Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Book Review: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Title: 99 Percent Mine
Author: Sally Thorne
Publication Date: January 29th 2019

Synopsis: "Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach...

Darcy Barrett found her dream man at age eight - ever since, she's had to learn to settle for good enough. Having conducted a global survey of men, she can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that he's her twin brother's best friend - oh, and that 99 percent of the time, he hasn't seemed interested in her.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they're left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon a the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom's arrived, he's bearing power tools, and he's single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy's considering sticking around - just to make sure her twin doesn't ruin the cottage's inherent magic with his penchant for chrome. She's definitely not staying because of her new business partner's tight t-shirts. But sparks start to fly - and not just because of the faulty wiring. Soon, a one percent chance with Tom is no longer enough. This time around, Darcy's switching things up. She's going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

My thoughts: Okay, up front, I have not read Sally Thorne's debut novel The Hating Game, but, after reading this, I am definitely going to remedy that. I really enjoyed 99 Percent Mine. I found it such a wonderfully quick read and, unlike a lot of other romance novels that I have read, it was so much more character-driven than sex-driven (hey! no shade on the sex-driven! I just sometimes want a little plot, you know?).

It helps that Darcy, our main character, is super strong, knows what she wants, and is super driven. She doesn't need rescuing (although she does have some issues with accepting help, which I identified with), and she does pull guys up when they're being stupid. Tom Valeska is incredibly respectful and, while there are some demonstrations of the whole 'cave-man domination' stereotype occasionally, I didn't feel like it was overdone, and it was always clear when Darcy was cool with what was happening and when she wasn't.

There's a lot about respect in here, as well as the concept of 'ownership' of a person. Family is a strong plot point at times, and I liked how the book explored these themes whilst also not letting up on the tension and history between the main couple. A couple of things didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but mostly I was taken along with the story and read most of this in one sitting - it was that good. I actually think I may have to re-read this soon, as it just really dragged me back from falling into a deep reading slump.

If you're into romance with a side of sass, I'd give this one a go. I will definitely be reading Sally Thorne's first book, and any others she puts out.

{I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: '"Maybe she didn't want to when I was there."
Because I'd probably plunder and stab and burn. I'd watch from a hillside as her village burned to the ground, the flames crackling in my Viking eyes.'

You would like this book if: you like your romance with a decent plot and interesting characters; you like your sass with a side of sexy-fun-times.

Tea to drink while reading this book: There's no time to drink tea, must keep reading.

Rating:  7/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

READING || January 2019

books read:
~ If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
~ Frida Kahlo by Zena Alkayat
~ From Here to Eternity: Travelling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
~ The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1) by Jenn Lyons (review)
~ Blackbird Song by Randy Lundy (review)
~ The Empath's Survival Guide by Judith Orloff
~ The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1) by Roshani Chokshi (review)
~ White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri (review)
~ The Way Home: Tales from a Life Without Technology by Mark Boyle
~ Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegle
~ Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
~ Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard
~ Sightwitch (The Witchlands #2.5) by Susan Dennard

currently reading:
~ Bloodwitch (The Witchlands #3) by Susan Dennard (review)
~ Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2) by S. A. Chakraborty
~ On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (review)

Phew. Okay. I have a reason for why this post is a bit late (aside from the usual "Chronic Illness is Stupid And Messes With All Your Plans"): I had planned on filming a video and putting my wrap-up on my YouTube channel. But, see, Chronic Illness Is Stupid... etc. So I kept meaning to do it and just never was able to. I might still manage it, but for now let's go old school with the blog post wrap-up and feel good about ourselves, mmkay?

Anyway, pretty good reading month! I read a lot of pretty interesting and fantastic things. If you watched my video over on my channel, you'll know that I really only have two main goals for my reading at the moment: 1) treat myself to at least one book a month, and 2) read at least two nonfiction per month. Well I knocked both of those out of the park. I preordered Kingdom of Copper in January - it arrived yesterday and I am loving it already! - as well as buying six books secondhand. *pats self on the back* As for nonfiction? I read five nonfiction this month. And I pretty much enjoyed all of them, so that's an extra win! So I'm pretty pleased with that and hoping to keep the momentum going.

On to stand-out reads! This month had quite a few books that I was mostly just okay about, but quite a few really great ones, too. The ones I really want to gush about are: White Stag by Kara Barbieri - this one sounded pretty good, and then I started reading and could not put it down. I really just want the next book now... Also The Way Home by Mark Boyle was right up my alley - living in the country, working the land, talking about social media and its impact on mental health? Yes, please.

Also, all of the Witchlands books have been really great reads. I am currently reading Bloodwitch and finding it so fantastic but also kind of stressful because THE STAKES ARE SO BIBBLING HIGH *cough* but I digress. These books are just wonderful fantasy to get lost in, and that's really my favourite kind. I don't know how I am going to go with the rest of this one, and how I'm going to wait for the next one, but I am pretty excited that another two books are on the docket. Yay.

What are you guys reading? Have you preordered anything? Comment down belowwww.

Love to all who read.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Book Review: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Title: The Ruin of Kings
Author: Jenn Lyons
Series: A Chorus of Dragons #1
Publication Date: 5th February 2019

Synopsis: "What if you weren't the hero?
Kihrin grew up on tales of long-lost princes and grand quests - despite being raised in a brothel, making money as a musician and street thief. One day he overreaches by targeting an absent noble's mansion, hunting for jewels. There he witnesses a prince performing a terrifying dark-magic ritual. Kihrin flees but he's marked by a demon and his life will never be the same again.

That night also leads to him being claimed as a lost son of that prince's royal house. But far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family's power plays and ambitions. He must also discover why his murderous father finds Kihrin more valuable alive than dead. Soon Kihrin attempts to escape his relative's dangerous schemes, but finds himself in far deeper waters.

He becomes tangled in a plot to kill the Emperor, rob the Imperial vaults, claim a god-slaying sword and free bound demons to wreak havoc across the land. Kihrin also discovers the old tales lied about many things: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love - and the hero always winning. But maybe Kihrin isn't fated to save the empire. He's destined to destroy it.

My thoughts: Wow, this one was a ride and a half. I know some people like to write down names and family lines for epic fantasy books, and this one definitely made me understand why. I was quite tempted to do it myself. There are so many characters here aside from Kihrin, that I had trouble keeping them straight at times. However, it was still an absolutely gripping story that I found myself wanting to remember everyone properly, and I think that's a good sign.

This book has an incredibly interesting tale to tell - and it's not just told from Kihrin's perspective, so we get a much more nuanced and deeper understanding of what is actually happening and why. There is just so much scope here, and I am incredibly surprised at how much Jenn Lyons has managed to squeeze in here - there are even dragons in here! While the book is quite long, I never actually really felt like it dragged out at all - every chapter was necessary, every little speech told a little something more about the secrets being kept and the questions that needed to be answered.

And the characters!! Kihrin is really interesting, and his fellow storyteller is even more fascinating. There are demonic characters who seem to revel in the pain they cause (bit of a trigger warning here for physical, mental, and sexual abuse), and there are characters just struggling through and trying to do the right thing. There are beings that have existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, and there are those whose lives are short but full of drama. Honestly, I finished this book a while ago and I am still thinking about how certain characters fit into the great big puzzle of The Ruin of Kings - and wondering where Lyons is going to take them next (I fear for my favourites!).

Whilst I didn't absolutely fall head-over-heels in love with this book, I still think it is a really strong start to a series, and I can't wait to see where the story goes next. I highly recommend to those who enjoy epic fantasy with a character list as long as your arm.

{I received a review copy of this book from Pan Macmillan. Thank you!!!}

A favourite line from the book: 'When they brought me up to the auction block, I looked out over the crowd and thought: I would kill you if I had a knife.
And if I wasn't naked, I amended.
And shackled.'

You would like this book if: You like huge-cast, epic fantasy; you want to disappear completely into another world with intense imagination and lore.

Tea to drink while reading this book: blood of your enemies? *cough* I mean... something strong. Dark like your soul.

Rating:  8/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Book Review: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Title: White Stag
Author: Kara Barbieri
Series: Permafrost #1
Publication Date: January 8th 2019

Synopsis: "The heart of a human.
The mind of a monster.
One destiny caught between two worlds.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke - the only survivor - was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke's survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King's death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows that a little humanity isn't bad - especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke's loyalty to Soren deepens even as she tries to fight her growing attraction to him. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling."

My thoughts: I was really not expecting to love this book as much as I did. The synopsis sounded good, but I had no experience of this story beforehand, so it seemed like it would be a fun romp, and we definitely need more Goblin books in the world.

And then I started reading, and it was kind of hard to stop?

Janneke is such a fascinating, flawed, and strong character - her dry sense of humour and sarcasm was absolutely fantastic and made me love her even more, and that made me feel everything she went through so much more. Soren is also brilliantly written, and you really feel the character development that both of them go through during the course of the story.

And this story is absolutely brilliant - Barbieri has stitched together a beautiful and brutal tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way through, and is so deep and rich in world-building, scenery, and emotion. I was taken aback by how quickly I fell in love with the characters in this and desperately wanted to know what happened next.

Occasionally I found myself frustrated with some of the writing, but the majority of the time I was enchanted. The frustrations, I think, were only due to this being Barbieri's first book, and I have no doubt that her writing will continue to grow and become even more lyrical and immersive over time. I think this one is definitely a new favourite, and I would like the next book as soon as possible, please, thank you.

{I received a review copy of this book from Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!!}

A favourite line from the book: '"Don't look so excited. Someone might get the wrong idea."
He raised a fine white eyebrow at me. "I don't look excited. I'm scowling."
I bit back a sigh. "It's sarcasm."
"I've told you before, I don't understand it," he said.'

You would like this book if: like Goblin stories and think there need to be more of them? like a pretty damn slow-build romance? strong female characters with their own minds and wicked archery skills, too? I would recommend.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Hmmm. Tea would be good in the Permafrost, I think. Russian Caravan for a bit of smokiness, I think!

Rating:  9/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Book Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Gilded Wolves
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Publication Date: January 15th 2019

Synopsis: "Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Severin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Severin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artefact the Order seeks, Severin will need help from a band of experts:

An engineer with a debt to pay.
A historian who can't yet go home.
A dancer with a sinister past.
And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they'll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artefact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive."

My thoughts: I mean, you just have to read the synopsis above to get even a little bit intrigued, really. At least, for me, I was completely drawn in the first time I read that description last year and realised that I was going to be waiting for this release with barely-bated breath.

And it did not disappoint.

This is a fiery, fast read, with puzzles being solved, relationships going rocky and fulfilling all the angsty-romance desires your heart could hold, and of course action scenes where people nearly die, because what would a heist book be without those?

I have to say that the story was really interesting, but the characters were what kept me hooked. Severin and his team are really fascinating, and well-developed. I found sometimes I wanted a little more - I feel like this book could stand to be about 200 pages longer so I could get to know the characters a little better, so that the 'happenings' in the book hit a little harder, but I also understand that Chokshi is building up for future books in the series. The ending in particular makes me really excited to see where this is going!

I think, overall, I really enjoyed this read, but I just found myself wanting more from everything: more from the characters, a bit more from the plot, and more from the setting and exploration of the Exposition Universelle, for example. But if Chokshi leaves me wanting more for this book, then I can't wait to see what's in store for the next one.

{I received a review copy of this book from Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!!}

A favourite line from the book: '"Think about what this could mean for us. It could bring us everything we wanted."
Enrique dragged his palm down his face. "You know how moths look at a fire and think, 'Oooh! Shiny!' and then die in a burst of flames and regret?"
"Right. Just checking to be sure."'

You would like this book if: you like heist books with a delicious touch of fantasy; you enjoy angsty romances where the ground is always shifting.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Laila would probably serve you some delicious biscuits to have with your tea - I would suggest a gentle black tea, Orange Pekoe perhaps.

Rating:  7.5/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Reading // December 2018

These are getting easier to remember... Yay.

books read:
~ Giant Days vol. 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar
~ Flying Witch vol. 1 by Chihiro Ishizuka and Melissa Tanaka
~ Goldie Vance vol. 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams
~ Giant Days vol. 2 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar
~ Giant Day vol. 3 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar
~ Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
~ Queer Eye by Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, and Karamo Brown (review)
~ The Willful Princes and the Piebald Prince (Realms of the Elderlings #0.5) by Robin Hobb (Elderlings Challenge)
~ The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll (review)
~ Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay #6) by Jill Shalvis
~ Jog On by Bella Mackie (review)
~ All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries # 1) by Martha Wells
~ Legend of Korra, Turf Wars vol. 1 by Michael Dante DiMartino and Irene Koh
~ Legend of Korra, Turf Wars vol. 2 by Michael Dante DiMartino and Irene Koh
~ Winter by Ali Smith
~ The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
~ The Pleasure of Reading edited by Antonia Fraser
~ The Druid Plant Oracle Companion Book
~ Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das (reread)

currently reading:
~ City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty (reread)
~ An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma (review)
~ The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1) by Jenn Lyons (review)

I set a tentative goal this month of reading 20 things - and I got to 19. Pretty darn happy with that, honestly. And I got to read a lot of graphic novels, too, which is awesome. Let's talk about those first.

I have recently become a member of yet another library system, making it four or so now in the counting? And this one has a great collection of graphic novels and comics, so I am living it up. Giant Days was quite good, but not really 'wow factor' for me. Flying Witch was adorable and I loved reading it - I hope to read more sometime! Goldie Vance was flipping awesome, and of course I adore Korra and want to gobble anything up that involves Korrasami - give me all of the queer graphic novels!! I think my favourite out of all of them would be Flying Witch, though, as it just gave me such lovely, cozy vibes.

Only a couple of review books this month - I just wasn't really feeling like reading a lot of the review books I have, which bothered me initially, but then I realised I just needed to go with the flow and read what I wanted to, and things started to flow pretty well from there. I am back on reading review books atm - with a cheeky reread thrown in for good measure! - and it's going slowly, but well. I'm trying to keep up with posting something to my blog at least once a week, but I have been feeling a little disillusioned about it all so we shall see how I go. Hopefully some more posts next year and maybe some new things! Having an ARC copy of An Orchestra of Minorities is making me feel like I'm turning over a new leaf with my reading, though, which makes me joyful.

Favourites out of the others? Well, definitely The Druid Plant Oracle Companion Book, as it came with the deck and was a wonderful Christmas gift from my brother - I loved reading through all the descriptions and learning about applications of plants throughout the ages. So fascinating! I also loved every minute that I spent with Winter by Ali Smith - it really blew me away and now I want my own copy. Eagerly awaiting Spring, which should come out in March sometime.

There are also some books coming out in 2019 that I am seriously excited for - would people be interested in a post on that? Do let me know.

What have you been reading? Anything that has blown you away? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Love to all who read.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Book Review: Jog On by Bella Mackie

Title: Jog On
Author: Bella Mackie
Publication Date: 27th December 2018

Synopsis: "Divorced and struggling with deep-rooted mental health problems, Bella Mackie ended her twenties in tears. She could barely find the strength to get off the sofa, let alone piece her life back together. Until one day she did something she had never done of her own free will - she pulled on a pair of trainers and went for a run.

Over the previous decade, Bella was so paralysed by her fears that exercise was the very last thing on her mind. So that first run didn't last very long. But to her surprise, she was back out there the next day. And the day after that. She began to set herself achievable goals - to run 5k in under 30 minutes, to walk to work every day for a week, to attempt 10 push-ups in a row. Before she knew it, her mood was lifting for the first time in years, and she had swapped hiding in her house for fresh air, unknown roads and running tracks.

In Jog On, Bella explains with hilarious and unfiltered honesty how she used running to battle crippling anxiety and depression, without having to sacrifice her main loves: booze, cigarettes and ice cream. With the help of a supporting cast of doctors, psychologists, sportspeople and friends, she shares a wealth of inspirational stories, research and tips to show how exercise often can be the best medicine."

My thoughts: This book is a bit shorter than I expected, but still packs an emotional and fact-filled punch! Mackie explores both mental illness and how running has helped people, and then also relates things from her own life to give a extremely interesting reading experience. It almost convinced me to try running myself (I think it would have been successful if I didn't have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and have to really watch what exertion I engage with...).

The tone that Mackie strikes is friendly, without becoming too bogged down in emotion, and shares just enough facts to be interesting and informative without becoming too dry. I think I got a lot out of reading this because of my own experience with depression and anxiety - it really helps to remind yourself with books like this that you're not alone in your experience. Or, at least, it helps me. Mackie is open and honest about her experience, though at times I wished we heard just a tiny bit more from her own experience rather than from experts, data, or other people.

I will say that it was hard for me at times to relate to Mackie's experience simply because I don't drink or smoke, and at times she seemed to make jokes about drinking too much/hangovers/etc and because that doesn't align with the way I live my own life it felt a little jarring. But that really is just personal preference.

Ultimately, this is an interesting little book, with an interesting story. I would recommend to those with a lived experience of anxiety, OCD, or depression, or even just those who want to learn more about running and how it can improve your life.

{I received a review copy of this book from William Collins/HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: 'I ran for three minutes today. In the dark, slowly, and not all in one go. That's three minutes more than I've ever run in my life. I'm out of breath and I've got a stitch and I already feel better than I have in years.That's enough for a first attempt. Now I can go back home and have a cry. Or some wine.'

You would like this book if: you enjoy nonfiction that looks into someone's life and the way they improve it, with some science-y facts thrown in, too; you like running, obvs. :)

Tea to drink while reading this book: I think, really, you may need to go for a run after reading this. So unless you have some iced tea (homemade, of course) in a water bottle, you may spill your tea...

Rating:  8/10

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