Spring Catch-Up

Once again, I’m trying a new layout for my wrap-ups, and I’m thinking of also switching them to being seasonal rather than monthly, at least at times (like now) when I’m not reading all that much… Let me know what you think! 😊 I did post a wrap-up of my March reads, so this post has everything that I read/listened to in April and May – a total of six novels, two audiobooks, and one (very short) comic:

FAVOURITE OF THE SEASON*

LIBRARY SCAVENGER HUNT PICKS

[REVIEW]

[REVIEW]

OTHER BOOKS I REVIEWED

[REVIEW]

OTHER BOOKS I READ

When Anxiety Attacks by Terian Koscik. A short, autobiographical comic about Koscik’s experience with anxiety, and her decision to see a therapist, along with a call for others not to feel ashamed or embarrassed to do the same, if they feel that it would help them. This was super-short, but it conveyed its message very well, and the cute artwork made it really fun to read, too. 😊
The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce. One of the later books in Pierce’s Emelan series, as well as my audiobook purchase for March. This is one of my favourite books of all time; I love the story and the characters, and how the four main characters have all changed after their years of separation make for a lot of tense, emotional re-thinking of their relationship. One thing that struck me this time through was how childish Sandry was at times in comparison to the others… Of course, she is a child, so it’s not entirely surprising, but I don’t remember ever really noticing it before… The performance was also excellent: Pierce took the narrator’s role, while the characters were each played by different voice actors. I did find that the actors who played Tris and Daja had quite similar voices (for a while I even thought that they were the same person), but they differ so much in personality that it was only occasionally difficult to tell which of them was speaking.
The Four Swans by Winston Graham. The sixth book in the Poldark series, which takes place in a small Cornish mining community, and follows the titular Poldark family – though the number of protagonists has been steadily increasing as the series goes on, and characters whose names are not Poldark have been becoming much more significant to the story. Obviously since this is a sequel, I can’t say too much about the plot, but it remains very exciting. I’m very glad that Morwenna’s plight has not been forgotten, and her younger sister Rowella is also an interesting addition to the cast; while I’m definitely rooting for her, and am frequently concerned for her, I’m still not entirely sure how much I like her… 😓 Ossie continues to be super-disgusting (as I talked about in another recent post), and the feud between Ross and George takes some unexpected turns in this book, too. I can’t say I found it quite as good as The Black Moon, but it was a little less anxiety-inducing to read… the Poldark series as a whole has a tendency towards drama that is probably not good for my heart, but definitely keeps me invested! 😋
Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell. A fantasy novel set in a society where magic-users, known as Jan’Tep, rule absolutely, while the magic-less Sha’Tep live lives of subservience, regardless of their own preference. Our protagonist Kellen is the son of a prominent Jan’Tep family, but with his sixteenth birthday rapidly approaching, and his magical abilities having been growing steadily weaker all his life, he has to come up with an incredible con in order to avoid the fate of becoming a Sha’Tep. I found the premise of this book really, really interesting; the tension between the different social classes, and the very real possibility of Kellen failing his trials both lent themselves to a potentially epic storyline – but while I did think that Kellen’s personal journey was very compelling, I found that the world-building wasn’t strong enough for me to feel any investment in the story beyond its immediate effects on Kellen… Ferius (probably the most important of the supporting cast) also felt quite convieniently-forced-in-for-the-convenience-of-the-plot at times, which was disappointing, although I did like her as a character. I did enjoy the book enough to continue with the series, though it’s a shame that (in my opinion) it didn’t quite live up to its potential.
Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell. The sequel to Spellslinger, in which Kellen leaves home with Ferius, and the squirrel-cat Reichis in hopes of learning the Argosi way, but is soon caught up by a mysterious girl called Seneira, who seems to have contracted Shadowblack as a disease, despite having no magic to speak of. The beginning of this book was quite slow, but I found myself really enjoying it once the plot got going (around the time they reach the University). The new characters that were introduced were all a lot of fun, and although I’m disappointed that the new setting meant that my world-building issues from Spellslinger haven’t been fixed yet, I remain hopeful that they may be eventually, as apparently this is going to be a six-book series. Book 3, Charmcaster, is out already, and hopefully I’ll have a chance to read it sometime soon. 😊
Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce. The first book in the Circle Opens quartet, which is set in Pierce’s Emelan universe, and follows Sandry a few years after the Circle of Magic books, now with her magical qualifications, and a student of her own to teach – whether she feels ready for it or not. I’ve read this book several times before, and still love the story and characters just as much as ever. I decided to listen to it as an audiobook this time (I’m slowly making my way through the whole of Audible’s collection of Tamora Pierce books), and it definitely wasn’t a mistake; the whole cast did an excellent job. 🎶

*Not including re-reads.

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Ultimate Fictional Heist Team!

[A.K.A. The 5 fictional characters I’d want with me on the heist I’m totally (not) planning.]

I’ve been reading a lot of heist books recently, for some reason (well, two, but since that’s two thirds of all the heist books I’ve ever read, it feels like a lot), and they’ve all had such good teams in them that I’ve been daydreaming about who I’d take with me if I ever needed to steal a potentially universe-destroying artefact, or break into an impenetrable fortress. Fun times! 😉 One catch here: I’m not going to be picking any characters from the aforementioned heist books, ’cause that would make this too easy (by which I mean the whole list would be characters from Railhead and Six of Crows. With a guest appearance from Locke Lamora ^^’ ).

Tamora Pierce//Street Magic1) Evvy Dingzai (from Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic universe)

Apart from being one of my favourite characters in anything, ever, Evvy is also a stone mage, which means she can sense the presence of different types of stones, and (usually) get them to do what she wants. As you can imagine, this would be a handy power to have along if your heist team is stealing gems, or needs to get through stone walls… I actually had a hard time deciding between Evvy and Daja (from the same series, and who has a similar ability with metals), but ultimately I think Evvy’s morals would be less likely to get in the way than Daja’s.

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//Illuminae2) Kady Grant (from The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff)

So, we have a solution for low-tech security (i.e. walls), but in case of computers, I’m also bringing a hacker, and Kady is a great one – she spends practically the whole of Illuminae hacking into super-secure systems, and battling with a rogue A.I., which is (in my humble opinion) pretty impressive!

Rick Riordan//The Lost Hero3) Leo Valdez (from the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan)

Leo’s an inventor, and would be in charge of all the team’s equipment (and hopefully building some extras, too! Maybe a getaway dragon?). Also, he’s good at blowing things up, and if Six of Crows has taught me anything about heists, it’s that explosions can come in handy. 😛

Veronica Roth//Divergent4) Tris Prior (from the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth)

Say what you like about the Divergent books, but Tris definitely gets things done – she’s great in a pinch, and usually on the ball with split-second decisions, so she’ll be the team’s combat specialist… and will not be making any important strategic decisions, for reasons that will probably be obvious to anyone who’s read Allegiant.

Kiersten White//And I Darken5) Radu Dragwlya (from The Conquerors Saga by Kiersten White)

Which brings me to my last team member: the strategist! I don’t know how down Radu would actually be with a heist situation (his sister Lada would probably be much more excited by the prospect), but I’ve just finished reading And I Darken, and I was super-impressed by all his plotting and political manoeuvring, and ability to read people and situations.

So now I have my team! Next step: deciding what we’re actually going to do. Probably something with precious gems, in order to make the most of Evvy’s talents, but beyond that I have no clue… I’ll be leaving all the planning to Radu, after all. 😉

The Skyrim Book Tag

Guess who finally decided to play Skyrim? If your answer was me, then you’d be right! 😀 It certainly took me long enough, with pretty much everyone I know going on and on about how much they thought I’d love it. And guess what else; I am absolutely loving it. XD This tag was created by The Quirky Book Nerd, and I wasn’t tagged by anyone, but I thought I’d give it a go anyway – it looks super-fun! 🙂

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//Illuminae1) Fus Ro Dah – A book that blew you away.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff! I read this last year, and it made me feel so many things! I laughed, I cried, I nagged all my friends to read it incessantly… 😛 It also really got me into sci-fi, a genre I’d previously been rather leery of (and which I now really enjoy). I can’t wait for the sequel!

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone2) Dovahkiin – Favorite “chosen one” story.

This is probably an overused answer, but as far as Chosen Ones go, nothing beats the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. 😉

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Cursed Child3) Thu’um – A book that got a verbal reaction out of you (good or bad).

I tend to stay pretty quiet when I’m reading, but there was a point near the end of Harry Potter & the Cursed Child (during that scene between Harry and Dumbledore’s portrait) where I realised that the strange whining noise I could hear was coming from me. 😳

Sarah J. Maas//Queen of Shadows4) Arrow to the Knee – A book or series that started out well but ended up being disappointing.

Will I incite a lynch-mob if I say Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas? (Probably, but I’m saying it anyway.) The whole Throne of Glass series just seemed to be getting better and better as it went on, and Heir of Fire was close to perfection, but all the character-development decisions that Maas decided to make in the most recent book were a huge disappointment to me. 😦

Patrick Ness//The Knife of Never Letting Go5) Shadowmere – Favorite literary/fictional animal or pet.

I really, really love Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – he’s the ultimate doggy friend. 😀 I like Angharrad (a horse who appears later on in the same series) a lot, too, but Manchee still wins.

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Fellowship of the Ring6) Alduin – Most frightening literary/fictional animal.

Hands down, it has to be Shelob from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I deal badly enough with normal-sized spiders…

Sarah J. Maas//Heir of Fire7) Companions Guild – Best literary friendship.

I don’t know if this strictly counts, since it did eventually become a romance (much to my annoyance), but one of my favourite things about Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas was the slow-burn friendship between Celaena and Rowan…

Susan Hill//I'm the King of the Castle8) Dark Brotherhood – The darkest story you’ve ever read.

Probably I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill, a chilling story about bullying that you can’t escape from, and authority figures too blind to notice it. Everything I’ve read of Susan Hill’s has been dark, but this one was pitch black.

Scott Lynch//Lies of Locke Lamora9) Thieves Guild – Favorite morally ambiguous character.

Locke Lamora! From the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch. He’s a conman, and does some pretty extremely questionable things over the course of the first book (the only one I’ve read so far), but I couldn’t help but love him anyway! ❤

Rainbow Rowell//Kindred Spirits10) Wuld Nah Kest (whirlwind sprint) – Your fastest read.

I couldn’t say for sure (I’ve read a lot of very short books, very quickly), but probably something like Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell – an adorable World Book Day novella that I read in less than an hour.

George R.R. Martin//A Dance with Dragons11) Tiid Klo Ul (slow time) – Your slowest read.

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin took me forever to read, mostly because it mainly featured all my least-favourite characters from the A Song of Ice & Fire series… I spent months carrying this book everywhere with me in hopes that I’d crack it open, with very little success. 😦

Tamora Pierce//The Magic in the Weaving12) Tamriel – Favorite fictional world.

Both of Tamora Pierce’s fantasy worlds are ones that I love to get lost in, but since most of my favourite books of hers are part of the Circle universe, I’ll go with Emelan, where the Circle of MagicThe Circle Opens, and The Circle Reforged series are all set. The magic system is wonderful, the world is richly imagined, and it’s full of some of my favourite stories and characters… I really hope I get to read more from this universe soon! XD

Bonus Question:

+1) “Sworn to Carry Your Burdens” – The heaviest book you own.

A Dance with Dragons, which I own as a massive hardcover. All that carrying it around that I mentioned? My shoulders were punishing me for it long after I finally finished the book. 😳

♥ The Book Love Tag! ♥

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

1) Your favourite book couple:

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

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

2) Your top 3 book boyfriends/girlfriends:

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

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

Sticking with the couples I mentioned in question 1:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7) Your opinion on love triangles. Go!

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

8) Favourite and least favorite love triangle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R.I.P. It or Ship It!

This game was originally created by emmmabooks, and it’s done the rounds both on booktube and on a lot of the book blogs I follow… I haven’t been tagged by anyone, but I was finally pushed to do this (I’ve been meaning to for quite a while, since it looks so fun~) when I read Josie’s post over at Josie’s Book Corner, which you should all definitely check out – she managed to pick out some really hilarious pairings. 😀

The basic rules are: Write down the names of lots of different book characters, and put them all in a pot together. Then mix them up, and pick them out two at a time. The two characters you pick will be paired together, and you have to decide whether you like it (Ship it) or hate it (RIP it). I’ve also come up with a couple of my own rules, as well – I wanted to limit myself to two characters per book/series, and I’ve got a total of twenty characters in my pot (which is the lid to my Cards Against Humanity cards~ 😛 ), so I’ll be making ten pairings overall.

So, without further ado:

Kenji (Shatter Me) & Arya (A Song of Ice & Fire)

My initial thought was a resounding no, but I think that this could actually work! Arya is so bent on revenge, and Kenji could definitely mellow her out a little, while still supporting her… I SHIP IT!ship it

Celaena (Throne of Glass) & Four (Divergent)

Celaena and Four-as-in-Divergent would probably work pretty well, but she’d probably lose her temper quite quickly with Four-as-in-Insurgent/Allegiant… Patience isn’t exactly Celaena’s strong suit… I RIP IT.rip it

Chaol (Throne of Glass) & Briar (Circle of Magic)

Briar is such a womaniser, and Chaol would probably be able to put up with that if there was any real chemistry between them (because, thinking of it, Briar is actually quite a lot like Celaena…), but I really feel like there wouldn’t be, so… I RIP IT.rip it

Elend (Mistborn& Tessa (The Infernal Devices)

These two would definitely make good friends – they both love reading, at least. Maybe? For now, at least, I SHIP IT.ship it

Bella (Twilight& Evvy (Circle of Magic)

Haha. XD Not a chance. Evvy is such a strong character, and Bella is just… not. These two would seriously hate each other.rip it

Juliette (Shatter Me& Nico (Percy Jackson)

No. Just, no. There’s no way that Nico would have the patience to put up with all Juliette’s issues. I RIP IT.rip it

Jem (The Infernal Devices& Vin (Mistborn)

This would definitely work! I SHIP IT! Jem is kind and charming – and frail enough that Vin would want to protect him (just like Elend!). I totally ship it!ship it

Luna (Harry Potter& Edward (Twilight)

Seeing inside Luna’s head would probably terrify Edward. And I really can’t subject Luna to being paired with such a creep… I RIP IT.rip it

Harry (Harry Potter& Percy (Percy Jackson)

This could definitely work (& I’m sure I’ve read fanfic of this pairing at some point~ 😛 ). The two heroes fighting together! And probably also complaining a lot about annoying villains who just won’t stay dead. If not romance, then they’d have an epic bromance, at least. I SHIP IT!ship it

Tris (Divergent& Gendry (A Song of Ice & Fire)

It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around Gendry with anyone other than Arya, so I’m not sure if this is just bias, but… I RIP IT.rip it

May Wrap Up

For me, May was a really great reading month, especially for graphic novels, and for library books (most of which I’ve had checked out for way too long without picking them up… 😳 ). I’m going to Iceland near the beginning of June, and I don’t know how much I’ll be able to read while I’m away, but hopefully I’ll be able to keep this momentum going! Overall (including the #CRUSHYOURTBR readathon), I read 11 novels, 7 comics/graphic novels, and 10 short stories, and I also listened to 1 audiobook. 😀

Melissa Grey//The Girl at MidnightThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey. The first book in a new series, which follows a human pickpocket called Echo who’s been raised as part of a hidden world, where there’s an ancient war going on between two species: The bird-like Avicen, and the dragon-like Drakharin. The story’s plot centres around something called the firebird – which has been prophesised to be able to end the war – and Echo’s search for it, with a rather motley crew along for the ride. I really enjoyed this book: The story was really solid, and the characters were amazing (my favourites were Dorian and Caius). 😀 It was fast-paced enough to keep me gripped, but slow enough to allow for proper character development. My only real problem with it was the portrayal of Rowan – he never really felt like a viable love interest for Echo, since he only appeared in three or four scenes… But then again, that was probably for the best, since the book teetered on the edge of being over-crowded…4 stars

Jay Asher//13 Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. A story about the suicide of a girl called Hannah, told through the cassette tapes that she left behind, sent out to the people she holds responsible for the events leading up to her death. We hear the tapes alongside Clay, one of the people on her list. I’d been on the edge about whether or not to read this for a while, but I decided to pick it up as an audiobook after reading wander-ful worlds’ review, and I’m really glad I did – both the narrators (who played Clay and Hannah) were excellent, and it seemed really fitting to be listening to the story, since so much of it was about listening. However, a lot of the time while I was listening to it, I felt that it was really written more to make a point than to tell a story, and consequently the story itself wasn’t that brilliant. That said, it did make its point really well, and it was very thought-provoking, particularly on the topic of gossip, and how actions that you think are insignificant can actually have a powerful effect on other people’s lives.3 starsBill Willingham//Fables vol. 2Fables Volume 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham. This volume followed Snow White and Rose Red on a visit to the Fabletown Farm (which is home to the Fable who can’t blend in with human society), where a revolution is brewing. It was a great introduction to some of the non-human Fables, like the Three Little Pigs and Reynard the Fox, and the obvious allusions to George Orwell’s Animal Farm were fun. There’s quite a few character deaths in this one, though, so it’s probably not one for the squeamish. 😛4 starsJulie Kagawa//RogueRogue by Julie Kagawa. The sequel to Talon, featuring Ember now on the run from both Talon and the Order of St. George! The story was really action-packed, and the character development was great as well – I particularly liked how Ember seemed to grow up a lot towards the end of the book, and I enjoyed getting to know Riley a lot better. Dante’s character is still a little difficult to pin down, but I remain hopeful, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book! 😀4 stars

Tamora Pierce//The Will of the EmpressThe Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce. The first of the Circle Reforged companion books (though chronologically it takes place after Battle Magic), which is part of the Emelan universe and follows on from the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series. These books follow a group of young mages – Sandry, Tris, Daja and Briar – as they grow up and face the various different challenges that life has to offer. I first read this book several years ago, but I’d been meaning to re-read it for the longest time, so I finally decided to pick it up~ 😛 And I’m really glad I did! It’s my second favourite of all Tamora Pierce’s books, after Street Magic (which says quite a bit, since that’s probably my favourite book of all time, and Tamora Pierce is my favourite author), and it was just as amazing as I remember it being!5+ stars

Terry Pratchett//MortChuck Dixon & Scott Beatty//Batgirl/Robin: Year OneTamora Pierce//Tortall & Other LandsLaurell K. Hamilton//The HarlequinThese are all the books that I managed to finish for #CRUSHYOURTBR, but I’ve already talked in detail about them in my wrap-up for that readathon, so you should check that out if you’re interested. In order, my overall ratings for each book were:

4 stars  5 stars  3 stars  4 stars

Malorie Blackman//CallumCallum by Malorie Blackman. A brief novella that presents an alternative version of one of the events in Noughts and Crosses: What if Callum and Sephy ran away together when she was captured by the Liberation Militia? It’s been way too long since I read the main books in this series, as I had trouble remembering everything that led up to the beginning of this story… But I still liked it, and I’d definitely recommend it for fans of the Noughts and Crosses series. 🙂3 starsGeoff Johns//Aquaman vol. 2Aquaman Volume 2: The Others by Geoff Johns. It’s been so long since I read the first volume of this series, that I’d forgotten just how amazing it is! This volume gives us some backstory, as a treasure hunter called Black Manta is hunting down members of Aquaman’s old team in order to steal the royal Atlantean relics that they possess.5 starsGeoff Johns//Aquaman vol. 3Aquaman Volume 3: Throne of Atlantis by Geoff Johns. This volume covered the whole of the Throne of Atlantis crossover with Justice League, where Atlantis attacks the surface world in retaliation against a missile strike that accidentally detonated in the sea. Once again, it had a well thought-out plotline, great characters, and amazing art. This is definitely one of the best titles that’s come out of the DC in recent years.5 starsJonathan Stroud//The Ring of SolomonThe Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud. The prequel to the Bartimaeus trilogy, this book follows the djinni Bartimaeus’ adventures in ancient Jerusalem, where he is enslaved to one of King Solomon’s magicians. The second protagonist is a young Sheban guardswoman called Asmira, who has been sent by her queen to Jerusalem in order to assassinate Solomon and steal his ring (a powerful magical object that seems to grant wishes). This book suffered from the lack of Nathaniel (understandably so, since it’s set several thousand years before his birth), but thankfully Asmira grew on me a lot – I certainly liked her a lot better than Kitty! – and the story, while slow to get started, really picked up once Asmira and Bartimaeus crossed paths. My favourite part was, the footnotes in Bartimaeus’ chapters, where his sarcasm really shone through… 😛 I went into this book fully prepared to find it lacklustre, so I was very pleasantly surprised! 😀4 stars

Robin McKinley//BeautyBeauty by Robin McKinley. A pretty straight-up retelling of Beauty & the Beast, but done much better than most of the re-imaginings I’ve come across lately (e.g. Breath of Life and Dragon Rose by Christine Pope, or even Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge…). Beauty (who is actually called Honour 😛 ) was a wonderful character, and I loved the slow, realistic development of her relationship with Beast. Her family were really great, too, and Beast’s invisible servants made me chuckle. My only real complaint is that the ending was rather quick – several big events took place in the space of a few pages, and then the book just ended… 😦4 starsDanica Novgorodoff//The Undertaking of Lily ChenThe Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff. A graphic novel about a tradition from Northern China in which, when an unmarried man dies, the body of a young woman must be found for him, so that a ghost wedding can take place. The main character in this story is a young man called Deshi, who has been tasked to find a corpse bride for his recently-deceased brother… A really intriguing story, with great characters and a haunting storyline. The only thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the character design, but even that I got used to eventually. My favourite thing about this comic was probably the watercolour panels, which were incredibly beautiful.4 starsChristi Caldwell//For the Love of the DukeFor Love of the Duke by Christi Caldwell. A Regency-era romance between Jasper – a Duke who shut himself away after the death of his first wife – and Katherine – a young lady trying to escape from an arranged marriage and her controlling mother. For a bodice-ripper, this was remarkably well-written, with characters that I actually really liked and got quite invested in. It also featured one of the most hilarious (intentionally, I think) proposal scenes I’ve ever read. 😛 Obviously, though, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.4 starsChristi Caldwell//In Need of a DukeIn Need of a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The prequel to For Love of the Duke, which follows Katherine’s older sister Aldora, as she tries to secure herself a comfortable marriage with the Marquess of St. James, and ends up falling for his disgraced younger brother Michael instead… Not quite as good as For the Love of the Duke (naturally, since this was so much shorter), but still a lot of fun.3 starsChristi Caldwell//More than a DukeMore than a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The second book in the Heart of a Duke series, which focuses on Katherine’s twin sister Anne, who persuades Harry, the Earl of Stanhope, to teach her how to win the hand of the Duke of Crawford. This book reminded me a lot of North & South, in that actual words (as opposed to constant teasing) would’ve taken care of most of the conflict in the story… That said, I enjoyed it a lot. The dynamic between Anne and Harry was brilliant, and I appreciated getting to know the girls’ mother a bit better – even if that knowledge only led me to think that she’s a bitter, manipulative harpy. 😛3 starsChristi Caldwell//The Love of a RogueThe Love of a Rogue by Christi Caldwell. The third book in the Heart of a Duke series. This one follows Alex, the best friend of Harry from More than a Duke, who is forced by his brother to be a chaperone for his younger sister, and ends up falling for her best friend Imogen. I really liked Alex in the last book, so I was looking forward to reading this one, and I think that Imogen is probably my favourite of the heroines so far. The Love of a Rogue was a lot of fun to read, but I wish it’d been a bit longer, and that more focus had been put on the strained relationship between Imogen and her sister…3 starsChristi Caldwell//Loved by a DukeLoved by a Duke by Christi Caldwell. The fourth (and final?) book in the Heart of a Duke series, following Auric, the Duke of Crawford (who was the other side character that I really liked in More than a Duke), and Daisy, the sister of his childhood friend who passed away. Probably the best thing about this book is that it the romance wasn’t the only point of the plot – it also dealt heavily with grief, as Auric blames himself for the death of Daisy’s brother. The writing was also pretty solid, and the book was a good length… I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as For Love of the Duke, though, objectively speaking, I think it’s probably the best in the series. They’re all rather similar, to be honest…3 starsMike Richardson//47 Ronin47 Ronin by Mike Richardson. A graphic novel of the (true!) Japanese story of 47 samurai who swore to avenge the death of their lord, Asano, when he was unfairly sentenced to commit seppuku (a form of ritual suicide). It’s definitely a good story, but I think it would have come across better if it had been a bit longer. There were just so many characters that it was difficult to distinguish between them, and only Oishi (Lord Asano’s chief retainer) really stood out from the crowd. That said, I really liked the little epilogue-scene at the end, and the art (by Stan Sakai) was interesting, too, though it took a little while to get used to.3 stars

The Playlist Tag

The playlist tag was created Little Red Reader, and I wasn’t tagged by anyone, but I decided to do it after seeing Elisabeth Paige’s video. Basically, you just have to set your playlist to random, and pick a book to go with each song that comes up.

If you’re interested, I’ve made a video playlist of my songs, for your listening pleasure~

Frances Hodgson Burnett//A Little Princess1) Vienna Teng, Anna Rose

Since this is a lullaby, I thought it was only fitting that I chose a book about dreaming and imagination, so my pick for this song is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Sara, left destitute after her father dies, is forced to become a servant to pay off his debt to her fancy boarding school, and finds refuge in the stories she learnt when she lived with him in India.

Anna Rose, it’s time to dream:
I see that your imagination knows no bounds.
There it flows like some magical stream,
And carries you on its journey.

Lauren Oliver//Delirium2) Lucie Silvas, Twisting the Chain

This song fits Lena and Alex from the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver pretty well, I think. There’s a lot of love between them, but everything that’s happened to them just seems to make them constantly on edge around each other.

I can see you’re hurting –
You wear it like a coat of armour.

Tamora Pierce//Melting Stones3) Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance

Of course, I can’t seem to do any kind of tag without mentioning my favourite author, so the book I chose for I Hope You Dance is Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce. In this book in particular, Evvy has to decide who she wants to be in the future – whether she’ll be a force for good, or for destruction.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance.

Paullina Simons//The Bronze Horseman4) Journey South, English Rose

This song will forever make me think of Rose and the Doctor from Doctor Who (and, in fact, the only version of the song that I could find on youtube was a Doctor/Rose fan-video… 😳 ), but since that’s not a book (or rather, I haven’t read any of the Doctor Who books…), I had to go with my second choice: The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons! Tatiana and Alexander have to go through so much, but even so, they never give up on each other~ ❤

No bonds… nothing… no one… will ever keep me from she.

Tahereh Mafi//Shatter Me5) The Dresden Dolls, Girl Anachronism

I knew as soon as this showed up on my playlist that I was going to have to pick the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi! Juliette’s not quite as messed up as the girl in this song, but the people who locked her up still have a lot to answer for.

I might be catching, so don’t touch.

Morgan Matson//Amy & Roger's Epic Detour6) The Dandy Warhols, Bohemian Like You

Number six is Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, which I chose mostly for the feel of it – near-strangers who both get along so well, dancing around the issue of possibly-more-than-friends, but having a great time of it regardless. 🙂

It’s you that I want, so please,
Just a casual, casual easy thing,
Is it? It is for me.

Sarah Dessen//Someone Like You7) Billy Joel, Only the Good Die Young

Another contemporary, of course, but this time it’s Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen, where dependable Halley falls in with the charming but slightly wild Macon.

They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait,
And some say it’s better, but I say it ain’t.

I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints –
The sinners are much more fun.

Sally Green//Half Bad8) Belle & Sebastian, Waiting for the Moon to Rise

This time it’s the Half Life trilogy by Sally Green, which is all about the journey – running from the past, along a path with an uncertain destination. The books have a rather more urgent pace than this mellow song, but I think it still fits…

I was following a trail
I’d never been along before,
Chasing darkened skies above me.

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone9) Belle & Sebastian, Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying

This one’s a bit of a stretch, as the song can be a little random in places, but I ended up picking the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, mostly because there’s a verse that reminds me so much of how I felt the first time I read it. 😉 (Bear with me, this quote is kind of long…)

I’ll settle down with some old story about a boy who’s just like me:
Thought there was love in everything and everyone – you’re so naïve!
They always reach a sorry ending; they always get it in the end.

Still it was worth it as I turned the pages solemnly, and then,
With a winning smile, the boy with naïvety succeeds!
At the final moment, I cried – I always cry at endings…

Katie McGarry//Crash Into You10) Avril Lavigne, Anything But Ordinary

For this final song, I chose Crash Into You by Katie McGarry – a book about love and teenagers and wanting to be seen. And driving. Very fast.

Sometimes I drive so fast,
Just to feel the danger.
I want to scream,
It makes me feel alive.