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

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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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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: 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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Review: The Crow Rider (#1) by Kalyn Josephson

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Goodreads

Princess Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.
But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process. She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.
As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be
.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I read the first book in this duology last year before it’s release, and I knew since then I wanted to pick up the next one. I adored the first book and found it such a lovely fantasy with a twist. The Crow Rider was no different, and I’m so glad I had a chance to read it!

It was so lovely to delve back into this beautiful world. Josephson does a brilliant job of describing the world and cities, honestly some of the passages describing the markets and cities took my breath away. I was immediately enveloped once again into this world of castles and beauty.

The writing was beautiful and I kept wanting to go back for more. Whenever I picked up this book I didn’t want to stop, there was a weird kind of comfort I remember from reading The Storm Crow that only comes with knowing how much you are going to enjoy a book. Another thing that came back was the openness when Josephson discusses grief and depression. I had forgotten how this was discussed and it impressed me over again, especially when I read a specific passage. Not enough fantasy talks about mental health and I admire how this one does.

The magic and crows were amazing as ever. I loved having Res as a full character, even though he is actually a crow. The way Thia communicates with him fascinated me, and every time anybody insulted him by calling him chicken or pigeon it made me chuckle.

The only complaint I had is I didn’t feel as much connection to the characters as I wanted to, and I felt confused by them. I didn’t know who was who, which made the war councils and politics difficult too and I mainly just skim read the political scenes. However, I think a lot of this was from the fact I read the first book almost a year ago, and I wouldn’t have felt so confused if I had only just read the first book.

Overall, this was a brilliant, emotional and utterly beautiful conclusion to this duology. I loved it and would definitely recommend the series!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Ninth House (#1) by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

It’s no secret that I love Leigh Bardugo. I’ve read most of her books (excluding the Grisha trilogy) and I adored them. But from the release of Ninth House, I knew it would be different. I heard how dark this book was, the reasons it was published as adult fiction rather than YA. But I heard Leigh talk about it a few times at signings and talks late last year, and I really, really wanted to pick it up. She drew me in.

I found this book really tough to read but so alluring. I will warn you now, it is incredibly difficult to read in a lot of ways. Some of the scenes shocked me and disturbed me, and definitely need a warning. This book was not without gruesome scenes that really grossed me out.

Peace was like any high. It couldn’t last. 

But unfortunately it wasn’t just the gruesome scenes that made it difficult for me. I cannot hide the fact that I was just…confused. I don’t think the non-linear timeline and flitting points of view helped at all, I never quite knew what was happening or could grasp enough about the story to feel like I could completely understand.

Despite finding the story confusing, I couldn’t deny the writing was spectacular as always. I liked the pacing, which was slow but some of the fast paced scenes made up for it, gripping me on the edge of my seat in those occasional moments. I also loved the setting, which reminded me slightly of The Starless Sea. Having known Leigh Bardugo went to Yale herself, I could tell the passion she felt using her own University to set Ninth House in.

I loved Alex and the cast of characters in general. Darlington was great too and I really liked Alex’s friends and roommates as secondary characters. Bardugo does a great job of describing the way some rich white males feel in relation to privilege and power, and how they can use their privileges to whatever they feel entitled to, however soul-curdling those things may be. Bardugo does not hold back on these issues, and for that I appreciated her writing.

It was an illusion, something that could be interrupted in a moment and lost forever.

I did enjoy this book, but I also felt a disconnection from it that I wish I didn’t feel. Maybe I had too high expectations. Maybe I just prefer her YA fantasy. However I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, and I’ll be interested to see what my opinions of this book are when I reread it in future.

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Stacking the Shelves #17

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! This week I treated myself to something a little different – a manga book. I never really buy myself manga, and the only one’s I actually own are the Your Name mangas. If you know me you’ll know how much I adore Makoto Shinkai’s films, and I also own the light novels. I had the first two already but not the third, so I finally picked it up!

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Goodreads | Waterstones

What did you buy this week? 

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Heir of Fire (#3) by Sarah J Maas

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Consumed by guilt and rage, Celaena can’t bring herself to spill blood for the King of Adarlan. She must fight back…
The Immortal Queen will help her destroy the king – for a price. But as Celaena battles with her darkest memories and her heart breaks for a love that could never last, can she fulfil the bargain and head the almighty court of Terrasen? And who will stand with her?

After I loved Crown of Midnight so much, I had pretty high expectations for Heir of Fire. And I have to admit, this book did not quite live up to those high expectations. I didn’t feel as invested in this book, I found some of it quite predictable, some slow, and some I just couldn’t bring myself to be interested in at all.

I think a lot of my difficulties stemmed from the fact Celena was suddenly away from the castle and with new characters for new reasons. I missed the connections and conversations between her, Dorian and Chaol. Rowan made for a good substitute in some ways, even though I found him and Celena’s…friendship a little strange and uncomfortable at times.

“Because I am lost,” she whispered onto the earth.

I enjoyed Celena’s chapters quite a lot and I was still intrigued by her journey. The side characters were enjoyable to read about too, and I had a soft spot for those she worked with in the kitchen. I enjoyed the chapters back in the castle too, even though they felt like they were missing something without Celena. Sorscha was sweet and I liked the introduction of her character. Manon’s chapters was where I hit a real problem. I was confused by what was happening and I never had enough time to really sympathise with her at all.

Maas’ writing has definitely improved during these books and the world building is incredible. The pacing was pretty consistent and the fast-paced, action-packed scenes got me pretty invested in the story. The ending was especially brilliant, and made me remember how amazing these books can be.

“And I do not know the way.”

Overall, this was unfortunately my least favourite of the series so far, even though I did enjoy it, it was still disappointing compared to how much I adored Crown of Midnight.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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