Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović

Huge thank you to Harper360 for sending me a copy of Wicked Like a Wildfire!

This book has been on my TBR for a loooong time – sibling dynamics, witches that can manipulate beauty, a family curse and set in the Balkans (plus, I have to say, that cover), what’s not to love? I’m glad to say that Wicked Like a Wildfire did not disappoint!

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WLAW follows twins, Iris and Malina, living with their mother in old town Cattaro (Kotor) in Montenegro. Their family passes down a gleam –  a way of manipulating magic – which manifests differently in each woman. Iris can manipulate flowers into fractals, Malina senses moods through song, and their mother Jasmina can bake memories into flavours. Since the girls were young, Jasmina has told them that the three of them are the last of their family, and that it’s not only important to keep their magic a secret, but also vital that they never fall in love. However, when Jasmina is attacked the day after a mysterious stranger who shares their light grey eyes visits their bakery, Iris and Malina must uncover Jasmina’s secrets, and unravel the family curse that they stumble upon when discovering that Jasmina may not have been entirely truthful about her origins.

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First off, I have to say, I absolutely flew through this book! I’ve been in quite a big reading slump over the past few weeks, and WLAW was such a magical, refreshing read, I couldn’t put it down. I adored the setting – having visited some Balkan countries before, I was really interested to read more about folklore from the area, and frankly, I now really want to go to Montenegro at some point! Popović’s choice to include aspects from her Serbian heritage definitely made this book for me, and Montenegro was the perfect magical setting for such a story.

Alongside the setting and world building, I adored the characters. I definitely felt more connected to Iris, since the book was written from her point of view, but I loved reading how different the two girls were – Iris’s tough exterior compared to Malina’s softer personality really complemented each other, and Iris’s constant need to protect Malina fit perfectly with the rest of the book. I have to say, one thing that really stood out to me was Iris’s openness when talking about sex – this is something that I found really refreshing, especially in a YA book. I think it’s so important that talking about sex without the sense of shame or taboo is normalised in YA. However, I don’t think the low key slut shaming that Jasmina often directed towards Iris, in terms of her dress sense and her casual way with guys, was necessary.

Anyway, I absolutely love sister-stories (probably because I got stuck with two brothers) and as much as I loved Iris, I’m definitely hoping for book two to be from Malina’s POV!

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I have to say, I’m a huge wimp when it comes to anything even slightly scary, and parts of this book definitely creeped me out a bit, but as with everything else, this just added to the overall mysticism of the story. The way the family curse tied in with the local folklore tales worked so well, and I definitely didn’t expect that ending at all! I can’t say much else without revealing huge spoilers, but I’m in desperate need of book two right now – I have to know what happens next.

Overall, for me, Wicked Like a Wildfire was made by the relationships throughout it – not only Iris and Malina’s sisterly bond, but also Iris and Jasmina’s strained relationship which is a key focus that’s constantly developing throughout the entire book, the bonds of family members throughout generations, and there’s also a really cute f/f relationship! This was the perfect magical sisterhood book, and I am so excited to read Fierce Like a Firestorm after that plot twist filled ending. I’d definitely recommend picking up this book!

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Love Becky @
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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

“You are like a living rose amongst wax flowers. We may last forever, but you bloom brighter and smell sweeter, and draw blood with your thorns.”

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I’ve been really excited for An Enchantment of Ravens for a long time, so when I managed to get an ARC in a twitter trade (thanks again, Kelly!) I was over the moon! This book pulled me right out of my reading slump and is literally the perfect autumnal read.

An Enchantment of Ravens follows Isobel, a portrait artist living in the town of Whimsy, whose citizens mostly serve faeries through their ‘craft’. Isobel is a master of her craft, and is renowned both throughout Whimsy and the faerie courts. However, when Rook, a prince of the autumn court, commissions Isobel to paint him, she makes one deadly mistake – Isobel sees mortal sorrow in Rooks eyes and adds this detail to his painting, a weakness which could cost him his reputation and his crown. Rook then sets off to take Isobel to the autumn court to stand trial for her mistake, but the path through the faerie courts is a dangerous one for mortals to tread.

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So first off, I have to say – I definitely thought I was over faerie books, at least, YA faerie books. An Enchantment of Ravens, however, is unlike any other faerie book I’ve ever read. Although it incorporates all of the usual faerie-lore, such as an aversion to iron, being unable to lie etc, it still managed to be so unique. The faeries of Isobel’s world are unable to create anything seen as human craft (which ranges from painting to cooking, and everything in between) and therefore, they crave it – hence Isobel’s high end clients of the faerie world. I’ve always been a fond artist, and so I loved that Isobel was a painter, and the details of her painting style, method, and even her favoured oil paint colours really are what made this book stand out to me. You really could tell that Margaret Rogerson had done her research when it came to Isobel’s art, as literally no detail from the pigments to the creation of each oil painting was missed out. The descriptions throughout were vivid and beautiful, and I found it incredibly easy to picture Isobel, Rook, and their journey from Whimsy through to the Autumn court.

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I’m not generally a fan of journey books, however, this managed to be a journey book without feeling too much like one for me to get tired of the theme. The majority of the journey focused on character and relationship development, rather than jumping from one path-blocker to the next, and again, this really made the overall story for me.

If I had to give one slight criticism, it’s that I think An Enchantment of Ravens certainly could have benefited from being a bit longer. I believe it’s just about 300 pages long, and I definitely could have read about Isobel and her story for another 200 pages or more! I connected with her as a main character instantly – besides immediately clicking with her love of art, Isobel was a smart, down to earth protagonist, and you all know how much I love strong female characters. The writing was also absolutely beautiful – I cannot stress enough how much each sentence within this book was just perfectly crafted. Unfortunately, I believe that this book is a standalone, however I can say with confidence that I’ll immediately pick up anything else that Margaret Rogerson writes.

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An Enchantment of Ravens is out today and I’d highly recommend that you add it to your autumn TBR!

(PS. we’ve also just released a candle inspired by An Enchantment of Ravens on Two Candle Thieves! Take a look here!)

Love Becky @

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Mini Reviews (June 2017)

I’ve been struggling with writing reviews lately. Although I can have a lot of thoughts about a book, sometimes I find it difficult to express them all in review form. Sometimes I feel as though I don’t have anything exciting to say but still want you guys to hear my opinions. So I’ve come up with a new idea of creating posts that feature my latest reads, including some mini reviews. The good, the bad and the overall rather than including the synopsis, background, etc. So without further ado, here are my latest four reads and what I thought about them in a few sentences.
Goodreads | Book Depository

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

This may be weird to admit, but the first book genre I fell in love with as a child was crime thrillers purely because that is what my mother read so the house was full of them! I picked this book up on a whim in Brighton train station and completed it during the journey. Although it was addictive (as most crime-thrillers are) and I did read it in one sitting, the big reveal/ending/plot-twist kind of fell flat for me and it’s something I called from the beginning. However, considering this is a debut novel, I think there is definitely potential for the author’s future works.
Goodreads | Book Depository
One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

So this book is marketed as being like The Breakfast Club but with murder and for those who may not know, that is one of my favourite movies and I love a good murder mystery. This book had huge pros such as the relationship that forms between the members of the ‘Murder Squad,’ especially between ‘Queen Bee’ Addy and the ‘Brains,’ Bronwyn. However, I didn’t like the addition of somebody’s sexuality being a spoiler and once again, the big reveal just made me feel unsatisfied and felt very rushed. I wanted a huge twist. However, loved the Breakfast Club vibes and the characters themselves. Overall, a three star read for me.
Goodreads
The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera


To say I loved this book is an understatement. After being accepted for it on Netgalley (god bless) and finishing it within a day with tears in my eyes, I’ve since been trying my hardest to get a physical ARC copy just so I can hold it. No lies. Beautiful, atmospheric, full of magic and mythology but the standout is the relationship between Shefali and Shizuka, the two girls who were destined to spend their lives together. I felt as though I went on the journey with the two girls, their love came bounding off the pages to the point that I could feel like I was intruding. This book comes out on October 3rd and I would encourage you all to preorder because it is worth it.

The Suffragettes 

This book is not only about the amazing Suffragettes, our ancestors who fought for women to have a voice but it was also a £1 and it’s so cute, it’s literally pocket size. This book is filled (I say filled, it’s around 40 pages long) with news articles, speech transcripts, propaganda and memorabilia from the years of the Suffragettes. It isn’t anything special and probably doesn’t tell you anything you don’t already know but it is still an informative read, especially for those who want a basic understanding of what these women faced. 


What have you guys read lately and what has been your favourite?
Love from Angharad @

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

“Beautiful and full of monsters?”


“All the best stories are.” 


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I’ve been a huge fan of Laini Taylor ever since reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone all those years ago, so Strange the Dreamer was such a highly anticipated read for me. I’m so happy to say that it didn’t disappoint.
I’ve taken my time writing this review but, for those of you who haven’t read this book yet, I’ll be avoiding spoilers throughout this post!
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So, as always, Laini’s writing was absolutely magical; Strange the Dreamer truly felt like a fairytale, and I could almost taste and sense the beautiful descriptions being weaved throughout this story. I didn’t think it was possible, but I think Laini’s writing has improved so much since DOSAB – despite that being such a beautifully written trilogy, she’s somehow managed to grow within her writing and surpass it.
Although the story is fairly slow paced, the world building and character development means that this isn’t an issue in any way. I have to admit that Lazlo Strange is definitely one of my fictional crushes now – the gentle giant trope, his love of books, and just the general fact that overall, he is a dreamer – he was a perfect main character, and that’s coming from someone who often struggles to read novels with male main characters. Besides Lazlo, I adored all of the characters, and immediately fell in love with Sarai and her story. The way in which each characters path intertwines to connect each thread of the story together worked in the most perfect way, and although there weren’t necessarily any huge plot twists or surprises in my opinion, Strange the Dreamer had such a wonderfully woven plot and left me craving the sequel. 
Without giving away too much, I also loved how easily Strange the Dreamer could be linked to the world of DOSAB, in terms of its mythical and magical aspects, especially within the world building (although I’m not sure if this was purposeful). irregardless, I enjoyed forming the connections between the two stories.
Overall, Strange the Dreamer is a story of gods and monsters, of an orphaned librarian and a half-human girl with dreams that they can’t escape, of lost cities and lost histories, of long-standing prejudices spanning centuries, and of a dreamer who just wants to be the hero of the story, despite believing that he has no skill to ever achieve that goal. It brings together a strong social commentary on how grudges can be held against a group of people based purely on the actions of their predecessors and a simple overarching message to never give up your dream. If, deep down, you have a storytellers mind and a dreamer’s soul, this is the book for you.
love Becky @

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab

 

The final instalment in the Shades of Magic series follows our favourite Antari, Kell who is a magician with the ability to travel between alternate Londons. Teaming up with fellow magician, Delilah Bard – cutthroat pirate and thief and his brother, Rhy, heir to the throne, they must put a stop to a murderous force that threatens to take over everything and put everyone under their spell.
(Trigger Warning – The Magicians in this series use blood magic so there are some detailed descriptions of cutting in this series.)

 

 

* Angharad’s Thoughts *

If I could just insert an audio clip of me screaming for my review, then that will probably sum up my experience with this trilogy. Usually with trilogies, the first book is amazing and then the second book is okay and then the third is either a hit or miss but this entire trilogy managed to be A+++ all the way through and nobody could have done it quite like Victoria Schwab. Just a quick summary because if you’re reading this review, then you’ve probably read the previous books. The Shades of Magic trilogy follows Kell who is an Antari, a magician able to travel between worlds, or in this particular case, various Londons.
This series introduced me to one of my all time favourite characters – Delilah Bard. Thief/pickpocket and wannabe pirate, whose goal in life is to just live it. She is gender-fluid, has a disability, carries a load of knives around with her and is confident and sassy without being cocky. She starts off as something of a side character when she teams up with Kell but by the end of the series, she is the shining star. She goes through so much character development in just three books and grows so much as a person. She was a girl used to running, used to having nothing, used to sleeping with her back against the wall but now she is pure magic (literally and figuratively.)
Another character with huge development is Rhy, heir to the Arnesian throne and Kell’s brother (also a queer PoC.) He has no magic and always felt as though he was less because of it but he proves that you don’t need magic in order to be a true and just king. I was so so proud of him after reading this book, he’s just my royal son. His relationship with Alucard progressed more and we hear more about their backstory – they are just the cutest. Speaking of Alucard, he continued to be a badass in this book, whilst also breaking my heart into a thousand pieces and constantly bickering with Kell.
Want to know what broke my heart the most? Other than pretty much everything. The award goes to Holland. We get chapters from his POV as he also tells us about his past, from the beginning. Without excusing some of his actions, he has been through so so much, his life has literally been hell on earth and we hear more about his life and the people who have been in it. Holland, Kell, Lila and Alucard even team up in the second half of the book and I enjoyed every second of these people working together. Teamwork (especially between former enemies) is my soft spot in fiction. Also, without giving away spoilers, Kell and Holland go through quite a bit in this conclusion.
Overall, this book was huge (the paperback being 666 pages, har har, Victoria) but every second was packed with action, emotion and excitement. I read this book in a day and every time I had to put it down, I felt as though I had been pulled from the world. We get POVs from Kell, Lila, Holland – even characters such as Queen Emira & King Maxim which was really interesting. I usually hate secondary characters suddenly having a voice in the final book but this is Victoria Schwab we’re talking about so she nailed it. The beginning, middle and end captured my attention and I’ll miss this world more than you can imagine. It is rich, diverse and just magical and it will forever be a series I recommend.
* Becky’s Thoughts *

It’s been a few days since I finished this book and I still can’t put my feelings into words. The one thing I can confidently say right now, to sum everything up, is this – although I’ve loved this series from the start, it was A Conjuring of Light that truly made it one of my favourite series’s of all time.

We are thrown straight into the action with this book kicking off exactly where A Gathering of Shadows left off, and this fast-pacing carries on throughout, because for Kell, Lila, Alucard, Rhy and Holland, it’s no longer just a magical power play – it’s about saving their world(s). I’m not always a fan of books that are full of action all the way through, but ACOL did this perfectly – yes, the action, tension and plotting never stopped, but it wasn’t all action and nothing else. Each of the characters grow and develop more in this book than in either of the previous books, and we get more of a look into their pasts as well – Holland’s back story, most of all, destroyed me. I’ve always loved him (sorry, I just have a thing for antiheroes/villains) and his story arc in this book couldn’t have been more perfect. Lila was, as always, amazing, and she definitely grew and matured in this book in my opinion.

I feel like there isn’t much that I can say that Angharad hasn’t already said or that wouldn’t absolutely spoil this book for anyone else, so I’ll just say this – go and read it. If you’ve already read the first two books in the series, I don’t think you need me to convince you to pick this up, and if you haven’t started this series yet, take our gushing as encouragement to go and do so. If you want a fantasy series full of complex, well developed and diverse characters, three different worlds with the most perfect atmospheric world building, a fast-paced, emotional plot, and enough twists and cliffhangers to make you dizzy, this is the series for you.

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love,

 

February Fairyloot Unboxing: Emperors and Fugitives

After guessing which book would be included in this month’s Fairyloot, I knew I had to get hold of one, and luckily I managed to grab a box just before they sold out. Here is our full unboxing of the Emperors and Fugitives box – if you are waiting for your box and wanting to avoid spoilers, I’d suggest looking away now!
* Spoilers Below*
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza + signed bookplate and letter from the author

This is a book that’s been on my TBR list for a long time, so I was so excited to receive it (plus a letter from the author and a signed bookplate) in this month’s box! I can’t wait to get stuck into this book; an action packed space opera full of diverse characters!
Manon and Dorian double-sided print by Taratjah 

Who doesn’t love Manon and Dorian? This double-sided print is perfect for any fan of the ship (what would they be called? Manorian?) and I’ve already stuck mine up on my wall (with the Manon side visible, obviously!)

Rebel of the Sands Pouch by Alisse Courter

This is a lovely little pouch that could easily be used as a pencil case, a make up bag, a little purse, and more! It’s hand lettered with a quote from Rebel of the Sands, ‘The world makes things for each place’.

Kalusian Sunset Candle by Happy Piranha

This is a full-size candle with a gorgeous, sweet scent. My favourite thing about it is that the author of this month’s book, Rhoda Belleza, named this candle!

Celestial Gunpowder Bath Bomb by Bathing Beauties

This exclusive bath bomb smells of cupcakes, and I can’t wait to use it! 

Space Girl Bookmark by Till and Dill

Considering that I used to use train tickets to mark my place in a book, I now have quite a collection of bookmarks, and this is a perfect addition to that collection!

Illuminae Coaster by Read At Midnight

I haven’t read Illuminae, but I really have a thing for bookish coasters for some reason, so I was really excited to find this in this month’s box. This coaster reads ‘She is catalyst. She is chaos. I can see why he loves her.’ As with many items that Fairyloot include in their boxes, it’s a really great item despite me not having read the book that the quote is from.

Baby Groot Keychain from Funko

So, I have a confession to make…
*whispers* I don’t like Guardians of the Galaxy…
BUT, my husband soon stole this little Groot keyring off me, and I have to admit it’s dancing is quite cute!
Extras: The One Memory of Flora Banks sampler | MyBookmark Discount Code 
love Becky @


Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones | Blog Tour – ‘My Favourite Literary Villains’

As soon as I came across Wintersong online, I knew I had to get hold of a copy ASAP. Marketed as being a loose retelling of Labyrinth (one of mine and my husband’s favourite films) aimed at a more mature audience, I couldn’t wait to read this, and was thrilled to not only receive an ARC of it but also be able to be a part of the blog tour! Wintersong was released yesterday and I would highly encourage you all to go and pick up a copy.

Today, I’ll be sharing with you a little insight into the mind of S. Jae-Jones (aka. JJ), author of Wintersong, on a topic close to my heart – favourite literary villains.

{PS. Don’t forget to take a look at the first two posts of the Wintersong blog tour: Day One & Day Two can be found here. If you’d like to follow along, all blogs included in this tour are to the left!}

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I love a good villain; so much so that I love reading books or watching movies told from the villain’s point of view, like The Mists of Avalon or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. For me, a good literary villain is complex, with motivations that are understandable or even sympathetic enough to be chilling. The following are a few of my favorites:
Melisande Shahrizai from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series
Melisande is one of my favorite characters full stop. What I love most about her is that she isn’t driven by evil or megalomania; she’s a villain because she likes to play games. The prize she’s set for herself is the throne of Terre d’Ange. Matching wits with Melisande is like playing against a chessmaster; she’s always several moves ahead. Yet despite her cool, calculating mind, she’s rather a good sport, acknowledging when she’s been beaten at her own game. There’s no active malice in Melisande, but she is completely terrifying nonetheless, and I love that about her.
The Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha books
The Darkling could have easily been the tortured romantic hero in a different series. He’s brooding, he’s tortured, he’s vulnerable, and he’s so, so broken. Yet despite all this, he’s still a selfish, horrible person, and I love that Bardugo resists softening the Darkling’s edges to make him a palatable potential love interest for Alina. I love the Darkling because he’s all wrong, and I love that I love he’s all wrong.

Mrs. Coulter from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials
There is a common thread through nearly all my favorite female villains: they are evil in their subtlety and complexity. Mrs. Coulter fascinates me because she’s amoral and completely selfish, yet also charming and charismatic. Even her love for her daughter seems to be an extension of her selfishness. Despite this, despite an entire life lived for power, she commits an act of ultimate selflessness, and this dissonance is what makes Marisa Coulter an amazing villain.
Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter

I will admit that some of my visceral reaction to Dolores Umbridge is personal. I was educated at an all-girls’ school, and for my first three years, I had a very McGonagall-like headmistress (down to the tartan print!). But in my final year, we had a new headmistress when the previous one retired, and this new one was Umbridge-like in every possible way: a toad-like face, affected girlish voice, and a saccharine manner disguising a terrifying authoritarian philosophy. I think we all know an Umbridge, and the fact that she actually exists in the real world in some form or another is the most terrifying thing of all.

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All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen, Liesl feels that her childhood dreams are slipping away. And when her sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. But with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Published 7th February 2017 from Titan Books


Read my full review of Wintersong here!



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S. Jae-Jones (called JJ) is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and erstwhile editrix. When not obsessing over books, she can be found jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, co-hosting the pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, or playing dress-up.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in North Carolina, as well as many other places on the internet, including TwitterTumblrFacebookInstagram and her blog. Wintersong is her debut novel.



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love Becky @


Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince’s message has spread across the desert – and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruelest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl’s instinct for survival. For the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper’s nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive… But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani’s past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.


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Thank you to NetGalley for sending me an eArc of this book.

This is a spoiler-free review of Traitor to the Throne, however, it does include spoilers for Rebel of the Sands! 


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Traitor to the Throne is the highly anticipated sequel to Rebel of the Sands. Having loved the first book in this series when I first read it, I was quite excited for the release of the second book in this trilogy. However, I have to admit that I feel slightly let down by Traitor. 

I feel as though, in my opinion, the biggest let down in this book (compared to Rebel) was Amani’s drastic character change. I’m all for character growth and development, but that wasn’t what this was. After discovering her Demdji heritage in Rebel, Amani seems to now be completely reliant on her magic and brings it into absolutely everything in this book. I much preferred the gunslinging sharpshooter version of Amani from the first book. Traitor also seemed to bring a few plot holes to light – for example, at one point, Amani comments that she is unable to make a sarcastic comment (as, being a Demdji, she physically can’t lie) and “her tongue can’t tell the difference between sarcasm and lying”. However, Amani’s entire personality in Rebel was based around her sassiness and sarcasm? I don’t want to sound too picky so I won’t go into detail, but I noticed a few little things like this that just didn’t quite make sense to me when you take the first book into consideration. 

Now, I’ll stop slating Amani and move onto a big issue I had with the plot. Skip this section if you want to avoid very mild spoilers!
So basically, Amani spends the majority of this book inside the Sultan’s harem after being kidnapped and sold to him, as he is looking for a Demdji. She slowly manages to gain more of his trust, and there is a point where she starts to have clear doubts about Ahmed’s ability to rule and about the rebellion in general. However, these doubts are voiced by her and then just never dealt with again? Fair enough if it was just a moment of doubt and she didn’t take it too seriously, but I would have liked to have read how she worked through that. Plus, anyone who knows me knows that I am in no way going to support a tyrannical character, but apart from a few things, the Sultan didn’t seem too awful. Like, I’ve seen fictional dictators who are far more evil. Ahmed is barely in this book, but he’s pretty insufferable in the scenes he is in, and to be honest, he just isn’t that good a good leader. Why is Shazad not leading this rebellion? Yes, she’s not royalty, but surely rebellion is just slightly about overthrowing imperialism. Shazad would be a far better ruler than any of the men in this book. I’m rooting for #ShazadforSultan2018. Anyway.

I feel as though I’ve complained way too much in this review (I’m sorry) so here’s a few things that I did like:

  • The political intrigue – of course I like action, but a bit of intrigue is never a bad thing in my opinion!

  • Some of the new/reintroduced characters – I won’t say much as I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s a wonderful example of a strong female character reintroduced in this book, and I would’ve loved for her to have been a bigger part of the plot

  • The little myths and legends inserted between chapters every now and then! Not only were they intriguing, but they were beautifully written and really helped to build the story. I think more of these in book three would go far. 

  • There’s very little romance – the plot is almost entirely focused on the plot, and therefore on the rebellion and politics. Although I don’t dislike Jin and Amani as a couple, and I didn’t really see the point in her basically being mad at him for almost this entire book, I was glad that the romance was put to one side for a while.

  • Shazad, Rahim and Sam. Three characters I really liked in this book and really hope will be around more in book three. 

  • The Sultan. I love a good grey-area villain; this guy is clearly in the wrong in some aspects, but you can’t fully disagree with his ideas, and he clearly has an interesting back story. 
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Traitor to the Throne is published on the 2nd February in the UK / 7th March in the US.

love Becky @



Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Thank you to Titan Books for sending us early copies of Wintersong to review! 
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In the deep woods of Bavaria, Liesl has grown up with stories of the Goblin King and his underground realm. Intertwined with her life, the stories have inspired her musical compositions and been at the head of her Grandmother’s superstitions. As Liesl grows older and begins to help run her family’s inn, as well as looking after her younger siblings, her dreams of music and the Goblin King begin to slip away. However, when Liesl’s younger sister Kathë is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl realises that her childhood fantasies are a reality, and has to journey to the goblin’s underground realm to save her sister. A story of sacrifice, family and mythology, inspired by Jim Henson’s ‘Labyrinth’, Wintersong is a magical, dark fantasy debut from author S. Jae-Jones. 

Wintersong has been on my to-read list ever since I came across it on Goodreads – Labyrinth has always been a favourite film in our house, so when I heard that this was a more adult loose retelling of Labyrinth, I was all for it! 
Wintersong follows Liesl – the eldest of three siblings who has long given up on her dreams of writing and creating music. Cast aside as the ‘ugly, talentless sister’ next to her beautiful sister Kathë, and her brother Josef who has a great talent for playing the violin, Liesl has made do helping her parents run their inn and secretly writing pieces of music for Josef to perform. With a once musically talented and now alcoholic Father, and a Mother who was the beauty of Salzburg until the family had to move to the backwoods of Bavaria, Liesl has become the one to hold her family together. I found Liesl to be a really interesting character and so easy to connect to – usually with this sort of book, you’d find a character with her struggles to be quite whiney, but Liesl carries her burdens willingly and will always be ready to sacrifice herself for the sake of her family. 

“There is music in your soul. A wild and untamed sort
of music that speaks to me. It defies all the rules and laws you humans set upon it. It grows from inside you, and I have a wish to set that music free.” 
Liesl’s relationship with her sister Kathë was far from perfect – Kathë was jealous of Liesl as she was the only member of the family who wasn’t musically inclined, and Liesl jealous of Kathë for being more beautiful than her – but the pair’s devotion to each other really made the character development in this book for me. I would have loved to have seen more of Josef, as I really loved the parts that he was in, and the way that he continually encouraged Liesl to follow her dreams even whilst she was dedicated to helping him start out his musical career in the best way possible. Family was such a key element to this story, and in my opinion this aspect of it was executed so well.
The Goblin King, I absolutely adored. S. Jae-Jones got him spot on – his voice, his internal conflicts, and can we just talk about how perfect his appearance was? I knew that, however he was described, I’d picture him as David Bowie, but he was most definitely based off Bowie’s appearance in Labyrinth – the long, pale limbs, the light fluffy hair, the pointed features – and to be honest, when his ‘mismatched eyes’ were mentioned, I teared up just a little bit – it was such a perfect hidden tribute to Bowie. I was also so thankful that he wasn’t just a typical anti-hero (although, I do love anti-heroes); he has a past and he has character development, and despite his elusiveness towards Liesl for a large part of the book, you do get to understand him more as the story progresses.
“Now the days of winter begin, and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride.”
Plot wise, Wintersong was very much split into two halves – the first, in which Liesl attempts to save her sister from the Goblin King, and the second, where Liesl is staying in the Goblin King’s Underground Realm. Both halves were very different (the first was far more of a journey/adventure style story, and the second followed more of a character growth plotline) but I loved both halves (if anything I think I preferred the second half), and despite their differences, I thought that they fit together so well. Liesl’s voice, attitude and entire character changes from one half to the next; to begin with, she’s still very much submissive to her family’s needs, but after offering to take her sister’s place in the Underground, she decides that it’s time to live as she wants now that she isn’t responsible for her family. She grows more daring with the Goblin King and begins to compare the child she was in the world above to the brave woman that she has become. I couldn’t help but compare Liesl and the Goblin King’s relationship to that of Marya and Koschei in Catherynne Valente’s Deathless: it was an intense romance with both parties battling for their own will before reconciling to the middle ground.
“I surveyed my kingdom. Chaos. Cruelty. Abandon. I had always been holding back. Always been restrained. I wanted to be bigger, brighter, better; I wanted to be capricious, malicious, sly. Until now, I had not known the intoxicating sweetness of attention. In the world above, it had always been Käthe or Josef who captivated people’s eyes and hearts – Käthe with her beauty, Josef with his talent. I was forgotten, overlooked, ignored – the plain, drab, practical, talentless sister. But here in the Underground, I was the sun around which their world spun, the axis around which their maelstrom twirled. Liesl the girl had been dull, drab, and obedient; Elisabeth the woman was a queen.” 

It is quite a long book – 500+ pages – but I found it to be a fairly quick read as both the writing style and the world were just so immersive. In fact, I could have happily read another hundred pages or so of the story – anything to mean that that ending wasn’t so excruciatingly heartbreaking. The companion novel to Wintersong is currently due to be published next year, and even though Wintersong itself hasn’t even been published yet, I already need that next novel…
Wintersong is published in the UK and US on the 7th February 2017. 
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon UK
Are you planning on reading Wintersong? What other 2017 releases are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!

Love Becky @

Kingdom of Sleep by E.K. Johnston

I don’t think I quite enjoyed this book as much as its prequel, A Thousand Nights, but it was still an intriguing, beautiful story!

Kingdom of Sleep, or Spindle, depending on where you live, follows Yashaa, Arwa, Tariq and Saoud, on a quest to return to their crumbling home of Karuf and save the Princess, Zahrah. At her fifth birthday party, she was cursed by a demon who intended to possess her once she had learned everything she needed to be a ruler, forcing her kingdom into ruin and resulting in the banning of spindles (this is where the Sleeping Beauty references come in), as the demon pronounced that once Zahrah learned to spin, she would be ready for inhabitation. Yashaa, Arwa and Tariq’s families, who were spinners, were forced to leave their home at this point, but now the three of them along with Saoud are determined to break Zahrah’s curse. 



A Thousand Nights was very much a slow building story, and whereas Kingdom of Sleep was also slow, there was still a lot more action in it. It was definitely more of a “journey story”, focusing on the development of the characters and their relationships with each other rather than on the plot. I did struggle to get into this book at first, mostly because I wasn’t expecting some of the differences between it and A Thousand Nights (for example, I assumed that the characters would all remain unnamed as they did in the previous book) but once I got into the book I really enjoyed it and began to connect with the characters a lot more. 

Although I thought the ending was a bit too rushed, the very last chapter really made the book for me. With A Thousand Nights, the thing that really stuck with me was how beautiful and poetic the writing was, and I’m so glad that Kingdom of Sleep still had such beautiful writing, even though it was written in quite a different style and voice. 


This definitely isn’t a sequel to A Thousand Nights, but a companion novel – it’s set in the same land, but quite a long time afterwards (hundreds of years, as far as I’m aware) and although key events are mentioned from the previous book, you could definitely read this as a standalone and have no trouble at all understanding what’s happening. I’d also just like to mention something about the Sleeping Beauty comparisons – Kingdom of Sleep is marketed as being inspired by/a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, and I think this may have put some people off, but in my opinion, the two stories couldn’t be more different – literally the main similarity is that in both stories, spindles are the triggers in the Princesses curses. Because of this, I would definitely not let the Sleeping Beauty inspirations embedded in this book put you off reading it, as like I say, they’re barely there! 



Have you read A Thousand Nights or Kingdom of Sleep/Spindle? What did you think?

love Becky @