August Reviews

So I read 26 books in August which I am very proud of. I also completed 6 bingos in the Summer Bookish Bingo challenge.

51LBCLPpMFL1. Sunstone Volume 1 by Stjepan Sejic ***** – This is the first graphic novel I have read, while I love manga I had never read anything similar to Sunstone. I really enjoyed Sunstone mainly for the reason I love erotic fiction and this was just a more visual style of storytelling.

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2. Sunstone Volume 2 by Stjepan Sejic ***** – After the perfect first volume of Sunstone I couldn’t wait to read the second instalment. Seeing the beginning of Lisa and Ally’s relationship and friendship which was so realistic and slightly awkward I couldn’t wait to see where Sejic would take the story. Re-joining Lisa and Ally in their second meeting, which is disrupted by Lisa’s period, I was surprised by how frank and realistic Sejic’s work was. I also enjoyed how he looked at different people within the BDSM community from couples enjoying the pleasure to performers to the designers and builders of the equipment everything was thoroughly researched and excellently presented.

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3. Sunstone Volume 3 by Stjepan Sejic **** – As I started the third volume of Sunstone I couldn’t wait to see where Sejic would take Ally and Lisa’s relationship after the dramatic events that took place in volume 2. We re-join Ally and Lisa a little after the events of Volume 2 as the two attempt to further their relationship.

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4. Exit, pursued by a bear by E K Johnston ***** – The opening to Exit, pursued by a bear was great we meet Hermione Winters who is captain of the cheerleading squad at her school on the way to cheer camp. In the prologue we learn that Hermione is hiding something but we don’t know what yet. We see the various schools settling into the camp and enjoying the time away from their homes and the pressures of the normal lives. We also see Hermione’s relationship with Leo which is strange because he seems more into her than she is into him even hiding a box of condoms in her bag. I felt there was something a little off about Leo but he could just be quirky that remains unknown right now. At this point nothing seems amiss and there are no hints about what is to come.

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5. Trouble at Riverside Academy by Liam Moiser **** – The opening to Trouble at Riverside Academy was great, we are introduced to Riverside Academy which was founded in World War 2 by Lady Simpson’s family for evacuated children. It is also the school were Rachel is in her final year, everything seems normal until a mysterious man appears under the guise of sending his child there but he acts quite suspiciously especially after he catches sight of Rachel’s bracelet. For an novella I was expecting a lot for this book but I was intrigued by the opening chapter.

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6. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate ***** – The opening to Noteworthy was great we meet Jordan who is studying at Kensington-Blaine, a very special school of the performing arts for three years she has been trying to land a lead role in one of the school performances and for three years she has been rejected. She learns she has been rejected because her voice is too deep for the female roles. We see that Jordan has a lot of pressure from school and from her parents to do well and get into a good college like Harvard or Julliard. In a moment of madness Jordan applies to join the Sharpshooters the all-male a cappella group. In disguise she goes for her audition and to her amazement she gets a call back for the following day. Jordan goes to her call back with the Sharpshooters and is initiated into the group. While elated she is constantly worried about being found out but it was very entertaining to read.

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7. Firing of the Crucible by Michael E Shaffer **** – The opening to Firing of the Crucible was great, the novel opens with some strange space activity resulting in the emergence of a ship, through something like a wormhole. We are also introduced to Roh Ceeda who is piloting a ship through its Emergence because she can sense the  Aether in space. She has the task of taking people in stasis to somewhere safe. The journey Roh Ceeda is taking the ship on is meant to be impossible but it turns out to be fairly easy. Ceeda learns about the Terran species (humans) and how they differ from her own species; the Dvane.

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8. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas ***** – The opening to Throne of Glass was great, it has an ominous feel to it. We meet Celaena Sardothian, a trained assassin who has spent the last year in the salt mines of Endovier after getting caught. She is retrieved by Captain Chaol Westfall and brought before the Crown Prince of Adarlan. I loved Celaena’s sassy and almost cocky attitude especially for someone so young. The prince; Dorian offers Celaena the chance to be his champion in a contest to be the King’s assassin, should she win she will have the chance to earn back her freedom so naturally she agrees. As they travel to the city of Rfthold we gets hints that Celaena is something more than an assassin especially in the line; “she didn’t wish to reign over this city again”. This makes me wonder what she could be because she does talk a lot about magic and the Fae like she has intimate knowledge of them. When they arrive at the castle Celaena is segregated from the other champions and beings to develop a tentative friendship with Dorian through their shared love of literature. Celaena also learns of some strange markings throughout the castle and decides to investigate.

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9. Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa ***** – The opening to Children of Eden was great we meet twins Ash and Rowen in their dystopian society of Eden. In their society each family is only legally allowed to have one child so Rowen is an illegal child and her parents have struggled to keep her safe for 16 years. As she becomes quite restless the family are surprised by government officials turning up, Rowen manages to hide in time but it isn’t much of a life. She is told by her parents that they have made ID lens on the black market and she will be going to live with a new family that doesn’t have any children so she can live a relatively normal life. When the truth is revealed to Rowen she is furious and runs away to the city not even thinking about the consequences if she is caught.

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10. The Ghosts of Ukuthula by Rick McBee ***** – The opening of The Ghosts of Ukuthula was great, there is politic intrigue, espionage and murder all in the opening chapter and I was hooked. We start the story in Durban, South Africa in October 1989, this immediately suggests to me as a reader that there will be time and location skips in the duration of this novel. We also meet Dirk Van Zyl, an intelligence agent during an information meeting with the Russians about disrupting the transfer of power to black leaders.

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11. Shatter me by Tahereh Mafi ***** – The opening to Shatter me was great we meet Juliette who has been locked up in a mental asylum for a long time when she is given a cellmate in Adam. At first she is terrified of him but over the weeks they are locked up together she begins to open to him but won’t ever allow him to touch her. It turns out Juliette can kill people by touching them and this is why she is being isolated in a cell, she also realizes she already knows Adam as they went to school together but he doesn’t remember her. After weeks of being locked up they are suddenly removed at gunpoint and Juliette believes she is walking to her death. This isn’t so, it turns out Adam is a soldier and was locked up with Juliette to test her and she apparently passed. Adam’s commanding officer Warner wants to make a proposition with Juliette but we don’t know for what yet.

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12. Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson ***** – The opening to Kiss of Deception was brilliant, we meet Lia who is the first daughter of the House of Morrighan who is to be wed to the Prince of Dalbreck and we follow her through the pre-wedding ritual some of which are slightly brutal. It is made painfully clear from the outset that Lia doesn’t want this marriage and it is purely a political alliance agreed upon by her parents. There is also mention of gifts that are passed to the first daughters and they present at womanhood but Lia doesn’t have a gift. As Lia and her attendant Pauline leave for the wedding they make their escape into the forest which they had planned earlier.

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13. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier **** – Sixteen-year-old Gwyneth Shepherd appears to be an average British teenager: going to school, detesting her uniform, and hanging out and watching movies with her best friend, Lesley. But there is more to Gwen’s story than homework and boys. Gwen’s family has a deep, dark secret, a secret originating from the 1500s, and around which a complete network of scientists, doctors and even a secret society has formed.

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14. Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier **** – Sapphire Blue picks up where Ruby Red left off, shedding light on the events that transpired when Gideon and Gwen encountered Lucy and Paul when they weren’t supposed to be there. Now they are nowhere close to completing the Circle of Twelve and suspicions are now arising as to who may be tipping off the time travellers’ every move. People think it was Gwen, even Gideon, and now in between getting the hang of time traveling and proving that she’s not a traitor, Gwen also has to figure out just what it is the people around her aren’t telling her when the Circle is completed. But nothing’s easy, and Gwen might have the power to go back in time, but can she figure things out before it’s too late?

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15. Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier **** – So Emerald Green is the third and final book of the series and I couldn’t stop freaking out when I got my hands on it. I’ve been a massive fan of this series for a while and to be able to finally finish it was so exhilarating yet to also be quite honest a tad disappointing. I don’t quite know what it is about this series I mean the writing is honestly nothing extremely special and the plot can do with a bit of tweaking but I guess it’s just the characters. I love Gwen as character so I really wanted to find out what happened to her and whether the circle ended up being closed.

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16. Not Long Ago by Susan Royal **** – The opening to Not Long ago was great we meet Erin who is desperately seeking work and is set up as an assistant for a rather eccentric author called March as she is to help him research his new book if she can stick it out. The opening “prologue” was very interesting and I couldn’t wait to see how it comes into play later on. After being offered the job March immediately put Erin to work helping him organize his notes and research material. While Erin is a little wary of March I had a feeling they were going to get along very well. After a few weeks of working with March he acquires a mysterious artefact and when he and Erin touch it they are transported to a mysterious place. The pair have somehow landed in the Middle Ages and now have to seek help from the Lord of the county; Lord John. Until they figure out how to return home Erin and March have no choice but to learn how to blend in with the primitive society. The old fashioned language used was a little bit of a struggle for me but once you get used to it you realize the novel is expertly well written.

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17. More happy than not by Adam Silvera *** – The opening to more happy than not was actually really sad for an opening chapter. We meet Aaron Soto whose home life is terrible; his father committed suicide, his mother is emotional withdrawn and he himself attempted suicide. We also learn about the Leteo Institute which can alter or remove unwanted memories. Despite having a messed up life Aaron does have a little happiness in his girlfriend Genevieve. One thing they have in common is they are both artistic but Aaron is quite poor and gets embarrassed when Genevieve has to pay for things. I also liked the way Silvera looks at ten relationships and virginity as it is very realistic. Seeing Aaron’s life with his friends and Genevieve is great although Genevieve will be leaving for an art camp which Aaron isn’t keen about but he doesn’t want to hold her back which is very sweet.

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18. Happy Habits by Vicki Morris ***** – While I don’t really read non-fiction I was fairly excited to pick this book up. The opening chapter to Happy Habits was great, Morris introduces us to what habits are and how are daily habits and routines affect our overall lives. She also tells us what happy habits are and why we need them. The opening chapter was great because her story about why she wrote the book was so personally while not being longwinded. I also really enjoyed the fact that each chapter has a short summary, so if you wish to revisit some methods you don’t have to read the entire book again. Two things Morris touches upon here that really stood out to me where the concept of energy and how it affects our own emotions and others around us. The second point is how we as human tend to focus more of the external than the internal and this is what prevents us from being happy with our lives.

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19. Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo **** – The opening to shadow and bone was great we first meet Alina and Mal as orphaned children being tested for Grisha abilities. The Grisha are like an elite race of human that have certain abilities. We then skip forward several years where Alina and Mal are both in the army preparing to enter the shadow fold created by a Grisha known as the Darkling and it hides monstrous creatures known and the Volcra. As they enter the fold they group are attacked by the creatures and Mal is injured when something strange happens to Alina. When Alina awakens after the attack she is summoned before the current Darkling as they suspect she was the one who repelled the Volcra. While both Alina and Mal try to deny this, she is tested and it turns out she is a Sun Summoner an extremely rare Grisha talent lies within her, it’s also a talent that the Darkling seems very interested in.

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20. The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis ***** – Having never read many graphic novels before I was really excited to receive the Motherless Oven. The first thing I noticed was the art style it is very gothic in nature with thick lines and grey wash giving it a very ominous and dark feel. We learn that in this universe parents don’t make children, the children makes the parents. The parents range from robotic to painting that are alive. Also in this world there are no birthdays only death days and our main character Scarper has only three weeks left until his death day when a new girl arrive at his school called Vera Pike. Vera kind of reminded me of Yuno Gasai from Future Diary as she looks like a nice girl but does some really strange things and she seems to have an alternative personality.

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21. Last Another Day by Baileigh Higgins ***** – The opening to Last another day was great we meet Morgan and hell breaks loose around her. Zombie try to attack her, tear apart her neighbours and there’s nothing she can do about. I like the fact we are dropping in the middle of the action from the beginning without having the ominous build-up to it. One thing I did notice early on is that there is seven different perspectives, this did have me a little worried because the novel I have read with more than 4 perspective then to lack character development because the author is spending too much time on other characters, so I was eager to see how Higgins would work with this many perspectives.

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22. The Sculptor by Scott McCloud ***** – The first thing I noticed about the Sculptor was it is quite long for a frantic novel at almost 500 pages. The premise is what intrigued me the most a young study makes a deal with Death and can create anything he wants but only has 200 days left to live. We meet David a down and out sculptor who has nothing left to lose, while he is drinking away his troubles and the last of his cash he bumps into his uncle Harry who has supposedly been dead for a while. Harry offers to grant his wish of being a famous sculptor once more in exchange for his life. David aliens most of the offering whether it was real or just a drunken hallucination but come sunrise it all makes sense and David now has 200 days before he does. Along the way he meets a girl called Meg who sort of becomes his muse.

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23. Kindred by Damian Duffy ***** – This graphic novel is an adapted novel so I was very excited to read it. We meet Dana and her husband as they move into their new home when Dana suddenly disappears. Dana appears by a river and helps save a drowning boy after giving him CPR she ends up having a rifle pointed at her when she suddenly reappears back home. It turns out that Dana travelled through time, when this happens for the second time she learns the boy she saved is called Rufus and he somehow called her into his time: 1815. Dana learns that Rufus and a young girl named Alice are her own ancestors, but this doesn’t explain why she is being thrown through time. The time Dana finds herself in is a very dangerous time for black people and she learns first-hand the cruelty of white people towards the blacks.

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24. Room for Love by Ilya ***** – Room for Love is a graphic novel that really intrigued me as it centres around love and how it can be found in the most unlikely of places. We meet Frank a young homeless man who will go to any lengths to survive even if it means warming someone else’s bed. We immediately feel sorry for Frank who is down and out, with his unkempt appearance and the desperate measure he is going to. We also meet Pamela a romance novelist, who is being threatened by her publisher unless she produces a new novel but being single and having to imagine and pretend has burnt her out. As the story bounces back and forth between them we learn a lot about both people. Frank is sleeping rough in London after hitching from Ireland while Pamela needs to find inspiration. I liked how when we change between Frank and Pamela’s perspective the colour scheme changes from brown to blue.

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25. Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence * – Dark, gritty and full of death. That’s pretty much sums up this book. From the first moment you read, you are thrust into a world of destruction and nothing seems to be fair game. Mark Lawrence’s first book Prince of Thorns is set in an alternate reality of our Earth. He references Plato and Sun Tzu but none of the countries he uses are of the same name. “Technology” is part of this book but it’s masked by using spirits/ghosts and alchemy to disguise it.

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26. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F C Yee ***** – The opening to Genie Lo was great we meet Genie a very high achiever at SF Prep school, on her way there she witnessed a mugging and although she tries to help she ends up running away. The boy being beaten up turns out to be a new student Quentin Sun. Quentin is very strange for one his language is almost archaic in style, he has no marks despite a heavy beating and he is drawn to Genie. His first words to her are “you belong to me”. Yee really knows how to set the stage. It doesn’t take us long to realise there is something not quite with Quentin, but Genie’s very headstrong personality for perfectly with Quentin’s. I also really liked Yunie who is Genie’s best friend as she is just as headstrong but in a slightly different way. Through a series of very strange coincidences Genie and Quentin are forced to work together and even though she still doesn’t like him Genie begins to think that Quentin isn’t so bad.

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