MID YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT TAG

Hello everyone! Sorry for being very M.I.A lately, this exam season was rough. I thought I’d revive this blog with a good tag! I’ve scoured my ‘read-in-2017’ shelf on goodreads (side note: thank you GR for existing, you make tags so much easier) and of the 40 something books I’ve read so far, this is what I was able to conjure up…

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Best book you’ve read so far in 2017

It’s a three way tie between Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017

I haven’t read many sequels and the few I have read haven’t been that enjoyable… so I’ve decided to go with Becky Albertalli’s companion novel to Simon vs. The Homosapiens agenda; The Upside of Unrequited

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

I have been number one of the waitlist for Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare for months and I can’t handle the wait much longer

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

!!!Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo!!! Have I made my excitement clear?!!!

Biggest disappointment

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica, there are a few reasons I disliked this and the majority can be attributed to the fact I listened to it via audiobook

Biggest surprise

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard – I had heard many criticisms about this and my expectations were a little low, however I was so charmed by the characters and impressed with the intricacy of this world. I can’t wait to see how it’s improved upon in the forthcoming books.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner – I honestly didn’t want to read about a girl who “isn’t like the other girls” but this book surprisingly didn’t go down that road and this retelling of Beauty and the Beast was really enjoyable.

Favourite new author (debut or new to you)

Susan Dennard, author of the Witchland series and Something Strange and Deadly series.

Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give.

Newest fictional crush

Merik from Truthwitch gives me Chaol Westfall vibes circa Crown of Midnight and I was LIVING for it.

Newest favourite character

Madeline McKenzie from Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is my soul sister

Book that made you cry

The Upside of Unrequited was so relatable and The Hate U Give was too real and I love them both so much even though they made me cry.

Book that made you happy

Wonder Woman Volume Two: Year One – the characters from this book were so charming and I loved seeing their relationships with one another develop. (Also it’s the first WW graphic novel I’ve truly enjoyed.)

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

I honestly buy very little books per year, so I will have to go with a library book I technically ‘received’… which would be the UK edition of Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer. So. Damn. Beautiful.

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

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare – I just need this in my life already

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – apparently this series improves? (well, that statement is only true if you weren’t 100% satisfied with ACOTAR)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I’ve been meaning to read this one since it’s release but the hype still hasn’t DIED

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This tag was co-created by readlikewildfire and earlgreybooks!

Thanks for reading as always!

Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

Todays discussion is a Top 5 Wednesday topic where we’ll be discussing favourite books that feature LGBTQ+ characters or are by LGBTQ+ authors. Here is a link to the group if you’d like to participate in any discussions.

I’m really excited for today’s discussion, as I haven’t done a T5W in a while. But I’m also really excited because as a queer reader, I get to talk about LGBTQ+ books.

Of course I had to cheat this week and recommend a little over five books – so hopefully there will be something for everybody looking to get into LGBT+ fiction.

Highly Commended –  If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

The protagonist, Sahar is so thoughtful and I loved following her stream of conscious  Although this book features some mature themes, I do think it’s accessible for a variety of audiences. This book discusses the religious and political aspects regarding homosexuality in Iran exceptionally well.

Honourable Mention – None of The Above by I.W. Gregorio 

The exposition of intersexuality by Gregorio was great. The author does a great job of immersing the reader into Kristen’s shoes, so the reader experiences everything alongside the narrator. More over, the way Gregorio personified her characters was great. I remember it being just a little bit juvenile for me, but other than that it was a great read.

5, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

The most polarizing aspects of this book are the writing style, the main protagonist Aristotle and also the plot or lack thereof. However it absolutely captivated me and I loved reading about Ari and Dante’s budding relationship, it was very sweet and heartfelt. This book is both racially and sexually diverse and the representation of Mexican culture and the family dynamics was particularly great.

4. Jerkbait by Mia Siergert 

An incredibly heartwarming read that deals with a plethora of heavy subjects such as suicide, homophobia and gender stereotyping. Tristan is such a likeable narrator, and watching his relationship with his twin Robbie blossom was one of my favourite aspects of the story. Whilst the story is in Tristan’s perspective, the author also excellently illustrates Robbie’s tragic story unfold through Tristan’s eyes.

3. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jandy Nelson’s heavy metaphorically induced writing style made me quite nostalgic about Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me Trilogy. Initially I felt very alienated by it, but as I got to know the characters and essentially became apart of their complicated relationships – I couldn’t help but love this story. In a dual then and now perspective, Nelson illustrates heartbreaking moments between the twins and their journey to reconciliation.

2. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Of all the books I’m recommending to you today, this book is most definitely the tamest in regards to subject matter. It’s a cute, fluffy juvenile read, that felt really modern and I truly believe you can’t go wrong with it if that’s what you’re looking for. The progression of story was great as well. I can’t describe it to you other than how natural it felt. The author manages to construct really meaningful relationships between Simon and his friends and family and also Blue via emails. Also, the book was overall laugh out loud funny.

5. Cam Girl by Elliot Wake (formerly Leah Raeder)

Elliot Wake is one of my favourite authors. He has a hard-hitting, raw prose that is also beautifully lyrical. This book also deals with a lot of societal issues that I really appreciated and is both racially and sexually diverse. Wake is a transgender author, and has other LGBT+ related novels such as Black Iris and Bad Boy.  A lot of his work I would say is relatively dark and mature.

Thank you so much for reading my T5W list. If you have any LGBT+ books to recommend me please let me know in the comment section!

Justice League Dark, Volume Three: The Death of Magic

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Spoiler Free Review

Graphic Novels | DC Comics

Justice League Dark #3.0

My Rating: ★★★

From the three stars I’m sure you can gather I really enjoyed this graphic novel. And I can confirm I definitely did. I don’t think I liked it as much as Justice League Dark, Volume 2: The Books of Magic, as I did have some slight problems with it.

My first criticism is the very random and out of the blue romance between Deadman and Madame Xanadu. There was absolutely zero foreshadowing for this romance, in fact, I can barely remember a time they had a substantial conversation. In hindsight, I can see this is just a minor flaw but up until this point I was really enjoying the story-telling. Although had it been handled better, I can really see Deadman and Madame Xanadu becoming an item.

My second criticism is the biggest gripe I have with this graphic novel and it’s that Zatanna was barely in it. Was she in another graphic novel at this point in time and that’s why she wasn’t able to be in JLD? I’m not sure. However it would’ve been nice to have a more ‘human’ character on the team as well as another female character.

Apart from those slight gripes, I found the story really compelling. My favourite thing about Justice League Dark is that the basis of these stories are rooted and magic and I love it. Also, unlike a few graphic novels I’ve read this one felt really consistent with the story through-out and each issue intertwined with one another really well. The dialogue between the characters is typical very witty and I love the platonic chemistry they share. Although each character is great, Constantine provides the most comic relief and it’s fantastic.

There are also some guest appearances from the Flash and Swamp Thing! I’ve yet to read a graphic novel with Swamp Thing, and it’s always great to meet a new character in the DC Universe. I’m a huge fan of the Flash, courtesy of the CW’s show, as well as Geoff John’s Justice League, Volume 1: Origin series. Also I think guest appearances are really great as it livens up the story a little more and sometimes makes it a little more exciting when you add a new dynamic into the team.

I’m highly anticipating the next volume in this series (which will be whenever my library decides to get it!) and I have my fingers crossed for the return of Zatanna!

Birds of Prey, Volume One: Trouble in Mind

13532148I was really looking forward to Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Trouble in Mind. Perhaps I hyped myself up for it a little too much, because ultimately I’m feeling a tad disappointed.

As a relatively new comic reader, I was convinced that it would be great to get into these worlds through The New 52 titles. But I’m starting to notice a pattern with these titles and that is, they feel less like ‘new’ stories. I think it’s really misleading to attach ‘new’ to something, because I personally would anticipate reading about an origin story. Unfortunately Birds of Prey didn’t feel like an origin story, and I was more or less thrown into the deep end with this one.

This criticism doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the story. I think it has a lot of potential. But unfortunately because there was very little set up to the story and the characters, consequently I didn’t feel hugely connected to either. Black Canary and Starling (whom I’ve never even heard of before this comic, so she must be new to the DC world) are essentially already in a team before the story starts. I would’ve liked to see their formation as a team, seeing as this graphic is about said team.

I also thought the story-telling was quite weak. It felt very plain and that came off as quite juvenile to me. (But I will say that as of late, I’ve been on a huge fantasy bender, and so I could just used to more intricate writing styles.) Also at times I felt that I was experiencing over exposition. The story would be told through inner-monologue, and it was like having the plot spelled out to me. Instead, why not have the characters engage in dialogue?

Something I really enjoyed was the character designs and their costumes, I really liked how they reflected the character and who they are. Poison Ivy in particular looked really cool and I hadn’t seen her stylised that way before. I’m still unsure if she was wearing a suit, but she had these really cool black tendrils that would change on her face. Although the art was mainly consistent through-out the volume, I did notice a character had gone from having tan skin to whiter skin. I literally thought he was a whole other person. I understand they employ different artists sometimes from issue to issue, but if some things could just remain to avoid confusion on this idiots behalf (I’m talking about me here btw) that’d be great.

Despite not liking the first installment, I will definitely give this series a chance. The writer was clever and left this volume on a good cliffhanger that makes me really want to pick up the next volume!

Warbreaker by Brandon Sander

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Spoiler Free Review

High Fantasy 

Warbreaker #1.0

My Rating: ★★★★☆

This book has truly left an impression on me. I know I didn’t give this book a perfect rating (which I will discuss further on) but rating aside, I believe this is such a sensational fantasy book for many reasons. It has definitely made an impact on my reading and has set the bar pretty high for future fantasy books.

Warbreaker tells the story of two Idrian Princesses, Vivenna and Siri. Vivenna is in an arranged marriage via a treaty to the powerful God King who resides in Hallandren – a kingdom that couldn’t be any more different to Idris. When it comes time for Vivenna to be married, the King of Idris has a change of heart and decides Vivenna is too valuable for Idris’ future and sends his youngest and somewhat rebellious daughter Siri in Vivenna’s place.

The world of Warbreaker is narrated primarily through three perspectives, with additional chapters (but nowhere near as prominent) from secondary characters. I couldn’t imagine a better way to tell the story. Having these three particular characters narrate most of Warbreaker was fantastic as they are each essentially thrown into new situations, scenarios and surroundings. Therefore as the character learns about the world around them, the reader can come to understand the world better too.

Our first narrator is Siri, the King of Idris’ youngest child, and arguably the most mischievous one. As the youngest of four, Siri is often without responsibilities and pressure her elder siblings have. That is until she is unexpectedly sent to marry the God King in Hallandren. Secondly there is Vivenna, the eldest chid of the Idrian King. Upon finding out that she will no longer be married to the God King, Vivenna experiences a brief moment of relief, before finding out her sister Siri has been sent in her place. Vivenna feels robbed by this action, as she has spent her entire life preparing to be the perfect bride. Consequently, she secretly leaves Idris for Hallandren with plans to save her younger, more naive, sister. But her path takes a turn when she befriends a group of mercenaries. Lastly, there is the returned God, Lightsong, who simply wants leave a simple life in the palace amongst the gods. But with his kingdom potentially on the brink of war, he finds himself unwillingly drawn into the politics at court.

There is – what I consider to be very interesting – a fantastic magic system that exists within this world known as ‘Awakening.’ Just a forewarning, don’t let my explanation of this system deter you from reading, Sanderson explains it much more thoroughly (and better) than I will. Essentially every character contains a ‘BioChromatic Breath’ which draws upon colour for power. This Breath is what enables practicing mages to awaken objects. Once an object is awoken, a mage can use the object to assist them as they wish. This Breath is also transferable between people and the more Breath someone has, the powerful they are.

Warbreaker has some of the best world building in a book I have ever witnessed. Granted, the book I reader prior to this had some of the worst and perhaps I noticed this aspect more than I usually do. As someone who is easily irritated by over exposition, I was truly impressed. Sanderson executes this very cleverly. He makes it interesting for the reading, as if we’re stepping right into the protagonist’s shoes.

Unfortunately I didn’t rate this book perfectly because it did take me a while to read. It is admittedly one of the longest books I’ve read. I will contradict myself with this statement: although I loved the depth of this world, at times it did drag a little. I will say that despite it’s density it was still incredibly readable. For example, if I were to read a George R.R. Martin book, I could not pay attention if I was tired in the slightest. But despite the intricacy of the world in Warbreaker, I was still able to push through tiredness to read it.

Although I recently found out there will be a sequel to Warbreaker, this book works excellently as a standalone. I highly recommend this book to any reader who likes a slow paced high fantasy book. I would also personally say its a good entry point into Sanderson’s books

My Current Favourite Science Fiction and Fantasy Books!

Todays discussion is a Top 5 Wednesday topic. Here is the link to the group page for any further information or if you’d like to do these topics yourself!

I didn’t really have to think long and hard about todays list – these books are easily some of my favourite books in general and I’ve rated all either a four or five stars!

5. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Although the fantasy aspects of book one are really underdeveloped, and I think that aspect is largely over-shadowed by the romance a bit. (Which I personally don’t mind at all.) But Lia, main character, was such a fantastic heroine and had me enthralled the entirety of the story that I just had to have this book on my list. I believe in the second book – The Heart of Betrayal – the fantasy fleshed out a lot more.

4. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Poison Study, aside from being excellently written, is void of a lot of typical young adult tropes that are more prevalent in many young adult fantasy books today. Which makes it an incredibly refreshing to read. Yelena is a fantastic heroine, who perseveres through a lot despite the internal and external struggles she faces.

3. The Star Thief by Jamie Grey

The Star Thief is truly an exciting, adventurous science fiction duology. The author is very well versed in science fiction and does an excellent job of illustrating her world to the reader. I would highly recommend this book for people who like heroines such as Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series or Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy series.

2. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

I was incredibly impressed and totally surprised by Vicious. It was a fantastic tale about superheroes – or rather, antiheroes – and moral ambiguity that makes the story incredibly intriguing. It’s told in a then and now perspective, which really adds to the suspense of the novel. Lastly, each character is complex and have a lot of value to the overall story.

1. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Of all the books on this list Warbreak is the one I’ve read most recently and it’s truly left an impression on me. I believe this is such a sensational fantasy book for many reasons. It has definitely made an impact on my reading and has set the bar pretty high for future fantasy books. I am currently working on my review for this book because there is so much I need to say about this book. I encourage any fantasy lover to add this to their TBR pile!

Thanks for reading! 

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

 

the-assassins-bladeSpoiler Free Review

Romance | Fantasy | Young Adult

Throne of Glass Series #0.1 – #0.5

My Rating: ★★★★

The Assassin’s Blade was not high on my to-read list once it was released. This is largely because on the rare occasion I read a novella, I don’t tend to enjoy them very much. However as the release of Queen of Shadow’s neared, I heard there were several things within this book that connected to Maas’ 2015 release Queen of Shadows which had me intrigued.

Without a doubt, I was clearly missing out. This was more than a mere compilation of superficial short stories. The quality of the stories and their respective plots were amazing. Each novella continues on from where the previous left off, and so it really feels like a complete novel.

If I’m being truthful this book may be my favourite in the series thus far. Sarah J Maas really illustrated just how fantastic she is at story telling and the stories within this book give her world incredible depth. She has an qual talent for drawing out moments and making them extremely suspenseful.

We’re introduced to such a variety of characters, some who play a vital part in the series main story and some who attribute to Celaena’s development as a character. Having read Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire prior to reading this – I was immensely excited to be introduced to some of these characters that are mentioned throughout the series. Such as the King of Assassin’s himself Arobynn Hammel and Celaena’s sweetheart Sam Cortland.

I would recommend any fan of the Throne of Glass series pick this up immediately. Each novella was equally fantastic, thrilling and action packed. If you’re new to the series, my best advice would be to read each book in publication order.