New Year, New Books : 2015 January Wrap Up

Hello everyone, and happy new (belated year)!

So, last year on this blog was pretty messy. I am trying to review a few books, but I have to admit, with the number of books I read, it’s hard to take a break and simply write a review about it (See, I’m what you would call an addict…). What I do want to try this year, though, is monthly wrap-ups, at least. I’ll do short reviews on each book I read each month, and if I fall in love with one, why not write a whole article about it 😉

Read in January 2015

2015 starts as a good reading year for me, as I have read 18 books and 2 novellas this month (what even is a social life)

1. “Silver Shadows” by Richelle Mead

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“Everything I’d fought for, every challenge, every victory … all of it was empty if anything happened to him. Without him, I wouldn’t have had the courage to become the person I was. Without him, I wouldn’t have realized what it truly was to live and love life. Centrum permanebit. He was my center, and there was nothing I wouldn’t do, nothing I wouldn’t give up, to keep him safe.”

This is the fifth book in the Bloodlines series, the Vampire Academy spin-off. I will not spoil any of these series for you if you haven’t read it, but here’s my global opinion :

Having loved the ending of The Fiery Heart (such a cliffhanger! My heart! Sydney!), I was highly anticipating this book. And I loved the first two thirds of it : yes, it was frustrating, but it kept me hanging, wanting more. And then the last third… It had such potential! I know some people won’t agree with me, but it felt rushed, and just not right. So, given how much I loved the previous book, I was pretty disappointed with this one. This series is still amazing, though, and I’m excited for The Ruby Circle, coming out next month.

I gave this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, I believe.

2. “Amour Amour” by Ritchie and Becca Ritchie

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“I’m average. I’ve been average most of my life, but there are moments where I feel extraordinary. Invincible. Able to conquer any fear and step outside any box. There is no illusion, no fantasy. I can climb a forty-foot pole. I can fly eighty-feet in the air. I can be taller than tall. It’s a dream that I’m living. Every day. With him.”

Oh. My. The Ritchie sisters did it again.

To cut short, Krista and Becca Ritchie are the authors that give me hope for New Adult literature. I hate most NA books, but their books are incredible. They always make up such endearing, realistic, funny characters, that I always end up loving. Amour Amour is the story of Thora James, an average young girl, who has a passion, a dream : the circus. She goes to Las Vegas, full of dreams, despite her family and friends disapproving of it. It’s the story of her pursuing her dream, unexpectedly finding love, making friends, learning to balance her life.

As you might have already presumed, I loved the book. I had high expectations, and they were pretty much all met. The romance(s) were amazing, and I simply want more of these authors’ books.

5 out of 5 stars, and I’m off to reread it (again).

3. “Blankets” by Craig Thompson

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“Sometimes, upon waking, the residual dream can be more appealing that reality, and one is reluctant to give it up. For a while, you feel like a ghost — Not fully materialized, and unable to manipulate your surroundings. Or else, it is the dream that haunts you. You wait with the promise of the next dream.”

This is a pretty hard book to review. It’s a graphic novel in black and white, and I rarely read graphic novels. However, I had heard so much about this one, I decided to give it a chance. I believe this is the biography of Craig Thompson, more specifically his childhood and adolescence. It mostly deals with religion, finding oneself, family, and first love…

I pretty much didn’t really have any expectation except for it to be very touching, and it was. The art was beautiful, and for that it deserves the three stars, but I didn’t connect with the characters or story very much. I recommend it to anyone who would like a beautiful graphic novel, that deals with the matters I spoke of above.

3 out of 5 stars for me!

4. “Night of Cake & Puppets” by Laini Taylor

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“What a lovely display of personhood. He’s like a good book cover that grabs your gaze. Read me. I’m fun but smart. You won’t be able to put me down.”

This is a novella to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. I recommend to read it either after reading Days of Blood & Starlight, or after reading Dreams of Gods & Monsters, if like me, you’re hungry for more magic… And romance. And perfection. I mean… if you want more Mik and Zuzana (and after reading this book, I swear I’ll fight anyone who says they’re not relationship goals).

This was so freaking adorable, I’m still not over it. Zuzana is hilarious, Mik is cute as hell, and their story is simply magical. And of course, I don’t ever mind reading more of Laini’s beautiful writing…

5 out of 5 stars! I love you, Laini Taylor!

5. “Vicious” by V. E. Schwab

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“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”

If you spend a lot of time on social medias talking about books, you’ve probably heard of this one. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about this book. And I had high expectations. Perhaps too high…

Vicious is the story of Victor, who used to be best friends with Eli, and both were brilliant students. But then when Eli started doing research on EOs, Extra-Ordinaries, humans with superpowers, it all went downhill… In this story we follow Victor, Eli and other characters through multiple timelines, including ‘Ten Years Ago’ and ‘Two Days Ago’.

I can’t I enjoyed this book emotionally as much as I enjoyed it intellectually. The story was brilliant, the characters were twisted and the writing was captivating. Theoretically, that would make the book a 5 out of 5 stars. Yet, I still didn’t get attached to the characters, and the story seemed a bit short. I’m not crazy about it, but I can appreciate the genius…

3.8 out of 5 stars is my final rating!

6. “The Hook Up” by Kristen Callihan

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“I’m not going to say it was love at first sight. No, it was more like oh, hell-yes-please, I’ll have that. With a helping of right-the-fuck-now on the side.”

This is the story of Anna and Drew. Anna is a good student in university, focusing on work and trying to avoid dating in general. Drew is the college-football-quaterback-star. Both are very attractive, bla-bla-bla.

Well, this was bad. This is the reason I might hate NA sometimes. It’s cliché from the very beginning to the very end. The characters are uninteresting, as is the story. It’s sexist sometimes, and I seriously hesitated to finish it. However, it wasn’t awful, it was just bad. I didn’t want to throw the book across the room, simply sigh dramatically from times to times.

So this deserves 1.8 out of 5 stars, I believe.

7. “Never Never Part 1” by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

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“Before, when I looked at her, she was just the girl who as experiencing this weird phenomenon with me. Now when I look at her, she’s the girl I’ve apparently made love to for a while. The girl I apparently still love. I just wish I could remember what it’s supposed to feel like.”

As soon as I heard Colleen Hoover was writing a new book, I added it to my TBR list. I have read and enjoyed all her books so far, and I was really looking forward to this one. I have never read a book of Tarryn Fisher’s before, but after this one, I sure plan on it!

This book tells the story of Silas and Charlie. They both wake up in class, not knowing who they are. They learn that they’re supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend. They learn about their past and the mess that is their relationship. And they slowly uncover the mystery of what’s happened to them and why…

I really liked this book. The story is fast-paced and full of mystery, with unexpected plot-twists and interesting enough characters. The only thing I have to say, though, is that it’s too short. I’m pretty sure Part 1 and 2 could’ve been combined in one book… Now I’ll be waiting for Part 2 impatiently!

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

8. “Beautiful Oblivion” by Jamie McGuire

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“The Maddoxes could sense trouble. At least it seemed that way, because whenever there was a fight, they had either started it, or finished it. Usually both.”

Ugh. I give up. Jamie McGuire’s books are obviously not for me. I hated Beautiful Disaster, and all I can say about this one is that I really disliked it, but didn’t hate it as much as the first one. This is a companion novel to Beautiful Disaster, and Travis’s older brother love story.

The protagonist, Camille, is less annoying and whiny than Abby was in BD, and the love interest, Trenton, has less anger-management issues than Travis, which by consequence makes him less scary (Maybe, maybe, I’m not a big fan of Travis, or Abby…). Can’t say I loved either one, honestly. This book was yet another big disappointment, and I solemnly vow not to read anymore of this author’s books.

This book deserves no more than 1.3 out of 5 stars.

9. “Just One Day” by Gayle Forman

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“Travelling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing. You can’t work too much at it, or it feels like work. You have to surrender yourself to the chaos. To the accidents.”

I disliked If I Stay by G. Forman, but Just One Day is an entirely different book, that I genuinely enjoyed. It’s the story of Allison. One day during the summer before she starts college, she goes to Paris with an actor, a stranger, a traveler called Willem. She spends one day with him. And that day changes everything.

This book surprised me. I thought it would be cheesy and about, well, one day of fairy tales, but it ended up being a beautiful story of self-discovery about traveling and falling in love. I especially loved the Shakespeare references, and it definitely made me want to watch more of his plays.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars!

10. “Just One Year” by Gayle Forman

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“Saba used to say there was a difference between bravery and courage. Bravery was doing something dangerous without thinking. Courage was walking into danger, knowing full well the risks.”

I didn’t like the ending of Just One Day. It left me craving for more, so I decided to pick up Just One Year, which is the story of what happened to Willem during Just One Day. The only reason I read it was honestly to know what would happen next, because I didn’t really care about Willem’s story that much. I ended up liking it, it was alright, but I found myself thinking it would’ve been better if Willem and Allison’s point of views had been combined into just one book, just I like I had found myself wishing If I Stay and Where She Went could be combined together.

This book didn’t bring to care much about the characters. I liked the ending, and Gayle Forman’s writing is always easy to read and enjoyable, so overall it was not a bad book.

I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

11. “Just One Night” by Gayle Forman

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“Allyson meanwhile is remembering. Why this person? All the things she has told herself, or other people have told her – infatuation or Paris or good acting or lust – no longer hold water, because she remembers so viscerally and feels it anew. It’s not any of that. It’s not even him. Or all him. It’s her. The way she can be with him.”

So much magic! This is the novella taking place after Just One Day and Just One Year. It’s the ending of Willem and Allison’s story, and it was adorable and funny and the perfect closure.

4.5 out of 5 stars!

12. “The Pact” by Karina Halle

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“Isn’t that the best person to want? The person that knows you inside and out. The person who has seen you at your ugliest and most beautiful and still wants to be with you. The person who believes in you and has your back, no matter what.” Then his smile fades and his brow furrows. “You’ve always been more than a friend to me, Steph. Always. You have no idea how I’ve felt, how I still feel about you.”

The Pact is a stand-alone about two best friends, Stephanie and Linden, who make a pact at 25 to get married if they’re both single at 30. They’re both secretly in love with the other, of course.

I really expected to love this book. Best friends gone lovers? Hell yes! (Although I might have expectations due to my love for Lily and Loren in Addicted) But I didn’t actually love the book. Nothing happened during the first 50%, and then it was mostly sex and a bit of drama. Big disappointment.

2.3 out of 5 stars!

13. “The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson

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“But you can’t kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that one thing you’ve never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope.”

I started this book back in august, and I guess I wasn’t in the mood for such complicated high fantasy. I really liked the writing but the story was very slow paced in the beginning and I gave up after 200 pages. This month, however, seeing so many of my friends read it made me pick it up again and I am so glad I did.

So, I’m gonna try to keep it simple : in this world, there are two kinds of people, the skaa and the humans. There is nothing that distinguishes skaa and humans except perhaps the skaa’s thin frames. Skaa have been enslaved for as long as anyone knows, and live in awful conditions, being beaten, raped, killed frequently by humans, usually their Lords. There is magic in this world, it’s called Allomancy and it depends on metals. Mistings are the most frequent magic users, they can use only one out of the 10 metals there are, and have the power attached to it. Mistborns are very rare, and usually humans : they can use any of those metals. This is the story of Vin, a skaa who’s been trying to survive by making herself invisible (um, not literally) for all her life. What she doesn’t know is, she is a Mistborn.

Phew. I hope you followed me there. I loved this book : the characters were endearing and interesting, the writing was so very enjoyable, the story got me hooked after 200 pages or so. The slow-paced beginning is nearly the only bad thing about the book. The last part of the book largely made up for it ; I may have shed a tear or two… I also enjoyed the romance, and it’s torture to wait for it to unfold. All I have to say about the action : it was amazing.

I gave this book 4.3 well-deserved stars.

14. “White Cat” by Holly Black

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“We are, largely, who we remember ourselves to be. That’s why habits are so hard to break. If we know ourselves to be liars, we expect not to tell the truth. If we think of ourselves as honest, we try harder.”

White Cat is the first book in the Curse Workers trilogy. It’s the first book by Holly Black I’ve read (although I did read her short story in My True Love Gave To Me and loved it), and after reading this, I just want more more more of this author’s books.

This is the story of Cassel Sharpe, the youngest brother in a worker family. It’s urban fantasy, so it takes place in a world that’s almost like ours, except there are workers and humans. Workers are basically magicians, except their magic is seen as a curse. There are 7 different kinds of workers, and their power goes through their hands, which is why everybody wears gloves. Anyway, 3 years ago, Cassel killed his best friend. He doesn’t remember killing her. Only standing over her body with a knife in hand and a thrilling smile across his face.

I’m not telling you more. I went into this book knowing basically nothing and I liked slowly learning how the world Holly Black created works. Cassel is an amazing protagonist, smart and sarcastic, but caring and lost. Well, I guess not that smart, because if one thing bugged me, it was figuring stuff out before he did. I really like Holly’s writing, The story didn’t bore me, there’s non-stop action throughout the book. I liked the side characters as well, and I am waiting for more development in book 2 and 3!

My final rating is 4 out of 5 stars!

15. “Red Glove” by H. Black

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“Life’s full of opportunities to make crappy decisions that feel good. And after the first one, the rest get a whole lot easier.”

This is the sequel in the Curse Workers trilogy. I can’t tell you what the synopsis because that would spoil the previous book…

I liked this book even better than the previous one : the characters were more developed, it was even more action-packed, and there was a bit of drama too, which I actually didn’t mind too much. I feel like this book was funnier than the last one, and I fell in love with Cassel Sharpe. See, in the first book, I appreciated the fact that he is a male protagonist in YA, which is a bit rare, and I liked him alright. Now, I can say I love his wit and inner conflicts. He is a deeply relatable and likeable character, which doesn’t mean he isn’t flawed.

I ended up giving this book 4 out of 5 stars.

16. “Black Heart” by H. Black

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“Girls like her, my grandfather once warned me, girls like her turn into women with eyes like bullet holes and mouths made of knives. They are always restless. They are always hungry. They are bad news. They will drink you down like a shot of whisky. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs. What no one told me, with all those warnings, is that even after you’ve fallen, even after you know how painful it is, you’d still get in line to do it again.”

This is the third and last book in the Curse Workers trilogy. Again, I’m not giving you a synopsis.

This trilogy was so good, I finished it in less than a week. The characters are kind of twisted, which oddly seems to be the case in the books I like the most, recently. The story is gripping, and I am in love with Holly Black’s humor.

Now, I’d like to tell you about my love for Cassel Sharpe. He is definitely my favorite male protagonist ever : sarcastic, manipulative but good deep down, caring and smart. And kind of reckless. Cassel and Lila’s love also touched me. Lila is not your typical love interest, and their relationship is not the typical one you find in YA, which made me love them that much more.

I strongly recommend this trilogy if you’d like a good YA urban fantasy book, with a witty protagonist, twisted (but funny) characters, and a large part about manipulation/persuasion (which I think is a fascinating subject, and I love that Holly Black clearly did her research on the subject).

I ended up giving this book 4 out of 5 stars!

17. “Where She Went” by Gayle Forman

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“There are so many things that demand to be said. Where did you go? Do you ever think about me? You’ve ruined me. Are you okay? But of course, I can’t say any of that.”

This is the sequel to If I Stay, which I have to say before I tell you my thoughts about Where She Went, I didn’t like. I think that was mainly because my expectations were set too high, which prevented me from really enjoying the book. Still, I didn’t feel anything, it was slow-paced, and I didn’t get attached to the characters in If I Stay.

However, I absolutely loved Where She Went. The story is told from Adam’s point of view, 3 years later. Adam has become the rock star, and Mia a very successful cello player. One night, both are in New York, and fate reunites them once again : it’s a chance for closure, or the occasion to start something more…

This book made me feel everything. I read it in one sitting, as I did every book of Gayle Forman’s so far, actually. Adam is a character which felt very real, and his emotions were intense, and heartbreaking. I’ve come to fall in love with his character as well as Mia’s, seeing her through his eyes. His love felt real, painful, beautiful. I even shed a few tears at one point…

I rated the book 4.5 out of 5 stars!

18. “The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski

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“Looks like someone’s suffering the Winner’s Curse.”
Kestrel turned to her. “What do you mean?”
“You don’t come to auctions often, do you? The Winner’s Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.”

This is the first book in The Winner’s Trilogy. The blurb presented the context pretty well, so here : “As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, Kestrel has two choices : she can join the military or get married. Kestrel has other ideas. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in Arin, a young slave up for auction. Following her instincts, Kestrel buys him–and for a sensational price that sets the society gossip talking. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

I’m feeling conflicted about this book. It didn’t blow my mind as I hoped it would but I did enjoy the fantasy world created there and the story overall. I liked the characters, especially how smart they were. I found the story a bit redundant toward the end, and yet I couldn’t help but feel what the characters felt (which would be sorrow, most of the time, I’m afraid). The last pages were very good and the second book sounds very promising.

I ended up giving this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

19. “Sins & Needles” by Karina Halle

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“You’re a con artist. A liar. A thief. An unredeemable soul. You can’t be reformed. You can’t be saved. You’ll die trying to make the world pay for what it did to you. And you’ll die alone.”

Sins & Needles is the first book in The Artists trilogy. This is not YA, nor NA (ha!ha!). The story is pretty f*cked up, I warn you. It tells the story of Ellie Watt, con artist, who has been ‘on the run’ for the last seven years, making a lot of enemies by conning them. She comes back to her hometown, and unexpectedly meets Camden McQueen, who is no longer the weirdo/outcast he was in high school, but a sexy tattoo artist. But it’s not long before her past catches up : and by her past, I mean her lord-dealer-ex she’s stolen money from.

A lot of my friends on goodreads have read this book and downright loved it. It wasn’t really the case for me. I had issues with this book, the first being Ellie Watt. She’s the anti-protagonist : she keeps making bad decisions, she’s superficial and manipulates people a lot. The whole thing where she suddenly liked Camden because he had abs and tattoos bothered me a lot, but then the plot twist at about 40% of the book changed things, and I started liking both Camden and Ellie more a this point. Still, I didn’t really enjoy the book, or the characters. I do expect book 2 to be better, and this book wasn’t bad, so I’ll probably be reading the rest of the series someday.

I gave this book 2.5 stars.

20. “Raw : a love story” by Mark Haskell Smith

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“She loved a good book more than she’d ever loved a person and there was nothing wrong with that.”

This book contains the most ridiculously dumb character I’ve ever read about. It’s about Sepp, a reality TV star, who has made the bestsellers’ list with his book, that he did not actually write, but people don’t know that. And it’s about Harriet, a book critic against the stupid, which according to her include most people, especially reality TV ones.

The story is absurd, really. The characters are stupid, and I never thought you could write so well about a character as stupid as Sepp with an inside perspective. I’m torn between saying that it’s smart and I appreciate how mocking it is, or that I hated the characters as well as the story and wish I wasn’t that aware such dumb people exist (I avoid reality TV at all costs, it brings me too much despair).

 I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars.

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