October Wrap-Up

Well, I’ve did a terrible job of keeping to my blog schedule in October! Don’t worry – I’m still alive! 😛 I’d like to blame work, but although things are still pretty hectic on that front (though not as bad as a few weeks ago), the actual reason for my long absence is that I’m trying to write a review for The Lumatere Chronicles, and every time I decide to work on it, my brain goes blank and my fingers freeze up. ^^’ So, writer’s block, I guess. But – review or no review – I’ll try to do better this month.

On a more positive note, I have managed to do quite a bit of reading, and most of what I’ve read lately has been really great! 😀 Here’s what I thought of them all:

Holly Black & Cassandra Clare//The Copper GauntletThe Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. The follow-up to The Iron Trial, which I read a couple of Christmases ago. This sequel follows Call and his friends in their second year (or their Copper Year) at the Magisterium, where they’re trying to find out about a mysterious magical artefact called the Alkahest. I enjoyed The Copper Gauntlet, though I didn’t feel that it was quite able to live up to my expectations after reading The Iron Trial (which was fantastic); it just felt too rushed. The entire book seems to take place over the course of a few weeks, whereas the first book took an entire year to build up to the climax… I’m still having a lot of fun with this series, but I’m not quite as excited for the third book as I might otherwise have been.3 starsRae Carson//The Shadow CatsThe Shadow Cats by Rae Carson. A novella set in the Fire & Thorns universe, and telling the story of Alodia – Elisa’s older sister, and heir to the throne of Orovalle – on an official visit to a region on the border of the kingdom, where the locals have been being terrorised by a creature that they call Espiritu… An interesting insight into Alodia’s character, since she was a bit of a mystery in the main series, and it was odd to be reminded of where Elisa started, considering how much she’s grown by the end of the series. The story itself was good, too, though it was lacking the thing that I like most about the Fire & Thorns series – Elisa’s fully-realised self! 😉3 starsRae Carson//The Shattered MountainThe Shattered Mountain by Rae Carson. A brief but powerful look at Mara’s life just before she was introduced in Fire & Thorns, as she tries to lead a group of children to safety after her village is attacked by Inviernos. This story was incredibly intense and emotional, which is particularly remarkable when you consider how short it is. I became very attached to all the children in Mara’s group, and the one major character death that I already knew about (because it’s mentioned in the main series), was agonisingly built-up to, and then heartbreaking when it finally occurred. 😥 A must-read for anyone who liked the main series.5 starsRae Carson//The King's GuardThe King’s Guard by Rae Carson. The last of the three novellas in The Girl of Fire & Thorns Stories, which follows a teenage Hector as he begins his first year in the Royal Guard, and has to prove himself all his superior officers and his fellow recruits, who believe he’s only been allowed into the Guard because he’s friends with the new king. This story wasn’t as emotional as The Shattered Mountain, but it was much more plot-driven – and that plot was excellent! I won’t say too much about it for fear of spoilers, but it was truly shocking in places, and it sheds a really interesting light on some of the events of the main series (which I believe I may be re-reading soon, now that I have this new perspective. 😀 ).4 starsLesley Fairfield//TyrannyTyranny by Lesley Fairfield. A short graphic novel about a girl with an eating disorder. This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for the month, and again (and this seems to be becoming a disappointing trend), I wasn’t hugely impressed by it – but you can read my mini-review of the book here. 🙂2 starsAndrzej Sapkowski//The Last WishThe Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. The first book in the Witcher series, which is actually a collection of short stories – not usually the greatest way to be introduced to a new world or protagonist, but in this case it really worked; the way that the stories tied together made them read very much like a single novel (though admittedly one with several different storylines). As for the stories themselves, a couple of them were a little confusing (but still enjoyable), and all the others I really loved, especially A Grain of Truth and The Witcher. I wasn’t a huge fan of Yennefer, which surprised me, since I’ve really liked what I’ve seen of her so far in the game-verse, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see how she’s developed in the later books…4 starsRae Carson//Fire and ThornsFire & Thorns by Rae Carson. A re-read of the first book in the Fire & Thorns trilogy, which lived up to, and even surpassed my first experience of reading it. I remember finding the first part of the book quite slow before, but this time I was able to enjoy spending time with Elisa’s more naive side, since I wasn’t so impatient for the story to develop. Otherwise, my feelings haven’t changed much; this is still a brilliantly-written book, with wonderful characters and a fantastic story to tell.5 starsAndrzej Sapkowski//Sword of DestinySword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski. The second book in the Witcher series, and another short story collection, though this one was a bit more of a mixed bag; I really enjoyed the final three stories in the collection – A Little SacrificeThe Sword of Destiny, and Something More – but I found that the first half of the book dragged quite a bit… This is probably partly because the first couple of stories concentrated more on Geralt’s relationship with Yennefer, which I’m not entirely on board with (I still don’t like Yennefer much, and nor do I really like the way Geralt acts when he’s around her/moping over her). On the whole, this was an interesting collection of stories, but they didn’t flow together in the way that made The Last Wish so enjoyable, but instead felt quite disconnected from each other (with a couple of exceptions). This is obviously not entirely unexpected, but it’s one of the main reason I don’t get on that well with short stories in general – they’re just too short for me to really get invested in them! ^^’3 starsAndrzej Sapkowski//Blood of ElvesBlood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski. The third Witcher book, and the first full novel in the series, in which Geralt finds out that there are dangerous people looking for his adoptive daughter, Ciri, and sets out to find them – and to stop them, while Ciri herself begins training in magic with Yennefer. As I expected, I’m beginning to like Yennefer (and also Dandelion) more, now that she’s a more prominent character, and Ciri only got more and more wonderful as the book went on, though I would’ve liked to have seen more of her and Geralt together. The plot was a bit disjointed in places; it jumped between characters and story-threads a lot, and there was a very abrupt time-skip halfway through the book (in which Triss disappeared from the story completely, without explanation), but overall, this was a really enjoyable novel, and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.4 stars

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November Wrap-Up

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork PrinceNovember feels like it went by way too fast… :/ & I didn’t actually do all that much reading in the latter part of the month, because the new Pokémon games came out, and I was first caught up in excitement, then in playing the games (which are awesome, by the way). Nevertheless, I managed to read a grand total of 11 books in November, as well as 3 short stories – and this is them:

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. I had so many feelings about this book that I actually ended up writing a mini-review, which you can read here.5 stars

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork PrincessClockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. Needless to say, I went straight on to the sequel, which answered all my questions (even the ones I hadn’t realised I was wondering about). I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the way Jem’s storyline seemed to be wrapping up, but that little niggle was thankfully fixed in the epilogue, and my only other  problem with the book was the Will’s-greatest-hits montage at the end, which I thought was a little cheesy… But that was just a tiny, tiny thing, & easily overlooked. It does make me really, really eager to read The Mortal Instruments book now, but I think I need to take a little break (& maybe read some of the books that I already own) first…5 stars

Morgan Matson//Amy & Roger's Epic DetourAmy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. A sweet, but sad contemporary road trip novel. I really loved both Amy & Roger, as well as most of the many, many people they met on their trip, and I particularly loved that Morgan Matson included loads of photos and reciepts and the playlists that they listened to…4 stars

Tabitha Suzuma//ForbiddenForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. Excellently written, & very thought-provoking, and though I liked the book a lot, I’m not entirely sure how I felt about the situation it presented… On the one hand, Maya & Lochan’s relationship was kind of squicky, but on the other hand, their relationship never really felt like one between siblings, even before they admitted their feelings, and I kind of wanted to root for them to find an escape together someday… My main problem with the way their relationship was portrayed was actually in the early parts of the book, when Maya was pushing Lochan for a relationship that seemed to scare him more than anything – but then again, somebody had to be the instigator (otherwise there’s no story), and reading about the instigation of an incestuous relationship is always going to seem kind of creepy… For those of you who’ve read the book already (or who don’t mind spoilers), feel free to check out my spoilery discussion post here. I’d love to hear your thoughts!3 stars

Paullina Simons//The Bronze HorsemanThe Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. This book was such an emotional roller-coaster! So much tragedy, and then every time Tatiana & Alexander managed to get together, & things seemed to be going well for them, something would come up to drive them apart… 😦 I absolutely loved this book – the characters were so well-written (even the ones like Dimitri, who I really, really hated), & the drama was incredibly intense. There’s a slight cliffhanger at the end, so I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.5 starsRosamund Hodge//Cruel BeautyCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. A Beauty & the Beast re-telling, though is more complicated than a simple girl-meets-monster-and-redeems-him story, and it also has rather a dark edge to it, which I enjoyed – and a lot of Greek mythology! I liked the story a lot, even though it took me a while to warm up to the main character, Nyx, and I thought that the big reveal about Ignifex & Shade’s connection wasn’t quite as unexpected as it might have been intended to be… I think I may have officially restarted my fairytale retelling obsession now… 😉4 stars

Marissa Meyer//CinderCinder by Marissa Meyer. The first book in the Lunar Chronicles, and a cyberpunk-Cinderella retelling. Really interesting and inventive, and I loved all the characters so much! 😀 The ending was a little abrupt, but that was the only real problem I had with the book, and I hope that the sequels will take care of any lingering dissatisfaction, even though they follow different characters…5 stars Marissa Meyer//ScarletScarlet by Marissa Meyer. I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as Cinder (not enough Cinder/Kai 😉 ), but it was definitely a solid follow-up. The plot seems to be escalating dramatically, and the new characters are fun, too – although I don’t feel that I managed to connect with either Scarlet or Wolf as much as I did with Cinder and Kai… I did appreciate, though, that rather than presenting this second book from an entirely new perspective (as I had expected), Marissa Meyer included chapters from Cinder and Kai’s perspectives, too; building on the first book rather than starting over.4 starsThe Little AndroidGlitches and The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer. These are three of the novellas set in the Lunar Chronicles universe, and I figured I’d read them before getting started on Cress. They’re all pretty quick reads (naturally), and well-written and developed (especially considering how short they are… All three stories can be read online for free, and if you’d like to do so, then I’ve linked each one to the cover inages below:

Marissa Meyer//The Little AndroidThe Little Android is set not too long before Cinder, and is a Little Mermaid-retelling about an android mechanic who falls in love with one of her human co-workers. Cinder herself appears briefly in the novella (in the role of the witch who turns Mech6.0 into a human), which was one of my favourite moments, and feel of the story is bittersweet.5 stars

Marissa Meyer//GlitchesGlitches is a direct prequel to Cinder, and is about Cinder’s childhood in New Beijing, the beginning of her friendship with Peony and Iko, and how she first discovered her talent as a mechanic. It was really lovely to see Cinder as a little girl, so unsure of everything in her new life, but this one was also pretty sad, and the ending was somewhat abrupt (though not unexpectedly so…).4 stars

Marissa Meyer//The Queen's ArmyLastly, The Queen’s Army follows the childhood of one of the new characters who’s introduced in Scarlet, and I wouldn’t recommend reading it before you’ve read both Cinder and Scarlet (even though it’s kind of a prequel), as it’s super-spoilery. Also for that reason, I can’t tell you all that much about it! I did enjoy the book, but I felt that the narrative was much choppier than the other two novellas, and I didn’t like it quite so much…3 stars

Marissa Meyer//CressCress by Marissa Meyer. I loved this book so much! Definitely my favourite in the series so far – the plot seems to be really taking off (literally!), and I’m seriously excited for Winter, the last book in the series… Character-wise, Cress was adorable and incredibly relatable, and I really loved the relationship development between her and Thorne; I’m definitely getting more attached to Wolf and Scarlet, even though there wasn’t so much of them in this book; Jacin was an unexpected delight to read (and that scene in the Rampion when he and Cinder talk about Winter was probably one of my favourite scenes in the whole book); and Winter! I wasn’t expecting Winter to even show up in this book, but I am so glad that she did, and I can’t wait to learn more about her!5+ starsRae Carson//Fire and ThornsFire and Thorns by Rae Carson. This is the first book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy, and in the US I believe it is called The Girl of Fire and Thorns, so if you’ve heard of that one, then, yes, this is the same book. It was a little slow-going at first, and I didn’t enjoy part 1 all that much: I liked how realistic the main character, Elisa, seemed, but I didn’t much care for any of the other characters, and not much of the book’s main conflict had been revealed – in fact, much of part 1 was focused on Elisa’s insecurities. However, in the second and third parts the book really picked up, and (in addition to watching Elisa grow as a character, which was wonderful), I grew attached to many of the supporting characters, and the world and its conflicts were really fleshed out. 🙂4 starsRae Carson//Crown of EmbersCrown of Embers by Rae Carson. Elisa’s (continued) growth is incredible, and there are so many other characters that I came to love over the course of reading this: Some older ones like Hector and Mara and Belén, and some new ones, like Tristán and Storm (who grew on me like a weed, and won’t let go). I did miss Cosmé, though, and I’m still not a huge fan of Ximena – but her part in this book and the direction her relationship with Elisa takes is certainly interesting. Writing-wise, this was a lot faster-paced than Fire and Thorns, which made it a lot easier to get into, and the mix of political intrigue and adventure made the plot engaging right from the start.5 stars