Blog Tour – The Ship of Shadows

Title: The Ship of Shadows

Author: Maria Kuzniar

Release Date: 16/7/2020

E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 51
(see below for breakdown)

stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I received a gorgeous finished copy from Puffin Books via The WriteReads book tours, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

From Goodreads:

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realise that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.

My Thoughts

Someone just mentioned a ruthless band of female pirates crewing a mystical vessel with some shadowy secrets and I was instantly sold, but oh that blurb only gives you a small little taste of the bounties this book holds. The Ship of Shadows pulls you into a fabulous world jam packed with riches, from vast libraries, gem covered ceilings, to magic filled corridors and some pretty delicious sounding cake!

It’s sometimes so hard to review a book you loved. I just want to talk about ever scene, every moment that made me fall more and more in love with this book and the world it created. I want to just say "Read it!" and here are a few reasons why you should:

We have a kick-ass band of strong female pirates, with a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, with wide ranging ambitions, fears and personalities. Aleja is a fantastic main character. She is so inquisitive and adventure seeking that it is just a joy to follow. I really enjoyed that it was for Aleja’s perspective. That we got her internal reasoning as she tried to solve the mysteries of the Ship of Shadows, got to know each of the crew members, explored all the magical elements and finds who she wants to be amongst it all, for me was just a great way to follow the story. The Adults are also adults, they are caring but stern again with their own unique personalities and traits that just make all of the characters so well rounded. This is primarily about finding yourself and the found family of the Ship of Shadows and how each of them contributes to Aleja’s journey is awesome. It also has the "Girls can be anything, do anything" message without feeling corny and over worked. Its just women being themselves, pursuing their interests and living their lives on a cool as hell magical pirate ship.

The writing is fantastic! We get fast paced adventure, intriguing mysteries and heart warming moments of friendship and family. I devoured it and I do think I need to go back and re-read as I am sure there numerous quiet little details that I missed in my hunger to continue. All of this is wrapped up in luscious descriptions. Oh can Kuzniar world-build! There is so much immersive description without it feeling info dumpy. You just get a real sense for Aleja’s surroundings. It really makes the magic and wonder come to life. I am a sucker for good world-building. I want to feel like I am there amongst it all, with the sights, sounds and smells and this book does that in spades. Wither it excitedly exploring the magical nooks and crannies of the ship or being saddle sore from riding a camel across a desert you get a real feeling for the world around the characters.

I really loved this, I think it is a book that everyone for 8-80 would enjoy without hesitation. If you are looking for a rich, fun, magical pirate adventure with an awesome female cast, this is the book for you. Just read it!

(Also I should mention there is not one but TWO spectacular libraries in this book. Any one that knows me knows I love a good fictional library and would happily read book after book of characters exploring said libraries)

ESCAPE Score

ENDING – 8

STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 9

CHARACTERS – 8

ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 9

PLOT – 8

ENJOYMENT – 9

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

BookoplAthon Wrap up

For those that follow my blog will know I took part in Becca’s BookoplAthon this past weekend. It was great fun! I managed to pick some short yet awesome reads which allowed me to fly through the prompts. In total I read 8 books over 8 prompts (doubled up on 1 prompt and an extra read) and got 40% of the way through a separate book for the 8th prompt before we hit midnight on the 12th. There wasn’t a bad book in the bunch and I even managed to get a couple of eARCs finished so I can write my reviews for them.

WRAP-UP STATS

BOOKS: 8

PAGES: 1260

(Page count includes Audiobook page numbers)

RATINGS:

5 STARS: 2

4 STARS: 4

3 STARS: 2

WHAT I READ –

Roll 1 – 2019 BOARD : PARANORMAL

A Whisper in the Dark
Jessi Elliott and K.J. Sutton

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This isn’t my usual sort of read but I really enjoyed it. I started it at midnight as soon as the readathon started and happily finished it before bed. While I didn’t finish the second instalment as part of the readathon I am going to finish this four part novella series!

Roll 1 -2020 BOARD: CHANCE CARD!

This is How You Lose the Time War
Amal El-Mohtah and Max Gladstone

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I put a list of re-reads I wanted to get to as a Twitter poll and Twitter voted for my favourite out of the four reads. This is just so superbly written, a beautiful little sci-fi, that just has the magical lyrical purple prose that I just adore.

ROLL 2 2019 BOARD: CULTURALLY DIVERSE

The Jumbies
Tracey Baptiste

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is one of Two group books for the Middle grade Marvels book club and I really enjoyed it. I have never read any Caribbean folklore before and this was just so atmospheric and creepy, but also filled with joy, family and friendship. It was a treat to read.

ROLL 3 – 2019 BOARD: MYSTERY/THRILLER

Voldie Vanve Vol 1
Hope Larson and Brittney Williams

Rating: 3 out of 5.

So cute with a really interesting style this was a fun little caper of a graphic novel. It has a real 1950’s esq vibe with a little bit of tounge and cheek fun the the writing. I think I will continue with the series whe I am looking for a fun quick read.

ROLL 3 – 2020 Board: FREE PARKING/GIFTED

The Tea Dragon Tapestry
Katie O’Neill

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This entire series is just gorgeous from the art work to the message. It is sweet and wholesome, really inclusive and uplifiting. I was so lucky to be gifted an eARC of this amazing little read. I am sure to re-read when I when can get my hands on a physical copy.

ROLL 4 – 2019 BOARD: YA FANTASY

The Necessary Arthur
Garth Nix

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I read this even though it didnt really count for this prompt as a) it isnt YA and b) when I started reading it found it to be more Sci-fi than fantasy but who cares I read it anyway. Damn this little story packed in so much. I really wish there was more as I want to know how everything in this universe resolved and how they came to be also. Really enjoyed it.

Wild Magic
Tamora Pierce

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was the real surprise of the readathon for me. I was scrambling on scribd for a short YA Fantasy I could read in the time. Honestly, who would have guessed that would have been the hardest prmpt for me! I had heard Dead Good book reviews mention Tamora Pierces writing and really loving it (so I am counting this for the 2020 Board roll 2: Recommended read also). I really really liked it. This has a magical talking badger!!!! enough said.

ROLL 4 – 2020 BOARD: CONTEMPORARY/ROMANCE

My Riot
Rick Spears, Emmett Helen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another eARC graphic novel which I counted for the contempory prompt, even though it was set in the 90s (for me that’s contemporary). The art for this was great and it was such an interesting story. I finished this at exactly 11:52 pm on Sunday so I think it was a good way to finish off the readathon.


I really did love this readathon! It was great to just sit down and unashamedly read all weekend! I enjoyed the jumping into all those little reads I have found some great series too that I can’t wait to read more from! It was just lovely to have a weekend of books!

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

Shadowhunters Saturday – City of Ashes

We are back for another Shadowhunter Saturday! Where Ellie (Read to Ramble) and I are discussing our journey through the world of the Shadowhunters! If you missed our announcement you can find all the details about this collaboration Here or if you are interested in our thoughts on City of Bones

The first section is my spoiler free mini review of what I thought of the book followed by my interview of Ellie and her Thoughts. If you would like to see my answers to the interview questions and Ellie’s mini review you can find it one her blog Here.

Title: City of Ashes

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: The Mortal Instruments #2

stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

From Goodreads: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what’s normal when you’re a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who’s becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn’t ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary’s only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

In this breathtaking sequel to City of Bones, Cassandra Clare lures her readers back into the dark grip of New York City’s Downworld, where love is never safe and power becomes the deadliest temptation.

My Thoughts

I must admit I enjoyed this one so much more than the first. Again it is not the best written book. Its still filled with eye-roll moments and cheesy dialogue, but damn does it just pull you in.The pacing of this book was a little slow in the first half. I don’t think I was fully invested in the story until the last third of the plot where the pace just skyrockets. My biggest fault with this one is the age old gripe of YA. That is the behaviour of the Adults. Very few of the adults step up in this one. They either act just as immature as the teenagers or utterly fail to reign the teenager characters in and instead follow them blindly in there escapades. Its just such a common troupe.

There were also a number of plot points I would have loved to seen expanded but were just left hanging in the air with very little information. It were a lot of Oh, so we are just not going to address that moments. Which is a shame as they were mostly around areas of world building I would have liked to explore more. The last section of the book does have some great twists and cliffhangers that keep the pages turning. But we fly through elements of the plot here that could have used a bit more of a steady pace so the book seems very disjointed.

Just like the last one I think a lot of my overall enjoyment was from the buddy read as when there were plot twists I found myself rushing to DM Ellie to go “omg did you read chapter 17” etc. I did enjoy this, I did gasp where I was supposed to and was keen to find out what happens next and that’s what a solid read should do.

SPOILER ALERT! – The next section is full of Spoilers where I ask Ellie about what she thought of the book. We discuss key plot points and give away lots of detail so if you don’t want to read spoilers.

I ASKED ELLIE SOME QUESTIONS

Fi: What was your favourite moment? 

Ellie: Oh my gosh, I have no idea. I talked about this later on, but even though I was surprised about Simon turning into a Vampire and being really surprised about it and not being able to wrap my head around it, I loved it! I love Vampires, and for Simon to turn into one I was just weirdly happy about it (don’t ask me why, I’m weird like that). Other than that, I also really liked when Clary exploded the boat with her rune because I’m really enjoying how powerful she is getting and I like the fact that she seems to be finally believing in herself and thinks that she is special.

Fi: What do you think is going to happen next? 

Ellie: At this point, I have absolutely no idea because this series is ALL OVER THE PLACE. But, in theory, I think that Madeleine will be able to wake Jocelyn up and there will be explanations and presentations and revelations maybe. Then, I think something might happen between Jace and Clary or Clary and Simon again. I would really like to see more of a relationship between Magnus and Alec because Magnus is really growing on me now. And I’m sure Valentine is going to pop up again. However, now having read two Cassandra Clare books, I think its fair to say there will be a lot more happening, and definitely a lot more “what the heck” moments to come.

Fi: What Has your thoughts about the series changed?

Ellie: Uhm, I wouldn’t say changed, because I’m still wondering why people rave about these books as much. Like, I understand they are cool and shocking and addictive, but I’m not 100% won over yet, I think mainly because I’m finding the incest plotline really yucky and just fairly unecessary, I don’t know why it is being pushed as much as it is, and I know that it’s a spoiler so obviously people don’t talk about it, BUT, I am surprised that no one that I’ve seen/heard has talked about this, maybe because they aren’t actually siblings? No idea lol, I’m just making up conspiracy theories now. So, I’m basically still unsure about the absolute LOVE and raving over this series, I am enjoying the series more now, the second book was better than the first, but still not OMG WOW AMAZING worthy for me personally. I think I might just be being picky and wanting it to be astonishing right from the start. I do now think that there is a lot more to this series and I’m looking forward to City of Glass.

What ELLIE Thought About the Plot

Jace falling out with Maryse

Ellie: I was actually expecting something like this to happen if I’m honest. Jace is really hot-headed and impulsive and I don’t think I’ve ever really appreciated Maryse, especially when she turned up and immediately started acting weird, pushing Jace away and blaming everything on him – so I could definitely see something like that happening between the two, but I still found the execution of this a bit strange? Or maybe the outcome, I’m not sure aha.


The Inquisitor arresting Jace

Ellie: This was quite surprising, for once, I didn’t think the Inquisitor was a sort of character that I expected to be bad or do something like arrest Jace. I was more surprised by everyone standing by and letting him be taken to the Silent City, I was surprised by Maryse’s attitude, she has known Jace for the past 7 years and suddenly now she only sees Valentine in him. I did think the Inquisitor had an ulterior motive or was blinded by something though.


The death of the silent Brothers

Ellie: No way did I expect this. The whole time Jace was being arrested, taken to the Silent City and locked in a cell, I was really surprised, and then when the Silent Brothers started dropping and Valentine turned up I was really shocked. I was afraid they would say it was Jace’s fault and at this point, I was starting to wonder if Cassandra Clare was going to turn the whole thing around and kill all the characters off. The Silent Brothers seemed immortal and un-killeable to me, so I was not expecting them to just basically drop dead, and when you find out they died of fear, I was even more surprised because as mind manipulator type people, I was expecting them to be able to face fear down or something, lol, I read too many books where things turn out good at the end I think.


The Clary/Jace Kissing At the Fairy court

Ellie: This was another WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING moment. A) I was really annoyed for Simon and I would have stormed off like he did too. B) I know Clary and Jace had to kiss to get out of the Seelie court, but seriously, I think they both enjoyed it a bit too much, and I’m still fairly shocked about the whole brother-sister situation. Even though Cassandra Clare writes some really yucky plot twists, I did think “wow, what is going to happen next”, she does have a bit of a shock factor, but it keeps you reading!

Simon is a Vampire

Ellie: This was one of the most unbelievable things I’ve read in a book, not that I didn’t believe it was true, but more like wondering how on earth it actually happened and where it all suddenly came from. You know how when you read books and something bad happens and you shrug it off and think it will all turn out fine, well, that was not one of these moments, I was expecting someone to say “lol, only joking” and for Simon to be human again, but the fact that he wasn’t and was now suddenly a vampire I found really strange, but also really great, even though I kept thinking “poor Simon”. My thoughts don’t make sense, but this has been whirling around in my head for the past week and I’m still not over it aha!

Jace visits Valentine/arrested again

Ellie: We have to admit that when you tell a character not to do something, they’re going to go and do it. I knew Jace was going to go back to Valentine, but I was surprised that afterwards, he didn’t take his deal. I think that after Jace nearly went through the Portal to Idris with Valentine in City of Bones, I always expected him to inevitably betray Clary, Isabelle and Alec and go back with Valentine, but I was pleasantly surprised that he stood up to him – even though he shouldn’t have gone to visit him in the first place.


Clary and Jace have special powers

Ellie: Cool plot twist! I hadn’t really thought about any of the things that happened and that Clary and Jace accomplished – and this makes me think that there are still things about them that we don’t know or that Valentine is hiding. Obviously, there will be something about HOW Valentine gave them special powers, and I think that just before the Inquisitor got killed on the boat, she said something to Jace which is going to resurface either in City of Glass or a future book, and I’m really intrigued to know what, apparently it’s something to do with a scar on Jace’s shoulder. I wonder when/if Clary’s mother is going to wake up, if she will be aware of what Valentine did to them, and if she did why she didn’t say something before? I think there is still potentially a lot to come out of this.


Simon captured by Valentine

Ellie: I completely forgot that Valentine had to go after a Vampire for the Ritual to change the Soul-Sword, so when he broke into Simon’s house and kidnapped him, I was quite surprised. I was expecting Simon to fight back a bit, you know “super strength” and everything else about Vampires, I think the whole kidnapping thing happened a bit too seamlessly, but I thought Valentine had already got what he needed so I was surprised that he captured Simon. It feels like everything he does is to go against Clary and Jace and to bring them to him, so it would make sense, but I didn’t think about it at all.

The fight against Valentine 

Ellie: I’ve read so many battles in fantasy books, and I actually found this one a bit underwhelming. I was expecting more casualties, or more OMG reactions from myself while I was reading, but it was almost like everything was happening in slow-motion, either because I was reading ridiculously slow for once, or because it was all a bit uneventful. I still haven’t really grasped the whole amazing hype behind these books yet, I do get it, they are addictive and the plot twists are really surprising, but I don’t think that the battles have been all that amazing YET (I hope it will get more deadly and end-of-the-world-esque in future books). It is only the second book out of 20 in the same world, so it’s not surprising it’s still fairly docile and it actually might just be a case of me and my high expectations anyway. But, long story short, I was more surprised by how it ended, I sort of knew Valentine was going to get away as I feel like there is more to him and what he has done to Clary and Jace, but I didn’t expect Clary to explode the whole boat to pieces.

Simon and the sun

Ellie: By this point, Simon had died, become a Vampire, got kidnapped by Valentine, been drained of his blood and sort of died again (or died more should I say), and then was revived by Jace’s blood, so by this point I thought “Is this it?” I was starting to panic because Clare had gone through all that and Simon surviving multiple times and for him to just died from the sun would have been like ARGH – I was very frustrated by this point, but!!!!! Then I wasn’t expecting him to be okay, and even in the epilogue I was like “What???”. Valentine said something about Jace and how he shouldn’t have given Simon his blood so I was a bit sceptical and frankly lost at this point. I could have been super angry if Clare had just killed Simon with the sun after he went through all that, so I’m glad he didn’t actually get burned right there in the truck-bed, on the river after the battle and the boat exploding and everyone being okay aha!!

Epilogue – break up/ Jace+Clary/ Jocelyn

Ellie: I did not expect this! I didn’t think that Simon and Clary were still actually together after all the events of the book, and then he was like “baby” and 3 seconds later he is breaking up with her? Gah, this book has given us so many plot twists in such few chapters that I was just screaming inside my head at this point. Have you ever seen that picture of that girl screaming her head off? That’s what it was like inside my head. 

Then, Clary was off to see Jace and to tell him she loved him and wanted to be with him (I suspect this is what she was going to see him for) and frankly, I’m getting annoyed at how hard Clare is pushing this incest thing. Valentine did a long monologue where he was explaining how mundanes and Shadowhunters/Downworlders are all different, and that their laws and customs are different, how mundanes will create enemies just for the sake of it and that Shadowhunters don’t see things in the same way, but I still don’t think all that explains why we need to have these two sibling teenagers fall in love and be together, like, that’s just yuck, not amused by this! So, I am sort of glad that Jace completely pushed her away, BUT, I know this won’t be the last of their relationship we see, so I expect there will be more yucky moments to come. 

And FINALLY, Jocelyn! Again, I thought that they ALL forgot about Clary and Jace’s mum being in hospital and in a coma, they went to see her and talked about her at the start but then they all went off to fight Valentine, so I thought that she was just forgotten about. I dropped the book at one point and opened it to that page and saw the last sentence (I got very annoyed at myself at that point), so I knew what was coming, but when it happened and Madeleine said that Jocelyn did it to herself and only she could reverse it, I was surprised. I feel like this book is all shock factor and plot twists that can’t be anything else than surprising, but this was one plot twist where I thought “ooooooooh!!”.


If you want to read my answers to the questions and read Ellie’s mini review you can find them all on Ellie’s Blog Read To Ramble

We also would love to know what you thought. If you have read City of bones let us know your answers to the questions! and come discuss the world of the shadow hunters in the comments!

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

BookoplAthon – Live Blog.

July 12th Midday

The final roll drop and my final update, as I am going to do a spereate wrap up!

Reading Upadate: I have finished both graphic novels so I can jump straight into the reads for the next roll.

ROLL 4: 2019 Board YA fantasy

Unusually for me I dont have a YA fantasy read at the moment. And While this is just noted as a Fantasy short story, the protagonist is still a student and I want to read it so I am counting it. I might start an actual YA fantasy if I get this finished I think I will

Roll 4: 2020 board CONTEMPORARY/romance

Again a bit of a cheat. This is set in the 90s but thats about as contemporary as I get! This is again another review copy so I am glad I can squeeze it into my TBR.


July 12th 8am

Seems like I fell asleep and missed the midnight roll drop (oops). I must have needed the sleep. I also didn’t finish A light in the Dusk but I am sure I can find some time to finish it

ROLL 3: 2019 board Mystery/Thriller

Goldie Vance Vol 1
Hope Larson and Brittney Williams

Decided to give myself a more relaxed morning and choose some graphic novels. I have had this one on my TBR shelf for a while as it just looks so lovely. A little mystery graphic novel on a sunny Sunday morning sounds perfect.

ROLL 3: 2020 Free Parking/gifted

The Tea Dragon Tapestry
Katie O’Neill

This has been gifted to me by Oni Press the publisher so I can review it. The sound of a lazy sunday morning is just too appealing so I opted for another graphic novel. The Tea dragon graphic novels are just so cute and diverse and all round gorgeous they are the per read for a lazy morning!

I think I will safely finish both of these. I do need to head out to the supermarket at some point, so we can eat next week, but I think I can fit that task and these books in, as soon as a grab my morning coffee!


july 11th 9pm

Reading Update: With Three hours to go until the next Roll drop I have managed to finish both

Book 2

This is How you Loose the Time War
which I read as my chance card prompt as I had time after finishing the Paranormal Prompt

Book 3

The Jumbies
which I read to fulfil the 2019 board prompt of read a culturally diverse book.

I am hoping in the next few hours I can squeeze in A Light in the Dusk. At just 107 pages I might be able to do it.


JULY 11th MidDAY

Reading Update: I have yet to finish This is How you Lose the Time War. I have about 50 pages left So should be fairly quick to finish. I ended up mostly reading the ebook instead of listening to the audio as it is just too beautiful a read to not highlight favourite bits. I think on my next re-read I will need to fully annotate it.

But for now It’s time for the second prompt.

Roll 2: 2019 board CULTURALLY Diverse

The Jumbies
Tracey Baptiste

I am reading this as part of the Middle Grade Marvels group read We have read 50 pages and I am just adoring it so I might have to just jump into this and finish it. Its based on Caribbean folk tales and I absolutely adore the narrative voice.

Roll 2: 2020 Board VIEWER Recommends

A Light in the Dusk
Jessi Elliot and K.J. Sutton

Seeing as I read the first instalment for the first prompt and I originally got that recommendation from Becca I think its fitting to continue with the second instalment. I really enjoyed it.

I think I will decide which one I fancy diving into first when I I have finished This is how you lose the Time war.


July 11th 6am

Good morning lovelies. A quick updated to say I managed to finish my first book. And most importantly I got some sleep!

Book 1

A Whisper in the Dark

I enjoyed this. It’s not my usual kind of read but it had a really interesting concept and I could see myself continuing with the series.

I am now going to move on to read How to loose the time war as a bonus book while I wait for roll two!


July 11th midnight

It begins! And I don’t know what to start with. Twitter spoke and for my re-read it picked:

This is how you Lose the Time War
Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

I adored this book when I first read it and I have been wanting to re-read it. While I don’t currently have my physical copy (My dad borrowed it just before lockdown), I do have access to the audio.But I fancy starting with a physical read so it think I will see how far I can get with A Whisper in the Dark before I need to sleep and hopefully fit in How to loose the time war while I do house work in the morning. So my official first read will be:

Roll 1: Board 2019 – Paranormal

A Whisper in the Dark
Jessi Elliot and K.J. Sutton



July 10th 6pm

Hello, I am trying something new! I have decided to do Becca’s BookoplAthon. Which is a 48 hour readathon that starts at the stroke of midnight tonight and finishes when the clock strikes midnight on the 13th.

If you are not familiar with Becca and the Books, Bookopoly TBR game works I encourage you to go check it out. Her explanation of how it all works can be found HERE. This is a super interactive readathon, with the reveal of the next set of prompts happening every 12 hours over the 48 hour period. So I wanted to do something a bit more active for the experience. I thought about all the ways this could happen! Instagram updates, twitter threads I even toyed with the idea of attempting a vlog (I don’t have a Booktube channel and I am still trying to work up my confidence to actually start one, I keep talking myself out of it) . And I sort of settled on this strange live updating a post as the readathon goes on, we will see how it works.

PROMPT 1

Becca has two different Bookopoly boards so we will be given one prompt from each board and we can choose which one we want to read.

2019 Board : Paranormal

I am currently reading City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare for my Readalong with Ellie from Read to Ramble we need to finish to to get out post up tomorrow! Yikes so I am hoping to finish it before the readathon starts but if I don’t manage it I might count it for this prompt.

If I do manage to finish City of Ashes I have A whisper in the Dark by Jessi Elliott and K.J. Sutton. This sounds like such an interesting premise and I am intrigued. At only 95 pages it is perfect for this kind or readathon.

2020 board: CHANCE CARD!

This is an interesting one. I have pulled four re-reads off of my shelves and I am going to give you guys the choice. These are all novellas/graphic novels that I have loved and would like to re-read. So I am giving you guys until midnight to decide! Check out my twitter Poll HERE

You can pick between:

So they are my picks for the first prompts. I will be back at Midnight to tell you which prompt I pick and what book I will be reading.


Arc Review – Harrow Lake

Title: Harrow Lake

Author: Kat Ellis

Release Date: 9/7/2020

E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 21
(see below for breakdown)

stars

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I received a free eARC copy from Penguin, via NetGalley as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

From Goodreads:

Welcome to Harrow Lake. Someone’s expecting you . . .

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker – she thinks nothing can scare her.

But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot.

The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map – and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone – or something – stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.

Content Warning: this book contains multiple topics that some may not be comfortable with. Please check out its Entry on the Book Trigger Warnings Website

My Thoughts

I think I was about the only person on a recent tour who did not like this book. And I am going to be extremely upfront as to why. This was the WORST depiction of mental health related issues I have ever read. I found the use of multiple different health issues from PTSD to dementia as plot devices distasteful, and not once was any character offered help for those issues. I think that is extremely careless in this day and age, to have these front and centre without bringing them back to the key issue of getting help.

This being the primary driving of the plot meant I did not enjoy the plot. The "horror" aspect being intrinsic to the is it real or is it due to the MC’s PTSD, hallucinations and compulsive behaviour. I get that the author was trying to go for the unreliable narrator, but again I just didn’t agree with this choice especially when no other perspective was offered. I also found it to be quite predictable I could see the big reveal from the beginning.

In terms of character development in my opinion there wasn’t much apart from the story of the Mc’s mother, who was a main focus. Due to the choice of narration style there was a distinct style to the voice. Again some of these choices I found to be very poor taste. The MC repeats the word "OPTIMAL" in a compulsive fashion as if to sooth her. None of this is discussed in the text. The writing style was quite staccato at points, jumping, chopping and changing which I guess is supposed to be disorientating but instead just threw me out of the story.

On the plus side there was some really atmospherics descriptions and this is what brought the book up to a two star read as these had some great imagery. The ending had an alright little twist. That was until the author wrote herself her own 5 star review of the book as part of the narrative!?! Overall this just left a bad taste in my mouth. I would most likely not have finished it if it wasn’t an ARC.

ESCAPE Score

ENDING – 4

STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 3

CHARACTERS – 4

ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 5

PLOT – 2

ENJOYMENT – 3

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

WWW Wednesday – 8/7/2020

Another week has flown by! This has been a much more relaxed week for me. Starting a new job is always a frantic and even more so now that I am work from home, but I have been able to stick to a proper working schedule which means I actually had time to read! I am also hoping that with Bookopolathon happening this weekend I will be able to get some more books ticked off but I will have to wait and see what the prompts are for those

Happy Wednesday!

Its that time of the Week again! WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme that was revived by Taking on a World of Words. I like it cause it is fairly simple but allows me to check in with my reading but also with you!

WWW Wednesday asks just three questions:

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RECENTLY FINISHED?

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL READ NEXT?

Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows
J.M Bergen

Yes another Group book. This is the second book I am reading as part of the Middle Grade Monthly group this month. We just finished the first section discussion on Monday and it looks like we are all kind of intrigued as to where this one will take us. Lots of fun theories bouncing around. I am very interested to know what the Book of Sorrows has in store for Thomas and hopefully we will spend some more time at the mysterious bookshop too.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Melissa Basherdoust

I had an eARc copy of this beauty and I just posted my spoiler free review yesterday. This was such an interesting read. It did have a disappointing lack of world building for my personal tastes but I really enjoyed the love triangle which is not something I usually gravitate too. You can read my full thoughts HERE

The Ship of Shadows
Maria Kuznar

Another middle grade on my list this time as part of a Blog tour that is sneaking up on me fast. As this is not a group read I don’t have to stick to a schedule so I can just sit down and enjoy this one at my leisure. I fully anticipate this will be a fun read.


So that is my WWW post for this week. I will see you next Wednesday to update you. What are you reading this week? Have you finished anything lately you loved?

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

Arc Review – Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Title: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Author: Melissa Basherdoust

Release Date: 7/7/2020

E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 39
(see below for breakdown)

stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I received a free eARC copy from Hodder and Stoughton Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

From Goodreads:

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

My Thoughts

This was a really interesting take on the traditional fairy-tale princess story. I am not overly familiar with Persian mythology but this has really sparked an interest, (Bashardoust has included from referenced at the back of the book which I am going to check out, this is really appreciated.). It is somewhat hard to describe this book. It is like an amalgamation of rapunzel, sleeping beauty and mythology into a flowing story which has Soraya battling with all the various images she has of herself to find who she truly is. All the tales are seamlessly blended into a single narrative.

I really enjoyed Soraya as a character, she really explores the depths of her emotions during the course of the story, from acting in hot headed irrational anger to contemplating simple and beautiful moments we get the full scale of her emotional journey. This is something that is truly beautiful about the writing. It really does expertly capture the emotional battle that Soraya is having within herself. However, this also makes the pacing rather slow. As we weave in an out of the various tales it could occasionally get repetitive with the wording of Soraya’s internal monologue. She would often repeat the same sentiments to her self and occasionally that would become a little stale. As while she did learn from the various moments in the narrative, it was at a slow and steady pace, again with a lot of introspection for the character.

We also get a rather interesting love triangle that intermingles though out all the story weaving just a complex web as the blending of the fairy-tales. The Bisexual rep is prominent from the beginning, which is a big plus, but the triangle was not the one I had originally predicted from the first few chapters. The overlapping storylines for the love interests is also really interesting and I did enjoy reading the romance, however there was a little too many who will she choose flip flopping overall, which again slowed the pace.

One aspect that did disappoint me is we do have a real lack of world building. If you are looking for a story with rich description of the Persian setting you will not find it here. we get lots of information about the various div throughout the novel, and some description of the customs and beliefs of Soraya’s world, we get little to no description of the world its self. This made it a little difficult for me to imagine and place the characters in. I am very fond of rich world building that envelopes me in the world and I just didn’t find it here. It kept me distant from the story and I just didn’t feel as invested.

I still think this is a great read! Its so well structured that is it easy to just ride along with the story. It really has sparked an interest in the origin tales that this retelling has stemmed from. I am also keen to pick up other work by Bashardoust as she really does have a unique quality to the writing.

ESCAPE Score

ENDING – 7

STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 7

CHARACTERS – 7

ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 4

PLOT – 7

ENJOYMENT – 7

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

June Wrap up.

June was a bit of a weird month for me. It started on a real high with my Birthday and lots of lovely and generous bookish post from some amazing bookish people. I will be doing a birthday book haul very soon! But then as the month went on I ended up extremely busy with work and found little to no time to read. As I have mentioned before in my WWW Wednesday posts, June was my last month at my current position and I have now moved to working with a new lab in a different university (not physically as we are still under social distancing in the UK). This made for a crazy last few weeks of June and I am behind on both my reading and my review write ups.

July has been a lot easier on me so far and despite a number of group reads I am managing to get a lot of pages read. I am also taking part in Becca’s Bookopolyathon which is a 48 hour readathon based round Becca and the Books’ TBR game. I am hoping to live blog both here and on my Instagram so keep and eye out for that from the 10th.

WRAP-UP STATS

BOOKS: 10

PAGES: 3707

(Page count includes Audiobook page numbers)

RATINGS:

5 STARS: 5

4.5 STARS: 1

4 STARS: 1

3.5 STARS: 1

3 STARS: 2

Book of the Month

A Deceleration on the Rights of Magician
H.G Parry

Rating: 5 out of 5.

H.G. Parry is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. Both of her books that were released this year in the UK occupy the top spots on my best reads of 2020! The thing is I am struggling with how to review this book as I just don’t know how to express what i adored about it. It is a dark subject matter that is treated with upmost respect and historical accuracy using the introduced magic systems to highlight and convey emotion and feeling that would otherwise be out of reach. It is so different from the Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep yet just as well written! I know I will have to re-read this one. I am hoping to get my full thoughts in some kind of order soon.

WHAT I READ –

Aurora Rising
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora Cycle #1

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I found this one to be a little disappointing. I really enjoy both Kaufman and Kristoff’s writing and I loved the Illuminae files, However, this one promised me a space heist and just didn’t deliver. It was still a fun read and contained all the aspects we expect from this duo. I will be continuing on with the series in hopes that it gives me a bit more of what I was wanting.

Guards! Guards!
Terry Pratchett

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sometimes you just pick up the perfect book and the perfect time. The beginning of June was a prominent moment for the world and this book offered both the humorous relief but also the perfect reflection on the current political climate. I have a mini review that gives more of my thoughts HERE

Tilly and the Lost Fairytales
Anna James

Pages and Co #2

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading Tilly and the book Wanders with the Middle Grade Marvels bookclub I just had to pick up the next in the series. While I didn’t adore it as much as the first book in the series is was still a magical read. I cant wait for the third one out later this year. I have a non-spoiler series review of both books one and two HERE

Crossing in Time
D.L. Orton

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This was an interesting Time travel romance that didn’t do a whole lot of time travelling. I read this as part of The WriteReads books tour and I did enjoy it, but I also had my problems. It is very slow to build and it left me with more questions than answers. I did in the beginning enjoy the romance but then it turned sour for me due to actions of the plot and over all I was just left with mixed feelings. You can read about all of those thoughts as well as my most burning question – HERE

The Court of Miricles
Kester Grant

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book. I will admit I have no previous knowledge of Les Mis (which this claims to be a retelling of) so I had no expectations and I found this to be an interesting world with engaging characters. I am hoping that the world building, which was by far my favourite part, will continue as the series goes forward. I have a full review HERE.

City of Bones
Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments #1

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I read this as part of Ellie (Read to Ramble) and I’s journey through the world of the Shadowhunters. This was a re-read for me but I must admit I enjoyed this read so much more than my previous read. Reading these books with Ellie is so much fun. We are currently reading City of Ashes and frantically DMing each other to giggle, gag and gasp! If you haven’t read this series I highly recommend buddy reading it. We have a full discussion post where you can find out both Ellie and My own thoughts HERE.

Artifical Condition
Martha Wells

Murderbot Diaries #2

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My love and appreciation for MurderBot just grows and grows! I adore this Character, and the Introduction of ART (Asshole Research Transport) a ship AI with an attitude I was sold even more. I am sure to have a mini review up for this soon but I love love love this series.

Emergency Skin
N.K. Jemisin

Forward collection

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When ever I have been looking for a quick read to fill some time I have been dipping into the Forward collection, a collection of Sci-fi stories from various authors and I am yet to be disappointed by them. This was just a fantastically paced and relevant short story with a dash of dark humour too. There were so many layers, reveals and world-building all in such a tiny package it was just engrossing. I will probably do a mini or series review for this story/collection hopefully soon.

Nevermoor: The Tails of Morrigan Crow
Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor #1

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ending the month on a re-read as part of the Middle Grade Marvels book club. I am glad I picked this up again as I love it. I am hoping to continue with the series in anticipation of the third book, Hollowpox, being released in August. I just think this is just such a magical and creative world and I do love a good magical competition. While I have previously read this I have never written a full review so I am hoping I can write one up soon.


Overall, I am not unhappy with my June reading. I read some awesome books. I also have a couple of started but yet to finish books that I hope I can clear up in July.

How was your reading month of June? What was your book of the month?

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

Review – The library of the Unwritten

Title: The Library of the Unwritten

Author: A. J. Hackwith

Series: Hell’s Library #1

E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 51
(see below for breakdown)

stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From Goodreads:

Join the library and raise hell in the first book of a stunning new fantasy series, where books unfinished by their authors reside within the Unwritten Wing of the devil’s own library, and restless characters will emerge from out of their pages…

Every book left unfinished by its author is filed away in the Unwritten Wing, a neutral space in Hell presided over by Claire, its head librarian. Along with repairing and organizing books, her job consists of keeping an eye on restless stories whose characters risk materialising and escaping the library.

When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto. But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong, in a chase that threatens to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell… and Earth.

My Thoughts

This is just so just so inventive! The combination of the library of unfinished works that occupies a space in hell,the lore and dynamic in the different afterlife realms, the varying magic systems between them all were detailed and fascinating. It just filled with complex and detailed world building. I happily could read an individual novel set in each of the locations we ventured through. Oh and I NEED more librarian battles in Valhalla!!!!

The characters were also fantastic, twisting and turning your typical tropes to make a diverse, entertaining and fun cast of characters. The interaction between the characters is fantastic so much banter, back and forth. It just makes it such a fun read. I wanted to know more about each and every one of the characters. I fell in love with some really unlikely characters, rooted for them and I just got really invested. I really liked the relationship that built between the characters, I loved the slow reveal of of the back ground of each character and how we encountered new characters throughout.

The same was true of plot, there was so much going on, lots of twists and turns, reveals that had me gasping out loud. It was just a fantastic story. I just really enjoyed it. Occasionally there were some pacing issues and it did find some of the cuts between worlds a little confusing at times but i still really enjoyed the flow. The ending was gorgeously bitter sweet in the best way. I really cant wait for the next one in the series (there is a release data for the US later this year but not one for the UK at the moment so I think this may have to be an import for me as I am really keen on this series)

ESCAPE Score

ENDING – 8

STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 9

CHARACTERS – 8

ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 9

PLOT – 8

ENJOYMENT – 9

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!

WWW Wednesday- 1/7/20

Happy Wednesday! And Happy July! It’s not just a start of a new month for me but I have officially changed jobs. While not physically moving to my new office as we are still socially distancing in Scotland, I am officially working for a different university now. Therefore, the last week has been a bit hectic with trying to finish projects off in anticipation of my last day. However, I did manage to finish off a couple of quick reads and a re-read!

Its that time of the Week again! WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme that was revived by Taking on a World of Words. I like it cause it is fairly simple but allows me to check in with my reading but also with you!

WWW Wednesday asks just three questions:

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RECENTLY FINISHED?

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL READ NEXT?

City of Ashes
Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments

I am doing a buddy read for the whole shadow hunters universe with Ellie from Read to Ramble. We both really enjoyed City of Bones (you can read all our thoughts HERE) and I hope we will enjoy this one too.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Jessica Townsend

This was a re-read for me that I read for Middle Grade Marvels Book of the Month for June. I am also re-reading this series in anticipation for the release of Hollow pox in August. I love this book. It just just so magical and filled with detail. I am sure to jump into Wundersmith in July.

The Jumbies
Tracey Baptiste

Another Buddy read. This is one of two July books for Middle Grade Marvels. My physical copy just arrived today and I am keen to get started. I have lots of fun new middle grade to read this month and this book seems a great place to start.


So that is my WWW post for this week. I will see you next Wednesday to update you. What are you reading this week? Have you finished anything lately you loved?

I would love to chat all things bookish with you! You can comment down below or find me on Twitter or Goodreads!

Happy Reading!