Quick Fire Fantasy Book Tag

I did my practical exam yesterday and I am so glad it’s over! I hope I’ve done okay but some parts of it didn’t go so well :/ Anyway so I’ve decided that I’m going to try and give book tags a go! I’ve come up with my very first book tag which is designed to give rapid answers so it’s quick and easy to do and you can find out a little more about the blogger’s taste in books. It’s all about fantasy books with quick answers – I hope you guys like it! Here goes –

Rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post
  • Link to the creator’s blog (thebookwormdreamer.wordpress.com) in your post
  • Answer the prompts below – all fantasy books!
  • Tag 5 others to take part
  • Enjoy!

5 star book

Image result for a curse so dark and lonely

This gorgeous Beauty and the Beast retelling definitely got five stars from me! I absolutely loved it.

Always going to recommend

Image result for a darker shade of magic

A Darker Shade of Magic is a book that I always recommend to anyone and everyone who enjoys reading! It has something for everyone with a whole heap of magic thrown in for good measure.

Own it but haven’t read it yet

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I’ve read the first book, Strange the Dreamer, but I just haven’t got round to reading the sequel yet in this duology!

Would read again

Image result for the bone season

Whilst the first in this book series of seven books (only three currently published) isn’t my favourite so far, I absolutely would read this again! Sometimes books are better second time round anyway.

In another world

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Set in the land of Erilea, this series does not disappoint! My favourite has to be Heir of Fire but I also loved the additional book that runs parallel alongside the fifth book (Empire of Storms) which is called Tower of Dawn.

Back on Earth

Image result for a once upon a time tale reawakened

adored the TV series on Netflix and thoroughly enjoyed reading this treasure! It’s about a town in America called Storybrooke where fairy tale characters live but they don’t remember their true identity.

There! My Quick Fire Fantasy Book Tag is complete! Now onto the tagging… I tag Snowly’s Rambles, Books and Skittles, Bookishly Brittknee, A Book. A Thought. and It’s All About Books! Feel free to join in if you want to – just tag me in your post so I can see your replies. Hope you enjoyed the tag 🙂

 

Three awesome stand alone fantasy books

So I did something different yesterday and posted my first book post of a book tag that I have participated in and low and behold, when the post went live, it had all been deleted. All of my answers to some book blogger questions were gone and I can’t remember where I saw the original post and no one had actually tagged me anyway so I might just give up with that one! I feel a bit disappointed because I was really happy with that post – I might have to have a go at redoing it again for next week when I have some more time.

Anyway I’m salvaging this week with three book recommendations for some stand alone fantasies for you all instead so I hope you enjoy! I think stand alones are sometimes underrated and we all love a book series to get lost in, but stand alones can be just as good for the added mystery that the story must end in that one book and I think it can give a sense of trepidation to the reading experience! Here are three stand alones I thoroughly enjoyed reading for the first time:

  1. HuntedImage result for hunted meagan spooner

First off, it’s HUNTED by Meagan Spooner! If you like fairy tale retellings or if Beauty and the Beast is your favourite fairy tale, then you’ve got to check out this amazing stand alone novel!

I absolutely love Beauty and the Beast retellings and this one was a lot different than what’s already out there. It felt a lot darker and melancholy to read compared to the beloved fairy tale we know, but the thing that made this book so special was the author’s note at the end – it’s not one to miss.

You can find the link to goodreads here and a link to my goodreads review here.

 

2. The Last NamsaraRelated image

While it is technically part of a series, the sequel, The Caged Queen, focuses on different characters and so The Last Namsara can be taken as a stand alone. This book was an absolute joy and wonder to read because not only is it a story about a girl who slays dragons, but it actually has small stories tucked away inside for added depth and richness to an already incredible story.

It felt like a proper old fashioned storybook and I loved every second! My copy is in this beautiful silver foil that was included in a Fairyloot box. Whatever cover you find, it’s sure to reflect the gorgeous story inside.

Link to goodreads here and link to my review here.

3. Vassa In The NightImage result for vassa in the night

This is a book that is perfect to read around Halloween due to the spooky feel you get from it! Set in the modern day in Brooklyn, all it takes is for one trip for some light bulbs to set off a change of events that could be devastating.

I found it captivating yet creepy to read and I loved the character of Erg – a little wooden doll that talks and is very cunning indeed.

If you’re looking for something different to add to your TBR then try this out! You can find the link to goodreads here and a full review on my blog here.

 

I hope you enjoyed these recommendations – let me know in the comments if you’ve already read them and what you thought! I’ll be posting some more book recommendations for stand alones soon! Have a good day everyone ♥

 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea Book Review

A Very Large Expanse of SeaImage result for a very large expanse of sea
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Egmont
Pages: 297
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.”

I LOVE Tahereh’s Shatter Me series which I gleefully discovered last year and I was intrigued when I learnt that she had written a contemporary. Familiar with her gorgeous writing, I was keen to give this a go and I am so glad I did because it was amazing. From the description, I would have maybe passed this off as a typical teenage romance but it went much deeper than that, exploring religion, race and bigotry.

Shirin (pronounced Shee-reen, which I butchered at first with Shi-rin) is struggling with her turbulent life of forever moving schools. She has made the delicate decision to wear her hijab in a world just a year after the horror of 9/11. People are prejudiced and morbidly curious with her decision to wear the hijab, and she even got attacked in broad daylight, simply for being who she is. Fair to say this girl is angry – angry with the world and the state it is in but she channels this through her break-dancing and loses herself in music. And then along comes Ocean into her life and everything changes for both the glorious better and the absolute worse.

I was moved by her story and somewhat shocked to read about blatant racism, so different to what I usually read. But it also showed me a different perspective and taught me that I am quite ignorant when it comes to religion. I myself am not religious in any way and I find it hard to understand how someone can devote their life to it, but this story provided me with further understanding of what it means to some people and their reasons for choosing to practice religion or not.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea made me reconsider myself and people around me. It was also a beautiful story about two teenagers falling for each other but because of their differences, appalling behaviour ensues and it ends in a rather bittersweet fashion.

I implore everyone to add this to their TBR – it’s such a quick book to read and will really make you re-evaluate the world around you.

 

The Crown’s Fate Book Review

The Crown’s FateImage result for the crown's fate
Author: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 417
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.”

I first read The Crown’s Game in August 2016 and I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with the story and its wonderful characters and the magic practically brimming from the pages, complementing the gorgeous writing and description. The ending though was bittersweet and could have easily been left right there to let you decide what happened next for yourself. But then came along this sequel, The Crown’s Fate, where the ending is decided for us and explains how a certain character escaped a predicament.

This book is a lot darker than the last with the three main characters all at odds with each other (to say the least) and we see Russia discover that magic is real and the fear that comes along with it. Vika is Imperial Enchanter and under the control of the tsarevich, meaning that the freedom she has dreamed of her whole life to use her magic at her will has crashed and burned to cinders. And then there’s Pasha who is desperately trying to legitimise his claim to the throne meanwhile Nikolai is trapped as a shadow in a world of dreams.

The story sees Nikolai trying to bring himself back to the real world and with it, darkness spreads. The once tangled trio become hated by one another and it’s very different from the last book full of hopeful friendships and romance.

The thing is that for me, this book really didn’t live up to the first one. I thought The Crown’s Game was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but this sequel just fell flat with its fairly weak story and characters that are so different compared to the ones in the first book. We see a certain character completely turn 180 and terrorise Russia, so different to their personality in the last book and it made me feel a bit morose and mourn that character we met in The Crown’s Game. Magic is feared and not celebrated, and Vika is practically chained to her duty as Imperial Enchanter to only use it when commanded. It made for a grave story and sequel, strongly contrasting the first book.

In all honesty, I don’t think this book compliments the first and it would have almost been better to leave it as a stand alone and let the reader determine the ending for themselves. It felt like this book was desperately scrambling to carry on the story and as a result we got a feeble one in return.

It saddens me because I loved the first book and the writing is still top quality with this sequel, but the story wasn’t there for me. It still wouldn’t discourage me from recommending The Crown’s Game, but I wouldn’t extol the sequel.

 

 

 

February wrap-up

Another month done and spring is in the air! March is here to say hello and bring with it sunshine and flowers – the snowdrops and crocuses are already out and looking very pretty indeed 🙂

So how has February been for me? Well I have FINISHED my rotations at uni (no more clinical teaching at uni) and I’ve just got four more weeks of placements to do and some other bits of teaching at uni before my practical exam at the end of March!!! I’m very worried and I’ve already started having dreams about my exam which isn’t great, but enough about uni, what about books? I’ve had a bit of a stop-start situation with reading this month and I’ve managed just four books with two rereads but I’ve finally finished off a series I’ve been meaning to for ages which I’m pleased about. There has also been some brilliant bookish news this month what with the beautiful Finale secret covers being revealed by Hodderscape, which will be sold by Waterstones (click here to see the hidden covers!), and the news that The Cosy Reader will be releasing her first book in 2020! It’s entitled, The Girl with Two Shadows and is a feminist middle grade book which will be published by Puffin – you can find out more about it here!

I love good news in the bookish community 😀

So here’s what I’ve been reading this February:

The Cruel PrinceImage result for the cruel prince

Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Pages: 370
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was a reread for me before I got stuck into the sequel, The Wicked King, that had come out last month. I have to say, I remember reading it last time and thinking it was good but not quite getting the massive hype around it and I actually gave it five stars the first time I read it. However this time, on reflection, I realised I did enjoy it but it wasn’t a favourite of mine and so I changed my rating to four. It was still a good read but it wasn’t quite that amazing for me.

 

The Wicked KingImage result for the wicked king

Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Pages: 322
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This took a very different turn for me and whilst I was left excited at the prospect of what would happen in the sequel, this book left me feeling a little… despondent. The romance I was hoping to bloom didn’t really get started and the ending was not what I was expecting at all. I’ve realised Cardan is a massive moron and there’s nothing grey about his character at all! I’m not sure where it’s going to go in the next book but I’m still intrigued to find out.

 

The Crown’s GameImage result for the crown's game

Author: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 407
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Another reread and I am so glad I reread this before getting stuck into The Crown’s Fate because I had forgotten how good this book is! I love the characters in it and all the glorious magic; set in Imperial Russia, it’s about a game to the death between two enchanters, in a land which doesn’t believe in magic anymore. I adore the writing style and I easily got lost in this enchanting world and story – it’s one I would definitely recommend!

 

The Crown’s FateImage result for the crown's fate

Author: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 417
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

The sequel which takes on a much darker shade compared to the first book. We see friendships shatter and darkness take over as Nikolai and Pasha fight for the crown each. I honestly felt that this story was completely the wrong path to go down and I think the series should have ended with the first book or the storyline for the second revised because this book fell flat for me and I was saddened with how I found this book, considering how much I loved the first. Unfortunately it wasn’t the story for me!

And there you have it! I thoroughly enjoyed rereading The Crown’s Game and it’s so good to have finally finished a duology that I’ve been meaning to, however I was disappointed with where the story went in that sequel. This month it’s onto FINALLY reading War Storm because the paperback has only just been released (and I needed it to match my other ones!) and probably reading a few contemporaries to mix it up a bit I think. I also want to read the illustrious The Priory of the Orange Tree which has just come out! I need some dragons back in my life.

What are you planning on reading in March? Let me know your suggestions!