book reviews

The Girl in Red

43550676.jpgThe Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Rating: XXXXX

Published June 18th by Titan Books

“She was just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that didn’t look anything like the one she’d grown up in, the one that had been perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.”

It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined. 

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…

You know that author you keep putting off reading? Not in an unkind way, but in an “I WILL get around to reading one of their books” muttered every time you see them because you just know they’re going to be great and you then something comes up and you for whatever reason the thought slips your mind again and again and again. This is Christina Henry for me so when the lovely Julia from Titan Books asked if I wanted to review The Girl in Red by Henry and take part in the Instagram book tour in I jumped at the chance! I love retellings at the best of times but this sounded like a really interesting inspiring take on the Red Riding Hood Story.

I found The Girl in Red to be slightly terrifying, absolutely creepy as heck and wholly addictive. It reminds me a lot of the human element to the earlier episodes of the Walking Dead when you begin to realise it’s not the zombies, or in this case, the cough that are the things you have to watch your back for it’s the survivors, most of who have become desperate or cruel (if they weren’t already) since the crisis. It’s not a unique tale by any means and is a little repetitive and predictable in some places but forgivably so because the real star of this book for me (other than main character Red herself) was the amazing way Henry builds tension. I found I was holding my breath, clenching my teeth and I had trouble reading it in my house alone, at one point my phone rang (a rare occurrence) while I was reading and it was during such a tense moment in the book that I screamed so loudly I woke up my four year old. On the slightly negative side, I did personally find the ending very rushed and a little unsatisfying but the book, even on reflection was no less enjoyable for it.

Red has possibly become one of my favourite fictional characters. She is a fantastic mix of badassery and compassion, she will kill and make tough choices to survive but she doesn’t let herself become dehumanised for it which I found a really refreshing balance, when she has to fatally defend herself she doesn’t relish it, when she has to take supplies she takes what she needs and likes to make sure that there is enough left if someone else needs them etc. Red often overthinks things, often to a fault and often thinks herself round in circles to inaction which is a habit I am also extraordinarily guilty of, so seeing it portrayed in this fantastic character who acknowledged that her obsessive and sometimes paranoid thinking could be debilitating like that felt incredibly eye-opening and has really helped to keep my own obsessive thinking in check by being able to identify it.

Main character Red is also an amputee and obviously, I can’t speak to the accuracy of her experience or identify with it but I found it really enlightening and I hope it helped people who find themselves with prosthetics feel seen and represented as well as hopefully helping to educate others. There is a line that is said in relation to someone question how much Red is capable of due to her amputation and Red replies with “Stop treating me like half a person…I am missing my leg below the knee. My brain is still functioning. I know what I can do and what I can’t.” and this feels SO important and relatable for anyone who is judged, babied and looked down on because they’re differently abled.

The Girl in Red is out in stores and online today!

 

book talk, spoiler free

Harley in the Sky Cover Reveal

It’s been SO difficult to keep this secret the past couple of weeks but as a member of the Harley in the Sky Street Team I was lucky enough to see the cover for Akemi’s newest novel a little earlier and I’ve been in love with it ever since! Harley in the Sky is the next book out by author Akemi Dawn Bowman, award-winning author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue follows a multiracial teenage girl who dreams of quitting school to become a trapeze artist in her parents’ Las Vegas circus, against their wishes, prompting her to join a rival circus. There, she grows close to a handsome musician and performer—while untangling her family’s complicated past and present.

Would you like to see the cover?

 

 

Are you sure?

 

 

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I love the mix of yellow and bronze, the silhouetted figure, that absolutely gorgeous font and the beautiful stylised pattern in the background that just SCREAMS circus tent to me. You can add Harley in the Sky to your want to read on Goodreads RIGHT NOW. 

spoiler free, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – June 3rd

Its time for my fortnightly WWW Wednesday post! I’m slowly slogging through this months TBR (full post to come tomorrow!) but feeling positive I’ll get there, especially after rearranging and tidying my bookcases yesterday! If you want to join in with WWW don’t forget to send over a big thank you to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for keeping WWW alive and kicking.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore. As mentioned in my last post, this is a retelling/novelisation of the Dark Phoenix arc from the X-Men comics. I remember falling in the love with the animated X-Men series when I was younger and other than Rogue, who I adored, I really fell in love with Jean and her story as the Phoenix. I got a little older and looked into the comics more and devoured the whole story arc multiple times. I’m so glad to now get to relive it all over again in this new Marvel novel, not to mention the film coming out very very soon.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Despite meaning to read this for a while now, as soon as I saw that they would be making a show in-fact and I’m now finally getting around to it. I read the first 50 pages so that I could watch the first episode of the show and now I’m hoping to carry on and finish it so I can watch the rest of the episodes because that first one was absolutely brilliant.

What did you recently finish reading?

Memento by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. As a pre-order incentive in the US, the US publishers of Aurora Rising offered a copy of a new and exclusive Illuminae novella when you submitted your preorder receipt. This novella is an 82-page prequel about AIDAN. I was gutted to realise this was US only but the lovely Good Choice Reading who is based in the US and does virtual signings were offering the incentives with your signed book! The postage was a little painful but it was totally worth it. I read Memento the day I received it and I made a reading reaction video which you can check out here.

Nexus by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. The sequel to their first book Zenith, I was pleased to find Nexus was a HUGE improvement over its predecessor and was really enjoyable, I’m actually pretty gutted that it’s only a two book series. You can check out my review for Nexus here. 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry.  I’ve been fascinated with the idea of Christina’s fairy tale retellings for years and The Lost Boy is on my TBR and now I’m lucky enough to be taking part in the Instagram tour for her newest book The Girl in Red, the tale of Red Riding Hood (in this case more of a red jacket than an actual hood) and the decimated world riddled with quarantine camps, death, destruction and disease.

Have you read any of these? If so what are your thoughts? What have you read lately and what do you think you might read next?

spoiler free, Tags

I Should Read That – Book Tag

Welcome to the I Should Have Read That Book Tag! I wasn’t tagged to do this but I wanted to do it anyway after seeing it on ConnieReads. Here are the Rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post – I wasn’t tagged but thanks to Booksnest for creating the tag!
  • Link to the creator’s blog (booksnest.co.uk) in your post.
  • Answer the questions below.
  • Tag 10 others to take part.
  • ENJOY THE TAG!

Okay, let’s get started!

A book that a certain friend is always telling you to read

Steph is always suggesting loads of great books for me to read and I’m terrible and rarely get around to them. I read Sanctuary (review coming next week) recently which she recommended and was blown away so I guess I better get to reading Gilded Cage?

A book that’s been on your TBR forever and you still haven’t picked up

Outside in by Maria Snyder which is crazy because she’s one of my favourite authors but I just keep deciding to read other things, maybe May or June it will finally be time?

A book series you have started, but haven’t gotten round to finishing yet?

So many recently! The Throne of Glass series is a big one I guess. I did start reading Kingdom of Ash but it just wasn’t grabbing me and that huge book gave me wrist ache so maybe I’ll lift some weights and try again later in the year, I mean there’s no rush now as it’s the last one right?

A classic you have always liked the sound of, but never actually read?

I’m not often that interested in a lot of books deemed “classics” but I would love to finally get around to reading To Kill a Mocking Bird I think.

A popular book that it seems everyone but you has read?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, I’ve started,  I just keep being distracted by other books.


A book that inspired a film/tv adaption that you really love, but you just haven’t read it yet? 

To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I brought the book right after I watched the film and I can’t wait to finally read it.

A book you see all over Instagram but haven’t picked up yet?

After scrolling through Instagram for a few minutes I can confirm that my answer is Finale by Stephanie Garber. It just came out recently so it makes sense that it’s everywhere to be fair. I haven’t picked it up yet because I still haven’t read Legendary!

That was a fun little book tag and one that’s kind of inspired me to have a good sort out of my bookshelves and actually get around to some of these books, especially Outside In, it’s been sitting unread for too long!

I won’t tag anyone in particular but if you want to do it consider yourself tagged!

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Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

I loved reading Sarah’s unpopular opinions book tag last week and decided I would try it out myself, you can check hers out here.

1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like?

The Witchlands series. I tried both Truthwitch and Windwitch but I just really couldn’t get on with them. I even tried Sightwitch and an excerpt of Bloodwitch but just had to conclude they’re just not for me.

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love?

This question seems to be a bit contradictory, if everyone seems to hate it why is it popular? The closest book I coud think of was Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian. A lot of people (understandably) complain that it’s too samey, the story as all been done before etc but then eat up more of the same. For me, yes this story was a familar one but I personally really enjoyed the way Laura writes as well as main character, Theo who really made this book different for me, I loved her attitude, her resolve and her resilience, she really made this book for me and I can’t wait for the UK release of Lady Smoke!

3. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with OR a OTP that you don’t like?

I really am not a fan of a lot of the pairings in throne of glass. Aelin and Rowan being the big one for me. Honestly I would have preferred Aelin and Manon, or maybe Aelin, Manon AND Dorian. Maybe just no one? I get that people like this “epic romance” but all I can think of was the time he hurt and scared her so much she wet herself or when he bit her into submission when she was very VERY much not up for it. Just ew.

4. A popular book genre that you hardly reach for?

Contemporary. I know I sound like a broken record whenever I say this and I do love some contemporary books but I’m very VERY picky when choosing them and it’s very rarely that I do so.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like?

Chaol Westfall. I feel like Chaol may be the marmite of the fantasy world, a lot of people, like myself liked him to begin with but then severely disliked him after the way he treats Aelin when he discovers her identity (understandably). A lot of readers seemed to like him again after Tower of Dawn but it didn’t really do much for me apart from make me like him less to the point where I really could not care less for his character right now (I do still need to read Kingdom of Ash though!)

6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into?

Laura Dockrill. I’ve tried a few different books of hers such as Loreali and Big Bones but I just couldn’t get on with them and DNF’ed both.

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing?

Kick-ass girl/woman who is suddenly helpless for almost no reason or who’s personality totally changes because of a love interest.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading?

The outlander books. They seemed to have had a revival in popularity with the show coming out and I understand that people enjoy them but they’ve never really held any interest for me.

9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book? 

Stardust!! The book is good don’t get me wrong but the film is absoluteley brillant and one of my favourites.

Thank you so much for checking out this tag! It’s made me really think about some the books I read and why I’ms still so determined to actually read Kingdom of Ash at some point when I dislike so many of the characters in it (I’m pretty much just in this for Dorian and Manon at this point). I won’t tag anyone in particular for this but if it seems something you would enjoy by all means go for it and let me know so I can check out your post.

#SixforSunday

S4S – Characters I’d love to go on a date with

Good morning (or relevant greeting depending when you’re reading), It’s Six for Sunday time and this week we’re talking “Characters I’d love to go on a date with” and was another one I found difficult because although I tend to fall in love with fictional characters on a semi-regular basis they aren’t characters I imagine going on dates with, especially because I read a lot of YA so the characters themselves are a fair bit younger than myself so in the case they are mentioned below it’s usually because I imagine them to be closer to me in age or myself younger if that makes sense? Either way, I found thinking about this quite fun and realising I probably have a type – well two types.

Jude from The Folk of Air and fire Trilogy by Holly Black
I love the raw strength and cunning Jude portrays in The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. Although I have a strange thing for Cardan he is absolutely NOT dating material. Jude is probably not looking for someone to get emotionally involved with but I’d like to think we could have a fun time and she could have a break from all the hell raining down around her. We could have a picnic and she could show me how to fight after?

Mitch from Vicious and Vengeful by V.E Schwab
Mitch is an absolute sweetheart who I couldn’t help but fall in love with reading Vicious and Vengeful. I would take him to some fun but slightly gimmicky burger restaurant where we could eat and chat and order us the hugest chocolate milkshakes.

Katherine from The Last Beginning books by Lauren James,
I think I’ve spoken of my love for Katherine before but in case you hadn’t heard I LOVE HER. She’s smart, sassy, funny and confident. I feel like for our date she would probably pick some totally random physical activity that she saw an ad for somewhere online and chose at the spur of the moment like rock climbing, paintball or a giant zip wire! Although I’m pretty sure at some point during our date we would meet the cute but nerdy safety instructor called Matt and that’s when I would realise we just weren’t meant to be.

Scott Lang from Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Stone.
I’m currently reading this book so things could change later on but as seems to be one of my types I love that he’s smart, funny and quick-witted, not to mention with that criminal past (mostly), he’s a great example of a “bad boy” gone good and I’m so here for that. Chuck in the fact that I imagine him to look like Scott Lang from the Marvel films (Paul Rudd), the amount of great and often quite feminist novels he’s read and enjoyed as well as the beautiful relationship he has with his daughter Cassie and I would be powerless to resist. Not sure what our date would be like but I imagine doing the stereotypical going to a restaurant lark but actually really enjoying it and having a good time.

River Song from The Legends of River Song by Jenny T Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner and Steve Lyons.
This is a great collection of short stories about River who is my favourite character in the Doctor who Universe in which we really get to see her shine on her own a little more. At the risk of repeating myself, I love that she’s smart, funny, sassy and flirty with a big heart she keeps hidden away and it doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty gorgeous (that hair <3). I would probably have heard stories from her about this “Doctor” person and put two and two together from the way she talks about him but that wouldn’t stop us from going on a seemingly normal date and then it ends in complete and utter chaos after we have to solve some (probably intergalactic or alien) mystery, or stealing something. I’m sure we’d probably share one incredible kiss and then I would never see her again but it would have been totally worth it.

Jace from The Shadowhunter books by Cassie Clare.
Jace was one of my first proper “book boyfriends” / literary crushes (as long as you don’t count some confused feelings for Rhys in The Two Princess of Barremare or the morbid fascination I had with Damon Salvatore). Jace is a nice mix of my two types I think in that he’s sarcastic and sassy but a great fighter and just a little bit broken and angsty (…okay a lot) and I fell for him hard when I first read City of Bones, lines like “If you wanted me to take my clothes off you should have just asked” and “Alas, my one true love remains myself” and LOADS more just endeared him to me all the more. Our date would be awkward as hell though, I have no idea how to actually go on dates anymore and when I was younger wasn’t really the dating type, while he probably hasn’t really been on many dates either. I can just hope that some Shadowhunter stuff goes down and it turns out I’m actually a really good fighter, we fall madly in love, I become a Shadow Hunter etc etc etc.

I feel like I may have probably put more thought into that then needed so you’re welcome I guess?? It was fun to realise that I like my partners/love interests to be smart, funny, sassy, sarcastic and probably able to fight pretty well? Not to mention the slightly angsty, morally grey in places traits but thinking back on a lot of my fictional crushes this actually seems to have hit the nail on the head so that was interesting to realise! I hope you enjoyed reading and I can’t wait to hear all about which fictional character YOU would like to date too!

Tags

The Ship Tag

I found this tag via Book Princess Reviews a while back and as I’m well known in my circle of friends for shipping basically everyone and everything so I thought this would be a fun one to try out and what better time to do so then for Valentine’s Day?! (Not going to lie this was just a happy coincidence and I’m rolling with it). I tried to label each answer with any spoilers but there are technically spoilers about who gets with who in a lot of books but thats as far as any spoilers go so although this post is not technically spoiler free they are only mild spoilers.

1) If you could date a fictional character who would it be and why? Can I please date Kady AND Ezra please? I love them both so much and I wouldn’t want to separate them?

2) If you were to go on a date with said fictional character where would you go and what would you do?
I feel like there would be sweet waffles or pancakes and hamburgers? I bet Kady has some weird taste in food like she puts syrup in her burger or gherkins on her pancakes and Ezra and me are just like wha and then we try it too because we’re idiots.

3) A favourite “ship”/ couple you’ve read?
I can’t pick just one and you can’t make me.
Katherine and Matthew from The Next Together series because I love them so much and they are couple goals.
Kady and Ezra from Illuminae, I loved their relationship and dynamic together so much and that it didn’t feel too intrusive or over done.
Yelena and Valek from The Poison Study series, I wasn’t too sure about their relationship originally but it really grew on me, I love their balance of give and take as well as the real trust and teamwork they share too.
Also low key shoutout to Kieran, Mark and Christina, I’ve not finished Queen of Air and Darkness yet but my favourite thing about the entire book so far has been the beautiful relationship between these three and I’m glad to see it done well.

4) A “ship”/couple you hated?
(ToG and ACOTAR couple spoilers)
I’m not a huge fan of any of the couples in the A Court of Thorns and Roses or Throne of Glass books. I’m not sure if its the way Sarah J Maas writes but I absolutely hated Roawn with a a passion and then he’s suddenly her Caranam, which I could just about stand but then he turned out to be her mate? Ew. I enjoy some pretty unhealthy relationships in books (see next question) but for some reason I just can’t look past the way Rowan treated Aelin. I’m a little better with Rhysand and Feyre but it just makes me feel eehhh.
Ooo there is one ship I like in ToG, Dorian and Manon (Pre EoS at least as I’ve not finished that yet!)

5) A book that had the classic Hate to Love trope?
(Couple spoilers for The Cruel Prince and The Vampire Diaries)
I feel like I’ve read quite a few of them but honestly most of the time there was never any real hate, occasionally mistrust or just a general dislike, genuine hate is a bit more difficult. I would say Damon and Elena from The Vampire Diaries books? I am also SO here for the hot mess that is Jude and Cardan from The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. I really enjoy this trope for it’s intensity and the line “Kiss me until I’m sick of it” has become one of my all time favourite quotes.

6) A book that had insta love?
A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne Harris, I love the way the insta love is played out in this little book, from the main character thinking she was too wild and untameable to ever actually love a human boy and then seeing him for the first time and falling head over heels in love with him. It’s described so well as are the consequences later which is nice and refreshing for a book featuring inst

7) A book with a light cutesie relationship?
Maybe Fangirl? That was pretty cute? I don’t read a lot of light cutsie books.

8) A book with a relationship that made you cry?
Lazlo and Sarai from Strange The Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares, they’re so beautifully tragic

9) A book without romance (or with very little)?
Vengeful and I’m so pleased for it, I like a little romance in books but I really don’t think there was room for it in this book and not having any was absolutely the right choice.

10) If you could delete one “ship” from a book who would it be and why?
Simon and Clary from the Shadowhunter books, it was painfully cringey and ironically it felt like she was dating her brother.

11) A new couple you read that you ship?
Matthew and Diana from the All Souls books, I know these aren’t a new couple technically but I only read the first book recently so they’re new to me. I like that although Matthew is partially still a ‘you must do what I tell you’ sterotypical male vampire Diana very much still does her own thing and Matthew learns to trust and value her and her opinion as she does his like a real couple and I’m really enjoying that at the moment.