Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Update 2 & Mini-Review

Sally Slater//PaladinJUST FINISHED: Paladin by Sally Slater.
[Finished at ~2:00am, & 386 pages long.]

Having picked this up on a whim, simply because it was on special offer and looked interesting, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it – but I’m really glad I took that chance. Paladin follows a young noble girl called Samantha (Sam, to her friends), who’s chafing against her family’s rules and expectations, and when her father gives her a dire ultimatum – she must find a husband before her next birthday, or he will find one for her – she instead decides to run away and follow her dream of joining the Paladins (an organisation of warriors who are trained to kill demons), even if it means disguising her sex, and forsaking her friends and family forever.

I’ve read a lot of fantasy in my time, and this is certainly not the very best I’ve read, but it was incredibly fun. The three main characters – Sam, her Paladin-instructor Tristan, and her fellow trainee Braeden – are all great characters individually, with their own distinctive quirks and narrative voices, and together they make for an incredibly fun, dynamic team – their banter was one of my favourite things about this book. The plot was also very well thought-out, and although I was able to predict quite a few of the major developments quite early on, Slater was still able to surprise me in other places, and to keep me interested in what would happen next.

I only had a couple of small problems with the book. Firstly, the pacing felt a little too quick. The story read as if it only took place over a few weeks, even though we were often reminded that a much longer time had passed between. Secondly, I felt that the world was rather under-developed, and if you know anything about me by now, you’ll know that I think thorough world-building is a must, especially for fantasy novels. That said, there is apparently a sequel in the works, so hopefully these problems will be fixed sometime soon. 🙂4 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Bedtime for sleepy bunnies. I’m setting my alarm for quite early tomorrow, though, so I can get started on book no. 3!

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Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Update 1 & Mini-Review

Rainbow Rowell//Carry OnJUST FINISHED: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.
[Finished at ~6:45pm, & 517 pages long.]

I had a good feeling about this book. In fact, I had the best feeling about it. When I first read Fangirl, a couple of years ago on the plane to China, my main feeling at the end of it was that – although I had enjoyed it a lot – I really wished I’d been able to read the Simon Snow series (a fictional series of books that existed in that universe) instead, or – even better – Cath’s fanfic version of the last book, Carry On, Simon. So when I heard this was coming out, I was beyond excited, and I’ve been dying to read it ever since. Spoiler: It was everything I hoped it’d be, and more. 😉

Carry On follows our protagonist, Simon Snow, in his eighth and final year at Watford School of Magicks, in which he must take on the Insidious Humdrum – a mysterious creature that somehow seems to eat magick – as well as solve the mystery of his probably-evil, but definitely-a-vampire roommate, Baz, who has annoyingly not even bothered to show up this year.

Character-wise, this book was spot-on. Simon was adorable, and I spent much of the book just wanting to give him a hug; Penelope was ridiculously awesome, and probably the best friend he (or anyone) could ask for; and Baz was suitably snarky and mysterious. Of the main cast, Agatha was the only one I didn’t love, but even she felt very real, and she grew on me after a while. It was also pretty much perfect in terms of plot. It had enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, but none of them felt like they were just sprung on you out of nowhere (which is something I often find annoying). A couple of the mysteries in this book, like the identity of Lucy, I felt like I figured out a little earlier than I was supposed to, but even in that case, there was much more to her presence than I’d expected. And that finale was epic.

A couple of other things I should mention: Rowell’s writing is as smooth and beautiful as always. Her style is incredibly easy to read, and completely sucks you into the story. I also really, really loved the magic system she came up with for this book. All the spells are based on sayings, and she explains that they tend to lose power once the fall out of fashion with “Normals” (a.k.a. non-magical people). For instance, there’s a healing spell that’s simply called “Get well soon”, and a warming spell called “Some like it hot”, amongst many, many others.

So, my final verdict? Practically perfect in practically every way. Definitely adding this to my favourites. 😀 (Also, I don’t think you need to have read Fangirl to enjoy this, but knowing how this book came to be added to the reading experience in my case.)5+ stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Slightly worried that nothing else I read this weekend is going to live up to this! XD

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: TBR

The time for the October Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon has almost arrived! And, once again, I plan on participating. 🙂 For those of you who don’t know, the gimmick (I suppose) with this readathon is that it lasts for 24 hours straight, and the starting and ending times are the same wherever you are in the world. That – and all the competitions and events that run on the Dewey’s blog – make for a really fun readathon, and a pretty strong sense of community.

Here are some links for you:

I’m probably not going to be doing quite so many of the memes and challenges this time around, as last time I think I went a bit overboard with my post-spamming. I’m also not going to be trying to stay up all night – my sleep schedule has been completely out-of-whack recently, and an all-nighter would probably be one of the worst things I could do while I’m still trying to fix it. I will however be doing my usual mini-reviews for each book that I finish, and I’ll also be doing posts for those challenges that I do decide to take part in… I hope you’re all looking forward to it! 😀

Last (but by no means least) up, here’s my tentative TBR (and it is very tentative, as my reading has been quite slow of late):

Dewey's TBR

1) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I started reading this book a few days ago (and am loving it), so there’s a good chance I’ll have finished it before the readathon starts… But if not, then this book will be my first port of call. 😉

2) The Sandman, Volume 8: World’s End by Neil Gaiman. Another book that I’ve already started (just barely). I’m not particularly fussed about whether I finish this one particularly soon, though, so it may end up falling a little by the wayside.

3) Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (illustrated edition). This one I will probably not be finishing during the readathon, as I’m really enjoying taking my time with it. I am very likely, however, to read a couple of chapters of it between my other books.

4) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve wanted to read this for quite a while, and it’s the Waterstones Book Club pick for October, so I want to read it soon… I haven’t actually been in the mood for dystopian lately, though, so who knows? (Certainly not me. 😉 )

5) Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. The book on this list that is most likely to actually be read (after Carry On, of course). A YA fantasy, which I’ve been strangely craving in the last couple of weeks. Probably because of all the Dragon Age I’ve been playing. 😛

6) A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar. Apparently a classic fantasy novel, though I know very little about it. I am quite intrigued, however, so this is probably what I’ll pick up next if I finish both Carry On and Seeker.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Wrap Up & Ending Meme

So, it’s finally over! I just woke up, after crashing halfway through hour 18 (at about 6.30am), but that’s still 2 hours longer than in October, so I’m happy. 🙂 To finish things up, here’s the ending meme:

ENDING MEME

1) Which hour was most daunting for you?

Probably hour 16 or 17. I knew I was reaching my limit, but there was still a fair bit of my book left to read… (and I really, really didn’t want to go to sleep before finishing it).

2) Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Anything in the 9-12 age range is a good choice, I think – they tend to be fast-paced and not too difficult to read, even when you’re tired.

3) Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

It’d be great to add a charity aspect to it, if readers were encouraged to ask people to sponsor them…

4) What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

There were a lot of really fun, creative challenges, and they were pretty accessible to people who were reading all kinds of different books.

5) How many books did you read?

Two, and about a chapter of a third.

6) What were the names of the books you read?

Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean, Talon by Julie Kagawa, and a little bit of All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher.

7) Which book did you enjoy most?

It’s too hard to choose! I really loved both of the books that I finished.

8) Which did you enjoy least?

I guess, All I Know Now, though I’m still really enjoying it. I just haven’t read enough to make a proper judgement yet…

9) If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

N/A.

10) How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

Oh, I’ll definitely participate again as a reader, though it might be nice to be a cheerleader, too, next time… 🙂

 

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Best of Best Challenge

This is the hour 18 challenge, and will probably be my last, since I’m pretty exhausted now… But nevertheless! The challenge is just to share some of your favourite things from the books you’ve read this year – and there were a lot of categories to pick from, so here are a few:

1) Best Indie Author of Your Reading Year

Isabel Greenberg, who wrote (and drew, since they’re graphic novels) The Encyclopedia of Early EarthThe River of Lost Souls and The Snow Queen and Other Stories, as well as a couple of other things that I haven’t read.

2) Best Character You Love To Have of Your Reading Year

Katie from Trouble by Non Pratt. She was such an amazing antagonist, and I hated her so much!

3) Best Fantasy Book of Your Reading Year

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. I’ve loved all the books in the series so far, but thankfully it just seems to get better and better as it goes on, so, naturally, Heir of Fire is my favourite at the moment.

4) Best Supporting Character of Your Reading Year

Gabriel from the Half Life trilogy by Sally Green, who is Nathan’s best (and pretty much his only) friend, and a witch who has turned himself into a fain (basically a Muggle) by accident.

5) Best Romance Book of Your Reading Year

Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons. A World War II story about a couple who have been separated – Tatiana is a refugee in America, while Alexander is fighting in the Soviet Army – and don’t even know whether each other are dead or alive. So much drama! So many feelings! 😥

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Update 2 & Mini-Review

Julie Kagawa//TalonJUST FINISHED: Talon by Julie Kagawa.
[Finished at ~5:15am, & 461 pages long.]

I’m not entirely sure what I expected from this book, but it certainly wasn’t what I got – in the best possible way. 🙂 I love it when I go into a book blind, and this is the result!

Talon is the story of a girl called Ember, who is a young dragon trying to assimilate into human society (dragons in this world all have human forms, though they’re apparently not all that comfortable to be in) by spending her summer at the beach and making friends, and in the process, she meets and starts to fall for a human boy called Garret.

Unfortunately, Garret is secretly a member of the Order of St. George – a group of militant dragon-hunters – and he’s only in California because he’s undercover, trying to find the “sleeper agent” that the dragon organisation Talon has placed there for assimilation (i.e. Ember).

Other characters include: Dante, Ember’s twin brother; Riley, a rogue dragon who’s broken away from Talon; Tristan, Garret’s hunting partner; a woman Ember refers to as “Scary Talon Lady”; and a small selection of Ember’s human friends.

With the exception of Ember’s friends (who were a little under-developed), all the characters in this story were really well fleshed-out and believable, and all three of the characters whose perspective we read from (Ember, Garret & Riley) were really likeable. The story was incredibly fast-paced and gripping, as well, and left off on a slight cliffhanger (which is a bit annoying, but thankfully the sequel will be out in a couple of days).

Needless to say, I will definitely be continuing on with this series. 😀4 stars

CURRENT READATHON STATUS: Just about (more like, way past) ready to crash…

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: Mid-Event Survey & More Challenges!

So, we’re halfway through the readathon, and it’s just passed midnight. I’m making pretty good progress so far (though I wish I’d saved more of my fudge), but I’ve got a couple of challenges to catch up on, plus a survey – so here we go:

MID-EVENT SURVEY

1) What are you reading right now?

Talon by Julie Kagawa.

2) How many books have you read so far?

Just one – Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. Though I’ve also finished the first act of All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher.

3) What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Apart from finishing Talon, I’m also excited about reading A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (which, now that I think about it, is very ominously titled… Hopefully I won’t conk out before I finish it. :/ ).

4) Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

Unless you count snack breaks / mealtimes as interruptions, then no. I’ve had a pretty calm reading day.

5) What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I’ve not been reading as quickly as I expected to, which is a shame, though I’m thankfully still enjoying the books that I’m reading. The biggest surprise, though, is probably how much I liked Peter Pan in Scarlet – definitely a happy surprise! 😀

IN 100 YEARS CHALLENGE

This challenge was to come up with a list of three recent books that you think people will still be reading in 100 years, and to explain why, which is a really interesting idea.

1) The Harry Potter series (by J.K. Rowling). This kind of an obvious choice, but I’m pretty sure that it’ll still be very well known in 100 years, if only for the impact that it’s had on society and fan-culture. Who knows? It might even have become a set text in schools (it wouldn’t surprise me 😛 ).

2) The His Dark Materials trilogy (by Philip Pullman). This is one of those rare children’s series that actually provides a really powerful commentary on science, religion and humanity in general. It definitely doesn’t hurt that they’re also fantastic books.

3) We Need to Talk about Kevin (by Lionel Shriver). This was just a really, really, astonishingly powerfully-written book; the kind of book that’ll have you thinking about it for months after you’ve finished reading it.

PLAN A BOOKISH PARTY CHALLENGE

1) What book is your party themed around?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll!

2) What food will you serve?

Scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream; cucumber sandwiches shaped like dormice; biscuits decorated to look like playing cards and top hats; and marshmallows shaped like mushrooms, with “eat me” labels on them.

3) What’s your signature drink?

Tea, naturally. 🙂 And maybe some brightly-coloured punch or cocktails in little “drink me” bottles.

4) What games will you play?

Croquet, with bright pink mallets, and the card game Hearts.

5) What party favors will you send home with your guests?

A deck of Alice in Wonderland-themed cards and a variety of interesting kinds of teabags.