Thursday 1 March 2018

[article] February Round-Up

My book-plant is the most awesome thing

February Round Up, 2018

Well, it truly has been a record-low on the review writing front for me this month! I've been a disaster this month between getting on top of my university month, prepping for summer internship interviews, competing at a national level in my sport, and training for another. I've done a fair amount of actual reading, mostly in the car or on the train or the bus, but very little writing. But March might be my month of getting back on track :)

February did get me back into audiobooks! I have owned The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and all the Skulduggery Pleasant books on audio for years and I listen to them on repeat fondly. But I finally thought I should get some new ones to listen to whilst walking, so I bought an Audible subscription and I'm loving it. I'm currently working my way through Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings (which I have already read and own in paperback) in preparation for reading Oathbringer.

Spotlight ARC of the Month:

No Time To Spare
Ursula K. Le Guin

* * * * 
4 / 5
"If I'm ninety and believe I'm forty-five, I'm headed for a very bad time trying to get out of the bathtub"

No Time To Spare represents one of my rare forays out of the genre of fiction. As a child I loved and devoured Le Guin's Earthsea Quartet and as an adult I have read some of her more adult works such as The Word for World is Forest; she was a writer who was very dear to my heart.

The essays in this book are, I believe, drawn from her blog and personal writings. They are varied in nature: musings on age, on time, on her cat, on her life as a writer and in general, on politics, and on human nature. Some of these, particularly the ones on age and the passing of time, were recast in different light and became more emotional for me after her passing.

Her character really shines through the thoughtful words written here, her wit, her passion for writing and for life, her love for her family and for her cat. Some of them I did find of little interest to me  - perhaps this was because of my younger age, or my not being American - and whilst her cat sounded lovely and adorable, I didn't really need to know all that much about him! However I did find the vast, vast majority of this collection to be insightful, witty, and fascinating.

Official Synopsis:

Ursula K. Le Guin has taken readers to imaginary worlds for decades. Now she’s in the last great frontier of life, old age, and exploring new literary territory: the blog, a forum where her voice—sharp, witty, as compassionate as it is critical—shines. 

Spotlight Read of the Month:

Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension #1)
Andrew Rowe

* * * * 
4 / 5
"It was the day of my Judgement and I was prepared in a thousand ways that didn't matter"

It's probably more accurate to say that is my listen of the month, since I bought the audiobook! Sufficiently Advanced Magic is a fantastic example of quality, well-written LitRPG (in a genre saturated by some not-great works featuring power fantasy characters). It's complex, has a varied and excellent cast, and I adored all the RPG elements: puzzles to solve, dungeons to explore, powers to level up, and my absolute favourite trope: magic school. 

Corin Cadence is the son of a powerful family. He stands before the Spire ready to take his Judgement, years after his older brother took his and never returned from the tower, presumably consumed by one of the beasts that lurk within. One must enter and climb the tower alone to earn one of six attunements that function sort of like character classes; for example, there is a Guardian attunement that grants powers of endurance and protection. Each room in the Spire is a test by the Goddess, built to filter out the unworthy and send them plummeting to their deaths or to be eaten by beasts. Each puzzle is inventive and fascinating! They were all so awesome and the very prospect of such a trial is really kind of terrifying.

Sufficiently Advanced Magic is a long and complicated book. The magic system is so complex, it's like something Brandon Sanderson might have dreamt up (the highest compliment I can pay to an author), but it's so worth it. I've never really read anything quite like it, and my only gripe is that sometimes Corin's stream of inner thoughts can be a touch grating and I really, really wanted to know more about the gods and the mystery of the Spire! 

Official Synopsis:

Five years ago, Corin Cadence’s brother entered the Serpent Spire — a colossal tower with ever-shifting rooms, traps, and monsters. Those who survive the spire’s trials return home with an attunement: a mark granting the bearer magical powers. According to legend, those few who reach the top of the tower will be granted a boon by the spire’s goddess. 

He never returned. 

Now, it’s Corin’s turn. He’s headed to the top floor, on a mission to meet the goddess. 

Other Reads:

     * * * * The Cruel Prince, Holly Black
This book has had a lot of hype. I'm not normally one for books about the fae or the fair folk, but the hardback copy was so beautiful I bought it and I was really, pleasantly surprised! It was fun and wild and violent and had some weird twists!

     * *  Frat Girl, Kiley Roache
As part of her scholarship project Cassie, a self-proclaimed feminist, pledges Delta Tau Chi, an all-male fraternity house. I liked the insight into frats, not knowing much about them as a brit, but the main character was a pain and the book seemed undecided on what the message was.

     * * * The Uncrossing, Melissa Eastlake
Probably the weirdest book I've read so far this year, The Uncrossing is about a boy, Luke, who can untangle any curse. Whilst working for the Kovrovs, he finds a curse that he cannot break in the form of Jeremy Kovrov, who has had a crush on Luke since they were boys. A cute, if confusing, read.

   * * * * * Almost Human, Ari Walkingnorth
Almost Human is actually a webcomic, and damn was it good. The art is simply divine, the characters touching, and it has some really cool futuristic concepts. Sunati and Austen meet and fall in love and their story is at times light and fluffy, but often tackles important and difficult ideas.

   * * Before She Ignites, Jodi Meadows
I really wanted to love this one: the cover is gorgeous and it promised dragons! But Before She Ignites is sorely lacking on the dragon, action, and scenery fronts. It mostly takes place in a boring prison where Mira is threatened, bullied, and manipulated. Fun times not included. 

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