Sunday, 16 April 2017

Laini Taylor Event at Waterstones Liverpool

Hi everyone!

So we've gone a bit quiet again recently, partly due to the opening of our store, Two Candle Thieves, and also as Angharad's away at the moment and I'm just finishing up with my degree. Hopefully once the last of my assignments are submitted and Angharad's finished gallivanting about in the south of England, we'll be posting more frequently again!

Today's post is a bit different from anything we've done before (partly because we've never attended book signings before - unless you count the Jacqueline Wilson event I went to when I was 12...) but anyway - I thought I'd share a bit about the Laini Taylor event I went to in Liverpool a few days ago!


As soon as I saw that Laini was touring the UK, I knew I had to be at one of her events - I've absolutely loved her writing ever since I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone around five years ago, and I had been waiting to read Strange the Dreamer ever since I heard that she was writing a new novel. Unfortunately, Laini wasn't visiting Manchester on this tour, so after considering the three nearest event stops to me, I decided to attend the event at Waterstones in Liverpool - I've been to Liverpool many times for photography work, and as I was anxious enough about going to a bookish event for the first time (and on my own) I wanted to be in a city that I was fairly familiar with! 


Luckily, I ended up not having to go to the event alone, and met up with Amy (www.amyjanealice.com), Lauren (www.northernplunder.blogspot.co.uk), and Beth (www.iambookmad.com), three fellow Manchester-based book bloggers. I'm usually an awkward mess when meeting new people, but these three are so lovely and it was so great to meet some book lovers who live close to me! So after travelling to Liverpool and grabbing some food, we got to Waterstones, and I couldn't have been more excited. 

There was a little talk and Q&A - Laini spoke about how Strange the Dreamer was originally Sarai's story, called the Muse of Nightmares, but Lazlo just kept coming back to her, and so the first book in the series became his story. I'm so glad she chose to write the book this way, as I have to admit, Lazlo is definitely my current bookish crush. I feel as though I should have taken notes during the talk (as a few other people there were) so I could remember it all better, but I was just so awestruck that I didn't even think to do so!

One interesting link between Strange the Dreamer and Daughter of Smoke and Bone was the mention of being impaled on spikes - this is at the very beginning of Strange the Dreamer (so no spoilers here, don't worry!) and mentioned briefly in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (about Czech nationalists attempting a rebellion against the Nazis, and subsequently being impaled on a gate surrounding the building that had become Karou's art school). Laini hadn't actually noticed this link until it was brought up but assured us all that she doesn't have a phobia of being impaled on a gate.


After the talk, we queued up for the signing - the four of us were panicking a bit about getting the train back, but the lovely Waterstones staff moved us closer to the front of the queue (with the help of a very kind man who let us cut in front of him - if you're somehow reading this, big thanks to you!!). It got to my turn to speak to Laini, and I was honestly so nervous! I got up and handed her my books and mumbled some rubbish about how it was my first book signing, I was sorry that I'd brought so many books with me to be signed, and some other nonsense. Laini was such a lovely person though! I also gave her one of our Welcome to Weep candles and got a photo with her (below). We were all given two Strange the Dreamer moth temporary tattoos, which are so pretty that I can't bring myself to actually use them and have stuck them on my bookcase instead!


I do feel as though I was such a puddle of awkwardness, but hopefully next time I'll be less nervous now that I know what to expect from author signings and events a bit more. I'm really hoping to somehow be able to attend YALC this year, and if I do I'll get to meet Laini again which would be amazing!

love Becky @

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Hunted by Meagan Spooner




Beauty and the Beast has never been my favourite story, but when I saw that this BATB retelling was set in medieval Russia and incorporated aspects of Ivan Tsarevitch, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf, it went straight onto my TBR list!

Hunted follows Yeva (nicknamed Beauty by her family), a young girl who's a skilled hunter after training for years beside her father in the woods close to their village. Yeva has a comfortable life with her father and two sisters, spending most of her days accompanying the baronessa of the village with a group of other women. However, she grows tired of living up to the standards of high society, and longs to live in the woods and carry on hunting - and also to meet someone who will understand her unconventional ways and treat her as an equal with admirable skills, rather than a submissive woman. 


When Yeva's father loses his fortune, her family is forced to move back to his small hunting cabin deep in the woods. This may seem like a blessing in disguise for Yeva, who is finally able to escape the confines of high society, until the day that her father goes missing after becoming convinced that there is a beast living in the forest chasing away his prey. Yeva is then forced to go deep into the woods to search for him. What follows becomes a merging of Beauty and the Beast alongside Ivan and the Firebird, mixed with multiple other Russian folktales that I've come to love over the years.

I generally have three problems with Beauty and the Beast, and thankfully, Hunted eradicates all of them. First off, the stockholm syndrome. Yeva gets to know the Beast and forms a bond with him before knowing that he is the one who imprisoned her, and once she finds out, she struggles with her fondness for her mysterious friend Ivan, and the beast who chained her up and who she believes hurt her father. There is also a conversation between Yeva and a friend of hers about abusive relationships - something which I've definitely never seen in a Beauty and the Beast retelling before, and which improved the story as a whole so much. Issues like this need to be addressed in these sort of stories, and I was so thankful that Meagan Spooner took the time to add this conversation into the book. 

Second, I've never really liked Belle/Beauty in these stories. Thankfully, Yeva was a much more interesting character - she's a strong female character (and we can never have too many of those, in my opinion), she had depth, she was incredibly selfless and always put others before her (even those who hurt her), she was determined and she knew exactly what she wanted, and I really came to relate to her story. The author's note at the back of Hunted points out that this is very much a coming of age story that the author herself feels relates to her own life, and I could also relate to so much of it, so Yeva really grew on me. 


Third, the sisters. I don't think I've ever read or seen a version of Beauty and the Beast where Beauty's sisters aren't awful to her, but Yeva's sisters, Lena and Asenka, are both wonderful characters in their own right and are always looking out for their younger sister. I really enjoyed both of their individual stories and would definitely read more about them. 

Fourth (I think) the Gaston character. We've all seen this guy be the typical douche (lets take Tamlin in ACOTAR, for example) but Yeva's suitor, Solmir, is actually such a nice person and admires Yeva's talent for hunting and tracking - he doesn't treat her like she's below him or expect her to be the typical wife figure, and constantly reassures her that he'd never impose any expectations on her if they were to marry. When she's unsure about being with him, he doesn't push her at all and promises to protect her family when she leaves the cabin to search for their father. There was honestly a small part of me that was shipping him with Yeva, he was just that lovely!

And finally, the 'fall in love to break the spell' trope. Without spoiling anything, I'm so happy to say that the Beast isn't constantly trying to force Yeva to fall in love with him in order to break his curse. He believes that his curse has to be broken in other ways that require Yeva's help - but I won't say anything else on this as it'll spoil too much of the plot! 

I have to say that the incorporation of Ivan Tsarevitch, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf worked so perfectly with this story, and the second half of this book is definitely more of a retelling of this folktale than of Beauty and the Beast. It was done in such a clever way, and I'm still in awe at the way that the author managed to weave the two together and set the result in medieval Russia so perfectly. I'm always on the lookout for new books inspired by Russian folklore, and I'm so glad that I came across Hunted.

love Becky @


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Latinx Book Recommendations


In light of an upcoming book which appears to have severe themes of cultural appropriation for the Latinx community, here are some books from the community, with majority being Own Voice novels. Support these books and their authors and let their voices be heard as they tell their histories and their stories and be careful of the damage caused by supporting misinformation and appropriation. 

Goodreads | Book Depository





The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

After 'borrowing' her father's credit card without permission, Margot finds herself having to work in the grocery store owned by her family as punishment and to pay off her debts. Margot is desperate to maintain her fought-for reputation at her private school, and refuses to let her family get in the way of her attending the ultimate beach party. The Education of Margot Sanchez looks at class and cultural issues, family secrets, and the building of new relationships whilst trying to maintain old relationships, with friends who could never understand the situation that you're in. 






Goodreads






I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

A YA contemporary telling the story of Julia, a young girl left to pick up the broken pieces after her sister dies in a tragic accident. Unlike her 'perfect' sister, Julia still lives at home and becomes the brunt of their mother's grief as all her failures get pointed out. However, what if her sister wasn't as perfect as everyone thought? This is a story of self-discovery, secrets and what happens to the ones left behind. This book will be released on October 17th, 2017.






Goodreads



Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Not only being blessed by the world's prettiest cover, this magic-realism story follows the Nomeolvides women who have tended the beautiful estate of La Pradera whose magic entices guests from all over the world. However, these women have a tragic legacy: if they love too deeply, their lovers will mysteriously vanish and after years of this, a strange boy appears in their gardens. One of the women, Estrella becomes enamoured by this mysterious boy who doesn't know where he is or where he has come from. This book will be published on October 3rd, 2017.








Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

This short but powerful novel follows Sierra Santiago, a budding artist from Brooklyn. She is looking forward to a good summer but that is until a strange guy turns up to a party, starting a chain of unusual events in New York. Sierra soon discovers the Shadowshapers, a supernatural order who can connect with spirits via paintings, music and stories. Finding out not just about this order but also about her family's history, is Sierra ready to face her destiny? The sequel, Shadowhouse Fall, will be released on September 12th, 2017.






Goodreads | Book Depository



Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

A YA mystery novel following Anastasia Phoenix, the always odd girl out plus black belt plus speaker of four languages. Moving to an International city with her scientist parents is hard enough without being the sister of a mission girl who is presumably dead. Anastasia is the only person certain her sister is still alive and when she finds a trail of evidence, she becomes part of a conspiracy much bigger than she anticipated. But her only goal is to find her sister. Joined by Marcus, your typical bad-boy with a heap of secrets, the two try to uncover the secrets around her sister's disappearance but everything is not as it appears.







Goodreads





The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers 

Being the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City, Camilla del Valle Cammi is used to a life of private planes and paparazzi. It comes with being the daughter of a telenovela actress and a voice-over artist for blockbuster films. However, when her mum gets cast in an American television show, everything changes when the family move to LA and things aren't quite as glamorous anymore. For once in her life, Camilla is struggling to fit in, especially when her new friends thinks she is a scholarship kid and daughter of a domestic. This book will be released on May 9th, 2017.







Goodreads


They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Adam Silvera strikes again with a book you just know is gonna make you cry and smile, probably at the same time. Following the story of Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, this young-adult novel joins them on their last day on Earth as they meet over an app and agree to spend their last hours together. Going from strangers to friends in just a couple of hours isn't something either of them expected but knowing you'll both be dead in a few hours tends to speed things up. Heartbreaking, profound and proof that your entire life can change in a day. This will be released on September 5th, 2017.









Are there any Latinx books that you're anticipating? 
Let us know in the comments ready for the second part of this post.
Love Angharad @

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab


The final instalment in the Shades of Magic series follows our favourite Antari, Kell who is a magician with the ability to travel between alternate Londons. Teaming up with fellow magician, Delilah Bard - cutthroat pirate and thief and his brother, Rhy, heir to the throne, they must put a stop to a murderous force that threatens to take over everything and put everyone under their spell. 
(Trigger Warning - The Magicians in this series use blood magic so there are some detailed descriptions of cutting in this series.)


* Angharad's Thoughts *

If I could just insert an audio clip of me screaming for my review, then that will probably sum up my experience with this trilogy. Usually with trilogies, the first book is amazing and then the second book is okay and then the third is either a hit or miss but this entire trilogy managed to be A+++ all the way through and nobody could have done it quite like Victoria Schwab. Just a quick summary because if you're reading this review, then you've probably read the previous books. The Shades of Magic trilogy follows Kell who is an Antari, a magician able to travel between worlds, or in this particular case, various Londons. 
This series introduced me to one of my all time favourite characters - Delilah Bard. Thief/pickpocket and wannabe pirate, whose goal in life is to just live it. She is gender-fluid, has a disability, carries a load of knives around with her and is confident and sassy without being cocky. She starts off as something of a side character when she teams up with Kell but by the end of the series, she is the shining star. She goes through so much character development in just three books and grows so much as a person. She was a girl used to running, used to having nothing, used to sleeping with her back against the wall but now she is pure magic (literally and figuratively.)
Another character with huge development is Rhy, heir to the Arnesian throne and Kell's brother (also a queer PoC.) He has no magic and always felt as though he was less because of it but he proves that you don't need magic in order to be a true and just king. I was so so proud of him after reading this book, he's just my royal son. His relationship with Alucard progressed more and we hear more about their backstory - they are just the cutest. Speaking of Alucard, he continued to be a badass in this book, whilst also breaking my heart into a thousand pieces and constantly bickering with Kell. 
Want to know what broke my heart the most? Other than pretty much everything. The award goes to Holland. We get chapters from his POV as he also tells us about his past, from the beginning. Without excusing some of his actions, he has been through so so much, his life has literally been hell on earth and we hear more about his life and the people who have been in it. Holland, Kell, Lila and Alucard even team up in the second half of the book and I enjoyed every second of these people working together. Teamwork (especially between former enemies) is my soft spot in fiction. Also, without giving away spoilers, Kell and Holland go through quite a bit in this conclusion. 
Overall, this book was huge (the paperback being 666 pages, har har, Victoria) but every second was packed with action, emotion and excitement. I read this book in a day and every time I had to put it down, I felt as though I had been pulled from the world. We get POVs from Kell, Lila, Holland - even characters such as Queen Emira & King Maxim which was really interesting. I usually hate secondary characters suddenly having a voice in the final book but this is Victoria Schwab we're talking about so she nailed it. The beginning, middle and end captured my attention and I'll miss this world more than you can imagine. It is rich, diverse and just magical and it will forever be a series I recommend.



* Becky's Thoughts *

It's been a few days since I finished this book and I still can't put my feelings into words. The one thing I can confidently say right now, to sum everything up, is this - although I've loved this series from the start, it was A Conjuring of Light that truly made it one of my favourite series's of all time. 

We are thrown straight into the action with this book kicking off exactly where A Gathering of Shadows left off, and this fast-pacing carries on throughout, because for Kell, Lila, Alucard, Rhy and Holland, it's no longer just a magical power play - it's about saving their world(s). I'm not always a fan of books that are full of action all the way through, but ACOL did this perfectly - yes, the action, tension and plotting never stopped, but it wasn't all action and nothing else. Each of the characters grow and develop more in this book than in either of the previous books, and we get more of a look into their pasts as well - Holland's back story, most of all, destroyed me. I've always loved him (sorry, I just have a thing for antiheroes/villains) and his story arc in this book couldn't have been more perfect. Lila was, as always, amazing, and she definitely grew and matured in this book in my opinion. 

I feel like there isn't much that I can say that Angharad hasn't already said or that wouldn't absolutely spoil this book for anyone else, so I'll just say this - go and read it. If you've already read the first two books in the series, I don't think you need me to convince you to pick this up, and if you haven't started this series yet, take our gushing as encouragement to go and do so. If you want a fantasy series full of complex, well developed and diverse characters, three different worlds with the most perfect atmospheric world building, a fast-paced, emotional plot, and enough twists and cliffhangers to make you dizzy, this is the series for you. 

+

love,


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza


"Was there really so much hatred in the universe, so much prejudice, even among people who claimed to be unbiased? Had this always been true?"



Honestly, Sci-Fi isn't always my go-to genre; I have always been an avid Star Wars fan, but I tend to be quite wary of sci-fi novels as I really struggle to find ones that I can connect with, or that don't info dump too much (in my opinion). However, when Empress of a Thousand Skies was announced, I jumped straight on the hype train along with everyone else. All I knew about this book was that it was a YA sci-fi, centered around a Princess set on vengeance, full of diverse characters, and I had high hopes for it. I'm happy to say that this book didn't disappoint. 

Empress of a Thousand Skies switches between two POV's - Princess Rhiannon Ta'an (Rhee), the last survivor of the Kalusian dynasty. Rhee is approaching her sixteenth birthday and coronation, but is determined to out her family's murderer before she is crowned. The second POV character is Alyosha, a Wraetan refugee who has found fame in a DroneVision show, The Revolutionary Boys. When Rhee is attacked during her journey to her home planet a few days before her coronation is planned, the galaxy assumes her dead, and Alyosha is blamed - a scapegoat in a universe still full of prejudices against Wraetans. 


For me, what really made this book was the incredibly relevant social commentary. Alyosha struggles daily with being Wraetan and being famous - he feels as though his actions will reflect the actions of everyone from Wraeta, his home planet which was destroyed in the last war with Kalu. Despite the treaty between the Kalusians and the Wraetans following the war, tensions are still high between them both, and Alyosha is determined to prove the often racist and stereotypical opinions that the Kalusians have of the Wraetans wrong. However, when he is framed for Rhee's murder, all of his carefully done hard work goes awry, and war flares back up across the galaxy. Alyosha also has an incredibly emotional backstory, focusing on his journey away from Wraeta before it's destruction, and his feelings of displacement ever since. I felt as though Alyosha's story particularly is so relevant to the world we're currently living in, and it was easy to see the parallels despite him being from a completely fictional planet. 

Rhee's side of the story is far more fast paced, and is much more of a coming of age story as she delves into the secrets surrounding the murder of her parents and sister, as well as coming to terms with the differing opinions of her being on the brink of taking the crown at such a young age. Both Rhee and Aly's stories circle each other and join together in such a perfect way, making the overall plot of this book full of cliffhangers, surprise twists and heartbreaking scenes. 


I often struggle with world building in sci-fi novels, however the world building in Empress was both easy to follow and complex enough to flesh out the galaxy at the same time. Each of the characters visited multiple planets, moons etc throughout, which I thought really added to the overall plot - why stick to one planet when you have a whole galaxy in your reach? There was also a map and a little glossary at the front - two things which are bound to start a book off on the right foot!

If I were to have one criticism, it'd be that I would have liked more character development. I felt as though I could have connected to Rhee more than I did, and hopefully I'll be more emotionally invested in her story in the second book. 

Overall, Empress is truly unlike any other sci-fi book I've ever read - it's culturally relevant to our time, whilst remaining fast-paced enough to keep you interested, and is set across a whole galaxy that I can't wait to see more of in the sequel. I'd definitely recommend this book! 

+

love Becky @

Monday, 20 February 2017

February Fairyloot Unboxing: Emperors and Fugitives


After guessing which book would be included in this month's Fairyloot, I knew I had to get hold of one, and luckily I managed to grab a box just before they sold out. Here is our full unboxing of the Emperors and Fugitives box - if you are waiting for your box and wanting to avoid spoilers, I'd suggest looking away now!



* Spoilers Below*




Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza + signed bookplate and letter from the author

This is a book that's been on my TBR list for a long time, so I was so excited to receive it (plus a letter from the author and a signed bookplate) in this month's box! I can't wait to get stuck into this book; an action packed space opera full of diverse characters!


Manon and Dorian double-sided print by Taratjah 

Who doesn't love Manon and Dorian? This double-sided print is perfect for any fan of the ship (what would they be called? Manorian?) and I've already stuck mine up on my wall (with the Manon side visible, obviously!)

Rebel of the Sands Pouch by Alisse Courter

This is a lovely little pouch that could easily be used as a pencil case, a make up bag, a little purse, and more! It's hand lettered with a quote from Rebel of the Sands, 'The world makes things for each place'.

Kalusian Sunset Candle by Happy Piranha

This is a full-size candle with a gorgeous, sweet scent. My favourite thing about it is that the author of this month's book, Rhoda Belleza, named this candle!

Celestial Gunpowder Bath Bomb by Bathing Beauties

This exclusive bath bomb smells of cupcakes, and I can't wait to use it! 

Space Girl Bookmark by Till and Dill

Considering that I used to use train tickets to mark my place in a book, I now have quite a collection of bookmarks, and this is a perfect addition to that collection!

Illuminae Coaster by Read At Midnight

I haven't read Illuminae, but I really have a thing for bookish coasters for some reason, so I was really excited to find this in this month's box. This coaster reads 'She is catalyst. She is chaos. I can see why he loves her.' As with many items that Fairyloot include in their boxes, it's a really great item despite me not having read the book that the quote is from.

Baby Groot Keychain from Funko

So, I have a confession to make...
*whispers* I don't like Guardians of the Galaxy...
BUT, my husband soon stole this little Groot keyring off me, and I have to admit it's dancing is quite cute!


Extras: The One Memory of Flora Banks sampler | MyBookmark Discount Code 


love Becky @


Friday, 17 February 2017

Diverse Recs: Books with Muslim Characters II


Our previous post on books featuring Muslim characters which you can find here did so well that we decided to do a second part which is fitting considering the state of the world right now. If we continue to find books written by or featuring Muslims or you guys want to recommend any, we will definitely keep this series going so leave any comments below. Also, if any of the information we give is incorrect, please do not hesitate to let us know. 



Goodreads | Amazon





That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim

We follow the story of Pakistani-American, Shabnam Qureshi, a teen who is attending a private school alongside her best friend, Farah. However, when Farah starts wearing her headscarf without consulting her and after hooking up with the most racist guy in school, Shabnam's life begins to unravel. That is until she meets Jamie, a guy who gets her a job at his auntie's pie shack. Shabnam finds herself falling for him but knows there are secrets he is hiding from her. A story of love, culture and self-worth. 








Goodreads | Amazon



The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

Daria Esfandyar and her group of friends call themselves the Authentics as they pride themselves on staying true to themselves and their culture, as being an Iranian-American, Daria is proud of her heritage. However, when researching a school project, she stumbles across something shocking about her own past which leads her on a journey of self-discovery whilst also trying to cope with her mother planning a sweet sixteen birthday party. With everything spiralling out of control, can Daria remain true to herself? This book is released on August 8th, 2017. 






Goodreads | Book Depository




Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

This is an amazing debut novel featuring an Arab Indian-American hijabi protagonist, Janna Yusuf. As a Muslim teen who is an aspiring photographer and occasional graphic novelist, a lot of people don't know what to make of her. Usually Janna doesn't care what people think about her but that is until she meets Jeremy but she could never date him, could she? Muslims can't date, right? What will people in her tight knit Muslim community make of Janna following her heart? This is a story of self-discovery, religion and if we do fit into the category of 'Saint,' 'Misfit,' or 'Monster.' This book will be released on June 13th, 2017.






Goodreads | Book Depository




The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain

The story of four sisters - Fatima, Farah, Bubblee and Mae - who are the only Muslims in their small, English village. Struggling to fit in doesn't bother the sisters and as a whole, they are a happy family but each sister has their own problem. After continuing to fail countless driving tests, Fatima is trying to find out who she really is. Farah is desperate to be a mother despite being in a happy marriage, Bubblee is an aspiring-artist trying to make herself known in London and Mae is coming to terms with quickly becoming a Youtube star. When a tragedy strikes within the family, the sisters are forced to come together as one and support each other whilst dealing with their blossoming lives. A heartwarming tale by a debut author.








Goodreads | Amazon



God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems by Ishara Deen

I am SO excited for this one! Asiya Haque is craving a 'normal' teenage life, starting by going for a walk against her parent's wishes with Michael, her crush who she is head-over-heels for. What seems like a harmless act quickly turns into something way more serious when they stumble upon a dead body. Michael covers for Asiya, up until he himself goes missing. Despite allegations by the police, Asiya is sure that Michael is innocent but how can she prove it with her strict parents and sheltered life? The start of a mystery series with a Muslim protagonist? What more could you want? 








Love Angharad @