Stories from Space – Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers

“Do not judge other species by your own social norms”

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The Wayfarer is not the nicest ship in galaxy, nor is it the best, but it’ll do for Rosemary, who needs a fresh start away from a world filled with bad memories. This motley crew is filled with a variety of species, it’s a place she can disappear. It’s a place she might be able to call home. If they survive that long. The crew have just taken on a dangerous job, one with a lot of benefits, but it might just kill them all if it doesn’t go to plan. Through the darkest parts of space they must just learn how to survive, and how to trust each other.
The whole crew has something to hide. Yet it’s hard to keep things under wraps when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with the same six sapiens… Especially when disaster is on the horizon at every turn.  

You all know the drill, it’s time for the spoiler warning. 

I read the first novel in this series back during my holiday in July, it was the perfect, easy Sci-Fi read for a relaxing break. Although every synopsis of this book makes it seem like this is a fast-paced, action-packed read… it isn’t. Although this isn’t a bad thing. It’s very hard to describe this book without focusing on the danger that hovers over the entire novel. Both novels in fact (although I didn’t expect this going into the second one as I already knew what Becky Chambers was really going for with this series). These novels are more of a social commentary on the futuristic world she has created. It’s focus is the differences and similarities between each species, the differing societies within this mixed universe, and how they all interact. If you want to get really critical, it’s practically an analogy for human beings right now; how much more beautiful the world would be if we all got along despite out differences, just like the diverse crew of the Wayfarer. If you want to get really deep. Nevertheless, it’s just as much fun to read without the critical spectacles and simply enjoy Chambers quality storytelling.

Chamber’s is a master at creating a vast array of species, she makes them all seem so real and believable that these could be real species she’s revealing to us. We just don’t know it. The Aandrisk, Sianat Pair, and Grum that fill the halls of the ship are each given time to explain their culture to Rosemary (and us), without it feeling too much like a diversion from the story. Which is good, because if it’s one thing this novel doesn’t need, it was to go off on long tangents that lost the readers attention.

One thing I am pretty disappointed with is that there wasn’t more of a plot. I like to think of this as Sci-Fi Literary Fiction; it focuses more on the connection of its characters and making important statements about life. This isn’t necessarily a bag thing, I just like a little more action in my Sci-Fi. The ending of the novel truly had me gripped as the hovering, almost invisible threat, came charging to the surface. I’m a sucker for those typical ‘heart-in-your-mouth’ moments, and this novel just didn’t provide.

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For some reason, even though A Closed and Common Orbit was even more character focused, I enjoyed it more. This time Chambers only has two points of view and they jump between time streams, which I really liked. Finding out about Pepper’s backstory was a highlight in this book, I was always more eager for her chapters rather than Lovey’s. Even though at times they were just as slow, Pepper’s story gripped me, I wanted to blast through to the end and see whether she got off the planet. Which of course she did, she was in Lovey’s chapters, that was how lost I got in her chapters.

This novel seemed to have more of a direct focus than it’s predecessor, it really looked at sentient AI’s and whether or not they were the same as other sapiens. A tough question to answer, but it’s hard not to agree with the outcome after going through Lovey and Pepper’s journeys. However, my need for drama was met in this novel, as both points of view had a more constant danger element. Pepper trying to escape the planet she was trapped on, and Lovey’s constant battle with not being found out as a rogue AI. Maybe I just connected with the characters more, but this is definitely my favourite one so far. Although, I did want the wayfarer crew to pop up at least once to keep the connection between the novels. They were mentioned briefly, but this was very clearly a different story. Not a sequel, but a companion.

I did enjoy these books, and I’m certain I’ll pick up the next one. First I may need to figure out if there is one and when it will be released, but I’m assuming that Chambers will be expanding her world with another set of characters. So if you’re looking for a softer Sci-Fi novel, then this series is perfect. It gives you all the tech babble you need, with sweeping characters stories that really try to make you think about the world. Or the universe…

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The Place I Live is Beautiful

Reading is happening pretty slowly now I’m in the full swing of my Publishing Masters, which is amazing. I have never felt so nervous and so excited about a career path in my life, there’s so much to think about and it’s only been two months. The reading soon will change however, as I am on a shadow panel for the Saltire Literary Awards, something that celebrates Scottish Literature and I can’t wait to get started on that. My books come tomorrow and I’m so excited. Book mail is the best.
However, I’ve still been managing to get out and about and explore this place I now call home. Seriously, I’ve never lived somewhere as photogenic as Edinburgh. I have yet to see everything, but I have to save something for when friends and family finally come to visit, though I have been enjoy my solo explorations, the company will be nice!
I wanted to share some of my favourite pictures from my time here so far, and maybe a little thought about what I’ve done too.


These are some of the first photo’s I took while here and still with my family. We explored the main part of the city and the castle was practically visible from wherever we went, like a beacon. A constant hill filled view is pretty new to me, what I’m used to is flat, flat, flat. I find I quite like the hills, and the old town is like being thrown into a novel, I could take a picture of the most boring of offices there and it would look like it was filled with magic.

One of the best, and earliest trips I went on was a hike up Arthur’s Seat. I wasn’t quite sure what it was at first, I didn’t even know that the hills I’d been seeing were close enough to the city to actually walk up in a day. Though we didn’t go to the very top (one day I will) we got pretty close and the views are so spectacular it’s definitely worth it.

National Scottish I’ve also only managed to look round one floor of the National Scottish Museum, because the place is huge and there is just so much to look at. I had to include my picture of Mr. T-Rex, who doesn’t love a dinosaur?

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This is Leith Docks, there’s not that much there but it was certainly an adventure!

I also took a solo trip to the Botanic Gardens, accidentally crashed a wedding and took lots of photos of plants. Thankfully the day I went it was beautiful and sunny, only one pouring shower disrupting the peace, but this is Scotland so I could hardly expect anything more. Walking through Stockbridge was also so scenic, it still feel like I walked to a completely different city not just a different section, the place was so much more domestic and peaceful than the hustle and bustle of the city centre. I spent about 4 hours walking that day… I still don’t think my legs have forgiven me (also I like taking pictures of water, can you tell?).

Home VIewMy new home is so beautiful that even the sunset out of my flat view is amazing. I’m so very grateful I get to have this experience and I can’t wait to take my pictures of next adventures.

A Magical Mystery – The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

“But really, aren’t there bits of magic everywhere we look?’ Dr. Cliffton continues. ‘We’ve just stopped seeing it that way.”

the disappearances

After Aila’s mother dies and her father is shipped off to fight in World War II, she and her little brother are sent to Sterling, where people they’ve never even met seem to hate them. Aila soon realises there is something strange happening in Sterling, she can’t smell anything, the stars are never out, and she can’t see her reflection no matter how hard she looks.
She soon learns that every seven years something disappears, and that the only person to escape Sterling’s terrible fate was her mother. But Aila refuses to believe that she is to blame, and will do anything to find out the truth about the disappearances. And maybe be the one to save the town from it’s terrible fate.

There’s definitely going to be spoilers, hard to talk about this book otherwise! 

This is yet another novel I heard about on YouTube, and it came at just the right time because I was in the mood for a mystery. As always with this type of book it’s better to go in not knowing too much about it; makes the mystery much more tantalising, so that’s what I did.

The Disappearances was a very enjoyable novel, but for some reason it took me so long to finish it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy with university work once again, or maybe it was because parts of this book just seemed to drag. There were long sections of the book where nothing seemed to happen, no progress was being made, we were just going through the motions of Aila’s new life in Sterling. Constant arguments with her brother, Miles, angst filled moments with Will, and worrying about the fact her mother may have been to blame for the curse after all. This pacing issue was disappointing because it was a great book, it could’ve been a 4 star book instead of a 3.5, (a huge difference I know).

The ending of this novel, however, was great. Revelations come on thick and fast, and the team effort to free Sterling was completely heartwarming. I loved the inclusion of Shakespeare in the novel. I love Shakespeare and the way Murphy managed to weave such a clever, almost believable story out of his works was remarkable. It was great to see the way she pulled magic from the pages of Shakespeare and knitted it into her story. It was a unique idea that I truly enjoyed. You could definitely see the research that had gone into this piece of work, and it helped create a great atmosphere for this book.

Although, this may have taken focus off developing characters. It took me quite a while to connect with anyone. Aila was strange, quiet and honestly quite mean to her grieving younger brother. There was just something about her that didn’t let me connect straight away, or ever. She was a good narrator, but I didn’t completely care about whether or not she got her happy ending, not until the very end when she comes to the Cliffton’s rescue and solves the mystery of Sterling. Even though it’s not her alone that solves it. She is all but given the solution which is my only true problem with the ending, yet I can also see that no one who have been able to figure it out without a little help.

Which brings me to the second narrator of this novel. A mysterious character who doesn’t really seem to fit into the plot until you learn who he really is. He’s horrible, devious and twisted, but I really enjoyed reading from his perspective… I wonder what that says about me. Murphy did a very good job of convincing me that he was Juliet’s (Aila’s mother) lover before she left Sterling. Whether or not this was the intention that’s what I pulled from it, until he began to share some memories and I wanted to smack my forehead because I was stupid enough not to see it before. Quite a lot of the book was like this, Murphy was very good at slowly revealing the mysteries of this small town. It’s the main thing that kept me reading.

I was really intrigued when I first picked this novel up that it was set in World War II, I’m not an avid reader of that era but I was looking forward to a change. I know for many people this worked, yet for me it didn’t. This is purely because it didn’t feel like the time period it was supposed to. There was nothing there for me to connect with that time, aside from her father conveniently going to war, there was nothing to indicate the period. Stick one iPhone in the book and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Maybe I’d feel differently if I read it again, but for now I didn’t get a feel of the time period at all.

Overall this book was very enjoyable, and many things were handled well, it was also beautifully written with a great concept. A Shakespeare Curse? Love it. Every damn time. Yet there was so much more that could’ve been done with this book to make it the success I wanted it to be, but I wouldn’t rule out reading it again, not just yet.

Popular YA Books I Will Never Read

A controversial topic to get me back into book blogging! I love watching these sorts of videos on Youtube, because like I said in a previous post, it’s just nice to see that there is someone out there who agrees with you when it feel like everyone else is falling at the feet of these books. The metaphorical feet… obviously.

1. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

City_of_Bones  I feel like this could cause a lot of issues with some people as I know that this is such a well loved books series, but I have never been interested. I’ve heard very mixed things about this series, it’s like marmite, some love it, some hate it, yet I can’t get passed the reviews that take a more negative stance on this series. I also know a few of the plot lines to this book – I’m not gonna lie I watched the TV show – and I know that there would be a few plot points that would annoy the hell out of me. Clary and Jace being “siblings”, the whole typical “my nerdy best friend loves me but I pretend not to notice”, which doesn’t seem healthy to me and so many others. The plot itself seems good, I know it differs from the show but the basic premise seems the same, but I wouldn’t be able to get ignore the obvious YA tropes being used in abundance, and not the good ones. I’m sick of love triangles and messy relationships, give me something healthy thanks.

2. Most of John Green’s Books

Looking for alaskaJohn Green’s books have a bit of a cult following, people rave and rave about them, yet I don’t get the hype. I have read Fault in Our Stars, which I did enjoy overall, it was a good book. I also read Paper Towns which was… less good. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to get along with his writing style. Not that it’s bad, it’s just a little philosophical for me, the metaphors and deep meaningful quotes are too much at once. He also has a tendency to write “manic pixie dream girls” – at least that’s what I got from Paper Towns and the portion of Looking for Alaska that I managed to read before I put it down. They don’t seem real, and the boys who love them don’t let us see any of their flaws. I just don’t want to read more of this, I love a cute love story/coming of age tale as much as the next person, but these are just not my cup of tea. Which is why I won’t be picking up anymore.

3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park  The reason I won’t be picking up this book is pretty similar to the reason I don’t want to read anymore John Green. I read Fangirl, liked it fine, parts annoyed me, but overall it was easy to read and okay. I didn’t stay thinking about it days after like I do with most books, it was just okay. However it’s not Rowell’s writing that irritates me or her characters, this time I’m just not fussed. These days if I’m reading contemporary it has to have something to hook me in (When Dimple Met Rishi seemed so original because I had never read anything based around Indian culture). Eleanor & Park just doesn’t appeal to me, I’m not bothered if I do or don’t read it, I don’t feel anything about it.

4. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

THe RAven Cycle You know when a book series is over hyped? Everyone is talking about it, loving it, waiting eagerly for the next instalment, and sometimes you just don’t read it because nothing can be that good? That you just don’t want to read it just because it was talked about too much? That is me with this series. I don’t have any particular reason as to why I know I won’t read it. I read The Wolves or Mercy Falls and it was good, but I just won’t be reading this series. Even if I am curious to whether Pynch ends up together, or if Blue finally kisses Gansey and kills him. People blog about this book A LOT, so much so that I actually feel like I don’t need to. So I won’t.

5. Queen of Shadows by Sarah. J. Maas 

QoS Is this cheating to include this book? I have read the three others before this one but I just know that this is where I will stop. I could rant about this series for years, the first few books were just so good, that I felt let down by Heir of Fire, completely disappointed. Which I know is controversial because there is a huge fanbase for these books and people treat them like the pinnacle of fantasy. Though they really aren’t, Maas is good, I love Court of Thorns and Roses, but she’s not my top fantasy author. One reason I won’t be picking this up is because I feel like the characters completely changed from one book to another. They weren’t the same people anymore. “It’s called character growth” I hear you cry, yes well there is a difference to me between having your character grow, and completely change. There are parts of yourself that you just can’t lose, and that to me is what Maas’s characters have done in this series.  I just won’t be picking up anymore of this series, not even Tower of Dawn even though I loved Chaol.

Got a reason why I should change my mind about any of these books? Let me know! On that controversial note I shall finish, even though there is probably many others that I could add to this list. Until the next time!

I’m Going Back to University!

Hello! So, I don’t normally post about my personal life on here but something big is coming up in my life and I got inspired. I’m going back to university to do a Master’s Degree! Specifically a Publishing Masters; watch out world, if this all works out I’ll be involved with books like never before.

But before all that I’ve begun the long process of collecting everything I’ll need to once again live without my parents. I’m literally being transported back four years, except this time I already had most of my stuff ready because I kept most of my old stuff from my undergrad.

Though a Master’s degree is completely different from undergrad, I’ve found that there are only a few differences when preparing to once again move away from home and jump into education.

  • Funding it yourself – unlike before this time I’ve had to save like crazy, there’s isn’t the same loan scheme as there is for undergrad. You used to have to save to pay for both your accommodation AND course fees by yourself, yet luckily for me Britain now has a Master’s loan scheme in place. Meaning I could request up to £10,280, which makes a massive difference as it manages to cover both my fees and living. Another bonus to this is you pay it back much like the undergrad loan, a percentage is taken from your wage when you start earning £21,000+ on top of what you will already pay for your previous loan. A little daunting, but for someone like me, utterly worth it. Or I hope so.
  • Finding Accommodation – Again, it is not a given that new Master’s students will jump into student accommodation, I am a fully fledged adult now (apparently) and it is my responsibility to come up with my own place to stay. However since I’m moving so far away, I am going into the accommodation provided, thankfully they have one aimed at Postgrads with longer tenancies. I didn’t really have the same experience of a proper uni flat in my first year, so maybe this is an experience I need. As long as I don’t get stuck with party crazy freshers, since I am there to advance myself into a career, so people like me would be appreciated because I desperately need to make some friends while there.
  • A More Practical Course – This is something that actually drew me to the course. It boasted of being hands on and practical, gaining skills which you will be actively able to use in the Publishing world. A bonus for a girl who hasn’t had much opportunity to gain experience in this industry. It is, however, going to be so different from my Literature and Creative Writing undergrad. I hope I will survive it. These are also people who have chosen to do this, they want more education, they are paying for this, so I imagine that everyone will be more focused and driven to learn everything they can. Including me.
  • I Know What I Need –  I’ve lived by myself before, so I know exactly what I need to move away, unlike last time where I relied on my sister’s knowledge. You have no idea how much I want to buy a mixing bowl, because I went without one last time and had to borrow my friends anytime I wanted to bake (which was frequently). Also! Always take more than one plate and bowl, it’s not only practical for guests, but also because sometimes you just forget to wash up and it’s nice to have a clean one in the cupboard when that cereal bowl is still stewing in the sink.
  • I Have to Use a Building Laundry Room, Thingy –  I was lucky in my houses during university, they all had a private washing machine, it’s totally different this time as where I’m going I have to use the building laundry room and pay for the use of one. This means that I’m going to invest in a piggy bank, purely for all my loose change so I can always wash my clothes. It’s just good sense.

As of right now those are literally the only things I know that are different. It feels just like it did before, except this time I’m going over 200 miles away, without a best friend beside me. SO much has changed in the past year for me, some good some bad, and a lot has happened even though it seems like barely anything did. Nevertheless, I’m ready to go and be a more independent person. I can feel the urge to fly the nest growing, even though I’m terrified of being well and truly alone in a new city, bigger and busier than I’ve ever lived in. Yet, I know that it will all be worth it if I finally get a job I’m passionate about.

T-minus 25 days and counting!

A Series of Serious Problems, In Space – The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

“He presses the triggers. And like roses in his hands, death blooms.”

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In the year is 2575, Kady Grant thought her biggest problem was facing her recently dumped ex. Until her planet Kerenza IV is attacked by a rival corporation, and then it’s a race to escape on the evacuating fleet. However safety isn’t so easy, the enemy dreadnought the Lincoln is on their tail and gain fast, meaning it’s a deadly countdown until the fleet is caught. The last thing they need is anymore problems. But when one of the ships is destroyed and the Lincoln is nowhere to be found, the real trouble is only beginning.
Determined to find out what is really going on, Kady finds herself hacking into the fleets’ databases to discover the truth that no one will admit. Yet some answers are just out of her reach, and the only person who can help is the last person she wants to speak to, her ex, Ezra Mason. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Spoilers… no hacking necessary.

Illuminae is the first book I have added to the Favourite shelf of my Goodreads since A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, and I do not add books to it lightly. It is reserved purely for books that I cannot put down, ones that blow me away with marvellous plot and excellent writing, who’s characters have a permanent hold on my heart. I don’t know what I was expecting of this series, I knew it was highly acclaimed by many people, and I love a bit of Science-Fiction, but I wasn’t ready for the ride each book took me on.

So I was actually going to start my review on a different point but it was so hard not to mention the format. It was unlike anything I had ever read. To be honest the only thing I can think of that is anything like this is The Princess Diaries, and that’s only because its a diary; otherwise they are as different as chalk and cheese. Told in something similar to an epistolary novel, both books are filled with interviews, chat-room conversations, audio and visual transcripts, and AIDAN’s own personal data files. It is a style so original to me that it immediately stands out as one I am unlike to forget. Though it did originally take me about 100 pages to get to grips with reading this style and remembering all the key information, it’s story gripped me so much I had to push through this initial problem. It’s so unique and beautiful that a physical copy of the series is a must.

There was so many uncertain components that I was never sure what was going to happen. Never. The twists were so unexpected and exciting, but not unnecessary. At the start of Illuminae I had so many questions, to be honest I was rather confused – there was a lot of terms I didn’t understand (spacey ones), and it throws you into the middle of the conflict. And I mean the middle. Kady and Ezra are both being questioned about the day of the BeiTech attack and the action starts instantly. The format helps to keep key pieces of information and plot points from us until necessary, as all the data the Illuminae Group have collected is arranged chronologically. The main characters are also in the dark about so many different things that we are kept there too, it helped keep me connected to the characters. It is the same with Gemina too, the Illuminae Group are hiding things right till the end for a reason, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way through. Who’s dead? Who’s the enemy? What can you believe? I’m still not entirely sure and I love it.

Even though we do not exclusively follow a point of view in the traditional sense, once I knew the characters I did not feel detached from them, which could have been a major problem in a book of this style. Kady grew on me slowly, her harsh edges and ‘I-don’t-care’ demeanour takes a moment of getting used to, but she’s so smart, caring and snarky that it’s hard not to care by the end. I was gutted to find out that Gemina focused on different characters living on Jump Station Hemidall, the intended destination of Kady and Ezra’s shipHowever, both Hanna and Nik are excellent characters and totally different from the leads in Illuminae. Every person in this series so far is interesting and flawed, they are human and have genuine human reactions to the events that surround them. They are not destined to save the world, they are people trying to do the right thing.

I can’t talk about these books without quickly mentioning how unprepared I was for the horrors of the deadly virus in Illuminae, and the creepy parasitic alien worms in Gemina. These two plot points add such a uncontrollable danger to the books, and the writing when describing these scenes… I’m pretty sure I’ll be scarred forever. They were so vivid and, frankly, terrifying, that I had to look away a few times.

I loved these books. They were so gripping and it’s peculiar format has kept me thinking about them still. I can’t wait for Obsidio, I’m not one for wishing time to pass, but March 2018 can not come quick enough.

Book Series I Won’t Finish

Controversial opinions are my one favourites to read and watch on YouTube, because it just shows that not everyone loved that popular book that’s floating around, and that you aren’t as alone as you thought.
There are a few popular book series that I just haven’t had the motivation to finish and the ones in this list are the ones I may never get around to completing. And for a change I’m content with that, normally I have to finish a series but these are books that just didn’t fill me with the love and excitement books are supposed to.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls – Maggie Stiefvater 

shiver

This is probably the oldest series that I have that I know I will never complete. I read it years ago, so much so I can barely remember what happened. There were werewolves, which I was into at that time, a doomed romance and… a bookshop? All really know is I loved the first one, but the second one left me bored and unsatisfied so I just didn’t want to read the the last one. Even though I own it I never managed to convince myself to pick it up. It’s definitely a book that I thought suited more to a stand-alone novel than a trilogy.

The Young Elites – Marie Lu

TYE

I feel like this book was raved about for ages online. Its a dark novel about a teenage girl who isn’t you’re typical hero, but more of a villain. It’s filled with questionable characters and morally problematic decisions, unfortunately for me this book just didn’t hold my imagination. I couldn’t connect with the characters; their personalities, their motivations and backstories failed to pull me in. The plot was vaguely intriguing but for me characters hold more sway over whether I enjoy a book or not. You can have the most fantastic plot with millions of twists but if i can’t connect with the characters then I just don’t care. That’s what happened here.

The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski 

TWC

Here is yet another example of me picking up a book because I heard so many good things about it. And yet another example of me wondering what the rest of the world saw that I didn’t. Did we read different books? Sure this novel had an intriguing premise and an absolutely beautiful cover, but it’s another example of characters I couldn’t find a connection with. I didn’t care who succeeded in the end, I just wanted to get there. Kestrel was too one dimensional for me to care about. I also found the whole “I fell in love with a slave I bought” too problematic, though this might change as the series goes on I don’t think I’ll ever found out.

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard 

Red Quenn

This sort of novel is always big, a new dystopian world where for some reason humans are divided – normally falls on the lines of Rich and Poor – with a tight totalitarian government. I usually eat these novels up, but either I’ve finally had my fill or Red Queen just didn’t bring anything new to the table. The powers were cool, and the twist at the end truly shocked me, I loved Maven, and Mare’s family, but not Mare herself. She was quite a well-built character, yet something about her grated on me. I don’t really know why I’m not motivated to continue, I even started the second one, it just isn’t grabbing my attention like I feel it should.

Graceling – Kristin Cashore 

Graceling

This is a book I did enjoy, honestly, but so far I just haven’t felt the urge to pick up the next one. Maybe that’s because I ordered the next one online and it came in French (I can’t speak a lick of French). However, it just wasn’t as exciting or badass as I was expecting. At least I liked the characters this time. The world was great and the powers unique, I honestly don’t know why I don’t want to read more. I haven’t completely ruled it out in the future, though for now I would rather be reading other things.

These Broken Stars – Amie Kaufman &Meagan Spooner

TBS

I love Science Fiction, especially ones that are literally in the future on a spaceship or a foreign new planet. I just read Illuminae and it was everything I wanted – These Broken Stars was not. This time it was the romance that got to me, it was too rushed and flimsy. Did these people even really like each other or was it because they were the only two humans on the planet? It was overly mushy, and took focus from what could’ve been a great plot. I know it was supposed to be a romance based Sci-Fi novel, but when romance is the focus it has to be real, relatable, and organic; thid was not. I’m worried that the other books in this series will be carbon copies of this one, which is why I won’t be picking them up.

The Harry Potter Book Tag!

Since the 20th anniversary for Philosopher’s Stone is coming up I thought a book tag based around Harry Potter would be a perfect fit to the theme. So I went searching and found one with a few intriguing questions.

Flagrate
A book you found interesting but would like to rewrite 

ATBITS The premise was so interesting and it was a bit different from anything else I had read around that time. I coveted it for age before I finally bought it. And I enjoyed it, 3.5 stars enjoyed it. But I was expecting something I didn’t get, it was weirder than expected, so maybe I’d rewrite it to fit the image I had in my head because that was a damn good book.

Alohomora
The first book in a series that got you hooked

DP Trilogy I will never be over how The Summoning effected me. It brought me into the book world, (aside from Harry Potter of course). I bought the first two on a whim and speed read them so fast. I was hooked from beginning to end and they truly started my journey into the book world.

Accio
A book you wish you could have right now

The Long Way is already out but I haven’t got it yet and I’m so looking forward to some serious sci-fi reading. It sounds intriguing. I always love a Sarah Dessen book but haven’t found one I’ve enjoyed as much recently, but her new one sounds great! A perfect summer holiday read.

Avada Kedavra
A killer book

TSS Monster’s created from bad actions? A seriously dark world? Murder? Danger? I say yes every time. And V.E.Schwab is a master. Her books kill me every time, in a good way. My heart literally bleeds for every character she creates.

Confundo
A book you found confusing

TMOTF - Elliot I had to read this for my university course and… I did not have a fiddle what it was trying to say. I couldn’t finish it and I couldn’t even understand it at times because I was so bored. Safe to say I did not write an essay on it.

Expecto Patronum
Your spirit animal book 

Seraphina It’s a fantasy, because my spirit animal book could be nothing else. It has dragons, I love dragons. Political intrigue. Add in a strong independent heroine and I’m in love. Seraphina isn’t your typical, arse-kicking, standoffish, alluring protagonist that is becoming very common in YA literature these days, and I feel like I connect to her more because of this. She uses her brain rather than her fists and is overly concerned with what people think of her. I couldn’t relate to her more. Full review

Sectumsempra
A dark, twisted book

TLT The synopsis does not do the dark edge layered in this book justice. I was so surprised about this that I kept forgetting it was a children’s book. The lies that Faith weaves throughout her village are convoluted and twisted and quite shocking for a young girl to spread. I wrote a full review here.

Aparecium
A book that surprised you in a great way

DOBAS I believe I mentioned how much this book changed my mind about Taylor’s trilogy for me in last years wrap up. But it really pleased me. The plot got deeper, the world got bigger, the characters more intriguing. Now I’m officially hooked on Taylor’s writing; I already have Strange the Dreamer on my shelf!

Trying Out a Book Tag – The Goodreads Version

I’ve done a fair few reviews on this blog – sporadically – so I thought maybe it was time to change it up a little and dive into a book tag! Because these are just so much fun to do and I get to talk about so many books at once. The more books the better am I right?

I’ve seen this particular tag floating around the internet for a few weeks and they look like some fun questions, so why not start here? Obviously you need a Goodreads account for this, and obviously I do, otherwise I’d loose track of all the amazing books I have to read!

What was the last book you marked as read?

hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – been meaning to read this for ages and I finally did. I was surprised at how easy it was in comparison to The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien slipped into the style of children’s book easily. But I still don’t understand how they managed to make 3 three hour films from it.

What are you currently reading?

heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer. This had been on my TBR since before it was released, I love The Lunar Chronicles that is also by Meyer. She just has a way of creating new perspectives on fairy tales – this one is based on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. I can already tell my heart will be broken by the end of this book.

What was the last book you marked as “to read”?

The Tales of King Arthur by Thomas Malory. My sister bought me a beautiful copy for my birthday and I can’t wait to read it. I love Arthurian legend and it’ll be fun to read up more on English mythology, especially a story that it still influencing stories all over the world today.

What book do you plan on reading next? 

Tough question! I never really know until I pick the book up. It’s a toss up between A Court of Wings and Ruin and Illuminae.

Do you use the star rating system?

Yes, because it helps me organise my thoughts on each novel I’ve read. Also I love showing my appreciation on novels that I adored.

Are you doing a yearly reading challenge? 

Yes and this is my first year of doing so! I only challenged myself 40 books however, because it’s hard for me to read as quickly as I used to these days because I’m always so busy. Goodreads says I’m still on track though.

Do you have a wishlist?

Is it bad if I say I didn’t even know you could do that on Goodreads? So no, I don’t, I just include the book I want to read, owned or not, on my to-read list.

What book do you plan on buying next? 

Our Dark Duet! I love V.E. Schwab so I’ve been eagerly anticipating this for a while.

Do you have any favourite quotes? 

I have quite a few! So here’s just a sample.

“The world inside myself is vaster and richer than this paltry plane, peopled with mere galaxies and gods.” – Seraphina – Rachel Hartman

“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.” – Crooked Kingdom, Leigh Bardugo

“I’m not going to die, she said, Not till I’ve seen it.
Seen what?
Her smile widened. Everything.” – A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” – Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen 

Who are your favourite authors? 

V.E. Schwab, Marissa Meyer, Jane Austen, I probably have more but these are the ones that jump into my mind straight away.

Have you joined any groups?

Not yet, I haven’t had the time to commit to anything like that and I would like to throw my all into something like that.

How many shelves do you have on Goodreads? 

Seven… I feel like I should add more.

 

There we go! That was my first attempt at a book tag… quite fun actually, and it’s forced me to be more precise with my answers, which is probably a good thing.

If anyone want to follow me on Goodreads please feel free – link

 

Lush, Lavish, Left with Questions – The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

“This dangerous girl. This captivating beauty. This destroyer of worlds and creator of wonder.”

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Every morning in Khorasan the Caliph murders a bride, extinguishing their life without a whisper of why. His people are angry at the heartache he causes across the kingdom, but none more so than Shahrzad who is determined to bring revenge on the man who killed her best friend. Making the decision to volunteer to be his next bride Shahrzad sets herself on a dangerous path as every night she must weave enchanting tales to the Caliph in order to keep herself alive for another day. But nothing is as it seems,  the Caliph is more than she first thought, and there’s more secrets behind the murders than just a king with a love for bloodshed. Khorasan is on the brink of breaking apart and Shahrzad has just landed right in the middle of it.

Definitely going to include spoilers because I’m reviewing the duology together.

Fairy tale retelling? Sign me up. I didn’t know too much about 1,001 nights before going into this series, something I am going to correct, so I was quite blind to what elements might influence this tale.

Not going to lie, this didn’t live up to my expectations at all. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did immensely, it was a easy, fast-paced read and I’m glad I had both books so I could finish it straight away. Ahdieh writes so beautifully, the way she described the world was so lush and rich it was easy to imagine the world that she was building. Since I’m also used to reading more European based fantasy it was great to finally get my teeth into something more diverse. Yet I was expecting something a little more gritty than what I got.

It was a lot more angst-filled than I had expected. I thought it would be darker, what with Khalid murdering young girls every morning, instead it was very introspective. The struggle Shahrzad had with her feelings takes up an awful lot of the book… and yet her romance with Khalid seems too rushed. It takes barely two nights of her story-telling for Khalid to decide she is the one to escape the previous fate of his brides, and one kiss for Shahrzad to all but give herself over to him. Though Ahdieh makes sure to keep her internal struggle at the centre of the novel, it didn’t convince me quite as much as it probably should have. Maybe it’s because forbidden love isn’t for me, but something just missed the mark. The romance and the trust between them that built up over both novels however was lovely to see in a YA romance, especially the trust, which probably sold me on their romance more than anything else.

Playing in the background to their relationship was a highly intriguing political plot, magic and background stories. Or the “what-could-have-been’s” of this tale as they weren’t drawn on as much as I believe they could have been. I was left with so many questions at the end of this duology that a part of me was left completely unsatisfied for these characters that I had begun to care for. The magic that hung over the whole story within Shahrzad, her father, Artan and the curse itself, seemed to hold so much possibility. Ahdieh had a unique way of describing the magic that engulfed her world, and it appeared like she had a whole background tale to go with it. Yet it was a passing note in Artan’s few appearances as a quick fix to Khalid’s curse. I wanted more of an explanation and was disappointed that this disappeared as soon as the book that caused Khalid’s curse was destroyed. Shahrzad also seemed to have enormous potential with magic, but it was mainly used for escape and flight. I was waiting for a badass moment of magic and it never came. Thankfully she still had plenty of badass moments without it.

Another thing that seemed all too convenient was how by the end of the novel almost everyone was paired off in their happily ever afters. Though only a brief mention in the epilogue of a potential romance between the rejected Tariq and new ruler Yasmine, I could have done without it. These two characters barely interacted – I actually don’t think they ever did – and shoving them towards each other felt like a cop out. At least Irsa and Rahim had a small amount of build up, which was incredibly cute, before their romance was even mentioned. No surprises that their ending broke my heart.

Another thing that I believe should have been focused on my was the actual destruction of Khalid’s curse… It almost seemed too easy, and once it was done we never got complete confirmation that it had worked. What had been the main focus of the first book seemed to slip into the background a little. Maybe Ahdieh was trying to deal with too much in the second book, maybe I’m just picky, but a little line about whether or not the people understood their Caliph in the end would’ve been nice.

 

I enjoyed the second book a lot more than the first, we were given more of an insight into the whole of Ahdieh’s cast, and it wasn’t so heavily focused on the struggle of Shahrzad’s feelings since she was no longer struggling with them. It had a quicker pace, with an intriguing story, though I am bitter that Artan’s story wasn’t explained further and that poor Rahim and Irsa had their happy ending torn from them (because lets face it he was the only truly decent boy in this duology).

The language and the vivid images Ahdieh created were beautiful, the characters were flawed and human, the premise interesting. I just wish that these books had been bigger to be able to include everything that Ahdieh was trying to convey.