August Wrap-Up

All hail the conqueror of books! And I managed to pick out such good ones last month! I mean, there were a couple of duds, because there always are, but for the most part, I really enjoyed what I read in August. 😀 In total: 8 novels, and 1 play (and I’m sure none of you can guess what that last one might be, right? 😉 ). I also managed to complete my Goodreads challenge of 60 books! I’ve increased it to 100 now, and the widget is (worryingly) telling me that I’m now a few books behind, but I’m hoping to catch up soon. 🙂

A.M. Dellamonica//Child of a Hidden SeaChild of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica. The first book in the Hidden Sea Tales series, which follows a marine biologist and videographer called Sophie, who, while searching for information about her biological parents, finds herself flung into Stormwrack – another world, filled with magic, oceans and swashbuckling adventures. This book was a huge amount of fun, and really refreshing to read; I haven’t read any world-hopping fantasies in quite a while, and I don’t think I even know of any that aren’t targeted at children. The plot was both gripping and complex, involving all kinds of mysteries and politics, and I really love the world that Dellamonica has created, as well; I hope that it will be explored further as the series goes on. At times, the story did feel a little rushed, and some of the supporting characters weren’t very well fleshed-out (most notably, Parrish, Sophie’s love interest, who barely seemed to interact with her except for plot-related reasons), but these are my only real complaints.4 starsHuntley Fitzpatrick//The Boy Most Likely ToThe Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick. The sequel/companion to My Life Next Door, which follows Jase’s sister Alice, and his and Sam’s friend Tim. I was initially going to give this book four stars, pretty much wholly because I went into it thinking that even if it was goo, it couldn’t possibly match up to My Life Next Door – I had never felt that much of a connection with Alice, and it seemed to me that Tim’s flirting with her in the first book was more obligatory than anything else. But you know what? This relationship really worked, and this book ended up being amazing. It’s certainly less dramatic than My Life Next Door, and there’s much less focus on romance, but I really loved the way both Tim and Alice’s characters developed, and Cal was adorable. ❤ I really hope that Huntley Fitzpatrick will write more in this series (a book for Joel, maybe? Or Nan? 😛 ).5 stars

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Cursed ChildHarry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany. The script of the new Harry Potter play, which needs no description (and will get none, since basically anything I could say about the plot of this would be a spoiler)! I wasn’t sure what I’d think of this, as I’ve never been a huge fan of reading plays, and the comments I’ve seen about it so far have been pretty mixed, but I loved it! Albus and Scorpius (but mostly Scorpius) were wonderful, I loved the slowly-changing relationship between Harry and Draco, and I might even have been (marginally) reconciled towards the Harry/Ginny relationship (which I’ve never been a fan of). The plot was also intriguing, though I was able to guess the identity of the main villain fairly early on, and there was even a scene towards the end of the book with Dumbledore’s portrait that managed to make me tear up… 😥 I can’t wait to see this on stage!5 stars

Carrie Hope Fletcher//On the Other SideOn the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. A cute story about an old woman who, after her death, has to let go of all her secrets before she can enter Heaven, and so she pays a series of ghostly visits to some of the people she’s left behind, all the while recalling the love of her life, whom she hasn’t seen in decades. I really, really wanted to love this book, but while it was cute, it was also problematic in a number of ways: The characters were all seriously under-developed, and as much as we were told about them, we never really get to know them for ourselves; the main character, Evie, felt a lot like a self-insert – an idealised version of the author – and after the first few times, it got really tiring hearing about how wonderful everyone thought she was. The conflicts she faced seemed incredibly contrived, as well: Granted, I was never really able to place this book in terms of time periods, but the amount of control Evie’s mother had over her beggared belief (she’s 27! And doesn’t even live at home!), and on a related note, Evie’s reason for breaking up with Vincent was utterly unconvincing. (Also, it was obviously supposed to come across as noble and self-sacrificing, but it pretty much made everyone miserable. In particular, I felt sorry for Jim, who was never given a chance to move on from a girl who would always be in love with someone else.) The descriptions of Heaven’s “waiting room” were kind of interesting, there were a couple of characters that I liked, and as I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I found the relationship between Evie and Vincent really cute (especially at the beginning), but it’s a shame that the best thing about this book is really the song that Carrie Fletcher wrote about it.2 stars

Philip Reeve//RailheadRailhead by Philip Reeve. In interstellar adventure featuring trains that travel between planets, robots developing their own personalities, and an epic heist that could decide the future of the galaxy. I loved this book so much! The characters were brilliant, the plot thrilling, the world super-imaginative, and the writing beautiful – it blew way past all the expectations I had for it! I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can read here. 🙂 5 stars

Karen McCombie//The Year of Big DreamsThe Year of Big Dreams by Karen McCombie. The story of a teenager called Flo, whose mother is taking part in a huge, X-Factor-style reality TV show. I wasn’t blown away by this, but it was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for August, so I’ve written a mini-review here which explains why.2 starsLeigh Bardugo//Six of CrowsSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. A fantastic fantasy novel, set in the same world as Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, but following an entirely new cast – a crew of thieves who come together in hopes of pulling off a seemingly-impossible heist: retrieving a dangerous prisoner from the super-secure Ice Court. I enjoyed Bardugo’s previous books, but have always felt rather underwhelmed by their endings, so I was a bit nervous about starting this series, but I was absolutely worried for no reason – I loved this book! The plot was brilliant, and kept me guessing from start to finish; the characters were all wonderful; and I shipped the two main romances so much! I was a little sad that there were no chapters from Wylan’s perspective, but it was definitely a narrative choice that made sense, and hopefully he’ll get a few chapters in the sequel… which I can’t wait for (if that wasn’t already obvious)!5+ starsKiersten White//And I DarkenAnd I Darken by Kiersten White. The first book in The Conquerors Saga, which is a novelisation of the life of Vlad the Impaler and his younger brother Radu, growing up as hostages in the Ottoman Empire, and their friendship with Mehmed, the son of their captor – but with an interesting twist: Vlad is not Vlad, but Lada, princess of Wallachia. I wasn’t expecting too much going into this book, as – despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews I’d heard – I don’t always get on with very dark books, particularly when the main protagonist also has a very dark mindset. And, yes, this book was dark, and twisted, and Lada was frequently terrifying. It was also wonderful. Apart from being set in a really interesting time period, and featuring a fascinating set of characters, And I Darken was amazingly well-written, with a brilliant plot (inspired by real events, rather than retelling them), and left me desperate for more. Radu is my ultimate favourite, but Mehmed was super-cute as well (even though it feels really weird to be saying that about an actual historical figure), and even Lada grew on me after the first few chapters. This was also another shippy book for me, but the romance wasn’t a dominating part of the story.5 starsKresley Cole//Poison PrincessPoison Princess by Kresley Cole. The first Arcana Chronicles novel, set in the US in the aftermath of a terrible disaster called the Flash, which scorched the earth, killing millions, and making food and water scarce for the survivors. The main character, Evie, is struggling to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, while also coming to terms with the strange abilities that she and a group known as the Arcana all possess – and, of course, dealing with her confusing and unwelcome feelings towards a boy she almost hated back when they were just normal teenagers. I wouldn’t say that this was great literature, but it was really fun to read, especially as the story went on. It took me a while to warm up to the setting (going into this, I thought it was going to be a paranormal romance; clearly I did not read the blurb, or even glance at it. ^^’ ), and to Evie and Jack, who had the same kind of strange, unhealthy, obsessive relationship that seems so popular in “bad boy” romances, and most of the first half of the book was utterly forgettable… but it still managed to hook me. I will definitely be reading more of this series. 😉4 stars

Upcoming Releases: Autumn 2016

Autumn looks like it’s shaping up to be an exciting season for books (October especially!); there are so many things coming out soon that I couldn’t even fit them all on this list! But after much agonising, here are the books I’m most excited to see in September, October & November!

[NB: All dates are taken from Amazon UK unless stated otherwise, and are correct as of 28/08/2016.]

Sarah J. Maas//Empire of StormsEmpire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (6th September)

The next book in the Throne of Glass series, which has been getting more and more exciting as it’s gone on. I wasn’t hugely thrilled with Queen of Shadows in terms of character development, but the plot was really great, so I still have high hopes. 🙂

Leigh Bardugo//Crooked KingdomCrooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (27th September)

I finished reading Six of Crows just a few days ago (as I’ve been telling you all incessantly), so it’s a stroke of luck that the sequel’s coming out so soon! I am more excited to read this than I’ve been for any book in a long time, so I’ll probably be reading it pretty promptly, too! My hopes for it: I’d really like some chapters from Wylan’s perspective, and maybe a little more of Jesper, too; they were the characters that I felt got the least development in Six of Crows (though, naturally, I still want to see loads of Kaz, Inej, Nina and Matthias! 😉 ).

Garth Nix//GoldenhandGoldenhand by Garth Nix (4th October)

To be honest, I know nothing about this book except that it’s a new Old Kingdom story. And I still haven’t even read Clariel (the book that comes before it, and which I’ve had on my shelf since it was released two whole years ago. But I want it anyway, and I’m sure it’s going to be brilliant – Garth Nix’s books always are. XD

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (4th October)

The illustrated edition, because it’s that time of year again! 😀 Re-reading Philosopher’s Stone last year was such a wonderful experience, and Jim Kay’s art was beautiful, so of course I’m excited to see what’s he’s done with Chamber of Secrets.

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//GeminaGemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (20th October)

Another book that I’m expecting to be beautiful. And heart-wrenching. And generally amazing. Illuminae was one of my favourite books from last year, and I really hope that this sequel will live up to it… I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!

Honourable mentions, cut because I’m not yet up to date on either of these two series… and because this post was in danger of becoming far too long even without them: Magnus Chase & the Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan (4th October) and The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch (22nd September).