July Wrap Up!

July Wrap Up!

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I’m a bit behind on posting wrap ups so I thought I would do a quick post of all the books I read in July! I moved house in July and things were a bit manic so I only managed to read a few books.

book cover - 2019-03-11T211035.2501. The Furies – Katie Lowe
The Furies follows a girl named Violet who is starting at the elite Elm Hollow Academy. There she is befriended by a group of girls who attend a study group focusing on Witch trials and the occult. The girls start to believe that magic is real, but when a former member of the group turns up dead, Violet starts to wonder if she can trust these girls, and what really happened to Robin. I adored this book so much. It’s definitely a favourite of the year it was dark and intense and I completely fell in love with the characters. I can’t wait to read more from Katie Lowe. Full review can be found here! (5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (30)2. Aphrodite Made Me Do It – Trista Mateer
My quest to broaden my reading and try and read things outwith my comfort zone meant I picked up this gorgeous little book of poetry. Poetry isn’t something I read much of but I found myself really enjoying this powerful collection mixing feminism and Greek mythology. I definitely found some of the passages quite inspiring and I really want to try and read more poetry in the future. I love the eye-catching cover too and if you want to read my full thoughts you can check out my review here. (4/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (70)3. Wanderers – Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig is an author I’ve always wanted to check out so I jumped at the opportunity to read his laterest book Wanderers. This story was completely unlike anything I had read before and it had me hooked from the outset. The story a group of people who wake up one morning and just start walking. Nothing will stop them from walking and if they are restrained things start to go wrong. The story follows the loved ones of the walkers, attempting to stay with their family and keep them safe. This story was so addictive and even though it’s a tomb I raced through it. I can’t recommend it highly enough and I’ve already forced several family members to read it. (4.5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (56)4. Night Film – Marisha Peshl
This is without a doubt my favourite thriller of all time. I got this book for Christmas and picked it up on a whim, but I’m so glad that I did. The story follows the murder of a young woman who’s father is a famous and reclusive film director. Disgraced investigative journalist Scott McGrath starts looking into the case after his previous investigation into the Cordova family cost him his job. As he delves into the mysteries surrounding the family he starts to wonder if there’s more to them than meets the eye. I honestly couldn’t put this book down, I loved it so much. I was constantly questioning what was real and what wasn’t. There are tons of really spine tingling moments and I genuinely had to google to see if Cordova was a real person because the story felt so real. Night Film is a brilliant brilliant read. (5/5 stars)

Copy of book cover (69)5. Lies You Never Told Me – Jennifer Donaldson
Lies You Never Told Me is a fun and fast paced YA thriller. The story follows two seemingly unconnected characters and the relationships they develop – one a young girl with her drama teacher and another a young boy with a manipulative and controlling girl. As both try to escape from their relationships things get more and more out of control. The story is interesting, with quite a few plot twists but felt very much like your typical YA thriller. The characters were quite one dimensional and I guessed the ending quite early on. (3/5 stars) 

So those are the five books I read in July! Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought and what books you’ve been reading and loving recently!

Book Review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Book Review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

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Series:
Strange the Dreamer #1
Release Date: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Hodder Books
Pages: 536
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Review

Copy of book cover (68)Strange the Dreamer is without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2017. I always feel a bit of trepidation when I start a book that is as hyped up as this one, but it absolutely lived up to expectation, it’s a stunning book from beginning to end.

The world building in this book is just astounding. Everything is mapped out and there’s so much depth that I sunk into the story immediately. This is the kind of book I want to carry around with me all the time, it’s fantastically written with the most beautiful prose. Strange the Dreamer isn’t a crazy action packed story – it’s much more of a slow burner – but I enjoyed it all the more for that reason. It gave you the opportunity to really get to know the world you’re in, and of course the exceptional characters.

Normally for me there’s always one or two characters that stick out as my favourite, but with Strange the Dreamer I loved them all – Lazlo, Sarai, Eril-Fane and Ruby, they’re all expertly crafted and fully rounded out characters. Each one is dealing with a complex past and I loved getting to know each and every one of them, I honestly cannot praise this book highly enough. If you only read one book in 2017, it should be Strange the Dreamer.

This book has pretty much everything a reader could want – there’s magic and mystery, action and explosions and of course a dash of romance. As well as all that the story is wrapped around the young characters coming of age and learning their place in this magical world. This book gave me one hell of a book hangover, and now I am (not so patiently) waiting for book two in this fantastic series. I also have to confess that somehow, despite owning several of Laini Taylor’s books, this is the first of her books that I’ve read. I am now away to barricade myself in a room, to catch up on the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series.
5 stars

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron

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Series:
Kingdom of Souls #1
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an E-ARC of this through Netgalley
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Review

Copy of book cover (67)Kingdom of Souls follows Arrah, the daughter of two incredibly powerful witch doctors. She has a lot to live up to, and things are made worse by the fact that she doesn’t seem to be able to use magic at all. As she returns to the Kingdom she hears that children have been mysteriously vanishing and when she uncovers the reason why she discovers she might have to pay the ultimate price to stop an ancient evil being released.

I’ve really been loving dark, addictive fantasy books so this sounded right up my street. I was hooked straight away and this book ended up being a whole lot darker and grittier than I was expecting. It’s full to the brim with magic, sacrifice, demons and power. It does also contain quite a few trigger warnings, so please bear that in mind before reading.

The story is quite a complex one, there are quite a lot of characters and at times I found myself getting a bit lost with who was who. Our main protagonist Arrah is brilliant though, I really liked her perspective and she undergoes lots of character development as she goes from being a young girl desperate for magic to trying to stop the demon king at any cost.

The world building is also fascinating, the author has steeped the whole world in magic and lore and there’s so much detail surrounding the magic system, the gods and the demons. I really love when stories really built an in depth world and it really felt easy to fall into the world of Kingdom of Souls.

I really enjoyed the story in this one, it was gripping and engaging. I think this book would have been a five stars for me but I just felt the pacing was a little off in the second half of the book, losing its edge a little toward the end. Despite that I still thoroughly enjoyed Kingdom of Souls – it’s a dark, vivid tale of family, magic and sacrifice and it’s definitely worth checking out and I’m so looking forward to book two!
4 stars

What’s On My Netgalley Shelf? #2

What’s On My Netgalley Shelf? #2

When I did this post a few months ago I thought it would be a way for me to try and increase my terrible Netgalley ratio as well as highlight some of the Netgalley books I’m excited to be reading. I have been struggling reading ebooks recently so instead of improving my ratio has gone down from 48% to 44%. I’ve been trying to limit my requesting, only asking for books that I really really want to read. I am determined to get this increased over the next few months and get some of these checked off my TBR!

1. The Black Hawks – David Wragg
Copy of book cover (62)I’ve seen a bit of buzz about this one on Twitter so when a Netgalley widget appeared in my inbox I was unable to resist the temptation to download a copy.

Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.

When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.

All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.

With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.

Prepare to join the Black Hawks.
2. Angel Mage – Garth Nix
Copy of book cover (63)I am so so excited for this book. Garth Nix is one of my favourite authors and I’ve read so many of his wonderful books. Angel Mage sounds brilliant and it’s definitely a high priority read.

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

3. Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chobsky
Copy of book cover (64)I really enjoyed The Perks of Being A Wallflower and read it a few times growing up so I’m really intrigued to be try his latest novel. I’ve been putting it off a little because it’s so huge (700+ pages) but I’m hoping to get to it soon.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

4. The Bone Ships – R. J. Barker
Copy of book cover (65)R.J. Barker is an author who I’m dying to read and just haven’t had the chance to pick up yet. I own the Age of Assassin books and think they look right up my alley, but I just haven’t read them yet. The Bone Ships sounds even more incredible, so I couldn’t resist clicking the request button.

A brilliantly imagined saga of honor, glory, and warfare, The Bone Ships is the epic laugh of a new fantasy from David Gemmell Award-nominated RJ Barker.

Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.

For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war.

The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted.

Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.

5. Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez
Copy of book cover (66)I bought Sweet Black Waves at YALC last year and ended up completely devouring it on the train back to Scotland. I’m not normally one for romanc-y type fantasy novels but I really enjoyed this and I’m honestly just dying to find out what happens to Branwen next.

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Stars is the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within…

So those are some of the books on my Netgalley shelf! If you’ve read any of them I’d love to know what you thought, and if you use Netgalley what books you have on your shelf!

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

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Series:
Cassidy Blake #2 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: 5th September 2019
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from my local Waterstones
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

Review

tunnelI absolutely fell in love with Cassidy and her ghost best friend when I read City of Ghosts last year. A spooky tale set in Edinburgh, I was so eager for more. Tunnel of Bones was definitely high on my most anticipated releases list, and I ended up reading it in a single sitting.

We’re back following Cassidy as she goes with her parents to film a new episode of The Inspecters, and this time they’re in Paris. They visit all the iconic places, heading up the Eiffel Tower and descending into the eerie Catacombs. As she explores Cassidy awakens a spirit much stronger than those she’s faced before. Hellbent on all kinds of mischief and mayhem, Cass and Jacob have to find a way to send him back before he ends up haunting Paris forever.

This story is so fun, it’s a wonderful spooky read and it’s absolutely perfect to cuddle up with on a dark autumn night. It has plenty of spine tingling moments, and I loved seeing the dark and eerie spin that Schwab puts on those infamous landmarks. The setting is fascinating and really comes alive in the story (I honestly can’t wait to see where Cass and the gang jet off to next!)

Tunnel of Bones also features a bit more character development, we learn more about best friend Jacob, and Cassidy starts exploring her powers as a ghost hunter. I enjoyed seeing plenty of familiar faces from book one as well as the introduction of some new characters, I particularly liked little Adele.

If you’re a fan of Victoria Schwab or you’re read the first book in the series, you’re going to absolutely love this one. If you haven’t had a chance to pick the first instalment up yet, these will make perfect Halloween binge reads.
5 stars

Book Review: The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

Book Review: The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

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Series:
The Poppy War #1
Release Date: May 1st 2018
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Pages: 544
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought this in my local Waterstones
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

Review

book cover (41)Pretty much everyone I know has read and loved The Poppy War. I must admit to being a bit nervous going in, I wasn’t entirely sure it would live up to the expectations I had set with so many people giving it five star reviews. I’m so happy to say that I absolutely adored this book, it is without a doubt one of my favourite reads of the year and I can’t wait to read more from R. F. Kuang.

The story follows Rin, a young war orphan who passes the Keju, a test given to every child in the Empire to determine if they should be admitted to the prestigious military schools. The country might be at peace whilst Rin is learning tactics and war, but unease is brewing with old enemies across the sea. Rin also discovers she can yield a shamanic power, but will it help save her people – or destroy them?

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. It’s quite a hefty book but I raced through this, finishing it in only a couple of days. I completely fell in love with the characters, they were so well fleshed out and there was plenty of character development. There were so many characters that I loved, Rin was fantastic and I loved Kitay and Nehza so much. I’m already scared to find out what will happen to them in the next instalment.

I recently went to see R. F. Kuang talk in my local Waterstones and it was fascinating to hear her explain how the story draws real life parallels with Chinese history. It really brought a whole new dimension to the story, and is definitely something I want to know more about.

The Poppy War is a grimdark tale and is therefore full of dark and gory scenes. It contains quite a high number of trigger warnings too so that is definitely something to consider before reading. All in all I found this book fast paced with a tense, exciting plot and a brilliant cast of characters. I’ve already picked up a copy of The Dragon Republic because I’m dying to know what happens next!
5 stars

Blog Tour: The Song of the Sycamore – Edward Cox

Blog Tour: The Song of the Sycamore – Edward Cox

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Release Date:
August 22nd 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

On the broken world of Urdezha, Wendal Finn died on the hostile plains of the wasteland, one more casualty in the endless war between the city-dwellers and the clansfolk. But now Wendal has returned to his home city of Old Castle, possessed by something he brought back from the wasteland, something old and best left forgotten. The spirits are calling it Sycamore, an ancient entity out to avenge all victims of murder. And in a city like Old Castle, no one is innocent.

With his mind trapped inside a dead body, Wendal can do nothing but watch as Sycamore turns him into a serial killer. Until the magicians take an interest in him. Preserving Wendal’s body and trapping Sycamore inside it, the magicians now have the perfect assassin at their disposal. Whenever they need an enemy removed, they can set the killer loose on Old Castle. Between these moments of horror, Wendal struggles to piece together the remnants of his former life. He wants to know why his wife died while he was fighting in the war, but no one will tell him, no one wants him to know. Left to his own devices, Wendal picks at the scabs that cover the dark secrets of the magicians and reveals a threat to every city on Urdezha.

The clans are massing. A supernatural storm is raging across the wasteland. It has already destroyed one city, and now it is heading for Old Castle. And the only one who might prevent oblivion is the murderous entity who the spirits are calling Sycamore.

Review

Copy of book cover (49)This is my first time reading a book by Edward Cox and I can tell you straight away it will not be my last. The Song of the Song of the Sycamore hooked me from the very beginning, and I could not put it down.

This complex tale tells the story of Wendal, who becomes a casualty of war and dies out in the wasteland. He awakes possessed by a mysterious entity known as Sycamore, a spirit hungry for vengeance. With no way of controlling the spirit Wendal must watch as Sycamore murders and destroys, all the while uncovering the dark secrets that surround the war between the people of the city and the clansfolk.

This is book is exceptionally dark and incredibly creepy. Told from both Wendal and Sycamore’s points of view, I loved getting to see things from both perspectives and Wendal/Sycamore made for a fascinating protagonist. The world building was also brilliantly done in the story and it was easy to dive into this complex world.

The plot was engaging and really kept me hooked from the outset. I almost missed my train stop on more than one occasion as I was so sucked into the story on my commute to work.  The story has plenty of dark moments, murder and action as well as a bit of a mystery surrounding the death of Wendal’s wife. Each layer of the plot was blended together seamlessly and it made for an unputdownable reading experience.

The Song of the Sycamore is definitely one of the most original books I’ve read in a while, and if you’re looking for an action packed story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, this is one for you.
5 stars

song of the sycamore-Recovered