Her Bookshelf Challenge: February 2020

I thought it would be fun to start a monthly bookshelf challenge focused on reading the books I actually have sat on my shelves than on new releases. So if you are looking to tackle your tbr take a look.

All challenges are bookish/pop culture/fandom related which you will probably enjoy if you have the same sense of humour as me.

I watched the first season: A book series you abandoned after the first book.

I’ve already started this as I read the first book in the Mistborn trilogy last January and now I’m reading the second book The Well of Ascension.

A nice murder that will cheer you up: Read a murder mystery novel

I’ve been meaning for ages to read my Deanna Raybourn book as I love her other series.

A court of definitely not ya and please shelve properly: A book that is often classed as YA but isn’t.

For me this will be The City of Brass by S.A Chakraborty which I often see in the young adult section.

I’m just here for the pretty cover: Read a book by an author you’ve never read despite owning lots of their books.

I am going to read a book by Mark Lawrence as I own 8 of his books despite never reading anything he’s ever written. My choice for this challenge is The Girl and the Stars.

Let me know if you are participating below and what books you would read for each challenge.

Spoiler Mini Review: The Sisters Grimm by Menna Van Praag

Disclaimer: As the title suggests this review is full of spoilers. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a dark and vague sort of read with lots of whimsical descriptions and flowery prose. In the beginning it took me a while to get the four POVs straight but after a while you get to know each character’s own voice.

This book follows four “sisters” who were all born on the exact same day and have the ability to enter a magical place called Everwhere.

Each sister has forgotten about Everwhere and the power they have, believing Everwhere to be a childish dream they had. It’s explained in the book why but the whole plot is a countdown to the day all four sisters will be allowed back into Everwhere – the night of their 18th birthday.

I really struggled to get through this book after a while particularly because the ending was obvious. I liked reading about each characters lives and struggles but I felt the ending kind of aborted their individual storylines in the real world.

For those that like it, there is a romance in the book but it’s the sort of romance that excuses the murdering of a parent by said lover. If that’s your thing you will love it until the ending.

I dropped a few stars for the predictable ending. I guessed which sister would die and that each sister had a soldier in their life that would try to kill them at the end of the book.

This book is perfect for fans of Dark Fairytales, The Hazel Wood, Alice in Wonderland, female heroines and forbidden romance.

Rating 3/5 stars

Spoiler Mini Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

SPOILER WARNING: As the title of this blog post suggests this is a mini review and it’s full of spoilers.

Full disclosure I was gifted this arc many moons ago in exchange for an honest review.

This book is packed full of your favourite ya fantasy romance tropes. Enemies to lovers, “slow-burn” romance, insta love, fast paced action, Oh no there’s just one bed, the chosen one, and characters that look suspiciously like other major characters in the book.

This book was far too many tropes with too much forced drama for my tastes. It’s by no means a bad book it’s just got lots of things I personally don’t like reading and I especially don’t like reading them all at once.

Enemies to lovers romance has always been my thing but when Lou (street rat and secret witch) is forced to marry Reid (god fearing soldier who loves burning heathens) because he chased her beaten ass through a theatre and they fell onto the stage in front of everybody I should have known this book wasn’t for me.

The romance develops from there really quickly with the obvious issue she’s a witch and married to someone who hunts witches for his job.

There’s a lot of blood magic witchy goodness in this book and I loved the idea of paying a price for magic. For example to break a lock you have to break a bone but unfortunately this stuff was lost in the melodrama of will he love me regardless like my mother couldn’t and this old man looks suspiciously like me and loves the same food I do.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Spoiler Mini Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

SPOILER WARNING: As the title suggests this review is full of spoilers.

I have a like hate relationship with this book series. The ONLY reason I made it to the third book was because I love enemies to lovers relationships and I needed to know how Jude and Cardan ended.

So this mini review is going to be biased as I’m not really a fan.

But from a none fan’s perspective Cardan turning into a huge ass snake that death was the only escape from was…a very questionable choice for a finale.

I felt like the book fell into the trap of high drama but for me without properly engaging my emotions and building up to these moments it feels like I’m being flung from one dramatic moment to the next without any real meaning to them.

This has always been a pet peeve of mine so I’ll digress.

For those of you who need to know yes Cardan and Jude do end up together. He announces Jude is his wife when she falls from the ceiling after trying to save him from a suspected assassination attempt.

As far who is going to rule Faerie it looks like Jude still intends to give the throne to Oak but honestly it’s never really discussed or finalised.

Oh and the whole banishment thing was easily solved by how everyone suspected. Jude could pardon herself.

Rating: 3/5 stars

The frustrating thing about YA from a book blogger’s perspective

The frustrating thing about YA from a book blogger’s perspective (i.e mine) is no one seems to know who YA is actually for anymore.

I came across a thread recently of several authors lamenting the fact that some reviewers were reading their books and then giving lower ratings because of several YA aspects in the story. For example the MC was too immature. Reviewers have actually have gone as far to state that they would have loved the book if they were a teenager.

So why does this happen? Why are adults apparently reading books they find too immature and slamming them for being something a 12 year old would want to read?

I think the answer is simple.

It’s because they aren’t being marketed as if they are for teenagers.

Let me be frank, YA is a hot mess of a genre. Even the name Young Adults implies the books aren’t for teenagers. But technically YA is meant to be for anyone between the ages of 12 – 18. However when you have books like ACOTAR and Six of Crows sitting in the YA section things get confusing. A lot of people wouldn’t read ACOTAR at 12 and Six of Crows deals with adult themes like sex slavery and addiction.

Now inclusion of sex doesn’t automatically make a book not YA but that’s not the point I’m making.

My issue is that YA books today are heavily marketed towards adults and you can tell this alone from the price tag.

What average 12 year old can afford special collectors editions that are about £20? Hell, you only have to turn up to YALC to see a serious lack of anyone under the age of 16 at a convention for YOUNG ADULT literature.

Clearly adults have more disposable income and while these books are written for teenagers they are sold to adults. I think it’s great that YA has great cross over appeal but the reason these debates start is people think adults are intruding on teenagers spaces despite the fact they were basically invited.

A perfect example of this is The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Two book boxes are doing collectors editions of the entire series with new covers. One book box has always done a special edition. That’s three different sets of covers for books that is supposed to be for teenagers? I couldn’t afford to spend that kind of money on books until I had a full time job which only happened this year and I’m 26.

Also, young adults, like myself (I.e not a teen) see “young adult” as something they should enjoy. And I personally (without specific industry knowledge of the genre age range) spent a good year reading YA and wondering why it was too immature for me. I remember very clearly the only YA books I enjoyed immensely was ACOTAR and Nevernight. The two books that are commonly seen as YA that aren’t. Do you see the problem?

I would love for publishers to finally stop the YA marketing hype and make New Adult a thing. The introduction of New Adult would provide a space for older teens and actual young adults and stop books like Nevernight getting into the hands of an audience it was never meant for.

In the future I do think reviewers should consider the audience of the book when complaining about immaturity etc. But when said book has been put into the hands of adult readers, book bloggers and book tubers I can’t blame them for reading it thinking it was meant for a reader more their age.

That book series I recommend to everyone.

It is criminal some of the books that get completely ignored compared to some that make millions. I think everyone has that one book/book series that they absolutely adored but no one has ever heard of.

For me that book series is Amelia Peabody’s Murder Mysteries by Elizabeth Peters and I recommend it to pretty much everyone all the time.

This series spans an epic 19 books and roughly 30 years but I promise you, you will never get bored. If I had to describe this series I’d say it’s a bit like The Mummy meets Downton Abbey but any nice garden tea party is ruined by a murder.

The series starts in 1890s and is mainly set in Egypt and England. To describe the whole series is difficult without spoilers but there’s a lot of in-depth Egyptology, archaeology and a whole lot of crimes committed.

My reasons why you should read this series:

Egyptology/History

The author had a PHD in Egyptology guys. If you LOVE archaeology, ancient history or and Egyptology in general then picking up these books is definitely worth it. There’s a lot to be learnt even if the focus isn’t on modern day but how it was done at the turn of the century.

Romance

This series has hands down two of the best romances I’ve ever read. The kinda romances that are equal partnerships. If you love romance then you can definitely pick up this series.

The perfect book boyfriend

When you think ideal fictional man most people come up with Rhysand or Will Herondale etc etc. Everyone is wrong because the best example of the perfect book boyfriend is in these books.

Mystery

If you love guessing who dunnit? And why these books are perfect for you. There’s always some crime being committed by someone or other. Trying to guess who the murderer is, is one of the best parts about reading this series.

Let me know if you do decide to buy this series or your thoughts if you’ve read it already

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