Let’s Wrap: September

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Is it just me, or did September go really quick? I can’t quite remember what I did for the entirety of September except read, go to training at Lush, and visit my boyfriend. And that’s it. What else even happened?

However, I am officially halfway through writing my novel which is amaaazing. I’m hoping to have the first draft done by Christmas and it’ll be the first novel I have ever completed, despite writing the beginnings of dozens of novels for years. Fingers crossed!

I’m also at 239 followers overall (WordPress and Bloglovin combined) which I am so happy about so thank you everyone who has followed this little blog of mine, it means a lot!

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I’m currently reading Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and I’m about two thirds of the way through. I am really really enjoying it. However, at the moment I’m thinking of a 4.5/5 rating rather than the full 5/5. Why? I hate to say it, but the protagonist of Mia annoys me a little. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t connect to her as much as I’d like to; she kinda gets on my nerves and I prefer some of the side characters to her. Anyone else found this or am I in the minority? From what I’ve seen, I’m thinking it’s just me with this problem.

I still have the likes of these YA Fantasy bad boys to read which you can see above, so I’m excited to get my teeth into them.

However, I’m considering taking part in a Halloween Read-a-thon towards the end of October so I may be bypassing the Fantasy and reading some Horror instead. I’ve read a lot of Fantasy recently so a change would be good I think, as well as maybe some Historical fiction I’ve had sitting in my TBR for a while.

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How was your September? Have you read any of the books above? Let me know in the comments below!

caitlin

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The Sunday Post #15

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at The Caffeinated Book Reviewer in which book bloggers recap their week and look at what’s to come.

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Another pretty uneventful week, but next week I’m visiting my boyfriend so that should shake up my boring life a bit!

I’m still working on my novel and I’m almost halfway through writing it which is very exciting. I’ve been writing since I was a child and this is the first proper novel I’m determined to finish. So, fingers crossed!

Anyway, the posts this week:

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I’ve just finished the final book in The Passage series by Justin Cronin, which was such an amazing book (and series). I’m pretty sad now and I have no idea what I’m going to read next. I’m thinking Nevernight, but I honestly don’t know, there are too many good books in my TBR like Six of Crows, An Ember in the Ashes, A Darker Shade of Magic and Radio Silence to name but a few.

However, seeing as I just finished a Science Fantasy novel, I’m thinking I should try and read something other than Fantasy next. I might just sit and stare at my TBR for a bit.

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I haven’t listened to anything new this week, so have some London Grammar:

caitlin

Review: The City of Mirrors (Passage #3) by Justin Cronin

510kmqjtbslThe City of Mirrors (Passage #3) by Justin Cronin

Genre: Science Fantasy / Post-Apocalyptic / Horror

Publisher: Orion, 2016

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: The plague that almost ended humanity is finally over. For a new generation, the once-feared virals have begun to seem almost like imaginary monsters, creatures from a fairy tale they no longer believe in.

For Alicia, however, the bad dreams can never be forgotten. And the voice in those dreams is leading her towards one of the great cities of The Time Before. The ruined city of New York.

Ruined but not empty. For this is the final refuge of Zero, the first and most terrible product of the viral experiment. And Alicia knows that the nightmare can never truly be over until he is destroyed.

But what she finds is not what she’s expecting.

An opponent at once deadlier and more human than she could ever have imagined, who takes her on a terrifying journey into the past to learn how it all began.

And to find out how it must end.

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My Review

WARNING: This review will contain minor spoilers for the first two books in the series. No major plot points will be revealed, nor information on who lives and who dies. Read on at your own risk. However, this review is spoiler-free in terms of the plot of The City of Mirrors.

I’m so sad to have finished this series. I started reading it back in 2010 when The Passage was first released. I was hooked from the start. At the time I was only 15. Now I’m 21 and this trilogy has remained with me, as well as remaining one of my favourite series of all time.

So, after the events of The Twelve, peace seems to have finally returned to North America. Or so it seems.

Make no mistake, this final book isn’t just a long, drawn-out conclusion tying up a bunch of pointless loose ends. No way. It’s just as poignant, hopeful and exciting as the first two installments, with an abundance of drama and tension.

The Passage was a rip-roaring read, most probably my favourite book in the series. The Twelve was excellent, however I felt it dragged a little in some places. Not enough for me to lose interest, of course, but still slightly slower in comparison. Thankfully though, it was by no means that dreaded filler book that the second novel in a trilogy quite often is; like The Passage, it had its own clear arc and revelations. As such, I like to think of this series as a vampiric The Lord of the Rings. Like The Fellowship of the Ring, The Passage gets the action started. We learn who the main players are and the identity of the main antagonist (Zero here, Sauron in LOTR), but we’re nowhere near close to defeating him yet. Instead, the antagonist of this first book is a lesser player, Babcock in The Passage and the Balrog of Morgoth in Fellowship. Subsequently, the group splits and moves on to the next antagonist, the main villain’s second-in-command. In The Twelve, it’s, well, The Twelve (or rather, the Eleven); the main virals, Zero’s henchmen. In The Two Towers, it’s Saruman, Sauron’s right-hand man. Now that they’ve been defeated, we’re onto the big one, the main villain, the final adversary who has been pulling the strings behind the scenes all along. Zero here is our Sauron, and The City of Mirrors is our The Return of the King.

Now, that’s where the similarities end, of course. No orcs or hobbits, but the The Passage series is no less epic in its own way. Thankfully, the final installment didn’t disappoint. I finished this book with tears in my eyes, barely able to see the last page. It’s a bittersweet book, a culmination of blood, sweat and tears from the characters (and from the author, I suspect). For years, the characters have struggled against the wasteland they inhabit – where the virals roam and Zero watches on – desperate to finally live in peace. The characters’ arcs reached their conclusion in this book, all in a satisfying way. There is an air of destiny in this trilogy and all the characters fulfilled theirs, whether it be good or bad, but I couldn’t argue that it all felt right. Everything about this book seems deliberate. Nothing is rushed or a coincidence. Everything is clearly mapped from the start, all the fates intertwined, and that’s what makes it a joy to read.

However, this series is all about a girl who saves the world, Amy Harper Bellafonte. Does Amy save it? I won’t say, but Cronin has written a remarkable set of characters, with Amy at the centre. This is a series with a huge cast and here we continue with the lives of Peter, Alicia, Sara, Hollis, Michael and Carter, among many other new characters. And we also finally get to know who Zero, aka Dr Timothy Fanning, really is. Somehow, Cronin has managed to create a villain you feel sorry for. Fanning has done terrible things, but in this book you’ll learn why. I could see the logic behind his actions and I pitied him, yet it didn’t excuse what he’d done; it was time for Fanning to give up his hold on the land.

What I’ve always loved about this story is its mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Like I said, there’s a real sense of destiny in these books, a mysticism in its words, coupled with a raw humanity that I loved, and of course the origin of the vampiric, zombie-like virus isn’t wholly within the realm of science. This is a series of death and destruction, love and hate, joy and sorrow, with no punches pulled, but at its core is hope.

The plot of this book is faster-paced than The Twelve, I would say, and still as exciting as both its predecessors. All loose ends are tied up neatly, including the ending. I thought the ending was really well done. There’s nothing worse than getting attached to a series, only for the finale to be anti-climactic and just plain wrong. Thankfully, this trilogy doesn’t fall into that hole. As I said, I finished this with tears blurring my vision, and that was the case for much of the book.

I don’t really know what else to say. This series is brilliant. Complex, tense, exciting, heart-breaking and hopeful, it’s everything you could ask for. These characters are ones that will stay with me for a long time, as will the story itself. However, it’s not truly over. Before even The Passage was published, the film rights for the series were bought. Ridley Scott is the director so I am extremely excited; I don’t think anyone could do a better job at making these books into films than him. So that’s something to look forward to in the future. For now, I’m going to feel sad probably for a whole week, but also happy. It’s bittersweet to finish a series you loved, especially one as good as this, and I can’t recommend it enough.

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Have you read this series? Or do you want to start it? Let me know in the comments below!

caitlin

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books of the Sci-Fi Genre

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books of X Genreand I have chosen Sci-Fi because it’s such a broad genre. From space opera to the apocalypse to dystopia, Sci-Fi encompasses so many different genres and that’s what I love about it. It can be funny, harrowing, epic or terrifying, there’s just so much scope.

NB, where I list the genres of the novels below and write ‘Sci-Fi’, it means it’s set in space. If it doesn’t list ‘Sci-Fi’, then it’s not set in space.

So, in no particular order, let’s begin:

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The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin, Post-Apocalyptic / Science Fantasy / Horror: I’m currently on the final book of this series and I’m so sad it’s almost over for me. This series has been with me for years and I’ve loved it. It’s extremely well written with a huge cast of characters and such a detailed plot. Also, Stephen King loves it. Need I say more?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan, Post-Apocalyptic / Zombie Outbreak / Young Adult: This is a really harrowing and unique series, fraught with emotion and tension. These books had my heart racing so often that I thought I might keel over before finishing it. Thankfully, I’m still here to tell the tale.

Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown, Sci-Fi / Dystopian / Young Adult: I’ve only read the first two books in this series and I’m waiting to get my hands on Morning Star but, so far, this trilogy has been exceptional. Great characters, a complex plot and amazing world-building.

Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, Science Fantasy / Horror: This is one of those novels that flits between science and the fantastical which I really loved. The first novel is amazing, and the others great too (I devoured them all one after the other, they were that good I didn’t want to read anything else) but the first novel was definitely the best in the way it was written. These books are terrifying and confusing, in a good way.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, Sci-Fi / Young AdultIlluminae was just too good. I don’t know how Kaufman and Kristoff pulled it off. This series had me laughing one moment and sobbing the next. It was ruthless and hopeful, a truly great, truly terrifying, Sci-Fi novel that would make such an amazing film. (But only if Ridley Scott did it, please).

Pure trilogy by Julianna Baggott, Post-Apocalyptic / Young Adult: I’ve raved about this series many a time on this blog because it deserves so much more recognition than it actually gets. The characters and writing in this book are amazing, with El Capitan being one of my favourite characters I’ve ever come across; I have such a soft spot for all of the characters in this series. It’s also a truly unique idea and these books don’t pull any punches. Seriously, read them.

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, Post-Apocalyptic / Zombie Outbreak: This book has been made into a film which is being released this month! However, just in case the film is terrible, read the book first. Melanie is a brilliant character, full of hope, and the writing again is great.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, Post-Apocalyptic / Zombie Outbreak / Romance (but good romance): This was such a good book, so philosophical and funny and poignant. As I’ve said before, one of my favourite passages ever written is in this book. I’d point it out, but it’s basically a major spoiler. However, the sequel to this novel is out the beginning of next year and I cannot wait.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Science Fantasy / Time-Travel: David Mitchell is one of my favourite authors and this is my favourite book of his. It’s another one that mixes science with the fantastical, and I love David Mitchell’s style. His writing is great, always funny but also emotional, and he weaves the threads of different people’s lives together in a complex, but ultimately satisfying, way. I don’t know how he does it, but it’s impossible not to become emotionally invested in his characters, even when they aren’t that nice. This book made me laugh and cry.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Dystopian / Speculative Fiction: Atwood is the queen of dystopian and speculative fiction. My teacher gave me a tattered copy of this book to read when I was in high school as she thought it would be something I’d like, and this is what kick-started my love for these kinds of genres. Beautifully written, deeply feminist, and with a unique world, I will never get bored of this book.

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What are some of your favourite Sci-Fi novels? Do you agree with any of my picks? I could go on, to be honest, but it’s Top Ten Tuesday, not Top 100 Tuesday. Anyway, let me know in the comments below!

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Beauty and the Beast Book Tag

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST BOOK TAG

Thanks to icebreaker694 who tagged me for this a little while back, I’m finally getting round to it! Go check out her blog if you don’t follow her! And thanks to the creator of the tag,  Kristy and the Cat Read too!

Questions

1. TALE AS OLD AS TIME – A popular theme, trope or setting you will never get bored of reading

Okay, this has to be dystopian for me. Everyone is saying “oh it’s so overdone now”, but I totally disagree. As long as the society and plot are unique then I’m happy! I love the idea of different societies and what life might be like under a regime where kids kill each other for entertainment in arenas (The Hunger Games) or where a child hasn’t been born in decades ( The Children of Men). There are endless possibilities in this genre, so I don’t appreciate it when some books are clearly a rip-off of another and are just trying to jump on the bandwagon.

2. BELLE- A book you bought for its beautiful cover that’s just as beautiful inside too9780765379948_custom-a047a9fe6159435f98535d0c3369b717733b8de1-s400-c85

All the Birds in the Sky was definitely an immediate cover-buy, although the blurb sounded really interesting too. It mentions the word ‘apocalypse’ after all so I was totally sold! However, I try not to buy books simply because I like their covers. A book could have some amazing cover art, but if it sounds boring or isn’t really my cup of tea, I won’t get it.

You can check out my review for All the Birds in the Sky here. It was a really magical and fantastical book, with some great characterisation too.

3. BEAST – A book you didn’t expect much from but that pleasantly surprised youthrone_of_glass_uk

This has to be Throne of Glass. I hate the covers to this series. I know I just said I try not to judge a book by it’s cover but I just really don’t like the covers! I think they’re very kiddy and a bit corny. It definitely put me off when I first saw Throne of Glass, but then I also thought the blurb sounded pretty cliche too, so I steered clear. Like I said, if the synopsis had sounded great I might have tried it a bit earlier and not been such a snob. But when I joined the blogosphere and saw everyone raving about this series, I decided to finally give it a shot. And lo and behold, I was proven entirely wrong; I loved the first book! I’ve only read the one but I hope to get my hands on the second book sometime in the near future. Check out my review of Throne of Glass here.

4. GASTON – A book everyone loves that you don’t

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Sorry guys, but I just can’t get into these books. I’ve read City of Bones and attempted City of Ashes but they’re just not for me. Actually, I think I even got as far as City of Glass but never finished it. I don’t even know. As you can tell, these books haven’t really stuck with me. I’m not a massive fan of all this urban fantasy/paranormal romance stuff. I can’t deny they’re pretty well written, but I never became obsessed like a lot of people.

5. LEFOU – A loyal sidekick that you can’t help but love more than their counterpart

I was 100% more of a fan of El Capitan than I was of Bradwell. I loved all the characters, but there was something just that little bit more special about El Capitan. He’s a really troubled soul and he’s ruthless, but he’s also exceptionally caring.

If you haven’t read this series, you are missing out on some of the best world-building, writing and characterisation I’ve ever read. This series is flawless.

6. MRS POTTS, CHIP, LUMIER & COGSWORTH – A book that helped you through a difficult time or that taught you something valuable

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Do I even need to say why?

7. SOMETHING THERE – A book or a series that you weren’t into at first but picked up towards the end

Can I just start by saying there are so many different covers for this series and they’re all amazing. I love them.

But anyway, my love for the series as a whole didn’t quite start in the same fashion. In fact, I loved the opening chapter and the world; I was totally hooked. Aaaaand then the romance started and my interest went from 100 to 0. I just didn’t feel invested in the romance at all. But then the pace picked up again by the end of the first book (however, that motorcycle chase… what on earth?!) and continued on throughout the series. I preferred Julian to Alex, as you can probably tell, and was rooting for Julian throughout the series. By the final book, I had really come to love this trilogy, it’s just a shame it had a bit of a shaky start.

It’s odd really, because normally the first book in a trilogy is amazing, the second feels like a pointless filler, and the third picks up the pace and can either be amazing or a disaster. For me, I felt like the first book was a bit of a filler and the plots of the second and third novels were much more interesting.

8. BE OUR GUEST – A fictional character you’d love to have over for dinner

Anyone from the Old Kingdom series. Please come and love me and be my best friend. Especially Mogget. And Dog. And Sabriel and Lirael and Touchstone and Sameth and Nicholas. Everyone please. My ARC copy of Goldenhand is up next in my TBR and I’m practically salivating in anticipation of reading it.

I Tag

If you don’t do tags or you’ve already done this one, then please ignore me! If not, then have fun!

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Review: All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

9780765379948_custom-a047a9fe6159435f98535d0c3369b717733b8de1-s400-c85All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Genre: Science Fantasy / Apocalyptic

Publisher: Titan Books

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Patricia is a witch who can communicate with animals. Laurence is a mad scientist and inventor of the two-second time machine. As teenagers they gravitate towards one another, sharing in the horrors of growing up weird, but their lives take different paths…

When they meet again as adults, Laurence is an engineering genius trying to save the world and live up to his reputation in near-future San Francisco. Meanwhile, Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the magically gifted, working hard to prove herself to her fellow magicians and secretly repair the earth’s ever growing ailments.

As they attempt to save our future, Laurence and Patricia’s shared past pulls them back together. And though they come from different worlds, when they collide, the witch and the scientist will discover that maybe they understand each other better than anyone.

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My Review

I first discovered this book when I saw a poster for it whilst rushing through the London Underground to catch my train from Waterloo Station. The subterranean tunnels were heaving with people and I was hurrying after my boyfriend Mark when an advertisement caught my eye. The cover was what initially drew me in – I think it’s really beautiful – but what intrigued me most was the snippet of a review on the poster that described All the Birds in the Sky as ‘apocalyptic’. That was it, I was sold. I was gonna buy this book. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I can’t resist anything apocalyptic.

When we got to Waterloo, we had some time to kill before our train, so I dragged Mark into the bookshop and what did I see on the first display? All the Birds in the Sky. It was like fate. I bought it immediately.

That was quite a few months ago now, but I’ve only just devoured this book. And devour it I did. I really enjoyed it. Witty and weird, Anders’ writing is smooth and original and so are her two main characters of Patricia and Laurence. They’re both deeply flawed, and not always nice to each other, but they are the only ones who can understand their flaws and quirks. Patricia has the biggest quirk out of the two – she’s a witch. Thankfully, however, there was no sudden ‘oh, I have superpowers, I am all-powerful!’ kind of revelation. It’s much more complex than that and deeply affects both Patricia and Laurence, and their abilities to be accepted by their peers.

Anders has weaved science with magic extremely well. It seems a little weird at first, the two of them mixing, especially because Anders isn’t one to mollycoddle the reader and explain the ins and outs of the magic world, or the scientific discoveries. But this overall makes for an extremely unique story and I really enjoyed that Anders didn’t try and explain everything; it enhanced the wittiness of her writing and the complexity of her strange characters.

I’m actually struggling to put this novel into words. It’s one of those that is too odd and unique to really describe; you have to read it to believe it. The only reason I didn’t give the novel 5/5 was that I felt the climax was rushed and didn’t make a lot of sense. If you’ve read the book, I’m not talking about Patricia’s answer to the question that plagues the novel (you know the one I mean), but the seemingly psychotic actions of two members of the Ten Percent Project. I know the novel is apocalyptic as nature starts going a bit mental, but the actions of these two characters made no sense. Their response was irrational and unbelievable. That’s where I think Anders fell short; the climax of a novel is often the most crucial part, where the protagonist is in the most danger and the conflict is resolved. However, I think the ‘danger’ just didn’t add up with the rest of the story.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this novel and the characters of Patricia and Laurence. There is an essence of their destinies being star-crossed and I loved that aspect. Will they ‘save the world’? Will they end up together? Can magic and science be one? Who knows. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

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Have you read All the Birds in the Sky? What did you think? Do you enjoy Science Fantasy as a genre? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)