Quick Fire Fantasy Tag

For all those following the blocks saga, as I attempt to use WordPress blocks editor, I can confirm they’re driving me mad. I had to make this post five times! Five times!! It kept deleting my text! Urg.

Deep, calming breaths break…

Anyway, welcome to this incredibly hard to create POsT ThAT LITERALLY TOOk HOuRS AND WHy DOES AUTOCORRECT KEEP CoRRECTING THESE CAPITAL LETTERs

Another deep calming breath break.

I’m just going to start the tag (AGAiN) because fantasy books will calm me down.


Five Star Read

Strange The Dreamer

I have rated about a billion fantasy books five stars. Well maybe not a billion but still quite a few, including some questionable reads in my hazy early days where I was far too generous. But. Strange the Dreamer has the lucky honour of this crowning place because I scrolled past a nice photo on Instagram the other day of it.


Always Going to Recommend

A Darker Shade of Magic

Have I mentioned I liked this novel? It’s only featured in about every Top Ten Tuesday post I’ve ever written. Sorry, I’m just too predictable.


Own it but Haven’t Read It

The Raven King

Way to shame me! What a judgy tag, gosh. Ok, ok I still have no idea if our mad and slightly loaded friends are ever going to find that dead Welsh King, but on well. I’ll find out sooooooon I promise.


Would Read Again

Holes

There’s just something about the charming little chapters, goofy characters and the amazing name Stanley Yelnats, which is of course Stanley written backwards that makes this book an easy go to.


In Another World

A Curse so Dark and Lonely

It’s fantasy here, basically 90% of them are in another world. And I’ve gone for one that’s not totally in another world! Hahaha oops.


Back on Earth

Harry Potter

Ooh we’re talking the other 10% now. And how could I make a list of fantasy books and not include my first ever fantasy read. Possibly. Maybe. I don’t actually know, my memories not that good. But anywho, isn’t Harry Potter fab?!


So there you have it! This was an incredibly short tag, once WordPress actually let me write the thing. Although it took agessss…. Grumble grumble blocks grumble.

Anyway, thanks Siobhan for the tag, I highly recommend checking out her blog, it cool, and thanks The Bookworm Dreamer for making the tag! It’s very fun.

These are the bloggers I’m tagging:

📖 Journal of A Bibliophile

📖 The Geekish Brunette

📖 What Em’s Reading

📖 A Lovely Book Affair

📖 Fantastic Books

And anyone else reading. Go ahead, do it, the rules are pretty simple:

✨ Tag me, five people, the creator and anyone else you just really want to link to

✨ Answer the five questions

✨Don’t use WordPress blocks

The last one is more of a recommendation but honestly it should be a rule it’s so annoying.

Anyway, I will be back tomorrow (I know, three posts in one week!) With an exciting post because tomorrow is a really special day, so stay tuned for that!

— grand exit —

A Darker Shade of Magic Review

Completeness is, weirdly enough, a mathematical word. It’s talking about logic, a theory is complete when it can always be derived. And as a mathematician all I can say is I like my blog how I like my logic: complete. So here is a dusty old review for a book I read in 2017 publishing before it’s sequels review.

A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell, a man with magic powers and an ever changing coat who has the rare ability to travel between worlds. He lives in London and the world’s he visits all portray a slightly different version: his own, Red London, is glistening and full of magic. White London is starved of magic and dying, while Grey London is our own London just set slightly in the past. But what happens when White London attempts a hostile takeover in a desperate attempt for survival?

I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”

Her smile widened. “Everything

As my first step into adult fantasy I was a bit nervous picking up this many paged tiny print novel, back in January 2017. In hindsight, my worries were all pointless- A Darker Shade of Magic was a brilliant read.

Adult fantasy is not that big a leap from YA fantasy. The main characters are a little older, but the whole thing feels very similar- creative plots, spunky heroins, and easily accessible. This book is doesn’t take itself too seriously, there’s still humour and an engaging plot which I was slightly worried it would lack. It’s very readable and digestible, I’d say it’s a good bridge between fantasy YA and adult fantasy (not that I’ve read much of the later).

VE Schwab has the power to make time slow down with her writing. The events of the novel take place over a mere two days yet are so exciting and enthralling that I didn’t feel the plot was dragged out at all. So much happens in such a short time: epic fights, characters fears and flaws, and even a classic ball scene in a mere two days. This novel is remarkable.

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still”

This quote sums up Lila perfectly. She’s a girl who tags along with Kell, desperate to leave her mundane life in Grey London and longing for something new. Also she dreams of being a pirate- definitely my kind of heroine. What I liked most was how Lila reacts to the masquerade ball in this novel. Similar to the classic trope she gets all dressed up, a tailor specially making her outfit and picking out her mask. But unlike other novels she doesn’t wear some massive, flowing, princess dress. Because that’s just not Lila. She gets some proper boots, a nice suit, a scary mask: practical attire for the night ahead. It’s so true to her character and so unexpected, one of my favourite book ball scenes.

Kell’s character is more serious and determined. Confined to his job he has one small act of rebellion: smuggling trinkets between worlds that later lead to dire consequences. It’s nice to watch how Lila and Kell’s characters grow together and how they come to care for each other as the unlikely partnership forms.

Rhy laughed silently. “I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.”

“I apologize for shooting you in the leg,” said Lila. “I was myself entirely.”

The final character I particularly enjoyed was Rhy, Kell’s brother and the crown prince. His charming exterior hides his fear for lacking magic, making him a complex and funny character to read who instantly comes alive on the page. The brotherly relationship between Kell and Rhy is sweet and adds more tenderness to an otherwise sharp novel.

Overall I’d recommend this novel to any fantasy fan. It is slightly more gory than younger YA is, but is very accessibly written for older readers who haven’t read much adult.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fall tbr Update

Hello all, hope you’re having a great Tuesday! I’ve taken a break from my NaNoWriMo, which is at 926 words, not exactly on target but oh well, to write a Top Ten Tuesday! Also if you’re doing/have done NaNo, how on earth do you keep up?! And writing that much in so short a time, I’m finding it very tricky 😣

This week’s topic is backlist, but I thought I’d revisit an old list, my Fall tbr, and see how well or not well I’m doing!

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas ✔️

I succeeded! Yep, I polished of this one last month I want to say? It was not as amazing as I was hoping, but I still enjoyed it! You can read my review here.

2. The Railway Man by Eric Lomaz ✔️

I’ve read this! It was startling, shocking and amazing. It’s message is so important and I definitely recommend this novel.

3. The Raven King by Maggie Steivfater ❌

This list was going so well. Sadly, Gansey and friends continue to be Welsh kingless in my mind.

4. A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab ❌

I still keep putting it off for its brick like tendencies 😬 hopefully I’ll pick this novel up soon.

5. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo ❌

I am so excited for this novel. It sounds so good and I am just as sad you with my failing to read it.

6. Magnus Chase and The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan ✔️

I’m currently reading this! And as I’m over half way through I think I definitely deserve a gold star for this one!

7. Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamiliton ✔️

We’re on a role with the ticks! I read it, loved it, and am completely gutted to have finished this incredible series. Definitely one of my favourite series ever.

8. The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon ❌

Ok, yes, I am still failing on this account. I will get round to reading this one it’s just not my most anticipated read.

9. Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz ❌

A read with a deadline. I intend to read this novel before I go see Hamilton in February. Also Hamilton 😍

10. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein ❌

It’s sitting on my shelf glaring at me. I’m sure I’ll read this exciting, plane related read soon!

Lets Compare Notes

Have you read any of these? Are they on your tbr? How are you doing with your tbr? Would love to hear from you in the comments, and feel free to drop your list by!

Children of Blood and Bone Review

I really thought I couldn’t possibly love another novel where a small group of plucky, determined subjects rebel against their tyrannical ruler in an attempt to save their citizens, and yet here we are. What can I say, I’m weak when magical rebellions are involved.

A little slow at the start (but hey this is YA fantasy and I’m not going to begrudge the author for a little bit of world building, given how complex the characters and situations were) the action in this book was just perfect. We had calmer moments of our three amigos trying to work out magical scrolls, plot dangerous routes and create stiff banter and just as I start to think oh this is nice, what a fun little trip to the jungle they fend off whole armies, collapse bridges and somehow manage to have a sea battle in the dessert. Oh, and the sea battle? One of my favourite parts.

What really made this novel were the characters because their intentions and quirks were so cleverly interwoven throughout the novel. I wasn’t a massive fan of Zelie’s the king killed my mother and I hold every non-diviner personally responsible thing, especially when it meant relentlessly belittling the girl who gave up her noble life to save the diviners. But hey, at least it made for some great character development. Because I was all for Zelie and Amari’s loyalty and friendship by the end of this novel. And since everyone and their dog was hooking up couldn’t Zelie and Amari be a thing? They’re both so cute together!

Then there’s Amari, the sweet and brave princess who gains the confidence she needs to fight her father. My absolute favourite character, watching her become strong enough to fight beside her friends was one of the real highlights this novel presents.

“Perhaps I made a mistake.

Maybe a lionaire lives in me after all.” – Amari

Her brother, Inan, was another kettle of fish altogether. I really understood him in the beginning of the novel. Bent on doing his father’s will, terrified of failing and thinking he’s a monster- his complexities made total sense. But his character development was too quick, he fell from his rage fuelled perch too quickly and I honestly had no idea where his loyalties were by the end, despite having narrated a third of the book. Although unbelievable this wasn’t necessarily bad. His twists and turns, although I didn’t fully understand them, did give the novel the pace it needed

The final protagonist in this novel is Tzain, Zelie’s brother. He’s caring, sweet and horrendously responsible. I don’t really understand how he and Zelie had lived such similar lives and faced similar hardships when she is this rage fuelled ball of unpredictability and he was her opposite, but again this only embellished the plot. His story was about learning to fight the status quo, but of all the characters in this novel he changed the least. I wasn’t too fussed by this lack of progression given he wasn’t a narrator and, honestly, I couldn’t deal with all four of the main characters changing- I’d struggle to keep up.

Lastly, I will doff my hat to the writing style Tomi Adeymi presents us with. Her world of sticky jungle heat, dry, parched desserts and raw, hopeful characters was just enchanting. She included just the lightest touch of description to embellish the novel and each characters narration and personality shone through each section.

“My insides lurch as a cannonball rips through the deck of another boat. Injured cries hit my ears like shattered glass. The stench of blood stains the air, bringing Zelie’s old words to mind. The day we came to Ibeji, she tasted death.”

I mean how is that writing not amazing??? Then there was the complexities she explored that most YA authors gloss over– the hesitation Amari and Zelie have about killing people, even enemy soldiers and sailors, the fact that bad people do exist even on your own side and the way one size most definitely doesn’t fit all. There a clear grey area in this novel when it comes to right and wrong: even the tyrannical king’s motivations were explored- you can’t get much more balanced than that.

This novel presents us with four daring protagonists, a seriously scary ruler and moral complexities that will leave you reeling. My advice? Flick on the footie in the background, grab a cup of tea and settle in for a long read because these five hundred pages will have you from the get go.

My rating: ⭐ ⭐

Top 10 Books I read While at Uni

Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this buuut I’ve just finished education!!! I am now to encounter the perils of real employment, paying bills and being forced to wake up during this strange thing known as the morning. Gross.

With my student card expiring at the end of the month, although I’m hoping no-one will notice, here are the 10 books I enjoyed most during the last three years. A slight variations on this weeks Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl, all about books I’ve enjoyed this half year.

And don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about those really expensive course books I’ve been made to buy, probably written by the lecturer who’s running the course, and definitely not the page turner they would have you believe it is. These are the fun books that I totally didn’t read when I should have been focussing slightly more on my work…

1. A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

My favourite book I read at university by far! I remember racing through this 500 page, tiny printed novel in my January exam week of second year. Slightly detrimental to my exams, but I definitely have no regrets.

2. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Do I bang on about these novels a bit too much? Because I thought they were brilliant. I’m a sucker for that rebellion ok! I will resist putting Traitor on this list as well as Rebel, since I am already struggling for space!

3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This novel. I can’t even. It was so important, brilliantly written, great plot. Can I have three books at number one? Is that allowed?

4. The Raven Boys by Maggie Steivfater

Because spoilt rich kids, dead Welsh kings and smooth talking political seventeen year olds was just what my second year at university needed.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Did I actually enjoy a classic??! What is this?? I just really enjoyed how this book portrayed women and relationships, it was a little hard to read but not at all what I was expecting!

ttt-booksatuni

6. Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

I was watching Thor (the movie, not the fictional god) on TV last night and all I could think was how Thor enjoys watching TV with his two talking goat friends.

7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ok, I think I need to lie down, how are two classics on this list?? I really enjoyed this book and it has a really cracking movie adaption.

8. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

An interesting premise and action packed book. I’m a big fan

9. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancy

A bit of a first year throwback but I remember really enjoying this book back in my small, first year halls room. When dystopian novel was all I read and I didn’t quite know how to cook pasta yet… I had so much to learn back then…

10. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

A bit Marmite but I really enjoyed it. It was the first fairy tale-esque story I’ve ever read and I’m a fan.

comparenotes

So there we go- the books I’ve enjoyed most these last three years. What book did you enjoy most from the last three years? Have a favourite novel you read this year? Would love to read your TTT if wrote one so feel free to drop it in the comments!!

Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

I believe money and guns get you a lot further in a war than magic these days. – Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Rebel of the Sands is fast pace, full of action, excitement and, of course, rebellion. Very well written and perfect to engage any YA reader who is struggling to find a book that really grabs their attention.

For me, the quote above really sums up the book. Also, it’s ironic and I love irony.

In this novel we follow the dessert hardened Amani as she leaps from trains, grabs passing magical horses and shoots impossible shots of bottles off walls all in her desperate attempt to be free of her run down, boring town of a home, Dustwalk. She’s a gun slinging protagonist I can really get behind.

Alwyn Hamiliton is an amazing writer. The book captured me from the start and I’d finished it in a matter of days. If you’re in a reading slump and just need something to get you back into books again then I recommend this (I also recommend it if you’re not in a slump, because it’s amazing). It’s fast pace, quick, and you’ll be glad to know the romance isn’t the entirety of the plot. 100% love triangle free.

The premise isn’t exactly new. There’s an awful regime in charge, a strong, teen, female protagonist and an unbelievably good looking love interest. Ok it’s a bit familiar to Katniss, Tris and the rest of the line up. BUT it is done well. It’s got it’s own spin- there’s a dessert and magic and, as far as I can tell, there’s been no collapse of civilisation as we know it so it’s not dystopian. Maybe it’s following the set formula of a YA novel for today’s readers, but it’s a pretty good formula.

The plot to this novel hits the sweet spot of fast pace action and slower scenes. Although the book goes from chase scenes to fight scenes and back again I didn’t feel like it was too packed together. I was able to appreciate Amani’s thoughts, the world building and the character development that was occurring as Amani first stepped out into the real world.

Looking back, I’m surprised that the novel encompasses the explanation of a whole fantasy world, a wicked ruler, novel magic system, Amani’s past and Amani’s daring escape all in this short novel. It may be packed but it’s definitely doesn’t feel rushed.

Amani and Jin, who the plot revolves around, both start as strong characters who trust no-one and need no-one. It’s only when they are flung together that they start to realise that there’s safety in numbers and this character development further embellishes the plot. I found it easy to get behind this  and Amani’s slow trust of Jin makes the plot twists even more powerful and unexpected.

If you’re a fan of dystopians or fantasy YA I suspect this novel will be right up your street. A definite 5 stars from me.

But what about you? Have any of you read it and did you enjoy it? If you haven’t read it, what are you reading? Thanks for taking the time to read my review!

Review: Indigos Dragon by Sofi Croft

‘Dragons don’t die. They just come and go,’ she smiled, ‘and cause chaos either way.’ – Indigos Dragon by Sofi Croft

⭐ ⭐ A short and sweet plot making it a quick read. Lacks details and writing doesn’t feel very fleshed out.

What are the odds that you’ve heard of this one? I met the author (and her baby!) at YALC a few years ago and picked up a signed copy for just £5. She was one of the first authors her publisher, Accent YA, had taken on and this was her big debut. First in the series, it’s a short read at just 188 pages with quite large print. Suffice to say I read the whole thing in a couple of hours.

Indigo is living a far from ordinary life running around hills in the Peak District when a mysterious parcel arrives for him containing his grandfather’s sachet. Inside is a hefty book, bottles and a mysterious looking egg. After magical creatures wreck havoc in his small village, Indigo decides he must go to Poland where his grandparents live. Accompanied only by his diving mad dad and sister, Indigo sets out to discover who he really is.

This book is unusual in that it didn’t really have an antagonist. There is Orava, an old rival of Indigo’s grandfather, who tries to impede Indigos journey slightly but there’s no real bad guy. No big obstacles to overcome, just a narration of Indigos journey to discover the secrets his family keep.

The lack of strife Indigo finds on his way made for a dull read. I didn’t find myself particularly captured by the events of the novel since, although they were unusual, the challenges seemed too easily overcome. Even the mystery of Indigos identity is just given to Indigo by his mother and grandmother, he didn’t really wonder or discover anything for himself.

My main gripe with this book was that it wasn’t very fleshed out. I couldn’t really understand or emphasise with any of the characters because their thoughts and feelings were so often brushed over. Even the descriptions of the beautiful and vivid landscape felt a little… terse. I know the book was short and I can’t exactly be annoyed with the lack of detail but too much happened with too little page time for it to have been fully embellished.

I think this novel does have potential. The premise is interesting, I wasn’t expecting the twist at the end and I liked the elements of family and friendships in this novel. I particularly enjoyed Rue’s character, who appears menacing at first but later becomes a reluctant friend to Indigo. She was a complex character and her motives were often unclear, she seemed to know things that Indigo didn’t and it would have been nice to explore her backstory and opinions more.

I also felt that their was more potential in Orava‘s character that, again, wasn’t shared. As the villain of the tale he didn’t seem to involved and I never really understood what his reasoning was for most of his actions. Some of his actions, like scaring Indigo in the library, seemed a bit pointless.

Overall I would recommend this novel to people looking for short, quick reads. It has potential and needs fleshing out a bit more and will probably not leave a lasting impact on me as a reader, but the story progresses quickly and it’s not a challenging read.

Have you ever read this novel? Or anything similar? Are you excited for YALC this year? Be great to hear from you!