Top 10 Tuesday: Halloween Vibes

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. For today’s Halloween freebie, I decided to pick out 10 of my favourite books that give me Halloween vibes!

The Beautiful by Reneé Ahdieh – This book is so luscious and mysterious. There are dark murders and vampires so of course it makes this list.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding – This was one of my favourite books as a teen. I read it over and over. It’s been a while since my last reread though! I found this book spine-tingling and loved it so much.

Poison by Chris Wooding – Another spooky read from Chris Wooding. I don’t remember this one as well as Alaizabel, but I know it was a creepy read!

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee – I’m so glad I picked this one up, despite my trepidation at the spider content, because I loved the story. The trees are also really creepy! I can’t wait for the sequel to come out next year!

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Let’s Talk Bookish: What Makes You DNF a Book?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. For today’s topic, we’re talking about DNFing books. DNF stands for ‘Did Not Finish’ and is when you stop reading a book part way through.

I actually don’t DNF books. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a book I’d started. I must have done years ago, but not for a long while. Once I’ve started a book, I’m in it to the end. Maybe this isn’t the best approach though. If I’m not loving a book, should I put it down so I can spend my time on a book I’ll like more instead? Maybe. But I just can’t seem to bring myself to DNF a book.

Sometimes a book can really pick up in the second half, and I end up feeling glad I didn’t give up on it early on before things got good, even though I didn’t enjoy it to begin with. I didn’t find the opening quarter or so of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo that engaging, but it ended up being one of my favourite series. Recently I read Shielded by KayLynn Flanders. I didn’t enjoy the first half much at all and possibly should have DNFed it. But I liked the second half a lot more, so I am glad I stuck with it, even though I didn’t love it overall.

The one time I can imagine DNFing, is if a book has just really bad writing. If the writing quality was really poor, I wouldn’t be able to get through it. Or if perhaps the book wasn’t what I was expecting or includes triggers I wasn’t aware of before I started reading.

I do sometimes give up on series without finishing them. Sometimes I only read the first book and decide I’m not invested enough to keep reading. Other times I read two or more books in the series but then if I don’t enjoy the sequels I won’t keep going with the series. Especially long series, when there is a bigger time commitment. I have to really love a book to read a long series. Whereas I’m more likely to persevere with a duology or trilogy if I’m interested enough to want to know how the story ends.

Do you DNF books you aren’t enjoying? What makes you decide to DNF? And are you ever likely to pick up a DNF and try it again in future? I’d love to know what you think so chat with me in the comments!

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab (eARC)

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction  

Publishing Info: eARC from Titan Books   

Pages: 560

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

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

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is fantasy author V. E. Schwab’s latest book and is one of the most anticipated releases for 2020. Having not read any of Schwab’s work before, I didn’t go into reading this with any preconception of what to expect from her style. I was excited to read it because it has a very intriguing and mysterious premise, but I tried not to let all the hype around this book give me too high expectations for it. 

What struck me from the beginning was the beautiful writing. I was drawn into Addie’s story right from the first page. Something about the writing just captured me and didn’t let go. The book is written in third person present tense, which I don’t usually like as it can be really awkward to read. However, Schwab writes so beautifully in this book, I sunk into the writing from the first page and didn’t find the third person present tense awkward at all, in fact it read really naturally for this story.

The narrative goes back and forth between the present and the past. In the present, Addie is living in New York and it’s been nearly 300 years since she made her deal. Through the flashback chapters we see what led her to make that decision and how the mysterious, shadowy person she made the deal with tries to persuade her to give in and hand him her soul. My favourite chapters were the ones set in the past. It was really interesting seeing how Addie learned to cope with life with the boundaries of her deal. If everyone forgets you as soon as there’s a door between you, how can you do even simple things like rent a room? If you can’t have a job because everyone forgets you, how do you get money to pay for food? I also loved seeing Addie move through the different periods in history.

I don’t want to say too much more about the plot, as I really enjoyed the experience of reading when I wasn’t sure what to expect. The book’s description doesn’t give much away, and I liked getting to discover the story without too many preconceptions of what it would be about.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue explores themes of time, memory, identity, and what it means to be human, as well as the connections we make with other people. This is a thoughtful and imaginative novel which went right to my heart. It’s a book I will definitely want to read again.

September 2020 Wrap Up

Well I managed not to have any new ailments this month so I suppose that is an improvement on the last couple of months. I spent a few days (safely) at my grandparents in Devon and it was really nice to just get away for a bit. Due to being at risk from COVID I’m spending most of my time in the house so it was good to have a change of scene.

I started off the month with an eARC of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue which was absolutely brilliant. I really loved it and I can’t wait to share my review with you very soon!

I joined in the readalong for Fairyloot’s July book which was Shielded by KayLynn Flanders. Unfortunately, I didn’t love this one that much. It picked up in the second half so I am glad I stuck with it, but it was only a 3 stars overall.

I finished Jane Austen’s Emma which I’ve been reading for the last couple of months. I’ve read two other Austens – Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility – and it was the recent adaptation of Emma which prompted me to choose it as my next Austen. I adored the film and I also loved the book.

As Daughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favourite books, I had high expectations for Strange the Dreamer, which is the opener of Laini Taylor’s other series. It did not disappoint! Strange the Dreamer is so imaginative and lyrical and heartbreaking and I loved it.  

I ended the month with another slightly disappointing one. I was lucky enough to win an ARC of Kingdom of the Wicked. I haven’t read any of Kerri Maniscalco’s other books but I was really excited for this one. As much as I wanted to love it, there were quite a few issues for me and I ended up writing a really long review of it!

This month I bought a few special edition books and also had some pre-orders arrive. Unsurprisingly I pre-ordered Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin. I also pre-ordered Legendborn by Tracey Deonn because it sounds amazing! Plus I ordered The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare. From Fairyloot’s August box I had Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar and Illumicrate’s August book was The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. Owlcrate had a restock of some past books in their shop so I got copies of Goddess in the Machine by Lora Beth Johnson and The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd Jones.

I’m now halfway through my King Arthur retelling which is really exciting! I took a break from writing for a week when I went on holiday but I’m looking forward to getting back into it at full throttle next month!

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

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my Autumn 2020 TBR

I don’t usually set a TBR as I’m quite a mood reader, but there are some books I would really like to get to during the last months of 2020! I do love this time of year. Summer is too hot and winter is too cold, but there’s something about autumn, the colours of the leaves on the trees and warm drinks.

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 – I loved Serpent & Dove so I can’t wait for the sequel. I hope it’s as good as the first, but I have seen mixed reviews for it.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong – This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai. I don’t think I’ve read a Shakespeare retelling before so I’m looking forward to seeing how Chloe Gong retells Romeo and Juliet. I have an eARC of this one so I’ll be reading it soon.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – This book has been on my Kindle for so long I have resolved to read it by the end of the year. It sounds so good!

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Fairyloot August 2020 Unboxing

I was super excited for this month’s Fairyloot box as I’d guessed what the book was and it’s one of my most anticipated releases of the year!

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 August is ‘Let The Games Begin’, though I’m not really sure how the items connect to this theme. Perhaps there are more subtle connections that someone who has read the books the items are inspired by would understand? Also, this unboxing photo is missing an item as I took out the bath bomb straight away because the smell was so strong!

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August 2020 Wrap Up

So August wasn’t a great month. I had an infection in my eye which got really bad. All one side of my face was swollen and I was in a lot of pain. I also couldn’t see anything. So I had a week off work, didn’t read for a week, didn’t do much of anything actually. Because the medication I take effects the immune system, when I get ill, I get really ill, and it also takes a while for me to recover. So even though my eye was almost better after a week or so thanks to antibiotics, I’m still recovering energy-wise.

I’m really hoping September is going to be a better month because I’ve not been doing great health-wise lately.

Because I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t read. So I ended up signing up for the Audible free trial and trying out audiobooks. I haven’t listened to an audiobook in years. I chose The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, both of which I’ve read before. The Northanger Abbey audiobook had a full cast and I quite enjoyed it as it’s one of my favourite Austen novels. I have to say that I much prefer reading a physical book, though I can see audiobooks having benefits.

When I was able to see again, I read Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee which was amazing. It’s a plot-driven YA fantasy with an intriguing magic system. It ended on a cliff-hanger so I’m really excited for the sequel!

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer was a really anticipated read for me as I loved A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but unfortunately I didn’t like it as much as the first book which was a little disappointing.

Finally, I read Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo which just blew me away. It was absolutely brilliant and I loved it even more than Six of Crows.      

This month I shared my book haul as a separate post because I ended up with so many thanks to winning a massive AtHomeYALC giveaway! You can see what books I got here.

Since I couldn’t see for part of the month and have been feeling pretty rubbish, I’m fairly happy with how much I’ve managed to write. I’ve written about 16,000 words for my King Arthur retelling and I’m nearly halfway through the book which is pretty exciting. My goal, so long as I don’t get ill again, is to finish it by the end of October. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to achieve that, but I’d certainly hope to have finished it by the end of November.

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

August 2020 Book Haul

I usually include my book haul in my monthly wrap up as I don’t usually buy many books, but I ended up with a massive haul this month thanks to a YALC giveaway! I’m really excited to read all these books! So let’s see what I got…

As part of AtHomeYALC, Hodderscape ran a competition on Instagram. You had to find 10 Pickwicks hidden in stories. I was lucky enough to be randomly selected to win the prize of 10 books! I really could not believe it when I saw the message. I’ve never won anything before! This is an amazing bundle of books. It was also lucky that I didn’t already own any of these and I’ve only read one as I had an eARC of Incendiary. I’m most excited for Girl, Serpent, Thorn as I’ve seen lots of great reviews for it and it sounds really interesting!

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan                

Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Light Years by Kass Morgan

10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

The Extraordinaries by T. J. Klune

Amazingly, I also won two giveaways on Twitter as part of AtHomeYALC! I won an ARC of Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar from a Harper360 giveaway, which is one of my most anticipated releases of the year! I also won an ARC of Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco from Hodderscape, but that one hasn’t arrived yet as the ARCs were due to be printed this month.

I had a Waterstones gift card for my birthday so I also ordered a few books this month. I miss going in physical book shops! Although shielding is paused at the moment, I’m still being super careful and not going in shops.

Plus, I received Shielded by KayLynn Flanders in Fairyloot’s July box. I’ll hopefully be posting an unboxing of that this weekend.

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Midnight’s Twins by Holly Race

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim

Shielded by KayLynn Flanders

I think I’m still stunned from winning that competition. It was amazing to open the box. It arrived while I was really ill so it was great timing as it cheered me up!

Book Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy    

Publishing Info: January 2020 by Bloomsbury YA

Pages: 445

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Harper has freed Pronce Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. Bit all is not well in Emberfall: rumours are rife thatthete is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that ‘Princess’ Harper of Disi is nothing but fraud.

Grey has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey’s allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted …

A Heart So Fierce and Broken is the anticipated sequel to Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely, which was one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I had high expectations for this book and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it quite as much as A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

While the first book is told in the alternating perspectives of Harper and Rhen, the sequel focuses on the POVs of Grey and Lia Mara. Grey is such a great character so I was excited to get to see his perspective, but I didn’t feel like he developed enough in this book considering a lot of the focus was on him. Lia Mara is a new character, daughter of Karis Luran, the queen of Syhl Shallow. I did like her, but didn’t connect with her as much as I did with Harper.  

I liked getting to know some characters from the first book more, such as Jake, as well as meeting new characters like Tycho and Nolla Verin. Harper was my favourite character from the first book, so I did miss her in this one. She only has, I think, one POV chapter and pops up a couple of times but that’s all. Although the first book was told from Harper and Rhen’s perspective, I still felt I got to know Grey through their POVs. Whereas in this book, I felt very disconnected from Harper and Rhen. Also, Rhen seemed really different. I know a lot happened in book one, and I always liked that he was a bit of a grey character, but he was portrayed essentially as a villain in this one and that shift was kind of strange. I think the book would have benefited from including more chapters from Harper and Rhen’s perspectives.

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Book Review: Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy    

Publishing Info: June 2020 by Page Street Kids (Fairyloot edition)

Pages: 385

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training, she plans on challenging her rival for the position of the queen’s next royal spy, but she’s forced to abandon her plan when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

With her mysterious ability uncovered, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King—the only person powerful enough to control the haunted Dead Wood that separates the kingdoms and, ultimately, enforces peace. But the Spider King’s hold of the Dead Wood is weakening, and he needs Sirscha to use her newly awakened powers to obliterate the bloodthirsty forest. As war looms on the horizon, it’s up to Sirscha to learn what she can do and who she can trust before time runs out.

Forest of Souls is a fast-paced fantasy novel with an Asian-inspired setting and I absolutely loved it. I’ve read a lot of character-driven YA fantasy recently so I enjoyed reading something that was more plot-driven and a bit faster paced. The Dead Wood is so spooky! Some of the scenes were really atmospheric and creepy! The way the trees partly come to life and grab at the characters as they’re trying to get through the forest was really gripping. The world is painted really vividly and I loved learning about the various peoples, their cultures, history and magic, as I read.

There was no romance in this book and I have to say I was really happy about that. Every YA book seems to be either romance-heavy or at least have a main romantic subplot. So it was refreshing to read a fantasy novel that didn’t focus on romance or try and shoehorn a romance in.

Theyen was hands down the best character. He’s so full of sass and has some amazing lines. He really brought the scenes he was in to life. However, most of the supporting characters just didn’t seem very complex. By the end of the book we know hardly anything about them as the focus is so much on Sirscha. While I appreciated the book focused on her personal journey, I would have liked to have known the other characters more. Even though this book is clearly plot-driven, it would have benefited from the supporting characters having more depth. Having said that, I did love all the characters and can’t wait to see them again in the sequel.

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