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The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – Review

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – ReviewThe Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Will Patton
Genres: Young Adult, Supernatural
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater is a young adult supernatural novel entering around Blue Sargent, Gansy and their search for Welsh king Glendower.  It is a quartet made up of The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue and The Raven King.  it is told from multiple points of view.

I will say that it took me some time to get into this series – at least two attempts of starting the book, and putting it down again.  This is despite a kickass opening in which the whole conflict of the series is laid out; it is foretold that Blue will kill her one true love when she kisses him, and Gansy is fated to die within the year. That is the hook to lure you into this series – you can’t help but want to know if these foretellings come true.  My initial struggle with this book is partly because, at first glance, the main protagonists are rather unappealing.  Gansy comes across as rich, arrogant and entitled.  Ronan is snarky and belligerent.  Adam is stubborn and independent to a fault and Noah is insipid.  It’s only when you get further into the books that the deeper layers of these characters are revealed and your understanding of them deepens.  After that I was very happy to continue marathoning the series.

There is a whole arc running through the series with resolutions of plot points in the first book only coming through in the final instalment.  Each book has its own theme which feeds into the major series story arc.  It is very well tied together if not overly complex. The Raven Boys is all about the setup; introducing the main driving plot of the series, the characters and the world.  The Dream Thieves is Ronan’s story and how his ability will aid his friends in their quest.  Blue Lily, Lily Blue focusses on Blue and also on deepening the relationships amongst the group and The Raven King ties everything up.  

What I liked

The characters.  The well written, nuanced and flawed characters and their relationships are the highlight of this series.  Stiefvater has developed a wonderful set of characters and the relationships that develop among them are beautiful to read.  They truly are stronger because they know each other.  The relationships are all unique; Blue acts differently with Noah than she does with Adam, and Gansy has a different relationship to Ronan than to Noah.  Additionally, the characters we meet in The Raven Boys are not the same ones we say farewell to in The Raven King – they have been changed by their experiences and each other.  That is one thing that always attracts me to a book series. It is mainly for the characters and character development that I continued reading this series.  I loved that each member of the group has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and each has a part to play in the story.

The world.  I loved the world Stiefvater created.  The kind of supernaturalness – ley lines, tarot, spiritualists/mediums – is one that always gets under my skin.  It’s superbly well done.

What I didn’t like

Not immediately likeable protagonists.  Though I was fascinated by the characters and engaged in their stories, I didn’t love them the way that I have loved some other protagonists.  Their stories were wonderful to read, but I’m not exactly sure I’d like to meet up with any of them for coffee.  After four books, I certainly felt as if I understood Gansy, Ronan and Adam a great deal better, even if I didn’t necessarily always like them.  This weakened the ending somewhat for me.

The Raven Cycle is an excellent series and well worth reading for the well written, nuanced characters and worldbuilding.  As a whole I gave the series four stars out of five.


Reading roundup – June 11th 2016

Good morning and first in non reading related news, this week LEGO Dimensions released the trailer for their 2016/2017 expansion packs.  it’s worth checking out that trailer if only to watch MI’s Ethan Hunt rappel down a rope simply to scratch Scooby Doo’s belly or to see Wyldstyle run over Lord Voldemort on a motorcycle.  For those of you unfamiliar with LEGO Dimensions, it’s a toys-to-life video game.  I wrote a whole blog post on it.  The joy of this game is that you can mix and match your fandoms – so, for example, I took great pleasure in having Doctor Who drive the Batmobile through the streets of Minas Tirith.  Now, given that you have to fork out hard cash for new characters in this game, it can be very expensive.  Many of the new packs announced in the trailer are completely uninteresting to me.  A few more (A-Team, Mission Impossible, E.T.) were yeah I’d play this if you gave it to me for free and only two are ones that had me reaching for my wallet.  One of these is the Harry Potter team pack containing Harry and Lord Voldemort.  I have it on good authority – Pottermore – that Harry can expecto a really adorable LEGO Patronus.  As well as the minifigs of Harry and Lord Voldemort, you get the bricks to build a mini Hogwarts Express and the Weasleys’ Ford Anglia. You also gain access to the Harry Potter Adventure World with new puzzles to solve.  I look forward to having Doctor Who check out Hogwarts and Harry explore Middle Earth.  I believe Harry is released to the public on September 27th.

The second pack I will definitely purchase is the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  I understand this is a story pack which will come with a Newt Scamander minifig, a vehicle and bricks to customise the LEGO Dimensions gateway as well as six new levels of story gameplay and a Fantastic Beasts Adventure World.  I know little more about it than this, but already I’m champing at the bit.  

Game of Thrones this week was a solid, episode if a lot of setup for the chaos to come in the final three episodes of this season.  I especially enjoyed the quiet moments with Ian McShane’s character’s community.

Onto more book-related updates.  This week I did something I don’t very often do.  I marathoned a book series.  I finished the remaining two books in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King.  I will write a full blog post on the series, so I won’t say too much here.  I did very much enjoy them though, especially the wonderful characters and their relationships.

Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia has been hanging around on my currently reading/TBR list for a while now.  This is perhaps not surprising in that it’s being released in serial format with one episode being released each week.  There are currently 10 of 11 episodes available. I’ve subscribed to it in audiobook format so each Thursday a new episode hits my Audible download queue.  It’s being narrated by Juliet Stevenson who is doing an awesome job. While I liked the first episode it took me another two or three to really get into the story of the Trenchards the Bellasis and their myriad connections.  It is very soapy, but enjoyable soap nonetheless.  I have currently listened to five out of the 10 available episodes.  If you enjoyed Downton Abbey, you will likely enjoy Belgravia.  Fellowes has released an app for this where you can download the episodes (they’re also available in Audible as mentioned and other eBook retailers) and it also includes additional background information such as a map of Belgravia and a family tree which is updated as the story progresses.  The only annoying thing for me is because I’m picking up the episodes on Audible, the app doesn’t update for me.  I checked the website and the information given was pretty much too bad, so sad if you want the bonus features but didn’t purchase through the app.  Pity.

The Wheel of Osheim, the final book in Mark Lawrence’s Red Queen’s War is the other book I’m reading this week.  I’m enjoying it, but the problem is I’m listening to it in audiobook as I fall asleep in bed at night and I keep missing chunks!  Should be good, though.

That’s all for this week.  Catch you soon!

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – Review

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – Review1000 Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
Genres: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Mystery
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Evelynne's rating: four-half-stars

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is a YA sci-fi mystery in which teenager Marguerite Caine must use technology developed by her parents, the Firebird, to chase her father’s murderer across multiple dimensions.  She finds out that things aren’t as they first seemed.

I picked this book up partly because of this concept and partly because I’ve enjoyed books (Star Wars) by Claudia Gray.  Thanks to Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice I picked up both the Kindle book and the audiobook, narrated by Tavia Gilbert.  Most of the time I listened to the audiobook which was amazing.

What I liked

The concept.  I found this a really intriguing premise for a novel, moving into alternate dimensions to solve a murder mystery.  Gray comes from a sci-fi background and clearly has a firm handle on it.  It was a lot of fun when Marguerite jumped into a new dimension trying to work out what situation she was in! I’m not certain that I’d agree with the Orphan Black comparison; the main – only? – similarity is that characters frequently find themselves having to impersonate other people and to think on their feet to work out what’s going on. 

The audio narration.  Tavia Gilbert did an awesome job of narrating this book.  Her accent work was impeccable.  There’s a funny scene early on where Marguerite has fun with her current doppelganger’s accent.  That came across really well in audio format.  My one frustration with this is that often the accent “spoiled” in some way the leaps into new dimensions.  From the voices it was often clear where Marguerite had landed long before it was revealed in the text.  

The worldbuilding.  The fun thing with this concept is that Gray gets to build several worlds; the multiple alternate dimensions into which Marguerite leaps.  It would be too spoilery to name them all, but each of them is beautifully developed with supporting characters, rules and challenges for our protagonist.  The fact that Gray’s travel system has limitations was particularly well done – as in fantasy, often it’s the limitations in the magic system/technology which can generate the most interesting conflicts for the characters.  I loved that the dimensions had varying degrees of technological advancement which made things interesting.

The pacing.  Gray keeps the plot moving along fast, with new information and revelations keeping our protagonists – and readers – engaged.

What I didn’t like

The characters.  I found Marguerite somewhat bland.  The way her loyalty seemed to be so easily won and lost did not sit easily with me, and the revelations of the villains was a little too obvious.  The fact that Gray reverted to the trope of “the special”, our protagonist having unique traits which make her the only person capable of foiling the evil plot is rather disappointing.

Despite these flaws, I really loved 1000 Pieces of You and gave it four and a half stars out of five.  I will certainly be picking up the sequel soon.


Reading roundup – June 3rd 2016

So this last week I finished Claudia Gray’s 1000 Pieces of You which I mentioned adding to my library in my last reading roundup.  Sci-Fi is a genre into which I dip now and again, although I’m not an expert on it.  1000 Pieces of You is a well put together, fun read (well, actually, fun listen as I listened to it primarily in audiobook) – expect a full review on it soon.

I also started Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Mist and Fury, the sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.  At first, I admit, I struggled to get into the story.  Slowly though I got sucked into the Feyre/Rhys storyline and am now really enjoying it.  Maas has a very “modern” writing style despite this being epic fantasy.  

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time this week marathoning the first season of 24 on Netflix.  Jack Bauer for the win!  Although it’s been some time since I watched the show, I remembered all the twists and turns, so it wasn’t quite as exciting for me as it was the first time I watched it.

As usual, I watched this week’s episode of Game of Thrones.  I’m going to put a cut here as below are some thoughts and speculations on A Game of Thrones


Ten Bookish Questions Tag

Good morning!  I saw the 10 bookish questions tags around the blogosphere and thought it might be fun to share my answers.  OK here we go.

1) What book is on your nightstand now?

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.  This is the second in the Court of Thorns and Roses series.  I’m only a few pages in, but to be honest, so far it’s not really grabbing my attention.  I know that’s probably an unpopular opinion right now, but personally I’m far more engaged in Maas’ Throne of Glass series.  I’ll probably continue to give it a go, though.

2) What was the last truly great book that you read?

I’m currently also leafing through George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, inspired to do so mainly by the TV show.  I’m reminded just how deep and complex Martin’s characters are, and how beautiful his writing is, a trait that is, sadly, not always shared by the show.  The show is wonderful in its own way, but Martin’s books are a whole different ball game.  Incidentally, I have been swapping chapter by chapter from Feast and Dance, which works remarkably well.  

3) If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?

I think I’d have to go with George R.R. Martin so that I could hassle him for spoilers on the rest of A Song of Ice and Fire.  I’d love to know more about the White Walkers and what their story is.  Martin is not the kind of writer who goes in for a purely black and white, good vs evil perspective so I think we have a lot more to learn about them.

4) What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

Hmmmm, let me think.  Opera for Dummies by David Pogue and Scott Speck, perhaps?  Although I have for a long time been passionate about musicals, it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve started to follow opera, sparked mainly by my friend Natasha and the New York Metropolitan Opera’s streaming operas live in cinemas.  I know very little about opera still, and like most Dummies books, Opera for Dummies gives a decent if superficial overview into the genre.  As a bonus, it comes with a free CD of some of the main highlights, showcasing a variety of composers and styles.

Another surprise might be Le Francais au Bureau by the Office de la Langue Francaise here in Quebec aka the French Language Police.  I learned French back in the UK so it was French from France I learned rather than Quebecois.  I invested in this book not long after I arrived to help me through the differences in a work environment.  

5) How do you organise your personal library?

To be honest, I don’t.  Most of my books are in Kindle format so I rely on good old search to find any book I’m looking for.  I do also have a program on my Mac called Delicious Library which I use to display my ebooks.  I wrote a blog post on it a couple years back.  It doesn’t link up to my Kindle library automatically, unfortunately, so if I buy a new book I have to remember to go in to add it manually.  I have set it up to display by author, then subdivided by series.  The nice thing about Delicious Library is you can switch how the library is organised at the touch of a button.  Sometimes, for the fun of it, I switch it to order by cover colour which looks really nice, too.

6) What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?

I think I should have read A Scot’s Quair by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.  This is a Scottish classic and tells the story of Chris Guthrie, a young woman living in the rural north east of Scotland not long before the first World War.  It deals with the changes in Scottish society at that time.  Many Scots read this in school, but I didn’t.  Or at least if I did, I don’t remember!

7) Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didnt? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

As I mentioned in my last reading roundup, I was rather disappointed by The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.  I did finish it, but I struggled – I just couldn’t get into it.  A lot of people seem to have enjoyed it though.

8) What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

I am drawn to stories with good character development.  Any book in which the characters are changed by their experiences will suck me in.  George R.R. Martin is a master of this.  I am likely to be frustrated by books in which the main characters barely change throughout or, worse, sequels which ignore any character development.

Psychological horror/thrillers are one genre I tend to steer clear of.  I’m thinking Silence of the Lambs or Before I Go to Sleep.  I know that these books get under my skin far more than more supernatural horrors.

9) If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

I’m in Canada, so we don’t have a President! 

10) What do you plan to read next?

I will probably listen to the audiobook of Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.  I received an Advance Reader Copy of the sequel, Gemina at BEA, so I plan to refresh my memory of the first book before picking it up.

Thanks for reading!  Have a great day.

Reading roundup – May 26th 2016

Hello and welcome to my reading roundup for this week.  I have read/listened to a couple of books about which I’d like to tell you.

Reading roundup – May 26th 2016Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Format: ARC
Narrator: Priya Ayyar
Pages: 416 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

The first of these is Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  Now, you won’t find this in the stores yet; it was one of the Advance Reader Copies I picked up at BEA and it won’t come out until January 2017.  I won’t say too much about it – I’ll post a full review nearer the time – but let me say you have a treat in store.  Garber has created a wonderful, whimsical world in Caraval with lots of mysteries, red herrings and weird characters.  I have the feeling that this first book is only starting to scratch the surface of what we will find out about this world.  This is a definite five out of five for me.

Reading roundup – May 26th 2016The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Priya Ayyar
Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: two-half-stars

I wasn’t nearly so happy with the second book I listened to, which was The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.  This is a retelling of the Persephone/Hades story and unfortunately, it failed to grab my attention.  I kept falling asleep while listening to the audiobook.  I forced myself to finish it, but it was a struggle.  There is nothing specifically wrong with it that I can point to.  The world is well drawn, the characters are interesting enough and the narration was excellent.  It just didn’t grab me.  Sorry.  I gave it two and a half stars out of five.

In other matters, I can’t not mention the superb episode of Game of Thrones, The Door, which was broadcast this week.  It really hit me in the feels.  I have been leafing through both A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons lately, reading one chapter from each.  That works surprising well, but rereading Martin’s words has really emphasised the show’s weaknesses, especially in terms of character development.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the show. Realistically, though, when the source material has to be compressed into a few hours of television, a lot must be lost. Sunday’s developments, which are confirmed to have come from Martin, were scripted and acted pitch perfectly and Ramin Djawadi’s score really hit it home.  It’s going to be heartbreaking to read in the yet to be published books.

Added to my library this week

Yes, I know I just brought back 30 books from BEA.  I still added two more books to my collection.  I have a problem.

The first of these is A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. This is a YA sci-fi fantasy series which is billed as Orphan Black meets Cloud Atlas.  Our protagonist, Marguerite. is in possession of an artefact which allows her to leap into her alternate personas in multiple dimensions.  She must use this to track her parents’ murderer.  This definitely sounds intriguing and I am i the mood for something more sci-fi than fantasy right now.  I’ve also read a couple of Gray’s Star Wars novels, which are solid works, so I’m up for this.

Also added to my library is The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye.  This is a YA fantasy set in a Russia-esque world.  The audio sample sounded great, so I picked it up.

Upcoming releases in June

There are two books being released in June about which I”m super excited.

Mark Lawrence releases the finale in his Red Queen’s War series, The Wheel of Osheim.  Now, if The Emperor of Thorns is anything to go by, Lawrence knows how to end a series.  I’m excited to see how he does it.  The Wheel of Osheim comes out on June 7th.  I picked it up on Kindle.

Danielle Paige is releasing another novella in her Dorothy Must Die series called The Order of the Wicked.  While it’s not necessary to have read the novellas to enjoy Paige’s imaginative retelling of the Wizard of Oz, I’ve found they do add a lot of colour and depth to the world.  I’ll certainly be picking up The Order of the Wicked on June 28th when it’s released in ebook only format.

That’s all for today.  Catch up with you soon!


BEA 2016 Book Haul – part three of three

BEA 2016 Book HaulHere we go for the third and final post in my BEA 2016 book haul series.  Thank you for sticking with me.

The first book I’d like to talk about, and the obtaining of which was one of my highlights of BEA is Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King.  This is the fourth and final volume in the The Raven Cycle of which I have read 1.95 books.  (I’m just finishing off The Dream Thieves.)  I loved having the opportunity to meet Maggie and discuss book hangovers with her, and she has said her aim with The Raven King is to leave her readers with the book hangover to end all book hangovers, so I can’t wait!  The Raven King has already been published.

Next up is First Blood by Elly Blake.  This was another of the ARCs available in a roll the dice game.  This is a YA fantasy about a young woman who has fire magic which is a challenge when living in a kingdom controlled by frostbloods, with ice magic.  It sounds intriguing and I look forward to reading it.  First Blood will be released in January 2017.

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is a YA mystery, but I don’t know much more than that.  I’ll certainly give it a go. It will be released in January 2017.

In the genre of historical fiction one of the few books I picked up was Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, about a young slave who tries to escape from the antebellum South.  Not being from the States, this is a period which fascinates me.  I really look forward to this one.  The Underground Railroad will be released in September 2016.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige was one of my must-have books from BEA and I was lucky enough to snag a copy – yay me!  I’ve really been enjoying Paige’s retelling of the Wizard of Oz in her Dorothy Must Die series so I am highly anticipating reading this Snow Queen reworking.  Stealing Snow will be released in September 2016.

While waiting inline for a signing, one kind person offered me a spare copy of Rainbow Rowell’s Kindred Spirits.  This is a short novella of whose existence I was unaware.  It’s about a girl who LOVES Star Wars and the people she meets while waiting in line to see the latest movie.  I adore Rowell’s writing so this will be a pleasure to read.  This book came out in February 2016.

One of the more beautifully presented ARCs of BEA 2016 was Lauren Oliver’s Replica.  It came in a plastic box closed with velcro and the ARC itself is double sided – the same story is told from two different perspectives, so you flip the book one way to read Gemma’s story, the other for Lyra’s.  Replica will be published in October 2016.

News of the World’s Amazon blurb says the following:  In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.  Should be an interesting read.  This book will also be published in October 2016.

Another middle grade story I picked up was Tracey Hecht’s Nocturnals – the Mysterious Abductions.  This tells the tale of three anthromorphised animals who must solve the mystery of the disappearance of their animal friends.  It sounds very cute.  Nocturnals – The Mysterious Abductions was released in April 2016.

The final book in my BEA book haul is The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood.  This is about a mother whose love of a special book helps her through a very difficult time in her life.  Being a booklover myself (obviously) this is one I will be checking out.  The Book That Matters Most is released in August 2016.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through my BEA 2016 book haul.  As well as a shedload of wonderful books to read I have many happy memories of my trip to Chicago.  Roll on BEA 2017!

BEA 2016 Book Haul – part two of three

BEA 2016 Book HaulWelcome back to the second part of my BEA 2016 book haul.  There are lots of exciting books still to come!

The first book I’d like to mention is Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Kay Kristoff.  This is the sequel to last year’s awesome YA sci-fi thriller Illuminae.  Like its predecessor, Gemina’s formatting plays an integral part in the story, and this is a cool looking ARC.  I plan to re-listen to Illuminae in audiobook format to refresh my memory before starting Gemina – the audiobook was fantastically well done and actually won an Audiie at this years Audie awards.  Go Team Illuminae!  Gemina was another of the hot books at BEA, with people starting to line up hours in advance of the ARC drop.  I was one of the last people in line to actually get one, and I was so happy.  You can pick it up for yourselves in October 2016.

One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank is a young adult contemporary about a young woman who spends a summer in France after her parents’ divorce and father’s remarriage.  I’m hoping it will be in a similar vein to Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss which I adored.  We shall see.  This book is available from June 2017.

Next up is The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick.  I don’t know much about this one, but it appears to be a love story between an Irishwoman and a Frenchman in the setting of an Antarctic research base.  It appears they have been destined to be together since time immemorial, so colour me intrigued.  The Comet Seekers is available in October 2016.

The main reason I picked up Florence Foster Jenkins!!! The Life of the World’s Worst Opera Singer is because of the trailer for the upcoming movie starring Meryl Streep.  The trailer makes Florence sound such an engaging and fascinating character – I look forward to reading her story before seeing the movie.  Check it out from June 2016.

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles is a book about which I don’t know a great deal.  From the blurb it seems to be a YA thriller novel.  It was blurbed by Peter Jackson of The Lord of the Rings movies, so it does comes with high praise.  Thrillers aren’t generally my cup of tea though, but I’ll give it a go.  It is not available until January 2017.

Keith Donohue’s The Motion of Puppets drew my attention because the protagonist comes from Quebec.  This novel tells the story of a woman who is turned into a puppet and how she and her husband must struggle to be reunited.  It could be an interesting read.  Pick it up in October 2016.

One of the few middle grade books I picked up was The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart.  Reuben finds a magical antique watch and as a result, is drawn into many fantastical adventures and must work to defeat the villainous Smoke.  Should be worth a read.  It’s around from September 2017.

The 13th Continuum is a young adult dystopian novel about a world in which humanity has had to retreat to havens known as Continuums after a cataclysmic event nearly destroys the Earth.  A group of young people has the opportunity to change their reality.  The sequel, Return of the Continuums was also available so I picked it up, too.  The 13th Continuum is already available – it was released in April 2016 – but you’ll need to wait til November 2016 for the sequel.

One of the ARC drops at BEA was a roll the dice game which indicated which book you won.  I ended up with Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott, an author whose works I have very much enjoyed before.  Poisoned Blade is the sequel to Court of Fives, which I have not yet read, so I’d best get on it 🙂  The Poisoned Blade is available in August 2016.

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer is the final book for this part of the haul.  I don’t know much about this one, but I’ve heard of the author’s previous works, so I’ll check it out.  You can read it from September 2016.

That’s all for today folks.  Final book haul post up soon!

BEA 2016 Book Haul – part one of three

BEA 2016 Book HaulHello, and welcome to the first of three posts detailing all the books I picked up at Book Expo in America last week.  It was a wonderful time and I picked up some amazing books.  There’s a lot to get through, so let’s get started.

Of the ARCs I picked up one of the ones I’m most excited about is Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  I was able to snag a ticket to get it signed about which I was very happy.  This is the first in a YA duology by a debut author, and it is certainly getting a lot of buzz.  The tagline for the book is Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .  This sounds really intriguing and it will be one of the first of the ARCs I picked up that I will read.  It is next on my list after finishing Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves.  Caraval will be published in January 2017.

Another book I picked up was Aaron Safronoff’s Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall.  This is a YA fantasy book in which Barra and her two friends must work to prevent a blight of creeping vine from destroying the treescape world of Cerulean which is her home.  This is chock full of breathtaking images – one to read in hard copy rather than Kindle I think.  Sunburn Rising: Beneath the Fall will be published later this month in May 2016.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a contemporary novel the synopsis of which really spoke to me as a booklover.  It tells the story of Sara, a young woman from Sweden who travels to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet with her bookworm penal.  Sadly, on her arrival she finds that her friend has sadly passed away.  Instead of returning to Sweden, Sara decides to remain in Broken Wheel to open a bookshop.  Sounds like a winner to me!  This book hit shelves in January 2016.

As a speaker of both English and French, I was intrigued by When in French (Love in a  Second Language) by Lauren Collins.  This is a memoir detailing Collins’ romance with and marriage to a French speaker and aims to explore how much of our understanding of a different culture is related to language.  I am a native English speaker, married to an Anglophone,  but have lived in both France and Quebec. I am very interested to read of Collins’ take on the matter.  When in French Love in a Second Language is available in September 2016.

Scholastic Audiobooks were also giving out cards to download samples of some of their upcoming books.  These include Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King, and Everland by Wendy Spinale.  Being an audiobook aficionada, I will definitely be checking these out.

When I saw the title Women Who (Still) Love Cats Too Much I couldn’t resist.  This is a cartoon book by Allia Zobel Nolan and cartoons by Nicole Hollander and I had a nice chat about, what else, cats, when meeting them at BEA.  This book is already available – it was released in September 2015.

Unfortunately, not all the books at BEA were full copies – some were only samplers.  Two of these are very highly anticipated – Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom (the sequel to Six of Crows) and Carve the Mark, the latest novel by Divergent’s Veronica Roth.  I picked them up anyway, although sometimes a sneak peek can be so frustrating if you want more.

Another of the books I was most anticipating from BEA was Sabaa Tahir’s A Torch Against the Night.  This is a sequel to the YA fantasy book An Ember in the Ashes, which I very much enjoyed.  I am anticipating reading about the further adventures of Laia and Elias.  You can pick this up starting in August 2016.

One book with an especially eye-catching cover is The Graces by Laure Eve.  This is a young adult fantasy about three siblings who are witches.  I don’t know much more about it, but it promises to be intriguing.  Check it out in September 2016.

Another book about witches – is that a theme this year? – is Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova.  It’s about an unwilling witch who tries to rid herself of magic, but the spell backfires.  We shall see what it’s about.  Labyrinth Lost is available in September 2016.

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is unusual in that they also provided an advanced copy of the audiobook, read by Dylan Baker.  It’s difficult to pinpoint what the book is about – the publicity seems to be focussing on the fact that Reese Witherspoon has bought the film rights.  I guess I’ll find out in due course!  You can find out for yourselves from July 2016.

That’s all I have for today.  More book haul posts to follow!  Let me know if you’re excited about any of these books.


Back home from Chicago and Book Expo America!


So, as I’ve mentioned in my blog before, this year I attended BEA (Book Expo America) in Chicago.  As my books are being shipped, this is not my official BEA book haul – expect that one in a week to ten days!

This was the first time I have attended, and I was both a little nervous and excited.  Although I’ve heard it described as San Diego Comic Con for booklovers, it is a trade show for those in the publishing industry as well as those involved in promoting books through blogs.  Now, I’m passionate about books, but this blog is pretty small fish compared to some and at first, I admit I felt somewhat overwhelmed and, to be honest, a bit of a fraud.  I found myself thinking, I don’t work in publishing should I really be here getting all these free books?  That lasted for about two hours!

It was a great experience meeting some fantastic authors, checking out all the awesome upcoming releases and chatting with like minded bookworms.  Note to self: when waiting in line to meet famous authors, take the time to Wiki their last book if it’s been more than a few months since I read it. This is to prevent excessive fangirling and/or complete mental blank when asked who my favourite character is. With apologies to Leigh Bardugo.  I also caught sight of some of my favourite BookTubers (Kat from Katytastic, Jesse the Reader, Christine from PolandbananasBooks and Natasha from Tashapolis).  Weirdly, I was more intimidated to go up and say hi to them (I woosed out) than to meet my favourite authors!  I think it’s because if you’re standing in an autograph line, you know the author is expecting some kind of interaction.  I never know if I’m bothering the YouTubers.  Sorry, guys, I do love your vlogs even if I didn’t say hi.  

I used the official BEA app on my iPhone and tablet to plan my days at the conference and it worked very well.  I planned which ARCs and autographs I really wanted and focussed my efforts on getting those.  I was able to pick up all but two of the ARCs I really wanted; the two I missed out on were Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin (LOVED Wolf by Wolf) and Marissa Meyer’s Heartless.  Heartless really was THE hot book in town this BEA; tickets sold out within minutes, and it became quite the currency. 

Of the ARCs I picked up there are four about which I am really excited.  I’m really looking forward to reading:

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, this is the sequel to Illuminae, which was amazing.  The formatting of these two books are integral to the story and I’m so excited to read Gemina.

A Torch Against the Night.  This is Sabaa Tahir’s sequel to An Ember in the Ashes which I enjoyed very much.  I can’t wait to see where she takes the characters next.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige.  This is the first in a new series by the author of Dorothy Must Die, and is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen.  I really loved what Paige did with her reimagining of The Wizard of Oz for the Dorothy Must Die series, so I’m super excited for this new one.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  This is the first in a YA duology by a debut author, and it is certainly getting a lot of buzz.  The tagline for the book is Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .  This sounds really intriguing and it will be one of the first of the ARCs I picked up that I will read.

I got to meet some really amazing authors.  The highlight of BEA for me was probably discussing book hangovers with Maggie Stiefvater. Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs were both signing as was Leigh Bardugo.  I was also lucky enough to have Sabaa Tahir sign her latest book – that was probably the longest line I waited in other than that for Maggie and Marissa. 

So, I’ve returned from Chicago with many happy memories and a box full of wonderful books.  Check back later for my full BEA book haul.


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