July 2019 Wrap-Up (and Hiatus Announcement)

July was a busy but boring month for me. I’ve been writing the first draft of my master’s dissertation – which is on the use of magic systems in fantasy – and most of my month has just been spent plugging away at it. I’m trying to get it finished in its entirity just before WorldCon (pray for me guys, seriously) and I am proud to say I am mostly on track, with everything but the conclusion written – although I will have to go back and revise my hot mess of a first chapter.

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Unfortunately, this pressure has meant my anxiety is kind of awful right now. I’m almost finished with my master’s course, with no plans of what to do next other than apply for a PhD, no job, and no house lined up for when I move out in September (update, I have a house! So at least that’s taken care of!). So I’ve had a pretty bad time just trying to get a handle on all the different areas of my life and hope that things work out. Not too much is set in stone yet, but this means that reading is not really a priority right now, and I expect this blog will probably be on hiatus in August for most of the time. Maybe I’ll manage a WorldCon wrap-up. WHO KNOWS?!

But…this is a wrap up, and I did read a decent amount in July! and I am still on track with my goodreads challenge! So let’s get back to that rather than screaming into the void that is the future.

Books Read: 10

 

Continue reading July 2019 Wrap-Up (and Hiatus Announcement)

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Review: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Why did I want to read? I love court-intrigue fantasies, and I love non-European fantasies (in this case, the book is based on Chinese culture).

Ahh, I really do not know how to review Spin the Dawn. I’m afraid this is another controversial opinion, and also the second disappointing book of the year for me, but what makes it so much worse is that it had one of the best first chapters of any book I’ve ever read. Upon starting Spin the Dawn I really thought is was going to be a 5 star read. I really thought it was going to live up to the hype, y’all! So the disappointment literally set in over the course of reading it, and that meant it was all the more painful to gradually fall out of love with both the plot and with Maia :/ :/ :/

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books For Multifandom Nerds Like Me

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie, so I’m going to look at books that are perfect for people who are part of fandoms. Other than being bookish, I have a number of other fangirl obsessions and hyperfixations – kdrama, DnD, Buffy, videogames…the list goes on. I am basically a massive, unapologetic nerd about a lot of things, so I love when books are either about fandom or have geeky protagonists – which is precisely what this recommendation list caters to!

 

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Review: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

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Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power. When an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital.

Why did I want to read? I enjoyed the premise of An Enchantment With Ravens, but felt like something was missing. But the synopsis (and cover) of this book was enough for me to give her writing another chance.

Sorcery of Thorns was a lovely surprise to me, because it surpassed my expectations! I was expecting it to be pretty similar to An Enchantment of Ravens – a fun, fast paced read that hit a lot of the tropes I enjoyed and made me happy, even if it wasn’t the Best Book of All Time. But I feel like Margaret Rogerson’s writing has definitely improved, and this book was an enjoyable read that did indeed make me happy, but also addressed some of the issues I had with her previous work – which meant it made me even happier. 

 

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Review: D.I.E. Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans

In the 90s, Dominic, his sister, and his friends disappeared during an RPG game that was organised as part of his birthday celebration, returning 2 years later with one of their party missing. Unable to talk about the horrors they survived, they are now in their 40s, when the past suddenly catches up in them. Through a magical D20, they are dragged back into the world of Die, a fantasy RPG world made real, with real magic and real dangers.

Why did I want to read? I love Gillen’s other graphic novel series, The Wicked and the Divine, and I also fucking love D&D.

D.I.E‘s premise is essentially: the plot of Jumanji, but the game the players get sucked into isn’t a boardgame, but Dungeons and Dragons. Six players get sucked into an RPG where they have to act out typical D&D archetypes: the rogue, the paladin, the cleric, etc., and then have to face real dangers, with no hope that they might escape the dangerous fantasy world they find themselves in.

I’ve been excited about this series pretty much since it was announced! The plot seemed really intriguing to me, playing with a lot of my favourite fantasy franchises (one character is even drawn with clear resemblance to a Dragon Age character, it’s like its designed specifically to hit everything I am personally trash for). I think understanding the Dungeons and Dragons reference would help with at least starting this series and getting into it, although I found the characters themselves intriguing enough that perhaps they would draw people into the story on their own.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Characters!

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly book tag that was run by The Broke and the Bookish but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provides a different bookish theme those deep-seated desires to list! Anyone is welcome to join in on their blog, in the comments or any other way. 

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a Character Freebie, so I’m going to be incredibly self-indulgent and simply talk about my favourite fictional children! In other posts that I’ve made, it’s clear I have a type of fictional character which I typically root for (morally dubious slytherin girls, mainly), but in making this post and thinking about which characters are my all time faves, I was surprised by them not all being cut-throat badasses (Ok. So most of them are. But bear with me!!)

 

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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

 

Yep, it’s (somehow, scarily) over halfway through the year, and – with the help of some manga binge-reads – I’ve manged to get over halfway to my revised 2019 Goodreads Challenge goal, despite my terrible months-long reading slump. As such, I’m feeling a lot better about my reading progress overall, and wanted to look back at what I’ve achieved so far this year. So I’m gonna do The Thing, the tag that (technically) no one asked me to do!!

This Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag also marks the 100th post on this blog, which is a pretty cool landmark to reach!

 

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Review: An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system. She wants to destroy it.

Why did I want to read? I was in the need of an urban fantasy fix, and this has been on my TBR for a while!

An Unkindness of Magicians (Jesus, what a freaking! amazing! title!) focuses on magicians in New York City, imagining a world where mages essentially make up a smaller, hidden percentage of the wealthy elite that reside in Manhattan. Every generation or so, a Turning takes place, and the different mage houses vie for the chance to rule the magical world, through a series of magic duels which are supposed to demonstrate skill and power, some of which can be fought to the death.

An Unkindness of Magicians wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, but I did enjoy it a lot! For me, it’s strengths were 1. its examination of power and privilege and 2. its great magic system!

 

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May-June 2019 Wrap Up

I’ve already said that 2019 is a pretty slow reading year for me. I didn’t read many books at all in May, and so for that reason I skipped my wrap-up, because I was becoming stressed out by how little reading I’ve done. June was a little better, however, so now I’m back! I’m still one book behind on my Goodreads Challenge, but compared with earlier this year I’m really proud to have closed the gap that much!

Regardless of my reading stats, May and June were great months for me! I went on a road trip around the Scottish Highlands, which was Very Wet and Quite Cold, but is was so nice to get out of the city and actually see Scotland, given that I’ve now lived here for almost a year!! My friends and I went to Aviemore and then to the West Coat, near Skye. Highlights included an intense airbnb experience with an aggressively hospitable woman called Morag and her amazing cat Charlie, and a visit to a wild reindeer herd! Not pictured here: the multiple times we fell in bogs.

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I also volunteered at Cymera Festival, Edinburgh’s first sff book festival! It was a little exhausting, but so much fun! The authors that were there were amazing: Justina Ireland, Dhonielle Clayton, Samantha Shannon, V.E. Schwab… and I was completely starstruck by  seeing R.F. Kuang discuss her processes of writing and worldbuilding.

I’m now buckling down for July to focus on hopefully writing a full first draft of my master’s dissertation. That probably means my reading and blog output might be a little low, but I need to write a lot in the hope that I’ll be ready to enjoy WorldCon in August!!

Books Read: 10

 

 

 

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Book Recommendations: So, My New Obsession is…Webtoons

Although my reading stats have improved this June, I’m still 2 books behind on my Goodreads Challenge (which I’ve not been behind on in 3+ years). Why? Because I, being a simple human who is a slave to whichever hyperfixation has claimed me as its own that month, have not been reading primarily books this month. Instead, I’ve become slightly obsessed with Webtoons.

Webtoons are essentially online comics which normally update on a weekly basis. I read mine mainly on webtoons.com, although there are other platforms (e.g. Ava’s Demon is all on its own site!) They are similar to comics or manga (sometimes more the latter, as webtoons are particularly popular in South-East Asia and this means there’s overlap between a lot of erstwhile tropes in both), but the form is designed to be read on a smartphone or electronic device, meaning that each episode is designed to be scrolled through in normally about 5 minutes. The fact that Webtoons are both a) serialised and b) short means that there is enormous potential for some serious slowburn romance shenanigans, with a lot of webtoons pushing 100+ (even 200+) episodes, which ultimately means that I have become total, total trash.

So here’s some recommendations, so that y’all can suffer too!

 

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