This section of my yearly reading challenge centred mainly around the works of Jodi Taylor, Terry Pratchett and Alan Dean Foster. I’m still working my way through The Chronicles of St Marys, Discworld and Alien series bit by bit.
36. Pyramids – Terry Pratchett
37. Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett
38. A Symphony of Echoes – Jodi Taylor
39. Alien: Covenant Origins – Alan Dean Foster
40. When a Child is Born – Jodi Taylor
41. A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor
42. Star Wars: Cloak of Deception – James Luceno
43. Roman Holiday – Jodi Taylor
44. Unseen Academicals – Terry Pratchett
45. Alien: Covenant – Alan Dean Foster
46. Star Wars: Episode 1 – Terry Brooks
47. Knightmare Arcanist – Shami Stovall
48. Alien – Alan Dean Foster
49. Christmas Present – Jodi Taylor
50. My Best Friend Runs Venus – Katrina S. Forest
I think my favourite of the selection was probably Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall (you can read my very short review here.)
It didn’t take long to complete this portion, so I’ve upped the book count to 25 for the next 2 sections. So up next is:
Despite a majorly slow start to the year, I have managed to complete my first reading challenge of the year! 24 books in total!!
I couldn’t have done this without the revelation that audiobooks and absolutely the bee’s knees, the cat’s pyjamas and the dog’s whatsits! I listen to them all the time now, and it’s been brilliant. I’m particularly loving the Star Wars audiobooks as the production value is awesome, what with sound effects, background music and some mostly spot-on impersonations of well-loved characters.
So without further ado, here is the full list of books I’ve read for this challenge:
1. Descendant of the Crane – Joan He
2. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett
3. The Wee Free Men – Terry Pratchett
4. Monstrous Regiment – Terry Pratchett
5. Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett
6. A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett
7. Mort – Terry Pratchett
8 Going Postal – Terry Pratchett
9. Kids Write Jokes – Various
10. Business Cat: Hostile Takeovers – Tom Fonder
11. Rolled & Told Vol. 1 – E. L. Thomas
12. Thud! – Terry Pratchett
13. Sourcery – Terry Pratchett
14. The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons – Various
15. Tamamo the Fox Maiden and Other Asian Stories – Various
16. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
17. Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett
18. Little Witches: Magic in Concord – Leigh Dragoon
19. Darkwood – Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
20. Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett
21. Emiline: Knight in Training – Kimberli Johnson
22. The Very First Damn Thing: A Short Story – Jodi Taylor
23. Star Wars: Tarkin – James Luceno
24. Star Wars: Ashoka – E. K. Johnston
You may notice there are a lot of Terry Pratchett books included in this list. I’m trying to finish the series on my kindle, and restart the series on audiobook. What can I say, I adore the Discworld.
My favourite book in this list was probably Star Wars: Tarkin by James Luceno. You can find a quick review of this book here!
Next up on my reading list:
1. Star Wars: Dooku, Jedi Lost – Cavan Scott
2. Just One Damn Thing After Another – Jodi Taylor
3. Pyramids – Terry Pratchett
4. Making Money – Terry Pratchett
Next target is set at 35 books! Can I get there before my birthday? (17th July) Who knows!
TL;DR – A smashing tale of war, love, magic and gods, with seriously strong female characters
Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons
Recommended For: Fans of historical fantasy, fans of strong female leads
About the Book…
Amina is a princess, heir to the throne of Zazzau and a destiny of war and bloodshed. Amina must prove herself as a warrior and lead Zazzau against hordes of foreign enemies and strange magic. But the god of war has his sights set on Amina, and ruling the nation soon proves to be far more complicated than Amina could have possibly imagined.
Queen of Zazzau follows Amina from her beginnings as the heir apparent, through war and love and impossible bargains. The book takes place over some 80 years, during which Amina becomes a strong military leader, a Queen and the wife of a god. It is full to the brim with battles and magic, gods and romance.
What I thought…
I put off reading this book for a while as it is pretty long, clocking in at 510 pages – and what a selection of pages they are!
My favourite thing about this book is its lead character, Amina. Amina is a wonderful example of well-rounded, strong female lead. She’s powerful, clever, loving, dedicated – she is brilliant. We get to explore so many facets of Amina’s character as the story progresses, from romantic interests, battle tactics, diplomacy…even an unexpected pregnancy. Life throws so much at Amina, and she doesn’t take it lying down, but at the same time, she has this fragile side that feels so real – she struggles to keep going at times, allowing fear and panic to take hold of her. Amina is such a great character for so many reasons, and I’m super pleased to have read her story.
Another thing I loved was the way religion is explored in this book. Strictly speaking, the Zazzauwa are Muslim, but for many, if not most of them the old religion still exists – a host of other gods hold some sway over the workings of the world and I found it really interesting to see how the two quite disparate set of beliefs gelled together into a functioning belief system.
My only complaint about this book was the ending. Now, I need to say before I go further, that I didlike the ending – I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with it. Feel free to skip this paragraph as it does contain spoilers and isn’t hugely important.
So an old prophecy has linked Amina and the god of war for years, and when he first appears, Amina wants no part of it. She’s quite happy as she is, she is already in love with someone else but the god of war insists that she will be his eventually. This turns out to be true, but when she finally does go to him, she offers herself in exchange for his influence over a battle that will decide the fate of her kingdom and everyone in it. So Amina becomes his wife, and then the god drops the bombshell that she will now feel intense sexual desire, which he will only satisfy when he feels like it. She is free to sleep with other men, but they MUST die afterwards. I think we can all agree this is beyond creepy and straight up abusive – but that’s gods for you, those guys are jerks. Anyway, because of this, Amina is prevented from properly experiencing love for her entire life – which, incidentally, is spent eternally young, so for 80 years she can’t allow herself to love another man, instead of taking a number of ‘temporary husbands’ and killing them, or periodically having sex with the god of war. Which brings us to the end. Turns out, after all this, she completely loves the god of war and they ride off into the sunset together.
OK spoilers over, on to my point. As I’ve said in other reviews, I’m autistic – I have trouble understanding how other peoples minds work. But to me, the end doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure what I would have wanted in its place, and I’m not begrudging the bitter-sweet ending, but still, it doesn’t sit quite right with me. But that could just be my weird interpretation – don’t let it prevent you reading the book and making up your own mind.
This book is an epic tale with so much to love about it. I’m really pleased I read it and will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for anything J.S. Emuakpor might release in the future.
Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!
That’s right you beautiful somebodies. The big day is here, the wait is finally over. The categories are being revealed so you can go out and stockpile your books ready for next year.
Before anything else, a request. Please, please, PLEASE spread this about, I’d love for people to get involved. Share it anywhere you like (as long as you link it back here, or to @RagdollReads on twitter). If you or somebody you know decides to take up the challenge, let me know. Now back to what you came here for.
The reading challenge is in three parts. Light Reading, Regular and Serious Book Dragon editions.
12 categories – one book for each category. (Plus a special WILDCARD category for the holidays)
That’s one book per month, and one bonus book for the holiday season.
That’s right you beautiful somebodies (especially the beautiful somebody who has been checking back pretty much every day for this news, I super love you), in 5 sweet, sweet days, I will be revealing the categories for the official Ragdoll Reads 2019 Reading Challenge!!
In case you don’t know about the challenge, here are some deets!
There are three levels;
Serious Book Dragon
The level you choose will depend on how many books you think you can manage.
The Lite Reading edition contains 12 categories plus a special bonus category. That’s a book a month, and one for luck!
The Regular edition contains 24 categories plus a special bonus category.
The Serious Book Dragon edition contains a whopping 52 categories, 4 ‘free reads’ and a super special bonus category.
The editions build on each other, so if you completed the Lite Reading challenge, you would have completed half the categories from the Regular edition. You see? Fun!
I would loooove it if people got on board with this, and if you do plan on doing the challenge, please let me know in the comments or hit me up on twitter (@RagdollReads)!
Apparently it’s been 2 weeks since I did on of these, the reason being that the last two weeks have been all kinds of horrible. I’ve been ill, my brain has been fighting against me and not a lot got done. BUT I started my new degree and managed to get some studying done, so I’m calling it a victory.
This week I’ve been suuuuper busy. I’ve reworked my entire WIP into a format closely resembling it’s original outline, and shunted the trimmings into a separate project, and I’ve written something like 20 pages in the last couple of days which is pretty good for me. I also semi-accidentally wrote a worship song with my little sisters, which for a non-christian was a pretty strange experience, but there you are.
Rating: Exceptional (Book of the Month August 2018)
A popular author’s first book.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)
“Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.” (Newspaper clipping…do I really need to tell you what this is about?)
Rating: 4/5 Buttons
A book turned movie you’ve seen but haven’t read.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (2009)
A group of boys are trapped in a colossal maze, filled with murderous machines. One day, a girl is dumped in their midst and then everything goes wrong, fast!
Rating: 5/5 Buttons
A book turned TV show you’ve seen but haven’t read.
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie (2012)
If you like the whole “Sleepy little town has more murders than small countries” genre, and you like priests you’ll probably like this book.
A book about Gods, their dwindling power and the coming war. This book is cleverly crafted, brilliantly written and endlessly entertaining. Once again Gaiman delivers a cracking read! A must have for fans of fantasy and myths.
So there we have it. Badass Books Reading Challenge #3 is complete. I’m only 8 books away from completing Reading Challenge: Around the World 2018, and 16 books away from 100 books total, which I reckon I should manage by the end of the month.
Last thing before I go:
Top 3 of the Challenge:
You gotta pick a top three, so here are mine (Drum roll please):
You should go out and read these books immediately!!
Finally, a big thank you to mehawkins.com for writing the reading challenge in the first place.
I got this book signed at a talk Gaiman did at Ely Cathedral years ago – it’s the pride of my book collection! I read it again today (all in one sitting) because I’ve been trying to read books aimed with a younger audience in mind (as I am trying to write a book for younger audiences) and this is probably my favourite of them all.
Coraline Jones is bored. She has just moved house, her parents are busy working, her toys are not fun anymore and there is nothing for her to do. Until she discovers a doorway to another world – a world full of colour, with attentive parents, delicious food and excitement by the bucket-load.
But all is not what it seems, and Coraline must learn the a lesson in the hardest way possible. The grass ain’t always greener on the other side – and if it is, it’s probably poisonous!
Why I love It…
I freely admit I am biased. I adore Gaiman’s work, but there is a reason for that. I like the way the man writes. It dances merrily between serious and silly, formal and informal. Behind it’s sometimes playful wording, lies a seriously creepy tale of terror. It’s the kind of thing I wish I’d been read as a child, or alternatively, wish I had a child to read it to.
I love Coraline (the character). Her motivations are so believable, boredom, curiosity, and a vague sense that nobody is really interested in her or her thoughts lead her to dive into this new and exciting world. But she is also clever, brave, resourceful and ever so caring. It would be so easy for her to have just stayed in the Other world (except, perhaps, for having buttons sewn onto her eyes), but instead she risks her own safety to save the souls trapped by the Other mother.
I also love the supporting characters. Gaiman has a knack for making characters interesting in as few words as possible. It’s a skill I infinitely admire, and am super jealous of. Characters such as Mr Bobo (Bobinski in the film), and his all-mouse circus.
‘The reason you cannot see the mouse circus’ said the man upstairs, ‘is that the mice are not yet ready and rehearsed. Also, they refuse to play the songs I have written for them. All the songs I have written for the mice to play go oompah oompah. But the white mice will only play toodle oodle, like that. I am thinking of trying them on different types of cheese.’
One paragraph and Mr Bobo and his world have come instantly to life. I can’t think of many authors who can make me so interested in the inner workings of a supporting character in so few words – heck, many can’t do it in a whole book.
I would also love to talk about how much I love the ending of this book – specifically the part about the picnic – but I can’t think of a way to do so without spoiling the ending for those who haven’t read it, so you’ll just have to trust me that it is wonderful.
I recommend this book to everyone. Everybody should read this book at some point. It’s fun, it’s creepy and it’s brilliantly told. It is a beautiful example of the art of writing. Although I should point out that it could scare the impressionable youngsters (depending on their temperament), but they should read it anyway and just accept that being scared is a price well paid for such excellent and fun reading.
I love this book. The children I used to work with (primary school) loved this book. My sister saw the film this book inspired, and was completely (and hilariously) traumatised by how scary it was. It is truly excellent. Read it. Immediately.
Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!