Posted in Wrap up

December 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

“A girl is running for her life.”

First line in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Somehow 2020 has ended, although I’m still checking the calendar quite often just to be sure. Not that 2021 is just magically going to solve everything right away, but it feels like we’re closer to an end to this pandemic.

My December was pretty much all work. As a postal worker, December really hits hard, and this year was even crazier than usual. I’m so glad it’s over! Right now, I could sleep for a month.
I still got some reading done, but, as has been the trend the last couple of months, less than what I consider average. Here are the stats:

The number of pages read was greatly helped by the fact that I finished a book of 1,000 pages that I had started in October (The Wise Man’s Fear). I had one reread this month, which was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I won’t be reviewing that one. That leaves three books to get mini-reviews, and I think the headline for this month should be “Line doesn’t like popular books”. Enjoy!

Return of the Thief (The Queen’s Thief #6)

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

Published: October 6th 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Thief.

My thoughts

What can I say about a sixth and final book in a series without spoiling you? Well, I can say that was a very satisfying conclusion. All of the five previous books in the series work as standalones, but this final one still managed to use something from all of them to bind everything together. My only critique is that I wanted a little bit more from the ending to this book. We spend a lot of time building up to the end when the conclusion itself is quite brief. I would have liked to see some stuff wrapped up more nicely.

However, this last book confirms that the series belongs among my all-time favorites. I love Turner’s writing and the way she shapes her characters. It is unlike any YA fantasy I’ve ever read. There are also so many hidden meanings in her writing, meaning it’s a series I expect to love even more when I reread it someday.

The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicle #2)

Author: Patrick Rothfuss

Published: March 1st 2011

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Read the synopsis of the first book, The Name of the Wind on Goodreads.

My thoughts

No. Just no. This book was unbelievably boring. I refuse to believe that every single scene was necessary to do whatever it is that Rothfuss is doing. So much of it is repeating the same stuff over and over and over again. It was interesting in the first book with the plot also visibly moving forward, but here in the second one, we’re just walking in circles.

There are still important scenes in here which make this book worth reading. Whenever I came across those, I was fully immersed in the story, however, they were very far between.

Finally, I will say that I almost gave it a better rating because I still really enjoy the writing, but the last third ruined that. Without going into spoilers, I’ll just say that it suddenly became very clear that this book is written by a man. The cringe! So much cringe! I’m still working on erasing images and conversations from my mind.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Author: V. E. Schwab

Published: October 6th 2020

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Deals with the devil, romance, immortality,

Synopsis: France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Those 3 stars might be a bit generous, and they’re more a reflection of how I can see this book working for other readers. Just not me. It so didn’t work for me. It’s funny because I see this book being recommended to people who love slow, atmospheric, character-driven stories, which is usually right up my alley. It just requires a better execution than this book had (please, don’t kill me).

The writing is very ambitious and very lyrical, but it’s just not done well. I didn’t feel the atmosphere. I didn’t feel her characters. Schwab was too busy coming up with 20 different ways of saying the same thing. And that’s why I think I didn’t connect with the characters. They had about three characteristics that Schwab kept telling us about over and over again. They didn’t have any depth. This kind of writing also hindered the plot as a huge part of each scene was dedicated to Addie walking around thinking up metaphors. It’s actually possible for writing to be beautiful AND progress the plot and the characters at the same time.

Finally, I was also quite disappointed with the plot that we did get, but then we’re going into spoiler-territory. I also know a lot of people love this book, so I’m going to stop my ranting.

Those were the last few books I read in 2020! I’m ready for 2021 to start and for it to be filled with amazing books. What was your favorite read of December?

Posted in Wrap up

November 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

“It’s easy to think that nobody could really arrange the world like clockwork.”

First line in The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley

IT’S DECEMBER!!

We’ve finally reached the best month of the year! I love the Christmas feeling of December, but it’s also always a month of stress. I happen to work for the postal service here and we’re preeetty busy for about a month and a half. Like, I’m already constantly exhausted and it’s only getting worse. Just letting you know because it might affect my blogging. I don’t have that much energy left in the evenings, so I’m pretty much only writing posts on the weekends. It’s stressing me out a little bit because there are so many end-of-the-year-posts I want to start working on. And I still want to read other bloggers’ posts. And I also need to read books. And buy Christmas presents. Help.

Oh well, let’s wrap up November first, shall we? Here are the stats:

Well, the amount I read is better than last month even though I’m still not living up to my usual standards. December is probably not going to change that either. In terms of quality, there were some very book good books and some very bad books, which gives me that middle-of-the-road average rating. But that’s all I have to say for now, so let’s jump into the mini-reviews for the month.

The Shadow Rising (Wheel of Time #4)

Author: Robert Jordan

Published: September 15th 1992

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Eye of the World.

My thoughts

This felt like a chore to get through. My copy was 1,001 pages long and again I feel like half would have been enough. We spend a lot of time building up to something, and it’s like the characters are going in circles with the only purpose of making this book 1,000 pages long. I had the same criticism of book 3, but at least the pay-off at the end in book 4 was better. Just not enough to overshadow all that meandering.

I will say that I loved the first 200 pages. There were some politics and a feeling that we were dealing with important aspects of the overall plot. Apparently, that was just to trick me into thinking that we were back on track with the good stuff from book 2.

This is a series where I’m really interested in the overall plot and find that incredibly exciting. But when the plot disappears (which it does a lot), it leaves repetitive writing and badly written YA-romances in its wake. I’m not sure it’s worth it anymore.

The Golem and the Jinni

Author: Helene Wecker

Published: April 1st 2013

Genre: Historical Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Multi-cultural New York, opposites attract, multiple POVs

Synopsis: Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic, created to be the wife of a man who dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free.

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker’s debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This was a very interesting read that mixed historical fiction and fantasy really well. I was particularly intrigued by the Middle Eastern aspect to this book and all the many different characters’ lives we follow. I have a full review for this if you’re interested in more of my thoughts.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2)

Author: Natasha Pulley

Published: February 18th 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

My thoughts

It’s very difficult for me to review this book, not only because it’s a sequel but also because I had no idea what was going on for the first 95% of it. And I loved it! The characters I fell in love with in the first book are back, and they’re given even more depth throughout the book. I’m going to miss reading about them so much.

The progression of the plot had me guessing all the way through, and I ran headfirst into all the traps the author has laid out for the reader. I really thought I’d figured stuff out several times until I realized that’s how Pulley writes. And oh how I love her writing style! I don’t think I’ll ever forget this one particular scene where she has spent quite some time making me feel all hopeful and warm after so much misery. I was finally smiling over this book… but then three simple words broke my heart into a thousand pieces. How does one do that?!? I am in awe. I highly recommend this series and this author if you like historical fiction with a twist.

And Robin Hobb has rated this one 5 stars on Goodreads, so maybe that’s a sign I need to read her books.

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2)

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Published: July 15th 2015

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Kiss of Deception.

My thoughts

This one was a very big miss for me, and that’s not a good sign for the trilogy overall because I usually love the second book the most. However, this one suffers heavily from middle book syndrome. What was the point of most of this book? I was so bored because we weren’t doing anything! I could tell that the author was trying to fill the book with politicking and world-building, but it was done so poorly that it failed to keep my interest. What I was left with was that awful love triangle drama that so rarely is made intriguing in literature, and that isn’t the case here either.

Also hated the ending.

I’m probably still going to read the final book because the completionist in me says it’s just one more book.

That was all I read in November. Only one more month left of this year that has lasted a decade, and I hope to finish it off reading some good books. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought.

Posted in Wrap up

October 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

“The Home Office telegraphy department always smelled of tea.”

First line in The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

Just a heads up: This is going to be a very pitiful wrap-up. And there aren’t any spooky books in it either, although those seem like mandatory reading in October. Truth be told, I don’t really care to read such books, and we also don’t really celebrate Halloween here in Denmark. It’s mainly the stores here that are desperately trying to make it a thing.

So about that pitiful reading, here are my stats for the month:

Yes, only 3 books, and I have to admit that one of those was a 20 pages long short story. That short story was Galatea by Madeline Miller, which I’m not going to review. It’s a retelling of a Greek myth as it usually is with Miller and mainly one I would recommend to those of you who, like me, are craving new content from this author.

Another of the 3 books I read was a reread of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I obviously rated 5 stars. It’s a book I always find good to read when you feel like your life is shit, just to remind yourself that at least it’s not that bad. But anyway, since it’s a reread, I’m not reviewing that one either.

That leaves only one book to review in this wrap-up. Before we get to that, though, I just want to mention the two books I’m currently reading. I’m halfway through The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss but have decided to take a short break from that one. I can only take a certain amount of Kvothe a the time 😅 I’m also a third of the way through The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan, which I definitely plan on finishing in November. But those two books are the reason why I haven’t been able to finish more books in October. They took up quite a bit of my time. However, let’s get to that one review, which I took the opportunity to make a little bit longer than usual.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #1)

Author: Natasha Pulley

Published: July 2nd 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Victorian London, Japanese culture, magical science

Synopsis: 1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Saying “I love this book” seems like such an inadequate description of my feelings towards this book that I almost gave up on writing this review. But I had such a good time reading it.

It’s the kind of book that’s difficult to talk about because, as its main character, it changes along the way. What it starts out as isn’t what it actually is in the end. I really love those kinds of books. It’s also helped along by a magnificent writing style that relies heavily on the reader to catch onto hints and figure things out for themselves. It’s my favorite kind of writing, so I was completely invested. However, it means that I won’t categorize this as an “easy, relaxing read”. It requires that you pay attention, and I actually think it would work great as a buddy read or book club book.

Since I rate books based on my enjoyment, I couldn’t give this one any less than 5 stars. However, if I were to attempt objectivity, I could probably find a few things that could have been done better. For example, one character’s motivations could have been explored further to make them a stronger character. But I didn’t mind that in the end because there was so much I loved about the book.

Finally, I saw someone on Goodreads call this an alternative version of Sherlock Holmes, and I can definitely see the similarities. So, if all of this sounds like something for you, I highly recommend The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

That’s all I have for you. It was a weird month for me, but hey, I completed my Goodreads goal of 55 books! My unofficial goal is 66 because that would be a new record for me, but let’s see how it goes. I need to read some shorter books to make that happen. Let me know how your October went. What was your favorite book?

Posted in Wrap up

September 2020 Reading Wrap Up

Today was the day a thousand dreams would die and a single dream would be born.

First line in The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

I’m here with another wrap up because somehow September ended. It was a weird month for me blogging-wise. I haven’t had a lot of motivation to write anything deep and profound lately, even though I’ve had the ideas. I feel like all my posts have been “easy posts” that don’t require a whole lot of effort on my part. I know it’s completely fine to just write those posts, but I miss writing something I’m really proud of. Part of the problem is that I really want something to go up every week, but at the moment, I’m finishing posts the day before they go up, so I don’t feel like I have the time to work on a longer post. I really want to work on that in October, even if I might have to skip a week or two.

But how was my reading in September? Pretty awful, actually, in terms of quality at least. Just take a look at my stats:

Look at that 3.1 average rating, and it doesn’t even tell the whole story. It doesn’t tell you that my only 5-star read of the month was a reread (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). It also doesn’t include the DNF I had this month because I don’t rate those. So not a great month although, it started good. I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of books and pages I read. I had the feeling that I was reading less than normally, but I was actually well above my average.

But 7 books read minus one reread means I have 6 mini-reviews for you this month. Prepare to feel my disappointment in so many of them.

The Bedlam Stacks

Author: Natasha Pulley

Published: July 13th 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Peru, disabled MC, friendships, culture clashes

Synopsis: In 1859, ex-East India Company smuggler Merrick Tremayne is trapped at home in Cornwall after sustaining an injury that almost cost him his leg and something is wrong; a statue moves, his grandfather’s pines explode, and his brother accuses him of madness.

When the India Office recruits Merrick for an expedition to fetch quinine—essential for the treatment of malaria—from deep within Peru, he knows it’s a terrible idea. Nearly every able-bodied expeditionary who’s made the attempt has died, and he can barely walk. But Merrick is desperate to escape everything at home, so he sets off, against his better judgment, for a tiny mission colony on the edge of the Amazon where a salt line on the ground separates town from forest. Anyone who crosses is killed by something that watches from the trees, but somewhere beyond the salt are the quinine woods, and the way around is blocked.

Surrounded by local stories of lost time, cursed woods, and living rock, Merrick must separate truth from fairy tale and find out what befell the last expeditions; why the villagers are forbidden to go into the forest; and what is happening to Raphael, the young priest who seems to have known Merrick’s grandfather, who visited Peru many decades before. The Bedlam Stacks is the story of a profound friendship that grows in a place that seems just this side of magical.

My thoughts

A slow-paced book that explored some fascinating themes such as complicated friendships, and how a disabled individual still can go on an adventure. I wrote a full review filled with all of my complicated thoughts about this book.

The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow #2)

Author: Margaret Own

Published: August 18th 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis for the first book in the duology, The Merciful Crow.

My thoughts

Just no.

I was incredibly disappointed by this as I loved its predecessor. The action-packed plot from the first book had turned more meandering in this one, so a lot of time was spent waiting for stuff to happen. I kept thinking that the author had created this very interesting world… but didn’t know what to do with it. It wasn’t expanded upon enough to create minor plot-lines to fill in the gaps, and the main plot was mediocre and unoriginal.

I was also disappointed in the way that important side-characters from the first book were sort of cast aside in this one. They didn’t have much of an arc and was really just there for the MC to interact with. Because this book is all about her. And she was annoying. Too much angst and not enough personality. Also gotta say that there was something about the romance that rubbed me the wrong way, but I can’t go into details about it.

But I completed a series so that’s something, at least.

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)

Author: Mary E. Pearson

Published: July 8th 2014

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Love triangle, runaway princess,

Synopsis: In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

My thoughts

I honestly don’t have much to say about this. It was fine. Nothing I really loved or hated about it. Romance is a major theme, but I wasn’t that invested in that part of the story. I was more into the political aspects although, we didn’t get much it that in this book. However, I predict it will be more prevalent in the next books, so I’m excited to continue the trilogy. That ending also really didn’t give me much of a choice.

The Lost Book of the White (The Eldest Curses #2)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Published: September 1st 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Synopsis: Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood are settling into domestic life with their son Max when the warlocks Ragnor Fell and Shinyun Jung break into their loft and steal a powerful spell book. Realizing that Ragnor and Shinyun are being controlled by a more sinister force, Magnus and Alec set out to stop them and recover the book before they can cause any more harm. With the help of Clary Fairchild, Jace Herondale, Isabelle Lightwood, and Simon Lovelace (who is fresh from the Shadowhunter Academy), they track the warlocks to Shanghai.

But nothing is as it seems. Ragnor and Shinyun are working at the behest of a Greater Demon. Their goal is to open a Portal from the demon realms to Earth, flooding the city of Shanghai with dangerous demons. When a violent encounter causes Magnus’s magic to grow increasingly unstable, Alec and Magnus rally their friends to strike at the heart of the demon’s power. But what they find there is far stranger and more nefarious than they ever could have expected…

Goodreads

My thoughts

Yeah, this book still didn’t make it clear why we need this series in the Shadowhunter world. It’s sweet seeing Magnus and Alec being all domestic, but I don’t think the rest of the story justifies a full-length novel. What this accomplishes could just as easily have been accomplished through a novella. I wouldn’t even call this necessary reading for the world overall (except maybe for the epilogue, and that statement tells you all you need to know about this book).

What bothered me most about the book is the decision to drag all of the Mortal Instruments characters into it. I don’t know why because the authors clearly didn’t know what to do with them. Their stories are over. We’re done with them. Their most important job in this book was to deliver “funny” one-liners.

As with the previous book, it’s hard to fear for the characters when books set later on have told me they’re fine. And the book really tries to raise the stakes, but it didn’t manage to make me care.

A Gathering of Ravens (Grimnir #1)

Author: Scott Oden

Published: June 20th 2017

Genre: Historical Fantasy

My rating: DNF at 53%

Buzzwords: Vikings, Norse mythology vs. Christianity,

Synopsis: To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?

Goodreads

My thoughts

I very rarely DNF books. I don’t like doing it, but I could tell I would fall into a reading slump if I kept going. It’s not even that I hate the book. I was just so incredibly bored. With a great focus on Norse mythology and the interesting premise of Christianity’s arrival in the North, this book sounded like a different take on the old standard Viking stories. However, it seems like the author forgot to add a plot. Not that every book needs a plot, but this one does.

Instead of plot, we got a lot of atmospheric landscape descriptions and dreamlike visions that slowed the story down too much. I do love atmospheric books, and I would also say this is very well written. There was just too much of it, and it was too repetitive at times. Reeling it in would have helped. Also, characters having prophetic dreams that reveal some big secrets aren’t exactly a trope I enjoy all that much.

The Nephilim Protocol (The Solomon Code #1)

Author: J. D. Kloosterman

Published: September 7th 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Half angels, superpowers, confined to remote island

A received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Everyone in his life has always seemed to hate him. Chad doesn’t know why. He never can do the right thing to please anyone. He doesn’t understand what he’s supposed to be guilty of, or why everyone assumes he’s so dangerous.  When a friend tries to shoot up the school, Chad smashes through a brick wall in the fight to stop him.  And then he knows. 

Descended from the race of the half-angel Nephilim, Chad has gained massive strength, quick reflexes, and varied strange abilities.  Once, his ancestors were kings, Templars, demigods; ruling the Earth with cruel indifference.   Now, their descendants are imprisoned on the most remote location in Alaska—Attu Island, hundreds of miles out in the ocean.

Up against the camp’s guards, the fatal Alaskan weather, and even his fellow Nephilim campers, simply surviving is a challenge for Chad. He doesn’t want to die at the camp, but at the frozen edge of the world, can even an angel escape?

Goodreads

My thoughts

This is a book that’s very much not written for me. What sounded like a cool concept about half angels being imprisoned on an island turned out to be lacking in its execution because it, apparently, was more important for the reader to know how racist and sexist the characters were. The book goes for the narrative of how it is oh so hard for teenage boys not to be racist and sexist. But the main character is trying, so that’s okay. It’s really not, though. Overall, it made this book very uncomfortable to read, and it definitely made it hard for me to root for these characters even they weren’t displaying that despicable behavior.

In the positive section, I will say that it had some very action-packed scenes that were quite well written. It definitely made sure I wasn’t bored. There are also some interesting powers for these half angels that I wish would have been explored more. I generally could have used a bit more world-building.

That was my September. Really hoping that my October reading will be better. Please share your favorite read of September in the comments, so we can get some positive vibes going. Happy reading!

Posted in Wrap up

August 2020 Reading Wrap Up

“Oh dear,” said Linus Baker, wiping sweat from his brow.

First line in The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

We’ve completed another month this year (yay), and so it’s time for my reading wrap up for August. This is where I share mini-reviews for the books I read this past month and share some statistics on my reading. So let’s start with the stats.

As you can tell, I had a pretty extraordinary reading month. I read 7 books instead of my usual 5, but funnily enough, it didn’t translate to more pages read. I actually read 80 less than in July. It was a month of short books for me, which isn’t unexpected since I read Oathbringer (1,220 pages) in July. In even better news, though, is that the quality of my reading was amazing. Out of the 7 books, there was only one that I didn’t really love, but I’m okay with that when the rest turned out to be so brilliant.
Personally, I’m also proud of myself for finishing two series this month. That means I get to start new ones, right? (Don’t worry, I already did). But enough about stats.

I finished my reread of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban this month, and there will not be a mini-review for that. It means that I have 6 mini-reviews for you so enjoy.

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Author: Caroline Criado Perez

Published: March 7th 2019

Genre: Non-Fiction

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Feminism, people in power forgetting women exist

Synopsis: Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re a woman.

Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.

Goodreads

My thoughts

I don’t usually read non-fiction so don’t take my rating too seriously. It’s merely a reflection of how much I want other people to read this book! It talks so much about how many aspects of our daily life are designed to benefit men and not women because it’s assumed that if something works for men it must work for all. And the author provides so many examples. Each example might seem small and insignificant, but when you have 100 small things that complicate women’s lives, you can’t just ignore everything.

As a woman, this was a very frustrating read because it really made me aware of how much work we still have left to do to reach gender equality. I’m personally very privileged to be living in Denmark where I’m not as disadvantaged for being a woman as women elsewhere. However, a lot of the issues in this book are not country-specific but matter worldwide, such as the lack of research in women’s bodies.

If you’re interested in learning more about feminism, I highly recommend this read.

Firestarter (Timekeeper #3)

Author: Tara Sim

Published: January 15th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read the synopsis for the first book in the series, Timekeeper, on Goodreads.

My thoughts

There was something about this book that kept it from reaching the same awesomeness level as the first two books in the trilogy. Which is quite sad really. I especially felt that the plot was a little bit of a mess as there was never a clear direction to it. New plot lines were introduced in the last half of the book and those we had been working on in book two were discarded. There was also a certain trope involving the villain in this that I just never like so that dampened my enjoyment a bit.

What I still love about the series and this book are its characters and its magic system. Those were still great in the final book and we got to see a lot of development in both. There were also a lot of new characters introduced in this one, and I could tell that Sim wanted me to care about them by giving me their backstory… but I didn’t. They were fine but they weren’t necessary in my opinion.

It’s still a trilogy I highly recommend. Even though this final book was lacking in some areas it never failed to keep my attention. There were high stakes and action all the way through.

Burn

Author: Patrick Ness

Published: June 2nd 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: DRAGONS!, 1950’s

Synopsis: Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.

The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul, but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe.

Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.

Goodreads

My thoughts

I loved this! And I was so surprised by that. It has a synopsis that doesn’t really give you much, and I would also definitely recommend going into it knowing as little as possible. Just trust that Patrick Ness will mesmerize you. If that’s not quite enough, I have a review to let you know about more of my thoughts.

Drowned Country (The Greenhollow Duology #2)

Author: Emily Tesh

Published: August 18th 2020

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read the synopsis for the first book in the series, Silver in the Wood, on Goodreads.

My thoughts

I want more!

There’s a change of POV character from the first book which means that the feel and focus of the book are a little different. Not bad different, though. It explores different aspects of what it means to be human and thereby feels like a natural continuation of the first book.

It still portrays a dark and magical atmosphere that will draw you in and make you wonder why you don’t already live in a forest. Tesh also really took the fairy tale concept and ran with it when she created this story. She explores it in quite a unique way by going back to its roots.

Obviously going to read whatever Tesh publishes in the future.

The House in the Cerulean Sea

Author: T. J. Klune

Published: March 17th 2020

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Buzzwords: magical children, orphanage, fighting prejudice

Synopsis: A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Yes, everyone else has been giving this book 5 stars, but not me, of course. I really wanted to love it so I’m incredibly disappointed that I only found it… okay. My biggest issue is probably that it’s a Middle Grade disguised as an adult book, and I don’t care for Middle Grade books. I don’t want to read about children and they play a very significant role in this book. The story in itself also seems very juvenile and simple. It was very easy for me to predict what was going to happen and the “conflicts” weren’t actually conflicts. Everything was solved fairly easily, and it left me quite bored because why should I care then?

But it is a very sweet book. If that all you require of a book, then yes, you should read this. If you’re an adult who loves reading Middle Grade, this would probably be perfect. I only had a few problems with the writing style as I sometimes felt the author gave too much unnecessary information that would either make to story drag or ruin a perfectly good joke by over-explaining it.

This was my first book by T. J. Klune and even though it wasn’t a complete hit, I’m willing to try something else by him in the future.

The Bone Ships (The Tide Child #1)

Author: R. J. Barker

Published: September 24th 2019

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Naval adventure, sea dragons, violence everywhere, society outcasts

Synopsis: Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.

For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war.

The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted.

Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.

Goodreads

My thoughts

I’m a little conflicted because, for the first half of this book, I was sure I was giving it 5 stars. The world-building is amazing. There was so much to learn about this unique world of sea-faring warriors that I was always eager to continue reading. It’s very much a world that looks at gender differently than we’re used to. That aside, it’s also a very brutal world in a way that I would almost classify as Grimdark (although I don’t know much about the sub-genre). The characters in here aren’t nice. They’re not sweet cinnamon rolls… but I liked them anyway? It’s very unusual for me, which I think is a testament to how well they’re written.

I took off a star because the latter half fell a little flat. Here I feel like I need to say that I don’t usually enjoy naval stories, so when the story shifted to be more about ship battles, it kind of lost me. Not that I hated the last part, but my level of excitement wasn’t anywhere what it was for the first part. It’s difficult for me to tell whether that was due to my own reading taste or something about the book. It’s still a book I highly recommend. Of course, especially if you like fantasy books about ships. I’ll definitely be reading the second book.

That was an incredible month for me. Really happy with what I read and hope I can carry that spirit into September. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you plan to. Happy reading!

Posted in Wrap up

July 2020 Reading Wrap Up

“Lucy Herondale was ten years old when she first met the boy in the forest.”

First line in Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Hi, guys. Another month is over, and it’s time for my reading wrap up for July.

It was a pretty good month for me although a little weird because I read 3 very big books. I usually stick to just one per month so I’m pretty proud of managing 3. It means that the number of books I read is very much ‘business as usual’ but my page count is up by over 500 since last month.

It really helped that I managed to finish a certain brick called Oathbringer (1,220 pages) just before July was over. That was also the only book written by a male author. I’ve been reading female authors in July as part of The Fantasy Hive’s focus on #WomenInSFF.

My ratings were also very good this month as I didn’t rate anything less than 3 stars and even read a new all-time favorite. But enough statistics, let’s get into the mini-reviews.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0)

Author: Suzanne Collins

Published: May 19th 2020

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: villain origin story, morally gray, unlikable main character

Synopsis: It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This was alright. Way too long, but I really liked how Collins explored how one becomes a villain. This was an interesting look into Snow’s mind. If you want more of my in-depth thoughts about the book, I have a full review for it.

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Published: March 3rd 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis: Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.

James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love.

Goodreads

My thoughts

There’s just something about those goddamn Shadowhunters that works! Chain of Gold was fast paced and alluring. Even though it’s the gazillionth book in the universe, it’s still its own book and manages to diversify itself from its predecessors. Not a lot of course. All the romance drama is still there, but that has started to become my favorite part of these books.

My main gripe with this is one is that it doesn’t exactly feel historical. It takes place in the early nineteen hundreds but if it weren’t for the fact that they ride around in carriages, I wouldn’t have known. The characters feel very modern and it gives a little bit of a disjointed reading experience.

A History of Madness (The Outlands Pentalogy #2)

Author: Rebecca Crunden

Published: July 13th 2017

Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopia

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Read the synopsis for the first book in the series, A Touch of Death.

My thoughts

I did have some difficulties with this one. We follow a different POV character compared to the first book, which I initially thought was a great choice. I still think it was a good choice story telling-wise. It really brought some new aspects of the world to the forefront and offered new opportunities. However, the character turned out to be one of those I like from other characters’ perspectives but not his own. Being in his head was annoying and I realized that he’s not a very likable character. Unfortunately, that’s just something I need characters to be to really enjoy a book.

I still found that I liked the writing. It’s very easy to read and none of the sci-fi elements are too complicated to understand. I also enjoyed some of the very “real” and hard-hitting conversations between the characters. Those can easily become awkward but that wasn’t the case here.

Finally, I also want to touch upon the fact that I found it a little boring compared to the first book which was very action packed. Here in the second one there were several opportunities for drama but everything was resolved rather quickly. Except for when there was a POV change towards the end. That was amazing!

Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1)

Author: Emily Tesh

Published: June 18th 2019

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: nature love, centuries-old magic, wholesomeness

Synopsis: There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Sooo.. this was perfect! Silver in the Wood is a beautiful, atmospheric story. Tesh really shows how one doesn’t need 500 pages to create a vivid and engaging world. It’s hard to say what my favorite part was but I was very intrigued by the way Tesh wove nature into everything and what that meant for the story.

I was also amazed by how quickly I came to love every single character. As it’s only a 110 page-novella there isn’t much time to get to know them. However, when you have such masterful writing skills, 110 pages is plenty of time. For example, a certain character only needed a single line of dialogue to get a spot on my list of all-time favorite characters. I’m simply in awe of this book and have already pre-ordered the sequel.

Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: November 14th 2017

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Way of Kings.

My thoughts

With a 4-star rating, this book is so far my least favorite in the series. It’s also the first book that felt too long, like it didn’t need all those 1,220 pages. I didn’t always feel that each chapter had a purpose other than drawing out the suspense. It felt long to read which the first two books didn’t.

This is also at a disadvantage for me from the start because it primarily features my two least favorite characters: Dalinar and Shallan. I think they are the ones with the least interesting story arcs, although I will admit that my feelings towards Dalinar improved with the ending to this one. I think I might hate Shallan more though, lol.

So why 4 stars? Well, because when this book reaches its pivotal moments it’s so bloody amazing and shows an author that ties every little plot line together masterfully. I have given up predicting things and has just accepted that I’m along for the ride.

Of course, I also give the first 3 stars just for the existence of Kaladin Stormblessed. Please, let there be more of him in book four.

That was my reading month for you. I’m so excited to have finally caught up with The Stormlight Archive. So ready for the fourth one!
August was supposed to be dedicated to N.E.W.T.s buuut since we have to hide to participate in that, I’m skipping it. Will still be trying to push myself to read a lot in August. I’m off work for the first half of the month so there should be plenty of opportunities for me to read. Hope you’ve all enjoyed your reading this past month and happy reading in August!

Posted in Wrap up

June 2020 Reading Wrap Up

“For my kind, the first sign our world was ending came on October 24, 1946.

First line in The Hanged Man by K. D. Edwards

Hi, guys. We got to the end of another month so here you have the mini-reviews for the books I read in June. It was a pretty standard month for me reading-wise. Even though I felt like I didn’t read very much, I still hit my usual 5 books. Take a look at my stats:

So I read male authors this month, although not on purpose. This is the first time this year that I’ve read more male authors than female so I’m going to say that’s alright.

I read two books this month that only feature in the pages read statistic. One because I DNF’d it and the other because it was too short to rate and review. The DNF was Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin, which I still have a mini-review for in this post. The short book was The Sunken Mall by K. D. Edwards, which is a short story from the Tarot Sequence series. Highly enjoyable but I’m not writing a review for it. However, I do have 5 other mini-reviews for you so enjoy!

The Dragon Reborn (Wheel of Time #3)

Author: Robert Jordan

Published: October 15th 1991

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Read the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Eye of the World.

My thoughts

This book was not only boring as hell but also kind of pointless. Extremely little happened in this book to push the plot along. Instead, it focuses on the side-characters a lot and I guess this book is meant to develop them a little more. However, their character development is minimal. The only one I really enjoyed reading about was Perrin. The rest of them hasn’t managed to use their brain in this series yet.

I also think Jordan’s pacing is a little off. Small menial tasks the characters do get more pages than the final showdown. That’s kind of frustrating. The ending left me with a “that’s it?”-feeling. It just cemented my belief that this book should only have been half as long.

The Hanged Man (The Tarot Sequence #2)

Author: K. D. Edwards

Published: December 17th 2019

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Last Sun.

My thoughts

This second book in The Tarot Sequence fixed the few problems I had with the world-building in book 1, and it did it very early on. I had a much better grasp on how everything worked which just helped me to be more invested in the story. I can tell that there are still more to know about the world but that’s part of this series’ charm. You don’t get information before the narrator, Rune, decides you need it. It works so well to keep the suspense building. You never know what he might spring on you.

The relationships between these characters are still my favorite thing about this series. It’s almost like I don’t need all the action (which there’s plenty of), and would love it just as much if it was all about conversations between these characters. They are so deep and meaningful that I just want more! The different dynamics between the characters also make it all so interesting to follow.

Serpent and Dove (Serpent and Dove #1)

Author: Shelby Mahurin

Published: September 3rd 2019

Genre: YA/NA Fantasy

My rating: DNF at 70%

Synopsis: Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Goodreads

My thoughts

The fact that I don’t DNF books but couldn’t finish this one, should tell you all you need to know about my feelings towards this.

The short version is that I didn’t like a single thing about it. The characters were annoying, the world-building wasn’t prioritized because the romance needed to be developed (but they actually had zero chemistry), and at 70% I still wasn’t sure what the plot was about.

One thing I want to talk about in more detail is the sexism towards men in this book. It clearly wants to portray “strong female characters”, but I would argue that the women in here are only perceived as strong when they are demeaning to the men. The men have so many flaws to their character and it seems like they’re there only for the women to exploit and show how powerful they are. I don’t like that. Isn’t that just the gender-bent version of what we’ve been complaining about for years? So yeah, this book completely misses the mark of equality for me.

However, I guess I can see why people would like this. If fantasy romance is your favorite genre, this would be a much better fit for you than me. Also just wants to make sure that you know you’re allowed to like a book even if some people find it sexist.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1)

Author: Becky Chambers

Published: July 29th 2014

Genre: Science Fiction

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Buzzwords: wholesomeness, diversity, friend group

Synopsis: Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

Goodreads

My thoughts

It’s weird. This is a perfectly good book with diverse and unique characters… but it still failed to make me care. I think that’s due to the fact that this is a very optimistic and hopeful story without too many issues that need to be solved. I prefer my books a little more hardhitting, but if you don’t, I don’t foresee you having any problems with this one.

One thing I really liked about it, though, was Chambers’ use of contrasts between the alien species and humans. It’s a really great tool to make the reader reflect on certain topics. While reading, I often had the thought “yeah, that’s actually a pretty weird thing to do now that I think about it.” simply because the alien would do the complete opposite. I loved these parts of the book and think it could have been exploited even more.

Neverwhere

Author: Neil Gaiman

Published: September 16th 1996

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: London, underground world, weird, scary villains

Synopsis: Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman with a good heart whose life is changed forever when he stops to help a bleeding girl—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.

Goodreads

My thoughts

I finally found a book by Gaiman that I loved! His writing really shines in this one where he has an entire underground world to play with. I love experiencing these kinds of worlds in books where the author seems to start out with the sentiment of ‘the weirder the better’. I mean, there’s an entire group of people who worships rats in this one, and that’s not even close to being the weirdest thing.

I also have a thing for anything British and Neverwhere is practically screaming British-ness. Not only from its London-setting and references to places there, but also from its humor and its jokes about typical British behaviour. It really helps build the world up as realistic and therefore more immersive.

My last thoughts are about the fact that before starting this, I saw people having it shelved as horror on Goodreads. Now that I’ve read it, I get it. The two villians in here are absolutely horrible people. I was actually scared of them and I remember feeling the same way about the villain in another Gaiman book, The Graveyard Book. Is he actually the master of creating scary villains?

The only reason I took off half a star is because I wish I had connected a little more with the characters. They are great characters but I don’t consider any of them my favorite characters ever if you get what I mean.

Those were the 5 books I read this month. Have I inspired you to read any of them? And please, let me know if you’ve already read them and what you thought. Hope you had a great month and happy reading in July!

Posted in Wrap up

May Reading Wrap Up #WyrdandWonder

“Lift had never robbed a palace before.”

First line in Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson

Hi, guys and welcome to my May wrap up. As you may know, May was the month of Wyrd and Wonder, an online blogging event with the purpose of celebrating all things fantasy. I had such a great time writing my own posts for this but also doing a lot of blog hopping. I found so many other blogs to follow and my TBR thank you and hate you at the same time.

About my reading this month… Just take a look at my stats:

It’s funny how I read one more book than my usual 5, but still had the lowest page-count of the year so far. I actually expected it to be lower because April was such an intense reading month for me with O.W.L.s where I read over 3,000 pages. So I felt like a needed a break at the beginning of May and also knew I had to spend a lot of time on Wyrd and Wonder. However, it’s always nice when the numbers tell me that I’m not the biggest failure.
My ratings have been great though with only one bad book and 5 amazing ones. Among the six book is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets but I won’t be reviewing that as it is a reread (there will be another post about it though). But let’s get to the other 5 mini-reviews of the month!

Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones #1)

Author: Veronica Roth

Published: April 7th 2020

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Buzzwords: chosen one PTSD, urban fantasy, Chicago

Synopsis: A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This book was kind of struggle for me to get through. I didn’t care about any of the characters but all for different reasons, and the plot set a snail-like pace. I have a full review if you’re interested in more of my thoughts.

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow #1)

Author: Margaret Owen

Published: July 30th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: caste system, runaway royal, social injustice

Synopsis:

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

Goodreads

My thoughts

I was so invested in this story! The world and the magic system were incredibly interesting. I found it especially interesting how this world had a caste system and how the author used that to do social commentary. You really feel the social injustice that the lowest caste experiences and how prejudice and superstitions play a role in preventing change.

I also really liked this book because it had one of my favorite tropes in it, which is a runaway royal. It worked really well and I loved the overall dynamic between the 3 main characters. There were some complicated relationships that made this book interesting even when all the action had to take a break. My only criticism is that the pacing seemed to go down in the last half of the book which seemed a little off because there was so much action in the first half. Still really liked it though and would definitely recommend!

Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: November 22nd 2016

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read the synopsis of the first book in the series The Way of Kings.

My thoughts

Firstly, I need to thank this book for putting a smile on my face. The banter between the main character, Lift, and her spren, Wyndle, is such a delight to read. It’s sweet but also plays a big part in each’s characterisation. The only small negative thing I have to say is that it got a little repetitive towards the end. Some of the jokes were a little overused by that point and didn’t carry the same weight.

As this is a novella, my rating is pretty much only based on my own enjoyment. I really liked it, and especially enjoyed that we got to learn more about Lift but also got some more info about the world. It was a good mix of the two.

Chainbreaker (Timekeeper #2)

Author: Tara Sim

Published: January 2nd 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read the synopsis of the first book in the series Timekeeper.

My thoughts

This book has whatever the opposite of ‘middle book syndrome’ is! The way Sim opens up the world and the magic system had me hooked all the way through. You also get some interesting backstory on some of the side characters which was a pleasant surprise. If you’re interested in more of my thoughts, check out my full review.

The Last Sun (The Tarot Sequence #1)

Author: K. D. Edwards

Published: June 12th 2018

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: urban fantasy, ruling families, unreliable narrator

Synopsis: Rune Saint John, last child of the fallen Sun Court, is hired to search for Lady Judgment’s missing son, Addam, on New Atlantis, the island city where the Atlanteans moved after ordinary humans destroyed their original home.

With his companion and bodyguard, Brand, he questions Addam’s relatives and business contacts through the highest ranks of the nobles of New Atlantis. But as they investigate, they uncover more than a missing man: a legendary creature connected to the secret of the massacre of Rune’s Court.

In looking for Addam, can Rune find the truth behind his family’s death and the torments of his past?

Goodreads

My thoughts

You know that feeling when a book is so different than what you expected but you’re still left with a sense of “Wow this is amazing!”.

It took me a while to really get into it, though, and I think that’s because the world building is this book’s main weak point. I was kind of confused about a lot of things in the beginning and still feel like there are a lot of questions I need answers to. The magic system is also quite detailed, and I had a hard time wrapping my head around it.

However, what I really liked about this book is that it’s made clear early on that we’re dealing with an unreliable narrator who withholds information from the reader. I love figuring things out anyway, and the author has definitely made it possible to do so.

Without getting spoilery, I just want to mention that I also really enjoyed the themes explored in the book. That’s really what make me itching for the second book. That and the great character work which I just need more of.

Those were all the books I read for Wyrd and Wonder month. Not that I’m going to stop reading fantasy in June. I need to read all the amazing books I added to my TBR this month (or at least try to). I hope you all had a great reading month whether you read fantasy or not. Let me know if you’ve read any of the books I read this month. Happy reading!

Posted in Wrap up

April Reading Wrap Up – O.W.L.s Readathon (Part 2)

“There are two things you know.”

First line in Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Hi, guys. Today you’re getting part 2 of my O.W.L.s Readathon wrap up. Remember to check out part 1 if you missed it. Here in part 2, I have 4 mini-reviews for you so enjoy!

The Near Witch

Author: Victoria Schwab

Published: August 2nd 2011

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Witches, small village, sisterly love

O.W.L. Passed: History of Magic

Synopsis: The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This was weird but in a good way. Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is quite different from her other works. Instead of missing “the usual Schwab”, I really appreciated seeing another side to her writing. It’s more reminiscent of fairy tales really, with a very atmospheric style and a great focus on nature. However, there were some slight imperfections in terms of the writing that revealed that she wasn’t the most experienced author at the time. For example, it became quite repetitive in some areas, but it never reached a level that bothered me very much while reading.

My main issue with the book was the romance which came out of nowhere. It kept feeling forced until the end, and I didn’t exactly see the point of it. Plotwise, a strong friendship would have accomplished the same thing. It was especially frustrating because I know that Schwab went on to write a YA duology without any romance in it, so I know she’s capable of it.

I still recommend this book if it sounds just slightly interesting to you. It has some great themes surrounding fear and what it can do to people. You also get some interesting family dynamics and of course, Victoria Schwab’s writing.

Challenger Deep

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: April 21st 2015

Genre: YA Contemporary

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: mental health

O.W.L. Passed: Defence Against the Dark Arts

Synopsis: Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behaviour.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

Goodreads

My thoughts

I don’t have much to say about this book. It was good without being great. I didn’t connect very much with the story or the characters but just found it interesting and educational. It’s a book that deeply explores mental health, and I really liked that Shusterman relied so heavily on metaphors. It worked really well and I had a great time trying to decipher them all.

If you’re suffering from severe mental health issues or know someone who does, I’ll highly recommend this book.

Dark Matter

Author: Blake Crouch

Published: July 26th 2016

Genre: Sci-fi Thriller

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

O.W.L. Passed: Arithmancy

Synopsis: Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.

When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”

Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.

And someone is hunting him.

Goodreads

My thoughts

I can’t begin to describe how disappointed I was with this book. So many things about it didn’t work for me. The characters are flat which means I can’t connect to them. I especially found the MC quite annoying. He’s supposed to be this physics professor aka really smart but he very rarely prooved that. I kept figuring things out but then I had to wait for him to catch up. It gave me the sense that these things were drawn out for dramatic purposes but because the author had given the reader so many clues already, the revelations failed to be shocking.

The plot was based on an interesting idea and that’s what kept me reading. However, the detached writing style and the personality-less characters left me sort of numb to the events I was supposed to care about. The ending was also less epic than what I expected it to be.

Overall, I think this book might work for you if you’re a very plot-focused reader. For me, this was a great idea that I’m sure can be executed much better.

Eliza and Her Monsters

Author: Francesca Zappia

Published: May 30th 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: anxiety, web comics, secret online life

O.W.L. Passed: Muggle Studies

Synopsis: In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Goodreads

My thoughts

I wanted to read this for the anxiety rep and was in no way disappointed. The book really delivered on that front with descriptions of how it feels, what its consequences are and most importantly, how to deal with it. I couldn’t help but compare it to Fangirl while reading because they are so similar stories. Both in terms of anxiety and the online fame thing. Nevertheless, Eliza and Her Monsters handles it differently so I would say that the two books complement each other well.

I really liked that Eliza had a complicated relationship with her family because it felt realistic and remind me of my own family. I wasn’t completely on board with the romance though. I wasn’t convinced that they actually loved each other so I felt a little indifferent about them together. There were also some minor things about the ending that I didn’t care for which is why I ended up giving the book 4 stars. Still a book I would highly recommend if you want to read about anxiety.

And that’s all you get. Let me know if you’ve read any of these and if our opinions align or not. Otherwise I hope you’re all doing okay. Happy reading!

Posted in Wrap up

April 2020 Reading Wrap Up – O.W.L.s Readathon (Part 1)

“Night fell as Death rode into the Great Library of Summershall.”

First line in Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Hi, guys. Welcome to part 1 of my O.W.L.s Readathon wrap up. Yes, I read so many books that I had to split my wrap into two. I figured 7 mini-reviews in one post was too many so you get the first 3 today and the last 4 tomorrow.

The total number of books I read this month was actually 9! So not all 12 O.W.L.s but 9 is still way more than I expected to read. Here’s a short overview of what the exams I passed:

  • Transfiguration – A book with shapeshifting
  • Anicent Runes – A book with a heart on the cover or in the title
  • Charms – A white cover
  • History of Magic – A book with witches/wizards
  • Defence Against the Dark Arts – A book set on the sea or at the coast
  • Arithmancy – A book outside your favorite genre
  • Potions – A book with less than 150 pages
  • Astronomy – Read the majority of the book when it’s dark outside

I read 2 books that I won’t be doing mini-reviews for. The first is The Ash-Born Boy by Victoria Schwab which is a prequel novella to The Near Witch. I read it for Potions but as it was only 61 pages, I don’t have much to say other than you should read it if you’ve read The Near Witch.
The other book I won’t be reviewing is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which I read for Astronomy. I expect people know about that one. I will make seperate post about it but probably not until June.

Let’s take a quick look at my stats for the month:

Basically, I’m pretty proud of myself for doing this well. Enough of that though. Here you have the first 3 mini-reviews.

Sorcery of Thorns

Author: Magaret Rogerson

Published: June 4th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: magical libraries, loyal friendships, book about books

O.W.L. Passed: Transfiguration

Synopsis: All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This was a surprisingly great book. I had seen a lot of mixed reviews so it was a book I probably wouldn’t have picked up had it not fit an O.W.L. prompt. So glad I decided to read it because these characters are everything to me. I like that there are a few relationships in this book that you can’t completely define by just calling them friendships or romances because those words are not enough. They don’t reflect the love and care between these people that Rogerson spends the entire book laying out for the reader. I love them, and I especially love the character development they go through.

However, I do see why people would have some issues with this book, especially if the plot is very important to them. There were some things surrounding the plot that weren’t completely developed and some things that didn’t really make sense. I, for one, would have loved to know a little bit more about the villain’s motive because it seemed like he was evil just to be evil.

On the plus side, the writing was great and not too flowery. If you’re into character-driven books about books with beautiful writing, I would definitely recommend this one.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

Author: John Boyne

Published: February 9th 2017

Genre: Historical Fiction/Literary Fiction

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Life stories, Ireland, LGBTQ+, family

O.W.L. Passed: Ancient Runes

Synopsis: Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

Goodreads

My thoughts

The Heart’s Invisible Furies is the first book I’ve ever read by John Boyne so I had to get used to his way of writing in the beginning. He has a very distinct writing style with some very long sentences and a lot of dialogue. That might put some people off but I just gotta say that it is done to absolute perfection. It’s not often that I read such a well written book. Boyne is able to convey so much emotion through simple conversations. You can find meaning both in what is actually said but also what is left unsaid, and I’m amazed at his ability to write like that.

That said, this book might not be for everyone as it’s extremely character-focused. We’re literally following one man through his entire life, or rather we see glimpses of his life. But still, life doesn’t have plot so don’t expect much on that front from this book. It’s still worth reading though. It gives you detailed insight into what it was like to be a gay man in Ireland in the latter half of the nineties. So as you might expect, this book will make you emotional. Maybe it will make you cry but I dare say I’ll make you laugh, too. It’s is not without humour and that actually makes the book quite a wholesome one. I would highly recommend it!

Lord of Secrets (The Empty Gods #1)

Author: Breanna Teintze

Published: August 8th 2019

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Intricate magic system, family bond, necromancy

O.W.L. Passed: Charms

Synopsis: Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse.

So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release. All he has to do is break out of prison, break into an ancient underground temple and avoid killing himself with his own magic in the process.

In theory, it’s simple enough. But as secrets unfold and loyalties shift, Gray discovers something with the power to change the nature of life and death itself.

Now Gray must find a way to protect the people he loves, but it could cost him everything, even his soul . . .

Goodreads

My thoughts

No… just no.
This book almost killed my reading spirit. I could tell that the author had a great idea especially concerning the magic system but it was so poorly executed. The magic turned out to be a little too complex compared to how little time went into explaining it. It ended up being the kind of magic that can do anything that’s plot-convenient. That’s always annoying to me, and it was a general problem throughout the book. There were too many conveniences.

The characters couldn’t save it for me either because they didn’t exactly have a personality. I couldn’t connect to them at all. The MC was so boring and annoying. He’s one of those characters who should get a gold medal in self-pity because he spent the entire book feeling sorry for himself. The only slightly interesting character was the villian but he never reached his full potential.

That was 3 reviews from both ends of the spectrum but I hope you enjoyed reading them. How was your reading month? How many O.W.L.s did you get if you participated in the readathon?