T5W: Polarising Books

Some books are like Marmite; you either love them have terrible taste, or you hate them just the smell of them makes you want to vomit. As you can probably tell, I’m not a Marmite fan, but these five books left a much more favourable impression, despite their detractors.

Stephanie Perkins//Isla and the Happily Ever After5) Isla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

I’ve never heard anyone say outright that they disliked Isla & the Happily Ever After, but pretty much every review I’ve come across agrees that it was something of a disappointing ending to the trilogy – citing their favourite parts of the book as the moments that call back to the previous books. It’s certainly much less dramatic than either Anna or Lola, but everyone else’s loss is apparently my gain, as Isla was my favourite book in the whole series. I really enjoyed the relatively drama-free romance between Isla and Josh, as well as the fact that we actually got to see their relationship progress throughout the story (rather than having it end as soon as they got together). Isla herself was a great selling point, too, as I personally found her (and all her self-consciousness and self-sabotaging) much more relatable than the previous two heroines… Also: Josh. (Josh! ❤ )

William Golding//Lord of the Flies4) Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This is one of those books that’s often used as assigned reading in school (and completely ruined by means of over-analysis), which I think is a big reason why it’s so despised by a lot of people (though I’m sure there are other reasons, too). I didn’t read it in school – lucky me! 😀 – and while I found the first half of the book tough to get through, I loved how dark it got as the story went on.

Lauren Oliver//Requiem3) Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Probably my least favourite of the books on this list, but also a book that I hear being bashed all over the place; the first time I ever even heard of the Delirium  trilogy, it was my aunt telling me that Delirium and Pandemonium were pretty much perfect, but Requiem was a rubbish way to end the series (paraphrased, and probably also embellished). But I actually ended up enjoying Requiem a lot more than Pandemonium (I was never able to take Julian seriously as a love interest…)

Patrick Rothfuss//Slow Regard of Silent Things2) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

A spin-off from the fantastic Kingkiller Chronicle books, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is divisive even among the most die-hard of Rothfuss’ fans… and I can see why. The story’s told from the perspective of a minor character called Auri, who has a rather unusual outlook on life (to put it mildly), and mainly consists of her wandering around the strange tunnels where she lives, and moving things about. In a way, it’s kind of a story about decorating…? Rothfuss even put a note in the beginning of the book, preemptively apologising to all the fans who would (inevitably) dislike it. I thought it was pretty charming, however, and it had a dream-like tone that made it really easy to get lost in. It helped, of course, that I’ve always found Auri to be a great mystery, and it was fascinating to finally be able to take a look inside her head.

Stephanie Meyer//Twilight1) The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Most of you are probably pretty sure by now that I’m simply a poor judge of quality literature, but to put the final nail in the coffin: I kind of love Twilight. Sure, its flaws are many, and blatant, and in most cases quite serious. Most of the main characters are either bland or creepy (or both), and the plot is so much an afterthought that it’s a wonder it even made it into the book at all. But still… these books were so much fun to read! And I figure that it’s fine to love something as objectively terrible as this series, as long as I also acknowledge that terribleness… right? 😉

[Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. To find out more or join in, check out the Goodreads group.]

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T5W: Favourite Series Endings (Spoiler-Free)

I finished a couple of different series’ recently, so this week’s theme, favourite series endings, is quite fitting, I think. I’ll be keeping this list spoiler-free, so there’s no need to worry if you haven’t got round to reading these series yet…

Garth Nix//Lord Sunday5) The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix

It took me a long time to finish this series: I read Mister Monday around 12 or 13 years ago, but ended up not reading Lord Sunday until late last year. That said, it was well-worth the wait. The series itself, while fun, wasn’t the most impressive thing I’ve ever read, but the twist at the end was incredibly gripping, and really well-excecuted, which is why it’s earned the number 5 spot.

Stephanie Perkins//Isla and the Happily Ever After4) The Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy by Stephanie Perkins

When I started considering books for this list, I didn’t think I’d be including any contemporary series, since for most of the ones I’ve read, the books are only very loosely connected, but Stephanie Perkins did a wonderful job of bringing her three romances together at the end of Isla and the Happily Ever After, when the main couples met up, and we got a glimpse of what the future was going to be like for all of them – it was incredibly heartwarming.

Hiromu Arakawa//Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 273) Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Long manga series quite often seem to derail as they go on, and end in rather a rush, as the authors hurry to wrap things up before their titles get cancelled, but Fullmetal Alchemist was a glorious exception to this trend, and stayed on point for the entire 27-volume run. The ending was both touching and full of dramatic tension, as Ed and Al finally achieved their dreams, and were able to return home to begin a new life together.

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork Princess2) The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare

This series came ridiculously close to an incredibly unsatisfying ending, and then the epilogue happened – which was a huge surprise for me. Epilogues have rarely fixed bad endings in my experience, and, in fact, can often spoil a good ending (*cough*Harry Potter*cough*). But the way Cassandra Clare tied up this series was absolutely perfect.

Philip Reeve//A Darkling Plain1) The Hungry City Chronicles by Philip Reeve

As far as the main plot goes, I read this series so long ago that I can’t even remember what happened at the end, but I’ll always remember the final moment of the book very clearly. A Darkling Plain wrapped up in the best way that it possibly could, with my favourite character (& a lot of people’s, I think) finally figuring out his true purpose. It was incredibly bittersweet, but still wonderful, which is why it’s become one of my all-time favourite series.

[Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey, and to find out more or join in, please check out the Goodreads group.]

August Wrap-Up

Make yourselves comfy, because this’ll be a long one. 😉 I read a grand total of 24 books this month, which is a lot, even for me. Seriously, I’m not even sure that I knew it was possible…

A.S. King//Please Ignore Vera DietzPlease Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. I really loved this book – Vera & Charlie were both believable and likeable, and A.S. King’s writing was as amazing as ever. The only other A.S. King book I’ve read is The Dust of 100 Dogs, which was also great, but of the two, I definitely prefer Please Ignore Vera Dietz.5 stars

Gene Luen Yang//BoxersGene Luen Yang//SaintsBoxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Technically two books, but I marathoned them, & my love towards each of them was more-or-less the same. I think I liked Saints a little better than Boxers, but, as I said, there’s not much in it. This series made me feel all the feels, & I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes powerfully-written graphic novels.4 stars

Veronica Roth//FourFour: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth. This is almost a prequel to the Divergent series, told from Four’s perspective. It was really wonderful to get to know Four as he was pre-Tris, and to get another view into his mindset. I actually preferred reading his POV here to his chapters in Allegiant, as he’s much less of an emotional mess in Four. The bonus scenes from Divergent were also pretty cool, but not as interesting as the four novellas that make up the majority of the book.5 stars

R.J. Anderson//UltravioletUltraviolet by R.J. Anderson. I actually picked up the sequel to this book from the library by mistake, and then had to hunt down this book as well. I found it pretty disappointing, though. I liked most of the characters, but the main romantic relationship had some pretty creepy undertones (particularly at the beginning), and there were a few things that happened that were never really explained. I may have rated this book a little harshly, since the writing is actually very solid, but the summary made me think that this was going to be a superpower-book, and I was kind of annoyed when I figured out that it really, really wasn’t…2 stars

Skye Jordan//RecklessReckless by Skye Jordan. My first venture into what is basically erotica. I don’t have much to say about this book except that I was surprised by how much I liked it. The characters were likeable and well-written, and the plot was solid, if somewhat clichéd & a little cheesy at times.4 stars

R.J. Anderson//QuicksilverQuicksilver by R.J. Anderson. The (far, far superior) sequel to Ultraviolet. I actually really liked this one. Allison (the main character from Ultraviolet) shows up occasionally, but the story follows Tori in the months after Ultraviolet. I loved Tori and her friend Milo, and I even liked the way that Sebastian was portrayed in this book (through Tori’s eyes as opposed to Allison’s). Also, I’m pretty sure that this is the only book I’ve ever read with an openly asexual main character, which scores it all kinds of bonus points.4 stars

Tim Bowler//Night RunnerNight Runner by Tim Bowler. Starseeker, also by Tim Bowler is actually one of my favourite books, so I was pretty excited when I found his most recent release just lying around at the library, but I wasn’t all that impressed by it. I did like the main character Zinny, and the things that he was going through made me kind of want to hug everyone who was even a tiny bit nice to him in the book, but unfortunately I didn’t find the plot particularly interesting.3 stars

Jennifer L. Armentrout//ObsidianObsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The first book in the Lux series. I basically only read this book because I heard that it was like Twilight, but with aliens instead of vampires, and I really needed something Twilight-y in my life. This series is probably better described as “Like Twilight, but a hundred times better, and also with aliens.” Needless to say, I loved it, and when I finish the last book in the series, I’ll probably write a series review.4 stars

Susanna Clarke//Jonathan Strange and Mr. NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Finishing this (audio)book made me feel ridiculously accomplished. My sister gave me the physical copy of it for my birthday several years ago, but it’s incredibly slow-paced and I found it really difficult to get into. A couple of years ago I decided to give the audiobook a try, and although I really liked it, it’s taken me until now to get through the whole thing, as I don’t tend to listen to audiobooks very often, or (when I do listen to them) for extended periods of time. This book is very slow, like I said, and also very long, so it’s not for the easily intimidated, but once you do manage to get in to it, it’s incredibly funny and enjoyable. The characters are amazingly-written, and the climax is well worth the 900-or-so pages it takes to get there.4 starsJim Butcher//Furies of CalderonFuries of Calderon by Jim Butcher. I actually bought this book (and the sequel) in order to read on the plane back from China, but unfortunately I just wasn’t in the mood for reading (which made the whole flight feel like a horrific waste of time). I finally finished it about halfway through the month, & I actually really enjoyed it. It felt a little lackluster in the beginning, but once it gets going, it’s incredibly exciting. I particularly liked the chapters towards the end of the book, when Tavi and Kitai had to take the Trial of Wits (which was, of course, perfect for Tavi). The characters were wonderful; I loved Tavi and Kitai (though she was only introduced towards the end), and Amara and Bernard’s developing relationship was really sweet to read about. The plot was a little confusing in places, but it’s easy enough to follow what’s going on once you’ve got a grasp of the world, and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.4 starsStephanie Perkins//Isla and the Happily Ever AfterIsla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. The final book in the Anna & the French Kiss trilogy, following Anna & the French Kiss and Lola & the Boy Next Door. This was actually my favourite of the series so far, possibly because (having only read the first two books quite recently) I haven’t had that much time to get really attached to either Anna or Lola. But whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this book. I personally found Isla the most relatable of the three heroines, and Josh was absolutely swoon-worthy. They actually get together quite early on in the book, and it was lovely seeing how they were as a couple, rather than just as teenagers who liked each other a lot (as we saw in Anna and Lola’s books). Most of the criticism I’ve heard of this book is to do with the main conflict between Isla and Josh, and how it really only happened because of Isla’s insecurities, but I found it incredibly realistic, and it actually probably made me like the book even more.5 starsLeah Hocking//Once Upon a Glass HeartOnce Upon a Glass Heart by Leah Hocking. An almost-retelling of several fairytales, including Snow WhiteHansel & GretelLittle Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, with a heroine called Lily, who crosses from our world into a place called the Kingdom after finding a glass heart on her doorstep. I bought this book because it was on special offer on amazon, and because I thought it sounded interesting, but I ended up not really liking it at all. I didn’t manage to connect with Lily at all (although some of the supporting characters were likeable enough), and the plot seemed to lack any kind of direction. Basically the whole book felt like pointless filler between the introduction and the conclusion.1 starJennifer L. Armentrout//OnyxOnyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The second book in the Lux series! I loved it! This book was mainly world-building and relationship-development, but it also put together the framework for potentially epic plot in the next book.4 stars

Alan Garner//ElidorL.J. Smith//Dark AngelL.J. Smith//The ChosenMatt Fraction//Little HitsGarth Nix//Lord SundayGarth Nix//SabrielMark Lawrence//Prince of Thorns

At this point in the month, the bout-of-books readathon started, and, in the interest of not repeating myself too much, I’ll link you to the my updates from days 1-3, 4-5 and 6-7, where I’ve talked about most of the books I read. My overall ratings for the books were as follows:

Elidor by Alan Garner3 stars

Dark Angel by L.J. Smith2 stars

The Chosen by L.J. Smith4 stars

Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits by Matt Fraction4 stars

Lord Sunday by Garth Nix3 stars

Sabriel by Garth Nix5 stars

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence3 stars

Jennifer L. Armentrout//OpalNext up, I read Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The third book in the Lux  series, and a much more plotty entry than the previous two. With all the main relationships established, and the framework for the plot laid down, this book was absolutely epic, and I loved it.4 starsRick Riordan//Percy Jackson and the Greek GodsPercy Jackson & the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan. I just had a really strong craving for Percy Jackson book, and in the absence of the new Heroes of Olympus book, I turned to Percy Jackson & the Greek Gods. Which was not a mistake at all – this book was hilarious. I particularly liked the chapters on Hades and Persephone, and the ones on Kronos and Rhea, Gaia and Ouranos, and Dionysus. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite so much sympathy towards Hades. He’s such an adorable character in this book!4 starsJennifer L. Armentrout//OriginOrigin by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This is the last book I managed to read this month (and I actually only finished it a couple of minutes before I started writing this). I can’t really say much about this book without spoiling major plot points, but needless to say it was amazing. Probably my favourite entry in the series so far.4 stars

[EDIT (4/11/2018): Lowered my rating for Dark Angel from 3 to 2 stars. Most of the Night World books are pretty fun – even the not-great ones – but this was definitely my least favourite of them.]