April & May 2020 Anticipated Releases

Today’s post will be my list of April and May 2020 anticipated books! I’m doing April and May in one post as unfortunately there aren’t really enough books in each month to warrant separate posts.

 

As usual, I’ll list them in order of release date, include a Goodreads summary and a link to preorder them. This is an affiliate link, and using it comes at no extra cost to you, but helps to support me a tiny tiny bit :).

Continue reading “April & May 2020 Anticipated Releases”

April 2020 TBR

Hi everyone!

 

So I know I historically haven’t had much luck with TBRs (as in, you know, actually reading the books that are on them), but I thought that as I’m home from university for the foreseeable future and it looks as though my reading slump is finally over, I might as well give it another shot. This month is all about picking up books I’d put down previously (you might recognise a few books from previous TBRs), as well as going throguh my Netgalley titles and reading anticipated new releases!

 

I will quickly mention this before getting into the TBR – if you wish to support independent bookstores, who are struggling at this time because of the global health crisis – you can choose to purchase any of the books you see here (or any other title of your choosing) at Blackwells, a small chain of indie bookshops in the UK. Each order comes with a free bookmark, and they ship internationally as well as offering free UK delivery on all orders, no matter how much or little you purchase.

Continue reading “April 2020 TBR”

March 2020 Wrap-Up

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve done a monthly wrap-up? Anyways, March was a very successful reading month for me, so I thought I’d share all the books I’ve read! Now, this might not seem like a lot of books to many of you, but having been in a reading slump prior to March for the better part of a year, the fact that I managed to make it through this many books is nothing short of a miracle.

 

The books in this wrap-up may not come as surprises to you if you’ve seen any of the reviews I’ve posted recently, as I’m fairly sure I’ve reviewed every book I’ve read this month (since I started reading again), excluding comics.

 

I won’t waste too much more of your time, so let’s get into it! Rather than sharing my thoughts again on each book, I’ll link the review for it, so you can read my full thoughts on each in greater detail. I will, however, give the star rating for each of them, just as a TLDR!

 

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

the shadows between us

Star rating: 5 stars

My review

Purchase (Book Depository affiliate link)

Goodreads summary:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

 

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

warriorofthewild

Star rating: 5 stars

My review

Purchase (Book Depository affiliate link)

Goodreads summary:

How do you kill a god?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year—or die trying.

 

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

the winter duke

Star rating: 3.5 stars

My review

Purchase (Book Depository affiliate link)

Goodreads summary:

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what’s right in the face of danger.

 

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

girlserpentthorn

Star rating: 3 stars

My review

Purchase (Book Depository affiliate link)

Goodreads summary:

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

 

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

serpent and dove

Star rating: 5 stars

Review coming April 6th 2020 at 8am UK time!

Purchase (Book Depository affiliate link)

Goodreads summary:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

 

And that’s it – those are all the books I read this month! How many books did you read this month? Let me know in the comments!

ARC Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust [SPOILER-FREE]

girlserpentthorn

Title: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Release date: May 12th 2020

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Star rating: ★★★

Purchase: Book Depository (Affiliate Link)

 

*I received a free eARC of this book from Netgalley via the publisher, Flatiron Books, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for sending me a copy!*

 

Summary (Taken from Goodreads)

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

 

Review

I can only describe my experience reading Girl, Serpent, Thorn as a tough one. As my Goodreads reading comments will show you, it took me almost a week to make it through the first 30% of the book, and I didn’t find my enjoyment of the book picking up until around the 50-60% mark. If I didn’t feel obligated to review Girl, Serpent, Thorn, I likely would have DNF’d it. I try not to be too negative in my reviews, but, in a sense, it’s my duty to be honest, and I’m not going to award a five star rating for a book I don’t feel deserves more than three.

 

I want to make it very clear, before I start discussing this book in-depth (without spoilers, of course) that my issue is not with Bashardoust’s writing style, the Persian influences or largely the plot as a whole. The thing that made this book so hard for me to get through was definitely its characters, who I’ll try my best to get my feelings on across shortly.

 

Girl, Serpent, Thorn, as I mentioned, is a Persian-inspired YA Fantasy. I haven’t ever previously come across a book with Persian influences before, and so I greatly enjoyed this aspect of the novel.  In the beginning of the book, I found it a little tricky to keep track of who was who and what was what, but this was only because I wasn’t familiar with the terminology used. As the book went on, I found this problem disappeared for me and I could keep reading on without having to refer to my notes or go back and read earlier chapters to remind myself of events and titles mentioned throughout.

 

When the novel begins, we are introduced to our protagonist, Soraya. She has lived her entire life in seclusion, kept away from both her family and the rest of her people due to her poisonous touch – the result of a curse she has because of her mother. Soraya loves to tend to her private garden, as it is the only thing she can interact with and touch without it dying immediately. I found Soraya to be not the most enjoyable protagonist to read about, mostly because I found her rather whiny and annoying, and at times, much like a wet paper towel. I can safely say that Soraya definitely wasn’t the reason I kept on reading right up until the end.

 

Relatively early on in the book, we are introduced to Soraya’s two main love interests. Because I can’t say too much about either of them without spoiling the plot for you, I will mention that Soraya is bisexual, and so she has both a male and a female love interest to choose from! If we were rating Soraya’s love interests on a scale from 1-10 of how much I loved them (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest), the male love interest, Azad would be a definite 1 and the female love interest, Parvaneh, would be a solid 8, maybe 9 at parts in the book. As I commented on while reading the book to a friend, I would, at times, want to throw a brick at Azad, while I would happily read a spin-off/prequel novella about Parvaneh – she was easily the most interesting character throughout the book, and it was largely her scenes that kept me reading and entertained. I found Azad to be, dare I say, cringe-worthy in his earlier scenes and I didn’t like the insta-love aspect between him and Soraya, although their relationship does develop into something more interesting as the plot unfolds (again, no spoilers!).

 

On the whole, I found the side characters in Girl, Serpent, Thorn to be underdeveloped. While this remark might not be entirely fair given that we don’t see too much of them – save Soraya’s mother, who has a few key scenes – throughout the book, it would have been nice to feel as though they were people we should care about, rather than wanting to skim ahead to when they weren’t on the page so things were a little more interesting.

 

In an effort not to be solely badmouthing (and “dumping” on) this book, I should note that I found the plot of Girl, Serpent, Thorn to be thoroughly enjoyable. While I haven’t read Bashardoust’s other novel, it is clear that she has a skill for engineering plot twists you don’t see coming from a mile away, and I found her writing style to be entertaining, although I do wish the pacing was a little faster in places.

 

That’s really all I can say on Girl, Serpent, Thorn without spoiling everything, and so I’ll leave this review with my summary points of “you should enjoy this book if you like this”…

 

You should enjoy Girl, Serpent, Thorn if you like:

  • Persian-inspired stories
  • Standalone YA Fantasy
  • Deadly princesses!
  • Plot twists you won’t see coming
  • F/f romances
  • Bisexual main characters

 

Once again, thank you to Flatiron Books and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC of Girl, Serpent, Thorn and allowing me to read it prior to publication!

 

Next review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

Review: The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

the winter duke

Title: The Winter Duke

Author: Claire Eliza Bartlett

Release date: March 3rd 2020

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Star rating: ★★★.5

Purchase: Book Depository (Affiliate Link)

 

Summary (Taken from Goodreads)

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what’s right in the face of danger.

 

Review

The Winter Duke takes place in a small kingdom, Kylma, split into two: Kylma Above and Kylma Below. Where Kylma Above is a bitterly cold, icy kingdom, Kylma Below is reminiscent of Atlantis, with its fishpeople and under-a-frozen-lake setting. The book primarily takes place in Kylma Above, as we follow the journey of Ekata, who becomes Grand Duke of Kylma Above after her parents and 12 murderous siblings suddenly fall into a coma-like state, on the eve of her eldest brother’s brideshow, where he is meant to choose a wife.

Ekata is, as no one fails to mention, not suited to being Grand Duke. She’s the scientist of the family, and spends her days in a laboratory or with her nose in a book, dreaming of the day she will get to go to university and be away from her parents and murderous siblings. It is because she’s unsuited to the job that her advisers propose (pun not intended ;P) that she marry Sigis, her once-foster brother and a slimy, power-hungry tyrant from another kingdom. To escape this fate, Ekata decides to marry one of her brother’s potential wives instead, and settles on Inkar, a dark-haired warrior and 25th daughter of one of Ekata’s father’s greatest enemies. It is, as you can imagine, a match her advisers did not welcome! The Winter Duke, as you might be aware, is a f/f book, but the romance between these two is a major slow-burn, and doesn’t get going until about 3/4 of the way through the book, so keep that in mind if that’s one of the main selling points of this book for you.

The main draw of this book for me was ‘murder siblings!!’, but unfortunately, that wasn’t what we got. I was expecting more of a Hunger Games-esque plot, with the aforementioned bounty of murder, but The Winter Duke turned out to be a political intrigue sort of Fantasy, which I didn’t mind – I like those plots, after all – but I had hoped this one might be a little different. The ‘murder siblings’ is rather a setup for the book, rather than the focus of the book itself.

I found Ekata to be an enjoyable protagonist. She is snarky and quick-witted, and isn’t about to sell herself out just to solve all her problems. While I wish her character development and arc were clearer and more profound, by the end of the book, it is evident that she has changed – even if only a little – and is more comfortable being her own person, rather than an imitation of her father.

Inkar, as I mentioned earlier in this review, is Ekata’s wife/love interest, and the daughter of one of Kylma’s enemies. She’s an axe-carrying, horse-riding badass warrior lady, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She develops a friendly relationship with many of the guards – something that, as consort, is frowned upon – and is seen as quite charming to many of the visiting ministers and other important people Ekata should be talking to. I wish Inkar had gotten a little more page-time. I didn’t feel that she really had much character development, if any, besides her opening up a little more and occassionally being more ‘soft’ and less blunt and warrior-like, but I liked the appearances she did have.

Besides the four ‘main’ side characters of Aino (Ekata’s servant/mother figure), Inkar, Sigis and Eirhan (Ekata’s main advisor and thorn in her side), I found all the other side characters started to blur together, and I sometimes struggled to remember exactly who was who. However, I find this to be common in a lot of books, and so this is not entirely the fault of Bartlett/The Winter Duke.

Overall, I would say I liked Bartlett’s writing style. I haven’t read their debut, We Rule the Night, and so this was my first time reading Bartlett’s work. The pacing was relatively fast, as the book takes place over a matter of days. Despite this, I found myself a little confused when reading the Kylma Below scenes, although it should be noted that this might just be a personal problem in that I sometimes have trouble visualising setting descriptions and action scenes, and so I definitely preferred the scenes set in Kylma Above. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ‘big reveal’ at the end, but I also didn’t hate it. I’ll let you decide for yourself what you think of it, if you decide to pick up a copy of the book!

To conclude, I’ll leave you with my summary points of ‘if you enjoy x, you should like this book’…

You should enjoy The Winter Duke if you like:

  • Unique YA Fantasy books
  • F/F romance
  • Verrrrry slow-burn romance
  • Standalone YA Fantasies
  • Snarky and witty protagonists
  • Ice palaces!
  • Disney’s Frozen
  • Political intrigue

Next review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust.

 

WWW Wednesday #1

I’ve seen this “tag meme”, I guess it’s called, floating around on blogs before, so I thought I’d give it a go! If you’re unfamiliar with WWW Wednesdays, it’s basically a short post that you write every Wednesday, where you give the book you read last, the book you’re currently reading and the book you plan on reading next! I thought doing this might be a fun way of keeping track of my reading (besides Goodreads), and might motivate me to read faster!

 

What I’ve Finished

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

warriorofthewild

Purchase (Book Depository affiliate link)

Goodreads summary:

How do you kill a god?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year—or die trying.

 

What I’m Reading Currently

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

the winter duke

Purchase (Book Depository affiliate link)

Goodreads summary:

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what’s right in the face of danger.

 

What I Plan On Reading Next

The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis

theravenandthedove

No purchase link available.

Goodreads summary:

Four fates collide in this avian-inspired, epic fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo!

A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong…

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.

Three shocking betrayals. Two star-crossed lovers. One unforgettable journey. If you like fierce heroines, brooding heroes, forbidden romance, and action-packed magical adventures with twists you’ll never see coming, don’t miss The Raven and the Dove!

 

What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

warriorofthewild

Title: Warrior of the Wild

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Release date: February 26th 2019

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Star rating: ★★★★★

Purchase: Book Depository (Affiliate Link)

 

 

Summary (Taken from Goodreads)

How do you kill a god?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: To win back her honor, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year—or die trying.

 

Review

Warrior of the Wild is a beautifully-woven viking-inspired story that I fell deeply in love with. Once again, Tricia Levenseller has delivered another fast-paced, romance-based YA Fantasy book for us all to speed through, and as always, leaves us wanting more. Oh, if only Tricia had a back catalogue of books a mile long.

 

Warrior of the Wild introduces us to Rasmira, the sixth daughter and heir of warrior and village leader, Tolhorn. Like her father, Rasmira is training to be a warrior, and will become one of her village’s famed protectors once she passes her trial. The trial is simple enough for our heroine: slay a ziken (a beast that roams the wilds) and not get bitten. As the best warrior-in-training of her year group, this should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong.  Her trial is sabotaged, and her father is left with no choice but to banish her to the wilds surrounding her village. But – she has the opportunity to return, if, and only if, she completes her mattugur (a seemingly impossible task): kill Peruxolo, the god that has been terrorising Seravin and the surrounding villages for centuries. Rasmira, like all of Levenseller’s other protagonists, is headstrong, fierce and brave. She doesn’t let her banishment dishearten her, and is confident she’ll complete her task and return home – or die trying, at least. Throughout the book, we see Rasmira (or Raz, as she is affectionately nicknamed by her newfound companions – more on them later!), grow and develop, and learn to move past the events that led to her banishment, and accept herself both as a woman and a warrior – because who says she can’t be both?

 

Shortly into her time in the wilds, Rasmira encounters Soren and Iric, two boys from the village of Restin who were banished the year prior. I don’t want to spoil this book for you, so I won’t go into too much detail about these boys or why they were banished (they both have their individual stories that are explained throughout the book), but I will say that you’ll definitely see Rasmira, Soren and Iric as this book’s Golden Trio – as Levenseller has pointed out previously (I think I saw this on her website, but I can’t quite remember). These three have major Golden Trio vibes! While it could be possible to see Soren as Rasmira’s loyal and loveable romantic interest, he’s so much more than that and we really see him open up throughout the book and help Rasmira to move past the events that brought her to the wilds. Iric, on the other hand, begins the book seeing Rasmira as a thorn in his side, but over the course of the story begins to warm up to her, although if you asked him about it, he’d probably never admit it. I think out of both boys, Iric definitely has the most character development, or at least his character arc is more noticeable than Soren’s is. I also think it’s important to note that Iric is gay, and his relationship with another boy, who he was forced to leave behind after his banishment, is a prominent part of his storyline, and to some extent the plot of the book as a whole, so there’s definitely some LGBT representation in Warrior of the Wild.

 

I don’t think I need to speak too much on the writing in Warrior of the Wild – we all know how much I love it. Levenseller’s writing is beautifully simplistic and yet so magical and entrancing, and if you’re in the market for a Fantasy book that doesn’t feel too Fantasy, then WotW – or any of Levenseller’s other books – should have you covered. It’s fast-paced and a standalone, so it’s not going to take too much of your time, and the worldbuilding is both simplistic and detailed enough that it won’t leave you scratching your head like other High Fantasy books or feeling detail-deprived. As I have seen other reviewers describe it, it’s like a palette cleanser.

 

So, like I did with my The Shadows Between Us review, I’ll do a little summary round-up of points that might convince you to read this book if this short review wasn’t just enough for you…

 

You might enjoy Warrior of the Wild if you like… [in no particular order]

  • Viking-inspired books
  • YA Fantasy as a genre
  • Any of Tricia Levenseller’s other books
  • Standalone books
  • Standlone YA Fantasy books!! ;P
  • Palette-cleanser books
  • Golden Trio vibes
  • Strong female characters
  • Slow-burn romance
  • LGBT representation

 

Next review: The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett.