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Yeah, so this is a little late. Shut up. Nobody's perfect.
(Except you, Toothless, dear.)
You might notice things look a little different from last month, and that's because I've been hard at work creating a book blog where I can live and squee all day about the stories I read. Hopefully it'll be ready to go next month, but for now, here are the books I read in May! Some are quite brief because full, detailed reviews will be on the blog.
Tom's Inheritance | T.J. Green
When his grandfather disappears, Tom travels into a magical world to find him. He meets the Lady of the Lake who tells him of his responsibility to wake King Arthur before darkness falls over the land.
I had high expectations for this book that weren't met, but it is in no way a bad story. Although it reads more like middle grade and not young adult as advertised, and King Arthur only makes a short appearance late in the book, it's a fun, magical journey. Fairies and fantastical creatures add a unique twist on a familiar legend.
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding | Alexandra Bracken
Young Prosper Redding has a demon living inside him, a demon who wants to destroy Prosper's family. Prosper only has a few days to break the curse, and in the meantime he has to put up with the demon's taunts and tricks.
An insanely funny read with memorable characters. The writing is so witty and clever and engaging. It was fun and delightfully creepy. Full review to come.
A Court of Wings and Ruin | Sarah J. Maas
As Hybern brings war to Prythian, Feyre must decide who among the courts she can trust, and search for allies in unexpected places.
I enjoy this series even though there are a lot of elements that annoy me. This is a lengthy book and some parts felt unnecessary, or at least unnecessarily long. It's probably petty of me, but a lot of words are repeated throughout not only this book but the series in general. There's only so many times someone can purr, snarl, refer to their significant other as their mate, or curl their toes in their boots before I'm rolling my eyes. I never feel connected to Feyre, I feel she has zero personality. But there is still something magical that I love about this series. The world is vast, and I like the animalistic behaviour of the fairies, I think it's unique and realistic. The war was an epic conclusion and I'm eager to find out how the story continues!
This Savage Song | V.E. Schwab
Kate Harker is a monster hunter. August Flynn is a monster. Heirs to a divided city, they are forced together under dire circumstances and try to use their positions to save their city.
I love monsters (and I mean that in the most un-creepy way possible). This book is beautifully dark with expertly-crafted characters. Full review to come.
Divergent | Veronica Roth
Tris Prior's world is divided by factions based on valued attributes. Never feeling like she belonged with the selfless Abnegation, Tris chooses Dauntless during initiation, the faction that values bravery.
This story is set in a unique, interesting world with a main character who isn't even likeable at times, which I love. It feels more like a set-up for the other two books, but was still action-packed and intense. Full review to come.
Son of the Dawn |Cassandra Clare
Say what you will about making money, but I will devour anything Cassandra Clare writes about the Shadowhunters. Being a short story, there isn't too much happening, but I read it while having a coffee, so it was a super enjoyable way of spending my time. I like how we saw Jace being accepted into the Lightwood family, and I loved seeing him as a child, how arrogant he was even then.
Daughter of the Siren Queen | Tricia Levenseller
Now that Alosa has all three pieces of the map to the sirens' treasure, she begins a deadly race to the mysterious and dangerous Isla de Canta.
This is a fun, fast conclusion to a fantastic duology that deserves so much more recognition. It's a perfect pirate adventure with a little bit of magic in the sirens. Full review to come. 5 stars.
Our Dark Duet | V.E. Schwab
Set six months after This Savage Song, Kate discovers a new kind of monster with devastating effects. Not only must Kate defeat this monster, but she also needs to come face to face with her own demon.
Much more fast-paced - and heartbreaking - than its predecessor, this book had me glued to its pages then ripped me to shreds. BUT SO GOOD. IT'S GOOD. I'M GOOD. Full review to come. 5 stars.
A Court of Frost and Starlight | Sarah J. Maas
Feyre and the gang work to rebuild after the war as well as prepare for the Winter Solstice.
A light, quick read where not a lot happens, but it's a welcome relief after the intensity of A Court of Wings and Ruin. Full review to come.
I Was Born For This | Alice Oseman
Angel is boy band The Ark's biggest fan. Jimmy is their frontman. Reality is not something either are familiar with, and when they are unexpectedly thrust together, they discover just how real life can be.
This was the YA Room's book of the month, and I found it addicting and so relatable, but with a few minor issues. Full review to come.
June brings holidays and winter my way, so talons crossed it's filled with snuggly blankets and good books and the mulled wine I got a taste for last week and have been craving ever since. May the book fairies bless your June with many page-turning exercises.
As some of you already know, two months ago I moved from Perth to Melbourne to study Creative Writing at university. Because Melbourne’s literary community is bigger than Perth’s, I pledged to become more involved – to read more, write more, to join a book club, attend workshops and events. I wanted to document these experiences, and I’m dragging you along with me
... yes, the Toothless tail fins are stars
THE DEATH CURE
James Dashner (2011)
I’m about to break one of the bookdragon commandments but… Ilikedthemoviemorethanthebook.
There, I said it.
I know I should separate them, but the movie just influenced my read so much.
So concludes the Maze Runner trilogy, where there’s a lot of death and not a lot of cure. Thomas has survived the Maze. He survived the Scorch. But the poor kid can’t catch a break as W.I.C.K.E.D. continues to hunt him.
The first two were good, I enjoyed reading them. But I wasn’t really satisfied after closing this book. I feel like I need to read the two prequels to grasp at a better understanding of W.I.C.K.E.D., and I will, because my thirst for knowledge is just too strong to ignore I already knew the deaths, so none of them held much weight when I read them. It had more of an emotional punch seeing it on the big screen, rather than in my own head. Even Thomas’ reactions to the deaths – one in particular – felt repetitive and just didn’t move me. Like, at all. Sorry, guys. You know who you are.
That being said, the book had me on the edge of my seat. The way everyone’s actions were manipulated was interesting, but confusing, and like Thomas, I doubted everything anyone said, but I guess that was the point.
Anyway, the movies gave us this Thomas
REIGN OF THE FALLEN
Sarah Glenn Marsh (2018)
Okay, maybe not everybody, but when the protagonist is a necromancer, you have to expect a lot of dead guys.
Odessa – also known as Sparrow because of her exceptional ability to navigate the Deadlands – has the charming job of raising the members of the royal Wylding family from the dead so they can continue to exist amongst the living. The catch? The dead must remain shrouded, or they turn into Shades: deadly monsters with an insatiable bloodlust. And someone is creating them on purpose.
The story wasn’t as focused on the Shades as I thought, or the high adventure I expected. Really, a lot of it was Odessa’s journey of moving on after the loss of a loved one. It meant a lot of the story was slow moving, but not a drag to read.
What I really loved was the story world. The kingdom of Karthia is terrified of change – the reason why dead kings continue to be raised so their reign never ends. And the idea of those with magic being determined by the colour of their eyes is really cool. It reflects the five faces of their god, and I would have loved to learn more about it, especially since it hints at powers unheard of. I think there’s a sequel in the works, so it might be more developed in the next book.
There’s an incredibly diverse cast of characters in this book. Odessa is bisexual, there’s a couple of homosexual characters, and a number have dark skin. It also touches on addiction and substance abuse, and it all made for a fantastic young adult fantasy.
THE HAZEL WOOD
Melissa Albert (2018)
A novel about dark fairy-tales and mysterious woods?
Unfortunately, it didn't quite meet up to my expectations, but this was still a good read. It follows seventeen year old Alice who is constantly a source of bad luck. When her mother goes missing, Alice travels to the Hazel Wood, where her grandmother wrote the famous Tales from the Hinterland, and discovers her own story along the way.
Alice is not a likeable character. I was pleasantly surprised by her at first, though. In a book about fairy-tales, enchanted woods, and a main character named Alice, I had the expectation of her being a sweet, unsuspecting heroine.
She smokes, she swears, she has a tattoo. But as the story went on, this novelty wore off, and I felt very 'eh' about the audiobook, listening to find out what happens, rather than because I cared for Alice. She's angry (but this issue is important later in the story - and gives a whole new meaning to ice queen - but it didn’t make her any less mean) and I found her to be very self-centred and rude. Ah, but Ellery Finch; the boy who is dragged into Alice's rescue mission. He was so sweet and thank goodness he was in that book. I loved him.
The Hinterland – the world where the fairy-tales are set – is amazing, and what really stood out for me. The fairy-tale characters are SCARY. Blood. Guts. No happy endings here. Don't read it to your children. The narration was a five out of five stars performance. There are two songs in the book, and one is a nursery rhyme, and they were so creepy. The dialogue was fantastic, she made it sound so natural and realistic. She had the perfect bratty teenager voice, and I mean that in a good way.
The author is publishing the book of Tales from the Hinterland, so I’m excited to add that to my collection!
Anna-Marie McLemore (2017)
For generations, the Nomeolvides women have tended to gardens of the La Pradera estate. They are gifted with the ability to grow beautiful flowers from their fingertips. They are also cursed. If they love someone too much, that person disappears.
I thought I had decided on three stars from very early on. There’s too many female characters and not enough description, so they all kind of blurred into one. I couldn’t remember who was who.
I know I did.
But now that I’ve finished, I’m gushing. This book was so good. It took about two-thirds of the book to get there, though. So, if you’re planning to read it, please stick with it. I can say with confidence that this book is amazing and beautiful. It includes multiculturalism and homosexual relationships, too. And the romance was SO sweet, the story SO sad but also so lovely. It's one of the best magical realism novels I've read (buuut nothing is going to knock the Raven Boys from their pedestal ) and I can't wait to read another of the author's novels.
Side note: The main characters’ names follow the alphabet: Azalea, Bay, Calla, Dalia, Estrella, Fel, Gloria. It’s not relevant to the story in any way, I just thought it was cool
Rainbow Rowell (2013)
Cath is my spirit animal.
Cath and her twin sister, Wren, do everything together until they move to college and Wren doesn’t want to share a room. She wants to experience college life, and all Cath wants to do is write Simon Snow fanfiction.
I can relate to Cath SO MUCH. Her shyness used to be me (hard to believe, I know ) I also saw a lot of my relationship with my own sister in Cath and Wren. I’m the one staying home to write fanfiction and my sister is the one who goes to parties. So I felt their relationship was well written and realistic. The budding romance between Cath and The Boy was just so cute and even gave me butterflies at times. All the characters are fantastic. They felt real and flawed and unique.
Simon Snow sounds like a cool idea for a story, but if the excerpts of Cath’s fanfiction went on for too long I grew bored and skipped it. I wondered for a while whether to pick up Carry On and eventually decided against it. I loved this book, but I can’t give it higher than three stars. It was a light, fun read.
THE ASTONISHING COLOUR OF AFTER
Emily X.R. Pan (2018)
This was the YA Room Melbourne’s April book. It’s something I probably wouldn’t have picked up, and I am so glad I did. The book meet was on the 29th and it was so good to talk about it, even if it did get a little emotional at times.
When Leigh’s mother commits suicide, she turns into a large red bird. Seeking answers, Leigh follows the bird to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents, and she uncovers a whole lotta family secrets along the way.
It was a beautiful story told non-linearly, but it works. I loved the glimpses of Taiwanese culture. It was rich with description. Leigh is an artist and thinks in colour (and I learnt a lot of new colour names.) She and her best friend, Axel, communicating their feelings by asking the other, ‘What colour?’ and it was gorgeous. Throughout the flashbacks, Leigh’s dad tries to convince her to study something more ‘worthwhile’ than art, and that’s something I could really relate to.
I’m going to leave you with two of my favourite quotes so that they might encourage you to pick up this book:
Victoria Aveyard (2015)
Mare Barrow lives in a world separated by blood. Those with silver blood are the royal and elite, boasting supernatural powers. Those with red are forced to serve them, living in poverty and forced to fight in wars. Mare finds work in the Silver Palace where she discovers her red blood also boasts a power.
I really enjoyed this audiobook. It was a good fantasy novel, but nothing special. I felt like everything had been done before. There was a lot of focus on Mare’s relationships between the two princes, Cal and Maven, but there was enough action in there to balance it out. The book reminded me of The Hunger Games, especially with the revolution and underground hideouts.
The narrator had a nice voice but she didn’t change it for each character, or lower her voice for the males, so I was often confused by who was speaking, and whether Mare was speaking aloud or it was her internal monologue.
I’m definitely going to finish the series, but I’m going to get a few novels out the way before I do.
2nd - Won first place in the Greenleaf Blossoms Kids & YA Writing Competition for the first chapter of an unpublished children’s or YA novel (Hartwood Academy)
7th - Booked an editor for Hartwood Academy - the first novel in my young adult fantasy trilogy. Magic! Sentient swords! Ghosts! Lost kings! Curses!
8th - Entered the Australian Writers Centre's Furious Fiction. The criteria was: Must be titled The Elephant in the Room, must feature the words emerged, busted, and key, must end with the clock struck four.
15th - Entered the Underdog anthology and entered the Monash University Creative Writing Prize.
26th - Submitted to Beneath Ceaseless Skies
30th - Entered the Bath Novel Award
- My grandmother’s clock only struck TWO HUNDRED AND NINETEEN times at eleven o’clock early in the month. Last night, it chimed for nearly fifteen minutes before I Googled how to wind a clock.
She seriously needs to fix that thing.
- Ate a family-sized packet of Maltesers by myself in 2 minutes 53 seconds
- Reached level 9 of Hogwarts Mystery
That's all for now! May your May (heh) be filled with written worlds!