Quick-fire reviews

As some of you may have noticed, my project for this month has been a brand new Instagram account! I’ve set up this bookstagram purely to share beautiful images of my books and connect with more people who enjoy reading and may benefit from my reviews.

If you’re interested, please do check it out. You’ll find me at: Books, Tea and Dreams – Instagram

With that in mind, here’s my first collaboration post to bring my blog and bookstagrams together!

Today’s bookstack features a selection of the white/cream/beige books that I own. As Britian is currently enjoying (or suffering) a heatwave I thought these crisp, clean covers could make some good summer reads. Here’s some quick-fire reviews and thoughts on those I have included!

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – Epic Fantasy. Themes of family, sisterly love, revenge, bullying, power, internal strength. Set in Faerieland. Badass characters. Includes LGBT+ characters

Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard – Short stories relating to characters in the Red Queen series. Deals with the idea of power and how it destroys. Provides excellent backstories for a much-loved character and one more unknown.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – first in a four book YA series. Strong debut, great start to a series. Kickass characters who you can really get behind. Coming of age/self discovery.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – one of the most impressive debuts I’ve read for ages. Deals with mental health issues. Relatable, funny, heartbreaking, wholesome, awesome.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – despite the volume of YA I read I haven’t actually got around to this one yet…(I know, I’m a terrible person)

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland – this one is on my TBR too. Really hoping I enjoy this one. I haven’t had a good run of books written by YouTubers. I’ve read each of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s and though they were all sub-par at best, a waste of my time at worst. On top of that, we’ve all heard about Zoella’s ghostwriting dramas so I’ve steered clear of books by this group ever since (which is probably unfair). If you’ve read Wilde Like Me, please let me know what you thought…

Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell – dystopian fiction set way into Orwell’s future. Coined the phrase “Big Brother.” Eerily prescient in today’s society. Must read modern classic.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne – my favourite childhood book. The book I learnt to read with. I adore it. Enough said.

A Short History of England by Simon Jenkins – non-fiction, does what it says on the tin. Crash course into English history if you’re a complete history nerd like I am. The rear pages contain some dreamy lists like every Monarch in British History, all of the Prime Ministers and a list of important turning points for the country. I told you I am a history nerd…

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart – I’m ashamed to say I have owned the book for several years and have not yet read it. If any of you have, please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green – I am a huge John Green fan and, like most of us, eagerly anticipated the release of some new material for the last five years or so since The Fault in Our Stars. This did not disappoint. Beautiful novel. Deals with mental health issues and the spiralling anxiety issues within teenagers and young adults.

Votes For Women by Jenni Murray – non-fiction. Educates us on the women who fought for our rights as human beings and gave us the ability to have a political voice. Important in this 100th anniversary year of The Representation of the People Act (1918), especially when every time we turn on the news recently we are seeing these important rights being threatened. Enough said.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – possibly one of my favourite ever modern classics. About a little girl whose father is a lawyer fighting to free a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman in 50s America. Again, strikingly prescient. Another must-read.

A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray – non-fiction. Another book that educates us about the women history choose to forget, or at least diminish their influence. From Boadicea and Mary Wollstonecraft to Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Nancy Astor and Nicola Sturgeon. Important. We should all know these names.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – another terrifyingly relevant dystopian novel. Probably one of the most important books of our time. Recently adapted into a hit tv series. Set in an oppressive society where women are forced into sexual servitude in order to save a declining population. Stirs up emotions and important questions. Another must-read.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – quite possibly my favourite ever novel, and as any fellow reader will understand, I do not say that lightly. Narrated by death, which is absolute genius. A story about the power of words, love, friendship and family. Set in Nazi occupied Germany during WWII this is the kind of book that stays with you forever.

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley – I haven’t managed to read this one yet but cannot wait to get stuck in. If any of you have already read it, let me know your thoughts!

Until next time!!

Review: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #4)

9781409175988Title: War Storm

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Pages: 672

Format: Hardback

Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon

⭐️ 3.5 / 5

Victory comes at a price. Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart-and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her-Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolish everything – and everyone – in his path. War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power. For all will be tested, but not all will survive. Continue reading → Review: War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #4)

Review: Spark by Alice Broadway (Skin Books #2)

1420357009Title: Spark

Author: Alice Broadway

Pages: 352

Format: Paperback

Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon

⭐️ 2 / 5

 

Leora is reeling: questioning everything she has ever known about her family and herself. As half-Marked and half-Blank, can she ever wholly belong in either fractured community? For some, she is a pawn and Mayor Longsight wants to use her as a weapon: to infiltrate Featherstone, home of the Blanks, and deliver them to him for obliteration.

Meanwhile Leora longs for answers about her mysterious birth mother, and Featherstone may reveal them. But will she find solace and safety there or a viper’s nest of suspicion and secrets? Continue reading → Review: Spark by Alice Broadway (Skin Books #2)

Review: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands #3)

IMG_20180614_141040_346.jpgTitle: Hero at the Fall

Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Pages: 506

Format: Paperback

Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon

⭐️ 5 / 5

Once, in the desert country of Miraji, there was a Sultan without an heir. The heir had been killed by his own brother, the treacherous Rebel Prince, who was consumed by jealousy and sought the throne for himself. Or so it was said by some. There were others who said that the Rebel Prince was not a traitor but a hero… In the final battle for the throne, Amani must fight for everything she believes in, but with the rebellion in pieces, and the Sultan’s armies advancing across the desert plains, who will lead, who will triumph, who will live and who will die?

I loved the first two books in the Rebel of the Sands series so I was really excited to jump into the concluding novel as soon as I could get my hands on it. Continue reading → Review: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands #3)

Review: Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

Screen Shot 2018-06-12 at 15.52.21Title: Eve of Man

Author: Giovanna and Tom Fletcher (Debut YA novel alert!! Debut as a writing duo alert!!)

Pages: 404 (Format: Hardback)

Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon

⭐️ 4.5 / 5

Against all odds, she survived. The first girl born in fifty years. They called her Eve.

All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past. But at sixteen it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate. Until she meets Bram. Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom. But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race? 

Described by Giovanna and Tom as an unconventional love story set in a dystopian future – do you embrace your fate – or do you run from it?

 

Eve of Man is the debut young adult novel for power couple Giovanna and Tom Fletcher, and their first novel as a writing duo marking the beginning of a new trilogy of YA books.   Continue reading → Review: Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands #2)

imagesTitle: Traitor to the Throne

Author: Alwyn Hamilton

Pages: 592

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

⭐️ 5 / 5

This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.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 cruellest 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.

Continue reading → Review: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton (Rebel of the Sands #2)

Learning a foreign language: tips from a wannabe polyglot (spoiler – I’ve still got some way to go)

I’ve always had an interest in languages, which I wouldn’t say is usual of my monolingual social and family background.  I grew up in a small South Devon seaside town.  All of my family are English (and 90% of them all live in the same county I was born in so they’re very close by – as in no more than 6 miles away close by), we never went on holidays abroad because we couldn’t afford them and none of us had passports so instead we owned the ‘staycation.’  So there was nothing to immediately pull me towards learning another language.  Although maybe that’s it?  I’ve never really been exposed to anything other than what is comfortable so perhaps this is my way of branching and exploring?

When I was seven years old I had my first taster lesson of French at school.  We learnt things like counting to ten and introducing ourselves and the usual things most primary school children know.  This is where it all started and I’ve been learning French ever since.  Unfortunately, mainly due to the appalling English school system when it comes to learning languages, I am not fluent yet – despite over 12 years of French.  However now I’m at university, and learning language under the standardised European Language Framework, I’m getting so much better and really enjoying learning again.

Over my 12 years of foreign language education I’ve picked up some things that have helped with my learning and are a great idea if you want to maintain and/or improve your language ability.  In the last 6 months I’ve been learning Italian too so I am now actively learning two languages in addition to my own.  Here’s what I’ve found has helped me.

Continue reading → Learning a foreign language: tips from a wannabe polyglot (spoiler – I’ve still got some way to go)

Review: The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury (Sin Eater’s Daughter #3)

9781407147659Title: The Scarecrow Queen

Author: Melinda Salisbury

Pages: 336

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

⭐️ 4.5 / 5

The final battle is coming… As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever… Explosive, rich and darkly addictive, this is the stunning conclusion to Melinda Salisbury’s internationally best-selling trilogy that began with THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

I’m more than a little obsessed with this series at this point.  I honestly don’t know how I was so late to the party in reading this.

The Scarecrow Queen is the third and final instalment of Melinda Salisbury’s series The Sin Eater’s Daughter.  If you’ve read my reviews for books one and two you’ll know I’m a bit of a fan.  I panicked a little bit when I flicked through this book because my pet peeve is switching POVs every few chapters and I could feel it coming owing to the fact the previous books left us with two equally important protagonists that both have a voice.  Whilst Melinda did do this and switch POVs between Errin and Twylla I loved the way Continue reading → Review: The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury (Sin Eater’s Daughter #3)

Review: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury (Sin Eater’s Daughter #2)

9780545921275_mresTitle: The Sleeping Prince

Author: Melinda Salisbury

Pages: 367

Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles

⭐️ 5 / 5

Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more. Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep. When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help Errin, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds splits the world as she knows it apart, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom…

Warning: minor spoilers ahead in the form of fangirling over a character pairing

This is the second instalment in Melinda Salisbury’s The Sin Eater’s Daughter series.  This is the first book in a long time that I ran through in one sitting.  After immensely  Continue reading → Review: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury (Sin Eater’s Daughter #2)

2017 Reflections and Dealing With my Fear of Flying

So, 2017 has been a big year for me.  I went to a book launch.  I went on holiday on my own, more than once.  I took a gigantic step towards my dream job and broke into an almost impossible professional field.  I started learning Italian and took drastic action to improve my French.  I walked up the Eiffel Tower.  I went to Disneyland for the first time.  I had a coffee with one of my favourite authors.  I almost finished writing a book(!!).  I saw the Northern Lights.  I saw sea otters playing free in the ocean…so yeah.  Dreams came true.  Perhaps biggest of all for me was the fact that my three holidays this year all involved me getting on a plane and bigger than that, I had to do it alone some of the time.  For most people this isn’t a big deal but I have a severe fear of flying which I am working to improve.

Unfortunately the first time I ever got on a plane was 3 weeks before my 16th birthday.  That’s extremely late for most people’s standards.  I have never been able to go on holiday abroad with my family and in fact didn’t even have a passport until that trip.  I didn’t have the luxury of being too young to remember my first flight.  A couple of things added up to make my first flight somewhat of a disaster.  One of those things was that it was a school trip – and we all know how horrible kids can be once they know something gets to you.  Another thing was my ears.  They never seem to pop.  Ever.  The pressure just builds and builds and builds until the pain is beyond unbearable.  I’d also never experienced that kind of altitude before and my body didn’t react well to it.  On top of all this I ended up sat in a seat next to a complete stranger, away from my best friend and we then had one of the worst landings possible for the first time on a plane.  I spent most of the week crying and begging my teacher to buy me a train ticket from Naples back to the UK and ended up almost being carried onto the plane back because I was in such a state.  It took me three and a half years before I left the country again, let alone got on a plane.

In the several years after that flight, the trauma of the memory spiralled, making my recollection now probably much worse than what actually happened, and I got to the point where I couldn’t even hear a plane fly over head or, when it was really bad, even see a plane without getting very distressed and crying.  I went to a convention at a hotel right next to Heathrow airport and had to walk into the restaurant with my back to the window because it was overlooking the landing runway.  Pathetic, right?  Even talking about it now makes my heart race beyond anything that is normal.  But it has improved.  My goal has always been to get to New York but how can I possibly do that when it involved an EIGHT HOUR FLIGHT.  Nope.  No thank you.

But I couldn’t live my whole life without getting on a plane again.  So I bit the bullet and when I was invited to an event in Scotland back in March,  I booked the 45 minute flight to Edinburgh instead of taking the easy option and getting the train instead.  I had to get on a plane for the first time in years and I had to grow a backbone and do it alone.  I had to do it.  Enter my ridiculous superstitions and coping mechanisms!!

Just booking the flight was a big step.  I did it at the kitchen table in the early hours of the morning with the help of my flatmate (who had to deal with me shaking so much I could barely type in my name let alone my passport number).  I had to book it from Stansted which I really didn’t like as I’d only flown from Gatwick before, and although I didn’t like it I thought that would be safer because I knew I didn’t die the last time I used that airport (I realise this is ridiculous logic as if I stuck to it I’d never go to new places ever again but just roll with my screwed up terrified brain will you?).  I also had to book Easyjet because that company had kept my alive the first time.  I then had to book a “safe” seat.  This is entirely based on my idea of lucky/favourite numbers and letters which basically means even numbers and window seat letters.  4A is the seat on a plane that makes me feel happiest.  3C or 6C would cause a meltdown beyond anything you’ve ever experienced.   Completely irrational I know but a “safe” seat number makes me feel better.  Which brings me on to window seats.  I have to sit by a window so I can see outside.  My first flight was in an aisle seat and I couldn’t see out (because leaning forward to look made my head swim and the arsehole by the window put the blind down so they could sleep) which was the worst thing ever.  Sitting by the window means that no matter how alien the feeling in my head, I can see the real world and, crucially, the floor thousands of feet below is staying still and level which seems to help keep my head still.

Finding ways for me to feel comfortable with getting on a plane was the first step to dealing with my fear.  I just need to keep being able to get on a plane.  Now don’t get me wrong, I sobbed from the second I got to the bottom of the stairs on the runway at Stansted until I left Edinburgh airport and the same on the way back but thats not the point.  I did it.

In June I flew to Paris to go to Disneyland.  This time I didn’t cry until I sat in my seat on the plane and only cried for the first 40 minutes plus landing on the way there and lasted until the take off engines started and only cried until we reached cruising altitude plus landing on the way back.  I did have problems at the airports though because they had floor to ceiling windows at the terminals meaning I had to sit and watch planes taking off and landing for ages which was horrible (whereas Stansted is completely boxed in until you get on the plane – God bless Stansted!)  When I went to Norway this Christmas it got slightly better again.  It was two flights there and two flights back – out of the four takeoffs I only actually cried once and just welled up on the other three (I seem to be pretty much okay now until the engines pipe up) and only cried on three of the landings – one of which was horrific because the back of the plane slipped around on the snow/ice (and for anyone who’s interested all the airports had floor to ceiling windows and I was fine until I got on the planes this time).  Each time I fly the list of conditions to make me get on a plane seems to be reducing or at least relaxing ever so slightly.

None of this is very interesting really and no one wants a play by play of my anxiety when I fly but my point is this: people were right.  It does get better the more that you do it and for me I think that’s the only way I can progress.  People telling me that it will be fine and that flying is apparently statistically safer than driving a car (which I cannot accept no matter the facts or figures – it just doesn’t make sense to me) does not help.  But getting on planes does.  I’m really proud that, even though I still make an absolute twat of myself on occasion, I know I can now get on a plane.

So thank you 2017 for getting me on a plane. And here’s to 2018 – the year I finally book that flight to America, because look at where planes can get you: