Tags

Tag Thursday – To Kill A Kingdom Tag

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo came out in March this year and was one of my very first Net Galley reads (Click here to check out my review). I loved the darker bloodthirsty side to Princess Lira and the fun companionship of the crew as well as it’s nods to The Little Mermaid as well.

The lovely Lydia from Silver Wolf Reads tagged me in her very own original To Kill a Kingdom Book Tag that she worked on with Alexandra Christo herself and remembering how much I loved the book when I originally reviewed it tagged me and I’m so excited to do it so here goes!

You’re going on a vacation on a cruise boat for a week. Which book(s) would you pack to keep you entertained as you explore the seven seas?

I’d bring my kindle for sure so that I have a wide range to choose from and I could maybe start working through my NetGalley back up too! Physical book wise I would bring Illuminae because I always want to reread it and I might end up desperately wanting to do so, I’d maybe bring six of crows and crooked kingdom as I still have to read them and I keep finding excuses not too. Even though I haven’t started it yet though I wouldn’t bring A Kingdom of Ash as I would end up spending too much time reading and a vacation would be pointless. I’d definitely make sure I had some titles ready to go on Audible too!

You’re on the boat, and you start to hear your favourite song being played out from a nearby island. Which song would this be? What book do you associate with this song?

I don’t really have a favourite song because what I’m in the mood for changes quite often and usually, I have a playlist that I become obsessed with instead. If I had to pick one it would probably be Hold me Tight (or don’t) by Fall Out Boy which reminds me of Cardan and Jude from The Cruel Prince.

You go to the side of the boat and notice a mermaid sat on the rocks. She seems pretty bored. And you know of loads of awesome books. Which one book do you always recommend to people without fail?

The Last Namsara. I’m not even sure I can explain why I just wondered what book I would probably enjoy most if I were a mermaid and that’s what came to mind. Maybe I love Asha and how kickass she seems?

The mermaid seems pretty happy with your suggestion, and swims off. You hear the song from a moment ago has stopped. And there doesn’t seem to many people about. Creepy, huh? What book gave you the chills whilst you were reading it?

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe! This book gave me serious chills and that horrible feeling when you feel like someone punched you in the chest when a twist hits you and you realise you’re not actually reading a fluffy space contemporary. I will never get over that damn book.

The song picks up again. But this time, it doesn’t sound like the normal version you’re used to. It sounds eery, and you can feel yourself walking towards the sound. You’re in a trance. Which book hooked you in from the very first page?

I was going to say The Last Namsara again because “Asha lured the Dragon with a story” is a great first line but honestly I think it has to be The Hobbit which totally captivated me as a child. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

You’re climbing over the rails of the ocean, moving towards the sound of the singing. You jump into the ocean and a rush of cold hits you. What book has the biggest plot twist that you weren’t expecting?

Did I mention The Loneliest Girl In The Universe yet? Of course I did.
As I have I’ll say Undead Girl Gang for this one if you’ve read it I’ll just say mushrooms and I’m pretty sure you’ll get it.

You begin swimming on instinct, nothing has come to get you yet. You feel like you’ve been swimming for hours. What’s the biggest book you’ve ever read? (Or the one that’s taken you the longest time to read).

I’m pretty sure strange The Dreamer is the biggest book I’ve read and honestly, I listened to most of it in the end because it was so hard to carry around in my bag!

Something grabs your leg. You start kicking. Which book deals with heavy/under-discussed that always makes you want to put up a fight for righteousness?

The Exact Opposite of Okay, it really changed the way I understood occurrences in my day to day life, how I felt about myself and the people I spend my time with.

They’re pulling you under the water. Which book had you on the edge of your seat, unable to breathe as you turned to the next page?

Illuminae. I remember turning the pages so damn fast and my face being practically in the book trying to read the words faster, it was crazy and I ended up with a saw jaw from clenching it so hard and for so long.

You notice a glimpse of red. You notice a fish-like tail. It’s a siren. Which book would you recommend for people who love the ocean’s mythical creatures?

Funnily enough probably To Kill A Kingdom, I love the distinction between sirens and mermaids as well as the culture surrounding the sirens themselves and how it came to be.

There is an enormous screeching sound. The siren lets go. You float to the top of the ocean surface, gasping for air. You’re alive. You get onboard the boat, dry off and clutch your books to your chest.

Which bookish-friends would you call to share your experience with? Who would you believe you? Who should do this tag?

Damn, I was hoping a Siren would fall in love with me? There’s still time right?

I’m terrible at picking people to tag so I’ll say that if you see this and want to take part consider yourself tagged by me! Let me know if you take part and link me so I can check your answers!

Events

YALC Day Two Recap

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Day Two of my YALC recap is here (yes two weeks later I’m aware). The Saturday of YALC was a great one but easily the most grueling. I had a lot of signings I wanted to get to, three of which were straight after a panel and with very popular authors but I’ll go into more detail about that later.

My first stop of the morning was to the Hot Key Books stand where I signed up for a Siren makeover and grabbed a copy of To Kill a Kingdom to get signed by author Alexandra Christi, I had a digital ARC of the book and loved it so knew I had to get a hard copy. The lovely ladies at the stall also made an easy extra two book sales by informing me that M.A Bennett would be around to sign books later too so I grabbed a copy of The Island and then also telling me that their books were 3 for £10 and I nabbed a copy of Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray after loving her work on Star Wars: Bloodline and Leia, plus I was in a very spacey kind of mood.

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On the way to get my Siren make up done I also paid a quick visit to the Ink Road Stall after having a lovely chat with the ladies there the day before. I figured I’d pop over and say hi, see how they were doing etc and I also wanted to pick up a sampler for Summer Bird Blue when I spot Akemi Dawn Bowman just sitting behind the stand  – which is fine she’s an actual human being who is allowed to sit etc but I just hadn’t expected it as she wasn’t signing until Sunday. I mumbled about how much I loved Starfish and then got super nervous and kind of ran away. I’m an idiot but plucked up the courage after a quick sit down and a drink to head back and say hi properly. She was SO lovely and signed my sampler for me as I wouldn’t have my copy of Starfish with me until the next day and we took a picture together, it was lovely and was a super awesome start to the day. Apart from the running away bit obviously.

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Next up were the signings for the Floored authors! For some reason I assumed that all of the authors would perhaps be at a table together and we’d all queue in one line then when we got to the front we would work our way across each of the authors and DONE. Alas it was not to be! I think I got this idea from the fact that all of the authors were represented on the timetable by a picture of the Floored book cover whereas when they’d been shown on other days they had different pictures, i.e Non’s was Giant days (and I’m an idiot and didn’t take Floored for her to sign with me when I met her then!). The way it was shown said to me that it was a special signing session for Floored but I was horrified to discover when I got to the signing area that we actually had to queue individually for almost every one of the authors and they were NOT small queues by any stretch of the imagination. I managed to only miss Melinda Sailsbury and Non Pratt in the end telling myself I was likely to see them at more events and possibly YALC next year thankfully as I absolutely had to sit down for a but and have something to drink etc. I’d brought a big bottle of juice squash I’d left in the freezer over night and it was an absolute live saver each day so I’ll definitely be doing that again next year.

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As you can see I managed to bump into Melinda Sailsbury later on and she was more than happy to sign my copy of Floored for me as she was a bit miffed that the Showmasters staff cut her queue off and didn’t tell her when she was more than happy to keep on signing. As much as I liked the extra space we have on the YALC floor I wonder if it’s time for a bit more of a move around so we have more space for signing queues or a better application of the virtual queue ticketing which I think is a great idea when used right.

Before heading off to the “Among the Stars” panel I met up with a load of the girls from the SundayYA group and got a few group pictures taken (one of which is the header for this post). Again it was lovely seeing everyone and OH MY GOSH Layla’s Kaz cosplay was STUNNING.

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I was SO excited for the Among the Stars panel that I can’t even explain. I literally wore a spacey outfit for the occasion. The panel featured Becky Chambers, Lauren James, Lindsay Cummings, Sasha Alsberg and was chaired by Samantha Shannon. The panel was to discuss space and creating worlds that none of us have had the chance to go to except in our authors wonderful books and it did NOT disappoint. I was lucky enough to even be able to ask a question (who would you chose to take to space with you?). Not to mention at the end of the talk Lauren James revealed the cover for her new book “The Quiet at the End of the World which I am SO SO ready for already. Also look at this cover it’s gorgeous!!

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Next were the dreaded signings. I had been anxious all day about getting to all three authors in their two-hour signing slots because they’re so very popular. I joined the Sasha Alsberg queue first and was super pleased to have managed to get in quite near the front. We (me and Mel) were in fact in the first thirty which meant we won a Geeky Clean Zenith Bath Bomb (which I had inadvertently helped design while wicking candles for a super secret NPC thing). Meeting Sasha was AMAZING. I could talk and talk about Zenith and my copy is FULL of tabs as it was my very first ARC/review copy I had ever had and I’d read it twice so I mean it when I say it is FULL of these little tabs. Sasha loved going through asking me what each colour meant and I was a little embarrassed as a few were frustrated or annoyed bits but she told me it means so much to see a copy of her book like that and I thought I was going to cry which is totally lame. Sasha’s channel was the very first booktube chanel I ever watched and she got me hooked on Shadowhunters so I’m so glad I got to meet someone who had already had such an impact on me. It was also so lovely that she had brought bookplates signed by Lindsay along with her too as Lindsay couldn’t make it as she’s getting ready to have her baby soon and it was such a nice little touch. P.S Don’t ask about the picture we had taken together because I made a face at Steph and that was the picture I got so I’ll include one of us talking while she went though my tabs instead!

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While I was in the queue for Sasha I started to feel a bit dismayed about getting through the other queues as they were building fast. Thankfully the lovely Jenn and her boyfriend were next to us in the Becky Chambers queue and her boyfriend offered to take mine to get it signed which I am super grateful for as I don’t think I would have been able to make it through all of them. I do wonder whether YALC need to consider the types of authors they’re all having signing at the same time and weather or not these are authors people are going to want to meet all of and perhaps stagger them a bit more?

Thankfully I did manage to make it through the queue to meet Lauren James! I absolutely LOVED her book that released early at YALC last year “The Loneliest Girl In The Universe” and was that weekend actually reading her debut book “The Next Together” (which I reviewed on Tuesday if you want to check it out) so it was even more fantastic than normal to meet her. Being one of my top favourite authors and an instabuy for me I was so happy to get this chance to talk to her and get excited about her new book etc.

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The day was coming to an end fast and I had one more signing to get to and that was for Laura Steven, the author of The Exact Opposite of Okay which is another book that really resonated with me and my teenage years. It was lovely to have a nice chat with her and let her know how grateful I am for this fantastic, funny and important book she’s written as well as telling her much I couldn’t wait to get hold of the sequel coming next year!

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It was a long old day and my only real problem were the way some of the signings were done to be honest. The overground wasn’t running that weekend so I had to get the district line back to Liverpool Street, I ended up on a wrong tube but it all worked out pretty good in the end. Mainly because I met a super adorable Dog who wanted to sit with me have strokes and share my fan. Win/win situation. I’ll be back tomorrow for my Day Three recap and my all round sum up!

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I couldn’t not post the picture of this good boy!

book reviews, spoiler free

To Kill a Kingdom – Review

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To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo 

Rating: XXXXX

Published: March 6th 2018 by Hot Key Books
(I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)

“I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.”

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

I’d heard of “To Kill A Kingdom” in passing a few times on Instagram, a few online friends and other bloggers had received hard copies from the publisher etc but I hadn’t paid it much mind, seeing the tentacles on the cover and assuming sea monster story. WRONG. It caught my eye again while browsing for a new read on Net Galley and after finally reading the synopsis for myself knew that I needed to get hold of this book. I like swimming, I like mermaids but I also like kick ass female characters and not too much silly romance (not all romance is silly but some can feel a little gag inducing). Mermaids weren’t often the center of much ass kicking but sirens however…now we’re talking! Reading this synopsis I imagine a much more blood soaked retelling of The Little mermaid and smoosh that request button so hard. Suffice to say the moment my request was approved I squeaked, did a little dance and shut myself in my room with my kindle and a packet of biscuits.

The start of this book is blood thirsty, dark and is certainly not pulling any punches, I love a good book that can get my adrenaline going from the start and reel me in. From the beginning the Siren’s side of things is often blood soaked and raw, even the way they treat each other, these scenes are often so tense with the promise of savagery and violence that I devoured them up with reckless abandon, hungry for more.  We see this story from the Prince’s point of view as well which provided a good insight and needed information as well as another interesting perspective and dynamic. That and he, his pirate crew and his ship “The Saad” are absolutely brilliant and just as important characters as Lira herself.  The Over all the plot is good, fun and mostly exciting, even if some of the excitement comes from intrigue instead of purely action (there is plenty of both though!). It did however feel a little short to me and that everything at the end happened so fast that I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. I think this might possibly  be because of the fact it’s a standalone book which is sadly a rare commodity these days. That and I devoured the last half of this book in a day or so which made it felt like the end appeared rather quickly – this is purely my own fault though.

The writing felt easy flowing and kept the pace going at the right moments and then beautiful and descriptive when needed. There’s nothing I hate more then a tense or action filled scene caught up with too many words that aren’t needed, thankfully that isn’t the case here. I will say I found the POV changes a little jarring and they probably could have done with being labelled so I knew who I was reading as sometimes I would get a paragraph or so into a chapter before realising who’s side of the story I’m reading. It wasn’t the end of the world though and after a while I reasoned it was a good example of how similar Lira and Elain  really are if I can’t tell at first glance who’s narrative I’m reading.

I really enjoyed Lira’s character progression, although it takes a fairly obvious route there’s much more to it, the same could be said for Elain, although his is a little more standard both character arc’s feel fairly natural as do the connections they make and conclusions they come to which is a breath of fresh air from some of the books I’ve been reading lately. It’s not until after when I tried to list their characteristics that I truly realise how similar Lira and Elain mirror each other, they’re both sassy as hell and this means that a lot of their banter is brilliant and quick witted. If nothing else had sold me on this book that alone would have kept me reading, it was done so well.

“They’re insane and wonderful.” Elain himself finds the best way to describe his crew. Although the crew is fairly big we get a few main characters and personalities to focus on, I particularly loved the relationship between Kye and Madrid who are a couple and click so well while not being too much, they give me serious Zoe and Wash vibes (Firefly) and are total relationship goals. Each named character feels genuine and fleshed out, whether that be by description, dialogue or inferred from the environment. It makes them easy to read and imagine.

There is a romance in this which like the character progression I feel is fairly obvious but in the same way is different from a lot of the standard romance troupes we see in YA at the moment. Lira never loses sight of the end game and her goals. I’m so pleased to see a heroine not completely lose her head (or fins) for a love interest. Not once does this fierce, passionate creature become overly simpery or compromised in an uncharacteristic way and I’m all about that. There is one little scene that felt a bit strange and out of nowhere which I wasn’t keen on but it was fast rectified with a similar and much better connected moment later on so I can forgive it.

Overall this book was super enjoyable and covered a lot of bases for me. It was fast paced, fantasy based, just the right amount of romance and some of my favorite types of characters. Also pirates…did I mention pirates? I couldn’t put my finger on an exact rating for this, torn between XXXX and XXXXX as I enjoyed the heck out of this book and will certainly be recommending it to everyone I can as well as buying the finished edition when it releases but the XXXXX rating is often reserved for feels destroyers which this wasn’t quite for me but is nether the less a great book. Therefore I shall award my first XXXX/X rating to “Kill a Kingdom” it was well earned.

You can pre-order this book at Book Depository, Amazon or Waterstones and you can add it to your Goodreads here.