Because I am a complete and utter plonker, I forgot to upload my June Wrap Up, so this month I'm doing June and July combined.
But, good news, I'm now just 2 books behind on my Goodreads challenge, so I've definitely made some headway in the past couple of months.
I've read 8.5 books over the past two months. Not incredible, but not too bad either.
As always, you can click on the title below to read the review or to visit Goodreads:
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley - This book was tough to read and tough to review. It tackles racism head-on and does a good job of showing how racist words can lead to extreme actions. However, I did have a few issues with the "love interest" who I just didn't feel was worthy of the main character.
Charlie Sunshine by Lily Morton - I really enjoyed this book. I wasn't expecting the epilepsy rep but felt it was really well done. Charlie is a beautiful character, full of heart and soul, and I just wanted the very best for him.
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black - Finishing this series was really bittersweet and I wanted so badly to love it...BUT it just fell short of what I'd expected. I've come to expect so much from this series - backstabbing, intrigue and deception, and I just didn't get it.
Project Hero by Briar Prescott - This was such a cute read. It was a low angst, slow-burn that was the perfect intermission between some of the fantasy I've been reading.
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager - I was blown away by this book. It deals with heavy themes but in a really touching way that's interwoven with a fantastical plot that's truly beautiful. This is definitely my top read of the year so far and the first Turn The Page book club selection!
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik - I haven't read a Naomi Novik book since Temeraire when I was a mid-late teen, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I got this ARC from NetGalley. But, I was happily blown away. The characters in this book, particularly El, the main character, is fantastic, the world-building is great and I cannot wait for book 2!
May Day by Josie Jaffrey - This book took me a little while to get into, but once it got going, the pace really picked up. The plot was interesting and kept me fully intrigued and I loved the bisexual love triangle. The best part of this book, for me, are the two main characters who are just fantastic and have really great chemistry.
Fakers by Lucy Lennox and May Archer - This book was much better than I'd expected. The plot was really sweet, I loved the country setting and there was a touching mixture of humour and angst.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow - I really did not enjoy this book. It's my first DNF of 2020 and hopefully my last because it put me in a huge funk where I didn't read anything for weeks. I found the plot confusing, the language a bit too detailed and the character voices too similar. There will be a review of this book by Sophie up on the blog shortly and you can check out our next podcast to find out more about what we thought of our second Turn The Page Book Club selection.
And that's all for now! Let me know in the comments what you're reading and if you've read any of the books above!
In my bid to be more active here on the blog, once a month I'll be doing a short wrap up of the books I've been reading with my now 6-year-old, Rosie.
I share a lot of our books on Instagram, so feel free to follow over there for more regular kid's book updates.
As always, you can click on the title to visit Goodreads (if available):
Rating: 4 Stars
Series/Standalone: Seekers #1
How I got this book: ARC from the author
If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one.
It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake.
When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does.
To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die.
Body bags on standby.
TW: Abuse, rape, violence.
This is the first book that I've read by Josie Jaffrey, but when I saw the book advertised on Twitter as 'Vampires, murder mystery and a bi love triangle', I instantly wanted to read it.
As a side note, I'm loving that we're getting more bi-rep in Fantasy!
So, to begin with, I felt that the pace was a little slow, and it took me a while to get into what was happening. However, I think that may have been down to my reading preferences, more than the writing itself, as I rarely lean towards mystery/crime.
But, saying that, I quickly realised how great of a character Jack Valentine really is. I love how the author has created a hero who is not the typical gorgeous, glamorous, put-together person but is flawed and relatable.
Jack is a bit of a mess, she's always running late, almost always hungover, usually wearing the same unwashed clothes and she really couldn't give a shit what anyone thinks.
I love her. She's fiery, sarcastic, and she carries the story well.
"Come to think of it, being Silver is kind of like being bisexual. I came out to them when I was sixteen and they never believed that was real, either."
The pacing also picked up, for me, pretty quickly and I flew through the book.
I'm not going to lie, I think the pace really picked up and my interest piqued when we first meet Killian Drake who is just....*swoon*.
"Go on, Valentine." He pulls me in close with one hand and strokes my cheek with the other. "Pretend that you want me."
Killian is fun to read, he's dark and brooding but cocky and entertaining, and at times sweet and uncertain. Next to Jack, Killian is my favourite character, and I actually didn't feel that he was utilised enough in this book, I just wanted more.
Which brings me to my first actual issue with this book, the love triangle. I'm not an enormous fan of love triangles anyway, but I enjoyed how this triangle did a wonderful job of illustrating Jack's sexuality.
"And just because I'm bi...I mean, that's not how it works. I don't need one of each, you know? It's not like I'm missing out. That's not the way I am."
However, while I felt that Tabitha was a potentially interesting character, one that could build well overtime, I didn't sense any actual chemistry between her and Jack. There were no sparks, no sizzle, nothing. It felt like a dead relationship to me, and not one that could contribute to a believable love triangle.
So, for me, that element just didn't work, so it'll be interesting to see what happens in the next book and whether that dynamic improves/changes any.
In terms of the plot, I really enjoyed the mystery element, the setting and the variety of characters, and I spent a lot of time trying to work out who the 'killer' was, and I have to say that I didn't guess, it was a complete twist that I hadn't at all expected.
"We're not generally in the business of guarding the humans from themselves. We only exist to guard them from others like us.
I also felt the author handled a lot of darker themes (see TW above) woven into the story well, making the case not as straight-forward as I'd expected.
Overall, I think this was an interesting start to a new series, and I'm really looking forward to more of Drake's charm and Jack's wit in the next instalment.
Rating: 5 STARS!
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Horror/Historical Fiction
How I got this book: Bought
Seventeen-year-old Aderyn ("Ryn") only cares about two things: her family, and her family's graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don't always stay dead.
The risen corpses are known as "bone houses," and legend says that they're the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?
Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.
Review by Sophie.
TW: Horror. Zombies. Death.
I’ve thought about how I’d write this review for quite some time now, and truthfully I’ve kept changing my mind every five minutes, so I’m just going to jump straight in…
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK!!
The front cover gives you an idea of how utterly beautiful and atmospheric this dark fairy tale is, and I will point out that I picked this book up on a whim, as Zombies really aren’t my cup of tea. But, I can honestly say that Emily Lloyd-Jones quickly worked her magic when it came to me how much I treasured this book, which left me with tears in my eyes.
The book itself is, I think, classed as a horror, but it’s certainly not at all on the level of a Stephen King novel, and I’d say it's only mild. I love how the quirkiness of the main character eases some of the tension during the more suspenseful scenes.
“I suppose it could have been bandits or maybe one of his chickens got hold of a blade, but I don’t think so.”
This story is set in ancient Wales, and first, we meet Aderyn (Ryn). She’s protective and loyal, and I really loved her sarcastic wit and charm.
Oh, and did I mention, she is totally badass?!
“There was a young woman. She was a fearless creature – a girl who would chase death into the mountains. With only an axe for company…”
Ryn lives with her younger sister Cerri, her brother Garreth, (and their pet goat). After the loss of their mother and her father missing, presumed dead, Ryn sets out foraging in the woods, remembering her father's warnings, when she stumbles across Elis, a Mapmaker.
Elis is a strange boy surrounded by mystery, not really knowing who he is or where he came from, after being found alone when he was very young with an injury that still plagues him. I really like how the author constantly reminds you of the struggle Elis has when contending with his injury, and highlights the effects of having a disability without making the character seem weak or any less of a real person.
As the story progresses, the relationship between the two grows beautifully, and I love how it felt natural rather than rushed, and that both characters, despite being having very different personalities, were very well suited.
“She reminded him of an ocean - beautiful, with enough salt to kill a man. He suspected it would take a knight or a hero of legend to impress one such as her.”
The writing style was intricate and beautiful, and the pace of the story kept the tale intriguing, with action, mystery and an unravelling romance throughout.
I think before I’d even finished the first chapter of the book, immediately I knew I was already being absorbed by it, and how the author describes the devastating heartache of loss and family bonds is truly heartbreaking but beautiful.
Another thing I really loved about The Bone Houses was the setting of the scenes and how easily the plot flowed. I loved the Welsh folklore, and the detail surrounding the mines, caverns, village and the mysterious woods; and how the imagery was effortlessly created in my mind.
Now, I must say I did struggle to choose my favourite character, as I found quite a few of them to be loveable. So, I’ve narrowed it down to Ryn, who, as I said before, is a total badass…with an axe!
“If I come across a problem, I take my axe to it. Or bury it. I'm good at burying things.”
But I must say, my all-time favourite character was the legendary bone goat! This strange creature shows true loyalty and is plain awesome. If there’s one reason to read this book, it's definitely the goat!
Rating: 5 STARS!
Series/Standalone: Scholomance #1
How I got this book: ARC from Cornerstone, Random House UK via NetGalley
Learning has never been this deadly
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.
I'm giving 5 stars to my girl El because she deserves every single one of them!
"Yes, now I was worrying I'd be turned to the dark side by too much crochet."
I've started this review several times, always with, I love this book because...and then about ten things immediately spring to mind.
So, instead, I'm going to start at the beginning.
I loved the premise. The synopsis grabbed me instantly and I couldn't wait to dig in.
But, it took me a little while to get really into the book. I knew that I liked it, but I wasn't really sure why. Then, it did a complete one-eighty on me the more I got to know El.
I'll be honest, in terms of actual plot, not a great deal does happen BUT this is the first book in the series, and it's clear that there's a lot of setup going on AND we do get fantastic world building, character building and really great monsters.
El though is my new hero. I absolutely love her, and might also be a little in love with her. It's really not often that you're introduced to a morally good character that's also incredibly powerful, witty, stubborn and 100% interesting.
"I love having existential crises at bedtime, it's so restful."
It's El who makes this book worth reading, and I love the humour she brings while at the same time bringing a lot of heart to the book, making you really care for and root for her.
The premise is fantastic - it's a school that almost tries to kill you!
"The school has to be fed somehow."
I love that the traditional "hero" trope in this book is turned on its head and I just love the dynamic between El and Orion. Think Legolas and Gimli, but a little more frank.
"Lake, I hate you more than words can possibly express."
The secondary characters are also fantastic and add a lot of unexpected humour, tension and drama to the plot.
"Mom told me that all boys are carrying a secret pet mal in their underwear, and if you get alone with them they let it out."
As the tension and danger built throughout the book, I really wondered how it was going to end but it was great, with just enough tension to keep me hanging on for the next one.
Overall, a fantastic start to a new fantasy series! I can't wait for the next instalment!
This month, our very first online book club chat was all about Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager.
The Turn The Page Book Chat takes place on the Friday after the podcast goes live at 7pm (UK). To join, just follow the #TTPBookChat hashtag on Twitter.
You can catch my review of the book here and listen to our podcast chat here.
Next month, we'll be reading The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. If you'd like to join us, read the book and tune in on the 11th August for our podcast and 14th August for the next Twitter chat!
Rating: 5 STARS
How I got this book: Birthday gift
This powerful debut novel delicately blurs the line between truth and fiction as Carol unravels the fantastical stories of her mentally ill grandfather. When she and her family move to his deserted ranch in order to transfer him to a care home, Carol struggles to cope with the suffocating heat and the effects of her grandfather's dementia. Bees seem to be following her around, but the drought means this is impossible. She must be imagining things. Yet when her grandfather chooses her as the subject for his stories – tales of a magical healing tree, a lake, and the grandmother she never knew – Carol sees glimmers of something special in what her parents dismiss as Serge's madness. As she rethinks her roots and what she thought she knew about her family, Carol comes to the realization that Serge's past is quickly catching up with her present. A stunning coming-of-age story.
TW: Mental Illness (Dementia), Grief
This book was chosen as our very first Turn The Page book club read, and you can catch our chat about this book on Tuesday 14th July 2020. You can also join in our Twitter book club chat on Friday 17th July 2020 (just use #TTPBookChat)
I want to start by saying that I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did.
I purposefully didn't find anything out about this book aside from the blurb on the back cover, and so I didn't even know what genre this book was, which I'm actually really glad for because I had no idea at all what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.
I did have some issues with this book, mainly with the parents. I mean, first of all, what parent would leave a 12-year-old child alone with a grandfather she's never met who has severe dementia and a baby?
I understand that the parents were struggling with grief and pain in their own ways, but it just didn't sit well.
For the first couple of chapters, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this book, it just didn't 'click' for me until Serge began to tell his story and after that, I was hooked.
I loved how, from this moment, the mystery and magic built quickly until I was fully immersed in the story. In fact, I was so lost in the story that I didn't realise how quickly I was reading it and then all of a sudden I was at the end.
And for once, I was completely and 100% happy with how a story ended! No cliffhangers, just lots of possibilities.
Overall, I was blown away by the quick-pace of this book and the magic-filled family history. I was fully invested in both Carol and Serge's characters and loved their dynamic.
I can't believe it's already time for Episode Two of the Turn The Page podcast, our new, monthly podcast where we talk about our latest reads, book news and bookish events.
First of all, Sophie and I would like to thank everyone who listened to and got in touch with us about Episode One, your feedback was fantastic and we're so glad you enjoyed our first episode.
We have also recently launched a YouTube channel so that you can listen to the podcast there if you prefer.
In this episode, we talk about Pride Month, the Summer #ReadWithPride challenge and discuss our very first Turn The Page book club book, Hour of the Bees.
Here's a little of what you can expect:
On our monthly book club book:
I was immersed in it and I didn't even realize how quickly I was reading it, and then all of a sudden I was at the end.
On our favourite pride books:
At the end of the book, I hated it. I absolutely hated it, and I almost didn't finish it, but you must finish it.
Listen to the podcast below, feel free to comment and tune in again on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for the latest episode! Subscribe on your favourite podcast platform here!
Happy listening and happy reading!
1. We did experience a few minor technical issues while recording this podcast so we apologies for any inconsistencies.
2. At around 11-12 minutes into the podcast, I accidentally named the wrong title of a book. The book I was talking about was not Project Hero (although that book was also great), the book I'd meant to reference was Charlie Sunshine (that's what I get for not adding it to Goodreads!)
Read the transcript:
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
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5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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