Monsters, Ghosts and Witches. Oh My!

Hello bookish fiends!

I wanted to dedicate a post to talking about all my favourite Halloween-y type creatures and characters in books so here are some of my faves!

Ghostly Echoes

Vampire

By far my favourite vampire so far in books has to be Pavel from Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter. He’s an old school vampire who is actually terrifying to the point where I found myself fearing for the main character’s life. I’m really not fond of the whole sexy vampire trend so it was very refreshing to see such a great, classic representation of what I feel a vampire should be – scary and monstrous!

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Faerie 

I adore the faerie lore found in the Shadowhunter novels, particularly in The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare. The faerie world is so vivid in my mind – it’s so well constructed. I really like how it mixes classical elements of faerie folk tales with Clare’s own twist of her imagined faerie world. I also like the different kinds of faeries – the Wild Hunt, the Seelie, the Unseelie. And I like how we get to explore all the different sides to faeries – mischievous, straightforward and cruel. I think my favourite thing about the Shadowhunter faeries is that it feels like there is so much more to know about them and their lore. They’re definitely one of the most intriguing elements for me in the series.

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Witch

For all the things I find annoying about Sarah J. Maas, she is very good at developing worlds, especially Manon Blackbeaks’ coven of witches. One of the best things about witches in fiction is getting to read about the beautiful female friendships between them. And the Throne of Glass witches have such great, powerful relationships between them. I also really love the history of the Ironteeth witches, how cut-throat they are and how loyal they are to each other. The witches’ politics and law is particularly interesting to me.

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Ghost

My favourite apparitions will always have to be from the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. The Problem, as it is known, features ghosts of varying types. From the easily dealt with shades, to the powerful and destructive poltergeists, to the unpleasant, bloody raw-bones. Also, the most sarcastic talking skull you could ever meet! Each case with each ghost is completely different and they all have their backstories from when they were alive – some just plain disturbing. 

The Gates

Demon

Nurd, Scourge of Five Deities, from The Gates by John Connelly is probably the least terrifying demon you could come across but he is hilarious and made me laugh an awful lot whist reading about him. He also has demon brothers which include Graham, the Demon of Stale Biscuits! This book is a cross between Stroud and Pratchett levels of humour, so you can imagine what Nurd the demon, who gets sucked up by a hoover when he makes his first appearance on Earth, is like!

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Local folklore creature

Shadowmagic by John Lenahan predominantly takes place in Tír na nÓg, Land of the Young, which features a multitude of creatures from stories from around where I was brought up. Celtish legendary creatures such as brownies, banshees and púcas exist in this storyworld. Celtish mythology and legends is one of my absolute favourite things to read about and I will probably pick up any book containing these kinds of folklore creatures!
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The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag | 2017

Hello bookish friends!

I loved doing this tag last year, so we’re doing it again this year too! Cause I’m original like that.

This tag was created by Read Like Wild Fire and Ely Jayne.

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1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017

This is so hard. I’ve read some right good books. But I think Lord of Shadows has to win here. This book was a rollercoaster of joy and pain. But mostly pain in those last few chapters. The two year wait will be agony. This is definitely my favourite Shadowhunter book so far. It’s the most sophisticated in terms of how the story is constructed and how all the threads get woven together. If also felt like the darkest Shadowhunter book so far with certain aspects of the plot reflecting our real world. It was very enjoyable seeing these issues from a Shadowhunter perspective.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2016

Okay, I’m going to cheat and pick two books for this one. Ghostly Echoes was my first read of the year and what a way to start! This is one of my favourite series. I love these characters and this world so much. I’m so sad there’s only one book left. This is is my favourite of the series so far. It felt more dangerous and intense and I was left constantly on the edge. But it still managed to keep its charm and made me laugh out loud on many occasions. I am so ready for the last book. But also terrified.

I’m picking The Whispering Skull for this one, too. Which was actually the second book I read this year! January was by far the best reading month I’ve had so far. Similar to Ghostly Echoes, the plot of this instalment kept me on edge. Particularly the last 50 pages – I couldn’t read them quick enough!

I think usually when I’m reading, I can predict the fates of characters. But with these two books, I was genuinely scared they wouldn’t all make it. And the plots in general felt new and kept me interested throughout. Definitely pick them up if you haven’t already. Well worth the read.Truth or Dare

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

I’ve read all of my most anticipated new releases so far this year. There haven’t actually been that many. The rest of the books already out, I am excited for. But I’m not like: OMG OMG OMG. Which is sad. But I am interested in reading Truth or Dare. I’ve read all Non’s other works and, in particular, adored Unboxed. But I don’t need it ASAP and will probably end up reading it sometime next year instead.

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4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE. I am so incredibly excited for this one!!! I hate that I have to wait until August for it to be released in the UK when everyone else is already reading it. As soon as I found out about this books’ existence, I knew I had to read it. It gives me My Lady Jane humour vibes, which I also loved. But also I feel like this book will be super gay and I am so so here for it.

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5. Biggest disappointment

Sadly, this will have to be The Upside of Unrequited. I don’t really have much to say about this book as it was just a very meh kind of read for me. I struggled to connect to the characters, or care about the plot (because the plot was practically non-existent!). But, this book does have some great LGBTQIAP+ rep which I appreciated. And a cute-ish romance. But, I think the fact that I gave 5 stars to Becky’s debut is what set me up for the disappointment. Clearly, I had my hopes set too high.

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6. Biggest surprise

My biggest surprise so far this year had to be Scarlet. I had read Cinder about a year and a half before I decided to pick up the sequel and liked it, but was disappointed that I didn’t love it like everybody else seemed to at the time. So for some reason I picked Scarlet up in February and fell completely in love with it. So much so that I’ve gone on to read Cress and Winter soon after and tore through all those pages (and there were a bloody lot of them) in record time! I liked how full the world felt – I could easily imagine myself living in that world. And it’s such an interesting world! Very clever, very well thought-out. And of course I adored the characters and the romances. Especially Scarlet and Wolf who are one of my new favourite couples. I’m so glad I picked this series back up this year.

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7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

It’s quite rare that I read a YA contemporary and enjoy it as much as I did with Sara Barnard’s A Quiet Kind of Thunder. I’ve only read the one book by her, but I really liked the way she constructed this story. It had the perfect balance of working through tough issues, romance, friendship and basically had everything I wanted from a cute YA contemporary. I also really liked the flow of the writing and the deep insights we got into the MC – her voice felt very distinctive.

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8. Newest fictional crush

Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer! I mean, he’s a dreamer, for one. He’s a LIBRARIAN so we’d spend all our days bonding over our love of words and stories and libraries. And he’s just very sweet and endearing and polite and charming. Fictional crushes are very rare for me because there aren’t very many leading men or love interests like this – that aren’t the typical brooding ‘bad boy’ that people seem to like. But Lazlo’s a sweetheart so I’ll add him to the very short list!

Also, shout out to my new fave OTP: Ty and Kit! I can’t put into words how much I love these guys. Their relationship feels so authentic and, as agonising as it is, I especially love how slow burn it is. Their interactions were my favourite aspect of Lord of Shadows and I really really really need more of them.

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9. Newest favourite character

I know I’m sounding like a wee bit of a broken record at this point BUT this will have to be Kit from Lord of Shadows (it was a great book okay – I’m Shadowhunter trash). Kit was freaking hilarious. I couldn’t get over some of the things he came out with. Especially his commentary about stupid, hot Shadowhunters! Love him. He’s precious.

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10. Book that made you cry

I haven’t actually cried this year yet! Progress! But, weirdly, I did feel quite a bit teary at the end of Half Blood Prince. Which is strange because it’s never really upset me before but hey, I don’t control my emotions!

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11. Book that made you happy

My Lady Jane is pure sunshine. It made me so happy whilst reading it. It’s such a fun book and I was constantly laughing my head off. I really hope this writing trio get together again for something cause I just bloody loved this book.

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12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Okay so obviously this has to be Strange the Dreamer. I mean, HAVE YOU SEEN IT!?!? It. Is. A. Revelation. And not only is it bloody beautiful on the outside but wow is the inside just as beautiful. I cannot wait to see what the sequel looks like. Imagining them both together on my shelf makes me feel complete.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I would love to get to more of Rick Riordan’s books. I’m quite late to this fandom but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far. I’m close to finishing the Percy Jackson series and I’m very intrigued to continue reading on with the Heroes of Olympus series.

14. Favourite Book Community Member (Blogger, Booktuber and Bookstagrammer)

Oooh, so many to choose from that I love! I think someone I’ve been appreciating alot recently is Lala from Books and Lala. I’ve been watching her Closet Unhaul vidoes and they’re actually the greatest. She’s really articulate and a joy to watch. If you haven’t watched her yet, please do!

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February TBR | 2017

I didn’t manage to read all the books I planned to get to in January and there’s a couple of new releases I’d like to read this month too so quite a few to be getting on with!

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Depending on when Waterstones decides to stock The Scarecrow Queen (officially released March 2nd – but Waterstones stocked its predecessor a couple of weeks early last year!!!), I will hopefully be reading it this month. The very second it’s in stores, I will be reading it. This is easily my most anticipated read of the year. And I’m scared of what will happen. Mostly because Mel writes the type of plot twists that drain your soul. And I don’t think I’m over-exaggerating here.

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I plan on buying The Scarecrow Queen with another new release that comes out at a similar-ish time – The Traitor’s Throne. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Rebel of the Sands last year – it was quick, action-packed and most of all, it was just plain fun. So I’m hoping we get more of that with the sequel plus some killer character development.

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I’d also like to read Holding Up the Universe. I’ve heard pretty mixed things about this one, with quite a few people seeing it as problematic in relation to the MCs so I’d quite like to make my own mind up about this one. I loved All the Bright Places so I am quite looking forward to this one. Could be another #problematicfave

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I’m also going to continue on reading The Chronicles of Narnia with The Horse and His Boy. I really enjoyed the first instalment of the series but wasn’t so impressed with the next one (probably because I’ve seen the film at least a thousand times) so I’m interested to see how I find this one. We shall see.

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I plan to finish The Winner’s trilogy this month too with The Winner’s Kiss. I really like this series – it’s not my favourite but I much preferred the sequel so I’m hoping this trilogy ends on an even higher note.

elantris

I started reading Elantris last month but didn’t quite manage to finish it so I’ll be continuing on with Sanderson’s debut. It’s definitely not my favourite one by him but I am still enjoying it. It’s cool to see how readers were first introduced to the Cosmere.

northern-lights

And finally, I’m really hoping to get to Northern Lights this month. It’s been on my radar for ages and I need to finally commit to reading this trilogy. It sounds exactly like something I’ll love so I’m looking forward to delving into this world.


I’m really hoping I can read all these but February is such a short month so I won’t hold my breath! What are you guys planning on reading this month?

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Favourite Books of 2016

I was planning on only allowing myself to pick one book per author but 2016 was the year I fell completely in love with Brandon Sanderson and Cassandra Clare so I cheated!

It’s taken me a while to narrow all my favourite books of last year down to just 10… which is why I didn’t! Here’s a list of 17 of my favourite reads of 2016. And in no particular order…

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1. The Sleeping Prince – Melinda Salisbury

Okay, so I do realise I just said in no particular order but, this was definitely my favourite book of last year *swoons* It’s a majestic book written by a majestic lady who I happen to adore very much indeed. Everything I could possibly ever want in a fantasy is right here, in this book. It’s perfect. Please read it. The last book in the trilogy comes out very, very soon. Eek.

Crooked Kingdom

2. Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Ah the Six of Crows duology, how I love you so. Again, literally everything I could ever want in a fantasy. Plus, this instalment focused on my two faves: Wylan and Jesper 😍 which was just fine by me!

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3. Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

This was probably the biggest surprise of the year for me. I fell completely head over heels in love with it. It was fun, cute, hilarious and just plain adorable. Exactly what I needed at the time and a book I’ll always go back to if I need a quick pick-me-up!

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4. The Hero of Ages – Brandon Sanderson

This book was well worth all the time and energy I put into reading this trilogy. At the time, The Final Empire was probably the longest book I’d ever read and I was really nervous about getting into this trilogy. But, woah, what an ending! It was so incredibly satisfying. And it also started off my obsession with Sanderson’s Cosmere books which I’ve been making my way through ever since I finished this one.

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5. Clockwork Princess – Cassandra Clare

Ohh what emotions! I loved Clockwork Prince too but this one is on the list purely for that dang epilogue. Basically, the more tears I shed, the more deserving a book is of this end-of-year list. This was the perfect end to the trilogy. I just bloody loved it.

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6. The Bands of Mourning – Brandon Sanderson

I can’t even tell you what state I was in when I read literally the very last paragraph of this book. I have never squealed so violently. I could never tire of reading a Mistborn novel and the Wax and Wayne books just get better and better with each one!

Lady Midnight

7. Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare

Easily the strongest start to a Shadowhunter book yet and I loved how this one focused more on the faerie courts. The characters were spectacular and the Blackthorns have quickly become one of my most-beloved fictional families. If it wasn’t already obvious, I am a huge Cassandra Clare fangirl. And I’ll probably have a book of hers on my favourites list every year until she stops. Which I hope won’t be anytime soon!

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8. Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

I was blown away by the beautiful writing of this book. It was utterly gorgeous. And Nyx is definitely one of my favourite heroines from the last year. She was deeply flawed and realistic and I found her perspective really refreshing. Also, the addition of Greek mythology in this was just 😍

The Shadow Hour

9. The Shadow Hour – Melissa Grey

Oh how I love Echo and her gang of misfits! It’s the type of series whose characters stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. I especially loved how the tone got a little darker in this one and we went further into some of the backstories of the characters. Also, what’s funny is that there are kind of two love triangles going on in this but I don’t even mind it. In fact, I actually love it. And I usually never feel that way about them! It just goes to show how well these characters are written that I can understand all their motives and connect with them so deeply. So sad there’s only one more book left in this series though.

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10. The Screaming Staircase – Jonathan Stroud

I loved this book so much more than I thought I would. I thought I might like it when I picked it up but I didn’t realise just how deeply connected I’d become to the characters and the ghostly world. I’ve recently finished reading the sequel and I already know it’s going to end up on my most favourite reads of 2017! I cannot wait to get to the rest of this series!

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11. The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

It’s quite rare that I find a contemporary that I love this much but The Art of Being Normal definitely sucked me right in. I devoured the entirety of this book in just one day which is pretty much unheard of for me. I was so invested in the lives of the MC’s and their stories were so realistic and heartbreaking yet funny and sweet at the same time. The friendships in this book is what I fell in love with and Williamson is a top-notch writer that I can’t wait to read more from.

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12. Unboxed – Non Pratt

For a 140 page book, this story managed to do quite a lot. Mainly, make me cry my poor little heart out. I’m not sure how I came to be so emotionally invested in these characters but you know you’re reading a pretty powerful book when you feel like you’ve known these wonderfully-imagined characters your whole life. If you’re looking for a contemporary that’s a little out of the ordinary, you should definitely pick this one up!

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13. Rebel Belle – Rachel Hawkins

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this one but here we are. Harper made this book for me. She was such a great character that completely defied all the stereotypes. It does make me a bit sad to say that I won’t be carrying on with this series but I’ve heard quite negative things about the other two in this trilogy and I really don’t want that to ruin my love of this one, so I’m going to give them a miss. But that in no way diminishes my adoration for this one!

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14. Rebel of the Sands – Alwyn Hamilton

I was very pleasantly surprised with this one. It was a heck of a lot of fun to read and it was exactly what I needed at the time. Sometimes, you just need to read something fast-paced, fun and a little bit dangerous which is exactly what I loved most about this book. And the backdrop was so interesting and one that I can’t say I’ve ever read about before this one which made for a distinctly compelling read.

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15. Mistborn: Secret History – Brandon Sanderson

Okay, so, this book happened. I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading. I gasped and squealed so many times. Particularly whilst reading the last few pages and the postscript which alluded to certain other things which I desperately NEED to read about ASAP!! All the stars for this beauty.

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16. Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo

For me, Leigh Bardugo can do very little wrong. What I love most about the Grisha-verse is the world itself and we got to visit even more cool places in this last instalment. Also we were introduced to Harshaw and Oncat who are hands down two of my favourite characters in existence. It was just a deeply satisfying ending and I really hope Bardugo publishes more books in the Grisha-verse in the future.

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17. Beastly Bones – William Ritter

I love this series so much. The books make me feel really at peace for some reason. Like I can relax because I know I won’t be let down. Abigail is pretty much my favourite leading lady in an ongoing series and the romance is probably my favourite ever 😍 I ship Abigail and Charlie so hard! I’ve recently finished reading the next book in the series and it’s the best one yet. Expect to see that on next years’ list too!

So that’s it for my rather long list of favourites from 2016. I was quite lucky to have had such a great year of reading. Here’s hoping 2017 will be just as good! What were some of your favourite reads from last year?

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Most Disappointing Reads of 2016

Thankfully, I didn’t have too many of these *phew* But there are still a few books I wanted to talk about that really rubbed me up the wrong way. Soz not soz if they’re your fave.

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1. Lobsters – Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

This one is definitely my most disliked book of 2016. I felt so uncomfortable reading it. It had some really dodgy/unhealthy views on sex and relationships and it was just a bad story in general. The plot was drama after pointless drama, the characters were completely one-dimensional and indistinct and the pacing was all over the place. I liked that it was set in the UK (which is why I picked it up in the first place) but, apart from that, it really was terrible. I’m usually not one to be so negative about a book but, UGHHH, did this one annoy me. I’m still mad at it today even though I read it last April! I should have DNF’d it. Silly book.

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2. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

So far starters, this book is ableist. Which you probably already knew. But apart from that, it’s just not a good story. It was marketed as this emotional love story and I just don’t get why. It isn’t a romance. There’s literally no romance. And it wasn’t remotely emotional. The ending was so predictable and obvious. Also, I really REALLY hated the theme that love can cure all. It’s an incredibly problematic thing to say to those suffering from mental illnesses, particularly depression (as Will very clearly was). Thinking about it now has just made me mad all over again. Very silly book.

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3. Black City – Elizabeth Richards

I didn’t hate this book but I was definitely very disappointed by it. I was expecting great things but what I got was bland, unlikable, angsty-for-the-sake-of-being-angsty characters, a completely pointless love triangle and a predictable plot. Which is a shame because I really liked the world-building aspect and I felt like this world had a lot of potential. Plus the writing style was quite addictive, too. But I definitely won’t be continuing on with this series. I cannot deal with the main characters and the ‘romance.’ Ew.

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4. The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Ahdieh

Given how much hype this duology gets, I had incredibly high expectations for it. I still enjoyed this book to an extent but wow did it disappoint me and take me forever to get into. I had to keep flipping back to the glossary to actually understand the conversations taking place which kept taking me out of the story. Plus I just didn’t believe the love story. Which is kind of major since the romance is a huge part of it. I don’t get how they fell in ‘love.’ And I really disliked how every man in the MC’s life made decisions for her. Constantly. And she really didn’t seem to mind. That being said I really liked the world-building and the overall plot and I enjoyed it a lot more during the last quarter of the novel. I think I’ll read the next book, but only because it’s a duology and I’m interested enough to see how it all ends. But OH THE DISAPPOINTMENT.

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5. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

Again, I by no means disliked this book. But it’s definitely true that hype can ruin your reading experience. So many people on Goodreads have rated this 5 stars and I just don’t get it. I tried to but… ugh. It was just a very meh read for me. So many things happened that it didn’t feel like a totally cohesive story – just action strung together. I did quite like the last 100 pages though and I want to get to Riordan’s more recent stuff. I’m planning to skim read the rest of this series so I can get to the Heroes of Olympus series which I think I’ll much prefer. But, overall, I was just very bored whilst reading this one. Which makes me sad. I wanted to love it!

Honourable Mention:

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Clockwork Angel – Cassandra Clare

I know I was really disappointed with this book at the time but I adored the rest of the trilogy so it’s difficult to remember why I wasn’t so keen on it. Which is why it’s only an honourable mention! But I think I wasn’t very fond of Will and Tessa and found the story quite predictable at the time. But I loved Will and Tessa by book 2 so this was one of the rare incidents where continuing on with a series I was initially disappointed with actually paid off! Yay!

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That’s pretty much it for my most disappointing reads of 2016. Thankfully there were only 2 that I really, truly disliked and the others I was just quite disappointed in. But I really enjoyed all the other books I read last year so, all in all, a very successful reading year! What were some of your most disappointing reads of last year?

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2017 TBR – Books I NEED to Read!!

We all love a good list, don’t we? Well here’s one of all the books I absolutely MUST get to in 2017. Or else.

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1. Snow Like Ashes – Sara Raash

I read a few chapters of this one nearly a couple of years ago and I remember liking what I read so I really don’t know why I put it down. Silly me.

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2. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

I started Neverwhere for a readathon back in the summer and really enjoyed what I had read but (yes, you guessed it) I just lost interest interest for some reason. I am still excited for this story though and I really want to read some other books from Gaiman too so I need to get this one finished ASAP.

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3. The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

This is probably the book I’m most excited for that’s on this list. And it’s definitely the small font and amount of pages that’s been putting me off. Because this definitely sounds the perfect kind of fantasy for me. I just need to get on with it. Maybe I’ll read it when the next Tome Topple comes around for motivation because clearly I need that!

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4. The Manifesto On How to be Interesting – Holly Bourne

Another one I’ve sort of just gone off reading. That being said, I do really want to get to Bourne’s Spinster Club trilogy which is probably why I haven’t gotten around to this one yet. But I’m not letting myself read the trilogy until I’ve finished this one so that’s a pretty good incentive I think.

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5. I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

I don’t know why I’ve been putting this one off. In fact, it annoys me that I have. I’ve only heard great things about this one but I definitely want to be in the right kind of mood for it. I’ve heard it tugs at various heartstrings so I’ll read it when I’m prepared.

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6. Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson

I’ve been in the middle of this one for nearly two years now so it really needs to get read. I did enjoy myself whilst reading it but it was dragging a bit and it’s a 500-ish page book so I just lost interest in continuing. But I do want to give this one more go. I plan to start from where I left off so I’ve probably forgotten most of what’s happened up to that point but, ah well, I think I’m just going to skim read the rest of this anyway.

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7. Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld

This is probably the oldest book on this list that’s been sitting on my shelves. I bought this just when I started discovering the online book world so it was definitely an on-the-spot purchase. I just need to read at least 50 pages to determine whether or not I should keep it. Hopefully I’ll like it, but it’s really not something I’d usually read. Either way, I’m looking forward to taking it off my TBR shelf.

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8. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

I’ve heard only good things about Ready Player One so I really need to jump on the bandwagon. I think it’s just the tiny print that’s putting me off. I’m sure I’ll enjoy all the pop-culture references and video game aspects though so I am really looking forward to finally getting around to this one.

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9. Proxy – Alex London

I’m not the hugest fan of dystopian anymore (as I was when I bought this) but I have heard really great things. I’m hoping it’ll be an actiony fast-paced read that I can devour in hours.

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10. The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

I really want to start this series considering the 3rd one is coming out so soon. I’ve been put off a little by some reviews that say it’s quite info-dumpy but I am still intrigued. Especially since this is by a young UK author.

That’s all the books I, without a shadow of a doubt, absolutely MUST READ in 2017. Are there any books that have been on your TBR shelves for so long that you’ve decided to create a list to convince you to read them? Do let me know! Also, let me know if you’ve read any of these and loved them to help motivate me. Thanks bookish friends!!

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Most Anticipated Releases | 2017

So many of my favourite series are ending this year 😭 But I am so ridiculously excited to read them, among quite a few others. So, here is my list of all the new releases I’m excited to read in 2017:

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1. Traitor to the ThroneAlwyn Hamilton February 2

I was really pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed Rebel of the Sands last year so I’m really interested to see where the story will go in this sequel. I’m hoping it will be just as fun and fast-paced as the last one.

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2. The Scarecrow QueenMelinda Salisbury March 2

Easily my most anticipated read for the year and it comes out so soon! I’m very nervous for how this trilogy will end, especially seeing as Mel likes to torment us and hurt our hearts with her plot twists. I will be a total mess whilst reading this, so wish me luck!

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3. Strange the DreamerLaini Taylor March 24

This was one of my most anticipated reads of last year so the fact that it’s been pushed back 6 months to the end of March just made me crave this book even more! I adored the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, particularly Laini’s beautiful writing and original ideas so I have very high hopes for this new story.

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4. Alex, ApproximatelyJenn Bennett April 4

Similarly to the next one, I thoroughly enjoyed Night Owls and so am hoping I’ve found another contemporary author I actually like reading.

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5. The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli April 11

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was one of my favourite reads of 2015 and I’m not usually too keen on contemporaries so it takes something quite special for me to enjoy one. So obviously I’m really looking forward to reading another stand-out contemporary.

6. A Court of Wings and RuinSarah J. Maas May 2

I think this will be on a lot of reader’s lists for this year. Even though there’s been so many Maas books published, there’s never been a finale so I’m very intrigued to see how she manages to wrap up a series. And I think I’m probably more excited to read this one than TOG which is something I never thought I’d say!

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7. Lord of Shadows Cassandra Clare – May 23

I’m Cassie Clare trash so, naturally, I’m very much looking forward to reading this one! I’ll literally read anything and everything she writes. Because she is queen. Yep.

8. The Savage DawnMelissa Grey July 6

Another one of my favourite series that’s ending! My poor heart’s going to be in tatters by the end of the year! I love Echo and the gang and I’m really going to miss them when this trilogy is all over.

9. The Dire KingWilliam RitterAugust 22

Ahhhh. I love this series so much. It has a very special place in my heart so I’m really sad that it’s ending already. But, after giving Ghostly Echoes a very easy 5 stars, I literally cannot wait to see how it all ends. But, again, VERY NERVOUS. Abigail and Charlie must be protected at all costs.

10. Throne of Glass #6Sarah J. Maas September 5

Well. It’s been a bit of a ride with this series for me – I’ve had very mixed feelings. I LOVED the first 3 books and then didn’t really enjoy Queen of Shadows all that much which was a bit of a shock for me considering it was, for a little while at least, my favourite series. I liked Empire of Storms quite a bit more but I still have a lot of issues with the series as a whole so I’m really looking forward to it to just end. I am still excited for it but I’m kinda hoping a handful of the main characters die in it which isn’t a good sign. So, like I said, mixed feelings!

11. Lockwood & Co.: The Empty GraveJonathan Stroud September 7

I’ve only just finished reading The Whispering Skull, so I’ll have two more to read before this one comes out in September. TWS was easily a 5 star book for me so I’m very excited to continue on with this series and finish it this year too.

12. Magisterium: The Golden BoyCassandra Clare & Holly Black – September 7

As I said before, Cassie Clare trash. But, seriously, the way the last book ended was traumatic. And I have no idea where Clare & Black will take this story and I love that it’s become a series that turns stereotypes and cliches completely on their heads. I’m sad we have to wait until September to read this though.

 So that’s it for my anticipated releases of 2017! It’s going to be a year of heartbreak for me, I think 😭What are some of your most anticipated releases for this year?Stark Reviews Logo

Top 5 Wednesday – Characters You Defend

25/05/2016

I haven’t done one of these in a while so it’s about time I got back on the bandwagon! The Goodreads group for Top 5 Wednesday can be found here and the moderators here and here.

This weeks’ topic is Top 5 characters you defend. I’m interpreting this topic as top 5 characters I would defend if I saw any negative comments thrown at them. I’m a very loyal person so I’d jump to defend basically any character I love. But the following five most of all!

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1. Nyx from Cruel Beauty

Before reading Cruel Beauty I’d seen quite a few mixed reviews on Goodreads and a lot of the hate seemed to be directed towards the MC, Nyx. So I was a tad stand-offish when I started the novel but, whilst reading it, I got increasingly confused by people’s opinions of her. I thought she was a wonderful character. She was practically everything I look for in my strong female protagonists. I loved how flawed she was – and she was flawed. I liked her bitterness, I liked her unapologetic, unforgiving nature and, most of all, I liked her unrelenting drive. But I also liked how, underneath her prickly exterior, she was kind and warm-hearted. She felt intensely realistic to me and I just love her and yes, I will defend her till people get bored of me droning on about how awesome she is 😊

2. Twylla from The Sin Eater’s Daughter

Similar to Cruel Beauty, I’ve seen many reviews that criticised the book for its MC, Twylla. At the beginning of the series, yes, Twylla is quite a weak character – she isn’t remotely assertive and she is unable to stand up for herself. But she is written in such a way that, I feel, invokes great sympathy, not criticism.

It does really bug me when people expect others to be strong and unwavering in that strength. It’s okay to be scared and act cowardly. And it’s definitely okay to be selfish (in regards to self-care). You don’t owe anyone anything. And I hate it especially when female characters are expected to act selflessly because it reflects how society believes women should act. That we should always be doing things for other people at the expense of ourselves and our own hopes and dreams. Um, no. You’re alright. Oops, impromptu rant. My bad.

But, anyway, back to Twylla. She goes though some crazy character development over the course of both The Sin Eater’s Daughter and The Sleeping Prince. But, particularly, in the last chapter of the first instalment of the trilogy. She goes through a lot and, I won’t give away what happens but, what I will say is that she most certainly finds her voice and, as a result, her strength. And I just bloody love her okay?

3. Harper from Rebel Belle

I haven’t really seen much criticism for Harper but, for reasons I’ll explain, if I saw any comment that would diss her in any way, I will clearly explain to the person in question how and why they are wrong 😂 No, but seriously, Harper is one of my all-time favourite heroines and I adore her so much. I loved reading from her perspective. She’s witty, charming, highly intelligent, no-nonsense, extremely level-headed and unapologetically always herself.

In a world that seeks to criticise people who take pride in their looks and expresses that pride in a multitude of ways, Harper is a very important character, especially for younger readers. Too often the popular, ‘girly,’ overtly-feminine types are villainised by writers with deep-seated personal issues who seem to harbour within themselves a great deal of internal misogyny. Which is why we need more characters like Harper proving to people that you can wear heels and also kick a lot of butt, whether that be literally kicking butt or just outsmarting everyone around her. You got a problem with Harper, you got a problem with me 💁

4. Jem from The Infernal Devices

I have only read the first two in this trilogy (so no spoilers please!) but I am already totally and unequivocally in love with a certain Mr. Carstairs. He is special and delicate and must be protected at all costs. How anyone could ever say a single bad word about Jem or even go so far as to dislike him is completely beyond my comprehension and I don’t think I’m compatible with anyone who would feel such horrid things. I’m only half-joking 😂 To meet a real-life Jem Carstairs is at the top of my bucket list. No shame.

As a love interest to the MC, I haven’t seen many ‘Jem’ types in other novels. He is good and kind and gentle and probably one of the loveliest characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. In YA novels it’s usually the archetypal highly masculine (in a toxic way), bad boy that tends to treat the MC like crap for whatever unbelievable, unforgivable reason that is the usual love interest. Suffice to say, those kinds of immature little shits don’t get my pulse racing in the slightest (why on Earth would they?!?). So the fact that Jem is one of the few truly nice male love interests out there – and I mean actually nice not fake nice guy that turns into a massive douche canoe the moment you turn him down – means I will forever defend him. Come what may. Until my last dying breath. Points if you understood that reference 👏

5. Chaol from Crown of Midnight

HOW COULD ANYONE HATE CHAOL!?!? Is a question I ask myself daily. Most of the time that question is directed towards none other than Ms. Maas herself. Unsurprisingly. Similar to Jem, I feel as though Chaol is quite a different male love interest than all the others. I love how uptight and stubborn he can be and I find his unwavering loyalty towards his friends really admirable. He’s just so swoon-worthy 😍 How people ship Aelin and Rowan together, I will never understand!

Thanks for reading this very long Top 5 Wednesday! Which characters would you always defend?

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