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.

Book Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Synopsis

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most – a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever. 
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavoury hobby – it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good.

But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Publication Date: 6th March 2018

My thoughts…

This book is a darker re-telling of the Little Mermaid and it had lots to offer. To Kill a Kingdom has all the elements of a really good dark fantasy, there’s mermaids and pirates, siren’s ripping out hearts, a Sea Queen reminiscent of Ursula and a hate to love romance. The story was nicely paced and I think it does an excellent job of taking The Little Mermaid and making it darker and grittier than the film we all know and love.

This book held such promise for me but in the end it didn’t quite deliver. For me this book was a little too perfect, every twist and turn wasn’t a surprise, I felt like I was on a road I had travelled before. I didn’t really have any doubt in my mind at where this book was going or how it would end. Everything ended up being a bit too convenient, I could see what the author wanted to achieve, so all the character growth needed to get there felt a bit forced.

In the end Lira and Elian didn’t learn to look past their differences, they were moulded into being the same. I say this particularly for Lira who starts out as this blood-thirsty Siren, but this initial characterisation is proclaimed as false as you get further into the book and it ends up that Lira didn’t want to be that way she felt forced by her mother. For me good characterisation would be if they had both learnt to change, not the reader learning that they aren’t the way initially presented. It was all just a little too neat but this might be because it was a standalone.  

There was a few plot issues, namely Lira’s familiarity with all things human despite being from the sea, she recognised things like the smell of peppermint and honey. Are these common in the ocean? I also had issues with the ending, who goes through the trouble of hiding something as far away from the ocean as you can but then decides to built a moat around/through it? Wasn’t the whole point to be that it was away from water?

This book is by no means boring and for a ya dark fantasy it’s pretty decent. There were just several issues for me that stopped me completely enjoying the book, I didn’t find the banter that witty and there was a lot of it and I felt like the plot was often advanced by people overlooking the glaringly obvious. I know lots of people are going to love this book but I ended up being one of those who only liked it.

*I received a digital review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own*

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Book Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. 

The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

My thoughts..

DISCLAIMER: Spoilers for Blue Lily, Lily Blue below.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue put the Raven Cycle series back up to a four star read for me.  I think I loved this book more than The Dream Thieves as it focused less on the magic and the mystery and more on the development of relationships. Character relationships have always been the main draw of reading for me, I just usually prefer a fantasy setting and some sort of mystery to keep me intrigued.

This leads me to reason why I had to put a spoiler warning on this review and why I loved this book so much which was of course Ronan and Adam. This was hinted at in the second book, but it finally started to develop in this book and I am loving it. I have to admit when reading about Ronan’s feelings in The Dream Thieves it seemed like an impossible dream of his, but Blue Lily, Lily Blue has started to make it a reality. I love everything about these two together, I loved the looks and the unspoken quality of what was maybe developing. I have no idea of Adam’s sexuality but him calling Blue the female Ronan gives me hope for these two in the future.

Now I do love how Maggie doesn’t feel the need to explain every little plot point and detail, it gives her books a dream like quality and as a reader you have to just accept that things are the way they are because that’s how it is. I love this about these books, I love how they are written. However I still struggled with certain parts of the story when they didn’t feel part of the story but more plot twists for plot twists sake. Maura randomly disappearing with no explanation how she knew where she was going, why she decided to go or how she was suddenly able to do what she did was one of these parts. I love Maura as a mother and a character but when she does things I don’t understand like dating violent killers and disappearing off to find Artemis I can’t help but roll my eyes a bit.

I have no idea how this series is going to end, and whilst I am curious I am not overly concerned. That is not to say that the plot isn’t interesting, I love the elements of magics so perfectly immersed in a realistic setting. I am immensely curious about how the Raven boys journey will end, but I think the main draw for me (apart from Maggie Stiefvater’s dreamy writing) has always been the developing relationships within these books.

“Blue was perfectly aware that it was possible to have a friendship that wasn’t all-encompassing, that wasn’t blinding, deafening, maddening, quickening. It was just that now that she’d had this kind, she didn’t want the other.”

This quote I believe perfectly encompasses why people love this series and these characters so much. The messy and realistic dynamics of the group, despite one of them being dead, is what sets this series apart from your typical ya fantasy and I think why people love these books so much.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

My thoughts..

I have always wondered at how books can be scary? How can reading words on a page in the comfort of your own home give you a sense of horror or dread? How is it that books can have such power that, that the horrors they describe can effect us in such a way as to make us fearful when there is nothing to fear? I didn’t understand these feelings until I read The Hazel Wood.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert was a dark and intriguing story that has all the magic and mystery of the fairy tales we know so well. This book however goes one step further, it describes a world in which fairy tales could be real, a world where there is truth to the stories that we heard growing up. I think the elements of realism is what made this book so damn creepy, the elements of truth within the story and the possibility that somewhere the stories are real, that someone did live this life.

“I told you, she was like a war reporter. She didn’t write this stuff into creation-she wrote about something that was already out there.”

This quote I think is a good description of how this story is told from the point of view of Alice Crewe. Alice grew up on the road with her mother and bad luck following her wherever they went. She has a cold anger that sometimes gives her a more dispassionate point of view to the events that unfold in the book, but somehow still full of feeling and emotion. This anger is her armour and I found Alice to be a realistic and flawed character who would do anything for the people she cared about.

The characters in this book are believable, the stories woven into the story are fascinating and the whole mystery of The Hazel wood had me intrigued from the first page. The depth this author managed to achieve was so good that the fairy tales in this book could themselves be published. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the original fairy tales, the ones where every step The Little Mermaid takes is like knives in her feet and the evil stepsister cuts off her toes to fit into the glass slipper.

*I received a digital review copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own*

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Synopsis

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose . . . it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

My thoughts..

I think the world of Three Dark Crowns has a lot of potential, I absolutely love the concept and I loved the different types of powers. I did initially struggle with the different POVS at first, I thought each chapter was going to focus on each Queen, but then the side characters came into play. The problem is this didn’t leave much for character development. I kind of like Katharine and Mirabella and Jose was promising until the boy drama. In the end the only thing I can say with real certainty is that I absolutely hate Joseph.

The pacing of this book was also a little slow for me, I felt like there was not much going on until the end and then things happened too quickly. I think this may be down to personal taste but I hate it when I’m waiting for things to happen and then when they do its feels rushed and falls flat.

I think this book would have benefited from less character POVS so I could have got a deeper sense of the characters of the three queens. This would have made me care more about their friendships and their love lives. I also think the book would have benefited from more in-depth world building, there was a lot that wasn’t explained which strayed from intriguing into confusing. Why the world is the way it is in the first place isn’t really explained. I was left with a lot of questions. How do they know each new Queen will have triplets? I mean this isn’t exactly a normal pregnancy right? Why are they on a shrouded island all by themselves? Where did the old Queen go? Why does she have to leave the babies? Why do the other two Queens have to die for one to rule? Why do they have to be 16 to do it?

I think at times this book fell into a trap of young adult fantasy cliches. I don’t need love triangles and BFF relationships and insta-love with strangers who look weirdly like my girlfriend’s best friend. I felt like none of the males added anything to the story and the most interesting relationships for me was between the sisters which is barely shown.

This book definitely has an element of mystery that suggested that all was not as it seemed which tentatively hooked me in. I thought I knew what was going to happen but this book didn’t end how I expected. I am definitely intrigued enough to continue on with the series.

 

Book Review – Ten Thousand Skies Above You By Claudia Gray

Synopsis

“Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross through to alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurt the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked, and his consciousness is scattered across multiple dimensions.

The hunt for each splinter of Paul’s soul sends Marguerite racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris, where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each dimension brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with every trial she faces, she begins to question the one constant she’s found between the worlds: their love for each other”

Book Review

This book was better than the first one for me as Marguerite and Co are finally beginning to think about the ethical implications of what they are doing with the Firebird technology. The far-reaching and wider implications of their actions which I felt weren’t addressed in the first book were finally discussed. Although I still think these amazing scientists should have considered what was glaringly obvious before, I’m glad they are finally realising that what they are doing is pretty messed up.

I would have enjoyed this book more if the plot hadn’t still tried to cling to a non-existent love triangle that has clearly already been resolved. As Paul is pretty absence throughout most of the book it is Theo that Marguerite is spending her time with, cue declarations of unrequited love and weird scenes of them entering an alternative dimension where their alternate selves had just had sex. On the plus side I was getting a bit sick of Marguerite thinking in every universe everywhere her and Paul would always end up together so I think she needed a little dose of reality.

One thing I did love about this book is that Marguerite spends a lot of her time judging other people for the actions of their alternate selves. I thought this is massively hypocritical considering what she got up to in the first book and also pretty dumb to think every version of you is gonna be a decent person. It was nice when she finally learned that with an infinite number of universes and infinite possibilities there are worlds where she herself isn’t such a good person.

I think this book did a nice job of bring a little dose of reality to a young adult fantasy romance. It was an entertaining read and there was a few good twists and turns along the way to that cliffhanger ending.