Bookish Ramblings: July Wrap Up

Well what a month July has been! I feel like a crazy amount has happened and I suppose that is partly down to the fact that we’re starting to move into a new normal of sorts. I’ve been back out to work rather than working from home which I has led to my body rebelling as it’s been mainly sedentary for so long, tied to a laptop and a dining room table!

Like so many of you, I attended #athomeyalc last weekend and had a blast – not by any stretch a replacement but everyone’s efforts paid off to make it a fantastic alternative – i’ll do a full run down of my experiences later in the week. Also, after 2 years of repping for Geeky Clean, I finally started playing D&D this month! I’m playing with them and most of the rep team and it’s honestly so much fun, I’m feeling so much part of it and everyone has been so cool with helping me learn – and there is a lot to learn! My Character is very loosely based on Victra from Red Rising although I’m not sure what Pierce Brown would make of me turning her into an Elf!

Reading wise hasn’t been the greatest month, I don’t know if lockdown has made me more grumpy, although it’s more likely that lockdown has given me more time to explore issues and be more aware, because I’m finding problematic content standing out to me more starkly and I’m feeling confident enough to call it out in my reviews. Last month I had no 5* reviews and this month only one sneaked into the coveted spot, and I’m still wading through the beautifully written treacle that is The Starless Sea.

My 5* Reads

Saga continues to just blow me away with it’s creativity, I find myself spending so long scouring the page in awe of the amazing art work (some of it stomach churningly graphic) I just wish it was longer!

My 4* Reads

An action packed, magic filled YA read! This was one that was sadly marked down for a problematic depiction of alcohol use but other than that one passage it’s a fantastic book, you can find my review in the reviews section of the blog.

My 3.5* Reads

Yes, I’m super sad to have to put Court of Miracles here, but it had a lofty height to fall from, whilst at it’s height it was dazzling, it often felt muddled and dare I say a little anti climactic. Axiom’s End was really hard to review because the premise and the execution was mind blowing, but again I found the depiction of consent very troubling. Reviews for both are on the review tab.

I’m currently Partway through The Starless Sea as I mentioned and I’m also trying to read Priory of the Orange Tree but this time on Audio. Where I’m back out at work more I’m getting the chance to listen again during my commutes, although Samantha Shannon mentioned on Twitter yesterday about there being incest in the book which i’m not looking forward to. My kindle read is All the Stars and Teeth which I’m actually loving so fingers crossed that continues!

Review of The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie).
When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

The Court of Miracles had some impressive marketing shoes to fill, I don’t think I have ever ridden the hype train so hard! As release day drew closer it became clear that I was one of many who had put this book high upon a pedestal. I read it as part of a buddy read which has really helped to solidify my thoughts for this review but my pedestal has hit a giant wobble as I found The Court of Miracles to be a book which at its heights was dazzling, but at its lows became baffling and muddled.

Kester Grant has created a wonderfully dark and complex underworld which is the focal point of the story. Our morally grey protagonist (always the best kind!) Nina finds herself embraced by the Thieves Guild at an early age, she is the Guild’s darling with her ability to get the most coveted of prizes, but ultimately she is biding her time and playing the long game to rescue her sister who has been callously sold to the Flesh Guild by their father. She is singularly focused and despite distractions she never lets go of that driving force. I found the characterisation of the Guild Masters to be well imagined, they are often portrayed as creepy and terrifying and I found that I didn’t know who to trust out of even the most genuine sounding of them, there are some interesting allegiance switches to keep an eye out for! Whilst Paris is an established world, great attention to detail was given to the construction of the Guilds and the Court itself, a really atmospheric feeling and Kester Grant is talented at really sinking deep into the atmospherics, painting both an almost cloying and choking feel for the gutters yet an exuberant and almost extravagant feel for some of the Guilds that hold the streets together.

The heist elements, and I do love a heist, were well written and fast paced, Nina’s time in the Chaetelet was my favourite and brought a gleeful smile as the plan unfolded. This was Nina at her focused best and she was wonderful to read. Unusually where some books have a typically slower middle act, The Court of Miracles bucked that trend and in fact formed my favourite section of the book. I felt completely drawn into the guilds and I adored getting to know all their little quirks and rules as Nina circles through them to garner help on her quest. The ghostly forgotten children of the streets of Paris who form the Guild of Beggars, was starkly heartbreaking in that they were the most feared purely through their sheer numbers. I also found it refreshing that Kester Grant didn’t shy away from spanning long passages of time and it often left me fearing that Nina’s quest was become a lost cause

The parts of the story were wonderfully linked and prefaced with extracts of Kipling, the way the extracts were woven into the book were joyful. Each interpretation becoming strikingly clear and less cryptic as the story went on, I found this to be a unique and imaginative twist.

Whilst I initially found the parallel of the revolution running alongside of, and sometimes intertwining with, Nina’s story exciting, for me it quickly became a heavy chain around the stories’ neck. The closing stages felt like book was being pulled in too many directions and none of them getting the full attention they deserved. Sections taking place in the palace felt tedious at times, with Nina simply recounting lists of things she could see and quite honestly, I felt that these were sections the book could have done without. At it’s core this is the story of Nina rescuing her sister from the clutches of the evil Tiger whilst traversing the tricky honour codes of the guilds, but he revolution element just diluted that so much with distractions and an ever expanding cast of characters which I started to find hard to keep track of. Ettie was not a character that I particularly connected to either, I know Cosette features heavily in the Les Mis story but I kind of felt her reason for being in this story was somewhat shoehorned.

Whilst there were huge parts of this story that I enjoyed, and when I was in these parts I just flew through the pages, I just felt there was a lot that felt muddled and rushed and dare I say anti climactic at times.


Review of Axioms End by Lindsay Ellis

Firstly I would like to thank Titan books and Netgalley for both a digital and physical arc of this book. This is a shorter review than usual as I was tied by an Instagram character limit. The spoiler section is an addition.

“Life is common, intelligent life is not”

Axiom’s end is set in an alternate 2007, conspiracy theories and a wiki leaks style culture is high – our protagonist Cora sadly forms part of the fallout and we follow her as the unlikely pioneer of first contact with an alien race. The books was one which I became immediately caught up in, the writing was intelligent, I felt immersed in the story and the cat and mouse style in the early stages gave it a thriller feel. As Cora starts to realise the gravity of what she has been caught up in and the depth of what has come before I really felt for her. Se was a fantastic character and she was portrayed sympathetically given her age. The book gives a deep and thought provoking look at the caste system and no matter how intelligent the life is there are always those who are looked down on. Ampersands description of their society is sometimes chilling and the exploration of two unlike species trying to find commonality felt grounded.

Unfortunately the dynamic between Cora and Ampersand didn’t sit well with me which I’ll explain more in the spoiler section below.

Ultimately though I found this an exciting read which was interspersed with leaked documents to give context to the story – I found myself not wanting to put it down and if you get a chance to follow some of the internet links in the book, give it a try!






I have to now say that an otherwise excellent story was completely marred but what I felt to be a problematic relationship between Cora and Ampersand. I’ve spent a long time looking at other reviews and it seems I am alone in this and whilst I wonder if it’s just me and i perhaps read it wrong, I can’t escape that it angered me. Cora is your typical teenage girl who has lost her male role model which leads to poor life choices. Firstly it’s a loose beauty and the beast retelling which I find bizarre in the context, Cora is a teen and Ampersand is 600+ but what the real kicker for me is the feigned use of consent. It’s like “isn’t Ampersand all cool because he asks for her consent before he touches her” like he’s considerate of her feelings. But lets remember, he simply asks “do you consent” she never knows what type of touch she is consenting to and just blindly keeps saying yes and then hoping for the best. All this pales in comparison to the fact that without her consent Ampersand “fusion bonds” with her in order to keep tabs on her after the tracker he forcibly implanted in her (by holding her face down in mud) is forcibly removed by another alien he has fusion bonded with. This is an utter violation of her mind gone unchecked, it appears that the two species fusion bond differently (who would have thought) and Cora is able to “feel” Ampersand. The conclusion is harrowing for Cora in my view, she discovers that she has been blindly running into dangerous situations, ones which literally leave her cleaved almost in two, because of this fusion bond link. She can no longer think for herself as all her thoughts are consumed by her bond which she did not consent to. I personally find this sinister and this is the life that Cora now has forever.


At Home Yalc – bringing all the fun together!

This weekend was meant to be a joyful occasion for young adult book lovers as YALC rolled around for another fantastic experience of meeting authors, listening to panels, getting tons of books and meeting up with friends who many of us only get to meet virtually. We’ll forget about the heat and the fact that we won’t get to see Jason Momoa doing one of his usual rounds. For those of us who are sad to be missing out don’t fear, as #athomeyalc is here to sate your bookish needs. I’ve also included links to some of our lovely bookish small businesses too to fill our merch needs at the bottom of the post. I’ll be updating this as I gather more information!

You can simply follow the hashtag or you can first visit Taller Books where there is a ton of information about the virtual book fair that Rachel Churcher has set up! There’s a schedule where you can follow a live twitter feed from all all the 13 authors involved, there will be giveaways, live readings, Q&A’s and a ton of other fun stuff happening that you should definitely check out on Saturday.

Walker Books are putting together panels, giveaways and links to samplers going live on Netgalley for request. You can sign up to panels which will be hosted via Zoom and I’m particularly excited to the panel hosted by Lauren James because her circumstances meant that she couldn’t attend last year. You can find all the details on the Walker YA website including a link to enter a giveaway for a physical proof of The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Lauren James will also be doing readings of her new book The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker on Instagram!

UKYABA are hosting two free blogging and vlogging workshops via you tube on Friday 23rd, you can check out the link here you can also follow them on Twitter  to check out loads of great posts full of tips and tricks from their award nominees!

Hot Key Books YA are also putting together a whole host of fun and games across the weekend including giveaways and opportunities to bag some of those exclusive proofs! Make sure you’re hanging our on twitter if you’re after anything in their banner!

My Kinda Book (MacMillan) have released their schedule too, there will also be giveaways and cover reveals happening across the weekend!

Anderson Press have a you tube discussion with Ciara Smyth and L.C. Rosen which will be available to view across the YALC weekend!

The lovely people at Team BKMRK will be hosting a live Q&A on Instagram with Lucy Powrie and Juno Dawson on the 26th at 6pm!

Looks like the team over at Bloomsbury will be celebrating over on their Instagram!

Harper Voyager, Hodderscape, Harper 360 will also be celebrating as well during the weekend and I’ll update this page as more details become available, also the official YALC twitter account should be a one stop shop too!

Bookish Goodies!

With all the publisher excitement, lets not forget the lovely small businesses that we would usually see at YALC!

Geeky Clean are currently fully stocked an you can save 10% on your purchases using my code paperbacksandpinot10

Bookish Burns amazing candles are available on their Etsy Store

Paper and Word have all the gorgeous book sleeves available on their website!


Bookish Ramblings: WWW Wednesday!

Hi everyone! I feel like I have been terrible with my blogging recently, coming out of lockdown is making it very obvious how much my body has got used to be pretty much indoors all the time. I’ve been back at work and long days (even the short ones too) really take it out of me. I’ve been formatting as well in the evenings as well as doing that typical book blogger thing of signing up to more reviews than I have time for!

So for a quick post today I thought I would share with you 3 reads for WWW Wednesday.

What I’m Reading Now

I just finished Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis yesterday for part of an Instagram tour with Titan Books. Its a great read full of conspiracy theories, first contact and understanding of a complex alien race. I struggled with the relationship portrayal in the book especially when it came to the subject of consent (not in a sexual context) It kind of put a downer on what I felt was an otherwise intelligently written book.

What was my Last Read

The Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall was another book tour read which I found to be great fun. It’s a fast paced and exciting story full of lots of YA goodness. Young people bonding with creatures named Eldrins in order to fulfil a magical destiny and battle a villainous plague – what not to love? Well there was one passage that I felt was unnecessary and was to do with peer pressure and alcohol – I think I’m just getting cantankerous in my old age though as no other reviewers seemed to pick up on it!

What am I Reading Next

After spending the larger part of July reading books for review, my next read will be one for me and tonight I’m going to start reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. The Night Circus has far and away been my favourite read this year so far so I’m really excited to dive into a new world created by this author.

Let me know what you WWW’s are in the comments!

Review of Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.
So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.
In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

The Knightmare Arcanist is one of those books that grabs you from the very first page. It manages to cram so much into its pages that when you look back to the start point it feels like a whole trilogy has passed! Volke was an instantly likeable character, determined and yet vulnerable by his desperation to become an Arcanist and move away from a simple gravediggers apprentice and his dubious heritage. The early stages of the story, as he endeavours to prove his worth, make for an explosive opener. His dynamic with fellow apprentice and Arcanist wannabe, Illia, is thoughtfully played out (for the most part) and their foster sibling connection makes for a unified team rather than the overplayed sibling rivalry it could have been. There is a great supporting cast and Zelfree was just amazing, like a Haymitch Abernathy, and was the perfect antidote to the overbearingly smug Ruma. I do wish that the blurb had been a little less forthcoming about Ruma’s character though as it felt like a large chunk of the suspense was removed because of it. The backdrop of the plague was ominous and ironically those on his namesake island blissfully unaware of the depth of problem which leads to some shocking discoveries. The impact leads to some terrifying moments and the story does take a gruesome turn from time to time, especially during the epic closing set piece.

I really loved the magic system, each Arcanist pairing with an Eldrin who range from the mythical to the somewhat unusual, honestly one made me do a double take, but I enjoyed that the more humble of sealife got to shine for once! The magic is simple and effective, each Eldrin has a skill which is enhanced and manipulated by bonding with an Arcanist, whilst we have the usual elemental control, Volke finds himself being the master of shadow and his Knightmare

Unfortunately this story missed off the 5th star for me because of a problematic and completely unnecessary passage which didn’t drive the story forward at all. Whilst I’m fond of a drink myself I felt that the notion of dutch courage for a girl to feel pretty enough to approach a boy was reductive, the idea that a character indicates that they are teetotal and another one says that they’ll soon change that, was unnecessary and almost sinister that a young adult couldn’t make their own choices about alcohol without peer pressure from others. The whole passage was awkward and weird and marred an otherwise flawless read.

There were a few nods to some established fantasy series throughout which I really enjoyed, like little Easter eggs within the story, which flowed well and was full of pace and suspense. The author did a great job of combining background whilst progressing the story and never gives you too much information at once. The Knightmare Arcanist is a really great read, filled with fantastic characters and a story that will keep you on your toes, it’s a series that I’ll definitely want to continue!


Buy Link Amazon

Shami Stovall is a multi-award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction, with several best-selling novels under her belt. Before that, she taught history and criminal law at the college level, and loved every second. When she’s not reading fascinating articles and books about ancient China or the Byzantine Empire, Stovall can be found playing way too many video games, especially RPGs and tactics simulators. 

If you want to contact her, you can do so at the following locations:






The Lost City Blog Tour – Q&A with Amanda Hocking!

I was so excited to be approached to take part in the blog tour for The Lost City by Amanda Hocking, thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press and Wednesday Books for inviting me! Despite Amanda Hocking being a new author to me and her fantasy world well established, I felt completely at home with The Lost City which I found a really light and fun read!

First here’s the blurb!

Welcome to a world in the shadow of our own, a fairytale land where the dangers are very real . . . In this first book in the Omte Origins trilogy, Amanda Hocking creates a fantastic adventure in her much-loved Trylle universe.

Can she unlock the secrets of her past?

Ulla Tulin was abandoned in an isolated Kanin town as a baby. Taken in by strangers and raised hidden away like many half-blood trolls, she has never stopped searching for her parents, or wondering about them.

When Ulla hears of a project to help half-blood trolls, in the beautiful city of Merellä, she seizes the chance to discover her true heritage. She enlists the help of Pan Soriano, who is both handsome and resourceful – a half-human with telekinesis powers. And she must also contend with Eliana, a mysterious girl who claims she’s being pursued. Though Ulla suspects there’s rather more to the story.

Ulla and Pan work to unravel the truth about themselves and Eliana. But in the process, they realize that someone – or something – is determined to stop them. And they face a force that will do anything to keep certain secrets.

The Lost City by Amanda Hocking is the terrific first book in the Omte Origins trilogy.

If you new to the series or an established fan, sit back with a beverage and a biscuit and enjoy this wonderful Q&A with Amanda Hocking!

There’s been so much excitement and anticipation for more books in the world of the Trylle and Kanin.  What made you decide to revisit those worlds now in The Omte Origins trilogy? 

I knew as soon as I wrote Ulla as a small character in Crystal Kingdom (the final book of the Kanin Chronicles) that I was going to write a trilogy about her, but it was just a matter of when. After the Kanin Chronicles, I wanted to take a little break from that world and visit others – which I did with Freeks and the Valkyrie duology. By then, I was so ready to dive back into the world and answer some lingering questions I had left for the Trylle and Kanin. 

Why make this the final trilogy?

With the Omte Origins, I feel like I’ve been able to say everything I want to about the worlds. Through the three trilogies, I spent time with all five tribes. Wendy’s mother is Trylle and her father is Vittra, and her story has her visiting both kingdoms. Bryn’s mother is Skojare and her father is Kanin, and her trilogy shows life in the Kanin and Skojare cities, as well as travelling to others beyond that. I won’t say who exactly Ulla’s parents are (that would be spoiling the story) but her journey takes her through the troll kingdoms, with interesting detours through the Omte, Trylle, and Kanin tribes.

What are the most challenging aspects of writing a new trilogy that can be read independently, but is set in a world–the Trylle and Kanin–that you’ve written about before?  

The hardest challenge is getting new readers caught up with the world and the lingo without feeling repetitive and boring to longtime fans of the series. I try use this an opportunity to show characters and situations from different angles. The Wendy the audience meets at the beginning of Switched is vastly different Wendy than the that Ulla knows in the Omte Origins. So for new readers, they get introduced Wendy as she currently is, and for repeat readers, they can see who Wendy has become and who she appears to be through the eyes of an average citizen with Ulla.

What’s the most fascinating thing you researched while writing The Lost City?

With the Omte Origins, I really looked back at the course of troll history, and their past has dovetailed with the Vikings and other artic peoples. So I did a lot research on early Vikings and indigenous arctic people, primarily the Inuit and the Sami. My favorite parts were reading their folklore. I even got an Inuit cookbook, and I attempted to make Bannock (a traditional Inuit bread). It did not turn out well, but I blame that entirely on my cooking skills (or lack thereof) and not the recipe.

The “Glossary” and “Tribal Facts” sections at the end of the book are fascinating and really help create a layered, fleshed out world.  Was putting those together as much fun as writing the novel?  

It was so much fun. It’s been over ten years and nine books (and several short stories), so I have spent a lot time of thinking and doing world-building. I honestly have enough information for a history book about the worlds of the Trylle, but I don’t know there’s a demand for fictional textbooks. The Tribal Facts were actually one of the first things I wrote for the Omte series, because I went through and get myself reacquainted and made sure I had all my important facts straight.

Was your writing routine affected by the stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic?  

My routine itself hasn’t been too affected, since I write from home, but I would say that the stress has a negative impact on me, the way it has for many of us that work in creative fields – or any field at all, honestly. My husband has been working from home, and my stepson had been doing long distance learning before summer break, but that hasn’t really changed too much for me. I usually work after they go to bed and stay up late into the early morning hours.

Were there any favorite songs or music you listened to while writing this book?  

Yes, definitely! I listen to so much music when I write, and I even have curated playlists to go along with my books on Spotify. Some of my favorite songs to write to were “Ella” by Myrkur, “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, and “Delicate” by Taylor Swift. I also listened to a lot of Wardruna, who are this Norwegian band who make traditional Nordic music with historically accurate instruments. For the soundtrack to the Omte Origins, I wanted it be a blend of traditional Nordic music, mellow seventies folk to go with the trolls delayed pop culture tastes, and pop music that gets through with the trendier younger generations of trolls.

Do you think the music you listen to has an influence on the stories?  Or do the stories influence the music you choose?

I think it’s both, honestly. When I’m picking songs for the playlist, I definitely choose them based on the kind of emotions I want to feel and the tone I want to set for whatever I’m writing. Sometimes I’ll put particularly romantic songs on repeat when writing a love scene or an angry fast-paced instrumental for a fight scene. 

What books or authors are you reading or excited to read lately?

I’m super excited about Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy. It comes out the same day as The Lost City, and it’s about a plus-size teenage girl who discovers that she can fly. I recently read A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Rosanne Brown, and I’m counting down the days until The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna and The Project by Courtney Summers. 

Any hints you can share about what’s coming next after The Omte Origins Trilogy?

I’m currently working on a stand-alone fantasy inspired by Greek mythology, but I don’t know when it will be out yet. I’ve got ideas for dozens of projects after that, and I’m working hard (and having fun) getting through them all.

The Lost City is out today and available through the following retailers!



Barnes & Noble


If you wanted to catch up with all things Amanda Hocking related there are so many ways to do so through any of the links below!

Author website

Twitter @Amanda_Hocking


Author Blog





Review of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Despite getting this book on release day I’ve only just got round to reading it, since release I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews which did lead to a lot of trepidation on my part going in but I tried to keep an open mind. Like many, I was hoping for a Mags back story, so a whole book about Snow felt disappointing from the start, however, young Snow was an easy character to read and I found myself picking up the book at every spare moment. Snow’s background is unexpected, but do you know what, every time I started to feel sympathy I had to remind myself that this is Snow.

The Hunger Games is far from the glittering spectacle that we see in Katniss’s time. Malnourished and ill tributes, basic weapons that they are barely strong enough to hold and a bleak arena, the “lesson” isn’t being taught to the districts as most of them don’t have the TV’s to watch. The story is set just 10 years after the war and the physical scars run deep, Panem is still rebuilding and the games an afterthought of sorts. However, we get to see the building blocks of future games which was a fascinating process. There is a certain irony laced throughout the story, that Snow finds himself with the District 12 girl the greatest. From the mention of the Katniss plants to the origin of several of the songs that future Katniss will sing, the way these feed into his psyche give a welcome explanation to his treatment of future Katniss in the original trilogy.  I liked the nod to powerful families and names we recognise and I do wonder what randomiser Suzanne Collins uses to come up with some of these names!

What made this book for me was understanding Snows analytical mind, throughout he was always one thought ahead, considering how his outward persona disguises his inner turmoil, he has a serious chip about the lot he has found himself with. He still has a moral compass although the way he is able to compartmentalise it to further himself in an often ruthless way was disturbing, his inbuilt elitism simmering beneath the surface. Even the idea of love felt mechanical, a distraction at best and something to learn from. The change is subtle but when taken over 500 pages gives a natural progression. One things for certain, he has an outstanding story arc. I do have to mention Lucy Gray as she is the next most important player, however I struggled to particularly warm to her. Personally I feel that she was as calculated as Snow in many ways and always putting on a show of sorts.`

Whilst we are with the games and the lead up to them the book has pace, the macabre fascination with who gets taken out and in what way is as real as ever especially given the evolution within those few days. However part 3 was where the story started to lose its way for me. Snow needed to be humbled and get those experiences but the pace just plummeted and honestly it felt like wading through tar at times, although I still had a need to keep going. I just didn’t care about that aspect of the story, mainly due to my thoughts about Lucy Gray. I felt like final set piece was written with an element of nepotism for the inevitable film child this book will produce. It plays out in way that would be striking on screen, it just lacked clarity on the page. I had to re-read several times and I’m still not really sure, whilst there is an element of the existential for one of the characters I would have preferred actual closure.

I did find it an enjoyable read though and actually a quick read for the number of pages. Snow was the right kind of morally grey protagonist and actually more engaging than I thought he would be – although he’s still Snow. I’m hoping that this might be the start of a new trilogy, I would still love to see a Mags games and it would be the perfect segue into Snow’s time as Gamemaker.



Review of The Lost City by Amanda Hocking

Nestled along the bluffs of the forested coast lays the secret kingdom of the Omte—a realm filled with wonder…and as many secrets.
Ulla Tulin was left abandoned in an isolated Kanin city as a baby, taken in by strangers and raised hidden away like many of the trolls of mixed blood. Even knowing this truth, she’s never stopped wondering about her family.
When Ulla is offered an internship working alongside the handsome Pan Soriano at the Mimirin, a prestigious institution, she jumps at the chance to use this opportunity to hopefully find her parents. All she wants is to focus on her job and the search for her parents, but all of her attempts to find them are blocked when she learns her mother may be connected to the Omte royal family.
With little progress made, Ulla and Pan soon find themselves wrapped up in helping Eliana, an amnestic girl with abilities unlike any they have ever seen before—a girl who seems to be running from something. To figure out who she is they must leave the city, and possibly, along the way, they may learn more about Ulla’s parents.

Firstly a big thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book for review. Going in I thought that I might struggle having never read anything previously by this author and her Trylle trilogy, but there’s plenty there for a newcomer. From the cover I was expecting a YA high fantasy, but it was a quirky hybrid between both high and low with the fantastical Mimirin, with its magical creatures and spells contrasting with the use of electronic devices and pop culture TV and music. At first I found that a little jarring, but actually I grew to really like those little moments. I also want to mention that the cover has a great body positive representation of Ulla which is fantastic!

The Lost City is a book full of fun and genuinely likeable characters, I instantly warmed to Ulla although I was saddened by a passage where she starting listing her perceived physical faults which felt endless. She was down to earth and easy to read, her character wasn’t reckless and I liked how she didn’t fall into many of the established tropes she could have done. Her wonderful sense of caring really shone through and I found her really refreshing as a YA protagonist. Dagny I think is my favourite, she has quite the little character arc going on and I feel that she will be a great ally in future books.

The books main focus is within the Mimirin itself and I wish we had got to know more about it, whilst Hocking has a wonderfully descriptive writing style, it felt a very character driven piece with the focus on Ulla’s search rather than the world around her. The introduction of Eliana broke up Ulla’s search in the archives well and added that much needed additional dimension to keep the story flowing, albeit slowly. It’s a very breadcrumb start and for me took a while to really get going, granted lots of foundations are laid and there is a lot of information and character introduction, however, things had just started to get really interesting and I turned the page to find the end.  The last 10% was so good, with a lot of twists and some much needed action that really drove the story forward and gave it greater purpose and upped the star rating a little from me.  Whilst frustrating this last section was enough to make me intrigued enough to carry on with the series, I just felt disappointed at the abrupt end. I did however have a sneeky peek at the cover and blurb for book 2 and it’s looking good!

One thing that I really enjoyed was the section after the story had concluded which outlined the different tribes and a brief history, this was likely the bulk of what happened in previous books and I was glad to have it, it would have been nice for it to have been at the start though as I would have felt more comfortable with the world and then the story itself could have perhaps been just a little more focused.

Overall though it’s great little read that flowed nicely, with endearing characters and some Ace rep. The minor romance element is mainly feelings based and would be perfect for a teen reader to the younger end of the YA market.


Bookish Ramblings July TBR

It’s the start of a new month and I’m aiming for more positive outlook as things begin to return to the new normal! I’m going to try and be more present with my blogging and I’m hoping that will reflect in my reviews and I’ll find it easier to write them again! So what do I have planned this month!

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

A book that I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for! I wasn’t lucky enough to snag an arc but I did manage to get the simply stunning Illumicrate edition! I feel like I may have put this book on a pedestal but I’ve only seen great reviews for it so far, this will also be this months buddy read for me with @shamelessmoodreader.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

I seem to be picking Illumicrate books this month! One of my stand out reads of the year so far has been The Night Circus so I’m looking forward to getting into another beautiful and lyrical world.

Saga Volume Two

I received Saga Volume one as a birthday present from @shamelessmoodreader when she found out that I had never read a graphic novel before! Volume one was a 5 star for me so I can’t wait to see how the story continues – although I know I have a long way to go to catch up!

The Flight of the Spark by Evelyn Puerto

I’m am very grateful to the author for sending me a paperback copy for review, it’s been a while since I’ve read an Indie, which I feel disappointed in myself about and I want this to be the start of more regular reads. It’s a YA fantasy book so perfect for me!

I may add one more to the list but I think I’m going to see where the mood takes me!