October Haul

Once again, I managed to accumulate quite a lot of books in October – and most of them were new releases, which is unusual for me. There’ve just been so many books released recently that I really, really wanted to read… 😳 Hopefully my book-buying will slow down for a while after this, but for now, here’s my October haul:

October haul

1) Magnus Chase & the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. The first book in the new Norse mythology series, Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard. I’ve been excited for this book since I heard it was going to be a thing, and although I’m not really in the mood for more Percy & co. at the moment, I’ve heard really fantastic things from those who have already read it. 😀

2) Percy Jackson & the Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan. A book I put off buying because of my (now failed) book-buying ban… I was thinking of waiting for this to come out in paperback, simply because I don’t have all that much space left on my bookshelves, but eventually I decided I’d rather have it match my (hardback) copy of Percy Jackson & the Greek Gods

3) Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. The new illustrated edition! 😀 Need I say more?

4) The Princess & the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux. The only book in this batch that I bought on impulse, and don’t really know anything about. I believe it’s a pirate book, and since I found it second hand, it was super-cheap. I was mostly drawn to it because of the swashbuckling that I assume it contains. Who doesn’t love swashbuckling? Not me. 😛

5) The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. The second book in the Magisterium series, which I’ve been excited for since I read The Iron Trial this time last year. This one follows Cal and his friends in their second year of magical schooling, but I know little more about it than that.

6) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. A kind-of companion novel to Fangirl (the characters in this are the ones that Cath was writing fanfiction about in that book), in which Simon Snow returns for his last year at Watford School of Magicks, and is tasked with having to save the magical world. I’ve already read this one – you can read my review of it here.

7) Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. The first book in the Lumatere Chronicles, a YA high fantasy series that I’ve heard really incredible (but vague) things about. I picked this up mostly as a pick-me-up on a particularly rubbish day, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet… 😦 Soon, hopefully.

8) Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan. The most recent instalment in this amazing space-odyssey graphic novel series, and (in my opinion) the best one yet. I will say no more, because spoilers.

9) Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. A second collection of short comics from Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant web-series. I’ve finished reading this one, too, and it may even be better than the first book (which is a difficult thing to achieve)… There was a little less history in this volume, though (or at least, less history that I didn’t understand), and a bit more literature, so that probably accounts for it. 🙂


And now, as a little extra, I have an additional mini-haul for you, since on Halloween morning, my cousin and I decided to drop in on the Cambridge Comic Art Festival at my local library. As per usual, I bought more than I probably should have (and most of it from the same artist’s stall), but I regret nothing. I’ve read all of these already, so if you’re curious about my thoughts, then you can take a look at my October wrap-up, and, when it’s up, my November one.

Cambridge Comic Art Festival haul

1) Adventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular by Hanna K. A short one-shot comic that follows Marceline from the Adventure Time cartoon series, and an adorable dog.

2) The Fabulous Adventures of a Gallant Gentleman by Emma Vieceli. Another one-shot comic, this one about an Antarctic explorer who wanders off in search of tea (as one does). A really, really fantastic read.

3) Dragon Heir Reborn, Volume 1 by Emma Vieceli. A high fantasy comic that follows a group of young men who carry inside them aspects of the dragon Spiratu’s soul.

4) The Avalon Chronicles, Volume 1: Once in a Blue Moon, & Volume 2: The Girl & the Unicorn by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir. The first two books in a(nother) fantasy series, about a girl from our world who one day gets sucked into a book that her parents used to read to her as a child. The art in this one is also by Emma Vieceli, and it’s beautiful.

Finally, since I spent so much money at Emma Vieceli’s stall ( 😳 ), she also gave me a sampler of her new webcomic (with Malin Ryden), Breaks, for free. And it may only be a sampler, but it’s pretty high-quality, and I’m really liking what I’ve read of the story so far, so I’ll be hanging onto it. 🙂 If you’ve a mind, you can read the webcomic here – it’s a not-so-cute contemporary romance series.

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October Wrap-Up

Another slightly slow reading month for me, though thankfully I feel like my reading slump is drawing to a close, helped along by some community reading events that I really enjoyed (the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon & the Library Scavenger Hunt, as well as a readalong with some of my friends). 🙂 I’m looking forward to the books I’m planning on reading in November, too – though I’m sure that NaNoWriMo (which I am attempting for the third time) will significantly cut into my reading time. ^^’ Anyway, in total this month, I managed to read 5 novels, 2 graphic novels, and 2 short/single-issue comics.

Kate Beaton//Step Aside, PopsStep Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. The follow-up to Hark! A Vagrant, which collects several more hilarious comics from Beaton’s webcomic of the same name. Some of my favourites in this volume include: The Nancy Drew book cover interpretations, Liszt and Chopin, the Wuthering Heights parodies, and many, many others.4 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 5Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan. The latest instalment of the Saga series – an epic space odyssey comic that follows a couple from two warring races, on the run from both of their respective societies in order to protect themselves and their daughter. Obviously, since this is the fifth volume, I can’t say much about the plot, but this is probably the best volume yet. 😀5 starsRick Riordan//The Red PyramidThe Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. The first book in the Kane Chronicles series, which follows Sadie and Carter Kane on their journey to defeat the evil god Set, and hopefully rescue their father along the way (and get mixed up in a lot of Egyptian magical messes). It’s tempting to say that this book felt a bit like a less-good version of Percy Jackson, because at times it did, and it’s difficult to look at the two series separately when Riordan is constantly trying to push the idea that they’re not fiction… Speaking of which, this book is written as if it’s been transcribed from a recording, which I wouldn’t have minded, if we’d been allowed to forget it for more than a couple of pages at a time, but Sadie and Carter were constantly interrupting each other, which made the narrative kind of choppy. The characters were also a little lackluster, and while Sadie seemed to come into her own towards the end of the book, Carter remained a bit “meh” the whole way through. (This all sounds very negative, doesn’t it? I did like this book, but it was definitely trying too hard to replicate everything that made Percy Jackson so great, and feels a little forced as a result. It’s a little hard to go back to after reading the Heroes of Olympus books – where Riordan did away with most of the gimmicky stuff – but if you manage to get through the first part of the book, I wager you’ll enjoy the result.)3 starsRainbow Rowell//Carry OnSally Slater//PaladinAt this point, the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon took over, for which I read two books: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and Paladin by Sally Slater (only the former of which was actually on my readathon TBR ^^’ ). I’ve written a mini-review for each of them, which you can read by clicking on their covers.5+ stars4 starsJoanne M. Harris//The Gospel of LokiThe Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. A re-telling of the legends of the Norse god Loki, as told by Loki himself, which was unfortunately not as good as I was hoping it would be (though, to be fair, my expectations were quite high). That said, I did enjoy it, and I have written a full review explaining my issues here. I read this book alongside Chloë from SSJTimeLord and Her Books and another (non-blogger) friend, and it was a really fun thing to do. More readalongs hopefully to come. 🙂3 starsPaul Dowswell//Sektion 20Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell. My Library Scavenger Hunt pick for October, which follows a teenager called Alex who lives in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I’ve written a mini-review of this book, which you can read here, if you’re interested, but – long story short – it’s not a book I’d recommend.2 starsHanna K//Adventure Time 2015 SpoooktacularAdventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular by Hanna K. A cute one-shot comic that follows Marceline and Schwabl, her adorable dog, as they explore the world that Marceline comes from. This apparently ties in to a new Marceline mini-series that’s going to be released soon, but even on its own (and even to someone like me who hasn’t read or watched much Adventure Time before), it’s a really great story, with some beautiful art.5 starsThe Fabulous Adventures of a Gallant Gentleman by Emma Vieceli. A short comic told mostly in pictures, about a man living (or possibly just camping) in the Antarctic, who sets out one day to find a cup of tea, and is helped along the way by penguins, seals, and a yeti! Another adorable read; it’s amazing to think that this whole thing was drawn in just a day! 😮5 stars

August & September Haul

I didn’t post a book haul in August, not because I suddenly developed a modicum of self-control, but for the exact opposite reason: I bought so many books that I couldn’t bring myself to look at them all together and not feel a bit embarrassed. 😳 I am comforted, however, by the fact that I’ve already read almost all of these, so that’s something…

Anyway, I bought most of these in the lead-up to the Booktubeathon, after which I put myself on a strict book-buying ban – which I managed to keep to (mostly), even if I’ve taken myself off it now. 🙂 Here’s what I bought:

August & September Haul1) My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrik Backman. I’d had my eye on this for a while, but what made me finally decide to buy it is the fact that it’s signed! I don’t really know what it’s about, except grandmothers, and possibly also superheroes.

2) Loveless, Volumes 11-12 by Yun Kouga. The latest two volumes in the Loveless series, which is about magic and murder and catboys, and is a lot of fun, though a little on the weird side. Fun fact: I read these not long after I bought them, and (somehow) only realised afterwards that I still haven’t read volume 9 or 10. 😳

3) Vampire Knight, Volume 11 by Matsuri Hino. The next volume I needed to read in the Vampire Knight series, which follows a girl whose duty is to keep the peace between the human and vampire students at her school.

4) Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater. The sequel to the Wolves of Mercy Falls books, which I read a couple of years ago and loved. I wanted to read this as soon as I realised it was going to be a thing, but I’ve been waiting for it to be released in paperback…

5) Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik. The fifth book in the Temeraire series, which I mainly picked up because I spotted it in the edition that I’ve been trying to collect. The books have all been re-released recently with new covers, so it’s getting increasingly difficult to find these editions…

6) Bunny Drop, Volumes 1-2 by Yumi Unita. The beginning of the Bunny Drop series, which I finally decided to read after about the third time watching the anime. A really cute story about a man who ends up raising his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter.

7) Fables, the Deluxe Edition: Book 1 by Bill Willingham. I bought book 2 of this series sometime this summer, so I picked this up when I was in London, since it was on special offer, and I wanted to – if not complete, then at least fill in the gap in my collection.

8) Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton. A collection of hilarious short comics from the webcomic of the same name. I bought this, and the next 3 books, using the Booktubeathon 100 books discount.

9) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. A cute graphic novel about a supervillain and his sidekick, Nimona. I’d been on the fence about buying this for a while, but I’m really glad that I did!

10) In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang. Another cute graphic novel about a girl who plays MMORPGs.

11) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. A collection of short horror stories in graphic novel format. Truly chilling – I will probably be re-reading this when Halloween rolls around. 🙂

12) Adventure Time Volume 1 by Ryan North. I picked this up at Oxfam since I enjoyed the Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake comic so much, but I will probably be library-ing the rest of the series… Still, a fun read, if you’re a fan of the Adventure Time cartoons.

13) The Princess & the Pony by Kate Beaton. I saw this on buy-one-get-one-half-price at Waterstones, and I couldn’t pass it up, even though I don’t usually read picture books. The tale of a warrior princess and her flatulent pony – by the same author as Hark! A Vagrant!

14) Night Owls by Jenn Bennett. A contemporary romance that I picked up on a whim, as the other half of that buy-one-get-one-half-price offer I just mentioned. And I’m super-glad that I did. This is probably one of my favourite books of the year so far. 😀 (Also called, in some places The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.)

15) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, which I picked up on release day because I’ve been so excited to read it for such a long time. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it was still pretty good! And now, of course, I just need to read book five~ 😉

16) Amulet Volumes 1-3 by Kazu Kibuishi. A graphic novel series about a brother and sister who find a doorway to another world in their house. I’d heard a lot of good things about this series, so when the first three volumes showed up at Oxfam, it didn’t take much to convince me to buy them…

17) A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar. Another one from Oxfam, though this one I’ve heard absolutely nothing about. It appears to be a fantasy novel, though, and sounds really, really intriguing. I hope to be reading this very soon.

September Wrap Up

Well, September has been a bit of a let-down, especially after August, which was a really great reading month. I did manage to read quite a bit (though not as much as I usually would – once again, I got distracted by video games), but for much of the month, I felt like every book I’d read was either terrible, or a disappointment in some way… I probably just had my expectations too high for the latter ones. :/ But in any case, this September, I managed to get through a grand total of five novels, and five comic books. Here’s what I thought of them:

Ryan North//Adventure Time vol. 1Adventure Time Volume 1 by Ryan North. Wacky adventures with Finn & Jake in the land of Ooo! I actually don’t know too much about Finn & Jake, as, generally speaking, I prefer the genderswapped uiverse (with Fionna & Cake), but this comic was super-fun, and I’m looking forward to the next volume. 🙂3 starsHolly Bourne//SoulmatesSoulmates by Holly Bourne. A romance between two teenagers whose relationship is threatened by… government agents who monitor weird, unbelievable sci-fi crap? I feel bad for rating this book so low, because I really wanted to like it – there were a few moments that made me laugh (particularly in the first few chapters), and Poppy & Noah’s romance was surprisingly cute, once I managed to get past the part of the book where they were just being obnoxious gits to each other… The writing was okay, but most of the characters were unbearable. And all the government stuff? It completely ruined the story. 😦 Holly Bourne also seemed to be trying really hard to push a feminist message with this book, but it was never expressed properly (usually just coming across as man-hating instead) and just fell completely flat. I ended up feeling like I’d just wasted my time reading this book… which is something that (fortunately) doesn’t happen often. :/1 starSarah J. Maas//Queen of ShadowsQueen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, which follows the assassin Celaena Sardothian – and saying anything else about the plot of this book would be spoilery, so I’ll keep it to myself~ 😉 That said, I felt that this book was a bit of a let down after Heir of Fire (which was definitely the best in the series so far). I still enjoyed the book a lot, and plot-wise it was as epic as I was hoping, but in regards to the romance (which, let’s face it, is an important part of this series’ popularity), I wish that Maas could take back everything that happened in Queen of Shadows… 😦 On a more positive note, though, I found Dorian’s perspective surprisingly interesting, and I really hope that that’ll continue for the rest of the series; Elide was an interesting new character, and I’m looking forward to seeing her interact with Celaena; the climax was absolutely epic; and Manon has now been solidified as my favourite character (though I wish that she and Petrah had met up again at some point) – and her’s was probably my favourite perspective to read from.4 starsKatie McGarry//Chasing ImpossibleChasing Impossible by Katie McGarry. The fifth book in the Pushing the Limits series, which follows Abby – Isaiah and Rachel’s friend from Crash Into You – and Logan, one of Ryan’s baseball friends in Dare You To. Abby is a drug dealer, and is struggling to keep her friends and loved ones safe from the dangers of her world, while Logan – an adrenaline junkie – is hiding his diabetes from his friends, because he doesn’t want to be seen as vulnerable. Abby & Logan’s story was great, too – I really liked both of them in the previous books, and they were both very sympathetic leads here. Chasing Impossible wasn’t quite as good as some of the better books in the series (i.e. Crash Into You and Pushing the Limits), but it was definitely better than the worse ones (e.g. Dare You To and Take Me On), and I had a fun time reading it.4 starsKazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 1Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi. The story of two siblings – Emily and Navin – who move to a new house with their mother after their father’s death. The house, however, turns out to be connected to a parallel world, full of monsters, and when their mother disappears one night, Emily and Navin must cross over in order to rescue her. This was a great start to the series: Fun, but with a slightly ominous atmosphere hanging over everything that happened – I found myself constantly holding my breath, waiting for something terrible to happen, which really added to the experience. In terms of the art, I’m not a huge fan of the character design, but it is growing on me, and the backdrops and the monsters are all wonderfully creepy. I’m definitely looking forwards to seeing where this series goes. 🙂4 stars

Kazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 2Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi. The adventure continues! This volume wasn’t quite so creepy, but the story is progressing very nicely, and I really liked Leon, the new character who was introduced in this book. I’m also pretty intrigued by Trellis, and I’m hoping he’s going to be joining the crew at some point~ 🙂4 starsKazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 3Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi. In which Emily & the crew search for the sky city of Cielis. This is the last of the volumes that I’ve managed to get hold of so far, which is a shame, since I’m really eager to read the rest of the series, now! And this book was even better than the last two – I came very close to giving it five stars~ 😀4 starsNeil Gaiman//Sandman vol. 7The Sandman, Volume 7: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman. A book that’s been on my currently-reading list for quite some time – not because I haven’t been enjoying it, but because I find the Sandman books quite heavy sometimes, and consequently I have to be in a very particular mood to pick them up. This volume follows Dream and Delirium as they go on a journey in search of their missing brother Destruction… And I really liked it. A lot more than I liked some of the other volumes (though I doubt anything in this series will ever live up to the perfection that was volume 2). But most of all, I thought it was great to get some new insights into Delirium’s character. She’s definitely one of the more intriguing members of the Endless.4 starsKate Cann//FiestaFiesta by Kate Cann. The first book in the unoriginally-named Beach series, which was mostly terrible (though it was still better than Soulmates). This was my Library Scavenger Hunt book for September, so I’ve written a proper review of it – you can read it here.1 starKeith Austin//Snow, WhiteSnow, White by Keith Austin. A slightly odd tale about a young boy (John) who starts seeing strange images in the mirror – and then his whole world starts to change. Surprisingly, this is only vaguely connected to any fairytales, and I didn’t notice any Snow White references at all (though there is an enchanted sleep at one point). Instead, it pitches itself as a horror story… I didn’t actually find it too scary, but it was quite eerie, and the writing was very atmospheric. A pleasant surprise at the end of what has, quite frankly, been a rather underwhelming month. I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can read here.3 stars

Summer Reader Book Tag

Summer is almost over, but there’s still time for me to post this before it becomes irrelevant! 😉 This tag was created by islandOFbooks, I believe, and I was (for once! 😀 ) actually tagged for it – by the lovely Cátia from The Girl Who Read Too Much! Now on to the tag:

Amy Tan//The Kitchen God's Wife1) Lemonade – a book that started off bitter but then got better

Since I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, I’ll once again take this chance to mention The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan. I really didn’t enjoy the first few chapters, but once the story got  going, it was an incredible read! I’ve written a full review of the book here, if you’re interested in checking it out. 🙂

Natasha Allegri//Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake2) Golden Sun – a book that made you smile beyond compare

Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake by Natasha Allegri makes me smile like a lunatic. It’s just so colourful and fun! I don’t know why I love the genderswapped Adventure Time universe so much, but I do, and this comic is Fionna & Cake at their best! 😀

Kim Thúy//Mãn3) Tropical Flowers – a book set in a different country

I have a lot of books that are set in countries other than England (especially America, China & Japan), but for this one I wanted to pick a book where the setting is a very prominent part of the story, so I decided to go with Mãn by Kin Thúy, which is set within a Vietnamese community in Montreal – and which is another book I’ve written a full review for (one of the first reviews I wrote)! You can read it here.

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban4) Tree Shade – a book where a mysterious or shady character was introduced

Sirius Black in Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling! He was such a suspicious character when he was introduced! And, actually, Remus Lupin was pretty shady, too, when we first met him (in the same book). Naturally, these two are some of my favourite characters now. 😛

Tahereh Mafi//Shatter Me5) Beach Sand – a book that was grainy, and the plot barely developed

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi had its strengths, but the plot was definitely not one of them. This trilogy is nominally a dystopian series, but you can only tell that it’s a dystopian because the characters keep telling you it is – the society and the problems it faces barely come in to the story, while it focuses instead on angsty romantic drama. I’ve written another full review of this series here, if you’d like to take a look.

Jane Austen//Emma6) Green Grass – a character that was full of life, making you smile

Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen’s novel Emma. She’s an incredible snob, and she always thinks that she knows better than everyone else, but I love her – partly because of those qualities. She just ends up in so many hilariously awkward situations throughout the book, and it never fails to get me smiling. 😀

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork Princess7) Watermelon – a book that had some juicy secrets

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare! The mystery of Tessa’s entire existence is something that will baffled me for the entire Infernal Devices trilogy – until I got to the end of the last book, where all was revealed. And it was absolutely worth the wait! One of the best conclusions to a series that I’ve read in a very long time.

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Fellowship of the Ring8) Sun Hat – a book with a vast universe/setting

It only makes sense to pick an epic fantasy for this question, and – though it’s an obvious answer – the biggest, most in-depth setting I’ve ever come across is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the setting of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (as well as a vast mythology, which is published in various places).

Jennifer L. Armentrout//Obsidian9) BBQ – a book in which a character was portrayed as a hunk

Almost every romance novel I’ve ever read! 😛 It was a difficult choice, but for this one I’ve decided to go with the Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Damon is the hunk in question, and his relationship with Katy – the main character – is a whole load of fun to read~ ❤

10) Summer Fun – pass the tag on

I pass. 😛 Since it’s very nearly the end of summer, I won’t be tagging anyone else specifically. If you’d like to do this tag despite the incoming cold, rainy weather, then feel free to consider yourself tagged by me! 🙂

February Haul

SO TALL! (You should be able to see the titles if you click on the image to zoom in...)

SO TALL! (You should be able to see the titles if you click on the image to zoom in…)

Something else that I should’ve posted a while ago… :/ And as you can see from the lovely picture to your left, this post is certainly not late because I didn’t buy enough books to merit a haul post. Rather, it’s late because I’ve had to take a significant amount of time to recover from the shame of having bought so many (& most of them are comics, too, which are expensive). 😦 The reason for my sudden splurge? Chloë came to visit towards the end of the month, and when I am with other bookish people, I tend to go to lots of bookish places, and buy books. (Self-control? What is this “self-control” you speak of?)

But anyway, here’s what I bought:

1) Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. All I know about this is that it’s non-fiction (probably), which I’ve been wanting to read more of, and it was super-cheap, so I thought I’d give it a try.

2) Great Tales from English History by Robert Lacey. Another non-fiction book (obviously), which I bought as part of the same deal. My historical knowledge is sorely lacking, so hopefully this will teach me a few things…

3) Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. I don’t even know what this is, but I couldn’t resist…

4) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. A re-telling of Homer’s Iliad, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. I have heard super-good things about it, and I am a Classicist… 😀

5) No Life but This by Anna Sheehan. A sci-fi (possibly romance?) novel that I found at the second-hand book stall at the market. Of course, only after buying it did I discover that it’s a sequel, but both books sound interesting, so I’ll have to track down the first book (A Long, Long Sleep) soon…

6) Sasameke, Volume 2 by Ryuji Gotsubo. This is actually a bind-up of the last half of the Sasameke series, which is a sports manga about a boy who was really, really good at football, then went away to play abroad for a year, and came back having given up the sport completely. It’s been a while since I read the first volume, so it probably merits a re-read, but I remember enjoying it a lot, & I’m looking forward to finishing off the series.

7) Little Red Riding Hood & Other Stories by Charles Perrault. A beautifully-illustrated edition of several classic fairytales, including Little Red Riding Hood (naturally), CinderellaBluebeard and Puss in Boots.

8) Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. A sequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which I don’t know all that much about, plot-wise, though I’ve been aware of it for a while…

9) The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips. A comedy set in Arthurian times, about the Knights of the Round Table. Again, I don’t really know anything else about it.

10) Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake by Natasha Allegri. A gender-swapped Adventure Time graphic novel, which I have already read and loved, so you can read about it in my February Wrap-Up.

11) Various DC New 52 comics, including: Volumes 2 & 3 of Teen Titans by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Scott Snyder & Tom DeFalco; Volume 3 of Red Hood & the Outlaws by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza & Scott Snyder; Volumes 2 & 3 of Nightwing by Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder & Tom DeFalco; Volumes 2 & 3 of Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi & Scott Snyder; Volumes 2 & 3 of Batman by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV; Batman: Night of the Owls by Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins, Tony S. Daniel, Scott Lobdell, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Gail Simone, Duane Swierczynski, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV & Judd Winick; and The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder, John Layman, Ann Nocenti, Adam Glass, James Tynion IV, Gail Simone, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Kyle Higgins, Tom DeFalco & Peter J. Tomasi. This impressive number of comics takes all the series on my buy-list through the Night of the Owls and Death of the Family storylines, and up to volume 3.

12) Saga, Volumes 1-4 by Brian K. Vaughan. The first three volumes I got in a massive bind-up, which is that blue book labelled “Book 1”, and Volume 4 individually (because I couldn’t bring myself to wait another 3 years or so for the next deluxe edition). Again, I’ve already read this, & I talked about it in my wrap-up, but to sum it up, it’s a sci-fi series about forbidden love in wartime.

13) Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan. A graphic novel about a pride of lions that escape from Baghdad Zoo, which, again, I’ve talked about already in my wrap-up.

14) The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. A collection of folk-tales set in “Early Earth”, a place that apparently existed before actual Earth. And, once again, I’ve already read this, & I’ll tell you about it in my March wrap-up, so there’s (thankfully, since my fingers are getting tired now) no need to say any more about it here.

February Wrap Up

February (particularly the latter half of it) turned out to be the month of the graphic novel. And I certainly read some excellent ones: the Saga series, Pride of Baghdad, and so on… In total, I ended up reading ten novels, one novella, and nine comic books, which is pretty good going for the shortest month of the year!

Patrick Ness//The Crane WifeThe Crane Wife by Patrick Ness. The story of a man called George, who saves the life of a crane, and then meets and falls in love with a mysterious woman called Kumiko. Also featuring prominently are George’s daughter Amanda, her co-worker Rachel, and a Japanese folk-tale about a crane and a volcano. A very emotional story, all about love and loss and forgiveness. As always, Patrick Ness’ writing is beautiful, and his characters very real, and the way that he spun the folk-tale into their lives was masterful.5 starsElizabeth Gaskell//North & SouthNorth & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. A classic romance set during the Victorian era, between the daughter of a parson fallen on hard times, and the master of a cotton mill. I absolutely loved this book – it kept me awake for a couple of nights, just wanting to keep on reading – and I’ve written a full review of it here.5+ starsGeorge Orwell//Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell. The story of a group of farm animals that overthrow their human masters and decide to run the farm themselves. As with 1984, which I read last year, I had mixed feelings over this novel. On the one hand, it is very interesting, and provides an excellent commentary on socialism and corruption; but on the other had, hardly any of the characters are developed in such a way as to encourage any kind of emotional attachment to the author – in fact, many of the prominent characters in the book are utterly unlikeable (the only notable exception is Boxer). That said, I enjoyed Animal Farm more than I did 19843 stars

20488847Master of the Mill by Cate Toward. A re-imagining of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South, where Margaret’s mother passed away before the family moved to Milton. I thought that it had an interesting (and for the most part, quite well-executed) premise, but unfortunately none of the characters really rang true, and I was particularly frustrated by the characterisation of Mr. Lennox, who I feel was unjustly portrayed as the book’s villain, when (even though he was my least favourite character) his only real crime in North & South was loving a girl who did not love him back.2 starsTrudy Brasure//In ConsequenceIn Consequence by Trudy Brasure. Another retelling of North & South, this time speculating on how the story might have progressed had it been Thornton who was injured during the riot, rather than Margaret. I found this one much more realistic than Master of the Mill, and also more in keeping with the characters as they were portrayed in the original novel. It was also very nice to see how Margaret and Thornton might interact in a happy relationship, since in North & South we only got a glimpse towards the very end. The story did seem to be mostly fluff, however, and while that made me smile a lot, at times it became a little too cheesy…3 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 1Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (& illustrated by Fiona Staples). A sci-fi adventure following a married couple who belong to warring species, and are being hunted across the galaxy (and maybe beyond?) for their crime of loving one another. The story is narrated by their infant daughter (or rather by her older self), which gives an interesting perspective. But overall (though this is obviously just the beginning of the story), the characters are awesome, the story is fast-paced and exciting, and the art is gorgeous. I’m definitely excited to read more. 😀5 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 2Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan. The second volume, which is also amazing. I’m a little worried about how quickly I’m getting through this series, since I know there’ll be a long wait before volume 5 is released… Also, I am becoming unexpectedly fond of both Prince Robot IV and The Will, despite the fact that they’re both hunting Alana and Marko.5 starsTrudy Brasure//A Heart for MiltonA Heart for Milton by Trudy Brasure. This is not a retelling, but a sequel to North & South (which I am still obsessed with), and has much the same tone as Brasure’s other book, In Consequence. I think that perhaps I would’ve liked this better if I’d read it before I read In Consequence, because, to be honest, the story felt incredibly samey. I actually ended up liking this a little less (though there’s not much in it, really), partly because of that similarity, but mostly because there was no real conflict in the story, to break up the fluff… :/ 2 starsChrissie Elmore//Unmapped CountryUnmapped Country by Chrissie Elmore. Probably the last fan-written North & South book I’ll be reading for a while, since I’m starting to feel ready to move on… This one is an almost-sequel, set after the events of North & South, but dismissing Gaskell’s ending to the book, where Margaret and Mr. Thornton finally resolve their differences. I found it a bit of a struggle to get through at first, since much of the story seemed to be focused on new characters, when all I really wanted to read about was Margaret and Thornton, but once I got into it, I found it very enjoyable. Of all the North & South spin-off works I’ve read, this is probably the closest to Gaskell’s novel in tone and content – my only real problem with it was that (much like North & South itself) we saw very little of Margaret and Thornton as a couple, having moved on from all the misunderstandings of the original book, which kind of defeats the purpose of looking for a continuation in the first place…4 starsBenjamin Alire Sáenz//Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. An introspective novel about two very different boys who form an unexpected friendship. I’d been meaning to pick this up for a while, but it seems that the last little push I needed was the Little Book Club – this was the January & February pick for the LGBTQ+ theme – and I am so glad that I have finally read it, because it was amazing! I loved Ari, and I loved Dante, and their parents were really fantastic (which is incredibly rare in YA fiction). I would definitely recommend this book to basically anyone. 😀4 stars

6250211Fire by Kristin Cashore. This is the second book in the Graceling Realm trilogy, and is my first re-read of the year! The story is set in what appears to be some kind of pocket-universe that can be accessed through a series of tunnels within the Graceling universe, so it’s only really peripherally connected to the other two books in the series, but it’s probably my favourite of the three. It follows a girl named Fire, who is a “human monster”, a creature that looks (and for the most part, acts) like a human, but is incredibly beautiful, with unnaturally brightly coloured hair and the power to sense and control people’s minds. Fire is a very passive heroine (though she’s definitely not a weak lead), which I appreciate, so instead of charging off into important battles, much of the book is spent exploring the Dells, and dealing with her emotional issues. Major themes in this book are guilt, love (romantic and platonic), forgiveness, and so on, and the whole series would definitely be a great read for any fantasy lover.5 stars

Philip Pullman//Once Upon a Time in the NorthOnce Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman. A prequel-of-sorts to the His Dark Materials trilogy, detailing the first meeting of two of my favourite characters from the series: Lee Scoresby the aeronaut and Iorek Byrnison the armoured bear. It’s a short story, but very enjoyable, and it was a lot of fun to read about these characters again, and to be back in the His Dark Materials universe, which I seem to have missed more than I’d realised.4 starsDavid Almond//The True Tale of the Monster Billy DeanThe True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond. The story of a young boy who was raised in a locked room and not let out until he was a teenager, at which point he was perceived as some kind of saint because of his naïvety… It’s an odd story, and there are a lot of religious themes, which is unusual in YA literature. I found myself enjoying it quite a bit once I got into it, but it was very difficult to get into, mostly because it’s written phonetically. The almost post-apocalyptic setting was interesting, as were most of the characters, and the whole book had quite a creepy vibe to it.3 starsJudd Winick//Batwing vol. 2Batwing Vol. 2: In the Shadow of the Ancients by Judd Winick. Rather more episodic than I remember the first volume being, which I thought was not entirely to the book’s benefit. That said, I enjoyed the end of the Massacre storyline, the Night of the Owls and Zero Month tie-in issues were both good, and Dustin Nguyen and Marcus To’s artwork was striking (though not quite so striking as Ben Oliver’s in Volume 1).3 starsFabian Nicieza//Batwing vol. 3Batwing Vol. 3: Enemy of the State by Fabian Nicieza & Judd Winick. Batwing investigates a cult led by a brainwasher called Father Lost, then faces a billionaire industrialist who’s been bribing the police. Again, not quite so good as Volume 1, but a definite improvement on Volume 2. I enjoyed the backstory between David and Rachel, and the building tensions within the police department in the second story arc were interesting, too. With Batwing, at least, I think I tend to prefer the comics where there’s not too much involvement with of the rest of the DC Universe, so this book was right up my alley. 🙂4 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 3Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan. And the third volume, which was also awesome! So far I’m definitely impressed by how Vaughan has managed to show the sympathetic sides of all the characters in the story, even the ones who are technically the series’ villains… Also in this volume: Marko’s beard, which was kind of hilarious. 🙂5 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Pride of BaghdadPride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan. A standalone graphic novel about a pride of lions that escaped from Baghdad Zoo during a bomb raid. I don’t have all that many coherent thoughts about the story – it was so good that it seems to have short-circuited my brain – but all the characters were well rounded without seeming too human, and the story was incredibly moving. Niko Henrichon’s art was beautiful, as well.5 starsNatasha Allegri//Adventure Time with Fionna & CakeAdventure Time with Fionna & Cake by Natasha Allegri. Fionna and Cake save the Fire Prince from the Ice Queen! I haven’t actually seen much of the Adventure Time cartoon,  but I’m a huge fan of the Fionna & Cake episodes, so I thought I might enjoy this – and I did! The story is both fun and oddly touching in places, and the artwork is very cute. There are three short stories in the back, too (by Noelle Stevenson, Kate Leth and Lucy Knisley), which were all very funny.5 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 4Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan. The adventure continues! Now featuring Hazel as a toddler, and marital trouble for Marko and Alana (amongst other things). Alana’s new job is kind of hilarious, and I have high hopes for Marko and Prince Robot IV’s team-up. The only real flaw of this volume is that I’ve now finished it, and it’ll be another year or so before I can get my hands on volume 5… 😥5 starsMarkus Sedgwick//Dark Satanic MillsDark Satanic Mills by Marcus Sedgwick. A dystopian comic inspired by William Blake’s poem Jerusalem, set in a future where a fanatical religious cult called the True Church is on the verge of taking control of England after manufacturing a “miracle” in order to convert huge numbers of people. The book had an interesting premise, as a religious-dystopian, but in execution I thought it was too simplistic. I wasn’t a huge fan of the artwork, either, though I think it might’ve been improved if it had been done in colour.2 stars