Friday, 21 July 2017

MID JULY BOOK HAUL

As I was sat in my bedroom looking around at the heaps of books that haphazardly (but lovingly) covered my desk, drawers and bedside table, I realised that although we're only halfway through July, I've already accumulated quite a few books. With me attending YALC at the end of the month, and planning on buying aaallllll of the books, I thought I should probably write a mid month haul. One haul might be a little too much! So I've bought an eclectic mix of books in July, from non fiction to YA to adult fantasy, from book stores and through taking advantage of the Amazon Prime deals earlier this month!

YA

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Last Saturday, Becky of Two Book Thieves, Lauren of Northern Plunder, Beth of I Am Book Mad and I met to discuss our YALC prep: who we wanted to meet, what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. Of course, we couldn't discuss books without visiting a book shop and buying some, could we? I picked up Show Stopper by Hayley Barker, a circus themed fantasy story which I've heard great things about, and One Of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, a mystery thriller which I've already reviewed here. I'm hoping to meet both authors at YALC, so hopefully these will be signed copies in just a few weeks!

On the Sunday, and after some encouragement from the girls in our aptly named "BOOKS" group chat, I went hunting for Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. A kick ass story about a high school feminist revolution? Erm, yes please. Luckily, I found it in a nearby WHSmith (even though technically it's not out until September, thank you Zoella's book club)!

Earlier this month, I received a copy of Dare to Fall by Estelle Maskame from Ink Road Books and Black and White Publishing - thank you! A YA contemporary novel about love and loss, I finished Dare to Fall earlier this week after devouring it in just a couple of days. I'll be posting a full review soon!


I also picked up the The Infernal Devices trilogy box set for less than £9 (!!!) in the Amazon Prime Deals which I am so happy about... now I just need to finish The Mortal Instruments series. After hearing so much excitement around the release of Because You Love to Hate Me, an anthology of re-imagined fairytales from the villain's point of view, created by thirteen awesome authors who have teamed up with thirteen booktubers, all edited by Ameriie. I'm so excited to read this!

Fantasy


I only bought one adult fantasy novel this month, which was How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. I haven't read any of Matt's books before, but I've heard such great reviews and couldn't resist when I saw his latest release on offer for under a fiver.

Non Fiction

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Most of you probably have no idea as I haven't really posted about it in a long time, but a couple of years ago I suffered quite badly with anxiety. Over time, I've learnt how to cope with and control it better, and things that used to be a struggle I don't even think twice about now. I'm not saying that I'm "cured", but I'm definitely in a better place. Part of my coping strategy includes reading lots of books around anxiety, mental health and mindfulness; I really do believe in personal growth and feel that gaining knowledge helps me greatly. In July I got my hands on quite a few: Mindset by Dr Carol S. Dweck, How to be Mindful by Anna Barnes, Pause by Danielle Marchant, Making Friends with Anxiety by Sarah Rayner and Anxiety: Panicking about Panic by Joshua Fletcher. I also bought
Open by Gemma Cairney which covers similar kinds of themes. I hadn't realised I'd bought this many books on the topic, but even if you don't suffer with anxiety, nerves or mental health, I believe they definitely still hold a lot of value.

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Like I said, personal growth and development is important to me and I like learning new things, so I also bought Get Coding by Young Rewired State this month. Yes, it is a children's book, but we all have to start somewhere right? I was recently recommended Everybody Writes by Ann Handley to help focus and improve my writing, so I'm really excited to delve into it.

I did warn you that it would be a long post! That's all the books that I've bought (so far) in July and I'm really excited to get stuck in *sneaks a look at growing TBR from every other month*.


*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!

Monday, 17 July 2017

REVIEW: THE BARGAINER SERIES ONE AND TWO BY LAURA THALASSA

Hello, my name is Amy and I love the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (you probably already knew that if you've read even at least one of my posts, I manage to squeeze it in anywhere). Because I can't get enough of Sarah J. Maas and her books, I'm a member of several Facebook groups relating to them! Whilst browsing the groups one weekend, I came across a post that recommended a book that anyone suffering with an SJM book hangover would love. So, of course, I bought it right away. That book was Rhapsodic, the first book in The Bargainer series by Laura Thalassa. I started the book on a Saturday morning, and finished the second, A Strange Hymn, on the following Monday morning, so I suppose you could say that I somewhat enjoyed them! I could definitely see the similarities with ACOTAR and ACOMAF, but I'll go into more detail further down.


From the cover: 

"Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want... at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken. 

If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one."


Thoughts:

So first of all, I want to highlight that *trigger warning*, this book contains sexual abuse and rape. I unfortunately couldn't find any warnings in the book, but believe they are necessary and would hope that in future printings that this could be rectified.

I was a little thrown by the beginning. I'm generally not a fan of urban fantasy, I definitely prefer high fantasy where we get to delve into an entirely new world, so when this book started off in present day America I wasn't too excited about where it was going to go. However the story soon progressed and in no time I was enthralled.

The premise of the story is that Desmond Flynn, aka King of the Night, is also The Bargainer. He makes deals with people in return for a favour that he can call in at any time. In the beginning, Callie goes through a fairly traumatic situation, and calls The Bargainer for help. Thus, their "relationship" begins, and Callie starts to owe many, many favours. Their story is told through a combination of flashbacks and present day. I don't always enjoy this but Laura executed this really well. It helped to provide an insight into the pair's history, why they act the way they do and without this I don't think I'd have cared for the characters as I do.

For me the characters were one of the main reasons why I couldn't put this book down. Callie is a fighter, a survivor. She is herself with no apologies, clever, independent and loyal. Desmond is arrogant, confident and aggressive when it comes to his enemies, but with Callie he is caring, loving and protective. His secrecy did annoy me at several points throughout the story, though I understand that this was used as a plot device. For me, he is your typical "alpha male" but HOW OLD IS HE? This is never explained, just that because he's Fae that he's very, very old, and it's annoying me. While he is undoubtedly an attractive character, he just doesn't compare to my fave High Lord.

However, one character I wasn't 100% was Temper, Callie's best friend. Her dialogue felt very out of place for me; she started every other sentence with "bitch" and "girl". These particular lines, which Callie does sometimes contribute to, felt very jarring. Here are a couple of examples of lines from the two which I couldn't get on board with: "homegirl is in shackles because she boned a dude with wings" and "playing hide the salami with a soldier".

While Callie and Des' relationships was sweet, quite often a little more than sweet, and very romantic, I found myself wanting to yell "JUST TALK TO ONE ANOTHER". The way they held things back from each other was very frustrating, but I guess there would be no story without that... Despite this, Desmond really respects Callie; he doesn't try and stop her from doing anything and trusts her to make her own decisions and this definitely made me appreciate them as a couple more.

Many of Des' "favours" were related to violence and sex. At first I did feel a little uncomfortable but it's very clear to see that any romance between the two is completely consensual and the "favours" are obviously chosen as Desmond knows its what the two of them want. Rhapsodic and A Strange Hymn are very much adult novels. While there are definitely many similarities between it and ACOTAR, the romantic scenes are much more descriptive in The Bargainer series, with more swearing and coarse language throughout. 

Similarities:

Now, the similarities between The Bargainer trilogy(?) and the ACOTAR series. I'm in no way suggesting that plagiarism has occurred either way around, I'm merely stating similarities that I found having read both author's work. For some, these points may be a great thing; you're missing ACOTAR dearly and want something to attempt to fill the void. This will do it for you!

  • So the first point is obvious. The book is all about Fae and Fairies, with the usual folklore such as iron being a weakness, male Fae territoriality, mates, different courts and "under the mountain" is also referred to
  • There is a Night Kingdom with a Land of Dreams
  • Desmond, our male protagonist, has wings that are likened to those of a bat
  • Desmond's attitude is also similar to Rhysand's: cocky, cunning but overall a big softy
  • Desmond's friend had a scar over one eye
  • There is an evil queen Mara with long red hair (similar to Amarantha)
  • There is a literal Starfall - "The stars are falling from the sky!"- in which Desmond takes stars from the sky for Callie
  • During this Starfall, Callie refers to herself as being the "Cosmos personified" which reminded me of the "Stars eternal" quote from A Court of Wings and Ruin
  • Callie glows during 'romantic' scenes
  • Callie's ex is a wolf that was fairly possessive and wrecked her home

Overall, I rated both books 3.5 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the story and the characters, but some of the language used definitely knocked it down a star or two for me. I just felt as though I was reading two different author's work in one book because it seemed so out of character. Laura has created an intriguing and fantastical world, built around two very well developed characters whom I can't wait to read more about. I would definitely recommend that if you are suffering from a Feysand slump, you read these books. Alternatively, if you weren't a fan of ACOTAR, I would still recommend The Bargainer as of course despite any similarities they are completely different stories and totally enthralling, so you may enjoy!

*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR SO FAR: 2017

I can't believe that we're already half way the year already! I know it's such a cliche to say, but this year really has gone so quickly, and so much has changed already. So far this year, I've finished my four year degree at university, I've received my results (I got a First!), I have a new car, I'm looking for my first permanent full time role in Marketing and PR and I'm graduating later this month! Between all this, making the first six months of the year even more awesome, I've read some pretty good books too.

Choosing my favourite books of 2017 so far has proven to be a little tricky. I loved a lot of books, so I've had to rein myself in. I've decided to only talk about 4.5 and 5 star reads, otherwise this post would go on and on and on and... you get the idea.


4.5 Stars

My first 4.5 star read of 2017 was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I received it back in January in a FairyLoot box. I read it in pretty much one sitting because boy, was I hooked. It's full of enthralling descriptions, fantastical world building, strong character development, twists and turns a fair bit of swooning on my part at the romance. You can read my full review here.

It took a while for me to find my next 4.5 star read, it was only June in fact. Roar, the first in the Stormheart series, by Cora Carmack. A fantastic read full of elemental magic, storms, adventure, personal growth and romance. I raced through it and couldn't put it down! I'll be posting a full review very soon so keep an eye out.

My final 4.5 star read, read only this month, is Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I know, I know, it's taken me so long to read it, but I'm so glad I finally did. I enjoyed this book cover to cover, with fast paced action, deep and complex characters whom I grew way too attached to and a clever and cunning plot (thanks to Kaz's slightly crazy, sometimes selfish but utterly brilliant plans). I'm always a sucker for romance too, and whilst that definitely wasn't the focus of this story, I felt like just the right amount was included. 

5 Stars

My first five star read of 2017 was The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon. The Bone Season and the Mime Order, the first two books in the series, were amazing but The Song Rising certainly stepped it up a gear. This book was so incredibly good that I just couldn't help but devour it page by page. It brought out so many different emotions and feelings: excitement, worry, panic, sadness, happiness, warmth and tension to name but a few. Once again, this was a really well thought out plot, with superb writing skills and excellent world building from Samantha Shannon. I was actually lucky enough to meet Samantha and get all of my books signed which was so exciting!

To those of you who know me, or even just follow me on social media, it's no surprise that another of my five star reads of 2017 was A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. HOLY SHIT. I don't think I could ever put into words how much this series means to me, and this book didn't disappoint. Whilst I know that some fans had some issues, which I can totally understand, I think ACOWAR was a perfect conclusion to Feyre and Rhys' arc. I read the book in one day, in exactly eight and a half hours actually, and throughout it I cried, laughed, sobbed, shouted and just generally couldn't deal with it. Once I finished the book, I seriously just sat and contemplated my thoughts for a while. Undoubtedly 5/5 stars. Always.

My final five star reads of the last six months are Air Awakens and Fire Falling by Elise Kova.  I downloaded the first book in the Air Awakens series one Saturday, and devoured it in one sitting. A couple of days later, I'd finished the fourth. The Air Awakens series elemental magic, a hate to love forbidden romance, a training school, war and heart melting side characters; I was completely enthralled from beginning to end. What more could you want?

4 Stars

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo / Frostblood by Elly Blake / Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton / Wintersong by S. Jae Jones / Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor / The Bone Season and The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon / When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon / A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab / Earth's End and Water's Wrath by Elise Kova / The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon

What are your favourite reads so far? I'm so excited for all the books I'm yet to read in 2017, and to see what this list looks like in December!

*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!

Friday, 7 July 2017

YALC TBR AND AUTHOR LIST

I can't believe that YALC is this month *squeals*! At first I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to make it, but after shifting a few things around, I bought my tickets and started counting down the days. If you don't know what YALC is, it's the Young Adult Literature Convention which has lots of awesome authors attending, alongside publishers and other bookish guests, which is happening alongside the London Film & Comic Con this year. While I am super excited to head to my first ever YALC with Bec of Two Book Thieves, Lauren and Beth, I'm also a little nervous. I mean, how am I going to able to read all the books before then! I thought I'd put together a little authors I want to meet/TBR to try to help soothe my nerves.

There are lots of authors attending YALC this year (and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that a few more may be added *cough* SJM I'M LOOKING AT YOU *cough*), but I've selected just a few whose books I already own so should probably read pretty soon.


The Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy by Melinda SalisburyOk so I've had this series on my bookshelves for a while now, and having heard so many good things I'm really excited to read them! 

Rebel of the Sands duology by Alwyn Hamilton: I read Rebel of the Sands earlier this year and loved it (in fact, you can read about how much I loved it right here). But, alas, I did what I always do: loves book - pre orders sequel - sequel arrives - doesn't read sequel. However I have plans to rectify this as soon as possible and I can't wait.

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell: My sister very kindly bought this book for me for Christmas. It sounds so good (and a little creepy) and I can't believe I still haven't read 

The Spinster Club Series by Holly BourneAfter seeing just how much people loved Holly's books, I ordered Am I Normal Yet? and finished it in a matter of days. I thought it was awesome. For me, Evie was totally relatable and the whole story had me gripped from beginning to end, so of course I ordered How Hard Can Love Be? and What's a Girl Gotta Do? straight away. But... I did it again. I still haven't read them! I definitely need to change this.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManusSo I've already read this book (and reviewed it here) but thought I'd add it to my list as I think it'd be cool to meet Karen and get something signed!

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon: I've been a fan of Paige's books for the longest time, I'm fairly sure I've read them all, so when her latest book came out of course I had to buy it. I read it in just over a day whilst on holiday, on the beach, and it was awesome.

This Savage Song duology by V.E. Schwab: Please don't hate me for not having read these yet, I promise I will! I recently read the first two books in the Shades of Magic series and really enjoyed them, so I've got high hopes for This Savage Song. It's the next book on my TBR!

I'm sure there are many, many more that need to be on this list but my TBR is long enough already and I'm already panicking about how I'm going to get everything read in the next three weeks! I can't wait to discover more new authors too while I'm there. I'm so excited to attend my first YALC and would love to meet lots more book bloggers. If you have any tips for YALC let me know.


*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

WHAT I READ THIS MONTH: JUNE 2017

I had planned to read quite a lot of books in June. I had finished uni so had more spare time and was going away on holiday, so I thought I'd be able to get through quite a few books... turns out I could only manage to read three.


The first book I read in June was Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee which was very kindly sent to me by the publishers Hideaway Fall. A mystery/thriller set around a family curse, I was definitely intrigued, but unfortunately it didn't quite do it for me. You can read my full review here.

Next, my holiday reads! First was The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon. I'm a big fan of Paige's books and have been for a long time now. They are perfect for relaxing holidays and always manage to make me laugh and tug on my heartstrings in the same sentence. Paige's latest story features Bridget, a travel writer who is tasked with finishing a very popular book left unfinished by an author who tragically passed away. Both heart warming and heart wrenching, The Last Piece of my Heart is a 4/5 stars for me.

The last book I read in June, and on holiday sadly, was Roar by Cora Carmack which I received in the June FairyLoot box (I've posted a full unboxing here). I'd read a lot about it on social media so was excited to find it in the box, but I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would! There were a few parts that bothered me, but overall it was a fantastic read full of elemental magic, storms, adventure, personal growth and romance. I raced through it and couldn't put it down, so I rated it 4.5/5 stars. I'll be posting a full review very soon so keep an eye out.

So a very small wrap up this month, but a wrap up nonetheless! What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

FAIRYLOOT UNBOXING JUNE 2017

I've been particularly excited about June's FairyLoot box. That's not to say that I spend every month counting down until the box arrives, but this month was a little different. Mainly down to the fact that I had kinda forgotten what was going to be in it and managed to not spoil anything for myself, and I had no idea what the book may be, which made it all the more exciting.

FairyLoot is a "fantasy focused monthly subscription box containing a Young Adult book and some hand selected bookish goodies" as described on their website. You can commit to six or twelve month subscriptions or if you're fast enough, you can get your hands on their single purchase boxes! The June theme was Elementalists.


One of my favourite places to read is my bed, all snuggled up with lots of lovely pillows, so you can imagine how happy I was when I came across the Portable Magic Pillowcase by Miss Phi. Another one to add to my reading nook!

I'm also a huge fan of bookish soaps (you should see my collection from Behind The Pages!) so I love that FairyLoot included the Clairvoyance scented soap by Ascent Bath and Body this month. It's white fig and pomegranate and smells lovely, with shea butter and activated charcoal which sounds fab.


I think it's pretty much a given that us bookworms love a good candle, so it's no surprise that the Stormheart Candle by Witchwood Remedies is one of my favourite items in the June box. There were five different candles included which relate to this month's book. I received Twister, which looks and smells delicious and is covered in crystals and botanical toppings. The candles are vegan and handmade too! A Bending Lipbalm by Geeky Clean was included this month which I was really happy about, as I'd been wanting to try something from them for a long time. I received Waterbender which has a lovely mint scent, and these products are vegan too!


I love dainty pieces of jewellery, so I'll definitely be wearing this Hamsa Hand Bracelet by In The Moment. It feels like such good quality and also has a lovely little gem on the chain which is super pretty. And I don't know about you, but stationery is another love of mine (like seriously, who can resist?), so the Potion Sticky Notes  by FairyLoot themselves will definitely not go to waste. They made me think about The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury for some reason, which I totally need to read.


Finally, this month's book was Roar by Cora Carmack. I'd read about this book a lot on social media, so I was super excited to read it. I took Roar away with me on holiday this week, started it on the plane and finished it the day after in one sitting. I couldn't put it down! It's full of elemental magic, adventure, personal growth, storms and some romance (which I am not averse to...). I gave it 4.5/5 stars but will be posting a full review on here very soon so keep an eye out! As always, the book came with a letter from the author and a signed plate for the book which always excites me!

There were also a few extra goodies included like a Frostblood postcard and a sampler for The Waking Land which sounds awesome. This is another awesome box from FairyLoot. I'm honestly blown away each and every month by the incredible items included and the hard work that Anissa and Michael put in. If you're thinking about buying one, go ahead and do it! You won't regret it - promise.


*Book depository affiliate links used. I get a small commission if you purchase through them, and you get free delivery!
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