Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Bookish Couples

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by the fabulous Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl. You can join in with future topics here!

When a book chooses to put a relationship into the narrative, that can sometimes make or break the story. Done well, it can create something truly magical that keeps you going back to the story over and over.
I'm a sucker for a good romance, but here are ten of the relationships that have stayed with me long after I've finished reading a book.

Puck & Sean
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

“I say, 'I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.'
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, 'It's late for that, Puck.”

Slow and creeping and utterly captivating, I adore the relationship that gradually builds between these two. A fascination with each otherness, a foundation of mutual respect and admiration, and a slow heat and intensity that rewards the slow build between them over the course of the book.

Celia & Marcus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
“I would have written you, myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough.' 'But you built me dreams instead.” 
This is such a beautiful story, with a wonderful, haunting relationship threading throughout. I love the way these two express their feelings - how the circus arounds them reflects their love. It's beautiful and magical and I love coming back to these two.

Fire & Brigan
Fire by Kristin Cashore
“I don't want to love you if you're only going to die.” 
This book is one of my all time favourites. It's magical and wonderful and heartbreaking and beautiful, and I love Fire (and all of Cashore's heroines) fiercely. They are complex and flawed and wonderful. I love this quiet relationship that grows up until it has filled in all of their cracks and they couldn't be torn apart even if they tried. I love how hard and difficult and painful it all is, because it feels realistic. And I love the quiet intimacy and beauty that can be found around that. I love them.

Claire & Jamie
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
This love deserves the term epic. It truly is an epic love story, one spanning centuries and continents, and it's hard and realistic and wonderful. I adore watching these two come together, forced into proximity by circumstance only to come to respect, trust, and love the other. It is timeless and complex, and a meeting of two equals, which I adore it for.

Alex & Henry
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Alright technically this book isn't released until May this year. But it is one of the best romances I've read. I'm completely in love with this book and these two boys, and I cannot wait until it's out in the world and I can squee about them properly. Forewarning, get this on your pre-order list, you're not going to want to miss this.

Julia & Brisbane
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
It's dark and quiet, and doesn't overwhelm the mystery of the other stories interwoven around theirs, but I adore the relationship that builds between Julia and Brisbane. It's the kind of quiet, simmering thing that really takes its time, and is all the more wonderful for it. They want to protect each other, but aren't afraid to call the other out and engage in some fantastic verbal sparring. It's a meeting of two equal minds, and I love watching them together.

Feyre & Rhysand
A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J Maas
“I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belong to you.”
This relationship is wonderful. I love the balance between the two of them. The respect and care that Rhysand offers Feyre. The fact that they're both a bit broken but they're working through it together. Whilst I love a bit of a bad boy in fiction, it always frustrates me when men treat their lady loves like a pile of poop. None of that here, and watching Feyre come into her own, secure and happy in the knowledge that she is loved for who she is, is something wonderful to behold. I return to this book so often I know it almost by heart, and this relationship is one of the reasons that I do.

Adam & Ronan
The Raven Cycle quartet by Maggie Stiefvater
Oh these two. Ronan is all sharp edges and anger, and Adam is dark and quiet and they are so damned perfect for each other it hurts, and I adore them. Maggie has announced there will be an offshoot novel "Call down the Hawk" focussed on Ronan, and I cannot wait for more of these boys.

Alanna & George
The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce
One of the very first fantasy books I read, this quartet shaped my reading loves from the outset. And one of those was a complex relationship that evolved over the course of the series. Plus, George is just wonderful from the very first moment.

Kami & Jared
The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan
“Hark,” he said, his tone very dry. “What stone through yonder window breaks?”Kami yelled up at him, “It is the east, and Juliet is a jerk!”
I will never get over my love of Kami and Jared. They are sassy, brooding, snark pants, and I cannot fully articulate my love for them. And just compiling this list and looking at quotes from the series has made me want to go back and re-read them.

There you have ten of mine. Now it's over to you to tell me some of yours!

Monday, 4 February 2019

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Publication date: August 28th 2018
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 373

The accidental governess.
After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.
The infamous rake.
Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

The second in the "Girl Meets Duke" series, took me back to the characters I fell in love with in The Duchess Deal, then fleshed out Alex and The Bookshop Rake as they got their very own romance, and strengthened my love affair with Tessa Dare.

Dare manages to bottle lightning with these books, creating that pitch perfect blend of wit, characters you root for (even when they're being idiots), interesting plot, and steamy romance. It's like magic, and I found myself laughing out loud at a lot of the scenes with the children. Daisy's inventive daily death, combined with the truly brilliant eulogy's provided by Chase made for some of the funniest moments I've read recently.

If you like well written romance this is for you. If you like well written characters this is for you. If you just like a good book that you can disappear into for a few hours and emerge from with a smile on your face, then this is definitely for you.
It's fun, it's smart, and I am totally sold on this series. I can't wait for the third book later in the year.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Books I'm Squeeing About in February

We're already one down, eleven to go, which is terrifying, but I'm choosing to focus on the exciting books coming out this month instead. And oh boy what an incredibly busy month it is for new releases.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
February 1st 2019
Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Severin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Severin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Severin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can't yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much. Together, they'll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

I adore Roshani's writing, and everything about this blurb has me excited. Historical, set in Paris, and with a thrilling cast of characters - I cannot wait to read this one.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
February 5th 2019

Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But when her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Bri finds herself at the centre of controversy and portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. And with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it – she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.

Latest novel from Angie Thomas. 'Nuff said really. Can't wait.

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
February 21st 2019

When Sybella accompanies the Duchess of Brittany to France, she expects trouble, but she isn’t expecting a deadly trap. Surrounded by enemies both known and unknown, Sybella searches for the undercover assassins from the convent of St. Mortain who were placed in the French court years ago.
Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she no longer knows who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. When she discovers a hidden prisoner who may be of importance, she takes matters into her own hands.
As these two worlds collide, the fate of the Duchess, Brittany, and everything Sybella and Genevieve have come to love hangs in the balance.

I'll admit, I didn't enjoy the final book in the His Fair Assassin series. But the previous books were brilliant enough that I'm still pretty excited for the latest offering in this universe.

Enchantée by Gita Trelease
February 21st 2019

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries – and magicians...When smallpox kills her parents, seventeen-year-old Camille is left to provide for her frail sister and her volatile brother. In desperation, she survives by using the petty magic she learnt from her mother. But when her brother disappears Camille decides to pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.Using dark magic Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine‘ and presents herself at the court of Versaille, where she soon finds herself swept up in a dizzying life of riches, finery and suitors. But Camille’s resentment of the rich is at odds with the allure of their glamour and excess, and she soon discovers that she’s not the only one leading a double life.
I have been so excited about this book for months and I cannot wait to read it. This month seems to be an excellent one for historical, magical books set in Paris. It's basically heaven.

Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye
February 21st 2019

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.
As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.
So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.
Love, spies, and adventure abound as Sora and Daemon unravel a complex web of magic and secrets that might tear them—and the entire kingdom—apart forever.

I need to get on and read the Evelyn Skye books already sat on my bookshelves, because I have heard nothing but good things about them, and everything about them makes me super excited. Must make time soon!

It's Getting Scot In Here by Suzanne Enoch
February 26th 2019

London socialite Amelia-Rose Baxter is nobody's fool. Her parents may want her to catch a title, but she will never change who she is for the promise of marriage. Her husband will be a man who can appreciate her sharp mind as well as her body. A sophisticated man who loves life in London. A man who considers her his equal--and won't try to tame her wild heart...
Rough, rugged Highlander Niall MacTaggert and his brothers know the rules: the eldest must marry or lose the ancestral estate, period. But Niall's eldest brother just isn't interested in the lady his mother selected. Is it because Amelia-Rose is just too. . . Free-spirited? Yes. Brazen? Aye. Surely Niall can find a way to soften up the whip-smart lass and make her the perfect match for his brother for the sake of the family.
Instead it's Niall who tempts Amelia-Rose, despite her reservations about barbarian Highlanders. Niall finds the lass nigh irresistible as well, but he won't make the mistake his father did in marrying an Englishwoman who doesn't like the Highlands. Does he have what it takes to win her heart? There is only one way to find out...

I mean, it's February so of course there was going to be a romance on here... Plus the titles for Suzanne's books are becoming increasingly ridiculous and brilliant, and nothing make me snigger more than an entertainingly silly romance novel title. Gimme.

A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn
February 28th 2019

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker's brother calls in a favour. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly's house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancee - much to Stoker's chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly's wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband's mind. As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker's help to discover the host's true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund…

It's always a good month when a new book from Deanna Raybourn is released. Sure I miss the Lady Julia Grey series, but I do adore some more time with Veronica, so rounding my month off with another instalment of her adventures sounds pretty darn perfect.

There you have the books that I can't wait to get my hands on this month - tell me some of yours!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Most Recent Additions to my TBR Pile

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by the fabulous Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl. You can join in with future topics here!

The problem with to read piles is that they literally never end. They just grow bigger and more unruly until they fall over and crush us, thereby cutting short all dreams of ever finishing reading them.
So of course I've been adding to mine recently! Pretty much all of these are based on the blurb and/or cover, except for the Tessa Dare books, because apparently I'm just on a Tessa Dare binge right now...

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

‘I am a Duke. I’m not asking you to marry me. I am offering to marry you. It’s a different thing entirely.’When the Duke of Ashbury returns from war scarred, he realises he needs an heir – which means he needs a wife! When Emma Gladstone, a vicar's daughter turned seamstress visits wearing a wedding dress, he decides on the spot that she'll do.
His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.

- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she's pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.
But Emma is no pushover. She has secrets and some rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she's seen the man beneath the scars, he can't stop her from falling in love…

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Unexpected lovers find themselves together in Spindle Cove with A Week to be Wicked—the second book in Tessa Dare’s utterly delectable historical romance series. This Regency Era delight finds a restless British lord desperate to escape the quaint and too quiet small seaside resort he’s trapped in…and he gets much more than he expected when he eagerly agrees to escort a beautiful, brilliant, socially awkward lady scientist to Scotland.

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

When Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, returns home from a year at sea, he finds his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, all Teach wants is to return to the vast ocean he calls home. There’s just one problem: he must convince his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following the death of her parents, Anne Barrett is left penniless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne takes a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks and Anne longs to escape the confines of her now mundane life. How will she ever achieve her dream of sailing to Curaçao—her mother’s birthplace—when she’s trapped in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn together by a shared desire for freedom, but kept apart by Teach’s father, their love is as passionate as it is forbidden. Faced with an impossible choice, Teach and Anne must decide whether to chase their dreams and leave England forever—or follow their hearts and stay together.

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Mehr is a girl trapped between two cultures. Her father comes from the ruling classes of the empire, but her mother's people were outcasts, Amrithi nomads who worshipped the spirits of the sands.
Caught one night performing these forbidden rites, Mehr is brought to the attention of the Emperor's most feared mystics, who try to force her into their service by way of an arranged marriage. If she fails in their bidding, the gods themselves may awaken and seek vengeance...

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt. Ph dre n Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Ph dre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Ph dre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Ph dre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear. Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies.

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

Teodora di Sangro is used to hiding her magical ability to transform enemies into music boxes and mirrors. Nobody knows she's a strega--and she aims to keep it that way. The she meets Cielo--and everything changes. A strega who can switch outward form as effortlessly as turning a page in a book, Cielo shows Teodora what her life could be like if she masters the power she's been keeping secret. And not a moment too soon: the ruler of Vinalia has poisoned the patriarchs of the country's five controlling families, including Teodora's father, and demands that each family send a son to the palace. If she wants to save her family, Teodora must travel to the capital--not disguised as a boy, but transformed into one. But the road to the capital, and to bridling her powers, is full of enemies and complications, including the one she least expects: falling in love.

Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan
A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.
A prince in danger must decide who to trust.
A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.
Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan's devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy

Romanov by Nadine Brandes
The history books say I died. They don't know the half of it. Anastasia "Nastya" Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family's only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he's hunted Romanov before. Nastya's only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn't act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya's only dabbled in magic, but it doesn't frighten her half as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her... That is, until she's on one side of a firing squad... and he's on the other.

Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

A pilot raised in revolution. A princess raised in a palace. A world on the brink of war.
Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan's mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it's the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania--Aurelia's mother. Determined to avenge his wife's murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan's mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he's been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it--a war in which Athan's father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they've been raised to believe.

Descendent of the Crane by Joan He
"Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own." Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she's thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father's killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer--a treasonous act, punishable by death... because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira--a brilliant and alluring investigator who's also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

Now it's your turn! What's made it onto your to read pile recently?

Monday, 28 January 2019

Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Publication date: August 22nd 2017
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 389

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules… 
Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.
His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.
But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And unlimited teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

I have developed a bit of a love for all Tessa Dare novels. It started a couple of years ago, but my flirtation with "Do You Want to Start a Scandal?" over Christmas simply solidified this.

The Duchess Deal is no different. It's smart and funny and seductive and I adored both Ash (lambkin, darling, sweetmeat) and Emma. It's always satisfying when the heroine is both resourceful and strong in her own right. Sure marrying Ash is a smart choice that makes her life easier, but she doesn't just fall into his arms fluttering her eyelashes and wailing at him to save her. No, she doesn't need a man, but if there's one willing to satisfy her in bed then yes please sign her up. Basically I adored her.

Dare also walks the fine line between depth to a story and super dark destruction of all romance. There's enough sass and snark between Emma and Ash that I never tipped into pitying him - he's had a really tough time of it and been treated appallingly, but it's a big case of him just needing to be shown that his ex-fiancée is a terrible person and Emma is totally amazing.

It's got a great cast of supporting characters, including a nice trio of ladies that I'm expecting to get their own novels (OH HEY COPY OF THE GOVERNESS GAME ALREADY ON MY NIGHTSTAND) and the most under appreciated and amazing butler ever. Seriously, I want Khan to appear in all novels from now on.

Basically this has cemented my love for all things Dare. It's smart, it's funny, it's super toe-curlingly-swoon-worthy, and it was exactly what I needed right now. On to the next!

Friday, 25 January 2019

Game of Thrones Re-Watch: Season 1

It's nearly April. More specifically it's nearly April 14th and that means that the time has come, at long last, to start the Thrones re-watch.
With so many characters, plots, random easter eggs etc. it's the kind of show that really rewards re-watching. Plus it's a good way to dive straight into the new season all caught up and ready to go without the moments where you inevitably have to pause the episode and go 'but who is this guy???'

Season one had an insane amount of weight on its shoulders - arguably more than the ridiculously anticipated final season. It was a hugely popular fantasy book, being made into a hugely expensive HBO show. It was breaking all the rules and doing something no one had done before. It could have gone horribly wrong, flopped, and never had any follow up seasons. But it didn't. Fans of the books loved it for the faithful adaptation it provided. Fans of good TV loved it because it is incredibly good TV. And by the end of the season it had broken all the usual rules of engagement and done what a lot of shows are too afraid to do. Audiences were hooked.

Now I came a little late to the game - I didn't have Sky so I had been mildly spoiled for the end of the season before I launched into the box set. It took a few episodes to really hook me because there's a huge amount of information to bombard the viewer with to get them up to speed; I was intrigued enough to watch, but not yet into full binge territory. And I think that still holds true even now when I'm watching the season in full for the seventh time. Sure it's good, it's filled with insanely impressive set pieces, an amazing cast, and has an engrossing quality that sucks you in. But it's a slow burn. The kind that rewards you for watching, for going back and fitting previously unnoticed pieces together. No matter how much I'm enjoying it (and believe me, I always am) it doesn't fully grab me until the end of episode 6 - my first sit up and take notice 'oh hey you're really not messing around' moment.

If you've not yet experienced Thrones, I cannot recommend it enough. It's the kind of show that rewards re-watching and you'll never experience it exactly the same way twice. Yes it's brutal and bloody, yes it has a rather ridiculous boob quota (although that calms down in later seasons), but it's about so much more than that. Even if you don't consider yourself to be a fantasy fan, I guarantee you'll enjoy this. It's about people and power and relationships. The scheming of powerhouses, the resentments that run decades deep. Ignore the White Walkers and Dragons for a minute (the first season certainly does) and you still have an incredible, compelling, sweeping saga of a story.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Review: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

Spoilers for the books!
Publication date: September 30th 1999
Publisher: Egmont Books
Pages: 192

Dear Reader,
If you have picked up this book with the hope of finding a simple and cheery tale, I'm afraid you have picked up the wrong book altogether. The story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire children spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle, but don't be fooled. If you know anything at all about the unlucky Baudelaire children, you already know that even pleasant events lead down the same road to misery.
In fact, within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odor, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the appearance of a person they'd hoped never to see again.
I am bound to record these tragic events, but you are free to put this book back on the shelf and seek something lighter.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

These are such quick reads that after finishing the first book I launched immediately into the second. I adored the first part of "The Reptile Room" for the TV adaptation (UNCLE MONTY WE DON'T DESERVE YOU.) and I was really excited to explore it again.

There is a certain amount of suspending disbelief that's needed with both the books and show - why is Mr Poe the one in charge of these kids? Why does no one actually believe and/or listen to the Baudelaire's? etc. But put that to one side and just embrace the crazy of this world (because this place is definitely crazy) and you'll love it.

I found I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first one, which surprised me. I found that Uncle Monty has a bit more to him in the TV show, and he frustrated me more in the book, which was a huge shame. It's also the first point that it feels like it gets super dark.

Sure the first book is dark, the kids are made orphans, they're sent to live with the awful Count Olaf etc. But there's something about seeing them happy and settled at the start of this book only to have it snatched away so brutally that's really distressing. I've never really gotten over the TV show and sudden lack of Uncle Monty. They tackle really dark and difficult things for kids, and they don't pull any punches, but it works and you just need to lean into it, because it's heart breaking and wonderful.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Totally Meant to Read in 2018 and Failed to

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by the fabulous Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl. You can join in with future topics here!

Sure, 2018 was a year of me finally climbing (slowly) out of my reading slump, but there were a whole load of books that sat forlornly on my to read pile as I kept promising I'd get to them and (repeatedly) failed to. This year, books, I promise...

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
I loved Seraphina and then loathed Shadow Scale. So I both desperately want to read and don't want to read this latest from Hartman. I'm working up to it slowly. I'll start it when it least expects me to and take it by surprise.

Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett
I totally meant to read this one over the festive break but never quite got to it. It's another one that I'm super excited to read though, so it won't be long before I get there. And I totally haven't been saying that since I bought it in July...

Hunted by Meagan Spooner
So many good things have been floating around about this, and I've picked it up to start it several times, only to get side-tracked by other things. I'm probably mostly just afraid it won't live up to my high hopes.

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn
I seem to be a year behind on these... I read book two as book three was coming out, and now I'm getting to the third book just as the fourth book is released. One day I'll catch up!

The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
I adore Julia Quinn's books so I have no idea why I've failed so terribly at getting on to this one. Maybe I'm just saving it for a rainy day when I really need a burst of sunshine and happy romance.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
I'd hoped to read this one before the fourth season came out, but I think I missed that window of opportunity. Alas, it will wait and tide me over when the season is over and I'm missing Claire and Jamie.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
I've finally caught up with Strange the Dreamer in the first few weeks of this year, but I still haven't caught up with everyone else and read the sequel to the dark and beautiful tale from Laini Taylor. I wasn't quite sure what to expect with the first book, and going into the second I still don't really know, but I'm excited. 

Prudence by Gail Carriger
Following the completion of The Parasol Protectorate series, I've managed to miss all of Gail's new novels. They're stacking up nicely on my to read pile for an excellent binge session soon.

The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
I really loved the first book, I found the second one really weird and thoroughly baffling, and as a result the third book has just sat in perpetual anticipation for me finally finishing this trilogy.

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake
I adored the first two books, yet something didn't quite work when I picked up this third one. I think I must have been in the wrong frame of mind, so I'm waiting for the right moment to go back to it.

Now over to you, tell me some of the books you wanted to get to and didn't quite make it to in time last year!