ARC REVIEW | The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Name: The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genres: Adult, Epic Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Uncorrected Proof
Source: Bloomsbury
Rating: ★★★★★
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A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

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REVIEW | The Wicked King (Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

Name: The Wicked King (Folk of the Air #2)
Author: Holly Black
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: Hardback
Source: Waterstones Pre-Order
Rating: ★★★★★
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You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her, even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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REVIEW | Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas

544a08fc9e3df47a31140187a053a98dName: Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Source: Amazon
Rating: ★★★★★
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Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

KEY WORDS: Adventure, Healing, Magic, Monsters, Mature Content.

I was not expecting to give this book five stars. Even right up until the final quarter I was thinking, “It’s been great but it’s still a solid four star because I can’t deal without Celaena.” AND THEN. It all fell into place. All of the weaving of emotions and stories and feelings Maas had done throughout the novel fell into place and I realised that there was no was I could take a whole star off this fantastic book just because my favourite fictional character of all time was omitted (for good reason as well).

I do not care about Chaol. That was my feeling going into this book. I have friends who don’t think they’re going to bother reading it because it seems unnecessary. I don’t hate him, I just honestly, do not care. That has all changed. In the same way that before Queen of Shadows, I could never see Aelin/Rowan being a thing, my mind was changed. Maas has this incredible skill within her writing of making you care, making you beleive in what she wants you to. In Heir of Fire, Celaena and Rowan were never going to be a romantic couple to me (to be honest, I stand by that Celaena and Rowan will never be romantic), but I now ship Aelin/Rowan to the end of my days. That’s what Maas does. Even with all the, frankly ridiculous, flipping between couples she has written throughout this series, she makes you believe it, she makes it work.

And although I missed by bby Aelin terribly, having her not being in this novel worked. It builds hella tension for the finale and now as a reader I’m only more anxious to get my hands on that final instalment. It may not have been what Maas was originally intending but it’s a good tactic to keep Empire of Storms at the forefront of everyone’s minds and on the edge of their seats for the final novel. Also, the crossover of having this happening at the same time as Empire of Storms worked really well.

Yrene Towers. Now lemme tell you a little something about me and a big something about Yrene Towers. Celaena Sardothien is my favourite fictional character of all time. Celaena, not Aelin. I feel like I have a deep emotional connection to her pain and her fight. For that reason, The Assassins Blade is actually one of my favourite novels in the series (I even cosplayed as TAB!Celaena for YALC this year). Sam is obviously my favourite character the prequel, but besides him, there is the angel on high, Yrene Towers. If you haven’t read The Assassins Blade, you need to do so right now because it’s so fantastic and baby Yrene is a lovely cute angel and every tale is glorious and will then tear your heart out.  Now, when I realised there would be a book in Antica, I was there for it for the simple hope that Yrene might make a reappearance and having had other characters come back from the prequels, I was living in hope. Yrene was everything I wanted her to be and more. I am beyond happy with how her story unfolded since we last saw her and I’m still squeeing just thinking about it.

I also feel like I should give a shout out to my favourite new characters. Look out for:

  • Borte, absolute gem and definitely up there with the best in the series.
  • Eretia, a very minor character but has moments where I would just laugh and laugh, also old women are always the best characters.
  • Sartaq, *heart eyes*, tbh he’s just a really lovely man.
  • Kadara, kind of comes hand in hand with Sartaq but MYSTICAL ANIMALS YES.

Finally, as questionable a writer as Maas can sometimes be, there is one thing she is particularly good at, and she once again thrived with. Emotional healing. I’m not going to talk about the physical disability representation because I don’t feel qualified to judge whether she did that well or not. I feel like she did, or certainly tried to, but as I do not have a physical disability, it would be wrong of me to definitively say one way or the other. Emotional and mental health issues? Gimme a soapbox.

Chapter 54 in Heir of Fire, is probably my favourite passage from a novel of all time. That passage, Celaena’s healing, her acceptance of her role in this war, has saved my life, healed my mind and healed my soul more times than I can possibly count. If there is one thing Maas can do, it’s emotional healing. In Tower of Dawn, she comes back in all her glory. Obviously this is a spoiler-free review, but the novel centres on Chaol’s healing so I feel like it is necessary to say that Maas writes this perfectly. Reading about him finding who he is again beyond his physical disability was incredibly inspiring and heartwarming and guess what, it made me goddamn care about Chaol. I applaud you Maas.

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Have you read Tower of Dawn yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!


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TOP TEN TUESDAY | Top Ten Books on My Autumn TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish and I love a good list so here goes!

I have so many books on my TBR that I actually have a spreadsheet detailing what I need to read and by when. It’s long and organised and mad but these ten books below are the ones I’m most looking forward to!

Ringer (Replica #2) by Lauren Oliver
Release:
3rd October 2017

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of Replica this time last year and absolutely adored it, so when Ringer was released on Edelweiss, I snapped it up! It’s next on my TBR once I finish Tower of Dawn!

The Replica series tells the story of two girls, Lyra and Gemma, when their lives become intertwined after Lyra and a boy known only as 72 escape the Haven Institute, a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

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The Fandom by Anna Day
Release:
5th October 2017

I somehow managed to get this beautiful paperback ARC at YALC, moments after I walked into the convention hall. I am really intrigued by the concept and will definitely be reading this one soon.

A YA fantasy, set within a YA fantasy. Cosplayers go to comic-con and, after a freak accident, find themselves trapped within the fantasy world from their favourite fandom.

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A Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
Release:
26th September 2017

I am unbelievably excited to be transported back into the incredible Grishaverse. Leigh Bardugo is one of the best world-builders out there right now and I have loved everything she has written. Give me more.

Six short stories set within the Grishaverse which explore familiar lands and new, inspired by myth, fairytale and folklore.

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
Release:
3rd October 2017

I have read every CoHo book, some more than once, and her books mean so much to me. They tear me apart and stitch me back together. I cry a lot. They are my catharsis and I’ve heard lots of good things about her next novel, her first YA since Losing Hope.

Without Merit explores family dynamics and the layers of lies that tie a family together through the eyes of the imperfect daughter, Merit Voss. 

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Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher

Much like Colleen, I love Tarryn’s writing. Plus, sometimes it hard to like one and not the other considering what a double act Hoover/Fisher are. Bad Mommy is one of the few that I haven’t yet read along with the new release Athiests Who Kneel and Pray. Both are on my bookshelf begging to be read.

When Fig Coxbury buys a house on West Barrett Street, it’s not because she likes the neighbourhood, or even because she likes the house. It’s because everything she desires is next door: The husband, the child, and the life that belongs to someone else.

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Illuminae series by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

My friends kept going on and on at me telling me I would love this series so I decided to buy them and now they’ve been sat on my shelves a month or so, waiting to be read. I guess I’d better get on with it!

Kady’s planet has been invaded and she and her ex-boyfriend need to work together to fight their way to an evacuating fleet. Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews and more.

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False Hearts by Laura Lam

Having read the Micah Grey trilogy and fallen in love, I figured I should add Laura Lam’s other novels to my TBR. I’m sure I’ll love this adventure just as much as the last.

Two formerly conjoined sisters are ensnared in a murderous plot involving psychoactive drugs, shared dreaming, organized crime, and a sinister cult. 

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Top of the NY Times bestseller list since its release, The Hate U Give, has been widely recognised as the book to read in 2017… so I read it I must!

A young, black girl, trapped between the two worlds of her poor neighbourhood and surburban preparatory school, has her life turned upside down after she witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed, childhood best friend by a police officer.

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And I Darken by Kiersten White

I purchased this and its sequel, Now I Rise, at YALC having had it on a long list of books I should get for a while. Yet, since its purchase, I have had more pressing things to read. It sounds just like my kind of book so I would love to get around to this soon.

A gender-swapped, historcal YA retelling the story of the Prince of Wallachia, also knowsn as Vlad the Impaler. Political and historical with a ruthless heroine, stabbing, murder and volatility.

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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Another novel that I haven’t stopped hearing about since it’s release so I feel the need to see what all the fuss is about. Especially with the tv series going ahead, I want to read it before that comes out.

A murder mystery surrounding five high school students who have detention together, but only four come out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

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What’s on your Autumn TBR? Have you read any on my list that I should read sooner? Let me know in the comments or link me to your TTT for me to check out!


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CURRENTLY READING | Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Source: Amazon

In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

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What are you reading right now? Are you enjoying it? Tell me in the comments!


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TOP TEN TUESDAY | Ten Books That Took Me A Long Time

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish and I love a good list so here goes!

I’m a pretty fast reader and there are only a few reasons a book takes me more than a week max. These are either because I’m not invested in the same way that I usually am, I’m crazy busy, or I need time to digest the heavy plot or how it is written *cough 18th/19th Century authors *cough*. Here’s a list of the books that took me longer than they should have. Again, I’m struggling with ten, but you’ll forgive me, right?

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
KEY WORDS: Magicians, Pure Magic, Old World Fantasy.

I really loved Uprooted but it took me about four months to read. Now, that was mostly because it was a busy time at uni but also during that time, I found time to do so many other things when I could have been reading this. It didn’t enthrall me enough to want to read it instead of doing everything else which is how I like my books.

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Snow Like Ashes series by Saraa Raasch
KEY WORDS: Resistance, Dictatorship, Fantasy, Suppressed Magic.

I read the first novel in the series and loved it but having read one chapter of the second, I put Ice Like Fire down and haven’t picked it up since. I still haven’t finished book two, or the rest of the series and I have no idea when I will get back to it.

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Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
KEY WORDS: Classic British Romance.

Jane Austen is one of the most incredible classic British authors and I love reading romantic classical 18th and 19th Century novels like Austen, Brontë and the like. However, as lovely as it sounds, they are hard to get through. I started Pride and Prejudice after I received a beautiful leatherbound classic for Christmas a few years ago. I got halfway through and put it down to do uni work and never picked it up again. It’s still on my bedside table!

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
KEY WORDS: Super-hype, Thriller, Intense.

I read this novel back in 2016 and it was without a doubt one of the best of that time. I hadn’t read a lot of thrillers then and all the twists were fanatstic. But it did take me a good few months. The first half dragged a lot but as soon as I got to the second, I’d finished it in a matter of hours. It’s strange how that happens.

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Which books have you read that took you longer than expected? Let me know in the comments or link me to your TTT for me to check out!

REVIEW | Prisoner of Ice & Snow by Ruth Lauren

35382914Name: Prisoner of Ice and Snow
Author: Ruth Lauren
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Publication Date: 7th September 2017
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

 KEY WORDS: Adventure, mystery, sisterhood.

*I received an eARC of this novel from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

It’s been a while since I’ve read a middle grade novel, and I didn’t actually realise it was MG when I got this from Netgalley. However, it was a fun and easy read that clensed my palette after a really heavy, mind-consuming novel.

Prisoner of Ice and Snow is a really beautiful story of sisterhood and adventure, set in a matriarchal kingdom which is exactly what girls should be reading at school age to empower them, stregthen their friendships and familial bonds and make them realise that they can do anything. The protagonist, Valor, and her sister, Sasha, a twin sisters and daughters of the Queen’s Head Huntwoman (their mother) and Adviser (their father). Just the fact that the mother was the huntswoman and not adviser made me smile. Tough women who know how to fight is everything I love and having that as a role model to 13/14 year old Valor is brilliant. The royal succession goes down the female line and, okay, yes it’s still inequality and no, our society shouldn’t be that way, but I love the idea of young girls reading that women can be Queen instead of their younger brothers as in British history. That was the worst realisation for 6/7 year old Imi. I digress…

The novel is short and easy reading for those younger readers, taking you on a sweet journey that is surprisingly like the tag line of ‘Frozen meets Prison Break’! Even as a MG novel, it still captivated me enough to stay up late to finish it. I would definitely recommend this more to younger readers but if you fancy something less intense, then this might be the next read for you!

CURRENTLY READING: Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: 7th September 2017

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that’s exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

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HOLIDAY WRAP UP: A Week in Madiera

The perfect holiday read varies for everyone and in the past I have enjoyed intense thrillers, easy-reading romance, high fantasy series and young adult contemporary from the bliss of a sunbed by the sea. As you can see by the novels I ploughed through on my week-long trip to the island of Madeira, the style and genre changed every day.

 

Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie ★★★★☆
KEY WORDS: Villains, short stories, fairytales, retellings.

This anthology of villainous tales was a perfect sunbed read, allowing me to read a tale before taking a break to hit the pool or get a drink from the bar. I really enjoyed the concept behind it and the execution was delightful, leading me to find some new favourite authors as well as falling in love again with the writing styles of my faves (hi there, Say Sha and Schwab).

See my full spoiler-free review here.

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The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven ★★★★☆
KEY WORDS: Feminism, high school, slut shaming, guys are douchebags.

While not being released until March 2018, The Exact Opposite of Okay was exactly what I needed to read in the heat of a summer holiday. It was laugh out loud funny while still tackling important issues of high school bullying, slut shaming and revenge porn. Read this book when it comes out in March or maybe even read it on your own sunbed next summer, but it’s worth reading.

See my full spoiler-free review here.

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Micah Grey series by Laura Lam ★★★★★
KEY WORDS: Intersex, queer, magical, circus, adventure, coming of age, SO SO GOOD.

A few years ago I spent a seven day holiday reading three different fantasy series, Throne of Glass (Sarah J Maas), Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor) and Angelfall (Susan Ee) and that was a lot to handle in terms of world jumping and a lot of books. This time, I conquered just one series and it was everything I wanted. At this time, I would say that all three novels in the Micah Grey series are up there in my favourite books I’ve read this year. Whether you read them on holiday or from the comfort of your own home by the fire, read these books because they made my life infinitesimally better.

See my full spoiler-free review here.

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The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James ★★★☆☆
KEY WORDS: Diary entries, emails, space travel, easy reading.

Along with The Exact Opposite of Okay, this novel was probably the best format for sunbed perfection. Easy reading and fast paced leading to a pretty chill day. I, however, did not read this on a sunbed, instead I read it in the four hours from leaving my hotel to half way through my flight home. If filled the time well and I enjoyed the story. Worth a read upon it’s release in September and perfect for younger readers in the YA category.

See my full spoiler-free review here.

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