July 2018 Wrap Up

Somehow August has arrived. I always am taken by surprise by the end of the month. I read 6 books this month and I loved most of them.


In the After Light by Alexandra Bracken

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I finally finished this series. I wish I hadn’t taken so long with it because I have certainly outgrown the series a little and I know I would have enjoyed it much more had I read all of it 3 years ago when I first picked it up. That isn’t to say I didn’t like the book. There was more unnecessary, teenagey angst than I strictly speaking look for in my books these days, but all in all, it was a solid 3/5 stars.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

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This was my audiobook for July and it is a fantastic book and a fantastic audiobook. It’s narrated by Richard Armitage! It’s a true story and it’s both heartbreaking and fascinating. I love World War II stories. I think they’re fascinating and also important. So much went on during that time that we still don’t know and I think that it’s important as more and more stories come out, for people to hear them. 5/5 stars

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

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Listen, I don’t know how to explain to you my love for this book. I really enjoyed the anime, so I had this on my amazon wish-list and my friend got it for me and I love him for it because it is beautiful. It made me happy. It’s just the kind of story that is the right combination of whimsy and magic and absurdity. It makes me happy. 5/5 stars

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

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I was wary of this book. I was interested, but I was also a little bit unsure for some reason. I was wrong. It was awesome. The characters are so freaking good that nothing else matters to me. Not that the story and the world aren’t good, they are, but I wouldn’t say they’re mind-blowing. At least not in this first one. There’s not actually as much going on in this one besides introducing us to the characters and setting up the story. You can tell there’s a storm brewing, but it doesn’t actually break out into it in this book. But it’s done so well and the characters are so great, I don’t care. 5/5 stars

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

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This one was just meh. It was tropey and cliche. The characters were boring. The story was boring and predictable. It just fell flat in every way possible. I appreciate the gender equality, feminist message it’s trying to convey. But it’s done poorly. And as with any kind of ‘diverse’ books, diversity and a good message is not enough to make it a good book. 2/5 stars

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

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As with every C. S. Lewis book I’ve ever read, I loved this. So simple and yet so thought provoking. It just pokes holes in the illusion of “Oh, I’m a pretty good person.” and it points out all the ways in which we suck on a day to day basis. All the little hypocrisies and absurd behaviours that if we’re honest, we’re all guilty of. Wonderful satire. 5/5 stars

The Book Title Book Tag

Saw this over at The Book Prophet’s blog and I love tags and this sounds like such a fun challenge. Basically, I just have to answer questions with book titles. So here we go.


1. Title That’s the Story of Your Life

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a good one because my life is just a chain of awkward and weird. Also The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making because I read a lot of fantasy and I spend most of my time in my own head, in my own world.

2. Title That Describes Your Perfect Weekend

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir because it just makes me think of embers in a fireplace and I love reading by the fire with a hot drink and a blanket and a comfy sofa.

3. Title of an Adventure You’d Like To Go On

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey because I love exploring and just going new places and discovering things.

4. Title You Want to Name Your Child

I really like the titles of the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix as names, so if it were a boy Lirael and if it were a girl, Clariel. For some reason, I feel like Lirael is a boy’s name and Clariel a girl’s name.

5. Title of Your Ideal Job

The Craft of Research. Science is what I’ve always wanted to do and thankfully, it is what I’m doing.

6. Title of a Place You’d Like to Visit

Oh man! There are so many… A Whole New World by Liz Braswell because it would be so cool to visit another planet. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman because it sounds so mystical and wonderous. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones because again, so cool and magical.

7. Title of Your Love Life

Um… Tangled by Emma Chase because it’s a bit of a confusing mess at the moment. Also Pivot Point by Kasie West, because I feel like things are being determined at this moment and what happens now will set the tone for later? This is a hard question to answer even without having to limit myself to book titles.

8. Questions You Ask Yourself

What If? (Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions) by Randall Munroe. This is incredibly accurate.

9. Title of a Kingdom You Want to Rule or Name

Hmm… The Final Empire because it sounds so… final. Either in the sense that it’s enduring or in the sense we have reached the end of existence, of matter and civilization. And while I do quite enjoy living and you know… the lack of chaos and anarchy in my life, there is a small, strange and rebellious part of me that would just love to watch the end of the world.

10. Title You’d Name Your Band

There are so many cool ones for this! Pretty much any Laini Taylor book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Awesome name. Days of Blood and Starlight? Absolutely bitchin’! Strange the Dreamer? Dreams of Gods and Monsters? Silksinger? Yeah, Laini Taylor books have awesome titles.

Other cool ones would be The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Six of Crows, Ruin and Rising or A Toaster on Mars. I could probably go on, honestly, there are so many good ones. But I’ll stop here.

I’m not going to tag anyone because I’m lazy, but please feel free to do this if you think it’s fun.

A Noob’s Guide to High Fantasy

High fantasy books can be pretty scary. They’re usually massive and part of some massive series with an intricate world that is different from the real world. I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t like fantasy and I always ask… have you really tried? Are you sure you’re not just intimidated by it? Fantasy is not a genre you can just dive into. You have to ease your way into fantasy.

I think one of the most important things is not to jump right into high fantasy. If you’ve never read fantasy before. Or you’ve read like… Matilda when you were in elementary school, but nothing really beyond that, then the books that I’m about to talk about are not for you. Not yet. If that’s you, then go and read my other post A Noob’s Guide to Fantasy.

If however, you have read at least some of the books on that list, you’ve learnt how to swim in the shallows of fantasy and you kind of want to go off into deeper water, but you’re a little bit scared and you’re not really sure where to begin, then this post is for you. Grab some popcorn and allow me to ease you into the world of high fantasy.

In the interest of not making this post too long, I will not be talking about what the books are about, I’ll just leave a link to the Goodreads page so you can check them out for yourself.

The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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This is probably the best series to get you into high fantasy. Particularly if you’re really apprehensive about reading a book that takes place in a different world. This is perfect. It’s classed as a middle grade series, but it is really good. It’s really clever and witty and quite dark for middle grade, I would say it reads a lot more like YA.

It’s an amazing series, really underrated in my opinion. It’s super fast paced, it’s not too long, the world is not that complex. It’s very similar to just… the real world but with a medieval setting. As far as I can remember, there isn’t any magic in it and if there is, it’s really not prominent. So it’s perfect for people who aren’t used to high fantasy and are perhaps a bit apprehensive about it. Although it’s also amazing for senior high fantasy consumers, like myself. It’s just a great series.

Goodreads

The Poison Study series by Maria V. Snyder

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This is another excellent series to ease you into high fantasy. This one does have a magic system, but it doesn’t thrust you right into it, I think it only really becomes part of the story towards the end of the first book. It’s really easy to get into, it’s really fast paced. Maria V. Snyder has a great writing style, I really enjoyed this series. I think most of her novels take place in the same world and I think there are 2 or 3 series known as The Chronicles of Ixia. I’ve only read I think 7 of them, but to begin with, I would recommend the first 6 books, which follow the same characters, because I believe the next ones focus more on other characters.

Goodreads

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Another pretty light one, as far as fantasy goes. It has a slightly more complex world than the previous two. It takes place in a desert, Roman-like society and it has some elements of magic and mythology that are a little bit more prominent that in the previous books I mentioned, but it’s still not too dense, you don’t get thrust into it, it’s really not difficult to understand and get into.

I’ve only read the first book so far, but I really enjoyed it and I think it’s a good series for beginners. It’s not too long, it’s not too complicated, and it has a really cool setting and some nice mythology to it. I also have a spoiler-free review of this, if you’re interested to read that.

Goodreads

The Assassin’s Curse series by Cassandra Rose Clarke

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If you like pirates and assassins, this book is it. This is a duology, the books are quite short and while there is quite a heavy element of magic and mythology, it’s not dense or difficult to understand. I really enjoyed this series, it’s got quite unique characters as far as the YA genre goes. And I think it’s perfect if you’ve maybe read one of the previous books I talked about in this post and are ready for the next step. It’s a bit more complex a fantasy world, but it’s not too bad.

The Graceling Series by Kristin Kashore

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This one is a bit more complex. This is the graduation series of this guide to high fantasy. If you’ve read this, you’ll probably be ready to take on some of the more hardcore fantasy series. The world is more complex, the magic system is more complex and the books are longer, closer to your standard high-fantasy book, around 500 pages. It’s not that fast paced. Some people find it slow, I personally really loved the series and I think the fact that it isn’t very fast paced, is good for people who are not as used to high-fantasy. Because it gives you time to digest the world and how the magic works and so on.

This is a companion series. They can either be read in chronological order, or publication order. I recommend publication order, so start with Graceling, then Fire, then Bitterblue. 

Goodreads


So, yeah these 5 books/series I think are a very good way to get into high fantasy. I hope this list helps someone get into high fantasy, because it’s an amazing genre and there are so many good stories that people may be missing out on because they’re intimidated by the genre. Let me know if this did help you, or if you’re already a veteran fantasy reader, what books would you recommend for noobs? Also, for fellow veterans, because I’m always on the lookout for some good fantasy recs.

Autumn-Winter Book Haul

Autumn-Winter Book Haul

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a book haul. So I thought I’d show you the books I’ve acquired recently. I’ve been pretty sensible, I think. I’ve only got about 15 new books since September.

I’m going to show them to you in fives, because I’m too lazy to show you every single one of them. Plus, that would be a very long post. So here are the first five books. If I have a review for a book, I’ll link to it, so you can click on the title and see where that takes you.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo  | An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir | Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas | Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

I  only bought 4 of the following 5 books. I won Fear the Drowning Deep in a giveaway.

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The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid | Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh | A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness | The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss | The Wise man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss 

And finally, the last five books of which I actually only bought 3. So really, that brings my total for the last 4 months to 12 books. Which is reasonable. I’m actually kind of proud of myself.

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Avatar The Last Airbender: The Lost Adventures by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dimartino | Avatar the Last Airbender: The Promise Part 1 by Gene Luen Yung | A Toaster on Mars by Darrell Pitt | Clancy of the Undertow by Christopher Currie | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

This concludes my book haul. I have been very sensible about buying books. Surprisingly sensible.

November & December Wrap up

For some reason, I didn’t do a November wrap up (probably because I didn’t really read in November), so I’m doing a combined wrap up. Which shouldn’t be too long, because I’ve been reading very little.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

an-ember-in-the-ashes-by-sabaa-tahirThis is the first book that I read probably back in November. I really loved it, it lived up to all the hype around it for sure. I have a review of it if you’d like to read all of my thoughts on it, but all around, I would say it’s a good fantasy, has an amazing setting and an interesting story. The characters weren’t my favourite, I feel like they were a bit too trope-y for my taste, but I still gave it 5/5 stars and I’m still looking forward to reading the next one.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

17399160This one was a bit of a disappointment for me. I was expecting more from it. It had a lot of potential; it had a brilliant setting and a decent plot to begin with, but the characters were insipid and the story was all over the place, as if Raasch wasn’t really sure what she wanted to do with it. I also have a review of it, if you’re interested to know more of my thoughts. I don’t think I will be continuing with this series. It was just too meh for me to be interested in the rest of it. 3/5 stars

The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

26836910This was a surprisingly good sci-fi, considering it’s a standalone. So kudos to Kincaid. I’d never read one of her books before, but I might do just that now. I really enjoyed the story and the characters and overall, I just really enjoyed reading this book. It was very well balanced in terms of plot vs worldbuilding, which is something I really appreciate, especially that it wasn’t a particularly long book. I have a review of this one as well, so check that out for more details. 5/5 stars.

Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Lost Adventures

10450750This was probably the best thing I read recently in terms of pure entertainment value. It’s a great graphic novel with awesome artwork and I really do recommend it for any fans of The Last Airbender. It’s one of my favourite shows and somehow, this managed to capture the essence of the show so well I could hardly tell the difference. I have a full review of this one as well, so check that out. 5/5 stars

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

2913377This book was a masterpiece. Like honestly, I hardly feel qualified to judge this book. It was just SO. GOOD! So masterfully written, so rich and powerful and just beautiful. I just want to have it scrubbed from my brain just so I can read it for the first time all over again. It’s that kind of book. I have a full review of this one as well, so be sure to have a look. 5/5 stars. But of a completely different caliber than the other 5/5 stars in this post. This series is in a league of its own, really.

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

2495562And finally, the last book I read in 2016. And what a book! Of course I had to immediately read the sequel to The Name of the Wind. And now I of course have to wait forever for the next one. As if ASOIAF wasn’t enough frustration for me. Anyway, I read this mammoth of a book and I loved it every bit as much as its predecessor and I want the next one yesterday. I haven’t had the time to review it yet on account of it being huge and I want to do it justice. But I’ll have a review of it coming up soon, so keep an eye out. 5/5 stars.

 

 

An Ember is the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – Book Review

An Ember is the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – Book Review

an-ember-in-the-ashes-by-sabaa-tahirRating: 5/5

Genre: High fantasy

First published: 2015

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Goodreads synopsis: When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels. But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk . . . Laia’s very life is at stake. There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest soldier. But Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined – and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Book Depostiory | Goodreads


I finally read this book and it was awesome! I don’t know why I din’t read it sooner. I loved the world. It’s based off ancient Roman society which is really cool and not something I’ve seen much of. I really the world-building, I loved the feeling of the setting.It felt really authentic to me, so Tahir did a good job with that.

Another one of those little things that I absolutely loved about the book were the masks. Such a cool idea to have them mold to the wearer’s face. I remember I read a preview of this book about a year ago and the masks stayed in my memory and were actually part of the reason why I decided I wanted to read this book.

The story itself followed a pretty standard oppressive society type plot. But it had this really cool Oriental magic about it. I really love Oriental mythology and there was a striking contrast between the Roman society on the one hand – sober, disciplined, military,  – and the Oriental mythology on the other – magical, mysterious and wild somehow. And I think that, more than anything, made the book remarkable.

I liked the characters, I didn’t love them, but I liked them. The Commandant was interesting. I’m curious about her. I’m curious what screwed her up. I was a little bit annoyed with Laia, because she’s one of those annoyingly clueless characters, the “I have no idea how gorgeous I actually am” type of character. That’s not the only way in which she was clueless, but I can’t say more without spoiling anything. But there were some glaringly obvious things that she missed, presumably because if she hadn’t, the story would have ended after like chapter 5.

More than anything though, I am curious about the Augurs and the magical aspects of the story. I’m really looking forward to learning more about the world and about the mythology.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I saw this tag on this blog and I thought it was cool, so I’m going to do it. I’ve read 46 books this year so far, according to my Goodreads challenge (which I am desperately behind on, it’s been a pretty slow reading year for me). So let’s see what books will make it onto this list.

Best book you’ve read so far in 2016

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For this, I have to say A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I’ve read quite a few good books this year, some of them very thought-provoking or very emotional, but I just can’t not give it to ACOMAF. I just enjoyed this book so much. I didn’t read it, so much as absorbed it and as soon as I finished it, I flipped right back to the beginning and started reading it again. I adored it! I have not yet had time to review it properly and talk about all the things I loved about it, but you can read my Goodreads review here.

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2016

13188729I’m going to say Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. This isn’t so much a sequel as it is a companion novel, but I’m going to say that this is a series of companions, so it’s a sequel. I really loved the entire Graceling series. I loved the characters, I loved the themes broached and of all of them, I think Bitterblue was my favourite. It’s not a very fast paced book, but it dealt with topics such as mental illness, with anxiety, with trauma. It was full of mystery and I really love books where I have to try and puzzle things out. This is another one I haven’t done a proper review of, but I’ve written a pretty comprehensive Goodreads review which you can check out here

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

23299513This is a difficult question. There are quite a few. But I think the one I want to read most is The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine. I’ve been meaning to buy this and read it pretty much since it came out in February, but for some reason, I just haven’t. That happens to me sometimes. I want to read a book so badly, but instead I keep buying and reading other books for no reason that I can discern. And I don’t just want to read it. I want to own it. I mean, look at that gorgeous cover! Hopefully, I’ll get to this one soon!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

empire-of-thrones-ukMy answer for this one is another Sarah J. Maas book. I love Sarah so much (and I’m going to meet her this fall!!!). My most anticipated release for the second half of the year is Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. Queen of Shadows blew my mind. I loved it so much, it was so amazing. Things didn’t turn out quite as I expected them, but it was one of those rare occasions when I didn’t mind because what did happen was awesome. So I’m really pumped to see how the story continues. I have a video review of Queen of Shadows if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts. 

Biggest disappointment

eragon_book_cover eldest_book_coverI’ve read a few disappointing books this year. Thankfully, not as many as awesome ones. But I think the biggest disappointments were the first two books in the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini. I’ve wanted to read that series for YEARS. I’m not sure why I didn’t until now, but I’ve given up on trying to understand my reading habits. So I was really disappointed by how little I liked them. I didn’t really like the characters, I didn’t like the writing. The story itself is not half bad. It’s pretty much a Tolkien ripoff, but that’s what I was expecting so I didn’t mind that much. But overall, I didn’t like them and I’m not sure that I will continue with the series. You can check out my Goodreads reviews on Eragon and Eldest

Biggest surprise

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For this one, I definitely have to go with Tangled by Emma Chase. This is an adult contemporary romance. It’s like three genres that I don’t read that much in one book. I’m not even sure why I picked it up, I don’t even like the cover. But I did and I surprisingly really enjoyed it. It was funny, it was sexy and I really liked the characters (mainly Drew). So this was definitely the biggest surprise for me. You can check out my review of it here.

Favorite new author (Debut or new to you)

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This one goes to Jojo Moyes. I’d never read anything of hers before reading Me Before You, but I really loved it. I loved the characters, I loved the no-nonsense way in which it was written. It wasn’t one of those cliched, happily-ever-after love stories. I loved that it was a bold novel,  it dealt with difficult topics and themes and I always love that in a book. So now, I’m really curious to read some more of her books. 

Newest fictional crush

I kind of developed a crush on Will Traynor from Me Before You. 635899377487267342-mby-trl-88662He’s a cutie and I mean… Sam Claflin. Enough said. But really, I like his character a lot. He’s witty and sarcastic and clever and cultured. He’s someone who’s had a lot of experiences in his life and I genuinely think that he’d be a person I would really like if I met him.

Newest favorite character

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RHYSAND! Rhys, Rhys, Rhysand! This was a complete no-brainer. Let’s be honest, the only reason Will got the last one was because I read Me Before You after ACOMAF. So technically, Rhys isn’t my *newest* fictional crush. But it’s just as well, because otherwise, my answer would have been Rhysand for two questions and that’s not cool. I absolutely love Rhys. He’s right up there with Will Herondale on my top favourite male characters ever. I guess I have a type: dark-haired, blue-eyed smartasses. 

Book that made you cry

me-before-you-book-coverI don’t cry that often when reading or watching films. I’m heartless like that. But I cried, despite my best efforts, while reading Me Before You. It occurs to me, this is the third answer in which this book has come up. I really loved it, guys. I really loved it. Yeah, it definitely made me cry. I knew it would be heartbreaking from the start, so I was prepared and I didn’t cry as much as I might have otherwise, but even with preparation, it still wrung tears out of me. You can check out my review of it here

Book that made you happy

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This is actually very difficult to answer. Hmmm, I’m gonna go with Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. I’d really been looking forward to this book and I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Cassie and get it signed. I also met Dominic Sherwood at the book signing and got a picture with him, so there’s a lot of excitement and happiness associated with this book even though the book itself did not necessarily make me happy (it made me suffer, like all Cassandra Clare books). See my review of it here.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

51tgsgjianl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken. Look at that gorgeous cover! I really love the covers for The Darkest Minds books. I love how they look, I love how the feel. And I really love the paperbacks of it. They’re bigger paperbacks and they’re really… hefty. I don’t know how to describe it. But I really love how they feel in my hands. I love the texture of the pages and the covers. And I love how Never Fade looks alongside The Darkest Minds. I can’t wait to get In the Afterlight and the novella bind-up! You can check out my review of it here.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Oh boy! So many. I will limit myself to 4 books to keep it realistic (it should have become apparent by now that I have really weird reading habits) and to reduce the size of this post. But I absolutely want to read these 4 by the end of the year. I just have to!

So that’s it for this tag. It took me ridiculously long to put together this post, but I had a lot of fun doing it. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it up. I don’t know who to tag, so I tag everyone who read it and wants to do it.