Top Ten Tuesday: Books I planned to read but never got to

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today is all about books you planned on reading, but never quite got to.  There were a ton of new releases I planned on reading in 2016 – 61 total.  Of those, I read 32, but that still leaves a whole 29 that I didn’t!  Choosing the ten that I was most excited about was difficult, but here they are.

As always, Goodreads links below:

// if i was your girl // idol // the loose ends list // the geek’s guide to unrequited love // the hating game // morning star // holding up the universe // the passion of dolssa // draw the line // the inside of out //

Are there any books that you didn’t get to in 2016?

It’s almost February already, and, by the way, February is looking like it’s going to be an awesome month when it comes to new releases.  There are six that I’m really looking forward to.

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– Starflight by Melissa Landers (2/2/16) 
– Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (2/2/16)
– Morning Star by Pierce Brown (2/9/16) 

I just realized that these are all star-themed!

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– These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (2/9/16)

– A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (2/23/16)
– The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine (2/16/16)

We’ve also got two shadow themes down here!

What new releases are you looking forward to?

ARC review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Goodreads | Amazon

“Once upon a time, there was a family of strong wills,” she says, voice slow and measured as a pendulum. “They did not love one another. But together they presided over a farm. And on that farm, there were hounds, and bitches, and dairy cows, and hens, and cocks, and sheep, and mules, and horses. The family kept the beasts in line. And the beasts kept them rich, fat, and happy. Now, the beasts obeyed because they knew the family was strong, and to disobey was to suffer their united wrath. But one day, when one of the brothers struck his brother over the eye, a cock said to a hen, ‘Darling, matronly hen, what would really happen if you stopped laying eggs for them?’” 

Golden Son begins two years after the conclusion of Red Rising. While his friends and classmates relaxed, confident in their new positions as Peerless Scarred, Darrow trained. He fought. He prepared to topple society from the top. As Golden Son begins, Darrow is nearing the end of his time at the Academy, where he has learned how to command an army. While the Institute taught him how to win people, the Academy has taught him strategic maneuvers and how to command fleets of aircraft to win a war.

The book feels simultaneously similar to and different from Red Rising. Mustang, Sevro, and Roque are back, and joined by a whole new cast of characters to either love or despise. Just as before, every character has their purpose. Prepare yourself: you will become attached, and your favorite characters will die in the most tragic ways possible. Darrow will claw his way to the top, using his anger at what was done to his wife, what was done to his closest allies, in an attempt to destroy the status quo. He will gain and lose trust, gain and lose friends. He will have to remind himself why exactly he’s fighting, and whose dream he’s fighting for. He will have to decide how many friends to betray along the way.

I have read many reviews of Red Rising that complain of Darrow’s perfection. I have good news for those readers: Darrow’s perfection is shattered in Golden Son. Gone is the boy who always knew what to do. Gone is the boy who got by with just his wits and his luck. In Golden Son, Darrow struggles. He falls from grace. His brilliant plans are thwarted by equally brilliant rivals and traitors within his inner circle. He makes bad decisions. He constantly second guesses himself. He takes his rebellion a little too far at times, accepts other Colors a little too freely, and his friends no longer blindly support him. He acts like an actual person rather than the perfect symbol of rebellion that he was before. I actually liked Darrow a lot more in Golden Son, because he seemed more real to me.

So if everything was this great, why is my rating lower for Golden Son than it was for Red Rising? It’s little things. I felt like the pacing was a little uneven. And unlike Red Rising, I felt like Golden Son was better outside of the battles, when Darrow was trying to repair his friendships and decide who he could trust. I loved this book, but for me, Red Rising was just a little bit better. Still, the ending had my heart pounding and I will be holding my breath waiting for Morning Star’s release.

A huge thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: 4.5/5

[Golden Son is the second book in the Red Rising trilogy.  See my review of book #1, Red Rising here, or on Goodreads.]

Book review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Goodreads | Amazon

“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.” 

At only sixteen years old, Darrow is happily married to Eo, the love of his life. As a Red, in the lowest class of Mars society, he spends his days mining helium-3 in an attempt to make the surface livable for future generations. His will be a short and dangerous life, but he knows it’s worth it… until Eo discovers that everything has been a lie. The surface is not uninhabitable, as they’ve been told their entire lives. It’s fully developed, run by the cruel and powerful Golds. With Eo’s inspiration and his uncle’s help, Darrow joins a mysterious organization with the aim of bringing down Gold society, which is crueler and more complex than he could have ever imagined.

Going into this book, I didn’t know what to think. I hadn’t read the summary. I hadn’t read any reviews. I just knew that it had been getting a lot of attention, and it had won in this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards. Even my boyfriend, who is notoriously picky about his books, told me this book was “really good.” So I borrowed his copy, and let me tell you, I had a difficult time putting it down.

The world of Red Rising is so intricately built that it does take some time to put everything together. At the beginning, you learn that there are Reds and Golds, but that’s not all. Later, we learn that there are a number of castes – Pinks, Coppers, Obsidians, Grays, Violets, Yellows, and more. They all have their roles in society. They all prop up the Golds in different ways. There can even be multiple levels within a Color. The Golds have their Peerless Scarred, and the Reds can be High or Low. I’ll admit that there is a lot to remember, but I never found it confusing. I’m more impressed at the extent of this world than anything else.

My favorite part may have been the characters. Darrow, the hero, propelled to new heights by his anger at what was done to his wife, and his desire to live out her dream. Eo, a visionary, who deserved better than the life she was born into. Harmony, Dancer, and Mickey, who work to transform Darrow from Red to Gold. Cassius, the first Gold friend Darrow makes. Pax, who is so much more than he initially seems. Roque, Sevro, Mustang… I could go on and on about these characters. I felt something for every one of them, whether it was love, hate, amusement, anger, or sorrow. There are no throwaway characters here. Everyone was well-developed. Everyone had their part to play.

When I realized where the book was going, I was afraid that it was going to be another Hunger Games or Divergent. I had seen Darrow compared to Katniss on more than one occasion, and while I loved her story, I didn’t need to see it rehashed with a male lead. Fortunately, aside from the general gist of the plot – children fighting to get ahead in an obviously unequal society – there is really no comparison. The plot of Red Rising has all the pillars of a typical dystopian story: a member of a low class realizes that life is unfair and fights to equalize society, making friends and enemies along the way. The thing that makes Red Rising different is its execution. I’ve never seen a dystopian novel, particularly one marketed for young adults, that is quite this cruel, or quite this heartrending. Pierce Brown has no qualms with killing off favorite characters and throwing in enormous plot twists. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will tell you that I was yelling at Darrow for his (admittedly politically sound) decisions.

Finally, the writing. It’s hard to believe that this was Brown’s debut novel. It’s also hard to believe that we’re almost the same age. The writing flows beautifully, from the dialogue to Darrow’s inner thoughts. Of all the books I’ve read this year, this one is definitely at the top of the list when it comes to writing style.

I was surprised and impressed by this book. Initially, I had given it four stars. Writing this review, I can’t think of any reason why I should give it less than five.

Final rating: ★★★★★