Burn, Rewrite, Reread

Kiss, Marry, Kill was always the playground game at school that I was too embarrassed to play, but as torturous as it is to consider burning a wonderful book (or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, reread a terrible one), it’s still less excruciating than having to talk about – 😮 – boys. That said, I’ve been looking forward to this post ever since I was tagged, since it looked super-fun! 😀 I’m not sure who originally came up with this idea, but I was tagged by the wonderful Eve Messenger, whose post you should definitely check out, too! 🙂

Now, onto the tough decisions!

Rules:

  • Randomly choose 3 books you’ve read. (Use the ‘random’ option on your Goodreads “read” shelf.)
  • For each group of three books, decide which book you’d burn, rewrite, or reread.
  • Repeat until you complete three rounds (or five!).

ROUND 1

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Diana Wynne Jones//Howl's Moving Castle Hans Magnus Enzensberger//The Number Devil

BURN: Howl’s Moving Castle! 😥 This book is so awesome, but I just… love the other two more…

REWRITE: The Number Devil, I guess, though I don’t know what I’d change… (This was a really tough round, in case you couldn’t tell.)

REREAD: Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone is too perfect to change in any way, and I’m always up for a reread! 😀

ROUND 2

Trudy Brasure//In Consequence Stormy Smith//Bound by Duty Maria V. Snyder//Assassin Study

BURN: Bound by Duty. There was very little about this book that I found redeemable – as you’ll see if you read my review! 😉

REWRITE: In Consequence could stand to have a bit less fluff, and a bit more plot…

REREAD: Assassin Study. I gave this book 3 stars, so I must’ve liked it, but I can’t actually remember anything that happened in it.

ROUND 3

April Genevieve Tucholke//Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea James Patterson//The Angel Experiment Tamora Pierce//Wolf-Speaker

BURN: Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea, which was interesting, but not quite what I was hoping it would be…

REWRITE: The Angel Experiment, maybe? I actually really loved this book, but not as much as Wolf-Speaker.

REREAD: Wolf-Speaker is almost perfection; I’d be willing to re-read it at any time. 🙂

Tagging:

Review: Bound by Duty by Stormy Smith (Spoiler-Free)

BOUND BY DUTY2 stars

Stormy Smith//Bound by DutySUMMARY

After spending her whole childhood in seclusion, hidden away from the evil Queen Julia by her overprotective but emotionally distant father, Amelia is finally able to break away when she insists on leaving home for university. But, now exposed to the outside world, she finds herself pursued by mysterious people with extraordinary powers, and caught between her duty, and the life that she now knows is out there waiting for her – if only she has the courage to go after it.

Bound by Duty was published in 2014, and was Stormy Smith’s debut novel. It is the first book in the urban fantasy series, Bound, which continues in Bound by Spells and Bound by Prophecy (projected for release in November this year).

STORY [3/5]

The premise of this book is quite gripping: Years ago, the evil Queen Julia killed off all the Elders – a powerful group of mages – but not before their leader was able to make a prophecy of her downfall, at the hands of a girl born of all “the five families”. Amelia is that girl, which I’m sure will come as no surprise to anyone who picks up this book. However, instead of trying to have her killed when she found her, Queen Julia arranged for Amelia to be betrothed to her son, the prince.

A lot of the book was romance-centric, but I felt that Stormy Smith did a good job in making sure that the romance didn’t overshadow the plot entirely – and Amelia probably spent about equal amounts of time agonising over her love life, and her duty and heritage, which was somewhat refreshing.

CHARACTERS [2/5]

Amelia is the main protagonist in this book, and she’s a truly awful one. She’s whiny and selfish, and she throws ridiculous tantrums whenever she doesn’t get her way – and, worst of all, the other characters in the book almost always seem to act as if her behaviour is justifiable. She also has this incredibly hypocritical issue about people not telling her things (even when they have good reasons for it), but has no qualms whatsoever about hiding things herself – even when it’s important information that could potentially save their lives, and which she has no reason to want to keep hidden!

The character-rating for this book goes from “dire” to “okay” because of two of the side characters, however. The first is Micah, who was undoubtedly the most interesting character in the book: He’s initially portrayed as a rather sketchy character (and his backstory is something of a mystery), but he does his best to help Amelia out, even though she doesn’t fully trust him. The second character is Aiden, who spends the majority of the book seeming like your usual stereotypical dream-boy – wildly attractive, inexplicably devoted to Amelia, and distinctly lacking in the personality department – but towards the end, he began to show some promise.

There are a few other important characters, too, who I should probably mention – but none of them are particularly interesting, I won’t say too much: Bethany, Amelia’s beauty-queen best friend; Cole, her overprotective brother; and Queen Julia, about whom we’re told nothing, except that she’s evil.

ROMANCE & RELATIONSHIPS [1/5]

First off, you should be warned that the main romance in this story (between Amelia and Aiden) is heavy on the insta-love, which I know a lot of people find off-putting. I personally don’t mind it, as long as it’s done well (e.g. Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy), but in this book it really isn’t – mainly due to all Amelia’s annoying character traits that I discussed above. They just make the whole relationship seem incredibly shallow and contrived. The other romance in this book is that between Bethany and Micah, which seemed initially like it might be quite interesting, but unfortunately we never see much of them when they’re together.

As for the platonic relationships, the most prominent ones are Amelia’s relationship with her brother Cole – which is strained due to his long absence from her life – and her friendship with Bethany, which I found decidedly unconvincing: We’re constantly told that they’re the best of friends, despite the fact that, as first-years at university, they can’t have known each other for more than a year. This might be believable on Amelia’s part, since she’s never had any friends her own age before (except her brother), but on Bethany’s part it’s definitely not.

WORLD/WORLD-BUILDING [1/5]

The prologue of this book reads like the introduction to an epic high fantasy novel, but this is misleading. The series is actually an urban fantasy, set in our own world, but featuring a hidden society of magic users who are divided into four races: Mages, Hunters, AniMages and Elders. Nothing about any of these groups is ever explained, however – we’re told that AniMages can turn into animals, that Elders are very powerful, and that all the Hunters are on Queen Julia’s side, and not much beyond that – and nor is the presumably-hidden world that they live in.

World-building is certainly something that I think there’ll be more of in the second book, but with fantasy series in particular, I really feel that a good amount of the first book should be dedicated to introducing the reader to this new world – something that Bound by Duty utterly failed to do.

WRITING [3/5]

The writing is probably the best thing about this book. There’s nothing that really stands out about it, but it’s incredibly engrossing, and it flows really well – factors which combined to make it quite difficult to stop reading.

OVERALL IMPRESSION [2/5]

An interesting, well-written story, which is, unfortunately, completely overshadowed by unconvincing relationship dynamics, and the most irritating lead character I’ve ever come across.

RECOMMENDED FOR…

Fans of Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me series might like this, as the the books are quite similar in their attitude towards romance, and the writing was somewhat reminiscent of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s work (but less witty). The relationship between Amelia and Bethany may also appeal to those who liked Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, though Cath’s friendship with Reagan was portrayed much more realistically.

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