February Wrap-Up

Another satisfying month of reading, and quite a few four-star books this time, particularly towards the end of the month… A lot of these were blind picks, too, so I’ve been pretty lucky! 😀 In total, I read 7 novels and 2 short stories in February; here’s what I thought of them:

Amy A. Bartol//Sea of StarsSea of Stars by Amy A. Bartol. The second book in the Kricket series, wherein Kricket and Trey find themselves (once again) on the run from the Alameeda clan. I liked this book, but the series is getting a bit same-y (which is probably not a good sign when I’m only on book two!), and Kricket’s overwhelming tendency to be good at everything, and incredibly beautiful, and somehow gain the undying love and loyalty of everyone she meets (okay, I’m exaggerating on that last one) garnered quite a few eye-rolls. Bartol seems to be pushing the fact that she can’t swim as her major character flaw, which does not a relatable heroine make. ^^’ Again, I am still enjoying this series, but I’ll probably leave off for a while before reading Darken the Stars (despite Sea of Stars‘ not-all-that-suspenseful cliffhanger ending).2 stars

Julie Berry//All the Truth that's in MeAll the Truth that’s in Me by Julie Berry. A short crime novel that follows a girl named Judith, who went missing as a teenager, only to reappear two years later with her tongue cut out so that she couldn’t say what had happened to her. This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for February, and as such I’ve already written a review – you can find it here.3 starsHimself in Anachron by Cordwainer Smith (from The Time Traveller’s Almanac). The story of a man who takes his wife with him on his search for something called the Knot of Time as their honeymoon. And, of course, things go horribly wrong. This story was more about the emotion of what was happening than the science of it, which I appreciated, and the story itself was both interesting and inventive. One of the better entries that I’ve read so far from this anthology.
3 stars

Some Desperado by Joe Abercrombie (from Dangerous Women). A short story about a highway(wo)man who is on the run from her former associates, who have betrayed her. It had something of a Wild West feel to it, though there was a distinct lack of guns (the characters are all armed with swords, knives, and bows and arrows), so I’m not sure whether it was meant to, or if my imagination just ran away with the word “desperado”. Well-written, and I liked the main character (Shy) a lot, but it was a bit too bloody for my taste, unfortunately.3 starsNeil Gaiman//StardustStardust by Neil Gaiman. A romance between a man who is half faerie, and a woman who is actually a fallen star. Neil Gaiman’s prose is beautiful, and I particularly loved the way he portrayed the land of Faerie and its inhabitants. The beginning was a little bit slow-going, but everything that happened afterwards more than made up for that… The edition I was reading was also illustrated by Charles Vess, and his art suited the story perfectly – it really emphasised the simultaneous beauty and danger of Faerie; both enchanting and at times incredibly gruesome. I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can find here.5 starsMorgan Rhodes//Gathering DarknessGathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes. The third book in the Falling Kingdoms series, in which things escalate, there is a great deal of duplicity, and my ship finally sails! 😀 What to say about this book without spoiling it? Hmm… Well, Magnus is rapidly becoming my favourite character in the series, and I’m really intrigued by the direction Lucia’s character seemed to be taking towards the end of the book. I still love Cleo, though the way she’s choosing to deal with her situation makes me supremely uncomfortable – as manipulation of one’s supposed friends tends to, so that’s not really all that much of a surprise. There were also some very interesting developments with Nic, though I still miss the happy-go-lucky Nic of the first book… 😦 Also, I take back everything I said (or at least felt) in my review of Rebel Spring about how Jonas was growing on me. He’s not. His plans are all ridiculous, and how anyone thinks he’s a serious threat is beyond me; the fact that girls in the book seem to be falling in love with him left and right is becoming extremely annoying. 😡 That said, this series is still getting better as it goes on, which is a trend that I hope will continue.4 starsPeter V. Brett//The Desert SpearThe Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett. The second book in the Demon Cycle, in which we continue to follow our heroes – Arlen, Leesha & Rojer – in their efforts to save the world from corelings. There was a new major protagonist in this book, too, who I remember despising in The Painted Man: Jardir! About the first third of the book is taken up with his perspective, which I didn’t initially like all that much; it was interesting, but also quite disturbing. So I wasn’t a huge fan of the first part of the book, but once Arlen & co. were brought back into the spotlight, things got seriously epic (and often hilarious), and the book ended on a definite high point. I’m looking forward to reading The Daylight War soon (i.e. for next month’s readalong).4 starsE.K. Johnston//A Thousand NightsA Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. A new retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, in which an unnamed (and that’s an interesting theme in this book) protagonist tricks the demon king Lo-Melkhiin – who has killed all his previous wives – into picking her, when he comes to her village to choose a new bride, in an effort to save her sister. And then, much to her surprise, Lo-Melkhiin is not able to kill her. I’d heard mixed things about this book before picking it up, and although I liked it a lot, I can also see why others might not. There is almost no romance, which I didn’t expect; most of the book is taken up with the main character’s thoughts and memories, about her husband and her sister, whom she has visions about; and the plot is so slow-building that the story’s climax really sneaks up on you. These were all positive points for me – I loved learning about her family and culture, and the glimpses we got of Lo-Melkhiin were such that a stronger romantic sub-plot would have seemed out of place… And I do love a good slow-burn story, even though A Thousand Nights is actually quite a short book. And the writing was also beautiful, which certainly helped.4 starsLaura Dockrill//LoraliLorali by Laura Dockrill. A standalone paranormal novel, about Lorali – a young mermaid who makes herself human – and Rory, the teenage boy who finds her lying naked on the shore after her transformation. And pirates. Lots of pirates. 🙂 There’s definitely a visible The Little Mermaid influence, as well, but it’s certainly not a straight-up retelling. As for my thoughts on the story itself – it was wonderful. Rory and Lorali were wel-developed, likeable and sympathetic leads, and much of the story was also told from the perspective of the sea itself, which was interesting (and very well executed). I wasn’t initially sold on the pirates, but they definitely grew on me, and I really, really loved the portrayal of Rory’s friend Flynn and his grandfather Iris. The plot was also surprisingly action-packed (in the best possible way), and it was fascinating trying to piece together the mystery of Lorali’s past, and of all the Mer – which was revealed at the perfect pace. (This was also the first book I picked up for the Under-Hyped Readathon, and it definitely got me off to a great start!)4 stars

[EDIT (3/5/2017): Changed rating of Sea of Stars from 3/5 to 2/5 after finishing the last book in the trilogy & thinking on the series as a whole.]

Advertisements

#UnderHypedReads: TBR!

Tomorrow begins the Under-Hyped Readathon, which I am (ironically) super hyped-up for! 😉 As many brilliant books that hype has driven me to read, there are still loads of books out there that just haven’t got the attention they deserve, and this readathon aims to fix that (kind of). The readathon will run for the whole week (27th February – 4th March), and it’s not super-strict, but the basic guidelines for choosing your books are:

  • Books with less than 2000 ratings on goodreads.
  • OR books that you haven’t heard people talking about.

For more information, be sure to check out the goodreads group, which I’ve linked above. 🙂 But in this post, I thought I’d let you all know which books I’m hoping to pick up over the next few days (though I doubt I’ll get to them all). So, without further ado:UnderHypedReads TBR 2016

Lorali by Laura Dockrill. A mermaid book, I believe. I know absolutely nothing else about this book; it’s just sitting on my shelf, daring me to read it, so I think I will. 😛

A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar. A fantasy novel about a woman who’s kidnapped and taken to another world, in order to be a nursemaid to the prince.

The Girl on the Liar’s Throne by Den Patrick. The third book in the Erebus sequence, which I’ve been super-excited for since I read The Boy Who Wept Blood… (It left off on such a tense note!)

And lastly, if I have the time (and also for the sheer appropriateness of picking it for this readathon in particular), The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips, which is an Arthurian-style story about, well, knights who didn’t make the cut for the Round Table.

[This post was actually supposed to contain recommendations, as well, but I got a bit carried away… ^^’ So I’ll be posting those later today. Something to look forward to! (Or not, as the case may be.)]

January Haul

At the beginning of the year, I visited Chloë (of SSJTimeLord and Her Books) in London and went on a ridiculous shopping spree, spending basically all my Christmas money. Somehow, though, I managed to only buy one book – despite stoping at Waterstones and Forbidden Planet, two of my favourite places to buy books. That is, until a spontaneous trip to a second Waterstones, where I got a bit carried away, and ended up using all of my accumulated Waterstones points, as well as a not-inconsequential amount of actual money… ^^’

And then there were, of course, a few more things that I picked up here and there… I didn’t even realise quite how many books I’d bought until the time came to put them all together. But, oh well! I figure that I’m still making up for my uncharacteristic self-restraint in December. 😉

January haul

On the plus side, I’m still reading more than I’m buying! Just.

1) The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. His new(-ish) book, which I’ve been wanting to get my hands on for what seems like an age! Chloë ordered this for me, as part of a multi-buy deal on The Book People’s website – and since I don’t get to see her in person that often, it’s taken a while to reach me. ^^’ Hopefully it’ll be worth the wait!

2) Rebel SpringGathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes. The second and third books in the Falling Kingdoms series, which I started reading at the tail-end of last year. I’ve already read Rebel Spring, and I’m really looking forward to starting on Gathering Darkness soon!

3) A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. A re-telling of the A Thousand and One Nights fairytale, which I wasn’t initially planning on getting, since I’ve heard some pretty mixed things about it… But I saw it, and it was just too beautiful to pass up. 😳 (As I keep saying, self-control is not my strong point.)

4) Lorali by Laura Dockrill. A mermaid story that I bought on a whim. I should definitely read more mermaid books, and for some reason I have a good feeling about this one.

5) Froi of the Exiles Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta. The two follow-ups to Finnikin of the Rock, which I read in December and absolutely loved. I got a bit sidetracked by other series in between reading Finnikin of the Rock and buying these two, which is the only reason I haven’t started on them yet… but hopefully I’ll be able to get to them in the not-too-distant future! 😀

6) The GiftThe RiddleThe Crow by Alison Croggon. The first three books in the Books of Pellinor series (which may actually just be a trilogy; I’m a bit shaky on the details, though I do know that there’s at least one more book associated with these three). I don’t know much about these, except that they’re YA fantasy, but I picked them up second-hand, so they were super-cheap, and they look pretty interesting.

7) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. A space adventure story following the crew of a ship that creates wormholes. I’ve already read this book – and reviewed it!

8) Uprooted by Naomi Novik. A slightly late Christmas present from my aunt and uncle, which I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I don’t know all that much about the story, but it’s a standalone novel from one of my favourite YA fantasy authors, and that’s enough to get me interested. 🙂

9) Star Wars: Identities: Exhibition Catalogue. This is exactly what it sounds like – I went on holiday to Vienna towards the end of January, and happened to stumble across a really fun Star Wars exhibition that was going on… and then I bought the catalogue. You can find out more about the exhibition at the Star Wars: Identities website.