A review: Frost Like Night – Sara Raasch

I am finally catching up with all the reviews I did not write whilst I took myself away from the blogosphere. My drafts are the biggest they’ve ever been as I finally have the writing bug again.
Next up on my long-list of books to review is the concluding third of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy; Frost Like Night.

I began reading this trilogy a few years ago now, picking up the first not long after its release on a whim; as it checks off a lot of check boxes of things I like in a fantasy novel;

  • leading lady
  • multiple lands centre around a specific ~something
  • mAgicAl PoWers!!!
  • weather-centric magic to boot
  • there’s so much more but this list is not the review so I’ma stop

So here we are, the last in the trilogy. I was very tentative going into it as I’ve been burned my trilogies in the past; they’ve always started so strongly, the second book is literally either astounding or appalling and the third never ever concludes it fully.

FLNMeira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.

So let’s find out just how Frost Like Night held up!
This review, as ever, is spoiler free.

Continue reading “A review: Frost Like Night – Sara Raasch”

A review: This Savage Song – V. E Schwab

I have a confession to make, before This Savage Song, I’d never read a V. E. Schwab book. Which is all sorts of insane for a self-confessed fantasy lover. Thankfully, I can now say I’ve read at least one! (almost two, currently on Out Dark Duet).

Goodreads Synopsis

TSSThere’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

As always, this review is spoiler-free!

Continue reading “A review: This Savage Song – V. E Schwab”

YALC 2017

The end of July means only one thing, one of the most anticipated events in the UK book blogging calendar! YALC; Young Adult Literature Convention. Held alongside LFCC; London Film and Comic Con.

This was the first time I’d ever gotten to attend YALC and it was all incredibly last minute, only buying our tickets two days before the day we were due to go!
Due to work commitments, my friend and I went on the Friday; the first day of the convention so it wasn’t overly busy, which was nice. We spent so much time just perusing every stall and loading ourselves full of samplers and little goodies. Everyone running the stalls were all so approachable and lovely and seemed genuinely excited about the books. It was really easy flowing conversation.


YALC Tip #1
As a first-timer, I didn’t realise that it probably would’ve been better to plan our day out, a bit of preparation never hurt anyone. There was so much to do and see, not just within YALC but with LFCC as well. You can get a tad lost in the shuffle.
Look up beforehand which authors you’d like to meet – as some are only signing on certain days. Have a peek at what panels interest you and which workshops excite you and plan your day around these.

YALC Tip #2 
Do some shoulder workouts beforehand. Ok, I’m joking but definitely be prepared for an aching shoulder at the end of the day. I saw people hauling around mini suitcases which if you’re planning on purchasing a lot, might be something to think about.

YALC Tip #3
Be Twitter aware. Sign in to the free Wi-fi, carry a charging pack and turn on notifications from publishing houses. Those exclusive, limited ARC’s are usually announced via Twitter and it’s a first come first serve basis.

YALC Tip #4
Don’t get disappointed when you don’t get those limited ARC’s and indulge yourself looking around the stalls; almost all are handing out badges/stickers/posters/samples/sweets and these are all free! At the end of the day, YALC is about all of our love for books, and sure I would’ve enjoyed getting my hands on a couple more ARC’s but just the atmosphere itself meant my tickets price was instantly worth it.

Things to know
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed my time at YALC, and will definitely try my best to attend next year. Everything can always be improved upon, and some of the formats for ARC giveaways didn’t entirely sit right with me.
The whole run here and get your ARC, or the first to arrive and do/say something gets an ARC, makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Although I might be a person who is able I do find these somewhat exclusive as not everyone is able to do these things, for whatever personal reasons they may have. And 15-year-old Katy would definitely not run around and yell/perform as that would send chills through her at the very thought.

Otherwise, I had a genuinely wonderful, if not totally exhausting day and by the sounds of it, the entire weekend was full of excited, happy book lovers with multiple appearances of a certain Benedict Cumberbatch.

 

Did you go to YALC this year? What were your thoughts? Do you plan to go next year?

 

 

 

A discussion; blogging burnout – what to do when it all gets to be too much.

Please excuse the audaciously long title, but my creative juices are running dry. Although, perhaps the title gave that away.
So, another discussion type/life post coming your way ladies and gentlemen, something that I’m going through this very moment; blogging burnout – when it all gets to be too much.
I’m sure, like me, blogging is not your number 1 priority in life. You adore it, don’t get me wrong, but you’ve probably got school/college/university work, or a job (or 2!) that’s either part-time or full-time. Then there’s all the reading you need to catch up on, your TV shows, your films, your music. You may have other hobbies and interests, besides your blog, so you have to fit that in too.
And sometimes, there’s just not enough hours in the day, and it all becomes a tad overwhelming.

That’s where I am right now, that’s my headspace. Overwhelmed, overworked, and just exceptionally tired. I love blogging, I love that this outlet is available and for the most part, free. I love that I am able to combine my passion for writing, with my passion for reading. And I definitely still can’t get over the fact that people legitimately read this blog. It blows my mind everyday. I couldn’t be more grateful that people, even somewhat, value my thoughts and find my posts on the spectrum of decent.
Yet recently, it’s felt more like a chore to blog. Perhaps I’ve simply put too much pressure on myself, which wouldn’t be surprising. But the need to put content on my blog has taken away some of my enjoyment of the act of blogging. I still get into grooves where I can get lost in the post I’m writing, but other times I’m sat staring at blank screen willing the words to appear.
I scroll through all your posts, but in reality all I want to do in curl up with my dog and binge-watch Netflix whilst eating terrible food. Although even that will lead me to worry I’m putting too much weight on and should probably join a gym and there I am, heading down a dark spiral. That dark spiral will lead me to question why I even run a blog and that I might as well delete it now and save myself the hassle. Honestly, I exhaust myself.

I always wish there was a reason for all of this but your mind can be your biggest enemy. I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience this internal struggle, the monologue that incessantly digs at you and never knows when to shut the fuck up.
So how do I get out of the whole I dig myself?

First of all, I cuddle my dog. He’s soft and warm and incredibly gentle in nature, and my favourite to snuggle with.  I’ll step away from my laptop for awhile, I’ll walk said doggo (he’s name is Barney and he’s a Spaniel mix in case you wanted to know) and tune out the world. Maybe I’ll sit downstairs with my Mum or cuddle up with my boyfriend and forget that I even run a blog for awhile. I’ll ensure I’m in a positive mental state before I even glance at my laptop. Then when I do inevitably glance that way, I’ll pick up a book. The subject that caused this all to begin. Once I remember just how much I love reading, how much passion and drive I have for writing, how much inspiration and creativity I surround myself with everyday, suddenly, that weighted feeling that comes with looking at WordPress, doesn’t feel so heavy anymore.

Inevitably, this will not be the last time this happens, but I know, I’m in such an open community, the book blogging world is courageous and understanding and I’m happy to be a part of it. I also want everyone to know that you are not alone, blogging is first and foremost, a community, one with people always willing to listen. Sometimes venting to an unbiased stranger is incredibly relieving.

And if blogging really does get too much and you need to step away. Then step away. Honestly, your blog will still be there when you get back. Even if it’s not blogging that is the cause of your negative head-space, your stress, whatever, letting go of some of your everyday pressures can do wonders.

Blogging burnout happens to all of us, it’s just writers block plus the networking and the planning and all the other activities that come as part of the package. It’s important to remember that it does happen to all of us, and it’s not that big a deal as your mind may make it out to be! Because I sure know mine makes it’s feel like such a big thing.

What are the ways you deal with blogging burnout? What are your go-to tactics to help you on your way to back to blogging? Please share away!

An ARC review: Countless – Karen Gregory

I think I’ve gotten to a point a lot of book bloggers can relate to; I let my NetGalley ARC’s build-up and just sit there, on my shelf. It’s terrible, I know they’re there, but when they’re somewhat hidden on my kindle, and I can see all my physical books sitting pretty on my shelf, you know what is more likely to get picked to be read next.
But May is the month I tackle those ARCs! This journey begins with Countless by Karen Gregory.

For those sensitive to eating disorders, especially anorexia, here’s a warning as those are the strongest themes in this book.

Goodreads Synopsis

CL-KGIs there anything that’s concerning you?’ Felicity says. ‘College, home, boyfriends?’ Though she’s more or less smiling at this last one.

I don’t smile. Instead, I feel my face go hot. Silence stretches as wide as an ocean.
When I look up, Felicity has this expression on her face like she’s just seen Elvis. Slowly, she leans forward and in a gentle voice I’ve never heard her use before she says, ‘Have you done a pregnancy test?’

When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time …

Heartbreaking and hopeful by turns, Karen Gregory’s debut novel is a story of love, heartache and human resilience. And how the things that matter most can’t be counted. Perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson, Non Pratt and Sarah Crossan.

Apprehensiveness aside, I was really surprised by this book. Surprised by the heart-breaking realness of this book. It doesn’t gloss over any aspect of the harsh realities that surround these incredibly taboo subjects. Both eating disorders and teen pregnancies come with a stigma – ones that author Karen Gregory explores within the pages; she does not shy away either. She tries and tries to show to us, the readers, that there is more than just what we see on the surface. And I for one, came away from this book with a greater knowledge and understanding that I didn’t have before.
To say I enjoyed the way Karen Gregory never beat around the bush seems like a bad word choice – more like I was in awe of it. Never once did shew romanticise or glorify the situation Hedda, our main character, was in.

Hedda was a very torn character. From the very first time we meet her, you know this book is not going to sunshine and rainbows. She lies, she plays up to the character she’s made for herself, and yet, we see the insecurities that plague her, the numbers she counts for comfort and control.
I don’t think I’ve read such an honest insight – it was genuinely heartbreaking to read. To go through Hedda’s struggles and internal arguments, her battle with her eating disorder that she calls Nia. This entire book from beginning to end is Hedda struggling and as bleak as that sounds, it’s also very, very real. Nothing, not even a potential love interest, nor her own child will magically fix Hedda because that is real-life. Only you can fix you, and you need to want to fix you.
Hedda showcases a kind of strength, I personally don’t see often in YA. Sure, she has no superhuman abilities, she’s not heading to war, nor does she have the fate of a nation/kingdom/country/world on her shoulders. But it’s a strength that is so real, so tangible, you can almost see it. It’s the kind of silent strength that’s underappreciated. She’s t r y i n g, and that in itself is half the battle. I was so invested in Hedda, I was rooting for her the whole way through.
There is genuinely so much more I could write about Hedda, but you truly should experience her story yourself.

The impact of this book still had me reeling long after I’d finished it, even when I’d moved on to another book. It definitely is a book that doesn’t leave you, not for a while – it’s one that has me talking about it constantly. A book that, despite it’s bleakness, I believe it’s one that many should read. Just to get into that headspace, which yes, is completely terrifying but is one that is nothing but complete and utter reality.

This book is something very different; there is barely any romance, there is not much of a happy ever after, there is no big hallelujah moment. And that is why this book makes the impact it does. because most lives do not have those things by 17, mine sure didn’t. You don’t magically get better, you have to fight, and struggle and fall down and pick yourself up again.
I, wholeheartedly, recommend this book.

 

 

An ARC review: Flame in the Mist – Renée Ahdieh

I can’t even begin to explain how shocked I was when I was approved for an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley, this is probably my biggest title to date, so that’s quite exciting for me and my little space of the internet. And I had every right to be so excited – this book was everything I expected it to be, and so much more!

Goodreads Synopsis 

FITMThe daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

This review is spoiler free!

Continue reading “An ARC review: Flame in the Mist – Renée Ahdieh”

Series I’ve yet to finish #1 (hint: there’s a lot)

Confession time, I am A-W-F-U-L at finishing series of books. Honestly, awful, I’ll read the first, sometimes the second book, then not continue them. I have so many unfinished series sitting my shelves; incomplete, alone.
It’s just not right.
Some of them I really, really enjoyed too! 4/5 star reads some of them and yet I still don’t carry them on, it’s an awful habit I have, and I don’t see myself breaking it anytime soon.

I am the worst.

So here they are – the top 5 series I’ve yet to finish #1 – because there’s too many for one list!

Continue reading “Series I’ve yet to finish #1 (hint: there’s a lot)”