Top Ten Tuesday #147

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Hi all! I hope you’ve all had good weeks so far, I’m on my work placement week at The Evening Telegraph in Dundee, it’s been good so far, different to what I expected and kind of exhausting given I’ve been getting up at 7am and not getting home till 7pm but it’s good experience and I hope the rest of the week goes smoothly.

Anyway, as it’s Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl, and this week we’re talking about Books We’ve Lost Interest In Reading. As much as we’d love to say we’ll read everything on our TBRs, the truth is that we have more books on them than we’d ever be capable of reading in one lifetime and that means we do occasionally need to cull them every now and again. I actually donated some books I wasn’t interested in reading anymore just last week, so this topic could not have come at our more perfect time. So here we go, books I’m no longer interested in reading:

  1. What Light-Jay Asher

After the allegations of sexual harassment that have recently come against Jay Asher, I can’t in good conscience read this book now. When it comes to sexual harassment I will always support the victims and Asher’s response to the allegations has been less than pleasing, so I will not be reading this book or watching the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why.

2. The Fever Code-James Dashner

Again, after the allegations that have come to light against James Dashner, I can’t support his books anymore. This pains me because I got a signed edition of this book and I really wanted to know how the maze came to be, but the pain that Dashner’s victims went through is a lot worse than my need for closure, so I won’t be reading this book.

3. Matched-Ally Condie

I got this one for free at the book swap the first year of YALC, and I’ll be honest I wasn’t all that interested in it in the first place and after almost three years of it just sitting on my shelf, I figured I either needed to read it or lose it. So I chose to lose it.

4. Before I Fall-Lauren Oliver

I started trying to read this back when I was doing my A Levels-dear gosh I don’t like to think how long ago that was now, and I only got 50 pages through before I got bored. Having seen the movie now, I think I can safely say I don’t think this story is for me and I added it to my pile of charity shop donations.

5. Die For Me-Amy Plum

Another one of my free YALC acquistions from 2015. I did actually think this one sounded interesting at the time, but it’s kind of fallen off my radar now and I’m not so sure I’m really interested in reading it anymore. I haven’t got rid of it yet though, so I could still change my mind.

6. A Long, Long Sleep-Anna Sheehan

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sold on this one much in the beginning anyway, I mean Sleeping Beauty in space sounds kind of cool, but it always seemed a little too romance focused for me. I really only got it to make up a deal at YALC, so I don’t feel too bad about donating it.

7. Burning-Danielle Rollins

I got this one from YALC in 2016, and I actually was really interested in reading it, but then I saw it had lots of low reviews, so my enthusiasm waned and waned until I finally decided to get rid of it last week.

8. Three Days To Dead-Kelly Meding

Another of my 2015 ill advised free YALC acquistions. I’m not really a huge paranormal YA fan anyway, and the cover is a girl in a skimpy outfit, nothing about that screams me. Lesson learned, never pick up books just because they’re free, unless they’re proofs you’re interested in!

9. Unbreakable-Kami Garcia

The last of the free acquistions-I did actually keep one, so they’re not all gone! This one actually did sound quite cool, Supernatural meets ghosts, but I just totally forgot about it for almost three years, so I figured that was a sign!

10. Royal Wedding-Meg Cabot

Whilst a part of me does want to see where Mia ended up after the end of the last book, I’m not the same reader I was when I read the original Princess Diaries series, and I don’t think I would enjoy it as much now as I did back then.

Over to you! What books have you lost interest in? Do we share any? Why do you lose interest in particular books? Let me know in the comments!

I will have another Top Ten Tuesday for you guys next week, Books I Could Reread Forever. In the meantime though, I just finished Wintersong, so I will have my review of that up for you as soon as I have the time to write it.

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Jo Talks Books: Blogaversary Q&A

Hi all! So for those of you who may not know, or didn’t read my Top Ten Tuesday post this week, Tuesday was my fourth blogaversary! Now I don’t usually do anything to celebrate, but this year I felt like doing something a little different, after all four years is quite a long time, I mean when I first started this blog I was doing my A Levels, and now I’m nearly at the end of my third year of University, my life has changed so much in the last four years and so has this blog and I thought it would be a pretty cool time to celebrate that. Now I asked for you guys to submit questions via a Google Form this week, didn’t get too many responses, but that’s okay, I’ll try and think of some questions of my own that might interest you! If there’s anything else you’d like to know at the end of this post then you can leave more questions in the comments. Hopefully this post will allow you guys to get to know me and the blog a little better and it should be a fun way to celebrate my blogaversary!:

  1. How did you get involved with the bookish community? Were you nervous to start?

I think I’ve talked about this a little on the blog before, but I’ll go over it again for any new followers. When I was 17, I saw someone posting book reviews on Tumblr, I thought it seemed like a cool idea, so I started doing them too. Obviously being in Lower Sixth, I was thinking about University and I was looking into ways to get into Journalism. A lot of the websites I looked at suggested that running a blog was a good idea, so I had a google to see how to start one up and came across WordPress. I always knew I would do a book blog, I’ve been a bookworm ever since I was a little kid, so it was a natural fit for me. I was nervous to start with yes, and it took me a good year before I really started to talking to anyone in the community, but the last few years I’ve really started to feel at home and feel like I actually belong here!

2. What do you like to do outside of reading?

I know it’s hard to believe, but I do other things outside of reading! Obviously I write a lot, not just these blog posts, articles for classes and The National Student, but I am a YA Fantasy writer as well, which I have been talking about a little in my Writing Corner and will be talking about more over the next few months. I also watch a LOT of TV, mostly on Netflix and a lot of movies as well. I’ve been horse riding since I was 8 and am a member of my University’s riding club and I’ve been doing Trampolining since I was 11 and am a member of my Uni’s Trampoline and Gymnastics Club as well. I am learning Spanish in my free time, in the hopes of doing a gap year trip to South America when I graduate Uni.

3. Do you find it hard balancing University and blogging?

Yes! That’s the simple answer to that one. I’d love to say that I’m some sort of blogging superstar and can magic up the time to blog between doing a full time Uni course, blogging and the rest of my life, but it’s not true. I’m only human and of course I struggle to fit blogging into my life, heck I struggle to fit reading in during really busy parts of the semester! There’s no magic formula to handling it, most bloggers would probably say that they live by a schedule, but I’ve never been like that, I prefer to be in the moment when writing a blog post. It does mean I have to squeeze writing blog posts into weekends or any smidge of free time that I get throughout the week, but I can’t imagine it any other way.

4. What do you feel is the biggest thing you’ve learned since you started blogging?

I’ve come out of my shell a lot since I first started I think! I’ve got a lot better and talking to people and interacting with people in the community and that’s been really great for me. My content has improved tenfold since I first started, I now take detailed notes for my reviews, I write in depth discussion posts, I’ve done Event Recaps, Read-a-thons, Quarterly Rewind posts, I think there’s a lot more to my blog now than just book reviews like it was when I started. I’ve also learned to open up a bit more and share more with you guys than I did when I first started and although I’ll never be one of those people who wants to share everything about their life on social media, I like to think I’m less of an enigma now than when I started blogging. Sorry I know that was a massive rambly answer 🙂

5. What is your favourite thing you’ve done in your four years of blogging?

That’s pretty tough to decide, I’ve got to write some pretty cool things, go to some pretty cool events, read some incredible books and meet some amazing people! I would have to say the best thing blogging has brought me though is YALC, I never would have discovered YALC in 2015, if I hadn’t started blogging in 2014 and now it’s an annual tradition that I go down to London for YALC every year with my best friend and it’s so much fun.

6. You’ve got to meet some great authors during the time you’ve been blogging, is there anyone you’re still dying to meet?

Well the thing about being a reader and a blogger is that you are constantly discovering amazing new authors, so the list of authors you want to meet changes pretty rapidly! I’ve met a lot of my must meet authors in the last few years, Sarah J Maas, Derek Landy, Maggie Stiefvater, VE Schwab, Jodi Picoult etc, but there is still a few I’d love to meet. Obviously JK Rowling is the ultimate dream-never-gonna happen one, but I am also desperate to meet Rick Riordan (again never gonna happen as he doesn’t tour outside the US) and Neal Shusterman (although again, he doesn’t seem to tour outside the US). I would also love to meet Leigh Bardugo, I know she has done UK tours in the past, so hopefully she’ll come back again and I’ll get to meet her. Ally Carter is another one I’d love to get the chance to meet, who might be a possibility as she has come to the UK before. I missed Stephanie Garber on her last UK tour, so I’m hoping if she tours again for Legendary, I might be able to make it, as it has a summer release date.

7. Has blogging changed the way you read/what you read at all?

Yes I think so. Not in terms of genre, I still primarily read YA Fantasy, occasionally branching out into Historical YA, Contemporary YA, YA thrillers and Adult Fantasy, but it has definitely changed the way I read. I am far more aware of new releases now and go actively looking for certain books, whereas before I would just wander into a bookshop and nose around, I do kind of miss the surprise of not knowing what I am going to find, but it is great to be aware of what’s coming out. Obviously in a practical sense blogging has changed the way I read, because I now make notes on what I read in order to review it and I also obviously have review copies to take into consideration now. I’m a little bit more aware of how much I read now as well, because of having Goodreads and I make more active goals with my reading during the year. I think these are all really positive things though and have improved my reading for the better.

8. Is there anything that you think people would be surprised to know about you that they couldn’t find out on your blog?

Obviously my love for books is pretty obvious and my bookish opinions and everything are quite easily found on here. I’ve talked about movies I like quite often as well, and TV. I think people would be surprised to know how big a part of my life music is, I don’t necessarily mention it all that often on here, but I absolutely love music, I listen to my IPod every day and am constantly adding new stuff. Music is a massive part of my writing process as well, as I have a Writing Playlist, it’s also a big part of who I am as a reader as I am never without my IPod when I’m reading. I’m a massive fan of musicals, like half of my IPod is musical soundtracks, be it TV, film or stage musicals.

9. What would your biggest piece of advice be to new bloggers starting out?

Get involved! The blogging community can be scary and intimidating to start off with, especially if you start as a teen like I did and it seems like everyone around you is older and more experienced than you are, but we’re all in the same boat, and we’re more than willing to help new bloggers out. It can be kind of lonely, just sitting behind your laptop, talking into what seems like a void and you think that no one can hear you, but connecting with other bloggers has given me a great bookish Internet family, so whatever you do when you start out, talk to other bloggers, they’re your one stop advice shop, support system and most importantly, friends in this community.

If you want more tips though, then I have a couple of posts, one for new book bloggers in general and one for student book bloggers so you can check those out here (small shameless plug!):

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/jo-talks-books-tips-for-student-book-bloggers/

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/jo-talks-books-tips-for-new-book-bloggers/

10. How do you take your tea?

This one is from my friend Hannah, she thinks she’s being funny, since she knows very well that I don’t drink tea! Or coffee!

So there you have it, a little bit more of an insight into me to celebrate my fourth blogaversary! Here’s to hopefully many more years to come. Any other questions for me, about blogging, books, writing, life in general? Leave them in the comments!

I will hopefully have another discussion post for you later this month, though I’m not promising anything, as it’s nearly the end of the month anyway and I have an essay due on 1st March! My next discussion post, whenever it is, however, will definitely be about the need for more stories featuring twenty somethings, be they university related or not. In the meantime, I will be fairly busy next week with work experience, so don’t expect many posts, but I will have my Top Ten Tuesday post for you all as usual on Tuesday.

Top Ten Tuesday #146

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Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all been having a good week so far, mine has been pretty quite, I went to see The Post at the cinema on Saturday, and that was really good, if you haven’t seen in you definitely should!

Today is kind of a special day for me, because it’s my fourth blogaversary! That’s right, four years ago today (how the hell has it been that long?), I started BookLoversBlog. Honestly I’m kind of amazed I’m still here, I sort of thought it would just be a side hobby I’d do during sixth form and never thought I’d manage to maintain my blog through the first year of Uni, let alone throughout second and third year. I also never thought so many people would be interested in reading what I had to say about books, I mean there’s 800 odd of you who follow me, not to mention the people who follow me on Twitter and that’s just incredible! So thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last four years, and here’s to hopefully many more! I’m going to be doing a Q&A post to celebrate, so submit your questions to me here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfo2fqoyLekrmh7KAG1DNOrdiCio817NgfXv8HJ-GsWMWulFg/viewform?fbzx=3243957637216868000

Well that’s enough of my spouting on, the point is, it’s Tuesday and that means another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week, since it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow (ugh), we’ve got a romance based freebie. Now since I’m a total romance cynic and hate everything to do with Valentine’s Day (seriously I can go through the rest of the year not caring that I’m single, and then this one day comes around and just shoves love down your throat), I’ve decided to turn this week’s prompt on it’s head and instead of going for a typical mushy topic, I’m going for Top Ten Books For The Romantic Cynic This Valentine’s Day (aka books you can read if you want to escape all the love!). So here we go:

  1. Gone Girl-Gillian Flynn

If any book is going to remind you how lucky you are to be single, it’s this one. I mean you won’t find a book less in the romantic spirit than this crime thriller about Amy and Nick Dunne who may be the most twisted couple in the world. Once you’re done reading about Amy and Nick, you’ll probably be incredibly happy that you don’t have a partner who can frame you for their disappearance.

2. Dangerous Girls-Abigail Haas

Yet another book about twisted relationships that will make you feel glad to be single, as you follow Anna, Elise and Tate who are in a twisted kind of love triangle, Tate is Anna’s boyfriend, but it’s pretty clear that Elise is obsessed with her and I felt like Anna might be kind of love with her too. Anna is accused of Elise’s murder, and the whole book follows the trial and the events that led up to the murder, ending with a shocking reveal that will absolutely blow your mind.

3. Asking For It-Louise O’Neill

This book is about sexual assault, so yeah, not at all romantic. It will make you angry, it will make you want to throw your book (or in my case laptop) across the room because of how the justice system is weighed against the victim, and it will definitely not give you the warm and fuzzies, so perfect for the grumpy singleton to avoid the love on Valentine’s Day! Plus it’s generally just a really important book, especially given everything that has gone on this year, both in Hollywood and now in the book community.

4. A Series Of Unfortunate Events-Lemony Snicket

The Baudelaire Orphans don’t have time for romance, they’re too busy dodging the misery that keeps flying at them from every turn. So if you’re a romance cynic wanting to avoid the love this Valentine’s Day, why not dive into the Baudelaire’s story to remind yourself that no matter how lonely and bitter you feel, the Baudelaires have it a lot worse.

5. Before I Go To Sleep-SJ Watson

Another crime book to remind you that love isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The kind of amnesia the MC has is pretty terrifying, I mean imagine waking up every day and not knowing who or where you are? Pretty scary right? Add to that that her husband is not who he appears and you have the makings of a pretty scary situation and a very twisted romance.

6. Dark Places-Gillian Flynn

Honestly if I’d read Gillian Flynn’s other book it probably would have been on here too, her books are so twisted! This book follows the survivor of a massacre, Libby Day who pinned the crime on her brother Ben and twenty five years later attempts to discover what really happened. It’s all pretty gruesome really, there’s a scene with a satanic cow ritual that has been stuck firmly in my head ever since I read it. So if you’re not in the mood for romance this Valentine’s and would rather read about gruesome murders, this is the book for you.

7. Frozen Charlotte-Alex Bell

Another creepy horror for your cynical romantic heart to dive into. Set in a creepy old house on the Isle of Skye, it follows Sophie on a visit to her cousins as she attempts to solve the mystery of the Frozen Charlotte dolls and the gruesome accidents that seem to follow them. There’s a slight hint of romance between Sophie and Cameron but for the most part the book is focused on the creepy goings on at the old Dunvegan School For Girls.

8. This Savage Song-Victoria Schwab

Kate Harker and August Flynn don’t have time for all that mushy stuff, Kate is trying to prove that she can be as vicious and devious as her cold hearted father and August is just a monster attempting to be human. If you’re wanting something devoid of romance but with less horror and more action, this might be the book for you.

9. Code Name Verity-Elizabeth Wein

Friendships are just as, if not more important than romantic relationships and I think Valentine’s Day is a timely reminder of that. If you’re feeling bitter about the fact that you’re alone this Valentine’s, then read this book and it will remind you that you might not have a partner but the friends in your life will always be there for you. You’ll also be crying for a reason other than your lack of date.

10. The Book Thief-Markus Zusak

There’s a few little hints of young love, but other than that, this book is far more about friendship and family and war and death (oh and books), than it is about love. If you want something to touch your cynical heart this Valentine’s Day, I dare you to read this book and not cry. I dare you.

So there we go, ten books for your cynical romance heart this Valentine’s Day, that you can dive into to avoid all of the mushy stuff going on around you, whether you’re single and cynical like me, or if you’re in a relationship but you don’t really do Valentine’s Day. Have you read any of these? What other books would you recommend for the romance cynic in your life this Valentine’s? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading, which is kind of topical given what happened over the weekend and the fact that I just unhauled a load yesterday, so it should be a good one!

In the meantime however, I’m hoping to do my big Blogaversary celebration post over the weekend, so make sure you submit your questions in the form that I linked at the top of the post!

Writing Corner: On My Writing Inspirations and How They Have Changed Over The Years

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while, my first post of these was kind of just to test the waters and see whether it would be worth continuing this series. This year however, I’m hoping to expand this feature even more, to have an outlet to talk about my own writing and also hopefully share writing and writing stories from other writers in the community.

Today’s topic is inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter. I was talking to someone about my favourite books and one of the examples I gave was A Darker Shade of Magic, and I said that when I was younger, my writing inspiration was JK Rowling but right now I said my writing inspiration was VE Schwab. This got me thinking about how I’ve changed as a writer and how my inspirations have changed as I’ve grown up and become more serious and dedicated to my authorial pursuits.

The writing bug was first ignited in me when I read Harry Potter for the first time as a kid. I was so enthralled by the magic and the sense of wonder I got from reading those books and I was determined that when I was older, I was going to be exactly like JK Rowling. I mean we even had the same first name, to my young brain, it seemed perfectly natural that one day I could be like the woman who wrote these stories that I loved so much.

Now obviously, my expectations have grown more realistic as I’ve got older. I know, that realistically, I’m highly unlikely to sell a story that becomes a global and cultural phenomenon. But that initial desire, to write a story that captivates people, that touches people and gives them a sense of wonder and hope and inspiration, that hasn’t gone away.

But the kind of story that is has changed a lot over the years. I’ve tried my hand at writing a lot of different things, zany playscripts, a Cluedo style murder mystery, a Thirteen Reasons Why type contemporary, a secret agent type story involving bears as spies, all sorts of things. However I actually wrote very little, if any fantasy to start off with, despite that being the genre that I loved the most from a very young age. It’s only really in the last few years that I’ve started writing my own fantasies and I think the reason is the authors I’ve been reading. When I was younger, I only really had Harry Potter as a fantasy inspiration, but there have been so many amazing fantasies brought out as I’ve been growing up and I’ve had such a wealth of amazing writers to choose from and so what I’ve written has changed to reflect that.

In terms of writing style, I would say my biggest inspirations are Derek Landy and Rick Riordan, which is unsurprising, considering those two writers series’ were my biggest obsessions during my teen years, it stands to reason that when writing YA, the writers I was obsessed with in my teens have really influenced me. The snappy dialogue and the sarcastic humour were massive draws for me, but also the fact that their writing is fun and engaging and it has a really strong voice, and that’s always been the sort of thing that I love. So naturally, I have tried to incorporate that into my own writing (in my own way of course), because I want to write the things that I love to read. I could try being more descriptive, more flowery, but that’s never been me, and I don’t think it will ever be my characters either. In terms of my books, I want all of them to have some sense of me in them, that only I could have written them and that’s something I’ve got from my favourite authors I think, that no matter what they write, there’s an underlying sense of their personality, their soul, in each of their books.

Victoria Schwab is probably one of my biggest writing inspirations right now, I love how inventive and creative she is, how no two of her books are the same, but like I said above, you can tell they were all written by her because there is this underlying sense of her personality running through all of her books. I was actually talking to a friend, explaining Underground Magicians (having recently told her about the Shades of Magic books) and she was like “oh that sounds like those books you were telling me about!”, which was totally unintentional, but I think it just goes to show how much she has influenced me and my writing. Lila Bard was definitely a huge inspiration for Tiffany in TINALS, not so much Sophie in Underground Magicians, but one of the things I’ve definitely taken from Victoria’s writing is how to write an awesome female MC. The elemental magic system in TINALS was partially inspired by the magic in ADSOM, but also from Skulduggery Pleasant, and various other books that have used that kind of magic. However, much like with JK Rowling, it isn’t necessarily aspects of her writing that have inspired me the most, it’s the feeling that I get from reading her work. Her fantasies are these amazing, totally immersive adventures, and I want my readers to feel like that if I ever actually get a book out into the world. Like they just want to sit there and dive into this world and not come out again until the story is over. I also love how honest Victoria Schwab is about her writing and the difficulties she has with it, it makes me feel a whole lot better on days when I want to bang my head against a wall because a plot point just won’t work!

One of my inspirations for Underground Magicians is one that I didn’t even realise until today, Sophie McKenzie’s The Medusa Project. One of the coolest things about that book (though it’s not a fantasy as such), is that all of the characters have very different psychic powers and it’s something I’ve taken into Underground Magicians, as all of the characters have very different magic powers and it’s not based on one specific system, like the elements in TINALS. I also think the relatively fast pace of my writing is something that I got from reading a lot of Sophie McKenzie when I was younger, she always wrote really snappy, sharp, engaging plots and that’s something that I hope comes across in my work as well!

Sarah J Maas has also been a massive inspiration for me in recent years. You can say whatever you like about the problematic elements to her books, and there are many, I’m not saying I aspire to those, but she has been writing since she was a teen and managed to get a story that she wrote in its first iteration at 16 published, and that to me, as a young writer is really inspiring. Celaena was also definitely a huge influence in the character of Tiffany in TINALS, I loved seeing a character who wasn’t necessarily always the most likeable, but she was determined and feisty and went after what she wanted and has a bit of a flair for the dramatic! She also writes really great female friendships and that’s something that is massively important to me in my own books.

Everything I’ve read has in some way contributed to the writer I am today, but there are certain authors, like the ones I’ve mentioned in this post today, who have a special place in my heart, whose writing I have connected with on such a deep level that you can see their influences in what I write myself. My ideal is that one day, what I write will be published and I’ll be able to influence a younger generation of writers in the same way that these authors have influenced me!

So over to you? What authors have influenced your writing? Have your writing inspirations changed as you’ve grown up? Let me know in the comments!

I don’t know when I’ll next be doing one of these, I’m hoping for maybe once a month, but it will depend on when I have time to sit down and write! I’m really hoping to get other writers to contribute to this feature, so if you’re a writer and you’re interested in being featured on my blog, then holler at me on Twitter, I’m @iloveheartlandX. I have a few people who’ve already noted interested and no, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been busy!

My next new post will be my newest TTT on Tuesday, but I will also have a very special post next week celebrating four years of blogging (FOUR! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?), so stay tuned for that!

 

 

By A Charm and A Curse Review (e-ARC)

By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell

Book: By A Charm and A Curse

Author: Jaime Questell

Published By: Entangled Teen

Expected Publication: 6th February

Format: e-book

Thank you to Entangled Teen and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book early, it was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2018, so I was super excited to get to read it before it released!

I was really excited for By A Charm and A Curse, because I have enjoyed circus/carnival type stories in the past, and am super obsessed with The Greatest Showman, so naturally, reading a book with a circus setting was right up my alley, plus the idea of a curse being transferred by a kiss was really cool to me. There were some things which could have been improved, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was refreshing to read a shorter, standalone fantasy story, when I usually read thick tomes that are part of series! Here is a synopsis of the book:

Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for. 

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss. 

First off, I loved the concept, it was definitely different to the other types of circus stories that I’ve read before, and whilst the idea of a kiss being used to break a curse is quite a common one, I quite liked that in this one it was the kiss that caused all of the problems.

The setting was also really cool, I liked that it was a modern day circus, in both Caraval and The Night Circus, the circus/carnival type setting was more ethereal, more magical, but this one was a more recognisable circus, with all the things you would usually expect, acrobats, horses, food stalls that kind of thing and I really liked that, you had this modern setting, but still with that sense of awe and wonder that you get from Caraval and The Night Circus.

I also loved the dynamics between the characters, as a group, you could definitely tell they had known each other and worked together a long time, it felt like a really authentic dynamic and it was nice to read. I would have liked to get to know the side characters a little better though, it seemed as if they were just there to prop up Emma and Benjamin rather than having any significant role in the plot. Emma and Sidney in particular had a rather interesting dynamic, as he

The curse was amazing, so creepy! Emma basically turns into a sort of living version of Pinocchio, she turns completely solid and cold and like a puppet in human form and it was awful to see her go through that but it was also such a cool idea. I liked seeing how Emma struggled and adjusted to her new life and how she became a part of the little circus family.

I would have liked Emma to be a tad more developed, it has to be said. I liked that we got to see how the curse affected her and how it ultimately made her stronger, I liked that she didn’t wallow in her new life, she worked to try and find a way to solve her problem but I felt like Ben got a lot more of a backstory than she did and I would have liked to learn just a bit more about her, as it seemed like Ben’s story was a lot more important to the plot, despite Emma being the main character. Still, I did  like her and was rooting for her to break the curse.

Ben seemed nice, I mean I wouldn’t say he was my favourite main character ever, but he was sweet and caring and that was a nice change from a lot of the morally ambiguous YA love interests! I will say that sometimes I got a little confused about Emma and Benjamin’s narrations, their voices could have been more distinctive, I did occasionally get confused and think one was narrating when it was actually the other! Emma and Ben’s romance was sweet, I liked that even though yes they were instantly attracted to each other, their relationship developed in a really natural, authentic way, it wasn’t like they were telling each other they loved one another in a week or something.

I will admit, I got a little annoyed at some of the carnival members, like you see this poor person suffering, but you don’t even try to help break the curse, you just keep going because this benefits you? How selfish is that! It seemed weird to me that they hadn’t tried to break the curse before now.

The curse was a little difficult to understand at first, but as the story went on and we got more explanation, it made a lot more sense and I was amazed at how much detail Jaime put in to the passing on of the curse and the history of it and everything, it was really cool!

There were a few uncorrected proof errors, but that’s to be expected and nothing that annoyed me so much I had to stop reading.

Ben’s mother was incredibly intense and I didn’t really like her, also her subplot with Sidney was really weird and I’m not sure how much it added to the plot, aside from offering a reason as to why she wasn’t keen on Emma and Benjamin being together.

It was nice to see teens drinking in USYA, I feel like that’s not something that is shown very much? Although to be fair, I don’t know what the teen drinking culture in the US is like, so I don’t know whether it’s realistic that not many teens drink in USYA or not!

I liked that the chapters were short, it meant the book had a nice flow and a nice pace to it and I never found myself getting bored by the story which was good!

I definitely felt for the characters and the stakes they were up against because every time something happened because of the charm weakening I felt really bad for them and wanted them to fix it! I also thought it was really clever, how the explanation for the charm weakening tied into to how to break the curse.

The climax was totally thrilling, I was on the edge of my seat just reading it, and there were definitely shocks along the way! I liked the ending as well, despite some of the events of the book, it ended on a happy and positive note, closed in the sense that you know there’s not going to be a sequel, but open in the fact that it ends with lots of possibilities for the characters in the future and I think that’s a really good way to end things.

Overall, this was a fast paced, unique little carnival story, and I really enjoyed it! I would definitely read more by this author in the future.

My Rating: 4/5

Bechdel Test: Pass, Emma and Jules have a conversation at the beginning that doesn’t revolve around boys and the female cast members talk about the curse throughout.

To win a By A Charm and A Curse swag pack, use the link below (US only, sorry!):

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1cb554951221/

Top Ten Tuesday #145

TTT-Big2

Hi all! I hope you’ve all been having a good week, it’s been back to the grind for me, starting off on my first essay of the semester, which may just kill me through boredom. Still, I have had some fun alongside the work, I had a social with my friends from Trampolining on Monday and a friend over to watch Moulin Rouge with me on Wednesday, plus a riding lesson, so all in all it’s not been too bad!

Anyway, since it’s Tuesday, I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking Books That Have Been On Our TBRs The Longest, so naturally I went back through my Goodreads and found a shocking 31 books that I both own and have been there since I started adding books to my TBR in 2015! Here is a selection of ten of those:

  1. Scarlet-AC Gaughen

Okay so I only actually got this one in 2016, through the #otspsecretsister project, but it’s been on my TBR since 2015 and I still haven’t read it yet. I don’t know why, it sounds like a very “me” book, a Robin Hood retelling where Will Scarlet is a girl. I’m hoping to tick this one off my TBR this year as part of my challenge to read more of the books my Secret Sisters have given me.

2. The Secret Fire-CJ Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld

This one sounds really good, a teenage boy who can’t die and the girl who has to save him, in only eight weeks? Sounds pretty exciting! Sadly this book has been gathering dust on my shelf ever since I bought it, two or three years ago. It’s definitely one I intend to get to at some point, but I don’t know when.

3. The Young Elites-Marie Lu

I keep meaning to read something by Marie Lu as everyone seems to love her books, but I still haven’t gotten around to it yet. It’s meant to be a villain origin story, which sounds right up my street, but for some reason I just haven’t felt in the mood to pick it up yet.

4. Rose Under Fire-Elizabeth Wein

This one I am actually remedying this year, as it’s on my #RockMyTBR Challenge list for 2018! I can’t wait to read this, as I loved Code Name Verity, and really enjoyed The Pearl Thief, so I’m super excited for another one of Elizabeth Wein’s beautiful, heartbreaking historical stories.

5. The Book of Ivy-Amy Engel

I got this one from YALC in 2016 (but it has been on my TBR since 2015), but I’ve kind of grown out of my dystopian phase, so this one hasn’t been on my radar as much as it once was. I would still like to read it, but it’s not at the top of my list.

6. Wintergirls-Laurie Halse Anderson

This another one I got from YALC in 2016 (also has been on my TBR since 2015), but I bought it in a haze of last day discounts, so I honestly kind of forgot I had it (I have a lot of books so there are a lot of stories like these). I still want to read it though, as I’ve heard great things about Laurie Halse Anderson.

7. Only Ever Yours-Louise O’Neill

I seriously have no excuse for this one, it’s a feminist dystopia in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale, it should be number one on my list but for some reason it’s been languishing on my shelf since 2015! I’d like to say I’ll get to this one this year, but that’s more than I want to promise, so I will definitely get to it in the next few years.

8. Pegasus and The Origins of Olympus-Kate O Hearn

I started reading these when I was still in sixth form, bought the next two books my first year of Uni and then for some reason never finished the series! There are three more books in the series for me to read to finish it, and I definitely intend to at some point, as they’re books kind of in the vein of Percy Jackson, where Pegasus and the Gods are a real thing (though they’re Roman, not Greek).

9. Dorothy Must Die-Danielle Page

Okay confession time, I was really excited for this one, a retelling of the Wizard of Oz? Pretty darn cool. However then I read Page’s Stealing Snow and hated it so much that I haven’t been able to face this one. I still think it sounds interesting though, so someone please tell me that Stealing Snow was a blip and Dorothy Must Die is actually good?

10. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer-Michelle Hodkin

This book sounds weird and mysterious which is right up my street, but for some reason it has been sat languishing on my shelf for a few years, without me feeling much need to pick it up, Hopefully this changes soon!

So there we go, just a small fraction of the books still languishing on my shelves after three years on my TBR. Which of these should I prioritise the most? Have you read any of these? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s list is a Valentine’s Freebie and since I’m kind of a Valentine’s Scrooge, I figured I would do, Top Ten Books For The Romantic Cynic This Valentine’s Day.

In the meantime however, I have a couple of posts planned for the next week, if I can find the time to write them between essay writing!

#RockMyTBR January Update (2018)

Hi everyone! We’ve finally made it out of the January that felt like it went on forever, and so that means it’s time for an update of what I’ve been reading this month. For those of you who are new to the blog, each year since 2016, I’ve been doing a reading challenge (set up by Sarah K at The Book Traveller), where I have a list of backlist books from my TBR that I want to read over the course of the year, with the aim of trying to make my TBR shrink (it never happens!). My aim is to read one book a month from my list of 12 so I will have completed them all by December. January has been pretty good for reading, I’ve read 4 books this month, and here they are:

22819449Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo:

This was my first #RockMyTBR book of 2018, I started it on 1st January and finished it on the 12th. I was really excited for this one because I loved Six Of Crows, but sadly, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as that one, it was very slow paced and I found that I couldn’t really engage with Alina. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/shadow-and-bone-shadow-and-bone-1-review/

35883046Everless by Sara Holland:

One of my most anticipated debuts of 2018, so I had a lot of expectations for this one and luckily it met all of them, I loved the concept and the writing, plot and characters definitely lived up to them! I read it from 23rd December-12th January (non-consecutively). Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/17/everless-review-e-arc/

34921588By A Charm and A Curse by Jaime Questell:

I didn’t have any particular expectations for this one, it sounded nice, but I wasn’t expecting to love it anywhere near as much as I did. I’ve read quite a few circus/carnival themed YA books over the years, but this felt like something a little darker, a little different and I just really enjoyed it. I read it over two weeks, from 13th-28th January. Unfortunately I don’t have a review yet, as it’s not published till next week, but I will definitely have it up soon!

34866434The Fandom by Anna Day:

I got this one at YALC last year, and I was really excited for it, because it sounds like every fangirl’s dream, but sadly, the story just didn’t live up to my expectations, this great concept was really poorly executed, the characters fell flat and the pacing was generally just off. It was really disappointing because I was so excited for this one! I read it from 12th-31st January.  Here is my review it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/the-fandom-review-arc/

So that’s a recap of everything I read in January, here is what I hope to read in February:

Wintersong-S. Jae Jones-This is my current read, I had no idea how long it was before I started reading, otherwise I might have kept it for later in the year, but ah well, it seemed like the perfect winter read anyway! I’m not very far through yet, so haven’t decided if I like it yet or not.

The Exact Opposite of Okay-Laura Steven-This will be my #RockMyTBR book for February, I’m cheating a tiny bit as it’s a 2018 release, but since I’ve had the ARC since July, I figured it could still count! I’m really excited for this one, it sounds like a very “me” book.

The Belles-Dhonielle Clayton-This is one of three February e-ARCs I have from Netgalley, I kind of overloaded myself this month! I’ve just started reading this and I’m really intrigued so far, I look forward to seeing where it goes.

The Hazel Wood-Melissa Albert-Another of my February e-ARCs, this one sounds right up my street, dark twisted fairytales? Yes please! My friend loved this one and we have very similar tastes in books, so I can’t wait to read it and hopefully love it myself.

The Toymakers-Robert Dinsdale-I don’t really know much of what this one is about other than it’s set in a Toy Emporium in 1917 London, but that sounds really cool, so I can’t wait to dive in and learn more!

So there we go, my very ambitious February TBR, I am unlikely to finish them all, but I will try my hardest! I’m two books ahead of my Goodreads Challenge at the moment, so that makes me very happy. How are you doing with your reading so far this year? Let me know in the comments!