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17 January 2020

Book Beginnings: The Unspoken Name by AK Larkwood

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 Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood (gifted copy).
The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood cover
In the deep wilds on the north, there is a Shrine cut into the mountainside. The forest covers these hills like a shroud. This is a quiet country, the the Shrine of the Unspoken One is quieter still. Birds and insects keep away from the place.
First thing first, I was sent a free review copy of The Unspoken Name by AK Larkwood. I requested it from the publisher then did a wee dance when it was accepted. Because I am excited to read this book. The past nine months I have been going through a massive fantasy kick and I love it.

It wasn't until I started writing this post that I actually looked at the finished cover. And isn't it gorgeous? I love all of the little details, yet how simply and striking it is at first glance.

These first lines are something, aren't they? I love that the atmosphere and mystery is already building. There is something so sinister and I am intrigued.
She had begun to feel so clever and knowledgeable lately, getting good at swordplay and conjugations, but she had managed to miss this completely. She buried her face in one of the couch cushions to hide her blush.
This is from page 56 in my review copy, so likely won't match up with ebooks and finished copies!

I like this bit. I like it when characters reveal their embarrassment, and start to look more at their own humility. It's a big bit of development for the character and I like how it's coming through.

I am very much enjoying The Unspoken Name and I'm excited to see where it goes. This is a looooong book so this is not far in at all.

What are you reading this week?

15 January 2020

Book Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

It took me a long time to finally read The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, and I was intimidated by the hype. But I loved it.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley coveradd to goodreads button
All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead... and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?


Source: Purchase

5 Words: Friendship, isolation, secrets, love, obsession.

This book has been on my TBR for the longest time. When it first came out I was super excited, but also skint. I requested a copy on NetGalley but then ebooks started triggering migraines. It was quite popular at the library so the waiting list was huge. I had to wait it out, but then my attention wandered elsewhere. Until. I bought it for my mum. For Christmas. From a supermarket.

I kind of wish that I hadn't waited so long to read this. I think it would have impressed me more if I hadn't read so many excellent yet similar books in the interim.

Nevertheless, The Hunting Party is good. It's excellent in fact. It's full of twists and turns and mysteries. The story is engaging, the characters frustrating, the mystery intriguing.

I did have it figured out, but I think that's because as I said before I have read a lot of similar books. It was comfortable to read because I knew the format, but uncomfortable because of the tensions between the characters. It was great.

I think the thing I enjoyed most about The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley was the setting. It was almost a character itself at times, sweeping and vast with endless skies and chilling cold, yet simultaneously claustrophobic. It was picturesque and threatening all at once, and I thought it was very clever. As creepy as it was, I'd love to visit!

If you enjoyed this then I think you'll love STAGS by MA Bennett and In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

13 January 2020

Unboxing Wildest Dreams - Best of YA December 2019

The Wildest Dreams book box starts at  just £16.66 a month, and it's a little box of self care containing a newly released YA book, a bath/body/home product, and a bookish tea. There's always a little extra surprise in there too, which is a fantastic personal touch.

I have been getting this box since the very start, and I couldn't recommend it more.

In The Box

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Bookmark
Harry Potter Christmas Card
Heartstopper Art Print
Best of YA Iced Biscuit
"Holy Pepperoni" A Good Girls Guide to Murder inspired Loose Leaf Tea

My Thoughts

I really liked this box!

My favourite thing was the  "Holy Pepperoni" A Good Girls Guide to Murder inspired Loose Leaf Tea. I love the different blends each month and it encourages me to try new things. This blend is particularly delicious and perfect for warming up in winter. I still need to read the book though!

I haven't got round to starting it yet, but Pet by Akwaeke Emezi sounds excellent and I'm excited to have time in my TBR. I had never heard of it before but I love the idea of exploring the consequences of the choices you make, and themes of monsters and angels, right and wrong. I've heard the ending is intense which makes me even more excited to pick it up. I love that there's a matching bookmark with it too.

The Best of YA Iced Biscuit was absolutely delicious, and it was difficult not to just eat it straight away. It lasted approximately thirty seconds after I took my unboxing picture.

I love Lia's take on the characters from Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, with the Heartstopper Art Print. Seeing Nick and Charlie in a different style made me go all goopy, they're so pure and cute. Just looking at it gives me a huge smile! It's lovely seeing them fleshed out.

I liked the Harry Potter Christmas Card, it appeals right to the Potterhead living deep inside of me. I'm a fan in general of typography so I love the deign, and the colours really compliment the themes. I decided not to actually use this card, and instead I'm going to add it to my Christmas decorations box and bring it out each year as an art print. Now I just need to find a frame.

This Best of YA Box definitely lived up to its name, and I loved everything in it.

Do you get any subscription boxes?




10 January 2020

Book Beginnings: Maid of the King's Court by Lucy Worsley

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 Maid of the King's Court by Lucy Worsley.
Maid of the King's Court by Lucy Worsley Eliza Rose cover
I'd always known that my adult life would begin once I was twelve. And that this would mean marriage.
The lovely Jenn at Jenniely sent me a copy of this book from my wishlist and I am so freaking thankful. It was the only book I got for Christmas as my family never buys me books (I've got enough, they say!).

This book was originally issued as Eliza Rose, with a red and gold cover. But I think I prefer this one! I love stereotypical historical fiction covers - they make me feel comfortable and give me an image in my head going in. I don't usually like covers with a model on the front but I think this one works - the angles are subtle enough that there is still scope for plenty of imagination.

I love this opening line. Straight away it's shocking and it sets the tone of the story to come. I like how it immediately sets out the realities of life for women in the Tudor era.

I feel a little bit of resentment from Elizabeth, and I'm excited to see how this develops.
Only then, I think, did I truly being to believe it. A worm of disappointment uncurled inside me, a malign sensation reaching up from my stomach and down my arms to my fingers. I crushed them into fists to brace myself.
Even out of context, this passage packs a punch.

But to put it in to context it's in a scene where the death of Anne Boleyn is being discussed, and the wider implications of the event for everyone in court, particularly women and accusations of witchcraft.

I love the writing style, it is so easy to read. I love the political intrigue of court life, even when characters try to stay out of.

What are you reading this week?

08 January 2020

Book Review: A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff *AD Gifted

Tor sent me a review copy of  A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff. 

I was first taken in by this book's gorgeous cover, then capture by its first lines. A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff is a wonderful start to an epic high fantasy series that I enjoyed immensely, with lyrical writing and astonishing world building. And a pretty map.


A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff coverAdd to Goodreads button
Debut author Sarah Kozloff offers a breathtaking and cinematic epic fantasy of a ruler coming of age in A Queen in Hiding first in the quartet of The Nine Realms series.

Four books. Four months. Nine Realms.

Readers will be able to binge this amazing fantasy series with beautiful interlocking art across the spines of all four books.

Orphaned, exiled and hunted, Cerulia, Princess of Weirandale, must master the magic that is her birthright, become a ruthless guerilla fighter, and transform into the queen she is destined to be.

But to do it she must win the favor of the spirits who play in mortal affairs, assemble an unlikely group of rebels, and wrest the throne from a corrupt aristocracy whose rot has spread throughout her kingdom.


Source: Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, power, politics, magic, justice.


Before I picked this book up, I didn't read the blurb. I just went for it. And I freaking loved it. A Queen in Hiding is full of surprises and it ticked all of the right boxes for me.

I love nothing more than starting the year with a five star read, and that's exactly what A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff. I loved the quiet power of the Cressa and Cerulia, I loved the political intrigue, I loved the fast pace. I really enjoyed the multiple narrative perspectives, and that we got to see through the eyes of the bad guys too.

This story is pretty vast, with a lot of sub plots. It is definitely high fantasy and with a lot of scope, and I am very excited to see where the next three books take us.

I think that my favourite arc was that of Cressa. I loved her quiet power, her silent wrath, her underestimated braverly. She wasn't overtly powerful, and everyone thought her weak because of it, and I loved her character growth.

Cerulia is a bit of a mixed character for me. She is the main focus, and I found it hard to remember at times how young she is. I thought her character development very natural and well considered. The change in environment and circumstances had an effect on her that I didn't even realise until the end and I thought it was very clever. She's displaced at a young age, naive, and dumbing herself down to hide her identity, and that takes its toll. I think some readers might think her stupid, but I saw her as a product of what happened. She has so much potential and I'm excited to see it explored.

I found myself referring a lot to the map in the front of the book so remind myself of the breadth of events. This is not a small world, and so much of it is explored in the pages.

I have already pre-ordered The Queen of Raiders for next month!

A Queen in Hiding has been touted as perfect for fans of Naomi Novik, Victoria Aveyard, Kendare Blake, Sarah J Mass and Kristin Cashore. And you know what? Yes.

Favourite Quote

News of distant places was accepted on par with a thunderstorm seen off in the distance - a far-off disturbance that would blow over before it touched them.

06 January 2020

My 2020 Bullet Journal Set Up

It's been a long time coming, but between Christmas and New Year I binged YouTube videos, scrolled Instagram for hours, begged for tips on Twitter, and started a bullet journal. Yay? I don't know yet.

What I do know is that I had fun setting everything up. I got some sparkly gel pens and washi tape and a pretty dark blue Leuchtturm1917 dotted notebook (affiliate link) and got to work.

My notebook already has contents/index pages in the front and I'm going to use those. I plan on adding spreads as I go and this will make them easier to find again.

And the result..? Well, this is what I have so far.

2020 Bullet Journal Set Up, Title Page

TITLE PAGE

I'm not very artsy and wanted something simple, so I just scribbled the year in, wrote a wee quote, and went to town with my washi tape! I guess it'll do? I'm happy enough with it, even if it isn't terribly fancy.

GRIDS AND GUIDES

I'd seen this in a few videos and thought it was super helpful! It's not complete as of yet, I'll add to it as I go and find what works for me. It has been very handy for drawing out spreads.

KEY

I kind of winged it with the key, and so it's not really "proper" for a bullet journal I guess, but I think it'll fit my purposes.

YEAR AT A GLANCE

I have pretty much combined Year at a Glance and Future Log - I don't think I have a need for both of them. I enjoy this page.

2020 Bullet Journal Set Up, 2020 Goals and Blog Post Ideas

2020 GOALS

I usually don't set resolutions, but I couldn't help it. Some of these are pretty much just for fun, others are pretty serious and will take some work. I'm excited for some of these!

BLOG POST IDEAS

Usually I will just draft blog ideas straight into a post, but then if I don't use it it gets buried. This way I can keep track of any ideas as they come to me.

2020 Bullet Journal Set Up, A Year In Pixels and How Long Does It Last?

A YEAR IN PIXELS

I only just picked my colours on New Years Day, but I think this'll look pretty once I'm done! I'm tracking a lot of feelings and emotions in this, and I think it'll give me a good idea of how I generally feel. Maybe I'll be surprised.

HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?

This is something I'm very excited to start using! Whenever I open a new product I'll put in the start date, and then when it's all used up I'll put in the finish date. Then I can look at what I'm consuming and work out if there are any alternatives that last longer or are more environmentally friendly.

2020 Bullet Journal Set Up, Things To Check Out

THINGS TO CHECK OUT

I'm terrible for being recommended things and adding books to my TBR or shows to my Watch List and then never getting round to them, because they're buried among all the stuff that I thought looked vaguely interesting. I'm looking to fill this spread with Books, TV Shows, Films and Podcasts, so throw recommendations at me.

So my journal is pretty much a work in progress. 

03 January 2020

Book Beginnings: A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff

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 A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff (gifted copy).
A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff cover
Four catamounts stalk the Throne Room, their black tipped tails scribbling unease in the stuffy air. They linger near the Dedication Fountain, lapping the water that spills down to the pool.
So first off, I was sent a free review copy of A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff. It landed through the door mid-way through December but I was already reading Christmas books and then taking a wee break from reading. I did however read the press release straight away and I was very excited to pick this up - it's part of a The Nine Realms quartet of books by Sarah Kozloff that are going to be published one each month between January and April. I think it's a marvellous idea and I can't wait to binge the series.

I love these first lines - I love that we're straight into the fantasy and the world. I really like the writing style, and this makes me eager to read more. I can picture it well already and not going to lie, I'm imagining something a little like the throne room in Guild Wars 2. Guess what I've been playing recently.

I also love the cover, how gorgeous and dramatic is it?!
She sat up in bed, still sleep-drugged. Cerulia felt a pressure on her mind, something akin to wings beating against a closed window. She "opened" the window, and Aki spoke to her for the first time. Danger, he sent.
This is from page 56 in my review copy, so likely won't match up with ebooks and finished copies!

But wow. I am so addicted to this story now. This is relatively near to the beginning of the book - A Queen in Hiding is around 500 pages so it's not a short read. I find that I'm reading it very fast though, the writing style really drives the pace and I love the characterisation.

Things are really amping up, and I feel that we're at the first turning point in the story. The urgency of the situation at hand is amazing, and it's all in the way it's written.

I can't wait to binge-read this entire series and I'm excited to see what The Nine Realms holds.