July Wrap-Up

July is over, and I’ve read a truly surprising amount! I think I can safely say that I’m now out of my minor reading slump (hopefully for good!). In all, I managed to read 9 novels, and two short stories last month, and although there were a couple of duds in the mix, most of them were really enjoyable! 😀 Here’s what I thought of them:

Melissa Marr//Ink ExchangeInk Exchange by Melissa Marr. The follow up to Wicked Lovely, which I enjoyed but didn’t think was particularly wonderful. In fact, I mainly read that book because I thought this one sounded interesting when I stumbled across a second-hand copy at work. 😉 Luckily, my book-sense has yet to lead me astray; Ink Exchange was a big improvement on its predecessor. The story follows Aislinn’s friend Leslie, who is struggling to deal with her often-absent father and her abusive brother, and – the cherry on top – catches the eye of Irial, King of the Dark Court of Faerie. Naturally, the plot of this book was a lot darker and more serious, but I also felt that the main characters were much more relatable and enjoyable to read than Aislinn & Keenan were. The love triangle in this book, too, was a lot more palatable than the one in Wicked Lovely, since (despite the less-than-altruistic reasons for Irial’s interest in Leslie) there seemed to be a lot more genuine affection between the three of them; right up to the end, I had no idea who Leslie would decide to be with (if anyone).4 starsPatrick Rothfuss//Slow Regard of Silent ThingsThe Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. A novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe, which follows Auri about her strange, everyday life. This story seems to have sparked a lot of controversy with Rothfuss’ fans – they either love it or hate it – but I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed it! Not much happens in the story, there’s no dialogue whatsoever, and Auri is the only character who appears, but I loved the atmosphere that Rothfuss was able to create, and the insight into Auri’s mind (and I suspect that she is much cleverer than she appears to be), and how the inanimate objects around Auri really seemed like living, feeling things.4 starsKitty Aldridge//A Trick I Learned from Dead MenA Trick I Learned from Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge. A short-ish novel that follows a young man who’s training as an undertaker while supporting his deaf brother and depressed stepfather. This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for July, so I have a mini-review of it up already. 🙂2 starsSimone Elkeles//Perfect ChemistryPerfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. A romance between a teenager called Brittany who – due to some problems at home – feels the need to always be seen as perfect, and Alex, a classmate of hers from a dangerous part of town, who joined a gang in order to get protection for his family. I downloaded this mostly on a whim, and regretted it a bit afterwards, since I’ve heard very mixed things about the series, but I actually really enjoyed it. Sure, it’s incredibly cheesy in places, and there were bits of Alex and Brittany’s dialogue that came across as laughably unrealistic, and there was a 23-years-later epilogue that really annoyed me (as unnecessary last-minute flash-forwards always do)… but it was also a lot of fun to read, and pretty well-written. I don’t know if I’m likely to pick up the rest of the series, but I don’t regret reading this one, at least.3 stars

Before I could finish anything else, Booktubeathon came along! I managed to read a grand total of five books over the course of the readathon (which is pretty good, if I do say so myself, especially considering how busy I was that week), all of which I’ve written mini-reviews for – you can read them by clicking on the covers:

Junot Díaz//The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Franny Billingsley//The Folk Keeper Sabaa Tahir//An Ember in the Ashes Brandon Sanderson//Perfect State Bram Stoker//Dracula

Neil Gaiman//NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman. A fantastic novel about a man who, after finding an injured young woman on the side of the road and deciding to help her, gets dragged into the mysterious world of London Below, where people end up when they fall through the cracks of society. In an effort to reclaim his life, he ends up going on an adventure with Door (the aforementioned young woman), who’s trying to solve the mystery of her family’s murder. I loved absolutely everything about this book: The memorable characters, the beautiful writing, the whole world of London Below (which was incredibly bizarre, but also managed to make an odd sort of sense). The way that the story progressed was quite similar to Stardust, and I therefore found the ending a little predictable, but I was so enchanted that I didn’t even mind.5 stars

Abbi Glines//Until Friday NightUntil Friday Night by Abbi Glines. The first book in The Field Party series, which is a romance between a football player called West, who’s struggling to deal with his father’s cancer, and a girl called Maggie, who hasn’t spoken since her mother died. I’ve written a full review of this book, where you can read all my (numerous) thoughts about the story and characters, etc. – you can find it here.2 stars

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#BookTubeAThon 2016: Update 2 & Mini-Review

Franny Billingsley//The Folk KeeperJUST FINISHED: The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley.

Corin Stonewall is a Folk Keeper; he protects the people in the orphanage where he lives, and the houses surrounding it, from the Folk – sinister creatures that sicken crops and livestock, rot food and play awful tricks on people if they’re not appeased with gifts and sacrifices. And Corin also has a secret: He’s not really Corin-the-Folk-Keeper, he’s Corinna, a girl who’s taught herself a few Folk Keepers’ tricks in order to gain some semblance of power over her own life. But when a dying man comes looking for her at the orphanage – asking for her by her real name! – and takes her away with him, all her carefully maintained layers of disguise are in danger of falling away.

While I can’t say that I loved this book, I did find it very interesting. Some good things: It was written in an eerie, haunting style that reminded me a bit of David Almond’s work (one of my favourite authors), which made it a very atmospheric read. There were also a couple of characters that I really liked, specifically Finian the lord who wants to be a sailor, and Taffy the deaf dog who so insistently tries to befriend Corinna. The transformation from Corin to Corinna was also quite remarkable, and I enjoyed how the completely separate entities that they initially seemed to be managed to gradually blend together – for such a short book, Corinna had some amazing character growth.

That said, I wasn’t a huge fan of Corinna for most of the first half of the book (she gave off some serious young Voldemort vibes), and was often so childish and petty that I had to consciously remind myself that, no, she wasn’t a petulant ten-year-old, but a teenager, and almost considered an adult in the story’s setting. Most of the book’s cast was unmemorable, and completely faded into the background – even the main villain! (The first few times he appeared, I kept muddling him up with one of the other characters who Corinna arbitrarily disliked.) And lastly, I would really like to have seen more of the Folk, who were made a prominent part of the setting, but weren’t much involved in the plot (beyond it’s premise).

In short: I did enjoy this book (mainly for its writing), but I probably wouldn’t read it again.3 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Sleepy… And I still need to pack! 😦

Books Completed: 2
Pages Read: 497
Challenges Completed: 1

January Haul

I’m trying to cut back on book buying at the moment, which is why my January stack is considerably smaller than some of the others that you’ve seen. But my self-control is far from flawless, so I’ve still managed to accumulate a few new books to tell you about. A few of these I bought with leftover Christmas money; the rest I just couldn’t hold myself back from… 😉February Haul

1) Flambards and The Edge of the Cloud by K.M. Peyton. These are the pretty new editions of the first two books in the Flambards series, which follow an orphaned girl named Christina who moves to the countryside to live with her uncle and two cousins. I’ve already read (& own) the whole series, but I’ve been wanting to replace my ugly old copies for a while. The last two books (Flambards in Summer and Flambards Divided) will hopefully be released in this edition later this year.

2) The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley. A book I know basically nothing about, but it looked interesting. Presumably it has something to do with folk-tales (which I’ve been rather in the mood for recently).

3) A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. A romance novel told from several different outsider perspectives. I’ve been wanting to read this since I found out that one of the narrators is a squirrel, but, again, I don’t know too much else about it.

4) The Girl of Fire & Thorns Stories by Rae Carson. This is a bind-up of three novellas set in the Fire & Thorns universe. I read the whole Fire & Thorns trilogy late last year, and loved it, so I’m looking forward to reading these. The three stories are called The Shadow CatsThe Shattered Mountain and The King’s Guard.

5) Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. An apparently brilliant story about an unexpected friendship between two boys. I stumbled across this quite by accident at the Oxfam bookshop, and decided to pick it up because (it was incredibly cheap, and) it’s the Little Book Club pick for January and February.

6) 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. This is basically a creative writing exercise book, with 642 different prompts. I decided to get this in hopes that it would get me back into the habit of writing again. It hasn’t worked yet, but I do keep picking the book up and flipping through it to look at all the different prompts, and they look pretty fun, so hopefully I’ll get there in time. 🙂