The Greek Mythology Book Tag

Having just finished another Rick Riordan book, it felt like this particular tag was calling my name when I stumbled across it the other week. However, from what I can see there are two variations of it. For the most part, they’re the same except for a couple of prompts in the middle and at the end so with those, I kind of just picked whichever of the two options I felt like doing. I’m a bit unsure where the tag originated from but if you know, pass the info on. Okay, let’s meet the Gods, shall we?


Zeus, The King Sky God

Favourite Book

Why do you guys insist on making me choose between my beautiful babies? It’s NOT possible! There are so many amazing books out there that limiting myself to one seems unfair. So, unfortunately, I’ll have to pass on this one.


Poseidon, God of the Ocean

A Book that Drowned you in Feels

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

This is a book of so many mixed emotions. There are some really sweet moments between the characters (they’re all really loveable) but there’s also a few heartbreaking ones with regards to recollections from the war and finding out what happened to certain people.


Hades, God of the Underworld

A Book with a Dark/Ominous Plot

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Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

If there’s one thing you can say about Gillian Flynn’s books, it’s that they’re a tad dark. She really digs into the not so pleasant parts of people and uses them to create twisted stories. No one is perfect and everyone has ulterior motives. Even the ending of this one is pretty bleak.


Hera, The Queen Goddess of Family and Marriage

Cutest Fictional Couple

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Percy Jackson & Annabeth Chase (Rick Riordan books)

There are a lot of fictional couples that I adore but not all of them are what I’d describe as “cute”. I haven’t read much of them as a couple yet, but so far Percy and Annabeth are definitely cute. I like the fact that they were friends first and that they complement each other so well – Annabeth is practical and thinks about things first while Percy tends to dive into things head on.


Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Battle Strategy

Favourite Intelligent Character

Hermione

Hermione Granger (Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling)

I really should try to vary my answers a bit for these tags but eh, Hermione’s my girl. It’s not hard to see why she’s called the brightest witch of her age. Good thing too, she needs to be to make up for all the stupid stuff Harry and Ron tend to do. I mean, she was petrified in book two and still managed to give them the necessary information to help them solve the mystery.


Gaea, The Great Mother

Series with the Best World Building

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The Lord of the Rings – J RR Tolkien & A Song of Ice and Fire – George RR Martin

This one’s a tie for me. I don’t think anyone can deny the world-building skills of these two authors. I’m not a huge fan of Tolkien’s writing style but the man created maps, languages, history, music, races, everything you need for a rich fantasy world. Martin’s worlds are also fantastically rich, which is probably why his novels are enormous and take so long to write.


Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty

A Beautiful Cover

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The Last Namsara -Kristen Ciccarelli

I get asked this question in a lot of book tags and in an attempt to try and not reuse the same answers over and over again *cough* Strange the Dreamer *cough*, I’m going with this one. While I found the book itself to be a bit of an average read, I think the cover is lovely. It’s just so sparkly.


Aries, God of War and Battle

Most Violent Book you’ve Read

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Godsgrave (Nevernight 2#) – Jay Kristoff

I almost went with The Hunger Games on this one before I realised that much of the violence actually happens off-screen. Instead, I’ve gone with Godsgrave. Nevernight is pretty violent as well (not that I have a problem with it) but Godsgrave has assassins AND gladiators. There’s bloody chariot races, giant worms burning people with acid stomachs, and lots of stabby, stabby.


Hephaestus, God of Blacksmiths and Flame

A Scorching Hot, Swoon-worthy Character

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Jamie Fraser (Outlander series – Diana Gabaldon)

As if there was any question about how I’d answer this one. I ♥ Jamie. While he certainly has some not so good moments, he always tries to learn from them. He’s kind, brave, and treats Claire as a partner. Oh, and he’s hot. Can’t forget that part.


Artemis, The Virgin Goddess of the Hunt

A Heroine who Doesn’t Need a Man to Save her

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Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy Series – Richelle Mead)

Rose is one of my favourite heroines and she has been since I was in high school. She’s one of those rare MCs that you actually could say is your favourite character. Rose is spunky, passionate and she kicks so much ass.


Apollo, God of Music, Light, and Healing

A Sequel that Redeemed its Series

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Golden Son (Red Rising 2#) – Pierce Brown

Redeemed isn’t really the word in this instance (the only one that would work for me is  A Court of Mist and Fury by SJM and I don’t want to use it for the umpteenth time) but I scored Golden Son higher than the original book, Red Rising, which is very, very rare for me. It’s a fantastic sequel in a fabulous series. Highly recommend.


Hermes, God of Messages, Travelers, and Thieves

Book with the Best Message

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Queens of Geek – Jen Wilde

There are quite a few books out there that have really nice messages so for this tag I’ve decided to go with Queens of Geek. This novel is massively diverse and inclusive, but even better, it promotes kindness, equality, women supporting other women, self-love, and putting yourself out there even though it might be scary to do so. While there may not be much of a plot and the writing is a little simplistic at times,  it’s definitely a feel-good book.


Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Home

A Book you go to for Comfort

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Alanna: the first Adventure (Song of the Lioness 1#) – Tamora Pierce

To avoid using Harry Potter AGAIN, which really is my go-to comfort series, I’m going with Alanna: the First Adventure (which yes, I know I’ve mentioned a few times in the past but too bad). It’s the first book in one of my favourite series from childhood. I can always read these books and be taken straight back to primary school, which for some reason is very reassuring. They’re quick, easy reads and Tamora Pierce is a great fantasy writer.  I really should read her newest book, Tempests & Slaughter when I get a chance.


Demeter, Goddess of Agriculture and Fertility

Favourite Bookish setting

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Hogwarts (Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling)

Hogwarts. You could ask me this question a million times and I’ll always give you the same answer. I want to go to Hogwarts – hang out in a common room, attend a feast in the great hall, meet the house elves in the kitchens, watch a Quidditch match, take a trip to Hogsmeade, walk the grounds with Hagrid, chat with ghosts, play a game of exploding snap, try out the room of requirement, I WANT TO DO IT ALL.


Dionysus, God of Wine and Feasting

Most anticipated 2018 Release

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What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

I’ve mentioned my excitement for Wildcard by Marie Lu & Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor before so for something different, here’s a YA Contemporary due out in October. What If it’s Us just sounds super cute and I think the characters will be really great. I’ve liked both the Becky Albertalli books I’ve read so far and I’ve only heard good things about Adam Silvera. Here’s hoping this one’s a winner.


Hecate, Goddess of Crossroads and Magic

Favourite Magical read

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A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic 2#) – V. E. Schwab

Now, this was another difficult one because I read so many fantasy books that involve magic. I have a lot of favourites but A Gathering of Shadows is definitely high on the list. The book actually involves a magic competition which was immensely enjoyable for me – how could it not be with three of the major characters as competitors?


Nemesis, God of Revenge

Favourite Revenge Story

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Vicious – V. E. Schwab

Nevernight is probably my favourite revenge story but since I’ve already used Godsgrave above, Vicious is my pick for this one (yep, another Schwab book. I’m in love, no point denying it). There are a lot of morally questionable characters in this story, which is great. This especially applies to Victor, our male lead, who will do whatever he has to do to get back at Eli, even if it means hurting others. It’s different, a little bit dark, and there are x-men-like powers. A great read.


I Tag

You all know the drill, only if you (a) feel like doing it and (b) haven’t already. Don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you don’t! If you do, I’m looking forward to seeing your answers!

Lu @ It’s Lu Again

Dezzy @ The Thoughtful Voice (for after your mini-hiatus)

Priyasha @ Books and Co.

Kelly @ Another Book in the Wall

Rendz @ Reading with Rendz

If I haven’t tagged you and you’d like to do it, go for it!

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There were some really tough ones in here, you’d be surprised how long it took me to complete this tag. Then again, I probably make it harder by trying not to use things I’ve answered with recently (however, in some cases I fail, epically).

How would you have answered some of these questions? Do you have a favourite book or are you like me and simply refuse to choose? 

Love Ashley

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August TBR: NEWTs Magical Readathon

July is done, my OWLs readathon is complete, and I’m ready to move on to a newer, bigger challenge – the NEWTs readathon. Like last month’s readathon, this, too, is a Harry Potter themed readathon and hosted by G @ Book Roast. It’s based around a set of wizarding exams taken by Hogwarts students during their schooling. While the OWLs are taken in fifth year, NEWTs are completed in seventh, and just like this readathon, they’re supposed to be tough.

RULES

  1. To win the readathon you must pass two NEWTs and achieve an Outstanding grade in at least one of them
  2. Subjects work in tiers and each level must be unlocked in turn to reach an Oustanding grade – the passing grades are: Acceptable, Exceeds Expectations, and Outstanding.
  3. You may only attempt NEWT subjects previously completed during the OWLs readathon (unless you’re doing NEWTs without having done OWLS – then you just pick & choose).

I “passed” 9 OWLs in July so I had a lot of choice in selecting NEWT subjects. I’ve ended up setting TBRs for 5 of them – Arithmancy, Charms, Transfiguration, Ancient Runes, and Defence Against the Dark Arts. There are three books for each subject, meaning 15 in total. Don’t worry, this is massively ambitious for me. There’s no way I’ll get even close to finishing but what can I say? I love having choice. So here is my exciting (for me at least) looking TBR for the month ahead:

NEWTs TBR 2

I’d actually planned on reading Circe during OWLs but after realising I wasn’t that keen on the NEWTs challenges for the subject I allocated it to, I decided to push it back to August. I’d say it fits the ‘charming cover’ requirement very well. I’m determined to read it this time!

I expect to get through Arithmancy very quickly as I’ve picked three YA books that all happen to be fairly short in length. Great for powering through a readathon.

Enough blabbering, wish me luck!

What are you planning on knocking off your TBR pile this month? Anyone else planning on undertaking a readathon?

Love Ashley

 

 

And That’s a Wrap: July Edition (+ OWLs Readathon Results)

As usual, another month has now come and gone, and once again it’s time for me to blab about the books I read and the (massive) damage I did to my bank account.

Books I ReadYou guys may or may not be aware that I was undertaking the OWLs magical (Harry Potter themed) readathon in July created by G @Bookroast. You can find my original post here if you missed it. The results are in and I’m happy to say I completed 9 of the subject requirements for the readathon:

  1. Ancient Runes
  2. Arithmancy
  3. Astronomy
  4. Charms
  5. Divination
  6. Defence Against the Dark Arts
  7. Care of Magical Creatures
  8. Muggle Studies
  9. Transfiguration

This means I have achieved an ‘Outstanding’ grade for my readathon. Yay! In August I’m moving on to the much more challenging NEWTs readathon which I’ll be posting my TBR for very soon. As for the books, I read in July, here they are, all 10 + the 1 comic:

July Reads Update

To Kill a Kingdom – Alexandra Christo  ★★★★

I waited quite a while to get my hands on this one and it largely lived up to expectations. I rarely read fantasy stand-alones so it was a nice change. The story’s a little dark (enjoyably so) and I loved the fact that the lead characters were morally ambiguous. The world itself was actually really compelling and I’d love to see more of it in other books. Unfortunately, the villain was a little cartoonish for me and a lot of the background characters felt underdeveloped.

The Wicker King – K. Ancrum ★★★.5 | Review

Now this was a change of pace from my usual reads. The visual aspect was fantastic and I loved the fact that Ancrum tackled some really serious issues such as discovering your sexuality, mental health, and abandonment. However, I wasn’t a massive fan of the writing style, with the short chapters often feeling choppy and disrupting my connection with the characters. I was also a little disappointed with how the overarching complication was resolved. Still, Ancrum’s love for her characters, and their relationship with each other, really shone through.

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodie Ashton & Jodi Meadows ★★★.5

This book was a bit of fun. The narration is great, the situations are outlandish, and there are heaps of fabulous references to pop culture. I liked each of the characters and it was interesting to see just how completely the story would deviate from history. The downside is that the book felt padded at points and went on for a little too long. I zoned out on a few occasions and was slightly impatient for it to finish by the end. Otherwise a light, entertaining read.

One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus ★★★★ | Review

I’ve had the urge to read some YA thriller type pieces lately so I thought this one might fit the bill. The mystery side of things is a bit unrealistic and doesn’t exactly end surprisingly but I enjoyed the book overall. The characters are likeable and the development of their relationships with each other was nice to see. The author also tried to incorporate a few important themes like bullying, slut shaming, and abuse which are handled quite well, even though there’s not much room for great depth.

The Princess Diarist – Carrie Fisher ★★★

The second of my attempts to get into biographical reads this year. My family and I really love Star Wars so I was interested to read about some of Carrie’s experiences on the set of the original movie. The book is mostly about her affair with Harrison Ford and I felt a little sad for her through a lot of it. Overall I enjoyed the book but I could have done without the actual diary excerpts in the middle which were very poetry focused.

The Princess Bride – William Goldman ★★★★

I’ve seen the adaptation of The Princess Bride a few times now and it’s still just as fun and quotable as ever so I decided to try the original book. Essentially, if you like the film, you’ll enjoy the novel. There are a few things that are expanded on, like character back stories and longer scene sequences, but it’s still pretty much the same with added amusing narrations from Mr Goldman. A great read. Inconceivable, right?

Grace & Fury – Tracy Banghart ★★★★.5 | Review

My unexpected read for July! I requested an ARC, it was granted, and for once I got stuck into it straight away. This was one of my favourite reads of the month and I flew through it in under 2 days. The use of two POVs and concurrent storylines worked very well and gave the book plot diversity. The twist is a bit predictable and one storyline could definitely have been a lot stronger, but the characters are well done and the book as a whole is just so damn empowering for women!

Saga Vol. 1 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples ★★★★. 5

I don’t usually read comics or graphic novels but I decided to give this one a go because I’d heard so many great things & the art looked striking. I ended up having a blast. Some of it’s sort of…weird (people with TV heads?) but in an interesting way. The story was entertaining and the back and forth between Marko & Alana made me laugh aloud several times. I’ll definitely be picking up Vol 2.

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus 1#) – Rick Riordan ★★★★

This was another book I was really looking forward to. I love how Riordan managed to retain the feel of PJO but still make it new and exciting. The incorporation of the Roman mythology was a great way to expand the existing world. I also really liked the new main characters – Piper was my favourite – and the fact that they gave us a bit more exposure to different god parents and cool  powers. There was a little bit of drag at certain points and I’m still confused about a couple of things, but with that ending I’m so keen for Son of Neptune.

The Last Wish (The Witcher 1#) – Andrzej Sapkowski ★★★.5

I love The Witcher video games and I’ve wanted to try reading the books for ages. This first installment is mostly a set of short stories. I’m not a huge short story person but I didn’t mind these. Geralt’s adventures were fairly entertaining and it was interesting to see events I’d previously heard about actually explained, as well as to learn how he met his love interest, Yennefer. I will admit, if I didn’t already know about the world, it’d likely be a bit confusing and I wasn’t a fan of how the author handled women in parts of the book.

S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett ★★.5

This was a late addition to my readathon list – I needed a book involving a secret society. Thanks for the recommendation Roxanne Michelle! I really loved the idea of this book but the execution left something to be desired. It sounds weird, but I wish it had been even darker. The climax was up there, but for most of the story, I couldn’t help feeling like it was very surface. The characters were either merely fine or underdeveloped, and I found the MC, Greer’s, constant movie references getting on my nerves after a while.

Books I Bought

So. The word ‘overboard’ may apply to my book purchases for this month. My bank account and bookcase are silently screaming in pain. Normally I try to keep my book buying at a comparable level to my reading so I can at least FEEL like I’ll one day get my TBR down to a manageable level.

That didn’t happen this month. Prepare yourself.

I bought 14 books this month. FOURTEEN. I also requested, and got approved for, one Netgalley ARC (Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart). Like what the actual hell, Ashley. Are you stupid? Do you not recognise the fact that you only have so many hours in a day. So many days in a week? I should be able to start using my TBR as ceiling support soon.  *shakes head*.

Here they all are in their fabulous looking glory:

Purchased July

There are a couple of books here such as Fangirl and The Hate U Give which I’ve been putting off getting for a while before finally cracking this month (20% of YA titles at one of my bookstores for the entirety of July was probably to blame). I’m so excited to read these. No idea when I’ll find the time but I have enthusiasm in spades! That’s something right?

blog posts

Book Reviews

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

The Wicker King – K. Ancrum

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

Grace & Fury – Tracy Banghart

Look how many book reviews I wrote! I’m so proud of myself *dances*.

Book Tags

The Ultimate Harry Potter Tag

Top 10 Tuesday

Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 (So Far)

Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype

Let’s Talk

Things Book Characters do that Make No Sense

This is sad. Must write more discussion posts (she says to herself every month).

Miscellaneous

WWW Wednesday | 4.07.18

WWW Wednesday| 25.07.18

 

Personal Life

Let’s Go to the Theatre

This month I finally got to see The Book of Mormon. Some of the jokes were super cringe worthy and dark, but I had a great time overall. It’s funny, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the performances were really good too. I understand why they’ve had it running in Sydney for so long now.

Also on the theatre front, my friend and I managed to get tickets to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when it comes to Melbourne next year. The buying process was a ridiculous mess and it’s going to be so damn expensive but I am nothing if not a huge Harry Potter fan (Still, this show better be the best thing I’ve ever seen, I’m telling you).

TV

I wish I could say I’ve been spending my time watching fantastically acted dramas or intellectual documentaries. What have I been watching instead?

Project Runway. Yep.

And not even new episodes. We’re talking 2011 Project Runway. SEVEN YEARS OLD. The fashion they’re making isn’t even on point anymore. I should get a medal in pointless time wasting, because gosh I’m good.

Followers

In figure news, I hit 500 instagram followers and 200 wordpress followers this month, which is so exciting. Thank you so much guys! It’s nice to know people are reading/seeing this stuff I throw out into the internet void. I promise to watch less Project Runway next month so I can comment on more of your posts.

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And that’s about everything from me for this month’s wrap up. I hope you’ve all had a fabulous July.

What was your favourite read and for something different, which post are you most proud of for the month? I’d love to check them out.

Love Ashley

Survival, Sisterhood, and Female Empowerment: Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart

4.5 stars

Grace & Fury

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I am woman, hear me roar.

If there’s one thing I never grow tired of reading about, it’s women supporting one another and finding their inner strength, even when all the odds are stacked against them.  As Banghart’s author’s note says, this is:

For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet…and who has stood up anyway.

Who, What, Where?

Grace & Fury is set in the kingdom of Viridia – think Gilead from Handmaid’s Tale without the fertility issues and religious nut jobs.

Women were forbidden to read. Women were forbidden to choose their husbands, their jobs, their futures. Forbidden to dive for pearls or sell goods at market to help their families. Forbidden to cut their hair unless a man told them to. Forbidden to think for themselves. Forbidden to choose.

At the country’s head is The Superior. Every three years he selects three women to join his household as Graces (basically, glorified concubines). It’s the highest honour to be selected and although it’s a life of subjugation, it’s also one of luxury.

The novel alternates third person POV between two protagonists: Serina & Nomi. Serina, beautiful and soft-spoken, has spent her life training to be a Grace, while her sister, Nomi, smart and strong-willed, desires more from life than simply being Serina’s handmaiden. When it’s announced that the Superior’s heir, Malachi, is to make his first ever Grace selections, the girls travel to the palace. However, plans are turned on their head when instead of Serina, the Heir selects Nomi.

Things go from bad to worse when Serina is caught in a compromising position and sent to Mount Ruin, an island prison designed to house the worst of Virdia’s female offenders. Here, women are pitted against each other in violent matches to the death for sport and rations, and every day is a struggle to survive.

In the palace, Nomi is forced to adjust to her new life as a Grace, knowing that one wrong step could prove fatal. She soon comes to realise that her position may, in fact, present the perfect opportunity to create permanent change in Virdia, and the Superior’s second son, Asa, could prove her ticket to freedom.

Why you Might want to Skip it (But Please don’t!)

Normally I start off with the positives, but let’s change things up, shall we?

Pacing

While Serina’s story jumps into gear quickly and remains engaging right to the end, Nomi’s takes until at least halfway to find it’s purpose. Following Serina’s departure, Nomi spends a frustrating period of time trying to find out what happened to her. It makes sense for the character but it offers zero interest to the reader. The search eventually leads her to Asa and kicks off her main storyline but I would love to have seen more of an investigative and active element on Nomi’s part and earlier on, too.

Will the real Nomi please stand up?

I have to say, I feel a bit disappointed in Nomi. At the beginning of the story, she’s rebellious, questioning, and sassy. During her first conversation with Malachi, I was like, YES, you go girl. And then poof!  Where did you go spunky Nomi? WHERE? I get that you’re sad Serina’s gone and terrified The Superior is going to murder you but what happened to your spirit? The promised Nomi does emerge later on but I wish she’d been a stronger character throughout.

Why You Should Read this Book

Balance

One of the things I loved about Grace & Fury was the contrast and balance between Serina and Nomi’s stories. Setting wise, with Serina, Banghart gives us a very harsh environment in which women have to be both physically and mentally tough to make it through. Then we have Nomi, living in the most glamorous place in the country, but which, to her, feels just as much like a cage.

Serina’s path is very much action-oriented and involves a lot of big, bold moves to get her to where she needs to be at the end. Comparatively, Nomi’s relies on secrecy, a bit of cloak and dagger, and thinking her way around problems.

The ending of these storylines is also in stark opposition – one a triumph, the other a complete disaster. These differences are great in that they give the novel fantastic variety in terms of plot and tone which keeps the book engaging and in motion.

Likeable MCs & Bonds of Sisterhood

Grace & Fury’s success stems largely from its well written and distinct leads. Both Nomi and Serina are very likeable and you have no difficulty rooting for them. Serina, in particular, starts the novel off quite soft and submissive, but over time, we watch her transform into a strong, brave, and resourceful, young woman who’d rather die than compromise her own humanity.

Both girls are also very different from one another. The wonderful thing is that despite this, and a situation that should make them resent one another (as a sister, trust me, I know), they remain loyal. Each desperately wants to break free of their situation, not just for themselves, but because they believe they need to rescue the other. It’s a quality that only makes you love them more.

The absence of her sister was a hole in her chest, growing larger and larger the longer they spent apart. She had to save Serina. If she didn’t, there’d be nothing of her left.

Twist

If you’ve read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, you’ll be able to predict this twist from a mile away. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, no way! But don’t get me wrong, even though I saw it coming, I loved the direction. Once I realized this was where the story headed, I was really excited, even impatient, to see it play out and it completely changed how I viewed interactions between certain characters. It ended up being interesting and dramatic, provided more character depth, gave Nomi a chance to shine, and left us in an exciting place for the sequel.

Female Empowerment

“We are not flowers,” she said firmly. “Like you said, Oracle, we are concrete and barbed wire. We are iron.”

This is a book that showcases the power of women in so many ways. Seriously, Grace & Fury will make you want to take on the world and more importantly, believe you can win. This is a novel about women surviving and even triumphing under adversity. It’s about refusing to just accept your situation. It’s about striving for more and overcoming fear. And most of all, it’s about women supporting other women.

My Mother raised me never to trust other women because we would always be in competition. But it’s not true. Look at how we take care of each other here…We heal each other…We share food…We die for each other…We need to stop killing each other and fight them.

 

 “In all the stories, women give up everything,” Maris said, her voice tight. “We are always supposed to give. We are never supposed to fight. Why do you think that is?”…

“Because they’re afraid of what will happen if we do.”

I wish I could say more but that would be spoiling it. What I will say is, read this book. You won’t regret it.

4.5 Stars

Love Ashley

Murder, Lies, & High School Drama: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

4 stars

OOuiL

Add one part The Breakfast Club, another part Riverdale, a touch of Gossip Girl, and a sprinkle of Pretty Little Liars. Mix well.

The finished product: One of Us is Lying.

Actually, if I’m being completely honest, what this book really reminds me of, bear with my geekiness here, is an old PC game I used to play as a kid based on Nancy Drew. We’re talking 1998 old. It was called Secrets Can Kill and involved a student who had been blackmailing a bunch of people for things like steroid use and cheating on an exam, before eventually being murdered. If you’ve played this, OoUiL seems far less dramatic in comparison but both are fun in their own way.

Who, What, Where?

Five students enter detention. Less than an hour later, one of them is dead. Our suspects:

  • Addy, the popular girl who can’t seem to do anything without her boyfriend.
  • Cooper, the rising, young baseball star with a wicked fastball.
  • Nate, the school drug dealer, currently on probation and the easy scapegoat.
  • Bronwyn, top of her class and destined for Yale.

All have secrets, but which of them murdered Simon, Bayview High’s resident blogger and gossip king, to stop them getting out?

Why You Should Read This Book

Likeable but Not Loveable

The Bayview 4, as they’re labelled in the aftermath of Simon’s death, are all likeable characters. Are they amazingly memorable? Probably not, but they’re still very enjoyable to read about, especially as each takes ownership of their secrets and begins to reorganise their lives in really positive ways. Addy, in particular, is a great example of this. She begins the story as a human doormat and by the end has cut the toxic people from her life, started focusing on herself, and stopped worrying about what others think of her. You go, girl.

Human Connection

What was also really nice to see was the friendships that developed between the central 4 and the support each provided for the others during a pretty crappy time. Here are four completely different people, in different social circles and yet, even under circumstances that encourage them to turn on each other, they come together (there’s an especially great, and surprising, scene involving Nate standing up for Cooper after the release of some private information). It’s because of this trust and connection that they’re ultimately able to “solve the case” – perhaps Mystery Inc. is in need of some new members?

Romance

I’ll keep this quick – there’s a romantic relationship between two members of the Bayview 4 and it’s actually quite a nice addition to the story. It doesn’t take over the plot, it’s doesn’t become annoying, and the characters have a great dynamic with one another because of their differences in background and personality.

Representation & Tough Topics

I know, I know, we really need to stop commending books just because they happen to include even a little diversity or tackle a few bigger issues but I’m going to do it anyway. McManus’s characters are inclusive of Latinos, LGBTQ individuals, and people from low socio-economic backgrounds and broken homes. The book deals with elements of mental health, abusive relationships, bullying, and slut-shaming. While none is gone into in great depth, they’re all handled reasonably well and I really like how each served to enrich the story.

Why You Might Want to Skip It

Who Are you?

One of the most noticeable things as I was reading was the difficulty I experienced on many occasions of remembering who’s POV I was reading at any given time. Sure, the personal details were different but without one coming up for a while, things started to get a little…ambiguous. It was particularly problematic during scenes in which members of the Bayview four were together. I’d start a conversation believing I was Bronwyn only to find out it was Addy, or even Cooper. I’ll admit, this may be partly an attention issue on my end but I still believe the tone of voice could have been more distinct.

Well this Makes Zero Sense

There are a lot of things that really don’t add up in this book and it’s frustrating. Even worse, the characters point out these flaws as if to say, yes I recognise the fact this should have happened but oh well!

By far, the most annoying thing is how the police handle the murder investigation. Their efforts are focused almost entirely on the four main characters to the point that nobody else is even considered a suspect. This is ridiculous considering the fact that the victim is a guy who pissed off almost everyone at school and has how many squillions of enemies.

To make it worse, it feels like the police haven’t even bothered to do extensive research on their victim. Bronwyn’s sister, a high schooler, does a better job in two days than the police do in weeks. Worse still, key pieces of evidence aren’t followed up on correctly or just outright ignored, e.g. the mobile phones used to suspiciously get everyone into detention at the exact right time, or the accident that occurred just at the right time outside the classroom window.

It’s not realistic, it’s frustrating as hell, and it feels like these things are overlooked just so the core characters get to act like super sleuths and solve the crime in the end.

A Predictable and Flat End

As Sherlock Holmes says, once you rule out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth. OoUiL provides us with only a few fleshed out suspects and once we rule out the main ones, which you’ll do quickly, the truth of the matter, or something close to it, will be pretty clear early on. Personally, I wish the ending had been more shocking, but aside from perhaps one person’s involvement (which seemed quite extreme, almost soapie) it at least made sense in the context of the story.


Despite the problems and sense of realism, One of Us is Lying was an enjoyable read with some solid characters and a decent enough plot to keep me engaged until the end. Well done to McManus for a great debut novel.

4 Stars 

Love Ashley

WWW Wednesday| 25.07.18

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words designed to keep people updated on how you’re going with your reading by answering three questions: what did you just finish, what are you currently reading, and what are you planning on reading next? Ready, set, go!


RF

Image result for grace and furyGrace & Fury – Tracey Banghart

I’d only heard about this book fairly recently when I decided to apply for an ARC through Netgalley. To my surprise, I was approved. And even more surprising, I decided not to play hard to get for the next 6 months, I just sat down and read it. I ended up finishing in about 2 days and loved it!

The two main characters, Nomi & Serina, were such strong and well-written leads. The story itself was engaging and had great range with the two concurrent plotlines. But the best part was that it was just so damn empowering as a female reader! It’s a bit The Handmaid’s Tale, a little Red Queen, and a lot of awesome. I felt like I could tackle anything after finishing this. Definitely would recommend!

Goodreads


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7736182The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus 1#) – Rick Riordan

I told you guys I was keen to start THoO after finishing Percy last month and now, here I am! At this point, I’m less than 200 pages from the end and I’m having a great time. I really like the new characters, Jason, Piper, and Leo, and I think the introduction of the Roman mythology elements is great, even though I’m still a little bit muddled on how they interact with the Greek history. I’m kind of an impatient person so I’m really looking forward to getting a whole bunch of questions answered and mysteries solved, especially about the antagonist and bits of the prophecy (I expect I have a while to go on the second front). I should be finished in the next day or so, bringing my readathon total up to 6.

Goodreads


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2892159The Last Wish (The Witcher 1#) – Andrzej Sapkowski

Picking my next read was very difficult because 1) I’ll only have 5 days to read it before my August readathon begins and 2) It can’t be any of the books I’ve selected to read during said readathon. I’ve ended up settling on The Last Wish. I LOVE the Witcher video game series. You have no idea how many hours I’ve lost to those games. I’ve had this book sitting in my bookcase for a few months now and I’m looking forward to learning more about the history of the characters and the world. It’s translated from Polish, so that’ll be something new and different too. Bring on the monsters, sorceresses, dwarves and sword-wielding mutants.

Goodreads


How’s your current read going and what are you looking forward to reading next?

Love Ashley

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic, courtesy of host Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl, is ‘books with sensory reading memories’. I struggled to come up with selections for that topic so I’ve decided to bump up the top for next week to this week instead, which is popular books that lived up to the hype.

We all know how hit and miss the hype train can be so it’s always nice when you find books that actually manage to live up to expectations. The results are different for everyone so here are 10 books that I found myself agreeing with the positive (and very loud) book community consensus on.


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Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles 1#) – Marissa Meyer

I’ve mentioned this one as a welcome surprise a few times since I read it last year, so I won’t bore you with the same info over again. I expected mediocre and cheesy but ended up having a lot of fun.


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The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

This book deserves its hyped reputation and awards. It’s fantastically crafted with great attention to detail, lots of emotion, and wonderfully written characters. A romance for the ages with enough war, gods, and political squabbles to interest anyone.


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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe 1#) – Neal Shusterman

One of my favourite reads of 2018 so far. The world is so well constructed and very unique. Although the plot is slower than some people might like, it’s definitely entertaining and there’s a lot of big moral questions.

Review


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Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

One word: Love.

Review


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Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Absolutely beautifully written. The world and characters are compelling, the prose is gorgeous, and it ends on a major screw you cliffhanger.

Review


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A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses 2#) – Sarah J Maas

You guys don’t need to hear me sing this one’s praises. It’s been done. The first book was massively mediocre and almost stopped me reading the rest of the series. The hype got me to try this one and thank goodness, because I loved it. It’s great.

Review


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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 1#) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

I picked this one off the children’s wall at the bookstore after seeing fabulous things about it (admittedly, this was still pretty early on, even before Gemina) but I was very nervous about the variations in style. I shouldn’t have been. The book is action-packed, with great characters, some big twists, and just generally so much fun to read.


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The Princess Bride – William Golding

The movie adaptation of this book is one I’ve watched several times. I always laugh and it’s just so endlessly quotable. The book is no different. It’s spoofy, humorous fun and I’m sorry it took me so long to finally read it.


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Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

It’s a classic crime book for a reason. Christie really knows her stuff. This and And Then There Were None are regarded as two of her best novels and they live up to their reputations. I definitely recommend reading this one if you like period crime books and if you don’t already know how it ends.


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Red Rising (Red Rising 1#) – Pierce Brown

I was ready to write this one off as a victim of the hype train but once I got past the first 100 or so pages, I was hooked. The book and rest of the series are a rollercoaster of action, backstabbing, plot twists, and emotional upheaval.

Review

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Which hyped books lived up to your expectations? Help me navigate the minefield!

Love Ashley