Posted in Wrap up

July Wrap Up

“He wont get out of there, I’m telling you,” the pockmarked man said, shaking his head with conviction.”

First line in Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski

Another month has gone. July was not the best reading month for me but I sort of expected that. My vacation from work was at the beginning of the month so you’d think that would give me more time to read. That’s not what happened. You see, I get most of my reading done on my commute to work so with that gone, I didn’t read that much.

I still managed to read 4 books in July. 3 fantasy and 1 historical fiction and let’s just say that my enjoyment level varied a lot. So, here you have four mini-reviews of the books I read in July.

The Red Scrolls of Magic (Book 1 in The Eldest Curses)

Author: Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

Genre: YA urban fantasy

My rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis: All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping (Goodreads).

My thoughts

It was very sweet but still quite far from being the best entry in the Shadowhunter World. It’s the book to read if you really love Magnus and Alec. If that’s not the case, you’re not missing out on much by not reading it. I have a full review up for it here if you want to know more about my mixed feelings concerning this book.

Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genre: YA historical fiction

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis: World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety (Goodreads).

My thoughts

I enjoyed this very much. Even though the characters are fictional, the rest of it is real and that’s horrible to think about. It’s still an important story that needs to be told and I think that’s mainly the reason why this book stands out from other World War II books.

We follow four perspectives and those four characters have widely different backgrounds and stories. Their chapters are very short, so it was a bit confusing to begin with to tell them apart, but it got very clear along the way. I’m not sure the book needed four main characters though. One of them was very much cut off from the others and never really played a part in their story. He was mainly there to give information to the reader even though he was interesting enough. That’s just the only criticism I have of the book. The rest was so good, and people need to read it.

The Republic of Thieves (Book 3 in Gentleman Bastard)

Author: Scott Lynch

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis: With what should have been the greatest heist of their career gone spectacularly sour, Locke and his trusted partner, Jean, have barely escaped with their lives. Or at least Jean has. But Locke is slowly succumbing to a deadly poison that no alchemist or physiker can cure. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmage offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body—though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmage’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past: Sabetha. She is the love of his life, his equal in skill and wit, and now, his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha—or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend (Goodreads).

My thoughts

This third book in the Gentleman Bastard just confirms that the series is still among my all-time favorites. I loved the introduction of Sabetha in this one even though I’d feared her arrival. We’ve gotten so many hints to her romance with Locke and I was afraid it would take over the plot but that wasn’t the case in my opinion. The writing is also just as great as in the previous books. I have a full review up for this if you want to know more about my thoughts.

Sword of Destiny (Book 2 in The Witcher)

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 2/5 stars

Synopsis: Geralt is a Witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no ordinary murderer: his targets are the multifarious monsters and vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent (Goodreads).

My thoughts

I was SO bored! The reason for this is probably because Sapkowski hasn’t made me care about anyone or anything. If something bad happened I only ever thought “okay”. I don’t particularly like any of the characters so I didn’t root for them either.

I’m not saying it’s a bad book necessarily but it just didn’t make me feel anything. I didn’t love anything but I didn’t hate anything either. Okay, I did hate the oversexualization of female characters but the first book had the same problem so I was expecting it. Please let me know if you liked this book and why.

That was it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to read some more in August but I’m planning to start some big books this month so my total number of books might not be much higher. Still, hope you enjoyed this. Let’s chat in the comments.

Posted in Wrap up

June Wrap Up

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

First line To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

It’s the end of the month, people. So, here’s a wrap up. I read quite a wide range of different genres this month and my enjoyment of them was equally very varied.

I read a total of 7 books which surprised me when I counted them up. I thought I’d had a bad reading month, but I normally only read 5 or 6. The bad feeling might be because I was close to falling into a reading slump during the month. I was reading two books that I wasn’t really enjoying so when I had time to read, I chose to do something else. Then I picked up a third book that was so perfect that I would read until I couldn’t stay awake any longer. That helped me to finish the other books so in general, it was a very mixed month for me. No more talking. Here are the books I read in June.

The Last Wish (Book 1 in The Witcher)

Author: Andrzej Sapkowski

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis: Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good… and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

A collection of short stories introducing Geralt of Rivia, to be followed by the first novel in the actual series, The Blood of Elves. Note that, while The Last Wish was published after The Sword of Destiny, the stories contained in The Last Wish take place first chronologically, and many of the individual stories were published before The Sword of Destiny (Goodreads).

My thoughts

This isn’t going to be very coherent because I can’t decide what I think about this book. First of all, it’s a collection of short stories so it’s very difficult to review as whole. One of the stories I really liked because it’s was a very interesting retelling of The Beauty and The Beast. And that is the main aspect I liked in the stories. They were all inspired by fairytales and other folklore stories and I had a good time trying to identify each one. Other than that, it didn’t have much else going for it and if I were to describe it in one word it would be: Fine. I will still continue to the read the series and definitely get past the short stories.

Radio Silence

Author: Alice Oseman

Genre: YA contemporary

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis: What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances is been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she’s unafraid to be herself.

So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared…

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has (Goodreads).

My thoughts

I’m very happy to have read this book. It wasn’t perfect, but it had some very important themes and an interesting way of presenting them. The main characters felt unique and I really enjoyed reading about their dilemmas. I have a full review for this book if you want to know more about my thoughts and it’s right here.

Thunderhead (Book 2 in Arc of a Scythe)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Genre: YA dystopian

My rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: Rowan has gone rogue and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now— “Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish”, so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline? (Goodreads).

My thoughts

INCREDIBLE! I’m in awe of how well-crafted this world is. Shusterman seemingly has thought of everything in detail in this futuristic version of Earth. I really like these kinds of dystopias that examine how humans would behave if critical things about our life was different. So many aspects of life are changed in Arc of a Scythe but Shusterman still manages to teach us moral lessons. In Thunderhead, I especially appreciated these lessons coming from an AI.

You might think that YA dystopias aren’t your thing anymore, but I’m telling you to give this series a try. It’s not like anything else you’ve read. I definitely need to read more of Shusterman’s books.  

The Binding

Author: Bridget Collins

Genre: Historical fantasy

My rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis: Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Forever.


Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed, and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten (Goodreads).

My thoughts

I loved the last 2 out of 3 parts of this book mainly because of the romance. It’s so beautifully written that I was completely lost in their lives and the story that unfolded. I couldn’t put the book down. I’m not a romance reader so it surprised quite a lot that this was my reaction. I encourage you to check out my full review for The Binding if you want to know more about my thoughts.

The Mark of Athena (Book 3 in The Heroes of Olympus)

Author: Rick Riordan

Genre: Middle grade/YA fantasy

My rating:

Synopsis: Can Percy Jackson and the Half-blood Heroes succeed on their quest to find The Doors of Death or will the Greek Gods of chaos win their battle to stop them? Percy and his fellow demi-gods face the most important quest of all – the Prophecy of Seva (Goodreads).

My thoughts

Well…I’m not overly excited by this series. I’m mainly reading them to know what happens to Percy and that’s it. I’ve not rated this book because I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer to whether this is middle grade or YA. Let me just say that I have issues with the book either way. If it’s middle grade, I think the focus on relationships is waaay too high. The characters are 15-16 years old. You’re not supposed to be in a relationship at that age. What a way to give your young readers anxiety.

If it’s YA, I’m going to bash the writing. The writing is middle grade level and that’s just a fact. There’s too much telling instead of showing. As a reader, you’re not expected to think for yourself. Everything is explained to you which is common and perfect for a middle grade book. Not a YA. Sorry, rant over.

Red, White and Royal Blue

Author: Casey McQuiston

Genre: New adult contemporary

My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis: First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you? (Goodreads)

My thoughts

WHAT is this book? How is it real? Does this mean love is real too?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It’s just too adorable (and hot) not to like. McQuiston made me feel very invested in the lives of Alex and Henry and I was just rooting for them to be together the entire time. When we’re on the topic of characters, one of them reads Harry Potter for comfort. If that’s not the most relatable thing, I don’t know what is. In general, I enjoyed the level of pop-culture references. I feel that can easily be overdone, but in this one, it was just a fun element used to tell the story.

I think you can tell that McQuiston had a clear goal and purpose with this book. It becomes a little predictable, but the book does what it sets out to do, so not the biggest problem. It’s just the reason why I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating. You still need to read it though (or don’t if you don’t want to. I’m not forcing you, I promise).

To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Genre: Classic fiction

My rating:

Synopsis: The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature (Goodreads).

My thoughts

I understand why this is a classic. It’s very impactful and gives the reader an educational insight into American history. I kept thinking that it’s the perfect book to read in school which I also guess most people do. There are so many small hints and suggestions that can be unpacked in a classroom and discussed further.

I don’t know how to rate classics really. I mean it’s a very important book, but I was also slightly bored a lot of the time. I’m still glad I read it though. Even if you don’t read classics, I think you should at least consider reading this one.

That was 7 mini-reviews for you. If you hadn’t guessed it, Red, White and Royal Blue was the book that prevented the reading slump. A hyped book that actually deserve the hype. Let’s chat in the comments if you’ve read any of these or intend to.

Happy reading,

Line

Posted in Wrap up

Books I Read in May

Sometimes, I worry that I’m not the hero everyone thinks I am. . . .

First line in The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

May has been a bit of a tough one for me. I was extremely busy at work for the last half of the month, so I often felt too tired to read when I got home. However, what I managed to read was quite amazing. I ended on a total of 5 books. All fantasy. All sequels (beware of spoilers for the previous books in the synopsis). Let’s talk about them.

The King of Attolia (Book 3 in The Queen’s Thief)

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis: (SPOILERS for the first two books in the series) By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king’s caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides (Goodreads).

My thoughts:

I adore Eugenides. That’s it. Well, I love other aspects of the series as well but mainly Eugenides. He’s such a layered character and I feel like each book in the series adds to his complexity. In this third book, he’s not the POV character but we get to observe him through another. It’s an interesting idea but I think that might have been what hindered my enjoyment of the book. We sort of start over with a completely new character, Costis, and I found that I didn’t really connect with him. He became too much of an observer and lacked some personality in my opinion.

The plot that he observes, however, is just as great as in The Queen of Attolia (my favorite in the series). The political scheming is elaborate and so well hidden that you can’t possibly figure it out. Not that you don’t get hints, but Turner writes them so well in between the lines that you think you know, but you don’t. I will continue with the series.

The Obelisk Gate (Book 2 in The Broken Earth)

Author: N. K. Jemisin

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3 stars

Synopsis: The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.
The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken (Goodreads).

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying that I’m not positive this series is for me. I think the plot is quite interesting and there are many thought-provoking statements in there that are relevant to our real world. The world is vast and detailed which I appreciate. I enjoy reading worlds and feeling like the author has thought of everything which is the case in The Broken Earth.

My main critique of the series is the writing style. It just really puts me off to be reading from a second-person perspective. Sometimes, it was also very confusing to me whose perspective I was actually reading from and it prevented me from being immersed in the story. On top of that, the magic system is a bit difficult to understand so I spent a lot of time being frustrated by it.

So, my problems with this book are mainly of a personal preference so I wouldn’t call it a bad book. I would still recommend people to read the series if they find the synopsis interesting.

Before the Devil Breaks You (Book 3 in The Diviners)

Author: Libba Bray

Genre: YA historical fantasy

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: After battling a sleeping sickness, The Diviners are up against a group of new and malevolent foes–ghosts! Out in Ward’s Island sits a mental hospital full of lost souls from people long forgotten. Ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the Man in the Stovepipe Hat also known as the King of Crows. With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over New York City, the Diviners must band together and brave the ghosts haunting the asylum to bring down the King of Crows (Goodreads).

My thoughts:

I listened to this as an audiobook and let me tell you: I’m NOT an audiobook person. Somehow though, this really worked for me. I normally have difficulties staying focused on the audiobook as my mind tend to wander. Before the Devil Breaks You managed to keep my attention because the narrator was really good and also because the writing just kept me interested. Bray manages to create suspense and an eerie atmosphere in such a unique way, especially through her chapters from non-main-characters. The setting being in the 1920’s is just a genius move and she literally makes you feel like you’re actually there.   The only thing I disliked has to do with the characters. All the characters are amazing and so well thought out and developed but there are a lot of them. There isn’t time to follow everyone and in this book it’s especially obvious how some characters take a backseat and are just there when they are needed by the others. Over all though, it’s a book and a series that I really enjoy reading and I need the fourth book right this second.

A Dance with Dragons (Book 5 in A Song of Ice and Fire)

Author: George R. R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 4 stars

Synopsis: From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all (Goodreads).

My thoughts:

This book is a step up from the previous book, A Feast for Crows, which I really didn’t care for. The stakes seem higher in this one although not a lot of action happens. It’s a slow build-up and development of these exceptionally gray characters and I love it. Even the characters that I don’t really like, I love as characters. Martin can also make me care immensely about even minor characters through a single chapter while keeping it relevant to the plot. In short, his character work gets a 5 star rating.

I’m still not a huge fan of his writing style which is why I haven’t given any of the books in the series 5 stars. It’s very dense and (unnecessarily) detailed. However, I’m a fan of everything else about these books and I will keep reading them.

Red Seas under Red Skies (Book 2 in Gentleman Bastard)

Author: Scott Lynch

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis: After a brutal battle with the underworld, Locke and his sidekick, Jean, fled to the exotic shores of Tal Verrar to nurse their wounds. But they are soon back to what they do best–stealing from the rich and pocketing the proceeds. Now, however, they have targeted the grandest prize of all: the Sinspire, the world’s most exclusive, most heavily guarded gambling house. But there is one cardinal rule: it is death to cheat at any game.

Brazenly undeterred, Locke and Jean have orchestrated an elaborate plan to lie, trick, and swindle their way straight to the Sinspire’s teeming vault. But someone knows the duo’s secret–and has every intention of making them pay for their sins (Goodreads).

My thoughts:

THIS FRIENDSHIP! I can’t express how much I appreciate the friendship between Locke and Jean. It’s tender. It’s caring. It’s something I’ve never seen in books between two male friends. To other authors: please copy this.

While Locke and Jean are the highlights for me in this book, the plot is almost equally amazing. It’s so complex and just keeps you hooked because you want to know how it all resolves. Sprinkled through it all are lessons in piracy and moments of humor. I personally appreciated the role of cats in this book. It literally made me laugh out loud several times.

I had a minor problem with the writing. It appears very important to Lynch to describe every outfit of every character in great detail. I understand that it adds to the atmosphere and environment they are in, but I often caught myself thinking: “Okay I get it. Can we move on now?”

It’s a small thing so I still absolutely adore these books and everyone who likes fantasy should read them.

Those were all the books I read in May. Have you read any of them? Or maybe intended to read them?

Hope you’re having a perfect day. I’ll be back again with another post very soon.  

Line