Wednesday 6 September 2017


What I Read in August 2017 – Wrap Up & Mini Reviews

After reading a massive eleven books in July, August was a bit of a quieter month as my reading high halted. My siblings stayed with me for two weeks out of the four meaning I wasn't commuting by myself, diminishing my reading time to the few longer train journeys we took out to Brighton and Oxford. Still, out of the six books I did manage to finish in August, five were 4-star reads which wasn't bad at all. My favourites this past month were YA alien invasion sci-fi I Am Traitor by Sif Sigmarsdóttir and magical fantasy epic A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke.

A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke (Scolastic)

A Shiver of Snow and Sky takes place on a fairy tale like island called Skane where the Goddess in the sky "speaks" to the islanders through lights in the sky; green means all is fine, blue means a snow storm is afoot, and red... red means danger. 17 years ago, when protagonist Osa was born, the sky turned red followed by a plague that killed hundreds of people – including Osa's mother.

Growing up with a father and sister that begrudge her her life, blaming Osa for her mother's death as, according to them, the pregnancy weakened her, when the skies turn red again Osa feels it is her mission to face the dangers in the mountains and seek out the Goddess to ask her for help to save her people and get forgiveness from her family once and for all.

Osa's journey through other villages, snow fields and finally the treacherous mountains is an incredible adventure, one that reminded me of fantasy epics like The Lord of the Rings, but condensed down into a much more bite-sized novel. I'll do a full review closer to publication date, but let's just say that this was an excellent fantasy adventure; original, epic, and with a kick-ass female protagonist. 4 stars. Pre-order here.

I am Traitor by Sif Sigmarsdóttir (Hodder Children's)

There are a lot of books about looming alien invasions and while they can be good if done well, they have been done SO much already. I Am Traitor while also dealing with the alien invasion concept arrives smack-down in the middle of the action, which is a much more exciting concept. Aliens are here, they're taking teenagers from across the globe and they seem to know exactly how many teenagers live in each home so they can pick them off one by one...

Amy's brother Andrew was already taken, but she wasn't because the aliens mistakenly took her friend Matilda instead who was staying with them. This gives Amy the chance to find the Resistance and team up with them so when she does get taken by the Visitors she has a plan to fight back and help save humanity. But when she too is taken on board of one of the alien ships and she's about to execute her plans, nothing is quite like she thought it was. There is a Resistance among the Visitors too - but which side is telling the truth? And can Amy even save humanity or is it too late?

I Am Traitor was consistently exciting and surprising, beyond the alien invasion concept it was wholly unique and with a very fascinating cast of characters, from kick-ass teens to traitors. I don't tend to read much sci-fi but if all alien novels are as original and well-written as this one I'll have to dip my toes into the genre much more. (Read my full review here.) 4 stars. Buy here.

The Glow of Fallen Stars (Ventura Saga #2) y Kate Ling (Little, Brown)

I really enjoyed Kate Ling's first novel in the Ventura Saga; The Loneliness of Distant Beings. It was chilling and bleak and really set up an interesting story for a follow-up.

Fast-forward a year and a half, and I was kindly send an unexpected copy of the follow up: The Glow of Fallen Stars. Admittedly, after so many months had passed and so many books were read since, TLODB wasn't fresh in my mind – despite loving it so much. This meant that it took me quite a few chapters to get back into the story and remember the relations between the different characters. However, when I got back into it, I really got into it.

TGOFS is to TLODB, what season 2 of The 100 was to season 1: it sets up an entirely new exciting concept, expanding the universe beyond anything the readers and characters could've possibly imagined. It was surprising, fascinating and so very imaginative. Its explosive conclusion was totally worth the slight struggle of getting back into the world of Ventura at the start of the book, and I hope there is much more to explore of these new directions in future installments. (Read my full review here.) 4 stars. Buy here.

The Lustre of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller (Allison & Busby)

13-year-old Walter Lavender finds it difficult to communicate, especially with strangers. He's ridiculed and deemed stupid at school, but he's actually incredibly clever with a story to tell, he just tells it through his writing instead of by talking. He always has a notebook on him because it'll help him with his findings; because Walter is incredible good at finding lost thing.

He lives with his mother who owns a magical bakery in NYC; one where the baked goods are alive in the most charming of ways. However, when the book that brought the magic to the bakery becomes lost just as the new landlord ups the rental prices, the bakery is at risk of foreclosure.

Walter makes it his mission to find the lost book, but this is easier said than done as the pages have all drifted to different places. The Lustre of Lost Things tells a charming adventure story of the boy's mission to help save his mother's bakery while meeting an eclectic mix of people on his journeys through NYC. (Read my full review here.) 4 stars. Buy here.

Bizarre England: Discover the Country's Secrets and Surprises by David Long (Michael O'Mara Books)

This is a cute little tome jam-packed with fun facts about England, the interesting tidbits are categorised by subjects such as royalty, transportation, islands and eccentricity, making it easy to find back an interesting fact you've come across and want to reread.

While I enjoyed flicking through this and it was a relatively quick read I would say that perhaps it was almost too stuffed with fact after fact and little elaboration on each one, so it was impossible to actually take them all in and store them for future trivia quiz usage.

Perhaps this one would be better suited to dip in and out of rather than read front to back like I did. 3 stars. Buy here.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek by Anthony O'Neill (Black & White Publishing

Seven years after the death of the sinister Mr. Edward Hyde which, we all know from the source material, also took away the unfortunate soul of Dr. Henry Jekyll, a mysterious man arrives in London claiming to be the deceased Jekyll and laying claim to his estate. As the double life of Dr. Jekyll was known to only a very few, mostly everyone is fooled by the man's claim, except for Mr. Utterson, Jekyll's lawyer who was the sole beneficiary in Jekyll's will.

Needless to say the people surrounding Utterson don't believe his wild claims that the gentleman in Jekyll's residence is in actual fact an imposter, believing that Utterson is merely trying to lay claim to the estate himself. In a feint attempt to uncover the truth, Utterson goes down a dark path of madness not dissimilar to the one walked before him by his old friend Henry...

Perfectly capturing the bleak atmosphere of Victorian London and the origin story, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek is a solid sequel to the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. I was thoroughly gripped by the mystery at the heart of the story and even started to doubt myself just like Mr. Utterson did as the supposed imposter was so very good at portraying the character of Dr. Henry Jekyll. While I wasn't a huge fan of its inevitable ending, it did echo The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde perfectly, so I can't fault it that. 4 stars. Buy here.

Have you read any of the above books? And what have you read in August? Let me know in the comments below!

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