#Polarthon Update 2

JUST FINISHED: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik.

The daughter of a moneylender too kind to take back what he’s owed, Miryem takes it upon herself to restore her family’s fortunes, with prodigious success. But when a careless boast that she can turn silver to gold catches the attention of the Staryk king, she finds herself caught in a bargain that will either kill her, or take her from her home and her family forever.

This was such a brilliant, atmospheric read; a sinister, freezing world, and three great protagonists, each with their own compelling journeys and character arcs. Wanda – whose story was the most grounded of the three – was probably my favourite, but I loved both Miryem and Irina as well, and even the book’s two villains (the tsar and the Staryk king) turned out to be really interesting characters once we came to know them.

The book did suffer from having a few too many POV characters, though. There were the aforementioned three protagonists (Miryem, Wanda and Irina), whose separate perspectives made sense as they each had their own storylines, but three more (if I recall correctly) were added later on, and although I liked most of these chapters, none of them really offered anything that we couldn’t have been shown through the protagonists’ eyes – except perhaps the single (I think) chapter from Mirnatius’ perspective, the presence of which was its own kind of (mildly) baffling.

Additionally, none of the characters’ voices were particularly distinct, and I often had to read a bit into a scene before being able to tell whose perspective I was reading from; during one chapter in particular, I remember having to constantly go back and re-check small details in previous passages to remind myself that I was reading about Irina, not Miryem. This wasn’t much of a problem for most of the book, when the characters’ lives were very dissimilar, but became more of one as the three plotlines came together…

And as for the plot, it was occasionally confusing, and a little contrived towards the end, but ultimately very satisfying. It took quite a while for the story to really get started, too, but I can hardly complain about how much of the beginning was spent on building up the world and characters and atmosphere when they were my favourite things about this book! 😋

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Done. 👍 I didn’t quite manage to make it to the end of my climb – the last book on my TBR was A Winter’s Promise – but I’m pretty pleased with how much I managed to read… and how good both books were! 😁 Spinning Silver was for the foiled cover and icy magic challenges (and would also be for the polar fantasy challenge, if tripling-up was allowed… but alas).

Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 808
Challenges Completed: 4/5

May & June Wrap-Up

I’ve been lax in my reviewing lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done plenty of reading! 😉 In fact, the last couple of months have been really great for me, in terms of both quantity and quality; I’ve read several really exciting new purchases, a few that I’ve been meaning to get to for years (that were definitely worth the wait), and may even have discovered a couple of new favourites!

BOOKS I REVIEWED WILL REVIEW SOON!

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW TO COME]

OTHER BOOKS I READ

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Tuppence Middleton]

Feeling oppressed by her mother’s strict rules, Makepeace longs to find her father, but when a traumatic event ends in her being sent to live with his relatives in an old house, full of ghosts, she begins to realise that escape may be her only chance of survival.

This was a really great book, but the best thing about it by far was Makepeace, who made for an excellent protagonist; her character was really distinct and sympathetic, and despite being twelve, she made really great decisions almost the whole way through the novel (which I feel is something of a rarity in YA fantasy). The side characters were also all really interesting and well-developed; James, who was probably the most important of them, was occasionally irritating, but I appreciated that he always got called out when he was being a prat… The plot was probably the weakest part of the book, with no real goal beyond “get out”, then “survive”, then “keep surviving”, but somehow it worked even though the storyline sometimes felt a bit meandering.

Skysteppers by Katherine Rundell. [NOVELLA]

A World Book Day novella that serves as a prequel to Rooftoppers, following Matteo as he begins to make a life for himself on the rooftops, and a treasure hunt across France! My expectations for this weren’t super-high, but I actually ended up liking it a bit more than Rooftoppers! It’s not quite so self-consciously quirky, which I appreciated, and the treasure hunt made for a fun adventure. Matteo was a great lead, too (he was my favourite character in the main story), and his friendship with Mercedes (who’s kind of his rooftop-mentor) was really cute. 😊

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert.

Years after the events of Dune, Paul Atreides now rules as Emperor, but the holy war that brought him to power is one that he’s powerless to stop – and it’s also brought him a great many new enemies. There was a big shift in tone between this book and Dune, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it… On the one hand, I enjoyed the politics of Dune Messiah, and the character exploration as Paul struggles to avoid the worst consequences of the plot against him; on the other hand, it was a lot shorter, and less epic-feeling than Dune was, and there were a lot of uncomfortable sexual dynamics that I didn’t appreciate (particularly in regards to Paul’s sister Alia)… And it also ended on a slightly odd note; I’m not entirely sure where this series will (or even can) go next, but I will at least be picking up book 3 at some point, since I already own it…

Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz.

After receiving a strange email, Alex becomes convinced that his best friend and guardian Jack is still alive, and hatches a plan to rescue here – with or without the help of MI6. This wasn’t my favourite from this series, but it was a solid new entry, and a lot of fun once it got going! I found the characterisation (especially of the villains) quite shallow, but to be honest I’ve come to expect that from these books, and given the heavy James Bond influence, it’s not all that surprising. Highlights included: The return of Wolf! And I also enjoyed the more familial dynamic between Alex and Sabina at the beginning of the book.

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun. [COMIC; Illustrated by the author.]

A short, introspective comic about an alien who’s sent to Earth to observe humans. Very cute artwork, with a powerful message; definitely a bit of a tear-jerker! And there was a little twist right at the end that I really enjoyed, too. 😊 But otherwise, I don’t have too much to say about this one. My favourite panels/episodes were Jomny’s encounters with the tree, and with Nothing (and with the dog! 💕).

Nightwing: Love and Bullets by Chuck Dixon. [COMIC; Illustrators: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story & Roberta Tewes]

The third volume in the Nightwing series, in which Dick Grayson tries to become for Blüdhaven what Batman is for Gotham… with limited success. I haven’t been finding this series hugely memorable on the whole, but it definitely has its moments! In this volume, I really enjoyed Dick’s training session with Tim (the new Robin), and his encounter with Huntress was also interesting.

Vampire Knight, volume 1 by Matsuri Hino. [MANGA; Illustrated by the author.]

Yuki Cross is a student Guardian at the exclusive Cross Academy; her main duty to ensure the separation of the Day class, full of ordinary students, and the Night class, made up of vampires. This was a re-read for me, as I recently purchased some of the later volumes in the series, but definitely need a refresher! 😅 This volume is pretty intriguing, though not as compelling as later ones… but to be honest this rating is more for my impression of the whole series (so far), as each volume is so short that it’s difficult to rate them individually…

Millenneagram by Hannah Paasch.

An exploration of enneagram personality types. This was both interesting and accessible, with very colloquial writing, which made for easy reading, even for someone like me who doesn’t usually get on with non-fiction! I’m not generally a fan of self-help books, but I loved the tone of this, and its colourful formatting, and I’ve been really enjoying categorising my favourite fictional characters since getting a better idea of what each number is supposed to represent. 😁 The best thing about this book by far, though, was the between-chapter pages, which described the way each enneagram type would react to a specific situation (e.g. stuck in traffic); they were hilarious, and I really wish there had been more of them.

Heartstopper, volume 4 by Alice Oseman. [COMIC; Illustrated by the author.]

The fourth entry in the Heartstopper series, which follows Nick and Charlie as they fall in love and learn to navigate a relationship. In this volume, they go to the beach with their friends, are separated over the summer holidays, and agonise over the best way to say “I love you”. As always, this was incredibly cute, but with a little touch of bittersweet to stop it from completely rotting my teeth. 😬 I didn’t like this one quite as much as volume 3 (which was angstier), but it was still solid, and I’m looking forward to volume 5 (which I think might be the last?)!

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik.

Waylaid by an urgent assignment just as they were about to head home from China, Captain Laurence, Temeraire, and their crew must instead set off to Istanbul to collect three dragon eggs on the verge of hatching. I was a little nervous about picking this up, as it’s been so long since I last read anything from this series (and I have almost no memory of the last book), but I was actually able to get back into the swing of things very quickly! 😊 The story was gripping the whole way through, the recurring characters felt like old friends (or enemies!), and some of the new characters introduced here are well on their way to becoming favourites! Tharkay was definitely the highlight of this book, and I loved how Laurence’s attitude towards him changed over the course of the story. 💕 Now I can only hope it won’t be another eight years before I read Empire of Ivory… 😓

Red Noise by John P. Murphy.

A miner stops at a remote space station to re-fuel and sell her cargo, but ends up getting pulled into a vicious turf war between two local gangs. No rating for this one, as I DNFd it about a third of the way through (around 150 pages in), not because I thought it was terrible, it just really wasn’t for me. The writing was a little impersonal, but the plot (so far) was fast-paced and action-driven… so if those last two sound appealing to you, and the first isn’t a problem, maybe give this a try?

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White.

Frankenstein re-told from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor Frankenstein’s beloved childhood friend, and later his wife. Knowing her position in the Frankenstein family is precarious, Elizabeth does her best to manage Victor’s whims, and make herself indispensable, but at what cost?

I was quite enjoying the dark/obsessive romance of this book through the first two parts, but was sorely disappointed by the final part, which broke from canon for a very unsubtle and uninteresting twist – and seemed determined to cast Victor as a villain as if man-is-the-real-monster wasn’t already a key theme in the original novel…? Though admittedly, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein was much more blatant about it.

Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz.

The final (that we know of!) entry in the Alex Rider series, in which Alex is brought back into MI6 in order to befriend – and extract information from – a teenage assassin, whose organisation is planning a devastating attack on London. Nightshade took an absurdly long time to get started (apart from a brief prologue, Alex didn’t appear until page 81), but it was a lot of fun after that. I’ve noticed that I tend to most enjoy the books where Alex interacts with people his own age, and this one was no exception to that rule; the friendship between him and Freddy was really nice to read about, despite its dishonest beginning, and I really hope that if Horowitz decides to write more Alex Rider books, he’ll be bringing Freddy back, too! 🤞

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

Notorious thief Kaz Brekker and his crew are hired to break into the apparently-impenetrable Ice Court to rescue a valuable prisoner. I’ve re-read this a couple of times now, and don’t really have anything new to say about it from this time around… I wasn’t feeling it quite so much this time as I have in previous read-throughs, but I love the story and characters as much as ever, and it’s definitely still one of my favourite books. 😊

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse.

As the holy city of Tova gears up for the winter solstice celebration, Sun Priest Naranpa faces threats from both inside and outside her order – but unbeknownst to her, an even greater threat is drawing closer: Serapio, the crow god reborn, who must reach Tova by the solstice if his destiny is to be fulfilled.

This was such and epic story! I was initially hesitant to give it 5 stars, as it’s almost entirely build-up, and we still won’t know until the sequel is out what the true outcome of all that build-up is going to be… but I enjoyed myself so much with this book. 😍 All the POV characters were incredible, and having likeable and sympathetic characters on both sides of the main conflict made the story super-tense… My favourite perspective was probably Naranpa’s, but they were all really interesting, and I can’t wait to see where the story will go next! I know the sequel’s not out until next April, but I need it like I haven’t needed a book in a long time… 😭

Recommendations: Fantasy by Women

Fantasy seems to have developed this reputation of being a very male-dominated genre, and true, a lot of the very famous early fantasies were written by men, but nowadays there are so many great ones written by women, too! I’ve been asked by a couple of people now to make a list of my favourites, and having done so, it seemed only logical to blog some of the highlights. 😊

1) Tamora Pierce’s Emelan universe, which consists of The Circle of Magic QuartetThe Circle Opens Quartet, and The Circle Reforged – and should be read in that order (I have strong feelings on this 😅). The books follow a group of four children with unusual magical powers that are tied to crafts and nature, as they grow up and learn to harness their magic, and become a family to one another. I’m re-reading the Circle of Magic books right now, and I keep finding more and more to appreciate with every re-visit – and that’s really saying something for a series that already contains two of my all-time favourite books (Street Magic and The Will of the Empress), and many other close contenders.

2) The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb, which consists of The Farseer TrilogyThe Liveship TradersThe Tawny ManThe Rain Wild Chronicles, and The Fitz and the Fool. This is admittedly quite an intimidating list of books (chunky ones, too), and I myself have only managed to get through the first trilogy so far – but I’m so excited to read more from this world. Hobb’s writing is very slow-paced, which some people may find off-putting, but her plots and characters are all excellent, and I found myself completely hooked on Fitz’s journey (which is the subject of the Farseer trilogy), even when I wished it was going in a different direction and thought he was being an idiot… and I was absolutely blown away by the ending.

3) For those who like their fantasy with a heavy dose of history, I highly recommend trying the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, which is set during the Napoleonic Wars, with a focus on the fictional Aerial Corps – which is made up of dragon riders. In the first book, naval Captain William Laurence gets drawn into this new branch of the military when his ship captures a dragon egg, only to have the infant dragon form a strong bond with him before he’s able to hand it over to the Aerial Corps. Novik has become better-known recently for her fairytale retellings, Uprooted and Spinning Silver, but although the Temeraire books are just as excellently written, their tone is quite different, and they will probably appeal more to fans of adventure stories (and especially adventure on the high seas!).

4) The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie is a more recent favourite of mine, and tells a very weird and hard to explain story about the birth of civilisation, and the struggles between gods as their power grows and wanes, and of a usurper in the kingdom of Iraden, whose theft may have caused his people’s downfall. Beautiful, clever and surprising, the sticking point with this book will, for a lot of people, be that it’s written in second person – but I entreat you to try it anyway! The narrative style really works for this kind of story. 💕 (And I absolutely think that The Raven Tower was robbed in last year’s Goodreads Choice awards.)

5) Next up is The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta, an epic that follows a race of people whose homeland has been cursed so that nobody can enter or leave. In the first book, Finnikin, one of the Lumatere people who is trapped in exile, meets a young woman who claims that she can lead him to the presumed-dead Prince Balthazar, but seems instead to be leading him home. Such incredible worldbuilding! Such a heartwrenching plot! So many compelling characters! And despite its excellence, I’d say that the first book, Finnikin of the Rock is actually the weakest in the series, which as it goes on, constantly expands, and grows deeper and deeper… 🌏

6) And finally, I give you The Seer and the Sword by Victoria Hanley, a novel about a young princess who, when her father returns from war with a neighbouring kingdom, is gifted a crystal ball – and the conquered prince as her slave. She promptly frees him, and as they grow older, Torina and Landen’s relationship deepens as they separate and then come together again, and work in their different ways towards freedom for both their kingdoms. This is probably the most romance-driven of the books on this list (and it’s a very sweet romance), but the story – though simple – is very well executed, too, and I remember it vividly despite having not re-read this book since I was a teenager. I wish so much that more people would read it! There are also two companion novels, which I should probably get around to reading at some point, but The Seer and the Sword stands perfectly well on its own.

Anyone interested in my full list of recommendations can find it on Goodreads, but there’s a couple of things I should mention about it: 1) where applicable, I’ve only added the first book in each series, and 2) it’s only made up of things that I’ve read myself, so there are some conspicuous absences – the most notable of which is N.K. Jemisin, whose books are on my want-to-read-desperately list, but I don’t feel comfortable recommending to people until I’ve actually done so. Also missing is Lois McMaster Bujold, as although I loved her sci-fi series, and fully expect to feel the same about her fantasy writing, I just haven’t got round to it yet… 😓 (On that note, if anyone would like to see a sci-fi by women post, just let me know!)

Upcoming Releases: Summer 2018

Let me tell you, this list was a hard one to put together. When I started writing, I had no idea how I was going to write a whole post about just two books, but the more I looked into what was actually coming out this summer, the more I realised that the actual problem was how to narrow the list down to a manageable length… 😓 The next few months are going to be crazy for new releases, and I’ve barely scratched the surface here (in particular, there were a tonne of sequels that I left off because I’m not caught up on their series, and I had to draw the line somewhere). And of the ones I have mentioned, two are going to be released on my birthday! (No prizes for guessing which, because it’s obvious.) So without further ado, here are the most exciting things coming out in June, July & August.

[All dates are taken from Amazon UK unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 06/06/2018.]

Night Flights by Philip Reeve (5th July)

A set of three short stories set in the Hungry City Chronicles universe, focusing on Anna Fang, an interesting side character from the original trilogy. To be honest, it’s been so long since I read any of the Hungry City books that I don’t remember all that much about Anna, but I’d be excited to read anything he deemed to write for this universe… 😅 I’m so glad that the world in general seems to be realising how amazing this series is – and if you haven’t seen either of these amazing trailers for Mortal Engines, then what are you waiting for?! Excitement level: 7/10

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White (5th July)

The third and final book in The Conqueror’s Saga, which explores the life of Vlad the Impaler, had he been born a girl. Starting this series is one of the best book-related decisions I’ve made in the last few years, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it’s all going to wrap up (though it’s also sad to think that it’ll soon be over). Lada is such an excellent, bloodthirsty anti-heroine, and her brother Radu (the story’s second protagonist) pulls at all my heartstrings (I just want him to be happy! Is that too much to hope for? 😭)… Whatever direction this conclusion takes, I anticipate epicness, and a lot of feelings. Excitement level: 10/10

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (24th July)

The third book in the Wayfarers series, which follows an entirely new cast, though one of the new protagonists is related to Ashby, a character from the first book. I haven’t read A Closed & Common Orbit yet, so this book almost got cut from the list (or relegated to the honourable mentions section), but I’m just so thrilled to see that Chambers is writing more for this series – and also they’re companion novels, so I don’t imagine it’ll matter all that much if I end up reading this one before AC&CO… 😓 I’m expecting interesting space adventures, and lots of really complex new characters! Excitement level: 7/10

Hard in Hightown by Mary Kirby (2nd August)

A detective novel set in Dragon Age‘s Kirkwall, the city of chains! 😆 The observant among you may have noticed the name Varric Tethras on the cover, rather than Mary Kirby – because this is a book that exists within the DA universe, and Varric (an important character in both Dragon Age 2 and Dragon Age: Inquisition) is it’s in-universe author. I don’t usually read crime novels, but I think I can make an exception for this one; I’ve already read bits and pieces of it in the in-game codex, and I’m looking forward to seeing it all put together (and illustrated!). 😁 Excitement level: 9/10

Honourable Mentions: (With links this time!)

January Haul

At the beginning of the year, I visited Chloë (of SSJTimeLord and Her Books) in London and went on a ridiculous shopping spree, spending basically all my Christmas money. Somehow, though, I managed to only buy one book – despite stoping at Waterstones and Forbidden Planet, two of my favourite places to buy books. That is, until a spontaneous trip to a second Waterstones, where I got a bit carried away, and ended up using all of my accumulated Waterstones points, as well as a not-inconsequential amount of actual money… ^^’

And then there were, of course, a few more things that I picked up here and there… I didn’t even realise quite how many books I’d bought until the time came to put them all together. But, oh well! I figure that I’m still making up for my uncharacteristic self-restraint in December. 😉

January haul

On the plus side, I’m still reading more than I’m buying! Just.

1) The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. His new(-ish) book, which I’ve been wanting to get my hands on for what seems like an age! Chloë ordered this for me, as part of a multi-buy deal on The Book People’s website – and since I don’t get to see her in person that often, it’s taken a while to reach me. ^^’ Hopefully it’ll be worth the wait!

2) Rebel SpringGathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes. The second and third books in the Falling Kingdoms series, which I started reading at the tail-end of last year. I’ve already read Rebel Spring, and I’m really looking forward to starting on Gathering Darkness soon!

3) A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. A re-telling of the A Thousand and One Nights fairytale, which I wasn’t initially planning on getting, since I’ve heard some pretty mixed things about it… But I saw it, and it was just too beautiful to pass up. 😳 (As I keep saying, self-control is not my strong point.)

4) Lorali by Laura Dockrill. A mermaid story that I bought on a whim. I should definitely read more mermaid books, and for some reason I have a good feeling about this one.

5) Froi of the Exiles Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta. The two follow-ups to Finnikin of the Rock, which I read in December and absolutely loved. I got a bit sidetracked by other series in between reading Finnikin of the Rock and buying these two, which is the only reason I haven’t started on them yet… but hopefully I’ll be able to get to them in the not-too-distant future! 😀

6) The GiftThe RiddleThe Crow by Alison Croggon. The first three books in the Books of Pellinor series (which may actually just be a trilogy; I’m a bit shaky on the details, though I do know that there’s at least one more book associated with these three). I don’t know much about these, except that they’re YA fantasy, but I picked them up second-hand, so they were super-cheap, and they look pretty interesting.

7) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. A space adventure story following the crew of a ship that creates wormholes. I’ve already read this book – and reviewed it!

8) Uprooted by Naomi Novik. A slightly late Christmas present from my aunt and uncle, which I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I don’t know all that much about the story, but it’s a standalone novel from one of my favourite YA fantasy authors, and that’s enough to get me interested. 🙂

9) Star Wars: Identities: Exhibition Catalogue. This is exactly what it sounds like – I went on holiday to Vienna towards the end of January, and happened to stumble across a really fun Star Wars exhibition that was going on… and then I bought the catalogue. You can find out more about the exhibition at the Star Wars: Identities website.

Thematic Recs: Dragons!

Once again, I’ve been pretty caught up with playing Dragon Age for the last couple of days, and of course I’ve now got dragons on the brain. So I decided to put together a collection of some of my favourite literary dragons! 😀 But first, a quote:

Finn: I’ve never met a dragon worshipper before. Not much for small talk, are they?
Ariane: Why would anyone worship a dragon?
Finn: Dragons are big, powerful, and they breathe fire! … Some people are easily impressed.
~Dragon Age: Origins (Witch Hunt DLC)

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit1) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, signs on with a company of dwarves who are determined to reclaim their homeland from what is quite possibly the ultimate literary dragon – Smaug! I love this book so much, and Smaug is such an amazing villain; there was no way I wasn’t going to add this to the list! 😉

Naomi Novik//Temeraire2) The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. A fascinating re-imagining of the Napoleonic Wars, but with the addition of an Aerial Corps, made up of talking dragons, and their captains. The two main characters are Will Laurence, a captain in the Navy, and Temeraire, a baby dragon who imprints on him.

Julie Kagawa//Talon3) The Talon series by Julie Kagawa. Another series with an interesting concept: Set in a world where dragons are not so imaginary as people assume, but instead learned to shape-shift in order to blend in with humans. Ember, a young dragon, is sent to live undercover in a human town, and there she meets Garret, who is a member of the Order of St. George – an organisation that exists to hunt dragons.

Tamora Pierce//Wild Magic4) The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce. The main character in this excellent fantasy series (which is set in the Tortall universe) is a wild mage – someone who has a magical ability that lets her communicate with animals, amongst other things – and she uses this ability in order to fight against an invasion of Immortals – creatures that have long been thought to be extinct, or even mythical. Towards the end of the first book in the series, one of the Immortals she encounters is a dragon, who charges Daine with taking care of her baby, the dragonet Skysong.

August & September Haul

I didn’t post a book haul in August, not because I suddenly developed a modicum of self-control, but for the exact opposite reason: I bought so many books that I couldn’t bring myself to look at them all together and not feel a bit embarrassed. 😳 I am comforted, however, by the fact that I’ve already read almost all of these, so that’s something…

Anyway, I bought most of these in the lead-up to the Booktubeathon, after which I put myself on a strict book-buying ban – which I managed to keep to (mostly), even if I’ve taken myself off it now. 🙂 Here’s what I bought:

August & September Haul1) My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrik Backman. I’d had my eye on this for a while, but what made me finally decide to buy it is the fact that it’s signed! I don’t really know what it’s about, except grandmothers, and possibly also superheroes.

2) Loveless, Volumes 11-12 by Yun Kouga. The latest two volumes in the Loveless series, which is about magic and murder and catboys, and is a lot of fun, though a little on the weird side. Fun fact: I read these not long after I bought them, and (somehow) only realised afterwards that I still haven’t read volume 9 or 10. 😳

3) Vampire Knight, Volume 11 by Matsuri Hino. The next volume I needed to read in the Vampire Knight series, which follows a girl whose duty is to keep the peace between the human and vampire students at her school.

4) Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater. The sequel to the Wolves of Mercy Falls books, which I read a couple of years ago and loved. I wanted to read this as soon as I realised it was going to be a thing, but I’ve been waiting for it to be released in paperback…

5) Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik. The fifth book in the Temeraire series, which I mainly picked up because I spotted it in the edition that I’ve been trying to collect. The books have all been re-released recently with new covers, so it’s getting increasingly difficult to find these editions…

6) Bunny Drop, Volumes 1-2 by Yumi Unita. The beginning of the Bunny Drop series, which I finally decided to read after about the third time watching the anime. A really cute story about a man who ends up raising his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter.

7) Fables, the Deluxe Edition: Book 1 by Bill Willingham. I bought book 2 of this series sometime this summer, so I picked this up when I was in London, since it was on special offer, and I wanted to – if not complete, then at least fill in the gap in my collection.

8) Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton. A collection of hilarious short comics from the webcomic of the same name. I bought this, and the next 3 books, using the Booktubeathon 100 books discount.

9) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. A cute graphic novel about a supervillain and his sidekick, Nimona. I’d been on the fence about buying this for a while, but I’m really glad that I did!

10) In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang. Another cute graphic novel about a girl who plays MMORPGs.

11) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. A collection of short horror stories in graphic novel format. Truly chilling – I will probably be re-reading this when Halloween rolls around. 🙂

12) Adventure Time Volume 1 by Ryan North. I picked this up at Oxfam since I enjoyed the Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake comic so much, but I will probably be library-ing the rest of the series… Still, a fun read, if you’re a fan of the Adventure Time cartoons.

13) The Princess & the Pony by Kate Beaton. I saw this on buy-one-get-one-half-price at Waterstones, and I couldn’t pass it up, even though I don’t usually read picture books. The tale of a warrior princess and her flatulent pony – by the same author as Hark! A Vagrant!

14) Night Owls by Jenn Bennett. A contemporary romance that I picked up on a whim, as the other half of that buy-one-get-one-half-price offer I just mentioned. And I’m super-glad that I did. This is probably one of my favourite books of the year so far. 😀 (Also called, in some places The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.)

15) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, which I picked up on release day because I’ve been so excited to read it for such a long time. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it was still pretty good! And now, of course, I just need to read book five~ 😉

16) Amulet Volumes 1-3 by Kazu Kibuishi. A graphic novel series about a brother and sister who find a doorway to another world in their house. I’d heard a lot of good things about this series, so when the first three volumes showed up at Oxfam, it didn’t take much to convince me to buy them…

17) A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar. Another one from Oxfam, though this one I’ve heard absolutely nothing about. It appears to be a fantasy novel, though, and sounds really, really intriguing. I hope to be reading this very soon.

The Extraordinary Means Book Tag

This tag was created by Robyn Schneider (author of Extraordinary Means, hence the name~ 😉 ), and I was tagged to do this by Panda from Panda’s Books. As for who I’m going to tag: Chloë-chu, I choose you! 😀

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit1) I would give up the internet for a month for a signed first edition of this book.

The Hobbit, or any of the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R.Tolkien. Or else a Jane Austen book – ideally, Pride & Prejudice or Emma.

Philip Pullman//Northern Lights2) I would give up pizza for a year if it meant I could sit next to this author on a long plane ride.

I would probably be incredibly socially awkward the whole time, but I feel like Philip Pullman (author of His Dark Materials) would have a whole load of interesting things to say.

Naomi Novik//Temeraire3) I would sit through a thousand hours of commercials if it would ensure Hollywood made this book into a movie.

Lots of books to choose from here, but I think that the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik would make excellent films. They’re set during the Napoleonic wars, but with an Aerial Corps made up of dragons and their bonded Captains.

Hidenori Kusaka//Pokémon Adventures vol. 14) I would never read a new book again if it meant I could live inside this book.

Pokémon! That counts as a book-world, right? There’s a manga (by Hidenori Kusaka) and everything! 😛

Tamora Pierce//Alanna: The First Adventure5) I would let my Google search history be made public if it meant I could be best friends with this author.

I would really love to be friends with Tamora Pierce (author of The Song of the Lioness) or Maggie Stiefvater (who wrote The Raven Cycle), but not quite enough to let my Google search history be made public. 😳 I’m sure there’s some super-embarrassing things on there that I wouldn’t want my parents seeing (and, let’s be honest, they’re the only people who’re likely to be interested in reading it)!

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork Prince6) I would donate everything I own to Goodwill if it meant I could date this book character in real life.

Most of my favourite characters aren’t ones I’d really want to date in real life, but, in the interest of actually-having-an-answer, I’ll say Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare – he’s just such a sweetheart! ❤

2014 in Review: Some Superficial Favourites

Just to end things on a more positive note than my last post, I thought I’d finish off my “2014 in Review” series by showing you some of the prettiest books that I came across over the course of the year. For the record, I haven’t read all of these (but I certainly hope to!).

Philip Pullman//Four TalesFour Tales by Philip Pullman. This is a bind-up of four fairytale-style stories, & I really love the way this is reflected by the Disney-style castle on the cover. If you look at the details at the bottom, you can see some of the various characters & props from each of the stories: The rat; the scarecrow & his servant; the pair of shoes; &c. The simple two-tone colour scheme is beautiful as well – though the white-looking line art is actually silver – and lends the book the look of a starry night.

David Mitchell//The Bone ClocksThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I love the whimsical style of this cover, with all the different objects connected by threads of birds and water and I believe that the spiral in the lower left corner is made up of cards (?). I haven’t read this book yet, so I don’t know what the significance of each item is, but the look of it is certainly striking.

Marcus Sedgwick//MidwinterbloodMidwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. This cover reminds me of the opening scene in the film of Watership Down, though I don’t know how many of you will have seen that. I love the style that the rabbits are drawn in (made up of lots of lines rather than block colour), and the red and purple go well together for the background. The skull-and-thorns motif on the side looks pretty, too, and adds a sinister touch.

Tahereh Mafi//Ignite MeIgnite Me by Tahereh Mafi. This whole trilogy has really beautiful covers, but of the three books (plus novella bind-up), I think Ignite Me is the prettiest. The orange around her eyes and the flowers on her eyelashes really create an impression of spring, making it seem like life must be improving for Juliette (which I very much hope is the case, after the events of the first two books). There’s also the bird reflected in her iris on all three covers, which (as she mentions in the book) represents freedom.

Naomi Novik//Empire of IvoryEmpire of Ivory by Naomi Novik. This is the fourth book in the Temeraire series, which (again) all have really lovely covers, but since this is the only new one I bought this year, this is the one that I will talk about. I believe that this particular book is set in Africa, and at the bottom of the cover you can see a lion and some African elephants, as well as some tribal spears and shields at the sides. The warm colour scheme is nice, too (especially after the cool blues, greens and purples of the previous books), and I really like that the flowers have been done in colour, to contrast the black line art.

Rosamund Hodge//Cruel BeautyCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. Generally speaking, I don’t tend to like covers with people on them, unless they’re clearly hand-drawn, but I’ll make an exception for this one, simply because I really, really love the way the rose and the staircase have been blended together. The rose, of course, brings to mind the story of Beauty & the Beast (on which this story was based), while the seemingly never-ending staircase (with Nyx running down it) creates a feeling of entrapment which matches the novel perfectly.

October Haul

In terms of book-buying, this month actually ended up being even more extravagant than last month… 😦 I think I may have a problem. On the plus side, though, I have now bought all but one of the books on my new list of books that I’m allowed to buy this year, so there probably won’t be a November or December haul (unless I get books for Christmas. Or lose control of my book-buying impulses…).

October HaulAnyway, here goes nothing:

1) Throne of GlassCrown of MidnightHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. The first three books in a series about an assassin called… Caelena? Forgive me if I’ve misspelt her name. :/ Anyway, I’ve been in the mood for assassin books recently, & I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series (and they were in the buy-one-get-one-half-price offer at Waterstones!), so I couldn’t pass them up.

2) Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik. The fourth book in the Temeraire series. I really love these books, though I’ve only read the first two. I also really love the covers, so I thought I’d pick this one up before all the copies get replaced by the new, much uglier ones. The series basically centres around the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons.

3) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while – since  I heard about it when it won the Costa Novel Award for 2013 – and I finally decided to pick it up since it was on special offer (& I haven’t been able to get hold of a copy from my library). As far as I can tell, it’s about reincarnation… Or else repeating the same life over and over. I’m not entirely sure, but it sounds pretty interesting.

4) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I decided to pick this up after reading The Jewel by Amy Ewing, since it’s been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t know much about this book – despite the fact that it’s a classic – except that it’s set in a dystopian future where the birth rate has gone way down…

5) Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. An apparently sad contemporary road-trip book that I don’t know much about, but have heard is good. I will probably be reading this soon.

6) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. A novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe. I have the two main books in this series on my kindle, so I was actually planning on getting this one in ebook form, but then I walked into Waterstones & found that they had signed copies! So this is signed, & beautiful, & I will probably read this pretty soon, too. 🙂

7) Clariel by Garth Nix. The Old Kingdom prequel. I have been waiting for this book for almost 10 years, & it is so good to finally have it on my shelf. 😀

8) The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. The final Heroes of Olympus book. I’ve actually already read this one, & written a mini-review, which you can find here.

9) The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. Another book I’ve already finished reading, & loved. The first book in the new Magisterium series, which follows a boy names Call who decidedly does not want to go to the Magisterium & become a mage. Unfortunately (for him, but not for us 😛 ), it seems that the universe has other plans.