Traitor To The Throne (Rebels of The Sands #2) Review (e-ARC)

traitor-to-the-throne Book: Traitor To The Throne (Rebel of The Sands #2)

Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Published By: Faber & Faber

Expected Publication: 2nd February

Format: e-book

I received this book for free via Netgalley, as always, this in no way affected my opinion of this book.

As always, thanks to Netgalley and Faber and Faber for allowing me to read this book.

As many of you know (or you will know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while), I absolutely loved Alwyn Hamilton’s debut novel, Rebel of The Sands, it was one of the best books I read last year and so naturally I was incredibly excited when it came up on Netgalley and “wished” for it. I wasn’t expecting to get it (usually these things never work out for me!) but I did.

I’m not going to lie, my expectations for this book were high after how great Rebel of The Sands was and I’m not sure that they were entirely met. Traitor To The Throne definitely suffers from some “middle book syndrome”, a lot of it is about political manoeuvrings, and a great deal is set in the harem in the Sultan’s palace, so the pacing is a little off for quite a large portion of the book, the start was engaging, so was the end, but there was quite a large portion in the middle that seemed to lag a bit which I wasn’t entirely keen on.

I appreciated that there was a character recap at the start of the book, because there’s quite a lot of characters and you tend to forget some of them between books, so that was a welcome addition. I also liked that the first chapter acted as kind of a recap for the last book, as not everyone has the chance to reread the first book before the sequel comes out! It also worked well due to the six month time gap between the books, the first chapter kind of catches you up with everything that’s happened so you’re not just thrown straight in the deep end.

The stakes were definitely a lot higher in this book and the plot was more complex than in the first book which I appreciated, although as I said previously, I did feel like the political manoeuvrings kind of bogged the pacing of the book down a little in the middle of the book.

I still really loved Amani, her powers are awesome, she’s still such an amazing, strong, brave, feisty female character and I liked that we got to see her grown more as a person in this book, she’s no longer this selfish desert girl that she was in the first book, she clearly cares so much about everyone in the rebellion and she’s willing to take risks to save everyone, not just herself now. She’s without her powers for a considerable portion of the book and it’s interesting to see how this develops her character as a strategist rather than just the warrior that we saw in the first book.

I appreciated that we got to learn more about Amani’s family in this book, we get to meet her aunt (her other one, not the one she lived with in Dustwalk) and Shira reappears which I liked because I didn’t feel that relationship was really explored enough in the first book, and it really gets more developed here, which was great. We also get to meet her Djinni father and get more backstory on her mother, which was pretty cool.

The setting of the book wasn’t quite as captivating as the first, we’re still in Miraji of course, but as much of it is set in the palace, it doesn’t have quite the same desert magic as the first one did (though ironically we do get a lot of magic in this book!).

I liked that we got to see even more of the mythology of the world in this book, that was very cool because it’s such a unique mythology, given that Djinn are not common in fantasies, so I felt like it really added something to the story having the mythology interspersed within it. We also had a wedding in this book and a new Mirajin festival, Auranzeb, so it was interesting seeing the customs for those. We also get to learn more about Miraji’s neigbouring countries, Albis, Gamanix and Xicha which I liked.

I really loved the new characters who were introduced, particularly Sam, a new addition to the rebellion, he’s this charming, cheeky thief who’s been trading on Amani’s reputation and it was so fun to see the two of them interact (don’t worry, they’re only friends, there is no love triangle here) and see him integrate into the rebellion. He has an interesting backstory too which I liked and his “power” is so cool (he’s not a Demdji, he’s a Faye, which is a Northern version of Djinn), he can walk through walls, which I thought was awesome! We also get to meet a lot of the Sultan’s sons, the most important being Rahim, who joins the rebels side. He didn’t make too much of an impression on me, but I imagine he’ll develop more in the third book. There are various members of the harem that we meet as well, but they’re not particularly important!

We also finally get to meet the Sultan! He was everything I wanted him to be, a twisted, complex, dark character. I liked that Hamilton did not take the easy way out and make the Sultan completely evil, he feels that he is doing what is right for his country and there is a logic to his decisions, which makes him even more scary! I appreciated how clever and manipulative the Sultan was, it made the payoff at the end of the book all the better!

There was the occasional spelling and punctuation error, but since I read an uncorrected proof, I’m sure this was just a case of that and it will have been fixed in the final version.

One slight niggle I had was that not all the chapters were named. I get that it was meant to show a difference between chapters talking about Djinni myths/character backstories, but it’s just a pet peeve of mine when authors name some of their chapters and not others. Either name them all or don’t name at all people!

I did miss Jin in this book. He and Amani are apart for most of the book, and whilst I appreciated this because it allowed Amani a chance for growth and development on her own, and understood it because Amani was in the palace for most of the book, I still missed him and would have liked to see him more. There are still some cute moments for them as a couple (including a very frustrating almost sex-scene!) but I would have liked to have just seen a tad more of Jin.

I still really love Shazad and Amani’s friendship, although again, we don’t get to see too much of them working together because of the set up of this book. In fact I would have loved to see more Shazad in general because I really love her (and totally ship her and Sam!).

There were a lot of twists and turns and unexpected things happening through the book, which I loved, basically the entire last ten or so chapters are just one big twist and I was on the edge of my seat through them. Without all of the slightly tedious political manoeuvrings before, they never would have worked, so whilst they did seem boring at the time, I appreciated what they built up to.

Overall, despite the fact that the book suffered from some pacing issues in the middle, I still really enjoyed it! Amani is a fantastic main character, the plot was more complex this time than in Rebel of The Sands, so whilst it might not have had the same on the edge of your seat action, it has more depth, there is more character development, more world building and a very exciting conclusion. It was a very solid addition to the trilogy and has me on the edge of my seat waiting for Book Three!

My Rating: 3.5/5 (the slow middle meant that this just wasn’t quite a 4)

My next review will be of my most recent read, The Invisible Library, by Genvieve Cogman.




The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1)


Book: The Crown’s Game

Author: Evelyn Skye

This book was my #RockMyTBR book for February and I was really excited to read it for several reasons. Firstly, Russia is such an amazing country with such an interesting history, I did Russian History during my A-Levels, and it was just so fascinating to me, especially the time of the Tsars, so naturally, I was incredibly excited when I heard that this book was about Imperial Russia. Secondly, magic is basically my biggest love in stories so obviously I loved the idea of the Game and the the enchantments. And finally, my friend read it and loved it and she has very similar taste in books to me, so all signs were pointing towards me loving it. And for the most part, aside from a few minor niggles, I really, really did! Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

I’m not going to lie, this was a slow starter. It wasn’t until the Game actually started around 18 chapters in to the book that I started getting invested and even then, the action doesn’t really pick up until about the last 20-30 chapters. Still, it helped that the chapters were relatively short, because despite the fact that there was little action initially, the short chapters helped keep a regular pace, so I didn’t get bogged down in the same way that I would with a longer chapter book. I like it when books have a nice mix of longer and shorter chapters and Evelyn Skye struck that balance well.

I feel like a pronunciation guide could have been helpful, there were quite a few Russian names at the beginning of the book and they were kind of confusing to read, so a pronunciation guide would have gone a long way!

The magic in this was incredible! I loved how it ranged from more simple enchantments, right up to all this big fancy stuff. There was a bit I particularly loved, right at the start of the book, where Nikolai is organising books with his magic and I so wish I could do that! It would be so helpful. The enchantments for the Game were pretty impressive too, I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t say what any of them are, but they are suitably beautiful. I also liked how the magic in this didn’t really seem like anything I’d seen before, to have a magic system feel unique in YA fantasy is quite the achievement!

I loved the characters, Vika was so cheeky and fierce and as soon as she first appeared, I got the feeling that I was going to like her, and I was right. Her elemental magic was very much up my street, especially considering that my current WIP is all about elemental magic so I naturally got very excited about that. I also really loved Pasha, he was just this adorable, charming, cinnamon roll who must be protected at all costs. I wasn’t so keen on Nikolai, I felt like we didn’t really get a good enough sense of his personality? I’m hoping that will come across more in the next book, because he seemed kind of bland in this one. Pasha’s sister Yuliana was a total bitch, but I kind of felt sorry for her because it’s clear that she would make a much better ruler than Pasha, just no one gives her the time of day because she’s a girl.

I also want to take a second here to talk about poor Renata, because she really seems to get the raw end of the deal here. Renata is the household servant in the house where Nikolai stays (he lives with his tutor Galina who took him in as an orphan from the Kazakh Steppe) and of course has been desperately in love with Nikolai for years.  He does not return her feelings and Renata pines. That really seems to be her only purpose here, pining after Nikolai and aside from her skills at reading tea leaves, she’s not developed much. I found that quite disappointing and I hope that now it has been firmly established she has no future with Nikolai, that her character will be developed more in the next book.

There is so much food in this book! Vika’s surrogate mother of sorts, Ludmila runs a bakery and she’s constantly baking gorgeous treats. I felt hungry like half the time, but in the best way. I think we can all agree that books are greatly improved with a huge amount of delicious cake right?

Speaking of Ludmila, I loved her. She was just this lovely, cheerful, cheeky baker and her relationship with Vika was just brilliant, they definitely seemed to have a kind of mother/daughter relationship going on and I would love to see that more in the next book.

I liked that the early part of the Game had a bit of a violent streak, although somewhat disappointingly, this fell away a little in the middle but thankfully it picked up again at the end (in fact Skye more than made up for it with the dark end). Still it was compelling to read and the stakes always felt high which kept me invested in the outcome. The enchantments were incredible and whilst I’ve read some criticism of how powerful Vika and Nikolai were (though Vika’s strength is explained), I think it worked really well for what the author wanted and I liked that they were so impressive!

THERE WAS A MASQUERADE! I’m sorry for the all caps, but I have an insane love of all things masquerade. There’s just something so gorgeous and magical about them. It went on for like five chapters and I was just in heaven with all the pretty dresses and the dancing and everything.

I wasn’t completely sold on the romance? I mean we had the dreaded love triangle (ugh) which is bad enough, but neither guy really felt like they had chemistry with Vika. I felt like Nikolai and Vika’s connection seemed somewhat superficial, just based on the fact that they both have magic. Pasha’s interest in Vika seemed more like puppy love and whilst I did feel slightly more of a connection there, it was only really on a friends thing. I think I know where this triangle will go in the next book, but I’m not really all that invested in it.

Also please can no more friendships be ruined by the dreaded triangle? Okay, I mean that’s not the only reason Pasha and Nikolai’s friendship kind of fell apart, but seriously, I really don’t want anymore friendships being ruined because of common love interests. Get it together guys! You had a good thing going there for a while. I hope their relationship rebuilds in the next book.

The setting was yes, glorious but I loved Evelyn Skye’s writing even more. Everything seemed to come alive on the page, it was like the book itself was infused with a little magic and I loved that. The vividness of the writing just added to the gorgeousness of the setting to create one incredibly beautiful book.

There were a lot of great plot twists in the latter half of the book which were executed really well, I didn’t really see anything of them coming but they fit well and didn’t seem at all random which was good.

I feel like there were certain aspects of the world building could have done with more development, I could have done with more explanation of the magic system for instance, but overall, Skye did establish a vivid and interesting world and I look forward to seeing her explore it more in the next book.

Overall this was a promising start to a new duology, whilst there were some issues with the world development and the romances and suffered a little from the whole too slow at the start and then almost overwhelmingly intense at the end combination, it was still a beautiful book, with fantastic magic, great characters, lovely writing and who can forget all the FOOD? I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where Skye goes in the conclusion to this duology!

My next review will be of my latest Netgalley read, the newest instalment in Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel Trilogy, Traitor To The Throne!

Top Ten Tuesday #96


Hey everyone! Happy Tuesday (or Valentines Day for those of you who celebrate. Personally not a huge fan. My friends and I are simply celebrating Galentines Day a day late with movies and a huge amount of junk food, much more my scene!). It was my three year blogiversary yesterday and I know I didn’t do anything huge like a giveaway for it (sorry guys, broke student!) but I’d just like to thank everyone who has followed my little blog over the years for all your support, I would not still be doing this now without you guys. It’s hard to believe that this blog started as just a bunch of tumblr posts and has now grown to what it is now. Sure, I may still cringe at how bad some of my early posts are, but I’m really proud of what my blog has become. Here’s to the next few years!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, this week is a romance themed freebie for Valentines’ Day, so at the risk of sharing in the love and not letting this day pass in a blur of cynicism and lots of ice cream as I usually do, I’m going to be sharing my Top Ten Favourite Slow Burn Romances. I’m sure all you guys are aware that I have very lukewarm feelings towards romances by now, but the few romances I do like are definitely the slow burn ones. So here are ten of my favourites:

  1. Percy and Annabeth-PJO, HOO, TOA-Rick Riordan

AH PERCABETH! They started as rivals, gained grudging respect, became friends, developed feelings and then finally got together over the course of the first five books and now they’re adorably in love and even helped each other through the depths of Tartarus. Definitely the most shippable ship in the Percy Jackson universe and I can’t wait for more adorable scenes for them in his upcoming books!

2. Callum and Sephy-Noughts and Crosses Series-Malorie Blackman

This was a romance years in the making, literally, Callum and Sephy are friends from childhood and it’s years before anything romantic happens between them. Sadly their romance just wasn’t mean to be, but it’s definitely a brilliant slow burn.

3.  Amani and Jin-Rebel of The Sands-Alwyn Hamilton

This is a gorgeous slow burning romance, you can sense the chemistry between Amani and Jin from the moment that Jin first appears on the page, but it’s not instant, they have great banter, they get to know each other slowly and when the romance finally does happen, it’s a great payoff!

4. Scarlett and Julian-Caraval-Stephanie Garber

This is a relatively new one, but was an instant favourite! Scarlett and Julian’s romance is not at the forefront of the story, it’s just there, bubbling under the surface throughout the book as they slowly get to know and trust each other.

5.  Connor and Risa-Unwind Dystology-Neal Shusterman

I love Connor and Risa’s relationship! They meet under strange circumstances when both are on the run from Unwinding, and they’re not instant friends, neither one really trusts the other at first, but then they slowly get to know each other, become friends and romance blossoms from there. Their romance is nice and subtly developed over the course of the series, it’s always there, but not at the forefront, just the way I like my romances!

6. Rachel and Mycroft-Every Breath-Ellie Marney

I only just read this book this year, but the romance was actually my favourite part of it, which is very strange for me! The chemistry between these two just leaps off the page, I spent practically the entire book screaming at them “JUST KISS ALREADY!. But the author plays the slow burn and it’s totally worth it because by the time these two friends realise that they want to be more than that, the pay off is excellent!

7. Danny and Colton-Timekeeper-Tara Sim

THESE TWO! They are sooooooo adorable and must be protected at all costs! This starts as a simple crush, but over the course of the books, it develops into something more. It just felt like such a genuine and lovely blossoming young love romance and it was so lovely to see an LGBT romance in fantasy as there are very few fantasy books that have them.

8. Blue and Gansey-The Raven Cycle-Maggie Stiefvater

I’m not the biggest Bluesy shipper, I like them but I prefer Pynch, but as a slow burn romance, Bluesy is incredible. They’re friends first, the romance develops slowly, and although the physical intimacy between them is limited, due to Blue’s curse, the chemistry between them is always palpable and I think it takes a very skilled writer to do that! So whilst they may not be my favourite couple ever, I can appreciate the slow burn of their romance.

9. Lila and Kell-Shades of Magic-Victoria Schwab

I don’t even know if these two are ever going to become a thing, but I love their relationship. They’re friends, but they clearly want more and everyone can see that they like each other and are saying “you guys need to get together” but they are frustratingly and wonderfully stubborn about it! They have great chemistry, both as friends and as potentially something more and I’d be interested to see if this relationship actually becomes a thing in the last book.

10. Alex and Will-The Glory-Lauren St John

These two! They have such chemistry from the moment they meet, but they don’t act on until right at the very end, and we just get to see them getting to know each other, looking out for each other over the course of the race and when they finally do get together, they’re just so damn adorable!

I’m going to stop there because I could probably talk about slow burn romances forever and I do need to actually finish this post at some point! Have you read any of these books? Do you like me, love any of these couples? What other great books with slow burn romances have you read (I need all the recs guys!)? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, the topic is Ten Books I Loved More/Less Than I Thought I Would. I don’t know which direction I’ll go in with that (probably the negative one, I love a good ranty post) but we’ll all see next week I guess! Once again, in honour of my third blogiversary yesterday, I’d like to thank all my followers, old and new for being with me on this journey of blogging and I hope you guys all stick with me and keep enjoying reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

Anyway, that new TTT post is next week, but in the meantime, I will have a new book review, of my latest read, The Crown’s Game up soon, hopefully tomorrow, so stay tuned for that!



Jo Talks Books: Where Are All The Single Characters in YA?

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these, I’ve been very busy what with being back at Uni and applying for work experience placements for the summer that I haven’t had time to sit down and write another discussion post! I was thrilled with the reaction to my last discussion post, it was something I was a little nervous about writing, so I’m very glad that it seemed to be well received. But anyway, back to the topic at hand, with Valentine’s Day coming up on Tuesday, I thought I’d do a romance themed discussion post…..well ish. I saw a post on BookRiot on this topic last year, and it really made me think, so I decided I wanted to put my own two cents in on the issue. So today I’m going to be talking about being single and particularly the lack of single characters in YA.

We all know that nowadays romance is pretty much a prerequisite of YA books. I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of YA books that I’ve read that had no romance in them at all in the last few years. That’s all well and good, after all first romances are a big part of some teens lives. However the key word there is SOME. Not all teens have found their “one” at age 16. Heck most of them haven’t and I think it’s very dangerous to perpetuate the idea that all teens have found love by age 16/17, because it runs the risk of making teens who aren’t in a relationship/have never been kissed/haven’t yet found love feel abnormal.

This is an issue that is quite close to me personally because I was one of those teens. I was single throughout all of my teen years (I still am), I hadn’t even been kissed up until about two years ago and my teenage crushes (on actual people that I knew, not just celebrities) were few and far between. And I would read these books, where all of these teenage characters were falling in love, finding their perfect relationships and I would feel abnormal. Because I hadn’t had any of that. I kept thinking “Is there something wrong with me?”. I didn’t have this perfect ship-worthy relationship. I hadn’t been kissed, I hadn’t even ever been on a date. Don’t get me wrong, I was and still am a huge shipper, but just seeing all of these characters in books that I loved get together made me feel like there was something wrong with my life, because I hadn’t found something that all these characters in books I loved seemed to have found so easily, and I’m sure I’m not the only teen that has felt this way.

By having all YA characters paired up, a huge part of the YA audience is being erased. We talk so much about representation in this community, about race representation, disability representation, sexuality representation, mental illness representation etc but no one ever seems to talk about the lack of single representation. I know that singles are not a marginalised group in the same way that some of the other groups I’ve mentioned are, but we still deserve to be represented don’t we? Why should only people who’ve had relationships get to see themselves in books? Shouldn’t people who are single, whether we be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, aro/ace/demi, pan etc get to see ourselves in books too? I know I certainly get enough people making me feel bad about being single in real life, I don’t need it from my books too.

It’s just not realistic to have every single one of your main characters paired up, that’s not how life works. Not everyone finds true love and that’s okay. It’s unlikely in a group of 6 or 7 teenagers that absolutely every single one of them will be paired up. Is being single as interesting as following a couple through the ups and downs of first love? No probably not. Is it important to show it anyway and show it in a positive light to encourage single teens? Absolutely.

Having single characters in YA would allow more characters to be developed on their own rather than as part of a romance. You can have the same storylines as you would if your character was in a couple, the character discovering who they are, their ambitions, their passions and in fact if you have a single character, you could focus on these things a lot more because your character isn’t being swept away in a romance. I have definitely found when writing my own YA story, I have been able to explore my MC’s ambitions, passions, and show more of her personal growth because I haven’t had to focus on a romance storyline.

I’ve also found that in books where there is a romance, that relationship becomes the main focus and all of the MC’s other relationships seem to get pushed into the background (I’m not saying in all YA books, just some). It would be great if instead of always focusing on romance, we could get some YA books that focus purely on friendship and family relationships without focusing on romances. For me anyway, my family and friends have always been more important to me than boys and it would be great to see this reflected in YA books rather than the constant focus on romance.

Having more single characters in YA would also allow for more male/female platonic relationships to be explored, which are sorely lacking in my opinion. Why can we not just have a single guy and a single girl who are just great friends? Oh I forgot, because singledom is the devil! Can we not have two happy, single, platonic girl/guy friends? Is it too much to ask for? So many great potential m/f platonic relationships have been ruined by romance and again it sends a bad message to teens. It makes it seem like if you can’t be just friends with a guy, which is obviously totally untrue. Obviously characters in a relationship can also have platonic girl/guy friends, but that’s another topic for another time!

So overall, I just want to see singleness normalized in YA fiction. To show teens that it’s okay not to have found your special someone in your teen years. That you’re not strange or unlovable if you don’t have someone. I’d love to see YA characters discovering themselves and who they are before jumping into a romantic relationship with someone. To see characters who are single by choice and happy about it. To see aromantic, asexual and demisexual characters. To see singleness portrayed as a good thing, not as something to be avoided at all costs. Single characters are sadly mostly invisible in YA fiction and that’s not a good thing. They need to be seen. So that teens like I was, who hadn’t had a boyfriend or even been on a date or had a kiss don’t feel abnormal. So that they can see themselves in the books they read. Isn’t that what all of us want? To be able to see ourselves in what we read? By not showing single teens, a significant proportion of teens are not being represented, this is not right or fair. We should embrace singleness as part of the teen experience as much, if not more, than we embrace the first love narrative. Just because it may not seem as “exciting” as the romance storyline, doesn’t mean that singleness should be erased altogether.

I have another Jo Talks post in the works which I’m very excited about, but I’m going to keep it under my hat for now, so you’ll have to wait until I post it to see what it’s all about! In the meantime however, I will have a review of my newest read, The Crown’s Game and a new Top Ten Tuesday post for you in the next few days, so stay tuned for those!


Top Ten Tuesday #95


Hey everyone! I hope you’ve had a good week so far, I’ve been extremely busy for the past couple of days applying for work experience at publishers/newspapers for over the summer, it’s actually kind of scary, reminds me that I’m an actual adult now and have to think about future career plans. When the hell did that happen? I swear I was a teenager like five minutes ago? Anyway, enough of me rambling about my strange feelings about adulthood, let’s get to the actual topic at hand. Yes, I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday for you all this week, courtesy of the lovely ladies over at The Broke and The Bookish. They’ve given us pretty much free rein with this week’s topic, making it, Top Ten Books That Need More/Less X In Them, so I’ve decided to do Top Ten Books That Need Less Romance In Them. Don’t get me wrong, I love my ships, all of them, but sometimes romance is just not want I’m after! I want sassiness, killings, adventure, banter, friendship and not always romance! Is it too much to ask to have some characters that remain single? I didn’t think so. So here we go, my Top Ten Books That Need Less/No Romance In Them:

  1. Throne of Glass series-Sarah J Maas

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Throne of Glass series and Sarah J Maas is one of my favourite authors, but as much as I enjoy some of the ships in the series, I wish everyone didn’t have to be paired off. And I think that sometimes there is a little too much focus on the romance and not enough focus on the war/death/destruction parts of the story which are actually more interesting.

2. A Study In Charlotte-Brittany Cavallaro

The romance was one of my biggest bugbears with this book. It didn’t seem at all realistic, it wasn’t well developed and honestly, I would have preferred if there had been more of a focus on Charlotte and Jamie’s friendship and them solving the mystery rather than hearing about how obsessed with Charlotte Jamie was all the time.

3. The Hunger Games Trilogy-Suzanne Collins

I loved this series, I did and I get that the romance between Katniss and Peeta was important to the plot, but I don’t see why Gale had to be added into the mix. I’m sure if the plot line had just been the star crossed lovers without a third person in the triangle then it would have been perfectly fine. And sometimes it feels like the romance overshadows the whole point of the book: Katniss entering the Games to save her sister. I wish more time had been spent on that relationship rather than her romances with Gale and Peeta.

4. Stealing Snow-Danielle Paige

Oh my goodness the romance in this one drove me crazy! There was not one love interest, not two love interests, but THREE love interests! THREE. There was no reason for that, Snow did not need to be dithering over three guys. I would have much preferred if we’d had more of Snow’s character development and her learning to use her powers, rather than her dithering over these three guys.

5. Graceling-Kristin Cashore

I just felt like the romance in this book had very little point to it at all and I wouldn’t have missed it if it wasn’t there. Plus Katsa and Po’s relationship felt so rushed and hardly developed to me, I wouldn’t have minded if they had just stayed friends, at least it felt like they had chemistry as friends, it did not feel like they had chemistry as lovers.

6. Caraval-Stephanie Garber

I actually loved the romance in this one, slow burn, characters really getting to know each other, it was everything I love in a YA romance. So it’s not so much that I would have liked the romance not to be there at all, I would have just liked a little less focus on Scarlett and Julian’s relationship (much as I loved it) and a little more focus on Scarlett and Tella’s relationship (#sisterlyloveforthewin).

7. Snow Like Ashes-Sara Raasch

The return of the dreaded love triangle! Seriously? Must we do this again? One of the reasons I got so bogged down reading this book was having to read page after page of Meira drooling over either Mather or Theron or at points both. I’d much rather have had more Primoria history (cause that was actually more interesting than the story itself sometimes!) or them saving the Winterians, focusing on what actually needed to be done, rather than which beau Meira found cuter at that point in time.

8. Slated-Teri Terry

UGH I HATED THE ROMANCE IN THIS BOOK! Kyla just went on and on about how she loved Ben, without even really knowing him at all. There were many reasons why I disliked this book, but the romance was a major factor and I could definitely have done with less of it in this book (which is saying something since there’s not all that much in there to start off with!).

9. Red Queen-Victoria Aveyard

Whilst I appreciated that the romance in this book took a backseat, I still wish that there hadn’t been a love triangle and that the chemistry between Mare/Cal and Mare/Maven had felt more present. It’s not the worst book with romance that I’ve ever read, but I’d have loved it if there was more focus on Mare’s growth on her own without the need for the romance aspect. Or if there had just been the focus on Mare with one love interest, rather than two.

10. A Court of Thorns and Roses-Sarah J Maas

I mean this book reads more like a romance novel that just happens to be set in a fantasy world. Take out the Fae and it would pretty much be just that. I get that the romance was key to the plot of the book, but I could have done with less of the sex and more of Feyre’s family relationships, development of the faeries, seeing the different worlds etc. The book obviously wouldn’t work without the romance, but I think it could have been toned down a little and still been a good book.

I’m going to stop there, because otherwise I might go overboard! As you can tell, not the biggest romance fan! Have you read any of these books? Did you think there was too much romance? Any books that you’ve read that you think have too much romance? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, the topic is naturally Valentine’s related (ugh) and it’s Top Ten Favourite Romance Tropes/Types. I’m going to go with my Top Ten Favourite Slow Burn Romances (since those are the only types of romance I actually like). That’s next week but in the meantime, I have a discussion post that I’m hoping to have up by the end of the week, so stay tuned for that!

#RockMyTBR January Update (2017)

Hi everyone! I can’t believe it’s time for my first #RockMyTBR update of 2017. It’s been an….interesting first month of the year, lots of good stuff but also quite a bit of stressful stuff too, but that’s life I suppose! Anyway, as you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, the #RockMyTBR challenge is a reading challenge run by Sarah K over at The Book Traveller, where she challenges you to cut down on your TBR through the year. I took part in this challenge last year and am excited to see if I can complete it again this year. As with last year, my aim is to read at least one book a month from the list. The first month has gone pretty well, I read the book I wanted to read from the list as well as two others. This is what I read this month:

a-study-in-charlotteA Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro:

This was my #RockMyTBR book for January. I started this on the 2nd January and finished it on the 13th. This wasn’t a bad book, but it’s not my favourite mystery I’ve ever read, the characters and plot just fell a little flat for me. It was however interesting enough that I’d like to read the second one, which is hope is better. Here is my review of it:

every-breathEvery Breath by Ellie Marney:

This was my second book of January which I read from 14th-31st January. It had a decent mystery, a shippable romance and realistic characters and families, so despite it being slow, I still really enjoyed it! Here is my review of it:

caraval-2Caraval by Stephanie Garber:

This was my Netgalley read for this month, I read it from 2nd January-3rd February. It was so good, beautiful writing, vivid worldbuilding, great characters and lots of twists and turns made for a very gripping read!

So that’s what I’ve read in January, this is what I’ve got coming up in February:

The Crown’s Game-Evelyn Skye-This is my #RockMyTBR read for February. I started it a few days ago and it’s pretty good so far, though I haven’t got fully into it yet.

Traitor To The Throne-Alwyn Hamilton-My Netgalley read for the month. This has been on the back burner for a bit whilst I finished Caraval, but hopefully I’ll manage to finish it this month.

The Invisible Library-Genevieve Cogman-I bought this with a gift card that I got for Christmas, so I’m excited to get to it because it sounds really good.

A Conjuring of Light-VE Schwab-I won’t finish it this month as it only comes out at the end of February, but I will definitely be starting it as soon as it comes out because it is one of my most anticipated releases of 2017!

I’ve started this year of reading pretty well I think, so I’m hoping that this trend continues and the rest of my 2017 reading goes as well. How are you all doing with your 2017 reading goals so far? Let me know!


Caraval Review (e-ARC)

caraval-2 Book: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

Published By: Hodder and Stoughton

Expected Publication: 31st January

Format: e-book

I received this book for free via Netgalley, this in no way affected my opinion of this book.

As always, thanks to Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for allowing me to read this book.

This has been a much hyped book for months, and it was only published four days ago, so naturally when I received it for review, I was both very excited, and very nervous in case I didn’t find the book as brilliant as everyone else seemed to have. Thankfully, despite a slightly rocky start, I ended up really enjoying Stephanie Garber’s debut offering, it was a magical, mysterious, wonderful world, with interesting and complex characters and I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store! Here is a short synopsis of the book (in case anyone has totally missed the hype and has no idea what the book is about!):

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

First off, I loved, loved, loved the map at the start of the book. I’m a total sucker for a book with a beautifully drawn map in it and this book was no exception. It was great having the map there, because it meant I could picture where everything was in Caraval.

I found the book a little slow to start with, Scarlett seemed kind of bland, there were a lot of mysteries introduced and random anecdotes about Caraval that Scarlett had learned from her grandmother, and lots of letters Scarlett had sent to the master of Caraval. I just found everything a little confusing to start off with, we were just thrown into this world with little introduction, but as the story went on and Scarlett’s character developed, I found myself being more and more drawn into the book.

I guess first of all I should talk about Scarlett since she was the main character of the book. She seemed very bland to me at first, she was quite meek, a rule follower, perfectly happy to simply go along with marrying this guy she had never even met, she’s incredibly overdramatic as well. However this all makes sense given her horribly abusive father, and I loved how slowly throughout the book as she gets more entrenched in Caraval, she becomes more daring, more determined, more independent and it’s just lovely to see her flourish through the book. Whereas at the beginning I felt a little indifferent to Scarlett, by the end I was truly rooting for her. Also her love for her sister is inspiring and it leaps off the page which was great and I liked that Scarlett and Tella had such contrasting personalities. I found the way that Scarlett felt in colours very strange though, I know the author likely did it to add to the imagery of the book, which is great and everything, it just seemed a little weird to me.

I loved the setting, everything about Caraval just screamed “magic”, and Stephanie Garber’s writing was so beautiful and vivid that it felt as if Caraval was coming to life as I was reading it, all the tunnels and shops and the carousel and the roses and everything just sounded so beautiful that I instantly fell in love with it. It’s strange, I usually don’t like overly descriptive writing, but I loved it here, it just fitted so well with the setting and it never felt over done or anything, it just added to the magical feel of the book. All the aesthetics are so beautiful, it’s a very visually pleasing book!

I wasn’t sure about Julian at first, but as with Scarlett, I grew to really like him by the end of the book. He was mysterious and intriguing and cheeky and charming but there’s also a softer, kinder, more vulnerable side to him and I loved how much he clearly cared for Scarlett. It kind of frustrated me how long it took to learn his secrets, because he’s clearly hiding something all the way through, but in the best way possible because the pay off was so good when I finally found it out! He is definitely a new book boyfriend!

I also really enjoyed the romance. I liked that it was there, but not in the forefront, Scarlett’s personal development felt like it was the driving factor of this story which was great. It was a really nice, seductive, slow burn romance, exactly the kind that I love, there was no instalove, it was just these two people, getting to know each other, then trust each other and eventually falling in love, which is exactly the way it should be in my opinion.

Much as I loved Scarlett’s love for her sister, I did wish the two of them had more scenes together, as I would like to have seen more of their sisterly relationship, rather than just being told through Scarlett how much she loved her sister. I get that this wasn’t really possible given that the whole point of Scarlett playing Caraval is to find her sister, but I just would have liked to have seen more of their relationship, especially since I really liked Tella so it would have been nice to see more of her character.

The chapters were pretty short and there was a lot of twists and turns throughout the book, so basically once Scarlett and Julian got into Caraval, it was pretty much full on right until the end. I loved all the twists and turns throughout the game, it made it feel more real, that it wasn’t simple for Scarlett to find Tella, she had to really work for it.

I also loved all the world building, through the book you get a real glimpse at the history of Caraval, and that just added to sense of mystery and intrigue about the game.

The ending was mean! Just when I thought everything was going to be wrapped up and everything would be okay, that ending happened and now I just need to know what’s going to happen next!

I don’t really want to say much more as I could being getting into spoilery territory soon, so let me just say that it’s a beautifully crafted, wonderfully written story, with amazing characters and an incredibly vivid and engaging setting. Magic practically drips off the pages, so if you love vivid worlds, magic, interesting and complex characters and incredibly pretty writing (plus a gorgeous map!) then this is the story for you! I’m so excited to see what happens in book 2!

My Rating: 4/5

My next review will be of my current read The Crown’s Game, so stay tuned for that!