Ultimate Fictional Heist Team!

[A.K.A. The 5 fictional characters I’d want with me on the heist I’m totally (not) planning.]

I’ve been reading a lot of heist books recently, for some reason (well, two, but since that’s two thirds of all the heist books I’ve ever read, it feels like a lot), and they’ve all had such good teams in them that I’ve been daydreaming about who I’d take with me if I ever needed to steal a potentially universe-destroying artefact, or break into an impenetrable fortress. Fun times! 😉 One catch here: I’m not going to be picking any characters from the aforementioned heist books, ’cause that would make this too easy (by which I mean the whole list would be characters from Railhead and Six of Crows. With a guest appearance from Locke Lamora ^^’ ).

Tamora Pierce//Street Magic1) Evvy Dingzai (from Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic universe)

Apart from being one of my favourite characters in anything, ever, Evvy is also a stone mage, which means she can sense the presence of different types of stones, and (usually) get them to do what she wants. As you can imagine, this would be a handy power to have along if your heist team is stealing gems, or needs to get through stone walls… I actually had a hard time deciding between Evvy and Daja (from the same series, and who has a similar ability with metals), but ultimately I think Evvy’s morals would be less likely to get in the way than Daja’s.

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//Illuminae2) Kady Grant (from The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff)

So, we have a solution for low-tech security (i.e. walls), but in case of computers, I’m also bringing a hacker, and Kady is a great one – she spends practically the whole of Illuminae hacking into super-secure systems, and battling with a rogue A.I., which is (in my humble opinion) pretty impressive!

Rick Riordan//The Lost Hero3) Leo Valdez (from the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan)

Leo’s an inventor, and would be in charge of all the team’s equipment (and hopefully building some extras, too! Maybe a getaway dragon?). Also, he’s good at blowing things up, and if Six of Crows has taught me anything about heists, it’s that explosions can come in handy. 😛

Veronica Roth//Divergent4) Tris Prior (from the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth)

Say what you like about the Divergent books, but Tris definitely gets things done – she’s great in a pinch, and usually on the ball with split-second decisions, so she’ll be the team’s combat specialist… and will not be making any important strategic decisions, for reasons that will probably be obvious to anyone who’s read Allegiant.

Kiersten White//And I Darken5) Radu Dragwlya (from The Conquerors Saga by Kiersten White)

Which brings me to my last team member: the strategist! I don’t know how down Radu would actually be with a heist situation (his sister Lada would probably be much more excited by the prospect), but I’ve just finished reading And I Darken, and I was super-impressed by all his plotting and political manoeuvring, and ability to read people and situations.

So now I have my team! Next step: deciding what we’re actually going to do. Probably something with precious gems, in order to make the most of Evvy’s talents, but beyond that I have no clue… I’ll be leaving all the planning to Radu, after all. 😉

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R.I.P. It or Ship It!

This game was originally created by emmmabooks, and it’s done the rounds both on booktube and on a lot of the book blogs I follow… I haven’t been tagged by anyone, but I was finally pushed to do this (I’ve been meaning to for quite a while, since it looks so fun~) when I read Josie’s post over at Josie’s Book Corner, which you should all definitely check out – she managed to pick out some really hilarious pairings. 😀

The basic rules are: Write down the names of lots of different book characters, and put them all in a pot together. Then mix them up, and pick them out two at a time. The two characters you pick will be paired together, and you have to decide whether you like it (Ship it) or hate it (RIP it). I’ve also come up with a couple of my own rules, as well – I wanted to limit myself to two characters per book/series, and I’ve got a total of twenty characters in my pot (which is the lid to my Cards Against Humanity cards~ 😛 ), so I’ll be making ten pairings overall.

So, without further ado:

Kenji (Shatter Me) & Arya (A Song of Ice & Fire)

My initial thought was a resounding no, but I think that this could actually work! Arya is so bent on revenge, and Kenji could definitely mellow her out a little, while still supporting her… I SHIP IT!ship it

Celaena (Throne of Glass) & Four (Divergent)

Celaena and Four-as-in-Divergent would probably work pretty well, but she’d probably lose her temper quite quickly with Four-as-in-Insurgent/Allegiant… Patience isn’t exactly Celaena’s strong suit… I RIP IT.rip it

Chaol (Throne of Glass) & Briar (Circle of Magic)

Briar is such a womaniser, and Chaol would probably be able to put up with that if there was any real chemistry between them (because, thinking of it, Briar is actually quite a lot like Celaena…), but I really feel like there wouldn’t be, so… I RIP IT.rip it

Elend (Mistborn& Tessa (The Infernal Devices)

These two would definitely make good friends – they both love reading, at least. Maybe? For now, at least, I SHIP IT.ship it

Bella (Twilight& Evvy (Circle of Magic)

Haha. XD Not a chance. Evvy is such a strong character, and Bella is just… not. These two would seriously hate each other.rip it

Juliette (Shatter Me& Nico (Percy Jackson)

No. Just, no. There’s no way that Nico would have the patience to put up with all Juliette’s issues. I RIP IT.rip it

Jem (The Infernal Devices& Vin (Mistborn)

This would definitely work! I SHIP IT! Jem is kind and charming – and frail enough that Vin would want to protect him (just like Elend!). I totally ship it!ship it

Luna (Harry Potter& Edward (Twilight)

Seeing inside Luna’s head would probably terrify Edward. And I really can’t subject Luna to being paired with such a creep… I RIP IT.rip it

Harry (Harry Potter& Percy (Percy Jackson)

This could definitely work (& I’m sure I’ve read fanfic of this pairing at some point~ 😛 ). The two heroes fighting together! And probably also complaining a lot about annoying villains who just won’t stay dead. If not romance, then they’d have an epic bromance, at least. I SHIP IT!ship it

Tris (Divergent& Gendry (A Song of Ice & Fire)

It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around Gendry with anyone other than Arya, so I’m not sure if this is just bias, but… I RIP IT.rip it

T5W: Female Characters

T5W stands for Top 5 Wednesday, which is a Goodreads group that you can find here. Every week, there’s a new theme, and each participant has to make their own top 5 list. I’ve been eyeing the group for a while, since it looks fun, & I thought that this weeks theme seemed like a good topic to start on. 🙂 I probably won’t do this every week, but you’ll definitely be seeing a few more T5W posts around.

As you can probably tell from the title, the theme for this week is female characters, so without further ado, here are my (tentative, because this was a really hard list to narrow down) top 5 favourite female characters:

Sophie Nélisse as Liesel in the Book Thief movie.

Sophie Nélisse as Liesel in the Book Thief movie.

5) Liesel Meminger (from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak)

Liesel is a recent addition to my favourites list, as I only read The Book Thief a few months ago, but, seriously, wow, that book was heart-wrenching. I got ridiculously invested in the characters, & in Liesel in particular (not-so-surprisingly, since she’s the main character). She’s just an ordinary young girl growing up in really difficult times, but she’s an incredibly sympathetic lead, & I really couldn’t help but love her.

Shailene Woodley as Tris in the Divergent movie.

Shailene Woodley as Tris in the Divergent movie.

4) Beatrice Prior (from Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy)

Tris is probably the most obviously virtuous character on this list – she’s brave, and clever, and selfless, and when she does bad things, she always does them for good reasons (and, most importantly, she feels bad about having done them for ages after). She’s also the only action-heroine on the list, mainly because I’m not usually a fan of action-heavy books, and when I am, I don’t usually like the characters themselves all that much. Case in point: Katniss (from The Hunger Games). I like her as a character well enough, but I really get the feeling that if I ever met her in real life, I’d despise her. Not so with Tris – we could definitely be friends. 🙂

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in the Game of Thrones TV series.

Sophie Turner as Sansa in the Game of Thrones TV series.

3) Sansa Stark (from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire series)

I love Sansa & Arya almost equally, so it was tough to pick between the two, but while Arya is all kinds of awesome, what makes me love Sansa so much is how much her character grows throughout the series. She starts off as this shallow, spoiled brat, but when life goes badly for her, instead of collapsing under the weight, she manages to find incredible strength, despite her fear. Sansa is probably one of the bravest characters I’ve ever read about, even though hers is not a particularly showy kind of courage.

Emma as portrayed by Kate Beckinsale in the 1996 TV adaptation.

Kate Beckinsale as Emma in the 1996 adaptation.

2) Emma Woodhouse (from Jane Austen’s Emma)

Emma is such a snob. I love her, but she’s still a snob – the kind of character who means well, but finds it difficult to resist being mean if she thinks it’ll make people laugh – which makes it a little awkward to read about her sometimes (especially since I’m the kind of reader who gets embarrassed on behalf of the characters…). So it took me a while to read Emma, but I’m so glad I did. She is hilarious, even if she’s sometimes a bit snippy with people, and her character growth is great to watch, as well.

Evvy from the US cover of Street Magic.

1) Evumeimei Dingzai (from Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic universe)

Tamora Pierce has written some amazing female characters, & several of them almost made this list (Alanna, Daine, Beka, Tris… I could go on), but Evvy is, & will probably always be my favourite. She was first introduced in Street Magic, the second book in The Circle Opens quartet, as a 10-year-old street rat in Chammur, unaware of her magical abilities, and eventually becomes Briar’s student. I initially liked her because of the way her personality complement’s Briar’s, & their dynamic is wonderful, but Evvy by herself is a force to be reckoned with, as well, & she definitely managed to carry her own story when she was given one (Melting Stones is one of my favourite Circle-verse books). She’s spunky & suspicious, and an all-out great character.

August Wrap-Up

Make yourselves comfy, because this’ll be a long one. 😉 I read a grand total of 24 books this month, which is a lot, even for me. Seriously, I’m not even sure that I knew it was possible…

A.S. King//Please Ignore Vera DietzPlease Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King. I really loved this book – Vera & Charlie were both believable and likeable, and A.S. King’s writing was as amazing as ever. The only other A.S. King book I’ve read is The Dust of 100 Dogs, which was also great, but of the two, I definitely prefer Please Ignore Vera Dietz.5 stars

Gene Luen Yang//BoxersGene Luen Yang//SaintsBoxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Technically two books, but I marathoned them, & my love towards each of them was more-or-less the same. I think I liked Saints a little better than Boxers, but, as I said, there’s not much in it. This series made me feel all the feels, & I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes powerfully-written graphic novels.4 stars

Veronica Roth//FourFour: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth. This is almost a prequel to the Divergent series, told from Four’s perspective. It was really wonderful to get to know Four as he was pre-Tris, and to get another view into his mindset. I actually preferred reading his POV here to his chapters in Allegiant, as he’s much less of an emotional mess in Four. The bonus scenes from Divergent were also pretty cool, but not as interesting as the four novellas that make up the majority of the book.5 stars

R.J. Anderson//UltravioletUltraviolet by R.J. Anderson. I actually picked up the sequel to this book from the library by mistake, and then had to hunt down this book as well. I found it pretty disappointing, though. I liked most of the characters, but the main romantic relationship had some pretty creepy undertones (particularly at the beginning), and there were a few things that happened that were never really explained. I may have rated this book a little harshly, since the writing is actually very solid, but the summary made me think that this was going to be a superpower-book, and I was kind of annoyed when I figured out that it really, really wasn’t…2 stars

Skye Jordan//RecklessReckless by Skye Jordan. My first venture into what is basically erotica. I don’t have much to say about this book except that I was surprised by how much I liked it. The characters were likeable and well-written, and the plot was solid, if somewhat clichéd & a little cheesy at times.4 stars

R.J. Anderson//QuicksilverQuicksilver by R.J. Anderson. The (far, far superior) sequel to Ultraviolet. I actually really liked this one. Allison (the main character from Ultraviolet) shows up occasionally, but the story follows Tori in the months after Ultraviolet. I loved Tori and her friend Milo, and I even liked the way that Sebastian was portrayed in this book (through Tori’s eyes as opposed to Allison’s). Also, I’m pretty sure that this is the only book I’ve ever read with an openly asexual main character, which scores it all kinds of bonus points.4 stars

Tim Bowler//Night RunnerNight Runner by Tim Bowler. Starseeker, also by Tim Bowler is actually one of my favourite books, so I was pretty excited when I found his most recent release just lying around at the library, but I wasn’t all that impressed by it. I did like the main character Zinny, and the things that he was going through made me kind of want to hug everyone who was even a tiny bit nice to him in the book, but unfortunately I didn’t find the plot particularly interesting.3 stars

Jennifer L. Armentrout//ObsidianObsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The first book in the Lux series. I basically only read this book because I heard that it was like Twilight, but with aliens instead of vampires, and I really needed something Twilight-y in my life. This series is probably better described as “Like Twilight, but a hundred times better, and also with aliens.” Needless to say, I loved it, and when I finish the last book in the series, I’ll probably write a series review.4 stars

Susanna Clarke//Jonathan Strange and Mr. NorrellJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Finishing this (audio)book made me feel ridiculously accomplished. My sister gave me the physical copy of it for my birthday several years ago, but it’s incredibly slow-paced and I found it really difficult to get into. A couple of years ago I decided to give the audiobook a try, and although I really liked it, it’s taken me until now to get through the whole thing, as I don’t tend to listen to audiobooks very often, or (when I do listen to them) for extended periods of time. This book is very slow, like I said, and also very long, so it’s not for the easily intimidated, but once you do manage to get in to it, it’s incredibly funny and enjoyable. The characters are amazingly-written, and the climax is well worth the 900-or-so pages it takes to get there.4 starsJim Butcher//Furies of CalderonFuries of Calderon by Jim Butcher. I actually bought this book (and the sequel) in order to read on the plane back from China, but unfortunately I just wasn’t in the mood for reading (which made the whole flight feel like a horrific waste of time). I finally finished it about halfway through the month, & I actually really enjoyed it. It felt a little lackluster in the beginning, but once it gets going, it’s incredibly exciting. I particularly liked the chapters towards the end of the book, when Tavi and Kitai had to take the Trial of Wits (which was, of course, perfect for Tavi). The characters were wonderful; I loved Tavi and Kitai (though she was only introduced towards the end), and Amara and Bernard’s developing relationship was really sweet to read about. The plot was a little confusing in places, but it’s easy enough to follow what’s going on once you’ve got a grasp of the world, and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel.4 starsStephanie Perkins//Isla and the Happily Ever AfterIsla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. The final book in the Anna & the French Kiss trilogy, following Anna & the French Kiss and Lola & the Boy Next Door. This was actually my favourite of the series so far, possibly because (having only read the first two books quite recently) I haven’t had that much time to get really attached to either Anna or Lola. But whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this book. I personally found Isla the most relatable of the three heroines, and Josh was absolutely swoon-worthy. They actually get together quite early on in the book, and it was lovely seeing how they were as a couple, rather than just as teenagers who liked each other a lot (as we saw in Anna and Lola’s books). Most of the criticism I’ve heard of this book is to do with the main conflict between Isla and Josh, and how it really only happened because of Isla’s insecurities, but I found it incredibly realistic, and it actually probably made me like the book even more.5 starsLeah Hocking//Once Upon a Glass HeartOnce Upon a Glass Heart by Leah Hocking. An almost-retelling of several fairytales, including Snow WhiteHansel & GretelLittle Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, with a heroine called Lily, who crosses from our world into a place called the Kingdom after finding a glass heart on her doorstep. I bought this book because it was on special offer on amazon, and because I thought it sounded interesting, but I ended up not really liking it at all. I didn’t manage to connect with Lily at all (although some of the supporting characters were likeable enough), and the plot seemed to lack any kind of direction. Basically the whole book felt like pointless filler between the introduction and the conclusion.1 starJennifer L. Armentrout//OnyxOnyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The second book in the Lux series! I loved it! This book was mainly world-building and relationship-development, but it also put together the framework for potentially epic plot in the next book.4 stars

Alan Garner//ElidorL.J. Smith//Dark AngelL.J. Smith//The ChosenMatt Fraction//Little HitsGarth Nix//Lord SundayGarth Nix//SabrielMark Lawrence//Prince of Thorns

At this point in the month, the bout-of-books readathon started, and, in the interest of not repeating myself too much, I’ll link you to the my updates from days 1-3, 4-5 and 6-7, where I’ve talked about most of the books I read. My overall ratings for the books were as follows:

Elidor by Alan Garner3 stars

Dark Angel by L.J. Smith2 stars

The Chosen by L.J. Smith4 stars

Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits by Matt Fraction4 stars

Lord Sunday by Garth Nix3 stars

Sabriel by Garth Nix5 stars

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence3 stars

Jennifer L. Armentrout//OpalNext up, I read Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The third book in the Lux  series, and a much more plotty entry than the previous two. With all the main relationships established, and the framework for the plot laid down, this book was absolutely epic, and I loved it.4 starsRick Riordan//Percy Jackson and the Greek GodsPercy Jackson & the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan. I just had a really strong craving for Percy Jackson book, and in the absence of the new Heroes of Olympus book, I turned to Percy Jackson & the Greek Gods. Which was not a mistake at all – this book was hilarious. I particularly liked the chapters on Hades and Persephone, and the ones on Kronos and Rhea, Gaia and Ouranos, and Dionysus. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite so much sympathy towards Hades. He’s such an adorable character in this book!4 starsJennifer L. Armentrout//OriginOrigin by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This is the last book I managed to read this month (and I actually only finished it a couple of minutes before I started writing this). I can’t really say much about this book without spoiling major plot points, but needless to say it was amazing. Probably my favourite entry in the series so far.4 stars

[EDIT (4/11/2018): Lowered my rating for Dark Angel from 3 to 2 stars. Most of the Night World books are pretty fun – even the not-great ones – but this was definitely my least favourite of them.]

August Book Haul!

As if I needed more books. But one of the great trials of book-lovers everywhere is, when walking past a bookshop, resisting the urge to go inside, and (once, inevitably, inside) battling the compulsive need to buy everything in sight. Lack of funds often helps to curb that second impulse, but, alas, not always – on this particular occasion, it was not helpful in the least.

August Haul

The (physical) books I bought this month!

So, this is what I bought (& thankfully, not all of these were impulse buys):

1) The Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick. This book sounds very mysterious. I actually don’t know any more about it than what’s written on the back, but I’ve heard really great things about Marcus Sedwick’s writing, so I’m looking forward to trying this out. Also, I bought it second hand, so it was super-cheap.

2) The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. I read Princess Academy by Shannon Hale so long ago that I can only remember the vaguest details of what it’s about, but I remember being very pleasantly surprised by it. I don’t know what this one’s about, but I’ve heard that it’s one of her best works, & I’ve been meaning to pick it up for a while, so…

3) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. One of my favourite books of all time. I read this one for the first time a few months ago, while I was in Beijing, but I was under a very strict no-physical-books rule at the time (because I needed all my stuff to fit inside one suitcase for the trip home), so I borrowed a copy from a friend of mine. This book was actually the reason that I was in Waterstones today: I wanted to make sure that I got a copy with the pretty cover (which I did), ’cause I keep seeing the movie-cover edition everywhere…

4) Four by Veronica Roth. The Divergent novella bind-up. I read this pretty much as soon as I bought it, & I really enjoyed it.

5) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. A complete impulse buy. But I really want to read this soon, because it’s beautiful (but also giant).

6) Boxers & Saints (box-set) by Gene Luen Yang. I actually ordered this one while I was still in China, & then had to wait an agonising (approximately) two months before I could read it. 😦 This is a graphic novel series about the Boxer Rebellion, & it made me feel all kinds of unexpected things. Of the two books, I think I preferred Saints (the second), but not by much – they’re both absolutely amazing.

Philip Pullman//Four Tales

Seriously, this thing is so far beyond gorgeous that I can’t even…

7) Four Tales by Philip Pullman. I’ve had my eye on this book for so long, but I’ve been putting off buying it because it’s pretty expensive. But I couldn’t resist any longer! Look how pretty it is! The aforementioned “four tales” are The Firework-Maker’s DaughterI Was a Rat!Clockwork, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. Philip Pullman was one of my favourite authors when I first started getting into reading, & I Was a Rat! was actually one of the first books that I read & really loved (it’s a Cinderella retelling/sequel-type thing, from the perspective of one of the rats that was transformed by Cinderella’s fairy godmother). The other three stories I haven’t read yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to.

8) Percy Jackson & the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan. Greek mythology as told by Percy Jackson (as far as I can tell). I studied Classics at university, so I’m assuming that I’ll be familiar with most of the actual stories in here, but I really love the way that Rick Riordan writes Percy’s voice~ 🙂

9) Japanese from Zero! Vol. 1. A beginner’s Japanese textbook. I’ve completed the first lesson, & it seems pretty good so far. The most exciting thing about it, in my opinion, is that as you learn the kana characters, they start replacing the roman characters, so you’re constantly reviewing the kana just by progressing through the lessons. (This is helpful for lazy people like me, who can’t be bothered to review normally, unless there’s a test coming up…)

& that’s all! This was a way longer first post than I expected it to be… & I didn’t even include all the kindle books I bought this month! I’ll probably do an ebook haul sometime later in the month, because I expect I’ll be buying more of them, but goodbye for now!

~Fran.