Monday, 1 September 2014

August Round Up and Book of the Month

August's Book of the Month is Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

I was one of the few who thought that Throne of Glass was just an okay read and so I've been happily surprised that this series just keeps getting better and better. Heir of Fire is without doubt my new favourite of this series and one of my favourite reads of this year. I don't want to say too much about it in case anyone reading this hasn't started this series yet but if you'd like to know more of my thoughts on this book check out my review here. The only thing I will say for fans of this series is that Celaena Sardothien has never been more badass!

Read in August
63.) Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (5*)
64.) Written in the Stars by Ali Harris (4*)
65.) Rebel Heart by Moira Young (3.5*)
66.) Conversion by Katherine Howe (2*)
67.) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (5*)
68.) Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead (4.5*)
69.) Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (5*)
70.) Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (4*)
71.) Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (3.5*)

Monthly Book Awards
Best Plot: Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Best Writing: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Best Cover: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Best Characters: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Best Ending: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Best Romance: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Most un-put-down-able: Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Most Memorable: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Best Moral: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Top 3 Most Recommended Books: Heir of Fire, Little Lies, Isla and the Happily Ever After. 

Books I’m Looking Forward to Being Released in September 
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
Magisterium: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
Get Even by Gretchen McNeil
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Falling into Place by Amy Zhang
The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

 What was the best book you read in August? 
 And what are you looking forward to reading this month?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Event Diary: Leigh Bardugo and Moira Young's Writing Workshop and Signing

Last week saw me catching the train to Birmingham again with Ray, this time to attend the writing workshop with Leigh Bardugo and Moira Young hosted by the lovely team at Waterstones high street. This particular event took place at noon instead of the usual evening time which was nice because this time we got to hang out with some blog friends before and after the event instead of rushing off to get the train home. Before Leigh and Moira came out we got to catch up with Jasprit from The Readers Den and Lily from The Whispering of the Pages in which we admired Jas’s signed proof of Talon by Julie Kagawa and some girls behind me got pretty excited when I pulled out my then read Heir of Fire which lead on to me explaining about book blogging which is always fun!

Rachel, Me and Jasprit

Before long Leigh and Moira took to the front and were asked all sorts of questions about writing from early drafts to finding an agent. I have no real aspirations to become an author but even from a fans perspective the interview was very interesting especially as Leigh and Moira had very different approaches to the writing process. Rach on the other hand has been writing a YA Fantasy book this year and so I was really proud when she plucked up the courage to ask her question about world building. As her Alpha reader I surprisingly also picked up some good tips on how to help her as best I can.
Moira and Leigh

After the interview there was a signing and it was so lovely to meet both Leigh and Moira. I’m part of Leigh’s Grisha Army and have supported this series since I read the first book as a proof copy. I was thrilled that Leigh knew my blog and she gave me a hug and thanked me for supporting her books which is always so nice to hear! Moira’s books I only started reading a few months ago in preparation for this event but I completely fell in love with Blood Red Road and am still kicking myself for not reading it sooner! Both ladies were lovely and I’d recommend going to meet them if you ever get the chance. I also got to see Leigh’s UK publicist the lovely Nina again and have a chat with her and I was given a signed postcard, a bookmark and badges.

Me, Leigh and Jas

Moira, Me and Jasprit

Ray and Lily having their books signed

After the event Ray, Jas, Lily and I went to get a late lunch where I tried sushi for the very first time and really loved it. We then went book shopping because that’s what we book bloggers do and when we get together we can be terrible influences on each other! Jas couldn’t decide on a book to make up her buy one get one half price offer so instead of choosing just one book I helpfully convinced her to buy another two in their own offer. Ooops! We also got chatting to two girls Kate and Marriam who’d also been to the event about books and writing. I love meeting new bookish people and events like this one are great for bringing people together.

Super proud at learning how to use chopsticks

My book loot!

Before long it was time to say our goodbyes and get the train home. After a day of helpful advice and inspirational chat Rach and I had an intense plotting session on the train home discussing the what ifs? and plot twists to her story. The creative light bulb was well and truly on for both of us after such a fantastic day.

Sadly this was the last book event planned for the summer but I’m hoping there will be more awesome bookish things to go to and meet ups before the year is over.

In case after reading this any of you are interested in checking out Ray’s story that I’ve been Alpha reading the prologue and first chapter can be found on Wattpad here.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Review for Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

This is a review for the third book in the Throne of Glass series and so may contain spoilers from the previous books.

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release: 11th September 2014
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien's only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan's Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King's Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan's biggest threat - and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?"

Heir of Fire feels like a different read compared to the first two books in the series. It’s less action and mystery driven and instead focuses on world building and character development, both of which are done incredibly well making me feel more immersed in this world and more attached to these characters emotionally.

We’re introduced to several new characters in Heir of Fire which created multiple storylines all of which I personally really liked. Each storyline had so much going on and I enjoyed reading about each character equally which really kept the pages turning. All too often with books like this I tend to have my favourite characters and find myself spending the chapters in between their story wishing I could flick ahead to continue reading about them but I never felt that way once with Heir of Fire.

Celaena’s story brought out so many emotions in me. She’s now in Wendlyn training her fae abilities with warrior Rowan and coming to terms with her past and who she truly is. I loved getting some of Aelin’s backstory and by the end of the book Celaena Sardothien has rose from the ashes of her past and has never been more fearsome.

Chaol and Dorian keep us up to speed on the goings on back at the castle whilst both of them are coming to terms with Celaena’s revelation and where their loyalties lie. They also have to contend with the arrival of Aelin’s cousin Aedion who is a fantastic new character who keeps you guessing!

My favourite new character introduced is Manon a brutal and blood thirsty witch who is training with Wyvern (DRAGONS!!!) to fight for the King of Adarlan. Although Manon’s storyline perhaps didn’t fit in as smoothly as the other new characters I absolutely loved anything to do with her and her Wyvern and I’m intrigued to see how her part plays out in the rest of the series.

Heir of Fire is without doubt my favourite book of this series so far. With dragons and witches, fae and magic, fire and love, betrayal and loyalty Sarah J. Maas has given me everything I could want in a Fantasy novel. This series just gets better and better and has introduced a whole new generation to a love for Fantasy.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Review for Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

This is a review for the fifth book in the Bloodlines series and so may contain spoilers from the previous books.

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
Publisher: Penguin
Release: 29th July 2014
Genre: YA, Vampires, Magic, Paranormal Romance
Source: Bought

"In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now, in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him...

Their worst fears now a chilling reality; Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour."

Silver Shadows was a book that I was hugely anticipating not only because I love this world and characters so much but because of *that* agonizing cliff hanger at the end of The Fiery Heart. Silver Shadows was such an emotional rollercoaster to read with plenty of highs and lows for Sydney and Adrian. Once again the book is told in alternate chapters between the two which worked particularly well here with Sydney and Adrian being apart for a large chunk of the book.

Sydney is in the alchemists re-education centre and I have to say that Richelle Mead really impressed me with the world building for this. I was in equal parts fascinated and horrified at just how messed up the alchemists and their methods are. Their punishments for Sydney were really extreme and disturbing to read but at the same time I thought it was really clever how their lessons fit around their morals. Nothing is ever done purely for the shock factor but is appropriate for the alchemist’s beliefs and way of life.

Sydney really impressed me in this book. She’s grown so much and I was so proud of how strong, clever and bad ass she was despite everything she was going through. Adrian however really annoyed me at times. Sydney was being so brave whilst Adrian was off getting drunk and going to parties with a girl who blatantly likes him as more than a friend. I know that’s how Adrian deals with things but I couldn’t help feeling frustrated with him at some points.

The last hundred pages of the book gave me everything I love about this series. There was romance, high action, suspense and plenty of surprises that have really set up the conclusion to this series in the final book The Ruby Circle. I have so many theories but at the same time I have no idea how this is going to play out. February can’t come quickly enough!

The Ruby Circle Theory 
(Spoilers from Silver Shadows ahead!)
Highlight to read
So in Silver Shadows Adrian started hearing the voice of his late Aunt Tatiana. He was also carrying around the ruby cufflinks that she gave to him which he then had made into Sydney’s engagement ring. What if an undiscovered aspect of spirit is that you can talk to the dead if in possession of something valuable of theirs or something you both have a connection to? Or what if spirit users can somehow infuse someone’s spirit into an object kind of like a horcrux? Regardless I think that given the title these rubies and Tatiana are going to play a big part in the final book.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review for Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Usborne
Release: 14th August 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Source: Bought

"Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart."

I’m a long term Stephanie Perkins fangirl having read both Anna and Lola way back when they were first published in the US. Isla has been a long time coming but I’ve been patiently waiting with the faith that Stephanie Perkins would deliver this final instalment when it was good and ready and every delay was well worth the wait – Isla is here and it’s fabulous!

Isla felt like a different sort of read to me compared to Anna and Lola. It feels less fairytale romance and more grown up as the book focuses less on falling in love and instead takes a look at what comes after the happily ever after perfectly capturing the highs and lows of being in love.

Isla is very much a dreamer. She’s a quiet girl who’d rather read about adventures than actually live one and that would explain why she’s crushed hard on Josh for years but hasn’t ever dared do anything about it. Isla made a great first impression on me, she’s so adorably awkward and I loved how protective and loyal she was to her best friend Kurt who has Autism.

Isla’s story begins one summer when fate puts her on the path she was always meant to travel when she runs into Josh outside of school but it’s up to Isla to take those bold steps forward and to figure out who and what will be her destination. Isla’s insecure and makes mistakes along the way but I loved her flaws and all. But this book isn’t about me loving Isla or even Josh loving Isla it is about Isla loving herself and feeling like she is enough. I loved the message throughout this book that you have to love yourself first before someone else can love you.

The book is set in New York, Barcelona and of course the final showdown for the ultimate happily ever after sees us go back to Paris and reuniting with Anna, Étienne, Lola and Cricket to conclude the series and Isla and Josh’s story. I laughed, I cried and I flailed all over the place during those gorgeous final chapters.

I’m so sad that this hugely beloved trilogy is over. I only hope that Stephanie Perkins shares more of her storytelling magic with us before too long, she truly is a wonder.

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