Thematic Recs: Dragons!

Once again, I’ve been pretty caught up with playing Dragon Age for the last couple of days, and of course I’ve now got dragons on the brain. So I decided to put together a collection of some of my favourite literary dragons! 😀 But first, a quote:

Finn: I’ve never met a dragon worshipper before. Not much for small talk, are they?
Ariane: Why would anyone worship a dragon?
Finn: Dragons are big, powerful, and they breathe fire! … Some people are easily impressed.
~Dragon Age: Origins (Witch Hunt DLC)

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit1) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, signs on with a company of dwarves who are determined to reclaim their homeland from what is quite possibly the ultimate literary dragon – Smaug! I love this book so much, and Smaug is such an amazing villain; there was no way I wasn’t going to add this to the list! 😉

Naomi Novik//Temeraire2) The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. A fascinating re-imagining of the Napoleonic Wars, but with the addition of an Aerial Corps, made up of talking dragons, and their captains. The two main characters are Will Laurence, a captain in the Navy, and Temeraire, a baby dragon who imprints on him.

Julie Kagawa//Talon3) The Talon series by Julie Kagawa. Another series with an interesting concept: Set in a world where dragons are not so imaginary as people assume, but instead learned to shape-shift in order to blend in with humans. Ember, a young dragon, is sent to live undercover in a human town, and there she meets Garret, who is a member of the Order of St. George – an organisation that exists to hunt dragons.

Tamora Pierce//Wild Magic4) The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce. The main character in this excellent fantasy series (which is set in the Tortall universe) is a wild mage – someone who has a magical ability that lets her communicate with animals, amongst other things – and she uses this ability in order to fight against an invasion of Immortals – creatures that have long been thought to be extinct, or even mythical. Towards the end of the first book in the series, one of the Immortals she encounters is a dragon, who charges Daine with taking care of her baby, the dragonet Skysong.

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August & September Haul

I didn’t post a book haul in August, not because I suddenly developed a modicum of self-control, but for the exact opposite reason: I bought so many books that I couldn’t bring myself to look at them all together and not feel a bit embarrassed. 😳 I am comforted, however, by the fact that I’ve already read almost all of these, so that’s something…

Anyway, I bought most of these in the lead-up to the Booktubeathon, after which I put myself on a strict book-buying ban – which I managed to keep to (mostly), even if I’ve taken myself off it now. 🙂 Here’s what I bought:

August & September Haul1) My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrik Backman. I’d had my eye on this for a while, but what made me finally decide to buy it is the fact that it’s signed! I don’t really know what it’s about, except grandmothers, and possibly also superheroes.

2) Loveless, Volumes 11-12 by Yun Kouga. The latest two volumes in the Loveless series, which is about magic and murder and catboys, and is a lot of fun, though a little on the weird side. Fun fact: I read these not long after I bought them, and (somehow) only realised afterwards that I still haven’t read volume 9 or 10. 😳

3) Vampire Knight, Volume 11 by Matsuri Hino. The next volume I needed to read in the Vampire Knight series, which follows a girl whose duty is to keep the peace between the human and vampire students at her school.

4) Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater. The sequel to the Wolves of Mercy Falls books, which I read a couple of years ago and loved. I wanted to read this as soon as I realised it was going to be a thing, but I’ve been waiting for it to be released in paperback…

5) Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novik. The fifth book in the Temeraire series, which I mainly picked up because I spotted it in the edition that I’ve been trying to collect. The books have all been re-released recently with new covers, so it’s getting increasingly difficult to find these editions…

6) Bunny Drop, Volumes 1-2 by Yumi Unita. The beginning of the Bunny Drop series, which I finally decided to read after about the third time watching the anime. A really cute story about a man who ends up raising his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter.

7) Fables, the Deluxe Edition: Book 1 by Bill Willingham. I bought book 2 of this series sometime this summer, so I picked this up when I was in London, since it was on special offer, and I wanted to – if not complete, then at least fill in the gap in my collection.

8) Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton. A collection of hilarious short comics from the webcomic of the same name. I bought this, and the next 3 books, using the Booktubeathon 100 books discount.

9) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. A cute graphic novel about a supervillain and his sidekick, Nimona. I’d been on the fence about buying this for a while, but I’m really glad that I did!

10) In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang. Another cute graphic novel about a girl who plays MMORPGs.

11) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. A collection of short horror stories in graphic novel format. Truly chilling – I will probably be re-reading this when Halloween rolls around. 🙂

12) Adventure Time Volume 1 by Ryan North. I picked this up at Oxfam since I enjoyed the Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake comic so much, but I will probably be library-ing the rest of the series… Still, a fun read, if you’re a fan of the Adventure Time cartoons.

13) The Princess & the Pony by Kate Beaton. I saw this on buy-one-get-one-half-price at Waterstones, and I couldn’t pass it up, even though I don’t usually read picture books. The tale of a warrior princess and her flatulent pony – by the same author as Hark! A Vagrant!

14) Night Owls by Jenn Bennett. A contemporary romance that I picked up on a whim, as the other half of that buy-one-get-one-half-price offer I just mentioned. And I’m super-glad that I did. This is probably one of my favourite books of the year so far. 😀 (Also called, in some places The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.)

15) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, which I picked up on release day because I’ve been so excited to read it for such a long time. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it was still pretty good! And now, of course, I just need to read book five~ 😉

16) Amulet Volumes 1-3 by Kazu Kibuishi. A graphic novel series about a brother and sister who find a doorway to another world in their house. I’d heard a lot of good things about this series, so when the first three volumes showed up at Oxfam, it didn’t take much to convince me to buy them…

17) A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar. Another one from Oxfam, though this one I’ve heard absolutely nothing about. It appears to be a fantasy novel, though, and sounds really, really intriguing. I hope to be reading this very soon.

The Extraordinary Means Book Tag

This tag was created by Robyn Schneider (author of Extraordinary Means, hence the name~ 😉 ), and I was tagged to do this by Panda from Panda’s Books. As for who I’m going to tag: Chloë-chu, I choose you! 😀

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit1) I would give up the internet for a month for a signed first edition of this book.

The Hobbit, or any of the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R.Tolkien. Or else a Jane Austen book – ideally, Pride & Prejudice or Emma.

Philip Pullman//Northern Lights2) I would give up pizza for a year if it meant I could sit next to this author on a long plane ride.

I would probably be incredibly socially awkward the whole time, but I feel like Philip Pullman (author of His Dark Materials) would have a whole load of interesting things to say.

Naomi Novik//Temeraire3) I would sit through a thousand hours of commercials if it would ensure Hollywood made this book into a movie.

Lots of books to choose from here, but I think that the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik would make excellent films. They’re set during the Napoleonic wars, but with an Aerial Corps made up of dragons and their bonded Captains.

Hidenori Kusaka//Pokémon Adventures vol. 14) I would never read a new book again if it meant I could live inside this book.

Pokémon! That counts as a book-world, right? There’s a manga (by Hidenori Kusaka) and everything! 😛

Tamora Pierce//Alanna: The First Adventure5) I would let my Google search history be made public if it meant I could be best friends with this author.

I would really love to be friends with Tamora Pierce (author of The Song of the Lioness) or Maggie Stiefvater (who wrote The Raven Cycle), but not quite enough to let my Google search history be made public. 😳 I’m sure there’s some super-embarrassing things on there that I wouldn’t want my parents seeing (and, let’s be honest, they’re the only people who’re likely to be interested in reading it)!

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork Prince6) I would donate everything I own to Goodwill if it meant I could date this book character in real life.

Most of my favourite characters aren’t ones I’d really want to date in real life, but, in the interest of actually-having-an-answer, I’ll say Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare – he’s just such a sweetheart! ❤

2014 in Review: Some Superficial Favourites

Just to end things on a more positive note than my last post, I thought I’d finish off my “2014 in Review” series by showing you some of the prettiest books that I came across over the course of the year. For the record, I haven’t read all of these (but I certainly hope to!).

Philip Pullman//Four TalesFour Tales by Philip Pullman. This is a bind-up of four fairytale-style stories, & I really love the way this is reflected by the Disney-style castle on the cover. If you look at the details at the bottom, you can see some of the various characters & props from each of the stories: The rat; the scarecrow & his servant; the pair of shoes; &c. The simple two-tone colour scheme is beautiful as well – though the white-looking line art is actually silver – and lends the book the look of a starry night.

David Mitchell//The Bone ClocksThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I love the whimsical style of this cover, with all the different objects connected by threads of birds and water and I believe that the spiral in the lower left corner is made up of cards (?). I haven’t read this book yet, so I don’t know what the significance of each item is, but the look of it is certainly striking.

Marcus Sedgwick//MidwinterbloodMidwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. This cover reminds me of the opening scene in the film of Watership Down, though I don’t know how many of you will have seen that. I love the style that the rabbits are drawn in (made up of lots of lines rather than block colour), and the red and purple go well together for the background. The skull-and-thorns motif on the side looks pretty, too, and adds a sinister touch.

Tahereh Mafi//Ignite MeIgnite Me by Tahereh Mafi. This whole trilogy has really beautiful covers, but of the three books (plus novella bind-up), I think Ignite Me is the prettiest. The orange around her eyes and the flowers on her eyelashes really create an impression of spring, making it seem like life must be improving for Juliette (which I very much hope is the case, after the events of the first two books). There’s also the bird reflected in her iris on all three covers, which (as she mentions in the book) represents freedom.

Naomi Novik//Empire of IvoryEmpire of Ivory by Naomi Novik. This is the fourth book in the Temeraire series, which (again) all have really lovely covers, but since this is the only new one I bought this year, this is the one that I will talk about. I believe that this particular book is set in Africa, and at the bottom of the cover you can see a lion and some African elephants, as well as some tribal spears and shields at the sides. The warm colour scheme is nice, too (especially after the cool blues, greens and purples of the previous books), and I really like that the flowers have been done in colour, to contrast the black line art.

Rosamund Hodge//Cruel BeautyCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. Generally speaking, I don’t tend to like covers with people on them, unless they’re clearly hand-drawn, but I’ll make an exception for this one, simply because I really, really love the way the rose and the staircase have been blended together. The rose, of course, brings to mind the story of Beauty & the Beast (on which this story was based), while the seemingly never-ending staircase (with Nyx running down it) creates a feeling of entrapment which matches the novel perfectly.

October Haul

In terms of book-buying, this month actually ended up being even more extravagant than last month… 😦 I think I may have a problem. On the plus side, though, I have now bought all but one of the books on my new list of books that I’m allowed to buy this year, so there probably won’t be a November or December haul (unless I get books for Christmas. Or lose control of my book-buying impulses…).

October HaulAnyway, here goes nothing:

1) Throne of GlassCrown of MidnightHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. The first three books in a series about an assassin called… Caelena? Forgive me if I’ve misspelt her name. :/ Anyway, I’ve been in the mood for assassin books recently, & I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series (and they were in the buy-one-get-one-half-price offer at Waterstones!), so I couldn’t pass them up.

2) Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik. The fourth book in the Temeraire series. I really love these books, though I’ve only read the first two. I also really love the covers, so I thought I’d pick this one up before all the copies get replaced by the new, much uglier ones. The series basically centres around the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons.

3) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while – since  I heard about it when it won the Costa Novel Award for 2013 – and I finally decided to pick it up since it was on special offer (& I haven’t been able to get hold of a copy from my library). As far as I can tell, it’s about reincarnation… Or else repeating the same life over and over. I’m not entirely sure, but it sounds pretty interesting.

4) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I decided to pick this up after reading The Jewel by Amy Ewing, since it’s been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t know much about this book – despite the fact that it’s a classic – except that it’s set in a dystopian future where the birth rate has gone way down…

5) Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. An apparently sad contemporary road-trip book that I don’t know much about, but have heard is good. I will probably be reading this soon.

6) The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. A novella set in the Kingkiller Chronicle universe. I have the two main books in this series on my kindle, so I was actually planning on getting this one in ebook form, but then I walked into Waterstones & found that they had signed copies! So this is signed, & beautiful, & I will probably read this pretty soon, too. 🙂

7) Clariel by Garth Nix. The Old Kingdom prequel. I have been waiting for this book for almost 10 years, & it is so good to finally have it on my shelf. 😀

8) The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. The final Heroes of Olympus book. I’ve actually already read this one, & written a mini-review, which you can find here.

9) The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare. Another book I’ve already finished reading, & loved. The first book in the new Magisterium series, which follows a boy names Call who decidedly does not want to go to the Magisterium & become a mage. Unfortunately (for him, but not for us 😛 ), it seems that the universe has other plans.