Books I’m Glad I Gave a Second Chance (and ended up loving)

 

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I will admit, talking about books I no longer like is not always the most fun- nothing hurts as much as falling out of love with a series 😉 Which is why, after yesterday’s post, it seems only fair to talk about some books I very nearly gave up on… yet won me over by the end!

game of thrones book

Game of Thrones– okay, starting with a *shock, horror* confession: when I first picked this up, I wasn’t sold. I know, I know, it’s got a great opening, but I didn’t click with the writing style. What ended up happening was I saw the show and read a spoiler for the second season… which meant I inevitably felt I had to read them all that summer to make sure I wasn’t spoiled again! #bookwormlogic Anyway, I picked it up again and realised what a BIG MISTAKE I’d made- I may never be in love with the writing style- still these books are ridiculously exciting.

the-black-magician-trilogy

The Black Magician Trilogy– I was actually warned that the first book in this series might be a struggle to get through… and it was. That said, the last act convinced me that I *needed* to keep reading- and I’m so glad it did, because by the end of the series I’d done a complete one-eighty on my feelings for the series and fallen irrevocably in love with it. The only problem is I frequently think of this book and series when I’m considering DNFing- cos it’s that one time I cling to as proof that *it can get better*!

prince-of-thorns

Prince of Thorns– I’ve always been drawn to darker fantasy, yet it took me a very long time to take the dive into the more adult grimdark section of the genre. The number of times I considered reading this before I finally picked it up was ridiculous- and it’s ridiculous how much I loved it given my hesitation. I’m so glad I got over my initial trepidation- cos if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of reading this intense and wild series!

wolf speaker

Wolf Speaker– alright, time for another admission: this was possibly the first book I ever DNF’d. The worst part is my reason SUCKED (I think it had something to do with the list of made up terms at the beginning- is it obvious I was so young I didn’t really understand how world building worked? 😉 ) Fortunately, my sister read it instead and told me I was completely wrong. To prove to her I was right, I read the whole thing… and, yeah, she was right. The book was awesome. Thus begun my lifelong love of Pierce’s books!

percyjacksonseries

Percy Jackson– when it came to this book I simply felt it was good, but I was too old for it. And while that isn’t any less true now than it was a couple of years ago, I did decide to give it another shot- and whaddya know, I had a lot of fun with it!

six of crows duology

Six of Crows– this one is sort of cheating, cos it’s more that I read the previous Grisha series and, while I liked it, wasn’t as blown away as everyone else seemed to be. So when a new Bardugo series came out, I wasn’t rushing to put it on my shelf. Somehow though the hype train caught up to me and I couldn’t help but jump aboard. Turns out I wasn’t a complete sucker- this duology ended up stealing my heart!

court of mists and fury

Court of Mists and Fury– there seems to be a trend for me with Maas’ books- I don’t generally speaking end up sold on the series openers- HOWEVER once the series gets going, I become more than a little enthralled with the characters and relationships that I forget all my misgivings. This was precisely what happened with Court of Mist and Fury– while I wasn’t a fan of Court of Thorns and Roses, I was told book 2 redeems the series and that was one hundred percent the case for me.

pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice– to be fair, I never thought this was a bad book, I simply thought it wasn’t for me (oh how wrong I was 😉 ). Like a lot of books on this list, one of the greatest obstacles to enjoying it came down to poor timing. Personally, I think I was too young to properly get the wit and irony. When I got a bit older, I gave Austen another try (well I had to read Emma for school) and you know what? My taste had completely evolved and now I’m complete Austen stan 😉 Turns out our kid-selves don’t know everything- who’d have thunk it? 😉

canterbury tales

Canterbury Tales– this is simply another case of reading it too soon (and not having the faintest idea how to tackle the Middle English). So when I had to study this at uni I was DREADING it. Fortunately I was told a great tip to read it aloud- sure, I sounded like I had a funny accent, but once I got going I realised how easily I was able to make sense of it that way- and more importantly discovered the brilliance of the characterisation and stories for myself.

simarillion

Silmarillion– alright, this is admittedly not the best book ever. Certainly, it’s still not my favourite Tolkien. Nonetheless, even though I came close to DNFing this twice, I’m glad I eventually got past the midway hump- especially since some of the more beautiful stories come after that point! I also really liked the quasi-Biblical style of the prose. So in the end, I thought this was a worthwhile read. Plus, it never hurts to delve further into Tolkien’s wonderfully crafted world 🙂

So are there any books or series you nearly gave up on, yet ended up loving? Let me know in the comments!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Deserves a Medal

Hello all! I know I’ve not been online much this week, it’s been a crazy one, but I have what will hopefully be a very fun review to make up for my absence. I was in need of a bit of relaxation recently, so decided to pick up the Percy Jackson series. Though I read the first one about a year ago and did do a mini review for it, I decided to rework the review here, so that you could get my thoughts for the series as a whole. Plus I had a few more thoughts, now I’d read the whole thing.

percy jackson lightning thief

The Lightning Thief– the first thing that struck me about the Lightning Thief is how much I wish I’d read this series when I was younger. I loved the inventiveness and how it presented the gods in a modern, yet awe-inspiring fashion. This was most apparent in how much I enjoyed Riordan’s representation of Hades’, my favourite god, which made me laugh out loud. He made him sufficiently scary, whilst not doing that contemporary thing of making the God of the Underworld = Satan. Percy is a bit of an everyman, but I’m okay with that. And I do like the spin on the other two main characters, Grover and Annabeth, who are best described as mini versions of their forebears, but with a twist. The one sticking point I had was that there was a false ending- and I felt like the second one was tacked on for the sake of sequels. It was a pity, to me as an adult reader, that the betrayal was incorporated into the earlier BIG SHOWDOWN. Still, it was a lot of fun and it definitely inspired me to read more (admittedly a year later).

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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percy jackson sea of monsters

The Sea of Monsters– the opening for this one was stellar and I thought it was very smart to connect the bullying aspect to Lord of the Flies– it made these books seem doubly educational. This actually feels like a much smarter read in general- especially if you look at the allegory on racism, as Never Not Reading did in her amazing post. Tyson is a fantastic new addition to the story and I loved the depths that it explores on the subject of family as well. Plus, like the first one, there are some really clever connections to mythology, like the use of Tantalus and the chain stores as hydras. Above all, the plot was the plot was a real whirlpool of adventures. Plenty of this was entertaining and made me laugh. And where I had a few issues with the ending of Lightning thief, Sea of Monsters made me go ARGHHH!! So it was a reading success. I’m still lamenting that I didn’t read this when I was younger, because it doesn’t land as well as it could have- and that’s pretty much the only reason I couldn’t give this series 5/5 bananas.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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percy jackson titan's curse

The Titan’s Curse– this was so non-stop and I got really caught up in the twists and turns, so I completely forgot to take notes. Given the length of the review, you might assume I didn’t like it, but I really did enjoy it and thought it was a MIGHTY addition to the series. I particularly appreciated the budding romance in this one and how it developed organically. And as always I loved the details about the gods- I thought it was very clever how the goddess of love made you giddy in her presence and Ares made you mad.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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percy jackson battle of labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth– firstly I dug how the labyrinth was conceptualised here- again Riordan took the imaginative route and allows the reader to get lost in his genius world building. I did like the addition of flashbacks as well- even if Icarus and Daedalus is right at the pinnacle of my favourite myths and it’s basically impossible to live upto the classic mythology. Hera and Hephaestus were exactly how I imagined them for this series- so that was a perfect work of art. I’m loving the weirdly authentic take on Greek mythology. I also like how this series uses turns of phrase like “All Hades broke loose”- it’s a nice touch and things like that always make me giggle. I think it was great how this book began to deal with deeper themes, like dying. This also had some of my favourite character development, with Grover growing up and gaining some responsibility. Even more than that, I really liked Nicos’ growing role in the story.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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percy jackson last olympian

The Last Olympian– unfortunately, this felt like it leapt ahead in the narrative. Noticing how jarring the start felt, I looked and saw there was a novella in between, go figure. I don’t mind that big series have tons of spinoffs, but I would rather that the basic story got told first and I didn’t feel a little out of the loop when I go to the next book. Otherwise it was completely absorbing as a story. Again, I thought Nico was an amazing character. I appreciated the versions of the Furies, Hades, Persephone and Demeter the most again. Like I said, Hades is definitely my favourite god, so anything that casts the spotlight on him and doesn’t go for the Christian imagery is great in my book. While I did enjoy this book overall, I was a bit torn about a few things. Firstly, I know it’s a kids’ book- but the prophecy just isn’t nightmare-worthy- I’m never keen or sold on books that tell you something is *SUPER SCARY* and it just isn’t. Mostly though, I was really torn about the ending. It completely worked, but the message of “you are not the hero” is a bit of a sad note to end the series on- I actually wished that Percy’s role in the final battle could have been more significant. It is nice to have a new Oracle and the promise of more… but it also seemed rather inconclusive, especially given Percy did not have as strong a role as I’d have liked. I feel like this could have been solved if he’d had a few more flaws/those flaws had been taken advantage of. This is based on Greek mythology after all- and it’s fine if his hamartia is that he’s too trusting, but (spoilers for the ending) it ended up feeling like there weren’t enough costs, because it depended on him trusting Annabeth with the knife… and the only trouble with this is that he’s always trusted her, so there was ZERO character growth here. I just think there could have been a more killer ending.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Anyway, despite that last disappointment that I kind of ranted about, this series completely appealed to my inner Classics geek and I definitely want to read more Riordan.

Have you read this series? Do you plan to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

7 for 7 – July Mini Reviews

Admittedly I’m not prepared to admit it is July- to be honest I think I’d rather stick my fingers in my ears and go “lalalala”- but the world is not listening, time is marching on whether I like it or not and the summer weather is trying to bake me alive…

Sooo it’s time for my monthly mini reviews!

lovely bones

Lovely Bones– I was left with pretty mixed feelings for this. It was absolutely awful to see what happens to the family that’s left behind after a loved one passes- especially in such horrible circumstances- and that definitely made me teary eyed. However, I did find it a little too weird and I found the totally clueless police irksome. I mean, creepy murderer guy is *CREEPY*!!

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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12 years a slave

Twelve Years a Slave– I did not realise the full impact of the book until I reached the end- I was just so wrapped in it that I didn’t notice time passing. The sheer, intolerable injustice of it really got to me. I can’t say anything other than how disgusting it was that human beings could be treated like this. And, as much as we may all be aware of this period of history, it can never cease to be shocking.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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winner's kiss

Winner’s Kiss– okay, so my main issue with this is that I lost interest by the time I got to this book… which was a real shame, because I enjoyed the first two and there were parts of this where I remembered why I’d originally liked this series. However one of the characters got amnesia and that gutted a lot of my enjoyment. Not only did it reset the romance, but it gave said-character a personality transplant and made them a lesser version of themselves (for a totally illogical and unbelievable reason).

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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through the woods

Through The Woods– what an exquisite, creepy read!! Even after I closed the book, I was left with that tingly fear that the monsters might escape the pages and EAT ME!! Okay, I may be a tad melodramatic, but I am very easily spooked, and this was one hell of a graphic novel. What really made this book magnificent for me was that it’s like reading art- I don’t think there’s any other way to describe it. The aesthetic element was just so stunning and perfectly balanced with the beautiful snippy language. The drama created when that was combined with the way it was structured and that building intensity was just perfect. I also loved how it felt reminiscent of both fairy tales and retellings like Carter, whilst still feeling totally unique.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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jerusalem the golden

Jerusalem the Golden– There’s this type of book from the 60s that’s all “boo hoo I’m not properly middle or upper class, even though I’m super educated”. I will come right out and say that I just don’t relate to that sort of thing at all- maybe because their problems feel so “first world” to me. Either way, I felt like this was trying to say something profound so many times (about class, motherhood, etc) and failing. To be honest the serviceable language and decent-ish characters were not enough to save this for me and it failed to hold my interest. I don’t get why this is considered a modern classic- it’s a pretty mediocre read.

Rating: 2½/5 bananas

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jamaica inn

Jamaica Inn– it’s been a very long time since I read Du Maurier- and wow was this a treat. Like so many of her other books, it was compelling, atmospheric and beautifully written. The only reason it didn’t knock my socks off was that, as gripping as it was, I didn’t get the motivations for a lot of the characters. There was a grotesque aspect to them that never really translated into anything believable or dove head first into the uncanny- it was something in between- and I couldn’t quite settle into the book because of that.

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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percy jackson lightning thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)– gosh I missed out on this when I was younger, that’s for sure. It was so inventive and accurate at the same time. And I will say, without going into why, I’ve always had a soft spot for Hades and I loved Riordan’s take on him. I did find that the false ending bothered me as an adult reader, because it felt latched onto the end for the sake of sequels. I’d have preferred if the promised betrayal could have been incorporated into the final showdown. But even if this was imperfect, I still had a lot of fun with this book and plan to continue the series at some point! So Percy Jackson for the win!

Rating: 4/5 bananas

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Okay, so that was a totally mixed bag! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!