May 2021 Wrap Up

I’m on a bit of a semi-hiatus from blogging at the moment because life has been a bit hectic! Work is very busy and we’re currently in the process of selling our house and trying to find a new home, so a lot of my time is being taken up with house hunting!

The Unbroken by C. L. Clark ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I found the pacing of this book a little bit slow but I loved the complex world building and characters!

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer ⭐⭐⭐.5 – I can’t believe this series is over! I enjoyed the final instalment, but the first book in the series is still my favourite.

Bone Crier’s Dawn by Kathryn Purdie ⭐⭐⭐.5 – There is a lot about this duology that I loved, like the magic system, but I just didn’t feel the romance and some of the scenes were a bit repetitive. The ending was pretty epic though! 

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I loved this book so much! The magic, world building and characters are all fantastic. There’s also chronic pain rep which I was so happy to see. Also, I never imagined a dead goat could become a favourite character, but there you go. More people need to read this book! 

I only bought one book this month – Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip. She’s one of my favourite authors and I didn’t know she’d written an Arthurian inspired book, so I just had to get my hands on it when I found out!

I finished the second draft of my WIP at the start of May! It came in at a whopping 100,000 words so it got a lot longer with that redraft. I’m currently reading through it at the moment, but it’s taking a while because I’ve been so busy.

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

Book Review: A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Book cover for A Vow So Bold and Deadly

A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy    

Publishing Info: January 2021 by Bloomsbury YA

Pages: 424

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Grey has been revealed as the rightful prince of Emberfall. But the kingdom is crumbling fast, torn between his claim and that of the reigning Prince Rhen and Princess Harper. Newly crowned as Queen of the enemy kingdom Syhl Shallow, Lia Mara struggles to rule with a gentler hand than her mother. But as Grey moves closer to claiming the crown of Emberfall, both Harper and Lia Mara are forced to question where they stand – and how far they can follow the dictates of their hearts.

Brigid Kemmerer’s heart-pounding saga comes to a thrilling climax, as two kingdoms come closer and closer to conflict – and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all.

A Vow So Bold and Deadly is the final book in Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers trilogy. Having loved the first book, and felt a little disappointed by the second, I had mixed feelings going into the final instalment. However, because I loved A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I was still excited to dive in and see how the trilogy would end.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken just didn’t hit the same note for me as A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and I think some of that is because Harper has such a tiny part in the second book. In the final book, however, we get POV chapters from all four main characters – Harper, Rhen, Grey and Lia Mara – and I think this contributed to me enjoying this book a lot more, as Harper was my favourite character in the first book and part of what made me fall in love with it.

With four POV characters to follow, there was a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time, but I felt this was handled well and I did like getting POVs for all the main characters.

This book was a quick read for me, but I have felt throughout the series that the plot is quite simple. There aren’t many subplots or twists and turns, in the sense that it’s quite a straightforward plot. Which isn’t necessarily bad, I just felt that, after I finished this book, in some ways not much had happened, and some things were a bit predictable.

Although I did enjoy this book more than A Heart So Fierce and Broken, I just didn’t love it as much as A Curse So Dark and Lonely, which is definitely my favourite book in the series. Some things still seemed unresolved in this book and I wonder whether it’s been left open for a sequel or spin-off. Some elements and characters’ stories just didn’t feel finished. I would still recommend this series though and I’m excited to read Brigid Kemmerer’s next fantasy release.  

WWW Wednesday: 12 May 2021

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 Unbroken by C. L. Clark

This book was just so good! I found it a bit slow but the world building is excellent and the story and characters so complex.

Book cover for A Vow So Bold and Deadly

RECENTLY FINISHED – A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer  

Having not enjoyed the second book in this series as much as the first, I was glad to find I reconnected with this series again with the final instalment. I was so happy to see my fave character – Harper – back as she was hardly in the second book. Review coming soon!

CURRENTLY READING – Bone Crier’s Dawn by Kathryn Purdie   

I just started this one! I have a few duologies I’ve started and need to finish so I’m trying to tick some of those off. I enjoyed but didn’t love the first book, but I liked it enough to want to know what happens next. The magic system in this series is really interesting as well!

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

The Medieval Queens Book Tag

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a tag but this one has such an interesting theme, I just had to do this one. Thank you to A Couple of B’s for tagging me, and to Jess from Jessticulates for coming up with the tag!

EMPRESS MATILDA (1102-1167)

After her father, Henry I, died naming her his heir, Matilda’s cousin, Stephen, subsequently took the throne for himself. Matilda never stopped fighting for what was rightfully hers. Though she would never be named Queen of England in her own right, she was able to convince Stephen to name her son, the future Henry II, his successor over his own children.

Choose a book with a protagonist who stands their ground.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – Harper is one of my favourite characters and I love how fierce and fearless she is, and how she always stands her ground.

ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE (1122-1204)

Before she married Henry II and became Queen of England in 1152, Eleanor was Queen of France as the wife of Louis VII. She sought an annulment from her marriage to Louis, and he eventually agreed because 15 years of marriage had produced no sons, only for Eleanor to go on to have eight children with Henry—five of whom were sons. Ouch!

Choose a book or series in which the heroine has more than one romantic relationship.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – The heroine actually has a few relationships throughout this series! It’s not something I’ve seen that much, as most often books seem to follow the protagonist on one romantic journey.

ELEANOR OF CASTILE (1241-1290)

A keen patron of literature and a successful businesswoman in her own right, Eleanor was Edward I’s first wife. He was so heartbroken when she died that he erected the Eleanor Crosses, twelve stone crosses marking the places where her body rested overnight on its journey from Lincolnshire, where she died, to her burial place in London. Three of the crosses still survive today.

Choose a bittersweet book.

The Midnight Star by Marie Lu – No spoilers but this series had such a good, albeit bittersweet, ending! I was tearing up at the end.

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April 2021 Wrap Up

I’ve not been blogging as much this month because life decided to get in the way of everything. I’ve been busy at work and we’re going to be trying to sell our house soon so we’ve been doing lots of cleaning and tidying, and it’s all just left me feeling a bit exhausted. So things might still be a bit quiet around here for a little while but I’ll still be posting and reading all your awesome posts when I can.

Links take you to my reviews!

Malice by Heather Walter ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I was really excited to get an eARC for this book. It’s a Sleeping Beauty retelling from the perspective of the villain and I absolutely loved the world building and Alyce’s character journey.

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I’ve read so much fantasy this year, that I really enjoyed reading a scifi book for a change. This YA space opera is so much fun, and I can’t wait for the sequel to come out!

Light by Michael Grant ⭐⭐⭐.5 – The final book in the Gone series. I have finally managed to make it to the end. It’s taken me eight years to read all six books. I have quite mixed feelings about this series, but I am glad I’ve finished it.

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I don’t generally enjoy short stories that much, but I like how these ones were connected and had a thread running through them, following Simon’s journey as he progressed through his training.

For once, I actually managed to keep up a book buying ban? I didn’t buy any new books this month. I did place a couple of pre-orders for special editions which won’t arrive until August/September, but other than that, I didn’t buy any books.

I successfully hit my 20,000 word goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, which I am really chuffed with! I am so nearly finished my second draft, so that’s quite exciting. I think I will definitely finish it in May. And then I just have to read through it again, since I edited a lot of the chapters out of order, I will need to read it through and make sure I’m happy with the order of everything and check for consistency errors.

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

Book Review: Light by Michael Grant

Light by Michael Grant

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Publishing Info: May 2015 by Egmont Books (first published 2012)

Pages: 464

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

All eyes are on Perdido Beach. The barrier wall is now as clear as glass and life in the FAYZ is visible for the entire outside world to see. Life inside the dome remains a constant battle and the Darkness, away from watchful eyes, grows and grows …The society that Sam and Astrid have struggled so hard to build is about to be shattered for good. It’s the end of the FAYZ. Who will survive to see the light of day? A tour-de-force from global sensation, Michael Grant, Light is the final heartstopping installment in this bestselling series.

Light is the final book in the Gone series and, although I enjoyed it in some ways, I’m also glad I’ve now finished it. Spanning six books, this series just felt too long for me. The plot was stretched out too much, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if there had been less books. The fifth book was a bit of a miss for me, but I’d come so far, and only had the last book left, so felt I needed to finish the series and see how it all ended.

Overall, I think this was a good ending to the series. It was satisfying, but not altogether surprising or shocking, in the sense that it played out as you’d probably expect. But it was fast paced and there was plenty of action. There are, unsurprisingly, quite a few character deaths. The death toll in this series is huge. I continued to enjoy the characters and how morally grey most of them are. They’ve been through a lot, and their experiences shape and change them over the course of the series.

This book also explores the issues around what will happen when the kids eventually get out of the FAYZ and into the real world, considering how many crimes were committed inside the dome. Especially since the dome is clear in this book and, for the first time, the world can see in and witness the events unfolding.

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WWW Wednesday: 21 April 2021

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 – Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

This book was so much fun! I really enjoyed this YA space opera, which sees the main character on a planet-hopping adventure. It’s fast-paced with lots of humour. Highly recommended!

CURRENTLY READING – Light by Michael Grant

I am finally reading the last book in this series and although I did like these books, I’m kind of glad to be finishing them. There is so much grim, gory, horrific content in the Gone series, and I’ve already had to skim read a few scenes in this final book because it’s just too gruesome for me! But I really want to know how the story ends, so here I am, persevering.

READING NEXT – The Unbroken by C. L. Clark  

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

Book Review: Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction  

Publishing Info: September 2020 by Harper Teen   

Pages: 375

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

A deadly competition for the throne will determine more than just the fate of the empire in this duology opener.

Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?

But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.

Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.

This book reminded me why I’m such a sucker for space opera, and why I want to see more of it in YA. Crownchasers is a planet-hopping adventure and I had so much fun reading it. At just 375 pages, it was a pretty quick read, and I was on my edge of my seat for every single one of those pages.

The plot revolves around the crownchase, a competition between the prime families of the empire to determine who will be the next emperor. This involves a lot of space travel, discovering new planets, and working out mysterious clues. There is also a media element as well, as the whole galaxy seems to be watching the crownchase to see who will be victorious, which reminded me of The Hunger Games.

Alyssa Farshot is a reluctant participant in the crownchase. She loves exploring, and has never had any desire to sit on the empire’s throne. Alyssa brings a whole lot of snarky humour to this book and I loved how daring and reckless she is. Her voice is one of the best parts of this book, I felt like I was on this wild ride right along with her, and it was great to see how her character developed over the course of the story. As well as the pressures of the crownchase, she also has to deal with her grief over the loss of her uncle, and I thought Coffindaffer did an excellent job of weaving Alyssa’s character growth into such a fast-paced and action-packed book.

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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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