#WeAreHuman Readathon

riveted-logoRiveted Lit, which is a multi-publisher platform for promoting YA literature, is a really fantastic site which was launched a few months ago, which offers discussion and features on YA books, but also free – yes, FREE – extended excerpts and even full books to read once you sign up to the site. I signed up a few weeks ago, but hadn’t actually read any books on it, until last week I saw their latest campaign.

October 11th is National Coming Out Day, so in celebration (and also to promote upcoming debut novel Robot Boy), Riveted and Simon Pulse teamed up and created their #WeAreHuman Readathon.
They selected eight of their favourite books featuring LGBTQ characters, and are asking you to read them. Reading literary fiction has been shown to improve empathy, and also, it’s fun, so really this is a win-win situation.

13598580__sy540_They’re also making a $5,000 donation to the It Gets Better project, to spread a message of hope for LGBTQ youth.

The eight books on the Riveted list are all available on their website to read – for free! – until November 11th. Furthermore, if Riveted get 5,000 total reads by the end of their campaign, they will double their donation to the It Gets Better project!

I’m currently halfway through Afterworlds, which is written by Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series.

I absolutely love the Uglies series, so I had high hopes for this book. Funnily enough, though, I’m not really loving it. Alternating chapters tell the story of teen debut author Darcy and her fictional creation Lizzie, and I’m not really feeling any connection between the two stories. But as I said, I’m only halfway through, so it may well improve.

Regardless of my opinion on this one book, though, the Readathon is clearly a great idea – free books, plus money for LGBTQ charity appears to have literally no downside, so I thought it was totally worth talking about today!

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An Evening With Garth Nix and others*

*OSCOLA says that where there are three or more co-authors, the later authors should be replaced with ‘and others’. I don’t need to use OSCOLA any more, since I’m writing a book blog, but I still like to go with convention.

In case you hadn’t realised, I am a massive, massive Garth Nix fan. I’ve posted about Goldenhand multiple times already, so you’re probably sick of reading about it, but last night, as part of his Goldenhand tour, Garth Nix participated in a panel discussion at Waterstones Piccadilly with a whole bunch of other fantasy authors. I was never NOT going to go. I did, unfortunately, miss the signing at Forbidden Planet, because it started while I was still at work, but I thought this would be the better event anyway.

Although my main draw for this event was definitely Garth Nix, I saw Alwyn Hamilton speak at YALC, and she was really interesting. Laure Eve’s book The Graces had a stand at YALC as well (although the book itself wasn’t available, grrrr) so I’d been looking forward to it coming out since July. Melinda Salisbury, of course, with her Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy, is already hugely popular, and Paul Magrs I had never heard of, but his sci-fi novels set on Mars sound really interesting. So with five great authors, and a front-row seat, I was ready for anything! Chelsea Pippin from Buzzfeed was chairing – although admittedly for a little while without an actual chair.

Perhaps it was because I was in the front row, so it felt like I was sitting with friends as they discussed world-building, how to come up with ideas, the methods of writing a book (answer… it depends) and daddy issues.

Every time I hear Garth Nix speak I’m really impressed, not least because of his amazing Australian accent, but also because he’s such a wealth of knowledge and information. Having been a publisher, an editor, an agent, and also an author, it sometimes seems like there’s no part of the publishing world that he doesn’t know about.

But I was also really impressed with how the others spoke, too. It was light-hearted yet informative, and a fun way to see into the minds and the creative processes of five very different but very talented authors. From the idyllic childhoods of some to the isolated and introverted worlds of others, they clearly came from different backgrounds, but all have that compellingly rich inner life that helps them to create fantastic worlds like The Old Kingdom, the 1001-nights-inspired Miraji and, uh, Cornwall.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember immediately afterwards what the authors even talked about, but I know that it was fascinating and also very entertaining. There were a lot of laughs as what started off as a panel discussion of fantasy writing became something of a therapy session, and then a plagiarism session, as unattributed quotes suddenly became attributed to Laure Eve.

After the discussion was finished, there was a little shuffling around before all five authors started chatting and signing copies of their books for the massive queue of eager attendees. I now own three different signed editions of Goldenhand (one of which is signed in Golden pen) and I picked up Rebel of the Sands and The Graces, too, and got them signed and personalised, to keep me going.

All in all, one very satisfied blogger left Waterstones last night, feeling like I had really had a very productive and enjoyable evening – not least because I added to my ever-growing collection of Garth Nix and Baby Broni photos!

img_20161020_220818*I should perhaps have turned off the flash before taking this photo. Mr Nix might never see again. =/

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How to Cure a Reading Slump

17927395I’ve found myself in a bit of a book slump in the last while. Perhaps it’s my new job changing the routine of my days, or the fact that I’ve had less time to myself to read, or that I’ve got more going on in my life now than I did a while ago, but I’m not getting through as many books as I would have before. On the tube in the mornings I’m too tired to read, and in the evenings I don’t get a seat, so it’s harder to read then. Plus I’m going to bed earlier and I don’t have the same amount of time to read at night – and then there’s just my mood. Half the time I don’t want to pick up whatever book I’ve got going on. Currently it’s two books – A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J Maas, and The Missing Wife, by Sheila O’Flanagan, but I have to really push myself to actually pick either of them up and get through a few chapters.

So given that I’m struggling through the middle of a book slump, I tried looking up a few ways to cure a book slump. Unfortunately, I haven’t been having much success! There are a few more I’ll have to try next, and see if they help.

Try YA31567282

This one was definitely not the best tip for me to break a reading slump, since I read almost all YA. Not a winner of a tip here. So I moved on to another, which was:

Change Genre

This was a variant on Try YA, since I read almost all YA. That’s what The Missing Wife is. A thriller/women’s fiction book to change things up a bit. Hasn’t worked. I’m just glaring at it in resentment, not wanting to read it.

Compare and contrast

The recommendation here was to watch something and read it as well, to compare. Well I read A Game of Thrones, really slogged through it, and am now watching the TV series (I know, I must be one of the only people on the planet who hasn’t been watching it for years), but I’m not loving it. I didn’t love the book either. Humph.

26699583Find a friend

A few lists suggested that I should let someone else pick what I should read next. Tried that, too. Sally recommended The Call, by Peadar Ó Guilín to me, and although it was okay, I wasn’t gripped by it. It was good, but not great, and I didn’t really feel compelled to pick it up.

Don’t book-hop

Okay, guilty. I read several books at the same time, and sometimes don’t really connect to any of them. I’m trying to focus just on ACOMAF at the moment, and let Sheila O’Flanagan slide, but then I wonder what’s happening in The Missing Wife, and get resentful of both books. I’ll have to try harder at this.

Timetable it in

On the face of it, you would think that this is easy. I travel to work on the train, so it should be simple to fit in reading time, but I’ve found in the last while that I don’t feel like pulling out my kindle when I’m on the tube because I’m busy trying to cram myself into the smallest possible space without getting my toes trodden on. Maybe I need to try scheduling some reading time elsewhere.

So then the ones I haven’t tried that I’ll give a go in the future:

Read a bestseller

The current #1 Bestseller on the NYT list is The Girl on the Train, which I’ve already read, but I’ll pick something up off the bestsellers list soon and see if that catches my fancy. I might even combine it with…

Be the Book

Visiting a bookstore or library featured on lots of lists, as it can help you to find new things that you might not have otherwise picked up, and your enthusiasm might increase when you get to inhale that delicious new book smell. Plus there will be friendly booksellers and librarians who might give recommendations as to what might pull you out of the slump!

Break it down6421982

If reading a full novel is getting to you, maybe try switching it up with some short stories or graphic novels. Something with a smaller goal might help to motivate you a bit more to get out of that slump.

Listen up!

In the interests of switching things up, try listening to an audiobook. Audible offers a free audiobook when you sign up for membership. I’ve never really gotten the appeal of audiobooks, because I feel like I need to be doing something when I’m listening, but maybe it’ll be the thing that helps me get out of this reading pit!

Reread a favourite

When all else fails… go back to the classics. Read the books which never fail to comfort you. The ones you love to love. The ones that made you fall in love with reading. There’s nothing like going back to an old favourite to remind you why you love to read.

And if all else fails…?

Forget about it

So what? You don’t read for a while. It’s not the end of the world. There are plenty of other ways to entertain yourself, and the books will still be there in the future when you feel more like reading again. Don’t beat yourself up about it. These things happen!

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Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

So I posted last week about the Grisha trilogy, and how I liked it, but didn’t love it. I thought it was interesting, and the world was well-drawn, but the main character was kind of… boring and not really interesting enough to support a trilogy on her own.

In Six of Crows, though, Bardugo returns to the Grisha-verse in a new style of mission. A team of six misfits club together to pull off the biggest heist in history – as long as they don’t kill each other first.

I really, really liked this book. I think Bardugo evolved hugely as a writer between the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows, and it really shows. All the characters in Six of Crows are interesting, fully fleshed out, and their interactions are so much more captivating than Mal and Alina’s snoremance in the Grisha trilogy. This is a massive step up from what came before it.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

23437156.jpgKetterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

There were so many things I really liked about this book. Rather than trying to save the entire country, like Alina, this crew are just out to make bank. They’re seedy, their motivations are questionable, they’ve all got their own issues to deal with from the past, and they’re a whole collection of damaged, broken, angry young people. But they’re so compelling. The scale of the book is smaller than the Grisha trilogy in some ways, but in others much bigger, and there’s no definable villain the way there was with the Darkling in the Grisha trilogy. But the murky underworld of Ketterdam and not knowing who to trust – or whether they can even trust each other – just adds to how compelling this story is.

Six of Crows was a five-star read for me until the very last chapters. It ends on a massive cliffhanger, which I hate. It is impossible not to read Crooked Kingdom after this, because the story isn’t resolved at all. As I was coming to the end of the book I knew that there was more still to come (mostly because I knew Crooked Kingdom had been published, but also because none of the larger character arcs had been resolved), but Six of Crows ended with an event which I really disagreed with. It was a cheap trick to force people to read the next in the series.

On its own, Six of Crows was definitely good enough that I would read Crooked Kingdom without being manipulated into it by a massive cliffhanger which sets up the events of the next book. It’s the kind of thing that could easily have been left for the first chapter of the next book, with Six of Crows having a proper conclusion, but I just really don’t like the way it was done.

Once I’ve read Crooked Kingdom – and it’s next on my list, I can’t wait to see what happens – I might be more satisfied with the duology together, but if I had read Six of Crows when it was published, and had to wait an entire year to find out what happened next, I would have been absolutely sickened.

For that reason, and that reason only, Six of Crows lost a star for me, which is a pity, as it really was excellent.

Four Stars


PS – If you pay any attention to my posting schedule, you may have noticed that I usually post between 1-2 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Last Friday I didn’t post. This is because I post on my lunch break from work, and last Friday I was at a book launch by the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins. It was awesome, but since it was during lunch, I didn’t get a chance to write a post. There’s your explanation, if you were wondering.

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The Book Parcel Solution

So after I wrote and published Monday’s blog post, I realised that I had totally left it hanging about what was in the golden package that was in my house last week and I was chatting about last Friday.

After writing the blog post, I also tweeted about it, because I really was itching to see what was inside the parcel, and I was intensely frustrated that I wasn’t going to be home for several hours.

Hot Key replied with a mysterious tweet that seemed to indicate this might, in fact be something related to what I thought it was in the first place – that is to say, Goldenhand, my absolute favourite book this year.

So when I got home, I was absolutely over the moon delighted to see that, in fact, I was lucky enough to win a special super-limited signed edition of Goldenhand, and that was what was in that beautiful golden package that was waiting for me last week.

Garth Nix and Hot Key Books had been tweeting about these golden editions for months, and although I was filled with longing for one, I never thought that I’d be lucky enough to get my hands on one of them.

So when I opened up that package last week, to see a super-limited edition (only 110!) of my favourite author’s newest book, I was pretty dang excited.

Some might say that having three copies of the same book is excessive, but would really disagree. I’m not even sure it’s quite enough. And only two of them are signed (so far!) so really, my Goldenhand adventure is only just beginning.

I’m also super delighted that my copy of this super-proof is #13 (my lucky number!). A lucky coincidence, one might say. Or unlucky, I guess, since it’s 13.

So now I just need to look forward to next week, when Garth Nix and other authors (Laure Eve, Alwyn Hamilton, Melinda Salisbury and Paul Magrs) are speaking at Waterstones Piccadilly, and I will be in my element!

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A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas

prythianAlthough I had a huge interest in Greek and Roman mythology when I was growing up, consuming and devouring any kind of stories that I could get my hands on, and I enjoyed a few Norse legends and folk tales too, when I could get my hands on them, I actually know very little about Irish folk tales. There are, of course, the usual stories that every Irish child learns about – Fionn MacCumhaill, Cú Chulainn, The Children of Lir, Diarmiud and Gráinne, The Táin Bó Cúaingle – but if I were actually pressed about the deities of ancient Ireland, I would be hard pressed to come up with any solid information. The majority of my information about Irish and Scottish fairies is derived from books which give different interpretations of them – like the Wicked Lovely series, which I read entirely based on the fact that the main character had my name, or Holly Black’s Tithe, or even Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. All of those books feature the division of fairies into different Courts, as tall, beautiful, otherworldly beings with pointed ears and an inability to lie (at least, a perceived one), as well as an aversion to iron.

So when I began to read A Court of Thorns and Roses, I thought I knew what I was in for – more Fae, much like in the Throne of Glass series, which Maas also wrote – and a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which I thought would be interesting.

I think I had set my expectations too low, though. I didn’t really rate the Wicked Lovely series, I didn’t even finish the Tithe series, and The Mortal Instruments are good but not great. It seemed to me that fairies weren’t exactly an area in which I would really love the books I was reading. A Court of Thorns and Roses really turned that around for me. It was really very good.

77493_originalWhen nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that the world in which it is set is essentially the UK and Ireland. Although I had seen the map at the front of the book, it didn’t register with me where on the map the story took place until the word ‘Hybernian’ was used, and something clicked in my mind. Feyre was then obviously on Great Britain, and Hybern, the neighbouring land, was the Ireland-shaped mass off to the side. I could have, of course, deduced this from reading the names of the countries on the map. And there’s even a little arrow which points to where Feyre’s village is. But I was reading on my kindle, and the map is small. And I’m dumb.

I really thoroughly enjoyed ACOTAR. Feyre (although it infuriated me that her name isn’t pronounced how I thought it would be, since it’s Fay-ruh, not Fair) was a great main character, who was curious and impulsive and not perfect, but tried really hard. She had immense loyalty towards her family, even when they were horrendous to her, and her sense of duty and obligation is her driving force in life. Tamlin, her romantic interest, was less interesting – mostly just a stock gorgeous man character, he paled in comparison to Rhysand, who I found entirely fascinating. Dark, brooding, the Lord of Shadows, I am so on board with this character, I can’t wait to see more of him in A Court of Mist and Fury.

What I really enjoyed about ACOTAR wasn’t just the characters, but also the slippery, bargain-making, promise-bound honour of the High Fae and their obligations to each other. Their loyalties and alliances and behaviour was really compelling to try to understand.

ACOTAR is much more mature than the Throne of Glass series. I would really class it as NA, rather than YA, although it was similar in tone to Empire of Storms at times. It was at times dark and brooding and ominous, at times horrendous, and at times a sweeping romance. It really is very good.

I’m looking forward to reading A Court of Mist and Fury, the sequel, when I get the chance, and will definitely be looking out for other stuff from Sarah J Maas in the future.

Four Stars

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The Book Parcel Mystery

CpA3Jj3VYAEu26gSo this week is publication week for Goldenhand which, if you haven’t realised that I’m super excited about it, I really don’t know what you’ve been reading. I’ve been very clear that I love Garth Nix, I love the Old Kingdom, and I loved Goldenhand.

I preordered the hardback on Amazon, and was expecting it to arrive this week, since publication day was the 4th, which was Tuesday.

On Monday, when I got home, there was a missed parcel slip from the Post Office. I assumed that this was Goldenhand, and it had just arrived a day early, so didn’t worry too much about it. My mum very kindly said that she’d pick it up from the sorting office for me when she got a chance, so I went on my merry way to work, excited to think about this Goldenhand parcel waiting for me when I get home.

A few days passed, and yesterday when I was at home, there was an Amazon package waiting for me. I opened it up and it was, indeed, Goldenhand, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The spot laminated Charter Marks on the cover catch the light and the Free Magic mark on the cover positively jumps out at you. I haven’t yet put all my Old Kingdom books together (partially because my copy of Sabriel is in Ireland with my sister) but it’s gonna look great, I can just feel it.

img-20161007-wa0001But here’s the funny thing. When I thanked my mum for picking up my parcel, she hadn’t done it yet. What I had assumed the parcel was (Goldenhand) was not, in fact, what was waiting for me.

I’m now at work, it’s lunchtime on a Friday, and my mum has since collected my parcel. It’s from Bonnier publishers (the company who published Goldenhand) and it’s wrapped in a gold envelope, but I have no idea what it is, and I’m positively seething with curiosity. It’s something book-related, I know it is, but WHAT IS IT?


Guesses welcome in the comments!!


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A Game of Thrones – George RR Martin

I don’t know how long ago it was that I actually bought this book. It wasn’t even for me – I gave it to my sister for her birthday, but she really enjoyed it, and then caught up on the rest of the series. It’s one of very few book series that she’s read that I haven’t. I have a tendency to read everything she owns, so it’s rare that she’d have such a massive series (and one with so many theories! So many plot intrigues!) that I had never even touched. For years it was on my to-do list, but the idea of starting A Song of Ice and Fire was somewhat intimidating. Not because they were chunky books – I have no issues with chunky books, after all – but because I was afraid I might not like them as much as Sinéad did. Or they might be deathly boring, and I hate to leave things unfinished, and undertaking the entire series is quite a feat. And then there was my biggest fear – that GRRM will die before he finishes the series and we’ll forever be left wondering how it would have ended.

For all of these reasons A Game of Thrones was a book which intimidated me, so I put it off for a long time. I know that I gave it to Sinéad for a birthday, but I don’t know which – her nineteenth, possibly, so it was probably four years ago. Either way, it was a while ago, and A Song of Ice and Fire has been looming at the top of my TBR for that entire time, but I kept putting it off.

The only thing which made me decide to read it now is that I needed to fulfil one of the criteria for my Modern Mrs Darcy challenge. So that’s what this is. A book which intimidates me.

In other news, the version of this that I bought for my sister was the television tie-in cover, a fact which has irritated her for years. It means that she doesn’t have a matched set, and I can totally understand and agree with her frustration over that fact.

But I don’t actually know what the usual UK cover for this book is. The default on GoodReads isn’t one that I recognise (the orange one), obviously it’s not meant to be the tv cover (with Sean Bean), and both the blue sword and the gold dragon head (??) look familiar to me. I’m confused by this. Someone please help me out. I think it’s the sand-c0loured cover that’s part of the real set?


From a master of contemporary fantasy comes the first novel of a landmark series unlike any you’ve ever read before. With A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin has launched a genuine masterpiece, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill the pages of this magnificent saga, the first volume in an epic series sure to delight fantasy fans everywhere.

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Unparalleled in scope and execution, A Game of Thrones is one of those rare reading experiences that catch you up from the opening pages, won’t let you go until the end, and leave you yearning for more.

So the blurb for this book is really warm and full of praise for Martin and his sweeping epic tale of kings and knights, Lords and Ladies, and seasons that last for years. It was also, I think, the most-rated book on my GoodReads, almost all of which were extremely high. It all came together for me to have very high expectations of this book.

They weren’t really fulfilled. A Game of Thrones was alright. It was even pretty good. It just wasn’t the amazingness that I had built it up to be in my head.

Eight separate perspective characters made for a lot of chopping and changing between stories, and with a cast as huge as there is in this book, it took me a very long time to get my head around who was who. Lots of the characters I downright just didn’t like (Sansa, ugh) and was almost skipping their chapters to get back to the people I did like. Plus, I know that my sister hates Dany, so I was reading her chapters with an almost anticipatory hatred, even though she did nothing to deserve that.

This book was long. And even, dare I say it, somewhat overblown. There was a lot of description in it, and while most of it was enjoyable, sometimes it seemed to be going on for far too long.

I had a lot of issues with the sexualisation of children in this book, the casual sexism, the weird obsession with Dany’s breasts – but not huge ones. Not enough to make me actively dislike the book, I just didn’t love it.

In general, I like fantasy books. I like quests and adventures and darkness and gritty realism, and there were lots of things I did like in A Game of Thrones. I’m not sure, however, that this will rocket its way up to become one of my all-time favourites.

I will, however, work my way through the rest of the series. But I’m not in any rush. I’m not slavering for more of ASoIaF, and I think that, really, is the most clear indication of my attitude towards it. It was good, but I just didn’t love it.

Four Stars

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The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo


14061955The Grisha Trilogy is one of those series of books that seems to pop up on my tumblr all the time. The three books are set in a Russian-esque world where the once-great nation of Ravka is torn apart by a swathe of seething, dangerous darkness through the middle of the country, filled with monsters and near-impossible to cross. Alina, an orphan and a refugee, is a mapmaker and unobtrusive, until the day she reveals a power which could save Ravka from the seething darkness of the Shadow Fold.14061957

There are three books in The Grisha Trilogy – Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising – along with several extras, from other characters’ perspectives, and Ravkan folk tales. I’ve read almost all of the extras.

Alina was an interesting main character – in some ways she was very clichéd, as a young girl who suddenly comes into immense power and has to find her way in a new society of which she is suddenly elite – so far, so Trudi Canavan. But she was flawed in a way that lots of the heroines of other YA fantasy books aren’t. She makes a lot of mistakes, all of which make her more human – even if she’s not really human, since she’s Grisha.

13578987Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

20818790But Alina isn’t what’s interesting about these books. No, not at all. She’s not the worst MC I’ve ever read, but there’s nothing truly compelling about her. She has a love story, and a self-actualisation arc, and she’s struggling with doing the right thing. But the far more interesting character in this trilogy is the Darkling – the villain of the piece. At once seductive and terrifying, powerful and still vulnerable, the Darkling is the sort of terrifyingly interesting and appealing character that could stand up with many greats.

Much like Iago is by far the most interesting character in Othello, as he schemes and plots to further his own ends, the Darkling in the Grishaverse is compelling and terrifying as he manipulates those around him (including Alina) to achieve his ends. The only extra from the trilogy that I actually haven’t read is the prequel concerning the Darkling, which is something I’ve been meaning to correct for ages.

17790188The Grishaverse wasn’t a world I fell in love with the way I have done with other series – I wouldn’t rank it as highly as I do the Throne of Glass series, despite specific books in ToG having lower ratings than Grisha books. I’m not entirely sure why that is. There just wasn’t anything truly memorable about the world. It was certainly good, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed all three books and will definitely read the other series set in the Grishaverse – Six of Crows – at some point in the future. But there was something missing from this. I’m not sure what it was, but some spark wasn’t there for me. I did really like the Darkling, but the rest of the cast of characters was pretty forgettable, and I wasn’t caught up in any great emotions at moments of turmoil and trauma.

Still though – The Grisha Trilogy was thoroughly enjoyable, and I will read more from Leigh Bardugo in the future.

Plus I did quite like the Ravkan Fairy Tales which were available in addition to the main stories. If there was a whole book of them, I’d probably be as happy as with any other Grishaverse tales – but then I really do love fairy tales.

13643163Shadow and Bone
Four Stars

Siege and Storm
Four Stars

Ruin and Rising
Four Stars

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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.


  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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