Features · Literary Lists

Literacy Lists: Contemporary Books (On My TBR)

Over the next few months I’ve decided to focus these lists on four different genres that I want to start reading more of. The first of those that I’d like to mention is contemporary which I used to love yet hardly seem to pick up anymore. Why? I honestly don’t know. There’s a lot of it on my TBR; I just never seem to get around to reading it. And I honestly don’t understand why as some of it sounds absolutely amazing. These aren’t necessarily the top ten contemporary novels and series that I want to read but they are all ones that are pretty high up on my TBR. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Hand

Let’s start this list off with something that I not only constantly hear about but which also sounds like it has the potential to be seriously sweet! The drama of these letters getting mailed really appeals to me and I’m super excited to pick these books up soon. They sound fabulous and I seriously hope that we get to read some of these letters during the book?

Sadie by Courtney Summers

I just know that this book is going to be a harrowing read at times. Not only is it by Courtney Summers but it’s about two sisters; one of them dead, the other who seems to have disappeared whilst searching for her. I love unraveling mystery stories so I know that I’ll love getting some answers whilst reading this book. I also know that books by this author tend to pack one hell of an emotional punch. But I’m ready for it…I think

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

I’m pretty sure that this book deals with OCD and anxiety and I’ve been kind of torn about reading it for a while as a result. On the one hand I want to read books featuring these things; on the other I’m always wary that the portrayal of them will let me down. I do seriously want to read this book though to see how Evie handles her struggles and to find out what makes this series, and author, so popular.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

This one sounds amazing although, again, I have the feeling that it has the potential to be another heart-breaker of a book. Still I’m desperate to get my hands on a copy of this and finally see what the stories like. The last line of the blurb, ‘ How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?’ is haunting. It’s another mystery that I want to unravel and already I feel for Claudia.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Yep it’s another book with the potential to break my heart. I think I’m sensing some kind of theme here? I’m not sure how I haven’t read this book yet as it’s been on my TBR for ages. I’d love to watch the show soon but I’m determined to read the book first as I’m fed up of my recent habit of seeing the film/television show before picking up the book. With thirteen reasons for her suicide I have a feeling that this book will put me through an emotional ringer. I’m still somewhat curious as to what pushes Hannah so far though.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

I’m honestly not sure what to expect from this book but I know that I desperately want to read it. The blurb is kind of vague – I imagine intentionally – but with it’s mentions of bad romances, intense friendship and murder I’m intrigued to say the least. Besides which how I resist a title like this one? Something about it just really appeals to me

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

You know how earlier on I said that I was fed up of seeing the film before reading the book? Yeah…I’ve seen the film but still need to read the book with this one. I didn’t want to miss my chance to see it in the cinema though and I honestly thought the film was amazing. So, considering the adaptation and people’s love of the book, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to adore this once I finally pick it up. Although it’s going to be another painful book at times. This is definitely an odd theme here.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I actually really like the sound of this but whilst writing this list up the Goodreads page for it worried me a little. I thought this was popular but maybe I was wrong as there seem to be a lot of low reviews there. But anyway I still want to read this book. I love the sound of these two characters with very different attitudes towards arranged marriage. I love the idea of them meeting at a summer program for aspiring web developers. And I’m hoping that the ‘opposites clash’ line means that maybe this will give me some enemies to lovers vibes?

A Semi-Definitive List Of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

I think this is a contemporary? Or is it magical realism? Now I’m unsure but this is staying here for now. Either way I definitely want to check this one out. It sounds like it has the potential to have a sweet side but also sounds super intriguing in other ways too. I love the idea of this deeply personal list getting taken from Esther and can’t wait to see how she tackles her fears. I also love the unusual curse that her family has. This is definitely one that I hope to read soon.

The Geography Of You And Me by Jennifer E. Smith

I started this list with a sweet sounding book so why not finish it off with one too? I absolutely adore the sound of this one! It seems like it will have the perfect ‘meet cute’ moment at the start which I’m really looking forward to. Then it’s going to contain long distance contact through postcards and emails (I love it when books include these sort of things). So basically I want this now! I hope this lives up to my expectations because at the moment they’re pretty high.

So those are ten of the contemporary books that I’d most like to read. I managed to get a few sweet sounding ones in there but I somehow still managed to include quite a few that I’m sure will try and tear my heart apart too. Oops. Do you have anymore suggestions for me? I’m always open to them; no matter how long my TBR becomes there will always be room on it for more books.

What’s a genre that you’d like to read more of? Have you read any of these books? What’s your favourite contemporary novel and/or author? Let me know in the comments section below (:


Book Review: The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Aster. Violet. Tansy. Mallow. Clementine.

Sold as children. Branded by cursed markings. Trapped in a life they never would have chosen.

When Aster’s sister Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge – in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by the land’s most vicious and powerful forces – both living and dead – their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive.

‘She hasn’t become a woman. She’d become a shade with bile for blood and a well of shame in her heart.

’From the very first page ‘The Good Luck Girls’ had me hooked with its wonderfully written, action packed beginning. This is a book that gets straight into the story and there’s pretty much always something going on. It’s a book with a mix of interesting characters and a setting that I ended up falling in love with. I honestly don’t know where to start with this review as there are so many elements to this book that I cherished.

Firstly though I guess I should mention the writing which I fell for pretty much immediately. There’s some truly stunning descriptions, comparisons and quotes within this book. Sometimes it was the message that the words painted that haunted me and sometimes simply the beauty of the writing itself. This is definitely an author’s whose future work I’d pick up based on the writing alone although that certainly wasn’t the only element of the story that I loved.

Another aspect of the book that I found wonderful was the world that Charlotte Nicole Davis created. I’m not sure exactly what I expected from this book in terms of setting but I was definitely delighted with what I received. There was a ‘wild west’ vibe to the surroundings and some of the antics within these pages but with glimmers of magic thrown in. There’s the ingenious cursed markings that brand all Good Luck Girls; the chilling Raveners who are beings that a person would be mad to cross and, what I possibly loved most of the three, various forms of the dead roaming the land. Even without these fantastical aspects I’m pretty sure I’d have devoured this book ravenously but they certainly added to the intrigue for me; I love exploring magical settings and loved how splendidly this book merged these aspects with its wild west setting.

The characters were ones that I felt drawn to, too. I loved each of the main characters of this novel and enjoyed getting to know them. Aster, as the point of view you receive, was the most developed but I felt that I got a sense of everyone’s character and learnt some fascinating history to everyone involved. My favourite character probably was Aster (I loved her fiery attitude) but I was fond of all the central characters regardless. I guess, looking back, that it would have been nice to have seen a little more of Mother Fleur, even if it was in the form of flashbacks. Still that’s simply due to my personal interest in learning more about villainous characters.

Altogether I certainly enjoyed this book and could quite happily pick it up again right now. I’m definitely eager for the second and can’t wait to see what happens next. There are questions that I have but not from lose ends as such; this story was tied up nicely, I’d just love to learn more. So overall I definitely recommend this book and am eagerly anticipating the next one.

Check out The Good Luck Girls on Goodreads here.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or just give me an excuse to gush about it) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


Book Review: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

‘Mamam wielded shame like an assassin wields a dagger, driving it straight into her victim’s heart. She would win; she always won. Isabelle knew that. How many times had she cut away parts of herself at her mother’s demand? The part that laughed too loudly. That rode too fast and jumped too high. The part that wished for a second helping, more gravy, a bigger slice of cake.
If I marry the prince, I will be a princess, Isabelle thought. And one day, a queen. And no one will dare call me ugly ever again.’

Stepsister is an absolute treasure of a book and I’m immensely happy to have read an advanced copy of it. This is my first time reading a book by Jennifer Donnelly (although I’ve been meaning to read her Tea Rose series for a while) but after this delightful novel I can say that it certainly won’t be my last.

The writing of this book is absolutely beautiful and all too easy to get lost within. The scenes are painted wonderfully and vividly although in this book the writing goes further than simply painting a picture; it captures the entire unique feel of a fairy tale perfectly. There are dark moments, heart-warming ones and, perhaps most importantly, ones that share a message with the reader. In general I don’t look too much for the messages that a book tries to share – I tend to simply get lost in the story – but in this case it’s hard not to pick up on the morals that it’s trying to share which, being a fairy tale retelling, is quite fitting. The messages that it tries to get across to the reader are important, inspiring and so beautifully written that a couple of times they left me speechless. Honestly the writing in this book was absolutely enthralling and so perfectly fitted to a fairy tale retelling.

A lot of the characters in this novel bewitched me almost as much as the writing. I warmed to Isabelle pretty much immediately and loved her fiery character immensely. Truthfully she’s the sort of central character that I love reading about – fierce, brave and not what she’s expected to be. I also liked the portrayal of her bookish sister and childhood friend, Felix. The version of the ‘fairy godmother’ in this story was interesting and suited the story perfectly. I think my favourite character though was the rather unexpected Chance whose scenes I was always delighted to read. Events around him could get a little far-fetched at times but given who – and what – he is that seemed utterly fitting in my opinion and I absolutely adored seeing what he and his travelling companions were up to. Chance stole my heart, just like this novel did in general.

The story itself was fascinating and a pure delight to get lost within. It felt like everything that a fairy tale should be and Isabelle’s ‘quest’ was exciting to follow her on. I loved the ingenuity of her gifts from Tanaquill and her efforts to regain the pieces of her heart. There were a couple of flashbacks to her past – which I was admittedly hoping for as this story’s set after Cinderella – and each of them was painted so perfectly and quite vital to understanding Isabelle and how she came to be how she was. As I said earlier I also greatly enjoyed each and every one of Chance’s scenes. Fate’s were interesting to read too and I felt that including her and Chance added a rather unique spin to the story.

Altogether I would definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading it again sometime in the future. I’ll definitely pick up some more of Jennifer Donnelly’s books soon too. I’m also deeply hoping that the Epilogue to this book means that some of these characters could get seen again in the future as I’d absolutely adore the opportunity to follow in their footsteps again. Here’s hoping that I’ll get my desire but even if I don’t I’ll be sure to pick up whatever Jennifer Donnelly writes next.

Check Stepsister out on Goodreads here.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or just give me an excuse to gush about it) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but in fact, she’s one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. Varin runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

‘They were there. Everywhere – the images. The crowns. Faces. Faces I knew all too well. Faces I’d seen many times on the Queenly Reports. They were there. All of them. All four queens – dead. Behind my lids. Inside my head.
How do you hide from your own mind?
Get out, get out, get out!’

Lately I’ve been struggling with my reading a little; despite desperately wanting to do it I somehow convinced myself that I couldn’t concentrate. Then, when I finally got going, I ended up not enjoying another book as much as I’d been expecting to which made me rather wary about picking up another of my most anticipated books of the year in case the same thing happened. I’m glad that I still went ahead and picked up Four Dead Queens however as I think that was exactly what I needed. This book managed to capture my attention, draw me into its world and push aside my worries that reading had somehow become mechanical for me. It’s such an easy story to get lost inside of with lots of drama, secrets, twists and turns to keep a reader glued to its pages.

I think my favourite aspect of ‘Four Dead Queens’ was probably the world that it was set within. I found each of the four quadrants fascinating to learn about and felt that they each contrasted one another greatly. Admittedly some of the quadrants I’d have liked to see a little more of but the ideas behind them all were intriguing. One of the quadrants in particular haunted me with its rules, teachings and customs (it could have had an entire dystopian novel set within its borders). Much of the ‘Queenly Law’ that you learn at the start of the novel was also quite chilling in some ways, painting a world where it’s rulers were trapped in gilded cages by tradition.

Many of the characters within the novel captured my attention and drew me into their stories. I loved getting to see a little bit of the Queens’ thoughts and feelings, although personally would have liked to have seen a little more of Queen Iris. The main two characters – Keralie and Varin- were both interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each of them over the course of the story. Keralie had a compelling attitude and well painted past to her character which was deeply intriguing to delve into whilst learning about Varin was almost heartbreaking at times. Mackiel was another character that greatly interested me and I was quite excited to see what would happen next whenever he appeared on the pages. I think the character whose thoughts I was most enthralled with learning about was Arebella’s however; her way of thinking was quite unusual and I’d have loved a couple more scenes with her.

I also quite enjoyed the somewhat unusual way that the story was told with its odd feeling timeline and focus on several points of view. I know that there are some people that aren’t fond of books with multiple points of view but I generally quite enjoy them and, in this case, thought it worked wonderfully. Uncovering some of the truths as to what was happening within the palace from the Queens’ points of views gave the story a lot more emotional depth than I think it would have achieved if the Inspector had simply uncovered everyone’s secrets without seeing the thoughts, emotions and perspectives of those involved. Thanks to the way that the story was written I actually found it incredibly heartbreaking at times.

There were also a lot of different twists and turns throughout this story, many of which caught me off guard. I did, frustratingly, figure out who the assassin was before it was revealed but that didn’t particularly detract from the story for me, mostly because although I thought of the possibility I was hoping I was wrong and did find myself questioning whether I was right at times.

The only reason that I’m giving this book four and a half stars rather than five is because I felt that certain things happened too easily/were accepted too swiftly towards the end of the novel. I felt that one of the revelations could have used a bit more emotional turmoil and probably also a little more conflict initially; both of which probably could have been achieved if it had been written over a few more chapters than it was. I also felt that Mackiel lost his edge a little bit at the same time. The ending did tie things up fairly nicely however on the whole and the entire novel was still a pleasure to read.

Overall I recommend this novel and look forward to picking up Astrid Scholte’s next book, whatever that will be. Honestly I’d absolutely love it if she ever decided to write a few short stories set within this world, giving readers a chance to see more of each and every one of the quadrants, especially if some of those stories showed a bit more of the Queens and the various secrets that were revealed over the course of this novel. Quadara was a joy to explore.

Check Four Dead Queens out on Goodreads here.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or just give me an excuse to gush about it) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


Book Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

‘That’s why it’s so important that the Watchers remain. In a world remade again and again, where the rules keep changing, where a Chosen One becomes Chosen Many, where magic disappears, where the old ways are broken, we are the one constant.
We still keep watch.’

There are a lot of novels that I’m deeply looking forward to this year but Slayer was definitely one of the top ones and giving it anything less than five stars is actually quite difficult to do. I honestly thought that this was going to be one of my top books of the year – not only is it new Buffy but it’s also by Kiersten White, after all – but for me something was missing, as much as it pains me to say so.

Starting with the positive however, I can quite easily and honestly say that this book managed to capture the overall feel and humour of Buffy quite spectacularly. If there was anything that worried me about this novel, it was that it wouldn’t have that ‘Buffy feel’ to it, but somehow it did. Right from the start it emulated the feel of the show with its mention of prophecies and the rather snide remarks about demons and their love of Latin.

‘Of all the awful things demons do, keeping Latin alive when it deserves to be a dead language might be the worst.’

That right there is a quote that wouldn’t feel out of place being spoken by one of members of the ‘Scooby Gang’ and similar comments with that same Buffy feel followed throughout. There were also ties to the show and mentions of past events to further help paint the picture of the universe that this novel is set within. Reading this novel it seemed fairly obvious to me that the author must have loved the show greatly and I’m glad that she was chosen to write it. I honestly can’t believe how spot on the tone of some of the dialogue was.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people seemed to have an issue with Artemis’s hatred of Buffy, but considering what her family had been through I found it perfectly understandable. She lost her father, and the organisation that she grew up in, to Buffy in some ways so her feelings seemed spot on to me. What I did find, towards the end, was that her feelings switched to the positive a little too quickly. I understand how being a Slayer herself would change things but it just seemed too instantaneous for me. Although, that being said, the scene where that happened was incredibly touching for me and quite splendidly written. I just loved the heart to heart that she had with Buffy and can’t believe how wonderfully the author managed to capture such an iconic character’s personality. That scene with Buffy really made me melt inside; I just wish that there had been a bit more of a build up of her feelings softening towards her before then.

I loved reading the points of view of the Hunter that were dotted throughout the novel and can quite honestly say that I didn’t see the reveal of who she was coming. These, again, I thought were splendidly written and I was always eager to see what the next scene from their point of view would bring.

There were several characters that I quite liked although a few others that I wasn’t really a fan of. One of the things that I loved was that Artemis was a Slayer who wanted to heal things, not hurt them; I really felt that it bought a different perspective to things. I found her friend Cillian quite interesting too, as well as several of her other companions. Her relationship with her mother and sister were also both interesting to learn about. I did feel that Athena turned against her a bit too quickly at times however.

As I said earlier there was something missing for me in this novel however, although I really am struggling to put my finger on exactly what it was. I think part of it was that at times I thought there was a little bit too much conversation happening between Artemis and the demons that she encountered during this novel. Yes I liked that she wanted to heal others, not harm them in general but I felt that some of the demons that she encountered surely wouldn’t have just happily discussed things with her; more of them would have tried to fight. I know that in Buffy she was always making witty remarks with demons but that was usually whilst she was kicking their arse. I also feel like maybe the overall tone of the novel was a little too light and younger than I was expecting. Although it caught the feel of Buffy really well, particularly the humour, I felt that it needed a bit more grit.

Overall if it was any other novel I’d probably have given it three stars, not four, as something just didn’t click for me. If it was a little darker and more grown up then maybe it would have been perfect – as I think that’s what felt off to me – but as it stood I found the story fairly interesting but the overall effect somewhat average. Slayer got an extra star for how superbly it captured most of the Buffy feel however, as well as for the Hunter scenes which were a pleasure to read and the beautiful heart to heart with Buffy. I’m still looking forward to reading the next novel, I just really hope it clicks better for me as I love Buffy and some of Kiersten White’s other work so much.

Check Slayer out on Goodreads here.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or in this case also BTVS) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


Book Review: Spellbook Of The Lost And Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . 

‘That night, everybody lost something.
                Not everybody noticed.’

When I first picked up ‘The Spellbook Of The Lost And Found’, I was drawn into the story pretty much immediately; the writing was beautiful and the mood so perfectly set within it’s opening that I was deeply intrigued and longed to learn more. Throughout I continued to want to learn exactly what was happening but, at the same time, I increasingly found myself thinking that things were getting much, much too strange and ultimately went from loving the book to finding it fairly average, which frustrated me.

The writing of this novel stayed beautiful and somewhat haunting throughout. It painted things so lyrically and for the most part I loved the author’s actual writing. The diary extracts that were dotted throughout were fascinating to read, as were all of the points of view. The one fault I had with it was that at times I thought certain metaphors were pushed just a bit too far although other than that the writing was divine.

Although I enjoyed reading everyone’s point of view I didn’t feel particularly connected to any of the characters within this novel. Some of them intrigued me – especially the mysterious Jude – and I did feel sorry for others at times but I didn’t find myself caring for them as deeply as I often do when reading a book. I think the instant fascination with the unusual trio living in the woods felt a little strange to me, which didn’t particularly help.

I honestly thought I’d really enjoy a story where things are mysteriously being lost and found; I knew to expect strange events that defied logic and usually love magical stories. Instead of feeling magical this story just felt increasingly bizarre to me though. There were quite a few scenes that I read and came away from thinking ‘well that was odd’ rather than being hooked and intrigued as I’d have expected. There was just something very strange feeling to the entire story for me, which I find really frustrating as I honestly thought I’d find it wonderful. There seemed to be a lot of elements within this book for a fascinating story – especially with the mysterious and hypnotic Jude and the girls who were enthralled by him – but for me something just didn’t click. Although it needs to be said that there were also a few heart wrenching scenes involved which are worthy of note.

Altogether I started out by loving ‘The Spellbook Of The Lost And Found’ but quickly found myself losing interest as I instead increasingly found myself remarking upon the weirdness of certain scenes. I didn’t end up getting particularly fed up of it but I gradually lost my desire to find out what was going on so I ultimately found it to be a fairly average book despite the wonderful writing. I’m still looking forward to checking out The Accident Season sometime; I’m just not in quite as great a rush to do so.

Check Spellbook Of The Lost And Found out on Goodreads here.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail or share their opinions of it then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Firstly I just want to thank Readers First for my copy of ‘The Wicked King’ and also apologize, once again, for my review being so late due to illness. Thanks again for being so understanding.

  ‘Fighting was chess, anticipating the move of one’s opponent and countering it before one got hit.
        But it was chess played with the whole body. Chess that left her bruised and tired and frustrated with the whole world and with herself, too.’

The Wicked King picks up several months on from where The Cruel Prince left off, following Jude as she struggles to keep hold of the power that she managed to scheme her way into. Betrayal after betrayal tugged and tore at my heartstrings, whilst more shocking twists and turns left me racing through Holly Black’s beautiful words, eager to see what would happen next. It was a dark and often heart wrenching joy to dive back into Holly Black’s world of Faery with its intoxicating cruelty and savage allure. 

Once again I felt that Holly Black managed to perfectly capture just how dark, devious and brutal Faery can be whilst also showing how mortals are helplessly drawn in by it. Truthfully I think it’s a hard balance for an author to find – beauty, desire, fear and danger, merging so seamlessly – yet this author does it exquisitely. The world is addictive whilst the plot is ripe with twists, turns, shocks and action that makes it impossible to tear your eyes from the page. 

Predicting what any one of the many characters will do is probably as hard as striking up a deal in Elfhame that favors a mortal but they always still act in a way that fits what is previously established of them. Jude has to be one of the most brutal protagonists that I’ve ever come across but her actions are quite understandable when you see the level of fear that she’s been raised in. It’s fascinating to see her try and juggle everything, not knowing who to trust or where to turn; especially when her own feelings start to torment her too. Cardan frequently surprised me throughout this book, his drunken antics as High King probably being the least unexpected of his actions whilst several members of Jude’s Court Of Shadows managed to worm their way into my heart. I’m not going to say too much else about individuals as I want to avoid spoilers but what I will say is this: guard your heart. Certain characters managed to break mine once more whilst others startled me in new and unexpected ways. 

Altogether I can easily say that I highly recommend this book. It’s got to be one of the best takes on Faeries that I’ve ever came across and is easy to get sucked fully into. Pick up this book, you won’t regret it; although the wait for book three will surely be trying. 

Check The Wicked King out on Goodreads here.

If you enjoyed The Wicked King I also recommend: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or just give me an excuse to gush about it) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


Book Review: The Lost Sisters by Holly Black

Sometimes the difference between a love story and a horror story is where the ending comes . . . 

While Jude fought for power in the Court of Elfhame against the cruel Prince Cardan, her sister Taryn began to fall in love with the trickster, Locke. 

Half-apology and half-explanation, it turns out that Taryn has some secrets of her own to reveal.

‘Be bold, be bold, but not too bold.
        It’s important that we learn the lessons our mother didn’t.

After the end of The Cruel Prince I’ve got to admit that I really wasn’t a fan of Taryn, although that’s not to say that I wasn’t interested by her character. Reading about her is fascinating but, if forced to think of her on an emotional level, I find her pretty unlikable thanks to previous actions. The opportunity to learn more about those actions, and see her point of view on certain events, intrigued me to no end however, so naturally I picked up this story. Although, regardless of character, I’m pretty sure I’d take any chance to delve back into Elfhame and Holly Black’s marvellous writing.

This short story got off to a dark and horrifying start, with Taryn telling a twisted tale that is sure to draw most readers in. It was brutal to say the least; but it definitely left me eager for more. From there the fairy tale feel of this story carried on throughout, something that seemed to fit quite well considering both Taryn’s and Locke’s love of stories. I learnt more about both of those characters in this novella although I can’t say that I’ve warmed much to either. They fascinate me regardless however and I look forward to seeing what they’ll both do next.

So yes I recommend this novella to anyone whose read The Cruel Prince but definitely also suggest reading The Cruel Prince first due to spoilers. I’ve also got to say that, short as this was, I’d still love to read other novellas set within this world and follow other – or the same – characters. I just find all things Elfhame one hundred percent addictive.

Check The Lost Sisters out on Goodreads here.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or just give me an excuse to gush about it) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.


Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. 

Nicasia’s wrong about me. I don’t desire to do as well in the tournament as one of the fey. I want to win. I do not yearn to be their equal.
        In my heart, I yearn to best them.’

This book is amazing; I honestly don’t think that I can recommend it enough. Admittedly it was one of the books that I was most looking forward to reading in 2018 but sometimes having high expectations can leave you disappointed. With this book that definitely wasn’t the case however; I loved every moment of it.

The world that The Cruel Prince is set within is just perfect. It manages to merge both the mortal and Faerie realm well and jumps straight into the action from the very first page. There’s a vast range of characters within it, with varying personalities and attitudes, many of which surprised me at one point or another. I found myself warming to unexpected characters and turning against others that I wouldn’t have initially imagined. I love that Jude isn’t your typical central character either. She’s tough and has a very hard shell, to be perfectly honest she’s rather brutal at times, but the reasons for how she is are explained and understandable. Hearing the story from her point of view definitely keeps you on your toes. Everybody was well written and the variety of different faeries, who are all so vividly described, is fantastic. There were twists and turns throughout and I constantly found myself with a desperate need to know what would happen next. 

I think my favourite thing about this book is the way that the faeries in it are portrayed though. Many of the ‘rules’ that I’ve previously read about were mentioned, along with Faery food and bargains with stings in their tails. The fae themselves were just perfect; beautiful and alluring yet dark and deadly, intoxicating and cruel but in such a way that others find it hard to stay away. There’s just something so compelling about the twisted world of Faery and the dark, manipulative beings that live within it and Holly Black’s take on it was an addictive joy to read. The wait for book two will certainly be a hard one.

Check The Cruel Prince out on Goodreads here.

I strive to keep my reviews completely spoiler free but if anyone wants to discuss anything about the book in more detail (or just give me an excuse to gush about it) then feel free to contact me in the comment section below.