Friday, 4 August 2017

My Fave Fantasy Reads (Part 1)




Hi guys! Today I was looking through my Goodreads for new fantasy books (I've started Poison Study by Maria V Snyder, and it's totally put me on a fantasy kick) and I thought, why not share some of the fantasy books I've already read and loved, as a sort of second part to my favourite contemporary books post. I'm aware that some of these potentially don't fit the fantasy genre in the typical sense, and are slightly more horror/paranormal/historical, but this is the best I can do. These are only a few of my favourites too, so there will probably be a part 2. If you'd like to add any of these to your Goodreads TBR, just click on the covers

I'm thinking of doing a sci-fi one of these, since that's one of my favourite genres. What do you guys think? Would you like to see that post?



 
77523Harry Potter's life is miserable. His parents are dead and he's stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first instalment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

Because it's Harry Potter. Of course it's my fave fantasy series of all time.
 



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Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away.



My favourite fantasy series of all time apart from Harry Potter. A captivating world, incredible characters, and a story that keeps you on your toes. Need I say 
more?


 
1042542Sabriel is the daughter of the Mage Abhorsen. Ever since she was a tiny child, she has lived outside the Wall of the Old Kingdom--far away from the uncontrolled power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won't stay dead.

But now, her father is missing and Sabriel is called upon to cross into the world to find him, Leaving the safety of the school she has known as home, Sabriel embarks upon a quest fraught with supernatural dangers, with companions she is unsure of--for nothing is as it seems within the boundary of the Old Kingdom. There, she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life, and comes face to face with her hidden destiny.
  

I was introduced to this series when I was fifteen by my English teacher, who had spotted how much I loved to read and often gave me (often amazing) book recommendations. It's such a classic fantasy series with an interesting magic system and wonderful characters. I also got the If you still haven't picked this one up, take a chance and read it, you won't regret it.




 
9361589The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des RĂªves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way--a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved--the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them--are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern's spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.

I can't believe this is a debut novel! It's such a magical read that is so well written and the circus atmosphere is utterly gripping. It's an epic story.



28449207The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real? 
Welcome to Weep.


I read this one last month and it absolutely blew me away, and became one of my all time favourites. It's beautifully written, with a stunning plot and wonderful characters. If you would like to hear my thoughts on this one, check out my review here.


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The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?


This is a phenomenal fantasy, full of blood, gore and exciting action scenes. Warning: it's not YA though, there are plenty of mature scenes (which I skipped over because they made me uncomfortable). Apart from these, I loved this book! I just received the sequel for review too, which I'm very excited to read.
Note: although I found this book super enjoyable, there certainly are some problematic aspects, as detailed in Anjulie's review here




   
13638125Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognised the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. 
But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?  

I'm not sure it technically counts as fantasy but I'm including this here. Looking for a twisting, turning adult fantasy full of flawed characters and plenty of action. Look no further, Vicious is your book. I really need to read more books by Victoria Schwab because I've heard that her other series are even better. 




 
16034235In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

16096824Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.
 

I completely acknowledge that Sarah J. Maas's books have a lot of problems, and are very lacking in diversity. I think with these issues fixed, they would be some of my favourite books of all time.  Sarah J Maas's storytelling has become masterful and I was particularly impressed with her ACOTAR series. Please include more diverse characters, Sarah!

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy—jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.
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Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

This is one of the more unusual fantasies I've read, especially since it's a historical fantasy. I love the female empowerment themes and the dream-world that Gemma controls. It's easy to get sucked into this story.




10194157Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

I'm so so late to the party with this one. I only read this series last year after reading (and loving) the Six of Crows duology, and I liked it even better. It's definitely a character-led story, and I love Alina as a protagonist. The first book in the series is my favourite, I just love the Grisha world and I hope Leigh writes more books set in it.


 
8591107Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.
I adore this series so so much (well, I wasn't too keen on the last book, but I LOVE the first two). It's deliciously creepy and mind-bending and just unputdownable. Plus, NOAH SHAW. I love Noah Shaw.


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Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


There's a reason why so many people love this series. It's magical, but in a different way from Strange the Dreamer. It has this fairytale, whimsical feel that pulls you in and doesn't let you go. It's just so so beautiful.
 
2118745Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?







Another childhood favourite and possibly the first YA book I ever read. It's a very strange series, and the narrative style takes a while to get used to, but once you do it is captivating. It is a slightly younger YA book, but it covers a lot of dark and difficult topics. I really need to reread it and see what I think on a second reread.

A Quick note: I'm currently reading the Poison Study series and I just know it will be one of the books at the top of the list. Since I haven't finished the series, I wouldn't feel right putting it on the list yet. But I love it so much that I couldn't leave it out. Okay, I'm glad I got that off my chest.




Have you guys read any of these ones? Any you're looking forward to reading? Also, would you like more of these "Favourite" posts? Let me know in the comments <3

Love, 



Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Series Review: Into the Dim

 

 
(Yes, that's my girl Marigold there with Sparks of Light - she loves a good time travel story!)
I was sent both of these books by the lovely Tara at HMH (Thank you Tara!). This in no way affects my review.


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When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travellers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.  




What I liked about this one:
  • The Cover: superficial, I know. I adore the cover of this one! My copy has the original ARC cover, with the girl on the front, which is nice enough, but the real beauty is the final cover, pictured above. I love the colours and the beautiful typography, it fits the story perfectly. I also love the addition of an opal on the cover (if you've read this one, you'll know why this is relevant!).
  • Hope: Hope is such an amazing character. She's strong-willed and stubborn, and most definitely flawed. I loved her character development throughout the story - at the beginning she's very wary of other people, especially other young girls, but through meeting Pheobe, she learns. She's so snarky too, and I loved all of her quips. I also loved the mention of her special skill: an eidetic memory. I've never read about a character with an eidetic memory before, so this was so interesting!
  • Anxiety Rep: Hope has crippling Anxiety, and I loved the way this was handled throughout the story. She pushes through a lot of situations that she finds anxiety provoking, but her anxiety is never belittled or abused as a plot point.
  • Secondary Characters: who could not love all the secondary characters in this book!? Pheobe, Mac, Moira, Doug.... I loved them all, especially Doug and Pheobe, who are just THE CUTEST.
  • The Setting and historical figures: I really enjoyed reading all about historical London. The addition of real historical figures was well handled and you can tell that Janet B. Taylor has done a great deal of research and certainly knows her stuff. You can really feel her passion for digging down into the heart of these characters and reimagining how they might has behaved in certain situations. The descriptions of historical locations, landmarks and cuisines was also very well executed.
  • The Romance: Bran Cameron is THE BEST. Although I do feel like their first meeting was a little insta-lovey, I enjoyed the way the romance progressed. I love the way we had to slowly figure out for ourselves whether or not he was trustworthy.
Although I loved all of these things, I felt like this book was aimed at a little too young an audience for me to fully appreciate it. I also felt that perhaps all the references to the Scottish Highlands would be better appreciated by someone who didn't live there!
However, I did find this to be a fun time travel adventure, and I loved the characters, so four stars!

 




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For the first time in her life, Hope Walton has friends . . . and a (maybe) boyfriend. She’s a Viator, a member of a long line of time-travelling ancestors. When the Viators learn of a plan to steal a dangerous device from the inventor Nikola Tesla, only a race into the past can save the natural timeline from utter destruction. Navigating the glitterati of The Gilded Age in 1895 New York City, Hope and her crew will discover that high society can be as deadly as it is beautiful.


 What I liked about this one:
  •  I LIKED THIS ONE BETTER THAN THE FIRST BOOK. Yes, seriously, I found a sequel that it even better than the first book.

  • New York, New York: As y'all already probably know, I adore New York, so this was my favourite setting so far. I loved the glitz and glamour of the parties, but I also felt like the rampant poverty of this time was also really well portrayed and not glanced over. The parts set in an assylum were difficult to read and some may find them triggering, but I am sure they are accurate to the time, and I felt they were important to read about.

  • More anxiety rep: Janet B. Taylor didn't fall into the annoying trap of "fixing" Hope's anxiety when she has a boyfriend. YES! She is learning coping techniques though, and it's wonderful to read about her working though her anxiety.
  • More character cuteness: the interactions between the secondary characters in this book were AWESOME. I swear, I love these characters more and more the more I read about them. I love the way the Viators welcomed Hope into their family. Also, more Doug in this book? Yes please. He is my favourite.

  • THAT ENDING. I'm dead. There better be a third book. I need a third book.
I really loved this one! I feel like the stakes were really ramped up and I loved a lot of the character interactions. My only complaints were that I felt that Gabriella was a really unnecessary character and that I need more Bran. MORE BRAN ALWAYS PLEASE.



 

 









Have you guys read these ones? If not, I recommend you get on that ASAP. What are some of your fave time travel books? Any recommendations?
Love,