June Reading Wrap-up 2018

Thursday, July 05, 2018
June has been a bit of a busy month for me with birthdays, my dads retirement, a wedding rehearsal and I was a bridesmaid at my friends wedding! However, I still managed to read the books I wanted to this month while we've been having an insane heatwave. I did read quite a few huge books last month with my longest book being 688 pages with the other long books being 512 and 560 pages so I'm more than on track with my book goals for 2018! As well as the 10 physical books I read, I was also able to listen to a couple of audiobooks in June.

*A Sacred Storm by Theodore Brun (688 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
I won't write too much about this book for two reasons, the first is that it's the final book in a duology and the second reason is that I've already published an in-depth review of this book on my blog which you can read for more information. This second and final book follows on from the previous and contains viking warriors, power play between kingdoms, forbidden love, battles, revenge and much more. It would make an amazing TV show and I can't recommend it enough but be prepared for torture, blood, sex scenes and battles as well as a slightly unresolved world (if that makes sense) - I wanted more from this book!

*Genesis by Brendan Reichs (512 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
I can't write too much about this book either as again it's the second in a duology. I read the first book, Nemesis, last year and really liked it so I couldn't wait to read the next book. This book follows on from the events of the first but if the action, peril and mystery of Nemesis was a 5/10, this book ramps it up to a 10/10! To me, the book feels like a dystopian world in the vein of the hunger games so if you liked that series then I think you'll love this duology, especially the second book which was very action filled - the second book was my favourite of the two by far.
                                                       
The book is much longer compared to most YA reads but don't be put off by that as it reads very quickly, the writing style is simplistic (not in a bad way, maybe because it's told through the eyes of teenagers?) and easy to follow. I loved the world and deadly consequences, most of the characters and the action; however the only thing I didn't like was that it felt a little too long in places and I didn't like the 'love' interest Noah. Additionally the second book doesn't have sprayed edges as the first does; all books should have sprayed edges! Despite a couple of negatives, it was a fantastic YA read that I'd definitely recommend of fans of action, mystery and dystopian/sci-fi reads.

*Sentinels of the Sea: A Miscellany of Lighthouses Past by R. G. Grant (160 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
Onto a book that I included within my Father's Day gift guide; I was very kindly sent this gorgeous hardback book from the super lovely people over at Thames and Hudson. It's loosely part of a series of similar books and I love it - I received one of the other books last year which was all about dentistry and I bought a couple myself about the history of surgery and also about the history of 'madness'.

I adore the style of these books, they're so beautifully designed, published and well put together so naturally they'd make lovely gifts! This read focused on the history of lighthouses which I knew very little about and I was surprised to find out that Robert Louis Stevenson's family was closely related to the history of lighthouses. Additionally, I didn't know that some poorer coastal communities in England didn't welcome the construction of lighthouses as it lessened the chance of shipwrecks from which they profited (this point is related to a book I finished in July). It's an unusual and quirky non-fiction book but it's a quick, easy and informative read that I cannot recommend enough! Thanks again Thames and Hudson, your books are so beautiful!

*City of Lies by Sam Hawke (560 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
The vast majority of the books within this wrap-up were sent to me by lovely publishers so thank you! One of the most exciting books I was sent last month includes City of Lies which is categorised as an epic fantasy read and is on the longer side but the setting is fantastic, I loved the vivid fantasy world and the mysteries, secrets and poisonings along the way...

We follow Tain, Jovan and his sister, Kalina as their uncle and the powerful counsellor are both poisoned by an unknown substance. Jovan was an apprentice to his uncle as a poison taster to prevent the death of the consellor so now the family's reputation and power in the country is in jeopardy. What follows is an investigation into the poisoning, a siege, warfare and an exploration of forgotten gods.

The whole premise of a war involving poisoners was very intriguing to me and I love the little sections about various plants/poisons between chapters. I loved the world as it was very rich, vivd and had a historical fiction feel to it (with magic though...). I really enjoyed the storyline, the main characters, the rich writing style and the mysteries. I did have a couple of minor issues such as the actions of some of the characters (eg: having a conversation about the past with a love interest in the middle of an evacuation) came across to me as a little ridiculous; I personally wasn't a fan of the love interest, I think it could have jus focused on family and the importance of friendship. Additionally I wasn't as interested or invested in the ending of the book, if that makes sense, as it just seemed a little out of left field (I can't fully explain how I feel about the ending of this read).

Overall, I really enjoyed this read from the characters and setting to the politics, magic and poisons (the poison aspect was my favourite part of the book as it's so unique). It is definitely a hefty book but it read relatively quickly for the size and I adore the cover. I would definitely recommend it for fantasy fans, don't be put off by the page number!
*The Trilogy Of Two by Juman Malouf (416 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
Thanks so much to the lovely people over at Pushkin Press for sending me this beautiful childrens book to read and review - Pushkin books are always so gorgeously and meticulously designed! We follow two identical twins who are musical prodigies with unusual powers that joined the circus after being abandoned on the doorstep of the circus's tattooed lady.

What follows is an adventure involving magical kingdoms, mysteries, friendship, special talents and more as well as lovely illustrations throughout the entire book (which I loved!). I also adored the tone and atmosphere of the book which gave me feels similar to The Night Circus, A Series of Unfortunate Events and Heap House, all of which I loved reading so if you liked any of those three, then I think you'll love this read.

The authors imagination is fantastic, the story/characters are magical and whimsical; the world is filled with unusual creatures, magical abilities, villains and love between friends, guardians and sisters. I loved the process of reading the story as secrets are uncovered and as we explore so many wonderful worlds with more and more mystical characters. As I was reading this book it definitely gave me the same feeling I had when I read Heap House and it has a similar feeling as A Series of Unfortunate Events so I think would would make an amazing film if directed by Tim Burton!

*The King's Spy by Andrew Swanston (464 pages) ★★★
I was lucky enough to be sent all three novels in Andrew's Thomas Hill novels by the author himself (thanks again). I adore historical fiction so I couldn't wait to read this trilogy, starting with The King's Spy which is set during the time of the King Charles I and we all know how his story ends (with a rather gruesome weightloss from the neck up...).

In the novel we follow Thomas Hill, a bookseller, who is summoned by the king on the recommendation of his ageing college professor and friend, to decode parliamentary messages in his old haunt of Oxford. The story unfolds slowly to reveal treachery, secrets, ciphers, codes and a couple of rather gruesome murders! I loved the writing style, it was quick and easy but descriptive and vivd. I also loved the setting, the characters of Thomas Hill, Silas and Simon and the mysteries along the way. I did have a couple of issues as I thought it was a little too long and while I loved the code breaking and ciphers, I thought the explanations were slightly too detailed.

This is the third book I've read by Andrew Swanston, I've read his short story collection (Beautiful Star) and Incendium, both of which I've reviewed on my blog already and I think that out of the three, Incendium was definitely my favourite! If you like historical fiction then I cannot recommend Swanston's books enough. I'll be carrying on with this trilogy in July!

*The King's Witch by Tracy Borman (448 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
I am a huge fan of historical fiction and I also find anything related to witches very interesting so naturally I had to request this book from Hodder & Stoughton. In this historical fiction read (written by a historian I recognised from a few documentaries I've watched) we follow Frances Gorge and her family as Queen Elizabeth I dies and her rein is passed to King James VI of Scotland, who became King James I of England.

I didn't study this time period in school but I have watched a fair few documentaries about it particularly because of the witch hunts of this time and the book Daemonologie written by King James (basically a manual on how to find witches). In this novel Frances is in danger as she is a healer and can recognise the medicinal uses of plants which means that they're under suspicion of witchcraft but the kings witch hunt is derailed by a more volatile and radical plot that threatens parliament and the royal family.

The author Alison Weir, whose latest read I finished in May, described this book as 'dark intrigues, a poignant love story...a shattering and shocking climax', I would definitely agree with the dark themes and tone of the book (which I loved) and the sweet romance but I didn't find the revelation or ending very shocking as it's an event in English history (that I'm not going to mention or spoil) that most are familiar with so we already knew the ending before it happened. I hoped that it wouldn't follow the course of history as it did make for a predictable latter half of the book - that's my only negative about historical fiction in general as most seem to follow history which makes for a less shocking and predictable course/ending. However, I adored the setting, I liked the general story and the sweet romance as well as the historical figures and events mentioned. For me, it was a quick, easy and entertaining read that I would recommend to historical fiction fans. Also look at that gorgeous cover!
*The Sacco Gang by Andrea Camilleri (128 pages) ★★★
Thanks to Europa Editions for this early copy! In this short read we follow the history of the Sacco family from humble beginnings to outlaws with death, revenge and criminal trials along the way. I loved the very short chapters, quick and easy writing style and the setting. It's based on a completely true story which is baffling to me as to how any society could be controlled as Sicily and other areas of Italy were under various mafia gangs. I personally don't know much about the mafia, beyond what I know from popular culture so I found this book to be an interesting, shocking and very quick read. I would definitely recommend it!

Blackwing by Ed Mcdonald (384 pages) ★★★★
I have had this book on my TBR for months so when I received the second book in the series, I decided it was time to read the first in the Raven's Mark series and I was so excited to start it as I knew I'd love this read! This month's reading has been amazing with so many of the books being very very close to four star reads (most books get a three star from me which isn't bad by any means, a three star book in my mind is a really good read that is worth reading with just a couple of flaws).

This first book is categorised within the grimdark genre which is a subcategory within the fantasy genre and it's one of my favourites! I adore the cover of this book and the second in the series which I was kindly sent by the lovely people at Gollancz. You'll have to bear with me for this description of the plot as it isn't easy to explain and it's very bizarre but the book itself is easy to follow, throughly entertaining and compelling, as was the second.

In Blackwing by Ed McDonald we are introduced to the rugged, foul mouthed but kind hearted (deep down) killer, soldier and bounty hunter, Ryhalt Galharrow who is one of the most unique and vivid characters I've met. Ryhalt Galharrow is a Blackwing captain in command of a ragtag group of killers and soldiers who kill whoever they're ordered to by his master, Crowfoot who is one of the Nameless, powerful sorcerers who held back the Deep Kings long ago. In that conflict an engine was created to protect the cities along the eastern empire from the Deep Kings and a disturbing, harrowing place called Misery was also created in the process.

The premise instantly intrigued me even though it sounded a little complicated initially (it isn't, don't worry) I thought I'd love this book....and I did. I liked the sarcastic writing, dark humour and the relationship between the main characters including Ryhalt and Nenn. I've read fantasy before but nothing as bizarre, unusual and sometimes fairly gruesome as this and enjoyed it from the first to the last page. I did like the romance that reignites in this book but thankfully it doesn't fully take over the story. There are so many unique aspects to this book including ravens ripping themselves from flesh, disturbing nightmarish creatures and magic! If you're a fan of dark fantasy then check out this award winning read!

*Ravencry by Ed McDonald (432 pages) ★★★ (3.75)
Following on from the first book, Blackwing, I had to continue with the second book, Ravencry. We follow on from the main events of the first book but four years later and if the first book was disturbing and gruesome, it's nothing compared to the second! I can't say too much about the plot of this second book as I don't want to spoil the first but I will say that it is filled with the same sassy Ryhalt and Nenn, it's just as action packed and contains so many bizarre, Frankensteinesque creatures that you'll probably have nightmares about. You can check out my full blog tour review post for more information.

*Charmed Life by Dianna Wynne Jones via BookBeat ★★★
I listened to Howls Moving Castle a few months ago so I wanted to listen to another book by the author as she has such a wonderful, whimsical imagination and this one was no different. It's a short childrens/YA audiobook with witches and magic. The style and tone of the audiobook reminded me of Howls Moving Castle so if you liked that audiobook then you'll probably like this one despite the simpler storyline. It's the first in the Chrestomanci novels so I might carry on with the others on BookBeat as I did enjoy this audiobook.

*The Ashes Of London by Andrew Taylor via BookBeat ★★★
I've read quite a lot of historical fiction over the past three or so months so why not carry on with an audiobook I've been wanting to listen to for a while, The Ashes of London which is set during the great fire of London in 1666. I listened to the audiobook on BookBeat and the narrator was great, it was an easy to follow audiobook (which isn't always the case) and it was entertaining.

We follow James Marwood, who is the son of a traitor as he is investigating the deaths of a couple of murdered individuals throughout London while the fire rages and during a chance encounter outside the burning silhouette of St Pauls, he stumbles into our second main character, Catherine Lovett who is an heiress and daughter of a royalist traitor. We follow both of their lives during the background the devasting fire as a cat and mouse game unfolds and for the main characters to meet again with murder, secrets, rape and evasion along the way.

The synopsis of the book on Amazon made it seem more like a murder mystery but it was mainly focused on the two main characters, if they would meet again and if Catherine would be found. I did like this historical fiction audiobook, the setting/time period and the mysteries along the way so I definitely want to carry onto the second book. I listened to the Gothic Fireside audiobook in May and loved it too so if you like historical fiction with a gothic tone then check out Andrew Taylor's books.

Are we friends on GoodReads? Have you read any of these books?

20 comments

  1. I adore fantasy novels ! The idea of city of lies really appeals to me ! Xx

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  2. I love a good fantasy novel but no I haven’t been reading much haha x
    Joyce  

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  3. The King's Witch appeals to me most. I'll keep an eye out for it.

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  4. I’ve only managed to finish one book in June and I think that’s because I found it so boring, I just didn’t want to read it. I did persevere and read it to the end though x

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  5. I haven't ready any of these books, but Blackwing sounds like a fab book!


    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  6. These sound like great books. I'm trying my best to read as many as possible over the summer.

    Faye Jessica | fayejessica.co.uk

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  7. You were a busy reader in June! I'm gonna add some of these to my list :)

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  8. You always have the best book recommendations! x

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  9. I think I actually like the sound of The Ashes of London x

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  10. I so love how much you read! It's so lovely to see :) I took a book on holiday to read and my mum stole it and got it wet, GREAT! lol :)

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  11. Wow, how many books did you read this month?! You always do so well with the amount you read xo

    Char | www.charslittleblog.co.uk

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  12. I'm so jealous that you manage to read so many books in one month! xx

    Brooke | www.brookeclarke.com

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  13. Wow onmany books this month. Fabulous x

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  14. Fantasy are my favourite. They sound like really great reads.

    http://littlemissmelanie.com

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  15. Coty of lies sounds like something I would read x

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  16. wow so many great books you must be such a fast reader!

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  17. Oh my gosh I'm in awe of how many books you manage to get through!! I really do need to take more time out to read <3
    Chantelle x
    The Girl In The Tartan Scarf

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  18. how you managed to read of all off those is amazing!

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Feel free to leave me a comment, I read all of them!

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