Top Ten Tuesday #172

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Hey guys! So I had a pretty cool weekend this weekend, on Saturday, me and the family went to see the Men’s Team Gymnastics Final at the Hydro in Glasgow. If you didn’t know this about me already, I love gymnastics, I saw the same event at London 2012 and a few years ago went with my parents to see the Men’s All Around Final at the same arena in Glasgow, so yeah, was pretty excited. It was an amazing final and GB did so well, we got the silver medal which was awesome to see (if a little frustrating watching 2/3 of the team fall off on the high bar!).

Anyway, enough of my babbling on about gymnastics, we’re here to talk about books! Well more specifically, book bloggers as today Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl has asked us to compile a list of our favourite book blogs. I’m not entirely sure if I actually have ten of these, but I’m going to give it a go, here are the blogs/bloggers that I really love:

  1. Cait @ Paper Fury-https://paperfury.com/

Of course Cait’s blog was going to be first here! If you are in the book blogging community, you have probably at some point heard of Cait, she is very active on all social media, especially Twitter and Instagram. Cait’s blog is super funny, her reviews are awesome and we’re basically book twins, seriously if I think I want to read a book, I’ll just look at what Cait said about it because 9 out of 10 times, I usually agree! She just put her debut novel A Thousand Perfect Notes out this year, so as well as checking out her blog, you should definitely check that out too.

2. Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner-http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/

Jamie’s blog has become more of a lifestyle + books blog in the last year since having her daughter, but it was always kind of leaning that way anyway, she’s just made the change official now. Jamie’s was actually the blog that inspired me to get into blogging, her posts are always so well written and she made blogging sound like such fun, that I thought, hey maybe I could do that!

3. Grace @ Almost Amazing Grace-http://www.almostamazinggrace.co.uk/

Grace’s blog is again a combination of books and lifestyle stuff, and it was actually her life content that drew me to her blog (though her book content is great too!) as she’s such a frank and honest blogger and talks about such a myraid of topics, plus she’s such a great writer, it’s always fun to read her posts!

4. Hannah @ Books, Life and Other Oddities-https://bookslifeotheroddities.wordpress.com/

I had to include my best friend’s blog here, not only because she’s my best friend, but also because she’s brilliant and funny and we basically have the exact same book taste, so if you like the books I talk about here, you’ll definitely like the books that she talks about. She’s a relatively new blogger, only just started this year, so it would definitely mean a lot to her and to me if you went and gave her blog a follow!

5. Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary-http://queenofcontemporary.com/

I will admit, I follow Lucy more on Twitter than on her blog, but if you love contemporary YA fiction and classics then her blog is definitely worth a read. Lucy runs #ukyachat and is just such an enthusiastic advocate for YA books and books in general and I’m just amazed by how much she’s accomplished at so young, she’s only 18 and her debut novel The Paper and Hearts Society is coming out next year!

6. Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense-https://akernelofnonsense.wordpress.com/

I discovered Alicia’s blog through Top Ten Tuesday and then followed her because we have pretty similar taste in books, so it’s always nice to get recommendations from her blog! She also does super cool discussion posts, called Kernels of Nonsense, which are always really interesting and insightful to read.

7. Kate @ Reading Through Infinity-https://readingthroughinfinity.com/

Kate is another blogger who has quite similar book taste to mine, so of course I love hearing what she has to say about certain books and she is a fellow Schwab fan, so great fun to flail with over one of my favourite authors!

8. Rae @ BookmarkChronicles-https://bookmarkchronicles.wordpress.com/

I was interviewed by Rae for her Summer Spotlight Series earlier in the summer and she was just so lovely to me and had such good questions. She writes great posts about books and about feminism and diversity and just generally has great insights, so is definitely a blogger worth the follow!

9. Angel, An Overthinking Teenager, Cora, Elly, Emily, Hannah, Janet, Michelle, Erin & Sydney @ The Feministas-https://thefeministas.wordpress.com/

I’m breaking off from the prompt ever so slightly to include one non book related blog, because it’s one of my favourites, these girls talk all about feminism and feminist issues and it’s such an important topic and one that I am of course very invested in being a feminist myself, so I love reading these girls thoughts on feminism and all the different issues that women face in our society.

10. Lauren @ SERIESous Book Reviews-http://seriesousbookreviews.com/

Lauren’s blog is really great, because she concentrates on series, so you can find out whether a series is worth your time and energy! She also does series recaps which are super helpful because I don’t know about you, but I end up forgetting a lot of the previous book in a series in the year or two wait for the next one!

So there we go, my favourite book (mostly) bloggers! Have you checked out any of these sites? Do you also like them? Who are your favourite bloggers, book or otherwise? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Books To Pull You Out of A Reading Slump which I am excited for because boy do I have experience with those! In the meantime, I just finished Days of Blood and Starlight, so I think I should have a review of that up for you at the weekend, after my job finishes on Saturday, so check back for that if you are a Laini Taylor fan!

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Fawkes Review (e-ARC)

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Book: Fawkes

Author: Nadine Brandes

Published By: Thomas Nelson Fiction

Expected Publication: 10th July (whoops!)

Format: e-book

Thank you to Thomas Nelson Fiction and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book early, I was super excited with it because 17th century historical fantasy is not something that I come across very often and I love this period of history, so it was definitely something that I was really excited to read.

First off, the concept of the story is so darn cool. Like a retelling of the Gunpowder Plot in an England where everyone uses magical masks to control colours? Definitely one of the more inventive fantasy that I’ve read in a while-I read a lot of fantasy so sometimes it’s difficult to find books that feel new and fresh and original and this one definitely did.

Because the book takes place over two years, the plot is quite slow to start off with, it’s only toward the end of the first section “Grey” and the beginning of the second section “Black” that the pace really starts to pick up as the Gunpowder plot really starts to get underway. It does get better in terms of pace, but those first hundred pages or so were a little bit of a slog to get through as not much is really happening. However once the pace picks up, things get really exciting, especially in the last few sections when the story is getting to its climax.

My interest in the magic system was definitely what kept me reading in the first part of the book when the plot was a little slow-I thought it was so cool and creative. Basically everyone has a mask which they can use to manipulate different colours, the whole idea is that each person should only be able to control one colour but there are some people who want to be able to use all the colours through the use of White Light. The idea of using masks has always fascinated me so combining these with being able to manipulate objects through the use of different colours? Yup, I will never not be obsessed with this magic system.

I wasn’t overly attached to the narrator Thomas at first. He seemed a bit bland and I wasn’t entirely keen on some of the sexist views he espoused at the beginning of the book (he comments that the main female character Emma is better than other girls because she doesn’t show any cleavage *eyeroll*) but I LOVED his character development throughout the book. At first Thomas kind of just seems like he is floating along and not really making any choices of his own but as he grows and learns more throughout the book, he starts striking out on his own and becoming more independent and really thinking about what he wants and what is actually best for the country and by the end I just wanted to give the boy a hug. At the start of the book, I was like, yeah Thomas is okay, but he’s a bit bland and boring and by the end I was like LOOK AT MY BOY, HE’S BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH AND HE’S JUST TRYING HIS BEST AND I MUST PROTECT THE PRECIOUS (I only have two speeds for characters apparently, bland indifference or must protect at all costs). He has a bit of a hero complex but that’s understandable for a 17th century man and for the most part I did find it kind of endearing. It was great to see a YA novel with a male first person narrator, that’s much rarer that it really should be.

The main female character Emma, I just adored. I love historical women who want to go outside of the box society has set for them, and Emma just totally embodies that. She wants to strike out on her own and paint for a living and no one will hire her to be an apprentice even though she’s an amazing artist and skilled at using colour power (because sexism) but she doesn’t let the fact that no one is willing to give her a chance stop her from trying. She’s super powerful, and really brave and compassionate and I loved getting to see such a well rounded female character. She’s also black, because yes, black people did exist in 17th Century Britain and the author does explore the racism that she faces, but at the same time, Emma’s story isn’t totally about that.

I loved seeing the development of the relationship between Thomas and Emma, they have a really sweet relationship and Thomas learns and grows so much from Emma, at first he’s like MUST BE A MAN AND PROTECT and then he’s like, okay, this girl can stand up for herself. His relationship with Emma is also key in his decisions towards the end of the book. Emma also learns and grows from Thomas as well, as she sees what she really wants out of a relationship and learns that she does not have to stay with the boy who is blackmailing her. It was so nice to see a relationship in a YA book that is based on mutual respect, we need more of these!

If you know the history of the Gunpowder Plot, the story is relatively predictable (and of course, you will know how it ends before you get there) but Nadine’s magical twists and turns mean that the predictability of the historical part of the story never gets boring. I particularly loved the villain of the story, without wanting to give away too much, he was really great and I thought the Stone Plague was a great way of adapting the plague at the time to fit a magical story.

I loved how much the father/son relationship of Guy and Thomas was central to the story, as parent/child relationships are so rare in YA and it was great to see their relationship grow and develop through the story, especially since they had been estranged before the events of the story, so they are really just meeting each other for the first time.

The whole Keeper/Igniter war is very reminiscent of the Catholic/Protestant divisions in the 17th century, and I’m pretty sure that White Light is supposed to signify God, but it’s not whack you over the head with it religion, so if you’re not a big fan of books with religious themes, don’t worry, they are here, but they are relatively subtle and I thought it was quite a clever way to combine religion with the fantasy aspects of the book.

I liked the way that the real life plotters were incorporated into the book, aside from Catesby, I didn’t really know much about the other plotters so it was great to get to learn a bit more about the plotters that you don’t hear as much about through this book. The whole thing at Holbeche House, I had no idea that actually happened, I assumed they were all caught at the same time, so that was definitely interesting to find out about-I love it when I read historical books and they teach me something new!

I liked how White Light was kind of snarky and had a sense of humour-my favourite kind of character, even though White Light is more of a presence than a character, but you get my point!

There were a few gruesome bits, especially involving the plague, so if you are a bit squeamish, just be pre-warned that there are some gross bits in this book!

The ending was bittersweet, I’m glad that the author stuck to the history, because we all know how the Gunpowder Plot worked out, though it was heartbreaking to read about but also that there was a glimmer of hope for Thomas and Emma, because it would have kind of sucked if she had ended with the death of Guy Fawkes (it’s history guys, the end to the Gunpowder Plot is not a spoiler) and just left on that sad note, without offering any sort of hope for the future, so it was nice to have a not totally depressing ending!

Overall, this was a really great historical fantasy, such a unique and creative take on a well known historical event and it was definitely great to read a historical book about a time period that is not explored enough in my opinion. I am definitely looking forward to reading Nadine Brandes’ next book because its about the Romanovs and I LOVE the Romanovs!

My Rating: 4/5

BECHDEL TEST: FAIL-Emma is really the only named female character in this book because 17th century, of course we can’t have more than one woman……*eyerolls viciously*

My next review will be of Days of Blood and Starlight, the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

Top Ten Tuesday #171

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Hey guys! I was on such a YALC high last week, having just come back and written up all my wrap up posts, that I totally forgot to celebrate the fact that it was my 170th TTT-a pretty big milestone I think, so yay for that! This past week has been much quieter, I’ve just been back at work, but I’m going up to Scotland to watch the Men’s Team Final in Gymnastics at the European Championships in Glasgow this weekend, so I am unbelievably excited for that!

Anyway, since today is Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday for you all, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we’re talking Books We’d Like To Mash Together (so kind of like crossover fic I guess, book characters from different worlds we’d love to see interact) and I think this one could be kind of hard, because to be honest, I’ve never really thought about it, but I’m gonna give it a go:

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic/Throne of Glass-VE Schwab/Sarah J Maas

Whilst the worlds and the authors’ writing styles wouldn’t be perfect fits, the idea of their two feisty heroines meeting is too good of an opportunity to pass up. I would love to see if Lila and Aelin would be fast friends or instant enemies and it would be even more interesting to see Lila and Manon interact. I’d love to see Aelin strolling down the streets of Red London, enraptured by the magic and the shopping and I’d love to see Lila living it up on a wyvern in Erilea.

2. Percy Jackson/Skulduggery Pleasant-Rick Riordan/Derek Landy

Seriously, someone just needs to send a memo to these two letting them know that they need to write together ASAP, because a book co-written by the two of them would be the funniest thing ever. I’d love to see how Valkyrie would react if she was just dropped in the middle of Camp Half-Blood and I think the kids at Camp Half-Blood would find her very different sort of magic quite interesting. I’d love to see Percy and Skulduggery trade witticisms as well and see which one got on the others’ nerves first!

3. Harry Potter/Percy Jackson-JK Rowling/Rick Riordan

Yes, I know I’m using a repeat book series here, but I honestly think Percy Jackson and Harry Potter would be a really natural fit. I think it would be interesting to see how Annabeth and Hermione got on, given that they are quite similar in character, and I think the Camp Half-Blood kids would love Hogwarts!

4. Heist Society/Six of Crows-Ally Carter/Leigh Bardugo

Two very different worlds and very different heist books but I think it would be super interesting to see how these characters would interact, how Kat and co. would manage in Ketterdam given how different it is from the world they’re used to and how Kaz and co. would manage in the real world, especially Nina and Jesper since they wouldn’t be able to use their Grisha powers!

5. Artemis Fowl/HIVE-Eoin Colfer/Mark Walden

Artemis Fowl was pretty much tailor made for HIVE, being a young criminal himself so I think he would be right at home in the school for young villains. I also think it would be super cool to see how he and Otto would interact, given how similar they are and to see how Otto would feel about a world where fairies, centaurs, elves, dwarves and various other mythological creatures are real!

6. Breathe/Pure-Sarah Crossan/Julianna Baggott

The whole dome setting in Breathe was pretty similar to Julianna’s idea in Pure where the Pures all live separately inside a dome type area as well and I think it would be pretty interesting to see how the characters from each world would interact with the others, how would Bea, Alina and Quinn react to Pressia’s fusing? How would Pressia manage in a world where oxygen isn’t readily available-I mean her world is pretty desolate, but they don’t go around having to wear oxygen tanks!

7. A Darker Shade of Magic/The Bone Season-VE Schwab/Samantha Shannon

Honestly, I don’t know if this is because I saw these two authors on a panel together, or because I just love both their writing because their books are quite different and yet I can’t help but I think Paige’s dystopian London combined with Lila and Kell’s many Londons would be awesome. I feel like Paige would fit right in in Grey London since Paige’s London reads as quite Victorian-esque and I think she’d love the magic in Red London and getting to travel through worlds with Lila and Kell. I also think Lila would be fascinated by Paige’s clairvoyancy as it would be something she hadn’t come across before.

8. Divergent/The Hunger Games-Veronica Roth/Suzanne Collins

How interesting would it be to see two famous dystopians smashed together? I’d love to see how Tris would manage in The Hunger Games, I think she’d do quite well and I’d also love to see what faction Katniss would be sorted into if she was in Tris’s Chicago, I think probably Dauntless, but maybe Abnegation since sacrificing yourself for your sister is pretty selfless!

9. The Raven Cycle/The Bone Season-Maggie Stiefvater/Samantha Shannon

Very different worlds in terms of story and scope, but both have a huge element of clairvoyancy in them, albeit of different types, so it would be quite interesting to see how Paige would react to Blue’s family’s very different type of voyancy! I also think Ronan and Paige would have a lot to talk about given that both of their powers involve dreams. I don’t know how well the Gangsey would get on in Scion, but I think Paige would love to have a break from Scion and spend her time looking for dead Welsh kings instead!

10. The Night Circus/The Crown’s Game-Erin Morgenstern/Evelyn Skye

The premise behind these two books are kind of similar: a magical duel, both set in the past, though in different countries and eras and the two male main characters share quite a lot of similarities, both adopted, both wear top hats, both gentleman. I think it would be interesting to see how Celia and Marco would react to Imperial Russia and if they were there, would they be put in for the The Crown’s Game? Or would they just watch and marvel at what Vika and Nikolai can do? I’d love to see Nikolai and Marco meet because I think they’re quite similar. As for Vika and Celia? Less similarities but I think they’d get on well. I also think that Vika and Nikolai would love The Night Circus and would probably have ideas of new things to add with their own enchantments!

So there we go, Books I’d Mash Together! That was a tough one and I think I was making quite thin and tenuous connections by the end, but hey, I got ten and I would totally read any of these mashups (hint hint authors, hint hint). Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you think my mashups would be good? What books would you mash together? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Favourite Book Blogs/Bookish Websites, so I’ll have to have a look through my bookmarks and see which blogs I enjoy visiting often! In the meantime, I don’t really have much planned for the blog this week, given I’m going to be very busy at work, but you should see my review of Fawkes sometime soon, maybe at the end of this week/beginning of next? Anyway, either way, I’ll be back with new content soon!

#RockMyTBR July Update (2018)

Hi everyone! August is upon us (how, what, why, when, I do not understand how time does this to us? January lasts forever and then the rest of the year flies by!). July was a super busy month for me, first with work and then with YALC last weekend, so whilst I somehow acquired ALL the books, I sadly did not read ALL the books, I only read two, the first time this has happened in a summer since I started blogging. But hey, I can’t read all the books, all the time, and I definitely shouldn’t feel guilty about that *I tell myself, whilst still feeling guilty*.

Anyway, for those of you who are new to my blog and aren’t familiar with this feature (welcome!), #RockMyTBR is a challenge originally created by Sarah K at The Book Traveller where she challenges us to cut down our TBRs, I started doing it in 2016, and I’ve kind of co-opted it for myself this year as I don’t think she’s officially running the challenge. So like I said, July wasn’t a great month for me, reading wise, so here are the two books that I did read this month:

25322449Radio Silence by Alice Oseman:

This was my #RockMyTBR read for the month and I also read it as a YALC prep book, because the author was at YALC. I liked aspects of this book, the focus of friendship, the worries about University and the future and the diversity of the book but I did find it incredibly slow and the plot was quite uneven, there were too many different strands and they didn’t really fit together for most of the book and I thought the characters were a bit flat. It was a decent book, I just don’t think it was right for me. I read this book from 27th June-9th July. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/radio-silence-review/

36859561Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi:

So if you’ve read my review of this book which I posted on Friday, it will be no secret to you guys that I LOVED this book. A beautifully creative and wonderfully diverse fantasy world, an intricate and interesting magic system and a generally engaging plot made for wonderful reading, it was just a shame about the lacklustre romance otherwise this totally would have been a five star read for me! I was so sad that the author’s signing line was too long at YALC (as this was one of my other YALC prep reads) for me to get this book signed. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/children-of-blood-and-bone-legacy-of-orisha-1-review/

So that’s what I read in July, this is what I have coming up this month:

Days of Blood and Starlight-Laini Taylor-I’m already about halfway through this book and kind of unsure about it, there’s less focus on Prague this time and more on Eretz and the magical stuff, which is fine, I do like the fantastical aspects of this book, it’s just the Karou/Akiva angst is kind of grating on me at the moment. I don’t know, we’ll see how this one turns out.

Fawkes-Nadine Brandes-This is my Netgalley read from last month (I DNF’ed Spinning Silver and started this instead) and I’ve been really enjoying it, my only complaint is that I’m so busy with work, I don’t have time to read it as quickly as I would like to! I’m about 3/4 of the way through this one, so close to finishing, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all winds up.

Undecided 2nd physical book-Okay so basically I don’t know when I’m likely to finish DOBAS because of how busy I am at work, so I’m not gonna decided what my second August book is gonna be until I know how much of the month I have left to read it: my options (i.e. books I am not sending back up to Scotland with my mother this week) are Tower of Dawn, Our Dark Duet, Ash & Quill or The Game of Love & Death, so basically, if I finish DOBAS by the end of next week then I’ll probably go Tower of Dawn or Our Dark Duet, if it takes longer then I’ll be reading Ash & Quill or The Game of Love and Death.

Sea Witch-Sarah Henning-My other Netgalley for this month, which I’ll be starting once I’ve finished Fawkes. I’m really excited for this one, I love villain stories, and I think the Witch from The Little Mermaid is a really interesting one, so I’m excited to see Henning’s take on this.

So there we go, that’s my August TBR. I probably won’t finish all of them, but I would really like to get three if possible! I’m still 3 books ahead of my Goodreads challenge so that’s making me very happy! How is your reading going so far this year? Let me know in the comments!

Oh and I know I plugged this on my Twitter, but I just thought I’d share the link again here for any blog followers who don’t also follow me on Twitter, I did an interview with BookmarkChronicles for her Summer Spotlight series and it just went live this week, so if you want to know a little more about me and my blog, it would mean a lot to both me and her if you checked it out:

https://bookmarkchronicles.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/summer-spotlight-series-jo/

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1) Review

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Book: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

This book was another one of my YALC prep reads, though I only finished it on the first day of YALC hence why you are getting the review of it now, and in a slightly sad turn of events, I didn’t get to meet Tomi Adeyemi in the end because her signing queue was simply too long for her to get to everyone in the time she had, awesome for her, slightly sad for me and my friend. Anyway, the hype surrounding this book was huge, so I was slightly nervous to read it in case it didn’t live up to my expectations, but thankfully, it was AMAZING and is definitely now one of my favourite books of the year. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us. 
Now we rise. 

Zelie remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zelie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden. 

Zelie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zelie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orisha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zelie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

This book was just….ugh…I apologise in advance for this being a likely totally flaily and probably incoherent review but I am just super in love with this book and this world and these characters that I can’t even…..it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t get a chance to meet Tomi Adeyemi at YALC because I am totally not coherent about my love for this book yet.

Obviously the diversity in this book is absolutely amazing. I can’t even remember the last time I read a book with an all black cast, if I ever have which I’m not sure about, so that was so amazing to see and I can’t even imagine how great it must be for black readers to see that kind of representation on page, since I’m a white woman who never really has to think about seeing myself represented in books, so yeah, it was definitely great to have an #ownvoices all black story and I seriously hope the success of this book means that we’ll get to see more of these types of story, particularly in fantasy novels.

I thought the world building was so great, I loved all the different maji clans and the history behind each clan’s magic, I thought Orisha as a country with all the culture, the animals, the food, the currency was really well thought out, I could have done with maybe seeing a bit more of different Orishan places, but I think overall Tomi Adeyemi did a really good job: Orisha was quite a sprawling, complex world but I felt like I really knew their history and culture and everything by the end which is always what you want. I also loved that there were ten different clans and we got to explore lots of different types of magic, I thought that was super cool. It was also interesting to have a world where religion played such a big role, I have known a lot of fantasy books that have utilised a religion of sorts but it is usually background, Zelie’s belief in her gods had a big impact on her actions in the book, so that was interesting to see.

I loved most of the characters, I thought all the main characters were well developed and complex and each went through their own journeys through the book. I wasn’t overly keen on Zelie at the beginning, I understood why she was so angry and I appreciated that Adeyemi allowed her to be angry because often girls in books aren’t, I just felt like she was unnecessarily cruel to Amari in the beginning and that she didn’t really learn from her reckless, impulsive decisions and it was left to everyone else to get her out of the mistakes she had made; I could definitely understand Tzain’s exasperation with her! I did feel like she developed through the book and I definitely felt for her pain and everything she went through, I just didn’t love her to quite the same extent as I loved Amari. Amari was definitely my fave of this book, she goes through such a journey from scared princess to powerful warrior (who still loves to do hair and makeup and is traditionally feminine, which is great to see) and I found her quite easy to root for, because she clearly wants to try and do the right thing and she’s overcome a lot of abuse from her father.

Inan, I had slightly complicated feelings about. His motivations are just as complicated as Zelie and Amari’s and you do feel bad for him, because like Amari, he is overcoming abuse from their father (Inan is Amari’s brother) but I did find his chapters rather repetitive and sometimes you just wanted to scream at him “MAKE UP YOUR MIND”. However I appreciated that Adeyemi didn’t just make him a cookie cutter villain and explored his motivations and tensions between magic and his loyalty to the crown.

Tzain was the one main character that I felt fell kind of flat. Perhaps it was because he wasn’t a POV character in this book, but it kind of felt like his only purpose was saving Zelie’s ass when she did something stupid (ie frequently) or mooning over Amari. I hope that in the next book, he gets a POV so he can be explored more because I reckon he could be really interesting, we just haven’t seen enough of him yet.

I liked that the cause for and against magic wasn’t black and white, you get to see the oppression of those with magic, which is clearly wrong, but you also get to see how dangerous magic can be, and you can sort of understand where the King is coming from even if his method of dealing with it is totally barbaric and definitely is not the way to deal. It made the book a lot more interesting than if it was just “Magic is amazing, the King is awful”.

I wish the King had been more developed as a villain though, you get some understanding of what he did to his children and what motivates him, but he did feel like somewhat of a flat villain at times and I think he could have been expanded upon more.

I loved the sibling relationships between Tzain and Zelie and Inan and Amari, though I felt like Inan and Amari’s relationship could have been more developed. However I did love that familial relationships were front and centre in this book, because so often they are ignored, so it was great to see that!

The romance was the one place where the book kind of fell flat for me and it contributed to the pacing issues I had with the book. The start of the book was a little slow, but it soon picked up but then as soon as the romance between Zelie and Inan was introduced it felt like everything slowed down and concentrated way too much on them rather than the overarching plot. I also felt like Zelie and Inan’s romance didn’t really make sense, they hated each other and then ten seconds later, they seemed to be proclaiming their love and planning for a new Orisha together. It didn’t feel earned, so I wasn’t invested in it at all. Tzain and Amari’s relationship never really developed past the crush stage, but I kind of had to wonder why that was there, since it was a little weird to have all four characters paired up with each other, especially since they were two groups of siblings! Personally, I felt the romance feels more from Zelie and Amari and seriously hope they become a thing in the next book, since I definitely read possible lesbian vibes between Amari and her maid and I’m pretty sure, whether she’s bisexual or a lesbian, Amari definitely didn’t read as straight to me!

There were so many great action sequences but at times it did feel like the violence was a bit gratuitous, like the whole boat death match sequence, they could have got the stone another way and it didn’t really add much to the book.

The chapters were generally quite short which I appreciated-it made the book a lot more easily digestible for me as I was mostly reading it on my bus journeys to and from work!

I loved having the map and the explanations of the different Maji clans at the beginning, they were very useful to refer to throughout the book and the map was beautiful!

I’m always a bit wary about the use of mind reading powers in books as there are a lot of iffy issues with consent there, and I found that as well as that, there were generally a couple of iffy scenes where the girls would say no to something (like Amari not wanting to dance and then Tzain dragging her to do it anyway, and Inan pushing Zelie up against a tree) and the boys would ignore them and I felt like that could have been easily rectified or at least acknowledged.

It would have helped me if there had been a glossary for the unfamiliar Yoruba words, I loved the inclusion of the language but it would have been nice to know how to pronounce those words I was reading!

This book explored so many really important issues, prejudice, colourism, slavery, police brutality, it was great to see these things talked about in such an open way as they are all really important things that we definitely need to talk about more.

The alternating three POVs were for the most part done really well, though on occasion, particularly between Zelie and Amari’s POVs, I would get confused as to which character was narrating!

I did generally like Adeyemi’s writing style, though it did seem slightly overwritten in parts and occasionally, the dialogue was overly formal and stilted. Plus the dreaded “breath she didn’t know she was holding” line appeared and I know it can be a genuine thing in anxiety to not realise that you are holding your breath, but I wish authors could find a different way to express it because it’s so overused!

The author’s note at the end, explaining her inspirations for the book was extremely powerful and if you don’t usually read the author’s notes then definitely do this time because she explains her real life inspirations for the book, and it was quite heartrending to read.

THE END, OH MY GOSH THE END, THAT WAS JUST MEAN. I did feel like the end was a little rush, because of all the romance stuff in the middle, by the time we got to the end, it felt like both the author and the characters were racing through and I really needed a second to take a breath! Having said that, I loved the way everything wrapped up, even though that ending was cruel, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

Overall, I really loved this book, despite the few small problems I had with it, and can definitely understand why everyone has been hyping it up so much, it’s a wonderful, diverse, fantasy world with great characters and a great plot and 2019 cannot come soon enough because I NEED to know what happens next. Definitely a top book of 2018 for sure!

My Rating: 4.5/5 (0.5 off for the pacing problems and my lack of love for the romance)

BECHDEL TEST: PASS-Zelie and Amari talk about magic and the things they need to do to save Orisha.

My next review will be of my current Netgalley read, Fawkes, a retelling of the Gunpowder plot, which I’m really enjoying.

Top Ten Tuesday #170

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Hi guys! I hope you’ve all had a great week since I last did one of these. I’m getting back to normality after an intensely bookish weekend at YALC and let me tell you, I do not enjoy it so much! It always seems like YALC takes forever to come around every year and then goes by in a flash.

Anyway, as today is Tuesday, I have another Top Ten Tuesday for you guys, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today we are talking Popular Books That Are Worth The Hype, which I think is a great topic because so often I read popular books that let me down, so it will be awesome to share the ones that matched or even exceeded my hyped expectations. Here we go then, my Top Ten Popular Books That Were Worth The Hype:

  1. Children of Blood and Bone-Tomi Adeyemi

Starting off with a super recent one, it seemed like everyone was talking about this book for a long time after it came out and I finally got around to reading it just a couple of weeks ago. All I can say is WHOA. I totally get now why everyone loves it so much and I seriously need the next book ASAP.

2. A Darker Shade of Magic-VE Schwab

I kept seeing ADSOM appear on people’s top ten lists, I think back in 2016, and it sounded interesting so I thought why not add it to be TBR. Best thing I ever did, because I LOVED it and VE Schwab is now one of my absolute favourite authors and writing idols, so thank you to every blogger who said her books were amazing (I’ve also met her I think three times now, what is this life????).

3. Six of Crows-Leigh Bardugo

Another one that absolutely EVERYONE seemed to be talking about, so when I found out my friend at Uni who has very similar book taste to me loved this book, I just had to read it. Again definitely a great decision because a year later and I am devouring everything Leigh Bardugo that I can find and am completely obsessed by the Dregs, so much so that I was getting excited along with everyone else when she announced there would at some point in the future be a Six of Crows 3! I need more Nina and Jesper darn it!

4. Legendary-Stephanie Garber

I probably should have gone with Caraval since that’s the first in the series, but I decided to go with Legendary as that’s the one I liked better. YOU GUYS, THIS BOOK. I mean the first one was good, but this book is a whole other level of awesome, the world gets bigger, darker, twistier and our narrator is Tella this time, who is just…..amazing, I love her. READ THIS BOOK (And Caraval of course) if you haven’t already.

5, Throne of Glass series-Sarah J Maas

So I actually read the first two of these before I even really knew who Sarah J Maas was and that her books were massive in the blogosphere, I was a newbie blogger at the time and wasn’t really aware about the hype surrounding books yet? Anyway now her books have kind of blown up into the stratsophere and all I can say is that they are so worth it, this series is amazing and I can’t wait to see how it all ends in October.

6. The Book Thief-Markus Zusak

A rare standalone on my list! The Book Thief is one of my favourite books of all time and I’ve heard so many other bloggers say the same, it’s one of those universally beloved books that can be a bit daunting to read if you’re new to it because you know how much everyone else loves it. All I can say is: do it. The Book Thief is an incredible book, so sad, so moving and just a genuinely beautiful story that you absolutely need in your life.

7. The Raven Cycle-Maggie Stiefvater

I’m gonna go super hipster here and be like “I read this before they were popular”. It’s true though, I picked up the first book from Waterstones, I think not long after it had been released and just totally fell in love and wanted to devour the next one as soon as possible. By the time I started blogging, the third one had been released and I realised there were other people like me out there who loved this series. If you like slightly odd, creepy books with a focus on friendship then definitely read this series!

8. Code Name Verity-Elizabeth Wein

I can’t even with this book. It’s just so unbelievably sad and yet SO, SO Good. It’s focused all around female friendship, zero romance, and it has one of the best, most beautiful friendships I’ve ever read in any book period. You will fall in love with the characters, you will laugh, you will cry and you will wonder how it was possible to have your heart broken so completely by a book. Read it. The pain is worth it.

9. Any and all Rick Riordan books

Rick Riordan writes the most funny, most amazing middle grade fantasy I think I’ve ever read. As a Greek mythology nut as a kid, his books were absolutely perfect for me and even now at 21, I’m still reading and enjoying them because his writing is just so darn good. If you like mythology, doesn’t matter what age you are, you should definitely pick up a Rick Riordan book, you won’t regret it (Percy is worth it!).

10. Rebel of The Sands-Alwyn Hamilton

Another Jo being a hipster story: my friend and I met Alwyn Hamilton our very first year at YALC before Rebel had been published. We really liked her and liked the sound of her story so we entered to win a manuscript copy (spoiler alert: we did not win). Anyway, almost a year or so later when her book came out, I read it, loved it and then it seemed to explode all over the blogosphere. It’s such a creative mix of Wild West and Arabian Nights and so fun and fast paced, if you haven’t read it already you must! (and if you ever get the chance to meet Alwyn, go, she’s a sweetheart).

So there we go, Popular Books I’ve Read Which Were Worth The Hype. Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? Does anyone disagree with me? (that’s okay, we’re all friends here!) What books have you read that you think are worth the hype? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Books We’d Mash Together, which I’m not quite sure about, so I may change it, we’ll see. In the meantime, I will definitely have my promised Children of Blood and Bone for you guys soon, my laptop charger is broken and I can’t commandeer my parents’ computer for the length of time it takes me to write reviews! The new one is arriving tomorrow though, so the review will definitely be up before the week is out.

YALC 2018 Recap (Day One)

Hi all! If you haven’t heard me excitedly shouting about it for the last month, or are new to the blog, then you might not know that I had a very fun bookish weekend this weekend: on Friday and Saturday, I was at YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention held at Olympia in London where for three days at the end of July, UK, Irish and some American authors come to sign their books, do panels and workshops and there are agent talks and it’s all generally just a lot of fun! This year, I went with my friend Hannah again (yes the one who appears in all these posts, she has her own book blog now, BooksLifeandOtherOddities, so you should definitely follow her) but we also added a new face this year, Hannah’s friend, also called Hannah (yes our group chat was incredibly confusing), so we go to show off YALC to a newbie, which was fun!

I had organised all my stuff the night before, so basically all that was left to do in the morning were some last minute checks that I had everything and then I was on the bus on the way to the station. I spent the entire journey down to London finishing Children of Blood and Bone as I was hoping to meet Tomi Adeyemi on Saturday (more on that in the next post), which by the way, I am absolutely obsessed with now, you guys were not wrong, that book is AMAZING.

My journey from Kings Cross was a bit of a nightmare because they stupidly decided to do engineering works on the Olympia line on the biggest weekend of the year for that station, so I first had to get an tube to Edgware Road, which then got stopped for a while at a red signal and then finally a tube to High Street Kensington, where I then got a bus to the convention centre. Unsurprisingly with all that, Hannah and Hannah both beat me there! We got some food from the Tesco Express and then some cash out before we headed into the convention centre.

Once we had put our extra bags in the cloakroom, we arrived just in time for the talk on pitching and submission letters in the Agents Arena, which Hannah (YALC friend Hannah, not new Hannah, this is going to get super confusing) and I both really wanted to go to, so we all went into that. It was really helpful, I took a lot of notes and feel a lot more prepared now for querying than I had before. We had to practise elevator pitches and I was completely awful at it, could not get either of my novels down to two lines! Some people came up and read their pitches but Hannah and I were too nervous to (new Hannah did though and hers was really good, she’s an author though, so it’s understandable!).

After the submission letter talk, they had several other agents come in and join Danielle (the agent who had been giving the talk) and we then had the opportunity to have five minutes to pitch our novels to the agents. I was really nervous but I decided to do it, and I’m glad I did, because the agent I pitched to, Polly Nolan (PaperFury’s agent!) was so lovely. She said she actually thought she had heard of my blog (I was wearing one of JennieLy’s lanyards with my blog name on it) which was so nice to hear, gave me some great advice on my book and said she thought it sounded very marketable, which was wonderful to hear! Of course, I would still want to keep writing it whatever, but it is great to hear someone in the industry say they think your book would have a chance at selling well.

After we had done all of the agent talks we wanted to, it was nearing the time for the panel we wanted to go and see on the Centenary of Women’s right to vote in the UK, so we had our lunch (I had a chicken and bacon sub and a really big bag of quavers, it was great) and then went to Waterstones so that Hannah (YALC friend Hannah) could buy Hero At The Fall for Alwyn Hamilton’s signing which was soon after and I could buy Louise O’Neill’s book (The Surface Breaks) for her signing. I also convinced Hannah to buy Louise O’Neill’s book Asking For It, because you know, I’m a book pusher and it’s a really great book.

We then headed into the panel and it was good, if a little bit loud, we might have actually enjoyed it more if we hadn’t been so close to the front! It was interesting to hear all the writer’s points about feminism and voting and female characters in YA, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with all their answers (there was a little too much focus on strong female characters having to kick butt rather than different kinds of strength and one of the authors was talking about Ballet Shoes as an example of where the more masculine female character isn’t described as plain, which she totally is, she mentions on more than one occasion being jealous of her older sister who is seen as prettier than she is). For some reason, it had gone completely over my head that Katherine Webber was American, so I was a bit surprised when I heard the American accent, even though I totally shouldn’t have been!

Anyway, after the panel, we headed to the signings. Alwyn’s queue was ticketed, so we got our tickets and then left to go to the other signings we wanted to. Matt Kileen’s was thankfully short, so we went to see him and I told him how great I thought his publicity team’s proof packages were. I probably should have said how great I though his book was, but it was what came into my head at the time! We also went to Sally Nicholls’ signing line and got her book signed, that was relatively quick as her queue wasn’t too long.

Once we had got those signed, we went to find the seating area, because we were a little bit tired after having quite an intense morning! I have to admit, YALC really should improve their seating, bean bags on the floor and a couple of chairs aren’t good enough, especially for people with disabilities who need to sit.

We kept going back and checking if our numbers were up in Alwyn Hamilton’s queue after that, but it took quite a while, so we mostly sat and waited. We did explore the stalls a little, I bought Bygone Badass Broads from the Abrams Books stand which I am super excited to read. By this time, I was also desperate for the loo, so I was quite thankful for the break. Alwyn’s queue took a long time to get moving, because she wanted to make sure she chatted a little to everyone which I thought was super sweet, but I think the staff supervising the signing were getting a bit stressed with how long it was taking!

We finally got to Alwyn’s line, but even near the front, it was still going quite slowly. We noticed that Louise O’Neill was doing her signing quite close by, and were told that she was about to leave and we really wanted to get our books signed. A man in Alwyn’s queue very generously agreed to save our spot for us, so we dashed back, grabbed our books and got Louise to sign them before she left. Naturally we didn’t really get a chance to talk to her much as she needed to leave, but we told her we were looking forward to reading them and she thanked us for coming!

Then it was finally our turn in Alwyn’s line! We’ve been to so many of these by this point that she knows who we are by now, and she said it was lovely to see us again and we just chatted for a few minutes about the con and all the fun we’d been having. We asked her about her next book and she said she’s currently editing it at the moment and I got to actually commiserate with a real life published author about editing woes because I am also editing at the moment-WHAT IS THIS LIFE! We got a photo and then left, having reached I think peak fangirl for that day!

Alwyn’s signing was our last signing of the day, so we had some time to chill a bit after that. We sat for a little while and then we wandered around the stalls as we hadn’t really got a chance to see many of them yet. I picked up This Is Where It Ends from the SourceBooks stand, which I was pleased with, as I got it for £2 cheaper than I would have if I’d bought it at Waterstones earlier (there were a couple of times through the weekend where I saw books I had already bought that I could have got cheaper at YALC, so it was nice to finally get a win on the money front!).

We wandered round more of the stalls, Hannah (new Hannah) chatted to a lot of the stall holders, but Hannah and I mostly just wandered looking at all the pretty things. We spent a while at a new stand that I don’t think was there the past few years, that sold cool bookish mugs and I got an amazing one that says “If My Book is Open, Your Mouth is Closed” which is basically my motto for life. We finally stopped at the Hot Key stand and all three of us bought a copy of To Kill a Kingdom, which was part of the 3 for £10 deal. All of us had quite a light book buying day, Hannah (new Hannah) bought four books, To Kill A Kingdom and then the first three Throne of Glass books, which I told her she should buy (yes, I do book pushing even on people I’ve only known for a matter of hours) and Hannah (YALC Hannah) bought I think five books, Asking For It, Hero At The Fall, To Kill A Kingdom, Caraval and The Raven King. Honestly I preferred it that way, because everything I bought this year is something that I really want to read, so I won’t have to worry about losing interest in it, like I have done with some books I’ve bought in previous years.

We decided to head after that, it was only about 5.15 and the con was still open for another hour or so, but all three of us were quite tired and we didn’t want to hit all of the stalls on Friday, otherwise we would have had nothing to do on Saturday. So we then left and headed off to have dinner at the Pizza Express near Olympia. Hannah (new Hannah) wasn’t particularly hungry, but Hannah (YALC Hannah) and I were, so I had Lasagne and Hannah had pasta. I also polished off a rather delicious cheesecake dessert. There was a thunderstorm outside so we chatted for a while inside the restaurant about our day and general life stuff before leaving.

We then had to go our separate ways as Hannah (YALC Hannah) had to head home and Hannah (new Hannah) and I, had to go to our Travelodge in Kingston. I was a bit nervous about sharing a hotel room with someone I hadn’t met before that day, but I shouldn’t have worried, we talked pretty much constantly on the journey back as we’d got to know each other over the course of the day and despite me worrying that Kingston might be a bit far out, we actually made it to our hotel in about an hour.

So yeah, we made it to our hotel and just kind of chilled for a bit before heading to bed relatively early (I mean it was 11.00 but that is pretty early for me!) as we were both quite tired from our intense day of bookish fun! Our first day at YALC was definitely a success though and we were both super excited for the next day.

My signed copy of Orphan Monster Spy

My signed copy of Hero At The Fall

My signed copy of Things A Bright Girl Can Do

My signed copy of The Surface Breaks

My Friday haul, purchases on the left, signed books on the right (The Surface Breaks is both a purchase book and a signed one!).

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Us with Alwyn Hamilton

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A quick selfie between stall shopping!

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Enjoying dinner after a hard day of YALCing! Sorry for the blurry photo 🙂