July Wrap Up and August TBR

It’s the end of the month and so time for another wrap up. Once again I had a pretty good reading month. I didn’t read as much as previous month, but I still read quite a bit and I have two five star books to share with you guys. However I didn’t start the month very well – the first book I picked up I ended up not finishing. That book was The Red Knight by Miles Cameron – I got about 3oo pages in but I decided to give this book a break. There are many perspectives and it is constantly shifting, which just didn’t work for me. I found it confusing and I couldn’t get fully into it. I may come back to this at some point, but for now this is a DNF. Onto the books that I have finished this month.

The Dream Thieves / Maggie Stiefvater ★★★
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with this. I think part of the reason I didn’t love it is that it wasn’t the right time to read it – I haven’t been in a big YA reading mood this month and I think that probably affected my enjoyment. It was quite mixed for me. I found the first half of the book really quite slow and I was more aware of the teenage angst in this book than I was with the first book. Adam was infuriating in this book –  I mean seriously dude, get over yourself. The massive chip on his shoulder seemed to be his defining characteristic and I found it incredibly annoying. The focus also shifts more to Ronan in this book, with the other characters kind of being pushed to the back burner – I mean Noah doesn’t really make an appearance, he’s just there occassionally. I am not a huge fan of Ronan, but that is just my opinion – in my opinion he’s a bit of an arsehole. The new ship (Pynch) didn’t quite work for me – to me it seemed to be created mainly due to convenience and the proximity of the two characters, rather than anything else such as genuine feelings. The second half definitely picked up and I sped through it compared to the first half. Overall it was OK and  I will continue on with the series at some point.
Unicorn Tracks / Julia Embers ★★★.5
The author was kind enough to send me a digital copy in exchange for an honest review, so thank you Julia Embers for sending me her book. This was a good YA fantasy with a lesbian romance. I really enjoyed the setting of this fantasy safari land with an abundance of mythical creatures – I loved the presence of these mythical creatures. The writing and plot were enjoyable. My one main issue is that it is so short – it is less than 200 pages. For me, this means less development and leads to an inevitable bit of insta love. I think the author did the best she could with the romance, but there is only so much that can be done – with less than 200 pages there is going to be a bit of insta love.Overall I enjoyed it and I would recommend it, especially if you like fantasy and/or unicorns.
Villette / Charlotte Bronte ★★★.5
I have to admit that this one was abit of an odd one for me. It was my classic pick of this month and I have been meaning to read it for years. You cannot deny that Charlotte Bronte is a great writer, but something about this just didn’t quite work for me and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It is quite dense and slow moving, but nothing you can’t get used to after a couple of chapters. Lucy Snowe was quite an intriguing character, but I didn’t really care about any of them. It felt abit inconsistent – which is quite interesting really because this book was based around her own experiences, so perhaps she had difficulty melding fiction with reality. I don’t know, but I also found it a bit confusing at times and it took me quite some time to get into. Overall I liked it, but I didn’t love it like I love Jane Eyre.
Exposure / Helen Dunmore ★★★★
This is a historical fiction set in the 1960’s during the Cold War. I have been meaning to read more by Helen Dunmore, after reading The Siege by her and absolutely loving it. This is another great book by Dunmore. The characters are extremely well written, intriguing and complex – they are the main driving force of the book. It is very much a character driven book. The plot, although quite slow moving, is engaging. The elements of mystery were pretty predictable but it doesn’t really take up much of the book. Overall I really enjoyed it and I will definitely be checking out more by this author.
Children of Time / Adrian Tchaikovsky ★★★★
A great and immensely imaginative standalone science fiction book. For this I am not going to go into too much detail, because I think this is the type of book where you want to go into without knowing a whole lot. It did take me a little while to get into this book, partly due to the switches in perspective and partly due to the changes in time, but after a few chapters you get into the flow of the writing and story. The epic scale of the book was really enjoyable – it literally takes place across thousands of years and I think this really lends itself to show how vast and lonely space must be. The character development was very well done and it was great to see how they all progressed. I definitely recommend this book.
Knights of the Borrowed Dark / Dave Rudden ★★★★
*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for and honest review*
This was a very enjoyable, quick read.  I really liked the creepiness of the story and I enjoyed the suspense of it.  The characters were all great – I liked that they were complex, flawed and abit messed up. The plot was very enjoyable and although some plot points were pretty predictable it was still enjoyable to see it all play out. The world is excellently constructed and I loved the humorous undertone of the writing. Overall this was a fantastic book that can be enjoyed by a wide range of ages and readers. I highly recommend it.
The Sorcerer in the North / John Flanagan ★★
This is the fifth book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. In hindsight, this is probably the weakest one so far in terms of the plot, but I still really enjoyed it – it was a bit slow and the outcome of the mystery was quite predictable. I love the characters, although I kind of missed Halt in this one. I just find these books quick and easy reads that are very enjoyable.
The Shadow of the Wind / Carlos Ruiz Zafon ★★★★
I have been meaning to read this for years and I am happy to say I have finally read it. I really enjoyed this but didn’t love it as much as others seem to. I found the writing and plot occasionally dragged – some sections were a bit tedious in my opinion. It took me awhile to be fully absorbed with the story and the slow pacing meant it was quite a slow read for me, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The characters were also a bit flat for me – I would have liked more depth + development. I really enjoyed seeing how the mystery unfolds and I loved the idea of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Overall I very much enjoyed this, although I think this may be a bit of a marmite type book – you either love it or you just don’t get it.
Machinations / Hayley Stone ★★★★ 
*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
I really enjoyed this! I liked that it threw you in at the deep end with a load of action. The setting was a interesting one and I hope in the next book(s) we get more knowledge of the world as a whole. I loved the characters – especially the sarcastic Rhona. Although I would have preferred a purely platonic relationship between certain characters, I thought the hint of a love triangle was done quite well and I loved that the majority of the time they are honest about their feelings. It could have been less romance focused but that is a minor complaint – while reading I enjoyed every second. I thought the author created suspense throughout the book really well and the action was also done very well. I have definitely become attached to these characters and I am excited to continue with this series.
The Hunted Assassin / Paul B. Kohler ★★★★
*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
This was a fantastic science fiction thriller/mystery book. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in but I loved the mix of science fiction and mystery. I really enjoyed the characters and the plot was engaging throughout. I sped through this pretty fast because I needed to know what was happening.  I had no issues with the writing and found it easy to get into the flow of the plot and the writing. Some of the plot points were a bit predictable but it was still enjoyable to watch it all unfold. Overall I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it. Although I think it is a standalone, I will definitely be keeping an eye on anything else this author writes.
To the Sky Kingdom / Tang Qi ★★★★
*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
I very much enjoyed this book. The characters are all written well and are intriguing. I liked the structure of the writing – the narrator will go off on tangents as the story progresses. It added depth and a greater understanding to the events of the book. I loved the epic scale of the book – there is alot of information about the immortals (for example their etiquette, hierarchy etc.) but I never felt overwhelmed by it. It was all relevant and interesting. It is quite different to anything I’ve read recently and so I found it quite refreshing. The plot was engaging throughout – the plot never dragged. Overall I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.
Emperor of the Eight Islands / Lian Hearn ★★★★★
This was fantastic. First off, the setting is what really drew me to this book and it didn’t disappoint. It is set in a mythical, medieval Japan and like I said I loved it. The plot was engaging and unlike anything I’ve read recently. The characters are all intriguing, as well as being well written. This book definitely pulls no punches – bad things happen to some good people and good people do some questionable things. The ending was just… I am still recovering. Well that’s being a bit dramatic but the ending definitely messed me up a bit. Excellent storytelling – I will be trying out Lian Hearn’s other books and I will be eagerly waiting for the next books in this tale. I highly recommend this, especially if you like fantasy with elements of Japanese folklore.
Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews ★★
*I received a digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*
This was an incredible book. It is definitely not an easy read, as it focuses on ‘comfort woman’. Basically women were forced to be sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII. This book follows one woman’s story. I think this is such an important book and it is so important to be aware of these things – to be aware to the atrocities the human race is capable of. While alot of it is very hard to read, Ja-hee’s strength is incredible to read about. It is written very well and it is also extremely accessible – I know very little of Korea’s history but I was never confused. I was very interesting – it has definitely made me want to know more about Koreas history. This book only has 414 ratings on Goodreads! Please go read it. I highly recommend reading this book. Full review here.
In terms of my August tbr, I definitely want to read four books – Passage to India by E. M. Forster, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima and The Miller’s Dance by Winston Graham. Other than that I am just going to read what I feel like reading at the time – I’ve included a picture of some of the books on my tbr I’d liked to get to soon. I will probably begin a short story collection (sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review) in August as well – Strange Medicine by Mike Russell. Currently I am reading The Night Manager by John le Carré, which I am really enjoying it so far – I am about 150 pages in right now. Hopefully I will continue to have a good reading month and I hope you get plenty of reading done as well. I hope you are all having a wonderful and I will see you next time.

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