Summer Catch-Up

Seeing such a long list of books makes me much more satisfied with my reading than I have been for my last few wrap-ups (/catch-ups), though I know it’s a slightly artificial satisfaction (but not entirely! Booktubeathon meant that I read a lot more this summer than I would ordinarily have); three months naturally results in more books read than one, after all… 😅

Also, I find myself liking this new format. It’s kind of labour-intensive (I had to completely re-code it last night, which was a chore), but I expect that it will become less so as I get more used to it. And it looks very tidy, which I appreciate. 😊

FAVOURITE OF THE SEASON*

LIBRARY SCAVENGER HUNT PICKS

29748925 Ann Leckie//Ancillary Mercy

JUNE

[REVIEW]

mary beard//women and power

JULY

[REVIEW]

robert harris//fatherland

AUGUST

[REVIEW]

OTHER BOOKS I REVIEWED

Adam Silvera//History Is All You Left Me

[REVIEW]

Catherynne M. Valente//The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

[REVIEW]

sarah prineas//ash and bramble

[REVIEW]

jack london//White Fang

[REVIEW]

Kiersten White//Bright We Burn

[REVIEW]

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//Obsidio

[SERIES REVIEW]

BOOKS I DIDN’T REVIEW (INDIVIDUALLY)

29748925Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Steve West]

The first book in a new series of the same name, which follows the orphaned Lazlo Strange, who has always been fascinated by the lost city of Weep, which was one day erased from the world, as if by magic, leaving few who even remembered that it was ever more than a myth. I liked Daughter of Smoke and Bone a lot, but this may be my favourite thing that Laini Taylor has written so far. I really loved both Lazlo and Sarai (the book’s second protagonist), and the supporting characters were all incredibly memorable, despite there being quite a few of them. The conflict at the centre of the book was fascinating, too, and the world-building amazing. I’m very much looking forward to returning to Weep, and am glad that I only have a month more to wait for Muse of Nightmares, which is unsurprisingly my most anticipated autumn release – and which I will definitely also be listening to, rather than reading in print, as Steve West’s performance of Strange the Dreamer was fantastic.5 stars

35037401Dragon Age: Knight Errant by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir. [COMIC; Illustrators: Fernando Heinz Furukawa & Michael Atiyeh]

A brief (and self-contained) story set in the Dragon Age world, about Vaea, the elven squire to drunken knight Ser Aaron Hawthorne – and, unbeknownst to her master, a thief. I’ll admit that I’m inclined to enjoy every foray into this world, regardless of length (or even story or writing quality), but Knight Errant surpassed all my expectations. It’s very short, but did a great job of making me care about Vaea and Ser Aaron, the two main characters (who are original to this comic), and although the plot is simple, it’s also solid, and a lot of fun. Varric and Sebastian from the games also had fairly significant roles, and it was great to see them both again (as well as Charter, who made a brief appearance). 😊 In terms of timeline, this takes place after Inquisition, but is not directly connected to the events of that game.4 stars

8146139The Call of the Wild by Jack London.

The tale of a domestic dog called Buck, who’s stolen from his owners in California and taken all the way to the Yukon, where he lives a much less comfortable life as a sled-dog, but is drawn to the wild places that exist just beyond the borders of his new life. This was a really interesting read! I picked it up a few days before Booktubeathon, because I was hoping to read White Fang for one of the challenges, and mistakenly thought that the two were directly connected, but I actually ended up liking this one a bit more, as the pacing was much more consistent, and the story a little gratuitously violent… Buck’s life in the North is a harsh one, but London doesn’t dwell on the brutality of it quite so much as in White Fang. Still, for such a short book, it packs a huge emotional punch.4 stars

Sabaa Tahir//An Ember in the AshesAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrators: Aysha Kala & Jack Farrar]

An excellent, Roman Empire-inspired fantasy following two leads: Laia, a teenage girl who becomes a slave in order to spy for the Scholar resistance, and Elias, a Martial soldier who wants only to be free of the Empire. I first read (and reviewed) this book a couple of years ago, and my feelings on it haven’t changed in the slightest. 💕 The audiobook was a new experience for me, but also a good one; both narrators did an excellent job, though I feel like the communication between them might not have been particularly great, as there were several words that they each pronounced differently. It wasn’t usually too jarring, and the most significant pronunciation disagreement was corrected after a few chapters, but it’s something that really should have been addressed by an editor or director (or whoever is in charge of voice work) before recording… especially when it’s the name of one of the main characters!5 stars

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//ObsidioObsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff.

The final book in The Illuminae Files, which introduces two new protagonists: Asha, Kady’s cousin who was left behind on Kerenza IV when the majority of the population fled, and her ex-boyfriend-from-before-Kerenza, Rhys, who is now a technician for the invading BeiTech forces. As the conclusion to the trilogy, the plot of this book was much less self-contained than the other two, and it wrapped up the plot really nicely, and made for an incredibly powerful ending – though at the expense of some development for Asha and Rhys, who had to share their screen time with the series’ previous four protagonists (or five if you include AIDAN). However, I do think that they were both very well-fleshed out characters regardless, and the Kerenza-based perspective that they both provided to the story was essential. The pacing of the story was fast and tense, and only became more so as the stakes got higher and higher towards the end… and although I didn’t like this book quite as much as Illuminae, it was a near thing. A truly great ending to this fantastic series!5 stars

Jane Austen//Pride and PrejudicePride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Lindsay Duncan]

The classic tale of Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy, who meet at a ball and absolutely do not hit it off. 😉 This is one of my favourite books, and always a joy to re-read, but I decided to buy the audiobook to listen to with some friends on our recent pilgrimage-of-sorts to Pemberley! (Or rather, Lyme Park, which played the part of Pemberley’s exterior in the 1995 BBC adaptation, i.e. the best adaptation.) There are several different audio versions of this book, so much deliberation went into the choice of this one in particular, and I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed! Lindsay Duncan’s performance was incredible, and I especially liked her take on Mrs. Bennet. 🎶5+ stars

*Not including re-reads.

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November Wrap-Up

A productive month! And one that included a lot of books that I was very excited to read. 😀 In total, I read 8 novels, 2 novellas, and 3 graphic novels, which is more than I’ve read in a single month in quite some time (or so it feels, anyway). I’m also definitely out of my reading slump at this point, and I’ve been enjoying getting back into my books~ ❤ Here’s what I read in November:

Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir//The Avalon Chronicles vol. 1The Avalon Chronicles, Volume 1: Once in a Blue Moon by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir. The first in a graphic novel series that follows Aeslin, a girl from our world who is one day transported via a magical book to Avalon – the setting of a story that her parents used to read to her as a child, and where she has an epic destiny waiting for her. This book was super, super-fun! The characters are all great, and the art (by Emma Vieceli) is beautiful – and I’m enjoying the story even more than I was expecting to (which was quite a lot already)!4 starsNunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir//The Avalon Chronicles, vol. 2The Avalon Chronicles, Volume 2: The Girl & the Unicorn by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir. The second instalment, in which Aeslin gets serious about her destiny, Cassidy & Will are awesome, and a whole load of game-changing info gets dropped. I’m really, really excited to see what’s going to happen next! 😀4 starsMargaret Atwood//The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The bleak and oddly dispassionate tale of Offred, a Handmaid living in the early years of the Republic of Gilead, whose only purpose is to conceive a child. It’s a story I’ve been meaning to read for some time, and it definitely didn’t disappoint – the story is wonderfully creepy and mysterious, and piecing together the origins of the Republic of Gilead, and how Offred ended up where she is, is incredibly interesting. The historical notes section at the end (written in the form of a speech delivered by a fictional Professor of Gileadean Studies, or some such field) served as a really great epilogue to Offred’s rather open-ended narrative, answering a lot of the questions I had about Gilead and about Offred herself, while leaving other threads of the story appropriately unresolved… much in the way of life itself. A ponderous read – I suspect I’ll still be thinking about it for some time.4 starsEmma Vieceli//Dragon Heir Reborn vol. 1Dragon Heir Reborn, Volume 1 by Emma Vieceli. A fantasy adventure comic which follows the four Dragon Heirs – people fated to carry the different aspects of the sacred dragon Spiratu – as they come together to prepare for the Rite of Transcendence. The art is beautiful, and the story intriguing, if a little confusing at the beginning. It suffers, however, from a rather overcrowded cast: There are five main characters, as well as a few other important supporting characters, and they and the main villain are all introduced in reasonably quick succession, without being developed much (though they all seem fairly likeable – villain excepted!). The setting is similarly flawed, as the characters seem to jump rapidly from place to place, without ever exploring or explaining the culture of their world much. It does show some promise, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story is going.3 starsMaria V. Snyder//Poison StudyPoison Study by Maria V. Snyder. The first book in the Study trilogy, which makes up the first part of the Chronicles of Ixia high fantasy series. This book follows Yelena, who’s been imprisoned for murder, but on the day that she’s due to be executed, she is instead offered the chance to become the Commander’s (the leader of Ixia’s military dictatorship) new food taster. I loved this story so much: The characters were wonderful, the plot was gripping, and I was fascinated by Ixia’s social structure – which could very easily have had a dystopian bent, except for the fact that it was actually stable and functional. Given that this is a YA (or at least YA-ish) novel, I also spent a lot of time waiting for Obvious-Love-Interest-Anon to show up, but I was really pleasantly surprised with the romance that Snyder decided on, and with the way that it played out. Would definitely recommend. 😀5 starsFrances Hardinge//Cuckoo SongCuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge. My Library Scavenger Hunt pick for this month; a mystery/horror story that follows a young girl who crawls out of a river one day with no memory of how she came to be in it in the first place, and finds that she’s no longer the person she remembers being before. I really enjoyed this book, and have written a mini-review of it here, for your reading pleasure~ 😉4 starsMaria V. Snyder//Magic StudyMagic Study by Maria V. Snyder. The sequel to Poison Study, in which Yelena finds herself in Sitia. Still very enjoyable, though not quite so much as the first book, which is a shame. The social contrast between Ixia and Sitia was really interesting, and there were several cool new characters who were introduced in this book – I really liked Yelena’s relationships with both Leif and Cahil, though I felt that Cahil’s character development took a serious turn for the worse towards the end… The book’s only major flaw was that Sitia is such a big place, with lots of different cultures and traditions – the magicians of the Magician’s Keep, the jungle-dwelling Zaltanas, and the Sandseeds of the Avibian Plains, as well as various other breakaway groups – and they were all introduced in such rapid succession that it was difficult to really get a feel for them, or to get attached to any of the new characters.3 stars

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone illustrated Robin Hobb//Assassin's Apprentice Jandy Nelson//I'll Give You the Sun

At this point in the month, the Anti-Bullying Readathon came around. It lasted a full week, during which I managed to read three books that featured bullying: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (illustrated edition) by J.K. RowlingAssassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. You can see my thoughts on each of those books by looking at my #AntiBullyReads wrap up.

5 stars 5 stars 4 stars

Maria V. Snyder//Fire StudyFire Study by Maria V. Snyder. The third book in the Chronicles of Ixia series, and the conclusion to the Study trilogy, wherein Yelena has to confront the Daviians, and negotiate a peace between Ixia and Sitia. The beginning of this book was quite frustrating, in much the same way that Magic Study was, but thankfully it picked up towards the middle of the book, and the story ended on a high point. Definitely an improvement on Magic Study, though still lacking the spark that made Poison Study so fantastic. I posted a full review of this trilogy (and the two related novellas) yesterday, which you can read here.4 starsMaria V. Snyder//Assassin StudyAssassin Study by Maria V. Snyder. A short story set between Poison Study and Magic Study, which follows Valek as he hunts down an assassin who’s after Yelena. This was a fun, quick read, and it was interesting to see Valek’s perspective, but not really a necessary addition to the main story.3 starsMaria V. Snyder//Power StudyPower Study by Maria V. Snyder. Another novella, this time following Ari and Janco after the events of Fire Study, when they return to Ixia and are faced with a talented but suspicious new recruit. I liked this one a bit better than the last, and Ari and Janco’s banter was very entertaining. Both of these stories can be read for free on Snyder’s website.3 stars

October Haul

Once again, I managed to accumulate quite a lot of books in October – and most of them were new releases, which is unusual for me. There’ve just been so many books released recently that I really, really wanted to read… 😳 Hopefully my book-buying will slow down for a while after this, but for now, here’s my October haul:

October haul

1) Magnus Chase & the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. The first book in the new Norse mythology series, Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard. I’ve been excited for this book since I heard it was going to be a thing, and although I’m not really in the mood for more Percy & co. at the moment, I’ve heard really fantastic things from those who have already read it. 😀

2) Percy Jackson & the Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan. A book I put off buying because of my (now failed) book-buying ban… I was thinking of waiting for this to come out in paperback, simply because I don’t have all that much space left on my bookshelves, but eventually I decided I’d rather have it match my (hardback) copy of Percy Jackson & the Greek Gods

3) Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. The new illustrated edition! 😀 Need I say more?

4) The Princess & the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux. The only book in this batch that I bought on impulse, and don’t really know anything about. I believe it’s a pirate book, and since I found it second hand, it was super-cheap. I was mostly drawn to it because of the swashbuckling that I assume it contains. Who doesn’t love swashbuckling? Not me. 😛

5) The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. The second book in the Magisterium series, which I’ve been excited for since I read The Iron Trial this time last year. This one follows Cal and his friends in their second year of magical schooling, but I know little more about it than that.

6) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. A kind-of companion novel to Fangirl (the characters in this are the ones that Cath was writing fanfiction about in that book), in which Simon Snow returns for his last year at Watford School of Magicks, and is tasked with having to save the magical world. I’ve already read this one – you can read my review of it here.

7) Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. The first book in the Lumatere Chronicles, a YA high fantasy series that I’ve heard really incredible (but vague) things about. I picked this up mostly as a pick-me-up on a particularly rubbish day, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet… 😦 Soon, hopefully.

8) Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan. The most recent instalment in this amazing space-odyssey graphic novel series, and (in my opinion) the best one yet. I will say no more, because spoilers.

9) Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. A second collection of short comics from Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant web-series. I’ve finished reading this one, too, and it may even be better than the first book (which is a difficult thing to achieve)… There was a little less history in this volume, though (or at least, less history that I didn’t understand), and a bit more literature, so that probably accounts for it. 🙂


And now, as a little extra, I have an additional mini-haul for you, since on Halloween morning, my cousin and I decided to drop in on the Cambridge Comic Art Festival at my local library. As per usual, I bought more than I probably should have (and most of it from the same artist’s stall), but I regret nothing. I’ve read all of these already, so if you’re curious about my thoughts, then you can take a look at my October wrap-up, and, when it’s up, my November one.

Cambridge Comic Art Festival haul

1) Adventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular by Hanna K. A short one-shot comic that follows Marceline from the Adventure Time cartoon series, and an adorable dog.

2) The Fabulous Adventures of a Gallant Gentleman by Emma Vieceli. Another one-shot comic, this one about an Antarctic explorer who wanders off in search of tea (as one does). A really, really fantastic read.

3) Dragon Heir Reborn, Volume 1 by Emma Vieceli. A high fantasy comic that follows a group of young men who carry inside them aspects of the dragon Spiratu’s soul.

4) The Avalon Chronicles, Volume 1: Once in a Blue Moon, & Volume 2: The Girl & the Unicorn by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir. The first two books in a(nother) fantasy series, about a girl from our world who one day gets sucked into a book that her parents used to read to her as a child. The art in this one is also by Emma Vieceli, and it’s beautiful.

Finally, since I spent so much money at Emma Vieceli’s stall ( 😳 ), she also gave me a sampler of her new webcomic (with Malin Ryden), Breaks, for free. And it may only be a sampler, but it’s pretty high-quality, and I’m really liking what I’ve read of the story so far, so I’ll be hanging onto it. 🙂 If you’ve a mind, you can read the webcomic here – it’s a not-so-cute contemporary romance series.