WWW Wednesday: 14 April 2021

I had the second dose of the COVID vaccine at the weekend – hurrah! It has made me feel a bit tired though so I’ve not been doing much the last few days.

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

The three W’s are:

What did you recently finish reading?

What are you currently reading?

What are you going to read next?

RECENTLY FINISHED – Malice by Heather Walter

This Sapphic retelling of Sleeping Beauty is a delightfully wicked reimagining of the original story. I loved the world building and seeing how Alyce’s character changed over the course of the book. You can check out my review here.

CURRENTLY READING – Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

I’ve read a lot of fantasy recently so decided to read something scifi and I’m so glad I picked this book up because it’s been such a fun adventure so far!

READING NEXT – Light by Michael Grant

I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to read next, but I might read Light by Michael Grant next. I feel like I’ve been reading the Gone series forever so I want to finish it.

What are you reading at the moment? What are you looking forward to reading next? Chat with me in the comments!

Book Review: Malice by Heather Walter (eARC)

Malice by Heather Walter

Genre: Fantasy

Publishing Info: eARC from Del Ray  

Pages: 400

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

Thank you so much to Del Ray and NetGalley for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The word ‘retelling’ is sure to get me interested in a book, and when I saw Malice was a Sapphic reimagining of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the villain, I just knew I had to read it. Malice includes many key elements of Sleeping Beauty (as well as a dash of other fairy tales, like Cinderalla), but weaves these into a new world and story in a refreshing way.

From the start, I really enjoyed the world building, and how the society of Briar is depicted. The upper classes are selfish and vain, obsessed with beauty and luxury, and how they can use the Graces to obtain those things. In return for their services, Graces receive payment and invitations to parties, but then when their magic Fades, they also fade out of the spotlight. Graces have little control over their lives due to the Grace Laws, and although their lives seem glamorous on the outside, there is an insidious undercurrent to the way this society functions. Good and evil isn’t so simple here, as almost every character falls somewhere in between.

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WWW Wednesday: 7 April

I’ve been really busy at work recently, and been feeling very tired and fatigued during my down time, so haven’t spent as much time blogging and blog hopping as I would like. I may be a bit quiet around here for a bit longer, but I am not going anywhere! I’ll be back to posting more regularly again when things are bit less stressful for me, when I’m feeling a bit better, and when I have more time to dedicate to writing good posts.

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

The three W’s are:

What did you recently finish reading?

What are you currently reading?

What are you going to read next?

RECENTLY FINISHED – The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon  

Although this book was really long, it wasn’t at all slow. In fact, there seemed to be a lot packed in to it. So even though there are a lot of pages to get through, I was never bored at any point during the story, the pacing wasn’t slow at all, as I find in some big fantasy books. Also, it’s a standalone, so even though it’s long, I felt satisfied finishing it having reached the story’s conclusion.

CURRENTLY READING – Malice by Heather Walter

I’m currently reading an eARC of this Sleeping Beauty retelling, I’m about 20% of the way in and enjoying it so far. There’s some interesting worldbuilding and I’m intrigued to see where the story will go.

What are you reading at the moment? What are you looking forward to reading next? Chat with me in the comments!

March 2021 Wrap Up

I didn’t read that many books this month but I did read The Priory of the Orange Tree which is super long and I’m actually pleased with how quickly I read it considering how long it is.

Links take you to my reviews!

Gut Feelings by C. G. Moore ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This novel in verse is a really raw and powerful read. It’s an own voices novel in verse based on the author’s own experiences of living with Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). I really related to the depiction of chronic illness and would really recommend.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This book is basically a mash up of Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games and that is a really cool combination. The Greek mythology is worked into the story really well and this book was a wild ride.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I was a bit intimidated by the length of this book but I am so glad I read it. Even though it was long, I never felt bored while reading it. The world building is so detailed and I loved how all the different characters’ stories weave together.

I got so many books in the post this month, but a lot of them were pre-orders, and a couple should have come in February but were delayed. So many books seemed to come out in March? So here’s a quick roundup – Goldsboro edition of Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, Illumicrate edition of Red Tigress by Amélie Wen Zhao, A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth (I had an eARC of this and just had to pre-order because it was so good), Waterstones paperback edition of House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, The Unbroken by C. L. Clark, and Fairyloot edition of Bone Crier’s Dawn by Kathryn Purdie.

I made so much progress with the second draft of my book this month so I’m really pleased with that! I hit 72,000 words at the end of March. Still have quite a bit left to go, but I’m hoping I can keep it under 100k as I don’t want it to get too long.

What books have you enjoyed this month? Chat with me in the comments!

Fairyloot January 2021 Unboxing

After the August box I decided to unsubscribe, but trust Fairyloot to pull me back in. The January theme was just perfect for me so I couldn’t pass on it. Although I decided I didn’t like getting a box every month, I will still get the occasional one when the theme and book is right up my street.

Fairyloot is a UK-based YA fantasy subscription box. If you subscribe, you get a box a month which includes a hardback book and 5-6 exclusive goodies around a theme.

The theme for January was ‘Greek Mythology’! Let’s see what was inside…

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books On My Spring 2021 TBR

This was actually last week’s topic but I missed it so decided to post it this week instead!

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.

Legendborn by Tracey Deonn

Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson

Malice by Heather Walter

The Unbroken by C. L. Clark

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

Bone Crier’s Dawn by Kathryn Purdie

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Considering how I am notoriously bad at sticking to a TBR, we’ll see how many of these books I actually get round to reading! I’m currently reading The Priory of the Orange Tree and I am loving it, but it’s taking me so long to read it.

What books are you excited to read this spring? Chat with me in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish: Diversity in Books

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. This week’s discussion is all about diversity in books, which is a super important topic.

What do you think is the meaning of diverse?

I think diverse, in relation to the book world, means many different voices from different places getting to tell their stories. But as well as authors, it’s also about having diversity in all areas of publishing, as well as attitudes to diversity, which is something that is still changing and evolving and work still needs to be done so that no one is excluded from these spaces. When I think of diverse stories, I think of books with BIPOC, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse and disabled characters.

Who do you think is qualified to write a diverse book?

I’ve seen a lot of discussions recently about #OwnVoices, especially after several cases where authors felt they had to come out because of questions around their sexuality and whether they were ‘qualified’ to write their books. Although having books by people who have lived those experiences is really important, we also shouldn’t be forcing people out of the closet, or making them disclose details about their physical or mental health, that they’re not comfortable to disclose, or which it’s perhaps not safe for them to.  

Another issue, especially when very few books about something are being published, is that one book and one experience is seen as a monolith for that experience. While people from the same background, with the same sexuality, or with the same disability, might have a lot of shared experiences, each person’s experience and viewpoint is also unique, and we shouldn’t view their books and their perspective as the sole example of that experience. This is why we need lots of diverse books!

As a straight, white writer, I’m not the right person to write a book about coming out, or about the Black experience. But I also think it’s important for books to have a diverse cast of characters. Every book should have BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters, but stories that are about those identities, are probably best told by people who have lived that experience. So #OwnVoices books are really important.    

How do you find diverse books to read?

Seeing people share publication announcements and cover reveals on Twitter, and reading recommendation lists on blogs mainly.

What are some diverse topics/POVs that you specifically look for when you’re finding books and why?

I think it’s important to read diversely and widely, so I try and read books with BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters. Recently, I’ve also especially been looking for books with disability (which seems to be a lot harder to find?), as I have a chronic illness myself, and would like to see that experience explored in fiction a lot more. I’d also really like to see more disability in fantasy and sci-fi – I want to see disabled people go on adventures!

How do you decide if a diverse topic/POV is done well?

I think this is difficult to do unless you share the character’s identity/disability/etc. So I try and find reviews by people who have shared the experiences explored in the book to see their perspective. But I think there are some red flags that anyone can spot.

Do you have any thoughts on diversity in books? Chat with me in the comments!

WWW Wednesday: 17 March 2021

I’ve not done much blogging or blog hopping in the last week as I’ve just been feeling so tired and drained. Hopefully I’ll start feeling a bit better soon and can get back to posting more regularly!

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

The three W’s are:

What did you recently finish reading?

What are you currently reading?

What are you going to read next?

RECENTLY FINISHED – Lore by Alexandra Bracken

I loved this book! There were plenty of twists and I was hooked all the way through. I loved the way the author weaved Ancient Greek mythology into the lore of the book and there were so many details that made it come to life.

CURRENTLY READING – The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon  

I’m 25% of the way through this so far. It’s a monster of a book but I’m really enjoying it. There are several different plot strands and I’m intrigued to see how it all comes together.

What are you reading at the moment? What are you looking forward to reading next? Chat with me in the comments!

Book Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni (eARC)

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: eARC from Hodder & Stoughton

Pages: 416

Star Rating: 2/5

Back Cover Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan is a survivor. For ten years, she has worked as the healer in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, making herself indispensable. Kept afloat by messages of hope from her family, Kiva has one goal and one goal only: stay alive.

Then one day the infamous Rebel Queen arrives at the prison on death’s door and Kiva receives a new message: Don’t let her die. We are coming.

The queen is sentenced to the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals. Aware the sickly queen has little chance of making it through the Trials alive, Kiva volunteers to take her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

And with an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

Thank you so much to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Prison Healer is the first book by Lynette Noni I’ve read and I was excited to dive into this intriguing sounding novel. The description and concept of a story set entirely in a prison caught my attention, so I was very happy to be approved for an eARC and get the opportunity to read The Prison Healer early. Unfortunately, the opening chapters didn’t capture my attention and I almost DNFed quite early on. I kept on reading and the last quarter or so of the book had me much more riveted, so I was glad I didn’t give up on it. Until that twist on the final page, which left me feeling incredibly exasperated. More on that later.

The beginning of this review will be spoiler-free, with a section at the end containing major spoilers so I can properly explain why this twist ending was so frustrating. I’ll clearly signpost when the spoilers start so you can avoid them if you wish to.

The idea of a book set entirely in a deadly prison is very intriguing. Setting is really important in books located in entirely one location like this, the setting has to be considered as another character. Unfortunately, the setting didn’t have any personality. I wanted to be completely immersed in this dark and dangerous place, but I didn’t feel anything. There was no atmosphere or tension. We’re told people hardly ever leave this prison alive, that Kiva is unique for having managed to survive ten years. Almost everything we know about the prison we’re told, not shown. Because there was no atmosphere, it felt flat. In the latter half we did get to see the darker side to the prison, but for most of the book I didn’t feel afraid for the main character, I didn’t feel the tension that should come from a deadly prison setting.

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WWW Wednesday: 10 March 2021

I’m getting really behind on all my blog posts at the moment! I’ve been busy at work and not had much energy in the evenings. I still have my review of The Prison Healer and an unboxing of the Fairyloot January box to post, I’ve drafted them so hopefully they’ll be up soon!

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

The three W’s are:

What did you recently finish reading?

What are you currently reading?

What are you going to read next?

CURRENTLY READING – Lore by Alexandra Bracken

This week is the Fairyloot readalong for their January book. I’m nearly halfway through and it’s brilliant so far! I love the mash up of Greek mythology and a Hunger Games-eque competition.

NEXT READ – The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon  

I have a few days off next week so it seemed like a good time to have a crack at this mammoth of a book. It’s so thick, it’s a tad intimidating. But it also sounds really good and I love dragons.

What are you reading at the moment? What are you looking forward to reading next? Chat with me in the comments!