Twenty Questions Book Tag

Well, this is exciting. This is officially my first book tag, which I have half-inched off the lovely Lauren at Books are Only the Beginning. Prepare yourself for an insight into my soul …

How many books is too many books in a series?

This is probably the question I’ve pondered over the longest. I think it really depends. Some series I’m happy to finish after three books, some I’m happy to keep reading through twelve or fifteen or fifty books. Erin Hunter’s Warrior series, for example, just goes on and on and on (I currently have about thirty books), and I’m very happy to keep consuming every volume. But then, something like The Hunger Games is perfect as a trilogy. I guess it’s the same as films vs. TV series. Some stories/worlds lend themselves to lengthy serialisation, while others do best as fewer feature-length instalments. So, in effect, I can’t give you a good answer to this question. One answer does not fit all!

How do you feel about cliffhangers?

I bloody hate them! Unless, of course, I can move straight on to the next book. I’m like that with TV series too. I can’t watch them “live” on TV, one episode a week. I have to wait until the entire run has finished, buy the box set and binge my way through the lot. If a book is part of a series, I tend to start in after a few of the books have come out, but I rarely read straight through as series, one book consecutively after another, because I’m desperate to resolve cliffhangers in other series!

Hardback or paperback?

Oh, how I’d love to afford to buy all my books in hardback, but alas. Most of my books are paperback, but if I read a paperback series and really like it, I might also buy the hardbacks. For example, I have His Dark Materials in both the original paperbacks I read back in the day and the beautiful twentieth anniversary hardback editions. What really peeves me, however, is when a series starts out just paperback, then the publisher realises they can make more money by releasing a hardback first for the rest of the series, but because I have all the previous books in paperback, I can’t just switch to hardback and have half paperback, half hardback. That would upset my shelves. So I end up having to wait six months to a year to get the paperback version. Very tedious.

Favourite book?

I haven’t found it yet.

Least favourite book?

Yikes. I don’t think I have one. I didn’t get on with Watership Down, not because of the dying rabbits, but I actually found it really dull. It probably has its merits. But I don’t think I’ve actually hated a book so much as to declare it my least favourite. It’s more a case of books being forgettable, so if I do have a least favourite, I’ve probably forgotten it.

Love triangles, yes or no?

NOOOOOOO! I’m not a fan of romance anyway. I’m more of an action and mystery girl, with more interest is worlds and parameters than relationships, particularly romantic ones. I want to change the world for everyone, not just two people (or three in a triangle). Plus, I think it’s really quite dangerous to portray unrealistic romantic scenarios to young women and girls. It encourages them to reach for the unreachable and place excessive importance on romantic involvement when there is a lot more to life and their potential in other areas of it. And don’t forget, somebody in that triangle is going to get hurt, and should we really be encouraging girls to aspire to damage others?

The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

Snow Like Ashes. I did actually finish this one book, but it is part of a series, and there’s no way I’m reading any more. I still devote time to wondering how this utterly unoriginal and dully written twaddle got a publishing deal (and such a nice cover!). You can read my review of Snow Like Ashes here. I don’t think I have ever not finished a book … If I have, I don’t remember them. I like to give everything a fair go, and I like to read to the end to give a book a fair trial, but I will abandon a series if the first book doesn’t do it for me.

A book you’re currently reading?

I’m currently reading Echoes by Laura Tisdall. Turns out she grew up just down the road from where I live! I’m about a third of the way through, and so far I’m hooked. I’m really relating to the main character, who has problems with over-sensitivity, like me, and the story is about the hackersphere and mysteriously vanishing hackers. It’s wonderfully refreshing!

Last book you recommended to someone?

Hmmm. Well, the last book I reviewed was Rebel of the Sands, and I would recommend reading that. Alas, I don’t have many (or any) friends who also read the same kind of books I do, so I don’t do much recommending out loud.

Oldest book you’ve read?

Well, I was made to read Beowulf when I was about eleven in school. Didn’t follow it at all, totally confused the whole way through. This is the problem with introducing “the classics” to children too young. If it’s inaccessible and they don’t relate, you risk turning them off the classics forever. I think that’s what happened to me.

Newest book you’ve read?

Probably La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman actually. There are very few books that I would actually rush out and buy on release day, but I had that one pre-ordered. I’ve just realised I haven’t done a review of it. Oops!

Favourite author?

I haven’t found him/her yet. There are some authors I like better than others, but I haven’t found myself to be devoted enough to anyone to call them my favourite. But that’s the problem with me, I’m always looking, probably for the impossible. I feel like my theme song is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2. I am never satisfied, which I know is a bad thing, but that’s the way I’m built.

Buying books or borrowing books?

Oh, buying. Definitely, buying. I am extremely particular about the condition of my books. It makes me physically sick to see broken spines, bent covers and dog ears, and it can often feel like no one else seems to share this reverence and respect for books. It is also for this reason that I NEVER lend my books to anyone. I’ve done it in the past, and I was badly bitten and had to replace my copies. I wouldn’t even let anyone touch my books, to be honest.

A book you dislike that everyone seems to love?

Pretty much any neo-gothic romance type book with unrealistic love interests and swooning, weak females that need to be physically held up by unrealistic males. Or any literary type book, you know, the kind that manages to waffle on for hundreds of pages without actually having any plot. I just don’t get it.

Bookmarks or dog-ears?

I cannot even begin to express how much pain the defacement of books causes me. Bookmarks. Bookmarks. Bookmarks. There is no other alternative. And I love bookmarks in their own right. I have a small collection, and if I go anywhere and find an interesting bookmark, I have to have it. Chances are I’ll like it too much to actually use it, but that doesn’t matter. I have a small stock of “usable” bookmarks that I do use as actual bookmarks.

A book you can always re-read?

Anything Jane Austen. I know it’s a cliche, but aside from brilliantly woven plots and Austen’s trademark tongue-in-cheek, archetype-ribbing, I re-read an Austen novel whenever I feel like my language is getting a bit plain and unoriginal. It instantly upgrades by vocabulary and the way I construct sentences, so it does actually serve a purpose.

Can you read while hearing music?

Unfortunately not. I would love to be able to multitask my hobbies, but my brain seems to be attuned to rhythms and melodies, and it becomes completely absorbed by them. I certainly can’t listen to music that I know the words to. It seems singing has a greater priority in my brain than reading! The best I can do is listen to background noises, like forest sounds or river sounds or thunderstorm sounds.

One POV or multiple POVs?

Definitely one. How I struggled through Game of Thrones! Fortunately, I listened to GoT rather than read it. I probably would have given up if I’d read it. I just hate having to sit through POVs that I don’t particularly like in order to get back to the POVs that I do like. It makes me start to resent books. Plus, I really like to get to know a character right down into their deepest depths, that’s where I can start caring about them, and I don’t think you can really do that if you’re skipping about over multiple POVs. I’m like that in real life too. I’d far rather have a handful of very close friends who I know very well than a large group of acquaintances.

Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Oh, how I’d love to be a quick reader! What I wouldn’t give! Unfortunately, I’m a plodder. I like to read “aloud” in my head as if I was being read to by a narrator, to really absorb every tiny detail. It may have something to do with my line of work in proofreading and copyediting, but I’m a details person. Plus, I just don’t have the time to sit and read for a day.

A book you’ve read because of the cover?

Again, Snow Like Ashes, and, boy, did I regret it! I also got Rebel of the Sands because of the cover, probably one of the nicest covers I’ve seen, but that wasn’t such a disappointment. I have to say, I’m quite susceptible to a nice cover, so wrap your turds in pretty wrappings and I’ll read it. I would like to say, however, that I’ve read plenty of great books with crappy covers that I absolutely hate displaying on my shelves, so it balances out.

~

Phew! Thank you if you managed to get through all that! It was actually lots of fun, so I’ll do more of these in the future. If you want to do this book tag yourself, here are all twenty questions without my wafflings in between:

How many books is too many books in a series?
How do you feel about cliffhangers?
Hardback or paperback?
Favourite book?
Least favourite book?
Love triangles, yes or no?
The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?
A book you’re currently reading?
Last book you recommended to someone?
Oldest book you’ve read?
Newest book you’ve read?
Favourite author?
Buying books or borrowing books?
A book you dislike that everyone seem to love?
Bookmarks or dog-ears?
A book you can always re-read?
Can you read while hearing music?
One POV or multiple POVs?
Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
A book you’ve read because of the cover?

Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

snow-like-ashes

Title: Snow Like Ashes

Author: Sara Raasch

Pages: 416

Goodreads link

My rating: 1/5

Now, I really didn’t want to kick of my book reviewing career with a lemon, but, alas, Snow Like Ashes was the last book I read. And I’m sorry to say that this is one of the most lemony lemons I have squeezed in a long time. It took me about three months to finish Snow Like Ashes, which shows how often I was reading in those three months, and when I did manage to steel myself for a squeezing session I was almost convinced on every occasion to do the unthinkable and not finish a book. In fact, the only thing that prevented such a travesty was my deep hatred of unfinished stories.

I think the first sign of an imminent disappointment was that I had mapped out the entire course of the plot by the end of chapter two. A more obvious “twist” you cannot conceive. Despite this, I pushed on through thinking the hype around this book had to pertain to some aspect, but in fact I found Snow Like Ashes to be lacking in every aspect. The plot was profoundly predictable, the main character was unlikeable, the other characters were cliché and superficial, the world building was derivative and delivered in fact dumps, and the writing was utterly unchallenging. It says that the author wrote this story when she was 12 and it certainly reads like it was written by a 12-year-old.

It really grates when YA is patronising, like young adults are somehow literarily challenged and need to be written down to. Twaddle. I struggled to keep in mind that the main character was 17 when her voice was that of a pre-teen. The love triangle, which seems so lamentably requisite for YA novels these days, is cringingly written out with all the subtlety of a saucepan to the face and without anywhere near enough depth as to prompt me to actually like either of the interested parties. Possibly the worst characterisation of all, however, is the bad guys. Not only are they flagrant stereotypes, but I struggled to feel anything towards them other than vague disinterest. So the main character hates and despises them and feels fear at the mere mention of them. So what? Without actually experiencing any of their evil deeds myself, I can’t possibly form the same judgement of them. As far as I can tell, the bad guys are just fools to be casually outwitted by the main character and no more harmful than that. It doesn’t make for a gripping read. It’s just lazy writing. There are no attempts to engage emotionally with the reader, or if there are then I couldn’t find them. I think the overwhelming emotion I experienced while reading this book was a heavy dose of meh.

So as you may have guessed, I didn’t like it. I hate to say this but I bought it because the cover is extremely alluring and perhaps the only aspect of any merit. Yes, yes, that makes me an idiot, but sometimes I just like having beautiful things on my shelves. Not that Snow Like Ashes will be spending much time on there. If I wasn’t so averse to the destruction of books I would shred it for compost, but as I am I will charity shop it with a spoonful of guilt knowing that some other poor reader will have to endure it.

I promise I am not going to disparage every book I read on here. It is, thankfully, very rare for me to read a book devoid of distinction, but it will always be astonishing to me that literary tripe such as this slips through the editorial net and actually ends up asking us to pay good money for it. This, of course, is my own opinion as I can see from other reviews that many people found great delight amongst the pages of Snow Like Ashes. Not I, however. I may be in the minority, but I like something a little more challenging and original.