A Few Reviews (March 2016)

I don’t always have a lot to say about every book I read, so I’ve decided to compile those shorter thoughts on various books into one big post. Not as detailed as a formal review and not as comprehensive as a wrap-up but just a fun peek into my brain about some of my latest reads. Click on the cover of each for a better synopsis on Goodreads and if you ever want to see my thoughts on things as and right after I read them you can follow me on Goodreads while you’re there.

25494343Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1; Shadowhunters #10) by Cassandra Clare

Once again, Cassandra Clare has used her supernatural world to its fullest extent, creating complicated problems with the rules of the world and not sparing her characters the consequences. The cast in this is probably her largest to date; one large sibling group and a few satellite friends and tutors. It reads a lot stronger than her other two series openers, mostly because it doesn’t endeavor to introduce its readers to the Shadowhunter world and instead it jumps right in. Lady Midnight opens five years after her earlier Mortal Instruments series, and focuses primarily on characters who already live in and know the workings of the shadow world and society. Most of these characters already know each other, which makes their relationships more complicated and much more fascinating. We have family members returning home much changed from when they left, younger children growing up and challenging the status quo set by their parental figures, friends navigating their romantic feelings for each other. It’s not the uninitiated damsel rescued by the warrior demon-hunter of series past, it’s something else entirely and I am very excited to see where this series goes.

6569735Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

A dark mystery about a woman haunted by the questionable guilt of her brother in the massacre of her family twenty years previously. As in Flynn’s most popular psychological thriller–Gone Girl (which I reviewed in 2014)–none of the characters in this are particularly likeable, but that makes what they do even more interesting. The plot is constructed intelligently as well; I was certainly kept guessing. Its shorter length made it much more engrossing for me than Gone Girl was and I’m glad I gave this one a shot.

20613761Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankin

A collection of poetry (and other media) about race in America. It’s use of second person perspective puts the reader right in the middle of the scene, for maximum emotional impact. It’s the kind of poetry that makes you stop and reread a passage because the metaphor is unique and fascinating or the language itself is perfectly composed. Even then, it’s a quick read and very much worth your time.

23395680Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman

The way this book was laid out on the page pushed it past pretty good space-thriller into something really fascinating. White text loops across two facing black pages as a computer contemplates its own consciousness. Fighter pilots’ radio transmissions explode across the pages, emulating the fight itself.  It’s entirely a collection of computer documents, chat conversations and (cleverly) notes on video feed. The characters are full of personality though, even as we see them only through dialogue or totally wordless actions. But at the end of the day this is going for thrilling and the plot reminded me a lot of the show Firefly, just on a larger scale, which made it not totally unique to my eyes, but incredibly entertaining nonetheless.

20443235The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3)

I read the first two books in this series in about three days a year ago, so I had forgotten a lot of things going into this series finale, but I was able to pick up the thread pretty quickly as the characters were also experiencing a big upheaval and change of scene. It was a well handled finale; a little too quick to gloss over the finer political details, but satisfying from a character perspective. Two people learn to fight and handle the consequences of war even as their love for each other and their hope for the future transform them as well. The Winner’s trilogy is spectacular as a whole, very smart, very well written and very underrated.

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November Wrap-Up and December TBR

As I said in this post last month, I really like watching wrap-up videos by “Booktubers” on YouTube, but I usually review everything I read either here or on my Goodreads page, so in my wrap up posts, I let you know what I read and what, out of those books, I liked best. Last month I had three winners, so it’s not like it’s a cutthroat competition here, but it is kind of fun. Click the book titles for Goodreads links, so you can read what they’re about if you’re interested. I’ll also link my reviews to the books in parentheses, indicating if the review was here on The Starlight Shelves, or if it’s a little less formal, on my Goodreads page.

Books I Read in November:

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (SS Review)

Bloodlines (SS Review), The Golden Lily (GR Review), The Indigo Spell (GR Review), The Fiery Heart (SS Review) by Richelle Mead

Dreamless (GR Review) by Josephine Angelini

What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway) (The Bane Chronicles) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan (I wrote a GR Review, but all I said was “Awww. So sweet.”)

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (SS Review)

My favorite is definitely the Bloodlines series! I’m obsessed. I read so many fewer books this month in part because I did NaNoWriMo, but also because I was constantly just rereading all my favorite parts of those books. It was a pretty great month overall though: The Lightning Thief and The Darkest Minds are recommended reads as well.

My December TBR

2013-12-01 08.08.41Woo, that’s a big pile. I just went to the library and went a little nuts, plus I have left overs from last month.

The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman are on there from last month. I’m still planning on re-reading them, but I have to get through these library finds first.

The Book Thief is on there next, another old favorite I’ve been meaning to re-read, especially since the movie just came out. I’ve heard mixed things about the movie, but I still hope to see it soon. If you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought!

Last month I bought Foretold, a collection of short stories about foretellings, fate and destiny, edited by Carrie Ryan. I bought it only so I could read the story Homecoming by Richelle Mead, which takes place after the events of the Vampire Academy series and tells of Dimitri’s reunion with his family and another small adventure. I read it already and it was great, but I really should check out some of the other stories in there, since it’s got some really wonderful contributing authors.

Next is The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis. This is a supplement to The Mortal Instruments series, it’s meant to be the actual text of the Codex the characters reference and this one is printed like you’re reading Clary’s copy, complete with notes by her and Jace with interjections by Simon. It’s also full of art, from doodles and sketches meant to be Clary’s to the art of the Codex itself. I actually finished it this morning (so one down you towering pile of books!) and I should be posting a review sometime early this week.

The penultimate Bane Chronicle by Cassandra Clare is out this month as well. Last month’s was wonderful and I am looking forward to reading The Last Stand of the New York Institute so much, even if it’s not as Malec-packed as November’s installment (Because Alec, if he’s present at all, is like barely two years old in this one.)

I’ve heard good things about Holly Black’s latest: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown which I’ve heard is a cool take on vampires, so I’m in. Looking forward to reading it.

Next is another leftover from November. Goddess, the final book in the Starcrossed series. I plan on reading it soon, but I’m not that excited about it after being kind of disappointed by Dreamless this month.

I had Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas on hold at the library for a long time and I finally got it. I don’t recall what prompted me to try to get it, but it looks to be YA high fantasy, something I haven’t really read much of in the past month or two, not since I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy back in September.

I also managed to snag Rick Riordan’s Sea of Monsters, book two in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series from the local library. The Lightning Thief didn’t disappoint, even after a lot of hype, and I am excited to continue the series. Hopefully I can get my hands on The Titan’s Curse this month too, but we shall see.

I changed things up a bit on my last library adventure and spent some time browsing around the non-fiction section. First, I picked up Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I’ve read three other books by him (Into the Wild and Into Thin Air for classes in high school, and Where Men Win Glory on my own in college) and I was intrigued by this one.

On the bottom of the stack, purely for the humor, is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I was on my way out when I spotted this lying neglected on the shelf and I had to take it home with me, especially since I remember loving  Outliers.

I also expect that my long wait on the library hold list for Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep will end very soon, (I’m first on the list now and there’s a copy due back today!) so that monster will be added to the already precarious pile. This just got really intimidating….Check back in next month to see if I read all twelve! I’ve done it before, but it’s going to be a tall order for sure.