Monthly Wrap-Up: September 2020

Hi everyone! Welcome to my September monthly wrap-up post. I am sure these will evolve over time, but for now I’ll include Book Coven book club, fave books you can buy now, books to look out for and books I want to read soon. September has been an average month of reading. There have been some greats and some misses. I also had a nasty cold for about a week which sucked a lot!

Book Club

Every month the mods of the Book Coven get us to suggest books that make up the book club bracket. We then vote all the way through to a final, and that’s the book we read together over the course of 3 weeks. Then the amazing Paragraphs and Pages asks us some super insightful questions and off we go.

This month we read The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant. This is an action packed story with no less than 3 love interests! Even better, the main character Nina does not care. She’s determined to get her sister back – and punish her enemies for all of their wrongs. The book is described as Les Mis x The Jungle Book, but I can’t comment on how accurate that is having never seen Les Mis. If you’re looking for a dark, action packed YA story then this will be the book for you. You can see my review here.

Next month we will be reading two books because we couldn’t decide between them! Looking forward to reading A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik and re-reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.

Favourites

On to my favourite books this month that you can pick up in stores right now. There were a few standouts this month – one of them being A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. It is set in the UK – with the central character Pip completing her final year of A-levels and along with it the EPQ (an extended project that usually forms part of a gifted and talented scheme). Pip is a really determined, bookish character that definitely knows how to stand up for what she thinks is right. This is an excellent YA thriller / murder mystery and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. You can see my review here.

I also finished Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series by reading the additional duology Courting Darkness and Igniting Darkness. I’m not sure I enjoyed them as much as the original trilogy but they were no doubt 5 star-worthy reads in my mind. This is a story about female assassins who have all had rough childhoods but get their revenge. Robin LaFevers writes such powerful protagonists – you can find my reviews here and here. I read them as part of the #ConquerAChonker challenge and I’m so glad I finished them!

To wrap up this section – another favourite was my read of an eARC of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. This is honestly such a wonderful YA book that is out in the world right now! It has magic, demons and has a lot of King Arthur mythology. It should be right at the top of your to be read because it has amazing messages and an absolutely wild ending. You can read my review here, but my friend Janel summed up how I felt about it even better over on their blog here.

Books to Look Out For

I had the pleasure of reading many amazing eARCs from NetGalley this month. I’ve already mentioned Legendborn but there have been many more.

One of the best eARCs I read was Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly. It’s released in the UK on 20th October – and it’s absolutely brilliant! Jennifer Donnelly is the queen of feminist fairy-tale retellings. First she wrote Stepsister set in the world of Cinderella, and this time it’s the world of Snow White that she explores. Here is my review, hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

Another book I enjoyed was Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco. This one releases on October 22nd, and is a super story rooted in a more traditional approach to witchcraft. It is set around a restaurant in Sicily – the food descriptions are divine and this is sure to make you hungry. I wish the romance was a bit more prominent in the story, but I am sure it will come through even more in the next book in the series!

For a short book, The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah sure does pack in a lot. This one follows two sisters, Hassana and Husseina, who are separated when their home village is raided. The two pursue separate paths in Brazil and on The Gold Coast – but will they ever be re-united? Loved how this book captured the complicated relationship between sisters, it’s a really emotional story that releases October 15th.

Next month?

October is going to be a wild month of reading for me! Book Coven has made a Disney inspired bingo full of awesome prompts – but I’m probably going to skip and do some non-prompt based reading for the time being.

You can see the books of my fall to be read on my Top Ten Tuesday post. October is my Leigh Bardugo month so catch my re-reading Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom, King of Scars and Ninth House, along with The Lives of Saints which is also releasing in October!

New purchases include The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, and Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. Can’t wait to read these either!

That’s all from me, hope you enjoyed this book and also had a great month of reading. Looking forward to seeing what everybody has been up to. Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post? What did you think?

WWW Wednesday (30th September 2020)

Hi friends, it’s time for WWW Wednesday again. So, what’s it about? This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words. Here are my answers to the three Ws!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. It’s an interesting world with a lot of amazing social commentary. I’m having a few issues connecting to the characters – but I’ve still got half of the book left for things to improve. This is definitely a unique book even with it being a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet.

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave! It’s one of the most beautiful books (in appearance) ever, and the story is also a very, very good origin story for Dracula’s wives. I really love the way it dives into complicated relationships between sisters – Lil is a great protagonist. It also has an f/f romance! You can check out my review here.

What do you think you’ll read next?

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik arrived yesterday so that’s absolutely on my next to read radar. It is my most anticipated read of 2020 and I honestly can’t wait to see what it’s all about!

What do you think of these choices? I am so excited to make more progress on my to be read.

Top Ten Tuesday (Favourite Quotes)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This is my first Top 10 Tuesday post, and this week the theme is  Favourite Book Quotes (these could be quotes from books you love, or bookish quotes in general).

I’m not one to make notes of quotes I like so this is going to be difficult. I will do my best to pick some good ones.

1) Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

“The only way to really appreciate your way is to compare it to somebody else’s way. Figure out what you love, specifically. In detail. Figure out what you want to keep. Figure out what you want to change. Otherwise, it’s not love. It’s clinging to the familiar–to the comfortable–and that’s a dangerous thing for us short-term thinkers to do. If you stay, stay because you want to, because you’ve found something here worth embodying, because you believe in it. Otherwise…well, there’s no point in being here at all, is there?”

2) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

“Because time is cruel to all, and crueler still to artists. Because visions weakens, and voices wither, and talent fades…. Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end… everyone wants to be remembered”

3) Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.”

4) Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (again)

“Life won’t just happen to you boy, he said. You have to happen to it.”

5) The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

“Be brave,’ she says. ‘Be bold. Be loud. Never change for anyone but yourself. Any soul worth their star-stuff will take the whole package as is and however it grows. Don’t waste your time on anyone who doesn’t believe you when you tell them how you feel.”

6) Fire by Kristin Cashore

“Brigan was saying her name, and he was sending her a feeling. It was courage and strength, and something else too, as if he were standing with her, as if he’d taken her within himself, letting her rest her entire body for a moment on his backbone, her mind in his mind, her heart in the fire of his.
The fire of Brigan’s heart was astounding. Fire understood, and almost could not believe, that the feeling he was sending her was love.”

6) The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (there are definitely more sophisticated quotes in this book but this one made me laugh in a very dark book)

“Sir?” Kitay asked. The magistrate turned to look at him. “What?” With a grunt, Kitay raised the crate over his head and flung it to the ground. It landed on the dirt with a hard thud, not the tremendous crash Rin had rather been hoping for. The wooden lid of the crate popped off. Out rolled several very nice porcelain teapots, glazed with a lovely flower pattern. Despite their tumble, they looked unbroken. Then Kitay took to them with a slab of wood. When he was done smashing them, he pushed his wiry curls out of his face and whirled on the sweating magistrate, who cringed in his seat as if afraid Kitay might start smashing at him, too. “We are at war,” Kitay said. “And you are being evacuated because for gods know what reason, you’ve been deemed important to this country’s survival. So do your job. Reassure your people. Help us maintain order. Do not pack your fucking teapots.”

7) Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

“Not every flower belongs in every garden.”

8) Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

“Every time I thought I’d worked out what I really enjoyed, I started to second-guess myself. Maybe I just didn’t enjoy anything anymore.”

9) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

“Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. Don’t you think? It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world’s greatest soprano. Not everyone can be the artist. There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see.”

10) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

There we go. 10 of my favourite quotes. There are many, many more but I struggle to remember them. I am really looking forward to my re-read of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue because that book absolutely spoke to my soul.

Share with me some of your favourite quotes! Really interested, I love emotional quotes.

Book Review: The Deathless Girls

This hardcover is one of the most beautiful books on my shelf. It has a beautiful dust jacket, gorgeous endpapers – the way it’s presented just makes it that much better to read. My copy also has sprayed edges which are gorgeous. The hardcover is out of stock but you can get the Waterstones exclusive paperback online.

The Deathless Girls is an origin story for Draculas wives. It’s a book with the complexities of sisterhood at the forefront, has a f/f romance and all the vampire spookiness – perfect for the upcoming spooky season. I really love the fairy-tale like prose – this is a delightful read that packs a lot into it’s 300 pages.

Star rating: 5 stars

Lil is nothing like her beautiful twin sister Kizzy, but these two girls do everything together. When their group of travellers are murdered, including their mother, Lil and Kizzy are captured to be sold as slaves. Both are forced to work in the kitchens until Kizzy’s burned hands heal, where Lil meets Mira, a former serving girl who is learning to talk again after having her wind-pipe crushed.

The book is very dark – lots of horrible stuff happens to poor Lil and Kizzy. They both handle their new situation in different ways which leads to friction in their relationship. I really liked the contrast in their characters – Kizzy is much more feisty and disobedient where as Lil just wants to survive.

There are elements of fantasy within the book – from dancing with bears to mushrooms that give you visions, there is a lot more than just vampires. I really enjoyed the creepy atmosphere in the latter half of the book – and the ending is bold and unexpected.

Overall, I love Kiran’s beautiful, poetic writing, and the themes presented in the book. The romance could have been given more time, but that’s my only criticism.

Have you read any books by Kiran Millwood Hargrave? I encourage you to pick up The Deathless Girls – or The Mercies if you’re more into adult fiction! Let me know in the comments.

Six for Sunday (Devious Main Characters)

Hi everyone! This week I’m participating in Six for Sunday for the first time, a meme hosted by Steph at A Little But a Lot. This month, the focus is on book characters, and this week’s topic is:  Devious Main Characters.

1) I just finished The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant and Nina, the protagonist, is definitely devious. She’s always throwing a spanner in the works for the reader! You can find my review of this amazing debut novel here.

2) How can I make a post about devious characters without mentioning the notorious Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows? Kaz is a master schemer which means the plot of this duology is awesome.

3) Alessandra from The Shadows Between Us is full of ambition. She’s definitely the kind of girl that will stop at nothing to get what she wants, including killing The Shadow King by making him fall in love with her. Her task will definitely take all of her devious skills if she’s going to succeed!

3) Time for a contemporary devious character. Pip from A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is honestly a good bean – but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a devious streak! Interviewing people of interest in a murder case that everyone thinks is already solved definitely takes some nerves of steel. You can read my review here.

5) Oh Nehza, you broke my heart. The Poppy War trilogy has plenty of devious characters including the protagonist Rin. But Nehza is one of a kind in terms of being a character that you can’t trust and don’t know whether you’re supposed to love them or hate them. You can read my review of the eARC of The Burning God, the final instalment in the series, here.

6) Finally, back to the contemporary genre – Evelyn Hugo from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I actually named a cactus after Evelyn – I definitely put her in the devious character category, especially as she has kept some huge secrets!

In my choices, devious doesn’t exactly equal bad. I love characters that are full of surprises with more than a few tricks up their sleeves. What do you think of my choices? Have you read any? Let me know in the comments and link your Six for Sunday posts!

Book Review: The Court of Miracles

I had the pleasure of reading an eARC of this book back in the summer, and I just finished it for the second time (couldn’t resist re-reading when I had the beautiful Waterstones special edition). Overall, I really enjoyed this book! The series has lots of potential. The world-building is creative, the hints of fantasy are clever, I loved the twist on history. The main character Nina is wonderfully morally grey, and there are a whole bunch of love interests that she is not even entertaining. Got to love it.

Star rating: 4 stars

The book is set in France over the course of a number of years. In fact, the only reason this isn’t a 5 star read for me is that the passage of time is difficult to follow in places. Nina, as a child, joins the Guild of Thieves after her sister saves her from enduring the same fate as herself. Azelma is sold by their father to the Tiger, Lord of the Guild of Flesh (basically a vile character who turns the Guild of Sisters into a guild of human trafficking, drugging all of the women so they don’t remember their lives and can’t escape – it’s a really dark book).

Nina will do anything to get her sister back – but history starts to repeat itself with her father’s ward Ettie, putting Nina and Ettie on to a new adventure, with a whole host of interesting characters. There is Montparnasse of the Guild of Assassins, St Juste of the revolutionaries, and none other than the Dauphin of France. Nina has caught the eye of all three, and the romance could go any way up to yet (but I do have a favourite!)

From the dynamic of the Court, to the plot full of twists (this book is packed with action), this is not a book to miss. I feel like people who haven’t seen Les Mis enjoy it more (it’s supposed to be a retelling I think, but I have no idea how it does in that sense!). The last fifty pages or so are absolutely wild – I think it was so wild that I blanked it out after my first read so this second read was like reading the end for the first time!

Overall this is an excellent debut – the series has a lot of potential to get even better. I honestly hope Kester Grant writes an adult novel at some point so she doesn’t have to hold back at all. This is very dark and graphic for YA.

Have you read The Court of Miracles? What are your favourite books set in France? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

I’m not one for a thriller normally but this was a fantastic book. It has a really amazing nerd-hero protagonist, a mystery that has so many layers, a cast of interesting and suspicious characters and a cute friendship. It does include a variety of triggers, some of which are spoilers so I’d definitely look at some reviews. I’m going to avoid spoilers in this review because it’s a really great mystery!

Star rating: 5 stars

My favourite thing in this book has to be Pip. She is the biggest nerd – always studying, already has a plan for a future (wow this 17 year old has her life sorted more than I do, love that). I imagine her to be the kind of girl that frowns upon studyblrs as a waste of time. For her EPQ Pip is investigating the murder of Andie Bell, a girl who went missing 5 years ago. She was allegedly murdered by Sal Singh, who then commited suicide. But Pip isn’t convinced at all. (EPQ is a weird project thing that A-level students do in the UK to make university applications stronger – I quit mine after about a month, but then proving an alleged murderer innocent is much more interesting than mathematics in sport).

Even though Pip is this giant nerd who makes awkward puns, she also stands up for people – including Sal’s younger brother Ravi. I really liked their growing friendship as they start putting the pieces of Sal’s and Andie’s lives together. I also liked that Pip had such a good friend in Cara.

The book is told in a variety of ways – normal prose, transcripts from interviews and Pip’s project log that reads like a journal. The format really makes it a fast read, keeping it interesting the whole way through. The actual ending manages to be plausible and wild at the same time.

Overall, this is a great book and I’ll definitely be reading Holly Jackson’s Good Girl, Bad Blood soon!

WWW Wednesday (23rd September 2020)

Hi friends, it’s time for WWW Wednesday again. So, what’s it about? This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived on Taking on a World of Words. Here are my answers to the three Ws!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. A lot of my friends really enjoyed this book so I’m excited to see where it goes!

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished reading Love, Simon and Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. I really loved Leah on the Offbeat – Leah is such a great snarky bisexual teenager. I really related to her perfectionism and lack of confidence – and loved that she stood up for her friends. Didn’t enjoy Love, Simon quite as much (maybe it’s just the teenage boy protagonist thing haha).

What do you think you’ll read next?

A tricky one! I think I’m going to read These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong next. I got approved for the eARC this week and everyone who has read it seems to think it’s really amazing. Hopefully it lives up to the hype – I’m super excited to review it. Romeo and Juliet in 1920s Shanghai sounds awesome!

What do you think of these choices? I am so excited to make more progress on my to be read.

Top Ten Tuesday (Books On My Fall 2020 TBR)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This is my first Top 10 Tuesday post, and this week the theme is Books On My Fall 2020 TBR (or spring if you live in the southern hemisphere).

1) A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. Honestly I am so excited for this book. How could I not be? Magic school + Naomi Novik sounds like book heaven. All my friends who read advanced copies loved it, so I am really excited!

2) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. Okay so I have already been fortunate enough to read this one (see review here). But I will be reading again for The Book Coven’s October book club – along with A Deadly Education because it was impossible to choose between the two! I also am getting two copies – Waterstones special edition and Illumicrate.

3) Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. It will have been a year since I met Leigh Bardugo with Nikki. To celebrate I am definitely going to be reading this wonderful book again. I don’t usually like horror but really enjoyed this book – and it fits right in with spooky season.

4) The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo. I am so excited for this book to come out, it looks so beautiful! I am really excited for the stories and illustrations. I love most things Leigh writes. Hopefully we will get Shadow and Bone TV series news soon as well.

5) Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I have heard excellent things about this book and I am excited to give it a try – even if it is absolutely huge (big chonker book right here!!!)

6) Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson. This sounds like an intense, hard-hitting book, but I’m really excited for it. There are hints of musical talent in the blurb which I absolutely love. It released recently and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

7) The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso. This debut epic fantasy caught my eye recently and I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s all about! I mean the series is called Chronicles of the Bitch Queen – what’s not to like?

8) Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Believe it or not, I’ve never read this book. I think Fall 2020 was to the the time for me to read it. I actually know nothing about it and I’m going to keep it that way!

9) The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Currently a bit lacking on the contemporary side for this blog. I am looking forward to reading The Vanishing Half – it’s about twin sisters which I love.

10). Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. Another author I’ve never read before but really should have done. Looking forward to finally started this series of novellas.

What are you reading this Fall? Any new releases I should absolutely pick up? Hope you find something cool in my choices.

Book Review: Igniting Darkness

A stunning conclusion to the His Fair Assassin follow on duology, Igniting Darkness is everything I hoped it would be. There is politics and intrigue, fantastic character development, beautiful romance and a fast paced plot that keeps on surprising. We are re-united with Sybella and Genevieve, both who met for the first time at the end of Courting Darkness (review here). Their adventures were far from over!

Star rating: 5 stars

Sybella and Genevieve definitely get off on the wrong foot. For one, Sybella doesn’t know where Genevieve’s loyalties lie, and secondly, Genevieve makes a huge mistake that she spends a lot of the book correcting and making up for. The relationship between the sisters is one of the most powerful in the book as they learn to trust each other and bond over their backgrounds.

There are threats all around – the regent is still causing trouble in her efforts to control the King, Beast’s father is also exerting his influence to get what he wants, Sybella’s brother still wants his sisters back and there is a troublesome uprising in Brittany that will only hurt the new Queen of France. With all this going on, there are no slow sections.

Sybella and Genevieve’s powers also become stronger which means that even in the fifth book their are still magical discoveries to make. Together, with their allies, they must protect their Queen and their loved ones from all those that wish to hurt them – a big ask in a history that does not trust women. The romance in this book is just as good, even if it does get put a little on the backburner for all the action that takes place. Beast and Mauraud are great love interests. We even get some of Mauraud’s point of view!

Overall this is an excellent conclusion – the ending made me cry, the characters have found their way into my heart. I can’t wait to see what Robin LaFevers writes next.

Have you read any books by Robin LaFevers? I highly recommend them.