Post-Hiatus Mini-Reviews

“Holy heck,” you’re definitely thinking right now. “Liam’s not dead? Quick, unearth the party poppers.”

And it’s true; I’m not dead! What I am is deeply embarrassed by the length of my hiatus.

Let me reassure you that no, it did not take me three months to move. The moving stuff was easy—though reorganizing my books took a few tries before I was satisfied.

bookshelves

While all of you have been honorable and dedicated book bloggers, I’ve been awful: I read several books but took zero notes. Prepare yourselves for the worst mini-reviews you’ve ever read.

Terrible Mini-Reviews of Shame

Mini-review group one

CARRY ON  BY RAINBOW ROWELL :: 2.5 STARS?

It was a quick read, and the magic system was interesting, but the plot and its “twist” were predictable, and its characters weren’t as deep as I’d expected—which resulted in a lackluster gay romance.

BORN AT MIDNIGHT  BY C.C. HUNTER :: 1 STAR?

I could have enjoyed this book, if it were a parody of the YA paranormal romance genre. But it’s not, to my fascination and horror. It doesn’t intend to get (approximately) everything wrong, and yet somehow it manages to do just that. After reading the first half, I skimmed the second. I’d anticipated using this book for my second snarky read-along, but just no. I found absolutely nothing to enjoy about this book, and won’t put myself through a thorough reading of it.

AWOKEN  BY “SERRA ELINSEN” :: 4 STARS?

You guys, this book. I’m a big fan of Lindsay Ellis (Nostalgia Chick), but somehow I missed that she and her buds crowd-sourced a YA paranormal romance parody novel project. This book (and its fake author) are the result, and it’s brilliant. They chronicled the progress of their project on YouTube (yes, I recommend you watch it before reading the book), and read a hilarious excerpt from the book at the launch party.

The Lynburn Legacy trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan

UNSPOKEN  BY SARAH REES BRENNAN :: 4.5 STARS?

This is the third or fourth time I’ve read Unspoken; it’s an old favorite, and continues to hold up to rereading. Great heroine, lovely focus on friendship, interesting and unconventional approach to romance, fascinating mystery, fantastic pacing for the first book in a trilogy. I love it so much, I should probably devote a whole post to it. It’s not perfect, but the fact that I reread it regularly bumps it up that extra half star.

UNTOLD  BY SARAH REES BRENNAN :: 3.5 STARS?

Also a reread for me, in preparation for finally picking up the trilogy finale. A decent continuation of the story, though it’s definitely flawed, and I feel it lacks some of the oomph of Unspoken because the mystery of the first book has been solved. Maybe focuses a bit too much on the characters’ relationships than on the plot, and the bad guys are a little too flat to be realistic.

UNMADE  BY SARAH REES BRENNAN :: 3.5 STARS?

I have some problems with the primary conflict (all those flat bad guys again) and the romantic conclusion, and there was a bit more relationship-angst than I’d have liked, but overall it was a decent finale.

Mini-review group two

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC  BY V.E. SCHWAB :: 3.5 STARS?

This one broke my heart because I was certain it was going to be a solid 4.5 star read. I couldn’t bond with the characters, the action was repetitive (run away, hide, get found, run away…), the characters’ motivations at key points were questionably developed at best, and—worst of all—the igniting action that sets off the entire plot was unforgivably unrealistic. This book has a fatal case of “in order for the entire book to work, these certain characters have to first experience a temporary IQ drop from 120 to 5.” It makes zero sense, and I hate it. But hey, the premise is neat!

AND I DARKEN  BY KIERSTEN WHITE :: 2.5 STARS?

I approached this book with both excitement and despair, because I’ve been tinkering with a female-Vlad-the-Impaler novel since, uh, 2003. How awesome is it that someone else published the idea that I’d been working on for so long? Super awesome! And also super heartbreaking. Fortunately, this story is not too similar to mine, so I don’t feel like I have to scrap my version. Unfortunately, I went into this book thinking it was a stand-alone, and the tedious pace almost killed me. Wish I’d known that it’s a biography, literally starting with the protagonist’s birth and ending just when things become interesting. It felt like a 475-page-long prologue—one I already knew the plot (“plot”) to, because I’m familiar with Vlad’s life story.

INK  BY AMANDA SUN :: DNF

Made it through the first few chapters, but the heroine was one big nope for me.

The Others series by Anne Bishop

MURDER OF CROWS  BY ANNE BISHOP :: 4 STARS?
VISION IN SILVER  BY ANNE BISHOP :: 4 STARS?
MARKED IN FLESH  BY ANNE BISHOP :: 4 STARS?

I loved the first book‘s focus on character development, and the characters continue to be the focus of the next three books in the series—sometimes sacrificing the more exciting external conflict as a result. These are slow-paced books, and I love how the world is slowly (and realistically) imploding under the human/non-human conflict; the author’s attention to realism makes for fascinating reading. Honestly, I binged all three of these books in a row, and I can’t wait to get my greedy hands on the next.

Mini-review group three

THE YOUNG ELITES  BY MARIE LU :: 3.5 STARS?

It’s such a relief to read about a heroine who is realistically scarred (physically and emotionally) by the lifelong abuse she survived. What I loved: everyone’s grey morals; our heroine’s fumbling attempts to navigate the situation she’s found herself in; the conclusion; and the new character we’re introduced to in the epilogue (whom I actually find more interesting and engaging than the heroine). Alas, the secondary characters were flat, and the external conflict wasn’t as compelling as it could’ve been.

THESE SHALLOW GRAVES  BY JENNIFER DONNELLY :: DNF

I set this one aside after about fifty pages. Both the heroine and the prose annoyed me, and my attention kept wandering off to more interesting things. If the book wasn’t nearly five hundred pages long, maybe I could’ve kept going (I’m intrigued by the premise), but eh.

CHALICE  BY ROBING MCKINLEY :: 4 stars?

Chalice is a comfort read that I pick up every year or two, when I need a quiet, simple story with just the lightest touch of romance. McKinley’s prose isn’t for everyone—it might put some of you to sleep—but I find it comfortable and soothing, and the heroine’s inner journey makes it worth every reread.


Kindly keep in mind that all of the above star ratings are estimates based on my unreliable memory of my reaction to each book. (Maybe I should add an extra question mark after each one, to emphasize my embarrassed uncertainty. Um.)

I’ve missed you guys like whoa, and can’t wait to try to figure out what’s been going on in all your lives these last few months via context clues in your upcoming posts. If I missed anything important, or any reviews/discussions you knew I was eagerly anticipating, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d toss their links my way. I wish I could scroll back through all of your blogs, but I haven’t yet figured out the knack of speed-reading while going without sleep for a week straight. Maybe one day?

Love,

Liam


49 thoughts on “Post-Hiatus Mini-Reviews

      1. Haha, I’m thinking of doing some shorter reviews myself now, there’s just so many books that I have yet to review, and they are just getting further and further away from me (it’s been pretty long since I’ve read these books!) and I know it’s due to me not putting anything up, but the pile of books that need to be reviewed just acts as an awesome means to procrastinate. So that will have to end, soon!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Definitely do it! It was such a relief to just get those mini-reviews done; I felt like I accomplished something significant by writing them all. (And who doesn’t love that warm, fuzzy, I’m-a-badass-who-accomplishes-things feeling?) If you ask me as your reader, even just one-sentence reviews would be enjoyable and helpful to read.=)

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hiiiiiiiiii!!!!! Was wondering where you’d gone! But at least your shelves look beautiful 😍 I seriously need to read The Young Elites now!

    I haven’t been the best blogger lol, school is taking over my life not to mention other crazy things. But read my ACOTAR review cause I worked really hard on it (and I never write reviews cause I suck at summarizing how I feel)!!! Don’t have the link cause I’m lazy and about to write a midterm. I need to do my ACOMAF review, mostly because I hated it and I have a lot of opinions, but school and work keep me too busy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello again~!

      GO READ YOUNG ELITES NOW. Don’t even bother reading this reply, because Young Elites will be so much more interesting. Shoo, off with you.

      Shakes a fist at schoolwork. I hope your midterm went well, and that school isn’t sucking too much energy from you. Best of luck!

      Oh man, I need your ACOMAF hate-review in my life. I haven’t read it yet, but you’ve got me super intrigued. Gonna hunt down your ACOTAR review first. Thanks for the tip!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Midterms went well (kind of lol) 🙈 I finished ACOMAF so long ago that I’ve kind of forgotten some of it, but I have notes written down somewhere so I’ll see what I can come up with. Young Elites is high on my tbr – can’t wait to get to it!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad you are back!!! Oh my word, those bookshelves are gorgeous! And with that natural light coming in – wow what a place to read!
    Bummed you didn’t really care for A Darker Shade of Magic. That’s one I keep meaning to read! I think it’s an upcoming Hype or Like choice, so I’ll get to it one day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I won’t lie, I spend a good amount of time in the chairs facing the bookshelves and just soaking them (and the sunlight and whatever I’m reading) in. This is the first time I’ve had a living room large enough to arrange my seating and bookshelves like this, and I can’t get enough.

      Oh, I hope you love ADSoM! I’m in the minuscule minority on the not-a-fan thing, so don’t take my review too much too heart. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Welcoommeeee baaaccckkk. That’s a lot of books! I haven’t done much blogging (and reading) as well because of work but hey, I’m glad you’re back~ And these reviews are a real treat. Ugh, I wish I could make my comeback filled with glorious book reviews but I don’t really have much to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hellooooo! On the one hand, I’m relieved I’m not the only one who hasn’t done much/any blogging recently. On the other, I’m sorry to hear work’s keeping you from doing the fun stuff. My fingers are crossed that things will settle down into a less rigorous routine for you, and you get more downtime.

      Hey now, your returning presence is glorious enough on its own; no need for book reviews to gild that lily.

      Like

  4. So glad you’re not dead!! 😀 We missed you!!
    Congrats on finishing Carry On, it just was not my thing, I stopped at page 100! You managed to read quite a lot, that’s a good thing. Reviews take me so much time I’m always catching up, haha. I can’t wait to read The Young Elites, it’s been on my list for months now.

    Like

    1. Aw, thank you~!

      Is this my cue to make a stupid joke about Carry On and your inability to continue reading it? No? Okay.

      Always catching up is so stressful. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve found my memory for a review is sharpest just after I finish a book; if I start reading a new book before I review the previous one, the review’s quality suffers. Unless the book really pissed me off/excited me, I guess.

      Oh, I hope you do read The Young Elites sometime soon-ish! It’s quite interesting.

      (Aside: OKAY, WORDPRESS, STOP MARKING DONNA’S COMMENTS AS PENDING. Shakes fist.)

      Like

      1. You can always add silly jokes with me 😀 When I started blogging I would not start another book before the last one was reviewed, but I realized it only added to the pressure and I allowed myself to let some time pass before reviewing when the inspiration did not come. I still do it now. After a few days, I decide on the rating based on how well I remember the story and if it has had an impact on me. Also, if if sparked reactions, I need some time to analyze and make sure I write my feelings in a way that makes sense 🙂 (BAD WORDPRESS!!!)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Welcome back, man! There was a moment during your hiatus that I wanted to tweet at you but then I pondered “what are the odds that he’d see this message anyways?” then I was distracted and never did follow up.

    Weren’t you going to do a critique of Born At Midnight? Or was that another paranormal-y book?

    Sad that you ended up not liking A Darker Shade of Magic but maybe Vicious might be better for you to read re: Schwab books (granted, I haven’t read that either…have only heard that it’s the stronger book of hers (?)).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks!

      Smart guy; I still haven’t braved up and returned to Twitter. I can feel it glowering at me from within my bookmarks folder, though. Gonna have to face it sooner or later.

      I was indeed going to critique Born at Midnight! But oh my god it is awful. It’d take either some serious bribing on y’all’s part or some liquor on mine to get me to face that book again. Just wow.

      Think you’ll read Vicious anytime soon? I’m hoping to put it on my TBR for next month.

      Like

  6. Oh my gosh, I have a HORRIBLE habit of NEVER taking notes. Therefore, my reviews are always either incredibly detailed or nonexistent. Usually the latter. AHHHH, DON’T TELL ME ANY OF THESE THINGS. MOST OF THESE ARE HIGH ON MY TBR. NO BAD PRESS. shields eyes
    -Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Taking notes can really disrupt the flow of reading–and when you’re really involved in a book, it’s easy to forget to even try. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who struggles with the note-taking! =D

      Oh man, I hope you didn’t get a peek at anything in my dumb reviews that might’ve spoiled these books for you. Covers your eyes some more. Hope you love all of these books, whenever you get around to them!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. LIAM! This is quite belated, but I’ve missed your presence in the blogosphere. WELCOME BACK! 😀

    First, can I just say I love your shelves so much! I’m usually not a fan of the darker ones, but the brown wood of yours just look so classy. (And total side note but the coffee table you have is really nice as well. I find that glass anything tends to make the room look even more spacious than it really is. Plus, it’s so easy to clean.)

    Also, I’ve read the entire Shadow Falls series! I’m pretty sure I rated the entire original series 2 stars because I sort of hated Kylie’s character. However… the spinoff series has been a great guilty pleasure of mine these last few years (earning a solid 3-ish stars each from me) since Della is the narrator.

    And noooo. That was not supposed to happen with A Darker Shade of Magic. ): Oh well, I guess 3 stars is better than a DNF or lower rating. I did share some of the problems you had though (the characters mostly). The sequel was better for me. Maybe it’ll be for you, too?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you!

      Lighter bookshelves are gorgeous, aren’t they? Especially white ones, I think; they really show off the colors of the books. But I’ve always been a sucker for dark wood with architectural details (moulding, etc). I’m glad you like them!

      And heck yes to the beauty of glass; those are exactly the reasons why I chose that coffee table. Let’s high-five over our good taste. High fives. =D

      You definitely have me intrigued by the Shadow Falls spin-off series! Everyone’s got to have a guilty pleasure, and if you think the spin-off’s worth checking out, I’ll definitely look into it.

      Ugh, I know, I was so disappointed with my response to A Darker Shade of Magic. But knowing you enjoyed the sequel more gives me hope! Thanks for the words of encouragement. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We do have fantastic taste! high fives back
        …haha, to be honest, I don’t think you’ll the Shadow Falls spinoffs that much, Liam. Because it’s really similar to the original series but it focuses on Della’s perspective instead. XD However, I’m still rooting for you to enjoy A Gathering of Shadows. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  8. First, WELCOME BACK! pops party poppers and maybe tosses a book or two past your head, don’t ask me why Second, hello! I’m Anna. It’s a shame that you didn’t like Carry On more! I have it on my shelf, but my expectations of it have lowered since I got it. Welcome back, and have fun making new posts! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you, Anna! Revels in the party poppers.

      Being new to my blog, you might not yet have noticed that I’m a reader of unreasonably high standards. Try not to despair about Carry On; most people love it, so hopefully you will, too! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you’ll get along with it at least a little better than I did. Does so.

      Pleasure to meet you! =D

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Love the look of your bookshelf! It’s very neat and I almost wish I could be there creeping on all the titles.

    I’m currently reading Carry On and am not fully gripped just yet. I wasn’t really planning on picking it up, but I heard Rainbow Rowell speak at a writers festival several months ago and absolutely fell in love with her personality, I kind of want to see what her books are like other than the ones I’ve read! I think going in though I kind of expected it to be predictable and just fun — she said as much during her talk and that it wasn’t really meant to be ground-breaking or anything.

    And I’m so sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy ADSOM or And I Darken! Both were some of my favourite reads from the year so far – I think And I Darken, especially, disappointed people because of the slow pacing, but my own experience was like YAS, CHARACTER STUDY! I had very limited idea of Vlad, though, so I think I didn’t mind that. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you! ^_^

      Oh, I wish I could’ve heard Rowell speak! I had a similar experience recently: I saw E. K. Johnston speak a few weeks ago, and I immediately loved her. So I rushed out and found A Thousand Nights (which I’d been meaning to read anyway), and enjoyed it greatly–and perhaps even more because I liked the author herself so much first. Hopefully your experience with Carry On is a bit like that.

      It’s especially interesting/neat to know that Rowell wrote it knowing it’d be predictable and fun. I might’ve rated it differently if I’d known that going in.

      It’s true, And I Darken is an excellent character study! I did end up buying the book, and I’ll definitely reread it before moving on to the sequel; I’ll probably love it the second time around, when I know I need to just slow down and enjoy each moment (instead of bracing myself for ACTION and IMPALEMENT, which is what I was thirsting for originally).

      I’m glad you loved both ADSOM and AID! Hopefully we can gush together about their sequels. 😀

      Like

      1. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed A Thousand Nights! I’ve read that too and found it a bit too slow for my liking, but I appreciate the story as a whole.

        And yeah – I believe she mentioned that it was just a pure love story the way fanfiction are, i.e. you put two characters in a situation with the intention of making them get together, haha. I LOVE fanfiction and that description was perfect for me. 😛

        I think the whole blurb of Lada being the Impaler kind of made people assume that it’s going to be lots of killing! For some reason I didn’t have the same impression, which might be why I just fell into the story and didn’t really care that it wasn’t all that action-packed.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Let me first express (internally) my extreme shelf-envy with the picture you have presented…Now that that’s done, I can say (type haha) that I wholly agree with your mini-review of The Young Elites. The conflict of the heroine is very intriguing and I’m excited for book two – although I’ve read disappointing reviews for book three.

    It’s a shame that Ink was no good because I was considering reading it, but I really really hate annoying characters. AND I DARKEN sounds interesting, however, I don’t like linear non-fiction…I’d much rather read non-fiction in the style of fiction – does that make any sense? Anyways, your book idea sounds awesome (especially since I had an unhealthy obsession with Vlad the Impaler for awhile due to something on the History channel…), so whenever you decide to write it you have an interested reader ready to buy 😉

    I’m currently reading A Gathering of Shadows and I can already tell it’s not going to surpass the splendor of A Darker Shade of Magic, for me. It’s alright, though. I’m glad I read this because now I can lower my hopeful expectations for the remainder of the novel.
    
Love this huge mini-review post, although short, they’re informative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Inspiring shelf-envy has been my life goal since about age three, so it’s fair to say I’ve officially reached peak life happiness. 😄

      Oh man, I’m so worried about these negative reviews for the third Young Elites book. I’ve seen a few star ratings, but haven’t dared to read the reviews themselves. Sweatdrop.

      I’ll go out on a limb and say And I Darken isn’t for you–and holy crap, how awesome would it be to find a well-written, fiction-style account of Vlad’s reign? We could be fankids over it together. It’d be glorious.

      I’m looking forward to your review of AGoS! I’m about to get my hands on Vicious, and absolutely cannot wait.

      Aw, thank you so much! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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