The Fire Sermon – Francesca Haig

I was given the honour of interviewing Francesca a few months ago but we mainly focused on her poetry which is absolutely stunning and I highly recommend you check out. Anyway, she used to be a senior lecturer at the University of Chester until she wrote her first YA dystopian novel ‘The Fire Sermon’! It was from meeting her and the fact that she used to teach at my university (I wish she still did) which encouraged me to pick up her book but that did mean I went in with high expectations!

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire and the effects of the radiation have caused every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha – physically perfect in every way and seen as superior in society – and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large and branded as the lesser human. However, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality.

I found the concept of having an Alpha and Omega with the lifeline connection really interesting and made the plot and the relationship between characters more complex. As for Cass, I loved her relationship and constant fight with her brother but I wasn’t a fan of her and didn’t really see much character development, but hopefully, there will be more in the second book. I wasn’t much of a fan of the relationship between Cass and Kip either, just because I felt it was a bit forced and wasn’t very swoon worthy, nevertheless, they helped each other in numerous ways but I think they should have just stayed friends.

I’m in love with Haig’s writing which is just beautiful and I’m glad we get to see her gift of creating obscure but realistic and unique metaphors in her prose. When reading I picked up on a McCarthy ‘The Road’ vibe and influence because this world is dark but Haig portrays it in such a wonderful way with enough information to outline a scene but still leaving a few elements for our imagination to discover and create. If I’m being picky, I felt there were a couple of times where she could have shortened the prose as sometimes it dragged on and I reckon they would have been more effective if they were shorter.

The ending. Did I see it coming, well not all of it! I had a bit of an inkling at the beginning of the book but I dismissed the idea because it didn’t seem plausible but Haig cleverly made it work and left me in awe at the end of the first book, so much so I went and picked up the second book as soon as I finished; I’m now addicted to this series and these characters. When reading other reviews, many have commented on how everything just wraps up and the fact that we are given all the answers which I agree does ruin it a bit but I can guarantee that it by no means is it a dull ending.

All in all, this series has potential and I can’t wait to jump into the second book and I’m happy to give it 4/5 stars. If you’re looking for a unique dystopian novel then this one is just for you, as it’s got a really interesting storyline and character relationships that will hopefully keep you hooked.

5 Ways to Cure a Reading Slump and Book Recommendations

If you’ve read my April 2017 Wrap Up post then you’ll know that for the majority of the year so far I have been suffering from a major reading slump and am seriously behind on my Goodreads reading challenge! I think I’m 3/4 books behind schedule, whoops! Anyway, my book slump was cured by Lesley Livingston’s ‘The Valliant’ which was a fast paced adventure that I flew through and loved. Since then I’ve spent my Easter reading my heart out as I have exams in May which means my reading time will probably be taken over by work and revision! Nevertheless, I wanted to share different ways to cure your reading slump as well as recommending some books that might get rid of that slump!

Go to a bookshop or scroll through Amazon – By doing this hopefully you’ll find a book that you’ve forgotten and really want to read or just something different that sparks your interest! If you don’t want to spend anything then going to a library is a nice alternative.

Sort our your bookshelves – You’re killing two birds with one stone with this one! I usually find it really refreshing when organising my bookshelf and in doing so you might find a book you didn’t know you had or a book on your TBR that you have been dying to read!

Try a novella – Usually, it’s the size of a book that puts me off reading so a novella is a nice alternative because they’re shorter but you still get that sense of adventure and fix of some of your favourite characters!

Re-read a favourite – You can’t go wrong in re-reading one of your favourite books as you can guarantee that you will enjoy it and personally I find by re-reading a book you discover bits you missed the first time!

Try a different genre – Whether this is going back and reading something from your favourite genre or switching it up and reading something completely different. When reading grows tiresome, a switch in theme and style can be the exact palate cleanser you need to get back in the groove.

Recommendations:

  • I find that anything fast paced will instantly cure my reading slump as it throws you straight into the action and will keep you wanting to read on. Recently I read ‘The Valliant’ by Lesley Livingston and ‘The Murder Complex’ by Lindsey Cummings both of which were really fast paced and equally exciting reads!
  • Other easy reads include ‘The Selection’ by Kiera Cass which is a royal twist on the bachelor or ‘Cinder’ by Marisa Myers which is a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella!

 

 

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

I love this book and I will go as far to admit that it’s one of my favourites of the year so far. The magic, adventure, and mystery are what makes this story difficult to put down, and just like the Caraval, it sucks you in and invites you to loose yourself in its wonderful world. Garber makes it easy to fall in love with her characters and I can guarantee that it will have you on the edge of your seat through the entire story.

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

This book loves to play with the reader as well as its characters and I felt that I was right there with Scarlett throughout the whole storyline. What shines in this book though is the action, as behind every chapter something exciting is thrown in our direction and mysteries are uncovered throwing us in a completely different direction to where we thought the story was taking us.

The developing and budding relationship between Julian and Scarlet has to be one of my favourite things about this book. Julian is rugged, bold and handsome and I think I could be in love with him! His banter with Scarlet and how he kept calling her ‘Crimson’ was just so darn cute. Sisterhood also played a massive role in this book with Scarlet risking everything she had to save her sister but I wish we got to see more of Tella as I really liked her character.

All in all, I loved this book and the mystery behind it and I need the second one asap! If you’re a fan of fantasy novels and thrilling and intellegent plots then I highly recommed you give this one a read, plus have a look at that cover isn’t it stunning and I’m sure it would look even better on your bookshelf!

 

Once Upon A Time: Musical Episode – Review

Once

*Spoiler Alert*

Oh, the feels! My heart burst at this episode and I will admit that I cried a lot because it was just so beautiful! Once Upon A Time is one of my all-time favourite TV shows and Sunday they aired their musical episode which was everything I imagined it would be and more; it was wonderful! I was worried that the musical episode wouldn’t fit in with the whole story, but writers made it fit perfectly and the balance between worlds and musical sequences again worked really well! I’m so impressed with everyone’s singing abilities, and I couldn’t pick a favourite song even if you forced me too and I enjoyed being able to see a variety of characters burst into song but it would have been nice to see Rumple sing a few notes!

The episode kicked off with your typical Dinsey bluebird singing, followed by Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas breaking in song! Both of their voices were incredible and my heart fluttered a bit when Charming strode into the room with his voice soaring! Swoon! If I’m being honest I felt Lana Parrilla’s voice suffered by following up after Goodwin and Dallas but I loved the Evil Queen spin she put on the song and dance routine which redeemed her by vamping it up.  Rebecca Mader’s “Wicked Always Wins” was a total surprise and I loved it, it was something about the lyrics and the performance that got me all excited. Colin O’Donoghue also fared well with his singing voice, and revenge song but I thought his song was too cheerful where it should have been menacing. The final number ‘Happy Beginnings’ see’s Emma and Hook unexpectedly burst into song after their wedding ceremony which was really cheesy but I didn’t care because my emotions were all over the place.

Anyway, I loved this episode and I enjoyed seeing something a bit different that worked well with the plot! I can’t wait for next week’s 2-hour finale episode because we get to see the effect of the Black Fairy’s curse but I don’t think I’m ready emotionally because this might be the end of Once Upon A Time and even if it is renewed for a Season 7 Jennifer Morrison won’t be returning and it wouldn’t be the same without her.

If you haven’t watched Once Upon A Time yet, stop what you’re doing and go and watch the first episode, I can guarantee that it will get you hooked! And if that’s not enough we wrote a list of reasons why you should watch it here! Let me know in the comments what you thought of the episode and I would love to know if there are any other ‘Oncers’ out there!

Popular Books I Haven’t Read Yet

BIHR

I’ve seen a few posts like this recently and it was nice to see that I’m not the only one who hasn’t yet read popular reads. So I thought, I’d share mine to not only to relate to others but hopefully to encourage me to read them soon! The reason I haven’t read them isn’t because I don’t like the book or other books in the series instead it’s probably because I’ve been so busy or the fact that they’re a bit daunting size wise! Anyway, let’s begin with a few of my shameful confessions….

  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas – I know, I know I’m terrible! I really don’t have a reason why I haven’t read this yet as I adore Sarah J Maas and her new series and from what I’ve seen from the fan art etc. this book looks bloody amazing! This book is definitely on the top of my TBR and will certainly be read in June when I finish Uni and can have some me time!
  2. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – Another book I plan to read when I have more free time because I am in love with its characters and storyline; Leigh Bardugo has a gift!
  3. The Last Star by Rick Yancy – I enjoyed the first book in the series but the second one was so disappointing so I think that’s why I keep putting off reading it because I don’t think it will be able to redeem itself! If you have read it let me know what you thought of it!
  4. Kings Cage by Victoria Aveyard – I kind of forgot about this series and didn’t realise that the third book had been released! Unlike others I’ve really enjoyed this series and can’t wait to finally read this one because we were left on a serious cliffhanger at the end of book two!
  5. The Crown by Keira Cass – This one is down to my bank account and how empty it is! I have enjoyed this series and found them really easy to read but the only reason I haven’t yet bought it is because I’m very poor!
  6. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – A number of people have told me that I have to read this book but I still haven’t but I think it’s just because of the size of these books and the amount of time I have.

By Your Side – Kasie West

I’ve always been a fan of Kasie West and she’s one of my go-to laid back contemporary authors who’s books I fly through and her new novel wasn’t any different. As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I was instantly drawn in, it’s a contemporary romance set in a library, that’s a book lovers dream. I was surprised then to find out that we got a lot more from this book than just a cute romance set in a library, we dealt with mental illness, child neglect, friendship, and trust.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Like most of West’s books, the storyline was filled with cute and romantic scenes as well as humour and it was refreshing to see her focus more on mental illness but in a real and genuine way as it wasn’t glossed over but instead presented in a serious and relatable way. Kasie takes things slow, giving Autumn and Dax a fair chance to find reasons why to fall in love, ones that exclude physical attraction and I enjoyed slowly uncovering their secrets and backgrounds.

If you’re a fan of Morgan Matson, Stephanie Perkins or just looking for a cute, relaxing read then this and many other of West’s books will be perfect for you. Plus like I’ve already mentioned this isn’t your typical contemporary and I appreciated the fact that it addressed lots of different elements such as mental health in a proper and realistic way.

April 2017 Wrap Up

This is the first monthly wrap-up post that I’ve ever written, and have been wanting to write one for ages but my reading list hasn’t been very long to justify one! I kept seeing them around on everyone else’s blogs so I thought I would finally jump on the bandwagon and plus I’ve read a few really good books this month that I really want to brag about and recommend! For the majority of the year so far, I’ve been suffering from a major reading slump and have struggled to balance Uni work and reading. I managed to cure this book slump with ‘The Valiant’ by Lesley Livingston which was a fast paced adventure that got me back into reading, however, I have exams at the end of May which might mean that my reading progress might falter a bit again. Anyway, I managed to read 5 books this April which I am really pleased with because of my previous reading slump and I hope that I will be able to keep this progress up! All books listed have reviews which I will like below.

By Your Side by Kasie West – I’ve always been a fan of Kasie West and she’s one of my go-to laid back contemporary authors who’s books I fly through and her new novel wasn’t any different. I was surprised then to find out that we got a lot more from this book than just a cute romance set in a library, we dealt with mental illness, child neglect, friendship, and trust. Review to come…

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – I love this book and I will go as far to admit that it’s one of my favourites of the year so far. The magic, adventure, and mystery are what makes this story difficult to put down, and just like the Caraval, it sucks you in and invites you to loose yourself in its wonderful world. Garber makes it easy to fall in love with her characters and I can guarantee that it will have you on the edge of your seat through the entire story. Review to come…

The Murder Complex by Lindsey CummingsI came across Lindsey through Booktube and particularly through Sasha Alsbergs channel and the fact that they both wrote Zenith together. After reading the synopsis I was instantly drawn in and excited to pick it up and I’m glad I did as it was a chilling, action-packed adventure but pre-warning the story is full of blood and killing which I was expecting but not to this extent!

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston This book cured my serious reading slump as I hadn’t read a book for personal enjoyment for a couple of months, which I know is really bad!  Its fast pace and short chapters made it really easy to read but addictive so much so that I sometimes struggled to put it down. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which is set in Ancient Rome and I loved all the mythology that was intertwined in the storyline and I just found it really refreshing and interesting.

The Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee – A book I had to read for University and is one of my lectures favourite books so I went into this book with high expectations. Sadly it wasn’t my cup of tea, there was no doubt that its a brilliant book with an even better ending but it’s not something I would look to read again!