May Reading Wrap Up

And just like that, we’re approaching the half-way mark for 2018. Mad, exciting, worrying, and ever so slightly terrifying, this year has flown by – which I know I probably say every year, but at least I’m consistent.

Reading wise, May has been my best yet with 5 books devoured. The first of which was particularly monstrous, as I finished the Laini Taylor Trilogy with Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Breathtakingly creative, this series has been one that is as inspiring as it is impressive. There are moments of hilarity as well as heart-wrenching sadness, with characters that are diverse, charming, and well-crafted. Laini Taylor has had be won over as an author since reading Strange the Dreamer last year, and I’m so glad I decided to read this imaginative, fantastical series.

Somewhere during my reading of Dreams of Gods and Monsters, I went to an incredible talk by Louise O’Neill, an author who manages to deliver books that punch you in the gut and leave you reeling, wanting to change the world. You can see my review of Asking for It here, a book that I’ve thought about often since finishing, so I knew I had to pick up her latest book The Surface Breaks. A feminist retelling of ‘The Little Mermaid’, this treasure of a book is one I’d recommend to anyone in their early teens – as I wish I had had it when I was that age. Closer to the original story rather than the Disney version, this tale is of a young girl who is paraded around as a commodity and something to possess rather than an individual with her own voice, her body something to be used and decorated and belonging to the men around her. This is a story of her reclaiming her body and her voice, despite losing it. The Sea Witch is an incredible character, one who I want to have her own story, and never before is it made so painfully clear that the heroine goes from one abusive relationship to the next, her life dictated by the men she tries to love, until she finally wakes up and sees the world for what it is. Buy it for your daughters, nieces and sisters, and especially buy it for your sons, brothers and nephews. A powerful, important book.

After thoroughly enjoying the new Marvel film, I decided to keep that love going by picking up Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. He is such a clever writer, and more and more I find a more suitable title for him is wordsmith. He crafts sentences and stories in a way that sweep you to another place, and definitely makes his mark on these myths – some well-known, and others less so. I honestly could have read this in one sitting, but managed to pace it out with various tube-journeys. Would highly recommend to those who are new to Norse mythology, and even old hands who want to revisit the grand stories told in a different style.

Clearly not over my onslaught of fantasy, after that I delved into Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I’ve seen this book several times over the last few years, and always thought it would be something I’d enjoy (hello, dragons). A very different kind of fantasy book, this one is set in an old-fashioned world and written in a language to reflect this setting. It’s a world of court and dragons, and a girl stuck between the two worlds. Well-told, this was definitely a slow-burner for me but definitely worth the wait.

Then finally, I read ‘The Custard Heart’ and other stories by Dorothy Parker, all wrapped up in the new beautiful Vintage covers. Along with two other tales, ‘The Custard Heart’ was a well-told short story with a strong female lead and interesting side-characters. Each had a loud, boisterous heroine and tackled various themes and topics. Whilst they didn’t have my heart soaring, I did enjoy them as short reads and am glad to have had a taster for Dorothy Parker’s writing style. A great way to finish off the month of May.

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March Fairyloot Unboxing

I’ve received a few boxes from Fairyloot over the past year, one of my favourite book subscription boxes, and when I saw that not only was March their one year anniversary, but that the theme was ‘Myths and Monsters’, I obviously had to order one. (Being the fantasy/dragon/mythology/creatures lover that I am).

It did not disappoint.

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The first thing in this box were fairy lights, and not just any fairy lights but unicorn ones. You don’t understand how excited I was to receive these, especially as I broke my fairy lights a few weeks ago (I’m a bit of a klutz).

Next up were these two beauties – the first is a small handheld mirror with a brilliant mermaid design on the back, which is just beautiful. On the right is a pair of bookmarks which I adore, one of a dragon and the other a phoenix. You can already tell how well chosen these items are to fit with the theme, and the box includes such a range of fantastic items.

I didn’t think it could get much better, but lo and behold it did. There was a ‘Nephilim’ candle which packs such a punch smelling like cherries, and again just excellent timing as I’ve run out of candles. Then, my favourite item of the box (which I’ve already used) is a scarf of dragon scales. Ok, not actually dragon scales, but close enough. Pictured above, I’ve matched it with my dragon earrings and feeling like Daenerys ready to conquer the world.

Then, what we’ve all been waiting for, the book:

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I’ve seen this book all over the place, and for good reason. Laini Taylor is already well known for her bestselling series Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and to find out her new book fits in with a myths and monsters theme? I’m already a huge fan. This has definitely been added to my TBR pile, and I can’t wait to dive into it.

There’s a very good reason why Fairyloot is one of my favourite book subscriptions, and they’ve outdone themselves this month. 100% worth the money, and a UK company as well, so would highly recommend to everyone. If I had the money, I’d get it every single month – but, alas, I’m but a poor student. So if you can, definitely go out and get yourselves a Fairyloot! You won’t regret it.

August Wrap Up

I know I’m a bit late, but I’ve been enjoying the Sun and didn’t fancy sitting inside with my laptop. August was a very interesting month and, although it feels like I’ve read more than ever, that isn’t reflected in this Wrap Up. I was at a publishing internship for two weeks where I was trying to read two or so manuscripts every day – so, a lot of reading. Yet as I had to skim a lot of them and they’re unpublished scripts, I haven’t included them in this month’s blog. However, despite feeling like my eyes were drier than ever, I managed to read a good amount for August. I think.

 

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First up was Medea’s Curse by Anne Buist, which I had to do a final proof-read of for the publishing house which was fun. It definitely took me a lot longer to get through however, as any sentence that I thought didn’t read entirely right had me re-reading it for a few minutes. Overall I thought the main character was different and interesting with a lot of different components to make up her personality, but the book really picked up as the thriller part of the plot started to amp up.

Then I finished Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, and I don’t think I’ve read a book as stylistically good as this one since A Little Life. Just wonderful writing, very character-driven, and wonderful observations. The ending was absolutely perfect, and I loved the layout of the book as well – some passages were just so simple but powerfully evocative, that it just made reading it a wonderful experience.

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Past the midway mark for the month now, I breezed through two kindle books – Neighbour Dearest and Anti-Stepbrother. The latter I far preferred, written by Tijan whose books I really enjoy, although this one wasn’t my favourite. Still, they fulfilled their purpose in providing some escapism and easy fun to flick through.

Then, then, I read a book that I did not expect to love as much as I did, and I think I’ll need to post a full book review because I have far too many feelings from this one book. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff was simply a masterpiece, with such a fantastic, engaging format. Not exactly written in your standard prose, this sci-fi book was a mixture of reports, diagrams, scripts – oh, it was just so good. Was concerned about the YA aspect, but that barely featured; I laughed, cried, felt sick, and just can’t wait until the next one. Five stars, without doubt.

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Finally for this month I read A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, which I did enjoy. It was a new and interesting take on the dragon genre, and we all know that I adore anything to do with dragons. It takes a very scientific approach and maintains that clinical perspective, which I found slightly slow in some areas, but the final few chapters were far more engaging with a faster pace that I loved. So although I’m not bursting to buy the sequel, I am curious enough that I’m not opposed to the idea.

And so concludes this month’s wrap up! Two more kindle books to add to the pile, and for the physical books I’ve read that brings me to 39/50 – so I’m getting really close to my target now, which is so exciting. So if I can try to hit three books a month, I’ll definitely reach my goal. It’ll be sad if I’m not able to complete it, but I suppose university is about to start again and the workload for my final year is going to be ridiculous. Oh well, fingers crossed for a good September and good luck to anyone else facing a new year of work work work!

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April Book Haul

It’s safe to say that working in a bookshop is very dangerous – and I mean very dangerous. Every shift you’re walking past book after book, watching people buy book after book, and lusting after every single one (the books, not the people – ugh, people).

I have to restrain myself from whipping out my discount card and money every time I go to work, but in April I caved and ended up buying four books. Only one of which that I was expecting.

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So first up we have the beautiful Temeraire by Naomi Novik, which I happened to finish last night (and that unfortunately means I just missed out on adding it to my book count for April, which is pretty dismal). This is the book I was expecting to buy, as a little treat to myself. As you all know from my review of Novik’s Uprooted, I was desperate to read more of her work – especially when I found out that it was about dragons. Dragons, people. This, actually brings us to the next purchase.

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A colleague of mine was with me when I picked up Temeraire, which they hadn’t heard of, but a dragon book they absolutely adored was A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan. Apparently a victorian-esque scientific journal, with a witty strong female protagonist – how could I say no?

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Now this one I blame entirely on the fact that my friend wouldn’t stop going on about how much she loved it along with the fact that it was a special, signed edition. How can you say no to an exclusive signed edition? I certainly don’t know how you do it, which is why I ended up grabbing The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest, known a lot for her poetry and spoken word.

Now, we get to the one that is pretty embarrassing. And not in reference to the book, but for the reasons I took it. You can probably guess from the picture.

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I mean COME ON, how the hell are you supposed to resist that cover? LOOK AT IT. It’s beautiful, it’s shiny, it has a tribal wolf design on it, swirly funky old-school lettering, and the spine of the actual book is just perfection. I saw it during my shift and, no shame, grabbed it immediately without even reading what it was about. The Tiger and the Wolf, as I have now looked up, is in fact about clans that can shape-shift into animals, and our main character can shift, uniquely, into two (no points for guessing which two animals). As a die-hard Jacob fan from the Twilight saga, this luckily does appeal to me. Heck, even if it didn’t I’d still be happy – just look at that cover, damnit.

And so concludes my mini book buying splurge. Next post up will be my appalling April Wrap Up, and essay and exam season has definitely hit. I think The Tiger and the Wolf has also inspired a post about book covers and how really they do matter, not matter what we like to tell ourselves. Anyway, hope you’re all well and keep reading – book suggestions welcome, but also don’t make me want to buy any more books. Please. My purse hurts.

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