August & September Wrap-Up

Another wrap-up, and a whole month late! (Or two months, even, for some of these.) But in my defence, October was pretty crazy. 😓 However! August and September seem to have been some of my best reading months of the year – helped along by a long family holiday, then three concurrent readathons… So here’s what I read (featuring quite a few great rereads, and even a new – though unsurprising – favourite!):

BOOKS I REVIEWED

[INSTAGRAM REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[INSTAGRAM REVIEW]

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[REVIEW]

OTHER BOOKS I READ

The Lady & the Fox by Kelly Link. [SHORT STORY; from My True Love Gave to Me]

A cute story about a girl who visits her extended family every Christmas, and a boy who’s under a curse, and can only visit her if it’s snowing. I don’t have much to say about it, but I liked it more than I do the average short story; naturally, it was too short for me to get fully invested, but the premise was interesting, I liked both the main characters, and I thought their romance was very sweet.

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten.

As the first Second Daughter born in generations, Red’s fate is to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wilderwood in hopes of persuading him to release her kingdom’s trapped gods… but neither the Wolf nor the Wood turn out to be quite what she expected, and while she’s slowly making a new life for herself, her older sister Neve will do anything to bring her home.

This was such a great book! I loved the world that Whitten created, and the romance between Red and Eammon was super-cute, and the story ended on a very tense note – so I’m relieved that I don’t have too long to wait until the sequel (next June)! The characters were all pretty great as well; I wish that some of the side characters had had a bit more devlopment, but can’t fault Whitten for wanting to focus more on Red, Eammon, and Neve – and I was pleased that the relationship between the sisters seemed to be just (/almost?) as much a focus of the novel as Red and Eammon’s romance. To be honest, Neve was probably my favourite character; her chapters were only sporadic, but she was so interesting! And from the title (For the Throne), I assume that there’ll be a lot more of her in the sequel! 😆 

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Lindsay Duncan]

The classic romance between Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy, who are the very definition of mistaken first impressions. This is an old favourite of mine, and I’m sure I’ve read (and probably talked to you guys about it) a million times before, so I don’t have much to say here, but: Pretty much the perfect book, and Lindsay Duncan’s performance of the audiobook is absolutely wonderful. 💕

Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee. [SHORT STORY; from Conservation of Shadows]

A sci-fi short story about a girl and a ghost who steal a warship together in order to get revenge on the people who destroyed their world. I’m not generally a fan of short stories, but I loved this, and really wish it had been a full novel. The worldbuilding was really interesting, and I love the concept of people carrying ghosts within them (after which the story is named).

The Shadow Postulates by Yoon Ha Lee. [SHORT STORY; from Conservation of Shadows]

Another short story, about a student who’s struggling to complete a research project, for which she ambitiously chose to study a mathematical concept that’s baffled her predecessors for generations. I didn’t like this as much as Ghostweight (it’s very maths-y, and a little confusing), but I liked the characters a lot, and (once again) loved the world and concepts that Lee explores here.

Klara & the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Klara, an artificial friend, watches the people in the streets each day from her shop window, as she waits to be purchased – and then, afterwards, must adjust to a new role as companion to a sick child. This was an interesting book, and very well-written, but I ultimately found it a little disappointing. There was a lot of interesting worldbuilding going on in the background which never became part of the story; lots about the characters was never explained; the explanation of “lifted” children wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped; and the twist was kind of intriguing, but not as impactful as it might have been had Ishiguro actually followed through on it.

However! I really loved Klara’s perspective: her perceptiveness about people, contrasted with her misunderstanding of many simple concepts, eg. the Cootings machine, or “oblongs”. And her acceptance of her role as something to be of use, and then discarded, was also quite chilling, considering her very human-like feelings. My favourite part of the book was definitely the first, when Klara was in the shop with Manager and the other AFs, observing people through the window.

Point Blanc by Anthony Horowitz.

The second Alex Rider book, in which Alex is asked to go undercover at Point Blanc, an exclusive reform school for the children of the incredibly wealthy, to see if there’s any connection between the school and a couple of deaths of the parents of former students. This is my favourite in the series, and I decided to reread it after watching the Amazon series, which (loosely) adapts this book… And it was a little more rushed that I remembered, & its characters a little less fleshed out, but I still had a lot of fun with it. 😊

XOXO by Axie Oh.

A cute romance about a cellist who falls in love with a k-pop star without knowing who he is, and then meets him again when she temporarily transfers to an arts school in South Korea. I didn’t think that this book had the most realistic relationship development in the world, but to be honest I didn’t really care. The characters were wonderful, their relationship adorable, and I could really feel the love of music that went into this book. 🎶💕 Predictably, my favourite character was Sori; I’m a complete sucker for the popular-girl-who’s-never-had-a-real-friend trope… 😅

Vampire Knight, volume 2 & volume 3 by Matsuri Hino. [MANGA; Illustrated by the author]

Yuki is a Guardian at Cross Academy, charged with keeping the Day Class (made up of humans) and the Night Class (full of vampires) apart, and torn between her fellow Guardian Zero – a former vampire hunter whose whole family was slaughtered – and Kaname, the mysterious leader of the Night Class, who saved her life years ago.I don’t have all that much to say here: Volume 2 contains a lot of angst, as it details some of Zero’s backstory, and I loved the flashback scenes with a young Yuki in volume 3 (she’s the cutest 💕). These were both rereads (I need a refresher before I move on to some of the later volumes in the series), so while I’m enjoying getting to know the characters (again) at the moment, I’m looking forward to the story picking up a bit more in the next few volumes.

The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan.

The second book in the Kane Chronicles, in which the Egyptian god of chaos Apophis threatens to destroy the world, and Carter and Sadie Kane have five days in which to stop him. This was a quick, fun read, but for some reason I’m just not as invested in Riordan’s Egyptian books as I have been in his Greek and Roman ones. I like Carter and Sadie, and new character Bes was a great addition to the story – but most of the other side-characters were pretty under-developed (even Walt, who had more page-time than the others). And it’s no secret that I generally dislike Riordan’s romances, but I think that Sadie’s love triangle might be one of the worst he’s written; it’s actually kind of creepy, given that she’s twelve/just thirteen, and her two love interests are 16 and older-than-time… 😓

The Rift Walker by Clay & Susan Griffith.

The sequel to The Greyfriar, wherein Gareth and Adele try to prevent an all-out war between humans and vampires, while Adele’s heroic husband-to-be hatches a plan to instead win the war, but at the cost of the entire human population of the North… Like its predecessor, The Rift Walker was a bit slow to get started, but I really enjoyed it once it did. ☺️ And I wish that there had been more scenes where Gareth and Adele got to spend time alone together (unsurprisingly, since I’m kind of living for their romance), but the scenes we did get were some of my favourites of the whole series!

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Lauren Fortgang]

The final book in the Nikolai duology, in which Ravka faces the double threat of a looming war with Fjerda, and a blight on its lands which is reminiscent of the Fold that still haunts its people. King of Scars felt like it was mostly build-up, and that definitely paid off here! I was still more invested in Nina’s plotline than in Zoya or Nikolai’s (and likewise more invested in her new romance), but I was very pleased with how all the branches of the story came together in this book, and I absolutely loved the ending! 😆 So satisfying!

Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrated by the author]

A strange tale about an author who’s writing the biography of the personification of death. I had very mixed feelings about this one: It yo-yos between poignant and gross, with a lyrical writing style that I loved, and some really interesting historical references (I got sucked down quite a few wikipedia rabbit holes while listening to this). So parts of it I liked a lot, but other parts of it I really, really disliked. 😓 On the whole I would say that I respect this book a lot though. The narration was also great, but very, very slow – presumably for dramatic effect? But I could never have listened to it at normal speed, even though in general I hate speeding up audiobooks even a tiny bit.

Nightwing: A Darker Shade of Justice by Chuck Dixon. [COMIC; Illustrators: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story & Roberta Tewes]

The fourth volume of Nightwing, in which Blüdhaven is overrun by refugees from the disaster-torn Gotham, and Dick heads back to Gotham to help out. This is definitely my favourite volume so far, with no real low points! Dick had a really great team-up with Superman near the beginning, and the Blackgate arc (though I’d read it before, as part of the Batman: No Man’s Land collection) was a little fleshed out here, with a whole extra issue where Dick hallucinates an encounter with Robin, and a short arc afterwards where he recovers from his ordeal under Oracle’s care. In general, this volume was more character-driven than action-driven, which very much worked for me. 😊👍

Breath of the Wildathon: Vah Ruta Quest TBR!

As if two readathons at a time wasn’t enough, I’ve decided to add a third with the next round of the Breath of the Wildathon, which started last Monday, and will be running until Wednesday 20th October. This round is the first section of the main quest, during which we’ll all be making our way to Vah Ruta and hopefully defeating Waterblight Ganon! 🤞 I’ve joined Team Revali 🦅, which will be taking me on a path around the Southern edge of the Faron Grasslands and East Necluda.

1) THE GREAT PLATEAU – read a book that’s out of your comfort zone – This first book is the one I’m most torn on; it’ll either be The Second Sleep by Robert Harris, a post-apocalyptic thriller, or Cod by Mark Kurlansky, a non-fiction about, well, cod. The Second Sleep is the one I’m most drawn to, but I just played my TBR game for October and landed on a non-fiction square, so reading Cod here would combine those two, and thereby slightly increase my chances of getting to Empire of the Vampire next month? (Which is definitely a priority.) Let me know what you guys think! 🐟/🐎?

2) BRIDGE OF HYLIA – read a book where a character crosses between worlds – I’m stretching this prompt somewhat in order to fit in something that’s not fantasy (for those pesky bonus challenges), but I’ve decided to go with Nightwing vol. 4: A Darker Shade of Justice, in which Dick has to go undercover to infiltrate Blackgate Prison… which is kind of another world?

3) LURELIN VILLAGE – read a 5-star prediction – This one was a pretty easy choice, since this is also one of the Magical Readathon prompts that I haven’t fulfilled yet: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson! I started this on day 1 of the readathon, and am currently almost halfway through, and really enjoying it, even though I was definitely not looking forward to fitting a 1000-page book into an already busy reading month. But oh well, it seems to have worked out. 😅

4) BLOOD MOON – draw a blood moon card – The card I drew told me to pick a book over 500 pages, but I will be cheerfully using my Team Revali perk here to ignore that card and read whatever book I want instead… And that book is The Kingmakers by Clay & Susan Griffith, the final book in the Vampire Empire trilogy, which is decidedly less than 500 pages, and is essentially a romance between a human princess and a vigilante vampire hunter with a lot of secrets. 💕 There’s an interesting plot, too, but to be honest I’m mostly into this series for the romance.

5) DIVINE BEAST VAH RUTA – read a book with a water-related word in the title – Last up is Beach Read by Emily Henry! A romance between two rival authors, who decide to switch genres in order to combat their writer’s block. I started the audiobook of this a couple of days ago, and am really enjoying it so far! 😁 I was initially going to pick The Ocean at the End of the Lane for this challenge (because I didn’t realise that we could double up with the bonus prompts), but am really happy with the change – and not just because I now have something to listen to while I knit!

6) BONUS CHALLENGES – I’ve doubled up for all of these, so Beach Read will be counting for the Dueling Peaks Tower challenge (to read a book with a rivalry or a competition), and I will be attempting to read A Darker Shade of Justice in one sitting to fulfil the Eventide Island challenge. And the final challenge – weapon connoisseur – is for every book on my TBR to be from a different genre, which I’ve just about managed: I’ve got either a thriller or non-fiction, a superhero comic, a high fantasy, a steampunk/urban fantasy, and a romance! The only potential overlap is between The Second Sleep and The Kingmakers, which are both post-apocalyptic, but they each blend in other (different) genres as well. 👍

Luckily, I managed to complete all the rune trials during the Great Plateau round, and earned myself the glider perk, so I’m allowed to read these in whatever order I like – and I’ll be starting with (have already started with, in fact) The Way of Kings and A Darker Shade of Justice, as they overlap with my Bookoplathon and Magical Readathon TBRs. After that, it’s anyone’s guess what I’ll be reading.

#Bookoplathon 2021: TBR

It’s Bookoplathon time again! 😆 And also Magical Readathon time, and almost Breath of the Wild-athon time… (September’s going to be packed) but today I’ll just be sharing my Bookoplathon TBR, as that’s the only I’ve absolutely decided on at the moment. 😅 Last year’s month-long Bookoplathon was so much fun, and fingers crossed this round will be just as great! 🤞

THE BOARD:MY ROLLS:


CHANCE CARD: I decided to just draw from my TBR jar for this prompt, which contains every unread book I own, and is therefore a hazardous place to be… but I was pretty lucky this time around, and drew the next volume of the original Nightwing comics: A Darker Shade of Justice by Chuck Dixon (and others). I haven’t been super-enjoying this series, but it definitely has its fun moments, so I’m looking forward to continuing. (And, best of all, it’s short.)


BUZZWORD – COLOURS: For this prompt I decided to pick one of my newest books: The Greyfriar by Clay & Susan Griffith. I picked this up on a whim, and don’t really know much about it, but it’s apparently set in a future ruled by vampires, which sounds exciting. 🧛🏻‍♂️ Plus, I’ve really been in the mood for vampire stories lately (as you may notice).


BUZZWORD – TIMES OF DAY: … and next up is Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer! I drunkenly reserved this from my library several months ago, and I finally got to the front of the queue, so I’d better read it before I have to take it back! But I do genuinely want to read this; I don’t really expect it to be good, but Twilight can be a lot of fun, if I’m in the right mindset for it. 😋


POC REP.: This was probably the hardest choice for me, as there are a lot of books with POC rep. that I’m really excited for at the moment, but given the length of my last pick (and the one that’s about to come up), I wanted to go for something quick… so I’ve decided on The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, which is a YA fantasy about an army of girls with demon blood (I think). I was seeing this around a lot a few months ago (because it was in a subscription box?), but I haven’t really hard anyone talking about it since, so fingers crossed it’s good! 🤞


HIGHEST RATED: And at the final hurdle, Bookopoly decided to smack me in the face with The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson… 🤦‍♀️ Which, you know, I do want to read. It’s just long. Very, very long. Wish me luck! 🍀

… And that’s all! Apart from that last roll, I feel like the board was fairly nice to me this year! 😊 But I suppose the real challenge will be fitting all these prompts in with the Magical Readathon ones (and eventually the BotW-athon ones, which haven’t been announced yet). Are any of you guys going to be participating in these readathons, too? & of so, what books have the Bookopoly gods selected for you?

May & June Wrap-Up

I’ve been lax in my reviewing lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t done plenty of reading! 😉 In fact, the last couple of months have been really great for me, in terms of both quantity and quality; I’ve read several really exciting new purchases, a few that I’ve been meaning to get to for years (that were definitely worth the wait), and may even have discovered a couple of new favourites!

BOOKS I REVIEWED WILL REVIEW SOON!

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW TO COME]

OTHER BOOKS I READ

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Tuppence Middleton]

Feeling oppressed by her mother’s strict rules, Makepeace longs to find her father, but when a traumatic event ends in her being sent to live with his relatives in an old house, full of ghosts, she begins to realise that escape may be her only chance of survival.

This was a really great book, but the best thing about it by far was Makepeace, who made for an excellent protagonist; her character was really distinct and sympathetic, and despite being twelve, she made really great decisions almost the whole way through the novel (which I feel is something of a rarity in YA fantasy). The side characters were also all really interesting and well-developed; James, who was probably the most important of them, was occasionally irritating, but I appreciated that he always got called out when he was being a prat… The plot was probably the weakest part of the book, with no real goal beyond “get out”, then “survive”, then “keep surviving”, but somehow it worked even though the storyline sometimes felt a bit meandering.

Skysteppers by Katherine Rundell. [NOVELLA]

A World Book Day novella that serves as a prequel to Rooftoppers, following Matteo as he begins to make a life for himself on the rooftops, and a treasure hunt across France! My expectations for this weren’t super-high, but I actually ended up liking it a bit more than Rooftoppers! It’s not quite so self-consciously quirky, which I appreciated, and the treasure hunt made for a fun adventure. Matteo was a great lead, too (he was my favourite character in the main story), and his friendship with Mercedes (who’s kind of his rooftop-mentor) was really cute. 😊

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert.

Years after the events of Dune, Paul Atreides now rules as Emperor, but the holy war that brought him to power is one that he’s powerless to stop – and it’s also brought him a great many new enemies. There was a big shift in tone between this book and Dune, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it… On the one hand, I enjoyed the politics of Dune Messiah, and the character exploration as Paul struggles to avoid the worst consequences of the plot against him; on the other hand, it was a lot shorter, and less epic-feeling than Dune was, and there were a lot of uncomfortable sexual dynamics that I didn’t appreciate (particularly in regards to Paul’s sister Alia)… And it also ended on a slightly odd note; I’m not entirely sure where this series will (or even can) go next, but I will at least be picking up book 3 at some point, since I already own it…

Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz.

After receiving a strange email, Alex becomes convinced that his best friend and guardian Jack is still alive, and hatches a plan to rescue here – with or without the help of MI6. This wasn’t my favourite from this series, but it was a solid new entry, and a lot of fun once it got going! I found the characterisation (especially of the villains) quite shallow, but to be honest I’ve come to expect that from these books, and given the heavy James Bond influence, it’s not all that surprising. Highlights included: The return of Wolf! And I also enjoyed the more familial dynamic between Alex and Sabina at the beginning of the book.

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun. [COMIC; Illustrated by the author.]

A short, introspective comic about an alien who’s sent to Earth to observe humans. Very cute artwork, with a powerful message; definitely a bit of a tear-jerker! And there was a little twist right at the end that I really enjoyed, too. 😊 But otherwise, I don’t have too much to say about this one. My favourite panels/episodes were Jomny’s encounters with the tree, and with Nothing (and with the dog! 💕).

Nightwing: Love and Bullets by Chuck Dixon. [COMIC; Illustrators: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story & Roberta Tewes]

The third volume in the Nightwing series, in which Dick Grayson tries to become for Blüdhaven what Batman is for Gotham… with limited success. I haven’t been finding this series hugely memorable on the whole, but it definitely has its moments! In this volume, I really enjoyed Dick’s training session with Tim (the new Robin), and his encounter with Huntress was also interesting.

Vampire Knight, volume 1 by Matsuri Hino. [MANGA; Illustrated by the author.]

Yuki Cross is a student Guardian at the exclusive Cross Academy; her main duty to ensure the separation of the Day class, full of ordinary students, and the Night class, made up of vampires. This was a re-read for me, as I recently purchased some of the later volumes in the series, but definitely need a refresher! 😅 This volume is pretty intriguing, though not as compelling as later ones… but to be honest this rating is more for my impression of the whole series (so far), as each volume is so short that it’s difficult to rate them individually…

Millenneagram by Hannah Paasch.

An exploration of enneagram personality types. This was both interesting and accessible, with very colloquial writing, which made for easy reading, even for someone like me who doesn’t usually get on with non-fiction! I’m not generally a fan of self-help books, but I loved the tone of this, and its colourful formatting, and I’ve been really enjoying categorising my favourite fictional characters since getting a better idea of what each number is supposed to represent. 😁 The best thing about this book by far, though, was the between-chapter pages, which described the way each enneagram type would react to a specific situation (e.g. stuck in traffic); they were hilarious, and I really wish there had been more of them.

Heartstopper, volume 4 by Alice Oseman. [COMIC; Illustrated by the author.]

The fourth entry in the Heartstopper series, which follows Nick and Charlie as they fall in love and learn to navigate a relationship. In this volume, they go to the beach with their friends, are separated over the summer holidays, and agonise over the best way to say “I love you”. As always, this was incredibly cute, but with a little touch of bittersweet to stop it from completely rotting my teeth. 😬 I didn’t like this one quite as much as volume 3 (which was angstier), but it was still solid, and I’m looking forward to volume 5 (which I think might be the last?)!

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik.

Waylaid by an urgent assignment just as they were about to head home from China, Captain Laurence, Temeraire, and their crew must instead set off to Istanbul to collect three dragon eggs on the verge of hatching. I was a little nervous about picking this up, as it’s been so long since I last read anything from this series (and I have almost no memory of the last book), but I was actually able to get back into the swing of things very quickly! 😊 The story was gripping the whole way through, the recurring characters felt like old friends (or enemies!), and some of the new characters introduced here are well on their way to becoming favourites! Tharkay was definitely the highlight of this book, and I loved how Laurence’s attitude towards him changed over the course of the story. 💕 Now I can only hope it won’t be another eight years before I read Empire of Ivory… 😓

Red Noise by John P. Murphy.

A miner stops at a remote space station to re-fuel and sell her cargo, but ends up getting pulled into a vicious turf war between two local gangs. No rating for this one, as I DNFd it about a third of the way through (around 150 pages in), not because I thought it was terrible, it just really wasn’t for me. The writing was a little impersonal, but the plot (so far) was fast-paced and action-driven… so if those last two sound appealing to you, and the first isn’t a problem, maybe give this a try?

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White.

Frankenstein re-told from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor Frankenstein’s beloved childhood friend, and later his wife. Knowing her position in the Frankenstein family is precarious, Elizabeth does her best to manage Victor’s whims, and make herself indispensable, but at what cost?

I was quite enjoying the dark/obsessive romance of this book through the first two parts, but was sorely disappointed by the final part, which broke from canon for a very unsubtle and uninteresting twist – and seemed determined to cast Victor as a villain as if man-is-the-real-monster wasn’t already a key theme in the original novel…? Though admittedly, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein was much more blatant about it.

Nightshade by Anthony Horowitz.

The final (that we know of!) entry in the Alex Rider series, in which Alex is brought back into MI6 in order to befriend – and extract information from – a teenage assassin, whose organisation is planning a devastating attack on London. Nightshade took an absurdly long time to get started (apart from a brief prologue, Alex didn’t appear until page 81), but it was a lot of fun after that. I’ve noticed that I tend to most enjoy the books where Alex interacts with people his own age, and this one was no exception to that rule; the friendship between him and Freddy was really nice to read about, despite its dishonest beginning, and I really hope that if Horowitz decides to write more Alex Rider books, he’ll be bringing Freddy back, too! 🤞

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

Notorious thief Kaz Brekker and his crew are hired to break into the apparently-impenetrable Ice Court to rescue a valuable prisoner. I’ve re-read this a couple of times now, and don’t really have anything new to say about it from this time around… I wasn’t feeling it quite so much this time as I have in previous read-throughs, but I love the story and characters as much as ever, and it’s definitely still one of my favourite books. 😊

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse.

As the holy city of Tova gears up for the winter solstice celebration, Sun Priest Naranpa faces threats from both inside and outside her order – but unbeknownst to her, an even greater threat is drawing closer: Serapio, the crow god reborn, who must reach Tova by the solstice if his destiny is to be fulfilled.

This was such and epic story! I was initially hesitant to give it 5 stars, as it’s almost entirely build-up, and we still won’t know until the sequel is out what the true outcome of all that build-up is going to be… but I enjoyed myself so much with this book. 😍 All the POV characters were incredible, and having likeable and sympathetic characters on both sides of the main conflict made the story super-tense… My favourite perspective was probably Naranpa’s, but they were all really interesting, and I can’t wait to see where the story will go next! I know the sequel’s not out until next April, but I need it like I haven’t needed a book in a long time… 😭

Breath of the Wildathon TBR!

Hi, all! It’s readathon time again, and I’m super-excited for this one… because it’s Zelda-themed! The Breath of the Wildathon will be starting tomorrow (Monday 17th), and running through to 23rd May, and all the challenges are based on shrines and locations in Breath of the Wild! You can find the announcement video here, if you’d like to check it out for yourself (or join in!), but here’s what I’m planning on reading:

1) MAGNESIS TRIAL – read a book you’re drawn to – For this challenge I’ve decided to pick up eveyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jonny Sun, which my book-buying ban has prevented me from reading for several years… but now is finally the time! 😆 This is an introspective comic about an alien who’s sent to Earth to observe humans, and ends up making friends with the plants and animals there.

2) CRYONIS TRIAL – read a book with winter vibes – And next up is Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell, another sci-fi, but this time featuring a same-sex arranged marriage that’s supposed to prevent an interplanetary war. I’ve heard a ton of people talking about this recently, and it’s made me super-psyched (of all the books I own right now, this is the one I’m most excited for), so here’s hoping it lives up to the hype! 🤞 I also don’t know if this actually has winter vibes, but with a title like that, I’d hope so! 😅

3) BOMB TRIAL – read an action-packed book set in a land far away – In the interest of fitting some more comics on this list, I’ve picked out Nightwing: Love and Bullets for the bomb trial. This is the book I’m least happy about having on my TBR, but “far away” is a pretty relative term, and I’d say America is pretty far from the UK geographically, if not culturally…

4) FOREST OF SPIRITS – read a book with mythical or supernatural elements – I’ve got two choices for this challenge, and which one I pick up will depend on how well the readathon’s going overall; if I’ve read a ton already, with plenty of time left, then I’ll be trying out Ghoster by Jason Arnopp, a supernatural thriller that I got in my last Box of Stories… but if I’m struggling, I’ll read the first volume of Matsuri Hino’s Vampire Knight instead. I recently bought several of the later volumes in this series, but I definitely need a re-read of the earlier volumes before I’m ready to carry on!

5) TEMPLE OF TIME – read a book pertaining to the passage of time – And finally, I want to read The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson, which (to my knowledge) doesn’t have much to do with time in its own story, but I’m still counting since it’ll be showcasing the Mistborn world centuries after the events of the original trilogy. I’m dying (and extremely nervous) to see how much things have (and haven’t) changed. 😬

Five books in one week might be something of an ask (even with several of them being comics), since I’ve been feeling a bit slumpy recently, but hopefully this readathon will be just what I need to kick me back into a reading mood. 🤞

April Wrap-Up

Another great reading month – though admittedly I was beginning to feel a bit slumpy towards the end of it… 😓 My favourites from this batch were probably Walk the Edge (my first read of the month!) and the short story The Rule of Names. 😊 Also, I’m on Instagram now! Find me @nightjarreads (if you’re so inclined)!

BOOKS I READ

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry.

The second book in the Thunder Road trilogy, following Razor as he questions his place in the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and begins to fear that the club may have had something to do with his mother’s death, and Breanna, who wants nothing more than to escape this town and her huge, overbearing family, but finds her path to freedom threatened by a blackmailer…

I wasn’t super-happy with how this book ended; I feel like it sacrificed what seemed to me to be the natural conclusions of both Razor and Breanna’s character arcs in favour of a happy resolution to their romantic arc… However! I loved both characters so much, and was so incredibly invested in the plot and the romance that I can’t bring myself to mind too much (though in the moment I was quite cross). 😅 Super-intense, and definitely my favourite book from this series.

Long Way Home by Katie McGarry.

The third and final Thunder Road novel, which follows Chevy and Violet. Violet is trying to distance herself from the Reign of Terror after her father’s death, and Chevy, as the grandson of the club’s founder, is torn between his loyalty to his family, and his love for Violet.

This was kind of the anti-Walk the Edge, in that I really appreciated the ending, but wasn’t all that invested in the plot (despite its incredibly high stakes) or the romance. I did like Violet a lot, but less than I was expecting to after her appearances in the previous books… and Chevy, though sweet, wasn’t all that interesting a character. Highlights of the book included: the brief appearance of Isaiah and Rachel (from McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series), and Chevy’s mum, who was the best character in the book.

The Rule of Names by Ursula K. Le Guin. [SHORT STORY]

A quick story about a mildly-inept wizard living in a remote island community, who’s challenged by a stranger who’s convinced that he’s more than he seems. This was such a clever story! I left off thinking it was nice-but-a-bit-confusing, but the more I think back on it, the more I appreciate it, and now I’m thinking it might be one of my favourite Earthsea shorts – which is an impressive feat for something that’s less than 10 pages long! 😍

The Daughter of Odren by Ursula K. Le Guin. [SHORT STORY]

Another Earthsea short story, in which a young woman called Weed takes years planning her revenge on her mother’s lover – and her father’s murderer – only for her plan to be threatened just before she’s ready to enact it, by the return of her brother, who has a different target in mind for his vengeance. This was excellently written (as Le Guin’s stories always are), but I didn’t feel much of a connection to the characters, and so I didn’t find myself caring much about the story either…

Firelight by Ursula K. Le Guin. [SHORT STORY]

The final story in the Earthsea Cycle, in which Tenar and Ged live together for Ged’s final days. Not much happens here, so I don’t have much to say, but it was incredibly bittersweet, and a great epilogue to both of their stories… 😥

Earthsea Revisioned by Ursula K. Le Guin. [ESSAY]

An essay dealing with the significant shift in tone between The Farthest Shore and Tehanu. A very interesting read! In particular, I found Le Guin’s discussion of the etymology of “virtue” poignant, and not something I’d ever thought about before (though it seems obvious now that it’s been spelled out to me) – but a lot of other fascinating tidbits came up throughout the essay, too. I’m not usually a one for non-fiction, but the change in Le Guin’s writing in Tehanu was incredibly noticeable, and I’m glad to have learnt more about what caused it.

Batman: No Man’s Land, volume 3 by Ian Edginton, Janet Harvey, Larry Hama, Chuck Dixon, Dennis J. O’Neil, Bronwyn Carlton Taggart, Steven Barnes, Devin Grayson & Alisa Kwitney. [COMIC; Illustrators: Jason Miller, Sal Buscema, Sergio Cariello, Mark Ryan, Mike Deodato Jr., Sean Parsons, Staz Johnson, Wayne Faucher, Gordon Purcell, Roger Robinson, James D. Pascoe, Paul Gulacy, Randy Emberlin, David A. Roach, Tom W. Morgan, Paul C. Ryan, Andy Lanning, Mat Broome, Rafael Kayanan, Mark McKenna, Dale Eaglesham, John Floyd, Michael Zulli & Vince Locke]

The third entry in the No Man’s Land storyline, which I liked better than the second, but not as much as the first… Best bits: Batman’s team-up with Lynx; a two-issue episode where Harley Quinn uses a dating advice book to get the Joker to appreciate her more; and Penguin getting a little more character depth in the Hardback story. The rest of the book was fine, but nothing spectacular – though I liked Azrael’s part in this volume more than in previous ones.

Shadow’s Edge by Brent Weeks.

The sequel to The Way of Shadows, in which Kylar attempts to give up his life as a wetboy in order to settle down and make an honest living with Elene. I thought that this was better than the first book, or at least more consistently good the whole way through… I enjoyed Vi’s character being fleshed out (and I have to admit that I kind of ship her and Kylar even though it’s a little eye-rolly that everyone keeps falling for him). The Elene chapters I enjoyed less, except for the final one, where it seems like she might finally be getting some growth. And as for Kylar… well, he makes a lot of frustrating decisions, but at least that’s an improvement on his refusal to make any decisions at all in the first book… 😓 For the record, I’m still looking forward to continuing this series.

Birdy by Jess Vallance.

A YA thriller following a loner called Frances reluctantly agrees to show around the new girl at school, not anticipating the intensity of the friendship they’ll form with one another. I won’t say too much about this here, as I’m hoping to have a review posted soon, but on the whole I found it underwhelming… It was pretty well-written, and Vallance did a great job of capturing the atmosphere of an English secondary school (which I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be revisiting 😅), but the plot was kind of predictable, and its twists just not very twisty…

Nightwing: Rough Justice by Chuck Dixon. [COMIC; Illustrators: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story & Roberta Tewes]

The second collection of the 1996-2009 run of Nightwing, in which Dick continues to try to do some good on the streets of Blüdhaven, hindered this time by the dramatic appearance of a frenzied Man-Bat, followed by the bounty hunter Deathstrike – and helped by Batman, who’s in town to check up on his adoptive son, whether Dick likes it or not. Another fun, quick read. 😊 I don’t find the Blockbuster storyline particularly interesting (which is a shame, since it seems like that’s going to be a big focus in this series), but I liked the Batman team-up in this volume, as well as the brief Man-Bat episode… I’m also intrigued by what we’ve seen so far of Tad’s story, and I’m looking forward to seeing what that’s building up to.

January & February Wrap-Up

This year’s got off to a great start! 😁 Helped along by a readathon that lasted most of January, I managed to get through 8 novels, 5 short stories, 3 comics and 2 audiobooks in the last couple of months, which is well above my average – and most of these were pretty great reads, too!

BOOKS I REVIEWED

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OTHER BOOKS I READ

The Runaway Queen by Cassandra Clare & Maureen Johnson. [SHORT STORY]

Set during the French Revolution, Manus Bane is drawn into a plot to rescue the Queen of France by a promise of company from a very attractive royalist. I liked this better than the first Bane Chronicles story, and it dragged a lot less, but – once again – I don’t find that Magnus’ quirky adventures are really enough to hold my attention without any significant character development – which, to be honest, I figured was supposed to be the main point of this collection… There was a memorable hot air balloon scene, though, and I found Magnus’ interactions with the vampires mildly interesting.

Batman: No Man’s Land, volume 1 by Bob Gale, Dennis J. O’Neil, Devin Grayson, Ian Edginton, Greg Rucka, Scott Beatty, Lisa Klink & Kelley Puckett. [COMIC; Illustrators: Alex Maleev, Wayne Faucher, Roger Robinson, James D. Pascoe, Dale Eaglesham, Matt Banning, Sean Parsons, Jaime Mendoza, D’Israeli, Frank Teran, Jason Pearson, Cam Smith, Damion Scott, Chris Renaud, Sal Buscema, James A. Hodgkins, Guy Davis, Jon Bogdanove, Eduardo Barreto & Phil Winslade]

With Gotham isolated from the rest of the US after a series of disasters, gangs rule the streets, and Batman and his allies are caught in a seemingly endless fight to keep Gotham’s citizen’s safe. This comic was a re-read for me, and a pleasantly surprising one! I’d been considering giving this series up after struggling with volume 2, and then spending several years about a chapter into volume 3, but decided to give it another go… and this volume, at least, tells me I made a good decision. In particular, I really liked Two Down, a story about Detective Montoya near the beginning of the lock-down; as well as Home Sweet Home, an incredibly touching, Up-esque tale about an elderly Gothamite trying to protect his home and help out the kids in his neighbourhood. Less interesting were the Azrael sections of the story, but on the whole they didn’t take up too much of the book.

Vampires, Scones, & Edmund Herondale by Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan. [SHORT STORY]

Magnus attends a meeting at the London Institute about a proposed treaty with the Downworld, and is drawn to two very different people: the lovely and flirtatious Camille Belcourt, and Edmund Herondale, a rebellious young Shadowhunter. I enjoyed this a lot more than either of the previous two stories in this collection, perhaps because it had more of a connection to the rest of the Shadowhunters universe… but also because I really enjoyed the side characters. Edmund and Camille were both very entertaining, and I liked their interactions with Magnus. Also, I’m a sucker for an angsty love story (even a very short one), so naturally I liked that aspect of this story as well. 😉

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. [AUDIO DRAMA; Narrators: Billie Piper with a full cast]

Taken in as a child by her aunt and uncle Bertram, shy Fanny Price grows up largely dismissed by her wealthy relations – with the exception of her kind cousin Edmund, with whom she is secretly (and contentedly) in love. But with the arrival of Miss Mary Crawford and her brother, Fanny begins to realise that she may not be so happy to stand by while Edmund’s affection is won by another.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that this is Jane Austen’s least-good book (not that that’s saying much), and I can see why, even though it’s not my least-favourite. The characters are a lot less complex than in most of Austen’s novels, Fanny is a very passive lead, and the romance happens almost entirely off-page. It is still, however, a very entertaining story, and in the case of this production, very well-performed. The story was full of small, domestic dramas that kept me engaged the whole way through, and Mary Crawford was a stand-out character, even though she wasn’t the most likeable… I enjoyed her relationships with both Edmund and Fanny, and the glimpses we got of her internal struggle were really interesting.

The Word of Unbinding by Ursula K. Le Guin. [SHORT STORY]

A story set early in Earthsea’s history, about a wizard who’s trapped in a dungeon, trying to escape and save the world from his captor, whatever the cost to himself. This is too short to really say much about, but it was a sad little tale, and I enjoyed this glimpse into the Earthsea world as Le Guin was still building it.

The Midnight Heir by Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan. [SHORT STORY]

Magnus returns to England after a long absence, and a reckless – and familiar – young Shadowhunter catches his attention. Another hit from this collection! And, if I’m not mistaken (which I might well be, as I’m only two series into the Shadowhunter universe), a first glimpse of the characters and conflicts of The Last Hours? Once again, I liked this a lot; James and Grace were interesting new characters, and I loved seeing Will and Tessa again! (They get a whole star all to themselves. 😊)

The History of England by Jane Austen.

A tongue-in-cheek descrition of some of the Kings and Queens of England, with an empasis on proving the awfulness of Elizabeth I. More interesting to me was a brief, unfinished epistolary novel, Lesley Castle, that was also included, about two friends, one of whose father is marrying an acquaintance of the other. History was quite an enjoyable read, but Lesley Castle was much more fun, and I would love to have seen where the story was going. But alas. 😔

Batman: No Man’s Land, volume 2 by Greg Rucka, Kelley Puckett, Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Denny O’Neil, Dafydd Wyn, Chris Renaud, John Ostrander & Larry Hama. [COMIC; Illustrators: Mike Deodato Jr., Wayne Faucher, Damion Scott, John Floyd, Andy Kuhn, Chris Ivy, Sean Parsons, Staz Johnson, Stan Woch, Roger Robinson, James Pascoe, Pascale Alixe, Eduardo Barreto, Graham Nolan, Bill Sienkiewicz, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, Dan Jurgens, Jim Balent, Marlo Alquiza, Rick Burchett & James Hodgkins.]

The second volume of No Man’s Land, which wasn’t quite as interesting as the first. The Azrael storyline did pick up a bit, however, and I really enjoyed the chapters of Batgirl that were included (featuring Cass!), even though they’re also included in the regular Batgirl volumes, which I’ve already read. And I liked the Poison Ivy episode a lot! Not much else to say here, but I’m definitely still enjoying this series enough to continue on to volume 3 (the first in the series that won’t be a re-read!).

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

An orphan with few prospects, Jane Eyre decides to make her own way in life by advertising as a governess, but her unusual new employer is as intrigueing to Jane as he is intrigued by her, and it’s not long before she finds herself hopelessly in love. I found the beginning of this book very slow-going, but was able to get more into it once the unending misery of Jane’s childhood was done with, thankfully… And I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed the romance! There was so much chemistry between Jane and Mr. Rochester, and the way they interacted was incredibly sweet (most of the time). Downsides: the very un-nuanced characterisation of Bertha, though given her role in the story, and the time period in which this was written, I wasn’t really expecting anything else.

Nightwing: A Knight in Blüdhaven by Chuck Dixon. [COMIC; Illustrators: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story & Roberta Tewes]

Dick Grayson strikes out alone, and tries to make a life for himself in Blüdhaven, both as a civilian and as the city’s masked protector. I like Dick as a character, and enjoyed seeing him try to make his way without relying on Bruce, and form his own network of information. There’s not much to the story here, but I’m hopeful that the series will get better as it goes on. (And I’ve already enjoyed glimpses of it that I’ve seen in other Batman bind-ups.)

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrated by the author]

Harriet and Perdita Lee are ordinary Londoners with an unusual family history: as a girl, Harriet came to England from Druhastrana, a land of unknown location, and dubious reality. And when Perdita sets out to find her homeland, and her mother’s childhood friend Gretel, Harriet must explain how – and why – she left.

Helen Oyeyemi’s writing is some of the most beautiful I’ve ever come across, but I don’t always find that her stories mesh with me, and that’s the case once again with Gingerbread. I got more into the story once Harriet began her tale, but was often confused (especially in the final third of the book when a whole slew of new characters were introduced), and left the story not entirely sure what it was about… but still wanting to read everything else Oyeyemi has ever written. 😅 Harriet and Perdita were both great characters, too, and I really enjoyed Oyeyemi’s narration of the audiobook. 🍊🍊🍊

#Bookoplathon Update 5 & Review

JUST FINISHED: Batman: War Drums by Andersen Gabrych & Bill Willingham.

A collection of issues 790-796 of Detective Comics, in which Batman is first reunited with his mother-figure Dr. Leslie Thompkins, who needs him to find the family of a pregnant, dying teenager; then reluctantly teams up with the vigilante Tarantula to find the cause of a disease that’s rotting people alive; and finally takes on and begins to train an unruly new Robin – the former Spoiler, Stephanie Brown.

The first two storylines in this book I wasn’t super-invested in; as a lover of backstory generally, I enjoyed the bonding between Bruce and Leslie in the first, and I liked seeing Tarantula in the second (and I’m hoping that I’ll see more of her when I finally get around to reading the Nightwing comics)… but I mostly found myself chomping at the bit to get to the final story, as Stephanie is one of my favourite members of the extended Bat-family. Her run as Batgirl is to-date one of my favourite comic series of all time, but although I’ve obviously been aware for some time that she was Robin for a while, to my shame I’ve never picked up any of those volumes – until now!

… And I liked the two quick cases that she was involved in here; her interaction with both Batman and Tim (the previous Robin) was fun to read, as was how she took to the much-more-intense-than-expected training. 😊 The volume ended rather abruptly, but I know that this book primarily serves as set-up for the War Games arc, so I’m looking forward to seeing how things continue to develop there.CURRENT READATHON STATUS: I’m almost done now with both The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and Exile, so I’m doing a little better than “5/9 books completed” would imply… though I did some calculations and I’ll still have to read about 100 pages every day in order to finish my whole TBR (which isn’t a lot for me on a good day, but is a struggle on a bad one). In any case, I thought I’d go easy on myself today & read something quick – hence the comic book. 😊 This was for the prompt to read a book with fire on the cover.

Books Completed: 5
Pages Read: 2076
Hours Listened: 13:18
Challenges Completed: 5

September #Bookoplathon TBR!

Like much of the internet, I’ve been completely obsessed with TBR games recently, and with Becca’s Bookopoly in particular! So for a while I’ve been thinking about trying something similar (though way less complicated), but lo and behold! I was beaten to the chase, as Becca decided to create a Bookopoly-themed readathon! 😁 And with this round lasting for the whole month, I thought it’d be the perfect time to try it out. Here’s a link to all the information and resources for the readathon, in case any of you guys were also thinking of taking part.

THE BOARD:

MY ROLLS:

 
Dark Cover: For this prompt I decided to pick out A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, a book which I just bought and am ridiculously excited for. To be honest, I don’t know too much about this one, but it was strongly recommended to me by one of my co-workers on the basis of my extreme love for Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it.


Ebook or Audiobook: I’m still undecided on what I’ll read for this prompt, because although I like to have an audiobook on the go at all times, and I currently have two of them queued up for me (or I will do once I’ve finished the last few hours of my current listen), I’m not really in the mood for either of them… I would like to fulfil this prompt with an audiobook, however, so (despite my general reluctance to buy audiobooks while I still have unfinished ones waiting) I may cave and buy a new one… Otherwise, my pick for this prompt will be either The Toll by Neal Shusterman (on audio) or The Loving Cup by Winston Graham (on kindle).


Young Adult: Back to the easy choices! I don’t have a huge amount of YA on my unread shelves at the moment, but one that I’m desperate to get to soon is Loveless by Alice Oseman, which is about the complexities of asexuality, and discovering the possibility of true love in a platonic relationship.


Fire on Cover: I was going to go for The Fire in the Forging for this prompt, but in expectation of having finished (or mostly-finished) it by the time September rolls around, I decided to be strict with myself and choose something else – but not too strict! So instead I’ll be reading Batman: War Drums by (primarily, I think) Andersen Gabrych, which is a graphic novel and therefore short. 😉 Like Loveless, however, it’s not a book I packed to take on holiday with me, so I’ll have to pick it up towards the end of the month.


Community Shelf: Being lazy, I didn’t make any community cards, so I decided to search online for a random prompt generator to fulfil this roll… and I didn’t find any for reading prompts, but I did find a writing-prompt generator which I decided to use instead. The prompt I came up with was “Such a common time, this time of cruelty”, which is nice and vague, and which I’ve decided to interpret as something that I think will contain cruelty as a part of the characters’ ordinary life. So I’ve decided to go for Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, which may or may not embody this. (In any case, I’ve heard that it’s sad.)


Chance Card: Once again, being lazy, I didn’t make any specific cards to use for this square, so I decided to just pick something from my TBR jar (which contains all my unread books, both physical and digital)… and ended up with The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, which is another pretty recent purchase that I’m quite curious about. I’m not a huge fan of thrillers or mysteries, so I’m not sure how this’ll go, but hopefully the time-travel/body-swapping elements will keep me hooked. 🤞


TBR Veteran: And finally, I needed to pick out a book that’s been on my unread shelf for quite a while, of which there are quite a few… Since I’d already picked out my holiday books before deciding to participate in the Bookoplathon, though, and there was one in that stack that I’ve owned for six years already, I may as well go for Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, which is about two lovers searching for one another over the course of several lifetimes, as they’re reincarnated (I believe) over and over again.

… And we’re done! I was originally aiming for five rolls, but those two doubles landed me with seven – but this still feels like a manageable amount for me to be reading in a month. I’m also going to be on holiday for the first couple of weeks of September, so I may even be able to read more than this! (In which case I’ll do some more rolls when the time comes.) 😊 Wish me luck! 🍀

Mid-Year Book Freakout, 2020 edition

Though lockdown’s been pretty awful in most ways, it’s been great for my reading! I’m 13 books ahead of schedule on my Goodreads challenge, I’ve read almost my entire 2020 bucket list, and I’ve filled in all but one square on my book bingo challenge, making for 10 of a potential 12 bingos so far! 🎊 And the things that I’ve read have mostly been pretty great, too. 😊 That said, though, here are some of the highs and lows of this strange year so far, in handy tag form:

1) What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2020?

Much to my surprise, it was I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman! Though I had very high expectations for this book when I bought it, I’ve had such terrible luck with contemporaries since then that I was very nervous about picking it up… but it turned out really great! 😁 The writing was noticeably improved from Oseman’s last book, the characters and relationships were all beautiful, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. 💕 (I was also tempted to pick the illustrated edition of Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban for this, which I read for the first time earlier this year and loved, but it’s only kind of a new-to-me book, so I don’t really feel that it qualifies…)

2) What’s the best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020?

That would be Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb, which was the finale to the Farseer Trilogy; it kept me absolutely hooked the whole way through, and ended on such a perfect note! Royal Assassin, the second book in the series, was also a contender, but although the highs of that book were very high indeed, the lows were correspondingly low, and the middle section of the book dragged a lot

3) What’s a new release that you haven’t read yet, but want to?

Loveless by Alice Oseman was just released a few days ago, and I’m eager to get my hands on it! My experience with I Was Born for This has set my expectations sky-high, so hopefully I won’t be disappointed. 🤞

4) What’s your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

If I’d tried to do this tag a few days earlier I’d have had no idea how to answer this question, as, to be honest, I haven’t really been keeping track of new releases this year, but luckily Serpentine by Philip Pullman just got announced! And while it’s not the next volume of The Book of Dust, I’ve loved all of the His Dark Materials short stories so far, and am very much hyped. 😁

5) What’s your biggest disappointment of the year?

Probably The Princess & the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux, which I had had a really good feeling about for a really long time (and for no real reason whatsoever). It isn’t the worst book I’ve read this year by a long shot, but none of the other books I’ve rated low this year – most recently The King’s General and Rainforest – were ones that I had any real expectations for, so “disappointment” isn’t really the right word for them… 😑

6) And the biggest surprise?

This one’s a repeat: I Was Born for This! And I’ve already mentioned the reason why, as well, but in case you skipped it, I’ve been slowly going off contemporary novels for a while now – and it might just be that I’m picking the wrong ones, but I have a feeling otherwise. ☹️ It’s good to know, however, that there are still exceptions to my general reading taste! 👍

7) Do you have a new favourite author?

I wouldn’t call her a favourite exactly, but I finally decided to pick up a Georgette Heyer book a little while ago, and have purchased a couple more since. While her books aren’t something I’d want to be reading all the time, Arabella was the perfect pick for the moment in which I read it, and I’m hoping that I’ll feel similarly about the other ones I’ve bought… For those unfamiliar with her work, Heyer wrote regency romances (and detective novels, which I’m less interested in) in the 60s and 70s.

8) Or a new fictional crush?

I’ve got nothing for you here, I’m afraid.

9) Who’s your newest favourite character?

This was a tricky one, too, as most of the characters I’ve come across this year that I loved were ones that I loved already (for instance Fitz from the Farseer trilogy, or Nick and Lirael from the Old Kingdom series), but I decided to go for Cassandra Cain from Sarah Kuhn’s Shadow of the Batgirl (illustrated by Nicole Goux). While I first read about Cass years ago in the 2000-2009 runs of Batgirl, Kuhn’s interpretation of her is quite different, and utterly endearing. 💕

10) What book made you cry?

No book has made me properly cry in a very long time, but Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb was an incredibly emotional journey.

11) What book made you happy?

I debated a few books for this question (& Arabella and An Enchantment of Ravens were the closest competitors), but in the end I just had to pick Goldenhand by Garth Nix, which is nowhere near as good as the previous books in this series story-wise, but had so many great character moments – and made my favourite ship canon! ⚓️

12) What’s the most beautiful book you’ve bought (or been given) this year?

That would be Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg, which I bought as a present for myself not long before lockdown started. Greenberg is probably my favourite comic book author/artist, and this story, inspired by the early writings of the Brontës, is absolutely gorgeous – and a great read, too!

13) What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well, I’ve been pretty pro-active with my 2020 bucket list (especially when compared to the ones I made for the last couple of years), but the two on it that I have yet to read are A Closed & Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – the second book in the Wayfarers series – and The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt, which I put on the list for very predictable reasons. 😅 But other than that, I’d like to continue on with Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series, the next of which is Ship of Magic, and it’d be nice to finish up The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin this year as well – and since I only have a few short stories left of it, that shouldn’t be too much of a struggle. 😊

[Tag’s original creators: Earl Grey Books & ReadLikeWildfire.]