November Reviews

The reviews catch up continues with a summary of what I read in November–one nonfiction running memoir that I found on recommendation from a friend and the later half of the New Adult Addicted series by Krista and Becca Ritchie. As always, I link the cover photos to Goodreads, so if you’re looking for a summary or more info on a particular title, you can click there:

26204920Confessions of An Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated by Dana L. Ayers

I think the title of this one is just about as long as the actual book…it was a very quick read, which was perfect. (I kinda think any memoir by anyone under the age of 40 or so should be relatively short…) It was fun to read, Ayers is funny and her personality really shines through; making this relateable, whether you can run long distances or not.

Hothouse Flower (Calloway Sisters #2) by Krista and Becca Ritchie18308266

Hothouse Flower is the first installment in the series that really focuses for more than a scene or three on Lily’s younger sister Daisy and Lo’s older brother Ryke. Daisy is a pretty compelling character and Ryke impresses me as well, but they do both grate on me a bit and I was never quite able to get over the fact that Ryke was attracted to Daisy back when she was only 15 (she’s 18 in this book, but they talk about it and it gives me the skeevies). It’s assuaged a bit by the fact that we see the whole thing from inside his head as well as hers and it’s never particularly predatory, but it still rang a bit wrong to me.


18479451Thrive (Addicted #2.5) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

The really weird thing about this installment was that it primarily covered all the same events as the first two Calloway sisters books. It’s necessary to have so that the Addicted books can stand separately as a complete series, but if you’re reading the spinoff in the recommended reading order (which slots them in before this one) it gets repetitive. It’s still a good story, and I still enjoyed it, but you really have to love the characters to find the fun in watching the same scenes from different perspectives.


Addicted After All (Addicted #3) by Krista and Becca Ritchie18308270

One thing I haven’t mentioned is that all of these books are long–up around 400 pages or so, so by the time you reach the 5th novel featuring the trials and tribulations of two characters, the conflicts have become a bit ridiculous and scenes begin to feel overly drawn out. But because of all that time we spend with Lo and Lily, it’s plain fun in this one to see them dramatically improved from where they started in book #1 and to see them face new challenges as much better people.

22024901Fuel the Fire (Calloway Sisters #3) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Fuel the Fire picks up around the same time as the end of Addicted After All with Lily’s older sister Rose and her husband Connor. They featured in the first book in this spinoff series as well and ended in a pretty solid place, so I wasn’t sure where this one would go in terms of conflict, but I wound up really loving it. Pressure comes from outside the relationship more than from within it, so they’re allowed to grow and change as a team, rather than pushing and pulling at each other. This installment definitely cemented them as my favorite couple to read in the series.

 

22024907Long Way Down (Calloway Sisters #4) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

We go back to Ryke and Daisy for the final installment in this whole super-series and I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The larger Calloway family–the parents and the oldest Calloway sister Poppy, features in this one a bit more, which I appreciated, especially since Daisy’s fraught relationship with her mother needed some more resolution. Ryke had some compelling conflicts in this too and overall it was another excellent character study mixed in with the excellent as always romance. A lengthy epilogue gives a glimpse at the future (and lots of warm fuzzies) so it’s a satisfying conclusion to the whole series.

 

October Reviews

 

I resolved in 2015 to write and post at least a short review of everything I read throughout the year, and I’m still determined to do it. So here are some reviews on the things I read when the leaves were still on the trees.

 

20829029The Martian by Andy Weir

I really highly enjoyed this one. For me, it was one of those all engrossing books that kept me up into the wee hours, perfectly balancing pacing and science-based exposition. I have always had an interest in space and space travel (and biology) and so the science-y bits made it all that much better for me.

Even with its small changes to the end; I loved the movie too. No matter the media, there’s something very real and very beautiful about the way humanity is portrayed in this story. We see resilience and bravery overcoming fear and exactly how much can be accomplished both by an individual working alone with limited resources and by a cooperative global community. Definitely recommend this one.

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy22543699

I had this resolution to read the Man Booker shortlist before the end of the year, and it turned out that this (the shortest!) was the only one I completed in that timeframe, but I own a few more that I’m sure I’ll get to sometime in the new year, but I digress.

Satin Island is experimental. A nearly plot-less series of snippets in the life of U, a social anthropologist trying to summarize the whole of society in one “Great Report”. There are some passages in this that I really thought about and found profound, but I mostly felt lost. I think it’s definitely the type of book that isn’t necessarily for everyone, but if you’re interested in putting in the time and effort to think through and make all the connections you can find, I think you might like it. At the time I read it, I just was in too much of a hurry to really want to do that,  but I’d like to pick it up again sometime.

16278318Armada by Ernest Cline (Full Review)

I did a full review on this, so I won’t go into a whole lot of detail here, but I thought this was a fun Sci-Fi tale of video games and alien invasion. Ernest Cline is an excellent comedian and the audiobook is pitch-perfect as well, with Wil Wheaton voicing it. I found the plot to be a bit predictable, and secondary characters in particular lacking in development, but I highly enjoyed listening to it.

23164983Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2) by Ranson Riggs

It had been two and half years since I read Miss Peregrine’s when I finally picked this up during the Dewey’s 24 hour read-a-thon and several months since I read the graphic novel adaptation, so it took me a bit to get into this, but I did quite like it in the end, though I feel a bit of a post-hype letdown about it. I found that the old photographs interspersed throughout the story didn’t really add anything to the experience. They usually just clunk up the plot with some side episode that was written purely around one of them,  and they literally interrupt the story with a full page spread of photographs.

But I do really like the way the story is going overall. This was a pretty solid second installment, with good pacing and development. I particularly liked seeing the peculiar kids navigate the wider world and how their extraordinary talents separate and even put them in danger of society at large and how that brings them closer together within their own group.

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t read this series who wants to, but if you’re interested, definitely go for it. Ransom Riggs is a talented author and I’m happy he’s enjoying some success for it. I’ll be finishing the series at some point, though I haven’t yet.

16065004Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson

It’s pretty clear to everyone at this point how much I enjoy all of Brandon Sanderson’s work. His Stormlight Archive books are still my top favorite, but what he’s doing with Scadrial–the setting for his Mistborn series of series is really fascinating. The Mistborn trilogy is a more traditional medieval (though urban) sort of fantasy setting. In this series, we pick up in the same place centuries later and technology has advanced accordingly. Politics are different, the characters are new, but we get to see the world grow and change along with the new cast and that is so interesting.

Shadows of Self is our second foray into the wild west/industrial revolution era series following Wax, a nobleman more interested in fighting crime than politicking as the remaining member of his wealthy house, and Wayne, Wax’s best friend, a rough around the edges master of disguise. As always, Sanderson weaves a plot that is delightfully unpredictable and entertaining, and I loved the subtle ways he developed his characters–particularly more secondary characters like Wax’s betrothed, Steris–as well as the Cosmere universe, in which most of his work takes place.

25233432Avatar: The Last Airbender-Smoke and Shadow Part One by Gene Luen
Yang

This is the fourth series in the post-Avatar, pre-Korra comic book series and I continue to enjoy the additional complexity and adventure it brings to an old favorite of mine.

Carry OnCarry On by Rainbow Rowell

I was so skeptical of this full-length tour of the Harry Potter knock-off Rainbow Rowell created in Fangirl but I wound up absolutely loving it. It plays with the fantasy concept of the chosen one in a way I found incredibly gratifying. And Rowell remains one of–if not my top–favorite romance writer. This love story was hinted at rather subltley early on and then had the kind of scenes I’ve come to expect from Rowell–relatively tame and quiet in their actual physicality but really heavy with emotion. Definitely recommend this one.

22296542Addicted to You Series books 1-2 (Addicted to You, Richochet, Addicted for Now) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

I was pretty skeptical about Addicted to You–the little bit of New Adult Romance I’ve tried I didn’t love, but this was free for Kindle (still is!) and highly recommended in a video by GingerReadsLainey, a booktuber who reads enough of the genre to seem to know what she’s talking about and I am so glad I decided to actually pick it up instead of letting it languish with the rest of my unread Kindle books.

It does require a bit of suspension of disbelief–the characters are unbelievably wealthy, the men unbelievably attractive, but overall the characterization is really excellent. Lily and Lo are majorly screwed up and pretty unrelateable on a surface level, but their insecurity and their undeniable love for each other make them believable, likable even.

20658510Kiss the Sky (Calloway Sisters #1) by Krista and Becca Ritchie

The Calloway Sisters series is a spinoff of the Addicted books, each book told from the point of view of one of two of Lily’s sisters and their corresponding romantic interest. This one follows Lily’s genius older sister Rose and her equally genius boyfriend Connor as Rose capitalizes on the recent media attention brought on their family by convincing all three sisters to star in a reality TV series.

The premise sounds ridiculous, I know, but since I’m writing this after completing the entire series, I can actually say that it’s my favorite of all the books. Rose is smart, focused, driven and confident in just about everything in her life and the microscope of the reality show combined with her realizations and development in her relationship with Connor really throw her off on all fronts.

7937843Room by Emma Donoghue

A moving read with a fascinating choice of narrator. Jack’s view of the world is so heartbreakingly narrow, yet the wonder he has for things and the willingness he has to experience things makes this story more uplifting than it first seems.

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