Thursday, January 23, 2020

Audiobook Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Title: The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) 
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 625
Add to Goodreads

Reviews for book 1 & book 2

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

When I jumped back into the Arc of a Scythe series a few weeks ago I didn't anticipate blowing through the last two books so quickly! Thunderhead was only a 3.5 star read for me, seeming a bit too long and drawn out, but the ending left me needing to know what happened next. I snagged the audiobook of the final installment and finished it in just a couple days.

The Toll follows separate timelines - the one that continues after Rowan and Citra's disappearance as well as the current timeline three years later. Immediately I was happy to see Faraday back in the spotlight after wondering for most of Thunderhead where he'd gone. His journey in particular was fascinating and heartbreaking and cemented him as probably my favorite character in this series. I also loved Grayson's story! Seeing him as the head of a religion he never really believed was definitely interesting.

Of course, Citra and Rowan needed an ending I did enjoy seeing the rest of their story unfold. I was absolutely on the edge of my seat to see how they would end up from the moment they were found at the start of the book! It would have been nice to see them together a bit more, though. Honestly, they aren't my favorite characters, but I was happy to see Citra continue to fight for what was best for the Scythedom, humanity, and herself. Her character growth has certainly been amazing.

Despite enjoying the characters' arcs all come to their conclusions, I still felt that this book, like the one before it, was just too long. I know most people adored it, but I wish the story had been a tiny bit tighter. I'm not sure why there are even more main characters being introduced in the final book of the series but that was one of the issues I had. Grayson is a great character, but the I didn't need the Tonist plot line to be quite so involved. I loved the way everything ended, but the journey meandered a little too much.

I can't say much more without spoilers, but I definitely enjoyed this series! I did have some issues with The Toll, but overall I was happy with how it wrapped up the series. If you've been searching for a good dystopian series and haven't picked this up yet, you definitely should!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #269: Recent additions

Today's Topic: 
The Ten Most Recent
Additions to My Bookshelf

Happy Tuesday! This topic was a super easy one since all I had to do was take a glance back through my weekly recap posts! Recently I've added a lot more adult fantasy to my shelves. Although I haven't actually read many of these yet, I can't WAIT to get to Prince of Fools and Master of Sorrows! Have you read any of them? 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Weekly Recap: 1/12 - 1/18


Hi everyone! This week has surprisingly been less busy for me. This year I've decided to make a work schedule and actually stick to it, which can be really difficult when you work from home. So far I've totally stuck to it and it has left me with weekends WIDE OPEN! What even do people do with so much free time?? I've been filling my time reading weird horror novellas and short stories. Is anyone, ANYONE into weird fiction? Do you have any weird horror recs? Because I NEED them! The Events at Poroth Farm was recommended to me but I didn't find it spooky enough to fit the brief. 

The strangest thing happened to me this week. Beginning last Friday afternoon I found myself randomly getting a spike in temperature of around 99 degrees F, while I usually run closer to 97.5. This was leaving me feeling fatigued and drained and then I would wake up sweating at night! THREE separate (older) women said maybe it's early menopause??? Like, I'm barely past my 20s! Alas, it seems to have been my body fighting something off because as of this Friday I'm back to normal. No more high temp, no more sweating. I have no idea what my body was fighting against, but hurray for that, I guess! Needless to say I broke out the vitamin C. Through all of that I didn't realize I was somehow sick and continued 10k training. Whoops!

In terrible news, I found out I absolutely have to get my wisdom teeth removed. I can't push it off anymore and I'm honestly dreading it so much. I have three tiny dogs to keep alive and I really don't want to deal with that while miserable. I am, however, getting the deepest sedation offered. Any tips for things I should buy or prepare before the day?






The topic was bookish discoveries for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday audiobook review of Thunderhead
On Saturday I talked about the audiobook debate


I'm linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, January 18, 2020

The great audiobook debate - Do they count?

I see this discussion come up on Twitter and Facebook every so often and it seems to be making a comeback. Certain people believe that audiobooks don't "count," especially towards reading goals like the Goodreads Challenge. The argument I see most often is that listening is fundamentally different from reading words on a page - but is it really?

To answer this question I took to the interwebs, searching for opinions and studies on this topic. By and large it seems like actual research points to physical copies and audiobooks being the same to our brains. Meanwhile, readers on social media constantly bicker over whether listening to audiobooks is "real" reading.

One study in 2016 found that there was no significant difference between audiobooks, e-books, or using both at once. The study concluded that "comparable comprehension and retention of text occur regardless of the modality of presentation."

Another study in 2019 showed similar results. According to these researchers, the same cognitive and emotional areas of the brain were stimulated regardless of whether the subject was reading a physical copy or listening to an audiobook. You can even check out the brain maps for yourself!

Personally, I listen to A LOT of audiobooks. I listen while I clean, while I work, drive, and shower. If there's no one else around and I'm not reading or watching TV, you can safely bet I'm listening to a book. And yes, you better believe they count towards my Goodreads goal! Trust me, if I'd had access to Hoopla in high school I would've been listening to my required reading!

I'm not sure why some people get so bent out of shape over audiobooks in place of reading physical copies of books. Both get the information into our brains and both let us fangirl over stories together, so why the superiority complex?

Do you think audiobooks count as reading?
Do count audiobooks towards your GR goal?
Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Audiobook Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Title: Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 504
Add to Goodreads

Review for book 1

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

I read Scythe back in 2018 and really enjoyed it, even if I did find it a bit slow at times. I loved the characters and found the world of Scythes and the Thunderhead fascinating. Still, I wasn't super eager to dive back into this world because it really is just a lot. Finally, I got my hands on the audiobook and decided to give it a go... and somehow finished it in three days.

This book picks back up with Rowan, now Scythe Lucifer, ending corrupt scythes. Citra, along with Scythe Curie are worried about the New Order and try everything they can to figure out how to defeat them and their corruption. Also enter a new character, Grayson, who is set on a path unlike any he'd ever expected working in his own way to maintain order with the Thunderhead.

I loved the addition of Grayson. I enjoyed seeing him embrace every role he was thrown into. The Thunderhead also really grew on me, reminding me a bit of AIDEN from The Illuminae Files. The character growth in Citra and Rowan was fantastic - I love their relationship, doomed as it is. The New Order scythes were terrifying antagonists. The corruption of their power was scary to see and I can't imagine how that will look in the next book, but I can't wait to find out!

One thing I do really enjoy about this series is the politics of it. I'm sure it's no mistake that certain themes and situations seem to resonate so much. There are times that this book is downright scary in how easily I could see things reflected in our current environment. That's one of my favorite things about dystopia, even if it is a little terrifying.

All that being said, this book was A LOT. There is so much going on in this story that it's hard to keep up with at times. The Scythes, the Tonists, the New Order, the different Scythe factions, multiple islands and secrets and new characters - I can see why this book was over 500 pages. I do enjoy this series so much, but I did find it a bit overwhelming at times. And again, like the first book, I somehow found myself bored in places. If I had tried to read this instead of listening it probably would have taken me weeks to finish.

If you enjoyed Scythe, you'll definitely like this one too! I'm really hoping that now that all the pieces are in play, The Toll will be a bit more fast paced and less dense, even though it's quite a bit longer. I definitely can't wait to see how Citra and Rowan's story ends!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday #268: Bookish Discoveries

Today's Topic: 
Bookish Discoveries I Made In 2019

Happy Tuesday! This is definitely one of those open ended topics I dread every year, but hurray for me! I actually came up with things I discovered last year! Well, not so much discovered as discovered that I liked them because none of these are secrets. XD 

BOOKSLEEVES - Seriously, I had NEVER used a booksleeve before 2019. Like, I knew they existed, I just never thought I needed one. It turns out they are super useful!

ADULT FANTASY - Okay yes, I knew this existed too, but I discovered that I LIKE it! I haven't really reviewed many because I haven't gotten to them, but my TBR is filling up. Any recs?

TBR CARTS - Let's just go ahead and acknowledge that I've probably already known most of these existed, I guess. I just didn't realize their usefulness! And honestly the carts are just cute.

BOOK PAINTING - I LOVE IT! I have no artistic ability whatsoever but surprise! Painting pages takes zero ability as long as you put enough weight on the pages. It's so relaxing. I just have to try not to paint everything...

READING PARTIES - It only really happened the once, but I found out that reading with another person who is also reading is FUN! I shared a room with a friend for ALA this year and honestly sharing with another introvert is the only way to go.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.