Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House

It’s October and that means creepy books. And what better way to deprive myself of some sleep than picking up a Shirley Jackson book? Horror movies don’t do much for me anymore, even the ones that try to avoid all the old tropes. But books? Put a well-written scary book in my hands and I’ll jump at every shadow in my bedroom and suspect the fridge noises of being a monster intruder, trying to eat my soul or something. This was scary, okay. I actually got really scared at night. I’ll tell you the embarrassing details below.

haunting of hill houseTHE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE
by Shirley Jackson

Published by: Penguin Classics 2013 (1959),
Ebook: 246 pages
My rating: 8/10

First sentence: No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.


Ah, Shirley Jackson! After watching all the horror movies out there, and expecting every jump scare, every evil horror twist, there are still things that make me scared enough to keep me from sleeping. The Haunting of Hill House has all the trappings of a haunted house story, fully furnished with strange noises in the night, writing on the wall, cold spots, and doors that seem to close themselves. But in Shirley Jackson’s hands the haunted house truly comes to life and shows us many more layers of horror than we expected.

Dr. Montague wishes to examine Hill House for supernatural activities. He invites, for that purpose, three other people. Luke, the future heir of Hill House, Theodora, a quirky, self-absorbed young woman, and Eleanor, shy and mysterious and with no confidence in herself. Throwing these four in an old creepy house together was a stroke of genius. The focus is definitely on the two women, with Eleanor being sort of the protagonist. I found the relationship between her and Theo both fascinating and terrifying. What starts as an instantaneous BFF vibe, with Theo declaring that they must be sisters because they get along so well, turns slowly into a darker thing. Friendship turns into admiration, which turns to jealousy, envy, disgust even. What made it so fascinating was that all these emotions were completely relatable in the beginning. It only gets strange when you realise you can’t be sure what’s true and what isn’t.

There is no first person narrator, so we’re not in any one person’s mind. But Eleanor is definitely the character we follow most closely. She is scared of Hill House from the get go, and for good reason. I shouldn’t have been as creeped out as I was. After all, this is your average, things-that-go-bump haunted house. But for some reason, I always managed to read the pleasant, daylight chapters during the day. At night, before bed, when I had some time to really get into the book, it was always night in the story as well. And we all know that’s when shit goes down. And shit did go down. A strange knocking on a door wouldn’t even merit an eye roll in a horror movie, but when you’re reading about it, and about the characters’ reactions, there’s no way to skip. You can’t close your eyes because when you open them again, you’re still at the same scary spot – you have to work through it.

I managed to read only scary bits three nights in a row – the last night I woke up my partner and made him hold my hand because I was convinced the shadows in our bedroom were moving strangely… yeah I know. But a book that can do that to me, a grown woman who absolutely does not believe in monsters under the bed or ghosts or whatever, that must be a great book. It really, really got to me. The descriptions of the scary parts were amazing, but what made it even better (or worse) was the psychological layer.

Without spoiling, something isn’t quite right with the characters. It might be the house, it might be insanity, it may be an unreliable narrator… I don’t know. The not knowing but constant suspecting, guessing, and trying to reason made this even more compelling. While Luke and Dr. Montague remained pale background characters, Theo and Eleanor are a riddle, each on her own and as a pair. Their behavior, especially in light of the mysterious events, is erratic at times and really bitchy at others. Eleanor’s past is another thing of interest. We don’t learn too much about it, but my imagination filled in the blanks with all sorts of horrors. Seriously, this is one of those cases where an active imagination is not your friend…

Despite the lack of sleep I am really glad I read this book. Shirley Jackson is a master storyteller! I don’t even mind her ambiguous, open-ish endings because with this book it’s the journey that counts.  You don’t work your way to a great reveal or twist, it’s about enjoying every page along the way. And although this book messed with my mind, I did enjoy the experience. If you’re looking for a good read for Halloween, pick this one up.

MY RATING: 8/10 – Excellent







C. S. E. Cooney – Bone Swans

I knew well before picking this up that I would love this book. Its description and marketing pushed so many of my buttons that there was no way around it. Fairytale retellings, beautiful language, a Kay Nielsen cover… turns out, it’s easy to bait me if you’ve got the right buzz words. It’s also easy to turn me into a fan if you write like Cooney. May the gushing begin.

bone swans

by C.S.E. Cooney

Published by: Mythic Delirium Books, 2015
Paperback: 224 pages
Story collection
My rating: 9/10

First sentence: That was the day the sky went dark.

A swan princess hunted for her bones, a broken musician and his silver pipe, and a rat named Maurice bring justice to a town under fell enchantment. A gang of courageous kids confronts both a plague-destroyed world and an afterlife infested with clowns but robbed of laughter. In an island city, the murder of a child unites two lovers, but vengeance will part them. Only human sacrifice will save a city trapped in ice and darkness. Gold spun out of straw has a price, but not the one you expect.

World Fantasy Award winner Ellen Kushner has called Cooney’s writing “stunningly delicious! Cruel, beautiful and irresistible.” BONE SWANS, the infernally whimsical debut collection from C. S. E. Cooney, gathers five novellas that in the words of Andre Norton Award winner Delia Sherman are “bawdy, horrific, comic, and moving-frequently all at the same time.” Cooney’s mentor, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Gene Wolfe, proclaims in his introduction that her style is so original it can only be described as “pure Cooney,” and he offers readers a challenge: “Try to define that when you’ve finished the stories in this book.”


Since this collection of novellas has absolutely blown my mind, I will have to say a little bit about each of the stories featured. The one thing they have in common is Cooney’s lyrical language, although her tone shifts effortlessly from snarky first-person narration to sinister third person post-apocalyptic tones. Her prose isn’t flowery but there is an underlying poetry to every story. And although I preferred some stories over the rest (as with any collection), I enjoyed every single one of them, their diversity, their originality, and the way they were told.

Life on the Sun

This first story was my least favorite of this collection. That doesn’t mean I disliked it, just that what came after blew me away so much that a few flying carpets, a prophecy, and the fantastic world-building of “Life on the Sun” paled in comparison. This story started strange, took a twist that made me believe I knew where it was going, and then twisted again to take me by surprise. I loved how the readers don’t know very much of what’s going on – there is a war and a prophecy and did I mention flying carpets? It’s a great tale, well-rounded with a satisfying ending. But I enjoyed this in a more distant way, if that makes sense.

The Bone Swans of Amandale

Now here’s where it gets going. A mash-up retelling of “The Juniper Tree”, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”, and “The Swan Maiden”, this story shines not only because it utilises several fairy tales and makes something quite new out of them, but also because of the voice. Maurice, a rat who can change his shape, narrates a tale of blood rites and evil mayors and a broken piper. To tell you anything about the plot (other than its fairy tale inspirations) would be telling too much. But Maurice’s voice made for a delightful read, especially when faced with truly horrible things. Dark stuff happens in this story but Maurice, being a rat, and one in love/lust with Dora Rose (a swan princess) at that, manages to keep you smiling through it all. Whenever things may look bad, he makes an obscene comment that will make you chuckle. Another thing that surprised me was how well-drawn all the characters were, even ones that don’t say very much. The piper, who is a bit of a mystery, grew dear to me, and even Dora Rose, in all her aloofness (swans just are that way), became more and more likable. I loved everything about this story and would gladly have read a novel-length version of it.

Martyr’s Gem

Here’s another story that blew my mind. A complete departure from the familiar fairy tale style of “Bone Swans”, this is a tale of revenge, murder, family, and story telling. Shursta is chosen to marry Hyrryai, the beautiful daughter of the most powerful family on their island. Shursta, not being special in any way, soon finds out why he of all people was chosen as he learns Hyrryai’s secret.
This story – which is much shorter than “The Bone Swans of Amandale” packs so much world-building and character development that I could write a whole novel about it. The world-building creeps up on you as you are fed bits and pieces of mythology throughout the story. I loved discovering little snippets of history and lore without any info dumps. It simply came up naturally in the story.
The characters were breathtaking! Shursta is a wonderful protagonist, but it was his sister Sharrar who stole my (and everybody else’s) heart. A natural story teller, she manages to enthrall a room with her voice and there is one lovely scene in this story where she does just that. Reading it felt like being there.
But most touching about this story was probably the way it portrays a chosen family. Shursta and Sharrar are siblings and very close, but they bond with others and create a whole new, bigger family that feels so natural and right that it almost hurt. Again, no spoilers about the plot, but the ending – again – was spot on.

How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain With the Crooked One

This was my favorite story of the bunch! Told by Gordie, a milkmaid who really enjoys being a milkmaid and taking care of her cow and bull, it is the tale of how her drunken father’s boast gets her into a lot of trouble. He may well say she can spin straw into gold but Gordie, not a drop of magical blood in her, certainly has no idea how to accomplish that feat. And we are right in the middle of a Rumplestiltskin retelling, the likes of which I have never read!
Drawing on mythology as much as the fairy tale, Cooney introduces Fey characters to help our practical heroine along the way. An ugly, crooked little man magics that straw into gold in exchange for the few trinkets of value Gordie possesses. But much more is going on. The kingdom is at war, both with the Fey lands and with itself. And apart from doing the straw-into-gold-trick, Gordie has to figure out an ancient secret.
Again, it was the combination of great storytelling and brilliant voice that made me love this so much. Gordie is absolutely lovable. She curses people, she rhymes by accident, she shows kindness where few others would… and mixed into the best version of Rumplestiltskin ever is even a beautiful romance. I had to take a break from the collection after this because the story gave me a major hangover. My heart!

The Big Bah-Ha

A very strange tale that reads more like horror than fantasy, this takes place in a world where a mysterious plague, the slap-rash, has killed all adults and will take children as soon as they grow too old. In this bleak place, gangs of children fight for survival. Except Beatrice, who has just woken up dead in The Big Bah-Ha, a sort of afterlife that is supposed to make you laugh. It’s a true nightmare, if you ask me, filled with clowns and circus attractions, but twisted and sad and horrifying, all of them. While Beatrice navigates this weird world, her gang seeks help from the mysterious Flabberghast (that is SUCH a cool name for a character, I just can’t get over it!).  Adventure ensues and each character can show their talents, but the Flabberghast totally steals everyone’s show.
Putting this story after “How the Milkmaid…” makes it hard for me to rate it fairly. It took me a bit longer to get into “The Big Bah-Ha”, simply because I didn’t want to let go of Gordie just yet, but once I found my footing – much like Beatrice – I was all in for this sinister, weird story about a strange sort of afterlife.

If I had to rank all the novellas/novelettes in this collection, my list would look like this:

  1. How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain With the Crooked One
  2. The Bone Swans of Amandale
  3. Martyr’s Gem
  4. The Big Bah-Ha
  5. Life on the Sun

But it must be said, that even my least favorite story was still a great read. I cannot wait to discover more of Cooney’s writing. You can always tell when writers are also poets – there is just a particular kind of melody to their prose and every word feels carefully chosen to fulfill its purpose, but to also sound beautiful. I am completely blown away by the author’s talent and imagination. In about 40 pages per story, she manages to draw up entire worlds, filled with real people, histories, mythologies, and stories. Cooney goes on a shelf with my Cat Valente and Angela Slatter books – that should tell you just how much I have fallen in love with her writing.

MY RATING: 9/10 – Close to Perfection!


To get you all hooked as well, here’s where you can read the stories (or excerpts thereof) for free online:







Sabaa Tahir – An Ember in the Ashes

Ah what the hell, I’m only a year late. Actually, I tried to read this book during my last holiday (during June 2015) where the temperature – if not the tropical climate – would have been wonderfully fitting. But, as things go, I put the book away after a few chapters because I just wasn’t in the mood. Now that I read it, however, I have no idea how I managed to find a spot – ANY spot – in this book where I would put it down. It is one of the most page-turny books I’ve read this year.

an-ember-in-the-ashesAN EMBER IN THE ASHES
by Sabaa Tahir

Published by: Razorbill, 2015
Ebook: 453 pages
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
My rating: 8/10

First sentence: My big brother reaches home in the dark hours before dawn, when even ghosts take their rest.

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


Oh my glob, this was SO EXCITING. Like, good for raising your blood pressure exciting. But also keeping you up way past your bedtime and then showing up to work like a corpse the next day exciting. But I swear, every night spent reading this rather than getting some much-needed sleep was totally worth it. So if you pick this up, be warned what the effects will be. Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the bones of it.

The beginning of the book sets the tone for the rest of the story and it was much, much darker than I expected. As this happens in the very first chapter, it’s no spoiler if I say that… well, people are brutally murdered, a family destroyed, and a girl traumatised right at the beginning. And holy shit, I think I stopped breathing for a while when I read this. The protagonist Laia tells of these horrible events and then takes her chance to flee, to save herself from the same fate. Her brother, although still alive, is apprehended by a Mask (a super creepy military ninja police dude… more on them later). Her “cowardice” haunts her and she resolves to save her brother. That beginning already, despite being truly terrifying, was such a breath of fresh air in a YA book. Not only does the protagonist lose almost everything right in the beginning, but she runs away. She is no magical brave super-powered woman who can mysteriously kick people’s asses and save the day. She is a scared girl who wants to survive. So yeah, I loved Laia.

In alternating chapters, another person tells their story. Elias, almost finished with his training to become of those dreaded Masks, wants out of his life. Since he was six, it has been spent at Blackcliff Academy, where children are brutally trained to become amazing warriors and cruel enforcers of the Emperor’s rule. Oh yeah, I forgot, all of this takes place in a sort of alternate Roman Empire. I adored the names – Elias Veturius, Helen Aquilla – they gloriously melt on your tongue. Anyway, Elias plans to desert, being rather sick of a life watching his friends be flayed, beaten to death, “weeded out” during training for being too weak… so you see, more horrors coming your way.

The plot really kicks off when Laia starts working for the Resistance (because every evil Empire needs a Resistance) in exchange for them saving her brother from prison. She enters Blackcliff Academy as a slave girl, spying on the most feared woman in the entire Empire – the Commandant. This woman was straight up evil! She was responsible for the heart-stopping excitement I felt while reading this book. When Laia risked something, and spying is in and of itself a risk, I was truly afraid she would get caught and punished for it. And punishment by the Commandant might invole anything from a simple flogging, to losing a limb or eye, to being carved up like a ham. Talk about a great villain!

But that’s all I’ll say about the plot because otherwise I’ll just retell the entire book right here. There were things I truly loved about An Ember in the Ashes, and others that felt old and tired. Let’s start with the good stuff: the friendships. Elias and Helene have been best friends forever, and although growing past puberty and graduating from Blackcliff have changed their relationship, I loved how loyal these two were to each other. Things get pretty rocky along the way, and even though not everything turns out alright, I really appreciated the friendship between these two. Not as much as I appreciated the friendship between Laia and her fellow slave-girl Izzi, though. Reading Laia’s perspective, I immediately cast myself in her role, trying to think like a spy, suspicious of everyone and everything. But a true and wonderful friendship evolves out of shared fear and pain and the one thing that keeps them all going: hope.

Sabaa Tahir drifted into trope territory when it came to the romance(s). I knew and actually hoped for a budding romance between Elias and Laia, but to make things interesting (I guess), their feelings for each other are complicated by what turned out to be a love… square. Love triangles are old and boring and usually resolved really badly. Here, each of the protagonists has a second potential love interest. That would have been a-okay if the descriptions of their feelings and reactions to each other weren’t all exactly the same. To me, this read very much like Laia just gets excited when she sees dude A and gets excited when she sees dude B. Elias was a bit better as his reactions to his two girls differed slightly, if only because there was more backstory there. That’s all I can say without spoiling, but although I liked the descriptions of these new (to them) feelings, the secondary love interests seemed totally forced and unnecessary.

Back to stuff I liked: The world-building and magic. Yes, there’s magic, if not exactly front and center. The Roman Empire thing is a great idea, simply because it isn’t medieval England. But Blackcliff has a lot more to offer in terms of imagery and internal workings. The Masks, for example, are called Masks because they wear masks (duh). But masks that meld to their face and eventually can’t be taken off. So there’s a bunch of people running around with silver faces – that is super creepy! But the way Blackcliff works and trains its soldiers, is also intriguing. Terrible, yes, but amazing to read about. The Augurs, and the various mythical creatures that crop up every now and then, are a whole different story and I can’t wait to find out more about that part of the world in the sequel.

Another thing I didn’t like was that so many chapters ended in cliffhangers. It’s a cheap trick that reminds me of Dan Brown. Yeah, sure it worked, it kept me reading for hours and hours on end, but it also got annoying pretty quickly. I know I’m being manipulated, book, it’s fine, you can give me one chapter to breathe and get a coffee or have a toilet break.

And last, but definitely not least, my favorite part about this book was Laia’s character development. Awakening sexuality aside, it was fascinating to watch that scared, naive little girl grow up and realize just how strong she is. By the end of the book she’s still scared, don’t get me wrong (and I wouldn’t like her otherwise) but she has learned to use her fear, to work through it, to do the right thing anyway. She was incredibly naive and gullible at first, but grew more aware of her surroundings and the way people can manipulate and lie to each other. Way to go, girl!

This has turned into a very long review, although I left so many details out – that should tell you that these 450 pages really have some meat to them and aren’t just descriptions of how pretty people are (still looking at you, Sarah J. Maas). I loved the reading experience and would recommend this to anyone in a reading slump. And make sure you have the sequel ready because I’m throwing all my reading plans overboard to dive right in.

MY RATING: 8/10 – Excellent!


Click image for a cool article on the creation of this map of Blackcliff Academy

Click image for a cool article on the creation of this map of Blackcliff Academy



Patricia C. Wrede – Dealing With Dragons

I believe that there are too many great books coming out this year. Which is why I finally did what I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I picked up an older book that is somewhat of a classic of fantasy literature. At least that’s my impression. My first Patricia C. Wrede read was much more charming than expected and I look forward to returning to the Enchanted Forest soon.

dealing-with-dragonsDEALING WITH DRAGONS
by Patricia C. Wrede

Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers, 1990
Ebook: 212 pages
Series: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles #1
My rating: 7/10

First sentence: Linderwall was a large kingdom, just east of the Mountains of Morning, where philosophers were highly respected and the number five was fashionable.

Meet Princess Cimorene–a princess who refustes to be proper. She is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomobyish smart… And bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon. And not just any dragon, but Kazul–one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons arounds. Of course, Cimorene has a way of hooking up with dangerous characters, and soon she’s coping with a witch,a a jinn, a death-dealing talking bird, a stone prince, and some very oily wizards. If this princess ran away to find some excitement, it looks like she’s found plenty!


Cimorene is a terrible princess, mostly because she is no good at princessing. She wants to do magic and fight and learn boy-stuff, not embroidery and dancing. As much as I hate the initial message of this book (everything girly is bad and boring), Cimorene makes up for all of it later on. She runs away, promptly meets some dragons and becomes the princess to the dragon Kazul. Because you see, much as it is tradition (and a form of establishing status) for princes to rescue maidens from dragons, having your own princess is a status symbol for a dragon.

Except most princesses want to be rescued and Cimorene will not have it. In fact, she has a rather hard time keeping away all the knights and princes trying to “save” her from the clutches of Kazul, who is much more a friend than an evil mistress. Cimorene likes cleaning up the dragon caves, organising the library, and sorting through the treasure cave. But dragons have politics of their own and not all is as peaceful as it seems.

The plot itself is quite cute, although very obvious to an adult reader. But despite seeing where the story was going from miles away, I enjoyed reading about Cimorene immensely. The villains may be obvious, but not always – prince Therandil, for example, may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but he is sympathetic enough. I really liked how things aren’t totally black and white, as in most books for children. I also liked the side characters, because they had their own flaws and personalities.


Cimorene is just a cool heroine to root for. She is practical and brave, knows what she wants and is quick to make friends. But she’s also far from naive, and sometimes has to use all her cleverness to escape dangerous situations. Wizards and jinn are not to be trifled with, after all, and just because you may live with a dragon doesn’t mean their fire can’t hurt you. But my favorite part was probably the little remarks about fairy tale tropes. Like how it’s tradition to invite a fairy to a princess’ christening, or how it always has to be the youngest son who does important stuff. There are even little asides about princesses who did just what they were supposed to do – fall asleep for a really long time until a prince kissed them awake, spin straw into gold, and so on. These fairy tales are treated as the norm in this world, which gave this an added layer of fun and originality, because Cimorene so decidedly refuses to be put into that princess mold.

This was a delightful read, in every sense. The language was simple, but made it hard to put the book down at any point. The characters were lovely, the plot was nice, and the overall message – find what you enjoy and make that your job, pick your own family (and make it one who loves you for who you are) – is one I can wholeheartedly agree with. It rankled how distasteful Cimorene found her “girly” lessons at the beginning but even she has to admit, in the course of her adventure, that some of it came in quite handy.

I already look forward to the sequels because I have a feeling this series is a great comfort read, something to get you out of a reading slump, something to always leave you smiling. I also look forward to Cimorene growing up some more and finding her place in the world.

MY RATING: 7/10 – Very good!


Second opinions:




Top Ten Tuesday – My Fall TBR List

As I’m home sick and need some distraction anyway, I thought I’d do a Top Ten Tuesday again. The Broke and the Bookish have come up with another great topic that will hopefully help me organise my reading a litte. As much as I love making lists, I rarely adhere to them and just end up reading whatever falls into my hands.


My Fall TBR list

this-savage-song1.Victoria Schwab – This Savage Song

Schwab disappointed me a bit with her sequel A Gathering of Shadows but I am still convinced that she’s got an awesome brain and comes up with great stories and characters. So I want to see what her latest novel – also the first in a series – is all about.

I know it’s about humans and monsters (and how they are not always what they seem) and music, and all of those sound pretty good. Plus, the title is brilliant.

bone swans2. C.S.E. Cooney – Bone Swans

I was so incredibly excited when I heard this was coming out and then I immediately got it and then… it’s been kind of sitting on my shelf. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to read it, wanting to really savor it. Cooney is still new to me but I have a suspicion that she might become a new favorite author. Everything I’ve heard about her and this collection is so up my alley that I will be majorly disappointed if I don’t fall in love with it hard.

haunting of hill house3. Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House

I said last year I wouldn’t wait around for another Halloween before I read my next Shirley Jackson book, but as new books came out, I ended up doing just that. The disctractions were too great, you guys. I don’t care, I’m going to read this creepy thing in October because I am still haunted by We Have Always Lived in the Castle and need more Shirley Jackson in my life.

shakespeares-star-wars-trilogy4. Ian Doescher – William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Until this post goes up I may well have finished the trilogy already, but in case there’s still some returning Jedi left over, this goes on my Fall TBR. I mainly like these books for the illustrations and the little nods to Shakespeare. They are quick reads, they make me giggle at the Shakespearean version of famous Star Wars quotes and they are a fun way to revisit the Star Wars trilogy (I will most likely skip the prequels because why would I put myself into the pain of revisiting those stories without the one thing that made it bearable – the visual effects?).

bird-and-the-sword5. Amy Harmon – The Bird and the Sword

I stumbled across this book by accident but it sounds super-intriguing. The cover is mysterious, the synopsis makes me expect all sorts of mysteries, and magic, and myth. It might be totally not my taste but, hell, until I’ll try I won’t know, right?

Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.

siege-and-storm6. Leigh Bardugo – Siege and Storm

I actually really, really want to read Six of Crows but because I’m weird and organised in my reading life (if nowhere else), I started the Grisha Trilogy first and intend to finish it before reading Bardugo’s other series. So Siege and Storm is up next and I have high hopes for it. While Shadow and Bone drifted off a little too much into YA-trope-land, I believe there is serious potential here and I quite liked the writing style. So let’s do this and do it quickly, then I can finally get into Six of Crows.

bands-of-mourning7. Brandon Sanderson – The Bands of Mourning

I am waiting for the Graphic Audio adaptations to come out (part one September 28th, part two October 26th) although I’ve had the physical book here since it came out. As my experience with Graphic Audio Sandersons go, I will probably eat this up in one weekend and it will probably be the first weekend after the entire audiobook is published. After that, I can start listening to the first part(s) of Words of Radiance as well, so the rest of 2016 looks very promising.

bryony-and-roses8. T. Kingfisher – Bryony and Roses

I am utterly in love with T. Kingfisher’s writing and the way she turns fairy tales into something new. Her collection Toad Words was lovely, and her novel The Seventh Bride both terrified and delighted me. I need more of that. Plus, the books are usually not very big (that’s a plus because I’ve started a few large series lately and feel quite intimidated by the page count).

three-dark-crowns9. Kendare Blake – Three Dark Crowns

I don’t own this book yet (as of writing this post) and I am on the fence about everything. But throw a cool book trailer at me, a gorgeous cover, and some buzz words in the description and I’m willing to try. So far, this sounds like Royal Hunger Games with magic – and that’s a pretty cool idea.

I know about Blake’s other series (Anna Dressed in Blood and the sequel) but I haven’t read it – don’t think I will either. The problem with these over-hyped books is that lots of people may end up liking them (see Sarah J. Maas) but I just can’t take the clichés and tropes anymore. I’m hoping for the best.


I have SO MANY books on my TBR and I want to read at least half of them right this very moment. I can’t possibly pick only one for my last book, so I’m making a list within a list. That’s allowed, right?

  1. Carolyn Turgeon – Godmother
  2. Foz Meadows – An Accident of Stars
  3. Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise
  4. N. K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate (OMG, I forgot this one, I’m totally reading this, no matter what, this should be number 1!!!)
  5. Laure Eve – The Graces
  6. Indra Das – The Devourers
  7. Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury (started it already but it’s painfully bad, so I’ll read this if I’m in the mood for a ranty review…)
  8. Karin Tidbeck – Jagannath
  9. Nicole Kornher-Stace – Archivist Wasp
  10. Roshani Chokshi – The Star-Touched Queen













Ian Doescher – William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope

I resisted this a long time, suspecting it may be just as cheap a rip-off as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was (never managed to finish that book…), but a friend convinced me that this is not merely a script of the movies made to rhyme but actually a bit more clever than that. While I don’t think this is a masterpiece of literature, it was truly fun to read and it’s a beautiful physical book to have on my shelf.


William Shakespeare’s STAR WARS:
by Ian Doescher

Published by:
Hardback: 174 pages
Series: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars #4
My rating: 6,5/10

First sentence: It is a period of civil war.

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ‘Tis a tale told by fretful Droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying… pretty much everything.
Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.


I am really glad I bought this book. It came in a lovely slipcase including the other two books in the trilogy (they may be numbered 4 through 6 but who’s the publisher kidding?) and it looks fantastic on my shelf. Apart from the obvious good looks of this book, the content offered some interesting surprises as well.

The story is the one we all know and love. Princess Leia hiding the secret Death Star plans in R2-D2, who is trying to get them to Obi-Wan. Luke Skywalker picks up R2 and C-3PO and gets dragged into this big adventure involving a dark-clad man with a breathing problem, furry co-pilots and a damn sexy Han Solo. There is nothing new here, story wise, so don’t expect any extra scenes or background goodies – although there was a quite funny comment about who shot first (Han did! It’s always been Han!).

So what makes this book worthy of your time is mostly the fun of discovering famous quotes Shakespeare-ified. Whether it’s “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” or Han’s nicknames for Leia, seeing them in wrapped in iambic pentameter actually made me giggle. However, it was Luke that got to me in this book more than he ever did in the movies. I was genuinely surprised by how well his yearning for adventure came through. In the movie, I always thought of Luke as somewhat of a brat, you know, a whiny teenager who wants to leave home to lead his own life, never mind family responsibilities. But in Doescher’s version, Luke’s speeches actually touched me and conveyed in how much pain he is because he’s stuck on Tatooine (which, okay, I get it, it’s a pretty shitty planet).

There are also a few little gimmicks that made the book worthwhile. R2 may still speak droid (“bleep” and so on) but there are a few asides to us, the audience, in English. It’s nothing you didn’t already expect R2 to think but it’s nice to have the little guy actually get to talk in our language for once and voice his annoyance at his companion droid. Chewie is still Chewie and all we get from him is his famous growing/howling noise.

Even if this book weren’t as entertaining as it ended up being, I would have been happy about it just for the illustrations. Like the cover design, they show the characters in immediately recognisable shape, except wearing old-timey garb. Vader especially cracked me up, dressed in his suit (complete with breathing apparatus) plus super fabulous fur coat and puffy sleeves. Seriously, just look at this:

There are many more fantastic illustrations, some of which made me laugh (the Cantina band), others which were more of a nod to Shakespeare than Star Wars (Luke holding a Stormtrooper helmet much like Hamlet’s Yorick skull), and others still that I’m not spoiling for you. Let’s just say, Jabba makes an appearance in all his Shakespearean glory.

The one thing – and this was to be expected – that simply can’t be done properly in this medium, is the space battles. Whenever description is needed, the choir enters to set the stage for us. In the case of the final battle at the Death Star, the author even acknowledges that it’s impossible to reproduce this scene on a stage (or in a written play), so we just have to put a bit more effort into our readerly imagination. That’s totally okay and there was no way it could have been done differently, but of course it also made that last battle feel much less epic. When all you have to go on is the rebel’s comm messages, some randomly shouting “I’m hit” and others coming to their companions’ rescue, that’s just not very exciting if you don’t see the fight. But it was the only real shortcoming of this version of Star Wars, for which I will gladly forgive the author.

I’m sure a lot of work went into these books and they’re not just the money-grabbing merchandise that they first appear to be. There’s not much to discover here that’s new but if you like Star Wars, you’ll probably get some enjoyment out of this. I quite liked it.

MY RATING: 6,5/10 – Pretty good


Okay, I can’t resist. Have another picture:







Leigh Bardugo – Shadow and Bone

I have resisted for a long time, guys. But you see, the covers and reviews for Leigh Bardugo’s new trilogy – the one with the crow and city silhouette on the cover, are so amazing that I thought I’d try them. Then I heard that they are set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy and, being obsessed with order when it comes to books (if not anything else in life), I had to start at the very beginning. And here I am, neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed. As Bianca said in 10 Things I hate about you: “Can you be just whelmed?”

shadow and bone.jpgSHADOW AND BONE
by Leigh Bardugo

Published by: Henry Holt and Co., 2012
Ebook: 368 pages
Series: The Grisha #1
My rating: 6,5/10

First sentence: The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke’s house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.


The reason I stayed away from this trilogy so long, despite the heavy praise from all over the internet, the (amazing!) fanart, and the thrill of reading a fantasy set in an alternate Russia, well… the reason is I expected it to be another idiotic romance with a love triangle, an oh-so-special and unique girl protagonist, and very little substance. And the thing is, this is a little bit of what I got. But not all.

Alina Starkov and her best friend Mal grow up in an orphanage – their childhood is wrapped up in a short prologue but that prologue was so well written that the bond between these two was immediately believable. The atmosphere, the Fantasy-Russia, the world are all set up just enough to get us by in that prologue. So I threw all my prejudices away and was positively surprised.

Cut to years later, when both Alina and Mal are in the army, Mal as a tracker, Alina as a cartographer. The second brownie point was collected by giving both characters interesting jobs and not making Alina a super fighter, as so many YA romances are trying to do. I don’t want a heroine who can (already) do everything, who is beautiful and skinny, but also secretly strong and a ninja. And probably a witch as well. No, Alina actually doesn’t fit in very well, unlike Mal. He is a natural and constantly surrounded by friends and girls swooning over him. Alina is on the sidelines. Until the Darkling arrives.

The Darkling was both an intriguing and ridiculous figure. First of all, he doesn’t seem to have a name as everyone calls him by his title – the Darkling. With a name/title like that, it doesn’t take much imagination to see him as a potential bad guy. He is the most powerful of the Grisha, the country’s magical army. And, as it turns out, Alina is a Grisha too. The middle part of the book is your average, and sadly unoriginal, girl learning her new powers and getting a makeover scene. Seriously, you’ve all seen it before. Alina comes to the palace, is suddenly treated like the special snowflake she turned out to be, gets pretty dresses and make-up, and flirts heavily with the darkly brooding, mysterious and gorgeous dude that everybody wants. I was both groaning at the familiarity of it all and at the same time delighted because the writing was actually good. So, Leigh Bardugo may have written the exact same story that we know from endless other YA books, but she wrote it well.

Alina herself starts as a great character but then she turns into a passive girl who’s just there to be pretty and special. She rarely does things because she wants to but is mostly passed around and told what to do. This does get better at the end but it doesn’t excuse her blindly trusting a man called Darkling or the first person who is kind of nice to her. My take on this is that it was meant to be her story arc – to turn from the passive, naive, lonely girl into a stronger woman with agency. I hope I’m not wrong.

My favorite parts suffered in favor of the sort-of love triangle. It is not as infuriating as most love triangle and it’s resolved pretty quickly – a refreshing change. But what really interested me was the world building, the way magic is used, the legends and myths of this place. The book has a great map at the beginning, showing the Fold, a sort of ocean rift in the country, full of terrible creatures. I want to know EVERYTHING about this! We do get glimpses and hints here and there and my guess is that Bardugo is saving the rest for the later books, so I’ll forgive her for telling me so little about it. But seriously, guys, check out this map. I totally love it.

shadow and bone map

The other interesting aspects are the magic, as I said, and social norms. Most things I just kept assuming, but I’d really like to know officially how this world works, more about the war that left Alina and Mal orphaned, more about the world at large. If it hadn’t been for training sessions and beauty regimens, there would have been time for that, but I get the feeling more and more that YA authors write books to become movies. Visually, there is a lot going on here and I think – with all the beautiful characters and the stunning imagery – this would actually make a good movie.

Plot-wise, the make-over bit is followed by an obvious plot twist (seriously, how could anyone not see this coming), and then things get better again. Alina and Mal’s friendship, although the two are separated for large parts of the novel, was definitely a strong point of the book. The romance wasn’t all that romantic, but if I can choose between embarassingly flowery love scenes (looking at you, Sarah J. Maas) or this understated love-from-friendship, I’ll take the latter any day.

The ending was both satisfying and frustrating – can you see a pattern here, do you understand why this book left me “whelmed”? I really liked the way the story ended, except it didn’t really end. I sort trilogies into two rough categories. The ones where each book tells its own story, but the trilogy tells a larger story. And the ones where a trilogy is just one story, chopped up into three physical books. The Grisha trilogy seems to be one large story where each novel is just a chapter. I am okay with this because not only has the trilogy been completed, Shadow and Bone also ends in a way that makes me want to pick up the next instalment. There’s no evil cliffhanger but things are far from resolved. So, fine, I’ll go along with it and hope the next book leaves out the high school-like court drama.

MY RATING: 6,5/10 – Good-ish


Second opinions:


T. Kingfisher – The Seventh Bride

T. Kingfisher is Ursula Vernon’s pen-name. I first discovered Ursula Vernon through her graphic novel Digger (which I still haven’t managed to buy anywhere but want so much!!!), then I read her absolutely charming short story “Toad Words” and knew I had to try all her fairy tale stuff. I was not disappointed. I believe, T. Kingfisher will become a new author on my auto-buy list.

seventh bride

by T. Kingfisher

Published by: Red Wombat Tea Company, 2014
Ebook: 183 pages
My rating: 7,5/10

First sentence: Her name was Rhea.

Rhea is an ordinary miller’s daughter, engaged to be married under suspicious circumstances to a man not of her choosing. He has unknown powers and a manor house full of mysterious women.
Rhea has a hedgehog. It claims to be ordinary, but normal hedgehogs don’t act like that.
It’s probably not going to be enough.


Give me a good Bluebeard retelling any day and I’ll be a happy camper. But take Bluebeard and twist it into something new and even more horrible, and I’ll be your fan forever. T. Kingfisher tells the story of Rhea, a 15-year-old miller’s daughter, who enjoys her quiet life, helping in the mill, battling that evil swan that tries to steal her food, and living with her family. Until one day, she is told that she is engaged to Lord Crevan, a powerful rich man to whom the miller family can’t really say no.

I immediately loved the voice of this story and Rhea as a character. The voice is charming, almost like a friend telling you about something that happened to them, and Rhea is wonderfully practical in her ways, unlike so many other heroines, especially ones in fairy tales.

She hadn’t expected to love her husband. That sort of thing almost never happened outside of ballads anyway, and it didn’t really bother her. You married well and you were polite to each other, and if you were lucky, you became relatively good friends because after all, you were both stuck in this together. That was all she’d ever hoped for.

Being a good person and a good daughter, she is still not happy about this marriage but she’ll go through with it. Up until this part, the story reads like a light-hearted fairy tale, one that could easily be enjoyed by kids. But the moment Rhea sets out to visit Lord Crevan’s mansion, that’s when the darkness begins.

I’d go so far as to call this a horror novel because the things Rhea encounters are straight out of nightmares. Some are actual monsters, other things are terrifying for different reasons. However, Rhea goes to Crevan’s mansion and encounters – surprise! – some of his other wives. Her practicality shines through again when she is shocked that a man dares to take more than one wife at the same time. She also quickly finds out that all of the previous wives have lost something to Lord Crevan. Sylvie is blind, Ingath’s throat looks like it was torn out by a wild animal, and Maria the cook… well, it’s not quite clear what Crevan took from her but she is definitely afraid of him.

cover crop

What follows is Rhea being Rhea. She tries to figure this whole thing out and is helped by a friendly and possibly magical hedgehog she picked up on the way. As animal companions go, this must be one of my favorites! I’d say they should make a Disney movie of this but they wouldn’t dare – because this is a seriously creepy book. Lord Crevan gives Rhea certain tasks to do to get out of the marriage. This is where that fairy tale feeling comes back.

Rhea is definitely my hero. Not only do I love how… normal she seems, but also that, when faced with horrible situations, she is actually scared to death. She isn’t some superhero who doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. When she meets a mosnter, she half pees her pants and wonders if she’s gone mad. Then she takes a breath and makes a plan on how not to die right now. It’s terrifying and beautiful at the same time.

Another thing I adored about this not too faithful retelling was that the side characters are fully fleshed out, and the ones that aren’t (because they stay on the sidelines) remain mysterious on purpose. Rhea isn’t on an adventure by herself, she has other women helping her the best they can. In the end, they all have to work together to defeat that monstrous man who has harmed them all in different ways.

Ursula Vernon has a knack for showing different sides of well-known fairy tales – she has proven that in Toad Words. But she is also great at taking a well-known tale and making it her own. I have always preferred retellings that don’t stick too closely to the original. This way, there are new things to discover, new riddles to solve, different ways to defeat evil. The blend of utterly charming voice and terrifying plot also worked surprisingly well. I’m definitely going to read all the other fairy tale retellings by this author.

MY RATING: 7,5/10 – Very good!


Fairy tale retellings by T. Kingfisher:

  • Toad Words and Other Stories
  • The Seventh Bride (Bluebeard)
  • Bryony and Roses (Beauty and the Beast)
  • The Raven and the Reindeer (The Snow Queen)




Brandon Sanderson – Shadows of Self

Aaaaand Mistborn continues to be great, although there is a clear departure from the light-hearted The Alloy of Law to this new story arc. While Alloy was just a bit of fun and can technically be read without any prior knowledge of the other Mistborn books, Shadows of Self is set deeply in the world that we first came to know through Vin’s eyes. The tone also shifts and is more serious again as Sanderson delivers one of his most heartbreaking twists yet.

shadows of selfSHADOWS OF SELF
by Brandon Sanderson

Published by: Tor, 2015
Ebook: 384 pages
Series: Mistborn #5
My rating: 7,5/10

First sentence: Waxillium Ladrian, lawman for hire, swung off his horse and turned to face the saloon.

With The Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.
The trilogy’s heroes are now figures of myth and legend, even objects of religious veneration. They are succeeded by wonderful new characters, chief among them Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs. There he worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are “twinborn,” meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.
Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.
This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.
Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.


Wax and Wayne are irrisistible (especially Wayne). And they’ve got another case on their hands, but this time, they don’t work nearly as alone as they did last time. Marasi has become a constable and helps them wherever she can, although her personal relationship with Wax seems strained, compared to their easy banter from the first book. Which is only natural, considering that Wax is coming more and more to terms with marrying Steris, Marasi’s cousin.

One surprise of this new series was that characters turn out not to be as one-dimensional as they seem at first. Steris in particular turned out to be more than what she likes to show in public. But in Shadows of Self, Wayne also gets to show a side of him that doesn’t fit with his cocky, fun, light-hearted side. It made him an even better character to know that – like anyone else – he has darkness in his past and he can’t just shake it off.

But the most tortured soul in Shadows of Self is definitely Wax. His past confronts him in several ways, but especially the loss of his wife in the Roughs haunts him with every move he makes. It was also Wax who was hit hardest by the ending. I cried big tears for him, that’s all I’m saying. And I am very curious to see how these new developments impact his character development in the rest of the series.

Plot-wise, this was a bit of a mess. Sanderson tries to juggle many, many plot-strings at once. There is the one started in The Alloy of Law with Wax’s uncle conspiring for his own ends, there are the terrorist attacks that Wax, Wayne, and Marasi are trying to figure out, the kandra make a new appearance and wrap up a whole of lot of history since last we saw them. There are labor strikes and unrests, there are politics and police procedures, several religions trying to gain the upper hand… you see what I mean when I say it was a bit too much for one book, especially one comparatively short for Sanderson. I commend him for making the best of every scene, getting out the most of each line, having his text do world-building as well as advancing the plot at the same time. But as a reader, it still felt a bit overwhelming, not knowing which aspect to concentrate on.

I think that piece of legwork was simply needed to give the next book in the series room to breathe. A lot of things have been established here that can be used later without re-explaining them. I appreciated that – despite the abundance of themes – there was still time for character growth and development. The introduction of MeLaan promises a lot of fun for future books, and meeting old (very old!) friends again gave me some readerly joy, even if it was bittersweet.

Although things are resolved at the end of Shadows of Self, this was one of the most devastating endings Sanderson has ever written (at least of the ones I’ve read). It’s a perfect balance between telling a story with a satisfying ending but leaving enough questions open for the next book. He’s always been good at that but this time, it’s the emotional plot strings that are left frayed and I worry for Wax as a person more than for the larger world and its fate. Well… I guess there’s no way around it – I’ll just have to pick up the next book and find out what else lies in store.

MY RATING: 7,5/10 – Very good


If you haven’t read the the Mistborn Series at all, here are my thoughts on the other books.



Bout of Books 17 – Updates

It’s time for another bout of books. I actually did really well last week with catching up on some books (reviews are coming), but hey, Bout of Books is always a fun challenge. Plus, 2016 has been a very good year with lots of interesting titles coming out and I haven’t even read half the new publications I wanted to.

Bout of Books

As I mentioned in my sign-up post, I will be doing things differently this time. Instead of daily updates I will simply update whenever I have time or something to say.  I’m curious to see how that goes but I think it will take some pressure off and give me more time to concentrate on the books. Speaking of books: I said I’d probably read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo but I kind of finished that book yesterday. Here’s some books I might be reading this week:

Number of books read: 1
Challenges done:

Books read:

  • Marissa Meyer – Stars Above

Here is the general update area where I will post my thoughts on current reads, challenges, the Twitter chat and anything else to do with Bout of Books. This post will remain a sticky until Bout of Book is over.


I’m reading Marissa Meyer’s Stars Above and while it’s nothing groundbreaking, this is just a nice world to flee into when reality is too depressing. I am halfway done with this book, but I admit I skipped the stories that I had previously read – some of them were available for free online or in Meyer’s newsletter. If anyone’s interested, I talked about them here.


I was just tired. All day, whenever you asked me, I could have fallen asleep on the spot. So I almost finished Stars Above but there’s still a few pages left. However, I also started another book – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. So far, it was pretty good – a harsh and cruel beginning to what I hope will turn out to be a great story.


I’m really liking An Ember in the Ashes. Maybe since the Hunger Games, YA authors dare to write about darker stuff. The beginning was pretty grimdark. Stars Above continues to be fun and fluffy, just how I expected. A wedding is about to happen and the characters all behave pretty much exactly as they should. If I manage to finish this book today (and as I’m not as tired as yesterday I’m pretty sure I will) then I have to pick a new book. Aaaaaah, exciting!


I’m so excited!! Okay, first the book stuff. I finished Stars Above and, surprisingly, my favorite new story was the one about young Scarlet and her grandmother. That one actually got to me emotionally. The wedding story (not telling whose wedding) made me giggle, but overall it wasn’t very good. Kind of exactly what I expected and I would have preferred to be surprised. But oh well, it was fun. An Ember in the Ashes is still pretty good, although I didn’t read very much yesterday or today.

In non-bookish info (or only slightly book-related, at least), I got my very first subscription boxes this week. If I have time to take nice pictures, I may write a post or two about them, but in general, I love the idea of surprise boxes. I got The Bookish Box by Appraising pages and Nerdy Bookworm Box – both were filled with excellen things. A T-shirt, a Peter Pan necklace which I adore (it’s a thimble and an acorn that represent the “kisses” Peter Pan and Wendy give each other), a mug, wax melts that smell wonderfully like the outdoors, a Hunger Games themed coffee, adorable magnetic bookmarks… you see, I’m in book-lover heaven.

As it’s finally weekend, I can now properly dive into An Ember in the Ashes and read more than a couple of chapters per day. I have also picked my next/parallel read and, surprising probably nobody, it’s none of the books I planned on reading. It is Vigil by the inimitable, wonderful, original Angela Slatter. More on that tomorrow.


So okay, An Ember in the Ashes has taken over. I loved the beginning of Vigil, but I need to read that other book first. There is now spying involved. I haven’t done any challenges this week (although I loved the idea of the headlines challenge), because – and I think that’s a good thing – I was reading most of the time.

I will use the rest of this Sunday to finish the second part in An Ember in the Ashes, and then call it a day. Since my goals for this read-a-thon were very modest, I am happy with the way it went. I finished one book, got way into another one, started a third, and I have some reviews in the pipeline. I already look forward to the next Bout of Books and I hope it will happen during a week where I don’t have to work. Then I can really set myself some ambitious goals.🙂