Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam (and all the others) Review

Skulduggery Pleasant: Bedlam by Derek Landy Review. Also a vague review of the second series overall, which assumes you have knowledge of the first series as well. If you don’t, this is going to be quite confusing. For example, Skulduggery is a skeleton and this is a world with magic. If you haven’t read the first series, they are excellent and I highly recommend you go and read them then come back!

I LOVE the Skulduggery Pleasant series. I read the first series and was completely obsessed with them, seeing Valkyrie grow up and realise her destiny with Skulduggery Pleasant always by her side with an army of suits and sassy comebacks. The books had a colourful cast of characters who you couldn’t help but like, hate, or both! They were always so easy to read and slip into, full of plot twists and unexpected events that never felt forced while still paying attention to the normal like Valkyrie was neglecting due to her wild adventures and how she tried to balance them. If you haven’t read them, do it. You don’t need to be a kid or a teenager to enjoy the ride.

When I saw Derek Landy was bringing back the Skulduggery Pleasant series I was excited, especially since they would continue to follow Valkyrie and Skulduggery as well as introducing some new characters. Bedlam is the third book in the resurrection of the series, and for me the best thing is Valkyrie. Yes, she is still a badass main character who travels around solving (and causing) problems with Skulduggery, but she has grown. She is in her early twenties and behaves accordingly, and Landy includes Valkyrie trying to cope with the massive trauma of the events of the previous series and the effect it has had on her adult life. Her dynamic with Skulduggery has evolved with the series and I’m so glad, because it shows the reality of relationships changing as you get older. SPOILER ALERT FOR BEDLAM ALTHOUGH IT IS FOUND OUT IN THE FIRST CHAPTER: Valkyrie has a girlfriend! It made me very, very happy. And leads to a funny scene with Fletcher.

Because this series is introducing new plots, where Valkyrie is not the main recipient of the prophecies, there are more characters and plot lines to follow. It can feel a little chaotic at times, flicking between perspectives. One of the main ones is Omen Darkly, the younger brother of the chosen one. I like Omen, he is quite obviously meant to be the useless younger brother but he’s great and quite relatable at times. Both Fletcher and Tanith make appearances in Bedlam, characters I am thrilled to see again because nostalgia. Derek Landy continues to write 3-dimensional villains and characters who aren’t good or bad, just living their life and I like the lack of distinction, the blurring of the line which separates good from evil.

The world we are plunged into is a world familiar but changed, since as with Valkyrie, Landy shows the aftereffects of the previous wars and the way this would be reflected in the world. For me, this made the book really interesting as it deepened my understanding of the world while continuing to throw in delightful details. With his characteristic humour, Landy kept me grinning throughout the whole book while getting me emotionally invested in a plot with far too much happening at once, although there are a few moments of normality amongst the chaos which provide a welcome break.

In conclusion: Valkyrie is hot, Omen is hilarious and Skulduggery is Skulduggery. Not much more I could ask for really, and I will definitely be reading the next one. Since the first series both Valkyrie and I have realised we like girls, a lovely parallel which randomly occurred to me while I was writing this. If you’ve got this far and haven’t read the series yet, do it. A well-built world with plenty happening and buckets of fun. Some books you read and a month later have forgotten what happened. I can still remember loads of the first Skulduggery Pleasant series and I read them years ago. Just go for it.

I hope you’re all well, and enjoying your summer! I’m now on my summer holidays, although I have quite a bit of revision to do for my exams in September. It’s strange because holidays don’t feel that different to school anymore; it’s all at home. Anyone else experiencing this, or does your life have more distinct lines between work and home? Let me know.

June 2020 Roundup

Here we are again, another monthly roundup! I have literally just written the May 2020 Roundup, so it feels a little strange to be writing June’s directly after. However, I’m on a blog post writing roll and have a scheduled post for the first time in a couple of months so I’m just going for it. I didn’t have many choices for favourites in June, mainly because I haven’t read much. I’ve only read 9 books, although in my defence I did a lot of writing so I could get my current project finished before the July camp NaNoWriMo began.

Book 1: Islander by Patrick Barkham

Genre: nonfiction, travel writing

What I liked: the islands chosen, the unique mixture of personal experience on the islands and history/ culture of the islands, the nature and setting descriptions

What I didn’t like: I would have loved a sequel, or more islands included because I absolutely loved the style of writing

Who I would recommend it to: Anyone interested in learning more about the islands of Britain, or anyone who just likes hearing about cool, isolated places

Book 2: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

Genre: vampires, fantasy, contemporary

What I liked: the humour, all the characters especially the bisexual, badass main character, the setting of Oxford

What I didn’t like: that there’s no sequel yet. I devoured this book in one sitting and I was 100% primed for another one.

Who I would recommend it to: fans of urban fantasy, vampires and awesome, humorous writing

Book 3: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Genre: sci-fi

What I liked: Really cool, fresh concept and the world-building was good. I liked the main character and the plot twists. Also: amazing ending.

What I didn’t like: I would have enjoyed more emotional depth to the story. I felt like I was missing a connection.

Who I would recommend it to: science fiction fans, people looking to try something new

Book 4: The Peace of Wild Things and Other Poems by Wendell Berry

Genre: poetry

What I liked: there are not enough words to describe how much I adored this poetry collection. Its writing is so evocative and peaceful, I just want to move to the countryside and live in a cottage and tend to my orchard

What I didn’t like: Nothing.

Who I would recommend it to: poetry-lovers, people who don’t like poetry, anyone who asks me for a poetry recommendation, people who love nature and want to reconnect with it

Book 5: The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones

Genre: middle grade, fantasy

What I liked: the magic, the seemingly unconnected plot strands which pulled together, the richly developed characters

What I didn’t like: I don’t really have any complaints. This is not a book written for adults but I really enjoyed it.

Who I would recommend it to: People who want a good book which is a bit easier to read, kids, people who want a book to read with their family

I might not have read many books this month, but I am happy to say I have definitely read quality books. I loved every single book on this list, and I took the time to really engage with each book so maybe reading 9 books in a month isn’t so bad. There’s also the fact I keep starting books and not finishing them, which means despite reading my total books doesn’t actually go up because I don’t finish them before starting something new! Do you stick to one book at a time or have bookmarks here, there and everywhere? I’d love to hear, so comment down below or click on one of the links to check out my social media!

A Book For Every Colour of the Rainbow

People all over the country have been putting pictures of rainbows up in their windows and outside their houses in order to cheer everyone up in these not-so-great times, so I thought I’d do my part and try and cheer you all up with a book for every colour of the rainbow! I’ve done both a paperback and a hardback rainbow, although I have to admit my paperback one is a lot better. Why do I own so many dark hardbacks?!

Paperback Rainbow

From left to right:

  • A succulent
  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon– I can’t wait for The Mask Falling to come out! I read the first three of this series a while ago, and I absolutely adored them. I’m definitely going to have fun rereading them in anticipation for The Mask Falling.
  • The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones- I read this with my mum as a child, and while I can’t actually remember what happens, I remember that it was awesome! Diana Wynne Jones is an incredible author, and I adore Howl’s Moving Castle.
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee- I read this quite recently, having had it sitting on my shelf for months. The gossip girl comparison is accurate and the ending left me furious, so as to whether I read the rest is a mystery.
  • This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada- The only one on this list I haven’t read, This Vicious Cure is the conclusion to a trilogy. I thought the previous books were great, so I have no doubts that this one will be too.
  • Shift by Hugh Howey- I am actually in the middle of this at the moment. It’s quite a change of pace from Wool, being a prequel, but it’s just as gripping. This is truly brilliant science fiction.
  • The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh- Another one I read a while ago, but I loved The Rose and the Dagger, it’s a complete whirlwind of magic and drama in the desert.
  • A Smuggler’s Path by I.L. Cruz- I was gifted this in return for review, and although it is chaotic at times, A Smuggler’s Path is never boring and I look forward ti reading the third book in the series
  • A succulent

Hardback Rainbow

From left to right:

  • A succulent
  • Bedlam by Derek Landy- when I read the first series of Skulduggery Pleasant, I was obsessed. I loved everything about Valkyrie and Skulduggery and their relationship and the various characters they knew. In the revival Valkyrie is very different, and I miss the old her, but Landy’s writing is brilliant as ever and I look forward to reading this one.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon- this is currently my favourite book, and has been since I first read it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write a review, because a) it’s massive and b) I love it too much. A female-led fantasy epic with a slow-burn sapphic relationship and dragons? Just take my money.
  • Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch- you might have noticed that this rainbow has not one, but three Ben Aaronovitch books on. This is because I am completely obsessed with the Rivers of London series and I managed to get my mum hooked as well. Pure brilliance. A modern London detective series with magic and crime and humour that I will continue to recommend to everyone I meet.
  • False Value by Ben Aaronovitch- I will admit I have not read this one yet, because I cannot bear for it to end. It came out recently and my mum ordered it immediately but I just can’t bring myself to step into Peter Grant’s world because inevitably I’ll have to leave. Also the cover glows in the dark which I think is the coolest thing ever.
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black- the second book in a delicious trilogy filled with magic and faeries and betrayal. Holly Black is a brilliant writer and I had the privilege of meeting her last year. She has blue hair which I think automatically elevates her to awesome.
  • Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch- I honestly devoured this series. They’re so easy to dive into and I am emotionally attached to all of the characters and the books are the perfect mix between reality and magic.
  • Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman- I read this last week and it is pretty much the perfect YA sci-fi. A badass space crew, mysterious girl from the past, all the sass and the occasional battle? Just my cup of intergalactic tea.
  • A succulent

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and it at least made you smile a little bit. Keep going and stay home, save lives. Shoutout to the NHS for being absolute superheroes!

Why not make your own book rainbows and post them on instagram or twitter? Remember to tag me so I can see your favourite books!

To Be Perfectly Honest Review

To Be Perfectly Honest by Jess Vallance

I went into To Be Perfectly honest looking for a light, fun YA contemporary read and that is exactly what I got. I should start with a disclaimer that I have not read the first book. However, the story is not adversely affected by this at all and you can enjoy the novel whether you’ve read the first one or not. Seriously, I didn’t even notice there was one before this until I went onto goodreads to log it.

The story follows Gracie, who is in sixth form college and after discovering her family has been lying to her decides to not lie at all for 50 days. Her definition of honesty is questionable, as in she blurts out everything she thinks, but I didn’t find this cringy, only quite funny and exasperating at times. Gracie has a girlfriend, and I loved the fact it was treated like any other teenage relationship rather than some mysterious gay relationship which weirdly goes perfectly. There were no moments that were so unrealistic I couldn’t see a teenager doing which I was thankful for. Yes, some of it was unlikely but then again I randomly buy tickets for talks in London and I have friends who have done all sorts of wild stuff so teenagers can be unlikely sometimes.

This book is very funny and relatable, although sometimes Gracie came off a bit childish especially when she was just rude in the name of honesty. It made me want to try this project but do it properly and tell the truth without needlessly hurting other people. Then again, when I have to explain that I don’t want to go out because I want to read instead it might not go down so well!

Scorn Review

Scorn compiled by Matthew Parris

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you all have a great day, and I would like to point out that reviewing a book of insults has nothing to do with today being Valentine’s Day. Lots of love to you and your books!

Scorn gave me a great evening of reading, as well as lots of insults to harass my family with. It describes itself as the ‘wittiest and wickedest insults in human history’, and it certainly includes some brilliant insults. They are arranged in several sections, including religion, class, places, morality, politics and ancient curses. Some of the insults were funnier than others, and it’s definitely important to read this book lightly and not take any of it too seriously. I didn’t find the political ones as funny as the others, but that is just personal preference- there really is something for everyone except younger readers who should under no circumstances read this.

There isn’t much else to say since it is just quote after quote, so I’m just going to list a few of my favourites here. Please do not take offense, the insults shown are supposed to be humorous and not to be taken seriously.

Never doubt the courage of the French. They are the ones who discovered snails are edible.

Doug Larson

Unmitigated noodles.

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany on the English

If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.

General Philip Sheridan

Roast beef in human form.

Horace Walpole on the inhabitants of Norfolk

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it is important.

Eugene J. McCarthy

Watching the eurozone countries trying to resolve their debt crisis has been like watching 17 people in oven gloves manipulating a Rubik’s cube.

John Lichfield

He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.

Winston Churchill on Stanley Baldwin

When they circumcised Herbert Samuel they threw away the wrong bit.

David Lloyd George. Attrib.

A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people.

Thomas Mann

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

Brass bands are all very well in their place – outdoors and several miles away.

Sir Thomas Beecham. Attrib.

A man with a fork in a world of soup.

Noel Gallagher on Liam Gallagher