Author Archives: books&biblio

About books&biblio

Librarian-in-training, Girl Scout Leader, (former) homeschooling mom.

Reading Challenges of 2018

Another year, another round of reading challenges! Serious reading happened last year, and more of the same will happen this year. I have challenges to complete and TBRs to clear. I’m sure I will hit burn out before June because I will be taking the final two classes needed for my graduate degree during the spring semester. I should probably only take one class, but I really, really want to be done with it.

Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge
I have completed this challenge every year it’s been offered and have always managed to find categories completely out of my comfort zone and new books to fall in love with. Admittedly, when I first saw the list for 2018 I was a bit underwhelmed because very few of the categories felt like a stretch, but after spending time trying to find books, I warmed up to it. As with previous years, there are several categories that are a bit tricky, specifically #2 – True crime, #9 – Colonial/post-colonial, #13 – Oprah book club, and #20 – Book with a cover you hate. I really hope that reading challenges will slow down on using Oprah as a category because I’m starting to run out of books on her list I find remotely interesting. I also have an issue with “a cover you hate” because it is just so subjective.

To counteract my complaining, there are categories I am excited to read: all three comics categories (#4, #8, and #18), #3 – Genre fiction classic, #16 – first book in new to you MG/YA series, and #17 – Sci-fi with female author and protagonist.

As for reading companions, my husband has no interest in participating. Paraphrasing, he does not want to be told what to read. Sophia will be participating, but will be doing her own thing in regard to blog posts, most likely posting only when she gets to the halfway mark and then when she completes it.

PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge
Last year, I completed 55 of 56 challenges. It will most likely be the same this year given how much time I spend inside my house (advanced list, #3 – Being read by a stranger in a public place). As with last year, some of the categories are going to be tough to find books for, either because it is a genre I have no interest in (#2 – True crime, #5 – Nordic noir, #23 – Also a stage play/musical, and #38 – Ugly cover) or because the topic is somewhat obscure (advanced list, #4 – Tied to your ancestry and #6 – Allegory).

I am not planning on rushing PopSugar, and will try not to get mentally tied into completing it within a certain time frame. I will pick at it until I am finished with my degree, and then I’ll knock it out.

YALSA’s The Hub Reading Challenge
This will be my third year participating, and I am impatiently waiting for the list to come out (probably late January/early February). I would like to read between 25-35 books, as I have in previous years, but my final tally depends on what books are on the list. It was hit or miss last year in regard to books I had an interest in reading. I do like that this challenge pushes me beyond what I normally read in YA, and I have found hidden gems, but as with any challenge that pushes the comfort zone boundary some reads are rougher than others.

Emma’s Amazon TBR Challenge
I still have over 1000 books on my Amazon TBR list, but I did manage to make a small dent in it in 2017 – 127 books to be exact. I am hoping to get at least that number read this year. I didn’t add too many books to my list because I stopped reading my normal blogs and websites.

Amazon TBR – December (Part 1)

2017 ends with my Amazon TBR list 127 books lighter. This number is relative given the list is over 1000 books long and I’ve managed to add more to it. My net reduction is probably closer to 70. That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing how many more books I can knock off in 2018.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick
This was a sweet book about a widower coming to terms with his grief at his wife’s passing, and his inability to leave his comfort zone of daily routine (to the detriment of his relationships with his children and neighbors). The charm bracelet was the impetus for each aspect of his adventure – in learning about her hidden past and in learning about new facets of himself. The novel itself was nothing groundbreaking, but sometimes it’s nice to read a book where the main character becomes a better version of themselves.

Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin
It took me several weeks to finish reading Gunpowder Alchemy. I was initially excited because steampunk set in Asia? Yes, please! The mechanics of the technology were fascinating, but I just didn’t connect with Jin Soling or her story. While it was well-written, it just didn’t grab me.

 

That Wolf-Boy is Mine by Youko Nogiri
A four volume manga about the relationship between a recently transferred high school student and one of the most popular boys at her new school. She learns his secret – he can transform into a wolf. Que the relationship and ensuing drama. Overall, it was a cute story with an interesting twist between the two main characters, however it wasn’t amazing.

Waste of Space by Gina Damico
Hellhole is still my favorite novel by Damico, but Waste of Space is in second place. Her humor is dry and satirical, and pokes fun at the ludicrousness that is reality television. It took me a bit of time to warm up to it, but once the story got going, I enjoyed it immensely. My favorite character(s) is toss up between Chaz and the NASAW scientists

Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
I’ve been on something of a Holly Black kick recently, and have enjoyed most of her books (I did like or finish Doll Bones). While Darkest Part of the Forest was not my favorite, it was still a good read, with a darkly creative spin on the coexistence of humans and fairies. I have a penchant for fairy tales that focus on the dark underbelly fairies and not on the pretty sparkles. There is always a price for dealing with fairies, and Darkest focuses on that complicated web and the ramifications it has on those involved..

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
I put this on my list because I liked Seven Black Diamonds, and while (again) Marr’s idea was interesting, how the story was written was staunchly mediocre. I kept listening with the hope it would get better, but it didn’t. The characters were boring and I didn’t particularly care about their situations.

 

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
I haven’t decided how I feel about this book. The whole thing felt like a novel-length set up for the actual plot. On the one hand it was incredibly slow and nothing much actually happened. On the other hand, the glimpses of future Tea and her actions were great. She’ll either be a villain or an anti-hero in the next book, but it would have been better if this had manifested earlier in the book, or of the present/past had been done a better set up. We know she wanted revenge, but no motive was given at any point during the novel.

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul
Even though I have very limited cultural understanding of Koul’s experiences, I really enjoyed her insights, sense of humor, and writing style. Pretty much all of us can relate to the complicated dynamic between parents and children regardless of our backgrounds. The part that stood out the most to me, and the part I most related to, was her essay on rape and  rape culture.

DNF

Someone to Love by Mary Balogh
I liked Balogh’s Bedwyn Saga and Simply Quartet, and assumed I would like this one as well. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to because I did not care for Anna. She wasn’t bad per se, but I didn’t have any sympathy for her situation. I cared more about the lives of her sisters and brother because their lives were upended for the worse. I would have liked to hear their stories, not Anna’s. I also found Anna to be somewhat condescending towards the upper class and the rules that dictate society.

Gilded Cage by Vic James
This was not a bad book, but more that I am getting jaded of YA dystopian books. They’ve all started blending together and feel like only slight variations of the same theme. The Us vs. Them mentality is superficial and lacks depth. There is an infinite amount of gray, which is much more interesting, so it makes no sense that authors stick with black and white.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
I lasted a whopping eight minutes into this audiobook before I wanted to stab my ears. Part of me kept hoping it was really clever satire, but then I realized that it was supposed to be straight. I probably should have stopped listening as soon as the main character started waxing poetic about “mommy wine”. She was so very, very modern mom cliché, and that type of mom makes me want to hurl.

December Books

With 2017 finished, I managed over 400 books, about half of which were audiobooks (which is why I managed 400 books in the first place).

Audiobooks (24)

Most of my audiobooks were not for Amazon TBR. Dad is Fat was hilarious. Jim Gaffigan has a good peg on what it’s like to be a parent. Some Danger Involved was an interesting start to a late Victorian era murder mystery series. I liked it enough that I would read more books, but not so much that I would buy the books. The same goes for Fated, though this was urban fantasy. Rebel Queen was surprisingly good. I liked that the main character was not the rebel queen herself, but was one of her security guards. On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service was surprisingly good, in large part because Queenie wasn’t in it. She is one of the most obnoxious characters, and I hope she does not return as Georgie’s maid. Mermaids and the Vampires Who Love Them was alright – a YA mystery involving mythical creatures. It would have been a better read than listen as I do not particularly care for the narrator. She is good as part of an ensemble, but not as the sole narrator. I have mixed feelings on God is Disappointed in You. On the one hand, it was a a funny, but accurate interpretation of the Bible. One the other hand, there were parts that were not entertaining and felt like a chore to get through. There were times that God came across as an emotionally/physically abusive spouse.

Novels (9)


Most of the books were read for my Amazon TBR. As for the two books that weren’t TBR related, The Strange Case of Finley Jane was decent – better than The Girl in the Steel Corset; and Eternally Yours was a somewhat disappointing finish to an otherwise good trilogy.

Manga (4)

Emma’s PopSugar 2017

I managed to finish the PopSugar Ultimate Reading Challenge faster than I did in 2016. Instead of waiting until after 11pm on December 31st to finish my final book (Why Women Should Rule the World by Dee Dee Myers), I finished my final book in September (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern). I read all but four books in the first five months of the year, picking at the remainder because reading challenge burnout.

2017 was another year of expanded horizons, though I don’t feel as if I expanded them as much this year as last year because many of the books fell into my comfort zone. That being said, there were still categories that caused anxiety, such as bestseller, not from your usual genre, has career advice, and 800+ pages. Those ones were particularly hard because 1.) many bestsellers are written by authors I have no interest in reading, 2.) I don’t really need career advice because I am exactly where I want to be professionally, and 3.) I didn’t have the mental patience to read an 800 page book that wasn’t Outlander, and I didn’t want to do a reread. I debated reading Sarum (read when I was around 13 years old), but by that point in the year, I was burned out and didn’t want an in-depth book to keep track of.

Favorites

Kindred by Octavia Butler
(task #5 – Person of color author)
I loved Butler’s Xenogenesis/Lillith’s Brood trilogy, so I thought I would give another one of her books a try. Time travel is one of my preferred genres, and the concept of Kindred seemed interesting – a modern African American woman traveling back to antebellum Maryland multiple times for the purpose of keeping her white, slaveholding ancestor alive. Dana’s journeys were always a mix fascinating and horrifying. She had to learn to navigate the reality of being a slave while attempting to keep herself psychologically separate from it. Almost 11 months have passed since I read Kindred, and it is still with me. I plan on reading it again, and have been trying to get my husband to read it.

Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell
(task #10 – Cat on the cover)
This is the best book I’ve read in the RPG sub-genre. It takes the concept and twists it a bit, placing the main character, Jason, as the villain of the newly launched MMORPG, Awaken Online. He has to grapple with what real life has thrown at him, and with his growing realization that he has been cast as the villain online by the AI that runs the game. Both Jason and his adversaries exist in a gray zone, which adds to the interest level when aspects of  real life and online life collide. I’ve since listened to the sequel, which was almost as good as Catharsis.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
(task #19 – About food)
The basic premise of this book: private chef is kidnapped by pirate and forced to serve her an elegant dinner every Sunday. Food played a central roll, of course, and Owen, the chef, must get creative in coming up with a worthy meal while at sea on a minimally equipped pirate ship. However, my favorite aspect was watching Owen grow as a character. He started out with a very rigid and narrow worldview, but even with the brutality he saw and dealt with, he ended up accepting and embracing the fact that nothing is strictly black and white. People who might seem good on the surface are really cruel, and vice versa. It turned out to be a really lovely book.

Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
(#17 – Involving a mythical creature)
My sister has been after me for a long while to read this, and I finally broke down because I realized it fit a needed category. I’ve read books by Seanan McGuire, but couldn’t get into her writing style. However, I absolutely loved Rolling in the Deep. Yes, you already know how the book is going to end before it even starts – that’s kind of the point. What makes the story fun and exciting is how it gets there. She did a fantastic job with her mermaids. No buxom beauties here, but instead, highly evolved deep sea predators.

Honorable Mentions:  My Holiday in North Korea, The Bees, Slaughterhouse Five, Norse Mythology, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Hotel Ruby, Pines

Completed Tasks

1. Library recommendation – Geekerella by Ashley Poston
2. Been on my TBR list way too long – Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
3. Book of letters – The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
4. Audiobook – Pines by Blake Crouch
5) Person of color author – Kindred by Octavia Butler
6. One of four seasons in title – Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
7.) Story within a story – The Marvels by Brian Selznick
8.) Multiple authors – My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
9.) Espionage thriller – Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
10.) Cat on the cover – Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell
11.) Author uses a pseudonym – Feed by Mira Grant
12.) Bestseller, not from usual genre – All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
13.) Author/main character has disability – El Deafo by Cece Bell
14.) Involving travel – My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons
15.) Book with a subtitle – The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
16.) Published in 2017 – Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones
17.) Involving mythical creature – Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
18.) Reread never fails to make me smile – Bum Voyage by David Greer
19.) About food – Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
20.) Has career advice – The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
21.) Book from nonhuman perspective – The Bees by Laline Paull
22.) Steampunk – The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
23.) Has a red spine – Fatherland: A Family History by Nina Bunjavec
24.) Set in the wilderness – The Revenant by Michael Punke
25.) Loved as a child – Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
26.) Author from a country you’ve never visited – Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff
27.) Title as character’s name – Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
28.) Set during wartime – The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
29.) Unreliable narrator – Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
30.) Book with pictures – The Singing Bones by Shawn Tan
31.) Main character different ethnicity than me – Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev
32.) About an interesting woman – Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell by Janet Wallach
33.) Set in two different time periods – Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
34.) Month/day of week in title – One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
35.) Set in a hotel – Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young (also known as Hotel for the Lost)
36.) Written by someone I admire – Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
37.) Becoming a movie in 2017 – Ten by Gretchen McNeil
38.) Set around non-Christmas holiday – Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie
39.) First book in new to you series – Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
40.) Book bought on a trip – Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal

Completed Tasks (Advanced)

1.) Book recommendation by loved author – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2.) 2016 bestseller – Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill
3.) Family member term in title – The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
4.) Takes place over character’s life span – The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
5.) About immigrant/refugee – The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
6.) Genre/sub-genre you’ve never heard of – The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
7.) Eccentric character – Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace
8.) 800+ pages – Winter by Marissa Meyer
9.) Bought at used book sale – The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
10.) Book mentioned in another book – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
11.) About a difficult topic – This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
12.) Based on mythology – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Amazon TBR – November (Part 2)

Dove Arising by Karen Bao
I liked how Dove handled her situation – joining the military to keep her siblings from having to move to the slums of the base, even though her rise through the ranks felt somewhat tropy. I did not like her mother, and had little sympathy for her because of how the consequences of her multiple actions negatively impacted her children. I also didn’t like how she treated Dove after Dove bailed her out of jail; very selfish and ungrateful. Ultimately though, I didn’t have a strong enough connection with characters or their plight to read the remaining books in this series.

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron
Told through the parallel, but connecting stories of modern archaeologist, Rosamund Gale, and the Neanderthal, Girl, who must survive after losing her family. Both characters were sympathetic, with Rose battling to maintain her authority as an archaeologist and rights to discovery while being shoved off her dig because of her pregnancy; and Girl, who after being forced to leave her family because of transgression, must try to survive a cruel winter in a land where family can mean life or death.

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Eh. This was alright. I realized that I am not a fan of the rich teenagers who party and back stab each other genre. The characters weren’t interesting, and it felt like their actions and relationships existed for the sole purpose of causing drama. I also had issues with the step-sibling incest being portrayed as the “right” relationship for two of the characters, and the fact that sexism and slut-shaming was very much alive and well.

Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed by Anna Campbell
Pushing logic aside, I was swept up in the Beauty & the Beast-ness of this story. It was well done, and the pacing was fairly even. I also liked both characters. That’s not to say there weren’t issues with Seven Nights, specifically regarding Jonas’ initial intentions, and how he reacted both times Sidonie withholds information from him, but it was engaging enough that the critical part of my brain glossed over those details, allowing me to enjoy the story.

Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr
This wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t amazing either. It was an interesting concept, but the characters didn’t grab my attention enough to care about them. I’ve since listened to/attempted to listen to two other of Melissa Marr’s books, but felt the same way about them as well. She will not be an author I revisit.

Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas
Louisa was a fascinating biography about an intelligent and creative woman who was restricted by society’s expectations even as she had amazing opportunities because of her marriage. She seemed to make the best of her situation given she did not have the freedoms modern women enjoy. It is yet another book involving a Founding Father that sheds them in a not necessarily flattering light. While I am aware of the social dynamics of the time, it’s still a bit shocking to see how the FFs treated the women in their lives, i.e. not very well. Adams was emotionally abusive and completely gaslighted Louisa.

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
I read A Thousand Pieces of You earlier this year, and while her imagined multiverse was fascinating, the story itself was only marginally interesting. I had a bit of trepidation over this book because of that. However, I was pleasantly surprised to read well-written and interesting story, to the point that I will read the sequel when it comes out next year. I want to learn more about the conspiracy Naomi and Abel discovered. I want to know what the next life chapter has in store for both characters as well as various secondary characters.

A Separation by Katie Kitimura
I seem to be in the minority of actually liking this book. It’s odd, and slow-paced, and it was more about the main character working through her emotions in regard to her estranged husband and the things she felt he kept hidden from her than anything of note actually happening (other than the husband’s disappearance). The narrative bounces between the present and past by way of explaining the dynamic between the main character and her husband. It’s not a thriller by any means, just a book about people dealing with their less than perfect lives.

DNF

The Dark Net by Benjamin Percy
I absolutely loved Red Moon, but I wasn’t able to get into The Dark Net. It was an interesting idea, but the descriptions and adjectives felt a bit purple.

The Aisles Have Eyes by Joseph Turow
I listened to less than two hours before I gave up. It just wasn’t interesting. It seemed like the author was just rehashing what is already about there in terms of research and anecdotal stories in regards consumer’s shopping habits and how companies influence those habits.

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Frances was an unlikable character who was poorly written. While I enjoy reading about unlikable characters, if they aren’t done right, it ruins the story. There was more focus on her lust for Grey than for her anger at her parents’ and friend’s deaths. Plus her actions were whiny, broody teenager and not well-planned revenge.

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
I managed about 15 minutes of listening before I got annoyed with Nikki. The set up was supposed to pull the reader in, but instead made me think of what an idiot she was. I decided to read the descriptions/reviews of the other two books and realized that I would not be able to handle the stupidity and poor decisions of Nikki et al over three books.

Husband’s Books: 2017 3rd Quarter

I am running late on my husband’s third quarter post – this is turning into a theme. As with the last quarter, I really want to get his thoughts on the books, but haven’t because my computer room is a disaster area. My husband refuses to step foot in it, and tries to ignore that a doorway exists there at all. So tonight I finally broke down and asked him, and his response was to squinch his eyes at me and ask if it’s for my blog. When I answered yes, he squinched them further and went back to whatever he was doing on the iPad. I should possibly give up on trying to get any words of wisdom out of him that doesn’t involve politics, fireworks, or beer.

2017 1st Quarter
2017 2nd Quarter

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Island of the Lost by Joan Druett
Ancient Brews: Rediscovered and Re-created by Patrick E. McGovern
Anthem by Ayn Rand
The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel by Terry Pratchett
The Lost Book of Mormon by Avi Steinberg
Mars Rover Curiosity by Rob Manning
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson
The Third Chipmanzee by Jared Diamond
The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Amazon TBR – November (Part 1)

I managed to knock out another 50 books from my Amazon list, as well as a few more. In the whole scheme of things, I have not really made much of a dent, but it feels good to delete books, shortening two out of three of my TBR lists (I try to cap them at 500 books).

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris
I’m a sucker for the villain/anti-hero, and Loki is a consummate villain/anti-hero. The Gospel of Loki is Norse mythology as told from the perspective of Loki, making him the not entirely trusted (or trustworthy) outsider who was just trying to be accepted by the others. That is the justification Loki gives readers for many of his deceits and pranks. He is witty and sly and a completely unreliable narrator.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
This was interesting, but at the same time a bit overwhelming because it was a lot of scientific information that I have a tenuous grasp on at best being thrown at me. I love Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I enjoyed learning about astrophysics. Unfortunately, I do not remember anything I listened to. That is not his fault, but rather my own because I can’t digest that type of scientific information that quickly. I would have been better off reading the actual book instead of listening to it.

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
My favorite C.S. Lewis book, a retelling of Cupid and Psyche from the perspective of Psyche’s older sister. I read this book for a college class 14 years ago, and remember being enthralled by it. Since then, it has been sitting on the back burner as a book to be revisited. My perception of the story has definitely changed since then. I still enjoyed the book deeply, but I did not have the same sort of connection to it. I’m assuming that is because at that time, I was lost and disconnected after my separation from the military, and felt an emotional kinship with Orual. I no longer feel that kinship, but I can understand her emotions and motivations. it is not a light read, but a worthwhile one.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
I debated DNF’ing this book, but am glad I stuck out all 24 hours of listening time (though admittedly, I listed to it at 2x speed so it only took me 12 hours). The book was slow and meandering, and could have lost about half of its page count without any content issues. It would have been a much tighter, and better paced story if most of the middle disappeared. That being said, I don’t have a strong interest in reading the other two books.

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
I didn’t know what to think of this book when I started listening to it. Nas was a shallow party girl who occasionally had flashes of self-awareness. However, her growing realization of how unsustainable her life is coupled with her sense of humor pulled me in. Immortal Beloved and its sequel, Darkness Falls were great and both had an amazing narrator. The third book, Eternally Yours, was not available in audio format, and was also the weakest of the three.

Wax by Gina Damico
I didn’t like Wax as much as Hellhole, but it was still pretty good. I liked the dynamic between Poppy and Dud. I liked the ludicrousness of Poppy’s notoriety. The blend of humor and odd/wtf situations are why I like Damico’s books – sentient wax? a heroine forever scarred by The Sound of Music? Yes. It’s weird and entertaining.

Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gillman
It took me a while to understand and enjoy this book. It was an interesting look at Schroedinger’s cat, and at our senses and how we perceive the world through them. I was incredibly curious about the inhabitants of Iris – how they evolved the way they did, how did they discover their ability to travel the way they did – though this was never touched on, much to the detriment of the novel. The end, however, didn’t really feel like an end. It worked as a stopping point, but left too many unanswered questions. In addition to the ones regarding the inhabitants of Iris, there was never any speculation about why space was so anomalous around Iris. Why was it so special/different?

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe by Laurence Bergreen
I am going to start off with the fact that I never knew Magellan died during this voyage. He came up with the idea, secured the funding, ships, and crew, but was killed in the Philippines. If this is something I learned in school, I sure as heck to not remember it. That being said, it was interesting to read about the voyage and the dynamic Magellan had with his crew. I liked that the author was able to pull as much primary source information as he did.

DNF

Discovery of Desire by Susanne Lord
I did not make it very far into this book before I had to give up. I really, really liked the idea – an explorer trying to find his missing sister in India; a woman seeking marriage to an unknown man in order to stay with her sister, who is set to marry a British officer stationed in India. I couldn’t get past Seth’s behavior, continually acting either the fool or like a yokel. He was presented in that light within the narrative as well, and it grated on my nerves to no end.

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki
I’ve always been interested in Sisi because her life seemed incredibly dramatic. I ended up DNFing this book halfway through. I couldn’t handle the oversimplifications of character, and how if felt like the negative behaviors were focused on at the expense of other characteristics in order to increase the drama. I lost my patience with the whole thing when Sisi gave birth to her first baby. I all for romance, but I would have liked to have had some solid history interwoven instead of it only being about the gossip and poor little Sisi and the big bad MIL.

Frostblood by Elly Blake
This was every YA dystopian us vs. them trope novel ever written. It was boring and uninteresting, and was the concept was not being rehashed in a creative, new way. I didn’t care about Ruby or her situation. It was just so bland.

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black
I only made to 40 pages. 40 pages in, and the story was still being set up, every chapter from the perspective of a different character. Nothing that furthered the plot actually happened. Between that and the fact that neither the writing style nor characters drew me in, I had no interest in finishing the book.