I haven’t written a book review on this blog for a very long time. Very long. A combination of work and life kept getting in the way but when the author of one of my favourite books so far this year came into my place of work a couple of weeks back to sign books WHEN I WASN’T THERE *cries silent tears*, I thought that I would tell her what I thought on here instead and start the blogging back up to boot. So, Jessica, I’m so sorry that I missed you too, and I’m sure my colleagues have told you how much I rave about your book to whoever will listen, but these are my thoughts about your complete gem of a children’s debut. Also, thanks for my lovely signed copy, I’m not feeling smug about it at all (cough).
Hello! I was meant to post this on Sunday but was too busy reading. I am literally a caricature of myself. Anyway, three weeks of The Reading Quest have passed and I’ve only got one to go. If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I have finished my Mage character’s pathway and am now a Knight. There’s only four books for this quest, as I’ve already read the first one as part of the Mage quest (they share the “First Book Of A Series” prompt). I’m already one down, so I’m fairly confident that I’m going to be able to manage to finish up this quest as well. If you want more detail on my provisional TBR for the Knight’s quest, it’s in my previous post – although I’ve already changed one of them. Continue reading “#TheReadingQuest Week 3 Update!”
Hello there. Vair exciting news – I’ve finished the Mage pathway in The Reading Quest! I ended up using We Are Legion: We Are Bob as my “First Book in a Series” option and changing Nevernight to “A Book Set in a Different World” because I think I’ve reached fantasy saturation now and all I want now is to read thrillers/contemporary. So I’ll leave The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin until I fancy reading fantasy again, because I’m very much a mood reader and don’t think I’ll enjoy it as much if I force myself to read it. Anyway, that aside, I have a and a whole new quest to be getting on with until 10 September – I have decided (like Ron Weasley) to be a Knight!
The Knight quest is all about adventure and action. As I’ve already completed one of the prompts for the knight (The First In A Series prompt) I’ve only (only!) got four to read for this quest.
So, below is my progress with the Quest so far…
…and here is my new TBR for the rest of September. I know it’s fairly ambitious, but I’m hoping to complete all four books by 10 September, which is the end date of the quest.
A Book With A Verb In Its Title…
…will be The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz. I’m already halfway through this and loving it. So far with his adult crime novels, Horowitz has done something unique to make it stand out from the crowd. With Magpie Murders, he included an entire, “fake” novel within the main novel that held clues for the main plot. With this one, he has written himself in as a character! I’ll let you know what I think when I’m done!
A Book With A Weapon On The Cover…
…will be Kid Got Shot by Simon Mason. This is the second in a British young adult crime series starring reluctant detective and even more reluctant schoolboy, Garvie Smith. I really enjoyed the first in the series, Running Girl, and am looking forward to seeing where the series goes. I found it really hard to find a book I actually wanted to read with a weapon on the cover. The problem with British crime/thriller novels is that the covers are often quite abstract in design, so that even if most of them contain violence/guns/knives in the plot, it won’t be shown on the cover. As you can see here, there’s a teeny little gun over the title, so that’ll do for me.
A Book With A Red Cover…
… will be Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil (audiobook). This was a stroke of luck, actually, because it’s Audible’s thriller of the year and they’ve changed the audiobook cover so that it’s red. The cover of the regular book is actually black! This has been a bit of a runaway success on Amazon, and is about a woman whose son goes missing. 10 years later, she is beginning to move on – she is married again and newly pregnant. Then, her son, now a teenager, shows up – but he has quite clearly had a terrible time over the intervening years and is completely mute. That’s about all I know, but the audiobook is narrated by Jane Frogatt, who plays the housemaid Anna in Downton Abbey!
A Book That Has A TV/Movie Adaptation
…will be The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. I have had this on my shelf for the LONGEST time and it’s getting a bit embarrassing, really. It has been made into a movie, which I… have not watched, but this is my excuse to get around to the book at long last! I have managed over the years to avoid hearing too much about this book – all I know is that a young boy’s father changes jobs and he has to move, and near his home is a large wire fence. On the other side of this fence, he sees a boy in striped clothing and strikes up a friendship with him. I fully expect to weep buckets.
Finally, there is one last side quest I’d like to complete, and that is the prompt to read a graphic novel. For this, I’m still hoping to read…
…Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
I chose this graphic novel because it won the Hugo Award 2017 in its category. It will be my very first graphic novel! Also, I think the artwork is absolutely stunning. I fully admit that I know nothing about this whatsoever, but I’m very excited to dive in!
So there we are. I have just over a week and this is probably horribly ambitious again, but some of the books are pretty short and I’m already halfway through one.
Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought! How are you doing if you’re joining in with The Reading Quest?
My update for Week 3 will be up on the blog tomorrow, so I’ll catch up then!
Hello there! So it’s officially the halfway point of #TheReadingQuest hosted by Aentee at readatmidnight. The time has absolutely flown and while I haven’t been able to keep up with my ambitions by a long stretch, I’ve had a bit more time to dedicate to it this week and am now quite a bit further on in the quest with a few more completed books under my belt. I’ve also been working on some of the side challenges at the same time, which has slowed down my main quest a little but has been thoroughly worth it. Continue reading “#TheReadingQuest Week 2 Update!”
So I’ve been doing #TheReadingQuest challenge for exactly one week now and thought it was high time for a little update on how I’m doing! It has been an incredibly busy week and I’ve been out of the house almost constantly, so I’m pretty surprised that I’ve actually managed to do any reading at all (although I’m definitely hoping to go at a much quicker pace in the weeks to come).
Only one complete book so far, I’m afraid to say, this being Gilded Cage by Vic James. This was my choice for the “A Book That Contains Magic” reading prompt. This book has earned me 10 EXP and, at 405 pages, 40 HP.
Books in Progress
I am very nearly finished with The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (audiobook) – I have 1 hour 20 minutes left to go. This is my choice for the “A Book Based on Mythology” prompt. Because I’ve listened to 10 hours and 11 minutes, this has so far earned me 30 HP.
I am 138 pages into Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, which is what I’ve now chosen for the “A Book With a One Word Title” quest (let’s face it, I was never going to get around to It, was I?). I’ve earned 13 HP with this title so far.
I’ve also shared two “relevant social media” posts, so I’ve netted 2 HP for that.
So? What Did I Think?
Gilded Cage by Vic James
This was definitely a big (and very pleasant) surprise. If I had bothered to read the description on the back again before starting (I last looked at it four or five months ago when I actually bought the book), maybe I wouldn’t have been so surprised, but I feel like the cover gives you the impression of a rather gentle story involving posh Victorians doing magic (I felt like it had a kind of Night Circus vibe – see what I mean below). Anyway, couldn’t be further from what it actually was.
This is, in fact, a dystopian novel set in a modern Britain with a twist. Yes, there is a magical aristocracy, but there is nothing gentle about them. In this Britain, those gifted with Skill have risen up to be Britain’s ruling class. They are proud, entitled and extremely cruel. Ordinary people, or “Commoners”, are forced by law into 10 years of servitude, to be carried out at the time of their choosing. To avoid being sent to one of the country’s brutal slave towns, the Hadley family apply to do their “slavedays” on the estate of the powerful Jardine family. But when Luke Hadley is wrenched from the rest of his family and sent to Millmoor, a brutal slave town in Manchester, he is swept up in the resistance movement. Meanwhile, the rest of the Hadleys are caught in the thick of the politicking and scheming of the Skilled upper classes. Caught on different sides of the struggle, all of the characters must make choices and live with the consequences.
Apart from what I felt was a bit too much “worldsplaining” at the beginning (just having paragraphs explaining the history of the world and how everything worked, rather than taking the reader along for the ride and letting them work it all out for themselves), this was a really intriguing, enjoyable read. It was so distinctly British, which was like a breath of fresh air in the largely American-dominated fantasy/dystopia market; I felt like I identified with the places and the characters a lot more as a result. While the premise wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, the world was rich in detail and the plot was full of twists and turns. It was one of those reads that gathers pace as the plot progresses because you’re becoming more invested in the characters and their stories begin to intertwine.
While at the beginning I felt that this could be a crossover between teen and adult because of the age of the protagonists (Luke Hadley is 16 at the start of the novel and his sister Abi is 18), it quickly became significantly darker, with a fair amount of violence and some pretty unflinching descriptions of the cruelties of slavery. While I wouldn’t rule it out for teen readers, it is darker than the cover would suggest. The next one in the series comes out in early 2018 and there were certainly some ends that were very deliberately and cleverly left dangling after the rather explosive and shocking finale. I can’t wait to find out what happens next. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fast-paced, exciting dystopian read.
Star Rating: 4/5
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I’ve heard quite a few bloggers and Booktubers talking about this book over the past couple of years, but I never had any plans to pick it up until I was searching for a book based on mythology. I’m really glad I did. This is a unique, beautifully written book with a wonderfully complex central relationship and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying every minute.
Set against a backdrop of rich Greek mythology, where gods, demigods and ordinary men all walk the earth together, a young prince named Patroclus is exiled to a far away kingdom after he is accidentally responsible for the death of another boy. There, he meets Achilles, the demigod son of King Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis. The two boys become fast friends despite the differences between them. As they grow up, their relationship blossoms and grows into something deeper and more intimate. But the two men are soon to be tested by the gravest of circumstances – the Trojan War approaches and Achilles cannot ignore the summons, despite the prophecy that haunts him: if he goes to war, he will not return alive.
This is a stunning story of love, loss and war. Patroclus’ narrative spans decades and the burgeoning love of the two boys is at once beautiful and devastating. This novel is so rich, from the depth of the history and mythology it contains, to the strength of its relationships, to the stark depictions of warfare and its ability to change people, for better or for worse. I can’t wait to finish this story even though I already have a fair idea that I’ll be sitting bawling my eyes out in the final minutes.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The unique aspect of this book is its narrative style – it’s basically supposed to be a dossier of classified documents, compiled after the events of the book have unfolded, which tell the true and unvarnished facts. It’s a mix of interviews, instant messages, confidential reports, blueprints, journal entries and much more besides. It’s extremely cleverly put together and all the documents and chat messages look really genuine. I was very excited to start this one as everybody I have ever heard talking about it absolutely RAVES about it.
So from what I’ve read so far, this novel opens with a battle between two corporations, one of whom was running an illegal mining operation on a small planet. The other corporation wasn’t having any of that, so it attacked the planet, leaving the surviving personnel and civilians to flee for their lives. With the attacking corporation still hot on the survivors’ heels and with such damage sustained to the their three remaining spaceships that they are unable to teleport, the nearest refuge will take six months to reach. However, strange things are going on. Communications are down and nobody will explain why. Orders are being given to attack and destroy their own ships. There are rumours that a deadly pathogen is on the rampage. The two main characters, Kady Grant and her ex-boyfriend Ezra Mason, are slowly starting to realise that something is badly wrong and their investigations are leading to some extremely worrying conclusions.
Ugh. I’m going to sound so judgemental now. But basically, I’d just finished the very British Gilded Cage, and I picked up Illuminae straight after and was launched straight into interviews with two VERY American, smart-arsed teenagers with authority issues (that classic YA trope). The contrast between the two is probably why it jarred so much but it meant that I found it a little difficult to get into. Also, we’re immediately drawn into what is obviously going to be a central romance throughout the book, which I can be a bit iffy with. However, now I’m 138 pages in, I’ve got used to the characters a little more, it’s all kicking off and I’m really, really intrigued.
So there we have it! Bit of a long update but on the whole I’m so happy with what I’ve been reading and the Quest has inspired me to pick up some things that I ordinarily may not have.
This week, in terms of print books, I’ll be working on finishing Illuminae before moving on to either one of my final two reading prompts:
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, for the “Book Set in a Different World” quest
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, for the “First Book of a Series” prompt.
I will be using my next audiobook to start moving into the side quests, starting off with We Are Legion: We Are Bob by Dennis E. Taylor.
There we have it! Like I said, I hope to be more successful next week and get a few more things completed. If you’ve liked or disliked any of the above books, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Hello everybody! So yesterday kicked off #TheReadingQuest, sorry for the late post! I was in Brighton, it was sunny, there might have been wine and my laptop got forgotten. Anyway, onto this quest thing that I’ve been wittering on about to my friends ever since I posted my sign-up post. I’ve even got a few of my colleagues joining in, which is most thrilling (I can witter on even more – “wonderful!”, I hear them cry).
I’m going to be hopefully reading a book and listening to an audiobook simultaneously during the challenge to speed things up, and I’ve decided to start off with:
A Book Based on Mythology:
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (audiobook)
A Book That Contains Magic:
Gilded Cage by Vic James
I have also compiled a TBR for some of the most interesting side challenges (I’m holding off on a TBR for my next quest path, which would be the Knight if I managed to get round to it – there’s such a thing as too much ambition…).
Potions: A Book Concocted by 2+ Authors…
…will be Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I was lazy and did a Twitter poll to decide on this one, and people seem to like Illuminae. To be honest, it’s one of those incredibly hyped books that I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single bad thing about. I like a good sci-fi, as well as books written as though made up of documents, interviews, emails etc., like Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods. I also get the impression that it’s super quick to read, which is all to the good.
Animal Companion: Book Referencing an Animal in the Title
…will The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (audiobook). It seems like sci-fi/fantasy is the way I’m going with this TBR and also it’s got two animals in it (do I get double the points for that? Yes? Yes?). Again, I’ve heard great things about this and it’s based on Russian fairytales, which very much appeals to me. I took to Twitter again to see if I could shoehorn my book club book, Flowers for Algernon, into being my choice for this challenge because at the end of the day, Algernon is a mouse. Apparently this would just not do. So…
Open World: Read Whatever You Want
…will be Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. This was a book that I vaguely knew existed somewhere in the back of my head, but then it got chosen for book club and it seems that everyone and their dog has read it. Emily at BookswithEmilyFox (who has quite similar tastes to me and whose judgement I quite trust) has said that she really loved it. I’m really, really excited about this one and hope it’ll live up to my expectations.
Time Warp: A Book Set Either in the Past or in the Future
…will be We Are Legion: We Are Bob by Dennis E. Taylor (audiobook). This is one of those rare books that’s been a runaway success as an audiobook as opposed to being successful in print first. It’s about a man who pays to be cryogenically frozen, gets run over and wakes up 100 years in the future to find he’s been uploaded into a computer and is now some kind of Artificial Intelligence. Sounds suitably wacky.
Mini-Game: Read a Graphic Novel, Novella or Poem Collection
…will be Monstress Volume 1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. I was going to read Saga Volume 1 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples, but then it was announced today that Monstress won the Hugo Award 2017 in the graphic novel category and it looks intriguing. I’ve never actually read a graphic novel before, so this should be interesting!
So there you have it! Notice that I said there’s such a thing as too much ambition and I seem to have gone ahead and put a pile of books as tall as myself (admittedly, not as difficult to achieve as for some people) on my list. I’ve changed my mind! Ambition is good, it takes you places!
Good luck, other questers – I’ll post my first weekly update on Sunday 20th April!
I’d also love to know what you’re going to be reading, if you’re joining in, if you’ve read any of the books on my list and what you think of my TBR!
So, for the first time on the old blog, I’ve decided to participate in a reading challenge and I’ve got myself thoroughly excited about it. The challenge, called The Reading Quest, is hosted by Australian book blogger Aentee (you can see her original post here) and is based on video games. You choose one of four avatars (Knight, Bard, Rogue or Mage) and complete each stage on their quest, earning experience points for books completed and accumulating health points for pages read (or minutes listened to in the case of audiobooks).
It’s set out like a bingo board, with the main quest reading prompts around the outside and “side quests” in the middle for if you get a bit of spare time. The quest starts on Sunday 13th August 2017 and runs until the 10th September. Seems like a while, but with five books and lots of fun other challenges I’d like to give a go, I’m sure it’ll feel like no time at all!
Because my TBR consists almost entirely of fantasy and science fiction at the moment, I’ve decided to be a mage, who is described as follows:
“As wielders of spells and witchcraft, these players will conjure and summon their way through the First Down path on the quest. Their tomes contain magic and whispers of alternate lands.”
The reading prompts appealed to me more than any of the other avatars and also, he’s (she’s?) a pretty cute little thing. In fact, the artwork for the whole challenge is absolutely beautiful and is done by CW over at Read, Think, Ponder.
By the way, Aentee supplies everything for you to make your own character card, so here is mine:
Proudly knocked up on Microsoft Word by the way, the image editing choice of the thoroughly amateur.
So, onto the TBR! It will, of course, be subject to change (go spontaneity!), especially since I’ve decided to put a book on it that weighs in at over 1,300 pages…
The First Book of a Series…
…will be Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. I received this at the Harper Collins Big Book Bonanza event, although it had already been on my radar for a little while. I know almost nothing about the plot but Catriona, or the Little Book Owl on YouTube, raves about it constantly and I have heard really good things about it. It has assassins – I know that much! It is the first in his The Nevernight Chronicle series, so it fits the bill.
A Book Set in a Different World…
… will be The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. This is also the first in a series, The Broken Earth trilogy, but you’re not allowed to count a book twice and this one is set in a world called the Stillness. As far as I can gather, the world in question periodically undergoes devastating, climate-change type catastrophes (called Seasons), and the populations have to try to survive as they wreak havoc on the landscape. That’s about all I know. As far as I can gather, this novel will also count for double the points as it is written by a “marginalised” author.
A Book Based on Mythology…
…might be subject to change. It’s either going to be The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I’ve heard great things about both, but it will depend on whether I feel like something a bit more literary to counterbalance all the fantasy, or something middle-grade to lighten things up if I feel like my reading list is starting to get a bit heavy. This one also might be an audiobook, as I don’t currently own either of them.
A Book that Contains Magic…
… will be Gilded Cage by Vic James. I’m actually really excited by this category because I’ve read a few fantasy books lately that have been disappointing because they have completely lacked a magic system. This one is set in an England where the magical aristocracy force non-magic people to serve them for 10 years. I just checked it out on Goodreads, and although I had been under the impression that it was some kind of Victorian setting, it is in fact modern day, which makes it all the more interesting, I think. Looking forward to checking this one out!
A Book with a One Word Title…
… will be (am I mad? I think I’m mad) It by Stephen King. Yes, I know, what am I doing? Number 1, I only have a month of this reading challenge, not a year, and number 2, I’ll probably wet myself with terror and be some kind of gibbering wreck by the end of it. I am really desperate to read more Stephen King because I absolutely LOVE his novels, so I’ll try my hardest. Although if I run out of time or want to get on with some side quests as well as the main one, I’ll probably shelve it until after the quest and read another one-word title book, most likely Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. I can always use it for the 500+ page side quest.
Wish me luck! Or – join me!
What do you think of my TBR? I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of them or if they’re on your TBR too?