ARC Review: The Waking Dreamer by J.E. Alexander

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 343
Format: ARC ebook
Publication Date: September 22, 2013

Summary: Seventeen-year-old orphan Emmett Brennan remembers nothing of his past—not the boiler room in which his needle-ravaged mother gave birth to him, nor the Druids who tenderly delivered him. He can’t remember the cabal-summoned Revenant that clawed itself from shadow to hunt him, or why his mystical midwives hid him from the necromantic creature. Approaching adulthood, he is unaware of the dark forces that still search for him or the mysterious sentinels who secretly protect him, but on the eve of his eighteenth birthday that will change. The Revenants will find him. Only the young woman from his dreams can help him confront all he was once made to forget. Together, they will brave the nightmarish landscape Emmett’s waking world will soon become.

Review: Writing this review has felt a bit like ripping a bandaid off. I’ve been putting it off but it’s not going to be any less painful so I might as well do it and get it over with. “I didn’t like this book” doesn’t even scrape the surface of my vast, shimmering disappointment of this book. The first portion was really good. Emmett, the main character, was interesting and full of pop culture references that made connecting the strange, supernatural subworld to our real world a bit easier. The first scene is of his birth and it’s so well-written that it blew my mind. However, as soon as he gets confronted with his first enemy, things go sharply downhill.

The main problem with this book for me was the ridiculous pacing (or lack thereof) and the gratuitous violence. I’m not opposed to violence in books and I do find it necessary sometimes. I have no problem reading it and I enjoy a well-written and well-planned action scene, no matter how jolting it is. This book was nonstop fighting, death, and gore. The entire plot is based around violence, but not to any sort of point. There’s supposed to be some deeper story about Emmett’s connection to this community that fights against these supernatural creatures but that is completely washed over by poorly-timed fight scenes. Each fight scene lapses into short, badly-written “development scenes” that only ever result in the characters finding themselves in a new fight scene. The moments between don’t build the characters or explain anything. Besides being annoyed and a little grossed out by all the violence, I was confused. It was an unpleasant combination and I almost didn’t finish the book.

Character development was also largely nonexistent. One of the main characters (supposedly) is Amala and without giving anything away, she is not developed at all in the story but yet, it’s clear that by the end, we are supposed to like her. I don’t buy into characters like that. The author has to work to make the audience enjoy or hate or feel something about the character and Alexander only really did that with Emmett (and even that fell apart) and Kieran, the only other character who has something of a personality that is unfortunately ultimately subjugated beneath the violence. **MINOR SPOILER** Most of the characters the reader is introduced to are immediately killed or disappear as soon as they are introduced. Their deaths are disgusting but not emotional, leaving the reader feel a sense of pointlessness to any of the new characters who get introduced. **END SPOILER**

Overall, this book completely missed the mark for me. Not one thing from the plot to the characters were well-developed and at the end, I just felt disappointed, confused, and extremely disturbed by all the unnecessary violence.

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My Absence: Moving & My New Shelves

I have been gone for a while. It would be an understatement to say that I’ve been busy. Between moving, family obligations, and summer school exams, I’ve had little time to read and even less time to blog. Fortunately, I discovered Audible and I’ve listened to two audiobooks while moving, ready for review which I will soon have time to write. For now, I’d like to show off my new shelves because I have a tiny bit more room to spread out.

Most of my childhood/high school books remain at my parents’ house on my old 9-foot bookshelf in my old room. They will probably remain there until I get a house of my own. The majority of the books pictured below have been accrued in college or meant enough to me to lug the 400 miles down to college. Here are the new shelves!

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This shelf is part of the built-in desk I’ve claimed. It’s all of my ~favorite~ books (and those I haven’t read yet, I’m expecting to become my favorites). I alphabetized them by author’s last name because I’ve always wanted a shelf like that and never had the space.

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This is my book “storage” where I keep books that are a little less pretty, less important to me, or I haven’t read. I wish I could put them all on display but I simply don’t have the room so this strange little printer cube that I rescued from the dumpster one day serves as my apartment literary storage. It’s two rows deep with House of Leaves (because it’s so huge) and cook books on top.

I know it may not look like much to those of you with beautiful shelves (and more display room) but the fact that I have my favorite books in my room, on display in a place I see often is a treasure to me because I haven’t had that since I lived with my parents. I have to buy the vast majority of my books on Kindle because I simply don’t have the space to spare.

Hope you enjoyed this brief, personal post and I’ll be back to my normal blogging shortly.

A-Z Bookish Survey

I figure since I’m fairly new on the bookish blogging landscape, I thought I could do a survey. I love surveys and it would be fun to do, plus I’d love to see other bloggers do this so copy pasta away.

Author you’ve read the most books from:
Probably Chuck Palahniuk. When I was in high school, I was in love with his writing and I read everything I could get my hands on. I was also really into Panic! at the Disco so when I found out he was an inspiration for some of their songs, I had to read his stuff.

Best Sequel Ever:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Besides the first book, it’s my favorite of the series and I love it.

Currently Reading:
“Librarian” by Brian Fence. It’s wonderful.

Drink of Choice While Reading:
Coffee, coffee, coffee. Hence the title of this blog. I’m also a big fan of tea (hot and iced). My boyfriend works at a local fair trade, organic coffee roaster so I get free coffee and tea and it is wonderful.

E-reader or Physical Book?
Both, I have preferences for some books. Longer books I enjoy more in physical form but I can’t explain why.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:
Ronald Weasley. I’m pretty much dating him now.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:
“Slide” by Jill Hathaway, shot in the dark and I loved it.

Hidden Gem Book:
“A Gracious Plenty” by Sheri Reynolds. It’s an unassuming, yet magical book.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:
My parents, brother, and I used to read Harry Potter when they first came out. We read aloud in the living room and went in a circle. It was marvelous and made me really love reading.

Just Finished:
“The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
I’m not really into mysteries but I also feel like I haven’t read any good ones. Also, historical fiction. I’ve never been a history fan, but again maybe I just haven’t read any good ones.

Longest Book You’ve Read:
“Storm of Swords” by GRR Martin at 1200+ pages but I also read the Brothers Karamozov on my Kindle and it didn’t have page numbers but it certainly felt as long.

Major book hangover because of:
“Insurgent” definitely gave me a bit of a book hangover. I didn’t read anything for a while after that.

Number of Bookcases You Own:
Well, I’m in the process of moving so it’s hard to say. I still have a very large one at my parent’s house filled with my high school books. I have a big box packed right now that used to be on a bookshelf in my current apartment, and then I have an old printer cabinet filled with all my favorites. But my Kindle is my main source of books since college.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell. I’ve read it so many times because the first time I read it, I was about 8 or 9.

Preferred Place To Read:
Outside if I can but I end up reading the most on the bus.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:
“Not all who wander are lost.” -JRR Tolkien

Reading Regret:
Not being able to spend enough time reading.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):
The Lord of the Rings (haven’t read 2 or 3)

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:
Cloud Atlas, The Charmed Sphere, Harry Potter (all of them)

Unapologetic Fangirl For:
Fantasy and sci-fi

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:
The rest of A Song of Ice and Fire

Worst Bookish Habit:
Buying books faster than I can read them.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
As I mentioned, most of my books are in a big giant box so I’m going to do this with my Kindle and pick the 27th book: Les Mis! I haven’t read it yet, hence why it’s so far back in my Kindle.

Your latest book purchase:
“Born in Flames”  by Candace Knoebel

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):
Between work and school, I haven’t had time to stay up late. I think Cloud Atlas probably. It was so long, it kept me up many nights.

Tuesday Top 10: Top 10 Favorite Books of ALL TIME

As I’m new to the blogging world, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce my reading preferences with a top ten list of my favorite books. Some of these are my favorites because of sentimental value, but they’re all good reads that I would recommend. I reread them often and their covers are worn but it only makes me love them more. I’m currently working on a video to expand on why I love these books.

  1. Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
  2. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
  3. Animal Farm George Orwell
  4. Rant Chuck Palahniuk
  5. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
  6. A Storm of Swords George RR Martin
  7. Ender’s Game Orson Scott Card
  8. Howl’s Moving Castle Diana Wynne Jones
  9. Cloud Atlas David Mitchell
  10. The Charmed Sphere Catherine Asaro

Honorable Mentions: Breakfast at Tiffany’s Truman Capote, The Silver Linings Playbook Matthew Quick, The Whale Rider Witi Ihimaera, After the Snow S.D. Crockett, Catching Fire Suzanne Collins, Watership Down Richard Adams, A Gracious Plenty Sheri Reynolds

There are so many honorable mentions because it’s impossible to narrow good books down to ten. Let me know if you enjoy any of these books and if you can think of any recommendations based on them.

Weekend Brew: Placing Literature

placing literature

Check out this cool, new literary tool that was launched last month: Placing Literature is a map where you can plot and find real-world settings in literature. It’s already grown enormously thanks to user submissions. Find out if there are any books with locations near you or plot your favorite locations yourself if they’re not already listed. This could also be a great resource for self-published authors trying to promote their books. Add the locations you use in your book and let readers find you.

placing literature 2If you go on vacation, use the map to plot a literary journey and check in to places along the way. You can experience the real world like your favorite characters and experience first-hand the settings and places they go. Next time I need a vacation, I plan on using Placing Literature to plot out a road trip of literary adventure and hit all my favorite books’ settings.

Find Placing Literature on Facebook and WordPress.