Chrissi Cupboard Month

All posts in the Chrissi Cupboard Month category

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) – Marissa Meyer

Published November 11, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

What did I think?:

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my arguments for giving a series another shot. I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the first book in the series, Cinder but I was persuaded to carry on and after Scarlet and Cress, I became quite the fan. Fairest is another fantastic addition to the world that Marissa Meyer has created and is in fact, a novella that should ideally be read between the third book, Cress and just before the final book in the series, Winter. I don’t think you should feel obligated to read this short tale (I know not everyone loves novellas) and you won’t miss out on anything important but personally, I thought it really brought something special to the series as a whole and if you have the opportunity and the inclination to read it you definitely should!

I say you won’t miss anything if you choose not to read it because in Fairest we actually travel back to the past, more specifically the past of Queen Levana, following her childhood and adolescence with absent, cold parents and the events that precipitated the horrific accident she had which leads her to hide her true self away from others by using glamour. I don’t really want to say too much about what happens in her life but the reader certainly comes to understand why she has become such a wicked, calculating villain in the most recent novels. Levana certainly goes through some harrowing experiences which may even lead to you feeling some sympathy for her as a character but in fact, it is the way that she deals with these issues and wreaks her revenge that leaves you with little hope for her redemption.

This was such a fascinating insight into the heart and mind of the Lunar Chronicles’ most despised villain and even though it is brief, at merely 222 pages, it packs an almighty lot of action, intrigue and emotion into those pages making it feel much “meatier,” as a result. I love to hate Queen Levana in this series but I was so impressed how Marissa Meyer managed to elicit my pity and sympathy at points in the narrative when she faced certain trials in her life. Not for long, mind you. By the end, she was completely back to the mean, nasty and despicable character that we know and appreciate from the full-length novels in the series. I just have to mention the cover art as well for this series which is truly magnificent and was a huge factor in me picking up these books in the first place. The Lunar Chronicles is due to finish with the final novel, Winter which I’m eagerly anticipating but have to admit to feeling a bit sad realising this is soon all going to be over! Until the re-read that is.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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The Next Together (The Next Together #1) – Lauren James

Published October 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

How many times can you lose the person you love? 

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, “original” historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

What did I think?:

I really love having a sister who is also a book blogger. She understands the excitement of review copies and makes some brilliant recommendations that, because she is my sister and obviously knows what I like, I’m certain when she raves about a book that I should expect great things. This was the case with The Next Together, part of a duology and encompassing so many genres that you would think it would feel a bit muddled. Not in the slightest. This novel is part historical fiction, part science fiction, part fantasy and part romance and manages to slot into each of these categories with ease and grace making it such an exciting and rewarding reading experience.

This is the story of Katherine and Matthew who have lived many lives/reincarnations, from the The Siege of Carlisle and The Crimeon War in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively, to the near futures of 2019 and 2039. Each time they live their lives they encompass different roles i.e. a noble lady and her servant, an ambitious journalist and his eager assistant, two talented scientists who make a breakthrough discovery and finally, two teenagers who are attempting to find out more and clear the names of the scientists who pre-dated them. In each life, they meet each other and fall deeply in love and then are torn apart when something happens in that particular time period to kill one of the pair. The story based in 2039 is critically important and may shed some light on why Katherine and Matthew can’t simply have a “happy ever after,” but we get some wonderful glimpses of those three other past lives that are both poignant and heart-warming.

As I mentioned before, this book has got a bit of everything genre wise, and I loved how the author combined all the elements to make this a fascinating, exciting and at times, nail biting read that I thoroughly enjoyed. As with all romance novels, I’m always worried that the romance could come off as a bit cheesy but I had no need to worry with The Next Together. Katherine’s wonderful and hilarious sense of humour and Matt’s strong, dependable persona made their relationship a delight to read about and wasn’t at all sickly sweet or unbelievable. I adored how Lauren James told the story in a mixture of notes, emails etc between Katherine and Matt which provided a lovely modern contrast between the more historical sections of the narrative and again, for me, made the love between them feel all the more authentic. I’ll be reading the second novel in the duology, The Last Beginning very soon and cannot wait to get started (especially after the gripping ending!) If it is in any way, shape or form as beautiful as The Next Together I’m in for a huge treat.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Queen Of Shadows (Throne Of Glass #4) – Sarah J. Maas

Published July 23, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

What did I think?:

Have I mentioned that I’m an unashamedly desperate and adoring Throne Of Glass groupie? Because I am and with every book in the series, Sarah J. Maas’ world keeps getting more complex and the plot practically explodes with even more intricate details. Seriously, I’m beginning to wonder whether the author had this whole thing mapped out in her head from day one or if she is making it up as she goes along because this world she has built is so fascinating and incredibly detailed that I just marvel at her imagination and story-telling ability.

Queen Of Shadows is the fourth book in the Throne Of Glass series and, as a result, is always tricky to review as I’m super wary of giving away spoilers and ruining everything for anyone who has not started this series yet and is considering it. I’m going to keep things as vague as I possibly can but I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in the epic journey that is Throne Of Glass to go and read the first few books and then come back. In this novel, Celaena Sardothien grows exponentially as an individual after having been under the most horrific suffering in the previous instalments of this story. She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, is ready to wreak revenge on those who have wronged both her and those that she loves, is desperate to save her land and her people and bring down the evil forces in her world that are determined to cause as much havoc, death and destruction as they can.

It’s not going to be an easy ride for Aelin. She comes across both old and new adversaries that are hell-bent on stopping her before she can ruin their mission. With Rowan Whitethorn by her side however and the blossoming of their relationship, she feels that she can face anyone and anything. The addition of new characters and the formation of strong friendships builds her strength and confidence up even further and with their ferocious support, Aelin may finally be able to move mountains, take down her own personal barriers, learn to love again and, of course, save the world from a deadly enemy.

I think I’ve already gushed on enough about how much I love the world building in this series, now I just have to take a few moments to describe to you the wonderful characters that Sarah J. Maas has created. First of all, Aelin herself, the gutsy, independent female lead that I fell in love with the instant she was introduced in the first Throne Of Glass novel. Then we have Manon Blackbeak, who I mentioned in my previous review Heir Of Fire and is just as utterly brilliant and intriguing in this volume – I’m eagerly anticipating great things happening with her character in future novels and can hardly wait. Then we have the new additions, Aelin’s new friend, the enigmatic Lysandra who I adored and Elide whose story at times actually broke my heart. In fact, there are a lot of characters to get to grips with in this series but they are all so beautifully fleshed out that I never found myself overwhelmed by the sheer number of them, I loved them all as individuals – yes, even the villains of the piece. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Empire Of Storms although I have to admit, it’s tinged with a side note of sadness. I can sense the series coming towards the end and although I know it has to happen, I’m dreading it!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Prisoner Of Night And Fog (Prisoner Of Night And Fog #1) – Anne Blankman

Published July 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

What did I think?:

I read this amazing debut novel some time ago now as part of my Chrissi Cupboard Month which are books recommended and loaned to me by my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads. As my sister is well aware of my taste in books, I was excited to get to this when she assured me I would love it but I have to say it was the subject matter that I also found intriguing. I adore books set around the World War II period in history, particularly if they are set in countries a bit more foreign to myself i.e. NOT the U.K. The fact that Prisoner of Night And Fog is actually set in early 1930’s Germany prior to the events of the war I found even more interesting as we get to see Adolf Hitler in his very initial years of power as the leader of the National Socialist Party, before he became a force to be reckoned with in Germany and indeed, throughout the world.

The second thing that drew me to this novel is that it is told from the point of view of Gretchen, a young girl who has grown up knowing Hitler as part of her family, affectionately referring to him as Uncle Dolf, whom her father served loyally until a terrible incident one day where her father was killed in an attempt to protect Hitler. After his death, Hitler appeared to pull her family even closer to his inner circle which only gives Gretchen more faith and belief in him in a person and his ideals. So when a young Jewish reporter, Daniel Cohen appears in her life with astonishing information about her father’s death, the real man behind the mask of “Uncle Dolf,” and the dangers of the National Socialist Party, Gretchen does quite literally not know what to think. She must now challenge everything she has been told and what she has believed and attempt to uncover the truth which is not only incredibly shocking but hugely dangerous for both herself and Daniel.

You can quite clearly understand when reading this novel how much research and love has gone into this subject area. Anne Blankman draws on real people and actual events to tell a fascinating story all about the early years of Hitler’s power that was not only entertaining and educational but is a story with so much pace, frightening moments and then periods of such tenderness and heart that it was a true joy to read. I just want to take a moment to talk about the characters also. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to make of Gretchen at first but it didn’t take too long before I began admiring her guts, bravery and difficult relationship that she had with her mother and especially with her brother, Reinhart who is definitely one of the most psychotic characters I have come across in literature in recent times. This novel is atmospheric, beautifully evoking Germany in uncertain times in the 1930’s, struggling with the past history of World War I and worried about the future of their country. I’m really looking forward to the second book in the duology, Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke which I hope to get to very soon.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

June 2017 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #7

Published June 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

It’s June, and that means….drum roll please…it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

Hi everyone, sorry for my lack of posting recently. If you follow me on Instagram/Facebook you might have seen that I’ve recently come back from a lovely ten days in the South Of France on holiday. I took my laptop with me so I managed to blog a little bit but obviously not as much as I would have liked. Also, my long-term health problems have been taking their toll this week as I’m struggling to adjust to being back at work after having an extended period off. I wrote a personal post about this a little while ago so if you fancy reading it, it’s HERE.

Hopefully, I’m now back on track and during the month of June I’m going to mostly be reading books that my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads has loaned me (thanks sis!) and I have a rather large pile of them. Here’s what I’ve chosen for this month.

The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender – Leslye Walton

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – Ned Vizzini

Die For Me (Revenants #1) – Amy Plum

More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

Made You Up – Francesca Zappia

I’m looking forward to all these books but the first two in particular which Chrissi has been on at me for AGES to read. The great thing is, I’ll be able to let her know very soon now what I think! Hope everyone else has a wonderful reading month as well and I’ll see you tomorrow for another review.

 

 

The Kiss Of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) – Mary E. Pearson

Published May 20, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor’s secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can’t abide. Like having to marry someone she’s never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

What did I think?:

When my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads told me I had to start this series I have to admit that although I trust her opinion of what I’m going to enjoy implicitly, I was slightly unsure. I’m not a big fan of romance heavy books, they tend to be a bit sickly sweet for my liking and I was worried the cheese factor might be a bit too much for me to take. Well, Chrissi was right once again. I actually LOVED this book, so much in fact that I gave it a physical hug when I had finished. Embarrassing to admit? Maybe but never mind, eh?! It’s the perfect mixture of fantasy with magical elements, intrigue, twists and turns with a wonderful independent female lead and even a love triangle that was beautifully understated and amazingly, didn’t get on my wick.

Our main character, Princess Lia is from the land of Morrighan and is due to be married off to a prince from a neighbouring land that she has never met before, purely for political alliance purposes. She, understandably, is less than thrilled with this prospect and decides to run away with her best friend and maid, Pauline. They ensconce themselves under the radar in a fishing village miles from home, working locally and trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. However, Lia does not manage to stay incognito very long. There are now two men that come into her life that are both after her for different reasons. One is the thwarted prince that she was meant to marry, the other is an assassin sworn to take her life (again for political reasons). Their names are Rafe and Kaden and they are both deadly in different circumstances but the brilliant thing about this novel is that we don’t know which is the assassin and which is the prince inviting bucket loads of intensity, tension and drama in an action packed plot that I simply adored.

So as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, I am in no way a romance fan. I never have been but after reading The Kiss Of Deception I am now starting to wonder have I just been reading the wrong sort of books? The romance in this novel was so tender and lovely to read that I even experienced a little flutter at certain moments of the narrative, something I thought could never have happened to a cynical old heart like myself! More surprising, I actually enjoyed the love triangle part of this story, normally something I despise in YA fiction. In the first novel of The Remnant Chronicles it just feels somewhat different – I’m not sure if I can explain it. I think it might be down to the character of Lia and how she deals with the intentions of both Rafe and Kaden. She has sass, a fiesty “no nonsense” nature and her strong personality in general coupled with her insistence that she can be independent and work a normal job, sort of an anti-princess so as to speak really made me respect her and made her more believable and the romance aspect less sickly sweet. I had such a positive reaction to this book, it was so pleasantly surprising and on finishing it I immediately asked Chrissi if she had finished the second book yet so I could read it, that’s how desperate I was to continue the series as soon as possible, a VERY good sign I think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

Published April 27, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

What did I think?:

I first came across the amazing Louise O’Neill with her debut novel, Only Ever Yours which won a host of acclaim and the YA book prize back in 2015. Just looking at the title, Asking For It, I knew this was going to be a raw, emotional read but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the feelings it would give me while I was reading it. The author approaches difficult topics, things we don’t necessarily talk about much (but SHOULD) with ease and panache and I finished this novel angry with the world but strangely quite empowered and wanting to do something to change it.

If you haven’t heard already, Asking For It is the story of eighteen year old Emma O’Donovan. Her life is pretty much perfect, she has a host of adoring friends, she is popular, beautiful and clever to boot and is the apple of her parents eye. A lot is expected of Emma, especially by her mother and it is interesting to note how the support network around her fails spectacularly after one night when her whole world falls apart. Emma is under the influence of alcohol and drugs when the event occurs and was so wasted that she has no recollection of it at all. Turning up a bit bruised and worse for wear on her doorstep might have just been another night partying a bit too hard? Until school the next day when her friends ignore her, mock her or just plain won’t meet her eye. For there are explicit photographs of Emma and what happened to her plastered all over social media and she has become the laughing stock of the school. Emma has had a bit of a reputation prior to the incident but she was obviously too drunk/high to give her consent… was she asking for it?

While reading this novel, I couldn’t stop thinking about the issue of consent and responsibility that the author has explored in such a visceral, honest way. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the amount of rape cases that actually end in a conviction i.e. very few and as a result, many women feel scared to come forward as they fear they won’t be believed. It is only widely known that the prosecution only need to get a whiff of “she had been drinking,” before the issue of consent becomes a very blurry one. This just makes me so angry. What right does anyone have to use alcohol as an excuse to not convict someone who has brutally invaded a private, personal space? In Asking For It, Louise O’Neill makes our emotions and attitudes whirl considerably more as Emma O’Donovan is not a likeable character in the slightest. She is rude, bitchy and a nasty piece of work and initially, she was so rotten I felt I couldn’t possibly feel sorry for her. Until the party. Until she becomes a wreck, a broken shell of herself, possibly ruined for life and intensely pitiable. Of course, no matter someone’s personality/past actions, absolutely no one deserves to be violated like that.

We have to start talking about this issue, we simply must try and lift the shame behind having this happen and treat victims the way they should be treated, as a human being with basic rights to their own body that no-one should take away unless they explicitly consent to it. This is why this book is so great – it makes you think, it makes you emotional, it makes you desperate to see change and it makes you worry about every single woman that this has happened to. Certainly nobody is EVER “Asking For It.” A huge thank you to Louise for writing such a strong, passionate story that really opened my eyes.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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