The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Published: February 8th 2018 by Gollancz

I am a Belle. I control Beauty.

In the opulent world of Orléans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful.

Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.

When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.

This book was one of my highly anticipated reads for 2018. I was completely drawn in by the beautiful cover and the blurb had me intrigued – as well as all the amazing reviews this was getting! I absolutely loved this book! It was magical in so many ways, whilst highlighting so many social issues.

The world building in this book was phenomenal! It was magical, lush and vivid and I was never left struggling trying to picture anything! I could easily envision the treatments, the rooms, the city itself, the characters and it was a world that was easy to get lost in.

I liked the representation of beauty in this book – both the good and the bad sides. I liked the fact that Clayton represented the idea that beauty is ever changing and that the trends are set by a select few in our community and that everyone is always clamouring to have the last thing. I also liked the fact that Clayton didn’t shy away from the ugly side of beauty – the unhealthy body images that are constantly being presented and the fact that people are willing to change their bodies to extremely unhealthy lengths, just to be trendy, was very reflective of today’s society. Camellia tried to advocate for a natural and healthy body type, but was constantly being shut down, which, again, is constantly taking place in society. Beauty was painful and expensive to uphold and it really reflects everything about the beauty industry in today’s society.

Aside from beauty, Clayton also represented other societal issues – Media influence, sexual harassment/assault, rape culture, Politics and power in politics etc. Clayton managed to weave in various issues and represent them in a way that mattered and didn’t feel flimsy. I also like the fact that Clayton had LGBTQ representation throughout in various places.

I largely enjoyed the plot, but I’m still not sure where this series is heading? Books usually have an end game/a goal that the characters are trying to reach by the end of the book/series and it’s their journey to get there and the challenges that thy face throughout. I can’t say I really know where this series is going and what the characters are ultimately setting out to do because it was never made clear. So,while the plot itself was good and had good twists etc. it seems a little lost in where it’s going.

I would have also liked to have seen a little more development in certain plot points – specifically things like the crying in the teahouses. It is mentioned throughout the book and we are reminded at various points throughout, but I feel that the answer to what it was and what was really going on should have been more fleshed out. The author could have made more out of the mystery.

I liked Camellia as a character. She had no issues questioning things that she knew wasn’t right and she ultimately stayed true to herself throughout, despite what was being thrown at her. I liked the fact that she tried to do the right thing and made things right that she knew she had done wrong. I also loved her interaction with Auguste! They were hilarious and sassy and really helped to lift the mood when various plot points had brought it down. I found myself laughing at them often and always looked forward to when they would verbally spar!

I would have liked to have seen more of a relationship development between Remy and Camille. I enjoyed the tentative relationship that they had the and the judgyness that came from Remy regarding Camille – but I would have liked to have seen them get to know each other a little more (especially Remy) and I would have liked to have seen Remy’s perspective change a little bit more fleshed out – especially because of the ending.

I have a love hate relationship with Sophia. She was well fleshed out and I liked the subtlety of her actions at the beginning, which became more erratic and obvious as the book carried on. She was conniving and manipulative – I can’t wait to see what the author is going to do with this character.

I loved the ending! I was not expecting things to go down the way that they did and I was not expecting a certain character to be at the middle of it! I was pretty shocked when I found out what had happened and I felt betrayed! The ending wasn’t predictable at all and I loved it!

All in all, I absolutely loved this book, despite the few issues that I have with it! The characters were mostly well fleshed out and the world building was just magical and amazing! I gave this book 4/5 stars.

 

Rebel Springs by Morgan Rhodes

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Rebel Springs by Morgan Rhodes

Published: July 15th 2014 by Razorbill

Auranos has been conquered and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But alluring, dangerous magic still beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world. . . .

CLEO is now a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica as the evil King Gaius lies to her people MAGNUS stands to eventually inherit the new kingdom but is still obsessed with his feelings for his adopted sister, Lucia LUCIA is haunted by the deadly outcome of her breathtaking display of magic that allowed her father to capture the kingdoms JONAS watches at the palace gates, a troop of rebels behind him, waiting for him to tell them how he plans to overtake King Gaius When Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of cataclysmic events that will forever change the face of this land.

Since the final book in this series was recently published, I thought it was probably a good time to return to this series! Whilst I found the plot enjoyable, there were other aspects of this book that I really struggled with which were ultimately a let down.

As mentioned, I enjoyed the plot. Despite the jumping between various PoVs (characters who are located a various different places on the continent(?)), the plot was extremely easy to follow and it was interesting watching all the various points start to come together as the characters begin to have similar goals – albeit for different reasons. I liked the magical aspect of this book and the mystery that surrounds the watchers, the kindred etc.

I enjoyed the various different PoVs! I feel that Rhodes did a great job of making each voice unique and, in doing so, the voices didn’t bleed together. I could easily put the book down mid chapter (which I try not to do) and come back and remember who’s PoV I was reading because the voices are unique. They all have their own personalities and each one brought something different to the story.

I am so intrigued by the prince of Kaesia. We don’t get to see a lot of him in this book, but he is such a mysterious figure and I cannot wait until we find to more about him and what is role will be in the bigger picture! I am also low key ready to jump aboard a particular ship if the canon develops – that is all I am saying.

I struggled with the romance element of this book. A lot of it felt forced and I wasn’t really getting any of the feels from the characters who were claiming to be into Cleo. I liked the fact that Cleo and Magnus’ relationship is one that will probably grow and develop as the series continues because it is a slow burn that I will probably enjoy more. I honestly don’t understand why everyone keeps flinging themselves at Cleo because there hasn’t really been a build up of emotions before declaring love – I feel like Cleo needs to arm herself with a bat so she can keep them all away!

Despite the fact that I enjoyed the plot, I am relatively sure I have already figured out the complete end game based off of the prophecy – I just don’t know whats going to happen to actually get there. Everything clicked into place when the prophecy was revealed and I wish that there was more of a mystery to the plot – it was a little to predictable in this sense.

Another aspect of this book that I don’t really understand is the skepticism of magic. A big portion of the book is the characters denouncing the existence of magic and them being skeptical about it… despite the fact that IT IS IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES!! This literally makes no sense to me. They have seen magic and that it exists, but they still refuse to believe it? This elicited a lot of eye rolling from me.

All in all, while I enjoyed the plot and there were intriguing aspects, there were still some flaws that I felt could have been addressed. I am looking forward to picking up the next book in this series and finding out how things will play out to the ultimate end goal. I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Everless by Sara Holland

Everless

Everless by Sara Holland

Published: January 2nd 2018 by HarperTeen

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

I was extremely excited when I got my hands on this book. I loved the premise of this book and I was excited to see that other people had loved it as well. However, this book just didn’t live up to the hype for me. I was expecting something more than what I was given and I was left feeling relatively disappointed.

This book was extremely slow. I felt like it plodded along at a glacial pace and nothing seemed to be happening at all. Various things that were revealed as the book continued didn’t all come together until the last sort of 100 pages and I felt like things could have happened before this point to really help kick start this book. I had already guessed what was going to happen and who Jules was, so the ending wasn’t all that shocking for me either. There was one aspect of the ending that I wasn’t expecting and it didn’t really affect me in the way that it was probably supposed to because I had never felt a connection to that particular story plot (Don’t want to give away too many spoilers).

The whole thing felt extremely repetitive. Jules was doing things that a normal castle worker/person in her job would be doing and she was constantly getting angry at things that she was making no attempts to change. I felt like it was on a bit of a loop and it started getting old relatively quickly. I struggled to connect with her because I found her to be whiny and annoying – so I didn’t really care about what was going to happen to her.

There was one aspect of the book that didn’t make sense wen it tied into the ending. A good portion of the book is spent with Jules fawning over someone she can’t have but has been attracted to since they were children – basically written in a way that she was in love with him. So when the ending went down in the way that it did, I was extremely confused because it went against everything else that happened within the book and the other character relationships etc. It felt a bit whimsical and fickle in a sense.

I was drawn to Liam, more than his brother, from the beginning of the book. I have a thing for dark, broody characters (apparently there is something wrong with me?) and I didn’t really care for his more light hearted brother – who I felt that we were supposed like. I had guessed what Liam had done relatively early on, so when it was revealed at the end, it also didn’t surprise me as it probably should have done.

All in all, I found this book to be a bit predictable and slow – I was expecting better based off of the hype. I loved the premise and the idea behind blood being tied to time, but I really wish that something more had happened. I gave this book 2.5/5stars

 

Society of Wishes by Elise Kova and Lynn Larsh

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Society of Wishes by Elise Kova and Lynn Larsh

Published: January 29th 2018 by Silver Wing Press

First book in the Wish Quartet, a new-adult, urban fantasy series set in a near-future alternate reality

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

Josephina Espinosa makes her living as a hacker-for-hire in the Lone Star Republic, a remnant of the fractured U.S.A. That is, until the day she and her best friend are gunned down in a government raid.

With her dying breath, Jo uses magical lore passed down from her grandmother to summon a wish-granter. Her wish? To save her friend’s life. Except wishes have costs, and for Jo, the price is the erasure of her entire mortal existence.

Now, as the most recent addition to the mysterious Society of Wishes, Jo must form a new “life” alongside the seven other members, one of which being her savior himself. Living as an occupant of the Society’s lavish mansion should be quite the perk, but while it is furnished with everything its inhabitants could possibly need, it lacks one thing—freedom.

Her otherworldly identity crisis takes a backseat, however, when Jo learns that the friend she sacrificed everything for is headed down the same path to ruin. Jumping in head-first, Jo uses her newfound magical abilities to protect him, only to realize that the ripples of her actions have far-reaching consequences. When the Society’s aloof leader Snow decides to give her a taste of his own ancient magic, Jo discovers that there are threads woven into the tapestry of her new reality that reach far beyond the wishes she is now required to grant. Ones that, if tugged on, could mean the unraveling of the world itself.

NOTE: I received an ARC copy of this book from the authors in return for an honest review. This in no wan influences my opinion.

I ended up reading this a little later than I originally intended because of the huge slump I have been in, I really wanted to give this book a fair shot, so decided to read it when I was out of it, and I am so glad I did! I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait for the next instalment to this series!

I’m going to start with the opening line to this story, and not even the entire line – “It was hotter than Satan’s tit outside…” – I was not expecting an opening like this and I just burst out laughing. I always think its a great sign when the opening line is one that is interesting/funny because it definitely hooked me into the story and it showed promise for the rest of the book. The opening scenes in general were extremely interesting and had enough information as to what was going on to keep the reader in the know, but still held enough mystery to make me want to know what was going to happen next and to know why they were doing what they were doing. The beginning hooked me into the story and I stayed hooked throughout.

I loved the characters in this book! Each and every character is unique and had their own voices. and they all brought something to the story that added to it in a unique way. I really felt like I could relate to Jo (the MC) and I was invested in her story and what was going to happen next, and how she was going to handle with the different situations that she was put into. She was an extremely likeable character, despite some of her character flaws, which made me want to go back to the book when I was doing something else.

What I also enjoyed about these characters was the fact that they each retained something from their own time period (because they all come from different periods in time – it is clear in the book why when you read it), which helped to keep the characters’ voices unique. While we only got snippets of each an every characters’ pasts (aside from Wayne’s), it was nice to see the authors keeping things in keeping with the character’s times, despite the fact that a lot of them are really really old. The world has completely changed since their timelines and it was a unique twist to have them keeping up with the new, as well as keeping the old.

As mentioned above, we did get to see more of Wayne’s history because of the connection he had with Jo. Whilst I don’t want to give too much away, I thought it was a clever use and twist of actual historical events that made up Wayne’s past and the reasoning behind why history went down the way in which it did. I’d be interested to know if they use this technique with other characters’ pasts, and if yes, how they will twist and turn history.

Whilst I enjoyed the connection that Jo and Wayne shared and everything that went down between them (more on that if you read the book), I definitely gravitated toward Snow as the main love interested (which is currently not a ship… yet). I gravitated toward his character anyway because he is so mysterious and his past is not at all clear, but I felt more of a pull toward him when it became clear that he and Jo are somehow connected. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how they are connected in future books and what exactly his deal is. I definitely feel more of a pull toward his character and I really really want to get to know him more.

The world building was done extremely well in this book as well. It was easy to visualise what the authors wanted us to see, especially as the rules of magic became clearer. I liked the fact that magic had certain rules and regulations that needed to be followed, and when they weren’t, something happened (don’t want to go into too much detail about what). It was also a fun twist on the concept of magic that it wasn’t always helpful in the way that we know magic to be. Some things were actually made harder, this is something you don’t normally expect from magic.

I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next. Between he mystery surrounding the Society and the characters, rules regulations etc. To what Jo was planning to do and how she did it – I constantly felt the need to pick the book back up when I put it down. I definitely gravitated toward the characters and I cannot wait to find out more about them and their pasts (One thing I didn’t mention is that Pan reminded me of a gender reversed Peter Pan… but that might just be me and my imagination). I absolutely cannot wait for the next instalment and gave this book 5/5 stars.

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Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

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Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Published: February 2nd 2017 by Faber and Faber

Amazon: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands Trilogy)

This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince’s message has spread across the desert – and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl’s instinct for survival. For the Sultan’s palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper’s nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive… But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani’s past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

Despite the fact that I loved book 1, this sat on my shelf for quite a while before I actually picked it up! I definitely should have picked this book up sooner, because I really enjoyed this instalment! I cannot wait for the final book in this series!

I think my favourite aspect of this book was the fact that we got to see things from the perspective of the Sultan (obviously through Amani). It was easy to see why he thought he was doing the right thing and it was easy to feel like Amani was doing the wrong things by supporting the rebellion. I could understand some of the decisions he was making throughout the book and why he felt the need to make some of the decisions that he did. However, toward the end, I felt snapped back into reality of who he was after the decisions he made and the things he did to the camp. I have mixed feelings as to whether he is redeemable or not.

I loved Amani’s character development throughout this book and the way she overcame certain things. She definitely questioned her loyalty throughout the book and whether she was doing the right thing or not. Despite her doubts, Amani remains loyal throughout, which is definitely a sign of a strong character. I didn’t feel the same pull between Amani and Jin throughout this book as I did throughout book one and I don’t feel like they are the right ship for this book. I am hoping this either changes in book 3 or something else happens to convince me, because, at the moment, I feel unconvinced about it.

I loved the plot twists in this book. There were a couple spread out – especially toward the end and they made this book fun to read. I was not expecting the ending to happen the way that it did and I was left completely shocked at both the twists that came about (I don’t want to give away too many spoilers). When I realised exactly what had happened, I definitely nearly threw the book clear across the room, I was that upset!

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and the character development that happened throughout. I would have liked to have seen more of Jin and I would have liked to have been more convinced of the ship. However, the plot itself was fast paced and made this book difficult to put down! I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Find me Here:

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E Schwab

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Published: February 27th 2015 by Titan Books

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

I have seen the hype surrounding these books for absolutely ages now. I bought all three of them from amazon at the same time because I was absolutely expecting to love it – I had heard so many amazing things before hand, I wondered how I couldn’t?!? However… I ended up dnfing it *ducks*. I really didn’t enjoy it, to the point where I was forcing myself to pick it up. So, unpopular opinion is abound, people!

I think my biggest issue was that I wasn’t feeling any kind of connection to any of the characters. I often felt like they were superficial and I really struggled to actually care about what was going to happen to them – much less like them. I didn’t like the chopping and changing between the character arcs because I often felt like none of them had their own voices. To me, they all sounded pretty similar. For me, it is really important (especially in fantasy books) to have that connection to the characters because that is a large part of what makes me pick the book back up. When I am invested in the character’s well being, I obviously have to know what happens to them and if they make it to the end of the books/series. I wasn’t feeling that with Kell, Lila and Holland. I just didn’t really get it.

I also felt like the plot was slow and dragged. Maybe book one is used to set up the rest of the series? I don’t know, but I often felt bored and I would end up having to re read passages of the book because my mind had wondered to different things and I had forgotten what I had just read. I found it too easy to put the book down and pick it up again at a later time. The plot could have had a little sprucing up and been made a little more fast paced… or even have something of interest happen in the first part of the book.

I also felt like aspects of the magic system that were being created were a little too coincidental. Like the magic sword that Kell enchanted himself to stop magic users from being able to use just that. I felt like Schwab sort of bent certain aspects of it to fit into the plot that she was trying to write and I just didn’t really enjoy it.

All in all, I was expecting to love these and I just… didn’t. I feel a lot like I felt after This Savage Song, in the sense that it was missing something that should have kept me hooked throughout. I’m thinking that maybe Schwab’s writing just isn’t for me… I gave this book 1/5 stars.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

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Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Published: March 8th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him… or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

I have had this book on my TBR for AGES now! I literally had it on my kindle for the longest time before deciding to actually buy a physical copy. I cannot even believe that it took me this long to get to it, because I absolutely loved it! It was such a fun and fast paced book!

I think my favourite thing about this book was the ease between Jin and Amani. The relationship between them was easy going and natural even before they really started to help each other out and started to go on the same path. They had their issues and difficulties, but the relationship was never really extremely awkward and was always reparable. I don’t feel like things were rushed between them and I loved watching the relationship between them develop.

What I also enjoyed about this story was the way that the desert stories had truths and exaggerations within them and the way that the truths started showing up throughout the story and the way that the exaggerations started making themselves shown as the book carried on. I enjoyed watching the magic weave itself into the story and felt like I was actually there. The world building was rich and descriptive and I also liked the way that the author took in various aspects of the culture and wove them in as well.

The plot itself was fast paced and easy to follow, whilst still keeping the reader on their toes. I didn’t feel like either the plot or character development suffered for the other, rather that they went hand in hand – one thing affected the other. I loved some of the plot twists that came around and I cannot wait to see how these are explored further in book 2. I felt like the plot developed naturally and the events made the book fast paced.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I cannot wait for the next book. I would have liked to have gotten to know some of the other characters better, but I am hoping that this happens in book 2! This was a fast paced, action filled book with fun and sassy characters! I gave this 4/5 stars.

Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted here. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off! Don’t forget to link back here and link up to the inlinkz below so that others can see what you picked!

Hey guys!! Hope you all had a great weekend! The weather here was crazy hot, so we spent most of our time outside 🙂 Anyway, this weeks pick for me is a series that I have literally heard so many amazing things about, but I have never actually gotten to myself! I ordered the series at the end of last week from amazon (Thanks to the hubby buying me a gift card for books for our anniversary :-* ), so it should be here later this week!

a darker shade of magic

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Published: February 24th 2015 by Tor books

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

June Wrap Up

Hey guys!! Last months wrap up post is coming to you a couple of days late – but better late than never! I am not going to lie, I had a pretty much non existent reading month, so I am hoping that this month things will pick up again! I did pick up quite a few books, though… so lets dive in!

Read:

Book Haul:

Goodreads Monday:

That’s it for last month! I didn’t get around to reading all that much, but I definitely managed to buy a lot more than I had planned too!! Oops…

 

Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted here. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off! Don’t forget to link back here and link up to the inlinkz below so that others can see what you picked! 

Hey guys! Before I start, I realise I have been a little absent and that is purely because I haven’t had time to read at all!! I’m nearly finished with The Bone Season and I am absolutely loving it! Anyway, this weeks pick for me is a book that I have heard A LOT about and I am really looking forward to my copy arriving!

the night circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Published: September 13th 2011 by DoubleDay

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.