The TBR Tag

It’s time for the TBR Tag. Thanks for Noriko for tagging me! Let’s get started.

Questions:

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?:

I use Goodreads to keep track of my TBR. I really like how accessible it is compared to a written list and I can access it on my phone through their app, so if I’m at a library or book store, I can check it.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?:

Definitely, mostly print. I much prefer print books to e-books. There is nothing like actually having the book to read.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?:

I usually check the first 20 books on my TBR list and then, determine which one I like the best. If I really want to read a book, I always prioritize it.

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman has been on my list for a long time and I really want to read it, unfortunately, my library seems to always have it checked out. I do have the audiobook version of it, but I feel the physical copy is much better.

A book that you recently added to your TBR.

This book caught my eye at my library and, with other books that I want checked out, I decided to check it out. I haven’t read it, but plan to within the next week or so. It definitely has an interesting premise combining adventure with mythology.

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover.

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I always thought this had a beautiful cover which was my main reason for buying this book at a book sale. I have not read it and do not plan to for a while. Still, it is nice to look at.

A book on your TBR that you NEVER plan on actually reading.

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The premise seemed interesting, upon reading the summary at this time,  but now I do not really want to read it. It just seems so typical and after reading reviews, it seems boring.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for.

There’s no picture for it, but Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. This is the second book in the Scythe series and I loved the first book. I have pretty high expectations for this sequel.

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read except you.

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

This book seemed to be everywhere last summer. I swear every booktuber was recommending this novel, but it just doesn’t seem to be my type of novel. Still, there may come a time when I do want to read it and the series.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you.

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I have heard nothing but praise for this book from peers and the internet. But I just haven’t found the time to read it. I do own a copy of the book and it sits on my bookshelf, seemingly watching my every move.

A book on your TBR that you’re just dying to read.

I really want to read this book. But it seems to always checked out at my library and I do not want to buy it right now as I am a bit low on money. 😦

The number of books on your Goodreads TBR shelf

144 books and always expanding. It will definitely get bigger as the year progresses.

And that about does it. I had a lot of fun digging into my TBR and just going through what I was interested in early on in my young reading career. I am not going to tag anyone, but feel free to do this tag yourself! Thanks to Noriko, once again.

The Blank Book #4: The Importance of Living

I have never been into motivational or self-esteem books because I felt I have never needed them. While I am not exactly a confident person, I am definitely not someone who devalues my self-worth. I acknowledge my weaknesses, but I also acknowledge my strengths as well. I know who I am, what I can do, and what I like and I do not need a book to spell that out for me. However, I consider myself an open person and when a friend recommends me a book, I always try it out.

While I do still feel the same way about these type of books, The Importance of Living did open my eyes (in a way). I understand how these types of books could really help someone out who may need some encouragement to do something or need a new way of looking at life. This is not really a must read (and I may end up changing it to a Blank Book, edit: I did), more of a change in thinking. Too many times, we become to hesitant to try something new, something we think we may never do. We become closed off to the idea of change or scared of the unknown this idea presents. I admit there are many things that I regret on not doing. Going to school dances, asking that one girl out, etc.  And as I grow older, I cannot help but think of all the missed opportunities that have passed me by. Even if it may end up in failure or an absolute flop, why not? There is no harm in doing so. I’d rather try and fail than not try at all. I can definitely understand how change can be something scary. Change is unknown. And the idea of the unknown is something most of us are scared of which is absolutely understandable. Just like when we were kids scared of the dark, we do not know what is out there shrouded in the black.

The truth is the unknown is scary, it is something that can change our lives for the worse. But for every bad thing that happens, there may be an even better option waiting for you behind that darkness and you will never know if you remain in your bed like a kid. Life works in funny ways. The best things come when you least expect it and sometimes it seems as if your entire world is crumbling before your eyes. Sometimes you just have to hope, sometimes you have to step into that darkness and venture out into the unknown. Sometimes, taking chances leads to the door on the other side.

Champion by Marie Lu Review

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He is a Legend.

She is a Prodigy.

Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.”

With every beginning, there is an end and Champion completes the Legend trilogy with an exciting and fast-paced novel that keeps you reading until the end.

It was extremely satisfying to see June and Day go through their respective arcs and for the most part, it pays off. It was quite refreshing to see June in a more political mindset and as a result, becomes a much more mature person that realizes there is more than one point of view to every situation and also be the badass heroine she is by the end. Day goes through a lot throughout the entire trilogy and probably loses the most. And it shows by this novel. He is battered, bruised, and beaten and it was nice to see him broken down, yet still continue to be the symbol he is to the people. To see him tortured and quite protective of Eden was also quite relatable to those who have a brother or a sibling. I did feel the “thing” that he has hindered his character arc a bit as it feels a bit unnecessary, really serving as a way to serve up drama when the plot needs it to be. I really liked Anden throughout this novel. His struggle to become the leader that he expects himself to be and others want him to be was well done. Tess was not in the novel very much, but she is much better in this novel compared to Prodigy where I felt she did not do much except cause more drama. I found Pascao to be a fun and entertaining character whenever he was included in the scene and complemented Day well.

The plot of the novel is predictable, but still effective. The pace this novel moves at is fantastic. It moves at a fast enough rate to where you cannot stop reading, yet the plot moves along with it. It never feels like there is any filler and every scene serves a purpose which was refreshing and quite interesting even when there is no action happening.  Now let’s talk about the ending. The ending to a series can make or break the entire trilogy and could render previous novels useless. I have heard mixed things about the ending, but I quite liked it. It was nice to see Lu be a bit bold with the ending which I felt wrapped the trilogy quite nicely.

In conclusion, Champion wraps up the Legend trilogy with an exciting and nicely paced novel that leaves fans feeling satisfied.

Rating: Must Buy (For the entire series as well)

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner Review

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“Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia, neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending- one that will rock his life to the core.”

After reading the fantastic Goodbye Days, I decided to go back and read Zentner’s debut, The Serpent King. While I believe the former to be the better novel, The Serpent King presents an emotional and brutal coming of age novel.

I felt all three of the main characters to be quite well done, but I did not connect with one of them as much as I had hoped. Of the three, Dill gets the majority of attention and I found his character arc to be the best of the three. Travis had his own charm and it was awesome to see someone embrace their quirky nature amidst his hostile household. I do wish he had appeared more in the book, but his character arc was nicely done and provides some of the most brutal moments in the book. Lydia felt a bit off and I can’t really put my finger on it. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked her character and she had her moments, but I just couldn’t connect with her. Maybe it was because her character arc felt a bit underdeveloped and the payoff to be sudden or maybe it was because she felt a bit like a plot device or to cause drama. The supporting characters consist mainly of the kids’ parents and were really only there when the plot called for them (except for Mr. Blankenship who provided a nice contrast to the dark portrayal of the other parents). The overly religious family and the father who hates his son for being different have been done before, but I do respect Zentner for portraying them in such a more visceral and unhinged way that I could not help but feel uncomfortable.

The plot was a bit predictable especially with the bleak nature of the book, but much of the emotional moments felt organic just like Goodbye Days. Be warned, I found this book to be quite bleak and even depressing compared to Goodbye Days which had just a bit more hopeful vibe throughout the book which at times can become too much. While I do believe there are people in the world that got through those experiences, the common occurrence of it in the novel sort of saturated it for me making each one punch just a bit less than the last one. Nonetheless, the emotional moments still hit hard and felt organic. I still could not believe just how some of these parents treated their kids and unfortunately, there are people who do this to their children. I am not a religious guy. I do believe in God and I do read the bible. I believe we do have a sort of path in our lives, but we are still free to make our own choices. But sometimes faith is not enough, sometimes you have to do it yourself. Surprisingly, I loved the small town nature of the book and it only helped to make the book more realistic. I have never been to a southern town, but from what I have read and seen, it seems to be quite on point.

The Serpent King proves to be an emotional and even bleaker book than Goodbye Days, but it does not quite surpass the latter. While I did not connect with one of the main characters and the emotional moments can become a bit too much, The Serpent King remains a great coming of age novel containing some great characters, gut-punching emotional moments, and a surprising small town feel.

Rating: Must Buy

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black Review

Centuries of war with aliens threaten the future of human civilization on earth in this gripping, epic science fiction debut…

We never saw them coming.

Entire cities disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but dust and rubble. When an alien race came to make Earth theirs, they brought with them a weapon we had no way to fight, a universe-altering force known as thelemity. It seemed nothing could stop it—until we discovered we could wield the power too.

Five hundred years later, the Earth is locked in a grinding war of attrition. The talented few capable of bending thelemity to their will are trained in elite military academies, destined for the front lines. Those who refused to support the war have been exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth.

But the enemy’s tactics are changing, and Earth’s defenders are about to discover this centuries-old war has only just begun. As a terrible new onslaught looms, heroes will rise from unlikely quarters, and fight back.”

  Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black is a solid sci-fi novel that does enough to shake the familiar sci-fi novel. With some solid characters and an extremely detailed world, Ninth City Burning should satisfy any sci-fi fan.

There are a lot of major characters in this novel and several POV’s that switch throughout the book. It kind of reminds of those big disaster movies like 2012 or Independence Day where it focuses on several different people in order to make the movie much bigger and increase the stakes. For the most part, it succeeds in that retrospect. Each POV depicts a perspective of the war from different parts of society from the workers to the front lines. In my opinion, there were way too many POV’s. As a result, some characters such as Imway or Kizabel (who I felt was just there to spout exposition and explain the technicalities of the technology) feel underdeveloped, which is a shame considering all the main characters were quite fun to read. It was nice to see how the war affected all of the people rather than just saying it. If Black cut some of the POV’s, I would have felt more attached to the other main characters. That’s not to say they were bad, in fact, it’s the opposite. The other main characters were well done and evolve throughout the book, but, as I said before, I was not as attached to them as I thought I would.

Now the world Black creates is fantastic. He goes above and beyond in terms of world building. He puts great detail into this world, often expanding on the world and its lore. Unfortunately, it suffers from telling and not showing. There is too much exposition at times in the book mainly from the main character Kizabel. It seems as if she is only there to explain how things and certain technology works. The plot of the novel seems to be standard, but Black takes it into some nice places that make it stand out from other sci-fi novels. The action was well done, but the final battle felt a bit anticlimactic.

Overall, with some solid characters, a nice plot, and a detailed, fantastic world, Ninth City Burning stands out from the sci-fi crowd.

Rating: Must Buy on sale (Must Buy for sci-fi fans)

 

Liebster Award Nomination

Better late than never! I was nominated by Diary of a Bookfiend or Noriko for this award and am just getting to it now (Sorry for that by the way).

Straight from the actual post:

“What is the Liebster Award? (Excerpt from Michenko’s blog)

“Liebster” is a German word meaning beloved, dearest, sweetheart, or darling.

For bloggers, the Liebster Award is an online recognition given by other bloggers to new bloggers for enjoying or appreciating their work. It highlights up and coming blogs.

Once nominated, a blogger is asked to answer 11 questions provided by the nominating blogger. They are then expected to nominate 11 other favorite new bloggers and come up with a list of 11 new questions for those nominees.

The Rules:

  1. Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs.
  4. Notify those blogs of the nomination.
  5. Give them 11 questions to answer.”

The Questions from Noriko:

1. What inspired you to start blogging?

Honestly, it was kind of in-the-moment type of thing. I was getting into reading some time before and one day, I decided to just make a blog. Several months later and I’m still going strong.

2. Other than blogging, what are your passions in life? (name the top 1).

I love video games! Been playing since I was a little kid and still play quite often as a way to reduce stress and have fun.

3. Suppose you won a huge windfall that would surely last the rest of your life, what would you do with the money?

First, I would buy a house. Then, travel to the place I have always wanted to go. Then when that’s all done, do all the things I’ve always wanted to do like skydiving.

4. What is your favorite place to read?

My bed. Comfortable and little to no distraction (sometimes I have the tv on).

5. Give me your tips to stay awake and keep reading at night when you’re awfully sleepy.

Hm..kinda hard for considering I find it hard to stay awake after 12. I would say keep the lights on and maybe have some action movie in the background or even take an energy drink.

6. Which of the following do you see yourself fit as a reader – having multiple books going at the same time or single-mindedly focusing on one book?

Definitely single-mindedly focusing on one book. When I have things unfinished, I find it hard to focus and it irritates me that I have things unfinished.

7. How would you describe yourself in a few words?

Just an average guy.

8. Are you athletic or good at sports? (because I’m NOT; I’m curious!)

I love basketball and compared to some of my friends, I am good at it.

9. What is your go-to method to vent your stress?

Sitting down in a comfortable chair and playing some video games for a few hours.

10. Tell us the name of the city (or place) you have never visited but desperately want to.

Paris. Just the history and culture of the city is so interesting and awesome.

11. Give me one thing that is on your bucket list (or thing you really want to do in your lifetime).

Go skydiving. It just seems so much fun and terrifying at the same time.

Nominations:

Sorry if you have already been tagged and sorry for those who I tag often. I’m still trying to interact with members in the community.

My Questions:

  1. What is your dream job?
  2. If you could live in any world from a book, where would it be?
  3. If you could hang out with any character from a book or movie, who would it be?
  4. What is your greatest fear?
  5. If you had one day to live, how would you spend it?
  6. Do you have any hobbies outside of blogging?
  7. What is your favorite TV show?
  8. Do you have any pet peeves?
  9. What is the one thing you cannot live without?
  10. Best compliment you have ever received?
  11. What is the one question you hate to answer?

Thanks again to Noriko! I had fun doing this. Please do not feel pressured or obligated to do this.

The Blank Book #3 : So I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming….

And it was fantastic! It exceeded my expectations and that’s coming from someone who placed high expectations on this movie being my most anticipated movie of the year. It is absolutely the best Spider-Man movie since Spider-Man 2 and in my opinion, is on par or even better than Spider-Man 2 which I consider one of the best superhero movies of all time. This is just to get my thoughts out and talk about it. Let’s begin.

Tom Holland is a fantastic Peter Parker/Spider-Man and the best portrayal of that character I have seen. He’s funny, awkward, and when the scene calls for him to be emotional, he delivers (especially that rubble scene). He really sells that he is just a kid who happens to be bit by a radioactive spider and gets superpowers. RDJ Jr. was fantastic as being a mentor to Peter. Unlike the trailers and promotional material suggests, he is not in the movie that much, but when he is, he is great as always. Jon Favreau returns as Happy Hogan and provides some laughs and a big brother-figure as well. Onto Peter’s classmates. Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds was hilarious. He acted the way others would if they figured out their best friend was a superhero, but I definitely could see other getting annoyed by him as it does get a bit too much. Zendaya as Michelle was good for what she was, I just wished she was in it more. Tony Revolori as Flash Thompson was a welcome change for the character. Being a rich snob instead of a jock works for this day and age as a bully, there really is no more of the big and mean meathead’s as bullies nowadays. Laura Harrier as Liz Allen was good, but the romance was standard and I felt should have been more developed. Time for the big bad, the Vulture. Michael Keaton was phenomenal easily one of the best villains in the MCU. He was intimidating, yet you understood why he did it. He is not some bad guy out for revenge, he is just trying to get by. There is a reveal later on in the movie that completely took me off guard, it was sooo good. The scene right after that was perfect, some of the best writing and acting in the entire MCU. It was the first time that I heard an entire theater gasp.

The plot was a bit simplistic, but I loved that it was not very high stakes. There’s no big light in the sky or a villain determined to kill everyone, it was very low-level stuff. Funnily enough, the worst parts of the movie are the Spider-Man parts. The action scenes were well done, but it kind of lacked the wow factor. This movie shines when it focuses on the high school part which, fortunately, was the majority of the movie. Above all, it is just so damn fun. I loved this movie and it is definitely one of the best MCU movies and my favorite movie of the year, so far. I cannot wait for the sequel and Avengers: Infinity War.