Books, JJ Reads

Memo Pad: October 2016

I started this month on quite a good foot but lost my way in the middle as my kindle died a sudden and untimely death. If you’re following me on twitter then you would have seen me complain about it. A lot. (Did my kindle dying stop me from buying kindle books? Big fat no.) At that point I’d just started reading The Rook (literally the day before) and that had to go on hiatus while I tried (and failed) to fix my kindle and then while I waited for my new one to arrive. I did use the gap to go back and reread my favourite book though.

I had planned to read another arc I was sent this month but that will have to wait til next month now, I’m also planning on reading the three Hogwarts short stories next month. I’m not sure how much more reading I’ll get done than that as I’m supposed to be jumping on the National Novel Writing Month bandwagon. We’ll see how it goes. But back to this month:

Read: 4        DNF: 1       Reread: 1mp-october-2016

Malice by John Gwynne *****

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.

High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

I’ve had this book on my kindle for quite a long time. Almost since I first got it about a year an and half ago. I didn’t realise when I bought it that it was almost 800 pages. That in itself wouldn’t stop me reading it but there always seemed to be something else to read instead and it was a big commitment. I finally took the plunge at the end of last month and I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t expecting to before I started. Heck, I wasn’t expecting to for a while after I started too. It’s a bit of a slow mover to begin with and its quite difficult to figure out who is who (I was still having a bit of trouble with this half way through and that’s a long way when the book is that big). I also think it would have helped to have a map because I only started to get an idea of where things were in the last half. Its quite typical high fantasy in that there are lot of guys, and horses and swords and together with not knowing where they were it made it difficult to tell some of the POV characters apart. But enough moaning because once this book got going: wow. I loved it so much. It was in a similar vein to ASOIAF and it does site those books as one of its influences. I reckon this is worse than A Game of Thrones for killing people though so don’t get attached to anyone please.


Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare *****

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. 

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

I’m going to start this by saying I have not read any other books by Cassandra Clare. I did watch the film for City of Bones and thought it was rubbish and then I did watch a couple of episodes of Shadowhunters purely because I figured the book was so popular that they probably just messed up the film. I thought that was pretty rubbish too though. Clary came across particularly annoying to me so I’ve had no inclination to read those books. As why would I want to read about a character I don’t like? But I’ve seen good things said about the other series set in that world so I thought I’d give then a go as I really do love the whole idea of the world that’s been built (Shadowhunters, Institutes, Parabatai, Marks. It all sounds awesome).

But anyway onto the actual book: There’s a lot of interesting elements but I think the book focused on the wrong things for me. I don’t particularly like Tessa much and from seeing the City of Bones film I thought she was very like Clary and Will was very much like Jace. I think the world is really interesting but I probably won’t be reading the rest of these books. Maybe I’ll give the other series in this world a final try one day.


The Breedling and The City in the Garden by Kimberlee Ann Bastian *****

Absolute obedience, servitude, neutrality. These were the laws that once governed Bartholomew, an immortal soulcatcher, until one ill-fated night when he was forced to make a choice: rebel against his masters or reveal an ancient, dangerous secret. He chose defiance.

Imprisoned for centuries as punishment for his decision, Bartholomew wastes away—until he creates an opportunity to escape. By a stroke of chance, Bartholomew finds himself in the human world and soon learns that breaking his bonds does not come without a price. Cut off from the grace that once ruled him, he must discover a new magic in 1930s Chicago.

Armed with only a cryptic message to give him direction, Bartholomew desperately tries to resume the mission he had started so long ago. Relying on the unlikely guidance of the streetwise orphan Charlie Reese, Bartholomew must navigate the depressed streets of the City in the Garden. But in order to solve this riddle, he must first discover if choice and fate are one in the same.

First off, I don’t really like the name of this book. It’s a little clunky, The Breedling and The Garden City would have been fine but, like it is, it’s a little long.

This book has made me realise that I don’t really like third person omniscient. It feels very classic, if you like things like that then great but I’ve never been a very big fan of the classics and I think I’m suddenly realising this is why. It reads a bit too much like an essay (lots of howevers and therefores) I also don’t think its done particularly well here either, there is a lot of exposition, especially in the dialog. Exposition in itself isn’t bad but we’re told things we really don’t have to know like the side character’s life stories in dialog that people just wouldn’t say. Charlie Reese talks like he’s reading from a dictionary. I might expect that kind of vocabulary from the immortal breedling that’s however many hundreds of years old but not from a street kid.

The good news is that it gets better towards the last part of the book once we get into the supernatural stuff that the books premise promised and I feel like its set up for a much better second book. It’s just unfortunate that it couldn’t cut down on the side info and get to the good stuff earlier in this book.


The Rook by Daniel O’Malley *****

The body you are wearing used to be mine.

So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her. She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own. In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.

I’m honestly not sure how this book managed to be a serious book. Some of the things in this book sound like someone purposefully making up the most ridiculous things (some of the powers for instance: a guy with tentacles for legs, a boy who’s powers are linked with the weather in Norway, there’s one who can make you high if you touch him on the eyeball… ) but somehow it managed to hold itself together. I liked this book, i liked Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) I thought it was a solid four stars. But at the same time there’s so many reasons this book shouldn’t work. The aforementioned ridiculous powers, the letters written to self massive info dumps, the amnesiac main character. I mean that all sounds like the make up of a really bad story but its actually really good. I enjoyed reading it and I’ll be reading the sequel at some point (although I’ve been told its not as good) as I’m interested to see where it goes.

I can definitely tell it was written by an American though, not that I have anything against them it’s just when you have your whole book set in Britain and your British characters mention that they happen to be having pancakes for breakfast I’m going to notice it. This wasn’t the only thing (over abundance of guns) but this, strangely, is normally the culprit.



The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

This is my favourite book and it;s the first book in my favourite series. So okay, there are books in this series that are better than this book. But this was the start, the book I fell in love with so it’ll always be my favourite (even though the third one is, in my personal opinion, the best). Whenever I go to reread this book (and if you can’t tell from the shabby look of the whole series in the photos – I’ve done it quite a lot) I think to myself, okay Jess. You’ve obviously bigged these up in your head and they can’t possibly be as good as you remember them so don’t be disappointed. But then I read them and oh look, they’re just as brilliant, if not more so, than the first time I read them. As soon as I finish one I want to read the rest and as soon as I finish the rest I want to go back and reread them. Perhaps tellingly, if you typed thief into good reads I’ve read six of the first eight entries. I like thieves and Gen is my favourite thief. It also contains my favourite creation stories and myths about gods and goddesses that a book I’ve read has had. Ugh. Okay I really want to read the rest again.



Nightingale, sing by Karsten Knight

Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read this book as I wasn’t feeling very well and just wanted an easy read, YA, adventure. something to escape into. I thought this would be a prime candidate for that but…. I managed to get about 30% in before I gave up. There isn’t anything wrong with this book. The characters aren’t bad, they just aren’t great. The writing isn’t bad, it’s just not great. The story isn’t bad, it’s just not great…. You get the picture. I wanted an escape and this wasn’t it.


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9 thoughts on “Memo Pad: October 2016”

    1. Ah the duck! I really should make notes when I read because I came away thinking there was so many silly things and then couldn’t remember any of them!
      I definitely won’t be spending money on it. I have so many books on my kindle right now that I want to get through that I’m ignoring books I really want to read. So this sequel will take a major backseat.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think beside my bed has enough clutter. Another notebook would get eaten by it all. I have started making notes on my phone after I finish a book. Not sure why I don’t just do that during. I guess I’m enjoying reading it too much lol


      2. The other thing you could do is write on the books as you read. But that would totally depend on how you feel about writing in books. You might be able to takes notes on the Kindle. I know you can bookmark pages.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I don’t read any paperbacks anymore (unless I’m rereading something) but that’s a really good point about kindle. I’ll definitely try to work out how notes and bookmarks work thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

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