Fairyloot June 2020 Unboxing

June is my birthday month so I was excited to get this box since it was due to come around my birthday. Unfortunately, it was delayed a couple of weeks due to the coronavirus so it didn’t come until about mid-July.

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 this box was ‘A Different Kind of Magic’ and they revealed it would be a two-book box which is always awesome!

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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!

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!

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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Let’s Talk Bookish: What Makes a Book YA?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Today’s discussion topic is ‘What makes a book YA?’ which I think is quite an interesting topic at the moment. YA is very popular and has evolved a lot over the last 20 years. The age range for YA is generally described as 12-18. In the UK you tend to see a bit more of a divide in bookshops, where there is a ‘teen’ section which would be books aimed at 12-14 year-olds and a ‘YA’ section which is more 14+, with YA dealing with more mature subject matter than teen fiction.

So what makes a book YA? Well, some of the things that seem to be common across most YA is that they explore the lives of young characters finding their place in the world or discovering something about themselves. While plot is important, characters are vital to YA. There is usually romance (though I would happily see more YA focusing on friendship than romance) and the pacing is often faster than Adult titles.  

Then there is crossover. Crossover can go two ways. It can be a YA novel that has appeal for adults so is published as YA but also marketed to adults. Or an Adult book that has appeal to a YA audience so is published as Adult but also marketed to YA readers. I don’t think there’s any problem with this when utilised appropriately. It’s a great way for books to reach more hands of people who will enjoy them. But I think it can become confusing for people in relation to the what’s YA and what’s Adult debate.

There are definitely issues with how women authors are categorised, particularly in the fantasy genre. I see time and time again novels by women that are labelled as Adult fantasy still ending up in the YA section of the book shop or with a YA label on Goodreads. For example, I always see some V. E. Schwab books in the YA section of the bookshop even though they are Adult. From a reader perspective this makes it difficult to know what you’re reading. I’d like to know when I read a book whether it’s YA or Adult (or crossover) so I can have appropriate expectations of what to expect when I read it.

One issue with this is that books aimed at adults, potentially with adult content not suitable for younger readers, ends up in the YA section and being unknowingly picked up by readers at the younger end of that age category.

A series that often gets discussed with regards to this issue is the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. The series has been categorised as YA but has a warning about content not being suitable for younger readers on the back cover. If you haven’t read it, there are some seriously steamy sex scenes that are much more graphic than anything else I’ve read in YA. But at the same time, I think this series does appeal to a YA audience. So I can see why it was put in the YA category, since Maas’s first series, Throne of Glass, was YA as well. But with this amount of sexual content, especially later in the series, it probably should have been shelved as Adult. Fortunately, I picked this series up as an adult, but if I’d read it as a younger teen…hmm…well…it probably wouldn’t have been appropriate and I would have been surprised to find that content in a book I’d picked up in the YA section.

There seems to be an issue with fantasy being edged towards the YA category rather than Adult because it’s been written by a woman, when it would fit better in the Adult category. Adult science-fiction and fantasy is full of amazing works by women, but it still seems to be a genre dominated by men.

Attitudes towards female sci-fi and fantasy authors needs to change. It’s completely ridiculous that fantasy by women so often gets pushed towards YA purely because of the author’s gender.

What do you think makes a book YA? Share your thoughts with me in the comments!

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

There are so many books coming out this year that sound amazing! Here are ten of my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2020.  

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.


Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

The hotly anticipated sequel to the New York Times and IndieBound bestseller Serpent & Dove—packed with even steamier romance and darker magic—is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

I absolutely loved Serpent & Dove so I am so excited for the sequel which is coming out in September!


Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

A deadly competition for the throne will determine more than just the fate of the empire in this riveting duology opener, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, Aurora Rising, and Three Dark Crowns.

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.

Sci-fi set in space in one of my favourite kinds of books and the synopsis for this one sounds awesome.


Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.

I can’t lie, it was the stunning cover that drew me to this book initially. I haven’t read much contemporary fantasy so I was excited when I read the description for this one!

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