Category: Reading Roundup

Upcoming releases for May

Hello, I’m back again with a roundup of all the new releases in May about which I’m most excited.  May is often a busy month in terms of new releases and this one is no exception, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

One of my favourite middle grade authors, Rick Riordan, has two books coming out next month.  The first of these is The Dark Prophecy, the second book in his Trials of Apollo series.  This set of books follows the god Apollo, who has been stripped of his powers and sent to Earth in the form of a gawky teenage boy.  As with all Rick Riordan books, I fully expect this one to combine Greek mythology, adventure and humour in a wonderful blend.  The Dark Prophecy is released on May 2nd.

Tying in with this release is Riordan’s second book of the month, Percy Jackson: Camp Half-Blood Confidential.  This is a pamphlet written as if by Percy Jackson explaining how things work at Camp Half Blood for new demigods.  I expect it to be a fun, quick read.  It is also released on May 2nd.

Also on May 2nd we have the next in Sarah J. Maas’s fantasy series A Court of Wings and Ruin.  While I prefer Maas’ Throne of Glass series, I am still enjoying the Beauty and the Beast retelling.  If my understanding is correct, this book will tie up the story for our current characters, and book four will continue in the same world with a different set of people.  A Court of Wings and Ruin also comes out on May 2nd.

Probably my most anticipated – and yet at the same time dreaded – releases of the year is Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Fate.  This is the final book in her Fitz and the Fool trilogy, and possibly the final book in the Realm of the Elderlings sixteen book series.  I am completely invested in the characters of Fitz and the Fool, and the world in which they reside.  Even the $29 price point for the Kindle version (WTF!?!) will not prevent me from picking up this book in both Kindle and audio formats.  

It’s difficult to say more without spoiling the rest of the series, but know that Hobb has created an incredibly rich, detailed world populated with fully fleshed out fascinating characters and a breathtaking magic system.  It’s because I am so invested in the characters that I am both anticipating and dreading learning how their story ends.  Assassin’s Fate is released on May 9th.

The final book being released in May is Cassandra Clare’s second book in her Dark Artifices series, Lord of Shadows.  I adore Clare’s Shadowhunters world and the move to LA worked so well in the first book, Lady Midnight. I really look forward to seeing how the characters develop and how they cope with the situations they face.  As a bonus, I hear that James Marsters, narrator of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, will be narrating the book – awesome!  I will definitely be snagging the audiobook.

So there you have it, the five books I’m most anticipating in the month of May.  Will you be picking up any of them? 

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…

Hello, and yes I am still here.  It’s been two months since my last post.  It’s been a challenging couple of months both at work and at home, and so my blogging has very much suffered.  Things aren’t going to quieten down in the foreseeable future, so I’ll blog when I can, making no promises.  I sincerely apologise to the publishers who have been kind enough to send me ARCs – I suspect that I will not be able to meet my commitments to review these books, but my responsibilities to my employer who pays our bills and family must come first.  At this point in time, reading needs to remain an escape without pressure to review.

So onto the books I’ve read in the last couple of months.

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, Newt Scamander
Series: Hogwarts School Books
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Eddie Redmayne
Length: 1 hr and 40 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

One of the pure joys of my reading/listening time recently has been the audiobook of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them narrated by Newt Scamander himself, Eddie Redmayne.  This was a wonderful surprise – I really wasn’t expecting it to be as entertaining as it was.  This is a “revised edition” film tie-in, to include an additional footnote by Scamander commenting on the events of the film and implying more editions will be released as more Fantastic Beasts films are released.  It certainly whetted my appetite for more of Mr Scamander’s adventures.  The audio edition is described as enhanced for audio with original sound design. This audiobook includes “audio footnotes” which have been treated with a sound effect to differentiate them from the main narration.  These includes very subtle sound effects of the various creatures about which Scamander is talking, which really added a lot to the listening experience.  What I hadn’t expected was just how funny it would be.  I regularly found myself laughing out loud.  Who knew that the Loch Ness Monster was actually a publicity hungry kelpie?  I suspect this will be a go-to book to put a smile on my face for a long time to come.

As a bonus, proceeds from the sale of the books go to Rowling’s Lumos charity and also the UK’s Comic Relief.  A wonderful listen and definitely worth the five stars I gave it.

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Stephen Fry
Length: 71 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Buy from iTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection narrated by Stephen Fry was somewhat of an impulse buy for me.  Audible just happened to announce the publication on Facebook at a time when I happened to have a spare, unspoken-for Audible credit (a rare occurrence.)  I don’t regret it at all.  As it happens I don’t have a Sherlock Holmes collection in my library and Stephen Fry’s introduction and narration adds a lot to the stories.  His passion for the source material really comes across and who could complain about listening to Fry’s melodious voice for 72 hours?  I can’t say I’ve listened to all the stories, but I’ve loved what I’ve listened to so far.

I gave Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection 4 stars.

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Format: ARC
Pages: 513 pages
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Hachette was kind enough to send me an ARC of Claudia Gray’s upcoming YA sci-fi novel Defy the Stars.  Now, I’ve read quite a few of Ms Gray’s novels and really enjoyed them, which is why it’s a real shame I’m having to consign Defy the Stars to my didn’t finish pile.  See: introductory remarks.  It took me at least three attempts to get beyond the first few chapters of Defy the Stars, and I’m giving up at 50% or so through.  Maybe later I’ll be able to pick it up and enjoy it more.

Several choices made by Gray contributed to my struggles with this book.  She starts off the book with the sucker punch of stating that the main character will be dead in two weeks.  However, she didn’t provide a strong enough reason for me to really care about that.  Our protagonist, Noemi, is not an immediately sympathetic character;  interesting, sure, kick-ass certainly, but not a character you can root for at least in the beginning.  She is first and foremost a soldier.  Too many times Gray asked me to suspend my disbelief more than I was prepared to do.  Not disbelief in a situation but in how a character would act.  

On a positive side, the relationship developed between Noemi and the AI Abel was very well done and I would have enjoyed watching it develop as well as Abel’s growing humanity.  The world created by Gray was also – as usual for her – richly detailed and fascinating.  These were not enough to convince me to continue the story at this time.

As I did not finish it I will not assign any rating.

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Mythology
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

Norse Mythology, written and narrated by Neil Gaiman, was another book I specifically chose to experience in audiobook format, a choice I would wholeheartedly recommend.  In his introduction to the audiobook Gaiman speaks of the oral tradition through which much of the Norse mythology has come down to us.  This is clearly something that the production team bore in mind when making the audiobook and I really had the impression of listening to Mr Gaiman narrate his tales around a blazing hearth in the dark of winter.  

The tales themselves are fascinating, even though I understand they are somewhat sanitised by Mr Gaiman.  Readers of my blog know that I have been following Rick Riordan’s series Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, also based on this set of mythology.  It’s been a real treat to see how the same tales have been handled by two extremely talented and very different writers.

I gave Norse Mythology four and a half stars out of five

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here…Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
Series: Rain Wilds Chronicles
Format: eBook
Pages: 500 pages
Genres: Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

In my intense anticipation of Assassin’s Fate, the final book in Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, I realised that there was a whole section of Hobb’s world about which I’ve not read.  i’m talking about her Rain Wild Chronicles.  I hope to read all four books before Assassin’s Fate is released on May 9th. If you’re interested, check out my initial reread of the Realm of the Elderlings.

As familiar as I am with Hobb’s writing, I knew that the first book in a new series is generally very slow, spending time introducing the characters and their struggles and motivations.  That is also true for Dragon Keeper.  It sets up the story very satisfactorily, at the expense of slow pacing.

I gave Dragon Keeper three and a half stars out of five.  Now onto Dragon Haven!

Upcoming releases

April is a very quiet month for me in terms of book releases about which I’m excited. Other than the aforementioned Defy the Stars, the other book i”m excited about is Red Sister by Mark Lawrence.  This is the first book in a new series set in a different world from The Broken Empire and Red Queen’s War.  It centres around a young female protagonist being trained as a killer in a convent.  This concept sounds awesome, if reminiscent of Robin LeFevers His Fair Assassin series.  In Lawrence’s hands I’m sure it will be wonderful and I can’t wait.  Red Sister will be released on April 4th.

five-stars

Reading roundup – January 29th 2017

Hello and here I am with another reading roundup.  Since my last roundup I have read four books.  Now that I think about it, I’m not sure that I’ve shared my reading goal for 2017 – I’ve challenged myself to read 80 books this year.  So far, so good.  Anyway, onto the books.  

Reading roundup – January 29th 2017Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Format: ARC
Pages: 544 pages
Genres: Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The first book I’d like to mention is Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.  Hachette was kind enough to send me a Netgalley for this March 28th release – thank you so much!  I anticipate publishing a full review of this book nearer the date, so I won’t say too much here.  In summary though, I’ll say that Taylor’s worldbuilding and lyrical prose are both gorgeous.  As an aside, isn’t that an absolutely stunning cover?  Wonderful.  Additionally, I’ll say that it’s been a while since I connected so quickly and so strongly with a protagonist.  The more I read about him the more I felt we were really on the same wavelength.  I loved his story and am excited to read the continuation.

I gave Strange the Dreamer four stars out of five.

Reading roundup – January 29th 2017Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
Format: eBook
Pages: 294 pages
Genres: Self Help
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Self help is not a genre of books I read very often, but I made an exception for David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  One of my goals for 2017 was to become better organised and more productive.  I first learned about the GTD methodology through Carl Pullein’s YouTube channel that I follow.  I’ve been working on this for around six weeks now, so it’s too early to tell, but I’m happy with what I’ve learned.  Again, I plan a full review on this book, so I won’t say too much.  In essence, GTD is based on the assumption that the brain is pretty poor at holding information, and that a much better solution is to input the information into a trusted and maintained task and reference management system.  I’m planning a full review on GTD, so won’t say too much more here.

I gave Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – January 29th 2017The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 435 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

One book I did very much enjoy recently was Renee Andieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn.  This is a young adult fantasy inspired by The Arabian Nights and tells the story of Shazi, a young woman seeking revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend.  Even knowing that the Caliph routinely murders his wives on the morning after their wedding, she agrees to marry him.  As in the original, she uses the Caliph’s love of stories to extend her life.

The setting was beautifully evocative of the Arabian Nights world and I loved that there seems to be hidden layers to the story that have not yet been revealed.  I liked Shazi and Khalid as characters, although their romance did seem a little Instalovey.  That’s probably unavoidable given the scenario.  The pacing was excellent and kept me turning the pages.  I have not yet picked up book two, but I certainly plan to in the near future. 

I gave The Wrath and the Dawn four and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – January 29th 2017Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Series: Carve the Mark #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 480 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: three-stars

The last book I want to talk about today is Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark.  This is a new duology from the creator of the Divergent trilogy and centres around a world in which the Force like current is all-pervasive and grants special powers, or currentgifts, to the inhabitants.  These gifts can be both a blessing and a curse.  Our protagonists are Akos and Cyra, on opposite sides of a civil conflict, and their paths collide. 

On the positive side, the worldbuilding is excellent.  Each of the cultures we meet is clearly defined with its own beliefs, values and systems, and the current and currentgifts add a fascinating aspect to it.  The world has a wonderful realness to it.  It was also interesting to deal with a protagonist who has to deal with chronic pain – Roth has said that that was one of her inspirations for the story.

On the not-so-good side, once again Roth has gone for dual points of view, a technique which didn’t work so well in Allegiant, and has its issues here.  It’s still unclear to me why Cyra’s chapters are in first person and Akos’s in third.  My biggest issue with the novel is that neither of our protagonists seem to have very clear goals.  It’s much harder to root for someone to achieve something when it’s not clear what they want to achieve and why. For me, the pacing was also not fast enough to keep my interest.  

For these reasons, it’s unlikely that I will pick up the sequel.

I gave Carve the Mark three stars out of five.

Upcoming releases in February

There are four books being published in the month of February about which I am excited.  Here they are. 

First up, we have King’s Cage, the third instalment in Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series.  This is a young adult fantasy series which is somewhat trope filled. I’ll admit this is  not my most anticipated read of the month, but I’ve followed the series through Red Queen and Glass Sword, so I may as well continue on.  King’s Cage is released on February 7th.

Also on February 7th we have Sophie Kinsella’s My Not So Perfect Life, a contemporary novel about a young woman whose perfect Instagram feed hides the chaos in her life.  I adore Kinsella’s work – her Finding Audrey was so beautifully and sensitively written – and so I didn’t hesitate to preorder this one.  I’m very much looking forward to it!  This is one I’ll pick up in audiobook format – Kinsella’s writing is perfect for that medium, and it’s being narrated by Fiona Hardingham, who narrated the awesome The Summer Before the War.

Yet another book to be released on February 7th is Neil Gaiman’s Norse Gods.  I don’t know too much about this except that it’s narrated by Gaiman himself and tells the story of Norse mythology, woven into a novelistic arc.  I’ve been enjoying Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series, so I’m looking forward to this very much.

Finally, on February 21st we have the release of A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, This is the third book in the Shades of Magic series which tells of four parallel Londons and of Kell, who has the ability to travel between them.  I love the world Schwab has created and the characters who inhabit it.  I’m excited to read the conclusion to the story.  This is another one I’ll pick up in audiobook format given that it’s narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer.

It looks like I’ll be doing a lot of listening in February!

What books are you looking forward to in February?  Let me know in the comments.

four-stars

Reading roundup – January 13th 2017

Hello, and happy new year to you all.  Wishing you a wonderful, prosperous and book filled 2017.  

You know, sometimes you can go for months without coming across a real gem of a book.  Other times, every book you read is a five-star wonder.  That’s been the case for me so far in 2017.  Here are some great reads I’ve picked up lately.

Reading roundup – January 13th 2017The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Also in this series: Passenger
Format: eBook
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Pages: 384 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

I know I’m a bit late to the table with Nicola Yoon’s masterpiece.  The Sun is Also a Star tells the story of Natasha, an undocumented Jamaican-American immigrant on the point of deportation and Daniel, a young Korean-American struggling with the conflict between his dreams and his family’s expectations.  The novel takes place over 12 hours, during the day on which Natasha’s family is due to be deported.  The characters are well grounded, beautifully described and their romance is believable.  I was really rooting for those two, despite their different outlooks.

I loved how the lives of those with whom they come into contact are also briefly described, showing how everyone’s lives are interconnected and that no man is an island.  I’m pretty confident that, come December 2017, The Sun is Also a Star will be featured on my top reads of 2017.  That’s how much I loved it.

I gave The Sun is Also a Star five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – January 13th 2017Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Pages: 402 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Ruta Supetys’ Salt to the Sea is a young adult historical fiction novel which tells the story of four young people towards the end of the Second World War as they attempt to flee East Prussia from the advancing Russian army and to board the Wilhelm Gustloff.  As in real life, the Wilhelm Gustloff is torpedoed by Russian submarines and sinks with the loss of thousands of souls.

Our four main PoV characters are Joana, a young Lithuanian nurse fleeing from East Prussia, Florian, a young apprentice with a secret, Emilia, a fifteen year old Polish girl pregnant as the result of a rape, and Alfred a German sailor with an inflated opinion of himself and a deep seated belief in Nazi propaganda.  Their stories are deeply moving and I found myself very emotionally engaged with them.  

The writing style is beautiful and poetic, with wonderful images, themes and emotion.  

I gave Salt to the Sea five stars.  A must-read if you enjoy historical fiction.

Reading roundup – January 13th 2017Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #2
Also in this series: Passenger
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 16 hrs and 16 mins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Wayfarer is the second and final book in Alexandra Bracken’s time travel Passenger duology.  it continues the story of Etta and Nicholas and their attempt to keep the powerful astrolabe out of the hands of the various groups who would seek to abuse it. 

I loved the characters and their relationships – that’s one thing that Bracken does especially well.  Learning more about Rose and the addition of Li Min were real highlights here.  The pacing was excellent and moved along at a real clip – Bracken has expertly defined what’s at stake for our characters, and it is a believable motivator for them.  The ending was satisfying and felt well-earned.

What I wasn’t so fond of was the development of the mystical aspect of the story.  The time travel was setup in such a clear and logical way with all its rules and limitations that it felt almost pseudo scientific.  The mystical and magical side that was developed felt somewhat out of place in the narrative.

All in all though I really enjoyed Wayfarer and gave it four stars out of five.

The next book I’d like to talk about in my home run of awesome reads is Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer.  Hachette Canada was kind enough to give me a netgalley and I’m about a third of the way through it.  I don’t want to say too much as I’ll be doing a full review shortly, but our protagonist was one I felt extremely connected to right from the beginning.  I’m certain it will be an awesome book.

Upcoming books in January

Divergent author Veronica Roth has a new series coming out next year starting with Carve the Mark.  This is young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel set in a world in which a Force-like current pervades the universe and grants special powers or currentgifts to inhabitants.  We follow two teens, Cyra and Akos, whose worlds collide and who must decide whether to aid or thwart the other.  Although it’s one of my most anticipated reads, I do have some qualms about it.  It has a dual PoV, which Roth didn’t handle so well in Allegiant.  The world could either be amazing or it could be a mess.  I’m still intrigued enough to add this to my most anticipated reads of 2017, so time will tell on which side it falls.

Carve the Mark is released on January 17th 2017.

I admit I cheated here somewhat; I’ve actually already read Caraval by Stephanie Garber and LOVED it (I was lucky enough to pick up a copy at BEA).  It was one of my top reads of 2017 – the characters, the world and the twisty turny plot was breathtaking.  Don’t miss this one.  I’ve added it to my most anticipated reads of 2017 as I’m looking forward to experiencing it again.  I will pick it up in audiobook format as it’s being narrated by Lunar Chronicles narrator Rebecca Soler.  

Caraval is released on January 31st 2017.

That’s all for today.  Let me know what you’re reading in the comments!


five-stars

Most Anticipated Books of 2017

Now that 2016 is almost done, it’s time to talk about my most anticipated books of 2017.  Here in date order are the books I’m most looking forward to in 2017

Series continuations

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #2
Also in this series: Passenger
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Length: 16 hours and 16 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboAudible
The first book I’m really anticipating next year is Wayfarer, the second and final book in Alexandra Bracken’s time travelling duology Passenger.  Bracken has created some wonderful characters and a solid and fascinating time travel story in this series.  As you’d expect with Bracken, the author of The Darkest Minds, the worldbuilding is incredible and the time travel system is beautifully developed and intriguing.  I love when magic/timetravel systems have clear limitations, which impact the story and characters.  I’m very much looking forward to the conclusion.

Wayfarer is released on January 3rd 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
Series: The Bone Season #3
Also in this series: The Bone Season, The Mime Order
Format: eBook
Pages: 380 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon is the third book in the Bone Season series.  Now this is a series that has really grown on me.  It is a mixture of genres.  There’s a bit of fantasy, a bit of dystopian, a bit of politicking.  I will say though that this series may not be the easiest to pick up.  The worldbuilding (and associated jargon) is incredibly detailed and Shannon doesn’t ease the reader in gently.  Our protagonist, Paige Mahoney, is familiar with the world of the clairvoyants right from he beginning so the reader is expected to hit the ground running.  Once you get over that hurdle though the series is amazing.  It is very easy to get immersed in the world once you get to know it and our protagonist is very engaging.  I found the novella On the Merits of Unnaturalness extremely useful for getting into the world, and I would suggest you may want to pick this up first.  I’m very excited to read what’s next for Paige, Warden and their allies.

The Song Rising is released on March 7th 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb
Series: Fitz and the Fool #3
Also in this series: Fool's Assassin, Fool's Quest, Assassin's Fate
Format: eBook
Pages: 976 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb is probably the book from 2017 I’m most anxious to get my hands on, but at the same time I’m dreading the most.  This is the final book in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy and, likely, the conclusion to Fitz and the Fool’s story.  Their relationship is one of my top fictional relationships, so I’m expecting to need a box of tissues while reading this book.  Their bond is so beautiful and exquisitely written by Hobb.  I’m certain Hobb will give us a perfect ending to the story, but it may well be bittersweet.  I see from Amazon that the book is over 900 pages; that’s up with GRRM or Brandon Sanderson territory.  Excellent!

Assassin’s Fate will be released on May 9th 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Dark Artifices #2
Also in this series: Lady Midnight
Format: eBook
Pages: 704 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Lord of Shadows is the second in Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices series, set in her Shadowhunters world.  I loved Lady Midnight and am really excited for book two.  The world is awesome and the new characters are wonderfully engaging. This was a pretty easy autobuy for me.  Bring it on.

Lord of Shadows is released on May 23rd 2017.

The Core by Peter V. Brett
Series: The Demon Cycle
Format: eBook
Pages: 448 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
The Core is the fifth and final book in Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle.  Things are now in place for the final confrontation and Arlen and Jardir are ready to take the fight to the Corelings.  Rojer and Leesha will also have a role to play.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one ends.

The Core is released on August 15th 2017.

New Series

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Series: Carve the Mark #1
Format: eBook
Pages: 480 pages
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Divergent author Veronica Roth has a new series coming out next year starting with Carve the Mark.  This is young adult sci-fi/fantasy novel set in a world in which a Force-like current pervades the universe and grants special powers or currentgifts to inhabitants.  We follow two teens, Cyra and Akos, whose worlds collide and who must decide whether to aid or thwart the other.  Although it’s one of my most anticipated reads, I do have some qualms about it.  It has a dual PoV, which Roth didn’t handle so well in Allegiant.  The world could either be amazing or it could be a mess.  I’m still intrigued enough to add this to my most anticipated reads of 2017, so time will tell on which side it falls.

Carve the Mark is released on January 17th 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Format: ARC
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: n/a
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

I admit I cheated here somewhat; I’ve actually already read Caraval by Stephanie Garber and LOVED it (I was lucky enough to pick up a copy at BEA).  It was one of my top reads of 2017 – the characters, the world and the twisty turny plot was breathtaking.  Don’t miss this one.  I’ve added it to my most anticipated reads of 2017 as I’m looking forward to experiencing it again.  I will pick it up in audiobook format as it’s being narrated by Lunar Chronicles narrator Rebecca Soler.  

Caraval is released on January 31st 2017.

Most Anticipated Books of 2017Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Format: eBook
Pages: 480 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is a new series by Broken Empire writer Mark Lawrence.  It’s set in a different world to his previous series and centres on young nun assassin Nona Grey.  It immediately made me think of the His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin Lafevers.  Lawrence is especially skilled at writing interesting, morally gray characters, so I’m very much looking forward to this.

Red Sister is released on April 4th 2017

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Format: eBook
Pages: 512 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunes
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray is a new YA sci-fi series. I don’t know much about it other than the premise that young teen must work together with cantankerous AI to save her planet.  Gray is now an autobuy author for me and I trust that in her hands this will be a fantastic read.

Defy the Stars is released on April 4th 2017

Honorary mentions.  

There are a couple of books which don’t yet have release dates but which may, possibly, if the Fates are kind, be published in 2017.  

The first of these is, of course, George R. R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, book six in the Song of Ice and Fire.  The HBO TV series has bypassed the currently published books at this point, so certain things will be spoiled.  However, I still need to read Martin’s take on things.  Should WoW be be published in 2017 it will go straight to the top of my most anticipated reads.

Finally we have The Thorn of Emberlain, the next in Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards series.  This was originally scheduled for October (I think) of 2016 but was postponed indefinitely.  I’m hoping it will be published in 2017, so let’s hope.

That’s all for this year – which of these upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?

End of Year Survey for 2016

Thank you so much to Jamie of the Perpetual Page Turner for coming up with this end of year survey.  I had planned to write a Best Books of 2016 post – and I probably will still write one to highlight my favourites – but there are some great questions here to review my reading year.

Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read: 87 books
Number of Re-Reads:   Mmmm not sure.  Four or five maybe?
Genre You Read The Most From: YA fantasy

Best in Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

This honour will go to Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  This hasn’t actually been released yet, but I was lucky enough to get a copy at Book Expo of America.  The world of Caraval is just so fantastic and beautifully described and the plot has so many twists and turns.  I can’t wait for you guys to read it in January.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Gemina.  I absolutely adored Illuminae, especially in audiobook format, but two months after picking up the audiobook (I got an ARC at Book Expo of America) I’m still struggling to finish it.  I think it’s because of one particular image early on in the book that really disturbed me and put me off.  I am still valiantly pushing ahead with this, because the audiobook production is top notch.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? 

I was really surprised about how engaged I was by Robert Harris’s Conclave.  At first glance it could be hit or miss; the story of a fictional conclave to choose a new Pope.  In the end it was just so fascinating and gripping I couldn’t put it down.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)

This one probably goes to Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin.  This is an alternate history in which the Nazis won World War II and a young death camp survivor with unique skills must compete for the chance to get close to the Fuhrer.  I ADORED this – it was so beautifully written – and I have regularly mentioned it and its sequel Iron to Iron in my blog and other social media.

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

I really really loved Lady Midnight, the first in Cassandra Clare’s new Dark Artifices series set in her Shadowhunters world.  I loved the new characters, the new setting and the new challenges facing our heroes.  I can’t wait for book two.  

Best sequel:  Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas.  This is the penultimate in Maas’ Throne of Glass series and things are definitely gearing up for the finale.  It promises to be one heck of a series ender.

Best series ender: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.  The second and final part in Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology.  This was excellent, fast paced and was a very satisfying ending to the duology.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

If we’re talking debut author this would be Stephanie Garber for Caraval.  This isn’t out yet; it comes out in January. I picked up a copy of Caraval at BEA and loved, loved loved it.  The world, the characters and writing are all superb. You guys have a treat come next month.

With new to me, I’d probably say Claudia Gray.  I read several books of hers in 2016, some Star Wars novels and her Firebird trilogy, and she has quickly become an auto buy author.  Her writing is immediate and engaging, she has a wonderful grasp of pacing and character and all in all is a really solid writer.  She has a new series coming out next year which I definitely intend to pick up.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

This would be The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson.  This is a novel focussing on the inhabitants of a small village in the south of England in the summer of 1914 and how the start of the first World War affected them.  I don’t read much social historical fiction and this one was excellent.  This was a turning point in British society and it was captured wonderfully. I really was rooting for these characters.  

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Here, I can’t decide between two books.  The first is Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom, the second and final book in her Six of Crows duology.  I was completely invested in these characters and the pacing was relentless.  Unputdownable indeed.

The second was Robert Harris’s Conclave. I’m really not sure how you’d describe it.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, it’s a novel following a fictitious Conclave to choose the next Pope.  Again this is not my usual reading genre.  It’s not really a thriller in the sense that characters are not in mortal danger, but the twists and turns, secrets and revelations of the Conclave, as well an insight into a most secretive process, kept me on the edge of my seat.  

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I will definitely re-read Caraval – see above.  To be more specific, I will pick it up in audiobook format – I recently learned that the awesome Rebecca Soler will be narrating this.  The combination of Garber’s writing and Soler’s narration will make for a wonderful listen.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

I love the cover for Marissa Meyer’s Heartless and also that of Marie Brennan’s The Tropic of Serpents.  Both are gorgeous.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

I really enjoyed reading about young Scorpius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  It was really nice to see a Slytherin who is funny, smart and not particularly interested in the pureblood claptrap spouted by his seniors.  His friendship with Albus was excellent.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi.  Now, while I can’t say I loved this book (it really wasn’t my cup of tea) I cannot deny that Mafi’s writing was simply beautiful  Her turns of phrase were exquisite.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Pass. 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  I loved this book – why did I wait so long to read it?!?

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

Sorry, I’m blanking here.  Honorable mention though from A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson:

“Suddenly, Olver felt a deep warmth.  He had lost so many people, but one of them… one… had come back from him.”  Even now, years later that brings tears to my eyes.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Longest book: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon at 880 pages
Shorted book: Watson meets Sherlock (the Cat Chronicles) by Keith Whiting at 36 pages 

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

There were points in Brent Weeks’ Blood Mirror where I really felt, “oh crap, he’s really going to go there.”  However, we’ll need to wait until book five to know how things play out.  If it does go as I suspect it will be a real shocker.  Weeks is known for pulling the rug out from under his readers.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Without a shadow of a doubt this is Kip and Tisis from Brent Weeks’ The Blood Mirror.  Some context for those unfamiliar with Weeks’ epic fantasy Lightbringer series; Kip and Tisis are two older teens who due to political expediency must marry and more importantly, consummate that marriage, in order to prevent war.  Despite the fantastical context, Weeks has written a beautiful description of that first serious relationship where you must move on from having a crush on someone to living with them, supporting them and loving them on a day to day basis, getting to know their quirks and the reality of being in a long term relationship.  Both Kip and Tisis make mistakes and learn from them and their relationship is the stronger for it.  It is a thing of beauty.  

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Here I think I’ll go with Scorpius and Albus in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I really enjoyed their banter.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

For me this is Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare.  I love her Shadowhunters world, and her newest series got off to a great start with this one.  I especially enjoyed seeing a post Dark War world with the Shadowhunters.

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Pass

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Actually, there were no characters who leapt out at me this year.  Pity.

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

Caraval – see above

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Caraval – see above

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne.  This is a short story in Hearne’s Iron Druid series told from the perspective of Oberon, the Irish Wolfhound.  it was very amusing, especially in audiobook format.  HOWEVER.  I will say that I don’t think I would have liked a full novel like this.  Oberon is great, but in smaller doses.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

The Summer Before the War.  I listened to this in audiobook format and there was one particular scene in this book where I had to move to the side of the street to catch my breath it hit me so hard.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Hmmmm.  Most of the books I’ve read have been pretty well published so this is quite a tough one.  I will go with On the Merits of Unnaturalness by Samantha Shannon.  This is a companion volume to her Bone Season series and provides some excellent background and context for the events of the series.  I would have liked to have seen this published much earlier as it really enhanced my enjoyment of the series and increased my anticipation for book three.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Summer Before the War.  Damn.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

For this category I will go with Replica by Lauren Oliver. The format makes this somewhat unique, even if the content is your average YA story.  Replica is the story of Gemma and Lyra.  The novel part of this is that you can either read Lyra’s story through then Gamma’s or read alternating chapters in their storylines which dovetail beautifully.  Oliver put a great deal of work into aligning the storylines.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Yeah, here I have to go with Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, the reimagining of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as part of the Austen Project.  I love Pride and Prejudice, so it hurt my soul to see these beloved characters treated in such a fashion. 

Your Blogging Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

Caraval yadda yadda yadda

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

I am particularly fond of my review of Lady Midnight – I felt I made some interesting points.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

In August, I wrote a long blog post on my dealings with my lymphedema, the condition which causes my legs to swell like sausages and carries a high risk of serious infection.  I wrote the post after a stay in hospital and it was one of my most personal posts.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

This year for the first time I attended Book Expo of America in Chicago.  That was the most amazing experience, getting to mix with my favourite authors and other bookworms.  I wish I could do it every year.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

BEA – see above.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

In September I moved to a new role at work, one which takes a lot of time and energy.  It has left me with much less time and energy for reading which is a real shame.  My blogging has been very sporadic of late due to this.  Also, I’ve not been able to take as much pleasure in it as I would like.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My review of Helen Fielding’s Mad About the Boy still gets a significant amount of hits even though I wrote it a few years ago!  Of posts I wrote this year, my post on my most anticipated reads for 2016 is the most popular.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I’m happy if my readers enjoy any of my posts!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Pass

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Yes!  I completed my GoodReads challenge and read 87 (probably 88 or 89 by year’s end) books for a challenge of 80.

Looking ahead

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

As I said, I’m still struggling with Gemina.  I will try to finish it in 2017.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

This is probably Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare, the next in her Dark Artifices series.

An honorary mention to George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, which doesn’t yet have a release date.  I suppose there’s a chance it will be released in 2017…

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Claudia Gray has a new book out in 2017 called Defy the Stars.  I don’t know a great deal about this except that it’s a sci-fi novel in which a young woman and an AI have to work together reluctantly.  It sounds intriguing and in Gray’s hands very promising.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb, which has a May 2017 release date.  In all honesty, I’m both anticipating and dreading this.  This is the final book in the trilogy and I fear for our assassin’s fate.  Fitz and the Fool have one of my top three fictional relationships and I want to know if they can work things out.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

I hope to get my new role at work under control and to get back to a regular blogging schedule.  

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Do I really need to say Caraval?

Thanks for reading – let me know in the comments what your favourite books of 2016 were and which ones you’re most anticipating for 2017.

Reading roundup – December 4th 2016

Hello and here I am again with another reading roundup.

Since my last reading roundup, I’ve read five books and COMPLETED MY GOODREADS CHALLENGE!  Go me!  This year so far I have read/listened to 83 books to beat my goal  of 80.  I was wondering if I’d make the challenge this year given how busy my new role has kept me.

Of the books I’ve read since the last roundup the one I enjoyed most was probably Catalyst: A Rogue One Story by James Luceno, which I listened to in audiobook format.  I almost always listen to Star Wars in audiobook format because the narrators, production and sound effects are invariably excellent.  This really brings something special to the story.  Catalyst: A Rogue One Story is a prequel to Star Wars: Rogue One and tells the story of the construction of the first Death Star.  

I really loved this story despite it being somewhat slow and lacking in action.  The characters were beautifully written and the cat and mouse games between Erso, Krennic and Tarkin were excellent.  Galen Erso is a fascinating character with his passion for knowledge blinding him to political issues.  While I don’t believe it spoils the Rogue One movie, it does certainly give some fascinating background information on it.  I gave Catalyst: A Rogue One Story four and half stars out of five.

A close second in terms of enjoyment was A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray.  This is the third and final entry in Gray’s Firebird trilogy, a young adult time travel adventure. A Million Worlds with You was a fitting finale to the series, and solidifies my impression of Gray as an extremely solid and gifted storyteller.  This series is well worth checking out if you’ve an interest in time travel.  I gave A Million Worlds with You four stars out of five.

Another solid series entry I listened to recently was Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, book seven of The Dresden Files.  This is another series I invariably listen to in audiobook format due to the excellence of James Marsters’ narration.  He IS Harry Dresden.  Dead Beat has a fun, fast paced mystery and sets up some interesting developments for future books.  I gave Dead Beat four stars out of five.

After some hesitation I did eventually purchase and read The Morning Star by Marie Lu.  I’d enjoyed The Young Elites, but not necessarily enough to want to continue with the series.  I’d heard good things about the finale, so I did pick it up.  I enjoyed it but didn’t love it.  The theme of mortal enemies having to work together for the greater good and Adelina’s journey were interesting and well done.  I gave The Morning Star three and a half stars out of five.

One book I consigned to my did not finish pile was Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist, written and narrated by Fisher herself.  I bought it somewhat on an impulse because the Audible sample was funny and engaging.  Fisher’s narration was especially on point.  I think my issue with this audiobook was that the focus was not what I anticipated, despite the recent publicity about certain revelations.  I was looking more for behind the scenes insight into the making of Star Wars.  This is the first of Fisher’s autobiographies I have read and perhaps one of the others may have the focus I was hoping for.

Currently, I’m reading and enjoying:  

Scythe by Neal Schusterman.  This is the first in a YA series set in a world in which humanity has conquered death and humans are basically immortal.  In order to prevent overpopulation, a group of people known as scythes are tasked with killing a certain quota of people.  We follow two apprentice scythes, Citra and Rowan as they struggle to learn their trade and navigate the murky waters of scythe politics.  I’m about 70% of the way through it and am really fascinated by the world Shusterman has created.  It’s definitely worth picking up.

I’m also reading/listening to The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, the final entry in her YA Tearling series.  I had issues with book one, The Queen of the Tearling, and indeed hadn’t planned to continue with the series.  Some positive reviews of book two, The Invasion of the Tearling, convinced me to give it another go.  I still had issues, but it was a significant improvement for me.  I am now about a third of the way through book three, The Fate of the Tearling and heavily invested.

Upcoming releases

In the month of December there are two releases about which I am super excited.

The Pale Dreamer by Samantha Shannon.  This is a prequel to Shannon’s Bone Season series, a series which has grown on me more and more.  By the time On the Merits of Unnaturalness was released I was completely hooked.  I’m very much looking forward to listening to the beginnings of Paige Mahoney’s story before The Song Rising is released in March.

Finally of course on December 16th we have the audiobook of Star Wars Rogue One.  That is an auto buy for me.

That’s all I have for today.  Back soon with my yearly roundup.

Reading roundup – November 12th 2016

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Since my last roundup I have read two pretty good books which I’d like to share with you.

Reading roundup – November 12th 2016The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
Series: Court of Fives #2
Also in this series: Court of Fives
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Georgia Dolenz
Length: 13 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

I received an Advance Reader Copy of The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott at BEA.  It’s been on my TBR for a while, but it’s only recently I read it.  The Poisoned Blade is the second book in a planned trilogy (I believe) and continues the story of Jessamy, a young woman caught between two cultures whose passion in life is playing the game of Fives.  In this second book, Jes is drawn into court politics and has to deal with the fallout of her decisions in book one.  I listened to The Poisoned Blade in audiobook format and very much enjoyed Georgia Dolenz’s narration.

What I liked

The characters.  I really liked our protagonist, Jessamy.  Her conflicts between her love for the Fives, her need to protect her family, the limitations placed on her by her heritage and her affection for Kal were expertly written.  

The pacing.  The Poisoned Blade didn’t suffer from middle book syndrome at all.  There were enough conficts and resolutions to keep me well satisfied.  I will certainly be picking up the final book in the trilogy.  Personally, I’ve found Elliott’s series lose steam as they go on and for that reason I’ve not finished many of them.  This one I do intend to finish.

The worldbuilding.  Continuing on from Court of Fives, Elliott has created a wonderful world for our characters to live in.  

What I didn’t like

There was little I didn’t enjoy about The Poisoned Blade.  It is my favourite of Elliott’s series.  

I gave it four stars out of five.

My review of Heartless Reading roundup – November 12th 2016Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Format: eBook
Pages: 464 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Probably my most anticipated release of the year, Heartless is Lunar Chronicles author Marissa Meyer’s origin story of Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts.  I really wanted to listen to this in audiobook format, however technical issues meant that it wasn’t available to Canadians on Audible.com for several days after release.  This was rather disappointing as i loved Rebecca Soler’s narration of the Lunar Chronicles.  I ended up reading it on my Kindle.

What I liked

The writing style.  I really loved Meyer’s, fresh, immediate writing style from the Lunar Chronicles and Heartless is no different.  This time it’s spiced with Lewis Caroll whimsy and the blend is magical. As a note, it probably does help if you’re familiar with both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

What I didn’t like

Somewhat predictable.  Of course, as an origin story, it’s tricky to be completely unpredictable.  There’s no escaping the fact that Catherine becomes the cold hearted Queen of Hearts.  However, certain other plot points were more easily guessed than I would have liked them to be.

Character development.  I felt this was better done in Fairest.  There was a more logical progression in Levana’s transformation to the wicked Queen than Cath’s becoming the Queen of Hearts.  Cath is much more of a positive character at the beginning, so her transformation was always going to be more difficult to plot.  At times I felt each step in Cath’s journey was a little unexpected, unearned or not wholly justified by the steps before.

In summary, I did enjoy Heartless, but I prefer the Lunar Chronicles.  I gave Heartless four stars out of five.

In other news:

I am currently obsessed with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Yes, I know, it’s not released until next week, but everything I’ve seen and heard about it indicates it’s going to be absolutely magical.  Rowling’s Wizarding World in 1920s New York?  Sign me up!  I’m especially loving all the hints about Grindelwald and his rise to power in Europe.  There must be some wonderful stories to tell there. I can’t be the only bookworm who has planned a day off work around a book release, surely?  Not only is the movie released on November 18th, but we also get a book of the script and a LEGO Dimensions Story Pack!  I can’t wait!

Also this week I have been watching Netflix The Crown, the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne and the first few years of her reign.  I’m enjoying it very much; Clare Foy has taken the role of the Queen, with former Doctor Who Matt Smith as Prince Philip,  Both are giving excellent portrayals and I recommend this series.

That’s all for now folks.  Back soon!

four-stars

Reading roundup – October 23 2016

Hello, once again, welcome to my belated reading roundup.  My new role at work has kept me extremely busy, we had guests and I’ve been dealing with a sick, unhappy kitty.  I swear cats can smell one grain of crushed up medication in a spoonful of delicious, tasty food. I’m really sorry for the forced pill popping Lushka, but I did try it the easy way first. Fortunately, she seems to be on the mend.  Anyway, enough of the excuses.  Since my last roundup I’ve read three books and I’m part way through three others.

What I read

The first book I read was The Young Elites by Marie Lu.  This is the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy telling the story of Adelina, who, like some other young people, has been left with special powers after an illness.  Marie Lu has said her inspiration for Adelina was Darth Vader, and being aware of this helped me a lot – Adelina is a rather dark character.  While I enjoyed the book – I loved the Renaissance style setting – a lot, it didn’t leave me with any desire at all to pick up the sequels.  Strangely, I had the same reaction to Lu’s earlier trilogy Legend.  I really enjoyed Legend, but I have never had a strong motivation to read Prodigy and Champion.  While I am interested to hear if Adelina gets an Anakin Skywalker type redemption, I’m not certain that I am invested enough to want to spend my precious time reading two more books to find out.  Perhaps those of you who have read The Rose Society and The Midnight Star could let me know your thoughts in the comments.  I gave The Young Elites three stars out of five.

The second book I started was one I consigned to the Did Not Finish pile, The Jewel by Amy Ewing.  This is a young adult dystopian novel I borrowed from the library after reading the first five chapters via Epic Reads Firsts,   Further reading confirmed for what I suspected; it was an attempt to cover similar themes to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and when I hit the point where the instalove was introduced I decided The Jewel was not for me.  If the themes of female agency and ownership of one’s reproductive system are of interest to you, I’d direct you to The Handmaid’s Tale rather than The Jewel, in particular, Claire Danes’ audiobook version.  

This week I finished Rae Carson’s Like a River Glorious, her sequel to Walk on Earth a Stranger.  This is a YA historical fantasy trilogy set in the time of the California Gold Rush.  I very much enjoyed the first book and loved the second one.  Carson has done extensive research into the time period in which the novels are set, and it shows.  The books are so atmospheric and really gave me the impression I was there.  The fantasy element is very subtle, but it does add to the story.  My one comment would be that this is the second book in a trilogy, yet it felt everything was wrapped up quite well.  Hints dropped suggest the third book may well deal with California’s upcoming statehood and what that implies for Leah and her friends.  That would be interesting and I’d certainly read it.  I gave Like a River Glorious four stars out of five.

What I’m reading

Currently, I’m reading/listening to three books.  The first of these is Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  This is the sequel to Illuminae which I adored.  I received an Advance Reader Copy of Gemina at BEA, but I chose to wait for the audiobook which was released on October 18th.  The audiobook for Illuminae was a wonderful multi-voice creation which won an Audie award and the Gemina audiobook is equally as excellent so far.  I’m reading my ARC while listening to the audiobook, so I’m only able to read this when I can sit down and focus on it.

For commuting/short breaks I have And I Darken by Kiersten White.  This is an adaptation of the Vlad the Impaler storyline, except casting Vlad as a young teenage girl.  I seem to be reading books with dark characters these days!  So far I’m enjoying it.

Finally, in bed at night I’m listening to the Graphic Audio production of Brent Weeks’ The Broken Eye, the third in his Lightbringer series.  This is in preparation for the release of Blood Mirror next week.  For those of you unfamiliar with Graphic Audio these are radio play like adaptations of novels complete with a full voice cast, original music and sound effects.  Generally these are very good, although I often wish the music would be toned down somewhat.  These Graphic Audio productions do provide an interesting viewpoint on Brent Weeks’ books and I would recommend them.  However, we have the inimitable Simon Vance narrating the audiobooks which is nearly as good!

What I want to read

There are some excellent books coming out in the next month, including The Blood Mirror.  Need I say I’ll be picking up The Blood Mirror in audiobook format to hear Simon Vance’s narration?  Other books I’m highly anticipating are:

A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray.  This is the third and final book in the Firebird series which follows protagonist Marguerite as she tries to prevent the evil Triad from causing chaos across the multiple dimensions.  I’ve loved the first two books in the series and I’m looking forward to seeing how Gray ties up the story.  A Million Worlds with You is released on November 1st, and I will be picking it up in audiobook form due to Tavia Gilbert’s excellent narration.

On November 8th we have the release of one of my most anticipated releases of the year, Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  This is a standalone retelling of the origin of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  I adored Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and I’m excited to read this one.

J.K Rowling is releasing the script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them on November 18th, the same day as the film.  Words can’t describe how much I am anticipating this movie.  The Wizarding World in 1920s New York?  Yes please!  I am especially intrigued by the mentions of Grindelwald in the trailer and the Deathly Hallows/Grindelwald symbol on Percival Graves’ character poster.  This sounds as if it’s a fascinating time in wizarding history and I can’t wait to find out more.

That’s all I have for today.  Have a good week and speak soon.

Reading roundup – October 10th 2016

Hello and here I am again with a reading roundup.  Yes, I know it’s been ages since I rounded up my reading.  My new role has been keeping me very, very busy, which is good, I guess.  I’d still rather be reading though!

Despite being so busy, there are seven books I’d like to discuss with you which I’ve read since my last roundup.  I’m not sure if it was just because I was tired, but sadly very few of them really rang my bell.  More of them were good, but no cigar.  

The first book I read was Furthermore by Shatter Me author Tahereh Mafi.  This is Mafi’s first foray into middle grade and tells the story of young Alice who must venture into the world of Furthermore to rescue her father.  I really loved the writing style in Furthermore – Mafi’s descriptions were lyrical and gorgeous.  Unusually, Mafi regularly breaks the fourth wall in this novel to give the author’s viewpoint on Alice’s reactions, which I adored.  It reminded me of Noel Langley’s Land of Green Ginger which was one of my favourite books as a child because of a similar technique.  It’s worth reading this book simply for the chapter titles as well – they were a real treat.  In the end though I gave Furthermore only three and a half stars out of five for one reason alone.  The style of whimsy in this book, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, is one that I personally really don’t enjoy.  I prefer my fantasy to have more rules.  That is a purely personal opinion and one you may not share.

One of the books that I did very much enjoy was Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.  I really should have picked up that one sooner.  This was one I picked up the sample from Amazon and was immediately hooked.  Don’t you just love when that happens?  I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Wil Wheaton.  I loved everything about this book.  The plot, the pacing, the characters and the narration were all excellent, and I’m a sucker for a treasure hunt across virtual reality.  Some of the Eighties’ pop culture references passed me by, but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.  I gave Ready Player One five stars out of five.

Replica by Lauren Oliver is a book I picked up at BEA earlier this year and it was moved up my TBR by the Epic Reads Firsts which gives a preview of the first five chapters.  The formatting of this book is the most interesting thing about it.  The story is told from two perspectives; Gemma’s and Lyra’s.  The hard copy is flippable with each girl’s story making one half of the novel.  You can either read each perspective straight through before swapping to the other or you can alternate, reading one chapter from each girl’s point of view.  I chose to alternate, and was very impressed by the way the two stories dovetail together.  Oliver has clearly put a lot of work into the timeline and the way the information is put across.  I understand the audiobook has a similar feature where you can choose how to listen.  I’m still considering buying it to check it out.

However, while the format was novel and well done, neither the characters nor the storyline really gripped me.  I understand a sequel is in the works and the ending is certainly open ended, but I’ve not yet decided if I’ll continue the series.  I gave Replica three and a half stars out of five.

Next up was The Swan Riders by Erin Bow, the sequel to The Scorpion Rules.  The Scorpion Rules had a kick ass ending and I was excited to find out what was going to happen next to Greta, Talis and their companions.  The complexity really ramps up in this book and it requires a fair amount of concentration to keep up with who is who, who’s in love with whom, who’s human, who’s AI and who’s a bit of both, and what a particular character’s motivation is at any given point in the story.  For this reason, I think if I’d been less busy at work and more able to concentrate on it, I’d have enjoyed it more.  This is a case where the audiobook might have helped a lot as well as I’m sure the narrator Madeleine Maby would have helped clarify what personality any given character is portraying at the time.  I gave The Swan Riders four stars out of five.

Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom was the second book I absolutely devoured this month.  This is the second and final book in the Six of Crows duology.  I’d been looking forward to it, but not quite counting down the hours until it hit my Audible download queue, even after a quick review of Six of Crows.  That changed when I got into it.  I found myself super invested in all Bardugo’s wonderful characters and rooting for them.  Bardugo is a master of show, don’t tell when it comes to her characters.  The reader must often read between the lines for what’s really going on with them and what their feelings and motivations are.  That significantly increased my investment in their stories.  As the conclusion to the duology Crooked Kingdom was a wonderful ending.  I listened to Crooked Kingdom in audiobook format – the narrator list reads like a who’s who of YA narration and every single PoV was fantastically narrated.  I gave Cooked Kingdom five stars out of five.

Those of you who have followed my reviews know that I do enjoy Rick Riordan’s writing so I was very much looking forward to The Hammer of Thor, the second in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.  While I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped.  Again, maybe it’s because I was tired from work, and I’m also very familiar with Riordan’s humour now.  While I found the character of Alex very interesting and nicely written, and I admire Riordan for tackling transgender issues, at times I felt I was reading A Very Special Episode of Magnus Chase.  I felt he could have got the point across in a more subtle manner.  I also didn’t feel particularly invested in the story this time around.  I gave The Hammer of Thor three stars out of five.

The final book I listened to in the last few weeks was The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne.  This is a short novella in his Iron Druid series this time told from the perspective of the druid’s Irish wolfhound, Oberon.  Now, Oberon is one of my favourite characters in the series and I was especially excited to have a novella from his perspective.  I chose to listen to this in audiobook because of Luke Daniels’s wonderful narration.  I really enjoy his Oberon voice, however I was distracted by concern that using that voice for such an extended period of time would be painful for him!  I also found that Oberon is best used as seasoning – a little of him is wonderful, but I’m not certain I’d want to hear a whole novel from his perspective again.  I gave The Purloined Poodle four stars out of five.

So here you have it, what I’ve been reading/listening to over the last few weeks.  Have you read any of these?  Let me know in the comments.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers