Bookish Ramblings: August Wrap Up!

I’m happy to say that August was a good reading month for me! After several months of barely getting through books and feeling disappointed with hyped reads i have to admit I was starting to wonder if it was just me, but I have had several books this month to restore my faith in reading! I think the main difference this month is because I’ve had time. Although being at home is nothing new, being at home and not having to both work and occupy the kids, is. We also went on a short break for a few days where I got several books finished. I’m making great progress on Priory of the Orange tree too, I’ve been reading on Audio book and the narrator is great, I have about 3 hours left and I’m really hoping that I’ll get it smashed in September, but that’s a post for tomorrow!

So here are my August reads!

My 5 Star Reads

This makes me smile so much, I’ve barely scraped together a single five star review over the last couple of months! I still have to get reviews up for a couple of these so check back over the next week or two to find out why I loved this so much!

My 4 Star Reads (Well 4.5 really)

This sadly missed out on a 5 star because of just how rushed the ending felt, I read this as a group read and I know many others felt the same, the book is outstanding though just be prepared for it to be over in a blink!

My 3 Star Reads

I also read Children of Time by Adrian Tchaicovsky this month but it was a 2 star read, for me it fell flat in the middle section and just couldn’t recover, because of my rating I won’t be reviewing on the blog, but I have left some thoughts on my Goodreads.

Now I have to start thinking about what I’m going to read in September, usually I have it all planned out already but I honestly have no idea other than Seven Devils at the moment, check back tomorrow to see if I finally managed to make up my mind!

Happy reading!

Review of Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

It’s 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.
Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she’s tiny until the night she’s sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball . are forfeit.
But Sophia doesn’t want to be chosen – she’s in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia’s night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world.

I don’t often get on with retellings, I usually find them incredibly lacking so I went into Cinderella is Dead with both an element of trepidation and excitement as I had heard amazing things. I read this book as part of a group readalong through Tandem Collective and I’m grateful to them and Bloomsbury YA for the review copy.

I’m going to start by saying that this book sets the bar for what imaginative and totally out of the box retellings can achieve, the complete antithesis of the Cinderella fairy tale we all know well and i absolutely loved it. Although it has a historical fantasy feel it also does have quite a large element of dystopia. Citizens are forced to read only a sanctioned palace version of the Cinderella Story, which they must memorise and be able to recite on a whim. The ball has become an elaborate meat market when the women are commodities to be fawned over by the most repellent males in society. Sophia is the antithesis of this regime, she doesn’t want a man, she wants a girl and she’s going to do everything she can to break the cycle. Sophia was honestly a breath of fresh air of a character, she had the right balance of tough facade and vulnerability, combined with an intense inquisitive nature and obvious drive to meet her goal. Her pairing with Constance is wonderful to read and they make a formidable team with Constance’s scepticism and wariness the perfect antidote to Sophia’s sometimes naive and trusting approach. They make this story wonderful, with some brilliant side characters too.

At it’s heart though, Cinderella is Dead feels like an ode against misogyny and the patriarchy. I felt it likened to the suffragette movement as the women and girls want to live without fear and feel equality, rather than facing a life subjected to domestic violence and being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It’s often a tough read because of those issues but they are dealt with head on and with brutal clarity. The castle, a sign of dreams come true, feels like a looming oppressive force to remind subjects to keep in line and what ultimately awaits them if they don’t. It gets very dark at times too, with scenes of necromancy and vivid depiction of the dead. On the flip side though we have the stirrings of an uprising, little flickers of dissent and moments of light when women speak up, even if they know the consequence.

There is a HUGE twist that I did not see coming at all, plenty of others in the read along felt that way too and it honestly turns the story on it’s head, I was left in shock at the revelation which drives the story into chaos – and I loved it! However whilst the wonderfully crafted world and lead up to the finale felt well paced and full of great story telling, the ending felt so rushed, I’m all for pace in the closing stages but this felt like I blinked and it was over. This was a shame as such care had been taken with how the story had come together up to that point. It’s a great finale, I just wished it had lasted as long as some of the lead up.

Cinderella is Dead was a fantastic, easy and pacy read full of both important and strong topics and great fantasy, I loved it!


Review of All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.
She will reign.
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

Wow. Well what can I say about this book other than I utterly adored every single page! All the Stars and Teeth was the book that I needed to read right now and totally pulled me out of my 2 month reading slump. Whilst firmly into traditional YA fantasy territory everything was perfection. From the opening pages it was clear that this was a story that wasn’t afraid of taking a darker turn and whilst I thought I had the story pegged from the first few chapters, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Amora is such a strong protagonist, I really enjoyed her morality and dedication, she is focused and where so many YA protagonists fall down with distraction, Adalyn Grace goes to great lengths to make sure that we know Amora isn’t like that. Amora is helped by hugely by strong supporting characters who all lift her up, a wonderful mini squad. Vataea is by far my favourite, reminding me a lot of Lysandra from Throne of Glass, she is the power house of the team. Whilst there is a suggestion of budding romance, it is kept at just that and it creates a nice sub plot, but remember that focus? Amora was a character who was open and willing to learn and be educated about harsh realities of a kingdom that has been hidden from her.

The magic system is impressive and the restrictions on magic meant that everyone had useful skill to bring to the table. The world building was sound, I loved the difference between the islands, the decadence and the destitution. The attention to detail creating a really rich backdrop, the use of time magic by far the most impressively written outside of Amora’s own soul magic.  Even the ocean itself felt like it’s own little world with plenty of creative creatures and, the Ship Keel Haul with more than a few secrets of it own. The story flowed well with relentless pace, each location given time to be fully explored with the current of urgency still very much at the forefront, I never felt that I was left with unanswered questions. There is plenty of action and these scenes are played out with skilled writing that left me wide eyed, each location bought a new and more serious foe ramping up to a cataclysmic finale. There is no fluff to be found here, even with the interwoven flashback, and by the end I felt emotionally spent.

If you want a dark and pacy YA read, full of pirates, mermaids and amazing magics, I highly recommend All the Stars and Teeth! Thank you to Titan books and Netgalley for both the digital and finished review copies.


Review of Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?
In these dangerous days, no one can be trusted, everyone is to be feared. As Camille learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between loyalty to those she loves and the future.

“you can’t just write “we’re all equal” on a piece of paper and expect everything to be okay. People are selfish and shortsighted and don’t know how to change”

I feel like Dangerous Remedy is an either love it or nonplussed by it book. I say it like that, as the story reminds us that the opposite of love isn’t hate but have to say I did fall down on the nonplussed side of the fence for this one. The story is pacey and whilst I do enjoy a countdown to bring focus, I feel the author backed herself into a corner by giving our team a very short time frame to work with. Kat Dunn, is though very good a writing set pieces and the opener is certainly stunning, and a pretty unique introduction to her characters. I’m a sucker for a squad and a heist and all the boxes were firmly ticked. I found I flew through the first chapters, with my heart pounding and loving that as a reader I was thrown right into the action. There were a number of similar moments throughout, which did manage to recapture the excitement of that opening stage, and the feeling of terror that some of the scenes evoked showed a real storytelling skill. However, if not in a set piece situation the story for me felt a little static, moving mainly between a couple of interchangeable safe houses, where opportunities to delve more deeply into the story felt missed.

The backdrop of revolutionary Paris was pictured well and delves into the aftermath of the execution of the Royals which is a time that often get missed. The almost blood thirsty need to take out the entirety of the aristocracy felt chilling and somewhat lawless, I would have loved to have learnt more about the Battalion and the feats they accomplished as the story shows that they had done plenty of good leading up to current events.

I sadly couldn’t get on with Camille, I found her to be utterly reckless and honestly a little bit rubbish. I have no idea why she was the leader of the Battalion where there are clearly better choices, such as Guile, close by. I get that perhaps she was painted in a comedy of errors style, but when people’s heads are literally on the block you would think that someone would have the guts to stand up to her and say “let someone else have a try.” But therein lies the problem, by lacking development in the other characters Camille is the only obvious choice to drive the story forward. Honestly I still have little idea about Olympe and why everyone’s so desperate for her and her abilities; Guile and Al had snatches of brilliant back story but they just weren’t given the time to shine which is a shame as they were probably the stand out characters for me.

I don’t know, I’m not the age demographic and I did read this during a heatwave which didn’t help so I feel bad being overly harsh as I know there is a lot of love for this book. For the most part this book was a missed opportunity for me, the book should have been longer to have allowed the author time to flesh out the characters and fully explain the situations they find themselves in. For me, having that extra knowledge and substance would have made this a 5* read because it has glorious potential. Because of the issues I had with the story I kind of feel that the twist to propel this book into sequel territory felt forced in and perhaps would have worked well as a standalone, but I’m not going to gainsay what the author has planned next. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll pick up the sequel.

Kat Dunn has a great writing style and is definitely an author I would like to read more from, I picked the quote because in the current climate it spoke to me so much and shows that Kat Dunn has a brilliance and understanding to her story telling which makes her one to keep an eye on. Dangerous Remedy was a quick and mostly enjoyable read, I just would have liked more depth.



Bookish Ramblings: WWW Wednesday

Hey everyone, it feels like despite my good intentions the current heat wave in the UK has really taken a toll on my ability to do pretty much anything of use. I know our temperatures are low in comparison to many countries but the UK just isn’t set up for heat, we don’t have air conditioning in our homes and the heat we get is humid and sticky and gross. I’m hoping hard for thunderstorms tonight!

What I read last

At the weekend I finished The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, I have so many mixed feelings about this book. The writing was beautiful and the story was unique and captivating, but for some reason it felt like a slog to get through. I felt like I was wading through the honey of the story and I felt like no matter how much I read I felt like I didn’t make a dent. Ultimately I did enjoy it, it’s just going to be a tough one to review fully!

What I’m reading now

True to form I’m reading 3 at the moment, Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn in hardback, Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon on audio, and All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace on kindle. Dangerous Remedy isn’t really capturing me the way I was hoping, Priory I’m glad that I got on audio as I have now passed where I stopped on the physical copy and I’m really enjoying the story. All the Stars and Teeth I’m loving so far!!

What I’m reading next

At the end of this week, I’m taking part in my first readalong with Tandem Collective and the book is Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron, my copy is on it’s way and hopefully will arrive in time for the start on Friday!

Bookish Ramblings: August Tbr

Last month I managed to only read one of my 3 reads, I signed up to too many reviews and one of my reads was significantly longer than I anticipated! I’m sticking to just 3 for this month again as I think any more is totally unrealistic!

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

I managed to grab this early – Forbidden Planet sent their signed editions out last month, I know that it’s Paris again and I’m mindful that I read The Court of Miracles last month but I’ve been so excited for this release that I just don’t care that it’s a similar setting!

Camille, a revolutionary’s daughter, leads a band of outcasts – a runaway girl, a deserter, an aristocrat in hiding. As the Battalion des Mortes they cheat death, saving those about to meet a bloody end at the blade of Madame La Guillotine. But their latest rescue is not what she seems. The girl’s no aristocrat, but her dark and disturbing powers means both the Royalists and the Revolutionaries want her. But who and what is she?
In these dangerous days, no one can be trusted, everyone is to be feared. As Camille learns the truth, she’s forced to choose between loyalty to those she loves and the future.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

I’m signed up to the Instagram tour for this book through Darkroom Tours, I’ve also signed up for the Tandem Collective read along notes for a bit of extra fun with this one!

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood.
That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

An absolute power house of my tbr finally gets it’s time! This one will definitely be reached this month as it’s my monthly buddy read with @shamelessmoodreader I’m actually looking forward to reading an adult sci-fi, dare I say I think I need a break from YA.

A race for survival among the stars… Humanity’s last survivors escaped earth’s ruins to find a new home. But when they find it, can their desperation overcome its dangers?
The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age—a world terraformed and prepared for human life.
But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.
Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?