Thursday, 17 January 2019

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Publication date: March 28th 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 536

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I've finally done it - I've caught up with the rest of the reading world and finally picked this one up off my shelves.
This book wasn't quite what I expected. I'm not entirely certain what I expected, but it wasn't this. Don't take that the wrong way, I still thoroughly enjoyed it, but it was a curious book that left me following, bewildered, in its wake as it spun out the story for me.

I will admit that I struggled to get into it. It wasn't until I hit the halfway point that I started actively wanting to pick this up and find out what happened. Before that I was mostly reading it out of habit and idle curiosity -I wasn't really gripped by or engaging with the stories and the characters. I think a lot of that is because this book takes its time. It's such a curious world that it needs that room to breathe and expand and thoroughly immerse the reader before the story itself can get underway.

It's a curious and strange story. One that doesn't allow itself to become limited, and I adored the dreams explored, and the conversations that unfurled within the dreams. 

Once the story gains momentum I found it incredibly hard to put it down, and raced through the pages trying to work out what would happen next. It's curious and wonderful and heart breaking, and whilst I could see that ending coming from some way away, it didn't make it any less powerful. It's left me desperate to start the second book, and I'm very glad that I waited until both books were out before making a start.

If you enjoyed Laini's previous tales then you'll love this. It's filled with a rare kind of magic not often seen in stories.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: New to me Authors in 2018

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

2018 was a bit more of a return to my old reading habits, and I tried to mix up favourite authors with some new discoveries. Some of these worked out better than others, so I've got a few new favourites to add to my auto-buy list, and a few that I probably won't try again.

Naomi Novik
Read: Uprooted
A really fantastic standalone and a great introduction to Novik's writing, I'm now really excited to find more by her and see what I've been missing over the last few years.

Deborah Harkness
Read: The All Souls Trilogy
I'm late to the party, I know, but with the arrival of the TV series these books cropped up on my radar again. I finally gave them a go, and whilst there was a bit of a wobble mid way through the trilogy, on the whole I loved these and they proved to be a highlight of my reading year.

Rebecca Ross
Read: The Queen's Rising
A truly gorgeous book, this one shot straight onto my list of favourites and I am desperately waiting for the second book in the series this spring.

McKelle George
Read: Speak Easy, Speak Love
A curious and gorgeous 1920s retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, this book just worked for me. I loved it, and I'm really curious to read more from George now.

Sandhya Menon
Read: When Dimple Met Rishi
A bright, light, wonderful young adult romance. I absolutely adored this one and I am so excited to read Menon's next novel. This just perfectly captured first love, with a really great cast of characters.

Shea Ernshaw
Read: The Wicked Deep
Lyrical, haunting, with a glorious heart to it, I adored this novel from Ernshaw. It was one of my favourite reads of 2018, and I'm really excited to see what she write's next.

Amanda Bouchet
Read: The Kingmaker Chronicles
These books had been calling to me ever since the first book came out and I read the first few pages and was suitably intrigued. I never got round to actually reading them until last year, and suddenly I couldn't get enough. I stormed through the trilogy in a matter of days, but I think the first book, "A Promise of Fire" remains my favourite.

Becky Albertalli
Read: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
A fresh and wonderful story, I read this around the same time the film came out and loved both. I finally know why everyone has been raving about this one, and I'm not sure why it took me so long to catch up...

Tahereh Mafi
Read: Shatter Me
I'd heard so much about this series, yet I never really caught the spark. It was enough to keep me entertained for a few hours, but not enough to make me go out and buy the rest of the series.

Kevin Kwan
Read: Crazy Rich Asians
Another instance of 'oh the trailer looks good I should really read the book!' I felt mixed about this book. It got a little bit heavy towards the end, and I've resisted picking up book two, but after really enjoying the film adaptation I think I've re-found my impetus to keep reading.

There you have ten new discoveries for me - are any of these new for you? Or are you shaking your head at how long it took me to pick some of these up?

Monday, 14 January 2019

Review: A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber

Publication date: July 1st 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 421

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her dear friend, Lady Kiera Darby is in need of a safe haven. Returning to her childhood home, Kiera hopes her beloved brother Trevor and the merriment of the Hogmanay Ball will distract her. But when a caretaker is murdered and a grave is disturbed at nearby Dryburgh Abbey, Kiera is once more thrust into the cold grasp of death.
While Kiera knows that aiding in another inquiry will only further tarnish her reputation, her knowledge of anatomy could make the difference in solving the case. But agreeing to investigate means Kiera must deal with the complicated emotions aroused in her by inquiry agent Sebastian Gage.
When Gage arrives, he reveals that the incident at the Abbey was not the first—some fiend is digging up old bones and holding them for ransom. Now Kiera and Gage must catch the grave robber and put the case to rest…before another victim winds up six feet under.

The first book in this series completely captivated me - "The Anatomist's Wife" had all the suspense, intrigue, and isolation that I adore in my murder mystery books. Yet the follow up "Mortal Arts" left a lot to be desired and I found myself putting off reading this third book for quite some time, fearing that it wouldn't quite follow through on the promise of that beautiful first book. Sadly, I was right.

Make no mistake, this is still an enjoyable read, and I'm glad to be back in the series and looking forward to continuing it. However there are still a lot of problems that marred my enjoyment. The first is the modern language. There are some places where the language is spot on, and then others where modern phrases and colloquialisms slip in, throwing me out of the story and leaving me frustrated. One of my biggest peeves is an historical novel that can't get the period right.

Secondly, one of my favourite things when reading a whodunnit, is to be able to pick up the breadcrumbs the author leaves and try to puzzle out the mystery myself. Deanna Raybourn is a truly excellent example of an author who gives you the pieces, but doesn't make it blindingly obvious, leaving you to experience a truly thrilling mystery. However I'm finding more and more with Huber's books that the trail of crumbs is thrown haphazardly around, with no real clues just a load of false starts, and then a twist pulled out of thin air in the last fifty pages that you were never able to predict because the set up wasn't there. If there's no real set up then there isn't a payoff, which just leads to frustration all round.

It's still an enjoyable read. Huber creates suspense and thrills like you wouldn't believe, and I adore watching a lot of it play out. I also love her characters. Yes, Kiera can be a little frustrating, but I love the relationships she has with her siblings, how she's finding herself and working herself out at last, and her relationship with Gage is a sight to behold.

So it was an enjoyable read, but a little too frustrating to tip it into one of the higher star ratings. However I'll definitely be picking up the fourth book soon to see where Kiera and Gage end up next.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Publication date: April 3rd 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 455

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

I had heard so much in the run up to reading this, that I couldn't wait to start reading, but honestly, whilst there was a lot that was really important and good about this book, it was also a bit of a mess.

Let's start with the good. The representation. That cover. The bad ass and wonderful ladies at the heart of this story, who are complex and flawed, and who work their issues out. The sexualities represented, the long hard look at the institutionalized racism, how whip smart and clever Jane is and plays with the expectations of those around her. This book had a huge amount going for it, and was a super important read - one that I heartily recommend for all of the above.

But (you knew there was a but coming) the plot was a shambles. No pun intended.
The first third is great, it carries on at a fair clip, and introduces the reader to the world and the main players. Then everything goes a little wrong and the rest of the novel basically wanders around in lost circles, never really going anywhere, becoming increasingly frustrating to read, and essentially ambles until it can set up the second novel in the final forty odd pages. It completely loses its way, and as a result loses my interest, to the point that I'm not sure whether I want to pick up the second book.

I wanted to love it. As I've said above there was an awful lot to love. But it felt like three different books smushed together - the first third, the rest of the story, and then the story being told in the letter excerpts at the start of each chapter, which felt like a different story entirely. As a result it was just left feeling messy and frustrating, despite everything it had going for it to start.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Publication Date: May 12th 2016
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 435

A dark enchantment blights the land
Agnieszka loves her village, set in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest's dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she is everything Agnieszka is not - beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he takes.

I tried, a long time ago, to read a Naomi Novik book and really struggled and ended up giving up after a couple of chapters. However this book was pressed into my hands with the order to read it, so I felt I really needed to give her another chance.

I went into this thinking it was going to be one story (see the blurb) and it starts off looking like it will be. But then it changes. Ok, fair, not quite what I was expecting, but I'm still enjoying it. Then it changes again. And again. Honestly by the end I had no idea what kind of book I was reading, but I was loving it so I really didn't care.

It's a book the refuses to conform to one mould, and I adored that about it, even as I found it confusing keeping up. There was magic, and friendship and love of all different kinds, and creepy myths and legends and woods that come alive, and politics and intrigue and all of the things and I adored it.

I loved that it refused to be one thing. I loved that it refused to just be a pretty romance between teacher and student. I loved how it explored so many difficult facets of the relationship between Agnieszka and Kasia. I loved that Agnieszka was not your typical heroine and she was messy and wonderful and weird and bad ass. I love that Kasia turned all the expectations of her on their head. I loved how much Sarkan was grumpy and irritated and confused when the world did not go the way he expected it to.

Are you sensing a theme here?

Basically this standalone was one of those rare and perfect creatures that you can't quite pin down, but absolutely sweeps you away with its dark and wonderful story.

It's a great introduction to Novik's writing, and I'm now really excited to read more of her work.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Reads for the first half of 2019

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

Another year, another excellent lot of books hitting our shelves. There are some that I get to read almost instantly (yay instant gratification!) and others that I'm going to have to wait until nearly the end of the year before I finally see... (cue sobbing) But these will all definitely be worth the wait when I get to them!

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
January 29th 2019

Face your demons...or feed them.

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country's bloody civil war--and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka's coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren't meant to stay buried--and some wounds aren't meant to heal.
I'm so excited about this book. I've been so excited about this book for months. And now it's SO CLOSE AND I NEED IT NOW.

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've loved Roshani's previous work, and this just ticks all of my excited boxes. Historical novel, set in Paris, filled with magic and murder and intrigue. YES PLEASE GIVE ME NOW.
Enchantée by Gita TreleaseFebruary 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. 

Another book that has been on my radar for months now, and it's so close to my little grabby hands and I need it in my life...

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers
February 21st 2019

Death wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning…
Sybella has always been the darkest of Death’s daughters, trained at the convent of Saint Mortain to serve as his justice. But she has a new mission now. In a desperate bid to keep her two youngest sisters safe from the family that nearly destroyed them all, she agrees to accompany the duchess to France, where they quickly find themselves surrounded by enemies. Their one ray of hope is Sybella’s fellow novitiates, disguised and hidden deep in the French court years ago by the convent—provided Sybella can find them.
Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she struggles to remember who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. Her only solace is a hidden prisoner who appears all but forgotten by his guards. When tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands—even if it means ignoring the long awaited orders from the convent.
As Sybella and Gen’s paths draw ever closer, the fate of everything they hold sacred rests on a knife’s edge. Will they find each other in time, or will their worlds collide, destroying everything they care about?

I've felt a little bit mixed about some of these books, but honestly there's so much to love about them that of course this is on my excited list. I just want more.

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 a new Deanna Raybourn book, of course it's going to feature in my top ten most anticipated reads!

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
March 7th 2019

After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji but also some nobles with magic ancestry. 
Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as strong and magical as they are. When Amari's mother forms an army of royals with newly awakened powers, Zélie fights to secure Amari's right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy's wrath. But with civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must find a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.
Personal feelings regarding twitter behaviour aside, I really loved the first book, and I'm excited to see where the story goes next. Admittedly that excitement has dimmed a little in recent months, but it still warrants a place in the top ten for the year.

The Queen's Resistance by Rebecca Ross
March 7th 2019

Finally, Brienna is a mistress of knowledge and is settling into her role as the daughter of Davin MacQuinn, a disgraced lord who returned to Maevana to reclaim his house. Though she’s just survived a revolution, one that will finally return a queen to the throne, she faces another difficult challenge. She must prove herself trustworthy to the MacQuinns. But as Queen Isolde Kavanagh’s closest confidant, she’ll have to balance serving her father’s house as well as her country. And then there’s Cartier Evariste, a wholly separate factor in her new life.
Now known as Aodhan Morgane, Cartier is adjusting to the stark contrast between his pre-rebellion life in Valenia as a master of knowledge and his current one as the lord of a fallen house. During his castle’s restoration, he discovers a ten-year-old boy named Tomas, whose past and parentage are a complete mystery. So when Cartier’s former pupil Brienna is as fond of Tomas as he is, he lets his mind wander – what if he doesn’t have to raise him or his house alone?
As the Lannon trial rapidly approaches, Brienna and Cartier must put their feelings aside to concentrate on forging alliances, executing justice, and ensuring that no one interferes with the queen’s coronation. But resistance is rumbling among the old regime’s supporters, who are desperate to find a weakness in the rebels’ forces. And nothing makes a person more vulnerable than deep-seated love.
The first book in this series was one of the best reads of last year for me, and it's felt like an interminably long time to wait to find out what happens next, but it's nearly here now!
The Boy Who Steals Houses by C G Drews
April 4th 2019

Can two broken boys find their perfect home? By turns heart-breaking and heart-warming, this is a gorgeously told, powerful story.
Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he's ever known. Now Sam's trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he's caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing - each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie. But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him
I adored Cait's debut novel "A Thousand Perfect Notes" last year, and I cannot wait to see how much emotional trauma her next novel does to me (in the best possible way of course).

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare
April 9th 2019

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend. But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.

FINALLY we get a novel for Alex and Magnus. Gosh these two deserve all of the love. Plus the blurb looks gives the impression that this book is going to be an absolute blast. I can't wait.

Crescent City by Sarah J Maas
Release Date TBA

Set in a world where humans struggle to survive amid intricate hierarchies of demons, shifters, angels, and countless other magical creatures, Crescent City tells the story of half-human, half-Sidhe Bryce Quinlan. After the brutal slaying of her best friend, Bryce joins forces with a powerful warrior-angel to hunt down the killer, leading them toward a treacherous enemy that could destroy the fabric of their world. The series will feature an array of captivating new characters, including a spitfire heroine who will stop at nothing to avenge her friend and protect her vibrant city, an epic world on the brink of war, and Maas’ signature heart-pounding romance.

I know next to nothing about this book, there isn't  a cover or a release date yet, but it's Sarah J Maas, so it's an automatic must by for me.

There you have ten of the books hitting out shelves in 2019 that I cannot wait to read. Now, over to you to tell me some of yours!

Monday, 7 January 2019

My Christmas Historical Romance Binge (or: 3 mini reviews)

Christmas is a time for comfort. For nesting under a blanket with a cup of tea and a stack of books. (And apparently this year idly half watching my husband play Red Dead Redemption 2 over the top of my pages...)
Nothing screams comfort to me like a good historical romance, so with that in mind I settled in for three days of bingeing.

A Lady's Guide to Improper Behaviour by Suzanne Enoch
The Rules:
A lady should always make polite conversation...
Theresa Weller understands the rules of decorum, and is appalled when Colonel Bartholomew James disrupts a perfectly civilized dinner. This rude, insensitive man is the complete opposite of everything a gentleman should be — but with one searing kiss, Tess can think of no one else.
A lady should never lose her temper...
Aggravated beyond bearing by a man who speaks his mind, Tess wishes there was a guide to men like Bartholomew. Surely, with such an assortment of handsome, polite suitors to choose from, Tess should not ache for him.
A lady should never pursue a gentleman.
She invites him on carriage rides and dares him to dance, and almost makes him want to return to Society. Bartholomew knows Tess wants to be seen as a proper miss, but deep down, he knows she is precisely the sort to spark his desire... A most improper lady.

Sure it's basically the same plot as "England's Perfect Hero" by Enoch, which I loved, so that meant that it fell a little flat. But it had enough else to keep me mildly entertained for a few hours that I didn't overly object. It's not got quite the same spark as Enoch's books used to for me, but it's amusing enough, just steamy enough, and has some relatively good banter between the hero and heroine. However it's also fairly predictable, and my husband found it vastly entertaining to experience the plot purely from my predictions of what was about to happen.

Do You Want to Start a Scandal? By Tessa Dare
On the night of the Parkhurst ball, someone had a scandalous tryst in the library.
• Was it Lord Canby, with the maid, on the divan?
• Or Miss Fairchild, with a rake, against the wall?
• Perhaps the butler did it.
All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace. When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.
But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit... and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.
Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?

Yes, just yes. Tessa Dare never fails to completely steal me away into whatever story she spins. I adored the mystery, I loved Charlotte and Piers (OH MY THEIR BANTER) and it was super steamy and utterly delicious. After the slightly frustrating start with 'Improper Behaviour' this was exactly what I needed, and I've bought a few more by her so that I can continue this delicious bit of escapism into the New Year.

A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch
The dawning of desire...
1806, Scotland: Wild, reckless Callum MacCreath is in no hurry to become someone’s husband. But when his responsible, steady older brother Ian announces his engagement to their childhood friend Rebecca, Callum makes a startling discovery: he wants the lovely young lass for himself. But it’s too late, and when Ian banishes him for his duplicity, he’s only too happy to leave Scotland forever… delicious and dangerous.
1816: Marrying Ian was the practical, logical thing for Becca to do. But once Callum sailed away to America, she missed his rakish charm and lust for life. Now, ten years later, Becca is a widow when a much-changed Callum returns to his Scottish homeland. Will he remember their spirited, fiery connection, or does he blame her for his brother’s unexpected death? This time neither of them can deny their scorching attraction, but will their hearts be burned in the blazing heat of scandal?

And then I went on to a fairly recent Suzanne Enoch and regretted my life choices. I used to love Enoch's books - they were feisty and funny and steamy and I loved settling down with one. But this one was absolutely terrible.
There was no steam, no witty banter, nothing beyond some rather limp shirtless hugging and an obsession with a truly terrible whodunnit that was upsettingly obvious right from the start. It was just... bad. Truly, truly bad. And not what I've come to expect from Enoch. It also sparked a bit of a purge, where all her more recent books that have been sitting on my to read pile have been removed. 

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Books I'm Squeeing About in January

A new year, a whole new wishlist of books that I cannot wait to read. Despite a whole host of books turning up at Christmas, there are always new releases that I cannot wait to start on. So without further ado, let's get on to January's very brilliant start to the year of new books!

The Wicked King by Holly Black
January 8th 2019

I have heard that for mortals, the feeling of falling in love is very like the feeling of fear. Jude has tricked Cardan onto the throne, binding him to her for a year and a day. But the new High King does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her, even as his fascination with her remains undimmed. Meanwhile, a traitor in the court is scheming against her. Jude must fight for her life and the lives of those she loves, all while battling her own complicated feelings for Cardan. Now a year and a day seems like no time at all...

I admit, I have yet to read the first book, but I've heard so many good things about it, that getting the second is already a bit of a given. I'll get to them both soon...

The Girl King by Mimi Yu
January 10th 2019

All hail the Girl King
Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as princesses of the empire. Lu is destined to become the first female emperor, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. When their father declares their male cousin heir instead, his betrayal throws both their lives into chaos. 
Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu must flee the court in search of an ally. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. After years in hiding, Nok is forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved. Now they need an army to take back the throne. Left alone in the volatile court, Min's hidden power awakens. It's a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set's reign... or allow Min to claim the throne herself.But there can only be one emperor, and the sisters' greatest enemy could turn out to be each other...
Everything about this just appeals, and sounds like it is absolutely my cup of tea. Bad ass warrior ladies! Fighting the patriarchy! Diversity! *grabby hands*
Imprison the Sky by A C Gaughen
January 22nd 2019

Stolen from her family as a child, Aspasia has clawed her way up the ranks of Cyrus's black market empire to captain her own trading vessel--and she risks it all every time she uses her powerful magic to free as many women, children, and Elementae from slavery as she can.
But Cyrus is close to uncovering her secrets--not only that Aspasia is a wind Elementa with the ability to sail her ship through the sky, but that she is also searching for her lost family. And if Aspasia can't find her younger siblings before Cyrus does, she will never be able to break free.
Armed with her loyal crew full of Elementae and a new recruit who controls an intriguing power, Aspasia finds herself in the center of a brewing war that spans every inch of the ocean, and her power alone may not be enough to save her friends, family, and freedom.
Now I absolutely adored the Scarlet trilogy by A C Gaughen, but I haven't yet read her latest Elementae series. I want to, I'm just nervous - my love for Scarlet is strong. But with the second book now coming out, I think it's finally time to read book 1 and fall headfirst into this series.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
January 29th 2019

Face your demons...or feed them.
Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country's bloody civil war--and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka's coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren't meant to stay buried--and some wounds aren't meant to heal.
I adore Nikolai. He was my absolute favourite in the Grisha trilogy, and the idea of an entire book for his very own fills me with happy joy.

There are some of my picks for this month, what are you excited about getting your hands on?