What I’ve Been Reading: May 2017 Book Reviews

This month, reading has given me a much-needed break from revision whilst I sat my exams. Here are the books I’ve been immersing myself in this month.

Fool’s Errand

Robin Hobb

Fool's Errand 2

Full review | Goodreads

Fool’s Errand is the first book in Robin Hobb’s The Tawny Man trilogy, and picks up fifteen years after the events of Assassin’s Quest, the final book in The Farseer Trilogy. Whilst Fitz lives out his quiet life of isolation, Witted folk are being cruelly persecuted across the Six Duchies, and in response, the Witted are striking back. When Prince Dutiful disappears, Fitz is called back to Buckkeep to serve the Farseer line once again.

It’s been a couple of years since I last read one of Robin Hobb’s books, and re-immersing myself in Fitz’ story has reminded me of just how much I love Hobb’s work.  In Fool’s Errand, every sentence flows beautifully, every word of dialogue feels real, and every page dragged me deeper and deeper into the world Hobb has created. Hobb’s writing is every bit as smart and absorbing as I remembered, and the story itself as gripping and perilous as I had hoped.

Rating: 4.5/5 – Book of the month!

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Sarah J. Maas

ACOTAR with rose 1.JPG

Full review | Goodreads

A Court of Thorns and Roses is a new-adult fantasy novel that takes its inspiration from the traditional fairytale, The Beauty and the Beast, and combines this with faeries, court intrigue, and a significant amount of sexual tension. After killing a wolf in the forest to survive, Feyre’s punishment is to be taken to the magical kingdom of the faeries, a land filled with secrets, magic and danger. As Feyre spends more time in the faerie kingdom, she finds herself falling for her masked but handsome faerie captor, and finds herself entangled in a dangerous game of faerie politics.

This book took me a while to warm to, but once I did, it became quickly addictive. The plot of this book definitely improves as it goes along, and the final chapters of the book were undoubtedly my favourites. I had a few qualms with this book, as I wasn’t sure how I felt about the romance, and the main love interest. It would take me too long to explain in this post exactly what troubled me about the romance, so let me direct you to my review here. Despite this, I can’t deny that I really enjoyed this read.

Rating: 4/5

A Quiet Kind of Thunder

Sara Barnard

A Quiet Kind of Thunder.JPG

Full review | Goodreads

A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a contemporary young adult novel about first love and finding your voice, and is told from the point of view of a sixteen/seventeen year-old girl called Steffi. As a child, Steffi had selective mutism, and now at sixth-form college, she struggles with social anxiety. Steffi is introduced to Rhys, the new boy at school, who has difficulties with communication for a different reason. Rhys is deaf, and through the medium of British Sign Language, Steffi finds a new way to express herself, and someone she can talk to. Whilst this book is a romance, the real story is about Steffi learning to overcome her anxiety.

As soon as I read the blurb of this book, I knew I had to buy it, and I’m glad I did, because I loved it. For a novel that doesn’t have a big, perilous plot, it was incredibly absorbing, but the thing I loved about it the most is how relatable I found it. A Quiet Kind of Thunder is an incredibly touching and sweet read that I wish I could have read when I was younger.

Rating: 4.5/5

Smoke

Dan Vyleta

Smoke Dan Vyleta.jpg

Goodreads

Smoke is set in a Victorian-esque setting in which every sin, every unkind thought or wicked emotion, is visible as smoke. The story centres around two boys, Thomas and Charlie, who attend a prestigious boarding school near Oxford, England, where, amongst other things, they’re taught to control their emotions and lessen their smoke.

To be blunt, I didn’t enjoy this book. I really liked the concept, and Smoke definitely has some interesting ideas behind it, but I didn’t like the execution. I found the writing style difficult and the pace felt painfully slow. This book also broke the key rule of “show, don’t tell”, as a huge amount of this book was spent with adults explaining one conspiracy or another to Charlie and Thomas. There’s a lot of politics behind this book, and I’m sure there are some clever ideas, but it definitely wasn’t for me.

Rating: 2/5

Where Am I Now?

Mara Wilson

where am i now.jpg

Goodreads

In this collection of autobiographical essays, Mara Wilson (who you might recognise as the actress who played Matilda) writes honestly about her experiences as a child actress, about feminism and body issues, mental health, bereavement, and about what happened when she could no longer play “cute”.

The thing that struck me about this book is that Mara Wilson is a fantastic writer. I found this book absorbing and incredibly easy to pick up, and finished it in two sittings. Wilson is also honest, and writes about issues and experiences that a lot of people will be able to relate to, whether or not they’ve ever been in the film industry. Where Am I Now? is a valuable insight in what it’s really like to grow up in the film industry, and about working out where to go from there.

Rating: 4/5

Release

Patrick Ness

Release upright.JPG

Full reviewGoodreads

This book explores a tumultuous day in the life of gay teenager, Adam Thorn, as he faces the mounting conflicts in his life. This day means confronting his disapproving father, dealing with an inappropriate boss at work, and saying goodbye to the ex he just can’t let go of. Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, this is a coming-of-age book with a hint of the supernatural, following themes of heartbreak, coming out, sex, confrontation, and letting go.

In a way, this book contains two different stories, tied together by a common theme. On one hand, we have Adam’s story, which reads as a perfectly-written, relatable, and emotional story about a gay teenager confronting the mounting tensions in his life. On the other, there is a shorter, supernatural tale about the ghost of a girl who was recently killed. I absolutely loved Adam’s story: it was one of the most well-written and meaningful young adult stories I’ve read. The supernatural story however was less impactful, but gave a unique feel to the book. This is another book I have a lot more to say about, so I’d love it if you read my review here.

Rating: 4/5

And the graphic novels…

Shattered Empire on Goodreads | Saga Volume 3 on Goodreads | The Guild: Knights of Good on Goodreads

I’ve also read three graphic novels this month (although technically I read Shattered Empire last month, but decided to include my review here instead).

Of these three, Saga, Volume 3 was definitely my favourite. I love the Saga graphic novels, and I particularly loved this installment. This graphic novel was funny, quirky, and contained plenty of action. I loved it almost as much as the first volume, and I definitely preferred it to volume 2, so I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Rating: 5/5

Star Wars: Shattered Empire was the most disappointing of these three graphic novels. I enjoyed the story featuring Poe Dameron’s parents, as I liked how this linked to The Force Awakens movie, and I liked the main characters. At the same time, it didn’t feel like a particularly impactful story. The other stories included in this collection were mostly enjoyable, but none of these particularly stood out.

Rating: 3/5

Meanwhile, The Guild: Knights of Good, the second of Felicia Day’s The Guild graphic novels, was a funny and light graphic novel that I really enjoyed. This collection shines the spotlight on each of the main characters in The Guild, and I love how quirky and unusual these stories were. I didn’t find it quite as relatable as the previous graphic novel, but it was equally as funny.

Rating: 4/5

Now that my exams were over, I will probably be reading even more. I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, so I’m looking forward to reviewing that along with next month’s reviews.

What have you been reading?

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