Tome Topple TBR!

Tome Topple TBR!

BOOK REVIEW (22)
This is my first time participating in the tome topple readathon. This time it’s running from 16th of November until the 29th. The only rule is to read those tomes over 500 pages that have been lurking on your TBR shelf! I actually have tons of great big books on my TBR so I’ve picked a few books that I definitely want to try and read over the two weeks and then hopefully I might get to a couple more. There are five challenges for the readathon:
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1. Read more than one tome

I’m hopefully going to fufill this challenge by completing the other ones and then I’ll have read more than one book but I’m definitely hoping to get to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee during the readathon!

2. Read a graphic novel (still over 500 pages!)

This is the one challenge I’m not participating in. I looked through all the graphic novels I own and not a single one was over 500 pages and I am not planning to buy any so I’m missing this one out!

Untitled design (72)3. Read a tome that is part of a series
For this I thought I would pick up Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Ami Kaufman. I’ve wanted to read this for ages and although its nearly 600 pages I still think it will be a pretty quick and addictive read.

4. Buddy read a tome
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I’m buddy reading a book with my boyfriend and for this challenge we’re going to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This is one of the few Neil Gaiman books I’ve never read and I’m also dying to watch the TV series so hopefully we can get through this massive book during the readathon.
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5. Read an adult novel

I’ve got a few options for this one but I think I might reread Red Sister by Mark Lawrence and if I have time pick up Grey Sister in time for Holy Sister coming out next year. That way I can be all caught up!

So those are the books I’m going to attempt for tome topple! Are you participating in the readathon? If you are let me know what you’re planning to read and if you’ve read any of these do let me know what you think!

Strangeathon Wrap Up!

Strangeathon Wrap Up!

BOOK REVIEW (21)
I recently participated in a spooky Halloween readathon called Strangeathon. The challenge was to read fourteen books in two weeks which I didn’t manage at all because I was working on passing my theory driving test (I passed!) I did manage a fair few of the challenges though so I thought I would do a quick wrap up post. I’m not really going to talk about the books because I talked about most of them in my October wrap up so if you want to know more you can take a little look here!
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Challenge #2 – Thriller Killer: Read a thrilling book

I picked up a little penguin classic of Shirley Jackson’s The Missing Girl and two other tales. These were thrilling unsettling tales that I absolutely flew through and I enjoyed them. Overall rating for this one was 3/5 stars.

Challenge #3 – Halloween Icon: Read a book with something iconic to Halloween on the cover
For this I read Strange Ink by Gary Kemble. It has a skeleton on the cover and it was dark and gripping and a really well done thriller. You can take a look at my full review for it here! I gave it 4/5 stars.

Untitled design (18)Challenge #6 – Horror Monster: Read a book with a creature that is often the villain
For this I read The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein as Frankenstein’s Monster is often a horror monster. I absolutely loved this book and it was one of my favourites of last months reading. I gave it 5/5 stars.

Challenge #8 – Tales From the Grave: Read a short story collection
For this I picked up some classic Edgar Allan Poe tales in The Murders In the Rue Morgue. These three tales are seen as the forerunner to well known detective stories by the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle. They were really fascinating and I gave them 3/5 stars.
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Challenge #9 – Setting Fun: Read a book with a spooky location

For this challenge I completed Strange Places by Katherine Arden which was a spooky fun ghost story that I completely adored. It’s set on a haunted farm which I thought was a pretty spooky location and I gave it 5/5 stars.

Challenge #10 – Blood Red: Read a book with a red or orange cover
I had originally planned to read Last Time I Lied but I ended up reading Spellbound by Cate Tiernan which has an orangey/red cover. I’ve really been enjoying revisiting this fun witchy series and gave it 5/5 stars.

Untitled design (70)Challenge #11 – Darkness Within: Read a book in darker conditions that normal
I picked up Bram Stoker’s Dracula for this because I haven’t read it in so long. I ended up reading it on the Kindle and pretty much only read a few chapters in bed each night in the dark so that definitely counted as darker conditions than normal.

Challenge #12 – Striking Title: Read a book based purely on the title
Without a doubt I had to read The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton. The title really drew my eye and I was really excited to read this witchy tale. I enjoyed it but I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I’d hoped so I only gave this 3/5 stars.

Untitled design (22)Challenge #14 – The F-Up: Read a book that has nothing to do with Halloween
I ended up reading Sleeper: Red Storm by J. D. Fennell for this as I had a blog tour review coming up for it. I really enjoyed this action packed spy thriller and it had nothing Halloweeny about it so it fit the bill really well and I gave it 4/5 stars.

So I completed nine out of the fourteen challenges and I’m pretty pleased with that! Did you participate in any readathons in October? If you did what did you read?

Book Review: The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill

Book Review: The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill

BOOK REVIEW (20)
Release Date: May 3rd 2018
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: My boyfriend bought me a copy of this book.

Synopsis

Deep beneath the sea, off the cold Irish coast, Gaia is a young mermaid who dreams of freedom from her controlling father. On her first swim to the surface, she is drawn towards a human boy. She longs to join his carefree world, but how much will she have to sacrifice? What will it take for the little mermaid to find her voice? Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale is reimagined through a searing feminist lens, with the stunning, scalpel-sharp writing and world building that has won Louise her legions of devoted fans. A book with the darkest of undercurrents, full of rage and rallying cries: storytelling at its most spellbinding.

Review

I must admit that part of what drew me to this book was that absolutely stunning cover art. After reading the blurb and finding out it was a feminist little mermaid retelling I was desperate to pick up a copy. This story is beautifully written and has stuck with me well after finishing it. It was dark, disturbing and one of my favourite retellings ever.

Untitled design (69)I’ve never read the Hans Christian Andersen version of this story but I must say it is a far cry from the happily ever after of the Disney version. This story is a brutal one. The world of the mermaids is a tough, patriarchal society in which the women are expected to stay quiet and do as they’re told. Gaia has no say in her life, her future or who she will marry. Her father is a cruel and vile man, who plays Gaia off against her sisters. This world is ugly and dark but O’Neill draws you in deeper and deeper to this engrossing story.

I thought Gaia was an excellent protagonist and I liked seeing the world from her perspective. O’Neill’s world building is superb and I found it easy to read The Surface Breaks and then sink back in a few hours later. The writing is gripping, the plot is really engaging and it definitely brings a fresh perspective to an old tale. If you haven’t picked up The Surface Breaks yet, you definitely need to soon because this one is not to be missed.
5 stars

Predicting Five Star Reads!

Predicting Five Star Reads!

BOOK REVIEW (19)
Today I thought I would try something a little different and make a list of books I think are going to be five star reads. I thought it would be interesting because after I’ve read them I can make a comparison post and see if I was right! So here goes with ten books I’m predicting to be five star reads:

Untitled design (62)1. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
This has been on my TBR for SO LONG and I don’t even know why. I love Leigh Bardugo but for some reason I haven’t read Six of Crows or Crooked Kingdom yet. It baffles me because I know I’m going to love them. I’m hoping this post will definitely force me to read this duology, and I would especially love to get to them before King of Scars comes out in January.
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2. Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

I definitely think I’m going to give Muse of Nightmares five stars. Strange the Dreamer was on a whole other level of five star reads so I have no doubt that this is going to be just as full of magic and that beautiful writing that pulls you into the city of Weep.
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3. Vengeful – V. E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab is definitely my favourite author of 2018. Prior to this year I hadn’t read any of her books. I’ve since read City of Ghosts, Vicious, Warm Up and I just recently started The Dark Vault. I loved all of them so so much and I’ve seen so many people saying Vengeful is a brilliant read.

Untitled design (63)4. And I Darken – Kiersten White
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of my all time favourite books and so when I saw someone talking about Kiersten White’s And I Darken I pretty much ordered a copy immediately. For some reason I still haven’t read it yet but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a five star read. I read The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein last month and it was a five star read, so I have high expectations.

Untitled design (67)5. An Ember In the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir
I think I’ve been living under a rock because I’m the only person that hasn’t read this series yet. I own this book and A Torch Against the night and I’ve read so many rave reviews and seen so many booktube videos of people gushing about how amazing this book is that I have no doubt I’m going to absolutely love it.

Untitled design (68)6. The Court of Broken Knives – Anna Smith Spark
I recently went to an event with Anna Smith Spark, Cameron Johnston and Anna Stephens and Anna talked about this series and she also read an extract that sounded amazing. It sounded like the perfect high action fantasy series and that is definitely up my alley.

Untitled design (28)7. Sea Witch – Sara Henning
I have tentatively put this on the list because I know it has received some mixed reviews but from the premise it sounds like a five star read. I know it is a retelling of The Little Mermaid fairytale but from the point of view of the Sea Witch. It has a gorgeous cover and it sounds like a really atmospheric read so I’m hopefully going to pick this one up soon.

Untitled design (64)8. Illuminae – Jay Kristoff and Ami Kaufman
This is another one that I swore I was going to get to in 2018. I have a month and a bit left but it’s fairly likely I won’t get around to it in that time. I am also interested in listening to this on audiobook because I’ve heard many people say the audiobooks are perfect for this because it’s told with lots of different formats like interviews and letters and things. I think it sounds like a really phenomenal read and if I don’t read it in 2018 it is the highest priority for next year.

Untitled design (66)9. Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake
I love dark fantasy series and this is one that I have been meaning to read for a while. I know Two Dark Reigns came out fairly recently so I’m hoping that maybe I can binge read the series at some point soon. Again I’ve seen quite a few people rave about this and it sounds really intriguing.

Untitled design (65)10. The Girl King – Mimi Yu
This is a recent addition to my TBR that I got at YALC and honestly I’m so excited to read it. The cover is just gorgeous and the tagline is This is coming out in January of next year and honestly I am just so excited to read it. “Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this sweeping tale of ambition, sacrifice and betrayal. All hail the Girl King.” This is coming out in January of next year and honestly I am just so excited to read it.

So those are the books I’m predicting will be five star reads. What are some books you think will be five star reads for you? And if you’ve read any of these let me know what you rated them!!

 

Book Review: Witchsign – Den Patrick

Book Review: Witchsign – Den Patrick

BOOK REVIEW (18)
Series: Ashen Torment #1
Release Date: 22nd May 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I pre-ordered this at my local Waterstones.

Synopsis

It has been seventy-five years since the dragons’ rule of fire and arcane magic over Vinkerveld was ended, and the Empire was born. Since, the tyrannical Synod has worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane across the lands.

However, children are still born bearing the taint of the arcane, known to all as witchsign. So each year the Emperor sends out his Vigilants across the continent to detect the arcane in these children. Those found tainted are taken, and never seen again. Steiner has always suspected his sister Kjellrunn of bearing witchsign. But when their father’s attempt to protect her from the Invigilation backfires, it is Steiner who is mistakenly taken. However it is not death which awaits Steiner, but an Academy where the children with witchsign learn to master their powers – some at the cost of their lives. Steiner is determined to escape the Academy and protect his sister from this fate.

But powerful enemies await him at every turn, and Steiner finds himself taken on a journey straight into the heart of the Empire’s deepest secrets, which will force him to reconsider everything he has known about witchsign.

Review

I really loved Den Patrick’s The Erebus Sequence so I was really excited to pick up a copy of this brilliant sounding book. The cover is just gorgeous and it sounds like a captivating story. Witchsign is the kind of book that you want to read all the time, squeezing in a chapter on the commute, on a lunch break and any other possible time.

Untitled design (61)I adored the world of Witchsign. Patrick creates a really fascinating world and the bleak and desolate landscape really comes across in his writing. The magic system and world building are told in a really elegant way, we are told plenty of information without it being a knowledge dump right at the start. It creates a really rich tapestry of magic, dragons and the cruel control of the Empire.

The story is told in alternating POVs between Steiner and his sister Kjellrunn, and I loved both of them as main characters. It’s rare in books with differing POVs that I like both perspectives equally, but in Witchsign I was dying to know what was happening to both characters.

I really enjoyed Patrick’s writing style and I loved the idea that the Steiner as ‘the one chosen’ is actually chosen by mistake. The story was quick paced, full of action and I definitely grew attached to the mix of characters. In Witchsign Patrick has created an enticing world and I can’t wait to delve back in with book two.
5 stars

October Wrap Up!

October Wrap Up!

BOOK REVIEW (17)
October is one of my favourite reading months. So many spooky books come out and it’s dark and cold outside and all I want to do is huddle under a blanket with my cat and a good book. Somehow in the month of October I managed to read sixteen books and one short story – I’m not even sure how that happened. I participated in a readathon which I think really helped and also quite a few of theses were on the shorter side. I’m going to keep it brief about each book because quite a few of them have featured in readathon wrap up posts or have full review posts up already.

Untitled design (59)1. A Blade So Black – L. L. McKinney
This Alice in Wonderland retelling was quick paced, action packed and so much fun. I raced through it and it’s definitely one of my favourite Alice retellings that I’ve ever encountered. I participated in the blog tour for this and you can check out my extract from the book here. (Rating: 4/5 stars)
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2. The Woods Vol 1 – James Tynion IV
This is the first instalment in a graphic novel series about a school that disappears into another realm. Full of strange monsters and dark and creepy sequences I thought this was an interesting start, although it didn’t grip me as much as I hoped that it would. (Rating: 3.5/5 stars)
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3. The Wicked Deep – Shea Earnshaw
This was the biggest surprise of my October reading. I adored this book. Dark and creepy, this story was so atmospheric and unfolded in such a clever way. It was the perfect Halloween read and it is definitely going on my favourites list. (Rating: 5/5 stars)
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4. Vicious – Victoria Schwab
I finally read Vicious and it was so amazing. Victoria Schwab is pretty much the Queen of books, everything I’ve read by her is magnificent and it just makes me want to read everything that she’s ever written. (Rating: 5/5 stars)

Untitled design (58)5. Warm Up – Victoria Schwab
In the back of my edition of Vicious there was a short story entitled Warm Up, which shows another EO and his encounter with Eli. It was pretty short but I enjoyed the chance to see Eli from another perspective and of course to read more of Victoria’s writing. (Rating: 4/5 stars)
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6. Daughter of the Siren Queen – Tricia Levenseller
I absolutely loved the first book in this duology and was really excited to dive back in. This one is a bit darker than the previous book and definitely felt a lot more intense and high stakes. It was a brilliant read and I highly recommend these books. (Rating: 4/5 stars)

Untitled design (7)7. One Of Us Is Lying – Karen McManus
This YA thriller is incredibly popular so I was looking forward to picking it up and seeing what all the fuss is about. The story is quick paced and enjoyable and there were more than a few twists that I didn’t see coming. I fell the ending was a little unbelievable but it was still a really fun read. (Rating: 3.75/5 stars)

Untitled design (16)8. Small Spaces – Katherine Arden
Katherine Arden is one of my favourite authors so I was really excited to see how she writes a Middle Grade novel. Honestly I absolutely loved this. Ollie is a brilliant protagonist. The story is dark and creepy with plenty of adventure. It’s a perfect autumn read and I’m so glad I picked it up. (Rating: 5/5 stars)

Untitled design (26)9. The Price Guide to the Occult – Leslye Walton
I haven’t read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender but I know lots of people adore that book. This is the authors newest release and honestly I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting a very atmospheric magical read but I didn’t really connect with the characters and the story fell a bit flat for me. (Rating: 3/5 stars)

Untitled design (57)10. The Murders in the Rue Morgue – Edgar Allan Poe
It wouldn’t be Halloween without reading some Edgar Allan Poe! This is a set of three stories featuring Dupin, one of the earliest detectives who uses logic and reasoning to discover who did the crime. The stories were interesting and I enjoyed the big reveal of how the crime was committed but I definitely prefer his more Gothic and creepy tales. (Rating: 3/5 stars)
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11. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Kiersten White
This is my first book by Kiersten White and certainly not my last. I love Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so to read this reimagining from the point of view of Elizabeth was just a dream. I loved the characters and I think White did a brilliant job. (Rating: 5/5 stars)

Untitled design (12)12. Strange Ink – Gary Kemble
This has got to be one of the most original concepts I’ve ever read. The story follows a man who wakes up one morning with a tattoo he has no memory of getting. He chalks it up to too much alcohol but as more and more tattoos keep appearing and he becomes wrapped up in their mystery, he discovers he’s actually part of a much bigger plot. This book was so fascinating and I couldn’t put it down. (Rating: 4/5 stars)

Untitled design (53)13. The Missing Girl – Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is relatively new to me, I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle earlier in the year. I thought I would try my hand at some of her short stories. This little Penguin Modern Classic features three of her tales full of eeriness and that unsettling feeling. This is another one that is definitely perfect for Halloween. (Rating: 3/5 stars)

Untitled design (56)14. Spellbound – Cate Tiernan
This is the sixth instalment of the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan. I loved these books as a teenager and so I am revisiting them slowly. I love the blend of magic in these books and the sense of nostalgia reading them again. These books are pretty short and really quick so they’re perfect for reading in a single sitting. (Rating: 5/5 stars)
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15. The Last Namsara – Kirsten Ciccarelli
This is the first book in a YA fantasy featuring a whole host of magic, folklore and DRAGONS. It’s a really exciting book and I loved the blend of action and romance that this story has. (Rating: 4/5 stars)

Untitled design (54)16. The Caged Queen – Kirsten Ciccarelli
The Caged Queen is the second book in the Iskari series. This book follows a different character – one we meet briefly in The Last Namsara. This book was much more focused on politics and intrigue and I ended up loving it even more than the first book in the series. You can see my stop on the blog tour here! (Rating: 5/5 stars)

Untitled design (22)17. Sleeper: The Red Storm – J. D. Fennell
Sleeper: The Red Storm is the second in the series that features Sleeper agent Will Starling. I loved the first book in the series so I was so excited to dive back into this mixture of historical fiction and spy thriller. Bursting to the seams with action, explosions and fighting, The Red Storm is a fantastic new instalment to the series and I’m already dying to find out what happens next. You can take a look at my full review here! (Rating: 4/5 stars)

So that’s all the books I read in October! What did you read in October? And if you read any of these let me know what you thought!

Book Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – Yaba Badoe

Book Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars – Yaba Badoe

BOOK REVIEW (16)
Release Date: 7th March 2018
Publisher: Zephyr
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Sante isn’t sure where she comes from, but she has a recurring dream of escaping a shipwreck in a sea chest as a baby with her lifelong companion, golden eagle Priss. In the chest was an African bamboo flute, a drum and a dagger inlaid with diamonds. Sante was found and raised by Mama Rose, leader of a nomadic group of misfits and gypsies. They travel around contemporary southern Europe, living off-grid and performing circus tricks for money. Sante grows up alongside two twins, knife-thrower Cat and snake-charmer Cobra, whom she is in love with. During a performance in Cadiz, Sante recognises two men from her dream. They come after her to retrieve the treasures from the sea chest. Sante finds out that she is an Ashanti princess, whose parents probably perished in the shipwreck. After Cat rescues a beautiful red-haired girl called Scarlett from a gang, Mama Rose’s band are forced to flee the city. But Sante and Cobra stay behind, determined to find out more about her family and where she came from.

Review

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a magical realism novel that follows fourteen year old Sante and her friends as they live off the grid and travel around Europe. Sante has a recurring dream about a shipwreck and longs to know the meaning of her dreams and what really happened to her parents.

Untitled design (52)I really wanted to love this book, I thought it sounded like a really fascinating book and I loved the blend of real life and magic but in truth it fell a little flat for me. I thought the cover was stunning and the story was a wonderful mix of magic and folklore, but for I couldn’t connect with the characters and the plot felt a little chaotic for me.

Badoe has a really beautiful writing style and this was the part of the book I enjoyed the most. I liked our protagonist Sante well enough and she undergoes a massive amount of character development in the book but I just didn’t fall in love with the story the way I was really hoping to. I liked seeing her relationships with the rest of the circus troupe – how they look after each other and become such a close knit family.

The story highlights a lot of really important issues, focusing on human trafficking, refugees, friendship and family. The plot is pretty quick paced and the world building was interesting. Overall this book is a fascinating debut and I definitely want to read more from this author but was a bit on the disappointing side. If you’re a fan of magical realism or quick paced stories, this one might be just what you’re looking for.

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