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31 August 2019

NEWTS Wrap UP

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.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

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.

Tagging:

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?