Tag: laini taylor

Book Review: Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s book review of Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor! After reading and enjoying her Strange the Dreamer duology, I decided I wanted to try her Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. I read the first book on holiday last October (isn’t that a far and distant memory now…) and binge-read the rest of the series shortly after!

I wouldn’t describe myself as a YA reader or fan particularly, but I will make all the exceptions for Laini Taylor. Her writing is brilliant, the stories easy to read and the characters have, in my opinion, a lot more depth than most. I find some YA to be a little trope-y and a bit shallow at times, but not with this series (or Strange) at all.

If you haven’t read my review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone yet, you can find that post here.

 

Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Days of Blood & Starlight

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

 

My Thoughts…

I wasn’t sure how Laini Taylor was going to follow up such an epic start to the series, but I should never have doubted her! In fact, Days of Blood and Starlight has one of my favourite introductions. I featured it in a First Lines Friday post back in February this year; if you haven’t read it yet and want a chuckle I think you’ll like it.

The idea of my championing a book/series with such a prevalent plotline around a character relationship may seem strange to you. It’s not the sort of thing I normally go for at all. I talked about this in my review of the first book of the series as well, and everything I said there still applies. The relationship isn’t awkward or uncomfortable to read. It has a maturity to it and consequently, there isn’t any of the sappy stuff that I can’t read without wanting to gag. The dynamic between Karou and Akiva is a longing for companionship. In a world where they are on different sides of a bitter war, they struggle against their respective people for acceptance.

Events in Days of Blood and Starlight draw the reader into a completely new plotline. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, whilst brilliant, is really only the introduction to this explosive series. Karou has only just discovered her place in her world of monsters and in one fell swoop, her life is changed forever. And it’s Akiva’s fault. Shunned and friendless, she has plenty to grieve but steps up to do her part in the war between hers and Akiva’s kind.

The truth about Karou and the world she was being protected from is a harsh reality compared to her relatively normal human life back in Prague. Luckily for us readers (and especially me as a huge fan of world-building), Days of Blood and Starlight explores a whole new alternate world and the history of Chimaera and the Angels. The narrative becomes grittier, takes sinister turns and deadly secrets must be kept in order to fight to survive. Karou herself, whilst trying to earn the trust of her peers, must do her part in a dangerous deception. What has she got to lose?

Hope, love, and her dream for a better life. Everything.

 

 

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Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Hey guys and welcome back to another review post! I’ve already reviewed one book (audiobook) this week and I’m back again in an effort to catch up with the number of reviews I need to write! Today’s review is going to be a joy to write because I absolutely loved this book! In fact, I loved the whole series! I wouldn’t describe myself as a binge reader particularly, but I read this series really quickly by my standards. I read this on holiday in October last year and I read the remaining two books in November and December respectively. I can tell you now that it’s one I will be picking up time and again.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Goodreads

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK    Amazon US     Waterstones

 

My Thoughts…

If I haven’t already made it clear from the intro, let me say this one thing first. Ahem. I LOVED THIS BOOK! I was already a huge fan of Laini Taylor’s based on her Strange the Dreamer duology. She really has a way with words, beautiful descriptions and great characters/storylines. If you are a huge fantasy fan, please, please read at least one of her books. Whilst they are marketed at a young adult audience, I didn’t overly perceive them that way. I don’t typically read YA but I’m glad I did on this occasion!

In Daughter of Smoke and Bone Laini Taylor reinvents the classic angels vs demons conflict. Where typical stories have clear cut good and evil sides, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is riddled with moral ambiguity and grey areas on both sides. It makes the conflict element of the storyline really interesting. What makes it even better is that our main character Karou is largely ignorant of what is going on within this conflict for most of the book. To us readers, she begins as a mostly normal young woman studying art in Prague. However, as Karou accidently learns that there is more to her existence than she first realises, we readers are thrown into a whole new world where enemies appear as friends, and friends as enemies. Who is Karou really, and who can she trust?

I really enjoy how well Laini Taylor gives her female characters plenty of sass! If you want an example, I shared a great opening quote from one of the later books in a First Lines Friday post. It’s just one of many brilliantly funny moments that had me laughing out loud. I’m pretty sure I had a few quizzical looks whilst reading this, not least from my sister!

As someone that isn’t a huge advocate of romances in novels, I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of the Karou/Akiva relationship alluded to in the synopsis. I was pleasantly surprised though. It is quite a significant part of the narrative, but it isn’t awkward, forced or uncomfortable to read. I’ll hold my hands up and say that I just get awkward reading romances when they’re overly sexualised. It just makes me cringe. Karou and Akiva’s spark isn’t like that at all – it’s born of longing, a half-remembered past. A re-kindling. That’s all I can say without spoiling anything, but the one thing it is not is sexual. Works for me!

I’m glad I bought Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the rest of the series later, in paperback. I will definitely be revisiting this series again – that’s how much I loved it. Now that I know what happens, I also want to read it again to see what I missed the first time.  

Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone or any other books by Laini Taylor? Let me know in the comments!

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Sunday Summary – 15th December 2019

Good evening everyone and welcome back to this week’s Sunday Summary instalment! Have you had a good week? Between going back to work, getting ready for Christmas and reading/blogging, I definitely haven’t been bored!

My first post of the week was a book review of Moroda for L. L. McNeil. I received a copy of Moroda in exchange for review. After being really conscious that I had promised to read the book in October/November, but finished it earlier this month, I managed to get a quick turnaround on reviewing it. If you are a fan of classic fantasy novels and haven’t taken a look at my review yet, I really recommend it! The book, (and the review) that is.

The next day, Wednesday, I shared yet another book review. This time, my post was for the blog tour of After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks by Nancy Jardine. This is the third instalment of the Celtic Fervour series, which is predominantly historical fiction with the odd element of romance. Thankfully the later books of the series have less romantic emphasis than the first book. If you know me or read my blog regularly you’ll know that just isn’t my cup of tea! I love the history behind the novels as I am a newbie to the history of the Roman invasion of Britain. It’s never too late to learn something new!

Friday’s featured novel in this week’s First Lines Friday post has a little of a festive theme to it. I almost featured the book a couple of weeks ago; however, I decided to save it for December as it does have Christmas ties. This is also a fabulous historical fiction novel. I’d go so far as to say that it’s my favourite Netgalley download ever!

 

Books Read

I have some fantastic news to share with you all – this week… last night in fact, I completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2019! I’ve read 70 books. Somehow, I’ve managed to beat my all-time record and with two-and-a-half weeks to spare! I’m amazed, but I’m also not done yet! If I finish this month’s TBR then my new record to beat will be 74 books. Do you think I can do it?

I also really like that the book that completed the challenge was the conclusion to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I don’t normally devour books like this, but it was worth it! Her writing is so funny, engaging, entertaining. I just love it! I’ve been reading this all week, pretty much, between everything else going on. Sometimes I put myself down a little if I have spent all week on a book (bear in mind my average is 1 book every 5 days). I shouldn’t though. I think I had read about 100 pages when I wrote last week’s Sunday Summary, so that means I’ve still read 500 pages this week alone!

This week I started a new audiobook – Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris. I listened to The Tattooist of Auschwitz last year. It was fantastically written, yet hauntingly devastating to hear what horrors people had to live through. The reminder at the end that it was a work of fiction but based on a real experience had me in tears. Cilka’s Journey is the same, but focuses on the treatment of women in Auschwitz/Birkenau and also in Soviet Russia after being convicted of assisting the Nazi’s later on. I have listened to nearly three hours of the audiobook already… which is a little more than average.

 

Books Discovered

I have been too busy to be looking for books, however, I have managed to acquire a couple this week. Lauren, the author of Moroda really liked my review published this week and has asked if I will read and review the next two books in the series, Palom and Amarah. I enjoyed the book, the fantasy world and the characters. Naturally, I said yes!

 

Coming Up…

It has been a little while since I drafted a Top Ten Tuesday post, so that’s my first post for next week coming up! For this post, I actually want to pick a topic that The Artsy Reader girl posted a few weeks ago – Top Ten Changes in my Bookish Life!

I have a few book reviews to catch up on and since I am finished with blog tours for the year, it makes sense to get some of those outstanding reviews done! On Thursday I am reviewing Scythe by Neal Shusterman, as I finished listening to the audiobook in April this year. Yep, it’s a late review guys. Sorry! Having just listened to its sequel though, I’m in the right headspace to review this.

On Friday I’ll be taking another look at the TBR pile and telling you about the next book on the list; what it is, what interests me about it and why, overall, I want to read it. I hope you can check-in for this post!

So, that’s all from me in this week’s Sunday Summary update! What have you been reading? Have you set a reading challenge or have you completed it? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 8th December 2019

Sunday evenings come around too fast! It always feels like I barely finish one Sunday Summary and then here I am sat starting another. I hope you have had a good week? Mine has been great as I have been enjoying the last of my time off for the year and getting Christmas shopping finished. I have even gotten most of it wrapped. Look at me being organised! I think this time last year I had barely started…

In between drafting Sunday Summary posts, I have managed to squeeze a few others in. Last week, immediately after drafting last week’s update I had to jump into writing a review for Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie. I published that post first thing on Monday.

December’s reading list was published on Wednesday 4th, although it had been decided well in advance of that date. I have a lot of tours coming up in January, so I have to start my reading now to get myself prepared. I do have a couple of books of my own choice in there too. In that post, I also talk about why there aren’t many festive books on the list, so if you haven’t checked out that post yet here is the link to it.

Lastly, on Friday I shared the next Shelf Control post in my regular feature. Not only did I talk about a book that I was gifted nearly three years ago now, but I also learned it was part of a series. I had no idea before writing that post! It’s a classic science-fiction novel and I seem to be getting on with those really well at the moment. I should probably pick it up soon!

 

Books Read

Whilst I say in one breath that I am doing well with science-fiction novels of late, I have had to set one aside for now. I have been enjoying reading Howling Dark but I just don’t think I have time to pick it up again this month. That said… if I do manage to finish this list early then I’ll pick this up again. I have a couple of short(er) books on the TBR, so maybe?

Instead, I began the week by finishing off another carryover from last month, Moroda by L. L. McNeil. I basically started reading this on the last day of November as I had promised the author to read it in October/November time. I am really pleased with myself as I read this quite quickly. Fingers crossed I’ll be reviewing it very shortly for her too.

After Moroda, I picked up my first read of December. I was keen to leave behind a bad month of reading (or lack of progress) and start this month’s TBR in earnest. Again, After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks was only in my hands for a few of days before I finished it. I was excited to start the month reading this as I have already read and enjoyed the first couple of books in the series. It’s almost a reassurance that I’m starting in a good place.

The latter end of the week has been spent with my head buried in the concluding novel to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor. This is my current read and I am LOVING IT! It’s a shame I have to go back to work tomorrow instead of sitting at home and reading this…

Tell you what else I did get done this week – I finished listening to Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. I typically listen to audiobooks in the car and I expected to finish it in the couple of journeys I made. I think I listened to the last three minutes or so at home, so I really wasn’t wrong! It also surprises me how long it took me to listen to – about seven weeks! I’m so slow with audiobooks.

 

Books Discovered

It amazes me that I have spent a week off work, shopping and generally mooching around and yet I have not added a single book to the TBR this week. I have been good (spending my money on everyone else!)

 

Coming Up…

As I am pretty late to getting to read Moroda, I’m keen to get my review live as soon as possible! So, with that in mind, my intention is to have my thoughts on this fantasy novel published on my blog first thing on Tuesday.

I have been reading After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks this week as I have a blog tour post scheduled for Wednesday 11th. In that post I’ll be linking to my reviews of the earlier books in the series The Beltane Choice and After Whorl: Bran Reborn, as well as share my views of the latest instalment. I hope you can tune in for that!

As always, I’ll be preparing a First Lines Friday post for you to round up the working week. I don’t like to choose my featured book of the week too early in advance. I’ll be picking it on Thursday when I sit down to write this post. No spoilers for you to ruin the surprise, I’m afraid!

 

 

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Reading List: December 2019

Good afternoon readers! It’s the last month of 2019, so this is my last Reading List of the year… Wow. Where did that go?

I am really impressed with the number of books I have read this year! My all-time record of 60 books has already been beaten, set when the reading and blogging adventures began in 2017. I initially set myself a reading target of 50 books because that was how many I read in 2018. Now, I am aiming for 70. I only have 3 books left to hit that target!

By the time I include the rest of December’s TBR and my audiobook, I think I’ll have read 74 books. A part of me considered trying to push to 75, but I think that’s too ambitious. I’m happy where I am anyway, so no point pushing myself too hard.

Which books are closing out the reading journey this year?

 

After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – After Whorl Donning Double Cloaks

AD 73 Northern Roman Britain

Brennus of Garrigill—Bran—monitors Roman activity across Brigantia. Stability prevails till AD 78 when Agricola, Governor of Britannia, orders complete conquest of all barbarians. Brennus heads north, seeking the Caledon who will lead the northern tribes against Rome.

Ineda treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius – supplies officer for Agricola’s Britannia campaigns. At Pinnata Castra, she escapes and seeks fellow Brigantes congregating for battle in the north.

The Legions of the Roman Empire and the Caledon allies clash at Beinn na Ciche in AD 84, but where are Brennus and Ineda?

The adventures of the Garrigill Clan continue…

 

I am reading Nancy Jardine’s Celtic Fervour series and reviewing the books as part of the organised blog tours. I picked up these books as they have given me the chance to read historical fiction in a completely new time period. I’m really enjoying reading about the Roman conquest of Britain – so much so, I have started learning a little Latin!

I am already 40% of the way through this book and as I have no plans for the rest of the day, I’m hoping to finish this one soon!

 

Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

 

I have to finish this before the end of the year! I was completely and utterly captivated by Daughter of Smoke and Bone on holiday in October. So much so, I read Days of Blood and Starlight last month. It’s rare that I devour a series as quickly as this, but what can I say? I’ve come to love Laini Taylor’s books that much that it has to be done!

 

Sixty Minutes – Tony Salter

Goodreads – Sixty Minutes

Five different people. Five separate lives. Sixty minutes to bind them for ever.

Hassan, Jim, Shuna, Dan and Nadia come from very different worlds. If life were straightforward, their paths would never cross. But our lives are rarely that simple and, as the clock ticks away the minutes of a single hour on a July morning, fate draws all five together in a headlong rush towards disaster.

Who are the heroes and who are the villains? Tony Salter’s latest novel leaves us guessing right up to the last page.

 

When I received the email inviting me to the blog tour of Sixty Minutes, I was immediately drawn in by the synopsis. It is very vague on the circumstances but has a lot of intrigue: who are these people and what has drawn them together?

There’s only one way to find out what happens…

 

Million Eyes – C. R. Berry

Goodreads – Million Eyes

What if we’re living in an alternate timeline? What if the car crash that killed Princess Diana, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, and the shooting of King William II weren’t supposed to happen? Ex-history teacher Gregory Ferro finds evidence that a cabal of time travellers is responsible for several key events in our history. These events all seem to hinge on a dry textbook published in 1995, referenced in a history book written in 1977 and mentioned in a letter to King Edward III in 1348. Ferro teams up with down-on-her-luck graduate Jennifer Larson to get to the truth and discover the relevance of a book that seems to defy the arrow of time. But the time travellers are watching closely. Soon the duo are targeted by assassins willing to rewrite history to bury them. Million Eyes is a fast-paced conspiracy thriller about power, corruption and destiny.

 

Million Eyes sticks with the science-fiction vibe I have been feeling lately. I’m also looking forward to the thriller element of the novel and finding out why the time-travelling assassins are set on re-writing history. Could the alternative be worse?

I am taking part in the upcoming blog tour for this novel next year – yes, next year, but that’s not that far away!

 

Fires of the Dead – Jed Herne

Goodreads – Fires of the Dead

Fire can’t be tamed.

Wisp is a pyromancer: a magician who draws energy from fires to make his own flames. He’s also a criminal, one job away from retirement. And it can’t come bloody soon enough.

Leading his misfit crew, Wisp ventures into a charred and barren forest to find a relic that could change the realm forever. But they aren’t the only ones on the hunt, and the forest isn’t as barren as it seems …

A jaded gang leader longing for retirement

A bloodthirsty magician with a lust for power

A brutish fighter who’s smarter than he looks

A young thief desperate to prove herself

A cowardly navigator with secrets that won’t stay buried

Together, they must survive fights, fires, and folk tales that prove disturbingly real – if they don’t kill each other first.

 

I saw this novella on a website called BookSirens, which is a lot like Netgalley if you haven’t come across it before. The concept of a non-altruistic main character in a fantasy genre novel is one I love already and I have read a good few books like it already. With this being a novella, this should be really quick to pick up and review before the deadline next year!

 

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Goodreads – A Christmas Carol

‘If I had my way, every idiot who goes around with Merry Christmas on his lips, would be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. Merry Christmas? Bah humbug!’

Introduction and Afterword by Joe Wheeler
To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late.

Part of the Focus on the Family Great Stories collection, this edition features an in-depth introduction and discussion questions by Joe Wheeler to provide greater understanding for today’s reader. “A Christmas Carol” captures the heart of the holidays like no other novel.

 

I made a real effort to seasonally read in October, but it’s not so straightforward in December. Sure, there are plenty of books to choose from, but they are all women’s fiction. It’s the same with Christmas movies – city girl comes home to country routes for Christmas, reunites with old flame, falls in love, is “torn” between going back to old life but you just KNOW that it’s going to end happily ever after *sigh*

Will someone please pass me a puke bucket?

As with Christmas films, there are only a select few Christmas themed books that really appeal to me. This month, in addition to watching Miracle on 34th Street (the edition with Richard Attenborough), I will be reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. As a classic, I can’t really turn my nose up at this one. At least, I hope not or you will be calling me Scrooge.

For the record, I love Christmas… just not all the cheesiness that goes with it. Sorry, not sorry.

That’s my reading list for December! What are you reading this month? Did you set any reading goals and are you likely to achieve them?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 17th November 2019

Hi guys and welcome to a very busy Sunday Summary post here at the home of Reviewsfeed. I had a busy day yesterday with housework and then going out for the evening! In a shake-up of usual Saturday evening activities, (aka reading) I attended The House of Hell event hosted by Nightmare Nights. I went with my mum and dad and we all enjoyed going, despite being underwhelmed by the ‘scariness’. Today, I have spent the day with them again and now come home for a not-very-relaxing evening. Around drafting tonight’s Sunday Summary post, I am baking for a charity cake sale at work tomorrow! Everything is cooling at the moment, so I get some brief respite before I have to decorate.

Aside from the above shenanigans, what have I spent my week doing? Quite simply, work, blogging and reading. The usual! The only thing out of the ordinary has been investing time into restoring the older posts I lost in the recent migration… accident.

The first post of the week was an overdue review of The Chalk Man by C J Tudor. I read this book back in July, so it was definitely time to commit my thoughts to a review. I had to pull the book out and refresh my memory on a couple of things. This is why making notes after I read something would come in handy, but can I do it? No.

I published a second review of Wednesday; Making Magic is a short story written by Allan Walsh. At 32 pages it was a really quick but enjoyable read about the magic of writing and storytelling.

Friday saw the return of my First Lines Friday regular feature and this week I featured Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Let’s just say the book choice was inspired by a current read at the time…

 

Books Read

In last week’s Sunday Summary post I mentioned that I was indecisively flitting between a couple of books as my next read – Howling Dark and Days of Blood and Starlight. In the end, Days of Blood and Starlight did win and it didn’t take me all that long to read. I couldn’t wait to pick up the next book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and I got back into it very quickly!

Conscious that it was the middle of the month and I had only read two books on the TBR, I picked up the shortest book on my list, Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie. At around 200 pages, my aim was to blitz this within a couple of days and I did! It makes me feel better going into the second half of the month knowing I am on track. I have read this book as I am reviewing it for the upcoming blog tour starting at the end of the month. It’s a children’s book so I am not its target audience, but I really enjoyed it and I’m not ashamed either! I love the main theme and the topics that this book addresses.

It might sound daft, but in addition to my newfound love of the series, the reason I picked DOB&S over Howling Dark is that the proof copy I have is really heavy! It’s quite a bit larger and getting started has been a little cumbersome. I have started this book in earnest in the last day or two and this will be my current read for the next few days!

I have also been listening to Thunderhead again. There is still six hours to go to reach the conclusion, so I’m going to be listening for a little while yet. The storyline of this one is interesting though and it has really picked up the pace in the last couple of hours!

 

Books Discovered

I have added one book to the list this week after stumbling across a book set where I live… entirely by chance! I was just browsing a few blog posts the other day and read an unsuspecting First Lines Friday post. When I realised that the featured book is set on the Isle of Man I added it to the list! I’ve linked the post below if you want to have a read.

 

Coming Up…

I want to make sure that I keep up with my reading next week. I may be on track but I still have three books to finish; all are over 400 pages long. Combine that with my ongoing project to restore my blog to its former glory, I have decided that this week I am keeping it to three posts.

On Tuesday I am going to take part in the Autumn Book Tag. I saw this over on one of my favourite blogs (again, this is linked below) and I want to take part. It’s a little bit different from the usual material I post here!

On Friday I’ll be tackling the TBR again (one book at a time) by sharing the next Shelf Control post. I’ll be taking a look at the next book on the list and telling you all why I want to read it. These posts have actually given me a kick to start reading some of these golden oldies. I enjoy writing them too. Do you like reading them?

 

Top Blog Posts Read This Week

The Tattooed Book Geek – A Little Hatred book review

Booksnest – How to Increase Productivity by Waking Up Earlier

Eclectic Review – First Lines Friday

Bibliophagist Reviews – Autumn Book Tag

That’s all from me for now guys! I have to get on with my cake decorating so I can get to bed at a decent hour! I might not get much in the way of reading done tonight, but it’s all for a good cause!

What are you reading?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 10th November 2019

Hey all and Happy Sunday! It’s Sunday evening here again and the prospect of going back to work tomorrow looms. After a busy eventful stressful week, going to work will seem like a rest!

The beginning of the week didn’t get off to a great start. After switching my domain renewal onto a new contract I realised all-too-late that the latest backup of my blog was only available on my blog’s back-end dashboard – access to which naturally went up in a puff of smoke the minute I confirmed the new contract.

Then, I made a mountain out of a molehill in trying to get my blog back online. It took days for me to get it right. In my defence, I was trying my best to use what I had to rescue the recent posts on my blog, but no. It wasn’t enough. Eventually, I admitted defeat and installed everything with an old backup – from June. One of my bigger jobs this weekend has been to re-instate what’s missing. The indexing of my blog pages so I can view cached versions and my drafts of posts not available that way stored locally has been my lifesaver!

The lesson here is to make doubly, triply and quadruple-y sure you have a backup before you do ANYTHING to your blog. You don’t realise how much it means to you until it’s gone. Next time I want to renew my domain, someone do my a favour and kick me.

Consequently, last week’s Sunday Summary post was shared on Wednesday and my reading list for November on Thursday. They were later than I wanted, but at least I am getting everything back in order! Friday’s Shelf Control post went live as and when expected.

 

Books Read

When I wasn’t having a crisis (meltdown) over my blog situation, I was trying to catch up with my reading! Reading Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky has taken me far longer than I anticipated. I only finished it yesterday; nine days behind schedule! I was a fantastic book, but an epic. As I was reading an imperfect proof copy too, a good few sections were a little difficult to read because wordsweremushedtogetherlikethis. Which is fine, it’s a proof. But I think that contributed to how long it took me to read.

As well as reading Imaginary Friend, I have been sampling a couple of other books to read in between. I’ve been very indecisive about it too, so consequently I am 55 pages through Howling Dark and about 80 pages through Days of Blood and Starlight. I think the latter wins as my next read; I am conscious I need to get a shift on and a quick reading win will spur me on. It sounds like I have read more of Days of Blood and Starlight, but in terms of word count I haven’t. There is a lot more to Howling Dark per page.

I have managed a quick read today, in between restoring almost all of my Blogtober posts. I was approached by Allan Walsh to read and review his short story, Making Magic. Unfortunately, I was supposed to be reviewing this on the 4th November but with my domain being out of action and the clean-up process, I didn’t get the chance! I have read this today and a review will be going live for it next week, come hell or high water!

I have managed to listen to another couple of hour’s worth of Thunderhead this week as well. As ever, it’s my companion on the drive home from work. I like where it is going after Scythe. It’s not a repetition of the first book and it feels fresh. I’m interested to say where events are going to go.

 

Books Discovered

It’s been a week of spending my Audible credits! … Okay, I only had two, but I managed to get a couple of audiobooks in the 2 for 1 sale yesterday and then I spent my last credit today. A bargain is a bargain! So, in yesterday’s sale, I bought Head On by John Scalzi. Whilst not a direct follow-up to Lock In, it includes the same characters and centres around the lives of those with Haden’s Syndrome. I really enjoyed listening to Lock In earlier this year, so it makes sense to listen to Head On too. At the same time I also got a copy of Jack the Ripper: Case Closed by Gyles Brandreth. I have quite a few books based on the murders of Jack the Ripper (that I really need to start reading!). I don’t doubt I’ll enjoy this too. Does that make me weird?!

Today, inspired by my current listen of Thunderhead, I used my last credit to buy the last book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, The Toll.

 

Coming Up…

Thankfully this section is going to be a lot easier to write than last week. I know where I am at. I’m conscious that with Blogtober, I posted a lot of discussions posts. To that end, I am going to be sharing a couple of reviews with you in order to catch up!

Tomorrow, I am going to be sharing my thoughts on The Chalk Man with you. I read this back in July in a matter of three days. That’s how much I loved it! That probably gives you an idea of the kind of review it is going to be, but I hope you can check it out!

On Wednesday I am reviewing Allan Walsh’s short story, Making Magic. Thankfully he is very understanding about the postponement and has agreed to a review this week instead.

Friday’s post is the turn of my regular feature, First Lines Friday. I haven’t decided which book I am going to be featuring yet. This is about as spontaneous as I get! It’s as much a surprise to me at the moment, but I hope you like the book I choose to feature!

As I am working on the current posts on my blog, I am also going to keep working to restore my missing posts. You shouldn’t really notice this unless you scroll for it. I’m working backwards and restoring the more recent posts first. I’ll let you know when everything is back as it should be.

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

Holly Loves Books – Triwizardathon TBR

Misty’s Book Space – My Week In Books

Bibliophagist Reviews – Book Review Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

 

So, that’s all from me in today’s Sunday Summary post! What have you been reading this week?

 

 

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Sunday Summary – 27th October 2019

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s Sunday Summary post! I have been away from my keyboard for over a week, which has been both nice and very strange. Hopefully, you didn’t notice my absence though, as I scheduled plenty of blog posts to tide you over until my return! Today’s post is going to be a fairly quick one, as I have two week’s worth of content to cover and all the mundane jobs of returning from holiday to deal with too.

Since my last Sunday Summary post, I have published a number of posts as part of Blogtober. I can’t possibly discuss them all individually, but if you want to catch up on any of these posts if you missed them they are listed below: –

 

Books Read

Since my last Sunday Summary post, I spent the week leading up to my holiday making progress with After Whorl: Bran Reborn by Nancy Jardine and Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson. Most of the week was spent on the latter book in preparation for the blog tour I took part in last Sunday. The majority of my reading has been done this week whilst on holiday. Before going away, I also made the briefest starts on listening to Thunderhead by Neil Shusterman.

My first completed book of the holiday was After Whorl: Bran Reborn, as I read the last third of the book in the first couple of days of the trip. From there, I moved on to Circe by Madeline Miller, which took me around three days to read, on and off, whilst enduring some bad weather. Later in the week, the sun came out and I managed to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor in less than two days. Finally, in the last couple of days of the trip, I started reading Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. As of writing this post, I am 22% through the book and hoping to make further headway with it next week.

 

Books Discovered

I have added a few books to the TBR in the two weeks since my last post. The first of these books is Violet, which I added having read a review of the book. I have also added another book to the TBR following a review by the same blogger, which is Defender by G X Todd. The review I read was for the recent third book in the series, whereas I have added the first book to the TBR.

I have also added The Flood to my TBR, I think from reading a review or seeing it on Goodreads. However, I have done my usual and not made a note of where I have seen it so I’m not 100% sure.

 

Coming Up…

I had all my posts scheduled up until my return from holiday, so I am going to be playing catch up this week to finish off Blogtober and complete the challenge! The vast majority of the posts to the end of the month are book reviews for blog tours I have signed up to… so no pressure!

Tomorrow’s post is called Halloween Horrors – I’ll be sharing some spooky reads I have enjoyed if you are looking for inspiration ahead of Halloween this week. On Tuesday I start my four-day blitz of blog tour reviews, the first being for Hallowed Ground by Paul Twivy. Wednesday’s review will be for To Snare a Witch by Jay Raven and Thursday’s post for The Haunting of Paradise House by Killian Wolf.

By then I am done with Blogtober, however, I have an additional blog tour spot on Friday 1st for After Whorl: Bran Reborn. Then, I’m taking a much-deserved break until my usual round-up of the week next Sunday!

 

What have you been reading recently? Please feel free to drop a comment below!

 

 

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Reading List – October 2019

Hello spooky friends! It’s time to share this month’s reading list – and it’s a bumper one! I am going on holiday with my lovely sister a little later this month and I’m crossing my fingers for lovely sunshine and some R&R – reading and relaxation time!

A combination of blog tours and a few reads of my own choice to check off the list make for a busy month. In order to keep up with this list, I am looking at having to read an average of 59 pages a day. Combine this with taking part in Blogtober, and you’ll see that I don’t like to make my life easy!

It’s a good job I like a challenge right? Are you ready to check out the books on this month’s TBR?

 

Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles – Paul Twivy

Goodreads – Hallowed Ground

This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world – Namibia – with its foggy Skeleton Coast, buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.

Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space.  They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.

Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will be discovered beneath the hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?

 

My blog tour post isn’t until the end of the month, but I am prioritising reading these books first.

The synopsis is both unusual and intriguing for this book; it’s what drew my attention to it. The blog tour has been extended too, so it has grabbed a lot of bloggers attention. The book also has some sci-fi elements to it, so I can’t wait to see how this ties into the book!

 

To Snare a Witch: Book 1 – Bell, Book and Candle – Jay Raven

Goodreads – To Snare a Witch

A chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge.

No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.

But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe. What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust at any cost and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.

And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…

 

I am reading this novella for a blog tour as well, one day after Hallowed Ground. The end of the month is packed with reviews – four in four days!

At 85 pages, this one is comparatively short so I can probably read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed reading Game of Crones, also by Jay Raven earlier this year. The writing style of Game of Crones suited me really well and I devoured it quickly. I trust I will be able to read To Snare a Witch in good time too.

 

The Haunting of Paradise House – Killian Wolf

Goodreads – The Haunting at Paradise House

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House.

Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves.

Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

 

I have the pleasure of reviewing this mystical, arcane novel on none other than Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa here). It feels very appropriate to be reading books with spooky and sinister goings-on this month. How could I refuse this blog tour spot?

 

After Whorl: Bran Reborn – Nancy Jardine

Goodreads – After Whorl: Bran Reborn

RAVAGED BY WAR …AD 71. After the battle at Whorl, Brennus of Garrigill is irrevocably changed. Returning to Marske, Ineda finds her grandmother dead, though Brennus is not. Snared by a Roman patrol, they are marched to Witton where he is forced to labour for the Roman IX Legion. Embracing his new identity as Bran, Brennus vows to avert Roman occupation of northernmost Brigantia. Ineda becomes his doughty spying accomplice, though sometimes she’s too impetuous. Trading with the Romans lends excellent opportunities for information gathering. Over time, Bran’s feelings for Ineda mar with his loyalty to Ineda’s father. When she disappears, and cannot be found, Bran enters direct service with Venutius, King of the Brigantes.

 

If I want a rest after Blogtober then I have to go a few days longer before I can get it! After Whorl Bran Reborn is my last blog tour read of the month, with a tour date of 1st November. I recently read the first book in the series, The Beltane Choice. I enjoyed reading about a completely new period in British history. This book picks up after the events of the first book and I cannot wait to see how the story progresses.

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

I first took an interest in Greek Mythology earlier this year, reading Mythos by Stephen Fry. There are a lot of good reviews of Circe, and it won a Goodreads Choice award last year. I bought a physical copy of the book earlier this year and I am taking this on holiday with me. Given the choice, I like a mix of e-books and physical ones – it’s not so large that it’ll compromise my luggage space.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 

I bought my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone at the same time as Circe. Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology was absolutely fantastic! I wouldn’t describe myself as a champion of YA literature; I don’t read all that much of it, but I adored these! Based on my love of those, it was a no-brainer decision to try her other books. This also isn’t too large, so it’s coming away with me!

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

 

I won a Netgalley download of Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. Given the nature of the book, it’s appropriate to wrap up with this book for Hop Tu Naa. Doesn’t it sound really creepy?! It reminds me a little of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary with the whole small town and sinister forest vibe. I loved that book. I wonder how it will compare.

So, seven books… I think that’s got to be one of the longest reading lists I have set for myself. Have you read any of these books? What spooky reads are you reading this autumn?

 

 

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Book Review: Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

It took me about a year after purchasing the book to read Strange the Dreamer, the first book of Laini Taylor’s duology. I didn’t make the same mistake when it came to Muse of Nightmares! After devouring Strange the Dreamer (not only reading it alongside an existing TBR that it wasn’t on, but also reading it all in pretty much one weekend solid) I couldn’t wait for Muse of Nightmares. As soon as I could pre-order a copy, I did. The fact that I got my hands on a limited edition copy with sprayed edges is a bonus!

I pre-ordered Muse and an agonising wait for publication date began. I waited. And I waited.

And then FINALLY… publication day arrived! I didn’t receive my email from my local store to tell me it was available for collection until just before 5pm, so as soon as work was done I bombed it there! No word of a lie. I got about as close to running as I ever will do! That, my friends, says it all.

 

Goodreads – Muse of Nightmares

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Muse of Nightmares pretty much as soon as I got it home – that is how excited I was for it! I took my time reading this second book a little more than I did the first. I simultaneously as wanted to devour and savour the experience. 

Strange the Dreamer introduces an already complex, beautiful fantasy world. I pretty much expected Muse of Nightmares to build upon the existing world already established… But to suggest that is the case would be an absolute lie and I would be doing the book no justice. Laini Taylor has developed the tale far beyond the realms of imagination (at least mine anyway, and I would say mine is pretty vivid). The plot far exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed unravelling the truth of the past and what really happened all those years ago to the city with no known name. 

Where Strange the Dreamer focuses on the attraction of Lazio and Sarai, Muse of Nightmares takes a different tack. Instead, Sarai takes centre stage, and through her kinship to her fellow gods we pull apart the myth and uncover the darkest secrets of their existence. The relationships between characters is phenomenal, as can only be expected from Laini Taylor. I’m not a huge fan of mushy romance in books, but O wasn’t pushed away from these books for it. I like the relationship that blooms between Lazlo and Sarai as it stems from a need to belong; a need for companionship. In addition to the characters we are already acquainted with, we are introduced to two sisters… Kora and Nova. Inseparable since children, they dreamed of awakening godly powers and being taken away from their dreary life. When their fates drive them apart, they will stop at nothing to be reunited. The bonds between the characters are strong, complex and built to last. 

If there is one lesson that this book can give, I would say that it goes to show the influence of corruption. It’s easy to label good and bad, but in fact there are so many shades inbetween that we all find ourselves within the spectrum. Discrimination is easy when you can villainize the other party. Yet, the children are not their parents. They have been born into a world ( one of many) that victimises them for crimes they haven’t committed. For that, you can’t help but route for them in making their own way.