April 2020 Wrap Up

April has been a strange month. Adapting the way we live has been a challenge. It’s been strange getting used to working at home all the time and not being able to meet and see people. NHS and key works are all doing such an amazing job right now keeping us alive and keeping the country moving. These are hard times but we will reach the other side eventually.

Since I’ve not been able to go anywhere, I have found more time for doing things I enjoy like reading and writing, which is one plus of this situation. Always look for the positives!

Reading

I finally started Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices series. Lady Midnight was such a good book. I just loved getting to know this new cast of characters. I was one of the lucky people to get an eARC of The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant which was one of my anticipated reads for this year. Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It was a good read but I didn’t love it. Since I loved Illuminae, I decided to pick up Aurora Rising, the first book in Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s new series. I adored this book so much. It was fast paced and I was hooked all the way through. Finally, I just finished reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber and will be posting my review for that soon. Sadly, this is another book I found a tad disappointing. I think perhaps this book just wasn’t for me.

Book Haul

I’m so missing being able to go into bookshops and browse! I pre-ordered The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman. The Devouring Gray was one of my favourite books from last year, so I had to get my hands on the sequel. More people need to read this book, so if you haven’t picked up The Devouring Gray yet, I’d recommend it! I also received my Fairyloot and Illumicrate copies of Chain of Gold. I won’t post photos of their exclusive editions here as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone who hasn’t had their box yet!

Writing

It’s been full steam ahead for my Arthurian legend retelling idea. I’ve been doing lots of research around the legends and also getting to know my characters through making character charts. I’m having lots of fun planning this one!

What have you been getting up to? Are there any books you read this month that you absolutely loved? I hope you’re all managing to stay safe and well!

Top 5 Tuesday: Series I Want To Start

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bionic Book Worm! There are a lot of series hanging around on my TBR list that I want to start reading. But I also have a lot that I’m part way through and need to finish, so I’m trying to balance my time between continuing series and starting new ones!

Nikolai duology by Leigh Bardugo – I love the Grishaverse so of course this book made the list. But I still need to read Crooked Kingdom first before I can read King of Scars. I’m intrigued to see where Nikolai’s story goes after the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy.

Legend series by Marie Lu – The first book I read by Marie Lu was The Young Elites and I loved her writing style so I’m keen to read more of her work. I still need to read the last book in the Young Elites trilogy but I want to start reading Legend too.

The Last Hours series by Cassandra Clare – Chain of Gold is the first in a new series in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhutners world. I’m still obsessed with her books so I’m excited to start her next series.

Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness – The premise of these books is really intriguing. I bought a set of the series a few years ago but haven’t read them yet.

Camelot Rising series by Kiersten White – I haven’t read any of Kiersten White’s books before but I just knew I had to read this King Arthur retelling. I’ve always loved anything inspired by Arthurian legends since I was a child and I still do.

What series are you excited to start? Let me know in the comments!

Fairyloot Chain of Gold Unboxing

My Fairyloot Chain of Gold Collector’s Edition box finally arrived! It was delayed by more than a month due to the coronavirus crises, which was obviously completely out of Fairyloot’s hands. I felt they did a good job of keeping us informed about the delays as they got new information. Since I ordered it in January it meant there was quite a long wait to finally get my hands on my first Collector’s Edition box and I was super excited to open it and see what was inside.

Included in the box were a special edition of Chain of Gold and four items, one of which was already revealed by Fairyloot to be a replica of the Mortal Cup. So let’s see what was inside…

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Book Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: May 2019 by Rock the Boat

Pages: 470

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

It’s 2380 and the graduating students of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Tyler Jones has been a star pupil who hopes to recruit the squad of his dreams but ends up with a mixed and volatile crew.

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem – that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

Vividly told in the seven voices of the team members, this is fast-paced, action-packed, wickedly humorous and fabulously entertaining.

Having absolutely loved Illuminae, it was a bit of a no-brainer for me to pick up the first in Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s new YA sci-fi series. Although it didn’t blow my socks off in quite the same way Illuminae did, Aurora Rising is a superb novel and a new favourite. I felt completely immersed in the futuristic world.  

Aurora Rising kicks off all guns blazing and hardly slows throughout the novel. I was gripped all the way through and didn’t want to put it down. The characters that make up Squad 312 and the dynamics between them are great. The group are thrown together at the beginning of the novel and forced to work together. I loved seeing their relationships develop slowly over the course of the story. The banter between them is hilarious. I found myself smiling through most of it which made it such a fun read. But then I also found myself with tears in my eyes at the end!

All the characters have interesting stories and the situations they’re thrown into are challenging for each of them in different ways. I loved how sassy and confident Scarlett is, yet also sensitive. Finian always has a comeback or witty quip, but there seems to be more to him under the surface. He’s also disabled and wears an exosuit, so I really appreciated the disability rep there as it was really well done. Cat is a bit hot-headed but also fiercely loyal to her best friend and leader, Tyler. Zila a quiet genius but there’s a lot we don’t know about her. Kal is a warrior fighting with his own nature. Auri is a girl out of time, unfamiliar with this big, new world and finds herself joining the squad. Tyler is their leader and a stickler for the rules, so when their mission goes off-course he has a good dose of conflict.

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Top 5 Tuesday: Popular Books I Haven’t Read Yet

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is all about popular books I haven’t read yet. There are a lot! Here are five that stand out as ones that I really want to read!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I haven’t read this book yet because I don’t read much contemporary. I’m much more of a sci-fi and fantasy kind of person. But I do every now and then like getting away from fantasy and reading a bit of contemporary. So I will read this book. I have it on my shelf. I’m just waiting for the contemporary mood to strike me.

Red Queen Victoria Aveyard – I think this book has been haunting my Kindle. It’s been on there for years. I wanted to read this book so much when it first came out, but it’s one of those that I just still haven’t got round to reading.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – This series is really popular! I have it on my Kindle and as it happens I’m planning to read it next. There have just been so many amazing YA fantasy releases over the last few years that I feel like I’m still playing catch up with them.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – This is another book that has unfortunately been on my Kindle quite a while. A sci-fi fairy tale retelling sounds right up my street. I know there’s a lot of love for this series. I will read this book soon…

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – The blurb says this series is inspired by Ancient Rome which sounds really interesting and it’s had such good reviews. I definitely want to read this book.  

Are there any popular books you haven’t read yet but plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish: The Hype Train

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books. This week’s topic is ‘The Hype Train’!

Every year there are some books that end up getting so hyped, it’s really hard not to get sucked in. I try not to be swayed too much by what’s getting hyped, and focus on what I think I’ll enjoy reading. But with social media and blogging, it’s hard to avoid noticing what’s getting a lot of attention.

I don’t buy books because there’s a lot of hype around them (most of the time…). If there’s a book that sounds like its right up my street and it’s been hyped a lot, I am quite likely to pick it up. The problem with these books is that sometimes the books live up to the hype and sometimes they don’t. If everyone is gushing about a book, sometimes I end up liking it less than I might have done if they hadn’t been because I had such high expectations. It might have been really good book, but I was expecting the most amazing book ever written because it had been hyped so much. It’s really hard for books to live up to their hype. 

The other issue is that everyone has different tastes. Not everyone is going to love the same book. So while loads of people might love it, not everyone will. But I do feel there’s a bit of pressure to like a book that’s been hyped, because everyone else seems to love it, you feel like you must be missing something if you don’t.

A hyped book I read recently was A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. The fact it was hyped actually put me off this book for a long time because I really wasn’t sure if it would be for me. But I’m really glad I did read it because I ended up loving it. Another one getting a lot of attention is Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin which I also really liked.

When picking up a hyped book, I try really hard not to think of it as a hyped book. I try to push aside all of that and just go into it like any non-hyped book. Because it’s really easy to be disappointed by books that have been given so much praise.

Do you get sucked along with the hype train? What hyped books did you like or dislike? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Book Review: The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (eARC)

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: eARC from Harper Voyager

Pages: 464

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

Liberty

1828 and the citizens of Paris still mourn in the wake of their failed revolution. Among them, in the dark alleys and crumbling cathedrals of the city, the most wretched have gathered into guilds of thieves, assassins – and worse. Together they are known as The Court of Miracles.

Family

Eponine has lost more than most. When her father, Thénardier, sells her sister to the Guild of Flesh she makes a promise to do anything she can to get her sister back, even if that means joining the Court of Miracles, the very people keeping her sister a slave.

Treachery

Eponine becomes perhaps the greatest thief the Court has ever known, finding a place among them and gaining another sister, Cosette. But she has never forgotten the promise she made, and if she’s to have any hope of saving one sister, she will have to betray the other.

This beautiful reimagining of Les Misérables tells the stories of your favourite characters and what might have happened if the French Revolution had not come to pass.

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

This book was one of my most anticipated releases of the year so I was super excited to get my hands on an advanced copy. It’s been billed as a retelling of Les Misérables and The Jungle Book meets Six of Crows, which are certainly very attention-grabbing comparisons. This is a dark reimagining of 1800s France and that darkness and grittiness comes through really well. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t as good as I’d been hoping. I enjoyed reading it. I was engaged and absorbed throughout thanks to the great writing, but I didn’t connect with it.

This book didn’t meet my expectations for a retelling. In some ways the Jungle Book retelling element works better than the Les Mis element does. The villain of the book is known as the Tiger and (thanks to the actions of our protagonist) is after Ettie, which seems to be representing the tiger from The Jungle Book, Shere Khan, being after Mowgli. It includes most of the characters from Les Misérables and there is the element of the revolution and the barricades, but it doesn’t retell the book in any meaningful way. To be honest, I felt that this book might actually have been stronger if it had not been written as a retelling of Les Misérables. It just didn’t really feel like a retelling. For many of the characters, there’s too much reliance on readers’ knowledge of the original characters, rather than doing something different with them or developing them as individuals separate from the original work.

The book is set into separate sections with some quite big time jumps in between that make for a disjointed reading experience. The one that caused the most problems for me comes early on in the book. We rejoin Nina about to enact her plan to get her older sister, Azelma, back from the Tiger, but at the cost of her younger adoptive sister Ettie. After setting this in motion, Nina very quickly changes her mind and ends up needing to protect Ettie (who she put in danger in the first place) and then the rest of the book revolves around keeping Ettie safe from the Tiger. But we don’t know anything about Ettie or her relationship with Nina due to the time jump, so this shift comes a bit out of the blue. We don’t have any understanding of their relationship or why Nina would move heaven and earth to protect a character we only just met.

At the start, Nina is driven by her goal of helping Azelma. But then when her goal shifts to protecting Ettie it’s like she’s completely forgotten about setting Azelma free. Because of the time skip, this sudden shift in the protagonist’s goal is jarring. We’ve only just met Ettie and there isn’t anything at first to show that Nina cares about Ettie as a sister. Their relationship develops well and I enjoyed seeing the two characters interact later on. But at first, there’s nothing to show why Nina would suddenly change her mind and give up on her plan to save Azelma and instead focus on protecting Ettie, a character we know nothing about and don’t yet care for. One moment, Nina is willing to sacrifice Ettie to save Azelma, which she has been carefully planning, and the moment she puts that plan in motion she makes this sudden u-turn.

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