๐ƒ๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐ฅ’๐ฌ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ – ๐€๐ง๐ง๐ž ๐Ž’๐๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง | book review

๐ƒ๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐ฅ’๐ฌ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ – ๐€๐ง๐ง๐ž ๐Ž’๐๐ซ๐ข๐ž๐ง

This is my first read of any of Anne Oโ€™Brienโ€™s work (Iโ€™ve only ever read Philippa Gregoryโ€™s historical fiction books), and I must say I really enjoyed. It goes much further back than any of Gregoryโ€™s books and I learned about a whole new European royal family.

Synopsis:

Devilโ€™s Consort starts out in July 1137 and follows the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, a duchess at 15, then married off to the second prince of France, later King Louis VII for an alliance. Eleanor finds herself in a loveless marriage with a boy king who would rather be a monk.

Quick Review:

I really enjoyed listening to this on BorrowBox, it was well-read and I was quick to get into the story (of which I am completely unfamiliar). I have mixed opinions about the leading characters – but I think that is sort of the point; a monk forced to be king, a duchess forced into a marriage because the law won’t let her remain duchess whilst unmarried, but equally – they are both quite selfish in their own way.

Star Rating: 8/10 โญ๏ธ

Book 31 of 2020

(image is edited as I only had the audiobook version and I’m rubbish at taking photos of my tablet!)

2019 Book Challenge Summary

I did it! I hit my small little goal of 12 books to read in 2019. And not only did I achieve it, I surpassed it (by one book!)

Books Read in 2019:

(All photos are my own from my Instagram @melholdenwrites)

1. Let It Snow – John Green

2. Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

3. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher

4. Doctor Whoโ€™s Time Lord Fairy Tales

5. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

6. Scarlet – Marissa Meyer

7. Wilde Like Me – Louise Pentland

8. Some Kind of Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher

9. The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

10. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

11. Dolores Claiborne – Stephen King

12. The Christmasaurus – Tom Fletcher

13. The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4) – Marissa Meyer | BOOK REVIEW

โ€œ๐šƒ๐š‘๐šŽ ๐š™๐šŠ๐š•๐šŠ๐šŒ๐šŽ ๐š ๐šŠ๐š•๐š•๐šœ ๐š‘๐šŠ๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐š‹๐šŽ๐šŽ๐š— ๐š‹๐š•๐šŽ๐šŽ๐š๐š’๐š—๐š ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐šข๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š›๐šœ, ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š—๐š˜ ๐š˜๐š—๐šŽ ๐šŽ๐š•๐šœ๐šŽ ๐šœ๐šŽ๐šŽ๐šœ ๐š’๐š.โ€ ๐Ÿ‘‘ ๐ŸŽ ๐Ÿ“–

๐Ÿšจ ๐•Š๐•ก๐• ๐•š๐•๐•–๐•ฃ ๐”ธ๐•๐•–๐•ฃ๐•ฅ โš ๏ธ

Quick Synopsis:

The fourth and final book of The Lunar Chronicles follows Cinder and her friends on their crusade against evil Queen Levana of Luna. As with every LC book, we are introduced to a new protagonist, the beautiful and crazed Princess Winter – driven mad by her refusal to use the powers of manipulation every Lunar is born with. Winter joins the fight, accompanied by her loving and loyal guard, and helps begin a revolution against Levana, but will they succeed?

Review:

Itโ€™s been a very long time since a series has drawn me in like this. Despite the last book being 823 pages, not a single word felt unnecessary. The characters develop realistically, there is even a magical version of mental illness, and to top it all off – a lost princess with a cybernetic gun-arm. What more could you want from a book series?

Marissa Meyer has a brilliant approach to this fairytale sci-fi, using every new book to develop her existing characters, whilst giving us a few new core ones to fall in love with. Winter is no different.

In Book 4, we are introduced to Princess Winter; step-daughter to the tyrannical Queen Levana. We see how Winter has become weakened and abused by her step-mother, and yet – despite never using her glamour – is still cherished by the Lunar people.

Marissa Meyer is also brilliant at approaching relationships in a loving yet realistic way. She acknowledges Captain Thorneโ€™s floozy past. She writes of deep first loves, experienced by a petite Rapunzel character (Cress) who falls in love with the mere idea of the Captain.

We see Emperor Kai and Cinder deal with the complications of living on two different planets, and we finally get to see how a red-headed farm girl and her mutant wolf boyfriend cope with the reality of being together.

Ratings:

Overall Series Rating > 5 ๐ŸŒŸ
Book 1 Rating > 5 โญ๏ธ
Book 2 Rating > 4 โญ๏ธ
Book 3 Rating > 4.5 โญ๏ธ
Book 4 Rating > 5 โญ๏ธ

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐‹๐š๐ฌ๐ญ ๐“๐ฎ๐๐จ๐ซ – ๐๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ฉ๐ฉ๐š ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ‘‘ | quick book review (spoilers!)

โ€™๐’€๐’๐’– ๐’…๐’๐’โ€™๐’• ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’‡๐’‚๐’—๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’† ๐’‚๐’• ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’š๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’•โ€™๐’” ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’“๐’• ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’…๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’š๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’„๐’Š๐’‘๐’๐’†๐’” ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’…๐’‚๐’š.โ€™

Quick Review: 4.5 โญ๏ธ

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐‹๐š๐ฌ๐ญ ๐“๐ฎ๐๐จ๐ซ – ๐๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ฉ๐ฉ๐š ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ“š ๐Ÿ‘‘


Despite only having read a third of the Tudor & Plantagenet novels, even I can hear the authorโ€™s finality in the way she writes the last book of the series. Another story of sisters hindered by their births being so close to the throne; so hindered by the ambition of others.


Lady Jane Grey – the Nine Day Queen, Lady Katherine – imprisoned for marrying without permission until she died of heartbreak, and the Lady Mary, the most resilient of all the Grey sisters; a born dwarf struggling against life as a courtier.

You can not help but feel sorry for them and for the lengths at wish they suffered just for being cousins to the infinitely jealous Queen Elizabeth I.

๐Ÿ“– Book 26 of 2020 ๐Ÿ“š

Sea Witch & Sea Witch Rising – Series Book Review

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve just started writing a mermaid/fantasy novel for Camp NaNoWriMo 2020! As part of my research, I’ve been reading as many mermaid books as possible. So I was delighted when I came across these two by Sarah Henning.ย 

Star Ratings:

Sea Witch: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Sea Witch Rising: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Series Overall:ย  โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Series Review:ย 

51FzutceDuL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_

I read these books back-to-back, so I’ll admit I skipped the first chapter of Sea Witch Rising, as it was just the last chapter for the first book. I have already posted a single review for Sea Witch, which you can find here.

Sea Witch is the story of a human witch caught up with two princes in a kingdom that fears magic. To further complicate things; this kingdom also contains mermaids, and the magic to turn mermaids into humans – but at a price. When mermaids, witches, and royal human princes mix – you know you are in for an interesting ride. Evie, the witch and our main protagonist, has barely touched the surface of her own magic; always fighting its call to stay close to her best friend, Prince Nick.

45917112._SY475_Sea Witch Rising continues fifty years after the first book, revealing what happened to the witch Evie. Transformed at the end of Sea Witch, she is no longer human but has become the Sea Witch herself.

Despite being feared by mermaids; a fear drummed up by their power-hungry king, one of the king’s own daughters seeks Evie’s magic. Alia, desperately in love with the new king – Prince Nick’s grandson – and begs the Sea Witch to turn her into a human. She consents, but then has to face the anger of not on the Sea King- but Alia’s sisters. Alia’s twin, Runa, makes her own bargain with the witch in hopes she can save her sister from her mistakes.

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed the story threading the books together, however, I did find the past and present chapter switches in Sea Witch a little confusing – but I think that is down to having one voice actor with no tonal changes (I listened to both books on BorrowBox).

Although I enjoyed the incorporation of a new generation of mermaids and magic in Sea Witch Rising, I wish we had more information on what happened to the princes in the fifty years that passed. I think – as most people would – that I would have enjoyed the ending of Sea Witch more if she had been given her happy ending. But, if she had then Sea Witch Rising couldn’t have happened, and we would be deprived of new wave characters.

Sea Witch Rising ends with a possible lead into a third book, so I really hope Sarah Henning goes with it. Runa is an intriguing character, and she brings back the feistiness from the first book, whilst keeping a vulnerability that leads down an unexpected – and romantic – path.

I would recommend this series! It is YA, but I would suggest parents check it out before letting a child under 12 read it (there are some descriptions of blood and death, which some children can be sensitive to.) If you enjoy the Disney Twisted Tales, then this series is a good read for you; with some subtle nods to the original Hans Christain Anderson story, and The Little Mermaid movie we all know and love.

๐‘บ๐’†๐’‚ ๐‘พ๐’Š๐’•๐’„๐’‰ – ๐‘บ๐’‚๐’“๐’‚๐’‰ ๐‘ฏ๐’†๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐ŸŒŠ ๐Ÿงœโ€โ™€๏ธ – Quick Book Review

Quick Review: 4.5 โญ๏ธ

I found this take on the original The Little Mermaid really interesting. The author is clearly aware of both the original story, and the Disney adaptation as there are elements of both weaves throughout.

I wonโ€™t spoil it – but I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling, and there were definitely some twists and turns that I didnโ€™t see coming.

I will say that I found the use of a present tense first person narrative a little confusing at times, as the book covers two main characters POV, and also goes back and forth in time. This May be because I was listening to it as an audiobook and there is only one voice actress (who does a brilliant job).

I would highly recommend for anyone that enjoys a mermaid or a fairy tale twisted retelling. Itโ€™s a little bit gory, so I wouldnโ€™t advise for children under 12.

QOTD: how do people take beautiful photos of their tablets and e-readers on IG? I canโ€™t get the glare off mine ๐Ÿ“ธ ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

Book 27 of 2020 ๐Ÿงœโ€โ™€๏ธ ๐Ÿ“–

Read via Borrow Box ๐ŸŽง

๐™ณ๐šŠ๐š ๐š— ๐š๐š˜ ๐™ผ๐š’๐š๐š—๐š’๐š๐š‘๐š | ๐š™๐š˜๐šŽ๐š๐š›๐šข ๐ŸŒ“

Dawn brings the peace

Twilight will provide the calm,

and Midnight always remembers.

๐™ฒ๐š‘๐šŠ๐š—๐š๐šŽ ๐™ต๐šž๐š๐šž๐š›๐šŽ ๐™ท๐š’๐šœ๐š๐š˜๐š›๐šข | ๐š™๐š˜๐šŽ๐š๐š›๐šข

We are living through history.

One day,

children will flick through textbooks, and

wonder why the world

thought it was acceptable

to isolate people

for the colour of their skin.

We are living through history,

and now is the time to change.

๐š‚๐šž๐š—๐š›๐š’๐šœ๐šŽ ๐šƒ๐š˜ ๐š‚๐šž๐š—๐š›๐š’๐šœ๐šŽ | ๐š™๐š˜๐šŽ๐š๐š›๐šข โ˜€๏ธ

Sunrise brought hope and joy,

Mid-morning came with youth.

Noon reminded we were halfway there,

Afternoon poured the tea.

Evening turned down the lights

Nightfall dragged us through the dark,

waiting and whispering, wishing

Sunrise would come again.

I Need To Read More Diverse Books | #blackouttuesday

I approached #blackouttuesdayย like many people have – as a chance to educate myself. But I didnโ€™t know where to start. I signed petitions, I shared useful links where people can donate money, I read articles, but I was lost as to what action I could continue to take; to take it past one day of social media blackouts.

nicola yoon books photo copyright Melissa Holden 2020

 

I love to read, and as I sat staring at my bookshelves today, I realised I wasnโ€™t seeing much diversity. So, I googled every author on there to see just how many were written by someone who isnโ€™t white.

Two.

Out of 67 books, only 2 of them are by a black author – both by Nicola Yoon. (Who is an amazing writer, and I would highly recommend you check out her work if you havenโ€™t already.) But itโ€™s not good enough. I need to do better. I canโ€™t let it all pass me by anymore just because I donโ€™t understand enough about it.

QOTD: Can I please, please have suggestions of books from diverse authors. I want to re-educate myself; I want to learn to be better.

Letโ€™s strive to be the change the world needs right now.

Here is a Google Doc I have pulled together of all the books, poetry and creative resources I have been recommended so far. I hope it helps: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11-NlLwi-WmXVGZEK8BAnJDDkF2nuvTBcQHNk_dHx7DY/edit?usp=sharing