The House of Night and Chain Review

In a bleak corner of the city of Valgaast, the House of Malveil awaits. A place of darkness, its halls throb with a sinister history. Its rooms are filled with malice. Its walls echo with pain. Now it stirs eagerly with the approach of an old heir. Colonel Maeson Strock of the Astra Militarum has returned home to his ancestral mansion. He is a man broken, both by the horrors of war and by personal loss, and has come home to take up the mantle of Planetary Governor. He hopes he can purge his home world of political corruption and reforge connections with his estranged children. He hopes he can rebuild his life. Malveil will feast on these dreams. Strock believes he has seen the worst of the galaxy’s horrors. Malveil will show him how wrong he is.

A brillaint horror story set in the world of Warhammer 40,000. Click the title to read more.

Death Beside the Seaside Review

July 1910. Lady Hardcastle and her tireless sidekick Flo have finally embarked on a long-overdue seaside break. But just as they’re wavering between ice creams and donkey rides, their fellow guests start to go missing—and the duo find themselves with a hysterical hotel manager and a case to solve. The first to disappear is Dr Goddard, a scientist doing something terribly top-secret for the government. Gone too are his strongbox and its mysterious contents. By the time Lady Hardcastle has questioned the horde of international guests, her number-one suspect has been dispatched in grisly circumstances—and then the others start vanishing too. As the case begins to look like a matter of national security, Lady Hardcastle takes advice from her brother in the secret service. But could there be an even more personal connection at play?

To read my thoughts… click the title!

20 Books I Would Like To Read in 2020!

I wanted to talk about the books I plan on trying to prioritise in 2020! These are not full of new releases as I mentioned in my November 2019 Releases post, I have no idea what new releases are coming out at all. So there aren’t many new releases on my list. These are just books that would want to get to next year.

Click the title to read more!

Doing Time Review

At some time in the future, the secret of time-travel became available to all. Chaos ensued as people sought to take advantage. Because there will always be nutters who want to change history… And so the Time Police were formed. Internationally sanctioned thugs whose task it was to keep the timeline straight by any and all means possible. And they succeeded. The Time Wars are over. The Time Police won. But who will win the peace? Doing Time follows three hapless new Time Police recruits – Jane, Luke and Matthew – as they try to navigate their first year on the beat. It’s all going to be fine. Obviously.

A pretty average book with a lot of series potential. See what I have to say by clicking the title.

November 2019 Releases

I am going to be perfectly candid here. Very rarely, do I read books that are newly released. I have been very lucky with the Netgalley books I have received recently but normally I don’t read books at least within a year after they come out with a few exceptions. There are couple of reasons […]

Requiem Infernal Review

On a distant world, an obscure order of the Adepta Sororitas study their founder’s visions. They live in solitude… which is about to be broken as danger approaches. The Adepta Sororitas of the Last Candle have stood vigil over their sanctuary world for centuries, striving to decipher their founder’s tormented visions. Outsiders are unwelcome… yet still they come. Decimated by an encounter with a lethal xenos entity, the survivors of an elite Astra Militarum company have journeyed to the Candleworld in search of healing, escorted by a woman who is no stranger there – Sister Hospitaller Asenath Hyades, who turned her back on the order decades ago. As the seekers near the sect’s bastion, malign forces begin to stir among the planet’s storm-wracked spires, but the most insidious shadows lie in their own souls.

My very first Warhammer 40k novel, this is making me wnat to read more!

October Wrap Up 2019

I went into October really wanting to get into the spooky vibe. I am not the biggest celebrator of Halloween as it just wasn’t something my family really celebrated but I wanted to get into the spooky spirit and I felt that the best way to do that was by reading some good spooky books. I read books with ghosts, with witches, books that had murder occur. Overall, a very successful month in terms of theme. Not so successful when it came to ratings.

A Spell for Murder by Kennedy Kerr (2.5 stars)

A fun and unique murder mystery set in Scotland where our sleuth is a witch with the power to be able to see the history of whatever object she touches. This book was average to me. The writing was not for me, it was the main reason I struggled with the book as certain things written down pulled me out of the story. A lot of potential with this series though.

A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan (5 stars)

A WW1 murder mystery set in an isolated manor during a stormy night. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The atmosphere was really chilling, the POV’s were really engaging and it had me questioning until the very end.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu (3 stars)

A very cute graphic novel. I loved the art style and the abundance of representation and diversity but sadly I wasn’t the biggest fan of the structuring of this story. Certain things felt rushed or underdeveloped so I didn’t connect to the characters as much as I had hoped.

The Allingham Minibus by Margery Allingham (2.5 stars)

Another disappointing read for me. I don’t read many short story collections so going into it I was super excited. While there were some really good stories sadly, they were few and far between.

Mooncakes Review

A lovely, cosy, fantasy romance.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

Click the title to see what I thought.

A House of Ghosts Review

A perfect read for a spooky season.

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives. At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die. For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one…

Click the title to see what I thought of it…

A Spell for Murder Review

Another review this fine Thursday afternoon.

This is a very fitting read for the month we are in with Witches, Occult themes and a murder mystery.

Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories. When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death. If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?

Click the title to read more!

September Wrap Up 2019

Here are all the books I read in September of 2019.

Titans of History by Simon Sebag Montefiore (2 stars)

So, this book is a biography about many famous people of history and it started off pretty great. I was loving all the people included and was finding out some pretty interesting facts and then… I just got bored. The writing was boring, the closer you get to the present the more boring the “titans” chosen were and I just lost momentum with this massive book. So, I was not a fan by the end.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (5 stars)

Personally, I am a bit biased when it comes to this book. I read this series when I was younger and absolutely adored it. A couple of years later, nothing has changed. I loved Percy’s POV and his witty sense of humour and I loved just being able to be apart of this world again.

Mort by Terry Pratchett (4 stars)

I was a bit worried after reading Equal Rites as I was quite disappointed with that book. So, going into this one I was apprehensive as I didn’t want to be disappointed again. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. This was so much fun. The world building was immaculate, I wanted to explore every facet of this part of the series and I was very sad when the book ended.

The Body on the Train by Frances Brody (4 stars)

My first ever Netgalley review! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, the main character was an amazing female character, the plot was enticing but nothing beat the amazing atmosphere she conjured up. I felt on the edge of my seat all the way through this book.

The Body on the Train Review

1929, London. In the darkness before dawn, a London railway porter discovers a man’s body as he unloads a special goods train from Yorkshire, all means of identification stripped away. Hitting a dead end, Scotland Yard call on indomitable sleuth Kate Shackleton, hoping her local Yorkshire knowledge and undoubted skills at winkling out information will produce the results they need. 1929, Yorkshire. Fears of unrest in the Yorkshire coalfields mean that Kate must conduct her investigation with the utmost secrecy. But when she discovers that another murder occurred around the same time as the mysterious body on the train, she is convinced there must be a connection. Using her sharp instincts and persuasive charm, she begins to uncover a web of intrigue that edges her closer to the truth. But with attempts being made on her life, Kate needs all the strength and resourcefulness she can muster, before she becomes the next victim . . .

Well, this is my very first netgalley book! I am so excited to talk to you guys about this book.

Click the title to read the full review! More on Netgalley next Monday!

Mort Review

“Henceforth, Death is no longer going to be the end, merely the means to an end. It’s an offer Mort can’t refuse. As Death’s apprentice he’ll have free board, use of the company horse – and being dead isn’t compulsory. It’s a dream job – until he discovers that it can be a killer on his love life…”

I was really looking forward to this book as Death was the character that intrigued me the most from the series.

Overall, this was just a really fun reading experience.

Click the title to check out why!

Titans of History Review

Plot: Simon Sebag Montefiore presents the lives of the giants who have made our world. The cast varies from conquerors, poets, kings, empresses and whores to psychopaths, prophets, composers and explorers. Informative, entertaining, inspiring and sometimes horrifying, this is a history of the world that contains the characters everyone should know and the stories no one should forget.

Finally got there with this book. Wow, it was a struggle to get through this.

Click the title to see the full review!

August Wrap Up 2019

Here are all the books I read in August of 2019.

The Big Four by Agatha Christie (3 stars)

Bit of an average read this one. I felt little to no desire to keep reading and the ending left much to be desired. I did like, however, the James Bond feel to the plot and how it covered a couple of months and intertwined smaller cases. I was very happy to have finished it though.

Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (4 stars)

This was my first time reading manga and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I watched the TV show before picking up this book which made it an interesting reading experience. I loved seeing all the foreshadowing and dreaded reading certain volumes in which I know what happens. I loved the bromance in this book and the art is exceptional. A really fun read that I think everyone should give a go.

Sadie by Courtney Summers (4 stars)

A lot of firsts this month. This was my first ebook. My birthday is in August so I treated myself to a kindle. I decided to pick this up as it fit the theme for the ONTD reading challenge and I devoured it in one day! I loved the formatting in this book, flicking from podcast to Sadie’s first person POV. I really enjoyed the characters and the plot was heart-breaking.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (3 stars)

This is a book I have been wanting to read for ages. I have always been intrigued by the premise of this novel and I was so excited to give it a go. It started off really strong and includes some of the best writing I have ever read but halfway through the pacing started to get the better of me and I started getting a bit bored. The ending is so good though!

The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien (2 stars)

Now this might shock some people but I DNFed the Two Towers. It started off really good. I loved the account of Merry and Pippin’s time and subsequent escape of the Orcs but the writing was just boring for me and the pacing was so slow. I started dreading it every time I would pick it up. So, I decided it was best to put it down.

The Picture of Dorian Gray Review

“Posing for a portrait, Dorian Gray talks with Lord Henry Wotton, who says that men should pursue their sensual longings, but laments that only the young get to do so. Taken with the idea, Dorian imagines a scenario in which the painting will age as he stays youthful. His wish comes true, and his boyish looks aid him as he indulges his every whim. But when a stunning revelation forces him to see what he’s become, Dorian faces some very dangerous questions.”

Probably the first classic I have ever enjoyed.

Click the title to see the full review!

Sadie Review

“Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him. When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.”

This book was amazing! I read the whole book in one (1) day!

Click the title to see the full review!

Fullmetal Alchemist Vol 1-3 Review

“In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armour. Equipped with mechanical “”auto-mail”” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.”

WOW! My first manga experience and I loved it so much!

Click the title for the full review!

Book Bait

So I was scrawling through a variety of book bloggers recently, trying to find inspiration for my next post as I am slogging through The Two Towers at the moment. There is something about Tolkien’s writing that ever so slightly bores me. So, as I was trawling through, I noticed Fangirl Fury’s Book Bait post.

This has been one of my favourite posts to write!

The Big Four Review

“Framed in the doorway of Poirot’s bedroom stood an uninvited guest, coated from head to foot in dust. The man’s gaunt face stared for a moment, then he swayed and fell. Who was he? Was he suffering from shock or just exhaustion? Above all, what was the significance of the figure 4, scribbled over and over again on a sheet of paper? Poirot finds himself plunged into a world of international intrigue, risking his life to uncover the truth about ‘Number Four’.”

So this book was a funny one for me and I go into a bit more detail in the actual post but despite the book containing loads of things I love; cat and mouse chase, settings all over the world, political intrigue, numerous murders. This book just didn’t resonate with me as much as I had hoped hence the average rating.

July 2019 Wrap-Up

Here are all the books I read in July of 2019.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (4 stars)

This book was so much fun. I love re-tellings so this was initially right up my alley. I enjoyed reading this book, the world building was great. I liked seeing the world through the dark lense and I felt each character was important to the plot and keeping the narrative moving forward. But the book did have some faults with the writing style, the romance was under-developed and I found Amy was hit and miss for me.

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie (5 stars)

This book was so good. I was on the edge of my beach chair every time I picked it up. The main character was charismatic, the political intrigue was incredibly interesting and I was constantly thinking who the murderer could be but I did feel that the twists and turns you normally see from a Christie novel were a bit over the top.

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (4 stars)

Again, another enjoyable read for me. Soaking up the sun, I found that this book was so much fun. One of her earlier novels so there are a few hits and misses, the female protagonist was a hit for me. I thought she was really fun and relatable. I also loved how action-packed this story was but that didn’t stop the story from feeling all over the place with not enough structure.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (4 stars)

This book was a hard one for me as it reflected a lot situations I have been and my family/friends have been in because of this it was quite a hard read and a book I just wanted to get out the way.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (5 stars)

My favourite book of this month. SUCH A RIDE! This book has one of the most original and interesting worlds I have read in a long time! The magic system is so interesting and so incredibly fun. The story is so action-packed and the stakes in this story are so high. This is a book that truly deserves the hype! I am waiting for the TV show now!

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (2 stars)

This was another DNF for me. I DNFed the book at 23%. To be honest, I think this book just caught be at a bad time. I just wasn’t engaged enough in the story and I found it quite boring. I might pick it up again but I highly doubted.

The Final Empire Review

  • Author: Brandon Sanderson
  • Series: Mistborn #1
  • Genre: High Fantasy
  • No of pages: 647
  • Year Published: 2006
  • Dates read: 19.07.19 – 30.07.19
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)

I cannot put into words how incredibly amazing this book is.

Going into this book I was worried that it may be over-hyped and that I might not enjoy it as much as everyone else did but that was NOT the case, AT ALL!!

Plot: In a world where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, an evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. The future of the empire rests on the shoulders of a troublemaker and his young apprentice. Together, can they fill the world with colour once more?

First of all, all the characters you meet are just written so incredibly well. I loved every single one of them both good and evil! They were also so varied all the character felt a bit grey and even if they were more on the good side, they had their doubts, worries and moments of anger. They felt like real people, not just classic stereotypes.

Vin, especially, was amazing. I really enjoyed her character arc within the story. Watching her grow was so fun and you couldn’t help but root for her and want to see her succeed. It was so good to see a strong female character kick ass in a more male-dominated world.

I loved the world-building. Sanderson just created such a rich world that is so layered, that I know all the detailed info we received about the world is just the tip of the iceberg to how intricate the Final Empire is. The Government and the Nobility were such interesting factors in the story. I loved learning about how the higher classes worked and how the Empire functioned alongside the Nobles. The political intrigue, which was a massive theme in this book, was so good. I loved all the secrets, backstabbing, false loyalties everything. This is something that I am slowly becoming more interested in and this book fuelled my passion to read more books with political intrigue in.

The magic system was so much fun. I loved learning all about Allomancy and what it can and can’t do. At first, I found it a bit difficult to grasp, I still don’t totally know how SteelPushing and IronPuling work in regards to moving around a city quickly, but it was so much fun to learn. I really liked how we learned about the metals over the course of a couple of hundred pages and how we learnt different facets of the system alongside different characters. It gives us more of an insight into the characters and allowed for better development and also it was a fun way to not shove all info down our throats at the very beginning.

The writing as a whole is really accessible. I found myself reading with ease and the first 100 pages were probably the most drawn into a story I have ever been. The combat was done really well, most of the time I find combat scenes hard to read and just skim over them but because Sanderson’s writing is accessible and easy to follow. I found the scenes so enjoyable after one particular scene my heart was beating so fast!

One of my biggest disappointments in this story is the lack of female characters. Thankfully, Vin is a brilliantly written character but we literally only had a choice of 4 female characters and one of them is dead and only mentioned in the past tense! While the characters were interesting, they were not as varied as the numerous male characters we meet along the way. I hope in the sequel we will see more varied female characters. Thankfully, the characters we were given were written well and shown as capable women in this tough world. I just wanted to see more.

Overall, I get the hype. It is well and truly deserved. I cannot wait to read the sequel and read more of Sanderson’s work as a whole!

The next book I will be reviewing will be another Agatha Christie novel, The Big Four. I felt that I should have a break from the fantasy genre as my TBR consists of mostly fantasy at the moment and it might just be too much to read one after the other so I decided to break it up with a small cosy murder mystery.

A Monster Calls Review

  • Author: Patrick Ness
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 237
  • Dates read: 16.07.19
  • Rating: 4 stars

I don’t have many things to say about this book.

I devoured it. I read it in about 2 hours and sobbed all the way through the end.

I had been putting this book off for some time as I knew what it was about and having experienced similar situations in my life like Connor is experiencing I didn’t want to be reminded. I felt, in the end, the best thing to do was just read it and get it over and done with.

Plot: Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

I loved the Monster. He was my favourite character, I loved his stories, his attitude his wisdom. He was such an interesting character and honestly I would love another book where we learn more about him and the other people he has met through his life.

The ending was beautiful. The atmosphere was written so well, the messages were detailed so perfectly but without it being shoved in your face. But I can’t deny the ending tore me in two. I sobbed so much. It was the first time I had ever had such a strong reaction to a book.

As the book goes I didn’t think it was extraordinary. The writing was pretty basic and I didn’t really feel things until the ending but I could not deny the ending was so perfectly done and I can understand why people rate it so highly.

Like I mentioned already, I was apprehensive going into this book as I had a rough idea of what was going to happen at the end. Over the past couple of years I have dealt with some personal situations that slightly reflect what is going on with this book so reading this brought back a lot of emotions and memories for me. I felt that, since I read this book so quickly I would go back and re-read it. Now, after some time, I personally don’t want to experience how I felt after reading the book. My heart physically ached and I felt very low. Because this was my physical reaction to the book and especially the themes in this book I have decided to not re-read this novel. I have never reacted like this too a book and while it was an interesting experience it’s not one I want to experience again any time soon.

The next book I will be reviewing is a book I have wanted to read for ages. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. I can’t wait to jump in and see what all the hype is about.

The Man in the Brown Suit Review

  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Murder Mystery
  • No. of pages: 381
  • Dates read: 12.07.19 – 16.07.19
  • Rating: 4 stars

And here is my other book I read on holiday! This was a really fun, more action-packed story that I read while soaking up the sun. Though being honest, I did read most of this on the plane back home but some of it was read by the pool.

Plot: Newly-orphaned Anne Beddingfield came to London expecting excitement. She didn’t expect to find it on the platform of Hyde Park Corner tube station. When a fellow passenger pitches onto the rails and is electrocuted, the ‘doctor’ on the scene seems intent on searching the victim rather than examining him . . . Armed with a single clue, Anne finds herself struggling to unmask a faceless killer known only as ‘The Colonel’ – while ‘The Colonel’ struggles to eliminate her . . .

First thing I want to say was I loved Anne’s character! I found her to be so relatable and I understood exactly where she was coming from when she dreamt of having a life full of exciting adventures and struggled with the mundanity of normal life. I thought she was smart, independent, adaptable and at times very funny. She was a joy to read.

It was good to see a female protagonist, especially at the time it was written, to go through such an action-packed adventure. I was actually shocked by how fun this plot was. I thought it was going to be a bulk-standard murder mystery and it was high-paced, high-stakes, action-packed and exciting. Far removed from my original idea and expectation.

I loved how you couldn’t really trust anyone in this story. Everyone is a suspect and everyone does something to make you suspect them. It was really fun not knowing who the murderer could be.

I felt that the plot was all over the place. I felt that the writing needed more structure. I found that with every new piece of information that was received or discovered, I became incredibly confused in where it fit within the mystery, followed by a massive info dump which would then confuse you even more. The writing didn’t help you formulate even a small idea of how that info worked in the narrative or changed the events of the mystery. I felt like I need a more structured monologue or conversation between characters discussing the mystery and how the new developments fit into it, just so I could get even a vague understanding on what was going on. I found myself hoping that it would all make sense in the end rather than working alongside the character to figure it out.

I also felt the romance was hit and miss depending on the couple. On one hand, you had a prospective couple that was given a lot of time to get to know each other and it made sense with them liking each other. Then, on the other hand, you had a prospective couple where out of no-where there’s a marriage proposal. It made no sense to me.

Overall, I really did enjoy the story but you could definitely tell this was one of Christie’s earlier works just by the messy plot structure and underdeveloped romance that didn’t make sense.

The next book I will be reviewing will be A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

The Secret of Chimneys Review

  • Author: Agatha Christie
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Murder Mystery/Political
  • No. of pages: 336
  • Dates read: 09.07.19 – 12.07.19
  • Rating: 5 stars

It felt so good to get back into another Christie novel. Like I said in my previous post, I love reading a murder mystery while soaking up the sun and that’s what I did. Yesterday, I came back from a great trip with my boyfriend and it felt good to kick back and relax a bit.

Plot: Little did Anthony Cade suspect that an errand for a friend would place him at the center of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn into a web of intrigue, he begins to realize that the simple favor has placed him in serious danger. As events unfold, the combined forces of Scotland Yard and the French Sûreté gradually converge on Chimneys, the great country estate that hides an amazing secret. . . .

This was my first political based novel and I thought I was going to find that side of the novel boring and just waiting for it to get back to the mystery but I found myself very early on thoroughly enjoying the more political side to the story. It felt like the stakes were higher when you added all the politics. It becomes so much more than the normal family matter or village matter. Like I’m used to.

Anthony was an amazing, charismatic main protagonist and I loved reading the story from his point of view. He just had a way with people that was so fun to watch, he commanded every scene he was in, regardless of how powerful the other individuals were. I also loved how care-free he was which allowed us to experience some incredibly exciting scenes play out due to his lack of worries.

I enjoyed all the twists and turns that came with this novel. But, the ending was a bit OTT, you have to slightly suspend your disbelief with this ending. I personally thought it was a lot of fun but I feel some readers might find it a bit too much and not as well thought through. To me, it was just really fun.

Obviously, this book was published in the very early 1920s, so there were a few xenophobic and racist undertones, and at times, blatant racist remarks. This was uncomfortable to read. This is a reflection, sadly, of the prejudices against people of colour at the time and it is hard to read.

I can’t say too much about this novel due to spoilers so this review is a quick one.

The next post will be about The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie. I also read this book while I was away and thoroughly enjoyed it. The post will be up very soon.

June Wrap Up 2019

Here are the books I read in June of 2019.

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve (5 stars)

This novel is a competitor to be my favourite book of 2019! I was blown away by this book. The world-building is phenomenal, the characters are all so varied and layered and the plot is just so exhilarating! Do not go into this book though having watched the movie thinking it’s going to be the exact same though because it is not!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (5 stars)

This novel was a re-read for me. Last year, I decided I was going to re-read the whole series as my knowledge of the books, especially the last 3, had severely lacked. Goblet of Fire is one of my favourites of the series and I really enjoyed the re-read. This post however focuses less on my thoughts and feelings on the novel and more my experience reading it as I decided to annotate my book, looking at themes within the novel.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett (3 stars)

The book was a bit lack lustre. I’m not going to lie. The main character was really interesting and I loved the first half of the novel but the second half of the novel was a bit all over the place and not in a good way. I was confused half the time on what was actually going on and it stopped me engaging with the story. This was abit of a let-down.

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (4 stars)

This book was a really easy, fun and a quick read. Set in Botswana, we follow Mma Ramotswe, the only female PI in the country, as she solves a variety of cases from adultery to theft to even death! This was so engaging and I loved Mma Ramotswe’s character. But I did have a couple representation issues which I discuss in more detail in my post.

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (2 stars)

Another DNF for 2019. The main reason for this DNF was the pacing. It was just such a slow story, it felt like the plot was just plodding along at the pace of an elephant! I just could not get engaged with the story. I also found the main male protagonist to be infuriating. But like with all DNFs there is no blog post to follow.

Dorothy Must Die Review

  • Author: Danielle Paige
  • Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
  • Genre: Fantasy/Re-telling
  • No. of pages: 452
  • Dates read: 30.06.19 – 04.07.19
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Challenge: ONTD Challenge July Theme, “Read a re-telling.”

I mean WOW what an ending!

I love a re-telling but most importantly I love a DARK re-telling and this book delivered.

Plot (taken from Goodreads): When your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know? Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling. What happened? Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe. My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas. I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. I’ve been trained to fight. And I have a mission.

First of all, I want to say that despite its faults, and there are a few, this honestly was such a ride and incredibly fun and exhilarating to read. I will start off with the positives of my experience reading.

I really enjoyed the world-building and being able to explore this twisted and evil version of Oz. It was exciting to enter a world that you had once visited as a child and see it change so drastically. It also helped as a reader to put yourself in Amy’s shoes as you are both experiencing the same thing!

Dorothy is AMAZING! I loved her evil and tyrannical side, I enjoyed every scene she was in. She just exuded power and charisma. I found her to be such a fascinating character and I just yearned to find out more about her and her drastic change of personality.

Every character Amy meets on this journey is important to the story. Whether it is in teaching Amy a lesson or advancing the plot. I didn’t feel like any character was haphazardly written or forgotten about along the way, each character was integral to the story. Even Amy’s pet rat was important! This just made me really appreciate Paige’s writing, she clearly took a long time to map out each character and it’s relationship in Amy’s story.

I really enjoyed the plot for this story but my favourite part of the novel would have to be the last third, all the moments when Amy is in the Emerald Palace. The stakes felt incredibly high especially every time she was in Dorothy’s proximity. So many revelations were discovered or important plot points were laid out, it just was so exciting to read, I couldn’t keep up! I basically read that last third within one day. I was loving it so much.

I liked Amy at first but then I wasn’t so sure about her character about halfway through the novel, as she started making dumb decisions which also contradicted with the writing. She would feel a certain way about a character but it wouldn’t be portrayed well in the writing. Amy would say she disliked a character but I found, as I was experiencing the same scene as her, that I actually really liked the character and couldn’t understand why Amy would feel that way. I was thinking are we experiencing the same thing here? So that was confusing to get my head around but by the end of it she pulls through big time and I couldn’t help but just love her.

I’m not going to lie at times it did feel like a cringey YA story. I felt that the plot was really strong but at certain times the writing was lacking. Some of the writing and the dialogue made me physically cringe it felt like an adult trying to sound like a teenager, it felt really out of touch.

I also really didn’t care for the romance in the story. The romance sort of just came out of no-where and then there seemed like there was going to be a love triangle, which made no sense as none of the romance was set up properly, but that just faded away weirdly. I just don’t think it was written very well at all.

The next book I will be reading is The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie. I am currently on holiday when this is published and whenever I go away I love to read at least one murder mystery. I don’t know what it is but it is a must for me. I will still be having posts go out in the mean time, so keep your eyes out!

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Review

  • Author: Alexander McCall Smith
  • Series: The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency #1
  • Genre: Mystery
  • No. of pages: 233
  • Dates read: 24.06.19 – 30.06.19
  • Rating: 4 stars

This was an impulse buy about 2 weeks ago in a charity shop. Mystery novels are my favourite kind of novels and when I saw a mystery novel with a Botswanian woman as the detective I could not not pick it up!

I am so happy I did!

Plot: Meet Mma Ramotswe, the endearing, engaging, simply irresistible proprietress of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the first and only detective agency in Botswana. With persistent observation, gentle intuition, and a keen desire to help people with the problems of their lives, she solves mysteries great and small for friends and strangers alike.

Mma Ramotswe is an incredible character. She is tough, loving and incredibly intelligent. I loved her confidence and nerve. She is depicted as the definition of what makes Africa and in particularly Botswana great and I loved that image of this woman be the physical representation of not only her country but the entire continent. Reading the story from her POV was really enjoyable when you read something like Agatha Christie’s Poirot it’s always through the POV of his assistant or friend so we don’t see how Poirot figures things out and can be wowed at the end by his brilliance. With this book, I loved how we were piecing together the mystery alongside her! We found out all the vital information just as she did, you feel like you yourself are a private detective.

I really enjoyed the structure of this novel. The first couple of chapters starting off describing her childhood and the people she grew up with. All of this helped influence her brilliant mind and her love for solving a mystery. I also loved how while there was one over-arching mystery, filtered through the story were tiny cases that Mma Romatswe solved so it felt like more of a short story collection as some cases would only take up one chapter.

My main reservation though was that the author was a white man writing about the experiences of a black woman living in Africa. I understand that authors should be at liberty to write a variety of characters but Mma Ramotswe’s story was so raw and honest and heart-breaking I was worried with how it was going to be handled. Purely because the author would never be able to experience what life would be like for a woman living in rural Botswana and growing up there. I do feel it was done well and I never felt that the story was handled carelessly. But I can’t really decide of this was handled well as I myself am white and also will never experience what’s like to be someone like Mma Ramotswe.

That being said, I did really enjoy this book. I flew through it and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

The next book I will be reviewing will be Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. I am reading this for the ONTD Reading Challenge for the month of July, the theme is ‘re-tellings’.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire review

  • Author: J.K Rowling
  • Series: Harry Potter #4
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 636
  • Dates read: 01.06.19 – 23.06.19
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)
  • Challenge: 2019 sequels and ONTD Challenge June Theme, “A book about friendship or where friendship is the main theme.”

I love the Harry Potter series! It is one of my favourite series of all time. I love the movies, the theme parks, everything. I listen to all the podcasts about it and last year I decided I was going to re-read my favourite series as I couldn’t remember much of Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, so I wanted to remind myself.

When I knew I was going to re-read this book I decided I wanted to approach the re-read with a different focus in mind. I had recently been listening to a podcast called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. This podcast would take a deep dive into each chapter of the books and focus on a specific theme. They would analyse the chapter and have in-depth and insightful discussions on the events in that chapter. I binged this podcast and I thought to myself. I would love to adopt this idea of reading each chapter with a theme in mind, I would like to see if it shaped my way of thinking.

I also decided to annotate favorutie quotes and passages I found in the book. So I grabbed two highlighters, a pen and a ruler and got to work!

My takeaway from this experience was, that while I enjoyed looking for where the theme was in each book this needs to be a practice that you do over a long period of time. You can’t condense this into a short period of time. I tried to fit Goblet of Fire into one month and it was tricky at times as I felt I was putting a timetable in place to make sure I got it done. It felt more like homework than the joy of reading. That’s on me.

Some chapters were easier than others to annotate and some themes were easier to find corresponding quotes or passages. I did find though that I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I could of if I was just highlighting quote that I like and just reading the books as normal. But it was a vital practice for me to take a longer and more intricate look at the story. I felt that I learned more about the motivations of characters; I learned the catalyst for poignant moments in the novel that I may not have picked up on if I had just read it normally and I appreciated Rowling’s plot a lot more than I initially did as I was looking at it through a magnifying glass.

That being said, I will not be adopting this practice for Order of the Phoenix for two reasons.

  1. The book is incredibly long with some mundane chapters so I don’t want to be spending two months annotating, getting bored of the practice and then ruining my re-read experience. Also, making me want to step from the practice all together for future novels.
  2. I feel like I grasped the meaning of the practice and I am ready to move on and try something new.

I may come back and annotate the book for the theme’s in a future re-read but for now I will take a step back.

This review was more focused on my experience annotating a novel more so than the content of the book. The book was just as extravagant, heart-breaking and fun as I had thought so when I previously read it about 5 years ago. One thing that did change for this re-read was that I got very emotional over Cedric’s death and the following scenes after that. I feel like this was because I knew what was going to follow Harry after this moment and it broke my heart. Cedric’s death is such a cataclysmic moment for the series as a whole and it really got me.

I hope to read Order of Phoenix later on this year but I have some many books on my physical tbr we shall see what happens.

Equal Rites Review

  • Author: Terry Pratchett
  • Series: Discworld #3
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 288
  • Dates read: 17.06.19 – 24.06.19
  • Rating: 3 stars

This book was kind of lack-luster!

Plot: The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic, he failed to check that the baby in question was a son. Everybody knows that there’s no such thing as a female wizard. But now it’s gone and happened, there’s nothing much anyone can do about it. Let the battle of the sexes begin…

Let me explain… the first half I loved. I loved getting to know Eskarina and watching her magic grow and her setting off on her adventure. The second half, to be honest when she meets Simon and gets to the Unseen University, I got bored. The plot centred so much on Simon and I never really grasped why and I never really cared because I didn’t care for Simon as a character.

Simon was an average character introduced, in my opinion, too late into the story. I didn’t connect with him so when all the stuff that went down at the end, I didn’t really care what happened to him.

I felt the ending was rushed and not really well thought out. It felt like it came out of no-where. I didn’t get how we got into the situation and then how we managed to get out of the situation. I was just very confused with the final 50 pages and I didn’t really like how it was all tied up. I would have preferred a story in which we watch Eskarina grow up to learn to use her powers and learn to control the staff with or without the help of wizards. I just didn’t like where the narrative went in the second half of the novel.

What I did love, as per, was Pratchett’s witty dialogue. I laughed out loud at some points, especially with Granny Weatherwax. I enjoyed his tangents on mundane objects or about characters that we will never meet again in this book, after this one interaction. I thought it was fun and light-hearted.

I loved Eskarina’s character. She was so ballsy and wouldn’t let anyone stop her on her journey to control and learn about her powers. Her relationship with Granny Weatherwax was so interesting. I loved watching them grow to love each other and how they look out for each other no matter what!

I also LOVED Pratchett’s commentary on gender equality. Constantly there were references to how women would never be able to do a man’s job and how women weren’t allowed in places of high education. I loved how the women in this book dismissed these statements and paved their own way and how the narrator made a note to add he disagreed with the misogynistic characters and things they were saying. Plus, the image of Granny Weatherwax slamming open the doors to the great hall and duelling with the Archchancellor of the Unseen University made me very happy!!

The next book I will be reviewing is The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. From what I have grasped so far, is that it’s a mystery novel of missing child set in Botswana.

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Hi everyone, so since we are halfway through the year I thought it would be best if I told you all my thoughts and feelings on the books I read in the first 6 months of 2019!

I plan on –

  • Listing all the books I read.
  • Update on my challenges.
  • Then do the generic tag, giving you an insight into my opinions so far!

The books I have read so far…

Challenge Update!

So, in regards to my 2019 sequels challenge where I planned to read the sequel to all the books I read in 2018… I have done very, very well. I have only one book left which is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and then I would have completed my 2019 sequels challenge!

For my ONTD Challenge, I have also been incredibly successful! The list below is the books I have read so far for the challenge.

  • January ~ (Read a book that is being turned into a movie or TV show in 2019) ~ The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett and The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R Tolkien. (I did get this wrong as I chose books that weren’t being made or released as tv shows or movies in 2019 but I still technically fulfilled the challenge just the wrong year!)
  • February ~ (Read a book that includes romance or a book in which characters experience a break-up) ~ Obsidio – Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff and Legendary – Stephanie Garber.
  • March ~ (Read a non-fiction book) ~ How To Adult – Stephen Wildish.
  • April ~ (Read a book about time-travel) ~ The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – Claire North
  • May ~ (Read a book set in a country you have never been too) ~ The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden (Russia) and The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel (Canada)
  • June ~ (Read a book about friendship) ~ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K Rowling

Finally, for my Goodreads reading challenge. I have read 25 books out of my target of 33. So only 8 more books to go!

On with the tag questions…

Best book you have read so far in 2019:

The best book is a toss-up between Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve or Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. Both were action packed and full of amazing characters and set in two very different worlds. One is a post-apocalyptic dystopian, the other a flourishing utopia. Very different, it is too hard to choose now but I will choose Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve! See the next question.

Best sequel you have read so far in 2019:

Well, this one is easy! Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman, this book was so much better than Scythe and I didn’t think we were going to be able to top Scythe! The world-building was incredible as per but the stakes felt higher in this book than in the first one and we started to move away from it being Citra and Rowan’s sole journey but to a wider more political novel about the society itself. This aspect I really enjoyed!

New release you haven’t yet read but want to:

There are so many new releases I want to read! I can’t pick one!

  • The Girl in Red – Christina Henry. My favourite author of 2018 but her last book was incredibly disappointing I hope she will bring it back with this one.
  • City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Gods of Jade and Sorrow – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Biggest disappointment:

Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst. This book was awful! The only reason I gave this a two-star rating is because the main character’s friend is super lovely and I see a bit of myself in her but besides that the book is awful! What was disappointing about this was that this was my first book from a book subscription box and I had really high expectations for the book as they, so rightfully, hyped it up. But it was just awful and the string of books that followed, from the company, weren’t any better, thankfully I came out of the slump thanks to their March box. But it was just disappointing as it was hyped up so much and under-delivered incredibly.

Biggest surprise:

The Long Way To A Small Angry Plant by Becky Chambers. This was a book I had seen posted around and mentioned numerous times but I never felt the desire to pick it up. A friend from work gave it to me to read and I was blown away by how sweet, funny and crazy it was. It has ended up becoming one of my favourite books of this year and I just loved the friendships and bonds that were formed. I always considered this book to be something I wouldn’t like.

Favourite new author:

I would have to say, Phillip Reeve. He is a new author to me this year and I thoroughly enjoyed his book, the world-building was amazing. The action was exhilarating and if it wasn’t for my massive pile of books on my desk waiting to be read I would pick up the next book now and read it!

Newest favourite character:

Again I couldn’t pick just one character so see the list below:

  • Rhen Tellur – To Best The Boys
  • Valentine Waterford – Resort to Murder
  • The entire cast of The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet
  • Jupiter North – Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
  • Death – The Discworld Series

Book that made you cry:

No book will ever come close to the tears I shed reading Lost Boy by Christina Henry. The closest I got to was Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. To me it was more emotion towards it being the end of the series, I really enjoyed this trilogy and the themes that were discussed in these novels are very heart-breaking and to see it all end and especially in the way it did. It did make me get emotional but I didn’t cry.

Book that made you happy:

I again have a few as I can’t pick one.

  • The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden. Mainly because it was such an improvement from her first book.
  • TLWTASAP – Becky Chambers. Just a fun book about friendship and connections with an incredibly funny cast.
  • The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett. His books are always just so fun and it’s so easy to get lost into his world and his writing.

Most beautiful book you have received or bought this year.

The Mortal Engines cover is the most outstanding cover so far this year. The artwork is absolutely amazing and breath-taking!

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I have so many books that I need to read. I have 13 books waiting on my shelf to be read and most of these books don’t fit into the remaining ONTD reading categories so I will have to get more books in order to achieve that challenge. There are too many books to count!

Mortal Engines Review

  • Author: Phillip Reeve
  • Series: Mortal Engines Quartet #1
  • Genre: Sci-fi/Dystopian
  • No. of pages: 336
  • Dates read: 29.05.19 – 10.06.19
  • Rating: 5 stars (Favourite)

This might just be my new favourite book so far of 2019! It’s definitely in the top 5!

I didn’t know much about this story going into it, I had watched the trailer for the movie and that was about it. I am so happy that I have found this series!

Plot: London is a city on wheels – a future city like you’ve never known before. In the terrible aftermath of the Sixty Minute War, cities which survived the apocalypse became predators, chasing and feeding on smaller towns. Now London is hunting down its prey, getting ready to feed. But as the chase begins, Tom uncovers a secret – a secret full of deadly consequences. Soon he is plunged into a world of unkillable enemies, threatened by a weapon that will tear his life apart.

First of all, the setting was unlike anything I have read before. I loved the world-building of the city of London with its many cogs, levels and pipes. It had a massive steampunk feel to it, the city felt like it was just patched together with what was available. Reeve did an amazing job in painting a picture for you of London and all the other places that we visit. I just fell in love with this messed up world.

The characters in this book were incredibly varied. I loved seeing Tom turn from coward to hero, becoming the hero he dreamed of being. I loved Hester’s character the most, she was a woman with a goal and was unwavering! (Ignore the fact her goal is to murder someone.) Katherine was such a beautiful and hopeful character and you just want to see her succeed. The female characters especially lift quite a lot of the male characters up in this story which was great to see!

One thing I didn’t love, there is probably a reason behind this, was the emphasis on Hester’s “ugliness”. She has a scar which haunts her everywhere she goes and I felt slightly uncomfortable whenever she was referenced as ugly or disgusting by all the male characters she comes into contact with, it’s a sign of trauma in her life and it’s something that should be dismissed as ugly and unworthy of someone’s time. But there is probably a deeper meaning to this but I had to say it.

I loved the different POV’s we got throughout the story, we were watching many different sides to this big narrative! We got Katherine’s journey of discovery, Tom’s journey of survival and Hester’s journey of revenge. All very different journey’s so it made for an incredibly interesting read and very dynamic plot!

The romance that brewed in this novel worked well for me. It wasn’t too over-empowering but also developed enough so you didn’t think it came out of the blue.

I loved the theme of loss that flows its way through the story. While I can’t say too much due to spoilers, nearly every character has experienced, prior to the story or during the story, some element of losing something and now has to deal with that loss. It was a theme that follows you from page to page.

My final point would be that it felt very much like a standalone novel, someone the actions and plot points felt very final to me rather than the pathway to a second novel. So, I am interested to see where Reeve goes with the series, as it’s quite unclear to me.

The next book I will be reviewing is The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell. A more light-hearted and fun novel. I am still re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as I am typing this but there will be a blog post about that book as well.

May Wrap Up 2019

Here are the books I read in the month of May.

Resort to Murder by TP Fielden (4 stars)

This was another good instalment to the new murder mystery series by TP Fielden. I found the case to be far more engaging than the previous book, the addition of the character Valentine to be a brilliant choice and the ending to be a lot more satisfying than the original novel. That being said I did find some problems with the characterisation of one of the female characters in this book. She could have been written a lot better.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1.5 stars)

This was boring! I DNFed this book at 25% and because I only read 58 pages of the 230-page book, I didn’t feel like I had enough reasons or have read enough of the book to review it. This is my first 1 star of the year! To me, since it’s a character-driven novel, I had no idea where the plot was going, nor did I care! I also found the main character to be annoying and whiny. His stream of consciousness kind of monologue was dull and painful to read.

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (5 stars)

Another book which avoided 2nd Book Syndrome! I read the first novel and felt underwhelmed. But I decided to pick up the second book as I quite liked the direction it was going and it blew my mind! I loved how it kept to what made the first book so great, most importantly the folklore creatures but it also expanded on where it initally faultered. Vasya’ character development was done very well in this book.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel (2 stars)

This was a disappointing one for me. Mainly it felt like a middle grade trying to be YA. Also the book was full of a variety of genres that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, one minute it’s historical fiction and then it’s fantasy. The writing was lacking for me as well and I was just completely underwhelmed with it all.

Viper by Bex Hogan (3 stars)

This one I enjoyed. One of the last books I read from my Fairyloot subscription boxes and I loved it. I had never read a pirate story before so I was excited going into it. My favourite thing was the father/daughter dynamic between our main charcter and her father the infamous Viper! This story is incredibly action-packed and heart-breaking. I recommend everyone should give this a read!

To Best The Boys by Mary Weber (4 stars)

My last book for May and I have left the month very happy. This was one of my highly anticipated reads of 2019 and I loved it!! A book that every young girl should read. It’s incredibly empowering with an amazing message with two strong female characters at the forefront of the story. This story is like Viper, full of twists and turns and you root for girls the entire way through the novel. It also has a deadly labyrinth and who doesn’t love Labyrinths!

To Best The Boys Review

  • Author: Mary Weber
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Magic Realism/Action Adventure
  • No. of pages: 314
  • Dates read: 21.05.19 – 29.05.19
  • Star Rating: 4 stars

WOW!!!!!!

This is the kind of book I need more of in my life! This book is incredibly empowering and is something that all young girls should read.

Plot: Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port have received a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well, Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition. With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone is ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the deadly maze.

First of all, you have a female protagonist who aspires to be the first female scientist while also dealing with dyslexia, I love it. While dyslexia only plays a small part in her character it really shows her determination to want to learn and succeed. I thought she was an amazing protagonist and I found myself relating to her a lot!

One of the main themes of this book is about a women’s place. Who she should be in accordance to the male characters, you see Rhen try to break free from the societal constraints placed on her and she says numerous times that she is not owned by any man and that she is her own person to make her own decisions. Then you have Seleni who enjoys the more stereotypical roles of a housewife and mother and I loved that both women were empowered to lead their very different lives and the Seleni wasn’t ridiculed for her choices by Rhen and vice versa.

Seleni and Rhen’s relationship was one of my favourite parts of this book. I love their support for each other, their love for each other and how Seleni didn’t bat an eyelid in taking part in the contest to support Rhen. They were never really pitted against each other and even if they were they had each other’s back which I loved to see.

Many men in this book were awful! Point blank awful. I have never wanted to launch a book across the room as much as I have with this book, as some of the boys (the privileged, rich kids) were so rude and horrible. We had attempted assault, gaslighting, classism etc. Weber did a great job of making you hate these characters. I also felt that Weber did a great job though in separating the bad men from the good men who were allies to Rhen and Seleni. Like Lute, Beryll, Sam etc. These boys were a ray of light, especially Lute, who didn’t feel emasculated next to the girls and didn’t feel the need to bring them down but actually lifted them up and gave them opportunities to succeed.

What I liked about Beryll, especially, was he was raised exactly like the horrible boys were. Rich, privileged lives but he didn’t look down upon others and he took his experiences and the people he met and ultimately learned from it and tries to be the best ally he can me and I loved that about his character!

The setting for this book is really interesting. It’s sort of light fantasy/magic realism and I really enjoyed the setting. I loved that it was the norm to avoid going out at a specific time or specific areas because of ghouls and monsters and how some people didn’t bat an eyelid about it. The labyrinth was my favourite part of the plot, I do think we could have spent more time and I was disappointed that it was over so quickly. I felt it was incredibly imaginative and that not all was as it seemed, I love seeing the character dynamics play out with each obstacle. But I felt more time should have been spent in there.

The next book I will be reviewing is Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve. I have heard some amazing things about this novel so I’m excited to give this a go. I will also be re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the same time. I will go into a bit more detail about my re-read and why I am re-reading the series in a future post.

Viper Review

  • Author: Bex Hogan
  • Series: Isles of Storm and Sorrow #1
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 400
  • Dates read: 16.05.19 – 21.05.19
  • Star rating: 3.75 stars

I got this from a book subscription box and I had bought other ones for the same company and had not enjoyed the books selected that much or at all! So going into this I was quite worried I would have the same experience but I was happy to be proven wrong!

Plot: Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles. But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake. He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father. She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

For starters, the world of the Eastern Isles is really imaginative and I loved being in that world. I felt the introduction to the world and its history was done really well and was a very interesting part of the story. I really enjoyed hearing about the past between the Eastern and Western Isles. It was all thought out very well. Hogan’s descriptive writing of the different islands was really fun to read about. You could picture yourself there.

I have never read a pirate story before and I feel this is a really good introduction into these kinds of novels. I felt that Hogan’s writing when it came to explaining the ways of the Viper’s ship and all the sailing jargon was done really well to show the intricacies and knowledge Hogan had but also simpler enough that if you had never heard of this stuff before you weren’t incredibly lost. Also, the description of fighting was amazing, since these characters are such skilled fighters you have to have writing that matches that.

The female characters were stand out in this novel and I felt Marianne was a great protagonist. I especially loved her internal struggle of trying to figure out where she stands in the world and who she truly is. Her strength was something I truly loved about her, despite everything, she stands tall and continues to fight. It’s a very admiral trait to have in a female character.

Her relationship with her father was the most interesting part of the whole book. It’s a very traumatic and heart-breaking dynamic that could be hard for certain readers to read. You spend the whole book rooting for her, as you truly see a monster more than a man with Captain Alder. I think it’s an interesting pairing to have with a book as I am used to female characters standing up against evil mothers, not fathers.

I really enjoyed the exploration of what it means to be a woman in the world and especially what sacrifices the female characters have had to make in order to survive whether it’s on an island or on the Viper’s ship.

I thought the arranged marriage between Torin and Marianne was done really well. I think most arranged marriages are written to be evil things that act as prisons for the main character and while this can be the case, it was nice to see a more positive spin on a trope which is normally used more negatively.

My only qualms with this novel are:

I felt the magic and all the stuff surrounding the magic could have been introduced or hinted at earlier on. There were signs here and there but they were too subtle and I felt when they did the big reveal that it came out of no-where and I would have been happy if she just a normal teenager trying to survive.

I really didn’t like the whole “I’m scared of the darkness within me” trope that happens a lot in books like this. I found that it was used to much and it got quite tiresome by the end of it as personally, I would love to see her embrace all sides of herself.

Finally, the romance took some time to really work for me. I am not the biggest fan of romance in stories, as I have seen it be done horribly so I am always cautious but I ended up enjoying it, it just took some time.

The Boundless Review

  • Author: Kenneth Oppel
  • Series: Standalone
  • Genre: Historical/Magic Realism
  • No. of page: 332
  • Dates read: 12.05.19 – 15.05.19
  • Rating: 2 stars
  • Challenge: ONTD Challenge May Theme “A book set in a country you’ve never been to”. (Canada)

I had a lot of hope for this book. I had only recently added it onto my TBR list and happened upon it while in the library. This book, to me, had so much going for it but it just lacked in execution.

Plot: When Will Everett boards The Boundless he expects the ride of his life – not a fast route to death. But when the key to the train’s secret cargo falls into his possession he finds himself hunted by ruthless killers. As the great train hurtles across the country he will need all his wits to elude his pursuers – and keep himself alive. (Goodreads)

The overall writing was quite boring, I understand it needs to be easy as this is aimed at a more younger audience but the writing could have been more exciting! This book to me felt like it was a middle grade novel trying to be a YA novel. One thing I did enjoy with the writing was that it covered a lot of deep-rooted issues like racism, colonisation and sexism which I felt was handled well but then on the flip side the character does black face and is trying to pass off as Indian in order to not be recognised by the villain and that made me feel uncomfortable.

The book tackled with a lot of genres; historical fiction, fantasy and magic realism. While I normally enjoy a mismatch of genres this felt all over the place for me. I guess it was meant to play with the question of “what is magic?” and “is it magic or just an illusion?” but I don’t think it was executed that well.

I love stories set on trains. I think it’s a really interesting setting for a novel and the description of the different carriages was fun and varied, what I expect from a middle grade novel. I loved the imagination!

The characters were fun and slightly layered which was enjoyable and I loved going on the journey with them. Will, as a main character was fine, but you stay for the secondary characters as they bought more personality to the table. My favourite character would have to be Maren, a self-assured female character that had many different sides to her. I would have preferred if she was the protagonist of the story. She was the more interesting of the two.

The next book I will be reviewing is Viper by Bex Hogan. A book I obtained from the Fairyloot March Box. I have not had great luck with the books from the Fairyloot packages so I am hoping to enjoy this book but I am a bit worried.

The Girl in the Tower Review

  • Author: Katherine Arden
  • Series: Winternight Trilogy #2
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy
  • No. of pages: 346 pages
  • Dates read: 07.05.19 – 10.05.19
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels and ONTD Challenge May Theme “A book set in a country you’ve never been to. (Russia)”

I mean what can I say!

When I read The Bear and the Nightingale last year, I felt underwhelmed and I didn’t really have the desire to pick up the next book BUT I am so happy that I did!

This book was, by far, better than the first novel and it expanded on what I liked from the first novel but elevated it and made it better.

Firstly, I was so much more invested in Vasya’s story this time around. I found her a bit annoying in the first book but this time I fully understand who she is and what she stands for. I related to her on such a deep level and I really wanted to see her succeed and live the life she wants to lead. Her character development was amazing!

I loved how action-packed this story was. The scenes which involved fighting were so exhilarating to read about and I found myself on the edge of my seat. I felt the stakes were a lot higher this time around and it made the plot incredibly engaging. You didn’t know what was going to happen or where the plot was going to twist and turn next and it was incredibly satisfying. 

Arden’s prose was so beautifully written and she really encompassed what it would feel like to live in medieval Russia. The way she writes about winter is amazing! I also really enjoyed the more formal kind of dialogue that the characters use between one another.

I was relieved to read that the little folklore creatures still had a prominent role within the story. My worry was that she would favour a more political story and give less screen time, if you will, to the chyteri. They still featured greatly and helped in advancing the plot which made me very happy.

My favourite part of the book was definitely the discussion of what a woman’s role is supposed to be at the time and how Vasya is trying to break away from that. It was heart-breaking to read how the women suffered and were treated as objects to the male characters. And how the women are raised to expect this boring life without fun and adventure. I really enjoyed reading Vasya’s inner monologue of her wanting more from life, it was so uplifting to read about a female character wanting to explore the world around her!

Final note: I love Solovey and Vasya’s friendship. What a duo!

The next book I will be reviewing will be The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. This is a random read that I just decided to pick up at the library. Fingers crossed it’s good!

Resort to Murder Review

  • Author: TP Fielden
  • Series: A Miss Dimont Mystery #2
  • Genre: Historical/Murder Mystery
  • No. of pages: 300
  • Dates read: 26.04.19 – 03.05.19
  • Ratings: 4 stars
  • Challenge: 2019 Sequels

Plot (as seen on Goodreads): With its pale, aquamarine waters and golden sands, the shoreline at Temple Regis was a sight to behold. But when an unidentifiable body is found there one morning, the most beautiful beach in Devon is turned into a crime scene. For Miss Dimont – ferocious defender of free speech, champion of the truth and ace newspaperwoman for The Riviera Express – this is a case of paramount interest, and the perfect introduction for her young new recruit Valentine Waterford. Even if their meddling is to the immense irritation of local copper Inspector Topham… Soon Miss Dimont and Valentine are deep in investigation – why can nobody identify the body, and why does Topham suspect murder? And when a second death occurs, can the two possibly be connected?

Another solid sequel that I have read this week. TP Fielden has been a pleasant surprise and I was not disappointed by his 2nd instalment.

First of all, my main positive about this book would be the introduction of a new main character, Valentine Waterford. He was a brilliant addition to the story and it felt good to have another set of eyes to view the story from.

I really enjoyed the structure of this story where we see the reporters cover 3 big stories. The stories were incredibly interesting and varied. I sadly can’t say much about the cases without spoiling the plot but it just worked so well and I preferred the structure of the investigation into both murders compared to how it was done in the first book.

As per usual, Fielden did a great job at describing the town of Temple Regis, giving life to the town and making it feel as if Temple Regis itself was a character within the story. An omnipotent being watching the drama unfold before it. 

Two of my main stumbling blocks with this book is that first of all it took some time for the narrative to really get going. The first 100 pages while easy to read were not that exciting, once you get past the 100 pages mark the story really starts to kick and that’s when you get invested. It was a bit disappointing that you had to wait for 100 pages to get there.

My other bugbear was the characterisation of Ursula, the leader of the Sisters of Reason feminist group. I felt she was only included to play the angry, ugly feminist and she was a one-dimensional character. I understand the point that was meant to be made about the fringe feminist group and the fight for gender equality at that time. Some great points were raised, I just feel that making the leader a more masculine woman and subsequently writing her as an unlikable individual who everyone dislikes or is intimidated with no redeeming qualities was not subtle and could have been written better.

April Wrap Up 2019

Below is the list of the four books I read in April. The photo includes all the books I own. I had a pretty good April with most books being 4 stars or more!

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (4.5 stars)

This book to me was 4 stars until the very ending. I couldn’t give it 5 stars due to the fact I felt that Christie relied on the ending for her book entirely. While I felt that the ending was masterful, I felt the book as a whole was 4 stars.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (4 stars)

This book had been on my TBR list for ages and I thought I was never going to pick this us. This was until the ONTD Reading Challenge came along and set the theme of “Time Travel” for the month of April and I knew this was the book I was going to read. This book was an incredible slow-burner and I loved reading about this immaculate life/lives that Harry lives.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (5 stars)

This book was recommended to me by a friend from work, I don’t own this book so it’s not included in the photo. It was a book I had seen all over Booktube and Goodreads but never felt the urge to pick it up and did I feel like an idiot when I sat on the train back home from work and fell in love with these crazy characters! This is more of a character-driven novel and it was so, so good. Everyone should read it!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (2 stars)

So this book… I have not done a review for this book since I DNFed it at 40% so I couldn’t give a review on a book I didn’t even read half of. But I did read that 40% in April so I think it should be noted. To be honest, the reason I put it down was due to the desire to pick it back up was minimal and while I did want to know how it ended, I didn’t want to read the extra 300 pages to get there! I just decided to put it down and move away.