Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Books from July

Top 5 Wednesday

Hey, readers!

I did not have enough books with awesome maps in them currently, so I decided to change the topic to my top 5 books that I read in July. I read about nine books in July, and they were all fabulous. Here we go!

  1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This was definitely my favorite read of the month. I have a review of this book up, and it was just incredible. I am currently watching the television show, and it is just awesome. Check it out!

    2.  Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas 

Of course, I had to mention Heir of Fire. This book was fantastic, and it really displayed the character development of Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol. They all had to make difficult decisions and seeing that play out in the book was fantastic.

    3.  Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 

This book was great. I loved the Darkling. The Darkling was the perfect villain and he was so multidimensional. He was my favorite character in the first book and added the action and mystery that the book needed. The other characters were likable as well. There were some aspects that I did not enjoy, such as the emphasis on beauty, however, it did not detract from the integrity of the story.

    4. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

This was the second book in the Grisha trilogy, and it was even better than Shadow and Bone. This book did not fall into second book syndrome. It was packed with even more world and plot building. It was amazing. However, the Darkling is seen less in this book. However, we learn a little bit more about him.

    5. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

I reread The Hobbit this month, and it will always be a favorite of mine. The attention to detail and the story building is flawless. The elements of medieval oath taking and merry making is fabulous. I am a history major, so I am a huge fan of Tolkien’s works. This book leaves me speechless each time.

What were your favorite books that you read this month? Leave your comments down below. I also have a review coming up soon.

Read ya later!

Mads

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Five Things Wrap Up: Shatter Me

Shatter MeThis month I read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and I was surprised that I did not enjoy this book as much as everyone else has. Don’t get me wrong it was incredibly entertaining and I finished it in less than two days, but it was not my favorite read of the summer. This book follows Juliet and her love obsession interest, Adam. Juliet is not your everyday girl, though; she has the ability to drain the life force from any living creature with just her touch. This causes her to be of interest of the terrible new regime, The Reestablishment. These awful people are trying to wipe everything from our society that makes individuals unique. Warner, is a general of the Reestablishment who takes an interest in Juliet and her abilities, and takes her from the insane asylum that she has been locked in for a year, or almost a year I can’t seem to remember.  I would rate this one a 2 out of 5 stars. Here is my Five Things Wrap Up.

  1. The writing was trite

Tahereh Mafi was taking an artistic leap with her strikethrough text. This device was used to allow the reader to see what Juliet was actually thinking. It also fit in with the idea that the book was a journal. However, the first part of the book was littered with the strikethroughed text, and it got distracting. Moreover, you can tell that Mafi was getting tired of the device and cut down on it significantly towards the end of the book. Also, the metaphors in this book were nonsensical at points. For example, “He says it with a small smile the size of Jupiter” (p. 119). She does realize that Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, right?? That metaphor is completely contradictory and does nothing for me. I know Juliet is the artistic type, but the metaphors are clichéd and kind of pretentious. Another one to entertain you: “My jaw is dangling from my shoelace” (p. 310). That is quite grotesque, and it does not help make the writing any better. These metaphors are in every other line, so if you can’t handle this type of writing style I would not recommend you read this one.

  1. This is a romance novel, not a dystopian novel

This book is associated with dystopian novels, however, this was more of a romance novel to me. Juliet and Adam are nauseating. They have an instalove relationship that is extremely unhealthy. Juliet talks about Adam constantly. There is not a page that goes by that she doesn’t: ask about Adam, worry that he will leave her, talk about how “beautiful” he is, or try to suck his face off. They always seem to be fighting about how their love is dangerous. Neither of them seems mature enough for a serious relationship, and their obsessiveness just proves that even more. Moreover, the dystopian aspects of this book are just skimmed over and not developed very well, thus, the reason why I think that this is romance, not dystopian.

  1. Warner is the only character with potential in this book

Warner is completely disturbed, but he has depth. He has the potential to be a dynamic character, and I hope Mafi takes advantage of that. He is a monstrous 19-year-old general who completely lacks empathy. He also seems to have mommy issues, which I hope are explored in the next book. He kills without thinking and shows no remorse. He wants to rule the world with Juliet, but we see there is more to him. He is a character that I really hope Juliet does not fall for, though. He is a great villain, but please Mafi do not go there. He is a psychopath… just because he is hot doesn’t mean Juliet should hit that. I hate seeing assholes being accepted because they are “hot” and only “misunderstood.” He is crazy, end of story.

  1. Juliet has the “how could anyone love me” character trope going on

Now, I understand that Juliet has been ostracized and bullied her whole life, but she is so whiny. She lets her experiences destroy her, and she basically becomes Bella Swan. Someone who does not think they are good enough for anyone, and they just deserve to die. She would die without her love interest. It is sickening. She is not strong at all, and it is just excuse after excuse with her when she isn’t obsessing over Adam. She even acknowledges she needs to learn to be strong on her own, but never even tries to put in the effort.  Ahhh…. Man, I really don’t like her.

  1. However, it is entertaining

As much as I didn’t like some of the key elements of the book, it kept me reading. It was not the best written and the characters were nothing spectacular, however, I still blew through this book. I would not recommend this book to some as a “must read” however, it was not the worst book I have ever read. I own the second book as well, so I am going to continue on and read the second book. I will let you know if there are any improvements.

Read ya later!

Mads

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Character Tropes

Top 5 Wednesday

Hey, readers! I was on vacation last Wednesday, so I was not able to do a Top 5 Wednesday last week. This week the topic is Top 5 Favorite Character Tropes. So, here we go!

  1. Mysterious characters

I really enjoy mysterious characters, and I don’t really think mysterious characters are not represented much in literature, especially YA. However, let me make this clear, by mysterious I mean that there seems to be more to a character that meets the eye. I DO NOT mean that they are mysterious in a brooding “you don’t want to get too close to me” type of mystery. A character that perfectly fits this would be Gandalf from The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Gandalf is so compelling and mysterious because we are only ever allowed to see the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his powers. However, we know there is more to him than meets the eye. He is immensely powerful, and yet we have never uncovered his true potential. I would love a series of just Gandalf and his adventures.

  1. The dorky kid who surprises everyone

I love me an adorkable character who grows and comes into his own. They may seem weak, but then one day the blossom into a badass. The first person that comes into mind is Neville Longbottom. He is fanfreakingtastic!  We first see him a young, insecure wizard trying to find his pet toad, and then in the last novel he bursts out of his shell and wreaks some havoc. What a great character.

  1. Heroes and heroines that immediately embrace their power

I don’t know if I would exactly consider this a trope, but it should be. There are too many characters that shy away from responsibility. They are always “wahh I didn’t ask for this” (aka Katniss Everdeen). However, sometimes we have characters such as Hermione, Harry, and Ron who all embrace the difficult journey that is to come, and don’t care what will happen.

  1. The good old classic sociopath

When the author does this one correctly, there is nothing like a bone chilling sociopath. A sociopath lacks empathy and usually are stone cold killers. Without giving spoilers, I will not reveal my favorite sociopath. However, this character is in Gone Girl.

  1. The old mentor

Old, wise mentors are great. I know this is not exactly the best character because he was hardly old. He is more of an old soul and that is Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just the sarcasm and wisdom from these mentors I just love.

What are your favorite character tropes? Comment below!

Five Things Wrap Up: Outlander

outlander

Hey, readers! I am here to review the very popular Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It was absolutely stunning. I knew that this book was a romance novel, however, I was not aware of how romantic it actually was. The book follows Claire Randall who is celebrating her second honeymoon with her husband Frank in the Scottish Highlands. They were just reunited after six years of being involved in WWII, where Frank was in information and Claire was a nurse on the field. However, their honeymoon was interrupted when Claire touches a magic stone and is transported 200 years into the past. Here she meets the magnificent Jamie Fraser, and the rest is history. So, here is my Five Things Wrap Up!

  1. The writing is beautiful

Diana is a stunning writer. She has immaculate descriptions, and her storytelling is riveting. The beautiful Scottish Highlands are brought to my bedroom, and I am about ready to book a trip to Scotland. The parallels to both the present and the past in this world are perfectly done. For example, Claire mentions how decrepit the Castle of Leoch was only a day before she was thrust into the past. Moreover, this is a long book for sure, but Diana’s writing makes it incredibly enjoyable.

  1. Jamie Fraser

He is absolutely intoxicating. He was such a great character. He is strong, but he listens to Claire and values her input. He would do anything for her, and would even sacrifice his life and dignity. I really liked Jamie, and felt that his character developed quite nicely. We first see him as a naïve, cocky soldier, but then he transforms into a man with great responsibility. He is a wonderful male character, and did I mention he is devilishly charming and handsome?

  1. The romance

Woah!  I was not anticipating how graphic the sex scenes were in this book. When I was about fifty pages in I was raving about how great this book was to my mom, and I was telling her to pick it up and read it. Then I got about a couple hundred pages in, and I blush to think I told my mom to read this book. The sex scenes are definitely done tastefully, and they never dragged on. Moreover, they are not excoriatingly awkward, however, they do get a little blush worthy. Furthermore, the romance between Jamie and Claire is beautiful. The path their relationship takes is not as unrealistic as I thought! I won’t go on any further, but if you read it you know what I mean!

  1. Historical aspect

I thought Diana did a spectacular job with her research. The history was woven very subtly into the novel, and it never felt like a history lesson. There was historical truth behind the actions of the characters and this was done perfectly. I was surprised how historically accurate she was because I did not expect that much from a novel that was focused mostly on the romance element, so that was a nice surprise. Also, a comment on how some people find the relationship between Claire and Jamie as “abusive” for one particular scene in the novel. I find it very realistic to the time period. Women were seen as objects in the 1700s, and that Claire followed this archaic way of life was for survival. It was the way they lived in the 1700s, and it would not do the book or history justice if Gabaldon just pretended things like this didn’t happen to women. They were treated as children. So, if you find Claire a not strong character, you are mistaken she did what she did for survival, and she most certainly did not take any crap from anybody in this book.

  1. Claire

I really loved Claire. She was quite badass. She did her best to fit into the new world, and found her place as a nurse at the castle. She made the best out of her situation and did it with a wonderfully snarky attitude. She did not take orders from anyone, and was a strong woman despite the way women were treated in this time. She did her best to save as many lives as she could, and surprised me throughout the novel. She was not a damsel in distress, and was a great female character.

Read ya later!

Mads

Five Things Wrap Up: Siege and Storm

siege and storm

I have read the second book in the Grisha trilogy, which is Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. This was a fabulous book and was a wonderful second installment. I loved it just as much as the first book, Shadow and Bone, and I felt that it was more epic than the first. This book did not fall into second book syndrome, and I am highly impressed. However, the characters got a little annoying this time around. I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. Here is my Five Things Wrap Up!

  1. There are more epic components

This one definitely fits the bill for an epic high fantasy YA novel. This second installment had more magic and adventure. The majority of the book was on the run, or under siege. Ha, see what I did there? The first book dealt with Little Palace, and how Alina was transitioning into her powers. This book followed her through skilled fighting and tracking of mystical creatures, such as a majestic ice dragon. There are flying ships and valiant soldiers who want to stand by their leader, and an epic fight scene. In regards to more action and fantasy elements, this second book did a magnificent job. I am excited to read the final book, and unveil what will happen next.

  1. The absence of the Darkling

I enjoyed the depth of the Darkling, and the mood he set when he was in a room. However, this book he is seen sparsely. There is a lot of guessing about his state of mind and physicality. You’re not quite sure if he is getting weaker or stronger. I loved the sarcastic banter between him and Alina, and it reminded me of Spike and Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They have witty remarks, and Alina hates that she once fell for his antics. I really hope the next book showcases the Darkling a little more.

  1. There is still a lack of background information

I still have no idea about what this world is. There are new characters and there is no explanation why the Grisha have such a stigma in some areas of the world, and not others. There is a small peak into the Darkling and his family, but it is dealt with quickly. I do not want to give any spoilers away, but I am just still not impressed with the lack of knowledge about the world and the origin of the people and places. Everything that could hold an explanation, are just waved away as being a myth that people never knew actually existed.

  1. Mal and Alina get annoying

Mal and Alina have this thing where they are both stubborn and don’t like to communicate. They both hide things from one another and then lash out when they are confronted. Mal is an extremely insecure, prideful male and he just got on my nerves. Some of the things he would do were immature. Alina never opened up to him about her doubts or things that are troubling her. It gets old, and it goes on for the majority of the book. I don’t like whiny relationships. HOWEVER, Alina goes through spectacular character development. I was most impressed with Alina’s development. Bardugo focused on the crave of more power in the back of Alina’s mind. Not many heroines deal with wanting to attain more power in a selfish manner. This set Alina apart from many other YA heroines.

  1. Bardugo’s descriptions are flawless

Bardugo does a wonderful job at storytelling. The writing is haunting and beautiful. There are words written in blood on the side of a church that praise Alina their saint and savior. We hear the Volcra screeching a humanly shriek. We see the stark contrast between those who live in quaint villages and those who eat candied cuckoo in crystal bowls. Everything she writes has a purpose and is written brilliantly. I can’t wait to read the final book.

Read ya later!

Mads

Top 5 Wednesday: Anticipated Pre-Orders for the Rest of the Year

Top 5 Wednesday

Hey, readers! Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday! The topic for this week is: Top 5 Anticipated Pre-Orders for the Rest of the Year. This was an easy one because there are so many books I am excited about that are coming out in a few months. Here we go!

  1. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas- September 1st

Yes! I cannot wait for the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series to come out. I finished Heir of Fire at the beginning of the month, so I just need to get my hands on the next one. This is probably my number one most anticipated book release for the fall of 2015.

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo- September 29th

I read the Grisha Trilogy also this month, and I am super excited that there will be another book in the Grisha world. This is a different aspect of the world, and will follow new characters. I am excited about this and I want to learn more about the world of Ravka.

  1. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness- October 6th

This book follows a high school senior in his quest to finish out his last year of high school. This book deals with how we try to make our ordinary lives something extraordinary. I am excited about this book because I always hear positive things about Patrick Ness, and this feels like an overall good feelings read.

  1. Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman- August 25th

This one is going to be incredible and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. This is a historical fantasy series that is somewhat like the Game of Thrones. Also, it follows the reign of Alexander the Great. I am a history major, so this definitely up my alley!

  1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff- October 20th

This is a book set in 2575, and is about two megacorporations at war. I don’t know too much else, but that alone sounds awesome. I love futuristic dystopian books, so there will definitely be some awesome elements to this one.

What are your most anticipated book releases? Comment below!

Read ya later!

Mads

Five Things Wrap Up: Shadow and Bone

shadow and bone

Hey, readers! Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in the dystopian fantasy trilogy, The Grisha Trilogy. The story follows Alina who in the army with her friend Mal and one day while traveling across the Shadow Fold discovers that she may be a Grisha. The Shadow Fold was created by the Dark Heretic who was a Darkling, which is a Grisha that summons darkness. Moreover, the Shadow Fold is a pitch black wasteland with menacing Volcra who eat those who try to pass through. Alina then needs to determine how she will fit into her new life, and where she fits with the new Darkling. She also needs to decide where she and Mal left off. She realizes that maybe he truly loves her back. This fantasy book was full of exciting elements and awesome characters. I really enjoyed the book, and it was an extremely fast read. I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars. Here is my Five Things Wrap Up.

  1. There was not a lot of world building

In this book, we were just thrown into the world of Ravka, which is a fantasy version of Russia. The land of Ravka and the areas surrounding it are immense, and there are feuds between Ravka and the Fjerda and the Shu Hans. We are not so sure exactly why there is such a rift between these people because there is never any information given about them. Also, with the Grisha, we never learn exactly what they are, or where they come from. They describe their powers as just something you were lucky to be born with, such as being good at math. Despite the lack of building up, this world is fantastic, and I am hoping the next book delves more into the history of the land.

  1. Alina is surprising heroine

Alina is not your typical heroine, for she is not the most beautiful or strong person in the book. Every YA book that has a female protagonist who has to save the world is beautiful, and all of the men swoon over her. Alina is quite different, she is ostracized by the Grisha because she does not belong in their beautiful circle. Although, like all teenage girls, Alina is insecure in her own skin and this does affect her at times. She is also not physical strong, which makes her the runt of the pack for the majority of the book. I find her extremely strong, and she assumes responsibility exceedingly well in respect to other dystopian heroines, such as Katniss who wanted nothing to do with the resistance at first. Alina is stubborn, but she isn’t obnoxious. She is a well-rounded character who knows how to work hard to achieve her goals.

  1. The Darkling is the best villain

The Darkling is devilishly good. He is the perfect bad boy, and I have to admit I swooned a little at the beginning of the book. He is so calculated and sinister but has a part of him that makes him more than that. He is power hungry, but he knows how to hide it. He is also charming and can make people feel special. Now that I think about it… I am describing a sociopath. Well, I don’t want to over glorify this terrible killer, but I have to admit… You love to hate him.

  1. There is a lot of emphasis on looks in this book

The one thing I didn’t like the most was the emphasis of being beautiful in this book. The Grisha were all disgustingly beautiful, and they looked down upon those who were unfortunate enough to be born a normal Ravkan. Genya, whose Grisha power is basically that of a skilled cosmetologist, is absolutely beautiful and not at all modest. However, she is more than that. She befriends Alina and does not judge her like the other Grisha. Genya also falls in love with geeky Grisha, David. Bardugo does give her beautiful characters more than just beauty, however, I felt that she put too much emphasis on the correlation between self-worth and beauty.

  1. I enjoyed Bardugo’s writing style

Bardugo knows how to write a page-turner. I was able to read this book in about two days. The suspense was perfect. Although, there was not a lot of action, the book was never boring. There were no epic fight scenes that took place, but there were aspects of the book that were just as exciting as a fight scene. Her writing is very detailed, and her descriptions of the palaces were immaculate. She also encapsulated all of the Grisha’s powers and wove them throughout the characters and their development. However, at times Bardugo was a little too descriptive and acted as though her audience was clueless. Some of her passages could be a lot stronger if she would have cut out a sentence that seemed like overkill. Overall though, this book was amazing.

Read ya later!

Mads