Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books I've Read With Numbers In Their Titles'.

I liked this one, a very intriguing topic! I wasn't sure how many books I'd read with numbers in the title - as it turned out, a lot!

1) '1984' by George Orwell.
The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell's prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of "negative utopia"—a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel's hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions—a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.
2) 'Noughts & Crosses' by Malorie Blackman.
Sephy is a Cross -- a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought -- a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum -- a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together?
3) 'The Three' by Sarah Lotz.
The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn't appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage. Dubbed 'The Three' by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children's behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival.
4) 'One Hundred Years Of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism."
5) 'Child 44' by Tom Rob Smith.
MGB officer Leo is a man who never questions the Party Line. He arrests whomever he is told to arrest. He dismisses the horrific death of a young boy because he is told to, because he believes the Party stance that there can be no murder in Communist Russia. Leo is the perfect soldier of the regime. But suddenly his confidence that everything he does serves a great good is shaken. He is forced to watch a man he knows to be innocent be brutally tortured. And then he is told to arrest his own wife. Leo understands how the State works: Trust and check, but check particularly on those we trust. He faces a stark choice: his wife or his life. And still the killings of children continue...

6) 'Station Eleven' by Emily St. John Mandel.
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theatre troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
7) 'A Thousand Nights' by E.K. Johnston.
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to Schezerade's village, looking for a wife. When the formidable king arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister. Desperate to save her from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king ...if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.
8) 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kesey.
Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy – the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy's heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned.
9) 'Seven Ways We Lie' by Riley Redgate.
Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. When that scandal bubbles over, and rumours of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.
10) 'Dragon Slayer Number 9' by Intisar Khanani.
Sometimes, a dragon just really wants to talk... 

11) 'Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions--compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive--for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.
12) 'One Of Us Is Lying' by Karen M. McManus.
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule. Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond. Bad boy Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime. Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life. And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects. Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you'll go to protect them.
13) 'The One Memory Of Flora Banks' by Emily Barr.
Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can't remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is. Then she kisses someone she shouldn't, and the next day she remembers it. It's the first time she's remembered anything since she was ten. But the boy is gone. She thinks he's moved to the Arctic. Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?
14) 'Six Of Crows' by Leigh Bardugo.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone - a convict with a thirst for revenge, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager, a runaway with a privileged past, a spy known as the Wraith, a Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums and a thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
15) 'Lot No. 249' by Arthur Conan Doyle.
From the master of the detective story and creator of Sherlock Holmes, the first ever tale to feature a supernatural Egyptian mummy.

Planned Reads for October.

It's Halloween, which means I get to read one of my favourite genres - horror! I have a lot of exciting reads waiting for me on my shelves, but I've picked out a few I'm hoping to get to.

I've read one of Michelle Paver's ghost stories before, 'Thin Air', and loved it! Now I've nabbed a copy of 'Wakenhyrst', an England-set period horror/mystery about a painting, a family secret, and murder. I'm a big fan of scary stories set in big, old houses so this should be perfect for me!

'The Phantom Of The Opera' by Gaston Leroux is a classic that has been on my list for a long time. I love the musical and the film, but have never read the book. I hope I love it just as much!

Kiran Millwood Hargrave's 'The Deathless Girls' is one of my most anticipated reads right now, and I really hope I get round to it! A feminist retelling of 'Dracula'! What's not to love?

I'm a big fan of Frances Hardinge, and 'A Skinful Of Shadows' has intrigued me for a while. It looks like it's full of my usual Hardinge loves - an original plot, plenty of whimsy, and some sinister spooks!

The master of horror, Stephen King, hasn't been on my Halloween list for a while and I strongly feel that I haven't found the right book of his yet. Having now become a cat owner, I'm really hoping that 'Pet Sematary' will give me the chills I've been looking for.

It is kind of bugging me that I still haven't read Melissa Albert's 'The Hazel Wood' yet. It definitely looks like a good read for October, and any blurb that contains thee phrase 'dark fairytales' has my attention.

Monday, 30 September 2019

September Wrap-Up.

Reading-wise, I'm going through a pretty tough time at the moment. I'm allowing myself to just read what I can and be happy with what I achieve, but I definitely miss being able to plow through the books that I used to! I got through five reads, two of which were unplanned graphic novels!

  1. 'The Poet X' by Elizabeth Acevedo. I absolutely adored this. It was gorgeously written in prose, contained a very diverse cast of characters, and highlighted a number of important issues in an intelligent way. I'll definitely be reading more of Acevedo's stuff! 4.5/5 Stars.
  2. 'Fence [Vol. 2]' by C.S. Pacat & Johanna The Mad. This series is becoming a fast favourite of mine! I really enjoyed the tournament style flow of this book, as well as watching the relationship development. 5/5 Stars.
  3. 'Aphrodite Made Me Do It' by Trista Mateer. I don't read poetry often, but I quite enjoyed this. It read as a conversation between Mateer and Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love. I liked the spin on Aphrodite's story that Mateer came up with! 3.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Lumberjanes [Vol. 1]' by Noelle Stevenson. As I read and enjoyed 'Nimona' a lot, I really wanted to try out this story of friendship and girl power! The themes and humour were there but I found the plot a bit too fragmented with little context. 3/5 Stars.
  5. 'Reign Of The Fallen' by Sarah Glenn Marsh. I had really high hopes for this high fantasy featuring a bisexual necromancer MC, but alas, the majority of the book was a repetitive cycle of grief and substance addiction with very little addition to the plot. It was a real shame. 2/5 Stars.

This month I read four books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total twenty four.

- The Poet X
- Fence [Vol. 2]
- Lumberjanes [Vol. 1]
- Reign Of The Fallen

This month I read one book for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total ten.

- Aphrodite Made Me Do It

This month I read zero books for the Finishing The Series Challenge, making my yearly total four.

This month I read four books for the Diversity Reading Challenge, making my yearly total twenty five.

- The Poet X
*Mini Challenge: POC: Hispanic/Latinx*
- Fence [Vol. 2]
- Lumberjanes [Vol. 1]
- Reign Of The Fallen

Last Week's Shenanigans (23rd September - 29th September)...

Had quite an exciting week which made a nice change. On Monday I went out for dinner with my family, and got to see my gorgeous niece who has already grown so much and is a joy. Mat and I also went to see Marvel Universe Live! on Friday which was a ton of fun!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Sisters Grimm' by Menna van Praag: NetGalley (27/09/19)

I Posted...

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Autumn TBR

Book Review: Reign Of The Fallen; Sarah Glenn Marsh.

I was so excited for this pretty pink cover, necromantic fantasy, and the bisexual MC that I was promised in this book and went in with such high expectations. Honestly though, this was a bit of a disappointment.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: Reign Of The Fallen
AUTHOR: Sarah Glenn Marsh
SERIES: Reign Of The Fallen (#1)
PUBLISHER: Razorbill
PAGES: 375
GENRE: LGBTQ+, Fantasy, Young Adult

RATING: 2/5 Stars

Odessa is one of Karthia's master necromancers, catering to the kingdom's ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it's Odessa's job to raise them by retrieving their souls from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised--the Dead must remain shrouded, or risk transforming into zombie-like monsters known as Shades. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, the grotesque transformation will begin.

A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears among Odessa's necromancer community. Soon a crushing loss of one of their own reveals a disturbing conspiracy: someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead--and training them to attack. Odessa is faced with a terrifying question: What if her necromancer's magic is the weapon that brings Karthia to its knees?

What I Liked:
  • I think the overall concept for the world was really cool. Firstly, LGBTQ+ rep is really important to me and so I appreciated that Marsh was not afraid to include it, especially in a fantasy setting. I loved the necromancy idea too, it's something I haven't really seen a whole lot!
What I Disliked:
  • I really just felt that while the book had a strong beginning, way too much of the middle was a repetitive period of mourning the loss of a character that we barely got to know. It was interesting to focus on grief and addiction, but it wasn't what I was expecting from the story and having that much of it didn't really add anything.
  • Despite adoring the fact that the MC was bisexual, Marsh skirted dangerously close to my least favourite bisexual trope - promiscuity. I just felt that there was a little too much attraction to almost every character in the book and it was unnecessary. I can honestly say that I had no interest in the MC's romantic endeavours, which was a real shame.
  • There were some inconsistencies in the way that the world worked (can someone really live their entire life under a shroud and not expose themselves at all?) and a bit of a lack of exploration. Thanks to the middle being too much of the same, it meant that the final fifth of the book felt super rushed.
Overall Conclusion:
There was so much potential for this book to become my new favourite and I felt a bit disappointed that it didn't. I just felt that there was a lack of plot and so I felt no real connection to the characters or the events of the story. A real shame because the concept and promise of LGBTQ+ rep was super cool!

Friday, 27 September 2019

Book Review: Lumberjanes [Vol. 1]; Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis & Brooke Allen.

Another graphic novel created by the famed Noelle Stevenson, this time a series! I was quite excited by how much attention this book had received and came away feeling a little disappointed as a result.

SOURCE: Web-Comic
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Lumberjanes [Vol. 1]
AUTHOR: Noelle Stevenson
SERIES: Lumberjanes (#1 - #4)
PAGES: 128
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, LGBTQ+, Fantasy

RATING: 3/5 Stars

Lumberjanes is the hit series from the BOOM! Box imprint that features five rad ladies who fight monster baddies with the power of friendship! Written by Noelle Stevenson (Nimona, Adventure Time) and newcomer Grace Ellis, and illustrated by Brooke Allen (A Home for Mr. Easter), this new series has taken comics by storm and placed on many Best-of-the-Year lists, including Comics Alliance, Entertainment Weekly, and Comic Book Resources.

At Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams! Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together...and they're not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.

What I Liked:
  • This book was certainly a lot of fun. There's a lot of action and antics to follow, and many humorous situations! I like a bit of comedy, and I recognised Stevenson's distinct style from 'Nimona' here.
  • I came into this comic hoping for a lot of inclusion and I certainly got it! And plenty of girl power too! I can really see the diversity in this one and how things could be developed in future issues, and I like that a lot.
What I Disliked:
  • Being completely thrown into the middle of a plot, spending ten minutes researching to see if I'd missed an issue, then going back to it and finding that they later explain in just a few panels what happened earlier. It wasn't fun and I didn't really see why.
  • This is a series of mini adventures with very limited cohesive plot-line to tie it all together. I'd have liked more focus on the overriding arc.
Overall Conclusion:
Hmm...this was a likeable read with plenty of character and potential. It just lacked the punch I'd been hoping for that would draw me into the world. I'm interested to continue and see if things improve, but right now I'm even struggling to remember character names and everything feels bitty. Hopefully it will get better!

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books On My Autumn TBR List'.

Ahhh, Autumn. The time of year for delicious warm beverages, cosy jumpers and blankets, and crunching leaves underfoot. Apart from the chilly weather I'm a huge fan of this time of year, and become really interested in reading spooky, mystery, fantastical and literary fiction. I've picked ten books I'd love to get through over the coming months!

1) 'His Last Bow' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The penultimate volume in the 'Sherlock Holmes' series and the perfect little mystery to read during the Autumn time. I'm a huge fan of the 'Sherlock Holmes' novels as a whole, and I want to keep enjoying them!

2) 'A Dance With Dragons: Dreams & Dust' by George R. R. Martin.

I've watched the entirety of Game Of Thrones and it's beginning to hit me that there won't be any more of it! So now I'm looking to go back to the books and I'm interested to see how different they are!

3) 'The Phantom Of The Opera' by Gaston Leroux.

This is another story that has always captivated my heart (I'm a huge fan of the musical and 2004 film) but that I've never read. It seems like a good autumnal read too - murder, mystery and gothic romance.

4) 'Wakenhyrst' by Michelle Paver.

I'm fond of a good ghost story, and 'Thin Air' by Michelle Paver really captured my attention when I read it. This is another that is set in an old house, and it is giving me real 'The Woman In Black' vibes which I love.

5) 'The Deathless Girls' by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

This book is an LGBTQ+ retelling of Dracula from the perspective of his brides. Do I really need to say more than that? I need to read it ASAP!

6) 'A Skinful Of Shadows' by Frances Hardinge.

Frances Hardinge entered my radar a while back, but I loved reading 'The Lie Tree' and many people on the blogosphere have recommended this book on the back of that. I can't wait to get into it!

7) 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho.

So many people have recommended this book to me, and I think it actually looks really cool! I like the fairytale format, and I'm interested to see what all the hype is about with this one.

8) 'Tiger Lily' by Jodi Lynn Anderson.

I read one of Jodi Lynn Anderson's books a while back and found it okay, but this one has really stuck on my radar because it's a reimagining of 'Peter Pan' but from Tiger Lily's POV. I'm definitely intrigued!

9) 'Retribution Rails' by Erin Bowman.

I've raved about 'Vengeance Road' enough to know I'm going to enjoy this YA Wild West adventure. I just have to actually read it now, and I'm frustrated that I haven't already.

10) 'Pet Sematary' by Stephen King.

I've always been in love with the idea of King's books as I think he is an excellent writer with a vast imagination. But I really want to totally fall in love with and be terrified by one. I'm hoping that 'Pet Semetary' will be that one.