Tuesday, 1 January 2019

My Favourite Books of 2018

Well hello there, it's been a while. I seem to be saying that a lot this year but life keeps happening and it happened a lot in the past little while so I've not been around much.

Anyway...I figured I'd stick with the routine of posting my favourite books of the year, even though this has been one of the most spectacularly bad reading years I've ever had. Still, there have been a few books definitely worth the mention, so...onto the list!

In no particular order:

Okay, that was a lie...the order of this one was intentional because it truly was my favourite. I loved this book so much. I'm not going to say anything more about it because it's better going into it knowing less (though I will mention it includes abuse, in case anyone needs that heads up).

This was one of the only classics I read this year, but it was a good one. I've always loved the story but had never read the novel. I don't like the representation of deformities/disfigurements, but the story is a product of its time. Overall, the book was fun and fast paced and it didn't drag the way I find some classics do.

This book wrecked me a bit. It haunted me for a good while after finishing it. It's not an easy read at all, but it was worth it (though again, for those that need the heads up: the book deals with sexual abuse).

An odd one for the list. Late last year my best friend had a baby, round about the same time this year my sister had another baby... I've been reading a lot of kids books, is what I'm getting at, and this one was a favourite. I enjoyed the illustrations and I like that there's kind of a punchline to the story that the adults get but it kind of goes over the kids head and they'll only understand it later. The little one I read it to seemed to enjoy it as well. 

I love Tijan's books. I always love her books. This one was so different to most of her other books, it was a more subtle favourite. 

I read this one way back at the start of the year and have been pining pathetically for the sequel ever since (only a few more weeks to wait!). I'd never read any Holly Black books before this one and I felt like an idiot for waiting so long, because I loved this one so much.

This one is a prequel to Code Name Verity and it's so underrated. It's basically a queer 1930's murder mystery set in the Scottish Highlands and the characters are a delight.

Novels in verse aren't normally my sort of thing, but this one just worked. It totally hooked me and I couldn't put it down once I got started.

The first book was one of my favourites from last year. It took me a lot longer to warm up to this one, but once I did, I loved it. It had a different sort of spark than the first book did, but no less wonderful.

And that's all. Hope you all enjoyed the holidays.


Monday, 31 December 2018

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

The Girl in the Tower
by Katherine Arden

Summary: For a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic...  
The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.  
Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior's training, recognises this 'boy' as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical...
It took me the longest time to get into this one, with many false starts, but when it finally did hook me...it was brilliant. It was a different sort of wonderful than the first book was, but I loved it.

The world Katherine Arden has created is one of the richest and most distinctive I've read in years, and I'm in love with the way she has woven folklore into the story.

And the characters...I love them, they're all so interesting and complex -- even Vasya's horse had his own unique, and lovable, personality. Vasya was an excellent character in the first book, but I think I liked her even more in this one.

I can't really think of what more to say about the book except that I loved it and it firmly cemented this series as one of my favourite book series ever. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5 -- in spite of the slow start, it definitely didn't suffer from middle book syndrome.

I cannot wait to read the third book (one of the only reasons I'm glad it took me so long to finish this one is that I don't have too long to wait, thankfully).


Friday, 9 November 2018

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights
by Philip Pullman

Summary: When Lyra's friend Roger disappears, she and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, determine to find him.

The ensuing quest leads them to the bleak splendour of the North, where armoured bears rule the ice and witch-queens fly through the frozen skies - and where a team of scientists is conducting experiments too horrible to be spoken about.

Lyra overcomes these strange terrors, only to find something yet more perilous waiting for her - something with consequences which may even reach beyond the Northern Lights...

Well... This book was, in a word, disappointing.

I've been hearing so much hype about the book from pretty much everyone for years and years, and I don't know if that was part of the problem or if it's just one of those book series I'd have liked more had I grown up reading it.

But yeah, it was pretty thoroughly underwhelming.

I won't deny that it was well written or that it had an interesting cast of characters and elements of the story that were appealing (loved the daemons, for example) but overall I found it to be a bit on the boring side most of the time.

I am going to stick with the series, because I hate leaving them unfinished once I start, but the book didn't really leave me craving more or particularly caring about what happens to the characters after the first book ended.

I didn't feel invested in it and I'm hoping that maybe the second book will make me get what all the fuss was about.

My overall opinion of this first book can be summed up in three letters: meh.

It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't the spectacular read it was made out to be by everyone that spoke to me about it. I'd rate it 2.5 stars out of 5.



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