naughty or nice book tag // ’tis the season to be joy fa-lalala

naughty or nice book tag

Christmas is only two days away which seems completely ridiculous – almost as ridiculous as the fact it is two days before Christmas and I haven’t done a holiday book tag at all yet! That changes today!

I’ve been seeing this book tag everywhere and I just couldn’t resist giving it ago! I have this strange feeling I’m going to be on the naughty list this year…..

The original tag was created by the fantastic Jenn @ Jenniely and you all should definitely go and give her some love if you’re not already! Also a big thank you to Beth @ Reading Every Night and Kelly @ Just Another Book In The Wall whose own posts for this book tag inspired me to do my own!


Received an ARC and not reviewed it?

Um, yeah. I’ve tried my hardest to read and review every ARC I request or receive but I have terrible time management and read by mood, which means I suck terribly at this.

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Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley?

Another yes. See above for the reason why. Whoops.

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Rated a book on goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)?

Actually, no. I only review books on goodreads if I’ve written a full review on my blog. I feel like I need to have all my ideas written out and decided upon before I start rating how I feel about a book.

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Folded down the page of a book?

I would never deface a book like this (anymore)!

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Accidentally spilled on a book?

I haven’t as of yet but the year isn’t over yet and I am incredibly clumsy so….

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DNF a book this year?

Nope! I’ve actually had a good run with reading this year (when I wasn’t in a slump).

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Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it?

Only once. I have a special edition of Peter Pan and its beautiful with loads of things to touch and interact with but I will never touch it in case I break something.

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Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework)?

All the time. I am the worst procrastinator.

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Skim read a book?

Yeah, usually when I’m trying to get to the end of my page before the train pulls in at my stop.

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Completely missed your Goodreads goal?

Unfortunately yes.

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Borrowed a book and not returned it?

I would never! If someone did that to me, I would be heartbroken.

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Broke a book buying ban?

Every single time.

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Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about?

…Let’s just say in a few days, you’ll be reading the result of this.

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Wrote in a book you were reading?

For school, yes, but never for leisure reading.

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Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads?

Nah. I might add it late, but I’ll add it at some point.

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Borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend?

Same thing as before, I would be so sad if someone did this to me so no.

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Dodged someone asking if they can borrow a book?

Probably. Usually, children at work asking. I trust them but not that much.

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Broke the spine of someone else’s book?

Never! I try my hardest not to break the spine of any book.

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Took the jacket off a book to protect it and ended up making it more damaged?

Nope! I have however spend a day trying to protect a book from damage and then rip the jacket on the journey home from work. It was quite distressing.

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Sat on a book accidentally?

Yeah. I don’t always look where I’m sitting.

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And the final score is *drum roll* …..

10/20

 

So I am on the naughty list – I called that one! It was very close though, I’ll have to do better next year! How many of you ended up on the book lover naughty list?

If you want to do this, I am tagging you! Drop me a comment when you’ve made your post so I can check it out!


happy reading

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review: the poppy war by r.f. kuang

35068705flower bannerTitle: The Poppy War

Author: R. F. Kuang

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: May 1st 2018

Pages: 544

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Poppy War is a ridiculously intense, brutal and nerve-wracking work with so many twists and turns and moments that made you gasp and wince. It is immersive, completely absorbing and succeeds in keeping you hooked from beginning to end.

I had heard so much about this book before I picked it up. It had been circulating online – Instagram, booktube, other book blogs – and the more I read about it, the more desperate I was to get my hands on it. A fantasy based on Japanese and Chinese history? Yes please! Incredibly luckily, I managed to find an ARC copy to download on NetGalley.

And boy, was it worth the wait!

One of the main reasons that The Poppy War is so entertaining is the multitude of engaging characters that can be found on every page. Rin, as the main character, definitely steals the show. Her voice is so strong and consistent, growing in depths with her journey throughout the course of the book. You understand her struggles and confusions, her anger and her happiness which all add to making the difficult decision at the end of the book all the more powerful.

All the characters managed to have this strength, the good and the bad. The motives and reasoning for each character’s actions are interesting whether you agree with them or not. It was especially interesting to read about how they grew and changed over the course of the book, making it feel incredibly organic and real. This was reflected in the relationships between characters too, friendships growing and enemies being made in one moment and then quickly changing within pages. This also helps keep the pace as it is quite a hefty book.

Another strength is the worldbuilding. This land is so well described from its physical appearance to its history and its people – no piece of information is missed out and really makes these seem like a real place. This is definitely one of the places where Kuang’s research into Japanese and Chinese history has paid off!

But despite the amount of detail, it doesn’t seem overwhelming or affects the pace, which is a real benefit to the writing. In particular, most of the information is given to you in the training chapters, when Rin herself is learning and growing and becoming more aware of the world outside of the tiny town she grew up in.

Kuang’s descriptions are incredibly visceral – which is both a strength and a weakness. Most of the book is about war and with war comes atrocities. Kuang does not shy away from them. This book is not for the faint-hearted or easily squeamish. As someone who doesn’t usually react to such grotesque imagery in books, I did have to stop in one particular section (and if you’ve read this book, you know what I’m talking about) just because the harsh reality of what was being described was so horrific that I needed a few moments to settle myself.

Overall, I adored The Poppy War. I have been in a massive reading and reviewing slump recently, and this was the book that dragged me out of it. If you like South East Asian history, if you like fantasy and magical worlds, if you like epics and character growth, this is definitely the book for you. At the moment, it seems to be shaping to be a fantastic story with at least one more book already announced and I cannot wait to read it!


Have you read The Poppy War? What did you think? If you haven’t, has this review made you want to pick the book up or not? Let me know what you think in the comments!


happy reading

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book review: white rabbit red wolf by tom pollock

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Title: White Rabbit, Red Wolf

Author: Tom Pollock

Publisher: Walker Books

Release Date: May 3rd 2018

Pages: 400

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

White Rabbit, Red Wolf follows Peter Blankman, a maths prodigy dealing with a severe anxiety disorder who ends up tangled within lies and conspiracies after an attempted assassination attempt on his scientist mother. This is an immensely entertaining read, full of twists and turns that have you questioning who can be trusted and who can’t.

I am a big supporter of books about characters with mental health disorders done well, and this is definitely one of them. Throughout the book, there is a focus on Peter’s coping mechanisms that help him cope with day to day life – ways of coping that are healthy and beneficial in the long run – as well as showing him overcoming what he perceives to be limitations. And what’s great is that this book isn’t specifically about that – it isn’t about Peter’s mental health and yet it is woven into the story so well that it all fits seamlessly.

There is also the character of Ingrid, who suffers from OCD – in the book, it mostly manifests as an overwhelming need to wash her hands. The interactions between Ingrid and Peter feel important because they are both from the same place, helping each other to overcome what is holding them back and acting as a support network at the worst of times. It is very rare to read a book with multiple characters with mental health conditions.

I also enjoyed Anabel as a character. She’s Peter’s twin and acts as his constant to keep him grounded. She encourages him to do things he may have avoided and overcome his fears, as well as protect him from the dangers of the world. She’s a badass lady, ridiculously strong and a force to be reckoned with.

I don’t want to give too much away about Anabel, Peter or Ingrid as their characters drive the story, but as the story processes, all three have a secret revealed that complete turns everything on its head, and makes you questions who and what they really are.

I have to admit my first impression of White Rabbit, Red Wolf was one of confusion. It is a book that has not a slow build but a convoluted one. It raises a ton of questions almost immediately, definitely keeps you hooked, but it took over half of the book before I could truly say that I understood what was going on.

Pollock’s writing style had a lot to do with this. It is quite dense, with lots of description, mimicking Peter’s very unique way of thinking. It is a benefit and a hindrance, as when you first pick this book up, you might feel overwhelmed. But believe me, it is worth pushing through that as the world you will be immersed in is wonderfully humourous and dark, filling you with question after question.

And as for the ending…well, I had to reread it a few times just to make sure.

White Rabbit, Red Wolf is an intense thriller in a way that I didn’t originally expect, but found myself enjoying entirely. Pollock’s writing can take some getting used to, but it’s worth it for the end result. I would recommend this to someone who enjoys conspiracy theories, enjoys having their expectations to be challenged and wants some genuinely brilliant mental health representation.


Have you read White Rabbit, Red Wolf? What did you think? If you haven’t, has this review made you want to pick the book up or not? Let me know what you think in the comments!


happy reading

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www wednesday: june 20th 2018

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Welcome to WWW Wednesday, a weekly bookish meme host by Sam @ Taking On The World Of Words, where I will speak about my reading plans for this week!


The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Between The Blade And The Heart by Amanda Hocking36404186

I’m just over halfway through this book right now and I am enjoying this book so much. I’ve had the ARC for this book sitting on my desk for months now and I’m honestly kicking myself that I didn’t pick it up sooner. I’ll speak more about this book in a review once I have finished it entirely (perhaps, I’ll do a series review as I received the sequel as an ARC last week) but if you haven’t picked up this series yet, you will enjoy yourself!

 


What did you recently finish reading?

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Legendary by Stephenie Garber

As I mentioned last week, this is a sequel I have been super excited for, from a series that holds a special place in my heart as Caraval was the first book review I ever made on this blog. Legendary did not disappoint at all! A more detailed review is coming – hopefully up by the end of the week/beginning of next – but just know, if you enjoyed reading Caraval, you will enjoy this book.

 


What do you think you’ll be reading next?

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I still have books from last week, such as The Poppy War and White Rabbit, Red Wolf but here are two others that have been added to my TBR that I hope I get through soon!

1. From The Earth To The Shadows by Amanda Hocking

This is the sequel to Between The Heart And The Blade, a book I’ve already said that I adore. I received this on June 9th – my birthday in fact! – and since I have started the first book and I have been loving it, I have no doubt that I will want to start this book as soon as possible!

2. Ruthless Magic by Meghan Crewe

This is a book I have received through NetGalley. I adore magic and urban fantasy – this book seems to hit all those checkpoints that would make me pick up this book. I’m interested in giving this new book – and new author – a shot!


What books did you recently finish reading? What do you plan on reading next?
Tell me in the comments!

book review: to kill a kingdom by alexandra christo

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Title: To Kill A Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Publisher: Feiwel Friends

Release Date: March 6th 2018

Pages: 342

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Personally, I love retellings, especially retellings that are made darker than the disney versions of the stories. This is a Little Mermaid retelling but with a brutal heart stealing siren and a pirate, siren hunting prince, and I loved every moment of reading it.

Alexandra Christo’s writing is wonderfully immersive. She describes settings and people and creatures in such vibrant ways that it is really easy to imagine what these places and people look like. She is also good at getting the emotion across. Part of the story involves the main character, Lira, growing into who she really is rather than the person she has been perceived to be, even by herself, and you could really see those moments of indecision and realisation as the book went on.

Christo wrote the book from two points of the view – our siren, Lira, and our prince, Elian. The point of view shifts wasn’t obvious at first since there was no indication before the chapter started nor was there any pattern to it, so you mostly noticed shifts through setting changes, but as the book continued on, the distinct voices of these characters became stronger and telling them apart was a lot easier.

The two points of view really worked in this book as both characters come from two drastically different backgrounds, both having to come to different realisations, that if it had only focused on the mind of one character over the other the story would have been a lot weaker.

The character of Lira was strong, brutal and downright badass at times. Her character development across the book was great as she overcame her prejudices and what she thought she always wanted. It felt real and genuine and in terms of stepping out from her mother’s oppressing shadow, she was quite relatable.

I loved Elian character. Maybe it’s the idea of the pirate prince but his personal conflicts were so interesting to read about. There was so much he had to deal with on a personal level in the course of this book that it just made me want things to work out for him, as a pirate, as a prince, as Lira’s future consort. I would definitely want another book just based on Elian’s exploits as a pirate, both before the events of the book and after – especially because this would mean I get to read even more about Kye and Madrid.

As for the relationship between Lira and Elian, it has what every relationship needs – chemistry. They fit so well together in terms of experiences, wants for themselves and having to deal with the weight of other people’s expectations. Their banter was sarcastic and humorous. Neither bowed to the other because they cared about each other, they were aware of their own strengths as well as each other, which is what made them strong enough to defeat the big, bad Siren Queen.

Downfalls of the book are limited – I can only think of two. The fight scene towards the end of the book was quite drawn out, difficult to pinpoint in places, which meant the climactic scene was, at times, layered with confusion. There was also a limited amount of world building in comparison to the amount of history that the story actually hinted at. It was like just the brushing of a surface so you get just enough information, but the teasing hints just make you want to find out more and, since the foundation of a few plot points is this worldbuilding, it would have been nice to read, however, I am aware this could have slowed the book down drastically.

Overall, To Kill A Kingdom was a wildly entertaining book with fantastic characters. I want more of the world and more of the characters. I enjoyed Alexrando Christo’s writing style, and I can’t wait to read her future work!


Have you read To Kill A Kingdom? What did you think? Tell me in the comments.


happy reading

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six for sunday: monochrome books

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Welcome to Six for Sunday, a weekly meme hosted by Steph @ A Little But A Lot.  This weeks theme is: Monochrome Books.


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1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – my favourite children’s book by far! I love the rough sketches in this edition of the book which really adds to the creepy mood.

2. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – a book I still haven’t gotten around to finish but desperately want to!

3. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – I have this book but I’m not overly fussed about reading it at the moment. I love the cover though, the single girl and the greyscale image makes it seem like it was taken during a 1950s Freak Show, adding this strange illusion of uncomfortableness.

4. Caroline by Neil Gaiman – this isn’t my favourite Caroline cover, but it does make it look as if it is from the end cards at a Forcible and Spink movie!

5. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman – a book that I read ages ago, back when I was in primary school, but I remember loving it at the time and this cover is iconic.

6. The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman – a beautiful book cover, not entirely monochrome but the lack of bold colours featured here really keeps to theme and makes Chris Riddell’s artwork stand out!

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What do you think of my choices? Have you read any of these books?

Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

www wednesday: june 13th 2018

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Welcome to WWW Wednesday, a weekly bookish meme host by Sam @ Taking On The World Of Words. This is my first time trying out this bookish event – the beginning of many to come I hope, as I speak about my current reading plans.


The Three W’s are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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Legendary by Stephanie Garber

The first book in this series Caraval was not only Stephanie Garber’s debut novel, but also the first book I ever reviewed on this site. So when I found out there was a sequel coming out, I have been anticipating finally getting my hands on it. It took a while but that time has arrived. I started my ARC copy this morning and I am 34% of the way through it. So far, I am loving it!

 

 


What did you recently finish reading?

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1. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

This was a book I received as an ARC and loved every moment of reading. I don’t want to say too much as a review will be up soon once I have managed to gather together enough words to accurately describe how much I enjoyed this book.

2. Honeybee by Trista Mateer

This is a recent finish and a review has been posted that collects all my thoughts about this poetry collection. I will say that I read the whole thing in less than two hours and I found the whole thing a beautiful piece of work.


What do you think you’ll read next?

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1. Between The Blade And The Heart by Amanda Hocking

Pan Macmillian sent me this book and its sequel, From The Earth To The Shadows, for review and, considering all the positive praise and stellar comparisons in the press release I received, I am excited to give this duology a try and soon!

2. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

This is a book I know very little about, except that Aentee @ readatmidnight has been raving about it on her blog. She has some fantastic content up already and I just really want to see what all the hype is about.

3. White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

I received this from Walker Books as an ARC a few months back, and I fell behind. It is officially coming out in June and I want to get this read and reviewed as soon as. It’s a thrill full of mystery and murder and I am excited to delve into this new world with a new writer.


What books did you recently finish reading? What do you plan on reading next?
Tell me in the comments!

book review: honeybee by trista mateer

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Title: Honeybee

Author: Trista Mateer

Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing

Release Date: May 1st 2018

Pages: 160

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not much of a poetry reader. It’s not something I can say that I actively seek out for pleasure reading. But I also Honeybee and it’s adorably cute front cover and requested to read with a very vague idea of what it was actually going to be about.

I started reading this on my train journey to work and I finished on the journey home that day. Partly, this is because poetry isn’t something that takes a long time to read and this collection is quite small, but definitely, because I couldn’t put it down.

Mateer’s writing had a rawness and realness that really hit home. It touched all the right emotional centers within me and I could feel the struggle in the page as she grows and develops and finds out who she is without her first love. I adored the honesty that was repressed here, showing a true representation of the grief that follows the end of a relationship (romantic for the majority, but in some places, Mateer also lamented the loss of a friendship with this).

In its essence, this is a piece that tells a story of one person – Mateer’s – attempts at growing up, moving on, finding peace, but that’s not all the topics she touches upon. There are poems that raise questions about the appropriateness of writing to express yourself when you are not only sharing personal details about yourself. There are poems that speak about sexuality; about biphobia and internalised homophobia that trick you into questioning yourself, and what it means to truly support someone. There are poems that make a mockery of standard poetry conventions.

I have two favourites. The first was, ‘For Everyone I Meet With Your Name’ – it’s not an overly long or poetic piece. In fact, the actual poem is only two words and yet when I read it, I understood completely the feeling that Mateer was conveying, what she must have been feeling when she first scribbled that poem down. The second was ‘The B Word’ – longer, but just as powerful, speaking about the fear of coming out and the words of those around you, things that people say so carelessly and have no idea. Words that you might let people get away with saying or actions that you might believe is good enough. It’s a section I related with incredibly well.

Trista Mateer is described as an ‘aggressively personal poet’ and Honeybee is definitely that. But in that personal touch, you find a relatable honesty and realness that can be difficult to find elsewhere. When Mateer writes about how another person can help make you become the person you are today but they don’t own the person you are now, you can feel the power in those words and that belief because it is something she has honestly experienced.

I would be interested in reading Trista Mateer’s other poetry collections. I found her writing beautiful and easy to read and relatable in a way that made me question myself. I look forward to her work in the future!


happy reading

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book review: the hazel wood by melissa albert

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Title: The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: 30 January 2018

Pages: 368

Rating:

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am a lover of fairytales and even more so a lover of fairytales that have been turned on their heads. The Hazel Wood delivers on multiple levels in this.

Melissa Albert writes well. The world of the Hinterlands and how that world meets our own is really well done, the moments where the worlds overlapped making the dangers of the Hinterland seem just that much worse. I also adore the darker fairytales – for this, she didn’t use the classics but instead wrote her own short and twisted stories, dark tales without morality but with all the same whimsy and wonder and blood and gore that can be found in the original Grimm’s fairytales.

Alice, as the main character, was interesting to read from the point of view of. Her opinions, how she saw the world and people around her was strong enough to carry the story. However, the twist about her character was something hinted at during the book in quite a heavy-handed way, meaning that her specialness was really obvious very quickly. I’m not 100% sure whether it was meant to be.

Alice’s relationship with Ella, her mother is amazing and definitely part of what makes Alice such an interesting character. Whilst arguments can certainly be made about unhealthy co-dependent relationships, there is this emphasis on the importance of a parent’s love. All the way through the story Ella is the most important figure in Alice’s life, the one she cares and worries about and wants to be safe and happy, just as Alice’s safety has always been Ella’s priority. It always came back to Alice and Ella’s relationships and I liked that emphasis.

I loved Finch and very quickly grew attached to him. I wanted more from him in the book, to be honest, and one of the things I would say was a flaw is the fact that it doesn’t feel as he was allowed to grow enough through the book, and ultimately, has an ending I didn’t find that satisfactory. Another example of characters who I wanted to have a lot more attention were Janet and Ingrid – I wish they had been in the book for longer.

Mild spoilers for the ending upcoming. It was very sweet and heartwarming, a good ending but in this story with characters who have moralless and meaningless events thrust upon them, I wonder whether that was what I wanted from the ending. However, I know that to end it on a sour note, full of the darkness and gloom of the Hinterlands would undermine some of the themes and ideas that had been introduced across the book, specifically within the relationship of Alice and Ingrid.

Overall, The Hazel Wood was an immersive and dark story, that will appeal to fans of fairytales. There are flaws in how certain themes are dealt with that in retrospect can be pointed out as troublesome, but during the reading process, it was pacey and well written and will keep you entertained.


happy reading

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Book Review: The Gods of Love: Love is a Strange Magic by Nicola Mostyn

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Title: The Gods of Love: Love Is A Strange Magic35824202

Author: Nicola Mostyn

Publisher: Piatkus

Release date: February 1st, 2018

Pages: 320

Meet Frida. Divorce lawyer, cynic and secret descendant of the immortal love god Eros. She’s about to have a really bad day …

When a handsome but clearly delusional man named Dan bursts into Frida’s office and insists that she is fated to save the world, she has him ejected faster than you can say ‘prenup’.

But a creepy meeting, a demon or three and one attempted kidnapping later, Frida is beginning to face the inconvenient truth: Dan is, in fact, The Oracle, the gods of Greek mythology are real and Frida herself appears to be everyone’s only hope.

The world is doomed.

my thoughts

I loved mythology, especially Greek mythology. One of the first long pieces of fiction I wrote myself was an adaptation of Greek myths, so there is a lot about this book that I appreciate on a research level.

Mostyn does herself credit with this debut. It’s a quick and easy read that manages to tell multiple – but similar – stories at the same time. The focus is very heavily on women and women in love and what love means in the modern world. I really enjoyed the idea of Anteros, of anti-love and how the purity of love has been tarnished for humanity. It was an interesting idea to start a story from and even more so to have that story be told from the point of view of a divorce lawyer.

Frida is the unwilling heroine of the story, and it’s interesting to watch her grow as a character from someone suddenly thrown into the world of myth and magic, to someone who could potentially save us all. She feels very real, has normal reactions to events and ultimately, this story is about her finding strength in herself, about her saving herself. Mostyn’s writing style embodies Frida’s personality and voice very well.

It wasn’t perfect though. There were moments that I felt weren’t elaborated enough, whether it be aspects of Frida’s past or big plot revelations. There was a plot twist (no spoilers here, I promise) that felt like it happened in the blink of an eye, and the speed of the revealing kind of made it feel like it wasn’t that important to rest of the narrative but it was.

There were a lot of moments in this book where I felt like I wanted more. I wanted the scene drawn out to fully allow the seriousness of the situation to sink in or to really see Frida’s reaction to what was happening. Maybe it was the constraint of pages but it did mean that there were moments where I felt really unsatisfied, and I didn’t want that from this book.

Ultimately, The Gods of Love is a well-written book with an interesting premise that wasn’t given enough time to shine as much as it could have.

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