The Top 3 Books I Read in March

TC

The Castle – Sophia Bennett

I’ve actually read one book by Sophia Bennett before – ‘The Look’, and I thought it was really good. She has a way with words that makes you unable to put the book down. I read the whole of ‘The Castle’ one Saturday morning, snuggled in bed with the morning sun streaming through my window. It was rather nice! Basically, the main character’s father is missing, thought to be dead, but a combination of factors mean that she thinks he’s actually alive, and so she sets out to find him. I think that one of the reasons it was a favourite this month was how engaging it was. It was an idea unlike anything I’ve read before, and that was partly what made it that interesting.

Story in a sentence – Her father can’t be dead, and Peta is determined to prove it, no matter the cost.

MBY

Me Before You – JoJo Moyes

Ahh, this book. What an emotional rollercoaster. I knew how it was going to end – a result of the movie adaption giving it quite a lot of publicity. But I spent the entire book getting more and more attached to the characters, and hoping with my entire being that it could just not happen. I liked this for so many reasons – I loved Louisa’s spunky personality, and Will’s humour. But personality quirks aside, the book also covered some very thought-provoking subjects – those of severe disability and simply not wanting to be alive any more, and the fight those around the one who’s done with life to convince them otherwise. It was… very emotional. I laughed, I cried, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that book.

Story in a sentence – Will’s sick of living, but Louisa is striving to show him that it’s worth staying alive.

iis

If I Stay – Gayle Forman

What do you do when the people you cared about most aren’t there? That’s the subject this book covers. Gayle Forman’s idea was this – if you had the choice whether to live or die after loosing your family, what would you choose? Which things would make it worth staying – or not worth it. She presents this idea through a car crash. The family of a teenage girl all die in the accident, but the girl remains – badly injured, but alive. She has to decide whether she wants to stay. Gayle Forman explores all the different people and things that help the girl decide whether or not it’s worth staying in a touching way, both in the current moment and through flashbacks. There was this one part, where the girl’s grandfather was talking to her, and saying that it was alright if she didn’t want to stay alive… I cried. The whole story had a very thought-provoking, touching element.

Story in a sentence – If I stay, what’s in it for me?

Advertisements

Weekly Hoard – March week 1

First of all, I’d like to apologise for my absence over this last little while. As you can see, I’m back! Now, on to the Hoard 😀

iotlh

The Island of the Lost Horses – Stacy Gregg

“We came in like a storm tide, a single mass of wild horses…”

Beatriz’s mother studies jellyfish. Which means that, not only have the jellyfish taken over Beatriz’s room, they have dragged Beatriz and her mother out to the tropics. All that was pretty rubbish, until Beatriz came across a horse, living on the island they’re moored by. This horse is a very special horse indeed, and after Beatriz meets the old lady who also lives on the island, she is pulled into an adventure, and learns about something that happened a long time ago to bring the horses to the island. But back in the current time, a wild storm is approaching the island, and the horses must be saved. Beatriz’s mother insists that they head to the mainland, for their safety, but how can Beatriz leave the horses to the dangers of the storm…?

fd

Fearsome Dreamer – Laure Eve

“The sun shimmered and winked at her as she walked…”

What once was known as England now goes by the name of Angle Tar – Angle Tar, the one remaining place in World not to have hooked into ‘Life’, a place of virtual reality that offers escape to anyone in the rest of World. The rest of World is so busy inside Life that they notice nothing outside of it, but behind the scenes, the higher powers are gathering specific people, and training them for a specific purpose. The gathered people are known as ‘Talented’, and posess a skill that nobody else does – they can travel to different places just by thinking about it. But a darker purpose lies behind this collection of Talented, and as Angle Tar and the rest of World battle over the posession of Talented students, the end of the world draws nearer with every moment. Only the Talented can save the world, but they are also the ones holding the power to end it…

lim

Life in Motion – Misty Copeland

“I will forever fight, performing as if it’s my last show. And I will love every minute of it.”

Misty never thought that she could be a ballerina. But the moment she first set foot in a ballet class, the teacher spotted her natural talent, and encouraged her to pursue ballet. And so, Misty was thrust into the crazy world of the ballerina. But although natural talent allowed her to learn at crazy speeds, it wasn’t easy. Not only had she started learning ballet much later than most other students at her level, but she also faced racial predjudice in the industry. But she took everything life threw at her, and fought through, head high, striving every day to reach her dreams, and achieving incredible feats. This is her story…

 

Book Review – Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas

DG

Title: Dragon’s Green

Author: Scarlett Thomas

Genre: Children’s Fantasy

 

 

                                                                                                                                  

Euphemia Truelove is a student at the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled and Strange, a school attended by a great variation of children. These children seem to be either ‘Troubled’ and ‘Strange’, but it’s hard to tell which is which, and there don’t appear to be any ‘Gifted’ children in attendance. When Effie’s grandfather dies, leaving her all his books, and a few special objects, she is distraught. And everything is made worse by the fact that her father has sold all the books, bar one, to a rather odd, suspicious man. Effie is determined to get them back, but she can’t do it alone. With the help of four friends – Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven, she sets out to reclaim her books. But the discovery of the one unsold book pulls her into a strange world, where she must complete the story if she ever wishes to return home…

DESIGN

— Characters —

There are five main characters in this book – Effie, Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven. In the beginning, they are, for the most part, loners, and do not associate with each other. It’s easy to see why – Effie’s a dreamy nobody, Max is a nerd, Wolf a trouble-making athlete… each of these children does and enjoys very different things. They were all quite stereotypical characters, and I felt that they could have been slightly more varied – they can be easily split into categories, and that introduced the potential risk of the entire book sounding like most school movies. Thankfully, however, the book escaped the fate, and managed to bring individuality into the characters. It also gave them some character development. Not a ton, but as this was the first book in a series, I expect there’s more to follow. The main character development, I felt, was that Maximilian became a much more decent guy. He started out as somebody who seemed to manipulate things to fit what he wanted, and took something he shouldn’t. In the end, however, his character had grown enough to be able to admit his wrong, return the items, and make amends.

DESIGN

— Plot —

So, after her grandfather’s disappearance, Effie starts meeting the other four outside of school, and one by one, realises that the objects her grandfather left her are destined for each of the others to own. These objects are called ‘boons’, and the idea is that some specific boons awaken a dormant power in young people who possess them. The five boons that Effie has conveniently each belong to her and the four others, so that all works out nicely.

I enjoyed the plot. It did feel quite like a video game to me – you collect boons, go on quests, and gain or loose life-force depending on your actions, but it was all quite fun. The story moved quickly – the first chapter jumped straight into the action, but it all worked with the idea. There were some amusing characters, such as a terrifying school teacher, and some ‘bad guys’, who the children were up against, as well as a cast of other supporting characters – the princess from a story, a dragon, Effie’s cousins from another world, the parents and siblings of other characters… All in all, the plot was nicely woven and moved smoothly. I did also really like some of the ideas introduced, such as a dragon that looks like a large, slightly scaly human with wings, a school for princesses (some of whom get fed to said dragon), and being able to adventure through books. It was, whilst taking some classic ideas, a tale unlike anything I have ever read before.

DESIGN

— Writing —

This was nicely written. It didn’t strike me as incredible writing, but it was in no way terrible, either. In the beginning it felt a little wordy, especially for a children’s book, but it was only the first few chapters, and soon straightened out. In the terms of point of view, it was in third person, but as different characters were occasionally in different places, that had to be managed. Each different chapter tended to start with the names of the characters, however, and would quickly tell you which characters you were with, so the switches worked neatly. It was also a well-handled set of switches, with each character getting the time they needed, instead of just one chapter. When a good point was reached, it switched to the other characters, but the author gave the characters space to adventure whilst switching between places.

DESIGN

— Cover —

The cover for this book is lovely. It’s quite dark, and is done as a silhouette of a girl emerging from a wood, with a cityscape in front of her, and dragons (yes, dragons!) flying above the city. The colours are all very dark and mysterious, with lots of blues and purples. I just had one problem with it. You see, parts of the cover were made to glow in the dark (which is very cool), but they wrote ON THE COVER that ‘this book glows in the dark’! For me, it distracts from the rest of the cover. Everything else about it was cool, it’s just that one little thing. The rest is beautiful (and I tested the glow in the dark, and it works, which is pretty neat!).

DESIGN

So, to conclude this review – this was a book that took old ideas, and created something completely new from them. It was well-crafted, and written in a fun way. It’s the first of a series – the ‘Worldquake Sequence’, and I think I’m going to try and find the other books!

Go forth… and read!

Weekly Hoard – February week 1 (Entire trilogies, circuses, and an abridged book)

I had a pretty good week of reading this past week! It probably had something to do with all the driving I did… 

As you may notice, I’ve changed how this works a little. I thought I’d give simply summarising the books a go. All the books I read this week were great, and I would recommend them all! However, I just realised that the copy of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ that I read was abridged. GAH. I intensely dislike not realising that books are abridged. Now I’ll have to find the non-abridged version…

Anyway, here’s what I read this past week. Enjoy!

da vinci

The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

the wisdom of the ages… whispering up from the chasms of the earth…”

Robert Langdon only came to France to meet with the famous curator of the Louvre. But the man has died, mysteriously. And Robert is the prime suspect. Deciphering the clues that the victim left behind him seems to be the only chance that Robert has at proving his innocence. So, along with cryptologist Sophie Neveu, Robert sets off on a whirlwind tour of France (and beyond), seeking to discover the truth about the curator’s untimely death. But with each solved clue, another appears, each pointing closer and closer to an ancient society – a society that guards one of the world’s most searched-for secrets…

girl air

The Girl who Walked on Air – Emma Carroll

a smile that could melt icebergs.”

Louie has a dream – a dream that seems almost impossible. She wants to become the Showstopper at her circus. This job is the most dangerous – doing the things that catch the attention of the audience and leave them thrilled and shocked. The job is open because the previous showstopper suffered an accident, but that’s beside the point. Louie achieves her dream, but then a man turns up who wants somebody with her specific skill – tightrope walking. It’s a toss-up between her and a boy who mysteriously turned up, but the man chooses the boy. Long story short, Louie decides to pursue him, hoping to convince him that she’s the girl for the job. That, you see, is how she ends up stowing away on a ship, on her way to America…

HB

Honey Butter – Millie Florence

Words are powerful… they’re magic.”

It looks like Jamie’s going to have a pretty boring summer. But then Laren turns up. She brings with her a breath of fresh air – book-loving, homeschooled (well, roadschooled right now), and a teenager, but very different to the teenagers Jamie’s seen. And something about her calls to Jamie. So, armed with her collection of paint cards, Jamie sets out to meet Laren. An unfortunate tumble brings them together, and Jamie spends the summer with this new friend, learning all the lessons Laren has to teach. But will Laren be able to help when Jamie is deeply hurt by the person she wishes would just love her…?

SP

Beyond the Sacred Page – Jack Cavanaugh

oh, the beauty of some of the passages… the power.”

William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament is banned in England. Anyone who dares to acquire a copy, or worse – read it – is a heretic. Meg’s loving husband is a famed, skilled heretic hunter, and hates even the idea of an English translation of the Bible. But when Meg is called to play music to the queen of England, she winds up with a copy of the English translation. She intends to get rid of it as soon as possible, but accidentally reads some, and realises that this is a book of wonderful truths, not an evil tome deserving of destruction…

SLA

The Snow Like Ashes trilogy – (Snow Like Ashes, Ice Like Fire, Frost Like Night) – Sara Raasch

All these little pieces combining to create one giant, volatile snowstorm, something beautiful and dangerous and epic.”

Winter has been taken over by Summer. Out of thousands of people, only 25 remain free. The rest are dead, or facing a far worse fate: Summer’s slave camps. 16-year-old Meira is one of the free 25, fighting to find the pieces of her king’s magical conduit, in order to reunite them, returning power to Winter. But only a female royal can wield the conduit, and King Mather is male, unable to use the magic, Angra, ruler of Summer, is more powerful than anyone imagined, and nothing Meira thought was the truth is as it seemed…

LttM

Listen to the Moon – Michael Morpurgo

Where there had been bewilderment in her eyes, there was, in a single moment, the sudden light of understanding, and a smile of recognition…”

It’s 1915. World War I is raging between England and Germany, but the isles of Scilly are barely touched by the war. Alfie lives the normal life of an island boy – skipping school to go fishing with his father, and running wild over the island. But one day, when sailing near the little island where sick people were once abandoned, Alfie hears a child crying. When he investigates further, he finds a girl there; cold, hungry, injured and dehydrated, but definitely a girl. He takes her home, and he and his family take care of her, but the people of the island believe that she is of German birth, and turn against the family. All the while, the girl is healing, but never speaks. And the mystery remains. Who is she? Where did she come from? And why won’t she just tell them?

Book Review – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker… Dirtyhands… Favourite Lieutenant of the leader of the Dregs… Schemer… There’s no way you can beat Kaz Brekker in a battle of wits. It’s dangerous business, trying to trick him. You’ll likely end up dead. But one person dares to test the odds, offering Kaz something he can’t refuse. Enough money to allow him and whoever he teams up with to live like kings forever. It sounds simple at first – break into a court, rescue a hostage, and bring him back alive. But add in the details – this court is the most guarded place in the worlds, the hostage the creator of a crazy power-boosting drug, and you end up with some problems.

But you’d have to do more than that in order to stop Kaz. He gathers his team – the ‘Wraith’, Inez, Grisha Nina, Warrior Matthias, sharpshooter Jesper, and son of the deal-maker, Wylan – and armed with this crazy crew, Kaz sets out for the stronghold where his target is imprisoned…

DESIGN

OH. MY. WORD. This book was amazing. I was really looking forwards to reading it, and it smashed through my every expectation. It was full of surprises and action, had amazing characters, a great world… I could go on for a long time.

DESIGN

Kaz is a great character. I love how he’s not the stereotypical ‘perfect, amazing at everything’ lead main character. He walks with a cane, he has his fears and doubts (including one crippling fear)… but he’s still willing to give things everything he has. He’ll throw everything at a job, scheming, planning and plotting to ensure that everything that could possibly go wrong is covered. And all the other characters are great, too – they were a very diverse cast, all hailing from different places, all with different quirks and backstories, and all with their own problems, strengths and failings, as well. They each had a very individual feel, which made the story all the better, as their diversity and differences made the story all the more exciting. And the female characters were strong and independent! Hooray!

DESIGN

The setting – wow. Leigh Bardugo created a wonderful word, the Grishaverse for a previous trilogy, and then set the Six of Crows duology in it, and I loved it! This book begins in the grungy, alley area of a city, populated with warring gangs and children who’ve grown up before their time. It’s excitingly described, full of action, but at the same time, you can see the darker undertone – the rich mistreating those worse off, the gambling dens, the warring gangs… The setting really works with the characters, however, and actually provides most of their backstories. It then moves to other settings – the sea, various prisons, and the land where the infamous stronghold is. Wherever the setting is, it’s described wonderfully – in a way that you can imagine yourself there, and as you read, it builds itself up around you. It’s like going to live in the book’s world for a while, and every book that does that is most likely a good one!

DESIGN

One other thing that I really liked was that there was minimal romance. I’m not a big fan of romance in most teen books, so that made me really happy. I won’t go off on a tangent about romance, but I will say that I generally find it un-needed and annoying! So yes, I was very happy that for the most part, the characters were able to just be friends. There was a romantic storyline, between two of the characters, but it didn’t bother me too much. It wasn’t all lovey-dovey and over-the-top, so I was OK with it. For the most part, they were a team of kind-of friends, working together for one common goal. That’s my favourite kind of team 🙂

DESIGN

Seriously, this book was really, really good. I would recommend that you read it as soon as possible! I can’t wait to read the second one in the duology. (It would make a great movie as well, actually – plenty of action, and the right kind of pace)! Go and read it!

Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 Series I want to Start this Year

I’m doing this top 5 because the lovely Ruqs over at Many Things Bookish did, and I saw her post and felt inspired. It’s originally created by Shanah from the Bionic Bookworm! (and yes, I know, it’s not a Tuesday. Ah well…)

So, I’m currently reading through one series – The Six of Crows duology (it’s amazing, go and read it), but there are plenty more I want to read… (in no particular order) However, I want to read more! So, this year, I’ll see what I can do!

1. The Grisha Verse trilogy, by Leigh Bardugo.

“Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . .”

I’m loving the world of Six of Crows, and want to keep visiting it. So, this seems like the perfect way to do that!

2. The Falling Kingdoms series, by Morgan Rhodes

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.
As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, and secret alliances

This series looks adventurous and imaginative, and like a great fantasy adventure. I’m not entirely sure how I came across it in the first place, but I’d love to read it!

inkandbone.PNG

3. The Great Library series, by Rachel Caine

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.
Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.
When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

I just came across this series today, but it looks really good. It’s set in a world where the Library of Alexandria still exists, and I now really, really want to read it!

Image result for chrestomanci series image

4. The Chrestomanci series, by Diana Wynne Jones

Cat doesn’t mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Frustrated that the witches of the castle refuse to acknowledge her talents, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack…

I love Diana Wyne Jones. I’ve read Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Air and House of many ways more time than I care to count, and I’ve wanted to read the Chrestomanci books for ages…

images.jpg

5. The Shades of Magic series, by V.E. Schwabb

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

These look pretty good! The covers are stunning, the idea looks great… I’ve wanted to read them for a while, as well, so hopefully I’ll finally get around to it this year…

BRING ON THE SERIES READING!!!

January TBR

WP_20180111_22_12_15_Pro [5780291]

It’s a little late, but hey – better late than never! Here’s the list (as it stands atm, at least)…

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell (Bought from a second-hand bookshop… love those places!)

Juliet Dove, Queen of Love – Bruce Coville

Blue Birds – Caroline Starr Rose (Present for Christmas)

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo (Present for Birthday)

Life as we Knew It – Susan Pfeffer

The Looking Glass Wars – Frank Beddor (Second-hand shopping spree :D)

Wonderland Creek – Lynn Austin (Borrowed from Hannah over at The Way of Delight – I keep meaning to read this but then forgetting… Gah!)

Let the reading begin!