Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pixie's Bookish Resolutions for 2015


As you all know, 2015 is fast approaching. Was it just me or did this year go by a lot faster than it ever has before? Maybe it's because I had such an insanely busy year, I don't know, but I really hope that things are a bit slower for not just myself, but others as well, in the coming new year. I'm sure we could all use the time to slow down just a tad, right? :) 

This week, I wanted to change things up and post a Bookish Resolutions list for myself before the rest of the year slipped on by instead of doing a Top Ten Tuesday post. I was going to wait until next week to put this post up, but after checking on the topic for TTT, I wasn't too interested so I decided to go on and put this post up now. I also happened to notice that one of the TTT topics is also a Resolutions post, and I'd had no idea until hopping over there earlier-- but still, I feel the necessity in linking back to The Broke and the Bookish before I get into my own post anyway. 

So, what are Bookish Resolutions? Well, we all know what New Years' Resolutions are, right? They are exactly that, except in relation to books and blogging. Simple enough. I'm not really a big believer of resolutions in general. They get broken so often. I haven't made any proper ones in years. But I guess I will try to go for them this year and see how well it turns out. 

(They must be laughing at my attempt of making resolutions for the coming year. They're not that hard to keep. Geesh. I can do it! Haha!)

* My biggest bookish resolution for the 2015 year is to blog more. --

2014 was a hard year for me keeping track of everything--writing, reading, blogging. I fell into some rough slumps with all of them. I was late on a book release. My writing was off. A reading slump had me in a funk and caused me to have the worst reading year ever (I barely hit twenty-five books this year) and this depressed me deeply. I didn’t want to do much blogging because I was ashamed, and quite frankly, didn’t have much to put up because of the slump. 

With all that whiney mess out of the way, the good news is I feel myself already changing for the better. My slump has slowly gone away already with a few good reads--and the desire to read again--and all I want to do is get back into the swing of things. So yes, the most important resolution for 2015 is to build myself back up and blog more. Some of you may not remember, but there was a time when I once blogged several times a week before this bad year struck, and I’d like to see myself get to a point of that again I hope. I want to love my passions again properly.

* Read the older, unread books on my shelf. --

I have a fairly large TBR shelf. Who doesn’t, right? But I think it’s time to stop ignoring the many books that have been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, either gifted to me or bought because I’d really wanted them to begin with anyway, and read them as I’d intended. I’m going to reserve a month in 2015 to read them. A special “knock out those TBRs” month. I’m pretty sure I won’t get to them all in one month, but it would give me time to take care of a lot of them. 

* Participate in more challenges/read-a-thons --

I loved doing these anytime I could. I hope to be able to get around to doing more this year. 

* Read more genres/categories I don’t normally read --

Mostly I would like to pick up more MG and more Adult Fiction (sometimes this would include erotica, but when I say ‘adult’ it does NOT mean always sexy times.) 

* Only request ARCs I know I really want and will read/review --

I’ve made mistakes in the past before and would take on too many ARCs, which then caused too much pressure on me. I would still read/review them, but it became exhausting and chore-like after a period of time. I’d end up with a good portion of dislikes, too. I don’t want to take this process anymore. I don’t, either. But this is going to be a continued  resolution to remind myself I can’t let myself take on more than I can handle. 

* Get to know other bloggers/Get social --

I’m already pretty social on Twitter (I hope?), but I’m always up for chatting and getting to know other bloggers anytime. I’m horrible at commenting sometimes I know and I plan on working to make that a bit better for 2015. 

* Read some of the great classics I should have already read by now --

I turned thirty back in September. There’s that whole “books you should read by the time you’re thirty” thing, and I know I haven’t exactly, so I’m going to start getting to some of those. Maybe I’ll have them read by the time I’m thirty-one at least.

* Watch and compare more book adaptations --

If I Stay, The Maze Runner, Horns, The Giver, etc.. There are actually many books I haven’t read that have movie adaptations (and I haven’t seen the movie either) or instances where I’ve read the book and haven’t seen the movie or vice versa and would love to take the time out for both. I like to look at the movies with a different viewpoint, but it would be fun either way to sit and do a comparison review once a month or something. 

* Get to at least one or two book signings in 2015 --

Living out in the middle of nowhere makes it incredibly hard. If it hadn’t been for BEA earlier this year, I still wouldn’t have been to any yet. This was my first year ever meeting any of my favorite authors and going to signings. It was EXCITING! I’ve made it my life mission to constantly check on schedules for particular authors, even if it means a bit of a drive and stay in a hotel or something, so that I can get around to some more meet and greets over the coming years. This year I’m really really really hoping to get the chance to meet Stephen King-- which is a life-long dream in general. This isn’t just a resolution, but part of the bucket list. So keeping fingers crossed he’ll make a stop somewhere, sometime. 

* No more excuses for not reading everyday! --

I will always make it a point to set aside a time to read at the very least 25 pages from a book every single day so that I can say I’m reading something. Even if it’s that minimal page count, it’ll count for something, though of course if I’m enjoying the book I’m sure I’ll read much more than that. 

* I plan to read no less than 70 books in 2015 --

This is important to me. 2014 was so shitty to me as far as reading that I feel like I have a lot of making up to do in 2015. I only read 25 books this year. That is barely a quarter of what I normally read each year in the last decade. So I’m buckling down in 2015 and making myself a promise: No less than 70. My goal is at least a hundred. But I’ll be okay if I don’t get there, as long as I make it to my intended seventy mark to make up for this year’s horrid number. Lol. 

And these are my bookish resolutions for 2015! 
Do you have any? 

Don't forget this will run as a Top Ten Tuesday topic as well later this month, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review: Belzhar

Title: Belzhar
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Category/Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fantasy, Magical Realism

See it at Goodreads

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

Let me start by saying that Belzhar has one of the covers I can’t seem to stop staring at. It’s one of my favorite covers in the last few years for some strange reason--despite that I don’t think there’s anything different about it really, but it’s just out there, and it sticks out particular to me. If I hadn’t picked it up at BEA, I still would have grabbed it up immediately from a bookstore without bothering to find out what it could be about first. And I didn’t know at the time of pick-up what it was even going to be about, I just felt inexplicably drawn to this title and wanted it badly. It was at the top of my list of must-haves for the cover alone. I know… how wrong of me as a reader, right? But it happens to the best of us. 

When I pulled myself from my reading slump recently, I knew which title I was going to go for: Belzhar. The cover was calling to me again from my shelf, and I had to know if the contents inside was just as good. I’d finally learned what it was supposed to be about by then, too, and it sounded intriguing. Reviews from my peers were up and down though. Half seemed to really like it, and the other half seemed to really dislike it. So I was stuck at a crossroads on which side I could end up on. 

From the start, I adored the story. The details and background into The Wooden Barn were interesting, along with the variety of the characters. I also really liked how the story drew parallels to The Bell Jar and each character had their own little world. It had a strong beginning to the introduction of each individual and their tragedies, along with the development of their personalities. 

However, toward the end of the middle and the last portion of the read is where it began to fall flat. This is where I begin to pick up minor details (and some annoyances) that just felt off to me mostly. I didn’t particularly like the characterization of DJ--the girl with the ‘eating problems’ because well, I didn’t feel like she was displayed properly as someone who deals with this. From my own personal experiences, DJ’s character was certainly treated like a joke in my honest opinion… and I would’ve like more from her so that a reader could understand. If the author wanted to portray characters dealing with real issues, then portray them. Otherwise, maybe DJ shouldn’t have felt like such a forced character. This is only my opinion naturally. I did like that she was open in her feelings and sexuality later. I just wanted MORE

It’s such a hard book for me to review without revealing spoilers. I kind of want to talk about THAT ENDING but I can’t. It just didn’t satisfy though. I feel like it could’ve been more also though. It was a good twist, I’ll give it that. But I do feel it would still have more impact had it been what readers thought it was going to be from the beginning. Maybe some changes--but I didn’t feel the impact. And the twist disappointed in the long run leaving me to feel deflated and blah when the last page turned. I still had more questions of the characters and their stories, too. So yeah... 

The romance, though slow and subtle throughout, was strange for the most part. I couldn’t connect. When it happened toward the end of the middle I was just left feeling “okay.” I liked him as a character overall and was glad to finally know his story as well, but it was underwhelming to say the least. 

Saying all of this, you’d think I’d hated the book. But I didn’t. There was an odd sense of likeness throughout and I never wanted to put the book down because I had the desire to keep reading this odd story, up until the end as I said above. Mostly, I just really like the general idea and the Bell Jar theme of the overall piece. It’s a book I will still keep in my thoughts for a long time and will continue to recommend to others when looking for something different to read. 

I would definitely read more from this author in the future, for that I'm certain. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

ARC Review & Discussion: The Darkest Part of the Forest (Read-A-Long)

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Category/Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: January 13, 2015

See it at Goodreads

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Lyn of Great Imaginations and I recently read The Darkest Part of the Forest and then had a fun discussion review on it! Today we are sharing our thoughts on the read, and as you can see had slightly different experiences. I always love having read-alongs like this and sharing our discussions since it gives an edge to the review process and changes the pace sometimes. :P

From my perspective, you can tell that I really loved The Darkest Part of the Forest. It was one of my favorite reads of the year, and I was so excited after finishing it. I will be highly recommending it to many!

Lyn: Alright! Pixie and I did a co-reading of Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest. Now we’re co-reviewing the book together!

Alright, Pixie! You seemed very whipped up over the book. What was your overall take of the novel?

Pixie: I was immersed into the story from the very first page! I seriously could not stop reading this book. Haha.

Lyn: I LOVED that the book started with a glass casket. That is one of my top attention-grabbers: anything that sounds like it could be ripped right out of a D&D game. Big plus there.

Pixie: Yes! There were some very easy visuals because the descriptions were amazing.

Lyn: This was my first Holly Black novel, so I was very nervous about picking up this novel, since I had no previous exposure to her writing. Is this your first HB book?

Pixie: No. I’ve been a big fan of hers for years. She was one of my first YA authors after I picked up Melissa Marr in my early twenties. :)

Lyn: How did it compare to her other books?

Pixie: DPotF had a more contemporary vibe to it. I liked that. Despite the fantasy elements, it felt as if she gave her characters (and world) a more modern approach.

Lyn: I do love some contemporary fantasy. I suppose you could label this urban fantasy.

I suppose I should come out and be honest - I wasn’t crazy over this book. I gave it three stars. :( Womp Womp. The descriptions were beautiful and I really loved the plot, but the characters were very dull and flat for me.

Pixie: LOL, don’t feel bad. I gave it four stars. I don’t think it was her best (Coldest Girl in Coldtown still wins, I’m almost sure), but I liked the story and world-building for the most part. My biggest complaint were the characters also. I felt they could have used more. Especially in the romance.

Lyn: The romance REALLY killed it for me. I am very critical when it comes to pairing, and I seemed to get side-tracked by the constant “Who does s/he like more/the best?” The whole “let’s play fantasy pairing!” issue really killed a lot of my enthusiasm. I know it sounds horrible, because I so loved the whole GLBT angle, but it just didn’t end up working for me. I wanted more fae and court life.

Pixie: Oh I agree! I almost want to say that if it were longer or more detailed in some areas to better explain some things, it’d be even better for that area. It can be difficult for stand-alones in my opinion to gain some perspective for romances. I think I could’ve done without a romance and would’ve loved the whole general story.

Lyn: I have to give props to the author for writing a stand alone. I love my series, but it seems that a multi-book series is all the rage right now. I think it would have helped if the book was longer. There was quite a bit going on for such a short page count.

Pixie: Major props to her. I’m the same way. I love stand alones. :) I always find myself going to Holly Black’s books because that’s what she writes a lot. Fantasy and stand alones. But I agree, would’ve been nice seeing more. Or maybe I’m just selfish and wanted more of that pretty writing. Lol.

Lyn: I am excited to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, so I have a basis of comparison. The descriptions were awesome, but the writing left something to be desired. It almost felt like this was a short story that the publishers pushed to become a novel, so the writing felt a bit forced. Maybe it was just boredom setting in, but I really didn’t feel the heart of the writer in this one, you know?

Pixie: I understand what you’re saying. I have seen her writing through the course of the years and it does come off a bit differently here. I’m excited to see what you think of Coldest Girl!

Lyn: Same here! Is there anything else we want to cover?

My take away from this is flat characters that i wanted to like in the worst way, but the plot was awesome and the description of the fae and the magic of the forest was very dazzling.

Pixie: That is almost my same take, except I think I was a bit more enchanted than you by the book. :P Other than that, I don’t think there’s really anything else I have to discuss without

putting in spoilers and I don’t want to go doing that. Lol.

Lyn: So agree!


Pixie's Rating: 4


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