Fantasy Favourites Read-a-thon Introduction

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Hello all! Fantasy Favourites Read-a-thon will be starting on the 10th July and the lovely hosts have provided participants with a set of questions for the introduction post, in order to get to know each other. Here goes…

Who are you?
Hello! I’m Chantelle. Socially awkward. Fantasy fan. Strive to work in Publishing. That about covers it. Haha, not really but I won’t go on.  

Why are you joining the read-a-thon?
I participated last year and had fun; also, I’ve been a bit lazy lately with blogging so this is the perfect excuse to write some posts.

Which books do you intend to read?
I have already read the ‘Throne of Glass’ and ‘Grisha’ series, so I will be reading the ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series. I’m intrigued by Greek mythology so I predict I’ll enjoy this aspect of the books. 

How many pages do you think you’ll manage?
I have no idea. It all depends on how busy I am during that week. But I’ll most likely finish book one–I have the first three books.

What’s your favourite thing about the fantasy genre?
Probably the different worlds each author creates and when an author brings magic and fantasy into the real world setting making you secretly feel like anything is possible. We all hope Hogwarts exists, right? That we’re not really muggles? Just me? It’s nice to escape every once in a while and Fantasy provides that.   

Which fantasy books do you always recommend?
ANYTHING BY BRANDON SANDERSON! The man is a genius! It can be incredibly difficult to explain why it is you love something so much, sometimes, and that may sound strange, but when you get swept along in a story it can be hard to pinpoint that special something. There are however two things with Sanderson’s books which I know I love and they are: Characterisation and world building. 

Sanderson has a way of creating characters that you come to hold dear to your heart. For example, in Sanderson’s ‘Mistborn’ series–the second era books–each time someone is mentioned from the first era, I became very emotional. And my Three Amigos! Wax, Wayne and Marasi, I love so much. Then there’s David from the ‘Reckoners’ series; his metaphors are funny and he is just so adorable. And Lightsong! Omg, I can’t stop! See what I mean? Love all the characters!

The world’s Sanderson creates are always guaranteed to be unique, intricate and magical in some way. Okay, this answer is stretching on. I’ll stop now. Go read a Sanderson book.

Which fantasy books are you dying to read?
The rest of Sanderson’s books. Come on, you had to know that was coming, haha. Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova is out next month and I’m looking forward to reading that. Must. Know. What. Happens. 

If you could travel to one fantasy world, which one would it be? (I know it’s hard, but try not to say Hogwarts.)
No Hogwarts? Where else is there? Okay, okay. I can think of another fantasy world… *Tumbleweed blows across my path* Um… So many have death and destruction, so it puts me off. The Shire? Pretty scenery. A countryside life seems nice. I want the Allomancy elements from ‘Mistborn’ though. 

And that’s it, folks. No more questions. Head on over to Olivia’s or Inge/Aly’s blogs and take a look if you want to read more about Fantasy Favourites Read-a-thon. Bye! *waves*

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Fantasy Favourites Read-a-thon

 

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It’s that time of year again when Olivia @ Olivia’s Catastrophe and Inge and Aly @ Of Wonderland organise the Fantasy Favourites Read-a-thon. Excited? I am!

So the gist of it is that from 10th July until 18th July a read-a-thon will take place. You don’t actually have to read fantasy books but it would be nice if you could include some. There are three featured series–which you don’t have to read, you can read different ones if you want and can try and adapt the various challenges to these other books. The three series are:

  • ‘Throne of Glass’ by Sarah J. Maas
  • ‘Grisha’ by Leigh Bardugo
  • ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ by Rick Riordan

I have read the first two series listed but I’ve yet to read the ‘Percy Jackson’ series (is that a collective *gasp* I’m hearing? I know. I know. I’m not sure why I haven’t read them yet. I don’t even own them *hangs head in shame*). So in the near future I plan on buying them.

Should be fun!

Anyone else joining in the fun? What books do you plan on reading?

Book Review: The Rose and the Dagger

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Author: Renée Ahdieh
Published: Putnam; Penguin; 2016

Pages: 416
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, YA
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4 out of 5 stars

Possibly slight spoilers for the series.

Following the events of the night of the storm which plagued the city of Rey, Shahrzad and Khalid have been forced to temporarily remain apart. Shahrzad is reunited with her family and friends in the desert. Residing in a camp where secrets are afoot. With kingdoms on the verge of war and a curse threatening to keep the king and queen apart, they must find a way to break it once and for all.

The Rose and the Dagger is the final instalment in this breathtaking duology and I was immensely excited to get my hands on it. Overall, it did not disappoint. It was lovely to reunite with Shazi, the fierce and full of life Calipha, and Khalid, the tortured and misunderstood Caliph–along with the other characters which we get to see more of in this book.

There aren’t many complaints I have in regards to TRatD apart from two small ones: one being that it was a little slow at times and the other being the way in which the curse was broken. If I remember correctly, I also found The Wrath and the Dawn to be a tad slow in the beginning but then I became absorbed in the story completely; with TRatD the same happened at times, but it didn’t bother me too much. That darn curse… From the first book the curse has been this big thing. The reason for many deaths and the possible destruction of the city if not fulfilled. The thing standing between Shazi and Khalid…. So, I suppose I expected a bit more? I won’t reveal what happens but I will say I had a Harry Potter flashback, of sorts.

With the small negatives out the way… There is much to love about this conclusion of the series. Lets start with the characters. I continue to love each characters’ development. Shazi continues to be outspoken and loves those she cares for fiercely. It was wonderful for people to finally start to see in Khalid what Shazi does. I am a Khalid fan. I love seeing a character whom doesn’t lie–rarely, as he would say. He is a person often of few words, speaking when it really matters; as someone of often few words, speaking when I really have something to say, I can appreciate this. What I noticed in this book is that we get to know secondary characters a lot more and see their development which I always think is important.

The words. At times, I found myself briefly stopping to take in the beautiful and often wise words.

It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone.
It was about belonging together.

For it was easy to be good and kind in times of plenty. The trying times were the moments that defined a man.

It does not take courage to kill. It takes courage to live.

A word of warning, never read this series while hungry because you may find your mouth watering. Ahdieh loves to include the most delicious descriptions of food, haha.

Have a box of tissues ready because if you’re like me you will find yourself crying into the book, muttering through the sobs “No. No. No. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” There are aspects of the book I did not see coming, which I liked. Although I was cursing at the book, I liked the surprises; I liked being on the edge of my seat. Honestly though, I could have done without the reason for my crying–just rip out my heart why don’t you, haha. And that epilogue… *sings* I am happy. Oh so happy.

A story of love, friendship and magic. What more could you want? Enchanting.

Tell me, did anyone else see a Harry Potter similarity when it came to the curse being broken? Did you find this to be a fitting conclusion to the series?

Fairy Loot Bookish Subscription Service in all its Glorious Beauty

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So, if you don’t already know about Fairy Loot, it is a YA bookish subscription service where you can purchase a one off box or sign up for a 3 month or 6 month subscription. This particular subscription service has more of a focus on fantasy which I love.

The March box theme was retellings. I’m a big fan of retellings and long for the day that a Mulan retelling is published! The box arrived beautifully presented and I’m loving the purple.

The first item I encountered was this lovely shadowhunters candle from Murray May Designs. Who doesn’t love a bookish candle, right?

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The second item was a beautiful Alice in Wonderland necklace from Bunnys Beads UK that came presented on this playing card which I think was a nice touch (Although, the Queen of Hearts would have been even better 😉 ). It also came in a cute organza bag, not pictured.

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The next item was this cute bookish button/badge from Button Nook.

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I then came across these adorable ‘Throne of Glass’ magnetic bookmarks from The Sticker Alley which I have wanted for ages! They’re just so cute! #TeamChaol all the way! I’m currently using the Chaol one while reading the book from the box.

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Another nice surprise was this beautiful constellations notebook from Newton and the Apple. This is perfect for me because I love anything Space related and it’s the perfect reason for me to finally start a quote journal like I’ve wanted to do for a while now.

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And now, finally, the book. This is a book in all honesty I can’t remember if I’d heard of; I know I’ve heard of an Aladdin retelling but I’m not sure if this was it. Having never read an Aladdin retelling before, I was excited to start The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury–which I am currently reading and enjoying. Great choice Anissa! The book also came with a signed bookplate and bookmark.

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Another little surprise is that each box contains a card which has a hashtag written upon it shared with one other Fairy Loot buyer. You use this hashtag to find the other person online in order to buddy read. This is optional, so don’t feel obligated to participate. It’s a creative addition to a subscription service.

This is a beautifully put together package that I’m very glad I ordered. Now go forth and order Aprils box which has Intrigue as its’ theme.

Anissa, you should be proud! It was a great first box.

Do You Need to Like Characters?

So, recently after reading Vicious by V. E. Schwab, I got to thinking–Do I need to like book characters in order to like the book? Is it necessary to feel some connection with characters? To like something about them? For them to have at least one redeeming quality in order for me to truly enjoy the book? In short, the answer is yes.

Books need to have a good plot; they need to be going somewhere, but in truth I love books which are character driven (This is why I love ‘The Raven Cycle’ by Maggie Stiefvater so much). This is what truly pulls me towards a book: the characters. Books often have–broken down  into the most basic categories–the villain and, for lack of a better term, the hero. You may be drawn to the ‘villain’ if they are charismatic–think the Darkling from the ‘Grisha’ series, I know a few people who like him–but ultimately you root for the ‘good’ guys to win (I hope so anyway; stay away from the dark side. Yes, I’m talking to you, haha). So ask yourself: What if there are no ‘good’ guys?

Reading Vicious I found myself not liking anyone really, not until the book was well underway. The book is most definitely interesting, complex and thought-provoking… But those pesky characters were often difficult to like. The two characters I came to like the most were probably Mitch and Sydney but I still didn’t fall in love with them. The reason why I gave Vicious four stars is because I did by the end feel something for some of these characters –I’ll admit, even Victor–otherwise, it would have been a 3/3.5 star rating and this says something about the intelligence of Schwabs’ writing alone. The portrayal of heroes and villains was a really interesting one and the idea of ExtraOrdinaries I found fascinating.

There is a quote at the front of Vicious:

Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.
— Joseph Brodsky

Maybe a cynical view but that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t some truth to it. And this is basically what Vicious is about: The bad and the worst. Although, I do want characters to have complexity and not be completely perfect–because this is just unrealistic–I also want them to ultimately strive to do the right thing. I suppose this is where I had an issue with the characters in Vicious, because even though some of them believed themselves to be doing the right thing–I’m looking at you Eli–most of their motive does not involve the intention to do the ‘right’ thing. Basically, I have no desire to be friends with them. I need a mostly ‘good’ and a mostly ‘bad’ and the main characters in Vicious are just mostly ‘bad’ which sadly hindered my overall enjoyment of this intelligent book.

So, as you can probably tell, I need to really like characters in order to LOVE a book but what about you dear readers? Do you need to like the characters to ensure you love the book? Have you read Vicious?

Author Events: Part 2

Hello. Hello. Hello! I planned on writing Part 2 sooner but I have been abroad so this is a tad later than I wanted, but better late than never. So you may remember from Author Events: Part 1 I spoke about the awkwardness of meeting authors and the Pierce Brown event I went to at Waterstones Piccadilly… Well, I went and added more awkwardness into my life – I know, right? Why do I do it to myself – by going to another Pierce Brown event. Yes. That’s right. I got to meet Pierce Brown TWICE. Don’t get jealous now – hopefully, the giveaway at the end will ease your pain a little. 😉

The awesome Dani at Dani Reviews Things invited me to a private Howler party at Hodder and because of the extremely generous person that I am (haha), I got some swag for you AND got two of the items signed – more on that later. It was an amazing night! I met some new people, got some free swag, got a little tipsy and got to meet Pierce again. By some miracle I managed to utter more than one word to him but mostly the power of speech deserted me again. Oh, and one very surreal thing happened: I was part of a group hug WITH PIERCE BROWN! Dani, Anissa and myself somehow ended up in a group hug with him. Seriously a bizarre moment. OK. Now I bet you’re really jealous. Sorry, gloating is bad. I shall stop now. (Bad, Chantelle.)

Giveaway time!

So I have a signed Red Rising tote bag, two Hodder buttons and three posters (one is signed) to give away. The winner has 48 hrs to get back to me after I contact them, otherwise I will choose another winner. Also, I will not be accepting entries from those whom only enter competitions; I will be checking Twitter and if I see only competition entries, you will be disqualified. Sorry! UK and Europe only.

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Author Events: Part 1

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   Dark Societies – In Conversation With Pierce Brown at Waterstones Piccadilly.

 

 

 

Yes. That’s right. I had the pleasure of going to the Pierce Brown event – the author of the ‘Red Rising’ trilogy, for those of you who don’t know – on the 20th February in London for his first UK event. If you haven’t read Browns’ books yet then you should – you’re in for a treat. The event started with Pierce answering questions asked by Leila, the organiser of the Dark Societies event, followed by the audience asking questions and then a book signing.

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It was a fun night, a big part of this was due to Pierce being a delight to listen to. It becomes abundantly clear soon after Pierce starts to speak that he is an extremely intelligent person and also FUNNY – he had everyone laughing and to be honest seems to be the complete package, it really isn’t fair. But the purpose of this post isn’t actually to gush about Pierce Brown – but seriously, he seems like a really great guy and took the time to talk to each person – but was inspired by this event and is in fact about events in general and how nerve-wracking they can be.

It’s not often that I go to author events and truth be told, the main reason for this is because I’m a socially awkward fruitcake – that, and the fact that I hate public transport! Why can’t these events be held at places which I can drive to?! It takes time for me to truly feel comfortable around people so I’m usually awkward around strangers, but place me in a room with an author and I fall apart, haha. I work in retail and on occasion we get ‘celebrities’ come into the store and I’m pretty sure I’ve spoken to someone who is in a band – I’m like 98 per cent sure it’s him – and that doesn’t bother me much, maybe because I’m doing my job at the time, but when it comes to meeting authors it’s a whole other story. And, I’ve come to a conclusion: It’s because authors are my rock stars.

Where some people may get all flustered around their music idols, I get tongue-tied around writers. It’s not just due to the fact that I admire their work but the situation in which it all takes place: you find yourself approaching a table, occupied by a beloved author, waiting to get your books signed and you’re confronted with the giant question of “What do I say?!” Yes, maybe it’s a good idea to think of a question before hand…but what if you can’t think of one you like? Or you walk up there and you forget what you want to ask? Or, what if you’re so nervous that you can barely speak? In my case, the latter is definitely what happened. What’s so frustrating is, I come away from the event remembering what it is I would have liked to have said. When Pierce asked me who my favourite character is, why did I just say the same as my friend? (Dani @dani_reviews.) Although Sevro is definitely a favourite of mine – the dude makes me laugh! – why didn’t I mention how much I like Ragnor? and how my favourite moments from the books were often scenes between Darrow and Sevro? Why? Why? Why?

After events – or just after meeting new people – I find myself questioning the impression that I have made, although to be honest, it’s quite possible that no impression at all is made because authors meet A LOT of people and can’t be expected to remember everyone – unless they have a photographic memory, of course. Anyway, the point that I’m working towards – sorry I am getting there, I promise – is that even if you are a socially awkward fruitcake – or carrot cake, because Pierce said he likes carrot cake, haha. Me too! – don’t let these opportunities pass you by. Trust me, if I could survive the evening then you can too. Take along a family member or a friend as support – and leave them to do the talking, if you’re like me – and enjoy the experience. Hearing Pierce talk was definitely worth the trip!

A couple of days later I got to meet Pierce again, and yes, I was still incredibly nervous but I feel as though I did a little better, but more on that in ‘Part 2’ (and a giveaway).

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Am I the only one that finds these events so incredibly awkward?Surely not, right? Let me know your experiences with author events – any embarrassing ones? Anyone else read the ‘Red Rising’ series? Did Morning Star make you cry? I did! Anyone met Pierce Brown? He’s a lovely guy, right?