The Boundless Review

  • Author: Kenneth Oppel
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Historical/Magic Realism
  • No. of page: 332
  • Dates read: 12.05.19 – 15.05.19
  • Rating: 2 stars
  • Challenge: ONTD Challenge May Theme “A book set in a country you’ve never been to”. (Canada)

I had a lot of hope for this book. I had only recently added it onto my TBR list and happened upon it while in the library. This book, to me, had so much going for it but it just lacked in execution.

Plot: When Will Everett boards The Boundless he expects the ride of his life – not a fast route to death. But when the key to the train’s secret cargo falls into his possession he finds himself hunted by ruthless killers. As the great train hurtles across the country he will need all his wits to elude his pursuers – and keep himself alive. (Goodreads)

The overall writing was quite boring, I understand it needs to be easy as this is aimed at a more younger audience but the writing could have been more exciting! This book to me felt like it was a middle grade novel trying to be a YA novel. One thing I did enjoy with the writing was that it covered a lot of deep-rooted issues like racism, colonisation and sexism which I felt was handled well but then on the flip side the character does black face and is trying to pass off as Indian in order to not be recognised by the villain and that made me feel uncomfortable.

The book tackled with a lot of genres; historical fiction, fantasy and magic realism. While I normally enjoy a mismatch of genres this felt all over the place for me. I guess it was meant to play with the question of “what is magic?” and “is it magic or just an illusion?” but I don’t think it was executed that well.

I love stories set on trains. I think it’s a really interesting setting for a novel and the description of the different carriages was fun and varied, what I expect from a middle grade novel. I loved the imagination!

The characters were fun and slightly layered which was enjoyable and I loved going on the journey with them. Will, as a main character was fine, but you stay for the secondary characters as they bought more personality to the table. My favourite character would have to be Maren, a self-assured female character that had many different sides to her. I would have preferred if she was the protagonist of the story. She was the more interesting of the two.

The next book I will be reviewing is Viper by Bex Hogan. A book I obtained from the Fairyloot March Box. I have not had great luck with the books from the Fairyloot packages so I am hoping to enjoy this book but I am a bit worried.

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The Girl in the Tower Review

  • Author: Katherine Arden
  • Series: Winternight Trilogy #2
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 346 pages
  • Dates read: 07.05.19 – 10.05.19
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels and ONTD Challenge May Theme “A book set in a country you’ve never been to. (Russia)”

I mean what can I say!

When I read The Bear and the Nightingale last year, I felt underwhelmed and I didn’t really have the desire to pick up the next book BUT I am so happy that I did!

This book was, by far, better than the first novel and it expanded on what I liked from the first novel but elevated it and made it better.

Firstly, I was so much more invested in Vasya’s story this time around. I found her a bit annoying in the first book but this time I fully understand who she is and what she stands for. I related to her on such a deep level and I really wanted to see her succeed and live the life she wants to lead. Her character development was amazing!

I loved how action-packed this story was. The scenes which involved fighting were so exhilarating to read about and I found myself on the edge of my seat. I felt the stakes were a lot higher this time around and it made the plot incredibly engaging. You didn’t know what was going to happen or where the plot was going to twist and turn next and it was incredibly satisfying. 

Arden’s prose was so beautifully written and she really encompassed what it would feel like to live in medieval Russia. The way she writes about winter is amazing! I also really enjoyed the more formal kind of dialogue that the characters use between one another.

I was relieved to read that the little folklore creatures still had a prominent role within the story. My worry was that she would favour a more political story and give less screen time, if you will, to the chyteri. They still featured greatly and helped in advancing the plot which made me very happy.

My favourite part of the book was definitely the discussion of what a woman’s role is supposed to be at the time and how Vasya is trying to break away from that. It was heart-breaking to read how the women suffered and were treated as objects to the male characters. And how the women are raised to expect this boring life without fun and adventure. I really enjoyed reading Vasya’s inner monologue of her wanting more from life, it was so uplifting to read about a female character wanting to explore the world around her!

Final note: I love Solovey and Vasya’s friendship. What a duo!

The next book I will be reviewing will be The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. This is a random read that I just decided to pick up at the library. Fingers crossed it’s good!

Resort to Murder Review

  • Author: TP Fielden
  • Series: A Miss Dimont Mystery #2
  • Genre: Historical/Murder Mystery
  • No. of pages: 300
  • Dates read: 26.04.19 – 03.05.19
  • Ratings: 4 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels

Plot (as seen on Goodreads): With its pale, aquamarine waters and golden sands, the shoreline at Temple Regis was a sight to behold. But when an unidentifiable body is found there one morning, the most beautiful beach in Devon is turned into a crime scene. For Miss Dimont – ferocious defender of free speech, champion of the truth and ace newspaperwoman for The Riviera Express – this is a case of paramount interest, and the perfect introduction for her young new recruit Valentine Waterford. Even if their meddling is to the immense irritation of local copper Inspector Topham… Soon Miss Dimont and Valentine are deep in investigation – why can nobody identify the body, and why does Topham suspect murder? And when a second death occurs, can the two possibly be connected?

Another solid sequel that I have read this week. TP Fielden has been a pleasant surprise and I was not disappointed by his 2nd instalment.

First of all, my main positive about this book would be the introduction of a new main character, Valentine Waterford. He was a brilliant addition to the story and it felt good to have another set of eyes to view the story from.

I really enjoyed the structure of this story where we see the reporters cover 3 big stories. The stories were incredibly interesting and varied. I sadly can’t say much about the cases without spoiling the plot but it just worked so well and I preferred the structure of the investigation into both murders compared to how it was done in the first book.

As per usual, Fielden did a great job at describing the town of Temple Regis, giving life to the town and making it feel as if Temple Regis itself was a character within the story. An omnipotent being watching the drama unfold before it. 

Two of my main stumbling blocks with this book is that first of all it took some time for the narrative to really get going. The first 100 pages while easy to read were not that exciting, once you get past the 100 pages mark the story really starts to kick and that’s when you get invested. It was a bit disappointing that you had to wait for 100 pages to get there.

My other bugbear was the characterisation of Ursula, the leader of the Sisters of Reason feminist group. I felt she was only included to play the angry, ugly feminist and she was a one-dimensional character. I understand the point that was meant to be made about the fringe feminist group and the fight for gender equality at that time. Some great points were raised, I just feel that making the leader a more masculine woman and subsequently writing her as an unlikable individual who everyone dislikes or is intimidated with no redeeming qualities was not subtle and could have been written better.

April Wrap Up 2019

Below is the list of the four books I read in April. The photo includes all the books I own. I had a pretty good April with most books being 4 stars or more!

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (4.5 stars)

This book to me was 4 stars until the very ending. I couldn’t give it 5 stars due to the fact I felt that Christie relied on the ending for her book entirely. While I felt that the ending was masterful, I felt the book as a whole was 4 stars.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (5 stars)

This book had been on my TBR list for ages and I thought I was never going to pick this us. This was until the ONTD Reading Challenge came along and set the theme of “Time Travel” for the month of April and I knew this was the book I was going to read. This book was an incredible slow-burner and I loved reading about this immaculate life/lives that Harry lives.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (5 stars)

This book was recommended to me by a friend from work, I don’t own this book so it’s not included in the photo. It was a book I had seen all over Booktube and Goodreads but never felt the urge to pick it up and did I feel like an idiot when I sat on the train back home from work and fell in love with these crazy characters! This is more of a character-driven novel and it was so, so good. Everyone should read it!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (2 stars)

So this book… I have not done a review for this book since I DNFed it at 40% so I couldn’t give a review on a book I didn’t even half of. But I did read that 40% in April so I think it should be noted. To be honest, the reason I put it down was due to the desire to pick it back up was minimal and while I did want to know how it ended but I didn’t want to read the extra 300 pages to get there! I just decided to put it down and move away.

A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet Review

  • Author: Becky Chambers
  • Series: Wayfarers #1
  • Genre: Sci-fi
  • No of pages: 404
  • Dates read: 12.04.19 – 16.04.19
  • Ratings: 5 stars (Favourite)

WOW! I am doing well in April, I have loved every book I have read so far but this book might be my new favourite!

There are so many things about this book that I love!

Overall, the ensemble cast was the best thing about this story. These are a group of individuals that you just so badly want to be friends with. They are all so unique not just in their biology but their personality, their morals, their beliefs. They are incredibly layered characters that are so likeable and well thought out. I tended to prefer the chapters that were just about the crew and their time on the ship to the actual over-arching plot. I loved the developing friendships, relationships and even the moments of anguish. It was such a refreshing story to read.

The main themes of this book include family, friendship but mainly acceptance. I found the theme of acceptance in this book weaved through each chapter. Whether it was about interspecies relationships, LGBT characters, religion etc. All the characters strived for respect and acceptance, not judging a book by its cover. It just put a smile of my face to see LGBT characters accepted whole-heartedly and the characters just moving on but so what, it’s not a big deal. 

War is another huge theme in this book and it is done really well! Probably the best way I have seen war written! Everyone is the victim of war as war leaves no stone unturned and no one person unaffected. Some more than others. CHaracters in this book accept the mistakes and horrors committed by people they know or members of their planet and the focus was on how can we better ourselves and make sure this doesn’t happen again. 

I loved the variety of species and planets. The description of each character and the world building was amazingly detailed. You could truly picture each individual and each location perfectly.

My only criticism is that with their being so many species and planets not enough explanation was given to their history or culture so I got a bit confused on who they were and what they are about which was a bit frustrating but it was only a personal preference that I found at the beginning of the novel. Maybe I was being a bit too impatient.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August Review

  • Author: Claire North
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Sci-fi/Historical
  • No of pages: 405
  • Date read: 05.04.19 – 11.04.19
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)
  • Challenge: ONTD April Theme “Time Travel”

I have been needing a book like this for so long!

This is my current favourite of 2019!

I read this book for the ONTD book of the month of April. The theme for April was time-travel and I was curious about what I was going to read and saw this book which had been sitting on my TBR for so long and thought, this is the moment!

Overall, Harry is a really intriguing character! We see him over 15 lifetimes and we learn more and more about him as each life passes. We know what makes him tick, what makes him laugh, what makes him cry and he feels like someone you know and understands like a friend as we watch him go on this journey. I really enjoyed his POV.

One of my favourites thing about the plot was the flipping between the current over-arching narrative working alongside the little peeks into important moments in Harry’s other lives. We will have a major plot point occur and followed up by an insight into his childhood from his 4th life and we learn about his relationship with his father. I think the pacing works well, switching between moments of high adrenaline and then moments of calm. I think this kind of narrative is also important to Harry’s character development.

I loved the Cronus Club and all the characters you meet because of the Cronus Club. Especially, all the jokes that members and other Kalacharka make regarding their immortality and constantly going through new cycles of life. I loved the jokes of not wanting to go through puberty again. The Cronus Club as a franchise was really intriguing, I loved learning how they worked and how they communicated with the future and the past.

North’s writing to me was really enjoyable. Her writing sucked me into the point where I couldn’t put the book down. I just wanted to keep on reading!

One thing I would say is there is a lot of science jargon and philosophical debate that is held between two characters of very high intelligence and those scenes would just go way over my head and came across quite dull as I couldn’t understand half of what they said. Chapters would be dedicated to these scientific debates and I got bored of those chapters quite quickly.

To me this was a slow burn of a book, I was always really enjoying it but I never had a moment of a sucker-punch WOW moment. It just grew on me slowly and when I finished it I just sat there and thought that was such a good book! This book was consistent, apart from the science debates, I loved every moment of this book and enjoyed picking back up everytime!

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Review

  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Series: Hercule Poirot #4
  • Genre: Murder Mystery
  • No of pages: 304
  • Dates read: 01.04.19 – 04.04.19
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels

There is not much I can say about this book without giving away Christie’s pure genius. So this won’t be that indepth of a review.

The first thing I would say after reading Sophie Hannah’s interpretation of Poirot, in The Monogram Murders, it makes you understand what it was about Christie’s Poirot that is unmatched and can’t be replicated no matter how hard we try. He is a great balance of knowing he is smarter than everyone else but also being humble about it. Being stern but compassionate. This balance is what makes Poirot great! It was great to dive back into the original Poirot.

I loved how everyone was framed as a suspect leaving the reader rather confused and no closer to who the actual murderer is. This also gets dragged out through a lot of the book so as you see the pages get smaller and smaller and you are reaching the end of the novel you are still wondering who it could be.

I really enjoyed the character Caroline Sheppard. I loved her ability to just gossip and not care about the consequences. While this isn’t a trait I would promote, it was very intriguing to read especially her nonchalance over causing trouble in her village. She is the person we would all be when something shocking happens, trying to know every little detail and discussing it with our friends.

One of the things I would say is that the writing is pretty basic, it was not the most exciting writing I have ever read. Thankfully, the plot makes up for the writing as the plot is incredibly masterful, so Christie can get away with the average writing style.

The next book I will be reviewing will be The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. This book has been on my TBR list for so long and I am so happy I can finally get to this book.

March Wrap Up 2018

Below is a list of the five books I read in March. The photo is missing Thunderhead sadly 😦

Legendary by Stephanie Garber (4 stars)

A great sequel to an amazing debut novel, though not without faults. Garber’s writing was enveloping, she welcomed you back to her world like she welcoming you back home. Yet the strucutre of the plot was a bit lacking at times.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (5 stars)

A jaw-dropping sequel! It was so good I have a friend from working picking up the series just so he can read this book. The world building is the standout feature in this story and more so than ever we see our own society reflected in this novel.

The Power by Naomi Alderman (4 stars)

A pre-dystopian novel I didn’t know I needed. The multi-perspective/characters were the highlights of the story. Alot of triggers litter this book, which I list in the review but this is just a warning going into the book.

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson (3.75 stars)

My very first arc! This was a promising debut and I will definitely pick up the next book she releases. The representation in this book stood out to me alot and I felt it was done really well. The main character was really great and I enjoyed reading her POV.

How to Adult by Stephen Wildish (3 stars)

A satirical non-fiction book I read but I don’t know how to review a book like that so i gave it an average rating. It was very funny and a quick read for March.

The Storm Crow Review

  • Author: Kalyn Josephson
  • Series: The Storm Crow #1
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 368
  • Dates read: 25.03.19 – 31.03.19
  • Rating: 3.75 stars

I did not expect to live this book as much as I did!

I received this book as an ARC in the Fairyloot December 2018 box and was quite hesitant about it. It didn’t sound like something I would normally pick up.

This book is FULL of representation! First of all, you have this really vast world with each kingdom representing parts of the world we live in this subsequently came with many POC characters. Our protagonist is a woman of colour and she is amazing. She is a really enjoyable character to view the story from. So many characters in this book are POC which is refreshing to read about. 

There are characters who are LGBT and what I liked about this book is that their sexuality wasn’t their defining feature, they are not solely placed in the story to be the gay character. We know these characters initially for their bravery or their kindness or their arrogance and it just so happens that they are gay. They are not this walking stereotype which is brill.

This book is full of powerful women and women in positions of power which is amazing to read about. Most notably the Queen of Illucia, while I hated her for her cruelty I also loved to see a cut-throat character that wasn’t a man but a woman. She was truly terrifying. Kiva was a smart, funny and incredibly powerful woman who was so fun to read about. It was just cool to see these countries run by women.

This book deals with depression and while I wouldn’t consider it the best representation, there are probably better books out there, I thought it was written well without bias and it was good to see the exploration of trauma and depression and the vicious cycle that you go through dealing with it.

The friendship between Kiva and Anthia was amazing! Those girls had each other’s backs through thick and thin and it was great to see these two women stand up and support each other through all the horror they are put through.

Ericen as a character was one that I thought I wouldn’t like. I don’t like characters we are meant to hate initially but then learn to like them later on and forgive them for shitty or selfish decisions but I felt that this was developed well in this story and the author never tried to make us want to forgive him either, he had to own up to his own bad decisions.

A couple of things I wasn’t a massive fan of was…

Caylus was a nice character but to me, he felt quite bland with a lack of personality. I found myself questioning why Anthia liked him as much as she did. Even though he is given a sad backstory I still didn’t find him that interesting.

The writing itself is pretty basic. I enjoyed her setting descriptions and when describing Anthia’s depression but when it came to normal conversations or actions I found the writing to be average. It’s definitely writing anyone could get into but I wanted to see magic within the words.

Finally, it took a while for me to get into the story. It was quite slow-going initially, but it did eventually pick up.

The next book I will be reviewing is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie! I am a massive Agatha Christie fan. I reviewed her book, Murder on the Links, last year and LOVED IT!

The Power Review

  • Author: Naomi Alderman
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Sci-fi/Feminism
  • No. of pages: 341
  • Dates read: 19.03.19 – 24.03.19
  • Rating: 4.5 stars

I have never read a book like this before! I don’t read much science fiction but I was quite intrigued by the synopsis.

There numerous trigger warnings in this book, so please be careful if you ever decide to pick it up. I don’t mention the triggers in my review but this is my warning for triggers such as:
Rape, Sexual Assualt, Violence and Torture

POSITIVES

I loved the whole concept in general of women having this dormant power and women becoming this unstoppable force and rising up from oppression. I was also interested to see which way Naomi would go with this story. Would she go down the route of “society was changed for the better because women were now in charge” or would she go down the route of “society collapses from the rise in power.” I was very happy with the road she took.

I loved all the characters in the stories both good or evil or in-between. I felt each character introduced a new perspective to this changing world and all actions were justified in their minds as their knee-jerk reaction to these sudden changes.

I really enjoyed the multiple POV’s, I think for us to fully understand the worldwide/societal change this new phenomenon brought, we had to see it from varying characters in different parts of the world. All 4 POV’s represented certain parts of society and through them, we see how those parts responded.

Tunde was the media. Margot was the politics. Allie was the religion. Roxy was the organised crime.

I don’t normally like this dystopian novels as I get bored quite quickly but what I liked about this book is we actually witness all the small changes that lead to the quickly forming dystopian society. We are not introduced to the story halfway through like we are with books such as the “The Hunger Games” where the dystopian setting was established years ago but at the very beginning and we watch everything unravel.

The language switch was intriguing. A lot of words and phrases were used to describe men and their horrible situation, especially by the end of the book, that normally gets associated with women or references something that women go through every day and I thought it was interesting to see that switch. In which these things were being said about men instead of women. It was a weird experience to read it!

NEGATIVES

While I really enjoyed the book, I didn’t care for the ending. It didn’t pack a punch for me. A lot is left unsaid. We don’t know what happens to the characters we have invested our time into which was quite disappointing for me. I had to go to a forum on Goodreads to fully understand the ending, which when explained to me sounded really cool but I didn’t care for the execution.

Overall, I started losing momentum about 3/4 of the way through the book. If it had been a bit shorter I probably would have enjoyed the ending more than I did.

The next book I will be reviewing is an ARC I received in their December 2018 Fairyloot box. I will be reading The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson.

February Wrap Up 2018

Bit late this time round but I couldn’t find the time to take a photo of the books I read in February.

Below is a list of the four books I reviewed in February.

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (4 stars)

A great final instalment to one of my favourite sci-fi series. I loved the diverse cast and the dossier style format it follows but critiqued the sometimes cringe dialogue.

The Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft (4 stars)

Another book into my 2019 sequels. I read the 1st book, Senlin Ascends, last year and it was my favourite book of 2018. I was quite nervous going into this one but I ended up throughly enjoying it!

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (3.5 stars)

A fresh new take on Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective, Hannah takes over the mantle from Christie and produces a book which has classic Christie tropes. I enjoyed this story a lot.

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (4 stars)

A heart-warming story about life and death. I get emotional overtime I think of this story. A quick, inspirational read that will have you thinking about life just a little bit differently.

Thunderhead Review

  • Author: Neal Shusterman
  • Series: Arc of a Scythe #2
  • Genre: Sci-fi
  • No. of pages: 515
  • Dates read: 10.03.19 – 18.03.19
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)
  • Challenge: 2019 sequels

I read the first book “Sycthe” last July and really enjoyed it! So I wasn’t sure how Shusterman was going to top it but he completely smashed it! Hit it out the park! I can’t fully comprehend what I just read!

I can’t really mention the plot as it spoils things but what I will say is that it is set a year after the conclave where it was decided between Rowan and Citra who would win the mantle of Honorable Sycthe.

THOUGHTS

The world building in this book is so intricate and detailed. I can’t believe how imaginative Shusterman is! I would not be able to think of all the things mentioned and described in this book! From the expansion of the Thunderhead to Sycthe law, I felt like if I was dropped into this world I would know how to go about my day without a hitch as it’s that detailed!

I loved the expansion of the Thunderhead, I liked getting an insight into the “brain” of this powerhouse. He reminded me of what AIDAN in the Illuminae Files could have been. I loved the humanity that the Thunderhead was given.

Greyson Tolliver was such a great addition to the story. I really enjoyed his character and I felt for him so much! He brought a lot to the story and was key to the progression of the narrative. He is not just brought in for the sake of introducing another character, Shusterman like with every single detail he includes is important to the world or the progression to the story. Greyson is key!!!!!

Citra has grown a lot on me this time! I didn’t care for her that much in Sycthe but I loved her in this book! She has so much strength and intelligence that I wish I had! She is a kind of character people look up to, she is trying her hardest in a tough political climate and is holding her own. I think it’s very fitting as she represents a lot of young women fighting for their place in society and to have their voices heard!

Speaking of political climate… the politics in this book is so raw and real and while its set in this fantastical setting and they are discussing fantastical topics, the root of the problem is very real and can be reflected in our own world and our own lives and that is scary! I see today’s politicians reflected in this book and I am not happy with what I see.

I love the development of Sycthe Curie and Citra’s friendship, it was lovely to see two powerful women supporting each other! I think that this friendship was beautiful. Women supporting women! What more could I ask for!

My only criticism for this book is I am still not sold on the romance sub-plots. This was something I found to be a problem in Sycthe. The relationships and romance are driving forces for the progression of the story but it’s the only part of the novel that I feel is under-developed and as a reader, I am not given enough time to appreciate the romance or understand, it feels rushed and that it shouldn’t be that important of driving force for the narrative progression.

The next book I plan to review is another sci-fi! Last year I read two sci-fi books this year I will be on my 3rd! Wahey! The book I will be reviewing next is The Power by Naomi Alderman!

Legendary Review

  • Author: Stephanie Garber
  • Series: Caraval Trilogy #2
  • Genre: Fantasy/Romance
  • No. of pages: 423
  • Date read: 18.02.19 – 07.03.19
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 sequels

Wow! Another great instalment. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it as much as Caraval but I think it held it’s own.

THOUGHTS

I loved how colourful and descriptive Garber’s writing is. You get tossed into this magical, vibrant world that oozes mystery and this is purely down to her writing. Her writing isn’t amazing overall, there are some lines and bits of dialogue that made me cringe as they were just so cheesy and felt out of place. But her descriptive writing of clothing, places and atmosphere was really good, she is very good at world-building. I do think Garber’s writing has come on a lot since her debut novel, Caraval, I found that I enjoyed her writing a lot more this time around.

I liked how we saw an expansion of the history of the Meridian Empire. But one major factor in the story I feel should have been mentioned in the first book. I can’t say what it is as it’s a massive spoiler but it initially threw me off when it was introduced as it felt like it was an after-thought added in later to make the series seem more epic. But once I got over that it was really enjoyable to have that dynamic and higher stakes added in.

The romance in this book initially started a bit forced. I didn’t care for it at first, I felt since Scarlett was with Julian at the end of the book Donatella must also have a love interest but it actually grew on me. The romance ended up being so enjoyable to read I looked forward to seeing more of it as the book continued. This is not normally the case for me.

One negative I would say is I don’t think the plot and the progression of the novel was structured as well as Caraval was, sadly. A lot was going on, especially with the higher stake plot element added in and it did feel a bit all over the place and I found myself at the beginning of the novel a bit confused.

The ending was incredibly satisfying! I wasn’t sure on how Garber was going to end this story but I loved it, I found myself grinning from ear to ear as I was reading it. I cannot wait to read the next book which comes out very soon!

Bookish This or That Tag

Sadly, no review this Sunday. I had a really draining week at work so I didn’t get to finish a book in time for a review. So I decided to do a quick and fun tag about some of my own bookish opinions.

Series or Standalone

See, normally I wouldn’t consider this a hard choice. I adore standalones but when it comes to choosing between series or standalones, I think that there is so much expansion that you get plot and character wise with series that you can never really get with a standalone. While I love the simpleness of one wrapped up story in one book.

My choice would be series just because you get a lot more from a series than you do a standalone.

Magic earned or Magic Born

I like both options here. I love the idea of there are some people who are born with these incredible powers and we watch them struggle with immensity of the power and the responsibilities that come with it or watch them embrace what they have and use it for good. There are many variations that come with being born with magic.

That being said I love the idea of someone working really hard to be the best at the magic that they earned. I love the idea of dedication and it makes for really interesting characters as well. Someone choosing and working towards that level of power, evil or good it makes for a more dynamic character.

My choice would be magic earned.

Enemies to Lovers or Friends to Lovers

To me, this is quite an easy choice I understand the love for enemies to lovers trope having its appeal but I absolutely love the idea of two people who have been friends for a long time realise their love for each other. I prefer that over people who have disliked even hated each other suddenly have some moment which they realise they love each other or can grow to love each other.

My choice would be friends to lovers.

Hilarious Banter or Emotional Ruin

Again, another easy decision. I don’t mind a bit of emotional ruin here and there. The occasional tears and devastation. But personally, I prefer to laugh alongside my characters, enjoying moments of happiness with them rather than moments of heartbreak.

My choice would be hilarious banter.

Love Triangle or Instalove

I’m not the biggest fan or either option here to be honest. I personally think love-triangles are a bit more dynamic and a bit more interest to the story than insta love does. You get more tension with a love triangle which is not necessarily a good thing but it makes for a more interesting read. Insta-love to me is false. I don’t believe in it, if it is posed as lust at first sight, I think it could work so you’re not playing it off as true love.

My choice would be a love triangle.

Mean Parents or Dead Parents

The dead parents trope breaks my heart. All I can think of is Harry Potter and every time I think of him as an orphan stuck in the Dursley’s house it makes me tear up. That being said I don’t like mean/abusive parents so for that…

My choice would be dead parents.

So there you go… something to fill the gap before the next review.

The Next Person You Meet in Heaven Review

  • Author: Mitch Albom
  • Series: The Five People You Meet in Heaven Duology #2
  • Genre: Fiction
  • No. of pages: 213
  • Date read: 16.02.19 – 18.02.19
  • Rating: 4 stars

I read the previous book on holiday in Greece. It was a spur of the moment purchase and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I ended up loving it and that book has been one of my favourite books of all time. I was quite nervous going into this one as I was worried it wouldn’t match up to the first one. I was very stupid to have worried so much!! This book was soooo good. Just as good as the first one.

Plot: The accident that killed Eddie (the main protagonist on the first book) left a mark on Annie. It took her left hand, which needed to be surgically reattached. Injured, scarred, and unable to remember why, Annie’s life is forever changed by a guilt-ravaged mother who whisks her away from the world she knew. Bullied by her peers and haunted by something she cannot recall, Annie struggles to find acceptance as she grows. When, as a young woman, she reconnects with Paulo, her childhood love, she believes she has finally found happiness. The book starts with Annie marrying Paulo. But when her wedding night day ends in an unimaginable accident, Annie finds herself on her own heavenly journey—and an inevitable reunion with Eddie, one of the five people who will show her how her life mattered in ways she could not have fathomed.

I don’t normally read these highly inspriational books. I don’t want to they don’t appeal to me. I don’t like to self-reflect but with the meaningful messages that were introduced into this novel you can’t help but look back and view your life differently. Albom is not screaming down your throat “APPRECIATE LIFE MORE” he is just trying to help turn negative expereinces into positive ones and trying to give a level of reassurane and comfort to those who are sturggling with deep personal issues. The novel is very light and easy to read so I think this helps in Albom’s case.

I loved the character of Annie. You go on this journey with her through self-acceptance, forgiveness and heartbreak. You can;t help but fall in love or at least really like her. You can understand the grudges she holds, the anxiety she tries to deal with. I personally really connected with her.

The ending, I did not expect at all. You feel with books like this that you know where it’s going and I found it really refreshing when Albom subverted my expectations with what was going to happen next. I tried so hard not to cry on the bus!

This is the kind of book that I think everyone needs to read at least once. It’s very impactful and moving and I think everyone could learn something from it. Pick it up!!

The next book I will be reviewing is Legendary by Stephanie Garber. This book is part of my 2019 sequels challenge as it read Caraval last year and also it is part on the ONTD Reading Challenge for the month of February which is read a book that contains romance or two characters experiencing a break up.

The Monogram Murders Review

  • Author: Sophie Hannah
  • Series: New Hercule Poirot Mysteries #1
  • Genre: Murder Mystery
  • No. of pages: 388
  • Date Read: 12.02.19 – 15.02.19
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

This was a book I was really excited for. I was really interested to see what my opinions would be on Hannah’s version of Poirot. I have only read 4 Poirot books but I have watched multiple episodes of the TV show starring David Suchet. I feel that Suchet’s portrayal is the most accurate portrayal of Poirot so I went in with that performance in mind.

PLOT:  Hercule Poirot’s quiet supper in a London coffee house is interrupted when a young woman confides to him that she is about to be murdered. She is terrified but begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she insists, justice will have been done. Later that night, Poirot learns that three guests at a fashionable London hotel have been murdered and a cufflink has been placed in each one’s mouth. Could there be a connection with the frightened woman? While Poirot struggles to put together the bizarre pieces of the puzzle, the murderer prepares another hotel bedroom for a fourth victim. In the hands of internationally bestselling author Sophie Hannah, Poirot plunges into a mystery set in 1920s London – a diabolically clever puzzle that can only be solved by the talented Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

POSITIVES

The plot was really interesting. I really enjoy serial killers stories and when I read the synopsis of this story I had to just pick it up. What I loved about the plot is how intricate it was. I can’t say too much as I am trying to keep this spoiler free and with murder mysteries, you can’t say too much or it will ruin the novel. Let’s just say its a very detailed plot with a lot of interestings factors raised.

The big reveal at the end was really satisfying. This is probably the first murder mystery where I had no idea who it could be. Normally, I would think as I read about who it could be but with this book I consumed it so fast I didn’t have to think about who the murderer could be. When I found out the who, how, why I thought it was done really well. All I will say is it was a very Agatha Christie ending, so if you love her kind of reveals you will love this one.

I loved the variety of female characters in this story. All the women in this story vary in some way or another. I never felt I was reading a carbon-copy of your basic 1930’s woman. They were all interesting and, like with all mysteries, had something to hide. I really enjoyed reading about incredibly layered female characters, I would have to say my favourite character was Margarent Ernst.

I enjoyed the POV of Edward Catchpool, I think he was a good choice as the main character. As someone who likes to try and figure out who the murderer could be it is advantageous to have someone straight-forward thinking like Catchpool explaining the story rather than Poirot so you can think of all the ways the murders could have happened. If you read the story through Poirot’s mind it’s not just as fun becasue you would already know the awnsers.

NEGATIVES

To be honest, I didn’t particularly care for Hannah’s version of Poirot sadly I found him to be rude and unlikable which was disappointing. Sadly, I found him to be condescending and lacking the warmth I am so used to. Overall, the portrayal was fine it was similar to Christie’s version but there were just certain elements that put me off him.

Hannah gave some unnecessary backstory to Catchpool that, if removed from the story, wouldn’t affect the progression of the plot. I didn’t really see the point in adding this character points in. They weren’t expanded enough in the story to really warrant being used at all. This may come into play for later novels as a recurring theme we see with this character but I am not so sure. It came across as points that were meant to be important for the characters development but just weren’t explained or given any detail. It just seems unnecessary.

As mentioned before, I really like the intricate and detailed plot but when it came to the big reveal at the end, it felt like there was a lack of structure in how Hannah was going to explain the motive and how the victims were killed. The explanation was a bit all over the place which led to alot of confusion.

The next book I will be reviewing is The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. The highly awaited sequel that has me feeling all the feelings.

The Arm of the Sphinx Review

  • Author: Josiah Bancroft
  • Series: The Books of Babel #2
  • Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk
  • No. of pages: 448
  • Date Read: 09.02.19 – 12.02.19
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 sequels

Another brilliant instalment to an incredible series by Mr. Bancroft! This was probably my highest anticipated book for 2019. I read Senlin Ascends last April and loved it! I was a bit nervous getting into this that it might not match up to my expectations but I couldn’t of been more wrong!

Bancroft’s writing is exceptional. I just love the way he writes. It draws you in and paints a perfect picture for you. I was about 4 pages into the book and fell back in love with this story purely based on Bancroft’s writing. It stands out as probably my favoirte writing style.

The world that Bancroft has created is so inventive. I loved re-entering this scary but inticing world and it was so much fun to learn more about the features and the history of the tower. I think it was a brilliant expansion on a world that was set up really well in the first installment.

I love the representation of women in this book. All the women in this book have a variety of different qualities whether it’s strength, wisdom or curiosity. And despite these differing qualities, each woman is presented as strong in her own way and I loved it. We had Iren’s strength, Voleta’s curiosity, Madame Bhata’s intelligence. No women is shown to be less than the other. Especially when it comes to the women of the Stone Cloud, they all bring something key to the team which helps them succeed in what they set out to do. I love seeing a strong woman in novels but what I loved about this story is we get not just one strong women but a good number of strong women. We also see a variety of women of colour which also makes me happy.

All the new characters introduced, like in Senlin Ascends, have such important roles to play in the story and continuing the narrative and it just shows the thorough detail Bancroft has put into this book. Every decision made, in this story, has a consequence or level of importance in progressing the plot and I love that about this book.

I loved the friendship between the crew of the Stone Cloud. They are a rag-tag group of individuals forced together and they form this amazing unlikely bond. They all disagree and fall out but ultimately look out for one another which was an interesting dynamic. I also loved how we got to focus a bit on each crew member and learn it a bit more about them as people. The first book was all about Senlin and his journey but this story felt for about the group as a whole rather than Senlin specifcally.

However, this book does feel more like a set-up book for the following novels to come. The second half of the book felt very stand still in, terms of action, as Bancroft had to set up points that would be important for the rest of the series. I ultimately didn’t mind this, as loads of interesting plot points and character developments were made and introduced to the story. That ended up with me asking more questions and created more tension but not a lot of action really happened in this novel compared to the first book.

I am so excited to pick up his next book as I feel all the setting up he’s done in this book will come to full fruition later on and I want to see it all unfold. The next book I will be reviewing is The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah.

January Wrap Up

This is just a small post to cover all the books I read in the month of January. I read 4 books this month, which are listed below alongside the review I wrote about it. So please give them a read and let me know what you think!

The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett (4.5 stars)

Fire and Heist – Sarah Beth Durst (2 stars)

The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R Tolkien (4 stars)

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (5 stars)

https://indiareads.home.blog/2019/02/03/nevermoor-the-trials-of-morrigan-crow-review/


Obsidio Review

  • Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Series: The Illuminae Files #3
  • Genre: Sci-fi
  • No. of pages: 615
  • Date read: 01.02.19 – 08.02.19
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 sequels and ONTD Reading Challenge: Feb (Read a romance or a book that includes a break-up)

WOW! What an amazing end to an amazing series!!! This book is incredibly emotional and I nearly cried numerous times while reading this! This is the first series I have finished in a longggg time! I’m trying to be consistent in getting through series hence why I am doing this 2019 sequels challenge. Check out this post to read more about that.

POSITIVES:

The Illuminae Files is most well know for its dossier style presentation where the pages look like a bunch of files. There are transcripts, drawings and normal prose. I felt that this added to the story so much in terms of enjoyability for me, it made for a really interesting reading experience

I feel that the story handles morality incredibly well. The theme of life and death, murder and survival run like waves throughout the series and not as much as it does in this book. It poses a lot of questions like, “Is it worth sacrificing 100 lives to save 101 more?” What I also loved was how the authors would give names and sometimes a small bit of background to unknown characters who we never meet. For example, The list of people killed on Kerenza IV after BeiTech take control and the names of the pilots who die in the fight to capture the Magellan. I feel this book really shows the reader the horror of war and the countless people on all sides that are left nameless and forgotten.

I loved AIDAN’s role in the plot and his impact on the story as a whole throughout the series. AIDAN is my favourite character. One of my favourite literary characters of all time. I think he is so intriguing to read about. I really liked the sections where we got to read his thoughts, they were very insightful and again made you question morality in so many ways. He was so horrified but also heart-breaking.

All the characters were great! I loved how the authors would make you so attached to every single side character which you know is stupid becuase most of them would die but you can’t help but root for them all the same!

But I would have to say that Hanna and Kady were by far, the best characters in the series as a whole! I loved their strength, their love for their friends and family, their perseverance. I really enjoyed their budding friendship as well, it was good to see two strong women supporting each other wholeheartedly. In fact, all the women in this book were powerful ass women and it was so enjoyable to read about them and also to read about a variety of different female characters, with a lot of women in positions of power!!!

One of the authors strongest suits is their diversity! These books had numerous POC characters, characters from the LGBTQ community, characters with disabilities and characters going through trauma and mental health struggles. There is a lot of representation in this book. That being said I would have liked to see more representation within the core group. The core group is made up of heterosexual, white, characters excluding Asha who I believe is a woman of colour and we do see disability representation in Ella. That being said despite the lack of diversity in the core group it is more than made up for with the rest of the characters. What I also loved is that this representation is normalised and we find out a character is POC or LGBTQ through passing comments o snippets of conversation which is satisfying to read as it’s not done for the sake of it but to show the diverse culture of the world and that also war can affect everyone from race, sexuality, gender etc.

I felt that Kaufman and Kristoff have really mastered writing chaos. I found myself stressing out numerous times when chaos ensued or there was a fight/disagreement. They could really keep you on the edge of your seats! I think this is due to the brilliant characterisation and variety of personalities created as well as incredible pacing.

I was really interested in AIDAN’s obsession with Kady, I thought it was a really cool dynamic to the story. Intially, I wasn’t sure it was going to work very well as I am not a massive fan of AI storylines but again, I think this was done very well.

I loved all the romance. I didn’t feel like any of it was forced. I felt that we were given a couple of different kinds of relationships within this book. You have Ezra and Kady, who have a very secure relationship with a lot of trust and support. Nik and Hanna who start slightly on the rocks, with them trying to come to terms with what happened in Gemina and where that leaves them and their relationship now. You then have Asha and Rhys who are the broken-up couple trying to see if they can give it another shot as well as being star-crossed lovers. And finally, we have unrequited love with AIDAN and Kady. I am glad each relationship was very different and not just the same cliche relationship you see a lot in stories.

Also, the ending was incredibly satisfying!!!

NEGATIVES:

While I loved all the characters within the story, I did feel like Rhys was the exact same character as Ezra. Because the difference between Ezra and Nik is so strong it stuck out to me the similarities between Ezra and Rhys. I did feel Rhys wasn’t bringing much else to the story personality wise, it was a good thing he was initially working for the other side else I would have not been interested in his character at all!

I did find some of the dialogue to be very cringey and it was very obvious it was two adults who don’t know how teenagers speak trying to write teenage dialogue. Certain phrases were used that made me roll my eyes a couple of times which was very disappointing.

The next book I will be reading is The Arm of the Sphinx by Josiah Bancroft. I read his first book Senlin Ascends and it became my favourite book of 2018! Let’s see if this one is just as good.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Review

  • Author: Jessica Townsend
  • Series: Nevermoor #1
  • Genre: Fantasy and Middle Grade
  • No. of page: 384
  • Date Read: 25.01.19 – 31.01.19
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)

Words cannot express how amazing and magical this book was! Part of me wishes I didn’t devour this book as quickly as I did and just read it slowly, taking in every single detail. But if I love a book I end up reading them so quickly! I will definitely be re-reading this in the future.

Plot:Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

I genuinely have no bad things to say about this book so it will be purely positive things. I feel I might have peaked early this year.

The imagination in this book was amazing, it surprises me, with every book I read, in the vast creativity of authors where they can come up with such fun and imaginative ideas. This book is no exception! This book exuded magic and imagination, I felt like magic was spilling out of the pages! While I don’t like to compare books to other books, I definitely felt the same kind of magical feeling that I got when I read Harry Potter for the first time. I love the Hotel Deucalion with its varying rooms. I loved especially how the hotel changes the resident’s room to match their personality. It was fun to see Morrigan’s room develop as the story went on. I loved the brolly rail I thought that was super fun and I was impressed in the variety of trials! My favourite would have to be the Book Trial!

This was overall just a really fun book. I enjoyed reading it so much and it was so funny. The dialogue in this book was well balanced in being incredibly funny but not in a cringey way and I found myself laughing out loud at times.

The plot was really incredible. Whether it was just a chapter at the Deucalion or a chapter which involved an important trial each chapter introduces something new, whether it’s an unknown fact about a character or an insight further into the book’s on-going mystery. The mystery especially was one of the biggest highlights, Townsend was really good at keeping you intrigued right until the end, never really solving things but also maintaining the excitement throughout. You can’t possibly put the book down as you need more of this world, these characters, this story!

All the characters were exceptional. They worked really well as an ensemble cast and were all really likeable. They were also all incredibly different which made for a better reading experience. Morrigan was also a solid main character and I enjoyed viewing Nevermoor from her eyes. I found her POV to be fun to read about. My favourite character though would probably have to be Hawthorne Swift, he was such a ray of sunshine, hilarious and so much fun to read about.

The next book I will be reading is my first sci-fi novel of 2019. I will be reading Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, the third and final book in the Illuminae Files Trilogy.

The Fellowship of the Ring Review

  • Author: J.R.R Tolkien
  • Series: The Lord of the Ring Series #2 (I am counting The Hobbit as the first book)
  • Genre: High Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 535
  • Date read: 06/01/19 – 24/01/19
  • Rating: 3.75 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels and ONTD Reading Challenge: Jan (Read a book which was adapted into a movie or TV show)

First thing I would say is if you are questioning whether to read The Hobbit first. Do it! There are a lot of references and spoilers in this book about The Hobbit so definitely read that one first!

Plot: In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts a Ring of immense power to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

POSITIVES:

I loved all the characters. They are all very layered and very different from one another which helped make the group interesting and keep you on your toes. Notable characters included

  • Aragorn. This is probably the only character in the book where I can’t explain why I liked them. I just thought he was really brave and there is clearly something hidden about him that we will find out in later books.
  • Gandalf. I loved Gandalf in The Hobbit and he was just as great in this book. I loved how wise, kind and funny he was.
  • Sam. Sam was the absolute cutest. I loved his loyalty and innocence, he was a refreshing character as most of the companies are rough and serious.
  • Galadriel. The only female character of importance and she was incredibly powerful and wise. I was happy to see a powerful woman in the book who was respected as more than just the King’s wife which is what I had expected.

The plot is incredibly detailed which made for a rich and fulfilled reading experience. Each character has a long history and origin which makes them who they are, they have all suffered in some way which has affected them in quite deep ways. I loved that we got to see an intricate and long backstory for the Ring, which spanned further back than when Gollum obtained it, I also how it linked certain characters together. The backstory makes the quest more dangerous and intense knowing that the Ring has left a path of blood and devastation in its wake. We also see a long history between the elves and dwarves which is interesting to read about, it is not explored in depth unlike the Ring’s origin but it’s mentioned enough, it gives Legolas and Gimli an interesting dynamic and friendship.

It’s highly imaginative. I loved all the fantasy elements. Sauron’s minions (Black Rider) were incredibly exciting to read about, I loved all the scenes they were in, they bought a real sense of danger and they were incredbly evil and mysterious beings which made me feel I was really reading a high fantasty. The Elven kingdom of Lorien was so beautiful, Tolkien’s description of the kingdom was incredible I could truly visuale it and all it’s beauty. I loved everything to do with the Elves and their magic and I loved the exploration into the mighty power behind the ring.

The scenes of action were incredibly fun and exciting to read, Tolkien knows how to write a really good action scene which exudes danger and get’s your heart racing! Notable scenes include – The Pony, where we first meet Aragorn and we get the first major warning from Gandalf. Any scene with the Dark Lord’s minions and the journey through Moria.

NEGATIVES:

The writing was very intricate and detailed which worked well for the action scenes but… it was too much all the time. Most of the novel consists of the characters from travelling from point A to point B and Tolkien spent pages upon pages just describing the mountains and the rivers. They were so longwinded and dull. I found myself at times wanting to DNF the book as I couldn’t take how much description their was for the landscape. This is one of the main reasons why I couldn’t give this book 5 stars. Too much of the novel was focused on describing the area they were walking through.

The pace is also very slow for most of the book, which didn’t bode well with the longwinded descriptions. The book did have small spikes of fast-paced action which were amazing but it didn’t make up for the fact that the rest of the book plodded along slowly. It was a very stop, start kind of pace, where we would pick pace during action sequences but then stop with chapters of endless walking.

There were only 3 female characters in this book. Goldberry, she was so irrelevant in my eyes she might as well not have been in it, Arwen, who is only there to give Aragorn a sad back story and Galadriel, who is an incredible character I loved her! It was a shame that out of the whole cast only 3 women were included and only one of them was actually important to the novel’s progression. I am sure Arwen becomes important in later books especially with Aragorn. But it was just disappointing that two of the three female characters were boring or said nothing.

The next book I will be reading is Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend.

Top 5 2019 Releases I’m Excited For.

2019 has a lot of exciting books in store for us! I can’t wait to get stuck in! Today I will be talking about some 2019 releases that have piqued my interest.

The Hod King – Josiah Bancroft

The Hod King is the 3rd book in The Tower of Babel series. I read the first book Senlin Ascends last April and it was my favourite book of 2018. It follows Thomas Senlin who travels to the Tower of Babel, with his new wife Marya but he loses her and spends the rest of the book traversing the tower in search for her. I haven’t read the 2nd book in the series yet but I just loved his first book so much I can’t help but get excited for new additions in the series.

Finale – Stephanie Garber

Same case as The Hod King. Finale is the final book in the Caraval trilogy. I read the first book Caraval, last February and absolutely loved it. I still haven’t read the 2nd book in the trilogy, Legendary, but I loved the first book so much I’m just so excited for new instalments. Fairyloot, a UK based book subscription box, is doing a very special box all about Finale and I really want to purchase it.

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

This story is told through multiple perspectives and focuses on Ead Duryan, an outsider turned lady-in-waiting who uses forbidden magic to protect the Queen, who is being targeted by assassins.

I have been hyped for this book since November as initially, I thought it was Fairyloot’s book for their December box. I love multi-perspective novels and I’m really intrigued about where this story will go especially as it seems the main characters are women.

The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Choski

Set in Paris in the 1800’s we meet Séverin Montagnet-Alarie, as treasure hunter. He is given the task of a life time when he is told to find an ancient artifcat for an ancient society called the Order of Babel . In order to get this artifact though, he will need a team of experts.

I’m getting a very strong Indiana Jones and Ocean’s Eleven vibe from this book so I am excited to read this! I haven’t read many books set in Paris either so it will be nice to explore Paris in book form.

The Similars – Rebecca Hanover

The Similars is a YA sci-fi novel focusing on a character called Emmalina who’s best friend, Oliver, died that summer. Trying to get over the grief of losing Oliver she comes face to face with Levi… her Oliver’s clone. Six clones arrive at her high school and even though she doesn’t want to get involved with them she can’t help but feel the pull. Soon she gets mixed up in the dark truth’s about her school and the clones.

I have never read a book like this before. Sci-fi isn’t really my genre but this sounds so intriguing so I really want to give this a try!

Fire and Heist Review

  • Author: Sarah Beth Durst
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Fantasy/Magic Realism
  • No. of pages: 290
  • Date read: 07/01/19 – 12/01/19 (DNFed at page 172)
  • Rating: 2 stars

My first DNF of 2019! To put in context, I only dnfed one book in 2018, The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. We are in the middle of January. It is the 2nd book I have read this year. I have already dnfed it.

I read this as part of a read-along with the company, Fairyloot, who sell subscription boxes for books. I was excited to participate in the read-along but I don’t think I will participate in the next one, I prefer to read at my own pace. The curators of Fairyloot obviously hyped up the book, the premise sounded so cool who wouldn’t want to hype up the book. But subsequently, I went in with really high expectations which weren’t met at all! I have still purchased 2 more boxes from Fairyloot and will continue to do so as I personally loved the other items that came with the box.

Plot: Sky Hawkins is a wyvern. A person who could turn into a dragon and poscess the abilities of a dragon. Her ancestors were exiled from their home and forced to live on earth. Like dragons from myth and literature, wyverns like to hoard gold and subsequently these families are very rich. The way they get their gold is simple… they steal it. The story starts with Sky who’s mother disappears after a failed heist and the story follows her trying to uncover why and where her mother has disappeared to.

POSITIVES:

I always like to start off positive and this book did have some positives.

The setting is our modern world. What I liked seeing was magic and technology mixing. I liked seeing how the wyverns have adapted with technology. I liked seeing magic and technolgly working togehter, how magic helps enhance the technology. I thought that was smart and fun to read about.

The mystery of where Sky’s mother disappeared to was really intriguing and kept me going after each chapter. I just wanted to know what happened to her. Was she locked up? Has she been tortured? Did she choose to leave? I had so many questions and each chapter more pieces were added to her disappearance and I was really excited to see what happened to her. That being said you find out where she goes halfway through the story and because that was the main draw of why I continued to read the book I subsequently had no incentive to continue the story.

I really liked learning about the lore, myth and history behind the wyverns. Everytime Sky mentioned something about their meetings known as “Reckonings”, the rules they must follow, the hierarchy, the powers. It really interested me.

My favourite character was Gabriela, Sky’s human friend. She was the sweetest person who I related to a little bit in the fact that she wanted so much more to life and wanted adventure. She just was a little ball of sunshine.

NEGATIVES:

My main problem with this book is the writing.

The writing to me was very cringey. I can’t explain what it is about the wiritng but it felt very young YA. Someone said she felt it read like fanfiction! The main point is the writing ended up ruining parts of the book that could have been good.

I think Sky, the main character, could have been a really cool, empowering female character but reading from her perspective was annoying and she just came across as a spoilt brat so I couldn’t connect with her whatsoever! Durst tried to make it out that Sky was really self-aware with the fact that she was spoilt but to me it didn’t help make Sky’s character likeable, it actually made her worse. It was disappointing because I love a powerful female character.

The first half of the book felt rushed. It felt like the writer was just trying to get to the second half of the book and get to the plot twist. Some of the best parts of heist movies is watching the training and the execution of the heist unfold but in this story, we get a very short training section, which didn’t have much training in, and then suddenly its the heist which started and ended within one chapter. It was very lacklustre and not developed at all.

The romance was not good. I didn’t care whether Ryan and Sky got back together. I think Ryan was a lovely character but because I didn’t like Sky and the writing surrounding their relationship was cringey. I didn’t want to continue reading about their relationship. It felt out of place sometimes as this is marketed as a heist book but Durst spent more time focusing on their relationship than actually developing the writing of the heist!

The problem with the book was the plot points were really cool and could have wowed me I just don’t think it was executed in the right way.

The Light Fantastic Review

  • Author: Terry Pratchett
  • Series: Discworld #3
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 288
  • Date read: 31.12.18 – 05.01.19
  • Rating: 4.5 stars (Favourite)
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels and ONTD Reading Challenge: Jan (Read a book which was adapted into a movie or TV show)

You know that problem with book series where the 2nd book is never as good as the first. Not the case with this book!

A direct sequel to the first book in the Discworld series, The Colour of Magic. That book follows failed wizard Rincewind, as he agrees to show tourist, Twoflower, around the city of Ankh-Morpork. I can’t really give you the plot of this book because of spoilers.

I really liked the first book, it was a nice introduction to Terry Pratchett’s writing style and storytelling but this book is miles better than the first!

POSITIVES –
I loved Twoflower and Rincewind’s dynamic. They are such a comedic duo. I loved how it isn’t until the very end of the book do you truly know how they feel about each other as most of the time Rincewind has been putting up with Twoflower. Their friendship is very much unlike things I have read before.

The Luggage was a standout character to me. I love the fact that an object with no dialogue and no ability to speak, can be so emotive and hilarious! Pratchett did a great job with making you understand how the Luggage is feeling but without just saying outright. I loved its personality and how you never truly understand what it is, it’s just a mystery you never solve.

One of the things I liked about this book compared to The Colour of Magic is it feels like it had more of a cohesive plot with a clear direction of where it was going. The first book felt a bit all over the place with no clear structure, it was just following the characters on a journey with no clear end destination. It felt a bit messy in terms of plot structure but it’s overshadowed by how imaginative the world is. I liked seeing this improvement.

The description and the imagination that Terry Pratchett had is outstanding! Every page I turned I didn’t know what was going to happen next and who I was going to meet! Especially at the end at the very climax of the ending Pratchett’s description is off the charts. I could visualise the scene perfectly.

I loved how imaginative the world is and how each part of the Discworld is unlike the other. All the characters were incredibly different from one another one character is an ageing warrior while another is an angry and tired rock troll. I loved seeing a bit more exploration into the wizards from the Unseen University as well. Giving a bit more insight into the magic system at play in the Discworld.

Another point that made this book better than the first is that the ending was a lot better. The main negative I had about the first book was that I thought the ending was rushed and not that great it really spoilt the book as I had enjoyed it a lot before we got to the ending and I felt it didn’t work with the rest of the novel. The ending was amazing in this book you don’t know what’s going to happen next and even when I thought I knew what was going to happen, Pratchett surprised me with something weird and crazy! Very on-brand.

This book also helps me complete the first month in the ONTD reading challenge! Quick disclaimer – I did read the January challenge wrong. I thought it was read a book adapted into a TV show or movie, not specifically limited to 2019 but I was wrong. It’s too late now so I am just counting any book that was adapted into a movie or tv show since the dawn of time. This book, in particular, was made into a movie alongside The Colour of Magic.

The next book I plan to review is Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst. A fantasy novel involving humans who can shape-shift into dragons, unsolved mysteries and heists! I am partaking in the Fairyloot Readalong so the review will be up same time next week.

My 2018 Wrap Up

So this is it! The end of another year. 2018, as I have said before, has been my best reading year to date! I read 32 books this year and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store. I try not to plan things to extensively but check out my “Plan for 2019” blogpost which I posted about a week ago to have an idea of how I am going to attack 2019 head one!

I won’t try to overload you with loads of information but I took the stats from my Goodreads Wrap Up and have applied it here. These stats have been compiled by Goodreads.

Basic Stats

  • I read 11,486 pages over 32 books this year.
  • My average book length was 358 pages.
  • My average rating for 2018 was 4 stars exactly!

The shortest book I read in 2018 – 156 pages

The longest book I read in 2018 – 659 pages

My most popular book.

This book was read by 5,611,021 people on Goodreads.

My least popular book.

This book was read by only 297 other people on Goodreads.

The highest rated book on Goodreads that I read in 2018

This book was been rated on Goodreads an average of 4.55 stars.

Rating Breakdown

Now we are going to break it down into what books I gave a certain number of stars to. Since I started this blog at the end of the year, it will also help you see what books I have been reading. One good thing this year is I gave no books 1 star.

Books that I gave 2 stars – 2

  • The Princess Saves Herself in This One – Amanda Lovelace
  • The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

Books that I gave 3 stars – 8

  • Murder on Christmas Eve – Edited by Cecily Gayford, written by Various Authors
  • One of Us is Lying – Karen McManus
  • The Sacrafice Box – Martin Stewart
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahiniuck
  • The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
  • Everless – Sara Holland
  • The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett
  • The Mermaid – Christina Henry

Books that I gave 4 stars – 9

  • It Devours! – Jeffrey Cranor and Joeseph Fink
  • Mythos – Stephen Fry
  • Battle Royale – Koushun Takami
  • The Riviera Express – T.P. Fielden
  • Uprooted – Naomi Novik
  • The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One – Amanda Lovelace
  • The Bear in the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Books that I gave 5 stars – 13

  • Red Queen – Christina Henry
  • Lost Boy – Christina Henry
  • Caraval – Stephanie Garber
  • Senlin Ascends – Josiah Bancroft
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K Rowling
  • Gemina – Amie Kaufman
  • Scythe – Neal Shusterman
  • The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton
  • Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi
  • Circe – Madeline Miller
  • The Murder on the Links – Agatha Christie
  • The Hobbit – J.R.R Tolkien

I added 11 of these books into my all-time favourites list proving how successful my 2018 has been.

Genre Breakdown

Lastly, for my 2018 wrap up I will break down the different genres I read this year and how many books of that genre I read. There will be overlapping as some books fit within multiple genres.

  • Contemporary – 4
  • Classics – 2
  • Fantasy – 15
  • Historical Fiction – 4
  • LGBT Fiction – 4
  • Murder Mystery – 4
  • Mythology/Folklore – 5
  • Plays/Poetry – 2 (Both poetry)
  • Re-tellings – 3
  • Romance – 6
  • Sci-Fi – 4
  • Steampunk – 1
  • Paranormal – 1

The Hobbit Review

  • Author: J.R.R Tolkien
  • Series: Prequel to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Genre: Fantasy/Classics
  • No. of Pages: 280
  • Date Read: 17.12.18 – 26.12.18
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)

Wow! Ummm… where to start with this book?

I heard so much about this series but to me, it was so well-loved and highly praised, I was quite scared to even attempt to read it as I was worried I wouldn’t like it. I hadn’t read much high fantasy before this book so I wasn’t sure if it was my thing. But I thought I would just go ahead and see what happens. I mean, I got the whole set for £4 at a charity event so that gave me the push I needed to give the series a go.

Minor spoilers.

The Plot: Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who loves the safety of his hobbit hole and doesn’t have an adventurous bone in his body. One day he is approached by a mysterious wizard and a band of burly Dwarves and is whisked away on an epic adventure to steal the mounds of riches from the evil dragon, Smaug!

Positives:

Tolkien’s world building is unmatched! I have never read a book with such intricate world building, I hear that the Lord of the Ring series is a lot more detailed so I am looking forward to that. What made Tolkien’s world building so great is that it allowed you to visualise and place yourself within the scene. You feel as if you’re there with the characters experiencing all the events alongside them. The world building was also important for the battle scenes. I tend to find battles scenes long, boring and most of the time I don’t understand what is going on half the time but with the use of the world building it gives you a clearer image of where they are and where people are positioned, making it easier to understand.

The description of the battle scenes was incredibly intricate. I was never bored reading the scenes as he always managed to keep it light and fast-paced but without losing any detail as he goes. The detail in which he described the fighting styles and the positioning of all the characters was really interesting and as I said before, worked really well with the image of the battlefield he conjured up beforehand. The battle scenes were intense and at moments I couldn’t tear my eyes from the page as I had to know what happened next.

All characters were varied and unique and I don’t think I came across any characters who were similar to each other. Characters of notability include;

Bilbo. Bilbo was by far my favourite character from this book, he grew so much and I loved seeing him change from a man who didn’t like any form of change to a quick-thinking, brave individual who stands up to leaders and dragons! I felt very connected to him as I saw parts of myself in him. (Mainly when he was complaining of being hungry and tired.)

Bombur. Bombur was by far my favourite dwarf. He was endearing and funny and he was a constant throughout the story adding moments of comedy during the dark and morbid moments. He stood out to me the most in this novel as he was so unlike the other dwarves.

Smaug. I was quite shocked by how little Smaug featured within the novel. He was only in about 4 chapters but he made his presence known. I loved his dialogue, you could quote Smaug so easily. All his interactions with Bilbo were really interesting to read and it was fun to watch them bounce off and try to outwit one another

Tolkien’s narrative voice was another element of the story that I really liked. The story is spoken in 3rd person and Tolkien acts as an omnipotent voice following Bilbo and his journey. I loved how he sometimes mentioned things to show he knew more about the story than we did and how he would give extra information about characters or events that the characters didn’t know yet. This just added to the intricacy of the whole novel.

I haven’t read a book about a quest in over two years so I was really excited to go on this epic journey and experience the ups and downs and the problems that the characters were going to face. I loved visiting all the new places and it was just so refreshing to read a story about getting from A to B and the bumps along they way as it’s the kind of story I haven’t read in so long.

The last thing I loved was the realism of the novel. Important characters die, people lose things that are incredibly important to them and after the events of this adventure nothing is ever really the same and I loved that about this book. While I love a happy ending where everyone is ok, it made the novel fell more believable and realistic that the stakes were high and not everyone made it.

Negatives:

My only problem with the book was that initially I found it quite hard to get into it. Tolkien’s writing style for me was a bit hard to get used to so I struggled with the first couple of chapters. Once I had sat down and focused more on the words in front of me I finally got immersed into the story.

This is the last book I will read in 2018 and I look forward to see what books 2019 will bring!

My Reading Plan for 2019

I have done really well this year. I will end 2018 on 32 books by the end of this week and I am incredibly proud with how much I have read. My original goal was 22 books so I was very happy to beat that goal.

I have 5 areas that I want to complete during 2019. They cover authors, genres and reading challenges. I wanted to plan a bit more for 2019, as this year I just picked up anything I liked and read it. But since then I have started but not finished a lot of series and I have signed up for reading challenges and book subscription boxes. I wanted to approach 2019 in a more organised way.

How many books do I plan to read in 2019?

For 2019, my goal is to read 25 books. I was deciding to possibly aim for 30 but this year I was very fortunate to go on a couple of holidays where I spent a lot of time reading and I was also in college with a lot of free time so I managed to get a lot of reading done between lessons. Now that I have started full-time employment I don’t want to give myself an unachieveable goal.

2019 Sequels

I started a lot of series in 2018 that I was un-able to finish. So on Goodreads, I created a shelf called my 2019 sequels shelf which was dedicated to the sequels to the book series I had started within the year. My plan is to read these books before the month of June, so the first half of the year is dedicated more to finishing or continuing series from 2018 and the 2nd half of the year is dedicated to new series and books. There are twelve books on this shelf and they include;

  1. The Arm of the Sphinx – Josiah Bancroft (Book 2/4 – The Tower of Babel series)
  2. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien (Book 2/4, I am counting The Hobbit in this series.)
  3. The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden (Book 2/3 – The Winternight Trilogy)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling (Book 4/7 – Harry Potter series)
  5. Legendary – Stephanie Garber (Book 2/3 – The Caraval series)
  6. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett (Book 2/41 – The Discworld series)
  7. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis (Book 2/7 – The Chronicles of Narnia)
  8. The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in this One (Book 3/on-going – The Women Are Some Kind of Magic series)
  9. Obsidio – Amie Kaufman (Book 3/3 – The Illuminae Files)
  10. Poirot Investigates – Agatha Christie (Book 3/41 – Hercule Poirot series, not including the new books by Sophie Hannah)
  11. Resort to Murder – T.P. Fielden (Book 2/on-going – A Miss Dimont Mystery series)
  12. Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman (Book 2/on-going – The Arc of the Sycthe series)

The ONTD Reading Challenge

On Goodreads, there is a group currently called “2018 ONTD Reading Challenge”. It’s run by two women and they pick a theme for each month of the year and you must follow the theme and read a book each month that fits within the theme. I thought it would be really fun to do this as it means I would read books I would have never thought of picking up. I also tried to apply some of the books from my 2019 sequels list to some of the themes between Jan and June. So I have made a small plan, of books that I could read during the month, and it looks like this:

January – Read a book that has been adapted into a movie or TV show.

  • The Light Fantastic (TV episode)
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (Movie)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring (Movie and TV episode)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Movie)
  • Poirot Investigates (Multiple TV episodes)

February – Read a romance or a book in which a couple breaks up.

I am not really a romance fan so the books I looked at all have elements of another genre.

  • Obsidio (Sci-fi)
  • Cinder – Marrisa Myer (Sci-fi)
  • The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (Fantasy + Historical Fiction)
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid (Historical Fiction)

March – Read a non-fiction book.

  • The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson
  • This Is Going To Hurt – Adam Kay
  • A Thousand Naked Strangers – Kevin Hazzard
  • The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures – Aaron Mahnke

April – Read a book about time-travel.

  • 11/22/63 – Stephen King
  • All Our Yesterdays – Cristin Terrill

May – Read a book set in a country you have never been to.

  • The Girl in the Tower (Russia)
  • Confessions – Kinae Minato (Japan)
  • Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa (Japan)
  • The Widows of Malabar Hill – Sujata Massey (India)

June – Read a book about friendship.

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire/Order of the Phoenix (I would read OotP if I read GoF earlier in the year.)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring/The Two Towers (Same as above)
  • Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl

July – Read a re-telling.

  • Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige (The Wizard of Oz)
  • The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand (A Christmas Carol)
  • The Child Thief – Brom (Peter Pan)
  • Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik (Rumplestiltskin)

August – Read a thriller where a female lead is in danger.

  • The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas
  • Sometimes I Lie – Alice Feeney
  • Unraveling Oliver- Liz Nugent
  • Broken Things – Lauren Oliver

September – Read a comedy.

  • Three Bags Full – Leonie Swann
  • My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzi Lee

October – Read a book about war.

  • A Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

November – Read a graphic novel/manga.

  • From Hell – Alan Moore
  • Fullmetal Alchemist – Hiromu Arakawa
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker – Jen Wang

December – Read a book that won an award in 2019.

This book I would have to pick closer to the time. These are just books I have in mind that fit the theme, I may decide later to read something else.

Any authors you plan to read more of?

I would love to read some of Brandon Sanderson‘s books. I have heard great things about his work and it seems like the kind of thing I would enjoy.

Any genres you plan to read more of?

I would love to read more classics. It’s probably the only genre I haven’t attempted to read, outside of school. So it would be good to try the genre out.

Link to ONTD Reading Challenge – https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/208213-2018-ontd-reading-challenge

Link to my Goodreads page – https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/45790257-india

Bookish Questions Tag

So, I thought I would give a bit more of an insight into my reading habits and opinions by answering a few questions to do with all things books.

1.What was the last book you read? The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

2. What book are you currently reading? I am currently reading The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein. One of my best friends adores the series and she nearly cried when I told her I had decided to pick it up!

3. How often do you read? I try to read every day. I read on the bus mostly, when I’m commuting to and from work.

4. What was the last bad book you read? The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. It was just so boring and lacklustre.

5. What’s your favourite book? I’d say right now my favourite book is Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft. The worldbuilding, the intricate plot, the characters! Oh my gosh, it was amazing and I highly recommend it!

6. What’s your least favourite book? Probably Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I never got the hype surrounding the book. I preferred the movies a lot more.

7. Do you prefer physical books or e-books? I prefer physical books, I like collecting books and seeing them all organised and colourful on my shelf. Also, it’s a lot more satisfying reading a physical book than an e-book.

8. What was your favourite book you had to read in school? It wasn’t actually a novel but it was the play, An Inspector Calls by J.B. Presitly. I love a good murder mystery so this appealed to me a lot!

9. What is your favourite book series? I would have to say, the Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series. Both series I read in my childhood and plan to re-read now i’m older.

10. What is your favourite genre? I can’t pick just one sadly, so i will have to go with, Fantasy, Murder Mystery and re-tellings (not sure if that’s a genre).

11. Who is your favourite fictional character? Again, I can’t pick just one! Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, Circe from Circe by Madeline Miller, Hercule Poirot and James from Lost Boy by Christina Henry.

12. Has a book ever transported you somewhere? I think all good books must be able to transport the reader to their world. Notable books where I found this happen includes; Senlin Ascends, Scythe by Neal Shusterman, Alice by Christina Henry and Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

13. How long does it take your to read a book? It depends really on how much I enjoy the book. If I really enjoy the book it could take 3-5 days but on average it takes me just over a week.

13. Where is your favourite place to read? I mostly used to just read in my bedroom but now that I must commute to and from work on the bus. I find that that’s where I love to read the most as it’s a perfect way to relax after a hectic day.

15. Who gave you your love of reading? Probably my Nan. She was the one who introduced me to Harry Potter which was the first set of books that I loved. I am now the person in my family who inspires other people to read which is really lovely.

16. What book is next on your list to read? I have a massive TBR list and I know that more books are coming due to Christmas being in a number of days but off the top of my head I’d say, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

17. What book have you re-read the most? Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I have read that book 4 times so far.

18. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several books at a time? I tend to read one book at a time but recently I have started reading two at at time. I find it hard to balance two books though so I will probably go back to just reading one.

19. What’s your policy on book-lending? I tend to not lend my books out to people. I have only ever done so with my mum and those books were And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

20. A genre you rarely read. I tend to not read contemporaries or romances. I don’t read a lot of contemporaries because they represent real-life and I prefer to get away from it and be transported into another world. I would only read a conetmporary if another genre was mixed in such as mystery or thriller. I don’t read romances as to me they can get quite boring, cringey and repetitive. I only read romances if it’s mixed in with another genre like fantasy.

21. Name a case in which hype ruined the book you were reading. I would say A Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace. I was shocked and disappointed with what I read. It was the first poetry anthology I had ever read and I didn’t understand why it was hyped up as much as she was. I then read her 2nd anthology A Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One and that was AMAZING!

22. If you could read in a foreign language, what language would you choose? I would choose Japanese. I have a lot of Japanese authors on my list and one of my favourite books this year was written by a Japanese author. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. It also means I get to read a variety of manga on initial release.

23. Books I am likely to bring on holiday. I would bring whatever is available. For example, if I have a lot of books given to me for Christmas that I haven’t read I will take them or I would just buy some books at Waterstones. Whatever I fancy to be honest.

24. Name a book you could not finish. I have DNF’d only a couple of books which I am happy about. The most recent book is The Magician’s Nephew. Others would include, New Moon by Stephanie Meyer, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead and Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I mainly DNF’d these because the writing was hard to follow or because the plot was boring.

25. Do you like to keep your books organised? Yes. I organise my shelf by alphabetical order of authors surname and then by chronological order if it’s a series.

26. Have there been any books you have been avoiding? I read Senlin Acsends in April of this year and I still haven’t read the sequel, The Arm of the Sphinx, as I’m worried I might not enjoy it as much as the first. The same goes for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I couldn’t really get into the Prisoner of Azkaban until the final 6 chapters so I am worried that if I re-read Goblet of Fire I won’t enjoy it that much.

27. Name a book you didn’t expect to like but did. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completley Fine by Gail Honeyman. I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy it because it was an adult contemporary (which isn’t a genre I read a lot) and by what people had told me I thought it was going to be sort of like a self-help book about learning to live instead of just surviving. But I was enthralled by the characters, the diaglouge and the plot wasn’t what it seems to be first hand which impressed me.

28. Do you wish to be a writer? I feel like I have great ideas that could be really good books but I lack the skill and could never produce a book that would make someone go wow! I would have to hire a ghost writer.

29. A book that was ruined by the movie adaptation. For me Percy Jackson and the Lighting Theif/Sea of Monsters. I read the series because I really enjoyed the movies and I was shocked by how bad the movies were compared to the books.

30. A movie that has done a book justice. For me I would say the original Death on the Nile movie starring Peter Ustinoff as Hercule Poirot. It’s quite dialogue heavy but it’s so intricately done.

The Series I Plan To Re-read in the Future.

2018 has probably been my best reading year to date. So far I have read 31 books beating my target of 22 and I still have one book left that I want to read in the last 2-3 weeks left of December. Now that we are nearing the end of the year I want to look forward and start planning books I would like to read in 2019 and while that post will be coming in the following weeks. This post is a bit different.

The books in this list are a mixture of series I have completed and want to read again and series I started reading a couple of years ago but never finished, with this series I would start with re-reading the books I had already read and then continuing where I left off.

The reason this isn’t in my 2019 plan is that I wouldn’t be able to finish all of these series in one year as well as reading other books. This is more of a plan to cover the next 2 or 3 years. First up…

  • Series: Harry Potter
  • Author: J.K Rowling
  • Status: Currently Re-reading 
  • Last Book I Read: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • No. of Books: 7

I decided early this year that I wanted to re-read the Harry Potter series. I have tried so many times to re-read the series, which I first read when I was 11, but I always gave up when it got to “Goblet of Fire”. The last time I tried to tackle this series I was 14 and got to the First Task chapter of the 4th book. Since then I have been listening to a variety of Harry Potter themed podcasts and it’s reignited my love for Harry Potter and the desire to re-read the series. One of the other main reasons was that I couldn’t remember much about the series from “Goblet of Fire” onwards especially not “Half-Blood Prince” and “Deathly Hallows” so I wanted to re-jig my memory and read the series through older eyes. 

So far I have read; “Philosopher’s Stone”, “Chamber of Secrets” and “Prisoner of Azkaban”. I loved the “Philosopher’s Stone” as it brought back a lot of fond memories for me and I loved the “Chamber of Secrets” due to the murder mystery element to it. My opinion of the book actually changed due to the re-read, I love it a lot more this time around. I liked “Prisoner of Azkaban” but didn’t love it. It was still very good but I just wasn’t drawn into the world as much as I was with the other two books. My plan is to read “Goblet of Fire” next year and carry on the series. After I read Harry Potter I will then begin to re-read…

  • Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
  • Author: Rick Riordan
  • Status: Finished series
  • No. of Books: 5

I got this series a couple of Christmas’ ago after my dad and I watched the movie and I loved it so much I asked for the books for Christmas and boy was I shocked by how bad the movies were. Those movies were the epitome of “the book was better”. I was always a massive fan of Greek Mythology and the idea of mixing modern day and ancient gods together blew my mind!

I finished this series nearly 5 years ago and remember loving it but that’s the only thing I can remember about these books as I have completely forgotten what happens in this series. The movies can’t help you as they were so badly done and there were only 2 made! So one of the reasons I wanted to read this book was to remind myself about what happens.

Another reason is I remember loving it so much! This series to me was one of the first series where I realised that there wasn’t just Harry Potter out there. I didn’t think I would ever find a series that would match my love for Harry Potter and yet here we are.

  • Series: The Heroes of Olympus
  • Author: Rick Riordan
  • Status: Need to finish
  • Last Book I read: The Mark of Athena (Book 3)
  • No. of Books: 5

You are going to see a lot of Rick Riordan in this post, just to make you all aware. I was really scared reading the Lost Hero as I thought I wasn’t going to love it as much as I loved the previous series. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the new characters and I wasn’t sure what direction this book was going to go. I was relieved when I finished this book that I loved it just as much as I loved the original series and to me, it felt fresh and new, not using recycled storylines which was what I feared it was going to include. 

I haven’t finished this series, when I was reading the third book, “The Mark of Athena” the last book came out and I saw loads of spoilers posted by fans so I wasn’t really interested in finishing the series as I now knew the outcomes. So my plan is to re-read the first three books which I have already read first just so I can remind myself what is happening and then continue from there.

  • Series: The Trials of Apollo
  • Author: Rick Riordan
  • Status: To be read
  • No. of Books: 3

So I haven’t actually read the Trials of Apollo series. I haven’t even read one book. The reason this series is in the list is it’s continuation of the same world that “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and” The Hereos of Olympus” series are in and I know that big things happen to characters introduced in the previous series’ so I feel like I need to complete this world as it’s not the end of the journey for Percy and other characters, hence why this series is here.

  • Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
  • Author: Rick Riordan
  • Status: Need to finish
  • Last Book I read: The Sword of Summer (Book 1)
  • No of Books: 3

I read this book two years ago during the summer holidays when I first decided I was going to focus on reading more. It was one of the first books I ever logged into Goodreads. To me this book was not Rick’s best work but I still enjoyed it regardless. I love Rick’s stories and imagination and to be honest I don’t know much about Norse Mythology so it would be nice to learn more about it as well as finishing this action-packed trilogy.

  • Series: The Chronicles of Narnia
  • Author: C.S. Lewis
  • Status: Currently Re-reading
  • Last Book I Read: The Magician’s Nephew (Book 1)
  • No. of Books: 7

I have had the entire book series standing on my book-shelf for I don’t know how long! I read up to “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” but haven’t read any of the following novels. During December I like to read smaller books just to amp up the numbers on my Goodreads reading challenge so I decided to pick up the Magician’s Nephew in the hopes of a quick read. That book is left unfinished at it was quite dull. I am hoping when I re-read the next book I won’t be so disappointed. I mainly wanted to read this series as I love this world so much, I watched the first 3 movies and adored them and I want to continue being in this world. 

  • Series: Agatha Christie’s entire collection.
  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Status: Need to Finish
  • Last Book I Read: The Murder on the Links (Book 2 in the Hercule Poirot Series)
  • No. of Books: To many to count

I have watched adaptations of Agatha Christie’s work since I was about 10. I have the whole box set of every episode of the Hercule Poirot TV series but I have only ever read 3 of her books. Two which were from her Hercule Poirot series and one which was a standalone story. I want to read Christie’s work because I love her imagination and genius. Having watched everything unfold on the screen I would love to now watch it unfold on the page. I also love the fact that there are so many books and I want to challenge myself to read all of them. I love a challenge.

So there you have it. Quite a lot of books to get through. The next book I will be reading starting Monday will be The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien.

The Magician’s Nephew Re-read Review

  • Author: C.S. Lewis
  • Series: The Chronicles of Narnia (Book 1 of 7)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of Pages: 221
  • Date Read: 04.12.18 – 10.12.18 (Did not finish, stopped on page 148)
  • Rating: 2 stars 

“Make your choice, adventurous stranger; Strike the bell and bide the danger, or wonder, till it drives you mad, what would have followed if you had.”


This book was disappointing, to say the least. I remember reading it a couple of years ago and liking it. When I thought about reading the Chronicles of Narnia series I was quite excited to re-read this book. I wish I didn’t.

POSITIVES:

The magic in this book is really lovely. I loved the idea of the rings that took you to a magical wood that could take to a variety of worlds and I loved the idea of Charn being this post-apocalyptic world caused by a jealous Witch. I really enjoyed the scene where Narnia forms and we see Aslan for the first time. They were all great ideas and were written really well. I just loved the imagniation.

Lewis’ writing when describing magic and scenes where magic is abundant was really beautiful, he had a way with words that I have always tried to replicate but never mastered. I really enjoyed his description of the “Wood between Worlds” and the beginning of Narnia, he places you within the scene as if you are seeing the events unfold alongside the characters.

NEGATIVES:

The characters were incredibly two-dimensional and black and white. You were either evil or good there is no in-between. This made for very bland characters that I didn’t care that much about. The children were incredibly boring which was frustrating to read, as it was their story and their journey. Queen Jadis was my favourite character but again she was very bulk-standard. She was just really evil, which I don’t normally mind but it just seemed that,  like with all the characters, she lacked personality.

The first half of the plot was incredibly rushed. Within one paragraph we are meant to believe that Digory and Polly become the best of friends who open up about the tough times in their life. It was quite hard to believe and another reason why I couldn’t warm up to them as it all felt slightly fake and forced. I loved Charn and really liked the chapters when they were there but again it was rushed, not much was explored which was really disappointing as it was a really interesting, probably the most interesting, part of the story. And then suddenly, Queen Jadis is living it up in London causing havoc and it just felt like the plot was all over the place which was also disappointing.

Overall the story was lacklustre, great ideas but bad execution.

Top 5 Bookish Podcasts I’m Listening To Right Now!

About two years ago I started listening to podcasts as I was getting a bit bored with the music on my playlist. My trips to college would take 15 – 30 minutes each way so listening to the same kind of music got tiresome. Trawling through Spotify I noticed a button to podcasts and was shocked by the vast amount and variety. I have been listening to podcasts ever since. I mianly listen to podcasts during my commute to work and back, it’s the best way to relax after a long day at work.

Most of the podcasts I listen to are based on books or story-telling while I try to vary what I listen to I always come back to the same couple of podcasts. Which I am about to introduce to you now…

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is my favourite podcast at the moment. The premise of the podcast is using the novels from the Harry Potter series as if they were scared and holy texts and see if we can learn something from each chapter, characters or important events. Each chapter is seen through a specific theme to help better the discussion between the two hosts e.g. Book 1, Chapter 7 they view the chapter “The Sorting Hat” through the theme of vulnerability and they discuss that theme alongside the chapter. 

You don’t have to be a religious person to enjoy this podcast, I love listening to the two co-hosts, Vanessa Zoltan and Casper ter Kuile, discuss and analyse each chapter in depth and seeing how the content can relate to my life or something I have been through. For many listeners the advice that Vanessa and Casper give have helped them through very tough times.

So far they have just started reading the 5th book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and I love hearing them discuss more  serious topics now that the series is getting more and more darker.

HPST has a specific structure that they follow each episode. 

  • The Story  – The first part of the episode focuses on one of the two co-hosts telling a story of something they experienced in their life that follows the theme of that week’s episode. e.g. A time they felt vulnerable.
  • The Discussion – This part of the episode they discuss important moments where they saw the theme occur in the chapter.
  • The Sacred Practice – This part focuses on using religious practice and applying it to the text. e.g. Sacred Imagination, where one host reads part of the chapter and other must close their eyes and place themselves in the scene. After placing themselves within a scene they then discuss what they feel called to do. If they were in a scene where Neville is ridiculed by the trio they then call themselves to reach out to friends they may have been harsh or neglectful to etc.
  • The Voicemail – Some listeners send over voicemails about their thoughts and feelings from previous episodes, they may ask the hosts a question or just say where they saw a theme pop up in the chapter or how their podcast has helped them during times of struggle.
  • The Blessing – Finally at the end of the podcast they give a blessing to one of the characters in the book. Maybe it’s for their bravery or their inteligence or just for them being present in the chapter. Vanessa also decides to only bless women in the books, to raise up female characters in the series.

Notable episodes include:

  • Book 1 Chapter 7: Vulnrebility – The Sorting Hat
  • Book 1 Chapter 10: Friendship – Halloween
  • Book 1 Chapter 16: Destiny – Through the Trapdoor
  • Book 2 Chapter 3: Curiosity – The Burrow
  • Book 2 Chapter 6: Attraction – Gilderoy Lockhart
  • Book 2 Chapter 16: Grace – The Chamber of Secrets
  • Book 3 Chapter 5: Foresight – The Dementors
  • Book 3 Chapter 7: Humor – The Boggart in the Wardrobe
  • Book 3 Chapter 19: Mercy – The Servant of Lord Voldermort
  • Book 4 Chapter 6: Acceptance – The Portkey
  • Book 4 Chapter 23: Guilt – The Yule Ball
  • Book 4 Chapter 26: Loyalty – The Second Task
  • Book 4 Chapter 34: Grief – Priori Incantatem

Potterless

Potterless is a podcast by Mike Shubert, he has never read the Harry Potter series and decides to read it for the first time as an adult. He discusses important parts of each chapter with massive Harry Potter fans and its fun to listen to him guess plot points, character alignment and the ending of the series based on what little knowledge he has.

He talks about his hatred for the game Quidditch and my favourite part of his podcast is him delving deep into the plot holes that litter through the novels. I am currently listening to him read the 4th book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. His episodes focus on him grouping a couple of chapters together so I don’t have a particular favourite episode but I did enjoy him talk about the final five chapters of the Prisoner of Azkaban as his reactions were really funny.

Fantastic Geeks and Where To Find Them

The newest podcast on the list. Fantastic Geeks and Where To Find Them is a podcasts by YouTubers, Tessa Netting and Anna Brisbin, also known as Brizzy Voices. They focus a lot on Harry Potter but also talk about topics such as Marvel and Star Wars. They awnser your questions about their thoughts on specifc topics, they debate controversial moments in Harry Potter and have a section where they sort characters not from the Harry Potter series in Hogwarts Houses. It’s a very positive podcast which is a lot of fun to listen to when you want to forget about the stressful things in life.

I have really enjoyed their first three episodes where they discuss, Harry Potter, the first Fantastic Beasts movie and Black Panther. They have just celebrated their first season, which is 40 episodes long so there are a lot of episodes to binge-listen too.

Myths and Legends

Moving away from Harry Potter. I have been listening to this podcast for the past two years. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin, Jason Weiser tells the story of a variety of myths and legends from around the world. He talks about Greek myths, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Vikings, African and Native American Myths. A whole variety!

I personally love when he is telling the story as he adds in little side comments and his opinions on certain matters and it gives you abit of an insight into who Jason is as most of the time he is just the story-teller you listen to on the way to work. The variety is also very good so you consume more culture and learn new things. 

Some of my favourite episodes include:

  • Episode 4: Mulan
  • Episode 20: Prayers (Korean Folklore)
  • Episode 21: The Snow Queen
  • Episode 26: Wisdom (Japanese Fairytales)
  • Episode 42: Cinderella (Original Chinese Version)
  • Episode 55: A Grimm Fairytale
  • Episode 61: One Ring – King Soloman
  • Episode 72: Kelpie
  • Episode 77: Mrs Piggy (Romanian Folklore)
  • Episode 81: Trolls
  • Episode 84: The Rule of Three
  • Episode 98: Runner in the Night (Native American History)
  • Episode 107: Golem (Jewish Tale)

Lore

The first podcast I have ever listened to Aaron Mahnke’s Lore has cultivated in not just a podcasts but a TV show on Amazon and a trilogy of books called, “The World of Lore”.

The podcast focuses on supernatural and paranormal stories/tales from mainly the Victorian era and the first “settlers” of America and the American reveolution but he also focses on other eras but mainly from the 1930’s downwards. 

Working with composer Chad Lawson, Mahnke manages to create a spooky and tense atmosphere. His narration draws you in as he paints a terrifying picture for you, of the horrible acts of mankind and after every episode, I question “Do ghosts really exist?” He posts every two weeks and I am fully up to date with his episodes and I can’t wait to listen to the next one.

I love every single episode of this podcasts but he titles each episode as stories and doesn’t detail much in the description about what he is going to talk about so trying to find my favourite episodes was hard.

  • Episode 8: The Castle
  • Episode 10: Steam and Gas
  • Episode 34: All the Lovely Ladies
  • Episode 42: In the Bag
  • Epside 43: Supply and Demand
  • Epsidoe 60: If Walls Could Talk
  • Episode 78: Exposure
  • Episode 93: A Place To Lay Your Head
  • Episode 102: Devil in the Detials

The Murder on the Links Review

  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Series: Hercule Poirot (Book 2 of 41)
  • Genre: Murder Mystery, Crime
  • Date Read: Nov 25th -3rd Dec 2018
  • Rating: 5 stars

“You may know all about cigarettes and match ends, Monsieur Giraud, but I, Hercule Poirot, know the mind of man.”

– Hercule Poirot

I am a massive fan of Agatha Christie’s work that being said I have only read 4 of her books, including this one. I have mainly consumed her work through TV and film and only now as I am older have I started to read her books instead of watching the mystery unfold on the screen.

Plot: Poirot gets sent an urgent letter by a man called Mr Paul Renauld upon urgent matters he would tell him about upon his arrival but when Poirot arrives to France per Mr Renauld’s request he finds that he is too late. Mr Renauld is already dead! With a mysterious past and the rumour of affairs, Poirot finds himself in a truly complicated case.

The characters were incredibly fleshed out which I really appreciated as my first thought was they were going to be walking stereotypes. My personal favourites were Poriot himself and Giraud, the French detective bought in to solve the case. These two characters are complete polar opposites to each other. Poirot is more calculating and takes his time while Giraud was like a puppy on a scent and was boisterous in his approach, overlooking certain elements. Poirot’s dialogue was perfection throughout the whole novel especially in the scenes between him and Giraud. I loved the scenes where they butted heads and had differing opinions.

Hastings as a character was quite infuriating especially near to the end of the novel, he was naïve and at times just plain stupid. I had moments where I wanted to shout at him because he was clearly making mistakes and had a constant lack of judgement. But as a narrator I loved him. This novel wouldn’t have worked if it was Poirot as the narrator or a random member of the accused party. We got to be as close to Poirot’s brain as possible but because Hastings didn’t fully understand certain elements of the case or what Poirot is saying as a reader we aren’t given all the information like we would be if Poirot was the narrator.

The plot was incredible. I can’t put into words how intricate and complex it was, just when you thought it was all sorted another twist or turn or point to consider was thrown into the mix and you are never fully settled until the last page. I was kept on my toes throughout the entire book. Christie has a really good ability to hand you loads of vital information but without revealing the core question which is, “Who killed Mr Renauld?” And that’s what kept me going as I was still waiting for this key question to be awnsered.

The plot is the main driving force on this book, the writing is average I was astounded by the writing style and you don’t need to be as the plot is so smart you forget about the writing and are waiting for the next big moment or reveal.

One part where I wasn’t sure if I liked or hated it was halfway through the book Poirot and Hastings just summarise points made in the last couple of chapters. This was good from a wrap-up point because if I was confused by anything it was explained but also felt slightly out of place to the rest of the narrative. But I can’t pinpoint my thoughts on it.

 I loved the book for keeping me on my toes throughout the it’s entirety and being utterly unique. I don’t think anyone can match Christie’s work, I cannot wait to read more.

Next book: The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis

My Favourite Books of All Time

I have read a lot of books over the last two years when I started using Goodreads as a way of tracking my progress. Over the past two + years, I have cultivated a list of my all-time favourite books. I think this a good thing to include early on in my blog as it gives you all an idea of the kinds of books I read and love. This is an ever-expanding list so I will always mention in my reviews whether this book makes it to my list or not and I will probably do another wrap up later on next year.  So let’s get going, in no particular order…

  • Title: Alice
  • Author: Christina Henry
  • Series: The Chronicles of Alice (Book 1 of 2)
  • Genre: Fantasy, Re-telling
  • Date Read: Feb 6th – 16th 2017

Plot: The story centers around Alice who was committed to a mental institute for insanity after her trip to “Wonderland”. All she can remember years later, is a tea party, long ears and a lot of blood, leaving her with a long scar on her cheek. One night the institute burns down and she escapes to find out what happened all those years ago.

Reasons why I loved it: It started my love of re-tellings, which has now become one of my favourite genres. I loved how dark the book was, the original Alice in Wonderland is known for its whimsical and quirky world but this book did a complete 180 and made it dark and dangerous. The themes explored in this book are not for the faint-hearted and can possibly be distressing to some people. Personally, that’s what made me like the book so much because it was so drastically different to the original and I liked seeing how Henry would twist certain original elements or characters to fit her new and dark world. All the characters were exceptional, these characters were not always black and white, some were incredibly evil and some were morally ambiguous. This is what made the story so compelling to read because you never knew the intentions of any characters Alice would meet. One thing Henry did capture from the original story was the high level of imagination, the world was so incredibly rich with originality and wonder but in a terribly dark way. The plot was incredibly interesting, full of mystery, horror and magic. The plot allowed us to meet a variety of characters, explore various parts of the world and see elements of magic both terrible and good. Christina Henry has become one of my favourite authors. 

  • Title: And Then There Were None
  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Murder Mystery, Thriller
  • Date Read: March 4th – 7th 2017

Plot: Ten people get invited to a Devon manor by a host who never arrives. Each character has been involved in a murder and this is their reason for being invited. As one by one they begin to die before the weekend is out there will be none. And all have the motive to do it.

Reasons why I loved it: The characters were so rich and flawed so when they were all slowly being killed off one by one you had a plethora of characters who it could possibly be which makes you want to read to the end. The nursery rhyme played at the beginning telling the characters how they will die was quite scary, while most of Christie’s work is cosy murder mysteries this book had the added edge of thriller to it which I really liked. The ending was really satisfying and I really like the reasoning behind inviting everyone to the manor and killing them off. The book was incredibly smart and it makes you want to applaud Christie’s writing because it was so well done!

  • Title: Battle Royale
  • Author: Koushun Takami
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Dystopian, Thriller, Action
  • Date Read: March 14th – June 13th 2018

Plot: Every year a high school class is chosen to be part of the Battle Royale program as part of an Authoritarian scheme to oppress the people of Japan. This year, a class is taken to a deserted island, handed a map, bread roll, water bottle and a weapon and must kill each other until one person is left standing.

Reasons why I loved it: The characterisation in this book was exceptional. Takami structured the book so at least a chapter or two was dedicated to each student, it sounds overwhelming as this class is very big but it is done really well so each student gets a moment to be in the forefront of the story. This is also incredibly heartbreaking, we connect more with the students as we read about their lives before the game and then see them die horrible deaths. We also so see a variety of relationships; platonic friendships, romantic relationships, unrequited love and friendships that fell apart. All of these relationships are explored thoroughly and I liked how all the students were connected in one way or another and again it made it more heartbreaking when they have to kill each other. Overall this book showed a lot of humanity and makes you look deep inside yourself. 

  • Title: Caraval
  • Author: Stephanie Garber
  • Series: Caraval (Book 1 of 3)
  • Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, YA
  • Date Read: Feb 13th- 16th 2018

Plot: Scarlett has always wanted to visit Caraval, a travelling performance show where the audience gets to participate. Stuck on the Isle of Trisda with a horrible father, Scarlett and her sister Donnatella finally receive the long-awaited invitations but no sooner do they arrive Donnatella is kidnapped by the Master Legend (shocking name) the owner of Caraval. Scarlett must find her sister before Caraval ends and Donnatella is lost to her forever.

Reasons why I loved it: The world of Caraval was so beautiful and magical and full of so much imagination from the colours to the rules of the game. Everything is so well thought out and I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the description of things and the immensity of the world. The plot had loads of twists and turns and the ending was a lot more shocking than I thought it was going to be. Garber’s writing is the kind of writing I try to stay away from, overly flowery and not very logical, focusing on imagery, but I felt that it worked really well with the world she has created. 

  • Title: Circe
  • Author: Madeline Miller
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Fantasy, Mythological, Historical, Re-telling
  • Dates Read: Nov 10th -25th 2018

Plot: (Taken from my review last week) 
Circe is all about the life of the famous witch of Greek mythology. The book details her life from her birth to the end. You see her life intertwine with other well-known characters and myths and you see another side to the somewhat evil witch.

Reasons why I loved it: Circe as a character has a very strong character arc starting off as weak and naïve and ending as an all-powerful witch who can do as she pleases. The writing was really well done I felt it added a level of magic to the story. The description of places whisks you away so you felt like you were there with her. I loved the episodic structure of the book focusing on 10 key moments in her life in detail and giving you an insight into how it changed her. I also loved how her story intertwined with so many well-known myths!

  • Title: The Five People You Meet In Heaven
  • Author: Mitch Albom
  • Series: TFPYMIH Duology (Book 1 of 2)
  • Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
  • Date Read: Aug 1st – 3rd 2016

Plot: Eddie, a wounded war veteran, is killed in a tragic accident trying to save a little girl. He awakes to find he is in heaven and proceeds to have the meaning of his time on earth spoken to him by five of the most important people in his life. But they aren’t who you think they are.

Reasons why I loved it: It was an incredibly inspirational story about the mark you leave on the world that made me so incredibly upset but also happy. Eddie was an amazing character that could be anyone, he hads his flaws, his doubts, his great moments and his worst moments. 

  • Title: Gemina
  • Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Series: The Illuminae Files (Book 2 of 3)
  • Genre: Sci-fi, Action, Romance
  • Dates Read: Apr 30th – May 12th 2018

Plot: The story follows Hanna and Nik. Hanna and Nik live on space station called the Heimdall, Hannah is the captain’s daughter highly pampered with a great life while Nik is a reluctant member of a crime family. Due to the events of the first book, a strike team lands on the space station and begins to kill everyone on it and it’s up to Hanna and Nik to defend their home before it’s too late.

Reasons why I loved it: One of the stand out things about the series is the fact that the story is presented through files, so text messages, transcriptions of scenes etc. This was done really well and I was still just as drawn into the story with this style as I am with normal prose. The comedy in this is done really well, the transcription guy and Nik were stand out performers. Nik was a brilliant character that I warmed to immediately and while initially, I wasn’t sure on Hanna she came through and ended up being a strong female character. The story was a lot more interesting and compelling compared to the first book.

  • Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Author: J.K. Rowling
  • Series: Harry Potter (Book 2 of 7)
  • Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
  • Dates Read: May 31st – June 18th 2018

Plot: Harry Potter heads back to Hogwarts for his 2nd year even after the ominous warning from the House Elf Dobby about terrible things about to happend. Harry thinks nothing of it until the warning start to ring true as students begin to get attacked but “The Heir of Slytherin”.

Reasons why I loved it: I loved the mystery element of this, it was kid’s murder mystery and it was done extremely well.  It made me realise that while I painted the first 3 books off as the lighter of the series this is wrong because I was shocked by how dark this book was. We see the introduction of blood supremacy, Ginny being taken over by Voldemort, Harry’s relationship with Voldemort and Slytherin. I am so glad I re-read this.

  • Title: The Last Days of Jack Sparks
  • Author: Jason Arnopp
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Paranormal, Thriller 
  • Date Read: June 14th -18th 2017

Plot: In 2014, Jack Sparks, a controversial journalist dies in mysterious circumstances. Everyone knows his next book was on the occult when a tweet went viral after he took the mick out of an exorcism. Nobody knows what happened to him until now, this book details the last moments of Jack’s life and they are horrifying.

Reasons why I loved it: Jack was an incredibly charismatic character which even though he might have annoyed you, you can’t help but love him. I found his character incredibly interesting to read. The paranormal elements of the book were fantastic I was hooked from the beginning with this book. The last third of the book I couldn’t put down because it was so crazy and the pacing made it feel as if I was being chased by something horrible.

  • Title: Lost Boy
  • Author: Christina Henry
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Re-telling, Fantasy, Horror
  • Dates Read: Feb 11th -12th 2018

Plot: This book is the origin story to Captain Hook and how he went from Peter Pan’s right-hand man and best friend to his worst enemy.

Reasons why I loved it: This the first book I have ever cried over. I loved James as a character he was so kind and didn’t deserve all the stuff he was put through. Peter Pan was an amazing character I loved how twisted he was it was, in a weird way, refreshing to read a character so opposite to stuff I normally read. Like I said with Alice, Neverland is a beautiful and magical world but in this story, Henry turns it into a nightmare and I love to see how she takes well-known parts of Neverland and twists it. This book was so heartbreaking to read and I felt completely drained when I finishhd it.

  • Title: Sycthe
  • Author: Neal Shusterman
  • Series: Arc of A Sycthe (Book 1 of 3)
  • Genre: Dystopian, Sci Fi
  • Dates Read: July 10th -14th 2018

Plot: In this story, the world we live in has evolved. It has solved world hunger, cured all illnesses and learent how to reverse death so that no one can die. To keep the population size under control certain people known as Scythes must randomly choose people to die and are the only ones who can kill. Our main two chacrters Citra and ROwan are apprentices under orders to become the next Sycthe under Scythe Faraday, but their is a catch only one of them will be chosen and the person who sin’t chosen will be killed instantly by the other.

Reasons why I loved it: In this novel we see many different way a scythe can kill somone and this is automatically linked with their philosophy on death which was really interesting to read about. Rowan was my favourite of the two apprencticeships, because he is given a better character growth. The world building was really good and set up the premise of the story really well.

  • Title: Senlin Ascends
  • Author: Josiah Bancroft
  • Series: The Tower of Babel (Book 1 of 4)
  • Genre: Steampunk, Action, Adventure
  • Dates Read: March 16th – April 9th 2018

 MY FAVOURITE BOOK OF ALL TIME!

Plot: Thomas Senlin and his wife Marya are on their way to the Tower of Babel for their honeymoon, a place that Senlin has been researching for a long time. It’s a marvel, where each level of the tower is drastically different to the level below and above it. On their arrival Senlin loses Marya in the busy streets, after hearing rumours that once you lose someone in the Tower you may never see them again. Senlin sets of in search of his missing bride.

Reasons why I loved it: The tower is so original and imaginative and I remember being blown away by the vastness of it. I loved how different each “ringdom” as they are called are. Each character that Senlin meets is important or impacts him and his quest in a certain way and no character feels unnecessary to the plot at all. The pacing was really good I never felt the story lull in any way. There was a good mixture of keeping on track about finding Marya and also exploring the ringdom he is in. Each level is like a small episode and it bring new characters and new hints to Marya’s whereabouts and about the mystery of the Tower. The story gets more and more intense as it goes on and allows enough wonder to make you want to read the next book.

  • Title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
  • Author: Stuart Turton
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Murder Mystery
  • Dates Read: July 17th -21st 2018

Plot: Aiden Bishop must find out who killed Evelyn Hardcastle, a murder than no-one was able to solve. He has 8 days to find out who did it but here’s the catch. Each day he wakes up in a different body of someone who was at the party where she died and each day is repeated on loop. He must find out who did it or else his brain will be wiped and he must start again.

Reasons why I loved it: Aiden Bishop was the character I was waiting for, I wanted to see him succeed so badly through this book. I felt that the entire premise of switching bodies and repeating the days was executed really well, I never got confused by the large cast of characters or their different opinions or reasons. I felt that Turton managed to leave something of interest in each chapter so it would keep you reading. The final quarter of the book just drops in it and I couldn’t believe what I was reading, i devoured the pgaes.

I am really excited to see what 2019 brings and to see what books will be added to this ever expanding list. 

Circe Review *spoilers*

“You know I have stood against Athena. I have walked in the blackest deeps. You cannot guess what spells I have cast, what poisons I have gathered to protect myself against you, how your power may rebound on your head. Who knows what is in me? Will you find out?”

– Circe to Helios when she demands the end to her exile.

I have read Madeline Miller’s debut novel “The Song of Achilles” earlier this year and really enjoyed it, giving it 3 stars on Goodreads. I liked it but thought that it could have been improved on is went into Circe thinking I was going to have the same opinion. I was blown away by the improvement in this novel, especially when it came to her writing as her writing style is what made me struggle with her first book.

Circe is all about the life of the famous witch of Greek mythology. The book details her life from her birth to the end. You see her life intertwine with other well-known characters and myths and you see another side to the somewhat evil witch.

POSITIVES:  Circe – She is incredible. I have never seen any other character go through such a strong character arc than her. We see her start off as a meek and fragile nymph who tries what she can to please or gain attention from her family. She is a nobody in the world of the nymphs’ and Titans but all that changes and by the end she is this wise, caring and strong witch who exudes power and kindness. Probably the most notable of scenes where we see this development was in the final conversation between her and her father Helios. She threatens him and defies him and doesn’t shrink away from him when he gets angry. This is a complete juxtaposition from her character at the beginning of the novel who literally knealt at his feet.

Descriptive Writing – The way Madeline writes is incredibly descriptive, she paints a picture for you with her words so you can visualise characters, conversations and locations. Most notable scenes of intense descriptions included:

  • When Helios burns Circe for disobeying him in front of the other gods.
  • Glaucos’ transformation.
  • The Minotaurs birth.
  • Scylla’s death.
  • Any scene describing Aiaia.

I really enjoyed Madeline’s descriptions as I felt I could place myself within the story and watch the scenes unfold as if I was there, rather than a god watching from above.

Dialogue – I loved all the dialogue in this story, each character had a different way of talking compared to others. The nymphs had a more sing-songy way of talking which fits there disposition very well. Character’s like Daedalus, Odysseus and Telemachus were very straight talking and logical while characters like Pasiphae, Hermes and Athena had more evil undertones. When you put these different ways of speaking together it makes for incredibly interesting dialogue, to the point where I couldn’t stop reading as I wanted to see it how it ended. Scenes such as:

  • Pasiphae and Circe’s confrontation on Crete.
  • Athena and Circe’s confrontation on Aiaia over Telegonus.
  • Odysseus and Telegonus’ conversation on Ithaca.
  • Daedalus and Circe’s conversation at Daedalus’ home.
  • Athena and Telemachus’ conversation on Aiaia.

Episodic Structure – By far my favourite part of the story was the episodic structure to the narrative. Since this story covers the entirety of Circe’s life, I felt it was split into parts. They all focused on important moments of her life whether it introduced meaningful relationships or made her grow as a person. You could easily turn this story into a 10 part mini-series on Netflix or the BBC as it so structurally sound.

  • Part 1 – Childhood. This shows Circe’s upbringing, giving an insight into her life as a nymph. You meet her father, mother, brothers and sister and see out of place she feels in this world. We also have a notable scene where she comforts Prometheus during the beginning of his torture, showing off her kind side and how she is unlike everybody else.
  • Part 2 – Glaucos. Here is where we meet the first love interest of many to walk into her life and the first signs of her sorcery. Within this part, we see her turn her first love into a God so she can be with him forever, acts out in jealousy when he plans to marry another, turning that nymph into one of the most famous Greek monsters of all time. This scene is important as it shows her raw strength with magic and is also the catalyst for the rest of the novel.
  • Part 3 – Exile. Here we see her sentenced to exile on Aiaia. This part is important as we see Circe begin to hone her powers to a more refined art. We also see the introduction of her second male love interest the god Hermes, who is an important character throughout the novel.
  • Part 4 – Daedalus and the Minotaur. Daedalus is an important character in Circe’s life. He leaves a mark on her forever showing Circe there are men out there that do her no harm. Also, we see the origin story of the Minotaur showing the birth and the first few weeks of his life. Circe plays an important part in this myth.
  • Part 5 – Medea and the sending of the difficult daughters. Here we see another myth overlay with Circe’s story. We see her warn Medea about Jason and also we see her form the image that she is well-known for which is the witch women with the pretty nymphs.
  • Part 6 – The Pigs. Circe is probably most well-known for her spell of turning men into pigs and here we see the reason why she did it.
  • Part 7 – Odysseus. Probaly the most well-known part of Circe’s story. It’s her stint with Odyyseus. They learn a lot from each other during the 2 seasons in which they keep each other company and we learn about the story through her eyes. 
  • Part 8 – Telegonus. Her son. This whole part is about Circe dealing with motherhood and mortality. We see her best her brother who is the more powerful of her siblings, defeat one of the old gods and stand up against Athena herself; showing how powerful she truly is
  • Part 9- Telemachus and Penelope. This scene is important as it tells the story of after Odysseus’ death. We see her say goodbye to her son, meet the man who would become her lifelong partner and the woman who will take over Aiaia.
  • Part 10 – End. Here we see the end of many things. Scylla dies, Circe’s exile ends, Circe cuts all ties with her father, she leaves Aiaia in the capable hands of Penelope and ends her immortality opting for a mortal life.

NEGATIVES:

I only have one negative which is a bit similar to what I said in The Song of Achilles review. Her sentence structure was abit all over the place. She opted for a lot of short sentences which at times I felt stopped the flow of the story and made it feel jilted and would take you out of the narrative.

Overall: It was a spellbinding book that deserves 5 stars and a name in my favourite books of all time list. I loved Circe as a character, the episodic structure of character defining moments and incredible dialogue.

“All my life, I have been moving forward, and now I am here.”

– Circe

The Song of Achilles review.  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2365241002?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1