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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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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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September Releases // 2017 Edition

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So can you guys believe that we have arrived at the month of September? Ok, so September isn’t the most eventful month (unless it is your birthday then Happy Birthday!) but that means October is next (Halloween), then November (my birthday!) and then CHRISTMAS! Let’s focus on September first though and it is guaranteed to go quickly with all of the upcoming releases. Here are a few that we’ve found and are looking forward to! If the book is diverse then I have added the information but if some of it is incorrect or missing, then let us know in the comments!

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The Girl with the Red Balloon 
by Katherine Locke
– Releases September 1st –

Plot: Centres around time travel during the war. Our main character enters 1988 Berlin where she meets an underground guild who use balloons to help people escape over the wall.
Diverse Aspects: Jewish-American MC, Romani MC and a lesbian side character

 

 

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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Releases September 5th –

Plot: Two strangers, Mateo and Rufus, come together through an App hoping to make a friend on their last day on Earth.
Diverse Aspects: Gay MC and bisexual MC

 

 

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
– Releases September 5th –

Plot: A feminist Snow White retelling featuring a F/F relationship.
Diverse Aspects: Gay MCs

 

 

 

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I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn
– Releases September 5th –

Plot: An epistolary novel detailing the experiences of two best friends as they head off to colleges on different sides of the country.
Diverse Aspects: Mental Illness Rep (OCD, depression and anxiety) and a bisexual MC

 

 

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The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle
– Releases September 5th –

Plot: From playing it safe and being homeschooled, Emilie is suddenly thrust into the world of public schooling and to make matters worse, she hasn’t told anybody about her epilepsy.
Diverse Aspects: MC with epilepsy

 

 

 

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
– Releases September 12th –

Plot: A coming-of-age story about two boys who fall in love whilst attending a writing class despite being from very different backgrounds.
Diverse Aspects: Bisexual MC, Mormon MC

 

 

 

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Warcross by Marie Lu
– Releases September 12th –

Plot: Teenage hacker, Emika lives in a world of virtual reality and when she accidentally enters herself into the Warcross Championships, she becomes an overnight sensation.
Diverse Aspects: Asian MC

 

 

 

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Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
– Releases September 19th –

Plot: A teenage student starts a feminist revolution in her high school after distributing anonymous Zines.
Diverse Aspects: Intersectional feminism rep, LGBTQIA rep

 

 

 

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Release
 
by Patrick Ness
– Releases September 19th –

Plot: Torn between his religious family, his demanding boss and an unrequited love for his ex, Adam’s life is going to change. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Diverse Aspects: Gay MC

 

 

 

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Starfish
 
by Akemi Dawn Bowman
– Releases September 26th –

Plot: Aiming to keep her head down and get accepted into her dream art school, Kiko’s life changes for the worst when her dream doesn’t come true and her abusive uncle returns.
Diverse Aspects: Japanese-American MC, anxiety rep

 

 

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Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
– Releases September 26th –

Plot: An atmospheric collection of short stories and takes on fairytales filled with revenge, betrayal and love. All set in the Grishaverse.
Diverse Aspects: Characters of multiple ethnicities

 

 


So those are the releases we are most looking forward to this month!
What is your most anticipated read?
Lots of Love,
Angharad @
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WWW Wednesday // August 30th

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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-read21265230.jpgI finished A Shiver of Snow and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke this morning. I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this beautiful, unique debut at YALC from Scholastic. It was an enjoyable book based around Ósa, the main character’s, journey to save her people after disaster strikes. I don’t usually like journey based books, but I loved Ósa’s determination and loyalty, and how her strength was portrayed through this rather than through skill or physical strength as it is in many YA books. ASOSAS is out in October!

a-book-i-have-read1.jpgI’m just about to start reading Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody. I received this in the July Fairyloot box and, as it’s been on my tbr for a bit, I’m really excited to get stuck in to it! I think there’s been a lot of circus/festival based YA books released recently so I’m looking forward to seeing what DOTBC does differently to these.

a-book-i-have-read21265230.jpgNext, I’m planning to start on Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović. I’ve been looking forward to reading this for ages – filled with Magic and the bonds of sisterhood, what’s not to love? I was sent this book by Harper360, so huge thanks go to them!


Let me know what you’re currently reading in the comments!
Lots of love,
Becky @
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Diversity Spotlight Thursday #4

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Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly post hosted by Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Each week, you feature a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR and a diverse book that has not yet been released.
Because ‘diverse’ covers many different topics, we’ve decided to focus on one aspect each week and this week we are featuring books with a lesbian main character.

a-book-i-have-readFar From You by Tess Sharpe
Goodreads | Amazon

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Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.
Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?


I am slightly cheating with this one as our main character, Sophie is actually bisexual. However, the love interest, Mina, is a confirmed lesbian. I checked with the author but we’re not sure if it’s stated in text. This is the only book I could include that I’ve read with a lesbian character that I have enjoyed and would 100% recommend. Not only does this book have excellent LGBTQIA rep but it also has disability and drug addiction rep which is very rare in YA novels.

a-book-i-have-readOf Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Goodreads | Amazon

25164304Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.
Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


The story about the princess getting the princess in a lesbian love story. Despite having mixed reviews, I’m still excited to read this take on a fairytale. After doing a bit of research, I’ve discovered that this also has the hate-to-love trope(!) and is #ownvoices. I also think the fantasy world within the book isn’t heteronormative, there are several cases of same sex relationships being mentioned and nobody bats an eyelid. I’m not sure if this is true but if it is, that’s amazing!

a-book-i-have-readGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Goodreads | Amazon

32768509At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.


I think everybody and anybody is raving about this book right now. There are ARCs flying about getting raving reviews and I’m somebody who fell in love as soon as I saw the word ‘feminist retelling’ and ‘Bloody Chamber’ but I couldn’t compare it to Frozen seeing as I haven’t seen it. The entire story sounds beautiful, there is a F/F romance between a main character which is healthy and well-developed and the book features a lot of amazingly complex female characters. I’m just super excited for this book and it will be released on September 5th!

 

Lots of Love,
Angharad @
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WWW Wednesday / August 2nd

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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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The Hollow Girl was sent to me on Netgalley. If you follow me on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter – pretty much anything then you know how much this book means to me right now. It’s a book set in my country!! That never happens. It tells the story of Bethan, a Welsh Romani who lives with her grandmother and will succeed her as the community’s healer/witch/badass. Full review to come closer to release date!

Queens of Geek was a book I desperately wanted to get around to after hearing it had an autistic main character. If you guys didn’t know, I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 18 so reading about it in a young adult novel was a big deal to me. This book is fun, especially if you’re a fan of all things fandom. Not only that but it’s diverse! An autistic main character with an anxiety disorder and a biracial (Chinese/Australian) bisexual main character who’s also a HUGE Youtuber! Although I didn’t love this book, I still really enjoyed it!

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The Alice Network is my current read after I got sent it in exchange for an honest review. I’m only 100 pages in so far but I am absolutely loving it. I love that it switches between the two women – Charlie who trying to solve the mystery of her missing cousin in 1947 and Eve, a former spy who tells us of her life during 1915. The two women’s lives become entwined and it is making for an excellent story so far. I love historical fiction but having two very different women as the protagonists is definitely my jam.

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Nyxia is hopefully my next read after being accepted for it on Netgalley. If I’m honest, I don’t know much about this book. In fact, I’ll have a look right now… Okay, it’s young adult and it’s sci-fi. It sounds perfect. It has been compared to The Hunger Games without killing but with added magic. It’s character driven, has multiple POVs (including one by a black character) and it has a lot of POC. Oh, and it’s a trilogy! I’m excited now so definitely ready to get into it!


I’m really enjoying this tag. Let me know what you’re currently reading in the comments!
Lots of love,
Angharad @
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