ARC REVIEW: The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme

THANK YOU to Tor Teen for sending me an eARC of this wonderful book 🙂

Maralyth Graylaern, the daughter of her country’s most well-renowned vintner, has spent a lifetime hiding the magical power that she’s been assured she shouldn’t possess. And Prince Alac Thungrave, the forgotten second-born of the King of a stolen throne and possessor of stolen dark magic, has spent his life trying to avoid the power at all costs.

When Maralyth discovers that her magical abilities actually prove she could be the rightful heir to Alac’s father’s stolen throne, she rapidly finds herself being manipulated into a coup that will have her on the throne, at the expense of the Thungrave family and their cursed abilities. But the deeper Maralyth finds herself in this plot, the more she starts to worry that the plan to get her on the throne may cause more harm than good.

With a taste of the power she could possess, for the greater good, she wants the throne; but she absolutely does not want Prince Alac, or any other innocents, to die.

I am obsessed this book. It’s a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat story from start to finish, and I found myself desperately turning the pages as one climactic scene built into another. The world-building is impressive, and the magical abilities felt so real that I could feel the tendrils of dark magic and the bursts of life from Maralyth every time she could.

The joint narrators, Maralyth and Alac, were fascinating characters, and I loved both of their stories; Maralyth in her guilt and selfless desperation to do what’s right, and Alac in his quest for knowledge to end the curse that magic has held over his family for generations. Their feelings for each other were equally enjoyable to read about, and I loved how they warred with their emotions constantly as they tried to juggle romantic feelings, as well as their- perhaps slightly more important- goals of saving the entire country.

With its forbidden romance, dark magic and high-tension fights for a long-since stolen throne, this book is a unique addition to a very much loved genre of YA, and I enjoyed every second of it. It’s exciting, unputdownable fantasy, and I’m so caught up in the land of Perin Faye that I’m not sure I’m fully ready to leave.

Rating: 5/5

ARC Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Happy Halloween! My plan to spend an entire night reading has fallen through and, honestly, I think I’m going to nap my way through the rest of the evening, so I figured I’d get in the spooky spirit with a very Halloween-y review instead!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’re probably already aware of how I feel about this book, but here’s my review of Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (thank you so much to James Patterson Presents for the e-ARC!)…

Emilia has been brushing off stories about the princes of Hell for her entire life, chalking her grandmother’s fear up to superstition and folk tales. She was born and raised a witch so it isn’t that she doesn’t believe; it’s just that she and her sister know that these creatures of nightmares are too stuck in hell to be any kind of a threat.

At least, that’s what she believes, until one dark night in the monastery, her twin sister is found dead, missing a heart and being observed by a beautiful stranger with a devilish aura and a golden knife.

Not long after, as her motivation to find and punish her sister’s killer devours her, Emilia finds herself face to face with enough princes of Hell to see exactly why her grandmother has been warning her all along. And what’s worse is that working alongside one of them might be the only way to find out what truly happened to her sister, and why.

Words cannot express how much I loved Emilia as a protagonist. She was the most strong-willed, fearless character I have read all year and, despite wanting to scream at her in the beginning to stop and think before running into danger, I admired her commitment and believed within a few pages that she could handle anything that was thrown at her (and there was a lot!). Her dedication to her sister never faltered and Emilia didn’t come across as weak even once on her journey to hunting down what she needed to know.

Wrapped up in this story of vengeance was a wonderfully built world of wickedness that I could read about forever. The summonings, the demons and the spellbinding magic were effortlessly written and completely believable. If anyone ever tries to tell me that it’s possible to outgrow YA fantasy, this is the book I will recommend to convince them otherwise.

This story was beautifully crafted, grippingly fast-paced and devilishly creepy, with just the right amount of ethereally beautiful princes of Hell. I ordered a hardback copy before I was even halfway through the ebook because I knew that this would be a book I needed on my shelf and I can guarantee I will be recommending this to anyone who will listen, especially if they’re looking for an wicked tale to add to their Halloween TBR.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK REVIEW: THE KINGDOM OF BACK by Marie Lu

I think, if you’ve ever 1) seen my twitter, 2) met me or 3) read any of my old blog posts, you know that 99% of what I talk about is Marie Lu books and why you should read them. Warcross is my favourite book in the entire world (please read it and talk to me about it!!), and the Legend series is just as impressive. I have never read anything by Marie Lu that I didn’t love and I own every single book she’s ever published so- I’m kind of a major fangirl.

That being said, I was very excited about The Kingdom of Back. I grew up playing piano and this book is about Nannerl Mozart so that was a major plus. Then there’s the fact that it’s a historical fantasy (featuring all manner of beautiful and magical things), and the cover is absolutely stunning.

So I read the entire book today, and I’m now going to review it. This will definitely be biased, but I can assure you that this book deserves all. the. hype. Anyway-

The Kingdom of Back is the untold story of Nannerl Mozart, with a fantastical twist. We begin by learning that Nannerl is a young musical prodigy, playing instruments from a young age and talented enough to wow all of Austria. She’s an ambitious and highly talented child, with dreams of being remembered for her talents and her music. It isn’t until her younger brother, Woferl, reveals his musical talent that she even gets noticed, however. And very quickly, Nannerl gets overshadowed by her younger brother’s extraordinary musical ability.

When a magical boy named Hyacinth appears first in her dreams, and then in her home, with an offer to make her legacy immortal, she is swiftly drawn into the beautiful and backward, magical world of Back. The place seems familiar in a fairytale kind of way, and she’s drawn in instantly by the new world’s whimsical beauty. It doesn’t take long for Nannerl to realise, however, that her dream may come at a cost, and that everything in Back may not be quite what it seems.

Nannerl, like all of Marie Lu’s protagonists, is fascinating to read about. She’s a kind, compassionate and ambitious girl who gets quickly drawn into feelings of jealousy and envy, and I was incredibly impressed by how easily I could feel her resentment and fury. I love how strong her voice remains throughout the entire novel, and how believable her emotional outbursts are. She is truly an eighteenth-century teenager with feelings and dreams that her time period simply won’t allow.

The writing in this book is absolutely stunning. The imagery drew me in within seconds, and I found myself getting sucked into the Kingdom of Back, just as Nannerl was. Similarly to Warcross, a whole world is created in this story that is so unique and unbelievable, and yet still so easy to find yourself getting lost in.

If you’re looking for a historical fiction read, this book is incredible, with just enough factual content that you can consider yourself to be learning whilst reading. And if you’re looking for a fantasy, with faeries and ogres and magical forests, this is also for you. There are so many different elements for different readers and age groups that I would recommend this book to near-enough anyone.

Basically, I love, love, love this book. It has been so long since I got so deeply absorbed in a story that I forgot my own surroundings, and I already wish that I could read this story for the first time all over again.

If you want to buy a copy, you can get it here.

Rating: 5/5

ARC REVIEW: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

First of all, a huge thank you to Hodder for the eARC of this beautiful book, and HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY to Elizabeth Lim! I’ve become so obsessed with Spin the Dawn in the last few months that I was desperate to get my hands on a copy of this, and I’m so glad I got the chance to read and review.

Six Crimson Cranes tells the story of the magical princess Shiori as she finds herself thrown out of her palace home on discovering that her stepmother isn’t who she says she is. In a beautiful YA fantasy take on the classic tale ‘The Six Swans,’ Shiori is cursed and forced to live as a voiceless, unknown peasant girl, whilst her six brothers suffer their own kind of curse by being turned into cranes, unable to return home.

As Shiori works to break her curse, she embarks on a dangerous adventure that takes her into the North, where she encounters danger in so many forms that it’s hard to keep track. From cruel royals to magical creatures, Shiori must face numerous challenges as she fights to find her way home and protect her brothers, and the kingdom, from the dangers that they suddenly face.

As I’ve come to expect from Elizabeth Lim’s books in the past few months, Six Crimson Cranes is a beautifully written, magical book. The setting is described in perfect detail and the magic throughout, both in Shiori and in some of the creatures that she encounters, is so believable that it’s really easy to get sucked into their world and find yourself adventuring right alongside Shiori.

Shiori is a fascinating protagonist and her growth throughout the story is really well done. She begins as an entitled, spoiled princess, but as she faces struggle after struggle, the change in her is evident. Character growth is so important to this story and it was amazing to be able to root for Shiori as she fought to become a better person. Other characters that I adored were Takkan (obviously), Megari, Sheryu and, most surprisingly, Kiki, Shiori’s paper bird companion who I was rooting for just as much as Shiori.

I loved this book so much and it’s definitely solidified Elizabeth Lim’s position as one of my new favourite authors. Her writing has a magical quality that I’ve found to be quite rare, and Six Crimson Cranes is a story so beautifully told that I’m already desperately awaiting its sequel.

Rating: 5/5

January Reading Wrap-up

Hi! It’s the end of January so I hope everyone is having a (slightly, at least) better 2021 so far.

It’s been a crazy-busy and stressful month for me and it feels like there are a million things happening all at once, so I really thought my reading was going to suffer and was pleasantly surprised when I realised I have seven books for my January wrap-up!

So, the seven books I’ve read so far this year are:

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Turner – I wanted my first book of 2021 to be amazing and I was really struggling to decide what to go for, but I’m SO glad I settled on this one. It was a fun, exciting, super unique read with so much positive LGBTQ+ representation and a really fast-paced storyline. 5/5

To Whatever End by Lyndsey Frydman – this was an easy, and pretty predictable, YA romance. It has a tiny bit of paranormal activity but is primarily a typical romance, and I got through it in a day, which was great. It was pretty cliche and not entirely to my taste, but it definitely seems like a fun read to get you out of a slump. 2.5/5

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – review to come for this one, but it was a very unique take on a mean-girl thriller, from the perspective of a girl that can only be considered the villain of the story. It was another quick read with a very interesting protagonist and a lot of drama. 4/5

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff – I listened to this one as an audiobook and I feel like that was absolutely the best format for it. It was motivational, uplifting and full of personal anecdotes. It was very much a self-help book, rather than a book for lovers of true crime, but it was a fun and interesting read all the same. 3/5

The Wing Thief by Samantha Atkins – my review for this is here, so there’s not much more to say other than that it was a really cute middle-grade about fairies and discovering where you belong. 4.5/5

The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme – my review for this one is here! This was another book that I adored. With enemies to lovers, royalty, dark magic and a kingdom at stake, this had pretty much everything I look for in YA fantasy. 5/5

The Sad Ghost Club by Lize Meddings – this book is adorable and was pretty much solely a cover-buy. It’s a really sweet graphic novel about a sad ghost who feels completely alone in the world until they discover that there are others in the exact same situation, and is the kind of book you can easily get through in an hour or so. 4/5

And that’s it! How was your reading this month, and what’s been your favourite book of 2021 so far? I’d love to know in the comments below 🙂

My Top 10 Books of 2020

It’s December! And, having finally met my Goodreads goal (52/45!), I’m feeling nostalgic about my year in books. The change in my reading since starting this blog in November 2019 has been insane, and I’m so lucky to have discovered so, so many incredible, diverse authors and novels over the course of the year.

Picking my top 10 books for 2020 was way too difficult, so I’ve narrowed it down to only books that released this year in an attempt to make it easier (spoiler: it didn’t) and, after a lot of internal debate, I finally think I’ve got it. So, without further ado… my top 10 books of 2020:

TEN. Again, Again by E. Lockhart – I LOVED this book, but I think my rating is at least partially biased. We Were Liars is my favourite stand-alone of all time, but I’ve never really clicked with a lot of E. Lockhart’s books, so finding one in the same style with a cute story line and a lot of trippy parallel timezones was really all it took for this book to make the list.

Check out my review here.

NINE. The Rules by Tracy Darnton – This book is one of those books where you read the ending and can’t get over it for at least a few days. It’s a gripping, twisty thriller in the exact style that I one day hope to write and I adored it.

Check out my review here.

EIGHT. The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg – I bought this entirely as a cover-buy but ended up reading the whole thing in one night (finishing at 2am when I had to get up at 7am, oops). It was a really fun thriller with androids, romance, mystery, suspense and way too many parallels between the setting and Disneyland to be accidental.

(I didn’t review this, oops, but more information can be found here.)

SEVEN. Shine by Jessica Jung – I have never been as excited to receive an ARC as I was to receive this one. Electric Monkey literally only publishes books that I know I’ll adore, and this one tied my loves of Kpop and YA together so well. It was realistic, exciting and really well written.

Check out my review here.

SIX. Foreshadow by Nova Ren Suma and Emily XR Pan – This is the only short-story anthology I’ve read this year because it isn’t really my go-to form, but I’m so, so glad I read this. The combination of stories, writing prompts and essays provided me with so much insight and motivation for my own writing that I couldn’t not include it.

Check out my review here.

FIVE. Skyhunter by Marie Lu – MARIE LU. DYSTOPIA. That is all.

Check out my review here.

FOUR. Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco – I was blessed to get this on Netgalley and I’m still mad about how long it took me to start it. It had a strong protagonist, an exciting romance and so much fantasy. It gave me major 2014/2015 YA vibes and I’m completely here for it.

Check out my review here.

THREE. The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant – THIS. I’m in love with Les Mis and have developed a newfound appreciation for Enjolras in the months since reading this book. It was so beautifully written that I swear I highlighted something on every other page and I’m beyond excited for the sequel.

Check out my review here.

TWO. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – I’ve since read Poet X as well and I can’t get over how beautiful Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is. This book was a poetic masterpiece, and is another that I read in a single sitting.

Check out my review here.

ONE. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu – oh look, more Marie Lu (how she managed to release two completely contrasting works-of-art in the space of a year, I will never know). I’m surprised that I enjoyed The Kingdom of Back more than Skyhunter but this book just feels so special to me. The order of my top 10 has shifted a lot in the last few minutes, but there is no doubt in my mind that this book deserves to be number 1.

Check out my review here.

And that’s it! Thank you so much to the publishers that gifted me books on this list (namely: Hot Key Books, HarperVoyager, James Patterson Presents, Electric Monkey, Algonquin and Little Tiger).

I would love to hear what your favourite books were this year, so comment below which books wowed you in 2020!

Book Review: Skyhunter by Marie Lu

I wasn’t sure whether or not to review this because I completely gave up on being impartial about Marie Lu’s books about 6 years ago- but in the end, I couldn’t keep my thoughts to myself. Surprise, surprise, this is not going to be a balanced review. It is instead going to be a short summary, followed by a post full of fangirling. You’ve been warned.

Skyhunter is the story of Talin, a specially-trained soldier, or Striker, for her struggling nation, Mara. Set far, far into the future, after the collapse of the world as we know it, Mara is the only land that remains un-colonised by the ever-growing Federation, and Talin is one of many, fighting on the front lines to defend from the oncoming attack, from humans, technological human experiments and ghosts, which are monstrous beings trained to obey the Federation’s every command.

When a presumed Federation soldier wanders into their territory, all but Talin are happy to watch him suffer for their actions, but Talin feels a strange connection that forces her to risk her own life for him. When he is later paired up as her partner, she discovers that there is more to him than meets the eye, and that he may become the key to their survival and a vital look into the Federation’s plans.

There are elements of Legend and Warcross in this book that were impossible for me to ignore. Marie Lu is incredible at writing dystopia, especially dystopia surrounding technology and world domination, and this book was really no different. The characters were as instantly fascinating as any of her books and I found myself loving and hating exactly who I was supposed to. Talin is a fierce, incredibly well-developed protagonist, suffering from a lot of internal struggle about her duties, her heart and her sense of belonging, and Red is an intriguing, unique and equally powerful character to read. Jeran as well, a close friend, a fierce soldier and a very useful translator for Red and Talin, was a particular favourite character of mine. I loved seeing him develop as the story went on, after finding myself particularly invested in him from the very beginning.

This story is fast-paced, exciting and completely immersive. I got sucked in so quickly to the world of Mara and the Federation that I completely forgot the outside world, caring only about their story and their survival. The technology Marie Lu invents is believable, the world is so detailed that it’s impossible not to find yourself in the story with them, and the characters are the kind that you want to keep in your mind forever.

Rather than recommending this book, I urge you to read it. Or read Warcross, or The Young Elites, or Legend, or The Kingdom of Back (which I also *cough* reviewed, here). Marie Lu’s books are incomparable: inclusive, diverse, thrilling, immersive and incredibly original. This book has further solidified her status as my favourite author of all time, and I can only hope that, if you take my advice and read it, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Rating: 5/5 (obviously…)

MID-YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT TAG 2020

Hi! I’m supposed to be studying right now because I have two reports due at the end of the month but, instead, I’m here, freaking out about books. As usual.

I’ve seen so many booktube videos of this and I feel like I’m missing out, so I wanted to join in the fun here! And also stress myself out trying to remember everything I’ve read so far. So… the book freak out tag.

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

Spoilers for what will (probably) be my next blog post but Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo is absolutely the best book I’ve read this year. I cannot stress enough how much you need to read this book if you haven’t already.

BEST SEQUEL OF 2020

I- I haven’t actually read a single sequel in 2020, and it’s taken this tag to make me realise that. But, if this redeems me at all, I’m desperately checking the post every day for copies of Good Girl, Bad Blood and One of Us is Next so I’m assuming that one of them may be my best (and hopefully not only) sequel of the year…

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban has been catching my eye for months now. It looks twisty and creepy and absolutely my type of book. I’m definitely hoping for a This Lie Will Kill You, One of Us is Lying kind of thing.

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE OF THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

I feel like there are a million books coming out in the second half of the year that I want to read, but the first one that springs to mind is Skyhunter by Marie Lu. She could literally write an instruction manual and it would be my new favourite book so her brand new, dystopian, action thriller is absolutely my most anticipated read of 2020.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Hart and Seoul by Kristen Burnham. I wrote a review of this book for Netgalley, but couldn’t bring myself to share it on here as I hate being overly negative. When I read this book, I was hoping for a cute, funny romance and the entire thing just kind of fell flat. I found it problematic and honestly a little difficult, so it was really disappointing after getting my hopes up so high.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

The Rules by Tracy Darnton. This book was pitched for fans of three books that I absolutely love (One of Us is Lying, We Were Liars, and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder) so, in that respect, I was really hoping I’d like it. I wasn’t entirely sure when I read the blurb, though, and I was really worried that it wasn’t going to be as exciting as I hoped. This book turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read this year and I absolutely take back those doubts- it’s fast-paced, full of twists and a definite page-turner.

FAVOURITE NEW AUTHOR

Based on my reads so far this year, an author that I’m really excited about is Hina Belitz, author of To Lahore With Love. I absolutely loved this book (except for the fact that the recipes in every chapter made me hungry for the entire story…) and would definitely give anything she comes out with a try.

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

Hmmm, this one is surprisingly difficult. Maybe Xavier from Loveboat, Taipei.

NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTERS

I didn’t want to repeat any books in this tag but I don’t think I could possibly say anyone except Camino and Yahaira from Clap When You Land. Read. This. Book. Please!

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu. I’m pretty sure I cried during the book, but I know for certain that I cried during the author’s note…? I should probably be ashamed to admit that but, as mentioned re. Skyhunter, literally any book she writes could become my new favourite book. *fangirling over*

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

Again, Again by E. Lockhart, another one of my auto-buy authors. This probably isn’t one of the happiest books I’ve ever read (in fact, it’s pretty not-happy-at-all for the most part) but it had sweet moments and it mostly just makes me happy that E. Lockhart came out with a new five-star book this year.

FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-MOVIE ADAPTATION YOU’VE SEEN THIS YEAR

Umm. I’m not sure if re-watching a movie should count, especially if I’ve seen the movie a million times, but I probably need to go with Love, Rosie for this. It’s so different from the book but the characters are completely spot on. Also, it’s adorable.

FAVOURITE REVIEW YOU’VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR

When I look back at my reviews, I’m almost never happy with them, so this is kind of tough! One that I kept pretty short and sweet was Not Your Idol vol. 1, so maybe that. Also, before this year, I never even considered reviewing a manga, so that was a fun thing to try.

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT OR RECEIVED THIS YEAR

I’ve got a couple of gorgeous new hardbacks this year, but the gold, Penguin Classics style ARC of Anna K is absolutely the prettiest book I got this year. I like the book’s final cover and I like the US ARCs, but when I opened up my parcel from ReadersFirst and saw this gold cover, I would not shut up about it.

BOOK YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THIS YEAR

Six of Crows. And about a million others, but mostly Six. Of. Crows.

Hope you enjoyed my bookish meltdown! I’d love to hear what your favourite book of 2020 so far is, so definitely leave a comment and let me know, if you’d like to help me expand my already worryingly large TBR pile.

My Most Anticipated 2020 Releases

Happy New Year! I want to start by saying that I hope you all have a wonderful year and achieve everything you hope to achieve (in life, and in Goodreads’ Reading Challenge!). There’s so much I want to get done this year, and reading an obscene amount of books is a part of that.

That being said, there are so many new books coming out this year that have jumped straight to the top of my TBR. Without further ado, here are my most anticipated reads of 2020.

A Throne of Swans by Katherine and Elizabeth Korr

I was gifted a copy of this book a week ago and I’m itching to start it. With dark fantasy elements, shapeshifters, royalty and revenge, I’m certain that this is going to be incredible. It comes out really soon and I’m excited to see how everyone else enjoys it too.

Release date: 09/01/2020

You can get a copy here.

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

I hadn’t heard of this book until I received it in a box from Book Box Club. Now, having looked into it a little, I’m convinced it’s going to be amazing.

This book is about cross-cultural romance and political activism, which are both incredibly important topics. This is definitely one of the books I’m most excited about this year.

Release date: 04/02/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

If you follow me on twitter, or have ever read any of my other blog posts, this probably won’t come as a surprise. Marie Lu is my favourite author of all time and I’ve wanted a copy of this book since before I even knew it existed.

This book is a historical fantasy about Mozart’s sister. When she becomes downhearted about being overshadowed by her prodigal brother, she finds herself being swept into a fantasy world of her own creation. I cannot wait to read this book. Music and fantasy are two things I’m passionate about, and Marie Lu’s writing could make this story truly incredible.

Release date: 03/03/2020

You can get a copy here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

This book kind of goes without saying. As someone who got hooked on YA in 2014, The Hunger Games was a staple on my bookshelf. Although my obsession with the series has definitely worn off over time, I owe it to my former self to read and fall in love with this prequel.

Release date: 19/05/2020

You can get a copy here.

Again, Again by E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is another author whose books I will always buy. I’ve read We Were Liars a million times and I even got to meet her at a signing a couple of years ago, which was incredible.

Her newest book is Again, Again, about a girl who saves her brother from a suicide attempt, and how she deals with the emotional trauma of this in the aftermath. I know it’s going to be emotional, potentially painful and incredibly beautiful.

Release date: 11/06/2020

You can get a copy here.

I’d love to hear what your most anticipated reads of 2020 are so let me know down below! Otherwise, I hope you have an amazing year ahead.

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