Immortal Shadow | A Book Review

Title: Immortal Shadow

Author: Anderson Atlas

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction

About the book: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Immortal Shadow is book number three in the Heroes of Distant Planets series. If you haven’t read the first two, which I didn’t, you can still read this one on its own without a problem. More than anything, the story is a prequel to the first two novellas, providing a bit of backstory.

First impressions: When I received my copy in the mail, I was initially surprised at the length. It’s shorter than I thought it would be, especially for a fantasy novel. Then I came to realize Immortal Shadow is supposed to be a novella. That said, I think there’s potential for it to developed into a novel. Part of me wishes Atlas made the book longer or at least included more description about the world. Additionally, I didn’t expect to find illustrations to go along with the story. In my opinion, the images added to the reading experience in a good way. They helped me visualize the fantastical elements better.

Summary: A slave earns the right to rule a planet. He does so without empathy or mercy. Then a human being comes along and challenges authority.

Characters: The main character, Jibbawk, gets less likeable as the novella goes on. There weren’t many redeeming characteristics that made me want to root for him. At one point, I started to believe the author intended for him to be the villain, so to speak. On the other hand, the human from earth, Adam, is much more likeable. He’s smart and resourceful, probably also the hero of the story. A good portion of the book centers around the relationship between these two characters.

Quote:

“Greatness means never having to fight your own battles.”

Conflict: A non-human feels threatened by a human.

Writing: I spotted several writing errors scattered throughout the novella. Overall, there’s some world-building, but the scenes could have been fleshed out in greater detail. The plot advances quickly, sometimes too quickly. It almost felt choppy. Still, I came to appreciate the fast pace and hard action.

Final thoughts: It’s different than anything I’ve ever read before. I don’t think the book would appeal to everyone, but if you’re looking for a fun fantasy read, you might enjoy Immortal Shadow.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you buy through them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

A Court of Mist and Fury | A Book Review

Title: A Court of Mist and Fury

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy

About the book: It’s the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.

First impressions: I had high hopes going in because I enjoyed the first one. I like Maas as a writer. I especially love the Throne of Glass series. That said, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of the story in Mist and Fury, since I’ve been avoiding spoilers on social media as much as possible. Also, I didn’t expect the book to be as long as it is, since the first novel is shorter. 

Summary: Feyre has to deal with her past (described in A Court of Thorns and Roses) to face the present (explored in Mist and Fury) and shape her future (continued in Wings and Ruin).

Characters: I found myself needing some time to get to know the new characters. At first, because I didn’t know much of their backstory, I had a tough time feeling anything for them. But Maas slowly reveals little pieces of the past in regards to Rhysand’s cousin (Morrigan) and friends (Amren, Azriel, and Cassian). So it got easier to connect with everyone as the novel progressed. Of course, there are plenty of scenes with Feyre and Rhysand together, but individually as well. Because of the longer length, I think there’s more character development in this novel than the first, especially with respect to the female protagonist.

Quote:

“Don’t let the hard days win..”

Conflict: Bad people have power. Feyre and friends have to stop said bad people from gaining more power. But things don’t come easy for them.

Writing: Maas balances world-building with fast-paced action. The plot advances at a good, suspenseful pace while still packing in enough detailed description for readers to know what’s going on. What’s more, the banter between characters is a bonus. What’s more fun to read than friendly teasing?

Final thoughts: The ending is all kinds of fun, but everything that can go wrong does. Although the Throne of Glass series will always have a special and bigger place in my heart, I would recommend this series to anyone interested in power, politics, and passion. I’m not sure how I feel about the flirty leading to steamy romance, yet I managed to survive all those sort of scenes, if you know what I mean. I’ll try to read Wings and Ruin in the near future, but I’m usually late to the hyped books party. 

This post has affiliate links to Book Depository. If you buy through them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Every Last Lie | A Book Review

Title: Every Last Lie

Author: Mary Kubica

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

About the book: It’s a suspenseful standalone novel. I received an advanced reader’s copy from Goodreads.

First impressions: I was excited to say the least. Even before starting the story, it seemed right up my alley. I liked the design on the front cover as well as the blurb on the back cover. 

Summary: Clara’s husband, Nick, dies in a car crash, and she’s left to figure out what actually happened.

Characters: I liked Nick more than Clara, even through she’s the protagonist. I didn’t have a problem with her early on. In fact, I felt awful for Clara. However, in my opinion, she becomes more and more unlikeable as the story progresses. Her actions in the end caught me off guard but not in a good way. I get that she’s dealing with grief, yet I felt greater sympathy towards Nick who isn’t perfect by any means either. I could just relate to him a little bit better.

Quote:

“My knees buckle for one quick moment, and just like that we’re eighteen years old again, wild and reckless, living only for the moment, not caring about what tomorrow may bring.”

Conflict: Clara begins to think Nick’s death wasn’t an accident, so she starts hunting for the truth only to discover people haven’t been entirely honest with her.

Writing: It’s told in alternating perspectives between Nick before the crash and Clara after it. I also found myself surprised at the longer length of some sentences, especially considering the book is supposed to be a fast-paced thriller. The chapters were relatively short though. Overall, the dialogue and description worked well to establish a pace that picked up as the novel went on.

Final thoughts: I think Kubica did a fine job building up suspense. That’s why I thought the story would lead up to a bigger revelation. But it didn’t. Every Last Lie ended differently than I expected. This book isn’t your typical whodunit story. Although I can see people being spilt on the ending, I’d still recommend it if you’re a fan of mysteries or thrillers that deal with grief.

This post has affiliate links to Book Depository. If you buy through them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

How To Remember What Books You’ve Read

Unless you have a perfect memory, it’s tough to remember all the books you’ve read. But how can you keep a record of everything your eyes have pored over or skimmed? 

You want to remember the texts you read, don’t you? Imagine thinking you finished a book but not being entirely sure you did. It almost feels like a bookshelf falling to the ground.

Here are ways to remember the amazing, terrible, and mediocre books you’ve read. 

Use Goodreads. 

Goodreads is a godsend, especially since you can access it on a computer, laptop, or smartphone. I can’t believe I took nearly 18 years to make an account. If you’re looking for an online website where you can track books you’ve read and what you want to read next, get on Goodreads.

Keep a reader notebook. 

On the other hand, who doesn’t love using a physical notebook to record all the books they’ve read. I write down the author and title along with when I started and finished the text. I also tried getting into journaling about the books I’ve read to help myself with writing reviews after I’ve finished reading something. But so far, I don’t find myself reaching for that journal very often. Habits are hard to build.

Create an Excel spreadsheet.

Spreadsheets are fun, doubly so if they’re colourful. If you don’t want to make a Goodreads account but want a digital log, an Excel sheet might work well for you.

How do you remember what you read?

The Women In The Walls | A Book Review

Title: The Women in the Walls

Author: Amy Lukavics

Genre: Horror/Paranormal

About the book: It’s a standalone novel that’s supposed to be scary, but I don’t get scared easily, so the story was really more unusual to me than anything. I also received the book as an advance uncorrected proof from Goodreads.

First impressions: I thought the novel started off with promise. Things actually happened in the beginning. And then the pace of the plot slowed down. 

Summary: A girl in a weird house living with people who act weird because of some weird reason.

Characters: To be honest, I didn’t care much for any of the characters. I felt like I barely got to know anyone properly even the main character, Lucy. It’s a short book.

Quote:

“She understands that smiling is tactical, that words are for getting things that you want, that tears have no use except to expose disgusting, snotty shortcomings.”

Conflict: Lucy starts hearing voices, and she’s forced to confront what’s going on in a house that’s been in her family for quite some time.

Writing: It’s an uncorrected proof, so the book had some errors sprinkled throughout. Nothing too major. The dialogue is all right. The description is simple. 

Final thoughts: A lot happened in the end, unlike the middle. Questions posed get answered at least, although the ending isn’t all happy and pretty. The book isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, certainly not mine. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. I can’t even think of someone off the top of my head. There are better horror stories out there.

This post has affiliate links to Book Depository. If you buy through them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

My Reading Journey

I could write a book about my journey as a reader. But I’ll write a short blog post instead.

I loved books as a child. As a teenager, I still do. I might even love books more now than I used to. I don’t see that changing when I turn twenty in August. Gosh, I’m getting old.

I used to read all the time as a kid. I still do. Unlike a lot of other things and people, reading is something that’s remained in my life all these years.

More often than not, I found myself bored at school. But I was never bored during silent reading time. That was my favourite part of the day, lunch and recess included. Breaks suck when you have no friends.

I remember a teacher recommending a book to me in grade five. I fell in love with everything about that story. From then on I vowed not to dismiss book recommendations, unless they come from a source I vehemently dislike.

I also remember those assessments teachers did in elementary where they asked students to read a passage out loud. I was terrified I’d come across a word I didn’t know how to pronounce. I can’t recall if my fear ever came to pass. So I like to believe I did well.

Over the summer when I had more time to read, I went through books quickly. I once binge-read an entire series in the span of twenty-two days.

Then high school happened. If my memory serves me correctly, I read more in grade nine and grade twelve. At least, it feels like I did. I’m not sure what happened in grades ten and eleven. I know what happened. I wrote like a madwoman in ten and started this blog in eleven. Perhaps I’ll write a post detailing my writing and blogging journey.

Somehow I’ve managed to read every single day for I want to say the past two years at least. Probably even longer than that. I can’t remember the last time I went twenty-four hours without reading a book. Which is insane.

I began university in 2015. So I’ve had to balance reading for pleasure and reading for school. The previous sentence should read I don’t have a social life. I’m perfectly okay with that. 

Honestly, books got me through some of the toughest times in my life. And I have no doubt they will continue to do so.

Queen Of Shadows | A Book Review

Title: Queen of Shadows

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy

About the book: It’s the fourth novel in the Throne of Glass series.

First impressions: I was initially surprised at the longer length of this book, especially since the others in the series so far are shorter. But it didn’t feel unnecessarily long. If anything, the story was too short for me. Also, I read the previous novel, Heir of Fire, several months ago, so I spent the first few chapters trying to remember everything that happened in the first three books. Maas did a good job piquing my interest early and holding it though. 

Summary: A queen has to fight for everyone and everything she cares about.

Characters: I thoroughly enjoyed all the characters. They have different personalities and develop in their own unique ways, not just in this book but in the series as a whole. The banter between them is fun, funny even. I like Maas’ humour.

Quote:

“Stay the course, but also plot another one.”

Conflict: Aelin and friends are trying to stop the good guys and gals from being injured, imprisoned, or killed.

Writing: I’m a fan. It’s descriptive enough but not too descriptive. I think the story has a good balance of action and dialogue, enough of both to keep me engaged.

Final thoughts: The ending is surprisingly satisfying. Also, I read the book during some trying times, so I found myself quite emotional. Then again, I’m invested in the characters. There are many emotional scenes in QoS as well. I highly recommend it.

This post has affiliate links to Book Depository. If you buy through them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Why I Read

I read because I want to. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing when I’m reading.

It lets me unwind after a long day. I get to relax after a stressful morning or tiring afternoon. My body has a chance to recover while my brain is challenged. Books push me to think. Place myself in someone else’s shoes and see things in a different perspective.

I read for fun. Reading is fun. It’s enjoyable. More often than not, I’d rather stay at home and read a book than leave my house and hit the town.

Authors inspire me to tell my own story. Characters motivate me to be a better human being.

I read to escape. I like getting away from the world I live in. I don’t always want to be where I am. So it’s nice to transport myself somewhere else temporarily.

Reading is something I get to do on my own terms. I choose what I want to read. I decide when and where I read. How I read. 

I read to step away from the screen. To put down my phone. To turn off my computer.

Books are there for me when people are not. 

I read because it’s exciting and exhilarating. My heart beats faster. My mind runs faster.

Time spent reading is time well spent. I don’t feel like I’m wasting precious hours of my life when I read. Instead I feel alive. Like I’m living.

I read because I need to. It keeps me sane in an insane world. 

Reading helps me see the good in fictional characters and makes me believe real people can be amazing too.

The Gathering | A Book Review

Title: The Gathering

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Paranormal fiction; Urban fantasy

About the book: It’s the first in the Darkness Rising trilogy.

First impressions: I felt as though the beginning read more like a contemporary novel with the main character attending her local high school where everyone knows everyone. Not much happened early on.

Summary: A normal girl in a normal town realizes she isn’t all that normal and her town isn’t either.

Characters: I wanted more character development overall, so I could get to know everyone a bit better. Maya, the protagonist, is flawed but likeable. I could not for the life of me picture how anyone looked like.

Quote:

“But I don’t want to see you beating yourself up every time you make a mistake.”

Conflict: Maya is trying to figure out her own background and history while dealing with the weird things happening in the present moment.

Writing: Armstrong really loves the word “though”. The writing is simple, easy to read. I do wish the author described people and places in greater detail, however.

Final thoughts: I hoped to have more answers by the end. Instead I just have a ton of unanswered questions. But I think this book probably sets the stage for the sequel. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a realistic story with relatable characters and elements of the paranormal.

This post contains an affiliate link to Book Depository.

How To Decide What To Read Next

Let’s set the scene, shall we? 

You start a book. You finish it. Then you’re faced with the dilemma of deciding what to read next.

I feel your pain. Too many books and too little time means I’ve been struggling my whole life.

Don’t worry. Next time, you can always:

Roll a dice. Especially great if you have a selection of six books to choose from. Number each one and get rolling. It’s not so great if you’re a normal human being with an insanely long to-be-read list.

Ask a friend. Useful when you trust your friend’s judgement, and you’re in dire need of a good recommendation. Not helpful when said friend is drunk, and doesn’t read much or at all while sober. In which case you need new friends. I’m kidding.

Read a review. Unsure about a book? Find a review or two. Unsure about ten billion books? I guess you’ll be spending a few decades reading reviews then. At least when you’re done, you’ll have a better idea of what to pick up? Or maybe you won’t. Then you’re back where you began. It’s not a bad place to be.

So how are you going to decide what book you’ll read next?