Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post asks us to list the Top Ten Books That Were Hard for Me to Read. I choose to look at this a couple of ways: the book had difficult subject matter, so it hit me hard personally, or the book just plain old took me forever to finish for whatever reason (slow writing, lack of interest, etc.). I also want to state upfront that a couple of these books were actually DNFs, but figured that in itself made them able to make the list, so I’mma go with it.

Off we go!

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noughtsandcrosses1) Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
This book made me so darn uncomfortable that I just couldn’t finish it. I know that that was its purpose – to make you see how wrong a society like this is (and was, because it’s basically a reverse look at slavery) – but I just couldn’t bring myself to read the whole thing.

feed2) Feed by M.T. Anderson
Ugh, this book. I just did not like it! The main character was lacking in so many ways and I just found myself annoyed with the entire setup. This was another DNF.

chocolatewar3) The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
This was another book that made me brutally uncomfortable – again its intended purpose – although I did manage to make it all the way through. I just will never be reading it again!

stepfromheaven4)  A Step from Heaven by An Na
So much going on in this book, and I just felt so badly for the main character throughout. Definitely – for me – an emotional and heart-wrenching read.

ifIlie5) If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
I felt terribly for Quinn and was so angry at the others for treating her the way they were throughout this book. Parts of this made me teary-eyed, too, so there was lots of setting this aside in order to get myself back together.

midnightinthegarden6) Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Ugh, this book. I really didn’t like it, and it took me FOREVER to read.

heroindiaries7) The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx
This first-person narrative of what it’s like to be in the throes of an extremely dangerous heroin addiction is pretty much the epitome of hard to get through. Nikki Sixx is one lucky  dude to still be alive!

hungergames8) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I feel like the only person in existence who didn’t like this book. But I just can’t wrap my head around children killing children, and – while I get while others like the books – they’re just too much for me personally.

timetravelerswife9) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This book KILLED me. Not only was it hard to get through emotionally, but it also took me forever to read, with the narrative jumps and the style used to tell the story.

thisisnotatest10) This is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
Courtney Summers is sort of known for having difficult books, but this apocalyptic zombie thriller featured one of the most depressed main characters I’ve ever encountered, and just broke my heart.

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So that’s my list this week! What made your top ten? Please link me!

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REVIEW: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

winnerscurseThe Winner’s Curse
by Marie Rutkoski

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

mythoughtsThe Winner’s Curse has been on my radar for absolute ages – well before its release – and was initially a book I was planning on purchasing once it was published. And then my massive reading slump happened, and I just never did. Honestly I could kick myself for waiting so long to finally get around to it, because I loved pretty much every single thing about this book. In fact, I think it might just be my favorite book I’ve read this year, which I wasn’t sure it would even come close to qualifying as when I started it because it did take a while for me to warm up to the main character and become invested in the story. But I think that’s more my issue – my inability to read books in a timely fashion – than the book itself. Also, this was the first book that I listened to on audio – most of this book was “read” via audiobook, although not all of it – which could account for my feeling like it was slow to start. So I’m going to sort of combine my feelings on the book itself, while also talking a bit about the audiobook version, in case anyone is interested in trying it out in that format.

The audiobook version of this book is narrated by Justine Eyre, and while I am not a connoisseur of audiobooks by any means – as I said, this was the first time I actually made it through one in its entirety – I found her voice to be pleasant to listen to and felt like she read at a pretty decent clip. This is a must for me, because part of my issue with audiobooks is the time it takes to listen to them – I can read so much faster that I often find my attention waning or drifting and realize I’ve missed a whole ton of the story. She does do sort of different voices for the characters, which I’m not necessarily a fan of, but overall it worked, and I was pleased with the experience. I think it helped that I broke it up a bit by reading portions from the actual hardcover copy of the book as well, but I personally felt like she did the story justice and I’d listen to her again. For what my opinion is worth, of course!

As for the story itself, this is definitely a book about forbidden love, set in a historical fantasy-type world where Kestrel’s people – the Valorians – have enslaved Arin’s people – the Herrani. I actually liked Kestrel from the start, although I liked her more once she started spending more time with Arin and the two of them started becoming friends and then more. Kestrel goes through a lot of character development, and I really found myself feeling for her, as things happened around her and she was forced to reevaluate her life, especially once she was forced to choose something she really didn’t want to do. As for Arin, he is nicely mysterious at first – even though the reader knows what he’s up to before Kestrel does – and I liked his quick wit and sense of humor, and the way he pulled Kestrel out of her shell. The fact that they’re both musicians didn’t hurt, either, as I’m a sucker for musician!characters. Be still my heart and all that. The ending, of course – while expected I guess? – really kind of broke my heart, though, and leaves me longing for the second book, although somehow I bet it’s not going to be any less painful.

All in all, The Winner’s Curse was – at least in my opinion – worth the hype. I loved the world, the characters, the romance, and the drama and intrigue Arin’s actions have brought to fruition. I look forward to seeing what comes next, and can safely say that The Winner’s Crime – book two in the series – has definitely made it onto my autobuy list!

5stars

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A Week in Bookstagrams

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A Week in Bookstagrams is a new feature here at Read and Reviewed, in which I’m going to share my favorite Book Photo Challenge posts from my Tumblr with you all. Eventually I will make one of these posts each week, aside from the Thursdays I do my Merin’s Musings post, but time got away from me this month, so here is another monthly recap instead.

[NOTE: Click the pictures to see them at full size!]

recentpurchase criedalotbooktomovie shouldbeamovieheroandheroine favseriesrecommendedtome bookstackneedtobuy wanttoliveherebookspine

Row 1: Latest Purchase | I Cried … A Lot
Row 2: Book to Movie | This Should Be A Movie
Row 3: Hero [&] Heroine | Favorite Series
Row 4: Recommended to Me | Book Stack
Row 5: I Need to Buy This | Can I Live Here?
Row 6: Book Spine

[Book Photo Challenge Prompts for September can be found HERE.]

So those are my favorites! If you’re curious, you can see all the rest of my Book Photo Challenge posts – dating back to July, which is when I started participating in the challenge – by checking out my tag HERE on my Tumblr!

Which one do you like best? Do you take part in any bookish photo challenges? If so, please link me to your entries!

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Waiting on Wednesday #90

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week I’m Waiting on Wednesday for Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2) by Rachel Hawkins (Putnam Juvenile):

NOTE: Summary contains spoilers for Rebel Belle.

missmayhemLife is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfriend, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.

[ADD TO GOODREADS]

Why I’m looking forward to this book:

I really liked Rebel Belle, and am excited to see how the series continues. I find Harper to be a delightful main character, and was thoroughly on board for her romancing good times with David. I like the paranormal aspect as well, as it’s something you don’t see too often, as well as the little nod to mythology (although it’s not a specific pantheon of gods). I just found Rebel Belle to be really fun and entertaining, and am sure the sequel will be no different!

Release Date: April 7, 2015

What are you waiting on this week? Please link me!

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Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read List

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post asks us to list the Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List. Usually I would list ten upcoming releases that I’m particularly excited about, but because I’m really trying to read my own books a bit more than I usually do, I decided to split this week’s list into five Fall releases I’m particularly excited about, and five books I already own that I’d like to get to. So here we go!

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1) Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

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2) The Fall by Bethany Griffin

bloodofolympus

3) The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan

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4) Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

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5) Invisible (The Twixt #2) by Dawn Metcalf

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6) Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

annadressedinblood

7) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

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8) Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs9) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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10) Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

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So that’s my list this week! What books did you include on yours? Please link me!

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REVIEW: The Terror of the Southlands by Caroline Carson

terrorofthesouthlandsThe Terror of the Southlands (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2) by Caroline Carson
HarperCollins, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Previous Installment: Magic Marks the Spot

Hilary Westfield is a pirate. In fact, she’s the Terror of the Southlands! She’s daring, brave, fearless, and . . . in a rut. Maybe she hasn’t found any treasure lately. And maybe she isn’t fighting off as many scallywags as she’d like. But does that mean she and her loyal crew (including a magical gargoyle) deserve to be kicked out of the ranks of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates?

There is only one thing to do—find a daring mission worthy of her fearless reputation. With the help of first mate Charlie, finishing-school friend Claire, and the self-proclaimed intrepid gargoyle, Hilary sets sail on a swashbuckling expedition that may or may not involve a kidnapped Enchantress, bumbling inspectors, a mysterious group called the Mutineers, and—the most terrifying thing of all—a High Society ball.

mythoughtsI was a huge fan of the first book in Caroline Carson’s delightful middle grade pirate series, so was definitely looking forward to the second one. I am happy to report that The Terror of the Southlands is just as fun, with lots of action and adventure. Hilary is a fabulous main character who is all about smashing gender roles and doing what she wants instead of what’s expected, and I loved watching her slowly figure things out and make decisions. She isn’t perfect – she makes mistakes – but she’s so fun and full of life that you can’t help but love her. The book also features the same supporting cast – Miss Grayson, Charlie, Claire and her beloved gargoyle – while also introducing even more delightfully absurd pirates that help – and hinder – her along the way.

This book was a bit different from the first, because Hilary has established herself as a pirate and member of the VNHLP, although she finds herself in a bit of trouble with the League’s president. See, she’s being rather unpiratical, and is told to go find a quest to go on to prove her pirate status. The quest she winds up choosing, however – rescuing the Enchantress, who has mysteriously gone missing – is not quite what the president has in mind, and Hilary finds herself getting a second and third warning for her choice throughout the book. This doesn’t dissuade her, though, because the Enchantress is a friend, and Hilary suspects something bad is afoot and won’t stop until she’s figured things out. Her determination to do what she knows is right regardless of the consequences was completely endearing, and I couldn’t help but cheer her on.

If you’re looking for a fun, extremely entertaining new series to try, do give The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates a try. Hilary is all kinds of fun, and the book has a delightful setting, full of pirate terms, lots of “arr”-ing, and threats of being run through by cutlasses or walking the plank. Hilary and her crew get up to all sorts of entertaining hijinks, which lead to a thoroughly enjoyable read with a light and fun touch. Even adults can find something to love in this series’ pages, which is the mark of a good series. Do give this one a shot! I’m positive you won’t be disappointed.

4stars

An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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Merin’s Musings #6: The Joys (and Perils) of Library Books

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Today’s musing post is brought to you by the stack of library books I currently have sitting next to the chair I do most of my reading in, as well as an email from the library reminding me to renew said books.

For the fourth time.

Let me preface this by stating the obvious: I adore the library. There’s a quote by T.S. Eliot that says, “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.” I love this quote, because it really speaks to the importance of libraries in general, the fact that they can educate and provide sanctuary and support for anyone who seeks it out. It also speaks to the idea of hope: hope that things will get better, hope that people will take steps to improve themselves, hope that future generations will want to know about the past. Libraries are full of so much information – there’s something there that can speak to anyone – and I’m not sure there are many other places that can say the same. So thinking about libraries in general just makes me happy.

And while I’m all about “yay, education!” and “yay, information!” what I really love about libraries is that I can generally get my hands on any book I want, even if said library system doesn’t have the book I might want (inter-library loan, ftw!). But my overall feeling of “YAY, BOOKS!” usually tends to lead to me going overboard with my requests. Because I just want to read all the books, you know? After all, I subscribe to the thought shared by Roald Dahl when he said, “If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” And the library certainly gives me a chance to read a lot of books.

And therein lies my problem: Libraries are bad for my self-control.

I have always had issues figuring out the balance between reading what I want (library books or books I own) and books I “need” to read (like arcs/galleys). Because my reading in general has been such a struggle the last nine months, I have kind of made a point to switch my mentality and really only read what I want to read, with the hope that this will just get me reading something. And for the most part it’s worked, although I am still definitely going through some reading slumps/lack of desire to actually pick a book up. But a while back I decided to go through my Goodreads to-read list and look at some titles I was initially really excited about, to see if they were available at my local library. They were, so I requested them. Hence the stack of library books currently staring at me.

So here’s my question. If you use your local library system, how many books do you usually check out at one time? Do you limit yourself to one, or do you get a whole stack at once? How do you balance out “your” books and the books you need to read for review?

Right now, the last book I read was a review book. I have another review book that I’m (slowly) working on as well. And I have two others that I need to read within the next few weeks, just so I can get them reviewed prior to their release. And yet, I have a giant, teetering stack of my own books to read, plus the four books from the library that I can only renew so many times. In fact, I feel like I’m so inundated with books, that I’m just generally avoiding them altogether. Which is ridiculous, right? I mean, just pick something up, Merin, seriously, right?

So. Do you read library books? If so, how do you structure them into your review schedule? And how do you keep yourself from generally requesting all the books? Am I just overthinking this? Am I just being generally ridiculous? (Feel free to say yes.)

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

Agreed, sir. And maybe, if that’s true, I will finally get a chance to read all those books on my TBR List – without the fear of those dreaded overdue notices.

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Waiting on Wednesday #89

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week I’m Waiting on Wednesday for The Devil You Know by Trish Doller (Bloomsbury):

devilyouknowArcadia “Cadie” Wells has one primary goal in life –– to escape the sleepy Florida town where she was born and raised. Since her mother’s death, she’s sacrificed her boyfriend, her spot on the soccer team, and even her plans for the future to raise her little brother and help her still-grieving father. On a rare night out at a party at the local state park, Cadie meets a couple of good-looking tourists and impulsively agrees to join them on their road trip from one end of Florida to the other. But when their adventure goes tragically wrong, Cadie’s new goal is to make it home alive.

[ADD TO GOODREADS]

 

Why I’m looking forward to this book:

I really enjoyed Where the Stars Still Shine, and am so excited to see a new book coming out by this author. I love that she writes very flawed, real characters – and Cadie sounds no different – and also love that this one has a definite thriller/mystery-type feeling to it. I don’t read a lot of contemporary, but this one definitely sounds like it will be a good one!

Release Date: June 2, 2015

What are you waiting on this week? Please link me!

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Top Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks us to list the Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More. I’m not sure how exactly this was meant, so I chose a couple of different ways to make this list: authors who have series that I’ve only read the first book of (but want to read more), and authors who have only written one book that I loved so much I can’t wait to see what they do next, to the authors who have tons of books but I’ve only read one of them. So this is sort of a mishmash list, but hopefully it still works!

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So that’s what I’ve got this week! Who made your list? Please link me!

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REVIEW: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

sistersfateSisters’ Fate
(Cahill Witch Chronicles #3)
by Jessica Spotswood

Putnam Juvenile, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Previous Installments: Born Wicked | Star Cursed

NOTE: Summary contains spoilers for the previous books in this series!

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

mythoughtsAfter reading Star Cursed, book two in this series, I was really nervous to see how the author was going to wrap this series up. The ending of that one showed she could be cruel – it nearly broke my heart – but I also loved that it also probably meant we’d be in for a wild ride in Sisters’ Fate where the reader wouldn’t really be able to guess what was going to happen. And I was right: Sisters’ Fate was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, but one I thoroughly enjoyed being on. I was also extremely satisfied with how this universe ended, and am really glad I stayed with the series after not loving the first book as much as I’d wanted.

Much of this book is about the Cahill sisters’ drama – and I mean that in a good way, because it was well-developed, tension-filled, interesting drama – and the resulting fallout from what Maura did at the end of Star Cursed and its impact on Cate’s already-dwindling sisterly emotion towards her.  Tess likewise has a lot going on – which we’re not really privy to until towards the end of the book – and then there is Cate, who is once again our narrator. I really felt for her in this book – she’s lost something important, is struggling with what that means for her and her sisters, and it’s also pretty obvious that the prophecy about the Cahill sisters is coming closer to fruition. There’s also drama within the Sisterhood itself, with Inez becoming the new leader and Cate’s distrust towards her and dislike of what Inez did to the leaders of the Brotherhood. (Vagueness is vague, I know, but I don’t want to spoil unnecessarily!) I really felt like Cate went through a lot of growth in this book, and I found her to be stronger and more capable than before.

I also really loved the way this book flowed. Everything was gearing up towards the final climax – which I have to admit I totally didn’t see coming, at least in terms of how the prophecy played out – and there was so much drama and intrigue and second-guessing going on that it just made me sort of clutch at the book insanely. There was so much going on here – the drama with the Sisterhood, the fallout from Maura, the fever sweeping the commoners, Tess’ weird goings-ons – that there was certainly never a dull moment. I also loved getting to know some of the side characters a bit better as well, and particularly enjoyed Alice and the way she played into the story.

All in all, I have zero complaints about the finale to this trilogy, and that’s not always something I can say. Sisters’ Fate wrapped things up nicely – but not neatly – and I really loved the character development AND the fact that we got to see a whole lot of witchery from the girls. The drama made this a “I must finish this now!”-sort of book, and I loved the way everything played out to keep me on the edge of my seat. This one was definitely worth the wait; I can’t wait to see what Ms. Spotswood writes next!

4stars

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