16.1.18

Top Ten Tuesday: Our top book and book-adjacent resolutions for 2018

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl



CJ's Selections

So, I almost wrote 2017. Also my main resolution is...to actually read again? (Yes, these covers are all representative of the things, just in twisty ways cause my brain is a labyrinth.)
1.Catch up on the backlist - I even made a Goodreads shelf for this one, at the gentle insistence of @rtthebookowl who is wise in all things. Because there are SO many books on my TBR that I've had on there for approximately an eon (you'll get to see more specifics in a couple weeks for TTT) and it's just kind of embarrassing. Even though I deleted about 600 books off my TBR recently, it's still...way too long. So 2018 is going to be the year of playing catch-up!

2.Finish those series I've left twisting in the wind - Remember Brodi Ashton's trilogy, starting with Everneath? What about Victoria Schwab's The Archived? And I'm sure you all know Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. What else do they have in common? These are all series I started years ago...and never got around to finishing. I think it's part OMG NEW BOOKS MUST KEEP UP -itis and part IF I FINISH THEM THEY'LL BE OVER. Whatever the cause, this year I'm actually going to warp up some of those abandoned babies!

3.Crosspost all those reviews I have hanging out there - So 2017 was not my best year for blogging. I kind of went on an unexpected hiatus, and I'm just now getting around to posting again. Gently. But I also feel choked up with guilt every time I think of how much longer it's been since I've properly crossposted my reviews to Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads. This year, it's time to slay the anxiety monster and get to copying and pasting!

4.Chill out more about blogging and reviewing - Besides depression and all that jazz, one of the biggest things that burnt me out on blogging was this crushing perfectionism that made it nearly impossible for me to even START a post. Because what if it wasn't long enough or pretty enough!? Well, screw that. This year, I'm going to embrace the frenetic word vomiter that is my brain and just WRITE. Because blogging is supposed to be FUN.

5.Chat more with other people about books - Yeah, I'm on twitter a lot (more than I should be considering how many anxiety spirals it's caused) but sometimes I feel like I'm just talking to myself. The whole point of getting on there in the first place was to engage with other readers about BOOKS. So I'm going to do that more this year, and worry less about my "image" and "popularity" and "shut up everyone thinks you're weird."




Whitley's Selections

I have a love/hate relationship with resolutions. I tend to make all of them at once and then, of course, fail at all of them at once. Trying to pick managebale resolutions is something I'm inching towards... Oh, hey, I guess that's another resolution: get better at resolutions! Hah.

 Also I couldn't decide on appropriate pictures, so enjoy my top five picks from 2017 instead.


1.Read more books than twitter - I spend way too much time on twitter, it's really become a dangerous time sink for me. And while I don't want to disconnect from that community, I do want to allocate my time better. I can easily spend hours on twitter and then realize it's the end of the day and I've run out of time to read. Those should be reversed...

I, er, have not been keeping to this so far. But I have been better, at least.

2.Keep track of my books -I've been using this spreadsheet by Crini to track books that I've obtained and read. I tried to use it as well last year, but, well, I'm me. I love this spreadsheet though, it's got an option for almost everything. It's only two weeks into the year, but I haven't fallen off the wagon yet!

3.Use the library more - I used the library so little last year that they actually deleted my account and I didn't notice. (They...weren't supposed to, I don't think. It's okay, I got a new one.) I chalk that up to the fact that I had a steady, well-paying job for the first time in...a decade? (Sorry, I just realized that as I was typing, what is my life.) So I went a little overboard, and now I have entire series of books that I own but haven't yet cracked a spine on. I like having the spare cash to support authors, but it turns out...um, a decade of not having extra money makes me bad at spending it and maybe I should have made sure I liked those hardcovers before I dropped much money on them.

But the library is awesome and even lets me make lists on my account, which for some reason satisfies my hoarding impulse without having to give up money OR space. Who knew.

4.Attend ALA MW - Well, this'll be an easy one to meet, I already have my ticket and room lined up. Can't wait to get to Denver!

5.Booksta...blog? - I didn't get very far into my instagram before, erm, well, I'm me. *shrug* But I really want to get back into photography, and including book photography. I don't know what I want to do with it, because instagram annoys me, but I do know I want to get better.

Your turn! Any resolutions, bookish or otherwise, in 2018?



11.1.18

ARC Review: This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

review         book



Book Covertitle: This Mortal Coil
author: Emily Suvada
pages: 425
format: Paperback ARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5 (from hated to loved) or 8.5/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of the show Dark Angel, cyberpunk stuff like The Matrix and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, and other really clever techy sci-fi. Or probably Resident Evil. 
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

in depth


  • If you didn't catch my slew of Twitter gushing, then I'll summarize for you: this book is astounding. Suvada combines a brutal Walking Dead-style dystopia with the cyber-glam of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies and the sci-fi ruthlessness of Dark Angel (old TV show, extra points if you've seen it). In short? Breathtaking. 

  • I have very little to complain about it, so I'll get it out of the way. It'd be too spoilery to go into detail, but suffice to say there's a plot twist regarding the romance that I think didn't get enough emotional impact. It's like . . . okay, we're just cool with this now? Suvada brought it back nicely, but I wavered for a minute there. 

  • Alright, complaints over. The rest of this book is sheer breakneck explosiveness (no pun intended). Catarina Agatta lives in a world where you can change virtually anything about yourself with a panel on your wrist, and where a digital virus has left millions of people flesh-hungry time bombs ready to explode into blood clouds. Suvada renders this post-apocalyptic landscape with a loving brutality that will chill you. 

  • I almost wish there were more encounters with the virus zombies, but this is no World War Z. The plot that really packs a punch surrounds a quasi-governmental organization that stole Cat's dad--and the antidote for the deadliest virus the world has ever seen. Enter adorable super-soldier Cole and we're in business. Cat and Cole are pretty archetypal--brilliant cold girl genius and secretly softie hardcore fighter boy--but with enough dimension to feel real anyway.  

  • I can't really prepare you for the mindf*ck that is this plot. First off, Suvada has a command of the science that makes the near-future world utterly believable; and I know enough about genetics to find the technobabble fascinating but not enough to find accuracy holes, so it was a happy medium. 

  • Second off, forget what you think you know. Suvada lures you into trap after trap with her storytelling, and pulls the rug out from under you again and again and again. The more Cat learns about the virus, the more she realizes the dark underbelly of the government, her own father, and even herself. The series of reveals towards the end is an explosive daisy chain of OMGs that sets up what I know will be a mind-blowing sequel. 

  • If you're looking for a book you'll have to white-knuckle it through, that packs an emotional punch and is also just damn thrilling, that's just realistic enough to chill, then get this book. It's an under-hyped gem that blows better-known dystopians like Divergent out of the freaking ocean. 

in a sentence

This Mortal Coil is a brutal masterpiece of storytelling; its characters have emotional staying power and its plot will keep you guessing until the last period. 


rating         



will i read this author again?  Yes! I would read the sequel today. 
will i continue the series?  I might go catatonic from suspense. 



Note: I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.






7.1.18

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books we were totally going to read in 2017 ... and didn't

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish



CJ's Selections

The second half of 2017 was like book desert for me... 
1.The Belles / Dhonielle Clayton - I've been really psyched for this book and wanted to read it ages ago, but obviously that never happened. The current plan is to read it before February. I'm at least reading, which is a contrast to most of the second half of 2017, where I was dealing with way too much head crap to actually focus on a book. But I definitely don't want to miss out on this lush fantasy by one of the coolest diversity advocates in the biz. I was also fortunate to meet her this year, and she's insanely cool and sweet. If her book is half as charming, it'll be a smash.

2.Saints and Misfits / S.K. Ali - Another book that got swallowed in the black hole of June to December. When I'm having a lot of anxiety and crap, I become even more of a mood reader than I already am. And for some reason, contemporary just wasn't my jam for the last bit of last year. I basically only read fantasy. But I literally preordered this book because I was so excited for a happy, vibrant Muslim girl story, so it's getting read this year!

3.The Speaker / Traci Chee - I didn't have an ARC this time, so I had to wait to get a finished copy like the rest of the peasantry. (Totally kidding, loves.) Unfortunately, by the time it came out, I was so buried in books that I felt guilty spending money if I wasn't going to read it right away. I'm trying to be less anal about my reading this year, so even if my TBR is cray, I'll still be putting this high on my list. THE READER was one of my favorites (so underrated! read it!) of the last couple years, so I'm kinda dying to know what happens next.

4.City of Brass / S.A. Chakraborty - As soon as I'm ready to dive into a dense fantasy, this one is my top choice. Even though my friend is totally going to kill me for still not reading NAME OF THE WIND. I swear I'll get to it! But this was another preorder, because everything about the non-Western-inspired high fantasy world screamed something I'll love. Plus it's been a long time since I've read a truly adult fantasy (not counting highly crossover stuff like A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC), so I'd like to get back into the genre. It's such a different feel than YA.

5.Scythe / Neil Shusterman - Dark comedy about death? Um, it's like it was yanked out of my brain. Of course, again, I didn't have an ARC, so this one got pushed aside in favor of review books that I was supposed to be reading on time. Not that it happened a lot last year because YAY PERSONAL LIFE FALLING APART, but the intent was there. Oh well. I'm running out of ARCs for this year, so it's time to catch up on backlist titles. Including ones that aren't even really backlist yet because they literally came out a year ago.




Whitley's Selections

Honestly, I feel bad that a lot of the books on my best of list haven't had full reviews by me. It's been A Year. -_-

1.Forest of a Thousand Lanterns / Julie C. Dao - Xifeng grew up poor but with great beauty and a prophesy that she would one day become empress.

2.Want / Cindy Pon -Zhao lives in a futuristic society where pollution is so bad that the wealthy have taken to using full-body suits when they go out to avoid the death and illness that plagues everyone else. After a kidnapping scheme nets him and his group a large payout, they use the money to buy Zhao his own suit and fancy apartment so he can masquerade as an elite himself, all while plotting on how to take out Jin Corporation, the company that makes the suits. The summary is a bit misleading by implying that Jin causes all the pollution, but that doesn't actually feature much in the book. I loved the setting for this one, and how disturbingly believable the dystopian aspects were. Zhao's band of revolutionary/criminal friends were a great ensemble, and their plan to take out Jin was smart and something I thought pretty workable. (vs so many books which give complicated issues one punch-able bad guy to beat.)

3.The Epic Crush of Genie Lo / F.C. Lee - A high school student named Genie Lo thinks the only thing she has to worry about is dealing with her school woes, until she runs into a boy named Quinten who insists that he knows her. Turns out he's the Monkey King, and she's a reincarnation of a party from his past. (Spoilers for which one.) Together both of them have to track down demons that are terrorizing San Francisco and deal with the disinterested gods of heaven. The story is excellent, full of both action and humor, and I loved the character of Genie. Hot-headed girls are my jam. Her relationships with her mother and father, both so different and so complicated, were wonderful, too. The author says he's currently working on a sequel, and I can't wait!

4.Mask of Shadows / Linsey Miller - Sal is a thief who accidentally lands on a way to try out of the Right Hand, a group of assassins and general-doers-of-things that serve the queen of their realm. Sal, being one of the few survivors of a country wiped out in a recent war, sees it as an opportunity for revenge on those who let their people burn. Most of the book follows a deadly contest between the competitors, who have to be the last one surviving in order to win. Sal takes 'side quests' to try and find those responsible for their country's death while also trying to survive the competition. I loved Sal in this book, and their bouts of introspection, their ingenuity when it came to the competition, and (even though it played a small part) their almost worship-like relationship with the Queen. There was a lot of set up for a larger-scope plot in later books, which I very much look forward to.

5.The Marrow Thieves / Cherie Dimaline - In a dystopian future where most people have lost the ability to dream (among other ecological disasters), the Native people of North America are the only ones left with that ability. And they're being murdered and their bodies harvested for the dreams in their marrow. The story follows Frenchie, a teen who took to the woods at a young age to avoid recruiters and found a family there among others on the run. Most of the book details their attempts to survive in the wild while avoiding capture. The language in this book is beautiful and evocative, and the exploration of the relationships between Frenchie and his found-family is excellent. There's a lot of direct correlations between the 'current' dystopia and the generational trauma of the characters that makes the whole thing uncomfortably believable. The plot is a bit slow, but at the same time, it's not a plot-centric book and doesn't try to be.

#.Honorable Mention: The City of Brass / S.A. Chakraborty - This one misses the 'official' list only because I'm less than halfway through it as of the writing of this post. (Hey, it's 19 hours long on audiobook.) And that's kind of a downer on 'best lists' when you're still reading right up until NYE. But so far this is a great fantasy, rich with political machinations (my favorite kind!) and detailed worldbuilding.