September Round-Up

 

 

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of September already. It seems to have really flown in, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything. After completing the ReadingforGold challenge and reading ten books in ten days, I then got hit with an attack of reading fatigue, so the second half of the month has been very slow. On top of that, starting a new job has completely wiped out all of my energy, so I just haven’t been reading half as much as usual. I’m also getting up too early in the mornings for my brain to be in gear, so I’ve lost reading time on my morning commute as well.  I think I’ve read fewer books this month than any other month so far this year, at just fourteen. All of that combined to make for a quiet month of September, but I still had a few fun things in there.

Books

  1. Crown of Midnight – Sarah J Maas
  2. Moth Girls – Anne Cassidy
  3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
  4. Heir of Fire – Sarah J Maas
  5. The Taggerung – Brian Jacques
  6. Queen of Shadows – Sarah J Maas
  7. Empire of Storms – Sarah J Maas
  8. Every Day – David Levithan
  9. Another Day – David Levithan
  10. Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson
  11. The Lost Child – Caryl Philips
  12. Triss – Brian Jacques
  13. A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas
  14. My Mother’s Secret – Sheila O’Flanagan

 

Short Stories

I actually didn’t read any short stories this month. Not even a one. That’s pretty unusual, but I guess it had to happen some time.

Cover Art

Favourite Book This Month

I think my favourite book this month, even though it maybe wasn’t the best book I read this month, was Empire of Storms, simply because I was so excited about it coming out. I was looking forward to it for basically an entire year, since I finished Queen of Shadows last year. I’m now eagerly anticipating the arrival of the sixth book in the series, even though we don’t yet have a title, or cover art or, in fact, anything. I’m tiding myself over by reading A Court of Thorns and Roses this month, and I’ll read A Court of Mist and Fury hopefully next month.

Least Favourite Book This Month

This category is a new arrival just for this month, because I cannot stress enough how much I hated The Lost Child. I don’t think there’s anything else in my GoodReads library that has as low a rating, nor that I was left with such fury in my heart after having finished it. I don’t know if this category will make it into the October round-up, but I just wanted to make it very, very clear that I really, really hated that book. Like really hated it. Hated it with a fury.

Favourite Cover This Month

Having read a whole bunch of the Throne of Glass series this month, the mosaic of cover art above is very white. Looking at the whole series on a shelf together, it looks great! Plus, the covers for Every Day and Another Day are really cool next to each other as well, with their little figures made out of words. But my favourite cover this month has to go to Triss. I love the colours of it, the purple sail of the ship, the freedom of Triss and Shogg sailing their way to emancipation, and the movement of the ship. All in all, I’m a big fan of that cover, so even though I’ve owned the book for years, it still gets this month’s accolade.

Other Thoughts

Reading Triss brought me almost up to date on my Redwall Reread. Although I’ve also read High Rhulain, that’s not the next book chronologically, so when I read my next Redwall book, it’ll be a totally new experience. I’m kind of excited for that, because it’s been a long time since I read a new Redwall book, and I’m wondering if it’ll be as fresh and exciting as it was the last few times.

Also, in last month’s Round-Up, I was pretty convinced that I was going to reread the rest of the Old Kingdom books in preparation for the publication of Goldenhand. I actually haven’t managed to do that, so it’ll get passed over to October.

Finally, I’ve been slogging my way through A Game of Thrones this week, because it’s going to fill a category on my Modern Mrs Darcy challenge. I’m not sure if I’m enjoying it – it’s quite a slog, and there are so many characters to keep straight in my head. I suspect it’ll take me a long time to get through the whole of A Song of Ice and Fire – maybe not even by the time the sixth book is published!

Hopefully in October I’ll be less tired, so I’ll be able to both read more and blog more, but who knows how the future will go!

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Try Not To Breathe – Holly Seddon

28248990My sister Sinéad sends me so many pictures of books and recommendations that I’ve had to set up a shelf on GoodReads to keep track of them – I don’t always remember where I decided I wanted to get something, and sometimes I forget to tell her that I have the book, so that she can read it too. Try Not To Breathe was one of the books that she decided she liked the look of, so I got it on my Kindle, and read it back in June.

Try Not To Breathe sounds like it would be the kind of book I’d like. There’s an unreliable narrator (because she’s in a persistent vegetative state), an alcoholic, a broken marriage, a crime to be solved, all things which have worked well for me in other books like The Girl On The Train and Gone Girl. So I was going into this with high hopes of really liking it.

You won’t be able to put it down.
Just remember to breathe.

Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…

In the end, though, I found it interesting, but not really gripping. It felt a bit like a bandwagon jumper, with an alcoholic main character and a broken marriage behind her, and a mystery to be solved with memory gaps, but was by no means a bad book. I did guess the attacker pretty early on, though, which was disappointing.

There’s something about reading a crime/drama/thriller book like this which I really enjoy, but it has to be done well. Try Not To Breathe, I thought, was just a mediocre example of a genre which has to be excellent to grip me, so I was left decidedly unimpressed by this one.

While I couldn’t put my finger on any one thing that I really disliked about this book, I also couldn’t put my finger on anything that I actually liked, so I was left with a very non-committal opinion towards it. That in and of itself is disappointing, because when it’s done well, this is the kind of book that I would absolutely rave about. I thrust Gone Girl in the hands of everyone I found for a good three months after I read it, just because I was so entranced by its twisted approach to marriage and the cool girl. On top of that, I also searched out Gillian Flynn’s other books (not that it was difficult, given how phenomenally successful Gone Girl was), and will read whatever she publishes in the future.

The Girl on the Train, then, was like Gone Girl, but less impressive, for me. I don’t know if I’m going to go see it when it comes out in the cinema later this year. But Try Not To Breathe was even less again. It had lots of elements of things that I like, but it didn’t pull them together in a way which gripped me, so I was left disappointed by a book which I had thought was really going to be quite exciting.

Three Stars
***

 

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The Winner’s Trilogy

20818791I don’t really recall when or where I found these books, but I decided I wanted to read them partially based on the gorgeous covers, and partially because I saw them get generally very positive reviews on Tumblr. I went into them knowing very little, only that the main character was called Kestrel and that they were YA fantasy books. I didn’t even know what The Winner’s Curse was, so I was pretty much going in blind. Reading blurbs isn’t a strength of mine, apparently – not if there’s a pretty dress on the cover!

20443207The Winner’s Trilogy – The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime, and The Winner’s Kiss, all written by Marie Rutkoski – follow the story of Kestrel, daughter of a general in an empire that reveres war, who chafes against the expectations of her. Finding a kindred spirit one day in a slave she bought on impulse, Kestrel is drawn into a deadly game of political and romantic intrigue, where the stakes are higher than she ever thought possible, and the choices she faces are often between losing her heart and her head.

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

20443235I thoroughly enjoyed The Winner’s Trilogy. It’s densely plotted, with a  fair amount of political intrigue and a sweeping, but not instantaneous, love story with two very sympathetic characters. Arin and Kestrel come from very different circumstances and have both a lot to learn and a lot to lose from each other. I was caught up in their story, and the story of their world, from the Valorian obsession with war and honour to the sweeping world depicted in The Winner’s Kiss, with work camps in the frozen north and war, flat-out war, for the freedom of those enslaved.

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting from The Winner’s Trilogy, but what I got was extremely good. It’s far more than just pretty girls falling in love and wearing nice dresses (although there is some of that). It’s rich and complex, and the characters are believable and sympathetic and loveable, and I was rooting for everyone, even as they went to war against each other. How does that work? I don’t really know. But I seemed to be doing it nonetheless.

I had two main complaints about these books. The first was that one of the characters was called Ronan. I know that’s a ridiculous complaint. But I started reading the first of the trilogy while I was in my boyfriend Ronan’s flat, and was far more invested in the fate of fictional Ronan than I should have been. I wanted more Ronan in the books. I wanted good things to happen to Ronan. I am an idiot, I freely admit that.

My second complaint, and I don’t know how much of a complaint it really is, is that this is a fantasy book with absolutely no magic in it. It’s about political intrigue and military might, about human connection and romance and love, and familial ties and duty to one’s country, but there is not a single shred of magic. Certainly not in the first book. It’s a little more debatable as you get further in. Now I have no issue with books with no magic in them. I’m perfectly happy to read books which are political, historical, dramatical, liturgical… Okay, okay, too many -cals. My point is that when I see a book marked ‘fantasy’, I expect there to be some form of magic in it. Dragons, maybe. Elves. Orcs. Goblins. Spellcasting. Snow-summoning abilities. An unnaturally pointed ear and a sharp, killing canine. There was nothing of this in The Winner’s Trilogy.

So my complaint, really, is that there’s no genre which is ‘totally different world, imaginary, but not magical in the least’. I really feel like that’s a different kind of book to a fantasy book, whether high fantasy or low fantasy. I went into this book expecting something very different to what I got, and while what I got was excellent, I just don’t see how it can be classed as a high fantasy, even though it is, since it’s not set on earth or in our society, etc etc. It’s something I find quite frustrating.

But nonetheless. Despite being disappointed by the lack of spellcasting in The Winner’s Trilogy, I was still left with a very strong trilogy of books, a complex and intriguing main character, a romance which was satisfying without being twee, and a world that I thoroughly enjoyed exploring.

The Winner’s Curse
Four Stars
****

The Winner’s Crime
Four Stars
****

The Winner’s Kiss
Four Stars
****

 

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Modern Mrs Darcy Update

I have to admit I’ve fallen behind on my preferred blog schedule this week. I started a new job on Tuesday and the fact that I need to be up at times which are before, you know, 10am, has hit me harder than I thought it would. Doing my PhD, I was able to set my own hours, but that’s not really the case with actual jobs, so I’m taking a little more time than I would like to adjust to this new system, and things like blogging, tweeting, instagramming, and in fact anything that isn’t sleeping, have rather fallen by the wayside.

So today’s post is an update on the Modern Mrs Darcy challenge, since I’ve ticked off a few more categories since the last time I talked about it, and a few thoughts on the books I’ve added.

  • a book published this year
  • a book you can finish in a day
    • Hired Bride – Noelle Adams: this was free on iBooks, and I devoured it one day in early January. A light, fluffy, Mills&Boon-type romance which did exactly what I expected by keeping me entertained during the Christmas holidays.
  • a book you’ve been meaning to read
    • I really enjoyed the Throne of Glass series so far, and having read Empire of Storms when it was published at the start of this month, I was even more convinced that I needed to make a start on A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first of Sarah J Maas’s other series. I read it during this week, so I don’t have a post on it yet, but I’m hoping to get one up before too long!
  • a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
    • At present I’ve got the Graceling trilogy in this spot, but I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to keep it at that. I might see what else I’ve read by the end of the year which fits in better.
  • a book you should have read in school
    • I don’t know HOW I’m going to do this one, considering I read everything I could find. I suppose I could re-read one of my assigned texts from Uni… I’ll consider this one.
  • a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF
    • The Lost Child – Caryl Philips was chosen for me (and given to me for Christmas) by my BFF, Dave. It did take me a full nine months to read it, but to be honest, I’m pretty sure I could’ve survived even longer without reading it. My thoughts on this book, as demonstrated in the post linked, are mostly an incomprehensible mess of questions. This was, without question, the worst book I’ve read this year so far. More than any of the badly written or simply dull books that I’ve clocked up, this was actually painful to read. I will never, ever read anything written by this guy (who I was convinced was a woman, because I’m not good at checking these things) again.
  • a book published before you were born
    • Knockdown – Dick Francis. I re-read this earlier this year after a discussion with my dad. The main character has an easily dislocated shoulder, which is also true of my dad, so I’ve always associated it with him.
  • a book that was banned at some point
  • a book you previously abandoned
    • I’ve created a new ‘abandoned’ shelf on Goodreads, which has two books languishing on it. Hopefully one of these will make it onto this list!
  • a book you own but have never read
  • a book that intimidates you
    • I’m hoping that A Game of Thrones will fill this spot. I’ve been meaning to read it since I gave it to my sister for her birthday, three or four years ago, but it’s just too much of an undertaking!
  • a book you’ve already read at least once
    • So many books could fulfil this. We’ll go with the first ten Princess Diaries books, which I mentioned in my January/February roundup.

      Seven out of twelve categories ticked off, and we’re on month nine of the year now. I’m falling behind. I’ll need to do some thinking about what to fill in the other sections with – time is running short!

 

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The Last Week of May – Roisin Meaney

imagesRoisin Meaney books are never books that I buy myself. My mum really likes her, so I peruse her collection regularly to ensure that I am up to date with all of them. Meaney writes nice, gentle stories about a motley collection of Irish people in friendly Irish villages and towns, where everyone is interconnected in some way, and generally everything ends up with a happily ever after. The Last Week of May is no different to that. It’s a sweet and gentle story about a collection of people during a single week which may well change all of their lives.

The Last Week of May – Roisin Meaney

When May O’Callaghan throws in her predictable nine-to-five job and advertises her services as a general odd-jobber in the local newspaper, everyone thinks she has finally lost the plot. But when the offers from neighbours start flooding in, she becomes gardener, painter, window-cleaner and dog-walker extraordinare. But May quickly finds she has a lot more than overgrown lawns to deal with…

As May fits into her new life we meet her friend Pam and her husband Jack — but why is Pam terrified to tell Jack that she’s pregnant? And then there’s Denis and Bernard, May’s next-door neighbours, going about their business oblivious to the deadly threat that lurks close by. There’s Paddy, who lives on his own yet never seems to be at home. And Paul, three doors up, willing to risk everything for an affair with Carmel, the young teacher who has yet to learn that there’s a price to pay for having something that shouldn’t be yours. But what May can’t figure out is who gave her the beautiful shell necklace and was it really meant for her? On this one particular week, all is about to change for the inhabitants of Kilpatrick and May discovers that while only love can break your heart, only love can put it back together.

I enjoyed this book, much like I enjoy all of Roisin Meaney’s books. They’re not groundbreaking, and they don’t linger in my mind. The details of them all seem to blur together most of the time, and I have trouble telling one from another. That’s not necessarily a criticism. I like the atmosphere of all her books, and enjoy all of them as I’m reading them. They’re like a cup of hot chocolate made at home. They’re not gloriously indulgent (unlike, say, Butler’s hot chocolate) but they’re nice and warm and are fun.

The thing about this book, though, is that it’s called The Last Week of May, but set in June. So, having read the title, I was totally expecting May to be gruesomely murdered at the end of the book. I don’t know why I expected this. It would be totally out of keeping with everything that I’ve ever read by Roisin Meaney. It was nothing like the rest of the book. I have no idea why I got this notion into my head, but it meant that I finished the book with a little sort of disappointed huff that May did not, in fact, die in the book (spoilers, I guess…)

That was my own strange notion though. Everything Roisin Meaney writes is easy to read and enjoyable, with no gruesome murders, and this was no exception.

Four Stars
****

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#ReadingforGold – Final Update

Yesterday was day 10 of my reading decathlon. So what happened? Did I manage to read 10 books in 10 days?

Well, yes. But extremely reluctantly.

On Day 9, when I wrote that blog post, I hadn’t read a book for the day yet. I hadn’t even picked one, actually. So I had two books to choose and read in two days.

I decided on a Morgan Matson, because it looked relatively short and light to read, and I was a bit burned out on reading.

Book 9 – Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson

18189606So this was a pretty standard ‘summer gone wrong’ story of a girl who had intended on spending the summer with her best friend, but plans changed and she was suddenly left alone. It was compounded by a list from that best friend with 13 things she needed to do over the summer (which, for some reason, she thinks will make her missing best friend reappear, but that’s wishful thinking, I guess).

Over the course of completing the list, Emily, the main character, makes a bunch of new friends and ends up having a pretty nice summer, one where she comes out of her shell and becomes a real person, not just Sloane’s sidekick. It was a pretty nice summer romance novel, with a decent side of finding yourself.

I had two issues with the book. One was that Emily just forgives Sloane for being a total loolah and completely ghosting on her. Perhaps that’s because I’m a bitter and unforgiving person, but I don’t know. The other issue I had is that Emily never sorts things out with one of her new friends. And it’s just left that there’s a big issue between them. Which I found kind of frustrating. I like resolution of issues.

But other than those two minor things, this was a pretty fun, enjoyable read. It reminded me a lot of Sarah Dessen’s books, and I like those a lot, so I was predisposed to like this. I’ve also read The Unexpected Everything, so I’ll be looking out for Second Chance Summer some time in the future. Matson is pretty easy to read.

Three Stars
***

Book 10 (the last book!) The Lost Child – Caryl Phillips

26886257Not only was this book the final book in my Reading Decathlon, but it also fulfils one of the criteria for the Modern Mrs Darcy challenge. My friend Dave gave me this book for Christmas, so I’m using it to tick off ‘a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF’.

Now, admittedly, my sister picks out roughly half of the books I read, so she was entirely confused as to why I hadn’t already ticked that category off, but I had earmarked this book for this category.

So I was excited for this book. It was fulfilling all my dreams. I had high hopes for it.

I HATED this book. I didn’t understand it at all. I mean, really, seriously, I have no idea what happened in this book. The blurb says that it’s two deftly interwoven stories, but I thought there were three stories in it, and I didn’t understand how they interacted at all.

I can’t really review this book, because I didn’t understand it. It says that it’s a story of the childhood of Heathcliff, from Wuthering Heights. Now, I’ve never read Wuthering Heights (shameful confession) so I guess I was already at a disadvantage there, but I don’t think it should have been that much of an issue. And even still, that story is only a tiny proportion of the book. But still. Rather than a review, here is a series of questions which I have about the book, which I don’t think will ever be answered.

  • What was the deal with the mother in the first chapter? Enumerate all her suffering and her awful life only to have her die, like, immediately. That’s depressing as hell.
  • Why were the dates of the different stories not clear? Presumably, if the first section was about Heathcliff as a child, this was the late 1700s, but Monica’s story takes places in the 1950s+ – why are these stories intertwined? I’m so confused.
  • Who was Monica anyways? Why was the story not linear? Why did we see the same things from multiple perspectives?
  • Where was the father of the two children from? Some island. What island? I wish to know these things!
  • What was with the section in the middle about the Bronte sisters? Was Heathcliff a real person? Did their father actually adopt a child out of nowhere? Does this make THREE lost boys? I’m so confused.
  • Was I supposed to care about the death of their horrible, alcoholic brother? Why was everyone so terrible?
  • Why did the blurb say that Tommy went missing on the moors when they lived nowhere near the moors? Weren’t they in Leeds? How come it’s in the blurb when it doesn’t happen until more than halfway through the book? Was he actually kidnapped and murdered? Subtext is hard, y’all?
  • Why was Ben’s story so disjointed? Did he ever reunite with his grandfather? Or was his grandfather just left alone and lonely?
  • What happened the next door neighbour? Why was she only in the one scene? What’s going on there?
  • WHAT happened to Monica? Was she.. I have no idea what happened there. Let’s just leave that mess alone. Was she actually a prostitute? Was she mentally ill? Where was she getting drugs to overdose on?
  • Why did we see Ben’s reaction to his mother’s death like, ages before we actually saw her die? What was going on there?
  • How come we were expected to just forget about baby Heathcliff for like, ever, until he suddenly popped up again at the end? ARE THESE STORIES EVEN RELATED?
  • Oh, I see. The last chapter could be EITHER Tommy or Heathcliff. It’s still weird.
  • I mean, Tommy is presented as a central character of the book but we see almost nothing of him. Ben is much more developed than Tommy. Tommy doesn’t even have a personality. What is going on here?
  • Why is the whole narrative so detached? Honestly, it’s like a history textbook. There’s no emotion in this writing. How could anyone connect to this?

Basically, I finished this book at 23.58 last night and thought ‘W. T. F.’

This was a book which had several incredibly depressing, but seemingly totally unrelated stories, where everyone ends up miserable and dies. That’s it. Everyone is miserable and alone for no apparent reason and there wasn’t even a sweeping love story like Heathcliff and Catherine to justify it. I hated this book, hated everything in it, hated the author, and hated reading it. The only reason I slogged through was because by the time I realised how terrible it was, I didn’t have time to read another book before my ten days were up. I would never, ever, ever recommend this to anyone, unless they really, really loved Wuthering Heights. Which is probably why Dave liked it but Oh My God, this book was a WASTE of a day in my life.
I think this is the only time in this entire blog history that I’ve awarded a book:

One Star
*

 

Now that the reading decathlon is done and I’ve read ten books in ten days, I’m gonna take it easy, and reread some old books that I know I love. I’m gonna finish reading the Old Kingdom trilogy, in preparation for the publication of Goldenhand, and I’ll continue with my Redwall reread (I actually only have two more books that I’ve read, and then it’s into new territory!) But I’ll take it a bit slower. A book a day is a bit more pressured than I like.

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#ReadingforGold – Day 9

Although by Friday night I was seriously worried about the progress of my reading decathlon, since I was enmeshed in the Erilean epic and it didn’t look like I was going to manage it, somehow over the weekend I did pull it back. So today, Monday, is day 9, and I’ve read 8 complete books. I haven’t yet chosen books for today or tomorrow, but I’m feeling confident I’ll manage to get them both in, provided I don’t pick any more monsters and decide that reading 700 pages in 24 hours is a reasonable objective. It’s just not!

295590521So book 6 was Empire of Storms – Sarah J Maas

Which, as I said last time, I did quite enjoy. I’m on board with Throne of Glass as a series, and am now annoyed at myself that I’m going to have to wait an entire year for the sixth installment. We don’t even have a title yet. Or cover art! And it ended on such a cliffhanger!

I mentioned in the last post that the switching perspectives were a bit annoying for me. That didn’t let up throughout the rest of the book. I get that the books have evolved from a relatively tight three-person story (Celaena, Dorian, Chaol) in the first book to a much more developed and nuanced cast in the later ones, with Aelin, Dorian, Rowan, Manon, Elide, Lorcan, Aedion, and Lysandra all getting their turn in the spotlight, but it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all these characters.

So by the time I finished, I had two more complaints about it.

  1. There is NO Chaol in this book. He’s only briefly mentioned. If you buy the WH Smith edition of EoS, there’s a short story at the end with Chaol and Nesryn, but he’s not in the book proper at all. And okay, I know Chaol was kind a git in Queen of Shadows, but he was left with some pretty big things to deal with, and I was really excited to see that happening, and there was absolutely nothing of that in EoS.
  2. This makes me sound like a prude, and I’m absolutely not, but this book has two really extended sex scenes in it which felt excessive to me. I’m not saying I don’t approve of sex scenes. I have no problem with them at all. But this is the fifth book in the series (sixth if you count The Assassin’s Blade) and it is WAY out of tone with what went before. Previous sex scenes have been gentle allusions to sex and the occasional ribald comment, but these were both three pages of sex. I’m not objecting to the sex, more to the absolute turnaround in how it was depicted. It just didn’t match what had gone before it.

So those three things were my main complaints about Empire of Storms. And none of them were big enough to knock off any more than one star between them, so this is still an excellent entry into the epic that Throne of Glass is becoming. Now I just need to find a fast-forward button so I can get to next September when book 6 comes out.

Four Stars
****

Book Seven: Every Day – David Levithan

17451795This was a reread, although from several years ago (enough that I hadn’t yet marked it up on GoodReads, so pre-2014). The reason I reread it was because I got Another Day for Christmas, and have been meaning to read it for ages, so decided that this week was the day I was finally gonna do it. I ploughed through most of Every Day late on Saturday night, in bed, since I had spent all of Saturday morning finishing EoS. And even though I thought it was good but not great the first time I read it, on rereading I really disliked it, disliked A, and disliked Rhiannon, too.

So the premise of Every Day is that the main character, A, wakes up in a different body, a different person’s life, every day. And usually they try to blend in, to make sure that they don’t mess up anyone’s life, until one day they wake up in the body of Jason, Rhiannon’s boyfriend. And when they see her – boom. Instalove. It’s suddenly enough for A to go against every rule ever made for life and mess up the lives of anyone who gets in the way as they try to forge a relationship with Rhiannon, despite how awkward that would be.

There are some interesting things in this book. A is genderless, feeling at home in whatever body they wake up in on whatever day, so there’s some interesting stuff about that, and some of the relationship is nice – looking at how you get to know someone, how much of it is their personality, and how much is their body, and how those intertwine.

There’s a secondary story going on as well, about one of the bodies A possesses, who freaks out and starts trying to figure out what’s going on, deciding that it must have been demonic possession. Strangely, A’s narrative presents this as a totally ridiculous conclusion to jump to, even though if you think about it, what A does is pretty damn close. A takes over the body and life of a person for a day, and can do anything, even things which would be totally out of character for the person possessed. And, actually, what A does to Nathan would be pretty scary if it happened to anyone, so I’m pretty sure I’d want answers too, but Nathan is presented as slightly unhinged for wanting to find out.

The third thread of the story is A doing a whistle-stop tour of every issue for teens that Levithan could come up with. Or at least it seems that way. A spends a day suicidal, a day as an illegal immigrant, a day with a drug addiction, a day homeschooled, a day recently bereaved, a day being super hot, a day being a total bitch, a day being trans, a day being a gay guy, a day being a lesbian, a day being, well, anything you could think of. This in part grated on me as well, because it felt like Levithan was checking things off a list instead of actually writing anything meaningful about any of these situations.

A felt quite judgemental of Rhiannon, to me. There are a few remarks about how Rhiannon’s reaction to A is different depending on what bodies she sees – she’s much less affectionate when A is a girl, for example, and A isn’t happy about this. But Rhiannon is never presented as anything other than straight, so this is totally understandable, to me.

I also really, really disliked the ending of the book. It ended just when it felt like it was getting interesting. A discovers that he’s not the only one out there like this, but instead of finding out more, A runs away. I was raging at this. I wanted to know about the others. How do you find others? How does this work? A is told that it’s possible to stay for more than one day, break the rules, and I was so excited to find out more about this, but nope. Book ends.

And the last thing A does before doing this is try to set Rhiannon up with the guy whose body A was borrowing last. There are so many things wrong with this scenario I can’t even begin to enumerate them. I was really, really disappointed in the ending of this book.

Two Stars
**

Book Eight was Another Day – David Levithan

25478293Another Day is the same story as Every Day, but told from the opposite perspective. Rhiannon, the object of the instalove in this story, has the chance to shine, the chance to get inside her head.

I always do this, and I never learn, but retellings of the same story should not, in my opinion, be read one after the other. Last year I read The Twilight Saga, Life and Death, and Midnight Sun in quick succession, which was a really dumb idea, because I was basically able to recite the entire story of Twilight by the time I got to Midnight Sun, and got no enjoyment out of it at all. You would have thought that this would have taught me not to read alternate perspective books one after the other, but no. I went straight from Every Day to Another Day, and was instantly bored.

All the issues I had with Every Day were present in Another Day (albeit less so with the whistle-stop tour). There’s no explanation for the instalove, and having been inside Rhiannon’s head, she’s just not interesting enough to justify A’s breaking of all the rules.

Rhiannon is stuck in an awful relationship with a really rubbish boyfriend, and this book tells us a lot more about how miserable she is and their relationship is, but doesn’t flesh out, well, anything. Derek has issues at home, but we’re not really told what those issues are. Rhiannon’s mother has issues, but they’re only vaguely alluded to, even though we’re actually in her head.

I thought Another Day might be an interesting look at what could’ve been a really interesting story from another perspective, but instead what I got what the same story that I really disliked the first time, only with added boring-ness as Rhiannon, really, is a terribly boring person. She also doesn’t really think about her boyfriend as she embarks on a relationship with A. And, okay, her relationship is rubbish anyway, but the way it’s presented, she wants to protect and preserve it, but really doesn’t do anything like that when A is around.

And also, she berates herself for not being attracted to girl bodies, because A is inside them. Hey, you can’t actually control that stuff.

The ending of Another Day was better than the ending of Every Day, because Rhiannon doesn’t just accept that A can set her up in a new relationship but it also read like a setup for a follow-on novel. And, having checked GoodReads, there is a third book on there, although the release date is still unknown. That’s not something I’ll be eagerly awaiting.

Two Stars
**

Two days left in this reading decathlon, and I’m pretty confident I’ll manage it. I still need to actually choose two more books to read for days 9 and 10, but I have lots of free time, so I can be confident enough in my success.

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#ReadingforGold – Day 6

Two days after my last post, my reading decathlon has hit a major issue.

When I last posted, I was on day four, and doing well. I was mid-way through the fourth book in the fourth day, so I was bang on target.

I managed that one, and finished The Taggerung late that night. It was fortunate that I didn’t have to get up early the next morning, as I wouldn’t have managed it, having stayed up until almost three in the morning to finish the Jacques Redwall adventure.
The next day, day five, I had an unexpected delivery. Despite the original order saying that it wouldn’t be delivered until the 12th, Empire of Storms arrived on my doorstep on the 8th September.

queen-of-shadows-ukThis was something of an issue, as I had yet to actually manage to even start Queen of Shadows, the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series.

However, I’m never one to shy away from a challenge, so I got stuck in to the fourth in the series, delving into the reread and reminding myself of Aelin Galathynius’s position as ‘fire-breathing bitch queen of Terrasen’. I still think that Lysandra’s incredibly talented jeweller is the unsung hero of this book, and that nothing would have been possible without his skill. But I don’t know how many people would really agree with my assessment of that book.

Nonetheless, on rereading, it had lost none of its appeal, and although it was another 3am job, I finished Queen of Shadows late in the night/early in the morning of day 5 of the Decathlon, and wandered off to the land of nod, prepared for Empire of Storms in the morning.

Four Stars
****

So day 6 dawned, and although I didn’t have very much to do in terms of work (or indeed 295590521in terms of socialising), book 6 presented more of a challenge than I had thought.

You see, Empire of Storms isn’t just a chunky book. No. It’s something of a behemoth. At more than 650 pages of story (in fact, closer to 700), I’ve set myself something of an impossible challenge in including this in my reading decathlon. It might be the choice on which my attempt fails, since even midway through the day, having read incessantly, I was still only halfway through the story.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the book, don’t get me wrong. Aelin’s adventures as she assembles her court, meets old friends and rivals, and attempts to reclaim her throne in Terrasen are utterly enthralling. I’m loving the intertwining stories of Manon Blackbeak, Elide Lochan and Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, and really appreciating the strong,  varied female leads who are telling the story of the immense battle against the dark lord Erawan.

I will say, though, that the shifting narrative perspectives are a major pain in the arse as I try to figure out whose head we’re in with almost every rutting paragraph. Let’s maybe make book 6 a little clearer by sticking to chapter-by-chapter narratives, with the character name at the beginning each chapter, hmmm?

But. This book might, in fact, be too big for me to read in one day. So if it spills over into day seven (which is, thankfully, a weekend day), I might then have to play catchup for the rest of the days in order to manage this reading decathlon. But defeat is something I will refuse to admit, so as far as I’m concerned, on day six, I’ve managed five and a half books, so I’m not *that* far off my target. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll still manage to stumble over the finish line with ten books in ten days, but the behemoth that is Empire of Storms might not have been the wisest choice to make for this particular challenge.

Whoops.

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#ReadingforGold – Day 4

readingdecathlon_epicreadsEpic Reads, which is the social media presence/YA imprint of HarperCollins publisher, put up a blog post in the middle of August about their reading decathlon challenge. They suggested, to round out the summer, reading ten books in ten days.
Now admittedly, since it’s now mid-September and everyone has gone back to school, it’s definitely not summer any more, but I only found their reading decathlon post a few days ago.

In any case, I have lots of free time on my hands at the moment, since I’m finishing up my PhD (my corrections, thankfully, were accepted without any more changes, so all I have to do is print and submit my thesis) and editing the next issue of the UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, but I don’t have any other pressing claims on my time, so I definitely think that I’ll be able to manage this challenge. I decided to start it on Sunday, because for some reason my calendar starts weeks on Sundays, so that it was easy to keep track of.

That makes today, Wednesday, day 4 of the decathlon, and I am well on track. Three days in, I’ve read three and a half books, and I think I’ll finish the fourth today. The only problem I have is choosing which books to read in my decathlon reading marathon!

Day 1 – Moth Girls – Anne Cassidy27766357

I picked this book up for a steal at YALC – it was only £1! It sat in the middle of the pile of YALC books which sits on the landing outside my bedroom, because I couldn’t fit it in my room, for a whole month before I finally picked it up. I fairly raced through this, and read it in only a day, caught up in the story of two missing girls and wondering what happened to them on that fateful night. The intertwining of their story with Mandy, the girl left behind, was interesting, too.

While I was reading this book, I thought that it reminded me a lot of another missing girl book that I read ages and ages ago (so long ago that I sometimes don’t remember that I read it) called Looking for JJ. Imagine my shock, then, when I got to the ‘about the author’ bit at the end of the book and realised that it had been written by the same person. No wonder I thought they felt similar!

While Moth Girls was mostly interesting and kept me intrigued, I felt like the last section was padding, and didn’t enjoy it much at all. It left the end of the book slightly limp, and I felt that it would have been more effective if that section had been moved somewhere else.

Three Stars
***

dsb_final_6_1Day 2 – Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

This book has been on my radar for a very long time. The beautiful covers regularly pop up in my twitter feed, begging me to read them, and the subject matter (angels and demons and war!) is definitely on a par with lots of other things I’ve read. So when I asked a librarian last week what I should read next, and this was recommended, I decided to take the plunge and read it.

There was lots of really interesting imagery in this book, and I loved that it was set in Prague, which sounds like a really beautiful city. Plus the magic/wish idea was intriguing, and I liked the idea of the war between chimaera and angels. But what I didn’t like was the insta-love between the two main characters (before they even really spoke!), even if it had a somewhat flimsy explanation between it. So I was kind of torn on this one. Some good things and some bad, but I liked it enough that I’ll read the sequels eventually.

Three stars
***

Day 2/3 – Heir of Fire – Sarah J Maas20617636

This book is a re-read, in preparation for Empire of Storms, which was published yesterday. I have already re-read Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and The Assassin’s Blade, so I’m well on my way. Empire of Storms, although I pre-ordered it, won’t be delivered until next week some time, which is a bit of a bummer, but at least it gives me time to catch up on the re-read before it arrives.

Heir of Fire suffers pretty badly from middle-book syndrome. It’s all about training montages, and plotting things. Nothing really happens in this book (I felt) in and of itself, more that everything is just ramping up the tension for the events still to come (lots of which are in Queen of Shadows). While I really enjoy this series, and am excited for Empire of Storms, Heir of Fire is definitely my least favourite so far, as it feels much like The Two Towers (Gandalf and generic hobbit go horse-riding. What else even happens in this book) or the first Harry Potter 7 film (The Golden Trio go camping. A lot). One to be kind of trudged through before getting to the excitement of Queen of Shadows (and hopefully Empire of Storms will be super too!)

Also, I really disagree with the cover art of this book. What on earth is she doing with that longbow? Where is her anchor point? She’s also gonna slice off her nose any minute now. And why on earth is she letting her hair get in the way like that?? Plus there’s absolutely zero instances of her doing any archery in the entire book. These are my complaints.

Three stars
***

TaggerungUKDay 3/4 – The Taggerung – Brian Jacques

Continuing my Redwall Re-Read as well, I’m on to the 14th book in the series (both chronologically and publication order-ly), The Taggerung. I’m only about a fifth of the way into this story of the insanely physically gifted otter Deyna, the Taggerung, but it’s already jam-packed full of the riddles, stories, feasts, poems, and epic quests that characterise Redwall books as a whole. I should have it finished by tonight. And I’ll still like it a lot. Plus, look at that awesome cover art. Look how fearsome that otter looks!

Because I’ve read this before, I already know that I’ve rated it, too. It was a Four-Star Read. ****

I’m almost halfway through this reading decathlon, and bang on target. Provided nothing terrible pops up in the next few days, I should definitely be able to finish on time, and it’s nice to have something to think about to direct my reading. I just need to make sure that I have the next books picked out and lined up so I don’t spend precious reading time trying to make decisions!

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The Accident Season – Moïra Fowley-Doyle

23346358Claire Hennessy, who wrote Nothing Tastes As Good, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, also founded a book club in Dublin. Called The Grown-Ups Read YA club, it’s basically exactly what it says on the tin. I’m not based in Dublin, so sadly I can’t get to the regular meetups, but I am a member of the facebook group, and like to read the books along with them sometimes, and definitely get involved in some of the facebook discussions. This book was their June book of the month, although it took me until July to read it, and it’s a really eerily written magical realism which is unsettlingly beautiful at times.

The Accident Season – Moïra Fowley-Doyle

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

There was a lot I really liked about this book. I love books set in Ireland, written by Irish authors, I love YA, I love magic and magical realism, and I really enjoyed the eerie, unsettling feeling of this book as a whole. The imagery in the book was beautiful, the whole story centred around a mystery and quite frankly, the best party ever, and there were little elements of Irish folklore as well that I loved.

The main character, Cara, is caught up in her own head, imagining a world of fairies and mermaids and magic, but also trying to figure out the mystery of the accident season that affects her family every year, as well as find out where Elsie, the mysterious girl from school has vanished to. The whole book basically oozed with eerie, creepy vibes, a vague, unsettling but still beautiful aura that permeated every page of the book. It felt a lot like We Were Liars, in terms of tone.

But here’s the thing. I didn’t really like We Were Liars. And I didn’t really like this, either. While it had a lot going for it in terms of atmosphere, I couldn’t get on board with the central romance of the book – not in any way shape or form. And I also worked out the big reveal (or a few of them) long before Cara herself did. Maybe we were supposed to figure it out faster than she did, but I like to be surprised with the narrator sometimes, and this book was not full of those surprises.

There were also a few instances of really strange vocabulary going on in this book which I found incredibly jarring. For a book which is set in Mayo, it’s not exactly part of the regional lexicon that a character was coming off a freeway. Nor would you refer to any sort of secondary school student as a sophomore. I don’t even know what year that’s supposed to be. Having checked the information in the start of the book, it seems that (despite being set in Ireland), The Accident Season was first published in the US, so those two examples might just have slipped past the editor when it was being adjusted for a UK and Ireland audience, but there’s nothing throws me out of the mood of a book more than a completely out-of-place word like sophomore. That’s a particular foible of mine, I have to admit.

This book had a lot going for it, but while it started off great, it just pulled itself down, for me, over the course of it, and ended up being a very mediocre read.

Three Stars
***

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