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BOOK REVIEW | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (NO SPOILERS)

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Title:
 Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: Fantasy

Published: 6th September 2016

Format: Paperback

Rating:  star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)

 

 

 

 

“This thing between them, the force of it, could devour the world. And if they picked it, picked them, it might very well cause the end of it.”

 

Synopsis:

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

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We all know by now that I LOVE this series and Sarah J. Maas, and this book was certainly no exception. However, I am going to be completely honest in this review, and say that it took me a little while to buy into this instalment. I wasn’t as excited about the release of EoS as I have been about the previous books, and Queen of Shadows left me quite a bit dissatisfied, so my hopes weren’t super high. But once I got really into it, I was so blown away, that it nearly beat Heir of Fire as my favourite in the series. Nearly!

Continue reading

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BOOK DISCUSSION | Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (SPOILERS!)

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It is books like this that made me start blogging. How can a human being read a book like this and keep all of their thoughts and emotions inside, without someone to explode with excitement to?

EoS begins with Aelin and the gang heading to Terrasen to meet with Darrow and some lords, to try to rally some support. But what is a Sarah J. Maas book without some despair to start off the story? Rejecting her claim as rightful Queen, they deny her her throne and the support she needs for war. But by this point in the series, Aelin has become so strong in herself, that she completely brushes this off, continuing on her journey, and calling in the large number of debts she has earned for herself over her assassin years. Remembering some of that Celaena swagger was a delight to read in this book!

Continue reading

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What We Know So Far | Throne of Glass TV Show

Empire of Storms was released a couple of days ago, and yesterday something equally exciting was released!

It seems like AGES ago that Throne of Glass was actually optioned for TV, but it seems that in the past few days, there have been a few more details released that make this adaptation even more likely!

  • First of all, a title for the TV series has been set as Queen of Shadows (the title of book 4 in the series).
  • Hulu is developing the show
  • Kira Snyder (The 100) is set to be writing the adaptation
  • Anna Foerster (Underworld: Blood Wars) is set to be directing the potential pilot

I’ll link the article that was posted yesterday, that I got this information from HERE!

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It seems that this show may actually potentially be happening in the future!

What are your thoughts though? Are you happy for this series to make it onto your screens, or would you rather it remained on the pages of your books?

Personally, I’m REALLY excited to see how it could be adapted, but I’m trying to imagine it as something completely different. I just hope it’s going to be good!

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BOOK REVIEW | Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Title: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published: 2nd February 2016 (US)
4th February 2016 (UK)

Format: Paperback

Rating:  star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)star

 

 


“War had bled color from everything, leaving nothing but a storm of gray.”

Synopsis:

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

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Despite being a history student, I don’t tend to read historical fiction much, particularly that set in the World Wars. I think, perhaps, that I have read so much non-fiction, and written so many essays, that I tend not to find them as engaging to read. But sometimes it is important to read these stories, to bring some of the emotion and feeling back to such an awful time in our world’s not-so-distant past. And sometimes that can only be done through these fictional stories.

Salt to the Sea was interesting, because it took a very specific aspect of the Second World War (the Wilhelm Gustloff refugee ship) and some very real life issues surrounding it, and gave light to it with characters we could relate to today more easily. Sometimes that is what we need today to fully grasp how awful life was for people at this time; being able to relate to it and put ourselves in that mindset. Ruta Sepetys does that brilliantly through this novel, whilst still retaining an authenticity to the storylines.

I really liked the four different perspectives given throughout the book, and their different angles on the same devastating event. Each chapter is only two or three pages long though, which I personally thought made it harder to fully feel that I knew any of the characters very well. That said, I did still find myself attached to them as a whole (with the exception of one, whom I was hoping would have some more development by the end), and dreading how the ending would play out.

What I loved most though, was that I had not even heard of this ship, despite it being, statistically, one of the greatest maritime disasters ever. Worse even than the likes of the Titanic. This book really opened my eyes to all of the awful things that happened throughout WWII, and how few are taught and studied and shown on TV/film/literature today. I loved reading the Author’s Note on the history of the book, at the end, and felt like I had read a very well researched and thoughtful novel.

It wouldn’t call it the best book I have read, set in this period, and it was perhaps a little too short for me to fully connect to the characters themselves, but it was a beautifully written and delicate book that really gets you thinking about the atrocities of war that no one ever tells you.

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August Wrap-Up | 2016

What a successful reading month I had in August. Can you guess how many books I read?

Don’t worry, I shall tell you…

Drum roll please…

 

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That’s right, I read zero books in August.

I really have no excuses, other than work, being on holiday in Paris, and moving into my new house. I guess life just got too busy!

There’s nothing else much to say on the reading front, and just because I don’t want to finish the post on an embarrassing, negative note, I’ll tell you about what I watched instead…

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Yes, the Netflix show that everyone seems to be talking about! And what an amazing show it is! I am not a fan of the creepy, scary things, but I LOVED Stranger Things. I watched the first three episodes, and thought I wasn’t going to carry on with it, because it was creeping me out a little, and I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about it enough yet to outweigh that. But the hype around this show kept playing on me! So I pushed through, and man am I glad that I did!

For those of you who don’t already know (what rock are you living under?) Stranger Things is the story of a boy who disappears, and the people on the search for him, and all of the super weird, creepy, supernatural revelations and reasons surrounding it. It’s slow to start, but about half way in it gets so intense that you just can’t stop watching it!

And it’s only 8 episodes, which means you don’t have to dedicate as much time (which I guess could also be a downside!).

If I were to rate it as I rate books, I would probably give it a 4.5/5 – only because it took me a few episodes to fully get into it.

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I have also been watching a bit of the Big Bang Theory. I only started watching BBT a couple of months ago (I know, I am soooooo behind!) and I’ve really been enjoying watching an odd episode whilst doing other things. (I sound like I’m some sort of professional multi-tasker here, but I’m seriously not!!!)

So that’s my fail of a reading wrap up for August! Here’s hoping for a much better month of reading during September (even though so far the total is still zero!).

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Hopefully you guys did much better than me! How much did you read? What was your favourite? And has anyone else watched and loved Stranger Things?

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Readers Can Relate #4 – DNFing books

I don’t know about you, but leaving a book unfinished and putting it on that DNF (Did Not Finish) shelf on goodreads…it’s a horrible feeling! But sometimes it’s got to be done. We do have a TBR pile as tall as the Eiffel Tower to complete, you know!

Here are some of the reasons I have DNFed a book – hopefully you can relate to some of them…

 

1) The book that is just so mind-numbingly boring…

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There is only so long you can force yourself to read those utterly dull sentences. It starts with a bit of skimming over the REALLY boring parts, then missing the long description bits, until eventually the whole thing is too draining to push yourself through, and you just have to give up!

 

2) The book you have been anticipating for a long time…

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Except this time, the anticipation doesn’t last though. Maybe it’s the amount of hype, or maybe you had too high expectations, but for some reason this book you were so highly anticipating is not fun to read at all! These can be the hardest to DNF because of how much energy went into being excited for it’s release, but let’s be honest: there’s probably another five books you’re excited for, being released soon! 

 

3) The book that is too uncomfortable, that you know straight way this is not a book for you…

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Sometimes it’s a theme or message the book is portraying that just doesn’t sit right with you, but there’s that gut feeling inside of you that pushes you away from this novel.

 

4) The book that you read before…oh wait no it wasn’t this book…but it feels just like it…

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You’ve literally read this same storyline, these same character tropes, the same themes, and the same romantic arc about a thousand times! Perhaps these are all the same books, with a different cover? Either way, these books become so predictable that there almost becomes no point in finishing it. And when there are so many unique stories around, why settle?

 

5) And don’t get me started on the book where the female protagonist has to be rescued by the male love interest about fifty times in the duration of a 400 page novel…

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If you read YA, or indeed if you read at all, you’ve read one of these books. And it works the other way around too. Basically, any book where the main character relies on the love interest to do stuff for them. 

 

6) The book with terrible writing

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You know, that book that is just impossible to read due to how badly written it is! It just makes no sense. When you are an avid reader/book blogger and find yourself wondering whether you can actually read, it’s probably time to put the book down!

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Personally, I used to hate DNFing books. I used to force myself through, even if I hated it, just because I couldn’t stand leaving the story incomplete. But now I find I do it quite often. At the end of the day, I read for enjoyment, and if I’m not enjoying a book, I’m not going to read it!

I also then stop myself from posting reviews of these books. Why? I’m scared of the backlash from people saying I can’t have a proper say on the book if I haven’t read it all. And although I do sometimes agree with this view, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and sometimes not being able to finish a book is enough evidence to go on to write a negative review.

What are your thoughts on not finishing books? And do you review your DNF books?

 

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Wrap-Up | July 2016

I wanted to read four books this month, and I read four *cue polite round of applause…from myself*. It may not have been the four I had planned, but I’m still counting it as a success!!

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13933196_1275473765796699_1050536899_nIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Rating: 3/5
Review
I really enjoyed this book, and it made me very happy and smiley. Stephanie Perkins is just an amazing ‘happy book’ writer. I had a few issues with the storyline and some of the themes, but overall I enjoyed it, and really enjoyed Isla and Josh as individual characters (even if I didn’t buy them together!).

 

 

13874867_1275473779130031_1465228130_nJust One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman
Rating: 3/5
I still haven’t collected my thoughts enough on this book to write a decent review. On the one hand, I completely loved the writing, themes and travelling in this story, but on the other hand I STILL didn’t like Willem, I felt it was a bit too slow, and I did have to really push myself through the last half of the book. I will definitely be reading Just One Night though, because if there’s anything worse than a cliffhanger, it’s a double cliff-hanger (which these two books very kindly gave us!).

 

13871727_1272360739441335_1664600771_nGathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3) by Morgan Rhodes
Rating: 5/5
Review
Spoiler Discussion
This is my favourite of the series so far! I absolutely loved the twists and turns of the plot, and fell in love with some of the characters even more (hint hint: Magnus). I feel like I’m getting slightly more engrossed in this series with each book! Thankfully I already have Frozen Tides in my possession, so I think I know the first book I will be reading in August!

 

13874660_1275473792463363_799182924_nHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
Rating: 5/5
Review
Firstly I do have to say: I can understand why people might have been dissappointed with this story. Now that I’ve had time to reflect on it, I do realise that nostalgia, and my blinding love for everything Harry Potter probably made me enjoy this book immensely more than I may have otherwise. But I don’t really care, because I did love it, and I did really enjoy it – whatever the reason! The story in itself is just so cool because it’s our favourite characters, and also really well-thought-out new ones. It has just made me way more desperate to see the actual play though!

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I also still have two books on the go…
– The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (yep, that one I started back in April!)
– Summer Days and Summer Nights (I managed to read about four or five of the stories, so I nearly made it half way through, but I just wasn’t really enjoying it, so I’m not sure whether I will be carrying on, or just picking odd stories to read when I’m in the mood, like I did with ‘My True Love Gave to Me’).

How was your July reading? What were some of your favourites of the month? Anyone else already read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – what did you think?

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On Writing | What am I writing?

Once I mentioned that I was writing a novel, I got a few questions about what it is exactly that I’m writing. At the moment, I don’t want to share the exact details of the story. Partly because it is still being planned and structured, and things may either change, and partly because it still feels so personal and secret to me that I don’t want to share it right now. However, I do want to let you know some of the basics of the story, so you know what sort of thing it is that I’m writing! So here’s a few bullet points…

  • It’s a YA fantasy novel (If you’ve been with me a while, you probably would have guessed that!).
  • I’m not yet sure whether it will be 3 or 5 books (depending on how much I can get into each book!)
  • The main character is called Iola
  • The story came to me whilst watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame (yep, the Disney movie!) and there’s one specific scene that the whole story has stemmed from – but I can’t mention which scene because… spoilers!!
  • The story begins at the end of a war (rather than at the start of one), and the world and characters that have been left in the aftermath. Pretty much every epic fantasy series has a war in it, but I thought it would be interesting to think about what life would be like once a war was over.
  • There are elves and dragons, as well as plain old humans and magical humans.
  • I have been working with the title ‘Songs of Dreams’ (although that is most likely going to change), because singing and dreams are central to Iola’s magic (which includes mind control through song).
  • The magic in this world is based on the mind and psychology.

So that’s all I’m going to share at this point. I am aware it all sounds a little generic so far, but I just don’t feel ready to give away any real details yet!

I thought it would be more interesting though, to show you some of the pictures and songs that have been inspiring this novel, because that’s how you can really get a little picture of what is going on inside my head!

 

As you can see, my mood board is basically lots of greens, plants, and dream-like gazes off into the distance. Which all makes sense to the story, and Iola’s character and world.

 

And some of the songs that have inspired certain scenes in my story…

 

Mononoke Hime (AKA the song this book could not have existed without! Particularly from 5 minutes in. I pretty much wrote the whole of the first draft of the story to Joe Hisaishi’s 25 year Concert!)

Starvation – Thomas Bergerson (this is the song that fits with the scene that the Hunchback of Notre Dame inspired, which probably makes absolutely no sense when you listen to it, but it does in my own crazy head! In fact, there’s a lot of Thomas Bergerson’s music on my playlist – I just find it so moving and emotional!)

The Bioluminescence of the Night – AVATAR  (This song helps me picture one of the lands in the book very well. A land with dragons in, of course!)

The Equator – Brooke Fraser (this is one of the very few songs on my writing playlist with actual singing. I usually prefer instrumentals, because the words in the singing can put me off from the words I’m trying to get on the page. But this song is an exception, and a very recent addition to my playlist, because it is so atmospheric and fits right in with the feel of my story!)

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That’s all I can share right now. Hopefully I can share more with you as I write more!

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BOOK REVIEW | Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

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Title:
 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One and Two)

Author: J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Genre: Fantasy

Published: 31st July 2016

Format: Hardback

Rating:  star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)star (1)

 

 

“The world changes and we change with it. I am better off in this world. But the world is not better. And I don’t want that.”

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This book held so much power. It had the power to either re-ignite the Harry Potter love, make us all fall in love with the world again, and overwhelm us with emotion. But it also had the power to completely underwhelm us, with an add-on that was just not up to the standards we now have for anything Harry Potter. Thankfully, this book ran straight down the first scenario for me, and now I want to re-read all of the books, re-watch all of the movies, get all of my HP merch out, drink butter-beer, cry about not getting my Hogwarts letter yet…(it’s coming, okay!!).

I was a little apprehensive as this is a script, and although I usually enjoy reading plays, they never quite have the same depth to them as a novel. I was concerned that the absence of Rowling’s brilliant descriptions would make this a much less enjoyable read. But it may as well have been a novel for how vividly I pictured the settings and characters and the unfolding of the story. The stage directions literally make this book like reading a film, and completely engrossed me.

Albus and Scorpius as characters were thoroughly wonderful to read, and definitely almost nearly brought tears to my eyes a few times! And, of course, re-visiting all of our favourites: Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny etc. was THE BEST!

I also thought the plot of this story was very clever, as well as a much needed wrap up to understand just how the world everyone fought for in the seven books actually affected the characters, as well as how much the characters themselves affected the world.

Of course, watching the play first-hand would have been the most amazing thing, but for all of us unable to see it, this is seriously the next best thing, and there was no way it could gain any less than 5 wonderful stars!

 

 

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BOOK DISCUSSION | Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3) by Morgan Rhodes (SPOILERS!!!)

THIS BOOK THIS BOOK THIS BOOK

The feels from this book.

Please bear in mind that I am writing this pretty much straight after finishing the book, on a Monday night, when I should probably be sleeping. But ya know…priorities = talking about this book. Otherwise sleep is probably not an option!

This book was absolutely amazing and I gave it 5 stars. If you want to check out the NON-SPOILER review then click here, but if you have already read the book and want to know all my SPOILERY thoughts then keep on reading!!!

Okay, so let’s start with a quick summary of what happened in this book…

Magnus becomes even more bae.
Cleo is a scarily good liar but we love her for it.
Lucia is one dumb girl, like seriously come on girl! She gives me the creeps though.
Jonas is a pathetic rebel leader. Where would he be without my new fave, Felix?
Lysandra is badass!
Alexius is strange and untrustworthy and I didn’t like him.
Nic and Ashur tore out my heart.
I would like King Gaius dead please.
Amara needs to be dead too if you don’t mind?
Please stop killing the characters I love though!
Or the feels will start killing me!

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Now the super fast summary is out of the way, I’m going to assume you know what happened in the book, and go into all details and fun stuff…

I am a Magnus+Cleo shipper, and this book certainly did not disappoint! The tension between these two has just been growing and growing! As soon as Magnus rescued Cleo from execution, I was just waiting for one of them to admit something! Magnus is by no means a changed man by the end of this book, but I think as a reader we begin to relate to him on a much more emotional level. As his feelings for Cleo visibly grow, I think he does become a little softer. It does say a lot of Cleo though, that she can see past Magnus’ harsh outer shell, his evil family, and what he has (in part) done to her family, and still have feelings for him. I don’t think even by the end of this book she knows those feelings are fully romantic, but they definitely have some feelings and I need to see how they play out in the next book!

“Magnus had come to a horrible realization. One that he knew would cause him nothing but pain and suffering from that day forward.
But there was no changing the truth of it.
He had fallen in love with her.”

I liked how most of the romantic pairings seemed to be going in this book, with the grand exception of Lucia and Alexius! I really liked them together in Rebel Spring, but their relationship made me so frustrated in Gathering Darkness. He was just so off from the beginning, and the fact that Lucia didn’t really question him at all, and after about two weeks was all ready to elope and marry him…she is clearly a very sad and lonely girl. She really needs a good friendship, and I was really hoping that Cleo could have been that for her. I honestly thought that she would tell Lucia the truth about her ring and telling Jonas about the Kindred, and that they could have somehow worked together. But then I forgot I was reading a Morgan Rhodes book where nothing really works out for the best does it?

Jonas was my least favourite character again. His chapters are by far my least favourite of all. They’re not bad at all, he just really annoys me. He is a bit useless. On the one hand, I like that the rebel leader is not the physically strongest character, despite probably having the best motives, as it makes for some interesting character dynamics with other characters around him (like Lysandra and Felix). But mostly it just annoys me. I still don’t think he has quite grasped how serious his role is, or how much planning needs to happen to pull of a successful rebellion. I really hope that in future books he comes out of himself a bit, because at the moment I feel that he isn’t really a character without the other characters around him!

Prince Ashur and Princess Amara were probably my favourite characeters in this book, even more so than the main four. When Ashur turned on Nic near the end of the book, I was frantically searching his characeter for some way he could be good, but I was not expecting what actually happened at all! I think the ‘flashback’ of Ashur’s plans completely shocked me, but in a very good way. I recovered from my surprise and was just happy. And then he dies!!!???? Why are you doing this to my heart, sad book!?

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That scene brought me close to tears, I was so upset and shocked. I feel like Morgan Rhodes saves all of the plot-twists for the last 50 pages of the book so they all happen at the same time and we can’t cope with it all and cry until we can get to the next book.

I want to talk about that final scene though! Lucia manages to take Melania’s power and kill her, and feels creepily satisfied at doing so – I mean I know Melenia was evil but at the moment I feel like Lucia could become worse. I like Lucia as a character, and I really want to root for her, but her decisions were so stupid in this book. I have no idea what she and the newly awakened god of fire (Gathering Darkness at it again with the random plot twists) are going to do together, but I am very interested to see where it will go, and what side Lucia will choose by the end.

I just ended up finishing this book with a bajillion questions: How will Magnus regain favour with his father, King Gaius, after killing Cronus, freeing Cleo, and failing to return with Lucia? Will his feelings for Cleo change his actions at all? Will Jonas and Felix re-unite together? How will Nic deal with Prince Ashur’s death? And who one earth is supposed to be the main villain now?

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Thank you Thank you that Frozen Tides is already out! At least I can put all of my feelings back into reading the next book!