Review: The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson


“More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Chosen by the Master in a mysterious inception ceremony, Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings — merciless creatures that leave mangled corpses in their wake. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students study the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing — kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery — one that will change Rithmatics — and their world — forever.

Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson brings his unique brand of epic storytelling to the teen audience with an engrossing tale of danger and suspense—the first of a series. With his trademark skills in world-building, Sanderson has created a magic system that is so inventive and detailed that that readers who appreciate games of strategy and tactics just may want to bring Rithmatics to life in our world.” Goodreads Description

I loved the new style of magic that Sanderson has incorporated here. Magic in fantasy often gets old, then an author comes along with a totally new idea and writes a book about it – this is that book. Chalklings! Rithmatics! I’ll admit, the technical aspect of Rithmatics went over my head (way too mathematical for me), but Chalklings! I wish there was more of them in the book! Maybe in the next one? Please? 

The worldbuilding was good. It’s set in a sort of alternative USA, I guess. But it feels real and believable; it doesn’t feel like a rip-off of what we know – it feels like a genuine fantasy world.

Characters… Joel is very naive in some ways and felt a bit dull at times, but at other times, he was the sharpest knife in the box. I loved his unique perspective on the problems with Rithmatics students etc. I loved how the author used that perspective to write the book. Very clever! Joel is invaluable to the Rithmatists for this very reason. Melody provides comic relief, although she has a deeper side and I completely adore her. A novella from her POV please! The not-so-nice professor was where the book fell down for me. I needed more not-so-niceness from him, if he was to be someone the protagonist didn’t like. I can’t even remember his name, and I have read books where the villains and/or perceived villains have stood out so much I couldn’t forget them if I tried. If I’m reading a book from Joel’s POV, and Joel dislikes this one person and thinks he’s the square root of evil, then I need to think he’s the square root of evil too. With a book this good, with characters so well done and so fantastic, and a world that’s totally incredible… there is no excuse for the author not to have written the not-so-nice professor better. Sanderson is clearly more than capable of great things!

The book did feel like a set-up novel, as many first books in a series are, but I am not complaining – it was a great book and I loved being given the chance to bed myself into a new fantasy world before all the things happen! The world is that good – you want to explore it and get to know it before actual story happens. (There is a plot too; you won’t get bored; it just feels like a set-up book. Albeit a brilliant one!) 

Time invested in this book; in this series – will be time well spent.

My Rating: 4/5 – I’m frantic for the next one in the series!

Sequel Spring Challenge: Update One

Sequel Spring is a challenge hosted by  Words in a Teacup . It runs from March 20th to June 20th and the aim of the game is to read as many sequels/prequels/any-book-but-the-first one as you can during that time. You can still sign up and you can add your sequel reviews to Ren and Isa’s linky tool.

As someone who has A LOT of series’ on the go, I wanted to do this challenge to get some series’ finished. I planned on reading 24 books from 8 different series’.

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

Series 1: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.  I was up to book five when I started the challenge, so I have book five and book six to read before June 20th. I have made absolutely no progress on this one so far, but City of Lost Souls is going to be my next read. I think. (You never know with me; I’ll probably end up reading something else. Hey, I’m a not-in-the-mood-for-this-today-but-I-am-in-the-mood-for-THIS kind of reader. )

Series 2: Alex Rider by Anthony Horowitz. I’d only read the first two beforehand, and have now read books 3 to 8.

Series 3: Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter. I had all bar the first one to read here. I now just have the last one to read. I’ve also read the Gallagher Girls/Heist Society crossover (which I shall be reviewing soon).

Series 4: Heist Society by Ally Carter: I just had the most recently released book left to read of this series, which I finished yesterday. 🙂

Series 5: Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Yes, I know, kick me, I haven’t finished this one yet. I have the last two to read. No progress on this for Sequel Spring so far.

Series 6: Ruan by Zoe Marriott. I couldn’t actually get hold of the first one, so I started with the second. That appears to be all there is currently available, but let me tell you now, Frostfire is AMAZING, and you don’t need to have read the first one. I’m fairly sure it’s just set in the same world. I think the books follow different characters in the same world. I don’t think it’s a series in that it’s one storyline over numerous books. A bit like Discworld in that, I guess.

Series 7: Confessions of A…. by Dyan Sheldon. No it’s not my usual thing, but I enjoyed the film for cheese and nostalgic reasons, so checked out the first book and then discovered it was a trilogy. I haven’t read the last two yet though.

Series 8: 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison. I read all three of these since Sequel Spring started, but the first one doesn’t count. There is a fourth one out soon, but I am apprehensive about this. I worry it will ruin the initial trilogy and become yet another author trying to force a series to go on forever. The trilogy is amazing! The second and third books are miles better than the first one though.

Bonus Sequels: Oh yes, I even managed a bonus book already! The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb. Kick me again, I have read and loved fantasy since I was a child and not once picked up a Robin Hobb book.

Book Count so Far: 15/24 plus 1 bonus book

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who I Genuinely Want As Friends

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is Ten Characters Who… (You fill in your own ending to that). I chose to do characters I genuinely feel a particularly deep connection to and would love it if they were real and friends of mine. Super-cheesey, but I like it. 🙂

So, in no particular order:

1. Tessa Gray from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare: I love her voracious reading habit and her desire to discuss books with others. I also love how she’s quite quiet but is actually very strong. I just love that combination. Strong characters who aren’t loud and who don’t immediately come across as “kick-butt”.

2. Cammie Morgan from the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter: I just love Cammie! She’s sweet and I get this odd urge to protect her, because although she’s a kick-butt spy, she is very emotionally vulnerable. Maybe it’s just me, but I get the impression she’s affected by things a lot more than she lets on.

3. Isabelle Lightwood from the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare: I was always drawn to Isabelle, and I didn’t really work out why until the third book. She’s another “seemingly kick-butt but actually very affected by things” kinda gal. (I’m a sucker for that, in case you hadn’t already noticed. :p )

4. Hazel Lancaster from The Fault In Our Stars by John Green: I can’t put into words how selfless Hazel is. And it wasn’t something that hit me straight away. It took the ending of the book for me to realise how selfless she is and how genuine she is in that. It just really made me love her. A lot.

5. Tanya Fairchild from the 13 Treasures series by Michelle Harrison: Tanya hit me as being different from your average teenage female protagonist. I can’t explain why, she just seemed different. I love the bond she had with her dog Oberon too.

6. Alexia Tarabotti from the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger: I love Alexia! She’s so refreshing and totally doesn’t fit the stiffness of her era. I love how much she loves food and isn’t afraid of that – most ladies in her era would be horrified. I like women who like food!

7. Angua von Uberwald from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett: Another “different character”. She’s a woman in a “man’s” profession and she completely holds her own.

8 and 9. Alex Rider and Jack Starbright from the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz: Alex ,because I am getting seriously worried about him having just finished book eight. I have this need to take him under my wing and look after him. And Jack just because I love Jack and she has so much to deal with, with Alex and MI6 and all.

10. Sophie Newman from the Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott: I love this girl. She’s basically pushed into all these massive things and given a ton of responsibility, and nobody even stopped to ask her what she wanted with her life. And yet, she stays true to herself and she doesn’t become bitter or anything. Also, her brother is a moron and irritates the heck out of me, so I figured she could use some decent companionship.

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

 

“Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.


Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.” – Goodreads Description

NB: I received this book from Headline in exchange for an honest and fair review.

The first thing I loved about this book was the feel. Within a few paragraphs I had a feel for the setting in a way I’ve never experienced before. As the story progressed and we visited more settings, I had a really deep connection to them. That said, the author doesn’t bombard you with description, it’s just very well-done so that it all feels so real.

The characters were also very profound (this isn’t a light book; I found it very heavy, yet it made the book what it is for me and I consider this a positive point), and I had a deep connection to Owen and a pretty good connection to Lucy too. I could relate to their parental problems and I LOVED the connection between the two of them. It reminded me of the connection between Hazel and Augustus in The Fault In Our Stars.  I would have liked to have seen more set-up before the travelling kicked in, but otherwise their relationship worked, they were likable characters, and they were both very easy to relate to.  I didn’t get an image of them in my head though, which is really unusual for me.

This isn’t a book to rush through; I think it’s best read slowly. It’s one to take your time over and savour. The writing is fresh and modern and the book feels different and refreshing.  The cover is beautiful and I take great pleasure in staring at it.  🙂 I can see The Geography of You and Me being very popular with teenagers and “new adults”. (I’m nearly 24 and I loved it, so I don’t see why adults wouldn’t  enjoy this one too.)

Thank you for giving me the book Headline! 🙂

My Rating: 4 out of 5 – a must-read for travel-hungry teens in love.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Things I Want To Own

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

In no particular order:

Owl bookends! I must have these. Because owls.

 

Doesn’t every book blogger need this for their netbook? And it’s in my favourite colour too!

 

 

I would LOVE  a bookish coffee table!

 

Harry Potter teaset! Like, yes please!

 

Can I eat it? Oh, it’s lip balm. Can I still eat it?

 

Blind Book Dates! I have wanted to try this out for years.

 

I so need to add this one to my bookmark collection! And read the last two books… *shuffles feet*

 

How cool would this be? I wonder if you put pumpkins on your properties instead of houses/hotels?

 

OMG Professor Snape in the Astronomy Tower with Avada Kedavra! WHO WANTS TO PLAY?!! (I hope it has Peeves in it!)

 

 

Now how many bookish people wouldn’t love this?

Review: Scourge by David H Burton

NB: I read this book as part of a pack containing the first novel in the Land of Verne series, and a short story set in the same world, titled Simian’s Lair. Both are reviewed here.

Two dads, five siblings, and goggles! Grim Doyle has always known his life was not exactly “normal”, and things get even more curious when he discovers a set of stones that sweep him and his family to the fantasy, steampunk world of Verne – a place they had escaped from years ago. Now that they’ve returned, Grim and his siblings must discover who is trying to kill them with the deadly Scourge.” Goodreads Description

This ‘Tale From the Land of Verne’ is a children’s short story that takes place in the world of the Grim Doyle Adventures. Enjoy reading about some of the characters you know from Scourge!

Four orphans from the land of Verne are lured into Simian’s Lair – a dark abode whose purpose has been lost to the ravages of time. In it dwells an evil that must be cleansed, and from it, they must retrieve a secret that’s been locked away for centuries. Join them, along with Madam Patrice and Master Rickett, on a journey where courage is found in the darkest of places.” Goodreads Description

At first, the strange names and the amount of characters (in Scourge) threw me, but this is a minor complaint. 🙂 The book is so fast-paced you really have to be on your toes, but with that in mind, Scourge is brilliant! Every time you think you know what’s going on, something new happens! You really can’t get bored with this one – you just don’t have time to.

The worldbuilding is awesome, although I did feel like I was having to run to keep up at times. I would have appreciated a guide or glossary to refer back to, something to double-check place names, races, character names etc. I’m excited about the next book in the series so that I can get to grips with this amazing world a bit better.

The characters were so quirky – I don’t think there are many characters out there that you could compare them to. They really are unique. Genuinely original characters are hard to come by, so Burton’s characters are worth their weight in gold. I struggled with their names at first, but I soon got the hang of them. Once I did, I found myself falling in love with them.

The beginning of this book may be a tad confusing, but I promise you it’s worth it!

Some of the plotlines weren’t tied up enough for me, but that just leaves me hanging for the next one! There are things I need to know!

Another thing I want to mention about this book is that, although the main characters have two dads, it isn’t the premise of the book. They just happen to have two dads. As an LGBTQ person myself, I find this SO refreshing. It’s written as if it’s a completely normal, regular thing, which is exactly the kind of representation we need and are still somewhat lacking.

The short story included in the pack, Simian’s Lair, is set in the same world, but it follows a different group of children from the orphanage. I didn’t enjoy this story very much as I found it dull and written in an overly flowery style. For me at least, it was very different to Scourge. I would have much preferred a guide to the world instead.

I have a personal “thing” where I’m reluctant to spend money on ebooks – I like physical copies too much, but Burton’s books are ebook only. I obtained my copy from my local library’s online service for free. I read it using their browser reader, but I will also read ebooks in Adobe Digital Editions. I’m not really a fan of ebooks. However, I would spend money on obtaining the second in the Land of Verne series. Seriously. 

My Rating: 5/5 A new personal favourite – read it now!

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

”  You can’t stop the future.

You can’t rewind the past.

The only way to learn the secret is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

Hannah’s voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life… forever. “

Goodreads Description

 

Why I Picked It Up

I chose to read this one because I felt like something quite deep and emotional. I’ve just got into the young adult “heartbreakers” and I’m enjoying them immensely. The book that got me into the more emotional YA novels was Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher.

 

What I Liked

  • I loved the unique and interesting layout – the two voices (Hannah on the tape and Clay listening) interwoven the way they were.
  • As soon as I was a few pages in I knew that this book was going to be special, and I knew I had to finish it in one sitting. Some books just call to me to be read in one go, and as this was set mostly across just one night, reading in one sitting really enhanced the experience of the novel for me. I felt like I was on the emotional journey that Clay was on. I felt like this one cataclysmic night was one cataclysmic night for me too.
  • The feels!
  • The way the book built up from Hannah’s freshman year where there were a few incidents, to her junior year where things got significantly worse. As a reader, I was on that journey with Hannah. The build-up was done so well and was so gripping. I loved the depth of it.
  • The connection between Hannah and Clay. By the end of the book my heart hurt. It was beautifully written but heartbreaking. I know it seems like “Well if it hurt so much why was it good?” But it was; there was something about it, something beautiful. I think this was maybe the writing; the way it was written. Whatever it was, it was a beautiful book.

                                   What I Didn’t Like

  • At first I didn’t like ANY of the characters, especially not Hannah. There were still elements of Hannah that I really didn’t like by the end, but these were nothing compared with all the other feelings I had about the book when I’d finished.
  • It was slow to build up but looking back at it, this made the ending so much more… profound.

 

   My Rating

5 out of 5 – a new personal favourite