Sunday, 1 July 2018

BOOKS | Mid-Year Update: What I'm Excited To Read

Since it's been a while since I last posted, I thought an interesting post to come back with would be a list of books I'm looking forward to reading. These are all books I'm either aiming to read by the end of the year, or just as soon as possible. I've been struggling to find the motivation to read lately so hopefully writing this will help me feel more inspired to get some reading done!

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson 
A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

I've been curious about this book since I first heard about it, I've always loved fantasy and romance and I've been meaning to read more books about the fair folk, an area of mythology that really intrigues me. I bought this book this week in my renewed desire to get back into reading, as I think that the fact that I'm so excited to see what it's like will help keep up my motivation. I've also heard some mixed reviews of it so I'm curious to see what my own take on it will be. 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

This is one that I actually started reading back in December, I was really intrigued by it and ended up reading a large portion of it in one day as I really enjoyed it, but after I put it down I experienced a period of time where I couldn't make myself read, and now that period is over, it's been so long that I think I'll start from the beginning again when I go back to it. But I am really excited to finally finish it, and to hopefully finish the trilogy and the other books that Leigh Bardugo has set in this world.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor 
In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.
Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice--save the woman he loves, or everyone else?--while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.
As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

This is the sequel to Strange the Dreamer, which you can tell from my review that I really adored, so obviously I'm very excited to find out what happens next. It doesn't come out until October but I've already preordered the hardback with the fancy sprayed edges so that it can match my edition of Strange the Dreamer.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Page 
Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent her life locked in Whittaker Psychiatric—but she isn’t crazy. And that’s not the worst of it. Her very first kiss proves anything but innocent…when Bale, her only love, turns violent.
Despite Snow knowing that Bale would never truly hurt her, he is taken away—dashing her last hope for any sort of future in the mental ward she calls home. With nowhere else to turn, Snow finds herself drawn to a strange new orderly who whispers secrets in the night about a mysterious past and a kingdom that’s hers for the taking—if only she can find her way past the iron gates to the Tree that has been haunting her dreams.
Beyond the Tree lies Algid, a land far away from the real world, frozen by a ruthless king. And there too await the River Witch, a village boy named Kai, the charming thief Jagger, and a prophecy that Snow will save them all.

I've had this book for a while now and I think it just ended up getting put aside when I had books to read for my university course. I'm looking forward to finally getting around to it and seeing what it's like!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

This, I think, is a well-known and well-loved one that's been out for quite a few years now. I bought it back in October and I'm really eager to finally find out what makes it so popular. 

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch 
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
Another one that's been out for a while now, I think I actually bought this over a year ago with a gift card because I was intrigued by the description. Hopefully it won't take me much longer to pick it up and see what it's like.

Mort by Terry Pratchett
In this Discworld instalment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can't refuse - especially since being, well, dead isn't compulsory. As Death's apprentice, he'll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won't need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he'd ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.
This is another one I bought back in October, I always love Terry Pratchett and I'm actually reading Good Omens at the moment and of course really enjoying it. I'm sure Mort will be another one that I adore, especially since it features Death, one of my favourite Discworld characters.

So that's everything I'm currently aiming to read soon, thank you for reading and if you've got any books you're excited about then let me know in the comments!

Monday, 5 February 2018

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Name: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date Published: 2017
Rating: 5/5


The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Welcome to Weep.
- From Goodreads.

I had such high expectations for this book because it looked beautiful and it sounded incredible and I couldn't stop myself from having high expectations, and the brilliant thing is it met and exceeded all of them. Every moment was amazing and I adored it all.
The language was exquisite, the descriptions of feelings, people, the landscape, the witty, intriguing dialogue between the characters, all of it was captivating.
As was the imagination that could be found in the book, the whole idea of the world and its history. It was everything that I love about fantasy, it looked at the potential of the genre and flew away with it. Reading this book was like having the most magical, well-plotted, intense dream.
I would apologise for the fact that this review is really just me praising this book, but I'm not really sorry because I have absolutely fallen in love with the whole thing.
Lazlo and Sarai were the most wonderful, compelling, kindhearted characters and I really, really need to know what happens to them next. The ending ruined me. I need the sequel.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Blog Tour: Literary Facts with a QI Elf


I am very excited to bring to you today the last stop on the blog tour for 1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted! To celebrate the release of the book, Anne Miller, one of the QI Elves, has written us a list of some of her favourite literary facts, so take it away, Anne!

At QI we all have our favourite topics. One of my all-time favourite QI facts is that a baby puffin is called a puffling but I will have to wait until 2018’s Series P to lobby for a show entirely about those brilliant birds. However, I also love literary facts and in Series L, I had the chance to write a whole show about books in the form of the ‘Literature’ episode of QI.

In that episode we covered the fact that T.S. Eliot was one of the publishers to turn down George Orwell’s 1984. 1984 is also the book that people are most likely to lie about having read. There was also the fact that the phrase  ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ did not come from the Sherlock Holmes canon but instead from P.G. Wodehouse’s 1915 novel Psmith, Journalist.

This year’s QI book 1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted contains our favourite facts discovered in the last year. Some of my favourite literary ones include:

  • Charles Dickens
 helped stop P. T. Barnum from moving Shakespeare’s house, brick by brick, to New York. 
  • Pope John Paul II drew his own comic books. 
  • The French for ‘airport novel’ is roman de gare, or ‘railway station 
novel’. 
  • Thomas Jefferson kept a flock of geese to supply quills for his pens. 
  • The Pencil Sharpener Museum in Logan, Ohio, has 3,400 pencil sharpeners. 
  • Harper Lee, 
author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was an airline booking agent. 
  • Woody Allen writes his film scripts on a typewriter he bought in the 1950s. 
  • On a QWERTY keyboard
 a typist’s fingers cover 20 miles a day; on a Dvorak keyboard 
it’s only one mile. 
  • Roald Dahl, Noël Coward, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Harry Houdini and Christopher Lee all 
worked as spies. 
  • H. G. Wells was A. A. Milne’s maths teacher. 

Thank you for sharing this with us, Anne! If you're interested in finding out more about the QI Elves, you can follow them on Twitter here, and 1,342 QI Facts to Leave You Flabbergasted is out now!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A Notice (#7): Coming Soon!

I am very excited to say that I will soon be hosting my first ever blog tour stop on Writing Starlight! Next Tuesday (13th December), to celebrate the release of 1,342 QI Facts To Leave You Flabbergasted, I'll be posting a list of literary facts from QI Elf Anne Miller! Make sure to keep an eye out for that, and if you want to have a look at where else the tour is stopping, check out blogs in the banner below! As well as that, I would definitely recommend following the QI Elves on Twitter, because they're always tweeting fascinating facts.


Faber & Faber, the publishers of the book, also sent me a copy, which I am very happy about, and look forward to reading over the holiday season!


Since I am making a post, I would just like to take the opportunity to apologise for not posting very frequently recently! I have had a lot of work to do for university, but I am hoping that over the Christmas break I will have some time to post on this blog, especially since I did get some books recently that I am excited to read, and I'm sure I'll be getting some books for Christmas that I'll want to post about! So make sure to stay tuned for all of that, and until then, have a happy Christmas!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Name: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Date published: February 2015
Rating: 5/5


Kell is one of the last Travelers - rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and Prince of Red London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they'll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive - trickier than they hoped.
- From Goodreads.

When I finished reading A Darker Shade of Magic, I actually felt sad because it was over and I had really enjoyed reading it and had become so attached to the characters and the worlds. I just loved it all so much. The idea of the book is such a unique and inventive one that really captured your attention. It created so many intriguing possibilities, and it had such a fascinating past and background. The worlds were all well thought-out and it was obvious a lot of time and effort had gone into creating them.
Kell and Lila were amazing characters who I now love so, so much. They seemed so much like real, living people, they were well-rounded and developed, and they had flaws and made mistakes, but that only endeared them to you. They were so good, and strong, and, oh my gosh, I just want to hold them close to my heart and not let them get hurt.
There were so many little things in this book that I loved and that radiated with attention to detail. There was Kell's many-sided coat, which was completely and utterly brilliant, and which I now really want in my own life, as well as some other very stylish outfits, including Lila's fantastic masquerade ball costume, which was incredibly awesome. There was also the brilliant magical fights, the action of which was described  clearly and which were easy to follow, while at the same time remaining impressive and epic and everything you could want from a fantasy and adventure novel.
This was an excellent and marvellous story, and I am immensely excited for when I read the next one in the series, because from what I have read so far, it seems like it will be amazing!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Name: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Children's Books
Date published: 2012
Rating: 5/5


Even if Blue hadn't been told her true love would die if she kissed him, she would stay away from boys. Especially the ones from the local private school. Known as Raven Boys, they only mean trouble.
But this is the year that everything will change for Blue.
This is the year that she will be drawn into the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys. And the year Blue will discover that magic does exist.
This is the year she will fall in love.
- From Goodreads.

The Raven Boys had a slower pace than some of the other books I have read recently and I found I actually enjoyed it for that. It took its time and it was not episodic, with one big event after the other. It let you take the time to get to know the characters and was still interesting to read without having constant action. As it went on, especially towards the end, the story did pick up pace well, with added excitement and suspense which kept me eager to read and intrigued with the events of the story. The book was also structured well in that the mysteries of the story were very clever and the answers were hinted at in such a way that you did not realise the hint was a serious one until the answer was revealed.
The book had fascinating and complicated characters whose personalities were developed and revealed as the story went on, and continued to show their depth and potential to surprise throughout it. The language was used to provoke such feeling and empathy for the characters that you really came to connect to them and there was a fun sense of humour in the writing that added some brilliant lighthearted moments that explored the playful sides of the characters without ruining the mood of the darker moments.
There was also a really enjoyable exploration of magic and how it works in the world of the novel, how it affects each character and what it means to each of them. It was fascinating to read about Blue's family's relationship to magic and how they worked with it, and how that contrasted with the Raven Boys' relationship to magic and their almost desperate search for it.
Despite the fact that it is set in spring, it really does feel like a perfect book to curl up inside with on an autumn day, and I would definitely recommend reading it this season if you have not yet. I am very much looking forward to when I get the chance to read the other books in this series.

Add the book on Goodreads | Author's website

Friday, 23 September 2016

Review: Love Song by Sophia Bennett

Name: Love Song
Author: Sophia Bennett
Publisher: Chicken House
Date published: 2016
Rating: 5/5


A million girls would kill for the chance to meet The Point, but Nina's not one of them.
She's the new assistant to the lead singer's diva fiancée, and she knows it's going to suck. She quickly learns that being with the hottest band on the planet isn't as easy as it looks: behind the scenes, the boys are on the verge of splitting up. Tasked with keeping an eye on four gorgeous but spoiled rock stars, Nina's determined to stick it out - and not fall for any of them...
- From Goodreads.

Love Song drew me in right from the beginning and made me want to sit down and read the whole thing through in one sitting. It made me remember why I love contemporary fiction, as I have been reading a lot of fantasy lately, after which I could not find as much enjoyment in contemporary but this book reminded me what is so great about the genre.
I thought the passion for music that leapt from the pages was wonderful, I always really love books that convey a love for music because I adore it so much myself. Speaking of music, I just have to mention that I love the fact that Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis was played at Orli's wedding because I just really, completely and utterly love that song. There was also a love for literature, poetry, art, and a great respect for creativity which I think helped emphasise the importance of being able to express yourself creatively, to show and understand your emotions, which is a thread throughout the book.
The characters were cute and funny and loveable (I mean the nice ones of course, not Sigrid, never Sigrid) and well-rounded, each with an important background, and they all really made the story fun and enjoyable. Even though Sigrid was incredibly dislikable, of course, she still felt like a real individual and not two-dimensional.
Overall, this was a sweet, enjoyable, and exciting read that I would recommend to anyone who likes funny and intriguing writing. Also there were Taylor Swift, Doctor Who and Harry Potter references, which is always fantastic.

Add the book on Goodreads | Author's website