January & February Wrap-Up

My reading year didn’t exactly get off to a great start (at least in terms of quantity); I only managed to finish two books in January, both of which I wrote full reviews for, which is why I decided to hold off for another month on posting this wrap-up. February was a lot more promising. 😊 In total, over the last two months, I got through four excellent novels, two graphic novels, and an audiobook! (I re-started my Audible subscription, and it’s amazing! 💕 Though I’m finding it very difficult to be patient while I wait for my next credit…)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. A novel about a young woman called Rosemary, who one day came home after staying with her grandparents to find that her sister Fern was gone. The book deals mainly with how what happened with Fern affected their family over the years… This was such a fascinating story! I really wanted to write a review of it, but wasn’t sure how to go about it without spoiling a plot twist that really makes this book what it is. But even beyond the twist, this is an excellent novel; I really enjoyed Rosemary’s perspective, and her relationships with her parents and siblings, and Fern’s part in the story was heartbreaking in places. 😥 The non-linear narrative greatly increased the effectiveness of the story as well, and I had a great time trying to puzzle out everything that had happened to Rosemary’s family, while she herself danced around the subject, leaving little breadcrumbs for us to follow.Grayson Volume 1: Agents of Spyral by Tim Seeley & Tom King. The first in a DCU-based comic series, wherein Dick Grayson (a.k.a. Nightwing, a.k.a. the first Robin) is undercover in the mysterious organisation Spyral, and reporting to Batman on their activities. Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if I were up-to-date on the Nightwing series (which I believe this is supposed to follow on from), but as it was I found the plotline pretty incoherent, the characters (including Dick) boring, and the artwork not compelling enough to make up for the book’s flaws… I was initially quite excited by the appearance of Helena Bertinelli, but sadly in the New 52, she seems to have traded in her Huntress persona to become the bland Spyral agent known as Matron. 😑 It’s a shame, because my fondness for the Robins (all of them) makes me predisposed to like their solo titles, but doubt I’ll be continuing with this one.Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce. The second book in the Immortals quartet, which is part of Pierce’s Tortall universe – wherein Daine is called upon by her old wolf friends to negotiate with the local humans on their behalf, and discovers a sinister plot against the king and queen while she’s there. The Immortals is a familiar (and beloved) story to me, but this was my first time listening to the audiobook version of it – which was excellent! The voice acting really brought all the characters to life, and although the difference in speed between Pierce’s narration and the rest of the cast’s speech took was a little jarring at first, I got used to it quickly – and (on principle) I do like it when authors narrate their own books… 😊

BOOKS I ALREADY POSTED REVIEWS FOR:

 
 

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Burn, Rewrite, Reread

Kiss, Marry, Kill was always the playground game at school that I was too embarrassed to play, but as torturous as it is to consider burning a wonderful book (or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, reread a terrible one), it’s still less excruciating than having to talk about – 😮 – boys. That said, I’ve been looking forward to this post ever since I was tagged, since it looked super-fun! 😀 I’m not sure who originally came up with this idea, but I was tagged by the wonderful Eve Messenger, whose post you should definitely check out, too! 🙂

Now, onto the tough decisions!

Rules:

  • Randomly choose 3 books you’ve read. (Use the ‘random’ option on your Goodreads “read” shelf.)
  • For each group of three books, decide which book you’d burn, rewrite, or reread.
  • Repeat until you complete three rounds (or five!).

ROUND 1

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Diana Wynne Jones//Howl's Moving Castle Hans Magnus Enzensberger//The Number Devil

BURN: Howl’s Moving Castle! 😥 This book is so awesome, but I just… love the other two more…

REWRITE: The Number Devil, I guess, though I don’t know what I’d change… (This was a really tough round, in case you couldn’t tell.)

REREAD: Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone is too perfect to change in any way, and I’m always up for a reread! 😀

ROUND 2

Trudy Brasure//In Consequence Stormy Smith//Bound by Duty Maria V. Snyder//Assassin Study

BURN: Bound by Duty. There was very little about this book that I found redeemable – as you’ll see if you read my review! 😉

REWRITE: In Consequence could stand to have a bit less fluff, and a bit more plot…

REREAD: Assassin Study. I gave this book 3 stars, so I must’ve liked it, but I can’t actually remember anything that happened in it.

ROUND 3

April Genevieve Tucholke//Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea James Patterson//The Angel Experiment Tamora Pierce//Wolf-Speaker

BURN: Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea, which was interesting, but not quite what I was hoping it would be…

REWRITE: The Angel Experiment, maybe? I actually really loved this book, but not as much as Wolf-Speaker.

REREAD: Wolf-Speaker is almost perfection; I’d be willing to re-read it at any time. 🙂

Tagging:

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.

The Bookish Alphabet Tag

This tag was created by Mariana at fireheartbooks, and I was tagged by the wonderful Loreva from La Book Dreamer, whose blog you should all definitely check out! The goal is to pick out a book for every letter of the alphabet, and the only rule is that you need to own (or to have previously owned and read) every book on the list. You also don’t need to include articles, e.g. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess would count for “C” rather than “A”.

So, without further ado:

MY BOOKISH ALPHABET

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Daughter of Storms by Louise Cooper

Emma by Jane Austen

Fire by Kristin Cashore

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Half Wild by Sally Green

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

River Daughter by Jane Hardstaff

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

xxxHolic by CLAMP

Young Blood by Meg Cabot

Zombie-Loan by Peach-Pit

Phew. That was a lot of books! ^^’ But I’m pleased to say that I have read all of these books, and I still own them all except for Unravel Me, which I gave to one of my cousins, and River Daughter, which I donated (it was a good book, I just couldn’t imagine myself reading it again). And I did have to break out my manga collection for “X” and “Z” – something I’d been hoping I wouldn’t have to do – but I regret nothing. 😎

I tag:

 

Thematic Recs: Horses

Thematic Recs is back! It’s certainly been a while… 😳 I’m actually going pony trekking in Iceland tomorrow, which is super-exciting, but also means I’m not going to be able to reply to comments/etc. for a while (this, and the next couple of posts are all written in advance and scheduled). Anyway, since I’m getting back into horse-riding again, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite horse-y books! 😀

K.M. Peyton//Flambards1) The Flambards series by K.M. Peyton. The story of a girl called Christina, who goes to live with her cousins in the countryside, because her uncle is hoping to use her inheritance to end their financial troubles. I read the first book, Flambards, as a set text in school, when I was 11, and I really loved it. The second book in the series (The Edge of the Cloud) isn’t really a horse book, but Christina does a lot of riding in the other three! (A lot of the people I’ve talked to aren’t too keen on this series, because it contains fox hunting, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a major theme – especially after the first book.)

Elizabeth Goudge//The Little White Horse2) The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Another story about a young orphaned girl going to live in the country with her cousin – this time the protagonist is thirteen-year-old Maria Merryweather – but that’s really where the similarities to Flambards end… When she gets to her cousin’s house, she finds out that there’s a curse on her family, which has caused significant damage to their relationships with one another. Throughout the story, Maria catches glimpses of an apparition of the little white horse from the title, and it plays an important role in her uncovering the secrets of Moonacre Manor. This book was made into a film in 2008, with the title The Secret of Moonacre, and the adaptation is also worth watching, though it’s quite different from the book.

Tamora Pierce//Wild Magic3) The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce. A four-book series that follows a girl called Daine, who has wild magic (which lets her talk to, transform into, and heal animals, as well as some other things that I’m probably forgetting…). When we first meet Daine, she’s travelling alone, except for her pony Cloud, who she introduces as both her best friend and her only remaining family. In general, Tamora Pierce writes her animal characters really well (and the Protector of the Small quartet in particular has some great horse characters), but of all of them, I think The Immortals is the most “horse-hearted”~ 😉

C.S. Lewis//The Horse and His Boy4) The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. The third Chronicles of Narnia book, though it’s actually more of a companion novel, as the series’ main protagonists only make brief appearances. Instead, this book follows Shasta, an orphan who teams up with the talking Narnian horse, Bree, in order to escape from the land of Calormen. It’s set during the time-skip at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while the Pevensie siblings are all ruling Narnia as grown ups, and before they find their way back through the wardrobe to England.

#CRUSHYOURTBR: Wrap-Up

The readathon is now sadly over, but I had a good three reading days, and I think I did quite well overall! I managed to finish three of the five books on my TBR, as well as one other that I wasn’t planning on reading for #CRUSHYOURTBR, and I also managed to get through a couple more chapters of a fourth book from my list. 😀 Here’s a breakdown of the books I read this weekend:

DAY 1 (161 pages)

Terry Pratchett//MortMort by Terry Pratchett (the final 190 pages). The story of a boy called Mort who gets hired as an apprentice to Death, and on his first day taking on the duties of Death by himself, he accidentally saves the life of someone who was meant to die, which has some very bizarre consequences on the Discworld. This book was hilarious, as all Terry Pratchett’s books that I’ve read have been. The main characters – Mort, Death, his daughter Ysabell and his servant Albert, the Princess Keli, and the wizard Cutwell – were all brilliant to read about, and the story and setting were delightfully weird.4 stars

Nawat by Tamora Pierce (71 pages, from the Tortall and Other Lands anthology). A follow-up novella to the Daughter of the Lioness duology, wherein Aly gives birth to triplets, and she and Nawat (a crow who’s taken human form) try to raise them according to both their human and crow heritages. This was probably my favourite story in the whole anthology, despite the fact that I wasn’t as keen on the Daughter of the Lioness books as I have been on some of Tamora Pierce’s other works… Nevertheless, it was a really cute and funny read.4 stars

DAY 2 (584 pages)

The Dragon’s Tale by Tamora Pierce (62 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). This one is set sometime after the events of The Immortals quartet, and follows Kitten, the baby dragon that Daine adopted in Wild Magic, as she tries to befriend a young homeless woman who’s been cast out of the nearby village with her infant son, because the villagers are afraid of her magic. I wasn’t a huge fan of Kitten’s voice in this, but otherwise I thought it was very well done. Fans of The Immortals quartet will undoubtedly like it a lot, but I don’t think it was quite as good as Nawat3 stars

At this point, I picked up The Harlequin, and I managed to get through 80 pages of it, but since this series isn’t exactly safe for work, I decided not to take it with me while I was at work all afternoon, then babysitting. 😛 So…

Lost by Tamora Pierce (41 pages, fromTortall and Other Lands). The last of the Tortall-universe stories in the collection, Lost didn’t feature any familiar characters from her previous books, but instead focused on a young but talented mathematician called Adria, living with her abusive father, who one day meets a darking called Lost. This story was really sweet (darkings are so cute!), and all the characters were very relatable – it would’ve been nice if Adria had done a bit more to try to save herself, but it was really great seeing Lost try to help her regain confidence in herself and her abilities.4 stars

Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty//Batgirl/Robin: Year OneBatgirl / Robin: Year One by Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty (the final 374 pages). The origin stories of both Dick Grayson (the first Robin) and Barbara Gordon (the first Batgirl). Dick’s story involves a plot by Two-Face (with some input from Shrike, of the League of Assassins), while Barbara has to face off against Killer Moth and Firefly, but both are really engrossing – fast-paced and well-thought out, with great art and character development. I liked the Batgirl comic a little better than the Robin one (which probably only really deserved 4 stars), but they were both excellent.5 stars

Time of Proving by Tamora Pierce (9 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). A very short story about a girl travelling in the desert, who meets a wounded bull-man and decides to teach him how to survive in the wild. This was an interesting story, and I liked the characters a lot, but it was just much too short, and would really have benefitted from having the world a bit more fleshed-out…3 starsPlain Magic by Tamora Pierce (18 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). Another snapshot of a story, this time about a girl living in a town that’s about to be attacked by a dragon, and how she meets a woman who has magic with cloth and thread. This was a little more substantial than Time of Proving, so I was able to get a bit more into it – it reminded me a lot of Sandry, from Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic books, though I know they’re not actually connected… 😛4 stars

DAY 3 (242 pages)

Mimic by Tamora Pierce (42 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). The story of a young shepherd girl who finds a strange lizard-like creature that can mimic other animals, and nurses it back to health. This was one of the anthology’s stronger stories – the characters were likeable and well-developed, and I got emotionally invested enough that the ending made me quite sad (though it’s not a sad story overall). I’d definitely like to see more from this universe!4 stars

Laurell K. Hamilton//The HarlequinThe Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton (the final 104 pages). Anita and co. are sent a white mask, which means that the Harlequin (the vampires’ equivalent to the bogeyman, but real) are watching them. And things escalate from there. I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to read this book! 😡 I think I’ve been around halfway through it for about three years or so, so I was pretty surprised that I still remembered what was going on (& therefore, thankfully, I didn’t need to re-start it). And reading it really brought back just how much I love most of the characters in this series (though, just for the record, I still think there are way too many of them…) It’s such a shame that, story-wise the books have gone so far downhill – there was a plot in The Harlequin, but about half of the book was still taken up with all Anita’s relationship issues. (And sex. Lots and lots of sex. Apparently I was right in the middle of a sex scene when I last put this down, so that made for an interesting place to start… 😳 ). I still don’t know if I’m going to read any more of this series, but if I do, then I’ll definitely be picking them up at the library rather than buying them…3 stars

Huntress by Tamora Pierce (26 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). A story set in modern-day New York, about a girl who gets into huge trouble while trying to fit in with the popular crowd at her school. The real world isn’t something Tamora Pierce usually writes about, but there was a little magic in this, in the form of a goddess who shows up at the end. It was also rather more violent than most of what I’ve read of her work, though I still quite liked it… 🙂

3 stars

Testing by Tamora Pierce (24 pages, from Tortall and Other Lands). This is the last of the short stories in the collection, and has no fantasy elements at all, much to my surprise! 😮 It tells the story of a group of girls in a group home, who pull pranks in order to scare off their new housemothers, and of one particular housemother who manages to surprise them. I didn’t think it was a bad story, exactly, but it did drag rather, and it felt a lot longer than the 24 pages that it actually was. It apparently drew partly on some of Tamora Pierce’s own experiences as a housemother, and I appreciated the brief notes section that came before it in the book…

2 stars

Lastly, I picked up The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud in the last few hours of Sunday, but I only managed to get through 46 pages, so I guess I’ll be finishing that in the next few days…