T5W: LGBTQ+

This is a day late, I know, so it’s more like a Top 5 Thursday than a Top 5 Wednesday, but I’ve been meaning to do a post of my favourite LGBTQ+ books for a while, so I wasn’t going to let this excuse pass me by. 😉

5) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

A story about the crew of a spaceship, who’ve signed on to create a wormhole between two distant planets, a task that involves a long journey through deep space, and a lot of time with only each other for company. This book is, naturally, heavily character-driven, and the thing I like most about it is the sheer diversity of it, both in terms of race/species and relationships (and the “plus” part of LGBTQ+ plays a prominent role here). My favourite relationship in the book is between one of the crewmembers and the ship’s A.I., which is incredibly sweet, but the book also does a really great job of portraying same-sex relationships, inter-species relationships, and even polyamory.

4) The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

The gay character (who I won’t name here for the benefit of the one person in the world who hasn’t read this series yet, a.k.a. Chloë) in this series is actually closeted for the majority of it (as well as the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, in which he also plays a fairly prominent role), but his forced coming-out scene in The House of Hades is one of my favourite moments in any of Riordan’s books, ever. So many feelings! 😥 I’m not a huge fan of the eventual pairing that Riordan seemingly picked out of a hat for him (something that I’ve been forced to confront more and more recently, as I’ve just started reading The Trials of Apollo series, which is set not long after Heroes of Olympus), but he himself is a really wonderful, well-rounded character, and I love how the (quite sudden) revelation of his sexuality didn’t change his role in the books in the slightest.

3) The Boy Who Wept Blood by Den Patrick

The second book in the Erebus Sequence (though the first one reads very much like a prequel, so I think that The Boy Who Wept Blood might actually be a better starting point for this series), which follows a group of Orfani – people who are all remarkably talented and highly educated, but horrifically deformed – in a gothic fantasy setting. The main character in this book (who is also present in The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, but only as a small child) struggles a lot with his sexuality, as his world is about as accepting of homosexuality as our own, over 100 years ago… so, not very much. :/

2) The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green

The main pairing in Sally Green’s Half Life trilogy – which follows a young man who’s half-Black Witch and half-White Witch, and persecuted by both societies – took me somewhat by surprise. It was a relationship I was rooting for from their very first meeting, and I was aware of comments that Green had made on social media that they were perfect for each other, but somehow it always seemed like Nathan would be running from his feelings until long after the series’ ending. (And also, he had a girlfriend, which didn’t bode hugely well.) Needless to say, I was overjoyed when it became canon. 😀 These were two amazing characters, and a beautiful, heartbreaking, and incredibly realistic love story, despite their fantastical circumstances.

1) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Lastly, one of my favourite books of all time, Carry On, which tells the story of Simon and Baz at Watford School of Magicks, where a mysterious being known as the Insidious Humdrum is threatening magic’s very existence. It’s actually a spin-off of another of Rowell’s books, Fangirl, whose main character writes fanfiction of the mega-successful Simon Snow series (which is the Harry Potter of the Fangirl universe). It’s all very meta (and also fantastic)… So pretty much everyone knew from the time the book was announced that Simon and Baz were going to be a couple, and their relationship played a major part in the novel, without eclipsing the main storyline in the slightest. It was just there, slowly and wonderfully developing in the background, while all the drama and mysteries unfolded around it.

You might have noticed that none of the books on this list (except maybe Carry On) advertise themselves as LGBTQ+ stories (i.e. books that deliberately focus on sexuality, and how it influences the lives of their protagonists). This wasn’t exactly a deliberate choice, but although there are plenty of specifically-LGBTQ+ books that I really like (and when you’re writing a book specifically about LGBTQ+ issues, then the only way your readers won’t know about it going in is if they don’t bother to read the blurb), I really appreciate it when authors don’t feel the need to make a big deal out of their characters’ sexuality… and I feel that it goes a long way towards normalising diversity in literature, without trivialising the struggles that LGBTQ+ people face in society.

Also, an honourable mention for Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson, which has a special place in my heart as one of the few books out there (and the only one I’ve read so far) with an openly asexual lead character. It’s also a really good book, of course, just not quite as amazing as most of the books on this list. (It was such a difficult choice!)

[Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. To find out more or join in, check out the Goodreads group.]

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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. 😉

The Chocolate Book Tag!

As usual, nobody asked me to do this tag – but I decided to do it anyway, since tomorrow is Easter Day, and everyone knows that the true meaning of Easter is chocolate (right? 😉 ). The Chocolate Book Tag was created by Faye from A Daydreamer’s Ramblings, and you can find the original on youtube (or her blog if you’d prefer a written version).

James Patterson & Lisa Papademitriou//Homeroom Diaries1) Dark chocolate – a book that covers a dark topic

The first one that comes to mind is Homeroom Diaries by James Patterson & Lisa Papademetriou, since it touches on a lot of dark topics (abandonment, mental illness, bullying, grief, suicide, amongst others), and I also just finished reading it. It’s not the greatest book, but I thought it dealt with the majority of these subjects quite well.

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On2) White chocolate – your favourite light-hearted / humourous read

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which is a new favourite of mine – I’m sure that I was grinning like a lunatic the whole time I was reading it! 😀

Renée Ahdieh//The Wrath & the Dawn3) Milk chocolate – a book that has a lot of hype that you’re dying to read

At the moment the book I most want to jump on the bandwagon for is The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh. The hype for this book started almost a year ago, but unfortunately it’s still too expensive for me to justify buying… 😦

Emma Mills//First & Then4) Chocolate with a caramel centre – a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while you were reading it

I pretty much turned to mush when I was reading First & Then by Emma Mills. Such a cute book! ❤

Rainbow Rowell//Kindred Spirits5) Wafer-free Kit-Kat – a book that surprised you lately

The most recent surprise was probably Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell, which I expected to like (since it is, after all, a Rainbow Rowell book), but not to love – I’ve never been much of a short story person, unless I’m already invested in the characters (as in the case of spin-off novellas). The ending of this one was pretty startling as well, in the best possible way.

Peter V. Brett//The Painted Man6) Snickers – a book that you are going nuts about

At the moment I’m really into The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett, which I’ve been readalong-ing with my friend Chloë for the last couple of months. It’s a high fantasy series set in a world where demons come up from a place called the Core every night and prey on humans, and (as of book three, The Daylight War, which we just finished) it’s only getting better as it goes on.

Tamora Pierce//Street Magic7) Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows – the book you’d turn to for a comfort read

I feel like (i.e. know) I’ve said this a thousand times already, but my ultimate comfort read is Street Magic by Tamora Pierce. I also tend to listen to the audiobook of it a lot, since it’s really fantastic. 🙂

Rick Riordan//The Lightning Thief8) Box of chocolates – a series with a little something for everyone

Oh, dear; that’s a tall order! And, in fear of unoriginality, I can’t just say Harry Potter… 😉 So instead I’ll pick the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (and its sequel series, Heroes of Olympus!), which I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone to dislike. It’s got action, humour, romance (which I personally wasn’t a fan of, but which seems to be popular with most other readers), drama… the list goes on! I have so much love for these books~ ❤

♥ The Book Love Tag! ♥

So, I’ve seen this tag in a few places recently, and I wasn’t tagged for it, but I decided to do it anyway, since it’s Valentine’s Day, and it looked like fun (mostly the “fun” part, though). This tag was created by Anette from Anette Reads, and I first stumbled across it on Cátia’s blog, The Girl Who Read Too Much.

1) Your favourite book couple:

There are a lot of pairings that I really like, but I don’t really have any absolute favourites… My favourite pairing at any given time tends to be the one I liked most in whatever book I’m currently reading, or have just read and am obsessing over. ^^’

A few that have stuck with me, however: Vin & Elend from the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon SandersonCelaena & Chaol from Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series; and, of course, Ron & Hermione from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, which I’m sure many people count among their OTPs. 😉

2) Your top 3 book boyfriends/girlfriends:

I… don’t really have any. ❓ There are a lot of characters in the books I read that I really love as love interests, but I’d rather ship them with other characters than with myself… I did at one point have the hugest crush on Briar from Tamora Pierce’s Emelan books, though. (Okay, maybe I still do. 😳 )

3) Imagine your favorite book couple. Who would propose, and how? (If there’s already been a proposal: who would be more into organising the wedding?)

Sticking with the couples I mentioned in question 1:

  • Vin & Elend – Elend, and Elend. Or at least, if they’d had a wedding in the conventional sense. 😉
  • Celaena & Chaol – Hmm… Chaol would propose, and I think they’d organise it together. Celaena would take charge of most of the aesthetic things – like where the wedding would be, how to decorate, and what the bridesmaids would wear, etc – while Chaol did the boring things like actually arranging these things. And vetoing Celaena’s more outrageous suggestions (or trying to, at least).
  • Ron & Hermione – I feel like Ron was probably the one who proposed, though not without significant prodding. And I expect that Hermione (and Molly!) did most of the work of actually planning the wedding.

4) Unpopular opinions time! Name a popular pairing you can’t stand.

I sense that this opinion will be very unpopular, but: Percy & Annabeth in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. 😳 I actually dislike most of the pairings in Rick Riordan’s books (with the surprising exception of Leo & Calypso in The Blood of Olympus); I just don’t think he writes romance very well…

I also really disliked the romance between Celaena & Rowan in Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (and not just because I’m a Chaolaena girl!). The dynamic between them (which was a big part of why I loved Heir of Fire so much), was just completely altered, and not for the better.

5) What’s your favorite and least favorite romance trope?

There are so many romantic tropes that it’s difficult to pick favourites, and I can like most tropes, if I feel they’re done well… But, in the interest of actually having an answer to this question… I’m quite fond of arranged marriages, and forbidden love, and I usually dislike insta-love and love triangles. I just come across them way too often. :/

6) Do you ship non-canon couples often? Name some if you do.

I actually sometimes get more invested in non-canon couples than in canon ones, because I put so much energy into rooting for them. Some of the ones I feel most strongly about (and have for a while) are: Sansa & Sandor (from A Song of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin); Arya & Gendry (also from ASoIaF); Will & Brân (from Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence); Kuroko & Aomine (from the Kuroko no Basuke manga by Tadatoshi Fujimaki); and Gabriel & Nathan (from Sally Green’s Half Life trilogy).

7) Your opinion on love triangles. Go!

They’re over-done, and rarely done well (it’s usually really obvious who the main character is going to pick the whole way through).

8) Favourite and least favorite love triangle?

Favourite: Will, Tessa & Jem in Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices trilogy (the only really excellent love triangle that I can think of). Least favourite: Hmm…? Maybe Edward, Bella & Jacob from the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, though I don’t really consider that to be a proper love triangle, since Jacob obviously never had a chance with Bella. She even told him so. Repeatedly. ^^’

9) Sometimes romance just isn’t the way to go. Favorite friendship?

I really, really loved the friendship between Rowan & Celaena in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas… The direction it took in Queen of Shadows was such a shame. 😦

10) What’s your favorite scene with your bookish OTP?

  • Vin & Elend – their first meeting at the ball in The Final Empire. So cute! XD
  • Celaena & Chaol – pretty much the whole of Crown of Midnight. Just… guh (*turns to goo inside*). There was also a really hilarious scene in The Assassin & the Underworld (one of the prequel novellas) where they met at a party, Celaena drunkenly hit on Dorian, and Chaol just stood there Not Approving – but none of them knew each other at that point, and even if they had, they were all in disguise…
  • Ron & Hermione – so many moments… I can’t decide! (Life is hard.)

11) Imagine your favorite book couple again. Who’s most excited about Valentine’s Day (either ironically or genuinely)?

  • Vin & Elend – Elend (genuinely).
  • Celaena & Chaol – Celaena (half genuinely, half ironically. She’d be excited for the possibility of chocolate, if not the actual holiday).
  • Ron & Hermione – Hermione (genuinely, but secretly).

My Life in Books

I can’t seem to find (and therefore credit) the person who created this tag, but I was tagged by The Quirky Book Nerd (who has a wonderful blog that you should all check out) – much to my delight! 😀 I’ve had my eye on this tag for a while now (it seemed super-fun), and had actually been planning on doing it soon whether I was tagged or not. It is, however, always nice to be tagged~ 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!

1) Find a book for each of your initials.

K.M. Peyton//Flambards Philip Reeve//Mortal Engines Garth Nix//Sabriel Rick Riordan//The Son of Neptune Tamora Pierce//The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

Flambards by K.M. Peyton
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Sabriel by Garth Nix
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

Frances Hodgson Burnett//A Little Princess2) Count your age along your bookshelf – what book did you get?

I’m 26, which (discounting my shelves for study guides, comics and manga, which I usually try not to use for tags) lands me right in the middle of my miniature section of Children’s Classics, where I ended up with A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Anthony Horowitz//The Devil & His Boy3) Pick a book set in your city/county/country.

I don’t think I’ve read any books that are set in Cambridge itself, so instead I’ll go with The Devil & His Boy by Anthony Horowitz, which is at least set in England (and is also a really great book that I don’t mention much!).

Marissa Meyer//Fairest4) Pick a book to represent a place you’d like to travel to.

Can I pick the moon? I’d love to go to the moon. Fairest by Marissa Meyer. 😉

Fredrik Backman//My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises5) Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

My favourite colour is orange, which isn’t the most common colour for books… I do own a couple, though, and one of them is My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrick Backman, which has a lovely shade of orange on the spine, in particular. 🙂

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit6) What book do you have the fondest memories of?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. My love of fantasy was seeded in me early on in life – my dad used to read this book to me and my sister before bed when we were both little.

7) Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

George R.R. Martin//A Dance with DragonsProbably A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, which I carried around in my purse for several months before I finally managed to finish it (I remember it clearly: I constantly had a very sore shoulder from the weight of the book, and I also ended up mangling the dust jacket… :/ ). It wasn’t just that the book was long – I made it through the rest of the series easily enough, and they’re all super-long, too – but most of the book was taken up with either Daenerys or Jon Snow chapters, and they’re my least-favourite POV characters in the series.

David Mitchell//Cloud AtlasDavid Mitchell//The Bone Clocks8) Which book on your TBR will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment to have finished?

Either Cloud Atlas or The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. These two have been sitting on my TBR shelf for a while now, because although I like David Mitchell’s writing, I also find it quite tough to get through. So, yeah, I’ll be pretty proud when I finally manage to finish these. 🙂

9) I tag:

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

2014 in Review: Some Favourites

2014 was a pretty good year for me: I managed to read a lot more than I think I ever have before (158 books in total), and there’ve only been a couple of those books that I didn’t enjoy; I also managed to get back into one of my favourite genres – high fantasy – and I spent about two months reading it almost exclusively. There are a few things that I’ve disappointed myself on, too, like that I still haven’t finished reading Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy… Most importantly, though (in my opinion), is that I’ve discovered several new favourites this year, so I thought I’d share some of the year’s highlights with you all today!

Rick Riordan//The House of HadesThe very first book I read this year was The House of Hades by Rick Riordan, the fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series, which I already loved – but this one was my absolute favourite, and it definitely started off the year on a high point.

Rainbow Rowell//Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell was the other great book that I discovered before I went off to China, and I’m really glad that I did, since it was a very accidental discovery: I only actually bought this book because I couldn’t find a copy of Fangirl!

Brandon Sanderson//The Final EmpirePAtrick Rothfuss//The Name of the WindAnd since I mentioned my obsessive high fantasy phase already, I should mention that during it I managed to discover (and marathon) two of my new favourite fantasy series: The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, and The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. Both series have incredibly engrossing plotlines, and (as I’m sure I’ve said before) some of the best world-building I’ve ever seen.

Markus Zusak//The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak is (as far as I can recall) the only book that has ever made me cry. I only read it by chance, since one of my friends happened to have a copy that they were willing to lend me, but I vividly remember reading the last fifty pages or so of the book and being in floods of tears the whole time, just praying that another of my friends wouldn’t turn around and see me, and then decide she didn’t want to read the book after all… 😥

Marissa Meyer//CressMy most recent amazing discovery was The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I went through a bit of a fairytale phase a little while ago (and I’m actually not entirely sure that I’ve got through it yet…), and picked up this series because they’d been generating a lot of buzz on Booktube, but (not being much of a sci-fi fan) I had no clue that I’d like them as much as I did! The third book, Cress, is my favourite in the series so far, and I can’t wait for the conclusion!