Mini Reviews – Circe, The Night Circus and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

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Circe by Madeline Miller

I finally gave into the hype surrounding this book and let me say that everything said about this book is true, it is a wonderfully original and captivating read that explores the shadows of villainized women Greek Mythology. Millers choice to tell Circe’s story in first person was genius, it made transcending her emotions and hurting off the page more impactful and somewhat realistic. Her journey is one of many delicate and divine layers as she grows from a naive and hopelessly blind nymph to a powerful and compassionate heroine who’s weaknesses only excel her quest of love and acceptance. Throughout the book we get glimpses into other myths but storyline is solely Circe’s personal tale of heartbreak, desire and motherhood. A beautiful masterpiece filled with thought-provoking and powerful quotes, this book is a must read for all.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Prepare to be transported to the beautiful and enchanting world of the Night Circus where anything is possible thanks to Morgenstern’s magically intertwined storylines and sparkling prose which creates a place that is majestic and thoroughly irresistible.Behind the scenes of Le Cirque des Rêves, there is a tournament underway between two magicians who have been trained since childhood for this exact purpose by their instructors. Morgenstern includes every element you’d want in a book, a whirlwind romance, a beguiling mystery and peculiar characters that drive the story. This truly captivating adventure is proof that magic does exists.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

It is clear why Gail Honeyman’s debut novel ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ won last year’s Costa Book Award as is a stunning example of a beautifully written and profound novel that touches on a collection of different issues and aspects that will leave readers feeling wrecked in the best and worst ways possible. Eleanor is lonely, damaged and awkward and every day of her life is the same, but one night, all of that changes rather abruptly. Eleanor is a uniquely refreshing and quirky character but that doesn’t stop readers from establishing a connection with her and understanding why she is, the way she is. Instead, we take her by the hand and join her on her emotional journey as she experiences different events that act as a catalyst for change and wonderful character development.

Halloween Book Tag

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It’s the night before Halloween and the only way to celebrate is with a book tag! If you’ve done a Halloween inspired book tag, then please leave a link in the comments as I’d love to read your answers.

Favourite scary, must-watch for Halloween?

I had to change the question for this one as I never read anything scary (unless its a chapter where the fate of my favourite characters are on the line!). But I do love watching Halloween films leading up to the big day, especially Hocus Pocus.

Scariest book cover, like ever?

Again, I don’t tend to buy or go near scary book covers but I will admit that I used to be a bit freaked out over the Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar children covers!

If you could go trick-or-treating with any author, who would you pick?

I’d love to go trick-or-treating with Leigh Bardugo, the opportunity to discuss all of her books and the new Netflix adaptation would be amazing. I’d also persuade her to slip me Ben Barnes’ number or to give me a role in the show.

If you could dress up as any bookish character for Halloween, who would you be?

I answered this question in my last tag and I said Celaena Sardothien but I’d also love to go as Éowyn from Lord of the Rings or Lagertha from Vikings. I’m all for dressing up as some blonde, kick-ass heroines.

If you could find anything (from any book) in your trick-or-treat stash, what would you hope to find?

Either one of my many fictional crushes or a dragon from the Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini.

In what fictional world would you like to go trick-or-treating?

Either A Court of Thorns and Roses or Harry Potter, as I adore the unique magic and wonder that both of these worlds hold. Plus I bet the Autumn Court or the Night Court could throw a great Halloween party.

What book villain would you not like to meet alone in a dark alley on Halloween?

The Commandant from An Ember in the Ashes, I’d be a goner if I met her in a dark alley.

Would you rather dress up as a vampire, zombie, werewolf, or shadowhunter?

Definitely a Shadowhunter, I’d channel my inner Emma Carstairs!

Pick a candy (just one) from Harry Potter that you would love to find in your stash?

I’d love some exploding bon-bons or the classic chocolate frog!

What is your favourite Halloween candy?

In the UK we have these little chocolate balls wrapped as mini pumpkins and I can easily eat an entire bag of them! I’m also a classic lover of those mixed bags of Cadbury chocolate essentials.

To NaNoWriMo or Not to NaNoWriMo?

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This is always one of the most difficult decisions to make each year as I battle between realistic and optimistic writing expectations and whether or not its worth putting myself through such an intense month. As much as I’d love to write 50,000 words in a month, I know that it’s sadly not possible with my current work schedule but I do hope to write 25,000 words whether that be in the form of flash fiction, a detailed plan or the first couple of chapters.

Flash fiction for those who don’t know is a piece of fiction characterised as being only a couple of hundred words, that sometimes centres around a snap-shot filled with open-ended questions and a shroud of mystery. I was first introduced to the format whilst studying it at university and instantly fell in love with its ability to hold so much story and possibility within only a couple of hundred words and knew it was something I wanted to try and replicate.

What’s been my downfall in previous years was my failure to properly plan and layout my storyline correctly, which in turn left me struggling in deciding where I wanted my story and characters to go. If you have any tips for planning then I’d love to know as I’m currently watching lots of YouTube videos and reading lots of really helpful blog posts.

It’s not NaNoWriMo without writing a couple of draft chapters and one of the most important tips I’ve learned over the years is to just write and worry about the edits later! I’m one for getting hung up on different words and sentence structures but hopefully this year things will be different and I’ll be able to complete my target of 25,000 words. I plan to keep you all updated with my progress and planning but at the moment it’s all a bit chaotic and I need to start finally putting my ideas onto paper. What I can tell you, is that I’m juggling two completely different ideas, one of which is for a honest and fluffy contemporary novel and the other for an intricate and adventurous fantasy novel and I’m sure it’ll come down to a toss of a coin in deciding which one I’ll dedicate my time too!

Let me know if you’re considering of participating in NaNoWriMo and again if you’ve got any tips then I’d love to know! Happy writing everyone!

Birthday Book Haul

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‘I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.’

Last weekend, I turned 22 and to celebrate my family and I went up to an escape room in Birmingham which was certainly a new and enjoyable experience. Having never been to one I didn’t know what to expect, but nevertheless I felt a great amount of pressure to escape in under an hour. The room was WW2 themed and we had to solve different clues in order to determine our location and escape route. I’m pleased to say that we escaped in under an hour however I will admit that we did with only 26 seconds to spare! 

A couple of weeks ago I was on a serious reading roll, as soon as I’d finish a book I would automatically pick up another one. In this routine I was reading almost two books a week, which for me and my hectic schedule is a lot. But now I’m suffering from a major reading slump and have been reading Muse of Nightmares for a while now. So I thought the cure would be to order some new books and get myself back into the excited mentally of discovering a new favourite series/read. At this moment in time I’ve really been loving all things fantasy and if you know of any good series then please let me know! Anyway, here are the books I hope will finally relive me from this reading slump.

Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers – French assassins who serve the god of death, yes please! I love the concept of this series and I’m way too excited to dive into this world.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson – I’m embarrassed to admit that its taken me this long to finally order the rest of this series as I’m always going on about the first book which was nothing short of incredible. I think what’s stopped me was the fact that I love the first book so much and I’m hesitant in that the rest of the series won’t meet my very high expectations. Nevertheless I’m ready to dive straight back into this world and the adventure these characters share.

The Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb – Every time I searched for ‘best fantasy series to read’ this came up and that fact that its highly praised by George R.R Martin then I’m sold.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski – After seeing the teaser trailer for the adaptation starring Henry Cavil as the lead protagonist, I’m eager to jump into this series and read the books before its release.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews around this book and I think its time that I make my own decision.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – This has been floating around the book blogging community for a while now and its only right that I join the hype train and finally read it. It’s fair to say that again I’ve got high expectations but from reading the synopsis I know this is going to be a favourite.

An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir

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An Ember in the Ashes (Book 1)

An Ember in the Ashes is an original and gripping storyline that is carefully filled with a wide cast of characters and page-turning moments that will have readers unexpectedly blown away. There’s always a danger in creating a character who is overwhelmed by fear and is forced into bravery but Tahir crafts our protagonist Laia beautifully. She’s not your typical heroine instead she is a scared and lonely girl going against every instinct to save her brother and we as the reader have the pleasure of joining her on her adventure and character development. And then we have Elias, who’s dark and mysterious exterior masks his kind and honest heart, and again is another character who exhibits masterful development. Along with loveable protagonists Tahir is brilliant at creating characters that are equally villainous and cruel, brace yourselves as the Commandant will have your blood boiling! Tahir again masters the fluidity and distinctiveness of multiple perspectives, allowing the narrative to stay face paced and engaging. A perfect example of new-aged YA, that subverts the overused and cliched tropes whilst providing us with a wonderfully exhilarating read.

A Torch Against the Night (Book 2)

Picking up right where we left off, Tahir has once again crafted a wondrous story and book I found nearly impossible to put down. I thought I knew where this story was going but I kept being pleasantly surprised and shocked. Tahir’s writing leaves you hanging on to every word and has mastered the ability in crafting a well paced storyline that although may not be perfect, it is one which is certainly entertaining. Laia is more determined than ever to free her brother, a determination that fuels her own courage and fight. As much as I like Laia, Helene was my favourite perspective to read, her internal battles make her a more dimensional and layered character with a narrative that is nail-bitting and heart-breaking.

A Reaper at the Gates (Book 3)

This book was beyond intense, it was an exhilarating and wild read pocketed with moments of pure shock. I devoured this book in a couple days as Tahir made it so easy to be transported back into the world and it’s gripping storyline. I enjoyed the fact we were able to discover more of this fictional world and meet more characters I know will play an important role in the next book! Tahir’s use of prophecies is relevant throughout the series but in particularly in this book. They are all nearly thought-out and disguised by a shroud of unexpectedness, leaving gaping moments of surprise. Admittedly I found Ellis’s’s struggles a bit repetitive and I wish we had more time to explore Darin’s character but aside for that i really enjoyed joining these characters on their on their ongoing quest.

Autumn Book Tag

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Best autumnal themed book cover?

I was looking on my bookshelf and couldn’t find anything overtly autumnal but I did find a copy of Circe by Madeline Miller which gave me autumn vibes through its colour scheme and floral cover! There’s a lot of hype surrounding this book and trust me when I say its all worth it.

Which fictional friend group would you trust with a Ouija board?

Our fae friends from A Court of Thorns and Roses Series! I don’t know if I could trust them 100% but I’m sure I’d have a great and mischievous time with them.

Which book setting would you love to be celebrating in during Halloween night?

In the Night Circus as I’m sure they would transport me into a world of Halloween mystery and manage to make it a beautifully haunting experience.

Best autumnal food description inside of a story?

I found this one quite hard but then I thought of the Hogwarts Hallowe’en Feast from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. I’m basing my answer solely on the film as I haven’t read these books in years and it always looks delicious and overwhelmingly sweet.

Which fictional character would you dress as? (I assume this is for Halloween)

Growing up, I always dressed up as Hermione or Luna from Harry Potter but I think I’d love to dress as Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas as she’s always been one of my favourites and I’d love an opportunity to channel my inner kick-ass heroine.

An antagonist you would pledge your allegiance to?

The Darkling from the Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo, especially now that he’s being played by Ben Barnes in the TV adaptation! Sign me up!

The creepiest book you’ve ever read?

Last year I had to read The Shinning by Stephen King for one of my modules at university and its fair to say that I quickly got rid of my copy when I was finished with it. I had no desire to keep that book and its contents on my bookshelf!

A book you’ve yet to read but will read this October?

I’m not yet mentally or emotionally prepared to read Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff but it is at the top of my TBR pile for this month. This series has soon become one of my favourites and I’m nowhere near ready to say goodbye to these characters! If you haven’t yet picked up this series then I highly recommend you do and I can guarantee it will blow you away.

If you’ve done this tag or are planning on doing it please leave a link to your blog in the comments as I always love reading other peoples answers!

Mini Reviews – Shades of Magic Series by V.E Schwab

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A Darker Shade of Magic (Book 1)

A wonderfully captivating read that takes place in a unique and complex world crafted with the upmost perfection and thought. There is no limits or bounds to Schwabs imagination as she successfully transports us to a world of chaos and magic. Schwab creates a cast of instantly love able characters who we have the pleasure of following on an adventure that is filled with those page turning moments of anticipation and suspense. Laia Bard’s wit, strong-minded mentality and habit of getting herself into trouble makes her an ideal protagonist for story as wildly exhilarating as this. Our second protagonist Kel, is one surrounded by an air of mystery and complexity, making him a character you can’t help but care about. His is blossoming relationship with Laia is one I’m eager to continue exploring as well as the secrets they both hide. Admittedly the world building was slightly overwhelming thanks to its intricate detailing but it wasn’t long till it became second nature and a style that I now adore.

A Gathering of Shadows (Book 2)

There aren’t enough words to describe how much I adore these characters and this series, each page is crafted to the uttermost perfection and is layered with a delicate narrative and magical moments that make it impossible to put down. Schwab’s imagination is unlimited and breathtaking, there is so much depth and detail to these characters and to this world, it truly feels like you’re right there with them. I adore Lila, and seeing her discover new things about herself and develop new (and existing) relationships was one of my favourite elements, alongside all the action and trouble she tended to find herself in! The addition of the tournament was the perfect opportunity to discover and explore of more of Schwab’s wonderfully unique world and the role in which magic plays within them. Brace yourself for a fantasy adventure like no other!

A Conjuring of Light (Book 3)

A fitting and intense conclusion to an incredibly captivating series that is filled with magical moments and an equally magical and inthralling narrative. So much happens in this book and I devoured every moment with a feverish enjoyment and treasured every character interaction. Lila’s hot-headed and fierce ability to find trouble at every turn makes her a force to be reckoned with, and then we have the mysterious and brave Kell who will do anything to protect the ones he loves. Together they create the perfect duo that us readers can’t help but adore. The battle scenes we witness are well paced and thoughtful, in the sense that Schwab has the ability to transport you right into the heart of the action rather than sitting on the sidelines spectating. It breaks my heart that this series is ending and I pray that this isn’t the last we see of Lila, Kell and the rest of their team.