reviews

[Review] The Furies – Katie Lowe

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Image result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagram– 4/5 (Great!)

Release Date: 2 May 2019 (UK), 8 October 2019 (USA)
Publisher: HarperCollins (UK), St. Martin’s Press (USA)
Genre: Adult fiction, thriller

How I read it: I received a free ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

After an accident involving her Dad and sister, Violet joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls school in a quiet coastal town, which has an unpleasant history as the site of famous 17th century witch trials. Violet quickly finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, alongside Robin, Grace, and Alex – led by their charismatic art teacher, Annabel.

While Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals – warning the girls off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology – the girls start to believe that magic is real, and that they can harness it. But when the body of a former member of the society – Robin’s best friend, with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance – is found dead on campus nine months after she disappeared, Violet begins to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.

The opening image of THE FURIES is a striking and poignant one: the body of a teenage girl sits on a swing, dressed in white. How did she get there? How did she die? This is the story of how she ended up in that state…

THE FURIES is a novel tailor-made for those who devour dark, witchy thrillers like THE GRACES, but I’d say it’s adult rather than YA (it’s being published as adult). It has definite crossover appeal, though, and I can see any fans of witchcraft-infused mysteries snapping this up quickly.

The novel is narrated through the voice of Violet, a teenage girl who has lost her father and sister in a terrible accident. She joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private school in coastal town which has its own dark history involving witchcraft and murder. Violet is soon absorbed into a small society formed of three other girls and her art teacher, Annabel – and together they study the classics and arts and literature. What starts as an exclusive and advanced study group soon becomes something more twisted – despite Annabel’s warnings, the four girls become convinced that magic exists, and that they can control it. These beliefs have deadly results.

Violet and Robin are fairly intriguing characters, though they felt very familiar – Violet, as the new girl, has a past swamped in sadness, and Robin is exciting and dangerous to her. I felt Grace and Alex – the other two members of the group – were a bit flat in comparison and so it didn’t really feel like they were a “four”. It was more like the book was about Violet and Robin, while Grace and Alex were just sort of there to fill out the rest of the group. I think this book was definitely an example of concept over characters – the witchy, thrilling atmosphere was what kept me going, not any attachment to the figures of the story.

I really enjoyed watching the girls sink further and further into their beliefs that they had power, and must use that power to commit vengeance on the men who deserved punishment. The suspense grows with every chapter, and when the inevitable climax is reached, I found myself both satisfied and in quiet horror. The references to images of witchcraft and female power and toxicity were carefully woven through the narrative, expertly invoking images of witches taking their revenge for centuries of female oppression.

The language of THE FURIES is lyrical and flowery, and it’s for this reason I would place this book into the adult fiction category. It has a very “literary” quality to it – the prose wanders at times in a stream of consciousness and the plot can be quite slow-moving on occasion. I feel that had it been YA, it would have been a little more pacy, and a bit shorter. However, if you loved books like THE GRACES and GIRLS ON FIRE, and appreciate some delicate language, then you should pick this one up.

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reviews

[Review] Fated – Teri Terry

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Image result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagram– 4/5 (Great!)

Release Date: 7 March 2019 (UK)
Publisher: Orchard Books (UK)
Genre: Young adult, dystopian

How I read it: I received a free ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sam’s cosy life as daughter of the Deputy Prime Minister is about to end. These are turbulent times. Borders have closed and protests are turning violent. The government blames the country’s youth, and is cracking down hard. Mobile phones are blocked, gatherings are banned and dissent is brutally crushed.

Sam is torn between family loyalty and doing what is right. when she meets Ava and Lucas her mind is made up.

One girl, one choice. She can make a difference: she must. Even if her life – and her heart – are on the line … 

This review contains spoilers for the SLATED trilogy – if you haven’t read that series, I’d suggest coming back to this review once you have.

FATED is the prequel to the SLATED trilogy, a dystopian UKYA series that I tore through back in 2013. Set in a near-future Britain where the borders are closed and the country is in chaos, FATED gives us a bit of background on how Kyra from SLATED’s world comes about – through the eyes of her mother Sam, and the scientist and developer of the Slating technique, Ava.

FATED takes place before the Slating technology used to rehabilitate young criminals is invented, so it’s a bit less sci-fi than the original series. It’s more politics-driven, and the narrative is split between Sam (the teenage daughter of the deputy prime minister) and Ava, her tutor, whose family has been torn apart by the xenophobic border laws.

When I read SLATED back in 2013, it was quite fanciful to think that the UK would leave the EU (which is one of the catalysts for the way Kyra’s Britain has developed) but now it’s February 2019 and the country is barrelling towards Brexit and this series becomes more timely and important than ever before.

Teri Terry manages to recapture a lot of what made SLATED so engaging and enticing – it’s a twisty, pacy thriller underneath the dystopian packaging, with realistic and flawed protagonists and a lot of emotional depth. The plausibility of it all makes it even more terrifying – in removing the sci-fi aspect of SLATED, everything becomes even more horrifyingly possible. Teenagers have their phones monitored, hoax riots and protests are staged, violent incidents become ever more widespread and the political sphere is rife with conspiracy, lies and fearmongering. We get to see this society from two different angles – through the eyes of Sam, who lives a privileged and sheltered life as the daughter of the deputy prime minister (who may be hiding his own agenda and secrets) and through Ava, Sam’s decidedly less privileged tutor whose family has felt the worst effects of the border laws put in place to “protect” the British public. Though their experiences are wildly different, the two are drawn to each other and into danger as Sam slowly begins to uncover the truth about her father’s plans and the reality behind the riots and the violence shaking the UK.

I already knew how Sam and Ava’s story ends – you find out in the SLATED trilogy, so it’s an inevitable case of prequelitis – but it still broke my heart. I can’t remember the exact specifics of the original books (it’s been a while since I read them) but I’m pretty sure that Sam and Ava’s relationship tips into the romantic rather than just platonic, although it’s not very explicit on the page (the love stuff is…kind of interrupted by the chaos happening around them). I wasn’t too sure what to think about this, as I am always eager to see more f/f representation on the page – for what it’s worth, I think Sam and Ava are excellently written and deeply complex characters but I maybe would have liked one specifically explicit moment to confirm their romantic feelings. I do understand that Terry was boxed in by the already existing canon of the SLATED series (Ava explains to Kyra what her relationship was like with her mother) so couldn’t really change much, but I can dream.

If you loved the SLATED series, you won’t be disappointed with FATED – it’s a great bonus story that expands the world and manages to divulge some important messages about British society today. A chillingly plausible dystopian world.

For fans of: CELL 7 by Kerry Drewery, BLAME by Simon Mayo, NOUGHTS & CROSSES by Malorie Blackman

reviews

[Review] Viper – Bex Hogan

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Image result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagram– 5/5 (Loved it!)

Release Date: 18 April 2019 (UK)
Publisher: Orion (UK)
Genre: Young adult, fantasy

How I read it: I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles.

But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake.

He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

I am SO excited about UKYA fantasy this year – I feel like YA fantasy is really overlooked in British publishing, which is bizarre when you think about how a) this is the country that birthed Harry Potter and b) American YA fantasy authors such as Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi etc. are hugely popular here to the point that they have events with hundreds of attendees. But I’m really hoping that’s beginning to change – I’m desperate to see more YA fantasy from UK authors, especially by BAME and queer authors.

So, naturally, I got very excited at the news that Orion were publishing a new UKYA fantasy trilogy from debut author Bex Hogan, and requested a proof as soon as I could. I mean, PIRATES! And look at that gorgeous cover! I’m so glad to say that it lived up to my expectations and I tore through it in a matter of hours.

VIPER is the first book in the ISLES OF STORM AND SORROW trilogy, and follows Marianne, a young woman who is the daughter of the Viper – a man who serves the king by defending the Twelve Isles, although “defending” isn’t exactly the right word when he seems to spend more of his time attacking and plundering the innocents…

Naturally, Marianne isn’t a fan of her father’s methods or motivations, and she’s regularly humiliated by him in front of the ship’s crew for daring to show mercy or empathy towards his victims. She’s supposed to be taking over from him one day, but she’s not convinced it’s the right path for her. When her doubts come to a head, it’s time for her to escape the life she’s known on her father’s ship and take her freedom into her own hands.

VIPER is a fast-paced, bloody story which is wraught with danger and action, but there’s also time for a well-developed friendship between Marianne and Grace – another member of the ship’s crew. I was pleased to see this as I sometimes find that platonic female relationships in fantasy YA can feel tacked on in comparison to the romance, but the friendship is strong with plenty of ups and downs and complications.

THE ROMANCE. It was a little predictable but managed to swerve neatly past a love triangle (which I don’t really mind, though I appreciate it when authors don’t use the simple “girl caught between two guys” because it’s so overdone at this point), and was a sweet slow-burn with a lovely pay-off. It didn’t overtake the main plot, which I appreciated – it actually helped feed into Marianne’s own reservations about how to handle the crew of the Maiden.

I quickly became attached to Marianne. She’s the victim of a ton of emotional and physical abuse by her father and some of the crew and yet remains empathetic and caring – my heart broke for her several times, as she becomes quickly attached to people who show her kindness, only to see them cruelly snatched from her. She’s both scared and intrigued by the power within her – she wants to learn healing, and it seems that she may possess magic, but every time she gets close to learning more, she’s halted in her tracks. It’s a really sad story of a girl who just wants freedom from her abusive situation and wants to understand herself and find peace, but she never can – not with her father and his crew chasing her across the seas until she can be punished for daring to leave.

I really loved the world of VIPER – most of the action takes place at sea, but we also get to visit several of the islands of the kingdom. Marianne’s first adventure alone takes her to an isle covered in flowers – the soft beauty of it contrasts horrifically with the violence that takes place later. All of the isles have their own cultures and trades and I’m excited to see more of them in the sequels. The Eastern and Western isles have been divided for years, with Mages rumoured to be living in the West, and water-raptors dwelling in the ocean that divides them. The water-raptors are fantastic sea monsters – I really loved the scenes where we got to see them in action!

VIPER is an immensely fun, swashbuckling story with a crew of diverse characters (there’s a sweet and sad queer romance between two characters that I loved) and plenty of action and bloody danger. The details of the world really make it stand out – from the crew of the Maiden being known as fierce warriors called Snakes, and the distinct features of the Twelve Isles, and even touches like the horrific binding ceremony Marianne goes through when she’s forcibly betrothed in the early chapters (it involves white-hot chains and burning flesh). It’s a vivid, pacy read that will appeal to anyone who enjoys action-packed YA fantasy stories with pirates, kickass girls, sea monsters, slow-burn romances and lush worlds. I’m so excited to read the rest of the series, and I can’t wait for this to hit shelves and show everyone that UKYA fantasy kicks ass too.

For fans of: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo, SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch, THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas

reviews

[Review] All The Lonely People – David Owen

Image result for all the Lonely People david owen

Image result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagram– 4/5 (Great!)

Release Date: 10 January 2019 (UK)
Publisher: Atom Books (UK)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, science fiction

How I read it: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Get it at Amazon UK: All The Lonely People

Everyone tells Kat that her online personality – confident, funny, opinionated – isn’t her true self. Kat knows otherwise. The internet is her only way to cope with a bad day, chat with friends who get all her references, make someone laugh. But when she becomes the target of an alt-right trolling campaign, she feels she has no option but to Escape, Delete, Disappear.

With her social media shut down, her website erased, her entire online identity void, Kat feels she has cut away her very core: without her virtual self, who is she?

She brought it on herself. Or so Wesley keeps telling himself as he dismantles Kat’s world. It’s different, seeing one of his victims in real life and not inside a computer screen – but he’s in too far to back out now.

As soon as Kat disappears from the online world, her physical body begins to fade and while everybody else forgets that she exists, Wesley realises he is the only one left who remembers her. Overcome by remorse for what he has done, Wesley resolves to stop her disappearing completely. It might just be the only way to save himself.

My stop on the ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE blog tour! As part of this tour, all bloggers were asked:

How has the internet made your life better and how has it made it worse?

Better? The friends I’ve made. I wouldn’t have met so many lovely people without Twitter or Tumblr. I’ve managed to talk to people on the other side of the world and form relationships without leaving my room. Many of those people I’ve gone on to meet in real life, so it’s not like those connections only exist online.

Worse? I think it’s made me even more anxious. I don’t think human beings are designed to be able to deal with the amount of information the internet bombards us with every day, and the past two years have been especially bad, what with the political drama of Trump and Brexit. It’s definitely taken a toll on my mental health.

Onto the review!

ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE is David Owen’s third novel, and I was glad to see that just like his previous two books, this is another contemporary-based story with a touch of weirdness. In my opinion, it’s also his most timely and important novel to date, and I think it does a great job of discussing some pressing and relevant issues.

Kat is the target of an alt-right online campaign. She’s forced to delete her website after being subjected to attacks by Wesley and his friends. And then something strange starts to happen – she begins to disappear. Literally disappear.

It’s not the first time this has happened – other people have “faded” in the same way that Kat has, and have been forgotten by their loved ones. Kat is terrified of fading away entirely, and finds a group – The Lonely People – who are fading too. Meanwhile, Wesley – one of her tormentors – wonders if he’s gone too far this time, and soon finds clues about what’s happening to Kat.

David Owen does something with this book that I think is incredibly difficult for many authors to do correctly – he humanises Wesley, but he never justifies his actions, or redeems him. Wesley takes steps to undo what he’s done to Kat – but he’s never praised for this. His saving Kat isn’t making him a hero – it’s just what he should be doing. He should never have attacked her online in the first place. He can’t be a hero, because he’s the one who caused her pain and problems in the beginning. He’s got a family, he’s three-dimensional, and he has friends and people he loves – but those things don’t make him the good guy. They make him a person. And the horrible thing we have to face as a society is just that: alt-right trolls are people. They’re not two-dimensional cartoon villains solely defined by their racism and misogyny. If they were, they’d be a lot easier to stamp out and defeat. They’re real people with families and friends and social lives and hobbies and passions, and there’s a really wide range of reasons why they end up joining these groups. This book does a great job of humanising an alt-right troll, of making him feel real and letting us see what motivates him, but never justifies what he is doing, makes excuses for it, or redeems him. Wesley’s actions are condemned, and no passes are given. Kat is the one who needs a happy ending, not him.

There’s a sweet, slightly romantic thread in this book between Kat and another victim of the “Fade” – I won’t go into it too much for spoilers’ sake, but I’ve seen some misleading reviews saying that she gets saved by a boy. She doesn’t. NOTHING happens romantically between Kat and Wesley (would YOU fall for the boy who forced you to delete your website after trolling you with photoshopped porn and hateful messages?). The romance is fairly minor in this book (I actually thought it was the platonic nature of the relationship that was given more attention and was more important to the plot – Kat doesn’t really have any friends to begin with) so I definitely didn’t think it was a case of romance saving the day. It’s more about connections in general, like friendships and family, and romance comes under that umbrella too – but it’s not any more important than any other kind of love.

The ending of the book is hopeful – it’s not happy for everyone, but some characters, uh, get what they deserve. The novel is critical of social media without bashing it, and forces us to think more about how we present ourselves online. Are we pretending to be happy when we’re really just lonely? Are we lashing out in anger because we don’t fit in? It reminds us that people’s real life personas don’t always match the faces on social media, and sometimes we don’t know who’s being more honest – the individual standing in front of us, or the profile on our computer screen.

For fans of: RADIO SILENCE by Alice Oseman, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu, HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown

reviews

[Review] The Burning – Laura Bates

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Image result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagram– 4/5 (Great!)

Release Date: 21 February 2019 (UK)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (UK)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, historical, fantasy

How I read it: I received a free ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Get it at Amazon UK:  The Burning

New school.
Tick.
New town.
Tick.
New surname.
Tick.
Social media profiles?
Erased.
 
There’s nothing to trace Anna back to her old life. Nothing to link her to the ‘incident’.
 
At least that’s what she thinks … until the whispers start up again. As time begins to run out on her secrets, Anna finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of Maggie, a local girl accused of witchcraft centuries earlier. A girl whose story has terrifying parallels to Anna’s own…

There’s a lot of hype around THE BURNING, which is the upcoming debut YA novel from the founder of the Everyday Sexism project, Laura Bates. I own a copy of the EVERYDAY SEXISM book, and have read GIRL UP, so was already intrigued by what a YA novel from Laura would be like – and then I heard it was about witches.

Feminist YA with a witchy twist? Sign me up!

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I’m glad that THE BURNING is just as much about the historical persecution of witches as it is a commentary on sexism – there are a lot of YA books being published that handle topics such as rape culture, patriarchal oppression and gender roles, so using historical witchcraft as a lens through which to examine modern attitudes in sexism is a great way to narrow the focus of the novel and also let it stand out a little more.

Anna, a modern teenager, has just moved from England to Scotland with her mother in the wake of an incident which has meant that she’s changed her name and cut all ties to her old life. While working on a project for school, she discovers the existence of a witch named Maggie who was burned at the stake centuries before, and is taken in completely by her story.

The genre of this book is a bit strange – I’d say it’s first contemporary, though obviously there’s the historical element as Maggie’s life is explored – but there are fantastical elements too. Anna clearly has a connection to Maggie that isn’t just her feeling like she can relate to her – she also begins to discover things about Maggie’s life in seemingly impossible ways.

Anna’s past and secrets are gently divulged throughout the course of the novel, as we learn what drove her and her mother to leave their hometown, and why when history appears to be repeating itself, Anna keeps her mouth shut rather than tell her mother the truth. The fact that the scandal which Anna was involved in wasn’t a shock to me is ultimately the most saddening thing about the book – that it’s something that does happen to young women, and is not exactly uncommon. Anna’s situation is compared to Maggie’s – even though they are technically quite different experiences, there’s a common theme in both: victim blaming of women.

For a book so centered around young women, I was pleased to see well-drawn female friendships – they take precedence over the romantic subplot, which was nice to see. It’s a powerful look at how gossip, rumour and backstabbing can destroy not just social standing, but friendships too.

One of the male bullies has a scene near the beginning which I thought was going to be referenced again later on, but wasn’t – making it seem a bit shoehorned in in retrospect. I would have liked it to have been further explored – it was a hint that he was more complex than your stereotypical bully but it unfortunately didn’t go far enough. This is quite a minor aspect of the book, and the other characters were well drawn, but it bothered me enough to mention here.

I can see this book being a hit – it’s already got great reviews on GoodReads and Laura Bates already has an audience of keen feminist readers. I think this book also has crossover potential (the cover seems to support this, as it looks more like an adult thriller than a YA book). Perfect for every witchy and feminist reader, it’s a frightening look at how even though we’ve advanced enough as a society to create new technologies and mediums, we still have a horrible problem when it comes to believing and supporting women.

For fans of: ASKING FOR IT by Louise O’Neill, THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF OKAY by Laura Steven, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jennifer Mathieu

reviews

[Review] This Dreaming Isle – ed. by Dan Coxon

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Image result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagramImage result for white pentagram– 4/5 (Great!)

Release Date: 19 November 2018 (UK)
Publisher: Unsung Stories (UK)
Genre: Adult fiction, horror, fantasy

How I read it: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Get it at Amazon UK:  This Dreaming Isle

Something strange is happening on British shores.

Britain has a long history of folk tales, ghost stories and other uncanny fictions, and these literary ley lines are still shimmering beneath the surface of this green and pleasant land. Every few generations this strangeness crawls out from the dark places of the British imagination, seeping into our art and culture. We are living through such a time.

This Dreaming Isle is an anthology of new horror stories and weird fiction with a distinctly British flavour. It collects together fifteen brand new horrifying or unsettling stories that draw upon the landscape and history of the British Isles for their inspiration. Some explore the realms of myth and legend, others are firmly rooted in the present, engaging with the country’s forgotten spaces.

This is the second title I received from Unsung Stories – it’s a collection of short stories inspired by British folklore, history, culture and landscape, with a distinctly weird, horrifying twist running through them.

In this book you’ll find kelpies, ghosts, shadows in paintings, mermaids, madness, and beings with no given name. The stories are grouped by the kind of region they are set in – take your pick from tales taking place by the coast, in the countryside, or in the city. Despite the varied landscapes of each story, each retains a distinctly British flavour.

As with any collection, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll love every story featured, but I found THIS DREAMING ISLE to be consistently dreary and creepy in tone, with the stories well-placed and complimentary of each other. I’ve picked out a few favourites.

‘The Pier at Ardentinny’ by Catriona Ward: This was one of my favourites in the book and is in fact the first story featured. What seems to be merely family drama between a woman and her husband-to-be’s family is a cover for something more otherworldly and horrifying. The last page stayed with me, even after reading through all the other stories.

‘In My Father’s House’ by Andrew Michael Hurley: Another domestic-tinged tale, this time between a father and son. It’s both an examination of their relationship and a visceral, unsettling fable with a fairytale quality.

‘Not All Right’ by James Miller: Many of the stories in this collection have a timeless quality, but this story is frightfully modern: we follow an alt-right troll who makes the mistake of replying to a mysterious Twitter account. It’s harsh and unflinching in its portrayal of online trolling and hate, and would be scary enough without the mystery of the anonymous account. “Are you scared yet?”

‘The Cocktail Party in Kensington Gets Out of Hand’ by Robert Shearman: A man is hired to be a rug at a cocktail party. Yes, you read that right. I’m still not really sure what to make of this one, but the imagery it conjured up was so vivid and bizarre that it’s stuck with me nonetheless. Rich people are weird.

‘Swimming With Horses’ by Angela Readman: A story of women bonding over a secret in a small, cold, coastal town. It’s bleak and perfectly captures the atmosphere of British seasides, and is wrapped up beautifully – it’s a fitting end to a twisted and beautiful yet also crooked and ugly collection.

I ended up skim-reading one or two stories because I found them a bit too confusing – I like vague, surreal fiction, but in these cases it went a bit too far and I couldn’t really get a grip on the story itself. However, I’m yet to read a collection of stories that I loved from start to finish, and this book has introduced me to many writers in SFF and horror that I’ve never heard of before, so I’m glad I read this one. If you’re thinking about dipping your toe into the weirder side of British fiction and love the feeling of a shiver running up your spine (from a cold English drizzle or the chill of a creeping horror) then you should go ahead and add this to your TBR.

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The Taylor Swift Book Tag

Our Lady and Saviour Taylor Swift turns 29 today, so what better way to honour her with a post all about her? Well, sort of. This is the Taylor Swift Book Tag, where I answer some Taylor-inspired questions about my favourite books! I got the idea from Amy at Golden Books Girl, and the original tag is by Books and Cleverness.

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1. Welcome to New York – Name your favorite city or setting for a book, real or fictional.

I don’t have a particular favourite setting, but I do really love stories where there’s magic hidden inside the real world. I also love magical versions of real places. Old cities like London are especially great for this – I love the idea of Victoria Schwab’s Four Londons, and the hidden magic of the London of Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series.

2. Blank Space – Name your favorite book with an unreliable narrator. 

DREAD NATION by Justina Ireland has a mostly reliable narrator, but there’s a fantastic twist that comes towards the end which is based on the reader’s assumptions. Jane never directly lies, but you still won’t see it coming…

3. Style – Name your favorite couple who’s had their ups and downs, but in the end stay together.

While I’m not a fan of the epilogue, I did love Katniss and Peeta from THE HUNGER GAMES.

4. Out of the Woods – Name your favorite book where the main character is tested.

I really loved SCYTHE by Neal Shusterman – both protagonists, Citra and Rowan, must undergo training and tests as they move through their journeys as Scythe apprentices.

5. Bad Blood – Name your favorite pair of enemies or rivals.

Do Alina and the Darkling from the GRISHA series count for this? I loved how complex their relationship was, and I shipped them a bit too…(I hate Mal, don’t ask.)

6. Wildest Dreams – Name your favorite whirlwind romance, that ended too soon.

There’s a little-known YA book called FLAWED by Kate Avelynn about a girl called Sarah who is protected then abused by her brother James (incest warning!!), only to fall for his best friend Sam. Sarah and Sam are so sweet together and then…the ending…

7. I Know Places – Name your favorite character that’s on the run.

Asha from THE LAST NAMSARA.

8. Clean – Share your favorite book about new beginnings.

SLATED by Teri Terry is literally about this – though it’s not very positive! Kyla has had her mind wiped of her past as punishment for participating in a crime, so is forced into a new life.

9. Look What You Made Me Do – Who’s your favorite anti-hero, that owns their reputation?

Princess Lira from TO KILL A KINGDOM – she’s a deadly siren who hunts princes for their hearts, and shows no remorse for it. She’s entirely kickass and cool – although her reputation makes things a bit complicated when she meets Prince Elian.

10. …Ready For It? – Name your favorite character who takes back what’s theirs.

Ama from DAMSEL. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s one of the most cathartic and satisfying books I’ve read.

11. Gorgeous – Name a relationship that began with flirtatious teasing.

Dimple and Rishi from WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI – this was chock-full of some of my favourite romcom tropes, and was a very cute and funny story of a relationship.