April Wrap-Up

Not my greatest reading month in terms of quantity, but pretty impressive in terms of quality! 😉 Also, as I now appreciate more fully, non-fiction can be pretty time-consuming, even when you’re enjoying it… So in April I read a total of two novels, and one academic book. Here’s what I thought of them:

The Tower of the Swallow by Andrzej Sapkowski. The sixth book in the Witcher series (and the fourth of the novels which make up the Saga of the Witcher), in which Geralt and his companions continue their search for Ciri, as do several other interested parties, most of whom have less-than-noble designs. Obviously there’s not much I can say about the plot, but it continues to thicken, and I’m simultaneously dreading and anticipating reading the next (and final!) book in the series!

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. The first book in Riordan’s most recent Percy Jackson-verse series, The Trials of Apollo, which follows the god Apollo after he’s been turned into a mortal teenager by Zeus. I just about managed to scrape together a review of this book (which I liked a lot, though perhaps not so much as I have previous books from this universe); you can find it here. 🙂Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks. My Library Scavenger Hunt pick for the month, which is an exploration/study of Deaf culture and Sign Language (amongst other things). It’s rare that I foray into the world of non-fiction, but this made for an interesting read, even though much of it was completely over my head. You can find my full review here.

Advertisements

Review: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (Spoiler-Free)

[Warning: This is a spoiler-free review, but may contain references to some events from the Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series, with which The Trials of Apollo shares a continuity. My previous reviews from this universe: The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5); Percy Jackson & the Greek Heroes.]

Apollo has irritated his father Zeus, King of the Gods, about a hundred times too many. His punishment? To be turned into a mortal teenager, complete with acne and flab (the horror!). Meanwhile Camp Half Blood is in crisis, as the Oracle of Delphi has lost its power, and it may well be up to Apollo – as the (former) god of prophecy – and his new demigod “master” – a wild urchin called Meg – to find a way to restore it.

I didn’t like this book as much as I have previous entries from the Percy Jackson continuity (not that that’s saying much, as my love for Percy Jackson is somewhat extreme), but it did make an interesting break from Riordan’s usual formula. The choice of a god (or ex-god, I should say) as narrator and protagonist was a refreshing change from Half Bloods discovering the world of demigods for the first time. Apollo himself was conceited to an annoying degree, but underwent amazing character growth as the story went on… and my annoyance with him in the early parts of the book were more a me-thing than a he’s-a-terrible-chracter-thing, as it was mostly just because The Hidden Oracle has a slightly different sense of humour than Riordan’s previous books, and it didn’t resonate with me quite so well.

Things that I did really appreciate about the book, though: Firstly, there was no obvious love interest for Apollo. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’t think Rick Riordan does romance very well, so I’m holding out hope that the relationships in this series (or Apollo’s relationships, at least) will remain platonic – and it seems likely, as the most prominent characters in the book other than Apollo himself are either a) his children, b) in a relationship already, or c) too young even for Apollo’s teen-incarnation. Secondly (and most importantly), the actual storyline was really, really fun. The Trials of Apollo definitely looks like it’s gearing up to be another great, high-stakes adventure in Percy Jackson-land, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on The Dark Prophecy (which is coming out next week!) soon.

Summer Haul

summer haulYou remember that book-buying ban I was on? Well, it’s failed utterly. I did fantastically in June, and in July I only bought three books (though my birthday was in July, so I also received a few as gifts 😀 ), and then in August I went completely crazy… resulting in the photo above. ^^’ On the plus side, several of these I’ve read already, so the stack of unread books on my bedroom floor hasn’t grown too much…

1) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. A birthday present from my friend Grace, who has (among others) been trying to get me to read it for a while now. And I loved it, just as everyone was sure that I would! 😀 I read this in July, so you can see what I thought of it in my wrap-up.

2) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. Another birthday present, this time from my sister. A thought-provoking novel about a Dominican-American boy who has never quite managed to fit in anywhere… I read this during the Booktubeathon, so I’ve also posted a mini-review of it.

3) 1066 and All That by Walter Carruthers Sellar & Robert Julian Yeatman. A tongue-in-cheek history book that was given to me by my friend William. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m hoping to get to it soon.

4) The Spy’s Bedside Book by Graham & Hugh Greene. Also a present from William, this is a collection of short spy stories and tips, from what I’ve been able to gather. It looks like another super-fun book, so I’ll probably be picking it up reasonably soon.

5) Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany. The follow-up to the Harry Potter series, in script form! I bought this the day it was released (of course), and read it almost straight away, and despite the misgivings of others, I really enjoyed it. I’m sure that the play itself will be better – and I really want to see it soon – but this was a nice traipse back into the Wizarding World. More detailed thoughts on this are in my August wrap-up.

On the Other Side - photo6) On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. The new novel by youtuber ItsWayPastMyBedtime, which I couldn’t resist picking up after hearing the song she wrote for it. Unfortunately I wasn’t a huge fan of the story itself (again, reasons why are in my August wrap-up), but I do feel like I should take the time to point appreciate the fact that someone at Little, Brown must have put a huge amount of effort into making this book as beautiful as it is.

7) The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. The first book in Riordan’s new Percy Jackson-universe series, The Trials of Apollo. I’m not sure when I’ll actually read this, but I wanted to pick it up while it’s still available in hardback, so that it will match the rest of my Rick Riordan books…

8) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. I bought this one solely because it showed up unexpectedly at the second-hand bookshop where I work, and I’ve been looking for a copy for ages. This is another one that I’m eager to read soon, though my eagerness is somewhat tempered by the knowledge that I have no easy access to either of the sequels. 😦

9) A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas. The sequel to A Court of Thorns & Roses, which I liked when I read it, but have had my reservations about since… I wasn’t initially sure whether I was going to continue this series, but so many people have told me that this book is way better than the last, so I’ve decided to give it a try. Also, it (along with the next three books I’m going to list) was buy-one-get-one-half-price at Waterstones, so I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. 😉

10) And I Darken by Kiersten White. An intriguing novelisation of the life of Vlad the Impaler, if he had been a she. This is another book that I read pretty promptly after buying, so my (long, rambling) thoughts on it are all in my August wrap-up.

11) Railhead by Philip Reeve. I’ve not actually read much of Philip Reeve’s work, but I remember really loving his Hungry City Chronicles when I was in school, so of course I couldn’t resist seeing what his most recent book was like. Spoiler: it was fantastic – and I’ve written a full review of it here!

12) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. The first of a new duology set in the same universe as Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, which I binge-read a few years ago and loved. And much to my surprise, Six of Crows was even better – I’m really excited for the sequel! Once again, I’ve talked about this book in my August wrap-up.

13) Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle Volumes 11-20 by CLAMP. And lastly! Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle is a series I’ve been reading since it was first released in English, but I’ve always had trouble tracking down any volumes after the first 10 (except online, but I’ve never much liked buying manga online), so when the first 20 volumes all showed up at work, I took it as a sign. 😉 I’m looking forward to catching up (at least partially) on this series soon!

Upcoming Releases: Spring 2016

It’s that time of year again! Winter is coming (to an end 😉 ), and although it’s still pretty chilly where I live, at least we’ve been getting some occasional sunshine. More importantly, though, there’s a whole slew of new, exciting books coming out this spring, so I thought I’d share some of the ones I’m most looking forward to in the months of March, April and May. 😀

[NB: All dates are taken from Amazon UK unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 23/02/2016.]

Marissa Meyer//Stars AboveStars Above by Marissa Meyer (1st March)

A collection of all the short stories set in the Lunar Chronicles universe, plus a few new ones. I’ve actually already read a lot of Meyer’s novellas, as they’re mostly available online for free, but they’re (for the most part) so well written that I’m looking forward to having them for my own! 😛 In particular, I remember being really impressed by The Little Android… New content includes, I believe, an epilogue for Winter, and several prequel-type stories, featuring the main cast as children.

Katie McGarry//Walk the EdgeWalk the Edge by Katie McGarry (29th March)

The second book in the Thunder Road series, which began last year with Nowhere But Here (which I liked way more than I expected to). Each book has a new pair of main characters, but still centres around the Reign of Terror motorcycle club; in this case, the story will focus on Razor, one of the more mysterious club members, and Breanna, a character who only appeared very briefly in the last book.

Sally Green//Half LostHalf Lost by Sally Green (31st March)

Another sequel! But this time it’s the conclusion to the Half Life trilogy, which I’m absolutely in love with. Half-Black Witch (i.e. bad) and half-White Witch, Nathan has a foot in both societies, but is wanted by neither of them, and distrusted by both. The series has been getting better and better as it goes on, so I have high hopes for this last book. XD

Maggie Stiefvater//The Raven KingThe Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (26th April)

The final book in the Raven Cycle, a slow-paced fantasy series about a group of boys who are searching for Glendower, a legendary Welsh king, and a girl called Blue – the only non-psychic in a family of psychics – who winds up getting involved in their quest. This series is packed-full of fascinating folklore, beautiful, atmospheric writing, and characters you can’t help but love. ❤

Rick Riordan//The Hidden OracleThe Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (3rd May)

The first book in a new series set in the same world as Percy Jackson & the Olympians, which makes it a guaranteed buy for me. I know very little about the story at the moment (and, to be honest, I’d prefer to go into this book blind), but Riordan’s previous books have all been very witty and entertaining – particularly the Percy Jackson-universe ones – and I’m sure this new series will follow suit.