Stacking the Shelves (70)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme, hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews, where bloggers can share the books and bookish items that we've bought, borrowed, or received each week.

This StS is for the past two weeks.

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen
Battle Royale: Remastered by Koushun Takami, translated by Nathan Collins

I went to Sasquan/Worldcon last weekend and these are the two books I picked up from some of the publishers who had booths there. I'm super excited to read both of these!

What did you guys get this week?  Let me know, or leave a link to your StS post (or IMM or any other alternative) in the comments and I'll try to stop by your blog!

Review: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Thursday, August 27, 2015
Title: The Thief
Author: Megan Whalen Turner
SeriesThe Queen's Thief #1
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1996
Pages: 280
Format/Source: Paperback/Purchased  
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade/Fantasy
The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king's prison. The magus is interested only in the thief's abilities.

What Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)


I have owned The Thief for a few years now, and it has always been on my TBR stacks of soon-to-be-read books, but I finally got around to reading it last month. I've just recently been getting more and more into fantasy books, and I think that The Thief is definitely one that should be read by fans of YA (and Middle Grade) fantasy.

The Thief is kind of a slow book, and kind of a quiet one. And the humor is often really subtle as well, but I really enjoyed that aspect of it. At times it was a sly, subtle humor, other times it was sarcastic, and other times it was like a physical humor that's being described--pratfalls and things that would get a laugh from a movie audience. I found myself laughing out loud a lot and I didn't expect that. There were also some suspenseful scenes, and creepy ones as well!

I enjoyed the stories they told about the old gods, and I liked how the world is based on Greece. There was definitely a lot of cool worldbuilding going on. I also enjoyed the twists, even though I saw one of them coming way before the reveal. With another twist, I had my aha moment just before the reveal, and that was pretty cool. And I also loved how Gen talks about how, in war, the other side is made up of people with hopes and dreams and values, just like the side we're on.

My rating for The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner:

Actually 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed all the humor and the twists and turns, and just this world and the characters in it. The only thing that I really wish had been in this book that wasn't is a map of the world. I need that map! Maybe it'll be in the other books. I'll be reading all of those very soon!
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ HarperCollins

Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Readathons, Readalongs, & Reading Challenges: Love Them or Hate Them?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
So I just participated in Bout of Books this past week, and before that, readathons were brought up for discussion in a Facebook group for book bloggers that I'm in. People talked about why they liked or loved readathons, or why they didn't, and someone also mentioned readalongs. And it got me thinking about readathons and readalongs and reading challenges: Are these great ways to challenge ourselves to read more or more diversely, or are they just ways of setting ourselves up for failure?

I guess it all depends on how you approach these things. They each kind of have pros and cons. For me, I enjoy all three for different reasons, but I can see why each would be difficult for others.

For example, as a stay-at-home mom and SUPER SLOW reader, readathons are often a great time for me to get a lot of reading in. I let the hubs know ahead of time that I'm going to need to read most of the day/week/whatever, and that way I know I'll get to read a lot. Sure, I usually have to read short stories or graphic novels during that time to make any kind of progress, but those are books that I want to read, and also want to get off of my TBR list. And most of the time, I also write reviews for those books, too, so it's a win-win-win. But I often can't participate in some of the readathons other than Dewey's and Bout of Books, because I just don't have the time. And I can see how others might not have time to do these kind of intensive readathons. (Related: Check out how I prepare for readathons. It's a process, you guys.)

With readalongs, I enjoy reading a book at the same time as others. I was in an awesome book club before I moved and we met monthly, picking one book for us all to read each month. It was really fun to get together and discuss the book, because everyone would always have different points to make. So with readalongs online, I can still read a book at the same time as others, and discuss it with them as well. It's not the same as having a local book club, but it's still fun! But I can also see how readalongs might not be a great fit for others--maybe you've read the book but it's been a while and you don't have time to reread, or they're reading a book you're not interested in, etc. (Related: My best blogger friend, Jessie, and I have started an online book club on Goodreads and we want YOU to join! Find out more info here.)

Reading challenges, I think, can be the most rewarding and the biggest let down, as well. I love signing up for new reading challenges each year, and I sometimes want to participate in the monthly and seasonal ones, too, but I often find out about them late or don't really have the time to change up my TBR pile for that time period. And when you complete those challenges, it makes you feel really great! You've accomplished this goal! You've read 50 of the books off your own shelves! You've read 30 books by diverse authors! You've read 100 books this year! But if you don't complete the challenges, you often feel like you've let yourself down. Or at least, I do. But luckily when that happens the new year is right around the corner and I sign up for some more reading challenges, and I can decide not to participate in the ones that I feel will be harder for me to accomplish.

And then there's the whole situation of comparing yourself to others who are also doing the readathon/readalong/reading challenge with you. It's hour 6 and so-and-so is already on book 5! That other reader had such better insights on that readalong book! So-and-so has already read 200 books this year and it's only July! This is the really hard part. With readathons and readalongs I try not to pay too much attention to comparing, but with year-long reading challenges, like the Goodreads challenge, it's hard not to compare. Especially when you're a slow reader like me, and you've never read 100 books a year in your life. But I just have to sit back and think, well, I can't compare myself to others. They have a completely different life than I do, they might be super fast readers, and hey, they might be DNFing a quarter of those books, when I only DNF like 5% of the books I read, if even that much. But it's still hard to not compare yourself to others.

So yeah, I think readathons, readalongs, and reading challenges can each be great for us to get a lot of reading in, or to challenge ourselves to read outside the box or whatever, but I do see how they can have their drawbacks. What do you think about readathons, readalongs, and reading challenges?

Sundays in Bed With...Persepolis

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sundays in Bed With... is a meme/feature started by my friend Kate at Midnight Book Girl, where we can highlight the book that we're spending the day in bed reading (or the one we wish we could be reading all day in bed!).

I'm hoping to spend the day in bed with...

So yesterday I went to Sasquan/WorldCon and met George RR Martin! I'm going back to the convention today for a while for the final day, but I hope to also get some more reading done for the final day of Bout of Books!

What are you spending this Sunday in bed with?  Let me know in the comments, or leave a link to your post if you're participating in this meme and I'll try to stop by your blog!

Mini Review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

Friday, August 21, 2015
Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
SeriesThe Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Pages: 220
Format/Source: Hardback/Purchased 
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction, Retelling
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)

*Warning:  This is a bridge book between books 3 (Cress) and 4 (Winter) in the series. Even though the events in Fairest take place before book 1 (Cinder), Fairest really should be read after Cress. While I really don't like spoilers, you might find some spoilers for the first 3 books in the series in this review.*

As with most sequels, I want to have as few spoilers as possible in my reviews, so I'm just going to make this a mini review and share some of my notes:

  • I LOVE the end papers! SO PRETTY. And until reading this book, I didn't have much of an idea of what Luna looked like in my head.
  • This book doesn't have chapters, just sections split up. Kind of weird, but it didn't bother me too much.
  • I can't remember if we learned before this book that Levana is disfigured. I remember that she always uses glamour to hide her true face, but I don't remember if we were told what she really looks like.
  • For some reason, I thought Winter was younger than Cinder. But in this book, Winter is born before Channary is even pregnant (or very soon after Channary becomes pregnant).
  • I kind of feel like this is a slight, twisted retelling of Frozen. If so, I give Marissa Meyer props for sneaking that retelling in. (Or perhaps it's a slight retelling of The Snow Queen, from which Frozen was loosely adapted.) But I know Levana and Winter's stories are mostly based on Snow White.
  • This book makes Levana more human, and slightly more likable, but she's still incredibly horrible, so she's still a great villain. I LOVE when villains have complex backstories and I'm so glad we're getting Levana's.
  • I love how Winter is totally a feminist. "Maybe the princess can save herself."
  • Some great symbols, irony, and things coming full circle.

My rating for Fairest by Marissa Meyer:

4 big stars. I love this series: it's so complex and intricate! I can't wait for Winter!

Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.
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