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The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

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“Bad fates do not always follow those who deserve them.”

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Angharad’s Thoughts
I have never been one for fairytale stories. I spent my childhood years reading both the Goosebumps series (seriously what happened to those books??) and any crime thriller that my mother brought home from the library and because of this, my knowledge of them is shaky. I just know majority of them take place in the woods. However, when I found out that my favourite author was writing a collection of fairytales with the ‘dark’ edge only Leigh Bardugo can create and they take place in the Grishaverse, I preordered the hell out of it. I was not disappointed.

The collection is split into six tales and each is paired with its own beautiful, amazing illustrations – both as page decorations and a final art spread at the end of each story. Despite loving them all, my favourite would have to be a tie between Ayama and the Thorn WoodWhen Water Sang Fire and my least favourite was Little Knife. Like Leigh states in her author’s note, these stories are loosely based on the fairytales that we all know but despite their dark tones, they are more realistic – the idea that the prince isn’t always the good guy and what makes a monster a monster? Another theme that I found to be very strong throughout these tales was Leigh’s feminist beliefs. This book was full of so many diverse and complex female characters and female friendships. Classic tales such as The Little Mermaid and The Nutcracker are turned on their heads and reimagined in new and spectacular ways and despite being short stories, they were still full of twists and turns and you never knew who was going to be the hero or villain of the story. What was constant, however, was the message that each story contained. You can just imagine our beloved Grisha characters reading these stories as children and growing up with their messages instilled.

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Overall, I think I never fell in love with fairytales because they never seemed real enough – even to my young mind. As we all unfortunately learn, life isn’t a fairytale, the bad guy isn’t always the bad guy and the hero isn’t always what they seem and this little collection that I will cherish for years to come just shows that. These stories cater to the people who look just that bit deeper into these stories and see the darkness that peeks from within. What if the children didn’t wander from the path and find danger but actually find solace? What if the monster was actually the victim and the prince only thought of his greed? What happened to the girls who chose their own destiny over those that were decided for them? All of these questions are answered within the pages of The Language of Thorns and they are all brought to life by Sara Kipin’s illustrations. Truly a full five stars from me.

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Becky’s Thoughts
Unlike Angharad, I have always absolutely adored fairytales (although, especially these days, I do tend to root for the villain – even when I know what’s going to happen to them). Leigh states in her author’s note that the six stories in The Language of Thorns are inspired by fairytales that are known around the world, but turned on their heads – and I have to say, I was way more invested in Leigh’s versions of these classic tales.
My favourites were also Amaya and the Thorn Wood – a story which took inspiration from Beauty and the Beast and to an extent, A Thousand and One Nights, it focused on the ideas behind what makes someone a monster; and When Water Sang Fire, an absolutely enchanting story inspired by The Little Mermaid (and also a sort of origin story for one of my favourite villains – and featuring another of my favourite villains, but I won’t say any more on that). I also really liked The Too Clever Fox and The Witch of Duva (a retelling of Hansel and Gretel) which both included clever twists that I definitely didn’t anticipate.

I would say that the underlying theme throughout all six stories is definitely the idea of what makes a villain evil, what makes them monstrous, and it was definitely all about looking beyond outward appearances to the monster hidden beneath the princely face or the seemingly caring father figure. The stories in The Language of Thorns are how fairytales should be written in a feminist world that understands that happy endings aren’t all that they seem, that the hero of the story isn’t always beautiful, and that those who are called monstrous are often not the ones you need to fear. I absolutely adored this anthology of fairytales set in one of my favourite fictional worlds, and honestly would opt to read these to my future children over the classics that they’re based around.

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What did you think of this collection?
Let us know in the comments!
Love,
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WWW Wednesday // October 11th

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WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme that was previously hosted by Should Be Reading and is now hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

To play along you just had to answer the following three questions:

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I was kindly sent I Danced With Sorrow through email but its very talented author, Alicia Wright. It is a collection of short-verse poetry split into five sections that explore heartbreak, abuse and finally, liberation and is very reminiscent of Milk and Honey and Salt. Some were short and to the point and raw and others flowed lyrically and they all came together, almost like a tale. I’d definitely recommend this collection of poetry either if you are new to the genre or a frequent reader of it. It is clear that Alicia put her heart and soul into this book and I’m honoured to have been given the chance to read it.

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212652304.jpgI must admit that Sleeping Beauties was both a cover-buy (I got the exclusive edition from Tescos that also has an engraved front cover) and the fact that it was written by Stephen King. Despite not having a read a lot of his books, there’s a reason everybody knows his name and this time he is joined by his son. This is a very loose retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale – in this world, an epidemic is causing women to fall asleep and enter cocoon-like states. This book is filled with characters and luckily, isn’t just about men running about being men but also about all these different types of women – criminals, mothers, police officers. I’m about half way through so far and despite it being a huge block of a book (700+ pages,) it is incredibly enthralling.

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212652304.jpgYes, you may be wondering what decade I’m in to have Fahrenheit 451 as my next read and where have I been for the past few years but I just haven’t got around to it. However, lately my local Waterstones has had a display dedicated to this book so I just went for it. I probably don’t have to tell you guys the synopsis of this classic but it just tells the story of a fireman whose job it is to burn books as they are forbidden in this world. My idea of hell, thank you very much. I’m sure I’ll love it as much as everybody else does so I’m super excited to get into it.


What are you guys currently reading? Let me know in the comments.
Lots of love,
Angharad @
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October Recommendations

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So I have been trying to think of a blog post to welcome in the month of October that wasn’t just the same as our one last year – our recommended spooky reads. I was hit with inspiration when I came across a new podcast that fits the whole horror, October vibe and then decided to pair it with book, movie and song recommendations for you, guys. So of course these cover the whole month of October, not just Halloween specifically so I hope you see something you like!

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Autumn leaves under frozen souls,
Hungry hands turning soft and old.
My hero cried as we stood out there in the cold,
Like these autumn leaves I don’t have nothing to hold (x)
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But if I know you, I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once
The way you did once upon a dream (x)

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So we have chosen two new releases and one quite old release. However, these books all have an equal amount of witchiness, magic and creepiness. Language of Thorns has added atmospheric illustrations to pair up with their short stories. Frankenstein is a classic for a reason – despite primarily being the birth of the sci-fi genre, it also explores the world of horror and human nature. Wicked Like A Wildfire just screams Autumn with its beautiful, colourful cover and the story is equally as atmospheric and magical.

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As soon as I asked Becky to recommend an Autumnal/Halloween esque film, she basically bit my head off with her answer which was Beetlejuice. She told me to say that Winona Ryder is in it, need she say more? I chose Fantastic Mr. Fox because despite seeing this movie years ago, I still love it to this day and I distinctly remember the autumnal scenes throughout the movie. One of these movies is very cute and the other is a bit more creepy so I like to think we chose both something from both sides of the October period.

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So, you may recognise one of these Podcasts, and the other not so much. Trace is a fairly new podcast which I’d definitely recommend if you’re a fan of true crime and Buzzfeed Unsolved. It follows the case of Maria James who was stabbed to death in 1980 and to this day her killer has never been found. Welcome to Night Vale is definitely a much-loved podcast that is quite frankly bizarre, crazy and amazing. It follows Cecil, a radio broadcaster who tells us the strange events that happen in his small, fictional town of Night Vale. There’s a lot of episodes already out in the world so get started!


 

So that’s it! I hope you find something new for October and even if you don’t, have a Happy Halloween and a lovely, cosy month!
Love Angharad & Becky @
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The Red Thread by Dawn Farnham

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I was kindly sent The Red Thread in exchange for an honest review in the blog tour hosted by Monsoon. What drew me to this book was not only it being historical fiction which is a genre that I love, but the fact that it takes place in 1830’s Singapore, an era I have never read about and quite frankly, don’t have any knowledge of. However, after finishing this book, I feel as though I lived in that world, saw its people and smelled the air and visited the places. It is clear that Dawn Furnham researched this book meticulously and although sometimes I felt as though there was too much description, you can’t deny that the world just leapt from the page.
The story follows the interracial relationship between Charlotte, the brother of the head of police and Zhen, a triad member after they meet at sea. The two don’t come together until way over page 100 so this is definitely a slow-burning romance. However, when they finally do, their love, despite all its boundaries, is very clear. The book also features Farnham’s take on real life figures such as Irish architect, George Coleman who is responsible for most of Singapore’s famous structures.

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To summarise, this book isn’t just a love story, it delves into the history of Singapore and its people. Everything is detailed – the clothes they wore, the food they ate. Its beautiful prose is definitely what sets it apart and it is all brought together by the lovely but ultimately tragic love between Charlotte and Zhen. Zhen’s closest friend, Qian is also a wonderful character and his own thoughts are documented on page too. The entire book is filled with interesting and unique characters and the occasional tiger attack. I’d definitely recommend picking up this book that is the first volume in a series if you are interested in this era as you will finish with a whole lot of knowledge you didn’t have before.

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| Goodreads
Thank you kindly to Monsoon Books for allowing me to take part in their blog tour and make sure you check out the people listed above to see what they have contributed.

Lots of Love,
Angharad @
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dawnfarnhamAuthor Information 
Dawn Farnham is the author of The Straits Quartet (The Red Thread, The Shallow Seas, The Hills of Singapore and The English Concubine), as well as numerous short stories, plays and children’s books. A former long-term resident of Singapore, Dawn now calls Perth, Australia, home. Her new book, Finding Maria is published in October 2017.
Website: www.dawnfarnham.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/farnhamauthor

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WWW Wednesday // September 20th

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WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme that was previously hosted by Should Be Reading and is now hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

To play along you just had to answer the following three questions:

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

a-book-i-have-read212652304.jpgI read Good Me, Bad Me in one sitting whilst on a train journey, I wasn’t going to put it down for anybody. It hooked me from the very beginning, the very end line of the prologue gave me chills and I knew I was going to love it. The story follows Milly, previously known as Annie but then was when she was the daughter of her serial killing mother. This book delves into nature vs nurture and if blood really is thicker than water. It doesn’t have a main plot but exploring the mind of Milly who had an horrific childhood and has survived abuse whilst struggling with still being somewhat loyal to her mother is so interesting. It’s definitely a chilling thriller and I’d recommend it 100%.

a-book-i-have-read3.jpgI was kindly sent The Red Thread in exchange for an honest review during a blog tour (my review will be up on Friday!) Despite just hitting the 100 page mark, I’m unfortunately not enjoying it. Although the descriptions are so unique and atmospheric, the entire book is dedicated to them. However, I will say that delving into the world of 1830s Singapore is very interesting as it’s an era I’ve never read about either in fiction or otherwise. More in-depth thoughts will be in my main review!

a-book-i-have-read2.jpgDespite having so many good books in my current TBR, I’m most excited for The Girl with the Red Balloon and have been since it was announced. It just sounds perfect for me, historical fiction mixed with fantasy and magic elements. It sounds both heartbreaking and beautiful and I’m so excited to get into it. I also believe it features both a Romani character and a Jewish-American character so it gets extra points for being diverse. Despite not reading it yet, I’ve heard raving reviews from bloggers I trust so definitely go and check it out if you haven’t already!


 

What are you guys currently reading? Let me know in the comments.
Lots of love,
Angharad @
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The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

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Thank you to Netgalley and Delacorte Press for sending me an early copy

Five boys attacked her.
Now they must repay her with their blood and flesh.
Bethan is the apprentice to a green healer named Drina in a clan of Welsh Romanies. Her life is happy and ordered and modest, as required by Roma custom, except for one thing: Silas, the son of the chieftain, has been secretly harassing her.
One night, Silas and his friends brutally assault Bethan and a half-Roma friend, Martyn. As empty and hopeless as she feels from the attack, she asks Drina to bring Martyn back from death’s door. “There is always a price for this kind of magic,” Drina warns. The way to save him is gruesome. Bethan must collect grisly pieces to fuel the spell: an ear, some hair, an eye, a nose, and fingers.
She gives the boys who assaulted her a chance to come forward and apologize. And when they don’t, she knows exactly where to collect her ingredients to save Martyn.


So this book means a lot to me. I admit that I requested it without knowing much about it, I don’t think I even read the proper synopsis. I was approved, I started reading and just by reading the author’s note at the beginning, I knew I was in love. Then, the best thing happened. I found out that the book was set in Wales. An actual fictional book set in my country featuring the name of my city (in Welsh!) I could have cried. This is something I haven’t seen before and I immediately took to Twitter to thank the author. Another aspect that made this book super important to me was the fact that both the author and the main character, Bethan (Welsh name!!) have a very close relationship with their grandmother. My nanna is sadly no longer with us but she was my best friend and my mentor, not in witchcraft, but in life. Regardless of whatever happened in this book, I knew that it would always have a special place in my heart.

As the synopsis suggests, we follow the story of Bethan, a Romani who lives with her grandmother, Drina and is training to be her ward. Alarm bells probably started ringing when you saw that this book was based on the Roma, but it is done very respectfully (and the author speaks about this at the start) and the word ‘g*psy’ is challenged in text as being a slur and is only acceptable amongst Romani people. Whilst selling her grandmother’s herbs and spells in the nearby market, Bethan meets Martyn, a half-Roma guy who immediately makes her feel something she hasn’t felt before. However, one night, Bethan is raped by fellow Romani, Silas and his sidekicks. The rape happens ‘off-screen’ so it isn’t in detail. The author also mentions this at the beginning so you aren’t surprised and triggered by this. During this event, Martyn is also beat to death by the boys and Bethan decides to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and delve into a world of dark magic to bring him back whilst wrecking revenge on the boys.

Bethan was everything to me. She was strong, she had strong morals (especially to her people) and she’s just desperately human. Seeing her character develop from start to finish was amazing. Her assault changes her massively. Not only because sexual assault would obviously affect you but amongst her people, she is worried she will be seen as impure. Bethan also has a birth mark covering half of her entire body and is encouraged to hide it so outsiders won’t curse her. What meant the most to me, as I’ve mentioned, is her relationship with her gran. It reminded me a lot of the relationship I had with my nanna (although my nanna wasn’t as scary as Drina.) They support each other throughout the book. This isn’t a novel where our protagonist kind of decides she doesn’t need a parental figure and does her own thing. There’s a huge amount of respect in their relationship and it’s clear that despite Drina’s hard exterior, she loves Bethan unconditionally.

The story itself is marketed as a horror/paranormal and yes, this book was super creepy. There’s a scene that really gave me goosebumps (warning if you’re creeped out by scarecrows) but it is so well-written and visceral. I’ve read quite a few books about witchcraft so I’m not going to say this is anything original but I was still super invested and seeing what Bethan and Drina were capable of was really amazing. All of the people respect and fear Drina, even the Chieftan but he’s a different bloody story. I loved the domestic moments between Bethan and her grandmother and their little funny moments, especially when Bethan is eavesdropping and Drina finds out and pours water through the window and onto Bethan’s head.

I’m going to bring this review to an end because I know I’m rambling. Finding a book set in your country is always a nice feeling and I’ve finally experienced it and I freaked out (as my Twitter and Instagram followers know) but even taking away that aspect, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story and read it in one sitting. I messaged the author asking if it’s a standalone and she said yes. I’m sad because I loved this book so much but satisfied because everything ended the way I thought it should have. Overall, I’d recommend this book if you like horror/paranormal, lovely familial relationships, revenge best served cold and a look into the Welsh Romani culture.

*This book will be released on October 10th, 2017*
Goodreads|Amazon

 

Love Angharad @
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Mini Reviews – Thriller Edition

new blog title.jpgI’ve made it no secret that one of my most loved genres has always been crime thrillers and psychological thrillers tied up with a little bit of mystery. These are the types of books I grew up with (my mother even read The Silence of the Lambs whilst in labour with me!) Recently I’ve read quite a few books in this genre so I thought I’d post a mini review for each of them and hopefully you will see something you like. In this genre, you are going to come across a lot of dark stuff so I will try my hardest to mention any trigger warnings for each book but I do insist that you thoroughly research a thriller before reading in case it features aspects you’re not comfortable with.

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And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie
Goodreads | Amazon

Despite banging on about my love for crime and mystery, this was my first ever Agatha Christie book who we all know, is the Queen of Mystery. I saw the lovely Cece recommend this book over on her Booktube channel and I just knew it was something I would enjoy and I was right! This book just proves that sometimes you need to go back to basic when it comes to mystery thrillers. It consists of ten characters, in a house, on an island. They start dying one by one and they come to the conclusion that one of them must be the murderer. It is a simple premise but man, is it done well. It’s mysterious and creepy as the characters die in relation to an old nursery rhyme. As readers, we are kept guessing until the very end and it will shock you. I just loved it and I’ve been on the look out for more of her books ever since!

 

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Copycat
by Alex Lake
Goodreads | Amazon

I was automatically approved for this book on Netgalley and despite never hearing of it or its author, the synopsis was enough to get me interested. It follows the story of Sarah Havenant who one day stumbles upon a Facebook profile with her name, her details, photos of her family and recent updates. The only problem? It’s not her profile. What follows is twists and turns as the stalker gets closer and closer to Sarah and her family. As much as I was sucked into this book, I gave it a three star rating purely because of its pacing and the chapters that took place through the eyes of the stalker. It made me picture them on a swivel chair, stroking a white cat and doing the MWAH HAHA laugh. Despite that, this book was tense and you are kept guessing until the very end (except me as I guessed the stalker pretty early on.) I would still recommend it but TW suicide ideation and mentions of child abuse towards the end of the book. This book will be released on September 5th.

 


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Emma in the Night
by Wendy Walker
Goodreads | Amazon

This was exciting and different and has left me with a love for its main character, Cassie. I would definitely say this could fall into the psychological thriller category. The twist/Big Reveal just blew my mind and made me feel like I needed to immediately reread the book to see what I missed. Having a psychologist ‘solve’ the mystery rather than a detective was a really cool twist as it did allow us to understand what went on in our character’s minds. The twists and turns within the Tanner family make these people one of the most dysfunctional family I’ve read about in a long time. If you have read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, this book reminded me a lot of it in terms of family dynamics. The format of this book, considering it is a mystery thriller, is quite unlike any I’ve read for a while. Usually, we have the entire book building up to the end when the Big Reveal happens and until then, we are as clueless as the characters. However, Cassie returns home at the start of the novel and immediately tells her story. 100% recommend!

 

 

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The Fourth Monkey 
by J.D. Barker
Goodreads | Amazon

If you look up at the top right hand corner of the cover, you’ll see that this book is marketed as being like Se7en (one of my favourite movies) and The Silence of the Lambs (see the start of this post) so I almost broke my finger rushing to Amazon and purchasing this as quickly as possible. This book is very gory – there’s body parts being sent about in little boxes, graphic scenes of torture and some explicit sexual scenes. The author did not hold back in this book. Despite it being a crime thriller as in we have a detective trying to solve the murders, the format also switches to the killer’s diary explaining how he came to be the person he is today. I enjoyed reading the diary entries more than the present day sometimes and the main detective didn’t really have a strong voice in my opinion. However, if gore and thrillers is your thing, mixed with a dark backstory, then this is definitely the book for you.

 

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The Good Daughter
by Karin Slaughter
Goodreads | Amazon

This author is one of my mother’s favourites so when I was scrolling through Netgalley and saw it, I had to request it. The book follows the story of sisters, Samantha and Charlie Quinn. The book switches between present day and 28 years previous when the two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint after watching their mother murdered in front of them. Charlie runs for her life but Samantha is left behind and through the chapters of this story, we find out what happened to the sisters after the events. Now estranged, the two girls are brought back together after a school shooting rocks their community. Both lawyers, along with their eccentric father, they team up to represent the young teenage killer when they think there’s more to her than meets the eye. Trigger warning for gun violence and very graphic rape. 


 

I hope I’ve given you some helpful recs!
Lots of Love,
Angharad @
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