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 

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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š˜๐š•๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐š•๐šŠ๐š’๐š‹๐š˜๐š›๐š—๐šŽ – ๐š‚๐š๐šŽ๐š™๐š‘๐šŽ๐š— ๐™บ๐š’๐š—๐š | Book Review

โ€˜๐šƒ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽโ€™๐šœ ๐š—๐š˜ ๐š‹๐š’๐š๐šŒ๐š‘ ๐š˜๐š— ๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š›๐š๐š‘ ๐š•๐š’๐š”๐šŽ ๐šŠ ๐š–๐š˜๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐š๐š›๐š’๐š๐š‘๐š๐šŽ๐š—๐šŽ๐š ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐š”๐š’๐š๐šœ.โ€™

๐™ณ๐š˜๐š•๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐š•๐šŠ๐š’๐š‹๐š˜๐š›๐š—๐šŽ – ๐š‚๐š๐šŽ๐š™๐š‘๐šŽ๐š— ๐™บ๐š’๐š—๐š

๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜†:

Dolores Claiborne has a story to tell. But not quite what the police had expected. Dolores Claiborne has a confession to make… (taken from the blurb).

๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜„: 4/5 โญ๏ธ

A good read if youโ€™re looking to dip into Stephen Kingโ€™s mind without delving into the abyss that is The Green Mile (Iโ€™ve never been brave enough!)

The main character, Dolores Claiborne, spends a long time telling a long story – and every word is necessary.

The book is written primarily in a one-person stream of consciousness, in the voice of a 66-year-old housekeeper and carer from Little Tall Island, Maine.

Stephen King has always been a truthful, visceral author, and he has no problem capturing the voice of an old, troubled woman.

My only qualm was that I struggled to get into it due to the way itโ€™s written, but once you get over the colloquial style – it sucks you in.

Would highly recommend!

Let It Snow โ€“ John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle| A YEAR IN BOOKS

Title: Let It Snow

Authors: John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

I donโ€™t usually reach for festive books โ€“ let alone romance novels – but the combination of a cute cover and John Greenโ€™s name caught me initially. And then I started reading, and the book reeled me in all by itself.

As the book came out in 2008 โ€“ I am very late to the game with this one โ€“ I doubt you need an in-depth summary of the plot, so Iโ€™ll give you a brief one.

Let It Snow follows the story of Gracetown, a small American town in the middle of nowhere. Itโ€™s Christmas Eve and love โ€“ and the worse snowstorm for fifty years โ€“ is in the air.

The book is written in three parts, one part per author, and they take us on a journey through Gracetown as the snow takes its toll on cars, cheerleaders, and relationships.

All the characters in the novel are individual and brilliant in their own right, but my favourite pair had to be Stuart and Jubilee. They are the beautiful result of kindness from a stranger and a derailed train (a train whose passengers make quite the effect on Christmas Eve).

Stuart is a heartbroken, sweet, brotherly guy who opens his home to Jubilee on Christmas Eve when she bravely ventures away from the train in search of warmth. His over-bearing but harmless, Jewish mother is determined to get the two of them together and makes it her personal mission in life to do so.

Jubilee has found herself alone on Christmas Eve after her parents are charmingly arrested in a brawl at a Flobie House sale, and she gets sent to California to spend the holidays with her grandparents.

But then, as her day gets worse and she ends up in a Waffle House full of cheerleaders in an attempt to escape the broken-down train, a handsome stranger invites her home for Christmas.

I could spend hours talking about this book โ€“ and I probably will to my S.O (feel sorry for him!), but you would probably get bored of hearing about it, so Iโ€™ll make my point.

Let It Snow is a charming, witty, off-beat Christmas romance novel, that shows that every story has another side, that every loner, weirdo and shy teen deserves love, and that Christmas Eve is the kind of day where magic can happen โ€“ even in a snowstorm.

Star Rating: *****

Audiobook Review and Reflect: Talking As Fast As I Can – Lauren Graham

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I’ve just had that ‘staring-at-the-wall-with-a-fresh-book-shaped-whole-in-my-heart’ moment. Loralie Gilmore (I mean, Lauren Graham) just spent four hours reading me a book.

I was in the city today, so I’ve been on a lot of trains and tubes. It was a new experience to listen to someone talk to me as I tapped in at London Bridge Station, or raced down the stairs to catch the next Northern Line tube. Her soothing voice filling my head. She had me in fits of laughter, followed by bursts of sadness or melancholy. I suspect I looked slightly deranged on public transport today.

In the background, as I absorb and write this review, There She Goes – The La’s, plays quietly through my headphones. I felt the need to listen to The Gilmore Girls soundtrack; stopping Stars Hollow from leaving me straight away. There’s a warmth in my fingertips that I only get when I need to write.ย  It’s late, so I’ve got a hot chocolate sat, steaming in my chilly office space, waiting to be sipped.

It is strange, listening to her voice. I can picture her, sat with her legs curled up on a comfy sofa, coffee cupped between her hands. She’s telling me her story, her life. But it’s like hearing a familiar tale with a whole new character. I know it, and yet I don’t.

Loralie Gilmore raised me. I was Rory. Luke was my step-dad. Books made me safe. I’m back in Stars Hollow, however now it has that dewy glaze of a warm memory. That’s what it’s like listening to Lauren Graham read Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore To Gilmore.ย 

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Talking As Fast As I Can is a charming, delightful book, and makes for an interesting audiobook on Audible. Graham takes us on a journey from Kindergarten to the end of filming Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.

She shares a lot, the usual witty anecdotes, but also some deep, personal information that anyone may have left out. Lauren Graham’s attention to detail is also someone quite wonderful to observe. She goes on a tangent about a blue coat from The Gilmore Girls set for several paragraphs, which is simply enchanting to read.

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Lauren Graham makes every single word seem and sound magic. Speaking in particular for the audiobook, hearing her read the book herself gives it an added layer of intimacy which is missing from some audiobooks. You can hear the laughter in her voice when she recalls a conversation with a beloved friend. Her tone carries the weight of the time they found of Gilmore Girls was over. She sounds… affected. It is beautiful to listen to.

I realize this is more of a Lauren Graham worship than a review of her book as a format, or as a piece of writing. Perhaps I have been influenced because I listened to it rather than read it. But all I know for sure is, Loralie Gilmore just told me a story, and I loved every minute of it.

If you are a fan of Gilmore Girls, of Parenthood or just of the wonderful Lauren Graham as a human being, I strongly urge you to read or listen to this book. It’s life-affirming, charming and downright enjoyable to consume.

 

Gilmore Girls Spotify Playlist:

 

Alan The Christmas Donkey | Recent Reads

โ€‹Recent Reads: Whilst on the train back from Wales recently,  me and my mom ended up reading Alan The Christmas Donkey by Tracy Garton. 

It’s a sweet, funny book all about the donkey sanctuary the author set up twenty years ago, and the donkeys she adopts along the way; the most mischievous of all being Alan. 

It’s a quick read and a good laugh, and quite an eye opener to the amount of work that goes into these sanctuaries. Worth a read! 

They have a website where you can learn a little bit more about their donkeys: http://www.radcliffedonkeys.com