Monday, December 18, 2017

Review: A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen


A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too.

Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.

What I Liked:

I'd heard great things about this book, and while I'm not a YA contemporary fan (definitely not a tough-issue contemporary person), I was curious enough to want to know more about it. This book broke my heart in many ways, but it was really and truly inspiring and hopeful. It wasn't an easy read but it was a meaningful one, and I'm glad I took a chance on it. 

This book begins when Spencer is 13 years old, and his new neighbors are moving in. That is when he meets Hope. He likes Hope immediately; she is nice, fun, and she doesn't think he is a weirdo because of his Tourette Syndrome tics and sniffs. But his older brother Dean also thinks Hope is cool. As the years go on, Spencer and Hope are friends... Dean and Hope are a couple... and then they're not... Spencer and Jayla are a couple... Hope and Mikey are a couple... and so life goes. This book is a story of broken hearts and painful sibling relationships, or loss and life, and misunderstandings and lost time. It ends with Spencer being 19 years old, and thus closes the story after six years.

Most of the story is narrated by Spencer, though occasional chapters are letters from Hope to her older sister Janie, who travels to third-world countries to do humanitarian work (if I remember correctly). Spencer is a different kind of male protagonist, primarily because he has Tourette Syndrome (and you don't find a lot of YA books featuring characters with Tourette Syndrome - definitely not them being protagonists). Spencer is an intelligent, clever, logical kid who has his quirks and eccentricities but really is a good kid. He has the worst luck, falling for his best friend. His best friend Hope, who ends up dating his big brother Dean.

I have to say, I didn't always like Hope. She didn't seem to think things through, and she definitely wasn't a big fan of communication, from what I could see from her side of her friendship with Spencer. I didn't think she was good for Spencer at all, whether as a friend, or what he wanted (her as his girlfriend). I began to like her more as the story went on, but I was totally rooting for Spencer to not end up with her. 

You can imagine how messy this book is. Messy isn't always bad because life really is messy. Relationships are messy. Nothing is ever black-and-white, like we'd hope. The relationships in this book are very muddled. Spencer has been in love with Hope for forever. Hope has been interested in Spencer for forever but... she gets with Dean for stupid reasons. And then she gets with Mikey after a bad breakup with Dean. Spencer starts dating a girl named Jayla, and I shipped them so hard. I was so hoping they would be endgame. But like I said... messy.

So I wasn't really a fan of the romance (except Spencer and Jayla, but even then...). The relationships I DID like were the slow development of Spencer's relationship with his dad; Spencer's great relationship with his stepmom Pam; Spencer's friendship with Paul, and eventually Traven. I liked seeing these more positive, healthy relationships blossom, because goodness knows none of the romantic relationships were healthy. Not even Spencer and Jayla's, and I had been shipping them. But some of the family relationships and friend relationships were really beautiful to see grow and unfold.

I personally thought the author did a great job with Tourette Syndrome representation. I knew a few students in primary and secondary school that had Tourette, but I don't really know much of the specifics of the syndrome. To me it seemed like Allen did her research and really understand the depth of the syndrome and how it affected life for the character, and the surrounding characters. 

And of course, the taxonomy illustrations at the beginning of each chapter (most chapters, anyway) were really cool. They definitely tied everything together! I would occasionally skip one (because I was engrossed in the story) but I always came back to read that taxonomy that I skipped because they were interesting, and mostly foreshadowed that chapter's events.

This story was really hard to read, because it's heartbreaking (especially in terms of Spencer/Hope, but also for other reasons). But I'm glad I gave it a chance. It's worth the read and makes you think about things like relationships, and loss.

What I Did Not Like:

My personal opinion: I thought Hope was kind of a toxic character, especially for Spencer. She seemed to be a negative influence in his life and didn't act like much of a friend. She started dating Dean and I thought that should have been the end of her and Spencer's friendship. Spencer didn't take it well (Hope and Dean dating), and I think he should have cut the friendship at that point. Hope was not a very supportive friend and didn't do a good job of being Spencer's friend. I hated when she walled herself off from Spencer and how much time they wasted not talking to each other, because of Hope's hardheadedness. Anyway, even if Spencer hadn't had feelings for Hope, I still would have wanted him to distance himself from her. She was toxic for so many reasons, before and after the big loss in her family.

In all honesty I was so hoping Spencer and Hope would not end up together. I thought Spencer and his girlfriend Jayla were great together! (Until Jayla did something awful.) I definitely didn't want Spencer and Hope together. So that was disappointing. 

Would I Recommend It:

I do and don't recommend this book. If you're a YA contemporary fan, especially if you're a tough-issue contemporary fan, then I DO recommend this book. You'll probably love it - it's very well-written and so thought-provoking. But if you're not a YA contemporary person? Don't even bother considering reading it. It's not a non-contemporary-fan's type of read, for sure!

Rating:

3 stars. I am glad I gave this book a chance. It made me think and reflect on my own relationships, past and present. But it wasn't a book that I loved or totally enjoyed. This type of contemporary really isn't for me but I'd hoped that I would like it. But I think it wasn't for me!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Science in Fiction (#35): Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston


Welcome to this month's Science in Fiction feature! Science in Fiction is a meme I created to showcase the wonderful aspects of science in Young Adult fiction novels. For more information and previous feature, check out the "Science in Fiction" tag!

This month, I'm featuring Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston!


One of the most interesting aspects of the premise of Heart of Iron is that one of the protagonists is a sentient android called D09 (or Di). You don't really see a robot as a protagonist in many books... the only other YA sci-fi book I can think of that comes close is Illuminae, but even that doesn't really count because AIDAN isn't really a protagonist. In any case, Di being an android and being a main character really fascinated me. 

So today, I'm going to talk about robots!

I may have discussed robots previously, but there have been some new developments in recent times, concerning robots. Arguably, robots have been present in the form of machinery, but human-like robots are a thing of the future. 

Having just watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi yesterday (squee! so good), I'm going to share a few of my favorite robots/droids...

Counterparts
Source: Wikia

Source: Wikia

Source: Wikia

Honestly? The droids steal the show in every movie. BB-8 is an actual LEGEND in The Last Jedi. Also, if you haven't seen The Last Jedi yet, please do so! It's incredible. And very easy to spoil. Don't get spoiled! I went on Day Two only because I didn't want to get spoiled. Well, and also because I was so excited about the movie.

But returning to the topic on hand - human-like robots, being a thing of the future. The future may be now. About two months ago, Saudi Arabia made a robot a citizen; Sophia became the world's first AI-citizen. Not familiar with Sophia? Well...

Image result for first robot citizen
Source: Wikipedia

Sophia was developed by a company called Hanson Robotics. She is the first social humanoid robot to receive citizenship by any country. She uses artificial intelligence and can carry normal conversations. 

You can hear her speak at the Future Investment Initiative Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Sophia wants a baby, stating that starting a family is an important thing. 

While I don't think Sophia or humanoid robots in general are ready to take over the world, I do think this massive development in robotic technology is somewhat troubling. We've all heard about Hollywood movies like I, Robot, or even Star Wars, with heavy involvement of robots. With robots on the rise, human labor could become obsolete. Technological advancements are wonderful, but at what do we go too far?

I think it's neat that, like in Heart of Iron, there is a droid that is treated like a real person and could potentially have its own life. (Of course, when you read Heart of Iron, you'll learn certain things about Di that clearly differentiate him from Sophia.) But I can't say I'm on board with the rise of humanoid robots.

What are your thoughts of humanoid robots? Droids in general? And as a sidenote, has anyone else seen The Last Jedi? No spoilers but tell me your thoughts!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#260)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!


So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, December 10th to Saturday, December 16th?


(all links to Goodreads are provided!)


In the mail:


Grisha World pin

Thank you, HarperCollins and Jessica! The pin is a collector's one for the Grisha trilogy, which I got via trade. Sinless is unsolicited from the pub. Both are the only mail items I received this week!


From NetGalley:

  


Thank you, St. Martin's Griffin and Tor Teen! I actually got both of these a few weeks ago but completely forgot to add them to their appropriate STS post. I've read their predecessors and I'm excited to read both!


Reviews from this week:

  
(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)


Favorite Instagram post from this week:

None this week! Whoops. :D


It was a busy week that flew by! I felt good about the work I did. Also, I saw #ManBunGuy on Thursday! It was uneventful but it was nice to see him. Today (Saturday), I'm going to see the new Star Wars movie! I cannot wait! Have you seen it yet? No spoilers!

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017 Annual End Of Year Survey


The 8th Annual End of Year Survey is hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner! This is my first year participating and I'm excited to do so. I'm a little early so some of my responses will be projected ones. I'll have my own yearly wrap-up posted on December 31st. Thanks for checking out my post!

2017 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books You Read: 145 (projected to be 151)
Number of Re-Reads: I don't track these! There would be A LOT though.
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

Best in Books:

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?
(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2017 release vs. backlist)

YA Fantasy: Avenged by Amy Tintera + The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
YA Contemporary: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Adult Contemporary Romance: Beautiful Lawman by Sophie Jordan
Adult Historical Romance: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock - it had so much potential!

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson - I really was not exciting to love this book, but I did!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

A Gentleman Never Surrenders by Lauren Smith

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Series started -- Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Sequel -- Avenged by Amy Tintera
Series ender -- The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Katana Collins (Ex-Con, Outlaw, Enforcer)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer; I'm not a YA contemporary fan, and definitely not a tough-issue contemporary fan. But this book was AMAZING!

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Adult -- Beautiful Lawman by Sophie Jordan 
YA -- Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Raphael from Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt. I adore him!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. The woman is an amazing storyteller!

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

This is a tough one for me because "life-changing" doesn't pop up often... but probably Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer!

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

"Takuminarsivalliajuq, she thought. An Inuit word to describe a person whom becomes more beautiful over time."

- The Savage Dawn by Melissa Grey

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?
How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

Shortest: Goodreads isn't telling me the shortest? But it's probably an adult romance novella.

Longest: Freedom's Slave by Heather Demetrios (608 pages)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

 The Empress by S.J. Kincaid. The ending had me reeling!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

 Amani and Jin from Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Ranmaru and Okami from Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh. What an adorable bromance!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Crowe from Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The world of Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton. The ending!

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. I didn't love the book, but it is one-of-a-kind.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock. I'm mad that the book wasn't great and I'm mad that I didn't like it!


Your Blogging/Bookish Life:

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

There were quite a few! Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf makes the cut.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?


3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?


4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?


5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?


6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

My reading level significantly dropped since graduating from college in May. I've been busy with working full-time and it's honestly more draining and time-consuming than I thought it would be. I have a window of about four hours when I come home from work, in which I can do stuff... mostly I just want to sleep.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

By pageviews -- my January giveaway!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?


9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I went to the The Ivy Bookshop for the first time this year! It's a little out of my way but I've been back several times since then. =)

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I only had one official goal which was 150 books, and I will be meeting that goal!


 Looking Ahead:

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore. Whoops!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I honestly am not looking forward to many debuts in 2018! Likely because I don't know of many. But I'm extremely excited about Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake, which I have from Harper/Edelweiss!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (which I have!). Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh (which I do not have).

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Be more active on Instagram! I created on in July and it started off well and now I'm just lazy.

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

Meet Cute anthology! I also read Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston and while I didn't love it, I have a feeling many will.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#255): The Forbidden Heir by M.J. Scott


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from The Forbidden Heir by M.J. Scott!


He pulled her to him, bent to kiss her. She gave herself over to the kiss, wanting to stop thinking.

Cameron kissed her slowly, each touch of his lips on hers considered, as though he was intent on memorizing the shape of her mouth. The warmth of him flowed over her, through her, making her feel half-drunk with it. She started to tug at the buttons of his shirt, breathing in the scent of soap and clean skin. Of Cameron.

- eARC, 74%




I love Cameron and Sophie! They are a a lovely pair and they have such great chemistry. This series has been great so far and I can't wait to read more!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (#259): Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week, I'm featuring:


Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine
Book Four of The Great Library series
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 3, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making...if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.




If you haven't read this series, you're missing out! There will be five books total and I'm so excited to read this fourth one. July seems so far away but it will be here before we know it!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

Hello friends! Happy Tuesday! Today I'm posting a brand-new giveaway, in celebration of there being twelve days until Christmas. Technically it's thirteen days but I'm posting this early, don't mind me. So, what can you win?

I'm giving away a YA book that was published in each month of the year of 2017! Twelve books total, all YA, all nice and shiny. These are a mix of finished paperbacks, finished hardcovers, and ARCs. 

This giveaway is open internationally (*gulp*). I'm ending this on the 31st, 11:59 PM EST. (Yes, not on Christmas, I know!) I'm also going to post this on Twitter, if you'd like more entries! I'll post on Twitter sometime tomorrow evening.

Good luck!