Book Review: Stain – A. G. Howard

Book Review: Stain – A. G. Howard

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Release Date:
15th January 2019
Publisher: Abrams Books
Pages: 512
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins…

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest … disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

Review

book cover (75)This is my first book from A. G. Howard – I have always wanted to read Splintered but haven’t gotten around to it yet – so when I heard about this it immediately went on my TBR. A Gothic fairy tale retelling of The Princess and the Pea? Where do I sign up? I was completely sucked in by that beautiful cover and the synopsis. After just a few chapters I completely fell under the spell of this beautifully written book.

Stain has that gorgeous, lush fairy tale setting and it was so easy to fall into the story of Lyra. She’s a fascinating protagonist – a princess unable to speak or make a sound. I really liked seeing things from her perspective as she grows and survives the trials she has to get through. She’s a strong protagonist and it was so interesting seeing her gain more power and strength. The tale also features a whole host of supporting characters that really added to the story. Vesper was also one of my favourites. He’s the mysterious and intriguing Prince of Night and I really enjoyed the interactions between him and Lyra.

As you can imagine the story does obviously feature a romance but the romance is definitely something of a slow burn – it doesn’t have that insta-love that so many fairy tale stories do. I really liked this as it felt more natural to watch the relationship develop.

Featuring excellent world building and a whole host of lovable characters, Stain is definitely one of my new favourite reads and I’m so looking forward to reading more from A. G. Howard.
5 stars

2019 Reading Resolutions!

2019 Reading Resolutions!

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Hi everyone! I’m back today with some goals and resolutions for 2019. I hadn’t planned to make a post about this but I thought it would be fun to write it and look back on it at the end of the year and see if I managed to complete the goals. So let’s dive in!

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1. Read 150 books

I know a lot of people don’t like to set a high Goodreads goal because it puts too much pressure on them but I personally find it quite helpful to keep my reading on track. In 2016 my goal was 60 and I read 65, 2017 I upped it to 75 and read 88 and last year I set it at 100 and then upped it to 140. I ended on 142 so I’m hoping that reading an extra 8 books won’t be too much of a challenge in 2019 and I might even surpass that.

2. Catalogue my TBR and try and make it smaller

My house is drowning in books. I have no idea how many of them are unread but it’s probably a very large number. I want to take a few days and make a list of all the unread ones and hopefully that number will be smaller by the end of the year. I might even make a page with them all list so I can keep track and keep it updated with the ones I’ve ticked off.

3. Get better at scheduling posts

I usually start off quite well in January and post every other day and then life gets hectic and I forget to post for a week or so. I’d love to get better at scheduling content in advance so I’m most consistent in posting. I also want to get better at posting more consistently on Instagram because I’m honestly terrible at that too.

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4. Get NetGalley to 80%

I don’t read an awful lot of digital copies but I do have quite a few on my NetGalley shelf. My feedback ratio is currently at 51% and I would love to get that up to the recommended 80% but that might just be a dream at this point.

5. Read more outside my comfort zone

Last year I made a concerted effort to read more contemporary books because it isn’t something I normally read. I really enjoyed this and found some books I really love. I’m not going to pick a particular genre this time around but I’d like to read a mixture of things so that my 2019 reads aren’t just 150 adult and ya fantasy books.

6. Participate in more readathons

I sort of discovered readathons for the first time in 2018 and it’s definitely something I want to do more of. I find it really helpful to challenge myself with readathons and it’s a great way to interact with other members of the bookish community.

So those are my bookish resolutions for 2019! What are you hoping to achieve in 2019? Let me know!

Book Review: Before I Let Go – Marieke Nijkamp

Book Review: Before I Let Go – Marieke Nijkamp

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Release Date:
January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 358
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

Review

Where do I start with this strange, beautiful book? I have yet to read Nijkamp’s This is Where It Ends (I have now ordered it and that will soon change), but this book had a really interesting premise and sounded like a good read. After reading just a few pages I was completely sucked in, and I can safely say Before I Let Go is already a contender for my top reads of the year. (I know it’s only January, but it was so so good).

book cover (97)The book is set in this eerie, dark little town called Lost Creek in Alaska. Our main protagonist Corey grew up there but has since moved away, returned after the death of her best friend Kyra. But Lost has change in the months she’s been away, and Corey is no longer part of the community, she’s an outsider which the townspeople don’t take too kindly too. I loved this setting, it was so vividly described and such a claustrophobic and unsettling place. There were more than a few times when I felt a shiver from this cold dark landscape.

I don’t want to say too much about what happens in the story because I would hate to spoil it for anyone, but it touches on so many fascinating subjects – friendship, loyalty, belonging and mental health. It’s a fascinating book, with so many twists and turns that I absolutely didn’t see coming.

I loved Before I Let Go from start to finish – I loved the short chapters that kept my mind racing (and itching to know what was going to happen next). Nijkamp did a fantastic job building up the tension and the suspense, and some of those climax scenes I couldn’t have put the book down if the world around me was ending. The story is set over six days, but so much happens in that time. Corey was such an interesting protagonist, dealing with the grief of losing her friend, of being shunned from the community. I loved her determination, to stand up for what she thought her friend would have wanted, and to find out what really happened.

This spooky eerie thriller will have you on the edge of your seat, The beautiful vivid writing will linger in your mind longer after you’ve finished reading, and if you love a book that will keep you guessing Before I Let Go is just what you need.
5 stars

Book Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

Book Review: The Wicked King – Holly Black

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Series:
The Folk of the Air #2
Release Date: 8th January 2019
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy from my local Waterstones.

Synopsis

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Review

This book gave me such a book hangover I’m not sure I will ever enjoy another book again.

book cover (13)I’m pretty sure that’s all the review you need but I’ll attempt to go into a little bit more detail. The Wicked King is the second instalment in the Folk of the Air series. This is already a massively popular series and book one – The Cruel Prince – was on everyone’s best of 2018 list (including mine). Going into The Wicked King I had a certain amount of trepidation – what if it’s all filler and suffers from second book syndrome?

Well that absolutely was not the case. The Wicked King is unputdownable. The stakes are higher, the plot twists are earth shattering and it is without a doubt one of my all time favourite books. Holly Black has created this immensely lush and beautiful world that is just a dream to be in. The characters are so complex and fascinating – Jude and Cardan are everything but there’s also a whole host of secondary characters who fascinate me so much. Jude is such a fascinating protagonist, fighting for what she wants and I loved seeing things from her perspective.

There’s plenty of action and excitement in The Wicked King too – not to mention a dash of romance. If you’re a fan of twisty fantasy this is definitely a series to pick up and binge read immediately – if you’ve already raced through The Cruel Prince then The Wicked King is worth the wait and definitely needs to be your next read.
5 stars

Book Review: Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron

Book Review: Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron

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Release Date:
22nd March 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillian
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

When angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived.

As the world goes wild for angels, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, still reeling from her mother’s recent death and the sudden disappearance of her ex-girlfriend, she’s determined to stay out of it.

Then something incredible happens: an angel lands right at Jaya’s feet – and it’s alive …

Review

book cover (96)I recently did a 24 hour readathon and this was one of the books I was hoping to get to. After reading just a few pages I was absolutely hooked and I’m pretty sure I barely even breathed as I devoured this beautiful and original book.

This is such an important book and it deals with so many issues. It deals with grief in a really fascinating way as Jaya and her family attempt to recover from her mother’s death. It also deals with friendship, sexuality, race, family relationships and lots more in between. I felt that Out of the Blue was fantastically written, with real and realistic characters. I loved our main character Jaya, there’s so much character development as she finds this angel, meets Allie and her brother Calum, and attempts to understand her place in the world.

One of the things that really made this book for me was the setting. Growing up and living not too far from Edinburgh made this book a must read for me. I loved seeing the familiar setting and the portrayal of the crazy festival season. I thought Sophie Cameron did a wonderful job of bringing Edinburgh to life, as well as making it believable that angels could crash land in the city. When I read the synopsis I wasn’t sure that falling angels would be believable but Cameron’s world-building is superb and powerful.

Out of the Blue is one of those books that stays with you even after you’ve finished reading it. Vivid, beautiful and imaginative, this is definitely one of my favourite books of 2018.
5 stars

Waiting on Wednesday #12: All the Wandering Light – Heather Fawcett

Waiting on Wednesday #12: All the Wandering Light – Heather Fawcett

Synopsis

The second in a sweeping and action-packed fantasy duology loosely inspired by the early climbers of Mount Everest—perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore.

After the terrifying events on Mount Raksha, the witches have returned, and River has betrayed Kamzin to regain his dark powers. The witches’ next step: march on the Three Cities and take over the Empire—led by River’s brother, Esha.

If Kamzin is to save Azmiri and prevent the destruction of the Empire, she must find a star that fell in the Ash Mountains to the north. Fallen stars have immense power, and if Kamzin and Lusha can find the star, they can use its magic to protect their homeland. To get there, Kamzin has allied with Azar-at, the dangerous and deceptive fire demon, who can grant her great power—in exchange for pieces of her soul. But River wants the star too, and as their paths collide in dangerous and unexpected ways, Kamzin must wrestle with both her guilt and her conflicted feelings for the person who betrayed her.

Facing dark magic, a perilous journey, and a standoff against the witches, can Kamzin, Lusha, and Tem find the star and save their Empire?

Thoughts

Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday! This week I’m talking about All the Wandering Light the second instalment in the Even the Darkest Stars duology. I read the first book near enough in one sitting, I loved this beautiful icy cold setting and I really adored the characters. I adore the fact that it’s inspired by the accounts of early climbers of Mount Everest. It’s such a unique idea for a fantasy story. I’ve been dying for more since I turned the last page so I’m incredibly excited about the release of this next book. The fact that it’s a duology means this will also be the last book and I have no idea how it will end. The cover is also stunning if it has as many twists and turns as the last book I’m sure I’ll be up all night reading it. All the Wandering Light is publishing 24th January 2019 from Harper Collins.

Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Authors In 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Authors In 2018

BOOK REVIEW (83).pngToday for Top 10 Tuesday I’m talking about the authors that I read that were new to me in 2018. There were actually quite a few that I read and have become some of my favourite new authors and I’m so pleased that I have a back list of their books to read.

1. Ami Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
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My number one has definitely got to be Ami Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I read and devoured Illuminae and Gemina in 2018 and I also read Lifelik3 by Jay Kristoff and adored that too. I loved their high action space adventures and I’m honestly dying to read Aurora Rising already.

2. V. E. Schwabbook cover (54)
Despite owning a few of her books I’d never read any of them until 2018. I read Vicious and City of Ghosts and they were both five star reads. I thought they were expertly written and I couldn’t put them down and I’m so excited to jump into more of her work.

3. Holly Blackbook cover (13) 
This one is kind of cheating because I did read The Spiderwick Chronicles when I was little, but I honestly don’t remember much about them and couldn’t have told you who the author was at the time. In 2018 I read The Cruel Prince and like everyone else I absolutely fell in love. The Wicked King came out a week or so ago and I can confirm it will definitely be in my favourite books of 2019.

book cover (26)4. Jenny Han
I don’t read much in the way of contemporary so I had never heard the name Jenny Han until the release of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix adaptation. Fast forward a few weeks and I’d read the entire trilogy. Burn for Burn is on my January TBR so I think it’s safe to say she’s definitely a new favourite.

5. Kiersten WhiteUntitled design (18)
Kiersten White is an author I was quite familiar with though I’d never picked up any of her books. I read The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein and it was one of my favourites of last year. I’m definitely looking forward to diving into more of her work and I have an e-ARC of Slayer waiting for me too!
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6. Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking is another name I knew in the bookish community and I had bought a few of her books but they were somewhere in my mammoth TBR. I was kindly sent her Valkyrie duology and I could not put it down. She’s definitely become an author I want to read more from.

7. Sally GreenUntitled design (37)
The Half Bad series is something that sounds right up my alley but for some reason I’ve never picked it up, but when I got sent a copy of The Smoke Thieves I read it in a few sittings and I was really excited to meet Sally at YALC. I’m really hoping to get to the Half Bad books in 2019.
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8. Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel with the Sands is a series that so many people in the bookish community adore and I had never given it a go. I read the first book in the series in 2018 and it completely stole my heart. I can definitely see why Alwyn Hamilton is so beloved and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

9. Kiran Milwood Hargrave book cover (25)
I don’t read an awful lot of middle grade but The Girl of Ink and Stars caught my eye because of it’s beautiful cover and eye-catching title. I adored this story and I was even more excited when I got to read an ARC of The Way Past Winter. If anything I loved this even more and Kiran has definitely become my favourite middle grade author.

book cover (94)10.  Jen Williams
Right at the start of 2018 I was asked to be on the blog tour for The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams. I hadn’t read the first book in the series but it sounded like something I might enjoy so I said yes and ended up reading The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins back to back because they were such brilliant reads.

So those are my top ten new to me authors in 2018! If you’ve read any of their books let me know what you thought or if you’ve a favourite you think I should read and if there were any favourites that were new to you last year.