Top 10 Tuesday: Series I Haven't Finished Yet

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is a freebie, and I’ve decided to list the top 10 series I really want to finish! I’m not very good at finishing series, even ones that I love. I don’t like reading books in a series one after another, and there will often be a year in between me reading each book. I do need to stop leaving such long gaps in between as I do forget what happened in the previous book!

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Where has this series been? Why didn’t I read it sooner? Daughter of Smoke and Bone is (so far) my only five star read of the year, so I’m excited to read the rest of the trilogy.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Having devoured the first two books in this series last year, I haven’t ended picking up another one this year. I really need to rectify that next year, though it’s a long series so I don’t know when I’ll end up finishing this one!

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Book Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal            

Publishing Info: April 2019 by Titan Books

Pages: 400

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

The Devouring Gray really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. Christine Lynn Herman does an amazing job of creating a spooky and suspenseful atmosphere throughout the book. The opening drew me in and the book held my attention the whole way through. The writing has a good balance of description and I found her writing to be very evocative and engaging. I’ve seen The Devouring Gray repeatedly compared to Stranger Things, but I haven’t watched that show so can’t say if that’s an accurate comparison.   

The book switches between the perspectives of several different characters, but I found it easy to follow and didn’t get any characters mixed up. Violet’s grief for her lost sister and the difficult relationship she has with her mother is really well portrayed. She has been brought up away from Four Paths and doesn’t know anything about the Gray or her family’s role as founders. In books there is often a main character who is brought unknowingly into a magical world of some sort, but what I liked about this book is that we also see the perspectives of characters who already live in that ‘world’. This made a change from solely seeing the perspective of the ‘newcomer’. It was interesting to see how Violet learned about Four Paths, but also to see through the eyes of characters seeing a ‘newcomer’ arriving to their town and how that shifted things for them.

Each of the characters has their own story, conflict and secrets. I loved Harper’s character and her determination to overcome what’s happened to her in the past and the prejudice she now faces. Justin, despite from the outside appearing to be the perfect founder, is actually struggling with his own problems and secrets too. I felt a connection to all the central characters and enjoyed seeing how their individual plot strands came together.   

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November 2019 Wrap Up

This month has been fairly quiet so I’ve managed to get a decent amount of reading and writing done, and also wrote several blog posts for this month too. I’ve made a start on Christmas shopping but still have quite a few things left to buy. It’s my choir’s winter concert next weekend so I should probably do some more practicing this weekend!

Reading

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was a little disappointing. I didn’t love it and I just think it wasn’t the right book for me. I finally got round to reading Defy the Worlds, the sequel to Claudia Gray’s Defy the Stars, which I absolutely loved. Although I didn’t like it quite as much, the sequel is still thrilling and a great read! I requested one eARC from Netgalley – A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr. The world building is great, but other aspects weren’t so strong, and I ended up being disappointed by this one too.

Book Haul

This month I only bought one book and it’s due to arrive in the post today! When I was looking at Black Friday deals on Amazon I discovered the 10th Anniversary edition of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare at half price so made an impulse purchase. I love Cassandra Clare’s books and City of Bones will always be special as the first of her books that I read.

Writing

I only have a few chapters left to write in my current WIP and I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the year! I’ve been a bit stuck on another novel that I’ve been redrafting for the last couple of years. Something about it just wasn’t gelling, but I randomly had a massive idea last night that would radically change it, but might just make it work. It’s a story I love so I would really like to try and get it published one day once everything clicks into place. It’s nearly there, it just needs something.  

I can’t believe there’s only one month to go in 2019. This year seems to have gone really fast.  

Book Review: A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr (eARC)

A Throne of Swans by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy  

Publishing Info: eARC from Bonnier Zaffre  

Pages: 352

Star Rating: 2/5

Back Cover Summary:

In a world where the flightless are ruled by those who can fly…

When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn’s ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother – ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors. 

With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.

Written in rich detail and evocative language, this is the start of an irresistible, soaring duology about courage, broken loyalties and fighting for your place in the world.

Thank you so much to Bonnier Zaffre and NetGalley for the eARC of this book.

The concept for this book’s world is what first caught my attention. Also, the cover is striking and the title, A Throne of Swans, is clearly similar to A Game of Thrones. In this book’s world, shape-shifters are the rulers and the flightless, those who cannot transform into birds, are inferior. This is the strongest aspect of A Throne of Swans. This societal structure is well thought out and depicted, including integration into the characters’ language and interactions.

Aderyn is a likeable but uninteresting protagonist. She has a strong character arc, as she seeks to overcome her own fears and regain her ability to fly. However compared to most of the other characters she seems entirely honourable and above reproach. Lucien criticises some of her actions, as she thinks before she acts at times, and is unversed in court manners. But I felt her character lacked depth. Other characters were quite one-dimensional, and the antagonists weren’t intimidating and lacked motivation beyond a need for power. Any reasons for their actions are left a mystery, making them into almost caricature power-hungry villains plotting to take the throne. One antagonist in particular features substantially in the book, having multiple conversations with Aderyn, and giving the authors ample opportunity to provide insight into that characters motivations. But sadly that wasn’t explored at all, missing an opportunity to add more depth. 

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Writing Corner: Is My Book YA?

For today’s Writing Corner, I’m going to talk about categorising your novel by age. I see a lot of people on Twitter and forums who aren’t sure where their novel fits, or how much it matters. If you want to be published, it does matter, because that is how the publishing industry categorises fiction, but don’t get too hung up on it.

Middle grade (MG)

MG is generally written for, and features characters, aged from around 8 to 13 years old. These books are usually shorter than young adult books, and don’t have as much romance or violence. They often (but not always) have fun adventures and although they can touch on more serious subject matter, don’t explore it in as much detail as young adult books.

Young adult (YA)

YA is aimed roughly at those aged 13-18, with characters in that same age range, though characters are most commonly 15-18 years old. YA explores more serious subject matter than MG, including more mature content, with romance playing a much bigger role. YA also has more self-reflection and focuses more on the personal evolution of a central character. These novels are often coming of age, looking at the ups and downs of being a teenager. They can explore relationships, sex, mental illness, death etc. far more than MG. As well as this, they can often present more of a reflection on our society and current issues, and explore the characters finding their place in the world.

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Book Review: Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction           

Publishing Info: March 2018 by Hot Key Books

Pages: 394

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Noemi Vidal has returned to her planet, Genesis, as an outsider – ostracised for refusing to end the Liberty War by sacrificing Abel, the most advanced mechanical man ever made. She dreams of travelling through the stars again, and when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. The only soldier to have ever left her planet, it will be up to her to save its people. If only she wasn’t flying right into a trap.

Abel, now fully aware of his soul and captaining his own Vagabond ship, never dreamed he’d see Noemi again, not when the entire universe stands between them. But when his creator Burton Mansfield delivers news of Noemi’s entrapment, Abel knows he must save her, even if it means risking his own life.

Danger lurks in the dark corners of the galaxy, and Abel and Noemi will discover a secret that could save Genesis and Earth… or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider what drives us, and where we truly belong.

The first book in this trilogy, Defy the Stars, was absolutely gripping and thrilling to read. I liked that it also explored complex issues and topics such as what it means to be human. Defy the Worlds continues to do that. While it was a little slow at the start, the stakes are quickly ramped up. Claudia Gray is great at getting her characters in difficult situations and forcing them to think of ways to get out of them.

I love Noemi and Abel as characters, and their relationship with each other. Noemi is so headstrong and determined to defend her planet. Meanwhile Abel, as a mech, is still trying to work out his human side in many ways. They have a few differences in opinion, but there actually isn’t much character development for either of them in this book. In Defy the Stars, Noemi has to overcome her preconceived notions of mechs, and Abel has to fight an internal battle against Directive One (his programming). There seemed to be a lot more character development in the first book. However, saying that, the events of this book seem to lend themselves to greater character development in the final installment.

I like how this series questions what it means to be human. Despite how Noemi has come to see Abel as having a ‘soul’ despite being a mech, some other humans still treat him differently and as lesser. This is a really interesting concept to see played out. Even as the books progress, Abel’s own understanding of what and who he is changes as he learns more about his unique life state through his experiences. The book also explores elitism, poverty and biological warfare, so there is some pretty deep subject matter amongst the action.

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Book Discussion: The Rise of the Exclusive Edition

Has anyone noticed that exclusive editions, particularly in YA, have suddenly become a massive thing? I’m not even sure when exactly this happened. It seems to have grown slowly. Book subscription boxes have exclusive editions, usually signed, but also with alternative covers, sprayed edges or different end pages. Bookshops like Waterstones also sell exclusive editions. They are very enticing. The book industry seems to have caught on to the fact that people not only like books, they like pretty books, and I guess they also like the idea of having something that’s exclusive or limited edition.

I have only two of these editions. The first is the Illumicrate edition of Once and Future. I haven’t read it yet, when I bought it I didn’t know for sure if I would like it, but it was high up on my TBR list and it was so beautiful I couldn’t help but fork my money out for it. I also bought the Fairyloot October box which included The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh with sprayed edges and artwork on the dust jacket. I doubt they will be the last I am tempted into buying.  

One thing I’m not usually persuaded to buy is Collector’s Editions. I never buy more than one copy of a book. I know others do but it’s just not something I usually do. I often go into bookshops and pick up collector’s editions of my favourite books that have bonus content, but there never seems to be enough new content to persuade me I need another copy. There’s something special about the copy of the book I first read, that makes that edition the special one to me. Plus there are so many different editions of books that it could get expensive getting all those fancy hardbacks! I’m sure I’ll cave though and buy a collector’s edition at some point! I am tempted to get the Throne of Glass collector’s edition as I only have it as an ebook.  

To return to exclusive editions of new books, I see photos of them flying around Twitter and Instagram and am sucked in. They have definitely caught onto something with this. I’m not complaining. I like the idea of having something special. But it makes me so tempted to buy more books when I already have so many unread on my shelves! Also if there are so many exclusive and special editions out there, are they that limited or special anymore?  

What do you think about special/exclusive/limited/collector’s editions? Do you love collecting copies of your favourite books, or are you not all that bothered by special editions?