The First Annual REACH Reread

GREETINGS READERS.

I HAVE HAD THIS POST PLANNED FOR A LONG TIME.

YOU READY?

THIS IS THE FIRST OF THE MOST EXCITING THINGS THAT’LL HIT THIS BLOG THIS YEAR, SO HOLD ON TIGHT, AND WELCOME TO THE FIRST ANNUAL REACH BLOG RE-READ READ-ALONG EVER.

1st annual reach reread

So here’s the deal.

Every February, Linnea re-reads the Curse Workers trilogy, as well as any other Holly Black works she has time for.

Why?

…Does it matter? Not really. Curse Workers is one of my favorite series in the world, and I can’t wait to dive back in. Even though sometimes it feels like I never really leave these particular books behind.

So let’s get started, shall we?

There’s two reading schedules to pick from–one that takes three weeks and one that takes all month–and you can chime in on Twitter with “#ReachReread” and join the fun there, ’cause Twitter’s where it’s at. Participation on the blog is always encouraged as well. Because people are cool.

So join me for what is probably the best tradition EVER, and say you were there for the first Reach blog re-read.

CURSE WORKERS READ ALONG SCHEDULES

3 WEEK SCHEDULE

White Cat: February 1st-7th, 3 Chapters Per Day

Red Glove: February 8th-14th, 3 Chapters Per Day

Black Heart: February 15th-21st, 3 Chapters Per Day

And then you have the whole rest of the month to read the rest of Holly’s stuff.

FULL MONTH SCHEDULE

For those of us who like page counts better than chapter ones, mostly.

35 Pages Per Day, 9 Days Per Book

If you’re joining us, you should chime in in the comments.

If you’re a blogger and you want to try and get your followers to join me, you should reblog this post.

And if you’re a humble bird who merely likes to sing, join me on twitter instead.

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Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between

New year, new books. In keeping with tradition, a week-long stay with my best friend produced a co-read book. This year, it was Jennifer E. Smith’s HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN. Unfortunately, it kind of turned out there wasn’t much in between for this book.

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  • Author: Jennifer E. Smith
  • Publisher: Poppy
  • Year: 2015
  • Genre vibe: Soon-to-be-college kid romance. Small town contemporary.
  • At a glance: Clare and Aiden have been together for most of high school. But now real life is looming and they’re facing a tough decision: keep it together, or let each other go. Each side has an equal amount of force behind their particular wish. Can they come together and figure it out?

So I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not totally sure I liked this book. Smith is a strong writer, and I absolutely love her older stuff, so I was super excited when this came out (even though it took forever to get around to reading it).

But in the end I was disappointed, I think. I ended up being very glad that it wasn’t a longer book, because I got the point so easily. And that was the main problem with this book.

Clare and Aiden have to either break up or stay together and try this long-distance thing. There don’t seem to be any other choices. Clare has a whole night planned for them, like a scavenger hunt (don’t let her hear me say that or she’ll get mad for no reason) of Reasons To Break Up.

Aiden on the other hand is optimistic and willing to work for a lasting relationship with her.

I can understand where both of them are coming from. Both sides are presented equally. But honestly? Clare got in their way. She spent half the book jumping all over any of Aiden’s or their other friends’ ideas, just because she was so wound up.

Which I get. But it also got real old, real fast, especially when Aiden doesn’t deserve it, (which he hardly ever does), and even more especially when their friends don’t deserve it (in my opinion, they never do).

In the end, the decision the two of them make is so painfully obvious to me that it kind of ruined the book for me. Again, I understood. But I wanted them to surprise me. I wanted Aiden to compromise, or Clare to finally be accepting, or anything really, besides what actually happened.

If I were as clever as Snifferblog, I’d name this post “Hello, Goodbye, and Nothing In Between”, but this is the only time I’ll be as clever as that dog, so I’ll just leave that awful joke here.

This didn’t ruin anything in relation to Smith for me. Her stuff is still some of the most solid contemporary out there, and I love hearing about her and I plan to re-read a couple of my favorites from her this year. But this was a miss for me, where it’s a major hit for others.

And that’s okay. So overall:

  • Rating: 3/5 stars
  • Recommended to: People looking for something short and not so sweet with a solid and obvious ending message.
  • Lasting Impression: Honestly? Homes. The couch in the basement. The stairs she and Riley sat on. The deck. A clean concrete driveway with a comfortingly familial SUV in it.

 

 

 

Carry On

Sometimes there’s just a book you can’t help but pick up.

You know the ones. They’re so aesthetically pleasing on the outside that there’s just no possible way they won’t look as good within. The colors, the cover. The finish, the spine. The length, the publishing insignia, whether or not it has an emboss or deckle edges. Sometimes, all things just work together for good.

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Carry On is one such book. And it certainly lived up to its promises of beauty.

 

  • Author: Rainbow Rowell
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Year: 2015
  • Genre vibe: So like, Harry Potter, but less involved and more trope-filled and contained. Also romance. Kinda.
  • At a glance: Simon Snow is the chosen one. Baz is his roommate and, apparently, his nemesis. But I mean, times change, right?

 

This is the fourth draft of this particular review for this particular book. During my Year in Book Review I awarded Carry On the prize of Most Memorable Book from 2015. So I guess the question this review needs to answer is: Why?

Well, I don’t know.

I’ve been thinking about this book ever since I read it. It was a book that was my reward for finishing another book and a long work week, and it was the book that got me through Thanksgiving week amid more working and sleep deprivation.

I don’t even know why. I wasn’t reading it at the time. But having the giant thing on my desk all week helped, for some reason.

Carry On is not a book I would call “my type”. The heavy themes it hints at are tucked safely and quietly behind a veneer of cheerful colors and Harry Potter-type world that begs to be more important than story. Not exactly the dark/gritty/gothic/otherwise urban and definitely not fairy-tale-like feel I generally go for. It’s not something that asks you to care.

So the only real draw to this book, for me, was the vampire.

So why’d I read it, for one thing, and for another, how come I enjoyed it so freaking much?

I think, that after thinking about it for all this time, I discovered what it boils down to: Family.

Family dynamics in books are, again, not exactly my absolute favorite thing. A good brother/sister relationship will rip my heart to pieces, but a full family? Meh.

But Carry On wasn’t about just a family. It was about a family of friends. And that, I think, is why I liked it so much. Even looking beyond Baz and Simon’s incredible relationship, what you find at the end of this whole massive book is a support system made out of all these people.

It’s rock solid, a dynamic I haven’t enjoyed reading about since the Golden Trio. Carry On is a fantastic blend of romantic dynamics, pure youth, and strength. And I think that’s what makes it so fantastic.

So overall:

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Anyone that likes high fantasy, honestly, with the addition of gay vampires.
  • Lasting Impression: The scene. With the fire. You know the one I’m talking about. That one.

 

 

 

A Year in Book Review

Another year, another book. While largely underwhelming in amount of books read this year, it wasn’t all bad. There were so many exciting books and things that happened this year, I ain’t even mad.

So here’s how this is gonna go: Categories. Like a trustworthy bullet-point list, categories are my friend. So happy Christmas, merry New Year, and scroll on for Linnea’s book year of 2015.

First Book: A spot of honor, really. The first of the Christmas haul to be taken under one’s wing and admired. This year mine was The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton, and it ultimately ended up being the book that changed my writing life for the better the whole year through. Seriously, if you’ve never touched a Gratton novel, you’re doing it wrong.51IXDysPumL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

Last Book: So here’s the thing. The last book of 2015 that I’ve read has also been The Lost Sun. An e-review copy of the re-brand somehow became mine through a mouthful of courage and a seriously fantastic author and being on twitter. So my year begins and ends with Tessa, and I find that inexplicably right somehow. (More on all this later when I post my review of TLS rebrand.)

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Best New Release: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller. A book I picked up on a whim and haven’t forgotten about since. It’s an unassuming little surreal-contemporary-thriller with a gorgeous cover, an even better dedication, and one of the best pure-form stories I’ve read all year.

Oldest Friend: Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a rereading fiend. I always have The Raven Boys with me at any given time, I’ve read any book I truly love at least three times, and I just can’t help but revisit my favorite places. This was a bad re-read year though. I didn’t have the time or concentration, really, and so anything I re-read just kind of…filtered back out.

But I did journey back to Mercy Falls with Maggie Stiefvater’s Linger, and my god was I glad. Cole St. Clair is one of my favorite characters ever, and Linger was one of Maggie’s best works in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I loved every second of going back through that book.

Most Anticipated 2015 Release: There’s no way this award can’t go to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I waited for this book like I waited for a lifeline, and that’s exactly what it was. Complete the picture with my adventure at the launch party and you have one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

Book that Lived up to its Hype the Best, Whether Hyped by Me or Otherwise: Half Wild by Sally Green. The Half Life trilogy has easily become one of my favorites ever since Half Bad took me by the hand and threw me into a pit of heart-wrenching feelings and daring writing. Half Wild had literally everything I wanted in it. Literally.

Book that Let me Down the Most: The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud. So Lockwood and Company is one of my favorite series. It’s borderline Middle Grade and The Screaming Staircase to-date features some of the scariest ghosts ever. So I was excited for Hollow Boy. So, so excited. Anthony Lockwood is  my favorite. But I was let down fabulously with the introduction of a new and unnecessarily fight-provoking character, and I got none of the character development that I was looking for. It makes me sad. Not sad enough to stop reading, mind you. But sad.

So genres are fun, right? They give you a sense of what people like to read in general, or what their lists are at least made up of. So here’s some best-in-class reviews for some of my favorite genres.

Best Teen Horror: No second-guessing happens here. This belongs to The Suffering by Rin Chupeco. This book scared the hell out of me in the Japanese Suicide Forest with a fantastic protagonist and a beautiful wrap up. Not to boast, but I cried. A lot.

Best Urban Fantasy: The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff. Endlessly lovable characters, dark city streets, hell. What’s not to love?d92ff30cffe83c0148d6f996fd147019

Best Paranormal Fantasy: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. Holly Black is basically a goddess and anything that comes from her is pure gold. This January release, with a companion in the works, was absolutely no exception. (and the poster I got from my pre-order is still one of my favorite things on my wall.)

Best Gothic: Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton. This book inspired me more than any other thing I read this year. Read it. Right now.

Best Contemporary: Even In Paradise by Chelsea Philpot. I just. Seriously go read this book, I’m begging you.

22535536Best Thriller: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver. I didn’t think this book would let me enjoy it. I was wrong. Very wrong. (also, again, that freaking cover. ♥)

Best Recommended Book: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. This book was equal parts book club and Snifferblog’s fault, and even though I’m going to blame Snifferblog for ruining my life, I’m secretly grateful. This book was mind-bendingly, heart-twistingly, ethic-testingly fantastic.

Best Book that is Totally Out of my League: The Shining by Stephen King. More on this later when I tackle the last fifty pages and work up a review of some kind, but oh my god. The title of the King of Horror is well earned. Very well earned.

Something that Ended: The Gods of New Asgard series concluded with The Apple Throne this year, and though I haven’t read it yet, I mean. Come on.

It’s Tessa Freaking Gratton.

Something that Started: The Kinsman Chronicles by Jill Williamson began with Darkness Reigns this year. Darkness Reigns is the first part of the first book of this series. I was privileged to be on the launch team with Jill, and let me tell you. This book is great, even if you’re not a Christian High Fantasy kind of person.

Best Author Visit: This is a category I am hesitant to even venture near. I kicked 2015 off with going to NTTBF, and then rounded it off in September with the Six of Crows launch, with Laini Taylor right in the middle of it all and my yearly writer’s workshop feat. Jill Williamson just before that, and Lindsay Cummings right after. So what do I choose?

The obvious choice would be the 6oC launch party. That was a life milestone as well as one of the best nights ever, and 6oC was one of my favorite books, et cetera, et cetera…

But I’m going with Book Fest, because–yet again–Tessa Gratton. I wouldn’t be the me going into 2016 that I am if it weren’t for Tessa and Leigh’s books.

So I guess it’s a toss-up? But the point is: I met my heroes this year. And that was great.

New Favorite Character: I mean, Kaz Brekker. Come on. At the beginning of the year I met Signy in The Strange Maid and she shaped me. But she’s one of those characters where I feel like I’ve known her forever. Like my feelings towards Richard Gansey, there wasn’t ever a time that I didn’t know Signy Valborn.

So Kaz. Because Kaz taught me focus and honestly, he is very easily the prettiest face I read about this year. You just can’t get much better than a teenaged con with a fancy suit.

Most Memorable Book: So this is a deviation, but this award goes to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, a book that I am still reviewing. I read it in late October, and I pretty much haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It was pretty incredible.

And finally. Last, but absolutely not least: Most Anticipated Read of 2016:

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 Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke.

Happy 2016, Reach readers.