Raging Star by Moira Young is the third and final book in the Dust Lands trilogy, a YA dystopian series that first released back in 2011. And I’ve finally finished the trilogy! Took me long enough 🤣
Blood Red Road was a fantastic start to this trilogy, unfortunately this book? It was an abysmal ending to the trilogy. There was so much potential to this book, the plot that Young has created is fantastic but the execution was so poor that it all but nullifies the interest the plot generates.
The character development throughout the book was almost null, with a lot of the characters making nonsensical and quite frankly confusing decisions despite the events of the previous two books. No one seems to have learnt from the prior events at all and the same mistakes are repeated. Additionally, Young tries so hard to create a group dynamic that will engage the reader. Unfortunately this pretty much fails, with the group not getting on, even a little bit, and there being little to no chemistry present.
Honestly? If this hadn’t been the final book in a trilogy I would have DNF’d this book. It was a pretty big waste of my time, but I’m a completionist so I just needed to get it done! What a disappointment for the end of this series!
On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 5, Atmosphere: 4, Writing: 4, Plot: 6, Intrigue: 3, Logic: 2, and Enjoyment: 3 with an average of 3.86 and a 2.5* rating.
Highlight here for content warnings: graphic violence, birth, child taken, death.
I am so disappointed with this book, and so glad that the series is over. If you don’t have the completionist streak like I do then I highly recommend you don’t finish out the series! Save yourself the disappointment and read something else!
May was, as always, a busy month! And yet somehow I managed to read 13 books. Let’s take a look at the books and then I’ll look at balancing out my tbr with the new books I brought in. If you’d rather see this in video format that’s linked below!
My first read was Rebel Heart by Moira Young, the second book in the Blood Red Road trilogy. This suffered a little from middle book syndrome, with the characters clearly just being moved into place for the final book. But it was still interesting to be back in this world and I’m looking forward to capping off the series, hopefully sometime soon.
My non-fiction for the month was Living Planet by David Attenborough which is a republication of a book from the 80s. In this repub they’ve updated the scientific information, as well as switching out examples of species to those which are more obscure. This was a fantastic book and I’m so glad I can add it to my shelves!
This month I discovered that Spotify has some audiobooks you can listen to for free, so I listened to The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien because it was way past time for me to read this one. It’s such a fun audiobook and I’m definitely more hyped to read the main LotR trilogy now!
Freak Like Me by Hannah O’Donnell is a teeny book, at only 10 pages, but it packs a punch. Talking about familiars and acceptance in society, I would adore to see a full sized book within this world (and am tempted to hound Hannah until she does it!)
My last audiobook for the month was Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, which is a novel written in verse. This is a really tough novel, discussing gang violence and deaths in Black communities in the US. It’s tackled beautifully and I want to read more from Reynolds!
A partial reread, Binti: The Complete Collection by Nnedi Okorafor includes the titular novel Binti, as well as two more novellas in the series and a final short story between books 1 and 2. I read Binti previously via audio, but when I was picking up this collection I thought that I should reread the first book before diving in. This is a gorgeous sci-fi series that tackles racism, leaving home, being from multiple cultures and not feeling like you fit it, and it does all of it beautifully. I was genuinely disappointed when I realised I didn’t have anything else in this world to read!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore is one that I should’ve read years ago! It’s one of those “classic” YAs from the 00s and is such a fun read. The naming conventions are ridiculous, but I really enjoyed the book and I’m super excited to delve into the rest of the series, and then read the brand new release that’s due to come out later this year! I need to get my butt in gear clearly.
By now, I think I’ve solidified that the Goldsboro GSFF box sends me books that I adore, because Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May was fantastic. A magical, witchy, dark book set on a small island in the 1920s with murder, lesbians, and non-binary rep. What else could you ask for?
Then I delved into some British ridiculousness with The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde which is a murder mystery, with Humpty Dumpty as the victim! I loved Fforde’s work in the Thursday Next series and this didn’t disappoint. Utterly stupid whilst also being brilliantly clever. I need to pick up more from Fforde.
Time for a little classic with The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the synopsis on the back of my copy just talks about Wilde, and so I went into this knowing literally nothing. Colour me surprised when there was a fantastical element inside! There was one chapter that I really didn’t enjoy in here, but apart from that it was a fun classic with a really interesting concept I would love to see played with more.
Sticking with pictures, but this time it’s a contemporary read from Illumicrate. Portrait of a Thief by Grace D Li could’ve been so much more. It really needed better work on the character development, and the heist plots to steal back Chinese artefacts from Western museums needed a shade more believability. It was clearly a debut but I’m interested in anything else Li publishes in the future.
This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada finished off the This Mortal Coil trilogy with a bang. The character development was fascinating, I adore the genetics and general science throughout all of this, and I actually really liked the ending! Looking forward to rereading this trilogy in the future.
Last but not least, I finished up my month with some Discworld in the form of Pyramids by Terry Pratchett, the seventh book in the series. This is a fun romp following the Pharaoh of not-quite-Egypt, who also happens to be a God and an assassin. In the ridiculous world on the back of the Great A’Tuin it’s a great standalone in the series.
And those are the thirteen books I managed to read this past month! I’m pretty happy with that if I do say so myself.
And then there comes the balancing. So I didn’t balance out my books for April (because it was a rough month) but I started May with 119 books on my tbr (honestly I really need to get this to a more reasonable number). I read 13 books, with 9 of them being from my tbr. I brought in 5 new books, and read 1 of those. All in all meaning that my new physical tbr count is 114. It’s went down!! I’m so damn pleased that I’m actually making some headway through this tbr!!
Let me know your favourite read of May. I’m spoilt for choice but I think Wild and Wicked Things might just have hit the top spot for me!
Rebel Heart by Moira Young is the second book in the Dust Lands series. I first read Blood Red Road back in 2017 so this has taken me a ridiculous amount of time to get to, especially as I got this book later on in 2017!! But I’m reading it now and that’s what matters.
This book, and the whole series, does have a unique writing and speech style, I’d been a little worried from my memories of BRR but I was able to delve straight into the plot regardless. Just be aware that this is written in dialect and that speech doesn’t have speech marks around it to distinguish it from the rest of the text.
We do get to see a fair bit of PTSD representation in this book, from a fair few different people who are all coping differently. I found that incredibly interesting and I really liked that we saw different coping methods and how that impacted the people around them.
We do have the classic miscommunication and not-listening-to-the-person-with-knowledge issues, and in relation to that I was decently annoyed with Lugh a lot of the time in this book (the twin brother of our main character Saba). He is of course dealing with his own PTSD, but he’s also obtusely ignoring his sisters feelings and in certain cases aiming to harm her. I wonder if he’ll be redeemed at all in the final book.
Despite me saying I was annoyed at Lugh, I do have to admit that Saba is absolutely ridiculous in a fair number of her decisions in this and it was frustrating to watch. A lot were simply bad decisions but ones that I could understand, but why oh why is she running after a man she just met? *eyeroll*
And in terms of romantic relationships, I was getting a fair bit uncomfortable by the end of this book with just how many men were assuming control over her body. There were a fair few men throwing themselves at Saba, and that’s annoying but predictable when it comes to YA literature, but the control aspect is just so angering. I hope it’s addressed more in the final book.
I did adore the animal characters of Nero and Tracker, they added a lot of much needed levity and love in this book. And I also did very much enjoy a section right at the beginning of the book (roughly between page 50 and 80) where the vibes were really similar to The Singing by Alison Croggon (the last book in my favourite series). It was super interesting seeing how another author handled the same topic and if I’m honest I’m super disappointed that this didn’t go further down that path rather than the plotline Young chose.
On CAWPILE I rated it: Characters: 6, Atmosphere: 6, Writing: 6, Plot: 5, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 5, and Enjoyment: 6, giving an overall score of 5.71 and a 3* rating.
As you can tell, this wasn’t exactly a fantastic read. Nothing specifically awful, but there were issues with the motives utilised to move the characters, and peoples reactions to events. The men being absolutely ridiculous towards Saba and her sister just being uselessly stuck in the middle of it all. Despite this I was happy enough to keep reading each night, and so I’ll definitely be picking up the third and final book. It’s on my shelves already so there really isn’t any reason not to, I just hope that this was middle book syndrome and we get a great book for the finale!
Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, murder, PTSD, violence, parental death (mentioned), graphic descriptions of a corpse, sexism, rape (mentioned), lack of consent.
The fact we’re already so far into the year is panicking me a little, but let’s focus on all the books I’m hoping on reading this month!
I’m back on my BookTube Bullshit (TM) this month so if you’d like to see my tbr in video form instead then click below!
To the books!!
First up we have This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada which is the third book in the This Mortal Coil series. This is all about a disease which causes people to explode, and is set in a world where people can manipulate their DNA. A Sci-Fi YA and I have *adored* the first two books so I’m super excited to delve into this final one!
Rebel Heart by Moira Young means I’m continuing in another series, but this time with the second book in the trilogy of Blood Red Road. Set in a Dystopian future in the continental US and following a young woman who, in the first book, sets out to find her brother after he was kidnapped by the Tonton.
Then I want to read Illumicrate’s book for last month, Portrait of a Thief by Grace D Li which is set around five Chinese American teens/young adults “stealing” back artefacts from Western museums which were originally stolen from China. The concept is amazing and I’m really looking forward to delving in.
For a fun book I’ve went with The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde which is a companion series to Thursday Next and follows nursery rhyme characters inside their book world. British humour at its most ridiculous is what I’m expecting!
Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a “classic” YA fantasy that Kar-ing for Books and Veronica’s Shelf are super excited for me to read, and given that I bought the four books currently out in Feb? Well I felt like I should get going!
My non-fiction pick for the month is Living Planet by David Attenborough which is a republishing (with significant edits apparently) from the original in the 80s. I adore all things Earth Science and Ecology so I am 100% here for this.
I’d love to get to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde this month. It’s only a short classic and I’ve heard amazing things about Wilde’s writing!
Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May came in my Goldsboro box and I like to try and read those and keep on top of them so I’m definitely diving into this one. All I know about it is that it’s a Historical Fantasy set during the 1920s!
And last but never least, my audiobook for the month is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein, and yes it’s shameful I’ve not read it yet. There’s a free audiobook available on Spotify and I’m really excited to delve into this beloved fantasy world!
And that’s it! Just a short tbr this month as I get back into the swing of things. Have you read any of these? Tell me what you thought of them! And have you picked out your May TBR? Let me know what you’re excited to read this month!!
This is book 2 in the Dust Lands series! I read book 1 quite a long time ago now and I’ve just not had the chance to get around to the rest of the series! Because this is the second book, and I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, I’ll be putting the synopsis of the first book below:
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba’s world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she’s a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization…