October Wrap-Up

One of the best reading months I’ve had in a while – in terms of both quality and quantity! 😁 I’ll definitely need to buckle down on my reading resolutions if I want to complete them all before the end of the year, but if the next two months are anything like October, then completion is a real possibility~ 🎶 Over the last month I read a grand total of five novels, and one collection of essays, and those were…

The 100 by Kass Morgan. The first book in a series by the same name, which follows a group of teenagers who’ve lived in a space station all their lives due to a nuclear apocalypse that took place 300 years ago, but are now being sent back to Earth as an experiment to see if the radiation levels have died down enough for the planet to be survivable. This book was great fun, if a bit unbelievable at times, and watching the (much darker, and arguably superior) TV adaptation alongside the book made for an interesting experience; they’re great complements to each other. I’m hoping to do a side-by-side comparison of the two once I’m all caught up on both series, but that shouldn’t be too far off at the rate I’m devouring them! 😋Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs. The third and final book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series, which marries creepy vintage photography with a story about a group of talented children travelling through time in order to save their friends (and the world). I found this to be the weakest book in the series for a number of reasons, but it was still very enjoyable to read… It was also my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for the month, so you can find a full review of it here.On the Pleasure of Hating by William Hazlitt. A collection of essays on various topics, including imagination, slavery, monarchy, and more. I found Hazlitt’s writing style to be somewhat unnecessarily wordy, but his ideas were very interesting. The autobiographical essay The Fight I had no interest in whatsoever (it being an impassioned defence of a sport I have no opinion of whatsoever), but I enjoyed all the other five – and in particular, the final (and titular) essay, On the Pleasure of Hating.Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, wherein Lizzy and Darcy are brought together in mutual disdain when reality-TV star Chip Bingley moves to Lizzy’s hometown and begins a relationship with Lizzy’s yoga-instructor sister Jane. Not too far from the standard for an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but beyond its basic premise, it was imaginative and unexpected, and excellently written. I’ve posted a full review of Eligible, which you can read here if you want to find out more. 😊

Day 21 by Kass Morgan. The sequel to The 100, which I talked about at the beginning of this post… It picks up exactly where the first book left off, and continues with the same tone and pacing – though there were a great deal more eye-roll moments in this one. (Just so you know, I say that with great affection.) Of the four main characters, I’m most invested in Clarke and Bellamy (naturally), but I also really like Glass’ perspective… and I could do without Wells. It’s not that his actions in this book are particularly objectionable, but I really dislike how Morgan seems to be setting him up as a heroic character, despite the highly questionable backstory she’s given him in the book-continuity. There were also a couple of big plot twists near the end of the book, but neither of them came as a huge surprise; the foreshadowing was a bit too obvious. Nevertheless, I am still really liking this series! (… Though each book is such a quick read that I almost wish that the whole series was just one massive novel.)The Black Moon by Winston Graham. The fifth book in the Poldark series, and the first of the ones that Graham wrote after his twenty-year break… It’s surprising how seamlessly it continues on from Warleggan, though it was somewhat calmer in tone than the last couple of books, since the most pressing dramas from the first four books had already been (mostly) resolved. I personally had been getting a bit worn out by the constant tension, so this change was something of a relief to me, but a few new dramas were introduced in order to take their place, involving Dwight’s stint in the Navy, and some new protagonists; Demelza’s brothers Sam and Drake, along with Geoffrey Charles, and Elizabeth’s young cousin Morwenna, to whom I became particularly attached. This was an incredibly strong revival for the series, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

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Library Scavenger Hunt: October

This month’s challenge was to find a book with either an alliterative title or an alliterative author, and I knew immediately what book I was going to seek out; the final book in a series that I’ve been meaning to finish for ages (and also conveniently checks off one of my year-long reading challenges, which I really need to buckle down on in the next few months if I want to complete them… 😓): the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series…

LIBRARY OF SOULS
Ransom Riggs

[Warning: This is a spoiler-free review, but may contain references to events from previous books in the series (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City).]

With their friends now missing along with their beloved ymbryne, Miss Peregrine, Jacob and Emma are forced to continue their rescue mission – through some of the world’s most dangerous time loops – with only the help of Addison the peculiar dog. Luckily, Jacob’s still-developing powers seem to have manifested in a useful new ability: controlling hollows…

The main problem with this series as a whole, I think, is that it tries to pitch itself as a scary story, when it’s really, really not. Or at least, no more so than any other adventure series (such as Harry Potter or Percy Jackson) that would probably be pretty scary to live through, but is not so horrifying to read. Even in this third book (the readers of which presumably all know exactly what they’re in for), there are comments – this time in the form of a mini author-biography – that try to play up the creepiness of the series; a creepiness that is barely present in the book itself.

This is on the publisher, however, not the author. Taken as the adventure series it is, the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series is interesting, well-written, and great fun. It’s certainly not without its flaws, and I personally felt that Hollow City and Library of Souls were much weaker novels than their precursor, but it’s a solid, entertaining series to read…

Some Library of Souls-specific things I wanted to bring up (since this is, in fact, a review of Library of Souls, and not the whole series): Jacob’s new hollow powers play a major role in the plot; so major that none of the other peculiars’ abilities are important for more than a moment, and they are able to deus-ex-machina many of the situations that Jacob finds himself in. I did find that they took the story in an interesting direction, however, and I enjoyed the strange bond that developed between Jacob and “his” hollow – though that was a thread of the story that remained sadly open-ended. The final few epilogue-style chapters also involved a very sudden and very convenient plot development, which was somewhat disappointing.

In regards to the photos, I found that the ones that were included in Library of Souls were both less interesting in and of themselves than those in previous books, and also less relevant to the plot. There are some notable exceptions (Mother Dust on page 252, the ambrosia dealer on page 229, the grimbear with its ymbrynes on page 185, and so on), but in most cases they only showed people or things that Jacob noticed in passing, without having much effect on the story. In fact, the passages in the novel where these things are mentioned often seemed shoe-horned in in order to justify including the pictures. I don’t know if it’s just that Riggs has already used his most interesting pictures or shown pictures of all his most important characters, or if the novelty of the combination has simply begun to wear off for me. Perhaps it’s a mixture of both, but its a shame regardless of the reason, as the way the story and pictures worked together was a big part of what made Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children so compelling.

But despite all this, I did enjoy the book a lot. It’s both exciting and well-paced, with very few moments where nothing seemed to be happening at all. And there were a few important new characters introduced, too: most notably Sharon and Mr. Bentham, though I personally thought that Mother Dust was the most interesting of them all, both in terms of her peculiar abilities and her role in the story. I’m glad that I took the time to finish this series, but I doubt it’s one that I’d re-read, and I’m unlikely to be picking up the spin-off (Tales of the Peculiar).

[Find out more about the Library Scavenger Hunt by following this link!]

Creatures of the Night Book Tag

This tag was originally created by Katytastic, and I wasn’t tagged to do it, but I thought it looked fun anyway – and since it’s Halloween, now feel like the perfect time to be celebrating some of my favourite supernatural creatures~ 😀 For those who don’t know, for this tag I’ll be picking (one of) my favourite books that feature each different type of creature (though I won’t always be telling you which character is the creature in question, for spoilery reasons). Enjoy!

[I tag: Chloë from SSJTimeLord and Her Books, and Panda from Panda’s Books.]

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On1) Vampire – Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

A new favourite book of mine, which I am now taking every opportunity to mention. There are a few vampires that appear in this book, but the most important of them is Baz, the main character’s roommate, who is constantly (unconvincingly) denying what he is, since acknowledging it will probably result in him getting expelled.

Maggie Stiefvater//Shiver2) Werewolf – The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater.

Probably the best werewolf series I’ve ever read (though I know a lot of people have problems with it ’cause it’s a bit insta-love-y), featuring an unusual twist on werewolf lore, where they actually transform because of the temperature, rather than the phases of the moon. Sam is the most adorable (and least spoilery) werewolf in the cast, but there are plenty more great ones that are introduced later on, too!

Peach-Pit//Zombie-Loan3) Zombie – Zombie-Loan by Peach-Pit.

The main character in this bizarre manga series has the unusual ability to see how close people are to dying when she looks at them without her glasses on – there will be a line around their neck, which gets darker and darker as they get closer to death… And one day she catches a glimpse of two of her schoolmates, and realises that they’re already dead. 😮 Thankfully for me (I’m really not a zombie fan, generally), the zombies in this series aren’t the traditional sort. But they still count!

Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada//Ghost Hunt vol. 14) Ghost – Ghost Hunt by Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada.

You can probably tell from the name that this series is about hunting ghosts, and it can be pretty chilling in places. Definitely a ghost story done right. There’s one less antagonistic ghost who shows up on a fairly regular basis, however, who’s one of my favourite characters in the series (and whose identity I will definitely not be revealing here, because spoilers).

Sally Green//Half Bad5) Witch – The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green.

This series is all about a hidden magical society that’s split between “good” White Witches and “bad” Black Witches, who almost never mix except in order to hunt each other. Interestingly, though, the main character Nathan, is half White Witch and half Black Witch, and therefore distrusted by both communities. The characters in this are all really great, but one of my favourite things about the series is its world-building.

Jodi Lynn Anderson//Tiger Lily6) Fairy – Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

I debated choosing the Throne of Glass series for this one, as I haven’t read many fairy books, but then I remembered Peter Pan and his tiny companion Tinker Bell! And although I’ve read the original book, I thought I’d mention Tiger Lily here, as it’s fantastic, and Anderson’s portrayal of Tink is one of the best things about the book. Tinker Bell is the narrator of this re-telling, and it’s really fascinating to see how being a fairy effects her outlook on the events of the story.

Sally Slater//Paladin7) Demon – Paladin by Sally Slater.

A book I only discovered recently, but which was surprisingly enjoyable. The main character in this book is training to be a Paladin – a warrior trained to fight demons. There’s also another character introduced early on in the book whose half-demon lineage plays a huge part in the story.

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork Angel8) Angel – The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

Most of the characters in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter books are part-angel, and there are even a couple of full-angels that pop up here and there in the series. The Infernal Devices trilogy, though, is my favourite of the lot. 🙂

Brian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 59) Alien – Saga by Brian K. Vaughan.

Saga is an epic space odyssey in graphic novel form, and (since it’s set in another galaxy) pretty much every character in it counts as an alien to us. The reason I’m picking it here, however, is because of the diversity of its cast: There are an astounding number of different species that have shown up over the course of the series so far (and we’re still only five volumes in!). And also because it’s great. Really, really great.

Ransom Riggs//Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children10) Super-powered human – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

I haven’t read a huge number of super-power books (or, at least, not ones that don’t qualify their super-powers as some kind of magic), but one interesting one is the Miss Peregrine’s series, which has a cast of “Peculiars” – humans with strange powers such as floating, controlling fire, and so on. At one point we even meet a girl with a huge hole trough her abdomen… 😕

Thematic Recs: Halloween!

Halloween is coming up soon, so here are some of my favourite spooky books to set the tone for next week! Though you’ll have to bear in mind none of these are super-scary, since I don’t read much horror…

Darren Shan//Cirque du Freak1) The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan. The (12-book-long) story of a young boy named Darren, who is turned into a vampire (& a proper, horror story vampire) and has to leave his home & family in order to protect them. I read this series back when I was about 11 or 12, so they’re not too scary, but they’re perfect for younger readers who don’t mind a little bit of gore.

Laurell K. Hamilton//Guilty Pleasures2) The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Another vampire  series, but this one is definitely not for children. The Anita Blake books are very explicit (in terms of both sex & violence), and can actually be pretty disturbing at times… The series goes downhill after the first few books, but there are some occasional gems. My personal favourite is Obsidian Butterfly (book 9), in which Anita joins her friend Edward for a hunt. The vampires might initially be the main horror-story element in this series, but as the series goes on, we get introduced to lots of other creatures of the night, too, including lots of zombies and were-creatures, & even a demon or two…

Patrick Ness//A Monster Calls3) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. This one’s not so scary, but is very atmospheric. It’s all about a boy who’s been suffering from nightmares as his mother gets sicker and sicker, and then, one night, a monster shows up outside his window, and starts to tell him stories. Beware of tears, because it’s quite sad.

Ransom Riggs//Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children4) The Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs. This isn’t too scary either – it’s quite creepy, especially during the early parts of the first book, but it’s much less of a ghost story than the covers would imply. What makes this series so great for Halloween is all the pictures – both books are filled with super-spooky vintage photographs.