Reading Habits: Cleaning Up My Act, ‘Series’ Edition

I saw a fantastic post at The Daily Prophecy by Mel who is attempting at getting some of the series she began reading finally finished. Too often I am spirited away by the idea of reading a new book by a debut author and forgetting that once again, I am starting a new series. Cut to one year later when the second book finally comes out and I’ve forgotten everything about the first one…

Since starting this blog, I’ve calculated that I’ve approximately:

Series I want to continue: 35
Series I don’t want to continue:
Series I’m not sure about yet: 15

And that’s not even taking into account all the series I WANT to read, re-read or will inevitably begin over the course of this year alone!

I decided to challenge myself and select 5 (or 10) series that I want to finish before the end of 2014.

5 by 2015:

The Violet Eden Chapters
by Jessica Shirvington 
(need to read the final 2)
The Katerina Trilogy
by Robin Bridges
(3 books, re-read the first)
The Cahill Witch Chronicles
by Jessica Spotswood
(3 books, re-read the first)
Avery of Kazan series (Healer)
by Maria V Snyder
(3 books, re-read the first)
The Grisha Trilogy
by Leigh Bardugo
(3 books, re-read the first)

And if I get through those by some miracle (and can stay disciplined) I will move on to…

10 by 2015:

The Nightshade Series
by Andrea Cremer
(3 books, re-read the first)
The Lunar Chronicles
by Marissa Meyer
(3 books, re-read the first)
Vampire Academy series
by Richelle Mead
(1 book left!)
The Night Creatures series
by Marianne de Pierres
(1 book left!)
The Iron Fey series
by Julie Kagawa
(1 book left!)

I have made a page logging all of my series over here. If you’d like to try and ‘save’ a series from the limbo of uncertainty, please let me know in the comments!

Discussion: ‘DNF’ reviews and why you won’t find them here

While it is purely a personal choice, I don’t post ‘Did Not Finish’ (DNF) reviews on this blog. In fact, I don’t even classify a DNF book as being ‘read’ by myself nor do I mark it as such on my Goodreads shelves. Quite simply, if I ‘did not finish’ a book, I did not ‘read’ it.

I wanted to explain my thoughts on this, as I see a lot of DNF reviews on other blogs.

In my mind, if I did not read the entire book, I cannot properly or honestly review it. I find it unfair to the author. If I decide that I don’t want to finish a book, I’ll simply put it aside and pick another. I’ll throw my two cents in if I see a discussion about the book, but that’s probably as far as I’ll go.

There are a lot of factors that come into it and I understand all of them being a fellow reader and blogger. Most often a ‘DNF’ book will make itself known a few chapters in. Sometimes the writing-style is not to your tastes or perhaps it is too similar to a book you’ve already read. Quite often I find that I go into a book and find that it’s actually targeted for a younger audience – sometimes I can deal with it, but sometimes I can’t.

I do not think it is then fair to go and write a review about a book where you only read a handful of chapters. What if the book had improved immensely? Sure, it may not have made up for the dud start but wouldn’t it make for a more interesting review if you had stuck it out?

In essence, a review is a culmination of your thoughts about a finished piece of work. Would you review an excerpt of a book?

On the flipside, some readers decide not to finish a book when they’re almost near the end. I struggle a bit more to understand this – you’re almost at the finish line, surely you can stick out a few more chapters for the sake of an honest review?

Still, to each their own.

What bugs me the most about ‘DNF’ reviews, however, is that they can become ‘lazy reviews’. I feel that bloggers – particularly newer ones – write these reviews in order to quickly add more posts to their blog. Quantity isn’t necessarily quality, remember.

DNFWith that being said, some ‘DNF’ reviews are actually quite insightful and interesting. I actually enjoy having a peek at what made the book so unfinishable.

As I mentioned, it is purely a personal choice whether or not you decide to include them in your own blog. I firmly believe, however, that if you are going to go ahead and post a ‘DNF’ review, you must state it as such – don’t claim to have read the entire thing.

Some books I DNF:
‘Leviathan’ by Scott Westerfeld (targeted to a younger audience)
‘Ingo’ by Helen Dunmore (targeted to a younger audience)
‘Wicked Lovely’ by Melissa Marr
‘The Juliet Club’ by Suzanne Harper

What are your thoughts on ‘Did Not Finish’ (DNF) reviews? Do you post them on your blog?

Review: “Rebel Angels,” Libba Bray

Review: “Rebel Angels,” Libba BrayRebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #2)
Written by Libba Bray
Published August, 2005 by Simon & Schuster
576 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Witches
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Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain...

The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

Rebel Angels has always held a place in my heart as my favourite of the ‘Gemma Doyle’ trilogy. I was so eager to re-read this book and knew that it wouldn’t disappoint the second (or third!) time around. If you thought A Great & Terrible Beauty couldn’t get any better, prepare to be proven wrong.

Buddy re-reading with Hanna @ Luminous Words
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Feature & Follow Friday #16

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs! This week’s featured blog is The Sarcastic Palmtree.

Question of the Week:
Where would be your favorite destination spot if you could join the Spring Break festivities?

We don’t have ‘Spring Break’ here in Australia, but if we’re talking a generic ‘Easter break’ period, I’d pick somewhere nice near the beach. We’re cooling down into winter now, and I’d love to go to one of my favourite beaches to soak up the last bits of remaining sun! My favourite beaches are Palm Beach on the Gold Coast and Shelly Beach at Manly in Sydney!

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Waiting on Wednesday XXV, Sacrifice

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Breaking the Spine and serves to showcase those pesky books that aren’t released yet, but that we’re eagerly awaiting! This week, my WoW is…

Title: Sacrifice (The Elementals #5)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published: September 30, 2014 by Allen & Unwin
Add to Shelf? Goodreads

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick is used to pressure. He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it out for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way. His girlfriend, Hannah, gets that. She’s got a kid of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could end her life without a moment’s notice.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s “bad luck.” Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.

They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. There will be blood on the ground tonight…

Yessss *squeals* I am so excited for this one – but I really don’t want the ‘Elementals’ series to end. I’ve come to love these characters so much and it will be a tearful farewell when the last page is read. If you haven’t read this series yet, what are you waiting for? I guarantee you’ll be just as fangirly as me.

Feel free to comment with your own WOW and I’ll be sure to check them out!

If you’re here via the hop, why not enter my International competition?

Review: “A Great & Terrible Beauty,” Libba Bray

Review: “A Great & Terrible Beauty,” Libba BrayA Great & Terrible Beauty (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy #1)
Written by Libba Bray
Published December, 2003 by Simon & Schuster
403 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Witches
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It's 1895 and, after the death of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped from the she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true. Gemma finds he reception a chilly one.

She's not completely alone, though... she's being followed by a mysterious young man, sent to warn her to close her mind against the visions.

It's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds as she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy, timeless group called The Order. Her destiny awaits... if only Gemma can believe in it.

It’s been six years since my last venture into the ‘Gemma Doyle Trilogy’ and I couldn’t wait to re-read the series from a reviewers point of view. Years on, the first installment still holds an exceptional amount of magic. With it’s complex characters and relationships, poignant writing and mixed sense of wonder and danger, A Great & Terrible Beauty survives the test of time and firmly holds on to its position as a personal favourite.

Buddy re-reading with Hanna @ Luminous Words
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Review: “Pushing the Limits,” Katie McGarry

I received this book for free from Harlequin Teen Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Pushing the Limits,” Katie McGarryPushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1)
Written by Katie McGarry
Published July, 2012 by Harlequin Teen
376 pages
Provided by Harlequin Teen Australia
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Loss & Grief
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No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.

But when Noah Hutchins - the smoking hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket--explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

I am completely in the minority on disliking this 2012 debut by Katie McGarry. I realise this and unfortunately I can’t change it, no matter how much I wish I could have fallen in love with this book like so many other readers. I didn’t like the characters or the predictable flow of events – and I couldn’t bring myself to invest in the romance between Echo and Noah.

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Review: “Working Stiff,” Rachel Caine

Review: “Working Stiff,” Rachel CaineWorking Stiff (Revivalist #1)
Written by Rachel Caine
Published July, 2011 by Penguin
306 pages
Genres: Adult, Sci-Fi, Zombies
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Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment - until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated--literally, and with extreme prejudice.

With the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem - pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave - a real working stiff.

She'd be better off dead...

Anything by Rachel Caine is pretty much guaranteed to be a great read – Working Stiff was no exception to that rule. The sad fact was that the story just wasn’t for me. What I imagined was going to be a book laden heavy with supernatural elements really turned out to be a tale of corporate espionage.

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Review: “Tides,” Betsy Cornwell

Review: “Tides,” Betsy CornwellTides (Tides #1)
Written by Betsy Cornwell
Published June, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
304 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Selkies
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When high-school senior Noah Gallagher and his adopted teenage sister, Lo, go to live with their grandmother in her island cottage for the summer, they don’t expect much in the way of adventure.

Noah has landed a marine biology internship, and Lo wants to draw and paint, perhaps even to vanquish her struggles with bulimia. But then things take a dramatic turn for them both when Noah mistakenly tries to save a mysterious girl from drowning.

Full of great Selkie mythology, Tides was a promising read which also dared to tackle a lot of different issues such as same-sex relationships, bulimia and torture. While it was a book I was able to quickly read, I couldn’t find myself becoming attached to the main characters (or their relationship) and was constantly jarred by the changing of narrators.

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Review: “Deep Blue,” Jennifer Donnelly

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Deep Blue,” Jennifer DonnellyDeep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1)
Written by Jennifer Donnelly
Published May, 2014 by Disney Hyperion
320 pages
Provided by Netgalley
Genres: Fantasy, Mermaids, Mythology
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Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil.

Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother.

Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

Deep Blue marks the first book in the ‘Waterfire Saga’. Though I had a few problems getting into the story, I was able to immensely enjoy the world both Disney and Jennifer Donnelly have endeavoured to create. Rich in fantasy and originality, this book is one of the better mermaid reads on offer.

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