August wrap-up

August was another brilliant month for reading for me! I started off really well and read a book in just three days but then I got a little slow but I picked up the pace near the end of August and overall I managed to read eight books this month including five rereads!

Books read in August:

  1. A Gathering of Shadows by V E Schwab (2016) ♥♥♥♥♥
    Link to Goodreads
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  2. Summer Shadows by Joss Stirling (2016) ♥♥♥♥
    Full book review
    Link to Goodreads
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  3. The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye (2016) ♥♥♥♥♥
    Full book review
    Link to Goodreads
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  4. Throne of Glass by S J Maas (2012) ♥♥♥♥♥
    Link to Goodreads
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  5. Crown of Midnight by S J Maas (2013) ♥♥♥♥♥
    Link to Goodreads
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  6. Heir of Fire by S J Maas (2014) ♥♥♥♥♥
    Link to Goodreads
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  7. Queen of Shadows by S J Maas (2015) ♥♥♥♥♥
    Link to Goodreads
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  8. The Cursed Child by Jack Thorne (2016) ♥♥♥
    Full book review coming soon
    Link to Goodreads
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I loved rereading the Throne of Glass series and AGOS but my favourite new book this month was The Crown’s Game, featured in my top five books of the year so far with its magic and beautiful descriptions of Imperial Russia. My least favourite book this month was definitely The Cursed Child. I did not like the story at all, I missed the description when reading this play, but it was the story overall that I felt let down by and I’ll post a review of it soon.

In other news, I can’t wait for the release of Empire of Storms and it will definitely be on my September TBR! Thanks @weereader @pollyandbooks @hunguponbooks_ for hosting the #maasmarathon so I reread this series in time for its release!

 

 

 

Summer Shadows book review

by Joss Stirling (2016) Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star

“‘I’m feeling pretty spectacular right now,’ I admitted.
‘You are pretty spectacular,’ he agreed.” – Joss Stirling, Summer Shadows

I am so sad now that the Benedict series if over.

If you’ve never heard of Joss Stirling or the Benedict series, then all I can say is CHECK IT OUT HERE and you’ll find yourself a brilliant new series to immerse yourself into. I discovered Finding Sky (the first in the series) a year ago when I was getting back into reading fantasy stuff and it sounded really good, so I gave it a go and soon fell in love with the whole savant world and Benedict brothers.

Each book (six in the whole series) focuses on a particular savant and their discovery of their soulfinder – another savant born at around the same time as them and one which is like their ‘soulmate’ for life. The whole idea of soulfinders and people having powers was just right up my street at the time and I’ve enjoyed each book so much. I’d say the book series is for a younger audience, but I loved it all the same because sometimes you just need something cute and heart-warming to read.

Summer Shadows focuses on the girl, Summer, who is a mind-reader and can actually control people and is also a very powerful savant. The only one left out of her friends without a soulfinder, Summer finds herself pulled into helping the last of the Benedict brothers without a soulfinder, Victor, who suddenly disappears and Summer is the only one who can get past his mental defences and reach him through their minds.

But Summer has a complicated home life, her secret mother – a ‘vampire’ savant – is revealed to her friends when they come over to her house unexpectedly, and Summer vows that once Victor has been found, she will turn back on her savant life and never find her soulfinder, for fear it will propagate the ‘vampire’ gene that lies within her blood line.

But of course, things take an unexpected turn when Summer meets Hal, a non-savant soldier with savant brothers and they have to join up together in order to find Victor in time.

I loved Summer’s story: the conflicted feelings for her family and friends, wanting to help the Benedict brothers but knowing she can never find her soulfinder and turning back on her savant self, and then the chaos that ensues when Summer discovers a certain someone she meant to avoid… She’s strong-willed and determined to protect her friends and family no matter what.

The story is predictable, as with all the books in the series, nothing bad happens and the main characters always come out of their predicaments unscathed but this is why I love these books – it’s just something to pick up and enjoy, knowing that it’s all going to be fine in the end and sometimes you just need one of those stories. These books are my go-to for when I need cheering up or just reading something cute (which, let’s face it, we kind of need in this day and age).

Summer was a sort of mysterious character with the reader not being made fully aware of what her savant power was throughout Misty Falls and Angel Dares so it was really good to see her perspective and we learnt of her muddled family and its dark history. Summer is a strong-willed character that can stand her ground and isn’t fazed in the face of danger, and often puts her head before her heart.

Her relationship with Hal was adorable to read about, Hal being cheeky and ruffling Summer’s feathers (and I loved the Disney references, especially when Hal told her to let it go and sang it like in Frozen!) but Summer putting her foot in it and flaunting her sophisticated education with her vocabulary and knowledge, often unbalaned Hal’s cheeky attitude and showed us another side to the seemingly casual Hal.

Another thing I like about these books is that the characters from the previous books in the series often pop back up in the story and we saw a resurfacing of an antagonist in Stealing Phoenix which added to the story arc and allowed the reader to find out what happened in the end to all the criminals that the Benedicts put away.

Here come some spoilers now so don’t read if you haven’t read Summer Shadows or any of the Benedict series!

So, obviously Hal was Summer’s soulfinder and WHAT AN ADORABLE PAIR THEY MAKE! Cue hearts and confetti and wonderfulness.

Okay, so it was pretty obvious from the blurb that he would be, but when I found out that he didn’t have an savant powers I thought that maybe he would be the first non-savant to be someone’s soulfinder? But I like the idea of him actually being a savant and being totally unaware of his powers, despite knowing all about the savant world (thanks to his savant brothers) which is so unlike to some of the previous books where the guy had no idea he was a savant (like in Angel Dares). It meant that we still had the shock coming from Hal at discovering he was a savant, but not all the confusion with what a savant was and so he got over the shock quite quickly. However Hal really didn’t trust Summer at first and it was quite sad to read over his accusation of ‘faking’ the soulfinder bond between them and Summer curled up under the desk in attempt to comfort herself.

Poor Summer. Her dad pushes her to stay home so he doesn’t have to deal with her ‘vampire’ mother alone, her mother regularly enjoys feeding off her emotions so she’s had to build a huge shield around herself to protect herself from her mother, and now she can’t even celebrate finding her soulfinder because he believes it’s all a trick.

But I did like Hal. He was a great character and quite funny at times, but I also liked how at ease he was and confident in himself, despite being surrounded by savants and being the odd one out. All the little moments where he tried to care for Summer were nicely done and further added for my love of the character and the relationship between him and Summer.

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I couldn’t believe it when Summer broke down Hal’s shield and managed to get into his head to control him so they could escape, discovering that he was her soulfinder in the process and having to flee from him at that very second. Not going to lie, it was exciting but sad to read, because you wanted it to be a beautiful moment – like a first kiss, it has to be perfect – but it just shows that not everything happens in the perfect fairytale way, making the story a bit more believable and not just having every finding-your-soulfinder moment as smooth and lovely as you’d wish for the characters.

The ending was just what you wanted – Hal using his powers to cure Summer’s mother and brother and Hal and Summer being together ♥

A lovely end to the Benedict series and something to read when all you want is a bit of love – family love, friendship and the love between two soulfinders.

“‘And that’s how I’d like my soulfinder to look at me,’ I murmured.
Angel squeezed my hand in sympathy and dipped into telepathy. He will, she promised.” – Joss Stirling, Summer Shadows

 

A Conjuring of Light cover reveal

Titan Books FINALLY revealed the UK cover for A Conjuring of Light, the third and final instalment of the A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy by V E Schwab and IT’S AWESOME!

Behold:

I absolutely love the designs of the ADSOM books with the title of the book filling the silhouette of a figure and that person always walking between the worlds, but this cover has clever little hints too – the black background and the crumbling/fading away of Red London and a certain Black London emerging???? The cover is taunting us!

ADSOM is one of my favourite books I discovered this year (see my post on five reasons why you should read ADSOM) and I am so excited for this book, the cover is stunning but I just hope it isn’t foreshadowing anything awful that’s going to happen in the book – Black London can’t take over!

What are your thoughts of this cover? Are you as scared as I am for the fate of a certain few characters?

A Conjuring of Light is due to be released February 2017.

Empire of Storms excitement

I can’t be the only one excited for Empire of Storms to come out in September so here’s a post full of teasers I’ve found on various social media. I only just discovered the Throne of Glass series this year and who would have known that it would turn my life upside down? Sarah J Maas is one of my absolute favourite fantasy authors, her writing is beautiful and nothing like anything I have ever read.

I’m currently doing a reread of the series and I’ve just got about 100 pages of Heir of Fire (my fave) to finish, but with Empire of Storms due to be released in just two weeks, I am so excited! I’ve preordered it from WHSmith because the UK get given an exclusive short story (link here) which I’m both happy and annoyed about because while exclusive content gets everyone excited that can get their hands on it, it’s not fair to people who can’t reach it, but thank goodness people tend to upload it on social media so everyone can enjoy it! Hopefully they’ll be a book released with all the short stories/exclusive content in the future so everyone can access it.

Empire of Storms, the fifth instalment of a six-book series, is due to be released on September 6th and my god have we been teased about it!

The cover was revealed to us a few months ago and it certainly got the fandom talking!

Not only does Aelin appear to have grown from when we saw her on the ToG cover, but she can be seen wielding an arc of fire and a sword is grasped in her hand (Damaris??) and the Eye of Elena is tied round her neck. The choice of outfit created a storm on social media, people loving it and speculating over what this outfit could hint to in the book. And also the background (on the US hardcover) is really dark and looks quite bleak – a hint as to the state of Erilea??

But to keep us on the edge of our seats, the World of Sarah J Maas tumblr blog (link here) and Bloomsbury Twitter page keeps throwing more teasing quotes at us! I’ve compiled them all (hopefully I haven’t missed any) on here so read on and enjoy some amazing quotes from EoS till it’s released!

No more, no more! I can’t take all this uncertainty!

Empire of Storms will be released in just under TWO WEEKS and I can’t wait any longer.

I’m loving my reread of the series (Rowan ♥) and I am so excited to see how relationships develop in the next book, but I have a horrid feeling someone is going to die – Aedion? Or Chaol? STRESS. I NEED Empire of Storms now!! Who else is beyond excited?

Roll on 6th September ♥

New releases in 2016

There have been so many amazing books released in 2016 and there’s still loads more to come! Here are a few of the books that are going to be released in the second half of 2016 that I cannot wait to get my hands on:

#1 Empire of Storms

 

Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas, release date 6th September. This is the fifth and penultimate instalment to the Throne of Glass series and promises a quest for Aelin Galathynius to prevent all of Erilea from breaking apart as those with magic are at odds with those without it.

Still currently rereading the Throne of Glass series in preparation for its release, this is, without a doubt, one of the most anticipated books of the year – this book cannot come sooner! As soon as this book is in my hands, I am going to devour it.

#2 Stealing Snow

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige, release date 20th September. Snow has spent the majority of her life tucked away in a mental hospital but she knows she doesn’t belong there and a dream triggers her into escaping into a nearby wood. Here she finds her true home in the icy Algid and discovers she is destined to inherit a royal lineage.

This is the first volume in the Stealing Snow series and something I’m quite intrigued to purchase and read. It sounds so different from books around at the moment, but I might get it around Christmas in paperback since it has a snowy theme to it!

#3 …And A Happy New Year?

…And A Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne, release date 1st November. This is a Spinster Club special and will revisit all three girls in the trilogy as we see how their lives are after their eventful year.

I can’t wait for more feminism and the brilliant ‘Normal’ trio to be back in my life! I’ve loved each book in the trilogy and having read the last book in the series last month (What’s A Girl Gotta Do? see review here), I was gutted for the series to be over but when I turned the last page and saw THIS advertised, I was so happy to discover we’re going to get more of the Spinster trio! Holly Bourne’s writing never fails to give me hope that we are moving towards a more feminist future and I don’t know what I’d do without these little lifts throughout the year.

#4 Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer, release date 8th November. A retelling of the Queen of Hearts from when she was young. Destined to be Queen, Catherine just wants to open a bakery and decide her life for herself. She’s set to marry the King of Hearts but falls in love with Jest, a court joker, and so enters into a secret courtship as she decides her future for herself.

I love Marissa Meyer’s writing and the Lunar Chronicles were a joy to read so I’m definitely going to be buying this stand alone novel.

#5 The Fate of the Tearling

The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, release date 1st December. This book concludes the Queen of the Tearling trilogy which sees Kelsea attempt to protect her kingdom from invasion.

I am yet to read the Invasion of the Tearling but I thought the Queen of the Tearling (link to book review here) was so cleverly written and left us with many questions so I’ll be buying the second in the trilogy first before buying the third and final book.

What new releases in 2016 are you highly anticipating? Let me know in the comments!
Have a fantastic day ♥

 

 

Top Five Books of 2016 so far

I saw a post the other day on In A Bookish World about her five best books of 2016 so far so I thought I’d do a post too and put my five favourite books!

I have definitely done a lot more reading this year than last and I discovered two amazing authors: S J Maas and V E Schwab so, undoubtedly, their books will feature in my top five but I’ll just include books that were actually released this year for my top five books of 2016 so far:

#5 The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

I’ve just recently finished this and loved it! Full of magic and set in 19th century Imperial Russia, it’s a story of relationships and a fight for survival that leaves you wishing you could magic the sequel into yours straight after.

#4 What’s A Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne

The third in the Normal series, Lottie explains her fight for equality and I felt inspired after reading this amazing story of feminism, and the author’s note at the end was beautiful.

#3 This Savage Song by V E Schwab

In three is This Savage Song. Filled with monsters and set in a strange and dark city, this book was gripping to read and I couldn’t put it down! August was an adorable character and it was refreshing to have a book void of romance, and the ending left so many questions! Descriptive and breath-taking world-building, this book did not disappoint.

#2 A Gathering of Shadows by V E Schwab

In number two I had to put this stunning sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic that stepped up its game and ended on such a horrid cliffhanger! With new characters and interesting developments taking place across the four Londons, we see relationships strain and magic at its best.

#1 A Court of Mist and Fury by S J Maas

And in number one is the fantastic ACOMAF! This book had to be in first place – I devoured it in two days and reread it twice straight after because I couldn’t get enough of the Night Court or Rhys! A beautiful sequel sees Feyre discover who she can really trust as she discovers a new threat to Prythian and the Mortal Realms. Magnificent world-building and truly gorgeous characters introduced, this book took the world of Prythian to the next level.

So there you have it – my top five books of 2016 so far. Let me know what you think of these books or what your top five are!

Have a beautiful day ♥

Under Rose-Tainted Skies book review

by Louise Gornall (2016) Image result for starImage result for starImage result for starImage result for star

“I’m being forced to challenge ideas that have kept me safe for so long. There’s an entire library of information in my head, and suddenly I can’t decide if any of it is worth reading.” – Louise Gornall, Under Rose-Tainted Skies

I saw this book all over Twitter and it sounded all right so I decided to pick it up when I bought What’s A Girl Gotta Do? and I am SO GLAD I DID.

This book was a really interesting and insightful read and one I recommend to anyone and everyone! Under Rose-Tainted Skies is all about agoraphobia and mental health experienced by a seventeen year old girl named Norah. Norah lives in her house with her mother, learning and doing school work at home and currently attending therapy. It’s far to say that life isn’t great for Norah; she has OCD, anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia which means she has an extreme fear of open/public spaces and remains confined to her house most of the time.

But one day new neighbours move in next door and Norah meets a boy called Luke whom she keeps bumping into in various awkward situations as she struggles to cope with simple tasks such as fetch the shopping in from outside. Luke soon becomes a friend to Norah and the book explores their relationship as time progresses and not only do we learn how she feels about Luke, but we see what she thinks Luke thinks about her.

I’ve read books featuring mental health issues before and found them really interesting to read – I don’t suffer myself but I do have OCD-like tendencies and I can get anxiety before a big event or something important/serious, like most people I think – we all have a degree of anxiety and OCD, but some more so than others. I think more people should read books like these that explain just what it is like having a mental health illness because it gives them some sort of understanding for what it feels like and leads to a more accepting and supportive society – many people get frustrated with people who have, for example agoraphobia or depression, because they don’t understand why they can’t just do something like go outside or just stop feeling so sad if they have depression. Humans are very good at being ignorant and it’s time we stop behaving in such a way because we don’t understand, and instead learn why.

Even though the book was quite short, I found myself taking longer than usual to read through a page because I couldn’t just quickly read through it, I needed to pay attention to the character’s feelings and it became really clear that she was genuinely sick because her brain was thinking in a way that wasn’t healthy. Norah tries so hard to do simple things like walk to the car or touch someone’s hand, but it was crippling her to do so and it just made me appreciate how difficult life is for some people in different ways to what we consider ‘difficult’.

The book is really cleverly written because it focuses on the one character and only 2-3 other characters really appear in the book: Luke and her mother (as well as the odd appearance of her therapist), and the entire story takes place inside her house. You’d expect this to become boring after a bit, the character never moving from one spot, but it doesn’t because it’s how dramatic everything is to the character that keeps the story animated. A person having a party next door would be boring and not worthy of even thinking about but to Norah it’s an anxiety-filled mess and she finds herself unable to stop watching the events unfold so she can feel a little in control of it – any other book would focus on the the inside of the party and drinking etc, but what about the next door neighbour to whom has anxiety and the party affects them so badly, despite not being involved?

I don’t think this book uses romance as the ‘answer to curing mental health’ or anything because the message is clear – it’s friendship. Yes, Norah describes how her feelings for Luke develop, but they start off as friends and it’s this that is needed when trying to battle a mental illness and this what gets Norah through some difficult situations. And also Norah tells us how her friends soon abandoned her when the agoraphobia presented itself. A person cannot fight something on their own, they need the support of friends and family and the community and this just shows how vital her mother, her neighbour and her therapist are each in helping Norah take control of her life again for the better.

Also, the book was quite hard-to-read at some points as it described what she was feeling as she uses self-harm to gain some control of her spiralling thoughts and emotions. Again, this was really insightful to read because we get to understand why she’s doing it as she explains her body’s physiological reactions and her thought processes. Some people will believe that self-harm is a ‘call for attention’ but it’s ignorance – they don’t understand why that person is driven to harm themselves and so rationalise it into the most plausible explanation to them: attention when they just need some education into something they don’t understand.

This is why we need books like this. This is why we need more people to read about mental health and have it spoken about more freely and shown on television/film more often because the more we are exposed to something, the more likely we are to begin to understand it and appreciate others and their differences to ourselves.

It was just brilliant to read and describes agoraphobia clearly to someone who doesn’t know what it feels like to suffer from it, in a way that reading leaflets or articles about the condition just can’t. Mental health awareness is slowly spreading and it’s things like this – books – that will truly raise awareness further because, after all, books are the strongest weapon in the face of adversity.

And just because this gif is so appropriate:

I won’t write about any spoilers in the book, but I will say that I thoroughly recommend reading Under Rose-Tainted Skies – it’s a short book and can be read in a day but will give you lots to think about and might just help fight the stigma that is attached to mental health, one that is, thankfully, slowly being removed.

Books that make you think about the world and your actions, are ones that you know are truly amazing.

“‘Effect and outcome.’
‘Exactly. We can assume the best, but we can’t choose how people perceive us. We can however, choose how those views affect us.'” – Louise Gornall, Under Rose-Tainted Skies