Upcoming Releases: Spring 2019

While the winter months provided a veritable feast of books that I wanted very much to get my hands on, there weren’t many obvious choices for my spring list. On the other hand, there are quite a few books coming out in the next few months that bear looking out for, for one reason or another. So, here are my most anticipated releases of March, April & May:

[All dates are taken from Amazon UK unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 24/2/2019.]

World Book Day books! (7th March)

World Book Day this year will be on 7th March, and, as usual, ten short stories will be released to coincide with it – though, from the website, it looks as though they’ll actually be available a little in advance, from 28th February. Check out the link above for an overview of all ten books, but the ones I’ll be picking up will be Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo by Rick Riordan, Everdark by Abi Elphinstone, Snap by Patrice Lawrence, and Nought Forever by Malorie Blackman. Excitement level: 6/10

The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab (12th March)

The story of a girl called Lexi, and a strange boy who comes to her town just as children begin to go missing in the night. This was actually Victoria Schwab’s debut novel, but it’s being re-released since it’s been out of print for quite a while (and undoubtedly due to the huge success of her more recent Villains and Shades of Magic series). It looks like it’s going to be a spooky, atmospheric read, so I may well try picking it up a little later in the year (perhaps around October! 😉). Excitement level: 6/10

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan (18th April)

I’ve been wanting to read something by Ian McEwan for a while now, but in a very remote, non-urgent way, and have always assumed that Atonement would be the one I’d gravitate towards… until I stumbled across this book, and realised that it would be focusing on (amongst other things, I’m sure) the question of what makes humans human and artificial intelligence not, which fascinates me. Story-wise, what I know is that it’s set in an alternative 1980s London, and tells the story of a couple that purchase one of the first synthetic humans and program his personality, leading to an ethically-questionable love triangle. Excitement level: 8/10

Honourable Mentions:

  • Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (in paperback; 7th March) – the third book in the Wayfarers series*
  • Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski (in English; 7th March) – a prequel to the Witcher series**
  • The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang (2nd May) – the sequel to The Poppy War
  • Queenslayer by Sebastien de Castell (2nd May) – the fifth book in the Spellslinger series

*I talked about Record of a Spaceborn Few in my Summer 2018 post, when it had its original hardback release.
**I also talked about Season of Storms in my Spring 2018 post, but it was either delayed, or I managed to misread the date… 😓

Advertisements

#AntiBullyReads: Info & TBR!

Anti-Bullying Week will shortly be upon us, which means that it’s time for the Anti-Bullying Readathon: A now-yearly event hosted by Sarah Churchill, in which the goal is to read as many books that contain bullying (in any way, and with any level of severity) as possible – which, to be fair, is pretty much every YA book ever ^^’ – in order to raise awareness. Here are some informational links for your perusal:

For me, since I don’t really want to re-read anything at the moment (with one exception that you’ll see shortly), putting together a TBR meant trawling through that list for anything that looked remotely interesting / that I’d heard good things about, and – with respect to, well, what I actually have access to, and to what I’m in the mood for at the moment – I eventually managed to put together this tentative list:

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone illustrated1) Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone (illustrated edition) by J.K. Rowling. The aforementioned re-read, though I’ve never read this edition before, so it’s quite a different experience. I’m already about halfway through this, and taking the time to savour its awesomeness, but hopefully I’ll be reading some more over the course of the readathon.

Robin Hobb//Assassin's Apprentice2) Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. All I know about this book is that it’s a fantasy, and it apparently contains assassins. It was on the list, though, so presumably there’s some bullying in there, too! Fantasy is pretty much all I’ve wanted to read recently, as well, and this is conveniently a book that I already own, and hadn’t got round to reading yet. 😀

And after these two, I’m not so sure. I’ve reserved three more books at my local library to give myself some options, but a couple of them have to be ordered in, so I’m not sure if they’ll arrive in time, but hopefully I’ll be able to get to one or two of them before the week’s up… They are:

Lauren Oliver//Before I Fall Jandy Nelson//I'll Give You the Sun Malorie Blackman//Pig-Heart Boy

May Wrap Up

For me, May was a really great reading month, especially for graphic novels, and for library books (most of which I’ve had checked out for way too long without picking them up… 😳 ). I’m going to Iceland near the beginning of June, and I don’t know how much I’ll be able to read while I’m away, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep this momentum going! Overall (including the #CRUSHYOURTBR readathon), I read 11 novels, 7 comics/graphic novels, and 10 short stories, and I also listened to 1 audiobook. 😀

Melissa Grey//The Girl at MidnightThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey. The first book in a new series, which follows a human pickpocket called Echo who’s been raised as part of a hidden world, where there’s an ancient war going on between two species: The bird-like Avicen, and the dragon-like Drakharin. The story’s plot centres around something called the firebird – which has been prophesised to be able to end the war – and Echo’s search for it, with a rather motley crew along for the ride. I really enjoyed this book: The story was really solid, and the characters were amazing (my favourites were Dorian and Caius). 😀 It was fast-paced enough to keep me gripped, but slow enough to allow for proper character development. My only real problem with it was the portrayal of Rowan – he never really felt like a viable love interest for Echo, since he only appeared in three or four scenes… But then again, that was probably for the best, since the book teetered on the edge of being over-crowded…4 stars

Jay Asher//13 Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. A story about the suicide of a girl called Hannah, told through the cassette tapes that she left behind, sent out to the people she holds responsible for the events leading up to her death. We hear the tapes alongside Clay, one of the people on her list. I’d been on the edge about whether or not to read this for a while, but I decided to pick it up as an audiobook after reading wander-ful worlds’ review, and I’m really glad I did – both the narrators (who played Clay and Hannah) were excellent, and it seemed really fitting to be listening to the story, since so much of it was about listening. However, a lot of the time while I was listening to it, I felt that it was really written more to make a point than to tell a story, and consequently the story itself wasn’t that brilliant. That said, it did make its point really well, and it was very thought-provoking, particularly on the topic of gossip, and how actions that you think are insignificant can actually have a powerful effect on other people’s lives.3 starsBill Willingham//Fables vol. 2Fables Volume 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham. This volume followed Snow White and Rose Red on a visit to the Fabletown Farm (which is home to the Fable who can’t blend in with human society), where a revolution is brewing. It was a great introduction to some of the non-human Fables, like the Three Little Pigs and Reynard the Fox, and the obvious allusions to George Orwell’s Animal Farm were fun. There’s quite a few character deaths in this one, though, so it’s probably not one for the squeamish. 😛4 starsJulie Kagawa//RogueRogue by Julie Kagawa. The sequel to Talon, featuring Ember now on the run from both Talon and the Order of St. George! The story was really action-packed, and the character development was great as well – I particularly liked how Ember seemed to grow up a lot towards the end of the book, and I enjoyed getting to know Riley a lot better. Dante’s character is still a little difficult to pin down, but I remain hopeful, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book! 😀4 stars

Tamora Pierce//The Will of the EmpressThe Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce. The first of the Circle Reforged companion books (though chronologically it takes place after Battle Magic), which is part of the Emelan universe and follows on from the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series. These books follow a group of young mages – Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar – as they grow up and face the various different challenges that life has to offer. I first read this book several years ago, but I’d been meaning to re-read it for the longest time, so I finally decided to pick it up~ 😛 And I’m really glad I did! It’s my second favourite of all Tamora Pierce’s books, after Street Magic (which says quite a bit, since that’s probably my favourite book of all time, and Tamora Pierce is my favourite author), and it was just as amazing as I remember it being!5+ stars

Terry Pratchett//MortChuck Dixon & Scott Beatty//Batgirl/Robin: Year OneTamora Pierce//Tortall & Other LandsLaurell K. Hamilton//The HarlequinThese are all the books that I managed to finish for #CRUSHYOURTBR, but I’ve already talked in detail about them in my wrap-up for that readathon, so you should check that out if you’re interested. In order, my overall ratings for each book were:

4 stars  5 stars  3 stars  4 stars

Malorie Blackman//CallumCallum by Malorie Blackman. A brief novella that presents an alternative version of one of the events in Noughts and Crosses: What if Callum and Sephy ran away together when she was captured by the Liberation Militia? It’s been way too long since I read the main books in this series, as I had trouble remembering everything that led up to the beginning of this story… But I still liked it, and I’d definitely recommend it for fans of the Noughts and Crosses series. 🙂3 starsGeoff Johns//Aquaman vol. 2Aquaman Volume 2: The Others by Geoff Johns. It’s been so long since I read the first volume of this series, that I’d forgotten just how amazing it is! This volume gives us some backstory, as a treasure hunter called Black Manta is hunting down members of Aquaman’s old team in order to steal the royal Atlantean relics that they possess.5 starsGeoff Johns//Aquaman vol. 3Aquaman Volume 3: Throne of Atlantis by Geoff Johns. This volume covered the whole of the Throne of Atlantis crossover with Justice League, where Atlantis attacks the surface world in retaliation against a missile strike that accidentally detonated in the sea. Once again, it had a well thought-out plotline, great characters, and amazing art. This is definitely one of the best titles that’s come out of the DC in recent years.5 starsJonathan Stroud//The Ring of SolomonThe Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. The prequel to the Bartimaeus trilogy, this book follows the djinni Bartimaeus’ adventures in ancient Jerusalem, where he is enslaved to one of King Solomon’s magicians. The second protagonist is a young Sheban guardswoman called Asmira, who has been sent by her queen to Jerusalem in order to assassinate Solomon and steal his ring (a powerful magical object that seems to grant wishes). This book suffered from the lack of Nathaniel (understandably so, since it’s set several thousand years before his birth), but thankfully Asmira grew on me a lot – I certainly liked her a lot better than Kitty! – and the story, while slow to get started, really picked up once Asmira and Bartimaeus crossed paths. My favourite part was, the footnotes in Bartimaeus’ chapters, where his sarcasm really shone through… 😛 I went into this book fully prepared to find it lacklustre, so I was very pleasantly surprised! 😀4 stars

Robin McKinley//BeautyBeauty by Robin McKinley. A pretty straight-up retelling of Beauty & the Beast, but done much better than most of the re-imaginings I’ve come across lately (e.g. Breath of Life and Dragon Rose by Christine Pope, or even Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge…). Beauty (who is actually called Honour 😛 ) was a wonderful character, and I loved the slow, realistic development of her relationship with Beast. Her family were really great, too, and Beast’s invisible servants made me chuckle. My only real complaint is that the ending was rather quick – several big events took place in the space of a few pages, and then the book just ended… 😦4 starsDanica Novgorodoff//The Undertaking of Lily ChenThe Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff. A graphic novel about a tradition from Northern China in which, when an unmarried man dies, the body of a young woman must be found for him, so that a ghost wedding can take place. The main character in this story is a young man called Deshi, who has been tasked to find a corpse bride for his recently-deceased brother… A really intriguing story, with great characters and a haunting storyline. The only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the character design, but even that I got used to eventually. My favourite thing about this comic was probably the watercolour panels, which were incredibly beautiful.4 starsChristi Caldwell//For the Love of the DukeFor Love of the Duke by Christi Caldwell. A Regency-era romance between Jasper – a Duke who shut himself away after the death of his first wife – and Katherine – a young lady trying to escape from an arranged marriage and her controlling mother. For a bodice-ripper, this was remarkably well-written, with characters that I actually really liked and got quite invested in. It also featured one of the most hilarious (intentionally, I think) proposal scenes I’ve ever read. 😛 Obviously, though, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.4 starsChristi Caldwell//In Need of a DukeIn Need of a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The prequel to For Love of the Duke, which follows Katherine’s older sister Aldora, as she tries to secure herself a comfortable marriage with the Marquess of St. James, and ends up falling for his disgraced younger brother Michael instead… Not quite as good as For the Love of the Duke (naturally, since this was so much shorter), but still a lot of fun.3 starsChristi Caldwell//More than a DukeMore than a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The second book in the Heart of a Duke series, which focuses on Katherine’s twin sister Anne, who persuades Harry, the Earl of Stanhope, to teach her how to win the hand of the Duke of Crawford. This book reminded me a lot of North & South, in that actual words (as opposed to constant teasing) would’ve taken care of most of the conflict in the story… That said, I enjoyed it a lot. The dynamic between Anne and Harry was brilliant, and I appreciated getting to know the girls’ mother a bit better – even if that knowledge only led me to think that she’s a bitter, manipulative harpy. 😛3 starsChristi Caldwell//The Love of a RogueThe Love of a Rogue by Christi Caldwell. The third book in the Heart of a Duke series. This one follows Alex, the best friend of Harry from More than a Duke, who is forced by his brother to be a chaperone for his younger sister, and ends up falling for her best friend Imogen. I really liked Alex in the last book, so I was looking forward to reading this one, and I think that Imogen is probably my favourite of the heroines so far. The Love of a Rogue was a lot of fun to read, but I wish it’d been a bit longer, and that more focus had been put on the strained relationship between Imogen and her sister…3 starsChristi Caldwell//Loved by a DukeLoved by a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The fourth (and final?) book in the Heart of a Duke series, following Auric, the Duke of Crawford (who was the other side character that I really liked in More than a Duke), and Daisy, the sister of his childhood friend who passed away. Probably the best thing about this book is that it the romance wasn’t the only point of the plot – it also dealt heavily with grief, as Auric blames himself for the death of Daisy’s brother. The writing was also pretty solid, and the book was a good length… I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as For Love of the Duke, though, objectively speaking, I think it’s probably the best in the series. They’re all rather similar, to be honest…3 starsMike Richardson//47 Ronin47 Ronin by Mike Richardson. A graphic novel of the (true!) Japanese story of 47 samurai who swore to avenge the death of their lord, Asano, when he was unfairly sentenced to commit seppuku (a form of ritual suicide). It’s definitely a good story, but I think it would have come across better if it had been a bit longer. There were just so many characters that it was difficult to distinguish between them, and only Oishi (Lord Asano’s chief retainer) really stood out from the crowd. That said, I really liked the little epilogue-scene at the end, and the art (by Stan Sakai) was interesting, too, though it took a little while to get used to.3 stars

September Wrap-Up

This September I read 13 books, which isn’t quite as ridiculous as my August total, but still a surprising amount. Most of these I really liked, too, so without further ado…

Prudence Shen//Nothing Can Possibly Go WrongNothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen. I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this book – I expected it to be fun, but it also felt really nostalgic (mainly for this old robot-fighting TV show that I used to be obsessed with). The second half had a very different feeling from the first half, though: It goes from high-school drama to robot war very quickly. There’s overarching emotional things going on with the main character, too, which added a lot to the story, & I really love Faith Erin Hicks’ (the illustrator) art style!

5 stars

Faith Erin Hicks//Friends with BoysFriends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. The story was interesting (it follows a home-schooled girl who’s switching to a normal school for the first time, & there’s also a ghost involved), but the main selling point for me was (the art, and also) the characters, especially Lucy, who is adorable.4 stars

Malorie Blackman//Boys Don't CryBoys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman. A very emotional story, especially in the second half & excellently written (as Malorie Blackman’s books always are). My favourite character was Dante’s brother Adam, but I felt like there was simultaneously too much of him & not enough. I would’ve preferred to have learnt about his problems from Dante’s perspective, rather than having a dual-POV, as most of Adam’s chapters seemed way too short. There’s a sequel/companion (I’m not sure which) out as well, called Heart Break Girl, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere…3 stars

Brian Selznick//The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Beautifully written & drawn, and the constant switching between pictures & words makes nice contrast, without being too jarring. I especially loved the way Professor Alcofrisbas was incorporated at the end (something not mentioned in the movie), explaining the reference to Hugo’s “invention” in the book’s title. Minor characters (i.e. the station master, other shopkeepers, etc.) weren’t quite as sympathetic as in the movie, as we don’t see so much of them.4 stars

Sally Green//Half BadHalf Bad by Sally Green. I don’t have too much to say about this one, since I’ve already written a full review, but I really loved the whole story, & I’d definitely recommend it. 🙂 4 stars

Christine Pope//Dragon RoseDragon Rose by Christine Pope. A nice, unpretentious love story which re-tells the tale of Beauty & the Beast. I really enjoyed it, but I thought the ending was a little rushed, & would’ve preferred it if Rhianne had seen Theran’s cursed-form at least once before breaking the curse. The side-characters were also sadly under-developed, but that’s actually pretty understandably, since the whole premise of the story is that the two main characters are pretty much in isolation the whole time.3 stars

Christine Pope//Ashes of RosesAshes of Roses by Christine Pope. A Cinderella re-telling this time! I loved the characterisation & how the romance developed, and the dual POV was a surprise after Dragon Rose, but I liked reading from Torric’s perspective, too. Plot-wise, there weren’t too many surprises, but waiting for the penny to drop on Ashara’s disguise was somewhat suspenseful, & the conclusion was very satisfying.4 stars

Christine Pope//One Thousand NightsOne Thousand Nights by Christine Pope. This one was pretty fun, but not so good as Ashes of Roses or Dragon Rose. I enjoyed seeing more of the Latter Kingdoms world, but liked Lyarris & Besh much less then previous couples in the series. Some threads of the plotline (like Besh’s daughter) could have been developed further, & it was overall plot-lite (which isn’t always necessarily a problem in romance fiction, but I found Lyarris’ constant whining about Besh not wanting to sleep with her kind of annoying). It probably would also have benefitted from a dual-perspective, as I never really felt that I got to know Besh very well. Also, the Scheherazade aspects were only present in a couple of chapters of the book, & completely not essential to the storyline. Definitely my least-favourite in the series so far.2 stars

Christine Pope//Binding SpellBinding Spell by Christine Pope. In contrast, this was probably my favourite in the series! Lark was a great, interesting heroine, though I wish she’d been a little slower to accept her fate. Kadar was a lot of fun, too, and probably the most realistic of the love interests so far. Their relationship development was very believable, too. I’m not sure which fairytale this is based on, though, or even if it is a re-telling, despite the fact that the other books in this series all seem to be…4 stars

Pale Roses by Michael Moorcock (from The Time Traveller’s Almanac). I’m not too sure what to say about this one. A bizarre story, with characters I didn’t like much… Werther (the main character) reminded me a little of Winston from 1984, though I’m not entirely sure why. It took a long time to finish, but I’m glad I’ve finally read it & can move on to the next story in the collection.1 star

Intisar Khanani//ThornThorn by Intisar Khanani. Well-written, with an interesting storyline – my first experience with the Goose Girl fairytale, so I don’t know how faithful it is to the original, but it definitely had a magical quality to it. I loved how Alyrra struggled between her desires and her duties, and how she finally found the courage to stand up for what she believed in. Kestrin was interesting, too, but less developed. Unfortunately, the combination of first-person & Alyrra’s pseudonym also meant that I continually forgot what her real name was… :/4 stars

Shannon Hale//The Goose GirlThe Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Another Goose Girl re-telling (obviously), but much lighter in tone than Thorn. Ani was also far more “princess-y” than Alyrra was (understandably, since Ani had actually been treated like a princess, where Alyrra was scorned by her family). It was beautifully-written, & the side characters were better-developed in this one (with the exception of Selia, whose character & motivations were much less clear than Valka’s). I also found myself liking Geric & Ani’s romance a lot, even though it only played a small part in the story & the twist at the end was a little predictable (as fairytale “twists” often are!). I’m not entirely sure which version I liked better, but they were definitely both worth reading! 🙂4 stars

Diana Gabaldon//OutlanderCross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon (known simply as Outlander in the US). It read surprisingly easily, for an 800+ word book. I actually picked it up because I was enjoying the TV series so much, but I ended up liking the book even more. There’s less of Frank, of course (since it’s written in first person, from Claire’s perspective), which makes it less conflicting for the reader, and the TV series seems to have more fleshed-out side characters & settings, but at the expense of Claire & Jamie’s romance (the book focuses much more on their interactions). I like where the plot seems to be going, & am looking forward to seeing Bonnie Prince Charlie in book 2!4 stars