Books I Didn’t Finish In 2018

untitled design

I made a point within the last couple of years to DNF books that I wasn’t liking for whatever reason. With that said, it’s very rare that I actually DNF a book. I only DNF’d a total of two books last year, which isn’t too bad. I thought it would be interesting to share them with you and explain why it was that I didn’t finish them. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

the unbecoming of mara dyer

The First book I couldn’t bring myself to finish was The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. This book is supposed to be a paranormal novel, but it read a lot like a contemporary romance. I didn’t get a sense of fear or dread when reading this book. I mostly felt bored as I anticipated something supernatural to happen. I got halfway through the book when I decided to DNF it. I was reading about Mara and Noah going out on their date, and I just never cared so little for anything in my life. I lost all interest at this point and decided to put it down.

zenith

The second book I didn’t finish was Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. What bothered me about this book is its use of exposition. Instead of integrating the exposition into the story in an organic way, the authors would pause the story and go into an info dump about the characters and the world therein. This really took me out of the story whenever it happened, and I found myself growing bored really fast. I also had a lot of trouble connecting to the characters. I thought all of the characters were really bland and two dimensional. I had no reason to care about the characters, as we’re told nothing about the crew of the Marauder other than they’re ruthless killers. That alone just isn’t enough to keep my attention, so I decided to put it down.

That’s all of the books I DNF’d in the last year. Let me know what you think of any of the books that I mentioned. Do you agree? Disagree? Also let me know what books you didn’t finish in the last year and why you didn’t finish them.

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My Top 5 Favorite Books of 2018

the best and worst of 2018

2018 wasn’t the best reading year in terms of the quantity of books I read, but it was a phenomenal year in terms of quality. Some of the books on this list have even made it to my list of favorite books of all time. I’m really excited to share my favorite books with you all so let’s get right into it.

dead mountain

5. Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar

This is easily the most fascinating read out of all the books I read last year. This is a nonfiction book about the investigation of the Dyatlov Pass Incident. For those not in the know the Dyatlov Pass Incident was this famous event in Russia back in 1959 in which nine hikers go on a trip into the Ural Mountains and never returned. A search party was sent out to find them, and when they were found they were found dead. Their bodies were found scattered miles apart, some of them with very violent injuries. Their deaths remain a mystery as their tent was found cut open from the inside out as if they were running from something, and several of the hikers were left in varying degrees of undress, some running outside without any shoes on. Their deaths remain unsolved to this day.

The book chronicles the author’s investigation into the incident. He even hiked up to the mountain pass where the hikers themselves traveled, and he remains one of the few Americans who ever made the trip. I’d rather not spoil it for anyone looking to read the book for themselves, but the author comes up with an answer from talking with some scientific experts. I’ve had a fascination with this case for a while now, and just reading the conclusion that Donnie Eichar had come to was really satisfying. Even though the case remains unsolved, I believe that Eichar found the answer.

the graveyard book4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This is the second Neil Gaiman book I read and easily my favorite so far. The Graveyard Book is a story about a little boy who lives in a graveyard and is raised by ghosts. I think this is technically a middle grade book, but anyone of any age can pick up and enjoy it. What I loved so much about this book was the writing. Neil Gaiman has such a whimsical writing style that I found so captivating. This writing style is really well suited to the story because so many fantastical things happen to the main character, Bod. A lot of the situations he’s put in are actually really scary, but because of his youthful innocence he’s often ignorant of the danger that’s presented before him. He always learns from these experiences, though, so by the time the story’s climax rolls around he’s well prepared for the final challenge he has to face.

aletheia

3. Aletheiby Megan Tennant

I kind of wish I was a booktuber and had vlogged my experience reading this, because my reactions were so pure. I have a review of this book which you can read here. I go into full detail about all of my feelings on this book in my review. This book takes place in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic setting in which the world is ravaged by a disease that takes away your memories. Megan Tennant’s writing is really well suited for the dystopian subgenre, because she has this uncanny ability to make me care about every character no matter their importance. There’s a character that’s killed off, a character whom we know very little about, and I was genuinely upset by their death. If you want a gritty dystopian novel that will tug at your heartstrings then this book is for you.

the poppy war

2. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

A lot of people might be surprised to learn this book didn’t make it to my top spot on account this is the book I seem to talk the most about. Indeed it doesn’t make my number one spot, but I still loved this book. I’d even put it up there as one of my favorite books of all time. The Poppy War is a grimdark fantasy inspired by the Sino-Japanese War. I have a strong interest in Asian studies, so I knew immediately that I had to read this book. Considering what the story is based off of there is a lot of violent imagery. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Me having an interest in war history was able to read it with no problem, but if you think you might need it I suggest you look up a full list of trigger warnings.

What I love about this book is of course the Asian imagery and history, especially the fact that it’s based off a real historical event. The events of the Sino-Japanese War were so brutal, and it blows my mind how so few people know about it. I think this is an important book in that it has the potential to enlighten people on this past event. I also feel strongly that this is an event that shouldn’t be forgotten, and so I appreciate that R.F. Kuang wrote this book as a sort of reminder.

the savior's champion

1. The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci

This is another dark fantasy that I fell absolutely in love with. This book can be compared to The Bachelorette if The Bachelorette were a battle to the death. If that piques your curiosity then I encourage you to pick it up. Like The Poppy War this book is very violent, but to a much lesser degree. You’re probably seeing a theme here. I really like violent and gritty stories. But what really makes this story standout is the romance. I generally don’t care for romance, so if I’m recommending you a romance you know it has to be good. The romantic subplot in The Savior’s Champion kind of acts as a juxtaposition against all of the dangerous challenges that the combatants of the Sovereign’s Tournament have to endure. By day the combatants fight to stay alive, and by night you see the blossoming love between the main character, Tobias, and his love interest, Leila. The love that they have for each other is so pure. I would go so far as to say that their romance made me change the way I think about love.

This concludes my top favorite books of 2018. I’m a little late to the party with this post, so if you’ve already made your list feel free to link me. I’m really interested to see what your favorites are. Let me know in the comments if you read any of these books and what your thoughts were.

2019 Reading Goals | 2018 Update

Yearly Reading Goals

Hello, everyone, and happy new year! Tomorrow marks one year since I started blogging. I know I haven’t been super active lately, but I’m hoping to change that in the coming new year. I started going to college last May and haven’t had much time for blogging. This next semester won’t be nearly as stressful as the last, so I’m hoping to return to blogging for a little while starting today. Naturally, I’m ending 2018 with an update on this past year’s reading goals, as well as updating my reading goals for the coming year.

Goodreads ChallengeSo, my first goal for 2018 was to read 100 books. As you can see by my Goodreads challenge pictured, I didn’t even come close. To be honest, I made that goal for myself before I had made the decision to go back to school. So, I’m not surprised that I didn’t reach this goal. The reason why I made this goal in the first place was because I was concerned that I might run out of things to write about for this blog. I did run out of things to write about, but I don’t feel that it’s because I didn’t read as much as I had originally planned. I found that I read a lot of books this year that I just didn’t have much to say about, and that’s okay. This year I plan to have a more relaxed take on blogging in which if I have something to say about a book then I’ll post a review, and if I don’t then I won’t stress about it. In terms of how many books I want to read this upcoming year, if I can match the number of books I read this past year then I’ll be happy.

The second goal I made for 2018 involved being more active on Goodreads. I kind of fell through on this goal. I never failed to update what I was reading, but in terms of interacting with other readers like I originally planned nothing really came of it. I’ve found that I like Goodreads more as a place to keep track of my reading rather than a place to communicate with others. I much prefer Twitter when it comes to discussions with other readers. This year I’d like to try to be more active on Twitter, as I’ve been neglecting Twitter as well as my blog this past year. I’d also like to be more interactive here on WordPress. When it comes to blogging I kind of just stay in my own little corner of the Internet. This year I’d like to read other people’s blogs as well as comment on discussions. I think doing that would enrich my blogging experience a little more, and I get to meet more bookish bloggers.

My third goal of 2018 was to read A Series of Unfortunate Events, which I’m proud to say that I’ve completed. I also wrote a review on the series that you can read here. I think I’m going to make it a thing every year where I strive to read at least one series per year. This year I’d like to read The Chronicles of Narnia. I have a bind up of the whole series, and I even read the first two books this month. I’m hoping to post a review once I’m done with it.

The fourth goal I made was a total failure. My goal was to go on a book buying ban and read the books that I already had, as I’ve acquired quite a bit at the beginning of the year. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I ended up breaking my ban, and I quite possibly bought more books this year than I did last year. It was a disaster. The problem is I have people in my life who enable my bad book buying habits. I never had anyone to hold me accountable and tell me no. I’d like to try a book buying ban again this year, but as things are, I don’t think it’s going to pan out.

My fifth and final goal for 2018 was to read more classics. The only classics I really read this year were The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupѐry, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I guess The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe count as classics, too. As you can see, I haven’t read many. I’m not the kind of person who can make a specific TBR and stick to it, so I feel like this goal was just set up to fail. I think this year I’m going to just focus on books that interest me, and that’s it.

That’s the update on my 2018 goals, as well as what I’m hoping to achieve in 2019. As you can see, I didn’t accomplish many of my goals this year. I’m hoping I’ll be more successful in the new year. As for you all, I hope 2018 was kind to you and that 2019 is even better. Let me know in the comments what some of your reading resolutions are. Have a happy and safe new year, and I’ll see you in 2019.

Book Review: Aletheia

aletheia

Aletheia takes place in a world ravaged by a disease that takes away memories. The only city known to have a cure is the city of Iris. Citizens of the city are guaranteed a vaccination preventing them from ever getting infected, but those who were unlucky enough to get infected had only one option: to forfeit their life to Iris and live enslaved underground beneath the city. Our main character 736 is one of the nameless who gave up their freedom for the cure. The story follows her as she plans to break out her fellow prisoners and set them all free.

I finished reading this book weeks ago and haven’t gotten around to writing a review until now simply because I had trouble putting my love for this book into words. Now that I’ve had some time to think on it, I’m finally here with a review.

First off, I will say that I had a little bit of trouble getting into this book. The problem being that it’s written in first person present tense. I’m definitely more of a third person past tense kind of girl. I will say, however, that I got used to this writing style really quick. Something about first person present tense makes it feel as if you’re experiencing the story as it happens along side the protagonist. This book has really changed my opinion on the style and has opened me up to more books written in this style.

What made this book such a good page turner for me was its suspense. The action scenes were all so exciting to read, and the suspense of it all kept me thoroughly stressed out for the vast majority of the book. There were times where I had trouble putting the book down because I just had to keep reading to see what would happen next. And during times when I finally had to put the book down it became all that I would think about. Aletheia had pretty much consumed my life at this point.

The world building in this book is phenomenal. Everything about this book just felt really planned out. I had so many questions about the world as I was reading, some I didn’t think I would get answers for, but they were all answered in the end. There was so much to learn about in this book, and I have a feeling we’re going to learn even more in the next book to come.

The characterization in this book is also really good. I found myself caring for the safety of all the characters, even characters that you don’t get a chance to really know. There’s one character in which we only see them in a couple of scenes, and when they’re killed unexpectedly I found myself really shook. This is a testament to how well these characters are written.

If I had to give one criticism it would be that I wish there was more context behind 736’s relationship with 1633. We know that they’re really close friends, but we never got to learn how they came to be so close. With her other relationships with 93 and Rose we learn a little bit about how she met them and how they became friends, but there doesn’t seem to be any context to her relationship with 1633. I’m willing to forgive this, though, as I’m pretty sure we’re going to learn more in future installments in the series. 1633 seems to have some kind of connection to 736’s past that we’re not in the know about. Or at least that’s my guess.

In all I think this is an exceptional novel that redefines the dystopian genre in young adult fiction. It’s much more gritty and violent than other books within the genre. I’d recommend this to dystopian fans looking for a fresh take on the genre.

Rating: 5/5

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag | 2018

The Mid-Year

Today I’m coming at you guys with the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag. Let’s look at some of the books I read so far this year.

The best book you’ve read so far in 2018

the graveyard book

My favorite book I’ve read so far this year would have to be The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I was immediately taken by Neil Gaiman’s whimsical writing style. This is easily my new favorite book of his.

Your favorite sequel of the year

the reptile room

Probably The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket. I chose this one out of all the books in the series simply because it was my favorite out of all of them.

A new release you haven’t read but really want to

 

I’ve been putting off buying The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci for the sole reason that I already have so many books on my TBR. However, I’ve broken my book buying ban multiple times this year so my TBR keeps growing. I should just give in and buy it already. While I’m at it I might as well add Batman: Nightwalker to the list, because I haven’t read that either.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

catwoman soulstealer

I’m really looking forward to Catwoman: Soulstealer, even though I’ve yet to read Batman: Nightwalker. Whoops.

Your biggest disappointment

ready player one

I wanted to like Ready Player One so bad. I tried really hard to like it, but it just wasn’t for me. Again, you can read my review of it here if you want to know my thoughts.

Biggest surprise of the year

the little prince

I was surprised by The Little Prince in that I didn’t expect it to be so profound. I expected a cute children’s story, but got a deep analysis of adulthood.

Favorite new to you or debut author

the ultimate hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

Douglas Adams. I recently read the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, and I can see now why he’s such a beloved author to so many.

Your new fictional crush

Don’t have one, sorry.

New favorite character

I don’t think I have a new favorite character either.

A book that made you cry

None. I’m not a big book crier.

A book that made you happy

p.s. i like you

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West was such a cute and fluffy book. I had a lot of fun reading it.

Your favorite book to movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year

The only real book to movie adaptation I’ve seen this year was adaptation of The Little Prince on Netflix, so I’m going with that. It was a really cute movie in my opinion, and I enjoyed the creative liberties taken by the director.

Favorite blog post you’ve published this year

I’m really proud of my review of A Tale of Two Cities. I published it in January and it still gets views from time to time. I just hope that it’s helpful for people.

The most beautiful book you have bought/received this year

aletheia

I recently bought Aletheia by Megan Tennant, and I’m in love with the cover. Not only is is beautiful, but it has a certain subtlety that I didn’t notice until I read further into the book.

What are some books that you need to read by the end of the year?

 

My current TBR is far to long to list everything, so I’ll just name a few. Firstly is Aletheia, which I’m working on right now, and second is The Savior’s Champion. I need to hurry up and hop on that hype train!

That’s the first half of the year! I feel as if I hadn’t accomplished much. Maybe the latter half of the year will be more productive.

Let me know in the comments what the best book you’ve read so far is? Until next time, happy reading!

May & June Wrap Up | 2018

MonthlyWrap Up

I’m finally back with a wrap-up post. My excuse for missing last month’s is that I only read one book for the month of May. So to remedy this I decided to wait and combine my May and June wrap-up into one post. Without further ado let’s get into it.

and another thing...

The one and only book I read in the month of May was And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer. This is supposed to be the sixth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. If I had to describe this book in one word it would be “meh”. It wasn’t bad, however being that it wasn’t written by Douglas Adams I found it lacked the same charm that the other books in the series had. You can read my complete review of the book here.

turtles all the way down

The first book I read in the month of June was Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I felt really connected to this book for its mental health representation. I can’t speak for the OCD representation, but I thought the way John Green wrote Aza’s anxiety was pretty spot on. You can read my complete review of the book here.

ready player one

The second and final book I read in the month of June was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This is easily the most disappointing book I’ve read so far this year. The first half was really solid and I had a lot of fun reading it, but then the second half began to slow down and I began to see the book for what it really is. This book is really just a bunch of wish fulfillment dedicated to men in geek culture. Because of this I couldn’t connect to the main character or his story. You can read my complete review of the book here.

That’s it for my May and June wrap-up. As you can see it was a very unproductive month in terms of how my reading went. My Goodreads goal has definitely taken a hit. But what else can I expect after making the decision to go back to school full time?

What did you guys read this past month? Did you have a productive reading month? Let me know in the comments.

Book Review: Ready Player One

ready player one

The OASIS is a virtual world created by renowned video game developer James Halliday. Before he died he set up a contest within the game, the prize being his entire fortune as well as rule over his creation, the OASIS. The objective of the contest is to find three keys and complete the challenges that each key represents. At the end the player who completes all three tasks is presented with an Easter egg. Whoever finds the Easter egg wins the contest. This is where the story of Wade Watts begins as he takes on the challenge of finding Halliday’s Easter egg. On his journey he meets other egg hunters, or gunters, who are competing against him, and ends up making friends who help him along the way.

Right off the bat, the first impression I got from the book when I first began reading it, was that this seemed like a very typical male fantasy. Because of this I had trouble connecting to the main character as well as the story as a whole. For instance Wade is kind of an overweight kid with acne problems, so he makes an avatar which is more or less an exact copy of himself only with a thinner build and clearer complexion. He befriends and falls in love with a famous female gunter. I also interpreted the story as a desire for geek culture to gain popularity. This seems to be a very common fantasy among male geeks, which I personally don’t get, because geek culture has never been more mainstream than it is right now.

While we’re on the topic of geek culture I thought the representation of geeks in this novel was really shallow. There’s a scene within the first few chapters in which Wade and his buddy Aech team up and humiliate a kid who didn’t know as much Halliday trivia as they did. This perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with geek culture as a whole, and it’s this kind of exclusionary behavior that you don’t want to represent in your work. This scene is basically the equivalent to the “fake geek” accusations we hear all the time in real life, and it’s really annoying.

In terms of the mass amounts of pop culture references, I thought it was all a little much. There were a lot of obscure references that I just didn’t get. I’d prefer a novel in which knowing tons of useless trivia isn’t a prerequisite. Also, am I the only one who cringes whenever a pop culture reference is made in a book? That kind of thing is fine for satirical shows like South Park or Saturday Night Live, but when I see it in a piece of literature that demands to be taken seriously I just find it embarrassing.

Another thing I found grossly embarrassing was the representation of the Japanese characters Daito and Shoto. When you’re first introduced to these guys they bring up the word honor about three times in one scene. I’m sorry, but the age of the samurai is over. No one in Japan talks like this. I also found it really strange that Ernest Cline knew what the word hikikomori meant, but he didn’t know that the word for suicide is jisatsu. Instead of jisatsu he used the word seppuku which is a form of ritualistic suicide performed by samurai. Again, the age of the samurai is over.

One thing I’ll say I liked about this book was the adventure aspect. The scenes in which Wade is solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles were easily the most enjoyable part of the story. On the other hand, however, I thought all of the scenes in between were really slow and hard to get through. In the hacking scenes especially I thought there was a lot of telling and no showing, which made it all boring to read.

In all, I’d have to say that this book wasn’t for me. And that’s okay, because not everything needs to be made for me. I do see why someone might like this, and I do recommend it to anyone who’s looking to get into the science fiction genre. I feel like this would make for a good gateway book to introduce you to the genre.

Rating: 2/5