Summer Catch-Up

Seeing such a long list of books makes me much more satisfied with my reading than I have been for my last few wrap-ups (/catch-ups), though I know it’s a slightly artificial satisfaction (but not entirely! Booktubeathon meant that I read a lot more this summer than I would ordinarily have); three months naturally results in more books read than one, after all… 😅

Also, I find myself liking this new format. It’s kind of labour-intensive (I had to completely re-code it last night, which was a chore), but I expect that it will become less so as I get more used to it. And it looks very tidy, which I appreciate. 😊

FAVOURITE OF THE SEASON*

LIBRARY SCAVENGER HUNT PICKS

29748925 Ann Leckie//Ancillary Mercy

JUNE

[REVIEW]

mary beard//women and power

JULY

[REVIEW]

robert harris//fatherland

AUGUST

[REVIEW]

OTHER BOOKS I REVIEWED

Adam Silvera//History Is All You Left Me

[REVIEW]

Catherynne M. Valente//The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

[REVIEW]

sarah prineas//ash and bramble

[REVIEW]

jack london//White Fang

[REVIEW]

Kiersten White//Bright We Burn

[REVIEW]

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//Obsidio

[SERIES REVIEW]

BOOKS I DIDN’T REVIEW (INDIVIDUALLY)

29748925Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Steve West]

The first book in a new series of the same name, which follows the orphaned Lazlo Strange, who has always been fascinated by the lost city of Weep, which was one day erased from the world, as if by magic, leaving few who even remembered that it was ever more than a myth. I liked Daughter of Smoke and Bone a lot, but this may be my favourite thing that Laini Taylor has written so far. I really loved both Lazlo and Sarai (the book’s second protagonist), and the supporting characters were all incredibly memorable, despite there being quite a few of them. The conflict at the centre of the book was fascinating, too, and the world-building amazing. I’m very much looking forward to returning to Weep, and am glad that I only have a month more to wait for Muse of Nightmares, which is unsurprisingly my most anticipated autumn release – and which I will definitely also be listening to, rather than reading in print, as Steve West’s performance of Strange the Dreamer was fantastic.5 stars

35037401Dragon Age: Knight Errant by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir. [COMIC; Illustrators: Fernando Heinz Furukawa & Michael Atiyeh]

A brief (and self-contained) story set in the Dragon Age world, about Vaea, the elven squire to drunken knight Ser Aaron Hawthorne – and, unbeknownst to her master, a thief. I’ll admit that I’m inclined to enjoy every foray into this world, regardless of length (or even story or writing quality), but Knight Errant surpassed all my expectations. It’s very short, but did a great job of making me care about Vaea and Ser Aaron, the two main characters (who are original to this comic), and although the plot is simple, it’s also solid, and a lot of fun. Varric and Sebastian from the games also had fairly significant roles, and it was great to see them both again (as well as Charter, who made a brief appearance). 😊 In terms of timeline, this takes place after Inquisition, but is not directly connected to the events of that game.4 stars

8146139The Call of the Wild by Jack London.

The tale of a domestic dog called Buck, who’s stolen from his owners in California and taken all the way to the Yukon, where he lives a much less comfortable life as a sled-dog, but is drawn to the wild places that exist just beyond the borders of his new life. This was a really interesting read! I picked it up a few days before Booktubeathon, because I was hoping to read White Fang for one of the challenges, and mistakenly thought that the two were directly connected, but I actually ended up liking this one a bit more, as the pacing was much more consistent, and the story a little gratuitously violent… Buck’s life in the North is a harsh one, but London doesn’t dwell on the brutality of it quite so much as in White Fang. Still, for such a short book, it packs a huge emotional punch.4 stars

Sabaa Tahir//An Ember in the AshesAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrators: Aysha Kala & Jack Farrar]

An excellent, Roman Empire-inspired fantasy following two leads: Laia, a teenage girl who becomes a slave in order to spy for the Scholar resistance, and Elias, a Martial soldier who wants only to be free of the Empire. I first read (and reviewed) this book a couple of years ago, and my feelings on it haven’t changed in the slightest. 💕 The audiobook was a new experience for me, but also a good one; both narrators did an excellent job, though I feel like the communication between them might not have been particularly great, as there were several words that they each pronounced differently. It wasn’t usually too jarring, and the most significant pronunciation disagreement was corrected after a few chapters, but it’s something that really should have been addressed by an editor or director (or whoever is in charge of voice work) before recording… especially when it’s the name of one of the main characters!5 stars

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//ObsidioObsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff.

The final book in The Illuminae Files, which introduces two new protagonists: Asha, Kady’s cousin who was left behind on Kerenza IV when the majority of the population fled, and her ex-boyfriend-from-before-Kerenza, Rhys, who is now a technician for the invading BeiTech forces. As the conclusion to the trilogy, the plot of this book was much less self-contained than the other two, and it wrapped up the plot really nicely, and made for an incredibly powerful ending – though at the expense of some development for Asha and Rhys, who had to share their screen time with the series’ previous four protagonists (or five if you include AIDAN). However, I do think that they were both very well-fleshed out characters regardless, and the Kerenza-based perspective that they both provided to the story was essential. The pacing of the story was fast and tense, and only became more so as the stakes got higher and higher towards the end… and although I didn’t like this book quite as much as Illuminae, it was a near thing. A truly great ending to this fantastic series!5 stars

Jane Austen//Pride and PrejudicePride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Lindsay Duncan]

The classic tale of Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy, who meet at a ball and absolutely do not hit it off. 😉 This is one of my favourite books, and always a joy to re-read, but I decided to buy the audiobook to listen to with some friends on our recent pilgrimage-of-sorts to Pemberley! (Or rather, Lyme Park, which played the part of Pemberley’s exterior in the 1995 BBC adaptation, i.e. the best adaptation.) There are several different audio versions of this book, so much deliberation went into the choice of this one in particular, and I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed! Lindsay Duncan’s performance was incredible, and I especially liked her take on Mrs. Bennet. 🎶5+ stars

*Not including re-reads.

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The Sunshine Blogger Award, Version 2.0

sunshine blogger awardI actually already did this award a little while back, but I have the good fortune to have been nominated once again, this time by Ariana, a.k.a. The Quirky Book Nerd, whose blog you should all take a look at, if you like awesome things! 😉 I’m not going to be nominating anyone new this time around, or asking any questions of my own (since I did that last time), so this post will just be my answers to Ariana’s questions – they look pretty fun! 😀

Ariana’s Questions:

1) If you could travel to any period in time, where would you go and why?

The classicist in me is urging me to say Ancient Rome. Roman Britain, specifically, which was my favourite period to study when I was at uni. But it would also be interesting to see/read all those lost Greek dramas, so maybe Athens instead, circa 420 B.C., to overlap with Euripides, Sophocles and Aristophanes (though not Aeschylus, sadly).

2) What is your favorite under-hyped novel?

I’m actually going to be doing a full post on under-hyped novels soon, since the Under-Hyped Readathon is coming up! I have a few different favourites, but the least-known of them is probably A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley. I’ve never met anyone else who’s read it. 😦

3) What type of music do you enjoy listening to the most?

A mix, really, though I’m disproportionately fond of folk music…

4) What are three books you absolutely refuse to read?

I wouldn’t say that I’d all-out refuse to read any book, since I never know where my mood will take me. Even books that I know are going to be really trashy; sometimes I’m just in the mood for trashy writing. (Don’t ask me why. I have no idea. ❓ ) Some well-known books that I’m not likely to ever read, however…

  • The Fifty Shades series by E.L. James (which I suspect many people will be picking for this question),
  • anything by Stephen King (I don’t like being scared. At all), and… hmm…
  • Maybe The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling? (I’ve heard mixed reviews, but as much as I like J.K. Rowling, this doesn’t sound like my kind of book).

Then again, never say never! 😉

5) Do you prefer series or standalones?

Series, on the whole (or very long standalones). I like to spend a lot of time with the same characters, getting to really know them and watching them grow. The market seems to be overflowing with series at the moment, so it’s nice to find a good standalone once in a while, but nothing quite beats a really good series. 🙂

6) What are your favorite and least favorite book to movie adaptations?

The adaptations of both The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones are a couple of my favourite films. And I found the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (starring Keira Knightly & Matthew Macfadyen) incredibly lackluster. :/ I tend to stay away from adaptations that look like they’re going to be terrible, though – a tendency that has served me pretty well so far.

7) What is one food you never get tired of eating?

Probably… bread? Or maybe eggs. Hmm… ❓

8) What are the most difficult and most rewarding things about blogging for you?

The most difficult thing is probably keeping up with my schedule, as there are quite often times when I’d rather just spend my time reading, or playing a video game. And keeping up with my target of posting a full review every month can be hard, too, since I’ll sometimes read a whole load of books in the month, but not really have much to say about any of them… (This is why my full reviews usually go up towards the end of the month! ^^’ )

The most rewarding thing is probably seeing the posts when they do go up, and getting to read the comments and talk about the books I’ve read. It’s a great community. 🙂

The Extraordinary Means Book Tag

This tag was created by Robyn Schneider (author of Extraordinary Means, hence the name~ 😉 ), and I was tagged to do this by Panda from Panda’s Books. As for who I’m going to tag: Chloë-chu, I choose you! 😀

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit1) I would give up the internet for a month for a signed first edition of this book.

The Hobbit, or any of the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R.Tolkien. Or else a Jane Austen book – ideally, Pride & Prejudice or Emma.

Philip Pullman//Northern Lights2) I would give up pizza for a year if it meant I could sit next to this author on a long plane ride.

I would probably be incredibly socially awkward the whole time, but I feel like Philip Pullman (author of His Dark Materials) would have a whole load of interesting things to say.

Naomi Novik//Temeraire3) I would sit through a thousand hours of commercials if it would ensure Hollywood made this book into a movie.

Lots of books to choose from here, but I think that the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik would make excellent films. They’re set during the Napoleonic wars, but with an Aerial Corps made up of dragons and their bonded Captains.

Hidenori Kusaka//Pokémon Adventures vol. 14) I would never read a new book again if it meant I could live inside this book.

Pokémon! That counts as a book-world, right? There’s a manga (by Hidenori Kusaka) and everything! 😛

Tamora Pierce//Alanna: The First Adventure5) I would let my Google search history be made public if it meant I could be best friends with this author.

I would really love to be friends with Tamora Pierce (author of The Song of the Lioness) or Maggie Stiefvater (who wrote The Raven Cycle), but not quite enough to let my Google search history be made public. 😳 I’m sure there’s some super-embarrassing things on there that I wouldn’t want my parents seeing (and, let’s be honest, they’re the only people who’re likely to be interested in reading it)!

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork Prince6) I would donate everything I own to Goodwill if it meant I could date this book character in real life.

Most of my favourite characters aren’t ones I’d really want to date in real life, but, in the interest of actually-having-an-answer, I’ll say Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare – he’s just such a sweetheart! ❤

The Classics Book Tag!

This tag was created by Vienna at It’s a Book World, and you can find the original post here. I wasn’t tagged by anyone (I just wanted to do this for fun~ 🙂 ), but I first came across it on the youtube channel perpetualpages. Now onto the tag!

1) What’s an over-hyped classic that you didn’t like?

George Orwell//1984Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. I wouldn’t say that it was over-hyped, exactly, so much as just not really to my taste. It made its point very well, and it was certainly interesting, I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.

2) What’s your favourite time period to read about?

Probably Regency England, as that was the time period Jane Austen wrote about, but to be honest I don’t really have a favourite time period. With me, it’s always more about the story than the setting.

3) What’s your favourite fairytale?

Growing up, I was particularly attached to the The Swan Princess (a cartoon adaptation of Swan Lake, which was itself adapted from a Russian folk-tale, though it seems uncertain which one or ones), as well as the Disney version of Robin Hood (I didn’t read all that much when I was little). These days, I’m probably most fond of The Goose Girl and Beauty and the Beast

4) What classic are you most embarrassed not to have read yet?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, without a doubt. I’ve been meaning to read it for such a long time, and so many people have told me that it’s their favourite classic…

5) What are the top five classics that you would like to read soon?

Jane Austen//Persuasion Thomas Hardy//Tess of the D'Urbervilles Charlotte Brontë//Jane Eyre Bram Stoker//Dracula Sarah Grand//The Heavenly Twins

6) What’s your favourite modern book (or series) that’s based on a classic?

Marissa Meyer//Cinder(Having not read very many of these, I’ll be going back to fairytales for this question!) Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles are the first thing to come to mind, since they’re fantastic. The first three books in the series are based on, respectively, CinderellaLittle Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel.

Shannon Hale//The Goose GirlPhilip Pullman’s I was a Rat! is another great take on Cinderella, as is Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levigne, and Shannon Hale has also written a great series called The Books of Bayern, the first of which is based on the Brothers Grimm tale, The Goose Girl.

7) What’s your favourite film or TV adaptation of a classic?

Pride & Prejudice

Ehle & Firth as Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy.

There a several that I really love, but the one I always come back to is the 1995 BBC mini-series of Pride & Prejudice, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

A couple of honourable mentions: The 2004 adaptation of North & South, with Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage, and the 1979 take on the Flambards series, with Christine McKenna.

8) What’s your least favourite film or TV adaptation?

Usually if I don’t like an adaptation, then I’ll stop watching it, so there aren’t really any that I can really say I hated, but what I saw of the 1975 version of North & South  (with Patrick Stewart) was so bad it was funny, and I also wasn’t a huge fan of the 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice (with Keira Knightly & Matthew Macfadyen) – the imagery was beautiful, but the story was far too rushed…

9) What editions do you/would you like to collect?

The Folio Society publishes beautiful editions of most classics, but they tend to be rather pricey, so...

The Folio Society publishes beautiful editions of most classics, but they tend to be rather pricey, so…

... I will often pick the Vintage Classics editions instead.

… I usually buy the (also very lovely) Vintage Classics editions instead.

10) What’s an under-hyped classic that you’d recommend to everyone?

Alison Uttley//A Traveller in TimeMost of my all-time favourites are very well-known (Pride & PrejudiceEmmaNorth & South, etc.), but one that I don’t often hear people talking about is Alison Uttley’s A Traveller in Time, which tells the story of a girl called Penelope who finds herself slipping back and forth between 1934 and the 16th century, where Mary, Queen of Scots is imprisoned in Chartley Castle. It’s a really wonderful book, and its a shame that not that many people seem to have read it…