Mini-Review Monday: Perfume – The Story of a Murderer, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and The Pigeon Tunnel

Last week was the second week of the OWLs readathon and the half-way point of the challenge has now been reached. I did not quite read all the books I was aiming to have read by this point but I am still very pleased with all those I did, especially since I was away for three days with very little reading time. I am now five books in and, last week, I read a book about a murderer, a book about an Evil Queen, and a book about a former spy. Each were very different, but on the whole I would say I enjoyed each one.

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

This book involved the mixing of perfumes and creating new scents in a manner similar to alchemy. As such, it fulfilled the Potions OWL which involved reading a book about or with alchemy in its pages.

Perfume is a peculiar book – I had never encountered a book which revolved around the sense of smell before. It is written in a manner which reminded me of Victor Hugo (something which could also be attributed to the setting in France) and follows the life of a man with no scent who has the most powerful sense of smell in the world. This gift gives him the ability to create the most amazing of perfumes and, in the quest to create the greatest of scents, drives him to learn how to take the scent from bodies.

I found this book very difficult to get into; I struggled to continue reading once I started and I didn’t have the urge to pick up the book again once I had stopped. It’s one of the few books I got close to DNFing. And then I hit about 50 pages in. Reading the rest of the book in nearly one sitting, I found myself been completely drawn in. While slow to start, it gradually got more and more intense and the main character gets dragged more and more into the grips of his obsession with scent. It was possible to see the author’s exploration of the relationship between obsession and desire and, merged with author’s take on scent and its influencing powers, made it quite a book to read. Unfortunately, the last few pages were similar to the start. If you do read this book, I don’t think reading it in multiple sitting works as you lose the sense of addiction that comes off the pages. It’s short enough to be read in one sitting, if you’re able to get past the first few pages and get into the writing style.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/343.Perfume

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Perfume-Patrick-Süskind/9780141041155/?a_aid=rosienreads

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

In order to complete the Divination OWL, I had to read a book which features a prophecy. This was one such book.

It is no secret that I enjoy a retelling, especially if that retelling has a twist to it. This book takes the Evil Queen from Snow White and places her in a fantasy world with heavy East Asian influences, then proceeds to tell the tale of her journey to power through her perspective. From her lowly origins, it follows Xifeng as her aunt Guma repeatedly tells of her destiny through the cards, of a future where she is Empress, and as she sets out to make that destiny her own.

Everything about the book worked for me. The world was richly developed and it was brilliant to see a well-loved fairy-tale told with another culture’s influences – it really highlights how books set in parts of the world that aren’t the US or Europe are under-represented in the mainstream market. Xifeng was an excellent lead and it made a great change from my usual reading to get to follow the path of the villain and experience the dilemmas she experienced regarding which path to take. I do feel like Wei’s part was a little understated given the role the prophecy said he would play (although this may be explored more in the next book) and the writing could have been a little stronger in places. That being said, however, I flew through this book and am very much looking forwarded to seeing how the rest of the Snow White fairy tale gets incorporated into this world.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33958230-forest-of-a-thousand-lanterns

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Forest-of-a-Thousand-Lanterns/9781524741686/?a_aid=rosienreads

The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carré (narrated by John Le Carré)

This audiobook fulfilled the challenge for the Muggle Studies OWL – read a muggle non-fiction book. As far as I know, John Le Carré is a muggle and this is his autobiography.

If there was ever a book I was not expecting to enjoy it’s this one. I got this book as part of an Audible deal when all the TV adaptions of the author’s books were appearing, but I never got into the shows. As a result, it took a long time before I decided to pick up this book. I sincerely regret not listening to this book earlier. The Pigeon Tunnel is an autobiography, told through a series of episodic stories from John Le Carré’s life.

One of the reasons why I found myself enjoying this book so much is that, while the books discusses Le Carré’s life in politics, in the secret service and throughout the cold war, it is easily accessible to anyone and very difficult to turn away from – there were always more stories to hear. A large part of this could be attributed to Le Carré’s narration – his voice was clear and personable, not to mention that the fact he’s narrating his own stories meant that there was a certain emphasis and depth to the narration which could not have been achieved with another narrator. I found myself constantly thinking about this book and the life Le Carré led, as well as found myself learning things which I had no idea had occurred. While I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it so much if I read it in print rather than listened to the audiobook, I would still highly recommend it to anyone vaguely interested in the various number of topics covered in this book.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads:

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Pigeon-Tunnel/9780241976890/?a_aid=rosienreads

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Biographies-Memoirs/The-Pigeon-Tunnel-Audiobook/B016E8URPE

 

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Mini-Review Monday: A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin and The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

It is April and with April comes the OWLs magical readathon – a readathon which spans the majority of the month and is based off of the OWLs in Harry Potter (one book per subject/challenge). I decided to take part and so my reading in April will revolve around those challenges, although there won’t be any strict order to them. I have already completed two books and am over half-way through two others. While I did not enjoy one of the two books I have finished as much as I wanted to, I still found it an entertaining read. The other book, however, was just what I needed to kick the month off. As far as I’m concerned, the readathon is off to a good start and you can find reviews of the two books I have finished already below.

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

This book fulfilled the Arithmancy OWL challenge (read a book with a number in the title).

Reading this book was like returning to a well-loved place and discovering new corners and things to see. In A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, the book follows a poor Hedge Knight as he tries to find his way in the world and, in the process, ends up with a future king as his squire. It is a book made up of three novellas, each one following a single one of the pair’s adventures. As a result, it has a much smaller, cosier feel to it compared to the grander-scaled A Song of Ice and Fire and I felt like I was getting a much closer look into what life is like in Westeros.

As one would expect from George R.R. Martin, the world-building was perfect – I went in not knowing anything about Hedge Knights and finished the book convinced I could become one. While the focus was on the two main characters (Dunk and Egg) and their adventures, we also got to see them take place within the context of the larger world, particularly around the Blackfyre rebellions which really helped root the stories in place. While the writing was as good as expected, the novellas did hold to a fairly strict structure which made the final one feel a little repetitive compared to the first.

The characters, from the main to the secondary to the extras, all felt present and realistic in the book. The two main characters were easily likeable and fun to follow. Their friendship, in particular, was a delight to read. That the titular character, Dunk, is no great hero and of no mean skill or intelligence was also refreshing; as was the fact that the future king and main source of knowledge between the two was a precocious ten-year-old.

I may be slightly biased due to my love of the A Song of Ice and Fire world, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was refreshing, engaging and very easy to step into. It adds greatly to the overall world that George R.R. Martin has created and I finished it with the urge to read up on the history of Westeros and re-read the original series.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34835283-a-knight-of-the-seven-kingdoms

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Knight-Seven-Kingdoms-George-R-R-Martin/9780008238094/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

This book fulfilled the Defence against the Dark Arts OWL challenge (read a book about/featuring a secret society/club)

I will admit, I do love books set in high society especially if there is a fantasy or supernatural spin. As such, I was very much looking forward to reading The Dark Days Club. Set in Regency England, it follows Lady Helen, the orphaned daughter of a perceived traitor, as she starts her first season. At the same time, however, she discovers another society and calling away from the balls, where demonic creatures walk amongst the people and a truly terrible evil is set to rise. What’s more, her blood may be the key to stopping it.

The villains of this book surprised me. Where I was expecting vampires, I got Deceivers, a fairly unique creature which disguises itself as a human and feeds off human souls. This, however, was the only part of the book which felt truly unique. For the most part, I felt like I had already read the book while I was reading it. This mostly came down to the roles of Lord Carlston and the Duke of Selbourn in the book, as they came across as rather cliché (including the love triangle). If their roles had been different, or even excluded, it would have been a very different reading experience. It also did not help that I found Lord Carlston incredibly dislikeable and spent most of the book rooting against him.

That being said, Lady Helen and her maid Darby were a delight to read and I would happily read more of their adventures. It was very easy to see the conflict in Lady Helen’s mind about which path she should take, yet she was also a very strong character – in her wit, body and mind. If she committed to something, she would not stray away from it even if she had her misgivings; something which I found quite endearing. This was also true of Darby, who stood by her mistress regardless of what Lady Helen got them into. They were an excellent pair and if the rest of the series was just focused on their exploits, with or without the titular Dark Days Club, I would likely buy it all.

The writing really captured the time period and, while the pacing was not the best, there were moments where I could not tear myself away from the book. It was a fun, enjoyable read and, even though Lord Carlston puts me off the rest of the series, I would be curious to see more of Lady Helen in the future.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27074515-the-dark-days-club

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Dark-Days-Club-Alison-Goodman/9781406358964/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

*I receive a small commission when purchases are made through the Book Depository links.

The Books I Read in March 2018

If I had to pick a favourite book I read this month, it would be difficult. There are so many to choose from, and each so different from the last. Do I take the utopian YA where death is in the hands of a select few that kept me listening hour after hour? Or do I choose the true crime novel about Italy’s own Jack the Ripper that kept me up at night? If I had to choose, it would probably be the former – Scythe by Neal Shusterman, a novel which reeled me in and had me hooked from the start. The most disappointing read was either Everland or Given to the Sea. While I didn’t dislike them, I found the former felt trapped in the fact it was a retelling and the latter was filled with distinctly unlikable male characters (the other characters came off a little better, however).

On the whole, I would say it was a successful reading month. While there were a couple of books which did not quite live up to my expectations, I did enjoy the majority of the books I read and I did manage to actually meet my goal of reading 10 books in the month. This was helped, no doubt, by the fact I participated in a week-long readathon during which I managed to read six books. For the full list of books I read in March, the list is below:

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Audiobook

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Narrated by Greg Tremblay) – 5/5

Dracula (abridged) by Bram Stoker (narrated by various, including Brian Cox and Heathcote Williams) – 3.5/5

Hardback

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis – 3/5

Everland by Wendy Spinale – 3.5/5

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo – 4/5

 

Paperback

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 4/5

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo – 4/5

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig – 4/5

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates – 4.5/5

The Monster of Florence: A True Story by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi – 4.5/5

 

I am planning to read a similar number of books in April which will include a readathon nearly as long as the month itself, during which I’m aiming to read 12 books. While that may be over-reaching, I am hopeful I will succeed. I have already finished one book (A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin) and am in the process of listening to The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carré and reading The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman.

Magical Readathon / April TBR

Today is 1st April. April Fool’s Day, Easter Sunday and the eve of the Magical Readathon. The Magical Readathon is a readathon which runs from the 2nd to the 29th April and was thought up by booktuber Book Roast (the readathon announcement video can be found here). It is inspired by the Harry Potter OWLs (a set of wizarding exams akin to the GCSEs held in most English schools) whereby each OWL subject is a reading challenge and, in order to pass the exam, one must read a book which aligns with that reading challenge. There can be no doubling up on challenges. A pass grade, or Acceptable, level OWL will be achieved when two books are read. To achieve the highest grade in OWLs (Outstanding) at least 5 books must be read. Being the Hermione I am, I’m going to attempt to read 12 books – one for every subject on the list:

OWLS:

Ancient Runes (read a book with a symbol on the cover) – The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Arithmancy (read a book with a number on the cover or in the title) – The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

Astronomy (read a science fiction novel) – The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Care of Magical Creatures (read a book with mythical creatures in or on the cover) – The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Charms (read a fantasy novel) – The Young Elites by Mary Lu

Defence against the Dark Arts (read a book about/featuring a secret society or club) – The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Divination (read a book featuring prophecies) – Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Herbology (read a book with a nature-related word in the title) – The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

History of Magic (read an historical fiction novel) – My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi meadows

Muggle Studies (read a muggle non-fiction book) – The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carré (audiobook)

Potions (read a book about/with alchemy) – Perfume by Patrick Süskind

Transfiguration (read a book that deals with transfiguration/shape-shifting or similar, or a book with a cat on the cover) – Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (audiobook)

So those are the books I am going to be reading in April. It will be a challenge to read them all, but I am hopeful. I have a decent mix of hardbacks, paperbacks and audiobooks to get me through the month, with a wide range of genres and topics to cover. The readathon itself sounds like a lot of fun and is probably one of the more creative ones I have come across recently, so I am looking forward to getting stuck in and completing my OWLs this year.

For more information about the OWLs and the pass grades, you can read the Hogwarts info letter here.

 

Mini-Review Monday: The Monster of Florence: A True Story by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

Once again, I only read one book in the last week. And once again, it was a non-fiction book. The difference is that, while last week was a book about everyday sexism in current times, this week was a true crime book about murders in the vein of Jack the Ripper a few decades ago.

I quite like reading true crime novels, especially when they are about murder. There is nothing quite as chilling or scary as reading a book about a gruesome killing, or series of killings, which happened in real life, and yet they’re also often fascinating examinations of the killer’s psychology, motives, the crimes and the investigations, all taken from actual events.

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

The Monster of Florence: A True Story by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi

The Monster of Florence take a look at a series of murders from Italy’s very own ‘Jack the Ripper’, splitting the events into two parts: ‘The Story of Mario Spezi’, an investigative journalist who became heavily involved the case from the beginning and gave the killer their pseudonym; the second part is ‘The Story of Douglas Preston’, an American Journalist who moved to Florence long after the murders and befriends Spezi. The former part explores the investigation at the time of the murders; the latter part looks at the continuing investigation long after the final death and recounts how Preston and Spezi ended up caught in the middle of it.

It took a few chapters to get used to the writing style and the manner in which Preston was telling the story but, once I did, I was hooked. The story of The Monster of Florence is interesting but also incredibly frustrating, the latter of which only increases the further you get through the book. Preston goes over each aspect of the case in great detail and, while there is clear bias, he does go into the opposing theories and lines of investigation. This includes the descent of the investigation into conspiracy theories. A number of times, the book did feel like it had strayed into fiction but a quick google into the facts of the case only demonstrate how surreal it got at times. It was certainly a fascinating read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in true crime.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6630371-the-monster-of-florence

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Monster-Florence-Douglas-Preston/9780753517048/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

*I receive a small commission when purchases are made through the Book Depository links.

Mini-Review Monday: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

After the rush of the readathon the week before last, I ended up taking things a little slower. As a result, I only finished one book. This book, however, is one which is incredibly important, particularly in discussions going around the world today.

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

If there is a topic that seems to cause the most debate and arguments both in the real world and online, it’s probably feminism; driven, in  part, by the fact that a lot of people either don’t fully understand what it is (the belief that everyone should have equal rights and opportunity, driven by the advocacy of women’s rights) and why it is still needed. Everyday Sexism offers up a huge amount of insight into the latter, exploring the day-to-day sexism experienced by women in all walks of life using the voices of those women and girls.

The colourful appearance of the book, the way it is laid out and the writing style make the book easily accessible to even those who aren’t the biggest fans of non-fiction. But really, that’s the only thing easy about the book. The combination of statistics and real-life experiences make for some harrowing reading in places, but more concerning is how rife the experiences described are – any one woman’s experience is echoed through countless others. And worse, they’re considered normal or the woman’s fault. There is also a section describing the issues facing men as sexism isn’t just a woman’s issue, although there is a much stronger focus on the sexism experienced by women.

Everyday Sexism does a fantastic job of driving home the issue and facts with a sympathetic tone and manner. It is not a book designed to comfort, but it is one that should be read by everyone, especially those who don’t necessarily understand the extent of the issue or those who believe that sexism is a thing of the past.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26199237-everyday-sexism

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Everyday-Sexism-Laura-Bates/9781471149207/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

Chapter Sampler: Planetfall by Emma Newman

The chapter sampler I decided to read this week is written from the perspective of a female engineer, a key member of a colony which has been established on an alien planet. Planetfall follows Renata, who has a pivotal role in keeping the society alive by way of maintaining the 3D printers which create nearly all their supplies. However, her life is interrupted by the arrival of a man who looks very much like Suh-Mi, the woman who brought them to the planet and then consequently disappeared.

While not too much of the intricacies of the story are revealed in the first two chapters, the world and characters already feel well-established. The writing is engaging, and I am not going to deny that I spent a long time after reading the chapters debating whether I should break my book-buying ban to find out what happens next. My curiosity has been piqued and I have a strong feeling that the rest of the book will be equally as good as the start.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24237785-planetfall

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Planetfall/9780425282397/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

*I receive a small commission when purchases are made through the Book Depository links.

Mini-Review Monday: Read-O-Rama Wrap Up

Today’s Mini-Review Monday is going to be a little longer than normal. This is because last week was the Read-O-Rama readathon and I read a lot of books. You can find reviews of the first two books I read in last week’s Mini-Review Monday. Today, I’m going to cover the rest. I nearly managed to meet the goal of reading seven books in seven days but, while I did start the seventh, I did not actually finish it until the weekend, when the readathon was over. I still managed to complete the six other challenges, however.

For the most part, the final five book I read were pretty good. There were a couple which were more in the middle for me, but the other three really caught my attention. Strangely, most of the books I read this week touched on the theme of death, from being stuck in a world where everyone is dying around you to a world where immortality has been achieved and the power to wield death has been given to a select group of people. It certainly made for an interesting week of reading, and you can find out more about the books I read below.

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

Everland by Wendy Spinale

Everland is a re-telling of Peter Pan, set in an alternate, dystopian world where London has been ravaged by bombs and by a lethal disease. In the aftermath of the war, it has lost its London name and become Everland, home to a group of surviving orphan boys, a 12-year old girl called Bella, and their leader Pete. Gwen, on the run with her two siblings, gets drawn into the world of the Lost Boys when one of her siblings gets kidnapped by Hook, leader of the invading forces.

Even after finishing the book, I am still not quite sure what to make of it. While there were a few obvious similarities to Peter Pan, for instance the characters and a few choice phrases, most of them felt a bit far-reaching or forced, as if the novel wanted to go one way but, because this was a re-telling, it had to fit to a certain path. In particular, a scene about Gwen being a ‘mother’ to the Lost Boys because she was the only older female and they needed a woman to soften them up just did not sit right with me and I felt like it was only included because that was what Wendy’s role was in the original. The writing, while not overly complicated, allowed the book to progress at a fast pace, while still allowing for character development and allowing the reader to invest in the story.  I did enjoy the book, but I feel like it would have been a lot stronger if it had been written as its own being, rather than a re-telling.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26085520-everland

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Everland-Everland-Book-1-Wendy-Spinale/9780545836944/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

I went into Given to the Sea with a touch of trepidation, having seen a number of mixed reviews about the book. Coming out of it, I can see why. Given to the Sea is a book set in a world which fears the sea, treating it as a place of death and destruction after a tsunami destroyed the land in the far past. One such society, in order to keep the sea at bay, sacrifices a single girl to the sea after she has birthed a daughter who, in time will also be sacrificed. The book follows one of those girls, Khosa, as she tries to escape her fate.

Having read the book, I think I can see what the author was trying to do, using the story to explore themes of destiny, beliefs as well as an exploration of rape and a woman’s freedom to make choices in the fantasy setting. These latter two points were part of the main reason I find myself unable to properly enjoy this book. This feeds into two main sources of frustration. The first is the men in the book – only one or two of them could be considered half-way decent. The others just treated women appallingly – the crown prince, in particular, was awful – an adulterer who offered an award to whoever could get Khosa pregnant, by any means necessary.

On the other side were the women – there were three of them: Khosa, Dara and Dissa, all of whose lives were dictated by the men in them. Dara, for me, was the biggest disappointment. She was the most interesting, and my favourite character, for most of the book. Then her story just gets suffocated by the fact she has a crush on someone which she believes is unrequited. She had such potential, and then that happened.

Despite that, there is no denying that the writing was incredible – the world felt alive and the characters, for all their many flaws, were, unfortunately, very realistic. I was also really curious as to how the story would end. So, while it was a difficult and frustrating read, the strong writing and the emotions it carried did hold it above water.

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25314447-given-to-the-sea

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Given-Sea-Mindy-Mcginnis/9780399544620/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The prize for the most beautiful book I have read this year goes to The Language of Thorns – the hardcover of which had a gloriously designed cover with an interior filled with stunning illustrations. The book itself is my third Leigh Bardugo book of the year, and yet all three are very different. This particular book is a set of fairy tales from the Grisha-verse; each one adapted from, or had similarities to, a fairy tale in this universe (for example one tells the origins of Ulla, a sea-witch based off of Ursula and The Little Mermaid).

The tales in the book are varied, and I read one a night before bed. Bardugo did an excellent job of capturing the essence and feel of a fairy tale while also adding in her own twists and renditions of the events that played out, taking on the tales in a way that was unexpected. It was almost as if you could feel the magic taking place as you read (helped, no doubt, by the illustrations). I did feel slightly disappointed that the LGBTQA+ representation was not as strong or as prominent as I had believed it to be, based on the images, and I did struggle to fully connect or invest in some of the stories. That being said, I did enjoy the fact that the main characters in each tale are outcasts, or not traditionally pretty, or are somehow different to the rest of the society they live in. Some of the tales could have been longer while the final one could have been a bit shorter and, perhaps, a little clearer. For those who have not ready any of Bardugo’s previous novels, this book is perfectly accessible – the only real links to the series are the locations. The Language of Thorns is a magical book and I can see many a people returning to it again and again.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34076952-the-language-of-thorns

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Language-Thorns-Leigh-Bardugo/9781510104419/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

One of the books that had been most recommended to me in the last few months is How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. This book explores the concept of immortality and the purpose of life through the perspective of one man – Tom Hazard. Tom is an Alba, a human who develops and grows old at a fraction of the speed of normal human beings. As a result, he’s been alive for centuries, wandering the Earth, searching for his long-lost daughter and trying to find meaning.

While it did take me a while to get into the book, once I did it was fascinating to read about Hazard’s life through flashbacks to his younger years against his life in the present day, all the while everything was tinted with a touch of melancholy. Haig does a really good job of getting the emotion into his words, regardless of what is being discussed at the time, and, as you read the book, you end up experiencing a whole range of them. The whole discussion of the purpose of life, or living, was really compelling and I found myself thinking about the book long after having finished it. The only let-down for me was how swift the ending occurred – there was a gentle, but quickening, build up then all of a sudden the climactic scenes occurred and were over with in a few pages. It almost felt like it could do with being a touch longer.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36218250-how-to-stop-time

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/How-Stop-Time-Matt-Haig/9781782118640/?a_aid=rosienreads

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (narrated by Greg Tremblay)

This was easily my favourite book of the readathon. Scythe had me hooked from the get go – the concept was so fascinating, I just had to read more. It is set in a world which has achieved immortality. In order to avoid over-population, the Scythe-dom was created – a group of people with the mission to glean (or kill) a certain number of people each year. In this society, two people – Rowan and Citra – are chosen to be trained as Scythes.

While the novel is slow with regards to the action, a lot of time is spent establishing the world and very little time passes before you learn something new, and there is so much to take in. What interested me most was the different methods the Scythes have in choosing those they intend to glean. The slower pace is also necessary to establish Rowan and Citra’s places in the world, and the conflicts which face them later on. The writing really captured the world and the characters, solidifying them with apparent ease, something which was only highlighted through the narrator who made the audiobook one I had to fight to stop listening to. It is rare for me to finish a book in the series and immediately want to reach for the second one. This book is one of those rarities and I cannot wait to read the sequel, Thunderhead.

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34612183-scythe

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Scythe/9781442472426/?a_aid=rosienreads