Sunday, 12 September 2021

Blog Tour Spotlight - Lies Like Wildfire


Title: Lies Like Wildfire (Goodreads)
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Author: Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Age Group: YA
Source: Netgalley

I would like to thank TheWriteReads, Penguin and Jennifer Lynn Alvarez for such a great opportunity to read this book in advance of its official publication.

This is definitely a book that will entice and grab readers who love a fast paced action thriller mystery!

Available to buy now:
'Now that we've buried the secret, we have to bury it deeper. If there's one thing the law hates more than crime, its liars.'

Synopsis

An intense high-stakes story about five friends and the deadly secret that could send their lives up in flames, perfect for fans of Karen McManus and E. Lockhart.

In Gap Mountain, California, everyone knows about fire season. And no one is more vigilant than 18-year-old Hannah Warner, the sheriff’s daughter and aspiring FBI agent. That is until this summer. When Hannah and her best friends accidentally spark an enormous and deadly wildfire, their instinct is to lie to the police and the fire investigators.

But as the blaze roars through their rural town and towards Yosemite National Park, Hannah’s friends begin to crack and she finds herself going to extreme lengths to protect their secret. Because sometimes good people do bad things. And if there’s one thing people hate, it’s liars.

About the Author

https://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/about

I received my B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley. I'm fascinated by underdogs and power dynamics between groups of people. 

I'm the author of LIES LIKE WILDFIRE, a teen thriller soon-to-be published by Delacorte Press, and two middle grade book series, each published by HarperCollins Children's Books, THE GUARDIAN HERD (a quartet) and RIDERS OF THE REALM (a trilogy). Before this, I self-published a middle grade fantasy called THE PET WASHER. 

When I'm not writing, you'll find me galloping my little black mare through the foothills of Sonoma County or teaching free creative writing workshops to kids and adults at various branches of our local library system. 

The Healdsburg Literary Guild selected me as their 2019/2020 Literary Laureate for my work in building literacy in my community. It is an honor I hold dear. I am also the current SCBWI Sonoma County Coordinator and a volunteer on the Sonoma County Library Advisory Board.

I live in Northern California with my husband, three children, and more than my fair share of pets!

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Key Quotes

'The thing about love is, unless your best friend falls too, you fall alone.'
'California doesnt f*ck around when it comes to fire.'

Similar Reads

Dark and Shallow Lies, S.T.A.G.S, Burden Falls, Things to Do Before the End of the World, Burn, Lock Every Door

Sunday, 15 August 2021

A Court of silver flames

A Court of Silver Flames and Nesta print

Title: A Court of Silver Flames
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses (Goodreads)
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Author: Sarah J Maas
Age Group: Adult
Source: Waterstones (purchased)

Review

Fans of Sarah J Maas have waited a few delirious years for A Court of Silver Flames to finally be published and the hype has certainly been worth it! Staying in the world of Velaris we now finally have the chance as readers to understand and read from Nesta’s very own perspective. Continuing in Maas’ regular fashion Nesta is not exempt from her own traumas, in fact I would say that Maas is one of the strongest writers out there at the moment who deals with trauma in a strong and sensitive respectful manner.

If you are one of the those readers who enjoys a little smut in their books then you will not be disappointed. There is plenty of sexual tensions and thrills throughout the entirety of A Court of Silver Flames. Personally I felt that even though I still enjoyed these scenes there were perhaps one too many that distracted from Nesta’s personal journey to overcome her major trauma.

If you think this training nonsense is going to result in you climbing into my bed, you’re delusional.” She added with a slice of a smile, “I’d sooner let in a mangy street dog.” “Oh, it’s not going to result in me climbing into your bed.” Nesta snickered, victory achieved, and had reached the stairs when he crooned, “You’ll climb into mine.”

What was the most outstanding element of A Court of Silver Flames for me was the female friendships. One of the most important elements of healing is support and friendship and Nesta most certainly finds this with Emerie and Gwyn, who are both equally strong and compelling characters in their own rights. In fact the friendship that Nesta, Emerie, and Gwyn share was for me the most meaningful and powerful relationship from the whole of the book. I think this friendship is what redeems the book, without it I personally fear that it would have been a book predominantly about sex and unresolved anguish.

Whether the sun beat hot on their brows or freezing rain turned their bones to ice, Nesta, Emerie, and Gwyneth arrived at practice each morning, ready to … The back of her throat ached; her eyes stung. “We’re in a book.” Gwyn’s fingers slid into hers, squeezing tight. Nesta looked up to find her holding Emerie’s free hand as well. Gwyn smiled again, her eyes bright. “Our stories are worth telling.”

What also matters most in A Court of Silver Flames is the continuing importance of family, those that we choose and those we cannot. Part of Nesta’s and Feyre’s joint struggles have always been the strain created in their own family caused by problems out of their control. Therefore, they both share the need to heal through healing their sisterly relationship and Maas certainly delivers a satisfying resolution for Feyre and Nesta together. In my opinion Maas could not have written A Court of Silver Flames without including and giving some attention still to Feyre and Rhys because they are a part of Neta’s own story. I believe the below quote summons up for me one of Maas’ second continuing themes and overriding messages in the world of A Court of Thorns and Roses. Which is that family is what matters the most and though there are strains and difficulties in the end your family will always be the last remaining ones to stand by and help you no matter what:

Let me make a wish for all of us,” she explained, gathering the three charms. A small gift—for the friends who had become like sisters. A chosen family. Like the one Feyre had found for herself.’

Synopsis (From Goodreads)


Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she's struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can't seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre's Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta's orbit. But her temper isn't the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other's arms.

Key Quotes

Nesta watched the shadowsinger with a frankness that most people shied from. Azriel returned the look with a stillness that most people ran from. Even Feyre had been hesitant around Az initially, but Nesta considered him with the same unflinching assessment she laid upon everyone. Maybe that was why Azriel had never said a bad word about Nesta.’
‘He said with soft fury, “It took me ten years before I was able to face it. What I’d done to those people, and what I’d lost. Ten years.” He was trembling, but not with fear. “So if you want to take ten years to face whatever is eating you alive from the inside out, go ahead. You want to take twenty years, go ahead.” Silence fell, interrupted only by their uneven panting. Nesta breathed, “Do you regret what you did?” “No.” Such unflinching honesty.’
I am not a thing to be controlled by you,” Nesta said icily. Everything in her life, from the moment she was born, had been controlled by other people. Things happened to her; anytime she tried to exert control, she’d been thwarted at every turn—and she hated that even more than the King of Hybern.’
Az won’t be back for a little while. Let’s go flying.” “What about the humans?” They’d run screaming in terror. Cassian gave her a wicked smile, opening that half-broken door for her. Leading her into the sunlight and clean air. “It’ll add a little spice to their days.”

Similar reads


From Blood and Ash, The Bridge Kingdom, Serpent & Dove, The Cruel Prince

Afterthoughts

Who would you turn to in times of need, to help heal from pain and trauma?

Do you have a family of your own that you have chosen?

Did you enjoy A Court of Silver Flames? Share your thoughts in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

What do you think will happen in the next book?

Review - Finale

Caraval trilogy with Tella and Dante print
Title: Finale
Series: Caraval (Goodreads)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Age Group: YA
Source: Waterstones (purchased)

Review

The magic of Caraval has finally come to an end and it could not have been more magical! What I loved about Finale was the dual narrative, we finally got to see from both Tella and Scarlett’s perspectives in the same book, and their individual journeys became one final adventure.

Caraval has always been a story about the love of two sisters and Finale does not disappoint because it never forgets that what started the adventure was the love of these sisters. Of course what also remains exciting is the romances, good and bad, I mean who can resist a bad boy!

Tonight he was smiling like a wicked prince, escaped from the stars, ready to spirit her up into the heavens. Uninvited butterflies took flight in Tella’s stomach. He was still the most beautiful liar she’d ever seen.’

This is a trilogy that started with the games of Caraval and has given readers more than they could have imagined, the game is bigger than a yearly extravaganza, it is a deadly game of survival to destroy the Fates. The Fates are irresistible and truly add an enjoyable excitement to Finale. Without a doubt my favourite Fate has always been Jacks from the moment he was introduced in Legendary and I devoured every moment we got to spend with him in Finale, he is the boy you’re meant to fear and hate but cannot resist being tempted to fall in love with even though you know he’s not the right one.

Tella looked up at Jacks, seeing him for the first time since he’d carried her away. His untamed locks of golden hair made him look more like a lost boy than a murderous Fate; his unearthly eyes were the silver-blue of young girls’ dreams; and his lips were so sharp she imagined he could cut with a kiss.’

Another Fate that we met, The Assassin, was hugely intriguing and I only wish we had got to spend more time with him. I know that I would certainly love to see more of him in a future instalment, who knows maybe he will make an appearance in Once Upon A Broken Heart, we can only wait and hope. Why I enjoyed The Assassins character was his glibness and dry humour as well as his Fate ability, but I will leave that as a surprise, and so I will leave you with a final quote and hopefully the desire to read Finale for yourselves.

“We are here to help defeat the Fallen Star.” “And if we wanted to hurt you, I’d have shoved daggers through each of your hearts the moment I saw you outside.” The Assassin’s voice was like nails pounding through glass, harsh and discordant. “Is that really how you win people over?” muttered Julian.’

Synopsis (From Goodreads)

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finally, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win...and those who will lose everything.

Key Quotes 

Time was rushing faster than blood could pour out of a sliced artery.’
A true queen’s power isn’t in her crown, my little love. It’s here.” Her mother placed a hand over her heart. Then she turned to Tella. […] “I would actually say your greatest treasure is sitting across from you. There is nothing quite so precious as the love of a sister.”
‘A dozen heads turned her way, intoxicated faces all wearing various shades of surprise. Save for Jacks. His silver-blue eyes met hers expectantly and then he grinned like the devil he was. He’d known this moment was coming. “Hello, wife.”

Similar reads


Sorcery of Thorns, Serpent & Dove, Kingdom of the Wicked, The Shadows Between Us, Shadow and Bone

Afterthoughts


How far would you go for the love of your family or siblings?

Did you enjoy the magic of the Caraval trilogy?

What other books would you recommend to those who enjoyed Finale?

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Review - From Blood and Ash

From Blood and Ash
Title: From Blood and Ash
Series: From Blood and Ash (Goodreads)
Publisher: Blue Box Press
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Supernatural

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Age Group: New Adult
Source: Amazon (purchased)

Review

So this was one of the many books that I had seen hyped on Bookstagram and thought to give it a go after I caved to the excitement. This is also the first time I have read one of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s books. As a first time reader of Armentrout’s I was not hugely satisfied by her style of writing, don’t get me wrong I didn’t dislike the book, but for me the writing itself lacked a certain depth and focused more on explaining the action rather than actually delivering the story organically through the actions of the characters, which is my preferred way of reading a book.

I wasn’t sure at the beginning of the book whether I would actually continue to read it as I wasn’t keen on the main character Poppy. If you, like me, are drawn to strong independent characters than Poppy may not excite you either. Beginning this book I felt that Poppy lacked strength. Of course you cannot ignore that she has been raised in a social environment that restricts her independence, and I could understand why she didn’t act freely of  her own accord. However, she continually said that she was unhappy and tried to rebel, for me if she was truly defiant she would have found more permanent means of defying and freeing herself from the abuse and restrictions placed on her. That said by the end of From Blood and Ashes I began to develop a fondness for Poppy and could see her future potential for future books in this series. Without giving too much away by the end of the book Poppy can certainly hold her own in a fight and definitely begins to voice her desire for freedom and respect, so I am definitely excited to see how Poppy develops in the next books of this series.

I hadn’t been lying or trying to cover up a hidden agenda when I helped Agnes or exposed myself to Marlowe. I did that because I could—because it was my choice. I trained to use a sword and bow because it was my choice. But was there another motive behind sneaking off to watch fights or swimming naked? Visiting gambling dens or lurking in parts of the castle forbidden to me and listening in on conversations that I wasn’t supposed to hear?’

One of the elements I did enjoy about From Blood and Ash was the relationship between Poppy and Hawke. I can never truly resist a snarky overly perfect guy! No relationship is perfect and I am aware that some readers of the series were uncomfortable with Poppy and Hawke’s relationship which are completely valid and I respect. Personally for me though. I enjoyed them together. I would describe the beginnings of their relationship as playful, like a game of cat and mouse. If you enjoy smutty relationships, than you will not be disappointed! However, the most important element of their relationship that stood out for me was Hawke’s respect for Poppy’s need to fight for herself and claim her independence. He does not deny her from fighting and using her sword skills to protect herself and the few individuals that she cares for and for that reason I enjoyed their relationship, below is a quote that I think sums up their relationship nicely:

From the night on the Rise to the Blood Forest when he’d thrown me the sword, he didn’t only protect me. He believed in me and respected my need to defend myself.’

Synopsis (Goodreads)

A Maiden

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

Key Quotes

Some truths do nothing but destroy and decay what they do not obliterate. Truths do not always set one free. Only a fool who has spent their entire life being fed lies believes that.”

Princess, I’m confident that if you didn’t want me to do something, I’d be lying flat on my back with a dagger at my throat before I even took my next breath. Even if you can’t see an inch in front of you.”

“I’m not afraid to speak the truth. He may be powerful, but he’s just a weak man, who proves his strength by attempting to humiliate those more powerful than he is. Someone like you, with your strength? It makes him feel incompetent—which he is. And your scars? They are a testament to your fortitude. They are proof of what you survived. They are evidence of why you are here when so many twice your age wouldn’t be. They’re not ugly. Far from it. They’re beautiful, Poppy.”

Similar Reads


A ​Court of Silver Flames, The Shadows Between Us, House of Earth and Blood, Serpent & Dove

Afterthoughts


Have you read From Blood and Ash, did you enjoy it?

What other books would you recommend to those who enjoyed this book?

Share your thoughts below, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Review - House of Earth and Blood

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent city)

Title: House of Earth and Blood
Series: Crescent City (Goodreads)
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Author: Sarah J Maas
Age Group: Adult
Source: Waterstones (purchased)


Review

So I can officially declare that I am a Maas convert!🤣I will admit however that when House of Earth and Blood was first announced I wasn’t so sure I would read it. I also had the fortune to read a NetGalley exclusive before publication and can honestly admit that the few chapters I did read I didn’t enjoy. However, looking back now I think that my lack of enjoyment was more about the fact that I don’t like reading on devices and much prefer reading in paper format. Once I finally got my hands on the hardback of House of Earth and Blood I was so glad that I didn’t turn away from this book and thankfully enjoyed every moment of reading this book.

One of the elements that I loved about House of Earth and Blood was the dual narration. We get to hear from both Hunt and Bryce’s perspectives and watch how over the course of the book they learn to overcome their initial judgements and prejudices for one another as well as the society they live in. The books blurb already states that Bryce lost her friends and remained wounded afterwards and this was one of the premeditated judgements that Hunt held about her, that she would quickly remove her scar to maintain her beautiful figure:

‘How anyone could breathe in a dress that tight was also a mystery. It was long enough that it covered the area on her thigh where the scar from that night two years ago would be—that is, if she hadn’t paid some medwitch to erase it. For someone who clearly took pains to dress nicely, he had little doubt she’d gotten it removed immediately. Party girls didn’t like scars messing with how they looked in a swimsuit.’

Yet as I’m sure your aware if you’ve read the book this judgement slowly changes. I won’t give away any spoilers but I will say this; Maas always deals with trauma in her books and Bryce is no exception to that. We are given a young beautiful women who supposedly cares more about her looks and lacks personality and depth, considering Hunt’s initial judgements, but if you read till the end you will learn that the scar Hunt alludes to holds more significance; that Bryce is in fact more than just the party girl with a need to look good, she is a young woman who has yet to overcome her trauma, loss, and guilt.

A different relationship I enjoyed was between Bryce and Ruhn. I loved watching them begin to heal their relationship after distancing themselves from one another for so long. As someone who has siblings I know that those relationships can be rocky and tricky but at the end of all the difficulties you still love your siblings. So, watching Bryce and Ruhn begin to heal their sibling rift was rather uplifting in a book that deals with some rather challenging traumas. Below is an extract where Ruhn proves once again that he is not willing to give up on his sister no matter how many times she tries to push him away. All I can say is that I’m excited to see how much further their relationship can improve in the sequel as well as getting to see more depth from Ruhn himself because I believe his character has huge potential.

She scanned his face, weighing the offer there. The hand extended. “Why?” she asked quietly. “Why keep bothering?” “Why keep pushing me away, Bryce?” His voice strained. “It wasn’t just about that fight.” She swallowed, her throat thick. “You were my best friend,” she said. “Before Danika, you were my best friend. And I … It doesn’t matter now.” She’d realized back then that the truth didn’t matter—she wouldn’t let it matter. She shrugged, as if it’d help lighten the crushing weight in her chest. “Maybe we could start over. On a trial basis only.” Ruhn started to smile. “So you’ll come watch the game?” “Juniper was supposed to come over that day, but I’ll see if she’s up for it.” Ruhn’s blue eyes twinkled like stars, but Bryce cut in, “No promises, though.” He was still grinning when she rose from her barstool.’

Synopsis (Goodreads)


Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. By day, she works for an antiquities dealer, selling barely legal magical artifacts, and by night, she parties with her friends, savouring every pleasure Lunathion—otherwise known as Crescent City— has to offer. But it all comes crumbling down when a ruthless murder shakes the very foundations of the city—and Bryce’s world.

Two years later, her job has become a dead end, and she now seeks only blissful oblivion in the city’s most notorious nightclubs. But when the murderer attacks again, Bryce finds herself dragged into the investigation and paired with an infamous Fallen angel whose own brutal past haunts his every step.

Hunt Athalar, personal assassin for the Archangels, wants nothing to do with Bryce Quinlan, despite being ordered to protect her. She stands for everything he once rebelled against and seems more interested in partying than solving the murder, no matter how close to home it might hit. But Hunt soon realizes there’s far more to Bryce than meets the eye—and that he’s going to have to find a way to work with her if they want to solve this case.

As Bryce and Hunt race to untangle the mystery, they have no way of knowing the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the darkest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir...

Key Quotes

Warning! Some swearing below
But it was Danika’s added “Love you” as Bryce slipped out into the grimy hallway that made her hesitate with her hand on the knob. It’d taken Danika a few years to say those words, and she still used them sparingly. Danika had initially hated it when Bryce said them to her—even when Bryce explained that she’d spent most of her life saying it, just in case it was the last time. In case she wouldn’t get to say goodbye to the people who mattered most.’
Tonight it had been simple enough—no guns. Hunt understood the unwritten words: make them suffer. So he had.’
“This is already a nightmare.” Isaiah coughed. “You watched Quinlan for one night.” “Ten hours, to be exact. Right until her pet chimera just appeared next to me at dawn, bit me in the ass for looking like I was dozing off, and then vanished again—right back into the apartment. Just as Quinlan came out of her bedroom and opened the curtains to see me grabbing my own ass like a fucking idiot. Do you know how sharp a chimera’s teeth are?” “No.” Hunt could have sworn he heard a smile in Isaiah’s voice. “When I flew over to explain, she blasted her music and ignored me like a fucking brat.”
She’d refused to go to therapy. […] But Bryce hadn’t shown up—not because she didn’t believe it would work. No, she knew it would work, and help, and probably make her feel better. Or at least give her the tools to try to do so. That was precisely why she hadn’t gone. From the way Hunt was staring at her, she wondered if he knew it—realized why she blew out a long breath.’

Similar Reads


From Blood and Ash, Serpent & Dove

Afterthoughts


Have you read House of Earth and Blood what did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

House of Earth and Blood is about more than just fantasy and enjoyment it deals with challenging traumas, overcoming grief and loss. The Characters are multidimensional and sassy AF!

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Blog Tour - What Beauty There Is

Title: What Beauty There Is (Goodreads)
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Mystery, Coming of age, Contemporary  
Author: Cory Anderson
Age Group: YA
Source: Paperback ARC & Netgalley

I would truly like to thank TheWriteReads for asking me to be a part of this book tour. I am also very grateful to Penguin for providing me with an ARC and Netgalley link to this book. Lastly and most importantly the biggest thank you goes to Cory Anderson for writing such an incredible book!
People will tell you the devil's a liar. They say he was from the start. The father of lies and all that stuff. But I don’t believe it. No. He tells the truth. You wouldn’t think you would be fooled with the truth. But you can.

Living with the devil.

It is not an easy thing to do.

Review

This book kept me gripped from beginning till end. I could not put it down and consumed the pages within days of starting to read What Beauty There Is. Cory Anderson is not afraid to delve into the darker side of life and though there are tough themes and issues it is without a doubt important that they exist in books as they do in real life.

One of the main themes that stood out for me was the importance of family and in particular the power of a siblings love and protection. Jack Dahl will do anything to keep him and his brother together, he will not allow anyone to separate them and take his little brother into social care. The lengths that loved ones will go to stay together and protect one another is such a strong survival instinct in Jack that I and hopefully no one else could resist or fault him for going to the lengths that he does for his little brother Matty.

There is a pervading darkness to What Beauty There Is but shot through with moments of love and of course beauty, of hope! Some lives are full of real struggles and it seems those that live with very little happiness or hope but I think what Jack and Ava show us is that there are rare moments that shine through and you have to grab onto them with both hands and live for those small and transient moments to get through the pain and struggles.

If there is one book that you read this year I urge you to make it What Beauty There Is because for wherever there is pain and struggle there is also someone who possesses a fierce amount of love and protection that saves you from drowning. Someone who makes life worth living and choses to overcome the struggles for the people that matter the most, for the relationships that truly matter and gives you a reason to keep living.

All things you choose to hold in your heart,” he says, “ have the capacity for pain.” He looks at her, looks hard. “Be careful what you choose.”

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Winter. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.

Jack Morton has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he'd do anything for. Even die for. Now with their mother gone, and their funds quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison. He chooses the money.

Ava Bardem lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Trust no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up Jack's trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or help the brothers survive.

Choices. They come at a price.

Key Quotes

"Look at me. We aren’t going to die if I give you two dollars." Matty looked at him. Those eyes gripped him. "Okay." "Do you believe me?" "Yes" "We're alright." Matty looked at Jack's hands and looked away. There is no description of stupid,  Jack thought, that you don’t fit. He said again, "We're alright." "Okay"

He whispered, “You don’t trust anyone. Do you? I don’t either. You see people. They’re smiling. Going to classes or to the movies. Doing homework at the library or out at the store with friends.” He tried to gather the right words. “You think, maybe you can be like that. One day. Maybe it can be like that.” 

Similar Reads

Shuggie Bain

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Review - A Court of Frost and Starlight

A Court of Thorns and Roses series with Faecrate print

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight 
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses (Goodreads)
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Author: Sarah J Maas
Age Group: YA
Source: Amazon (purchased)

Review

This is an absolutely fantastic little novella if you are a fan of ACOTAR. It truly resolves Feyre and Rhysand’s story that was brought to us in the worlds opening trilogy. However, what excited me most was that this novella begins to set up the future books and what we might expect for the other members of the Inner Circle and Archeron Sisters. After all we have seen Feyre begin her healing process but have yet to see Elain and Nesta face their traumas. But A Court of Frost and Starlight definitely establishes this for the future books (notably, A Court of Silver Flames is Nesta’s individual book). ACOTAR may have begun as Feyre and Rhys’s love story but this world is about truly more than that!

Even though the ACOTAR trilogy was mainly Feyre and Rhys’s story it was always about more than just them. It brought into focus some very important issues such as family conflicts, various traumas and healing from those difficult traumas. In particular sexual harassment was a key trauma suffered by both women and men, as well as the issue of family abuse. All of these issues was what made readers value the trilogy and Maas’ frankness to raise such issues in books targeted towards young adult readers. That’s why the following quote for me sums up one of the key themes raised throughout the trilogy, the power of family offering support and healing through facing and coming to terms with trauma. If you have read the series than you will be aware of the details of Cassian’s particular past, if not, then without giving away spoilers the key thing to know is that Cassian and his mother suffered abuse from their families village. Part of the healing process for Cassian was meeting Rhys and finding not only a friendship but choosing to claim each other as family, as brothers.
My mother always had gifts for Azriel and Cassian. For the latter, the initial Solstice we’d shared here had been the first time he’d received any sort of gift, Solstice or not. I could still see the tears Cassian had tried to hide as he’d opened his presents, and the tears in my mother’s eyes as she watched him.’
Now, even though there are difficult issues and themes there are still many positive and happy moments found throughout the ACOTAR trilogy and A Court of Frost and Starlight. At many times through reading this series overall I have found myself smiling and laughing time and again throughout reading about the love and friendship found between the many characters. Moments between The Inner Circle when things are peaceful and happy have always been my most favourite and ACOFAS did not disappoint as there were many of these happy occasions. The overarching story is the winter Solstice celebration, a time similar to our own Christmas, when families come together and enjoy the festivities and remind themselves of those that matter most to them (and of course who can forget the presents! cheeky Emoji). One scene that especially had me laughing and smiling is when Feyre and Cassian get drunk together and attempt to decorate the house for solstice. Of course getting drunk doesn’t lead to very good decorating and Azriel tries to fix it and whilst doing so is coaxed into joining Cass and Feyre for a drink:

Poor Az,” I said, pouring myself another glass. “Wine will make you feel better.” He glared at me, then the bottle, then Cassian … and finally stormed across the room, took the bottle from my hand, and chugged the rest. Cassian grinned with delight. Mostly because Rhys drawled from the doorway, “Well, at least now I know who’s drinking all my good wine. Want another one, Az?” Azriel nearly spewed the wine into the fire, but made himself swallow and turn, red-faced, to Rhys. “I would like to explain—” Rhys laughed, the rich sound bouncing off the carved oak moldings of the room. “Five centuries, and you think I don’t know that if my wine’s gone, Cassian’s usually behind it?” Cassian raised his glass in a salute.’

Synopsis (Goodreads)

ON THE DARKEST NIGHT, THE STARS STILL SHINE. 

Feyre's first Winter Solstice as High Lady is drawing near. With it will come a hard-earned rest from the work she, Rhys and their friends have done to rebuild the Night Court and the vastly changed the world beyond. Yet the festive atmosphere can't keep shadows from looming. Even as her own heart heals, she finds that those dearest to her have wounds that go deeper than she knew. 

AND THE SCARS OF THE PAST WILL TOUCH HER COURT IN TIMES TO COME.

Key Quotes

Elain met me halfway to the kitchen, bearing a tray of jam tarts toward the table in the dining room. Where an assortment of baked goods had already begun to take form, tiered cakes and iced cookies. Sugar-frosted buns and caramel-drizzled fruit pies. “Those look pretty,” I told her by way of greeting, nodding toward the heart-shaped cookies on her tray.
Hot cocoa or wine?” Cassian curved a wing around me, turning us toward the cellar door. “How many good bottles does little Rhysie have left?”
‘I cupped Rhys’s cheek, and he leaned into the touch as I quietly asked, “Do you think it’s stupid to wonder if painting might help others, too? Not my painting, I mean. But teaching others to paint. Letting them paint. People who might struggle the same way I do.” His eyes softened. “I don’t think that’s stupid at all.” I traced my thumb over his cheekbone, savoring every inch of contact. “It makes me feel better—perhaps it would do the same for others.”
The females bring their jewelry. I bring my weapons.” “I know a few females in this house who might take offense to that.” Cassian offered me a wicked grin in response.’

Similar Reads

Throne of Glass, From Blood and Ash, The Cruel Prince, Serpent & Dove, Kingdom of the Wicked

Afterthoughts

Sometimes it's the family we choose, our friends, that help us the most and we should cherish the family we go to choose.

Healing from trauma takes time and it isn't a quick process but a lifetimes worth of healing.

Have you read A Court of Frost and Starlight, what did you think?

What books would you recommend for readers that love Fae inspired stories?