Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I learnt two things compiling this week’s list. Firstly, my book buying ban is going really well (for me): to get to the book I bought ten purchases ago I had to go all the way back to 3rd May. Secondly, I’ve been reading books shortly after buying them lately. This is sort of a good thing, but at the same time, there are 30 or so books in my tbr pile that have been gathering dust for six months or longer now, and I feel guilty about them. So, let’s get into the list. I’ll start with the most recent acquisition.
My first ever bookish bingo card went pretty well, I thought! This was the card for April, May and June. It was originally posted on Great Imaginations, but hosting has now moved over to Pretty Deadly. I’ll list the qualifying books I read below. I’ve been pretty terrible at reviews lately, so if you’d like to know what I thought of any of these, or which I would recommend, just leave me a comment. I have many opinions and I like to share them!
Forgotten Friday Pick – Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Aussie Author – Sabriel by Garth Nix
Reread – A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
Classic – Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
Yellow Cover – A Study in Sherlock edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger
April, May, June Release – The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
High Fantasy – Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
Parental Relations – King Lear by William Shakespeare
Bullying – Wonder by R. J. Palacio
WWII – All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Horror – Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Thieves, Assassins, Pirates – Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Parallel Universes – A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Green Cover – Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
#weneeddiversebooks – Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden
Illustrated Cover – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Part of a Trilogy – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Nonfiction or Memoir – The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth
This is the third book in Snyder’s Study Series, so it’s difficult to say much about it without spoilers. Yelena, former poison taster for the emperor, will be refining the skills she learnt in Magic Study (I’m not going to tell you what they were, but the title is kind of a clue), as well as balancing her life between the land she was born in and the land she was brought up in. In the second book my favourite character was largely absent, so although I enjoyed watching what Yelena was getting up to, I’m hoping he’s back for this one, because I missed him and his excellent snark. This was originally a trilogy, but Snyder has recently continued the series, which is awesome, because it means that I can read this as soon as I like and there will still be more.
This is another third book in a series, in this case, The Lunar Chronicles. Cress is a computer programmer working for the villain of the series, Queen Levana, and her story is a retelling of Rapunzel. Based on the previous books, I believe that Cress will be joining Cinder, Scarlet and the love interests they’ve collected along the way, and continuing the fight against the Queen and her supporters. As her story gets more involved, I’m interested to see how Meyer balances the fairytale retelling aspects against the sci-fi. Cinder held more closely to Cinderella than Scarlet did to Little Red Riding Hood, and I can understand why that would happen as Meyer’s story continues and gets more complex.
This is the story of a girl called September is taken by the Green Wind to Fairyland, which we can assume she circumnavigates in a ship of her own making. That’s almost everything I know, because that, alongside the title and cover, was enough to convince me that this book needed to be in my life. I imagine it as whimsical and beautiful, like The Graveyard Book, possibly in part because of the Neil Gaiman blurb on the front. I sort of want to read it right now, this second. Since I’m writing this way in advance, I may well have read it by the time you’re reading this.
Ed lives a totally normal life which appears to be headed nowhere in particular, until the day he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. Shortly afterwards, someone starts sending him on missions to people in need of aid. While he’s pleased to be helpful, he’d also really like to know who he’s working for. I bought this book mostly because I really loved The Book Thief. This sounds like something completely different, but since I mostly fell for Zusak’s writing style, I’m happy to give it a go. The synopsis makes it sound a lot lighter than The Book Thief, so I’m not anticipating getting my heart ripped out this time.
I feel like it’s time to head back and see what Percy Jackson and the other inhabitants of Camp Half-Blood are up to. I haven’t really looked into the plot of this one at all, because I already know that these books are entertaining light reading with satisfying plots and good writing, and that’s all I really need to know to hand over my money.
Everyone has been telling me to read this graphic novel lately. Two people from opposing sides of a war fall in love and have a baby, and chaos and drama ensues. I’ve heard that there’s a space opera kind of feel to this, which sounds like fun, and also that all the characters are well drawn (metaphorically and literally). It sounds sort of Whedonesque, which I can always get behind. I’ve also heard that there’s a lot of adult content, so if this story sounds good to you, use your discretion about whether that’s something you’re comfortable with. I think it’s graphic sexual content, rather than graphic violence, but don’t quote me on that, and look for a second opinion if you need to know. On other hand you might be like me, and count this as another point in it’s favour. Bring on the sexy times!
I don’t often read straight-up historical fiction, but Regan from PeruseProject loves this book, and it recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, so I thought I’d give it a try. It follows a blind French girl in WWII, and a young Nazi with a special assignment to complete. I think it’s probably going to do irreparable damage to my feels, but I can forgive that because the cover is gorgeous.
This is an unusual fantasy book. On the one hand, it’s a meticulously researched historical novel, with footnotes and all, set in England in the early nineteenth century. On the other hand, it’s all about the exploits of a handful of magicians who are not making the slightest attempt to stay undercover, and those footnotes I mentioned refer me to books such as The History and Practice of English Magic, and A Child’s History of the Raven King. Clocking in at over a thousand pages, this is going to take me a while to get through, but it’s got another of those encouraging Neil Gaiman blurbs on the front, and the BBC are about to start airing an adaptation, so I think it will be worth my time.
Katie’s life was going pretty well, until it… Wasn’t. The world seems to be conspiring against her: her relationships and career are going down the drain. Fortunately, a stranger shows up with some (literally) magic mushrooms that can give her a second chance. But now Katie doesn’t want to stop until everything is not just better, but perfect. This sounds like it’s going to be a cute little book with some important undertones about life and responsibility and mistakes and stuff. Also, it’s extremely pretty. It’s not clear above, but the dust jacket is shorter than the book, and the blue sparkly bit at the top is uncovered. I posted a few naked hardback pictures on twitter.
A lot of the reason I got excited about this book is that it’s so pretty. The gold parts are all raised up from the page, and when you look closely at the green background it looks like leather. The insides are pretty special too, though. Forsyth takes the reader through the rhetorical devices used (consciously) by Shakespeare and (subconsciously) by modern pop stars. Every chapter describes a different device, and gives examples of it’s use.
I’ve heard a lot about this book, and I don’t think any of it is bad. It’s a sort of mash up of a dystopian and a treasure hunt. In the future, the outside world is more or less destroyed, and everyone lives their lives in an MMO. When the owner and creator of said MMO dies, he leaves everything to whoever can follow the clues he’s left in-game. The book follows a guy whose whole life is about solving this puzzle before somebody else beats him to it.
This month I’ve been super busy writing my dissertation and working on my (last ever pieces of) coursework, so I didn’t have much time for reading. So naturally, I read 13 books. I don’t understand how that happened at all. Although I’m ten pages behind with the dissertation, so maybe that goes some way to explaining it. When life gets stressful, I retreat into other people’s lives. It’s sort of reassuring how much bigger their problems are than mine. So, let’s get started with this monster wrap-up! Click the covers for Goodreads links.
I wasn’t expecting to read anything before the #ayearathon started on 2nd March, but I picked this up in Sainsbury’s on the first and read it that afternoon. And… hm. I’m not sure what to make of this. I loved The Rosie Project and I was excited for this one, but it was kind of disappointing. On the positive side, it did make me laugh, and I enjoyed the side characters a lot, hence the three stars. On the not-so-positive side, I’m kind of furious with Rosie, and I don’t think that was the author’s intention.
It’s hard to explain why without spoiling the first book, but I’ll see what I can do. Don Tillman probably has Asperger’s Syndrome, although the book never explicitly says so. He struggles to read other people’s emotions, and he figures out which behaviour is socially appropriate by memorising norms. I don’t want to say exactly what Rosie’s relationship with Don is, but they’re close. Now it seems to me that if you’re close to someone who struggles to read people, it’s at best thoughtless and at worst cruel to never ever tell them what you’re feeling and then get upset and offended when they fail to figure out what you wanted from them. Rosie did this for the entire book, as well as deliberately deceiving Don, which was what kick-started the plot. I was supposed to be rooting for them, and by the end I just wasn’t.
On the whole, I highly recommend the first book, but I sort of wish I hadn’t read this one. I preferred my own ideas about what happened next.
4/5 stars 4/5 stars
The are the books I finished during the #ayearathon. I talked about them in my wrap-up of that over here, so I won’t repeat myself. I also started The Silmarillion during that week, but I still haven’t finished it. I’m working on it, slowly.
I LOVE THIS BOOK, I LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT! ACK! If you would like some (slightly) more coherent thoughts on Fangirl, I wrote a long review (with well-marked spoilery section) just here.
4/5 stars 4/5 stars 5/5 stars
I flew through this trilogy and loved it, but when I try to write about it, I find that I have very few coherent thoughts. I just… angels and demons and hot guys and Victorians and a love triangle that broke my heart and so many things designed to mess with my feels. Clockwork Princess in particular gave me quite the book hangover because I just couldn’t drag my head out of the world. I really want to get to The Mortal Instruments soon, but I’m also kind of scared of what it might do to me…
In February I read Cinder and adored it. (I talk about it a bit in this post, if you’d like to get some idea of the premise of this series.) I rated it 5/5 stars and immediately set about convincing everyone I know to read it, like that quote in The Fault in Our Stars about weird evangelical zeal. In comparison, Scarlet was slightly disappointing, but only slightly. It didn’t blow me away in the same way as Cinder did, and I liked Scarlet less as a main character, but I still enjoyed the book a lot. My favourite chapters, predictably, were the ones that continued Cinder’s story, especially because they also included Captain Thorn. Ah, Captain Thorn… I want one all my own. I think he’s going to feature a lot in Cress as well, and I can’t wait. I also have a vague feeling that I’ve picked up from reviews and such that Cress is going to back at the same standard as Cinder. I hope I’m right.
I listened to the audiobook of Yes Please because I had a vague idea that listening to people read their own autobiographies would be a really good use of the audiobook format. I was right. I’m listening to Tina Fey’s Bossypants now. Yes Please is very, very funny, but also honest and thoughtful. Poehler says she has two phrases she uses in response to ideas. For positive ideas, “Yes please”, which is enthusiastic and also polite. For negative ideas, “Good for you, not for me”, which allows you to decline something firmly without causing offense. Seems legit to me.
This is the third book in the Shades of London series, which I fell head over heels in love with about ten pages into the first book, The Name of the Star. Of the three that are out so far, that one is probably my favourite, but I love them all very much. Rory is a great protagonist. She’s clever and easy to empathise with, but she also makes impulsive and sometimes kind of stupid decisions which keep the plot moving along. In this book in particular, if she did what she was told then we’d have missed all the action. Almost everything that happens in this book is heavily based on things you don’t find out until at least half way though The Name of the Star, so I can’t really say anything else except that I loved it, and I can’t believe how long I have to wait for the (probably) epic conclusion. Oh, and I love the title. I don’t know how familiar people who aren’t English are with our political system and I don’t feel inclined to explain what The Shadow Cabinet is when wikipedia could tell you better than me, but.. yeah. It’s clever.
The thing about this book is that I’m not really sure what the point was. I was really excited to read it, because I loved Will Grayson, Will Grayson and I thought this book would let me see more of that world. And it just didn’t really. It didn’t add anything much that wasn’t in the original book. I think I was looking for the wrong thing. I wanted more of the story and I got the same story again, in slightly dodgy rhyme. I wanted to love it, but I ended up feeling like it was only okay. 3/5 stars because I do love these characters a lot, but this felt unnecessary to me.
One Day was definitely my least favourite read this month. What’s the point of a romance book where everyone is consistently miserable (and not even for interesting reasons) for about three-quarters of the book, and then happy for a couple of chapters (but still with a creeping negativity), and then just when you think you’re finally being rewarded for struggling through all the shitty times to get to the good ones, you suddenly hit a clunky plot twist that smacks you around the face, and then everyone’s miserable again until the book ends? I just… no. Not for me. 2 stars instead of 1 because I really liked Emma, although Nicholls didn’t seem to.
Also, this cover makes me angry. I picked this book up from a charity shop for 20p, so I ended up with the film cover. I always post pictures of the version of a book that I own if I can find them, but I wanted to break that rule for this one. This cover is blatantly not as good as the orange one I’ve always seen around before, and just to make that more annoying, there’s a little picture of the good cover in the corner. Why?
I was in kind of a bad mood after those last couple of books, and I wanted to pick up something light that I knew I’d enjoy. I’ve been meaning to start this series since I saw the film of this first book about five years ago, and I finally got around to it. I loved it. It wasn’t deep or meaningful or intense, it was just a lot of fun. Likable kids running around being rude to gods and exploding things? I can get behind that. I expected to find Percy difficult to empathise with, since I’m ten years older than him, but that didn’t turn out to be a problem. He’s definitely still a kid, but he’s a smart kid. I fully intend to stick around and watch him grow up.
And… that’s it. The end of the book haul. If you made it this far, you’re amazing. Have a biscuit. Have ten. You’re American? Have a cookie. Whatever. I love you.