Top Ten Tuesday #320

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a good week since I last did one of these, mine has once again been fairly quiet, I have a riding lesson later on this afternoon though, so I’m really looking forward to that. I’m also finally getting my first vaccine dose this week so naturally I’m very excited about that, it’s been a long time coming!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is the annual Summer TBR topic and once again, I have to admit that I didn’t do great on my Spring TBR, I only read 3 out of the 12 books, as my reading slump continues to persist. I’m hoping that this summer I will finally break the slump, as summer is usually a great reading time for me. So here it is, my Summer TBR:

  1. Sorcery of Thorns-Margaret Rogerson

My current read which I just started yesterday. I’m buddy reading this with a couple of other members of the YA Addicted Book Club on Goodreads, and though I’ve only read the first chapter so far, I already have a good feeling about this book, so I hope I’m proved right!

2. The Poppy War-RF Kuang

My current audiobook read, I’m about four hours in and I have to admit, I’m not quite sure about it. I’m not really loving the narrator and it’s been kind of slow thus far, though I’m sure it will probably pick up the further through I get.

3. Ariadne-Jennifer Saint

My current Netgalley read, I’m about 40% of the way through and I’m enjoying it though it is taking me a while to get through.

4. Scarlet-AC Gaughen

One of my #RockMyTBR reads for the year, though I’ve got super off track with the challenge because The Unbound took me so long to read, so I’ll be trying to catch up on the books I’ve missed over the past three months during the rest of the year. This is a nice short one so hopefully shouldn’t take too long to read, and I’m looking forward to it as gender-swapped stories are something I usually quite like.

5. Where Dreams Descend-Janella Angeles

I meant to read this in March but I just wasn’t feeling it due to my slump and I really didn’t want that to influence my opinions on the book as it genuinely does sound like something I’ll like when I’m in the right mood, so I’m hoping that will happen over the summer. This is another one of my TBR challenge books that got pushed to the wayside because it took me so long to get through The Unbound.

6. The Last Magician-Lisa Maxwell

This is meant to be my #RockMyTBR book for next month, we will see if I actually get around to it then or not, as I’ve been so behind on all my reading this year! I wasn’t a massive fan of the last Lisa Maxwell book I read, Unhooked, but this sounds far more my kind of thing: heists and historical New York with magic? Yes please!

7. This Poison Heart-Kalynn Bayron

I have this on Netgalley and I’m really looking forward to reading it, I really enjoyed Bayron’s last book, Cinderella Is Dead and this one sounds just as good, it’s set in a creepy old mansion with plant magic and family secrets and LGBTQ+ representation. I can’t wait to read it.

8. Witchshadow-Susan Dennard

I read all of the first three books in the Witchlands series last year, so naturally I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series. It’s Iseult’s book as well which I imagine will be really interesting as there are a lot of secrets about Iseult still to uncover. This is another Netgalley one, I went on a bit of requesting spree earlier in the year which I’m kind of regretting now.

9. Six Crimson Cranes-Elizabeth Lim

Another result of my Netgalley requesting spree. I wasn’t a massive fan of Spin The Dawn, but I thought I’d give this new book of Elizabeth Lim’s a try because I always like finding unique fairytale retellings and plus, the cover is so gorgeous!

10. The Fair Botanists-Sara Sheridan

The final of my Netgalley request spree books that I need to read over the summer. This one certainly sounds very unique, it’s a historical fiction set in 1822 and surrounds this really rare plant that only flowers once every few decades. Honestly the blurb doesn’t say much more than that, but I love historical fiction that centres women so that’s all I really needed to know.

So that’s my Summer TBR, I don’t know how much of this I will get through given my continuing reading slump but I’m hoping I’ll get through at least a few of them! What’s on your Summer TBR? Have you read any of these (of the ones that are already out)? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, the theme is meant to be Bookish Wishes, but honestly I’ve already pre-ordered most of the books I want for this year, so I think I’m going to change up the topic and talk about Books I Most Recently Added To My Bookshelves as I’ve bought quite a few exciting books lately!

Top Ten Tuesday #319

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week since I last did one of these, mine has been fairly quiet, I was mostly doing more training for my job and completing my latest assessment for my intensive Spanish course. I’m going to see my friends this weekend though, our first indoor meeting since lockdown so I’m super excited for that.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Books I Loved That Made Me Want More Like Them, which is slightly confusing phrasing but basically it means books that you read that made you want to find similar ones after reading them. I love this topic since I think like all readers, when I love a book I want to go out and find similar ones! So here we go:

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic-VE Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic became one of my favourite books after reading it and thus started my love of VE Schwab. Since I read ADSOM in 2016, I’ve now read almost all of both Schwab’s back catalogue and the books she’s released since then. I actually now only have two more of her books left to read (discounting the Everyday Angel books because I feel like they’re a bit young for me!), her debut, The Near Witch and the latest Cassidy Blake book Bridge of Souls. I also have the rest of The Steel Prince comics (I haven’t read The Night of Knives or The Rebel Army arcs yet) and her new ExtraOrdinary comics to read.

2. My Sister’s Keeper-Jodi Picoult

My Sister’s Keeper is definitely not my usual kind of read, but I loved it so much that I then went out and bought most of Jodi Picoult’s back catalogue and her new books usually make it straight onto my pre-order list (barring her upcoming release because it’s about the pandemic and I’m really just not ready to read any pandemic books yet. I’ve watched some shows that have featured it, but by and large, I’m generally staying away from any pandemic related media). She has a huge back catalogue and I haven’t been interested in reading all of her books because some of the subject matter hasn’t interested me, but I’ve read 18 out of her 24 published books so it’s safe to say I’m a fan!

3. The Lightning Thief-Rick Riordan

I may have reached a point where I feel like I’ve outgrown Rick Riordan’s books (though I do want to finish the Trials of Apollo series eventually) but when I first read The Lightning Thief at 14, I devoured the entire PJO series and over the next (almost) decade read as much of his work as I could get my hands on (barring The Kane Chronicles as for some reason they never interested me much). I’d always been fascinated by Greek mythology but Percy Jackson definitely took it to a whole new level!

4. The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins

This is more of a genre thing rather than an author thing, The Hunger Games was the start of my dystopian obsession: though it was fairly short lived, I think it lasted about 3 or 4 years! But because of reading The Hunger Games, I searched out other dystopian books and read (and enjoyed to varying degrees of success): Neal Shusterman’s Unwind series, James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, Julianna Baggott’s Pure Trilogy, Sarah Crossan’s Breathe duology and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. The Hunger Games wasn’t actually the first dystopian book I read, that was Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses, but it was the first one that made me want to go and search out other books like it.

5. Six of Crows-Leigh Bardugo

My first introduction to the Grishaverse and I loved Kaz Brekker’s misfit gang of criminals so much that I immediately searched out all of the other Grisha books that I could get my hands on. Six of Crows is still my favourite Bardugo book, but I’ve happily bought everything that she’s brought out since. I’ve yet to read Rule of Wolves but I’m super excited to do so.

6. Skulduggery Pleasant-Derek Landy

I fell in love with Landy’s magical skeleton detective pretty instantly when I was 12 and over the next six years read every Skulduggery book that came out, plus the Demon Road trilogy. I’ve felt fairly mixed about the more recent additions to the Skulduggery series, I don’t think they’ve been as good as the original series, but I’m still going to be quite sad when the final book of the series is released next year as it will definitely be the end of an era of my reading life-these books have been with me for over half my life now!

7. Matilda-Roald Dahl

I am aware now that Roald Dahl’s views were pretty heinous (antisemitic, racist, misogynist), so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend his books now, but when I was a kid, I really did love them and Matilda was one of the first books that made me feel seen as a young reader, so naturally I searched out his other books after reading it.

8. Code Name Verity-Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity remains one of my favourite WWII stories I’ve ever read: it’s all about female friendship, it’s so cleverly woven together (one of the best unreliable narrator books I’ve read), it highlights women’s work in WWII and has a number of heartbreaking plot twists. I’ve read all of Wein’s Verity related books since then (Rose Under Fire, The Pearl Thief and The Enigma Game) and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

9. Dangerous Girls-Abigail Haas

Reading Abigail Haas’ messed up, brilliantly twisty YA thriller definitely made me want more messed up, brilliantly twisted thrillers. I’ve had mixed results, nothing has quite reached the heights of the shocking plot twist of this book, I’ve found some that I’ve really enjoyed and some that have been quite underwhelming but it was this book that made me want to read more mystery/thriller-esque stories.

10. Timekeeper-Tara Sim

Tara Sim’s brilliantly creative Victorian steampunk-esque alternative historical fantasy starring a gay clock mechanic and his pansexual clock spirit boyfriend definitely got me more interested in reading historical fantasy. I’m not sure if this was the first historical fantasy I’ve ever read, but I definitely remember searching out for them a lot more after reading this book. I really recommend this trilogy to everyone, it’s woefully underrated and SO SO GOOD.

So there we go, those are some books I loved that made me want more like them, whether it was books by the same author or in the same genre. Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? What books have you read that made you seek out books like them? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is my annual Summer TBR list, my Spring TBR did not go very well, thanks to my ongoing reading slump, so I’m hoping that I can do better with my reading over the summer than I did over the spring!

Top Ten Tuesday #318

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a great week since I last did one of these, sorry for the late post, I’ve spent most of the day editing something else and only just got around to it now. My week has been fairly quiet, I’ve got a lot of training stuff to do for my new job so I’m going to be spending the rest of the week doing that.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is a freebie topic, so I’m finishing off my seasonal covers set of topics with Summery Book Covers. These are my Winter, Spring and Autumn cover posts if you’d like to see the rest of the set. So here we go, some Summery Book Covers:

  1. King of Scars-Leigh Bardugo
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Whilst I tend to think the content of Leigh Bardugo’s books falls into a more Autumn/Winter aesthetic, the bright gold of this cover definitely exudes more of a summery feel.

2. Girls In Pants-Ann Brashares

Girls in Pants (Summers Of The Sisterhood): Amazon.co.uk: Brashares, Ann:  Books
I couldn’t do a list of summery covers without including this one since for me, it’s a quintessential summer book and summer is so important to the story. I know the blue on the cover is meant to be like the jeans (I’m sorry American friends, I can’t call trousers pants even in the context of the book, it just feels wrong) but to me it kind of reminds me of the ocean. There’s also a lot of nature on the book, which I think fits summer just as well as Spring.

3. The Girl From Everywhere-Heidi Heilig

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Again, it’s the ocean connection for me. I know the ocean is there all year round but I’ve always thought of it in connection to summer since that’s generally when you go on beach holidays. I think all the bright colours on this also make it feel quite summery.

4. Sixsational-Meg Cabot

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I feel like this one is fairly obvious, the bright yellow being like the sun. Also though I’m not really a seasonal reader, I think The Princess Diaries fit quite neatly into the sorts of books that people usually choose for beach reads.

5. Finale-Stephanie Garber

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I usually think of red as a more autumnal colour than a summery one, but I chose Finale for this topic rather than that one because I just felt like it fitted better with my summer covers than my Autumn ones. Also honestly because I didn’t think of it when I did that topic last year!

6. Fire Storm-Andrew Lane

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Much like Sixsational and King of Scars, Fire Storm is on this list because of the bright yellow. I also think it’s quite cool how this cover combines summery colours with the darker imagery of the skull.

7. The Priory of The Orange Tree-Samantha Shannon

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Any excuse to share this beautiful cover! In a theme here, I chose this cover largely because of the yellow-orange background which I feel are very summery colours and also because it’s very bright.

8. Sky Breaker-Addie Thorley

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The burnished gold of this cover definitely feels very summery and the fact that it’s supposed to reflect the sun makes it fit this topic very well. I love the contrast between the covers of the two books in this duology, the first book is definitely the night sky and this one is the morning. It works very well!

9. Six Crimson Cranes-Elizabeth Lim

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I mean I could see the argument for this fitting into either Winter or Spring book covers too, but I think that the pale pastel colours fit the summery theme too. The whole palette of the book kind of reminds me of a sunset which I really love.

10. The Exact Opposite of Okay-Laura Steven

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The big burst of colour in the background is what makes this feel very summery for me.

So there we go, those are some summery covers for you! What do you think? Do you agree with my choices? Do you think any fit into other seasons as well (don’t worry if you disagree with me, I don’t mind!)? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Books I Loved That Made Me Want More Books Like Them, and since when I find a fave book, I love finding similar ones, this should be a fun one for me.

Top Ten Tuesday #317


Hi everyone! I hope you’ve been having a good week since I last did one of these. I had a really nice time with my friend last week, it was great to catch up and I also really enjoyed going riding, I haven’t been for a hack in ages, and the Scottish countryside is glorious. I’m back home now, getting stuff sorted for my new job.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic was Top Ten Book Quotes on whatever theme we chose, so I’ve decided to share my Top Ten History themed Book Quotes, as a great excuse to let out my inner History nerd. I wanted to make sure I only used quotes from books I’d read, but that idea kind of fizzled out towards the end, so there are couple on here from books I haven’t read. Anyway, here we go:

  1. “History is something you look back on, not something you really feel at the time. In the moment you’re just…..living” -The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, VE Schwab

I read this one last year and this particular quote definitely resonated with me hugely because of the pandemic. Like I know we’ve all been living through something historically significant in the past year but it’s not something you necessarily think about in the day to day, mostly what I thought of during lockdown was how bored I was and how much I wanted it to be over!

2. “Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end…..everyone wants to be remembered.” -The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, VE Schwab

This is part of a longer quote, but I decided to just share this part because it was the bit that I found the most poignant.

3. “History isn’t about the dates and the places and the wars. It’s about the people who fill the spaces between them.” -The Storyteller, Jodi Picoult

This quote basically sums up why I fell in love with History in the first place and why I ended up studying it at University, there’s a common misconception that studying History is all about memorizing a lot of dates, and whilst there is that, it’s far more about learning about people’s stories from kings and queens, to everyday people doing extraordinary things.

4. “But she wondered why beautiful things had to be wrapped up with evil history. Or was it the other way around? Maybe the evil history made it necessary to build beautiful things, to mask the darker aspects.” -The Mark of Athena, Rick Riordan

Surprisingly poignant for a Percy Jackson book! With everything that’s happened in the last year, Black Lives Matter making everyone think more about our colonial history, this quote is definitely something that’s taken on a new resonance for me.

5. “Nothing but a symbol? People die for symbols. People have hope because of symbols. They’re not just lines, they’re histories, cultures, traditions, given shape.” -The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves series talks a lot about history, particularly with regards to colonialism and the people left out by mainstream history so there were a lot of quotes to choose from but I picked this one because I thought it was a particularly powerful one.

6. “Depending on who you ask, sometimes ghost stories are all that is left of history. History is full of ghosts because it is full of myth. All of it is woven together depending on who survived to do the telling.” -The Silvered Serpents, Roshani Chokshi

Another beautifully poignant quote from The Gilded Wolves series, which again captures another of the reasons why I love history, it really is just an extension of my love of stories!

7. “History was haunted by the ghosts of buried crimes, which required periodic exorcisms of truth.” -Lair of Dreams, Libba Bray

This whole series explores a lot about history, looking at how crimes of the past have haunted people of the future and this quote really embodies that.

8. “Where I’m from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true….we call it history” -Wicked, Gregory Maguire

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read Wicked, I know this because it’s a line in the song Wonderful in the musical. It always makes me laugh though because it is true: not that everything in history is made up, more that we’re only ever presented with one person’s or one version of the “truth” and in actual fact there’s almost always a lot more to the story than the version we are presented with.

9. “The past stays on you the way powdered sugar stays on your fingers. Some people can get rid of it but it’s still there, the events and things that pushed you to where you are now.” -The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus isn’t one of my favourite books but I found this quote when I was looking for content for this week’s post and really loved it. The writing in this book is really lovely, it’s a shame the plot was kind of thin.

10. “Well behaved women seldom make history.” -Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History, Laurel Thatcher Urich

This is one of my favourite ever quotes and I had no idea it was from a book, or at least used in a book so it counted for this topic. It’s sometimes misquoted as “rarely make history” but I think this is the right one. Anyway, I just really love this one because it’s so true: my favourite women from history were definitely not well-behaved!

So there we go, some of my favourite history related book quotes! Have you read any of these books? Which one of these quotes is your favourite? What theme did you choose this week? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is a freebie, so I’m going to be doing Summery Book Covers to complete my Seasonal Book cover topics set!

Top Ten Tuesday #316

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all been having a good week since I last did one of these, it’s my last week of my holiday in Scotland and I’ve got some fun plans for this week, I’m going to see a friend tomorrow and I’m going riding with my dad on Saturday so it should be a nice week.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week was meant to be Book Titles That Are Complete Sentences, but I found it really hard to come up with titles for that, so I’ve tweaked it slightly and gone for Book Titles With Character Names. This seems to be a trend mainly for children’s/middle grade books but I did find a few YA and adult books that also had character names in the title. So here we go:

  1. Mia Goes Fourth-Meg Cabot

The fourth book in the Princess Diaries series following reluctant Princess Mia Thermopolis and her adventures in learning to be a princess whilst still trying to be a normal teenager and her up and down relationship with Michael Moscovitz. I read this one a while back so I can’t really remember exactly what I thought about it, but I do remember that Book Mia annoyed me way more than Movie Mia did.

2. A Study in Charlotte-Brittany Cavallaro

Holmes’ and Watson’s descendants Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are framed for murder and have to solve the case and find the real killer to clear their names. I wasn’t a fan of this, I’m usually a fan of mysteries but the character spoiled this one for me. The mystery was actually relatively engaging, but Charlotte and Jamie were merely carbon copies of Holmes and Watson without any real personalities of their own. Jamie also had some unaddressed anger issues that I wasn’t thrilled with. There are four books in this series, but I have no plans to read the rest.

3. Artemis Fowl and The Opal Deception-Eoin Colfer

All the books in the Artemis Fowl series have the main character’s name in them, but I chose the fourth one for my list because it was my favourite of the series. It marked the return of main series villain, pixie Opal Koboi and her renewed efforts at rebellion, that combined with the fallout of the events of The Eternity Code made this a very exciting book.

4. What Katy Did-Susan Coolidge

I read this one a while back, so I don’t remember everything about it, but I do remember enjoying reading about Katy’s hijinks.

5. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory-Roald Dahl

I’m sure most people are probably familiar with Roald Dahl’s story of a young boy who wins the chance to visit Willy Wonka’s amazing chocolate factory. Roald Dahl was a childhood staple for me and I remember really enjoying this book as a kid (though I am more aware of Dahl’s many issues now than I was when I was a kid).

6. The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina-Caroline Lawrence

One of my favourite series as a kid (though I never did actually finish it, I borrowed most of the books from the library and found them difficult to find after the 10th one). This sixth book follows heroine Flavia Gemina as she attempts to uncover the motives of a mysterious widow pursuing her father. This wasn’t my favourite book in the series because despite Flavia being the main character in the series, I always remember liking Jonathan and Nubia more than I did her.

7. Rose Under Fire-Elizabeth Wein

A companion novel of sorts to Code Name Verity, this story follows ATA pilot Rose Justice as she is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück. I didn’t love this one as much as Code Name Verity, but it was still an incredibly emotional read (I actually cried whilst reading which is not something I ever do) and I found the main character very relatable. I also really loved how female focused this book was as one of my favourite aspects of Code Name Verity was its focus on female friendship and that’s true of this book too.

8. Magnus Chase and The Sword of Summer-Rick Riordan

The first book in Rick Riordan’s Norse mythology series. I know a lot of people didn’t like this series as much as Percy Jackson, but I really enjoyed it, especially this first book. Magnus does have some similarities with Percy but I didn’t think he was a carbon copy which seemed to be a complaint many people had. It was a super fun story and I love learning more about Norse mythology which I wasn’t massively familiar with before reading this book. I also really loved that this series has a platonic male/female friendship in it because they are still infuriatingly difficult to find in books!

9. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue-VE Schwab

I’m sure I probably don’t need to tell you guys what this one is about, given how big it has been since its release. Addie is definitely very different to the types of books I usually like, slower, more descriptive and more romance focused but I really enjoyed it. I loved the characters and was definitely drawn into the emotion of the story. The plot definitely could have been stronger, but the fact that I loved the characters, especially Henry made up for that.

10. Blue Lily, Lily Blue-Maggie Stiefvater

The third book of The Raven Cycle was actually my least favourite of the series because it felt fairly fillery, it felt more like it existed to be the bridge book before the final conclusion than having much plot of its own. The plot were it did exist also felt fairly muddled and was kind of hard to follow. Six years after reading this book I honestly couldn’t tell you much about it, and I think that tells you all you need to know.

So there we go, those are some books with character names in the title! Can you think of any books that have characters’ names in the title? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Book Quotes on whichever theme we chose and since I am a History nerd, I’m going to share History themed book quotes.

Top Ten Tuesday #315

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I finally got some good news on a temp job at Cambridge’s vaccination centre so I’m really happy about that. I’m still applying for journalism jobs but it’s so nice to finally have some good job news after the past year.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is another cover one, apparently this year is the year of cover posts for me! Anyway, this week’s cover topic is Books With Nature on The Cover, and I’ve tried to avoid floral covers as much as possible since I already shared a lot of those for my Spring Book Covers post. So here we go, Books With Nature on The Cover:

  1. Rule of Wolves-Leigh Bardugo
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I have to admit the Rule of Wolves cover wasn’t quite what I was expecting, I was expecting wolves, not a tree to be the centrepiece of the cover. This picture also doesn’t really do the cover justice as it’s much more vibrant than this in real life, it’s silver and red which is very striking, this picture kind of makes it look a dull grey. I still think it’s a really cool cover though and I especially love the little animal details in the corner with the wolf, the fox (!!!), the eagle and then I think maybe a dragon of some sort at the top. It’s definitely a very nature filled cover, so perfect for this prompt.

2. The Raven Boys-Maggie Stiefvater

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You’ll be seeing a lot of bird themed covers in this list because apparently they are very popular! I love the whole Raven Cycle series cover, the art style with the watercolour drawings is so lovely. I love how much detail there is on this cover as well, the swirls on the wings that kind of look like eyes, the little red section that looks like a heart, it’s all so beautifully done and it looks like such a lifelike bird as well.

3. Paper and Fire-Rachel Caine

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The UK editions of the Great Library series all have some kind of animal themed design on the front, the first book has a butterfly, this one is a bird, the third has a lion, the fourth a dragon and the fifth a dog. This one is my favourite though, I think the bird (which I want to say is either a crow or a raven) is really striking, and I love the colours in the cover.

4. A Thousand Perfect Notes-CG Drews

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I love this one because it’s really unique, the idea of the just one butterfly wing as the design is not something I’ve really seen before. I love the colours, the way the light pink fades into the darker red and black at the tips of the wings, and it’s super cool how if you have two copies and you put the front and back covers together, it makes a whole butterfly.

5. An Enchantment of Ravens-Margaret Rogerson

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I may not have been that keen on the actual book but I definitely can’t deny that this cover is beautiful. The autumnal colours come through really well, suiting the story and I love how the bird blends beautifully into the cover.

6. The Surface Breaks-Louise O’Neill

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I’ve heard some not so great stuff about this book from my friend which was a little disappointing as I was really looking forward to reading it, but I can’t deny the cover is striking, and there’s plenty of ocean creatures in there with the fish and starfish.

7. Blanca & Roja-Anna-Marie McLemore

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I’m not a fan of swans, but I can’t deny that this cover is striking! I love how the two swans are nestled together and that you could almost miss the second one if you weren’t looking closely.

8. Because You Love To Hate Me-Anthology with multiple authors

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Okay so I lied, I do have a couple of floral covers for this one. The colour is definitely what stands out for me on this one, bright pink is not a cover choice I tend to see often. I love how the flower looks kind of metallic, the combination of both delicate and sharp is really well done.

9. Uprooted-Naomi Novik

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I wish I’d enjoyed this book more because everyone else seems to love it, but unfortunately I wasn’t a massive fan. However it definitely fits the nature theme with the rose and the trees. It’s not my favourite of the covers on this list though.

10. The Hunger Games Trilogy-Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games books were an obvious choice for this theme, since birds play a pretty large part in the story and on the covers. They’ve had many different covers for this series, but my favourites are still the original covers that the copies I read had, I love the really minimal design, I think it really suits the books and the pop of colour from the mockingjay symbols on a black background works really well.

So there we go, those are my Nature book covers! What do you think? Which of these was your favourite cover? Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Book Titles That Are Complete Sentences, and I have to admit, I’m a little stumped by this topic, so I’m going to look into it but if I can’t come up with any then I’ll just dig in the archives for something else.

Top Ten Tuesday #314

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I’m up in Stirling for the next three weeks on holiday with my family so it will be nice being somewhere other than at home for a while!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so that means another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s is a fairly straightforward one, Ten Most Recent Reads, though I have to admit, I’ve not read as many books this year as I would have liked to as I’ve been in an extended reading slump since January and haven’t actually finished an awful lot of books, so a few of these will be from the end of last year. But here we go, my Ten Most Recent Reads:

  1. The Unbound-VE Schwab-Current read

I’d hoped to have finished this by the time I did this post but unfortunately I seem to have stalled at around Chapter 24. I don’t know how much of it is my reading slump and how much is the book but I’m not enjoying it as much as I would normally enjoy a Schwab book.

2. Olive, Mabel & Me-Andrew Cotter-Finished 14th April

One of my favourite reads of this year, I loved listening to Andrew Cotter talk about his adventures with his Labradors, a fun, short listen was exactly what I needed after finishing a lengthy audiobook.

3. Lore-Alexandra Bracken-Finished 31st March

I was really looking forward to this one and unfortunately felt quite let down by it. It was complicated and confusing with flat characters and far too much violent misogyny. Such a shame because I usually love Greek mythology based books so much and it sounded so promising.

4. The Silvered Serpents-Roshani Chokshi-Finished 9th March

The Gilded Wolves was one of my favourite books of last year, so I was a little disappointed that I didn’t love The Silvered Serpents quite as much. It was very slow paced, and the plot was fairly thin on the ground, the fact that I already loved the characters was the saving grace of this book. I’m still looking forward to The Bronzed Beasts and I hope it is better for me than this one was.

5. The Midnight Library-Matt Haig-Finished 31st January

The concept for The Midnight Library was great. The execution? Somewhat lacking. It was quite slow for such a short book and I found the characterisation of Nora fairly flat, plus the world building around The Midnight Library was more minimal than I would have liked. The ending also really annoyed me because it felt super predictable.

6. Seasons of War-Derek Landy-Finished 9th January

I was SO DISAPPOINTED. I love Skulduggery Pleasant so much, and this was such a let down. It was so slow, it had too many weird tangential subplots & the writing was weaker than it has been in other books. I did appreciate the focus on Val’s mental health journey because that isn’t featured enough in fantasy books, but that was one of the few good aspects in an otherwise very messy book.

7. Kingdom of The Wicked-Keri Mansicalco-Finished 31st December

In a running theme of this list apparently, I was a little disappointed with this book. It was a super hyped release and it ended up being fairly underwhelming for me? It was very slow paced, the world building was weak and I found Emilia kind of bland as a main character. I loved the concept for the book but I didn’t think the execution lived up to it.

8. Good Omens-Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman-Finished 17th December

UGH I WAS SO SAD ABOUT THIS ONE. I loved the TV miniseries, I thought it was so fun and the book? Not so much. The plot was confusing and difficult to follow, it relied on a lot of racist, sexist and homophobic stereotypes for its humour and the pacing was super off. Definitely recommend the TV show more for this one.

9. The Book of Two Ways-Jodi Picoult-Finished 12th December

I love Jodi Picoult books but this one wasn’t her best. The premise was great, kind of like a Sliding Doors deal, but I felt overloaded with all the technical information and there were too many subplots to the story, so it felt like the plot lacked focus. I also found it difficult to like or connect to Dawn which made it hard to enjoy the book.

10. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin-Roseanne A. Brown-Finished 26th November

I feel like all I’ve done is complain about the books I’ve read in this list, so let’s end up on a happier note: I really enjoyed this one! There were a few pacing issues (unusually for me, fast pacing rather than slow!) and the magic system was slightly confusing but I really loved the characters and the plot was generally exciting and engaging, I’m looking forward to the sequel coming out later this year.

So there we go, those were my ten most recent reads. It’s been a pretty slow and underwhelming reading year so far for me, so I really hope that changes soon! How much have you read this year? Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next Tuesday with another Top Ten Tuesday, this time we’ll be talking about Books With Nature on The Cover, so another cover topic for you all (hey you got a brief break from it this week!).

Book Vs Movie: Shadow and Bone

Hi everyone! In a surprise to exactly no one, today’s Book Vs Movie is actually a Book Vs TV as I’ll be talking about Netflix’s adaptation of Shadow and Bone (and to a limited extent Six of Crows) as like many of you I’m sure, I binged it over the past weekend.

Book Thoughts:

So the show largely focuses on the characters of Six of Crows rather than the plot of the book (since Shadow and Bone is set several years before and the show combines the Crows into the Shadow and Bone plot) but I’ll talk about my thoughts on both. I read Six of Crows before Shadow & Bone, in 2017, and I really enjoyed it, I loved the characters and the world and though the story had its pacing problems, it was still a really engaging read.

Shadow and Bone on the other hand, I felt a little more lukewarm about. It’s clear that Bardugo has improved a lot since her debut, and whilst Shadow and Bone wasn’t a bad book, it felt a lot like all the other fantasy books which were published at the same time. Alina wasn’t as fun a protagonist as the Crows and like Six of Crows, it was kind of slow to get going and the payoff wasn’t as good.

Here are my full reviews of both books if you want to see my more detailed thoughts:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/14/shadow-and-bone-shadow-and-bone-1-review/
Shadow and Bone (TV Series 2021– ) - IMDb

TV Thoughts:

I was a little worried when I heard that they were going to adapt Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone together, as I couldn’t really see how they were going to overlap the two stories, given that Six of Crows takes place in a different part of the world and takes place several years after the end of the events of the Grisha trilogy. I have to say though, I was really pleasantly surprised! I thought the crossover worked well, having the Crows integrated into the Shadow and Bone story made me enjoy it more than I did in the book and the way they did it made a lot of sense (having the Crows be on a job to “steal” Alina). The Nina and Matthias story didn’t fit quite as naturally, I understand why they wanted to have their backstory in the first series, but if you hadn’t read the book, then I imagine you’d be wondering why the show kept cutting to the pair of them. I loved the cast, I thought they all did a really good job with their characters (Jesper, Nina and The Darkling were particular standouts to me, but I loved everyone). I actually wish they’d had a couple more episodes as I think things were rushed a little in the last two episodes! It was clear though that the creators really loved the books, and were faithful to them and the characters whilst also doing something new which I loved.

TV or Book Judgement:

This is a really tough one because there are a few things I would have liked to see more of from the Crows’ backstories, but as the series is mostly based on Shadow and Bone, I would say I enjoyed the TV series more! I think having the Crows integrated into the Shadow and Bone story really lifted it up for me, and that Jessie Mei Li and Archie Renaux as Alina and Mal made me like both characters more than I did in the book. Also Ben Barnes as The Darkling? Perfection. I really hope they get many more seasons of the show, because I can’t wait to see Nikolai and I would love to see the Crows’ stories from the books on screen.

That’s it for this month’s Book Vs Movie, I will be back next month with another Book Vs TV, talking about Good Omens and its TV adaptation.

Top Ten Tuesday #313

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I had lunch out with a friend on Friday, which was so lovely and I had my first riding lesson back since lockdown on Saturday, so overall a very good weekend for me. I also binge-watched Shadow and Bone, and I really enjoyed it. I’ll have more thoughts for you in my Book Vs Movie post about it later in the week, but for now all I’ll say is that I think they did a good job with it and I hope the show gets many more seasons!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. I’m going completely off piste this week as I did the favourite animals in books topic a few years ago & I don’t think my list has massively changed since then. So instead, inspired by talking about differences in UK and US covers in my post last week, I decided to do a UK vs US book covers post. I will freely admit, that I’m probably quite biased towards UK covers as they are what I’m used to, but I did try to get some US covers I liked better in there as well. So here we go, with Which Cover Did It Better, UK or US?

  1. Ink and Bone-Rachel Caine

Winner: UK cover

These are both nice covers and to be honest, the US cover probably gives more of an idea of what the story is about, but for my personal preference, I prefer the UK cover. I like the colours better, I think the butterfly design is gorgeous and I love the way that you can see the book pages hiding within the butterfly wings.

2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue-VE Schwab

Winner: UK Cover

Again the US cover’s constellation of stars has a more direct connection to the book, as they represent Addie’s freckles but I just think the UK cover is prettier. It’s more colourful, and I love the little forget-me-not flowers. The US cover is more minimalistic, which is unusual, as it’s normally the other way around (the UK having more minimal covers than the US).

3. The Daevabad Trilogy-S.A Chakraborty

UK covers

US covers

Winner: UK covers

Again both sets of covers are pretty, but I prefer the designs of the UK covers, I think the colours and patterns are nicer and I particularly love the deep purple of The Empire of Gold cover. I also think they look better together as a set.

4. Caraval-Stephanie Garber

Winner: UK cover

Again, I like both and I may be slightly biased to the UK covers for this series as they have the very pretty hidden covers, but even discarding that, I like the UK cover better here. I love how the background is kind of like a starburst and I think the combination of the black cover with the splash of red and gold works really well. I also prefer the typeface on the UK cover.

5. Spin The Dawn-Elizabeth Lim

Winner: US cover

Finally one for the US. I do think the UK cover is pretty, but it looks more like a children’s book cover rather than a YA one, whereas the US one looks more like it’s aimed for the target audience. I also think you get more what the book is about in the US cover, with the dress being the focus, it’s clear that it’s about the tailoring competition whereas the UK cover isn’t so clear.

6. Kingdom of Ash-Sarah J Maas

Winner: US cover

The UK again went more minimal on the Throne of Glass covers than the US, with a white background rather than a coloured one and for most of the books I didn’t mind, but for this one, I think the colour gives it the edge as the actual design is largely the same. The US one just looks more striking with the golden background, as opposed to the white background on the UK cover.

7. Call Down The Hawk-Maggie Stiefvater

Winner: UK Cover

It wasn’t even a contest for me with this one, I think the UK cover is much nicer. The colours are much nicer and though the design is similar, I much prefer the watercolour style of the UK cover to the more computerised style of the US one. I’m really sad that the UK cover of Mister Impossible is the same as the US one except in paperback because I honestly hate the cover for that one!

8. The Girl From Everywhere-Heidi Heilig

Winner: UK cover

Again this one is a no-brainer, the US cover is ugly! I hate the typeface, the design is boring and there’s not much colour. The UK cover is far more eye-catching, bright and colourful, with a much prettier design.

9. Rebel of The Sands-Alwyn Hamilton

Winner: UK cover

I have freely admitted how much I dislike people on book covers, so it’s probably not a surprise that I prefer the UK cover to the US one here. The colours and the design on the UK cover are for me, much prettier than the US one.

10. Salt To The Sea-Ruta Sepetys

Winner: UK cover

I’ll admit, I do think the UK cover looks like it’s aimed at a younger audience, but in terms of what I prefer from covers, I like it better. I’ve always been more of an illustrated cover person than a stock photo cover person.

11. Circe-Madeline Miller

Winner: UK cover

Another no brainer for me, the UK one is prettier! I don’t know why they went for such a boring design for the US cover, but it looks so dull, whereas the UK cover has a much more elaborate and gorgeous design.

12. Ariadne-Jennifer Saint

Winner: UK cover

This is a very similar case to Circe’s cover, the US went for a fairly minimalist design, whereas the UK cover is far more striking. I also think that the UK cover looks more Ancient Greek in style, with the mosaic style mazes around the outside and the Greek style figure of Ariadne. I also really love the blue and gold colours, I think they’re very striking.

13. City of Spells-Alexandra Christo

Winner: UK cover

I will admit to being somewhat biased towards the cover I have, and I don’t actually think the US cover is bad, in actual fact I quite like it, but the red of the UK cover just stands out more to me. I love the black silhouette of the city as well, and the way that the vine design twines around the outer edges of the cover, I think it’s a more visually interesting design than the US cover.

14. The Court of Miracles-Kester Grant

Winner: UK cover

The colours are definitely what stuck out for me on the UK cover, the gold and blue are incredibly striking. The US cover definitely has it’s good points as well, I think it gets across the contrast between luxury and ruin quite well, but from a personal standpoint, again I just really like illustrated covers!

15. Moxie-Jennifer Mathieu

Winner: US cover

I do love pink, but the design for the US cover is much better. It looks like it could be the cover of the zine in the book, and I think feels more for its intended audience whereas the UK cover seems like it’s aimed at a younger audience.

Final scores:

UK: 12

US: 3

Sorry, US, I’m afraid in this round the UK covers trounced you soundly!

I want to hear your thoughts! Which of these covers would you have chosen (it’s totally okay if you don’t agree with me!)? Have you read any of these books? Did you like them? Which is your favourite cover? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back with another Top Ten Tuesday next week, with my Ten Most Recent Reads (so you can all see how bad of a reading slump I’ve been in this year!).

Lore Review (Audiobook)

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Book: Lore

Author: Alexandra Bracken

Narrator: Fryda Wolff

BECHDEL TEST: Uncertain (didn’t really keep track! Find it super hard to on audio).

Content Warnings: Blood depiction, murder, loss of loved ones, graphic torture depictions (some to children), graphic violence, gore, sexual assault, grief depiction, PTSD, child abuse, threat of paedophilia, threat of rape, implied paedophilia, slavery, talk of cancer (leukaemia), child cancer (mention of chemo, radiation & stem cell transplants), mention of heart attack, mention of cancer recurrence, bombings, explosions, brief mentions of suicide, war themes, sexism, loss of a limb, drowning, injury, discussions of child marriage, animal attack, fire/burning, sacrifice & self-sacrifice.

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I love Greek mythology, I’ve been interested in it since I was a kid (actually pre Percy Jackson!) so naturally when I saw Lore, which was described as Greek mythology meets The Hunger Games (one of my favourite books) I was immediately hooked. Sadly, I didn’t find that the final product lived up to the inventive premise: it was confused in a lot of places, somehow managed to be both too fast and too slow at the same time and I didn’t feel massively invested in any of the characters. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

My biggest problem with this book was honestly that I was confused a lot of the time! There are an awful lot of characters to follow (9 houses in the Agon, all with a lot of people in them), there were a lot of new terms to learn and very little explanation as to how everything worked, so I spent a lot of the first part of the book incredibly confused. The book sort of acts as if the readers have the same information as Lore and that we don’t really need to know how the Agon works, so it takes a while before you get any kind of explanation for what is going on, which meant in the beginning, I didn’t really know what was happening. I settled into things more during the middle, but then the breakneck speed of the events at the end meant I again lost track. I felt kind of at sea for most of the book, which is not an experience you want to have as a reader.

I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the narrator which is quite a big problem when you’re listening to an audiobook. Her actual reading voice was fine, but I didn’t like her accents for the characters: some it was difficult to tell the difference between them, so I couldn’t really follow when different people were speaking and some were just bad (her French accent for Iro for instance grated on me, and her British accent for Van was the kind of posh accent that every American show assumes that British people have. That’s not to say that accent doesn’t exist, but it definitely felt like the kind of British accent that is hammed up for an American audience!).

I liked the idea of the Agon, but I was expecting there to be more action than there was. Most of the book involves plotting and planning and sneaking around each other but with no actual conflict until the end when there was so much that it was hard to keep track of, it would have been nice if the action had been more evenly spread throughout the book and that the Agon had been a bit more dramatic.

Also I would have liked to know more behind the logistics of the Agon, for instance, this book marks the second cycle in a row that the Agon has taken place in New York, is that usual? Because the author also says that the Agon moves round different cities, so do these Hunters only take part when it’s in New York and there are other Hunters in other cities? Do all these Houses pick up and move to other cities every seven years? Are they usually based in New York? I had so many questions and felt like I got fairly few answers! How the Agon came about was also very vague, we learned that it was a punishment from Zeus for a rebellion, but we never know what the rebellion was about.

This book was definitely trying to make feminist points, by talking about how women were forgotten in Greek mythology and how the women of the Agon were treated by the men, but I think Bracken could have gone further with this as there didn’t seem to be anyone actively pushing for change within the Agon (even Lore just complained about her position without trying to do anything to change it). I also found it hard to believe that the Hunters would be so cut off from the mortal world that feminism completely passed them by? It’s been several centuries and they treat their women like they’re in Ancient Greece even though all of them would have grown up in the modern world. Like I get they are somewhat of a insular society but it seemed ridiculous to me that this generation of hunters would have the same views on women as ancestors several thousand years earlier. Basically, the violent misogyny was a bit much, and unnecessary in my opinion.

One of my other issues, aside from the violent misogyny, is that this book talks so much about female power and how women have been abused and forgotten, but LORE HAS NO FEMALE FRIENDS? I mean kind of Iro, but they’ve not been friends in a long time by the current events in the book. It just felt very wrong to me in a book which I think was attempting to have a feminist message, that the main female character has no female friends AT ALL? It’s also something I really hate just in general, that so many books with female MCs don’t allow them to have any female friends.

The classic YA drooling over boys with perfect muscles was a bit cringey for me, now obviously I’m not a teenager anymore, so not the target audience, but to be honest, I found it quite cringey even when I was a teenager. I really don’t love the general trend in YA that boys must be super muscled and attractive because I think it sets unrealistic standards for boys reading YA if all the boys they read about have “perfect abs” and look like movie stars.

I wasn’t a massive fan of the romance in this book. Usually friends to lovers is one of my favourite romantic tropes, but I didn’t feel like it was done well here. Castor and Lore haven’t seen each other in seven years, they’ve both changed a lot in that time, and barely know who the other one is now and yet suddenly they’re instantly in love after spending less than a week together? I mean I get that there might have been feelings there when they were younger, but it still seemed kind of out of the blue for them to almost instantly couple up given how much time has passed.

Speaking of the past, the flashbacks to Lore’s childhood and the last Agon were kind of clumsily integrated into the main storyline, just as something exciting was happening in the present, which took me out of the story somewhat.

I almost think Bracken crammed too much into one book, it felt like it would have been more natural if this had been a duology? I mean this entire book takes place over one week, and we have to learn all of the logistics of the Agon, Lore’s past, finding the Aegis, there was so much in here, it definitely could have used being two books rather than one.

The world building was fairly lacking, not just in terms of the Agon and the logistics of how everything worked, the relationships between the Houses etc but also just that the author seemed to assume that everyone was familiar with New York City? Like I’ve visited New York once, I could name the tourist attractions but in terms of being intimately familiar with the city? Nah. Even if you are setting your book in a real place, you can’t assume that everyone who reads it is going to be familiar with the place: if I was writing a book about London for instance, I wouldn’t assume all my readers knew London in the same way I did (and even then London is massive, people may be more familiar with certain areas than others). Basically assume that everyone has as limited a knowledge of a real world setting as they do with a fantasy one and put the same amount of effort into your world building please!

The characters weren’t all that well developed, I had high hopes for Lore in the beginning but she never really develops much beyond the surface level, “badass fighter girl” and the same went for all the other characters-like I liked Miles because he seemed sweet and funny but he doesn’t get much development beyond that.

I was expecting the Medusa myth to be more important to the plot of this one given the cover and I was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t.

There is an assault scene in this which I wish I’d known about before because I find them really hard to listen to, thankfully it wasn’t too graphic, but pre-warning for survivors who might be triggered by it.

The writing style was fine, there were some really lovely lines but overall, it wasn’t anything particularly standout or special.

I felt like the characters should have been older, really, at least they read as older to me. I mean the flashbacks has Lore doing all of this stuff when she’s supposedly ten, but she feels more like a teenager and Lore in the present feels more like she should be in her early twenties. I don’t know if this is another case of a story that’s been aged down to be considered YA, or if I just read characters as older than they are a lot, but yeah, I didn’t buy Lore as a teenager.

I struggled to get a handle on Lore’s motivations as well, which made it hard for me to root for her. I almost had whiplash trying to work out exactly what she wanted, if she wanted revenge, if she just wanted out of the Agon, if she wanted power and glory, it was difficult to tell because she seemed to change her mind every ten seconds. I wouldn’t have minded if she did have multiple motivations, if it had been clear, but it wasn’t.

There was some diversity, Miles is Korean and gay, Van is Black, gay and disabled, but it all felt very surface level as neither of them were that well developed and seemed to only exist to help the white MC rather than having their own developed personalities and storylines.

I would have liked the gods’ powers to be developed more, we learn a little about them but not really enough in my opinion, it all felt kind of hand-wavy. Athena was really interesting, I was definitely suspicious of her from the beginning, but she felt kind of flat and distant and I would have liked it if she had been developed more.

There were some great twists, I didn’t predict all of them, though I had my suspicions and some took me completely off guard.

I was a bit annoyed that certain things didn’t really get a resolution, I can’t really talk about them in detail without being spoilery, but there were some storylines that were kind of dropped and unresolved by the end, which is fine in a series, but this was a standalone, I kind of expect everything to be largely resolved and I didn’t feel like it was here.

And that brings me to the most infuriating part of the book: THE ENDING. Never mind that I was super lost and couldn’t really follow what happened in the final battle, which was annoying enough, but the ending was so abrupt! It didn’t feel like there was any resolution to what happened in the book, it was all just kind of over. Like what happened to Lore and Castor? Was the Agon really over? I was just so confused and it kind of left me with a sour taste in my mouth because I just had no idea what happened.

Overall, the concept of this book had a lot of potential, but it didn’t live up to it and I reckon it could have really benefitted from being a duology because there were too many big ideas and too many characters to really do justice to in one book.

My Rating: 2.5/5

My next review will be of The Unbound by Victoria Schwab.