Where’d You Go, Absent Blogger?
A Year in the Life of a Determined Reader.
‘Where’d You Go, Absent Blogger?’ I hear you ask (or maybe not, but roll with me for a moment.)
‘Does thou not read anymore? To post no book reviews?’
Why no, loyal reader. If anything, I read too much and have too many books and too little time.
It is the year 2018, the year in which I must read the books I have chosen for this 365 days, or wallow in shame for all eternity.
Disclaimer: I blame a fellow bookseller.
A reading journal seemed like a fun idea when the idea first swept by me. I have no artistic talent, so it wasn’t going to be one of those gorgeous, arty, stylish journals no matter how hard I tried (although I was determined to put at least one drawing in there, for the sake of pride.)
A couple of years ago Andy Miller gave a talk on my creative writing course about his book ‘The Year of Reading Dangerously’. A left the talk full of plans – I was going to read ‘The Odyssey’, and ‘Middlemarch’ would not defeat me after the first paragraph.
Alas, life got in the way, ‘The Odyssey’ was put on a back bench until after my studies, ‘Middlemarch’ was put in the loft, and bookselling and blogging introduced so many other books to me, ones that I had to review promptly, that I forgot about that promise I’d made to myself.
That is until this year, when on the 1st January 2018, my Kindle broke.
Now I am a very firm lover of the book in its original form, but for my work as a book blogger, my Kindle was an important part. My reviews came from reading egalleys from Netgalley and publishers, and I never got into reading on the Kindle App on an iPad or phone, so Kindle was the way I did it.
What to do, I asked myself. Debating on whether to buy a new Kindle (after only two years of the last one!), I stared at one of my many bookshelves.
I have a lot of books. Alright, I know people always say that. People come into the bookshop I work in and claim the same. I soon get out of them, that their idea of ‘lot of books’ is actually a pile next to their bed. My ‘lot of books’ I have accumulated in my 25 years of life, and 3 1/2 years as a bookseller consist of 10 full size bookcases double-stacked, dozens of full cardboard and heavy duty plastic boxes in two lofts, the same in a garage, in boxes under my bed, under the spare bed, in my wardrobe, in my locker at work…you get the idea. If me and my bookseller boyfriend put all our books together we’d have a nice little library.
And still I buy more.
So I decided in that moment, 2018 would not be the year of the kindle, but a year of getting through some of the books I have bought and that have sat patiently on my shelf (or in boxes) for longer than they ought to have.
I started with 18 books that I have to read this year – with some others in between, as my Goodreads reading challenge is to read 60 books.
Below is my ‘To-Read 2018’ and my ‘2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge’ when I first started. Follow the link here to see how I’ve been progressing in my journey.
And as we say at work: Books, Books, Books!
And Happy Reading!
The Rise of the Dawnstar by Farah Oomerbhoy
(The Avalonia Chronicles #2)
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: 24th April 2017.
Aurora Firedrake returns in the spellbinding sequel to The Last of the Firedrakes.
The seven kingdoms of Avalonia are crumbling and evil is spreading across the land like a plague. Queen Morgana is close to finding a way to open The Book of Abraxas and it’s only a matter of time until she uses the power trapped inside its pages to enslave the entire world.
With Avalonia growing more dangerous by the day, Aurora must travel through war-torn lands and deep into the heart of the fae kingdom of Elfi. Her goal is to find a legendary weapon infused with the last of the realm’s ancient magic—the only weapon in the world powerful enough to stop the queen.
Aurora might have survived her first battle against Morgana, but the true fight to save her kingdom and restore her throne has only just begun…
Book Review ~ ‘The Rise of the Dawnstar’ by Farah Oomerbhoy ~ 4 Stars!
Wow! What a stunning follow-up to the wonderful ‘The Last of the Firedrakes’. I’d been eagerly awaiting this book since the second I put down the first and boy was I not disappointed.
Farah Oomerbhoy has developed so much as a writer and in this instalment I felt even more at home in the world of Avalonia, and loved how the world-building had strengthened so much. Traveling alongside Aurora through the war-torn kingdoms, we get to see more of more of the Kingdoms of Avalonia, and the dangers that behold our princess.
I loved the development of her character and the strength of her resolve to face the worst, even whilst at times still acting like a typical teenager, which made me so happy to see. We see developments in her love-life as well, but you’ll just have to read that yourself – no spoilers from me. Only to say, there is a new player in the game we call love!
Oomerbhoy has the most beautiful writing style which twists and flows, taking you along in the story with ease. I read for hours before realising that it was late at night, because I was so immersed. The sign of a great storyteller.
Farah Oomerbhoy is the international bestselling author of The Avalonia Chronicles. Her first book, The Last of the Firedrakes, was originally published on Wattpad where it gained over two million reads and a Watty Award. Since publication, her debut has gone on to win a silver medal in IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards and the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, along with winning a finalist placement in the USA Best Book Awards. Farah loves the fantastical and magical and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest. With a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai, Farah spends her creative time crafting magical worlds for young adults. She lives with her family in Mumbai, India.
Monday, April 24th
Tuesday, April 25th
Wednesday, April 26th
Thursday, April 27th
Monday, May 1st
Tuesday, May 2nd
Wednesday, May 3rd
Thursday, May 4th
Friday, May 5th
Monday, May 8th
Tuesday, May 9th
Review – Fabric of Life
Wednesday, May 10th
Guest post and review – Kindle and Me (http://www.kindleandme.com)
Review – LiyareadsYA (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy57923LodhcqD8QLYurgyQ?app=desktop )
Thursday, May 11th
Friday, May 12th
The List by Patricia Forde.
Genres: Middle-Grade, Fantasy/Sci-Fi.
Release Date: 1st August 2017.
Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.
In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.
On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.
Book Review ~ ‘The List’ by Patricia Forde ~ 4 Stars!
A heartfelt and inspiring tale set in a scarily recognisable near future, The List is a wonderful middle-grade tale of the power of words.
Cleverly twining etymology into her dystopian world, Patricia Forde allows us to see the strain that comes within a society where words are controlled by the regime. As a lover of words, and fiction, it was uncomfortable in such a brilliant way to see Letta and her fellow companions in Ark speak only List approved words. It was so intriguing to see how when you get rid of one word, how easy it is to then follow suit with others.
I adored Letta’s character and her love for words leapt from the page. In her battle to find out what happened to her long-lost family and her master, the Wordsmith Benjamin, you will root for her as she forges unexpected alliances and battles for the rights of words.
A really powerful book aimed at a middle-grade audience, this will make the reader think. There is also some set-up for future books in this world, which will give the reader a bit more closure, as I feel the end to this book was quite rushed. Nevertheless, I definitely recommend to readers aged 9-12, who want something that will challenge their thoughts and beliefs.
*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Available for Pre-Order
~ Goodreads ~
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Genres: Romance, Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: 7th February 2017.
Dark, romantic and unforgettable, a fantastical coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Darkest Part of the Forest.
Deep in his terrifying realm underground, the cold and forbidding Goblin King casts a dark shadow over nineteen-year-old Liesl. Her grandmother has always warned her to follow the old laws, for every year on the longest night of winter, she claims, the Goblin King will emerge into the waking world in search of his eternal bride. Sensible and plain, Liesl knows it’s her duty to keep her beautiful sister Käthe safe from harm. But Liesl finds refuge only in her wild, captivating music, composed in secret in honor of the mysterious Goblin King.
When Käthe is stolen by the Goblin King, Liesl knows she must set aside her childish fantasies to journey to the Underground and save her. Drawn despite herself to the strange, beautiful world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she finds herself facing an impossible choice. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.
Set at the turn of the 19th century, when young upstart composers like Beethoven were forever altering the sound of music, S. Jae-Jones’ richly imagined debut spins a spellbinding tale of music, love, sisterhood, and a young woman’s search for self-actualization.
Book Review ~ ‘Wintersong’ by S. Jae-Jones ~ 5+ Stars!
My God, this book. Just wow! I mean, just…umm. *speechless*
I may ramble incoherently, as I often do about the books I love, but this stunning book is so rich, sexy, magical that I feel I need to just scream about it from the roof-tops.
Once there was a little girl who played her music for a little boy in the wood. She was small and dark, he was tall and fair, and the two of them made a fancy pair as they danced together, dancing to the music the little girl heard in her head.
First off – That beginning. Oh my god! Fairy tales are a big favourite of mine, and from that first paragraph, I was enraptured, I could picture it in my head and was excited for the story to come. Music and magic coming together are a match-made in heaven for me, and as the story unfolds the sensual effect of music, magic and love left me breathless.
Secondly, the characters will stay with you for a long time after you finish reading. Liesl, Käthe, the Goblin King – all were so well-developed and so extraordinary that they leapt off the page and I could see everything about them that I needed to to really believe in them. I understood the battle of light and dark in the Goblin King, I felt Liesl’s reluctance to find herself, after years of helping her siblings find themselves, and Käthe, the girl who realises after it is too late how much she loves her sister.
Written in mind for the elder YA audience, this book has everything in it I wish I’d had to read as a teenager. Deeply, but not overtly, sensual, I would not recommend it for under sixteen years old, but there is something about this book that will trap you in its spell and let you recognise your own desires through Liesl’s experimentations with her music.
A stunningly written, sensual and fantastical romance, Wintersong is a must-read for fans of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Angela Carter.
*Review copy kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
~ Waterstones ~
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
(Clash of Kingdoms #1)
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: 27th December 2016.
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, a legendary bounty hunter—that is, until her father is murdered. The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart.
She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a force to be reckoned with.
Book Review ~ ‘Ever the Hunted’ by Erin Summerill ~ 4 Stars!
An exciting and engaging debut from author Erin Summerill, Ever the Hunted highlights this author’s talent for storytelling and world-building, and starts us on a journey that will take you across kingdoms in the fight for truth.
Ever the Hunted introduces us to Britt, a young girl left to fend for herself after her father’s murder months earlier. Britt is a strong character and I loved seeing her develop throughout the novel, especially as she becomes softer in heart, yet harder in mind. Her prior relationship with her father’s accused murderer added an exciting element to the story, and I loved seeing how she had to question what the evidence suggested, and with what her heart was telling her.
There is some gorgeous world-building in this novel, and I loved the story behind the clashes of the two kingdom’s (something I’d like to see further explored in future books in the series).
Overall this was a superbly written adventure through foreign lands in search of the truth, and I am excited to see where the series will take us next.
*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review*
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.
(The Bear and the Nightingale #1)
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Fairy Tales.
Release Date: 12th January 2017
A young woman’s family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain,intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, the father hides the gift away and his daughter, Vasya, grows up a wild, willfull girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.
Atmospheric and enchanting, with an engrossing adventure at its core, The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman.
Book Review ~ ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden ~ 5 Stars!
Lyrical, Fantastical, and Awe inspiring, The Bear and the Nightingale is up there with Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, and has me still thinking about it.
A beautiful historical tale of family, fairytales, and the dangers of mass-hysteria, Katherine Arden has created a story with tones of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat and Russian fairytales that have been passed down through generations. We follow Vasya’s story, a young girl who grows up without her mother, and is in a world that is hovering between modern religion and practice, and the rituals, beliefs and superstitions of old; Spirits are to be given offerings in exchange for their protection, the signs of nature listened to and heeded, slowly being feared and shunned in favour of a christian way of life.
Vasya has a gift to speak with the spirits and demons that surround her village, but with this gift, as paranoia grows in the village, and her stepmother’s hatred for her grows more and more, Vasya is in danger of forces both real and supernatural as she tries to keep those she loves safe.
A magical tale that will take you to the freezing winters of a small Russian village, and will creep into your heart like the tiniest of icicles, making you shudder and gasp as you follow Vasya’s fantastical story.
*Review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
~ Waterstones ~