Thursday 1 June 2017

[article] May Round-Up

Another terrible picture effort from my Instagram

May Round Up

May has been a funny month. It's been really good in terms of books and not so great in terms of my personal life. I've just finished sitting my end of second year exams which was stressful enough (two of them went quite well, the other one was a trainwreck), but not one day after I finish I came down with (and still have) a horrendous cold. I had planned to celebrate the end of exams by having a few drinks and tackling my TBR pile. Alas, my head is too fuzzy to stand alcohol or read.

I did, however, get the May Fairyloot box (Warriors & Legends) which was amazing. You can see a picture on my Instagram, but basically the book was The Flame In The Mist and it came with some awesome socks, a candle, a beautiful LOTR wooden bookmark, and a little book on mythology. I also ordered myself a boxset of a Warrior Cats series in order to engage in some serious childhood nostalgia.

Then there was the release of my most anticipated book of the year: Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb, which was everything I could have dreamed of, and I got a surprise ARC of Now I Rise, the sequel to Kiersten White's And I Darken, which I adored. I've also finally got a meeting to talk about my summer internship, which I'm thrilled about!

Spotlight ARC of the Month:

Assassin's Fate (The Fitz & The Fool #3)
Robin Hobb

"Don't go where I can't follow you. Don't leave me behind."

I don't really have the words to say how much this series, these books, these characters have meant to me. But I will, nevertheless, try my best. I read Assassin's Apprentice when I was thirteen years old, and I genuinely believe that it changed my life, so when Robin Hobb announced that she would be writing the Fitz & the Fool trilogy a few years back, I was absolutely delighted. Whilst I enjoyed Fool's Assassin and Fool's Quest, they pale next to this stunning conclusion.

I have watched and read and, in some peculiar way, lived the lives of five generations of Farseer; I have followed the life of Fitzchivalry Farseer for over fifty years and thousands upon thousands of pages. From Shrewd and Chade, to Verity and Regal and Chivalry, to FitzChivalry, to Bee and Nettle and Hap and Chivalry (again), to Nettle's daughter Hope. From Kettricken, child princess of the Mountain Kingdom to elderly Queen who still cannot tell Fitz that she loves him. 

Assassin's Fate made me laugh and cry and remember the earlier books with such fondness that the moment I turned the final page I wanted to pick up Assassin's Apprentice and read all of them all over again. If anyone reading this review has not read Assassin's Apprentice, then for the love of god go and read it! Assassin's Fate is the culmination of a tale that is fantasy fiction as it ought to be written.

Official Synopsis:

Prince FitzChivalry Farseer’s daughter Bee was violently abducted from Withywoods by Servants of the Four in their search for the Unexpected Son, foretold to wield great power. With Fitz in pursuit, the Servants fled through a Skill-pillar, leaving no trace. It seems certain that they and their young hostage have perished in the Skill-river.
Their mission for revenge will become a voyage of discovery, as well as of reunions, transformations and heartrending shocks. Startling answers to old mysteries are revealed. What became of the liveships Paragon and Vivacia and their crews? What is the origin of the Others and their eerie beach? How are liveships and dragons connected? 

Spotlight Read of the Month:

Within the Sanctuary of Wings (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #5)
Marie Brennan

The Memoirs of Lady Trent series is, essentially, a Victorian inspired fantasy series in which dragons are perfectly natural and accepted creatures in the world. The series follows Lady Isabella Trent from a young lady, yearning to study dragons in person, to the older woman she is in this book. They're beautifully written masterpieces, weaving together adventure, natural science, dragons, archaeology, love and feminism. But mostly, they're about really awesome dragons

Lady Trent is back at nearly forty years of age to put the final touches on her memoirs (I love the pictures in the back - she looks like Dame Maggie Smith, so distinguished!), chronicling the final discovery as regards the Draconeans. It features most of the prominent characters from the previous books - Tom, Suhail, and her son - plus a new character Thu. It follows in the same vein as the other books in the Lady Trent series: a expedition is planned to find some new species of dragon, this time they voyage into the Mrtyahaima mountains, a team is put together, they travel and begin to make discoveries, something goes wrong, there's some sort of forbidden or sacred site involved. 

This book is the culmination of the discovery that has been building up throughout the series - the eggs, the sculptures, the Draconean script - all the clues and hints sprinkled throughout are brought together to what is a satisfying conclusion. Whilst this book is a little low on the action side in comparison to some of the others, there's no kidnapping or wars or such, I found I didn't particularly care. The writing is as lovely and engaging as ever, Isabella Trent is as wonderful a narrator, and the illustrations in the book are stunning. Whilst the cover isn't my favourite out of the five, it does still look great on my shelf. 

Official Synopsis:

After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent--dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.
This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure--scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland's enemies--and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings. 

Other Reads:

     * * * * Joyride Vol #1, Jackson Lanzing - Review
Joyous and beautiful, Joyride #1 is an excellent start to a comic series.  Uma Akkolyte, fed up with her life on a tyrannically ruled Earth that has forbidden interstellar travel, steals an alien spaceship and sets out to explore the stars.

     * * * Welcome Back Vol #1, Christopher Sebela -  Review
Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of lives and each life they have only one goal: to kill the other. Lifetime after lifetime they have fought, for so long they can't ever remember why, only that they must.

     * The Selection (The Selection #1), Kiera Cass -  Review
The Selection isn't really that fun, not even in a trash fun kind of way. If it had owned the fact that it's a weird Hunger Games parody, it might have been more enjoyable.

     * * * * A Court of Wings and Ruin, Sarah J Maas 
The conclusion to the A Court of Thorns and Roses series was, in my opinion, better than it's two predecessors. It's a lot more high fantasy vibe with a feel good ending. I thought it was excellent.

     * *  Under Rose Tainted Skies, Louise Gornall -  Review
All my Goodreads friends gave this rave reviews, but I just wasn't feeling it. Whilst there is an insightful and respectful portrayal of various types of mental health issues (OCD, agoraphobia, anxiety), the book feels directionless and the romance falls flat. 

     * * More of Me, Kathryn Evans -  Review
Every year, Teva splits in two. The old Teva, the one who keeps the proper memories and consciousness, stays at the same age whilst the new Teva adopts her life, going to school and picking up old Teva's friends and boyfriend. Cool concept, too much love triangle.

     * * *  The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Mary Weber - Review
This was a peculiar read. It's sort of about a combative game but then it's about mysterious aliens, a missing brother, weird politics, and some all around general skulduggery. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow is part mystery, part action, and part confusion. 

     * * * Elf Warfare, Chris Pramas - Review
This book is intended, I believe, as a sort of supplement to various tabletop and roleplaying games, to add a bit of flavour to their interpretation of Elves. I was mostly interested in Elf Warfare because it promised lovely illustrations.

             The Mechanical Bird: A Tale of Two Ladies, Glenn Song -  Review
An incomplete and abruptly ending novella, The Mechanical Bird is the story of two ladies who want to go to university. The finally achieve their desire when all the men are drafted for war. 

     * The Elite (The Selection #2), Kiera Cass - Review
In some ways, The Elite was better than The Selection, in other ways it was much worse. America acts like a fourteen year old. All hail the many sided love polygon!

     * * * * Mightier Than the Sword, K. J. Parker - Review
An unnamed main character features in one of the few novellas I've actually enjoyed. It's witty, it's clever, and it's a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy novella.

     * * * * Release, Patrick Ness -  Review
Release, like every other Patrick Ness book I've read, and I've read four or five, is beautiful, poignant, sad, and really, reallyreally, weird. Adam Thorne is tall, blonde, beautiful, and thinks himself unloved, pining for his ex-boyfriend Enzo.

     * *  The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle, Rick Riordan - Review
I'd say the same thing about this that I did about Magnus Chase: if you aren't yet tired of Riordan's books, then you'll probably enjoy this. But you aren't missing out on much. I think I laughed exactly once, and it was at a goddamn communist joke.

     * * * * Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga #2), Kiersten White - Review
The brutal, wonderful sequel to And I Darken is as brutal and beautifully written as the first. Lada is even more brutal than before. She kills. She orders her men to kill. She has sex. She liberates the downtrodden and assassinates and murders whoever stands in her way. Radu's arc is about politics, loyalty, love, and religion, and it is, like Radu, a more tender and slow-paced journey.


Dawn Of The Clans, Erin Hunter

Dawn of the Clans is a prequel series to Hunter's children's series Warriors, exploring how the cat Clans came to be - ThunderClan, RiverClan, WindClan, ShadowClan, and Skyclan. I recommend these to nostalgic adults or, y'know, actual children. 

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