Looking Ahead: Books of 2017

HAPPY 2017 FELLOW AMPERSAND-ERS!!

I hope your holiday and your New Year’s was amazing, memorable, and safe!

Have I ever told you that I write down book release dates in my planner? Well I do. And let me tell you…2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for both new novels and continuations of series I already read.

crossroadsofcanopyFirst up: Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer
Release date: January 31st 2017

Gods and goddesses are reincarnated into human bodies in this fantasy world. Humans across thirteen hierarchal colonies serve these gods. Our protagonist serves one such god, and much go in search of her newest reincarnation in the dangerous depths of their world.

I like SO MANY THINGS about this synopsis already. I’m a sucker for polytheism stories, and the worldbuilding of Canopy and the lower levels of Understorey and Floor already sound complex and interesting.

caravalCaraval by Stephanie Garber
Release date: January 31st 2017

This might sound like just another magical circus story (think Night Circus, The Menagerie, etc.) but this magical circus depends heavily on audience participation. And when Scarlett’s sister, Tella, gets kidnapped by the ringleader, and a competition is set up to reward the first person to find her…things get more complicated. There is a lot of buzz for this story already. I’ve entered several giveaways for an ARC but so far to no avail. Regardless, I will be snatching up a copy the day it gets out.

allourwrongtodaysAll Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Release date: February 7th, 2017

A time traveler from a far-advanced, alternate 2016 finds himself in the 2016 that we all know… and thinks that it’s an apocalyptic wasteland. This sounds like a very topical book, seeing as how everyone and their mother hated 2016. It also sounds super intriguing – so thank goodness it’s coming out at the beginning of this year!

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
Release date: April 20th 2017

After 2016’s City of Blades’ cliffhanger ending, I was already eager for the sequel. AND THIS ONE IS ABOUT SIGRUD! FINALLY, YAY!! I could happily read more and more books in this series for years, the world is that complex and rich.

thesongoftheorphansThe Song of the Orphans by Daniel Price
Release date: July 4th 2017

Finally the sequel to The Flight of the Silvers, a great book I read back in 2014 about a select group of people saved from disaster and sent to an alternate world where they suddenly have supernatural abilities. I remember there being a lot of adversaries as well, and I will DEFINITELY have to re-read the first book to be properly oriented for this new book.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Release date: May 2nd 2017

I am both unbelievably excited and nervous for the third book in this series. I fell so hard in book-love with A Court of Mist and Fury that I just NEED this third book to continue the amazing-ness that was that book. I am nervous because it could try to be another re-telling of some fable, or some of my favorite characters might get killed off, or it could just plain not be as good. But you can bet I will read it cover to cover as soon as I can get my hands on it.

downamongthesticksandbonesDown Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
Release date: June 13th 2017

The sequel to the best book I read in 2016! I love that McGuire is going to tell Jack and Jill’s story. They were two of the bigger characters in the first book, and they seemed to have the darkest and most complex background in terms of the world they both visited. I can only hope it is just as beautiful of a story, and perhaps that McGuire will continue with other stories in this world.

Well, that’s it for now! I am excited for much more than these fine novels, but for the sake of your reading eyes, I will stop for now. What books are you looking forward to this year?!

& Fridays: Ampersand Read’s Best Books of the Year

Ah, we’ve come to the end of another year (yeah….WHAT?!) and thus, the very important Third Annual Ampersand Read Best Books of the Year Awards! Or TAARBBOTYA if you want a title that requires an obnoxiously long acronym (here’s looking at you, A Court of Mist and Fury, or should I say ACOMAF?!) HUZZAH! HOORAY! AND THE CROWD GOES WILD!

It’s been a pretty damn good year of reading. Not that I’ve had many bad years, really. I found that I’ve read an incredible number of good sequels this year. It was quite hard to narrow it down. Without further ago (because I added some categories this time so it’s a long awards ceremony now):

Most Surprising

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens, May 2016

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I almost crowned this book in “Best Sequel” and THEN I thought it might be “Best Twist,” because this book, second in a series, feels like such a different book than the first. It has stronger characters, and this huge, sweeping plot that sets up so much for the books to come. My jaw dropped multiple times at how much I loved this book. I liked A Court of Thorns and Roses. I LOVED A Court of Mist and Fury. There is so much to fangirl about, and I became so invested in the world and the characters. Most of all, I wasn’t expecting these changes and by the end, I couldn’t see how the story could be any other way.

 

Most Beautiful

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I’ve got a thing for beautiful stories. Stories that maybe aren’t the most action packed, maybe aren’t the most succinct or as brief as they could be, but damn do they know how to place and write a sentence. McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway does a lot in a small space. At just over 150 pages, it’s rather short for a novel. It takes a lot to set up the world of a book, let alone a book where children fall into other worlds: you must set up dozens of other little stories (the worlds the children fall into) in the one big story (a safe haven for them to meet others like them). But the language evokes such feeling in this novel; it is small but talks about very big things.

Best Start of a Series

nevernight

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

The sequel to Nevernight does not even have a name yet, and it is already on my calendar to be ready to buy it. The writing style/language is polarizing: you either jump in with both feet and love it, or you fight the book the whole way. I ate it all up with a spoon, and now I want more. The premise of the story – a Hogwarts-style school for assassins where someone starts killing off the students – is just the tip of the iceberg. It is funny and beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. Can August 2017 get here sooner?!

Best Sequel

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett.

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett.

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

I was kind of hoping the sequel to last year’s brilliant City of Stairs would be from the perspective of Sigrud – the ass-kicking muscle to Shara’s quiet politician. But war general Turyin Mulaghesh does just fine, expanding the already vividly complex world Stairs began, and turning it a bit on its head. Second books in a series often slump, and are just a bridge to the final act. This sequel turns everything up to eleven, and I can’t wait for City of Miracles, out in April.

Honorable Mentions

So. Many. Other. Contenders. Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo’s sequel to last year’s stupendous Six of Crows was just as good as its predecessor, shipping all the best ships and hiding all the right secrets from readers until just the right moment to shock and awe us.

And Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman was crazy great as well. But I’m in love with the series, so I went into reading the sequel a little biased.

Best Cover

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman,.

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman,.

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

I just….so much work goes into these books! There’s art, there’s story, there’s graphics and diagrams and just so so SO many hours of genius. You only get an inkling of how involved the creation of these books are when you look at the covers, but it’s a good inkling. The transparent, watercolored dustjacket, the censored sections of files, revealed only in bits and pieces, the layout of it all: AMAZING.

Honorable Mentions

Smoke by Dan Vyleta features a beautiful painting by Claude Monet that is so atmospherically PERFECT for the novel and place in time. Plus, the colors are just plain pretty. We Could be Beautiful by Swan Huntley is highly reflective – a stray sunbeam and you could blind passerby if you were reading in public. But its subtle play on an out-of-focus yet still beautiful subject, and suggestion of a mirror is the perfect choice for a book that deals a lot with image and impressions.

Best Character

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Jesper from Crooked Kingdom (and Six of Crows)

Ooh a toughy. Not only do I have to narrow a choice down to a book I read this year, but to a single character that I liked “best.” Which is essentially impossible, because there were so many good guys and gals and monsters to choose from. And everyone in Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom is amazing. But I came to find Jesper to be one of my favorites. He’s the witty banter-er of the group, the comic relief. But he also has a complex backstory, and I feel like he could have a spinoff series of his own (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!). Plus he and Wylan are adorable.

Honorable Mentions

Too many to count. General Turyin Mulaghesh from City of Stairs, Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury, Darrow from Morning Star, and Nancy from Every Heart a Doorway to name just a very few.

Book I Most Want to See on Screen

Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

AGAIN. Can you imagine this movie? I can. It would be AWESOME. I am a sucker for clever characters whose plots are one step ahead of me, and I love that in the movies that I watch, too. Scenes in these books seem to play out very cinematically. Now who wants to direct?

Best Book I Read All Year

I couldn’t actually pinpoint just one (although I will in a moment for the sake of the awards. THE SHOW MUST GO ON!). I read so many books this year that I really liked, that it feels almost dishonest to say “I liked THIS one the best at the time of year/the week/the mood I was in that I read it.” Morning Star by Pierce Brown capped off the Red Rising trilogy so, so well. City of Blades and Gemina were superb sequels to series that I drool over. Nevernight was a fantastic start to what is probably going to be a beautiful friendship between me and Jay Kristoff’s new series.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire was just straight up amazing, and for how short it is, I know the book will stay with me a long time. The characters, the themes, the unbelievable potential for more stories: fantastic

& Fridays: Ready for the Readathon?!

WHEW. I don’t know about all of you, but I have been BUSY lately. Normally work slows down this time of year. Not a whole lot of people are planning travel in the winter: they’re travelling, or spending time with family and friends for the rapid-fire holiday schedule that is Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Chrismahanukwanzakah (that’s Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza, for those of you who never caught that episode of The O.C.). But for some reason people are still coming in full tilt, wanting to see if there are still places in Hawaii available for Christmas, or booking early for that river cruise or tour to Italy next year. Add to that the fact that I’ve moved to a new apartment recently, and you get a whole lot of STUFF.

I was very much looking forward to spending an entire weekend reading and snacking and curling up in my reading chair at my new place for the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon tomorrow. And I still am. But sometimes life schedules things in your way…

Snitch party favors!

Snitch party favors!

First a birthday popped up. A good friend of mine is having a dinner party. This will actually work out great, I thought. It will give me a nice break from reading all day long and I can get out and socialize! So that went on the calendar. THEN a coworker, having seen the pictures of the Harry Potter-themed Christmas party I threw last year (my post about it here), asked to hire me to do a Harry Potter-themed birthday party for his wife….the same Saturday.

And of course I’m not going to turn down a chance to express my nerdy love for Harry Potter! Plus, it justifies me keeping all of the decorations from my Christmas party!

So I’ve been running around like crazy this week, getting together things for the party and going to two different work events this week alone. I will still be participating in the Readathon, but I will not be reading as constantly as I would like L

I will be participating in as many mini challenges that I can, so keep your eyes on this space, because I will be posting more than usual! I am even hosting a mini challenge in Hour 8 (12:00 PM PST), so stay tuned for that as well!!

books016

Here are some books I have set aside for the readathon (and aren’t my bookends awesome?!):

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
I Wrote This For You by pleasefindthis
Children of the New World: Stories by Alexander Weinstein
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

I tried to get a good mix of shorter novels and short story collections. I Wrote This For You is actually photography and short poetry. Hopefully it’s a good enough mix that if I get tired of reading a novel, I can switch to a short story collection (Children of the New World) or poetry to liven things up. I highly doubt that I will get to all of these by the readathon’s end (especially because I’ll actually be around to read for only about 12 hours of the 24 hour event). But I’m excited to get started!

First up will probably be Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, the super-highly-anticipated (at least by me) sequel to Illuminae (my review here). I have been gobbling up pages every chance I get, but I don’t see myself finishing the 620+ pages by tomorrow! I think it’s a great series for the readathon too, because despite each installment’s length, the pages go by quickly due its epistolary form and the non-stop action.

Now excuse me while I continue baking Mandrake cupcakes and hanging up floating candles for this weekend…

August Uppercase Box

august2I love coming home to a brand new Uppercase Box! This month’s book selection is P.S. I Like You by Kasie West:

Signed, sealed, delivered… While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue! Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

My first reaction is that I tend to not like books featuring high school students. I used to LOVE them. When I was in middle school and high school, I ate stuff like this up with a spoon – couldn’t get enough of it. But these days, when I try to read fiction set in modern day high school, I bristle. Why are these characters so immature? I think. I can’t identify with them anymore (You know, because I’m SOOOO mature and worldly now *scoffs*). But I think I’ve been spoiled with YA sci-fi/fantasy, because I’ve had pretty good luck with the quality of writing and story. Sci-fi/fantasy has higher stakes, and is often more exciting to me. But I’ll definitely put this book on the to-read shelf for a day when I’m looking for a light, fun read.

augustAgain, the book-themed extras are excellent in this box. We have a poster with a quote from P.S. I Like You, a realllyyyyy cute notepad that is book-themed, with illustrations of cups of tea and book pages all over it, and an amazing necklace, a banner with the phrase “Once Upon a Time” across it. The necklace claims to be an Uppercase Box exclusive, although I swear it’s currently sitting in my www.modcloth.com/ wishlist…

I’ve already worn the necklace twice (I had to take it off in order to take pictures of it!), and the notepad now graces my desk along with the pencils and sticky notes from last month’s Uppercase Box. Keep up the good work, Uppercase Box gurus!

& Fridays: Read and Write Together

Sometimes it isn’t enough to curl up with a good book at home every night, or write the occasional short story that you never show anyone else, ever (guilty). Sometimes you want to find other people who like the same books you do, who are also fiction or fantasy writers and geek out over character name generators like you do.

Enter events. Book clubs. Gatherings of like-minded nerdy/geeky people who like what you like, and/or can introduce you to new authors or tools you had never heard of before. I’ve always been a bit on the fence about book clubs. If a book is not to my taste, I have a really hard time continuing it. It feels a bit like assigned reading for a class – read this within this time frame and have something to say about it the next time we meet. Perhaps if I had total control over the book club and got to dictate what everyone else read…

But I’d be willing to give it a try. My local independent bookstore hosts a fiction book group as well as a sci-fi/fantasy book group that I have considered joining. Social media apps and websites like Meetup are great as well. And hey, maybe someone out there reading this has a great book club in the Portland, Oregon area. Let me know 🙂

And if you’ve ever been around my blog near November, you know that I participate in this crazy thing called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. You write 50,000 words, the equivalent of a short novel, in 30 days for the month of November. It doesn’t matter if you are behind the entire month (been there!), or if you write twice as much every single day – you win NaNoWriMo if you submit a document of 50,000 words on November 30th. The writing community is very cool on the NaNo website. There are forums for finding the perfect character name, for titling your novel, even for submitting cover art for your finished product. You can be noveling friends with someone, motivate each other as you submit word counts each day, and more. If you’ve ever remotely been interested in writing in a longer form, or if you just have this idea that you can’t shake that you think would be great as a book, I encourage you to join this year (and be my noveling friend!)

I participated in a cool writing contest a couple years ago in Portland called the Sledgehammer Writing Contest. It started with a real scavenger hunt through the city, with clues leading to various restaurants and businesses. At each stop, you received a writing prompt that you were required to include in your final piece, which you had 24 hours to write and edit before submitting. The best piece (voted by readers of the website) received cash prizes and incentives. I didn’t win that year, but it was a ton of fun doing a scavenger hunt in Portland and then writing feverishly into the night. I remember one of the prompts was “doughnuts”…

And finally, my newest discovery…every year in the months of April and October, some marvelous people throw a 24-hour Readathon. Yup. Dewey’s 24 Hour Readation (http://www.24hourreadathon.com/) starts at the same time for everyone, and goes for a full 24 hours. The goal is to read the entire time, whether that’s listening to audiobooks while you cook or shower, curling up in your favorite reading chair all day long, or re-reading your favorite series of graphic novels. Along the way, people who signed up as cheerleaders cheer you on via social media, and Mini-Challenges get posted on the main website, with fun activities to do and blog post ideas for those with blogs. I am ALL ABOUT THIS, so get ready, because the 24-hour Readathon is NEXT WEEKEND, October 22nd! Keep a lookout for some posts on my reading list for the day, and all day posts about how its going (and the mini challenges bloggers post to keep things interesting) I already have some ideas on which books will be in the roster…

What about you? Have you come across a book club/writing competition/generally awesome book thing that you want people to know about? Let me know!

July Uppercase Box

(Sorry for the delayed posts – I’ll keep up in the future!)

Another month, another delightful box of bookish goodies! Here is the July Uppercase Box!

july2
This month’s book is This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I am excited because 1.) I quite liked Schwab’s adult sci-fi/fantasy books, Vicious and A Darker Shade of Magic, and 2.) the book just sounds pretty cool:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books. Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Oooh, tension, intrigue, romance, and monsters. Count me in.

july

Along with This Savage Song, we have a button asking “Human or Monster?” as well as two delightful desk items: a package of Vintage “Stickies” – sticky notes, page markers, etc. – and bookworm-themed pencils. I am particularly fond of the page markers that look like book spines, and the pencils are great too, with phrases like “Read More, Sleep Less,” “Professional Bookworm,” and “#Booknerd.” Both of them will have a place of pride on my desk, next to my vintage typewriter 🙂

My Owl Crate gift subscription is up as of last month, but that’s probably a good thing, as both subscription boxes sent the same book again! So if you’re in the market for a fun monthly book subscription, I’d recommend going with either Uppercase Box OR Owl Crate, and not both. The probability that both companies send you the same book is just getting too high. Both are excellent, and I have greatly enjoyed both of them. I will say that while Uppercase Box seems to send fewer book-themed goodies in every box, they seem to be of higher quality and functionality, at least to me. I know I’ll keep these fun sticky notes and pencils on my desk, and that I’ll use them. But I will also put a note in Owl Crate’s favor: they introduced me to a lot of cool Etsy artists and small businesses that deal with fun, nerdy accessories and gift ideas that I otherwise would not have found.

& Forbidden Forest Fridays: Don’t Be a Snitch

Alas, Harry Potter week had to come to an end, my friends. But: I have one last thing to tell you.

Or show you really…

hptattoo

 

 

I officially have a Harry Potter tattoo!

I’ve been wanting a literary themed tattoo for a while (wrote a post about it a while back, actually…) and as you can probably tell if you didn’t know already…I’m a big fan of Harry Potter.

So here’s my brand new ink, on my right forearm, my very own Golden Snitch. I’m loving it so far, which is good, because it’s permanent.

 

hptattoo2

Anybody else out there have Harry Potter ink? Any other literary tattoos I need to see?

Hope you enjoyed the magical theme that was this week! Happy Friday!

& Fridays: On Reading a Series #4: When It’s All Over

I am getting sad just THINKING about writing this post, you guys. Because eventually, all good things must come to an end…including…beloved series.

*Goes in a corner to sob*

What do you do when a favorite series comes to an end? What happens when the somewhat-pleasant book hangover ends, and you are left with the empty knowledge that there will be no more books in that series. It’s over. Done. Sure, the author might (and probably will) write another book, maybe even another series. You might even like or love the new series, but does it ever feel the same?

I’m going to hazard a guess and say no, it doesn’t. Whatever you do, you have to come to terms with The End. In hindsight, I should have saved “The Five Stages of Sequel Grief” from last week’s series post for this post, but oh well. Them’s the breaks. Regardless, here are some tips for dealing with Post-Excellent-Series Depression:
Read something else.
Yep, it will be time to Move On. Read something you know you love, whether for you that’s the entire series of Harry Potter, Sorcerer’s Stone to Deathly Hallows, or your favorite trashy romance novel: return to something you know you love, perhaps just as equally as the series you just finished. OR read something awful. Whether for you that’s going through the kitchen oven manual page by page, or reading a Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray installment. It’s a palate cleanser, if you will. So that the next book you attempt won’t pale so much in comparison to all the good stuff you’ve been reading.

– But stay in the book’s world a little while.
Go back and read your favorite scenes, peruse the online community of your choice for other fans to talk with, compile a list of actors and actresses who you’d be okay with playing your new favorite characters in a movie adaptation of the series. Draw, color, spray paint, write fanfiction, go online and buy oodles of action figures or other merchandise having to do with the books. Be proud of being a fan. Nerd out. You do you.

– Recommend that book until people want to punch you in the face.
Or maybe not, because punches in the face are no fun. But if you love something, set it free….into other people’s libraries. I hesitate sometimes to read something people or publications gush on and on about, for fear that I won’t love it as much (and then I almost always cave, because I’m a sucker like that). But at this point, if my best friend tells me to read something, I freakin’ read it. Because that girl has got good taste, meaning that it is very like my own (she said so humbly). And I know that if she LOVED something, I will most likely LOVE it as well. So blog about it, tweet, Facebook, and tell people in person that you just read a really good book, and it deserves to be read. In my opinion, a well-read world is a good world.

– Keep your copies
I understand if you don’t have the bookshelf space. I’m running out of it myself. But I like to keep copies of series I know I love. It’s nice seeing them there on the shelf, and if I’ve gone through a bad run of books lately, I know I have a shelf of good ones that I can always return to to remind me that the world is good again. You can keep your well-worn paperback or replace them with nice hardcover copies while you lend your paperback copy out to people.

– Pay attention to recommendations
There are plenty of websites or social media outlets that can help you find books of a similar nature to the one you just finished and loved. This can, of course, backfire, and you could hate the comparison, disagreeing entirely with whoever dared to say the two books had anything in common, but I have found some great new reads this way. Goodreads has a nice tool for this – once you add a book to a shelf, it can sort through users who have read the same thing, and find books of a similar theme. There is also literally a website called http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com/ So there’s that…

What do YOU do to get over a terrific series? What’s the last amazing set of books you read? I am always looking for recommendations! Happy Friday!

& Fridays: On Reading a Series #3: When You Don’t Like the Sequel

You’ve been waiting for this for months. You have it set up as a notification on your phone, in your planner, on your wall calendar ever since you found out the date. It’s the sequel to the Best Book Ever, or The Best Book You Read Last Year. The wait has been torturous. Your parents/friends/dog are sick of hearing how excited you are for this book to come out. You get giddy thinking about re-immersing yourself back into that book world, re-acclimating yourself with the characters. If you’re like me, you have read the first book again in anticipation of this one: you want everything fresh in your mind, you want a seamless transition between the events of the first book into the events of the second.

You reserve your copy online. You are first in line at the bookstore or your mailbox to get that brand new copy in your hot little hands. You open up the book and take a deep whiff of its pages (no? Just me? Okay…). You speed race home, nearly maiming yourself by taking the stairs too quickly. You stay up until the wee hours of the morning to finish the book. Or you just sneak in pages whenever you can – your lunch break, before and/or after dinner, even bathroom breaks. Only a few days after you got THE BOOK, you finish it, close the back cover….and you feel underwhelmed.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Sequels are tricky things. I have read my fair share of excellent book series that have just…lackluster second or even third installments. Sometimes it feels like a betrayal: how DARE the author kill off my beloved character. HOW DARE they keep these two apart. HOW DARE THEY NOT WRITE IT LIKE I WANTED THEM TO?! You run a full gamut of emotions. In fact, let’s call it “The Five Stages of Sequel Grief

1.Despair: It is a horrible feeling to dislike a book whose first story you absolutely loved. What happened? You feel like lamenting. Is it me? Is it you? You stare at the book cover, smattered with your tears…

2.  Rationalizing: It probably isn’t as bad as you’re making it out to be. You’re looking at things through the lens of rose colored first-in-a-series-glasses. You loved that first book. This one is great too, in its own way. If you looked up reviews on Goodreads or on your favorite book blogs, you’ll see that you’re just being too quick to judge…

3. Anger: You look up the reviews. And one of two things happens:

  1. Everyone loves the book, and you begin to feel crazy for not liking it and WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU/THIS BOOK?! You get angry.
  2. Everyone hates the book, and their comments fuel your hate-fire so that as you read, you begin to yell at the computer screen: “EXACTLY!”, “THAT’S WHAT I WAS SAYING!”, and “WHY WOULD THE AUTHOR DO THIS TO US?!” You get angry. And people stare at you for yelling at your computer screen.

4. The Break Up: You put your copy of that sequel far, far away. On the shelf furthest back in your bookcase. In the guest bedroom where you don’t have to see it every day. Pitched into the backyard so the worms can have it (on second thought, don’t do that. Respect the books). You and this series need a Time Out. You just need some time to process things, to grow as a person, to really figure out what it is you want in life.

5. Acceptance/Forgiveness: Sometimes books and people – good books, good people – just don’t mesh. Even though you loved the first book, the second book just didn’t go the way you expected. And that’s okay. Chances are that someone – maybe many someones – out there liked it. And good for them. Maybe you’ll read the next book in the series, you know, to see if it picks up again. You’ll just go into the next one with lower expectations. And you’ll be fine with it if it’s not that great too. But by god, if that one sucks too….

See, lots of feels involved with series reading. On the flipside, what if you love the sequel, and were just “meh” about the first book? I’m struggling with writing reviews for that situation right now. What happens when you and your book reading friends disagree on a series installment? TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS!

And happy weekend J

 

& Fridays: Uppercase Box June

I got my Uppercase Box this month a few days after Owl Crate. And as soon as I eagerly yanked the book from the Uppercase drawstring bag, my heart sank. If you read my Owl Crate post last week, you can guess why.

juneIt’s the same book! My Lady Jane, written by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. The silly-sounding one about vaguely-historical characters and a man that turns into a horse during the day.

If anything, this proves that the publicist or agent or whoever is in charge of getting word of the book out there in the world is doing a good job. He or she convinced two book subscription companies to include this book in their boxes in the same month. And I don’t exactly expect Uppercase Box and Owl Crate to be in communication together, making sure they do not send out the same thing, but it feels disappointing nonetheless. I wouldn’t buy the same book twice unless I knew I loved it and I wanted to get a copy for a friend, etc.

june3I might hand off one of these copies to a fellow YA fan. There’s no room on my bookshelf or reason to keep two copies.

Moving on! The goodies this month are a spectacular woodgrain Deathly Hallows magnet that immediately got put in a place of honor on my fridge, and a light canvas bag with a fun illustration, crying out “I read, therefore I fangirl.” I believe it’s the same artist who created the YA-quote calendar I got in January, actually…

When it comes down to it, I would not normally spend the amount of money an Uppercase Box or Owl Crate costs on the goodies that came in this month’s subscriptions. Yes, it is disappointing that both companies chose the same book, but that’s what I get for loving books so much that I subscribed to more than one book box!