Book Review: Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez

Book Review: Wild Savage Stars – Kristina Perez

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Series:
Sweet Black Waves #2 (See my review of #1 here!)
Release Date: August 27th 2019
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

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…

Review

Copy of book cover (87)Wild Savage Stars is the eagerly awaited second instalment in the Sweet Black Waves trilogy, a beautiful tale of magic and romance inspired by the legend of Tristan and Eseult. I completely fell in love with the first book in the series and I was incredibly excited to find out what was in store for Branwen in book two. I absolutely devoured this book and book three is definitely one of my most anticipated releases.

The story follows Branwen, cousin to Princess Eseult as she embarks upon a journey across the sea, where Eseult will be married to the King of what was once an enemy kingdom. Tensions are fraught and the two best friends have difficult relationship following the Essy’s betrayal. As political tensions rise in their new homeland, Branwen embarks on a dark quest to understand her magic and save the ones she loves.

I honestly just adore everything about this series. In this instalment we are treated to a new land, and I loved the vivid descriptions of the castle and the land. The magic system is fascinating and I really enjoyed seeing Branwen learn more about her powers and carry out magic that was beyond her wildest imaginings. There is definitely more political intrigue in this instalment and I found myself fascinated watching Branwen and Essy attempt to manoeuvre court life.

For me the thing that really makes this book are the characters. Branwen is without a doubt one of my all time favourite characters. She’s strong willed, stubborn and not afraid to make hard decisions. She sometimes makes the wrong choice, but she sees it through. I also really like Ruan and Tristan, the cousins have a fascinating relationship and I loved that Perez gave us the chance to learn more of their backstory. Essy is probably my least favourite, I sometimes find her a bit on the childish side, but she is still a vivid and well fleshed out character.

The story has so many twists that I just didn’t see coming, moments where I just could not stop reading because I just had to know what was coming next. It’s an addictive, beautifully written tale and definitely a new favourite series of mine.
5 stars

Book Review: An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass

Book Review: An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass

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Series:
Chimera #1
Release Date: May 21st 2019
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. 
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.

Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy’s aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.

Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.

Review

Copy of book cover (27)This is the sort of book that when I first read the synopsis sounded really intriguing and I thought it would be a fun and enjoyable read. What I didn’t expect was how much I would completely adore this book and how desperate I am to find out what’s in store next for Romy.

The story follows Romy, a young woman who has fought hard to become the favoured courtesan of the infamous Shadow Lord. Despite their closeness when her brother Neri is discovered stealing with the aid of magic, Romy is cast out and left to survive in the beggar’s ring. Using her knowledge of politics and her will to survive, Romy works to protect Neri and keep them both alive. In trying to keep her own magic hidden she discovers a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord, but will thwarting the plan risk their lives?

I loved everything about this book. I fell completely under the spell of this Renaissance inspired world. I thought the world building was excellent and really enjoyed getting to know the magic system. Magic is of course forbidden in this world and I loved seeing the characters attempt to understand and hone their gifts in secret.

The plot was well paced and had quite a few twists – a few I saw coming but a couple were also a complete surprise. I was really gripped by the sense of adventure, the heist like nature of the story and the camaraderie between the characters. I loved Romy and her cheeky brother Neri. They’re great characters and I cannot wait to see what book two has in store for them.

One of the reasons this book really stood out for me is the romance aspect. There is a little bit of romance but the focus is very much on the sibling relationship and that was a breath of fresh air. It was nice to focus much more on Neri and Romy attempting to understand and work together, rather than a swoony romance.

An Illusion of Thieves is a brilliant beginning to what I’m sure is going to be an engrossing series. If you love stories with vivid characters, tons of action and political intrigue, then this is definitely one to pick up soon!
5 stars

Book Review: Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Perez

Book Review: Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Perez

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Series:
Sweet Black Waves #1
Release Date: June 5th 2018
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

Review

Copy of book cover (85)Sweet Black Waves is the first in an all new fantasy series inspired by the legend of Tristan and Eseult. I must admit that I am not all that familiar with the famous tale. I know it’s a romance but little else, so when I went into Sweet Black Waves I wasn’t sure what the story would entail. I must admit I got completely hooked on the story of Branwen and Tristan and I am absolutely dying to read the next book in the series.

The story follows Branwen, cousin to the Queen and last survivor of her family after they were killed by raiders. She one day finds a man on the beach and rescues him, and discovers he is one of the enemy. As the two spend time together in secret, feelings start to bloom between them, but could the world ever accept a couple from the two opposing nations? As Branwen begins to fight for peace, she discovers she has magic in her blood and must to everything she can to keep it secret.

This book was honestly just so addictive. I’m not normally someone who loves romance stories but I completely fell in love with Branwen and Tristan. The characters were brilliantly written. Branwen is so complex, dealing with the loss of her family, the love of her country and her desires for peace. Tristan is likewise a fascinating character and I loved watching the two characters grow and develop as the story went on.

Kristina Perez has created a really fascinating world, and one that is steeped in history and culture. The world building was just perfect and I found it so easy just to sink into this world of magic and enemy kingdoms. Perez has a gorgeous writing style and I found myself getting so absorbed in the story that I ended up staying up way later than I planned because I just had to know what was going on next. Sweet Black Waves is a phenomenal start to this bright and vivid series and I’m definitely planning to dive straight into Wild Savage Stars.
4 stars

Book Recommendations: Halloween Edition!

Book Recommendations: Halloween Edition!

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I’m back with a new book recommendations post. This time we’re talking spooky reads that are perfect for Halloween. I absolutely love doing a readathon on Halloween, it’s a great time to get comfy on the couch with some candles, a blanket and a cat, so I thought I would recommend some of my favourite spooky books that would be perfect this Halloween.

Copy of book cover (80)1. Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
I finished this just recently and absolutely adored it. Set at Yale University, it features magic, mystery and the dark underworld of the Yale secret societies. I got completely sucked into this story and ended up flying through it. It’s gripping, dark and deals with some really tough themes, but it was a brilliant read and definitely a new favourite of mine.

2. The Monster of Elendhaven – Jennifer GiesbrechtCopy of book cover (81)
This is quite a short little book that I ended up reading in one sitting – perfect for a readathon. The story follows a man hungry for revenge on those who wronged him, and his companion who cannot die. It has a really vivid setting, and excellent world building, especially in such a short book. It’s a gruesome and compelling tale, and one I highly recommend.

3. The Deathless Girls – Kiran Milwood Hagravebook cover - 2019-05-01T094307.932
This one isn’t so much as scary as it is captivating and engrossing. The story is a reimagining of the brides of Dracula and the events that lead them to become immortals. It’s a beautifully told Gothic tale and I was absolutely hooked. It features some stunning writing and a fantastic cast of characters. I also really liked the romance in this story – which is something I don’t say very often!

4. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley JacksonCopy of book cover (83)
I couldn’t resist throwing a classic into the mix. Shirley Jackson is an author I have been a bit hit or miss with. I enjoyed The Missing Girl, didn’t really get We Have Always Lived in the Castle and loved The Haunting of Hill House. This is by far my favourite, it’s dark, creepy and a brilliantly weaved tale.

5. Tunnel of Bones – Victoria SchwabCopy of book cover (84)
This is the second instalment in Victoria Schwab’s middle grade ghost hunter series and if you haven’t read book one I highly recommend both.  The first is set in Edinburgh and the many haunted places within the city. This instalment is set in the creepy Paris catacombs and really brings these places to life, I really loved following Cassidy and her ghost best friend as they tackle ghosts and save the world as we know it.

6. Sanctuary – V. V. JamesCopy of book cover (40)
I still think about this book even though I finished it months ago. A story of murder, revenge and witchcraft, this book will have you on the edge of your seat right till the very last page. In a world where witches live and work alongside humans, the murder of a young high school student leads everyone to start pointing the finger at witches. But who really did it? and was Daniel as innocent as he seemed? Full of twists and turns, this is one of my favourite books of the year.

7. The Furies – Katie Lowebook cover - 2019-03-11T211035.250
This is another book I could not put down and is absolutely perfect for Halloween reading. The story of a group of high school students who believe they have ability to cast spells and enact revenge on those who wronged them. This is a stunning debut with vivid characters and an unforgettable plot.

8. Night Film – Marisha PeshlCopy of book cover (56)
I was a bit late to the Night Film party but my god I’m glad I finally picked this book up. The story follows disgraced detective Scott McGrath as he attempts to understand the suicide of Ashley Cordova, the daughter of a reclusive film maker. As he delves deeper, he learns it might not have been suicide and Cordova might have been messing with something far beyond our understanding. This story felt so real I wanted to google the characters so I could watch the movies.

Copy of book cover (60)9. The Puppet Show – M. W. Craven
Looking for a crime thriller fix this October? The Puppet Show definitely has you covered. The first in a new detective series, this book is full to the brim with shock twists I would never have seen coming and is full of plenty gory moments. It also features a brilliant crime solving duo and I can’t wait to pick up the next instalment in the series.

10.  Dead Voices – Katherine Arden Copy of book cover (82)
This one is a bit of an honourable mention because I’m actually in the middle of reading it now. This is the second instalment in Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces series. This middle grade series is so fun and full of spooky goodness. The first book features plenty of eerie, spine tingling moments and I am loving Dead Voices so far.

So there you have it! Those are my recommendations for spooky reads this Halloween. If you’ve read any great creepy reads recently I’d love to know what they were, and if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them!

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

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Release Date:
October 17th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 560
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

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. . .

Review

Copy of book cover (63)To say that Angel Mage was one of my most anticipated books of the year is probably an understatement. Garth Nix has been one of my favourite authors since I was a child, and I absolutely credit him with being the reason I love fantasy books so much. So many of his books – Shade’s Children, Sabriel, A Confusion of Princes –  are some of my all time favourites so going into Angel Mage I had the highest of expectations. The story captivated me from the very first page, and I am already considering when I can make time to reread this stunning book.

Like all of Garth Nix’s books, the world building is excellently plotted, allowing you to completely fall into this story of angels and magic.  The magic system felt really unique, I don’t think I’ve ever come across it before and it was a breath of fresh air. The story is quite a slow burn, it’s a big tome and it really gives you the chance to get to know the world and the brilliantly fleshed out characters. Nix has stated that this is a standalone at this stage, but I would honestly love to read more from this world and the characters.

Angel Mage has plenty of action scenes to keep you hooked in and gorgeous writing that I honestly just could not get enough of. Each sentence seems to leap off the page with vivid descriptions of characters and their setting. It features a brilliant cast of characters, each who brings a really interesting perspective to the table. I really liked Simeon and Henri the most, but honestly I thought all the characters were brilliant.

If you love epic fantasy stories with Three Musketeers vibes, you definitely need to pick up Angel Mage now. I for one am now going to start rereading Garth Nix’s back catalogue while I wait for his next book!
5 stars
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Book Review: The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

Book Review: The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

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Series:
Middle Earth Universe
Release Date: 21st September 1937
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I have a battered old copy from my childhood
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when it was first published in 1937. Now recognized as a timeless classic, this introduction to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, Gollum, and the spectacular world of Middle-earth recounts of the adventures of a reluctant hero, a powerful and dangerous ring, and the cruel dragon Smaug the Magnificent.

Review

Copy of book cover (28)No matter how many times I read this book I always completely fall in love with it.

The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a reluctant hobbit forced to go on a nasty adventure and help a band of dwarves retake their homeland that was invaded by a dragon. The Hobbit is quite a short book that captured my imagination at a young age, and it continues to do the same as an adult. Whenever I get the urge to reread it I always get that feeling of nostalgia and fall straight back in love with it. The story is told in a beautiful whimsical manner and it’s easy to fall into the story and Tolkien’s writing.

If you’ve never read any of Tolkien’s work The Hobbit is definitely the perfect place to start. It’s fun and exciting and is full to the brim with adventure and monsters. It’s a great introduction to Middle Earth and those characters that so many people know and love.

This time around I listened to the audiobook, something I had never done before. The audiobook was such a great way to read the story and the narrator did a brilliant job bringing to life the wide cast of characters.

The Hobbit is obviously a classic of the genre and its fascinating reading it knowing it had such a big influence on many of the most popular fantasy works today. It’s a beautifully told story, and I love how full of mischief and wonder this tale is. If you haven’t had the chance to read The Hobbit yet, it’s definitely worth reading – the film adaptation has decidedly mixed reviews but it’s also worth a watch once you’re finished!

5 stars

Favourite Books of 2019 (so far!)

Favourite Books of 2019 (so far!)

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Now that we’re over the half way point for 2019 (how is that even possible?!) I thought it would be fun to make a post about my favourite books of the year so far. I’ve seen quite a few people doing this and have loved reading about the books everyone has loved! So far in 2019 I’ve read 67 books, and quite a few of them have been five star reads. So in no particular order here are my favourites!

Copy of book cover (27)1. An Illusion of Thieves – Cate Glass

This is one of my most recent reads and I completely fell in love with this world and the brilliant characters. I read the book in a single day, stealing every possible second to read this book. I  also nearly missed my bus stop because I was so engrossed in the story, but it was totally worth it. I’m so desperate to read the next book in the series.

Copy of book cover (12)2. Impossible Times – Mark Lawrence
This is cheating because it’s technically two books in one. I read both One Word Kill and Limited Wish this year and I adored them both. The characters leap off the page in this action packed, time bending story. It’s fun and you’ll become so attached to the characters, can’t wait to see how it all ends in Dispel Illusion.

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3. Aurora Rising – Ami Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it definitely delivered. A bunch of misfits attempting to save the world? What could possibly go wrong. It was full to the brim of action, adventure and witty banter and I honestly couldn’t get enough.

book cover (13)4. The Wicked King – Holly Black
I imagine The Wicked King has made quite a few peoples lists. The ended of this book was just so shocking that I’m still reeling six months later. I love the beautiful writing style and vivid descriptions of the fae world, and not to mention the best enemies to lovers but still enemies depiction I’ve ever seen. Pretty much counting down the days to Queen of Nothing.

book cover - 2019-03-11T211035.2505. The Furies – Katie Lowe
This fierce, dark tale of murder and witchcraft gripped me from the very first page and absolutely did not let go. I got completely swept up in the tale of four young girls and their tale of friendship, sisterhood, lies and vengeance. I don’t think I’ve stopped talking about it since I finished and it’s definitely an all time favourite.

book cover (39)6. Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom – P. M. Freestone
I thought Shadowscent was one of the most unique YA fantasy books I’ve ever read. I loved the idea of a magic system built on scent and I loved the relationship between the two main characters. I flew through the book and I can’t wait to read more from P. M. Freestone.

Copy of book cover (26)7. The Boy With the Porcelain Blade – Den Patrick
This is technically a reread but it has been such a long time since I read it last that it almost felt like a new book. I got completely caught up in this dark fantasy story full of monsters and political intrigue. It’s a quick paced story full of complex characters and I’m so excited to continue my reread because this is definitely one my favourite series.

wicked saints8. Wicked Saints – Emily A. Duncan
I know this book received quite a lot of mixed reviews but I really enjoyed it. I loved the magic system and the opposing religions fighting for power. I really liked Emily A. Duncan’s writing style and I found it a really quite and enticing read. It was a fascinating tale and I’m hoping that the few kinks will be worked out in the next instalment.

So those are my eight favourite books of 2019 so far! What are your favourite 2019 reads?