Book Review: Courting Darkness

Robin LaFevers has smashed it again with this follow up to the His Fair Assassin trilogy (Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart). Courting Darkness is another stunning historical fantasy set after the events of Mortal Heart. We are re-united with Sybella, one of the assassins of St Mortain, and introduced to Genevieve, an assassin sent to France at a young age to wait to be called upon. Now, with the Duchess of Brittany married to the King of France, that time has arrived.

Star rating: 5 stars

What I love about Robin LaFevers is that her female characters can all protect themselves. Sure, they fall in love, but they also rescue their lovers, which is awesome. Sybella and Beast are still going strong as they travel to France with the Duchess so she can take her place as the Queen of France. There are new threats from the Regent, and old threats are still haunting Sybella in the form of her old family. Pierre wants his sisters back, but Sybella wants to keep Charlotte and Louise with her.

Genevieve is in Cognac, and after finding a mysterious prisoner, forms a bond with him. The pair escape and begin and adventure together. The romance between Genevieve and Mauraud is HOT. Robin LaFevers really knows how to write a good romance story, and in every book there was been a magnificent one. I really can’t wait to see what happens in Igniting Darkness with these two who are so perfect or each other.

This is a fast-paced, action-packed book with characters that I can’t help but love. It also ends on a cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the final instalment of the duology, Igniting Darkness. I read this book as part of the #ConquerAChonker challenge, and I am really glad I did because I was putting off reading all 523 pages again!

Have you read any books by Robin LaFevers? I highly recommend her books. Follow Ismae in Grave Mercy, Sybella in Dark Triumph and Annith in Mortal Heart for three great stories about three amazing women.

#ConquerAChonker – Courting Darkness

It is #ConquerAChonker weekend! This is a challenge run by Asha over @cat_book_tea on twitter (blog here). The aim is to start (and maybe finish) a huge book over 18th to 20th September (this weekend).

There’s only two rules to take part: grab any book… that’s over 400 pages long!

400+ pages is a CHONKY BOI

500+ pages is a MEGA CHONK

600+ pages is an UBERCHONK

For this challenge I’m going to read Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers. I’ve read it before when it was released, but I am doing this re-read in preparation for Igniting Darkness which I have ready to go!

This one is 523 pages long so I’ll be taking on a MEGA CHONK. We love to see it.

When Sybella accompanies the Duchess of Brittany to France, she expects trouble, but she isn’t expecting a deadly trap. Surrounded by enemies both known and unknown, Sybella searches for the undercover assassins from the convent of St. Mortain who were placed in the French court years ago.

Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she no longer knows who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. When she discovers a hidden prisoner who may be of importance, she takes matters into her own hands.

As these two worlds collide, the fate of the Duchess, Brittany, and everything Sybella and Genevieve have come to love hangs in the balance. 

I really liked this book on my first read (and the His Fair Assassin trilogy before it) so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how it ends after this book.

Will you be taking part in #ConquerAChonker? What are your favourite chonker books?

WWW Wednesday (16th 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 American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. It’s not my usual read of choice but it’s definitely captured my interested. It is a historical spy thriller with a really amazing opening. The pace slows after that but I feel like we’re getting into the meat of it about a third in.

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London. It’s a really cool body positive story about a plus size blogger who becomes the focus of a Bachelor-style reality TV show. Honestly, it’s really heartwarming amongst the typical reality TV drama, and it even made me cry in places. There’s also a great romance, and the central character Bea is honestly amazing and I just want to protect her. Check out for my review here!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Next on the list is probably Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn. I don’t know much about it except it is f/f which I’m really excited about. On the list of eARCs to read is You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafet. It sounds really cool and I’m looking forward to reading it.

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

Book Review: One To Watch

I was not expecting a book about reality TV to capture my heart quite as much as this one. One To Watch actually made me happy cry in places, it was that good. It has a plus-size protagonist (Bea has my heart), a lesbian best friend, plenty of love interests, great positive relationship with a step-parent and more. If you want a book that yes, has its drama, but also has softer emotional parts too, then this is the romance for you.

Star-rating: 5 stars

Main Squeeze is a reality show kind of like how I imagine The Bachelor to be. After Bea’s blog post about its lack of diversity goes viral, the new showrunner Lauren gets in touch, asking Bea to be the new Main Squeeze and try to find love amongst 25 men. Knowing if all goes well it’ll be a huge boost to her career, and with Bea’s determination to show that plus-size people can find love too, she accepts.

The book does really well in showing that though Lauren has her heart in the right place, she really doesn’t understand what this is like for Bea. Bea has to educate her every step of the way after Lauren makes questionable choices that put Bea on the spot throughout the show.

Now on to the 25 men. Some are jerks, as Bea expected. Some are just taking part for the fame that’ll come along with it – Bea is chill with that. And some are actually legitimate love interests for Bea, but of course one of stands out more than the others (no spoilers here).

My favourite part was when it was time for the remaining men to go with Bea to her family home and meet her parents and brothers. There is a really touching moment between Bea, her Mum and her Step-Dad that honestly made me tear up. I really appreciate positive Step-Parent relationships and this one is amongst the best.

Overall, this book is funny and touching, heartwarming and makes you laugh out loud. I’m a huge fan of Bea and her growth in this story, and the romance was super cute too. Have you read One To Watch? Let me know what you think!

Top Ten Tuesday (Book Covers)

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 Cover Freebie (choose your own topic, centered on book covers or cover art).

So, since I haven’t done a cover one before, I’ll go with covers (not of all time because that would be too hard, but maybe those I have seen recently).

1) Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson. I’ve not read this book yet but I adore the cover, especially the clever use of the earring for the title. Honestly it’s amazing and powerful and I can’t wait to read the book.

2) You Say it First by Katie Cotugno. Another book I haven’t read yet but I absolutely love the art, it is so cute.

3) A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. It was hard to pick a Becky Chambers cover (the newest one is so good). But I decided to go with a book I’ve actually read. You can read my post about Becky Chambers here.

4) These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. I wasn’t actually a huge fan of the book (I might have enjoyed it as a teenager more). But it had great characters and the cover is awesome. My friend Meaghan has a review on their blog here.

5) With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. This book is excellent and I’m definitely going to read it again sometime soon. And look at the cover! Beautiful!

6) The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. My edition of this book has gorgeous sprayed edges and the naked cover is awesome. It’s also a really great f/f story. I highly recommend it!

7. The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty. This trilogy has some of the most beautiful book covers. It’s also a wild ride from start to finish and every book is 5 stars. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you even doing?

8. Venom by Bex Hogan. A UKYA favourite, this is the middle book of Bex Hogan’s Isle of Storms and Sorrow trilogy. Really love a red / gold combination and it’s so shiny in person. The final book in this series is one of my most anticipated of 2021.

9) Honor Lost by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre. Absolutely love the colours of this one – and if you haven’t read the Honor Among Thieves series and you like space operas, you absolutely have to. Sentient space-whale spaceships? Check.

10) Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan. This one if my fairyloot edition – it was hot turquoise sprayed edges and the cover has such bright colours. A picture really doesn’t do it any justice to be honest. The characters in this series really go through it, here is to hoping for a happy ending come 2021.

That’s it, 10 of my favourite covers. There are way more than this that I love but I tried to pick a range of kinds. Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Feel free to link your Top Ten Tuesday posts below.

Spotlight: Melissa Caruso

Hi everyone! Welcome to my second author spotlight post. This time I am writing about Melissa Caruso and her wonderful fantasy books. Melissa has one finished trilogy (Swords and Fire), and another with one book out in the wild (Rooks and Ruin). Both are set in the same fantasy universe, but set 150 years apart so the characters don’t really cross over.

We will start with Swords and Fire, because that is where I first fell in love with the way Melissa writes. Book one is called The Tethered Mage (look at this gorgeous cover)

The Tethered Mage follows Amalia Cornaro, the daughter of La Contessa and therefore the heir to her position on the Council of Nine. What drew me to Amalia is her bookish nature and avoidance of all things political. She’d rather be reading than learning how to become her mother! Amalia’s life changes forever when she accidentally makes herself a Falconer of a mage-marked girl called Zaira, disrupting the balance of power in the Raverran Empire.

Zaira is taken to live in the Mews where she must train with Amalia. Zaira is such a wonderfully contrasting character to Amalia that it makes for such an amazing dynamic to read about. This is a series with great side characters in Marcello and his sister, as well as Domenic from Amalia’s time at university. The book is thrilling from start to finish and ends in a way that leads to discovering more of the universe in the next book – with an emerging adversary in the form of Prince Ruven of Vaskandar.

The Defiant Heir solidified this series’ place on my favourites list. It introduces a new romantic interest for Amalia, Kathe, who absolutely had my heart from the beginning. What is it about somewhat dangerous love interests and their ability to be so attractive? Kathe’s introduction definitely made things more interesting in the romance department (sorry Marcello).

This book in particular is full of loads of plot twists. The world-building got better and better as we are introduced to Vaskandar and how it differs from the Raverran Empire. The Witchlords make for such awesome politics in a series that already did an excellent job of it. Amalia is forced to make some terrible choices that really set up the final installment.

The Unbound Empire has my favourite cover of the lot – and might just be my favourite Melissa Caruso book. When a series stars off as good as Swords and Fire, it can be really difficult to keep up that momentum but Melissa does it beautifully. We learn more about Zaira than in the previous books (she’s a character that keeps on growing), and Amalia is still learning from her decisions in the previous book. She grows so much more mature in this final part, becoming the leader she didn’t know she could be. The love triangle between Amalia, Marcello and Kathe was actually OK (shock horror), and I honestly didn’t know who she would end up with at the end.

I am really happy to have read this series with its endearing characters, really casual diversity that doesn’t feel forced, humour that made me laugh out loud, cute moments between both romantic partners and friends, and edge of your seat kind of plot. 

Finally, we have The Obsidian Tower, the first book in the Rooks and Ruin trilogy. Set 150 years after The Unbound Empire, I was really looking forward to how Melissa was going to build on an already amazing universe.

This book has a bisexual protagonist!!! What a win. This book put Melissa Caruso on my insta-buy list for good. Ryx is the granddaughter of a Witch Lord, The Lady of Owls, but there’s one problem – she has dodgy magic that means she kills everything she touches. This was a sure way to make Ryx’s problems interesting from the start! The book might have an even more of a political focus than the previous series as we explore different Witch Lord domains that we have previously.

Although this book doesn’t have romance, there are definitely hints that it is coming our way in the next book, so I am really looking forward to that. It’s the kind of book where everything goes wrong in the best of ways and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes in the future.

That’s all from me – I really hope you check out Melissa’s books because I really loved them. If you like good world-building and an abundance of political intrigue then you can’t go wrong.

The Black Cat Blue Sea Award

Hi everyone! I was nominated for this award by Claudia at Enchanted by Books. Claudia has amazing book taste and I’m super grateful to be nominated for this award that sounds awesome.

What’s it about?

“This award is for bloggers who strive to write for everybody, and no matter how many viewers they get, make an impact on a reader. This award is an expression of gratitude to the nominee. It should be awarded to anybody that you choose deserves it, and it doesn’t mean that they must have hundreds of followers and likes.”

The Questions:

1. What TV series are you obsessed with right now?

I am currently watching Good Trouble on BBC iPlayer. It follows Callie and Marianna from The Fosters tv show on a spin off as they navigate their post-college twenties, Callie as a legal clerk and Marianna as a software engineer at a start up. The girls a disasters in the best way, I’m enjoying the series so far.

2. What author are you terrified to read, and why?

Hmm this is a tricky question! Probably Jay Kristoff because I’ve been really disappointed in the way of his series have turned out? I love the Illuminae Files but some of the others have just been awful and Aurora Rising and Darkdawn were such disappointments.

3. If you could live anywhere (fictional or real) where would you like to live and why?

Another one because there are so many places I would love to live! Maybe New Zealand because I really love hiking. I’d definitely like to visit someday. Otherwise I like warm, beautiful places…

My Questions For You

  1. What book are you really looking forward to being released in 2021?
  2. What has been your favourite 2020 book release so far?
  3. What is your favourite movie of all time?

Pretty generic questions, I’m sorry! I nominate:

  1. Sam @ Estoricelexir
  2. Meaghan @ Paragraphsandpages
  3. Janel @ Janelallison
  4. Linaria @ Linariaslibrary
  5. Jaye @ Thebookberrie
  6. Anyone else who sees this and wants to answer the questions!
  7. Anyone else who sees this and doesn’t want to answer the questions (just kidding)

ARC Review: When Life Gives You Mangoes

Middle grade isn’t normally my thing but When Life Gives You Mangoes is a heartwarming, authentic story about friendship, family, loss and grief. UK people better mark 1st October 2020 in their calendars because this special book deserves to be pre-ordered right now. Also, doesn’t it have the cutest cover? (P.S I think it releases in the U.S on September 15th…go,go,go!

Star rating: 4 stars

Clara is 12. She used to love the sea and surfing, but now she can’t even step in the water. She can’t remember last summer at all, and is acting out of character. This summer, Clara wants to have the best time with her friend Gaynah, and maybe get to know the new girl Rudy. Clara goes on such a journey in this book, having to come to terms with her trauma. What she goes through at 12 is so tough, and I love that her parents stand by her when some of the other people in the village are critical of her behaviour. I also really like Rudy’s character – she was such a fun, unique girl with great style, and I think she was such a good friend for Clara.

I loved Sycamore, the imagery Kereen Getten gave me from her writing was spectacular, with mango trees and Clara’s Uncle’s home being standouts.

The ending is super sweet and it definitely made me tear up a bit. Sometimes that happy sadness feeling is a great feeling, you know? Anyway, I’m really glad I gave this a go because it was nice to be transported back to the life of a 12 year old, and it really gave me a feel for Sycamore. Thanks Pushkin Press for the eARC.

Will you be reading When Life Gives You Mangoes? I highly recommend it for all ages as it’s a complex story with a wonderful central character that you can’t help but want to protect.

ARC Review: Poisoned

We love feminist fairy-tale re-tellings on this blog. In this stunning version of Snow White, Jennifer Donnelly treats us to a book about the strength of kindness. Sometimes the villains in stories are not what they seem – this story is the kind that brings out a reader’s empathy. Love, friendship and the power of being softhearted are all strong themes – if you’re looking for a feminist spin on a famous fairy-tale then Poisoned is the book for you.

Star rating: 5 stars

Sophie’s soft heart is not enough for her cruel step-mother Queen Adelaide. She must find a strong husband to help her rule when the time comes. Queen Adelaide is harsh and vapid, but there’s more to her story than meets the eye. In this book there is a different adversary, and Queen Adelaide has made a terrible deal.

Sophie’s the kind of girl that rescues puppies and saves wolves. When she is hunted down by the Queen’s huntsman, her heart is stolen. She is saved by 7 brothers who have a sad history of their own. From then on, she goes on a journey – both literally and figuratively. For the first time in her life, she has real friends, but will she ever love herself enough to be strong enough to win back her heart?

I loved Sophie’s personality – and this book’s spin on the 7 dwarfs. The romance was also really touching and slow burn, just how I like it. It is fast paced with plenty of action mixed in with great character development. Adelaide’s story was one all too familiar of fairy-tale villains and I really enjoyed this version of an even step-mother.

Overall, this book is worth every star in it’s 5 star rating and I can’t wait to see what Jennifer Donnelly does next.

Have you read any of Jennifer Donnelly’s books? Stepsister its a really great story too. Let me know if you’re going to get this one when it comes out in October!

WWW Wednesday (9th 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 an eARC of Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly. It’s been really good so far – it’s such an awesome feminist retelling of Snow White and I am absolutely here for it. I may even like it more than Stepsister? Who knows, we’ll see what happens. Can’t wait for this one to come out next month.

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished Tumbling by Caela Carter! It’s a book set over the two days of the USA gymnastics Olympic trials, an event I always stay up for because it’s like a mini-Olympics in itself the competition is that high! This book helped fill the Olympic sized hole in my 2020. It’s about 5 girls of varying levels of experience who are all competing to be one of the five that make the team in 2016. I loved the journey each girl went on over the course of the two days and it had a really satisfying ending (even if it was a bit unrealistic). Definitely recommend it if you care about gymnastics – might be a bit boring for you if you’re not a fan of the sport. After finishing Tiny Pretty Things which is a book full of drama, it was nice to see drama where the girls end up supporting each other despite the competition between them.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I have too much choice right now! I’m probably going to go with Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco, which I know nothing about but recently received an eARC of so I can buddy read it with my friends. I hope it’s good. After that I might read The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah which sounds like it could be a really special book.

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