Review: Viper (#1) by Bex Hogan

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.
But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.
He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.
She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

I really wasn’t sure whether to pick up this book as I’m not usually a fan of maritime, but it has such a beautiful cover that I couldn’t resist when I ended up at a book signing for the author. And I’m happy to say I definitely don’t regret picking it up!

I found myself more sucked in by Viper than I had been expecting – it is fast paced and full of adventure, but has emotional undertones that made me love Marianne’s soft but strong character. She is a brilliant female protagonist and I admired her spirit so much.

The man by my side is my opposite and my reflection. The dark to my light. The light to my dark. And everything in between.

The big shock for me in this book was definitely the gore. It can be quite visceral in parts and isn’t one for the faint hearted! But it only added to the fight scenes for me, which were some of my favourite parts of the book. The scenes went by in the blink of an eye, kept me on my toes and had a great action about them.

The characters were really interesting and I connected to most of them on some level, especially Marianne and those closest to her. I can’t usually pinpoint a favourite part of a novel, but I really could with this one. I won’t talk about it in detail due to spoilers, but there was a lovely part of the book set on the Fourth Isle that I just adored.

But I’m not sure either of us could survive the heartbreak of being together yet being apart.
Love is not enough.

The romance was sweet but didn’t overwhelm the story, which I really liked. And the setting was beautiful and easy to picture – I loved the visuals of some of the islands and they were very encompassing. The politics were enjoyable and not too over-complicated, sometimes I find fantasy can be hard to follow but this one certainly wasn’t!

Overall, this was a captivating story and I enjoyed it a lot! I found it wrapped up quite well for me, so I probably won’t carry on with the series, but I’d definitely recommend it if you think it sounds like something you’ll enjoy!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #9

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

Hi everyone! This post is a little late as it’s been a few weeks since Chain of Gold was released, but I’m excited to tell you guys about the copies I got.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.
James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love.
 

I had the edition below preordered, but then I started seeing the normal hardcovers. I was worried they were going to print them shiny like the hardcovers of Ghosts of the Shadow Market, but these are matte and gorgeous! And they have ‘collectors first edition’ on them. You can bet I picked one up!

The Last Hours: Chain of Gold Exclusive Edition (Hardback)

Goodreads | Waterstones

I also had my gorgeous Waterstones edition on pre-order. It’s such a lovely colour, I love the rich purple.

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split.
Nobody ever knew why. Until now.
They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently.
The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed.
Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.

This book was a 2019 staple for so many people, so even though it isn’t something I’d usually read, I decided to pick it up. And now, I understand what everybody loves so much. There is something capturing about this book. Enticing, just like Daisy Jones herself. There is something that throws you until you don’t know how to feel anymore. It’s enigmatic.

I often find it difficult to read in formats I’m not interested in, like interviews and verse. So when I heard Daisy Jones is written in an interview format, I was very hesitant to pick it up. I just find with interviews, some of the character development can be missed. But this one was different.

I used to think soul mates were two of the same. I used to think I was supposed to look for somebody that was like me. I don’t believe in soul mates anymore and I’m not looking for anything.

Unfortunately, in some ways, I was right. I did enjoy the interview format, as it worked well for the subject and made it a super quick and easy read. But I just….didn’t feel a connection to the characters. I didn’t even like Daisy and Billy.

I think this was where the majority of my disappointment about this book fell. Even though I often felt drawn to them both and sympathetic for them, I couldn’t bring myself to really like them as much as I wanted to. And this was just…quite a big drawback and happened with more characters than I wanted it to. I loved a lot about Daisy, and all the members of The Six. But then something would happen that would put me off them completely.

But if I did believe in them, I’d believe your soul mate was somebody who had all the things you didn’t, that needed all the things you had. Not somebody who’s suffering from the same stuff you are.

Other than the characters, this book was fascinating, and I found it hard to put down. I enjoyed it a lot, but characters mean a lot to me. I can definitely see the appeal of this book, and why it blew up so much in 2019. It’s enticing and somehow alive. I’ll definitely recommend it to people. But there were a few things about it that unfortunately made it not quite as much for me as I wanted it to be.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (#3) by Jenny Han

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Goodreads | Waterstones

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.
Life couldn’t be more perfect!
At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.
Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I’m so glad I finally continued with this series, and I’m so thankful to Netflix for making such good adaptations that made me want to carry on with reading the books. It doesn’t often happen that I prefer movies over books, but it did happen with the first To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before book. I just preferred the feel of it on the big screen.

I had mixed feelings about this whole trilogy, and it was by no means perfect, but I still enjoyed it all the same. My love for the Song-Covey family grew stronger with every book, and it certainly grew with the events in Always and Forever Lara Jean. I also found the few scenes with Chris and the other friends/friends of the family warmed my heart so much, especially a certain roadtrip the girls went on.

Is this how it goes?

I still questioned Peter throughout this whole book, and I never quite fell for his character the way I truly wanted to. I understand they are both young and make mistakes, and no relationship runs smooth one hundred percent of the time, but I do wish Peter acted differently in certain scenarios.

I think one of the major factors of my love for this story comes from my adoration of Lara Jean. I see so much of myself in her. Her love for baking, reading and her family is exactly how I am. She’s a hopeless romantic, just like me, and I can only hope I have even a fraction of her cute style and all-around creativity.

You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?

These books are not perfect, but they truly warm my heart on cold winters days, and once I picked them up I couldn’t easily put them down again. They’re cute and fluffy, but they do their thing really well. I know I’ll pick them up again, and I can definitely see the movies becoming frequent re-watches. It’ll be great to see this final chapter on the big screen!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Stacking the Shelves #7

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga where we share books we’ve bought or received this week. Find out more and join in here!

I’ve recently received something I’m super happy about and I’m so excited to share with you guys. Last year at YALC, Fairyloot announced a Caraval Deluxe Edition Set. I didn’t know whether I’d be in a place to order them, but it turned out when they were released back in September I could! They were meant to arrive in January, but they had some struggles with printing and I completely forgot when they were arriving. So when my box arrived last week, I was super shocked and excited!

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I haven’t managed to take photos of my actual copies yet, but I can assure you they are beautiful inside and out!

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: P.S. I Still Love You (#2) by Jenny Han

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

I couldn’t help but enjoy this book. I was a little unsure about the first book and didn’t want to carry on with the series initially, but I adored the first movie adaptation when it was released and decided to continue. I’m really glad I did, because I actually enjoyed this book more than the first one when I read it years ago!

My favourite part of this story remains and probably always will be the family dynamic. We don’t see enough families in YA, and this is one of the only YA series I can genuinely say focuses around the sisters. The chaotic connection between them reminds me of a modern Little Women – although the two cannot be compared.

There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate.

One of the main issues I had with the first book was the love interest, and to a degree that continues in P.S. I Still Love You. Although I rooted more for Peter in this book, I still questioned some of his actions towards the relationship and struggled to sympathise with him at times.

I also didn’t particularly enjoy the love triangle, or at least found it a little unnecessary and would have rather seen Lara-Jean have a meaningful friendship. But on the other hand, this is kind of the point. No relationship is without it’s rocky parts, and Lara-Jean’s confusion and jealousy from both of them is one of their rocky parts.

You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them.

Some of the side characters were brilliant (I’m looking at you, Stormy) and I really enjoyed reading some of the scenes. These books might not be perfect, but I’m still finding them quite engaging, easy to read and will definitely be reading the last book in the series and am looking forward to seeing it on the big screen.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

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Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. It’s where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. Where a Homecoming Queen’s murder five years ago made national news. And where Ellery now has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, after her failed-actress mother lands in rehab. No one knows what happened to either girl, and Ellery’s family is still haunted by their loss.
Malcolm grew up in the shadow of the Homecoming Queen’s death. His older brother was the prime suspect and left Echo Ridge in disgrace. His mother’s remarriage vaulted her and Malcolm into Echo Ridge’s upper crust, but their new status grows shaky when mysterious threats around town hint that a killer plans to strike again. No one has forgotten Malcolm’s brother-and nobody trusts him when he suddenly returns to town.
Ellery and Malcolm both know it’s hard to let go when you don’t have closure. Then another girl disappears, and Ellery and Malcolm were the last people to see her alive. As they race to unravel what happened, they realize every secret has layers in Echo Ridge. The truth might be closer to home than either of them want to believe.
And somebody would kill to keep it hidden.

After reading One of Us Is Next with Alex, we decided to carry on and read Two Can Keep a Secret together! And I’m so glad we did, because it became both of our favourite McManus books so far.

There was something about this book that stood out from her others. For a start, it felt startlingly creepier to me – maybe enhanced by the setting of a somewhat decrepit theme park. The scenes, especially those in theme park itself, felt almost tangible and too close for comfort. It was delightfully creepy and a perfect read for a cold, dark winters night.

“Welcome to life in a small town.”

Problems I had with McManus’ other books were almost banished with this one. In her other books, I’ve struggled with the amount of Points Of View and it tainted the story for me as I found it hard to follow everything going on. In this book, however, we only focus on two POV and I found it much easier to follow. The only criticism in plot is the major rush that seems to come towards the end of her books after such a big build up, which can be slightly overwhelming.

However, another favourite part of this one for me was the characters, especially Ellery. They were so good to read about and I really liked having the POV of both somebody involved in the past crimes of the small town and somebody who had relatives in the town but had only recently moved to it.

“You’re only as good as the best thing your family’s done. Or the worst.”

This was definitely my favourite of Karen M McManus’ books so far and I’d love to read more from her in the future.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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