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.

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Favourite Novels of 2015, Uncategorized

15 Books I Loved in 2015 – First Five

IMG_22272015 was a fantastic year of books! Here are reviews for five of my fifteen favourite books from last year: Saint Anything, Ink and Bone, Vendetta, The Potion Diaries, and Am I Normal Yet? 

Feel free to post your favourites and any recommendations from last year or for the new year in the comments!

  • Saint Anything, Sarah Dessen

My rating:  * * * * * 

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: May 2015

Goodreads synopsis: ‘Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.’

I am a huge fan of Sarah Dessen novels, and I was very excited to read her latest one. I loved Saint Anything  and would definitely rate it as one of my favourites of Dessen’s novels, along with ‘The Truth About Forever’, ‘Just Listen’ and ‘Along For the Ride.’

Sydney, the protagonist of Saint Anything, feels invisible, and the novel is her journey from feeling that she lacks any kind of identity and is overshadowed by her brother, to finding a loyal group of friends, coming to terms with the actions committed by her brother, Peyton, and finding herself.

I love Layla, Sydney’s vivid and energetic friend. She brings  wonderful humour to the novel, with her gift of 50 root beer lollipops to Sydney, her verdicts on French Fries from different sources and systematic process for applying condiments to them, and her gobsmacked amazement at the studio in Sydney’s house.

I also really enjoy the fact that a recurring theme throughout the novel is Sydney’s ability to make predictions about people from their pizza orders. She helps out Layla’s brother, Mac, with the orders, and always manages to successfully guess the purchasers.

Dessen’s novels are always thought-provoking, with a reflective quality to the prose. One of my favourite quotes from the novel is from a scene where Sydney is with Mac, and she comments on the way he never throws anything away, and Mac replies:

‘”There’s no shame in trying to make stuff work, is how I see it. It’s better than just accepting the broken.”I wanted to say he was lucky he even had a choice. That for most of us, once something was busted, it was game over. I would have loved to know how it felt, just once, to have something fall apart and see options instead of endings.’

Sydney is a figure who you attach to straight away, because the difficulties she faces in feeling invisible are ones felt by all teenagers at some point. Like all Dessen protagonists, at the close of the novel, she feels like an old friend. Her story is moving and also dark at times, but it is ultimately hugely uplifting and one with great heart.

 

  • Ink and Bone, Rachel Caine

My rating:  * * * * * 

Series: #1 The Great Library series

Publisher: Allison and Busby

Publication date: July 2015

Goodreads synopsis: ‘Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…’

I was so excited to find this book. During a reading slump I was looking up my favourite authors, checking if they had any books coming out. I went on Rachel Caine’s website and saw that she was writing a new novel….and that it was due out on July 7th. And this was on July 6th! And I had no idea it was coming out so I didn’t have a long wait! I rushed to get it on July 7th, and was hooked from then on.

The prologue is an absolutely gripping introduction to the novel. In it, the young Jess, the protagonist, who is illegally smuggling a book to give to a private owner, discovers just how corrupt his society is, and the selfish greed that people have for knowledge. The sight that he witnesses is one which he will never forget, and it ignites his appreciation for novels and his commitment to protecting them.

The world building in this novel is first class. The setting has a 1984- feel to it of constantly being observed, with the automaton lions and their ever-watchful eyes, the London Garda, and the formidable force of the Library.

Additionally, I really like the fact that between chapters there are notes, decrees or letters from and to Archivists, Obscurists, and Linguas, from across the centuries, which build up the sense of the Library as a sinister being, and those at the forefront of it as manipulative, controlling and dangerous. Tension builds throughout the novel, through the main plot, and also through these letters.

The novel is packed with fantastic characters, from Jess, a protagonist who you automatically root for, his inventive best friend, Thomas, and his initially aggressive roommate, Dario, to Morgan, a mysterious latecomer to the Library, and Wolfe, the fierce mentor to the Scholars.

The final chapters of novel are really tense and climactic, with Jess’ decision about Morgan, the Postulants’ positions for the next year being revealed, and the appearance of the Artifex.

I am hugely excited for more of Jess’ story in Book 2!

  • Vendetta, Catherine Doyle

My rating:  * * * * * 

Series: #1 Blood for Blood series

Publisher: Chicken House

Publication date: February 2015

Goodreads synopsis: ‘When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys’ dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.’

This book is awesome!

A great strength of Vendetta is that you can visualise everything. Doyle gives the perfect amount of description of the settings, the characters, and the situations in the novel so that it captures your imagination. The publisher’s note at the beginning of the book compares it to a movie and he is absolutely right. This is especially true of the scene where Luca pulls up and interrupts Sophie and Nic in his car, of the basketball game scenes, and of the final scenes, but the whole book is like watching a TV thriller.

YA romantic thrillers can sometimes be cliché, but Vendetta is not because it’s so well written. There is romance but there is also constant tension and many twists and turns throughout the novel.  I really like the idea of the jar of honey mentioned in the beginning and its later significance.

The dialogue, too, is punchy and I love the way that Doyle intersperses bits of Italian for the scenes with the brothers. I enjoy the way that each of the five brothers has a distinctive personality and the way that they act around each other is also really interesting. Valentino’s speech about masks is a stand out:

‘This life is so complex that we rarely get to be the people we are truly meant to be. Instead, we wear masks and put up walls to keep from dealing with the fear of rejection, the feeling of regret, the very fear that someone may not love us for who were are deep in our core, that they might not understand the things that drive us. I want to study the realness of life, not the gloss. There is beauty everywhere; even in the dark, there is light, and that is the rarest kind of all.’ 

However, most of all, I love Luca and his complicated relationship with the heroine, Sophie. Their notes to each other later on in the book are adorable. I really hope there’s lots of Luca in the second book!

I would definitely recommend Vendetta and the great news is….it’s less than a month until the sequel, Inferno, is out! I cannot wait!

  • The Potion Diaries, Amy Alward

My rating:  * * * * * 

Series: #1 Potion 

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publication date: July 2015

Goodreads synopsis: ‘When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then.’

This novel is the perfect summer read: witty, charming, and creative!

The parts from Evelyn’s – the Princess of Nova, who has fallen in love with herself- POV are hilarious, especially her awe at first glimpsing her own reflection:

‘She’s over there, by the mirror. I can just about spy her out of the corner of my eye. My god, she is so beautiful. I should go over to her. I should say hello.’

The novel is also action-packed. The main protagonist, Sam, faces confrontations with a crone mermaid, the evil magician and royal family member Emilia Thoth, and even an abominable, after joining the Wilde Hunt, and there are no dull moments in the novel.

I also really like the inclusion of social media, as although it’s a huge part of the modern world, it isn’t a part of as many YA books as I would think it would be. The use of social media site ‘Connect’ in The Potion Diaries builds tension as different participants check in ready to fly to find ingredients, and adds to the competitive nature of the Hunt.

The Hunt is a battle between corporations, like ZoroAster, which manufacture synthetic ingredients on a large scale, and family-run businesses, like the Kemis’, who use the ancient art of potion making. This parallels a very real problem in our society – that of big businesses thriving at the expense of smaller ones.

I love following Sam’s discoveries of the different ingredients, the highs and lows of her time in the Hunt, and her journey to different countries to find elusive parts of the potion – the novel is full of adventure.  The last ingredient is particularly inventive.

Overall, The Potion Diaries is a refreshing novel which is huge amounts of fun to read, and I would definitely recommend it for holiday reading.

  • Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne 

My rating:  * * * * * 

Series: #1 Normal Series

Publisher: Usborne 

Publication date: August 2015

Goodreads synopsis: All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

This novel is a must-read. It’s witty, honest, sensitive and heartfelt, and deals with important topics such as mental health and how it’s viewed, feminism, and relationships.

I absolutely love the friendship between Evie, Amber and Lottie, and the humourous conversations that they have together. They each have distinctive personalities but fit together perfectly and are constantly entertained in each other’s company. It’s the ultimate friendship. Even when Evie is suffering at home, with them she is always laughing. 

I also really want to join their Spinster Club! What a great idea. ‘We can reinvent the word ‘spinster’, make it the complete opposite of what it means? Like ‘young’ and ‘independent’ and ‘strong’? Their enthusiasm in making the group is tangible, and passes over to the reader, inspiring them, too. Additionally, being in that group with Amber and Lottie makes means, for Evie, that, ‘For the first time ever in my life, I felt strong.’ Her friendship with Amber and Lottie empowers her

The structuring of the novel is also really effective, with the excerpts from Evie’s recovery diary, inputs of ‘bad’ and ‘good’ thoughts, text messages, and the subheadings, such as, ‘How to Wash Your Hands – The Evie Way’.  

Over the course of the book, through following her journey, you grow close to Evie and feel a connection with her. She is such a vivid protagonist, with a character you instantly warm to and feel for. The question she poses, ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ is one which all teenagers ask themselves at some point. 

This book underlines the seriousness of mental health issues, and  challenges the stigmas and assumptions that people make about them. I think, therefore, that this novel is not only an enjoyable read, but a highly relevant one.