Review: Empire of Storms (#5) by Sarah J Maas

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The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.
With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Wow, Throne of Glass just seems to step up and up with each book. I’ve been enjoying the emotional rollercoaster, but this one was on a whole other level. Alien and her court are back together, travelling across the beautiful land. It was so cool to see more of the land and other wider characters in this book.

Talking of, this seemed to be the one where more of the storylines begin to intertwine and I loved it. Although I appreciated Manon’s strength and female power, her story bored me a little up until the past book or two. I slowly became more and more invested in it for it to lead to the events of Empire of Storms, and it was worth it. This book made me appreciate all of the storylines that came before, if only to see the group together and love the Court together and as individuals.

I love you. There is no limit to what I can give to you, no time I need.

This book also felt more readable than the previous – it felt like the pacing had improved. I enjoyed the slow scenes between the characters, which rounded and built them perfectly. And I enjoyed the fast paced action scenes they led up to, especially the incredible ending.

I missed a certain character and I am looking forward to Tower of Dawn for that reason. But the edition of new characters and certain storylines really improved the story. Instead of feeling like I have before, which is wanting to get through certain chapters to reach others, I was really invested in all of the characters for a change!

Even when this world is forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will love you.

Overall, Empire of Storms was really enjoyable but still doesn’t quite match up to how much I loved Crown of Midnight – I’m at the point of not knowing whether it can be beaten, but I’m looking forward to finding out!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #20

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 all! I’m back with another book! I’ve been a little busy being back at work and able to go and visit my boyfriend now which is so lovely. But it means less blog posts for a while as I get used to having other commitments again!

Anyway, onto the book I bought this week. I received my copy of You Should See Me in a Crown, which I bought for Black Publishing Power. I’ve heard so many good things about this book and I’m really excited to read it!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.
But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.
The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

What did you buy this week?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

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Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

Angie Thomas can just do no wrong. I loved The Hate U Give and it’s been long overdue that I give On the Come Up a shot. I’m aware right now more than ever that we need to amplify Black voices and educate ourselves. And I will not be quiet, I will continue to educate myself and learn the importance of this beyond what is being shown (and slowly disappearing from) the news and social media cycle.

This book opened my eyes so much to Black culture. It opened my eyes to poverty and discrimination and the problems we face within our education systems. It left me shook to the core.

Let be real: We’re black kids from one of the worst neighborhoods in the city.

Bri was such a good character and I really liked reading about her story. Her passion and anger drove me to match her energy. She was young and flawed and made decisions which very much frustrated me in parts, but I understood why she reacted to certain situations with anger, which may have impaired her best judgement. On the Come Up did an incredible job of facing the difficulties of growing up, of family and friends, and paired them perfectly with the deep-rooted problems Bri faces with racism in the education system in particular.

Her passion for rapping and music was paramount, and I loved how it shone through in the plot. It gave her such an interesting way to release the anger she was feeling, and made the plot fast paced and have so much depth. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite hooked from the beginning and it took me a while to get used to being back in Garden Heights, which impacted my rating slightly.

All it takes is one of us messing up, and suddenly all of us messed up.

Once again, Angie Thomas has achieved in writing a beautiful, amazing and hard hitting novel tackling such important issues. Simply put, we all need to read books like this. This is just the beginning of educating ourselves.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #19

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! Another week has gone by and of course I bought another book. I’m so excited to share this beauty with you!

I had an email from Harper Voyager about one of their new books and I just couldn’t resist the beauty – I admit this one was mostly a cover/edition buy. I was at work at the time and my manager told me we had two copies in, and I knew I wasn’t leaving without having one of them in my hand!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In the dark days following a failed French Revolution, in the violent jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, young cat-burglar Eponine (Nina) Thenardier goes head to head with merciless royalty, and the lords of the city’s criminal underworld to save the life of her adopted sister Cosette (Ettie).
Her vow will take her from the city’s dark underbelly, through a dawning revolution, to the very heart of the glittering court of Louis XVII, where she must make an impossible choice between guild, blood, betrayal and war.

Isn’t this cover so pretty? I’m so excited to read it too, all I’ve heard is good things and it sounds interesting too.

-Beth

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Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston

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Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife. When Lo-Melkhiin – a formidable king – arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice – leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king …if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it drew me in like I didn’t expect. This book is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights, which I have never read but know the rough story of, so I had some idea of what to expect. Having the simple backing plot of the fairytale drew me in and kept me interested, and but the magic that sparked in the pages of this book made it stand out.

The narrator, who remains unnamed, I really loved reading about. She has a strength and fire and I really appreciated her as a female narrator. Even though this book is naturally sexist and shows women to be ‘lower’ than men, she has an amazing voice.

“I do fear him,” I said, which was close to the truth. “I fear him as I fear the desert sun and poisonous snakes.

The plot was slow burning, but it felt insignificant as most of the plot had already been laid out with it being a retelling. The pace picked up towards the end and offered a big payoff for reading the slower parts. I really enjoyed the slower parts too though, and the detailing of the palace where the narrator spends most of the story shined through. I appreciated the minute detailing of the surroundings, as it made the story enchanting and encompassing.

The King was a spiteful character, but his development throughout the story was so interesting and kept me on my toes as I never knew how to feel about him. The rest of the cast of characters were also brilliant, and the narrators sister I just adored. One conversation between her and her sister really stood out.

They are all part of the life I live. But the sun gives light, and snakes will feed a caravan if they are caught and cooked.”

Overall, this was quite an enchanting story that drew me in. The writing and plot were simple, which unfortunately led me to rate this lower than I would have liked. I also really enjoyed the magical elements, but they could be confusing in their descriptions, which is another factor that went towards a lower rating. Aside from this, I really enjoyed the book and it was an interesting twist on a classic story.

★★★
3 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Queen of Shadows (#4) by Sarah J Maas

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Celaena Sardothien is cloaked in her assassin’s hood once more. She is back in Rifthold, but this time she is no one’s slave. She must delve into her most painful memories and fight for her survival, while resisting a smouldering passion that might very well consume her heart. And she will face her former master, the King of Assassins, again – to wreak revenge for a decade of pain… 

This book was everything Heir of Fire was missing. I wanted everybody all together again, to be back in Rifthold and for Celena to be around Dorian and Chaol. I was so torn by Heir of Fire and how Celena was in a completely different part of the world. Although it was interesting to read about her, err, relationship with Rowan, I missed having everybody together.

The female strength that shines through in this book blows me away. I love having such strong and beautiful female heroines, and these books are full of them. Not only do we have Celena, but I really grew to like Manon in this book. Her story intrigued me in Heir of Fire, but I liked it a lot in this one.

She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers.

Celena has really matured throughout these books, and I love the cast of characters. My heart ached for Dorian, and seeing how he developed throughout this story was so intense. I really missed some interactions with Chaol and I feel like he wasn’t a major part of the story at all which was disappointing. I really liked Rowan and Celena’s relationship, but something about it just didn’t sit quite right with me. I’m not sure how distant their relationship is, but I swear they are cousins! I kept remembering this whenever I read…certain scenes, and I just couldn’t shake the thought from my mind.

The writing was beautiful as usual, and just gets better with each book. The action scenes are amazing, and I was so absorbed into the story, reading my daily pages first thing for the final few days because I just wanted to know what happened. Magic is written with such beautiful language, and I adored it. The writing made for an absolutely wild ride, and I was shook at the end of some chapters, even gasping out loud.

As usual, I also loved the settings so much. Seeing more of the world always intrigues me, and the last twenty pages or so were probably my favourites of the whole book simply to be able to see a little more of the world.

She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.

Overall, this was probably my second favourite Throne of Glass book so far. It didn’t quite beat Crown of Midnight, but I will be very happy if this series continues to get better – I can really see it happening!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #18

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! I bought something else a little different recently – in the form of a colouring book. I used to love colouring books and my friend and I used to colour and watch The Vampire Diaries together years ago. Funnily enough, my friend Amy has got me watching The Vampire Diaries again and I’m loving it, and I also bought a colouring book. It’s the new Heartstopper colouring book and I love the series so much I just had to pick it up!

The Heartstopper Colouring Book: Amazon.co.uk: Oseman, Alice ...

Waterstones

This beautiful colouring book contains all the fan favourite characters and scenes such as Nick and Charlie’s first kiss and their trip to Paris, plus guest appearances from Nellie, Tao and Ellie, Tara and Darcy and many more! Featuring some empty speech bubbles to fill in with your own creative thoughts, and the entire Tara/Darcy mini-comic to colour at the end, this book has something for everyone.
Celebrate the power of love and friendship, while becoming involved in the Heartstopper world in a truly interactive way.

What did you buy this week? 

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Book Haul: #BlackPublishingPower

Hi everyone! Today I’m here with a really important haul – I wanted to share with you the books I bought to join in with the movement to try and blackout the bestseller list with Black authors. To find out more, search for the #BlackPublishingPower or #BlackoutBestsellerList on social media! The idea is to purchase 2 books by Black authors by Saturday, but I decided to go for 4 in the end.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…
In
New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Papi’s death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Camino and Yahaira are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

I’ve been seeing this everywhere and have heard so much about this book and author! I can’t wait to read it.

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Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

This book has been on my TBR for a longgg time, so I thought I may as well buy it now!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Black Panther meets Ready Player One. A fierce teen game developer battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther-inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for black gamers.
By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only black kids at Jefferson Academy. By night, she joins hundreds of thousands of black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY.
No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm.But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals.
Driven to save the only world in which she can truly be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

I’ve had this on my TBR for a while too, and it sounds super interesting.

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Goodreads | Waterstones

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ that led to this book.
Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

But fiction doesn’t feel like enough, because what we need to do right now as White people is educate ourselves and others as much as possible. So I picked up this book too, which both me and my boyfriend wanted to read.

Want to watch this as a video? You can below!

-Beth

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Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

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Goodreads

Oh wow, I adored this book. I’ve been seeing this around on social media for a while, especially last year around it’s release date. I’ve been drawn to it for a while and I loved the cover, but I never knew how much I would really enjoy it.

Rosa is a girl who lives in a beautiful seaside town with her grandmother, who wants to know more about her Cuban heritage. She has a rocky relationship with her mother, and also with the sea, as she has been led to believe the women in her family are cursed when it comes to the sea, and especially the men who live and work on it. But when Rosa becomes attached to a boy who lives on the ocean, she has some answers to seek.

My first time in the sea felt like returning to something. I thought of my mother and abuela, the image of them sharp and sudden. I wanted to see what was on the other side.

This book was damn beautiful in so many ways. I adored the town, and the scenery was so well described. The relationships Rosa had with her friends and family were sometimes rocky but also beautiful and real. They all supported her so well. The writing was just delightful too, and some of the passages were heartbreaking, leaving me with tears in my eyes in parts.

The food was described in such detail, and was a big part of Rosa’s Cuban heritage. I can’t help but fall for books that describe food like this one did, which was so vivid, just like much of this book. It was absolutely beautiful, a love letter to family, food, Cuba and the sea. I was hooked.

I wanted to find what was lost. I wanted to know how to move forward… My only offering heart, humility, and these coins. My tongue was heavy with the wrong language.

The ending, although I enjoyed it, was the only thing that shocked me a little. It suddenly felt a little too mystical and out of reach, leaving me feeling a little detached from the final pages. Unfortunately it didn’t quite reach 5 stars for me because of that, but I absolutely loved this book all the same and would highly recommend it!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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BookTube: #BlackPublishingPower Haul

Hi lovelies! I haven’t been around for a while, and that’s because I’ve been busy again! Shops have reopened here in the UK, which means as of Monday I have been back at work in the bookstore I work in. I’ve also been able to see my boyfriend again which has been absolutely lovely! But in the mix, I managed to purchase a few books to get Black authors on the bestseller list, and today I’m here with a video to tell you about them!

Are you taking part in this? If so, which books are you buying?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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