The Book of the Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick | Blabber

The Book of Dead Days (Book of Dead Days, #1)The Book of the Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick
YA Fantasy
Read Dec 26 2020 – Feb 16 2021
Published 2003
273 pages
Spoiler-free blabber

Unfortunately this book wasn’t for me.

I picked this book up after owning it for probably twelve years. I purchased it back then on a recommendation from a friend, as it’s one of her favorite books (sorry, friend!) This past Christmas, I decided to finally read it, picking up on the 26th, the first day of ‘The Dead Days’ in the book, which are the days between Christmas and New Years, thinking it’d be a ‘festive’ way to end the year.

Well, the book I was supposed to finish it five days took me a month and a half, and honestly with my final opinion of it, in retrospect that doesn’t shock me.

This book follows a boy named Boy and the wizard he works for named Valerian. Valerian did something dumb in his youth and sold his soul in a deal, and at the end of the Dead Days, whatever the thing is is coming to collect. The premise sounded good, so I was interested upon starting the book.

Unfortunately that was one of only two things I liked about this book. I’ll start with the other positive thing though: I really liked the tone. The author was able to creative this muted, dreary, slightly disenchanted tone that matches the day after Christmas perfectly. It felt like all the build and up magic we get during December just disappears overnight, and this book really nailed that. I started reading this during those days obviously, but even after in January and February, the tone held up, and I still felt like it was right after Christmas. So points for that.

But otherwise, this book was a bit of a let down. I started reading and quickly realized that Valerian, the one whose soul is at risk, is a jackass. Now I have nothing against unlikable characters, but he treats Boy, the one person who’s trying to help him, like shit the entire book. I was told upon noticing Valerian was a jerk, that he’d grow on me over time or that he got better. Well, no. He was an ass up until the end, and it made the plot feel meaningless to me. I didn’t care if he died or not and I didn’t see why Boy was so loyal the whole time. Honestly Boy started grating on my nerves after a while as a result. He had no agency and felt very flat. The blind loyalty to someone who treated him in such a way was astonishing and felt very unrealistic. His thoughts didn’t even stray. I can understand being stuck in a situation you can’t escape from – I get that – but even his thoughts didn’t suggest that he anything but loyal, even while acknowledging his master was a jerk. It really rubbed me the wrong way.

The only character I liked in the book was Willow, who was similar to Boy in situation but actually displayed some agency. She questioned and challenged Valerian’s behavior more than once, and Boy basically reacted by saying ‘augh stop don’t do that’ and Valerian was like ‘why aren’t you more like Boy, mindless just obeying me?’. Like Boy was such a formulaic character that it was even known to the other characters how flat he was. At first I thought Boy was this way for a reason and would go through huge character growth and get some self-respect by the end of his character arc, buuuuut nope. It was frustrating.

The book also set up a bunch of questions that were hinted at throughout the book, and during the ‘big reveal’ at the end they were ‘revealed’…. but not really. We never actually got any answers to any of the questions Boy brought up throughout the story, despite Valerian saying over and over he’d answer them. I get the Valerian probably didn’t know, but setting it up this way created a promise and didn’t give a payoff. It felt very lack-luster, and the book ended without feeling complete. I know there’s a sequel and there’s a chance the questions will be answered, but the ‘fake’ way the reveal happened towards the end was obviously used as just a plot point to get the main character to do what the plot needed him to do, and it felt very forced.

Speaking of the ending, man was it rushed. The climax of the book I swear happened with five pages left in the thing and then it happened and that was it. No wind down, no nothing afterward. Basically the characters were like ‘wow huh that happened’ and then the end. It was very jarring and unsatisfying. I want to try to give it a break because it’s YA fiction but honestly I feel like that’s an insult to YA fiction, as I’ve read some excellent YA fiction. The premise had promise, but I feel the delivery fell really, really flat.

So yeah overall I liked very little about this book. But I was interested in it enough to finish it, so that’s something.

Perhaps this book will be for you, as I know my friend and a lot of people really like it, but it was not for me.

2 stars

March Currently Reading! ’21

Happy March! This is what I’m currently reading!

Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead – This is my current audio book and honestly it’s pretty slow going. I’m a little over half way through at the moment. It’s not bad but I haven’t been sucked in or anything.

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas – Shortly after posting my haul, I realized I forgot to include this book. Whoops – I’ll put it in next month’s. This came out earlier this month and I dove right into it. I’m about two thirds through. It’s… exactly how every one of this author’s books are. It’s fun but it’s also completely ridiculous.

Dragon Wing by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman – This is my current buddy read with Zezee @Zezeewithbooks! So far I’m rather digging it, though it is a tad slow. It’s not bad at all though and I’ve laughed out loud during the thing a few times now.

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin – This is my current buddy with an irl friend! We read the first one last month and adored it, so we picked this one up right away. So far, we’re loving this, too!


And that’s it! Happy reading!

February Wrap Up! ’21

Happy end of February! My reading month was pretty decent, though I admit my blogging has suffered a bit. I’m hoping to turn it around in March, but we’ll see how it goes.

This is what I read:

Books

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin – I’m very late to this train, but I absolutely loved this book. I did a blabber on it earlier this month, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. This story takes place in a world that ends over and over again, and follows the people trying to live there.

5 stars

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett – This was another favorite of the month, I absolutely adored it. A review for this one though likely won’t be coming, just because it’s been so long since I finished it. But who knows, maybe I’ll get inspired. But I loved this book just as much as the one above – I couldn’t pick a favorite between the two.

5 stars

The Book of the Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick – Unfortunately this book really disappointed me. I picked it up off a recommendation from one of my buddies so I was hoping to love it, buuuuut I didn’t. I felt the ending was too abrupt, and the characterization was one dimensional. I tried to read this with a mindset knowing it was middle grade or just above but I feel like I would have disliked this even if I had been twelve. Sorry pal.

2 stars

Manga

Ouran High School Host Club vols 8-18 by Bisco Hatori – I finished it! I finished my reread! Well, according to Goodreads it’s my “initial” read, but I did read it back in 2006 or so during high school. This reread though showed that the series holds up over the test of time. There are definitely some jokes in it that haven’t aged well, but overall? it’s pretty good. It was just as funny and sweet as I remember, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

3.25 stars – 4.5 stars each

Shaman King vol 9 by Hiroyuki Takei – I’m really trying to catch up with this series. My sister lent it to me back in like April or May, so I’d have something to read during the plague, but I’m a bad sister and haven’t binged it yet like she’d hoped. I’m hoping to get a lot farther into it in March, or even complete it. We shall see.

So far the story is pretty decent. This specific volume wasn’t my favorite but I do like the series overall.

3.25 stars

Fanfiction

No striking ones this month, but I feel like that’s going to change in March. I’ve been eyeing another DBZ fanfic, and was just waiting for the right time to start it.


2021 Reading Goals

  • Read 100 books – 24/100
  • Reduce physical fiction tbr to 185 – 215
  • Reduce manga tbr to 50 – 147
  • Maintain blog schedule – 
    • January: Good
    • February: Passable
  • Finish my 10 in 2021 list – 1/10

Stats

  • 15 things read this month
    • 3 novels
    • 12 manga
  • 9 things purchased this month
    • 3 novels
    • 6 manga
    • Total money spent: 133.80
  • Genre breakdown:
    • 3 fantasy
    • 11 shojo
    • 1 paranormal

And that’s it! Lemme know how your reading month went!

February book and manga haul! #47

Happy Saturday! This month I picked up a few things, mostly manga, but there’s a couple books in there too. This is what I got:

As you can see, I picked up eight things – two books, six manga!

  • Inuyasha Vizbig editions vols 9 and 10 by Rumiko Takahashi – I finally caved. I’ve been collecting the original editions of this manga for years, but they’ve gone out of print and with the sequel coming out and the series getting popular again, the single volumes have become really hard to find, and when I do find them, they’re expensive. So I’ve decided to just pick up where my singles left off and get the bind up editions which are still in print and much more affordable. I believe I have eight more bind up volumes to get after this before I have the full collection!
  • O Maidens in Your Savage Season vols 7 and 8 by Mari Okada – These are the last two volumes in the series, now my collection is complete! I picked up this series I think two years ago and loved it. I’m gonna do a whole reread of this, I’m pretty pumped about it.
  • Given vol 5 by Natsuki Kizu – I need to catch up on this series. I loved the anime and at this point in the manga, it has to be past the end of the first season. Here’s hopin’.
  • Magus of the Library vol 4 by Mitsu Izumi – Same with this series, I need to catch up! I read the first volume and adored it. I’m hoping to binge the whole thing at some point here.
  • The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin – After completely adoring the first book, I had to pick these two up right away. I’m in the middle of the second one now and I’m really liking it.

And that’s it! If you’ve read any of the above, let me know! Happy reading!

Top 10 books that made me laugh out loud

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl

Happy Tuesday! Today’s topic is books that made me laugh. This is one of the few topics where I actually had a hard time narrowing it down, as opposed to having a hard time finding enough books. Originally, I came up with over 20 books that made me laugh, and I’ve narrowed it down to these, in no particular order:

Dragon Wing by Margart Weis and Tracy Hickman – This one I’m actually currently reading. There’s one perspective – a dwarf – that really has me tickled. Each time I get a chapter from his pov, I find myself giggling like a madwoman.

Absolutely Boyfriend by Yuu Watase – This is a six volume comedic romance about robot boyfriends, heavy on the comedy. I reread it for the first time since high school earlier this year and really enjoyed it. It’s so ridiculous..

Black Butler by Yana Toboso – I read this one recently – early 2020 – and fell in love. It’s hilarious, on top of all of its other amazing qualities.

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett – Again, a recent read. I wasn’t expecting this one to be funny but it really surprised me. It was hilarious. Especially any scenes with Clef, they cracked me up.

Mogworld by Yahtzee Chroshaw – I expected this one to be funny, as it’s written by the guy who does Zero Punction, but I still found myself surprised at how funny it was. This book was great.

Demon Diary by Kara – This is a seven volume comedy series about a young demon who has no idea what he’s doing being made into a demon lord. It’s cute and fluffy and so entertaining.

Life, The Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams – I feel like Adams is an obvious choice for this list. This one is my favorite so far.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks – The narration in this has a bit of comedy in it itself, but the one character Kip is hilarious. He’s one of my favorites.

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud – This is a series I read back when I was a teen, and I remember cracking up at Bartimaeus. He’s a djinn and he’s so funny. So sassy.

Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi – While this isn’t a comedy persay, it has a lot of comedic elements that are portrayed very well through the art style. This is a good one.

~~~

And that’s it! Books that make me laugh tend to automatically get high marks from me. I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for a good joke.

The Reread Tag!

Happy Day! Today I’m doing the reread tag, which I found on Zezee @Zezeewithbooks‘s blog. It was created by Brianna @Brianna’sBooksandRandomness. I wasn’t tagged but I can always pretend.

A childhood favorite you could read 100 times and still love

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – It was a staple book for me growing up. I have no idea how many times I’ve actually read it. Somewhere over 20 at least.

A book you DNF’d but would be willing to give a second chance to

The Atlantis Complex (Artemis Fowl #7)

The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer – As much as I love the first, second, and third Artemis Fowl books and consider those staples, for me as the series progressed, the worse the books got. I ended up DNF-ing this one, the seventh one. Though I can see myself giving it another try at some point, just because I do own the eighth and final book and do want to know how it ends. We’ll see.

A new favorite you would reread

Black Butler, Vol. 1 (Black Butler, #1)

Black Butler by Yana Toboso – This series ended up on my favorites list in 2020, and I do plan on rereading the first 28 volumes again before picking up vol 29. Hopefully vol 30 won’t be too far off either.

A book you hated and never want to read again

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 1 (Light Novel)

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime vol 1 by Fuse – This book made my bottom books of 2020 list, and I have 0 interest in giving it another shot nor continuing with the series.

A classic you read in school but want to try again

1984

1984 by George Orwell – I remember disliking this book when I was 17 because I wanted a happy ending. Now, I feel like I could appreciate the ending it did have more.

An author you would reread anything from

Hiromu Arakawa

Hiromu Arakawa, author of Fullmetal Alchemist, Silver Spoon, and artist of The Heroic Legend of Arslan. Everything I’ve picked up that she’s been associated with, I’ve loved. Any time she puts out something new, I’ll be all over it. Master storyteller, I’m tellin ya.

A series you want to reread for the fun of it

The Black Prism (Lightbringer, #1)

Eventually I’d like to reread Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer series, but that will involve me finishing book five for the first time first :p

A book you’ve read but want to listen to the audio book

Assassin's Fate (The Fitz and the Fool, #3)

Basically any of the books in Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings world. I read all sixteen books physically but am considering picking them up on audio for a reread. We’ll see!


And that’s it! If you’d like to do this tag, consider yourself tagged. Happy reading!

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin | Blabber

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
Book 1 of the Broken Earth trilogy
Published 2015
468 pages
Spoiler-free blabber

Just like I said in my blabber of Foundryside posted the other day, I was very late to this train, and very mad at myself for waiting so long. I buddy read this with my irl friend, and we both adored it (and are both neck deep into book two at this point).

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like this book before.

I’ve read a lot of fantasy during my thirty years of being a human, and have experienced more of it through video games and tv and movies and whatnot, but this world is definitely a unique one.

Sloppy synopsis:

This book is set in a world that keeps ending, and it follows the characters trying to live in it. There are three main points of view in the story, each located at a different place on this continent riddled with earthquakes and volcanoes and other apocalypsey kinds of things, and it tells the story of their lives.

In this world are creatures who eat stone, giant obelisks that hang out in the sky – forgotten relics of civilizations past, and people who can sense the earth moving under their feet. All three perspectives are such people. When earthquakes happen, they can quell them with their abilities, or make them worse.

The story sets up an interesting social hierarchy, placing these earth-sensers, orogenies, in a lower tier of people. They’re valuable, as they can stop an earthquake from demolishing a great city, but they’re also seen as less than. Between them, the stone eaters, the people who can’t sense the earth, and the Guardians – a group of people whose task it is to monitor the orogenies, a political undercurrent is created and fuels a large part of the story, on top of all the world-ending catastrophies.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the social commentary this book provided. It touched on humanity, on respect given and received, and what happens when that isn’t balanced. The narrative from all three perspectives touched on this in different ways, each one interacting with an aspect of this established social hierarchy. I found it interesting and compelling.

The writing as well, was very readable. This was another one that I read my target number of buddy read pages each week in one sitting. I just couldn’t put the thing down. The first chapter opens in a jarring way: the world is yet again ending again outside – screams and earthquakes can be felt and heard, but the pov character is inside her house, and her world is already ending in a different fashion. Her son lays dead in her arms, murdered by his father, who has fled with their daughter.

That’s how the book opens, with that scene of many worlds ending at the same time.

And honestly it made me fall in love with the book right away. The pov is written from second person, which makes the scene all the more jarring and the more captivating. The narratives from the other perspectives were just as submersive. As the story progressed and we found out more about orogenies, the social system, and the geographical instabilities of the world, the more I was completely enraptured.

The back of the book has an appendix in it as well, as the narrative mentions multiple previous world-ended events in passing. It was fascinating reading about all of them. Each apocalypse is called a Fifth Season. And really, what sounds more interesting than an apocalypse known in the history books as ‘The Season of the Teeth’?

This book was just so fascinating. The stone eaters were neat, the orogenies were neat, how people lived on the land was neat. The social dynamics that evolved due to the constant barrage from the earth was neat. It was all just so neat.

The characters themselves, while I wouldn’t always call them ‘likeable’ were very believable. I don’t think the main characters were written to be entirely good or evil, but were written to be human – there were all sorts of gray decisions these characters made, either motivated through personal desire or through necessity. The back drop of a chaotic planet only made the potentially powerful decisions that more necessary.

So overall, this book was awesome. So awesome that I’ve run out and grabbed the next two in the series and plan on reading them right away (already in the second!) My buddy reader and I both loved this book, easy five stars. My expectations for this one were a bit high, considering it won a Hugo when it came out (and then so did its sequel the next year and then so did its sequel the year after that, which is unprecedented) and I gotta say, it totally lives up to the hype. This is a fantastic book.

5 stars

Top 10 Mardi Gras colored covers!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl!

Happy Tuesday! Aside from yesterday, my blog has been a bit quiet. This tends to happen to me after Blogmas finishes out – it’s like I burn out for a couple weeks. But I think I’m getting out of it now. I still intended to post the eight planned posts for February, they’ll just be on different days than originally intended.

So today’s topic is gonna help that: Mardi Gras colored covers – ie covers that are yellow, green, or purple.

Here’s a stack of ’em:

Some of these I’ve read, some I haven’t. I gotta tell ya though, I had plenty of yellow and green spines to pick from, but the purples shown are almost all the purples I own, minus one or two. If I ever publish a book, I’m going to make it have a purple spine, just to bolster the numbers for poor people like me who want purple books in their pictures! Rah!

If you’ve read any of the above, do let me know. :”D Happy reading.

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett | Blabber

Foundryside (The Founders Trilogy #1)Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet
Book 1 of the Founders Trilogy
512 pages
Published 2018
Fantasy
Spoiler-free blabber

I am very late to this train. When this book first came out two (three?!?) years ago, I remember seeing it on the favorites lists of a lot of people. The premise of it did pique my interest at the time, but I felt no need to immediately pick it up.

Why did I do myself dirty like that?

Last month, I picked this up as part of a buddy read with Meredith @Allboutthembooksandstuff, a friend of mine that I’ve had since I was a teenager. I gotta tell ya, we both ended up absolutely adoring this book. I’m a bit mad that I waited so long to jump on the hype train.

Sloppy synopsis:

This book in set in a city ruled over by four merchant houses, each of whom have their territory walled off within the city limits. Anyone who doesn’t belong to one of the houses lives in the Commons, the area between the walls. The main character Sancia lives there, not belonging to any merchant house, nor to anybody else in particular. The narrative opens on her sneaking into a building to steal an item she’s been hired to steal. She doesn’t know what it is or what it does, she just knows that the buyer is willing to pay a lot of money. And right away, we’re introduced to the magic system, which I think is one of the coolest parts about this book: scriving.

Scriving is magic system based on written sigils that are carved into objects to change their reality. The sigils range from simple to mind-bogglingly complex. For instance, a sigil could be written on a carriage to make it think it’s always on a slope, therefore should be moving because it’s only natural to move downhill. And boom, you get a carriage that moves on its own, without the need for horses to pull it. Sancia herself has been altered by sigils – a metal plate in her skull, inscribed with the things, allow her to know objects. All she needs to do is touch them, and she learns their makes, their histories, and their weak points. Perfect skills for a thief, who needs to know if there are people standing on the floors in the next room.

So the story starts from there, with Sancia stealing this object and having to deal with the resulting consequences. The narrative introduces a cast of characters ranging from human to beyond.

My thoughts:

My favorite thing about this book was the humor. A character is introduced very shortly into the beginning that Sancia is able to use her scrived brain to communicate with, and their banter is so amusing. The character himself is sassy and quick-witted. Sancia too has a wry sense of humor about most things that happen throughout the story. I laughed out loud multiple times throughout the book. I really love it when a serious plot is interwoven with light-hearted-ness and the author here pulled it off perfectly.

Most characters I feel were developed pretty well, namely Sancia, Orso, and Clef. Orso is a scriving master, and his job is to carve sigils into items for the merchant house to which he belongs. Clef is well, a character that I can’t tell you about without it being a spoiler. But I feel that his character development throughout the book is really good. There were a couple characters I felt were a bit flat, and I’m hoping they get more development in book two. There was also a bit of a romance between two of the characters, and I’m not sure how I feel about how it was executed. I ship the characters mind you, but I feel the progression of the romance was a bit rushed. It’s a minor plot point though so I’m not super concerned about it, nor did my iffy feelings of it influence how I felt about the book as a whole.

The plot in itself was really interesting to me. In the synopsis I mentioned Sancia stealing an item without knowing what it was. The theft of it gets interwoven into a larger conflict, and involves ancient civilizations and carving new realities and beings that probably shouldn’t exist but do. I really love how vast the world felt, even though the entire book takes place within the confines of one city. It dove a bit into philosophy and ethics as well, touching on subjects like human experimentation, whether or not humans should be able to change the reality of the world, what happens when they do, and what is considered ‘ethical’ during wartime vs peace time. The various characters have different opinions on it obviously, and the topics are handled in a way that feel realistic.

The pacing as well was great. At no point did the story lag. I never felt like I was trudging along. Most of the time, I read the entire section of book I was to read each week for the buddy read in one sitting. It was really hard to actually put the book down and wait until the day we could talk about what we’d read so far.

Overall, I really loved this book, and I know Meredith did as well. It gets a definite five stars from me. Easy peasy. We plan on picking up book two in a couple months, and then we’ll pine, waiting until book three is released.

But yeah if you’ve been on the fence about picking this one up, definitely do it.

5 stars

February Currently Reading!

Happy February! Right now I’m reading some neato books! This is what they are:

Hood by Stephen R Lawhead – This is my current audio book! It’s a retelling of Robin Hood (obviously). So far it’s pretty decent! I’m luke-warm to Robin Hood to begin with, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to take to this one. But so far, I like it!

The Book of the Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick – I’ve been reading this one since the day after Christmas. The ‘Dead Days’ in the book are the days between Christmas and New Year’s, so I was hoping to finish it during those days. But hey, it didn’t happen, and that’s ok. This is about a magician that makes a deal that comes back to bite him, and he has only until the end of the dead days to set it right. So far it’s pretty good! It’s a bit slow paced, but it’s very interesting and atmospheric.

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett – This is one of two buddy reads I have going right now, and man I love this book. I’m only a tad over half way through so far but I am absolutely smitten. If I’m being honest, I was a bit unsure of this one, mostly because of the hype, but augh it totally deserves it. This story follows a thief and a written magic and a heist and ancient beings and… and and it’s so good! It’s awesome! And it’s funny to boot.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin – This is my other buddy read and I’m pretty smitten with this one, too. I’m very late to the bandwagon with this book and I wish I would have read it sooner. It’s so interesting – the world, the characters, the magic, the society, the history, all of it. I don’t even know how to describe this. Uh… This book is set in a world that ends over and over, and it’s about the people who live in it. I don’t really wanna saw more than that. It’s. Fantastic. I’m about three-fourths through it, and hope to finish this week!

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And that’s it! Four books that I’m currently reading, and I have many more planned for this month. Let me know if you’ve read any of these!