Sunday 31 March 2019

March Wrap-Up.

My wedding is getting closer and closer, and as a result I'm finding less time to read. That's a little sad of course, but I did still manage to get through four books this month!

  1. 'The Mirror & The Maze' by Renée Ahdieh. A very short read that I didn't feel added a whole lot to the series as a whole, but it was nice to see Khalid again and briefly re-immerse myself in this world. It reminded me how much I needed to read the next book! 3/5 Stars.
  2. 'Everless' by Sara Holland. This was a recommendation from a fellow book-lover and friend and I finally got round to reading it! I enjoyed it too, though I felt that the plot had far too much going on throughout most of the book. I liked the finale though and plan to keep going with this one! 3.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'Rubyfruit Jungle' by Rita Mae Brown. This is often hailed as a coming-out classic and so, wanting to read more LGBTQ+ fiction, I gave it a go. I have to say that I was surprised by the super modern ideas and approved of most of them, especially considering when this book was written. The formula was a little repetitive though and there were a couple of bizarre plot elements and damaging stereotypes. 3.5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Crooked Kingdom' by Leigh Bardugo. Yaaaaas! Finally I finished this series and it was everything. I loved being reunited with my favourite crooks and con-artists, and seeing them develop even more! I also really love Bardugo's world-building! 5/5 Stars.

This month I read four books for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total ten.

- Thee Mirror & The Maze
- Everless
- Rubyfruit Jungle
- Crooked Kingdom

This month I read zero books for the New Release Challenge, making my yearly total two.

This month I read one book for the Finishing The Series Challenge, making my yearly total one.

- Crooked Kingdom

This month I read three books for the Diversity Reading Challenge, making my yearly total nine.

- The Mirror & The Maze
- Rubyfruit Jungle *Mini Challenge: (#ownvoices OR gender: women in male-dominated genres/non-fiction)*
- Crooked Kingdom *Mini Challenge: (#ownvoices OR gender: women in male-dominated genres/non-fiction)*

Here is the update for Pretty Deadly Blog's Bookish Bingo card.

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom; Leigh Bardugo.

What a fantastic read to finish the month with! I've been looking forward to this, particularly as it's the final book in the duology. It feels good to get through a series!

TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Crooked Kingdom
AUTHOR: Leigh Bardugo
SERIES: Six Of Crows (#2)
PUBLISHER: Vintage Digital
PAGES: 536
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets - a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

What I Liked:
  • I had missed these characters so much, especially Kaz and Inej! It was so good to read them again, and I really felt that Bardugo put a lot of work into making them the gang that we know and love while finding new facets to their personalities and uncovering more backstory for each! She certainly gave Jesper and Wylan a little more attention, which was nice to read.
  • The OTPs in this book are my absolute favourite and I had mostly been looking forward to seeing more of Kaz and Inej (and they did have some super great moments). But I was pleasantly surprised by how much more I fell for Wylan and Jesper!
  • I also found a whole new appreciation for the world-building in this series. 'The Grisha Trilogy' was very much focused on Ravka, while this book was based entirely in Ketterdam but revealed so much more about the rest of the countries and the politics between them.
What I Disliked:
  • I only felt disappointed in one thing within this book, and that was how little we got to see of Dunyasha! She was so spectacular, and no sooner had she been introduced, then she was gone again! I'd have really liked to see more of her.
Overall Conclusion:
I loved the finale to this little series, much more so than 'The Grisha Trilogy'. I think this was mainly because the characters are so spot on here! Thank you Bardugo for including so much representation in this book too - PoC characters, LGBTQ+ rep, educationally and physically disabled MCs, I loved them all! Every character was SO loveable and had flaws too and that made them complex and wonderful to read. Also, Kaz scheming is my FAVOURITE thing.

Monday 25 March 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (18th March - 24th March)...

It's been a pretty busy week for me, namely because outside of working I did two very exciting and amazing things! Firstly, I'm working on a super exciting project with a talented artist and friend of mine and we are collaborating to create a WEB-COMIC! I'm super pumped for this and I've been wanting to do something like this for some time. I won't reveal too much - other than we have great plans for plenty of representation of all kinds!

Also, I am currently undertaking a career experience in which I liaise with charities and non-profits, and organise groups of volunteers to help out at various events around London. Sunday 24th was my first ever one, for the charity We Are Beams, and we had a great time! I'm extremely proud of myself and those that attended with me and can't wait to do more to aid non-profits and make the world a better place.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying' by Marie Kondo: Gift (19/03/19)
- 'They/Them/Their' by Eris Young: NetGalley (20/03/19)
- 'Trans Power' by Juno Roche: NetGalley (20/03/19)

I Posted...

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Spring TBR List

Friday 22 March 2019

Book Review: Rubyfruit Jungle; Rita Mae Brown.

Another chosen read for the Podcast, and this one was certainly very different to my usual read. I don't read too many modern classics, especially set in the seventies, and I can't recall any recently that were LGBTQ+ fiction. 

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Rubyfruit Jungle
AUTHOR: Rita Mae Brown
PUBLISHER: Vintage Digital
PAGES: 242
GENRE: Classics, LGBT+, Adult Fiction

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

Molly Bolt is a young lady with a big character. Beautiful, funny and bright, Molly figures out at a young age that she will have to be tough to stay true to herself in 1950s America. 

In her dealings with boyfriends and girlfriends, in the rocky relationship with her mother and in her determination to pursue her career, she will fight for her right to happiness. Charming, proud and inspiring, Molly is the girl who refuses to be put in a box.

What I Liked:
  • I really liked the MC, Molly. Lesbian MCs are hard to come by, but even more so, I really enjoyed her sense of humour (even if it was a little dated) and her stubborn, spunky attitude. She wasn't afraid to stand up for her dreams or her sexuality, and I really admired that about her!
  • I also liked some of the emotional parts of this book. Honestly, the scene towards the end between Molly and Carrie was pretty heartstring-tugging and I really liked the way that it was written. The book felt pretty ahead of it's time in the way that it portrayed Molly's coming out story and her feminist ideologies.
What I Disliked:
  • I guess I felt that it was a bit weird that every girl that Molly met was also a lesbian. Not just a lesbian, but a lesbian stereotype. And some of them were a little damaging, while others - such as the homophobic mother with strange role-play fetishes and a desire to sleep with her daughter - were just perplexing! This is where things still felt a bit dated in this book, and some of the dub-con sexual situations had me feeling pretty uncomfortable.
Overall Conclusion:
The 1970s wasn't all that long ago, and even so this book was oddly modern in some of it's ideas, and truly dated in others. I found that Brown flitted between creating some truly refreshing complex characters, and falling heavily into cringeworthy stereotypes. I found that the plot lacked a little bit too with no real ending (the book just sort of...stopped). It had a lot of personality though, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much this read appealed to me considering that I don't read a lot like it!

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books On My Spring TBR List'.

I love seasonal TBRs! They are, without a doubt, my favourite Top Ten Tuesday topics to fill out! Without further ado, here's my picks for Spring 2019.

1) 'Fierce, Fragile Hearts' by Sara Barnard.

Yay, a new book by Sara Barnard! I'm a huge fan of her books and I love the idea of a sequel to 'Beautiful, Broken Things' which was her debut and a book I loved. I can't wait to catch up with Caddy and co!

2) 'Starfish' by Akemi Dawn Bowman.

I love diverse books and I'm looking forward to reading this one! The MC is half-Japanese, and my upcoming wedding has me very excited for my 2020 Honeymoon there so I want to read more books that reference Japanese culture!

3) 'Shadow Of The Fox' by Julie Kagawa.

Speaking of Japan, this book has plenty of references to mythology and culture from the country and I'm super excited to read it! I've never read any of Kagawa's books before so I'm hoping this is a good one to start with.

4) 'Last Bus To Everland' by Sophie Cameron.

I adored reading Cameron's debut 'Out Of The Blue' last year and I can't wait to read her second book 'Last Bus To Everland'! I love retellings, and this LGBT+ of the story of Peter Pan looks especially intriguing!

5) 'And The Mountains Echoed' by Khaled Hosseini.

I received this for my birthday last year, and my sister has always recommended for me to read Khaled Hosseini's books! I can't wait to get stuck in, even though I'm 99% sure it will make me cry.

6) 'Illuminae' by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff.

'The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet' by Becky Chambers really has me hankering for some more good YA sci-fi, and I'm hoping to find it here. I've heard really great things about this series!

7) 'The Astonishing Colour Of After' by Emily X.R. Pan.

This book was also a book I'd hoped to get round to a number of times last year, but it never happened. It really feels like a springtime read though so I'm hoping to get to it in the next few months.

8) 'Persephone's Orchard' by Molly Ringle.

The Goddess of Spring certainly deserves to have a retelling of her relationship with Hades read in her season! And whose better than Molly Ringle's, whose 'The Goblins Of Bellwater' I loved.

9) 'The Surface Breaks' by Louise O'Neill.

I love retellings. I love 'The Little Mermaid'. And I love discovering new authors. I get to all three here and I'm super excited! I've heard so many great things about this book too.

10) 'Paper Butterflies' by Lisa Heathfield.

Another new author to discover, I've heard a ton of great things about Lisa Heathfield's work! This book looks like it's going to be heartbreaking and make me super emotional as it covers some pretty hard topics. But I am trying to get better at reading books like this, so fingers crossed I can manage this one!

Monday 18 March 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (11th March - 17th March)...

This week has been pretty awful for me because I am SO ILL. Honestly, the flu just did not want to end! Ugh! I'll keep this short because I'm resting in bed in the hopes that I'll feel better tomorrow, but it did leave me time to do some reading this week and I did briefly return to work on Saturday to receive good news - I got the job I applied for last week! Yay!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Priory Of The Orange Tree' by Samantha Shannon: Bought (12/03/19)

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Book Review: Everless; Sara Holland.

I finally got round to reading for this book, inspired by my friend in New Zealand begging me to get to it ASAP. It has been a little while since I've read a book like this, especially purely based on a friend's recommendation, so that was kind of fun!

SOURCE: Gift/NetGalley
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Everless
AUTHOR: Sara Holland
SERIES: Everless (#1)
PUBLISHER: Hatchette Children's Group
PAGES: 368
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

What I Liked:

  • The concepts in this book are really cool - especially the idea of time being a form of currency and the class war that creates! The book almost posed itself as a Dystopian, and yet it was actually much more fantastical with it's own folklore, magic and myth. It felt very fresh as a result.
  • I liked the finale of this book! It was certainly very intense, with plenty of twists and turns, and I liked that the author didn't hold back on the shock factor either. I'm still invested in the series as a result!
What I Disliked:
  • The plot felt a bit disorganised at times. There was so much build with an absolute ton of sub-plots that didn't really contribute to the end, nor did they really add a whole lot? Up until the final chapters, it all felt a bit messy and it wasn't helped by the fact that there was just a bit too much exposition and over-explaining.
  • Jules, the MC, was a little lacklustre for me. She didn't have a whole lot of personality and that was a bit of a problem for me as it meant that I didn't really feel invested in her, nor did I feel convinced by the relationships she built with the characters around her.
Overall Conclusion:
This was a bit of a mixed bag for me. It's definitely my cup of tea world-building wise as there were so many original elements and fresh takes on beloved fantasy tropes. I particularly liked the time-blood stuff! Super cool! I just wish that the story had been a bit better organised and that I'd liked the MC a bit more. I'm still invested in the series after such a dramatic finale though, and hopefully there won't be so much exposition next book!

Monday 11 March 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (4th March - 10th March)...

It has been a pretty dull week for me, save only for Tuesday which was Pancake Day! I actually really love Pancake Day, Mat and I always make them to Rusted Roots's 'Send Me On My Way' which any Matilda fan will tell you is the ultimate pancake making song.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'Archenemies' by Marissa Meyer: NetGalley (04/03/19)
- 'Rubyfruit Jungle' by Rita Mae Brown: Bought (10/03/19)

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Mini Review: The Mirror & The Maze; Renée Ahdieh.

I really just wanted something little to read to start the month strong, and this was my choice! It's a small novella based around the finale of 'The Wrath & The Dawn'.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: The Mirror & The Maze
AUTHOR: Renée Ahdieh
SERIES: The Wrath & The Dawn (#1.5)
PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books For Young Readers
GENRE: Short Story, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

RATING: 3/5 Stars

The city of Rey is burning. With smoke billowing, fires blazing and his people fleeing, Khalid races back to defend his city, and protect his queen. But Khalid is too late to do either. He and his men arrive to find the city in ruins, nothing but a maze of destruction, and Shahrzad is gone. 

But who could have wrought such devastation? Khalid fears he may already know the answer, the price of choosing love over the people of Rey all too evident.

Overall Conclusion:
This short story served as a pretty good reminder of the events of 'The Wrath & The Dawn', and told from Khalid's perspective which was a new set of eyes to view the finale from. But other than that, this didn't really serve much of a purpose. It was incredibly short and didn't really add anything new. It was nice to enjoy some more of Ahdieh's writing though.

Monday 4 March 2019

Last Week's Shenanigans (25th February - 3rd March)...

It has been a long week at work and I'm pretty tired out to be honest. I'm going to keep this short, but I am actually pleased that February finished so quickly! Even though it is really starting to kick in how close the wedding is and that there's still a lot to do, I'm super excited for it!

I Read...

I Received...

- 'The Lost Coast' by Amy Rose Capetta: NetGalley (25/02/19)
- 'Shadow Of The Fox' by Julie Kagawa: NetGalley (26/02/19)
- 'Once & Future' by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy: NetGalley (26/02/19)
- 'Summer Bird Blue' by Akemi Dawn Bowman: NetGalley (26/02/19)
- 'Wolf Light' by Yaba Badoe: NetGalley (01/03/19)
- 'Grave Mercy' by Robin LaFevers: NetGalley (01/03/19)

I Posted...

February Wrap-Up
Planned Reads for March

Friday 1 March 2019

Planned Reads For March.

There are still a lot of reads from last month that I'm desperate to get to, so I'll be putting them on this month's list! I do also have a couple of other reads this month that I'm looking forward to getting into!

Sara Holland's 'Everless' has been on my TBR forever, and I know the friend that is desperate for me to read it is so disappointed in me for keep putting it off so enough is enough. I am not reading anything else until this book is read!

As soon as I'm done with 'Everless', I will be moving straight onto Leigh Bardugo's 'Crooked Kingdom' which I have been super excited about reading forever. I can't wait to finish this duology and hopefully love this book as much as the first one!

I received this next book as a gift for Christmas and am absolutely head-over-heels in love with the cover. A book about the undead and necromancy with a sugary sweet pink colour scheme is absolutely my aesthetic! 'Reign Of The Fallen' by Sarah Glenn Marsh looks amazing, and I'm particularly excited about this one.

This is also hopefully the month that I'll get to read two of my most anticipate 2019 reads - the first being 'Enchantée' by Gita Trelease! The french revolution, mixed with magic? Amazing! I'm all about the court intrigue and dash of romance that I'm sure to find in these pages!

The second hotly anticipated 2019 release is of course Samantha Shannon's 'The Priory Of The Orange Tree' because everything about this book looks breath-taking. Epic fantasies are my jam and this one is written by a woman so I'm excited to read this!

'Rubyfruit Jungle' by Rita Mae-Brown is deemed to be one of the coming out books, and it was suggested by a friend of mine, whom I record a podcast with. It's actually one of our chosen reads. I'm certainly intrigued, and definitely in the mood for something classic to bury my nose in.

I love Sara Barnard's books. We all know this. 'Fierce Fragile Hearts' is actually a sequel (of sorts) to 'Beautiful Broken Things', her debut! I really adored that first book and look forward to continuing Suzanne, Caddy and Rosie's stories!

I love a good mystery now and again and so Kimberly McCreight's book 'The Outliers' looks awesome! It involves telepathy, being on the run, cryptic clues and a missing friend, but other than that I don't know an awful lot about this book. I have to say though, it has some pretty mixed reviews so I'm hoping it's as good as it sounds!

I also thought I'd take the time to highlight Pretty Deadly Blog's new Bookish Bingo card! Running from March to May there are some awesome categories here! I look forward to joining in.