Thematic Recs: Interesting Magic Systems

In most fantasy novels that I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a lot of them), performing magic is a matter of waving a wand and saying some words, or concentrating very hard on your desired outcome; consistent actions, and (mostly) consistent results. Which is great – all magic is awesome magic! 😀 Every now and then, though, I come across a book with a really interesting, inventive magic system, unlike anything I’ve seen before. And exploring these kinds of magic – learning their uses and limitations, and seeing how the characters put them into practice – is one of my favourite things to do. 🙂 The magic systems in these books/series are some of my recent favourites, so I hope you like them, too!

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On1) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Though heavily influenced by Harry Potter and its fandom, the magic is one thing in Carry On that’s entirely unique, and was one of the best things about this (already fantastic) novel. Spells in this world are popular phrases, and are given power by how well-known they are. So, for example, “some like it hot” can be used as a warming spell, but if people stopped using the phrase, then the spell would become less and less effective. It’s mentioned a few times that song lyrics don’t make very good spells (with a few exceptions) for this very reason; they enter and leave popular culture too quickly. Nursery rhymes, on the other hand, apparently make great ones, as people are never really able to forget them… There’s a really epic scene near the middle of the book, where Baz uses “Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home” on a dragon. 😛

Brandon Sanderson//The Final Empire2) The Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The magic in this book is called Allomancy, and those who use it are Allomancers, their powers drawn from different kinds of metals, and their alloys (hence the name). Iron and steel push and pull (respectively) on nearby metal objects; tin and pewter enhance the users’ senses or physical abilities; brass can be used to calm emotions, while zinc enflames them; and bronze is used to locate nearby Allomancy, while copper hides it. Allomancers can generally only use one type of metal, but there are a few select people, called the Mistborn, who are able to use them all. Each power seems quite limited in potential, but the way that Sanderson incorporates them into the story is pure genius, and he writes some of the best magical action scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Peter V. Brett//The Painted Man3) The Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett. I have a love-hate relationship with this series, because it’s really great, but horrible things keep happening to all my favourite characters… 😥 The magic system, though, is based on wards – runic images painted onto any surface available, which do things like create barriers, or turn a demon’s fire into wind – and only have an effect on demons (which is convenient, since the Thesa is beset by them). Runic magic in itself isn’t all that unusual in fantasy, but what sets The Demon Cycle apart is this interesting detail: The wards are all powered by the demons themselves; the more the demons fight against them, the more power the wards will be able to draw on, and the stronger their magic will become.

Garth Nix//Sabriel4) The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. This series uses another runic system called Charter magic, but there are actually several different schools of magic in The Old Kingdom series. When I first read it, I was particularly enamoured of the Clayr, a group of sorceresses who can see into the future, but the kind of magic that’s most important to the series is that of the Abhorsen – a hereditary title belonging to Sabriel’s family, which marks them as necromancers. Main characters who are necromancers are incredibly hard to come by, in my experience, but the way that Sabriel uses her powers is a little different from most portrayals of necromancy – she uses a selection of bells, each with a different purpose (one to call the dead, one to banish them, one to bind them, etc.). In the second book, another character is introduced who’s also able to channel her power through a mirror, which is just as unusual as the bells.

Genevieve Cogman//The Invisible Library5) The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. This last series is one of my most recent discoveries: I’ve only read the first book so far, but I think I’ve just about got a handle on the magic that Irene uses (which, again, is not the only form of magic in the book, just the most interesting). It’s called the Language, and can only be used by Librarians of the mysterious Invisible Library, of which Irene – our heroine – is one. Instead of casting standardised spells, Irene is able to use the Language to instruct the world around her to alter itself (for instance by telling a lock to open), and – so long as she’s worded her order correctly – the world will obey her. It’s incredibly open to interpretation (she has to choose her words very carefully), and constantly evolving, and she receives new updates on the Language whenever she returns to the Library from a mission. Interestingly, she also tells us a few times that the Language doesn’t work so well when ordering objects to do things that are against their nature. For example, she very easily manages to tell a collection of enchanted gargoyles to stop moving, since stone is naturally still; it would have been much harder for her to make them move in the first place (had they not been enchanted), and the spell would have worn off much more quickly.

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Books you should be reading if you love Game of Thrones!

So, the new series of Game of Thrones is finally here! No spoilers, please; I’m not up-to-date with the show at all. ^^’ I am, however, all caught up on the books, and (not-so-patiently) awaiting the next one… Waiting is hard. 😦 But I’ve got you covered! With luck, these excellent series will be enough to tide you over until The Winds of Winter is released!

Peter V. Brett//The Painted Man1) The Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett. A seemingly quite traditional fantasy series, which follows a small group of protagonists living in a world that’s beset by demons which come up from the Core every night. This series only gets more complex as it goes on, however, introducing several new conflicts in the later books, and sympathetic (as well as despicable) characters on every side. This series made my heart so confused.

Mark Lawrence//Prince of Thorns2) The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence. If you like dark fantasy, then this series is perfect for you, as it’s one of the darkest things I’ve ever read. It follows a largely amoral prince, aiming to avenge the death of his mother and brother, and to become king, but prone to looting and pillaging, and murder and rape – a terrifying (but perfect) mix of Robb Stark and Ramsay Bolton that I wouldn’t have thought was even possible before reading this…

Rae Carson//Fire and Thorns3) The Fire & Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. Another fantasy series, but this time following a young, insecure princess called Elisa who’s sent away from her home against her will, in order to marry the ruler of a neighbouring kingdom. The story puts a lot of emphasis on religion – as Elisa was born with something called a Godstone, which marks her for an important religious duty – and her struggle to adapt to her new home, and her responsibility towards it, but the reason I think it will appeal to Game of Thrones fans is because of Elisa’s incredible growth as a character, which was very reminiscent of Danaerys Targaryen (and, to a lesser extent, Sansa Stark) in the first couple of A Song of Ice & Fire books.

Sally Green//Half Bad4) The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green. A dark fantasy series set in a world where there are “good” White Witches and “evil” Black Witches, who live isolated from one another, and despise each other. Nathan, the main character in these books, has been raised by his mother’s White family, but is an outcast in White society, as his father is one of the most notorious Black Witches around. I’m kind of obsessed with this series at the moment, but the main reason I’m adding it to this list is that Sally Green is not at all afraid to make her characters suffer.

5) Philippa Gregory//The White QueenThe Cousins’ War series by Philippa Gregory. This last recommendation is blind, as I haven’t read the books… I have seen the BBC adaptation of the first book, which was really well done (and made me feel a lot of the same things as Game of Thrones). But I’m mainly recommending this series – which is a novelisation of the War of the Roses – is because this time period was a major inspiration for the events in A Song of Ice & Fire.

[An aside: You know how, since Game of Thrones became popular, almost every fantasy book that’s come out has had the tagline “Perfect for fans of Game of Thrones!”, or words to that effect? And then they all turn out to be nothing like it, or only like it in some incredibly superficial way? (I’m looking at you, Falling Kingdoms.) I can’t be the only person bothered by this, right? :/ Well anyway, I hope I’ve done a little better in that respect.]

April Wrap-Up

I was in top form last month! For some reason, reading’s pretty much the only thing I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve had some really great luck (or intuition?) with the books I picked up, as well; I gave almost everything I read in April either 4 or 5 stars! In total, I managed to read 9 novels, 2 short stories, and one (short) graphic novel. 😀

Genevieve Cogman//The Invisible LibraryThe Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. A great mystery/adventure story about a librarian called Irene, who works as an agent for the Invisible Library, collecting rare books from different worlds and returning them to the Library to be preserved. This book was action-paced from start to finish, and incredibly exciting. I loved trying to puzzle out Irene’s quest, and it was quite refreshing that the characters seemed to figure things out at a similar pace that I did (getting left behind in mystery books is always frustrating, but so is waiting for the characters to catch on to something that seems obvious). The characters themselves were all wonderful, as well: Irene, Kai and Vale in particular, but I also loved the way that Irene’s history with Bradamant was tied into the story, and even the villains were a delight to read. Highly recommended!5 stars

Ella Frances Sanders//Lost in TranslationLost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders. An adorable collection of words that have no clear equivalent in any other language. (The word I found most relatable was tsundoku, which is Japanese for a continually-growing pile of unread books. 😉 ). This book is perfect for any lover of words (or cute illustrations)! I actually bought this as a birthday present for my dad, but of course I couldn’t resist reading it myself first. 😛5 starsAlison Goodman//The Dark Days ClubThe Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. A Regency-era historical fantasy about the young Lady Helen, who one day discovers that she has the ability to fight a kind of demon called “Deceivers”, and is drawn into the sinister world of the Dark Days Club, an organisation of people with powers like her own. This book was so much fun! I almost regret reading it, since I’m now going to have to wait another year to read the sequel! 😥 I loved all the characters, and the plot intrigued and surprised and excited me in equal measures; I ended up staying up until 4 in the morning on a work night, simply because I just had to read “one more chapter” (by which I mean the whole book). I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can read here.5 starsSally Green//Half TruthsHalf Truths by Sally Green. The second spin-off novella in the Half Life trilogy, which takse place during the beginning of Half Bad, but is told from Gabriel’s perspective. I don’t have too much to say about this, except that I wish it’d been longer, so there would’ve been more Nathan in it (it ends pretty soon after Gabriel and Nathan first meet).4 starsSally Green//Half LostHalf Lost by Sally Green. The third and final book in the Half Life trilogy, which was released at the end of March… I feel like I’ve waited forever for this book, but it was absolutely worth it. Obviously there’s not much that I can say about the plot, since this is a sequel, but it was equal parts disturbing, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, which is what I’ve come to expect from this series… Half Wild is still my favourite in the series, but this was an excellent concluding novel – even though I spent most of the last part of the book trying not to cry (and only mostly succeeding). 😥5 starsMelissa Landers//StarflightStarflight by Melissa Landers. A space adventure following a teenage girl on her way to the fringes of the galaxy in order to find some semblance of a happy life, despite her criminal record, and the spoilt son of a fuel tycoon, who hires her on as an indentured servant in excange for her fare – but mostly just so he can make her journey hell. This book was the perfect antidote to my post-Half Lost melancholy; it was just so much fun! 😀 The characters were all wonderful, and Doran and Solara’s romance was surprisingly not cheesy at all. The plot was action-packed, taking quite a few surprising (in the best possible way) turns before reaching its conclusion, and the fast-paced narrative suited the story perfectly.5 starsPeter V. Brett//The Skull ThroneThe Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett. The fourth book in the Demon Cycle series, which I’ve been readalong-ing with Chloë. I have so many mixed feelings about this book… :/ In terms of pacing, the whole book was one long, drawn-out climax, and game-changing twists were being thrown around like no-one’s business. This really felt like the follow-up that The Daylight War needed. And it was well-written, and I really loved some of the earlier plot and character developments (e.g. Arlen and Jardir finally getting a chance to talk things out, Sikvah turning out to be awesome, and the way Thamos really seemed to humanise Leesha). In some ways, this is the best book in the series so far… But almost the entire second half of the book just made me angry. The story’s certainly moving in an interesting direction now, but I really dislike the steps that Brett took in order to get it there. It’s been a long time since a book has made me feel this much hate, and while it’s a good thing that Brett’s managed to get me that invested in the story he’s telling, it’s still a really uncomfortable feeling. I’m definitely glad to be taking a break from this series while I wait for the last book to be released… ^^’4 starsNagaru Tanigawa//The Melancholy of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa. The first book in the Haruhi Suzumiya series, which follows a high school boy known only by his nickname Kyon, who gets dragged into the frequently ridiculous life of his classmate Haruhi – a girl who has (though she’s not aware of it) the power to destroy the world on a whim. Another book that was just pure fun. 🙂 I love Kyon’s narrative, and how he deals with all Haruhi’s drama… I watched the anime adaptation of this series years ago, and my main take-away from that was “fun, but weird”; that still holds true for this  novel, but I also found it much less confusing than its counterpart.4 starsBeate Grimsrud//A Fool, FreeA Fool, Free by Beate Grimsrud. A vaguely autobiographical-feeling (though not, as far as I can tell, actually an autobiography) novel about an author and filmmaker who suffers from schizophrenia. I ultimately enjoyed reading this book, but had some pretty mixed feelings about it… but since it was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for April, I’ve written a mini-review where I’ve talked about it more – read it here!3 stars

Huntley Fitzpatrick//My Life Next DoorMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. A contemporary romance that follows a teenage girl called Samantha, who lives next door to the warm but chaotic Garrett family, whom her driven, political mother completely disapproves of. So naturally, Samantha ends up falling for one of the Garrett boys. Everything about this book was just wonderful: The characters, the storyline, the relationships, the writing… Samantha was very relatable, and she and Jase were incredibly cute together, and I loved how much we got to see of the two of them as a couple; so many romances just focus on the main characters getting together, and then end once they’re actually in a relationship. The focus on Jase and Samantha’s families was really nice as well, and the more dramatic turns that the plot took towards the end were incredibly gripping.5 starsMy Heart is Either Broken by Megan Abbott (from Dangerous Women). A short story about a man trying to deal with the disappearance of his daughter, and the fact that the police and the public all seem to suspect that his wife was the one responsible. I’m not usually one for crime novels, but I actually really enjoyed this one – it had a wonderfully sinister feel to it, and since it was a short story rather than a full novel, it wasn’t long enough to drag…4 starsMorgan Matson//Second Chance SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. A bittersweet story about a teenage girl called Taylor, who’s spending the summer with her parents and siblings at the lake house that they haven’t visited in years (since she had an argument with two of her friends there, and ran away rather than try to fix their relationship), as a last chance for some quality time as a family, since her father only has a few months left to live. Naturally, this book was very sad, but it was also uplifting at times; Taylor got a chance to really get to know her father before his death, and their shared grief let her connect with her brother and sister in a way that she never had before. She also had the “second chance” referred to in the title – with her former best friend Lucy, and her ex-boyfriend Henry, with whom she’d had a disastrous parting… Taylor’s tendency to run away from her problems could sometimes be frustrating, and was perhaps a little overdone, but she was still very relatable, and the writing was excellent. I actually liked this book even better than Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, though I would still recommend reading that book first, as there’s a nice cameo near the beginning of the book!4 stars

The Mean Girls Book Tag

Hello, all! 😀 Today I thought I’d try the Mean Girls book tag, which I’ve seen in quite a few places (though not recently), but, as usual, wasn’t tagged for – it’s just such a great film, and with so many great, quotable moments! This tag barely even scratches the surface, despite its length. Speaking of which, I have quite a lot of questions to answer, so I’ll try to keep my answers short. 😛 The Mean Girls book tag was created by Sarah Jane at TheBookLife.

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire1) “It’s pronounced like Cady.” – Which fictional character’s name did you get completely wrong?

For this one, I’m going to have to admit that I was one of the legions of people who thought for the longest time that Hermione was pronounced “Hermy-own”… But at least our mistake led to J.K. Rowling writing in that brilliant scene between Hermione and Krum in Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire.

Dragon Age: Inquisition2) “She doesn’t even go here!” – Which character would you like to place in a fictional world from another book or series?

Disregarding the “book” part of this question (or at least half of it), I’d really love to dump Hermione in the Dragon Age universe, and watch her rage against the Circle system, and the subjugation of the elves. I’ve actually just started an Inquisitor!Hermione playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition, and it’s been a lot of fun so far!

Jennifer L. Armentrout//Obsidian3) “On Wednesdays we wear pink!” – Repetition. Repetition. Which book gave you deja-vu of another book whilst reading it?

Definitely Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, which was ridiculously like Twilight, but a million times more self-aware. And also with aliens. Clearly there was some very heavy “inspiration”, but luckily the two series go in completely different directions, or else it probably would’ve started to annoy me after a while (even though I think the Lux books are much better than the Twilight books…).

Kate Cann//Fiesta4) “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.” – Which book gave you the complete opposite of girl power feels?

Maybe Fiesta by Kate Cann? I had a lot of problems with this book that went beyond a severe lack of girl power (& which I talked about in my review), but one of the major ones was the way the main characters – who were supposed to be best friends – always seemed to be turning on each other over boys… :/

Peter V. Brett//The Skull Throne5) “You go, Glen Coco!” – Name a character you felt like you wanted to cheer on whilst reading.

I’m currently in the middle of The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett, and there are a lot of characters that I’m rooting for, but none (for now) so much as Sikvah, who just had her most epic moment yet! 😀

6) “Get in loser, we’re going shopping!” – How long do you typically spend at a book shop?

Bookshops are magical places where I completely lose track of time, so I’m not usually able to tell how long I’ve spent in one… except that it’s always longer than it should be. I try to avoid even setting foot in a bookshop unless I know I have several hours to burn. 😳

7) “It’s not my fault you’re, like, in love with me or something!” – Which character would have to get out a restraining order on you, if they were real?

… I actually don’t know. :/ I love a lot of characters in a lot of books, but none so much that I’d actually go all creepy-stalker on them…

Sarah J. Maas//Throne of Glass8) “I can’t help it that I’m popular.” – Which over-hyped book were you cautious about reading?

I was very hot-and-cold about whether I wanted to read the Throne of Glass books by Sarah J. Maas, after hearing all the hype… I’m definitely glad I did pick them up, though! 😀

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix9) “She’s a life-ruiner. She ruins peoples lives.” – We all love Regina George. Name a villain you just love to hate.

Ugh, Umbridge from Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix. She’s fantastically-written, but so awful and petty! 😡

Patrick Ness//The Knife of Never Letting Go10) “I’m not like a regular Mom; I’m a cool Mom.” – Your favourite fictional parents.

He’s not actually Todd’s father, but Ben from the Chaos Walking trilogy is such a brilliant father-figure; I love their whole relationship. ❤

Tamora Pierce//The Magic in the Weaving11) “That is so Fetch!” – Which book or series would you love to catch on?

The Emelan-universe books by Tamora Pierce (i.e. the Circle of MagicThe Circle OpensThe Circle Reforged series)! I love these books so much, and they’re reasonably well-known and well-regarded (though not so much so as her Tortall books), but I never hear anyone talking about them! 😦

12) “How do I even begin to explain Regina George?” – Describe your ideal character to read about.

Clever and creative, but without the need to shove it in people’s faces. Understated, I guess. And with a wonderful circle of friends (my love of a character is often based more on how they interact with the people around them than on that character as an individual).

13) “I just have a lot of feelings.” – What do you do when a book gives you a bad case of the feels?

I either call or message my friends and rant about it, if they’ve read it too, or else I badger them incessantly to do so. Immediately.

Jenn Bennett//Night Owls14) “Nice wig Janice, what’s it made of?” “Your Mom’s chest hair!” – Which character’s one-liners would you love to claim for your own?

You know, I can’t actually think of any books I’ve read with particularly witty one-liners? I would like to steal Beatrix’s internal monologue, though (from Night Owls by Jenn Bennett), and this quote in particular:

This was the night bus, not a Journey song. Two strangers were not on a midnight train going anywhere. I was going home, and he was probably going to knock over a liquor store.”

Morgan Rhodes//Falling Kingdoms15) “Boo, you whore.” – Name a time a character’s decision has made you roll your eyes.

Jonas from the Falling Kingdoms series has the worst ideas of all time, ever. I’m really enjoying the books, but as the series has gone on, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to suspend my disbelief that anyone could consider him a serious threat.

March Wrap-Up

Another good month of reading! I spent most of the month feeling pretty slumpy, since it felt like I hadn’t finished a book in ages… but it turned out that that was just because I was reading so many different books at once, and it was really slowing down my progress. Finishing several long books within a few days of each other was pretty satisfying after that! 😳 In total, I managed to read 6 novels and 2 short stories in March – and in the process, I finally managed to finish an anthology that I’d been working my way through for about 2 years now! 😀 Success!

Dahlov Ipcar//A Dark Horn BlowingA Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar. An eerie, atmospheric fairytale about a woman who is lured from her home by a magic horn, and taken to Erland in order to nurse the evil Erl King’s sickly son. The story draws from various different folk tales, which make for an interesting and enjoyable mix, and the writing was very pleasant to read. The main draw of this book, though, is the characters. I wasn’t a huge fan of Nora’s early chapters, which were very slow, but once she regained her memories, I felt more of a connection with her, and she became a much more sympathetic character. Eelie, too, was hard to warm up to at first, spoilt and fussy, but he really grew as a character in the book’s second part. My favourite parts were the odd friendship that developed between Eelie and Owen, and the small glimpses we got of Eben’s perspective. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, but I wish there’d been more of it. So this is a very high three stars. (Just so you know. 😉 )3 starsRainbow Rowell//Kindred SpiritsKindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell. An adorable short story (written for World Book Day) about queuing overnight to see the most recent Star Wars film. 🙂 Familiarity with Star Wars is recommended for this book, but probably not necessary, and there’s nothing even vaguely resembling a spoiler. I don’t have much else to say about this, since it was so short, but I’m always amazed by how well Rainbow Rowell is able to portray fan culture; everything in this story just felt incredible relatable, even though I’ve never been in an overnight queue…5 starsYoung Zaphod Plays It Safe by Douglas Adams (from The Time Traveller’s Almanac). A prequel novella to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which features Zaphod Beeblebrox before he was the President of the Galaxy. I found that I enjoyed re-familiarising myself with Adams’ humour, from which I’d been taking a long, much-needed break (I gave up at some point during the Hitchhiker’s series, simply because the overabundance of silliness was beginning to grate at my nerves), and what I read was both interesting, and amusing without being over the top. The plot, however, was quite unmemorable, with the exception of the ending – which was remarkable only because it didn’t really feel like an ending at all. :/2 starsAnn & Jeff VanderMeer//The Time Traveller's Almanac Part 1: ExperimentsWhich brings me to the end of The Time Traveller’s Almanac Part I: Experiments, edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, which was a very mixed bag of stories; some brilliant, and others absolute rubbish. This book is definitely worth getting hold of (and I actually have the bind-up of all four parts myself) for die-hard fans of time travel fiction, but I very much doubt that there’s anyone who’ll be thrilled with every story in the collection (particularly, I sense, in the case of this first volume, which is much more eclectic – hence the title “Experiments” – than the others seem to be). My own personal favourites were Another Story OR A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. Le Guin, and Hwang’s Billion Brilliant Daughters by Alice Sola Kim. [For my individual ratings of each story, see my review on goodreads.]3 stars

Marie Phillips//The Table of Less Valued KnightsThe Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips. A comic adventure with a backdrop of Arthurian mythology, following Sir Humphrey – once a Knight of the Round Table, but now relegated to the Table of Less Valued Knights – on a quirky, twist-filled quest to recover the kidnapped fiancé of a damsel in distress who shows up at Camelot a little too late to present her quest to a more prestigious knight. Also featuring: Elaine, the aforementioned (and secretive) damsel; Martha, a reluctant Queen and even more reluctant wife; Edwin, a delightfully incompetent villain; and Conrad, Humphrey’s half-giant squire. The plot was silly, but without going so far as to be ridiculous rather than humourous, and although it was slow to get started, it was ultimately quite satisfying. The real highlight, however, was in the character dynamics – in particular, I loved the relationship between Humphrey and Conrad, and later Martha as well.3 starsJames Patterson & Lisa Papademitriou//Homeroom DiariesHomeroom Diaries by James Patterson & Lisa Papademetriou. The diary of a high school outcast who’s just been released from a psychiatric ward after being abandoned by her mother… This book evoked quite mixed feelings from me, but since it was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for March, you can read all about why in my mini-review! 😉2 starsPeter V. Brett//The Daylight WarThe Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. The third book in the Demon Cycle, which I’ve been readalong-ing with Chloë. There was another prominent new POV character introduced in this book: Inevera, one of the more important side-characters from The Desert Spear… And I actually liked her (numerous) chapters a lot, though I still don’t like her as a character; Brett was able to explain a lot about why she is the way she is, without making me feel like I was being pushed to like her against my will (unlike Jardir’s chapters). This book was also a lot more consistently good than the last two, which were both awesome most of the time, but with significant bits that really bothered me. Which is not to say that this book was perfect, but I definitely feel like the series is getting better as it goes on.4 stars

Gene Wolfe//The Shadow of the TorturerThe Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe. The story of Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers, who finds himself in trouble with the Guild when he falls in love with one of their prisoners. This was… a strange book. I actually ended up liking it a lot, but there were a lot of things about it that bothered me as well: Wolfe’s made-up words were all over the place, and often quite confusing; the story was told in a very anecdotal way (particularly in the beginning), and often didn’t seem to be going anywhere; Severian’s views on love were particularly strange; and the book didn’t really have an ending at all – it just stopped. I’m definitely interested in reading more, but probably not too soon, as this one was quite tough to get through…3 stars

Susan Kaye Quinn//Third DaughterThird Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn. A steampunk adventure set in a fantasy world that’s inspired by India. The story follows Aniri, the third daughter of the Queen of Dharia, who – since she has little political influence – has always believed that she’ll be able to choose her own husband once she’s of age. As her birthday draws near, however, she is instead asked by her mother to accept the hand of Ash, the “barbarian” prince of Jungali, in order to prevent a war between the two countries. I went into this book expecting it to be a romance, and while there was definitely a strong romantic sub-plot, the actual bulk of this book dealt with Aniri’s attempts to discover the truth of Jungali’s mysterious weapon. The steampunk elements took me a little by surprise, as well, though – with the exception of the skyship – they were mostly relegated to the background, and not too noticeable… Overall, though, this was an incredibly fun story, and I really look forward to reading the rest of the series sometime soon. I’ve also written a full review of this book, which should be up in a few days (i.e. about a week late. :/ ).4 stars

The Chocolate Book Tag!

As usual, nobody asked me to do this tag – but I decided to do it anyway, since tomorrow is Easter Day, and everyone knows that the true meaning of Easter is chocolate (right? 😉 ). The Chocolate Book Tag was created by Faye from A Daydreamer’s Ramblings, and you can find the original on youtube (or her blog if you’d prefer a written version).

James Patterson & Lisa Papademitriou//Homeroom Diaries1) Dark chocolate – a book that covers a dark topic

The first one that comes to mind is Homeroom Diaries by James Patterson & Lisa Papademetriou, since it touches on a lot of dark topics (abandonment, mental illness, bullying, grief, suicide, amongst others), and I also just finished reading it. It’s not the greatest book, but I thought it dealt with the majority of these subjects quite well.

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On2) White chocolate – your favourite light-hearted / humourous read

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which is a new favourite of mine – I’m sure that I was grinning like a lunatic the whole time I was reading it! 😀

Renée Ahdieh//The Wrath & the Dawn3) Milk chocolate – a book that has a lot of hype that you’re dying to read

At the moment the book I most want to jump on the bandwagon for is The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh. The hype for this book started almost a year ago, but unfortunately it’s still too expensive for me to justify buying… 😦

Emma Mills//First & Then4) Chocolate with a caramel centre – a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while you were reading it

I pretty much turned to mush when I was reading First & Then by Emma Mills. Such a cute book! ❤

Rainbow Rowell//Kindred Spirits5) Wafer-free Kit-Kat – a book that surprised you lately

The most recent surprise was probably Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell, which I expected to like (since it is, after all, a Rainbow Rowell book), but not to love – I’ve never been much of a short story person, unless I’m already invested in the characters (as in the case of spin-off novellas). The ending of this one was pretty startling as well, in the best possible way.

Peter V. Brett//The Painted Man6) Snickers – a book that you are going nuts about

At the moment I’m really into The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett, which I’ve been readalong-ing with my friend Chloë for the last couple of months. It’s a high fantasy series set in a world where demons come up from a place called the Core every night and prey on humans, and (as of book three, The Daylight War, which we just finished) it’s only getting better as it goes on.

Tamora Pierce//Street Magic7) Hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows – the book you’d turn to for a comfort read

I feel like (i.e. know) I’ve said this a thousand times already, but my ultimate comfort read is Street Magic by Tamora Pierce. I also tend to listen to the audiobook of it a lot, since it’s really fantastic. 🙂

Rick Riordan//The Lightning Thief8) Box of chocolates – a series with a little something for everyone

Oh, dear; that’s a tall order! And, in fear of unoriginality, I can’t just say Harry Potter… 😉 So instead I’ll pick the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (and its sequel series, Heroes of Olympus!), which I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone to dislike. It’s got action, humour, romance (which I personally wasn’t a fan of, but which seems to be popular with most other readers), drama… the list goes on! I have so much love for these books~ ❤

February Wrap-Up

Another satisfying month of reading, and quite a few four-star books this time, particularly towards the end of the month… A lot of these were blind picks, too, so I’ve been pretty lucky! 😀 In total, I read 7 novels and 2 short stories in February; here’s what I thought of them:

Amy A. Bartol//Sea of StarsSea of Stars by Amy A. Bartol. The second book in the Kricket series, wherein Kricket and Trey find themselves (once again) on the run from the Alameeda clan. I liked this book, but the series is getting a bit same-y (which is probably not a good sign when I’m only on book two!), and Kricket’s overwhelming tendency to be good at everything, and incredibly beautiful, and somehow gain the undying love and loyalty of everyone she meets (okay, I’m exaggerating on that last one) garnered quite a few eye-rolls. Bartol seems to be pushing the fact that she can’t swim as her major character flaw, which does not a relatable heroine make. ^^’ Again, I am still enjoying this series, but I’ll probably leave off for a while before reading Darken the Stars (despite Sea of Stars‘ not-all-that-suspenseful cliffhanger ending).2 stars

Julie Berry//All the Truth that's in MeAll the Truth that’s in Me by Julie Berry. A short crime novel that follows a girl named Judith, who went missing as a teenager, only to reappear two years later with her tongue cut out so that she couldn’t say what had happened to her. This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for February, and as such I’ve already written a review – you can find it here.3 starsHimself in Anachron by Cordwainer Smith (from The Time Traveller’s Almanac). The story of a man who takes his wife with him on his search for something called the Knot of Time as their honeymoon. And, of course, things go horribly wrong. This story was more about the emotion of what was happening than the science of it, which I appreciated, and the story itself was both interesting and inventive. One of the better entries that I’ve read so far from this anthology.
3 stars

Some Desperado by Joe Abercrombie (from Dangerous Women). A short story about a highway(wo)man who is on the run from her former associates, who have betrayed her. It had something of a Wild West feel to it, though there was a distinct lack of guns (the characters are all armed with swords, knives, and bows and arrows), so I’m not sure whether it was meant to, or if my imagination just ran away with the word “desperado”. Well-written, and I liked the main character (Shy) a lot, but it was a bit too bloody for my taste, unfortunately.3 starsNeil Gaiman//StardustStardust by Neil Gaiman. A romance between a man who is half faerie, and a woman who is actually a fallen star. Neil Gaiman’s prose is beautiful, and I particularly loved the way he portrayed the land of Faerie and its inhabitants. The beginning was a little bit slow-going, but everything that happened afterwards more than made up for that… The edition I was reading was also illustrated by Charles Vess, and his art suited the story perfectly – it really emphasised the simultaneous beauty and danger of Faerie; both enchanting and at times incredibly gruesome. I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can find here.5 starsMorgan Rhodes//Gathering DarknessGathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes. The third book in the Falling Kingdoms series, in which things escalate, there is a great deal of duplicity, and my ship finally sails! 😀 What to say about this book without spoiling it? Hmm… Well, Magnus is rapidly becoming my favourite character in the series, and I’m really intrigued by the direction Lucia’s character seemed to be taking towards the end of the book. I still love Cleo, though the way she’s choosing to deal with her situation makes me supremely uncomfortable – as manipulation of one’s supposed friends tends to, so that’s not really all that much of a surprise. There were also some very interesting developments with Nic, though I still miss the happy-go-lucky Nic of the first book… 😦 Also, I take back everything I said (or at least felt) in my review of Rebel Spring about how Jonas was growing on me. He’s not. His plans are all ridiculous, and how anyone thinks he’s a serious threat is beyond me; the fact that girls in the book seem to be falling in love with him left and right is becoming extremely annoying. 😡 That said, this series is still getting better as it goes on, which is a trend that I hope will continue.4 starsPeter V. Brett//The Desert SpearThe Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett. The second book in the Demon Cycle, in which we continue to follow our heroes – Arlen, Leesha & Rojer – in their efforts to save the world from corelings. There was a new major protagonist in this book, too, who I remember despising in The Painted Man: Jardir! About the first third of the book is taken up with his perspective, which I didn’t initially like all that much; it was interesting, but also quite disturbing. So I wasn’t a huge fan of the first part of the book, but once Arlen & co. were brought back into the spotlight, things got seriously epic (and often hilarious), and the book ended on a definite high point. I’m looking forward to reading The Daylight War soon (i.e. for next month’s readalong).4 starsE.K. Johnston//A Thousand NightsA Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston. A new retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, in which an unnamed (and that’s an interesting theme in this book) protagonist tricks the demon king Lo-Melkhiin – who has killed all his previous wives – into picking her, when he comes to her village to choose a new bride, in an effort to save her sister. And then, much to her surprise, Lo-Melkhiin is not able to kill her. I’d heard mixed things about this book before picking it up, and although I liked it a lot, I can also see why others might not. There is almost no romance, which I didn’t expect; most of the book is taken up with the main character’s thoughts and memories, about her husband and her sister, whom she has visions about; and the plot is so slow-building that the story’s climax really sneaks up on you. These were all positive points for me – I loved learning about her family and culture, and the glimpses we got of Lo-Melkhiin were such that a stronger romantic sub-plot would have seemed out of place… And I do love a good slow-burn story, even though A Thousand Nights is actually quite a short book. And the writing was also beautiful, which certainly helped.4 starsLaura Dockrill//LoraliLorali by Laura Dockrill. A standalone paranormal novel, about Lorali – a young mermaid who makes herself human – and Rory, the teenage boy who finds her lying naked on the shore after her transformation. And pirates. Lots of pirates. 🙂 There’s definitely a visible The Little Mermaid influence, as well, but it’s certainly not a straight-up retelling. As for my thoughts on the story itself – it was wonderful. Rory and Lorali were wel-developed, likeable and sympathetic leads, and much of the story was also told from the perspective of the sea itself, which was interesting (and very well executed). I wasn’t initially sold on the pirates, but they definitely grew on me, and I really, really loved the portrayal of Rory’s friend Flynn and his grandfather Iris. The plot was also surprisingly action-packed (in the best possible way), and it was fascinating trying to piece together the mystery of Lorali’s past, and of all the Mer – which was revealed at the perfect pace. (This was also the first book I picked up for the Under-Hyped Readathon, and it definitely got me off to a great start!)4 stars

[EDIT (3/5/2017): Changed rating of Sea of Stars from 3/5 to 2/5 after finishing the last book in the trilogy & thinking on the series as a whole.]