Upcoming Releases: Summer 2019

As far as I’m concerned, most of 2019’s most exciting releases were stacked near the beginning of the year (not that I’ve had a chance to read many of them yet), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still things to look forward to! Most of these aren’t things I’ll be rushing to buy as soon as they come out, but here’s what I’ll be looking out for in June, July & August this year:

[All dates are taken from Amazon UK unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 31/5/2019.]

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (4th June)

A contemporary about a teenager called Emma who’s spending the summer reconnecting with her mother’s estranged family. I’m expecting self-discovery, a cute romance with childhood-friend Roo, and a heartwarming (or heartbreaking, or maybe even both) storyline… Contemporaries (and YA contemporaries in particular) have become less and less my thing over the last couple of years, but Sarah Dessen (almost) always manages to get to me, so I’m looking forward to reading this sometime this summer. 💕 Excitement level: 7/10

Blastaway by Melissa Landers (11th July)

A sci-fi adventure featuring an accidental runaway, a girl who blows up asteroids for a living, and trouble with space pirates! I was burned by Landers’ last sci-fi novel (Starfall, sequel to the amazing Starflight), so I’m feeling a little cautious about this one, but it sounds like a lot of fun regardless. Excitement level: 5/10

To Be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers (8th August)

A standalone novella from the author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet set in a future where humans have developed the technology to adjust their bodies to survive in deep space, and main character Ariadne is on a mission to investigate distant planets for signs of life… From the sounds of it, this is going to be a pretty introspective story, exploring the isolation of space travel, and, of course, space itself – all of which were things I loved about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. So I’m feeling pretty hopeful! 😊 Excitement level: 7/10

Honourable Mentions:

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Upcoming Releases: Spring 2017

At long last, winter is drawing to a close! Goodbye, sniffles! Goodbye, bitterly cold rain! Hello, slightly-warmer-but-no-less-wet rain! … 😛 But whatever the weather, there’s definitely looking to be some really great books coming up this spring. XD Here are a few of the ones I’m most excited for in March, April & May:

[All dates are taken from Amazon UK unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 25/02/2017.]

Andrzej Sapkowski//Lady of the LakeThe Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski (16th March)

The seventh and final book in the Witcher series, which follows the mutated monster-hunter, Geralt of Rivia, and is now being officially released in English. I probably won’t be picking this one up straight away – even though I’m really eager to see how this series will end – as I expect it will initially be released as a large-format paperback, & I’d rather get it when it’s available in standard size (to match the rest of my copies of this series), but I’ll have to wait and see if I’m able to hold out for what will likely end up being around a year… ^^’ Excitement level: 9/10

Laini Taylor//Strange the DreamerStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (28th March)

This is something of a wildcard for me, as I still haven’t read anything by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone has been sitting on my high-priority shelf for quite some time, but somehowI never seem to get round to actually picking it up), yet the more I learn about it, the more intrigued I become. It will be the first book in a new series, and from what I can tell, it seems to be a fantasy-mystery story featuring gods, heroes, and an Atlantis-style lost city – all things that appeal to me greatly! Excitement level: 7/10

Brian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 7Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan (4th April)

The latest volume in the epic space odyssey that is Saga – a story about two lovers from warring races, who are running from basically the entire universe in order to protect their daughter; the living evidence of a love that both their cultures find abominable. The story, the art (by Fiona Staples), and the characters in this series are all incredible, and it only seems to be getting better as it goes on. Highly recommended. 😀 Excitement level: 7/10

As a side-note, the deluxe edition of volumes 4 to 6, entitled Saga, Book 2, is also due to be released just a month afterwards (2nd May), and I will probably also be picking that up as a treat to myself. 😉 I already own volumes 4 & 5, but I love the way the deluxe editions are put together, and the concept art and author’s notes are a really nice extra. Excitement level: 8/10

Sarah J. Maas//A Court of Wings & RuinA Court of Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (2nd May)

The third book in the A Court of Thorns & Roses series, which follows a young woman called Feyre, who one day kills a faerie while she’s out hunting, and is forced to come and live in the Spring Court in order to atone. Little does she know, she’s actually there in hopes that – at long last – she will be the human who is able to break the curse that the High Lord and his entire Court are suffering from. The first book is primarily a Beauty & the Beast retelling, but with the release of A Court of Mist & Fury, the series has now moved drastically away from its source material… Recently, I’ve developed something of a love-hate relationship with Maas’ books, but I did really end up enjoying A Court of Mist & Fury, so I’m reasonably optimistic about this one, too – though still somewhat nervous. Excitement level: 7/10

October Haul

Once again, I managed to accumulate quite a lot of books in October – and most of them were new releases, which is unusual for me. There’ve just been so many books released recently that I really, really wanted to read… 😳 Hopefully my book-buying will slow down for a while after this, but for now, here’s my October haul:

October haul

1) Magnus Chase & the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. The first book in the new Norse mythology series, Magnus Chase & the Gods of Asgard. I’ve been excited for this book since I heard it was going to be a thing, and although I’m not really in the mood for more Percy & co. at the moment, I’ve heard really fantastic things from those who have already read it. 😀

2) Percy Jackson & the Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan. A book I put off buying because of my (now failed) book-buying ban… I was thinking of waiting for this to come out in paperback, simply because I don’t have all that much space left on my bookshelves, but eventually I decided I’d rather have it match my (hardback) copy of Percy Jackson & the Greek Gods

3) Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. The new illustrated edition! 😀 Need I say more?

4) The Princess & the Captain by Anne-Laure Bondoux. The only book in this batch that I bought on impulse, and don’t really know anything about. I believe it’s a pirate book, and since I found it second hand, it was super-cheap. I was mostly drawn to it because of the swashbuckling that I assume it contains. Who doesn’t love swashbuckling? Not me. 😛

5) The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. The second book in the Magisterium series, which I’ve been excited for since I read The Iron Trial this time last year. This one follows Cal and his friends in their second year of magical schooling, but I know little more about it than that.

6) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. A kind-of companion novel to Fangirl (the characters in this are the ones that Cath was writing fanfiction about in that book), in which Simon Snow returns for his last year at Watford School of Magicks, and is tasked with having to save the magical world. I’ve already read this one – you can read my review of it here.

7) Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta. The first book in the Lumatere Chronicles, a YA high fantasy series that I’ve heard really incredible (but vague) things about. I picked this up mostly as a pick-me-up on a particularly rubbish day, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet… 😦 Soon, hopefully.

8) Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan. The most recent instalment in this amazing space-odyssey graphic novel series, and (in my opinion) the best one yet. I will say no more, because spoilers.

9) Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. A second collection of short comics from Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant web-series. I’ve finished reading this one, too, and it may even be better than the first book (which is a difficult thing to achieve)… There was a little less history in this volume, though (or at least, less history that I didn’t understand), and a bit more literature, so that probably accounts for it. 🙂


And now, as a little extra, I have an additional mini-haul for you, since on Halloween morning, my cousin and I decided to drop in on the Cambridge Comic Art Festival at my local library. As per usual, I bought more than I probably should have (and most of it from the same artist’s stall), but I regret nothing. I’ve read all of these already, so if you’re curious about my thoughts, then you can take a look at my October wrap-up, and, when it’s up, my November one.

Cambridge Comic Art Festival haul

1) Adventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular by Hanna K. A short one-shot comic that follows Marceline from the Adventure Time cartoon series, and an adorable dog.

2) The Fabulous Adventures of a Gallant Gentleman by Emma Vieceli. Another one-shot comic, this one about an Antarctic explorer who wanders off in search of tea (as one does). A really, really fantastic read.

3) Dragon Heir Reborn, Volume 1 by Emma Vieceli. A high fantasy comic that follows a group of young men who carry inside them aspects of the dragon Spiratu’s soul.

4) The Avalon Chronicles, Volume 1: Once in a Blue Moon, & Volume 2: The Girl & the Unicorn by Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir. The first two books in a(nother) fantasy series, about a girl from our world who one day gets sucked into a book that her parents used to read to her as a child. The art in this one is also by Emma Vieceli, and it’s beautiful.

Finally, since I spent so much money at Emma Vieceli’s stall ( 😳 ), she also gave me a sampler of her new webcomic (with Malin Ryden), Breaks, for free. And it may only be a sampler, but it’s pretty high-quality, and I’m really liking what I’ve read of the story so far, so I’ll be hanging onto it. 🙂 If you’ve a mind, you can read the webcomic here – it’s a not-so-cute contemporary romance series.

October Wrap-Up

Another slightly slow reading month for me, though thankfully I feel like my reading slump is drawing to a close, helped along by some community reading events that I really enjoyed (the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon & the Library Scavenger Hunt, as well as a readalong with some of my friends). 🙂 I’m looking forward to the books I’m planning on reading in November, too – though I’m sure that NaNoWriMo (which I am attempting for the third time) will significantly cut into my reading time. ^^’ Anyway, in total this month, I managed to read 5 novels, 2 graphic novels, and 2 short/single-issue comics.

Kate Beaton//Step Aside, PopsStep Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton. The follow-up to Hark! A Vagrant, which collects several more hilarious comics from Beaton’s webcomic of the same name. Some of my favourites in this volume include: The Nancy Drew book cover interpretations, Liszt and Chopin, the Wuthering Heights parodies, and many, many others.4 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 5Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan. The latest instalment of the Saga series – an epic space odyssey comic that follows a couple from two warring races, on the run from both of their respective societies in order to protect themselves and their daughter. Obviously, since this is the fifth volume, I can’t say much about the plot, but this is probably the best volume yet. 😀5 starsRick Riordan//The Red PyramidThe Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. The first book in the Kane Chronicles series, which follows Sadie and Carter Kane on their journey to defeat the evil god Set, and hopefully rescue their father along the way (and get mixed up in a lot of Egyptian magical messes). It’s tempting to say that this book felt a bit like a less-good version of Percy Jackson, because at times it did, and it’s difficult to look at the two series separately when Riordan is constantly trying to push the idea that they’re not fiction… Speaking of which, this book is written as if it’s been transcribed from a recording, which I wouldn’t have minded, if we’d been allowed to forget it for more than a couple of pages at a time, but Sadie and Carter were constantly interrupting each other, which made the narrative kind of choppy. The characters were also a little lackluster, and while Sadie seemed to come into her own towards the end of the book, Carter remained a bit “meh” the whole way through. (This all sounds very negative, doesn’t it? I did like this book, but it was definitely trying too hard to replicate everything that made Percy Jackson so great, and feels a little forced as a result. It’s a little hard to go back to after reading the Heroes of Olympus books – where Riordan did away with most of the gimmicky stuff – but if you manage to get through the first part of the book, I wager you’ll enjoy the result.)3 starsRainbow Rowell//Carry OnSally Slater//PaladinAt this point, the Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon took over, for which I read two books: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and Paladin by Sally Slater (only the former of which was actually on my readathon TBR ^^’ ). I’ve written a mini-review for each of them, which you can read by clicking on their covers.5+ stars4 starsJoanne M. Harris//The Gospel of LokiThe Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. A re-telling of the legends of the Norse god Loki, as told by Loki himself, which was unfortunately not as good as I was hoping it would be (though, to be fair, my expectations were quite high). That said, I did enjoy it, and I have written a full review explaining my issues here. I read this book alongside Chloë from SSJTimeLord and Her Books and another (non-blogger) friend, and it was a really fun thing to do. More readalongs hopefully to come. 🙂3 starsPaul Dowswell//Sektion 20Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell. My Library Scavenger Hunt pick for October, which follows a teenager called Alex who lives in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I’ve written a mini-review of this book, which you can read here, if you’re interested, but – long story short – it’s not a book I’d recommend.2 starsHanna K//Adventure Time 2015 SpoooktacularAdventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular by Hanna K. A cute one-shot comic that follows Marceline and Schwabl, her adorable dog, as they explore the world that Marceline comes from. This apparently ties in to a new Marceline mini-series that’s going to be released soon, but even on its own (and even to someone like me who hasn’t read or watched much Adventure Time before), it’s a really great story, with some beautiful art.5 starsThe Fabulous Adventures of a Gallant Gentleman by Emma Vieceli. A short comic told mostly in pictures, about a man living (or possibly just camping) in the Antarctic, who sets out one day to find a cup of tea, and is helped along the way by penguins, seals, and a yeti! Another adorable read; it’s amazing to think that this whole thing was drawn in just a day! 😮5 stars

Creatures of the Night Book Tag

This tag was originally created by Katytastic, and I wasn’t tagged to do it, but I thought it looked fun anyway – and since it’s Halloween, now feel like the perfect time to be celebrating some of my favourite supernatural creatures~ 😀 For those who don’t know, for this tag I’ll be picking (one of) my favourite books that feature each different type of creature (though I won’t always be telling you which character is the creature in question, for spoilery reasons). Enjoy!

[I tag: Chloë from SSJTimeLord and Her Books, and Panda from Panda’s Books.]

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On1) Vampire – Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

A new favourite book of mine, which I am now taking every opportunity to mention. There are a few vampires that appear in this book, but the most important of them is Baz, the main character’s roommate, who is constantly (unconvincingly) denying what he is, since acknowledging it will probably result in him getting expelled.

Maggie Stiefvater//Shiver2) Werewolf – The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater.

Probably the best werewolf series I’ve ever read (though I know a lot of people have problems with it ’cause it’s a bit insta-love-y), featuring an unusual twist on werewolf lore, where they actually transform because of the temperature, rather than the phases of the moon. Sam is the most adorable (and least spoilery) werewolf in the cast, but there are plenty more great ones that are introduced later on, too!

Peach-Pit//Zombie-Loan3) Zombie – Zombie-Loan by Peach-Pit.

The main character in this bizarre manga series has the unusual ability to see how close people are to dying when she looks at them without her glasses on – there will be a line around their neck, which gets darker and darker as they get closer to death… And one day she catches a glimpse of two of her schoolmates, and realises that they’re already dead. 😮 Thankfully for me (I’m really not a zombie fan, generally), the zombies in this series aren’t the traditional sort. But they still count!

Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada//Ghost Hunt vol. 14) Ghost – Ghost Hunt by Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada.

You can probably tell from the name that this series is about hunting ghosts, and it can be pretty chilling in places. Definitely a ghost story done right. There’s one less antagonistic ghost who shows up on a fairly regular basis, however, who’s one of my favourite characters in the series (and whose identity I will definitely not be revealing here, because spoilers).

Sally Green//Half Bad5) Witch – The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green.

This series is all about a hidden magical society that’s split between “good” White Witches and “bad” Black Witches, who almost never mix except in order to hunt each other. Interestingly, though, the main character Nathan, is half White Witch and half Black Witch, and therefore distrusted by both communities. The characters in this are all really great, but one of my favourite things about the series is its world-building.

Jodi Lynn Anderson//Tiger Lily6) Fairy – Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

I debated choosing the Throne of Glass series for this one, as I haven’t read many fairy books, but then I remembered Peter Pan and his tiny companion Tinker Bell! And although I’ve read the original book, I thought I’d mention Tiger Lily here, as it’s fantastic, and Anderson’s portrayal of Tink is one of the best things about the book. Tinker Bell is the narrator of this re-telling, and it’s really fascinating to see how being a fairy effects her outlook on the events of the story.

Sally Slater//Paladin7) Demon – Paladin by Sally Slater.

A book I only discovered recently, but which was surprisingly enjoyable. The main character in this book is training to be a Paladin – a warrior trained to fight demons. There’s also another character introduced early on in the book whose half-demon lineage plays a huge part in the story.

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork Angel8) Angel – The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

Most of the characters in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter books are part-angel, and there are even a couple of full-angels that pop up here and there in the series. The Infernal Devices trilogy, though, is my favourite of the lot. 🙂

Brian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 59) Alien – Saga by Brian K. Vaughan.

Saga is an epic space odyssey in graphic novel form, and (since it’s set in another galaxy) pretty much every character in it counts as an alien to us. The reason I’m picking it here, however, is because of the diversity of its cast: There are an astounding number of different species that have shown up over the course of the series so far (and we’re still only five volumes in!). And also because it’s great. Really, really great.

Ransom Riggs//Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children10) Super-powered human – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

I haven’t read a huge number of super-power books (or, at least, not ones that don’t qualify their super-powers as some kind of magic), but one interesting one is the Miss Peregrine’s series, which has a cast of “Peculiars” – humans with strange powers such as floating, controlling fire, and so on. At one point we even meet a girl with a huge hole trough her abdomen… 😕

February Haul

SO TALL! (You should be able to see the titles if you click on the image to zoom in...)

SO TALL! (You should be able to see the titles if you click on the image to zoom in…)

Something else that I should’ve posted a while ago… :/ And as you can see from the lovely picture to your left, this post is certainly not late because I didn’t buy enough books to merit a haul post. Rather, it’s late because I’ve had to take a significant amount of time to recover from the shame of having bought so many (& most of them are comics, too, which are expensive). 😦 The reason for my sudden splurge? Chloë came to visit towards the end of the month, and when I am with other bookish people, I tend to go to lots of bookish places, and buy books. (Self-control? What is this “self-control” you speak of?)

But anyway, here’s what I bought:

1) Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. All I know about this is that it’s non-fiction (probably), which I’ve been wanting to read more of, and it was super-cheap, so I thought I’d give it a try.

2) Great Tales from English History by Robert Lacey. Another non-fiction book (obviously), which I bought as part of the same deal. My historical knowledge is sorely lacking, so hopefully this will teach me a few things…

3) Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. I don’t even know what this is, but I couldn’t resist…

4) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. A re-telling of Homer’s Iliad, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. I have heard super-good things about it, and I am a Classicist… 😀

5) No Life but This by Anna Sheehan. A sci-fi (possibly romance?) novel that I found at the second-hand book stall at the market. Of course, only after buying it did I discover that it’s a sequel, but both books sound interesting, so I’ll have to track down the first book (A Long, Long Sleep) soon…

6) Sasameke, Volume 2 by Ryuji Gotsubo. This is actually a bind-up of the last half of the Sasameke series, which is a sports manga about a boy who was really, really good at football, then went away to play abroad for a year, and came back having given up the sport completely. It’s been a while since I read the first volume, so it probably merits a re-read, but I remember enjoying it a lot, & I’m looking forward to finishing off the series.

7) Little Red Riding Hood & Other Stories by Charles Perrault. A beautifully-illustrated edition of several classic fairytales, including Little Red Riding Hood (naturally), CinderellaBluebeard and Puss in Boots.

8) Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. A sequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, which I don’t know all that much about, plot-wise, though I’ve been aware of it for a while…

9) The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips. A comedy set in Arthurian times, about the Knights of the Round Table. Again, I don’t really know anything else about it.

10) Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake by Natasha Allegri. A gender-swapped Adventure Time graphic novel, which I have already read and loved, so you can read about it in my February Wrap-Up.

11) Various DC New 52 comics, including: Volumes 2 & 3 of Teen Titans by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Scott Snyder & Tom DeFalco; Volume 3 of Red Hood & the Outlaws by Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza & Scott Snyder; Volumes 2 & 3 of Nightwing by Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder & Tom DeFalco; Volumes 2 & 3 of Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi & Scott Snyder; Volumes 2 & 3 of Batman by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV; Batman: Night of the Owls by Scott Snyder, Kyle Higgins, Tony S. Daniel, Scott Lobdell, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Gail Simone, Duane Swierczynski, Peter J. Tomasi, James Tynion IV & Judd Winick; and The Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder, John Layman, Ann Nocenti, Adam Glass, James Tynion IV, Gail Simone, Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Kyle Higgins, Tom DeFalco & Peter J. Tomasi. This impressive number of comics takes all the series on my buy-list through the Night of the Owls and Death of the Family storylines, and up to volume 3.

12) Saga, Volumes 1-4 by Brian K. Vaughan. The first three volumes I got in a massive bind-up, which is that blue book labelled “Book 1”, and Volume 4 individually (because I couldn’t bring myself to wait another 3 years or so for the next deluxe edition). Again, I’ve already read this, & I talked about it in my wrap-up, but to sum it up, it’s a sci-fi series about forbidden love in wartime.

13) Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan. A graphic novel about a pride of lions that escape from Baghdad Zoo, which, again, I’ve talked about already in my wrap-up.

14) The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. A collection of folk-tales set in “Early Earth”, a place that apparently existed before actual Earth. And, once again, I’ve already read this, & I’ll tell you about it in my March wrap-up, so there’s (thankfully, since my fingers are getting tired now) no need to say any more about it here.

February Wrap Up

February (particularly the latter half of it) turned out to be the month of the graphic novel. And I certainly read some excellent ones: the Saga series, Pride of Baghdad, and so on… In total, I ended up reading ten novels, one novella, and nine comic books, which is pretty good going for the shortest month of the year!

Patrick Ness//The Crane WifeThe Crane Wife by Patrick Ness. The story of a man called George, who saves the life of a crane, and then meets and falls in love with a mysterious woman called Kumiko. Also featuring prominently are George’s daughter Amanda, her co-worker Rachel, and a Japanese folk-tale about a crane and a volcano. A very emotional story, all about love and loss and forgiveness. As always, Patrick Ness’ writing is beautiful, and his characters very real, and the way that he spun the folk-tale into their lives was masterful.5 starsElizabeth Gaskell//North & SouthNorth & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. A classic romance set during the Victorian era, between the daughter of a parson fallen on hard times, and the master of a cotton mill. I absolutely loved this book – it kept me awake for a couple of nights, just wanting to keep on reading – and I’ve written a full review of it here.5+ starsGeorge Orwell//Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell. The story of a group of farm animals that overthrow their human masters and decide to run the farm themselves. As with 1984, which I read last year, I had mixed feelings over this novel. On the one hand, it is very interesting, and provides an excellent commentary on socialism and corruption; but on the other had, hardly any of the characters are developed in such a way as to encourage any kind of emotional attachment to the author – in fact, many of the prominent characters in the book are utterly unlikeable (the only notable exception is Boxer). That said, I enjoyed Animal Farm more than I did 19843 stars

20488847Master of the Mill by Cate Toward. A re-imagining of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South, where Margaret’s mother passed away before the family moved to Milton. I thought that it had an interesting (and for the most part, quite well-executed) premise, but unfortunately none of the characters really rang true, and I was particularly frustrated by the characterisation of Mr. Lennox, who I feel was unjustly portrayed as the book’s villain, when (even though he was my least favourite character) his only real crime in North & South was loving a girl who did not love him back.2 starsTrudy Brasure//In ConsequenceIn Consequence by Trudy Brasure. Another retelling of North & South, this time speculating on how the story might have progressed had it been Thornton who was injured during the riot, rather than Margaret. I found this one much more realistic than Master of the Mill, and also more in keeping with the characters as they were portrayed in the original novel. It was also very nice to see how Margaret and Thornton might interact in a happy relationship, since in North & South we only got a glimpse towards the very end. The story did seem to be mostly fluff, however, and while that made me smile a lot, at times it became a little too cheesy…3 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 1Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan (& illustrated by Fiona Staples). A sci-fi adventure following a married couple who belong to warring species, and are being hunted across the galaxy (and maybe beyond?) for their crime of loving one another. The story is narrated by their infant daughter (or rather by her older self), which gives an interesting perspective. But overall (though this is obviously just the beginning of the story), the characters are awesome, the story is fast-paced and exciting, and the art is gorgeous. I’m definitely excited to read more. 😀5 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 2Saga, Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan. The second volume, which is also amazing. I’m a little worried about how quickly I’m getting through this series, since I know there’ll be a long wait before volume 5 is released… Also, I am becoming unexpectedly fond of both Prince Robot IV and The Will, despite the fact that they’re both hunting Alana and Marko.5 starsTrudy Brasure//A Heart for MiltonA Heart for Milton by Trudy Brasure. This is not a retelling, but a sequel to North & South (which I am still obsessed with), and has much the same tone as Brasure’s other book, In Consequence. I think that perhaps I would’ve liked this better if I’d read it before I read In Consequence, because, to be honest, the story felt incredibly samey. I actually ended up liking this a little less (though there’s not much in it, really), partly because of that similarity, but mostly because there was no real conflict in the story, to break up the fluff… :/ 2 starsChrissie Elmore//Unmapped CountryUnmapped Country by Chrissie Elmore. Probably the last fan-written North & South book I’ll be reading for a while, since I’m starting to feel ready to move on… This one is an almost-sequel, set after the events of North & South, but dismissing Gaskell’s ending to the book, where Margaret and Mr. Thornton finally resolve their differences. I found it a bit of a struggle to get through at first, since much of the story seemed to be focused on new characters, when all I really wanted to read about was Margaret and Thornton, but once I got into it, I found it very enjoyable. Of all the North & South spin-off works I’ve read, this is probably the closest to Gaskell’s novel in tone and content – my only real problem with it was that (much like North & South itself) we saw very little of Margaret and Thornton as a couple, having moved on from all the misunderstandings of the original book, which kind of defeats the purpose of looking for a continuation in the first place…4 starsBenjamin Alire Sáenz//Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. An introspective novel about two very different boys who form an unexpected friendship. I’d been meaning to pick this up for a while, but it seems that the last little push I needed was the Little Book Club – this was the January & February pick for the LGBTQ+ theme – and I am so glad that I have finally read it, because it was amazing! I loved Ari, and I loved Dante, and their parents were really fantastic (which is incredibly rare in YA fiction). I would definitely recommend this book to basically anyone. 😀4 stars

6250211Fire by Kristin Cashore. This is the second book in the Graceling Realm trilogy, and is my first re-read of the year! The story is set in what appears to be some kind of pocket-universe that can be accessed through a series of tunnels within the Graceling universe, so it’s only really peripherally connected to the other two books in the series, but it’s probably my favourite of the three. It follows a girl named Fire, who is a “human monster”, a creature that looks (and for the most part, acts) like a human, but is incredibly beautiful, with unnaturally brightly coloured hair and the power to sense and control people’s minds. Fire is a very passive heroine (though she’s definitely not a weak lead), which I appreciate, so instead of charging off into important battles, much of the book is spent exploring the Dells, and dealing with her emotional issues. Major themes in this book are guilt, love (romantic and platonic), forgiveness, and so on, and the whole series would definitely be a great read for any fantasy lover.5 stars

Philip Pullman//Once Upon a Time in the NorthOnce Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman. A prequel-of-sorts to the His Dark Materials trilogy, detailing the first meeting of two of my favourite characters from the series: Lee Scoresby the aeronaut and Iorek Byrnison the armoured bear. It’s a short story, but very enjoyable, and it was a lot of fun to read about these characters again, and to be back in the His Dark Materials universe, which I seem to have missed more than I’d realised.4 starsDavid Almond//The True Tale of the Monster Billy DeanThe True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond. The story of a young boy who was raised in a locked room and not let out until he was a teenager, at which point he was perceived as some kind of saint because of his naïvety… It’s an odd story, and there are a lot of religious themes, which is unusual in YA literature. I found myself enjoying it quite a bit once I got into it, but it was very difficult to get into, mostly because it’s written phonetically. The almost post-apocalyptic setting was interesting, as were most of the characters, and the whole book had quite a creepy vibe to it.3 starsJudd Winick//Batwing vol. 2Batwing Vol. 2: In the Shadow of the Ancients by Judd Winick. Rather more episodic than I remember the first volume being, which I thought was not entirely to the book’s benefit. That said, I enjoyed the end of the Massacre storyline, the Night of the Owls and Zero Month tie-in issues were both good, and Dustin Nguyen and Marcus To’s artwork was striking (though not quite so striking as Ben Oliver’s in Volume 1).3 starsFabian Nicieza//Batwing vol. 3Batwing Vol. 3: Enemy of the State by Fabian Nicieza & Judd Winick. Batwing investigates a cult led by a brainwasher called Father Lost, then faces a billionaire industrialist who’s been bribing the police. Again, not quite so good as Volume 1, but a definite improvement on Volume 2. I enjoyed the backstory between David and Rachel, and the building tensions within the police department in the second story arc were interesting, too. With Batwing, at least, I think I tend to prefer the comics where there’s not too much involvement with of the rest of the DC Universe, so this book was right up my alley. 🙂4 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 3Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan. And the third volume, which was also awesome! So far I’m definitely impressed by how Vaughan has managed to show the sympathetic sides of all the characters in the story, even the ones who are technically the series’ villains… Also in this volume: Marko’s beard, which was kind of hilarious. 🙂5 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Pride of BaghdadPride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan. A standalone graphic novel about a pride of lions that escaped from Baghdad Zoo during a bomb raid. I don’t have all that many coherent thoughts about the story – it was so good that it seems to have short-circuited my brain – but all the characters were well rounded without seeming too human, and the story was incredibly moving. Niko Henrichon’s art was beautiful, as well.5 starsNatasha Allegri//Adventure Time with Fionna & CakeAdventure Time with Fionna & Cake by Natasha Allegri. Fionna and Cake save the Fire Prince from the Ice Queen! I haven’t actually seen much of the Adventure Time cartoon,  but I’m a huge fan of the Fionna & Cake episodes, so I thought I might enjoy this – and I did! The story is both fun and oddly touching in places, and the artwork is very cute. There are three short stories in the back, too (by Noelle Stevenson, Kate Leth and Lucy Knisley), which were all very funny.5 starsBrian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 4Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan. The adventure continues! Now featuring Hazel as a toddler, and marital trouble for Marko and Alana (amongst other things). Alana’s new job is kind of hilarious, and I have high hopes for Marko and Prince Robot IV’s team-up. The only real flaw of this volume is that I’ve now finished it, and it’ll be another year or so before I can get my hands on volume 5… 😥5 starsMarkus Sedgwick//Dark Satanic MillsDark Satanic Mills by Marcus Sedgwick. A dystopian comic inspired by William Blake’s poem Jerusalem, set in a future where a fanatical religious cult called the True Church is on the verge of taking control of England after manufacturing a “miracle” in order to convert huge numbers of people. The book had an interesting premise, as a religious-dystopian, but in execution I thought it was too simplistic. I wasn’t a huge fan of the artwork, either, though I think it might’ve been improved if it had been done in colour.2 stars