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TBR Spotlight: All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace

I’m late putting today’s post up, but here’s what the random number generator picked for me this week: book #290 from the TBR, All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace!

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.

I really enjoyed the first book in this piratical duology, All the Stars and Teeth (check out my review here), so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story wraps up! This was a gift from Justine at I Should Read That for my birthday this year – I did also have an E-ARC from NetGalley, but these covers are so beautiful I really wanted to own the books in hard copy. I think I’m going to try to make time for this in August, because although the first book wrapped up in a satisfying place, there’s so much more to see of Amora’s journey and I’m really in the mood for something swashbuckling and exciting like this. It’s going to be a fun time!

Have you read this duology? I’d love to know what you think and if the second book lives up to the first!

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TBR Spotlight: Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

This week the random number generator picked book #89 from the list, Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West!

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

I have absolutely zero recollection of this book. It very much sounds like my cup of tea, and the blurbs compare the style to Kristin Cashore, Robin McKinley, Garth Nix and Naomi Novik, all of whom are favourites of mine, so I can definitely see why I bought it, but other than that I have no idea where I heard about it or when I picked it up! I’m intrigued to see how the blend of fairy tales and other sources works, and I’m hopeful that it will manage to swerve the traditional YA tropes as I’m a little bit burned out on some of them – but this sounds like a unique take.

I’ve not seen anyone talking about this book, I don’t think, so I’d love to know if you’ve read it or if it’s on your TBR!

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TBR Spotlight: The Impostor Queen

This week the random number generator gave me a very early entry on my TBR, book #43, The Impostor Queen by Sarah Fine.

Sixteen-year-old Elli was only a child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic in service of her people. The only life Elli has known has been in the temple, surrounded by luxury, tutored by magic-wielding priests, preparing for the day when the queen perishes—and the ice and fire find a new home in Elli, who is prophesied to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between her love for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must choose the right side before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed.

Although I keep my TBR in chronological order, the first 100 or so entries were all done at once, and only in the order that I saw them on the shelf, so I actually have no idea how long this book has been around. It was published in December 2015, but I don’t know if I bought it on release or later – it’s a total mystery! In fact, although I remember the cover, I’d forgotten this was even on the list, so it’s very nice to be reminded that it’s there and waiting, as I can definitely see why I was interested – court intrigue, powerful girls, elemental magic. However, I’ve found myself quite burned out on YA fantasy in the past, so this may have missed its perfect time to be loved by me. I’m going to try to get to it soon and see!

Have you read this one? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone talking about it so I’d love to know if you have!

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TBR Spotlight: Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan

This time the random number generator picked a lovely round number, book #300, which is Savage Her Reply by Deirdre Sullivan!

A dark, feminist retelling of The Children of Lir told in Sullivan’s hypnotic prose. Aife marries Lir, a king with four children by his previous wife. Jealous of his affection for his children, the witch Aife turns them into swans for 900 years. Retold through the voice of Aife, Savage Her Reply is unsettling and dark, feminist and fierce, yet nuanced in its exploration of the guilt of a complex character. Voiced in Sullivan’s trademark rich, lyrical prose as developed in Tangleweed and Brine – the multiple award-winner which established Sullivan as the queen of witchy YA.

I’ve yet to read Sullivan’s fairy tale short story collection Tangleweed and Brine, though it’s also on my TBR, but I really enjoyed her YA contemporary horror Perfectly Preventable Deaths, which was wonderfully dark and witchy (review here). I was lucky enough to win a copy of Savage Her Reply from a contest the publisher ran on Twitter, and I’m really intrigued by it. I love the tragic story of the Children of Lir, and I’m looking forward to seeing a new take on it. I think this is going to be a dark, wintry book, so I might save it for later in the year, but I think it will definitely be powerful.

Have you read this one, or is it on your TBR? I’d love to know what you think!

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Mid-Year Book Tag!

I’ve read a lot of books in the first half of the year – 233 to be precise – so I thought that this tag would be a great way to look back on some of the highlights of 2021 so far!

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2020

Half a Soul has got to be up there, despite being literally the first book I read this year. I’m always down for Regency fantasy romance and this is an exceptionally fun one with a very swoonworthy hero! I also adored Winter’s Orbit, which is a marvellous sci-fi romance with an arranged marriage, great character work, and a bunch of politics – like court fantasy in space. My review is here if you want more of my thoughts!

Best Sequel of 2020 so far

Master Artificer was a fabulous sequel that really expanded the world of the first book – my review has more detail, but be warned, it’s hard to avoid spoilers for book one! Dead Man in a Ditch was also a brilliant follow-up to a book I loved, and Voidbreaker was one of the best final books in a trilogy I’ve read in a long time!

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want to

Oh goodness, most of them! I’m so very behind on my 2021 releases. I’m looking forward to The Jasmine Throne very much, and The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels.

Most Anticipated Release of the Second Half of 2020

I am desperate to read The Last Graduate! I adored A Deadly Education and that cliffhanger left me on tenterhooks!

Biggest Disappointment

For the Wolf. I wanted dark and luxurious fairy tale romance, but what I got was a lot of overblown teen angst. My review has more details but I was so let down!

Biggest surprise

I didn’t expect to have as much fun with Serpent and Dove as I did! I’m a bit worn out on enemies-to-lovers YA, but this is quite a romp. Not perfect, but very enjoyable.

Favourite New Author

Sarah Pinsker. I love her brand of eerily believable speculative fiction – I’ve read and reviewed both A Song for a New Day and We Are Satellites in the first half of this year and they were both stunning.

Newest Fictional Crush

I loved Half a Soul‘s Elias Wilder, the Lord Sorcier, and Leander Fabian from Stephanie Burgis’s Good Neighbours series. Both go straight on my list of Hot Wizard Boyfriends.

Newest Favourite Character

My most recent favourite is Wendy from Wendy, Darling. The book is a fantastic take on what might happen after Neverland, and I loved adult Wendy’s resilience and heart.

Book That Made You Cry

The Midnight Bargain made me cry happy tears, but I can’t tell you why!

Book That Made You Happy?

So many, but it’s hard to top the sense of joy and comfort I had from discovering that the book of Kiki’s Delivery Service is even better than the film. It’s so cosy and wonderful.

Favourite Book to Movie Adaptation You’ve Seen This Year? 

I don’t think I’ve seen any! I actually really tend to dislike adaptations – no matter how good they are, they’ll never look exactly like I imagined things, and some things will inevitably be changed, and so they’re always disappointing to me!

Favourite Review You’ve Written This Year? 

I don’t really think I have a favourite of my reviews – once I’ve written them, I mostly forget about them…

Most Beautiful Book You Bought or Received So Far This Year? 

It would be hard to beat Botanical Curses and Poisons by Fez Inkwright!

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year?

Uh, all of them! The TBR is at 420 and counting, and I’d like to get it down even further, so I’ve got my work cut out for me!

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TBR Spotlight: The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner

Whenever I make a set day for a weekly post, they always seem to come around so fast! It’s Monday again and the random number generator has picked book #377 from the TBR, The Forest of Stars by Heather Kassner.

Left all alone after her mother passes away, twelve-year-old Louisa watches the sky for her father. Long ago, a powerful gust of wind stole him away on the wings of his untamed magic – the same magic that stirs within Louisa. As if she is made of hollow bones and too much air, her feet never quite touch the ground.

But for all her sky gazing, Louisa finds her fortune on the ground when she spots a ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars. If her father fits in nowhere else, maybe she’ll find him dazzling crowds alongside the other strange feats. Yet after she arrives, a tightrope act ends disastrously – and suspiciously. As fate tugs Louisa closer to the stars, she must decide if she’s willing to slip into the injured performer’s role, despite the darkness plucking at the carnival’s magical threads.

I was a big fan of Heather Kassner’s previous book, The Bone Garden, which I reviewed here, so when this ARC popped up on NetGalley I snapped it up. I loved her command of atmosphere, and how the book sat between middle grade and YA, providing creepy-but-not-scary darkness that will really suit a young teen reader. So I’m excited to see if that balance is also present in The Forest of Stars – a slightly sinister circus setting certainly seems like it’s perfect for Kassner’s impressive atmosphere-building skills. I think this is going to be a very enjoyable read, but it’s one I might save for a gloomy day – it doesn’t feel quite right for sunshine!

Have you read this, or is it on your TBR? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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TBR Spotlight: The Fairy’s Tale by FD Lee

Monday’s rolled round again, and the random number generator this week picked book #214, The Fairy’s Tale by FD Lee!

Whoever said fairy tales were easy has never been a wannabe fairy godmother. The truth is, making dreams come true can be a total nightmare.

Bea is a lowly cabbage fairy, but she dreams of being an official Fairy Godmother. So when Bea is finally given a chance to prove her worth she is determined to make a success of it. Besides, how hard can a Happy Ever After story be? Every girl wants to be rescued by a handsome man, don’t they?

Apparently not.

Bea’s heroine doesn’t want to be in her story, and her hero is much more interested in the ugly sister. The same ugly sister who is trying to overthrow the Kingdom.

Suddenly, Bea must confront the fact that her characters are as real as she is – and just like her, they are determined to go their own way. The problem is, if Bea fails to finish the story, she faces a fate much worse than being put to sleep for a hundred years. 

Now Bea must figure out what Happy Ever After really means – and whose Happy Every After she’s prepared to fight for…

I love a snarky take on fairy tale tropes, so this take on fairy godmothering as an industry seems like it will be right up my street! This is a self-published book I picked up at Worldcon 2019, where I met the author in person after following her on Twitter for ages – which means it’s sat on my shelf for nearly two years at this point, eek. It’s the beginning of a series, so I’m really hopeful that if I like it as much as I think I will, then there’s plenty more to dive into!

Have you read this one? I’d love to know your thoughts – or if you have any recommendations for other sideways looks at fairy tales!

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TBR Spotlight: Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly

Today’s random number pick is book #284, Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly!

Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman pulled out his knife . . . and took Sophie’s heart.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . . With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.

I loved Donnelly’s take on the Cinderella story in Stepsister, which I reviewed here, so I when I spotted her Snow White retelling pop up on NetGalley I couldn’t resist requesting it. However, I then went into a big YA slump in the second half of last year, so this kind of got pushed to the sidelines a little bit. I’m definitely starting to enjoy YA again, so I’m really looking forward to diving into this soon. There are so many interesting things you can do with Snow White, and I’ve seen people say that this draws more from the bloody Grimm story than the sanitised Disney version, so I’m intrigued. Hopefully I can get to this before long!

Have you read this one, or is it on your TBR? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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20 Books of Summer 2021 Challenge

I’m a little late signing up to this reading challenge, but I only just spotted some of my friends talking about it! This is a three-month challenge hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, running from June 1st to September 1st. The aim of the game is to read 20 books across the summer, and while I’ll definitely manage that, I think this would be a great way to tackle my review copy list, which is stacking up. I’ll be aiming to read and review these 20 books – read on for my TBR!

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