My most anticipated releases of 2019

I am the first one to admit that I am horrible at keeping track of new releases. I basically live under a rock and I usually don’t know a book is publishing until it hits the shelves. But I realised for this year I am actually aware of several releases a few of which I’ve already pre-ordered. However this might have something to do with the fact most of them are the biggest releases of the year for fantasy/YA but we will ignore this fact.

The first and most obvious is…

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Aurora Rising By Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

I risked my job two days in a row to pre-order the pretty sprayed-edged Goldsboro edition of this book and I’ve got my Illumicrate subscription ready to go for May. Now full disclosure I’ve only read Illuminae which I loved but I’m pretty certain I will love this book too. I was lucky enough to receive an arc a few months ago which I’m planning to read a bit closer to the release date. Not that this book needs much hyping, I myself was hooked from this line alone:

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.”

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Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

This list does not exist without Darkdawn. Nevernight is one of my favourite fantasy series of all time and I CANNOT WAIT to find out what happens to Mia. For me the final book in a series can be hit or miss but I am reasonably confident Jay Kristoff won’t disappoint with this conclusion. Unlike another book I read recently *cough* Queen of Air and Darkness *cough*. I have two copies of this book on the way and YOU KNOW I will be refreshing like mad for the Illumicrate special edition Darkdawn box.

“Hogwarts but with violence and sex”

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Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

This book is the first in a new trilogy and I actually don’t know much about it. I’ve heard it’s dark fantasy, there’s a forbidden romance and I’ve seen some references to The Darkling. Whose one of the best morally grey villains ever so I’ll definitely be reading this.

“Prepare for a snow frosted, blood drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare”

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The last Hours: Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

Story time: The Infernal Devices series is by far the best Shadowhunter trilogy. The only downside to reading these books IMO is that you have to get through The Mortal Instruments series to understand them. Then along came The Dark Artifices series and I was BLOWN AWAY Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows was amazing. Until Queen of Air and Darkness came along and basically recycled the plot of The Mortal Instruments whilst focusing way to heavily on Clary, Jace and the gang. So technically out of the 12 books I’ve read written by Cassandra Clare I’ve only loved 5 of them. Not great odds.

HOWEVER, The last hours trilogy is set in Edwardian London and is set after the events of The Infernal Devices series so I am HYPED. My favourite characters Will Herondale and Tessa Gray will be back, I get a beautiful old London setting to relive and BONUS: Clary and Jace aren’t even born yet so there is no way they are gonna be popping in.

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Ninth House By Leigh Bardugo

I am going to be honest here and tell you I have absolutely no idea what this book is about but it’s Leigh Bardugo and it looks dark and broody. And we all know that Leigh Bardugo does DARK and BROODY very well indeed. This is adult fiction and it sounds like it’s gonna be urban-fantasy but I am excited to read something a bit different.

“Welcome to a world of secret societies and the occult”

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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

I’ve seen this one a lot on Twitter and it’s definitely one of the more hyped YA Fantasy releases. I’ve got my eye on it as I don’t often read fantasy inspired by Ancient Arabia and this book just looks magical. I’ve also seen an enemies to lovers situation which is 100% my weakness.

“People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.”

Comment below any books I have failed to mention that you think I should be looking out for this year.

 

 

Blog Tour Book Review: Skylarks by Karen Gregory

Today it’s my stop on the bookstagram tour for Skylarks. I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was so happy to be asked to take part in my first tour and I hope you pick up this book.

Synopsis

When she was little, Joni used to have dreams that she could fly. But these days her feet are firmly on the ground – they have to be when money’s tight and her dad can’t work and the whole family has to pull together to keep afloat.

Then she meets Annabel. Annabel is everything Joni isn’t, and yet there’s a spark between them. Though Joni barely believes it at first, she thinks they might be falling in love.

But when Annabel’s parents find out about the relationship, it’s clear they believe there are some differences that are impossible to overcome.

My thoughts..

Skylarks is a bitter sweet, coming of age, contemporary romance novel that tells the story of two girls from seemingly opposite worlds, learning they have a lot more in common than they would have thought. I don’t usually read contemporary fiction, but I’m glad I decided to step outside of my comfort zone for this book. I found Skylarks has a certain charm and I could not put it down, to the point I was literally reading it in the street walking home.

While I felt like this book was at times too black and white, there was a lot of uncomfortable truths in the portrayal of Joni and her life. I think Joni’s frustrations and feelings towards Annabel’s privileged life are relatable even for those not in Joni’s circumstances. On the other hand it is easy to assume that someone with lots of money must be happy, that they lead carefree lives without the burden of worrying about money. This book showed the prejudices that can exist on both sides.

Where this book dropped a few stars for me was in the cliched portrayal of the rich girl who can’t cook and loves to ride horses and the poor girl who doesn’t want charity and is not at all embarrassed about where she comes from. Often times Annabel and Joni felt like caricatures, as the story strayed into all too familiar and often stereotypical territory. Joni had siblings, Annabel was an only child. Joni’s house was filled with happy pictures of family times despite being poor, Annabel’s house only had super snazzy posed family photos. Annabel’s family was obsessed with grades and coming first, Joni’s parents just wanted her to do her best.

Despite this the portayal of Joni, her life and insecurities was in many aspects painfully real. This book was bitter sweet for me as even though it is in a way a light and flurry romance, it goes some way as serving as a reminder that their are real people, who are living Joni’s life and that their ending is not always so happy.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Book Review: The Goodnight Kiss by Jennifer L. Hart

Synopsis

A teenage serial killer with a mysterious past.
The deadly hunter sworn to protect her.
Secrets, lies and a shot at redemption.
It all begins with a kiss.

When 16-year-old Nic Rutherford heads out for a night on the town, she brings a full arsenal. Her best weapon? A deadly kiss that can take down the biggest game around—humans. Two-legged predators don’t stand a chance once she makes lip to skin contact. But her blessing is also a curse, one that Nic fears will inadvertently harm anyone who gets too close—her aunts, her best friend, or the mysterious new boy who possesses strange abilities of his own. 

Aiden Jager has the one thing Nic can’t resist—information. With his help Nic begins to unearth answers about her own murky past along with the key to a hidden world where magic thrives and the impossible becomes reality if one is willing to pay the ultimate price. Beware, for once the door is opened, there is no turning back.

My thoughts..

This story is a dark urban fantasy about a girl called Nic who can kill people by kissing them. Nic has appointed herself judge, jury and executioner over the local murderers, rapists etc for reasons unknown and with the help of her two aunts she kills them. Nic’s life is a mystery, she was adopted by two women who clearly aren’t what they pretend to be. There are a thousand different questions that this book raises and just when one question is answered you find you have more. I think that is what kept me reading until the end. I wanted to know who Nic was and what the hell was going on.

The main thing I struggled with in this book was the rather unusual blend of Norse and Greek Mythology mixed together with folktales and faeries. This is very confused by the fact the book is set in the real world, so you have an old Norse god running around after a teenage girl/faerie queen who kills people by kissing them. This teenage girl is looked after by her “Aunties” who are two of the three fates, but also vets in their spare time. All these aspects together just didn’t blend as seamlessly into one story as I would have liked.

Whilst this mix of Nordic mythology and folklore isn’t my cup of tea particularly, I think this book is perfect for people who loved the darker sides of those stories. This book has all the gritty realism of domestic violence and back-alley rapists but with a land of Giants and fae magic. What I loved most about this book was all the faerie aspects, The Seelie and UnSeelie Courts and The Wild Hunt.

This story is a strange and winding journey through familiar mythological and folklore territory that makes it unique. This book twists and turns a lot and while it is unfortunately mainly fuelled by every character being deliberately vague and unhelpful, is still is an entertaining and interesting read. I really liked the developing relationship between Aiden and Nic and the past histories that are being explored and explained between the characters. I’m looking forward to the next book and seeing more of the fae world that I love.

**I was given an eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

 

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight is the sort of book that you will kick yourself for not reading sooner. I loved this book so much I started writing this review about a 1/4 of the way into reading the book. I have never read anything by Jay Kristoff before, but in the space of 90 pages he is now one of my new favourite authors.

I am hooked.

The narration style of writing drew me in completely. I loved reading the narrators thoughts, reflections and jokes. The little footnotes some people may find distracting but I loved reading the extra information being given as there is so much to learn about this world. The story is being told in third person so you read things from the narrators perspective. The end result feels a bit like watching a movie with directors commentary which may take some getting used to, but I found this approach really interesting and like I’ve said three times already (I counted) I LOVED it.

This book is violent and twisted and explicit and at times difficult to take in, whilst also managing to make me laugh all the time. The dark humour gives the book a gritty realism and an edge that is often missing from fantasy books. Too often fantasy books are described as brutal, dark and twisted but this is one of the few books I have read that deserves all these adjectives and more. Excuse my language but Jay Kristoff does not f**k around and neither does this book. You’ll rather love it or drown in a sea of names and places you can’t pronounce wondering what the f**k you just tried to read.

I am absolutely in love.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Book Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Synopsis

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

My thoughts..

“Perfect for fans of Game of Thrones”

This book was in short easy, easy to read, easy to understand, easy to guess what would happen next. This book lacked all the depth, world-building and characterisation of Game of Thrones. Every plot twist could be easily anticipated pages before, the dialogue felt shallow, the secrets and intrigue easy to guess. It was in every way a cliche young adult fantasy. I’ve seen a debate before that young adult doesn’t mean the story is dumber or simplified but contrast this book to A song of Ice and Fire and that’s exactly what you get. There was no complexity, no tension, no depth to the characters.

I wanted to like this book but it wasn’t offering anything new. Three Kingdoms really basically described, two really hate each other and another one is impoverished because magic is disappearing. A really shoddily put together political situation of a princess and lord murdering a peasant over wine prices that acts as the catalyst for the ensuing warring. In terms of characters you have the princess who wants to marry for love and has no interest in ruling so of course what happens to her? The drunkenly lord who loves to “lord” it over and is quickly made into the creepy villain of the book. You have the cold, evil King who treats his son like dirt but the son still wants to impress him. That same son who has learnt to survive by pretending not to care etc etc.

The only reason that you would compare this series to Game of Thrones is the random deaths. The deaths in Game of Thrones add an element of realism with their brutality and swift nature. The deaths in this series are random and you don’t care because the characters where only introduced two seconds ago.

I thought long and hard about finishing this book but I’ve read it all before. I was told it gets better and the second book is way better than the first but I know me and this book will never see eye to eye.

Rating: 2/5 stars

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

The Farseer Trilogy consists of the Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassins Quest and follows a young royal bastard called FitzChivalry. The books starts with Fitz being given to the royal family  by his Grandfather who tells them that the heir to the throne Chivalry is the father. Consequently Chivalry abdicates the throne to his younger brother Verity because of the issues he has created with the line of succession and leaves Fitz in the care of Burrich, his stablemaster and friend.

I’m going to try to be as coherent as possible with how much I loved these books and my reasons as to why. I could easily go on a fangirl filled rant but instead I’ve tried to order my thoughts into different overall reasons so that they make more sense to you. Hopefully after reading this you will also pick up this series as I think they are a must read for any fantasy lover.

The World

The history, the lore, the magic, the politics all give these books a depth few books ever achieve. I never felt like there was information I was lacking because the author hadn’t thought about it, I knew I was learning with the character and there would always be more to learn. You can really see the amount of thought and care that went into writing these books. These three books clearly only scratch the surface of what this world has to offer as there are several more trilogies set in the same universe.

Fitz

You read about Fitz from him being six years old to adulthood and by the end I loved him. I loved his character so much I began to hate all the side characters around him for what they ask of him and the sacrifices they expect him to give. Fitz’s journey is a brutal one, he goes through a hell of a lot in these books and you can’t help but feel for him. He has abandonment issues, anger issues and self-esteem issues, he often makes decisions with his heart instead of his brain and will do anything to serve his king including kill people.

The side characters

No one in this book is perfect and as much as I hated it as far as Fitz was concerned I also loved it too. Each character has their own trials and pain to deal with and while the focus is on Fitz you get a real insight into the other character’s lives and feelings. They are each flawed and damaged in their own way. It feels like they have all the depth and feeling of the main protagonist, the book just happens to be from Fitz’s point of view. I think this is important in a book as too often side characters are one-dimensional placeholders that serve a particular purpose and are then discarded.

The Wit

The Wit is basically a magical connection to animals, think like a familiar. The Wit is an old magic that you are born with which basically allows you to communicate, understand and bond with an animal. I loved this magic not only because of the communicating with animals because of how it was viewed by other people. “Beast magic” IS NOT an accepted thing in this world and it’s interesting to read why that is. I personally love the idea of being bonded to an animal so this branch of magic was really fun to read.

The closest comparison I can make for these books is Game of Thrones without all the explicit sexual stuff and less torture and messed up deaths/punishments. This trilogy did get a bit weird towards the end I freely admit but I think that often can happen in fantasy when magic is involved. I only had one issue with the end and that was how Fitz was..let’s say used for want of a better term. I won’t say anymore but you readers probably know what I’m talking about.

I definitely recommend these books if you’re a fantasy reader looking for something more adult.

 

When reading books isn’t fun anymore..

We’ve all been there, we have all hit that reading slump at one point or another. This might look different to different people but the feeling is the same. It may be you are procrastinating on starting your next book, or struggling to finish your latest read, or it could be every book you are picking up isn’t capturing your interest.

For me these are all symptoms of feeling pressured to read.

This may be because you need new content for your blog or bookstagram, it could be because you set yourself a target of reading so many books a month or this year, you might have accepted one too many review requests or requested too many ARC’s on Netgalley etc. Whatever the cause when you make reading into a job you feel you have to do it stops being fun and starts being work.

For me I hit the slump when I borrowed four books I wanted to read from the library, bought another book in a series I wanted to finish and had three ARC’s to read. This was something I brought on myself, nobody forced me to request ARCs or buy more books,  but either way I wound up putting off books I wanted to read for books I felt obligated to read. The ARC I decided to read just wasn’t interesting me, it wasn’t a boring book but I just couldn’t get into it, but I felt bad for moving on or leaving it particularly with the publication date so close.

So I began to put off reading, which left me with less and less content for my Instagram and less reviews to publish here, which in turn made me feel more pressured to read but I just wasn’t interested in the book that I had started and didn’t feel I could move on to something else.

It was then I decided to write this blog post just in case anyone else has felt the same way and like me isn’t sure what to do about it.

My advice which I intend to take for myself is to read what you want for the time being. Don’t put off books you want to read because you feel like you HAVE to read something else. If you don’t review that book in time don’t feel bad about it, and to stop it becoming a habit be more discerning about which ARCS you request or accept. Try not to feel like you need to be reading more and more books for Instagram and your blog either. Fresh content is good but this can be anything not just what you have recently read.

Lastly, remember why you started blogging and reviewing and taking pretty pictures in the first place – because you love to read and don’t let the pressure you put on yourself or from other people ruin it for you.

Let me know what you guys do when you feel like you’re in a slump and don’t know how to get out of it.