Believathon – Halfway Check In!

I mentioned at the end of October that I’d be taking part in Believathon this month.

I chose ten books – one for each prompt, with the hope of reading at least four – one per week on average.

We’re now (just over) halfway through and I’ve read two books (plus the group book which I’d already read) and I’m halfway through another (North Child). Here’s a recap of my reading so far…

Group Read – Frostheart by Jamie Littler

So, I have to confess two things.

The first is that, as Waterstones book of the month for October, I’d already read this ahead of the challenge.

The second *whispers* I’m just not mad on it. I know EVERYONE else is, but it just didn’t do it for me. An unrateable if you will.

On paper (no pun intended) this has everything I usually like in a book – an outcast, a quest, magic and adventure; tentative new friendships, unlikely heroes and unexpected allies; an icy setting with a journey across it and rich and believable traditions and ‘ways’ within different tribes; devious baddies, terrifying monsters… and a Yeti who is, quite frankly brilliant.

It has all this and yet I just wasn’t invested in it. It has excitement, deception, anguish, growth, warmth, humour, fear, bravery, treachery, teamwork…I could go on. It was, essentially, great. Except that it wasn’t (for me) and, honestly, I don’t know why.

A Book Featuring Magic – The Train to Impossible Places by PG Bell

So, this was another that fell a bit short of my expectations. I think this was mostly because I’d built my expectations up too high to begin with. But I did find it a bit slow to get into and I didn’t gel easily with the writing style/voice either.

Which all sounds terribly negative for a book I did actually quite like! As I did end up liking this, and I plan to read book two. I just didn’t LOVE it the way I’d expected to.

It took a while to gain momentum and really get going – it felt like there was a lot of scene-setting and background to get through and the pace was quite slow until the latter part of the book. Once we were well and truly underway, I was hooked, it just took a while to get there!

Likewise, while the world-building and sheer imagination needed to conceive the Impossible Places and their inhabitants and ‘fuzzics’ were outstanding, I felt I had to concentrate quite hard to really picture it and piece it all together. In some parts, this is undoubtedly down to my dismal scientific understanding, but in general I just didn’t feel transported to this eccentric and eclectic place as easily as I’d have liked to have been.

That said, it really was a wonderful place – I loved the idea of the Trolls’ ‘junk’ vehicles especially and the potential for so many more fantastic places across the Impossible Places as the series continues is huge.

Similarly the characters – I thought the core postal crew of Fletch, Wilmot, Ursa and Stonker were brilliant. I loved their characters and dynamics. Likewise, some of the smaller parts like the underwater ghosts and Neoma (who had more than a touch of Pratchett’s Angua about her) were great for various reasons. But our main character Suzy left me not all that bothered about her – I didn’t dislike her, I just wasn’t that invested – and I get that Frederick was intended to be a bit of a slippery fish, but I couldn’t sympathise or warm to him at all.

Overall, this was a highly original, funny and very imaginative adventure. I’m hoping that it’s laid the groundwork for a faster paced sequel, and I’m hoping a return to the impossible places with Suzy will really get me gripped as there’s scope for this to run and run.

A Book with a Strong Sense of Friendship – Skycircus by Peter Bunzl

The friendship between Lily and Robert in this series is a brilliant one. They’re supportive and caring and know each other so well, and there’s absolutely no hint of it being anything other than platonic. Such a great pair.

And such a great book.

I can’t believe it took me so long to get to reading it, but it was definitely worth the wait and it’s got me even more excited for Shadowsea (the next book in the series) now! You can read my full review of it here.

And that’s it! I’m halfway through North Child (oh my goodness – this book! So much love) and I’ve just started the Clockwork Crow too.

I’m hoping I can read a bit more over the next couple of weeks and exceed my minimum of four, but realistically I have to accept that ten was ambitious!

Are you taking part in Believathon? What have you read for it/recently?