January Wrap-Up! (In which I introduce a snazzy new stats section)

Hey everyone! Can you believe the first month of 2018 is over already?! I love this time of the month, seeing what everyone has been reading.

I managed to read 17 books in January! If this is the rate I’m going to be reading all year, I’m more than happy.

 

Classics

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux

This was one of my first rereads of the year. I adore the story of the Phantom and the 2004 movie adaptation is one of my favourite ever movies, so I was definitely due to revisit the bowels of the Paris Opera House. It was fun to listen to this as an audiobook for a change and I loved it just as much, if not more, than the last time I read it! I recommend this to readers who loved Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, or anything else with misunderstood anti-heroes!

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Can you believe I’d never read The Jungle Book before this month?! I decided it was about time but, silly me, I didn’t realise it was actually an anthology of stories! Mowgli and co. do feature heavily but there are also stories about other jungle animals. A decent enough read, nothing amazing.

Five Children and It by E. Nesbitt

A childhood classic I’d never read but that I absolutely fell in love with! This is an utterly charming story and I found it completely endearing. It made me feel nostalgic for those stories I loved as a child and it was a lovely adventure.

 

Review Books

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

This was my first read of the year, kindly sent to me by Penguin Random House. After reading Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo last year, I was excited to continue my foray into the world of the DC Icons. Sadly, I didn’t love this one as much, finding it harder to suspend my disbelief. You can read my full review here.

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Shadows by Paul Finch

This was the second book in the Lucy Clayburn series which I am loving! Sent to me by the lovely Elke at Avon Books, I really enjoyed both this and the first book, Strangers. I have a double review here if you’re interested. I’d definitely recommend this series to fans of gritty thrillers!

Snow like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Sent to me by Harper 360 YA, I sadly didn’t love this one as much as I’d hoped to – however, I still found it an entertaining read! There were a few too many tropes for my liking, but I did like the protagonist and the wintery aesthetic was to-die-for! My full spoiler-free review is here. Not a 5-star read for me but still worth a try if you feel at all interested in it!

 

Books from my TBR

This is the most important section of my wrap-up this month since my main bookish goal this year is to vanquish my TBR! (Or at least as much of it as possible). I’m delighted to say it’s going well so far.

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

I picked this one up on a whim one night and read the whole thing before going to bed! I read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series last year and fell in love with Laini Taylor’s writing. Zuzana was one of my favourite characters of the series so I was certain I would enjoy this novella focusing on her first date with Mik! And I wasn’t wrong. It was completely adorable and a lovely bit of fluff in between more serious reads. Plus the artwork is gorgeous and really added to the whole experience.

The Dollmaker of Krakow by R. M. Romero

I was desperate to read this book when I heard about it at the end of 2017 so I was overjoyed when my bestie Mia gifted me it for Christmas! It was as beautiful and magical as I had expected and has already earned itself a place on my favourites list for this year! You can read my gushing review here.

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Everless by Sara Holland

I received this book in my last (*cries*) FairyLoot box in December and had heard a lot of hype about it on Instagram. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype for me! I really enjoyed the story and liked the protagonist. I would have actually raced through this much faster than I did but I left it at work one day!! Here’s my spoiler-free review.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Oh my goodness, this book! Serious heart eyes. After Night of Cake and Puppets, I was in the mood for more of Laini’s gorgeous writing so I finally picked up Strange the Dreamer – and I adored it. Lazlo and Sarai are two of my new favourite characters and the world-building is incredible. I cannot WAIT for Muse of Nightmares. For more of my flailing, check out my review here.

Alice and the Fly by James Rice

I didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect from this book so I went in pretty much blind – and I would suggest you do the same! Police interviews scattered throughout the book hint at something shocking and kept me racing towards the end! It’s a fascinating look at mental illness and was much darker than I expected. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe

This book had been on my wishlist since last year – African magical realism with a circus setting? Heck yes! So when I saw it on sale after Christmas, I snapped it up. Sadly, something just didn’t gel for me. The book couldn’t seem to decide what genre to be and there were jarring modern images that didn’t fit with the Ghanaian folklore side of things. Consider me disappointed.

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All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

After buddy-reading The Scorpio Races with my lovely friend Jennifer in November, we decided to pick up Stiefvater’s latest book, All the Crooked Saints. We both agreed that, though the prose was gorgeous once again and Stiefvater’s imagination is wonderful, we didn’t love this one quite so much. It’s very slow-paced and character-driven, and I wouldn’t recommend it for readers who are just starting out on their Stiefvater journey. Don’t get me wrong, I still really liked it – but The Scorpio Races is still the winner for me.

The Empress by S. J. Kincaid

This was my book club’s pick for January, after we all read The Diabolic last year and it pleasantly surprised us all! I think I probably liked the first book more (but that just seems to be my way, I love first books!) However, this was still an enjoyable final read of the month.

 

24-in-48 Readathon Books

Angelmonster by Veronica Bennett

I really enjoyed this fictional account of the life of Mary Shelley. Definitely recommend to fans of Frankenstein, which incidentally I’m thinking of rereading next month!

One by Sarah Crossan

Brutal and beautiful, this book written in verse took me by surprise and absolutely ripped the heart out of me. A great quick read – but have some tissues handy!

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

An all-time favourite, The Hobbit has been calling to me to reread it for MONTHS. I finally let myself pick it up again and enjoyed the adventure just as much this time round.

To read more about the 24in48 readathon, I wrote a post about it that you can check out here.

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(Some of these books were so hard to photograph! So much foil, my gosh)

 

The Snazzy New ‘Stats’ Bit!

I want to be more mindful of what I read this year so I’m going to add this little analytical section into my monthly wrap-up posts to track things like my male:female author ratio and the lengths of books I’m reading.

Books read: 17

Total pages: 5662

Average pages per day: 182.6

Longest book: Strange the Dreamer (536 pages)

Shortest book: Angelmonster (199 pages) 

Favourite read of the month: The Dollmaker of Krakow

Biggest disappointment of the month: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars

Male authors: 5

Female authors: 11 (though 2 books were from the same author)

Books read towards Pop Sugar Reading Challenge: 13

 

And that’s it for this month guys! Well done you if you made it all the way through this post – it took me so long to write this wrap-up! But I’ll happily do it every month if it means I’m reading so many amazing books. Here’s to a fantastic February!

 

How many books did you read in January? What was your favourite read of the month? Link me up to your wrap-up posts if you have them! 

 

 

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24in48 Readathon, January 2018!

Hey guys! This weekend I took part in the 24in48 Readathon. The idea is to try and read for 24 hours out of 48 – you can split it up however you want, 12 hours on Saturday and 12 on Sunday, 14 hours the first day and 10 the next, whatever works for you. It’s all pretty chill. The hosts are incredible at creating an interactive reading experience over the weekend, posting challenges on social media every three hours and showering you with GIFs to keep you motivated! It’s always a lot of fun.

This was my third time participating in the 24in48 Readathon (though my first time since starting this blog which is why I’m now writing about it, you lucky things). The first time I participated in 24in48 (July 2016), I only managed to read for about 12 hours. The second time, January 2017, I managed 16 hours. This time, I landed in the middle and read for 14 and a half hours. I had hoped to achieve more but considering I had to attend a family birthday celebration and then go to work on Sunday evening, I think I did pretty well!

I got through 3 whole books, as well as some audiobook chapters of Five Children and It when my eyes got too tired!

The Books I Read

Angelmonster by Veronica Bennett

I picked up this story based on the life of Mary Shelley in a charity shop. Having studied Frankenstein at college in a Gothic literature course, I was already fascinated by the author’s life story and so I was really excited to read this one. I knew I would fly through it so it seemed like the perfect choice for my first book of the readathon! I was a little nervous as I’ve never seen ANYONE talking about this one but I really enjoyed it.

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One by Sarah Crossan

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book about conjoined twins as it is written in verse. However, the more of it I read, the more I realised that it was a stylistic choice that worked perfectly for the story the author wanted to tell. I powered through this in one sitting and I don’t think I could have done it any other way because it was brutal and heartbreakingly beautiful and absolutely destroyed me. I don’t often cry at books but this reduced me to a puddle on the floor.

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The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

So, after the feels shredding I got from One, I needed a bit of a comfort read! As I mentioned in my ‘goals for 2018’ post (which you can read here if you’re interested), I want to reread more books this year and not beat myself up for it. The Hobbit has been one of those books calling me to reread it lately so I decided to pick it up for the second half of the readathon. And IT WAS PERFECT.

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(You had to know that gif was coming, right?)

 

Some Stats…

Number of books read: 3 (and a bit)

Number of pages: 1035

Average pages per hour: 71.4

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I really enjoyed my third readathon and can’t wait for the next one! Put July 21-22 in your diaries people.

Did anyone else participate in 24in48?! How many hours did you manage? What was your favourite book you read? If you didn’t, do you think you might try it in July? 

Why Reading Is Good For Our Mental Health (As if we needed an excuse to read more)

Hello everyone! I have a slightly different kind of post for you today and I really hope you’ll take the time to read it as I believe it to be important. Having struggled with depression and anxiety for a large portion of my life, I have a number of things I do to try and keep my head above water. One of those things is reading. I have long been a believer in the healing power of books so today I wanted to share a list of ways that reading is beneficial to my mental health. I hope that some of you may also find this helpful.

 

Escapism

The main way that reading helps my mental health is that it allows me to escape the harsh realities of life. No matter what is worrying me, be it bigger concerns such as family, health, my job, or smaller niggling things like a phone call I have to make or an errand I need to run, reading allows me to switch off from all of that and forget for a while. This is why world-building in books is so important to me. I want a richly developed world that will transport me away from my cares, get me out of my own head, and let me lose myself for a few hours. Books are a refuge.

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Hope

This is another important one. Reading as vociferously as I do, I find a lot of books that really speak to me. I don’t know if it’s just a case of impeccable timing but often, a book can tell me exactly what I need to hear at a particular time. Certain writers in particular have an uncanny ability to speak to my soul and I am forever noting down quotes I find relatable. Then, if I’m having a low moment but not able to actually pick up a book (say I’m having a difficult shift at work), I can read a quick quote to give myself a little boost.

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Constancy

Books are ALWAYS there for me. No matter what else is going on in my life, I can take comfort in reading. There’s a reason I take a book everywhere with me. They are almost like a comfort blanket. Any situation where I feel uncomfortable, I can just whip out my book and lose myself instead of spiralling into a panic attack. Waiting rooms? Airports, train stations? Books have got me covered.

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Relaxation

Reading often goes hand-in-hand with other activities designed for relaxation. Whether it’s taking a bath, snuggling with a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday morning or just winding down for bed, you will find me reading. In fact, I am physically unable to fall asleep without reading at least a few pages. One of the most fun aspects of having anxiety (heavy sarcasm here people) is the tendency to ruminate for hours after climbing into bed. That joke you made at work today? No-one thought it was funny, they all just think you’re weird. That random pain you felt today? You’re clearly suffering from some fatal illness. The anxious brain is awful at dredging up the worst it has to offer when you’re trying to fall asleep. So my solution is just to read until I literally can’t keep my eyes open anymore and therefore I don’t give my brain the chance to torture me.

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Perspective

Now, I don’t agree with comparing your situation to others because that diminishes what each individual is going through. Everyone’s suffering is valid. JUST SAYING. However, if the ‘someone always has it worse’ viewpoint works for you, then books can help you along! You are definitely better off than that heroine who is being persecuted by an evil king/queen/government leader. You are not being eaten by a dragon/zombie/rabid dog. Count your blessings.

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I am often judged for the amount of reading I do but people simply don’t realise that, during my most extreme lows, reading is actually KEEPING ME ALIVE. Now thankfully, it rarely reaches that point. But I am still convinced that reading is a useful part of my anxiety toolbox and when I don’t utilise it, my mood definitely dips. So my message to you is this: don’t let people judge you for doing something that is necessary to your survival! Reading is a wonderful form of self-care and the benefits to our mental health are overwhelmingly clear.

 

I hope some of you found this post helpful and please do get in touch if you would like to chat further! Are these types of posts something you would like to see more of?

‘Strange the Dreamer’ spoiler-free review!

So, it’s unreal how late to the party I am with this one but I fiiinally  read Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor this month! And it was every bit as amazing as I knew it would be. Before I start flailing, here’s what the book is about:-

 

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

 

So this book sat on my shelf for MONTHS because I had built it up so much in my mind that I became intimidated by it and concerned it wouldn’t live up to the hype. But oh my goodness, I needn’t have worried. This book SLAYED me. Laini Taylor’s imagination knows no bounds. This is the weirdest, most original story and it gave me a serious book hangover.

As usual, Laini’s writing is STUNNING; her word choices and sentence formation are just on a higher level. I would usually be quite a fast reader but her descriptions actually made me slow right down and savour every word. I felt completely immersed in her wonderful world-building and lost many hours exploring Weep with Lazlo and Sarai.

Which brings me to the characters – holy heck. Some definite new favourites here. Lazlo is precious but also definite book boyfriend material. Sarai is one of the most complex and interesting characters in YA literature today. Even minor characters were fascinating and fully developed (Calixte was a particular favourite of mine, in a similar vein to Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series). The dialogue was realistic (something Taylor excels at) and the snark was present in abundance.

I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here, after that shocker of an ending! I am hardcore invested in these characters and this world.

All I can say is – keep doing what you’re doing, Laini Taylor. You’ve got a forever fan in me.

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Anyone who has read this one, please leave me a comment and fangirl with me!

Alex’s Alphabeticals! ‘C’

It’s time for the third instalment of my blog series ‘Alex’s Alphabeticals’! For those of you who are new to this, I’m doing a series of posts where I list my favourite authors, books and characters (ABCs!) for each letter of the alphabet! If you missed the first two instalments, you can read them here and here.

Authors beginning with ‘C’

John Connolly

I feel a little weird including John Connolly on this list when I’ve only read one of his books – but it was such an amazing book! (Plus I forgot to include the book itself on my ‘B’ list, ahem). After the magic of The Book of Lost Things, which is a bit of a mashup of a number of fairytales, I’m always on the lookout for more of Connolly’s books when I can get them cheap; I’m sure they are just as fantastic.

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Angela Carter

Another author who does fairytales REALLY well is Angela Carter. Last year, I read The Bloody Chamber and other stories, and I loved Carter’s darker spin on the classic tales of Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast. I have another book by Carter on my shelf, Nights at the Circus, and I’m really looking forward to it (I mean, c’mon, it’s set in a circus, I’m guaranteed to love it).

Gail Carriger

Gail Carriger represents my introduction to the world of steampunk. Her Parasol Protectorate series is humorous and original, and features some of my favourite supernatural characters ever. I’ve still to read her Finishing School series but definitely plan to dive back into her steampunk world at some point.

Agatha Christie

I read my first Agatha Christie in December (and then went on to read a second one soon after!) and I loved it. Murder on the Orient Express was fabulous and I was completely swept up in the mystery and the opulent setting. I then read They Came to Baghdad which I didn’t love as much due to its espionage subject matter but still enjoyed. I’m looking forward to continuing my journey through Christie’s works and I’m sure she will become a firm favourite.

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Books beginning with ‘C’

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

One of the biggest books of 2017, I loved the magical world of Caraval. Every word was captivating and I adored the carnival-esque setting (no surprises there). I was even able to forgive that the protagonist was a little annoying and silly because everything else was just so fantastic. The hype was well-deserved. I can’t wait for the sequel!

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

One of my favourites since childhood, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the most imaginative books of all time. Who doesn’t love all those descriptions of sweeties?! Incidentally, I wrote a blog post about similarly yummy books – you can check it out here. Shameless self-promotion there, hope you all caught that 😉

 

Characters beginning with ‘C’

Celia Bowen (The Night Circus)

I’m going to be completely honest: I want to BE Celia. She wears beautiful dresses and does magic, and I just love her, ok? That is all.

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Cathy (Wuthering Heights)

Wuthering Heights is one of my favourite classics and I loved its flawed characters. Some people hate it for exactly the same reason but not me. Cathy is wild and tempestuous, and passionately emotional, which makes for a great read.

Charlie (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)

Charlie is one of the most precious cinnamon rolls in all of literature. I adore him. He reads books and is a loyal friend, and I just want to protect him from the evils of life. I have a full review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower here (spoiler: I flail).

Cath (Fangirl)

I feel such an affinity with Cath. She starts university and spends weeks living off snack bars because she is too anxious to go and find the cafeteria. RELATABLE. University was a horrible time for me so I really feel for Cath and don’t judge her at all for wanting to lose herself in her fan-fiction.

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So that’s it for the third instalment of ‘Alex’s Alphabeticals’! Do we share any favourites this time around? Which Agatha Christie do you recommend I read next? Let me know in the comments!

‘Snow like Ashes’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! The lovely people at Harper 360 recently sent me a copy of Snow like Ashes by Sara Raasch (thanks Shrina!) I read this one over a couple of days last week so now it’s time for my review! Before I start, here’s the blurb:-

 

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

 

I had to think about this one before I felt properly able to review it. I have very mixed feelings about it. Some things I really liked but there was also a lot of stuff that irritated me.

The main things that annoyed me were 1) the rather large info dumps – the first couple of chapters were so full of information that I actually thought at one point that I’d missed the first book and jumped straight into the second; and 2) the tropes!! Argh the tropes. It was literally like a checklist of what to include in your YA novel. That said… I did find myself entertained! So it wasn’t all bad. I just wouldn’t say it was amazing or overly original. I predicted the plot twist SO early and I don’t know if that affected my enjoyment?

On the other hand, I did LOVE the world building. It was so wintery and aesthetic, it was gorgeous. The magic system was a little bit too complex (but equally it could have been more dumbed down and I’m glad it wasn’t. I guess there’s just no pleasing me!)

Meira was a likeable protagonist, who was tough and sarcastic and actually threw a very realistic strop at one point which I thought was hilarious. I also loved Theron – he writes poetry and likes art and he is just a wonderful precious gem. Unfortunately, most of the other characters were very flat and forgettable.

So yeah, a very mixed bag! On the whole, I would say I enjoyed it but I’m also glad to have sped through it because I don’t think I could have put up with the tropes, etc. for much longer! Sadly, I didn’t connect with this one the way I’d hoped I would but I’m still glad to have had the opportunity to read it and I’m sure there are many other readers who love it. 3/5 stars from me.

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Has anyone else read this? Does the series get any less trope-tastic?!

‘Strangers’/’Shadows’ double review!

Hi everyone! At the end of last year, the lovely Elke at Avon Books sent me the first two books in Paul Finch’s newest series (thank you!) These books introduce a feisty new heroine and a gritty Manchester setting, and they have absolutely captivated me. So I’m bringing you a double review today (you lucky things)! But don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers for either of the books. I’m great like that.

Before we get started, here’s the blurb for the first book, Strangers:-

 

Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life: as PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is.

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option and these murders are as brutal as they come. Lucy must step into the line of fire, a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line.

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

 

How amazing does that sound?! I’ve got a weird fascination with serial killers, especially females, so I was instantly intrigued and couldn’t wait to start this series. Keep reading to see what I thought of it..!

 

Strangers

As I said, I was super eager to start this one and… I really enjoyed it! As I expected I would. It was tense and gripping, with a very dark undertone that really added depth to the story. I found myself unable to put this book down at night, telling myself ‘just one more chapter’ continuously as the night got progressively later, oops. Apparently, the author used to be a writer for the tv show ‘The Bill’ which made me smile; I used to love that programme and it was nice to see little nods to it throughout this book. I’m sure there were a few Easter eggs peppered throughout for those die-hard fans (I picked up on a couple and felt very smug about it, I must say).

The main character, Lucy Clayburn, is a fantastic, feisty protagonist and I look forward to seeing more of her in future books. She has some pretty badass moments and some great snarky dialogue (always a plus with me). This was a fantastic story for introducing a new face in the world of crime fiction, with some unexpected twists and turns, and edge-of-your-seat action. I couldn’t wait to read the sequel!

 

Shadows

This second book was also super enjoyable! I found this one took a little longer to get going than the first instalment but Lucy was, if possible, even more badass than she was in Strangers. Obviously, I’m not going to reveal any plot details as this second book follows quite directly on from certain events that occur in book one. However, I can say that this was another dark and gritty story, with lots of unexpected twists and turns that kept me reading late into the night!

Finch conjures the perfect image of gritty Manchester (world building in a procedural crime thriller is definitely an achievement in my book as it is something I consistently find to be lacking!) I loved seeing how certain relationships and storylines were developed, and I also liked the new characters that were introduced. There was also a hint of romance in this book which was delightful.

From what I can tell from these two books, Finch writes intricate plotlines that can seem a bit complex at first but that then converge perfectly to tie up nicely at the end. Both of his Lucy Clayburn books are compulsively readable and I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for the third! Thanks again to Elke for sending me the copies!

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Has anyone else read these books? Anyone else weirdly fascinated by books about serial killers?!

November ‘Book and Nook’ Unboxing!

I’m a little late with this one but I’m finally getting round to unboxing the November Book and Nook box!

When it was announced that the November Book and Nook theme would be ‘Nights at the Circus’, I knew I absolutely had to have it! Circus books are my faaavourite. And the box did not disappoint.

There were five candles, based on 3 of the best circus-y books of recent years (in my opinion), plus a surprise item. This time it was a candy apple scented bath bomb which I could smell as soon as I opened the box, even through its wrapper. Yum!

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There was also the themed bookmark which I love. It’s going to be one of my favourites (and I have a LOT of bookmarks!)

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And now for the candles!

 

Caraval

Inspired by the book of the same name by Stephanie Garber, this candle smells like roses, mistletoe and wine, and it’s a sumptuous shade of red. And so sparkly!

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Gomorrah

This box contained two candles inspired by Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody.  The first is a stunning shade of deep purple and smells like myrrh, fire and pomelo (which I’m told is a giant grapefruit thing!) It smells fruity and a little smokey, and I love it.

The Girl Without Eyes

The second DotBC candle is the most lovely shade of lilac with iridescent glitter and it’s just so delicate. It smells like chamomile, vanilla and magic. I actually like the appearance of this candle more than the smell! *hides behind a pillow*

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Reveurs

I *think* this is my favourite candle in the box (though ask me again tomorrow, and I might have changed my mind!) It’s inspired by The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and smells like plums and honey. It has a black and white marbled effect with red glitter, perfect for the reveur in me.

Circus of Dreams

And the second candle inspired by The Night Circus is one the most delicious smelling things ever! It smells like chocolate and caramel, with a slight hint of apple behind it. Topped off with white glitter that looks like sugar, I could almost take a bite out of it.

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And here’s my full unboxing! I really wish I could convey to you how amazing these candles smell!

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Which of these candles sounds most appealing to you? Is anyone else a fan of circus books? Please let me know your recommendations in the comments! 

‘The Dollmaker of Krakow’ spoiler-free review!

“People react strangely to things that are different.”

R. M. Romero, The Dollmaker of Kraków

 

Hello everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Dollmaker of Kraków, a debut novel from R. M. Romero which came out in September 2017. I wasn’t able to get a copy right away but my amazing bestie gifted me it for Christmas! And let me tell you: I am already fairly sure that this will make it into my favourites list for this year! It was THAT good. Before I start flailing about how beautiful this book is, have a gander at what it’s about:-

 

Karolina is a living doll whose king and queen have been overthrown. But when a strange wind spirits her away from the Land of the Dolls, she finds herself in Kraków, Poland, in the company of the Dollmaker, a man with an unusual power and a marked past.

The Dollmaker has learned to keep to himself, but Karolina’s courageous and compassionate manner lead him to smile and to even befriend a violin-playing father and his daughter–that is, once the Dollmaker gets over the shock of realizing a doll is speaking to him.

But their newfound happiness is dashed when Nazi soldiers descend upon Poland. Karolina and the Dollmaker quickly realize that their Jewish friends are in grave danger, and they are determined to help save them, no matter what the risks.

 

 

I knew as soon as I read that blurb that this was MY KIND OF BOOK. But I wasn’t prepared for how utterly beautiful and heart-breaking it would be. The Dollmaker of Kraków shattered my heart into a million pieces and I can’t adequately express how much I love it.

This book is beautifully written and contains some of the most powerful and moving imagery I have ever come across. Like, reducing me to a puddle of tears powerful. I couldn’t take my eyes from the pages, even though I knew I was going to become an absolute mess. Thank goodness I read this at home because ugly crying in public is never fun.

I absolutely loved the parallels between Kraków and the Land of the Dolls, and in my opinion they made an already fantastic story even stronger. The book was interspersed with snippets of story detailing Karolina’s time in the Land of the Dolls and I thought this was such a clever plot device that would particularly endear the story to younger readers.

Karolina and the Dollmaker were both so precious and pure, and some of their exchanges gave me ALL THE FEELS. I loved Karolina’s innocence even if it did increase my heartbreak tenfold. I was literally shedding tears on behalf of a fictional doll and I’m not ashamed of it in the slightest.

This is an incredible debut that is completely magical and perfect for readers of all ages.

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Has anyone else read this one? Or is it on your TBR? I want everyone to read it!!

 

December FairyLoot Unboxing!

It makes me very sad to say it but this will be my last FairyLoot unboxing! (Unless I win any in future or get chosen as rep). I just can’t afford to keep up my subscription whilst trying to save for a house so I’ve had to call it quits. Thankfully, this was a great box to end on!

The December theme was ‘Oh So Regal’ and I knew as soon as I heard about it that I would love it! The box featured an early copy of Everless by Sara Holland, which I have already read and loved! You can check out my review here.

 

As well as the hardback book, December’s box contained 5 fantastic items, 4 of which were exclusive to the box.

Full-size Pop by Funko!

The December box contained one of six possible Disney Royal pops – Rapunzel, Ariel, Pocahontas, Simba, Jasmine or Tiana. I got Simba! I’m still in the very early days of my Funko collection so this is a great helping hand on my journey to acquiring more.

Prince candle by A Court of Candles

There were also different possibilities for the candle featured in the ‘Oh So Regal’ box (I love when subscription boxes do things like that, it’s so exciting! Ah simple things.) I got Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid but other subscribers could have received Aladdin, Prince Charming, or the Beast. We were also given the option to purchase a full-size version of our candle!

Shakespeare pouch by Miss Phi

I have enjoyed previous collaborations between FairyLoot and artist Miss Phi, and this one is no exception. I love Shakespeare so I was very happy to receive this exclusive pouch (which I think I’m going to use as a pencil case).

Keyring by Fiction Tea Designs

This enamel keychain is an exclusive design for FairyLoot and it’s cute and fun! Books definitely rule. I love the royal purple colour.

Notebook by Stella’s Bookish Art

I haven’t read the Red Queen series but that doesn’t stop me appreciating how gorgeous this exclusive notebook is! I love keeping a little notebook with my planned blog posts/Instagram challenge prompts/etc. so this will be perfect for that purpose!

 

This box also contained a sampler of Rosemarked, a War Storm bookmark, and of course the usual signed bookplate and letter from the author of the chosen book.

 

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Well I hope you enjoyed my last FairyLoot unboxing! I’m really going to miss getting this monthly treat but alas, that’s adulting for you. Did anyone else get this box? What was your favourite item?