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Monday, December 31, 2018

Bookish Regrets of 2018

Bookish Regrets of 2018

2018 has come to an end, and as I look back and reflect on the year I have many regrets and things I wish I had done differently. This was not a good year for either my reading or my blog, as I let personal dilemmas get in the way of things I truly wanted to accomplish. 

I am determined to make 2019 better, but want to first address where I lacked and didn’t succeed last year. 

The biggest goal I had set for myself was the Goodreads Reading Challenge, where I attempted to read 100 books in 2018. This is something I have accomplished before, but after many reading slumps I only managed to read 66 books this year. 

My second goal for 2018 was to have less than 150 books unread books in my collection that I own. I managed to achieve that goal, as my current owned TBR is 114 books. I didn’t complete the 2018 PopSugar Challenge, or finish ten series (I actually only finished one), but I did fairly well on my Read or Unhaul challenge. At the beginning of the year I chose ten books that I would get rid of if I didn’t read them and although I didn’t read a single one on that list, I got rid of most of them easily. During the summer I decided to start living a minimalist lifestyle, and I lot of those books found their way into the donation pile since I forgot they were on this list. 

There are some books I really wish I had got around to reading this year; including Vicious by VE Schwab, What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli, Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. There were also a lot of ARCs that I received this year that I wish I had been able to read and review prior to their publication, but am determined to catch up on all of my outstanding reviews in the new year.

Overall I am disappointed in my reading and blogging this last year, and hope to make the next year much better. Even of the 66 books I read didn’t love all (or even most) of them, so I may have to be more selective of what I choose to read in 2019.

Here’s hoping next year sees no bookish regrets!

Friday, December 28, 2018

People Kill People | Book Review

People Kill People

Written by: Ellen Hopkins
Number of Pages: 431

Average Rating: 3.88 / 5 stars
My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Published in September 2018
Read in December 2018

Summary According to Goodreads

Someone will shoot. And someone will die.

A gun is sold in the classifieds after killing a spouse, bought be a teenager for needed protection. But who was it? Each has the incentive to pick up a gun, to fire it. Was it Rand or Cami, married teenagers with a young son? Was it Silas or Ashlyn, members of a white supremacist youth organization? Daniel, who fears retaliation because of his race, who possessively clings to Grace, the love of his life? Or Noelle, who lost everything after a devastating accident, and has sunk quietly into depression?

One tense week brings all six people into close contact in a town wrought with political and personal tensions. Someone will fire. And someone will die. But who?

My Thoughts

I received an ARC of this novel while attending BEA this year, but that does not influence my opinion. 

As many of you already know, I am Canadian and so was likely not the target audience for this novel. Canada has fairly strict gun laws, and we are not openly armed as many states seem to be. There is much discussion and political uproar regarding gun safety, and I think this novel is an important contributor to the issue as it tries to show both sides of the argument, while still getting all the important statistics out. 

My biggest critique would have to be the lack of pacing. Considering this entire novel takes place within seven days, it felt much longer and dragged out at times. There were some moments I think could have been edited down, because near the end it started to all blend together and seem unnecessary. I would have preferred less detail in the middle of the novel, and instead had more in the end/epilogue where we see the characters in adulthood after the trauma. An incident such as the one these characters experience would have huge psychological effects, and I would have liked to see how it affected their personality. 

If I were to break down my rating for this novel I would say that the overall plot and execution were a 3, the characters were a 3, the ending was a 4, and the free verse narration between perspectives was a 5. There were some poems from this narrator that gave me chills, and it was so impactful for a story that had such a heavy plot line. It is never clear who the narration is, but I interpreted it as greed and chaos.

Overall, this wasn’t my favourite novel of hers, but it was still an engaging and powerful read - although it was a slower read than usual. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives, the connection between all of the characters, and the surprise ending. I would recommend this novel if you are a fan of contemporary novels that tackle real issues, enjoy Ellen Hopkins’ other works, or are looking to get into free verse novels. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale | Book Review

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

Written by: Jane Yolen
Number of Pages: 320

Average Rating: 3.55 / 5
My Overall Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Summary According to Goodreads

Fantasy legend Jane Yolen presents a wide-ranging offering of fractured fairy tales. Yolen fractures the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets, holding them to the light and presenting them entirely transformed; where a spinner of straw into gold becomes a money-changer and the big bad wolf retires to a nursing home. 

Rediscover the tales you once knew, rewritten and refined for the world we now live in - or a much better version of it. 

“Then you have to figure out what kind of fracture you’re attempting. A small sprain or the calving of glaciers? Do you want to subvert the story’s paradigm entirely, or just make a joke?” - from the authors introduction

My Thoughts

I received an e-arc copy of this novel to review from NetGalley, but that does not influence my opinion.

I should start off by saying that I was very excited to get approved for this novel, as I am both a fan of Yolen, fairy tales, and anthologies. Some of these stories were very well done, while others did not seem to make any sense and went right over my head. It took me long over a month to get through this collection, and put me in a massive reading slump because I had no motivation to read anything. I was not captivated or blown away, and think future readers should read each story a while apart, otherwise they may blend together. 

Unfortunately this anthology was more of a collection of good ideas rather than good stories, and I was disappointed with it overall.

Rating of Each Story

Snow in Summer: 4 stars

     A Snow White retelling where she gets her own revenge and doesn’t need someone to save her? Yes please!

The Bridge’s Complaint: 2 stars

The Moon Ribbon: 3 stars

     I liked the idea of this story, but I think it was dragged out too long and the message become lost on me in the end.

Godmother Death: 5 stars

     I loved the tone and the atmosphere of this story, coupled with an interesting plot made it perfect.

Happy Dens: 4 stars

Granny Rumple: 2 stars

One Ox, Two Ox, Three Ox, and the Dragon King: 4 stars

Brother Hart: 5 stars

Sun / Flight: 2 stars

Slipping Sideways Through Eternity: 4 stars

     I really liked this story and the message, but would have liked to see it developed more. I’m not completely familiar with Judaism, but was taught enough to understand the lessons being learned. I just think this story would have been better if Rebecca had a stronger personality.

The Foxwife: 2 stars

The Faery Flag: 3 stars

One Old Man, with Seals: 4 stars

Sleeping Ugly: 1 star

     Thankfully this story was quite short because it was rather pointless.

The Undine: 2 stars

     I always appreciate a mermaid story, especially one reminiscent of The Little Mermaid, but this one wasn’t great.

Great-Grandfather’s Dragon Tale: 3 stars

Green Plague: 4 stars

The Unicorn and the Pool: 3 stars

     I sat with this story a while and reread it a few times, and although I really liked the fable I would have liked to see it be longer.

The Golden Balls: 3 stars

     This was an interesting take on a story I have heard before, and I appreciated the turn of victimizing the princess more than the frog was.

Sister Death: 5 stars

Sule Skerry: 2 stars

Once A Good Man: 5 stars

Allerleirauh: 4 stars

     I’ve heard this story before but this time around it seemed to have a much darker tone - more fitting for the plot.

The Gwynhfar: 2 stars

Cinder Elephant: 5 stars

     A funny Cinderella retelling where the chubby girl gets the cute prince!

Mama Gone: 4 stars

The Woman Who Loved a Bear: 3 stars

Wrestling With Angels: 5 stars

     I am so glad that so finished this collection with this story as I would have to say it was my favourite.