WWW Wednesday: 15th January 2020

The WWW Wednesday meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingBefore the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners, #3)

I’m having some trouble deciding on my next read so have been rereading bits of my fave books until I do.

On audio I’m still making steady progress on Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray, Think I listened to a good three or four hours. I do still have quite a way to go though and with the fourth book sitting waiting on my kindle I do feel like I need to get a shift on.


Recently Finished

Shades of Wicked (Night Rebel, #1)This Is How You Lose the Time WarThe Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club, #1)

Last week was my first week back at work after the Christmas break and wow, that was a shock to the system. I did however manage to finish three books, all from my backlist, the first of which was Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost. I do love Jeaniene Frost’s books and her writing but I am a little on the fence about this new spinoff series. Main character Ian has never really been my favourite in the other books and it really took a while for me to warm up to him in this. It does have an absolutely stunning ending and I’m totally going to read on but I miss my Vlad.

Despite saying last week that I would have zero concentration for books and would probably be best sticking to romcoms I did for some reason decide to read This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. It’s been sitting on my TBR for a while and I was very much looking forward to it but it was definitely not the right time to read it. It is a wonderful book, original, unique and if you can give it your full attention incredibly engaging and beautiful. But, as someone who was tired, stressed and whose brain was all over the place this was a difficult read. The language is flowery and if I’m honest difficult for me (I had to look up a few words) and the concept not the easiest to get your head around particularly as there’s little explanation and you have to just pick it up as you go. I did like it but I think I’m going to have to read it again at some point in the future when I can give it the attention it deserves.

As you can probably imagine after that book I needed something much, much easier so went for The Bromance Bookclub by Lyssa Kay Adams and boy this book was everything I needed. Funny, cute and very, very sweet. I loved the whole idea of this group of successful men reading regency romances to sort out the problems with the women in their lives.


Reading Next

I made the mistake of going to a bookstore on Saturday where I noticed that quite a few of the books sitting on my NetGalley shelf are actually out in the world already. I feel like I need to maybe make some progress with my ARCs over the next couple of weeks. I’m therefore hoping to pick up the following:-

The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, #2)Just As You AreInfinity Son (Infinity Cycle, #1)

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading ❤

TTT: Bookish Discoveries I Made in 2019

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme that was started by The Broke and Bookish and moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018.  It was born of a love of lists (something I share) and each week participants come up with a list of ten(ish) things based on a theme.

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is Bookish Discoveries I Made in 2019. I have to admit I seriously struggled with this week’s topic. There were just too many things to choose from, authors, books, blogs, publishers, bookish merch… I’ve therefore gone with a sort of scattergun approach of slightly random stuff that caught my attention during 2019. I apologize in advance…


Authors

Skyward (Skyward, #1)I could quite easily fill the whole top ten with author’s I discovered during 2019 but I really wanted to include some other stuff so I’ll just go with the standouts. 2019 was the year when I finally picked up books by Jay Kristoff and Brandon Sanderson. I’ve had their books on my shelf for ages but with the hype around them kept putting them off. Having now finally read them I can confirm that all of the hype is 100% justified. Both Skyward and the Nevernight trilogy were in my fave books of the year.

Samantha Downing and Beth O’Leary also seriously impressed me with their debut books My Lovely Wife and The Flatshare putting them very squarely on my “must look out for books by” list. Also on that list are Will Carver, Antti Tuomainen, Doug Johnstone and pretty much every author on Orenda Book’s list. Their books are just so original and different.

Genres

The End We Start FromEvery year I make a half hearted attempt at the Popsugar Challenge and every year I probably only manage to fill around half the prompts but it does almost always lead to some kind of discovery and a broadening of my reading. In 2019 that discover was new genres. I seriously had no idea that cli-fi and LitRPG were even a thing but apparently they are. I will admit to not being so keen on LitRPG (I found Ready Player One kind of boring) but I am liking cli-fi (probably due to my love of dystopians and post apocalypse stories)

New Book Festivals

CYMERACapture

I love a good bookish event, particularly when it’s genre fiction so was very excited for the very first Cymera festival in Edinburgh in June 2019. Over the weekend there were around 70 science fiction, fantasy and horror writers including Victoria Schwab, Claire North, Ben Aaronovitch and Adrian Tchaikovsky.

shoe (2)I was volunteering at the event so I didn’t get to see a huge number of authors (I was selling tickets in the box office) but the events I did make it to were brilliant and with it being the first year it wasn’t too crazy. I did get to chat to a few authors, publicists etc as they stopped into reception, and had a fantastic if somewhat stressful time (why do printers hate me). I also discovered that Anna Smith Spark has the best shoes ever.

Also last year was the first ever Capital Crime festival in London. I didn’t manage to make it as it was a little too close to the Bloody Scotland Festival but the programme looked incredible. There’s a strong possibility I’ll be wandering my way down there this year.

CYOA

When I was younger I used to absolutely love Choose Your Own Adventure books so I was very excited to see them making something of a comeback in 2019 with some adult versions. I read a couple of them during the year, mostly would you survive a zombie apocalypse style stories (I would not), and had a lot of fun. The absolute highlight of the year CYOA wise however was Susan Dennard’s Twitter CYOA, the Luminaries. Every day for 6 months hive mind Winnie (aka around 2000 followers) made some incredibly poor decisions in a story full of magic, romance and adventure. It was hands down the best thing on Twitter even if we did spend around a fortnight in a garage trying to decide whether to take a dirt bike or a car.

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle, #3)Footnotes

I finally picked up the Nevernight trilogy by Jay Kristoff this year and discovered the joy and horror of reading books with extensive footnotes. The footnotes were brilliant and definitely had a lot of the funniest moments but trying to read them in an ebook was just hell. I did manage better with a physical copy of the book but to be honest I had to resort to the audiobook to make it through Darkdawn.

Full Cast AudiobooksIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

I’ve always been a little anti full cast audiobooks, I tried to listen to one a year or so ago and hated it, but this year after listening to Illuminae and Daisy Jones and the Six discovered just how good they can be. Illuminae in particularly completely blew me away with how fantastic it was (I did not think that book could ever work on audio) and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series.

 


So that’s my discoveries from 2019. Did you make any discoveries last year that you think everyone should know about?

Feel free to leave comments below and links to your top ten’s.

ARC Review: Highfire by Eoin Colfer

Highfire by Eoin Colfer
Highfire
by Eoin Colfer was definitely an original read but despite a very promising premise and some wonderful writing I’m afraid this just wasn’t for me.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

From the internationally bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series: Eoin Colfer’s first adult fantasy novel is a hilarious, high-octane adventure about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who’s been hiding out from the world – and potential torch-carrying mobs – in a Louisiana bayou . . . until his peaceful world’s turned upside down by a well-intentioned but wild Cajun tearaway and the crooked (and heavily armed) law officer who wants him dead.

Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way – like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him…

An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke’s unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy’s reputation.

Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou – and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp…

For Squib Moreau, Regence Hooke and Vern, aka Lord Highfire of Highfire Eyrie, life is never going to be the same again.

Highfire is a genre-bending tour-de-force of comedy and action by the million-copy-selling master storyteller.


MY REVIEW

I have to confess I’m at a little bit of a loss on what to say about this so am really struggling to review. I didn’t dislike anything about it but there was nothing I especially liked either. I seem to have found myself in the position of having literally no feelings about it which is probably not a good sign for me but doesn’t mean others won’t love it.

I did love the sound of it, I mean it’s dragons who doesn’t love the sound of any book with a dragon, it just seemed so weird and quirky and while I hadn’t read a book by Colfer before he does seem to be highly regarded. Hopes were therefore high.

And… the story is unique, the writing can’t be faulted and the characters are interesting but I’m afraid I just never connected with any of it. I kept reading out of curiosity about where it would go but never really became emotionally involved.

I do have the feeling it’s maybe supposed to be funny? But honestly I’m not sure and if it is it wasn’t my sense of humour.

It was an easy and quick read and the story flows along quite nicely. There’s plenty of action (and I should probably say violence and swearing) and it’s certainly not predictable.

I think a lot of people will like it but I’m afraid I don’t think it was for me.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. All views are my own.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ARC Review: Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

Foul is Fair
Foul Is Fair
by Hannah Capin is an absolutely stunning read and nothing like I thought it would be. Powerful and fierce, I found myself unable to put it down and even when I wasn’t reading it I couldn’t stop thinking about it (or wanting to talk to people about it). I loved it.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Jade Khanjara and her three best friends rule their glittering LA circle. They decide how the party ends – every night but one. The night four boys spike Jade’s drink, lock her in a room and brutally attack her. The night they try to ruin her.

But they chose the wrong girl. Certain that the boys will face no consequences, Jade and her friends take vengeance into their own hands. There’s no mercy left: and now Jade won’t rest until she gets bloody satisfaction . . .


MY REVIEW

Wow… Just wow!!!

I was not expecting that and in fact for the first few chapters I wasn’t sure I was going to get on with this book at all. The writing style is unique, it’s heavy on imagery (lots of references to birds and talons and wings), and I’m still not sure I liked it (not a fan of imagery) but this wouldn’t be anywhere near as powerful and original without it.

Despite the pretty big clue in the title I honestly didn’t realise this was a YA retelling of Macbeth till I was around quarter of the way through. The story follows Elle/Jade, the Lady Macbeth, who with the help of her three best friends, vows to get revenge on the group of boys who drugged and sexually assaulted her at a party. She changes her appearance and sets about infiltrating their group with a view to destroying them from the inside.

Jade is an incredibly powerful, complex and unique character and one I don’t think I’ll forget any time soon. She’s a popular, mean girl from a wealthy family who is determined to not let what happened to her change her. While she’s downright nasty to those who are trying to help her and isn’t necessarily that likeable you can’t help but admire her determination to not let what happens change her. She refuses to be a victim or even a survivor and I found myself somewhat rooting for her to succeed even though her plan seems crazy and over the top.

As you can probably imagine this is not an easy read. The assault is off the page but it’s referred to throughout. It’s a violent and twisted story that even I found a little shocking at times. It is however incredibly well done and once I got past my initial uncertainty about the writing style I couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those stories that invades your thoughts, that even when you’re not reading keeps buzzing around your head.

As someone who studied Macbeth at school (many, many years ago). I loved all of the little references to the original. The naming of the characters does make it a little obvious who is in which part (Mack, Banks, Duffy, Duncan) but it’s still fantastic to watch the drama unfold and there are so many other small references and quotes snuck in that it’s a joy for any fans of the original.

That being said, it probably doesn’t matter if you don’t know the play, it’s just as powerful and engaging on it’s own merit, but I think you will get so much more out of it if you do.

Overall this is a stunning read and one that I think I’ll remember for a long time to come.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. This has in no way influenced my review.

My rating: 4.75 of 5 stars

WWW Wednesday: 8th January 2020

The WWW Wednesday meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners, #3)

I got a little bit swept up with the whole Dracula thing at the end of last week, the new BBC adaptation was fantastic, so decided I really had to find a vampire book to read. And, when I think vampire book I think Jeaniene Frost (her Night Huntress and Night Prince series’ are a lot of fun). It therefore seemed a good time to start her latest book Shades of Wicked. It’s set in the same world as the other series’ and there’s quite a bit of character overlap so I am loving it. The main character Ian isn’t necessarily the easiest to like but I’m definitely warming up to him 😉

After some swithering I decided to start the third book in the Diviners series,  Before the Devil Breaks You, on audio and I think this was the right decision as I’m very much enjoying it. I’m loving that all of the main characters have come together even if they do all have their own stories going on. My only gripe is how light Evie and Sam’s roles have been so far as they are my favourite characters.


Recently Finished

Bitter Falls (Stillhouse Lake #4)Just a Boyfriend (End of the Line #2)

I’ve been playing catch up with my blog posts over the last week which has kind of eaten into my reading time but I have managed to finish two books. The first Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine was one of my most anticipated reads. I’m a big fan of Caine’s writing and have been loving the Stillhouse Lake series. However while this started well I felt like it lost it’s way around the middle and started to fall into the same routine as the previous books in the series. I’ll no doubt still read book 5 when it comes out but I’m hoping Caine will change things up.

The second book finished was new adult romance Just a Boyfriend by Sariah Wilson. Wilson is a new discovery for me and I’ve been really enjoying her writing. I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re original or that they particularly wow me but I do find them addictive reading and a great way to spend a lazy afternoon reading. This one is a sort of stepbrother romance, I say sort of because technically the couple at the center of the story were together before their parents even met. There are a few deeper themes running through the story, cancer, drug use and depression but overall it’s an easy read.


Reading Next

Work is going to be hellish over the next two to three weeks, January is always bad, so it’s likely I’ll be reading mostly romcoms as I doubt I’ll have a lot of focus. I’m leaning towards the following:-

The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club, #1)Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered, #1)Just As You Are

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading ❤

TTT: Most Anticipated Books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme that was started by The Broke and Bookish and moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018.  It was born of a love of lists (something I share) and each week participants come up with a list of ten(ish) things based on a theme.

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020. I’ve actually been trying to focus on backlist books and not new books coming out as I really want to reduce my TBR not add to it but these ones have been on my radar for a while. The links will take you to the GoodReads page, if you want to check any of them out.


Burn

Burn by Patrick Ness (May 2020) – It’s Patrick Ness and it’s dragons do I really need to say anymore… OK, his last couple of books haven’t been my favourites but his writing is always wonderful and the stories imaginative and unique. I can’t wait to see what he does with this.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (Jan 2020) – Technically this came out yesterday but I’m counting it. I absolutely loved the first book in the series A Curse So Dark and Lonely (here’s my review) which was a Beauty and the Beast inspired story and I love Kemmerer’s writing so this has got to be a win-win. Fingers crossed it lives up to expectations.

The Switch

The Switch by Beth O’Leary (April 2020) – I LOVED O’Leary’s debut The Flatshare so have been anxiously awaiting anything by her and this sounds like such a cute story. A pensioner and a 20 something swap places for a couple of months and maybe find love. If it’s anything like The Flatshare I fully anticipate this having a little more depth than the blurb would suggest.

Pretending

Pretending by Holly Bourne (April 2020) – This isn’t out till April but I’ve already been hearing a lot of great things about it. I’m not wholly surprised as Bourne’s first adult novel How Do You Like Me Now? is one of my all time favourite reads. Bourne has an incredible ability to weave current issues into her stories and capture how a lot of women really feel.

Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire (Jan 2020) – I was absolutely heartbroken when my NetGalley request for this was declined. The Wayward Children series is absolutely brilliant, so I’ve been ridiculously excited about the fifth book in the series particularly as it seems to follow favourite character Jack. I love the world building, the characters and the imagination of the whole thing. Looking on the positive side though a declined request means I can listen to it on audio, which is how I’ve read all of the others in the series.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (May 2020)  – Like a lot of people I suspect I am both eagerly anticipating and slightly dreading this Hunger Games prequel. It has the potential to be either brilliant or terrible. One thing is for sure, I won’t be able to resist reading it.

The Girl and the Stars (Book of the Ice, #1)

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence (April 2020) – Should I really be starting a new series when I have so many others unfinished (Book of the Ancestor included)? Probably not. Am I going to? Most certainly. I love Lawrence’s stories. I do think I should probably finish the Book of the Ancestor trilogy first though.

The Notorious Virtues (The Notorious Virtues, #1)

The Notorious Virtues by Alwyn Hamilton (May 2020) – Have to confess that cover is a BIG part of why I want to read this book, I mean look at it. That is one stunning cover. I almost don’t care what the stories about. I was however a big fan of Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands trilogy so I have no doubt the content will live up to expectations.

Our Little Cruelties

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent (March 2020) – I really, really love Liz Nugent’s books. Every single one starts with a killer opening sentence and this one is no exception. I am expecting something dark and twisty with absolutely horrible characters doing absolutely horrible things.

He Started It

He Started It by Samantha Downing (April 2020) – Downing’s first novel, My Lovely Wife was one of my favourite books of 2019 so as soon as I heard about her new one it went straight on my TBR. It sounds just as dark and twisted and I can’t wait to read it.


So that’s my 10 most anticipated books from the first half of 2020. Are any of these on your list or is there a book you’re particularly looking forward to that I should really be adding to my TBR?

Feel free to leave comments below and links to your top ten’s.

Review: Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine

Bitter Falls (Stillhouse Lake #4)Despite high hopes and a very promising start I’m afraid Bitter Falls by Rachel Caine failed to wow me. It’s still a very enjoyable read and Caine’s writing is as wonderful as always but I kind of wish the story had gone in a slightly different direction.

Spoiler Alert: as this is the fourth book in the Stillhouse Lake series there may be some very mild spoilers for the previous books from here on in. If you’re considering reading the series (and you should) you may be better checking out my review for the first book here


THE BLURB

She’s investigating a cold case no one else could—by going places no else would dare.

In spite of a harrowing past still haunting her, Gwen Proctor is trying to move forward. Until a new assignment gives her purpose: the cold-case disappearance of a young man in Tennessee. Three years missing, no clues. Just Ruth Landry, a tortured mother in limbo. Gwen understands what it’s like to worry about your children.

Gwen’s investigation unearths new suspects…and victims. As she follows each sinister lead, the implications of the mystery grow more disturbing. Because the closer Gwen gets, the closer she is to a threat that looms back home.

In a town that’s closed its ranks against Gwen; her partner, Sam; and her kids, there’s no bolder enemy than the Belldene family—paramilitary, criminal, powerful, and vengeful. As personal vendettas collide with Gwen’s investigation, she’s prepared to fight both battles. But is she prepared for the toll it could take on everyone she loves?


MY REVIEW

I love Rachel Caine’s writing and I love this series but while Bitter Falls, the fourth book in the series had a very promising start I have to confess I found my attention begin to wander partway through and I was left feeling somewhat unsatisfied by the ending.

There is a lot to like about it and overall this is definitely an enjoyable read. The prologue at the start for example makes for some truly chilling reading and I loved the way it introduced the reader to the cult at the centre of the story. I was intrigued by the case Gwen is investigating of a missing young man and I was impressed by the way Gwen goes about getting the information she needs.

Gwen herself remains one of my favourite characters, she’s so resilient and so fiercely protective of her family. I love her determination and her fight but also how she keeps trying to do the best for her children. Her development over the series has been wonderful to watch. I also liked the new characters the author introduced in this story, the Belldene family, Gwen’s new boss and co workers and even relatively minor characters such as the parents of the missing boy. Each and every one felt believable and well rounded and there are a few I hope will pop up again in future books.

I do feel however like the story took a bit of a wrong turn and an opportunity was missed to take things into new territory and really develop the characters. Instead of allowing the characters to do their own thing, the whole family is pulled into the case Gwen’s investigating and it becomes a repeat of the previous books.

What makes it so frustrating is that there are some intriguing routes the story could have gone down. Yes, the cult side is fascinating but I wanted to see the family dealing with every day life now that they have decided to stop running and hiding. I mean they have some serious issues, Sam is carrying a lot of guilt and being targeted by the group he started up to get revenge on Gwen, Connor is understandably suffering from PTSD and Lanny is struggling to figure out where she fits. Add to that the local Hillbilly mafia (paramilitary, criminals & drug dealers) who are trying to run the family out of town and I feel like there was plenty of other material for the story to work with.

I did love the links with the previous books and how certain storylines carry across books, it would be unrealistic if they didn’t, but sometimes there do seem to be too many coincidences and there are only so many times the same things can keep happening to this family. I also felt like there wasn’t really much character development in this story. Sam in particular feels like he’s pushed to the background, he does have an important role in the story and there are a few chapters from his pov but I didn’t feel like there was any real development or that we got to know and understand him any better which is a pity as I find him the most intriguing.

It seemed too as if there were certain threads that were left hanging and the ending felt a little bit rushed to me with many things unresolved. I don’t expect all loose ends to be tied up when reading a series but it just kind of stopped.

Overall this is by no means a bad read and there is a lots to like about it. I’m just a little disappointed that the story fell back into the familiar rather than going in the new direction I hoped for. If you’ve read and enjoyed the other books in the series I’m fairly certain you’ll enjoy this one too.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars