Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists.

Author – Kiera.

I was the one who suggested the topic of this FF, but then I started to panic because I couldn’t think of any! Luckily Goodreads came to the rescue, and after going through my read pile I’d made quite a lengthy list. The interesting thing about focusing on a certain aspect of a book is that you start to see similarities you didn’t know were there.

Yelena – Poison Study by Maria V. Synder.

poison-study-young-adult-front-cover2 Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

We first meet Yelena in a prison cell. She’s there for committing murder, and when she’s called up for execution she is given a choice – become the new food taster for the commander or death. Obviously she becomes the new poison taster or it would be a very short book! Yelena is one of the most hardy characters I have ever come across. Her survival instinct is unparalleled and she almost always manages to stay ahead of the game.

 

 

 

Deuce – Enclave by Ann Aguirre.

enclaveI really have a soft spot in my heart for the characters in this series. Deuce is fifteen and one of the enclave’s only female huntresses. She faces some of the most harrowing circumstances possible, but she never becomes bitter or resentful in anyway. She sees the world for what it is, and does her best to survive each day. I think that it is Deuce’s age and innocence that makes her such an appealing character.

 

 

 

 

Jane Yellowrock – Skinwalker by Faith Hunter.

Skinwalker-250These books read in a very similar way to the True Blood/ Sookie Stackhouse novels. There is a lot of down time that is filled with tea making and internal monologue, but during that time you really get to know Jane as a character. She has no idea where she came from or who her family are, just that she is of Cherokee descent. Following her while she discovers more about herself and the city she has been hired to protect is an enjoyable ride, and Cherokee heritage isn’t something I had come across before so thumbs up for that too.

 

 

 

Lia – The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

tkod I’m not completely sure what it is that I find so captivating about Lia. She is a Princess and to prevent war breaking out between Kingdoms it is arranged for her to marry a Prince she has never met and certainly doesn’t love. So she does what any girl would do in her position, she makes a run for it and hopes that all hell doesn’t break loose. Now I am aware that actually most people wouldn’t do that, and maybe that is what I like about her. She makes a decision and goes for it. Such a go-getter.

 

 

 

Ivy – Wicked by Jennifer L Armentrout.

22895264Ivy is a character that I think people either love or hate. She is sarcastic, quick witted and can fight like a man. I fall into the love camp. I really enjoyed reading the story from her point of view. The dialogue between her and the other characters had me laughing out loud all the way through this book. Ivy has experienced a lot of loss in her life, and it makes her understandably guarded, but I found that to make her more relateable.

 

 

 

 

There were so many other amazing female characters I wanted to include here, but I wanted to try and keep them as diverse as possible. Which female characters are your favourite?

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Wednesday Wonderings

When people say they don’t read it makes me feel sad. They are missing out on so much. Films and TV are great, but there is nothing quite like having your own input into the story. Inventing the characters, the world and relationships. It’s a wonderful thing!

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Book Club Review – The Darkest Park of the Forest by Holly Black

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Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Laura

I have to say, “well done me”, I picked a corker this month! I’ve had my eye on this release for a little while, and although I haven’t read anything by Holly Black before she is a firm favourite with some of the other Bookspa ladies, so I knew there was a good chance we were going to love it.

This book is fabulous. Never too complicated that you have to re-read whole sections of text, but never too boring that you skip them either, the story flows along at a good pace, weaving in and out of Fairfold and taking you in unexpected directions before reaching it’s rather epic final showdown. It feels sort of beautiful, and reads like a dark fairy tale – I kept thinking of The Labyrinth, especially during the faerie revelry. The colours and descriptions are vivid, and the variety of characters, both fae and human, only add to the magic and romance of the story. I loved Hazel and Ben, and the bond between them that is central to the book. I also loved that Hazel was a bit of a badass and didn’t need a knight in shining armour to save her.

I could write loads of gushing praise for The Darkest Part of the Forest, but all in all I think this is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time, and I give it 5 stars *****.

 

Hazel

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the pace was great, I was never bored. Holly Black weaved a magical tale with lots of little twists and turns that kept you wanting more. I didn’t anticipate any of them which made the story even more magical. Her characters were well fleshed out, I loved the relationships between the characters, especially Ben and Hazel’s. The romance was sweet, I loved Jack. Above all, I felt warm and fuzzy whilst reading this book even though some parts got pretty dark and scary, it reminded me of the fairy tales I read in my youth. Wonderful pick Laura 😀

Kiera

I’m going to start by quoting you one my favourite lines from the book. For me this just sums up everything I loved about it.

‘I have loved you from almost the first moment I saw you, wild and fierce and brave, running through the woods, your lips stained purple from blackberry juice.’

I knew from the moment Laura mentioned this book that I would enjoy it. I love the way the Holly Black writes, and she is up there as one of my favourite fantasy authors. It reminded me a lot of The Spiderwick Chronicles, but as a more grown up version – sounds good, right? It was! Reading about all the different faerie creatures and the awful things they got up to was fascinating, and having Jack’s perspective in the mix being fae but in human society was a really interesting view point. The relationships between the characters was such a massive element throughout the story, and really kept the plot moving. The way that you had to unravel the mysteries of the story was so satisfying and I was never disappointed by the outcome. All in all a story of childhood and whimsy and love and magic and imagination. Completely brilliant.

Friday Favourites – Books I loved as a Child

Author-Hazel

This was a bit tricky for me as most of the books I loved as a kid, Laura and Kiera already talked about, so I really had to think and do some research. This took me on a happy journey down nostalgia lane and I remembered a few that made me smile…

Not now, Bernard by David Mckee

image Reading this story as an adult gave me a totally different perspective. As a child, I was horrified that because his parents ignored him, Bernard was eaten by a monster! Growing up as the eldest child of 6, this story resonated with me and although it wasn’t done deliberately, I could really relate to Bernard and his struggle to get his parents attention. As an adult, I found this story hilarious and this time I could relate to the parents! Sometimes you’re just too busy to deal with your child’s or children’s (in my case) every whim.

 

 

 

 The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg

imageThis is such a fantastic book. The postman is delivering all the Christmas Mail and we get to sneak a peek at it. Fully illustrated letters, postcards, recipes etc, this story is told through many different mediums and is beautifully interactive. It adds to the magical atmosphere of Christmas, a must read for all young children.

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Crush by Sarra Manning

imageI discovered these books when I bought Just 17, a magazine for teens back in the 90’s. It was first serialised for the magazine and that’s when I found my love for romance books. I remember these books gripping me and leaving me with all the feels. Perfect stories for younger teenage girls, they were light and fluffy with drool worthy guys.

 

 

Making out series by Katherine Applegate

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After reading the Diary of a Crush books, I went searching for more teen romance stories (not as easy as it is now) and I found the Making out series. I read the first few in this massively long series, they were exactly what I was looking for, light and fluffy romances. As a teen I flitted between these books, the Sweet Valley High books and the Point Horror books Laura already mentioned.

 

Hope you have as much fun traveling down nostalgia lane as I did, Happy Reading 😃📖

 

 

 

Mini Review – The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

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Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

 

Author – Kiera.

I have mixed feeling about The Witch of Salt and Storm. I really love the premise and the setting. The writing style was lovely and lyrical but it also felt a bit disjointed at times and I had to read a few things twice to understand what was meant. This might be considered a bad thing, and I know some people will find it off putting, but it fit the style of the story quite well. The first half of the book moved at a very slow pace. There is a lot of family history, lore and scene setting to get through. I found it enjoyable but it didn’t move the storyline along as quickly as I would have liked. I loved the magic system, and can understand the lure of the sea. Each of the Roe witches had a different ability from their connection with the sea, and was all so interesting! I just would have liked a bit more of it throughout the book.

There is a good mix of characters, and I found myself drawn towards Avery’s Grandmother and Tane. They both have quite turbulent pasts yet remain honest and likeable.

I know that Whaling happened and why it did. I also understand why it was an integral part of the story, but that being said it wasn’t something I enjoyed reading about.

Overall though I found it slow I did enjoy reading this. Historical fantasy isn’t something I have read much of, and this has definitely made me want to read more.

Friday Favourites – Books I loved as a child.

Author – Kiera.

I have an endless list for this topic of Friday Favourites. There is something special about childhood books, you always remember them fondly and get a real sense of nostalgia. With many of these picks I could tell you where I was when I read them, what I had been doing, who I with. I also have many of the copies I read stashed away in a box for safe keeping.

I’m going to try and be somewhat chronological with this post and hope I can narrow it down a bit, let’s see how that goes!

 

roalddahl

Roald Dahl.

This one is probably pretty common, I don’t think there is a book lover out there that has not read a Roald Dahl book or two! I specifically remember reading The Twits, Matilda and James and the Giant Peach repeatedly. His writing style and the brilliant illustrations always made it so easy for me to picture his colourful characters. I even have the recipe book to go along with the stories, though I confess the only thing I really make is the Bruce Bogtrotter cake nowadays.

 

enidblytonFamousFive6to10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enid Blyton.

This is another author I read a lot of as a youngster. The books that will always stick in my mind are The Faraway Tree stories and The Famous Five. Clearly I wanted to pack my spotted handkerchief and go off on lots of fun adventures as a nine year old! While the Roald Dahl books appealed to me because of their characters, these were all about the imagery and world building. I think I checked all the trees in the local area to see if Moonface happened to be living in one. No such luck!

 

the-switch-anthony-horowitz

The Switch – Anthony Horowitz.

I used to get given book recommendations most weeks from my teachers growing up. Before the days of Goodreads (how did we cope?) it was a case of heading the library and filtering through books until you found something that sounded good. So to have someone suggest a book you might like was always a great start. This was one of them, and the one that stand out most in my mind. I love Anthony Horowitz’s writing style even now and this is going to be one that I read with my son at some point in the near future.

 

 

Artemis-Fowl-Series-Book-1-8

 

The Artemis Fowl Series – Eoin Colfer.

I was fourteen when this series started. It was recommended (as many books are) by my Aunt and we started reading them together. This is an amazing series to have someone to experience with. The story lines are fun and fast paced, the characters are hilarious and the world building is great. Even now we still make references to these books in general conversation. People must think we’re mad.

 

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And last, but not least! The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.

Now, I’m going to say something that is probably going to get me in trouble. This is what I reading when everyone else was reading Harry Potter. I’m sorry, don’t hate me. As a teen I was very much – if everyone else is doing it, then I’m going to be doing something else. In this case it actually worked out pretty well, because this series will always be one of my favourite fantasy stories, and actually they are often compared to Harry Potter now. A boy who does magic, must be like HP.

This series had me laughing all the way through, even though it is gritty and all the characters are flawed. I think it set a standard for what I like and look for in fantasy novels now.

 

I’m going to leave it there, while there are so many more I want to mention these are the ones that always come to mind first. What are your favourite childhood reads?

Friday Favourites – Worlds We’d Like to Live in

Author – Hazel

This week it’s my turn to tell you about the wonderful story book worlds I’d like to live in. Laura and Kiera enjoy reading fantasy novels so have been transported to all different types of worlds and surroundings, but I don’t read much fantasy so my choices will probably be vastly different….

 

Prague (from Daughter of Smoke and Bone)

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Whilst reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I really wanted to visit Prague. Laini Taylor does a fabulous job of describing the city. Her prose is beautifully descriptive and immersive. I even ate goulash several times whilst reading this book. And another reason to want to visit Prague, the library…..Wow!

 

The Commonwealth Space Galaxy.

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In the Commonwealth books (written by Peter F Hamilton), humanity has stretched itself across the Galaxy, inhabiting many worlds. Even though in reality the idea of traveling in space is overwhelmingly scary, in the Commonwealth books, technology is so advanced it wouldn’t be an issue. Imagine the different lands, plant life, wild life, sunrises and sunsets, maybe even intelligent life you would come across, a curious explorers dream.

 

Carcassonne, Southern France (from The Languedoc trilogy)

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Kate Mosse’s Languedoc trilogy is set in Carcassonne, France. Her stories travel through different time periods and are told from different perspectives but the wonder and beauty of Carcassonne is still present. From the beautiful sweeping fields and sunshine to the rich historic ruins, I wanted to please my curious mind and explore the ruins and picnic in the grasses whilst reading her books in the glorious sunshine.

Book Review – The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse, #1)

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to another pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. When Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together.

To break the spell, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks–all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic…and the growing romantic tension between them.

Pirates and Assassins. Do I need to say more? Well alright then, you’ve twisted my arm!

As you might have noticed, this book is about pirates and assassins! How cool is that! This book had me from page one, and I finished it in a day. The first line is ‘I ain’t never been one to trust beautiful people, and Tarrin of the Hariri was the most beautiful man I ever saw.‘ I love the writing style, it makes me feel like I’m a pirate, and who doesn’t want to be a pirate! We follow two main characters through the story, Ananna (the Pirate) and Naji (the assassin) and it’s written from Ananna’s point of view. I really love both of these characters. They are completely different from one another, but then almost exactly the same too. They both have been brought up in environments in which each day is a fight for survival,  but they deal with things in their own unique ways.
Ananna is very forward with her feelings and quick to throw a punch, where as Naji is used to appraising the situation and hiding in shadows. So when they are forced together by the curse it’s interesting to see how they work as a team. Their relationship is tentative but you can feel the bond between them slowly growing and it’s wonderful.

The magic system was so fun to read about. I loved how different people in the book could draw power from different places depending on the magic they use. The fight scenes in this book were awesome! Nothing like some swashbuckling pirates with their swords and muskets battling it out on deck.
The only thing I would have changed with this book would have been the addition on a map. There is a lot of traveling around by land and sea, and I think a map would have helped me get my bearings in the world a bit better.

I don’t want to say too much more about this book, because it’s not a very long and I don’t want to ruin it for you. I really hope that you give it a read though. It is brilliant fantasy and definitely worth the read.

commission,The Assassin's Curse by may12324

I found this picture on pinterest and it is the perfect image I had for the characters. The link to the original image is – http://may12324.deviantart.com/art/commission-The-Assassin-s-Curse-480759309

Friday Favourites – Worlds We’d Like to Live In

Author – Laura

I don’t know about you, but I’m happiest with a book in my hand, being transported to somewhere far, far away, even just for half an hour. I love books that take you on a journey, and introduce you to strange and fantastic new worlds and characters.

I’ve picked three of my favourite fantasy locations, and there are a few similarities between them; I think I might like a touch of the whimsical!

Lothlórien – Middle Earth

Lothlorien

Lothlórien is a forest located next to the lower Misty Mountains, ruled by Celeborn and Galadriel and featured in both the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Legolas himself said “That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people”. This place is pure magic – tree houses, elves, tranquillity, music, light… Life would be so peaceful and calm, everyone would be ethereally beautiful and I could sleep in a house like this.

Narnia

Narnia

Words cannot describe how much I want to live in a land where animals can talk to you. If I could have a super power it would be to communicate with animals. In Narnia all the animals talk. I am excited just thinking about it. I love the snow and ice, and the mix of real and surreal. The lamppost in the forest for example. Finding a magical world at the back of an old wardrobe is a hope that has stuck with me from childhood – I still have to have a sneaky check, just in case.

Neverland

neverland

There are mermaids and pirates, they never get old and if you believe, (with a little fairy dust) you can fly. AND, if you’re a Lost Boy, you get to live in a den! I’m not actually sure it gets any better than that. Saying that, I always feel there is an undercurrent of sadness throughout all the iterations of Neverland, so I think I’d like to go there on a holiday, rather than become a permanent resident!

Book Review – The Crown Tower: Book 1 of The Riyria Chronicles by Michael J. Sullivan

Author – Laura

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Two men who hate each other.  One impossible mission. A legend in the making.

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

This book was recommended to me by my lovely Dad, who is an avid fan of all things sword and sorcery. The Crown Tower is actually part of a prequel series to the Riyria Revelations trilogy, telling the story of how the main characters, Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn, met and became partners. I haven’t read Revelations, but my Dad said to start with The Crown Tower as reading them in chronological order might make more sense to a Riyria noob. Of course, if you want to read them in order of publication by all means read the trilogy first. It won’t detract from the story, if anything I imagine you might even get more out of it than someone who hasn’t read it.

The first part of the story is focused on Hadrian, who has spent the last few years as a mercenary, killing for money. In an effort to leave his past behind him he sets off on an eventful journey to meet a family friend, who has some things that have been left to him following the death of his father. Hadrian isn’t very good at making friends, which makes for a few fun and games on the way.

We don’t meet Royce until later, when the friend, a professor at a school for the gifted, sends the two on a mission to steal something important. They have to work together, but the instant mutual loathing is a bit of a hurdle. Unfortunately for them, the only way to survive the job is by learning to trust each other. Which, of course, is easier said than done…

Alongside their story we also meet Gwen DeLancy, a whore who refuses to let herself and other girls be used and abused by the tavern owner or their customers. I imagine Gwen has an important role to play in future books.

There is plenty of action in The Crown Tower, and I immediately liked both Hadrian and Royce. I think that’s largely thanks to the brilliant writing. Alongside the fast paced action and beautiful descriptions of the world, I found this book unexpectedly funny. The humour is dry and sarcastic, and I loved the banter between the main characters. It isn’t written like a prequel, and there doesn’t seem to be any assumption about what the reader already may or may not know. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series – The Rose and the Thorn.

Although its more sword than sorcery (I imagine that changes as the story goes on) The Crown Tower is a great introduction into both Fantasy fiction and the world of Riyria, and perfect for Young Adults and their *ahem* slightly older counterparts as well!

My rating – 4/5

Check out The Crown Tower on Goodreads