Now that I’m back in the work force, I don’t always have time to read books. But with audiobooks, I get to listen to the story told to me by excellent narrators while I’m commuting, doing chores, doing errands, etc. Unfortunately, most of the books in my TBR are indie books and they don’t have Audible versions. So listening audiobooks is actually my opportunity to listen to popular books I’ve been curious about. I started with the first books of four series that piqued my interest:

  • Red Rising (starts the Red Rising series) by Pierce Brown
  • Caraval (starts the Caraval series) by Stephanie Garber

(Click on the links for the GoodReads page where you can read the synopses, if by some chance you haven’t heard of one or more of these books and are curious.)

I’m happy to say I enjoyed all of them and are continuing with their sequels. I have yet to actually sit down and write a proper review for each of them and I’m sure it’ll be daunting. I have so much to say, especially for Mistborn and Red Rising, I don’t even know where to begin. Just wow.

I’ve included below some snippets of my instagram stories when I was listening to these for last June.  

Unfortunately this is a late post since we’re heading towards the middle of April now. But I want to talk about the books I’ve read so far and the current count is 9, which means I’m behind on my goal of 50 books for the year – but I do plan to catch up!

My TBR has changed as I added books I’ve received from the Indiecember Giveaway pack and prioritized them. I managed to read one book from my initial TBR, though, which had consisted of 5 books. I also read books that were not on my TBR out of curiosity… I guess I needed to discipline myself.

My current TBR will be a different post, but here are the books that I’ve read as of the end of March, a little synopsis on them, and my overall thoughts.

23635434The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin / Elio M. Garcia Jr. / Linda Antonsson. It took me a while to finish this book, but I managed to finish it before deciding on my TBR. This is a fictional history book on the rich lore of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series told from the perspective of a maester. Like a real history book, some parts were boring, but I’d say 70% is quite interesting and in fact intriguing. This definitely makes me want to pick up Fire & Blood but I have a long list of books to read as of now, so it’s not really a priority. You don’t need to read this book to enjoy or understand the books in the main series but I feel that it will enhance the experience especially if the world-building of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series interests you.

26308563Echo Volume I, II, & III by Kent Wayne. Only the first volume was in my TBR but I continued with the series out of curiosity. This series actually contains four books, but I found myself stuck in what seemed like an endless loop of training montage in the middle of the fourth book, so I put it on-hold for a while. This is a sci-fi dystopian series with fabulous world-building centered around Kishchan Atriya as he struggles through action-packed missions full of tech and mech and discovers himself through magic and mind-bending philosophy. Not fond of all the “Old Earth” references because they distract me from the story, but the action, world-building, and the main character himself definitely makes this a wonderful read. So far, anyway.

35034255Reflections by Briana Morgan. This is the first book I received from the Indiecember Giveaway. This is about a young insecure girl, with past trauma, who encounters and joins a tribe of shapeshifters who helps her acquire the same ability, as she struggles to solve the mystery of girls being murdered in the woods, as well as learn to love and be confident with herself. I wish that the fantasy elements in this story was used more, but overall it is a decent read.

42946515Theonite: Planet Adyn by M. L. Wang. This is the first book of a series, the second of which I plan to read in the future. The main character finds herself with special abilities that no one else seem to have and she learns to harness and hide them, until she discovers that the new kid in class seem to have abilities too and may not even belong on the same planet. I enjoyed this book, especially the main character Joan who is so endearing, and will definitely want to continue the journey with her.

40220795Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Was not in my TBR but picked it up out of curiosity. This follows an imprisoned young assassin who is given a chance to gain her freedom by competing in a tournament against other mercenary-type warriors, while finding herself in a romance with the prince, and trying to solve murders occurring in the palace. This book was a struggle to me because the main character was poorly written as an assassin, romance was bland, and the resolution of the mystery wasn’t particularly compelling. However, I did enjoy the main character as a teenager, as well as two other characters, and the glimpse of the magical lore intrigued me. Overall, it wasn’t a waste of time and I do plan to read the next book in the series someday as I do want to follow the characters as well as learn more about the lore.

41139191Reciprocity by Sean M. Locke. A very unique story set in a dark sci-fi world about a lesbian mafia goon who finds herself in the middle of a gang war as she helps a noblewoman retrieve a dangerous family weapon prototype off the streets, and falls for her in the process. The writing is slick and clever, the world-building is captivating, and the characters are cool and complex. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and very happy to know that the author himself confirmed that there will be a sequel because the two main characters of this story definitely deserves it.

44172434Swinging Sanity by N. F. Mirza. A poetry book where pain and darkness are beautifully expressed. From the title to the art to the words themselves, the book is an excellent package. My favorites are: “Clash of Extremes”, “Insomniac”, and “A Million Dead Stars”. This was also not part of my TBR but, once again, I picked it up out of curiosity. Totally worth it.

 

That’s it for now.

Thanks for reading!

Swinging Sanity by N. F. Mirza

44172434When the author was struggling with loss, illness, oppression and a perpetual cycle of anxiety attacks and phases of depression, she spent day and night stabbing keys.

And out poured poetry.

When the abyss spat her out she strung together those mutilated verses and compiled this book for the world to read what it feels like when you are swinging between sanity and insanity.

REVIEW: Pain and darkness beautifully expressed | ★

From the title to the art to the words themselves, the book is an excellent package. The poetry captures the darkness of pain and madness beautifully. My favorites are: “Clash of Extremes”, “Insomniac”, and “A Million Dead Stars”.

Reciprocity by Sean M. Locke

41139191All Kaeri Hawen wants is a peaceful life in the Lower Terrace. No more collecting debts. No more breaking kneecaps.

But then the Boss’s loose cannon of a son massacres a dozen rival gangsters with a single pull of the trigger. Kaeri’s quiet retirement is off the menu—for now.

Kaeri knows she’ll get no rest if this looming gang war erupts into the streets. If she wants out of her life of crime, she’ll have to stop Kasper and his devilish weapon first.

Maria Cantabile is a clever young noblewoman with a penchant for tinkering and a devastating right cross. She’s descended into the Lower Terrace to retrieve two precious possessions: her delinquent little sister, and the stolen prototype of her reciprocating repeater carbine.

Kaeri knows just where to find both—the girl and the gun sit in Kasper’s greedy, bloodied hands.

The deadly noblewoman and the gold-hearted gangster will have to work together to stop a city-wide bloodbath. They’ll have to break their own rules, and betray their own families. They’ll have to risk falling in love. Do they have what it takes to save the Lower Terrace, and save each other?

This dieselpunk crime fantasy is perfect for readers who enjoy the hard boiled noir fiction of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, but want to see more LGBT romance and airships. If that sounds like your shot of whiskey, check out RECIPROCITY!

REVIEW: An excellent sci-fi noir mobster story with a lesbian lead | ★★★★★

I am not that much into mafia stories and I was not able to relate to everything here, but boy, oh, boy, is this a solid piece! The writing is slick and clever, the world-building is captivating, and the characters are cool and complex. I would definitely love to follow Kaeri and Maria in another adventure, perhaps in a sequel? ;)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

40220795Read the book that started the phenomenon. Sarah J. Maas’s New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series has taken the world by storm.

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament – fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

REVIEW: Enjoyable if you don’t take it seriously | ★★★☆☆

I feel like the main character Celaena Sardothian being given the label “the greatest assassin” is a huge insult to the term “assassin” and I really resent the book for that. She has the behavior, attitude, and mentality of a modern-day teenager because she is a teenager (although not supposedly in modern-day), and actually, there’s nothing wrong with that. But she’s as immature as teenagers tend to be, and to label her an assassin just to make her look cool is bringing down the coolness factor of the word “assassin”. The way she reacts to and views certain things are quite normal for a teenager but somewhat laughable for an assassin. There was a part where I actually laughed out loud because she was upset that she was not invited to the ball. This “greatest assassin” is upset that she was not invited to the ball. LOL! I wish there was this angle of “she was a trained assassin but is just now learning how to be a teenager” coming-of-age theme just to make her immaturity a bit more believable. We could also maybe get flashbacks of her past kills from time to time. But we get neither of these and instead we have an immature assassin at best.

The romance is a bit bland because instead of it being the “forbidden romance” between assassin and prince, it felt more like two teenagers being attracted to each other where I’m more inclined to let them enjoy their youth (so stop being overdramatic and just go for it!), than to feel any kind of weight or stakes for this kind of romance. I guess this is supposed to be a love triangle… and I’m actually rooting for the other guy — who, by the way, seems a bit young and inexperienced for a “captain” (yet another term whose coolness factor is brought down).

The tournament itself is also problematic. We have elimination tests that are set so far apart, and they’re not even that elaborate. And we are informed of some of them in hindsight and kind of dismissively. And in between these tests the participants are required to train — but why would established assassins, murderers, thieves, etc. need to be given time to train? It would have been much more believable if this whole thing was like a young assassins academy or something and they are on their way to graduating by performing these series of elimination tests. Also, the action is really lacking, which is weird because introducing a main character as an assassin usually implies a lot of action.

There is also a mystery plot where people in the castle are being killed horribly. To avoid spoilers, let me just say it ended up to be underwhelming for me.

Now that I’ve given my negative points, I’m gonna start with the positives.

The cover art looks good. That’s all!

Haha, kidding. From the get go I realized that this book is on the less mature side of Young Adult, so I decided not to take it so seriously and try to enjoy what I can.

Removing the assassin aspect to it, Celaena is not exactly unlikeable. Although I never felt that she was cool, I feel that she is a relatable character (for teenagers, not assassins) who can stand on her own. I love that she enjoys reading and is resourceful. More often than not, her connection to Chaol, Dorian, and Nehemia are enjoyable to read and I find these friendships believable. Dorian is not particularly interesting, but Chaol and Nehemia are. I never really believed him as a Captain, but Chaol feels like that honorable dependable buddy for both Celaena and Dorian. Nehemia is probably the most intriguing character in this story and that’s all I’m gonna say about her (to avoid spoilers).

The pacing of the story was also good. There were only few moments that felt dragging or too fast. The writing was very accessible and although not perfect, it was quite decent. And it played a huge part on why I enjoyed the book in spite of my frustrations with it. Another thing that kept me glued to the story is the intrigue behind the magical lore.

In the end, despite having major problems with it, I still managed to enjoy this book, with the hope that the next ones are better.