On 3… The Unadoptables

I know, I know, it’s been 100 years. I’m a bad blogger. I’m really sorry! I’m going to AIM for more consistency. But it seems that once I get one line of content running smoothly, the other falls apart.

Definitely check out my other content streams, because I like to try a little of everything! Anyway, enough about me, let’s get back to the review!

The Unadoptables

The Unadoptables 

I wanted to wait until #Believathon before I started this book for a couple of reasons. The first is, I don’t read Middle Grade or Children’s books very often, and the other is, when I have read Middle Grades or Children’s, they don’t evoke the same wonderment as the children’s books I read when I was – you know – a child. I can read YA for days but there’s always been some marshland I can’t find my footing in when it comes to Middle Grade.

Believathon is a readathon created by Gavin Hetherington (Although everyone knows him by his Booktube title: How To Train Your Gavin) to encourage readers to engage with Middle Grade. I’ve got 4 books lined up alongside The Unadoptables, and I’m hoping (with the use of his gorgeous map!) that I’ll be able to finally navigate those marshlands and discover some Children’s books that can rival those of my childhood.

I can see why other reviewers have compared The Unadoptables to Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet. It’s whimsical, charming and fun. The narrative is perched in the perspective of Milou, the leader and escape artist of the group. This is going to be a story of ‘found family’ and daring adventure.

There were times when I wondered if my enjoyment of the book really rested on its own shoulders. Maybe because I’d seen the comparisons before I went in, I noticed them more readily. How often the phrasing or plot seems familiar (to the point of taking you out of the story a little bit), and how predictable certain narrative points were. I really enjoy Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchet and Lemony Snicket. So is that why I enjoy this book so much? Possibly. Is that a problem? Not really. Hana Tooke has taken the elements I enjoyed as a child and reimagined them for an audience of 2020. And that’s just fine with me.

I’m sold. It was fun, and lively. Tooke’s Amsterdam feels like the real thing, although I’ve never been so I don’t know how helpful that is to you.

 

The Book Junkie Trials Readathon – Blackhearts.

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So, I’ve completed my first book for the readathon – and to be honest, I’m pretty proud of myself. I haven’t finished a book in two weeks since I was at school, and it’s nice to get that feeling of accomplishment even if the books was – and I’m being generous here – mediocre.

This will be an ‘uninterrupted’ book review, and will cover more than three chapters but first: a quick reminder of the prompt given and why I chose Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman.

“Dwarf Mount: You spot a fair tavern wench, however, the Dwarf Mines, grimey and dusty, didn’t evoke a very romantic feeling. Read a book with a hint of romance to get you in the mood.”

Blackhearts has been on my general TBR list for at least a year, and had lived in my Amazon wishlist for a year before that. It wasn’t a ‘recommended’ book, from either a friend or an algorithm, but the front cover intrigued me and the promises of passion and pirates ticked a lot of boxes.

On Three: Initial Response. 

The opening chapters delivered on the promises made by the blurb and the front cover. The audience is given two perspectives; Anne’s, who is a mixed-race maid, daughter to both a well-reputed merchant and a slave from the West Indies, and Teach, otherwise known as Edward ‘Teach’ Drummond, a ship’s captain and the son of the wealthiest merchant in Bristol.

We learn that Anne isn’t afraid to defend herself, after an altercation between the two main characters. Teach is immediately intrigued by Anne and there’s obvious sexual chemistry.

The one thing they have in common is that they’re prisoners of Teach’s father, the master of the house and cold fish. He’s not interested in his son’s passions for sailing, but wants him to be married to a Baron’s daughter as soon as possible so that the family can become titled.

The historical backdrop of Bristol in 1697 helps to cement the characters amongst brutal tradition and an inescapable destiny. We feel for Anne who is trapped, and hope that Teach might be the one to help her escape.

Upon finishing. *Spoilers ahead*.

Yeah. Hope springs eternal – I guess.

For the next twelve chapters, the characters are caught in a cyclical argument of

‘Just give me a chance.’ ‘No.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘You’re engaged, you’re a bad influence, your dad would be mad’.

All justifiable responses, but the narrative drags. Their actual ‘relationship’ lasts one chapter, before they’re torn apart through actions that are signposted to the point of being predictable earlier on in the story. A maid with a grudge finally gets Anne into a situation she can’t talk her way out of, and the only hint of Piracy is the threat hanging over Teach’s head after he’s accused. This also only lasts two chapters.

There’s no substance to this book. The conflict has no drive, and there are no real stakes. Anne becomes grating because she’s so determined to think one thing and then act another. And Teach’s behaviour is borderline problematic, but we’re supposed to forgive him because he’s in love with Anne.

TLDR:

I gave this book 2/5 stars on Goodreads, because it’s not awful. But it’s monotonous and I’m not running to the bookshop to buy the next in the series. Here’s hoping my next book for the readathon is better!

 

The Book Junkie Trial’s Readathon – The Reading List.

I’m taking part in a readathon.

Did I know readathon’s existed before last year? No. Was that because I didn’t watch enough Booktubers? Probably.

I’m 27 years old – and I’m not going to lie, I had to think about it for a second. Time was people would read a book, and then find a select group of friends you could talk about that book with. These people would be the bread and butter of your recommendations and book chat. Without them, your creativity might starve. Or you’d spend a lot of time at the library skimming through things you may or may not actually enjoy reading.

Then came the internet, and an inter-galaxy of opportunities to give your opinion and share reading experiences. And, unfortunately, until now I’ve not had the time to enjoy this outside of ‘reading for half an hour before going to bed.’ But since I’ve become self-employed and I’ve developed a Book Review Blog with my mum, I’ve made the time to read more. Which is why I’m taking part in a readathon.

Last year I set myself the goal of reading (and actually finishing) 12 books. One a month. Shouldn’t have been too difficult except it was. Whilst I was teaching, I couldn’t scrape five minutes for a smoothie let alone the hours it would take for me to enjoy 12 books. I’m by no means a ‘speed-reader’ and it blows my mind that there are wonderful people out there who ‘read the whole of the Harry Potter series in a weekend.’

Just know I’ve seen you. I respect you. I also kinda loathe you.

So I didn’t reach my target. Not even close. But it’s a new year, and I’ve got a new job that works to my own schedule. So I’m taking part in a readathon.

Scribes Map

Naomi (@TeatimewithNaomi) suggested The Book Junkie Trials, which was going to be a fantasy style readathon run by her majesty, Rachael Marie. It was the perfect choice. Her majesty organised a quiz to put you into a team, and I became a scribe. She created a map for each team and little additional ‘trials’ like sharing photos of your TBR and tweeting about your Daemon. Before the readathon had even started, I’d found a thousand new people to follow (only slight hyperbole) and all these like-minded, wonderful people wanted to talk to me about books! Dream accomplished. 

So I thought I’d post this before the readathon starts, because I’m going to be posting more blogs as I work through my reading list. Below is what I’ve chosen and why:

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The Prompts

1. Dwarf Mount: You spot a fair tavern wench, however, the Dwarf Mines, grimey and dusty, didn’t evoke a very romantic feeling. Read a book with a hint of romance to get you in the mood.

I chose Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman. It has been on my general TBR list for a while, and promises passion and pirates! Seemed like the perfect place to start.

2. Apothecary Towers: Where the wizards dwell. Tricksters. They have blind-folded you and randomised all your books, choose a book at random from your bookshelf.

Technically, I didn’t choose this, but Scarlet by Marissa Meyer was recommended to me by a friend after I threatened to give up on the series after thinking the first book, ‘Cinder’ was meh. Nothing wrong with Cinder, it just didn’t hold my interest as much as I wanted it to. And my two favourite characters died so it left me with very little root for. I’ve been promised book two in the series is worth going back for.

3. The Great Library: Ahh the great archives, find and read a book that has been on your TBR forever.

I bought Cruel Prince during the great hype of 2018. Which might not seem like forever ago, but we’re five months away from 2020. Just give yourself a minute to let that sink in. I avoided reading it because those who read and finished it before I could get my hands on a copy did not review it highly. So I kept putting it off and reading other things. So I guess it kinda counts.

4. The Drowning Deep: The Whirlpool… is so…. mesmerising. Read a book with rich world-building that will suck you into its own world, instead.

Because I’m a Scribe, the weakness attributed to me was ‘I spend too much time documenting my findings, so my challenges take longer. I must read a book over 500 pages.’ Turns out I’ve read quite a few books over 500 pages, but not within a month. I needed something with incredible world building and staying power. So I chose The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. Whilst I was on my MA course, I joined a creative writing group which focused on Fantasy called Moonrakers. So I got to spend a lot of time talking about fantasy with other fantasy nerds and just generally living my best life. Brandon Sanderson was quoted on a regular basis and even though I’ve read hundreds of fantasy books, I was promised by all that this was the author I needed to sink my teeth into. The hype is real, so I hope it delivers.

5. The Bookie Grail: Here you find a lost manuscript, delivered on this forgotten island by a fallen star. Read the group book: Stardust.

So, that’s my reading list. I’ve got 31 days to complete it. Wish me luck!