Reading Challenges 2018

I’m actually surprised I surpassed any reading challenges in 2017, considering how very little time I’ve had to actually sit down and read through a book. This isn’t to say that I spent all my days working, but a lot of distraction happened, and many of them I welcomed with open arms. Plus, there is also work. Anyway, a few fun stats, and some planned reading challenges to try to get myself back on track as far as reading and blogging goes!

Fun stats first:

For a full run-down of my year, head on over to Goodreads!

I’ve gotten more comfortable with dropping books when I’m not enjoying them. I am a bit of a completionist, and it takes me a while, but there are way too many books on my backlist that I shouldn’t be spending too much time contemplating on whether or not I want to continue with a book. I’ve also done a few more rereads than I usually do, mostly because of the podcast my friend and I run together.

That being said, this post is also my customary sign-up post for a few reading challenges. This is probably not my only post regarding reading challenges, because I’m still contemplating on whether or not I want to sign up for a few more, but I don’t want to overburden myself, considering I’ve completed just the ONE challenge last year, and nothing else besides. (Technically, I may have completed Flights of Fantasy again and the Graphic Novel reading challenge, but I haven’t updated in a while, so who knows.) So, just playing it with a cautionary outlook, for now, I’ve got two challenges in my sights:

 

I really need this challenge in my life, because I really need to polish through books that have been on my TBR list for the longest time. ALSO, they have a Bookstagram challenge that I’m also very keen on participating, because let’s be honest, I’ve been craving some of these since I had a taste of bookstagramming challenges last year. So watch out for those, too!

I’m going for 15 books off my list, which pretty much covers all of the books that have been on my 25 Reads list since forever. That’s just my starting lineup for now. I’ll probably change it later on if I can get through more than the 15.

1. Snow White, Blood Red, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
4. The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities edited by Ann VanderMeer
5. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
6. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
7. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time by Yasutaka Tsutsui
8. Kings and Assassins by Lane Robins
9. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
10. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara
11. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard, Henry Popkin
12. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
13. Warcross by Marie Lu
14. City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster
15. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Note: I’m also now a Novel Knight, which suits me just fine, because the logo is PURPLE! 😀

I have been seriously neglecting my NetGalley requests, and it’s making me feel bad. SO. I’m going to try to do better. I’ve got quite a number of really good requests in and I want to get through a number of them this year. That said, I don’t want to go crazy, so I’ll start at the Bronze Level with 10 books first.

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The Reading Quest: A Sort of Wrap Up

I think if we limited this to the amount of times I’ve Instagrammed #thereadingquest I probably would have done well. As is…I got kind of overwhelmed with work and reading other things off my TBR that my quest pretty much failed to launch. As a Mage, anyway. When I changed my character to a Bard (because heck, if I’m still in the character customization zone I can totally change my character class without penalty, right?), I at least felt a little bit accomplished, lol!

Last month, I’d signed up for The Reading Quest challenge hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight. It was such a cool challenge that I was so enthused about it that I made myself a huge list that accounted for all of the quests and side quests on the board, knowing that I probably wouldn’t hit many in a month but hell, might as well fill up the board with possibilities!

In the end, I took some bookstagram pics, I read a bit, I crossed a few things off my TBR, and I realized I practically meandered into sidequest land. Which, if you know me, shouldn’t be surprising. I’m the type of girl who plays games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim and starts deviating from the main quest the minute I’m given freedom to roam. (“Alright, let’s head down to the settlement to meet the–OH THERE’S SOMETHING SHINY DOWN IN THE WATER LET’S JUMP IN!”)

So I changed my class. Beep boop. And the rest is history?

In summary, I read:

Book with TV/Movie AdaptationThe Killing Joke by Alan Moore
Mini-GameMonstress, Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu
GrindDreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

I started reading Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie as a Buddy Read but my friend and I realized we were not getting into the novel so decided just to DNF it, so I suppose it doesn’t count. I also started Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch but it wasn’t likely that I’d get it finished anytime soon. Well, maybe by next week, who knows.

So okay, I went up 20 experience points? All the same, it was pretty fun to play, and it definitely gave me excuse to take pretty pics of my books!

What do I do with the rest of the list, you ask? Well, I suppose I can try to keep track of it as a TBR for the foreseeable future. I mean, I’m pretty behind on most of my reading challenges minus the Goodreads one, so…who knows.

In any case, how did you guys do?

We Have a Quest!

To find the grail!

The quail!

No, the grail.

For some reason every time the use of the word “quest” makes me start singing to Spamalot. There’s too much Monty Pythoning around here…

But that’s me digressing.

Kudos to CW at Read, Think, Ponder for the awesome graphics!

Aentee at Read at Midnight put forth an amazing reading challenge called The Reading Quest and just so I can force myself to read and catch up to my TBR, I decided I’d join in on the quest. That said, I doubt I’m going to get through all of the ones I’ve put on this list, but I’ll try to at least get my lovely Mage through her hero’s journey!

Now, normally I go straight for either the Rogue or Mage during my fantasy playthroughs (almost always a Rogue during my first playthroughs in Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age franchises), but occasionally being a mage has its perks. Like being able to heal yourself without waiting for your slow-ass party members. Or setting people on fire at whim. Erm. Not morbid at all or anything…

I do plan to do either Bard or Mage next, depending on whether or not I get out of the realm of side quests on top of the Mage quests… (and goodness knows I love my side quests!).

Just so I don’t lose track of which books I plan to read for each quest, I’m putting my master list down here:

The Quest Board Book List

Mage:

The First Book of a SeriesSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
A Book Set in a Different WorldOur Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
A Book Based on MythologyThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
A Book that Contains MagicGoldenhand by Garth Nix
A Book With a One Word TitleCaraval by Stephanie Garber

Bard:

A Book that has a TV/Movie Adaptation – Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore
A Fairy Tale RetellingHeartless by Marissa Meyer
A Book Cover with Striking TypographyVassa in the Night by Sarah Porter
A Book Translated from Another LanguageW.I.T.C.H. vol. 1 by Elisabetta Gnone (translated by Parke Godwin)
A Banned BookDrama by Raina Telgemeier

Knight:

A Book with a Verb in its TitleGod Save the Queen by Kate Locke
A Book with a Weapon on its CoverEon by Alison Goodman
A Book with a Red CoverThe Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Rogue:

A Book Published by a Small PressHollow City by Ransom Riggs
A Book with <500 Ratings On GoodReadsThe Magic Mirror by Susan Hill Long
A Book Cover with a Partially Obscured FaceAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Side Quests:

Potions – A Book Concocted by 2 Authors – The Janus Affair by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris
Time Warp – A Book Set in Either the Past or the Future – Dreadnought by Cherie Priest
Expansion – Read a Companion Novel or Short Story – Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Multiplayer – Buddy Read a Book – Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
Mini-Game – Read a Graphic Novel, Novella, or Poem Collection – Monstress, Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu
Grind – A Book with 500 Pages – Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
Respawn – Read a Book You Previously DNF – Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley
Animal Companion – Book Referencing an Animal in the Title – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I will be updating this list with links to reviews at some point!

Are you taking part in The Reading Quest? Let me know!

Beauty, Beast, and Sexy Times || A Court of Thorns and Roses Review

Initial Thoughts:

I feel conflicted about this book. I so very wished that it was just a damn standalone because AS A STAND-ALONE I CONDONE THE SHENANIGANS A LITTLE BIT. What drove me nuts was the hint of a love triangle. OF COURSE that’s what would drive me nuts.


A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES

by Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsburry, May 2015
New adult fantasy, fairy tale
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

Note: This review has spoilers. This review is also a mess. This review won’t discuss everything I made notes on because future podcast reasons.

So I have a love-hate relationship with Maas right now. Well, maybe. Okay, not so much her as a person but the direction she takes stories sometimes. Alright, all the time, judging from what I’ve been seeing on the Maas fandom.

I’m going to back track because honestly, I loved Throne of Glass and likely I’m going to love Crown of Midnight, but I haven’t read anything past ToG in ages. And then I ended up picking ACoTaR for “research” reasons. And judging from the pattern that’s said to have happened in the ToG series (where eventually the intended ship sinks and the story goes in an entirely different direction), I’m betting it’s going to be the same in the ACoTaR series. Correct me if I’m wrong, but considering I’m hearing more about how awesome Rhysand is and not enough about Tamlin, I’m willing to bet the story gets away in the later books and shifts into something horribly wrong.

(Like Rhysand the jerkwad being part of the romantic arc. Oh god, he so is.)

So…anyway, this book.

I was a little underwhelmed by it, and for the longest time I ping-ponged between liking the story and groaning because once again, the main character was doing something stupid. Feyre is very different from the massively confident and deadly Celaena (or whatever her name is nowadays), and she constantly reminds me of how different the two characters are by putting herself down several times within the same chapter. I get it, Feyre, you’re human, you’re not something super-powerful or assassin-like deadly, you’re not even a special snowflake (up until the end of the book where we discover OH LOOK. She’s quite phenomenally a snowflake now!). But for eff’s sake, you killed a damn snow-fairy-wolf-thing right in Chapter 1, so clearly you aren’t as useless as you make yourself out to be.

Oh STFU Feyre.

Rant over, I liked where the story was actually headed at a certain point. Things picked up once Feyre actually stopped trying to run away and started trying to live her life within Tamlin’s castle. I mean, it’s an effing easy life, Feyre, stop making excuses about family vows when clearly EVERYTHING IS BEING TAKEN CARED OF. What the hell, Feyre. Does nothing please you?!

Alright, sorry, I get heated when I think of the main character.

There is a rich history revolving the creation of the wall between humans and fae. There is a great war that happens which killed off many people on both sides of the war, and somewhere along the way, a Treaty is enacted in order to keep the peace between the fairy realm and the mortal realm. Now the problem with Treaties is that for one side to stick to it, the other side has to stick to it, too. But clearly in this story, there’s some rule-breaking ahead, and that’s what lands Feyre in the mess she’s in.

I wish there’d been more of a prologue to work with. It took two-thirds of the book to finally introduce the big baddy, who turns out to be someone whose past revolved around love and betrayal–typically something you’d expect humans to feel, not so much the fairies. The whole affair in the fairy court humanizes creatures like Tamlin and Rhysand and Amarantha, and also displays the kind of shit they get into when they’re super-powered creatures with very human problems. I liked that. I liked that a lot.

(There could have been a bit more work on the worldbuilding, which is a whole other discussion that would get really lengthy, so I won’t even try to talk about that right now.)

I was pretty tickled with the romance. It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, and I don’t really know if I’d ship them, but I will admit that the sexy times were the right kind of steamy. Except for that one bit where Tamlin pretty much bites Feyre and then talks about the dirty things he’d do to her if he’d caught her during one of the fairy festival-rituals. Yes, I know, she didn’t seem so bothered by his advances, but um, dude, no means no. Totally creepy. Thankfully, Tamlin isn’t super-psychotic, and it turns out he’s kind of a nice guy, except when he’s being all fae-y. A nice, muscled, strong guy with a mask perpetually glued to his face, but Feyre totally knows he’s hot underneath that, just by how his strong jaw looks and everything. He doesn’t even keep slaves or anything! (This is me trying my best not to snort…seriously trying here!)

As for Rhysand…I still think he’s a jerk. The Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone comes to mind for comparison, and honestly, I thought the Darkling was a more compelling and seductive force than Rhysand was. It’s clear both characters are assholes, but honestly, the Darkling was a special kind of lovable asshole (or…maybe it’s just me…).

Um. Lucien was awesome. So was Nesta, actually. I want more of these two characters. Yep.

3.5 out of 5 cookies! Again, there was a lot more I wanted to say, but I’ll save it for podcasting purposes.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Food and Fiction: Mercy’s Trouble Chocolate

Alright, it’s chocolate-centric week, because I’m most likely in Belgium right now, gallivanting about and visiting chocolate shops. However, that is something I’ll probably be blogging about much later in the week when I get back from vacation, and instead, this is more along the lines of “Oh, hey, I finally finished Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs and I want to talk about chocolate chip cookies!”

Or chocolate in general.

So just a quick summary of the book and the Mercy Thompson universe: Silence Fallen is the tenth installation of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, and revolves around Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, now the mate of the Columbia Basin’s Alpha werewolf. For those who are a fan of–or who have read–the series, you’ll know at this point that Mercy is living a rather eclectic life as a mechanic and non-werewolf wife. She’s also a shape-shifting coyote, is friends with a powerful fae, is bonded to an equally powerful vampire, and has adopted a fire-generating fae spirit. Mercy can also see and command ghosts. So. Yeah. Not a normal life by any means, and things just escalate from there.

One of my favorite things about Mercy is the fact that she bakes cookies. You laugh at this minute detail, but seriously, she does a lot of baking in the books. I admire her for that, because honestly, how does she find the time between being kidnapped by vampires and having to fend for herself against the Gray Lords and coyote-hating pack members? But she does, and in the beginning of Silence Fallen legit starts with her trying to bake cookies.

Of course, everything goes horribly wrong afterwards, but that’s besides the point.

The point is, I ended up with a craving for chocolate chip cookies. So I made them.

Thankfully, I wasn’t making cookies for a pack of werewolves, so I didn’t have to worry about lack of ingredients! So no vampire-induced car accidents here!

I was, however, baking these cookies for a get-together, so I decided to add a bit of extra into it. Mmm…coffee chocolate chip cookies here we come!

I used the recipe from Cathy at Lemon Tree Dwelling. And they came out delicious, by the way!

The coffee flavor came out, and the cookies themselves were seriously disappearing pretty quickly! I’d definitely make them again.

Anyway, I’ll end it there. Gotta run and frolic!

This post counts as #3 of my Food and Fiction Challenge.