Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Wrap Up

This November was Series Marathoning month, and the TBR ended up going through a few changes, but I had a good reading month and I read some really great books.
One of the main changes in my TBR was my deciding to not include the Song of Ice and Fire series. I just didn't think I would realistically be able to get through the majority of my TBR if I tried to get through the first two books in the series since they're over 800 pages each. I think a high fantasy month is in order for 2014, and we'll see these books then. Also, rereading Throne of Glass wasn't going to happen within the time frame because I took longer with the Percy Jackson series than I'd anticipated. So, I decided to just read Crown of Midnight.

Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
I have a complete review of this series posted but I thought for the wrap up I could give a brief summary of each novel independently. I'm going to try and talk about the things I liked and disliked without giving spoilers, but as with all series reviews you should probably avoid reading ahead to a review if you haven't gotten that far into the series.

The Lightning Thief, Book One
I really enjoyed this as an introduction into the world. Since I was already familiar and interested in Greek mythology, I was very impressed by Rick Riordan's development. The world is a wonderful mix of mythology and modern day, and I loved the way Greek gods were transferred into a new setting. Initially , I was wondering how taken I'd be with the series. But I had nothing to fear, as this book was so much fun! The characters were hilarious and witty and not so immature that I tired of reading them, but not overly mature twelve year olds. Characterization was balanced with a great plotline. I was sitting there, reading the book nervously because I didn't see how they could accomplish their goal with only this number of pages left. That was a sign of how good the book was. However, this was not a five star book for me. Te only reason? It was very predictable for me, and I called every plot twist. Even if I was worried about them throughout the book there were no real plot twists I didn't see coming. Don't let that make you think I didn't enjoy the book though. I definitely enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone. It's not something I felt too old to read, and it was very well done. A great read!

The Sea of Monsters, Book Two
I liked this book even more than The Lightning Thief. This was a five star book to me, and I really enjoyed reading it. It's quite a short book, especially in comparison to its predecessor, but it was not lacking. The plot actually somewhat followed The Odyssey, and I appreciated this further fusion of old Greek tale and modern characters. My favorite component of this book was the development of the characters. Percy especially grew as an individual throughout the novel. Fair warning, this could potentially count as a minor spoiler, but I really appreciated the development of Percy through his interactions with the character, Tyson. This relationship really showed a newfound maturity in Percy. I definitely enjoyed this book for its action and, more importantly, its character development and furthering the overall story arch in the series as well as including a great in-story adventure. 

The Titan's Curse, Book Three
Here I began to notice certain trends about this series. Firstly, I love this series. However, the beginnings are slow for me, and not the most instant engaging start that I was hoping for or expecting. Nothing terrible or put-down-the-book worthy, but nothing exceptional. A lot of exposition and recap. Then, the story begins to take off, and by the middle of the book I'm doubting the conflict can possibly be resolved with less than half the book left. Rick Riordan always comes through, though, and the endings are action packed but never feel crammed in at the last minute. Truly well written. For Titan's Curse specifically, I appreciated the development a lot of the supporting characters underwent. Zoe and Thalia in particular were interesting characters to read. Admittedly, I wasn't a fan of either of them at the start, but as they were featured more and did more in the story I really enjoyed their presence and what they did. This book seems to be where the central, overarching conflict really came out more prominently to me. This book is definitely not a boring book stuck in the middle of  a series. It was fantastic and I gave it a well earned five stars.

The Battle of the Labyrinth, Book Four
This was a fantastic book. It kind of broke the mold for this series for me, in both good and bad ways. While the action took off a lot sooner than in past books, I didn't find myself totally engrossed until further along the end. There were a few characters introduced, not as many as past books. We got to see some awesome character development, and there's hints of some changes in the character dynamics, and I'm really liking the change in everyone's interactions. They're maturing into great heroes, and goodness knows that by the end of this book they need to be. We've got a lot to look for in Book 5. This book, however? 4.5 stars.

The Last Olympian, Book Five
This book kicked off and hit the ground running. We're dropped right into the middle of the war, and things are intense. To avoid most spoilers I'm going to keep plot summation to a minimum. Let's talk about the good and bad in the book. Now, I'm going to talk about something that can be spoilery, so if you haven't read this book and are desperately avoiding all possibilities of a spoiler, seriously stop now. This is about the spy thing. While it is addressed in the first chapter of this book, it was the resolution that annoyed me. It felt totally out of place and wrong. I know it could be seen as trying to go for a surprise factor, but thinking about the characters in this book, there's no way to me. And I'm not saying that in a 'no way the feels this is so sad but great plot twist' I'm saying this in a 'this legitimately doesn't make sense within the context of the novel and is less of a plot twist and more of just not fitting in the book'. So, mini rant aside... the rest of the book was fantastic. None of the cliche "Little did I know I wouldn't be going back there for awhile" lines that irked me in the past, or if there were they were kept to a bare minimum. This book was very much in the present. I loved the conflict resolution, and Rick Riordan I commend you for it. That was the best way to end the series's epic battle. Closing the book was pretty hard actually; I hadn't realized how the series had morphed from being really enjoyable to being dear to me. It's something I really loved to read and it's been a great series to read. This was a 5 star conclusion, and I recommend the series as a whole.

Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne
This novella I actually already have a review posted for. This is a prequel novella to a book releasing in 2014, Midnight Thief. And after reading this, Midnight Thief is definitely a highly anticipated book for me. This novella is made to introduce the character of James and give his backstory. He was a character that intrigued me when he was first mentioned in the summary of Midnight Thief, so when I was given an opportunity to read this novella, I picked it up and really enjoyed it. This does a great job of developing James's character, and I can't wait to see how he is in Midnight Thief.

Precious Stone Trilogy by Kerstin Gier (reminder: there may be spoilers as I discuss sequels if you haven't read along)

Ruby Red, Book One
This was actually a reread for me. Originally I had read this awhile ago- I'm about 90% sure it was in 2010, but my book says it was published in 2011...did I mention this was a time travel book? ...hmm. 
Anyways, I'm so, so glad I reread this. I felt like I connected with everything better now. I remember reading this and feeling like it was such a stale read, but upon rereading it I realized that it just took time to connect to the characters and story more. Gwen's not the best narrator but that's because she has no idea what's going on, and her muddled confusion is tangled up with the actual plot that's going on as well. But she definitely grows on you as a narrator and the ending was just insane. So much happened at once. I remember making an initial guess in the prolouge, discounting it, and then reading all the plot twists at the end. So crazy! But this is a great group of characters. Granted, I still don't like some of them (*cough* Charlotte) but they all contribute to the overall dynamic in the story, and it's a good mix. A lot of this is exposition and figuring out what the heck is going on, and by no means is everything explained. But I really enjoyed this, and it's a fantastic start to the series. I gave it four stars, and I think this is going to be a favorite series for me!

Sapphire Blue, Book Two
This sequel was really great. It picked up right where the first book dropped off, except there was a super suspenseful prologue before we returned to Gwyneth. I really enjoy the prologue and epilogue of each book; they really add some perspective to the story and characterize a few people that we don't get to see as much. Anyways, back into the main storyline, things are really taking off. Gwen is still struggling to stand on her own two feet, but she is still doing an admirable job of trying. She is very realistic as a character, and I appreciated that about her. So much goes in this book, but it's only a few days in this crazy life of hers! I really loved how quickly this book moved along, although I didn't find myself as thoroughly engrossed for the first 50 pages, but then it completely engaged just as much as its predecessor. I did have a few problems with this, particularly with Xemerius, or as I call him, Xemy the gargoyle. Now, I liked Xemy. He was witty, funny, and his character added some humor to scenes that otherwise wouldn't have been as good. However, it was his semi-background that annoyed me. Xemy's a gargoyle, great I get it, move on. But there was some sort of partial mythology that is sort of made about Xemy's character, but it annoyed me because it didn't make sense, and it wasn't really talked about, only randomly thrown in like a detail the author planned to expand upon in a later draft but never got around to. However, what did matter was his character, and I loved seeing Xemy in scenes. He brought comic relief, which was very much needed, especially with scenes with Charlotte and Glenda and cohorts in them. Let me tell you, Charlotte's character is a little snob. She is really annoying, and if it weren't for Xemy's commentary whenever she was around, I would've been hard pressed to finish reading all the Charlotte scenes. Overall? I had very few problems with this book, and I already mentioned them here. I loved this book, it was a fantastic sequel, and I gave it four stars.

And that is how much I read. Sadly, not as much as I'd hoped, but a definite improvement from last month, and still I've been reading some fantastic 4+ star books. I'm really happy about that. Right now I've begun Emerald Green, but if you checked out my Friday Reads post you may have seen that I'm going to start Crown of Midnight instead. Also, there's a new Currently Reading button on the sidebar with my current read posted there as well! How was your month?

From a paper world,

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