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19 September 2019

Book Review: The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young *AD Gifted

Titan sent me a free review copy of The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young.

If you saw my Book Beginnings post about this book, then you'll probably know that I was destined to love it. Honestly I was just so happy to be back in this world. It's rich and vivid and brutal, and there's something about it that gives me goosebumps.

The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young coverAdd to Goodreads button
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again - a home.

Source: Review copy.

5 Words: Power, fate, honor, belonging, betrayal.

Content warnings: Graphic violence, scenes of war

People, it was beautiful.

It's no secret that I absolutely loved Sky in the Deep when I read it last year, so I was already very excited to read The Girl The Sea Gave Back. And I had very high expectations, so I was a little bit worried that I had set myself up to fail. But I needn't have worried. The Girl The Sea Gave Back was amazing.

Right from the first page I was in love with the story. We're back in the same Viking-esque world and I settled immediately into the familiar dramatic landscape. If anything, the world in The Girl The Sea Gave Back felt even bigger than that of Sky in the Deep. Adrienne Young's writing is pretty epic, the world she has created is sublime. The details are exquisite. I could feel the cold wind, the snow on my feet, sticky blood drying on my skin. I could smell the food and the smoke and the iron tang of blood.

I loved the way the narrative was split between the characters, so we got to see their point of view and how they interpreted things. I loved the way the tension built between the characters. The pace complimented this really well, and I liked the mix of intense action and daily life, small dramas and violent battles.

Again, themes of family and belonging and tolerance are explored. This time instead of honor and endless fighting it's more about power and control itself. I enjoyed the flashback scenes, where characters revealed their motivation or another little mystery or secret came to light. Some of the betrayals really hit quite hard, and I really felt for Tova.

Also look at that cover. It's stunning. I could stare at it all day. It's just so visually stunning, dramatic and eye-catching. I love the colours and the drama and the depth and the strength just in the images.

This book can easily be read as a stand alone, but if you first read Sky in the Deep then you'll have a much deeper understanding of the world and the side characters and the tenuous grip on peace.

War is easy. 
It comes again and again, like waves to a shore.

17 September 2019

Favorite Things to Eat and Drink While Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Favorite Things to Eat/Drink While Reading
I love my grub, and writing this post out made me starving. I pretty much always have a snack of some sort within reach when I'm reading.

So what are my favourites?
  1. Tea
    I mean, of course. I can't imagine not having a cup of tea by my side when I'm reading. Usually just straight up English Breakfast with a splash of milk, sometimes a stronger, smokier Assam or a lighter Darjeeling depending on the book.
  2. Custard Creams
    The cheaper the better. Those double packs for 29p from the corner shop are the bomb. And they're perfect for dipping in tea too.
  3. Hot Chocolate
    When I've had one of those days, I get in, make some hot chocolate, and pour on the marshmallows and squirty cream.
  4. Crusty Bread
    Especially if I'm reading fantasy, because they always seem to involve a nice crusty loaf at some point. Slice of butter optional.
  5. Gin and Tonic
    Sometimes a book just puts me in the mood for a G&T, usually women's fiction like Sophie Kinsella.
  6. Chocolate
    Sometimes this can backfire because oops I've eaten a whole family share bag of Galaxy Counters.
  7. Rosé Wine
    Very specifically, Co-Op's California Rosé. We refer to it in our house as juice wine because it's so quaffable and lovely, and it used to come in a box.
  8. Toast
    With real butter melted in mmm. Sometimes I have days where I just keep refilling my tea and toast and read.
  9. ProseccoIs there anything more indulgent than a glass of fizz while you read? Paired with a hot bubble bath it's heaven.
  10. Jelly Sweets
    Haribo Tangfastics come at me.
If you do drink alcohol, please drink responsibly.
The Chief Medical Officer advises to not drink more than 14 units a week. 

What do you like to eat or drink while reading?

14 September 2019

Window Shopping: Lily in Space

Window Shopping is where poor little me fantasy shops on various websites, because I may be skint, but there's a lot on my wishlist and it's too beautiful not to share. I am not in any way paid or compensated for this post, it's just me sharing things I covet.

Window Shopping: Lily in Space

I absolute adore the quirky style of the woodland animals that adorn everything in Lily in Space.

Last year I bought a calendar and it brings me a little bit of joy each day and puts a smile on my face with the adorable illustrations and quirky affirmations when I flip it over to the next month. I'm very excited for the newest one to release so I can buy it for myself as a treat for 2020 Cora.

Oh Deery Me. And it has a deer on. I love puns and this one really makes me smile for many reasons, even if it looks a wee bit sad.
Also the little sad deer is so cute and A Mood.

Lily in Space - Oh Deery Me Deer Enamel Pin
Image copyright Lily in Space

You Are Here Badger Bookmark
1. It's a badger.
2. It's a bookmark.
I basically want all of the badger stuff from Lily in Space, because Hufflepuff's gotta represent. Also, adorable. And as a bookworm you can never have too many bookmarks.

You Are Here Badger Bookmark
Image copyright Lily in Space

It's just gorgeous, really. And I think it'd be perfect for holding my water bottle and mini first-aid kit when I go exploring.

Lily in Space - At One With Nature Tote Bag
Image copyright Lily in Space

I love a good To Do List, and this one is adorable. I love being able to cross things off, even if it's something as small as Make a cup of tea or as big as Write that blog post already.

Lily in Space - Let's Do This Woodland Animals Notepad
Image copyright Lily in Space

This is just because I am soppy as, and also because I love exploring. Sometimes you don't need a reason to send a lovey-dovey card to someone you care about.

Lily in Space - Woodland Couple Card
Image copyright Lily in Space

Do you have a favourite stationery product?
What would be on your wishlist?

07 September 2019

Window Shopping: The Tartan Blanket Co.

Window Shopping is where poor little me fantasy shops on various websites, because I may be skint, but there's a lot on my wishlist and it's too beautiful not to share. I am not in any way paid or compensated for this post, it's just me sharing things I covet.

Window Shopping: The Tartan Blanket Co.

I can't remember quite how I stumbled on The Tartan Blanket Co, but they're now one of my favourite Instagram accounts to follow. Their account is just so full of love and family and adventure, and it makes me happy to look through. Also, it has all of the colsie feels, and it's seems to be the driving force behind them.

Colsie (kol-zee)/ Origin: Old Scots word for 'Cosy'
The act of slow living and making time for the people and things that soothe our souls.

They are probably best known for their tartan blankets, and as a Scottish gal I grew up with tartan blankets everywhere. There was always at least one in the car and I have many memories of being snuggled up in one as the Lead Hills zipped past the car windows, pulling one from the back of the couch for snuggles with my mum as she read me a story, spending hours picking the dried grass off of them following picnics (we didn't have such fancy things as picnic blankets, a regular blanket would do).

So, my wishlist is a little vast. But here are my highlights.

This blanket just gives me such Hufflepuff feels, and it looks so bloomin' cosy. I want to be curled up in this with a cup of tea and a good book, while the rain beats down on the windows outside. I want it rolled up in my backpack to wrap around myself whenever the fancy takes me.
The Tartan Blanket Co. - Recycled Wool Blanket in Mustard Stripe
Image copyright The Tartan Blanket Co.

I love me a picnic, and I would love to picnic on this blanket. It just looks absolutely delightful, and the customisation options kind of blow my mind a little. I'd definitely go for the grey leather picnic strap, it looks so soft and lovely. It'd be perfect for autumn and winter picnics.
The Tartan Blanket Co. - Recycled Wool Waterproof Picnic Blanket in Light Grey Check
Image copyright The Tartan Blanket Co.

Scottish Made Lambswool Scarf in Persevere Flint Grey Tartan
It's a bit chilly and it's raining as I write this, and honestly I just want this scarf draped around me? It sounds divine and looks gorgeous and effortlessly stylish, plus it's grey so will match my 80% black wardrobe.
The Tartan Blanket Co. - Scottish Made Lambswool Scarf in Persevere Flint Grey Tartan
Image copyright The Tartan Blanket Co.

Basically, it's adorable and I want to drink my tea out of this on long autumn and winter evenings, please. I'm imagining myself drinking something strong and smoky and slightly sweet like my At Home in Elorin blend inspired by Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
The Tartan Blanket Co. - Colsie Mug
Image copyright The Tartan Blanket Co.

I would get this for my sister and my wee nephew who's still brewing. It's just so cute, and I love the idea of natural teething toys. I'd pick the fawn herringbone as it's so gorgeous, perfect for snuggling up for reading time with my nephew.
The Tartan Blanket Co. - Little Dreamer Gift Box with New Wool Baby Blanket
Image copyright The Tartan Blanket Co.

Do you have a favourite blanket?
What would be on your wishlist?

06 September 2019

Book Beginnings #78

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young.
The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

"Give me the child." 
Turonn's hands reached for the girl cradled in his wife's arms and she looked up, her swollen eyes glistening. 
"They're waiting, Svanhild."
First off, the cover is stunning. I've been staring at it at least once a week since it was revealed because I Have A Problem. As soon as I got my hands on this book I took it to the beach for a photoshoot. I sat and stared at it so much. It's just so visually stunning, dramatic and eye-catching. I love the colours and the drama and the depth and the strength just in the images.

Interesting first lines, and although it doesn't give much away but it's still pretty poignant. I can see what's going to happen next and it's a little bit heart-breaking.

"When I was your age, I watched my friends die in the fighting season." His voice turned sharp, his eyes narrowing, and Halvard relented. The only thing worse than standing chest-deep in the icy fjord was invoking the disapproval of his brother.
This is a direct reference to the events in Sky In The Deep and I love it. You don't have to have read Sky In The Deep to read The Girl The Sea Gave Back, but it will give you a bit more of the history behind clans like the Aska and the Riki and there are lots of familiar faces. That's all covered in this book though, so you won't be missing out.

Honestly I am just so happy to be back in this world. It's rich and vivid and brutal, and there's something about it that gives me goosebumps.

What are you reading this week?

05 September 2019

Release Day Review: The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu *AD Gifted

BKMRK sent me a free review copy of The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu.

After being introduced to Jennifer Mathieu when Moxie was a Zoella Book Club pick, I instantly fell in love. Her books tackle difficult issues, from feminism and sexism to cults and discovering yourself. I knew before starting The Liars that it would be good - how could it not be? But I didn't expect to be blown away quite as much as I was.

The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu coverAdd to Goodreads button

Their truth will tear them apart.

It's the summer of 1986. Joaquin and Elena, two teenage siblings live in a toxic environment with their alcoholic mother on an island off the Texas Gulf Coast.

Elena falls for a new boy who has just arrived from California. Joaquin must wrestle with his decision to stay on Mariposa Island to protect his sister or flee from his mother's abuse.

As both teenagers struggle to figure out who they are and want to be, they are caught in a web of family dysfunction and secrets from their mother's past.

Source: Review Copy

5 Words: Family, friendship, secrets, lies, love.

Content Warning: Alcohol abuse, drug use, child abuse, family separation.

The Liars was much more complex than I first expected, and almost like a psychological thriller at times. The story had me hooked, the unreliable narrators had me second guessing everything. And yet, I still didn't see it coming.

I really enjoyed the different narrative perspectives, how it cast a different slant on the story. Each character had their own motivations for the lies they told. And Elena was the most fascinating and it was a little bit chilling how naturally it seemed to come to her.

As much as I loved being inside Elena's head as the story unraveled, I think my favourite character was Joaquin. He is so full of love and anger and frustration and resentment and a desperate need to care for his sister. He's so torn up about wanting to help himself too and I found it so endearing. I loved how much of an excellent big brother he was, even if Elena resented it at times.

Caridad is a wonderfully complex character and my opinion on her switched back and forth with what the story revealed about her life. Sometimes I hated her almost as much as some of the other characters, other times it felt like my heart could break over what happened to her.

The Liars is also known as The Liars of Mariposa Island in the US.

Read my reviews of Jennifer Mathieu's other books:

04 September 2019

My Blog’s Name In Books 2019

I saw this on Book Hooked Nook Blog and I just couldn't resist, it seems like so much fun.

My Blog’s Name In Books

Spell out your blog’s name.
Find a book from your TBR that begins with each letter.
NOTE: You cannot ADD to your TBR to complete this challenge – the books must already be on your Goodreads TBR. Don’t cheat my friends!

My Blog’s Name In Books

My Goodreads TBR is... Extensive. Every year in the end of December lull I ruthlessly cut it down by at least 100. And now I'm regretting this because there are less than 500 books and there are a lot of letters in my blog name.

I am not counting "The" at the beginning of titles, same as Goodreads, and to make it even harder I've tried to keep it down to books that I actually already have copies of.


T - Tradition by Brendan Kiely
E - Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
A - All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle


P - Poison Study by Maria V.Snyder
A - Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff
R - Rhubarbs and Circuses by Sally Winter
T - These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch
Y - Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay


P - Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodríguez McRobbie
R - Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
I - Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew
N - The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
C - Collision by Victor Dixen
E - The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
S - Sanctuary by V.V. James
S - Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld

Could you spell your blog name in books?