Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Belles

Wow! It's been a while! I've been very busy editing two novels and haven't had much time for anything else. But I'm giving myself a few days off from writing to catch up on other things, like blogging and reading. I've read some superb fantasy novels over the past few months which I'm excited to finally get reviews down for. 

I'm starting with The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton.

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful. {goodreads}

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld has been one of my favourite books for a long time, but The Belles took everything I loved about Uglies and made it even better. I adored this novel. It explores society's obsession with beauty and appearance, and has amazing characterisation, friendships and superb world building. 

I'm obsessed with all the tiny details that made the world so realistic. The post balloons were my favourite; I would love to see them interpreted in a film version. 

This year, I've been reading more like a writer and one of the things which really struck me about The Belles was how tight the plot was: it hit all the right places with its highs and lows and it is a superb example of exactly how you should write a book - but that's not to say it's in anyway formulaic or unoriginal - far from it. 

The Belles was innovative, surprising and utterly captivating. While I don't think it's a world I want to move to, it's definitely one I want to read more about.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Cruel Prince

I owe @JennieLy huge thanks for sending me a signed copy of this book, which I devoured in a few days. If I could have done nothing but read for twenty-four hours I would have finished this in one go. 

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.” 

Jude and her sisters were abducted as young children and taken to the High Court of Faerie. Instead of hating her new home, Jude wants nothing more than to belong. With politics, danger, action and complex relationships, The Cruel Prince is a novel not to be missed. 

"You may win in the end, you may ensorcell me and hurt me and humiliate me, but I will make sure you lose everything I can take from you on the way down."

The world building in this novel was superb; it made me yearn for childhood fairytales. It was dark, cruel and believable despite its fantastical elements. Jude was a brilliant main character - she was flawed and difficult. Everyone in this novel is morally grey, so you never knew who you could trust. 

“I stand in front of my window and imagine myself a fearless knight, imagine myself a witch who hid her heart in her finger and then chopped her finger off.”  

There were elements of Jude and Cardan's relationship (if you can call it that) which reminded me of Pride and Prejudice, although this was far from being a fantasy YA retelling. 

"Like taking a dare to run over knives, like an adrenaline strike of lightning, like the moment when you've swum too far out in the sea and there is no going back, only cold black water closing over your head."

I can't believe I have to wait a whole year to know what happens next. I can see this being one of my top reads of 2018.  

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

2018: part three

For the past two weeks, I've posted about the books I'm most looking forward to reading this year. Here are the final three, two of which are by the amazing Louise O'Neil. 

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard.

So it doesn't matter that he's twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she's sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him.

Sarah's friends are worried. Her father can't understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she's on the verge of losing her job.

But Sarah can't help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew.

And love is supposed to hurt.

Isn't it?

I can't find a cover or synopsis yet for this on Goodreads, unfortunately, but the sampler they gave out at YALC was gorgeous (we spent ages looking for it). I love fairy-tale retellings and I love O'Neil's work, so this is one I can't wait to start!

Told from the perspective of each character and a mysterious narrator, Floored is about all the ups and downs of life.

After they go through a traumatic experience together, the lives of six strangers become intertwined, and they decide to meet once a year to commemorate the day they met and the person they lost.

Another YALC sampler I can't stop thinking about is Floored, which is a collaboration between some amazing UKYA authors. It's told form multiple perspectives (each character voiced by a different author) and I really can't wait to find out what happens next in it!

Which books are you most looking forward to reading in 2018? Let me know in the comments. 

Saturday, 13 January 2018

PopSugar 2018 Challenge

After realising I'd done so well on PopSugar's 2017 reading challenge last week, I'm feeling inspired to have a go at 2018's. Here's this year's list and the novels I think I'll be using to complete it.

A book made into a movie you’ve already seen
True crime
The next book in a series you started {Tower of Dawn}
A book involving a heist
Nordic noir
A novel based on a real person
A book set in a country that fascinates you {The Belles}
A book with a time of day in the title
A book about a villain or anti-hero
A book about death or grief {Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index}
A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym
A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist {Out of the Blue}
A book that is also a stage play or musical
A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you {Warcross}
A book about feminism
A book about mental health
A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift {The Book of Dust}
A book by two authors
A book about or involving a sport
A book by a local author
A book with your favorite colour in the title
A book with alliteration in the title
A book about time travel
A book with a weather element in the title
A book set at sea {The Surface Breaks}
A book with an animal in the title {Catwoman: Soulstealer}
A book set on a different planet
A book with song lyrics in the title
A book about or set on Halloween
A book with characters who are twins {One}
A book mentioned in another book
A book from a celebrity book club
A childhood classic you’ve never read {I capture the castle}
A book that’s published in 2018 {Batman: Nightwalker}
A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner
A book set in the decade you were born
A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to {Always and Forever, Lara Jean}
A book with an ugly cover
A book that involves a book store or library
Your favourite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges

Are you taking part this year? If so, which books are you planning to read for the different categories? I really struggled to come up with titles for this, so it would be great to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

2018: part two

Last week, I posted about two of my most-anticipated books for this year. Here are the next two:


Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

I've been looking forward to this since I first heard about it. Orïsha sounds fascinating and I can't wait to read more about it. 

A people cowed by grief and darkness.
A cut-throat race for power and victory.
A girl with everything and nothing to lose…

Sorrow all but rules the Court of Tears, in a land gripped by perpetual grief, forever mourning her brother who died just days before Sorrow was born. By day she governs in place of her father, by night she seeks secret solace in the arms of the boy she's loved since childhood. But when her brother is seemingly found alive, and intent on taking control, Sorrow has to choose whether to step aside for a stranger who might not be who he claims to be, or embark on a power struggle for a position she never really wanted.

I loved the world Salisbury created in the Sin Eater's Daughter and, after reading the sampler of this given out at YALC, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy State of Sorrow just as much. 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

PopSugar 2017 Challenge

So I didn't complete this year's challenge, but I didn't do too badly either. Here's what I managed to complete:

A book recommended by a librarian
A book that's been on your TBR list forever {Snow Like Ashes}
A book of letters
An audiobook
A book by a person of colour {We Should All be Feminists}
A book with one of the four seasons in the title
A book that is a story within a story {The Next Together}
A book with multiple authors
An espionage thriller
A book with a cat on the cover
A book by an author who uses a pseudonym {Jane Eyre}
A bestseller from a genre you don't usually read {American Gods}
A book by or about a person who has a disability {Crooked Kingdom}
A book involving travel {A Gathering of Shadows}
A book with a subtitle
A book that's published in 2017 {Carve the Mark}
A book involving a mythical creature {Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them}
A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile {Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone}
A book about food {The Weekend Baker}
A book with career advice {Structuring Your Novel}
A book from a nonhuman perspective {Strange the Dreamer - sort of? Maybe stretching this one a bit... My other option is A Court of Wings and Ruin, since that's about fae...}
A steampunk novel
A book with a red spine {The Power}
A book set in the wilderness {Loneliest Girl in the Universe? Space is a wilderness of sorts...}
A book you loved as a child 
A book by an author from a country you've never visited {Way Down Dark}
A book with a title that's a character's name {Anna and the French Kiss}
A novel set during wartime 
A book with an unreliable narrator {One of Us is Lying}
A book with pictures {one of the many, many picture books I read this year...}
A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you {The Hate U Give}
A book about an interesting woman {The Essex Serpent}
A book set in two different time periods {The Next Together - cheating slightly by using this one twice!}
A book with a month or day of the week in the title
A book set in a hotel {Unconventional}
A book written by someone you admire {The Cursed Child}
A book that's becoming a movie in 2017 {American Gods - cheating again here as it was a TV show, not a film}
A book set around a holiday other than Christmas 
The first book in a series you haven't read before {This Raging Light}
A book you bought on a trip {Alex and Eliza}

So I had to use one novel twice, but this is much better than 2016's effort. Plus there are lots of books I read this year that didn't fit into any of the categories. 

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

2018: New year, new books

There are some brilliant books coming out this year. Some of these titles I found out about at YALC, others I've seen a lot of buzz about on twitter. All of them sound amazing. I've narrowed it down to a top six, and I'm going to post about two each week. 


Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Would you look at that cover? So pretty. I read an excerpt of this on EW a few months ago and I can't wait to read the rest. The Belles easily tops my list of most-anticipated novels of 2018. 

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

Another beautiful cover and a really exciting concept. It reminds me a bit of the film In Time, and I'm hoping Everless will be just as exciting.