Sunday 30 June 2019

June Wrap-Up.

I really enjoyed and read so much while on my Honeymoon, and it's a good thing as the first two weeks of June were completely devoid of reading. As I chose six reads I'm pretty proud that I managed to get round to four!

  1. 'Trans Power' by Juno Roche. I liked this book for the message it gave and the education that I received. I haven't read much around the topic of transgender issues and it's something I really wanted to address. Aspects of this book made me uncomfortable - they were meant to - but I did also wish that more of a focus had been on the diverse interviewees and less on Roche's repetitive thoughts and feelings. 3/5 Stars.
  2. 'Shadow Of The Fox' by Julie Kagawa. This read like an anime, which was a slightly bizarre experience at first. But. It is an anime I would watch the s*** out of and as a result, I loved it! Samurai, demons, ronin, yokai - all of my favourite tropes were here. I totally fell in love with this. 4.5/5 Stars.
  3. 'Heartstopper [Vol. 2] by Alice Oseman. Nick & Charlie are pretty much one of my favourite pairings ever and this volume, covering chapter three of their beautiful story, is the best yet. So much fluffy, adorable goodness. This is contemporary LGBTQ+ done right and I can't wait for more! 5/5 Stars.
  4. 'Enchantée' by Gita Trelease. I totally fell for this book in a big way. It was my most anticipated read of the year and it lived up to my expectations - amazing historical detail, intriguing magic system, complex and likeable characters, and a truly rich, diverse, sparkling world. I forgave the plot pacing because of everything else! 5/5 Stars.

This month I read one book for the Beat The Backlist Challenge, making my yearly total seventeen.

- Shadow Of The Fox

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

- Trans Power
- Heartstopper [Vol. 2]
- Enchantée

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

- Heartstopper [Vol. 2]

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

- Trans Power *Mini Challenge: (LGBT Pride Summer)*
- Shadow Of The Fox
- Heartstopper [Vol. 2] *Mini Challenge: (LGBT Pride Summer)*
- Enchantée

Saturday 29 June 2019

Book Review: Enchantée; Gita Trelease.

I spent a long time leading up to reading this book but it was so worth the wait! I'm here for historical fiction mixed with a pinch of magic, and I don't read many books set during the French Revolution, so this was great!

SOURCE: ARC Sent By Publisher
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Enchantée
AUTHOR: Gita Trelease
SERIES: Enchantée (#1)
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Children's Books
PAGES: 480
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians...

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she's playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…

What I Liked:
  • The world-building was absolutely stunning. I was totally swept away by Trelease's Paris, especially whenever Camille visited the glittering Palace of Versailles to mingle with the aristocracy. She incorporated so much of 18th Century France into the pages - the lifestyle (for both rich and poor), the culture, the politics and the very intricate details. I was totally impressed at both the huge amount of research and knowledge that went into this book, and the way that Trelease wrote everything into it so effortlessly.
  • The characters were very likeable and well-crafted rather than falling into archetypes. Camille was a wonderful MC with lots of personality, and I liked that not all of the aristocrats were stereotypically rude and snobbish, nor were all of the poor the 'good guys'. I also really loved the incorporation of diversity into a historical society that would usually be written as through a purely white, straight lens. It added to the story without 'ticking boxes'.
What I Disliked:
  • The sub-plots at times felt a little too loosely connected to the overriding story and that confused the pacing for me. I enjoyed them individually but something was a little off with the combination. I did also feel that considering the very impressive build-up, the ending felt rushed and anti-climactic.
Overall Conclusion:
This book really made me smile, and it had pretty much everything I had wanted from the moment I saw this book announced. I loved the characters, adored the setting even more, and enjoyed the plot even though at times it got a little lost. I was originally drawn to this book thinking that it would be a stand-alone, but I'm now pretty glad it will be a series. There is so much potential in this version of France to see and do more! I'd love a little more detail on the intriguing magic system, and the big revelation regarding the Queen should certainly be addressed.

Monday 24 June 2019

June's Shenanigans (1st June - 23rd June)...I'm back, and a Mrs!

The hiatus is over and I am back on this blog! I've had a really lovely time away making so many special memories, but it certainly feels good to be back!

So what was I doing?

Getting married!

It has honestly been a stressful but exciting few months leading up to June 17th, but all totally worth it as our day was so beautiful and everything we had ever dreamed. I'm a little sad that it's all over, but grateful that everything worked out and I feel truly blessed to have so many friends and family members that wanted to share our big day with us. It was truly special!

We are now also on a wonderful trip away to Croatia, which is absolutely stunning!

It is lovely to get some time to ourselves after such a hectic period in our lives and I know that my mind and body really appreciate the downtime, as well as the chance for Mat and I to spend some time to ourselves.

I Read...

I Received...

- 'We Hunt The Flame' by Hafsah Faizal: NetGalley (11/06/19)
- 'All The Better Part Of Me' by Molly Ringle: NetGalley (12/06/19)
- '[Dis]Connected [Vol. 2]' cur. by Michelle Halket: NetGalley (12/06/19)
- 'The Sea Witch Rising' by Sarah Henning: NetGalley (23/06/19)
- 'Kingdom Cold' by Brittni Chenelle: NetGalley (23/06/19)

I Posted...

Planned Reads (& Hiatus) For June

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases For The Rest Of 2019

Sunday 23 June 2019

Book Review: Heartstopper (Vol. 2); Alice Oseman.

This was a really quick read for me, but a super enjoyable one! I love Nick and Charlie, and this one covers Chapter 3 of their adorable story!

SOURCE: Internet
TYPE: Web Comic

TITLE: Heartstopper
AUTHOR: Alice Oseman
SERIES: Heartstopper (Vol. #2)
PAGES: 320
GENRE: LGBT+, Graphic Novel, Web Comic, Contemporary

RATING: 5/5 Stars

Nick and Charlie are best friends. Nick knows Charlie's gay, and Charlie is sure that Nick isn't.

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is discovering all kinds of things about his friends, his family ... and himself.

Heartstopper is about friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie's lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.

This is the second volume of Heartstopper, with more to come.

What I Liked:
  • Obviously Nick & Charlie's relationship - one of my favourite pairings! I love this relationship and it got some major, squeal-worthy updates in this volume!
  • I like where the story is going, and the characters that Oseman writes! All of them are interesting, there are some super cool cameos from other books she has written, and the complexity and art style are just perfection.
What I Disliked:
  • Nothing except that it ended I guess! I'm pretty impatient and that's why Webcomics are dangerous for me! They are addictive and also there tends to be long spaces between each page.
Overall Conclusion:
This is an amazing series! The art is phenomenal, the characters so interesting and diverse, the story enjoyable and I really love the setting too as it reminded me of my own childhood. 

Saturday 22 June 2019

Book Review: Shadow Of The Fox; Julie Kagawa.

I had read a lot of mixed reviews for this one going in, but I was excited to read it because many of the reviewers compared it to anime, which I love!

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Books

TITLE: Shadow Of The Fox
AUTHOR: Julie Kagawa
SERIES: Shadow Of The Fox (#1)
PAGES: 384
GENRE: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

A single wish will spark a new dawn.

Every millennium the missing pieces of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers are hunted, for they hold the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish.

As a temple burns to the ground Yumeko escapes with its greatest treasure – the first piece of the scroll. And when fate thrusts her into the path of a mysterious samurai she knows he seeks what she has. Kage is under order to kill those who stand in his way but will he be able to complete his mission? Will this be the dawn that sees the dragon wake?

What I Liked:
  • There is just a wonderful amount of research that has gone into this book. It is rooted in Japanese historical culture and folklore, and I loved all of the yokai, amanjaku and Kami that were introduced in the book. Honestly, there were so many great characters - nobles, peasants, samurai, ronin, monks...this book had it all!
  • I really enjoyed the plot! There was an overriding arc that was very intriguing, but plenty of 'side quests' and sub-plots along the way that kept the pace up and my interest.
What I Disliked:
  • The reviews weren't wrong - this does read like an anime cartoon. for me, that was awesome! But it meant that for the first few chapters it made for a pretty weird reading style. Also, I feel like this won't be everyone's cup of tea because of it.
Overall Conclusion:

For me, this story had everything I could have wanted from it. The characters were likeable and fitted some fun tropes, the world-building was extraordinarily good, and Kagawa paced the story nicely! The anime style made for some weird reading at first, but I loved that it helped me to envision everything so clearly and I would watch this anime for sure!

Thursday 20 June 2019

Book Review: Trans Power; Juno Roche.

I want to make it clear before starting this review that this book is not aimed at me, a cis white female. So despite a fairly mediocre looking rating, this book isn't really for me to review. I read it to educate myself on trans issues, relationships and queer sex.

SOURCE: NetGalley
TYPE: E-Books

TITLE: Trans Power
AUTHOR: Juno Roche
PUBLISHER: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
PAGES: 256
GENRE: Non-Fiction, LGBTQ+, Essays

RATING: 3/5 Stars

In the follow-up to Queer Sex, her radical guide to sex, desire and dating in the trans and non-binary community, Juno Roche pushes the boundaries of trans representation even further by moving beyond themes of intimacy, pleasure and relationships and focusing on the mechanics of sex itself. 

A collection of interviews with leading figures from the trans and non-binary community, they talk about the practicalities of sex as a trans person. They discuss how trans bodies can inherently bring a range of practical issues to the bedroom and explore the wonder and potential of sex when the bodies involved are not cis. 

Reframing the discussion of trans sex in terms of empowerment and autonomy, this is a deeply personal, honest and instructive book.

What I Liked:
  • There's a lot to learn from a book like this, and I came out feeling very informed. Roche interviews a variety of people, each offering different experiences and perspectives on Trans issues, sex, relationships and genitals.
  • The tone of this book is one of raw passion and honesty which I quite liked about it. I felt very much swept up by the desperate emotion that Roche wrote this with.
What I Disliked:
  • As I am not Trans myself, elements of this book are uncomfortable. Roche is often very crude with language (lots of swears and frank descriptions of genitals) and also speaks unapologetically about how she thinks allies should support Trans people.
  • Roche clearly wrote this book with a great deal of frustration and so there is a real unedited feel about it at times, especially at the beginning. The same point is often made repeatedly, just worded slightly differently, and I found that annoying.
Overall Conclusion:
I wasn't sure I would enjoy this book at all when I started it. There was a real sense of frustration, I was a little lost in the Trans references, and I didn't like that Roche was repetitive and wrote her introduction as an almost unedited stream of consciousness. But the interviews sold this to me as a necessary book - lots of Trans experiences, opinions and voices that need to be heard. Roche did a great job at getting to the nitty gritty in the interviews, but doing so gently and in a comfortable way for the interviewees. I recommend this book certainly for members of the Trans community, and if you are seeking to be a well-educated ally then pick this up too, though prepare to feel uncomfortable.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Most Anticipated Releases For The Rest Of 2019'.

This might actually be my favourite topic. This or the seasonal TBRs. It makes me so excited for what's to come, and as usual, I can't just pick ten! I thought, seeing as I'm now on my honeymoon, this would be a great way to kick off me coming back to the blog after some time off!

1) 'The Beckoning Shadow' by Katharyn Blair.

Publication Date: July 2nd

I have been excited about this book for quite some time now! Just look at that cover art! I like the idea of superhero powers and a fighting competition. It looks to be a little different to my usual read, which I'm sure will be a good thing.

2) 'Destroy All Monsters' by Sam J. Miller.

Publication Date: July 2nd

I've seen many comparisons of this to Patrick Ness's work and that is definitely a comparison I can get on board with, as I love books by Ness! The concept is interesting - some kind of traumatic event causes one child to forget and the other to create an imaginary world filled with monsters.

3) 'Wilder Girls' by Rory Power.

Publication Date: July 9th

I've seen some great reviews for this LGBTQ+ horror mixed with some dystopian elements. I like the sound of so much of this - illness/outbreak causes an entire girls school to be quarantined and the students are forced to wait for the outside world to find a cure. Students go missing, teachers die, and one girl wants to break quarantine to save another. It sounds so cool!

4) 'Gods Of Jade & Shadow' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

Publication Date: July 23rd

A Mexican, jazz-age set, historical fairy tale absolutely sounds like my cup of tea, and this is Adult fiction instead of YA which should prove interesting! I love the cover and think that there's a lot of potential for something very different and diverse!

5) 'Before I Disappear' by Danielle Stinson.

Publication Date: July 23rd

There are so many things I enjoy watching/reading that this seems to have elements of - Stranger Things and Once Upon A Time being the main two. I love the idea of a whole town disappearing and a girl trying to find her brother. It certainly sounds intriguing!

6) 'Rose, Interrupted' by Patrice Lawrence.

Publication Date: July 25th

I've read and enjoyed Patrice Lawrence's 'Orangeboy' a while back, and I think that 'Rose, Interrupted' looks like a super interesting story-line. Escaping from a religious sect and being exposed to the world fully for the first time, two teenagers naively try to navigate new, unfamiliar surroundings and find a sense of community.

7)  'Spin The Dawn' by Elizabeth Lim.

Publication Date: July 30th

I am super, super excited for this book. Project Runway meets Mulan? Count me in! I can't wait to immerse myself in a world with asian culture, folklore, mythology and making beautiful outfits with magic. Everything about this book looks beautiful.

8) 'The Merciful Crow' by Margaret Owen.

Publication Date: July 30th

This looks like it has some really intriguing characters - a lady mercy-killer who runs a band of crows that are called to collect the dead; a Prince who fakes his own death and seeks to overthrow a ruthless Queen, and a bodyguard whose job it is to be the Prince's decoy seeks a life of his own. Sounds cool, right?

9) 'Here There Are Monsters' by Amelinda Bérubé.

Publication Date: August 1st

This looks so creepy and I am here for it! There are definitely elements of The Blair Witch Project or Pet Sematary in this but I am also drawn to the fact that the book focuses on two sisters. I like reading about familial relationships.

10) 'House Of Salt & Sorrows' by Erin A. Craig.

Publication Date: August 6th

This book is a retelling of the fairytale 'Twelve Dancing Princesses' but includes curses, ghosts, a creepy old manor by the sea and I look forward to reading some historical fantasy with a little spook factor.

11) 'Loki' by Mackenzi Lee.

Publication Date: September 3rd

Oh my goodness, a book about my favourite anti-hero? Yes please! The cover looks absolutely awesome and a little birdie (of the Twitter variety) tells me that Loki will be pansexual and gender-fluid? I am totally overcome with excitement for this book!

12) 'The Ten Thousand Doors Of January' by Alix E. Harrow.

Publication Date: September 10th

I love the idea of this story, particularly because it involves a book that transports the MC to imaginary worlds. I've read a couple of reviews which say that this book is a stunning piece of writing too, which makes me even more excited!

13) 'The Grace Year' by Kim Liggett.

Publication Date: September 17th

I think this looks like a really cool dystopian thriller. 'The Grace Year' has some similarities to Margaret Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale' - girls are banished to the wilderness for one year on their sixteenth birthday in order to rid themselves of the magic that seduces and corrupts men. It sounds like the ultimate feminist fairy tale. 

14) 'Kingdom Of Souls' by Rena Barron.

Publication Date: September 19th

A book about witchdoctors is definitely a plot concept you don't read every day, but this is exactly what 'Kingdom Of Souls' is about. Having read and enjoyed Tomi Adeyemi's 'Children Of Blood & Bone' I am so ready for another African-inspired fantasy!

15) 'SLAY' by Brittney Morris.

Publication Date: September 24th

This book looks so interesting, and I love the front cover! But the plot is what sold it to me. A PoC main character who has secretly developed an online, popular card-game becomes a target when a teenager dies and people believe the game to be anti-white. Definitely something I've never read before!

16) 'The Bone Houses' by Emily Lloyd-Jones.

Publication Date: September 24th

Reading the author's description is really what sold this book to me. The undead, folktales, a mapmaker who is always lost and a loveable goat? This sounds awesome! 

17) 'Orpheus Girl' by Brynne Rebele-Henry.

Publication Date: October 8th

I chose this as a read I'm excited about because it's a retelling of one of my favourite greek myths - Orpheus & Eurydice. I'm also super excited that it's an LGBTQ+ retelling and set in a conversion camp which sounds like one of the most horrific experiences ever.

18) 'The Starless Sea' by Erin Morgenstern.

Publication Date: November 5th

I haven't read 'The Night Circus' yet which really upsets me as I'm almost 100% sure that it will become one of my favourite books of all time. But I'm still super excited about Morgenstern's next book, 'The Starless Sea'. It looks beautiful and the plot so intriguing!

19) 'The Guinevere Deception' by Kiersten White.

Publication Date: November 5th

I am so intrigued to read a retelling of Arthurian legends sold from Guinevere's POV. I've heard a lot about White's books and feel that I need to get round to reading some at some point. This could be a good place to start!

20) 'Children Of Virtue & Vengeance' by Tomi Adeyemi.

Publication Date: December 3rd

Well the publication of this book got a little delayed and so it has made it onto this list too because I'm still seriously excited about it! We now at least have a cover and it is absolutely stunning! I can't wait to be re-united with some of my favourite characters.

Saturday 1 June 2019

Planned Reads (& Hiatus) For June.

Once again, I'll keep this post and my expectations short as I'm going to pretty much be book-free in the first couple of weeks of June thanks to all the wedding bits I need to do! Afterwards I'll be on my Honeymoon and do have plans to relax and get some reading done then, but we'll see how it goes!

I've talked many times about 'Enchantée' by Gita Trelease, and I think it's pretty clear how much I need to get cracking with this book. I am part-way through it and enjoying it so far!

Another book I've been eyeing up? 'Shadow Of The Fox' by Julie Kagawa. It was on last month's TBR and I am a bit disappointed I didn't get to it yet, it looks like a cool concept. The mixed reviews are making me pause but I look forward to immersing myself in a book set in Japan.

I wanted to read more LGBTQ+ books this month, seeing as it is the month of Pride. I've picked 'Trans Power' by Juno Roche as I'm taking the opportunity to educate myself on a subject that I really should know more about.

I have also picked a few LGBTQ+ fictional reads and the first is 'The Love Interest' by Cale Dietrich. I love the idea of spies and Government agencies mixed with a typical sweet boy falling for a bad boy scenario. I can't wait for this one!

Madeline Miller's 'The Song Of Achilles' has been recommended to me by a vast pool of people, and I love that it's historical fiction, a retelling of Greek mythology and LGBTQ+.

I don't know huge amounts about 'What If It's Us' by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera other than the fact that it's an M/M romance but I'm already digging it! This was actually gifted to me on a Secret Santa wish-list group which was pretty cool!


So now that I've given you guys an idea of my reading plans for this month, I guess I'll spend a minute informing you all that I am getting married on 17th June and so will be on hiatus until then! This means no posts from me until after the wedding. I plan to take my laptop with me on my honeymoon in Croatia and it would be nice to really spend some time catching up but I won't promise anything as it will honeymoon. Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and invest in my blog, I'll try not to be away too long and will organise a big catch-up post when I am back in the UK on the 26th, but you can probably expect to see posts from the 18th onwards!