Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Top Ten Books On My Fall To-Be-Read list

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme run by The Broke and the Bookish! Join the fun! 

I've just started back at University so I'm probably not going to be able to read as much as I have over the summer, sadness ensues. But here are the books I really want to read this Autumn and I will try my darn hardest to get through them all!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I read Jane Eyre for the first time two years ago and absolutely loved it! In fact I was really really obsessed with it and I just cannot express how much I love this book and all the characters. Nineteenth Century literature is one of my favourite periods and I am so excited to reread this, especially as it is part of my University course!

Bleak House by Charles Dickens
I really like Classics at the moment, so I figured this Autumn would be a good time to start my first Dickens. It's a bit long (my edition is over 1000 pages) which is quite daunting but at the same time quite intriguing as the book sounds pretty interesting and something I would enjoy! (nineteenth century literature *drools*)

Adam Bede by George Eliot
And another classic I really want to read! I always feel disposed to reading all the classics in the Autumn months! Adam Bede was actually written by Mary Ann Evans under the pen-name George Eliot!

The Young Elites  by Marie Lu
I haven't read any Marie Lu before but this book is released in October and it sounds so interesting and awesome and I've read some amazing reviews about it! I'm really tempted to pre-order and read it as soon as it comes out! It sounds so dark and mysteriousness and Renaissance (and I do love everything renaissance) Also the pinterest board for this book may or may not have increased my excitement!

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
I love the Throne of Glass series so much but I have yet to read Heir of Fire! At the moment I have so much University reading to do that I haven't had the time to sit down and just devour this book yet. Soon though because the anticipation is killing me. Soon.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling
I've had The Casual Vacancy on my shelf for a good couple of months now but I've never felt in the mood to read it. However this Autumn I am determined to read it, despite the mixed reviews everyone seems to give it. I've been getting pumped to read this book for a while and I really want to give it a go soon!

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
Another book I've had on my shelf for a good couple of months. I've heard nothing but good reviews about this book and series but it's so long and daunting! The cover looks cold and snowy so I'll hopefully get around to reading this when the weather matches! 

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
I recently purchased this book because, like many book lovers, I am sucker for books about books, and especially books about bookshops (aka the most magical and amazing places in the world) Bookshops always seem so perfect for the autumn seasons and so this book seems to me, to be a perfect autumn read!

Battle Royale by  Koushun Takami
After reading A Tale for the Time Being, I've become more interested in Japanese culture and writing. Therefore, I decided it was time to pick up Battle Royale. I've known about this book for quite some time and it sounds so gruesome and dark and super interesting! Notable mentions to that cover, wow! 

Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Finally a book fantasy book about Assassins. I love a good fantasy book and I love all thing to do with assassins, this Way of Shadows was added to my Autumn to be read list! I've read some great reviews of this series and I'm so excited to read it!

What books are you guys going to read this autumn!?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Crown Of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas - Book Review

Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: 15th August 2013
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached. It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

This is the second book in the series, and contains some spoilers for the first book in the series, Throne of Glass

In a nutshell: SO much character development, awesome assassin action that was missing in the first book, betrayal, treachery, secrets and revelations galore.

I have had this review in progress for about a month, and for the vast majority of that month, it only contained the words ‘SO GOOD’ (capitals necessary) Needless to say, I loved this book, but writing about it was such a struggle. Why? Because I cannot express how amazing it is. Crown of Midnight is an enormous improvement on Throne of Glass, every character, every plot point, every element of the series improves so completely. While I didn’t dislike Throne of Glass, there were definitely parts which left more to be desired and Crown of Midnight rectifies every questionable part of Throne of Glass, dare I say it… perfectly.

Once again, Maas rolls out strong, well developed characters and this time, an even stronger plot line, with all the assassin action that Throne of Glass was lacking. There first half of the book follows a similar vein to Throne of Glass in a more calm and relaxed fashion, more focused on character relationships, but in the second half, the plot and the action really get under way. There’s mystery, devastation, betrayal and a whole load of secrets, action and magic.

The character development is outstanding. Dorian in particular grows so much as a character. In Throne of Glass, he came across as a frivolous, one dimensional character, who seemed to have little purpose other than being a love interest, however he completely turns around in Crown of Midnight, to the point where he became one of my favourite characters.

He becomes more likeable, develops a personality away from Celaena, and embarks on his own personal journey after uncovering a life changing revelation. It is clear these revelations are important to the overall storyline of the series but not much is revealed in this book! a clever move from Maas as this really builds up the anticipation for Heir of Fire!

Lastly, my favourite improvement to Dorian is that he becomes a much more admirable character. He finally gains the courage to vocalise his objections to his father’s imperialistic plans, something that in Throne of Glass he was quite reluctant to do and gets seems to get more involved in the more political side of life, as you would expect from a Prince. Dorian's reluctance really irritated me in Throne of Glass and I was so happy to see him grow as a character!

As for Chaol and Celaena, their relationship becomes more explosive in more way than one! In fact, explosive is a good word to describe some of the events and character reactions throughout the book. Celaena maintains her role as one of my favourite female characters and another, previously unseen, more savage side of her comes through as she struggles with her loyalties. Maas expands on both character’s backgrounds and back stories as well the general world building. Although the world building isn't the most expansive, it’s enough and adequately depicts the world in a way that is easy to envisage.

A real twist is thrown in at the end, and it changes everything. It forced me to re-evaluate everything that’s happened over the course of the series and the anticipation for Heir of Fire is high! Overall, Maas crafts a sublime instalment in the Throne of Glass series, complete with awesome assassin action and insanely amazing character development. 

(P.S Chaolaena forever)

Be friends with me! 

Friday, 5 September 2014

August Reads!

Hi friends! Overall in the month of August, I managed to read three books, which was quite good considering I read the mammoth that is Game of Thrones this month, although I do seem to have fallen into a bit of a reading slump recently, not fun! Onto the books!

A Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin - 5/5
I watched the first season prior to reading this and managed to love this book despite knowing everything that happens - if that's not a good book then I don't know what is! In case you don't know, Game of Thrones is the first fantasy book in the Song of Ice and Fire series and follows a variety of characters across the fictional world of Westeros. The world created by Martin is extensive and well developed, political with a hint of supernatural evil and it was nice to read about a range of characters of different ages, status and backgrounds.There's so much treachery and political turmoil and I have a feeling everything is going to get some much more intense in the next book!
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R Carey - 5/5
This has quickly become one of my favourite books, it's everything you could want in a zombie novel. The novel is post apocalyptic and follows a group of characters surviving in a zombie wasteland - with a twist. It's thrilling, enigmatic, and action packed but at the same time, explores the complexities of humanity, compassion, and mortality through a cast of well-developed characters. I really enjoyed how the characters perspectives and motives are explored through the third person narration and gives an insight into their backgrounds and the impact this has on their decisions throughout the novel. It's a refreshing and unique read and successful combines both zombie action with a poignant and thought provoking story.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams - 4/5
This is the second book in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series. After reading the first book in the series I read this one! It's quite similar to the first book in the series, in that the plot is very loose and random, as are the characters and the events which take place. I found the pacing of this book quite slow towards the beginning but it picked up at the second half of the book. Also I found that this book focused more on Beeblebrox and Ford and characters such as Trillian were ignored quite a bit, she wasn't mentioned much and was just in the background, occasionally talking with Arthur. I thought her character could have been developed or just included more. Overally, I enjoyed reading this and I'm quite intrigued to find out what goes on next!

If you guys have read these books, what are your thoughts? What books did you guys read this month!?

Be friends with me! 

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey - Book Review

Title: The Girl with All the Gifts
Author: M.R Carey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: 6th June 2014
Genre: Horror/Post Apocalyptic
Rating: ★★★★★


Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

This review is quite vague as I wanted to avoid spoilers and those turn of events which make the book so much more exciting when you're not aware of them before reading! 

In a nutshell: A refreshingly unique twist on the classic zombie, thrilling yet poignant tale, intense relationships, strong characterisation, and zombie action.

The Girl with All the Gifts encompasses everything you could want in a zombie novel.

It’s post-apocalyptic, thrilling, enigmatic, and action packed but at the same time, explores the complexities of humanity, compassion, and mortality through a cast of well-developed characters. The Girl with All the Gifts has easily become one of my favourite novels, as Carey manages to writes a novel which is thrilling and packed with refreshing zombie action, yet manages to be poignant and moving at the same time.

The characters are very well developed and the relationships between most characters are intense in different ways. Each character develops wonderfully and although they seemingly start out quite archetypal, (the military guy, the civilian, the scientist, etc.) they develop their own unique personalities and become so real and believable throughout the course of the novel. 

The use of third person narration, with each chapter being told from the perspective of a different character really works well, allowing an insight into each character’s motivations, back stories and flaws, which have an overall impact on their decisions throughout the novel and give them a lot of dimension. 
The character dynamics and intense relationships, centering around ten year old Melanie, and unique twist on the classic idea of zombies really makes this novel so compelling and unique.

The story is a classic tale of survival in a post-apocalyptic world and the zombie twist really keeps it interesting and prevents this novel from falling into the predictable post-apocalyptic category, rather, it’s exciting, interesting and thrilling! The zombie infection is described with such detail that it is both terrifyingly and fascinatingly believable. The Cordyceps fungus (which is real and actually effects ants and other insects!) is such an interesting way for a zombie apocalypse to start. Before reading this novel, I was familiar with Cordyceps however Carey explains it straightforwardly and even references a real documentary by David Attenborough which I happen to have watched before and it was nice to see it referenced! (Would recommend a watch!)

The action in the novel is not so much that it overpowered the story, and it’s not a story based solely on violence and action, rather it’s a blend of awesome zombie action combined with a gripping story of survival in a post-apocalyptic world. I found some parts towards the beginning of the novel a little slow but once the story gets going, it really gets going. I don’t want to spoil anything but notable mentions to the ending!

On a slightly side note, I found that this novel quite similar to the PlayStation 3 game, ‘The Last of Us.’ Both explore intense parent-child relationships, both use the Cordyceps fungus as the cause of the zombie outbreak and both take place about twenty years after the initial outbreak, dealing with humanity coping in a post-apocalyptic world. Essentially, they are both emotionally charged, action packed zombie stories and if you enjoy one, I think you will really enjoy the other!

Overall, Carey crafts a gripping post-apocalyptic tale of survival in a zombie wasteland with a twist, which is uniquely thrilling yet poignant and dreary yet hopeful. In short, it’s thought provoking and moving with a superb dose of zombie action and I wholeheartedly recommend this book!

Be friends with me!