Autumn Recommendations

Hi, lovelies! How are you doing?

It’s cold and wet out today, and since Autumn is finally here I thought I’d share some of my favourite spooky, atmospheric or in any other way autumny reads. These are in no particular order of my enjoyment.

The Witches of Willow Cove by Josh Roberts

Let’s ease into the list with a fun, witchy Middle Grade. The Witches of Willow Cove follows two friends, Abby and Robby, who on Halloween night sneak out to snoop around an abandoned mental hospital to find out anything they can about Robby’s mom, who went missing, but instead get into some trouble and discover that witches might actually exist and that Abby is one. As you can see, it’s a perfect autumn read and definitely one for people who enjoy Halloween, but not the scary and gory aspects of it.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

On a similar note… City of Ghosts, the first book in Victoria Schwab’s Cassidy Blake Middle Grade series follows Cassidy as she ventures to Europe with her parents, who are TV show hosts and are recording a programme about haunted cities. What they don’t know is that Casssidy can peel the veil between the living and the dead and see ghosts. The first book takes place in Edinbrugh, it’s a really fun and only slightly spooky read and it’s perfect for this season.

Jackaby by William Ritter

To any mystery and paranormal fans… Jackaby is your series. I think it’s the most underrated one in the YA genre. Set in the late 1800s it follows Abigail Rook, who in desperate need of a new job, apprentices with a most unusual detective. It’s a Sherlock Holmesesque series full of paranormal creatures, each book featuring a different mystery, which are all linked together. It’s honestly one of my favourite series ever and I would highly recommend it.

Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan

Repping a local author here (Deirdre is from Galway, which is 107km from where I live) with Perfectly Preventable Deaths. If the cover doesn’t give you autumny and Halloweeny vibes, I don’t know what will… It’s about twins Madeline and Catlin who move to a remote village in Co. Galway where for the last 60 years teenage girls have been mysteriously disappearing. It’s a slow burn kind of a book, spooky, extremely atmospheric and also quite Irish, that took me by surprise. If you like witchy reads with queer rep – pick this up.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I remember when this came out and people had such mixed opinions on it. I feel like the hype died down pretty fast, but I’m here to reignite it. The Hazel Wood is a sort of a dark fairytale and after reading the sequel this year I am obsessed with this series, Alice, Finch and the Hinterland. Everything about it is great and bizarre. I’m not going to tell you what it is about. I feel the less you know, the better. If you haven’t read it yet and trust my opinion even a tiny bit, do yourself a favour and buy this or borrow it and read it.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

This cover gives me the hibbie jibbies. Don’t ask me why… Staying in the YA genre I thought I’d mention The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. It’s a retelling of (yes, you guessed it, well done) Frankenstein and follows the main character (again, you’re a genius) Elizabeth. She’s an orphan taken in by the Frankenstein family to keep company to Victor – a strange and solitary child. It’s a quick read, just short of 300 pages, but it has all the spookiness and disturbingness you would want from a Frankenstein retelling. Big thumbs up from me.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

If you’ve noticed a theme here of witchy, ghosty stories and think, well, hang on… how does Wilder Girls fit into this category? It doesn’t, but I never said it’s Halloween recommendations, it’s just autumn recommendations. And Wilder Girls is really creepy and atmospheric and a horror novel, so it fits. It’s a story about a pandemic breaking out on an island holding a girl’s school. Said pandemic/virus/whatchamacallit causes the girls’ bodies to change. It’s quite gory, so if you can’t stomach it, it’s not a book for you. But if you can – I couldn’t recommend it more.

Bunny by Mona Awad

Another horror on the list. This one I won’t tell you anything about. For one, it’s really hard to explain and also it just works better when you know nothing at all and have no clue what to expect. Bunny is an absolute mindfuck of a book and it’s definitely not for everyone. I found it interesting, confusing and disturbing all at once and it was a great ol time.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Speaking of disturbing… this book! I’d say after the TV show, most of you know what the book is about. I read it back in 2016 and at the time I was new to the thriller genre and it was the scariest thing I’ve read. The most disturbing part is the narration style, which is told in the second person. You follows Joe, who works at a bookshop where he meets Beck, looks her up on social media and starts stalking… I know it’s everyone’s biggest fear – going to such a safe place like a bookstore and having that happen… We’re all on the same page, I know. Anyway, I thought the book was better than the show and worthy of appearing on this list.

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Last, but not least, and funnily enough also with big stalker vibes we have I See You by Clare Mackintosh. I didn’t realise the themes were so similar when I was making this list – I swear. It’s a really smart and realistic thriller, following a woman who spots her own picture in a newspaper. It’s small and grainy and her family tries to convince her it’s not even her picture, just someone who looks like her. She’s sure, though, and determined to find out who put it up and why, but she doesn’t have much to go by. If you’re a fan of twisty, suspenseful thrillers that will keep you on the edge of your seat, I See You is for you.

That concludes my recommendations post. I hope I included books for all tastes. Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Thanks for reading, I’ll chat soon!

Finally Fall 2020 – Book Tag

Hi lovelies! I felt like doing a book tag and thought it would be interesting to revisit a tag I’ve done last year, since I’ve read nearly 100 books since then (94 to be exact). Also, there’s nothing I love more than autumn and the cosy and spooky season. If you want to check out my answers from last yea head here. Let’s get into it!

QUESTION 1 – In fall, the air is crisp and clear: Name a book with a vivid setting.

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle

The Storm Keeper’s Island is a MG magical story set in Ireland. Honestly, even though Arranmore is not a place I have visited, the setting was so familiar and it made for a very cosy read. I am not Irish by birth, I moved here at 15, but by now I have lived here for close to half my life and I consider it home. Reading this book gave me a very homey and safe feeling. If you like MG, definitely pick this one up, it’s fantastic!

QUESTION 2 – Nature is beautiful… but also dying: Name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss of grief.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This novel by Elizabeth Acevedo deals with exactly that – grief and loss. It’s told in verse, and the way it’s written is absolutely stunning! It’s a contemporary about two sisters who don’t know about each others existence and are brought together by a tragedy when their father dies in a plane crash. Not only do they have to deal with the loss of their father – they also need to get past the betrayal of their father’s lies, and accepting each other as family. I loved every second of it.

QUESTION 3 – Fall is back to school season: Share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

Again, second year in a row – I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t read non-fiction, although I think I should. Maybe next year I’ll have an actual answer.

QUESTION 4 – In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: Name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be part of.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I’m rereading Anne of Green Gables right now… so that is my answers. Living in Avonlea, with Anne, Marilla and Matthew would be great, I think. They’re such an unlikely family but they really care about each other. I love everything about this series, I think I even wouldn’t mind Rachel Lynde nosing around.

QUESTION 5 – The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: Show us a pile of fall coloured spines!

This is an old photo. But they are very much fall coloured. I would appreciate if you checked out my Instagram account if you’re so inclined. (shameless promo)

QUESTION 6 – Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: Share a book wherein someone is telling a story.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

So… This one is told in fist person, so that counts, right? A person telling THEIR OWN story? I think it counts anyway. The Black Flamingo is another book on this list told in verse and it is everything. Honestly, it’s probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s a coming of age story that deals with identity, sexuality and the reality of being Black in the UK. I loved it and I think it’s a must read.

QUESTION 7 – The nights are getting darker: Share a dark, creepy read.

IT by Stephen King

Okay, this might seem a TYPICAL answer to many of you, but the truth is I only read it (IT) late last year and it was so fucking good, I don’t know why I slept on it for so long. Honestly, I haven’t read any other Stephen King (other than like 2 short stories) so it’s not a typical answer to me. This one was super creepy in a good way. I did skip the infamous scene, though, not to ruin the book for myself. If you know, you know.

QUESTION 8 – The days are getting colder: Name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Okay… this one is over 300 pages long so it’s not necessarily THAT short. But it’s such a great and cosy story, and a fast read too, and I’m sure it would definitely warm up someone’s day. It’s a story full of adventure and pirates and is everything you could possibly want from a MG. It gave me such a nostalgic feeling! I could not praise it enough.

QUESTION 9 – Fall returns every year: Name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Last year my answer to this was Anne of Green Gables. I am reading it now, so I guess I have accomplished that. I’ve been wanting to pick up The Secret Garden again. I’ve only read it once, as a kid, and in Polish, so I would love to revisit this story and see if it holds up right now.

QUESTION 10 – Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: Share your favourite cozy reading “accessories”!

The answer still stands – my bed. I do most of my reading in bed, no matter the season, but especially in autumn, I love being under the quilt with a hot water bottle and reading for hours.

And that is it. I’d love to know if you have done this tag – let me know in the comments below. I think I’ll make this a yearly thing – I quite enjoyed revisiting it and seeing my old answers. I’ll chat to you soon. Thanks for reading!

Fable by Adrienne Young – A Review

Hi there! I am so behind on reviews, you wouldn’t believe! But hopefully that means more content. Today I have a review for Fable by Adrienne Young, as you can guess from the title. Let’s get into it.

Fable by Adrienne Young
  • Publication date: September 1st 2020
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Genre: Fantasy

As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have read from Adrienne Young before. I really loved Sky in the Deep, when I read it back in 2018. So, obviously, when I got my hands on an early copy of Fable I was delighted. I’m not sure what I expected from it, but whatever I got was not it.

The premise of Fable had me hooked. It’s pitched as a pirate story about a girl who needs to get off an island full of thieves and criminals, on which she was left by her father. All checks out. Except it’s not much of a pirate story. It’s set on a ship, yes, but it’s not your conventional pirate story.

I liked Fable as a main character at the start. That’s usually a good sign, if I like a character at the start, I usually end up loving them by the end of the book. Or at least still liking them. Fable became very bland very fast. Literally everyone else had more personality than her and I definitely cared about the side characters more than her. I didn’t dislike her by the end of the book by any means, I just didn’t think she was particularly interesting. The side characters were great, though, and I do have a bit of a soft spot for West, I’m not going to lie.

Adrienne Young’s writing is beautiful. I had no qualms with the language or narration style. I think she writes beautifully and it was one of the reasons why I continued reading the book even though I could not get into it at all at the beginning.

Which brings me to the biggest downfall of this book, in my opinion. The pacing. The book didn’t get interesting to me until the 50% mark. If not the fact I’ve gotten an arc of this book and it was on my list of most anticipated releases of 2020, I might’ve DNFed it. The first half dragged. Not much happened, or at least I felt like nothing was happening… and then BAM. Everything started happening all at once. I enjoyed the second half of the book much MUCH more, but considering how slow the first half was, it didn’t blow me away. I wish the pacing was a little bit more even.

Overall, while I quite enjoyed the book come the last page, I am on the fence on how I actually feel about it. It lands somewhere around 3.5 stars for me and I might be picking up the sequel once it’s out early next year.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Like I said – I’m behind on reviews so you can already purchase a copy of Fable if the book sounds interesting to you. Thank you for reading and as always I will talk to you soon!

August Wrap Up

Hi! I am finally back after an unintentional hiatus! My last post was the last month’s wrap up… I have not even been around to read your blogs and for that I sincerely apologise.

I moved houses! I spent most of August packing, cleaning, moving then unpacking and cleaning, and slowly but surely covering my whole body in bruises. Now that it’s done, though, I am hopefully back to blogging semi regularly and reading more. Let’s get into my stats and you’ll know what I mean.

  • Number of books read: 7
  • Number of pages read: 2815
  • Average star rating: 3.8
  • TBR at the end of July: 48
  • Books added: 2
  • Books read: 4
  • Current TBR: 46 (not quite, as I already bought 2 books this month, but shhhh…)

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

I think this book explores some great topics and is an important read – especially right now. It opened my eyes to a time in American history I didn’t know about. I liked the characters and the storyline, but the narration style and the writing weren’t my favourite. There was just something about it that made the read quite slow. Or maybe it was my reading slump…?

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Night Country by Melissa Albert

The Night Country was one of my most anticipated books of this year and it didn’t disappoint. I listened to it on audio, because with the move happening, it was quite difficult to find time to physically read (you’ll see that all over this wrap up). The Night Country was everything I wanted from a follow up and conclusion to The Hazel Wood. It was deliciously weird and spooky and I loved every second of it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo is the only physical book I got to this month. It was a beautiful and quick read. I don’t usually read books written in verse (poetry is a hit or miss for me, and so books written in verse didn’t always hold any appeal to me), so I didn’t know what to expect, but honestly after reading this one I want to pick up more of them. I loved everything about this book, from the first page to last. I will definitely read more from Dean Atta in the future.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Twisted Fates by Danielle Rollins

I am low key obsessed with this series. The first book really took me by surprise (whoever marketed it did it wrong and that is the only reason why EVERYONE and their mother isn’t talking about this book – and why I only picked it up by accident) and the sequel killed me. Dorothy is definitely one of my favourite heroines ever. I am in awe of the story arc and I need more. (P.S. I also listened to this on audio).

Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Toll by Neal Schusterman

I was searching for books on my physical TBR that were available on audio from my library and I finally finished the Scythe series! As always, Neal Schusterman didn’t disappoint. I didn’t quite enjoy this one as the previous two – it lacked something I can’t quite put my finger on – but it was overall a very smart, well written and great book. I’d definitely recommend this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

No one is more devastated that I didn’t enjoy this book more than me. I was so hyped to read it and got it out of my library on audio (of course) and ended up very disappointed. The premise was interesting and the dual timeline of the narration would’ve worked if everything else wasn’t so cliched and predictable. I didn’t like the characters and couldn’t relate to them. I did everything in power to invest myself in the story but just couldn’t. I’m sure the book will work for some – sadly, it just didn’t work for me.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

Lastly, also from my library and on audio, and also a disappointment – Sawkill Girls. I’ve seen a lot of comparison between this book and Wilder Girls – from the obvious similar title, through creepy vibes, island setting and queer girls – I thought it was yet another book that was written for me specifically (jokes). I absolutely loved Wilder Girls but Sawkill Girls didn’t live up to my expectations. The queerness seemed forced, I didn’t much care for the story or the characters and it wasn’t spooky at all, even though it tried hard to be. If you were to only pick up one – go for Wilder Girls.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

And that is all for today. As you can see, if not the audiobooks I wouldn’t have read much at all this month. Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Thanks for reading! I’ll talk to you soon.

July Wrap Up

Hi! Long time, no see. I feel like I say it in every single post and it feels stale – but it’s been a hot minute. I contemplated not even posting a wrap up, but I changed my mind in the end. July was a slumpish month – I said the same thing about June, I know – but I still managed to read some books, so it clearly wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be.

Here are the stats.

  • Number of books read: 6
  • Number of pages read: 2024
  • Average star rating: 4.3
  • DNFs: 1
  • TBR at the start of July: 57
  • Books added: 1
  • Books read: 3
  • Current TBR: 48 (I’ve been unhauling like crazy)

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

When You Were Everything is a book I started in June but didn’t finish in time to include it in that wrap up. I have mixed feelings about it. I got invested in the story, I cared for what was happening to the characters and thought the plot itself was fresh. But what didn’t sit right with me was the overall message of the book, or at least what I took out of it – especially considering the ending. The heartbreak of losing a friend was overshadowed by a narrative that suggested girls will be bitches, especially the popular ones, and that’s it. The ending lacked resolution, and if I needed closure after reading what happened to those two girls, they definitely needed it more.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

You know when you read a book and there are things in it that irk you, or maybe you don’t agree with the decision the author makes, or… something? There’s just something that makes the book slightly imperfect. And yet you cannot rate it any lower than 5 stars. That’s me with this book. I don’t know if it makes any sense at all, but that’s just how I feel about it. Footnotes and sex scenes existed in this series since book one and I hated both, and the last book is also filled with them (and Mr. Kristoff pokes fun at people complaining about both in the damn book) and yet I can’t say they ruined the overall experience for me. Darkdawn was smart and heartbreaking and a perfect ending to a series that ended up adoring. That’s all I have to say.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

The Write Reads hosted a tour for this one and so I have a full review (well… maybe not a full one, but a review nonetheless) right here if you wanna know my thoughts.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

I also took part in a tour for this beauty and reviewed it here. Spoiler alert: I loved it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
With The Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

This was my second book by Acevedo and I can safely say that I adore her writing. With The Fire On High was such a sweet and warm book. It’s been a while since I read a contemporary novel that gave me a warm and cosy feeling, as I usually pick up the hard hitting, heavy ones. Don’t get me wrong, there are many serious themes in this book, but it’s mostly uplifting, which I enjoyed a lot. And like everyone else already mentioned in their reviews – it made me so hungry.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Lastly, I finished The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, but I still very much enjoyed it. It’s a blend of sci-fi and other genres, so if you’re new to it and are not sure whether sci-fi is your thing, I think it’s an easy one to pick up and read, as it has some mystery/thriller elements. It wasn’t quite a 5 star read for me but I enjoyed the different formats and the discussion on ethics the book starts.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

And that is all for today. How did your July go? Let me know your favourite read of the last month!

Thanks for reading!

Nope Trope – Book Tag

Hi! Third post in one week? Am I feeling okay? My first blogaversary is fast approaching and I feel inspired to post more, so I’m taking advantage of it. I thought it’d be fun do to a little tag, so I went looking for interesting ones and came across the Nope Trope Tag by Zoe’s All Booked (this link will take you to the tag video) and although I was not tagged, I decided to do it.

Eavesdropping w/ miscommunication – Name a book you heard great things about and expected to love but ended up hating.

Circe by Madeline Miller

While watching Zoe’s video this was LITERALLY the first book that came to my mind. We all know how loved this book is by every single person, I don’t have to explain the hype. I love Greek myth and expected to join the hype-train and rave about it, but… have we read the same book? It’s so short, yet it took me forever to get through, because it was dry and soooo boring. I have a review of it here, if you’re interested in my full thoughts but yeah… a total disappointment.

Love Triangles – Name a series where you can’t pick your favourite book

This series is absolutely fantastic and I can’t pick a favourite – it’s like picking a favourite child! I love Schwab’s writing, the world building in this is fantastic and I would die for Kell and Lila. It’s just too good.

Not Like Other Girls/Didn’t Know I’m Beautiful – Name a book that has a pretty cover but was boring as all hell.

Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

Circe could also fit this prompt, but I decided to go with Seven Endless Forests, because although the cover is stunning, the inside of the book just didn’t do anything for me. I found it boring, and have I not gotten an arc of this and cared about my NetGalley feedback percentage I would’ve DNFed it. It gave me Naomi Novik vibes, and those fit this prompt, too, because all her book cover designs are stunning yet I have not been able to get through any of them (and not for the lack of trying).

All-Consuming Love – Name a book that gave you a book hangover.

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

I don’t see enough people talking about this series and it frustrates me because it’s SO FUCKING GOOD! King of Fools killed me, I cried a lot and after I finished it, I could not stop thinking about it. For a long time. So, please just read it – book 3 comes out soon and it’s so worth it. Do it!

Douchebag Boyfriend – Name a book that took you a while to get into, but you ended up loving.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

This book confused me for sooo long. Ya girl’s a bit dumb (if you’ve read the book you know what I mean), but once I got IT I was mind-blown. This book is actually genius. There’s nothing more to say about it. N.K. Jemisin is GOOD.

Tell us your favourite or least favourite trope.

I’ve written blog posts on those, so I’ll just link them here: favourite and least favourite.

That is all, folks! If you like this tag and think it’d be fun to do – you are hereby tagged. Thanks so much for reading. Chat soon!

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar – A Review

Hi! I’m back with yet another exciting review – you KNOW how much I love The Write Reads tours and the whole gang. This week we’re gushing over The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar, and today is my stop. Can you tell I really loved this book?

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar
  • Publication date: June 16th 2020
  • Published: Puffin
  • Genre: Fantasy

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 realize 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.

First of all – thank you to Dave for organising this tour and Puffin for providing me with a physical copy!

I don’t know where to begin gushing about this book, so I think I’ll start with the cover, because oh my goodness, she’s STUNNING. The little window on the paperback? chef’s kiss I know that is absolutely not up to the author, but whoever did design the book deserves a raise.

I was hooked on this book before I’ve seen the cover, though. A middle grade story full of magic, a literal Ship of Shadows and an all female pirate crew? What could possibly sound more amazing? My expectations were very high and… all of them were met.

Aleja, the protagonist, always wanted to travel the world but she was told girls couldn’t be explorers, so she lived out her dreams through reading. Born and raised in Spain, she taught herself how to read and speak English, as well as French and Arabic. And when she got tangled up in a bad business and accused of stealing, she found her refuge on… a pirate ship.
I loved Aleja as a main character. She was smart, bold and adventurous, a perfect protagonist to follow. But what stole my heart was the crew of the ship. Every single one of those ladies were badass, talented and amazing in their own way. I loved that they were unapologetically themselves and challenged all of the gender stereotypes – it’s nice seeing that in MG books, as I think it’s the influence kids need now more so than ever. If I had to pick a favourite character it would definitely be Frances. We could bond over cake.

The book was so incredibly addictive! I read most of it in one sitting. I’m a sucker for adventure stories that involve quests, especially MG ones as they’re usually the most magical. Reading The Ship of Shadows gave me a feeling of nostalgia and I wish it was a book I read as a kid, because I think it’s one of those books (like The Storm Keeper’s Island) it would be great growing up with. The writing was fantastic, the right amount of descriptive without slowing down the plot. I think the indication of great writing is the fact that I can clearly see what happened in the book as if I watched it as a movie, when I think back on it.

Goodreads does not indicate whether this will be a series although the way the story ended leaves lots of room for expanding. I do hope it becomes a series as I’d love to follow Aleja and the crew on more adventures, visit more places, fight more monsters and learn more about the shadows (which are THE COOLEST and so intriguing).

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you so much for reading! As always, follow the hashtags to read more reviews from so many awesome bloggers taking part in this tour.

I’ll speak to you soon!

Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall – A Review

Hi! It’s time for another The Write Reads tour review. Dave has been spoiling us with great books lately and this one was no different. Let’s just get into it.

Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall
  • Publication date: June 18th 2019
  • Publisher: Capital Station Books
  • Genre: Fantasy

Magic. Sailing. A murderer among heroes.

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

I think the whole gang reached a consensus with this book – we all seemed to really enjoy it and it’s a rare sight. I haven’t heard of this series until Dave announced the tour and as a fantasy reader, I’m surprised why more people don’t talk about it, because it ticks all the boxes.

It took me no time to get into the story. Knightmare Arcanist doesn’t waste any time to introduce you to the world and plot – it throws you right in. Volke is hell bent on becoming an arcanist and making a name for himself. It’s not easy growing up on an island where your heritage is everything, and coming from a family of thieves and murderers. Being apprenticed by the gravedigger he’s not allowed to compete in order to bond with a phoenix, but he finds a way to bond with a mythical creature and becoming an arcanist anyway.

I really liked Volke as a main character. He was an interesting protagonist and narrator, and I really liked his determination. Actually, thinking about it, I didn’t hate any of the characters. Granted, I didn’t think all of them were fleshed out to the point I’d like them to be, but they were fun to follow, especially for the purpose of seeing different mythical creatures and the magic they could perform with them.

I think Knightmare Arcanist fits the younger end of YA and in many of those cases the author struggles to find the tone for the story, or takes heavy inspiration from other books. Stovall managed to make this one stand out in a line up. I found the story to be fast paced and engaging and the world rich and developed, without info dumpy paragraphs. It was a fresh story and it’s what made it so enjoyable for me. It’s not the shortest, yet if not this dreadful reading slump, I’d see myself reading it all in one sitting and that says something.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed thoroughly was Stovall’s writing. She managed to paint the world clearly with her words without using language that’s too flowery – seeing as the story is told from Volke’s point of view. I love a healthy balance between descriptive writing full of imagery and Tolkien’s 3 page long descriptions of grass, and I think Stovall managed it very well.

I am looking forward to continuing with the series as it pleasantly surprised me. If you like magical fantasies and mythical creatures, you should definitely give it a go.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you all for reading. Make sure to check out the hashtags and follow @ TheWriteReads on Twitter to find all the other fantastic reviewers taking part in this tour. I’ll talk to you all soon!

Most Anticipated Releases of the Third Quarter of 2020

Hi! This time I didn’t like when I said I’ll speak to you soon. July means we’re entering the third quarter of the year, which in turn means it’s time for my quarterly new releases post. These are my most anticipated releases for the months of July, August and September (for UK paperbacks mostly, which are my preferred editions).

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Release date: July 7th

Burn Our Bodies Down is another queer mystery/thriller/horror from Rory Power. I really loved Wilder Girls, so I’m looking forward to picking this one up. It follows Margot, a girl who was raised by her mother alone, who decides to look for her family and ends up in her mother’s hometown, where she realises her mother left for a reason. What reason? No clue, but it sounds mysterious and a bit spooky and I’m all here for it.

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Release date: July 16th

This beauty is a Middle Grade story about pirates, if you couldn’t tell by the cover. As a sidenote, can anyone explain to me how MG books are consistently so stunning? I don’t know exactly what the book is about other than it has female pirates, but honestly that alone is good enough for me. I will be reading it and reviewing it for you very soon, because I’m on a tour for it!

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reeds

Release date: August 4th

Guess who got approved for an e-arc of this? I couldn’t be happier. It’s a coming of age story set during the Rodney King Riots in 1992 Los Angeles. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about that part of Black American history, but I’m looking forward to reading a book set during it and educating myself on the subject, too, and most importantly support a debut author.

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

Release date: August 5th

So… I included this in my last most anticipated releases post, but I think it got pushed back? All I know I can’t get it until August and it sucks because I really want to read it now. It’s a YA thriller, it has a podcast element (which I loved in Sadie, so I’m intrigued) and murder mystery element and honestly just sounds fantastic.

Fable by Adrienne Young

Release date: September 1st

I read Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young and ever since, I know I want to read everything by her (don’t ask why I haven’t picked up her second book yet and don’t shame me further, please). Fable is a story about a girl trying to escape a dangerous island on which her father left her and taking her rightful place on her father’s crew. It sounds like a great YA fantasy, and the cover is to die for.

The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James

Release date: September 3rd

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know much about it other than it’s a paranormal fantasy where all of the characters are ghosts with different powers? Doesn’t that sound fanfuckingtastic? It has (supposedly) the found family trope, which is one of my FAVOURITES! I’m pumped.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Release date: September 15th

Another YA fantasy that sounds amazing! From what I know of it it’s a modern King Arthur retelling of sorts with heaps and heaps of representation, and… demons. The synopsis says it’s in the vein of City of Bones (and though I recognise it might not be a compliment for many and TMI is not a masterpiece of any sorts, I kind of understand what they mean, by marketing it as such), which lets me believe it’ll be addictive af. Also, the cover… what a stunning book!

That is all for this post. I’m sure there are many more terrific books being released in the next 3 months, so if you feel like sharing some of your most anticipated releases in the comments below, please do – my TBR might not need more books, but I certainly do.

Thanks for reading!

June Wrap Up

Hi! June was an absolute disaster of a month and I’m glad it’s over. I have barely blogged, read very little compared to the last couple of months and I even neglected Instagram on which I usually post every day. My anxiety got the better of me this month and I’m hoping it will settle soon and I’ll find it in me to be more productive.

I’m kind of afraid of this portion of the post, because… I might’ve bought a good few books. But here are the stats anyway.

  • Number of books read: 7
  • Number of pages read: 2325
  • Average star rating: 3.5
  • DNFs: 0
  • TBR at the start of June: 52
  • Books added: 7
  • Books read: 2
  • Current TBR: 57
The Ghosts of Sherwood by Carrie Vaughn

The Ghosts of Sherwood is a novella about Robin Hood’s kids. I got an e-arc of it and it was a fast read, but I found it lacking. I wanted more depth and development, but because of the short format, I didn’t really get it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This one is marketed as a thriller, but I don’t think it fits in that genre. I’m not sure what I would actually shelve it as, because “weird” is not a genre, but that’s what I found it – in the best way possible. It is a one of a kind book, told in vignettes, about an older sister who finds herself helping her younger sibling bury her now ex-boyfriends. It explores the sisterly bond really well and it’s an overall great read, though definitely not for everyone.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
19 Love Songs by David Levithan

Recently I’ve been more and more disappointed with Levithan’s books. I used to love him as a teen, but either the magic wore off or he’s lost his touch. 19 Love Songs is a collection of short stories about different kinds of love, and although I didn’t dislike it, not a single story (maybe apart from the last poem) stood out to me. I found them all pretty samey and so quite disappointing.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

An absolute gem of a book! I loved everything about it, from the characters, to the setting and the raps included in it. It’s a story about 3 Black teens in Brooklyn whose friend (and brother) was murdered. Said friend was a rapper, but he was killed before he made it, so they decide to make him famous posthumously. It has grief and friendship and 90s Brooklyn and oldschool hip hop and talks about important subjects.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

I have a review for this one, so I won’t be blabbing about it much. It was enjoyable, sweet and a fast, entertaining read. Loved the queer rep, talks of mental health and the social media aspect. Very promising, own-voices debut!

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Color Outside the Lines by Various Authors

I’m starting to feel I have some subconscious gripe with short stories. Although I did not dislike it by any means, nothing really stuck with me. There were a few stories that I did not care about, and a lot of cute but not very memorable ones. I liked the theme of this anthology – it’s about interracial couples, so that’s a plus. Maybe the format just really isn’t for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron

Kingdom of Souls honestly deserves its own full review and I’ll write one soon. I was very impressed with this YA fantasy, found it unique and so so so rich! But I’ll gush about it in a separate post.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

And that is it!

What is your favourite read of this month?

Thank you for reading. I will talk to you all soon.