My Top 4 Summer Reads of 2018

Googling “when is summer” brings up some helpful results – June 21st to September 23rd, apparently. But, for me, summer ends on September 1st with the Hogwarts Express. For that reason, I’m going to be doing my top 4 summer reads between those two dates!

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I’ve had a pretty great summer, working my first summer camp, going away with my family, and generally just chilling. Now it’s time to go back to university and face up to the reading lists, but I thought I’d reminisce about some summer reads, and perhaps give you some recommendations too! These books are in no particular order, but we shall start with…

White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock (read: 25th July)

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I really loved this book, so much. The ending completely fucked with my mind, and then I was lucky enough to meet Tom at YALC, and he is honestly one of the nicest guys in the whole world. I really wish I could buy him a cup of coffee and talk about books and knives and stuff.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James (read: 27th July)

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This book was so heart-raising, I swear I spent most of it with my heart pumping 100bpm+! There were so many twists & turns, I loved the climax and the ending, and it’s gotten me really interested in reading books about space. I think, for example, I might try and pick up The Martian by Andy Weir pretty soon. (That one kinda helps that Sebastian Stan is the movie, BUT STILL.)

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (read: 8th August)

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Have I shouted at you about how much I love Dame Agatha Christie? No? Well, deep breath, because AGATHA CHRISTIE IS AMAZING AND YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY READ AT LEAST ONE BOOK OF HERS IN YOUR LIFE TIME AND IF YOU ARE GOING TO READ ONLY ONE, MAKE IT THIS ONE. *gasps* Seriously, this book is FANTASTIC and I loved it, and you should definitely read it.

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (read: 18th – 19th August)

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This is the third in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, and I can’t decide if I preferred the 2nd or 3rd one more, but I think this one. Despite the second two books being like 500+ pages, I still read them in only a couple of days because the plot and characters draw me in completely! Absolutely love this trilogy, I really wish I’d read it sooner.

Honourable mentions also go to Big Bones by Laura Dockrill, Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake, Sadie by Courtney Summers, and Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. I loved all of these books, too!

Overall, between 21st June – 1st September, I read 23 books, yay! Just glancing at the star ratings on Goodreads, my average rating seems to be about 3.5/5; I read some books that I didn’t like as much, but, as you can see above, I also read some crackers.

And out of all those 23 books, I read 13 in one day! As in…. 13 books in 13 days. 13 books in one day would probably be a world record! I’ve started reading entire books in single days a lot more now, and then having a break between novels. It’s quite a nice way to do it, because I can get sucked all the way in, but I think that reading books over multiple days draws out the enjoyment a little more. Hmm, maybe this is a topic for another blog post!

Turning the Page #4 | a new favourite book?

Turning the Page is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. In it, I talk about what I read during the week with a Tweet-sized review, and what I’m planning on reading next week, as well as what you might’ve missed on the blog. You’re very welcome to join in if you’d like! Just make sure to link back.

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This week I read…

I read two very thought-provoking books this week, and loved them both.

  1. Image result for the tobacconistThe Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler – this was a just a really brilliant book set in Vienna in 1937/38. Through the view of a young man, Seethaler explores subjects like love, family, truth, and freedom. I’d so recommend this book to everyone, and it’s a new favourite.
  2. Secrets for the Mad by dodie – this is the kind of book I would love to write. I love reading Dodie’s views on love, life, and mental health. She’s so relatable, and doesn’t hide from the truth. I really enjoyed this memoir.

Next week I want to read…

I don’t really have a set TBR for next week, but I think I would like to get to…

  1. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig – two mental health books so close together might be pushing it for me, but I’d love to read it soon!
  2. something fantasy – I haven’t decided what, exactly, yet, but I’m in a fantasy mood right now.

On the blog…

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I posted one of my all-time favourite blog posts this week, and it was…

  1. A review of the entire Rebel of the Sands trilogy (sans spoilers!) by Alwyn Hamilton. It’s around 1000 words, so quite lengthy, but I loved writing it!
  2. I also wrote about some totally bingeworthy book series that you should really give a chance!

So that’s my week in books! How was yours?

Book Series Review | Rebel of the Sands trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton

This review will be SPOILER-FREE of all three books, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the entire series. I read them so close together, I actually think I’d have a hard time separating them into separate books! There will be a (large) spoiler paragraph towards the end, mainly probably talking about my bae, Sam. ❤

26047310Dustwalk is a deadly, unforgiving town, and Amani would do anything to escape it. When a stranger gives her that chance, she takes it without second thoughts. But dangerous creatures lurk in the night, the handsome stranger she escaped with isn’t all he seems, and Amani may be hurtling towards something bigger than she ever imagined she could be apart of. 

It took me a while to get into the first book – probably about 50 or 100 pages – but once I did, there was no way I was putting this trilogy down.

The first book had so much rich world-building, and I think that this brought it down a little. There was a lot of info-dumping of the myths, and I actually think that Hamilton could write and publish a separate book of all of the myths of Amani’s world. I would definitely read it, because she’s created some truly interesting stories, and they sound so realistic, too, as if they could be in any mythology in our world.

31574408Like I said, this series was a slow start. I’d tried to read it a couple of times before, but kept putting it down because I just wasn’t gripped at all. The writing style wasn’t particularly unfriendly, but there just seemed to be no real hook until Jin arrived. (Side note: JIN I LOVE YOU FOREVER.)

The actual story line can’t be taken much further than the first book without major spoilers, but I will tell you that it’s concerned with a Rebel Prince and a civil war. I think that civil war – which is what this boils down to – is something that happens surprisingly often, and so it was a great plot line for a fantasy world, linking it to our own real world.

Hamilton’s writing is refreshing because, and this isn’t an insult, it’s quite simple. There are no long metaphors, particularly, or epithets, and the lexis she chooses is simplistic but powerful enough that it evokes a really strong sense of location in the reader. I wanted to feel the sand between my toes, a sheema across my face, and a gun in my hands.

35406534The characters were just brilliant, because they’re all so different. I think that Hamilton showed really realistic relationships and connections – Amani and Jin are the typical YA couple, but even then they had a relatively slow-burn relationship. But when you’re in an environment as harsh as Amani’s, and you’ve saved each other’s lives a couple of times, it’s understandable that you form a strong connection.

ALSO, there is quite a large time jump between books 1 and 2 – a year. I think that this really helped move the characters along, establish the war in a lot more detail, and also helped with characters and their romantic relationships, and friendships. I really dislike it when books have unrealistic timelines, ie ones that seem to happy too quickly to be conceivable. Hamilton did a great job with the timescale in this series, I think.

Jin and Ahmed, his brother, had such a great relationship too, because it was a real sibling relationship, but with the added power imbalance too. I won’t say why they had this power imbalance (you work it out pretty quickly), but there were other really strong sibling relationships in this series as well. It’s a nice refreshing relief to know that not every character has a romantic partner (coughthroneofglasscough). AND FRIENDSHIPS! Can we talk about Amani and Shazad? Their friendship was my all time favourite thing.

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An example of the gorgeous new covers. I read the originals, so decided to share those in this review, but these are stunning and evoke a lot more of the books, I think!

Okay so this is going to be the spoiler paragraph, for ALL THREE BOOKS! Firstly, let’s discuss my favourite character – Sam. I don’t know if it’s because I have a weakness for men named Sam (don’t ask) or because he was just so broken and cute and clever and questioning himself and his morality or… wait, no, it’s because of those. I wish so hard that he’d survived the final book, and gone on to live a really happy life with Shazad! Secondly, speaking of Sam’s death, let’s talk about others. Hamilton didn’t mince the deaths in this book, and yes, it was cliche with Amani and Jin coming back, but I actually kinda liked it. I liked that it showed the Djinn, god-like creatures, had some of the humanity they breathed into the models of people they created in their own likeness.

The ending of this trilogy was so well put together that it a) brought tears to my eyes and b) has inspired me so much. I would love to write a trilogy like this, and the happiness that this series brings me is immense! I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favourite trilogy of all time, but it’s definitely staying on my bookshelf, and I’ve recommended it so much since finishing it a couple of weeks ago.

If you haven’t read Rebel of the Sands yet, I would highly recommend picking it up, and if you’re unsure about continuing the series, take my guarantee that books 2 & 3 are way better. I really hope that you enjoy this series as much as I do if you choose to read it!

Ratings: Book 1: 3.5/5 ; book 2: 5/5 ; book 3: 5/5

Goodreads book 1 ; book 2 ; book 3
Source: Book 1 bought from Waterstones, books 2 & 3 from Amazon


If you enjoyed this series, you may also enjoy… The Young Elites by Marie Lu

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