Bout of Books 16 is officially upon us – such fun! My goals and TBR stack can be found on my Stating My Intentions post whilst this post is for the purposes of documenting my reading progress throughout this week so expect daily updates to be found sporadically updated here.
10am – After procrastinating actually starting reading by scrolling through Twitter and Facebook this morning and eating toast really slowly I can now no longer put of getting back to my first planned read: Brandon Sanderson’s Shadows of Self. After enjoying the first trilogy of the Mistborn series I’m finding it difficult to persevere with the Wax and Wayne series. I’m just really not as invested in this set of characters and situations. To me, it seems like a lot of underdeveloped characters (Steris and Marasi have so much promise), only threads of brilliant concepts unexplored properly (religion, for example), and a lot of description of the Metallic Arts that becomes a little tiresome after reading four books about it.
4pm – I finished reading Shadows of Self. Although the pace picked up and some things were a bit developed, I feel like the ‘hunting for a kandra’ plot has been done before in the original Mistborn trilogy? Was it, or have I just imagined it? I liked the plot twist about a certain female, that was good, but it seemed like a lot of reading about Wax jumping over rooftops and Wayne sassing everyone whilst stealing from them to get to that point of the story.
7pm – I’m considering picking up a graphic novel, just because I have one I’ve wanted to read for months, and it seems like a large majority of people consider a graphic novel to be downright required of a readathon. If I do I think it’ll be Nimona, the art style is so cute and the concept intrigues me so it’s practically a given that I’ll enjoy it, right?
Daily Challenge: Introduce Yourself #insixwords
Recovering literature student and cynical romantic.
3pm – As there is currently a toddler playing very loudly in my living room, I doubt much reading is going to be done for quite some hours. We did pop to a local charity superstore this morning where I came away with 5 paperbacks so my mind was on books and reading, even if none of that has actually been done yet today!
11pm – Well today has been a day of very little reading. But I did manage to finish the latter half of Nimona and I adored it. The art style is just so cute and the story made me grin like an idiot, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t deserve a 5 out of 5 stars to be honest. If I could pick any fault it would be that I wanted more of it, which hardly seems like a criticism!
Daily Challenge: Show Off Your Shelves Photo Challenge #shelfie4boutofbooks
9am – I read a little bit on my train journey to work today, probably only 20 pages if I’m being generous, but I started a new book: Howard Jacobsen’s Shylock Is My Name. Not sure how I’m liking it yet but I have only read one chapter and this is also the first thing I’ve ever read by Jacobsen so I suspect a slight adjustment period is necessary since the last thing I read was a cutesy graphic novel about monster girls!
10:30pm – I’ve had one of those very annoying days where I know I want to read but I just can’t settle on what I want to read. This means I’ve picked up practically every book in my TBR stack before deciding I wasn’t in the mood. I wonder if maybe my brain is deceiving me and I’m actually not in a reading mood at all. Very tricksy! I think I’ll try to pick something (anything) up for quarter of an hour or so until I should be thinking about sleeping.
Daily Challenge: 5 Favourites – Pick the topic of your choice and share your 5 favourite books that fit.
5 Favourite YA Fantasy
Disclaimer: We’re not going to mention the Harry Potter series because I feel that, at this point, that’s a given. However, these are my favourite/top 5 young adult fantasy books/series openers that I would definitely recommend, 10/10, 5 stars etc. etc. in no particular order because narrowing them down to 5 is hard enough!
1. Sabriel (the Old Kingdom series/Abhorsen trilogy) by Garth Nix
Following Sabriel, daughter of the Abhorsen, the story starts in her boarding school in Ancelstierre where she is kept far away from the Old Kingdom, with its Free Magic and the Dead – or so it’s hoped. The line between the living and the dead in the Old Kingdom isn’t so clear cut, and sometimes people (and things) cross it entirely. The Old Kingdom has a way of calling Sabriel back home and when her father goes missing, it becomes a matter of life and death to find him before the Dead, which he protects the kingdom from, rise again.
I read this long before I even knew ‘young adult’ or ‘young adult fantasy’ was a thing. All I knew was it was a compelling fantasy book/series about a young girl, and I enjoyed it immensely. This series has wonderful and terrible characters, quick wit, and a really intriguing premise about Free Magic.
2. The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle) – Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Sargent is the daughter of a clairvoyant who lives amongst a female household who all possess some kind of psychic ability, except Blue. Instead, she possesses the unique ability to “strengthen” the psychic abilities of others. It’s because of this that, every year, she accompanies her mother to a graveyard where the soon-to-be-dead walk, aiding her to learn the names of the predetermined deceased so she might inform them they only have a year left. When a school boy emerges one night, Blue and her mother learn his name is “Gansey” and he is a Raven Boy – the nickname for the entitled boys who attend local private school, Aglionby – but there is more to this Raven Boy than meets even the psychic eye.
I cannot begin to explain my love for The Raven Cycle and as I’m re-reading it at the moment to mentally/emotionally prepare for the final book The Raven King I’m feeling extra fond of this weird and wonderful series of books. It’s difficult to truly explain what Maggie Stiefvater has achieved but her stories are so uniquely written and imagined that I couldn’t do anything but recommend them to everyone I meet. Definitely an all-time favourite of mine. (For further thoughts, you can visit my review.)
3. Shadow and Bone (The Grisha trilogy) – Leigh Bardugo
The first book in Bardugo’s The Grisha trilogy, Shadow and Bone introduces the world of Ravka, a kingdom torn into two by the mysterious black darkness that is the Shadow Fold – anyone who enters it is unlikely to make it out alive as it’s full of terrible monsters. When Alina Starkov’s regiment is attacked, the dormant and untamed magic residing in her flourishes, and it sets in motion a chain of events that lead her to the royal court, the Grisha, and the intimidating figure known as the Darkling.
Straight off I’m going to admit this isn’t the best written book/series ever – it’s a little silly, a little overdramatic, a little angsty but you know what? I bloody love it. It’s obvious what is going to happen, who is going to be drawn to whom (against their better judgement, naturally), and what fall-out this is going to cause for the Kingdom. However, I have to say, I loved this Russian-inspired kingdom setting and I really think it’s a compulsive read; I flew through the books in the space of days. (For further thoughts, you can visit my review.)
4. The Bone Season (The Bone Season series) – Samantha Shannon
It’s 2059 and Paige Mahoney is the Pale Dreamer, working in the criminal underworld of Scion London under her boss Jaxon Hall. Her talent? She can break into people’s dreams and, thereby, their minds. The problem with this power? It’s illegal, very illegal. And the authorities finally catch up with her. Kidnapped and transported to Oxford, Paige soon realises the city everyone thought was destroyed is in fact home to an intimidating race called the Rephaite – and they are the masters. Imprisoned in the city, the kidnapped individuals are nurtured by the Rephaite, but for what purpose?
Immersive, that’s one way to describe Samantha Shannon’s book. Paige’s London, and Oxford, is at the same time familiar and unfamiliar – blending fiction, fantasy, and reality together in a wonderful mix to create a compelling world that doesn’t seem all that implausible. Well, until the Rephaite arrive, and then we’re firmly in the fantasy realm. Paige truly is (though I hate the phrase) a Strong Female Character who you can’t help but root for, even when the surely doomed interactions between her and her keeper, Warden (yes, really) could only end in misery for everyone. (For further thoughts, you can visit my review.)
5. The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling series) – Erika Johansen
Kelsea is just a typical young woman raised in a little cottage deep in the woods – and secret heir to the throne of the kingdom, naturally. Raised hidden away as a young child after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, she must now step up and reclaim her birthright – her throne and her kingdom – learning the pitfalls of court politics and how to be a ruler along the way. The evil and corruption she uncovers in her kingdom is brutal and shocking, as is Kelsea’s decision to stand up against it, earning her more than a few enemies and placing her in a treacherous position as she invokes the wrath of the neighbouring ruler and sorceress, the Red Queen of Mortmesne.
I’m not sure if this is technically fantasy – most describe the setting as a regressed society, which is a problematic term, but basically means the world did have technology but it has disappeared (“regressed”) and what remains is that generic medieval, fantasy-ish setting you’ll find the world over in fantasy films and tv shows. Erika Johansen’s world, however, is intriguing and, I have to say, a lot more brutal and disturbing than I was expecting of something with a YA label. Some of the concepts, particularly of slavery, are actually quite hard-hitting and it elevates this YA fantasy to higher levels, in my opinion. (For further thoughts, you can visit my review.)
2pm – After nothing really sticking when I tried to read yesterday, I’ve picked up a book that wasn’t on my TBR but that I just loaned from the library – Hannah Rothschild’s The Improbability of Love. Ever since this was announced on the shortlist of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize, it was on my radar, and when I saw a display in my local library of all the books on the shortlist, I had to pick this one up since it’s about the art world and is set in London. Apparently that appeals to me? Well, being 76 pages into it suggests it does appeal to me – and I actually can’t wait to travel home from work to sneak in a bit of reading, something I rarely say at the prospect of a Northern Rail train.
11am – As you may have noticed, I neglected to update in day five. Mainly because I was at work, I was finishing job applications, and I was just feeling too listless to actually work up the effort to write about my reading progress. Speaking of reading progress this, on Friday/yesterday I started a new book on a whim. Of course this book was not on my TBR at all, in fact it never even entered into my head until I hadn’t brought a book to work with me on Friday and I needed something (i.e. a Kindle book) to read. I ended up starting Mhairi McFarlane’s It’s Not Me, It’s You and it’s so fun and funny, I love it. The main character is also from Newcastle which is a breath of fresh air in a book, I have to say. I suspect she’s about to move to London though so… hey at least this is not relatable per say but, rather, aspirational to the likes of a Teessider like me!
8pm – Well, after attending a family party for a few hours this afternoon and then having a cup of tea with my grandparents afterwards, I’m now home and thinking about reading rather than Eurovision. I’m just not in the mood for Eurovision and it’s a lot less fun watching it on your own, home alone, than at with all your uni mates with drinks and food as I have done in previous years.
11pm – I’m a few pages away from finishing It’s Not Me, It’s You and everything is coming together as you would expect from a chick lit-y kind of book – although I’m starting to despise that term, to be honest – and I am loving it. You know what? Part of me forgot how satisfying these kinds of books can be which is silly, to say the least, considering some of my all-time favourite films (The Proposal, Leap Year, Legally Blonde) fall in a similar genre.
11am – Final day of the readathon, let’s see where this goes! Probably not enough time left to actually finish another book but hopefully I’ll still keep up the motivation to read some today.
12pm – Have read a little more, close to 100 pages, of Hannah Rothschild’s The Improbability of Love which I started to read earlier this week. But at this point I’m still in my pyjamas so I should probably actually have a bath and get dressed properly – oops!
Total Pages Read: 156 (of Shadows of Self) + 266 (Nimona) + 545 (It’s Not Me, It’s You)
Books Read: 3
Are you participating in Bout of Books? Have you previously? If not – consider it! Let me know in the comments if you are because I’d love to see your TBR and cheer you on throughout the week.