What She Found in the Woods ARC Review

What She Found in the WoodsImage result for what she found in the woods

Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: Macmillan
Pages: 367
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Running from a scandal at her New York private school, Magdalena heads to her family home to recover under the radar.

Over-medicated and under-confident, she’s fearful she’ll never escape her past.

Until she meets Bo out hiking. Wild, gorgeous and free, he makes her believe she might finally be able to move on.

But when a mutilated body is discovered in the woods, Magdalena realises she can’t trust anyone.

Not even herself.”

I won an ARC copy of this book at YALC this year and the premise sounded so interesting! I love to read a thriller every now and then but it isn’t a genre I like to read too much of. With the month of Halloween, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to read What She Found in the Woods to feel sufficiently creeped out.

Starting off with Magdalena moving in with her grandparents, it’s clear she has a past which involved her doing something unforgivable, and she’s moved to get away from it all but it’s obvious from the start that it still haunts her. Magda takes off to the woods for a hike one day and here she meets a strange fellow, and one she can’t seem to stop thinking about. But with people going missing and a body turning up in the woods, perhaps it isn’t the safest place for Magda to dwell.

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What struck me about this book is that it starts off really quite slow and it takes ages for things to happen. Magda moves in with her grandparents and meets up with some friends from her childhood, and there are a few little hints dropped that things aren’t quite right as we learn someone has gone missing.

Magda goes out on a hike and meets someone in the woods and is instantly enamoured. But then a body is found and shivers run down your spine as suddenly the story is taking a dark turn.

But for the majority of the middle portion of the book, not a lot happened at all and I felt like I was waiting for something to happen. It’s a very slow build and it’s like you get flickers of tension like when the body is found, or Magda’s journal is mentioned – her journal is a massive subject of this story.

What I really did enjoy are the flashbacks to Magda’s past and we learn what she did and how she ended up moving in with her grandparents and allllll about that journal of hers. These were the more shocking bits, especially when Magda is in hospital and we discover the extent of the weapon that is her journal.

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This book is a bit of a murder mystery but also a delve into the human mind and what it’s capable of.

When we reach the last quarter of the book, this is where things really start to happen and it’s like the story is ramped up a gear and the story throws everything it has at you. Suddenly, everything happens at once and you don’t really get chance to take a breath before the next thing happens. After all of that build-up, it ends in an unexpected and dramatic conclusion making it a worthy thriller.

Not quite what I expected, this story requires a bit of dedication to get through, but the ending is worth it for the answers!

Due out 25th July 2020, keep this on your radar for a creepy read for next Halloween!

 

 

The Places I’ve Cried in Public Book Review

The Places I’ve Cried in PublicImage result for the places i've cried in public

Author: Holly Bourne
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Pages: 368
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Amelie loved Reese. And she thought he loved her. But she’s starting to realise love isn’t supposed to hurt like this. So now she’s retracing their story and untangling what happened by revisiting all the places he made her cry.

Because if she works out what went wrong, perhaps she can finally learn to get over him.”

 

I am a huge fan of Holly Bourne and I love everything she writes so I was super excited to delve into her latest book. But this one was so different when compared to her previous work, not only in the layout and format, but with the style and tone of writing. It’s obvious from the title that this isn’t going to be a happy story and I was prepared for some serious issues to be raised and a sombre read, but there were no light moments to lift your spirits – unusual for a Holly Bourne book which normally explores serious topics with a sprinkling of wit and humour for a lighter read. But as I read on with The Places I’ve Cried in Public, it became darker and darker and was far from the author’s usual story telling.

The story is split in two and they run parallel alongside each other with the present day Amelie reflecting on her past, and her relationship with Reese who is a guy she just met at college. She visits places she has cried in public and tries to figure out where and why the relationship went wrong, but it soon becomes evident that this was no normal loving relationship.

Amelie’s past with Reese starts off in a giddy romance with grand gestures and startling charisma, but as the past reveals itself and we see more of Amelie and Reese together, little snide comments drip in and suggestions and hurtful comments that soon make you realise what’s going on and this isn’t going to end well.

It was quite spine-chilling to read the past and see just how easily Reese turned Amelie’s mind against itself till she thought she was actually going crazy. He dropped comments that were subtle enough to go unnoticed by her at the time but powerful enough to stay with Amelie until she was suddenly doing all she could to please Reese and apologising for things she hadn’t done. It was quite horrific to read as I saw this character crumble and shatter all due to this pathetic boy who thought he could do as he pleased.

It was so hard to believe the girl from the beginning was the same as the one being slowly chipped away at by Reese. I found myself torn between thinking Amelie was stupid for not realising what was going on, but then I saw how easily succumbed she got when fantasy was made real and presented itself before her, bow and all. Reese was so charming to begin with and did anything to please Amelie and make her happy – who wouldn’t grab that with both hands? But when she was apologising over and over to him and cutting her friends out of her life just so she could please Reese, I thought she was delusional for not realising what he was doing.

Then I read an interesting bit between Amelie and her counsellor, Joan which said something about a person becoming addicted to another and to the relationship and what it was like initially. She spoke about Stockholm Syndrome and it was shocking to realise that in the short time frame of a few months in which Amelie and Reese were together, he had managed to create all of this with a person he just met.

The Places I’ve Cried in Public was honestly a truly upsetting story because I saw this girl get pulled down and under by this stupid guy and he ends up destroying a part of herself she has to slowly learn to rebuild. And what does he get? There’s no satisfying ending where we see the villain punished because this isn’t a fairy tale – it’s real life and these things happen to people over and over. It make me despair for the men and women out there that have had a piece of themselves crushed by another and once that piece has grown back, it will never be the same again, all because of this horrid person and what they did.

It’s a devastating story of how in just a few months, your life can be shattered and you never saw it coming. It warned me that there are skilful liars and manipulators out there and all it takes is for them to find you at the wrong time. Perhaps you’ve just broken up with someone, or a dear friend has passed and you’re grieving, or maybe life isn’t going your way and you’re vulnerable – whatever it is, it’s enough room for that horrid person to wheedle themselves into your life and let maliciousness take sprout.

It left me feeling very melancholy, especially with the last page where Amelie realises that she’ll never be the same girl again after what happened with Reese and my heart breaks for all the people out there that have experienced something similar in their relationships.

Prepare yourself for a heartbreaking story that is only too real in this day and age. Look after yourself and remember that you should never be made to do something intimate that you don’t want to do. Beware the charismatic good-looking stranger and if your friend warns you about them, LISTEN. Take care of yourself.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book Review

Daughter of Smoke and BoneImage result for daughter of smoke and bone

Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (2012)
Pages: 420
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.”

The premise of this book was super intriguing and I thought this would be a book that I instantly fell in love with which, of course, I did. Set in Prague, I loved the atmosphere in the first few chapters as we got to know Karou and her life at college. There’s wit and a brilliant voice to the story even written in the third person, and it was great to see a fantasy novel set in the modern day with modern day problems. One such problem of Karou’s is that she has a secret life as a tooth collector for Brimstone who lives in Elsewhere.

Brimstone who happens to be a chimera, is sort of Karou’s boss but also kind of her adopted father and it makes for a rather peculiar relationship which isn’t out of place in the book. In fact, the whole book is one big peculiar story as we meet more chimera and suddenly angels are introduced! I found Daughter of Smoke and Bone a very strange book indeed.

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I’ve read Laini Taylor’s other book series, Strange the Dreamer, and I absolutely adored her style of writing and the characters and story she created – it was superb. What I found with Daughter of Smoke and Bone however is that it was a bit less descriptive with more focus on plot compared to description and setting the scene than in Strange. Relationships aren’t slowly built in DOSAB either with a certain relationship between two characters going at a swift pace. It was strange to read a book without that slow build when new characters are introduced, but it was totally in keeping with this whirlwind of a story.

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Strange was delectable to read and oozed outstanding imagery and detail whereas DOSAB is more fast-paced and erratic, with characters constantly popping in an out of the story and the plot flitting between the present day and past memories.

If Karou’s life isn’t crazy enough with collecting teeth for Brimstone, things get a lot weirder when angels come out to play. Suddenly, the doors to Elsewhere where Brimstone dwells are ripped away from Karou and she finds help from an unlikely source. There’s a crucial bit where we finally get to find something out that has been hidden from us and the protagonist, but it’s stolen from us in the form of a series of flashbacks which I found really good but also a bit long and it was like reading another story altogether.

This book was just one of the most confusing books I’ve ever read with this being me a lot of the time while reading it:

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However, this series clearly has a divide between two peoples and there were lots of profound quotes and similarities drawn to war and how dangerous hatred and endless bile can be. There are some very memorable quotes in this book and I love the different sections split up with a short sharp sentence that you think has nothing to do with the story, but really it has everything to do with it.

It was an interesting reading experience and I think there’s a lot more to come from this story of angels and devils and I’m keen to see where it goes! I’m currently reading my way through the second book in this trilogy, Days of Blood and Starlight and I’m hoping it will provide me with some answers and more excellent plot.

“Have you ever asked yourself, do monsters make war, or does war make monsters?”

-Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone

ARC review: The Loop

The LoopImage result for the loop ben oliver

Author: Ben Oliver
Publisher: Chicken House
Pages: 363
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥
Expected date of publication: 5 May 2020

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Luka Kane will die in the Loop, a prison under the control of artificial intelligence.

Delays to his execution are granted if Luka submits to medical experiments. Escape is made impossible by a detonator sewn into his heart.

But on Luka’s seventeenth birthday, life in the Loop is altered: the government-issued rain stops falling and rumours of unrest start to spread. Breaking out might be his only chance to survive… and to stop a catastrophe from deleting humankind.”

I managed to win an ARC copy of this book at YALC this year and I was immediately taken in by the quote that was included on the front cover of my copy: “This will pierce a hole through the right atrium of your heart… It will track your movements. It will connect you to the loop, and, most importantly, it will detonate and will kill you if you step out of line.

What a quote to entice a reader! I liked the sound of the book and I was in the mood for a bit of a thriller read so I picked it up and I’m so glad I did.

Initially, the scene is set and you come to understand life in the Loop where things are constant and expected and very, very monotonous and mundane. Luka Kane is a great main character and I liked his personality with his don’t look back and just keep moving attitude to everything that happens to him. Even though he is segregated from his fellow prison mates, he still manages to make friends and meets up with them thanks to his friendly Warden.

So we learn about the Loop and I especially appreciated the one sentence chapters in quick succession to reiterate that Luka Kane does the same thing every day, just like his prison mates. I started to wonder where the story would go and as soon as I thought that, something happens.

The pace changes, the tension creeps in, and suddenly this isn’t about life in the Loop anymore. Luka Kane has to battle through darkness of more than one kind, and he soon discovers that if he wants to survive, he will have to make brutal decisions.

I couldn’t believe how tense I felt reading this book when things take a different turn – it really felt like watching a scary movie but you don’t know what’s coming or what’s going to happen. I thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of reading The Loop and being surprised and shocked when certain things happen, but when it came to the reveal at the end with regards to why anything in the book happened, I have to say it fell a little flat for me. I had a certain expectation or hope for which direction the story would go, and I just felt disappointed with where it went. But I think that is purely personal preference and what I prefer to read over what someone else might absolutely love. That being said, I still liked this book regardless of my feelings over the ending and I’m still keen to see where the story goes.

The Loop is the first in a futuristic trilogy written by Ben Oliver. With The Maze Runner vibes, it’s the next dystopian thriller to have on your list to read.

Sherwood Book Review

SherwoodImage result for sherwood meagan spooner

Author: Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 470
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley and Marian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.”

From the author that brought us the Beauty and the Beast retelling, Hunted, this latest release is a Robin Hood retelling where Lady Marian becomes the legend. I absolutely loved Hunted and couldn’t wait to read Sherwood so when I found a copy at YALC, I had to buy it and this has been my favourite book I’ve read in August. But before I begin, can we take a moment to appreciate this front cover? Not only does it match a similar style to Hunted (I just want to clarify that this isn’t a sequel to Hunted) but I adore the rain and gloomy appearance on this cover with its cosy autumnal feel, making for a perfect book to read this autumn.

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As I’ve said, this isn’t a sequel to Hunted so you don’t have to have read this before reading Sherwood, but they are both retellings and so both come under the umbrella of a series, hence the similarly designed front covers and layout of the books. Where Hunted flicked between Beauty and the Beast’s points of view, Sherwood alternates between Marian’s present day and a past memory she shares of Robin. These flashbacks were super cute and gave us a glimpse of how their friendship formed and how much Robin influenced Marian in her life, and vice versa.

We start off knowing that Robin of Locksley is dead and a part of me thought this was maybe going to go in a different direction and I thought we might only hear news of his death, but we do actually read the moment he died so it’s quite firmly planted into the story with no room for the legendary hero to come back and save the day. Enter Marian who takes up the mantel instead and I thought the lead and build-up to this was done at a suitable pace, making for a more believable and understandable Robin Hood character.

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There’s a brilliant protagonist and an equally fantastic antagonist as Marian battles against Guy of Gisborne who works for the Sheriff, to steal from the rich and help bring food for the poor. It’s the story of Robin Hood that we know and love, but from an interesting angle as a woman being behind the legend instead.

Marian was a fearless character and totally loyal to her friends which is how Robin Hood is born, through Marian saving a friend. There’s an evolution to her character as Marian realises she could do more for Robin’s people and starts stealing from the rich to give to the poor. I really enjoyed reading her escapades dressed in her dear Robin’s cloak and bringing about some justice for the poor, and I especially loved the idea that it was in fact Marian that was better at shooting arrows than Robin, again displaying the idea that a woman could do it just as good as a man.

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This book had a good feminist attitude with Marian and her friend Elena disguising themselves as men and finally being accepted by their male friends when they reveal their identities, even though it takes some of them a little time to come to terms with. They are both such good characters that won’t let men stand in their way or hide at the side rather than help fight for justice; I also loved their friendship and trust in each other.

The writing in this book is crisp and beautiful with the right amount of description to contrast against action-packed scenes. However this was one of those books that I really had no idea where the ending would go and I couldn’t have guessed it if I tried, so I was taken by surprise with how the story ended and it’s up for you to decide if you like it or not! I think going into this book, I had an idea in mind with how it would end but it went in a totally different direction, and that’s what I love about reading stories for the first time  – you just don’t know how they will end!

A gorgeous book that is perfect to read this autumn. If you love the legend of Robin Hood, then be sure to read this whilst wrapped up in a jumper with the rain tapping the windows – you can thank me later.

“Who are you to say that being a lady, in itself, is not its own kind of war.”

– Meagan Spooner, Sherwood

What Magic is This? Book Review

What Magic is This?Image result for what magic is this holly bourne

Author: Holly Bourne
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Pages: 152
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Sophia, Mia and Alexis are clinging on to a spark of hope that maybe – just maybe – they’re special. But could they really be witches with the power to cast life-changing spells? When the three friends gather to cheer up heartbroken Sophia, they’re ready to put their theory to the test. But when long-held secrets are revealed and hard truths start to hit home, their night of bewitching quickly takes an unexpected turn…”

I picked this book up at YALC so I could get it signed by Holly Bourne and I finally read is the other week and of course I loved it! What Magic is This? is a novella about three high school friends that come together one night to try and cast a spell to improve an aspect of each of their lives. It’s a book about friendship and the magic that it brings.

This novella is actually a dyslexia-friendly book with a large and simple text for an easy-to-read format and with no complex language. I thought this was a great idea because some books I’ve read in the past have had very small fonts or long passages of italic text, which even I find hard to read sometimes, so it must be really difficult for people with dyslexia. I’ve even been put off reading some books due to the format of the text inside (for example if it’s too small) so I really hope more publishers think about increasing the size of the text in future publications to make for an easier reading experience and open up to a larger audience.

The story inside however was every bit as brilliant as a Holly Bourne novel. The three friends reminded me of the three from the Spinster trilogy with an outgoing one, a shy/secretive one, and the one in the middle as the narrator. Magic is a recurring theme in this book be it real or not, but I think the inclusion of magic was brilliant and not what I was expecting.

If you want a quick and easy read to get stuck into and lose yourself for an evening, then pick up this beautiful novella about the magic of friendship and remind yourself of what’s important in life.

 

The Channeler Book Review

The ChannelerImage result for the channeler jenna ryan

Author: Jenna Ryan
Publisher: TCK Publishing
Pages: 240
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Caleb Swift knows he’s a complicated guy. He sees the unseeable: winged beings that haunt both his dreams and his waking visions. He knows the unknowable: horrifying visions of countless unspeakable futures he feels powerless to prevent. And if that weren’t bad enough, these potent revelations might be driving him insane. Who needs that kind of trouble?

Not Caleb. He’s doing his best to live a totally uncomplicated life, to ignore the visions of doom that hound him relentlessly. But no matter what he does, one particular vision still plagues him. The one with the girl. The girl who’s in mortal danger (or will be soon). The girl only he can save.

Now Caleb has a choice. To ignore his gift, to live the ordinary life he so desperately desires, even if it means letting her die… Or to act. To interfere. To become extraordinary. And let one girl’s future turn his present completely upside-down.”

I was sent this as an ARC e-copy in exchange for a review.

The first page instantly grabbed my attention with Caleb’s over-thoughtfulness and it was great to see the main character in their early twenties, which is often neglected in YA with a lot of protagonists mainly in their teens. I was pretty much sold on Caleb’s character from the off because of how similar some of his thoughts are to mine, and I loved how ordinary he seemed but with this extraordinary power to glimpse the future.

What would you do if you could see the future? Heed it as a warning? Try to prevent it? Well Caleb has tried everything but in the end, he opts for denial that a certain vision will happen, even when he meets the one person involved in the vision as they become a dear friend to him.

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When will these clairvoyants ever learn? Being able to see the future has always intrigued me as a superpower because surely it’s not that useful? You’d just know before everyone else what will happen but if you try to avoid it or prevent it from happening, it will find another course. It’s always the way! You can’t stop it from happening once you’ve seen it. I think I’d much prefer mind-reading or invisibility.

Anyway back to Caleb, he’s a guy at college with a brilliantly supportive friend and aunt, having lost his mother a long time ago and never knowing who he father was. He also has another secret along with his clairvoyance and that’s his angel-like friend, Gabe, who appears to Caleb in times of need like when he’s wounded physically or mentally. He acts like his guardian angel who watches over him and I have to admit that would be pretty cool to have – someone who appears when you really need someone completely out of the loop and can look at your problems objectively and offer support.

But what I loved about this book were the amazing friendships that have a foundation of trust and never waver. They developed throughout the story and it felt so genuine which was great to see because so many books it’s either insta-love or you become friends out of great peril, but the friendships in this book just grew with time. They trusted each other and talked things through rather than bottling it up and were there for each other.

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I thought the plot was good if not a little predictable at times but I honestly didn’t see one thing coming and I was pleasantly shocked! For me, the writing was a little simple with not enough description (I love description) to really immerse me into the story, but that’s just personal preference.

However I LOVED the portrayal of Caleb’s romantic relationship in this book because it shows what a guy should do – he asks before presuming, takes thing at both their paces and is just plain kind and thoughtful which was beautiful. You read about and see in movies so many guys that just grab the woman’s head and kisses them, leaving them no choice if they want to pull away, but watching this relationship unfold was so sweet and so different from what I read/see in stories these days. So I’m very glad this was included.

It was a tricky book to rate because I was toying between three and four stars, but I decided in the end that I liked it, not really liked it which was the difference for me. Though I am really keen to read what happens next so I’m looking forward to the sequel!

If you’re looking for a book set in the modern present day world with a bit of a supernatural feel to it and are prepared to read some very adorable friendships, then give The Channeler a go!

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Book Review

A Thousand Beginnings and EndingsImage result for a thousand beginnings and endings

Author: Ellen Oh (editor), Elsie Chapman (editor)
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 336
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“Sixteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman—who both contributed stories to this edition, as well—the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish.”

This anthology of Asian myths and legends features some well-known authors whose books I have read and enjoyed, as well as some authors I had not come across before. It’s set in the style of a retelling followed by a short explanation from the author regarding the origin and inspiration behind their retelling, introducing me to some legends I had never heard of! I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories and I’m pleased to say I enjoyed more of the stories than not, which is always a concern when reaching for an anthology – but not in this case!

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings starts off strong with Roshani Chokshi’s Forbidden Fruit story and while it dips in the middle for me, I thought there was a great variety of retellings so there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy from fantasy and magic to ghosts and vampires, and of course the inevitable android story.

Here is a list of the stories with their respective authors and my mini rating for each:

  • Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Smile by Aisha Saeed ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Nothing Into All by Renée Ahdieh ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar ♥ ♥ ♥
  • The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

My favourite stories were probably Forbidden FruitOlivia’s TableNothing Into All, and Eyes Like Candlelight but there are elements of the other stories that I really enjoyed, particularly one passage in Spear Carrier. I also really enjoyed where some of the retellings went compared to the myth and the author’s individual take on such a story. I especially liked the different cultures embedded into each story and even though I had to do a bit of googling – mainly for different types of clothes – I still loved reading the stories.

I really recommend this anthology of Asian myths and legends and adding this diverse book to your TBR because you won’t be disappointed! I would love to see a sequel to this anthology done be it by the same authors or new ones – it’s such a fantastic idea and it was executed very well.

Flame in the Mist Book Review

Flame in the MistGuest Post: Renee Ahdieh on FLAME IN THE MIST | The Young ...

Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Pages: 392
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

“The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.”

This book has been sat on my TBR shelf for ages and I really don’t know why – I absolutely loved Renée’s The Wrath and the Dawn duology so I was sure to like this new Mulan-retelling duology and of course I did! It’s a Mulan-retelling! Need I say more? This book was lavish in Japanese culture as we follow the story of Meriko who infiltrates the mysterious Black Clan in order to find out who orchestrated her murder.

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Meriko is a great character and I loved how we saw her evolve throughout the book – she doesn’t start off as a great fighter or really seem to get things right to begin with, but she learns and adapts making for a more realistic and interesting story. She calculates her chance of survival with certain choices and weighs them up against caring for her family. It was so much like the Mulan we know and the big moment when she cuts her hair is just as great in the book – when she makes that choice and follows through.

There were so many Mulan moments like bathing in a lake and nearly being discovered, proving her worth through intelligence rather than brute strength, but the best was the mantra:

“As swift as the wind. As silent as the forest. As fierce as the fire. As unshakable as the mountain.”

Who doesn’t LOVE this song?! And I loved the nod to it in the book.

What I found different to the film was Meriko’s family because they didn’t seem to really care about anyone but themselves which is unlike Mulan’s family who seemed so nice in the film. And sadly there was no Mushu in Flame in the Mist, but he isn’t needed because Meriko copes just fine on her own and the mistakes she makes pay off in the end.

Okami was a brilliant character and I can’t wait to see more of him in Smoke in the Sun and see where the story goes with the emperor and his sons. Everything seems up in the air – this is a book where the sequel demands to be read if you want answers, and I very much do so want those answers!

What I loved about this book was the gorgeous writing which was augmented by the Japanese culture that added richness to the story. A helpful glossary was included at the back to explain unfamiliar words and terms, but a lot of the time it wasn’t needed because it was explained in the story itself; it was definitely useful to further understand and immerse yourself into Meriko’s story.

Flame in the Mist is a brilliant Mulan-retelling and I can’t wait to read the sequel and find out what happens. If you love Mulan, then definitely read this, or if you’re already familiar with Renée’s The Wrath and the Dawn duology then what are you waiting for? Don’t be like me and leave it on your shelf for ages – pick it up now because you won’t regret it! Here’s a quote to leave you with which resonates so much:

“I’ve never been angry to have been born a woman. There have been times I’ve been angry at how the world treats us, but I see being a woman as a challenge I must fight. Like being born under a stormy sky. Some people are lucky enough to be born on a bright summer’s day. Maybe we were born under clouds. No wind. No rain. Just a mountain of clouds we must climb each morning so that we may see the sun.”

-Renée Ahdieh, Flame in the Mist

Wonder Woman Warbringer Book Review

Woman Woman WarbringerWonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1) by Leigh Bardugo ...

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 364
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Synopsis from goodreads:

Daughter of immortals.
Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.
Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.
Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

I saw the film Wonder Woman and loved it so when I heard that there was going to be a book published as well, and written by author of Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo, no less, I had to buy it. I snagged this gorgeous hardcover which has a signed bookplate inside, but it’s been one of those books that has been sat on my shelf for ages – I finally picked it up this month and I’m glad I did!

While it’s not a book of the film and you can read/watch whichever first, I think the author captured Diana’s attitude wonderfully and I caught glimpses of the woman this seventeen year old Diana would turn out to be in the film. Warbringer is set at an age where Diana is still unsure of herself and willing to prove who she is to her family, but saving a mortal endangers the whole world. Diana is thrown into the human world alongside the girl she saved, Alia, as they try desperately to stop major war breaking out everywhere.

Diana was such a funny character to read about as she interacted with humans and experienced new things we take for granted in our normal day-to-day life and I especially appreciated the moment she puts down a creepy guy in the street – it was brilliant! It was also really very cool for the female main character to have such strength and I loved the reactions from the other characters when she displayed her super strength. She has definitely got to be a favourite main character of mine. I also thought the other characters were well thought of and it was lovely to see how Diana’s relationship with them changed throughout the book.

Even though it was a little slow to start when we met Alia, it set the scene well and things really picked up when Diana goes to the human world. From here there was a lot more action but it was balanced against some pauses for character development, making for a thoroughly enjoyable read which came to a dramatic climax. Warbringer was one of those books that has another fifty pages or so left and you think everything is nearly wrapped up so be warned! Just when you think you’re at the end, there’s a lot more to come.