#Polarthon Update 2

JUST FINISHED: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

The daughter of a moneylender too kind to take back what he’s owed, Miryem takes it upon herself to restore her family’s fortunes, with prodigious success. But when a careless boast that she can turn silver to gold catches the attention of the Staryk king, she finds herself caught in a bargain that will either kill her, or take her from her home and her family forever.

This was such a brilliant, atmospheric read; a sinister, freezing world, and three great protagonists, each with their own compelling journeys and character arcs. Wanda – whose story was the most grounded of the three – was probably my favourite, but I loved both Miryem and Irina as well, and even the book’s two villains (the tsar and the Staryk king) turned out to be really interesting characters once we came to know them.

The book did suffer from having a few too many POV characters, though. There were the aforementioned three protagonists (Miryem, Wanda and Irina), whose separate perspectives made sense as they each had their own storylines, but three more (if I recall correctly) were added later on, and although I liked most of these chapters, none of them really offered anything that we couldn’t have been shown through the protagonists’ eyes – except perhaps the single (I think) chapter from Mirnatius’ perspective, the presence of which was its own kind of (mildly) baffling.

Additionally, none of the characters’ voices were particularly distinct, and I often had to read a bit into a scene before being able to tell whose perspective I was reading from; during one chapter in particular, I remember having to constantly go back and re-check small details in previous passages to remind myself that I was reading about Irina, not Miryem. This wasn’t much of a problem for most of the book, when the characters’ lives were very dissimilar, but became more of one as the three plotlines came together…

And as for the plot, it was occasionally confusing, and a little contrived towards the end, but ultimately very satisfying. It took quite a while for the story to really get started, too, but I can hardly complain about how much of the beginning was spent on building up the world and characters and atmosphere when they were my favourite things about this book! 😋

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Done. 👍 I didn’t quite manage to make it to the end of my climb – the last book on my TBR was A Winter’s Promise – but I’m pretty pleased with how much I managed to read… and how good both books were! 😁 Spinning Silver was for the foiled cover and icy magic challenges (and would also be for the polar fantasy challenge, if tripling-up was allowed… but alas).

Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 808
Challenges Completed: 4/5

#Polarthon Update 1

JUST FINISHED: Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray.

When she finds a strange boy, still alive inside the belly of a dead whale, Ellie is the only person in the Last City who believes that he’s not the new Vessel of the Enemy; the god that drowned the world, and has tormented the City ever since. But proving Seth’s innocence will be a dangerous task, and saving him – and herself – a near-impossible one.

A fun adventure in an interesting, post-apocalyptic world, and a powerful portrayal of grief, love and loyalty. It took me a little while to get invested in the story and characters, but there was a big reveal about a third of the way through that really upped the stakes, and after that, I was completely hooked. All three of the main characters were really great, too, and I loved the bonds that grew between them over the course of the story. 💕

Shipwreck Island, the next book in this series, is already out, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it will take these characters; Ellie’s personal arc seemed to wrap-up pretty neatly in this book, but I’m hoping that we’ll learn a lot more about Seth’s mysterious origins in the next two… and that we’ll hear some more from Anna! 🤞

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Happy to have wrapped up my first book on day 1! 🎶 This was for the first two challenges on the Explorers’ path (an adventure and a cold word), and my second read – for the next two challenges – will be Spinning Silver.

Books Read: 1
Pages Read: 342
Challenges Completed: 2/5

#BotWathon Final Update!

JUST FINISHED: The Second Sleep by Robert Harris.

Father Christopher Fairfax is sent to Addicott to conduct the funeral of its former priest, but there’s more to Father Lacy’s death – and to the man himself – than Fairfax could have imagined.

The Second Sleep is undoubtedly well-written: though the story is not particularly fast-paced, it reads very quickly, and Harris does an excellent job of keeping the reader engaged. And the world that he’s created here is a very interesting one, blending recognisable parts of the present into a very historical-feeling background…

However! Sadly, that’s pretty much where my praise for this novel ends. ☹️ I didn’t like the main character very much; he was complex and interesting, but sometimes came across as kind of skeevy… He has two potential love interests, and I really disliked the way he thought about them. In fact, this book really could have done without the romance altogether, as it wasn’t particularly well-developed, and added nothing to the plot. Also (though I’ll admit that this is a personal thing), I often find it frustrating to read from the perspective of very religious characters, which didn’t help my enjoyment of this book.

And as for the plot, the mystery of Father Lacy’s death was brushed aside fairly quickly in favour of the historical mystery, which was intriguing for most of the novel, but had a very underwhelming resolution. I don’t often read thrillers, and mainly decided to pick this one up because Fatherland (by the same author) is one of the few that I’ve really enjoyed, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite what I hoped it would be.

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Finished! If on a slightly disappointing note. ☹️ This last book was for the Great Plateau challenge (to read a book that’s out of my comfort zone), and also allowed me to complete the Weapon Connoisseur bonus challenge, for every book I read to be from a different (main) genre. 🎉 Despite its lacklustre end, I’ve really enjoyed this round of BotWathon, and I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next one! 😁

Books Read: 5
Pages Read: 1967
Hours Listened: 10:13
Main Challenges Completed: 5/5
Bonus Challenges Completed: 3/3

#BotWathon Update 3

JUST FINISHED: The Kingmakers by Clay & Susan Griffith.

Adele may have won the battle to fight the war against the vampires her own way, but the war itself is not going particularly well… so Gareth volunteers to take on the risky role of spy and saboteur, and return to his brother’s court to try to take it down from within.

This is the final book in the Vampire Empire trilogy, and plot-wise, it was probably the weakest, which is sad. ☹️ The ending felt somewhat rushed, a lot of plot developments were a little over-convenient, and several threads of the storyline never went anywhere… but I did still enjoy it a lot. The writing has definitely improved since The Greyfriar (where it was kind of choppy), and it’s clear to see that the authors have become much more accustomed to writing together…

And, of course, there’s the romance! Which is the main thing I enjoy about this series, and is as wonderful as ever in this book. 💕 There were plenty of cute scenes between Gareth and Adele, and I love the way that they continue to support and protect each other. I’m a little sad that there wasn’t an epilogue or something to show how they’ll be in the future, but I guess that’s what The Geomancer is going to be for (or at least, I hope it’s going to be more character-driven than plot-driven).

My favourite moment in the book: Gareth trying to be secretive. He’s really not meant for subterfuge, but bless him, he just keeps trying. 😅

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: One book to go ! (Which will be The Second Sleep.) 😊 This one was for the Blood Moon challenge, but I used my Team Revali perk to choose whatever book I wanted instead! 😋

Books Read: 4
Pages Read: 1640
Hours Listened: 10:13
Main Challenges Completed: 4/5
Bonus Challenges Completed: 2/3

#BotWathon Update 2

JUST FINISHED: Beach Read by Emily Henry.

Still reeling from her father’s death and the simultaneous discovery that he’d been having an affair, along with an awkward breakup and a serious case of writer’s block, January Andrews has absolutely lost her faith in happy endings… which is a problem, as she needs to submit a draft for her newest romance novel ASAP. But her new neighbour/former college nemesis may have a solution: switching genres for the summer! And forcing the jaded Gus to write a cheerful rom-com is almost as appealing a prospect as indulging her own new worldview with something distinctly the opposite…

This was such a cute romance! I wasn’t expecting (& didn’t get) too many dramatic turns to the plot, but Henry’s subversion of the grumpy/sunshine trope was really interesting, with jaded-but-wanting-to-believe-in-a-better-world Gus, and sunny-but-questioning-everything-she-ever-believed January… and I really loved both characters! January was a sympathetic lead, and Gus was an endearing love interest… and even though I never really doubted that things would turn out well for them in the end, the ups and downs of their relationship were very gripping.

The concept of their writing competition was a lot of fun, too, and I really wish that I could read both of their books! (Though maybe Gus’ more, as we learn less about it over the course of the novel…)

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Not actually behind – I finished this and The Kingmakers (review to come!) at more or less the same time, so I only actually have one book left to read – but I feel behind. 😓 This book was for the Divine Beast Vah Ruta challenge, to read a book with a water-related word in the title, and also fulfilled the Duelling Peaks Tower bonus challenge, to read a book featuring a rivalry or competition. 😊 My next (& final) read will be The Second Sleep.

Books Read: 4
Pages Read: 1640
Hours Listened: 10:13
Main Challenges Completed: 4/5
Bonus Challenges Completed: 2/3

#Bookoplathon & #MagicalReadathon Update 4! (+ #BotWathon Update 1)

JUST FINISHED: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

Set in a world where two factions – the Alethi and the Parshendi – have been fighting a long, drawn-out war since the assassination of the Alethi king, an unlikely set of characters are caught up in combat and politics of this world. Kaladin, a surgeon’s apprentice-turned-soldier-turned-slave, is brought to the Shattered Plains as a lowly bridgeman, and hopes to lead his new crew to freedom – but first they must survive, and keep surviving; Shallan hatches a plan to save her family from ruin by stealing a powerful magical artifact from the heretical Princess Jasnah; and Dalinar, the new king’s uncle, has begun seeing visions that tell him to unite the Alethi people, who very decidedly do not want to be united.

Brandon Sanderson does it again! 😁 As the first in a really long series, The Way of Kings is naturally made up of a lot of world-building, scene-setting and character development, with big Plot Implications only really coming into play near the end, but wow, was everything in this book done masterfully! I loved all the main characters, and plenty of the supporting ones, too; the world was fascinating, and was introduced to us in a really organic way, with barely any info-dumping at all; Sanderson’s writing style was incredibly gripping, even when nothing in particular was happening; and the ending was absolutely exhilarating! (I was reading this at work this afternoon, and had to actively hold myself back from excited bouncing/pacing/making other sudden movements on the shop floor… 😅)

I do find myself left with a lot of questions, which sometimes frustrates me, but this time I’m genuinely excited to search for the answers in the future books… probably because I have faith that they’ll definitely be answered – and that the answers will be incredible. 😆

Some final feelings:

  • I want Kaladin and Dalinar and Adolin to all become bros. It was super-satisfying whenever any of the main characters crossed paths, and I’m really looking forward to them all interacting more in Words of Radiance. (And hopefully meeting Shallan, too!)
  • The Wit definitely seems like he Knows Things. I feel like he might be a crossover character, but I’m not familiar enough with the wider Cosmere to be able to tell for sure.
  • I didn’t find the excerpts at the beginning of the chapters in this book as interesting as I did the ones in Mistborn, but I loved the reveal (or strong implication?) we get at the end, of where they all come from!

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Done! 😆 I finished The Way of Kings with about an hour to spare, which I’m really pleased with! And it counted for all three of my current readathons! (Juggling all of these has been a little exhausting, to be honest, but now that we’re into October, at least I’ve only got Breath of the Wild-athon to finish. 😅) For Bookoplathon, this counted for the highest rated prompt, for the Magical Readathon it was my Tower of Rumination pick (a five-star prediction), and for BotWathon it was for the Lurelin Village prompt (which was also a five-star prediction).

In between this update and my last, I also finished Nightwing: A Darker Shade of Justice, which was my chance card pick for Bookoplathon, and my Bridge of Hylia (a book where a character crosses between worlds) pick for BotWathon, along with the Eventide Island bonus challenge (to read a book in one sitting). I still have my three character prompts to fulfil for Magical Readathon, but thankfully I have until April (I think) to get that done… And as for the rest of BotWathon: I’m currently almost halfway through the audiobook of Beach Read, and my next physical read will probably be The Kingmakers. 😊

Bookoplathon Books Completed: 5
Magical Readathon Books Completed: 7
BotWathon Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 3386
Hours Listened: 12:02
Bookoplathon Challenges Completed: 5/5
Magical Readathon Challenges Completed: 7/10
BotWathon Challenges Completed: 3/8

Breath of the Wildathon: Vah Ruta Quest TBR!

As if two readathons at a time wasn’t enough, I’ve decided to add a third with the next round of the Breath of the Wildathon, which started last Monday, and will be running until Wednesday 20th October. This round is the first section of the main quest, during which we’ll all be making our way to Vah Ruta and hopefully defeating Waterblight Ganon! 🤞 I’ve joined Team Revali 🦅, which will be taking me on a path around the Southern edge of the Faron Grasslands and East Necluda.

1) THE GREAT PLATEAU – read a book that’s out of your comfort zone – This first book is the one I’m most torn on; it’ll either be The Second Sleep by Robert Harris, a post-apocalyptic thriller, or Cod by Mark Kurlansky, a non-fiction about, well, cod. The Second Sleep is the one I’m most drawn to, but I just played my TBR game for October and landed on a non-fiction square, so reading Cod here would combine those two, and thereby slightly increase my chances of getting to Empire of the Vampire next month? (Which is definitely a priority.) Let me know what you guys think! 🐟/🐎?

2) BRIDGE OF HYLIA – read a book where a character crosses between worlds – I’m stretching this prompt somewhat in order to fit in something that’s not fantasy (for those pesky bonus challenges), but I’ve decided to go with Nightwing vol. 4: A Darker Shade of Justice, in which Dick has to go undercover to infiltrate Blackgate Prison… which is kind of another world?

3) LURELIN VILLAGE – read a 5-star prediction – This one was a pretty easy choice, since this is also one of the Magical Readathon prompts that I haven’t fulfilled yet: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson! I started this on day 1 of the readathon, and am currently almost halfway through, and really enjoying it, even though I was definitely not looking forward to fitting a 1000-page book into an already busy reading month. But oh well, it seems to have worked out. 😅

4) BLOOD MOON – draw a blood moon card – The card I drew told me to pick a book over 500 pages, but I will be cheerfully using my Team Revali perk here to ignore that card and read whatever book I want instead… And that book is The Kingmakers by Clay & Susan Griffith, the final book in the Vampire Empire trilogy, which is decidedly less than 500 pages, and is essentially a romance between a human princess and a vigilante vampire hunter with a lot of secrets. 💕 There’s an interesting plot, too, but to be honest I’m mostly into this series for the romance.

5) DIVINE BEAST VAH RUTA – read a book with a water-related word in the title – Last up is Beach Read by Emily Henry! A romance between two rival authors, who decide to switch genres in order to combat their writer’s block. I started the audiobook of this a couple of days ago, and am really enjoying it so far! 😁 I was initially going to pick The Ocean at the End of the Lane for this challenge (because I didn’t realise that we could double up with the bonus prompts), but am really happy with the change – and not just because I now have something to listen to while I knit!

6) BONUS CHALLENGES – I’ve doubled up for all of these, so Beach Read will be counting for the Dueling Peaks Tower challenge (to read a book with a rivalry or a competition), and I will be attempting to read A Darker Shade of Justice in one sitting to fulfil the Eventide Island challenge. And the final challenge – weapon connoisseur – is for every book on my TBR to be from a different genre, which I’ve just about managed: I’ve got either a thriller or non-fiction, a superhero comic, a high fantasy, a steampunk/urban fantasy, and a romance! The only potential overlap is between The Second Sleep and The Kingmakers, which are both post-apocalyptic, but they each blend in other (different) genres as well. 👍

Luckily, I managed to complete all the rune trials during the Great Plateau round, and earned myself the glider perk, so I’m allowed to read these in whatever order I like – and I’ll be starting with (have already started with, in fact) The Way of Kings and A Darker Shade of Justice, as they overlap with my Bookoplathon and Magical Readathon TBRs. After that, it’s anyone’s guess what I’ll be reading.

#Bookoplathon & #MagicalReadathon Update 3!

JUST FINISHED: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna.

A purity ritual, where girls are cut to show the colour of their blood, stands between Deka and the acceptance of her village, but when her time comes to prove herself, she finds to her horror that her blood is not red, but gold – the colour of impurity. She is saved from a seemingly endless punishment by a mysterious woman in white gauntlets, but White Hands’ assistance does not come for free, and the future she has in mind for Deka is a dangerous one…

An interesting world and premise, let down somewhat by a somewhat predictable storyline, and a cast of mostly one-note characters. Deka made for a likeable lead, but I found that much of her character development happened very suddenly, for instance she starts off very devout, but is able to fully embrace the idea that her sacred text is lying to her during a two-week, off-page timeskip fairly early on, and by the time we rejoin her is no longer willing to let her actions be determined by the Infinite Wisdoms… which just seems like it ought to have been a more gradual process.

Similarly, I found much of the pacing kind of rushed; especially during her time training, I got no real sense of time passing, even though I knew that it must be, and while we’re occasionally told directly that time has passed (e.g. the aforementioned two-week timeskip, and a couple of instances of the “gilded sleep”), often we’re just left to assume it – or else assume that the characters’ skills – and their reputation – are growing at a frankly unbelievable rate.

Things I thought that the book did really well, however: As I already mentioned, I liked Deka, and she became a lot more interesting as the story went on; the plot also really picked up towards the end, and the last 150 pages or so brought my rating up to a solid three stars; and it has a really strong feminist message, which I liked – and I’m sure many others will, too.

(Trigger warnings for descriptions of abuse and exploitation (including sexual) of children.)CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Thrilled to have finished this one before the clock struck midnight! 🕛 Breath of the Wild-athon began about half an hour ago, and since I managed to fit my last two Bookoplathon books/my last Novice Path book onto that TBR as well, I’d say that the timing for this read ended up working out pretty well! The next physical book I’ll be picking up will be The Way of Kings (my kindle is charging as we speak), and my next audiobook will be Beach Read (which is only for my BotWathon TBR). The Gilded Ones was for the Bookopoly POC rep prompt, and the Novice Path Entrance challenge for the Magical Readathon, to read a book with a map.

MAGICAL READATHON BOOKS READ IN THE MEANTIME: Mrs. Death Misses Death (Mist of Solitude – a standalone).

Bookoplathon Books Completed: 3
Magical Readathon Books Completed: 6
Pages Read: 2157
Hours Listened: 8:12
Bookoplathon Challenges Completed: 3/5
Magical Readathon Challenges Completed: 6/10

#Bookoplathon & #MagicalReadathon Update 2

JUST FINISHED: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer.

Edward Cullen’s mostly-peaceful immortal life is rudely interrupted by the arrival of Bella Swan, whose blood calls to him so powerfully that he runs the risk of exposing his whole family as vampires.

I’ve been super-into vampires again recently, so revisiting the Twilight Saga with Midnight Sun – the first book re-told from Edward’s perspective – seemed only natural… and it’s been a pretty fun journey! But this book’s greatest flaw is that it’s just way too long; 750 pages to Twilight‘s 500. And while I was expecting (and hoping) that those extra 250 pages would be spent on scenes with Edward and the Cullens that Bella hadn’t been present for, they were actually mostly made up of Edward micro-analysing every tiny thing that Bella does, and the thoughts of everyone around her… Which wasn’t uninteresting in itself, but wasn’t nearly as interesting as whole new scenes might have been.

However! This is definitely a worthy addition to the series. People who genuinely love Twilight will, I think, find just as much to love about Midnight Sun, and people who love to make fun of Twilight will find plenty more cannon fodder here (though I don’t know if the desire to mock will be enough to sustain anyone through a book this long without some unironic appreciation for the series). In other words, it’s very true to form.

In any case, I enjoyed reading Midnight Sun a lot, and am still very much in a mood for vampire books – so bring on Empire of the Vampire! 😋CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Going strong! This is only my second Bookoplathon book, but it’s my fourth for the Magical Readathon – for the buzzword “times of day” and Orilium Academy Arc (a book with a school setting) challenges, respectively. I’ve already started on my next physical book, which is The Gilded Ones (which is on both TBRs), and am about halfway through my current audiobook, Mrs. Death Misses Death (for the Magical Readathon).

MAGICAL READATHON BOOKS READ IN THE MEANTIME: The Rift Walker (Ashthorn Tree – a book that keeps tempting you) and Darling (Obsidian Falls – a mystery or thriller).

Bookoplathon Books Completed: 2
Magical Readathon Books Completed: 4
Pages Read: 1853
Hours Listened: 5:03
Bookoplathon Challenges Completed: 2/5
Magical Readathon Challenges Completed: 4/10

#Bookoplathon & #MagicalReadathon Update 1!

JUST FINISHED: The Greyfriar by Clay & Susan Griffith.

In an alternative present day where half the world is ruled by vampires, Princess Adele of Equatoria – one of the last human territories – and her convoy are attacked, and only the timely arrival of the mysterious Greyfriar, a legendary vampire hunter, saves Adele from death. But the forces hunting Adele are more than can be dealt with by two people, however skilled.

I went into this book expecting something fun but cheesy (it did come out in 2010, after all), and I wasn’t wrong, exactly… but I think I might be obsessed with this series now! 😍 I read almost the whole thing in one night (and stayed up far too late in the process), and picked up the sequel as soon as I was done… Downsides of the book were: 1) the writing is somewhat choppy (maybe because it’s co-written?), 2) I found the mental image of floating vampires kind of silly, and 3) it took me a little while to warm up to Adele.

But! I love these characters so much (Gareth in particular; he’s such a sweetheart), and am ridiculously invested in the book’s central romance; Adele and Gareth’s dynamic was perfect in every scene they shared, and getting to know each of them was really lovely. 💕 The story, while it starts off feeling a bit rushed, quickly sucked me in, and kept hold of me right through to the end. Objectively, this probably isn’t the greatest book), but it seems petty to keep poking at a book that I enjoyed so much… and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series! And the spin-off! 😆CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Regretting the lack of audiobooks on either of my readathon TBRs, as I’ve been trying to get some knitting done over the last few days… but I’ve also started my next (physical) read (The Rift Walker), and am enjoying it a lot. 😊 The Greyfriar was for the Bookoplathon buzzword “colours” square, as well as the Ruins of the Skye challenge for the Magical Readathon, which was to read a book with supernatural elements.

Bookoplathon Books Completed: 1
Magical Readathon Books Completed: 1
Pages Read: 461
Hours Listened: 0:00
Bookoplathon Challenges Completed: 1/5
Magical Readathon Challenges Completed: 1/10