Friday, January 29, 2016

January Wrap-Up

Woohoo, first wrap up of 2016! (Should I really be this excited?)

I've discovered something interesting this month pertaining to my book buying ban. It seems that the more I'm enjoying the book/s I'm reading, the less likely I am to buy more books. Well, this month was all over the place in terms of how much I enjoyed the books, so I bought more books than I planned on. :p The good news is that most of them are continuing a series, so they totally don't count for my buying ban.

I read a book that was nearly 500 pages long early this month and I'd forgotten what that was like. I'd been reading so many short books, trying to cut my TBR down quickly, that I kind of forgot what it was like to take more than two days to read a book. Honestly, I gotta say that it was kind of fun.

Last week I rediscovered Soulmates AU fanfiction and Marvel fanfiction - but especially the two combined. I wish there was some way I could include my fanfiction on my monthly reading, because I pretty much read nothing but that for about a week. Seriously, like 200,000 words of MCU Soulmates AU's.

My mom's birthday was this month and I bought her books. Also a couple movies, but the books are the important things. I'm also starting to realize that she is super hard to buy gifts for.

What I've been reading...

Timebound by Rysa Walker - **** - Review
Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones - ** - Review 2/3
Frostbite by Richelle Mead - *** - Thoughts

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine - ****
The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding - *****
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare - ***** - Thoughts

Wearing the Cape: The Beginning by Marion G. Harmon - *- Review 2/10
Beneath the Surface by Lindsay Buroker - ***** - Thoughts
Cold Steel and Secrets: Part 1 by Rosemary Jones - ****

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson - **
Cold Steel and Secrets: Part 2 by Rosemary Jones - ****

Cold Steel and Secrets: Part 3 by Rosemary Jones - ***
Cold Steel and Secrets: Part 4 by Rosemary Jones - ***
The Fortune Hunter by Diane Farr - ****

Omega City by Diana Peterfreund - ****
Karneval Omnibus Vol. 1 by Touya Mikanagi - ****
Pandora Hearts Vol. 4 by Jun Mochizuki - *****


Pandora Hearts Vol. 5 by Jun Mochizuki - *****
The Web of Titan by Dom Testa - *****
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas - ***** - Reread/BR with Vera

Buying ban information to date...
I can buy/get free 1 book for every 5 I read.
Series continuations are free.

Physical books read: 31
E-books read: 19

Physical books bought: 2
E-books bought: 2

What I've been watching...
I've rewatched season 2 of Saiyuki, season 4 of Rizzoli & Isles and Crusade. Still love all three shows.

I watched I Couldn't Become a Hero So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job (AKA: Yu-Shibu). I...didn't really care for the show much. There were too many moments of uncomfortable 'fanservice' (like the girls getting sexually molested by 'wild magic') and I HATE the main guy. So...yeah.

I watched Hamatora season 1. And I want to know how a show that started off so well could turn into that rubbish. Ugh. What's even worse is that the final episode to season 1 is a huge cliffhanger as though the creators knew no one would still be interested in season 2 if they didn't leave a huge hook. (Which reminds me, I need to find some spoilers for season 2 to find out what the hell is going on.)

I watched season 2 of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD and...this show has moments when I love it and moments that I have zero interest in ever watching it again. LOL. Overall though, I like the show.

I watched season 1 of Teen Wolf. Honestly I bought this show on a whim when I needed to fill out my best buy order. I was kind of interested in in but got it mostly because it was cheap. And when I started watching it I was reminded very strongly of Vampire Diaries. But I like this show more. It's actually a lot of fun and I'll definitely be watching season 2.

I watched Unlimited Psychic Squad and I LOVE this show! Seriously, I didn't even hope this show could be as awesome as it is. The plotline is exactly the kind I adore and the people are just perfect! I liked it so much that I've already ordered Psychic Squad, which this show is kind of the sequel spinoff of. (And even though I hear Psychic Squad isn't as dark.)

I've also been watching some more Naruto. I'm currently up to episode 126 of Shippuden - which added to the original series means that I've seen 346 episodes. Is it strange that I think the show keeps getting better?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

January Book Haul

I'm pretty sure I have the worst internet service imaginable. I was good this month: I took pictures of my book haul, had my cord and camera connected to my computer and all ready to download - or upload? - them when my internet quit working. Then it quit responding. Then I got into a terrible mood.

So, moving on.

I actually bought a lot of books this month, but most of them doing count for my buying ban as they're continuing a series I've already started.

Books bought...

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes
Decrypted by Lindsay Buroker

Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey
The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

The Web of Titan by Dom Testa
The Seventh Spell by Danielle E. Shipley
Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Kindle books bought...

Cold Steel and Secrets: A Neverwinter Novella Part 1 by Rosemary Jones
Cold Steel and Secrets: A Neverwinter Novella Part 2 by Rosemary Jones
Cold Steel and Secrets: A Neverwinter Novella Part 3 by Rosemary Jones

Cold Steel and Secrets: A Neverwinter Novella Part 4 by Rosemary Jones

Buying ban information to date...
I can buy/get free 1 book for every 5 I read.
Series continuations are free.

Physical books read: 31
E-books read: 19

Physical books bought: 2
E-books bought: 2

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review: Timebound by Rysa Walker

Timebound by Rysa Walker
Series: The Chronos Files #1
Genre: Contemporary/Sci-fi/Time Travel
Add on Goodreads

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Book Series I Want To See Made Into TV Shows

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's a freebie week over at The Broke and the Bookish - which means we get to decide what top ten we want to do. Honestly I both love these weeks (because of all the great topics people come up with) and dread them (because I am seriously not that creative). I was searching desperately for a topic, but couldn't think of one I wanted to do. Then, just this past weekend, I was reading a book and thought 'what an awesome movie this would make' and, bam!, a topic was born. (So, this is totally not original, but let a girl dream, mkay?)

Friday, January 22, 2016

In An Attempt To Avoid Books That Don't Interest Me

Lately I've been trying to read through my TBR stack, and that has brought up several books that I look at and go 'why did I buy that?' I've been giving it a lot of thought how I can avoid - or at least cut down - on books that make me feel that way. I've thought of a couple ideas and I think I'll try them and see how they work.

First, I'm going to avoid impulse purchases of books. No more of that 'I've never heard of this book before, but it sounds good and it's cheap. I'll buy it'. I'm putting a stop to that. I usually buy all my books online anyway, so it wouldn't be difficult to find out what the book's about. But, I think I'll try to wait at least a week before buying the book. That way I'll have a better feel if it's a book I actually want, or if it's just shiny.

Secondly, I've divided my 'want to read' shelf at Goodreads - which functions as a 'to buy' shelf for me (plus whatever's there from the library) - into tiers.

Tier 1 is the books I have to buy. The one's I know I want to read. Mostly what will be on here I'm guessing is authors I love, series continuations and books that I am beyond excited for.

Tier 2 is the books I really want. The books I'm a little less sure of, but am almost entirely certain I want to buy.

Tier 3 is the books that… Well, I'm not sure about. They sound good, or there is something about them that interests me. But I'm also holding back for some reason.

Now, my plan is that I'll buy all the books of tier 1 before I buy any off tier 2. Books can change tiers at any time, but they have to go to tier 3 before they can be removed from my list.

I'm really hoping that this helps me to read the books that I really want first - though, this might just be a by-product of my love of lists and organization and a desperate attempt to get organized. This should also help me prioritize series I've already started.

So, do you have a system for buying books? Does anyone really need a system for this? Am I totally over thinking things and making it all more complicated than it needs to be? Have you ever wound up with books that you really aren't interested in and never even start them?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Thoughts On A Black Hermione Granger and Race In The Harry Potter World

Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - a London based play for this summer that features middle-aged versions of 'the golden trio.' The actress playing Hermione is Noma Dumezweni, a black woman. The internet has kind of blown up over this - the people that like it and the people that hate it - and, originally I wasn't even going to weigh in on this.

But then I, with all this fresh in my mind, started reading The Deathly Hallows and, early on, came across this.

[…]Kingsley, bald, black, broad-shouldered[…]

And it got me thinking about the people in the Harry Potter books that are described as black. There are a few that I thought of immediately (Blaise Zambini and Lee Jordan specifically) and a few others that I remembered after looking the subject up on the internet (Angelina Johnson and Dean Thomas for example).

Now, I have read some books where skin color is never mentioned - but by the different names and places that are represented, it seems obvious that not everyone is white. An example of what I'm talking about would be Cho Chang and Padma and Parvati Patil. With the names alone, it's a pretty common assumption that they are POC.

However, there's a thing called 'white is the default color.' What this means is that if the characters skin tone isn't mentioned, you probably picture them as white. I do this. I hate that I do, but it's the truth. I think most people do this. I just heard from an Asian woman that she does this.

But I've noticed that I'm less likely to do this if skin color isn't mentioned at all in the book. If this one person is singled out as being 'black', I'm more likely to picture everyone else as 'white' that I would be if skin color had never been mentioned.

So, Harry Potter - as the story is narrated from his perspective - obviously notices skin color - though, oddly enough, only if they're black. (What's up with that?) I do think that if Hermione had been black, Harry would have noted it at least when they first met. As is was, her skin color was never mentioned.

Which, coming from a white eleven year old boy, I would imagine that, if she was the same skin color as he, he would have never felt a need to mention it.

And, yes, I do believe that Harry is white. I have two reasons for that. First of all, it is rare to have a POC with red hair. Not impossible. But rare enough that I would imagine it unlikely to happen in this case. And, because of this picture:

So, it is grey-tone, but it seems obvious to me that James has approximately the same skin tone as his friends - and a rather pale one at that. Which would all, obviously, mean that Harry is white. Which does explain why he seems to believe that 'white is the default' and not worth mentioning.

Now, there was another picture I wanted to share with you - but I've been unable to find the image online. Anyway, it's the one from chapter nine of The Deathly Hallows titled 'A Place To Hide.'

It is a picture of Ron, Hermione and Harry. Once again, much like the picture of the Marauders, they all look to be the same race. And that looks to be Caucasian.

All that being said, if you'd ask me if I think Hermione is white, I'd say I don't know. Because her skin color was never mentioned, I don't know. I do think, however, that Rowling intended for her to be white. I know she's said she loves the idea of a black Hermione, which is great, but I can't shake the impression that when she was writing, she was writing with a white Hermione in mind.

There are arguments to be made for her being black - honestly, her untamable hair has long made me think that she could be black. There's also the fact that she does have brown eyes and hair. It would also cast both her work for SPEW and her marginalized status as a muggle-born in a different, more serious, light. Is it impossible? No. Is it probable? I really think that depends more on the way a person looks at it.

I do think this is an interesting way to go and I am very happy to see some real POC representation in the Harry Potter world. (For a distressing look at how long the Harry Potter movies would be if only POC spoke, click here.)

And now, I will leave you with this lovely picture. (Isn't she so pretty? There are a lot of fanart for black Hermione, but this one is probably my favorite.)

I'd love to know your thoughts!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review: Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
Series: Earth Girl #1
Genre: Sci-fi
Add on Goodreads

2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. Eighteen-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an “ape,” a “throwback,” but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.

Jarra makes up a fake military background for herself and joins a class of norms who are on Earth for a year of practical history studies excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. She wants to see their faces when they find out they’ve been fooled into thinking an ape girl was a norm. She isn’t expecting to make friends with the enemy, to risk her life to save norms, or to fall in love.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

So, if you've been around my blog much lately, you've probably heard me talking about my book buying ban. (cue the spooky music) Because of this not only have I not been buying quite as many books, I've also not been looking at books because as soon as I start reading a review from one of my friends and going 'that sounds good' I find myself over at Goodreads. And if the book still sounds good, it's not long before I'm buying it and something else.

Because of all this, I've been kind of not looking at books. But, I have been adding a few books - mostly the sequels of books I've finished and other stuff by an author, so this kind of works to show you what I've been reading recently.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Unpopular Opinions Tag

Found this tag over at So Long And Thanks For All The Fish and thought that it looked like a lot of fun and couldn't pass it up. Besides, I've got a lot of unpopular opinions that I love talking about.

1. A popular book or series that you didn't like...
How much time do you have? It's kind of a thing for me that I dislike the uber popular things. I don't mean to, but that's usually how it works out.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Sorry to all my blogging friends that love this book, I just couldn't. The story was way too haphazard for me and I didn't care about any of the characters enough to keep reading the series.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
All I really remember about this book was how 'funny' it tried to be and how I was left with a headache from how truly annoying it was.

2. A book or series that everyone else hated but you loved...
*coughcough* Yeah, like this never happens to me.

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
This was one of my favorite reads of last year, but if you check out the Goodreads rating, it averages less than 3.5 stars.

3. A love triangle where the protagonist ended up with the person you didn't want them to be with...
I'm trying to think of any love triangle that actually ended how I wanted it to and I'm coming up with nothing. As for ending how I didn't want it too...

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
I've not actually finished this series - and I probably won't simply because I spoiled myself and found out that Alina, who I thought was a totally awesome leading lady, wound up with a guy that I think is a worthless slug. (Yes, while reading the book, that's what I called him.) I won't put myself through seeing such a great female actually being with that thing.

The Dispossessed Trilogy by Page Morgan
Ignoring the complete bastardization of one of the members of this love triangle in the third book, Ingrid chose the guy that I absolutely hated from pretty much the first meeting. (Of course, it also wasn't a surprise because he's both the type of guy I hate and the type of guy the girls in books always swoon over. Blech.)

4. A popular genre you hardly read...
Contemporary. I'm just not a huge fan of the whole 'this could be happening right now.' I'd much rather read about dragons and spaceships. (Maybe not in the same book, though that could be awesome.) That's the same reason I like the type of shows and movies that I do.

Urban Fantasy. I've discovered that this is more about the 'voice' of the genre than anything else. Because as a whole, I love the idea - well, the idea without the vampire sex - but the way the main character is always written just isn't for me. (As I discovered when I started a sci-fi book that was written like a UF and promptly stopped. I will give it another shot, but, really, that style isn't for me.)

Dystopian. This I cannot explain at all. I love the idea behind it, but I have tried three dystopian novels, and have not felt any and have little to no interest trying again. (I always thought that it was because these books are more 'down' than what I usually read - but I just read a book that was kind of depressing, and I actually liked it. So that's not it.)

Horror. In my experience, horror as a genre is all 'everyone always dies' and I just can't get an emotional connection if I'm expecting them to get killed off. And if I can't get an emotional connection, I don't care. (Interesting to note that the books I've read where I do wish that everyone would die, no one ever does.)

*coughcough* So, by now are you asking what I actually do read? ;)

5. A popular/beloved character you dislike...
Harry Potter? Seriously, I have been thinking about this question since I first decided I wanted to do this tag and I have come to a very important realization: I don't know what characters are popular or beloved. Except for Harry (Potter, not Dresden, but I hate him to, you know). And, believe me, I do hate him and the way the world (the fictional world, that is) thinks he's just the greatest thing ever. (I really don't care what the real world thinks of him, but I'm pretty sure he is loved.) Except for the villains, but they don't count anyway because, hello, villains! (Every one that hates Harry is evil. Does that mean I'm evil?)

6. A popular author you can't seem to get into...
Okay, for this I'm going to be good and only talk about those authors that I've actually tried to read more than one book of. And that brings the count to one.

Brandon Sanderson. I know, I know, what's wrong with me? Honestly, I don't know. I've read four of his books and there was only one that I actually liked much. It was The Rithmatist and, really, by the time the sequel finally comes out, maybe in 2017, (and the first book was published in 2013) I highly doubt I'll even care anymore.

7. A popular trope you're tired of reading...
The Chosen One - Seriously, it wasn't good on Buffy and it wasn't good in Harry Potter. Give me someone that's the hero because of the choices they make, because they want to be, because they struggle for it or, hell, because they suck at being the villain. Don't give me a hero because 'the prophecy says so.'

Asshole Hero Love Interests - Please take your abusive creeps that need a restraining order slapped on them and shove them somewhere besides the 'controlling, possessive means he loves you' and this is a 'good, healthy love' that you totally 'shouldn't have him arrested for.'

Love Triangles + - But only if polyamory isn't a thing. I totally wouldn't mind reading that - but is it really too much to ask for for a book with no romance, much less a love triangle.

8. A popular series you have no intention of reading...

Twilight by Stephenie Meyers
This series has never interested me - mostly because dark, brooding vampire automatically means I go running for cover. Don't like them and never see that changing.

9. A book or series that you wanted to hate but loved...

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Okay, so I didn't love the book, but I liked it so much more than I was expecting to. I thought it would be one of those books that I barely was able to finish and then wrote a scathing review on - because I wanted to say I hated it. Much to my surprise, it actually turned out to be kind of fun.

10. A show/movie adaptation you liked better than the book...
Will you hate me if I say this is what usually happens?

The Dresden Files
To say I hated the books is an understatement - but really, I mostly hated misogynistic Harry Dresden. And I've been unable to rewatch the show since I read the first three books. 

Eragon + The Fellowship of the Ring
I didn't actually hate either of the books, (they were just sooo boring for me) but I enjoyed the movies so much more. Mostly because there was none of that dense prose that I dislike so much in fantasy.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The book left me with way too much time to think about how Harry's Gary Stu was showing. Besides, in the movie, the dragons were cool.

And, there we have my unpopular opinions! Agree? Disagree? (A dozen times more likely, I'm sure.) Think I'm full of it and talking out of my hat? Well, then I tag you! (Actually, I tag you no matter what, so have fun with it. I sure did!)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Unreliable Narrators - Why I Hate Them

For about eight years while I was growing up, I read exclusively mystery novels. A lot of Agatha Christie and other, more contemporary authors. I especially was a fan of the cozy mysteries. I remember once reading a mystery where the narrator was unreliable. I also remember how much I hated that book.

It's because of reading so many mystery books that I've always felt as though there's a kind of contract between authors and readers. It's an agreement that the author promises to leave enough clues that you can figure out the murderer and the reader promises to not skip to the last page.

I've always loved solving the mystery along with the sleuth character in the story. Sometimes I'm wrong, more often I'm right, but I love being given the clues needed to put the case together.

To me, unreliable narrators take that away from the reader. So often, there's not even little snippets of clues left. Anything that could give away the 'big reveal' (and these type of books always have a 'big reveal') is just excised.

I actually also see this as a lazy choice on the author's part. I imagine it would be easier to create a 'big reveal' if you don't have to leave clues for it before hand - both because readers probably won't put it together and loose interest and because the author doesn't have to make use of foreshadowing.

Most of the books I've read with unreliable narrators it seems like a ploy by the author. Now, I do know about some books where the narrator is possibly insane so is unreliable - but the closest I have come to reading a book like that is one where the narrator isn't sure if she's going crazy or is being gaslighted.

It was the latter, as I suspected all along, but it was a rather nice use of unreliable narrator because we still knew everything the narrator did - it's just that the narrator nor the reader is sure if it's real or not.

So, what is your thoughts on unreliable narrators? I'd love to know, even if you totally disagree with me, as I know this is a rather popular trope.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 Challenges

This year I have challenged myself. After not doing any last year - and by 2/3 of the way through the year wishing I had - I decided to make up three challenges for myself. I'm not going to join in with any of these because I am terrible at actually posting reviews of books that I 'have' to - so this is for my own fun. Are you participating in any challenges this year?

Pages of Starlight's Chunky-Book Challenge
There is a Chunkster Challenge (usually hosted here) that I thought about joining but, to be honest, the rules really don't work for me. What I'm trying to do is read longer books, so my goals will be a little different. (If anyone wants to join in with me, here's my rules.)

For this challenge, any book can be considered 'chunky' if
  • It is an adult fiction or non-fiction and is over 400 pages
  • It is a young adult fiction of non-fiction and is over 500 pages
I plan to read 12 chunky books this year - or as many as I can find that sounds good, whichever comes first.

Title - Author Here

Pages of Starlight's Finish-the-Series Challenge
For this one, I'm linking over to Socrates' Book Reviews. You can find information on this challenge - and how to join it - there. I probably won't post there for the challenge, as I really am terrible at updating, but I do hope to keep my blog up to date on this. My goal is to finish 7 series this year.

Series by Author Finished

Pages of Starlight's TBR-Clean-Up Challenge
Another one that I kind of came up with on my own - though I was definitely inspired by the Never Too Old for Y.A. & N.A. Books group on Goodreads. What brought this on is that I have some books that I've had on my TBR way too long, and I still show no signs of reading them. So, this is a chance to finally read some of those books I've had on my TBR list for over a year.

Book - Author Here

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: The Lynburn Legacy #1)
Genre: Contemporary/Mystery/Gothic/Magic
Add on Goodreads

Kami Glass loves someone she's never met... a boy she's talked to in her head ever since she was born. Having an imaginary friend has made fitting in hard - but that's never bothered Kami. She has her best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is just the way she likes it.

But all that changes when the mysterious Lynburn family return to Kami's village, along with teenagers, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami...

As life as she knows it begins to unravel, Kami is determined to get to the bottom of every mystery. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him?

And can she trust him?