Reasons You Should Read..., Uncategorized

Five Reasons You Should Read…The Road to Ever After by Moira Young

Part Benjamin Button, part Harold and Maud, part Brian Selznick and part Neil Gaiman, this is a unique, magical story that will draw readers in and make them fall in love with both characters.

Davy David is a thirteen-year-old orphan, who lives in the bushes in a town ruled by a strict minister, Reverend Fall. A talented artist, Davy loves to draw pictures of angels in the dirt, in the early hours of the morning before the townspeople are awake. He spends his days on his own, except for a small dog, who has attached himself to Davy, often going to the library to find inspiration for his pictures of angels. One day, after chasing after a ball for some of the town’s boys, he finds himself in the yard of the old boarded-up museum, now rumoured to be the home of a witch. The witch is Miss Elizabeth Flint, an elderly woman who has a proposition for Davy: drive her to her childhood home, where, it turns out, she has made the decision to die.Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 22.28.05.png

‘The Road to Ever After’ by Moira Young publishes in the UK tomorrow, and I highly recommend that you pick it up. Here are five reasons why!

  • THE WRITING STYLE

‘The Road to Ever After’ is beautifully written. It’s captivating from start to finish, and it’s full of moving and memorable sections of narration and of dialogue. It’s very different from Moira Young’s previous novels – the Dustlands trilogy, which is a fast-paced, action-packed YA series with Western and dystopian themes – but it’s equally gripping. I am always in awe of authors like Moira Young who can write equally strong novels in a range of genres.

  • THE CHARACTERS

All the characters in the novel are vivid and distinctive, from the mean and corrupt Parson Falls (who reminds me of the mayor in Joanne Harris’ ‘Chocolat’) and the brash van driver Mr Webb, to the kind and generous Mr Timm and the sweet Miss Shasta. I could visualise each of them wholly.

Davy is a fantastic main character. I immediately sympathised with him and felt an attachment to him, which meant that I was very emotionally involved in the story. I loved his friendship with Miss Flint, especially the way she could be quite sharp but she gradually softened towards him. Miss Flint reminded me of Maggie Smith’s character in the recent film, The Lady in the Van. 

  • UNIVERSAL

‘The Road to Ever After’ is classified as a middle-grade novel. However, it has a universal, timeless quality that makes it appeal to a much wider audience. The story has many layers to it. Additionally, one of the main characters is young, while the other is old. It truly is a story for everyone to read and enjoy.

  • MOVING

‘The Road to Ever After’ really touched me. The ending brought tears to my eyes because I was so involved and invested in the story and the characters. There is such warmth and poignancy to the story of Davy David and Miss Flint’s unexpected but deep and affectionate friendship. It’s a wonderfully moving novel that will warm your heart as the cold winter days approach.

  • SEASONAL

The novel is set during the winter season and finishes after Christmas day, so it’s the perfect read as days begin to grow colder, nights begin to grow longer, and stores begin to fill with Christmas products. It’s a magical, unique and unforgettable book which truly captures the spirit of Christmas, not least in the scene in which Davy spends the little money he has on gifts for others. It actually made me feel very nostalgic for stories and picture books I remember reading at Christmas when I was much younger. I think ‘The Road to Ever After’ deserves to become a seasonal classic. It has a beautiful cover and is just as beautiful inside.

 

 

 

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October 2016 Reads, Uncategorized

The Graces by Laure Eve

  • The Graces by Laure Eve

Rating: * * * (3/5)

Series: #1 The Graces

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Publication Date: September 2016

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
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They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

I gave ‘The Graces’ a neutral rating because I am in two minds about it: I thought the second half was much stronger than the first half.

I thought that in the first half of the novel the pace needed to pick up, and I found myself skim-reading certain sections to develop a faster pace. The first part was not as exciting or magical as the blurb made it seem, and indeed it was not as exciting as many other books that I have read this year. Additionally, none of the characters really stood out for me – not even the alluring, glamorous Graces. (Also – the name Thalia Grace kept making me think of Percy Jackson!)  I didn’t particularly like nor feel particularly attached to any of the characters in the novel, which made the reading experience less enjoyable than I was expecting.

However, despite this, there was something in the first half that made me want to keep reading. The writing style had a really mysterious and creepy quality to it, and this did make me want to read on and find out what would ultimately happen.

I much preferred the second half of the novel to the first. Part Two was much more exciting and much darker, and it was where the book really came into its own. There were lots of twists and revelations. I did see part of the main twist coming, but certainly not the whole of it, and it did still shock me. I thought that the twist was very clever and skilful. It did explain some of the aspects of Part One that I was not sure about, too. It certainly made the novel very memorable.

Overall, I didn’t love ‘The Graces’ but I did think it was cleverly written and the ending has made me intrigued to find out what will happen next. It was thrilling in a quiet, slowly mysterious way (until the very end when it really picked up), rather than a fast-paced, constantly exciting way.

 

#VICTOBER, October 2016 Reads, Uncategorized

This Week’s Reading and #Victober!

Here are some updates on what I have been reading recently and what I am planning on reading next!

  • This week I started reading ‘How I Found You’ by Gabriella Lepore. A couple of weeks ago I purchased this novel for just 99p on Kindle because it was the publisher Of Tomes’ first birthday – Happy Anniversary Of Tomes! Unfortunately I started reading ‘How I Found You’ and the writing style just did not gel with me so I stopped at about 25%. The first few chapters were essentially about a teenage girl moving to live with relatives and these two secretive and apparently magical guys turning up. The storyline felt very generic to me – it seemed like lots of books that came out a few years ago, such as ‘Fallen’. To be fair, it might have become more original as it went on but I did not feel intrigued or invested in the story enough to read on and find out. The style of writing was just too cheesy and simplistic for me: there was ‘instalove’ and both the main female character and the main male character irritated and frustrated me continually. I’ve read many books recently with wonderful characters but this one did not continue the trend for me. I try very hard to finish books but I had to ‘Did Not Finish’ this one. I had so many other books on my TBR pile that I would prefer to read.

 

  • On a more positive note, I was delighted to find out today on Twitter that I have won a copy of ‘RoseBlood’ by A. G. Howard from Maximum Pop! I am so excited to read this novel, having recently read ‘The Architect of Song’ by A. G. Howard and absolutely loved it! I think she has a beautiful and addictive writing style and I love The Phantom of the Opera so I cannot wait to read this retelling. I’ve posted the synopsis below:

 

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In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.
At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

A. G. Howard brings the romantic storytelling that Splintered fans adore to France—and an entirely new world filled with lavish romance and intrigue—in a retelling inspired by a story that has captivated generations. Fans of both the Phantom of the Opera musical and novel, as well as YA retellings such as Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, will devour RoseBlood.

 

#VICTOBER 

This month I am joining in with the #Victober readathon, which is essentially a challenge to read as many novels written in the Victorian period as you can in a month. I am very excited about this challenge! There are so many wonderful novels to choose from and it is really easy and cheap to take part: most Victorian ‘classic’ novels are free on Kindle, and libraries are always well-stocked in the ‘classics’, as are charity shops.

I’ve read quite a few Victorian novels in the past few years and really enjoyed them, including ‘The Trumpet Major’, ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ – all of which are by Thomas Hardy – ‘Jane Eyre’, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ and ‘Great Expectations’. Because I’ve read several Hardy novels in the past, I’ve decided not to read any more of his for this challenge, as I would like some of my #Victober books to be written by authors whose books I have never read before.

I’ve just finished reading my first #Victober read, which was Anne Bronte’s ‘Agnes Grey’. I really enjoyed her other novel, ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, but I think ‘Agnes Grey’ surpassed it for me. The eponymous protagonist was exceptionally relatable – probably because the novel is largely autobiographical – and I felt very attached to her and very moved by her story. The novel provides a fascinating insight into the lives of Victorian governesses and the way that they are treated by some as though they are invisible and irrelevant. I would definitely recommend Anne Bronte’s novels to anyone else partaking in #Victober and would even go so far as to say that she is my favourite Bronte sister!

These are the other books I plan to read for #Victober:

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot 

Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 19.28.49.pngI’ve never read one of George Eliot’s (Mary Ann Evans’) novels and #Victober seems like a great opportunity to read one! I’ve chosen ‘Middlemarch’ because the synopsis sounds very intriguing, and Hermione Lee’s quote about it in this synopsis is very persuasive.

Goodreads Synopsis:

‘People are almost always better than their neighbours think they are’

George Eliot’s most ambitious novel is a masterly evocation of diverse lives and changing fortunes in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfilment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; the charming but tactless Dr Lydgate, whose pioneering medical methods, combined with an imprudent marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamond, threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstode, hiding scandalous crimes from his past. As their stories entwine, George Eliot creates a richly nuanced and moving drama, hailed by Virginia Woolf as ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’.

This edition uses the text of the second edition of 1874. In her introduction, Rosemary Ashton, biographer of George Eliot, discusses themes of change in Middlemarch, and examines the novel as an imaginative embodiment of Eliot’s humanist beliefs.

‘The most profound, wise and absorbing of English novels…and, above all, truthful and forgiving about human behaviour’ HERMIONE LEE

  • Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 19.34.52.pngA Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle 

I remember reading ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ some years ago and thinking that it was fantastic, so this month I would really like to read another Sherlock Holmes novel. ‘A Study in Scarlet’ is the first one. I don’t read many mystery novels but I have chosen a couple to read this month and I am very excited to start them.

In the debut of literature’s most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begin
s the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.

  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

This is the second of the mystery novels I am planning on reading for #Victober. Someone recommended ‘The Moonstone’ to me a few weeks ago, so I immediately put it on my #Victober list. It’s one of the first ever mystery/detective novels (in fact I think it is hailed as the first) and apparently it is very unpredictable. I can’t wait to start it!

‘When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep thatScreen Shot 2016-10-03 at 19.42.24.png drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else’

The Moonstone, a yellow diamond looted from an Indian temple and believed to bring bad luck to its owner, is bequeathed to Rachel Verinder on her eighteenth birthday. That very night the priceless stone is stolen again and when Sergeant Cuff is brought in to investigate the crime, he soon realizes that no one in Rachel’s household is above suspicion. Hailed by T. S. Eliot as ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’, The Moonstone is a marvellously taut and intricate tale of mystery, in which facts and memory can prove treacherous and not everyone is as they first appear

  • Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray 

Thackeray is an author whom I have heard a lot about but whose books I have never read but always wanted to. I’m particularly intrigued by ‘Vanity Fair”s subtitle which is ‘A novel without a hero’; I’m interested to see just what the main characters are like and to judge them for myself. Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 20.00.20.png

Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero is a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, first published in 1847–48, satirizing society in early 19th-century Britain. The book’s title comes from John Bunyan’s allegorical story The Pilgrim’s Progress, first published in 1678 and still widely read at the time of Thackeray’s novel. Vanity fair refers to a stop along the pilgrim’s progress: a never-ending fair held in a town called Vanity, which is meant to represent man’s sinful attachment to worldly things. The novel is now considered a classic, and has inspired several film adaptations.

 

Hopefully I will have time this month to read all of these Victorian novels and maybe I will have time to read a few more! However it does sometimes take me a lot longer to read a ‘classic’ than it would take me to read a YA novel. On top of these novels, I have lots of YA novels to read this month – my shelves are bursting – as well as some MG ones. I’ve still got lots of proof copies from YALC which I really need to read!

 

 

September 2016 Reads, Uncategorized

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Happy publication day to Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Crooked Kingdom’, the sequel to the stunning ‘Six of Crows’! I’ve just finished this book and it was phenomenal! It was such a joy to spend more time with Kaz and his crew. I would definitely rate it five out of five stars.

Here’s an alphabet of reasons why you should be reading ‘Crooked Kingdom’ right now if you aren’t already!

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ACTION

 

‘Crooked Kingdom’ is action-packed. It’s ceaselessly exciting and a complete thrill ride from start to finish.

 

BACKSTORIES

 

In ‘Crooked Kingdom’ we learn more about each of the six main characters and we see their backstories, particularly Inej’s, Wylan’s and Jesper’s. These develop the characters further and make them even more 3D.

 

CLIFF-HANGERS

 

The novel is divided into numerous sections with different titles and between these sections, and between many of the chapters, there are tense cliff-hangers. These make the book impossible to put down as you are desperately eager and impatient to find out what will happen next.

 

DIALOGUE

 

The dialogue in ‘Crooked Kingdom’ is snappy and realistic – it never feels staged. Leigh Bardugo is a master at showing us what characters are doing through dialogue as well as through narration – for example, when Kaz tells Matthias to ‘stop gawking’. She gets the perfect balance between dialogue and narration through the novel. I also love the fact that each character has a distinctive personality and voice, to the extent that if the ‘said ….’ bits that inform you who is speaking were taken out, I would still know who was talking.

 

EMOTIONAL

 

Several sections of the novel are very moving – particularly chapters 14 and 39. I cried a couple of times while reading. I always think it’s amazing when a book makes you cry because it shows just how powerful the writing is. In fact, I felt very emotional when reading the whole book because it is the final novel in the duology and I did not want to have to say goodbye to the characters.

 

FUNNY

 

While some parts of ‘Crooked Kingdom’ are very touching, some are very funny. Nina and Jesper in particular bring lots of humour to the novel. When things get particularly dark, they lighten the mood. I loved this amusing bit of dialogue:

 

‘Do you know what Van Eck’s problem is?’

‘No honour?’ said Matthias.

‘Rotten parenting skills?’ said Nina.

‘Receding hairline?’ offered Jesper.

 

I also loved the scene where Nina tells Matthias the ‘Princess and Barbarian’ story – it was hilarious and they have great chemistry together.

 

GRIPPING

 

‘Crooked Kingdom’ hooks you from the first line and does not let go until the end. Actually, it doesn’t even let go then – you’ll still be thinking about it after you have turned the final page. It’s such a compelling and enveloping story. I found it impossible to put down.

 

HUSTLE

 

A few years ago, there was a TV programme in the UK named ‘Hustle’ about a group of grifters, and I absolutely loved it. Kaz and his crew remind me of the main characters from that programme, especially in the opening scenes of ‘Crooked Kingdom’ when they are all working together to pull off a con.

 

INEJ

 

To my delight, a few months ago I took a ‘Which Six of Crows Character Are You?’ quiz and Inej was the character that I got. Inej is my favourite character from this series, and indeed one of my all time favourite characters. She’s a quick-thinker and can get herself out of many scrapes. She’s resilient and strong in a manner which is quiet and understated but very palpable and admirable. She’s brave and loyal and I could read about her all day long.

 

JESPER

 

I liked Jesper in ‘Six of Crows’ but I didn’t love him. He definitely grew on me in this sequel. I loved the way that on the one hand he was fun, flirty and light-hearted, but there was another more serious side to him that was determined to make amends for his mistake in the first book.

 

KAZ

 

Kaz is one of the best characters I have ever read about. I have an incredibly vivid picture of him as I read – of the way he talks, the way he moves, the way he looks. He is such a striking and original creation, and he feels really believable because he has clear flaws as well as strengths. I felt very emotionally attached to him during both books, especially because of his back-story.

 

LONG

 

‘Crooked Kingdom’ is considerably thick, which is wonderful both because it gives time for a detailed and exciting plot and because I love spending time with these characters. What’s really impressive is that, despite its length, the novel never drags or feels slow. It’s perfectly paced.

 

MAP

 

I don’t know who designed the maps at the front of the novel, but they are stunning. I love fantasy books with maps. It’s great to be able to track where Kaz and his crew are on the map and to see where each character is from.

 

NINA

 

Nina is another striking character from this book and this series. I love her confidence and her ‘banter’ with Jesper, as well as her friendship with Inej and their mutual support. I really like the fact that this series has two very different but equally strong and brave female protagonists and a great female friendship.

 

OPENING

 

‘Crooked Kingdom’ will grab you right from the start. The opening, which is from the point of view of a character called Retvenko, is hugely tense and dramatic. I loved it!

 

PACE

 

As I said before, ‘Crooked Kingdom’ never drags. The pacing is superb – it’s fast paced enough that you will be turning the pages as fast as you can, but there is also time for reflection and character development as well as plot advancement. It’s not so fast-paced that it gets at all confusing, overwhelming or difficult to keep up.

 

QUOTABLE

 

‘Crooked Kingdom’ is beautifully written and there are so many striking and memorable lines in it, both in narration and in dialogue, from Kaz’s explanation of why he likes crows to Nina’s comment about fear being like a phoenix.

I loved the quote below:

 

‘He didn’t have to look to know she was beside him – silent, sure-footed. She could have outpaced him in an instant, but they ran in tandem, matching each other step for step.’

 

My favourite line of the whole book is the final line from the last chapter from Inej’s point of view – I think it’s a beautiful metaphor.

 

ROMANCE

 

The romances in this series are slow-burn. The romance never takes over – the plot comes first and the friendships are equally as important and enjoyable as the romances. That said, the romantic scenes that are in the novel are brilliantly written. Sometimes there’s sizzling chemistry; sometimes your heartstrings are being tugged at. My One True Pairing comes from this series.

 

SETTING

 

Leigh Bardugo has written five fantasy books set in the world of the Grisha now and I have adored them all. She has a wonderful imagination and her world-building is fantastic – very detailed, original and enveloping. I can always visualise all of the settings.

 

TENSE

 

‘Crooked Kingdom’ had me right on the edge of my seat throughout. There’s almost constant tension: the stakes are very high and the characters are always in dangerous situations. There’s a particularly tense set of scenes between Inej and a character called Dunyasha.

 

UNPREDICTABLE

 

‘Crooked Kingdom’ is full of twists and turns and you can never guess what is going to happen next. That makes it really exciting and addictive. There’s a particularly fantastic twist concerning an action that Kaz claims to have taken.

 

VAN ECK

 

The protagonists of the novel are very vivid and striking and so are the antagonists – in particular, Van Eck. In some of the novels I have read this year, the villainous character has not been very scary or alarming at all, but Van Eck is truly threatening and petty, particularly in the way he continually mocks Wylan’s illiteracy. I think it is really important for the antagonists to be just as developed as the protagonists, and ‘Crooked Kingdom’ certainly achieves this.

 

WRITING STYLE

 

I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing. It’s absolutely captivating and compelling, whether she is writing an action scene, an emotional scene or a romantic scene – or all three rolled into one. Her writing just keeps getting better and better with every book.

 

I’ve talked about how much I love the characters in ‘Crooked Kingdom’ and I have to say that Leigh Bardugo is, in my opinion, the best YA writer there is when it comes to characters. She has a real knack for creating striking, vivid and original characters that you grow very attached to. When someone asks me my favourite characters, her characters are always the first that come to mind.

 

XENOS

 

I must admit I really struggled to think of words that began with ‘x’ so I had to resort to my knowledge of Ancient Greek for this one! ‘Xenos’ means ‘stranger’ and I chose it because ‘Crooked Kingdom’ introduces some fabulous new characters. We also get to see some old friends, and it is wonderful to be reunited with them!

 

YEAR

 

I waited a year for this sequel and the wait was completely worth it! I did not disappoint me in anyway – in fact I am delighted to say that it exceeded my expectations!

 

ZERO

 

There were zero things I did not like about ‘Crooked Kingdom’. I loved every page of it and I know I will reread it countless times. It’s one of the best books I have ever read and I think that it is the best book Leigh Bardugo has written to date (although that’s a very hard call as all her books are amazing!)!

Uncategorized, Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday

There are so many yet-to-be-released books that I cannot wait for, from books which come out next month and have only a short wait left, to books that are still months away and come out next year. All of the release dates for these books are in my calendar and I am bursting with excitement for them.

I posted some of the books a couple of weeks ago, but I am joining in with the meme again today. Here are some more of the upcoming books I am most excited about!

Several of this week’s ones are the final books in series, so I have mixed emotions about them – on the one hand I cannot wait for them to come out because I know they are going to be amazing, but on the other hand I am not, and will never be, ready to say goodbye to these characters and for the series to be over!

 

  • Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (September 2016)

Goodreads synopsis: Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Ever since I saw the synopsis for ‘Three Dark Crowns’, I have been very excited for it to come out. It sounds really intriguing, with the ruthless and competitive natures of the three sisters, and the stakes are really high. I think it is going to be a tense, unpredictable and gripping story rich in betrayal and scandal.

I also really like the fact that three different covers for the novel are being published in the UK, with each one representing one of the three sisters. I think the green cover with the snake is my favourite, but if I read the book and love it I will probably end up buying them all as they all look amazing!
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  • Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle (January 2017)

A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago.

Protected by an infamous mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can’t last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie’s the prime target of a rival clan. She’s determined to seek revenge on her mother’s murderers, but can she pay the price – can she be a mafiosa?

The third and final instalment in the explosive YA Blood for Blood series which started with Vendetta and Inferno.

The Blood For Blood trilogy is one of my very favourite series. I raced through the first two books and absolutely loved both of them. In particular I loved the unpredictable and gripping nature of the novels, the snappy dialogue, the romance, and the friendship between Sophie, the main character, and her best friend Millie – there is such loyalty in their friendship and Millie is hilarious. However, what I love best of all about Catherine Doyle’s writing is the fact that reading her novels is like watching a thriller – you can imagine everything and it all plays out like a film in front of your eyes. ‘Mafiosa’ is sure to be a blockbuster finale!

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  • Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder (January 2017)

New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder brings her Poison Study series to its exhilarating conclusion.

Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.

Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person’s resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.

With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surrounding the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.

I’m so glad that Maria V. Snyder decided to write a continuation trilogy to the original Chronicles of Ixia novels. It has been a joy to be reunited with some of my favourite fictional characters. ‘Shadow Study’ and ‘Night Study’ were both gripping and brilliantly written and ‘Dawn Study’, the third and final novel of this continuation series, is sure to be no different. The ending of ‘Night Study’ set things up for an action-packed and emotional final novel, and I cannot wait to read it. Snyder’s Soulfinder novels always have the perfect mix of romance, action and humour, and there are always mini cliffhangers at the end of chapters that keep you ceaselessly turning the pages. Roll on January and ‘Dawn Study’!

Below is the US cover as the UK one is yet to be revealed.

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  • The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury (March 2017)

The final battle is coming . . .

As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever . . .

The first thing I have to say is that the cover of ‘The Scarecrow Queen’, the third and final novel in The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy, is absolutely stunning. The covers for the other two books were also beautiful, but this one is my favourite yet, and I am sure that the inside of ‘The Scarecrow Queen’ is going to be just as stunning and brilliant as the outside.

‘The Sin Eater’s Daughter’ was fantastic, but the sequel, ‘The Sleeping Prince’, was even better – full of twists and turns, amazing characters and thrilling scenes. I think that this third novel will be the best one yet. The Sleeping Prince is on the rampage and everything is going to come to a head. It’s going to be an explosive and breathtaking final book.

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  • Long Way Home by Katie McGarry (January 2017)

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

I am beyond excited for ‘Long Way Home’, the next instalment in Katie McGarry’s wonderful Thunder Road series, having loved both of the previous books. Chevy and Violet are my favourite characters, so I cannot wait to hear their story. Katie McGarry has a truly addictive writing style and I always race through her books. I have a feeling that ‘Long Way Home’ is going to be my favourite book of hers.

I am also really hoping that we will get to see both more of the Thunder Road characters from the other two books – Oz, Emily, Breanna and Razor – and more of the characters from Katie McGarry’s other series, ‘Pushing the Limits’, in this novel, as I love them all and would really enjoy seeing them again!

(Below is the US cover; the UK one is yet to be released)

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  • Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne. 

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

I absolutely loved ‘Rebel of the Sands’, the first novel in this series. I really enjoyed the fact the it was full of adventure and that there were lots of magical legends. It was a sandstorm of a story: it was fast-paced and action-packed, and it pulled me in from the very beginning and gripped me until the very end. I am sure that the sequel, ‘Traitor To The Throne’ will be no different. The cover is gorgeous, and the tagline ‘Beware the enemy within…’ is very suspenseful and has me bursting to know what will happen next for Amani. I can’t wait to read the next part of her story and to be reunited with all the characters.

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Uncategorized

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

  • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Rating: * * * * *

Series: #5 Throne of Glass

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: September 2016

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

NB – This review is shorter and slightly less specific than my usual ones because I’ve tried to keep it completely free of spoilers as I know a lot of fans of this series haven’t read this book yet. 

 

I have just finished ‘Empire of Storms’, the fifth installment in Sarah J Maas’ bestselling Throne of Glass series, and I absolutely loved every page of it. It has to be my favourite book of the series so far and it has zoomed all the way to the top of my list of my favourite books of this year (and probably my list of favourite books ever). It was epic and awesome, and now that I have finished it I just want to reread it all again and relive all of the emotions, tension and excitement.

‘Empire of Storms’ is the longest Throne of Glass book yet, with around 700 pages, yet in no place does it drag or feel slow. The 700 pages are packed with heart-pounding action and adventure. I was absolutely hooked and entranced for the duration. I could not put the book down, nor could I turn the pages fast enough. And even 700 pages did not feel like long enough, because I could read about these characters all day, every day. Each character in the novel has such a striking and vivid personality and I loved reading each of their stories. Lots of the characters are further developed and we get to know them really well. I particularly love all of the female characters in this series – each of them has their own unique kind of strength. I actually have a new favourite female character from reading this book.

Not only is there non-stop action and tension, but there is also fantastic and immersive world-building and we get to see lots of different parts of Erilea. There are brilliant and vivid scenes involving magic and magical creatures. There are lots of epic romances and friendships, too. There were a couple of things in ‘Queen of Shadows’, the previous installment in the series, that I was not quite sure about, but ‘Empire of Storms’ completely turned these around for me. There are also some really moving sections that will bring tears to your eyes. ‘Empire of Storms’ captures your imagination and your heart, just as Sarah J. Maas’ other 2016 novel, ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’ did. Sarah J. Maas has written two outstanding novels this year and what I love about her writing is that it just keeps getting better and better, more and more epic. With every book she pushes the boundaries of awesomeness – just when I think her books cannot be any more fantastic, they move on to a whole other level of amazingness that I didn’t know existed!

The final hundred pages of ‘Empire of Storms’ are thrilling and mind-blowing. There are so many twists and revelations, and Sarah J. Maas links these right back to the very beginning of the series. I love it when authors do that – when they have planned the series in advance so that they reveal something late on in the series and there have been hints about it right from the beginning, and it is like a puzzle all coming together and joining up.  It’s an explosive, emotional and jaw-dropping finale and it will have you bursting for the next book.

In short, ‘Empire of Storms’ is Maas-ively amazing (get it?!) and, in my opinion, the best book of the series to date and the best book of 2016 so far! I cannot praise it highly enough.

 

September 2016 Reads, Uncategorized

Girl Detached by Manuela Salvi

  • Girl Detached by Manuela Salvi (Translated from Italian by Denise Muir)

Rating: * * * * *

Publisher: Barrington Stoke (Bucket List Books)

Publication Date: September 2016

Format: Proof copy

Age group: Although this is targeted at YA, I would say that the content means that it is one for an older YA audience and I’d personally recommend it to those 16+. I would also forewarn about triggers for sexual abuse and grooming. 

Goodreads Synopsis: Aleksandra has issues with her voice. Stress makes her stutter, and her life is one of stress. She can only speak clearly on stage, freed by the words of the character she plays. Then, when Aleksandra befriends her new neighbour Megan, and through her meets charming, handsome Ruben, it seems she has discovered a doorway into a different world, and a different Alek. But Ruben wants Aleksandra to play a particular role for him, and it is one that will come close to destroying her. 

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I first heard about ‘Girl Detached’ at this year’s YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention) and I received a proof copy of the book there. ‘Girl Detached’ was censored and banned from sale in Italy, but has been translated into English by Denise Muir (and I must say her translation is brilliant – it flows very well) and it is being published in the UK this year. The UK publishers believe that this is a story the world needs to hear and I completely agree with them. In three words, ‘Girl Detached’ is honest, powerful and heartbreaking.

‘Girl Detached’ tells the story of Aleksandra, a keen amateur actress who has lived with her gran for her whole life. After her gran’s death, she has to move back in with the mother who abandoned her and her new family, which includes a younger brother. Moving back into this house introduces Aleksandra to Megan, the pretty girl who lives next door and is always sneaking out of her window. Through Megan, Aleksandra is introduced to the charming, good-looking and influential Ruben, and her life begins to spiral out of control.

One of the things that really struck me about ‘Girl Detached’ was the skill of the character portrayals. Each character is very vivid and distinctive, from Megan, so eager to take Alek under her wing and to transform her and who seems outwardly very confident but can be bitter and lacks self-belief underneath, and her friends, who act hostile and competitively towards Alek, to Jonah, a fellow member of Alek’s theatre company who can be snide and irritating, and all the other members of the ‘Ship of Fools’ company. The scenes in the theatre company were probably my favourite – I loved it when Alek finally got her own back on Jonah for continually irritating her and sabotaging her performances, and I also loved the scene where Alek and Elektra were practising improvising because it was a time when she could really let loose and be completely free. The way that her fellow members of the theatre group reacted to the transformation Alek’ undergoes after meeting Megan really moved me. They are like a family to Alek.

Aleksandra herself was a protagonist to whom I was immediately attached. I loved her enthusiasm for Oscar Wilde and actually I felt that gave me something in common with her – like Alek, I acted in an Oscar Wilde play and really love his writing style. I found Alek’s ability to assume characters when acting to the extent that she lost her stammer fascinating. Her story is one that will tear at your heart strings because you are so attached to her.

‘Girl Detached’ is very hard-hitting and deeply moving. Parts of it will make you very sad and parts very angry; parts are very difficult to read because they are so horrifying and unsettling and that is why I would recommend it to the upper end of YA. The fact that it was censored in Italy probably serves to show just how well written it is – how impactful, thought-provoking and enlightening Aleksandra’s story is. Overall, ‘Girl Detached’ is a defiant, eye-opening and unforgettable novel that will stay in your mind long after you have finished reading. I predict that in a few decades’ time, it will become a classic.

 

 

August 2016 reads, Uncategorized

The Deviants by C. J. Skuse

  • The Deviants by C. J. Skuse

Rating: * * * * *

Publisher: Mira InkScreen Shot 2016-09-02 at 20.37.28.png

Publication Date: Sept 22nd 2016

Series? – Standalone

Goodreads Synopsis:

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

I rushed to pick up a proof of ‘The Deviants’ at YALC, having heard glowing comments about C. J. Skuse’s new novel. Having read it a few weeks ago, I can confirm that the wonderful reviews I had seen were exactly right. ‘The Deviants’, a kind of YA version of Enid Blyton’s classic ‘Famous Five’ children’s books, is a fantastic mystery novel. It is one of the best books I have read this year, and, indeed, one of the best books I have ever read.

‘The Deviants’ is brilliant right from the opening. The first chapter is very mysterious and it hooks you straight away – a dead body is found on a beach. Then there is a section between the protagonist Ella and her boyfriend Max in the garden centre, which is very unsettling as we see the cracks in their relationship – Ella’s irritable mood, the fact that she does not remember an important date, the fact that the two of them are on different pages when it comes to intimacy, and Ella’s anger about where Max’s money comes from. C. J. Skuse establishes the mood and tension straight away. She also fills us with questions that we cannot wait to hear the answers to, especially with Ella’s comment that there are lots of things that even Max, whom she has been dating since she was thirteen and has been friends with for most of her life, does not know about her.

One of the main aspects of this novel that I absolutely loved was the way that each chapter ended. At the close of every chapter is a question or a comment from an unknown person who is talking to Ella. These comments fuel what Ella narrates next. This makes the book both really mysterious and very gripping.

Another aspect of the novel that makes it truly gripping and impossible to put down is the fact that there are twists and surprises dropped in that you will not see coming. A few of these surprises come from a character named Fallon who is one of the Fearless Five, and when she dropped these twists in I am sure my mouth dropped open and I was gawping at the book, so it is lucky I was not reading it in public! I read ‘The Deviants’ in two sittings and the only reason I did not read it in one was because I was exhausted and had to sleep. As soon as I got up the next morning, I rushed to start reading it again. I had to know what happened next.

Another strength of ‘The Deviants’ is that it is very vivid. Whether Max and Ella were on a date in the garden centre, or Ella was boxing and running with her coach Pete, or the gang were in Fallon’s kitchenette, I was picturing every scene as I read. The book truly captured my imagination.

I also loved the characters in ‘The Deviants’. Ella is a brilliant main character. She is fiercely loyal and will put herself on the line to protect her friends and she is talented and driven. She is very relatable because she has doubts and she has faults. She feels very 3D, as do Max and the other members of the Fearless Five. They are all gritty. I found the friendship and scenes between the members of the Fearless Five very moving. The part where Fallon tells Ella, to Ella’s extreme disbelief but pride, that Ella has inspired her and the part where Ella and Zane go to the island, because that area has a remoteness that will be useful to Zane at that point, especially touched me. This is one of those books where, after I have finished it, the main characters feel like old friends to me, for I have grown so attached to them over the novel’s course.

The ending of the novel is very well executed. Everything comes to a heart-stopping crescendo and it will have you right on the edge of your seat. The ending links back to the beginning in a really interesting and unpredictable way, as with ‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart. In fact, ‘The Deviants’ is the perfect novel for fans of ‘We Were Liars.’ Upon finishing each of these two books, I felt the same thing – I wished that I could wipe the novel from my memory just so I could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time.

The final thing that makes ‘The Deviants’ really special to me is the fact that as soon as I finished it, I passed it over to my sister so that I would have someone to talk to and fan-girl over it with. My sister had not read YA for a long time and she does not read that much fiction. ‘The Deviants’ changed that. She read it in a very short time, being as hooked by it as I was, and raved about it to me. She loved it as much as I did, and it has refuelled her love of reading.

 

Uncategorized, Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday…

There are so many yet-to-be-released books that I cannot wait for, from books which come out next month and have only a short wait left, to books that are still months away and come out next year. All of the release dates for these books are in my calendar and I am bursting with excitement for them.

Here are some of the upcoming books I am most excited about! I’ve put them in rough order of release date.

 

  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows and Brodi Ashton

Goodreads Synopsis: A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger – and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

This one publishes in the UK on September 1st, so it is tantalisingly close! It’s already, I believe, been out for a few months in America, and I have heard amazing things about it and have seen lots of very positive reviews on blogs and on Goodreads. It sounds like it’s an absolute blast to read. It combines history, fantasy and romance – my three favourite genres – and it’s hilarious to boot! I also find that books written by multiple authors are particularly vivid and creative as multiple imaginations are being combined. This novel sounds right up my street and September 1st cannot come soon enough!

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  • Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

‘Empire of Storms’, the fifth installment in Sarah J. Maas’ fantastic ‘Throne of Glass’ series, releases on September 6th. That is less than two weeks away, which I can hardly believe as I have been desperate for it since finishing the previous novel in the autumn of last year. Although there were a couple of things in ‘Queen of Shadows’ that I was not entirely happy with, I loved the fast-paced, tense and action-packed nature of the novel. This series as a whole can only be described as ‘epic’ and its epic-ness grows with each new novel. Sarah J. Maas’ imagination knows no bounds and her books are always impossible to put down. ACOMAF, published earlier this year, was absolutely outstanding and I’m sure her latest novel will be no different. She is one of my very favourite authors and I am bursting with excitement for ‘Empire of Storms’ and to be reunited with Aelin, Chaol and Dorian. I’m also very excited about the Throne of Glass colouring book, which also publishes on the 6th of September, and for Sarah J. Maas’ UK tour which will take place in October. I’ve met her twice already and it is always amazing and so, so inspiring to hear her talk about her novels and fantasy worlds.

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  • The Deviants by C. J. Skuse

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

‘The Deviants’ will be published by Mira Ink on September the 22nd and I highly recommend that you rush to get it on that day. I recently finished reading a proof copy of it and it’s easily one of the best novels I’ve ever read. It’s tense, unsettling, gripping and moving right from the very first page. It’s the perfect novel for fans of ‘We Were Liars’. I was absolutely captivated by it and so involved in the story that I could not put it down. As soon as I finished, I rushed to pass it over to my sister so I had someone to talk about it with – it’s that good. My sister hadn’t read YA for months, but as soon as she started reading ‘The Deviants’ she was just as hooked as I was. Our conversations since she finished have been dominated by talk of the Fearless Five, the main characters in this novel, and reading ‘The Deviants’ has got my sister back into reading YA. It’s a truly phenomenal novel with little twists and surprises dropped in, especially by the character named Fallon, that you will not see coming. It’s the kind of book I wish I could wipe from my memory just so I could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time. I can’t wait to get my hands on a finished copy.

I will post a full review of it nearer to the release date.

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  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (also to be published on Sept 27th)

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world. 

Aah, ‘Crooked Kingdom’! I have been dying to get my hands on a copy of this book ever since I turned the last page of its predecessor ‘Six of Crows’. ‘Six of Crows’ was absolutely amazing (as Leigh Bardugo’s novels always are). It was tense and gripping with very high stakes, it was full of twists and turns, the world-building was fantastic, and, best of all, it was filled with striking, vivid and unforgettable characters I couldn’t help but immediately grow very attached to. I can’t wait to read the rest of these characters’ story. I particularly cannot wait to see more of Kaz and Inej – they are my one true pairing. I do need to read this book very slowly though – it is the final installment of this duology and I do not want to leave these wonderful characters and this enveloping world behind.

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  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer (November 2016)

 

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

‘The Lunar Chronicles’ by Marissa Meyer is one of my all-time favourite series. I loved all four books – the characters, plot, world-building… everything about them! So naturally ‘Heartless’ has been high up on my most-anticipated list ever since I first heard about it. The synopsis for the novel sounds fantastic and very imaginative. Marissa Meyer is, in my opinion, the queen of retellings, so I am sure that this Alice In Wonderland retelling will be phenomenal, full of magic, excitement, tension, adventure and romance. I am beyond excited to meet Cath and Jest and to enter Wonderland –  November cannot come soon enough!

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  • Windwitch by Susan Dennard 

The follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, next in a breathtaking YA fantasy series hailed by Alexandra Bracken as “a world you will want to inhabit forever.”

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In this follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, a shadow man haunts the Nubrevnan streets, leaving corpses in his wake—and then raising those corpses from the dead. Windwitch continues the tale of Merik—cunning privateer, prince, and windwitch.

This novel actually doesn’t come out for months (Jan 2017 is the release date) and it doesn’t even have a UK cover yet, but that doesn’t stop me from bursting with excitement for it. The Goodreads synopsis I have quoted above includes Alex Bracken’s comment that the world of the Witchlanders is a place ‘you will want to inhabit forever’. That captures my feelings exactly. I loved every second I spent in the world of ‘Truthwitch’ and I cannot wait to return to it. If I could live in any book setting, I’d pick the world of ‘Truthwitch’. I would love to be a Threadwitch, to take part in all the dances and to be a privateer!

‘Truthwitch’ is easily one of the best novels I’ve read this year, if not the best. I had the most amazing time reading it and meeting all the characters. I loved the world-building, the plot and most of all the friendship between the two main characters, Safi and Iseult – their friendship is as strong and takes as much focus as any romance and I love their ‘girl power’. I also cannot wait to see more of Safi and Merik and also Iseult and Aeduan together and to learn more about the different types of witchery and about the Cahr Awen. ‘Truthwitch’ marked the start to an epic and outstanding trilogy, and I eagerly await this next installment. (Can it please be January already?!)

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I’m also very excited about two new and upcoming novels by two of my favourite authors that have just recently been announced.

The first of these is ‘Flame in the Mist’ which will be the opening to a new duology by best-selling author Renee Ahdieh. It’s slated for release in 2017, is set in Japan and is inspired in part by the story of Mulan. I’ve always wanted someone to write a Mulan retelling and who better to do it than the wonderful Renee Ahdieh, who writes so beautifully and vividly that she can turn prose into poetry?

There’s a great interview on Bustle with Renee Ahdieh about this new series:   http://www.bustle.com/articles/177389-the-wrath-and-the-dawn-author-renee-ahdieh-announces-new-duology-flame-in-the-mist

The second is ‘Once and For All’ which will be Sarah Dessen’s 13th novel. I’ve read almost all of Sarah Dessen’s novels and have loved all of them. Her novels are always so enjoyable, thoughtful and inspiring. They in general follow teenage girls during the summer holiday and the protagonists overcome difficulties, forge lasting friendships and find themselves over the course of the summer. Her novels are heart-warming and are a joy to read. I think she is the voice of contemporary YA fiction and she understands exactly what it is like to be a teenager. I cannot wait to read her latest novel.

Here’s the current synopsis of it from Goodreads:

The novel, which is the author’s 13th, follows a just-graduated high schooler with a cynical view of romance and marriage. Burned by her first true love, she’s not ready to give her heart to anyone, when she meets a handsome young man. Set in what Viking called “the chaotic world of wedding planning,” Once and for All is slated for a summer 2017 release.

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme created by other bloggers.

August 2016 reads, Uncategorized

The Architect of Song by A. G. Howard

  • The Architect of Song by A. G. Howard

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 18.48.31.pngRating: * * * * *

Series: #1 Haunted Hearts Legacy

Publisher: Golden Orb Press

Publication Date: August 2016

Goodreads Synopsis:

A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower – intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as – haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts – they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

New Adult: Recommended for ages 16+.

 

Ever since I finished Renee Ahdieh’s sensational debut ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’, I have been looking for something with the same beautiful and mesmerising writing style – a style that renders prose poetry. I found it in my latest read, ‘The Architect of Song’.

The writing of ‘The Architect of Song’, best-selling author Anita Grace Howard’s most recent novel, can only be described as exquisite. I have never before highlighted and bookmarked so many lines, paragraphs and pages on my Kindle device. There were so many  memorable and moving thoughts, speeches and descriptions that I  wanted to savour and read over and over again. There was something so smooth and soothing about the writing of the novel, something – suitably given the title and theme of the novel – positively melodic.

It’s rare that I encourage people to judge a book by its cover, but with this novel I urge just that. The exterior of this novel is stunning, and the inside is just as beautiful.

I loved the way that each chapter starts with a proverb from a different country. The proverbs are very interesting to read and set the tone for each chapter. Each proverb holds much truth and insight. I have to say as well that the illustrations of butterflies and flowers above each chapter heading are very pretty, too. I really need to buy a physical copy of this novel.

I also really enjoyed the fact that often the chapters end with a mini-cliffhanger and revelation. This makes the novel gripping, and keeps the reader turning the pages and not stopping between chapters. Indeed, I devoured this novel in two settings, reading the first 70 percent, sleeping, then reading the next 30 percent. I slowed down for the final few chapters because I did not want the book to end, so enchanted by it was I.

Like any great song, the novel builds to a crescendo for the final few chapters. The ending is filled with twists, turns and revelations that I absolutely did not see coming. It wasn’t predictable at all. At the same time, there were clever little clues as to the reveal at the end dotted here and there. I love it when authors do that as it shows everything has been brilliantly planned out.

The characters in ‘The Architect of Song’ are fantastic. There actually aren’t that many characters, which makes them all easy to keep track of and allows room for them to be really developed. The main character, Juliet, is really likeable – clever, sensitive and good-humoured – and it is lovely to see her grow in confidence over the novel’s course. The two male leads – Thornton and Hawk – both share her sense of humour. Both are charismatic and hold secrets that we cannot wait to discover. Enya, Juliet’s maid, is also a great character – with a secret of her own – and I loved seeing her sibling-like relationship with and loyalty to her mistress.

Another outstanding aspect of ‘The Architect of Song’ is the way that A. G. Howard blends genres. It’s a wonderful mix of history, romance, mystery and fantasy. I love each of these genres individually, so to have them combined is amazing and creates the perfect book for me! It also has the feeling of a fairy-tale to it, which is something else I adore, and something that makes it perfect for fans of ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’, ‘Uprooted’, ‘Shadow and Bone’ and, of course, ‘The Wrath and the Dawn.’

‘Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a young man who lived in a hole. He was the prince of mud and grime. The rats were his chancellors, the spiders his stewards, and the salamanders his jesters of rhyme.’

I said in my review of ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ that no-one writes romance quite like Renee Ahdieh. A. G. Howard certainly gives her a run for her money. The chemistry between the characters in this novel is electric, their romantic gestures swoon-worthy, and their affection and adoration heart-warming.

Overall, ‘The Architect of Song’ is a beautiful, unpredictable and mesmerising novel. It’s a new favourite for me and one I cannot wait to reread. I absolutely adored it, from its unique and intriguing opening to its stunning and satisfying close. I heartily recommend it.

I cannot wait for the next installment in this breathtaking series, and I also cannot wait for A. G. Howard’s next novel, ‘Roseblood’, which comes out in January next year. I love musicals and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is one of my absolute favourites, so this retelling is right up my street and, bearing in mind the beauty and brilliance of ‘The Architect of Song’, it is sure to be amazing.

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