Friday, 28 September 2018

Throne of Glass re-read: Crown of Midnight

Publication Date: August 15th 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 418 pages

Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan's deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies' blood - but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.
Torn between her two protectors - a captain and a prince - and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom...

And so the re-read continues, with for some people perhaps one of the less loved instalments in the series. Yet I really love this book, and that feeling held even on this re-read and knowing what's to come.
It's a truly impressive sequel, with Maas taking what she's built in the first book and developing it further as well as chucking romance and a terrifying mystery into the mix.

We also start to see the start of one of the things I particularly love about her stories, she gives her heroines the chance to grow, evolve, and for their loves to change with them. There's none of this 'true love and that's it, straight off with the first person you meet'. No Maas allows her characters to fall in and out of love, for circumstance to change feelings, and her characters to not be slut shamed for having multiple love interests over the course of their lives. It was something I first came across with Tamora Pierce in the Alanna quartet, and it makes me stupidly happy to see Maas allowing her characters the same freedom in her series.

Maas takes her time with this series, to progress character development and take her time unveiling the layers and facets to this world and the arcs she has plotted for everyone, and I just love revelling in that. This book is filled with some gasp worthy moments, as well as a fair dollop of heart break and tragedy. But it all feels so real, and that is a mark of a truly brilliant story.

I enjoyed getting to see more of Rifthold, to see what being the King's Champion means, and on this re-read paying particular attention to the little clues that Maas peppers the story with pertaining to the characters and what's to come for them.

I'd forgotten how much I love this series, it's been a while since I've let myself go back and revisit it, and I'm really enjoying seeing that my love hasn't changed with the break, more it has evolved and I now find things that used to frustrate me bother me less, and I can appreciate some aspects of the characters that I never fully embraced before.

This is an incredible series, one that deserves all the recognition it has garnered over the years. If you've been hesitant about picking it up let this be the nudge to get you started. I cannot recommend them enough, and there's nothing quite like spending time with these characters.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Film Review: A Simple Favor

With a powerhouse duo in the form of Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, and a director known for his comedies, "A Simple Favor" had intrigued me right from the start, and with good reason.

The trailers were filled with the promise of dark humour and a twisty plot and the film actually surpassed my expectations on both fronts. Kendrick and Lively are given ample space to truly shine, and prove what brilliant actors they are with their turns in both the comedic and darker moments. 

From the moment we're introduced to Kendrick's busybody, single mum -  overcompensating with every aspect of her parenting to try and assuage the guilt she keeps locked far away and only allows out in the presence of some very strong gin martinis - the entire audience was laughing out loud.

"Doesn't every good parent have their own helium tank?"

Once you add in the gloriously chic elegance of Lively's dark Emily, (whose wardrobe and confidence I would like immediately) the film truly ignites.

" - you never let me have any fun."
"Not true. I let you tear my labia as you exited my body."

She's brash and outspoken and utterly glorious, and watching these two interact is an absolute delight. Whilst Kendrick has become known for her comedic talents, this film truly gives Lively a chance to shine as she steals almost every scene she's in. Those viewers who had dismissed her for her previous roles should sit up and take note - her performance is a revelation and I cannot wait to see what she tackles next.

The film doesn't let up, and you can feel the delight radiating off the screen. It feels like everyone involved is having an absolute ball, and it shows. Fieg dances along the line of dark humour and tension filled thriller with complete confidence and panache, defying anyone to not enjoy this crazy romp. I'm not normally a fan of thrillers, but this is pitched absolutely perfectly and roars through to the climax.

Admittedly the finale, whilst it had me breathless with anticipation, does come a little off the rails. All subtlety is forsaken for an overblown, gloriously ridiculous final act. But it works, although a few moments may have some viewers rolling their eyes.

All in all I loved it. It was smart and funny and incredibly dark and twisted at times. It's a truly glorious macabre romp that showcases both Kendrick and Lively beautifully. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it, and I'll be heading back for a re-watch in the next few days.

A Simple Favor is in UK cinemas now

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books by my favourite Authors that I still haven't read...

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

We've all done it, we've got books on our shelves that are written by some of our favourite authors, yet for one reason or another we just haven't gotten round to reading them... I'm super guilty of this because I'm a terrible mood reader, so even if I know it's an author I love, a story I'm destined to adore, and I can't wait to settle in, if I'm not in the right mood then there's just no point me picking the book up yet...

So here are ten books by authors I love that are languishing on my bookcase and I should really get on and read...

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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 adored Laini Taylor's other books, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one when it came out, so why has it sat unread on my shelf for so long?... No idea. But with the audiobook narrated by one of my favourite narrators I think this might be one that I go straight to audio to finally catch up on.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

I feel a little bit nervous about this one. On the one hand I've heard a lot of people love it. On the other I've heard some concern about the abuse in the relationship, which just makes me a little wary about going in. I will get round to it at some point, but I'm not quite there yet.

A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

London, 1888. As colourful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker.
His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumours abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.
But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past.
Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything...

I adore Deanna Raybourn's books, which means that I like to savour them a little more. I save them for when I really need them, when I need that lift and pick me up and just a bit of her very special brand of magic. So I can't wait to read this, but I'm waiting for that moment when I need to refind Veronica and Stoker the most.

The Girl with the Make Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

While you were sleeping... 
With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie...
I told everyone I was your wife 
When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbuor back in England.
If only it were true... 
Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.

It's a similar feeling for my Julia Quinn books as it is for Deanna Raybourn. I know I will love it, that's just a certainty, so I save it for when I really need that the most. Sometimes it means I pick it up straight away, other times it can be months. This one has sat on my shelf for a while, but with the upcoming release of the third book in the series, I think I'm nearing the moment when I pick this one up.

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.
Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.
But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.
With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

DeStefano's writing is fantastic, and I love getting lost in her stories. So this one is a bit of a deliberate wait, for a moment where I really need a guaranteed fantasy book to sink into and know I'm going to enjoy.

Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for peace. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bonelands.
But she soon learns that her husband, Calix, is motivated only by his desire to exterminate the Elementae—mystical people who can control earth, wind, air, and fire. Even more unsettling are Shalia’s feelings for her husband’s brother, which unleash a power over the earth she never knew she possessed—a power that could get her killed. As rumours of a rebellion against Calix spread, Shalia must choose between the last chance for peace and her own future as an Elementae.

I adored the Scarlet trilogy so much, that it's made me wary of picking up this latest book from A C Gaughen. Logically I know I'm going to love it, but there's still that fear that what if I don't?... Reviews saying I'm being silly and I'm going to love this though, so with the second book due out at the start of next year, now really is the time to get on with this one.

The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.
Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

I loved the first book in the series, but it didn't quite inspire me to launch straight into this second book when it came out. I know I'll enjoy it, I'm looking forward to reading it, but I haven't experienced that breathless urgency of needing to read it right this second.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.
Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.
But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

Another one where I loved the first book in the series but I haven't gone back to continue it yet (much to my sister-in-law's frustration...). I think part of the reluctance is seeing people in agony over having to wait for the next book (the fourth in the series) so I kind of want to wait until the series is complete and then do a full read.

Prudence by Gail Carriger

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

The Parasol Protectorate series was so good that I'm afraid to see whether Carriger's other books can possibly live up to my expectations. The answer? Almost definitely. But that doesn't stop that vague worry that has stopped me picking this series up. Soon.

Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake

Uncover the sisters’ origins, dive deep into the catastrophic reign of the Oracle Queen, and reveal layers of Fennbirn’s past, hidden until now.
The Young Queens
Get a glimpse of triplet queens Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine during a short period of time when they protected and loved one another. From birth until their claiming ceremonies, this is the story of the three sisters’ lives…before they were at stake.
The Oracle Queen
Everyone knows the legend of Elsabet, the Oracle Queen. The one who went mad. The one who orchestrated a senseless, horrific slaying of three entire houses. But what really happened? Discover the true story behind the queen who could foresee the future…just not her own downfall.

This series is absolutely brilliant, and I've been keen to read this ever since it was first released, but also reluctant. Why? Because two novellas isn't enough when I want the latest novel. However with the third book due to hit shelves in the UK at the start of next month, now is the perfect time to pick this one up at last.

So there you have my ten. What are some of your books by your favourite authors that you have yet to pick up, and why have you put them off until now?

Monday, 24 September 2018

Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Publication Date: August 28th 2018
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 285 pages

Cassidy Blake's parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.
When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

I was really excited about this book, in part because I adore Edinburgh and I was fascinated to see how Schwab portrayed one of my favourite cities, and in part to see what a middle grade novel from Schwab would look like, having read her young adult and adult offerings.

The answer? A little bit mixed. It's a brilliant concept, and I think younger readers will enjoy this spooky tale a lot more as the intended audience, but something felt like it was missing for me.
Perhaps it's just been a while since I read a middle grade book, but Cassidy is a really passive protagonist, she just allows things to happen to her and doesn't show a huge amount of interest in anything, which I found really baffling given what an exciting (also scary) situation she has found herself in.
She shows no interest in her powers, in what's really going on or actually finding answers (apart from a couple of brief moments in the story) and just is buffeted from one scene to the next.

With so little input from Cassidy is hard to really engage fully with the story, which was disappointing, but otherwise it's a perfectly good little tale. It's got just the right amount of scare factor, it shows parts of a really gorgeous city that you don't often see in younger fiction, and it looks like it could be the start of a nice series. However I don't think it's got quite enough to push me to pick up the next book when it's released.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Throne of Glass re-read: Throne of Glass

Publication Date: August 2nd 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 404 pages

Meet Celaena Sardothien.
Beautiful. Deadly.
Destined for greatness.
In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

Who would have thought, when I first opened the package with my review copy of Throne of Glass, that I would be here,  six years later, about to come to the end of this staggering series, and completely in love?
I wouldn't. I was predisposed to dislike the book. Here was an author who already had a massive following for this story when she'd self published online, was younger than me and incredibly beautiful. But I'd been sent this ARC to review, so with a resigned sigh I opened up the book and...
Well I didn't stop reading. I devoured the entire thing in one sitting, and then cried because oh god I now had to wait for the sequel and that just Wasn't Fair.

My snap judgements were not only completely unfair (I was going through a particularly bad time so this achievement from someone younger than me felt like a huge kick in the teeth) but also completely unfounded, because this series was magic. And whilst you don't understand in this first book quite what a ride you're actually going to be in for over the course of the series, it's still an excellent first step.

Going back now and re-familiarising myself with this world, I am struck once again by what a brilliant writer Maas is. She captures that frustrating cockiness, that self assuredness that Celaena holds herself with - part coping mechanism and part the armour of youth. She has such faith in her abilities, in her place in the world, and that can be frustrating to read (I admit to wanting to take her down a peg or two at points) but put together as a whole with the rest of the series, it shows her character development as she matures, and with hindsight becomes even more impressive.

I love the sheltered feel of the first book. The action is confined to the castle, to the competition, and you're allowed to take the time to get to know these characters and how they interact and respond. It's quieter than the rest of the series, but filled with the sense of malice that grows to shape the final battle, and then to set up the rest of the series.

A lot of people find this book frustrating and don't truly get into the series until book two or three, yet I found myself loving it from the first page. It's safe to come back to, without some of the higher stakes you find in later books. It's wonderful to see that development, to see the little breadcrumbs that Maas leaves the reader to pick up about the layers and threads she's weaving into this series as a whole.

If you've tried this book and found yourself not engaging, or finding Celaena too frustrating, I urge you to try again. A lot of her immaturity and arrogance smooths as her character grows over the series, and you'll discover a much deeper story than what this first book appears on the surface. Stick with it, you'll be rewarded.

And as for my re-read? It's simply cemented my love for this series and her writing as one of my all time loves. I adore it, and it's nice to re-experience it and to sink back into this world from the beginning.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Publication Date: February 6th 2018
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 465

Arram. Varice. Ozorne. In the first book in the Numair Chronicles, three student mages are bound by fate . . . fated for trouble.Arram Draper is a boy on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram begins to realize that one day soon he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie. 
In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair SalmalĂ­n came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.

This review actually breaks my heart a little to write. Because I grew up on Tamora Pierce books. The Song of the Lioness Quartet shaped and defined the reader I was growing up to be, and nothing will ever break my love for that. I've had mixed feelings to some of the books of hers I've read since, but nothing quite like what I felt reading "Tempests and Slaughter", because much as I hate to say it? This book was bad.

It felt as though Pierce was trying to recapture the magic she created with Alanna, and showing Alanna growing and learning and becoming the person she was meant to be. What we got was an endless dirge of absolutely nothing happening. Sure Arram learns some magic, he meets some people, but nothing actually happens until the last little bit, and even then it's not really explored or developed properly. This book took me weeks to read, because I was so insanely bored reading it that I had to keep putting it down and reading something else for a bit.

And that is heartbreaking to admit.

I wanted to love this book. I wanted to find out more about how Numair came to be Numair, but what I got was this endless list cycle of days upon days with no real point or drive or plot. That was the crux of it, that whilst Pierce may have wanted to show Arram/Numair's formative years, she didn't actually have a story, and so the book meanders along with nothing happening, and without anything truly happening there isn't a lot of room for you to see the characters as fully fleshed out people. Which leads to flat characters and the reader just not caring about them.

I don't know if I'm going to bother continuing with this series when the next book comes out. On the one hand, it's Tamora Pierce and my inner eleven year old wants to read everything she writes. On the other, I don't want to ruin my love of her earlier books by reading a series that is crushing in its blandness.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Fall 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!

There's always a flurry of excellent books scheduled for release in the autumn, which is great for my voracious reader, less great for my bank balance... But here are ten books coming out over the next few months that I cannot wait to get my little mitts on and read this autumn!

The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli
September 27th 2018

Once there were two sisters born with a bond so strong that it forged them together forever. When they were angry, mirrors shattered, and when they were happy, flowers bloomed. It was a magic they cherished - until the day a terrible accident took Essie's life and trapped her soul in this world.
Dax - the heir to Firgaard's throne - was responsible for the accident. Roa swore to hate him forever. But eight years later he returned, begging for her help. He was determined to dethrone his cruel father, under whose oppressive reign Roa's people had suffered. Roa made him a deal: she'd give him the army he needed if he made her queen.
Together with Dax and his sister, Asha, Roa and her people waged war and deposed a tyrant. But now Asha is on the run, hiding from the price on her head. And Roa is an outlander queen, far from home and married to her enemy. Worst of all: Dax's promises go unfulfilled. Roa's people continue to suffer.
Then a chance to right every wrong arises - an opportunity for Roa to rid herself of this enemy king and rescue her beloved sister. During the Relinquishing, when the spirits of the dead are said to return, Roa can reclaim her sister for good.
All she has to do is kill the king.

I adored the first book "The Last Namsara" and have eagerly thrust it upon friends going read this now so it's no surprise that this book is on my to read pile, and pretty near the top. Let's face it, I'll be diving straight into it as soon as I get my hands on it...

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.
As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

I need to catch up on the first book. It's been sat on my shelves for far, far too long. It's one of those strange ones where you know you're going to love it, but you're saving it for the moment you need it most. However the audiobook is read by one of my favourite narrators, so the temptation to launch into the audiobook instead is strong... Either way, I'm excited about the sequel.

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

The battle has been fought, blood has been spilt and a queen has been crowned, but not all are happy with the outcome.
Katharine, the poisoner queen, has been crowned and is trying to ignore the whispers that call her illegitimate, undead, cursed.
Mirabella and Arsinoe have escaped the island of Fennbirn, but how long before the island calls them back?
Jules is returning to Fennbirn and has become the unlikely figurehead of a revolution threatening to topple Katharine's already unsteady rule.
But what good is a revolution if something is wrong with the island itself?

Words cannot express how much I love this series. It was such a sneaky little book that crept up on me and then hit me over the head with its gloriousness. I adore this world, I love the characters, and I cannot wait to get back to Fennbirn.
The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. 
When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling—and who gets to be the storyteller.

This intrigues me. I know nothing about it bar what's in the blurb, but it just appeals. Bad ass lady assassins? Yes. Please.

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.
And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.
As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

I'm not ready. I will never be ready for this series to be over. But after the devastation of "Empire of Storms" and the fantastic world building in "Tower of Dawn" I cannot wait to get back to this world. In the mean time I'm keeping myself occupied with a re-read so the heartbreak is super fresh going in...

39943647Fire & Blood by George R R Martin

With all the fire and fury fans have come to expect from internationally bestselling author George R. R. Martin, this is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros.
Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel and featuring more than eighty all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley. Readers have glimpsed small parts of this narrative in such volumes as The World of Ice & Fire, but now, for the first time, the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.

I just love Westeros, I'm fascinated by this world Martin has created, and more of the history is always a good thing. Plus, Targaryens and dragons. What more could one want from an autumn read?

The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
November 20th 2018

She was in the wrong place...
Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers' hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain's bed…

He found her at the wrong time...
Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he's stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he's stuck with her. 
Can two wrongs make the most perfect right?
When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew's secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…?

Julia Quinn is an auto buy author for me. Her books have got me through lots of tough times, and they are guaranteed to give me all the warm fuzzy feelings. Any book she writes is an immediate must read, and this latest will be no exception.

And finally, three books that are already out but I cannot wait to curl up with this autumn.

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.
The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.
With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.

Thanks Bookstagram for highlighting this gorgeous book! I picked up a gorgeous copy with pretty sprayed pages at YALC this year, and I've been waiting for a good moment to sit down with it and lose myself in the story.

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.
For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.
For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

Another Bookstagram offering - I kept seeing beautiful pictures involving this one, and then the reviews started living up to the hype created by the cover, and I am now thoroughly intrigued.

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons get to be whomever they want. Tess, stubbornly, is a troublemaker. You can’t make a scene at your sister’s wedding and break a relative’s nose with one punch (no matter how pompous he is) and not suffer the consequences. As her family plans to send her to a nunnery, Tess yanks on her boots and sets out on a journey across the Southlands, alone and pretending to be a boy.
Where Tess is headed is a mystery, even to her. So when she runs into an old friend, it’s a stroke of luck. This friend is a quigutl—a subspecies of dragon—who gives her both a purpose and protection on the road. But Tess is guarding a troubling secret. Her tumultuous past is a heavy burden to carry, and the memories she’s tried to forget threaten to expose her to the world in more ways than one.

I adored "Seraphina" (although I don't want to talk about "Shadow Scale") and I'm really curious to see what this latest book by Hartman is like. I've heard good things, and I'm looking forward to it, but... Part of me is terrified I will feel more like I did after "Shadow Scale" than "Seraphina" when I read it. With that in mind it's sat on my to read pile for a while, but I'm looking forward to a blanket, a pot of tea, and an afternoon finally reading it.

So those are my top ten books for the autumn, what are yours? Tell me some that you think I should add to my to read pile in the comments!