The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness Cress by Marissa Meyer 2013: A Year in Review
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness It’s HERE!!!!! I was so excited for this book. I cannot express my excitedness. The All Souls Trilogy, of which this book is the third, is one of those series that I just love to bits even though I don’t really understand why. Throughout the series the plot has been kind of all over the […]
Cress by Marissa Meyer In an attempt to write a review of Cress I feel that Kate and I just…rambled on about how much we love all the characters? Or something. Upon posting this, I just feel like we didn’t really get to the review portion of the review. I think it’s clear we liked it though. Caitlin: I […]
2013: A Year in Review Similarily to last year, we are posting this way late. Because, well life and such. Also, we’re just terribly bloggers here at whatchYAreading. At least we know that. We own that. Instead of listing our favourite books of the year, a couple years ago we came up with a series of morally testing questions to […]

Bananas are a Fruit, Not a State of Mind

Let me begin by saying that this will in no way be a defence of Kathleen’s actions. Quite the opposite. I felt the need to add my two cents because I started out as a fan of hers. Well,  a fan of her book’s at least. ….also I’m writing this on my new tablet so it’s a fun experiment for me.

I really enjoyed No One Else Can Have You. I loved that it was about a self-proclaimed awkward teenage girl who actually felt awkward. Who literally made me cringe in embarrassment as I was reading the book. I liked the mystery and the strange cast of characters. Sure, some of it was problematic, but I very rarely read a book that isn’t at least a little problematic.

I work in a book store. I’ve convinced people to buy this book. I put my “Staff Pick” sticker on it. This is how enjoyable I found this book.

This is just context for where I’m starting out when I first saw that there was upset in the blogging community on twitter a couple mornings ago.

Not knowing where the upset was stemming from, I asked for a link and was quickly pointed in the direction of this article.

When I saw that the article was written by Kathleen Hale I grew concerned. She had done and said some things in the past that were…odd in the very least. Still, as one of the few people I knew who had enjoyed her book I thought it only fair that I give her a chance. So,  I started reading and I tried to keep an open mind. And I kept reading and I told myself that she was obviously using a self-deprecating tone in the article and I was sure she would come to some sort of personal enlightenment by the end…then I kept reading.

I don’t know how many of you have been involved in online communities, especially fandoms, but there is something about anonymous personalities on the internet that can sometimes lead to obsessive hate. At least, in my experience.  I have definitely felt that hatred of an anonymous entity before. I’ve known, in my bones, that some random personality on the Internet was put there with the sole purpose of aggravating me and ruining my enjoyment.

Obviously this thinking is very arrogant. Not to mention when one gets into these moods you are the person ruining it for yourself. Yes, sometimes people are jerks and it’s almost addicting to hate on them with other people but there always comes a point where you realize that you would be better off without them. Without even a whisper of them in your life. And you go on this mass unfollowing and blocking spree and it feels so refreshing.

When reading the article,  I kept waiting for Kathleen to reach that point. To realize that an Internet personality is easy to block from your view and move on. She never did. She just kept obsessing. She kept taking it one step further and then another until I realized there was no wall for her. There was no moment of realization. There was only obsession. And she wasn’t only hurting herself with it.

And months later she decides to share all in what I guess was supposed to be an admission of guilt/absolution of some kind?  Though all it ended up doing was striking fear into the hearts of bloggers everywhere. Some of whom have perfectly legitimate reasons for choosing to be anonymous online. Or  just prefer to be anonymous. Which is, you know, a legitimate reason for it.

As someone who enjoyed her book, who championed it, who has hand-sold it to more than one person, I now feel crappy. I’m disappointed in myself that I helped this woman find any sort of success as she obviously doesn’t respect bloggers or the hard work they put into their hobby.

Possibly she just doesn’t respect people in general?

I won’t be buying her next book. If I have to sell it to people at work I’m going to look at the same way I look at James Frey books when I sell them. And a customer once got mad at me for rolling my eyes at their James Frey purchase so who knows what could happen. She made me feel dirty. I don’t like feeling dirty. I especially don’t like feeling dirty for helping sell a book that I liked.

Ugh.

 

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

It’s HERE!!!!!

I was so excited for this book. I cannot express my excitedness. The All Souls Trilogy, of which this book is the third, is one of those series that I just love to bits even though I don’t really understand why.

Throughout the series the plot has been kind of all over the place and slow moving. There’s lots of characters who, when talked about before meeting them, sound like the most dangerous creatures alive. Then you meet them and everyone is one big happy family.

Except…I don’t know. I JUST LOVE EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING ABOUT THESE BOOKS!

I can’t explain why. I like that there’s vampires and witches and daemons and history and wine and romance and yoga.

Seriously.

The conclusion starts off exactly where Shadow of Night ended, with Diana and Matthew back from the past and reeling from how long they’ve been gone and all that’s happened while they’ve been away.

I really loved how this book brought together the past and the present and how we didn’t have to say goodbye to all the characters that I enjoyed from Shadow of Night. One in particular I was excited about because I wasn’t expecting it at all. And his journey was difficult and touching and I loved every scene with this character and Matthew. You’ll know who I mean when you get there. I also liked how Matthew was forced to confront everything that he hates in himself in this character who he loves. It was very well done.

We also got to see a lot of Diana coming into her power and, finally, accepting everything about who and what she is and what she can do. And, yes, magically (heh) has a solution for every problem that pops up but I found I didn’t mind? Like, most of the spells she does she has to work for, and there’s set up and energy expended and such.

I really liked where Gallowglass’ story went in this one. I shall say no more about that, but I really like him and think Miss Harkness sould write a spin off series about him.

That’s all I shall say about that.

My one real complaint about this story is how often it would feel like a BIG PLOT THING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN but then the characters would have to talk about it endlessly first. Like, seriously the big climatic moment of the story is aobut to happen…but then they have to go to a meeting for three days first. That bothered me a lot. Especially as that last meeting didn’t seem to actually need to happen for…other things to happen. I don’t know, it just felt unrealistic that characters would’ve put up with waiting that long.

Other than feeling that one important point wasn’t really addressed in this book, though I can’t really say which without spoiling things, but other than I was very happy with how all the loose threads came together to a close in this one. There was enough left open that I didn’t feel quite like everything was wrapped up with a pretty, pretty bow but I was also quite satisfied.

But seriously, Gallowglass spinoff. Need it.

 

Cress by Marissa Meyer

In an attempt to write a review of Cress I feel that Kate and I just…rambled on about how much we love all the characters? Or something. Upon posting this, I just feel like we didn’t really get to the review portion of the review.

I think it’s clear we liked it though.

Caitlin: I was so excited for this book because of Thorne. Thorne is my favourite. I love Thorne. I need more Thorne. Thorne.

Kate: And, because I like to be nice and contrary, I really liked Cress. I liked Cress a lot. And…she kind of deserved better than Thorne??

Caitlin: First off, I liked Cress as well. Just didn’t know her before the start of the book. And I can kind of see what you’re saying but…I don’t know. I liked them together. I feel like after all the war and stuff is done they’re going to fly away together and see the world and it’s going to be so amazing for her.

Kate: I think my problem with them stems from what I, and I’m pretty sure I’m alone in this, see as a teeny tiny flaw in the series, and that’s the fact that we have so many characters now. In Cinder, we had Cinder and Kai. Then in Scarlett, we had Cinder and Kai and Thorne and Scarlett and Wolf. And now, in Cress, we have Cinder and Kai and Scarlett and Wolf and Cress and Thorne and Winter. That’s…a lot of charcaters. And since they’re scattered all over the universe, it was, at times, problematic for me. I didn’t get to see as much of their story as I’d have liked to? And, of course, that makes me very concerned for Winter.

Caitlin: I see what you’re saying. Though I think, given the circumstances, the book stayed pretty balanced. I do think poor fans of Wolf and Scarlet are going to be a little disappointed as there wasn’t much of them. And poor Wolf! I felt so bad for him in this book. I just want to give him a big hug! But, I do think it hit a pretty good balance.

Kate: Well, the main deal is that I was really invested in Cress’s story? Moreso than I’ve been in anyone else. Every time we went away from her, I was like, “No! She is walking across the desert with shoes made from fabric and this is her first exposure to life outside a satellite and that is horrible and tragic AND WHY ARE WE NOT SEEING HER DIVE INTO A COOL POOL OF WATER WHO CARES ABOUT KAI RN JESUS!” Because, Cress, man. She was so relentlessly optimistic and naive and I 100% wanted everything to turn out sunshine and rainbows for her. And I never want that for ANYONE. Well…almost never.

Caitlin: It is difficult when we change POV. Especially away from the Cress. I do love her as well. And I think Thorne treated her naivete relatively well. I mean, was a douche sometimes, but not overly so? And I liked that he expected her to be naive and was prepared to handle it.

Wait, also. I love Iko. I need to talk about Iko. Forgot Thorne. I just love Iko so much. I think my absolute favourite line in the entire book was when what’s his name gets on the ship and is all, “Ship do this thing,” (actual quote), and Iko is all, “are you…are you talking to me?” Hehe. I just love Iko.

Kate: You know, this book was really funny. Far funnier than it had any right to be. Iko was deeply amusing and, Thorne, the Han Solo/Indiana Jones/Captain Kirk of this book was also funny (though always at inappropriate times). And even Cress was pretty funny. So basically, for a book in which the characters all have death sentences hanging over them and Cress has been kidnapped for her whole life and made to live all alone and two of said characters have to walk across an entire desert? I laughed a lot.

Caitlin: I think I did as well? I actually don’t remember. It was late at night and I was lying on the cement beside the ocean trying to stay wrapped in a blanket when I read this. I’m surprised I even remember that Iko line.

But basically there needs to be a fifth book in the series about Iko. Just all about Iko and the adventures she gets into while trying to find a cute, rich man to love an android.

Kate: I’m actually not opposed to a fifth book? SO MUCH has to happen in Winter as so much is left unresolved at the end of Cress. (And I know I’m a terrible person for complaining about this but why oh why oh why did I read this book all the way in October when that means waiting a zillion years for Winter to come out? WHY?!) And so I’m really excited to get to Winter, in part because I’m really curious about Winter herself. And also Jacin. I know you did not like Jacin (or I feel like I think you didn’t like Jacin?) but they are so different, and they’re also so different from the characters I’ve already fallen in love with.

Caitlin: I don’t about Moon Dude. Jacin. Whatever. I’m not completely against him but I’m not for him either. Also, I don’t really see how he fits into the original Snow White tale? Like, love interest sure, but where does the Prince part come in? For some unknown reason, this is very important to me.

Are we even sure he is going to be the love interest? I don’t know. I have all these feelings. And wonderings and how the heck is everything going to wrap up? There is so much to be done. But I am, right now going to state how I want things to end.

Scarlet and Wolf go back to the farm and spend their lives eating tomatoes.

Cress and Thorne fly off to see the universe and have adventures. Possibly they end like, ambassadors between Earth and Luna.

Kai and Cinder Rule over Earth and Winter becomes queen of Luna and they work together somehow? But then that seems to NICE. Or something? I don’t know. I don’t even know what I want to have happen to Levana. Something bad?

Kate: I agree with all of these things, and would like to point out that, back in November, the adventures of Cress and Thorne were MY idea. And Iko can go with them as she resumes her quest for the perfect android form for herself. And…basically I just want them all to be happy and for Cress to own as many pairs of shoes as she can fit in their ship.

Caitlin: I like the shoe idea. And I am happy to credit you with the adventures of Cress and Thorne.

We haven’t really mentioned the plot at all but, I think if you’ve read the previous books, you know what to expect? There’s old characters and new, and people getting separated and Iko being adorable. And a trek across the desert, and desperate attempt to stop a wedding and restore a blind man’s sight.

That pretty much sums it up.

And evil queen who continues to be a bitch.

Kate: Yes, that about covers it in a non-spoilery way.

Caitlin: Mostly non-spoilery. I hope it’s coherent?

Kate: Probably not. But we bat about .300 when it comes to coherent reviews.

Caitlin: I don’t really understand that but sounds good.

Kate: Though that’s actually a pretty good batting average. So…let’s just say that we are almost always incoherent and go with the lowered expectations.

 

 

Caitlin is going to the Cress launch event in Seattle and hopes to have a recap with many fun pictures up Wednesday or Thursday. I hope everyone enjoys reading Cress as much as we did!

 

2013: A Year in Review

Similarily to last year, we are posting this way late. Because, well life and such.

Also, we’re just terribly bloggers here at whatchYAreading. At least we know that. We own that.

Instead of listing our favourite books of the year, a couple years ago we came up with a series of morally testing questions to ask ourselves about the books we had read. And then we gave ourselves rules so that all could know what horrible cheaters we are.

As always, the books listed below can have come out previous to 2013 as long as we read them in 2013. Advance copies of 2014 books are not allowed except in the question we put in for them.

And, as always, we would love to hear your answers to any and all of these questions in the comments!

1. Favorite Book of 2013

Kate: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Caitlin: I think I’m going to have to copy Kate and say These Broken Stars because I just loved every single thing about that book but mostly that I went in thinking, “I know exactly where this is going,” and never been more wrong in my life.

Christine: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

2. Book (from 2013) you wish more people would read

Kate: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken (though in fairness, I guess this means I also wish more people had read Darkest Mind, the opener to this series). Maybe lots of people have read these, but I feel like no one was talking about them?

Caitlin: Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Christine: Umm… Fangirl. It’s perfect. (I’ll give you a copy if you haven’t read it.)

3. Favorite Cover

Kate: These Broken Stars by Aimee Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Caitlin: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I just really enjoy how it showcases the fangirl lifestyle and that it was done by a popular artist on tumblr who mostly does fanart. It’s a meta cover.

Also, The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson because (a) it’s beautiful and (b) they didn’t white wash it, or just decide not to put a person on the cover.

Christine: These Broken Stars. It’s so pretty.

 

4. Favorite Tearjerker (feel free to describe the moment that made you cry, in an unspoilery way)

Kate: It’s not fair that I can’t say The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak because that audiobook made me cry so hard I threw up. Also ineligible for me is Code Name Verity by Rachel Wein. Dangit. But…none of the other books I read this year really felt like tearjerkers to me, so I’m going with these two.

Caitlin: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. When they sing Make New Friends, which is a song that I sing in Girl Guides with five and six year old girls. They sing it quite a few times and it made cry every single time to see that song in that context.

Christine: Code Name Verity – Ugh. I can’t believe Kate & Caitlin got me to read it. I SOBBED.

5. Favorite series conclusion

Kate: Champion by Marie Lu, the conclusion of the Legend series

Caitlin: Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier. Everything just came together so perfectly. Alsoalso!! The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson.

Christine: Clockwork Princess! (YEEEESSSSS)

6. Favorite series opener

Kate: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Caitlin: Does Just One Day count? It was only two books but that’s more than one. (…obviously) If not then it’s a tie between The Rules by Stacey Kade and Reboot by Amy Tintera.

Christine: I didn’t have a stand out one, so I guess I’ll go with Indelible by Dawn Metcalf.

7. Favorite Series continuation

Kate: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Caitlin: The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead. This book was everything I dreamed it would be. Honorable mention for Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo because STURMHOND!!!! And also Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger.

Christine: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvate

8. Favorite Comedy

Kate: I don’t know if Perfect Scoundrels by AllY Carter really counts as a comedy, but it’s certainly a really fun book and gets my vote here.

Caitlin: Does the Hyperbole and Half book count..by Allie Brosh. Because that was hilarious! If not then ummm, I guess The Fiery Heart was quite light hearted and fun….until the last couple chapters.

Christine: Fangirl (This is going to be my answer for a lot of things.)

9. Favorite male lead

Kate: A tie between Peregrine from Through the Every Night by Veronica Rossi and Tarver Merendsen from These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

Caitlin: Willem from Just One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman. I loved his journey.

Christine: I’m really starting to like Adrian (from the VA & Bloodlines series), even though I haven’t finished The Fiery Heart yet because I don’t heartbreak or cliffhangers.

10. Favorite female lead

Kate: Another tie between June Iparis from Champion by Marie Lu and Cammy Morgan from United We Spy by Ally Carter.

Caitlin: Cath from Fangirl for being the perfect fangirl. And Wren from Reboot by Amy Tintera for being badass and reserved but also emotional and relatable and awesome.

Christine: Cath from Fangirl

11. Favorite Debut author

Kate: Christine Terrill

Caitlin: Ugh. There’s too many. Amy Tintera. Lets just go with that. I hate making decisions.

Christine: Rainbow Rowell… although, I’m not sure she’s considered a debut author? She was to me this year, though.

12. What book are you most looking forward to in 2014

Kate: As always, I have more than one for this list. New series: Defy by Sara B. Larson (though this feels like cheating since it comes out on January 7); Series Conclusion: Infinite by jodi Meadows; Series Continuation: Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey; Standalone: Landline by Rainbow Rowell.

Caitlin: At the moment, Ruin and Rising. But also This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

Christine: Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo

13. Favorite ARC slated for 2014

Kate: This is a tie between Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi and The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.

Caitlin: Half Bad by Sally Green and Cress by Marissa Meyer. Also All that Glows by Ryan Graudin. Oh, and Alienated by Melissa Landers.

Christine: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa (Thank you, Harlequin!)

14. Least Favorite Book

Kate: Requiem by Lauren Oliver and Awaken by Meg Cabot

Caitlin: Taken by Erin Bowman

Christine: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

15. Biggest Disappointment

Kate: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Caitlin: Neptune’s Tears by Susan Waggoner,which I really enjoyed up until the…I don’t even know if you can call it an ending. It just kind of stopped. I actually thought I was missing pages.

Christine: Parallel by Lauren Miller

16. Biggest Surprise

Kate: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This was a surprise for me because I stalled on the first thirty-forty pages about four times before I got into it, and then I read it all in one sitting, totally engrossed.

Caitlin: The Rules by Stacey Kade. I picked up an ARC of this at ALA last January specifically to send to Christine because I knew she liked Stacey Kade. Then I forgot to put it in the box I sent her and ended up reading it myself. IT WAS SO GOOD! And I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t like Stacey Kade’s books but I was surprised about how much I loved it.

Christine: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

 

One and Only by Viv Daniels

The first review we’ve posted for a New Adult book! I don’t know what this excites me…but it does.

Caitlin: Having never read the Secret Society Girls books by Diana Peterfreund I honestly didn’t know what to expect from her writing in this genre.

Kate: I really didn’t either, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well suited her writing style was to her characters and this book.

Caitlin: Me too. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. Most of the time when I read NA books I expect the tried and true tropes and formats, but One and Only didn’t really have any of them but still managed to fit nicely into the genre.

Kate: I agree. Because the characters all transcended what you expected of them. You expected Tess to be insecure and weak and she wasn’t. She made bad choices, sure, but she was eighteen and she made the same bad choices all eighteen year olds do. I like that we saw how much more confident and sure of herself Tess was at twenty, even if she still wanted the same things for herself in the long term.

Caitlin: I liked that she very quickly owned up to her eighteen-year-old mistakes and we didn’t have deal with the fallout of them for very long. In fact it happened so quickly I remember wondering what was going to keep them apart long enough for there to be an entire book. Which brings me to the thing I really liked, Tess’s complicated family situation. And how all the characters dealt with it. I liked that that was just as much of a conflict in the story as the romantic conflict.

Kate: YES! Her father was a Grade A douchebag. I desperately wanted to punch him in the nuts through the whole book. And for a while I was pretty pissed at Tess’s mom as well because she seemed to value her material security a lot more than her daughter’s future. And I liked how the parent who wanted to fix things did and the one who was a douchebag mofo didn’t and gets to be all alone with his miserable worthless personality. Also, I love how much Hannah defied both my expectations as well as Tess’s.

Caitlin: Since I went into this book knowing that Hannah was the main character in the next one, I kind of expected her to be mostly a good person, though I was not expecting how well she took everything at the end. And I liked how in the end, these ladies decided being sisters was more important than their douchebag dad, and more important than any jealousy.

Kate: Which was especially surprising because Dylan is basically the most perfect boy that has ever breathed and you gotta lock that down. I would cage fight my own sister for Dylan because…sigh.

Caitlin: He was rather perfect. Nerdy and passionate and smart and confident. And I liked watching Tess grow in her own confidence as she spent time with Dylan. I really enjoyed how they both complimented each other in their relationship and there was never a point where the story was about Dylan’s man pain. I really, really appreciated that.

Kate: I loved that he was willing to fight for Tess, but that he recognized how complicated their situation was. I also REALLY loved what he did when he found out about her dad, which was exactly the opposite of the misunderstanding I expected. It was perfect understanding, both of her and their relationship.I felt like they deserved each other, which was good because Dylan is so perfect that he was almost too perfect. But, as I think i told you when I first finished this book, Tess deserves a perfect man in her life after twenty years of her heinous sperm donor parent.

Caitlin: Yes, Tess did deserve the perfection of Dylan. And I, too, enjoyed what happened when Dylan found out about the family situation. And I enjoyed how much his reaction, and hers, was set up in the book. In other misunderstandings that they have it is made clear that Dylan just needs time to get over it, while Tess immediately thinks they are over forever. And I liked how Dylan came to realize where that comes from and…their whole relationship was just a little too perfect, exactly how I like my fluffy romance books.

Kate: I feel like I should point out that, because I’m an idiot, the sex in this book took me by surprise. As in I was like, oh wait, are we about to…oh yes, it seems we are. And I don’t usually love sex in books, but I thought it was all handled really tastefully, and I like how neither of them shied away from their chemistry (ha, science jokes). Oh! And while I’m talking about things that sometimes alienate me in books/science, I really liked how the science aspect of this book was handled. I felt like I was able to keep up without feeling like a moron.

Caitlin: And that it felt like the author knew what they were talking about. That’s always a plus when science is happening in fiction.

Kate: Overall, this book was an incredibly pleasant surprise and an incredibly pleasant read. It was fluffy, but substantively so, and I loved the characters and their journey. It left me wanting more, but also really happy with where Tess and Dylan ended up. Plus, I can’t wait to read Hannah’s story.

 

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