Autumn Catch-Up

Almost immediately after implementing this new format, I am forced to re-think it again, as, with my reading slump now completely over, this post will be a mammoth one! 😅 (Perhaps flexibility is the key…) In any case, I read a great deal over the autumn months, and was mostly in the mood for fantasy, but with bits and pieces of quite a few other things mixed in, too! All in all, I managed to get through: 18 novels, 1 short story, 1 comic, 7 manga volumes, 2 pieces of non-fiction, and 5 audiobooks…

FAVOURITE OF THE SEASON*

LIBRARY SCAVENGER HUNT PICKS

ursula le guin//the tombs of atuan

SEPTEMBER

[REVIEW]

OCTOBER

[REVIEW]

NOVEMBER

[REVIEW]

 

OTHER BOOKS I REVIEWED

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[SERIES REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

BOOKS I DIDN’T REVIEW (INDIVIDUALLY)

The Girl in the Mirror by Lev Grossman. [SHORT STORY; Anthology: Dangerous Women]

A quick tale from the world of The Magicians, that makes me almost tempted to read the main series… Undergraduate Plum and her friends in the League play an elaborate prank on the college’s student wine steward – who has been short-pouring the wine at dinner – only for it to take a rather unsettling turn just before its completion. What I’d heard about this series makes me think I probably won’t like it, but I enjoyed this short story a surprising amount. I didn’t like Plum all that much, and even felt a little sorry for her chosen victim, Wharton, but the way that the prank played out was great fun (for the reader, though not the participants 😉).

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Jenna Lamia]

The story of a white girl called Lily who runs away from her abusive father, and sets out – dragging along her nanny and best friend Rosaleen, in trouble with a dangerous group of racists after spitting on a white man’s shoes – in search of information about her mother, who died when she was a toddler. I had a hard time getting into this story, but once I got through the first section of the book I was hooked. Lily was probably the weakest of the main cast (though I still liked her a lot by the time the book ended), but the relationships she formed with the people who helped her on her search were incredibly compelling. She and Rosaleen had their ups and downs, but their love for one another was always very obvious, and the bond that grew between Lily and the Calendar Sisters (and August in particular) was wonderful. Lamia’s narration was also beautifully done; I don’t know if I would’ve liked this book half so much if not for her excellent performance.

I Am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton. [COMIC]

A collection of short comics about a very silly, very cute cat (with whom I’m sure we are all familiar). I actually bought this to give to a friend who really loves Pusheen, and hadn’t intended to do more than flip through it myself, but as is often the case with episodic cartoons like this, a quick flip-through turned into an entire read-through without much input from me. (It was still pretty quick, though. 😋)

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin.

The first book of the Earthsea Cycle, which tells the story of the early years of the wizard Ged, who, as a boy, and out of pride, summons a terrible shadow that stalks him throughout the rest of his childhood – and which he must hunt in turn once he is a fully fledged wizard. I stalled halfway through reading this book about ten years ago, and have been meaning to get back to it ever since, but somehow it was never a priority. But I’m really glad to have finally been able to experience the beginning of this amazing series! 😁 It’s a very character-driven story, with slow pacing and an often a somewhat lonely tone, and a vast world, saturated with magic.

Hard in Hightown by Varric Tethras (a.k.a. Mary Kirby). [Illustrators: Stefano Martino, Álvaro Sarraseca, Andrés Ponce & German Ponce]

A short tale from the world of the Dragon Age video games, as told by Varric – a companion character from both Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition – who is one of Thedas’ most popular authors. The majority of this book exists in-game in the form of unlockable codex entries (of which I had already read a few), but it was really lovely to read them all together, with some wonderful accompanying illustrations. The story itself – a murder mystery – is nothing particularly special, but the real charm of Hard in Hightown is all the familiar locations and characters that are scattered throughout the book, as Varric’s penchant for modelling his characters after his friends is greatly in evidence. 😊

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin.

The second Earthsea book, which is told from the perspective of Tenar, the young priestess of the Nameless Ones, who wield a dark power in the sacred tombs beneath her island home of Atuan. I think I may have enjoyed this book even more than A Wizard of Earthsea! The new perspective was unexpected (and I was surprised by how long it took for Ged to appear in the story), but I liked Tenar a lot, and her small world above and below the island were fascinating.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Steve West]

The sequel (and conclusion) to Strange the Dreamer, in which Lazlo Strange and his companions come face to face with the horrors of Weep’s past, and begin to uncover the reasons behind them. Since this is a sequel, I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but I had somewhat mixed feelings about it; while I loved all the backstory and worldbuilding in this book, and felt that the story wrapped up in an interesting way, I wasn’t as blown away by it as I hoped to be… Given that my expectations were sky-high, perhaps that isn’t saying much, but I found the book a bit too romance-driven (even though the romances were all ones I liked), and thought that the consequences of the dramatic – and potentially game-changing – twist at the end of Strange the Dreamer were avoided more than addressed… But regardless, I still think this was a fantastic series, and my interest in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy (which I think this one is peripherally connected to?! Though I could be mistaken about that!) has definitely been re-invigorated.

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb.

A love story between two ghosts who are only able to meet by possessing the bodies of two teenagers. I didn’t have high expectations for this book, but was pleasantly surprised by it! It wasn’t particularly scary, but the spooky atmosphere was excellent, and I loved how the characters were caught between their desire to be together, and the dubious morality of their actions. I believe that the sequel is about the two teenagers whose bodies they were inhabiting, which sounds interesting, and I hope to read that at some point, too.

The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin. [Illustrator: Charles Vess]

The third book in the Earthsea Cycle, where Ged – now Archmage – is called away from Roke by a young prince who visits the island, bringing news that magic is fading from the world. As the majority of this story was spent travelling, it covered a lot of places in Earthsea that I hadn’t seen before, and which it was very interesting to visit, and I also really liked Ged’s new companion in this book, Prince Arren, and the bond that grew between them… Of the three books I’ve read so far, I found this the least-compelling, but that’s not much of a criticism! 😅 Having just begun reading from my new illustrated edition, I wish that there had been more pictures, but that only speaks to the quality of Vess’ artwork.

Secret Vampire by L.J. Smith.

The first book in the Night World series follows a human girl called Poppy who is secretly in love with her best friend – who is, unbeknownst to her, a vampire, and possibly also her soulmate. This is probably one of the weakest stories from this series, as it’s almost entirely romance-driven, and neither of the two lead characters are particularly compelling, but it’s quite short, and I some of the secondary characters are interesting (meaning Ash, and Poppy’s brother Phil).

Daughters of Darkness by L.J. Smith.

The second Night World book, in which the three Redfern sisters run away from their vampire family in search of a little freedom, and find themselves living next door to an inconveniently observant human girl, who suspects they may be killers. In contrast to Secret Vampire, this is one of the best entries in the series. I really liked all three of the Redferns, and Mary-Lynnette, their neighbour, was a great protagonist, although the length of these books doesn’t really lend itself to a great deal of character development. I appreciated, too, that the focus of this story was on the murder mystery, rather than pure romance – though the romantic aspects of the book were also very well done.

Spellbinder by L.J. Smith.

The third in the same series, which is about two teenage witches who find themselves in competition over a mortal boy, and throwing around spells that are quickly growing beyond their control. This was another promising entry in the series, and I enjoyed the focus on Blaise and Thea’s friendship, despite their wildly different values. I liked Eric a lot, too, and his growing romance with Thea was very sweet.

Dogs, volumes 0-6 by Shirow Miwa. [MANGA]

A dystopian series about a group of characters who are all searching for a way into the Below, their home city’s sinister underground. I had previously read the first three volumes of (and prequel to) this series, but decided to give them a (much needed) re-read before continuing on, as it’d been such a long time. And I find myself (for a second time) intrigued by the story and characters, and wowed by the beautiful art, but wishing the series was a bit less violent, as much of it seems unnecessary, and the action scenes are sometimes quite hard to follow. I’m also a little worried that, with Heine’s backstory now explained, the most interesting part of the plot may be over – despite the tease at the end of volume 6 of a new, powerful enemy for the team…

Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes.

The fourth book in the Falling Kingdoms series, which follows a group of young protagonists, each of whom is trying to get their hands on the four Kindred – a set of stones with powerful magical abilities – for reasons of their own. The plot is definitely escalating dramatically in this new entry in the series, and I like where a lot of the relationships are going. Princess Amara of Kraeshia also joins the main cast in this book, and I’m not sure how I feel about her as a character yet, but she certainly adds an interesting new perspective on this world… And I still hate Jonas – I will probably always hate Jonas – but he does seem to be getting at least a little less insufferable as the series goes on. I tend to talk quite negatively about this series, but I do kind of love it. It’s not great literature by any definition, but it’s super-fun, and I’m really looking forward to reading the last two books. 😁

The Rights of Man by H.G. Wells.

A new edition of Wells’ manifesto on human rights, introduced with an essay by Ali Smith. The beginning of the book is primarily made up of a proposed bill of rights, which is rather dry when read in its entirety (despite the importance of its contents), but I found Wells’ discussion of each clause interesting, and considerably more engaging. This is definitely not the most extensive thing ever written on human rights, but it provides a good introduction for those interested in the topic.

The Secret Crusade by Oliver Bowden. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Gunnar Cauthery]

A novelisation of the first Assassin’s Creed video game (with some elements from later games which explain why it’s the third in the novel series, and not the first), which tells the tale of Altaïr Ibn La-Ahad, the youngest ever Master Assassin, who’s stripped of his rank after a series of horrific misjudgements on an assignment put the whole of the Order of Assassins in danger. I was hoping that this book would fill in some of the gaps that were left in the game’s storyline (which jumps around a lot in terms of times and locations), particularly in regards to Altaïr’s relationship with Malik. But while it did offer a lot of extra content – including extra backstory for Altaïr, an explanation of his enmity with Abbas, and a continuation of the main story which really fleshes out his relationship with Maria – Bowden didn’t elaborate much on the retelling of the game itself, which is a shame.

The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Kathleen Gati]

The enchanting first book in a fantasy trilogy inspired by Russian folklore, which follows a young girl with a hint of magic, who becomes caught in an unending battle between the gods of life and death. Vasya was a really wonderful lead character, and the haunting, wintery wilderness of northern Russia – full of magic and spirits – was as much a character as a backdrop to the story. The slow pacing may be a little off-putting for some people, and the start of the book is a little confusing (since a lot of the characters are introduced all at once), but needless to say, I loved it! I’m already nearly done with the second book in this series, and can’t wait for the third! ❄️4 stars

*Not including re-reads.

[EDIT (23/12/18): Decreased rating for The Bear & the Nightingale from 5 to 4 stars after further consideration, and replaced it with The Tombs of Atuan in my “favourite of the season” slot. My feelings on the book haven’t changed, just my assessment of those feelings… if that makes any sense. 🤔]

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Series Review: Night World by L.J. Smith (Spoiler-Free)

    

    

Alongside the world we know exists the Night World, inhabited by vampires and werewolves and witches, and all other manner of supernatural creature, and ruled over by the incredibly strict Night World Council. And one of the Night World’s most fiercely enforced rules is that of isolation; no human can ever know of its existence, under the pain of death – a rule which causes huge problems when some Night World citizens begin to discover that they have human soulmates…

The Night World series is comprised of nine fairly short books, each following a different pair of unlikely soulmates, and vary in quality from great fun, to good fun, to somewhat mediocre. All nine are primarily romance-driven, but most of them also include some kind of stakes for the characters beyond the danger that is posed to them by their feelings for one another – those being the best of the lot.

Some of my favourite stories are:

  • Daughters of Darkness (#2), in which the three Redfern sisters (a powerful vampire family) come to live with their estranged aunt, only to find her murdered – which raises the question, who could possibly be able to kill her, in a town where no-one should even know that vampires exist? Meanwhile, their less-than-friendly brother Ash has been dispatched to bring them home, whether they like it or not, and their human neighbour Mary-Lynnette, is becoming increasingly suspicious of their night-time activities.
  • Soulmate (#6), in which Hannah Snow begins finding notes in her own handwriting, warning her of her own death, betrayed by a vampire who claims to love her. He has killed her countless times before, and in every life he is fated to find her again… But in this life, will she be able to break the cycle?
  • and Black Dawn (#8), in which Maggie leaves home in search of her missing brother, only for her search to lead her to one of the Night World’s most closely-guarded secrets: a hidden kingdom ruled by vampires, where the only humans are slaves. There she meets Prince Delos, and learns that she is his soulmate, but even that won’t guarantee her survival, or her brother’s.

Smith’s heroines tend to be spirited, pro-active (though always distinct) and likeable, and although her use of the soulmates trope means that much of the romance is a little on the insta-love side of things, the relationships do continue to deepen after being given the “one true love” label. And I particularly appreciated, given the bad-boy love interests that Smith seems so keen on, that the love of a soulmate wasn’t presented as something that would fix personality flaws, or wipe away the more problematic aspects of the characters’ pasts.

There is an overarching storyline that makes itself known in the last few books, but each one also stands very well on its own… which is probably for the best, as the series remains unfinished. The tenth book, Strange Fate, has yet to be published, and since fans of the series have been waiting for it for more than twenty years already, and there’s still no sign of any progress having been made on it, I don’t really expect it to ever be released (despite it still being listed on Smith’s website as “to come”).

Otherwise, the main thing that connects these stories together (apart from the backdrop) are a few character cameos from earlier books, which are nice if you spot them, but not essential to understanding or enjoying each book’s individual plot. Like many contemporary series, the Night World books can be read in pretty much any order (I personally started with #9, Witchlight), though naturally the later books expect at least a very basic understanding of the world…

Overall, this is a really fun romance series, with some really great highs and only a few lows. There was only one book which I found myself actively disliking (#4, Dark Angel, which had a truly frustrating main character), and even that one improved a lot as it went on. The series as a whole is let down by the unfinished state of its overarching plot, but each of the currently-published books has enough substance to stand on its own.

Series I want to FINISH this year!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday theme was series I want to start this year, but since I’m hoping to do more finishing old things than starting new ones this year (one of my reading resolutions was even to finish some of the series that I’ve already started), I thought I’d share a couple of series that I hope to either finish or catch up on in 2015. So without further ado (& in no particular order):

Patrick Ness//The Knife of Never Letting Go1) The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

I read the first book in this trilogy (The Knife of Never Letting Go) over a year ago, and liked it so much that I actually wanted to move on to the second book straight away. Unfortunately, I was stuck on a train, and the only other book I had with me was another first-book-in-a-series, and by the time I got home I was really into that other series, so Chaos Walking got put on the sidelines for a little long while.

Tahereh Mafi//Shatter Me2) The Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi

I only bought this series recently, and was planning on marathoning it, but I got somewhat distracted by various other books (and Christmas!). I’ve only managed to read the first two books so far, but I’m enjoying them a lot.

L.J. Smith//Secret Vampire3) The Night World series by L.J. Smith

This is not the best-written series, by far, but I’ve found it a lot of fun. Since the books are only loosely connected and all follow different protagonists, it’s quite easy to just dip in and out of. I’ve already read books four to nine, but have yet to read the first three books (which is not the way I usually do things)…

Jennifer L. Armentrout//Obsidian4) The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I persuaded my cousin to start this series over the Christmas holiday, and her enthusiasm seems to have rekindled mine, so I’m hoping to get to this soon. The only books I have left to read are Opposition, the final book, and the spin-off novella Shadows.

Cassandra Clare//City of Bones5) The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

I read City of Bones a month or two ago, and was surprised by how much I liked it, since most of the things I’ve heard have been pretty mixed. That said, I’m not in a great hurry to finish the series (since there are five more books I need to read, and that’s quite a lot, even by my standards), but it’d definitely be nice to start off Cassandra Clare’s new Shadowhunter series as soon as it comes out without spoiling anything from her previous books…

September Book Haul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.]

Bout of Books 11 Readathon: Days 1-3

So I decided (pretty last-minute) to take part in the Bout of Books 11 readathon, which is taking place this week. Bout of Books is hosted at boutofbooks.blogspot.co.uk – there are all sorts of different challenges and giveaways to take part in, & it seems like a fun event. I was too late to sign up officially this time around, but it happens three times a year, so there’s that… If you’re interested in joining in, then you can find out all about it here.

Before I get to the actual updates, here’s the TBR list that I set myself for this week:

  1. Dark Angel and The Chosen by L.J. Smith (from Night World, Vol. 2)
  2. Lord Sunday by Garth Nix (the final book in the Keys to the Kingdom series)
  3. Elidor by Alan Garner
  4. Sabriel by Garth Nix (the first book in the Old Kingdom trilogy)
  5. Prince of Thorns (the first book in the Broken Empire trilogy)

DAY 1 (260 pages)

I got off to a pretty good by picking up Elidor first thing in the morning. 🙂 This is a pretty short book about four siblings (Nicholas, David, Helen & Roland) who accidentally stumble into another world called Elidor, and are roped into saving the world and fulfilling an ancient prophecy. It’s vaguely Narnia-esque in concept, but the majority of the story actually takes place in our world, and is largely concerned with stopping people from finding out about (& taking away) the four Treasures that the children brought back from Elidor with them, and there is much bickering involved. Character-wise, I liked the four siblings most of the time, especially Roland (from whose perspective the story is told), but I found their parents rather grating.

Overall, I thought this was a quick, charming read, and I gave it three stars, but I don’t think I’d read it again. The total page count for this book was 170 pages.

After Elidor, I picked up Night World Vol. 2, which I started reading several years ago, & I’ve been meaning to finish off for a while. The book is a bind-up of books 4-6 in the Night World series by L.J. Smith (who is probably best known as the author of the Vampire Diaries books).On Monday, I managed to get through the first 90 pages of Dark Angel (book 4), which is a story about a young girl called Gillian, who is brought back from the dead by an angel, who then proceeds to try to help her make all her dreams come true in rather sinister ways. This brought my total page count for day 1 up to 260 pages, which is not too shabby.

DAY 2 (0 pages)

On Tuesday, I (quite shamefully) read nothing. 😦

DAY 3 (763 pages)

My best reading day so far! First up, I finished off the last 78 pages of Dark Angel, which got much better towards the end, as Gillian (finally!) figured out that Angel wasn’t exactly as good a friend as she’d thought he was, & I ended up giving it three stars. After that, I moved on to the next book in the series, The Chosen, which I liked a lot better. This one is about a vampire hunter called Rashel (the Night World stories are only very loosely connected), who is trying to rescue/avenge several missing girls, and also fighting her attraction towards the vampire Quinn, who she thinks might be involved in their disappearance. It was a pretty fun read, & (in my humble opinion) one of the better Night World books, so I ended up giving it four stars. (Also, 173 pages long.)

Then I decided to deviate from my TBR a little, & I picked up Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits, because I’ve been waiting for this book to be available at my local library for the longest time! The continued adventures of Hawkeye (& his kind-of-sidekick, who is also called Hawkeye). It was really fun, & I love the way that David Aja draws Hawkeye. Plus, there was this really cool issue towards the end that was from the perspective of Hawkeye’s dog! It was amazing, & I gave it four stars. This book doesn’t have page numbers(!), but according to trusty goodreads, it’s 136 pages long.

Lastly, I picked up Lord Sunday, because this series is something I always read quite quickly, & I wanted to be able to start a fresh book on the train to London tomorrow. This is the seventh & final book in the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix, which I started back in school & have been reading sporadically ever since. It’s difficult at this point for me to really remember what happened in the first few books, but the basic concept is: A boy named Arthur is made the Rightful Heir to the House (which means he’s basically the king of a whole world that exists parallel to our own), and has to travel to the House in order to reclaim the seven Keys which will enable him to rule. But, of course, there are several Trustees who are holding onto the Keys, & they’re not exactly willing to just hand them over. Each of the books focuses on Arthur’s search for one specific Key, and also on the emotional journey he’s going on as he becomes more and more a part of the House, and less a part of our world.

It’s a really great series (though I still prefer the Old Kingdom trilogy to anything else Garth Nix has written), and I this book was definitely my favourite of them. It had an appropriately shocking twist towards the end, & wrapped up really nicely. A very satisfying finish. I gave it three stars, though it came pretty close to getting four. Lord Sunday was 376 pages, which brought my total page count for Wednesday to 763 pages!