Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman (Spoiler-Free)

STARDUST
5 stars

Neil Gaiman//StardustSUMMARY

Tristran Thorn is half-human and half-fairy, and fully in love with the most beautiful girl in his small town of Wall, which guards the barrier between the mortal world and the world of Faerie. Her name is Victoria, and one day, while Tristran walks her home, they see a shooting star fall beyond the wall – and he swears that he will bring that star back to her, to win her love.

Stardust was originally published in 1999.

STORY [5/5]

This is a love story, but romance is definitely not all there is to it. In some places it’s all about the adventure; in others, it managed to be pretty disturbing (though thankfully without venturing too deep into horror territory. I don’t scare well). I found the pacing a little slow at the beginning of the book, during the chapter that centred on Tristran’s father, but the story picked up very quickly afterwards, and had me hooked right up until the end – which managed to be both unexpected, and entirely appropriate in a dramatic sense. I wasn’t initially sure whether or not I liked how the plot was resolved, but after some time to think about it, I’ve come down firmly on the “liked it” side. 🙂

CHARACTERS [5/5]

The two main characters in the book are Tristran and Yvaine, two very different characters, who are at odds for much of the book. Tristran is, of course, trying to bring the fallen star back to Victoria, in hopes of winning her affection; Yvaine, on the other hand, is stuck tagging along on his journey, and would very much like to leave. Both characters are extremely likeable, and it’s very easy to sympathise with both of their situations.

Other important characters include two of the heirs of the faerie castle of Stormhold – Primus and Septimus – who are each searching for a particular magical gemstone that will allow them to become the next Lord, while simultaneously trying to outwit the other; the Queen of the Lilim, a fearsome witch who is also searching for the star, which will restore her youth; another witch, of rather less ability, who has enslaved Tristran’s faerie mother; a strange, hairy man who accompanies Tristran for the first leg of his journey; the captain and crew of a sky-ship, which sails around the clouds, fishing for lightning bolts; and a wonderful unicorn. (The unicorn is my favourite.)

Victoria is also quite important to the story, but more because of her effect on Tristran than because of her actual character. We see little of her during the larger part of the story, but she is conspicuous in her absence; Tristran thinks about her constantly.

ROMANCE [5/5]

Despite the summary I gave of the story, the actual romance is not between Tristran and Victoria – who never believes for a second that Tristran will follow through with his promise – but between Tristran and Yvaine. It’s a slow-building relationship, but definitely worth waiting for. I loved watching their relationship grow, and their feelings develop, and Yvaine’s stubborn offence at Tristram’s behaviour provides a good amount of tension between them.

WORLD-BUILDING [5/5]

The world-building in this book is probably its strongest point (though, to be honest, everything about the book was pretty much perfect). The world of Faerie was incredibly well developed, and beautifully described, and Gaiman somehow managed to portray it as simultaneously enchanting and harrowing; as lovely as it is deadly.

WRITING [5/5]

There’s not really much that I can say about the writing, except that it was excellent, and really brought across the whimsical nature of Faerie and its inhabitants. Several steps up from anything else I’ve read recently.

OVERALL IMPRESSION [5/5]

A very sweet love story, set in a beautifully fleshed-out world, that is both sinister and lovely. Tristran and Yvaine are both wonderful characters, but this book really shines is in the writing and the world-building, both of which were perfect.

RECOMMENDED FOR…

Lovers of fairytales in the more traditional sense, such as the works of the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen & Charles Perrault. For something a bit more recent, Stardust will probably also appeal to fans of The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

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Books to read when life sucks.

A friend of mine recently not-so-recently asked me to recommend a pick-me-up book, since she was feeling a little down about life, the universe and everything, and, after a little thought, I was able to rattle off a whole bunch of suggestions – then she specified that she didn’t want to read any fantasy, which stumped me a little (Doesn’t everyone want to read fantasy? All the time? Okay, so that might just be me. 😛 ). But I eventually managed to come up with a couple of what I thought were good suggestions.

But since I’d already done all that thinking about it, I thought I might as well share some of my suggestions with you guys, since – let’s face it – everyone has off days/weeks/months/years now and then. So, without further ado, here are some books that make the world suck a little bit less!

Stella Gibbons//Cold Comfort Farm1) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. A hilarious parody of late eighteenth / early nineteenth century agricultural novels (e.g. books by D.H. Lawrence or Thomas Hardy), in which Flora Poste becomes an orphan at the age of nineteen, and, in order to support herself, descends on her distant relatives in order to begin a career in parasitism. 😉

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On2) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Simon Snow, a mage, returns to Watford School of Magicks for his last year of education, and in hopes of saving the world – and manages to fall in love along the way. Especially recommended to anyone who likes to read or write fanfiction, because of its connection to Fangirl (which is also a great pick-me-up read, but if I let myself put multiple books by the same author on these lists, then this one would basically just be a Rainbow Rowell bibliography… 😳 ).

Sarah Daltry & Pete Clark//Backward Compatible3) Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry & Pete Clark. A love story between two gamers, who meet when they end up in competition for the last copy (at the midnight launch) of a game that they both want. Very cute and fluffy. This book (and, again, Fangirl) was my antidote to The Fault in Our Stars, which should tell you quite a bit about how happy it made me. 😀

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman//Good Omens4) Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman. For those whose tastes run slightly darker, here’s a comedy about the apocalypse, which mainly follows Aziraphale the angel and Crowley the demon, neither of whom are particularly dedicated to their jobs; and Adam, the Antichrist (who has a pet hellhound called Dog). In my personal opinion, Good Omens is the best thing that either author have ever written (that I’ve read).

Yumi Unita//Bunny Drop vol. 15) Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita. Last but by no means least is an adorable manga about a man who takes in his grandfather’s illegitimate six-year-old daughter, and how the two of them come together as a family. I’ve only read the first two volumes of this series, but I already love it! XD And Rin (the aforementioned six-year-old) is quite possibly the cutest kid I’ve ever come across in literature.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: TBR

The time for the October Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon has almost arrived! And, once again, I plan on participating. 🙂 For those of you who don’t know, the gimmick (I suppose) with this readathon is that it lasts for 24 hours straight, and the starting and ending times are the same wherever you are in the world. That – and all the competitions and events that run on the Dewey’s blog – make for a really fun readathon, and a pretty strong sense of community.

Here are some links for you:

I’m probably not going to be doing quite so many of the memes and challenges this time around, as last time I think I went a bit overboard with my post-spamming. I’m also not going to be trying to stay up all night – my sleep schedule has been completely out-of-whack recently, and an all-nighter would probably be one of the worst things I could do while I’m still trying to fix it. I will however be doing my usual mini-reviews for each book that I finish, and I’ll also be doing posts for those challenges that I do decide to take part in… I hope you’re all looking forward to it! 😀

Last (but by no means least) up, here’s my tentative TBR (and it is very tentative, as my reading has been quite slow of late):

Dewey's TBR

1) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I started reading this book a few days ago (and am loving it), so there’s a good chance I’ll have finished it before the readathon starts… But if not, then this book will be my first port of call. 😉

2) The Sandman, Volume 8: World’s End by Neil Gaiman. Another book that I’ve already started (just barely). I’m not particularly fussed about whether I finish this one particularly soon, though, so it may end up falling a little by the wayside.

3) Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (illustrated edition). This one I will probably not be finishing during the readathon, as I’m really enjoying taking my time with it. I am very likely, however, to read a couple of chapters of it between my other books.

4) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve wanted to read this for quite a while, and it’s the Waterstones Book Club pick for October, so I want to read it soon… I haven’t actually been in the mood for dystopian lately, though, so who knows? (Certainly not me. 😉 )

5) Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. The book on this list that is most likely to actually be read (after Carry On, of course). A YA fantasy, which I’ve been strangely craving in the last couple of weeks. Probably because of all the Dragon Age I’ve been playing. 😛

6) A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar. Apparently a classic fantasy novel, though I know very little about it. I am quite intrigued, however, so this is probably what I’ll pick up next if I finish both Carry On and Seeker.

September Wrap Up

Well, September has been a bit of a let-down, especially after August, which was a really great reading month. I did manage to read quite a bit (though not as much as I usually would – once again, I got distracted by video games), but for much of the month, I felt like every book I’d read was either terrible, or a disappointment in some way… I probably just had my expectations too high for the latter ones. :/ But in any case, this September, I managed to get through a grand total of five novels, and five comic books. Here’s what I thought of them:

Ryan North//Adventure Time vol. 1Adventure Time Volume 1 by Ryan North. Wacky adventures with Finn & Jake in the land of Ooo! I actually don’t know too much about Finn & Jake, as, generally speaking, I prefer the genderswapped uiverse (with Fionna & Cake), but this comic was super-fun, and I’m looking forward to the next volume. 🙂3 starsHolly Bourne//SoulmatesSoulmates by Holly Bourne. A romance between two teenagers whose relationship is threatened by… government agents who monitor weird, unbelievable sci-fi crap? I feel bad for rating this book so low, because I really wanted to like it – there were a few moments that made me laugh (particularly in the first few chapters), and Poppy & Noah’s romance was surprisingly cute, once I managed to get past the part of the book where they were just being obnoxious gits to each other… The writing was okay, but most of the characters were unbearable. And all the government stuff? It completely ruined the story. 😦 Holly Bourne also seemed to be trying really hard to push a feminist message with this book, but it was never expressed properly (usually just coming across as man-hating instead) and just fell completely flat. I ended up feeling like I’d just wasted my time reading this book… which is something that (fortunately) doesn’t happen often. :/1 starSarah J. Maas//Queen of ShadowsQueen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, which follows the assassin Celaena Sardothian – and saying anything else about the plot of this book would be spoilery, so I’ll keep it to myself~ 😉 That said, I felt that this book was a bit of a let down after Heir of Fire (which was definitely the best in the series so far). I still enjoyed the book a lot, and plot-wise it was as epic as I was hoping, but in regards to the romance (which, let’s face it, is an important part of this series’ popularity), I wish that Maas could take back everything that happened in Queen of Shadows… 😦 On a more positive note, though, I found Dorian’s perspective surprisingly interesting, and I really hope that that’ll continue for the rest of the series; Elide was an interesting new character, and I’m looking forward to seeing her interact with Celaena; the climax was absolutely epic; and Manon has now been solidified as my favourite character (though I wish that she and Petrah had met up again at some point) – and her’s was probably my favourite perspective to read from.4 starsKatie McGarry//Chasing ImpossibleChasing Impossible by Katie McGarry. The fifth book in the Pushing the Limits series, which follows Abby – Isaiah and Rachel’s friend from Crash Into You – and Logan, one of Ryan’s baseball friends in Dare You To. Abby is a drug dealer, and is struggling to keep her friends and loved ones safe from the dangers of her world, while Logan – an adrenaline junkie – is hiding his diabetes from his friends, because he doesn’t want to be seen as vulnerable. Abby & Logan’s story was great, too – I really liked both of them in the previous books, and they were both very sympathetic leads here. Chasing Impossible wasn’t quite as good as some of the better books in the series (i.e. Crash Into You and Pushing the Limits), but it was definitely better than the worse ones (e.g. Dare You To and Take Me On), and I had a fun time reading it.4 starsKazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 1Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi. The story of two siblings – Emily and Navin – who move to a new house with their mother after their father’s death. The house, however, turns out to be connected to a parallel world, full of monsters, and when their mother disappears one night, Emily and Navin must cross over in order to rescue her. This was a great start to the series: Fun, but with a slightly ominous atmosphere hanging over everything that happened – I found myself constantly holding my breath, waiting for something terrible to happen, which really added to the experience. In terms of the art, I’m not a huge fan of the character design, but it is growing on me, and the backdrops and the monsters are all wonderfully creepy. I’m definitely looking forwards to seeing where this series goes. 🙂4 stars

Kazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 2Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi. The adventure continues! This volume wasn’t quite so creepy, but the story is progressing very nicely, and I really liked Leon, the new character who was introduced in this book. I’m also pretty intrigued by Trellis, and I’m hoping he’s going to be joining the crew at some point~ 🙂4 starsKazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 3Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi. In which Emily & the crew search for the sky city of Cielis. This is the last of the volumes that I’ve managed to get hold of so far, which is a shame, since I’m really eager to read the rest of the series, now! And this book was even better than the last two – I came very close to giving it five stars~ 😀4 starsNeil Gaiman//Sandman vol. 7The Sandman, Volume 7: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman. A book that’s been on my currently-reading list for quite some time – not because I haven’t been enjoying it, but because I find the Sandman books quite heavy sometimes, and consequently I have to be in a very particular mood to pick them up. This volume follows Dream and Delirium as they go on a journey in search of their missing brother Destruction… And I really liked it. A lot more than I liked some of the other volumes (though I doubt anything in this series will ever live up to the perfection that was volume 2). But most of all, I thought it was great to get some new insights into Delirium’s character. She’s definitely one of the more intriguing members of the Endless.4 starsKate Cann//FiestaFiesta by Kate Cann. The first book in the unoriginally-named Beach series, which was mostly terrible (though it was still better than Soulmates). This was my Library Scavenger Hunt book for September, so I’ve written a proper review of it – you can read it here.1 starKeith Austin//Snow, WhiteSnow, White by Keith Austin. A slightly odd tale about a young boy (John) who starts seeing strange images in the mirror – and then his whole world starts to change. Surprisingly, this is only vaguely connected to any fairytales, and I didn’t notice any Snow White references at all (though there is an enchanted sleep at one point). Instead, it pitches itself as a horror story… I didn’t actually find it too scary, but it was quite eerie, and the writing was very atmospheric. A pleasant surprise at the end of what has, quite frankly, been a rather underwhelming month. I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can read here.3 stars

July Wrap Up

Another month gone, another eleven books read (or, rather, seven books, three audiobooks, and a short story). Which isn’t as much as I usually read in a month, but I’m still quite happy with it, considering that I spent a large part of July in a Fire Emblem-induced slump, and I also started a new summer job that’s taken up a lot of my time in the last couple of weeks. But anyhow, I now present to you… everything I read in July!

Den Patrick//The Boy with the Porcelain BladeThe Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick. A gothic fantasy set in a city where a group of deformed children called Orfani are being educated and trained for reasons not explained until quite late in the book. The main character is an Orfano called Lucien, who desperately wants to join House Fontein – the noble house that trains soldiers and swordsmen – despite persecution from some of the high-up members of the House… To be honest, this book dragged a little at the beginning: It switches a lot between past and present timelines, so the action is slowed down a lot, and it took me quite a long time to get to grips with the city’s society. However, I feel like you have to expect to need to be patient when starting a new fantasy series… And once I got about halfway through, my patience was definitely rewarded. The second half of the book was both chilling and action-packed, and brought all the different threads of the story together really nicely.3 starsRoald Dahl//Danny the Champion of the WorldDanny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. The story of the son of a recreational poacher, who begins to learn the sport himself, with incredible results. I listened to this as an audiobook in the car, and it was incredibly enjoyable, though I suspect that my recording may have been edited for sensitive listeners, as there was one part where Danny was caned by his teacher which didn’t seem to have any relevance to the plot whatsoever, and my sister told me that she thinks it was a more prominent part of the book… This is one of Roald Dahl’s more cheerful stories, and the story, characters and narration were all really wonderful.5 stars

Den Patrick//The Boy Who Wept BloodThe Boy Who Wept Blood by Den Patrick. The second book in the Erebus Sequence, though, to be honest, it read more like a first book in a series (in that it’s clearly the beginning of a much larger story, whereas – like many prequels – The Boy with the Porcelain Blade can quite easily be read as a standalone)… There’s not much that I can say about the story without giving away major spoilers, but it takes place 10 years after the events of The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, is told from the perspective of a different main character, and deals with the aftermath of Lucien’s actions in that book. The mystery elements are less prominent in this book, too, and are instead replaced by politics and court intrigue, which was a welcome change to me (I’m not really a fan of mysteries), and while I liked The Boy with the Porcelain BladeThe Boy Who Wept Blood was a huge step up. A really fantastic read. I am now, of course, faced with the problem of desperately wanting to read the sequel (which isn’t out yet 😦 ) – I want to know what’s going on with Anea!5 starsE. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle & Sarah Mlynowski//How to Be BadHow to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Lauren Myracle & Sarah Mlynowski. A contemporary novel about three teenage girls who decide to go on a road trip together, nominally in order to visit Vicks’ boyfriend, but actually in order to escape from all their various problems at home, and forge a really great friendship on the way… I had actually intended to pick up The Ask & the Answer after The Boy Who Wept Blood, but I really felt that I needed to read something happier – and this book definitely cheered me up! It was a little slow-going at first, and I found both Vicks and particularly Jesse quite difficult to warm up to (probably because I identified most strongly with Mel, who was very much an outsider to them both for much of the story), but they both grew on me a lot, and it was a really enjoyable read overall. 🙂4 starsRoald Dahl//Esio TrotEsio Trot by Roald Dahl. A short story about a man who is trying to woo his neighbour by helping her to encourage her pet tortoise to grow more quickly. I thought the concept of this story was quite sweet, and the narration (by Geoffrey Palmer; I listened to this as an audiobook) was excellent, but I found that Mr. Hoppy’s plan to win Mrs. Silver’s affection really bothered me, so I didn’t actually enjoy the story as much as I’d hoped to…3 starsRoald Dahl//MatildaMatilda by Roald Dahl. The story of a young girl with awful parents, but a brilliant mind, who uses her cleverness in order to make – and escape from – all kinds of trouble, and to help out her teacher, Miss Honey, who’s been terrorised all her life by the horrible Miss Trunchbull. This was probably one of my favourite stories when I was little (though I was more familiar with the film than the book), and although it wasn’t quite as good as I remember it being, it was still fantastic, and it’s definitely one of the best of Roald Dahl’s books!4 starsPatrick Ness//The Ask & the AnswerThe Ask & the Answer by Patrick Ness. The second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, which follows the ongoing ordeals of Todd and Viola. The Knife of Never Letting Go left off on such a nail-biting cliffhanger that I can hardly believe I waited two whole years to read the sequel, but it was definitely a book worth waiting for! Obviously I can’t say much about the plot, but Patrick Ness really is a master at keeping you guessing – this book made me doubt just about everyone at one point or another. Like it’s predecessor, the tone of the narrative was one of an almost breathless kind of panic, which was one of my favourite things about The Knife of Never Letting Go… I think I can safely say that I won’t be waiting another two years before I pick up Monsters of Men! 😉5 starsNeil Gaiman//Hansel & GretelHansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman. A retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale, in which two children are abandoned by their parents in the woods, and then captured by an old woman who’s planning to eat them. This edition also includes the pictures (by Lorenzo Mattotti) that apparently inspired it. I did enjoy the story (and the narrative, as usual with Neil Gaiman’s work, was beautifully haunting), but there was nothing in it that really set it apart from other fairytale retellings, and – unlike The Sleeper & the Spindle – there was no unexpected twist to the storyline. The art was compelling as well, but very dark, which – though it fit the atmosphere of the book – made it difficult to see what it was supposed to depict.3 starsStormy Smith//Bound by DutyBound by Duty by Stormy Smith. A new adult fantasy about a girl with the powers of the Keeper – someone who has been prophesised to bring an end to the reign of the evil queen – but who has grown up secluded from the magical world that her parents belong to. The plot of this story was actually pretty decent. Or it would have been, had it not been completely shoved into the background in favour of ridiculous romantic drama for the majority of the book. Additionally, Amelia was an incredibly annoying lead – constantly “solving” things by throwing temper tantrums and lashing out at people who were trying to help her. Her romantic relationship was insta-love-y in the worst possible way, and her platonic relationships were completely unconvincing. There’s a chance I might pick up the sequel to this book, just to see where the story’s going (and some of the side-characters were interesting – namely, Aiden and Micah), but it’s a very slight one – there are so many much better books out there! I’ll probably write a full review of this sometime soon.2 starsJulia Daniels//Master of Her HeartMaster of Her Heart: A Time-Twisted Tale of North & South by Julia Daniels. A re-telling of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South, featuring Margaret as a time-traveller from 2015. I enjoyed the beginning of the story quite a lot, though I felt that Margaret adjusted to being in 1851 a bit too quickly… but the narrative was quick and engaging, and the story concept was certainly unique! 😛 But towards the end of the book, I began to find it rather grating. Several of the threads of the plot are just abandoned without any resolution, and never mentioned again (e.g. Mrs. Hale’s illness, Margaret’s friendship with Bessy & Nicholas, and so on). Frederick is never even mentioned at all. :/ The parts of the story that were set in 2015 were clearly under-researched (the author seems to be under the impression that we use Euros in England), and the twist at the end came out of nowhere – and was never explained… I realise that there’s going to be a sequel to this, which will probably resolve some of the issues I had, but I doubt I’ll be reading it.2 starsMichael Morpurgo//War HorseWar Horse by Michael Morpurgo. The story of a horse who is sold to the British cavalry to fight in the First World War, and his friendship with the boy who raised him from a colt, and who joined the army in hopes that they would be reunited. I picked this up because I was in the mood for a tearjerker, and I’d heard that it was incredibly sad – and it was, in places (it didn’t quite manage to make me cry, but it came pretty close a few times), but it was also quite uplifting, and through the whole book, I was really rooting for Joey and Albert to find each other again, even though Joey met plenty of other wonderful people on his journeys. If I have any complaint, it’s only that I wish the story had been a bit longer, and the pacing a little slower, so that there could have been a bit more of it!4 stars

April Haul

I’m not feeling too bad about the books I bought in April, since most of them were second hand and therefore incredibly cheap, but I am absolutely on a book-buying ban from now on! 👿

April Haul

I also bought Half Wild, but it’s not in the photo ’cause I lent it to a friend…

1) All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing Up Gracefully by Carrie Hope Fletcher. A book of advice on dealing with difficult issues that often come up during “the Teen Age”. I’ve already read this, so you can see what I thought about it in my April wrap-up.

2) Reaper ManGuards! Guards!, Pyramids, Wyrd Sisters, The Last Continentand Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett. These showed up in the charity shop where I volunteer, so I decided to buy them – I’ve been collecting these editions of the Discworld series for a while now, but I don’t know specifically what these ones are about…

3) Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett. A collection of short stories that Terry Pratchett wrote as a child, I believe. This is the collector’s edition, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

4) Hildafolk by Luke Pearson. A really short graphic novel about a little girl who goes on a mini adventure. I’ve read this already, too, and I’ve talked about it in my last wrap-up.

5) Roald Dahl Audiobooks: 10 Dahl Puffin Classics on 27 CDs, which consists of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Danny the Champion of the World, Esio Trot, Fantastic Mr Fox, George’s Marvellous Medicine, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The BFG, The Enormous Crocodile, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, The Twits and The Witches. I read a couple of these when I was little, but I’m really excited to listen to the rest. 😀

6) Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense by Lewis Carroll. A collection of Lewis Carroll’s poetry, in the beautiful Penguin clothbound edition.

7) Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman. A re-telling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale, illustrated by Lorenzo Mattotti. I really loved The Sleeper and the Spindle, so I have high hopes for this, too. 🙂

8) Zombie-Loan Volume 13 by Peach-Pit. This is the final volume of the Zombie-Loan series, which I picked out of the clearance bin at Waterstones for just £3, though there wasn’t anything wrong with it that I could see (unlike most of the other books in there). I probably won’t be reading this anytime soon, since I don’t have volumes 7-12 yet…

9) Half Bad and Half Wild by Sally Green. I got these at the Cambridge Literary Festival so I could get them signed, even though I own both of them as ebooks already. I love these so much~! ❤

10) A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. The first book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while. This showed up by chance at work, too, and I decided to buy it, since it was pretty cheap. As far as I can tell, it’s a historical gothic fantasy series, which sounds fun.

(A brief aside: ChapterStackss posted a really interesting video a little while ago – In Defense of Libraries – where she discussed, amongst other things, book-buying habits, and you should definitely check that out if you’re at all interested. 🙂 )

April Wrap Up

I think I did pretty well in April, having read a total of 9 novels, 7 novellas/short stories, 2 graphic novels, 1 non-fiction book, and I also finished off a manga series that I put on hold a couple of years ago… And I’m doing pretty well with my reading resolutions for the year, as well: 9 of the things I read counted towards goals that I hadn’t already completed. 😀

Tahereh Mafi//Ignite MeIgnite Me by Tahereh Mafi. The final book in the Shatter Me trilogy. I enjoyed the book, and the characters, but I still felt that most of the time, the plot took a backseat to all the relationship drama – and while I don’t dislike that in itself, I think that dystopian fiction really needs more focus on the story and world-building. I did appreciate that the characters finally acknowledged that they hadn’t really had a viable plan to take down the Reestablishment in Unravel Me, which was something that had been bothering me, and I really enjoyed how Juliette’s relationships with both Warner and Kenji developed…3 starsTahereh Mafi//Fracture MeFracture Me by Tahereh Mafi. The end of Unravel Me, re-told from Adam’s perspective. I don’t have much to say about this, as I didn’t really find anything remarkable in it. Adam’s priorities were all over the place, as usual, and I guess it was interesting seeing his point of view, but I’ve never been a huge fan of his character…2 starsJuliette’s Journal by Tahereh Mafi. The whole of the journal that we see fragments of throughout the series. There wasn’t really anything new here, but I found that it was more interesting to read it as a whole, instead of in little pieces scattered all over the place.3 starsPhilip Pullman//Aladdin & the Enchanted LampAladdin and the Enchanted Lamp by Philip Pullman. A re-telling of the legend of Aladdin. Like most fairytales, it was rather lacking in character development, but my favourite thing about this edition (and, in fact, the main reason why I bought it) was the illustrations (by Ian Beck), which are absolutely beautiful. There were obviously no surprises in terms of the story (it’s a pretty straight-up re-telling, without any unexpected twists), but Philip Pullman’s writing was as enjoyable as always.4 starsNeil Gaiman//The Sleeper & the SpindleThe Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman. A re-telling of both Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, where Snow White and three dwarves set off on a quest to wake Sleeping Beauty and stop the sleep-plague that is creeping across the country. I didn’t expect, when I started this, that Snow White would be taking the place of the Prince (in fact, I didn’t expect Snow White to be involved at all), but it was a twist that I ended up really liking. The illustrations were also great – I’m not the biggest fan of Chris Riddell’s art, generally, but it suited this story, and the colour palette (black, white and gold), was lovely.4 starsThe Sleeping Beauty in the Wood by Charles Perrault (from Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories). The original tale of Sleeping Beauty, in which, after Sleeping Beauty and the Prince fall in love and get married, they have two children (Dawn and Day), whom the Prince’s mother (who is part-ogre!) eventually tries to eat! It was certainly an interesting story, and the ending was very unexpected, but I ended up enjoying it a lot.4 starsMasashi Kishimoto//Naruto vol. 71Naruto (Ch. 614-700) by Masashi Kishimoto. The tale of a boy who wants to become the greatest ninja of all time, and gain the respect and friendship of all his peers. I’ve been following this series for years, and I’m so glad that I’ve finally finished. The story was (as usual) frequently ridiculous, but after however many years it’s been, I’ve come to expect that and not really mind it. More than anything else, the whole series was just a lot of fun! 🙂 What I read this month covered the fights against Tobi, Madara and Kaguya, as well as some really great Warring Clans-era flashbacks.4 stars

Jennifer L. Armentrout//OppositionOpposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The final book in the Lux series, which is a half-romance, half-alien invasion story about a book blogger called Katy. I wasn’t quite as into this book as I was the previous ones, but I think that was mostly because I had to break up my reading quite a lot because of non-fictional events… Quality-wise, I think it was on par with the other books in the series. Overall, it was an exciting and satisfying conclusion to the series, and I enjoyed it a lot.4 starsJennifer L. Armentrout//ShadowsShadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout. A prequel to the Lux series, that tells the story of how Dawson and Bethany met and fell in love, and how their relationship played out in the lead-in to Obsidian. The story and characters were both very enjoyable, though I missed having Katy’s perspective, and it was a little jarring to be reading an almost pure romance story set in the Lux universe, after the plot-driven storytelling I’ve been used to since reading Onyx4 starsNon Pratt//TroubleTrouble by Non Pratt. The story of a teenage girl who gets pregnant – and the boy who pretends to be her baby’s father – that turned out to be unexpectedly touching. I’m currently in the process of writing up a full review of this book, which will probably be posted in the next couple of weeks, so I’ll save the rest of my comments for there.5 starsChristine Pope//Breath of LifeBreath of Life by Christine Pope. The first book in the Gaian Consortium series, which seems to be a series of sci-fi fairytale retellings (so far as I can tell, not knowing anything about the other books in the series). This one is based on Beauty and the Beast, and features a girl named Anika, who goes to live with her alien neighbour after her father steals some flowers from his garden in order to save his own life. It was quite entertaining, but very short (125 pages, according to my kindle), and as with Dragon Rose (another Christine Pope book based on Beauty and the Beast), I found it rather disappointing that “beauty” never actually sees the “beast”, since Sarzhin always keeps his face covered, until he’s revealed to actually be incredibly attractive – which I think takes away from the impact of the fairytale. After all, imagining that someone looks like a monster is completely different from actually being faced with it…3 starsChristine Pope//A Simple GiftA Simple Gift by Christine Pope. A short story set the Christmas after Breath of Life, where Anika introduces Sarzhin to her parents, and tells them about her marriage and pregnancy. This was a nice additional scene, and it made me feel a little more kindly towards Anika’s mother, but ultimately I didn’t think it added much to the story.2 starsKaren Perry//The Boy That Never WasThe Boy that Never Was by Karen Perry. A thriller that follows a married couple (Harry and Robin) whose son died during an earthquake when he was three, but five years on,  Harry sees a boy who resembles Dillon in the street, and becomes convinced that he was actually kidnapped. This book was a gift from my Dad, which is the main reason that I decided to read it, since thrillers really have never really been my thing – and they still aren’t, it would seem. The writing was fast-paced, and the book was very readable, but unfortunately I wasn’t surprised by any of the plot twists, and I didn’t particularly like any of the main characters…2 starsJane Hardstaff//River DaughterRiver Daughter by Jane Hardstaff. The sequel to The Executioner’s Daughter, a historical adventure novel set in Tudor London that I read earlier this year and liked, but wasn’t too impressed by. River Daughter, I am happy to say, was a huge improvement, though it took a little while to really get going… In addition to Moss and Salter, we had three new characters: Eel-Eye Jack and Jenny Wren, both of whom were great fun and really interesting, and Bear, who is a bear (naturally) that Moss somehow manages to befriend (and their friendship is adorable 🙂 ). Some of the plot developments were rather convenient, but overall this book was a lot of fun.4 starsGeraldine McCaughrean//Peter Pan in ScarletJulie Kagawa//TalonAt this point the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon came along, and I managed to get through two books for it – Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean and Talon by Julie Kagawa. I’ve written mini-reviews for both of them, which you can read  by clicking on the covers…5 stars4 stars

Luke Pearson//HildafolkHildafolk by Luke Pearson. A short graphic novel about a girl who goes on a miniature adventure with her pet fox/reindeer-thing (which is the most adorable creature ever), and meets a troll. And a person made out of wood. 😕 Very, very cute, and I really loved the art style, but the ending was very abrupt, and it didn’t really feel finished…3 starsBill Willingham//Fables vol. 1Fables Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham. This series follows various familiar fairytale characters living in our world, after having been driven out of their homes by a mysterious invader. The first volume mainly focuses on the Big Bad Wolf, who is now a detective investigating the disappearance of Rose Red, Snow White’s younger sister. The focus on the plot made me ridiculously happy (especially when I think about most of the comics I’ve read recently), and the plot itself was really well thought-out and executed. The art was fantastic, too, and I’m really looking forward to reading the next volume~ 🙂4 starsChristine Pope//All Fall DownAll Fall Down by Christine Pope. The first book in the Tales of the Latter Kingdoms companion series (though this was the last one I read), which tells the story of a physician called Merys, who is kidnapped and sold as a slave, but finds herself falling in love with her new master. And then there’s a plague. This book was more plot-based than most of the other books in the series, which I appreciated, and the story was quite good for the most part (and particularly at the beginning). However, I didn’t really like the way some of the story’s themes were treated (slavery, euthanasia, at one point there is even what I would consider murder, though it’s not acknowledged as such…), and I thought that the ending was much too abrupt. :/ Overall, I liked it, but it definitely had its flaws.3 starsCarrie Hope Fletcher//All I Know NowAll I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher. A slightly autobiographical book of advice on growing up. First off, I should acknowledge that I’m not the target audience for this book – most of the advice in it is about things that I’ve managed to figure out by now – but it’s the kind of book that would probably have been really helpful when I was a teenager, and it’s also not the kind of advice that will ever go out of date (except, perhaps, the section on internet manners 😛 ). But although it wasn’t exactly helpful to me, I still enjoyed reading it. The writing was very good, and Carrie’s voice came through really strongly (if you’ve ever seen any of her youtube videos, then you’ll see that she writes exactly the way she speaks, which is nice), and the anecdotes she used to make her points were very relatable (mostly! I certainly can’t relate to being chased by a bear!) and witty. She’s also illustrated the book, and the pictures are really lovely. 🙂 Some of the advice she gives I didn’t completely agree with, but she makes it very clear throughout the book that this is just what she believes, and that ultimately everyone has to make their own choices.3 stars