This is a collection of thirteen short, fantastical stories. I opted for the audiobook and I must say, I thoroughly recommend it! I’m supremely picky with audiobooks, and I’m delighted to say that Rue Sparks’ The Stars Will Guide Us Back was just wonderful! Lovely narrations by the two readers and exquisite prose by Sparks. I’m definitely going to be checking out Sparks’ next books.
Buddy read this book with The Book Trove. We’re hoping to shine some attention on independent books and authors. These books are picked totally at random and selected by vote amongst the group.
THIS BOOK IS SUCH CUTE ROMANCE, UGH. ❤❤❤ Luke and Theo are fantastic together and so adorable. They have such good chemistry, it’s insane.
This is a perfect summer romance read! Beaches and new love. And the constant surfing descriptions just made me think of Shelter.
Totally a compliment, FYI. I adored this book so much. Jamie Deacon’s writing is so evocative and lush and lovely.
This book totally stole my heart. That said, despite how shippable Luke and Theo are, I do feel bad for Zara. She really deserved much better than everyone keeping secrets from her. Giles was such a prick at pretty much every point, although he was a good friend to Theo.
Really hard not to picture Rupert Giles:
But this Giles was decidedly less Watcherly. I got so annoyed at him throughout the book. He’s a good character, though, so there’s that.
One of the things I loved, but found myself shaking my head and laughing at, was how Luke is so DRAMATIC. He ought to get an award for epic overreactions, yet he’s written so well and so sympathetic, that even when he is a DISASTER, you end up rooting for him. I really adored Theo, too, although a lot of his decisions left me so frustrated.
I didn’t think I was going to be okay with the ending. I was really, really worried about the ending for a second there.
This book is set at the end of the Cold War, in the heart of Berlin, as Ralf and Oz fall in love.
But of course, in the end, 1989 meant neither of those things. It just meant Oz and espionage – how grand that word sounds now. And, I suppose my family, and the terrible things we did.
Angst and espionage, you say?
(I’m not sure I ever recovered from the gut-punching angst that was London Spy, but sure, I figured let’s give 1989 yearning and secrecy a try.) This is another Joe Jameson narration, and it is a truth universally acknowledged that if Joe Jameson narrates a book, I will listen to it. (If you’ve been following my reviews, he’s one of my favourite audiobook narrators so far. He voiced The Prince of Thorns, The Last Romeo and The Magnificent Sons. Three amazing books, by the way. Deffo check them out!)
This book was a wonderful historical fiction about young love and family obligations. Fergusson’s writing is lovely and I’m so glad I gave this book a chance! Oz and Ralf are wonderful characters!
Also, his description of his mum at the start straight up gives me Sex Education vibes.
I really enjoyed this book and I’m definitely going to look out for more books by Ben Fergusson in future.
❧ audiobook review I swallowed the night, and the night swallowed me.
This sentence is so good for one-lining the theme of the book. Darkness, and what happens when you allow it to devour you.
This is my first of the classic grimdarks, really. I’ve heard so much about the genre and have so many of the books on my list, but other than GRRM’s books (which I think are considered grimdark?), I haven’t delved much into the genre. And now I’m sure I’m going to fall face first. Can’t wait. 😉
This is a book of brittle and bleeding characters. Especially young, furious Jorg, our MC. After the horrific deaths of his family, he’s grown into a boy with no forgiveness and no desire for anything but vengeance and bloodshed.
‘I don’t require your forgiveness.’
My heart absolutely breaks for bitter, brutal, broken Jorg. What a life he’s endured already in so short a time. No wonder he’s as unforgiving and terrifying as he is. That’s all he’s ever known. Mark Lawrence really knows how to make a character study, goodness.
I cut from myself all the weakness of care. The love for my dead, I put aside, secure in a casket, an object of study, a dry exhibit, no longer bleeding, cut loose, set free. The capacity for new love, I burned out. I watered it with acid until the ground lay barren and nothing there would sprout, no flower take root.
Everything about this book left me stunned. It’s dark. Way dark. So very, highly, muchly dark.
But it’s done so, so well.
They say fear lends a man wings.
Mark Lawrence has such a way with characters and words despite this darkness that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading even when you don’t love what the characters are doing. You feel for the same characters you don’t agree with, and that’s a really special talent for a writer to achieve.
It’s the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears. The spirits of the dead have nothing on it. The dead one tried to show me hell, but it was a pale imitation of the horror I can paint on the darkness in a quiet moment.
It must be noted that the narration for this is sublime. Joe Jameson is officially one of my favourite narrators. He narrated The Magnificent Sons, one of my favourite books from last year, as well.
❧ audiobook ‘I’ve been thinking about dragons all my life, but this is the first time one’s turned up!’
My introduction to Terry Pratchett came with book version of Good Omens many years ago. Watching Neil Gaiman’s incredible, lovely determination to ensure that his friend’s vision was actualised and honoured with the adaptation earlier this year made me really want to go back and read the rest of Pratchett’s works. I recently watched an interview where Gaiman talks about how every single step of the adaptation was taken with Terry’s vision in mind, and if that’s not the most wonderful, beautiful tribute from one author to another, I don’t know what is.
I remember reading about Pratchett’s passing and to this day it saddens me deeply. I’ve always wanted to read his books, and I’m glad I started with The Colour of Magic. It’s a series that SO MANY PEOPLE have encouraged me to read, and they’re absolutely right! This is a tale that brims with imagination, humour, fantasy, eccentricity and, of course, colour and magic!
If you’re waiting to get started on this author, wait no longer! Pratchett has certainly earned his place as a modern classic author and an essential, foundational contributor to the genre. I can’t wait to read more of his works!
I, for one, would love to see the turtle carrying the Discworld through outer space.
I first read Twilight (2006) when I was thirteen. I loved it, and read all three sequels in quick succession. I was a bit hesitant to give Midnight Sun a go, however. After all, it’s the same plot as Twilight, only from Edward’s POV. (There’s also a gender-swapped version of Twilight, too. So, there’s three Twilights to choose from, really.) But then I read The Host, and I really enjoyed that, and I found out that Jake Abel (in The Host movie) was voicing Edward in the audiobook, so I decided I wanted to give it a try.
‘My life was an unending, unchanging midnight. It must, by necessity, always be midnight for me.’
Ah, the nostalgia hit me hard on this one. I was deffo not expecting it. Like, I haven’t read Twilight since I was a teenager, but diving back into this world has been so fun. And I really, really like Edward’s POV. I actually prefer his POV. And I wholeheartedly recommend reading this via audiobook. After listening to it, I can’t picture anyone else as Edward. Jake Abel is A+ casting.
Also, Edward is bloody hilarious in this. Like, the things he obsesses over had me howling. Dude has absolutely ZERO chill. And I like the insight and development of their relationship that Meyer goes into. He and Bella have a lot of conversations that they didn’t have in Twilight, and hearing his perspective on the whole thing actually makes a lot more sense now. Bella always thought of him as so perfect and it was really hard to get a read on *Edward* in her book. Now, reading his perspective, it just makes so much more sense. The books complement each other quite well in that sense.
You learn about Bella’s favourite bands, movies, books. It’s not just Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet. Bella gets cool points for Monty Python love, I’ll give her that. She talks about having jobs back in Arizona which led to her lack of a social life because she was always taking care of her mother, having no childhood because she was the adult, etc. Edward susses out why she loves taking care of people and worries about her not getting to do the things she actually wants. His concern for her wants is really sweet, honestly. Yes, he needs to chill, but it’s hard not to sympathise with the lad. Seriously, though, it’s from Edward’s POV, but Bella’s personality is explored so thoroughly in this one and I’m so here for it.
As well, his interactions with Emmett have me giggle snorting. They’re great bros in this and the family interactions really added that extra side to the novel that we never got from Bella’s POV. He’s also so sassy about Mike and the other students in the school. Like, chill dude. C’mon. Be cool. No one can conjure problems out of thin air to worry about quite like Edward. Poor lad needs a cup of tea and a calm movie.
Anyways, this book is pretty cool and Bella/Edward are still shippable.
Following on from my post about comic books here at the start of the month, I read a lot more throughout the month, so do forgive the absolute overload of comics in this post! 😉 I’m absolutely loving the variety of genres that I’ve been trying lately and the artwork is always so different, which is enchanting. It’s hard to tell what my favourite art style is yet, but I definitely have some styles that I’m loving.
40 Seconds is really cool. Reminds me a bit of Stargate, and I’m curious to see how the storyline wraps up. Field Tripping is like crazy Magic School Bus, only it gets darker, fast. Goliath Girls reminds me of Pacific Rim, only with an Adventure Time-esque twist. My Boyfriend is a Monster is an anthology series, each following a different romance that centres on the paranormal. I read the first two; one follows a couple in the zombie apocalypse, the other follows a girl who finds out her boyfriend is reanimated.
Let all the Children Boogie is a new short story from Tor. I really enjoyed it! Tor has such a plethora of short stories to choose from and they always make a great break from long, winding sci-fi.
In the Flood was super trippy. Is trippy a genre? If so, this is definitely that genre. Perhaps more accurately it’s surrealism, but trippy works too. This graphic novel was visually gorgeous, but I admit I felt a bit confused by the storyline and I’m still not wholly sure I get how it played out. I think it would’ve helped if I’d read the synopsis beforehand. Oop. Definitely worth a read, though! (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)
The Weirdies was bloody fantastic. When the main location in the book is Our Lady of the Perpetual Side-eye, you know the book is going to be good. AND WHAT A GREAT READ À LA A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS. A bit like The Gashlycrumb Tinies and Addams Family, too. Kate Winslet’s narration just made it *chef’s kiss* Barnacle, Garlic and Melancholy are just delightful. And Ms Emily is the best! The descriptions and one-liners had me giggling and shaking my head the whole time. Some of them were incredibly profound, too:
‘Being very strange kept people away. And if people stayed away, you could never disappoint them.’
This is dark, funny, a bit gothic, wicked and just wonderful. ‘I want you to be weird! As gloriously, outrageously weird as you can be! I like it – no, I love it!’ (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) was wonderful. It’s hard for me to really express how much I sank into this tale and how much I wish the ending was different!
‘If the book is good enough, you feel like everything is true.‘
I honestly, truly enjoyed this. It’s a very good twist on kid goes off to fantasy world. This story focuses on the family he leaves behind, the brother who wants to know the truth of where he went. My heart broke for Aidan throughout this story and I do wish it had a slightly different ending, but overall I thought the take was interesting and Aidan and Lucas had a great brotherhood. It kind of reminds me of Last Bus to Everland.
➵ thank you netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review ♡ (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)
Sadie Sprocket Builds a Rocket IS SO CUTE! A little girl builds a ship to Mars, aiming to be the first one there. It’s told in rhymes and it reads like a song almost, which I adored. This is such a great book for kids!! There are facts on female scientists and Mars at the end, too. (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)
Fearscrape was so unexpected! I loved the sarcastic, quippy, fourth-wall breaking narrative of this comic. Seriously, I was not expecting it to be so amusing, haha. So many good one liners! This first comic follows Henry Henry, a translator/writer after he steals a manuscript from another author. He’s subsequently mistaken for the author by a being who appears before him, the Muse. Henry Henry’s consequently brought into the ‘Fearscape’, a place where writers selected by the Muse battle fears in order to make them less frightening. That’s, like, such a cool idea? Very intrigued to see where it’ll go! (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)
Apparently this was originally written in French as Mécanique Céleste, which I didn’t know until I finished it. Very cool! I love reading translated work.
‘The envoys are supposed to represent the planets … but that girl’s a star.’
I didn’t realise this was a sport-themed graphic novel, oops. Not a genre I’d normally pick up, but I enjoyed this one! The art is really cool and the colour are very … calming, almost? The colour scheme reminded me of Peanuts, although the genres aren’t in the same realm at all. It was very retro! The plot is fairly straight forward: the fate of everyone’s future lies with who wins the match. So, in essence it’s a very relaxed, sporty version of The Hunger Games.
Worth a read, especially for those who like dystopian, sports or graphic novels!
➵ thank you netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review ♡ (Review cross-posted to Goodreads.)
I started off the new year by reading a few comic books and finishing Sylvester by Georgette Heyer, narrated by Richard Armitage. I’ve been having a hard time focusing on longer reads at the minute, simply because I have so much to do, so short reads and audibooks are very helpful right now.
I really enjoyed Oddly Normal, which has adorable illustrations and a fairly sad storyline; Die!Die!Die! was intriguing. It’s by the same author as The Walking Dead and has gruesome opener, but looks to be really interesting. I’m curious to see where it goes! Has anyone read any of these?
I also started two new TV series: Young Wallander and The Alienist. I adored them both and cannot recommend The Alienist enough. Dakota Fanning, Luke Evans and Daniel Brühl make a fantastic trio! The mystery is intense and fairly un-guessable, which is something I’ve been waiting for. The costumes are gorgeous as well. Everything about the show is well done, honestly. If you enjoy dark mysteries, this one is enthralling.
Young Wallander is based a Swedish book series and was brilliantly done. I love the whole cast and thought it ended well. It has a second series coming, I believe, so the few things that weren’t wrapped up I’m assuming will be addressed in the coming season.
I have listened to some lovely audiobooks over the break and thought I’d share a few recommendations for those who enjoy listening to stories as much as reading them! (These reviews are also cross-posted to Goodreads*).
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (1922), narrated by Richard Armitage. So utterly lovely! Cannot recommend enough.
The Collectors by Philip Pullman (2015), narrated by Bill Nighy. Bill Nighy could narrate dry socks and they would be interesting – thankfully, Philip Pullman is also a brilliant storyteller, and thus we have a perfect match. ♡
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1911), narrated by Lily Collins. I haven’t ever read this one before, despite seeing a few of the adaptations, but Lily Collins is a superb narrator. Nana and Peter remain my favourites.
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel (1989), narrated by Gildart Jackson. What a great Hanukkah tale! ♡
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843), narrated by Hugh Grant. I’ve never actually sat down to read this one, but listening to Hugh Grant do the audiobook was a great first way to hear it! He’s an excellent narrator, the story is quite good, and I’m definitely keen to get to more Dickens now.
Billy and the Minpins by Roald Dahl (1991), narrated by Bill Bailey. I hadn’t come across this one as a kid, which is odd because Matilda and The Witches and The Twits are some of my most memorable childhood books/films, but this one is super cute.
The Truth About Owls by Amal El-Mohtar (2015), recorded on the Strange Horizons podcast. I’ve heard so much about This Is How You Lose the Time War, but alas I haven’t had the chance to read it yet. This novella really made me want to bump it up my reading list, though! If you want to read/listen to this book, go here.