Today, for their Road Trip Wednesday question for bloggers, YA Highway asked: What's the best book you've read this January?
Oooh, tough one when you look at everything I read last month...
I'm going to discount all the comics, which narrows it down to Pandemonium, Seraphina, and Teeth. Seraphina and Teeth are my clear favourites, but if I had to pick one... it'd be Seraphina.
It's just such a fun, refreshing YA fantasy, (whereas Teeth was a very dark read and quite ruthless with the emotions). My review should be up tomorrow!
Book: Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium, Book #2
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult/Sci Fi/Dystopian/Romance
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and fame.
I love that title, even though I always feel like it needs an exclamation. Pandemonium! It's such a great word:
I've had a complicated relationship so far with Lauren Oliver. While I loved her debut, "Before I Fall", and the concept of "Delirium", the actual book left me flat due to it's confusing ending. I also get grumpy about the UK cover redesigns, though "Pandemonium" and upcoming final book "Requiem" have much nicer covers and I've actually grown to like them and how they fit in with the "Before I Fall" cover.
Thankfully, "Pandemonium" was full of pleasant surprises. It's a much tighter-written and ambitious book than "Delirium" was, alternating between the past and the present as Lena adjusts to a hard, scraping-for-survival life in the unregulated Wilds outside the city ('before') and sneaks into New York City to tail the son of the president of Deliria-Free America, an organisation that viciously promotes the idea that love is a disease and the only safe humans are those 'cured' by a lobotomy-like procedure ('after').
Lena is a stronger person, even as she deals with her grief over "Delirium"'s events realistically, and she's a much more enjoyable character to follow this time round. Oliver also expands the world laid out in the previous novel, taken it from a sketched-out dystopia into a realistic future society with a lot of moral grey areas.
The scenery descriptions are nicely done, though occasionally repetitive (snow seems to crackle a lot in the Wilds), and the new characters introduced are varied and feel like they have a lot of depth to them. The two story lines also alternated nicely, with very little opportunity for confusion, up until the merging point which felt a bit unclearly defined.
I'm very happy with how "Pandemonium" turned out. While a lot of middle trilogy books can be weak and plotless, "Pandemonium" is miles stronger than "Delirium" and restored my faith in Lauren Oliver's writing. I'll be looking forward to reading and reviewing "Requiem" closer to its March release date.
I bought a copy of this novel myself for personal reading, but I'll note that Hodder & Stoughton have previously provided me with review copies of "Delirium" and "Requiem" in exchange for honest reviews.
Because I like numbers! And I like lists!
My plans for 2013 have a heavy focus on personal creativity, then personal culture, and then being more social/getting involved in the writing community. It's a fairly involved plan so we'll see how it goes, though I achieved much more last year than I ever expected to.
New Years Resolutions
- Waste less time aimlessly browsing the internet.
- Read more.
- Write more.
- Have fun and spend more time outdoors
- Finish two first drafts. At the moment, these look likely to be the REBEL AGAINST HEAVEN sequel and the 'flooded Britain' WIP, but we'll see.
- Edit and revise the 'Girls Who Fix Giant Robots' first draft. Planning to do this in February or in March. After that, the beta readers will get a taste!
- Bonus points if I manage to write some short stories.
- Get 12 illustrations done throughout the year.
- Post more sketchbook and work in progress images.
- Update the site's design. I'm thinking of using a theme that focusses more on my books, a writing portfolio of sorts.
- Read 35 books (focussing on the for review pile, the personal to-read pile, comics and some non-fiction).
- Read 10 short stories (collections count as '1' because I'm cruel).
- Finish 5 games. (Currently planning: Persona 4, Shadow of Colossus, Ocarina of Time, El Shaddai and Tales of Vesperia)
- Watch a few seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and catch up with Season 8 of Supernatural.
- Go to Stornoway with the other half (he's never been) in February.
- Go to Cyprus (for a family wedding).
- Attend Strange Chemisty's YA Con (13/14th July in Birmingham if all goes to plan)
- Attend World Fantasy Con in Brighton (31st October - 3rd November in Brighton), most likely in the company of the lovely Laura Lam.
- Frown at the sight of my bank account.
Some other bits and pieces I have planned:
- Focus less on blog book reviews and more on personal, writing, and art posts.
The last few years of book reviews were originally started as an exercise in critical thinking, to force me to dissect what I like and don't like about books. These days, with drama levels rising over whether authors can also review and the role of book bloggers, it's stopped being a fun learning experience and turned into an added workload. I don't like finishing a book and going 'ugh now I need to put together a review', so I'll be slowing down on the reviews.
- Do more THINGS. Get LIFE EXPERIENCES. This one is an utter pain to do because... how do you add more excitement to your life? I dunno! But I guess I'll try to find things. The conventions should help, especially because I'll get to do some travelling and meet lots of writer friends offline.
- 'Pay it back' to the art community a bit by getting commissions from artists I love. I love doing this, but I need to be careful because good art costs.
Today, for their Road Trip Wednesday question for bloggers, YA Highway asked: About how many books do you read in a year? Do you want to read more? Or, less?
This year, I set myself a Goodreads Reading Challenge to read 35 books. I've already passed that, despite a year that's been (sometimes) hectic and (always) busy.
Looking at the responses from my blog friends, though, this achievement feels a bit low. Next year, I'm raising the bar to 50 books! And according to my big 2013 to-do list, which I'll be posting soon, next year will be focussing on the for review pile, the personal to-read pile, comics, short stories and some non-fiction.
I can't believe this year is almost over. It's been a good one, all things considered and weighed up. I'm hoping 2013 goes just as well as this year, and I can't wait to see what surprises it brings.