Top Five Wednesday: Series that Got Better

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 12.29.00 AM

Top Five Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted over at Goodreads by the lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Despite vowing to incorporate this meme into my blog, I went kind of blank over the last two topics… oops. However I loved this prompt!

I tried to make it all about books, but I had to include a TV show too. I realized that this applies more to TV than books many times. Maybe it’s just that TV shows tend to be longer, with dozens of installments rather than four or five (with one notable exception which I’ve included). Anyway, I’m glad that I gave a chance to all of my pick because they were all worth it despite the initial mishaps and stumbles. It’s just great to see the moment when a series finally finds it voice and things get real!

Honorable mention: The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

10025305

So I can’t actually include this because I haven’t finished the whole trilogy. I’ve actually still have like 30 pages left of the second book. But I’ve enjoyed Clockwork Prince soooo much more than Clockwork Angel (which I thought was just okay). I finally got invested in the characters and see why this trilogy is so beloved! Verdict is still out regarding Clockwork Princess, but I can’t wait to read it.

5. The Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria Schwab

23299512

This is only a duology which is why it ranks last on this list. The second book is definitely the strongest of the two in most senses, especially regarding the pacing. It has all the good of the first book, namely the characters and unique world, with strong development and a more dynamic plot. That said, I think that the books are better when considered as a whole. As I mentioned in my review of Our Dark Duet, I think this is an excellent example of a well executed duology.

4. The Grishaverse books by Leigh Bardugo

23437156

There actually two series here, The Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. I definitely think that the first book in the trilogy is the weakest out the all, but in my opinion, Six of Crows easily bests the entire trilogy. The world get more developed, and it doesn’t feels as derivative as some aspects of the trilogy do. Leigh Bardugo is the kind of writer that just keeps getting better and better with each book. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this universe.

3. The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce

13837

Just like Shadow and Bone, these were Pierce’s first books to be published. The series just grows so much as it progresses, just like its protagonist, Alanna. The first book starts with her as little girl, but as she matures so do the themes and other characters. It’s a great journey to see all of them change and come into their own. Though the second book, In the Hand of the Goddess, holds a special place in my heart, I adored the finale, and, objectively, it’s the best book out of the entire quartet.

2. Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate (and a bunch of other people)

3326828

This books are basically like a TV show, with 54 episodic adventures (some spanning a few more books) and overarching narrative. Despite being Middle Grade, these books have a very mature (and let’s face it, also depressing) take on war, which you wouldn’t imagine from reading the first.. six or seven books in the series. The first books don’t even include one of the main characters! Although the later, ghostwritten books do stumble at times, the complexity the series had gained by then more than makes up for it. Also holy crap, the character development throughout the books is some of the best I’ve read, or seen in anything.

1. Buffy the Vampire of Slayer

Buffy_logo_0001.jpg

This is the only TV show I allowed myself to include. I feel like I mention my love for Buffy every other post… But whatever. Though the first season has some (okay a lot) rough episodes (a demon in the internet! Evil praying-mantis lady! The talking puppet!), once you get past it, the good stuff comes through. Like, from School Hard which is the third episode of season two onwards the show really finds its voice and it’s the best. But yeah, the first season is hard to sell. When a friend decided to watch the show (read: after months of me insisting), I actually recommended that she skip almost all but the most important season one episodes. She went and watched after having finished season 3 and now we joke about how bad they are.

BookTube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

So I tried doing this last year, and failed spectacularly.  Why not try again?

If you haven’t heard of the BookTube-A-Thon, you can check out the announcement here. I know I won’t make to the seven books, but whatever, I’m still going to try! I will try to livetweet my attempt (and make my twitter feed a bit less dead).

These are the challenges:

1/ Read a book with a person on the cover.

18619684

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger — It’s not the best idea to pick up such a chunky book, but I’ve been wanting to read this for such a long time! I might swap this for either Clockwork Prince or The Pearl Thief though.

2/ Read a hyped book.

10025305

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare — This trilogy is so hyped, and has such a devoted fanbase that I couldn’t think of another. I wasn’t too impressed by the first one, but I did enjoy reading it. I feel like these books would have been my entire life had I discovered them when they were coming out, but oh well.

3/ Finish a book in one day.

25101

Seasons of Mists (The Sandman Vol. 4) by Neil Gaiman — These comics go by so fast that they’d be perfect for reading them in a single sitting. I’ve been really enjoy what I’ve read of Sandman so far and can’t wait to continue.

4/ Read about a character that is very different from you.

28763485

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon — This book stars a Jamaican girl and an Korean-American boy, both of whom are from completely different backgrounds than me. I haven’t picked this up for the past few months because I haven’t been into romance?? Like at all. But this book has enough interesting elements that I want to give it a shot regardless.

5/ Finish a book completely outdoors.

6/ Read a book you bought because of the cover.

414o2RCdF2L._AC_UL320_SR208,320_

Richard II by William Shakespeare — I’ve been collecting the Pelican editions of Shakespeare’s plays because I love the covers, and I need to read them! I want to start with the Henriad, but I had to wait for this edition to arrive.

7/ Read seven books.

As I said before, I doubt I’ll manage to read seven books in seven days. If, and only If, I manage to read all the one I’ve listed before, I will be picking up the following books:

 

Will you be participating? Do you like Read-A-Thons? I do(!) even though I’m terrible at them.

Sunshine Blogger Award

First of all thanks to JenAcideByBibliophile for nominating me to the Sunshine Blogger Award ❤ Here is her original post!

sunshine-award.jpg

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write then 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

 

1. Dogs or Cats or Hamsters and Why?

I’m a total dog person without a doubt. I grew up with dogs, and I still own dogs. They’re the best. Also I might add that though I like big dog, small dogs are the greatest. They’re so cute and huggable and happy. Here have a pic of one of my five dogs (yes, five):IMG_0102

2. If you could live in any period and any place in time when and where would it be?

Mmm I always think that it’s so easy to idealize previous periods in history and forget all the racism, sexism, bigotry and colonialism… and lack of antibiotics. Yeah, I’m pretty happy with the 21st Century (except with the last year or so because why are you acting like this world?). So bear in mind, I’m answering this more on aesthetic terms. It might be cliche but I love the end of the 19th Century when it comes to literature and the whole Victorian aesthetic.

3. What is the last book you hated and why?

I rarely hate on books? Mostly it’s just disappointment and resentment. I tend to pick up books that I think I’ll enjoy, so it’s more about my expectations getting dashed by wasted potential or weak writing. But I also have a ton of required reading for college so…
19328-004-CCAF63DD.jpg
The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser is probably the worst reading experience I’ve had in the whole year. And I had to do a presentation on it. I only read the first book (there are six! and he died before he could finish). I hated the style in all its pseudo-Chaucer vibe and mis-mash of every genre that proceeded it. I get its literary value and what it means for the English canon, but I still fucking hated it.

4. Favorite author and favorite book (not necessarily by the same author)?

My go-to book when people ask for a favorite is always The Secret History by Donna Tartt, though really it varies!
29044

As for my favorite author… probably Victoria Schwab? I’ve read most of her books multiple times and have listened to and watched a ton of her interviews. She seems like such a nice person and I love her writing advice.

5. What is something you wish people knew about you?

That I have the greatest music taste in history?

But really, I would love to talk more about music with the people around me. My friends all have very distinct tastes that rarely overlap with mine or don’t listen to music at all (something I can’t even fathom). I used to know so little about music, but in the last two or three years my tastes have changed a lot and I’ve learned so much. My main genre is still alternative, but I’ve also found great indie or electronic artists. I can talk about music for hours on end!

6. How long have you been blogging?

Roughly a year. I still have never been able to post consistently! For like five month I didn’t post a single thing, but since then I’ve been getting better.

7. What is your favorite type of character in a book?

For female characters, I have two main weaknesses. On the one hand, there’s the traditionally girly character that is not a fighter but still manages to be pretty badass in her own way and is super idealistic. On the other, I adore the fighters that will do almost anything to do reach their goal and are utterly uncompromising. Also a mix of the two is welcome.

For male characters……………… I love broody, introspective guys.  It’s such cliche, but I fall for it. Bonus points if they’re snarky.

8. What is your favorite TV show?

I think I mention it anytime I have an excuse even after six years of having finished it.

Image result for buffy the vampire slayer

I came across this show when I was thirteen and it utterly consumed my life. I was just coming out of my Twilight phase and I started watching this without any expectation. I just knew people loved Sarah Michelle Geller a lot and Lily from How I Met Your Mother was a main character. And by mid season two I knew it was one of my favorite things ever. I used to be able to name every single episode, from memory, and I can still quote without any effort (A bear? You made a bear! Undo it!) Here I am, aged nineteen, and I still can talk about this show for hours (a fact my poor best friend can attest to as I’m making her watch it).

Also my second favorite show of all time is Angel, which I feel a lot of people have not watched even if they loved Buffy. It’s such a shame, because it really becomes into its own very unique thing and I prefer it thematically to Buffy. Also it has my favorite ending of all time.

9. What is your favorite holiday? Why?

I’m not much of a holiday person. I don’t hate Christmas or anything, but I don’t get excited or anything.

I do like New Year’s though.

10. What 3 famous/fictional people, living or dead, would you want at your fantasy dinner party?

Sansa Stark from ASoIaF, Zuzana from Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Luna Lovegood would guarantee a fabulous evening.

11. What’s your pet peeve(s)?

People who end texts with periods. Unless you’re making a point why? I find this all the time in books and movies, but I just don’t get why you would do two extra clicks to add a period. Life is short.

Mini Reviews: Gentleman Bastard books

Note: These reviews contain NO spoilers, and I didn’t include the blurbs because they were spoiler-y for previous books. Also if you’re curious about the first book, here’s my review.

887877

Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies

Author: Scott Lynch

Series: Gentleman Bastard #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: ★★★¼

Review

This is probably my least favorite book of the series, but I STILL ADORED IT. My main problem was the pacing. The first half draaaaagged with the heist that couldn’t be resolved that early on the book because it’s still the first half of the book and it’s a big heist. The flashbacks, aside from the more character-based ones, also only made it even more interminable. I was super sad by this because I adored how Lynch used flashbacks in the first book and they added a lot. That said, the writing was still super fun and the main dynamic still kept me hooked.

Then I reached the second part of the book and everything was so much better. Lynch managed to make me care about the new characters (okay, mainly Ezri and Zamira both of whom are just super badass female characters with depth) in really short span of time. I liked that Lynch also ventured a bit more into other perspectives because I adore all the characters. Also that romance was… it brought the shipper in me for the first time in months (or years?). I was just squeeing every time they were together and then crying. Yeah, it still is that kind of book. There’s also this scene where a few characters start talking about literature in snobbish-est way and it has since stuck with me because it was both adorable and such great way to convey this world to the reader. All the threads come together in such a way that it’s all worth it at the end.

 

2890090

Title: The Republic Thieves

Author: Scott Lynch

Series: Gentleman Bastard #3

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: ★★★½

Review

This book brought back a lot of what I loved of the first book. The flashback were probably my favorite part of the whole thing as someone who loves theater. They were always offering something new. Even though they were less connected than in the first book, telling their own overarching story rather than having a more expositive role, I was super invested.

Maybe because the stakes were lower than in previous books, I didn’t quite enjoy the main narrative as much. Or maybe it’s just that elections bore me. I’m still amazed at how Lynch has managed to delve into so many different subgenres across only three books, and he writes them well. By now, we’ve gotten cons, heists, revenge, pirates, theatre troupes and political intrigue. Also, I was very much interested on all the character stuff that sprung up from the plot, especially regarding a certain female character whom (surprise!) I loved. And as always, reading about the schemes and pranks that Locke conjures is always fun. It’s just that it didn’t captivate me in the same way as the previous two books.

I’m unsure about the reveals. I get that the whole point is that they’re ambiguous, but still I have no idea how Lynch will tackle them in the coming books. That cliffhanger though!!! ahhh I cannot wait for the next book to come out and it doesn’t have a release date yet…

Top Ten Authors I Want to Try Out

Since Top Ten Tuesday is on a holiday, I came up with my own topic. There are some books I hear about and decide Oh I must have this. Then there are authors who have a ton of different books and different ideas that I just want to read a ton from them. Or maybe I saw an interview and thought that this person has interesting ideas. The author is supposed to be dead or whatever, but sometimes I want to read a book specifically because of who wrote it. I often find that my favorite books don’t always overlap with my favorite authors…

So this is list is all about the authors I’m dying to try out because they could become new favorites.

 

1. Melina Marchetta

This is actually one that I didn’t realize until recently. I heard great things about this contemporary called On the Jellicoe Road as it was many people’s favorite. I also heard that another contemporary book changed the way Maggie Stiefvater writes characters (and if there is something I love about her books it’s the characters) called Saving Francesca. And I also was vaguely aware of a fantasy series whose first books is called Finnikin of the Rock. One day while browsing on Goodreads found out they were all written by the same author and decided I had to read at least one.

Books I want to start with:

2. Catherynne M. Valente

This is another author that writes across a wide variety of genres. I’ve been hearing about Deathless and its gorgeous prose for literally years now. But Valente is about to publish a Vagina Monologues-style collection of essays from the point of view of the murdered female characters from comics, and she also has a fairly popular middle grade series (with very long titles). I heard that her prose is as lyrical as Laini Taylor’s, but that is very malleable when it comes to genre. So if I don’t like the first book I try of hers, I’m willing to give a shot to another one.

Books I want to start with:

 

3. Brandon Sanderson

It is one of my greatest shames that I such an avid fantasy fan, and yet I have never read a single one of Sanderson’s book. He is such a beloved author that I’m actually kind of intimidated by his long bibliography. Now that I’ve devoured all the published Gentleman Bastard books, I think Mistborn might become the new epic fantasy series I tackle on audio (I adore listening to loooong audiobooks and The Final Empire is over 20 hours), but my friends seem to adore The Stormlight Archive more. This man has published so much that I don’t know where to start.

Books I want to start with think are good starting point, but I truly have no idea:

4. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve been meaning to check out Adichie’s books since I watched her TED talk about the single story. Since then I’ve only heard amazing things about her books and their significance. She’s one of the most famous literary fiction authors out right now. I even owned Americanah for a while, but it always seemed so long daunting. I need to get over my “fear” of modern literary fiction and get on with it.

Books I want to start with:

5. Patrick Rothfuss

Another big name fantasy author that I haven’t gotten around to yet. This is the only author who has only published one series on this list, but he’s been so recommended to me that I couldn’t leave him out. I’m a bit apprehensive because who knows when the last book of the Kingkiller trilogy will come out. I have enough waiting with GRRM and now Scott Lynch, but I swear I will read his books someday.

The only book I can start with:

186074

 

 6. Kiersten White

I actually listened to a lovely interview with her (on the podcast 88 Cups of Tea, if you’re interested), and though I had sort of dismissed And I Darken, hearing about the choices she made and her reasoning made me want to read it!

27190613.jpg

7. Ursula K. Le Guin

I’ve been meaning to start reading more sci-fi for years, and Le Guin is such well-regarded writer that she was the first one I always think of. Like Sanderson, she has published a ton, but I’ve been recommended The Left Hand of Darkness the most. I actually read the introduction she wrote for it in class and loved her ideas about the nature of sci-fi and novel writing in general.

Books I want to start with:

29889256.jpg

8. Gillian Flynn

Also known as the modern queen of thrillers. I love “unlikable” female characters and the more domestic end of thrillers, so I’m actually surprised I haven’t picked one up yet. I loved the Gone Girl movie, but I didn’t see much of a point in reading the book knowing all the twists. But she’s published other books some of which will be getting their own adaptations soon. When I get a craving for dark next, twisty narrative, I know whose books to reach for.

Books I want to start with:

 

9. Oliver Sacks

Back in my high school psychology class, some way or another we always went back to Oliver Sacks. My teacher adored him and we were all saddened when he died… I always promised myself that I would pick up one of his books even though I wasn’t reading non-fiction back then. I still haven’t despite coming close so many times. The New Yorker essays I read from him, apart from being super interesting science-wise, were never dry, and I’ve heard wonderful things about the style  his longer works which is super important for me when reading non-fiction. I want to start with the books we always mentioned in class.

Books I want to start with:

10. Francesca Zappia

This is the newest one on the list. I normally don’t lean toward romance-heavy contemporary YA, but I heard that Zappia is very good at tackling mental-health themes in her novels. She has also only published two novels so far, but the word-of-mouth about her latest, Eliza and Her Monsters, has been great. The only reason why I haven’t read Eliza is because I want to read the physical version as the illustrations I’ve seen are gorgeous.

Books I want to start with: