Reading Challenge Update: Jan&Feb

Finally, here is an update for you guys about my reading challenges! As you know I took on quite a few this year so lets see how Im doing so far… (click on the challenge title to se what books I read for each one)

  • Goodreads Challenge of 55 Books24% OR 13/55
    Currently I’m at 13 books, so 5 ahead of schedule!
  • #RockmyTBR – Books I owned as of Jan 1 2016: 3% OR 1/35
    I thought I was doing really well on this one but when I looked back I have only one read 1 book towards this challenge! How? The other 13 books I read were all library books and a few new releases I ordered last year. I am really going to have to step it up in March!
  • Backlist Books – Books published in 2014 or earlier: 45% OR 7/16
    So far I have read 8 books towards my goal! I’m half way guys! However, part of the challenge is to review them… and so far I have only reviewed two with another on the way.
  • Finishing The Series Goal of finishing 6 series: 0% OR 0/7
    Why did I even sign up for this? I am so bad at finishing series! I am very sad to say I haven’t finished a single one. I read a sequel though! LOL Hopefully this changes in the months to come.
  • Flights of Fantasy Goal to read 16 Fantasy books: 31% OR 5/16
    As unlikely as I am to not finish 7 series I am likely to achieve this goal and greatly surpass it! I might have to up my goal number.
  • Around The World In 52 Books: 15% OR 8/52
    So far I have read 8 Books for this challenge so I am right on track! The topics I completed are..
    12. A childhood classic Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
    29. A book by an author who writes under more than one name The Seventh Bride by Ursula Vernon / T Kingfisher
    35. An award winning book Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
    36. An identity book – a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation The Abyss Surround Us by Emily Skrutskie
    37. A book that you’ve seen the movie of but haven’t read Matilda by Roald Dahl
    39. A previous suggestion that did not make it into the list – A graphic novel that everyone is talking about Rat Queens by Kurtis J Wiebe
    45. A book related to a hobby or passion you have Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
    52. A book published in 2016 Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

So I’m not doing to bad over all, I just need to work on reading more books I own and finishing some series. I have four buddy reads planned for March and I own all of them so that will quickly change things.
How are you doing on your reading challenges this year? Whats the best book you’ve read so far in 2016?

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Dear #otspsecretsister – Feb 27th

Dear secret sister,

Since I cannot send you a return letter I thought I would write you a letter on my blog. I know that you are stalking reading my blog posts, so I hope you see this.

I cannot thank you enough for your ‘Hello’ package. The card was the best part. I could tell how much time you have spent getting to know me and everything you said I really needed to hear. I am a single mum and I certainly try to be an awesome one, but we all make mistakes, and I can be hard on myself. I am so proud that you like my blog (it is still so new and I am a little insecure about it) and to know it inspired you is pretty special. It is my creative outlet and, along with reading, it is the ‘me’ time I enjoy when my son has gone to bed. That is why my Youtube channel has recently been so inactive. It is so hard to find the time, when there is good light, and I know I won’t be interrupted. Where as I can walk away from a blog post and easily come back to it later. Or write it late at night. I have always been more of a writer than a talker and I am really considering not making anymore videos. It is too stressful for me, but I also don’t want to be a quitter…

In response to your very first question my month is going well. My son is sleeping so much better these days, which is a relief, I was quite sleep deprived for a while. The sun has shown itself a lot lately and we are enjoying the opportunity to get out and walk with our dog. I just finished a great book! The Abyss Surround Us by Emily Skrutskie. I only finished it just now before this post so I am still processing but it was really good. Action-packed, with some romance and some sea monsters. What more could you ask for? I haven’t read as much as I’d like this month, although what I did read was amazing, and as a result my March TBR is huge! My intention was to use a TBR jar this year to make things more sporadic and less planned. However that hasn’t happened yet. Lol. Best laid plans and all that.

I do hope that by ‘crazy’ you mean a good kind of crazy? Will spring bring a slower pace for you? We are both Hufflepuffs?! That is awesome, I have this feeling that getting to know each other is going to be fun and it is going to lead to a great friendship. Is this your first time as an #otspsecretsister? What are you reading currently? Have you read either of the books you sent me?

Thank you, by the way, for the books and other items in the package. I love them! Did you know I have never even seen an ARC? So, it was pretty neat of you to send me one. I guess that answers one of my previous questions, duh, you have obviously read The Love That Split The World. I can’t wait to share our thoughts once I have read it! And I can’t wait to read Fangirl either, although I think that will have to wait till April due to my leaning tower of TBR at the moment.

I think that’s it for now sister, although I know I have so many more questions for you! There is plenty of time.

Thank you so much again, I am so glad to have you as a secret sister.
Hope you are well and have a great week!

Your sister,

Jessica

 

 

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication Date: September 29th 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Purchased copy from Amazon
Link to the author: http://www.leighbardugo.com/index1.html

Click here for the Goodreads Summary

Rating:
5 out of 5 stars23437156

Buzz Words:
Heist, Theif, Wraith, Magic, Revenge

Favourite Quote:
SO MANY!

“Better terrible truths, than kind lies” – Inej

“I wouldn’t trust you to tie my shoes without stealing the laces, Kaz.” – Nina

“He needed to tell her…what? That she was lovely and brave and better than anything he deserved. That he was twisted, crooked, wrong, but not so broken that he couldn’t pull himself together into some semblance of a man for her. That without meaning to, he’d begun to lean on her, to look for her, to need her near. He needed to thank her for his new hat.” – Kaz

My thoughts:
Where do I even begin? I’m just going to say in advance, that this is not going to be an intellectual review but more like all the reasons you MUST READ this book. I was excited to read Six of Crows because I already loved Leigh Bardugo’s other books but the hype had me worried, but let me tell you, this book exceeded the hype. This book made me laugh, a lot, it made me cry, my heart raced, and I often caught myself holding my breath – It was a hell of a ride!

When you want to free a scientist, one who has created a drug that could plunge the world into chaos, out of a maximum security prison, who do you call? Kaz Brekker, a brilliant schemer and the slums top player. Inej, once an acrobat and now a swift death you never see coming. Mattias, a patriotic and pissed off witch hunter. Nina, a sassy heartrenderer looking for forgiveness. Jesper, a man with quick wit and a quicker trigger finger. And Wylan, a runaway full of surprises. Together they try to pull off the heist of a lifetime.

I feel like Bardugo must have been a gangster in a previous life because she wrote about the gang and the slums so so well. The characters, the behaviors, the atmosphere it was all amazing and consistent. When an author writes like that everything on the page just comes alive, for me it was like being right there in Ketterdam. And I loved Ketterdam, I loved everything about this expansion on the grishaverse. The story is told in a multiple point of view format and that isn’t always a good thing in my experience but again Barudgo did it perfectly. I thought six characters was a lot, that only one or two would be complex and leave an impression on me. Boy was I wrong. Without any one of them this would not have been the same story. This band of misfits were so endearing to me, I loved them all. They all had so much baggage, and rich back stories. I often found myself reading a line and thinking “Yup, that’s something (Mattias) would do” Bardugo knew her characters so well that every action rang true to their nature. Her writing just blew me away and each chapter she did it over again! And the banter between the characters constantly had me laughing, the wit and sarcasm was right up my alley. Needless to say for me, this was a very character driven story, but the other dynamics of this book weren’t weak by any means. It was action packed, captivating and intense. From page one I was hooked, and the story never let me go!  The plot wasn’t too fast or too slow for my taste and I loved the twists at every other turn of the page. I can’t stand a predictable book. Can we talk about the romance for a minute? Okay, yes it was a little unrealistic that all the characters would pair up but who cares? I loved all the relationships in Six of Crows. The chemistry between Mattias and Nina especially. Their story was just so beautiful and heartbreaking it was like a Romeo and Juliet but with a second chance. A  part of me is scared to read the second book because I know one of the couples must end up unhappy and I want them all to be together! Speaking of the second book -I certainly didn’t see that ending coming. Of course I knew there had to be something big at the end to leave me fiending for the next book but I didn’t predict that particular outcome. However, I have no complaints except that I NEED CROOKED KINGDOMS. This book was everything I hoped for and so much more.

If you are still doubting how good this book is, know that I rarely ever re-read a book and I would re-read this again right now. I will re-read it before Crooked Kingdoms and I think I will be re-reading it for years to come.

What I liked:
Everything! Mostly the characters and their chemistry, it was incredible. They had flaws, quirks, baggage and scars. I will never forget these characters, I feel like I know them and have hung out with them. And the banter between them was just flawlessly human.

What I disliked:
Um… that Crooked Kingdoms isn’t in my hands now? That it is only a duology? That I can’t go back and read Six of Crows for the first time again?

Would Recommend To:
This book is like Oceans Eleven meets Gangs of Newyork meets Mistborn. So If you enjoyed any of those, Bardugo’s Grisha series or books about heists this book is for you.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Outside My Comfort Zone

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week there is a new bookish topic. For more details, and to participate, click the link above.

 

Books Outside My COMFORT ZONE

I was really excited for this topic because reading outside my comfort zone is a goal of mine this year! However, as we are only two months into the year I haven’t read a lot of books yet. So, the first five books are outside my comfort zone that I have already read and the last five are ones I have yet to read this year.

Read

  • Rat Queens by Kurtis Wiebe (4 Stars)
    I had never read a graphic novel before so this was definitely out side of my comfort zone but I’m so glad I tried it.
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl (3 Stars)6327266
    I rarely EVER read the book after I have seen the movie, I know whats going to happen and I have a hard time becoming invested in the story.
  • Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery
    (5 Stars)
    I read predominantly YA fantasy so Anne of Green Gables has never been on my radar. For one of my reading challenges this year I had to read a children classic and for some reason this book popped into my head.And I LOVED it!
  • Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
    (4 Stars)
    I don’t read contemporary as a rule but thankfully this was recommended to me by some wonderful people and I didn’t let this one pass me by.
  • The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher (3  Stars)
    Retellings. What can I say? I so rarely enjoy them and this one was very strange, I hope the other retellings on my list I enjoy more than this one.

To-Read

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
    Here is another contemporary that I have heard nothing but praise for and after one pleasant experience with contemporary this year, I’m ready for another!
  • Angelfall by Susan Ee15863832
    If I read a summary and it has anything to do with angels I won’t read the book. However, this was recommended to my by my friend Jen and she has amazing taste in books so I have high hopes for this series!
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    This falls into the category of a classic under 200 pages for one of my reading challenges. I have heard mixed things about the book and I tend to avoid classics. Why? I’m not really sure. I think I’m worried I won’t like them and feel like I should because they are classic?
  • The Search for Wondla by Toni DiTerlizzi
    Not for any particular reason but I don’t read any middle grade. This book though was praised by Regan on Booktube so I have to give it a try. You should also check out her channel she’s lovely.
  • We Were Liars by E Lockhart
    Not only is this contemporary but it is written in prose. Two things I tend to avoid. So here’s to trying things doubly outside out comfort zone!

Okay, now I want to hear from you guys! What kinds of genres/topics/covers do you tend to avoid? What is outside your comfort zone? And if you read them anyway, were you glad you did? I want to know!

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 5th 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Pre-ordered copy from Indigo
Link to the author: http://susandennard.com/

Click Here For The Goodreads Summary

Rating:
4.5 Seafoxs Out Of 521414439

Buzz Words:
Pirates, Magic, Steamy Romance, Struggle Between Empires, Friendship

Favourite Quotes:
“It wasn’t freedom she wanted. It was a belief in something – a prize big enough to run for and to fight for and to keep on reaching toward no matter what. She had a prize now. She ran for Nubrevna. She ran for Merik. She ran for Iseult. She ran for Kullen and Ryber and Mathew and Habim. and above all, she ran forherself.” Safiya, Page 394

My thoughts:
I didnt realize how much I needed this story, so firstly I want to say thank you Susan Dennard. Other stories have friendships in them, but often the girls are rivals and the main character faces the danger alone. It is so refreshing to read about a strong female friendship, and on top of that there is also an amazing male friendship in this story! I’m telling you this book HAS IT ALL.
Safiya is a confident and sassy domna and truthwitch, a witch that can tell when things are true or false. Isuelt is a threadwitch, who can see the ties that bind people together, all she wants in life is freedom. Iseult is the calm to Safiya’s storm. Merrik is the prince of Nubrevna, he is trying to save his people and isn’t interested in the troubles of a domna. Fate however, has other plans.
This story is full of laughter inducing banter between Dennard’s characters. I really love a story that can make me laugh. All of the characters are driven by different motives and I enjoyed watching them intertwine and cross each other. The magic system is complex, solid and fascinating. It is also still some what of a mystery to the reader as well as to the characters, and I love that! There is so much possibility in the future books for me to speculate about. I hate a predictable book and I never knew what was coming in Truthwitch. And the seafoxs! I can’t remember the last time I read a fantasy with a completely new-to-me fantasy creature. That is always a win in my book. Susan Dennard is truly a fresh creative mind. The adventure and the fight scenes were so descriptive and gripping. Oh and the romance! Wow! The dance between Merik and Safiya? That was one hell of a steamy scene, and thats when I became reallyenchanted by the writing. The chemistry felt so real, so palpable. I swear my heart rated kicked up a few notches just reading it. The tension between the two throughout the book was on point in my opinion, it always seemed very in character for both of them. I often feel in other YA that the main character is this strong independent woman who becomes someone else entirely around her love interest, but not this time! Also, my standard for romantic meet cute is now absurdly high. As for Iselt’s love life, please tell me her and Aeduan are an item later on? Speaking of Aeduan, I know he is the ‘bad guy’ but I think he is my favourite character. He was so interesting and internally conflicted at the end. I really feel he will be developed much more in the next book and we will get to see that there is much more to this bloodwitch. I really cannot wait for the next book, it is on the top of my 2017 anticipation list already. This story was expertly weaved and I highly recommend it, I’m only sorry I hadn’t read Susan Dennard’s work sooner.

What I liked:
The map and the cover and GORGEOUS
The colorful language in this book is so good! Page has a particularly favourite curse of mine, ‘Goat tits!’ I love when an author is creative not just with the world building, the characters names but with something humorous too.

What I disliked:
The beginning was the only part of the story that was rocky for me. It felt hard to get into for the first hundred pages or so, until the dance scene. There were a lot of names, terms, titles, at the start and I felt a little lost and backward at first.

Would Recommend To:
Anyone who enjoys YA Fantasy, particularly girls, because I think they need healthy examples of true friendship. Everyone needs reminding of the strength and importance of friendship.