Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

 A weekly feature created at Breaking the Spine, Waiting on Wednesday features upcoming releases that bloggers are excited about.  You can find out more here.


My pick for this week is Erika Johansen's The Invasion of the Tearling.

Image and description from

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighbouring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.
But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling – and that of Kelsea’s own soul – may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.
In this dazzling sequel to her bestselling debut The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johansen brings back favourite characters, including the Mace and the Red Queen, and introduces unforgettable new players, adding exciting layers to her multidimensional tale of magic, mystery and a fierce young heroine.


Releasing on 16th July 2015, I cannot express how excited I am for this book. I'm out at YALC on the 18th but a two hour train ride there and back is the perfect time to read the sequel to one of my favourite books of 2014. If I remember rightly I read through the first book in around 3 days, it was that amazing. A mix of unique characters, a pace that didn't let up, and a beautiful crafted world, I could not stop reading until I was done. The story had so many twists and turns that by the end I was left reeling, and waiting anxiously for the next instalment. Now that it's so close to July I am counting down the days, and so The Invasion of the Tearling was an obvious choice for my first Waiting on Wednesday post.


What are some upcoming releases that you're excited for? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

Holly @ TheArtsShelf

Twitter: @The_Arts_Shelf

Monday, 25 May 2015

When the Words... Stop.

IE, How to Survive a Book-Hangover.

In general books give us feelings of joy and elation when we finish them. The final chapters culminate in an epic conclusion that leaves us breathless but satisfied. Of course we'll always wish there could have been more, but it won't leave us stir crazy.

Sometimes though the words just stop, and we're left trying to tear our hair out.

This week I finished The Novice by Taran Matharu, the first book in the Summoner trilogy, and I absolutely adored it. Described by many as Pokemon meets Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, I was immediately hooked.

But before I knew it the book had ended, and so abruptly, leaving me (metaphorically) curled in a ball rocking back and forth. Even in the first book of a trilogy I expect some sort of a resolution to balance out the cliffhanger. A 'the good guys won and are all okay but further darkness lies on the horizon' sort of thing. But there was one smattering of resolution to about five cliffhangers!

From a literary standpoint I love it; such an excellent way to make me hanker for the next book (May 2016 is so far away...)! I'm still wary of ending up bald though.

So like all readers so cruelly ripped from the world they loved, I buried my head beneath a pillow and wondered how in the world I'd get myself over this one.

1) Cry/Wallow

Sometimes it's good to get those emotions out by just having a good cry. This works especially if the book ended with an unexpected character death or not so happy ending.

2) Chocolate and Tea

Whenever I am feeling down (Okay, especially when I'm feeling down) I love indulging in a large brew and bar of my favourite chocolate (Usually Oreos). We always have tea in the house and I was lucky this week that my Aunt brought me a large bar of Dairy Milk with Oreo, just when I needed it. These two things never fail to cheer me up, but when it comes to book hangovers it's usually a short term solution.

3) Tweet the Author

Sometimes it can help to ask the author 'why?' or simply let them know they've done their job well and broken you (Joking. I'm talking metaphorically of course). Obviously this will differ for every person and every book, and the key rule is obviously to not be abusive, but sometimes talking to the person who caused the book hangover can help greatly.

4) Read Side Material

Side material is a great way of keeping the world you love alive just a little bit longer, and these days a lot of books also have extra stories in the form of e-books or featured on the author's blog. Reading other fans' fan-fiction may help also. Thanks to point 3, Taran reminded me that there is a 100 page prequel e-book (Free!) alongside The Novice.

5) Read Something Else

If the other points don't help, or you're still suffering, reading something else is a sure fire way to cure that book hangover (Even if it results in another!). Replace the world, characters and story you lost with another that you'll grow to love just as much, and you'll soon be back in the 'book-bubble' we all love so dearly.

Do you have any other remedies for book hangovers? Let me know in the comments section below, or on Twitter!

Holly @ TheArtsShelf

(Twitter: @The_Arts_Shelf)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Book Post and May TBR

So in honour of launching this blog, I decided to buy myself a couple of new/recent releases in order to help me get started. I have masses of books to read, but I know I'm a little behind the times on some (Throne of Glass, etc.) so I thought these might make for some more interesting reviewing material.

Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge: I finished reading this on Monday and wow. It was just incredible. You can find my review in the previous post.

Rogue - Julie Kagawa: After finishing Talon just before Christmas, I desperately need to know what happens next. My review should be up by the end of the week.

The Orphan Queen - Jodi Meadows: I've been desperate for another court based fantasy after finishing The Queen of the Tearling and Snow Like Ashes, so I can't wait to see what The Orphan Queen has in store.

Magonia - Maria Dahvana Headley: How can I not want to read a book as pretty as Magonia? After everything Margot and Aubry over at Epic Reads have told us about this fantastic fantasy, I really can't wait to get started!

Lois Lane Fallout - Gwenda Bond: Lois Lane. Gwenda Bond. Need I say more? This book was an obvious choice for me.

Disclaimer - Renee Knight: I've heard so many good things about this book and the premise sounds really intriguing so I couldn't resist adding it to my basket when Amazon had it on sale.

I'm also intending to read;

The Sin Eater's Daughter - Melinda Salisbury: As with The Orphan Queen I've been searching for a new court based fantasy and this book is everything I could have hoped for. I'm part way through at the moment and loving it. A review should be up later this week!

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell: Now that I own her entire catalogue, I'm making it my mission to read every single one and - being a fangirl myself - this is the perfect book to start with.

Splintered - AG Howard: I have been meaning to read this series for months, owning all three, and so - as with Rainbow Rowell - May is the perfect month to cross them off my list!

The Kingdom Keepers 1 - Ridley Pearson: I bought this book way back last summer during a trip to Disneyworld and after finishing Cruel Beauty I really am in a Disney/fairytale mood, so this is the perfect book to read this month.

What are your new books? What are you reading this May? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter; I'd love to hear from you!

Review - Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

"And I was his delight and he was mine."

This book was my delight. What can I say except that when it comes to fairytale retellings, this book is absolute perfection.

As a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast, I did not hesitate in adding this book to both my basket and May TBR, but I didn't expect it to be quite this good. That's not to say I expected it to be bad, of course not, I simply didn't expect it to take my breath away and immediately become one of my all time favourite books.

However love blossoms, it develops, and I will admit that I was disappointed by the slow pace and lack of action when I first began reading. I felt a little as though I was reading a history of the world or a complex explanation of Hermetics (the story's magic system), rather than a story of love and honour. It wasn't long though before I began to admire the slow pace and beautiful, almost poetic, text. Just as Nyx slowly falls in love with Ignifex and warms his heart, the readers are invited to slowly fall for the characters also.

In contrast to the original tale however, the characters we come to like are selfish, their hearts blackened by hate; though both for different reasons. Nyx's family have pushed her aside all her life in favour of her sister, knowing that she would be the one to die while Astraia would live. This neglect has tainted Nyx, and though she knows her duty and is bound to honour it - to kill Ignifex and free the land - she can't help loving the one person who has loved her without asking anything in return. She can't help but want to be selfish, and simply live her life with Ignifex in blissful ignorance. That was something that I loved about the character though. I loved that she wasn't our 'typical Belle', that she was tainted. It was refreshing to have a hero that wasn't so far removed from the villain.

"We'll both be foolish and vicious and cruel. We will never be safe with each other."

As a big fan of ABC's Once Upon a Time, I found Ignifex to be a lot like Robert Carlyle's Rumplestiltskin (Another version of The Beast). He makes deals to suit his purpose and feels no remorse for the consequences that fall upon his victims. After all, 'Magic always comes with a price' as Rumplestiltskin says. Yet against all odds he falls for Nyx and lets her change him from a beast to something that could possibly be called a man; just as Rumple falls for Emilie De Ravin's Belle. The similarities end there though, with Hodge's tale being refreshing and original, but the likeness of Ignifex and Rumple intrigued and excited me. Just as I feel for Rumple, I felt for Ignifex too, wanting him and Nyx to get their happy ending. I enjoyed his snarky remarks and charming smirk. I loved the way he played with Nyx, finding her feisty attitude and desperation to kill him amusing. The two characters play well with each other throughout the entire story, and it was a joy to read.

I'm finding it incredibly hard to be critical of a book that I didn't want to end, so I'm not going to be. It's a fantastic tale that anyone who loves YA, fantasy, and fairytale retellings should read. I give it a solid 5* rating. In my opinion, it was simply perfection.

Crimson Bound, Hodge's brand new retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, was just released on May 5th in the US, by Balzer and Bray.

Song while reading: Saturn - Sleeping At Last.