Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! I think I’m slowly finding my blogging groove again – we’ve had reviews, fun tags, and hauls! This being said, if there’s anything you want to see, please feel free to let me know! I’ve read several books this month, so without further ado, let’s begin, and fair warning, there may be spoilers.
The first book I read was Barefoot on the Wind by Zoë Marriott, which is the second book in The Moonlit Lands series. This was a take on the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but set in mystical, fictional Japan. In this novel, Hana has grown up knowing to never go into the woods at the edges of her village. Rumour has it, they are stalked by a terrible creature. When Hana’s father is attacked, Hana sets out to put an end to the beast. This was a charming novel, and I couldn’t put it down. The world we entered had traditional Japanese elements, and was magical all at the same time. The characters were well thought out, and were engaging, especially the creatures which frequent the world beyond the village. Hana was extremely likeable, and fierce. She holds anguish in her heart, but still is able to hold herself steady as she hunts to help her family. This was an interesting take on the fairy tale, and the Beast himself. I could see this playing out as an anime, and I’d definitely watch it! My only problem with this was that at the time of release, the first book in the A Court of series was being released – which was a take on Beauty and the Beast, with a huntress main character too. So I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons, which dampened my enjoyment. Overall though, I did thoroughly enjoy this, and could see this as part of the series, and as a standalone. I can’t wait to see what Zoë writes next. I rated this 5 stars!
The next book I read was A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas, the first companion novel in the A Court of series. This novel follows Feyre, Rhys and their Inner Court during the run up to and celebration of the Winter Solstice (and Feyre’s birthday), as they attempt to piece their lives together and rebuild their world after the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin. We all know I’m Sarah J. Maas trash at this point, so it’s safe to assume I loved it. And I did. I loved the new dynamics of seeing Feyre finding her love of art once again, and finding ways to support her community after the attacks. Rhys was slowly becoming Fae-alpha male, wanting to put his mark on her (there are several graphic sex scenes and comments). It was also interesting to see how the Inner Court was starting to come to terms with their new lives, and coping with what has transpired. It sets it up nicely for the next book which will follow Nesta and Cassian – I’m very excited! My only problem with this is that it was a lot smaller than the previous books, and probably should be marketed as a novella, and I do understand the issues that others have with this… I rated this 5 stars – no surprises there.
I then read an eBook, We Are Young by Cat Clarke, which is a YA contemporary. I loved it so much so that it sparked me to start reviewing properly! And I’m going to leave my link here to this, because I’m sure you’re sick of hearing me talk about it by now! I rated this 5 stars.
I then read another eBook, The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances, which is a psychological thriller. This follows Laura, a wealthy high society lady, who has the perfect life. Perfect job, perfect home, perfect son. Until he invites home new girlfriend Cherry, who sees this as an opportunity to rise up the social hierarchy. This was an enjoyable summertime read, although perhaps a little prone to stereotyping. The characters and the plot were easy to follow, each with distinctive personalities and a horrifying curve ball being thrown. If you are interested in a full review, I also have a link here. I rated this 3 stars.
I read another eBook – The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst. This is another standalone psychological thriller, that had elements of horror to my delight. This follows child psychologist Imogen, who has recently moved back to her hometown, a place full of bad memories. In her new job, she takes the case of 11 year old, Ellie, who is described as troubled and dangerous. She is the sole survivor of a fire that killed her entire family. Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are beginning to fear her though, because bad things are happening around the little girl, putting everyone in danger… I really enjoyed this novel. Imogen has layers to her character – she has trauma and neglect in her past, which increases her fear of parenthood, which is difficult in her relationship. She has a drive to do what is right by her clients, including Ellie. Ellie was curious – the plot twisted and curved around her, giving rise to witchcraft and powers like Stephen King’s Carrie. The final plot twist I had not seen coming, and even during the very final chapter, the final lines, there were still questions I wanted to be answered. This means that Ellie as an “evil child” is seen as ambiguous and left for the reader to decide. I rated this 4 stars.
I then read the highly anticipated Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, which is the first book in the Legacy of Orïsha series. This novel follows Zélie who remembers magic thriving in her land, but now, magic has gone – it’s dead. Teaming up with a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her own latent magical abilities to outrun a magic-hating prince intent on destroying everything. This novel was fantastic – an all black cast, inspired by West African Gods and Goddesses, for the YA fantasy market. I definitely think this will appeal to an older audience, though especially with the themes of class divides and racial prejudice. I couldn’t put this down, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. You can check out my review here, and it’s no surprise I rated this 5 stars.
The next book I read was The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, which is the first book in The Hazel Wood series. This is a YA fantasy, which aims to entwine an urban setting with fairy tales. This follows Alice and her mother who are constantly moving to escape the bad luck that follows them. Alice’s mother inherits the Hazel Wood estate, the home of Alice’s grandmother, who wrote dark fairy tales. And then the worst happens – Alice’s mother is taken from her new lifestyle by a monster from one of the stories. This leads Alice to team up with one of the fairy tale fans to solve the mysteries… I can’t say I enjoyed this too much. I felt like Alice was an extremely abrasive character, although this fits with the theme. Even when the plot twists are revealed though, she is still unlikable, and I felt this hampered my enjoyment. I like the idea of merging fairy tales, the concept was brilliant, but this seemed to introduce several tales all at once, and characters who may have been interesting, faded to the background. The plot became too cluttered, and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with the series. I would have been more interested in the actual book of fairy tales that the grandmother wrote, because the excerpts we had were brilliant! And for this reason, I rated this 3 stars.
I then read the entirety of the Cell 7 series by Kerry Drewery – Cell 7, Day 7 and Final 7. These are YA dystopian thrillers, that focuses on the themes of justice and fairness, and how politics interfere with morality. The series follows Martha Honeydew, a poverty stricken teen from the Rises, a destitute area of London. Martha has experienced much hardship at the hands of politicians and rich individuals. When she commits a heinous crime, she is taken to Death Row, where the public will judge her over seven days – guilty or not guilty. These are haunting novels, and I feel like what the characters experience could actually happen in the not too near future. This series wasn’t ashamed to show harsh realities that many face, and also shows the greed of those in power. They had great formats, changing perspectives to different characters, which were each distinct and engaging. They also featured extracts from trashy talk shows, which felt real and were personally for me, a highlight. I couldn’t put these down, and I rated each book 5 stars.
I then went back to my Kindle to read the eBook Dying Truth by Angela Marsons, which is the eighth book in the D. I. Kim Stone series. In this novel, Kim and her team are drawn to a prestigious boarding school, where a teenage girl apparently committed suicide. Kim thinks otherwise, and it isn’t long before more foul play is afoot. This was an enjoyable read that delved into secret societies and the thrall they may or may not have over people, and the later years. This kept me engaged, although I think it became dampened by the past events, which haunt the present. I did enjoy this, but I was left heartbroken – and in my opinion, it didn’t need to occur! I’m still mad over this, and my heart can’t take it. I’m curious to see what happens to Kim and her team next, and I rated this 4 stars.
I then read Acid by Emma Pass, which is a standalone YA dystopian novel. In a world ruled by government agents, Jenna Strong is in prison for killing her parents. When a rebel agency breaks her out, giving her a shot at freedom, Jenna becomes Mia, a girl living in Outer London and working in a factory. When she runs into Max Fisher, son of the doctor who saved her life, Jenna is drawn into a world where they need to keep one step ahead of the government, even though many mysteries surround them. This was a great novel – it’s eerie as it could happen in the future, especially with the rise in technology! Jenna is a strong character as her name suggests – she has gone through and experienced so much for a teenager, that it’s a wonder she’s alive. She is fierce to a point and has individuals who look out for her, unbeknown to her, making sure she can handle herself if she’s ever in danger. It was very well written, and Jenna was a distinctive character that came to life on the page. I just wanted to keep reading! The novel also featured news reports and government transcripts from the futuristic technology used, which was a treat. I rated this 5 stars, even though it was a reread.
I then read One With You by Sylvia Day, the fifth and final book in the Crossfire series, which is marketed as an adult romance. In this instalment, Eva and Gideon are married and attempting to work together to have a strong relationship, although there are those who threaten to tear them apart. This was another dual perspective novel, and I found that Gideon’s narrative was boring. The love he feels for Eva is unhealthy, as is the amount he spends on her. Both characters seem to have had personality transplants, including some of the jarring phrases and language used, and the sex scenes just seemed rehashed from previous books. I feel like the series could have been wrapped up much earlier, and found Eva’s mothers subplot boring – was it really necessary? I’m glad I saw this through – Gideon’s confrontation with his mother and acceptance of a new family dynamic was nicely handled. All in all, I rated this 2 stars and returned this to the library.
I then read The Diviners by Libba Bray, which is the first book in The Diviners series. This follows Evie O’Neill as she moves in with her uncle in New York City, after she gets into trouble using her mysterious power. In New York, she meets new people including Memphis, Theta, Sam and Jericho – all who have stories of their own. And then she gets involved with a grisly murder, as something dangerous is set loose… This had a really good premise for a YA fantasy, and I was interested – the history of the 1920s is something I like to learn about, even if some accounts have been fictionalised. New York is a wonderful backdrop as the story unfolds. Evie is someone that you need to take with a pinch of salt – she’s outlandish and at the start, only cares about her own happiness. She’s like a school report – “must try harder”, because I had trouble liking her. I wanted to follow her story, but the perspective (whilst third person) shifts around to others, who as I said, want to tell their own stories, and all have mysterious powers too. There’s good representation here, but I’ve heard that it’s more widespread in the sequels. This was the problem – too many characters spoil the plot. As a result, the book felt almost too long, and there was no one I really connected with or cared for. Big reveals were meh, although I really liked the concept of the murderer, and was reminiscent of the show, Dexter. I get what the author is going for, and I like the concept, but I felt a little disappointed. I did enjoy this, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series. I rated this 3 stars and returned it to the library.
The final book I read was The Fearless by Emma Pass,which is a YA dystopian novel. The novel follows Cass as her world is turned upside down when super soldiers go kind of crazy. These soldiers were injected with serum to help combat PTSD, but now the soldiers don’t feel fear, or love. When a group of Fearless, steal onto Cass’ island home and kidnap her little brother, Cass isn’t going to rest until she has him back. This is a new take on dystopia and horror in an almost post-apocalyptic zombie world – the Fearless are definitely reminiscent of zombies, and their creation was so interesting. Cass begins as a strong teen, raising her brother, coping with the loss of her family and loss of her old way of life, doing what she can to survive, so when everything changes, naturally she does too. She questions everything and who she can trust. There are new perspectives – Myo, who appeared on the island, looking for help and his missing sister, and Sol, Cass’ childhood best friend, who is determined to help the cause any way he can. For a UK reader, there were places I recognised, which was a joy, although it was tinged with horror. This is definitely a story of survival, growing up, and facing fear. There were uncomfortable moments with death and survival of course, but the real horror was Sol, and how he behaves towards Cass, and his attitude to relationships… It has an ambiguous ending – what will truly happen in this world? I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it was a reread. I rated this 5 stars.
So that completes my twelfth wrap up for this blog – it’s been a year of blogging here already! Let me know what book/books you have read in the month of May – whether it’s paper/hardback, audio, eBook, graphic novels or manga. They all count! If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!