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.

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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*!

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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!

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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!

Bookish Wanderlust for January Blues

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Well, I don’t know about you this month, but I’m definitely experiencing the January blues. It’s still pretty grim out, my reading slump is only just beginning to shift and I’ve got another cold (wtf is wrong with my immune system lately?!). Which is why I think it’s the perfect time to start thinking about a quick getaway… and by getaway, for us shall-we-say financially strapped bookworms, I mean rushing to the bookstore and reading about some lovely and impossible farflung places. And to make this even more fun, I’ve picked books with some real world locations you can actually visit. So hold on tight and here we g-o-o-o….

daughter of smoke and bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone– as you might be able to tell from my review the other day, this book has some *wonderful* descriptions of real world places, starting with Prague. What I didn’t mention, however, is that this book has *tons more* locations and the story spins across planets. Yup- that’s right, this book can take you out of this world! (and you won’t have to wait for Virgin’s space programme to get going 😉 )

bear and the nightingale

Bear and the Nightingale– *one day* I will go to Russia (I just want the opportunity to sing “St Petersburg is gloomy, St Petersburg is bleak…”- who’s with me?!) but if you’re like me and can’t exactly do that right now- NEVER FEAR- this book can transport you in both time and place. And the second one, Girl in the Tower, involves far more excursions. This is a trip perfect for the historically minded (fairy tale obsessed) traveller 😉 Speaking of fairy tales…

a song for summer

A Song for Summer– In my opinion, Eva Ibbotson was *the queen* at making history fairytale-esque and transporting the reader to faraway lands. One rather neglected book I’d recommend is A Song for Summer which takes you to the Austrian countryside, at the brink of WW2. It’s a wonderfully romantic story and if you fancy feeling like you’re somewhere else, this is perfect.

shadow of the wind

Shadow of the Wind– ahh Barcelona- one of the most beautiful cities in the world- that’s the glorious setting of Zafon’s remarkable series and boy does he bring it to life! With evocative description, a mysterious story and an eerie sense of the supernatural lurking, this book is what I recommend for anyone feeling restless for some sun, yet doesn’t mind a few chills along the way. But of course, if sun is all you’re looking for…

Sisterhood_of_the_Traveling_Pants_book_cover

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– as the title suggests there’s some different locations in this and some girl friendship and a little bit of magic 😉 I’d recommend this for anyone looking to just rock up on a beach for a book and whose down for a summer fling 😉 Still, if it’s romance you crave, there’s something even better on offer…

return of the native

Return of the Native– one of Hardy’s more romantic works and often his most popular novel. What makes this even more perfect for this list is Hardy’s remarkable ability to characterise the landscape of his Wessex (dubbed after the Medieval term for the area of Southwest England). This is, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of that. What’s even better is if you visit Hardy’s Wessex you can tread a lot of the same paths as the characters and even see where Hardy’s mad wife lived (in an attic, as per her request, she was a bit bonkers- read some of her diary if you don’t believe me 😉 ) Here you can stay with one foot in the real world and another just on the brink of imagination. If you want to go *full on magic*, well then look no further than…

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Harry Potter– not only is the wizarding world *amazing* but there’s also some wonderful real life places you can go. I’m not gonna pretend I get the whole “let’s go to King’s Cross and pose by a random wall” thing (sorry, I’ve been there loads to catch a train and don’t find it particularly glamorous) BUT I used to live in Edinburgh and let me tell you, there was clear inspiration for JK up there- everything from Teviot (the student union) to Greyfriars Bobby Cemetery ( ❤ ) with some very famous residents… Side note, if you ever do find yourself up there, do go to the Elephant House cos it’s beautiful and niche (though a little pricey) not for the HP graffitied toilet- please.

 

inkheart-trilogy

Inkheart series– okay when it comes to trying to make this real world setting, this one is pushing it. HOWEVER I think this is such a fun book to put on the list, because it’s a book about stories coming to life and as the series progresses it becomes about entering stories. How awesome is that? If you fancy a trip somewhere completely unique then book your ticket today 😉

six of crows

Six of Crows– again, this is stretching the rules a bit, because this isn’t a real world destination. BUT it is based on Amsterdam and that certainly comes across in the books. I loved the way Bardugo brought the location to life in her books, incorporated elements of the trading and canals and generally made it feel true to the real world, but with a twist. It also involves a heist in Scandinavia- which is probably more dramatic than a lot of book travellers are expecting. More for the adventurous tourist I’d say 😉 Speaking of more daredevil types…

city of masks

City of Masks– VENICE, HISTORY, ADVENTURE- need I say more? I think this is a pretty underrated series to be honest and the first is one of my favourite books set in Venice. Well, an alternative Venice 500 years before our time, where silver is more valuable than gold- interesting right? Not exactly for history buffs, but you’ll get more than you bargained for out of this- it’s quite the journey.

Now we’ve come to the end of the road 😉 Do you fancy a trip to any of these bookish worlds? And do you have any bookish locations to recommend me? Let me know in the comments!

Unfolding My Feelings For Crooked Kingdom

crooked kingdom….as much as that is possible to do. Because I swear this series had my emotions in a vice. Honestly I was nervous to even start, but I needn’t have feared because this book was hella entertaining. It was as twisty as Inej on a tightrope, as funny as Jesper’s banter, as smart as Kaz… you get the idea- it was fantastic.

I fell straight back into the world and the story and the characters. And then, right when it had me in the palm of its hand, it crushed all the spirits it had previously raised so high. Don’t worry, no spoilers, but somehow Bardugo managed to simultaneously incinerate my heart, and then stoke what remained over a deliciously warm campfire, until I melted in a puddle of marshmellowy gooey goodness (can you tell I’m getting ready for bonfire night?) To say this ending was bittersweet would be an understatement. But whatever my feelings were about it: it was glorious.

There are so many levels to enjoy this series on: adventure, romance, friendship, darkness, characterisation. I feel like it has something for everyone. But speaking of characters, I have to state the obvious: I was head over heels for them. Plus, it even had a couple of great cameos from the other Grisha series- though I won’t spoil the surprise and tell you who it was for anyone planning on reading it 😉

And oh my goodness the writing! I rarely stop reading to write down quotes- but this was too damn good. “Knife edge posture”- *shivers*! Perfectly fabricated, it injected so much life into the characters and the story. I also loved the use of slang like “the deal’s the deal” to make the world feel so much more real.

Okay, clearly I could sing this book’s praises forever, so I’m gonna leave it there, with the very obvious final rating of:

5/5 bananas

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So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Six of Crows Made My Heart Fly!

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If there is a single word I could use to describe this book it would be: faultless. I devoured this book in one sitting and didn’t take much in the way of notes- so if this review is in any way lacking- take that as a testament to how good this book was!! It was, in fact, too good for me to be proper book blogger right now, so I’m just gonna have to insert some totally deserved squeals:

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Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, let’s talk about why I loved this book. The most obvious thing to talk about first is the characters. AHHH the characters (yeah I’m not totally done screaming yet…). I cannot express how stonkingly ridiculously brilliant they were. This was a book full of anti-heroes (two of my favourite things right there: book + anti-heroes = happy orangutan). Not only that, but it managed to do a slow reveal of their backstories *whilst* simultaneously leaving me wanting more for book 2.

And this was not the only way this book managed to satisfy me and whet my appetite at the same time. The story itself built to a perfect crescendo and just when I thought it was all tied together nicely- BAM! It threw me under the bus and went *I’m not done with you yet*.

Every twist and turn led me somewhere I didn’t expect- but more incredibly, it led me back to the world of the Grisha and made me love it *so much more*. It’s no secret that I was on the fence about the original series- BUT BOY OH BOY- the world and story here gave me a whole new level of appreciation for Bargugo’s writing.

Because it was soooo good. Everything so well thought out. From chapter to chapter, scene to scene, Bardugo passed  the buck of the story so that it flowed like a perfectly executed relay. Where one moment left off another began- it never gave me the chance to catch my breath.

Add to that some subtle messages and growth as the characters learn about hatred of the “other” and all I can say is this book made my heart soar!

Rating: 5/5 bananas (duh!)

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Okay, so this was much less a review and more shameless gush. But I can’t help it with this one! Right now I’ve lent my copy to my sister, saying “if you don’t love this there’s something wrong with you” and am waiting for a good moment to crack open the next one!

So have you read this? Are you planning on reading it? Let me know in the comments!

For the Crooked Kingdom review, click here.