Wednesday, 30 December 2015

'Jekyll's Mirror' by William Hussey

*This review will contain spoilers!* 

With this review, I've officially completed my 2015 A-Z reading challenge! It's been difficult but I've enjoyed hunting for books that I might not otherwise have read, and 'Jekyll's Mirror' is one of those. 
Sam Stillhouse has been through a lot in his life. Suffering through life with his abusive father murdering his mother, he's now living with his aunt and uncle, struggling to control the Wrath that threatens to overtake him. He's tried counselling and it hasn't helped, but when he gets invited to take part in a new school project - Project Hyde - it finally gives him somewhere to focus his anger.
Project Hyde (based on - you guessed it - 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde') creates status updates and messages from a wide variety of fake characters, and the task of the participant is to reply to them as honestly as possible, no matter how venomously they act. Sam gets addicted to the software very quickly, spending every spare minute of his time online attacking the artificial intelligence, and it's only when Cassandra - a mysterious girl with flame red hair - shows up that Sam realises something is seriously wrong with the program.
Queue the first big reveal: the fact that the messages are from real people. It's not that surprising, because there are hints throughout the introduction of the Project, but apparently Sam isn't good at picking up on hints.
Other than this, there are two other reveals in this book: it turns out that Cassandra is actually Cassidy - her identical twin - and Sam still loves his father despite the fact that he killed his mother. Sam's emotional upheaval towards his father was expected and emotionally genuine, but the twist with Cassandra/Cassidy was completely unnecessary. It didn't add to the plot, it was just a convoluted mess. I read and reread the explanation of why she faked her identity and how Sam worked out what she was doing, but it still didn't make sense to me: I don't know if it was badly written, or because I'd just lost any attempt at caring.
Other than his issues, Sam isn't really much of a character. Because of his inner emotional turmoil a lot of what we know about him is introspective worrying and complaining, and it was hard to connect with him. When you're reading a book and you feel nothing towards the protagonist - neither positive or negative - it definitely makes for a flat read, and I think that's one of the reasons I enjoyed 'Jekyll's Mirror' so little.
I didn't appreciate the way that William Hussey wrote Cassandra, because it was verging on manic pixie dream girl territory, and that's never fun. She appears out of nowhere, knowing Sam's entire history, then starts beckoning him down alleyways and meeting up with him in the middle of the night... Then Sam refers to her as the mystical 'fire girl' every five minutes - purely due to her hair colour - and he tries to turn her into the damsel in distress at every possible opportunity. In her first few scenes with the Hydes (the transformed monsters caused by Project Hyde) she's very badass, knowing how to use a gun and deal with the situation, but within one scene she becomes a trembling wreck on the floor and nearly surrenders to the monster. It doesn't fit with her character, it's just a bad excuse to allow Sam to save the girl.
This book wasn't bad, it was just unbelievably average. The concept was interesting: cyber bullying leading to a physical transformation and unleashing the beast, but it was very preachy. In reality, cyber bullying doesn't transform you into a mass murdering monster, so it would have been more realistic if the Hydes hadn't been such all-powerful deformed versions of the kids. It might have had more of an effect, and been more terrifying as a consequence, if the Hydes had looked exactly the same as the regular children, but had been their honest and dark selves.
As it was, it seemed as though the message was more important than the storytelling, with the characters being mouthpieces for the author: it meant that at times the dialogue was horribly stilted and uncomfortable, and the events of the book were all just a bit too convenient and unbelievable. The big bad who organised Project Hyde only did it for a bit of fun, so there wasn't even an evil plot to foil - it wasn't a plot at all, just a bit of messing around for an immortal being who'd gotten bored with the world. This felt like a bit of a cop out, and I do wonder if the author thought it through completely before he started writing the story. The ending is very cliched and eye-roll worthy (Sam faces the truth within himself and conquers his demons, how after-school special of him!) and it put a bigger dampener on what had already been a disappointment - in a book filled with death and destruction, it feels like cheating when the two main characters get a happy ending flying off into the sunset.
I thought this was going to be a retelling of 'The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', so I was pleasantly surprised when it was a homage to great literature rather than a direct copy. Sadly, that was the only thing I ended up really enjoying. It was nice to see the book club discussions cropping up throughout, and the regular debates on the themes and meaning of the story, but they were the bright spots in an otherwise greyed out world.
I can see what William Hussey was trying to do, but I don't think he pulled it off as well as he could have. If you focus too much on the moral of the story, the story suffers: that was definitely something 'Jekyll's Mirror' struggled with. 

TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Top five books of the year

(Top Five Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey. Find out more at the Goodreads group!)

A couple of weeks ago, Top Ten Tuesday focused upon the ten best books read in 2015, but I had many, many more that I wanted to include, so I'm really grateful that this topic is so similar! I won't be including any of the ten books on that list, which you can view here, but these are five more books that definitely deserve a mention.

5) 'A Million Years In A Day' by Greg Jenner
I was attracted to this book because of its beautiful cover: I don't normally randomly acquire non-fiction, but as soon as I started this one I was hooked. Greg Jenner writes the history of humanity by following your daily routine: from waking up in the morning and discovering who created the toilet and how they evolved, through to getting ready for a party and deeply examining the evolution of clothing. If you have an inquisitive mind and a thirst for knowledge, read this one - every page is fascinating. 

4) 'Bad Feminist' by Roxane Gay
I have read a helluva lot of feminist books this year, but 'Bad Feminist' was one of the ones I loved the most. Roxane's voice is hilarious at the same time s being informative and thought-provoking, and her essays range from racism in the media to the competitiveness of Scrabble tournaments throughout America.

3) 'Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers'
I loved the film, so getting to read more of the adventures of Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Groot was a dream come true. I have some more volumes of this that I'm really looking forward to reading in the New Year - I'm hoping they'll be as good.

2) 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown
Okay, this is sort of, maybe, almost cheating, because it was a reread, but I finished my second read through of 'Red Rising' earlier this week and I still absolutely adore it. Darrow, Cassius, Mustang, Sevro, Roque... All of the characters are so easy to care for, despite their mixed backgrounds and sometimes awful actions, but I care for everyone in this world. I've finally started the sequel, 'Golden Son', so I'm just hoping it'll do them all justice throughout.

1) 'This Is Where It Ends' by Marieke Nijkamp
This is also kind of cheating, because I only started 'This Is Where It Ends' last night and I haven't finished it yet, but I flew through the first half of the book and I can't wait to finish it off. Dealing with the harrowing topic of a school shooting, and told in real time - each chapter being merely three or four minutes of time, told through multiple perspectives - it's one of the most emotionally realistic and fast-paced novels I've ever read. I'm hoping that the rest of it will continue on at this standard. 

I hope you enjoyed this Top Five Wednesday! By looking back at all of the books I've read this year, I've discovered that 2015 has been my most diverse reading year ever: I've just picked up anything and everything! What was the best book you read in 2015? 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten most anticipated releases January-June

(Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish!)

It's only been a few weeks since I collected together my ten most anticipated debuts on 2016, so I'm not going to be including any of them in this list - if you'd like to check those out, you can view them here.
I've mentioned most of these books before, because I'm really excited about them - they'll definitely be worth getting hold of!

10) 'The Last Star' by Rick Yancey
I'm not up to date on The Fifth Wave series yet, but I'm looking forward to the third book releasing because it'll certainly give me the kick up the bum I need to finish it. I'm worried about receiving spoilers though, so expect me to become a hermit until I finish it...
'The Last Star' is released May 24th.

9) 'Summerlost' by Ally Condie
Tell me that isn't one of the most adorable covers you've ever seen? I still haven't read an Ally Condie book, but I genuinely think 'Summerlost' could change that - it's based around the Summerlost theatre festival, which is certainly something unique.
'Summerlost' is published on March 29th.

8) 'A Tyranny of Petticoats' edited by Jessica Spotswood
We all know how I feel about short stories. We all know how I feel about kickass female characters. Put the two together, add in Jessica Spotswood as editor of a selection of historical fantasy by a variety of authors? Drool!
'A Tyranny of Petticoats' is released March 8th.

7) 'This Savage Song' by Victoria Schwab
This book only just fits in to this anticipated releases list, as it comes out at the start of June. I'm counting down the days to it finally coming out though, because I adored Victoria Schwab's writing and anything that has romance, adventure and monsters is bound to appeal to me.
'This Savage Song' is released June 7th. 

6) 'The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl' by Melissa Keil
When a synopsis includes the sentence "The world might be ending - which is proving awkward" I know it's the kind of book for me. I love novels based around the end of the world, and awkward is my middle name (okay, actually my middle names are Eva Mary, but I could legally change it...) so this is definitely a book I'm going to love. 
'The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl' is released on February 11th. 

5) 'Firsts' by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
'Firsts' is a YA debut, and I discovered it through other bloggers on their most anticipated debuts lists. It's quickly become a release that I'm excited about: the protagonist sounds flawed, and it deals with themes of infidelity and promiscuity, so there's going to be a lot going on that will interest and possibly infuriate me. Either way, I'm looking forward to reading this one.
'Firsts' is released January 5th.

4) 'When We Collided' by Emery Lord
Not just because of the gorgeous cover, but because it sounds like a brilliant contemporary. I haven't read any of Emery Lord's novels so far, but I'm hoping to change that when this one releases. 
'When We Collided' is released April 5th.

3) 'A Court of Mist and Fury' by Sarah J Maas
I'm not sure how excited I am about 'A Court of Mist and Fury', because I loved 'A Court of Thorns and Roses' a lot and I don't know what is going to happen in the sequel. I'm sure it's going to cause me emotional problems, though...
'A Court of Mist and Fury' is released May 3rd.

2) 'Lady Midnight' by Cassandra Clare
The first book in The Dark Artifices series finally publishes at the beginning of March, and I'm so excited. I still haven't finished The Mortal Instruments, or read The Infernal Devices, so hopefully the release of this one will push me back into a Cassandra Clare mood. 
'Lady Midnight' is released March 8th. 

1) 'Morning Star' by Pierce Brown
Did you even think there was another option for the book that was going to top this list?! I haven't stopped going on about 'Red Rising' since I first read it a year ago, and now I'm finally reading 'Golden Son' - I am gagging to finally hold the third installment in my hands. I've already ordered it, so as soon as it gets here I'm going to be flying through it.
'Morning Star' finally comes out February 9th.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday! Are there any books that you're excited for that I haven't mentioned?

Sunday, 27 December 2015

#ReadRedRising (feelings and fancast)

Throughout the month of December, I've been taking part in a readalong in conjunction with Hodderscape: #ReadRedRising. It involved, you guessed it, reading (or in my case, rereading) 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown, ready to move on and read the second book in the series, 'Golden Son', in January. 
If you'd like to join in with #ReadRedRising, it is not too late! Just Tweet using the hashtag and join the conversation - 'Morning Star', the third book in the series, is not out until the middle of February, so you have time to catch up! 

I'm going to keep the ending as spoiler free as I can (if you want to read my full spoiler review, you can view that here) as we're still on week four and I'm aware not everyone will have finished, but the earlier parts are fair game!
At its simplest, 'Red Rising' is a book about rebellion. Darrow is a Red, part of the lowest cast of a society ruled by Golds. He's chosen to be the leader of a rebellion, in which he gets Carved into a Gold: his Red sigils get removed from his skin and replaced, his eyes get switched with those of a deceased Gold, and his entire being is recrafted and put through harrowing rehabilitation and training to get used to the changes. Darrow is then inserted into the Institute - the school that Golds attend to help them become all powerful leaders in their future - in an attempt to infiltrate the system and become an apprentice to either the Augustus or the Bellona families, the most powerful families on Mars.
Oh, yeah, did I mention this book was set on Mars? Do I even need to continue, or has that sold you well enough?
At the Institute, Darrow learns the hard way what it means to be a Gold. The first challenge is the Passage, in which you're pitted against one of your fellow Golds in a fight to the death: survival of the fittest. Following the Passage, the survivors must participate in  a war scenario, in which they need to take control of as many of the opposing clans as they can. The winning house will automatically receive more prospects in their future, while the Primus - the head - of the house will be guaranteed a placement with one of the most powerful families that exist. Darrow knows that he needs to be Primus of House Mars, and he knows that House Mars need to win the challenge; he'll go to any lengths to achieve that end.
What follows is a terrifying rollercoaster of emotions, in which caring for characters is dangerous and will likely result in heartbreak and you'll definitely hate yourself for reading the book. But Pierce Brown is a brilliant writer, and all of the bloodshed and violence that is portrayed is necessary to the plot - there are no throwaway character deaths for shock value in this novel.
Even if you don't like sci-fi, it's close enough to dystopian - the corrupt government, the fight against them - that I'm sure you'll be able to enjoy it anyway. In fact, this time last year I hardly read sci-fi, but 'Red Rising' really started my appreciation for the genre: it's a highly accessible title.

Now, the really exciting thing about 'Red Rising'? It's actually in the process of being made into a film. So I decided that as well as writing a short review to tickle your tastebuds, I'd make a fancast of who I think should play who in the movie: it definitely won't be a film that you want to miss.

Alexia Fast as Eo:
I hadn't heard of Alexia Fast until I started doing this fancast, but as soon as I saw her I knew she'd be perfect as Eo. Eo's optimistic, young and beautiful, which makes her early death in the novel so surprising: I think Alexia would portray her brilliantly.  

Jamie Campbell Bower as Priam:
Priam isn't a character that's in 'Red Rising' for long, but he's important anyway, so it felt appropriate to cast him. I think Jamie Campbell Bower would play him well, because he'd make an impression and you'd genuinely be shocked when he didn't appear for longer in the film.

Luke Mitchell as Julian:
Darrow makes fast friends with Julian, which makes it more difficult when he's pitted against him in the Passage. Luke Mitchell looks like the kind of guy that you'd love to be friends with, but I'm sure he could also portray the angst and desperation that Julian struggles with. 

Beau Mirchoff as Cassius:
There's something about Beau's look in this image that screams Cassius at me. Imagining him blond, with a smug grin on his face and a razor in his hand: I can't picture anyone else playing the character that strongly. He also has a bit of a resemblance to Luke Mitchell, so he would play his brother well. 

Blake Lively as Quinn:
I don't know if Blake Lively would be too old to play Quinn, but when they talk about how beautiful she is and how Cassius can't take his eyes off of her, I think you'd need someone with Blake's looks. 

Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Sevro:
Sevro is wild and smaller than all of the other boys, but he has a strength that beats them all. I think Thomas Brodie-Sangster could perfectly embody that character, with his wolf skin and his crazy howling. 

Chord Overstreet as Roque:
I think it would be good to see Chord acting in a more serious role than Glee, and 'Red Rising' could be the perfect place to explore that. He has that brooding, introspective look perfect for a poet. 

Teresa Palmer as Lea:
Lea follows Roque around like a puppy dog for the first half of the novel, but she quickly comes into her own. 

Greg Finley as Pax:
Pax au Telemanus is a tank, and while Greg was an absolute sweetheart in 'Star-Crossed' (well, by the end at least) he definitely looks the most likely to be able to play Pax convincingly due to his build. If Greg doesn't play Pax, he could quite easily play Titus. 

Zendaya as Antonia:
Or, more specifically, Zendaya as Cut Throat as Antonia. Antonia is a badass, a backstabber and an all around awful woman: Cut Throat looks like she'd be just as terrifying.

Ashley Benson as Mustang:
Not just because I absolutely adore Ashley Benson, but because Mustang is caring and often underestimated due to her looks, so I think Ashley's baby face would work well for that role. She also kills it as Hanna Marin in Pretty Little Liars, so I'm sure she'd be able to cope with the role.

Jack Gleeson as Jackal:
After seeing him portraying Joffrey Baratheon, any evil horrific characters are always played by Jack Gleeson in my mind. The Jackal is completely unhinged.

I couldn't actually cast Darrow. I know that's a complete cop out, but I kind of want Alex Pettyfer to play him and he's too old now - I think it would be brilliant to get a unknown actor to portray the part.

I hope you enjoyed my fancast, and participating in #ReadRedRising. Comment below if you can think of any characters I've missed that you could cast, or if you think you could choose someone to play Darrow!
If you haven't been participating in #ReadRedRising, don't forget to start: you can pick it up for just £5.99 on your Kindle device. If you have been, don't forget to start #ReadGoldenSon tomorrow - I can't wait to finally move on to the second installment of the series, because I've been waiting all year. 

Saturday, 26 December 2015

'X Isle' by Steve Augarde

*This review will contain spoilers!* 

I'm going to be completely honest with you: the only reason I read 'X Isle' was because I'd been participating in a A-Z reading challenge and it's the end of December and I'd totally missed X. 
When I eventually found this title, I was quite excited about it. It's the end of the world as we know it, due to the planet being inundating with horrific storms that have completely covered most of central America, and therefore most of the planet. There's only one area that is completely safe: X Isle. Overseen by the Ecks brothers and their father, Preacher John, the family assist the families in the nearby area with their trading service, and they take young boys to the safety and comfort of the island. Baz, our protagonist, is desperate to buy passage on to X Isle to be less of a burden on his father, so it's hardly surprising when he's chosen by the brothers and his journey begins. 
With all of the awful storms occurring across the UK at the moment, it felt strangely premonitory and the concept did send a shiver down my spine - I thought that it would probably be harrowing and difficult to experience, emotionally charged and completely absorbing.
Alas, this is not the book that I read. 
I should have known at the beginning of the novel, when Baz left his father without a second glance, that this would not be the novel that I'd hoped for. Baz is uncaring about leaving his childhood home, not thinking twice about the fact that he's off to a better life and is leaving his father behind in a drowned city. 
I should have known when I picked the damned thing up and it was nearly 500 pages, in all honesty. Some long books can be brilliant, but on the whole the length is unnecessary and they get completely on my nerves. This was one of those. 
Baz gets to X Isle, with fellow passenger Ray, who also managed to buy his way on to the boat. They instantly get into a ruckus with the capos, Hutchinson and Steiner, who oversee all of their chores and activities on the island. X Isle isn't an easy haven to survive in: it's a place where you become a slave to the Ecks, and you follow every order to the letter for a measly tin of tomatoes at the end of a long hard day. 
There's seven other boys on the island, and in all honesty most of them are completely disposable characters. There's Enoch, Robbie and Dyson, who don't do a thing for the entire novel. There's Amit and Jubo: the token Asian and black characters, and neither of them get much expansion from that (apart from Jubo having the most stereotypical uneducated style of speaking I've ever had the displeasure of reading). There's Gene, the genius, who keeps himself to himself and avoids the hard work by tinkering away for the capos. And finally there's Taps, a sweet little guy who suffers from OCD and is severely undersized for the work that he's been forced to participate in. 
In fact, Taps is the only character with any developmental promise, which is why it was a massive shame that he was the first character to get killed off. It seemed like another attempt at diversity, including a character with a mental disorder, but it was a cop out that he was only just starting to become a focal point when his OCD got the better of him and he walked off of the end of the jetty. 
Then... Not much happens. There's a lot of repetitive scenes of working, a lot of complaining and general grumbling, and a lot of abuse from the capos. Ray has the brilliant idea of making a bomb and blowing their way off of the island, so the boys decide to do this by collecting the methane in their farts: cue juvenile fart jokes, general disgusting behaviour and idiocy. This continues for four hundred pages, then - despite the unbelievable length of the book - the ending is still rushed. You wouldn't think it would be possible, but it is. Two girls show up on the island, and Baz is certain that Preacher John is going to sacrifice them (the reason that he invited them to stay on the island is never specified) so the bomb plot gets put into action very quickly - they hide it under the deck of the salvage boat so that the engine will set it off. Baz is forced to man the boat on the day of the bomb plot, but he's in the water three meters away from the boat when it explodes, so of course the debris and the explosion don't kill him. Then he miraculously works out how to man the dinghy that was attached to the exploded boat and survived without a scratch, and he finds his way back to X Isle by following mackerel. Then the book is over, happy ending, extremely believable. (Can you taste the sarcasm?)
Other than the fact that this book is farfetched, told completely through coincidences and convenient events, and nothing really happens - I have a lot of problems with this book. Preacher John, the leader of X Isle, is portrayed as absolutely insane because he prays to God for Him to clear the waters and the storms that have been plaguing the country - then he becomes a caricature of himself and starts sacrificing live animals and his son to God. I'm not religious, but I still think such a severely biased portrayal against something that genuinely comforts some people is inappropriate. One of the girls on the island mentions that she prays "sometimes", as though it's something to be ashamed of - it's just annoying.
More annoying than this is the misogynistic attitude towards girls and women throughout the entire book. X Isle is an island solely for men: run by men, with the men collecting young boys to help them out. No girls allowed. The only women permitted on to the island are prostitutes, and then when Nadine and Steffie turn up later they're mistreated and exiled due to their gender. It's disgusting.
In my opinion, the most disgusting and unnecessary cop out of the entire novel is Ray. Throughout the book there are moments between Ray and Baz that are bordering on intimate: holding hands, helping each other out and hugging each other regularly. The other boys mock Baz for being a "Gay Boy", and Baz is conflicted about his emotions because "he liked girls - had always liked girls". Of course, it's less believable that Baz could possibly be gay, and completely believable that Ray was actually Rachel all along - a girl pretending to be a boy to get access to X Isle. 
It's not even properly resolved, because of all of the rushing: we just get Baz deciding he wants to learn how to fish and that he doesn't care what the rest of the boys (and girls) do with their new found freedom.
I've seen some reviews saying that this book is aimed at teenage boys, but I genuinely don't feel as though it's a teenage book: the writing style is so simplistic that it feels as though it would work well for younger children. It's very basic and very immature. The fart fights will definitely appeal to young boys, but I think there are many many better books for them to be spending their time exploring and enjoying. 
If you want to read a disappointing, overly long book, pick this one up! If you need to read a book beginning with X for an A-Z challenge, read this one! But if you're looking for a dystopian novel with depth, brilliant characterisation and convincing emotions, pass this one over. 

Friday, 25 December 2015

FRIDAY PLAYLIST: Have yourself a very pop punk Christmas

The best thing about Christmas is Christmas music.
The best thing about music is pop punk.
So, here's a playlist of the best goddamn Christmassy rock songs that your ears will ever enjoy. Rock on, amigos, and have a very merry Christmas.

10) 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' by My Chemical Romance

The heaviest of the songs on this playlist, and the most unexpected. 

9) 'Last Christmas' by We The Kings/Metro Station/The Maine

Okay, okay, this is totally cheating, because it's extra songs... But I love all of these versions of 'Last Christmas' so I couldn't choose between them. Shoot me. 

8) 'White Christmas' by Panic! At The Disco

You might know Panic! At The Disco as the Halloween band, but they also branched out into Christmas music for a brief period. 

7) 'Yule Shoot Your Eye Out' by Fall Out Boy

My best friend introduced me to this song last Christmas, and I couldn't believe I'd never heard it before. It's a work of art. 

6) 'Merry Christmas (Wherever You Are)' by Lower Than Atlantis
This is such an underrated song, but it's brilliant.

5) 'Old Mexico' by The Summer Set
Slowing things down a little bit, this song is absolutely gorgeous.

4) 'Happy Holidays, You Bastard' by Blink 182

3) 'Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass' by All Time Low
Sassy Christmas songs.

2) 'Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)' by The Darkness
The epitome of pop punk Christmas.

1) 'Secret Santa' by Kids In Glass Houses

Find me a better Christmas song than this one. Oh wait, you can't. 

So that was your twelve song Christmas playlist, for the twelve days of Christmas! I have many, many more holiday songs that I could recommend to you... But we'll save those for next year.
I hope your holiday is merry and bright and you get everything that you want (well, not everything, that would be awful!) - cherish your family, your friends and your loved ones. 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Series I'm reading next year

(Top Five Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey. Find out more at the Goodreads group!)

This is an extremely apt Top Five Wednesday for me, because I'm challenging myself to read an entire series every month of next year.
Yep, that's an entire twelve series.
I've never been good at finishing series - I procrastinate, I dawdle, I dread the final book being published and I completely avoid it for years... For so long, in fact, that my anticipation level and my excitement goes way, way down.
But I am going to stop that in 2016. So instead of this being a Top Five Wednesday, this is going to be my plan for my year of series.

January) The 'Red Rising' trilogy by Pierce Brown
This is technically cheating, because I'm actually participating in the #ReadRedRising challenge that Hodderscape have set up. I'm on part four of the first novel for my re-read, which means I'm going to be - finally, oh sweet finally - starting 'Golden Son' next week. That will take me through the first three weeks of January, but then the third book, 'Morning Star', doesn't publish until the 11th of February. I'm still going to read it as soon as it publishes, though.
January will also be the month for me to finish all of the series that I'm part the way through, ready for a clean slate: namely the Grisha trilogy, the final book of the 'Splintered' series by A. G. Howard, 'Sisters' Fate' by Jessica Spotswood and 'The Retribution of Mara Dyer' by Michelle Hodkin.

February) The 'Anna and the French Kiss' companion novels by Stephanie Perkins (+ The Raven Cycle?)
I first read 'Anna and the French Kiss' last November, and I loved it. I got given 'Lola and the Boy Next Door' and 'Isla and the Happily Ever After' for my birthday, so it feels right to finally read them in February, the month of Valentine's Day and unavoidable soppiness.
Because these are likely to be quick reads (I read the first one in about five hours, and I cried for at least one of those five...) I'm also going to reattempt The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, as the fourth and final book, 'The Raven King', comes out at the end of February.

March) The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green
'Half Lost', the final book in Sally Green's Half Life trilogy, publishes at the end of March, so that gives me time to re-read 'Half Bad' and finally move on to 'Half Wild', which I bought on its release day this year and procrastinated through. 

April) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Yeah, I know, I haven't read the biggest series in the world. I know, I'm a disappointment. But that will be changing in April! April is a very busy month for me, with my birthday (finally 20!) and a lot of concerts (check back for my concert schedule before the New Year to know what reviews to expect) so I thought I'd go for a shorter series that everyone has told me is a very quick read. 

May) The 5th Wave trilogy by Rick Yancey
I read 'The 5th Wave' last year, absolutely adored it, but then heard terrible reviews about the second novel and decided to hold off. 'The Last Star', the final book of the trilogy, publishes in May, so I'm finally going to force myself through 'The Infinite Sea' - bad reviews be damned!

June) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
I really am disappointing all of you, aren't I? I started reading 'The Lord of the Rings' many, many moons ago... Then I got half way through and stopped. I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy them - I have more patience with reading now, and a respect for the fantasy genre. 

July) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
My wonderful friend gave me 'Winter' last week - early Christmas present - so I have the complete series: it feels like it's about time that I gave it a try.

August) The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Reading these in August, as they're my best friend's favourite books and it's the month of her birthday. If I don't enjoy these, she isn't getting a birthday present.

September) Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
I've decided to read the Harry Potter series in September, because it's the month that all the children go back to school and I feel as though it's appropriate timing. There are a lot of books, so I've also made it coincide with the quietest month I have (or, at least, it's been the quietest for the last two years... So fingers crossed).

October) Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
I've heard nothing but good things about this trilogy, and with the release of 'Library of Souls' occurring last month it's finally complete so I can finally enjoy it. However, I want to read these in a month of terror and torment, so I have a logical excuse for being terrified by creepy children - waiting until Halloween is non-negotiable.

November) The Tomorrow series by John Marsden
I read the first novel in the series, 'Tomorrow, When The War Began', last summer, bought all of the books and got too scared to continue. There were a lot of people in precarious situations, lots of tension and danger, and I am a scaredy-cat when it comes to characters dying (making my December choice even more hilarious). I'm finally going to sit down and finish these in November.

December) A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
I'm only leaving this series until last - the very final month - because then I won't feel like a failure if I don't get through them. Come on, this is going to take me way longer than a month, so I can't expect to succeed at reading all five so far. 
I was trying not to include unfinished series in this challenge, but who knows when 'The Winds of Winter' will be released? It could be a surprise release in the middle of summer, so maybe it could be realistic to attempt to finish them all in December... Well, if I want to die from eye strain and character overload. 

See, the thing is, now I've committed to this (by putting it on the internet, for all of your lovely little faces to gawk at and judge) I'm feeling a lot more optimistic about it. Reading three or four books a month? No big deal! I'll even have time to read other books. I might have time to squeeze more entire series into this year. There are so many ('Matched' by Ally Condie, The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black, 'Delirium' by Lauren Oliver) that I was considering but just didn't make the cut - I might try to tear through those as well.
Fingers crossed this plan will actually work, and I will finally learn how to commit to series! 

I hope you enjoyed this Top Five Wednesday. Have a lovely Christmas (if you celebrate it, if not have a lovely Friday!) and wish me luck for the New Year.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten books I want Santa to leave under my tree

(Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish!)

10) 'She-Hulk'
Because strong women are the best kind of characters. 

9) The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
These are only so low down because the examples of Laini's writing that I've read so far - a couple of short stories, including the 'Lips Touch: Three Times' collection - just didn't impress me too much. I want to love this series, but I'm not sure if I will...

8) 'The Walled City' by Ryan Graudin
It sounds so menacing and terrifying, and I love scary books. 

7) 'The Wrath and the Dawn' by Renee Ahdieh
I've heard lots and lots of people saying how brilliant 'The Wrath and The Dawn' is, but I still have no idea what it's about. The cover is super beautiful, though. 

6) The Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin
It comes in a pretty box now - I NEED IT. 

5) 'Captain Marvel'
Just look how damned badass she is!

4) 'Snow Like Ashes' by Sara Raasch
I asked for this last year, but it hadn't published in the UK - I now have all of my little fingers and toes crossed for getting this one. 

3) 'Carry On' by Rainbow Rowell

2) 'Binge' by Tyler Oakley
Or, yknow, just enough sweets to cover my entire face. I'm going to be reading 'Binge' in the New Year whether I get it for Christmas or not, because I've ordered it from the library, but it's a very popular title so there are so many reservations on it... Heartbreak. I'm not a fan of Tyler Oakley, but I've heard brilliant things about the LGBT side of his essays.

1) 'Morning Star' by Pierce Brown
Breathe, Alyce, breathe.
But I want this book more than I want life. I'm going to be starting 'Golden Son' within a few days, and it always makes me so unbelievably supremely awfully anxious when I start the second book in a trilogy when the third one hasn't released yet. What if there's a terribly awful fire, and every copy of 'Morning Star' in the world gets destroyed? Or what if the world ends before I can read it?! These are genuine concerns, people. 

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday. What books are you hoping to receive this year?
And from all us here at Everything Alyce - okay, just from me - HAPPY HOLIDAYS! <3