Tag: ya fantasy

Sunday Summary – 4th December 2022

Good evening and welcome to this week’s Sunday Summary update post. As always, I hope you’ve had a fantastic week!

It is now officially December and Christmas is on the way! Up until yesterday, I wasn’t really feeling it. However, after a good laugh on Saturday with some friends looking around Christmas markets, then Christmas wreath making, and finally ice-skating, I am now in the mood!

Things have been no less busy on my blog. On Thursday this week, I shared my monthly wrap-up post for November. As I always do in these posts, I discussed the books I read throughout November and my thoughts on each of these. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out this post yet, you can find the link above for your convenience.

Yesterday, I shared my final TBR of 2022. It has been a crazy year and already I have surpassed my expectations and reading goals for the year. However, that doesn’t mean I’m taking my foot off the pedal. Instead, I trying to read 50 books by the end of the year. Wish me luck! If you want to see which books I’m picking up to make that goal, there’s a link above to do so.

 

Books Read

As of my last Sunday Summary update, I was just under halfway through my read of The Motivation Code.

This was a really interesting read. Not only did it give me the opportunity to learn more about myself and what motivates me, but also helped me to recognise what other people’s motivations might be. Whilst that may not seem that relevant, I think it will be helpful in terms of being more open-minded about how and why other people work differently. Not only that, but if I’m ever in a situation where I need to persuade somebody to do something, I can try to appeal to their motivations.

The Motivation Code is a relatively short read, and if you are interested in understanding psychology or even in a management position, this could be an insightful read.

Next, I moved on to the first book of my December TBR – Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan. I have decided to pick up this book as I have recently joined an online book club hosted by @ezeekat on Fable. It is also a book I have seen online and it has caught my eye previously. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to have a go at reading something a little bit different and to take part in the book club and see if this is something I’d like to do more of.

As of drafting this post, I am just under 20% through this book. It is a solid start and it has captured my attention very well. I can already tell there’s going to be a budding romance in here that may or may not affect my overall perception/enjoyment of the book depending on how well it’s written. However, I’m prepared to go into this open-minded for now and see what happens.

 

Books Discovered

Do you know what happens when I have several weeks of not adding any books to my TBR? I then have a week where I add several. And that is the story for today’s Sunday Summary.

The first book added to my TBR this week is called The Measure. I heard about this book through the Currently Reading Podcast. In essence, it is a speculative fiction that revolves around everybody over a certain age waking up to a box on their doorstep. In that box there is a piece of string; the length of which is how long you will live. I thought this was a really interesting plot line, and the description of the book on that podcast really caught my attention. So, I’d like to pick this one up for myself.

The second book added to my reading list this week was The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor. I confess that I don’t know very much about the synopsis of this book. I added it because it was written by C.J. Tudor. To date, I have read both The Chalk Man and The Taking of Annie Thorne. Both books were major hits for me and so I have high expectations for The Burning Girls.

The last book I added to my TBR is a psychological thriller called The Murder Box. When a detective receives a murder mystery game as a birthday present, it turns out to be anything but fun. The details are strikingly similar to that of a missing young person, and so sparks an investigation which has Frankie asking the question – what happens when she discovers the killer?

I really like the sound of this. Having read another psychological thriller recently, it’s at the forefront of my mind how much I enjoy the genre. So, I can’t wait to get round to this relatively short thriller.

 

Coming Up…

I have a couple of blog posts lined up for you next week that I can’t wait to share!

My first blog post of the week is a discussion post. As we are approaching the end of the year, I wanted to take a look at why there may be benefits to setting a reading goal ahead of the New Year. You will see in this post, setting a reading goal doesn’t have to be a challenge. 

Later in the week, I am going to be sharing a First Lines Friday post. As usual, I will be sharing the opening lines of a book of my choice and discussing with you why they appeal to me!

Then, I will be back as usual with another Sunday Summary update to round up the week.

I hope you can join me for those posts. In the meantime, tell me what your most recent read was.

 

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First Lines Friday – 20/05/2022

Welcome to my First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular (typically fortnightly) series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or are on my TBR… or even just to experiment with something new!

I knew I wanted to set myself another challenge for this post. Sometimes it’s nice to have the freedom of choice to be able to pick up anything at random and feature it. However, I do relish a challenge. I was in the mood to set one for myself when I drafted my last Sunday Summary post… so here we are! The challenge I set for myself in today’s post is to feature a book I plan on reading sometime this year. It’s a fun topic because it gives me a way of getting excited for the book in advance, but the best thing about it is that I get to share some of my reading plans with you!

But, before we jump right into the spoilers, shall we check out today’s intro and see if you can guess what it is?

 

A history of the Six Duchies is of necessity a history of its ruling family, the Farseers. A complete telling would reach back beyond the founding of the first Duchy, and if search names were remembered, would you tell us of Outislanders raiding from the sea, visiting as pirates a shore more temperate and gentler than the icy beaches of the Out Islands. But we do not know the names of these earliest forebears.

And of the first real king, little more than his name and some extravagant legends remain. Taker his name was, quite simply, and perhaps with that naming began the tradition that daughters and sons of his lineage would be given names that would shape their lives and beings. Folk beliefs claim that such names were sealed to the newborn babes by magic, and that these royal offspring were incapable of betraying the virtues whose names they bore. Passed through fire and plunged through salt water and offered to the winds of the air; thus were names sealed to these chosen children. So we are told. A pretty fancy, and perhaps once there was such a ritual, but history shows us that this was not always sufficient to bind the child to the virtue that named it…

 

 

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Goodreads – Assassin’s Apprentice

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals – the old art known as the Wit – gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

 

My Thoughts…

If you know your fantasy books, then you may have picked up a hint from the first sentence of today’s extract, even if you don’t recognise it in its entirety. The keyword was Farseers. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is the first book in the Farseers trilogy and I am finally going to start it this year!

I’ve sampled reading this book a couple of times – the first on my phone years ago and another time I think I started reading it on an iPad. But here’s the thing, I don’t read that way. I think I wanted to try the book out, to sample it and see what I thought. I was excited enough about it to go out of my way to try it, but it never quite made it to be my current read. It’s my own fault. I was always trying it at a time when I was reading something else, and it wasn’t really a priority.

But I’m going to make it a priority.

I love fantasy and I have great hopes for this series and this author. One of my friends with whom I have a similar reading taste is a fan of Robin Hobb and she has recommended these books to me in the past. I really liked what I’ve seen based on the first of chapter or two I’ve tried, and this year I swear I’m going to start in earnest.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a book series that makes it onto my bookshelves. My copy of Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book, is currently on kindle, and I will read it that way for the moment. If I love it as much as I think I’m going to, then I’ll end up buying a paperback copy and purchasing the rest of the series that way as well!

I can’t wait to invest time into this properly. It’s full of potential and I am looking for a new fantasy series and author to dive into! I feel like this is going to be the right time to give this a go!

 

This has been quite a long First Lines Friday post, but I hope you can tell how excited I am for this book! Have you read Assassin’s Apprentice, the rest of the trilogy or even any of the other books also written by Robin Hobb? I’d be really interested to see how you feel about the books and her writing, so please drop me a comment below and let me know what you think!

 

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First Lines Friday – 29/04/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or are on my TBR… or even just to experiment with something new!

For today’s post I have set myself another challenge. My last couple of posts have been challenge-free, and so to keep the content fresh I wanted to bring this back. I am, however, bringing back a challenge I have done before, purely because I have so much content I can cover on it that it makes sense to use it. And what is that challenge you ask? To feature a book I read before I started my blog over 5 years ago now.

Shall we check out today’s intro? Can you guess which book it’s from?

 

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.

My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course she did. This is the day of the reaping.

I prop myself up on one elbow. There’s enough light in the bedroom to see them. My little sister, Prim, curled up on her side, cocooned in my mother’s body, their cheeks pressed together. In sleep, my mother looks younger, still worn but not so beaten-down. Prim’s face is as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named. My mother was very beautiful once, too. Or so they tell me.

 


The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Goodreads – The Hunger Games

Could you survive on your own in the wild, with every one out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.


My Thoughts…

The Hunger Games is a fantastic trilogy for anyone who likes fantasy, dystopian fiction, or most importantly, a bit of both! As a huge fantasy reader, this really appealed to me as it was slightly different from the plethora of other fantasy books I was reading at the time.

The Hunger Games and the characters within offer a little bit of everything. Fantastic character development really starts with this book and blossoms throughout the trilogy. It’s the kind of book that shows you what humankind is capable of at its worst, but also can bring out the best in people as well.

I’m glad I read this trilogy. It’s a book series I really appreciate. I also really like the films made based on these books! I think it’s one of the few exceptions to the rule where the film has done the books justice.

If, like me, you have found yourself in a bit of a fantasy rut and are desperate to try and find something a little bit different in the overcrowded genre, then give this one a go! I read this at a time where I had gotten a little bit bored of fantasy because I read that much of it. The Hunger Games offers something a little bit different, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s First Lines Friday feature! Have you read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, or any of the other books in the series? I’d love to know what you thought!

 

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First Lines Friday – 15/04/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! First Lines Friday is a regular series on my blog. It’s a fun way to share books I love, those I am interested in and/or are on my TBR… or even just to experiment with something new!

For today’s post I decided once again to keep my options open and choose a book at random. I do enjoy setting myself a challenge from time to time, but unless I have inspiration, these aren’t always the easiest. When I was drafting my Sunday Summary post last week, I had absolutely no idea as to what I might want to do; that’s why I left it open.

I have since decided to feature a book that is sat on my bookshelf and waiting to be read. I enjoy going to visit these books because it gives me a reason to get excited about picking them up in future. I have been known to prioritise a book based on featuring it, so who knows, I might be reading this one soon!

Shall we check out today’s intro?

 

Just under the surface of the waves where the ocean met the land, a hand without a body reached for someone to grab it. The hand was wrapped in plastic, so time and water hadn’t eaten it, and its fingers, unmoving, were poised and ready to be held. Nell Crane picked it up out of the foam. She placed it quietly into her satchel.

Right where the black river split into the big wild blue, Nell and Ruby Underwood were collecting bits of treasure from the foam. They were farther out than they were supposed to be, out on the city’s jagged edge, the pair of them charged with rebellion.

Besides, this was where all the best stuff washed up. Right before the hungry sea gobbled the old pieces of the city into oblivion, the estuary caught them and spread them all out on the beach. Treasure among the pebbles.

Nell wouldn’t take her boots off and stood at the kissing lip of the water, keenly eyeing the drift. A lightbulb, a coil of wire: she snatched them and tucked them away. Only useful things. Maybe they’d be the very things that would spark off a great idea – she needed one, and fast. Summer would be over soon. Days like today were a distraction from the forms Nell had not yet filled out, the letters that she hadn’t answered, the end of apprenticeship project she had not yet begun. Here by the waterside she could forget, at least for a little while.

 

 

Spare and Found Parts – Sarah Maria Griffin

Goodreads – Spare and Found Parts

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

 

My Thoughts…

I found this book in my local Waterstones, and it was this very same introduction that led me to buying the book! I really liked the sound of it, and it’s quite unlike anything I have ever read before. I was looking to treat myself and picked this up on a whim, and I think it’s fair to say from what we know of the book already, that I did!

In terms of timing, a book featuring an epidemic may not be for everyone. However, I think this has a really interesting premise and it has the dystopian feel that I love. I think this is aimed at a young adult genre, as opposed to being more of an adult fantasy, but I’m still excited to read it and see what it has to offer even if I’m not strictly the target audience! I’m also really excited as the book is categorised as steampunk on Goodreads. I recently read and loved another book with a similar theme, and so I think I’ll really get on with this. 

I can’t lie, I am also a really big fan of the red sprayed edges on my paperback copy. It might seem like a small thing, but I love it!

Have you read Spare and Found Parts? If so, please let me know what you thought! Equally, if you like the sound of this book and want to add it to your reading list, I’d love to hear as well!

 

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Book Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

In today’s review, I will be sharing my thoughts on the final book of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and honestly, I just hope I can do the book justice! I fell in love with this series the moment I started it… as you could probably have guessed based on the speed I binge-read it! If you haven’t read my reviews of the first two books, you can find my reviews of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight using these links.

Now that you’re all caught up, shall we get into today’s review?

 

Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor | Goodreads

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.

 

My Thoughts…

Dreams of Gods and Monsters is an epic conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. I had such high expectations from the previous books; a lot was at stake. Disappointment in the conclusion would have been a bitter end…. but, of course, Laini Taylor pulled all her tricks out of the bag. The synopsis isn’t wrong in calling this last instalment stunning. It has made the series one of my favourites of all-time, and one I will read again and again!

YA, or young adult isn’t a genre I read a lot of. I’ve read a few in my time but compared to a lot of other bloggers my age it isn’t a go-to genre for me. I would say the vast majority of YA books I have read are Laini Taylor’s. I find that typically the stories have a ‘coming of age’ element to them, which is a trope I have read a lot from the fantasy books I read. Honestly, I think it’s a tad over-used, but Laini manages to incorporate it quite discreetly so that it feel s more like character development rather than the whole event the book/series is based around. It’s natural and effortless to read. Arguably, I would say that Dreams of Gods and Monsters has almost a collective coming-of-age element to the book as each character has their existence threatened, allegiances tested and a new reality.

The history between the angels and the monsters is conflicted. They have fought each other for their own survival for so long, and neither side is innocent. The gritty reality of their world and the shades of grey in the morality of their behaviour make the novel (and series) far more interesting than a black and white good vs. evil conflict. It’s something I have praised the series about in my earlier reviews and I will do so again. It is one of my favourite things about it, especially how this mindset and reality is tested to the limit in Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

Another aspect of the book that I love and want to champion (again) is the relationship between Karou and Akiva. I am not one for romance in books at all, but their relationship isn’t like most portrayed in YA novels. Yes, it’s a forbidden love and they are kept apart by the divides in their people (I think this is a common enough trope of romance from what I gather). What I like about it is that it isn’t sexualised. Karou and Akiva see the world differently from others; they don’t see the need for the divide and the conflict between their people. They dreamed long ago of a world in which they could live and be together – of companionship, free from the prejudice and discrimination that keeps them apart.

I could keep going on forever about this book, I really could! But, I have to stop rambling at some point. Honestly, if you didn’t get the vibe from the review, then all I can say is this. Read it! Read them all. I binged the whole series I loved it that much! Normally I like to take my time and savour a series, but I couldn’t with Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I couldn’t wait to read the next instalment. I was gutted it ended, but I’m equally satisfied and I know I’ll be picking it up again one day.

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Hi guys and welcome to today’s audiobook review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Crooked Kingdom is the second book of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology. If you haven’t read my review of Six of Crows yet, you can find a link to that here. Please note that inevitably this review may well contain spoilers for the first book. So, if you haven’t read it yet or don’t want anything to be spoiled for you, I suggest you don’t read this review until you’ve caught up with the series.

 

Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo | Goodreads

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

 

My Thoughts…

The Grishaverse is a well-established setting from Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy. I, however, haven’t read any other books by Leigh Bardugo to date, so I went into this completely brand-new. That didn’t matter one bit however as I have really gotten into the universe the novels are set in without having any difficulty understanding what was going on and the political/societal backdrop. Everything is nicely explained and recapped without delving into too much detail. It was the perfect balance between providing the backdrop and reminding me of previous events whilst not compromising the action. 

Events in Crooked Kingdom take place immediately after Six of Crows. The gang have just completed the most epic heist ever, miraculously unscathed, but now manage to find themselves in even greater danger. Kaz’s past really comes to light in this book and shapes the current events that risk everything the group has obtained so far. Kaz so far had been a bit of a mystery, and so I enjoyed seeing how his past has shaped the man he has become. Plenty of hints were given in Six of Crows, so I enjoyed the development of his backstory. 

There are plenty of plot twists in Crooked Kingdom to keep readers on their toes. When I first picked the book up I had no idea how events would pan out. The plans of the gang oft go awry – in fact, as far away as planned, but that’s exciting. Seeing how the events play out and how the characters react in stressful situations is the bread and butter of the series. It’s also what Leigh Bardugo is good at writing. It’s chaotic, high-risk, thrilling and still cohesively written and easy for the reader to follow. 

I said it before in my review of Six of Crows, but I love how unperfect the characters are. They have all done bad things, awful things; they steal, fight and will even kill, and yet still you can’t help but find yourself rooting for them. In Crooked Kingdom especially, the odds are stacked against them. For those of you that like that sort of thing, there are also a number of budding romances between various characters of the book. I read that other people quite enjoyed this aspect, and I certainly didn’t object to it. I’m just not a very romantic person… it has to be said! Still, based on my experience of this duology, I will definitely go on to read more books by Leigh Bardugo. I have fallen in love with the Grishaverse and the characters she brings to life in her novels!

Have you read or listened to either Six of Crows or Crooked Kingdom? Let me know in the comments! 

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Hi guys and welcome to today’s review of Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Crooked Kingdom is the second book of the Six of Crows duology. If you haven’t yet read my thoughts on the first book, Six of Crows, you can find a link to that here!

And now without further adieu, here are my thoughts on the second instalment of the series!

 

Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo | Goodreads

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
 

 

My Thoughts…

Crooked Kingdom is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to, to date. A charismatic cast accentuates brilliantly-written characters, who together attempted one of the most daring and epic heists of all time in Six of Crows and won. Life should be cosy in this sequel, with all their newfound riches, and yet they find themselves back in the deep end almost immediately. The result? Another exciting, action-packed fantasy novel full of betrayal, backstabbing, and the usual shenanigans we can expect from Kaz and his crew.

I listened to Six of Crows back in 2019, finishing the audiobook in September. I then moved on to Crooked Kingdom reasonably quickly. I’m not a big listener of audiobooks, however, completing crooked kingdom within six months of listening to the first audiobook is quite speedy for me. It’s not my main way of reading! I enjoyed the first book so much that I wanted to jump into this sequel and experience the action and adventure I knew I could expect, and I wasn’t disappointed!

As in the first book, I enjoyed the narrative being broken down into chapters narrated by different characters. This gives variety to the story and provides different perspectives at different times to add depth to the narrative. Each character has their own distinctive personality, quirks and traits. Some are definitely better (as individuals) than others but this is also something else I enjoyed. More often than not, fantasy novels are littered with altruistic characters. So, to come across some more devious, nefarious or just downright out for themselves is a refreshing change. Many of the characters have developed since the first instalment of this series. Some who have grown on me most include Kaz, Mattias and Nina. Each character has their flaws, but this makes them all the more relatable to us as listeners.

The dynamic between sets of characters adds intrigue to an already tense situation. They have already pulled off the impossible and yet further trouble looms; rising tensions and conflict between them threaten to jeopardise their lives.

You know me, I am a huge fan of magic systems within fantasy novels, and Crooked Kingdom did not disappoint in this respect either. Crooked Kingdom is my second read by Leigh Bardugo, and I sense that there is a whole range of novels also set in the same universe as this book. Despite not having read these, I didn’t find it made any difference to my understanding of the universe and the magic systems involved in this series. If anything, it has made me want to pick these up all the more!

I really enjoyed listening to this duology, and I have high expectations about reading other books by Leigh Bardugo. Sometimes that can be a risk if the books don’t live up to expectation, however, from my experience of the six of crows trilogy I don’t think I have any reason to doubt her writing style and the stories not working for me. This is why it is good to listen to recommendations and try new authors. These are the first two books I have read/listened to by this author and I am very grateful to have had the chance to read other reviews before taking the plunge. I hope others can find my review useful and please, if you have not read these books already, you won’t regret it!

 

 

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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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Blog Tour Book Review: Magical Intelligence – M. K. Wiseman

I’m really excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Magical Intelligence by M K Wiseman. Today kickstarts the blog tour for Magical Intelligence, which will be running up until its publication next week! As a huge fan of fantasy, magic and the concept of wizard spies, I have been looking forward to reading this book and sharing my thoughts with you about it.

Before I start these posts I always like to take the time to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

Would you like to find out a little about Magical Intelligence before we jump into my thoughts of the book?

 

Magical Intelligence – M K Wiseman

Goodreads – Magical Intelligence

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-LocPwqQiU

 

My Thoughts…

The first thing that caught my attention about the book was the plotline. I love how it revolves around magic and how scientific discovery (electricity) has a negative impact on wizardry. Those of you that read my other reviews may remember that one of my favourite things about fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson is that his magic systems have a physical element or limitation to them. I love when magic interacts with the world we know and love. It lends a sense of realism to what is going on; it has rules and that way it can’t be used to make a plothole problem disappear randomly. For this reason, I really enjoyed the concept behind this story.

Myra is an Empath. She has the ability to experience other’s emotions as well as manipulate them. I really liked this power in our protagonist. I would say I am quite an empathetic person so even though she is a teenage girl, we have common ground and that makes her relatable. As I am sure all women can tell you, handling emotions as a teenage girl is no walk in the park. It’s a confusing, ever-changing mess – just like Myra’s emotions for a good portion of the book. But again, this all adds to her being an overall relatable character.

The age and circumstance are perfect for allowing Myra to mature and really show off her development as a person and with her powers. Having grown up being misunderstood, Myra finds a sense of belonging amongst a ‘family’ she never knew existed. I’m looking forward to seeing how she grows throughout the rest of the series, as well as find out more about her past. There are a few little hints, but a lot of mystery as to how she ended up on her own. Hopefully, all will be revealed!

The Violectric Dampening also serves to build and differentiate a number of characters within M.I. Some of the wizards within the group are more prone to it than others. As Myra quite literally lands herself in the action from one of her visions, she is chucked in the deep end. We are introduced to a number of different wizards and magical abilities that, up until now, have served them in serving the Crown. Now working in an unofficial capacity to protect their magic from one threatening it, they train Myra to control her abilities as well as teach her about their own to aid them in their difficult mission.

Magical Intelligence is a fun read for fans of fantasy, magic and action-packed adventure! I really enjoyed the unique storyline, the setting and how well this whole package comes together. Thanks again to the author for the opportunity to read and review the book!

 

Author Bio

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: http://mkwisemanauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FaublesFables/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/FaublesFables

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/faublesfables/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7073540.M_K_Wiseman

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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