#BookReview: We are blood and thunder by Kesia Lupo | @BloomsburyBooks

Today I wanna talk about We are blood and thunder by Kesia Lupo which was sent by Bloomsbury to which I am very grateful. I swear that I am reading faster than I can write these reviews because I am having a huge backlog yet again and I thought I cleared out a lot of them. *sigh*

Genre: ya fantasy
Year Of Publication: April 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 400
My rating: 3.5 – 4 stars

“She who spins the cloud weaves the storm.”

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IG: Jane_Kelsey

We are blood and thunder follows Constance and Lena, two female characters at opposite ends, both united by the terrifying storm cloud hovering over the dukedom which has already claimed the lives of many. As conflict climaxes and hidden enemies emerge, Constance and Lena need each other to uncover the secrets and save their people from this deadly spell.

When I saw this novel I knew I wanted to read it because it has all the ingredients that I like: fantasy + female characters + magic + world in peril + some romance. If you’re interested so far, keep on reading this…

The story follows Lena as she is trying to escape the dukedom after she was sentenced to death for being suspected of having magical powers, whilst Constance is trying to find a giphyway back into the city to set some wrongs right and finally become who she was meant to me, not holding back. Initially I enjoyed more of Lena’s perspective and was almost scared to read Constance’s story because political intrigues seem to give me some anxiety (I kid you not!), but I ended up loving the moments with Constance more, and her strong leadership rather than Lena’s who became a little bit too… self-doubting for a while. I’m a bit of a cut-to-the-chase kinda girl and accept-your-fate-damn-it, so these moments when Lena learns a thing or two at the temple I was a bit meh about. Things to pick up so not all is lost and I loved reading from their perspectives, following their stories.

The writing was the true strength of this novel. Kesia has a way with words and it sucked me right in. The descriptions are beautifully written, yet simple enough not to appear overdone and felt natural. This is an author that I will defo be keeping my eyes peeled to see what she will do next because there is great potential. All this being said, I had a few issues with the pacing, the beginning was a bit too slow for me; it picks up the pace midway. Maybe it’s my fault because I am a bit of an impatient reader… I want it and I want it now. Lol. The plot twists were twisty enough for me (obviously not gonna spoil and tell you, buy the book!), but the magical system was kinda confusing for me and I wasn’t very clear on what was going on sometimes and I feel like I wanted just a little bit more.

43181177Overall, I very much ended up enjoying it, as I said it picked up in pacing midway and more things started to happen so I was a lot more hooked in. I dropped a star or so because of the above mentioned, but that’s me and my opinion.

Let me know if this is something you guys are interested or if you’ve read it, what did you think?

Xoxo
Jane

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#BookReview: HOLY SISTER by Mark Lawrence | “Best series everrr!”

I am sure you did not hear me so far screaming how much I love this book series, but I LOVE THIS SERIES!! So now I am in fragments after reading the conclusion of this series, HOLY SISTER destroyed me like no other series finale. I am not gonna be coy and say it straight: if there would be a fire and I would only have time to grab a book or a series, I would grab The book of the Ancestor series by Mark Lawrence (and yes, someone asked me that question in work and I realized that it would be a book series that I could not live without).

Genre: fantasy, adult
Year Of Publication: 4th of April 2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 352
My rating: 5 million stars

Thank you to Mark Lawrence for a copy of this novel and the publishers for the promo materials.
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IG: Jane_Kelsey

I do not remember, like with all good things, how I got to read Red sister last year; maybe I heard of it on booktube, maybe it was fate… Somehow I found my hands on it, borrowed from the library and I was utterly enchanted and now I am addicted forever to the writings of Mark Lawrence. Why? Because this year he’s also publishing One word kill which is a completely different ballpark and I still adored.

I can hand on heart say that Mark is a genius, he has the talent to write and write well, he understands that characters and motivations are the pulsating heart of the story so he pours his own in it. He understands females and they feel alive on the page, with dreams, expectations, fears, and emotions, they are badass in their own way regardless if they’re 10 or 100 years old. I swear the man knows threadwork because he made me laugh, cry and be at the edge of my seat. Yes, you heard that one right… I cried, or better said… I sobbed my heart out whilst reading Holy sister and it still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.Jane_Kelsey-square

But his characters don’t live in a random place, his world is vivid, you can feel, touch, smell, but most of all he loves to put his characters through hell so when they will never be the same. The plot is full of twists and turns, but it does now lose the reader, it takes the reader on a journey of discovery, full of adventure and passion because it is “do or die”.

There are a lot of finer points of this novel, there are many great things about it that I fleetingly touched upon because otherwise, this will be a very long review. And I don’t even want this to be a review because I want to talk about how it made me feel, I think that’s much more important, but if you insist… great characters, excellent magical system, amazing world-building, intriguing plot, diverse characters, and beautiful writing.

Basically, all you need to know is that you must read this series! I recommend this to anyone out there with a pulse.

Jane_Kelsey

Xoxo
Jane

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#BookReview: Why I didn’t like Everless by Sara Holland

I have decided in 2019 that if I am not invested in a story and just wishing it would end so I can read something else, I will not continue reading it, aka DNF-ing it. My time at the moment is so precious (sic!) that I do not have time to waste on stories which do not captivate me even remotely.

Genre: ya fantasy
Year Of Publication: January 2018
Publisher: Orchard Books
Pages: 361
My rating: DNF

And unfortunately for Everless, there was nothing anchoring me to the story. I found the premise quite interesting as there aren’t that many books dealing with the subject of time in such an interesting way however, I soon realised that the focus of the story was the main character and her boring internal monologue. I knew from the start that it would rely heavily on romance and the usual YA tropes, but I continued to read, hoping it would get better. I got to page 100 when I realised that I knew the ending, I knew that would happen from A to B to C because it was THAT predictable. And you know what? I was right! Skipped to the end of the book, backtracked a little and … surprise, surprise… I was right.

So why I did not like it:

  • bland, boring and predictable characters (could also add formulaic, basic, annoying)
  • miscommunication as a plot device – one of the only tropes that sends me raging
  • unnecessary drama which made it feel like there was a plot but in fact there was no plot
  • makes no sense most of the time and sent me raging (again)
  • don’t even get me started on the romance: “I did it to protect you”… Well, f*ck you!
  • 0 emotional investment in this story! ZERO! Can’t get behind a romance when as a reader I am not “courted”.

Although I did not enjoy it and DNF-ed it, I do not think it is a horrible book and that I hate it (although it looks suspiciously like so), but it just was not for me. Maybe 15 year old me would have enjoyed it, but I wanted something more. What I did enjoy, was the concept and it is a shame it was not executed at the standards that I was expecting/wanting/needing.

Have you read it? What did you think?

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#Bookreview: A curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Hello, bookworms! How are you doing? What are you reading that’s interesting? I just finished reading A curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer and I cannot wait to tell you more about it!

Genre: YA fantasy
Year Of Publication: 29 Jan 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 496
My rating: stars

*Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury for giving my an e-ARC*

“Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, is cursed. Forced to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he can only be freed by love. But at the end of each autumn he is transformed into a beast hell-bent on destruction, and after so many failed attempts, his kingdom and its people are barely holding on.
Harper’s life has never been easy, but she’s learned to be tough enough to survive. She won’t let anything hold her back, not her cerebral palsy or her mother’s deteriorating health. But when she is sucked into Rhen’s world, nothing is as it seems. Powerful forces are standing against Emberfalll … and it will take more than a broken curse to save it from utter ruin.”

a curseA curse so Dark and Lonely follows the story of Rhen, the prince of Emberfall who is cursed to repeat the same season over and over again trying to break the curse which fell upon him. Harper herself was struggling to cope with her mother’s illness and the debts collected by her father when she is taken to Emberfall against her will by commander Grey.

Harper is one of those characters that you don’t have a choice but love them. She fights for what she believes in and is not afraid to stand up to anyone. She is not afraid to wear a dress and play the part of a true lady either and embracing her feminine side. It really stood out to me this scene when she turned around and said that she was born with her injuries and she will die with her injuries, so they need to teach her how to work with that and for me that was so empowering. She is not flawless either; with the best intentions she makes mistakes and is not afraid to own up to that.VictoriousDependableHoneybee-small

Rhen, the Crown Prince of Emberfall, seems to be the typical brooding ya hero at first glance, however, as the story progresses, we get to learn a lot more about him and I cannot begin to say how much I love him. His interactions with Harper were refreshing and made me very happy inside. He might seem uncaring, cold and aloof, but he actually has the ability to empathise and see things from a completely different perspective and I found myself many times agreeing with this opinions. He and commander Grey have a brilliant relationship and I loved their banter and camaraderie. All the supporting characters I felt they were fleshed out enough for their roles.

b442882793bbdbf917b845e91607677dThe plot was faced paced and kept me turning the pages; I read this book in two days. The writing was very rich and easy to read. The characters had unique voices and I really appreciated the relationships following a natural, realistic progression. The ending also made my heart skip a bit and I am really excited to see what the author will come up with next.

I enjoyed this book very much, I basically devoured it on two days. I totally recommend it if you like ya fantasy and especially Beauty and the Beast retellings; this is one of the good ones!

Xoxo
Jane.

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#BookReview: Cloaked in Shadow by Ben Alderson.

PSX_20181001_183421.jpgDo you like books filled with magical beings and court intrigues? Would you like to read a great LGBTQ+ ya fantasy with elemental magic and sassy elves? Swoony princes? If you answered yes to any of these… then I have just the thing for you: Cloaked in Shadow by Ben Alderson!

Genre: YA fantasy, LGBTQ+
Year Of Publication: December 2017
Publisher: Oftomes Publishing
Pages: 350
My rating: 4-4.5 stars

First of all, I am going to put my hands up and say that it was my first LGBTQ+ novel with a male to male romance and I did not know what to expect which made me anxious just because I hadn’t experienced that before. It was incredible. I absolutely loved it and I cannot believe that I have not read anything like that before.

THE CHARACTERS

I am incredibly happy that I picked Ben’s book because it was so well written and the relationship between the main characters is so damn cute I couldn’t believe it. I loved them so much, I cannot wait to read the sequel! Zacriah is a well-rounded character that I was able to relate with and I felt his pain like it was my own. I generally have problems in connecting with male POV’s, but I absolutely loved being in Zacriah’s head. Hadrian was an absolute darling and I loved him so much! His attitudes and reactions to what was going on was so on point! Plus, he’s super-hot, so… These characters felt like people that I would know, people that would exist in real life and have a pint with. If I would have something to say is that I would’ve liked to know more about the other supporting characters, I felt that we only skimmed the surface with those.

THE PLOT

The plot was well done and although there were obvious tropes, the writing was well executed so I enjoyed my journey with these characters from start to finish. I enjoyed the twists and turns, the political intrigue and machinations of the royal court. I am not a huge fan of royal intrigue, but this story was so full of action and swoony romance that I didn’t care!

THE WRITING

Ben’s writing is lyrical and captivating. I struggled to remove my nose from the book because I kept on saying… ONE MORE CHAPTER! And then it was midnight and I was still reading, but I was hooked.

THE ENTERTAINMENT

It’s by no means a perfect story or perfectly well written or with perfect characters, but it entertained and hooked me to the pages! It held my hand like a very good friend and I can only love it for this, so thank you Ben for writing this story! Thank you for introducing me to the awesome world of LGBTQ+ and I can only feel ashamed with myself for not trying to read them any sooner…

Xoxo
Jane

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#BookReview: The rest of us live here… by Patrick Ness | What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

26371624“What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.”

I listened to the audiobook whilst driving for work and I loved it. I even laughed out loud, to myself, in the car… that good! It was really fun, loved the characters and the idea behind it. There were some moments when things lagged a bit or when a character pissed me off with an attitude that was left unchallenged, however overall it was really good. Loved the narrator too!

Characters
My favourite thing about this story was the characters; fully fleshed out, inherently flawed and definitely “not the chosen one”. For me, this story was all about the characters and their personal journey as they faced human hardships whilst the chosen ones battled another evil, the characters on the sideline that nobody thinks of. I really liked them all and how they challenged each other, however, there was a scene towards the end when Hannah played Mike a bit and she was not properly challenged for acting like that (saying one thing and doing another and vice versa). Headspin. Otherwise, Mike, Jared, Mel and Meredith were insanely fun to be around, and their relationships were complex and entirely human.

I liked how diverse the cast of characters was as well and dealing very realistically with issues such as anxiety, OCD, grief, alcoholism, traumatic events… It was also respectfully done in my opinion and challenged beliefs about OCD and anxiety, and that was brilliant!

World building
I loved it that the story happened in parallel to the story of the chosen one, and although they do cross paths occasionally, it is not part of the main plot whatsoever, and the characters actually do whatever they can, for the most part, to stay out of the way…

Writing style
I really liked the format of each chapter giving a brief summary of what the chosen ones were doing, then moving on the story that the rest of the people, the non-indie kids, were living.

Plot
I listened to it as an audiobook and I really enjoyed the format. On this occassion, I actually believe that the audiobook format helped with the enjoyment of the story!

Hook
The story hooked me right in because of the amazing cast of characters. I ended up looking forward to jumping in the car and going to another meeting because it meant that I could listen to the audiobook.

Enjoyment
I really enjoyed this story, and as I have already mentioned, I laughed out loud in my car whilst listening to it. The voice was really good and the narrator did a fabulous job with it. Funny enough, he reminded of the guy from Cinema Sins with his voice, and the way it poked fun at the chosen one, made it even more so.

I totally recommend this book, especially as an audiobook.

Xoxo
Jane

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#BookReview: Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

35530652Hi guys, a bit of a stranger one!

I’m going to write up my review for Grey Sister when I haven’t yet reviewed Red Sister, the first book in the series! Oups! I recently finished reading Grey Sister and I just need to get all of these awesome feelings off my chest.

Red Sister synopsis:

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

Genre:  Fiction
Year Of Publication: April 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Pages: 400
My rating:  5 stars

I loved the Red sister, but Grey Sister is out of this world amazing! Mark managed to PSX_20180731_191655.jpgcapture the dark atmosphere and bring it up to a whole new level. There is literally not a single bad word that I can say about this sequel. Definitely not suffering from middle book syndrome (why do I believe this is a trilogy? don’t know…).

All of the awesome characters from Red Sister take centre stage in this sequel and truly come alive. I remember being 100 pages in and struggling to put the book down because it was THAT GOOD! I also love Mark’s writing style, he has a unique voice and the ability to summon characters and settings to life, to make you care. I was also impressed by his ability to not only write about girls but also understand them. The world building and magic system are so well done it makes logical sense and drags you into the story and doesn’t let you leave.

As I’ve already said, there isn’t a thing that I can fault this book which is probably my favourite fantasy book of 2018 and of all time. There is no denying that Mark Lawrence is a god!

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Have you read Red sister and/or Grey Sister? What did you think? A few of my friends loved it, some of my friends didn’t, so feel free to share your comments. Reading is subjective and we’re all entitles to our opinions as long as they’re respectful!

Lots of love,

Jane

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