September Wrap-Up

This September I read 13 books, which isn’t quite as ridiculous as my August total, but still a surprising amount. Most of these I really liked, too, so without further ado…

Prudence Shen//Nothing Can Possibly Go WrongNothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen. I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this book – I expected it to be fun, but it also felt really nostalgic (mainly for this old robot-fighting TV show that I used to be obsessed with). The second half had a very different feeling from the first half, though: It goes from high-school drama to robot war very quickly. There’s overarching emotional things going on with the main character, too, which added a lot to the story, & I really love Faith Erin Hicks’ (the illustrator) art style!

5 stars

Faith Erin Hicks//Friends with BoysFriends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. The story was interesting (it follows a home-schooled girl who’s switching to a normal school for the first time, & there’s also a ghost involved), but the main selling point for me was (the art, and also) the characters, especially Lucy, who is adorable.4 stars

Malorie Blackman//Boys Don't CryBoys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman. A very emotional story, especially in the second half & excellently written (as Malorie Blackman’s books always are). My favourite character was Dante’s brother Adam, but I felt like there was simultaneously too much of him & not enough. I would’ve preferred to have learnt about his problems from Dante’s perspective, rather than having a dual-POV, as most of Adam’s chapters seemed way too short. There’s a sequel/companion (I’m not sure which) out as well, called Heart Break Girl, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere…3 stars

Brian Selznick//The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Beautifully written & drawn, and the constant switching between pictures & words makes nice contrast, without being too jarring. I especially loved the way Professor Alcofrisbas was incorporated at the end (something not mentioned in the movie), explaining the reference to Hugo’s “invention” in the book’s title. Minor characters (i.e. the station master, other shopkeepers, etc.) weren’t quite as sympathetic as in the movie, as we don’t see so much of them.4 stars

Sally Green//Half BadHalf Bad by Sally Green. I don’t have too much to say about this one, since I’ve already written a full review, but I really loved the whole story, & I’d definitely recommend it. 🙂 4 stars

Christine Pope//Dragon RoseDragon Rose by Christine Pope. A nice, unpretentious love story which re-tells the tale of Beauty & the Beast. I really enjoyed it, but I thought the ending was a little rushed, & would’ve preferred it if Rhianne had seen Theran’s cursed-form at least once before breaking the curse. The side-characters were also sadly under-developed, but that’s actually pretty understandably, since the whole premise of the story is that the two main characters are pretty much in isolation the whole time.3 stars

Christine Pope//Ashes of RosesAshes of Roses by Christine Pope. A Cinderella re-telling this time! I loved the characterisation & how the romance developed, and the dual POV was a surprise after Dragon Rose, but I liked reading from Torric’s perspective, too. Plot-wise, there weren’t too many surprises, but waiting for the penny to drop on Ashara’s disguise was somewhat suspenseful, & the conclusion was very satisfying.4 stars

Christine Pope//One Thousand NightsOne Thousand Nights by Christine Pope. This one was pretty fun, but not so good as Ashes of Roses or Dragon Rose. I enjoyed seeing more of the Latter Kingdoms world, but liked Lyarris & Besh much less then previous couples in the series. Some threads of the plotline (like Besh’s daughter) could have been developed further, & it was overall plot-lite (which isn’t always necessarily a problem in romance fiction, but I found Lyarris’ constant whining about Besh not wanting to sleep with her kind of annoying). It probably would also have benefitted from a dual-perspective, as I never really felt that I got to know Besh very well. Also, the Scheherazade aspects were only present in a couple of chapters of the book, & completely not essential to the storyline. Definitely my least-favourite in the series so far.2 stars

Christine Pope//Binding SpellBinding Spell by Christine Pope. In contrast, this was probably my favourite in the series! Lark was a great, interesting heroine, though I wish she’d been a little slower to accept her fate. Kadar was a lot of fun, too, and probably the most realistic of the love interests so far. Their relationship development was very believable, too. I’m not sure which fairytale this is based on, though, or even if it is a re-telling, despite the fact that the other books in this series all seem to be…4 stars

Pale Roses by Michael Moorcock (from The Time Traveller’s Almanac). I’m not too sure what to say about this one. A bizarre story, with characters I didn’t like much… Werther (the main character) reminded me a little of Winston from 1984, though I’m not entirely sure why. It took a long time to finish, but I’m glad I’ve finally read it & can move on to the next story in the collection.1 star

Intisar Khanani//ThornThorn by Intisar Khanani. Well-written, with an interesting storyline – my first experience with the Goose Girl fairytale, so I don’t know how faithful it is to the original, but it definitely had a magical quality to it. I loved how Alyrra struggled between her desires and her duties, and how she finally found the courage to stand up for what she believed in. Kestrin was interesting, too, but less developed. Unfortunately, the combination of first-person & Alyrra’s pseudonym also meant that I continually forgot what her real name was… :/4 stars

Shannon Hale//The Goose GirlThe Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. Another Goose Girl re-telling (obviously), but much lighter in tone than Thorn. Ani was also far more “princess-y” than Alyrra was (understandably, since Ani had actually been treated like a princess, where Alyrra was scorned by her family). It was beautifully-written, & the side characters were better-developed in this one (with the exception of Selia, whose character & motivations were much less clear than Valka’s). I also found myself liking Geric & Ani’s romance a lot, even though it only played a small part in the story & the twist at the end was a little predictable (as fairytale “twists” often are!). I’m not entirely sure which version I liked better, but they were definitely both worth reading! 🙂4 stars

Diana Gabaldon//OutlanderCross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon (known simply as Outlander in the US). It read surprisingly easily, for an 800+ word book. I actually picked it up because I was enjoying the TV series so much, but I ended up liking the book even more. There’s less of Frank, of course (since it’s written in first person, from Claire’s perspective), which makes it less conflicting for the reader, and the TV series seems to have more fleshed-out side characters & settings, but at the expense of Claire & Jamie’s romance (the book focuses much more on their interactions). I like where the plot seems to be going, & am looking forward to seeing Bonnie Prince Charlie in book 2!4 stars

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August Book Haul!

As if I needed more books. But one of the great trials of book-lovers everywhere is, when walking past a bookshop, resisting the urge to go inside, and (once, inevitably, inside) battling the compulsive need to buy everything in sight. Lack of funds often helps to curb that second impulse, but, alas, not always – on this particular occasion, it was not helpful in the least.

August Haul

The (physical) books I bought this month!

So, this is what I bought (& thankfully, not all of these were impulse buys):

1) The Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick. This book sounds very mysterious. I actually don’t know any more about it than what’s written on the back, but I’ve heard really great things about Marcus Sedwick’s writing, so I’m looking forward to trying this out. Also, I bought it second hand, so it was super-cheap.

2) The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. I read Princess Academy by Shannon Hale so long ago that I can only remember the vaguest details of what it’s about, but I remember being very pleasantly surprised by it. I don’t know what this one’s about, but I’ve heard that it’s one of her best works, & I’ve been meaning to pick it up for a while, so…

3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. One of my favourite books of all time. I read this one for the first time a few months ago, while I was in Beijing, but I was under a very strict no-physical-books rule at the time (because I needed all my stuff to fit inside one suitcase for the trip home), so I borrowed a copy from a friend of mine. This book was actually the reason that I was in Waterstones today: I wanted to make sure that I got a copy with the pretty cover (which I did), ’cause I keep seeing the movie-cover edition everywhere…

4) Four by Veronica Roth. The Divergent novella bind-up. I read this pretty much as soon as I bought it, & I really enjoyed it.

5) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. A complete impulse buy. But I really want to read this soon, because it’s beautiful (but also giant).

6) Boxers & Saints (box-set) by Gene Luen Yang. I actually ordered this one while I was still in China, & then had to wait an agonising (approximately) two months before I could read it. 😦 This is a graphic novel series about the Boxer Rebellion, & it made me feel all kinds of unexpected things. Of the two books, I think I preferred Saints (the second), but not by much – they’re both absolutely amazing.

Philip Pullman//Four Tales

Seriously, this thing is so far beyond gorgeous that I can’t even…

7) Four Tales by Philip Pullman. I’ve had my eye on this book for so long, but I’ve been putting off buying it because it’s pretty expensive. But I couldn’t resist any longer! Look how pretty it is! The aforementioned “four tales” are The Firework-Maker’s DaughterI Was a Rat!Clockwork, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. Philip Pullman was one of my favourite authors when I first started getting into reading, & I Was a Rat! was actually one of the first books that I read & really loved (it’s a Cinderella retelling/sequel-type thing, from the perspective of one of the rats that was transformed by Cinderella’s fairy godmother). The other three stories I haven’t read yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to.

8) Percy Jackson & the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan. Greek mythology as told by Percy Jackson (as far as I can tell). I studied Classics at university, so I’m assuming that I’ll be familiar with most of the actual stories in here, but I really love the way that Rick Riordan writes Percy’s voice~ 🙂

9) Japanese from Zero! Vol. 1. A beginner’s Japanese textbook. I’ve completed the first lesson, & it seems pretty good so far. The most exciting thing about it, in my opinion, is that as you learn the kana characters, they start replacing the roman characters, so you’re constantly reviewing the kana just by progressing through the lessons. (This is helpful for lazy people like me, who can’t be bothered to review normally, unless there’s a test coming up…)

& that’s all! This was a way longer first post than I expected it to be… & I didn’t even include all the kindle books I bought this month! I’ll probably do an ebook haul sometime later in the month, because I expect I’ll be buying more of them, but goodbye for now!

~Fran.