Cynthia Hand

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My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story (The Lady Janies #1) – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

Published August 20, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger – and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

What did I think?:

I chose this book as one of my recent Chrissi Cupboard Month picks because of the rave reviews I had heard about it, particularly from one of my favourite bloggers, Stephanie over at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction and of course, my sister whose opinion on books I trust implicitly. I’ve got to admit, I did keep putting it off, for two reasons which are both as silly as the other. The first is that I wasn’t completely sold on the cover (of the edition I have, please see image above) and I should know by now that judging a book by its cover is a very dangerous thing to do – who knows what you could be missing? Indeed, I’ve almost missed out on some amazing stories i.e. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes just because I mis-judged the cover and thought it would be something it wasn’t.

From top to bottom: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, authors of My Lady Jane.

The second reason (and probably the silliest) is that I’m a huge fan of the Tudor period of history and adore fiction re-telling lives of the real people in this moment of history, particularly in the style of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir. As a result, I’m very familiar and fond of the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey and the thought of it being re-written to be completely different from the actual history with a humorous edge didn’t sit well with me and made me feel slightly uncomfortable, goodness knows why? Now I’ve experienced all the joy, brilliance and wit that Hand, Ashton and Meadows have brought to this tale I am a fully fledged convert to these new imaginings of history and am thoroughly berating myself for leaving it so long before reading in the first place.

My Lady Jane is the story of the Tudor dynasty, particularly the point where Lady Jane Grey ascends to the throne of England, like you’ve never heard about it before. It’s a land where there’s two classes of people, those that can turn into animals, otherwise known as Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated) and then there’s those who can’t. There’s a reason why Henry VIII was compared to a lion, you know! There’s quite a bit of bigotry and prejudice against people who assume their animal forms and huge factions of the country are at war with the young King Edward struggling to maintain control of his kingdom. It also doesn’t help that he’s dying and the succession for the throne is becoming very hazy indeed, particularly as Edward is certain if he chooses his sister Mary, she will be all too delighted to extinguish every last Eðian in England. Edward is also attempting to marry his cousin, Lady Jane Grey off so her future will be secured but the groom in question, Gifford is unable to control his urge to turn into a stallion every evening as soon as the sun goes down. Then all three become embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy for the throne that threatens not only their own lives but the whole future of England.

A portrait of the “real” Lady Jane Grey, also known as the Nine Day Queen.

This book was so much fun! I immediately texted my sister about twenty pages in and told her just how much I was enjoying it and could almost hear her sigh of relief from over fifty miles away. No, it’s not in any way a true account of the life of Lady Jane Grey but that’s one of the reasons why this book is so exciting. It feels fresh, unique, incredibly different and was so light-hearted and hilarious, it was a pleasure to settle down with it whenever I had a minute. It felt like re-visiting characters you know and love, like Jane herself, Edward and his sisters Mary and Elizabeth but also it painted them in such a distinct, new manner that it felt like you were getting to know them all over again. Gifford was a very welcome addition to the pack (or should that be herd?!), I loved his excursions as a horse, the way he opens up ever so gradually and ultimately, the growth of his relationship with Jane which was nothing short of adorable.

I really wasn’t sure whether the fantastical edge was going to work for a story about the Tudors but the authors have pulled it off magnificently. As a huge animal lover myself, I always enjoy animals within narratives but to have characters that can turn into animals? My heart was so happy. This novel was both a huge surprise and an absolute delight to read and I was completely won over by the wonderful ridiculousness of the narrative and how easy it was to devour.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

My Lady Jane by Hand, Ashton and Meadows was the forty-second book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

The Last Time We Say Goodbye – Cynthia Hand

Published August 4, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

What did I think?:

The title of this book might give some clues as to the themes within but even still, I wasn’t prepared for the immense sadness and depth of emotions that would continue to surprise me as I read through it. I first came across Cynthia Hand’s writing in her Unearthly series (which I highly recommend to lovers of YA fiction) but I haven’t read anything else by her for a while so I was intrigued as always, to read something else by an author that I’ve previously enjoyed. Hand is a master of beautiful, lyrical prose for young adults and with her writing, you always feel that you’re tapping into something a little bit special and I definitely found this was the case with The Last Time We Say Goodbye.

Cynthia Hand, author of The Last Time We Say Goodbye.

Based around the traumatic topic of suicide, it’s always going to be an unsettling read and I did find myself moved considerably by the whole narrative but I also want to press the fact that I think it’s an important read for teenagers that find themselves in that horrendous situation where they’re dealing with the loss of a family member and they need to have that reassurance that they’re not in it alone, no matter how isolated and devastated they may feel. Sadly, Cynthia herself has personal experience with the loss of a close family member and this really came across in her writing. Essentially, (and the synopsis above really says it all) it’s about a teenage girl, Lex who is struggling to deal with the suicide of her younger brother, Tyler and discover the reasons behind why he wanted to end his own life. As well as this, she’s just trying to live her normal life – keep up her relationships with friends, support her mother who becomes increasingly fractured in the days after Tyler’s suicide and try to come to terms with the fractured love she has with her father who has separated from her mother and built his own, new life away from the family.

I found The Last Time We Say Goodbye to be an incredibly haunting, thoughtful read about such a crucial subject that I really think people need to be more open and honest about. If we have the opportunity to help even one more person and prevent them from taking their own lives, that can only be a good thing. Depression and anxiety is such an isolating, terrifying condition that has the power to overwhelm a normally rational mind and unfortunately, I speak from personal experience. In the novel, Tyler feels that he’s not able to talk to anybody else about what he’s going through, especially not his own family for reasons that become clear as the novel continues.

Obviously, this is clearly a case of his poor mental health over-riding the more reasonable parts of the brain and the fact that his family is having their own issues prevents him from speaking up, and as a result, they are so completely unaware of his dangerous misery in the first place. The sadness about this whole story is that if he had spoken up, especially to his sister Lex, whom he had a previously close relationship with, his death may have been preventable. Afterwards though, there’s that horrible guilt that Lex feels regarding the fact that if he WAS trying to reach out, she may not have realised how crucial it was that she should have talked to him at that particular time.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is another powerful and emotive read from Cynthia Hand that cements her place as an insightful, talented young adult fiction author that is definitely one to watch in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of five):

four-stars_0

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand was the forty-first book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in The Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

June 2018 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #9

Published June 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

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

Hello everyone! Every other month I alternate what I’m reading quite specifically between three things. It’s either Real Book Month (in February and August) where I try and read all the physical books just waiting to be devoured on my bookshelves. (and that’s a lot!) Then there’s Book Bridgr/NetGalley/ARC Month (April and October) where I try and catch up on all those ARC/review copies sent to me by authors, publishers, NetGalley and Book Bridgr. (also a lot!) Finally, there’s Chrissi Cupboard Month (June and December) where I try my best to get through all the books my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads lends me (you’ve guessed it – there’s lots!). So this is what I’ll be reading for the month of June:

1.) Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris

What’s it all about?:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

2.) Shtum – Jem Lester

What’s it all about?:

Powerful, darkly funny and heart-breaking, Shtum is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation – a strategic decision to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal – Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben’s elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men – one who can’t talk; two who won’t – are thrown together.

3.) How Not To Disappear – Clare Furniss

What’s it all about?:

Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to “find himself” and Kat’s in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding.

Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby…

Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one previously knew even existed comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia.

Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery – Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are wiped from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.

4.) The Last Time We Say Goodbye – Cynthia Hand

What’s it all about?:

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

5.) My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

What’s it all about?:

A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger – and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

 

As always, I’m really excited for all these books. My sister knows what I will like (and what I will avoid like the plague!) so I’m confident in her choices and I can’t wait to get to all of these. I have been especially looking forward to How Not To Disappear for years now, I’ve heard great things about My Lady Jane and Chrissi told me I absolutely HAD to put the B.A. Paris book on my list for this month. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What should I read first? Let me know in the comments!

Boundless (Unearthly #3) – Cynthia Hand

Published September 1, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California – and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

What did I think?:

This is the final book in Cynthia Hand’s riveting Unearthly trilogy and provides readers with one last look into the world of teenager and part-angel Clara Gardner, who hasn’t had it easy since finding out about her strange powers and having to lose someone she loves. However, Boundless is a fantastic conclusion to a gripping story that had me hooked from the very first novel. It begins with our heroine Clara beginning college at Stanford accompanied by her best friend Angela and the enigmatic Christian. Clara is starting the next phase of her life far away from her first love Tucker Avery, as much to protect him as anything else, but no matter how hard she tries, the memory of their time together does not fade easily which kind of puts an obstacle against any new relationships occurring while she is at Stanford. Clara’s father, a very interesting. mysterious and incredibly powerful angel, plays a bigger part in this section of the trilogy, as he begins to prepare Clara and Christian for a battle with the evil Black Wings that he is sure is coming, and he wants her to be ready for.

In Boundless, as Clara’s purpose becomes clearer, we also find out a lot about her best friend Angela, who has a huge role to play in the destiny of all three teenagers, and there is also an intriguing insight into the mind of Clara’s troubled brother Jeffrey as he wrestles with his own inner demons. What else can I tell you without spoiling the series for readers who haven’t begun it? Well, there are some mind-bending interactions with Black Wing Samjeeza that really got my head in a whirl, beautiful and poignant moments that will definitely bring a tear to your eye as Clara struggles to come to terms with everything she has gone through, realising that it has made her a much stronger person able to face any danger coming her way and lastly, a terrifying glimpse of Hell that sent a shiver down my spine and that I still think upon from time to time – please let it not be true, please let it not be true!

I really enjoyed every moment of this beautiful, well written series and I was very sad when it had to come to a close. I even had that open-mouthed “NOOO!” moment at one point, but I’ll let you find it for yourself. For me, it was a satisfying conclusion to an excellent story that fans of paranormal romance will gobble up and hugely enjoy. Our lead character is a heroine to be proud of, and the strength of the supporting characters like Christian (who improved book upon book) Tucker, Angela and Jeffrey holds up to the closest scrutiny. An action-packed plot is mixed with more tender and poignant moments that balance out perfectly making the heart beat just a little bit faster with each turn of the page. Yup, I loved it… so if you haven’t started it yet, what on earth are you waiting for?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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WWW Wednesday #48

Published July 9, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:

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This is the third and final book in the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out! My sister Chrissi Reads thought very highly of this book so I’m probably going to agree with her.

What did you recently finish reading?:

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This is author Sarah Moss’s account of what it was like to live in Iceland for a year and it’s pretty fascinating stuff. I read it for a new feature that will be coming up in a couple of months (or thereabouts!) on my blog.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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Next up is a book I’ve had on my radar for a while as I got it free from NetGalley and Penguin UK Publishers (thanks to them!) but it has also been picked as a Richard and Judy Summer Bookclub 2014 read here in the UK, and I always enjoy reading what they recommend. I’ll be “talking about” it with Chrissi Reads so look out for our review!

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll come pay you a visit! Happy Reading Everyone!

Hallowed (Unearthly #2) – Cynthia Hand

Published March 11, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

For months Clara Gardner trained to face the fire from her visions, but she wasn’t prepared for the choice she had to make that day. And in the aftermath, she discovered that nothing about being part angel is as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her love for Tucker and her complicated feelings about the roles she and Christian seem destined to play in a world that is both dangerous and beautiful, Clara struggles with a shocking revelation: Someone she loves will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.

In this compelling sequel to Unearthly, Cynthia Hand captures the joy of first love, the anguish of loss, and the confusion of becoming who you are.

What did I think?:

This is the second helping in the wonderful Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand, set in a world where an ordinary teenage girl finds out that she is part-angel, and follows her struggles in coping with new powers, the forces of darkness and the agony of grief, while still trying to go through the teenage angst of your average adolescent girl. We also see more of Clara’s internal fight between her boyfriend Tucker and Christian – also part angel who she feels increasingly drawn to despite her best efforts. From the first novel in the series we learn that all angel bloods have a “purpose,” something they are compelled to carry out and cannot escape from as they will have strange, confusing dreams that hint at the task they should complete. At the beginning of this novel, Clara is confused as to whether she has carried out her purpose or not but has started having a different dream, in which someone she loves will die.

I found this to be quite an emotional read and found myself becoming more attached to the characters as Cynthia Hand continues to develop the story in new and exciting ways, so be prepared for a lot of surprises which makes for an intensely enjoyable and readable novel. I think all the characters are interesting or likeable but among my favourites include Clara’s mother and her younger brother, the latter becoming slightly more detached and emotionally unstable as the story continues… perhaps an omen of darker things to come? I’m really looking forward to the final novel in this trilogy – Boundless – I know my sister Chrissi Reads absolutely loved it so it may have to jump up the TBR pile a bit!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

WWW Wednesday #30

Published February 12, 2014 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

Hello everyone, sorry I’m a bit late in getting this up, but it’s been a bit of a rough week. But welcome to another WWW Wednesday, and thanks as ever to MizB for hosting.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?:

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A couple of blogger friends reminded me that I still have to read the second and the third book in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy. This is the second offering and I’m really enjoying it so far.

What did you recently finish reading?:

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Unfortunately this week I have not been able to read much, but I’m glad I read this! Part of the Unearthly series, this is the second instalment and now I can’t wait to read the third.

What do you think you’ll read next?:

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This is the final novel from the Waterstones Eleven 2013, which featured debut authors that looked like they were set for “big things.” I’ll do a little round up post of what I thought of the Waterstones Eleven after this one, but in general they were pretty damn good!

What are you reading this Wednesday? Please leave your link and I’ll drop by. Happy Reading Everyone!