October & November Wrap-Up

Some more really great reads in the last couple of months (including what  might be a new favourite)! 😁 I was a little bit slumpy at the end of October/beginning of November, so there’s not a huge number of books here, but quality-wise, it’s been a really great autumn! 🍁🍁🍁

BOOKS I REVIEWED

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OTHER BOOKS I READ

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater.

A sequel/companion novel to the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, following Isabel and Cole as they attempt to put their lives back together, and sustain a relationship. I don’t remember the original trilogy super-well at this point (it’s been literally years, and I could definitely do with a re-read), but despite (or maybe because of) her general antagonism towards the protagonists, Isabel was always my favourite character. And happily, I still loved her in Sinner! Which is a good thing, as it’s a pretty character-driven book.

The story mainly revolves around Cole moving to LA in order to be closer to Isabel, and the chaos that follows him wherever he goes getting between them, which I might have found annoying if it’d been written by a less skilled writer (or about characters that I cared less for)… but as it is, Sinner was a pretty enjoyable ride; the romance was great, the conflicts realistic, and the characters compelling… and it was really lovely to be back in this world. 😊

Kulti by Mariana Zapata.

Successful soccer player Sal Casillas is astonished to find that her former idol Reiner Kulti is about to become her team’s new coach… and seems determined to be a complete dick to her. I loved this book so much (and must now devour every other book Mariana Zapata has written)! It’s a very slow-burn enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance, with two great lead characters, and enough going on beyond the romance that I was never bored (which tends to be a problem for me with romances), even though it’s a pretty long book. 💕

Lusus Naturae by Alison Goodman. [SHORT STORY]

A quick story from the world of The Dark Days Club, which re-tells Lady Helen and Lord Carlston’s first meeting, but from Carlston’s perspective. I liked this; it was quick, and a little nostalgic, but Carlston’s thoughts and feelings upon meeting Helen weren’t anything unexpected, and I don’t feel like the story really added anything to the series.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes.

The first book in the Falling Kingdoms series, which centres around three kingdoms on the brink of war, and the search for an ancient magic that will restore the continent’s dying land. Re-reading this wasn’t part of my reading plans for November, but I’m glad to have picked it up anyway; I kind of hate the storyline of this series, as well as the world and most of the characters, but somehow it’s weirdly addictive? Cleo and Magnus (who are two of the three primary characters), though not at their best in this book, are definite bright spots of the series, and it was fun to revisit their beginnings – even though my general opinion of this book hasn’t changed.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

The two Owens sisters grow up under suspicion of witchcraft, and desperate to escape their hometown – but life away from their childhood home comes with unexpected challenges, and the more that they try to stay apart, the more that they find that they need each other.

I liked the almost dream-like writing in this, and found both Sally and Gillian (as well as Sally’s younger daughter Kylie) to be compelling leads, but wasn’t hugely invested in either the plot or the romances, unfortunately… The book seemed to wander kind of aimlessly through the sisters’ lives without coming to any real point until near the end, and all the love interests were introduced really suddenly, and neither they nor their relationships were ever really fleshed out much. I found myself wondering if this book is only so famous because the film (which I’ve heard is very different from the book) was very popular? Because I liked it, but didn’t think it was really anything special… And I probably won’t be revisiting this world for the sequel/prequels.

Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Grover Gardner; SHORT STORY COLLECTION]

A collection of three of Miles’ adventures, framed by an original story for this collection in which Miles recovers from bone-replacement surgery – an important episode in his life, even if the tale in itself isn’t the most gripping. The three short stories were all ones I’d read before, but I enjoyed revisiting them a lot, and bumped up my individual ratings for both The Borders of Infinity (which I was much more invested in this time around), and The Mountains of Mourning (which I honestly thought I’d given five stars already… but apparently not). Labyrinth is my least favourite of the bunch, but still an entertaining read (/listen).

Red at Night by Katie McGarry. [SHORT STORY]

A quick story from the Pushing the Limits universe, in which the popular Jonah begins to spend time at the graveyard after a traumatic accident, only to find that it’s “Trash Can Girl” Stella’s favourite spot. This was cute, and I liked both the main characters, but it was too short, and moved to quickly for me to really feel like I’d got to know either of them, or (consequently) for me to get invested in their future. My favourite scenes: their first graveyard-talk, and when Stella took Jonah to volunteer with her.

Eve of Man by Giovanna & Tom Fletcher.

In a dystopian near-future where the birth rate for girls has drastically declined, Eve – the last girl to be born – is humanity’s only hope for survival. No rating for this one; I DNFd it almost halfway through, because whoever came up with the plan to save humanity was clearly an idiot, and I was so frequently reminded of the fact that I was unable to enjoy any other part of the book. I’ve been informed (by a friend who did read the whole thing) that some of my issues with the plot are addressed in the second half, but regardless, I have no plans of picking this up again.

The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk. [AUDIOBOOK; Narrator: Moira Quirk]

Beatrice plans to restore her family’s fortunes by summoning a greater spirit of luck and becoming an assistant to her father, while her family is banking on her making an advantageous marriage – which would mean sealing away her magic until widowhood. But when she meets Ianthe Lavan (handsome, charming, eligible, and – most astonishingly of all – understanding of her plight), her choice becomes that much more difficult.

This book was barely even on my radar this year, but I’m so glad that I decided to pick it up; if not an all-time favourite, it’s definitely one of my favourites of the year! 💕 I don’t want to say too much here, as I’m planning to write a full review soon, but my favourite thing about The Midnight Bargain was the gradual shift in so many of Beatrice’s relationships, from mercenary to respectful, then to genuinely affectionate. And there were so many wonderful characters (my favourite was Ysbeta, though)!

The New Year’s Resolution Tag

It’s getting a little late in the month for Resolutions, but it’s still January, so what the heck. 😛 And it’s a tag; I like tags, as you’ve all probably figured out by now. 😉 This tag was co-created by Emily at Embuhlee liest and Shivii at Brown Eyed Musings, and I was tagged to do it by Chloë at SSJTimeLord and Her Books – thanks, Chloë! 😀

And now, on with the questions!

bookshelves1) Get in shape: Name a book that doesn’t quite fit on your shelf correctly.

The illustrated edition of Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. It’s too tall to fit on any of my shelves except my comics shelf (which is already full), so it’s been propped up against my TBR bookcase since I bought it, which doesn’t feel like an appropriate place for it at all! 😦

Elizabeth Gaskell//North & South2) Eat healthily: Name a book you feel was good for you to read.

North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Not only did I really love this book, but it also reminded me that reading classics didn’t have to be a chore – and I do sometimes need to be reminded of that, since they can be quite difficult to get into, even when they’re really good.

3) Read more: Name a book you keep telling yourself to read but haven’t yet.

Maggie Stiefvater//SinnerThere are hundreds of them, but the one that sticks out the most to me is probably Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater. I spent ages waiting for the paperback release, so that it would match the rest of the series, and that whole time, I was really, really eager to finally read it. Then I got it, and it’s been sitting on my TBR shelf, unread, ever since. Why? Not a clue. ❓

Tamora Pierce//Street Magic4) Quit smoking: Name a book you kept going back to even though you had finished it.

Street Magic by Tamora Pierce. I’ve read this several times, but it’s the audiobook that I keep going back to over and over again. It’s masterfully done, and I tend to switch it on whenever I feel like listening to something that isn’t music; it never gets old! 😀 Street Magic is also my #1 comfort read.

Patrick Ness//The Rest of Us Just Live Here5) Save more money: Name a book you got for a really good price.

Hmm… Recently, I got the hardback edition of The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness for just £5; The Book People has some really great deals… 🙂

6) Be more organised: How do you organize your bookshelf?

By genre, nowadays. I used to organise it alphabetically, but it just wasn’t practical in terms of space (which I kept running out of)… 😦 One day, when I have more bookcases, I hope to arrange them alphabetically again.

Kate Beaton//The Princess & the Pony7) Be punctual: What’s the shortest time and longest time it took you to read a book?

George R.R. Martin//A Dance with DragonsWell, it depends on the book. Books like The Princess & the Pony by Kate Beaton, or The Fox & the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith I can read in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, it took me several months to get through A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

8) Go out more: What book made you isolate yourself from the outside world?

George R.R. Martin//A Game of ThronesThe A Song of Ice & Fire series by George R.R. Martin! (Well, most of them.) I read the first four books in this series in rapid succession while I was on holiday in Skye a couple of years ago, and thoroughly (and vocally) resented every moment I was forced to spend away from them. 😳

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On9) Be unique: What was your favourite book of 2015?

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff//IlluminaeEither Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, or Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff! I talked a lot about why in my 2015 favourites post. 🙂

10) Be more personal: What book are you waiting for most this year?

Den Patrick//The Girl on the Liar's ThroneAt the moment, most of my excitement is for The Girl on the Liar’s Throne by Den Patrick (which is, thankfully, coming out in just a few days). The last book in the series left off on such a tense note that I’ve been dying to know what happens next since the moment I finished it!

David Mitchell//Cloud Atlas11) Really, resolutions?: What book do you promise to read next this year?

Haha. I’ve written a whole list of them – which you can read here – but of the books on it, the one I most want to read soon is probably Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

Thematic Recs: Wintery Books

Winter seems to have finally set in, and in true winter style, it’s dark by the time I finish work, and my whole family have come down with nasty colds. 😦 In celebration of the season, however, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favourite Wintery reads. Which is to say, not necessarily books that are set during winter, but books that have that chilly, shivery quality to them, that makes you want to stay inside and huddle up by a warm fire, and just keep reading~! 😀

C.S. Lewis//The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe1) The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. A winter classic! In this story, when the Pevensie children first visit Narnia, they find that it’s been cursed by the White Witch, so that it’s always winter, but never Christmas! Naturally, this is something that needs to be rectified. 😛

Maggie Stiefvater//Shiver2) The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. An unusual werewolf story, where, instead of transforming on the full moon, Sam – one of the two main characters – and his pack become wolves whenever the weather gets too cold.

Paullina Simons//The Bronze Horseman3) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. For those of you who want something a bit more adult, I’d definitely recommend the first book in this amazing trilogy, which follows the life of a young Russian girl, Tatiana, and her lover Alexander, through the years of World War II, and, in particular, the Siege of Leningrad. This book mostly gave me the shivers because it’s so emotional and powerfully written, but a significant part of the book is also set during a very bleak winter.

Keith Austin//Snow, White4) Snow, White by Keith Austin. This book follows a young boy – John – who’s living in London when it’s hit by a freak snowstorm, and a pack of mysterious wolves is creeping steadily closer. A really great, atmospheric book, for slightly younger readers.

John Green, Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson//Let It Snow5) Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle. And last up is something a bit more cheerful than the rest of the books on this list! Let It Snow is a collection of three (connected) short stories, all set in (and around) the same small town. My personal favourite was the last of the three (The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle), but they’re all really cute, and come together in the best possible way.

Creatures of the Night Book Tag

This tag was originally created by Katytastic, and I wasn’t tagged to do it, but I thought it looked fun anyway – and since it’s Halloween, now feel like the perfect time to be celebrating some of my favourite supernatural creatures~ 😀 For those who don’t know, for this tag I’ll be picking (one of) my favourite books that feature each different type of creature (though I won’t always be telling you which character is the creature in question, for spoilery reasons). Enjoy!

[I tag: Chloë from SSJTimeLord and Her Books, and Panda from Panda’s Books.]

Rainbow Rowell//Carry On1) Vampire – Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

A new favourite book of mine, which I am now taking every opportunity to mention. There are a few vampires that appear in this book, but the most important of them is Baz, the main character’s roommate, who is constantly (unconvincingly) denying what he is, since acknowledging it will probably result in him getting expelled.

Maggie Stiefvater//Shiver2) Werewolf – The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater.

Probably the best werewolf series I’ve ever read (though I know a lot of people have problems with it ’cause it’s a bit insta-love-y), featuring an unusual twist on werewolf lore, where they actually transform because of the temperature, rather than the phases of the moon. Sam is the most adorable (and least spoilery) werewolf in the cast, but there are plenty more great ones that are introduced later on, too!

Peach-Pit//Zombie-Loan3) Zombie – Zombie-Loan by Peach-Pit.

The main character in this bizarre manga series has the unusual ability to see how close people are to dying when she looks at them without her glasses on – there will be a line around their neck, which gets darker and darker as they get closer to death… And one day she catches a glimpse of two of her schoolmates, and realises that they’re already dead. 😮 Thankfully for me (I’m really not a zombie fan, generally), the zombies in this series aren’t the traditional sort. But they still count!

Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada//Ghost Hunt vol. 14) Ghost – Ghost Hunt by Fuyumi Ono & Shiho Inada.

You can probably tell from the name that this series is about hunting ghosts, and it can be pretty chilling in places. Definitely a ghost story done right. There’s one less antagonistic ghost who shows up on a fairly regular basis, however, who’s one of my favourite characters in the series (and whose identity I will definitely not be revealing here, because spoilers).

Sally Green//Half Bad5) Witch – The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green.

This series is all about a hidden magical society that’s split between “good” White Witches and “bad” Black Witches, who almost never mix except in order to hunt each other. Interestingly, though, the main character Nathan, is half White Witch and half Black Witch, and therefore distrusted by both communities. The characters in this are all really great, but one of my favourite things about the series is its world-building.

Jodi Lynn Anderson//Tiger Lily6) Fairy – Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

I debated choosing the Throne of Glass series for this one, as I haven’t read many fairy books, but then I remembered Peter Pan and his tiny companion Tinker Bell! And although I’ve read the original book, I thought I’d mention Tiger Lily here, as it’s fantastic, and Anderson’s portrayal of Tink is one of the best things about the book. Tinker Bell is the narrator of this re-telling, and it’s really fascinating to see how being a fairy effects her outlook on the events of the story.

Sally Slater//Paladin7) Demon – Paladin by Sally Slater.

A book I only discovered recently, but which was surprisingly enjoyable. The main character in this book is training to be a Paladin – a warrior trained to fight demons. There’s also another character introduced early on in the book whose half-demon lineage plays a huge part in the story.

Cassandra Clare//Clockwork Angel8) Angel – The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

Most of the characters in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter books are part-angel, and there are even a couple of full-angels that pop up here and there in the series. The Infernal Devices trilogy, though, is my favourite of the lot. 🙂

Brian K. Vaughan//Saga vol. 59) Alien – Saga by Brian K. Vaughan.

Saga is an epic space odyssey in graphic novel form, and (since it’s set in another galaxy) pretty much every character in it counts as an alien to us. The reason I’m picking it here, however, is because of the diversity of its cast: There are an astounding number of different species that have shown up over the course of the series so far (and we’re still only five volumes in!). And also because it’s great. Really, really great.

Ransom Riggs//Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children10) Super-powered human – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

I haven’t read a huge number of super-power books (or, at least, not ones that don’t qualify their super-powers as some kind of magic), but one interesting one is the Miss Peregrine’s series, which has a cast of “Peculiars” – humans with strange powers such as floating, controlling fire, and so on. At one point we even meet a girl with a huge hole trough her abdomen… 😕

August & September Haul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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