Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: June 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of thirteen books: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, X-Force Vol 2: Old Ghosts by Craig Kyle, Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection Vol 1 by Mark Millar, The Quick by Lauren Owen, Marvel 70th Anniversary by Stan Lee, Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence, Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand by Ed Brubaker, Dangerous Days in the Roman Empire by Terry Deary, Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson, The Three by Sarah Lotz, Boy21 by Matthew Quick and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

I’m still reading Marvel comics! There are suddenly a lot more available on the county library system, so I’m making use of it while I still can. My standout book of the month was definitely Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, about the Borgia family. I find them fascinating, and this account of their lives (albeit partly fictionalised) was just brilliant. Brave New World was my book group’s Sci-Fi Book of the Month – unfortunately I didn’t get round to our fantasy choice, but I’m hoping to read it this month.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read four books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge and fully recruited Storm, contributing three bonus points to my team. I also managed to defeat Loki for an extra three bonus points! July’s villain is no other than the notorious Dr. Doom, and I already have my books planned to defeat him. They’re all ARCs waiting for review – even better!
  • I raised my Goodreads goal to one hundred books, and have currently read eighty-four towards that goal.

 

Currently reading:

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Off the blog:

June has been STRESSFUL – hence a lack of posts towards the end, as well as lack of commenting on other blogs. If you saw my post on accommodation last week – well I think it’s sorted. I’ve finally been able to reserve a room. But the email says they’ll let you know at the latest five days before the move in date whether it’s approved. FIVE DAYS?? What if you get rejected? I expect they rarely reject anyone unless they’re not a student and have somehow got through the system – but WHAT? What if you’re rejected, how do they think you’ll find somewhere else in five days, because all other student accommodation will have gone by then. Ugh. Well… if all goes to plan, I have myself my own little apartment in Leiden. A little further than I thought from the faculty, about a 10-15 min bike ride/25 minute walk to the centre, but it’s somewhere to live! And an actual apartment to myself. And of course I’ve nosed around the area on Google Maps, and it looks lovely 🙂 Now that it’s sorted, I feel like I can get on with making other arrangements for Leiden.

Oh, and I also discovered a new love for Jane Eyre, which I re-read for the first time in seven years after reading it at school. I watched the newer film version with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wakowski, and the soundtrack is just GORGEOUS.

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How was June for you? Hopefully less stressful than mine!

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Review

Review: Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

When Prince of Thorns was chosen as my book group’s Fantasy Book of the Month, I read it with great excitement, only to be rather, well… disappointed. I’d heard so much about the series and Lawrence’s writing, and I was sad that it just didn’t work for me. The main issue was Jorg himself – so when I heard about a new series from the author, based around a completely different character, I jumped at the chance to sample some more of his writing. And this time? I understood what all those other bloggers and readers had been talking about!

Whilst Jal is not your ‘typical’ hero, that’s kind of the whole point. He’s a spoilt brat of a prince, a womaniser, selfish and thoughtless and honestly a bit of a coward. But that’s what makes this book so fun – Jal manages to get himself into all sorts of trouble, with his mischievous personality and witty, dry sense of humour. It was so refreshing to have a hero who wasn’t the ‘chosen one’ or ‘pure’. Although he has his flaws, he is a good person deep down and visibly develops along his journey. Snorri as a companion of Jal worked really well: the two juxtaposed in terms of size and morals – Jal as a manipulative young man who is just living for the day, and Snorri as a loyal and protective father and husband despite his burly and sometimes terrifying appearance. Snorri’s back story was really heartbreaking. He was built up to be this threatening, violent Viking and then we saw his true side and the whole reason he was on a journey.

As for the setting, I always found the sudden contrast between the medieval feel of the culture and the sudden modern elements that were introduced towards the end of Prince of Thorns to be a bit… well, odd. But this time round I enjoyed it much more, particularly because there was a major concentration on mythology and legend.

I feel like Prince of Fools contains some of the funniest, most self-deprecating lines in fantasy fiction (apart from perhaps the work of Terry Pratchett!), with Jal’s frequent quips and fast wit. It had me laughing out loud, which I have to say, fantasy fiction does not often manage. Some of this was achieved from the post-apocalyptic world itself, e.g. as Jal and Snorri make their way along a train track towards a tunnel, Jal thinks to himself that a train must have been a fearsome beast to have had the strength to plough a hole through the mountain.

I’m so glad I got a review copy of this one, as it gave me another chance to try out Mark Lawrence’s writing – which I enjoyed a whole lot more this time. I’m definitely up for reading the rest of the book in the series, although I hope the ending of Prince of Fools doesn’t open up an opportunity for Jal to become more like Jorg…

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: May 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Books Read May 2014

Last month I read a total of fourteen books: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1) by Charlaine Harris, Fantastic Four: Books of Doom by Ed Brubaker, Ms Marvel: War of the Marvels (Ms Marvel #8) by Brian Reed, Insignia (Insignia #1) by S.J. Kincaid, The Amazing Spider-Man: Book of Ezekiel (Amazing Spider-Man #7) by J. Michael Straczynski, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers (Guardians of the Galaxy #1) by Brian Michael Bendis, New X-Men: E is for Extinction (New X-Men #1) by Grant Morrison, Doctor Who: Keeping Up With The Joneses (Doctor Who Time Trips #3) by Nick Harkaway, Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding, Lexicon by Max Barry, The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, Sabriel by Garth Nix and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia.

I read a lot of graphic novels this month, but I think I’ve read every one I can get my hands on in the county library system… so looks like I’ll have to find them elsewhere from now on. My favourite of the graphic novels was Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers – some great art in there, and I am SO excited for the film! Standout novels included Lexicon, Retribution Falls and Insignia. The latter two are the first books in series, so that’s two more series to continue now…

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read four books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge – two books towards defeating Bullseye, May’s villain, so I didn’t quite manage to beat him. Next month’s villain has been revealed as Loki, so hopefully I’ll be able to take down the trickster god!
  • Last month I raised my Goodreads goal to seventy-five books. I’m now at seventy-one books, so it looks like I’ll be raising it again soon!
  • I read one book for my USA Challenge, which admittedly I’ve mostly forgotten about…

 

Currently reading:

The Quick by Lauren Owen Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

 

Off the blog:

May has been uneventful… in fact most of the ‘Off the blog’ stuff I shared last month happened in May. Oops! I did go and see X-Men: Days of Future Past on Thursday, and LOVED it. It also reignited my *ahem* ‘interest’ in Michael Fassbender… But apart from that, pretty uneventful! Here’s some stuff from my Instagram:

May Instagram
Left to right: My awesome new Game of Thrones t-shirt from Teefury; scaring myself silly by playing Bioshock in the dark & with headphones; my town has a festival every day and the May bank holiday weekend was just PERFECT for it 🙂