My second problem was worldbuilding.  There wasn’t much.  This is one thing I’m hoping will improve with the sequel as I spent 400 pages rather confused about what kind of world this was and what was going on in relation to the rest of the world.  Are the non-magical people aware that witches exist?  Are there different governing bodies for these different areas?  How does magic work and are there laws about how and when it can be used?  These are just some of the many questions I wish someone would have thought to ask Sally Green before she finished writing this book.  I would have been more than willing to read another 100 pages for these questions to be answered.  It felt like there were some attempts made but it was a sentence here or there that seemed awkwardly placed and vague.
Last complaint, the plot.  The plot wasn’t so much the problem as word count management.  The author spent so much time developing characters and explaining details of everyday life that some of the bigger picture was missed and few things actually happened to move the story forward.  I found myself half way through the book and being able to sum it up in two sentences.  While it picked up towards the end, it was disappointing.  I’m hoping there will be more action in the coming books because while I wasn’t ever bored, I wanted more.
Finally, we can talk about the good things.  First, the characters.  They were varied and character development wasn’t bad.  While sometimes characters made stupid decisions you could easily see why and sympathize.  You saw compassion and depth in strange places and came to care about what happened to everyone.  The book ended without me really hating any of the characters so I consider that a success.
I also really liked the writing style.  I’ve seen a lot of people complain about this but for me the jumping around between scenes was done pretty well and I didn’t feel confused at all.  I liked feeling like I was observing a collections of major events rather than wasting time with filler.  I would read more books written this way as long as they remained consistent (something this book struggled to do).
Overall, pretty average book but I don’t regret reading it.  It wasn’t terribly impressive but I consider it a good start to a series that I’m hoping will get better with time.