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    Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Fall TBR

    Ya girl is finally doing one of these Top Ten Tuesday posts again. It’s been a long, long time. Surprisingly this year I’ve read far more YA fantasy novels than I usually do, and it seems that my fall tbr pile is following suit. Where are all your psychological thrillers, Jess? Where are they?
    (This is part of a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)


    Secrets In Death La Belle Sauvage Daughter of the Pirate King Avenged

    1. Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb. I am such trash for this series. I have read every single book that J.D. Robb has blessed this earth and will continue to read every new release until there is no more (which better not be any time soon). This installment will follow Lt. Eve Dallas as she attempts to separate rumors from reality when a woman who traffics in other people’s secrets is silenced.
    2. La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. There has been speculation surrouding this book for years and it is finally almost here. No one was sure whether there ever was going to be a book and my level of excitment to finally get my hands on a copy is ridiculous. The Book of Dust will work in three parts (very much like His Dark Materials did), following 11 year old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua. . . Lyra, you guys. LYRA!
    3. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller. I have been meaning to read this book for what feels like forever. A tale of a badass lady pirate sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map, Captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies. All I ask is for there to be plenty of stabbing in this book, they are pirates after all.
    4. Avenged by Amy Tintera. The second installment in the Ruined series by Amy Tintera, I was ridiculously in love with the first book and have been putting off reading this one for a while now. Mainly because I can’t remember a single thing that happened in the first book. These things really need to come with a refresher summary at the start. The books tagline is, ‘A war that will fuel her. A bond that will destroy her,’ ya right I’m gripped.

    The Last Magician Wonder Woman My cousin Rachel Malachi and I

    5. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. Did someone say magic in modern day New York? You did? Yas. The Mageus (magic wielders) live in the shadows, hiding who they are. It’s starting to sound a little like Harry Potter but I’m game. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power — and often their lives.
    6. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. The daughter of immortals and the daughter of death. Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. I am super excited for this book (and this series overall), and I’ve heard lots of good things. I am 10000% here for all things Diana of Themyscira so please do not let me down Bardugo.
    7. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier. I have yet to read a Du Maurier book that I have loved as much as or more than Rebecca (which everyone needs to read if they’re a Jane Eyre fan). Revered as a a tightly plotted, sinuous and undeniably feral piece of work that puts power in the hands of women, I am 2761916% excited to finally find time to read this book.
    8. Malachi and I by J.J. McAvoy. I’m at the stage in life where I will read anything J.J. McAvoy writes. I’m not all too clear on what the hell this book is actually about but quite frankly, I don’t care. It’s a romance which is 99% likely to be amazing and 99.9% likely to destroy my cold, dead heart. So I’ll read it.

    Born Darkly Without Merit

    9. Born, Darkly by Trisha Wolfe. A dark and twisted romantic suspense about a criminal psychologist who falls for a convicted serial killer. I’m sorry, I’m excited. It’s Trisha Wolfe. There is no doubt in my mind that this book will be seriously messed up but it’ll be excellent.
    10. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. Another author on my “would read whetever the hell she writes” list is Colleen Hoover. If you haven’t read any of her books yet then I highly recommend that you do, especially if you like feeling like you’ve just been punched in the heart with a train.

    Leave a comment below
    and let me know what books are on your tbr piles, and your thoughts on any of the above.
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    Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

    Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
    Series: The Conqueror's Saga #1
    Published by Penguin on June 28th 2016
    Genres: Young Adult, Historial
    Pages: 475
    Format: eBook
    Source: Publisher
    Add to Goodreads

    No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

    Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

    But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

    I received this arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    It took me far, far too long to become emotionally invested in this book (the thing is basically a brick), but I am now in a glass case of emotion rooting for my girl, Lada Dracul. I’ll be honest and say that I hated the first half of this book. It was drier than the Sahara Desert, but once it hit the 50% mark, the pace seemed to pick up and things finally got interesting. Thank god.
    And I Darken is a gender-swapping, historical retelling of the Prince of Wallachia, and I’m not a historian in any sense of the word but from what I’ve heard it seems pretty accurate (with its own embellishments for plot purposes of course).
    If anyone walks into this thinking it’s a fantasy. Stop right there! It’s not. It’s politics from beginning to end. With plenty of stabbing, murder and volatile characters (aka my three favourite things in a book). At times, it felt too politically heavy. You spent more time trying to remember who was who and why so and so hated someone else, that you sometimes get lost along the way and don’t have a map to get back home. So to summarise: Everyone wants power. Your enemies are anyone and everyone. Trust no one.
    Barring all of that, Lada Dracul is what really makes this book great. Vicious, headstrong and brilliantly complex, she does whatever the hell she wants and has no qualms about stabbing anyone that gets in her way. Basically, I loved her. The other main characters were pretty great too (you will def be invested in their outcomes by the end) but Lada was my fav. #GirlPower
    All in all, don’t let the slow burn of White’s storytelling turn you away (or the fact that it’s basically 500 pages long). Keep reading! It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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    The Pitfalls of Perfectionism

    You place your foot on the bottom rung of the ladder and make your ascent towards the stars but with one slip, one faltering move, you fall into the darkness of the abyss. Your body lies rotting amongst Despair, Fear, Disgust and Guilt with little hope of escape. You have become nothing.
    This is the pitfall of perfectionism.
    You are told that perfectionism is good, a trait to be desired. It gives you the drive and determination to succeed but what about when it becomes too much. What happens when perfectionism is the all-consuming part of your being? Every little task you undertake must fulfil the purpose you design for it. The heavy pressure that is laden on your shoulders, its weight threatening to cut you off at the knees is a making of your own design. You have set your goals and you must do everything in your power to reach them. It sounds somewhat ruthless; the need to succeed at all costs. How far can you stretch yourself, your health before you get what you desire? At the end of the day you just want to prove yourself, not commit murder.
    The term ‘average’ niggles away at you, spreading a chill through your veins. Average is not acceptable. Average is not a word that will ever be used to define you or at least you hope. You are not average. You cannot be average. You want to be something. You have to be something. You want to excel, to strive, to become a star that shines and glistens and becomes the source of congratulatory discussion.
    The perfectionist is crippled with fear because the ideals of perfectionism are too much. You are too frightened to take the risk and take the next step on the path you’re treading. Your creativity is squandered and shoved away in a derelict box because you cannot stand to face a reality where your creation is less than ideal. You fear the thoughts and criticisms of others.
    This is not a way to live.
    This is a way to die.
    You will always be a perfectionist. Embrace it but don’t let it own you. Own it. You are a pillar of strength, a visionary of your chosen field. Do not let the pitfalls of perfectionism drag you beneath its murky depths. Strive above. You have the ability to do anything you put your mind to; fear be damned.

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    Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

    Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee AhdiehFlame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
    Series: Flame in the Mist #1
    Published by Hodder & Stoughton on May 16th 2017
    Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
    Pages: 393
    Format: eBook
    Source: Publisher
    Add to Goodreads

    The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

    So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

    The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

    I received this arc from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    I have finally read a Renee Ahdieh book (I know!!). I was not prepared for how much I would love this story or Ahdieh’s writing. I really wish I had picked up Ahdieh’s other series, The Wrath & The Dawn, much earlier than I did (as I’ve now since read it). Ahdieh has definitely cemented herself as one of my auto-buy authors. There’s something about the way that she writes that sucks me in.
    Set in Feudal Japan, Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan. After surviving the attack, Mariko disguises herself as a boy to infiltrate the Black Clan and seek her revenge. I imagine this is the point where everyone started screaming “Mulan retelling” and that is as far as the retelling goes in my opinion. This book is not Mulan. There’s no war (at least not in this book). I’d say that this was a book that was inspired by Mulan rather than a retelling of it.
    For the large part, the secondary characters were far more interesting than Mariko herself. There was a lot more mystery and intrigue, more layers that I wanted to see get peeled back. My absolte favourites were Okami and Ranmaru. I honestly don’t care much for anyone else. Half the time I couldn’t even remember most peoples names because they had about 50 nicknames each and I got completely lost in it.
    I still have huge questions marks dangling over the romance in this story. Ahdieh seems to have a preoccupation with writing the enemy turned lover plot line as evidenced in this novel and The Wrath and the Dawn. My issue is that for a large part it wasn’t particularly believable. Her love interest discovers that Mariko is actually a girl and 5 seconds later they’re kissing, and he has to distance himself because he can’t stop himself thinking about her? It felt rushed. It felt abrupt. What ever happened to a good old slow burn?
    This was not a perfect read but I loved it nonetheless. I look forward to book two.

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    This book saved her life

    Her slender fingers glided over the front cover of the battered novel, memorising every detail. The slight ridge of the title, the small rip that had formed at the top of the page, and the colours that had faded over the years from the days it spent sitting on the window sill of her bedroom. It was one book from a series of seven but it felt like a part of her being. She rarely let on about how much these books meant to her, to others it was simply a series of books that she enjoyed to read but to Olivia it was so much more than that. The ruffled, battered pages proved that. The spine hanging to its last threads proved that. This book saved her life.

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