Wrap-Ups and Readathons

My January 2015 Wrap-Up

It is the end of January already (well, by the time this is up it’ll be the start of February, but same difference) and it’s about time I posted my monthly wrap-up!

Firstly, I once again failed on my monthly TBR (surprise, surprise). Of the ten books, I finished four… exactly the same amount as I did in December. At least I’m consistent! The lucky four were ‘Keeper of the Lost Cities’ by Shannon Messenger, ‘Uglies’ by Scott Westerfeld, ‘Into the Still Blue’ by Veronica Rossi and ‘Silksinger’ by Laini Taylor. These four books received very mixed reviews, as you’ll see below. Despite the fact that I constantly fail at my 10-book monthly TBRs, I am determined to continue them, as I wrote about in my Trouble With TBRs discussion.

I’ve done slightly better with making headway on my yearly goals. I completed my monthly target of reading 5 proper books plus one book from my TBR jar/list, by reading 14 proper books, including one TBR jar read and one book from my ‘individual books to read this year’ list. I’ve finished/got up to date on three series already, have read 10 books which correspond to my 105 book challenge and I am 12% done with my Goodreads reading challenge, so I’m proud of the starts I have had to my goals. Now for the 15 finished books:

1. ‘Doll Bones’ by Holly Black

Read – 1st January

Synopsis – A slightly spooky coming-of-age story wherein three tweens go on a journey to put the ghost of the little girl whose bones reside in a china doll to rest.

My Rating – 3.75 stars

Thoughts – This was slightly less scary than I had anticipated, but the coming-of-age story between the three children is fantastic, and summarises exactly how a lot of its middle-grade audience would feel when reading the book. If you’re older than the intended audience though, you will have to suspend your disbelief a tad, but it still makes a lovely light read.

Read my full review here

2. ‘Waves’ by Sharon Dogar

Read – 3rd January

Synopsis – A family returns to the place where their daughter/sister Charley was hit on the head and put into a coma a year previously. Charley’s brother Hal is determined to find out exactly what happened to his sister and why she ended up in the coma that she shows no signs of coming out of.

My Rating – 1.5 stars

Thoughts – This is not a compelling mystery. It is not a heart-wrenching insight into having a child in a coma. It is nothing more than a mess of unstable relationships and a lesson in being an awful person. Charley is a disgusting person whose accident was entirely down to her own stupidity, Hal was rude and offensive and I had no time for any of the supporting characters. There was no mystery element at all, and the relationships are incredibly unhealthy and rather disturbing.

Read my full review here

3. ‘Into the Still Blue’ by Veronica Rossi

Read – 7th January

Synopsis – In the conclusion to the ‘Under the Never Sky’ trilogy, Perry and Aria are on a mission to rescue the missing Cinder, and are determined to reach the Still Blue before their enemy colony and their dweller supporters do.

My Rating – 4.75 stars

Thoughts – This was an almost perfect series end. There was drama and conflict, but not an overload of it. The characterisation was fantastic, and Aria and Perry’s relationship continued to feel genuine. Roar and Perry’s fighting annoyed me a little bit and I still had a couple of questions at the end, but generally this book rounded off a great series in a satisfying manner.

Read my full review here

4. ‘Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth’ by Rick Riordan

Read – 8th January

Synopsis – Percy Jackson’s adventure continues in the fourth instalment as he and his companions have to help save Camp Half-Blood from Luke’s latest attack – on the camp itself.

My Rating – 4.5 stars

Thoughts – Not quite as good as its predecessor, but I continued to be impressed by the charm and humour that comes with Riordan’s books. The characters tended to be as loveable as usual, and Annabeth and Percy’s growing relationship made for brilliant reading, but I’m not sure how much I really care about Nico. The plot was as enjoyable – and as predictable – as the rest of the series, but the twist that came near the end was one of the highlights of the series. The end was slightly anti-climactic given Riordan’s habit of leaving his books on a cliffhanger, but it created the perfect set-up for the final instalment.

Read my full review here

5. ‘Red Rising’ by Pierce Brown

Read – 10th January

Synopsis – Darrow is a red, who works hours of labour in the mines and lives in awful conditions under the pretence that he and the other reds are making Mars habitable for the other colours. Until he discovers that it’s all a lie – Mars is habitable, and being inhabited by the Golds, a class who see themselves as far superior to the rest of society. Darrow infiltrates the Golds to bring the system down from within.

My Rating – 3.75 stars

Thoughts – One of the most enjoyable yet disagreeable things to mess with my head recently. I enjoyed reading this, but at the same time it posed so many questions and issues that I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with. The second half of the book onwards is a violent bloodbath, which makes for good reading, but the psychotic behaviour Darrow exhibits makes me severely question everything the book is trying to say.

Read my full review here

 6. ‘Keeper of the Lost Cities’ by Shannon Messenger

Read – 11th January

Synopsis – Sophie never really fitted into her life. She’d skipped several grades at school and didn’t interact with others, worried that they’d discover that she heard people’s thoughts. Enter a mysterious not-quite-human boy, who tells her that she is an elf, and one who may hold the key to solving a question that had bugged the elf society for a very long time.

My Rating – 5 stars

Thoughts – A typical yet immensely enjoyable middle grade fantasy that probably deserves a little more attention than it gets. Yes, it does fulfil many of the middle-grade clichés of magic schools and protagonists who could be the one to save the world, but it pulls all of these clichés off incredibly well to produce a highly entertaining middle-grade book. The use of elves as the magical creatures intrigued me, the characters – on the whole – had depth and individuality, and Messenger’s writing was very appealing. I’m definitely going to read on with this series and author.

Read my full review here

7. ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ by C.S. Lewis

Read – 11th January

narnia

Synopsis – The story of exactly how Narnia began, following Digory, Polly, Aslan, the White Witch and a mad magician uncle.

My Rating – 3.5 stars

Thoughts – Of course, Lewis’s children’s stories are whimsical classics, but I’m not convinced by them. This one was meant to tell us a bit more about how Narnia was created, and I’m sure the explanation would suit a 7-year-old, but I feel that it lacked a lot of substance, using God-like Aslan once again as an excuse to explain every implausible or downright stupid thing that occurred. I won’t deny that the Chronicles of Narnia are children’s classic, but they aren’t particularly strong stories, and this one definitely isn’t one of the better ones.

8. ‘Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian’ by Rick Riordan

Read – 14th January

end

Synopsis – In the conclusion to the ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series, Kronos is finally descending upon Olympus, and with the Gods preoccupied, it falls to Percy, Annabeth and the rest of Camp Half-Blood to save their world from destruction.

My Rating – 5 stars

Thoughts – Easily the best of the series. Riordan shows no signs of running out of diverse mythological premises. There were heart-wrenching (but not unnecessary) deaths, the perfect mixture of funny and serious and possibly one of the most satisfying series ends I have read.

Read my series wrap-up here

9. ‘The Book of Ivy’ by Amy Engel

Read – 14th January

Synopsis – After a war which resulted in the winning side’s sons marrying the losing side’s daughters in an attempt to force re-population of a destroyed colony, Ivy is to marry Bishop, the president’s son. However the plan is not to accept it. The plan is to lead the president and his family into a false sense of security. Then, she will be the one to kill them.

My Rating – 4.75 stars

Thoughts – Generally, a fantastic book. Not the most original idea in the world, but if you go in expecting nothing, I think you’ll gain a lot of enjoyment from it. The relationship between Ivy and Bishop is very well crafted, as are the president and his wife’s personalities. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the end, but it is the first of a duology, and I have high hopes for the sequel.

Read my full review here

10. ‘Forsaken’ by Jana Oliver

Read – 15th January

Synopsis – Riley is a demon trapper, whose job is to capture the demons who find their way into the world to cause havoc. She needs a chance to prove herself, and live up to the expectations caused by her father’s success. When her whole world crashed down around her, can she cope whilst still trying to get the success she dreams of?

My Rating – 1.5 stars

Thoughts – Truly awful. I had a hard time writing the above synopsis as the book had very little purpose, and even having read it, I cannot really tell you what it was really about. Poor writing, world-building and characterisation, but primarily a boring story which didn’t seem to go anywhere. Don’t even get me started on how rude, manipulative and offensive the protagonist is.

Read my full review here

11. ‘The Lost Hero’ by Rick Riordan

Read – 19th January

Synopsis – Jason wakes up on a coach with people who claim to be his girlfriend and best friend, the only problem being that Jason can’t remember who they are, where he is or indeed who he is. Piper had a mysterious dream a few nights before, and now finds everything is going spectacularly wrong. What secret is she keeping from her friends?

My rating – 4.75 stars

Thoughts – Once again, Riordan pulled it off. The changes in writing style were welcome, and I was glad that this was not a direct continuation of ‘Percy Jackson’, instead feeling like the start of something new. The new characters had varying response, but the series looks to be just as promising as its predecessor, and I’m excited to continue.

Read my full review here

12. ‘The Demigod Files’ by Rick Riordan

Read – 20th January

demifiles

Synopsis – The companion guide for ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians‘, containing new short stories, interviews with the characters and loads of quizzes and puzzles.

My Rating – 4 stars

Thoughts – A little sparse on content – could’ve done with being 50 or so pages longer – but what we did get was all a welcome addition. One of the short stories stood out more than the other two, but all of the interviews were great, and the puzzles are a nice little extra.

13. ‘Uglies’ by Scott Westerfeld

Read – 27th January

uglies

Synopsis – When Tally turns 16, she will be made Pretty – doctors will sculpt her face and body until she looks exactly like how society perceives you should look. Until Tally’s mysterious new friend runs away, claiming that she doesn’t want to be pretty and that Tally should follow her.

My Rating – 2.5 stars

Thoughts – This book was very underwhelming. Tally showed no development whatsoever: even once she had seen the flaws in the way society works, she cannot grasp at all why it is a corrupt system. She was slightly overkill when it came to a protagonist being blind to the issues going on in their dystopian world. Shay was incredibly immature and pathetic, and I actually warmed to very few characters. Most importantly, this book was very boring. It simply failed to capture my interest, and so I struggled to finish it.

Full review to come

14. ‘Silksinger’ by Laini Taylor

Read – 30th January

9780399246319_p0_v1_s260x420

Synopsis – Magpie has set out to find all of the Djinn heroes who are hidden asleep in the world. But when she arrives in the Moonlit Gardens amidst a fight, she discovers that there is a girl out there, the last of the Silksinger family, who knows the exact whereabouts of one of the Djinns Magpie is desperate to find. And Magpie isn’t the only one who knows this, putting the Silksinger girl in a lot of danger.

My Rating – 4.5 stars

Thoughts – I adored this book as I did its predecessor. Magpie and Talon were as marvellous here as they were before, and the additions of Whisper and Hirik were equally interesting and creative. The crows made a return, and were their usual loveable selves, and it was finally made clearer the role that Batch plays in the story. This book was a tad more predictable than ‘Blackbringer’, and lacked the quantity of stand-out scenes, but it was brilliant nonetheless. However, I am devastated that Laini Taylor has not returned to finish this series, as it has been left incomplete, and I am desperate to know what happens next for my favourite faeries.

15. ‘How I Live Now’ by Meg Rosoff

Read – 31st January

howi

Synopsis – When Daisy is sent to England to live with her aunt and four cousins, the last thing she expected was for a war to break out, leaving her facing situations that she never dreamed she would see.

My Rating – 2 stars

Thoughts – I had heard that this has received many awards and been turned into a movie, so was expecting it to be good. It was rather shocking. Firstly, I could probably be convinced by the story of incestuous cousin-cousin relationships if it was told well enough. This was just Daisy having underage sex with a cousin whom she has no chemistry with and cared very little for. Daisy was a disgusting character, whose attitude to others appalled me. I wanted to know more about the war and what was actually happening, and none of my questions were answered. I don’t think that this book sets an appropriate example for its 13 year old target audience.

Full review to come

There we have it. The 15 books I read this month. The winner of my ‘book of the month’ is ‘Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian’, as it was a truly captivating, satisfying and entertaining end to a lovely series. Overall, it was an okay reading month, but I had long periods where I read nothing at all, and I hope that February will not be like that.

Twitter @emmathereader

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Goodreads www.goodreads.com/snapeisourprince

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4 thoughts on “My January 2015 Wrap-Up

  1. Can’t wait to read your reviews of Uglies and How I Live Now. Uglies I had very mixed feelings about. Everyone said how amazing it was, but I thought it was boring. And How I Live Now really wasn’t the book for me at the time I read it; I was in a reading slump. But I guess you could say it just wasn’t good enough to pull me out of my slump. I also need to say again how glad I am that you’re on the Rick Riordan bandwagon now! Cheers to February! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with what you said on Uglies. And as for How I Live Now, I noted that you weren’t a fan when I checked Goodreads after finishing. The reviews of both of these won’t be particularly positive. I’m firmly on the Rick Riordan bandwagon now! And here’s to February indeed ^-^

      Liked by 1 person

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