T5W: Polarising Books

Some books are like Marmite; you either love them have terrible taste, or you hate them just the smell of them makes you want to vomit. As you can probably tell, I’m not a Marmite fan, but these five books left a much more favourable impression, despite their detractors.

Stephanie Perkins//Isla and the Happily Ever After5) Isla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

I’ve never heard anyone say outright that they disliked Isla & the Happily Ever After, but pretty much every review I’ve come across agrees that it was something of a disappointing ending to the trilogy – citing their favourite parts of the book as the moments that call back to the previous books. It’s certainly much less dramatic than either Anna or Lola, but everyone else’s loss is apparently my gain, as Isla was my favourite book in the whole series. I really enjoyed the relatively drama-free romance between Isla and Josh, as well as the fact that we actually got to see their relationship progress throughout the story (rather than having it end as soon as they got together). Isla herself was a great selling point, too, as I personally found her (and all her self-consciousness and self-sabotaging) much more relatable than the previous two heroines… Also: Josh. (Josh! ❤ )

William Golding//Lord of the Flies4) Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This is one of those books that’s often used as assigned reading in school (and completely ruined by means of over-analysis), which I think is a big reason why it’s so despised by a lot of people (though I’m sure there are other reasons, too). I didn’t read it in school – lucky me! 😀 – and while I found the first half of the book tough to get through, I loved how dark it got as the story went on.

Lauren Oliver//Requiem3) Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Probably my least favourite of the books on this list, but also a book that I hear being bashed all over the place; the first time I ever even heard of the Delirium  trilogy, it was my aunt telling me that Delirium and Pandemonium were pretty much perfect, but Requiem was a rubbish way to end the series (paraphrased, and probably also embellished). But I actually ended up enjoying Requiem a lot more than Pandemonium (I was never able to take Julian seriously as a love interest…)

Patrick Rothfuss//Slow Regard of Silent Things2) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

A spin-off from the fantastic Kingkiller Chronicle books, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is divisive even among the most die-hard of Rothfuss’ fans… and I can see why. The story’s told from the perspective of a minor character called Auri, who has a rather unusual outlook on life (to put it mildly), and mainly consists of her wandering around the strange tunnels where she lives, and moving things about. In a way, it’s kind of a story about decorating…? Rothfuss even put a note in the beginning of the book, preemptively apologising to all the fans who would (inevitably) dislike it. I thought it was pretty charming, however, and it had a dream-like tone that made it really easy to get lost in. It helped, of course, that I’ve always found Auri to be a great mystery, and it was fascinating to finally be able to take a look inside her head.

Stephanie Meyer//Twilight1) The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer

Most of you are probably pretty sure by now that I’m simply a poor judge of quality literature, but to put the final nail in the coffin: I kind of love Twilight. Sure, its flaws are many, and blatant, and in most cases quite serious. Most of the main characters are either bland or creepy (or both), and the plot is so much an afterthought that it’s a wonder it even made it into the book at all. But still… these books were so much fun to read! And I figure that it’s fine to love something as objectively terrible as this series, as long as I also acknowledge that terribleness… right? 😉

[Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. To find out more or join in, check out the Goodreads group.]

Advertisements

July Wrap-Up

July is over, and I’ve read a truly surprising amount! I think I can safely say that I’m now out of my minor reading slump (hopefully for good!). In all, I managed to read 9 novels, and two short stories last month, and although there were a couple of duds in the mix, most of them were really enjoyable! 😀 Here’s what I thought of them:

Melissa Marr//Ink ExchangeInk Exchange by Melissa Marr. The follow up to Wicked Lovely, which I enjoyed but didn’t think was particularly wonderful. In fact, I mainly read that book because I thought this one sounded interesting when I stumbled across a second-hand copy at work. 😉 Luckily, my book-sense has yet to lead me astray; Ink Exchange was a big improvement on its predecessor. The story follows Aislinn’s friend Leslie, who is struggling to deal with her often-absent father and her abusive brother, and – the cherry on top – catches the eye of Irial, King of the Dark Court of Faerie. Naturally, the plot of this book was a lot darker and more serious, but I also felt that the main characters were much more relatable and enjoyable to read than Aislinn & Keenan were. The love triangle in this book, too, was a lot more palatable than the one in Wicked Lovely, since (despite the less-than-altruistic reasons for Irial’s interest in Leslie) there seemed to be a lot more genuine affection between the three of them; right up to the end, I had no idea who Leslie would decide to be with (if anyone).4 starsPatrick Rothfuss//Slow Regard of Silent ThingsThe Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. A novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe, which follows Auri about her strange, everyday life. This story seems to have sparked a lot of controversy with Rothfuss’ fans – they either love it or hate it – but I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed it! Not much happens in the story, there’s no dialogue whatsoever, and Auri is the only character who appears, but I loved the atmosphere that Rothfuss was able to create, and the insight into Auri’s mind (and I suspect that she is much cleverer than she appears to be), and how the inanimate objects around Auri really seemed like living, feeling things.4 starsKitty Aldridge//A Trick I Learned from Dead MenA Trick I Learned from Dead Men by Kitty Aldridge. A short-ish novel that follows a young man who’s training as an undertaker while supporting his deaf brother and depressed stepfather. This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for July, so I have a mini-review of it up already. 🙂2 starsSimone Elkeles//Perfect ChemistryPerfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. A romance between a teenager called Brittany who – due to some problems at home – feels the need to always be seen as perfect, and Alex, a classmate of hers from a dangerous part of town, who joined a gang in order to get protection for his family. I downloaded this mostly on a whim, and regretted it a bit afterwards, since I’ve heard very mixed things about the series, but I actually really enjoyed it. Sure, it’s incredibly cheesy in places, and there were bits of Alex and Brittany’s dialogue that came across as laughably unrealistic, and there was a 23-years-later epilogue that really annoyed me (as unnecessary last-minute flash-forwards always do)… but it was also a lot of fun to read, and pretty well-written. I don’t know if I’m likely to pick up the rest of the series, but I don’t regret reading this one, at least.3 stars

Before I could finish anything else, Booktubeathon came along! I managed to read a grand total of five books over the course of the readathon (which is pretty good, if I do say so myself, especially considering how busy I was that week), all of which I’ve written mini-reviews for – you can read them by clicking on the covers:

Junot Díaz//The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Franny Billingsley//The Folk Keeper Sabaa Tahir//An Ember in the Ashes Brandon Sanderson//Perfect State Bram Stoker//Dracula

Neil Gaiman//NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman. A fantastic novel about a man who, after finding an injured young woman on the side of the road and deciding to help her, gets dragged into the mysterious world of London Below, where people end up when they fall through the cracks of society. In an effort to reclaim his life, he ends up going on an adventure with Door (the aforementioned young woman), who’s trying to solve the mystery of her family’s murder. I loved absolutely everything about this book: The memorable characters, the beautiful writing, the whole world of London Below (which was incredibly bizarre, but also managed to make an odd sort of sense). The way that the story progressed was quite similar to Stardust, and I therefore found the ending a little predictable, but I was so enchanted that I didn’t even mind.5 stars

Abbi Glines//Until Friday NightUntil Friday Night by Abbi Glines. The first book in The Field Party series, which is a romance between a football player called West, who’s struggling to deal with his father’s cancer, and a girl called Maggie, who hasn’t spoken since her mother died. I’ve written a full review of this book, where you can read all my (numerous) thoughts about the story and characters, etc. – you can find it here.2 stars

Teaser Tuesday #5

Patrick Rothfuss//Slow Regard of Silent ThingsTHE RULES:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
    • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Last night I finally picked up The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss, a book I’ve been meaning to read for quite some time, but never seemed to get ’round to… All I know about it so far is the basics: It’s a novella, and it’s about Auri, a fascinating minor character from the Kingkiller Chronicle series. And it’s had some pretty mixed reviews, as well. Some people love it; some people hate it (probably mostly because it’s not Doors of Stone… I want to read that book so badly!). I’m obviously hoping to be in the former camp, but we’ll have to see! ^^’

Teaser #1:

It made no difference if her eyes were open, so she left them closed while her hands sought out her cedar box.

Teaser #2:

There was a door, but it was terribly bashful, so Auri politely pretended not to see it.

[Teaser Tuesday was created by MizB over at A Daily Rhythm.]

October Haul

In terms of book-buying, this month actually ended up being even more extravagant than last month… 😦 I think I may have a problem. On the plus side, though, I have now bought all but one of the books on my new list of books that I’m allowed to buy this year, so there probably won’t be a November or December haul (unless I get books for Christmas. Or lose control of my book-buying impulses…).

October HaulAnyway, here goes nothing:

1) Throne of GlassCrown of MidnightHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. The first three books in a series about an assassin called… Caelena? Forgive me if I’ve misspelt her name. :/ Anyway, I’ve been in the mood for assassin books recently, & I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series (and they were in the buy-one-get-one-half-price offer at Waterstones!), so I couldn’t pass them up.

2) Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik. The fourth book in the Temeraire series. I really love these books, though I’ve only read the first two. I also really love the covers, so I thought I’d pick this one up before all the copies get replaced by the new, much uglier ones. The series basically centres around the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons.

3) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while – since  I heard about it when it won the Costa Novel Award for 2013 – and I finally decided to pick it up since it was on special offer (& I haven’t been able to get hold of a copy from my library). As far as I can tell, it’s about reincarnation… Or else repeating the same life over and over. I’m not entirely sure, but it sounds pretty interesting.

4) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I decided to pick this up after reading The Jewel by Amy Ewing, since it’s been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t know much about this book – despite the fact that it’s a classic – except that it’s set in a dystopian future where the birth rate has gone way down…

5) Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. An apparently sad contemporary road-trip book that I don’t know much about, but have heard is good. I will probably be reading this soon.

6) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. A novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe. I have the two main books in this series on my kindle, so I was actually planning on getting this one in ebook form, but then I walked into Waterstones & found that they had signed copies! So this is signed, & beautiful, & I will probably read this pretty soon, too. 🙂

7) Clariel by Garth Nix. The Old Kingdom prequel. I have been waiting for this book for almost 10 years, & it is so good to finally have it on my shelf. 😀

8) The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. The final Heroes of Olympus book. I’ve actually already read this one, & written a mini-review, which you can find here.

9) The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. Another book I’ve already finished reading, & loved. The first book in the new Magisterium series, which follows a boy names Call who decidedly does not want to go to the Magisterium & become a mage. Unfortunately (for him, but not for us 😛 ), it seems that the universe has other plans.

Upcoming releases of 2014

A lot of great books have already been released this year, but here’s a few more that I’m really excited for (mostly new entries in series’ I’ve been following…). October in particular looks like it’s going to be an exciting month!

[NB: All the release dates I’ve given here are accurate as of 29/08/2014, according to the following wesites: amazon.co.uk, tamorapierce.com and katielmcgarry.com.]

Garth Nix//Clariel

& the cover matches the other books I have in the series! I especially love that the background is made up of tiny charter marks…

Clariel by Garth Nix (2nd October)

The long-awaited final (kind of) book in the Old Kingdom trilogy (which is, I suppose, technically not a trilogy any more). And when I say long-awaited, I really mean it: I’ve been wanting more of this universe since Abhorsen was first released about 10 years ago…

This is apparently a prequel to the series – a concept that’s grown on me, even though I was initially hoping it would be a next-generation type thing – & since the main character is one of the Clayr (a society of respected seers living in the Old Kingdom), I’m hoping that Clariel will be Lirael’s mother… but even if it’s not, I’m still excited! Post-Sabriel, I was dubious about the introduction of new lead characters in the second book, but I actually ended up loving Lirael even more than Sabriel, so I have faith in Garth Nix’s ability to make me love new characters.

17378508Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (3rd October)

The third book of the Raven Cycle (also called the Raven Boys quartet). I also don’t know much about this book, but the first two books were so, so amazing, so I have high hopes for this one. This should basically be the continuing adventures of Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah (all of whom I love. The plot & writing for this series is great, but I think the characters are what sold me on it). Also, I have no idea why, but I really love the title of this book.

 

Rick Riordan//Blood of Olympus

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (7th October)

The final book in the Heroes of Olympus series. Need I say more? I actually like this series even better than the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, even though I didn’t initially like all the new characters so much (Piper kind of annoyed me in The Lost Hero, and I thought Jason was a little bland and their relationship rather forced, but they’ve both grown on me since). Also, this series just keeps getting better as it goes on, so my expectations for The Blood of Olympus are pretty high.

What I want from this book: 1) Awesomeness , 2) More awesomeness, 3) For it to never, ever end, and 4) Nico-POV. That last one? I convinced myself it was going to happen in The House of Hades (book 4), and then it didn’t, so I don’t want to get my hopes up too much (& yet, I really feel like it might happen this time…).

Patrick Rothfuss//Slow Regard of Silent Things

I really love the UK covers for this series… So pretty!

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss (28th October)

This is a novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe, from the perspective of Auri, the girl who Kvothe discovered living in the tunnels beneath the University in The Name of the Wind. I don’t really know much about this book, but Patrick Rothfuss’ writing is amazing, & I really love the world he created in The Kingkiller Chronicle, so I’m looking forward to it anyway. And Auri’s a pretty mysterious character, so it’ll be interesting to learn more about her. I’m hoping that there’ll be lots of backstory.

 

The Gift of Power by Tamora Pierce (sometime this autumn)

The first in a new Tortall-universe series (series!) called Exile, which follows Numair Salmalin (first introduced in the Immortals quartet) as a student in Carthak, and the origins of his feud with Emperor Ozorne. Obviously (and sadly), there will be no Daine in this book, but it’ll definitely be interesting to read about Numair before he met her, and according to goodreads, we’ll be getting at least two books in this series!

Some issues: I’m not entirely sure how often Tamora Pierce’s website is actually updated, but the release date listed there is “Fall 2014” (however, it also just lists one book, & refers to it as Exile, rather than The Gift of Power). Goodreads has The Gift of Power specifically listed for release sometime in 2015, so I might be waiting for this book a while. Also, if you’re interested in reading or buying this book (and you live in the UK), you should note that Tamora Pierce’s books are no longer being published in the UK (which sucks), so you’ll have to get an imported copy online.

Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry (30th December in the US / 1st January in the UK)

The (probably) final book in the Pushing the Limits series, which is set between books 1 & 2 (around the same time as the novella, Crossing the Line), and brings us back to Noah and Echo, the main characters from the first book in the series, as they spend the summer holidays together and try to figure out if their relationship will last (my guess is, it will 😉 ). I haven’t read the sample chapter on goodreads, because I don’t want to be annoyed by the fact that I can’t read the rest until the end of the year, but if you’d like to check it out, then you can find it here.

This series has been a little hit-and-miss with me: I really loved Pushing the Limits (book 1) and Crash Into You (book 3), but Dare You To, Take Me On (books 2 & 4, respectively) and the spin-off novella were a little lackluster. That said, I really hope that Katie McGarry will write more of this series. It’d be really great to get a book following Abby and Logan, or even an Ethan book (though I’m not entirely sold on the idea of Ethan and Abby that some fans have been talking about…).

What books are you guys excited for this year? Let me know in the comments!