Top Ten Tuesday #181

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Hi all! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, if I’m being honest, mine hasn’t been great, I’ve been dwelling in essay hell for the past week and my Uni’s WiFi decided to go on the fritz which has not helped things, so yeah, I’m feeling pretty stressed right now!

Anyway, I’m taking a brief break from all that stress, to give you guys another Top Ten Tuesday, thanks to Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we’re talking Bookstores/Libraries We’d Like To Visit, and I have to admit, I spend more than a little time scrolling through pictures of pretty bookstores and libraries, so this is a great topic for me. I’m going to share a mix of libraries and bookstores (mostly bookstores) that I want to visit:

  1. The Open Book-Wigtown, Scotland

the open book

This bookshop/B&B is top of my bookshop want to visit list at the moment because what could be better? You get to stay in an apartment above the bookshop and then during your visit you get to be an actual bookseller, which is a dream of mine. It’s booked solid through the next few years though, so it might be a while before I ever get the chance to visit.

2. The Klementinum Library-Prague, Czech Republic

klementinum

The Klementinum is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world and I would love to go and see it. My friend and I are hoping to do a trip to Prague at some point and I will definitely be wanting to go here!

3. El Ateneo Grand Splendid-Buenos Airies

el ateneo grand splendid

This beautiful bookshop is set in a former theatre which is over 100 years old, El Ateneo Grand Splendid originally opened in May 1919! I love going to the theatre, so the idea of a bookshop set in a theatre is just heaven to me and as you can tell by the picture, it is just spectacular.

4. Libreria Acqua Alta-Venice, Italy

acqua alta

Where else but Venice could you visit a bookshop that is on a canal? I’ll admit, my bookworm heart did shudder a little when I saw all that water so close to so many books, but it is a cool concept and I’d love to go visit it one day.

5. Cărturești Carusel-Bucharest, Romania

cosmindragomir.info

I can’t even with this bookshop. Not only is it MASSIVE, all the white and the columns and the staircases make it really striking too. It’s name translates as Carousel of Light and could there be anything more fitting than that? Hopefully one day I will go to Romania and get to see this place in all it’s glory.

6. Lello & Irmão Bookstore (also known as Livraria Lello)-Porto, Portugal

livraria lello

It’s not hard to see why this bookshop was a favourite haunt for JK Rowling whilst she lived in Portugal and how it could have inspired the Hogwarts library. Those stairs are just stunning and all the shelves….wow I could definitely get lost in this bookshop for a while!

7. Barter Books-Alnwick, Northumberland

barter books

This cute little bookshop is set inside the old Victorian Alnwick railway station, and it’s one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Europe. I could definitely imagine spending the day getting lost in this bookshop, eating cake, curling up by one of the fires and of course browsing the aisles for books!

8. Admont Library-Admont, Austria

admont library

Admont Library is a library located within Admont Monastery in Austria and it seriously looks like you’re stepping into a Beauty and The Beast-esque library, which is to say that it is #bookwormgoals. If I hadn’t wanted to visit Austria before (I’ve been but only to Salzburg) then I definitely do now!

9. Selexyz Dominacanen-Maastricht, Netherlands

selexyz dominicanen

This gorgeous bookshop is set in an over 700 year old church and whilst churches aren’t usually my thing, I have to admit, I would love to visit this one. The bookshop blends so seamlessly with the church that you’d think it had been there the whole time!

10. Trinity College Old Library-Dublin, Ireland

trinity college library

I mean just look how stunning that is! So many books, so many possible things to discover, I would feel so tiny standing in this massive library. My friend loves all things Irish, so I have no doubt that we will probably be visiting this library at some point in the future.

What bookstores/libraries would you like to visit? Did any of mine make your list? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Villains, however we want to twist that. I’m not sure exactly what my take on it will be yet, but I guess you guys will have to wait and see what I decide! My essay is due on Thursday, so I’m hoping that through next week I will be able to catch up on all my reviews and other stuff that I’ve had to put to the side whilst concentrating on my essay. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your week!

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Top Ten Tuesday #180

TTT-Big2

Hi all! I hope you’ve had a good week since my last TTT, I have an essay due next week, so safe to say I am very close to meltdown right now, thank you for bearing with me and I promise, I will be posting more after my essay has been submitted on Thursday as I have several things I’ve been meaning to post but I just haven’t had time to write yet!

Anyway, I’m taking a brief break from essay hell today to give you guys another Top Ten Tuesday, (my 180th!), thanks to Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we’re talking Longest Books We’ve Ever Read. I have to admit, a shudder goes through me when I discover a book is longer than 500 pages because a) most books I don’t feel need to be that long and b) I have such little time to read at Uni that I tend to go for shorter books these days. Still I have read some hefty tomes over the years, so here we go, the longest books I’ve ever read:

  1. Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix-JK Rowling-766 pages

766 pages probably doesn’t seem like a lot, especially since I have Priory and Kingdom of Ash on my TBR, both of which are longer, but it definitely felt like a lot when I read this as a teenager! The Order of The Phoenix was my least favourite Harry Potter book, although there were great parts of it, like “Have a biscuit Potter” and Fred and George’s big exit and Dumbledore’s Army, I just felt like it was a LOT longer than it needed to be.

2. Empire of Storms-Sarah J Maas-693 pages

The first and not the last instance of Sarah J Maas on this list, she writes some hefty tomes (honestly, I am still slightly scared of the sheer size of Kingdom of Ash). I always feel like Sarah J Maas books never really need to be as long as they are, there’s always at least 100 odd pages of filler to be found, but Empire of Storms felt a lot better paced than some of the other books in the series have been! I’m so excited (and scared) to see what happens in the last book.

3. A Conjuring of Light-VE Schwab-666 pages

It pleases me so much that this book comes in at the Devil’s number! A Conjuring of Light was a beast of a book, but unlike some of the other books on this list, it really didn’t feel like it. VE Schwab is the queen of pacing, and she knew exactly when the book needed to pick up and the moments where it could afford to be quieter, which meant I was never bored reading this (very important when you are likely to be reading a book for several weeks). This is one of my favourite series finales ever, it tied up everything really well (whilst still leaving threads for the new sequel series!) and I felt really satisfied (and sad) when it was over.

4. Tower of Dawn-Sarah J Maas-664 pages

Yup, Sarah J Maas is at it again. It’s hard to believe that this 664 page tome was originally supposed to only be a novella! Like many of the other books in the series, this probably didn’t need to be 600+ pages long, but I digress. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, I thought I wouldn’t like it because I’m not a massive fan of Chaol, but he wasn’t anywhere near as infuriating as he has been in the past in this book and I really loved getting to see the whole new location of the Southern Continent.

5. Queen of Shadows-Sarah J Maas-645 pages

This book nearly killed me. It’s basically 6oo pages of planning, interspersed with a couple of chapters of action. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important in the sense that the things that happened in this book needed to happen in order for the narrative to progress, but I reckon this book could have lost a good 200 pages without losing any of the important bits!

6. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire-JK Rowling-636 pages

Honestly, I do not remember The Goblet of Fire being this long, but I did read it when I was younger and paid less attention to how lengthy a book was, so that’s probably why. This is my favourite Harry Potter book, you get the Triwizard Tournament, The Yule Ball and our first real introduction to Voldemort, it’s basically the turning point for the whole series!

7. Kingdom of The Wicked-Derek Landy, Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince & Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows-JK Rowling-607 pages

Yup, I’m doing a 3 in one, because these three books all had the same page count and I didn’t want to waste the remainder of my list on 3 books that were all the same length. Kingdom of The Wicked is the seventh book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, and honestly, I have to say I can’t really remember what happened in it, it wasn’t the most memorable of the series! The Half-Blood Prince, I think I liked, although I’ll be honest, my memories of it now are mostly of the teenage romance drama, which I’m pretty sure they hammed up in the film! The Deathly Hallows, I did enjoy eventually, but OH MY GOD THE CAMPING. I thought it would never end!

8. The Dying of The Light-Derek Landy-605 pages

Honestly, I do not remember the Skulduggery Pleasant books being so long! Probably because they have quite short chapters, so they never feel as long as they actually are. It’s been a while since I read the final Skulduggery Pleasant book, but I do remember it being a great, if slightly gruesome, final book (and even then, it wasn’t actually the final book, because Derek Landy pulled a bait and switch on us and we now have a continuation series).

9. Mortal Coil and The Last Stand of Dead Men-Derek Landy-604 pages

The 5th and 8th books of the Skulduggery Pleasant series respectively, both clock in at just over 600 pages. Mortal Coil was quite a fun book as it’s the first book where you get a real taste of Darquesse and the Remnants taking over everyone was pretty cool. The Last Stand of Dead Men is one of my favourite books of the series, as it’s really exciting and a great build up for the final battle in The Dying of the Light.

10. Death Bringer-Derek Landy-603 pages

This was a great instalment of the Skulduggery Pleasant series, as it focuses a lot on Necromancy, as Valkyrie gets more and more embroiled in the study of it, and we also get to see Lord Vile for the first time (I think, it might have been in Book 5) which is a really important point for the rest of the series.

What are the longest books you’ve ever read? Do we share any? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Bookstores/Libraries I’d Love To Visit which should be a fun one, as I’m always looking for pretty bookstores/libraries in other countries that I’d love to go to. I’m not going to be posting until next Tuesday as I’m needing to focus on my essay which is due next Thursday, so enjoy the rest of your week!

Top Ten Tuesday #179

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Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, my Uni related stress meltdown has reached earlier than I was expecting, I have a lot of assignments due in the next few weeks, so yeah, the next few weeks aren’t going to be great work wise-please bear with me if I’m not around here as much, I will try and post as much as I can, but obviously work has to come first.

Anyway, I’m back today with another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we’re meant to be talking about Authors We’d Love To Meet, but I’ve been luckily enough to meet a lot of my favourite authors over the last few years and my list hasn’t changed since I last did that topic, so instead, I’m going to be talking about Characters I’d Love To Meet:

  1. Lila Bard-Shades of Magic Trilogy-VE Schwab

I would love to meet Lila, we could go on her ship, she could teach me magic and pirating and all the different ways you can kill people with a knife and how to be as  badass and confident as she is, we’d have a great time. Sure, I’d be worried she’d kill me at first, but I think once we got over that, we’d have a great time.

2. Hermione Granger-Harry Potter-JK Rowling

How much fun would Hermione and I have hanging out? I would happily listen to her talking about the history of magic and Hogwarts and all the other cool things she knows about and she could take me to the Hogwarts Library. We could go to Hogsmeade, and chat over books and hot chocolate (I hate butterbeer), it would be so great!

3. Aelin Galathynius-Throne of Glass series-Sarah J Maas

Much like Lila, Aelin could teach me loads of different ways to kill people-I could also learn some pretty useful self defence skills from her, which would be great. We could chat over books and chocolate, we could go shopping, I could play with Fleetfoot, it would be a great day for all!

4. Skulduggery Pleasant-Skulduggery Pleasant series-Derek Landy

Who doesn’t want to meet a magical skeleton detective? He taught Valkyrie magic, he could teach me! We could solve crime together, I could ride around in the Bentley and I could finally meet a nice Irish guy-though preferably one that’s alive!

5. Percy Jackson-Percy Jackson universe-Rick Riordan

In an ideal world, Percy would be single, my age, and well, real. But alas this is not the case. Still, if I was to meet him, I would love to hang out with him and Annabeth at Camp Half-Blood, doing all sorts of cool and dangerous stuff-I might avoid the lava climbing wall, but I’d be up for everything else.

6. Nina Zenik-Six of Crows duology-Leigh Bardugo

Because who wouldn’t want to hang out with a foodie? If Nina and I met, forget about exploring Ketterdam, we would spend our entire day just chatting over food, she would introduce me to the rest of The Dregs and sure, if they offered, which they wouldn’t, I’d happily go on a job with them.

7. Izzy O’Neill-The Exact Opposite of Okay-Laura Steven

I related so strongly to Izzy, so I have to think that if we hung out together we’d have an AWESOME time. We could chat all things Harry Potter (she would have to introduce me to her dachshund Dumbledore), we could have massive milkshakes and share a plate of nachos, and just spend the afternoon having fun, witty banter, it would be awesome.

8. Fred and George Weasley-Harry Potter-JK Rowling

How much fun would you have hanging out with the Weasley twins? I would love to just spend all day with them showing me all their different magical inventions and pranking people with them, maybe playing some quidditch (the real kind, not our strange approximation) and just having the best time.

9. The Gangsey-The Raven Cycle-Maggie Stiefvater

You cannot ask me to choose just one member of the Gangsey to meet, I would have to hang out with them all. I would love to hunt for dead welsh kings with them, and visit Blue’s family home and just soak up all the weirdness, maybe get my fortune told, it would be awesome.

10. Leo Valdez-Percy Jackson Universe-Rick Riordan

Honestly, I would love to hang out with all of Rick Riordan’s characters, minus Jason and Piper, but I think I could have a lot of fun with Leo. We’d probably spend the day hanging out in his workshop, just chatting away whilst he worked on something cool and of course he would have to take me for a ride on Festus (his dragon).

What characters would you love to meet? Would we share any? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Longest Books I’ve Ever Read. Now I will admit that any book over 600 pages (heck really over 500 pages) fills me with dread, but I have read my fair share of hefty books over the years (and some I’ve even enjoyed) so this should be a fun one to do (who wants to be already that 99% of my list will be Sarah J Maas?). In the meantime, like I said at the top of the post, I’ll probably be bit less active on the blog whilst I have deadlines coming up, so if I don’t post anything before next Tuesday, then have a nice rest of your week!

 

Jo Talks Books: On Books “Everyone Should Read”

Hi all! I had totally intended on writing a September discussion post well before today, the last day of September, but I just haven’t had a chance since I’ve arrived back at Uni. Today I’m going to talk about something that I’ve been thinking about for a while: something that I see quite often when bloggers are talking about books they really love, the “everyone should read this” praise.

This phrase has often made me feel uncomfortable. It’s a phrase often used on “books you should read before you die” lists and just generally whenever people feel really strongly about a book. It treats people as a monolith, not individuals with their own unique experiences. The beautiful thing about reading is that whilst we can all read the same text, we will all interpret it and experience it in different ways. So when we say, “everyone should read this”, it seems as if we are ignoring the fact that different people bring their different experiences to reading and that not every book will speak to every person in the same way.

Take probably the most popular example of this phenomenon: Harry Potter. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Harry Potter is an amazing series, and it really influenced me, both as a reader and a writer and yes, when I found out that one of my friends hadn’t read it, I was very surprised and really wanted her to finish it. However, would I say that series is for everyone? No. Because that’s impossible. There are 7 billion people on the planet, all with different likes and dislikes and asking one book or one series of books to speak to everyone is ridiculous.

I totally understand the feeling of excitement when you read a book that you love unequivocally and you think that it’s so amazing, you just want to shove it into the hands of everyone you know. Heck I’ve been there. But not everyone is unequivocally excited about the same things. Some people prefer stories in different mediums, TV or film or radio or theatre over books, and that’s fine. In fact that’s great, everyone should get to experience the joy of a good story, no matter what form its in. And for people who do love books, we all get excited about different things. For instance, I love fantasy and the books that I get excited about are things like A Darker Shade of Magic, Harry Potter, Throne of Glass, Six of Crows. But not everyone loves that, there are bloggers out there for almost every single genre, crime, romance, historical, fantasy, contemporary etc. Would I suggest that every single one of those bloggers reads the same ten books that are supposedly for “everyone”? No, because that would be boring. Variety is the spice of life and if we all read the same books then there would be no variety and we’d get so bored just talking about the same books all the time.

The “Everyone Should Read” label in general society, most of the time seems to go on classic books, books that have acquired a certain cache because they’ve been around so long. But the thing is classics aren’t for everyone. They can be long and boring and share outdated views and just because they’ve survived the test of time, doesn’t mean you have to read them. That’s not to say that they’re not worth reading at all, but just that the fact that they have been given the label of “classic” (which is somewhat arbitrary anyway, who decides what is a classic?) doesn’t mean that they automatically become “for everyone”. Like any other book, some people may love classics and some people may not, and even within that, there’ll be variations, you may love one classic book and hate another. We’re not dealing in absolutes here, reading is such a subjective thing, and you can’t expect everyone to react the exact same way to a certain book, even if you think it’s great.

I’ve noticed this phenomenon in the blogosphere recently with diverse books. Whilst I totally agree that we should definitely be pushing authors from marginalised backgrounds, & it’s really important that these books get exposure, the “everyone should read this” mentality can be just as dangerous here. Take for instance, The Hate U Give, which has become a pretty common “everyone should read this” book in the year since its release, there are such high expectations that you should love it going in, that it’s actually kind of intimidating, because what if you don’t love it? What if it’s just not for you? There can be a lot of pressure on reading these kinds of books, because you know that it is so important that that representation is out there for those who need it and you feel like if you don’t love it, because it’s not your genre, or you just don’t connect to the story or whatever, then people are going to hate you. This is why we need to push for diverse books in all genres; so that no matter what genre you like, you can see yourself in stories and everyone can have diverse stories to enjoy, in whatever their preferred genre is.

The reason that 90% of required reading at school sucks, is because you are being forced to read books that you are not necessarily interested in. That’s not to say that no one is interested in required reading at school, some people may love the books that they read at school, but the point is that not everyone will, because you cannot please everyone with one book. If you get 50 people to read one book, the chances are you won’t get 50 of the exact some reactions. The whole idea of required reading is not at all useful for fostering a love of reading, because you are not going to get that but telling people they have to read certain books: the only way that you can get people to fall in love with books is by allowing them to find stories which speak to them.

As a reviewer, I try to stay away from absolutes. I don’t want to say “everyone should read this” or “this sucks, everyone should avoid this” because reading isn’t an absolute science. A book that speaks to me, may not speak to you and vice versa, you might find a book that I hated absolutely amazing. I firmly believe that reading is the most magical experience in the world for this very reason: two people can read the exact same words on a page and take away completely different things and when we talk in absolutes, like “everyone should read this” we do that magic a disservice.

So there we go, my thoughts on the “everyone should read this” phenomenon. Have you ever fallen into the “everyone should read this” trap? Are there any times when you think that phrase can be justified? Let me know in the comments!

Obviously I won’t have another September discussion post for you, since it is the last day of September now, but I will have another Jo Talks post in October, though I haven’t decided what I want to write about yet. In the meantime, I will be back with a new Top Ten Tuesday for you guys on Tuesday, so look out for that!

Top Ten Tuesday #178

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Hi all! I hope you’ve all had a good past week, mine has been relatively quiet, mostly just doing Uni stuff, though I do have the welcome drinks for my Uni’s Equestrian Club on Thursday, which is our first social of the year and should be super fun and a chance to meet all our new members.

Anyway, I’m back today with a new Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we’re talking about Books From Our Favourite Authors We Haven’t Read Yet. This topic has me feeling slightly judged because there are more books than I’m proud of by my favourite authors that I haven’t read, but hey, I’ll get to them eventually! Here we go, books by my favourite authors that I haven’t read:

  1. Wonder Woman: Warbringer-Leigh Bardugo

I only discovered Leigh Bardugo’s books last year, and I’ve only read the Six of Crows duology and the first Grisha book, so safe to say, I have a lot to catch up on! Wonder Woman is one of my TBR challenge books this year so I will definitely be getting to it before the end of the year and I’m super excited because I loved the Wonder Woman movie.

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising,

2. Chasing The Stars-Malorie Blackman

I loved Malorie Blackman’s books when I was younger, Noughts and Crosses was the first YA book that I ever read, so I jumped on her latest release when it came out, since I found a signed first edition, but I haven’t really been feeling in a space mood, so I haven’t read it. Hopefully soon!

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: HA HA HA SO MANY. Malorie Blackman has too massive a back catalogue to list here, but rest assured I haven’t read most of them.

3. Thunderhead-Neal Shusterman

So I read the first book in this series Scythe last year, and really enjoyed it, so naturally I got the sequel, but I just haven’t got around to reading it yet. Honestly, it will probably end up being a next summer read as it’s over 500 pages and I tend to avoid those during term time!

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: Skinjacker Series, Ansty Bonano series, Bruiser and many others, again Neal Shusterman has a massive back catalogue!

4. A Court of Wings and Ruin-Sarah J Maas

I know, I know, I’m judging me a little too. Okay a lot. Well not as much as my friend Nicola judges me for not having read this book but still. I really enjoyed ACOMAF but Sarah J Maas books are gigantic beasts and I can’t really fit more than one in a year, so this series has kind of gone on the backburner until I’m done with the Throne of Glass series.

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: A Court of Frost and Starlight, Catwoman

5. All The Crooked Saints-Maggie Stiefvater

I meant to read this when I got it, I really did, but as usual, I had twenty million other books to read and just totally forgot about it. It’s another one on my TBR challenge for this year, in fact it’s my read for next month, so I will be reading it very soon!

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: Shiver Trilogy, Lament & Ballad

6. Our Dark Duet-Victoria Schwab

I read This Savage Song last year and I bought Our Dark Duet quite soon after it came out but…..well I don’t really know what happened, I read a lot of other books instead and since I wasn’t overly keen on This Savage Song, it just wasn’t at the top of my list. I do want to finish off the duology and I’ve heard that the second book is better, so hopefully I will read it soon!

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: The Unbound, City of Ghosts, The Near Witch, Vengeful, Everyday Angel series (I only started reading her books last year, so I have quite a few that I haven’t read yet)

7. Midnight-Derek Landy

I’m actually relatively well caught up with Derek Landy’s stuff, I only have this one left to read, and it’s his latest release in the new stage of the Skulduggery Pleasant series so I’m not feeling so bad about this one.

8. Off The Page-Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer

I read the first book in this YA duology that Jodi Picoult wrote with her daughter years ago, but for some reason, I never got around to the second one, and I’d really like to read it, because I really enjoyed the first one.

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: Well okay, so there’s only two books that she co-wrote with her daughter and I’ve read one, but I have many, many, many of Jodi Picoult’s solo written books to read-again, she has a massive back catalogue!

9. The Kane Chronicles-Rick Riordan

I’ve actually done a pretty good job at keeping up with the mountain of books that Rick Riordan seems to release, but I kind of missed the boat on The Kane Chronicles. To be honest, I’m not that fussed about Egyptian mythology, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: The various Percy Jackson add on books & Magnus Chase add on books & the Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles crossovers

10. All My Secrets-Sophie McKenzie

I loved Sophie McKenzie’s books when I was a teenager, but over the past few years, I’ve kind of been missing her recent releases. On the one hand, I did love her books when I read them, but on the other hand I feel like I’ve kind of grown out of them now, so I don’t know if I will try to catch up on her latest releases (and I didn’t love her adult thrillers that much).

ALSO HAVEN’T READ: Flynn books, Luke and Eve books, SweetFreak, Here We Lie, The Black Sheep, Train Time To The Blitz, Arthur’s Sword

What books by your favourite authors haven’t you read? Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Authors I’d Love To Meet but honestly I’ve done that topic twice already, and my list hasn’t changed much since the last time I did it, so I’m going to do Characters I’d Love To Meet instead since that’s a lot easier for me! In the meantime, I’m going to try and sort out a Jo Talks post and a Writing Corner post before the end of the month, so look out for those.

Quarterly Rewind (June-September ’18 edition)

Hi everyone! I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of September already, I swear I blinked and basically missed the entirety of summer! Anyway, since today is the Autumn Equinox and so the official start of Autumn (though technically British Summertime doesn’t end for another month, but ah well), it’s time for me to do another Quarterly Rewind, a feature started by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner, where we look back at the season just gone and look forward to all the things we have coming up in the next season. This post will cover 22nd June-22nd September:

Image from this summer:

yalc 2018 12

Hannah and I with Samantha Shannon at YALC (one of the few author photos where we don’t look like absolute dorks!).

Favourite Quote From A Book You Read This Summer:

“Plenty of humans were monstrous and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human” -Vicious, VE Schwab

I just love VE Schwab’s writing so much, it’s so beautifully simple and yet so effective.

This Summer In One Word:

Melting!

Most Popular Review This Summer:

I read 7 books in the period this Rewind covers (not as much as I would have liked, but still pretty good) and have reviewed all of them. Unsurprisingly, given that it was one of the biggest debut releases of this year, my review of Children of Blood and Bone was my most popular one this summer. Here is my review of it, if you want to check it out:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/children-of-blood-and-bone-legacy-of-orisha-1-review/

Top Two Books This Summer:

This is actually the easiest choice I’ve had to do for one of these, because two books I read this summer stood out way above the rest of them and they were:

  1. Legendary-Stephanie Garber-The sequel to Caraval was even better, even darker and even more magical than the first book and I cannot wait to see what happens in the final book, appropriately titled “Finale”.
  2. Children of Blood and Bone-Tomi Adeyemi-I feel so bad for putting off this book for so long when it was so amazing! Such a diverse, amazing, enjoyable fantasy adventure and after THAT ENDING, I need the second book like right now!

Two Things I’m Looking Forward To This Autumn:

  1. My friends’ annual Christmas visit-My friends have come up to visit me in Scotland every year since I’ve been at Uni here and it’s my favourite part of the whole year, we have so much fun, eating junk, watching films, going to Edinburgh and talking way too late, it’s awesome and this year is probably going to be our last time doing it, since I probably won’t be here next year, so we’re definitely going to make the most of it.
  2. Sarah J Maas’ Edinburgh Event-Sarah J Maas is doing a book event for Kingdom of Ash in Edinburgh in November and I’m super excited-I mean it’s the final Throne of Glass book people!

Three New Obssessions This Summer:

  1. Suits-I started watching this legal drama towards the end of June, so it just counts for this Rewind, and I really love it, I mean it’s kind of over the top and I’m pretty sure you couldn’t get away with half the stuff they do in a real law firm, but that’s what makes it so great.
  2. Bodyguard-I’ve been watching this series for the past few weeks and I absolutely love it, it’s so dramatic and really well done, I can’t wait to watch the final episode tonight.
  3. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again-Yup I’m obsessed with this film and it’s soundtrack. And also Lily James. No surprises here, I mean it was pretty much guaranteed before I watched it that I was going to become obsessed.

Five Most Popular Blog Posts This Summer:

As always, my five most popular blog posts this Summer were all Top Ten Tuesday posts, you guys really seem to love these:

  1. Top Ten Tuesday #166-As with my last rewind, my most popular post this summer was another cover related one, where I shared red, white and blue covers in honour of US Independence Day. I clearly need to do more cover posts, because you guys really seem to love them.

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/03/top-ten-tuesday-166/

2. Top Ten Tuesday #175-This topic was from a few weeks ago, and wasn’t even about books! Us bookworms love TV almost as much as we love books, and this post about my favourite bingeworthy TV shows got a lot of love.

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/top-ten-tuesday-175/

3. Top Ten Tuesday #167-This post was all about my favourite books of 2018 (so far). I love getting to share book love with everyone, so it was super fun to compile this list of all the books I’ve really enjoyed this year.

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/top-ten-tuesday-167/

4. Top Ten Tuesday #173-This topic was all about books that got us out of reading slumps, as someone who has experienced a lot of reading slumps in the past, it was great to share the books that helped me break that cycle.

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/top-ten-tuesday-173/

5. Top Ten Tuesday #165-This post was all about my favourite sequels, which was great to talk about, so often sequels can be disappointing, especially middle books in a trilogy, so it was great to get to share some sequels that didn’t disappoint!

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/26/top-ten-tuesday-165/

Four Posts I’ve Enjoyed On Other Blogs This Summer:

  1. Avalinah did a great post about something I hadn’t really thought of: how the enemies to lovers trope can be damaging to those who have been bullied. It was a really insightful and interesting post so I wanted to share it here:

http://avalinahsbooks.space/discussion-enemies-to-lovers/

2. Sarah Hatch did this hilariously funny post entitled A Day In The Life of A YA Herione, which takes all of the classic YA heroine tropes and combines them! I dare you not to laugh whilst reading it:

A Day in the Life of a YA Heroine

3. Paper Fury did this really awesome post about writing with a mental illness, I found it really enlightening as it was a window into something that I haven’t personally experienced.

https://paperfury.com/how-write-with-mental-illness/

4. Chelsea Summers from Racked did this great article on the Politics of Pockets, though it is two years old, I read it in this Rewind period so I wanted to include it. As someone who is perennially annoyed by the lack of pockets in women’s clothing, I found this article really interesting and very enlightening.

https://www.racked.com/2016/9/19/12865560/politics-of-pockets-suffragettes-women

Five Things That Happened This Summer:

  1. I went to YALC for the fourth year in a row with my friend Hannah (and this year we were joined by her friend Hannah, not confusing at all), as with every year, it was super fun and I got loads of cool books.
  2. I went to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time with my friend Nicola to see a live recording of The Guilty Feminist podcast, it was so awesome!
  3. I went to the European Championships in Glasgow with my family to see the Men’s Team Gymnastics Final and Team GB won the silver medal which was great to see!
  4. I started my final year of University. Hear that screaming? That’s the sound of my impending mental breakdown.
  5. I turned 22! Last Wednesday actually 🙂

Six Songs I Listened To Way Too Often This Summer:

  1. Waterloo-Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again-Yes I became addicted to this song after I saw the film. No I do not anticipate that stopping anytime soon.
  2. Andante, Andante-Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again-I hadn’t heard this song before I saw the film and now I listen to it near enough constantly. Lily James’ voice is just…..ugh, I can’t even.
  3. My Shot-Hamilton-I mean I’m pretty much constantly listening to one Hamilton song or another!
  4. Super Trouper-Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again-I wasn’t that fond of this song in the first movie, but I’ve found a newfound appreciation for it.
  5. Dancing Queen-Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again-I mean this song can’t fail to get you pumped!
  6. Mamma Mia-Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again-Can you tell I loved this movie yet?

So there we go guys, that’s my Quarterly Rewind for Summer! What have you enjoyed most on my blog this Summer? What have you been up to? What are you looking forward to this Autumn, books or otherwise? Let me know in the comments!

 

Vicious (Villains #1) Review

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Book: Vicious

Author: VE Schwab

Vicious was my September #RockMyTBR book and I was super excited for it, because VE Schwab is one of my absolute favourite authors and I’ve heard nothing but amazing stuff about this book. I’ll admit, I didn’t love it quite as much as the Shades of Magic trilogy, but I wasn’t too surprised by that as I do prefer fantasy to sci-fi esque stories and Vicious definitely falls more into the latter category than the former. The non-linear format kind of confused me at first, but once everything started to come together, I totally understood why V chose to tell the story that way and thought it was really clever. I also loved all of the morally ambiguous characters and how you could still root for them even when they weren’t great people. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

A masterful tale of ambition, jealousy, desire, and superpowers.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question. 

This book was a very character driven story: the plot itself was quite simple, essentially Victor and Eli were friends once and after their experimentation into superpowers, Victor ends up in jail for ten years and when he gets out, he wants revenge on his former friend. Usually I do prefer plot driven stories, and I will admit that the pacing was a little off through this book despite it taking place over a short period of time, but fortunately, the characters in this story were strong enough that it wasn’t such a deal breaker that I wasn’t always compelled by the plot.

Eli and Victor were both very intriguing and complex characters and I loved reading about them. Their friendship/enmity was really interesting to read about and it was quite cool seeing both the parallels (and there are many) and differences between their characters. Victor comes off as the more sympathetic one, because we get to spend more time in his head, but even then, he certainly couldn’t be characterised as “good”. Eli was the more obviously psychopathic one, he didn’t really seem to have any redeeming qualities, but I still really enjoyed reading about him-it was quite interesting to see the differences in how they both viewed themselves, Eli sees himself as this saviour type figure whereas Victor is quite openly cruel and happy to be the villain. I found Victor quite refreshing because unlike Eli, he didn’t think he was being evil for the greater good, he was quite conscious of his cruel streak and was unapologetic about it, which I liked. It was very cool that their powers were essentially polar opposites, I think that just highlighted both the similarities and differences in their characters.

I also really loved the side characters, they were all really well thought out and generally well developed (aside from Serena, who I felt could have been developed a little more) and refreshingly complex-often side characters can feel a bit flat, this was not the case here. Sydney & Mitch were both great and I loved the little dysfunctional family that they formed with Victor. Mitch was definitely the most likeable character in the book, he just wanted to keep everyone safe and I just wanted to give him a big hug most of the time. Sydney starts off as an innocent little girl, but you can see that innocence slowly creeping away through the book which was definitely cool to see-I can’t wait to see what she does after some of the events of the climax of the book.

The A-linear storytelling was a bit confusing at first, since we were jumping around all these different time periods without all that much context, but once everything started to come together, I enjoyed the unusual narrative style, though I did feel like the pace somewhat lagged in places. I did like however that the chapters were very short, it made the book a lot easier to get into-I think had the book had the a-linear story and super long chapters, I probably would have given up! I also loved that the story, whilst being a-linear was also kind of circular, the story starts and ends with the characters in the same place-the graveyard, so it does give you a sense that the narrative has come full circle. I liked that the book was under 400 pages as well, it meant there was no unnecessary filler.

I loved the EO powers, I thought they were all really cool, and quite different from the powers that you often see in superheroes (or in this case supervillians!) and I thought the whole system of becoming an EO, through a Near Death Experience and then your power being whatever you desired at the point of your death, was so cool and really well thought out. That side of the world building was really well done, the only thing I would say is that I would have quite liked the setting and timing of the story to have been more embellished, all we get is that it takes place in a urban setting sometime in the near future and for an author who I know is extremely good at worldbuilding, the vagueness was a little disappointing.

There was a refreshing lack of romance in this book-that is none! I love that VE Schwab doesn’t always focus on the romantic storyline, this book had so many different types of relationships, friendships, sibling relationships, found families, and they were all platonic, it was wonderful. Romance definitely wouldn’t have fit in this novel, so I’m very glad that V didn’t shoehorn it in!

There was a dog! I love it when books have animal companions and Sydney’s dog Dol was a great addition to the motley crew of Victor, Mitch and Sydney.

The climax was really exciting, though I did feel like it was a little rushed and I didn’t love that there was a new EO introduced just for plot reasons because it felt like he didn’t have the time to get the same development as the other characters. Even though I was spoiled for the ending, I was still left with my mouth hanging open, it was that good. I can’t wait to see what happens in Vengeful!

Overall, this was a really cool, unique book and despite it taking me a while to get into the story due to the narrative style, I thought the characters were really great and I loved that VE Schwab did something completely different and unexpected-I don’t think I’ll ever read a book like this from anyone else, so that’s pretty awesome!

My Rating: 4/5

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Sydney and Serena do have a few brief conversations that don’t revolve around men.

I don’t know what my next review will be, since I can’t really decide what I want to read at the moment, so I guess you guys will find out once I’ve read it!