Top Ten Tuesday #156


Hi all! I hope you’ve all been having a good week, I am taking a break from the hell of exam revision to write this post, but at least by the end of next week, it will all be over!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday now, and that means another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we’re talking Frequently Used Words In Titles (a topic I suggested!). A while back I did a post on unique YA Fantasy Titles, and today, I’m going to explore the opposite side of the coin, and talk about the Most Commonly Used Words In YA Fantasy Titles. It was difficult to narrow these down, because there are SO MANY commonly used words, but I picked what I think are the most overused ones. So here we go:

  1. Shadow

For some reason, YA Fantasies really love the word Shadow! I don’t know, I guess shadows conjure kind of dark and eerie images and that’s a vibe a lot of fantasies want to go for?

Examples (not an exhaustive list): Shadow and Bone, Queen of Shadows, A Shadow Bright and Burning, Lord of Shadows, Reign of Shadows, Sea of Shadows, Empire of Shadows, Shadow Scale, Shadow Study, Prince of Shadows, Dance of Shadows, Shadows On The Moon, Shadow Kiss, Library of Light and Shadows, Shadow Crown, Mask of Shadows, Cloaked In Shadow, The Shadow Throne, A Skinful of Shadows, Shadowsong, Seven Deadly Shadows, Shadows on The Moon, The Shadow Hour

2. Bone

Bones also appear very frequently in YA fantasy titles, again, I guess because a lot of fantasy these days eers towards the dark and what is dark and creepier than bones?

Examples: Children of Blood and Bone, Shadow and Bone, Ink and Bone, Ivory and Bone, City of Bones, The Bone Queen, The Bone Witch, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

3. Blood

Since there is a trend towards a lot of death and violence in quite a number of YA fantasies, it makes sense that Blood is a commonly used word in YA fantasy titles, as an indicator of what is to come within the pages!

Examples: Children of Blood and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, Frostblood, Fireblood, Nightblood, Blood Rose Rebellion, The Blood of Stars, A River of Royal Blood, Blood of A Thousand Stars, Silver In The Blood, Blood Promise, Blood Passage, Sisters of Blood and Spirit, Blood and Sand, Blood of The Prophet, Isle of Blood and Stone, Blood Magic, Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, Half-Blood, RoseBlood, Song of Blood and Stone. The Blood of Olympus

4. King/Queen/Prince/Princess

Royalty is a key aspect of a lot of YA Fantasy, so it’s unsurprising that royal titles comprise a large portion of YA Fantasy titles.

Examples: Queen of Shadows, The Shadow Queen, Daughter of The Pirate King, Daughter of The Siren Queen, The Raven King, The Caged Queen, Red Queen, The Star Touched Queen, Princess of Thorns, Winter Queen, King’s Cage, The Iron King, Prince Caspian, The Traitor Prince, The Half Blood Prince, The Cruel Prince, Traitor Prince, Prince of Shadows, Ash Princess, The Orphan Queen, The Imposter Queen, The Sleeping Prince, Queens of Innis Lear, The Queen’s Rising, The Rogue Queen, The Fire Queen, The King’s Traitor, The Young Queens, The Demon King, Clockwork Princess, Clockwork Prince, Queen of The Tearling, The Queen of Air and Darkness. The Iron Queen

5. Daughter

Titular daughters are incredibly common in YA, although often these titular daughters are daughter of “things” rather than daughters of people-you know since parents are usually absent in YA Fantasy!

Exmaples: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Daughter of The Pirate King, Daughter of The Siren Queen, Daughters of The Storm, The Sin Eater’s Daughter, Daughter of The Burning City, The Watchmaker’s Daughter

5. Crown

Given the obsession with royalty in fantasy, it’s unsurprising that crowns make more than a few appearances in YA Fantasy titles!

Examples: The Crown’s Game, Three Dark Crowns, Crown of Midnight, The Crown’s Fate, The Crown and The Arrow, Cruel Crown, Hollow Crown, Shadow Crown, The Crown of Embers, Crown of Ice, The Crimson Crown, Crown of Thunder

6. Fire

Fire seems to be a quite common magical power in YA fantasies (including in my own WIPs), so naturally, it appears quite often in their titles!

Examples: For A Muse of Fire, Heir of Fire, Firestarter, Ice Like Fire, Paper and Fire, Of Fire and Stars, Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Fire Thief, The Secret Fire, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, Playing With Fire, Spindle Fire, Fireblood, The Fire Queen, Trial By Fire, Fire, Fire Lines, Girls of Paper and Fire, Wicked Like A Wildfire, Bright Smoke Cold Fire, City of Heavenly Fire

7. Throne

Because where there are royals, there are thrones!

Examples: Traitor To The Throne, One Dark Throne, Throne of Glass, Throne of Fire, The Shadow Throne, The Gray Wolf Throne, Throne of The Crescent Moon, The Vanishing Throne

8. City

Honestly I’m not entirely sure why City is so popular in Fantasy books? I guess maybe it’s a way to indicate Urban Fantasy?

Examples: City of  Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, City of Heavenly Fire (yup that’s just The Mortal Instruments books!), Tarnished City, City of Bastards, Hollow City, City of Brass, Black City, The Secret City

9. Night

I mean YA fantasy loves a bit of darkness, so it fits that Night is a common title word choice!

Examples: Torch Against The Night, Frost Like Night, The Night Circus, Night of Cake and Puppets, Beasts of Night, Night Study, Nevernight, The Night Realm, Evernight, Nightshade, Nightblood, Midnight, Crown of Midnight, Girl at Midnight, Muse of Nightmares, Vassa In The Night, Wink Poppy Midnight, A Thousand Nights

10. Stars

Because in a genre obsessed with nighttime and darkness, stars are just the next step right?

Examples: The Star Touched Queen, Ruin of Stars, Obsidian and Stars, Of Fire and Stars, A Court of Frost and Starlight, Days of Blood and Starlight, Blood of A Thousand Stars, The Midnight Star, Girl of Ink and Stars, Even The Darkest Stars, The Stars Never Rise,

So there you go, some of the most commonly used words in YA Fantasy titles! I’m sure there’s many that I’ve missed, so leave your suggestions in the comments. I’m going to be kind of MIA over the next couple of weeks because of exams, I will try to get my review of Hero At The Fall up but I don’t really have time to sit down and write it at the minute because of my exams, so it might be a bit late! But I will be back with my newest Top Ten Tuesday post next week, talking about Books I’d Slay A Lion To Get Early, so stay tuned for that!




Top Ten Tuesday #155


Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week, I had my University Sports Ball on Friday night and it was so much fun, I love getting the chance to dress up and go for a fancy night out with my friends, plus I’ll go basically anywhere as long as I’m fed (and they gave us a three course meal, including brownie and salted caramel ice-cream for desert so you know, very happy Jo).

But anyway, it’s Tuesday now, and time for another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we have been given free reign to do whatever we like, with a freebie topic, so I am, in a frankly shocking move, not going to be talking about books today. Instead, I thought as we had a free topic this week, I would share with you one of my other great loves: films. Specifically, musical films. Much as I love talking about books on here, I do have other things that I love and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some of my favourite musical movies with you guys (I’m not including anything Disney on this list because let’s face it, they could be a list entirely of their own). So here we go:

  1. Moulin Rouge

My favourite movie of ever, so of course it tops my list this week. I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve watched it by now, but put it this way, any kind of celebration for me usually involves this movie, pizza and a ton of Ben and Jerry’s. I’ve also forced basically all my friends to watch it multiple times (I’d apologise, but you guys know that I’m not at all sorry). I mean this film has everything, an awesome soundtrack, incredible choreography (THE TANGO SCENE), amazing costumes and great actors. And let’s face it, brooding writer and musician Ewan McGregor is definitely Ewan McGregor’s best look.

2. Hairspray (2007)

Yes, I’m talking the 2007 version here, not the original 1988 one, because I haven’t actually seen that one! Hairspray is definitely my go-to feel good movie musical, since you know, much as I love Moulin Rouge, it is kind of a downer. Again, obviously the soundtrack is AMAZING, but I also love the costumes (it’s the early 60’s, so everything still looks kind of 50s-esque) and it just generally makes me smile (aside from I Know Where I’ve Been, which definitely makes you cry).

3. The Greatest Showman

I’m totally addicted to the soundtrack of this one and it’s been really hard to find a decent movie musical that’s non-Disney in the last few years, so this one was definitely a welcome surprise. Obviously a lot of liberties are taken with the actual life of PT Barnum, and some of the more unsavoury aspects of his character are glossed over, but this musical is definitely a visual and aural spectacle and Hugh Jackman is outstanding as the lead. I dare you to leave the cinema after watching this without a) a smile on your face and b) belting out one/more of the songs.

4. The Last Five Years

I may have a minor (okay not so minor) crush on Jeremy Jordan because of this movie. His voice though……. This movie does live and die on the music, since it is almost entirely sung through, and both Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan have great voices, and the songs go from fun and incredibly catchy to ridiculously heartbreaking and back again as we proceed both forwards and backwards through Jamie and Cathy’s five year relationship to see where it all went wrong. Honestly this musical is so underrated, and deserves so much more love than it gets, because it’s brilliant.

5. Mamma Mia

Yes, it’s incredibly cheesy and Pierce Brosnan’s singing leaves A LOT to be desired, but anything with Meryl Streep in it really can’t go too far wrong. This is another one of my favourite uplifting feel good musicals, you just can’t help but sing and dance along with ABBA’s greatest hits. I’M SO EXCITED FOR THE SEQUEL THIS SUMMER.

6. Chicago

Honestly this movie would make it on this list for the Cell Block Tango alone, if I ever did a list of my favourite dance scenes in movies that would definitely be up there with El Tango De Roxanne from Moulin Rouge, and the tango from Take The Lead (apparently I really like the tango!). But you know it also has killer (sorry!) tunes, awesome costumes, amazing choreography and great actors. I would be mad that this won an Oscar for Best Picture and Moulin Rouge didn’t, but it’s such a great film, I can’t be (plus I was six at the time and hadn’t actually seen either film yet).

7. Fiddler On The Roof

It is almost three hours long, but it doesn’t feel like it because the songs are all so amazing and it’s a very aesthetically pleasing and well acted movie.

8. Walking On Sunshine

Yeah okay, so this film might not have the best singers or the best actors, or the best choreography, and yes, it’s ridiculously cheesy, but THE SONGS. It’s cheesy 80s tunes wrapped up into an hour and a half package of ridiculous fun and that alone makes it worth the watch (and the rewatch, and every subsequent rewatch).

9. Country Strong

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned before that I like country music, but I do and this musical drama is full of it and has some great original country tunes alongside some really awesome covers. Plus I love Leighton Meester and Garrett Hedlund is super hot. I can usually take or leave Gwyneth Paltrow, but she is really good in this movie.

10. Pitch Perfect

I have yet to see the third movie, and can take or leave number 2, but I do love the original movie, it’s a great modern take on the movie musical, and I love that it’s all about female friendship and girl power because those are things I am definitely here for.

Honourable Mention: The Sound of Music-I always found this one a little overly long and I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually seen all of it the whole way through, but it has a special place in my heart because it was one of my Nana’s favourite films.

So there you have it, my favourite movie musicals! Have you seen any of these? Do you like them? What are your favourite movie musicals? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Frequently Used Words In X Genre/Age Group Titles, so I will naturally be doing Frequently Used Words In YA Fantasy Titles. I don’t know if I will have anything for you guys in the meantime, as I’ll be revising for my exams, although I’m nearly done with my current read Hero At The Fall, so I’ll have a review of that for you guys very soon.



Jo Talks Books: On Having Different Tastes In Books and Movies

Hi all! It’s a little later than I would have liked for my first discussion post of April, but I’ve been busy the last few weeks, finishing up my last few assignment for Uni (finally done, just exams to go now) so I haven’t had as much time to write as I would have liked. For my first discussion post of this month, I’m going to be talking about having different tastes in books and movies. It’s something I’ve talked about with my friends before and they think I’m really strange, because my book tastes and movie tastes completely contradict each other, so I figured it might make a fun topic to talk about on here.

So those of you who have followed my blog for a while are probably pretty familiar with the types of books I read; largely YA fantasy with as little emphasis on romance as humanly possible, strong female led stories, the occasional historical novel and if I do read a novel in a contemporary, realistic setting, more often than not, it’s either a psychological thriller or something that focuses on tough issues, I’m not really one for the fluffy contemporary romance. You would think that these tastes would translate to the movies I watch. You would be wrong.

Despite trying to avoid romance as much as humanly possible in my books (though don’t get me wrong, I still have my ships and am as much of sucker for a shippable romance as anyone, I just don’t think it’s necessary to have romance in every single YA book of ever), a lot of my favourite movies are rom-coms. I genuinely don’t know why, in theory, I should hate them, I mean they’re incredibly cheesy, totally concentrated on romance and there’s not a whiff of magic in sight. If that was a book, it wouldn’t even make it off the shelf at a bookstore with me. Yet for reasons unknown (trust me, I would tell you if I had figured out why I’m such a strange bundle of contradictions), I love those things in movies. I suppose they give my romantic side a way to let off steam, since I like to refer to myself as a cynical romantic-basically I like the idea of romance but am way too much of a cynic/realist to believe that it will happen in my life (at least not the same way it does in the movies!). Rom-coms are really good for both the cynic and the romantic in me, because they allow me to indulge in my romantic fantasies whilst also rolling my eyes at the cheesiness of it all and knowing that things don’t really happen that way. Hand me a rom-com book though and I’d be more likely that not to throw it at a window. I think because I’m not the most visual reader, romantic books tend to only hit the cynic, as I’m just reading the cheese, without the visuals of the actions to accompany it, so instead of thinking “that’s unrealistic, but I don’t care, it’s so darn cute”, I’m just thinking “BARF”. Also you can actually see the cute guys in movies so you know…..that does help!

Take my favourite movie for instance (Moulin Rouge in case anyone didn’t know). That kind of story in a book would elicit massive eyerolls, barf noises and potentially me throwing the book across the room in frustration, if the book even made it into the house in the first place (which it probably wouldn’t have). I mean if you removed all the music, Moulin Rouge is essentially a star crossed lovers story, with a love triangle at the centre. Not exactly something that screams Jo. But I love it. Yes, the music is a big part of that, but also the stunning visuals (and no, I’m not just talking about Ewan McGregor here), the costumes, the story, the acting, everything. Something like that in the form of a book would just come across as cheesy to me, but when I can see (and hear) everything, on the screen, it captivates me. Again it all comes down the visuals (and audio here!), when I can see and listen to the relationship I am meant to be rooting for develop, then I find it a lot easier to let the inner romantic out! Plus I am a huge sucker for things that hit me in the feels (which is also true for books) and Moulin Rouge definitely does that.

Obviously when it comes to books I tend to go for the more fantastical, but most of the movies I watch are set in our world, although I don’t think this is because I prefer realistic movies (I mean The Lion King is one of my favourite movies and that has singing lions, so clearly not massive on the realism!), I think it’s just there’s more to choose from and if I could find more fantasy movies that I wanted to watch, I definitely would because the ones I have watched I have loved.

There are times when I have liked movie adaptations of books better than the books they are based on, usually because that kind of story works better for me in that format, or I like the story but I don’t like the format of the book. For example movies like The Princess Diaires & PS I Love You, I liked the movies better than the books because those kind of stories work better for me in film format. Perks of Being A Wallflower, I preferred the film to the book because I liked the story, but I didn’t like the epistolary format of the book. I have also been known to watch the movie/TV version of a book, with no intention of ever reading the book because I know it won’t work for me in that format. For instance, I watch the TV series Outlander, but I will never read the books because I know that level of romance will bother me in a novel in a way that it doesn’t onscreen.

Having said that, there are some similarities between the books I like and the movies I like. I love historical movies and TV shows, just like I love historical fiction, although I do have the tendency to rip them apart a little bit more over historical inaccuracies than I do books. I think historical fiction authors are a little bit more pedantic over the details of history than the people who work on historical movies, which I of course love, being a History student. RESEARCH IS KEY FOLKS. I don’t watch them often, but I do enjoy crime/psychological thriller movies as well as books. I’m not keen on horror movies, the same way I’m not keen on horror books, in both mediums, I prefer more of an eerie, creepy vibe (I’m actually slightly worried if they ever do get the Unwind movie off the ground, I won’t like it as much as the book because I fear they might be too graphic, and as we’ve already established, I’m not the most visual reader, so seeing all the creepy stuff I might not have pictured fully in my head in stark detail on the screen might be a little much). I do still also really love female led films as much as I love female lead books, I love films that have a strong focus on friendship (especially female friendship), and I love films that hit me in the feels, although I do love films that make me feel happy and laugh as well.

So yeah, when it comes to books and movies, I’m a bit of a bag of contradictions, but I think it mostly just comes down to the fact that they are different mediums, and what works for me in one won’t necessarily work in the other. I tend to find it’s a good thing though, as I’ll watch films that I never would have even thought of reading the book versions and I’ll still really enjoy the story, I’ll just take it in in a different way!

How about you? Do you have massively different tastes in books and movies? Are there any movies that you’d watch but you wouldn’t read their book countepart? Let me know in the comments!

I am about to dive into exam hell, so I will likely be dipping in and out of the blog in the next couple of weeks (mostly out), which means I don’t know when I’ll have another discussion post for you. Hopefully after my exam is over on the 27th, I’m planning on talking Bookshelf Organization. In the meantime however, I will have a new Top Ten Tuesday for you guys tomorrow!


Top Ten Tuesday #154


Hi all! My Uni is officially done for the semester, just exams to go now. I can’t wait until everything is over and I can spend my entire summer reading, although perhaps not as much time as I had originally thought because……I GOT A JOB. I am officially going to be wrangling kids for six weeks of the summer (which is fine, it means I still have another six to do nothing but read).

Anyway, since it’s Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Now today’s topic is a little tricky for me, because it’s Books I Loved But Will Never Reread and for me, part of loving a book is feeling that impulsion when you close the book to want to go back to the beginning again. Whether I actually do it or not, is immaterial, if I really love a book, I will feel that way when it’s over. So I’m going to alter the topic slightly and go with Books I Will Probably Never Reread, whether I enjoyed them first time around or not. So here we go:

  1. Stealing Snow-Danielle Paige

I suffered enough with this the first time around, there is no way I would subject myself to it again. THERE WAS A LOVE QUADRANGLE. I am still shivering with rage just thinking about it.

2. The Night Circus-Erin Morgenstern

As much as I LOVED the aesthetics in this, I don’t think I’ll ever read it again, because the story just wasn’t really for me. I would love to be able to visit Le Cirque De Reves though!

3. Glass Sword-Victoria Aveyard

OH THE PAIN THIS BOOK CAUSED ME. It was so dull and I just couldn’t deal with Mare Barrow at all. It pains me that this book is signed and personalised because it means I now can’t get read of it.

4. Graceling-Kristin Cashore

I was really expecting to like this one and then, I just…didn’t? I do love strong female characters, but with Katsa, that was her only characteristic, there wasn’t any complexity to her character and she just really annoyed me. Plus, the plot was just SO SLOW.

5. The Princess Diaries Series-Meg Cabot

I did enjoy these when I read them, but my reading tastes have changed a lot since I was 12/13 and I don’t think I would enjoy them as much now as I did back then (plus from what I can remember, Mia really annoyed me and I actually preferred her in the movies).

6. The Roman Mysteries-Caroline Lawrence

I LOVED these books when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t reread them now, simply because I don’t think I’d find them as good as I did when I was a kid, because I’m not really the target age range anymore! It does make me sad that I never actually finished this series though.

7. Lord of The Flies-William Golding

I mean I never would have read it in the first place if I hadn’t been forced to for school, so there’s NO WAY that I’m subjecting myself to the torture of this book again.

8. The Fault In Our Stars-John Green

Yeah……I barely made it through once, so I don’t think I’ll ever be trying this one again……plus I gave my copy away, so yeah.

9. Allegiant-Veronica Roth

If I ever do a reread of the Divergent Trilogy (highly unlikely) then I will definitely be missing out this last book. It wasn’t a fun experience the first time, so I don’t think I’ll be putting myself through it again.

10. The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Nighttime-Mark Haddon

I know people who really like this one, but the writing style and story just wasn’t for me at all, and I don’t think I’ll ever read it again (in fact I think this is another one that I’ve got rid of).

So there we go, the books I will probably never reread! Do you agree with me on any of these? Disagree? What books will you probably never reread, either because you liked them or because you didn’t? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is a freebie, so you’ll have to wait until next week to see what I decide to do! In the meantime, I’m hoping to have a new discussion post and a new Writing Corner post for you guys very soon.


#RockMyTBR March Update (2018)

Hi everyone! Today was my last class of my third year of Uni, I just have a few more assignments and exams to do and then I will be done. Much as I am looking forward to summer, it’s kind of daunting that next year is going to be my last year of Uni-like how? How did it go this fast? Speaking of things that have gone fast, it’s April already. Like how? I swear it was February like yesterday. Anyway, as it is a new month, it’s time for me to do another #RockMyTBR challenge update, which if you are a new follower, is a feature I do every month, updating you guys on my progress on Sarah K at The Book Traveller’s annual reading challenge to knock books off your TBR (I’m not sure if she’s officially doing it this year, so I’ve kind of co-opted it for myself). March was a little better than February in terms of my reading, I read three books rather than my usual two and am currently three books ahead of my Goodreads Challenge (yay!). Here are the books I read in March:

36909741Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen:

This was an ARC I got sent last year and finally got around to this month (I mean the book came out in March and I did finish it and review it in March, if not on release date, so for me, that’s not bad!). I started this on 28th February and finished it on 15th March. It was an okay book, I liked the concept and the fact that it was a WWII Jewish story that didn’t revolve around the Holocaust, but it was slow in places and not quite as exciting as I was expecting. Here is my review of it:

35383830Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu:

This was my #RockMyTBR book for March (one I got from my #otspsecretsister Amy last year), I read it from 15th-23rd March, so just over a week, which I’ll admit was helped quite a lot by the fact that I had a 10 hour round trip to London and back during that time! I really enjoyed this one, it was fun and a really great introduction to feminism for younger readers and definitely a very empowering book to read. Here is my review of it:

35997403The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert:

This was my Netgalley read for this month, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. It took me a long time to read this, I was dipping in and out of it between 8th February to when I finally finished it on 29th March. I was expecting something much darker and more fairytale but there was too much in the contemporary world and not enough in the fantastical world, plus the pacing was incredibly poor. Here is my review of it:

That’s my recap of what I read in March, here’s what I have coming up for April:

Hero At The Fall-Alwyn Hamilton-I’m currently halfway through the final instalment in the Rebel of The Sands trilogy, and I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping it would be exciting, but it’s been quite slow so far and it’s not really held my attention as it should have. I’m hoping this latter half will be more exciting!

Rose Under Fire-Elizabeth Wein-This is my #RockMyTBR book for April and I’m super excited because I love Code Name Verity and this is kind of a companion novel to it, so it should be amazing, although I definitely have to prepare myself to be punched in the feels again.

The Toymakers-Robert Dinsdale-This expires in like a week and a half, so I really have to get reading! I love the concept for this, but I’ve found it quite slow going so far.

Shatter Me-Tahreh Mafi-I may not actually get a chance to read this before it expires from my Netgalley, but so many people I know have read and loved this series, so hopefully I will get to it in the next month!

So there we go, that’s my April TBR. I don’t know if I will finish them all this month, but I hope so, because my Netgalley is extremely backed up and I would like to try and clear all the books I currently have on there before I go home for the summer (if possible!). How is your reading going so far this year? Let me know in the comments!

The Hazel Wood Review (e-ARC)

35997403Book: The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Published By: Penguin Random House

Expected Publication: 8th February (whoops!)

Format: e-book

Thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for allowing me a free copy of this book, it in no way influenced my opinion of it.

The Hazel Wood was definitely one of the most hyped fantasy YA debuts coming into 2018, so naturally I was very excited to read it, as it promised a darker take on the traditional fairytale (very Jo) and my friend Hannah had read the ARC she got from YALC and loved it and we usually have very similar reading tastes. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I was hoping to, I found it slow paced and confusing, and not really what I was expecting at all. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. 

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

My major problem with this book was the pacing. The first 200 odd pages of this book was so slow! It was all set up and road-tripping and just generally quite dull. I mean I’m a fantasy reader, so I have a stronger tolerance for a “journey story” than most, but I reckon if you’d cut out most of the road trip aspects of this book, you would have had a much more streamlined, faster paced, more enjoyable story.The chapters were overly long and because it took so long to get to the Hinterland part of the story, the climax was rushed. It took me well over a month to finish this and I kept dipping in and out because I wasn’t really that engaged.  I think I was also a bit jarred that the book spent so long in the modern world, I was kind of expecting them to be in the Hinterland pretty much from the start and I found all of the contemporary aspects of the story pretty boring. It also meant the book felt a little disjointed, it didn’t feel like the whole thing flowed as one story. The book reads more as a YA contemporary with fantastical aspects than a straight up fantasy, which would have been fine if that had been what I was expecting.

I wasn’t overly keen on Albert’s writing? She relies on a very flowery style of prose, that I have always hated, I prefer it when authors say what they want to say without too much flowery description. I mean it fitted with the style of the book that she was writing, but just for me, personally, I didn’t like it.

I wasn’t all that keen on our main character Alice, she’s rude and angry and bitter and I just found it quite difficult to root for her most of the time (her saving grace was that she really cared about her mum) and even when the reasons for her behaviour were explained, that didn’t really change the fact that she annoyed me for a decent portion of the book, which is not really what you want from a main character of any book. The only thing I could relate to her on was the fact that she disliked people touching her hair, a trait we share!

The other major character was Finch, and I wasn’t really sure about him either. I should relate to a super-obsessed fan boy, being a fangirl myself, but it felt like that was his only real trait, as a character, he felt kind of flat to me, he felt like a token POC rather than a well developed character.  I also felt like Ella should have had more of a role, since parents are so hard to find in YA fantasies, the author should have made more of her, because we only really get to hear from Alice how much she loves her mum, we don’t really get to see much of their relationship. There’s also a bit where they get pulled over by the police and Alice is really rude, Finch tries to explain to her the relationship between black people and the police and why what she did could have been dangerous for him, but she just brushed him off, which I didn’t love. She also has a tendency to be a bit abusive towards Finch, which again, not okay.

I loved the little tales from the Hinterland, in fact, had this been a collection of short stories from the Hinterland, I probably would have enjoyed it more, because they had the darkness, the creepiness that I was expecting from this book. I’ve found out that the author is planning on doing these, so I will definitely be reading that book, even if I didn’t love this one!

There are kind of hints of romance, but nothing major which I liked because I don’t think they really would have fitted in this book.

I did like the parts of the book where Alice was in the Hinterland, but I also found myself kind of confused. I didn’t feel like the author explained things very well and for the most part, I felt confused and disoriented and couldn’t really understand what was going on. I felt like the explanation for everything was like “it’s a fairytale” but if you are creating a fantasy world, even if it is fairytale inspired, it should have clearly defined rules. I would have liked it if we got to spend more time in the Hinterland and really got to know it, because it was a really interesting concept but never properly explained.

There were a few twists, none of which I predicted, but I will say that some worked better than others, the main one was pleasing and explained a lot of things that had been confusing me, but some of the others were not so good.

The climax of the story was really unsatisfying and I felt like it relied on a lot of Deus Ex Machina to make it work, which is never a good sign, it didn’t feel earned, which was a shame.

I was also kind of expecting it to be darker? Like there were some dark moments, but for a supposedly dark fantasy, it was a little light for me and the creepy aspect wasn’t played up as much as I would have liked.

I don’t really understand why there’s going to be a sequel as the book doesn’t really seem to lend itself to one, it works fine as a standalone.

There were quite a lot of pop culture references, some of which landed better than others, the “Janet” Good Place reference in the Hinterland was a particularly favourite, but it felt like the author kind of relied a little too much on obscure pop culture references.

Overall, this book had a lot of potential, but I feel like it didn’t deliver. I loved the Hinterland and the fairytale stories we got peppered through the book, but the characters and the pacing really let the book down. I feel like had the book embraced the fantasy elements more, it would have been a lot better and whilst I’m looking forward to the Tales From The Hinterland collection, I won’t be reading the sequel to this.

My Rating: 3/5

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-I did have to search the book pretty hard for this, it’s not the best when it comes to named female characters interacting with each other, as it’s mostly Finch and Alice interacting during the book, but there are conversations between Janet, Ingrid and Alice and Audrey and Alice at the end that means this book squeaks past the test.

My next review will be of the final book in Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of The Sands trilogy, Hero At The Fall.



Top Ten Tuesday #153


Hi all! I hope you all had a really great Easter, I don’t really celebrate the religious aspects of the holiday (being an atheist), but it was nice to have my family all together, as we haven’t all been together since Christmas, and my parents are staying up in Stirling for a few weeks so that will be nice.

Anyway, since it’s Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl, this week we’re talking about Favourite Characters In Books We Didn’t Like, but since if I don’t like a book, characters tend to be a big part of that, I’m going to switch the topic around and talk about Characters I Hated In Books I Liked (which yes, I realise seems like a bit of an oxymoron, since I just said that characters are a big part of my reasoning for liking a book, but usually if I like a book, I love the main characters, but there can still be side characters that I don’t like as much). So here we go, Characters I Hated In Books I Liked:

  1. Severus Snape-Harry Potter Series-JK Rowling

Yes, okay, I know this one might be quite an unpopular one, but I hate Snape. I don’t feel like JK Rowling’s justifications for his actions actually justify anything he did. You were bullied and the woman you loved didn’t love you back, big whoop. That doesn’t justify bullying CHILDREN (like Snape was Neville’s biggest fear-how is that okay?). He never would have changed sides were it not for Harry being the chosen one-had it been Neville, he wouldn’t have given a damn. He tortured people, he was at one point a follower of Voldemort, he bullied students and he never really showed remorse for his action.

2. Danny-The Exact Opposite of Okay-Laura Steven

UGH. Danny is exactly like your Ross Geller or your Ted Mosby, thinking he deserves the girl because he’s a supposed “NICE GUY” except he’s not actually nice at all and thinks that he can buy Izzy’s affections if only he gives her enough gifts. Self-proclaimed nice guys are the actual worst.

3. President Snow-The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins

Okay, you’re not meant to like Snow, he is the villain of the series, but I do like The Hunger Games trilogy, so he does fit with the topic! President Snow is just the actual worst, he sends children to their death and doesn’t care and is basically just an egomaniacal tyrant.

4. Dolores Umbridge-Harry Potter Series-JK Rowling

Yes, again, I know we’re not supposed to like her, but she does fit with the topic! I hate Umbridge possibly more than I hate Voldemort, she is just quite frankly a vile woman, and part of the reason that I struggled so much with the fifth Harry Potter book, other than the fact it was so frickin’ huge, was that I wanted to throw the book across the room every time Umbridge appeared in a scene.

5. Nikolai Karimov-The Crown’s Game duology-Evelyn Skye

I wasn’t all that keen on Nikolai in the first book, and then the second one I really hated him, he did a total 180 in character and you just couldn’t root for him at all, he was essentially the villain in the second book, although I didn’t like the second book as much as the first, I’m still counting Nikolai for this as I didn’t really like him all that much in the book of the duology that I actually did like and then it just got worse in the second book.

6. Mason Starkey-Unwind Dystology-Neal Shusterman

Again, you’re probably not really supposed to like Starkey, but I really despised him. At first I felt really sorry for him, but as Unwholly went on, I could totally understand why his parents wanted to unwind him and was kind of actively rooting for him to die? I know, I know, it’s bad, but read the book and you will totally understand! I felt more sorry for Roland than I did for Starkey, because although Roland acts as the villain in Unwind, his actions are more understandable and I don’t think he acted out of outright malice, I didn’t feel like he deserved what he got. Starkey absolutely did.

7. Tamlin-ACOTAR Series-Sarah J Maas

Honestly he’s just such an ass. I hated him in the first book and pointed out in my review that his behaviour towards Feyre was abusive, which is why I couldn’t really understand all of the fangirls being all “you did a complete 180 on his character” in this book, because umm no? The signs of him being abusive were all there in book one, he was just a lot more open about it in book two. Honestly, this is a problem I have with all of SJM’s male fae characters, they’re all really possessive and it bothers me, even the supposedly good ones, show aggressive and possessive tendencies but Tamlin is definitely one of the worst culprits.

8. Jason Grace-Heroes of Olympus Series-Rick Riordan

UGH I LOATHE JASON. I could use Piper for this too, but I’m going to focus on Jason because I do enjoy Piper’s charmspeak powers and she kind of came into herself a lot more in the last HOO book, which redeemed her a little for me. Jason just irritates me, he’s basically a cheap copy of Percy with none of the personality that makes me love Percy so much. I always felt bored reading Jason’s chapters and wanted to move onto one of the more fun members of the seven!

9. Akiva-Daughter of Smoke and Bone-Laini Taylor

I was really enjoying Daughter of Smoke and Bone, right up until Akiva was introduced, and essentially, I hated Akiva so much that it ruined the rest of the book for me, which was really unfortunate! He was just such a damp squib, had no personality to speak of and his affections for Karou felt so contrived, even after their backstory was explained. I’m hoping that maybe he gets more fleshed out in the rest of the trilogy, so he doesn’t irritate me so much!

10. Thomas-The Maze Runner Trilogy-James Dashner

Now whilst I have to admit, The Maze Runner series has been tarnished for me by the revelations that have come out about James Dashner sexually harassing women, when I read it, before I knew any of this, I did like the series, but I always found Thomas really bland and boring, and had it not been for the engaging side characters, I don’t think I would have liked the books anywhere near as much (prior to the whole, “oh by the way, the author is an asshole who has assaulted multiple women).

Over to you! Do you have any characters in books you enjoyed that you just hated? Do we share any? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic Books I Loved But Will Never Reread, which I might have to again alter, because usually if I love a book, I will feel like I want to read it over and over again, but I’ll think about it during the week! In the meantime, I should have my review of The Hazel Wood and my update for March’s #RockMyTBR Challenge very soon, although I have a deadline for Friday, so it likely won’t be before then!