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?

Posted in Wrap up

February 2020 Reading Wrap Up

“Jasnah Kholin pretended to enjoy the party, giving no indication that she intended to have one of the guests killed.”

First line in Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Hi, guys and welcome to my monthly reading wrap up for the month of February. It was a mixed month to say the least. Just take a look at my stats for the month:

reading stats feb

4 books is not a lot but I’m not exactly surprised. This past month I’ve often had the time to read but then decided I didn’t want to. I don’t really have reading slumps where I don’t read anything at all. Then I just read 20 pages a day instead of 100 resulting in only 4 books read. 

However, my page count is quite high (thank you, Words of Radiance) and I’m still on track with my Goodreads goal. But let’s get onto the books and the 4 mini-reviews. 

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The Exiled Queen (Book 2 in Seven Realms)

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: September 1st 2010

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Demon King.

My thoughts

This was a step up from the first book! There was more of a direction to the plot and the characters became more dynamic. It’s just a fast paced and easy read so I really enjoyed reading it. If you’re interested in more of my thougths, I have review and spoiler dicussion right here

Autoboyography

Authors: Christina Lauren

Published: September 12th 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: LGBTQ+, writing a book, Mormon characters

Synopsis: Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Autoboyography was such a nice surprise. I didn’t know very much about it before starting it and I think that made a huge difference. The Mormon faith was a bit of a gray area for me before going in but I really like how it was portrayed, and how it wasn’t just there to be the “villain”. We saw the good sides too and that especially made Sebastian’s character believable and realistic. I also think it worked really well that our MC, Tanner, wasn’t Mormon but instead an outsider looking it and observing that community. He’s learning alongside the reader. 

The development of the relationship felt very natural. It might have been a little rushed in the beginning making it a little insta-lovey but I really didn’t mind that. I mean, it’s what we’re here for so you might as well get the story going. After that, I really appreciated that the relationship had some bumps along the way showing that love doesn’t solve everything. 

I had to take a star off because I wasn’t in love with the ending. It seemed like it was dragged out because they couldn’t decide which ending they wanted and therefore went with all of them. I would have loved to see the authors take a chance and just go with one ending. 

Words of Radiance (Book 2 in The Stormlight Archive)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: March 4th 2014

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Way of Kings

My thoughts

It’s unreal how many times I just said “what?” out loud while reading this. This would often be followed by 20 minutes of me just staring at nothing, trying to wrap my head around the epicness of this book. 

I don’t think I have much to say about this book and this series that hasn’t already been said. It’s amazing in every way. The world keeps getting bigger. The magic evolves quite a bit in this one but there is still so much that we don’t know. 

The reason I only gave this one 4.5 stars is because of Shallan. This is kind of her book as the first one was Kaladin’s… but I don’t like Shallan. My main issue with her is that she seems to be a little too lucky sometimes. Everything she tries just works out and when she makes mistakes they are small and there are no consequences for her. It all just sorts itself out and everybody loves her. It made me loose interest in her chapters because why should I care then? I think it’s especially evident when you see the contrast in Kaladin’s chapters where his mistakes have huge repercussions. So, Kaladin is still my favorite character. His story is just a lot more interesting. Also, a certain scene with him near the end actually made me stop breathing. That was a masterfully written scene!

The Gray Wolf Throne (Book 3 in Seven Realms)

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Published: January 1st 2011

Genre: YA Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Demon King.

My thoughts

I did not like this one and I’m so sad about it. I loved reading the first two books in the series but The Gray Wolf Throne just became waaay too tropy for me. I was annoyed with practically every single character and on top of that, the plot moved way to slow. I spent most of the book waiting for stuff to happen. I have a full review and spoiler talk up for it if you want to know more of my thoughts. 

seperator

Those were the 4 books I read in the month of February. Let me know if you’ve read any of them. Finally, I hope you had a great reading month and have a good week. 

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Posted in Wrap up

December Reading Wrap Up

“This is it, you guys,” I say as we approach.”

First line in Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Hi, guys and welcome to my final wrap up of 2019. December turned out to be the best month of the year in terms of the number of books I read. I hit a total of 7 books which is kind of awesome for someone like me who has an average of 5 books per month. It was a super stressful month so I have no idea how I found the time to read that much. However, I think it helped that I participated in the Winter Magical Readathon which was so much fun but also probably pushed me to read some more.

My ratings for the month was a little bit all over the place although there were nothing truly horrible. Nonetheless, here you have the 7 mini-reviews of the books I read in December.

Ninth House (Book 1 in Alex Stern)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Published: October 8th 2019

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: secret societies, ghosts, creepy magic

Synopsis: Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Goodreads

My thoughts

It’s difficult for me tell you exactly what was wrong with this book, because I don’t believe it’s a bad book. It’s just filled to the brim with tropes I hate. Ghosts? Check. Murder mystery? Check. Annoying MC who is somehow better at police work than the actual detectives? Check. And so many others that are too spoilery to talk about so I’ll spare you.

A general problem I had throughout the entire book was that I didn’t care about the characters. I especially had trouble connecting with Alex, our MC, and just found her more and more annoying. As the book is very character focused that was kind of a big problem. We get quite a few flashbacks to her teenage years which put these breaks in the current story. I loved when Bardugo did that in Six of Crows, but in Ninth House they mostly felt boring.

The most interesting character for me was Darlington but he was barely there. He was what kept me reading because I was always hoping he would pop up.

As I said, this isn’t a bad book by any means but it was just so wrong for me. If you find the synopsis interesting, I still think you should give it a go.

The Toll (Book 3 in Arc of a Scythe)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: November 5th 2019

Genre: YA Science Fiction

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Buzzwords: Dystopia, AI, exploration of morality and humanity

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, Scythe.

My thoughts

I refuse to acknowledge that this series is over. It is too good the end! Nonetheless, The Toll was a perfect and satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that kept being relevant even though it takes place in the far future. This book continued the trend of the first two books and made me question humanity’s nature even more.

This last book is quite a long one but I’m not complaining. Even though it was a bit slow at times, the book needed to be this long. There aren’t a scene or a character that aren’t there for a reason and every little thing they do matters. Shusterman is especially good at making you understand every character and he doesn’t need many pages to do it. That was really important as we’re introduced to quite a few new characters in this one. It might seem counterproductive to do so in the final book but that is so not the case. Because Shusterman introduces them so effectively, it honestly seems like they’ve been a part of the story the whole time.

I also just briefly have to mention the plot because that is also amazing. Shusterman takes his time to develop it by going back and forth between characters, places and also years. He keeps you guessing all the way through, and it all in all made The Toll such a spectacular read.

The Fever King (Book 1 in Feverwake)

Author: Victoria Lee

Published: March 1st 2019

Genre: YA Science Fiction Fantasy

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Cool magic system, LGBTQ+, undocumented immigrants in the future

Synopsis: In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This book has such an interesting world and magic system. It’s set in the future but certain people have magical abilities that are heavily tied to a person’s knowledge of physics, biology ect. I love a magic system that encourages learning.

This book also has some compelling characters and serious themes that are very relevant to our world today. If you want to know more about my thoughts on The Fever King, I have a full review for you to check out.

The Bands of Mourning (Book 6 in Mistborn)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: January 26th 2016

Genre: Fantasy

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Gun fights, a developing fantasy world, complicated magic

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Final Empire.

My thoughts

I must admit that this is a series that I really, really want to love… but it just keeps letting me down. It’s not even that there’s something inherently wrong with it. I just think that it could be so much more than what it actually is. Does that make sense? Probably not.

I think the characters and the plot are too simplistic and predictable. The simple characters mean that I’m not very attached to them and the simple plot means that I’m never really excited or fearful about what’s going to happen. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad book. It was just alright. I’m also still going to read the next book in the series when it’s published because I want to see how the world evolves.

Queens of Geek

Author: Jen Wilde

Published: March 17th 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: fandom culture, social anxiety rep, romance

Synopsis: Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Prepare for some mixed feelings. Queens of Geek is a very, very fluffy contemporary and I think it was too much for me. Too many things in this book just seem way too perfect. Especially the conversations between the characters. We follow teenagers who apparently always know the correct thing to say. As in you couldn’t say it better. It’s very unrealistic, and that bothered me quite a bit because it’s a book that’s trying very hard to be real and relatable.

This perfectness also meant that I missed just a little bit of conflict. Any kind of problem was quickly quenched by those perfect conversations and that just got a little boring by the halfway mark.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed the social anxiety rep and how fandom culture can play a role in that regard. Those things were combined really well and I related to it so much. The social anxiety was also my main reason for picking this book up so I’m still really glad I read it. I just can’t quite look past my problems with the book mentioned above.

Dry

Authors: Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Published: October 1st 2018

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Disastrous near-future, human nature in a crisis, water shortage, standalone

Synopsis: Everyone’s going to remember where they were when the taps ran dry.

The drought—or the tap-out, as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. But now there is no water left at all.

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This was just what I needed after finishing The Toll. It made me realize that I genuinely love Neal Shusterman’s writing style.

In Dry we follow a group of characters that are trying the survive in a world with no water. I really liked Shusterman’s character work in this one because he really makes you understand the characters and their decisions. Even those that are the tough decisions that this world inevitably provokes. If you want to know more about my thoughts, I have a full review for it.

Call Down the Hawk (Book 1 Dreamer Trilogy)

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Published: November 5th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: The Raven Cycle sequel, beautiful writing, whimsical, Ronan (yes, that’s a buzzword)

Synopsis: The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

Goodreads

My thoughts

I’ve been putting off writing this review as long as I can, hoping that my feelings about this book would change. They didn’t meaning that I’m slightly disappointed by this first book in the new Dreamer Trilogy. My expectations were also very high.

The entire book felt very introductory. I kept waiting for it to start but I had to wait until the last 30 pages or so. That gave me hope for the rest of the trilogy though.

Other reviewer’s main critique of the book seems to be: not enough Adam (will there ever be enough though?). I feel that one too but I was prepared for it and understand that this isn’t about Adam. However, I want to add that there wasn’t enough Ronan. I feel like some of the new characters took over and I just wanted a Ronan-centered story.

However, Ronan’s parts of the book are the reason I still gave this a high rating. It felt sooo good to read about him again because he is such a unique character. And the few times Adam appeared too… I think my heart was about to burst.

I still have high hopes for the series and can’t wait for the second book.

Those were the 7 books I read in December which was a tough month for me personally, but apparently that means I read more. It was also a month were I found a new favorite author, Neal Shusterman. The two books I read by him this month were amazing and I want more of his writing style.

How was your Decemeber? Were there any books that managed to sneak their way onto your favorite books of the year list? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Wrap up

November Reading Wrap Up

“Dusk at the end of winter, and two men crossed the dooryard of a palace scarred by fire.”

First line in Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Hello, friends. Welcome to my November Wrap where I give you some exicting mini-reviews for the books I read in the month of November. I read a total of 5 books which seems to be my number. 3 of those were perfect, one was okay and my last read of the month was a waste of time.

This was also the month I managed to reach my Goodreads goal of 55 books. Always great. I’m the kind of reader who set my Goodreads goal to something I’m absolutely sure I’ll achieve because I just want to feel acomplished. Silly, I know. Let me know what you consider when setting your reading goal for the year.

As something new in my wrap ups, I’m going to give you “buzzwords” for each book. Words to grab your attention and help you decide whether it is a book for you. I’m still figuring out how to do it properly, but I’m working on it.

Let’s talk about some books.

Thick as Thieves (Book 5 in The Queen’s Thief)

Author: Megan Whalen Turner

Published: May 16th 2017

Genre: YA fantasy

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Friendship, escaped slave, complex characters, political intrigue

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

My thoughts

Honestly, I’m mindblown. Again. I’m so mesmerized with the way Turner writes her characters and their slow but steady development. For some reason, I’m always a bit wary before starting books in this series because they each have their own POV character. As a character-driven reader, I need to love that POV character to love the book so maybe you understand my hesitation. It took me 5 books to realize that I never need to worry about that when it’s Megan Whalen Turner who writes the characters.

Our main character in Thick As Thieves, Kamet, starts out with quite a few flaws. He’s stubborn and a bit of an annoying know-it-all, but I loved reading from his perspective anyway right from the start.

Besides her characters, Turner is also famous for her plot twists. I was so sure that by the fifth book, I’d figured her out and knew what to look out for. Did she trick me again? Yes. Several times.

Basically, I think Thick as Thieves might be my new favorite book in the series.

The Girl in the Tower (Book 2 in Winternight Trilogy)

Author: Katherine Arden

Published: December 5th 2017

Genre: Historical fantasy

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Russia, atmospheric, empowering female characters, winter

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale.

My thoughts

Let me tell you, I did not expect to love this. I gave the first book in the series 3 stars, and I mainly continued with the series because the writing was beautiful. The writing is still beautiful , but the book also gave me so much more!

Even though the story is very character-driven, The Girl in the Tower also had a really great plot which I was sort of missing in the first book. It wasn’t always at the forefront, but I was completely mesmerized by the revelations at the end.

My favorite part of the book is our main character Vasya. THAT is a strong female character if I ever saw one. Her motivations are so inspiring. She knows what she wants and won’t compromise even though people tell her again and again that she should. I can’t tell you how much I loved reading about her in this book.

Author: Laura Silverman

Published: March 5th 2019

Genre: YA contemporary

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: High school, living up to society’s expectations, diversity

Synopsis: Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

Goodreads

My thoughts

3 star books are just the hardest to review. I liked the last half of the book quite a bit more than the first half. In the beginning, it felt a lot like the book needed to check some things off a list in terms of diversity. It was all very rushed so I didn’t have time to appreciate everything. In general, I think the book could have benefited from being longer. There were some time jumps that made me go: “Wait.. didn’t we skip something important?”.

It’s a book that also heavily feature Judaism, because our main character is Jewish. The author herself is also Jewish so I expect that the religious aspects are pretty accurate. Definitely a book I will recommend if you’re interested in that perspective. However, I don’t care for any religion in any book, so that brought my rating down a bit.

The themes of the book is what kept me reading. It deals a lot with the pressure of being good in school and have a functioning social life at the same time. That’s what the last half of the book really got into and I like the way it was handled. If you’ve read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, you’ll definitely see the parallels. I still prefer Radio Silence over You Asked for Perfect, but if you crave more Radio Silence, I think this is a good choice.

The Winter of the Witch (Book 3 in Winternight Trilogy)

Author: Katherine Arden

Published: January 8th 2019

Genre: Historical fantasy

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Russia, atmospheric, empowering female characters, winter

Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Bear and the Nightingale.

My thoughts

First of all: I finished a series! And completed my Goodreads goal of 55 with this book. Second of all: I already praised the second book in the series further up in this wrap up. I could copy-paste all of that here because the third book was just as amazing.

However, I want to add that I especially appreciate this book a lot for its overall fairy tale feeling. Yes, it’s magical but also a bit sinister like those original fairy tales. I really think it’s amazing how Arden balanced that. Also, that I was able to get this feeling without knowing anything about Russian fairy tales. I could tell that parts of the story was probably based on fairy tales but I didn’t know what and how much. I loved that.

It’s not a full 5 stars, however, because there were parts of the book that dragged a little. Especially around the middle I was a little impatient to get the story moving.

The Nickel Boys

Author: Colson Whitehead

Published: July 16th 2019

Genre: Historical fiction

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Buzzwords: Civil Rights movement, POC main character, reform school

Synopsis:

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called The Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.”

In reality, The Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors, where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.” His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked and the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble.

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at The Nickel Academy.

Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Of course I end up disliking a book that is a National Book Award Nominee *sigh*. I’m sorry but I was so bored all the way through, and it wasn’t until the last 15 pages that I got a little exicted. The ending is basically the only thing I really liked about this as the plot twist was quite clever. It wasn’t good enough the redeem the entire book though, but it made me glad I pushed through.

I think the writing put me off because it felt quite detached from the events in the book. I kept being told that these awful things were happening but I wouldn’t see it. More importantly, I wouldn’t feel it either. Whitehead doesn’t go much into the character’s emotions about these horrible things and that just made it hard for me to connect to it all.

I also couldn’t help thinking that I’d heard this story before. These stories about the so-called reform schools where the students were abused have been told before. Both in books and movies, and I don’t think The Nickel Boys did anything special to differentiate itself from the others.

This is it for my reading month. I’m really happy that I was able to finish/get caught up with two series! That’s kind of a big deal. So, now I can start some new ones right? Oh, don’t worry. I’ve already done that.

My favorite read of the month ended up being The Girl in the Tower. I’d love to know what your favorite of the month was.