Thursday, 28 February 2019

Books I'm Squeeing About in March

Only a few books that I can't wait for this month, although I'll probably find some more as the month goes on... However here are the three books releasing this month that have piqued my interest and I can't wait to read. Including two story continuations from favourite books from last year!

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
March 1st 2019

Keralie Corrington is a talented pickpocket in the kingdom of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can't get in their own quadrant. For Quadara is a nation divided into four regions, each strictly separated from the other. Toria, the intellectual quadrant values education and ambition. Ludia, the pleasure quadrant values celebration and passion. Archia, the agricultural quadrant, values simplicity and nature. Eonia, the futurist quadrant values technology, stoicism and harmonious community. Four queens, one from each quadrant, rule as one. When on Mackiel's orders Keralie steals a particularly valuable item from a messenger, what seems like a routine theft goes horribly wrong. Keralie discovers she's intercepted instructions to murder the queens. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit-valuable information that she can barter with-Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the messenger she stole from, to complete his delivery and uncover the would-be murderer. But with Keralie and Varin each keeping secrets-and the lives of the queens hanging in the balance-everything is at stake, and no one can be trusted.

This does feel like it has echoes of several other books, but I'm a sucker for fantasy world building, thievery, and murder plots, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how this one stands up to my excitement.

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.
Finally! I feel as though I've been waiting for this one for ages! I absolutely adored the first book in this series "The Queen's Rising" and it went straight onto my favourite reads from the year, with a very impatient and excited need to get hold of the second book immediately. Finally the time has come - read this series!

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
March 7th 2019

Camellia Beaureguard is a Belle. She can make you beautiful. Though there is always a cost. With a price on her head, the evil Queen Sophia out for blood, and no idea who to trust, Camellia must race against time to find the ailing Princess Charlotte, who has disappeared without a trace. Sophia's imperial forces will stop at nothing to keep Camellia, her sister Edel, and her loyal guard, Rémy, from returning Charlotte to the palace and her rightful place as queen. With the help of a secretive resistance movement called the Iron Ladies - a society that rejects beauty treatments entirely - and the backing of underground newspaper the
Spider's Web, Camellia must use her powers, her connections, and her cunning to outwit her greatest nemesis, Sophia, and restore peace to Orléans.

The Belles was one of my surprise loves of last year, and it left me on a desperate cliff hanger needing to find out what happened. It's stuck with me for a year, and now it's nearly time to see what happens next. I really recommend picking up The Belles if you haven't yet.

Are any of these catching your eye? And are there any you think I should pick up this month? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Places I want to visit after reading about them

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

I've gotten a lot of my wanderlust from reading - there's nothing like a well written book that opens up new places and makes you want to go and visit them for yourself. Some of them I've already managed to visit, but there are still plenty on my wish list!

Here are five places that I would absolutely love to visit, and the books (and in one case TV show) that have inspired that.

"I Love Capri" by Belinda Jones

One day, I will get there. This book has inspired my desperate yearning to visit Capri for nearly twenty years. I loved all of Belinda's books and exploring these romantic and beautiful places, but something about this book and the descriptions of Capri, has set off a desperate desire to see the place for myself. Who knows, maybe this year will finally be the year I escape to Capri...

New York
"City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare
This was the first book where I really felt an attachment to this city, where I found myself wanting to experience this slightly crazy place for myself. The seeds were planted many years ago reading "Drina dances in New York" by Jean Estoril - as well as wanting to sail there instead of flying, but that's beside the point... But it was with this book that that really flowered into a desperate need to see this city for myself instead of through the eyes of other people.

"Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden
Ok, Japan is quite a large area compared to the other more specific places on this list, but it's more a specific event that I want to experience, and this book was the start of that. I desperately want to see the cherry blossom trees one spring. Every description, every instance in fiction, cements that desire, and the certainty that it would be one of the most beautiful things to witness.

"Dragonfly in Amber" by Diana Gabaldon
There have been several books exploring Versailles, but none has stuck with me like this one. I want to see this incredible place for myself, wander the halls, see all the opulence, and then find myself an incredible dress to waft around pretending I'm royalty for a while...

New Orleans
TV: The Originals / "The Casquette Girls" by Alys Arden
It just looks and sounds like such an incredible city, and I want to meander the French Quarter for myself. Over the course of five seasons of the show, New Orleans came to feel a bit like another home - and I wanted nothing more than to go and explore these streets for myself. Reading The Casquette Girls only cemented that feeling.

And five that I've managed to tick off already.

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone" by Laini Taylor

Although I was incredibly sad not to be able to visit Poison (it's now a karaoke bar) it was still incredibly exciting to wander the streets of Prague and try and find some of the places that Karou goes to.

"Anna and the French Kiss" by Stephanie Perkins
Anna exploring Paris was exactly what I needed to make living in France less scary. So when I had the chance to take a few days to explore the city for myself, I was incredibly excited. Seeing all these places that Anna had described for me, and chasing in her footsteps was such a fun experience.

"Dragonfly in Amber" by Diana Gabaldon
Alright, technically I had already visited Edinburgh (a lot) before I read "Dragonfly in Amber", but I happened to read this book whilst I was staying there. I read the chapters set in Holyrood Palace, and then spent the following day wandering the Palace for myself. There's something incredibly exciting about being able to find the places in reality after reading them in fiction.

Too many books to count...
Venice has always been on my desperate wish list. From exploring it in Belinda Jones' "The Love Academy" to more recent excursions in "The Book of Life" by Deborah Harkness. It was one of those magical places that I was terrified couldn't live up to my imaginings. Yet it did. It was an astonishing, incredible, wonderful place to visit. Full of colour and life and magic, it opened up before me as though lifted from my dreams.

"A Game of Thrones" by George R R Martin
Alright, technically this is based on the TV show, I admit. But after seeing so many of these incredible places stand in for locations in Weteros and Essos, I was desperate to see them in real life. It was incredible and really surreal to find the steps outside the sept of Baelor, to see the view from the blacksmiths that Gendry worked at, and to visit the insanely beautiful and peaceful island of Lokrum to find the Qarth garden party.

There you have mine, now tell me some of yours! What are some places you've been inspired to visit because of books you've read? And are there any you'd still love to go to? Tell me in the comments below!

Friday, 22 February 2019

Review: China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Publication date: June 16th 2015
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Pages: 378

On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiance willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won't be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore's It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia's most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it's like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

Well that was a waste of time.

I felt mixed about the first book in the trilogy "Crazy Rich Asians", where I both guiltily enjoyed it and felt like it lost the plot towards the end of the book. However, I enjoyed the film a lot more than the book, and it was that that made me want to have a look at the second novel and see what happens next in this crazy world.

Ultimately? Nothing. It felt like a complete waste of time, where the majority of the plot is crammed into the first bit of the novel, and the final fifteen percent, whilst the middle is just one long protracted look at all these very rich people and the clothes they're wearing.

I really loved the sparkling wit and the relationships of the first book, but that was all entirely absent in this second trip out. I had to push myself to keep reading and finish the book, and by the end was just incredibly relieved it was over at last. I didn't like the characters, they were flat and stilted this time and without that emotional connection any desire to see what happens was crushed.

Will I go back for the final book? Probably. But I imagine it will take a long time for me to forget the sheer awfulness of this one before I gear myself up for the final instalment.

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!