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

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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.

October Wrap-Up

Another slightly slow reading month for me, though thankfully I feel like my reading slump is drawing to a close, helped along by some community reading events that I really enjoyed (the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon & the Library Scavenger Hunt, as well as a readalong with some of my friends). 🙂 I’m looking forward to the books I’m planning on reading in November, too – though I’m sure that NaNoWriMo (which I am attempting for the third time) will significantly cut into my reading time. ^^’ Anyway, in total this month, I managed to read 5 novels, 2 graphic novels, and 2 short/single-issue comics.

Kate Beaton//Step Aside, PopsStep Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. The follow-up to Hark! A Vagrant, which collects several more hilarious comics from Beaton’s webcomic of the same name. Some of my favourites in this volume include: The Nancy Drew book cover interpretations, Liszt and Chopin, the Wuthering Heights parodies, and many, many others.4 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 5Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan. The latest instalment of the Saga series – an epic space odyssey comic that follows a couple from two warring races, on the run from both of their respective societies in order to protect themselves and their daughter. Obviously, since this is the fifth volume, I can’t say much about the plot, but this is probably the best volume yet. 😀5 starsRick Riordan//The Red PyramidThe Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. The first book in the Kane Chronicles series, which follows Sadie and Carter Kane on their journey to defeat the evil god Set, and hopefully rescue their father along the way (and get mixed up in a lot of Egyptian magical messes). It’s tempting to say that this book felt a bit like a less-good version of Percy Jackson, because at times it did, and it’s difficult to look at the two series separately when Riordan is constantly trying to push the idea that they’re not fiction… Speaking of which, this book is written as if it’s been transcribed from a recording, which I wouldn’t have minded, if we’d been allowed to forget it for more than a couple of pages at a time, but Sadie and Carter were constantly interrupting each other, which made the narrative kind of choppy. The characters were also a little lackluster, and while Sadie seemed to come into her own towards the end of the book, Carter remained a bit “meh” the whole way through. (This all sounds very negative, doesn’t it? I did like this book, but it was definitely trying too hard to replicate everything that made Percy Jackson so great, and feels a little forced as a result. It’s a little hard to go back to after reading the Heroes of Olympus books – where Riordan did away with most of the gimmicky stuff – but if you manage to get through the first part of the book, I wager you’ll enjoy the result.)3 starsRainbow Rowell//Carry OnSally Slater//PaladinAt this point, the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon took over, for which I read two books: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and Paladin by Sally Slater (only the former of which was actually on my readathon TBR ^^’ ). I’ve written a mini-review for each of them, which you can read by clicking on their covers.5+ stars4 starsJoanne M. Harris//The Gospel of LokiThe Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. A re-telling of the legends of the Norse god Loki, as told by Loki himself, which was unfortunately not as good as I was hoping it would be (though, to be fair, my expectations were quite high). That said, I did enjoy it, and I have written a full review explaining my issues here. I read this book alongside Chloë from SSJTimeLord and Her Books and another (non-blogger) friend, and it was a really fun thing to do. More readalongs hopefully to come. 🙂3 starsPaul Dowswell//Sektion 20Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell. My Library Scavenger Hunt pick for October, which follows a teenager called Alex who lives in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I’ve written a mini-review of this book, which you can read here, if you’re interested, but – long story short – it’s not a book I’d recommend.2 starsHanna K//Adventure Time 2015 SpoooktacularAdventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular by Hanna K. A cute one-shot comic that follows Marceline and Schwabl, her adorable dog, as they explore the world that Marceline comes from. This apparently ties in to a new Marceline mini-series that’s going to be released soon, but even on its own (and even to someone like me who hasn’t read or watched much Adventure Time before), it’s a really great story, with some beautiful art.5 starsThe Fabulous Adventures of a Gallant Gentleman by Emma Vieceli. A short comic told mostly in pictures, about a man living (or possibly just camping) in the Antarctic, who sets out one day to find a cup of tea, and is helped along the way by penguins, seals, and a yeti! Another adorable read; it’s amazing to think that this whole thing was drawn in just a day! 😮5 stars