January 2019 Books

I didn’t read much last month, even though I had a lot of time during my all the waiting at the airport. I finished off All Systems Red which was a nice, fluffy read. I didn’t expect that coming from the way the cover looks. I also read a Tagalog book, the first time in years. I had an opportunity to buy Filipino books during my trip, although to be honest, I’m still disappointed by the low proportion of Filipino books in Filipino bookstores.

I also read a Dummies book, and I reread The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. I’m still very much in my Lockwood and Co. streak.

Advertisements

November 2018 Books

Okay, first up! The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli. I picked up this book not knowing much about it, other than that someone I follow on Goodreads liked it, so I decided to give it a try.

Asha is a dragon slayer. She kills the creatures as revenge for the havoc and destruction they caused her kingdom many years ago. With her wedding to the ruthless commander coming in a week, her father makes her a deal: if Asha kills Kozu, the oldest dragon, then they can call off the wedding. However, when Asha sets out to kill Kozu, she discovers secrets about the dragons, as well as her kingdom, that challenge everything she believes in.

I really enjoyed this book. Especially after the midpoint, when a massive plot twist was revealed, things really fall into place, and it sets you in the right frame of mind to really appreciate everything that came before. 

This month, I finished off the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. Let me tell you, ooh boy, it was a wild ride, and this series is definitely in my top favourites now.

I just enjoyed these books sooo much, that they knocked me out of my reading slump after I finished The Last Namsara. There’s just something about Lucy Carlyle’s narration that pulls you in and doesn’t let go. The slow revelation of the bigger mysteries of their world slowly unfold while the back-to-back action-packed individual missions make sure that things don’t get bogged down for too long.

And just like in all books I love, what really grabs me in this series is the characters and their dynamics with each other. I love all the friendships they form, the challenges they face in their relationships, and how they overcome that. The protagonists are still teenagers, and they act very much like so, without me feeling like they’re making terrible decisions. (I kid you not, sometimes I read books in which protagonists clearly make horrible decisions and the story justifies it as them being teens, and it just… doesn’t justify it enough for me).

I especially fell in love with Lucy Carlyle. Oh my dear, salty girl. It’s strange because Lucy actually fulfils the character archetype that I don’t usually like. She’s abrasive, insecure, jealous, looks down on other girls. But I really commend Stroud for writing her flaws in a very understandable way. I wasn’t repulsed by her, like I usually am with characters who have the same personality; instead, I felt for her, and I saw my younger 14-year-old self in her. And I rooted for her and wished she’d grow and overcome her insecurities. And she did. That’s the lovely part of it. She did.

I also really love the way the romance is handled here. There’s not much of it. Perfect, just the way I like it. Hehe.

October 2018 Books

Whoa, I was on a roll again last month! Let’s get to it

6609744Kat Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis

This book has been on my TBR list for a few years now, and it’s satisfying to finally get around to it.

Kat comes from a family with magic, which is lucky for her because her oldest sister is about to get married to a man rumoured to have murdered his previous wife.

I really love how packed this book is with action. It’s short, but so many things happen. I love Kat’s relationship with her sisters, how they don’t always get along, but deep down they have each others’ best interest at heart. I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

180467

Self-Editing for Fiction Writersby Renni Browne and Dave King

This is a gem of a book! Remember when I was worrying about telling vs showing in another blog post? Well, this book answers that question and so much more! I’m glad I finished it before I started editing my story. I highly recommend this book!

 

 

13149420Quicksilver by R.J Anderson

I read the prequel to this book last year at around the same time, and I enjoyed it a lot.

In this book, we follow Tori, the “perfect” girl from the prequel, as she tries to start anew in a different city. But she quickly finds out that her past is catching up to her, and to escape it, she must be willing to do some pretty drastic things.

I actually liked this book more than I liked Ultraviolet, only because the scope was bigger. Ultraviolet was constrained to the hospital that Alison stayed in for most of the book. Anyway, I loved Tori’s character, especially how she studied really hard to be perfect. The way Alison described her before, she seemed too good to be true. I enjoyed seeing some of the events of Ultraviolet in her perspective as well. Oh, and I really enjoyed the way her friendship with Milo unfolded. And I loved that bittersweet ending. Basically I loved the book, lol.

14059024The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Another series that I’m so glad I got into! In this book, Lucy, Lockwood and George try to solve a case that might related to the ghost of the skull that George experiments on. Meanwhile, the trio try to preserve the company’s reputation, and more importantly, the trust between each of them.

I am really, really loving this series! I love Lucy, her personality, the way she narrates the story. I love her friendship with both Lockwood and George. The only flaw I see right now is that she has the whole “not-like-other-girls” attitude going on, so I’m hoping to see some character arc to address that eventually.

The Lockwood books are fast-paced and well-written, with the tension kept up at all times. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. And yeah, I hope nobody dies, haha.

11545776 Write the Fight Right by Alan Baxter

There’s quite a bit of fighting in my book, so I figured I might as well learn how to write those parts well. The advice given in this book is to focus on the character’s perspective and their feelings, because that’s more important than giving the details or names of all the specific techniques the character uses. Things like those just bog down the story. It’s a short book with lots of helpful suggestions, so if you have a couple of hours, I think you won’t lose anything by picking it up and giving it a go.

 

September 2018 Reads

I didn’t do very well this month! I thought I was going to be on a roll, considering the momentum I built up in August, but events from real life interfered quite a bit.

I only finished one book this month.

40157

It’s no secret that Megan Whalen Turner is one of my favourite authors, so it’s actually surprising that it took me so long to read this book. Instead of Three Wishes is an anthology of short stories. Other than the Queen’s Thief series, this is the only other publication that MWT has. I’m not used to reading something from her that isn’t about Queen’s Thief, so I wondered how well I would get into it.

I shouldn’t have worried at all! Megan Whalen Turner is such an impressive writer that she can write about anything and still grab my attention! The thing about her writing is that it has such a compelling voice; it really pulls you in. She never gets in the way of her own story.

Each story in this anthology has a different flavour, a different atmosphere. The Baker King is probably the most similar to her Queen’s Thief series. I found the story about the selkie really haunting for some reason, as well as the one about the ghosts who were reading (didn’t expect that certain ending from MWT). Oh, and I really like The Nightmare as well. It’s about a bully named Kevin who becomes cursed with nightmares where he sees the events of his day from the perspective of people he interacted with, and he feels their emotions towards him. It’s a really different kind of story from the ones that are popular today, where most of the time protagonists achieve their character arcs by finally deciding they don’t care about what people think (alternatively, stories like Nosedive from Black Mirror show negative character arcs by demonstrating what happens when you continue to care about what people think). I think it’s refreshing to find a story that sends a message that sometimes taking into account other people’s opinions of you can make you a better person.

Anyway, if there’s anything I learned from reading this book, it’s that I will read whatever Megan Whalen Turner writes.

August 2018 Books

And it’s time for my monthly reading recap! I’m proud to say I actually did well this August. At the beginning of the month, I was 4 books behind my Goodreads Reading challenge, and now I’m one book ahead. To be fair, two of these “books” were comic volumes, but hey, I needed the boost.

77773

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

Aaand, starting us off, we have a sci-fi classic! To Say Nothing of the Dog is about a bunch of historians who time-travel, and find themselves pulling forward into the future an member of an extinct species: a cat! And before this destroys the time-space continuum, Ned Henry and Verity Kindle must return the  cat and fix the incongruities they’ve introduced.

This was a lot of fun! Although I found the beginning quite tedious and a little difficult to get into, once you pass the quarter mark, it gets very entertaining. And the end offers a really pleasant twist that you might not have seen coming. (Not the butler though; I saw the butler thing coming, hehe.)

13190596The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

A year ago, I read the first book in Courtney Milan’s “Brothers Sinister” series, “The Duchess War,” and ended up thoroughly enjoying it even though it was one of the rare times I ventured out of my SFF comfort zone. Earlier this year, I read the follow-up novella, and this time, I was up for a short, fun fluffy romance after the roller-coaster ride I got with To Say Nothing of the Dog. And I was already confident that Courtney Milan’s style and characterization would give me what I was looking for, so I went ahead and read the prequel novella. It did not disappoint! I think I will do something really unusual and read this entire romance series.

Mythspace Vol. 1 and 2 by Paolo Chikiamco

Mythspace is a 3-volume graphic novel about a young man who discovers that the folklore his grandmother used to tell him are actually true! But not in the way he thought it would be. This graphic novel reimagines Filipino folklore in an SFF setting, showcasing mythological creatures from the manananggal, to the capre, and laho. I really enjoyed reading these two volumes, and I was a little sad to find that the volumes aren’t being sold anymore at Kobo.

8511599Eskrima: Filipino Martial Art by Krishna Godhania

I started reading this a few months back, because I needed an introduction to Filipino combat system as part of the research for my story. At first, I was a little skeptical of this book, and it seemed like it made assumptions about its audience (specifically, that you’ll be male, as there was a scene the author asks you to envision, where you might need to use self-defence when you’re out at night with a member of the opposite gender and you guys somehow come across sketchy people who have bad intentions towards your date — needless to say the image that popped in my head was probably not the one the author intended).

But apart from the introduction, I found his explanation of Filipino martial-arts system incredibly detailed and helpful. I don’t think it would substitute the knowledge you gain by actually signing up for classes (which I’m hoping I get to do soon), but there is enough, I believe, to get a writer on a pretty good path to describing how FMA works in fighting scenes. There are also dozens of helpful images and diagrams as well.

33230889The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

So, so, so. I was working on finishing off my 3rd draft this month, but I found myself lacking the creativity to keep up the tension in my scenes. So I decided I should probably read some thrillers or mysteries to figure out how to keep good tension.

The Good Daughter is the first mystery/thriller book I’ve ever read, and it really gives you what you’re looking for. As soon as I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I read it in a day. I even stayed up until 2 in the morning reading it (that hasn’t happened since I was reading Six of Crows / Crooked Kingdom).

July 2018 Books

The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson

The Secrets of Solace is the 2nd book in the World of Solace Series. I read the first, Mark of the Dragonfly several years ago and I remember liking it very much. This book is a standalone like the first, dealing with an entirely different cast set in a different part of the world. In this book, we follow Lina, a young archivist, who finds a mysterious airship stuck in the tunnels of her home. She befriends a boy named Ozben who happens to be on the run from assassins.

I thought that this book had the same imaginative story and characters that the first book did, but it didn’t have the same sense of adventure. Perhaps because Lina and Ozben spend most of their time in the strongholds of the mountain where the archivists live. The plot enfolds only in that place until the climax. What I really liked about this book though is how Lina and Ozben’s character arcs intertwined.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

I feel like you would enjoy this book more if you’re prepared for what it really is. The summary provided tells of Isobel, a talented painter, who gets whisked away by the Autumn Fae Prince, Rook, after she accidentally paints sorrow in his eyes. He loses face at court and intends to have her punished to bring him back to his people’s good graces.

I read Goodreads reviews of this book before diving into it, so I know that it’s not in fact a book about court intrigue, but a book spent on travelling together through the woods. And that was what it really was. It’s just a pretty straightforward story of two people who journey through the forest rife with danger and end up falling in love (though they fall in love pretty quickly, and the 2nd half is all about how they survive the dangers). I think people who like simple, journey-based stories like this would enjoy this book. I personally enjoyed the self-indulgent feel it had. Sometimes you just need a book about two people in the woods falling in love, you know what I mean?

My only frustration really was that the inciting event of Isobel painting sorrow in Rook’s eyes and the consequence of that was never really explored. It just felt like the inciting event was not integrated into the actual story, except to get the hero and heroine to travel together.

June 2018 Books

Since I managed to finish The Way of Kings, I was able to move on ahead and read several more books last month! So let’s get to it.

 

The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

I bought this book last year on a day off mostly because it looked like the type of adventurous MG books that I really like, plus it had a blurb by my favourite author, Megan Whalen Turner. I didn’t get to it until just recently. In this book, the world has been fractured by something called the Great Disruption, where different areas of the world are in different eras. Sophia lives with her uncle, Shadrock, one of the best cartologists among all eras. But one day, Shadrock is kidnapped, and Sophis teams up with a boy named Theo to get him back.

Read More »

April 2018 Books

I’m a little sad to say that I haven’t read as many books as I would like this month. Because of my participation in Camp NaNoWriMo, as well as other things going on in real life, I didn’t really have a lot of time or energy to sit down and read.

I did manage to finish one book, which was this one.

23281639The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

I’ve read one of Kelly McGonigal’s books before, the one about willpower. I knew she had written another book about stress, because I had seen her TED talk a few years back when I was dealing with stress at a new job I had then. Now that I’m dealing with quite a bit of stress again, I thought it would be a good idea to read her book on it.

And it was!

This book isn’t really about how to manage stress, but more about changing your mindset towards stress so that you can actually use it to your benefit. There are lots of scientific studies that backed up her claims and her suggestions. And the storytelling style of the book makes it very easy to read. I think this was a good book to break up my reading slump. I haven’t been able to finish any fiction book lately, and I think it was because I just needed a break from fiction.

I was thinking of talking about Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, which I began at the start of April. I managed to get about 60% of the way through the book before my copy expired. I put it on hold again, and I think I’ll wait until I have finished the entire book before I talk about it.

March 2017 Books

I’m still a little behind in my reading challenge, but I think I did better this month than I did in February. So let’s get right into it!

13555073

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Lucy is one of the three members of a ghost-hunting company called Lockwood and co. One day, they are asked to resolve a haunting, and Lucy unwittingly takes the Source of the ghost. But the mission turns sour and it leads their company into near ruin. They decide to solve the mystery of the ghost to attract more customers. But when a too-good-to-be-true offer comes their way, is it really the opportunity they’re waiting for or someone who has a different agenda?

Let me tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The premise of ghost-busting isn’t particularly original, and the plot was quite predictable at times. However, the twist of having only children sense ghosts was part of the reason Lockwood and co. was such an entertaining group to read about. The characters were fun, empathetic, and flawed. Lucy’s narration was so smooth. It’s one of those writing styles that just really suck you into the story. The worldbuilding was clever; actually what I really love about it is that it took a common concept and just gave it a little twist, and I was really excited to see what the story will do with it.

For most of the book, one of the things I really enjoyed is the way Lucy was never considered inferior to her peers because she’s a girl. It really seemed as if everyone just had this expectation that when it comes to ghost-hunting, girls and boys were equally skilled, and nobody expected otherwise. But this sadly got subverted near the end of the book, where even Lucy was forced to admit that as a girl, she’s more sensitive. I just didn’t think this was very fair for her.

34506912

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

So, we’ve all heard the likes of Delilah Bard, women who dress up in men gear. Sometimes it’s because they require the disguise to be safe, but other times simply because it suits them.

Well let me introduce you to Prince Sebastian, a prince who sometimes like to wear dresses. When I saw Shannon Hale recommend this on her Twitter, I was intrigued.

The last time I encountered a male character who wears dresses was when I watched Fushigi Yuugi. Nuriko was one of the most compelling anime characters I’ve seen to this day. I mean, look at him! His death was one of the most painful character deaths I have ever endured. (Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen Fushigi Yuugi… but I suppose it’s a little late now.)

nuriko

I don’t usually read graphic novels (the last time I read manga was in 2014). But I got in this one really easily. The characters were cute and expressive. I really like the way Frances and Sebastian’s friendship evolved, and the eventual romance they cultivated. I also like how the conflict evolved naturally from their personal and interpersonal goals. I’m pretty sure I’m adding this to my list of comfort books.

Currently Reading

Yes, I’m still making my way steadily through The Way of Kings. It’s taking a long time. I feel bummed about it. I usually devour a Sanderson book.

Ahhh, I’ve been waiting for Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi for about a year now. I’m so excited to be reading it.

Finally, in keeping with my non-fictional historical interests, I’ve picked up Lisa Lowe’s The Intimacies of Four Continents. It’s a bit dense, but I do think it provides a different perspective of the many things we’ve come to associate about colonial period.

February 2018 Books

Unfortunately I am lagging behind my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal. I’ve been on a bit of a slump lately. I got hit by The Queen’s  Thief feels again, which means that nothing I read seems to be interesting enough to pull me out of it. I sit on my hour-long train ride, looking out of the window, entertaining angsty scenes about Attolia. So uhm, yeah. I haven’t been very productive at all in terms of my reading.
22859559

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

This has been on my TBR list for years! But it’s only recently that my library got an electronic copy. So I was really excited to read it.

It was quite good. I really loved how Caribbean myths came alive in this story. I know next to nothing about Caribbean culture, so I’m always excited to learn something new about other cultures, especially through fantasy books. Also, this is #OwnVoices, which makes it better! The plot was very fast-moving. I remember thinking “Whoa, I must be nearing the end of the book now,” only to find out I was only 40% of the way through. It is packed! That said, I do wish that the plot could have slowed down sometimes so the story could explore more of the inner world of the characters and show a bit of introspection. Corinne was great, but I would have loved to hear more of what went on in her head, because the writing style was like “this happened, then that happened.”

Currently reading…

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Yes, I’m still slogging my way through this ginormous book. I really like Kaladin, but he’s the only one I like. Every time I get to Gavilar’s thread, I just don’t feel like reading much. So every other chapter, I find that I put down the book for long stretches, because I just don’t care enough about anyone other than Kaladin.

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

I’m no stranger to Stroud’s books, and I liked some of his older stuff. I wasn’t aware he had a new series out until I saw some fanarts for it on Tumblr. Naturally, my interest was piqued. I’m really liking how this is going so far. Lucy is a great narrator, and I’m really liking her friendship with Lockwood.