14 January 2019

Blog Tour: Book Review: The Girl King by Mimi Yu

I was so excited when I picked up The Girl King by Mimi Yu, and I definitely had expectations going. On reading it, I was not disappointed! And isn't the cover gorgeous? See my Book Beginnings thoughts.

The Girl King by Mimi Yu coverAdd to Goodreads button
Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty's first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead - a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally - and an army - if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved...

Alone in the volatile court, Min's hidden power awakens - a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set's reign... or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.

Source: Review copy

5 Words: Family, magic, power, manipulation, control. 

Content Warning: Attempted rape, manipulation, violence.

I loved The Girl King right from the start, it was a fast paced roller-coaster of a read, and I couldn't put it down.

I think my favourite character was definitely Min. She's very much a product of her upbringing in how she bears herself, but she still has a spark of something despite it. She's a pawn used by other characters, but it was like I could see a glimmer of something deeper there whenever she was on page. And I felt that I could often really relate to how she felt too. I feel like a lot of the other characters in the book really underestimated her, and I'd like to see how that develops in the next book.

I love the way the story was filled with twists and turns. I did absolutely see the first "twist" coming, but I was eager for it to get the story going. I was ready for it. My little cliché-loving heart jumped for joy when it happened. The Girl King was full of political intrigue, a huge journey of discovery, the pettiness and small dangers of court life, and the consequences of the actions you undertake.

I really enjoyed the magic of the world in the Girl King. There was something about the book as a whole that felt epic. I loved the politics of the story, the way toxic relationships were explored.

13 January 2019

The Bookish Joy of Bookish People

Today I am writing a letter all about bookish joy, as prompted by CHCC YA Fest for the Bookish Joy Blog Fest ahead of the YA Fest on 12th May.

CHCC Bookish Joy Blog Fest

Dear Bookish People,

You really are the best type of people.

I love the passion of the book community. I love the togetherness, the way that bookish people all have such passion and generosity.

I love librarians, those sorters of books, curators of shelves, recommenders of books. School librarians have a special place in my heart. They encourage exploration and ignite imagination. They create bookish people and nurture them. My high school librarian was The Best, she was the person who made me a reader rather than someone who occasionally picked up books.

I love booksellers, passionate pushers of books, hosters of author signings, servers of wine. I love that I can walk in and ask for a recommendation and when it's given it's given from the heart and full of enthusiasm. And I love that the staff at my local bookshop understand how often I lose my tickets (every time).

Bloggers are basically My People. Those people that love books so much that they have to shout about it, just like me. I love that there's always something to chat about. I love the questions: what are you reading now? What have you just finished? What's next?

When it comes down to it, I love you all. Very much.


PS. You can get 10% off tickets to Chadwell Heath Community Centre YA Fest with the code YAFEST10.

10 January 2019

Release Day Book Review: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

If you remember way back when I reviewed Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu then you'll know that I struggled to put my feelings into words as I was blown away. Devoted was no exception and I thought that it was absolutely excellent.

Devoted by Jennifer MathieuAdd to Goodreads button
Rachel Walker's family and community have turned away from the world.

Every part of Rachel's life is controlled, from what she reads to where she goes and what she wears. Her parents dictate how her life must be: marriage, modesty, children and obedience to her future husband. But when a former member of her community, a girl who escaped, moves back to her small Texas town, Rachel's world turns upside down.

She realises that her life is her own. But can she find the courage to fight for it?

Source: Review Copy

5 Words: Belief, family, control, friendship, living.

Devoted is a very emotional story, and I think it was written with a lot of care and consideration - there is nothing vilifying about region itself, it is more a commentary on some more extreme beliefs and how they can effect individuals, families, and communities.

Rachel is such a deep and complicated character, and I found it so easy to feel sympathy for her. I felt dread when she did, love when she did, relief when she did. And I was rooting for her all through the story.

I thought that Rachel and Mark were adorable. I loved their back and forth, their word games, the slow build of their relationship as they got to know each other and become comfortable being around someone from such a different world.

This is quite a fast paced contemporary for all that I can't really say anything super action-y takes place. But I could not put it down. The writing is engaging and I cared so much about Rachel that I didn't want her story to end.

Devoted is a marvellous book, a brave story, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary and fantastically written characters.

Have you read anything by Jennifer Mathieu?

06 January 2019

Walkies Time * GIFTED

I find the best way to blow away the cobwebs after the holidays is a nice brisk walk, and to be honest I don't need much of an excuse to get out and about with the pups. And this time of year is when resolutions like getting fitter and being outside more are made.

One of the things I want to work towards is being more confident in myself, and part of that will be posting pictures of myself on the blog (shock, horror, ahhh) so here we go...

time to go walkies

For a walk, especially in winter, you need to dress sensibly and wrap up warm. I pretty much always have a thermal base layer as I can really feel the cold, and you'll likely find me wearing tights under my jeans too.

Petite Hooded Fit and Flare navy Trench Coat, JD Williams

When I'm thinking about Winter Coats and Jackets I'm mostly thinking about layering possibilities - the more I can layer the better - and how suitable it is for the weather. Is it shower proof? Is there a hood? The last thing I want to think about when I'm wrangling energetic puppies is trying to juggle an umbrella with the poo bags.

This one from JD Williams is petite, with a fit and flare shape, and I don't think I've ever owned a more gorgeous and well fitting coat. It hangs perfectly, there's enough space for my bust, I can nip the waist in with the belt. And there is a hood. And there are pockets. And it's so gorgeous and versatile that I've worn it almost every day since Christmas.

Florence Basic leopard print Chelsea Boot from JD Williams

When I was browsing for a new pair of Women's Boots on JD Williams I fell in love with these leopard print Chelsea Boots. It's only in the past year that I've started wearing ankle boots, as I was nervous about them making me look shorter, but after trying some I got over that quickly! Especially when I had animal prints dangled in front of me.

I love how these boots are super comfortable, but also really stylish. They're perfect for work, drinks, and general day-to-day, and they're my new favourites. Sorry Doc Martens.

Pebbles and Kara go walkies - dog walking

What are your winter walk essentials?

* I was gifted boots and a coat for review purposes, all thoughts are my own.

time to go walkies fashion review dog walk

05 January 2019

Book Review: Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan

I love the Red Eye horror series from Stripes, so I jumped at the chance to read this one. Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan was an extremely intense read and one that I raced through, so when it came to writing this book review I had to stop and think for a while. It was a bit of a whirlwind of a read.

Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan coverAdd to Goodreads button
She sat us all down and told us a story. About things that lived in the woods. Things that only came out at night.

For Charlie, a school ski trip is the perfect escape from his unhappy home life. Until a storm blows in and the resort town is cut off from the rest of the world. Trapped on the mountain, the students wait for the blizzards to pass, along with mysterious ski guide Hanna. 

But as night falls and the town’s long buried secrets begin to surface, the storm is the least of their problems...

A chilling RED EYE horror, perfect for fans of Dawn Kurtagich, Juno Dawson and Charlie Higson.

Source: Review Copy | Blog Tour

5 Words: Friendship, family, vampires, horror, isolation.

This book is bloody and intense. It's scary and chilling and one hell of a ride to read. Especially if it's snowing.

Charlie is the main character and a pretty complex character - but we also see a few other perspectives. As I mentioned in my Book Beginnings, I could relate to Tara quite a lot. She is definitely, absolutely a brat and a bitch, but I get it.

I loved the setting, it was already remote at the start but as events - and the storm - build it just increases, the atmosphere feeling heavier and heavier. The writing is rich with description that really bring the story to life, and I loved the contrasts of blood and snow. They were shocking to read at times.

And the ending? The ending of Whiteout by Gabrial Dylan was fantastic, and I loved how everything didn't quite wrap up as I expected.

Other Red Eye Book Reviews:

04 January 2019

Book Beginnings #66

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 King by Mimi Yu.
The Girl King by Mimi Yu cover
It was well before dawn when the Ana and Aba stirred the priestess from her bed. Had she been anyone else she might have been deep in slumber.
I have been very excited about this book for a while, so I'm glad I'm picking it up now. It comes out next week, but there are some early copies circling and the reviews I'm seeing are excellent.

I like this start - it doesn't give much away at all but I'm still eager to read on.
The empress cocked her head slightly to one side - no easy feat given the weight of her hair, dripping with jeweled pins and topped with a gold diadem.
The imagery on this whole page! It's so vivid, so rich, and I can't wait to get to this part. I love the writing style.

What are you reading this week?
Book Beginnings, The Girl King by Mimi Yu

03 January 2019

Book Review: The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

From the gorgeous cover to the mesmerising writing, The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge was an absolute delight to read. It's dark and twisting and chilling, and perfect for a thrill when it's cold outside.

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge coverAdd to Goodreads button
Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller - this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of Coraline and Michelle Paver.

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma's cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in...

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, The Twisted Tree is a ghost story that twists and turns - and never takes you quite where you'd expect.

Source: Review Copy

5 Words: Secrets, grief, family, mythology, acceptance.

Content warning: Grief, PTSD.

I had already read the first couple of chapters of this thanks to Readers First, and I was hooked from the start. But when I got further into the story it got very dark, very quickly. And I was blown away.

The Twisted Tree is dark and twisty and chilling and you will definitely need a blanket to hide under to keep yourself warm while you read. The writing is incredibly evocative, and I could see every scene play out as though I was watching it. I was blinded by the fog, by the swirling snow. I felt the elation of mucking around and throwing snow balls. But even thinking back to it now my fingers and toes are cold.

This book is honestly excellently written. I loved the style, I loved the imagery, I loved the Norse mythology woven in. I loved Martha and her insecurities, and I loved Stig and how mysterious he was. I didn't know who to trust and what was real or imagined, and I loved it. I really enjoyed how the setting, how being in such close quarters, accelerated the building relationship between Martha and Stig.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves Norse Mythology, a bit of a thrill, and beautiful writing. It was wonderful. The ebook is out now and the paperback is out on 10th January.

What's your favourite mythological inspired story?

01 January 2019

Things I Want To Work Towards in 2019

I'm not making resolutions as such, but I am setting out some things I'd like to work towards in the coming year.

Things I Want To Work Towards in 2019

Things I Want To Work Towards in 2019

Go More Places

I'd love to go more places and do more exploring and adventuring. I love the magic of going somewhere new and falling in love with a new place. I'm going to take full advantage of my National Trust membership as well and I'm aiming for one place a month. There aren't many properties I can get to, but it'll be nice to see them change through the seasons and find some new favourite haunts. Also: picnics. I love picnics at all times of year, you just need an extra flask and more layers when it's cold.

Read More Romance

I love reading romance, but I don't actually read it all that often, which I think is a shame. I'm going to try and read more Mills & Boon, because I love passion as love and all those tender feelings. And the lust. I'm going to try and read at least one romance novel every month for the warm fuzzies.

Read My Backlist

I really want to tackle the books I already own - because it's ridiculous. I have over 300 books on my shelves and over 200 of those are unread. It definitely has to change. I'll be starting a fun new feature where I read the books already on my shelves as recommended by fellow book worms to keep myself accountable.

Fight My Fears

I have a terrible fear of needles, it used to be a phobia to the point where I'd avoid going to the doctors just in case they suggested a blood test. Exposure to quarterly blood tests is helping - and I don't scream, cry, and plead anymore - but I'd love to get to the point where I don't almost pass out and I can go to the hospital on my own.

Read the Discworld Books

I can't remember the last time I picked up a Discworld book, so I'm setting a target of reading one per week for the year. I love most of the Discworld books anyway, it's just been a long while since I read one, and I'm going in with the City Watch arc and then I'll probably move on to the Industrial Revolution books, as I can't bring myself to even think about Rincewind.

What are you going to work towards in 2019?

Things I Want To Work Towards in 2019: goals and resolutions for 2019