March Bookstagram Reviews

Here’s a round up of bookstagram reviews I did for March. You can see my round up posts from previous months here: January and February.

What books have you read in March and what did you think of them? Any stand out reads?

February Bookstagram Reviews

Oh wow, February passed by so quickly! Maybe because it’s a shorter month? I didn’t even get to do this round-up of bookstagram reviews on the last day of the month. So here I am catching up on them today. You can check out my January bookstagram reviews here.

It was a pretty good reading month, I enjoyed reading four out of the five books I finished. I planned to read only romance titles in February but couldn’t help but read the latest issue of Sagala when I got a copy of it at Komiket. I’m planning to read whatever I want in March. I’m really a mood reader and I mostly stuck to a theme in January because I wanted to read more fantasy and February seemed like the perfect month for romance. Maybe I’ll read some of the comics I just bought, let’s see how it goes.

What about you, what were the books you read in February?

January Bookstagram Reviews

I have been going on and on about not being more active here on the blog, and how it’s easier for me to update both Twitter and Instagram because I can do that on my phone. So I figured I might as well write shorter reviews as bookstagrams and tweets, instead of longer ones here on WordPress. Path of least resistance, my friends. So here I am doing a round-up of books I did bookstagram reviews for. I’ll be doing this on a monthly basis and today, I’m sharing the ones from January. You can also check my Twitter profile where I have an embedded tweet that’s the start of a thread with similar content.

I think this is a pretty good mix considering that it has epic fantasy, comics, historical romance and urban fantasy. I have a few other bookstagrams that aren’t reviews and I’m trying to decide whether I should also do a different round-up for these miscellaneous shots. What do you guys think of these bookstagram round-ups? And what were the books that you read in January? Were there any titles that you loved? 🙂

Mini Review: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The Goblin EmperorThe youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

I had high hopes for this one since it kept being recommended by bloggers I trust. Also, they said that it’s a good read for fans of Megan Whalen Turner. In my eyes, that’s the highest praise that they can give! I did enjoy reading The Goblin Emperor and I really liked Maia’s character. But it didn’t become a favorite novel. I just didn’t love it as much as I was expecting. It’s a quiet kind of fantasy, a lot more introspective than action-oriented and filled to the brim with political intrigue. Maia was never groomed to become the emperor and his education is sadly lacking but he rises to the occasion beautifully. He’s a smart guy and never loses the compassion that’s such a big part of him even though he had a gloomy upbringing. He has an inner strength that others gradually recognize and admire, which helps him gain allies along the way. I like how Maia inspires loyalty because of how kind he is and how unusual that kindness is in an emperor. He deserves all the help that he can get so it’s a good thing that there are some people on his side. One thing that I liked about the novel is that it’s a standalone… as much as I love reading fantasy series, it’s refreshing to read a book that is complete on its own. While I believe this story wouldn’t linger in my mind, I did have fun reading it and would recommend the book to readers who like quiet fantasy with a strong dose of politics.

Other reviews:
By Singing Light
The Book Smugglers
Things Mean a Lot

Retro Friday: Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

Mystic and Rider is the first book in the Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn. I enjoyed reading the Samaria series by the same author and Archangel is one of my favorite books. I think I’ve read more contemporary titles than fantasy this year so I find myself wanting to read more of the latter. I decided it would be a good idea to give this series a try.

Here’s the summary from Sharon Shinn’s website:

The fire mystic Senneth crosses the country of Gillengaria on a mission for the king, trying to discover if noble marlords from the Twelve Houses are planning an uprising. She is accompanied by the soldiers Justin and Tayse, two King’s Riders who are unswervingly loyal to the crown. Also on the journey are the shape-changers Kirra and Donnal, and a young mystic named Cammon who can practically read minds. It’s soon clear that not only are marlords planning a rebellion, but that they are being aided by Daughters of the Pale Mother, a fanatical religious sect that hates mystics. While Senneth can clearly take care of herself, Tayse finds himself unable to stop watching her — determined both to protect her and to uncover her secrets.

And an interesting tidbit from the author: The thing that most people seemed to find disappointing about the Samaria books was that they didn’t follow the same people through successive storylines, so from the outset I planned the Twelve Houses books as a series about six main characters. I gave Senneth my own headaches just so I could share the pain.

I like the idea that the entire series features one group of characters. I’ve actually finished reading the first two books but I’ll review the second one after this. Just like the Samaria books, each of the Twelve Houses books features a romantic couple. I guess it’s pretty obvious from the title Mystic and Rider who those two are. Senneth is a mystic, a person with magical abilities, and she can control fire while Tayse is a King’s Rider, a member of the elite guard dedicated to serving the crown. It’s easy to like both Senneth and Tayse – the former for being a strong female protagonist who has a mysterious past and the latter for his loyalty and willingness to serve and follow his king’s commands. I actually guessed Senneth’s heritage way before it was revealed but I didn’t mind knowing it early.

I liked that the point of view changes from Senneth to Tayse and back again because we get to see how both characters think. I also like that this series deals with the same set of characters. I felt like this first book was an introduction to the six companions – Senneth, Tayse, Justin, Kirra, Donnal and Cammon. I obviously liked the first book well enough to start the second one right away. While I felt that the romance in Mystic and Rider was more quiet and restrained than I’d like, I understood that it reflected the personalities of the two individuals involved. Like a friend on Goodreads mentioned, Senneth and Tayse become the mother and father figure of the group because they’re several years older than the other characters. They’re both older, wiser and more subdued than the rest of the group.

The same goes for the worldbuilding, I felt that this book introduces readers to the world of Gillengaria, where the nobles (and the ruling class) come from Twelve Houses. The companions travel all over the country to gather information for the king. The readers get to know more about the nobles and a possible uprising because of the growing distrust against mystics. Because the books were meant to be read in order, the plot will make you want to read one book right after the other to get more information not just about the characters but about the fate of the kingdom. While I wasn’t blown away by the first book, I think the Twelve Houses series looks promising and I recommend it for fans of epic fantasy looking for a solid series to read.

Other reviews:
Dear Author
ArtSeblis
Songs and Stories
Cookies, Books and Bikes

When Reading Tastes Evolve

Photo from Tumblr

I started this blog thinking that I’d mostly review young adult and fantasy books since that’s what I was into. So that’s what ended up as a tagline on my blogging business card, “young adult and fantasy reviews.” But now that I think about it, I believe that’s not applicable anymore. I read all sorts of genre fiction now – still yes to YA, fantasy and fairy tale retellings, a little bit of sci-fi, a couple of historical fiction books, some magic realism, a lot of chick lit and contemporary romance and so on. It took a while for me to discover that I loved YA and fantasy because I just read whatever book was handy or I based my choices on recommendations from random friends. It’s funny because I even told a friend that it’s kind of like dating, you “go out” with some books to see if it will work out and eventually you build relationships with those which seem promising. Some of them remain favorites for the rest of your life. Whenever people say that they don’t like reading, I always reply that maybe it’s because they just haven’t found the genre that they like.

Anyway, once I found out my preferences, I thought I’d stick with that. But since I discovered book blogs and found bloggers to trust, those who seem to like the same kind of books that I do, I’ve read books that I normally wouldn’t have encountered if not for reviews in the blogosphere. Whenever a trusted blogger writes a persuasive review or raves about a book that looks really interesting, I feel the urge to read it as soon as I can. I’ve found some hidden gems because of these recommendations and the process has made my reading choices more varied. This doesn’t mean that I’ve loved all of the books that I’ve read because of recommendations, we can’t all like the same books after all. However, I still think it’s a good thing that I’m more willing to try out other genres now than before. I guess it helps that I’m more aware of what’s out there. Some friends have even asked me, “where do you even find out about the books that you read?” Why, the magical world of book blogging, of course. I can definitely say that my reading experience has become richer since I started this blog.

I’m wondering if it’s the same for the rest of you and you don’t have to be a book blogger to answer these questions, I’m curious even if you’re usually just a lurker. Have you guys read books that don’t fall under your comfort genres because they were recommended by someone you trust? How has the blogosphere affected your reading choices in general? I also have questions to those who follow my blog – are you a follower because you feel like we have similar tastes in books? What are the genres that you watch out for in my reviews?

Reviewing Habits

I haven’t posted a discussion topic for a while so I thought it would be a good idea to discuss reviewing habits of book bloggers. I try to write a review as soon as I finish reading a book so that the details are still fresh in my mind. I want to write my reviews before I become fully immersed in another novel so that I won’t get confused with a new story. Also, I tend to forget the specifics of a book after some time has passed. I guess that’s how simple it is for me – I sit down and write a review after finishing a book. I don’t take down notes while reading but I try to note down quotes that I want to include in my review, I usually just write down the page number somewhere. I love that Goodreads allows me to add my favorite quotes in each book’s page. I’m very laid back when it comes to my reviews because I want to keep things fun. I don’t want it to feel like work, you know? The downside of my review process is I usually don’t have reviews lined up as drafts. When I haven’t finished a book for some time (like now), I wouldn’t have any new posts to put up.

Usually, anything goes with the reviews that I write. I mention what stood out for me in the book – like the characters or the plot or the worldbuilding – or specific things that I liked or didn’t like. There are times when I post reviews that are longer than my usual review length because I end up saying a lot of things about the book while there are also times when I have a hard time coming up with anything. It’s frustrating when I can’t find words to express how I felt while reading a certain book because I don’t follow a set of guidelines when it comes to my reviews. Not having structured reviews is part of keeping things casual for me. I figure that as long as I can describe how I felt about the book, then I’m good.

I know it’s different for every other blogger out there. There are bloggers who take down notes while reading, bloggers who have a lot of reviews lined up because they read fast and there are also those who follow certain guidelines when reviewing. It’s different for every blogger and I guess that’s what makes things so interesting in the book blogosphere. So because I’m curious, please comment and share your reviewing habits.