11 February 2020

Retelling Challenge

As you probably know if you've been following me a while, I love getting involved in reading challenges. It's fun matching books to different prompts or themes, discussing your reading with others doing the challenge and best of all it's an incentive to increase my reading.

One of the challenges I'm really excited about this year is the 2020 Retellings Reading Challenge run by Cornerfolds. Any retellings count towards your goal but to make it even more fun there's a bingo board to go with the challenge, with 24 prompts and one free square.

Here are a few of the books I've matched to prompts:

Mulan - Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim
Author Duo - A Crown of Talons by Katharine Corr & Elizabeth Corr
POC Author - Cinder & the Prince of Midnight by Susan Ee
Sherlock Holmes - The Holborn Toy Shop and other Stories by Maurice Barkley
German Myth/Fairy Tale - The Sisters Grimm by Menna Van Praag
Sirens or Mermaids - The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill

There are 5 challenge levels and I am attempting the hardest one, Fairest of Them All: 21-25 books. So far I've read 4 books for the challenge, 3 of which actually fit the bingo prompts. 

If you want to get involved just click here to go to the Challenge page and sign up. I'd love to know what you'll be reading. Do you have any favourite retellings? Are you attempting any reading challenges? Let me know in the comments.

25 January 2020

The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor) - Jessica Townsend

Step boldly...

Morrigan is a cursed child and will die on Eventide, the last night of the Age. Unfortunately for her, this Age unexpectedly ends after just 11 years, instead of the usual 12 and before she knows it, the hunt is after her. But instead of dying, she is whisked away to Nevermoor. Here Morrigan thinks she is finally safe, until she finds out about the 4 impossible trials she will need to pass before she can stay.

I loved this book so much and I am so glad I squeezed it in to December's Believe in the Impossible Readathon. This is one of the books which really stuck in my mind. It's also probably the one that everyone was most excited for me to read so I think it deserved it's own post.

The hotel that Morrigan's saviour, Jupiter North takes her to is a mix of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and Wonderland. There is so much wonderful magic in this world! I love the idea of travelling by umbrella, floating down from rooftops and taking the Brolly Rail. I can't wait to read more and I'm really looking forward to the next Nevermoor book, Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow. Book 3 is out August this year too!

To create the Morrigan in Wunderland, I adapted a shot* into a long drink. In a tall glass full of ice, pour in a shot of triple sec and half shot of tequila. Lengthen with lemonade, give it a stir and enjoy!

*Alice in Wonderland

13 January 2020

My 2019 Year of Reading

I'm starting the year with a look back at my reading for 2019, which was a great year for me! I managed to read 226 books, beating my Goodreads target of 200 by a very respectable amount. That was nearly 67,000 pages, with Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) as my longest book at 827 pages! My average rating was 3.8 stars and I rated 46 books as 5 stars.

With so many 5 star books it is incredibly hard to choose but here are just ten of my favourites from last year:

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Circe by Madeline Miller
Emily Eternal by M.G. Wheaton
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine
The Wicked King by Holly Black
The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell
Book Love by Debbie Tung 

Last year I also took part in a few different challenges and readathons. One of them was Beat the Backlist and part of my personal challenge was for at least 25% of my reading to be from my backlist - books I already had on my shelves and in my TBR. I kind of lost track after a while but I have definitely gone way beyond. I am hoping to do even better this year by committing to clear my TBR shelves (impossible) and resist new books as much as I can (also impossible).

Getting involved in readathons and challenges is a great motivation to read more so I'm looking out for any new ones this year. Two that caught my eye so far are the A to Z challenge and Retellings challenge. I love having prompts to encourage me to go through my current books.

How many books did you read last year and which was your favourite? Let me know if you have any bookish commitments and aspirations you already know you won't keep.

24 December 2019

A Throne of Swans - Katherine & Elizabeth Corr

The flighted rule, and the flightless are little more than servants. Now that Aderyn's father has died, leaving her as protector of Atratys, if anyone discovered she has lost her ability to fly she would lose her dominion and everything her father worked for. After being kept at home ever since her mother's death, now she decides it is time to go to court and see more of the world. But she has no idea of the dangers she will have to face. 

No one in the book was was really what they seemed, nearly all the characters had hidden depths to them. Either appearing soft, simple, or arrogant but often turning out completely differently. I feel like I was doubting everyone, any time Aderyn decided to trust someone I thought they would betray her so I was on the edge of my seat through most of the book. 

I could not stop thinking about this book and it's characters every time I put the book down. I want to know more about Aderyn's father and his motivations. I feel like his character was left quite unfinished. I was so relieved that there was a satisfying ending, I was terrified of being left hanging, Now I am desperate to get my hands on book two which already has a name, A Crown of Talons. If that doesn't sound intriguing I don't know what does!

Thanks to Hot Key Books I was lucky enough to be invited to the bloggers brunch to meet the authors and I had the best time! We got to ask all our questions and learned quite a lot about Katherine & Elizabeth, the book and their writing. The book was inspired by Swan Lake and wanting to work through the black swan's motivations. Lots of the names in the book are clues to the type of bird the family turns into such as Hawkin and Swifting. For Katherine, Aderyn was the hardest character to write while Elizabeth found Lucien more difficult. Tons of research goes into the books, including visits to National Trust buildings and deciding all sorts of things about their characters, such as their birthdays. Most of which doesn't even make it into the book but helps with the writing process. But the most important thing is not to ask them about corridors!

The perfect cocktail to sip on while reading is the Last Flight. In a shaker with ice, mix together 2/3 shot of each of these ingredients: bourbon, green chartreuse, aperol and lemon juice.

9 December 2019

Believe in the Impossible Readathon (part 2)

I really enjoyed taking part in the Believe in the Impossible Readathon and managed to read the group book, all 10 prompts, plus an additional 4 books. 15 books... I'm so proud of myself! It was so much fun and I loved sharing my reading with friends and everyone else taking part in Believathon. I'm also grateful to have had the push to read so many great books, I probably wouldn't have got through all of these otherwise.

These are the books I chose for each prompt and any additional prompts the books cover: 

Group book - Frostheart by Jamie Littler
A strong sense of friendship - Cookie! ...and the Most Annoying Boy in the World by Konnie Huq 
Re-read your personal childhood favourite - Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr (also friendship, atmospheric/creepy, past)
Featuring an animal character - Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
A classic - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (also magic, animal)
Featuring magic - Tilly and the Lost Fairytales by Anna James (also friendship)
Featuring a myth or legend - The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan (also friendship)
Atmospheric or creepy - Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab (also friendship, past)
Seasonal - Father Christmas’s Fake Beard by Terry Pratchett
Real life issues - Deenie by Judy Blume (also friendship, past)
Set in the past - Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens (also friendship)

I also had time to squeeze in these additional books:

The Worst Witch Saves the Day by Jill Murphy (magic, friendship, animal)
The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (magic, friendship, seasonal, myth/legend)
Seven Ghosts by Chris Priestley (atmospheric/creepy, past)
The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell (real life issues, friendship, past)

Here are some short reviews for just a few of the books, I've reviewed all of them on Goodreads if you're interested in any of the others:

Frostheart by Jamie Littler
Ash's parents are pathfinders and left the stronghold on a mission when he was a child, but they never returned. He's sure they are still alive somewhere and has never given up hope that he would see them again. All his life he's been hiding his urge to sing, as Song Weavers are feared and reviled, despite having the power to fight back against the monsters that attack them every time anyone leaves the town.
I enjoyed the book but it didn't really keep me gripped until the last few chapters when I didn't want to put it down! I really wanted to find out what would happen to Ash but found it hard to stay in the book at times. I loved the illustrations and the characters.

Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr
When Marianne gets ill and confined to bed rest, she discovers a magic pencil. Whatever she draws, appears in her dreams that night. But is she creating her dreams or is there more to it than that?
I was so happy to find I still enjoyed this book after so many years, though the language was a little old fashioned. Not disappointing even after so much time.

Tilly and the Lost Fairytales by Anna James
Something or someone is messing with fairy tales. As Tilly's grandparents warn her, fairy tales have always been a bit unstable, but now characters are getting mixed up and different versions are blending into each other. Nothingness and plot holes are spreading while book magic leaks out. Tilly feels like it is up to her to find the cause and discover what Melville Underwood, the mysterious new Head Librarian, is up to.
I enjoyed book 1 but felt like it was mostly scene-setting, this second book had a lot more substance and I really got immersed in the adventures. I love the idea of bookwandering, it would be such a wonderful thing to do. My only complaint is that I thought I had a few pages left of the book and it suddenly ended with a cliffhanger!

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell
When Vita finds out her grandfather has been tricked out of his beloved castle, she is determined to do something, anything to help. But going against Victor Sorrotore is a terrifying prospect and Vita needs to recruit some very talented people to help her.
The writing is wonderful and there are some very clever twists in the story. I am so glad I got to read this book, it deserves all the wonderful reviews and awards it has had.

Just a very simple drink today. Vita's emerald necklace in The Good Thieves had me craving a shot of lovely emerald green Apple sourz on ice. If you want a longer drink, it does taste good with a little tonic too!