Monday, January 25, 2016

Recent Favorites: January 2016

Sometimes there are books that I read and think I'll be able to talk about in depth and with substance... And then I remember my favorite books make those things impossible.

I've been trying to write a full review of A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, but I can't. I just can't, because all I can think to say is basically gushing about my feelings (Look, I get that's what a review is, to an extent, but in this case, I'm just going "AHHHHH!"). And I've read a few others recently that I've liked a lot but haven't been able to completely wrap my mind around yet, so I thought I'd just give a little update on some of my recent favorites.

*Spoilers will be marked, but proceed with caution*

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Oh my goodness. So, I've been putting off reading this for years, being scared of large books with a large character list and all. But one of my best friends got me this book for Christmas and I said I'd start it for her. One day and 400 pages later, I was completely into the series. Here's how I know: I love looking up fan art and fan theories about books I've read, which sometimes leads me into spoiler territory, but that's usually not a problem for me. This time, I'm actively avoiding spoilers. I loved this story so much that I need to catch up on the series before I do any of the social medias--even Goodreads (well, I gave it a five-star rating, but that's it, I swear).

If you don't know what this is about, here's a quick overview: In a fantasy world (with qualities similar to those of medieval society), different lords and ladies begin to make plays for the throne to rule the Seven Kingdoms. 

As you know, my thoughts about this one go something like incomprehensible shrieking. I was so scared to get attached to anyone because I know George R.R. Martin is notorious for killing off characters, but I couldn't help it. In the first thirty pages, I was already attached to at least three (Jon Snow especially. That scene when they find the direwolves? Fantastic). I'll admit I would skip ahead to see who the next chapter would be about, and if it was about Daenerys, I'd keep reading. If it was Ned, I'd probably stop. But that's mainly because of all the politics involved in his chapters.

I absolutely loved the world of this book. Sometimes first books in series get bogged down with details and describing all the intricacies of the political systems, but this one didn't. Or, if it did, I can't wait to read the next one and find out what it's like when it's not bogged down.

All right, last thing I'll say about this one (for now). Don't be scared of the many, many characters. Most of them constantly get introduced as "the brother of" or "the daughter of" another character. And, there are handy dandy family trees at the back of the book.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Um. So this is my first Colleen Hoover book, and right after finishing it, I added all of her others to my TBR. She writes New Adult novels, if I understand correctly, so I think I was a little shy of that. But this book was so great. I read it all in one day. Forgive me if this is more of a gush than actual sentences; the feelings are still fresh.

This is about a girl, Fallon, and a boy, Ben, who meet on November 9th when Ben pretends to be Fallon's boyfriend for a few minutes. They start to like each other, but Fallon's moving, so they decide to meet up the next year on November 9th, and each November 9th for five years--with no contact in between.

First: Yes, very, very cliché story. Also, so much insta-love (To be fair, in a particularly fantastic scene, Fallon, who reads a lot of romance novels, tells Ben she hates insta-love. He says: "Fallon, I think we might already be in trouble if that's one of your least favorite things.") But I loved it. I was so invested in these characters and so happy with the happy sunshine-y way their story was going that when Colleen Hoover wrote in a huge plot twist, I was completely shocked. Usually I can see plot twists coming. When they do come out of the blue like that, I tend to be really enjoying the book, so I'm not thinking, "Oh, look out for that car, you're gonna get T-boned" (Which is not the twist in this book, so calm down).

And I got to the part where things should be wrapping up and there was still so much conflict, and I just didn't want it to end. I want to see everything after that last page. I mean, I can pretty much guess what would happen if the story continued, but my mind can't write gooey love stories like Colleen Hoover can.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to picking up more from this author soon.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
I read Zevin's Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac last year, and it was okay. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't the best book I'd ever read. But I did like the writing style, and when I saw the synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. A.J. owns a little bookshop on an island, and when a "mysterious package" is left at the bookstore, his life changes.

Books about books are usually good, and this one was no exception. Each chapter starts with a recommendation from A.J., and each chapter includes several discussions about books (I especially love the police officer's opinions on crime novels).

This had several spots where this book could have ended, but kept going. And I wasn't mad about that. Even though that would have stopped some sadness from happening, I really didn't want this book to end. I'd have liked to spend a lot more time with these characters on this island.

As you can tell, I'm finding some good books already this year. I hope the year continues like this! Happy reading.

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