Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 in Review

Well this has been an epic and eventful year! I don't normally post personal things of this nature here, but I thought why the hell not. I am, after all, a person. And those reading this blog might have some interest in who I am and what I do besides write reviews for books.

My Personal Highlights of 2013
  • Started working for EOH and progressed in my career
  • Attained my APSO Recruitment Consultant qualification
  • Had the amazing opportunity to see one of my favorite bands, Dave Matthews Band, live at the Coca-Cola Dome
  • Also had the opportunity to see Metallica at the FNB Stadium
  • Attended many bookish events and widened my social circle
  • Traveled to Clarens and back on the back of a BMW R1200GS motorbike
  • Made some significant steps in my photography
  • Kick-started an awesome YA bookclub
  • Tried rockclimbing and did not die
  • Met SA supergroup The Parlotones!

Bookish and Blog Highlights
  •  Had a review posted on Women24
  • City of Bones Premiere!
  • Received my first lots of review copies from a few wonderful publishers - this is the hallmark moment of any blogger!
  • Met and mingled with some great authors and got signed copies of their books
  • Two very awesome and successful Exclusive Books warehouse sales under my belt!
  • Had authors quote and mention my reviews
  • Bought a special edition of The Shining Girls... signed and all!
  • Became an eBook reader thanks to my awesome boyfriend who purchased me a Kobo

10 Books That Stood Out for me in 2013(in no particular order)
  1. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  2. Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
  3. 5th Wave by Rick Yancy
  4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  5. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  6. Scarlet by AC Gaughen
  7. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
  8. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  9. Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
  10. Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human 
 Just a few more days left until 2014! May it be a wonderful, eventful year for everyone!

Review: The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy

I am normally the sort of reader who prefers taking a break between parts in a trilogy. So I was quite surprised that I didn't want to read anything else until I had completed all three books in Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls series.

If you follow the blog, you will have already read my somewhat apologetic review of Shiver. I had initially been put off this series by the bad reviews I had read on Goodreads and other blogs. Silly, stupid me.

This is a great series. Shiver can be seen as a standalone book, but I do reccomend that you read Linger and Forever as well.

Linger introduces a new character, Cole St. Clair. Cole is flawed and broken and far more interesting than Sam in that he is unpredictable. He brings a darker element to the series as he has a sketchy past and is not exactly the best role model. However, one cannot help but be intrigued by him and his story.

Linger also introduces new problems. Grace's health is declining and no one knows why. The Wolves' lives are in danger and their future in Mercy falls uncertain.

Forever sees everything building up to a climax and  closing off the trilogy with questions answered and a window left open for a possible return to the Mercy Falls universe.

I mentioned this before, but I do love Maggie Stiefvater's writing. She puts effort and feeling into every line and her characters felt like real people to me. I find myself missing Mercy Falls and Grace and Sam. I want more!

I also liked that each character was significant. The interactions between those characters added value to the story and told us more about them. I wish more books were written so thoroughly.

I found out over the weekend, much to my fangirl delight, that Cole is going to get his own novel! Sinner will be released in July 2014 and will feature Cole and Isabel and look deeper into his story. I cannot wait!

Thank you Estelle from Scholastic SA for the review copies of these wonderful books! I am a fully converted fan and look forward to getting lost in Maggie's other novels The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys over my holiday!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Silly Season Reading List

Happy festive season everyone!

I am looking forward to having a solid two weks off I can dedicate to catching up on my reviews and TBR pile. So expect lots of activity on the blog in the next few weeks.

I am also wrapping up reading Maggie Stiefvater's Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. It is much better than I was expecting and seems to improve with each book. Reviews coming soon!

Here is a list of my reads this December. I hope to get through them all! 

So, what are you guys planning on reading? Leave comments and let me know!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why One Should Not Judge a Book on Reviews Alone (Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater)

Title: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls 1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic (2009)

A BIG thank you to Estelle at Scholastic for providing me with a copy for review.
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back.
I have put off reading this book for years. And, quite frankly now that I have read it I feel positively guilty about it.

I based my initial impression of the writing and plot on snarky, harsh reviews and I allowed this to taint how I perceived the book. This really is not fair and from now on I will not read reviews of books I want to read until I have actually read them. This sounds weird coming from a reviewer, but I do make the effort these days to be as objective as possible in my reviews. Especially as we are all different and have our own tastes and opinions.

The reason behind this choice is simple. People can be unbelievably harsh on the internet and everyone wants to exert their opinion. I am just as guilty of this sometimes. I pulled down my initial nasty review of Shiver that I posted on Goodreads in 2010. At the time, I thought I was so clever. Posting a scathing review of a book I had barely read made me feel empowered. I had an opinion, dammit! And people will read it! HEAR ME ROAR!

Looking back, this wasn't clever. Shiver is actually a wonderful read that is written incredibly well. I found myself thnking about Grace and Sam when I wasn't able to read the book. I wanted to know how their story ended and I felt for them.

Sam is a tragic character. He has been through so much in his life and in many ways, Grace is his salvation. And you can feel this in the bond between them.

I can understand why Shiver is such a success because when you are reading the book, everything feel so real! The setting and the characters draw you in. Yes, the pace is slow, but the mystery and ambiance more than makes up for this.

I felt that Stiefvater really loves Mercy Falls and her ensemble of characters. Her thoughtful approach shows in her writing. She handles things delicately and with finesse.

If you enjoyed Twilight, you will love Shiver. Stephenie Meyer wishes she could write this well!

And please do not judge a book you really want to read on reviews alone. Yes, I do respect other people's opinions, but there is more to reading and reviewing books than picking out the flaws and using ridiculous .gifs. I think reviewers often lose the simple enjoyment a book can bring them.