June Wrap-Up

I wasn’t particularly on top of my blogging game in June, but I did manage to read a few good books – three novels, one comic, and one essay – as well as tick off one more of my reading goals for the year (the one for reading books that people have given me)! 😁 Here’s what I read:

Bellamy & the Brute by Alicia Michaels. A retelling of Beauty & the Beast set in modern-day Georgia, and starring a teenage girl called Bellamy, who gets a summer job as a babysitter for the wealthy Baldwin family, and ends up getting involved with their eldest son Tate, who hasn’t been seen in public since being struck by a mysterious disfiguring illness… Conceptually, this was a really interesting book; it’s unlike any other Beauty & the Beast retelling I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a few of them), and the way that Michaels played around with the source material made for a really fresh, exciting story. It’s also very well written, and I liked the characters a lot (though – as many others have also mentioned – Bellamy did at times seem a little too perfect), as well as the way that Bellamy and Tate’s relationship progressed as the story went on. However, this story had two separate aspects to it (the love story, and the murder mystery), and the way that Michaels tried to tie them together just didn’t really work… the further I got into the story, the more contrived it felt… but it was still a really enjoyable book.Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. The tale of a girl called Karou who lives two lives; the first as a talented – though somewhat eccentric – art student in Prague; the second as an assistant to the chimera Brimstone, who trades wishes for teeth. I’d heard amazing things about this book, and I’m pleased to say that it absolutely lived up to my expectations! The characters were all wonderful, the writing beautiful, and the story fascinating… The romance does come across as a bit instalove-y, but Taylor managed to make it fit in with the story really well, and I’m super-interested in seeing where it goes in the next two books (which I will hopefully get to soon! 😆).Bee & Puppycat, Volume 1 by Natasha Allegri & Garrett Jackson. A really cute comic book spin-off of the Cartoon Hangover web-series of the same name, which follows a girl called Bee, who meets a strange cat-like creature and then becomes a trans-dimensional temp worker. I picked this up without knowing anything about the cartoon beforehand – which may have been a mistake – but still ended up enjoying the book more than not. I wrote a more complete review a couple of weeks ago, which you can find here if you so desire, but in short: Pretty and whimsical, but more style than substance (especially in the second half)…

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A 2012 TEDx Talk of the same name, now adapted into essay form – on feminism, and why it is important not just for women, but for everyone. This short book had a message that I really approved of, delivered in a very powerful, striking manner. It’s also very readable, despite being non-fiction (a genre I often find I have to slog through), and is littered with anecdotes from Adichie’s life that illustrate her views and helped to shape them. A must-read for anyone who’s at all interested in feminism, or in any form of movement towards equal rights.

Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma. A drama/mystery novel about a teenage diver who undergoes a horrible ordeal, and begins to fall apart as he tries to deal with the aftermath all by himself. Enjoyable isn’t really the right word to use to describe this book, but I did find it very interesting, and I felt that it did a good job of tackling a really difficult topic… This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for the month, so I’ve written a more detailed review of it already, which you can find here.

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T5W: Books I wanted to start yesterday!

So, there are a couple of different ways I could’ve interpreted this topic, and I’m not entirely sure which was the intended one, but I’ve decided to think of it as books that I’m so ridiculously excited about that I wish I was already reading them. I’ve also decided not to include books that haven’t been released yet, since otherwise it would basically just be a list of new releases I’m anticipating (there are a lot)…

Alexandra Bracken//The Darkest Minds5) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

I’ve been wanting to read this for the longest time, but unfortunately it’s been a little difficult to get hold of. 😦 Apparently it’s a dystopian road-trip novel, featuring teenagers with super-powers, which sounds like a lot of fun. 🙂

Morgan Rhodes//Falling Kingdoms4) Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

I’ve heard this book described as the Game of Thrones of YA literature, which is probably overdoing it somewhat… but I do really like Game of Thrones, and I’ve heard lots of really positive things about Falling Kingdoms. Plus, I can’t seem to get enough of the fantasy genre lately (you’ll start to notice a trend very shortly 😛 ).

Laini Taylor//Daughter of Smoke & Bone3) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Demons. Hidden worlds. Forbidden love (I think?). What’s not to be excited about? This whole series has been sitting on my shelves for a while, waiting for the opportune moment to be read, but I keep having to put it off, because I have so many other books to read! :/

Robin Hobb//Assassin's Apprentice2) Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

This is the book that I’m most likely to read in the near future, as the whole Farseer trilogy was available recently as a Kindle Daily Deal, so I snapped them up. I don’t really know what the trilogy’s about (other than assassins, obviously 😉 ), but Robin Hobb is one of the greats of modern high fantasy, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Erika Johansen//The Queen of the Tearling1) The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I was kind of on the edge over whether or not I wanted to read this book, until recently. I’ve heard really amazing reviews, and apparently it’s also been optioned for a film starring Emma Watson, which is very exciting! Realistically speaking, I don’t know when I’ll get round to reading it (maybe when it’s out in paperback?), but I hope it’ll be soon.

[The thing that I usually forget to say…: Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainy, and if you’re interested in finding out more, you should check out the Goodreads group.]

T5W: Series I want to start this year

I made a promise to myself this year, that I wouldn’t start too many new series, but would instead try to focus on finishing some of the ones I’ve already started. That said, there are a few exceptions, mostly because there are several series that I’ve already bought but haven’t got round to starting yet. So here are the series that I’m most looking forward to starting this year:

Elizabeth Wein//Code Name Verity5) The Code Name Verity duology by Elizabeth Wein

I bought the first book in this series a few months ago, & have been wanting to start on it ever since. Alas, there are a lot of books that I want to read, so it got sidelined for a while, but I hope to get to it soon. It’s a World War II-era novel about a British spy who crash-lands in Nazi-occupied France, and to be honest I’d rather not know too much more about it before I start reading. The second book in the series, Rose Under Fire, is, I believe, a companion novel rather than an outright sequel.

Catherynne M. Valente//The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making4) The Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente

Another series that I started purchasing recently, even though I don’t know too much about it. It’s a children’s fantasy series, and I believe that it was initially just a fictional series in another of Catherynne M. Valente’s novels. I’m mainly excited for this one because Valente’s writing is so beautiful (I read Deathless early last year and was blown away).

Sarah J. Maas//Throne of Glass3) The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Fantasy world! Assassins! What more is there to say? I’ve not had the greatest luck with YA fantasy (for the most part I prefer adult or children’s fantasy), but I’ve heard really amazing things about this series, and Sarah J. Maas has a lot of really die-hard fans. I do like assassin stories, too, so there’s a good chance I’ll like this.

Laini Taylor//Daughter of Smoke & Bone2) The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

An urban fantasy series about demons, which is set in Prague! Once again, I don’t know all that much about the plot, but I’ve heard really, really wonderful things about the writing, and (best of all), it apparently has a completely satisfying conclusion! (Which seems to be rare these days.)

Rick Riordan//The Sword of Summer1) The Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan

The only new release on my list! This series is, as far as I know, another spin-off of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which is one of my all-time favourites. My hope is that Magnus Chase (presumably the main character) is in some way related to Annabeth Chase (Percy’s best friend and girlfriend in the original series), and therefore Percy will be showing up at some point. But even if there’s no Percy in this series, I’m excited for more of Rick Riordan’s writing, and for his take on Norse mythology, which I’ve always loved.

(Potentially interesting fact: Almost-but-not-quite making it onto this list was the Kane Chronicles, also by Rick Riordan, which I still haven’t read yet. But the potential for more Percy in the Magnus Chase series made this one slightly more exciting.) The first book in the series is The Sword of Summer, and will be released in October.

November & December Haul

Nov.-Dec. Haul 2014I didn’t really think it was worth posting a haul in November, since I ended up buying a grand total of one book, but hopefully this will make up for it… I went a little crazy spending my Christmas money, and (including that book I bought in November) I have twenty books to tell you about today. 😀 From top to bottom:

1) Studio Ghibli Layout Designs by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. A beautiful book of (mainly) artwork from various Studio Ghibli films. This was a Christmas gift from my lovely friend Chloë, when I went to visit her in Hong Kong. 🙂

2) Books I Have Read & Books I Want to Read by the British Library. This was the only thing that I actually requested this Christmas, and it found its way (to my delight) into my stocking on Christmas morning. It’s a journal-style book for keeping track of all the books I’ve read, as well as book clubs, literary events, and there’s even a little address book at the back for all my favourite bookshops and websites!

3) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. This is the book I mentioned that I bought in November. I came across it while I was Christmas shopping, and couldn’t resist buying it (I’m weak-willed, I know) – partly because I’d heard so many good things about it, but mainly because it’s signed! It’s a World War II-era novel set in France, I believe, but I don’t know too much else about it.

4) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. A contemporary summer romance novel, though I’ve heard that it’s pretty sad. I decided to pick this one up after reading Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, since I liked that one so much.

5) White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick. This is the first of the books I bought on my Christmas-money-shopping-spree, and I don’t really know what it’s about (this is going to become a theme in this haul), but it’s by Marcus Sedgwick, so I’m sure it’s very good (even though I still haven’t read any of his books…).

6) The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. Again, I don’t know much about this book, but I read We Were Liars, by the same author, earlier this year and loved it, so I have high hopes for this one, too.

7) The Executioner’s Daughter & River Daughter by Jane Hardstaff. The first two books in a series (or perhaps just a duology) about a girl who’s locked up in the Tower of London. These two were complete impulse buys, & I mainly picked them up because River Daughter (the second book) was in the buy-one-get-one-half-price deal, along with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I’ve been craving historical fiction lately, though, so hopefully I’ll read these sometime soon.

8) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente. I’ve heard so many amazing things about this series, & I’ve been wanting to pick them up for ages! Once again, I don’t really know what it’s about, but Catherynne M. Valente’s writing is like some kind of word-magic, so I have high expectations~ 😀

9) Trouble by Non Pratt. This one’s about a teen pregnancy, and sounds pretty interesting.

10) Mãn by Kim Thúy. This was a gift from my aunt & uncle, & I really have no clue what it’s about, except that it is very short (less than 150 pages) and the author apparently won several awards for her previous book. I’ve flipped through the first few pages, and the writing style seems really beautiful, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading more.

11) The Boy that Never Was by Karen Perry. A mystery novel about the parents of a small boy who disappears. My Dad picked this one out for me, as he apparently read a review that claimed it would be perfect for fans of Gone Girl (by Gillian Flynn). It looks interesting, though I’m not sure when I’ll get round to reading it…

12) Shatter MeUnravel MeUnite Me & Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi. This is a YA dystopian trilogy (Unite Me is a novella bind-up) about a girl who has a lethal touch. I’ve actually read the first book already, so you’ll be seeing that in my December wrap up post, & I’m currently reading (& enjoying) Unravel Me.

13) Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley. A graphic novel about a young chef who finds a way to erase her past mistakes and ends up screwing with the fabric of the universe (more or less), to disastrous effect. It’s a lot of fun, & I actually read it almost as soon as it arrived in the post, so I’ll talk more about it in my wrap up.

14) Onwards Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki. A short manga set during World War II, from the perspective of a Japanese soldier (I think). I’m definitely excited about this, since most WWII literature that I’ve come across is told from the Allies’ side, or else from the side of German Anti-Nazi sympathisers… I believe that it’s also partially autobiographical.

15) Rage of Poseidon by Anders Nilsen. Another book that I read as soon as I got it, so you’ll be hearing more about it soon. It’s a collection of graphic short stories mainly about the Greek gods in the modern world. Very well-done (and, to my surprise, published as a fold-out, concertina-style book, though only one side of the concertina has been printed on…).

16) Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. The third and final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, which I have not yet started, but am really looking forward to reading. I was actually planning on waiting until it came out in paperback to buy it, in order to save space on my shelves, but I recently obtained a new bookcase, and so I decided to throw caution to the wind! And it is a very beautiful book, so I regret nothing. 😉

September Book Haul

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I hadn’t actually realised just how many books I’d bought this month until I piled them all up for this photo… Oops. 😦

And there are even more books that I really, really want coming out in October! But after that, I think I should put myself on a book-buying ban. I’m running out of space on my shelves, anyway… 😦

1) This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. I’ve already read this one, and the only reason I hadn’t bought it already is that I wanted to be sure to get this edition (by Hodder). I ended up buying it second-hand on Amazon, so it’s a little battered, but I find myself not minding overmuch.

2) Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. I still haven’t read that other Markus Sedgwick book that I bought last month! But I spotted this by chance in Waterstones & couldn’t resist the beautiful cover (this haul contains quite a lot of books that I mainly bought for the covers…). This is also the book of his which I’ve heard the most about – it seems to be a reincarnation story, and the description reminded me a little of Cloud Atlas (by David Mitchell), which I haven’t finished reading, but am really enjoying so far.

3) The Jewel by Amy Ewing. I actually don’t know very much about this book, & I only really bought it because I kept seeing it all over the place. From the blurb, it seems like it’s a dystopian, along the lines of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

4) Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor. I bought these two mainly because I thought my urban fantasy collection needed some fleshing out, and I’ve heard really great things about this trilogy – though, I realise now, I don’t really know what it’s about… I believe it has something to do with demons, though, and I really love the UK covers. I was planning on buying the third book (Dreams of Gods & Monsters) as well, but it doesn’t seem to be out in paperback yet.

5) Night World Volume 1 by L.J. Smith. Consisting of the first three stories in the Night World universe: Secret VampireDaughters of Darkness and Spellbinder. I found this by chance in the Oxfam bookshop when I was dropping off some of my old books that I didn’t want anymore, & thought I’d get it, since it was super-cheap and I already own the other two bind-ups of the series.

6) Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen. I ordered this after reading Boxers & Saints, because I was really in the mood for contemporary graphic novels (as opposed to the DC stuff that I usually read when I feel like reading comics). I really loved it, & will talk about why in my next post (September wrap-up!).

7) Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks. Another contemporary graphic novel, & they both have the same illustrator! I really love Faith Erin Hicks’ art style, which is why I picked these two over all the other books of this genre that’re out there…

8) Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. A Beauty & the Beast retelling! I’ve been on a massive fairytale kick recently, so I ordered this a few days ago, & it arrived amazingly quickly. Apparently in this one, the Beauty-character has been training all her life to kill the Beast, though, so I’m interested to see how it’ll turn out.

9) Jane Austen, Game Theorist by Michael Suk-Young. I mainly bought this on a whim, since I thought the title sounded cool. It’s non-fiction, so I don’t know how long it’ll take me to get around to reading it, but it promises to be interesting! 🙂

David Mitchell//The Bone Clocks10) The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Who wrote Cloud Atlas, which I mentioned earlier. This one looks to be another multiple-storylines-weaving-together-type book, which I love, but to be honest, I mainly bought it for the cover. The US cover looks cool as well, but this one is a thing of beauty… ➟

11) Chineasy by Shaolan. I’ve had my eye on this since the kickstarter campaign, & I finally decided to order it around the end of last month. It’s not exactly the kind of book that you can read the whole way though (since it’s basically a text book), but it has some lovely illustrations, and even the Chinese version of Peter & the Wolf at the end!

And finally, 12) Batgirl/Robin: Year One! I almost bought Robin: Year One on its own a couple of years ago, but decided to wait when I found out that this was going to be released. The Batgirl: Year One story is the most exciting thing about this bind-up, since it’s been out of print for years, and before this book, it was selling second-hand for ridiculous amounts (even the individual issues in the series were expensive!). I’m so excited to finally have them both! 😀