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!

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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!

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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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Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Backlist Books

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about the back list books I want to read. I literally have tons of books in this category so I could probably have done a top fifty, but managed to whittle it down to 10.
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1. The Glass Spare – Lauren DeStefano

I really loved The Chemical Garden series by Lauren DeStefano so I was desperate to read this book when it came out. I bought a gorgeous hard back edition and it has been sitting on my shelf for ages waiting to be read.

Untitled design (42)2. Spindle Fire – Lexa Hillyer
Sleeping Beauty is my favourite fairy tale so I’ve always meant to read Spindle Fire and I have a beautiful signed copy that I just haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I’m hoping the winter months might be the perfect time to inspire me to read it.
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3. Forest of A Thousand Lanterns – Julie C. Dao

I got this in a FairyLoot box and have heard so many people rave about how amazing it is. It has the most beautiful cover and I love a retelling so it definitely sounds right up my alley. I definitely hope I’ll get to this one soon.

Untitled design (44)4. Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant
I bought this a few months ago in my local bookshop because it sounded like such a good creepy read. I saw quite a few people read it as part of Halloween readathons and say it was absolutely brilliant so I’m definitely putting it near the top of my TBR pile.

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5. Daughter of the Burning City – Amanda Foody

I bought Daughter of the Burning City at YALC last year because they had copies for sale slightly early. I was so eager to read it and I still haven’t gotten around to it. I read Ace of Shades and it was one of my favourite books of the year so far so I have no idea why I haven’t picked this up yet.
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6. The House of Shattered Wings – Aliette De Bodard

This is another series that has been on my TBR for quite a while and it sounds so so good. An urban fantasy with angels and war? Sign me up. It’s a series that I’ve not heard many people talk about, which is perhaps why I haven’t been so eager to pick it up but I’m definitely going to have to get around to it soon because it sounds amazing.

Untitled design (46)7. Stalking Jack the Ripper – Kerrie Manascalco
I had never planned on picking these books up because I wasn’t sure I was going to like them but after stumbling across a copy of the first book in the series I thought I would give them a shot because so many reviewers have given it a really high star rating. It seems like it might be quite a quick read so perhaps I’ll manage to squeeze it in this month!

Untitled design (47)8. Heir of Fire – Sarah J. Maas
This series is textbook Nicole. I read The Assassin’s Blade and the first two books in the Throne of Glass series and loved them. Kingdom of Ash just came out and somehow I’ve still only read the first two, despite buying each one as soon as it comes out. Someone please help me, I think I have a book buying problem.
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9. Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton

I read Rebel of the Sands earlier this year and absolutely loved it so I’ve been meaning to continue the series as I couldn’t resist picking up the rest of the books in the series. I should really just spend a weekend binge reading these beauties because I know so many people love them.

Untitled design (49)10.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor
I’ve read Strange the Dreamer and I’m about to start Muse of Nightmares but I’ve never read Laini Taylor’s earlier series, despite owning all of them. I love her beautiful writing style so I’m sure I’m going to absolutely adore these, I just have to get a move on!

So these are the back list books that I really need to get around to reading. Have you read any of these? If you have what did you think? And if there’s any you think I should prioritise definitely let me know!

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – J. K. Rowling

BOOK REVIEW (12)
Series: Harry Potter #6
Release Date: July 16th 2005
Publisher: Bloomsbury Books
Pages: 607
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I reread my falling apart hardback for the millionth time.

Synopsis

It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the windowpanes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys’ house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can’t quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys’ of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks’ time? Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine…

Review

Harry Potter is one of those series that I find incredibly hard to review. It’s so loved and means so much to so many people that I’m never quite sure how to do it justice. Rereading the Harry Potter books as an adult has been a really fascinating experience. I am a child of Harry Potter, I read the books when I was in school, went to the midnight releases and basically lived and breathed the HP universe most of my childhood life so to read them again grown up is quite nerve wracking. I was scared I wouldn’t enjoy them or they wouldn’t live up to the expectations of my childhood self. In all honesty it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, rereading them as an adult has really made me notice so many things I doubt I would have picked up on as a child.

Untitled design (39)Rereading the series has definitely made me re-evaluate which books are my favourite. I have always been a stalwart Prisoner of Azkaban fan, but the later books where things get darker and more complex are definitely more of my preference as an adult. I loved returning to Hogwarts and seeing the immense character depth and the complexity of the plot. It was at times familiar and completely new as I read parts of the story that I completely did not remember – there’s so much missed out from the movies so perhaps that’s why there were so many parts that felt almost new to me.

Harry Potter is still without a doubt one of my all time favourite series. The world building is brilliant and it’s so easy just to become completely absorbed in these beautiful books. There are some truly lovely moments of friendship and family and some truly heartbreaking moments too. I honestly can’t wait to continue on and read book seven immediately!
5 stars