T5W: Books for a Rainy Summer

To be honest, summer hasn’t really shown its face where I live; we had a truly beautiful Sunday, followed by a couple of days of gloomy rainclouds (and as I write, raindrops are attempting to batter their way through my windows). 🌧 Spring does seem to be finally-hopefully-maybe asserting its dominance over winter, but I’m not going to hold my breath for true summer weather for at least a couple more months… So, since this week’s theme – summer reads – is wholly inappropriate, I thought I’d tweak it a little bit, and instead I’ll be sharing with you some of my favourite books for a wet summer spent indoors! 😉

Sunny days always make me want to read light, fluffy contemporaries. Rainy days lend themselves to something a little bit heavier; sad or mysterious or thought-provoking or lonely, or maybe even a little spooky (but not too much!)… Though if you asked me why, I doubt I’d be able to answer. 😅

5) The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

A story about a young girl called Maria Merryweather, who, upon moving to the country to live with her reclusive uncle, discovers that her family is cursed, and it’s up to her to find a way to break it. This is a really magical book, and one that I still love even though I’m considerably older than its target audience. Naturally, I’d especially recommend it for people who love horses. 😊

4) Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Not long after Vera falls out with her best friend – and secret crush – Charlie, he dies in damning circumstances, and Vera is left to decide how far she’s willing to go in order to clear his name… and if she even wants to. Dark, mysterious, heart-wrenching, and gripping from start to finish.

3) The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

The eerie tale of a man who one evening saves the life of a crane that crash-lands in his garden, and shortly afterwards meets a young woman called Kumiko who seems to have some connection to the crane. And interwoven with this is a wonderful folk-tale-esque story about a crane and a volcano (which I may or may not have liked even more than the main storyline)… Beautifully written, and full of wonderful characters; Patrick Ness is an incredible author, and it’s just as evident in The Crane Wife as in some of his better-known works.

2) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

A dark, slow-building story about a young man and his first love, who suffered deeply from depression. This book is much heavier than the others on this list (even Please Ignore Vera Dietz!), and is very emotionally draining, too, but it’s definitely worth the energy it takes to get through it. Incredibly thought-provoking, and brilliantly atmospheric.

1) The Kotenbu series by Honobu Yonezawa

Also known as the Classics Club series or the Hyouka series, these books tell the story of a high-schooler who’s forced by his sister to join his school’s dying Classics Club. It’s supposed to be a club where students meet in order to read and discuss classical literature, but instead the small club becomes all about solving mysterious happenings around the school and town, and willingly or not, Houtarou – our main character, who prefers to live his life in ‘energy-saving mode” – is dragged into the chaos. Each book offers up a different main case, and they vary in tone and complexity, but are always a great deal of fun. I really love these characters, too, which probably helps. 😆

These books have no official English translation at the moment, but if this series sounds like something you’d like, then fan-translations are available on Baka-Tsuki. Or you could check out the also-fantastic anime (which is called Hyouka). Or  do both! 😉

August Wrap-Up

Make yourselves comfy, because this’ll be a long one. 😉 I read a grand total of 24 books this month, which is a lot, even for me. Seriously, I’m not even sure that I knew it was possible…

A.S. King//Please Ignore Vera DietzPlease Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. I really loved this book – Vera & Charlie were both believable and likeable, and A.S. King’s writing was as amazing as ever. The only other A.S. King book I’ve read is The Dust of 100 Dogs, which was also great, but of the two, I definitely prefer Please Ignore Vera Dietz.5 stars

Gene Luen Yang//BoxersGene Luen Yang//SaintsBoxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Technically two books, but I marathoned them, & my love towards each of them was more-or-less the same. I think I liked Saints a little better than Boxers, but, as I said, there’s not much in it. This series made me feel all the feels, & I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes powerfully-written graphic novels.4 stars

Veronica Roth//FourFour: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth. This is almost a prequel to the Divergent series, told from Four’s perspective. It was really wonderful to get to know Four as he was pre-Tris, and to get another view into his mindset. I actually preferred reading his POV here to his chapters in Allegiant, as he’s much less of an emotional mess in Four. The bonus scenes from Divergent were also pretty cool, but not as interesting as the four novellas that make up the majority of the book.5 stars

R.J. Anderson//UltravioletUltraviolet by R.J. Anderson. I actually picked up the sequel to this book from the library by mistake, and then had to hunt down this book as well. I found it pretty disappointing, though. I liked most of the characters, but the main romantic relationship had some pretty creepy undertones (particularly at the beginning), and there were a few things that happened that were never really explained. I may have rated this book a little harshly, since the writing is actually very solid, but the summary made me think that this was going to be a superpower-book, and I was kind of annoyed when I figured out that it really, really wasn’t…2 stars

Skye Jordan//RecklessReckless by Skye Jordan. My first venture into what is basically erotica. I don’t have much to say about this book except that I was surprised by how much I liked it. The characters were likeable and well-written, and the plot was solid, if somewhat clichéd & a little cheesy at times.4 stars

R.J. Anderson//QuicksilverQuicksilver by R.J. Anderson. The (far, far superior) sequel to Ultraviolet. I actually really liked this one. Allison (the main character from Ultraviolet) shows up occasionally, but the story follows Tori in the months after Ultraviolet. I loved Tori and her friend Milo, and I even liked the way that Sebastian was portrayed in this book (through Tori’s eyes as opposed to Allison’s). Also, I’m pretty sure that this is the only book I’ve ever read with an openly asexual main character, which scores it all kinds of bonus points.4 stars

Tim Bowler//Night RunnerNight Runner by Tim Bowler. Starseeker, also by Tim Bowler is actually one of my favourite books, so I was pretty excited when I found his most recent release just lying around at the library, but I wasn’t all that impressed by it. I did like the main character Zinny, and the things that he was going through made me kind of want to hug everyone who was even a tiny bit nice to him in the book, but unfortunately I didn’t find the plot particularly interesting.3 stars

Jennifer L. Armentrout//ObsidianObsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The first book in the Lux series. I basically only read this book because I heard that it was like Twilight, but with aliens instead of vampires, and I really needed something Twilight-y in my life. This series is probably better described as “Like Twilight, but a hundred times better, and also with aliens.” Needless to say, I loved it, and when I finish the last book in the series, I’ll probably write a series review.4 stars

Susanna Clarke//Jonathan Strange and Mr. NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Finishing this (audio)book made me feel ridiculously accomplished. My sister gave me the physical copy of it for my birthday several years ago, but it’s incredibly slow-paced and I found it really difficult to get into. A couple of years ago I decided to give the audiobook a try, and although I really liked it, it’s taken me until now to get through the whole thing, as I don’t tend to listen to audiobooks very often, or (when I do listen to them) for extended periods of time. This book is very slow, like I said, and also very long, so it’s not for the easily intimidated, but once you do manage to get in to it, it’s incredibly funny and enjoyable. The characters are amazingly-written, and the climax is well worth the 900-or-so pages it takes to get there.4 starsJim Butcher//Furies of CalderonFuries of Calderon by Jim Butcher. I actually bought this book (and the sequel) in order to read on the plane back from China, but unfortunately I just wasn’t in the mood for reading (which made the whole flight feel like a horrific waste of time). I finally finished it about halfway through the month, & I actually really enjoyed it. It felt a little lackluster in the beginning, but once it gets going, it’s incredibly exciting. I particularly liked the chapters towards the end of the book, when Tavi and Kitai had to take the Trial of Wits (which was, of course, perfect for Tavi). The characters were wonderful; I loved Tavi and Kitai (though she was only introduced towards the end), and Amara and Bernard’s developing relationship was really sweet to read about. The plot was a little confusing in places, but it’s easy enough to follow what’s going on once you’ve got a grasp of the world, and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.4 starsStephanie Perkins//Isla and the Happily Ever AfterIsla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. The final book in the Anna & the French Kiss trilogy, following Anna & the French Kiss and Lola & the Boy Next Door. This was actually my favourite of the series so far, possibly because (having only read the first two books quite recently) I haven’t had that much time to get really attached to either Anna or Lola. But whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this book. I personally found Isla the most relatable of the three heroines, and Josh was absolutely swoon-worthy. They actually get together quite early on in the book, and it was lovely seeing how they were as a couple, rather than just as teenagers who liked each other a lot (as we saw in Anna and Lola’s books). Most of the criticism I’ve heard of this book is to do with the main conflict between Isla and Josh, and how it really only happened because of Isla’s insecurities, but I found it incredibly realistic, and it actually probably made me like the book even more.5 starsLeah Hocking//Once Upon a Glass HeartOnce Upon a Glass Heart by Leah Hocking. An almost-retelling of several fairytales, including Snow WhiteHansel & GretelLittle Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, with a heroine called Lily, who crosses from our world into a place called the Kingdom after finding a glass heart on her doorstep. I bought this book because it was on special offer on amazon, and because I thought it sounded interesting, but I ended up not really liking it at all. I didn’t manage to connect with Lily at all (although some of the supporting characters were likeable enough), and the plot seemed to lack any kind of direction. Basically the whole book felt like pointless filler between the introduction and the conclusion.1 starJennifer L. Armentrout//OnyxOnyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The second book in the Lux series! I loved it! This book was mainly world-building and relationship-development, but it also put together the framework for potentially epic plot in the next book.4 stars

Alan Garner//ElidorL.J. Smith//Dark AngelL.J. Smith//The ChosenMatt Fraction//Little HitsGarth Nix//Lord SundayGarth Nix//SabrielMark Lawrence//Prince of Thorns

At this point in the month, the bout-of-books readathon started, and, in the interest of not repeating myself too much, I’ll link you to the my updates from days 1-3, 4-5 and 6-7, where I’ve talked about most of the books I read. My overall ratings for the books were as follows:

Elidor by Alan Garner3 stars

Dark Angel by L.J. Smith3 stars

The Chosen by L.J. Smith4 stars

Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits by Matt Fraction4 stars

Lord Sunday by Garth Nix3 stars

Sabriel by Garth Nix5 stars

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence3 stars

Jennifer L. Armentrout//OpalNext up, I read Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The third book in the Lux  series, and a much more plotty entry than the previous two. With all the main relationships established, and the framework for the plot laid down, this book was absolutely epic, and I loved it.4 starsRick Riordan//Percy Jackson and the Greek GodsPercy Jackson & the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan. I just had a really strong craving for Percy Jackson book, and in the absence of the new Heroes of Olympus book, I turned to Percy Jackson & the Greek Gods. Which was not a mistake at all – this book was hilarious. I particularly liked the chapters on Hades and Persephone, and the ones on Kronos and Rhea, Gaia and Ouranos, and Dionysus. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite so much sympathy towards Hades. He’s such an adorable character in this book!4 starsJennifer L. Armentrout//OriginOrigin by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This is the last book I managed to read this month (and I actually only finished it a couple of minutes before I started writing this). I can’t really say much about this book without spoiling major plot points, but needless to say it was amazing. Probably my favourite entry in the series so far.4 stars