Each time revision season comes around, I find myself reading even more books than usual. Reading is my favourite way to unwind during the stressful exam season, a time when I find a little escapism is definitely needed.
This month, I’ve read an amazing range of books, including fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary YA, and non-fiction. Hopefully you can find something amongst these reviews that you like the sound of – let me know if you do!
As ever, all reviews are spoiler-free, and give minimal insight into any previous books in the series.
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)
V. E. Schwab
A Conjuring of Light is the final instalment in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy (if you haven’t read this trilogy, you should read my review of the first book now). The series takes place across parallel worlds, each with its own London, each unique, and with its own attitude towards magic. A Conjuring of Light picks up exactly where A Gathering of Shadows (book 2) left off, with the fate of the main characters and the worlds they inhabit balancing on a knife-edge. The plot of this book rarely slows, maintaining this high-stakes, fast-paced feel until the final pages, making this an engrossing read which was incredibly hard to put down.
This book has everything I could have hoped to see in the final book of the series. It has magic, danger, death, heartache, romance, betrayal, pirates, and most of all, stunning character development. Despite being a high-stakes series conclusion, V. E. Schwab does a great job of injecting humour and fun into a book which is otherwise dark and filled with danger – and heartbreak, plenty of heartbreak. The fiery relationships between the characters make for entertaining dialogue, with Kell and the privateer captain Alucard providing plenty of witty verbal sparring. Lila also adds to this, with her quick humour and impulsiveness making for some fun character moments.
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I am completely in love with every single part of it.
Rating: 5/5 – Book of the Month!
Everything, Everything is a contemporary young adult novel about love, family and what it means to be alive. The book is told from the point of view of Madeline, an 18-year-old girl who doesn’t remember what it’s like to feel the sun on her skin or the wind in her hair. Madeline has severe combined immunodeficiency disorder. The air she breathes is filtered, her school lessons are delivered through Skype, and her only friends are her mother and her nurse. That is, until Olly moves in next door and is determined to get to know her. As Olly becomes a part of Madeline’s life, he ignites a yearning within her to experience something more than the world within her little bubble.
For a small book, Everything, Everything tells a big story which touches on a number of topics, including love, loss, family, and loneliness. Madeline’s story is incredibly touching and relatable. You don’t need to be ill to understand the loneliness that Madeline feels. In Madeline, Yoon creates a relatable, smart, and funny character, who felt well-developed for such a short book. The romance is sweet, and not overplayed, keeping the focus on Madeline’s story. Some elements of the story are predictable, but on the whole, it still feels unique and refreshing. I also really liked the ending, although I can understand why it might polarize readers
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I read it in about two days, taking every spare moment I had to read a few more pages, and I finished it feeling satisfied and emotional.
Just A Geek
Just A Geek is a collection of essays written by Wil Wheaton (actor in Star Trek: The Next Generation, host of Tabletop and Titansgrave on Geek and Sundry, and blogger at WilWheaton.net). In this memoir from 2004, Wil writes about life after Star Trek, and about fame, rejection, and rediscovering himself. The best thing about these stories is that they’re well-written, honest, and relatable. They also give an interesting insight into Wil’s relationship with Star Trek, why he left, and what it taught him.
The only negative point I have to make about this book is that there are a few times Wil makes immature comments that feel like he is objectifying women. These comments are clearly an attempt to inject humour into the book, and aren’t meant to be offensive, but reading them now, they feel a little uncomfortable. Perhaps these were the kind of comments that passed well as humour in 2004, so I can only hope he wouldn’t make those kind of comments now.
Negatives aside, the stories themselves were insightful and meaningful, so I really enjoyed this book.
The Scarecrow Queen (The Sin Eater’s Daughter #3)
The Scarecrow Queen is the final book in Melinda Salisbury’s The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy, a young adult fantasy series inspired by fairytales. This conclusion alternates between the perspectives of Errin, the main protagonist in The Sleeping Prince and Twylla, the original protagonist in The Sin Eater’s Daughter.
This book has an atmospheric start, set in Lormere Castle, which we last saw in the first book, and gradually escalates towards the ultimate climax of the series. Aurek makes for a sinister and loathable villain in this book, and it is made clear that he is beyond any hope of redemption. Meanwhile, Twylla’s character undergoes a drastic change from the naive and shy young girl she was at the beginning of the series. To me, this change felt a little abrupt, but on the other hand, it was great to see how Twylla has changed to match her circumstances.
While this was a satisfying conclusion to the series, for me, it didn’t quite top The Sin Eater’s Daughter. Salisbury writes well, and has created a magical setting with hints of mystery and fairytale lore, but this book just doesn’t quite have the complexity or richness that I look for in a great fantasy novel.
Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse #3)
James S. A. Corey
The third book in James S. A. Corey’s epic sci-fi series, Abaddon’s Gate picks up after Caliban’s War (book 2), with Holden continuing as a point of view character, alongside three new characters: Anna, Bull and Clarissa. This book begins with a flotilla of ships from Mars, Earth and the OPA arriving at the mysterious ring structure that has established itself near Uranus. This book takes on a slightly more philosophical tone than the previous instalments, while maintaining the usual themes of politics, science and technology, and character-focused writing. Abaddon’s Gate is the most fantastical of the series so far, with mesmerising and epic moments to capture the imagination.
I really liked the new characters introduced in this novel. Anna is a methodist pastor from Europa, who travels to the ring in the hope of discovering what the protomolecule’s latest move means for humanity and God. Bull, meanwhile, is the quick-thinking, no-nonsense security officer on the OPA’s ship, loyal to Fred Johnson, and ready to do whatever it takes to secure their mission’s success. Clarissa, however, is out for revenge. These vastly different perspectives give a deep insight into the world in which the book is set.
Although my favourite character is still Bobbie from the previous book, these characters are dynamic, unique and interesting, and the plot is exciting and intriguing. I can’t wait to see where this series goes next.
Geekerella is the classic Cinderella story retold in the modern day, against the nerdy backdrop of geek culture, fandom, and sci-fi. The main character, Elle, is the ultimate Starfield (a fictional cult sci-fi series) fangirl, and is horrified when she learns that her beloved Federation Prince Carmindor is going to be played by none other than teen heart-throb, Darien Freeman. Meanwhile, Darien faces his own problems, as he takes on his dream role, only for the fans to dismiss him as just another pretty face.
This is a clever, witty and fun book, with interesting and relatable characters who really made me root for them. I found Elle instantly relatable, and Darien’s chapters give the book a unique twist, telling the Cinderella story from a different point of view.
This book is well-paced, there is chemistry between the characters, and it has hints of suspense and sadness injected into all the right places. There are also some beautiful quotes scattered throughout this story, and I love the writing style. Geekerella is a fun and quirky modern take on a classic, but it also tells a different story: one of friendship, loss, fandom, and being yourself.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s reviews, and maybe one of this month’s reads has caught your eye!
What have you been reading this month?
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