Wednesday, June 3

Review: Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist #2)

Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist #2)
Renee Ahdieh


Published By: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Date Read: May 5, 2020
Genre: YA - Fantasy
Source: Bought
Format: Hardback
Pages: 408

From Goodreads:
For weeks, seventeen-year-old Mariko pretended to be a boy to infiltrate the notorious Black Clan and bring her would-be murderer to justice. She didn't expect to find a place for herself among the group of fighters—a life of usefulness—and she certainly didn't expect to fall in love. Now she heads to the imperial castle to resume a life she never wanted to save the boy she loves.

Ōkami has been captured, and his execution is a certainty. Mariko will do what she must to ensure his survival—even marry the sovereign's brother, saying goodbye to a life with Ōkami forever.

As Mariko settles into her days at court—making both friends and enemies—and attempting Ōkami's rescue at night, the secrets of the royal court begin to unravel as competing agendas collide. One arrow sets into motion a series of deadly events even the most powerful magic cannot contain. Mariko and Ōkami risk everything to right past wrongs and restore the honor of a kingdom thrown into chaos by a sudden war, hoping against hope that when the dust settles, they will find a way to be together.

Set against the backdrop of feudal Japan, Smoke in the Sun is the breathless, romantic, not-to-be-missed fiery conclusion to a spell-binding adventure.

"We must distance ourselves from comparison. That is the only way to be truly free."

Smoke in the Sun was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. I remember reading Flame in the Mist back in 2017 when it first released and I fell head over heels in love with it. It was the first Renee Ahdieh book I read and it made me into a huge fan of hers. I put this one off for so long because I couldn't really remember the ins and outs of the events and the characters by the time this one released. Finally, after re-reading Flame in the Mist I finally picked this one up. I was so excited to finally read it and see how this duology ended. I really wish I could say that I loved it as much as the first book... but honestly, I'm left feeling a little... deflated and disappointed.

Smoke in the Sun picks up where Flame in the Mist left off with Okami captured and Mariko off to the city to help him. It was the perfect set up for this book to be fast paced and action packed but unfortunately that just didn't happen. The pacing of this story slowed down so much. I was bored through the vast majority of Smoke in the Sun. I really can't fault Renee's writing style, it was just as beautiful as always... my issue was nothing was really happening. Plot wise, nothing really happened in the first 250 pages. Honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that I loved the first book so much, I probably would have DNF'd this one.

I still love the world and the characters that are in this series and I am so glad that I persevered and got to see the ending for Mariko and Okami. Pretty much everything was rammed into the last 100 pages. I have such mixed feelings because I felt like the book really dragged but then at the same time I felt like the ending was really rushed and I needed a bit more. I don't really feel like the ending wrapped up everyone's story. I'm still left with so many questions about what happened to them next and that makes me feel really sad.

I am so upset that I didn't love this one as Renee is one of my all time favourite authors and I loved the first book so much. Unfortunately it just didn't live up to my expectations and a part of me think this would have been so much better if it'd have stuck as a standalone and added the final 100 pages on to the end of Flame in the Mist. As sad as I am about being disappointed by this one Renee is still cemented as one of my favourite authors and I can't wait to read whatever she releases next.

"I would rather die for love than stand by and watch my love perish."



Tuesday, June 2

Wrap Up: May 2020


Hey Guys,
Can you believe it's June already? These past three months seem to have just completely and utterly flown by. I've had another pretty great reading month. Hopefully this continues.

Book Haul

Hardcopies:

It was my birthday in May so I very luckily got some awesome books as gifts.


Bought:
Crave (Crave #1) by Tracy Wolff
Aurora Burning (Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins
A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #1) by Amanda Bouchet
Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #2) by Amanda Bouchet
Heart of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #3) by Amanda Bouchet

Gifted:
The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon
Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Burning Kingdoms (Internment Chronicles #2) by Lauren DeStefano
Broken Crowns (Internment Chronicles #3) by Lauren DeStefano
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg
The Binding by Bridget Collins

E-Books:

For Review:

*Thanks to Jennifer L Armentrout and JLAnders Reviewers for the ARC of Rage and Ruin (Harbinger #2)

Book Subscription Boxes:




Books Read in May 2020:


*Re-read* Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh - 5 Stars
Smoke in the Sun (Flame in the Mist #2) by Renee Ahdieh - 2 Stars
Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout - 5 Stars
*Re-read* Aurora Rising (Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - 5 Stars
Aurora Burning (Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - 5 Stars
Alex (Delirium #1.5) by Lauren Oliver - 3 Stars
Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver - 4 Stars
Raven (Delirium #2.5) by Lauren Oliver - 3 Stars
Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver - 3 Stars
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins - 4 Stars
Midnight's Twins (Midnight's Twins #1) by Holly Race - 4 Stars

Reviews Posted in May 2020


Favourite Books of May 2020:


#3 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins
#2 Aurora Burner (Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
#1 Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout

June TBR

June Theme is Contemporary / Romance
**I am not actually a massive contemporary lover so I do have some non-contemporary books in here as re-reads or buddy reads to break up the monotony of reading one genre for a whole month.



What was your favourite read of May?
What are you planning on reading in June?

Monday, June 1

Early Review: Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger #2)

Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger #2)
Jennifer L Armentrout

Published By: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Date Read: May 8, 2020
Genre: YA - Paranormal Romance
Source: eARC from JLAnders Reviewers
Format: E-Book
Pages: 576
 
From Goodreads:
Dangerous secrets and forbidden desires lead to shocking consequences… Don’t miss book two of the fantastical Harbinger trilogy from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout. 

A half human, half angel and her bonded gargoyle protector must work with demons to stop the apocalypse while avoiding falling in love. The Harbinger is coming…but who or what is it? All of humankind may fall if Trinity and Zayne can’t win the race against time as dark forces gather. 

As tensions rise, they must stay close together and patrol the DC streets at night, seeking signs of the Harbinger, an entity that is killing Wardens and demons with no seeming rhyme or reason. Forbidden to be with each other, Zayne and Trinity fight their feelings and turn to unusual sources for help—the demon Roth and his cohorts. But as deaths pile up and they uncover a sinister plot involving the local high school and endangering someone dear to Zayne, Trin realizes she is being led…herded…played for some unknown end. As anger builds and feelings spiral out of control, it becomes clear that rage may be the ruin of them all.
Spoiler Free Review... however there is spoilers from The Dark Elements series and Storm and Fury. If you haven't read the first book in the Harbinger series be warned... read on at your own peril!!!


"You're under my skin and in my blood. I can't get you out."

There are no words to explain just how excited I was to get my hands on this book. I have been such a huge fan of Jennifer L Armentrout for almost a decade and I am still just as obsessed with her books now as I was when I first discovered them. Storm and Fury, the first book in the Harbinger series is possibly my favourite of all of her books and I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next in this series. There is nothing I can really say in this review that will do justice to this amazing book. It was absolutely epic!

Zayne and Trinity are back and while trying to figure out who the Harbinger is they are also fighting their growing feelings for one another. Now that Zayne is Trinity's protector you have the whole forbidden love aspect coming in to this book and I loved every single second of it. If there is one trope I can't resist in books it's forbidden love. It did, in my opinion, push this book to be even better than Storm and Fury. It gives you the drama of will they-won't they along with the heart melting romance I have come to expect for Jen's books. I just loved every single moment of it.

From the very first page I couldn't put Rage and Ruin down. I was racing through the pages so fast because I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen. It was definitely a desperation to see what was going to happen. I fell head over heels in love with Zayne and Trinity all over again and the more I read the more I just wanted to reach into the book and bang their heads together and push them together.

Anyone who has known me for a while will know I always loved Zayne the most, even in the Dark Elements series. I was always a bit 'meh' about Roth. Like I knew he was perfect for Layla and I liked him well enough but he has never been one of my favourite characters. Honestly, I love Roth more in Rage and Ruin than I ever loved him in his own series. He is absolutely hilarious all the way through this book. He is most definitely the comic relief in this very emotionally charged book. For all you Roth fans out there... you have some awesome moments to look forward to in this one. 

Rage and Ruin is most definitely the best, and most heartbreakingly emotional book I have read so far this year. Rage and Ruin completely and utterly broke me. At one point I was crying so hard I had to stop reading as I couldn't see the words. For me, it is always a sign of a fantastic book if it can evoke that strong of an emotional response from me. I loved every single second of it and I couldn't ask for more. I am now left reeling dying for the third and final book is this heartstoppingly perfect series. If you haven't read this one yet I highly recommend it. It was beautiful, perfect and stunning. A must read.

"I knew there was a risk for us - and there is an us. I also know that you're worth the risk. That we're worth the risk."


Saturday, May 30

Review: A Throne of Swans (A Throne of Swans #1)

A Throne of Swans (A Throne of Swans #1)
Katherine and Elizabeth Corr

Published By: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: January 9, 2020
Date Read: April 21, 2020
Genre: YA - Fantasy
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352


From Goodreads:
In a world where the flightless are ruled by those who can fly...

When her father dies just before her birthday, seventeen-year-old Aderyn inherits the role of Protector of Atratys, a dominion in a kingdom where nobles are able to transform at will into the bird that represents their family bloodline. Aderyn's ancestral bird is a swan. But she has not transformed for years, not since witnessing the death of her mother - ripped apart by hawks that have supposedly been extinct since the long-ago War of the Raptors.

With the benevolent shelter of her mother and her father now lost, Aderyn is at the mercy of her brutal uncle, the King, and his royal court. Driven by revenge and love, she must venture into the malevolent heart of the Citadel in order to seek the truth about the attack that so nearly destroyed her, to fight for the only home she has ever known and for the land she has vowed to protect.

Written in rich detail and evocative language, this is the start of an irresistible, soaring duology about courage, broken loyalties and fighting for your place in the world.

A Throne of Swans was a book that I hadn't heard much about before YALC last year. I've been aware of Katherine and Elizabeth Corr as a writing duo and have heard amazing things about their previous series The Witch's Kiss. I haven't personally read them so A Throne of Swans was my first dip into their writing. I enjoyed A Throne of Swans though I do feel like it is aimed at very young YA so it was pitched at a younger age than I normally read.

A Throne of Swans is a YA Fantasy novel inspired by Swan Lake. I quite liked this Swan Lake twist and I thought the premise of this book was great. I'm a big lover of Fantasy novels and I've never read one that has shapeshifting within it's lore like this one. I really enjoyed that element of it. This is by no means one of my favourite Fantasy novels. Like I mentioned above, it's pitched very young for me and that hindered my enjoyment of it slightly but I do think this is a fantastic novel for a younger audience.

I enjoyed A Throne of Swans and I will definitely pick up the second book in this duology to see what is going to happen next. I would definitely recommend this book if it's your first step into fantasy and it would be a great introduction into the genre.




Wednesday, May 27

Review: The Eve Illusion (Eve of Man #2)

The Eve Illusion (Eve of Man #2)
Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

Published By: Michael Joseph Publishing
Publication Date: April 16, 2020
Date Read: April 17, 2020
Genre: YA - Dystopia
Source: Bought
Format: Hardback
Pages: 400


From Goodreads:
Eve is the last girl on earth.

For the last sixteen years, Eve has been a prisoner. Guarded by the Mothers. Trapped by her fate. Watched by the world.

Until she took her chance, and escaped.

Eve finally has the freedom she has wanted for so long, and with Bram she has the love. But both come at a price. In this dangerous new world beyond the Tower, the regime are only ever one step behind. And together with the desperate rebel group fighting against them, Eve has found herself in more danger than she ever could have imagined.

With everything stacked against them, can Eve and Bram survive?

"Maybe I'm not here to save us from the future but from the present. Perhaps coming here, reclaiming my body and my worth, is where this all begins."

I read Eve of Man back in 2018 when it first released and I fell head over heels in love with this storyline and the characters. I couldn't wait for the next book and fast forward two years and it's finally here. I completely devoured this book within a day and was then left wishing I had taken my time with it because now I have to wait for the next book.

The Eve Illusion was in a word, perfection. Right from the start I was hooked back into this post-apocalyptic world and I could not put it down. I absolutely love that this book is split point of view and I really liked that we had another perspective in addition to Bram and Eve. As Bram and Eve are together for the majority of the book, we were introduced to another perspective of someone else back in the tower which worked perfectly as we still got to see what was going on there following Eve's departure. It really gave the story that much more depth being able to see what was going on there and with the rebel group at the same time.

Tom and Giovanna writing together is just brilliant. I haven't yet read any of their individual novels but if this is anything to go by I'm sure they are fantastic. I have well and truly become a fan of these two and I can't wait to get my hands on their others works as well. I was just completely taken by their writing style and I found it incredibly difficult to put this book down. I couldn't get through the pages fast enough. I loved every single moment of this book.

The Eve Illusion tackles such real issues and makes you really think and question what it is to be human and what freedom actually is. Although this book is a dystopia novel the issues surrounding the characters is something that people deal with every day and it's one of the reasons I love this series so much. It tackles these real life problems in a futuristic world. It's just brilliant and fantastic. I loved The Eve Illusion and I cannot wait to get my hands on book three. I have no doubt it's going to be a stunning and explosive conclusion to this fantastic series.

"That's the thing about disasters - war, disease, the climate shift: they bring about the fastest acceleration in technological developments. You've just got to survive long enough to benefit from it."



Saturday, May 23

Review: Fawkes

Fawkes 
Nadine Brandes

Published By: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Date Read: April 16, 2020
Genre: YA - Retelling / Historical Fantasy
Source: Bought
Format: Hardback
Pages: 448


From Goodreads:
Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

"Standing for my beliefs isn't always the same as standing for truth."

Fawkes is a book that has been sat on my shelf for about a year. I came across it at YALC a few years ago and I just fell in love with the cover so I just had to have it. I finally picked it up as part of my retellings month and oh my god... I absolutely loved this book. I have to say that Fawkes is one of the biggest surprises of the year for me in the best way possible. I was expecting a retelling of the gunpowder plot and that is what I got, but I got so much more as well. What I wasn't expecting was this superbly crafted fantasy novel set to the historical background of the gunpowder plot.

I don't know if others would find this book quite as exciting as I did, but with me living in England and us having a celebration each year to remember Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot, I was living for this magical twist to a historical event that is so well known. I loved every single moment of this book. From the development of this key historical event to the beautiful writing to the magical twists and the complex character developments... everything was just absolutely perfect to me. Nadine Brandes... I bow down to you for honing your craft and your storytelling so superbly... I was genuinely blown away by this absolute masterpiece of a novel.

Fawkes was everything I could have wanted from a book and more. Right from the start I was completely taken away into this magical world of 1500s London. I could not put this book down and I raced through it all to quickly. I will definitely be looking out for Nadine Brandes' other works in the future. She has opened my eyes to a whole new genre that I didn't really know was a thing, and that there was so many books in. I have never really been a lover of historical novels, I find I get quite bored of them... but historical fantasy? Now this is something that I can get behind and feel like I have definitely been missing out on.

Fawkes was absolute perfection. I loved every single moment of this book and I know this is one book I can read over and over and love it just as much as the first time. I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. It's absolutely fantastic and challenges so much. Prepare to be whisked away into a historical London filled with magic, intrigue and a dash of romance. It was phenomenal and magical!

"There has always been fear. There will always be fear. It's up to us to stand tall, even when the fear demands we bow to it."



Wednesday, May 20

Review: All The Ever Afters

All The Ever Afters
Danielle Teller

Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Date Read: April 12, 2020
Genre: YA - Fairytale Retelling
Source: Bought
Format: Hardback
Pages: 376


From Goodreads:
A luminous reimagining of the classic fairy tale Cinderella, told from the perspective of Agnes, the beautiful girl's “evil” stepmother.

Compelling fiction often obscures the humble truth...

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, a woman who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. But what unfolds is not the princess's history. The tale Agnes recounts is her own.

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice at Aviceford Manor when she is just ten years old. Alone, friendless, and burdened with a grueling workload, Agnes carves a place for herself in this cold place that is home to Sir Emont Vis-de-Loup, a melancholic and capricious drunkard.

Using her wits and ingenuity, Agnes eventually escapes and makes her way toward a hopeful future, serving as a housemaid for the powerful Abbess Elfilda. But life once again holds unexpected, sometimes heartbreaking twists that lead Agnes back to Aviceford Manor, where she becomes nursemaid to Ella, Emont's sensitive, otherworldly daughter. Though she cares for Ella, Agnes struggles to love this child, who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, ultimately, the celebrated princess who embodies all our unattainable fantasies.

Familiar yet fresh, tender as well as bittersweet, the story of Agnes and Ella's relationship reveals that beauty is not always desirable, that love may take on many guises, and that freedom is not always something we can choose.

Danielle Teller's All the Ever Afters challenges our assumptions and forces us to reevaluate what we think we know. Exploring the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, this lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive novel shows us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound—and ultimately more precious—truth about our lives than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

"Being strong does not disqualify you from being beautiful."

All The Ever Afters is a retelling that I hadn't heard very much about when I picked it up at last years YALC. It's the tale of Cinderella as you have never seen it before. Told by Agnes, Cinderella's 'Wicked Stepmother' I was immediately intrigued. I am a huge fan of fairytale retellings but when they're told from the same characters perspective I find they can get quite repetitive so to see one told from one of the villains, this book sounded perfect for me... and it was. I really enjoyed every moment of this book.

All The Ever Afters is a fantastic retelling that I would recommend to any fans of the tale of Cinderella. It's a really thought-provoking read and makes you realise how one-sided all of these tales are. I loved that this book didn't just begin at the time of the Cinderella tale we know but showed Agnes' childhood and how she became her stepmother.

This is the first book I have read from Danielle Teller and I am a fan. I loved her writing style. It was really addictive. Right from the start I was completely enamoured by this story and her writing and I couldn't put the book down. This book is a really raw and emotional insight into Agnes' life and I was completely in love with her as a character. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more work of Danielle Teller's in the future.

All The Ever Afters is a fresh and new take on the Cinderella tale. I was so very impressed with this book and although the beginning is a little bit slow in places, I found myself not minding because I was enjoying the writing style so much. Any Disney/fairytale fans must add this book to their TBR. It was absolutely fantastic!

"Love is a sickness that causes men and women to do stupid things, like the sorts of things that leave them sad and broken when the fever passes."