April 2020 Round-Up

Hello and welcome to my April 2020 round-up! I honestly cannot believe it’s the end of April already and we are all stuck inside watching the weather through our windows. This is not how I thought 2020 was going to go, but I’m trying to make the best of the situation. I’ve been writing daily for Camp NaNoWriMo and making pom-poms like there’s no tomorrow. There is something incredibly therapeutic about winding wool round and round and round, especially while watching one of my favourite movies like Burlesque. Back to the books, I’m struggling to read as much as I did before, but I try to read a little each day, even if it is only a couple of pages. I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed, so thanks for bearing with me while my blog posts are very sporadic. I will try to get some book reviews up soon!

Top 3 novels I read in April

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

What I liked about it: the unique format, the drama, the way she writes about music

What I did not like about it: Nothing that I can think of.

My favourite character: Camila. What an amazing woman.

Position in series: 1/1

Genre: Historical fiction, music

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

What I liked about it: sassy misfit crew, aliens, lots of sarcasm, the action and excitement

What I did not like about it: my heart exploding

My favourite character: Tyler or Zila. I didn’t realise how awesome I think Tyler is until I actually considered it.

Position in series: 1/3

Genre: young adult, science fiction, fantasy

Dust by Hugh Howey

What I liked about it: an incredible conclusion to the Wool trilogy, the worldbuilding, the unravelling of the plot

What I did not like about it: DEATHS.

My favourite character: Jules. I would die for that woman. Amazing.

Position in series: 3/3

Genre: science fiction, post-apocalyptic

Poetry of the month: Wild Embers by Nikita Gill

What I liked about it: emotional and empowering

What I did not like about it: that it wasn’t longer!

My favourite poem: For Her

Genre: poetry, feminism

Special mention: Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Why: this book means more to me than I can put into words. It has saved lives and reminds you that at no point are you alone. You can get through than this. There is more to life than your mental illness.

Genre: nonfiction, mental health

And that, folks, is my April in books. For a full list of everything I read in April, check out my goodreads which I try my best to keep up to date! I hope you’re all well, even if you’re feeling unmotivated like I am. Wishing you and your families all the best, and if you ever want to talk you can reach me through my contact page here, Instagram here or twitter here.

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!

March 2020 Round-up

Here we are again, the end of another month. And what a month March has been! Coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolating, lockdown and no toilet roll (I’m still confused as to why it was toilet roll that people decided to hoard.) Amongst the chaos I have not done a lot of reading, I actually read double the amount of books in January! I’ve tried my best to read a little everyday though and keep going so I think I have enough books to do a roundup! Being in lockdown is surprisingly stressful so I’ve found it quite hard to settle down and read- does anyone relate? Either way life goes on and so do my monthly roundups. THE BOOKS MUST GO ON.

BOOK OF THE MONTH: Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

What I liked about it: a disaster situation, very appropriate for the current world climate! Gripping. Distinct viewpoints. Atmospheric.

What I didn’t like about it: nothing really, it is well rounded.

My favourite character: Alyssa, she did her best in a hard situation and never abandoned her brother

Position in series: 1/1

Genres: young adult, science fiction, climate change

THE RUNNERS UP:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

What I liked about it: The glamour, the gayness, how gripping it was. The drama, the mystery and that incredible ending.

What I didn’t like about it: I wasn’t that attached to Monique who was one of the two main characters. A littler more time with her might have improved this, but it might have just taken away from Evelyn which I definitely don’t want.

My favourite character: Evelyn Hugo herself, of course. I do have a soft spot for Harry though.

Position in series: 1/1

Genres: historical fiction, romance, drama

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

What I liked about it: I had fun reading this, the enemies to lovers trope, the tension and the fairy-tale feel.

What I didn’t like about it: I needed more of the sassy crew. Just endless sassy crew.

My favourite character: Lira probably, although I am quite attached to THE ENTIRE CREW.

Position in series: 1/1 sadly

Genres: young adult, romance, fairy-tale retelling

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

What I liked about it: the deliciously descriptive writing, the tension, the immersive intensity.

What I didn’t like about it: the fact that women were ever burned as witches.

My favourite character: Maren, that naïve old soul.

Position in series: 1/1

Genres: historical fiction, LGBT, awesome

In conclusion, I have read a lot of standalone novels this month and they were awesome. If you’d like to try something slightly different, I read both A Smuggler’s Path and A Noble’s Path by I.L.Cruz this month and they were great fun, slightly chaotic fantasy. Remember to wash your hands and stay inside, I hope you’re all well and if you want to talk about anything feel free to message me! Let’s hope April goes a bit better than March 🙂

Dry Review

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

I first saw Dry in Waterstones months ago, and I was super excited when it finally came into the library! I don’t know if this is a good idea or a bad idea, reviewing a disaster scenario book given the current circumstances, but at least this one is climate-change related not pandemic related, right? Either way if you want a break from coronavirus related news and want to lose yourself in a completely different disaster, Dry is a great option.

Dry follows the actions of a girl, Alyssa, and her younger brother as they navigate life immediately after the taps run dry in South California, with no signs of water coming back soon. The story follows multiple viewpoints, each one added in as Alyssa meets them. She ends up forming a group with her next-door neighbour called Kelton, a badass girl named Jacqui, a rich boy named Henry and her younger brother. The story is told chronologically, day by day, with snapshots of random other people interspersed throughout to show what is happening elsewhere. The viewpoints of Alyssa and her companions are all first person, whereas the snapshots are third person, distinctly marking them out and making sure you stay focused on the important characters. The book is divided into parts and each part is a different stage of their journey, which breaks up the story nicely.

Within a few pages I was wishing I had read this book sooner! Neal and Jarrod Shusterman have written a brilliant book together, I’d love for them to write more. The book begins with a really interesting concept that is made more engaging by how possible it is, to the extent where I was slightly freaked out by it. With climate change getting worse by the day, running out of water might be real in the future and the way it plays out in the book seems very realistic. I genuinely flinched when someone disturbed me because I was so absorbed in the book, it was tense and dramatic and I never knew what was going to happen next.

The writing kept me on edge, with distinct viewpoints and the ability to evoke mood vividly, whether it be in a fight or a relaxed car drive. I could not stop reading and I didn’t want to, especially as the chapters grew shorter towards the end as they built to the climax. The ending was heart stopping, but followed with a little of the aftermath. I am a big fan of being shown the consequences of the story on the world and characters and I prefer it not to be in an epilogue because the epilogues are often removed whereas I want to stay with the characters I’ve got so attached to. Would I survive this book? Yeah, I’d be in the UK!

A Twist in Time Review

A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain

(Picture from Goodreads since I read it as an ebook)

The Kendra Donovan Mysteries are, in my humble opinion, a hugely underrated series. They follow the adventures of ex-FBI agent Kendra Donovan after she is somehow transported back to 1815. A Twist in Time is the second book in the series, the first being a Murder in Time. This review will include minor spoilers for the first book, so if you intend to read it and don’t want spoilers, please don’t read on!

In A Twist in Time Kendra is unfortunately (for her, not the reader) still in the past despite her best efforts to get back to the twenty first century. She is called to London along with the Duke she is staying with after his nephew is suspected of the murder of Lady Dover. This book is full of more people being shocked by Kendra’s ‘American’ (future) manners, murder and crime, Alec and Kendra irritating each other and high society in 1815. Amazing.

I really enjoy the plot and writing style and characters of these books. It’s the perfect trifecta. The plot is well paced, with lots of action and constantly moving. The writing style flows smoothly and carried me along through the story, ramping up the tension in some places and drawing moments out in others keeping the reader gripped. Kendra’s twenty first century background means that she notices everything different between the past and present, therefore alerting the reader to key differences between the centuries especially when considering the different classes. Kendra coming from an FBI background as well means she is very observant and is always shaking things up within the 1815 method of solving crimes.

A Twist in Time is a brilliantly written historical crime novel which carries on from the excitement of the first book excellently, full of rich descriptions and historical details. I desperately want to read the next book and I will somehow get my hands on it, even if neither of the counties I have library cards for have it! I’m not sure if I could survive in the 19th century- no toilets or proper cleaning materials sounds like a nightmare, not to mention how restricted women were!

Sword and Pen review

Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

Having finished the previous one in this series January 2019, I was very excited because I loved this series but also had no idea what’s going on. Thankfully within the first chapter I was reacquainted with the characters of the series, as well as The Great Library of Alexandria where scholars and obscurists live and protect the library. If you have no idea what I’m talking about please go and read the rest of the books because this will make no sense to you.

If you insist on continuing and have no idea what’s going on, here’s a quick summary MAJOR SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS BOOKS: the Great Library of Alexandria survived and still exists. There are automatons and people with a mix of alchemy and magic called obscurists. The previous head of the library, the archivist, was corrupt and has been overthrown, and he is now sitting and plotting the downfall of the library. Owning books is not allowed. The magic people, obscurists used to be imprisoned. Jess has criminal connections. His twin brother died at the end of the last book. He had a brief fling with Morgan, a powerful obscurist. Jess joined the high garda, who guard the great library. Thomas is really really smart. There are a group of people called burners who burn books in protesting the great library. Some people have invented a printing press.

So back to the review. I think the whole concept of the library system is really cool, with all knowledge being controlled by the Great Library which has denominations in other countries, and book smugglers. I was genuinely excited to see what events would unfold and let me tell you I did not expect a single one of them. A constant atmosphere of uncertainty and drama was maintained throughout the book with lots of action and twists and turns.

The book follows several individual viewpoints and different times in the novel which I enjoyed, although sometimes when switching from character to character we went back in time a bit to show what was happening in different places at the same point. I didn’t really notice for most of the book, and thankfully didn’t find it too disruptive. I forgot the main adult relationship was a gay one which was an awesome surprise, and the one thing that really stood out for me was Jess’s injury. He suffers an injury at the start of the book, and instead of it being brushed off or healing strangely fast and not bothering him, it is given the focus necessary for that type of injury which I really appreciated.

I was very happy with the ending, and the way all the characters’ storylines were wrapped up. Would I survive this book? Yeah I think so, although I’m not sure if I could live without free access to books.

Wool Review

Wool by Hugh Howey

Wool is the first adult sci-fi book I’ve read in a while, and it did NOT disappoint. I had been putting it off because I was a bit (a lot) intimidated by its thickness but I am now very annoyed that I didn’t pick it up sooner! As I write this review I’m actually finding myself smiling at the thought of it.

Wool is set in a post-apocalyptic world where everyone lives in underground silos, with 144 levels each with different purposes. The earth’s air is toxic, and the people live under lots of regulations but there is one main one: never say you want to go outside. Going outside is fatal, and the people who get sent out only live long enough to clean the cameras which provide a view of the outside world. Anyone who says they want to go outside are sent, as well as criminals.

I’ll start with the plot and writing. The writing and plot were amazing. The end.

Just kidding.

Not about the plot being amazing though. There was a delicious mix of slow reveals with clues dispersed through the chapters, and shock reveals that left me staring into the distance trying to process it. Since it’s been a while, I had forgotten how complex adult sci-fi could be and how many things happen simultaneously and it was a delightful surprise, never over-complicating while having lots of depth. The further I got the more questions I had, and one answer would create a thousand more questions which I loved since the answers came at a sensible rate. The story is brilliantly paced, keeping the atmosphere of different scenes right while moving on the plot. Basically most of my notes are me being shocked. Some quotes include ‘I am shook. How did I not see this coming. I’m as observant as a mole’ and ‘If I am given one more shock I will have a heart attack please stop this and let me live the story, I keep having to stop.’ I also noted down page 200, so I think the action steps up then. The action descriptions are wonderful and immersive, bringing me onto the characters.

The main character, Jules, is not introduced immediately, instead we follow the story of a couple of other members of the silo. This continues throughout the novel, so while we spend a lot of time following Jules, we also follow several other characters for varying amounts of time to supplement the plot. Even so, I fell in love with Jules almost immediately. She was direct and down to earth and not afraid to speak her mind. The characters are subtly created through their interactions rather than descriptions leaving strong impressions, and then smashing my heart to pieces over charcters I barely know.

I always love seeing the communities in fantasy and sci-fi, how different people interact, and this novel illustrates its world beautifully, mostly drip-feeding information about the building of the silo, the different levels and how people interact. The way they live fascinates me, like how the electricians are a family and how people only go up to the top levels after a clearing and the different uses of the different levels as well as the mysterious way relationships and families work, which I’m still slightly in the dark about. Quick clue though: the place is very dysfunctional.

In conclusion, wow. The characters. The plot. The action. Just amazing. The only problem is that it ended far sooner than I thought, because there were lots of pages at the back! Very disappointing but the ending was great, and I’m excited to read the sequel. Would I survive this book? Unlikely, I hate being underground, I probably would have been wiped out in the apocalypse.