The Monthly Round-Up: August 2015

The Monthly Round-Up - augWelcome to the first post in my Monthly Round-Up feature. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!

| Books Read |

August Reads

August was pretty much my first month in the bookoblogosphere and, barring a few missed posts here and there, I don’t think it’s gone too badly! Over the course of this month I managed to get through ten books. Not bad. I even finished all those neglected classics that had begun to stack up on my currently reading pile. Hurrah! One goal complete and reviews for said classics will be appearing shortly! I’m moderately happy with ten books (actually, very happy!) but I would have liked to see more fantasy in the mix. I was obviously deceived by my reviews of fantasy novels from other months. Oh well, there’s nothing like self-deception to spur on new goals! So without further preamble, in order of reading, here are this month’s time consumers:

| 1. |

Agamemnon by Aeschylus

| 2. |

Inquisitor by Mitchell Hogan

| 3. |

The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

| 4. |

Armada by Ernest Cline

| 5. |

Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy

| 6. |

Pigs Have Wings by P.G. Wodehouse

| 7. |

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

| 8. |

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

| 9. |

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

| 10. |

Persuasion by Jane Austen 

Book of the Month


A Darker Shade of Magic

by V.E. Schwab

| August Goals |

To finish the classics on my currently reading pile (Agamemnon, Pigs Have Wings, The ABC Murders and Hard Times) 

Status: Completed

| Goals for 2015 |

Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge: 82/100 Books Read (82%)

Status: +10% during August

Dragons and Jetpacks 2015 Reading Challenge: 36/50 Books Read (72%)

Status: +12% during August

| Reviews Posted |

August has been a month of very good reviews, most of which were at the four and a half (heart shaped) star level! The highest rating given was five stars (awesome!) and the lowest rating given was three (still a good read!). Here’s the run-down:

5 Stars


The Scarab Path by Adrian Tchaikovsky

4 and a half Stars


The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd


The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe


The Somnambulist by Essie Fox


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab


Morningstar by David Gemmell

              4 Stars


Inquisitor by Mitchell Hogan

                  3 and a half stars


Armada by Ernest Cline

                                  3 Stars


Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy

| Other Posts From August |

The Month Ahead: August 2015 

Blast from the Past: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

Bookish Beats: The Machine OST

Bookish Beats: The Secret Garden OST

Bookish Beats: Röyksopp – The Inevitable End

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Authors on my Bookshelf

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Auto-buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books in Escapology 101

The Rapid Review: Crime Classic Firsts

N.B. Reviews can also be found in the Blast from the Past and The Rapid Review features

Review: Armada by Ernest Cline


by Ernest Cline

Science Fiction | 355 Pages | Published by Crown in 2015

| Rating |

three point five

I received this book from Blogging for Books in return for an honest review

I admit it, I’ve never read Ready Player One. In fact I’d never so much as heard of Ernest Cline *gasp* before Armada hit the shelves. So, when I received a copy of this book for review, I really didn’t know what to expect. Oh it sounded good, nay, awesome! – Science fiction you say? And it has aliens? And rock music?! And it pretty much revolves around video games?!! Well if you hadn’t already sent me the book, take my money! Open. Read. Done! This book left me excited, it left me wanting more… but it also left me a teensy bit disappointed.

Armada follows the story of Zack Lightman, a teen from a small town with a penchant for referencing as many brilliant things as possible. But Zack is an addict and spends all his free time playing Armada, an alien combat based flight sim.

Night-time raids were going along swimmingly until an alien ship straight out of the game comes crashing down into the school grounds. Concerned for his mental health, Zack escapes the classroom and vows to take a break from gaming (which lasts all of about ten minutes).

But when an Earth Defence League ship lands in the school car park, Zack discovers there’s more to this universe than he ever imagined. He soon finds himself immersed in a world of conspiracy theories and government secrets, with a fleet of alien drones to boot. The fate of humanity is resting on your shoulders, gamers. What could possibly go wrong?

| The Good |

Armada is so much fun. It sucks you in and bombards you with geek reference overload. Cline doesn’t shy away from using them as metaphors, for dialogue, for plot twists… for just about anything really. And it works! If you are a fan of video games and sci fi books and movies, then it’s quite likely Armada will float your boat. If you were that kid at school, daydreaming, staring out of the window and waiting for Gandalf to knock his staff against the glass or for say…. a spaceship to land right in the school grounds, then look no further.

Zack is a great protaganist, full of teen angst but balanced out by his ready humour (and brilliant taste in everything… except Lucky Charms). His motivations are well developed and his narrative is snappy, carrying you along straight to the conclusion. Armada is also incredibly easy to relate to – the world is ours, the references are ours and if you like to daydream you may have even pictured this whole scenario. Armada really is pure entertainment, but…

| The (not really) Bad |

I did feel a little disappointed in places. There is nothing truly ‘bad’ about this book but there are parts which could have been tighter and which could have done with some development and fleshing out. The plot really succeeds when it gets to the action but I would imagine those who either tire of or don’t ‘get’ the references getting a bit bored during the former part of the book.

The cast of characters provide a great backdrop for Zack to interact with but, despite their little quirks, somehow fell a little flat. By the end of the book I honestly didn’t care about half of them. Cannon fodder. Though the writing style is snappy and to the point, I would have preferred a little more depth. Everyone is just sucked into the action with little to no resistance – cardboard people sucked into a vacuum – which made it fall a little short of what I would expect for a 4 star book. But, despite my misgivings and occasional nitpicking, I was still really enjoying it…

| The Ugly |

And then the ending happened. Hmmmmmm… goodbye half a heart shaped star. I really did enjoy most of this book but the ending was a let down and the plot develops in, what seemed to me, a highly unnecessary way. It all just seemed like a bit of a cliché, like something I would see a the end of an ‘ok’ sci fi movie and yes, it was a little bit cheesy. But we can’t have it all.

Having said all that, Armada is a very easy and absorbing read. It’s full of wit and humour, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and provides entertainment by the spadeful. If you’re looking for mind blowing science fiction, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for something entertaining, something that will make you laugh and which is littered with science fiction goodies, then Armada could be the book for youIt certainly hasn’t put me off getting my hands on Ready Player One.

Purchase Here

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The Month Ahead: August 2015

The Month Ahead - AugWelcome to the first post in my The Month Ahead feature. Here I will be discussing the books I am currently reading, the ones I will start this month, and the ones I intend getting my mitts on… if I haven’t already! I will also be sharing any news about features or posts on Books by Proxy, and anything in the book world that has me all excited!

| Currently Reading |


Oh so much to read, so little time! Only recently I was ploughing through books, one after the next. Open – read – done! Since returning from vacation (where my luggage allowance wouldn’t even let me slip in a flimsy paperback), I have slowed down considerably and now have a backlog of started books to finish. I usually like to intersperse my biggies – those heart wrenching, lip biting, palm sweating tomes of awesomeness – with a classic or two. It just so happens that I’ve now acquired four of those classics on my currently reading list. I just can’t seem to resist starting another from the top of my to-read pile. So this month I intend to finish all the books that I’ve started before I pick up any more – I do hate to leave even a bad book unfinished (N.B. I am enjoying all my currently neglected classics).

The Big Ones

Inquisitor by Mitchell Hogan – I recently received Inquisitor by Mitchell Hogan as part of the Goodreads First Reads scheme and couldn’t wait to get started. So far, so SO good! I will be reviewing it as soon as I’m finished, and it really is promising to be a very exciting read.

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett – The other big cheese is The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. I started this book a while ago and, despite enjoying it, somehow let it slip beneath my notice. But worry not! Despite its huge size, it will not find its way to the bottom of that unfinished classics pile.

And on that classics pile we have…

Crime Classics

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

Comedy Classics

Pigs Have Wings by P.G. Wodehouse

Plays and Classic Classics

Agamemnon by Aeschylus

And Just Plain Old Classics

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

| August Acquisitions |


I received Armada by Ernest Cline through Blogging for Books, which looks brilliant and I’m very excited to read. A friend also lent me Wodehouse: A Life by Robert McCrum, a biography of one of my favourite humourists P.G. Wodehouse. I recently bought Half a War by Joe Abercrombie (yay!) and Chocolate Covered Katie by Katie Higgins, which will no doubt be in constant use in my kitchen. And I’ve just discovered that I can use my supermarket loyalty points on books! Hurrah! So arriving very shortly will be: Fatherland by Robert Harris, Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett, The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

| New Features |

Well the blog is in its early stages so brand spanking new features will be cropping up all over the place. So expect more to come! This month’s new features (so far) are:

Blast from the Past – A weekly feature where I will discuss the most memorable books from my past.

The Month Ahead – A monthly feature (which you are currently reading) where I will discuss what’s coming up on the blog this month.


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