Top 10 Tuesday: Books With Colours in the Titles

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is books with colours in the titles! I found a lot of books with red/crimson/ruby in the title when I was looking, that seems to be a popular colour.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

First, here are five books that I’ve read.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (I was thinking of midnight blue for this one)

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Rose Society by Marie Lu (I’m counting ‘rose’ as a colour…)

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

And here are five books with colours in the titles that are on my TBR!

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Splinters of Scarlet by Emily Bain Murphy

Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Have you read many books with colours in the titles? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (eARC)

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy    

Publishing Info: eARC from Orbit

Pages: 528

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Thank you so much to Orbit and NetGallery for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Once and Future Witches is a well-written and expertly crafted exploration of magic and feminism. Alix E. Harrow’s debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, made a big splash, so there have been big expectations for her follow up. I haven’t yet read The Ten Thousand Doors of January, so The Once and Future Witches is my first time reading her work. I have to say I was impressed by the quality of the writing. It’s lyrical and captivating, perhaps like a magic spell, which is why it suits this story so well.

The historical setting, the women’s movement and witches are woven together so well. It really works. I loved how magic is done through words from rhymes and stories passed down from mother to daughter through the generations. There are also some subtle and clever changes to history and literature, such as the Sisters Grimm instead of the Brothers Grimm. The rights of witches and the rights of women are tightly connected in this book and shows the struggles women faced in the 1890s. It isn’t just a story of witches and magic, it’s also deeply thought-provoking.

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July 2020 Wrap Up

This month I should have been going to YALC! I was so looking forward to it so was really disappointed it had to be cancelled because of coronavirus. Instead there was a digital version of the event called #atHomeYALC which was fun! There were giveaways and panels and lots of other fun bookish things on Twitter and Instagram. Hopefully we will be able to attend YALC in person next year!

I had a great month for reading as I loved all the books I read! My first read of July was Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim which I really enjoyed. Next, I read Burn by Patrick Ness which was just so creative and unique. I never knew quite what was going to happen next. Plus it had dragons!

I read the third book in Sarah J Maas’s Throne of Glass series – Heir of Fire. This series just seems to get better and better! I love her writing and stories.   

I just finished reading an eARC of The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. I’ll be posting a review of that soon!

I received copies of Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee and The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna in Fairyloot’s June box which arrived a few weeks late. My Fairyloot edition of The Damned by Renee Ahdieh also arrived. The Beautiful was one of my favourite reads of 2019 so I’m really looking forward to the sequel.

This month I took part in Camp NaNoWriMo with my King Arthur retelling and I smashed my goal of 16,000 words! I wrote 18,552 words in July which I am super happy with. I’m loving working on this project so I’m excited to continue writing it.

How had your July been? What books have you enjoyed this month? Chat with me in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish: How Have Your Reading Habits Changed Over Time?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today’s theme is ‘How have your reading habits changed over time?’.

I have loved reading for a very long time and my reading habits have certainly changed. Before I went to university, I read quite a mix of books. A lot of YA but also some more literary books. Then when I went to uni to study English Literature with Creative Writing I didn’t have much spare time for reading outside the course material. So I read a lot of classics and literary fiction for those three years. I read some great books and I enjoyed my degree, but I did miss being able to choose what I read.

Then when I finished uni (3 years ago now!) I didn’t want to see another classic! I’ve read almost solely YA since then. I’ve also read mostly fantasy and sci-fi. I think having read so many literary and challenging reads during my degree, I just wanted to be sucked into a great story again. I just wanted to be swept up in a fantasy adventure.

Having spent 3 years reading as part of studying, it did take me a little while to get back into reading for fun. At first, I didn’t enjoy reading as much as I used to, because while I was studying it was something I had to do and I had to read particular books. Having the freedom to choose what to read again was great, but it did take me a little while to get back into it.

Over the last year or so I’ve got back into really loving reading for pleasure again and consequentially I’ve started reading more too. Having my love of reading rekindled again has been wonderful.

I’ve also done a lot of reading this year thanks to lockdown. Even though I’m still working full time (from home) I’ve had a lot more free time since I’ve not been able to go anywhere! I expect the amount of reading I do will go down again a bit whenever we finally get back to ‘normal’. So I’m making the most of the time I have to read and write.

I’m actually reading a classic at the moment though – Emma by Jane Austen. As I’ve read a lot of fantasy lately it is nice to read something different. There are a lot of classics I want to read, but I probably won’t read them that often. At the moment I’m reading about one a year. Maybe that will change though. It will be interesting to see how my reading habits have changed in a few years time!

Have your reading habits changed over the years? Has the kind of books you enjoy shifted? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

Top 10 Tuesday: Author’s I’ve Read The Most Books By

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is a freebie so I’ve decided to do a theme from a few weeks ago that I missed. It was interesting to look at which authors I’ve read the most books by. I don’t seem to be very good at finishing series, so even though there are some authors I have loved, I’ve not read many of their books!

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.

Cassandra Clare (10)

Sarah J. Maas (7)

Anthony Horowitz (7)

Michael Grant (5)

Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (5)

Rick Riordan (5)

Patricia A McKillip (5)

Lauren Oliver (4)

Suzanne Collins (4)

Leigh Bardugo (4)

It’s really not a surprise that Cassandra Clare is top of this list! I’ve been reading her books for a long time and she has written so many of them! I was surprised however how many Sarah J Maas books I’ve read even though I only started reading her books a couple of years ago. It tends to take me quite a while to get through series as I don’t usually like reading them one after another, so I’m amazed I’ve read so many already.

Which authors have you read the most books by? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Mass

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy    

Publishing Info: September 2014 by Bloomsbury

Pages: 562

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back…

The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king – for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

Heir of Fire is the third book in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series and so far it’s been getting better and better with each book. Sarah J. Maas introduces us to new locations and new characters in Heir of Fire which helped keep the story fresh. While the first two books were focused on Rifthold, Heir of Fire is split between three locations and storylines – Celaena in Wendlyn, Chaol and Dorian in Rifthold, and Manon in the Ferian Gap.

Celaena’s story and character development had me gripped the most. Celaena is broken and grieving after the events of Crown of Midnight and she grows a lot in this book. Celaena learns to use her magic and it is not easy. I appreciated that she didn’t get a grip of her magic instantaneously. It took time for her to learn to control her power. I’m not always keen on training sequences as they can be a bit samey and boring, but I didn’t find that at all in this book. Rowan is an interesting addition to the cast. He and Celaena don’t get on at first but their friendship grows as they realise they have more in common than they thought. I didn’t find the sections with Chaol and Dorian as entertaining. Although these parts were necessary for the plot, in places I just wasn’t that gripped by their storyline. Though I did like the introduction of Aedion Ashryver.

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Let’s Talk Bookish: Blog Scheduling

July has been a busy month for me so far! I’ve not been blogging as much as I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo during July so I’ve been focusing on writing my novel. But today I’m back to talk bookish!

Today’s theme is ‘Blog Scheduling’. Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion.

When I first started blogging way back in 2012 (I can’t believe it’s been so long!) I didn’t have any schedule and I just posted randomly. I didn’t post all that often back then, but over the years I started posting more often. Last year I decided to make a schedule so it was easier to keep track of what I had planned and I’ve found it’s helped me keep up with blogging more regularly. I don’t post the same things on particular days. I tend to post a book review when I’ve finished a book and then written the review. I have a dated list of posts but I am flexible with moving things around.

There are a few memes I take part in but I don’t usually do them every week. I only usually take part if I feel I’ve got enough to say for the subject. For example, I take part in Top 10 Tuesday but I might skip a week if there’s no way I can think of 10 books for the topic. I also just don’t have time to write blog posts every week for all the memes I take part in. So I choose the ones I have the most to say about. I usually slot them all into my schedule to remind me what the prompts are and write something for them if I have time.

One of the questions posed in the prompt is ‘Do you think having a schedule is an important part of being a good blogger?’ and I think the answer to that is probably no. Having a schedule won’t work for everyone, I’m sure some people enjoy posting more spontaneously. I think having a schedule has helped me become a better blogger because it helps remind me to write blog posts and encourages me to do it more regularly. But that might not be the case for everyone.

Do you plan your blog posts? Or are you more spontaneous with your posting? I’d love to hear your thoughts so let me know what you think in the comments!

Book Review: Burn by Patrick Ness

Burn by Patrick Ness

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: June 2020 by Walker Books  

Pages: 384

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

In 1956 Sarah Dewhurst’s father shocks her by hiring a dragon to work the farm. The dragon is a smaller blue rather than the traditional larger reds, though even the reds are now scarce. When the blue dragon, Kazimir, unexpectedly saves Sarah and her friend Jason Inagawa from the attentions of the racist police deputy, Kelby, everything changes. Sarah is part of a prophecy and she must escape the clutches of Malcolm, an assassin from a Believer Cell, the dragon-worshiping cult. When Sarah, Malcolm, and Kazimir eventually converge, they are thrown into another universe, where dragons seem never to have existed. Can they save this world and the one they left?

Patrick Ness’s latest book, Burn, took me on a journey I was not expecting. This is my second Patrick Ness book and I can’t quite put my finger on how to describe his work. He has a unique style and his books always seem unpredictable. Although they do sometimes use tropes (e.g. a prophecy in this book) they seem different to most YA books. This time, he’s taken dragons and put them in 1950s America. That concept alone had me desperate to read it.

Burn imagines a world where dragons are real and are a normal part of life. There has been a truce of sorts between humans and dragons, meaning dragons mostly stick to their own areas. There is a lot going on in this book. We have dragons, the Cold War, FBI agents, a cult and a prophecy. And it works. Patrick Ness has created a world where dragons wandering round rural America seemed totally normal. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot as I think this is one of those books where it’s best going into it not knowing much. At the midpoint it went in a direction I wasn’t expecting and kept me on my toes. There were so many twists and I loved that I never knew what was going to happen next.                                                                                   

There were a lot of characters packed into a short book, so we don’t get to know them in that much depth. But I felt I knew enough about them to be invested in their stories. Kazimir was my absolute favourite character. Patrick Ness does such an amazing job of showing his personality through his body language and facial expressions. Plus, he has some of the best lines. Although this is mostly a serious save the world kind of book, there are also some lines that had me chuckling.

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Book Review: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: July 2019 by Alfred A. Knopf Books

Pages: 392

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Spin the Dawn is a magical YA fantasy novel that had me thoroughly enchanted. There’s something mystical about this story and Lim’s writing that just drew me in right from the first chapter.

From the description, the contest sounds like a large part of the story, but I was aware from reading other reviews that it actually only takes up a relatively small part of the book. I knew to expect more of a travelling/adventure narrative so wasn’t disappointed that the contest was short. My attention did waver a little in the middle when Maia and Edan are travelling through the desert, but it quickly picks up again and I was hooked in the latter half in particular.

I really enjoyed seeing a YA novel told from a perspective I’ve not seen before – that of a tailor. Protagonists in YA are often princesses, queens, rebels, thieves, assassins etc. Maia’s skill, and her dreams, lie in tailoring. The descriptions of her creations are stunning and it was wonderful to see the world through the eyes of a tailor. I also liked that family is important to her and how that is woven into the story. The relationships she has with her brothers is shown really well.  

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Mini Book Reviews: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

As I mentioned in my June Wrap Up, I’ve been suffering from back pain the last couple of weeks so haven’t been able to spend much time at my computer. I was going to miss doing reviews for these two books as I have lots of things to catch up on now that my back is a bit better. But I really wanted to share my thoughts on them so decided to just write some mini reviews.


The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: November 2019 by Delacorte Press

Pages: 352

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot. To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

I was super excited to read this book as it’s a retelling of King Arthur legends. The concept of Guinevere not being the real Guinevere was very intriguing. I liked the idea that Guinevere is there to protect Arthur and how the book puts her character in the spotlight.

While I enjoyed it, I could only give it 3 stars. The writing style was quite simplistic. I think it perhaps just wasn’t to my taste. Arthur seemed a bit one-dimensional to me. The depiction of his character was quite typical and seemed to rely on the concept of Arthur as a great person and king, without really showing that much of his personality.

I also found it frustrating that a lot of the mysteries introduced weren’t solved by the end of the book. It’s a series, so not every question will get an answer, but I’d have liked if we’d got more of a hint at who Guinevere really is by the end of this first book.

Despite this, I did really enjoy the book and will definitely be picking up the sequel, The Camelot Betrayal, which comes out later this year.


Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction 

Publishing Info: October 2016 by Rock the Boat 

Pages: 659

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Hanna Donnelly is the station captain’s pampered daughter and Nik Malikov is the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. Together they struggle with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, blissfully unaware that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall with news of the Kerenza invasion.

Picking up about five minutes after Illuminae ends, Gemina is the electrifying sequel to the hottest YA novel of 2015.

Illuminae was my first read of 2020 and I gave it 5 stars because it absolutely blew me away. It is absolutely one of my favourite books. The second book in The Illuminae Files series is just as thrilling and captivating. However, I only gave it 4 stars because it didn’t knock my socks off quite as much as the first.

The novel is once again told through instant messaging, CCTV camera footage, diary entries etc. which is such an interesting way to tell the story. The events follow on from Illuminae but from the perspectives of two new characters – Hanna and Nik. I can’t say much more without spoiling Illuminae.

Gemina is full of lots of twists and turns. Though the science did confuse me a bit in the latter section of the book. It’s a lot to get your head around but I think I understood it in the end.

The Illuminae Files has become one of my favourite series and I will absolutely be reading the final book in the trilogy, Obsidio.

This style won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if you haven’t read these books yet, I really recommend them, even if you don’t think they are for you, as you might just be surprised by them.