The past couple of years, I really delved into audiobooks and discovered that some books I actually prefer as audio books and listening to them as opposed to reading them actually increases my enjoyment of them. This isn’t true for all books, I’m very picky about narrators and some books I would rather just read myself regardless of the narrator. But these are some books I am glad I consumed as audiobooks.
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
This was such an amazing audiobook. The narrator was fantastic at creating the right kind of atmosphere for this book and on top of that, the production of the book was also great. The sound effects used were fantastic and everything came together splendidly. I definitely recommend this as an audiobook and I will be continuing with the series on audio for sure.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
I loved this book, it was so beautiful and funny and just wonderful. But I don’t think I’d have really reached for it in a physical format anytime soon. It’s not really a genre I really read much of and the synopsis really does not do it justice. It sounds kind of boring based on the synopsis in all honesty. but with audiobooks, I tend to branch out more, especially that audible lets you return audiobboks if you don’t like them. So I’m really glad I gave this a try and Fredrik Backman is now up there with Jonas Jonasson on my list of Swedish humour authors I love.
The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb
I read the first book in physical format and it didn’t work for me that well. I found it difficult to get through. Granted, her first series does slug a bit, but just in general, I think her books and her writing style works better for me as audiobooks. And it goes to show that I listened to 6 Elderling books last year, where between reading her first book and her second one, it took me 2 years. So I’m definitely glad I gave this a go on audio, because I do really enjoy the story.
I read a few in 2020 and I want to continue to do that. I find I’m much more inclined to pick non-fiction books as audiobook. I can listen to them while I’m cooking or doing something else and I don’t get bored. I find that if I just sit down to read them, I get bored and I end up not enjoying them and not learning much.
A while back, I re-read some of the early Shadowhunter books and if you’ve read them, you know the first few books are not that well written. So I started this series about weird writing choices (Part 1 | Part 2). I’m currently reading another book from around that time (2008-2010, twilightish era) and they all just have this same vibe. Characterised by tacky, overly dramatic, weird “quirky” writing. So I decided to extend this series from weird phrases, to general writing things that I find irritating. These are observations that I’ve either made in one or more books and I use examples from the books I’ve most recently read, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re exclusive to those books or even that I think those books are bad.
Weird adverbs used to describe speech
One that I particularly noticed in the book I’m currently reading (The Iron King by Julie Kagawa) is “intelligently”. Used when someone interjections basically. For example:
“‘How’re you feeling, princess?’
‘Uh,’ I said intelligently.”
I mean I get what it’s trying to convey, but I just find it jarring and annoying. especially that not every line of dialogue needs a descriptor. Like, if (as in this case) it’s a conversation between two people and they’re the only ones in the room, you only need to qualify who’s speaking at the start of the conversation or if there’s a pause in the conversation, or if the way that someone said something is relevant. Like if their tone of voice changes or something like that. But in this case, it just serves no purpose other than… trying to be funny, I suppose? But not doing a very good job at it.
Another one that actually comes from one of my favourite books story and character-wise (A Court of Mist and Fury), but which upon my latest reread, I found somewhat lacking in the writing department, is “purred”. Everyone’s always purring and that’s just such a weird imagery to me. I know it’s trying to convey a kind of sly, seductive tone of voice, but firstly I can’t understand what about cat purring conveys seduction. To me, it conveys contentment. But leaving that aside… it’s such a weird word to use. I just find myself imagining all sounding like chain smokers or something. There’s no other way for me to marry the sound of purring and the sound of human speech.
Excessive use of nicknames
Also conveniently illustrated by my previous quote. This particular character calls the man character “princess” every single time he addresses her (and yes, I know she really is a princess, but my point is still valid). Look, I get nicknames, pet names whatever. And they’re okay in moderation or if they replace the actual name of the character. But when it’s used ad nauseam, when every single time one character addresses another, they add the nickname… again, it’s jarring, repetitive and serves no real purpose whatsoever. Except making the writing seem tacky. Though I imagine the intention is to make the characters seem quirky.
Excessive or weirdly placed emphasis
This is another one that comes to you courtesy of ACOMAF. There’s so much emphasis, either through repeating a word or phrase (e.g. “He laughed – laughed – out loud for the first time in months”), or through italics (e.g. “He laughed out loud for the first time in months”) or both (e.g. “He laughed – laughed – out loud for the first time in months”). Don’t get me wrong, either of these types of emphasis are not in themselves necessarily bad writing, and when used appropriately can be very useful. But I’ve found that SJM just did it to the extent that the characters constantly seemed in utter disbelief of everything that was happening and it was just jarring. It also made it seem like she doesn’t trust her readers to understand anything that is any way significant unless it’s thoroughly pointed out to them. Which just gets irritating. Emphasis should be used sparingly and your story should highlight significant things without you having to constantly provide emphasis. Just as a general rule of thumb, you should write as if you don’t think that your readers have the intelligence of a pencil case and can figure some stuff out for themselves.
Excessive exposition of character’s emotions
In the same vein, another thing that really stood out to me in ACOMAF and something that I have encountered particularly in YA books is explaining why a character is feeling a certain way in a certain moment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, again, there are circumstances in which that might be the way to go. But when your reader already knows the reasons for those feelings, we don’t need an internal monologue that lays out every single reason why that feeling is being felt. We already know and are capable of empathising without being told every single reason why we should empathise. So for example, if we know that character A has gone through a traumatic event and character B at some point finds out about it or realises how traumatised character A is or whatever, and feels for them. We don’t need an internal monologue that explain to us why character B feels for character A. We already know and generally, as I said, you ought to write as if you expect your readers not to be stupid or incapable of empathy. It just takes up unnecessary word count and it’s just irritating.
This turned out to be a bit longer than I had expected, but that’s it for now. I don’t doubt I’ll be back with more at some point. But for now, let me know about writing choices that you find irritating.
I’ve been in somewhat of a reading slump for the past few weeks, which has been frustrating because I was doing so well with my reading challenge. I was ahead of schedule, I was going to finish it. But now I’m behind schedule and the end of the year is fast approaching. So anyway, I thought I’d break down for you the stages that I go through with reading slumps and I’m sure most of you can relate.
Reading slump? Me? No. Pfft, I never! I’m totally enjoying all the 15 books that I’ve started in the past 3 days. I just like multi-tasking is all. It’s not that I’m in a reading slump, it’s just that I’m too busy. I mean, I would read, but I promised my friend that I’d catch up on the last 4 season of Supernatural and I just can’t let her down like that…
Am I the only one who just straight up bullshits myself when I feel a reading slump coming on? It’s not even that I say these things to other people. I lie to myself. Why? Don’t know. It’s silly and accomplishes nothing. But I do it nevertheless.
I WILL read this book and I WILL enjoy it. I’m gonna finish it. Today. And then I’m gonna start a new one. Do you hear? Stop being so WEAK. Just because you’ve been awake since 5 am is no excuse for you to not read at least like 50 pages tonight, do you even call yourself a reader. SHAME!
Another stupid thing I do. I get mad at myself for not reading. And I think this has partly to do with the fact that I know that I enjoy reading. That it normally provides escapism for me. So when I’ve had a long day or a tough week, I want that escapism. I want the pleasure that reading brings me. Except, I’m not in the mood to read, so I’m not enjoying it and that makes me mad.
Okay, just read like one chapter okay. You’ll see, you’re gonna get really into it if you just read a whole chapter. Really, come on. Just… one more page, okay. Just read until the end of this scene and then you can maybe pick up one of those other 14 books you started and give that a shot? Or, you could even start a new one. I mean look at all those shiny, unopened books. Full of possibilities!
This is usually when I spend an hour just staring at my books and trying to decide which one to read. I usually end up with a pile of them on my bed and I open each one in turn and try to convince myself to read.
What’s the point anymore. I’m never going to get to all these books on my TBR and now the one’s I’ve already started are probably ruined forever and I won’t ever enjoy them. I just wasted money on them. I’m not a reader anymore. Who even am I?
Sometimes, being in a reading slump really upsets me. I’m not getting the escapism that I want, so the things that are already weighing on me, weigh all the more. And on top of that, there’s the (albeit irrational and unfounded) fear that I’m never going to enjoy reading again and that I’ve lost not only my favourite source of entertainment, but also part of myself. Which is absurd. But can’t argue with emotions.
Fuck it, I’m watching TV.
This is almost invariably what I end up doing instead and it’s when I finally get to this point where I just enjoy other sources of entertainment that I start craving books again.
This is usually the progression of my reading slumps. Let me know how reading slumps go for you and how you deal with them?
I actually had a pretty good reading year this year. I didn’t read many books that I really didn’t like, so a lot of the books on this list I actually enjoyed and rated quite highly, but they disappointed me because I was just expecting to enjoy them more than I did. This list is in the order in which I read the books.
Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh
I gave this one 2.5/5 stars. It wasn’t bad, it was just really meh for me. I wanted more from it. I didn’t care much about the characters and the story was pretty predictable. I did really enjoy the setting, I thought that was well done. I have a full review of it if you’re interested.
Pale Highway by Nicholas Conley
This was a very weird book. I’m not even sure how to summarise my thoughts on it. It’s just… weird. I gave it 2/5 stars. I do have a review of it, where I try to explain how weird this book is without spoiling it, so you can check that out.
A Toaster on Mars by Darell Pitt
This was a fun book to read. I enjoyed it. But it’s just so forgettable. I don’t remember much about it beyond a robot dog pooping silicone poop. That was the most hilarious thing to me in the whole book and it’s what stuck with me. I gave it 3/5 stars and I have a review of this one as well.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
We all know how I feel about this book. If you don’t, I have both a spoiler free review and a spoiler-filled rant telling you how much and why I hated this book. It was just tacky and tropey and boring and stupid. I gave it 1/5 stars.
Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
The other major disappointment of the year. This was even worse than Caraval. It was so bad, it took me 6 months to finish and the only reason I finished it was so I could rant about it. Which I did. I also have a spoiler free review of it. I gave it 1/5 stars and if I could give it less, I would.
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
I did really like this book. I think I gave it 4/5 stars. However, I had huge expectations from it and it really didn’t deliver, which is why it was a disappointing read. I had some issues with some of the things that happened and with the pacing and with some other things as well. I talk about those in more detail in my spoiler free review and in my discussion posts if you’d like to know.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Another one that was really enjoyable, but after reading Six of Crows, it just really couldn’t live up to it. I think I also gave this one 4/5 stars. I have a spoiler free review of it.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
And yet another one that I did enjoy, but nowhere near as much as I thought I would, which landed it on this list. I really didn’t read that many books that I hated this year, what can I say. I think I’m becoming pretty good at picking books I’m going to enjoy. I believe I gave this one 3.5/5 stars. I also have a review of it.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
This is the one I’m the most sad for not enjoying as much as I might have, because I think the main reason this disappointed me had nothing to do with the book and everything to do with when I read it. I ended up giving it 4/5 stars, even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as a 4 star book. But I just knew that had I read it at a different time, it might even have been a 5 star read. It was fun, it was magical, it was well written… Hopefully I’ll time reading the subsequent books better and enjoy them more. Full review.
Duplicity by Sibel Hodge
Closing off with a books that really was bad. This book was one big cliche wrapped with a bow. I was so annoyed with it by the end of the book. The only reason I even completed it was because I audiobooked it, so I just listened to it while doing chores. I gave it 1.5/5 stars because of the epilogue which was slightly less predictable and boring than the rest of the book.
***SPOILER ALERT*** This is book two in the series and therefore the synopsis and this review might contain spoilers for the first book. If you have read the first book, or don’t mind some spoilers, proceed.
Synopsis: The world is divided by blood. The common folk, with red blood and the nobility, with Silver blood that affords them special abilities.
After escaping from Maven and his mother, Mare, Cal and the Scarlet Guard set out to find the other people like Mare: Red and Silver at once.
This is probably the biggest gap in rating I have ever had with two books in the same series. I enjoyed Red Queen. I’m not sure whether it was because I was relatively new to the world of YA literature when I read it and I have now grown as a consumer of this genre and I am more critical of it, or because this one was just worse than the first one. I suspect it’s a bit of both.
I did not like this book at all. It was a chore to read. The only positive thing I have to say about it is that it has a really beautiful cover. As you can tell by my synopsis, not much happens in it. It doesn’t have a plot-line to speak of and it’s just a long, boring and very annoying introduction to the next book.
However, this lack of plot is not even the reason I disliked it as much as I did. The reason for my dislike was mare. The most insufferable, entitled, self-pitying, spoiled, selfish brat of a character I ever did come across. I don’t remember her being such a bitch in the first book. Mare Barrow has de-throned America Singer from The Selection series as the most obnoxious character ever.
It’s funny, because in my video review of Red Queen, I called it “The Selection done right”. Well, not anymore. After reading Glass Sword, I prefer The Selection. At least that was just… silly. And it was actually entertaining to read.
Everything in this book was about Mare. Like she was the most important person in the whole universe. She fancies herself to be such a badass, such a leader, such an important, special snowflake. Just thinking about her makes me want to punch her. I honestly just wanted Maven to win. Just straight out. The ending, the last 3 phrases were the most satisfying of this entire book. And that is all I will say.
None of the other characters had any real substance and the few times they said or did something resembling a personality (usually about Mare), our special snowflake threw a temper tantrum. There is this one scene where Mare gets angry with this one girl and she thinks something along the lines of “all I could think about was educating this brat”. I nearly threw the book across the room at that point. It just made me so angry because Mare was the biggest brat there and also the other girl (one of the first to show any hint of personality) was actually right.
I could go on and on about how much I hate Mare Barrow. But I don’t want this review to turn into more of a rant than it already is. I usually try to express my opinions as professionally as I can in my reviews, but this book and this character has made me so angry that I just felt like I needed to say it. I would not have hated the book as much if it weren’t for this character. It was meh when it came to the plot, but Mare just made me angry. I cannot get behind her attitude and her entitlement.
Synopsis:Every year, Blue accompanies her psychic mother to the “corpse road”, a line where one night a year, the spirits of the soon-to-be dead walk by. She is used to hearing her mother ask the names of people only she can see, but what she doesn’t expect is to see one of them herself.
His name is Gansey, one of the rich students of Aglionby Accademy, also known as Raven Boys. Blue has a strict policy of staying away from Raven Boys, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Gansey and his friends.
Blue has always been told that if she kisses her true love he will die. It never really concerned her before, but as she is drawn into the boys’ strange quest, she begins to wonder if she hasn’t been wrong.
This was a strange book. The synopsis was quite misleading, it was really not what I expected. I expected it to be high fantasy for some reason. I tried to summarize it as best I could, but I haven’t done a particularly good job either. It’s a hard book to summarize because there is a LOT going on in it.
It had a pretty slow start and it was very confusing for the most part. It was very vague. Everything was vague. I don’t really know how to explain the vagueness of it. When something was explained, it didn’t really clear anything up. Sort of like talking to a psychic. I don’t know whether that was intentional or not but it seemed to fit the story well. Still, it was a bit frustrating.
Paranormal is not really my favourite genre when it comes to books, but this is hands down the best paranormal I’ve ever read. Despite the vagueness and the confusion, it made me very curious and I remained engaged with the story throughout. I think its main fault was that there was so much introduced at once, so many threads that were left hanging. Something would be hinted at, but then dropped. I’m sure those things are addressed in the following books, but they made this book much more difficult to read and enjoy.
I liked the characters a lot. They were all quirky in their own way and sometimes they were absurd and ridiculous which added a lot of humour to the book. And I liked that they were all unique and had very individual personalities. Sometimes, it feels like you’re reading about the same character only with different names and descriptions, but this wasn’t a problem in this book. You could clearly tell who was talking without being told, just by the way they said it and they behaved.
I liked the mythology of it. It was really cool. Usually, I get bored with the mythology in paranormal, but this was cool and interesting and unlike what I’ve encountered before. I look forward to reading the other ones, because if nothing else, this book managed to make me really curious.
I don’t know about you guys, but I love darker characters and I’m a total sucker for an antihero or a really good villain. So I decided to try and recommend books based on the seven deadly sins.
For this one I have to go with The Schwarzschild Radius by Gistavo Florentin. This is a very brutal and pretty graphic book that centers predominantly on lust and human perversion. This one comes with a warning label though. If you’re easily triggered by violence and sexual abuse or if you simply don’t have a very strong stomach, best sit this one out.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. A lot of bad things happen in this one because of someone’s gluttony. The Chronicles of Narnia were a big part of my childhood and this one was one of my favourite ones. In case you haven’t read the other ones, they don’t necessarily need to e read in order to make sense. So if you’re on the line about reading them, I recommend giving this one a try and then deciding.
There are literally hundreds of books with characters that are driven by greed, but I choose Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. This is the book I’m currently reading and it’s AWESOME! Seriously, if you haven’t read it, what are you doing?
It has been surprisingly difficult for me to come up with a good recommendation for this. The first thing that sprang to mind was Mycroft Holmes from the Sherlock Holmes books. He is a very minor character in the stories, but he is the most notoriously lazy character I have ever come across. But if you want a book with a lazy main character, I recommend The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Dorian is a lot of things, but he is also a lazy little bum.
Fire by Kristic Cashore. There’s a lot of fear and envy that lead to hatred in this book. While this is the second companion published in the Graceling series, it can be read as a standalone. Reading Graceling first might shed a tiny bit of light a couple of things, but it’s really not necessary to read it before.
Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba. Light Yagami pretty much takes the cake for hubris. If you’re not really into anime/manga though, I also recommend the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. It’s a series I love and Artemis has more pride per square inch than he has square inches.
Goodreads Synopsis: There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.
After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can’t refuse.
I was very, very pleasantly surprised by this book. I loved it. I got it as a free Kindle ebook, and I usually don’t have much faith in those. I download them anyway, because I am a book hoarder and I am incapable of passing up a free book. But this one was a rare gem. And I think it’s still free of Kindle, so I fully recommend you go download it.
Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of chick-lit, but this one was really well done. It was funny, it was sweet, it was just the right amount of sexy, it had some mystery, it had some crazy and a bit of a Quentin Tarantino vibe going for it.
The first thing I noticed and really appreciated is that there was no obnoxious insta-love. There were some sparks flying when our two characters met, but it was the reasonable kind of attraction that is plausible and does happen. You know, the kind with blushes and babbling nonsense, not the kind where two people who’ve just met have elevator sex.
I loved the two main characters. Janie was awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever identified with a MC in a romance ever in my life. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve identified with any character ever as much as I did with her. She’s nuts, but she’s so funny and her discourse is intelligent. I really enjoyed her voice. Then there’s Quin, or Sir Handsome McHotpants. I really liked him as a love interest. He wasn’t boring, or self-righteous and I’ve always been a sucker for a bit of a bad boy.
Another great thing is that there was more than just the romance going on, plot-wise. Often in romance novels, the only thing that seems to happen is the romance. But here, there was a bit of a mystery vibe going on. I really found myself excited to find out what was going on, because I wasn’t really sure.Which is a rare occurrence with romance, because it’s almost always some variation of “they get together and live happily ever after”. Which, of course is what happened here as well, but it was refreshing to have something other than that going on.
This really was “a smart romance”. The writing was smart, the characters was smart and it was very funny and very witty and I really recommend it. I am looking forward to reading the sequel.
Synopsis: Saskia lives in a city divided between the four races: humans, Blood, Beast and Fae. The treaty that keeps a fragile peace in the city is about to be re-negotiated. Saskia is human and a metalmage and her family expects her to live a safe life, befitting a noble human like her. But when Fen walks into her life along with an opportunity to do something for her City, Saskia jumps in regardless of what her family thinks.
*This is the third book in the series. The first and second aren’t strictly necessary for understanding this one, but they are recommended. This review is spoiler free.
The problem with this series is that it’s very repetitive. The overarching political plot is quite interesting and the reason I have read so far into the series and the reason I intend to finish it. But the individual plot of each book, is nearly identical. Especially the romance aspect of it. It’s like Scott used a stencil and just substituted the appropriate names in each novel.
The world and setting are pretty cool and, if not unique, definitely remarkable. It’s a mixture of medieval with steampunk and paranormal and fantasy. It’s an interesting combination and I really love the world and I’ve really enjoyed learning more about it throughout the series. The main plot is very political in nature and centers around the various power plays of the different species.
The first book, Shadow Kin, was my favourite in the series from every point of view. It had the best characters and the plot-line was new, so I didn’t roll my eyes as much, despite the insta-love. Which is a major element in all of them. But even the romance was the best in this one. Moving past the insta-love, or insta-super-attraction, I could really see it and I could see the characters growing together.
Iron Kin, was in my opinion, the worst in the series. The main character, Saskia was whiny and annoying and while I liked Fen, I didn’t feel like his potential was explored. At all. It also didn’t feel like much happened in this book besides the romance between Fen and Saskia. And it wasn’t even a good one. It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t sexy, I didn’t feel it at all. I didn’t like it. Everything that did happen, happened in the last third of the book and it sort of felt like the purpose of this book was to set up the events of the next one.
Still, I am curious what will happen next, as the ending of the book left a lot of questions. I didn’t really expect what happened to happen. I would say that overall, this series has a pretty interesting plot and setting, but as an individual book, Iron Kin wasn’t very good. I will still read the final book in the series, because I’m just curious what happens.
Have you read any of the books in the series? What were your thoughts?