The Beast’s Heart

So by now it should be common knowledge that I am a rather big (huge) fan of retellings, especially Beauty and the Beast retellings. And an historically accurate one was just too good to pass up. And honestly that cover just screamed “PICK ME UP”

I can appreciate a well written version of any existing tale. And this rendition of Beauty and the Beast is above and beyond. The story is told from the Beast’s Point of View, giving you a glimpse of the turmoil and isolation that the curse brought. The emotive language will sweep you up in this journey of finding love and overcoming fear.

I want to compliment the author on the cultural impact of the French Landscape that is included in this story. It definitely brought new depth to a familiar tale. The significance of this cannot be overstated as it directly impacts the way certain characters behave. Keeping in mind what a woman’s role in society was and how we were expected to act deeply impacts the female characters behaviour. Do not expect to find a modern feminism character in this book, these characters are already pushing the boundaries of proper societal behaviour.

I also appreciated the high level English with interluding French of the novel, as it brought the essence of the era to life. The tone and register of this novel brings back fond memories of the classics. I can easily envision a pride and prejudice setting with great landscapes with all the light and magic the setting has to offer.

My only critique would be that most of the story happens toward the end of the book and that at times the character development was a bit stretched. This however can be completely justified by the historic setting.

But overall a great read for any adult who would love the classic tale in an appropriate read setting.

Synopsis

A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast’s side of the story at long last.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.

My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.

My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.

And now I might lose her forever.

Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.

If you had to live in a particular fairytale which one would it be? Let me know in the comments.

Letters to the Lost

This month is proving to be a crying month when it comes to the books I read. So grab your tissues for this one. Because it is definitely high on my list of recommended books.

I don’t even know where to begin.

If you know grief, you know that everyone deals with it in their own way, and that at some point you usually feel like no one understands you. It is a topic that we tend to avoid and wind up isolating ourselves in an attempt at self preservation. Dealing with grief at any age is difficult, but honestly dealing with grief at a young age can be overwhelming.

Grief is such a terrible topic to work from, yet Brigid Kemmerer has taken too horrible backstories and made a truly astonishing narrative on the impact of grief, choices and moving on. She captures the struggle to maintain appearances and the stages of grief and guilt so accurately that I found myself reaching for tissues time and time again.

This is an ideal book for anyone, young and old, struggling to move on, dealing with choices and regrets.

My inner teenager loved the rebel kid gone good for the right girl. (Yes, I use to be a sucker for a bad boy) But I love the fact that she gave him so much more than just being a rebel/bad boy calling on our ability to make snap judgements. Kemmerer is such an amazing author, I honestly believe everyone can get something out of her books. This is the second book of hers that I have read and loved, calling out prejudice in different forms.

The writing is so easy to get swept up in, I finished the book in less than 24 hours. The Narrative, the flow, the plot – it all just works.

Synopsis

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

What is a book that changed the way you handled a difficult situation? Let me know in the comments

A very large expanse of sea

There are not a lot of author’s I wind up buying whatever they write. But Tahereh Mafi is official one of my must buy authors. I absolutely adored this novel and you should definitely pick up a copy today!

I am literally doing an ugly cry right now!

I honestly have a broken heart. This story touched my inner child so deeply I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. High school can be challenging for all of us, but some had it way worse than others. I found myself going down memory lane, asking myself who and what could I have treated differently. In a world with advance technology, our way of treating others haven’t developed as much as it should have.

Initially it felt like I couldn’t get into it, but it turns out I was so, so wrong. This story is a must for everyone! EVERYONE! The first few chapters of back story and setting got a bit long in my opinion, but with it being covered in so much detail early on, that you can solely focus on the dialogue and plot development.

The writing is so emotional, you cannot help but feel EVERYTHING the characters feel. Their love, their hate, their shock and their disgust at how we as people treat each other.

Tahereh Mafi has taken a taboo topic and turned it into an eye opening story of how we as humans deal with things we in the essence of it, don’t understand. Whether it is racism, sexism, xenophobia – the lesson in this remains the same and vastly applicable.

Shirin and Ocean’s story is so moving that I honestly wish I could go back to high school and fix some of my own mistakes.

I highly recommend picking up this book. The initial detail might be boring and feel like unnecessary overshare but it is so crucial to the character development.

I just love this book.

Synopsis

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

Would you go back and change your behaviour in high school? let me know in the comment section.

What she found in the woods

Sometimes you just need a book to kick start an epic reading month. To just move your comfort zone barriers. And this Novel was definitely that and more for me!

I don’t know where to start!!!

This gripping book has moved me in so many ways. Following the story of an 18 yr old girl with mental illness trying to figure out what is real and what isn’t. Using flashback/ memory sharing, you try to puzzle out what the real big picture is. And honestly, I have never felt more human and more empathy for people with Mental health conditions than after reading this book.

Addressing modern day issues such as the power and risk of social media and teenagers living adult lives without proper guidance and parental involvement, Angelini tells a story so powerful it will drive the point home very early into the read. I honestly double check all my interactions on social media daily now, because in all fairness we never know what the other person is going through.

All that glitters is not gold comes to mind. And honestly the plot of this story had me chasing my own tail several times. The writing is easy to follow and characters are believable. ( I love them, even if they are slightly twisted)

I honestly found it difficult to find fault with this novel, and would highly recommend it to high school seniors.

Synopsis

Running from a scandal at her New York private school, Magdalena heads to her family home to recover under the radar. Over-medicated and under-confident, she’s fearful she’ll never escape her past. Until she meets Bo out hiking. Wild, gorgeous and free, he makes her believe she might finally be able to move on. But when a mutilated body is discovered in the woods, Magdalena realises she can’t trust anyone. Not even herself

Have you read it? Tell me what you think in the comments section

Great bookish gifts

It’s that time of the year where we love to spoil the ones we love. But sometimes getting the right gift can be nerve racking and expensive. Especially when you have a long list of loved ones to get gifts for. Budgeting becomes your best friend during this time and hopefully the list below helps you get AMAZING gifts at reasonable prices.

Literary box subscriptions – There are so many great book box subscription programs out there. Boxes include a new release title and bookish goodies.

Wearable Literature – t shirts, socks, scarves, tote bags, the possibilities are endless. Check out Avviare Art on Society6 for a variety of designs.

Journals and Bookmarks – I might just be speaking for myself, but one can never have too many.

Candles – Scented, themed, whichever suits your style. Candles are always a great splurge very few people can afford to buy for themselves.

Mugs – Get an amazing printed mug with a bookish quote or design to help your bookworm get swept up in their fantasy world.

Stationary – Washi tape, highlighters, pens, you name it, it will be on your bookworm’s list. Scriptorium has an amazing variety to choose from.

Prints – From small postcard size prints to posters, a great piece of art can go along way.

Book Sleeves – whether you do a printed one or a a one of a kind handmade one, a booksleeve has become the must have book accessory for all bookworms

Coffee/Tea and snacks – No reading experience is complete without snacks

Amazon/ Book Depository Voucher – Books, books and more books. All bookworms have a cart or wish list full of possible buys for you to choose from. Splurge for a hardcover or a boxset for extra Brownie Points.

Audible Subscription – This is not something all bookworms have, but most do and the rest of us are wishing for it. Audible has a large variety of audiobooks that you can buy and listen to as often as you’d like.

Let me know in the comments if you have awesome ideas to share, I have quite a few gifts to get this year and would love to hear any extra ideas. Remember to hit subscribe to follow the blog via email.

The Gifted, The Talented and Me

As a highschool kid, you face uncharted waters of social hierarchy and hormone driven reactions. On top of all that chaos you can sprinkle a bit home issues and millennial parenting and find an amazing story about an average kid moved to a school for the gifted and struggling to find his place.

The answer to the age old question of is it okay to be average can be found inside the covers of this masterpiece. I literally wish 15yr old me had a copy of this book to help navigate the stormy waters of high school.

This book is AMAZING.

I laughed and cried and cringed my way through Sam’s first year at the school for the gifted and talented. I pictured a Jock in a Step Up movie, suddenly uncool and uncomfortable.

William Sutcliffe is a mastermind. Capturing teenage insecurities and our journey to self. This easy to read novel captures the “stuck between childhood and adulthood” phase so accurately, this is definitely a book to add to a school curriculum. Addressing issues like bullying, fitting in and mom blogs.

This is a great book if you have a teenager at home in need of a little understanding or if you are looking for a little insight into your teenager’s world.

Synopsis

Laugh-out-loud funny and instantly recognisable – not since The Inbetweeners has a coming of age story been so irreverent and relatable.

Fifteen-year-old Sam isn’t special. He’s not a famous vlogger, he’s never gone viral, and he doesn’t want to be the Next Big Thing. What he likes most is chatting to his friends and having a bit of a kick about.

None of which was a problem until Dad got rich and Mum made the whole family move to London. Now Sam is being made to go to the North London Academy for the Gifted and Talented, where every student is too busy planning Hollywood domination or starting alt-metal psychedelica crossover bands or making clothes out of bathmats to give someone as normal as him the time of day. Can Sam navigate his way through the weirdness and find a way to be himself?

A brilliant modern satire about fitting in, falling out and staying true to your own averageness.

Tales of the Peculiar

I picked up this collection of short stories before reading the actually series. I honestly enjoyed the movie but was hesitant to read the books out of fear of ruining the movie. (Because the book is always better) So I decided to pick up the collection of short stories first and see if it spikes my interest.

I enjoyed the writing style of Ransom Riggs. And I found the stories original and captivating and thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I love the idea of adding folklore and legends to fantasy worlds, and then making those stories available for readers to enjoy.

I do feel I need to note with fair warning from both author and publisher, these stories are what they refer to as Peculiar. The characters are Peculiar and therefore the endings are unconventional. This is definitely everyone’s cup of tea. But if you are peculiar and enjoy peculiar stories I highly recommend picking this up.

This is not for the conservative reader. But a great place to start if you are looking to leave your comfort zone.

Synopsis

A companion to the New York Times bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, now a major motion picture directed by Tim Burton.

Before Miss Peregrine gave them a home, the story of peculiars was written in the Tales.

Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in Tales of the Peculiar–the collection of fairy tales known to hide information about the peculiar world, including clues to the locations of time loops–first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.

Riggs now invites you to share his secrets of peculiar history, with a collection of original stories in this deluxe volume of Tales of the Peculiar, as collected and annotated by Millard Nullings, ward of Miss Peregrine and scholar of all things peculiar. Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned woodcut artist Andrew Davidson this compelling and truly peculiar anthology is the perfect gift for not only fans, but for all book lovers.

10 Young Adult Books I would love to read before 2020

We are on the brink on November which means we have literally only weeks left in this year, before publishers swarm us with new amazing adventures and stories for 2020. And as with all things festive, it’s the time of the year where budgets and wish lists become a continuous topic of discussion. And with so many great books out there, what is a girl to do?

2019 has been a year of great books and many a new release has made its way to my shelf. And hopefully many more will still. But as is real life, there are many still that are on my online wishlists and in the cart’s waiting to be checked out and rehomed to one of my favorite parts of my home. My reading corner.  Here is a list of some 2019’s greats that I hope to add to my shelf before 2020. (full disclosure, one is already on the shelf, but I honestly have to move it up in the TBR)

 

American Royals

43744300What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

I have heard so many great things about this book, and since I am such a huge fan of all stories Monarchy based, this book is one that I am willing to make room in the budget for.

 

Spin the Dawn

42815556Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

This fantasy novel has been making serious waves on Instagram and I have been waiting for it to hit the shelves here in sunny South Africa. I have found a new love for fantasy set in different cultures and this promises to be a great read.

 

Wilder Girls

42505366It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

an eerie setting might not be for everyone, but this book has been highly recommended to me by multiple, yes multiple friends who cannot stop raving about it.

So my inner scaredy cat is willing to brave this spooky read with the hopes of being rewarded with an epic story.

 

Serpent and Dove

40024139Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.
Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

As a huge fan of Manon in the Throne of Glass series, this book spoke to my inner fangirl and begged to be added. I am not usually one for witches, but can you honestly call yourself a fantasy lover if you don’t have at least one story of witches under your belt?

 

Four Dead Queens

40367270Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but in fact, she’s one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. Varin runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

Mystery meets Monarchy. Two foundations to set an epic storyline. And I mean honestly. just look at that cover. My inner bond girl is literally jumping up and down.

The Beautiful

42265183 In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. 

This story promises to bring so much to the table, that I can’t even contain my glee. Having been a kid when Twilight and Vampire Diaries were at their high, I cannot wait to dive straight into this one.

Opposite of Always

35380157._SY475_Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.
He almost made valedictorian.
He almost made varsity.
He almost got the girl . . .

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

Why not end the year with a great, fun read? This contemporary has very promising reviews, so why not?

Two can keep a secret

40099425._SY475_Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. It’s where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. Where a Homecoming Queen’s murder five years ago made national news. And where Ellery now has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, after her failed-actress mother lands in rehab. No one knows what happened to either girl, and Ellery’s family is still haunted by their loss.

Pretty little liars flashbacks at this title have me emptying my piggybank to find enough to get this book today. A teen suspense thriller is one thing my tbr needs desperately

 

Sorcery of Thorns

42201395All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

In all honesty, this book is on the shelf, and right now, I am actually considering abandoning this post to start reading… But unfortunately this will have to wait till tomorrow. This book promises to be everything my inner book warrior needs. I will keep you posted.

 

Kingdom of Souls

44596261._SX318_SY475_Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

If you have not read @meredithmara‘s review on this book, I honestly recommend you do, as this will be enough motivation for you to add this to your wishlist for 2019. This book contains a sort of magic that when you speak to people who have read it, their eyes twinkle with a sort of knowing that will have you begging to get your hands on a copy.

 

In all honesty there are many more books that are still to be released for 2019 that are also on my wishlist. But these books are already available for purchase and definitely worth considering.

Feel like I missed a title that should be here? Drop a comment and let’s expand the list.

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We hunt the flame

Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam
Where it’s flat and immense
And the heat is intense
It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home

Humming the intro of Aladdin in my head I reach for this novel, high expectations and coffee in the hand I settle in to travel to one of the world’s richest places (both in culture and magic) in this highly anticipated debut of 2019.

But the desert is a mysterious place, filled with wonder and deadly pitfalls. And so was this novel. I am going to start this off by saying you will either love this or hate this.  But this is a great place to start if you want to ease into YA fantasy.

We hunt the flame is a story about finding hope in dark times. A band of unlikely friends, who individually set out to find a cure for a curse plaguing their lands find adventure on a cursed island. An unique approach to a familiar storyline, with a rich cultural background. The voices are authentic and believable and quite easy to follow.

I am conflicted about this book. At times it felt like I wouldn’t be able to put it down and there were times where I had to force myself to pick it up again. I did celebrate the end, even if I felt it was slightly predictable. But that being said, as with others I felt this way about, I am quite keen to see what the sequel holds. The stage is set for greatness and I hope the opportunity was seized.

The story holds promise of a great sequel, should the opportunity that presented itself be embraced.

I honestly expected more. But I do want to applaud the author for not flooding this book with mainstream approved “requirements” and sticking to cultural significance and background. The bilingual approach to this book has value, some more than others, although it did affect my ability to get completely lost in the story.

This is a great first fantasy read. I would highly recommend you pick this up if that is the case. However, if you are well versed in the art of fantasy, you will still enjoy it, just view it as a relaxing read.

Synopsis

WHTF_JKT_2p.indd

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

 

Have you read this? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

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The Deathless Girls

To be honest, I am a bit of a scaredy cat, so when my friend approached me with a buddy read for this book I wasn’t sure if it was going to be as fun for me. (I tend to hide behind my hands during Stranger Things…enough said) But nevertheless her enthusiasm was contagious and I agreed. 

And so we start a three day read of one the most intense books I have read all year. 

giphy

I enjoyed this book a lot. It was out of my comfort zone but the intensity of the story kept me intrigued the entire time. The world building is phenomenal  and so easy to get into. 

This is a very intense read, be prepared for intense, graphic scenes of slavery, murder, animal torture amongst others. The story is built around these scenes, making it difficult to skip any of it. This is also the parts that in my opinion was the best written. These parts show the most character development and conflict building.

Following the story of twins being taken into slavery and the trials and tribulations this read comes with various trigger warnings. 

My only critique is that I wish there was more to the story as far as relationships go with other characters. At times it felt like we hit the fast forward button to skip through these scenes till the next intense conflict point, which has some impact on the flow of the story. I would have love to have more. I was craving more. To me, the bones of this story is there, now I am waiting for the meat. For the in between that makes a story an epic read.

If you like scary reads this is right up your alley.

Synopsis

“I used to think to make people afraid was a curse, an awful thing… But I’d love for them to fear me… I want them to look at me and weep.”

Gothic, intoxicating, feminist, darkly provoking and deeply romantic – this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…