The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2016 by Chantal

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on March 29th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
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War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

Are you really a boy, like Xash says? the god asked Arin. You’ve been mine for twenty years. I raised you.
The Valorian signed the scrap of paper.
Cared for you.
The message was rolled, sealed, and pushed into a tiny leather tube.
Watched over you when you thought you were alone.
The captain tied the tube to hawk’s leg. The bird was too large to be a kestrel. It didn’t have a kestrel’s markings. It cocked its head, turning its glass-bead eyes on Arin.
No, not a boy. A man made in my image…one who knows he can’t afford to be seen as weak.
The hawk launched into the sky.
You’re mine, Arin. You know what you must do.
Arin cut the Valorian’s throat.

I’m speechless.

This book was the perfect ending to one of my all-time favourite series. I can’t believe it’s over. But it was a beautiful ride, Marie Rutkoski, a truly beautiful ride.

Let’s do some reminiscing. When I first picked up The Winner’s Curse my expectations were pretty low. Books with girls in dresses on the cover? Focused primarily on romance? Not really my thing. However, as soon as I started the novel two things became very clear.

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Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 by Chantal

Prince of Thorns by Mark LawrencePrince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
Published by Voyager on August 2nd 2011
Genres: Fantasy, Royalty
Pages: 384
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Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.

From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

Mark Lawrence’s debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.

“I may be running out of options, but running out isn’t an option.”

This book was quite the ride. Very original and intriguing to say the least. Probably the darkest fantasy novel I have ever read.

Going into this book all I knew was that Prince of Thornswas about an anti-hero. But let me tell you, Jorg Ancrath wasn’t just an anti-hero, the dude was plain evil. And when I say evil, I mean EVIL. As in, no redeeming qualities. And you know what? I loved Jorg. Seriously, I tried to hate him and failed miserably. It is no secret that I love anti-heroes and morally grey characters but Jorg was in an entirely different dimension. He wasn’t grey, he was black. And I freaking loved it. Not sure what that says about me but oh well…

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The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
Posted on Monday, February 29th, 2016 by Chantal

The Alloy of Law by Brandon SandersonThe Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Gollancz on November 10th 2011
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 325
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Centuries after the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is on the verge of modernity – railroads, electric street lights, and skyscrapers. Waxillium Ladrian can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After 20 years in the dusty Roughs, in the city of Elendel, the new head of a noble house may need to keep his guns.

 

“The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.”

This book was such a fun ride!

Brandon Sanderson has become a comfort writer to me. Whenever I find myself in a reading slump or I am in that mood where I don’t feel like reading anything on my TBR, I can always count on Sanderson to produce something that I will greatly enjoy.

The Alloy of Law is a continuation/spin-off series of the Mistborn trilogy and takes place in the same world. Although it is set hundreds of years in the future and follows different characters, you still need to read Mistborn before diving into this one.

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The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2016 by Chantal

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. BeagleThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Published by Penguin on July 2008 (first published 1968)
Genres: Fantasy, Classic
Pages: 294
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The unicorn wants to find other unicorns. Mage Schmendrick, whose magic seldom works, never as he intended, rescues unicorn from Mommy Fortuna’s Midnight Carnival. Only some mythical beasts displayed are illusions. Molly Grue believes in legends despite Robin Hood wannabe and his unmerry men. King Haggard and his Bull banish unicorns into sea.

“We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.”

In my mind, the movie The Last Unicorn will forever be known as the first and so far only book, movie or TV show to ever give me nightmares. I think I saw the film for the first time when I was about 5 or 6 and I remember being completely entranced by it. It immediately became one of my favourite movies, despite the fact that I couldn’t sleep for a week after seeing it for the first time. I never realised it was originally a novel, not until now.

Having read the book and re-watched the film after finishing it, I now know why it gave me nightmares. This story is not for children. My grandmother (who gifted me the film) must have fallen into the trap that so many do these days, namely that any cartoon is for kids, just because it’s animated. Anime lovers will know the struggle.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 by Chantal

Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Published by Knopf on September 9th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Survival Stories
Pages: 336
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An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of “King Lear”. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from “Star Trek”: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

“What I mean to say is, the more you remember, the more you’ve lost.”

Confession: I went into this book not really expecting to like it. It’s very hyped and has gotten many raving reviews, and yet I didn’t think I would enjoy it. Why? Because this book can – I believe – be classified as literary fiction and for some reason, I still see myself as not being capable of grasping these kinds of novels. I have the preconceived notion that as someone who reads primarily YA, I cannot appreciate these types of books (which I realize is actually kind of offensive towards YA readers). I thought I would be bored and confused. Fortunately though, it turns out I was wrong. Station Eleven didn’t confuse me in the slightest and I really enjoyed it.

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Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Posted on Thursday, January 28th, 2016 by Chantal

Half a King by Joe AbercrombieHalf a King by Joe Abercrombie
Published by Del Rey on July 15th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Royalty, Survival Stories
Pages: 336
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Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.

But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.

Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…

The fool strikes. The wise man smiles, and watches, and learns. Then strikes.

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Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Posted on Monday, December 21st, 2015 by Chantal

Finding Audrey by Sophie KinsellaFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
on June 9th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness, Family
Pages: 288
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An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

There are two things I think we can all agree on when it comes to books dealing with mental health:
1) We want more of them because it is such an important issue and isn’t talked about enough
2) Mental health books will ALWAYS be polarizing

There are two reasons for the second point:
a) A book deals with the heavy issue in a very serious manner and appears to be quite “dark”
b) The author decides to take a more humorous approach and pairs a heavy topic such as mental health with a writing style and story that is more fluffy

Which of these you prefer completely depends on your personal interpretation of a book and your experience with the topic that the story is dealing with. In my opinion, both choices are equally valid, as long as the author stays respectful.

In Finding AudreySophie Kinsella chose to take route b and for me personally this worked very well. I found the novel to be heartfelt and charming, at times funny, at others poignant and always honest. It is a feel-good novel that will make you laugh out loud; certainly fluffy and light but never offensive.

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Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015
Posted on Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 by Chantal

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about our new favourite authors we’ve read for the first time this year. Unfortunately, Aimee is swamped with work this time around (why haven’t people yet understood that book lovers should get an exemption slip from real life??) so I’ll be taking over for her this week.

In no particular order…

*Links will lead to the authors GR page and the photos to that respective book’s page.

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Posted on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 by Chantal

Carry On by Rainbow RowellCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on October 6th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 522
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Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

So…Carry On.

I really wanted to like this book. It had potential. But ultimately, it let me down. Frankly, it was a bit of a mess.

The big question everyone seems to be asking about Carry On, is whether or not you need to read Rainbow Rowell’s contemporary novel Fangirl first, since the two are somewhat linked. The clear and definite answer to this is: no. You won’t get anything more or less out of this book having read Fangirl first. HOWEVER, you do need to have read Harry Potter. People might disagree with me on this but I feel that if you haven’t read Harry Potter, this book will make no sense to you. Why? Carry On is basically bad Harry Potter fanfiction. There, I said it.

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The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 by Chantal

The Rithmatist by Brandon SandersonThe Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Tor Teen on May 14th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Friendship
Pages: 378
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The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson’s New York Times bestselling epic teen adventure is now available in paperback.

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013

I think I should start every Sanderson review with: Brandon Sanderson does it again!

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a book lover, beta-reader, and Politics graduate from the North of England.

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