Top Ten Tuesday #201

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Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I had Samantha Shannon’s Priory event in Glasgow last week, and it was so great, I’m even more excited to read Priory now than I was before. I’m also finally nearing the end of my project work, which is an amazing feeling!

Anyway, since it’s Tuesday, I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking Characters I’d Like To Switch Places With, and although switching places with some of my favourite book characters would mean danger and pretty certain death, I’d do it quite happily as long as I got to have adventures along the way. So here we go:

  1. Lila Bard-Shades of Magic Trilogy-V.E. Schwab

I would just love to have even half the confidence of Lila. Swaggering around Red London, threatening to stab people, learning magic? Yup, I would quite happily do all of that. Lila is willing to risk anything even pretty certain death for the sake of an adventure and if that isn’t a mood, I don’t know what is. Plus, if I was Lila, maybe Kell would let me borrow his coat…..

2. Celeana Sardothien-Throne of Glass series-Sarah J Maas

Again, Celeana just swaggers around acting like the world owes her everything, which yes, I would love to have that level of sheer confidence. I can’t say I’d make a particularly good assassin, but I’d love to have the chance to use her fire powers, blowing your enemies to oblivion sounds like fun!

3. Hermione Granger-Harry Potter series-JK Rowling

I just really, really, really want to go to Hogwarts okay! Although I’ll be honest, it would probably be better swapping places with someone who went to Hogwarts before Harry ever arrived, because I’d rather not be risking my life against Voldemort. Still, it would be so much fun to switch places with Hermione and get to go to all the cool lessons at Hogwarts, explore Hogsmeade and just generally have fun with magic.

4. Percy Jackson-Percy Jackson Universe-Rick Riordan

Again, it would probably be quite dangerous to be Percy, I mean he’s attacked by monsters A LOT, but I’d still do it, because even though those quests sound dangerous, they also seem like a lot of fun. Plus I’d get to live at Camp Half-Blood, and do all the cool activities (I really want to try chariot racing) and hang out with my demigod friends and most importantly have demigod powers!

5. Skulduggery Pleasant-Skulduggery Pleasant series-Derek Landy

Would I enjoy being a walking, talking, magical skeleton detective? I think I would. Granted, being a skeleton would be a little weird, but Skulduggery seems to pull it off, so I see no reason why I couldn’t and driving around in Bentley, wearing sharp suits and taking out bad guys with Valkyrie sounds like a hell of a lot of fun.

6. Artemis Fowl-Artemis Fowl series-Eoin Colfer

I’d love to be that smart and I think it would be a hell of a lot of fun to be a teenage criminal mastermind who hangs around with fairies and centaurs and elves and pixies and dwarves. Artemis has so many fun adventures and I think it would be a lot of fun to swap places with a character who leans more towards the evil side of things.

7. Amy Fleming-Heartland series-Lauren Brooke

Since I love horses, I’d love to swap places with Amy and live on her family’s ranch, to be able to spend my entire life working with horses would be amazing especially if I had the same talents that she has.

8. Scarlett Dragna-Caraval Trilogy-Stephanie Garber

I prefer Tella as a character, but I’d want to swap places with Scarlett simply because of her magical dress, can you imagine how much time having a dress that changed would save? You’d have no need for multiple dresses, you could have several dresses in just that one, which would be amazing.

9. Kat Bishop-Heist Society series-Ally Carter

Yes, I would like to lead a gang of thieves. Travelling the world, sneaking into different places to steal things, it sounds like such a great adventure and Kat’s friends are so much fun, so it would be awesome to get to swap places with Kat and spend some time doing heists with her crew.

10. Nina Zenik-Grishaverse-Leigh Bardugo

Obviously I’d love to be a member of the Dregs, but I had to think a little about which one I’d like to be. I don’t think I’d do well as Kaz, I’m nowhere near agile enough to be Inej, I’m not really severe enough to be Matthias. That left Wylan, Jesper or Nina and in the end I decided I’d want to switch places with Nina, a) so I could eat all the waffles, b) because her Grisha powers are the coolest (sorry Jesper) and c) just because she seems like the most fun to me!

So there we go, the Characters I’d Like To Switch Places With. Would you want to switch places with any of these characters? Why/why not? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back next Tuesday with a new TTT, Standalone Books Which Need A Sequel, which should be a great one as I always find myself wanting more after reading a standalone book! Meanwhile, I’m hoping to have another Writing Corner post up this week, so stay tuned for that, I’ll probably be putting that one up over the weekend.

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#RockMyTBR February Update (2019)

Hi everyone! I hope everyone’s February was great, I swear I always blink and then February is gone, it’s only three days shorter than 31 day months, but it feels like it’s even shorter than that. For anyone who just recently started to follow me, who haven’t seen this feature before, #RockMyTBR is a challenge set up by Sarah K over at The YA Book Traveller in 2016, which I’ve kind of co-opted for myself over the last couple of years. Anyway, she challenged us to take a list of backlist books that we wanted to read and knock them off our TBRs over the course of a year. My aim is to read one of the 12 books on my list each month, so that by December, I’ve read them all. February was pretty good, I read three books over the course of that month, and I’ve even got two books in the bag already for March, so I’m feeling pretty good right now! Anyway, here are the books I read in February:

35660233Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz:

This was my #RockMyTBR book for February, and the first book of the two books I read pre seeing Hamilton a couple of weeks ago. I read it from 1st-14th February, so it took exactly two weeks to read. I didn’t really like this one though, it was incredibly historically inaccurate, and kind of cheesy, and I just didn’t enjoy it that much. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/alex-and-eliza-alex-and-eliza-1-review/

Hamilton and Peggy!: A Revolutionary FriendshipHamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship by L.M. Elliott:

This was the second book I read in preparation for going to Hamilton and I have to say I enjoyed it far more. I loved that it focused on Peggy and really allowed me to appreciate just how awesome the younger Schuyler sister was, and it was far more historically accurate than Alex and Eliza whilst also covering some parts of the American Revolution that I had no idea about. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/01/hamilton-and-peggy-a-revolutionary-friendship/

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely, #1)A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer:

This was my Netgalley read of the month, I liked that it was a slightly different take on a Beauty and The Beast retelling and that it featured a lot of diverse characters, including a disabled protagonist, but I found that the story lagged a lot and couldn’t really decide what it wanted to be. Here is my review of it:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/03/a-curse-so-dark-and-lonely-review-e-arc/

So that’s what I read in February, here’s what I’ve got coming up this month (minus the two books I’ve already finished):

To Kill A Kingdom-Alexandra Christo

My #RockMyTBR book for this month, I’ve started this one and I’m loving it already, vicious sirens, princes who want to be pirates, everything about this book screams me and I love it!

Descendant of The Crane-Joan He

My Netgalley read for this month, I’ve only just started it, but I’m already intrigued so I’m hoping that I’ll really enjoy this one.

Becoming-Michelle Obama

My second physical book of the month is going to be Michelle Obama’s autobiography and I can’t wait to read it, I love the Obamas so much, especially Michelle. I’ve heard really good stuff about it, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it.

We Are Blood and Thunder-Kesia Lupo

This will be my other Netgalley read of the month, if I get round to it. I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, but I saw a lot of other bloggers getting really excited about it and it sounds good, so fingers crossed I enjoy it!

I’m pretty pleased with my reading progress this year, I’ve read eight books already, am four books ahead of my 24 book Goodreads Challenge and have already finished two books this month and we’re only on the fourth day of March. How did your February reading go? Let me know in the comments!

 

A Curse So Dark and Lonely Review (e-ARC)

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Book: A Curse So Dark and Lonely  (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1)

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Published By: Bloomsbury

Expected Publication: 29th January (sorry!)

Format: e-book

Bechdel Test: Pass-Harper and Freya talk about their female relatives.

I received this book from Bloomsbury UK through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

As always, thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book early, I was really excited to read this one, so it was great to get to read it early.

I was really excited to read this book, I love Beauty and The Beast retellings and I was really interested in this one because it sounded like such a different take on the traditional story. Sadly however, it fell kind of flat for me. It was a kind of weird contemporary/fantasy mix, but there wasn’t enough in the real world to make it contemporary and I would argue that Emberfall didn’t really come across as fantastical enough for me to make it fantasy, so in the end neither the real world aspect, nor Emberfall worked well for me. I did however love the inclusion of a disabled main character in a fantasy novel as I’ve seen so few of them and I did enjoy the characters, so it wasn’t a total loss, it just wasn’t as brilliant as the hype had led me to believe. Here is a short synopsis of the book:

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. 

I’ll start with the positives, I really liked the writing in this one. It opened with a killer first line, which I always appreciate and it was descriptive without being overly flowery which was great. I also really enjoyed two of the three main characters, Harper and Grey. Harper is this great, fierce, feisty girl who is keen to learn about archery and swordplay and everything else in this new land she’s ended up in. Grey is your classic, tough on the outside, soft on the inside guardsman who takes Harper under his wing. The two of them really made the story for me, because a lot of the other characters fell kind of flat for me. It was also so cool to get to see a disabled heroine at the heart of a fantasy story, although I can’t speak to how good the representation was, given that I do not have cerebral palsy myself. I really loved that Harper loved horses as well, it’s an automatic connection between me and a fictional character if they love horses! I loved that she had realistic curly hair as well that got tangled and messy, because you rarely ever see that.

Rhen in particular felt a little flat to me, I couldn’t really get too much of a handle on who he was as a person and he wasn’t all that compelling as a hero of the story, plus in comparison to Harper and Grey, he just seems even blander. It’s very difficult to feel invested in a relationship when you find one half of the couple incredibly dull to read about! Lilith as the enchantress also came across as kind of a flat villain, she could have used further development I think.

The chapters started out nice and short and I originally thought the pacing of this book was going to be great, but then they get slowly ever more meandering and the whole middle of book just lagged for me, which meant we had a very fast beginning, a lagging middle and a too quick ending, all of which meant the pacing was incredibly uneven. I also think that this book was about a hundred odd pages longer than it really needed to be, 496 pages is quite a lot especially when the pacing is so uneven. I didn’t really get the point of the one line chapters from the monster’s POV either.

I didn’t feel much chemistry between Harper and Rhen, it felt like that was being forced to get to the ending that the author wanted, Harper and Grey felt like they had more natural chemistry, although I wouldn’t necessarily say I wanted them to have a romance either, I liked them as friends. The one scene I did feel like they had chemistry in was when he was teaching her archery, but I think I liked that more for the Princess Diaries 2 vibes than anything else.

The issue with Beauty and The Beast retellings that all authors have to get over is that the whole story is based on kidnapping. This book kind of gets over that by having it so that Harper is accidentally dragged into Emberfall whilst trying to protect a girl from being kidnapped, but that doesn’t really change the fact that abducting girls is at the heart of the story which you know, isn’t great.

I feel like a fantasy story needs a lot more worldbuilding, we get the basics on how the curse came about, but we don’t really learn much about how Emberfall as a society functions, how magic works, anything like that and it’s not really made all that clear how the modern world connects to Emberfall, so it’s kind of confusing to follow, especially when the two worlds collide at the end of the book. I also wish we’d known more about Harper’s life before going to Emberfall, as we barely get to see it and kind of have to take her closeness to her family on her own word.

I did like the diversity in the book, Harper has cerebral palsy, her brother is gay and his boyfriend is a POC, so it was nice to see all that represented in this book.

Without giving away too many spoilers, the ending of the book was incredibly confusing for me. It was so rushed that honestly I have no idea how it ended up at the point it did but honestly I was past the point of caring because at that point the story had dragged so much that I just wanted it to be over.

Overall, this was a different take on a Beauty and The Beast retelling, which I appreciated, it just didn’t really work for me and I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequel next year.

My Rating: 3/5

My next review will be of my March #RockMyTBR book, To Kill A Kingdom, by Alexandra Christo, which I am LOVING so far.

Samantha Shannon Event Recap

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Photo Credit: @say_shannon 

Hi everyone! I’m quite lucky that I’ve had several book events to go to in February (well two, but two is more than I usually go to in one month) and I’ve got another event coming up this month (Victoria Schwab, in two week’s time, I cannot wait!) so this section of the blog will be slightly more regularly updated than it usually is!

My friend and I booked tickets to Samantha Shannon’s Glasgow event for Priory pretty much as soon as we saw they’d gone on sale, Nicola was meant to go to her Song Rising launch in Edinburgh two years ago, but was ill on the day and couldn’t go, and I’ve met Samantha a few times, but never been to a solo event of hers, so of course jumped at the chance to go.

We got the train from Stirling at around 5.20, after picking up dinner at the station. The event didn’t start till 6, but neither of us are particularly familiar with Waterstones Argyle Street (we both prefer and are more familiar with the larger Waterstones in Glasgow, Waterstones Sauchiehall Street) so we wanted to make sure we arrived in Glasgow early in case it took us longer to get there than we expected (it didn’t). We walked from Queen Street station to Argyle Street, and it only took us about 5-10 minutes to get there.

Once we arrived, we headed upstairs, where the event was taking place in the cafe. Most people were already there by the time we arrived, so once we had been given our books and ticked off the list, it was a bit of a scramble to find two seats together, we did, but we were right at the back, hence the lack of pictures of Samantha! There were a few minutes before the event started so I got myself a chocolate muffin from the cafe.

Soon after, one of the Waterstones staff came out to do all of the boring usual safety stuff and then Laura Lam (the moderator for the evening) came in and introduced Samantha, so the event could start properly.

The event was the usual Q&A style, and Laura had some really great questions for Samantha, which made for a very interesting discussion. It was awesome to hear about the origins of Priory and Samantha’s love of dragons and I particularly loved hearing about her research process since Priory has a large historical basis, and as a history nerd, I just love hearing about how authors research historical periods. Samantha also talked a lot about all the world building that went into Priory, which made me ever more excited to read it, because if there is one thing I completely geek out about in fantasy books, it’s world building. I love hearing writers talk about their process as well, and there was a lot of that here, it just helps me so much hearing how other authors go about this.

It was also really cool to hear Samantha talk about the origins of St George and how she wanted to change his story to be more feminist, and less you know, racist and sexist and Islamophobic. I have to admit, I don’t know all that much about St George, despite being English, so it was interesting to hear her talk about the different iterations of that legend and how she wanted to turn them on their head with Priory.

We got to hear about the differences Samantha found between writing The Bone Season and Priory which was quite cool, obviously they are very different books, and I’ve seen her talk about The Bone Season before, so it was quite interesting to see what she thought the biggest differences were between writing a dystopia/fantasy mix and between writing pure, epic fantasy like Priory.

I find it very interesting to hear how different writers’ processes differ from my own, Samantha talked a bit about working on Priory and The Bone Season together, and how working on one kept her refreshed for working on the other, and much as I think that’s super cool, I have found it way too confusing/distracting to be working on several different projects at once!

Samantha also talked a bit about her fantasy influences, and how she missed the boat on a lot of the big female authors of the 70s-90s and how much Lord of The Rings influenced her as a kid. She mentioned that there’s a scene in the Lord of The Rings film which has a female character doing something really awesome that wasn’t in the books and how that kind of turned her off fantasy for a while, because she didn’t want to be disappointed again. Both Nicola and I found it very cool that she talked about Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson when asked about her favourite YA as a kid, because we both loved them too (reminding us scarily that Samantha Shannon is not that much older than we are, she’s only five years older than me!). When Laura asked her about her influences for Priory specifically, she talked a lot about reading medieval texts, and legends, including The Renowned History of The Seven Champions of Christendom, and mentioned that she’d written a 4000 word essay on it, which I’d actually read a few days before the event.

Before Laura opened the floor up to audience questions, she did a “quickfire” round of This or That questions for Samantha. Samantha’s explanations ended up being a lot more lengthy than just this or that, but I loved that! She talked a bit more at length about the characters of Priory, about her love of morally grey characters, and a little Bone Season crept in there as well.

Then the floor was opened up to audience questions. Neither Nicola or I asked any, mostly because we’re awkward and don’t like talking in front of other people, but also we were right at the back, so basically would have had to shout to be heard. The people who did ask questions had great ones though! Samantha assured everyone that this book had not scratched the dragon itch, and that she hopes to write more self contained novels in the same world, just with more dragons in!

Naturally The Bone Season 4 came up, and Samantha said that the book is written, the first draft anyway and that she just needs to do the edits now, which should hopefully be easier than The Song Rising was (she did talk a little about how difficult that book was for her). She also talked about the differences between primary and secondary worldbuilding (as Priory uses the former, and The Bone Season the latter) and said she enjoys both, as The Bone Season allows her to use real world landmarks, but for Priory she could use the stuff from history that she liked as touchstones, but not the stuff she didn’t like, hello sexism! She explained a little about the differences between top up and bottom down world building and that she likes to use a mixture of the two, which I found helpful because to be honest, I do struggle with world building!

Samantha also talked about her favourite fantasy books, most of which I haven’t heard of, but will be checking out now. She explained the differences between her dragons and traditional dragons and talked about drawing on ideas from Eastern and Western dragon mythology (but her dragons are bio-luminescent).

We finished with a question about writer’s block, which was quite useful for me, as you all know, I’ve been blocked on Underground Magicians for a while now! Laura said she thought it was the subconscious asking for more thought but Samantha said that hers is usually burnout and she just needs to take a step away from her work.

Once the audience questions were over, we joined the queue to have our books signed. The queue moved relatively quickly and it wasn’t all that long before we were at the front. Nicola explained to Samantha that she was meant to come to her Song Rising event, but missed out because she was ill, and Samantha thanked her for coming. I wasn’t really sure what to say, but Samantha kind of helped me out on that one, because SHE RECOGNIZED ME! She said that I looked familiar and asked if we’d met before, and I explained that I’d seen her a couple of times at YALC and at an event in London last year, because I’m usually based near London but that I lived here for Uni and I came down all the way from Stirling for the London event last year. She was so sweet and thanked me for coming all that way last year (honestly have no regrets about that, that event was so good) and then Nicola and I said goodbye and left with our signed books.

Nicola and I then headed back to the train station and got an earlier train back than we’d thought as the event wasn’t as long as we were expecting. It was nice though, usually I don’t get back from evening book events till after 10, so it was nice to be back home just after nine for a change!

Did anyone else go to Samantha’s Glasgow Priory event? Or to the ones in London, or Leeds? Is anyone going to her Newcastle, Exeter or Truro events? Let me know in the comments!

I will probably have my review of A Curse So Dark and Lonely up later on today, so stay tuned for that!

Hamilton and Peggy!: A Revolutionary Friendship

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Book: Hamilton & Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship

Author: LM Elliott

Bechdel Test: PASS-Angelica, Peggy and Eliza discuss Martha Washington.

As I said in my last review, my February reading was entirely dedicated to Hamilton, in preparation for me going to see the show in London (saw it last week, it was INCREDIBLE, and I cannot believe that was only a week ago!). I was really disappointed in the first book I read, Alex & Eliza as it was incredibly historically inaccurate and just not a particularly engaging story. I’m happy to say that this book fared much better for me, it was clear the author had done her research (IT HAD A BIBLIOGRAPHY. My historian heart is very happy) and although the title was a bit of a misnomer, since Hamilton is not in the book very much, I still really enjoyed it and came out with a newfound appreciation for how awesome Peggy Schuyler was-And Peggy should never be used as an insult, because Magarita Schuyler Van Rensselear was one badass woman!

Here is a short synopsis of the book:

The colonies are in the throes of the Revolutionary War and caught in the midst of spies, traitors, Loyalists and Patriots, is the charming, quick-witted Peggy Schuyler—youngest of the famed Schuyler sisters and daughter of General Philip Schuyler. Her eldest sister Angelica, the “thief of hearts,” is known for her passion and intelligence, while kind, sweet Eliza has a beauty so great, it only outshone by her enormous heart. Though often in the shadows of her beloved sisters, Peggy is talented in her own right—fluent in French, artistically talented, and brave beyond compare.

When a flirtatious aide-de-camp to General Washington named Alexander Hamilton writes an eloquent letter to Peggy asking for her help in wooing the earnest Eliza, Peggy is skeptical but finds herself unable to deny such an impassioned plea. Thus begins her own journey into the Revolution!

Inspired by the cultural phenomenon of the Broadway musical, “Hamilton.” 

So I guess first off, I have to talk about Peggy because she was AWESOME. I honestly didn’t know much about Peggy before reading this, since she’s kind of an afterthought in Hamilton the musical, so getting to see what a smart, kind, adventurous woman she was, was brilliant. I loved getting to see Peggy get involved in the action of her father’s spy rings, and her going back to save her baby sister when the Schuyler home was raided by Redcoats, it was just great to see a 18th century woman who was determined to be just as involved in the action as the men were (or at least as much as she could get away with given society at the time). Obviously I loved seeing her relationship with her sisters, but what really surprised me was Peggy’s relationship with her father, I had no idea that the two of them were so close and it was really heartwarming to see.

I loved the use of the real historical letters at the start of every chapter, I thought that added a nice touch of realism and once again, showed that the author had really done her homework which is always nice to see, she mentions in her afterword that some characters’ dialogue is directly lifted from letters they wrote, which I thought was awesome!

I did feel like some of the chapters were a little overly long, and that the plot dragged in places, there were a lot of details about the Revolutionary War, which I enjoyed, but probably wouldn’t be for the non history student minded people out there. The spy ring that Philip Schuyler ran was of particular interest to me, as I had no idea that he did that and I found that I had a lot more admiration for him after reading this book as the musical obviously doesn’t really touch on anything that the Schuyler patriarch did. The ball chapter was a particular favourite of mine, I’m sure to no one’s surprise because if there’s one thing I love in a book, it’s a ball!

The title is a little misleading, because Hamilton is actually barely in this book, he pops up a few times, but it is largely Peggy’s story. I did like that because it allowed me to see just awesome Peggy Schuyler was, and his friendship with her was pretty amazing, it’s the kind of banterous friendship that I always love in books, but for those going into this expecting a lot of Hamilton because his name comes first in the title, don’t. This is very much Peggy’s story. It was nice to see a more nuanced portrayal of Hamilton in this than I’d seen in Alex & Eliza though.

I liked that we got to see the whole Schuyler family, and how Peggy was so sweet with her younger siblings, apparently she did do a lot of caretaking of her younger siblings in real life, so it was nice to see that portrayed here.

I did kind of feel that Eliza was downplayed a bit in order to make Peggy seem even more amazing, I understand that the author really admires Peggy, but Eliza kind of gets the short end of the stick as she comes off as the weak, insecure sister and from what I know of Eliza the woman, I don’t feel like that’s true at all, Eliza was incredibly strong to survive so much tragedy in her life and it would have been great if the author could have brought how amazing Peggy was to our attention without bringing Eliza down.

I liked the structure of the three parts with the prelude, interludes and postludes, I thought that was a great way of breaking things up and that it worked quite well, as each section of the book covers a different stage of the Revolutionary War.

Angelica was just as witty and brilliant in this book as I expected, but I did feel quite bad for her, I don’t know if her marriage with John Church (referred to by his alias Carter in this book) was really as strained as the author made it seem, but it was quite clear in this that she wasn’t all that happy with him.

I liked that this book introduced me to a load of players in the Revolutionary War that I had no idea about before, like Colonel Richard Varick (his crush on Peggy was sweet but misguided!), Moses Harris, Fleury etc. I especially loved getting to see Martha Washington and the way this book portrayed her has me really interested in going to look up her real life history because I thought she was awesome in this. I was a little bit distracted by the fact that Peggy’s aunt, Gertrude Cochran, had the nickname Gitty though!

It was nice to see Native Americans in this and the role that they played in the Revolutionary War as Hamilton the musical doesn’t touch on this and I had no idea the Schuyler family had such close ties with the Oneida. I can’t really speak to the representation, as I’m not from that community, I didn’t notice anything blatantly offensive in their portrayal, but obviously don’t take my word for that.

The writing style wasn’t always my favourite, it was quite formal which worked for the time period but I did find it was a little stilted at points.

I had no idea about Fleury, Peggy’s first and very brief romance, I honestly thought she basically fell in love with her cousin and that was it, so it was nice to see that and how that affected her view on marriage (and that there was actual historical evidence of this dalliance!).

I kind of wished we got to see more of Hamilton and Eliza’s wedding, but it’s not their story, so I totally get why we didn’t.

I thought the ending of the postlude was really lovely, showing everyone celebrating the end of the War and the first hints of Peggy’s romance with her eventual husband, that was such a nice positive note to end things on.

Also these things might be incredibly history nerdy of me, but I loved the afterword where the author explained what was historically accurate and what was a little embellished, that and the bibliography just made my nerdy heart incredibly happy.

Overall, this wasn’t the most action packed or exciting book ever, but it was a nice insight into a greatly overlooked historical figure and I appreciated how much detail and research went into producing what was a generally pretty engaging story.

My Rating: 3.5/5

My next review will be of A Curse So Dark and Lonely which I finished on Wednesday, so it should be up relatively quickly for you, probably over the weekend.

Top Ten Tuesday #200

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Hi all! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. I got to see Hamilton last week (I know, I know, I’ve mentioned it 20000 times and will be doing so more, not sorry!) and it was AMAZING. The entire cast was incredible, the costumes, the staging, the music (obviously), the lighting, everything was just brilliant and me and all three of my friends walked out of the show after it finished thinking that a) there was no way that show was almost three hours long, it went by so fast and b) that we all wanted to see it again. If you’re in London and can afford it, I definitely recommend going, because it’s one of the best theatre shows I’ve ever seen.

This week is coming a little bit down to earth after the whirlwind of last week, but I am going to see Samantha Shannon at her Glasgow event for Priory on Thursday (Happy Birthday Priory, it’s out today!)  which I am super excited for. Anyway, since it’s Tuesday, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday (my 200th!), courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week, we’re talking Places Mentioned In Books That We’d Like To Visit, but since my list of those hasn’t really changed much since we did the same topic either last year or the year before, I’ve decided to change it, and share the Places Mentioned In Books That I Have Visited. So here we go:

  1. Kings Cross Station, London-Harry Potter-JK Rowling

Yup, I go into the same station that Harry Potter got the Hogwarts Express from every time I go to London, so I can’t say it’s all that exciting going there now, but I do know that people come in from all over the world just to see Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross, which is pretty cool!

2. Six of Crows-Amsterdam-Leigh Bardugo

Okay, so Ketterdam isn’t real, but Amsterdam is, and I know that Leigh Bardugo largely based Ketterdam off the Dutch city, so I’m counting it! I wandered the canals, imagining Kaz and the rest of Dregs doing the same thing, plotting their next scheme!

3. Seven Dials, London-The Bone Season-Samantha Shannon

Yes, my friend and I did go to Seven Dials on our sightseeing tour of London last Thursday, just because it’s mentioned in Samantha Shannon’s books. It’s not the most obvious tourist spot, but the Dials are very pretty and it was a nice place to sit and rest our worn out feet!

4. The Empire State Building, New York-Percy Jackson series-Rick Riordan

When I went to New York in 2012, my family took a trip to the Empire State Building. We only went up to the 86th floor observatory, as it cost another $20 each to go to the top, but still when I was in the lift, I was tempted to see if I could find the button that would lead me to the 600th floor and Mount Olympus.

5. 221B Baker Street-Sherlock Holmes-Arthur Conan Doyle

Yup, I’ve been to visit the “real” 221B Baker Street (it’s actually around 237-41 Baker Street, but they paid to use the 221B address), where there is a museum of Sherlock Holmes memorabilia. I will admit, that I’ve only been in the gift shop because there’s always been such large queues when I’ve been there, but one day I will go into the actual museum.

6. Paris-Enchantee-Gita Trelease

Whilst I haven’t been to 18th Century pre-Revolution Paris, I have been to 21st Century Paris, and it was just as glorious as described in Gita Trelease’s wonderful new fantasy, though I have yet to witness the magnificence of Versailles.

7. Aberdour Castle,Scotland-Outlander-Diana Gabaldon

Aberdour Castle doubles as the fictional monastery where Claire and Murtagh take Jamie to recover from his ordeal at Wentworth in the TV series and I visited there with my friend Nicola a few years ago, it’s completely gorgeous!

8. Oxford, England-The Bone Season-Samantha Shannon

The real Oxford is not quite as dark as the Sheol I prison camp that it becomes in Samantha Shannon’s bestselling dystopian series! It’s quite a beautiful city, with some lovely landmarks to enjoy, like the Bodleian Library.

9. Edinburgh, Scotland-City of Ghosts & The Song Rising-Victoria Schwab and Samantha Shannon

I’ve been to pretty much all of the locations featured on the map in the front of City of Ghosts, Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, Greyfriars Kirk (yup my friends and I went to scout out Tom Riddle’s grave!), Grassmarket, South Bridge and Blackwell’s. In fact, the only places I haven’t been are Arthur’s Seat, Mary King’s Close (which I’m hoping to visit this year) and The Lane’s End. I’ve also been to the Edinburgh Vaults, a location mentioned in the third book in Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season series.

10. Santorini, Greece-The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants-Ann Brashares

My friend Hannah and I visited the island that is featured in The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants when we went on holiday to Greece for my 21st birthday, almost two years ago now. It was just as beautiful as described, although I understand now why she needed a donkey to get up all those steps, we were very out of breath walking up from the harbour!

So there we go, Places Mentioned In Books That I Have Visited! Have you been to any of these? Would you like to go? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back next Tuesday with a new TTT, Characters In Books That I’d Like To Switch Places With, which should be a fun one. Meanwhile, I’ve got a few things in the pipeline for this week, a recap of the Samantha Shannon event on Friday, a review of my current book, Hamilton and Peggy: A Revolutionary Friendship and potentially a review of A Curse So Dark and Lonely depending on when I finish it, so stay tuned for those.

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday #199

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Hi everyone! I hope you had a good week since I last did one of these, I’m back at home for reading week this week and I’ve been having a great time so far, I was in London on Saturday for the Hot Key Bloggers Brunch, which if you haven’t seen my wrap up of it, was awesome. I’ve also been back in London today, going to an exhibition on the Romanovs at the Queen’s Gallery near Buckingham Palace, which was AMAZING and made my history nerd heart incredibly happy. In fact, it’s a very London centric week because I’ll be back there on Thursday with my friend Nicola for some sightseeing and most importantly, TO SEE HAMILTON. Only two days to go, and I’m so ridiculously excited I can’t even, I’ve been wanting to see Hamilton for almost two years, and I can’t believe it’s actually finally happening.

Anyway, if I start talking too much about Hamilton, I will never stop, so as it’s Tuesday, that means another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week we’re talking Books We Enjoyed That Have Fewer Than 2000 Ratings on Goodreads. I was a bit apprehensive of this topic since we have done it before and I wasn’t sure how much my list would have changed since the last time, but it turns out, it has changed quite a lot and I have 10 brand new underrated books to share with you guys. So here we go, Books I Enjoyed That Have Fewer Than 2000 Ratings On Goodreads:

  1. Firestarter-Tara Sim-222 ratings-My Rating: 5 Stars

Granted, Firestarter was only released just over a month ago, so it hasn’t really had time to build up a mass of ratings, but I think this series is just criminally underrated in general. This was an incredible, explosive finale of a brilliant trilogy, if you like steampunk gay Victorian boys and an alternate Victorian London (& India) where the world’s time is run by clock towers, then you should definitely try this trilogy.

2. The Enchanted Sonata-Heather Dixon Wallwork-321 ratings-My Rating: 3 stars

I didn’t exactly love The Enchanted Sonata, it read a little young for me (even more than the YA audience it was aimed for) but I did enjoy it and was surprised that it didn’t have more ratings, it’s quite a unique little story, a retelling of both The Nutcracker and The Pied Piper of Hamelin.

3. By A Charm and A Curse-Jaime Questell-495 ratings-My Rating: 4 stars

This was one of my favourite books of last year and given how popular Circus/Carnival books have been in the last few years, I’m quite surprised it has as few ratings as it does, especially since it’s a great book, kind of like Pinocchio crossed with your classic Disney Princess story. It’s so rare to get a standalone fantasy story these days and this one is an amazing one.

4. Charlotte Says-Alex Bell-549 Ratings-My Rating: 3 stars

Charlotte Says is quite an odd little horror book, it’s the prequel to Frozen Charlotte, a story all about haunted Frozen Charlotte dolls, this book shows how the dolls came to be that way. I enjoyed this book but I can understand why it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, things do take a turn for the weird and horrific, even moreso than in the first book!

5. Enchantee-Gita Trelease-641 Ratings-My Rating: 5 stars

This book is incredibly new, it only released at the beginning of the month, and it’s not out till Thursday here in the UK, so I can understand why it’s not as highly rated yet, not as many people have had the chance to read it yet. I’m sure once it’s been out for a little while longer, it will burn way past the 2000 ratings mark set by this week’s topic, because it has everything, History, a gorgeous backdrop in Versailles of the 1780s, an amazing heroine and a simple but incredibly effective magic system.

6. For A Muse of Fire-Heidi Heilig-718 Ratings-My Rating: 3.5 stars

The start of Heidi Heilig’s new fantasy trilogy is a wonderfully diverse, incredibly creative story with a mentally ill main character. The magic system was awesome, the main character is able to bind souls of the dead to shadow puppets and control them which was something I have never seen in fantasy before. It’s an interesting mix between French Colonialism and Asian culture and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with the next book, A Kingdom For A Stage.

7. Chainbreaker-Tara Sim-780 Ratings-My Rating: 5 stars

As I have already established in this post, I love Tara Sim’s Timekeeper trilogy and think more people should read it. The second book in the series takes us to Victorian India and really dives deep into British colonialism and explores the biraciality of one of the main characters (Sim herself is also biracial) and we get to see a lot more of Colton’s emotional backstory, as well as his relationship with Danny. I will never forgive her for that cliffhanger though. EVER. If you read Chainbreaker, do yourself a favour and have Firestarter on hand straight afterwards.

8. Fawkes-Nadine Brandes-1,649 Ratings-My Rating: 4 stars

This was another of my favourite books of last year, the combination of the Stuart era setting, the Gunpowder plot re-imagining and the super cool magic system of colours being controlled by masks was a complete and utter winner for me and I cannot wait to read Brandes next historical fantasy re-imagining,  Romanov, this year.

9. The Exact Opposite of Okay-Laura Steven-1,668 Ratings-My Rating: 4 stars

Another of my favourite books of last year, The Exact Opposite of Okay was uproariously funny, amazingly feminist and just one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. I seriously want to be friends with Izzy O’Neill, I think we would have a lot of fun together. I cannot wait to read Izzy’s next adventure when A Girl Called Shameless comes out-only 3 weeks to go!

10. A Thousand Perfect Notes-C.G. Drews-1,776 Ratings-My Rating: 3.5 stars

I enjoyed Cait’s debut novel, not as much as I hoped I would, it took rather longer than I’d have liked to get into considering how short it was, but I did like the characters and I thought the story was good if not amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing what Cait does with her next novel, The Boy Who Steals Houses, out in April.

So there we go, Books With Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads that I enjoyed. Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments!

I will be back next Tuesday, with a topic that I’m hugely excited for, Places Mentioned In Books That I’d Like To Visit, I always love thinking of where I’d go if I got the chance to step into my favourite fictional worlds. It’s been quite a heavy week so far on the blog this week, with 3 posts in 3 days, so I doubt I’ll have anything else for you till my next Top Ten Tuesday next week, so stay tuned for that!