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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 a new feature where poor little me fantasy shops on various website, 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

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?

01 September 2019

My September 2019 TBR

I'm trying something a little different with my September TBR. I sat down and sectioned off my books with page tabs, and I'm going to aim to read one of those sections a day. They vary in length, with longer sections for the weekend (hopefully) but are generally 5-chapter chunks.

I'm going to be reading a lot of books that I am very excited about.

My September 2019 TBR

The Books On My September TBR

I was very lucky and I was sent a lot of books in August. So now it's time to tackle them.

The Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo
The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young
The Liars by Jennifer Mathieu
Sanctuary by VV James
Shatter City by Scott Westerfeld
Slay by Brittney Morris
Wonderland: An Anthology edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane

What's on your September TBR?

31 August 2019


I was very late to the Magical Readthon party and only did my OWLs in July, but I was ready for my NEWTs. Or so I thought.

I'd planned ahead with my OWLs and so I only had three books to read. So how did it go?

Seer Career Path

NEWTS - Divination

Acceptable - White Cover

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Exceeds Expectations - Short Story or Collection

Letting Go by Cat Clarke

Outstanding - Most Recently Acquired

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Although I only needed to read three books for my NEWTs I really struggled. Part of this was because one of my books was over 1000 pages, another part of this was that I kept rereading the pages in Nevernight over and over and it took me about three times longer to read than normal because of this. I fell into a slump and it felt like I was getting nowhere. It was almost a relief when I picked up Letting Go by Cat Clarke and read it in a single sitting, and I finished up all three books only yesterday. Definitely cutting it close.

That said, I did read a little outside of the readathon. I rage-read some truly trashy and problematic romances (a whole series of 5 books in fact) in an effort to get myself out of my funk, and I got through the entirety of The Boys comics. But overall August was a pretty sucky month for me reading wise, and I'm now further behind than ever with my reading challenge.

What did you read in August?

30 August 2019

Book Beginnings #77

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 Letting Go by Cat Clarke.
Letting Go by Cat Clarke cover
Never make a promise at a funeral. It's my new motto. it's pretty specific as mottos go, I know. But I think it will serve me well.
First off, I can't stop staring at the cover. It's absolutely breathtaking, so beautiful and striking. I really want it as a print! I love the atmosphere, the beauty of the stars and the mountains, the desolation of the landscape. I love it so much.

I love this first line - it's instantly intriguing, it makes me want to read on, it gives me a taste of the narrator's personality, and from just this I have a feeling I'll like Agnes.
The sun is setting over the mountains to the west, and I don't think I've ever seen anything so beautiful. I can finally see the lochs below, but they're now pools of inky blackness. 
I love the evocative language, how even in such a short story Cat Clarke manages to perfectly capture the surroundings.

And oops I finished it in a single sitting as I was typing this post. It's a gorgeous wee story that I'll definitely pick up again. I loved the ending.

How far should you go to keep a promise?

Barrington Stoke is a company dedicated to making reading accessible. They specialise in super-readable, dyslexia-friendly fiction, and everything from the font to the paper is carefully considered to make it easier to read.

I have Multiple Sclerosis, and sometimes I just can't read and it breaks my heart. The cog fog just takes over and I sit staring at the page taking nothing in. When this happens, Barrington Stoke is pretty much my saviour. The same things that make the stories so accessible to people with dyslexia (like my sister) help me when my brain refuses to cooperate. There's no shadowing through the pages to distract, each letter in the font is unique, the stories themselves are engaging and written excellently, and they have a lot of books by my favourite YA authors like Kate Cann, Bali Rai, Cat Clarke, Holly Bourne, Kevin Brooks.

What are you reading this week?

29 August 2019

Blog Tour: Book Review: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne *AD Gifted

St Martin's Press sent me a free review copy of How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne ahead of the blog tour.

After a shaky start in which I almost DNFed this book, it picked right up and I couldn't stop reading, and I ended up completely invested in the characters are story.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne coverAdd to Goodreads button
These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees...

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past - one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.


Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms. 

Source: NetGalley

5 Words: Friendship, attraction, strength, power, injustice.

Content Warnings: Sexual assault.

I have to admit straight off that I didn't like the start of this book. The beginning left a sour taste in my mouth, as the suffering of women as a device for their motivation often does. Why is rape used so often in writing as motivator for female characters?

But beyond the first chapter, I actually really enjoyed this book. I loved the friendship between Alexandra, Francesca and Cecelia, the way they made the most believable close group, how they subtly defied convention in a myriad little ways and resented their lot as women. I loved their loyalty and love for each other.

Piers is a bitter man - although he does have his reasons. He's also a bit of a fantasist and gets lots in his own head quite a bit, which I actually found quite endearing.

I loved the mystery and the danger and the tension. The story is excellently paced and I never felt bored while reading. I really struggled to put How to Love A Duke in Ten Days down, the writing was very engaging.

After a shaky start, I actually enjoyed this. I just wish I'd never read the first chapter as it was really quite awful and felt a little gratuitous. But overall this was a great book.

27 August 2019

Books That I’d Like In My Personal Library

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 
Books I’ve Read That I’d Like In My Personal Library
So I uhm... Basically have a personal library already. I have three floor to ceiling shelves double stacked, a couple half height shelves double stacked, and many many piles of books. So to shake this up a little, I thought I'd look at the utterly gorgeous Penguin Clothbound Classics that I'd love to have in my own collection. They're so bloomin pretty, and I already have one (A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings) and it's so well made and a bit of an experience to read.

Here are Penguin Clothbound Classics that I'd like in my personal library:
  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  3. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  5. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  6. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  7. The Sonnets and a Lover's Complaint by William Shakespeare
  8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë 
  9. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  10. Villette by Charlotte Brontë

What books would you have in your personal library?

25 August 2019

Bank Holiday Book Tag 2019

Yep, I'm doing my Bank Holiday Book Tag again! This time it's the 2019 version so let's see what's changed since last year.

Feel free to grab it if you're not tagged, just link back to Tea Party Princess. Huge thanks to Aoife at Pretty Purple Polka Dots who helped me iron out the kinks ❤

Bank Holiday Book Tag 2019

So what is a typical bank holiday like?

Have a lie in. Which book could you lounge in bed with all morning?
I only recently read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë but oh my goodness I loved it. For the first time I was gripped by a classic and I couldn't put it down.

Oh my goodness, it's actually sunny outside! A book that makes you feel optimistic.
Meat Market by Juno Dawson is a difficult read but ultimately, just like Clean, it ended with a thread of hope which I loved.

Spend some time outdoors. A book that reminds you of nature.
In The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir the setting was almost a character in itself. While this might not seem like it would remind you of nature, I loved the power of the setting, how even the weather almost came alive.

Make some punch. A book that you find difficult to classify into one genre.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is full of so much that I don't think I can just say it's a fantasy. There are so many layers to the story.

Pass some food around. A book you want to share with everyone.
The Year After You by Nina de Pass is absolutely amazing. It was the first book I read this year and it blew me away. I have so much love for the story and the characters and now I want to reread it again.

Light the BBQ. A book that took a while to get going.
The Beholder by Anna Bright. I felt like it took a bit longer than normal for this book to settle once it started, but once I was around a quarter of the way through I was in love and couldn't put it down.

Failed BBQ. A book that ultimately disappointed you.
Although I really enjoyed reading Forget My Name by JS Monroe, I was ultimately pretty disappointed by the ending. It just stopped, and I still had questions.

It's raining. Of course. A book to curl up with when it's raining outside.
The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie is perfect for cheering up a rainy day. It's an excellent story, truly lovely, and one I have already reread more than once.

Let's just eat the chocolate. A book that's super sweet.
Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman. Seriously, this book is so sweet and reading it is like getting the best kind of hug.


Charlotte Somewhere
A Little But A Lot

List of Prompts:

Have a lie in. Which book could you lounge in bed with all morning?
Oh my goodness, it's actually sunny outside! A book that makes you feel optimistic.
Spend some time outdoors. A book that reminds you of nature.
Make some punch. A book that you find difficult to classify into one genre.
Pass some food around. A book you want to share with everyone.
Light the BBQ. A book that took a while to get going.
Failed BBQ. A book that ultimately disappointed you.
It's raining. Of course. A book to curl up with when it's raining outside.
Let's just eat the chocolate. A book that's super sweet.

23 August 2019

Book Beginnings #76

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 No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter.

No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter cover

"What's taking you so long?" Abi calls from outside the changing-room door. 
I'd bet all the coins in my pocket that Abi's never got stuck in a dress at Topshop. Or maybe this is a thing that happens to really thin people too. I wouldn't know.
It's fair to say that the start of this book had me fair howling with laughter. Because yep, this has happened to me (although it was Miss Selfridge and not Topshop) and it is  M O R T I F Y I N G. Thinking about it makes my palms sweat as I remember the blind panic and how I almost cried with relief when I managed to prize the dress from my shoulders. Why is the lining always so clingy anyway?

I had the privilege of listening to the author read out this passage when she started her book tour at Newcastle Waterstones chaired by the lovely Steph at A Little But A  Lot and there were many nods of "yep, me too".

I love Emily's voice in this book. It's sassy and witty and pretty much everything I wanted to be as a teen. She's sure of herself and confident and I bloody love her.
Holly is smiling to herself. It's as if within seconds, she's assessed the change in dynamic between Camila and me. We're no longer the Fat Emily and Fat Camila duo - I'm now definitely the odd one out. I'm sure Holly loves it. 
I'm actually almost finished No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter, and I know that I will absolutely read more from this author. I love her writing style.

It's a book about loving yourself and accepting yourself and being the best you that you can be.

What are you reading this week?

16 August 2019

Book Beginnings #75

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 Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey.

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey cover

Lest anyone should suppose that I am a cuckoo’s child, got on the wrong side of the blanket by lusty peasant stock and sold into indenture in a shortfallen season, I may say that I am House-born and reared in the Night Court proper, for all the good it did me.
Someone, somewhere, recommended this book to me. And I can't remember who. All I know if that I am thankful they did, as it is excellent and I am loving it so far, even with the unexpected BDSM elements. I really should read blurbs and shelf tags more often.

I am reading Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey for the Magical Readathon #NEWTsReadathon2019, for my most recently acquired book prompt for Divination. It's a beast of a book in length, around 1000 pages, and goodness knows if I'll manage to finish it before the end of the challenge. Wish me luck!

I sat up straight on the couch. ‘The arts of the salon are of the utmost import, my lord!’ 
‘No.’ His grey eyes glinted. ‘They have value, Phèdre, and that is all. But what I will teach you, you will like, I think. You will learn to look, to see, and to think, and there is merit in such lessons as will last a lifetime.’
Because of the sheer length of this book, page 56 is a tiny 5% into the story. But my, a lot has happened. This is the first kind of really pivotal moment where things truly change for Phèdre and her new life starts to properly take shape.

I feel like at times this book is very dark, and it has very strong BDSM themes throughout. It is certainly not for the prudish, but a lot of respect has gone into the presentation of the BDSM elements. It's so full of political and court intrigue and power plays, and I am honestly in love with the story.

What are you reading this week?

12 August 2019

Book Review: American Royals by Katharine McGee *AD Gifted

Penguin Random House UK Children’s sent me a free electronic review copy of American Royals by Katharine McGee via NetGalley.

American Royals by Katharine McGee coverAdd to Goodreads button
Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. 
Two girls vying for the prince's heart. 
This is the story of the American royals.

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne. Like most royal families, the Washingtons have an heir and a spare. A future monarch and a backup battery. Each child knows exactly what is expected of them. But these aren't just any royals. They're American.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America's first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she's breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn't care much about anything, either... Except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there's Samantha's twin, Prince Jefferson. If he'd been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince... But two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

The duty. The intrigue. The Crown. New York Times bestselling author Katharine McGee imagines an alternate version of the modern world, one where the glittering age of monarchies has not yet faded--and where love is still powerful enough to change the course of history.

Source: NetGalley

5 Words: Family, royalty, fame, responsibility, friendship.

American Royals is a really fun read, and honestly perfect for summer. I have read some of Katharine McGee's books before (check out my review of The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee) so I knew what to expect. Or so I thought. 

I loved the extravagance and vividness of the alternate reality. This book is pure enjoyment, and I loved how readily I could suspend disbelief and lose myself in it. It all felt so real and I loved it. It did feel more New Adult than Young Adult, but I this is more down to the age of the characters than the content as a lot of the drama is quite juvenile.

There are a range of narrators for the story, and I felt that they all had pretty distinct voices. I did find myself a little confused now and then, but ultimately I really enjoyed being in the different character's heads and seeing their points of view. I think my favourite was Samantha, even if she did have a lot of problems and I ultimately didn't even like her that much.

American Royals is somewhat predictable, but that does not detract from the enjoyment. It's like watching an episode of Gossip Girl, seeing all of these privileged people racing towards a trainwreck of privileged drama one privileged mistake at a time. I feel like the wider story with the next book (it's a series I think?) will be just as predictable, but equally fun to read.

This is definitely my favourite of the author's books, and I will absolutely read on if there are further American Royals books - and after That Ending I certainly need more.

08 August 2019

Book Review: DOGS by MA Bennett *AD Gifted

I claimed a free review copy of DOGS by MA Bennett from Hot Key Books via the Readers First program.

After reading and reviewing STAGS by MA Bennett exactly two years ago, I was pretty desperate to get my hands on the second installment. And when I picked up DOGS I was not disappointed, and just like with the first book I raced through it.

DOGS by MA Bennett coverAdd to Goodreads button
After the dramatic events of the last few weeks, Greer Macdonald is trying to concentrate on her A levels. Stuck for a play to direct for her drama exam, she gets help from an unexpected quarter...

A priceless lost play, buried by time, is pushed under her door. It is Ben Jonson's The Isle of Dogs, a play considered so dangerous in Elizabethan times that every copy was burned... Except one.

As the students begin to rehearse it, events become increasingly dark and strange, and they lead Greer back to where she never thought she would return - Longcross Hall.

There she discovers that not only is the Order of the Stag alive and well, but that a ghost from the past might be too...

Source: Readers First

5 Words: Privilege, power, ambition, secrets, ghosts.

When I first read STAGS two years ago I said that I would be happy for it to be a standalone. That was a lie, and we all know it. So knowing that

I think one of the great things about this book is that you don't necessarily have to have read STAGS first - but if you have you will get a lot more out of it. There is a recap of sorts in the first chapters - and it's not info-dump style, it fits well into the narrative - and it means that if you wanted you could just start from here.

Again I really connected with Greer - she is so relatable at times that it's almost a bit jarring, and I definitely agree with her verdict on Romeo and Juliet. She is the narrator and I love being in her head, she's dry and witty and I laugh a lot. With DOGS there are even more characters introduced, and I  loved Ty. I felt like the de Warlencourt twins are creepy, but that could also be that I kind of find twins in general a bit creepy because in the book they're actually not.

I loved how the play within the story got darker and darker as the story itself got darker - it was almost poetic and I thought it was really clever. DOGS has a lot less on page action and thrills, the physicality takes a bit of a back seat and the thriller aspect is much more in your head. I loved it, it made it all the more chilling for me.

And that ending? Now I'm desperate for the third installment! I am so glad that this is part of an ongoing extended series, because I love the twisted world of privilege and entitlement at Saint Aidan The Great School.

02 August 2019

Book Beginnings #74

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 Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff cover

The boy was beautiful. 
Caramel-smooth skin, honeydew-sweet smile. Black curls on the right side of unruly. Strong hands and hard muscle and his eyes, O, Daughters, his eyes. Five thousand fathoms deep. Pulling you in to laugh even as he drowned you.
I got Nevernight in an Illumicrate box years ago. I remember the box vividly (it also had a cute Gilmore Girls tote bag) and I remember being intrigued by the book. But I also remember sitting Nevernight on my shelf and kind just... Leaving it. Goodness knows why, because I'm a huge grimdark fan and I don't read nearly as much as I'd like to.

Anyway fast forward around three years (I'm a bad bookworm) and I'm finally picking up Nevernight by Jay Kristoff for the Magical Readathon #NEWTsReadathon2019. It's going to fill my White Book prompt for Divination. There is so much wild hype around the series that I am a little apprehensive, but only a few chapters in I am hooked. The writing style is almost lyrical, lush with description, and I love it.

This first line? I love it. And I'm excited to read on.

"It's like those fellows who name their swords 'Skullbane' or 'Souldrinker' or somesuch." Tric ties his saltlocks into a matted knot atop his head. "Tossers, all."
I am very much enjoying Nevernight, even if I am already drawing up a long list of content warnings in my review draft. It's very stylishly written, I like the flow, I'm enjoying the back and forth of finding out more about Mia Corvere. And yes, it's dark.

Have you read Nevernight by Jay Kristoff? What did you think of it?

What are you reading this week?

31 July 2019

OWLs in July Wrap Up

I was very late to the Magical Readthon party, mainly because I had a lot going on in April so couldn't join in them, so when Aoife mentioned she was doing her OWLs in July I jumped in and joined her.

I knew that I'd have A Lot going on for the considerable future, so I settled on the fairy easy goal of the Seer career path, as I knew it'd give me plenty of leeway for the NEWTs too.

Mandatory OWLs

Ancient Runes - Retelling

Astronomy - "Star" in the Title

Divination - Set in the Future

Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

Extra Credit OWLs

Muggle Studies - Contemporary

DADA - Reducto: Title Starts with an R

Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence

Charms - Age Line: Read an Adult Work

Potions - Next Ingredient: Sequel

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

History of Magic - Published at least 10 Years Ago

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

So overall, I did much better than I expected. I read a lot more than I thought I would and I FOUND A NEW FAVOURITE BOOK and it's a Classic so colour me shocked because my party line is I Don't Like Classics. I even read a few other books outside of the readathon that I couldn't shoehorn into the prompts.

Now I'm excited for the NEWTs tomorrow, especially as I have a little more freedom if I want to stray from the Seer career path.

What did you read in July?

27 July 2019

Q&A With Rose Edwards

I picked up a copy of The Harm Tree by Rose Edwards when I was at NYA Lit Fest after hearing the author talk about it on a panel, and I devoured it. It's epic and exciting and fresh and fierce and feminist, and basically everything I need in a fantasy.

This is a bit of a different Q&A, because I AM AT YALC and SO IS ROSE and I was very hyped about the event. If you're at YALC pop over to UCLan Publishing's stall and grab a copy of The Harm Tree you will not be disappointed.

Q&A with Rose Edwards

Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write The Harm Tree.
I’ve always been interested in stories about gods and spirits. The touchstone for The Harm Tree came from thinking about Joan of Arc, about how a teenage girl convinced a disenfranchised prince and his army that saints were guiding her, and they should trust her to guide them. When I was young I loved mythology, and during my studies at university I came across accounts of spirit possession and millennial beliefs, the kind that convince whole communities that the world is ending, and that they should give up everything they have to prepare for the conflagration. I knew I wanted to write about two young women who inhabit a world where these themes overlapped, and who find themselves in the eye of a storm that’s been brewing their whole lives. Those were the starting points, and the story grew from there.

By the time this Q&A goes live, you'll be at YALC - what are you most excited about?
Firstly, I’m excited to be seeing so many inspiring writers in conversation with each other! I’ll probably spend the first day just fangirling about that. Secondly, I’m presenting an award at the UKYA Bloggers Awards on Friday(!) - having seen the effort and love that goes into so many book blogs it’s an honour to be part of an event to recognise all the work that goes into sharing and promoting YA lit. And of course this means I get to wear a party frock (I ASSUME I mean surely?), which is always a win. I’ll also be in conversation with my agent Sandra Sawika at 2pm on Saturday, making friendship bracelets (come make friendship bracelets with me!) at 4pm, and doing signings at the UCLan Publishing stall, so it’s not like I’ll be at a loose end. Finally I’m definitely going to try to sneak in to Comic Con to see Kieron Gillian – I’m a massive fan of The Wicked & Divine comic series.

Earlier this year you were in a panel at NYA, what was your favourite thing about it?
It was a treat and a delight to be sitting alongside established authors like Melinda Salisbury, Laure Eve, and Samantha Shannon, sharing our thoughts on feminism in fantasy. I mean, how could that not be a dream? They all write such interesting female characters, and it was fun mapping out how we had all come to feminism through such a variety of routes, and what it meant to us as writers to include those beliefs in our stories.

How have you prepared for YALC?
With printouts of the schedule, a carefully colour-coded selection of pastel highlighters, and making sure I have cool clothes. That’s cool as in the temperature; I hear YALC is hot. It’s literally the first thing everyone has said to me. Also smelling salts in case Jason Momoa.

Why do you think events like YALC and NYA are so important?
As well as giving you a chance to see hear some of your favourite authors discuss the topics explored by their books, or give insights into their writing process through workshops, festivals have a practical, aspirational side too. They bring authors, illustrators, readers, agents, publishers, librarians and bloggers together, something that wouldn’t happen otherwise. I think these festivals are a great opportunity to get an overall view of how the industry works, and see just how many people are involved in bringing a story into the world and nurturing it. It demystifies that process, and helps people who aspire to be part of the industry understand more about the different roles available to them.

The Harm Tree by Rose Edwards coverAdd to Goodreads button
An epic fantasy set in a world still recovering from one war, and on the brink of another.

The resistance is rising and dark forces stir to take back what was once theirs. Belief in the ancient gods runs strong—the sacrificial Harm Tree still stands.

You’re too young to remember why we needed heroes. You should be glad…

Nine years ago, two princes waged a bloody civil war for the right to rule Arngard. The younger prince took the throne and outlawed the ancient beliefs, but some wounds don’t heal. New religion replaced the barbaric traditions and finally, there’s peace.

Torny and Ebba are friends. Sent away by their families, they work together and watch out for each other. Too young to remember the war that tore apart the kingdom, Torny dreams of the glorious warriors of old, while Ebba misses her family, despite the darkness she left behind.

But when a man is murdered on the street and Torny finds herself in possession of a dangerous message, the two friends must tread separate paths. These will lead them through fear, through grief, to the source of their own power and to the gates of death itself.

As Torny and Ebba are used as tools for the opposing factions of the war, a deep power is ignited in them both. Can they uncover their own strength to finally heal the wounds of a nation?