January & February Wrap-Up

My reading year didn’t exactly get off to a great start (at least in terms of quantity); I only managed to finish two books in January, both of which I wrote full reviews for, which is why I decided to hold off for another month on posting this wrap-up. February was a lot more promising. 😊 In total, over the last two months, I got through four excellent novels, two graphic novels, and an audiobook! (I re-started my Audible subscription, and it’s amazing! 💕 Though I’m finding it very difficult to be patient while I wait for my next credit…)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. A novel about a young woman called Rosemary, who one day came home after staying with her grandparents to find that her sister Fern was gone. The book deals mainly with how what happened with Fern affected their family over the years… This was such a fascinating story! I really wanted to write a review of it, but wasn’t sure how to go about it without spoiling a plot twist that really makes this book what it is. But even beyond the twist, this is an excellent novel; I really enjoyed Rosemary’s perspective, and her relationships with her parents and siblings, and Fern’s part in the story was heartbreaking in places. 😥 The non-linear narrative greatly increased the effectiveness of the story as well, and I had a great time trying to puzzle out everything that had happened to Rosemary’s family, while she herself danced around the subject, leaving little breadcrumbs for us to follow.Grayson Volume 1: Agents of Spyral by Tim Seeley & Tom King. The first in a DCU-based comic series, wherein Dick Grayson (a.k.a. Nightwing, a.k.a. the first Robin) is undercover in the mysterious organisation Spyral, and reporting to Batman on their activities. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if I were up-to-date on the Nightwing series (which I believe this is supposed to follow on from), but as it was I found the plotline pretty incoherent, the characters (including Dick) boring, and the artwork not compelling enough to make up for the book’s flaws… I was initially quite excited by the appearance of Helena Bertinelli, but sadly in the New 52, she seems to have traded in her Huntress persona to become the bland Spyral agent known as Matron. 😑 It’s a shame, because my fondness for the Robins (all of them) makes me predisposed to like their solo titles, but doubt I’ll be continuing with this one.Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce. The second book in the Immortals quartet, which is part of Pierce’s Tortall universe – wherein Daine is called upon by her old wolf friends to negotiate with the local humans on their behalf, and discovers a sinister plot against the king and queen while she’s there. The Immortals is a familiar (and beloved) story to me, but this was my first time listening to the audiobook version of it – which was excellent! The voice acting really brought all the characters to life, and although the difference in speed between Pierce’s narration and the rest of the cast’s speech took was a little jarring at first, I got used to it quickly – and (on principle) I do like it when authors narrate their own books… 😊4 stars

BOOKS I ALREADY POSTED REVIEWS FOR:

 
 

[EDIT (31/7/19): Changed rating of Wolf-Speaker from 5 stars to 4, as I am in the process of re-assessing my ratings.]

Library Scavenger Hunt: February

This month’s LSH challenge was to read a book with pictures in it, and since I’ve been craving Batman comics recently, I thought it’d be fun to try out some of the Gotham-based series that I’m not already collecting… There were two series in particular that I considered reading for this challenge, but although I borrowed them both (and I intend to read the second of them very soon, too), the one that I decided to review this month was…

WELCOME TO GOTHAM ACADEMY
Becky Cloonan & Brendan Fletcher
(Illustrated by Karl Kerschl)

Gotham Academy is home to the best and brightest students in Gotham… as well as a whole slew of strange secrets. Olive Silverlock just wants to get on with her life – and hopefully puzzle out what happened over the holidays that’s got her jumping at bat-shaped shadows – but unfortunately the world has other ideas, as she (along with Maps, the new student she’s supposed to be showing around) becomes drawn into investigating a series of school-wide ghost sightings.

This was a really fun read! The plotline (and the little mysteries that it presented) was both interesting and engaging, and surprisingly self-contained; though I am intrigued by the hints at a larger storyline in Gotham Academy, this first volume is quite satisfying to read as a standalone. It’s definitely lighter in tone than many of the other Gotham-based comics that I’ve read, but I found that that made for a really lovely change of pace…

The two main characters, Olive and Maps, played off one another wonderfully, with Maps’ innocent exuberance proving a nice counterpoint to Olive’s more serious character. (Maps was probably my favourite thing about this book, though – she’s just so cute! 😆) The cast of secondary characters wasn’t large, but those that we were introduced to seemed interesting, too, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them all better. And the tease at the very end of the book that Damian Wayne may be joining the Academy is another reason that I’m very likely to continue reading this series.

I also really enjoyed Kerschl’s artwork, which was incredibly expressive, super-cute, as well as consistently high-quality throughout the book.

[Find out more about the Library Scavenger Hunt by following this link!]

Thematic Recs: The Batman Family

(One day, I will probably do a Thematic Recs post for superhero comics in general. This is not that day.) I love the Bat-family. My love for it knows (almost) no bounds, and this list compiles some of my favourite titles so far – though I’ve probably missed some great ones, as I certainly haven’t read the whole lot!

And for the record, I consider basically all the Gotham-centric heroes to be part of the Bat-family in some small way, so long as they are – or have at some point been – acknowledged by Bruce Wayne, the original Batman.

Scott Beatty & Chuck Dixon//Batgirl: Year One1) Batgirl: Year One by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon. A mini-series chronicling the beginnings of the first Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. I only read this on a whim, but I ended up really loving it, much to my surprise – I’ve never been a huge Barbara Gordon fan.

Peter J. Tomasi//Batman & Robin vol. 12) Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi. The only series on my list since the New 52 rebooted the DC universe (though I do still like some of the other New 52 titles…). This series shows Bruce Wayne teaming up with his son Damian (the fifth Robin), and having to find a balance between fatherhood and crime-fighting.

[This series is collected in seven volumes: Born to KillPearlDeath of the FamilyRequiem for DamianThe Big BurnThe Hunt for Robin and Robin Rises.]

Bryan Q. Miller//Batgirl vol. 13) Batgirl by Bryan Q. Miller. Probably my favourite comic series, this run of Batgirl follows Stephanie Brown, the third Batgirl, as she teams up with Barbara Gordon (now in the role of Oracle) in order to fight crime, and hopefully get some recognition from the Bat-family’s main players.

[This series is collected in three volumes: Batgirl RisingThe Flood and The Lesson.]

Paul Dini//Streets of Gotham vol. 14) Batman: Streets of Gotham by Paul Dini. A sadly short-lived series featuring Dick Grayson (the original Robin, now the new Batman) and Damian Wayne trying to deal with a Bruce Wayne-imposter in Bruce’s absence. The series ended up being cut short, but the storyline was wrapped up in the Batman Incorporated series.

[This series is collected in three volumes: Hush MoneyLeviathan and The House of Hush.]

Judd Winick//Under the Red Hood5) Batman: Under the Hood by Judd Winick. Bruce Wayne deals with a new, incredibly violent, vigilante in Gotham, who calls himself the Red Hood. This is one of my all-time favourite Batman storylines – the big mystery he has to figure out is the identity of the Red Hood (my favourite character in the DC universe, and an important figure from Bruce Wayne’s past). The animated film was also incredible (which was called Under the Red Hood, like the bind-up of the comics), though it presented a rather different backstory from the original comics.

Judd Winick//Red Hood: The Lost Days

+1) Red Hood: The Lost Days by Judd Winick. Just a little bonus recommendation, since this is a spin-off of the Under the Hood storyline, and serves as a prequel to it. It tells the story of the Red Hood’s time training, and his return to Gotham, and gives an interesting new perspective on the events in Under the Hood.

The Reader Confession Tag

For once, I seem to be doing a tag that I was actually tagged for; remarkable, isn’t it? 😉 The tagger in question was Ariana from The Quirky Book Nerd – you should go ahead and read her great post, too!

1) Have you ever damaged a book?

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman//Good OmensNaturally, I do my best to keep my books in good condition, but accidents are bound to happen once in a while. My first copy of Good Omens got half drowned when I discovered that my backpack wasn’t anywhere near as waterproof as I’d previously thought it to be. And I don’t like to think about the time I had a mishap while bleeding my radiator, and drenched a whole shelf. 😥 (Don’t worry, I was able to salvage them!)

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Goblet of FireIn less watery news, my original copy of Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire ended up completely falling to pieces, as well, though that was mostly from over-reading (and because it was the first massive hardback that I’d ever owned, and I had no idea that they fell apart if you didn’t take care of them. ^^’ ).

2) Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

I’m always super-careful with any books that people lend me – more careful than I am with my own books, even – but I will admit to occasionally (very occasionally) having dog-eared a library book or two… 😳 This is supposed to be a confession tag, after all!

3) How long does it take you to read a book?

I can usually finish an average-length book (about 300 pages) in two or three days, but it often depends on my mood, and how busy I am outside of my reading schedule…

4) Books that you haven’t finished?

Even when I’m really not enjoying a book, I prefer to finish it, in hopes of finding some redeeming factor, so there aren’t many books that I’ve DNF’d. Most of these I did actually like, but I just wasn’t in the right mood for them at the time – hopefully I’ll get round to finishing them reasonably soon, though! In order of priority, they are:

5) Hyped/Popular books you didn’t like?

Tahereh Mafi//Shatter MeThere have been a few that disappointed me a bit, but the only one I can think of that I actively disliked was the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi, and even then I didn’t dislike everything about it. Just, you know, the abysmal plotline, and non-existent world-building. I wrote a series review for it a while ago, which you should definitely check out!

6) Is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?

I sometimes like to read trashy romances, and I’m always a little embarrassed afterwards to discuss them in my wrap-ups, but I don’t think I’d ever actively hide the fact that I was reading one… (Except from the kids I babysit. I will definitely be taking Something Else to read at theirs. ^^’ )

7) How many books do you own?

I have no idea, but between my physical books and my kindle books, probably somewhere between 300 and 500…

8) Are you a fast reader or a slow reader?

Pretty fast, I think, though nowhere near speed-reading standards. I usually get through two or three books in a week (depending on my mood, and the length of the book), but there’ve been times when I’ve finished a new book almost every day. (When I was in China, I read like a woman possessed. 😳 )

9) Do you like to buddy read?

Now and then. I’ve done a few readalongs with my friend Chloë (a.k.a. SSJTimeLord), and it’s fun to talk about the books as we’re going along, but unfortunately we don’t always have the time… :/

10) Do you read better in your head or out loud?

In my head, definitely. I can even do character voices! (But just in my imagination.)

11) If you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?

Tamora Pierce//Street Magic

Frances Hodgson Burnett//The Secret GardenWhy do you torment me with such questions, Tag?!?! 😦 Probably my battered old copy of Street Magic by Tamora Pierce, because it’s my favourite book. Or else one of the Folio Society editions that my dad’s given me over the years (The Secret Garden has an inscription in it that I’m rather fond of)…

T5W: Books I haven’t finished (yet)

Apparently I haven’t done a Top 5 Wednesday post since May – shocking, I know. 😮 But I really enjoy this meme, so I’m glad to be back! Today’s theme is books you didn’t finish, but since I really, really dislike giving up on books entirely, I’ve tweaked it slightly… so these are my top 5 books that I will (hopefully) finish one day. Who knows, maybe writing this will inspire me to pick them up again! (Spoiler: It probably won’t. 😉 )

Winston Graham//Demelza5) Demelza by Winston Graham

The most recent addition to my on-hold list is Demelza, the second book in the Poldark series, which I started reading just after Booktubeathon this year, when I was super-into the TV series and wanted to read its source material. I made it about a quarter of the way through before being distracted by other books, but I expect that I’ll be picking it up again when the next series starts airing. 😀

David Mitchell//Cloud Atlas4) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I started this one a few years back, before the film was released – it first came to my attention in the form of the movie trailer, which I thought looked really interesting. And I have really enjoyed what I’ve read so far of it, but I just had to put it down for a while, because one of the main characters’ blatant thievery was making me super-uncomfortable… 😳

Sarah Grand//The Heavenly Twins3) The Heavenly Twins by Sarah Grand

I initially picked this up in my masters year at university, after coming across a quote from it that I really loved in one of the texts I was using for my dissertation. Unfortunately, I decided to read it on Google Books, and ended up completely losing my place because my computer crashed, or some such thing. :/ Still, I have an ebook copy of this now, so hopefully I’ll find the time/motivation to start it again in the not-too-distant future… And, for those who are interested, the quote in question was:

“I found a big groove ready waiting for me when I grew up, and in that I was expected to live whether it suited me or not. It did not suit me. It was deep and narrow, and gave me no room to move.”

Bob Haney//Showcase Presents Teen Titans vol. 2

2) Showcase Presents: Teen Titans Volume 2 by Bob Haney, Mike Friedrich, Neal Adams, Robert Kanigher & Steve Skeates

A massive bind-up of some of the earliest Teen Titans comics, which I started reading years ago simply because I love the Teen Titans in all their incarnations… or so I thought. Of all the books on this list, this is the one that I’m most likely to drop entirely, as what I can remember of this comic was much too cheesy for my tastes… :/

Ursula Le Guin//A Wizard of Earthsea1) A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

This one – the first book in the Earthsea Cycle – I started reading maybe 10 years ago, and stalled about halfway through. I am quite likely to pick this book back up again soon, since I’ve really been in a fantasy mood lately, though I anticipate having to re-start it entirely… The only thing I remember about it is the main character’s name… ^^’

[Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey, and to find out more or join in, please check out the Goodreads group.]

May Wrap Up

For me, May was a really great reading month, especially for graphic novels, and for library books (most of which I’ve had checked out for way too long without picking them up… 😳 ). I’m going to Iceland near the beginning of June, and I don’t know how much I’ll be able to read while I’m away, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep this momentum going! Overall (including the #CRUSHYOURTBR readathon), I read 11 novels, 7 comics/graphic novels, and 10 short stories, and I also listened to 1 audiobook. 😀

Melissa Grey//The Girl at MidnightThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey. The first book in a new series, which follows a human pickpocket called Echo who’s been raised as part of a hidden world, where there’s an ancient war going on between two species: The bird-like Avicen, and the dragon-like Drakharin. The story’s plot centres around something called the firebird – which has been prophesised to be able to end the war – and Echo’s search for it, with a rather motley crew along for the ride. I really enjoyed this book: The story was really solid, and the characters were amazing (my favourites were Dorian and Caius). 😀 It was fast-paced enough to keep me gripped, but slow enough to allow for proper character development. My only real problem with it was the portrayal of Rowan – he never really felt like a viable love interest for Echo, since he only appeared in three or four scenes… But then again, that was probably for the best, since the book teetered on the edge of being over-crowded…4 stars

Jay Asher//13 Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. A story about the suicide of a girl called Hannah, told through the cassette tapes that she left behind, sent out to the people she holds responsible for the events leading up to her death. We hear the tapes alongside Clay, one of the people on her list. I’d been on the edge about whether or not to read this for a while, but I decided to pick it up as an audiobook after reading wander-ful worlds’ review, and I’m really glad I did – both the narrators (who played Clay and Hannah) were excellent, and it seemed really fitting to be listening to the story, since so much of it was about listening. However, a lot of the time while I was listening to it, I felt that it was really written more to make a point than to tell a story, and consequently the story itself wasn’t that brilliant. That said, it did make its point really well, and it was very thought-provoking, particularly on the topic of gossip, and how actions that you think are insignificant can actually have a powerful effect on other people’s lives.3 starsBill Willingham//Fables vol. 2Fables Volume 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham. This volume followed Snow White and Rose Red on a visit to the Fabletown Farm (which is home to the Fable who can’t blend in with human society), where a revolution is brewing. It was a great introduction to some of the non-human Fables, like the Three Little Pigs and Reynard the Fox, and the obvious allusions to George Orwell’s Animal Farm were fun. There’s quite a few character deaths in this one, though, so it’s probably not one for the squeamish. 😛4 starsJulie Kagawa//RogueRogue by Julie Kagawa. The sequel to Talon, featuring Ember now on the run from both Talon and the Order of St. George! The story was really action-packed, and the character development was great as well – I particularly liked how Ember seemed to grow up a lot towards the end of the book, and I enjoyed getting to know Riley a lot better. Dante’s character is still a little difficult to pin down, but I remain hopeful, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book! 😀4 stars

Tamora Pierce//The Will of the EmpressThe Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce. The first of the Circle Reforged companion books (though chronologically it takes place after Battle Magic), which is part of the Emelan universe and follows on from the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series. These books follow a group of young mages – Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar – as they grow up and face the various different challenges that life has to offer. I first read this book several years ago, but I’d been meaning to re-read it for the longest time, so I finally decided to pick it up~ 😛 And I’m really glad I did! It’s my second favourite of all Tamora Pierce’s books, after Street Magic (which says quite a bit, since that’s probably my favourite book of all time, and Tamora Pierce is my favourite author), and it was just as amazing as I remember it being!5+ stars

Terry Pratchett//MortChuck Dixon & Scott Beatty//Batgirl/Robin: Year OneTamora Pierce//Tortall & Other LandsLaurell K. Hamilton//The HarlequinThese are all the books that I managed to finish for #CRUSHYOURTBR, but I’ve already talked in detail about them in my wrap-up for that readathon, so you should check that out if you’re interested. In order, my overall ratings for each book were:

4 stars  5 stars  3 stars  4 stars

Malorie Blackman//CallumCallum by Malorie Blackman. A brief novella that presents an alternative version of one of the events in Noughts and Crosses: What if Callum and Sephy ran away together when she was captured by the Liberation Militia? It’s been way too long since I read the main books in this series, as I had trouble remembering everything that led up to the beginning of this story… But I still liked it, and I’d definitely recommend it for fans of the Noughts and Crosses series. 🙂3 starsGeoff Johns//Aquaman vol. 2Aquaman Volume 2: The Others by Geoff Johns. It’s been so long since I read the first volume of this series, that I’d forgotten just how amazing it is! This volume gives us some backstory, as a treasure hunter called Black Manta is hunting down members of Aquaman’s old team in order to steal the royal Atlantean relics that they possess.5 starsGeoff Johns//Aquaman vol. 3Aquaman Volume 3: Throne of Atlantis by Geoff Johns. This volume covered the whole of the Throne of Atlantis crossover with Justice League, where Atlantis attacks the surface world in retaliation against a missile strike that accidentally detonated in the sea. Once again, it had a well thought-out plotline, great characters, and amazing art. This is definitely one of the best titles that’s come out of the DC in recent years.5 starsJonathan Stroud//The Ring of SolomonThe Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. The prequel to the Bartimaeus trilogy, this book follows the djinni Bartimaeus’ adventures in ancient Jerusalem, where he is enslaved to one of King Solomon’s magicians. The second protagonist is a young Sheban guardswoman called Asmira, who has been sent by her queen to Jerusalem in order to assassinate Solomon and steal his ring (a powerful magical object that seems to grant wishes). This book suffered from the lack of Nathaniel (understandably so, since it’s set several thousand years before his birth), but thankfully Asmira grew on me a lot – I certainly liked her a lot better than Kitty! – and the story, while slow to get started, really picked up once Asmira and Bartimaeus crossed paths. My favourite part was, the footnotes in Bartimaeus’ chapters, where his sarcasm really shone through… 😛 I went into this book fully prepared to find it lacklustre, so I was very pleasantly surprised! 😀4 stars

Robin McKinley//BeautyBeauty by Robin McKinley. A pretty straight-up retelling of Beauty & the Beast, but done much better than most of the re-imaginings I’ve come across lately (e.g. Breath of Life and Dragon Rose by Christine Pope, or even Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge…). Beauty (who is actually called Honour 😛 ) was a wonderful character, and I loved the slow, realistic development of her relationship with Beast. Her family were really great, too, and Beast’s invisible servants made me chuckle. My only real complaint is that the ending was rather quick – several big events took place in the space of a few pages, and then the book just ended… 😦4 starsDanica Novgorodoff//The Undertaking of Lily ChenThe Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff. A graphic novel about a tradition from Northern China in which, when an unmarried man dies, the body of a young woman must be found for him, so that a ghost wedding can take place. The main character in this story is a young man called Deshi, who has been tasked to find a corpse bride for his recently-deceased brother… A really intriguing story, with great characters and a haunting storyline. The only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the character design, but even that I got used to eventually. My favourite thing about this comic was probably the watercolour panels, which were incredibly beautiful.4 starsChristi Caldwell//For the Love of the DukeFor Love of the Duke by Christi Caldwell. A Regency-era romance between Jasper – a Duke who shut himself away after the death of his first wife – and Katherine – a young lady trying to escape from an arranged marriage and her controlling mother. For a bodice-ripper, this was remarkably well-written, with characters that I actually really liked and got quite invested in. It also featured one of the most hilarious (intentionally, I think) proposal scenes I’ve ever read. 😛 Obviously, though, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.4 starsChristi Caldwell//In Need of a DukeIn Need of a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The prequel to For Love of the Duke, which follows Katherine’s older sister Aldora, as she tries to secure herself a comfortable marriage with the Marquess of St. James, and ends up falling for his disgraced younger brother Michael instead… Not quite as good as For the Love of the Duke (naturally, since this was so much shorter), but still a lot of fun.3 starsChristi Caldwell//More than a DukeMore than a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The second book in the Heart of a Duke series, which focuses on Katherine’s twin sister Anne, who persuades Harry, the Earl of Stanhope, to teach her how to win the hand of the Duke of Crawford. This book reminded me a lot of North & South, in that actual words (as opposed to constant teasing) would’ve taken care of most of the conflict in the story… That said, I enjoyed it a lot. The dynamic between Anne and Harry was brilliant, and I appreciated getting to know the girls’ mother a bit better – even if that knowledge only led me to think that she’s a bitter, manipulative harpy. 😛3 starsChristi Caldwell//The Love of a RogueThe Love of a Rogue by Christi Caldwell. The third book in the Heart of a Duke series. This one follows Alex, the best friend of Harry from More than a Duke, who is forced by his brother to be a chaperone for his younger sister, and ends up falling for her best friend Imogen. I really liked Alex in the last book, so I was looking forward to reading this one, and I think that Imogen is probably my favourite of the heroines so far. The Love of a Rogue was a lot of fun to read, but I wish it’d been a bit longer, and that more focus had been put on the strained relationship between Imogen and her sister…3 starsChristi Caldwell//Loved by a DukeLoved by a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The fourth (and final?) book in the Heart of a Duke series, following Auric, the Duke of Crawford (who was the other side character that I really liked in More than a Duke), and Daisy, the sister of his childhood friend who passed away. Probably the best thing about this book is that it the romance wasn’t the only point of the plot – it also dealt heavily with grief, as Auric blames himself for the death of Daisy’s brother. The writing was also pretty solid, and the book was a good length… I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as For Love of the Duke, though, objectively speaking, I think it’s probably the best in the series. They’re all rather similar, to be honest…3 starsMike Richardson//47 Ronin47 Ronin by Mike Richardson. A graphic novel of the (true!) Japanese story of 47 samurai who swore to avenge the death of their lord, Asano, when he was unfairly sentenced to commit seppuku (a form of ritual suicide). It’s definitely a good story, but I think it would have come across better if it had been a bit longer. There were just so many characters that it was difficult to distinguish between them, and only Oishi (Lord Asano’s chief retainer) really stood out from the crowd. That said, I really liked the little epilogue-scene at the end, and the art (by Stan Sakai) was interesting, too, though it took a little while to get used to.3 stars

#CRUSHYOURTBR: Info & TBR

The Crush Your TBR readathon will be taking place this weekend, from Friday 15th – Sunday 17th May, and I’m planning on taking part, so I thought I’d let you know about it! 🙂 It’s hosted by padfootandprongs07 and jacquelynreads, and it seems to be a mostly twitter-based readathon (though, since I don’t have a twitter account, I won’t be joining in with that part of it). You can find the announcement/information video here.

Since it’s a pretty low-key event, there aren’t any official challenges (except, obviously, to read lots of books from your TBR), but I thought it would be fun to have a general theme to my TBR this time. So, my own personal rules are these: 1) I can only include books that I own physical copies of, and 2) I should focus on DNF books (books that I put down halfway through reading, for whatever reason – DNF, for those who don’t already know, stands for Did Not Finish).

Last of all, here’s my tentative TBR:

Laurell K. Hamilton//The Harlequin1) The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton. The 15th book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, which I’m just over halfway through. This one I’ve picked up and put down a few times already, but I’m not quite ready to give up on it yet. I’m thinking of dropping this series after The Harlequin, though… it’s just gone on for way too long. :/

Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty//Batgirl/Robin: Year One2) Batgirl / Robin: Year One by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty. I’m only a couple of chapters into this one at the moment, but since it’s a graphic novel, it should be a quick read. 🙂

Jonathan Stroud//The Ring of Solomon3) The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. The prequel to the Bartimaeus trilogy, which I put down because I didn’t feel that it was living up to the original series… I’m a quarter of the way through it at the moment.

David Mitchell//Cloud Atlas4) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I read about 100 pages of this last year (or maybe even earlier), then got distracted by something shinier, but I’m really looking forward to getting back to it.

Tamora Pierce//Tortall & Other Lands5) And lastly, I’m planning on breaking up my reading with some short stories from Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce, which I’m about a quarter of the way through.

Obviously I’m not going to be able to finish all of these in just three days, but I’m hoping that I’ll at least be able to shift a few of them off my excessively large “currently reading” shelf on Goodreads… 😳

March Wrap Up

So it seems I’m still on some kind of graphic novel kick, though I think it’s petering out a little. This month, I read a total of 11 comics, 8 novels, 8 short stories, and I also listened to 1 audiobook – so despite going ridiculously overboard with my book-buying, I can at least comfort myself with the thought that I am still reading more books than I’m buying… That said, here’s what I read in March:

Mag Rosoff//Picture Me GonePicture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. A part-mystery, part-road trip story about a girl who goes to New York with her father, in order to find her father’s missing best friend. There’s a dose of magical realism in the mix, too, as Mila (the main character) has almost supernatural senses, which could (in true Meg Rosoff style) be just as easily interpreted as her simply being incredibly perceptive. I enjoyed the book, and the characters a lot – the mystery elements were perhaps a little predictable, but I felt that the story was really more about Mila’s journey, and how she has to grow in order to find the right answers (and a lot of pondering over whether or not that growth is a good thing). I wouldn’t rank it quite as highly as How I Live Now, but it’s definitely up there, and Mag Rosoff’s writing is as wonderful as ever.4 stars17137639Superboy Vol. 2: Extraction by Scott Lobdell & Tom DeFalco. The Superboy series is fun, but kind of all over the place, and this volume is no exception. It starts off with a couple of issues from The Culling crossover event, which don’t make too much sense on their own, then go on to a couple of brief stories about Superboy (kind of) joining the Teen Titans, and adjusting to life outside N.O.W.H.E.R.E. The Zero issue at the end of the collection was kind of interesting, and I hope that the connection (if there really is one) between Kon and Superboy will be elaborated on eventually…2 starsIsabel Greenberg//The Encyclopedia of Early EarthThe Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. A graphic novel about a storyteller from the Land of Nord, who is travelling the world in search of the missing piece of his soul (and telling a lot of stories on the way). The stories are all incredibly witty, and the art is both cute and distinctive. A fantastic read.5 starsTom DeFalco, Scott Lobdell & Tony Lee//Superboy vol. 3Superboy Vol. 3: Lost by Tom DeFalco, Scott Lobdell & Tony Lee. The beginning was a bit shaky, with more chatter about events from other series, but it picked up a lot during the H’El on Earth tie-in issues (though the end of the storyline was cut off, presumably because it took place in Superman or Justice League, or one of the other series that was part of the H’El on Earth crossover). I enjoyed the dynamic between Superboy and Superman a lot, and the Harvest backstory was interesting, too. I’m looking forward to seeing how the series will move forward from here.3 starsDoogie Horner//100 Ghosts100 Ghosts: A Gallery of Harmless Haunts by Doogie Horner. A cute little book of pictures of ghosts in various different situations. Some of my favourites include the athletic ghost, the ventriloquist, the Fantastic Four, and the mini dachshund. 😀4 starsFanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault//Jane, the Fox & MeJane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault. A short graphic novel about a young girl who’s being bullied at school because of her weight, and how she tries to escape from reality by reading Jane Eyre. The story is very short, but powerfully-written, and it reminded me a lot of books like Speak and Wintergirls (both by Laurie Halse Anderson). The artwork really suited the melancholy tone of the book, and the contrast between the black-and-brown shades used to illustrate Hélène’s life, and the full-colour pages that appear when she talks about Jane Eyre was particularly poignant.4 starsLemony Snicket//HorseradishHorseradish by Lemony Snicket. A book of quotes and observations about (at the risk of sounding unoriginal 😉 ) life, the universe, and everything. Very witty, and written in Lemony Snicket’s usual straightforward doom-and-gloom style, which I enjoy – though it does tend to get rather stale after a while, and unfortunately I found myself enjoying the last few sections of the book much less than the first few (although the whole thing only took me about an hour to finish…).3 starsScott Lynch//Lies of Locke LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. A fantasy novel following the adventures of the con-man Locke Lamora and his crew. Excellently written, though I had a little difficulty getting into it at first, as cons are not a theme that I am entirely comfortable with – somehow, stealing from people who have shown you kindness seems so much worse than stealing from strangers… That said, the con itself was only one part of the story, and everything was woven together so cleverly that it didn’t take me too long to get over myself. Overall, the book was thoroughly enjoyable, and I am looking forward to reading more of Locke’s adventures (and I hope that we will finally be meeting Sabetha in the next book!).5 starsIsabel Greenberg//The River of Lost SoulsThe River of Lost Souls by Isabel Greenberg. A (very) short comic about Charon (the ferryman from Greek mythology), and a human woman who marries him. The art was cute and quirky, and the story was really cute, too (though of course I would’ve liked it to be longer… 😉 ). I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’s at all interested in Greek mythology.5 starsSarah J. Maas//Throne of GlassThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. The story of an assassin who is taken out of a labour camp in order to compete in a tournament to become the King’s Champion. First of all, let me just say that Celaena is just as amazing a character as people keep telling me she is – snarky and sassy, without it being annoying, and I really liked the fact that, despite being a legendary assassin, she still loves balls and pretty dresses. The romance perhaps developed a little quickly, but I liked both Dorian and Chaol (though at this point I am definitely on Team Chaolaena!), and Celaena’s friendship with Princess Nehemia was particularly enjoyable. 🙂 Plot-wise, it was sometimes a little predictable, and the villains ended up being exactly who I expected them to be, but I feel that the real mystery in this series is going to be Celaena’s past, which I am very intrigued by (and already forming theories about).5 starsEoin Colfer//Artemis Fowl & the Last GuardianArtemis Fowl & the Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer. The final book in the Artemis Fowl series, which follows Artemis the boy genius as he attempts to swindle, and then eventually becomes friends with fairies. In this book, Opal Koboi tries to destroy the world, and Artemis and Holly have to stop her. I thought it was a decent conclusion to the series – though I wasn’t particularly impressed by the very end of the book – and the characters were all spot-on. It was a shame that we didn’t see more of Juliet, but I really enjoyed the insights into Foaly’s relationship, and, of course, the dynamic between Artemis, Holly and Butler. I actually listened to this as an audiobook, which I would definitely recommend, as I was beginning to get tired of the series after the first three books or so, but Nathaniel Parker’s excellent narration really re-invigorated my interest.3 stars

Isabel Greenberg//The Snow Queen & Other StoriesThe Snow Queen & Other Stories by Isabel Greenberg. Another short comic, which re-tells the stories of first The Snow Queen, and then The Emperor’s New Clothes. Both stories were very cute (though The Snow Queen was told in rather more depth), but with the same humourous dash of common sense that I’ve come to appreciate in Isabel Greenberg’s work.4 starsSarah J. Maas//Crown of MidnightCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. The sequel to Throne of Glass, which obviously I can’t tell you all that much (or, in fact, anything) about, because spoilers. But it was definitely an excellent follow-up, with a couple of surprise plot developments (though the major twist at the end was not quite so surprising), and great character and relationship development, particularly for Dorian, who I thought was a bit under-developed in the first book.5 starsSarah J. Maas//Heir of FireHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. The third book in the Throne of Glass series. It was a little odd at first to have all the main characters separated, but it definitely allowed for a whole load of plot development that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Several new characters: Rowan took a little getting used to (& I was initially afraid that he was going to be another potential love interest…), but he really grew on me, & is now probably one of my favourite characters in this series; Manon, I also really like, and she provides a really interesting new perspective for the story; Sorscha was probably the least interesting of the new characters, but still likeable; and Aedion shifted wildly from being borderline threatening to hilarious (mainly due to his odd relationship with Chaol). I’ve written a whole spoilery discussion of the book here, which you can take a look at if you’re already caught up. 😀 Mostly, though, I am just super, super-impatient for Queen of Shadows to be released.5 starsSarah J. Maas//The Assassin and the PrincessThe Assassin & the Princess by Sarah J. Maas. A brief, but cute scene set between Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, where Celaena and Nehemia go shopping together. I enjoyed it a lot (& I can’t help hoping that Celaena will wear that dress sometime in one of the future books, to show off her new tattoos!), but it was very short…4 starsThe Captain & the Prince by Sarah J. Maas. Another short scene between Dorian and Chaol, this one set before they leave for Endovier in Throne of Glass. Basically, just a nice little insight into their relationship… You can read it online here.4 starsThe Assassin & the Captain by Sarah J. Maas. The last of the three extra scenes that Maas has written (though there are also several novellas, of course), set between Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, and featuring Chaol meeting Celaena as she arrives back in Rifthold after an assignment. This one was split up into several parts, which can be read online here: Part 1, part 2, part 3 & part 4.4 stars

Sarah J. Maas//The Assassin's BladeThe Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas. A bind-up of the five prequel novellas for the Throne of Glass series. I’m rating these together because, put together, they ended up making a pretty cohesive story in and of themselves, despite initially being published separately, and also because I’ve done a full review where I talked about each individual story (you can read it here). They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but overall it was solidly written and incredibly enjoyable.4 starsSally Green//Half WildHalf Wild by Sally Green. Wow, did that escalate quickly! 😮 The sequel to Half Bad, which I read late last year, and I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since. Nesbitt and Van were interesting new characters, and I really loved how Marcus’ character has finally been fleshed out. Nathan and Gabriel’s relationship development was great, too, as was Nathan and Annalise’s (though I could never bring myself to trust Annalise entirely). An incredibly quick read, despite being over 400 pages long (I finished it almost in one sitting), a really engrossing story, and a whole ton of emotions, which I felt was the only thing really missing from Half Bad.5+ starsPaullina Simons//Tatiana & AlexanderTatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons. The sequel to The Bronze Horseman, an epic-length historical romance set in the Soviet Union during World War II. This second book focuses mainly on Tatiana in New York, trying to find out what’s become of Alexander, and on Alexander trying to find a way to escape from the Soviet Union and reunite with Tatiana. As I’ve come to expect from this series, it was in many places incredibly bleak (which is probably why it’s taken me several months to finish), though Tatiana’s storyline at least included some bright spots (such as Anthony, and her friendship with Vikki). There’s not too much else that I can say without risking huge spoilers, but, needless to say, I really loved it, and I’m hoping that The Summer Garden, the last book in the trilogy, will be a little happier.5 starsSimone Lia//Please God, find me a husband!Please God, find me a husband! by Simone Lia. A graphic memoir about the author’s journey to find peace with God (and hopefully also a husband). I don’t really know what I expected from this book, given its title and synopsis (which I clearly did not bother to read before picking this up), but, although I didn’t exactly dislike the book, I found it a bit too preachy for my tastes, and not nearly so funny as I was hoping…2 starsJean Regnaut & Émile Bravo//My mommy is in America and she met Buffalo BillMy mommy is in America and she met Buffalo Bill by Jean Regnaud & Émile Bravo. Another graphic memoir, this one about Regnaud’s childhood growing up without his mother, and always wondering where she is and why he hasn’t seen or heard from her in so long. This was beautifully written, with a great balance of funny and sad moments, as well as a really cute art style.4 starsGrant Morrison//Batman Incorporated vol. 1Batman Incorporated Vol. 1: Demon Star by Grant Morrison. I was a little unsure about whether or not I wanted to read this, because on one hand, I know that important DCU continuity things take place in this series, but on the other hand, I’ve never been a huge fan of Grant Morrison’s writing – mainly because I really, really don’t like the way he’s chosen to portray Jason Todd, and this book is no exception in that respect, though thankfully Jason only made a brief appearance… That said, I enjoyed this a surprising amount. Various different things were going on as Batman & his allies tried to take down the Leviathan cult, but the heart of the story was Bruce’s relationship with his son Damian, which I enjoyed a lot. My only real problem with the series at this point is the artwork, which is pretty ugly, but I’ll definitely be picking up the next volume when it’s available at the library…4 starsJustin Jordan, Scott Lobdell & Michael Alan Nelson//Superboy vol. 4Superboy Vol. 4: Blood & Steel by Justin Jordan, Scott Lobdell & Michael Alan Nelson. This volume is half made up of a story involving Superboy and Doctor Psycho attempting to take on H.I.V.E., which I enjoyed, and the rest of the volume appeared to be some random issues from various crossover events (one with the Superman and Supergirl titles, I assume, and the other with Teen Titans), and although both of these events seemed interesting, there was no real way to determine what was going on, as both stories were incredibly fragmented…3 stars

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