Monday, 11 October 2021

Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

Defy the Night (Defy the Night #1) by Brigid Kemmerer
Release date: September 14, 2021
A fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents' shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King's Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion--it's the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most--but it's still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King's Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it's even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first. 

When I put this book down for anything I immediately got withdrawals. The writing style and story is so gripping that you don't want to put it down.

The concept of this book was very interesting. There is an illness that is plaguing the people of Kandala, and the only thing that can keep the sickness at bay is moonflower petals. These petals are only grown in 2 sectors of the kingdom, in which the leaders of the sectors have full control over the price. The king buys as much as possible to distribute to all the sectors, but it is barely enough. I loved the idea that there is this finite resource that is being fought over and couldn't wait to learn more about what could be done about this issue. There's a lot of politics involved, which I found myself loving from the start! The worldbuilding was a perfect balance between being easy to understand but still very rich. However, I felt the plot twist and ending reveal was predictable.

The romance was very cute. I loved Tessa and Corrick but there was not much build-up, which is normally one of the best parts. Their relationship throughout the book was fun to follow and I could never get enough of them. Even though they were a bit cheesy at times.

I wanted more details on the moonflower petals. This was one of the most interesting aspects and it didn't get enough time in the limelight. Aside from the politics surrounding the moonflower supply issue, I wanted to hear more about the efficacy of the different dosages, and the differences between sectors. But I suspect this will play a bigger part in the second book, even though it could have been explored further within the 400 pages of this one. 

Overall, I did enjoy this a lot. The story made this very hard to put down! I would definitely recommend it to anyone that loves YA fantasy with lots of political intrigue. Especially anyone that liked The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni. This story has so much potential despite the predictable twists and underutilised plot lines, but the main ingredients to be the next hit fantasy series. I am super excited for the sequel because I think it's going to be explosive. There are so many storylines and open ends that I cannot wait to be explored.

Rating

4 Falling Books
Thank you Bloomsbury for sending a proof copy!

Friday, 8 October 2021

TikTok Tour: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Hey there!

This week Margaret Rogerson's new YA fantasy was released into the wild! Many of you may be familiar with this author from her very popular YA standalone Sorcery of Thorns and Enchantment of Ravens. Vespertine is the first book in a YA fantasy series about nuns in training that fight malevolent spirits. Think Supernatural with badass nuns. When our main character's convent is attacked, she awakens an ancient spirit in order to wield its power. However, this spirit also wants to possess her. 


@samfallingbooks

supernatural but make it badass nuns ##VespertineTikTokTour ##simonandschusteruk ##booktok ##foryou ##fantasy

♬ Repeat Until Death - Novo Amor

Tik tok tour for this book! If you want to check out some of the other content that has been posted for the book you can check out the hashtag #VespertineTikTokTour on Tiktok. 

I'm half-way through the book at the moment but I am immensely enjoying it. The main character is giving me Celaena vibes from Throne of Glass and I feel like I'm being surprised around every corner. i cannot wait to see how the rest of the book pans out. Massive thank you to Simon and Schuster for the review copy.

You can find links to check out this book below.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Exploring the Inspiration Behind The Ash House with Angharad Walker - Blog Tour

Happy book birthday to The Ash House by Angharad Walker! Today is it's official UK release.

Welcome to the first stop on the blog tour for The Ash House, a chill-you-to-the-bone children's story that will leave you feeling breathless as well as unsettled. You can find out more about the book below. 

When Eleven-year-old Sol arrives at the Ash House, desperate for a cure for his complex pain syndrome, he finds a community of strange children long abandoned by their mysterious Headmaster.

The children at the Ash House want the new boy to love their home as much as they do. They give him a name like theirs. They show him the dorms and tell him about the wonderful oasis that the Headmaster has created for them. But the new boy already has a name. Doesn't he? At least he did before he walked through those gates...

This was supposed to be a healing refuge for children like him. Something between a school and a summer camp. With kids like him. With pain like his. But no one is allowed to get sick at the Ash House. NO ONE.

And then The Doctor arrives...

Strange things are about to happen at the mysterious Ash House. And the longer Sol spends on the mysterious grounds, the more he begins to forget who he is, the more the other children begin to distrust him, and the worse his pain becomes. But can he hold onto reality long enough to find an escape? And better yet, can he convince the others.

I was lucky enough to read a proof of this book before the release. The story plays on magical realism and brings The Ash House to life in a way that will keep you thinking perhaps you're reading something paranormal. Everything about this book felt so vivid and you are quickly drawn into this world where everything seems to make sense to everyone but the main character and us, the reader. Over the course of the book, we learn more and more about the Ash House and the secrets that lie deep within it. The tension by the end of the book was palpable and I had no idea what to expect. I experienced so many emotions while reading and even having finished it my mind can't seem to fully comprehend the wild ride that is this story. It is absolutely unforgettable and terrifying in the best way. If you are someone that enjoys having their boundaries of reality pushed to the edge, this is the book for you.

I am twenty-two years old, and there were parts of this book where I was so spooked out, I was sure the scenes would play out in my nightmares. However, I have a low tolerance for spooky things, and I know many readers will love how chilling this book is.

(Me while reading)

Anyway, enough from me! The lovely Angharad Walker has put together the inspirations behind The Ash House that gives you such a great insight into the makeup of this story.

Hi Falling Books readers! It’s the first stop of The Ash House blog tour and I’d like to say a
special thanks to Sam for having me on Falling Books to celebrate its publication.

The Ash House is about a boy who is looking for a cure to a mysterious illness he has. He
arrives there hopeful, only to find a house made of ash ad smoke. A group of children like
there, living by the strict rules of Nicenesses set by their Headmaster. Only they haven’t seen
him in three long years…

Sam’s asked me to write about the ideas and inspirations behind the book, so here’s a little
peak into the (chaotic) mind of this writer…

The initial idea
Everyone always wants to know where the first spark of a story comes from. I hate to
disappoint, but I don’t have a particularly satisfactory origin story for this book. I honestly
can’t remember if the Ash House came to me in a daydream or a nightmare. I was still a
student at university. I was studying in California for the year. I loved it there, but I missed
the seasons of the UK, particularly autumn–the grey skies, fine rain, turning leaves. Perhaps
the Ash House came out of that craving. All I know if one day it was there in my head: a
house made of ash and smoke, deep in the countryside, surrounded by gnarled, ancient
woodland. I knew I wanted to write about it.

Thinking up characters
It’s funny because characters can feel like people all their own, even though you created
them. I knew I wanted to write a story about friendship. To guide the reader through the
world of the Ash House I needed a lead character who was an outsider, and another who was
the ultimate insider. That’s Sol and Dom, the two boys at the heart of the story. They both
need what the other has. Sol needs something to believe in. He needs to shed his cynical
shell. Whereas Dom needs to face up to the harsh realities of the Ash House—it’s not the
perfect world he thinks it is.

Perfecting a plot
I worked really hard on the plot. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. I actually
quite like books that meander and give the characters lots of time to have random
conversations. But I appreciate I’m in the minority of that! So to figure out the right plot for
my world and characters, I tried to think about what type of story it is at its heart. That’s
when I realised: it’s a prison break story. Prison break stories all have certain features that
make them gripping to read or watch—a reason they must escape, a ticking clock to give a
sense of urgency, some failed escape attempts with the stakes rising with each failure. When I
slotted my ideas to this structure, that’s when the book really came alive. 

You can find links to purchase The Ash House by Angharad Walker below. Including the signed edition offered by Waterstones!


Sunday, 1 August 2021

Review: This is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman

This is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman

Release Date: July 22, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Best friends Amani and Huda are getting nervous about their GCSEs - and their future beyond school, which they're both wildly unprepared for. Shy, quiet Amani has an outwardly picture-perfect family - a father who is a successful TV presenter, a loving mother, and an adorable younger brother - while confident and impulsive

Huda has grown up with over-affectionate foster parents who are now expecting a baby of their own. Both girls are jealous of each other's seemingly easy life, without realising the darkness or worries that lie underneath. Then Huda witnesses Amani's father hitting her mother, and Amani's biggest secret is suddenly out. As Amani convinces Huda to keep quiet by helping her with her own problems, a prank blog starts up at school, revealing students' secrets one by one. Will this anonymous blogger get hold of Amani's secret too? Will Huda keep quiet?

This Is My Truth hit me in a way that I was not expecting. Rahman's writing style is easy flowing and I quickly became engaged with the characters. They feel very realistic, which makes the issues addressed in this book even more raw and real. The way that it handles domestic abuse, especially the attitudes towards the topic in the Muslim community, opened my eyes further to how complex these situations can be. The book shows the cycle of abuse, of the bad nights with Amani's dad and how he manipulates her mum and the family by the morning with gifts and smiles. It's painful to see Amani's mum so isolated with no one to turn to, not even her family, because of the fear of being blamed for the abuse or even just being told that it is normal. At times this was a very difficult read, but it is so so important that stories like this are told. I feel like I learnt a lot from this book.

Amani and her family are Bengali and I loved reading about the culture woven into this book. I enjoyed the different dynamics in Amani's life including her relationship with her brother, with Huda, and her fears and worries about her dad's pressure on her to follow a certain career path even though her heart is not in it at all. There were also moments with Huda's foster family where Amani witnesses their happy moments and seemingly normal life, and I felt heart cracking all over. The emotions that are packed into this book made me speechless. I was crying every few chapters. 

Amani and Huda's friendship was also at the heart of this book and I loved reading about them and how protective they are over each other. These characters go through their own emotional struggles and they grow so much over the course of the book.

This Is My Truth held my attention from beginning to end. It broke my heart so many times over and put it back together again. If you are looking for a hard hitting read this summer I would recommend you pick this up. It made me smile on one page and put me in pain by the next. I will be thinking about this book for a long time! I also can't wait to pick up Rahman's previous book All the Things We Never Said.

Trigger warnings: racism, domestic abuse, foster care issues

 Rating

5 Falling Books

Thank you to Molly at Hot Key Books for sending a copy for review!

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Book Mail: Any Where the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell


In honour of the release of Any Where the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell, the third and final book in the Simon Snow series, Macmillan sent a very lovely parcel! You can watch my unboxing below.

This book called me ugly ##AnyWayTheWindBlows ##AWTWB ##booktok ##foryou ##simonsnow ##samreading ##unboxing

It feels emotional to say goodbye to such endearing characters that have stolen my heart since book 1. Watching as Simon and Baz work through their relationship and personal struggles to be the best version of themselves for each other breaks my heart even more. I've included some of my favourite SnowBaz quotes in the video below.

I love these two cinnamon rolls ##booktok ##foryou ##samreading ##awtwb ##anywaythewindblows ##snowbaz

If you haven't read this series, I would recommend it to anyone out there that wants a little bit of magic in their life. It features a bunch of cinnamon roll characters (aka sweet and endearing and very adorable). It will make you smile and laugh throughout the whole story. In the first book, the characters are at a Hogwarts-style school for mages, the second features a pretty badass road trip across the US, and the last book ties the story together as the characters figure out their "adult" lives. The writing is so fun, the dialogue consistently witty, and features endless mysteries for the gang to solve. The love story also gives that 'enemies to lovers' feel that is irresistible.

Links to grab a copy of this stunning book are below!

Goodreads 

Amazon UK  

Amazon 

The Book Depository 

Waterstones

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Review: These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows #1) by Lexi Ryan

 These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows #1) by Lexi Ryan

Release Date: July 20, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Brie hates the Fae and refuses to have anything to do with them, even if that means starving on the street. But when her sister is sold to the sadistic king of the Unseelie court to pay a debt, she'll do whatever it takes to get her back—including making a deal with the king himself to steal three magical relics from the Seelie court.

Gaining unfettered access to the Seelie court is easier said than done. Brie's only choice is to pose as a potential bride for Prince Ronan, and she soon finds herself falling for him. Unwilling to let her heart distract her, she accepts help from a band of Unseelie misfits with their own secret agenda. As Brie spends time with their mysterious leader, Finn, she struggles to resist his seductive charm.

Caught between two dangerous courts, Brie must decide who to trust with her loyalty. And with her heart.

These Hollow Vows is a YA fantasy that has been recommended for fans of The Cruel Prince and A Court of Thorns and Roses. If you haven't read either of these books then I would recommend this as an "easy to dive into" YA fantasy with a love triangle consisting of two irresistible love interests, as well as an inevitable betrayal. The fae world is divided into the Seelie and Unseelie courts who have been long at war. We follow Brie as she infiltrates the Seelie court in order to find three relics for the Unseelie King who has her sister. While she is there she must play the part of a human who is there to win the hand of the Prince of the Seelie court, (The Selection by Kiera Cass kind of style) Sebastian, who she just might be falling for. However, she also begins to fall for Finn, the leader of the rebels attempting to overthrow the Unseelie King and could possibly be the answer to getting her sister back.

The writing style is very easy to follow in this book. If you are someone that doesn't get on well with heavy worldbuilding in fantasy books and prefers to get stuck straight into the plot, then this book is perfect for you. At certain points, I did find myself wanting for the author to expand on the world further to make this world feel more fleshed out. We spend a lot of time in the Seelie court but at the same time, I feel like I came away still not knowing that much about it or the rules, customs, etc.

The love triangle in this book was written in a way that was enjoyable and kept the reader guessing about who may be the one to win the main character's heart. It is an especially hard decision when you fall for both of the love interests in the book and can't decide who you're are rooting for! Up until the very end, you are kept guessing who Brie might pick. The betrayal trope also plays a big part in the romance so any fans of big twists such as those in Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard I think you will enjoy what this book has in store!

Brie was not my favourite main protagonist. I found myself frustrated with her inner thoughts and her choices. I also could not believe how much she got away with sneaking around the castle and its grounds. Even when she was with the rebels for a few days under the guise of visiting a seaside town, Sebastian did not even ask her about this "trip" once when she got back. I thought this was a little too easy of a way out for Brie to not have to deal with the possibility of being exposed. Every moment thereafter I was then not worried that she would get caught because everyone was so gullible and never questioned her. I would have like less predictability from this aspect of the plot.

If you enjoy romance as the main driver in your fantasy stories then I think this would be a good pick for you! It doesn't have the heavy worldbuilding that can feel very dense, it jumps straight into the plot, and there is only a sprinkle of political intrigue. Overall, These Hollow Vows is an addictive read that you will not be able to put down. The romance will keep you guessing at every turn and you are waiting on the edge of your seat for all secrets to unravel. I am looking forward to seeing where the author takes this story in the sequel!

Rating

4 Falling Books

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a review copy

Monday, 12 July 2021

Review: The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons

Release Date: June 3, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother and a Messi-in-training. He's also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boy's soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans - he's passing.

So when a discriminatory law forces Spencer's coach to bench him after he discovers the 'F' on Spencer's birth certificate, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even if it means coming out to everyone - including the guy he's falling for.

The Passing Playbook is a young adult sports romance with a trans protagonist. It brings up important conversations around trans rights and how even though things are changing in our society we still have a long way to go. It also highlights the importance of allyship in supporting this change.

The romance between Spencer and Justice was super sweet and I loved how it unfolded throughout the book. It was especially interesting to see how they both navigated Justice's very religious family with their discriminatory and harmful views of the queer community. This makes you root for them even more!

I read this book while watching the Euros 2020 and I loved the football element in this story. Even if football isn't your thing, the writing style and plot is so easy to follow that you find yourself getting into the sports scenes more than you think! The dialogue flowed nicely and was endlessly entertaining. One of my favourite parts about this book was how it challenges laws that discriminate against trans people and how simple things such as gender neutral toilets being available should not be a luxury, it should be a necessity. 

There is great representation in this book featuring non-binary, autistic, bisexual, and gay characters.  Spencer's family are also very supportive of his transition and identity, which was so heart-warming to read about. I read Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve recently which featured the opposite side to this, which is having a family who don't want to accept who you are. So it was really great to read about a different kind of experience. The author definitely takes a positive outlook on being your true authentic self and I think that worked perfectly for what the book was trying to achieve. 

The Passing Playbook was overall an unexpected delight that gave me warm and fuzzy feelings and left me full of hope for these characters and the changes they are striving to make in the world; no matter how small. This is an unmissable YA contemporary this summer with a first love romance, important topics, and delightful characters.

Rating

4.5 Falling Books

Thank you to Penguin and Bookstagrammers.com for providing a review copy

Friday, 9 July 2021

Review: Carry On (Simon Snow #1) by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On (Simon Snow #1) by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.

That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.

Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

This was fun! Major Harry Potter fanfic vibes but the story and characters grew on me by 150 pages in. Especially once I got used to the parallels with HP. This book switches between character POVs, which worked really well for the romance aspect of the story between Simon and Baz. Their enemies-to-lovers romance was so enjoyable and the banter between them never failed to make me smile. I can see why SnowBaz has such a big following because they are adorable and must be protected at all costs.

I also loved the friendship between Simon and Penelope. Their constant support and love for each and the way they are absolutely on the same wavelength made chapters with these 2 a lot of fun.

Simon gives off major HP vibes in terms of his character because he is an orphan, found by the headmaster of the magic school, and takes him under his wing, he doesn't have anywhere to spend holidays, etc. Over the course of the book these parallels became less jarring especially when you start to warm to Simon's character. I liked how bits and pieces started to come together toward the end for the big reveal. However, I wasn't surprised by the plot twist all that much but I still enjoyed how the events at the end unfolded.

The plot of this book was slow at the start, or I couldn't really see where it was going. But in short, there is a murder mystery in which our main characters set out to solve as well as keeping an eye out for the bad guy of the story the Insidious Humdrum who is a widespread threat to the magic world. 

I can't wait to see where the story goes in the sequel Wayword Son and I look forward to seeing the cast of characters again! 

Rating

3.5 Falling Books

Friday, 18 June 2021

Review: Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes #1) by Elizabeth Lim

 Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes #1) by Elizabeth Lim

Release Date: July 8, 2021

Goodreads Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book DepositoryWaterstones

(UK Edition | US Edition)

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Peniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama's betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she's been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

Six Crimson Cranes is a magical story from start to finish. The execution was perfect from the moment we meet Shiori to the very last page. Lim has built a world that feels like a true fairytale and the East Asian mythology that's weaved into this story is nothing short of breathtaking. 

Princess Shiori of Kiata has magic in a kingdom where magic is forbidden. One day she makes the mistake of snooping on her stepmother Raikama, who has many secrets of her own, including the fact that she has magic of her own. Raikama curses and banishes Shiori as well as turning her brothers into cranes. Shiori embarks on a quest to undo the curse, get back to her kingdom, and get to the bottom of Raikama's motives. The hurdles that Shiori faces along the way makes this story absolutely unputdownable. 

Some YA fantasy books suffer from lag in the middle of the story with not much happening until the very end, however, you do not have to dread that here! It was packed with action and twists all the way through. You can expect dragons and an epic quest! It also has some of my favourite tropes including an arranged marriage. There is also a ridiculously sweet romance that had no business stealing my heart so unexpectedly! The love interest is incorporated into the story in such a flawless way that it felt organic and I loved watching the romance blossom. I wish all romance storylines could be executed this well.

One of my favourite characters from the book was Shiori's enchanted paper bird Kiki, who is her cheerleader throughout. This paper bird was so funny and a scene-stealer at times. The family dynamics between Shiori and her brothers was also everything that I could want! I loved getting to know each brother and following how the siblings become closer over the course of the story.

Another aspect of the book I loved was how amazingly it describes food. This is a recurring theme throughout the book and it made me so hungry. It really added to the immersive feel of the book and I was lost in the taste of Asian food through the pages. 

Six Crimson Cranes is now one of my favorite YA fantasies of all time. If you want a YA fantasy story that is a fairytale retelling but feels so unique and unlike anything you've ever read before then you NEED this book. I also have no doubt that the sequel will be another wild adventure because of where this book leaves off. I will also not shut up about this book until all my bookish friends have read it!

Rating

5 Falling Books

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing a digital Netgalley ARC

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Review: Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve

 Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve

Release Date: June 10, 2021

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Between Perfect and Real is a poignant story following a young trans boy as he navigates his identity, friendships, family, and future. 

The book has great representation in terms of BIPOC characters and explores the theme of "chosen families" through the trans support group in which Dean attends. I loved that this gave Dean an outlet where he could truly let go and be himself. The contrast in Dean's character between when he is in this environment compared to when he is at his rehearsals is clear. This highlighted the importance of having people around you and a support system that allows you to be the truest version of yourself. Dean's emotional state completely changes when he's around people that understand and accept him. I loved his friendship with Ronnie and how supportive they are of each other. However, Dean's relationship with his parents was more difficult to read about especially as his mum continues to be in denial about Dean's identity and being trans. The scenes with Dean's parents felt so raw and I wanted to give him a hug.

Reading about Dean's personal experience coming out as trans and the emotional journey that he goes on throughout the book felt so eye-opening. As a cisgender person, this story was perfect for helping me understand the trans experience. The story felt real and realistic and dealt with different aspects of being trans. For example, Dean grapples with which pronouns to use, whether he wants to go on to hormone therapy, and deciding how and when he wants to come out to the people in his life. Ultimately, the story highlights that there is no clear-cut way to deciding how your "coming-out" journey may look, but it's important to make decisions that feel right and fit you. This book may be especially valuable for younger readers to explore LGBTQ+ voices.

Between Perfect and Real is a fresh queer read. At times raw and very real, but remaining an enjoyable read throughout. Please check trigger warnings for this book before reading including themes of transphobia, transphobic violence, bullying, harassment, misgendering, and body dysmorphia amongst others.

Rating

3 Falling Books

Thank you to Abrams & Chronicle for providing a copy for review!

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Review: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen
Release Date:
August 13, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil - and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara's homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.

But as she infiltrates her new home - a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas - and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

The Bridge Kingdom is a BookTok favourite and one that I went into with high expectations. After finishing this book I can officially say I really enjoyed this! It is a solid fantasy with a great plot and the writing style makes this story an easy one to slip into. The world and the politics in this story are really interesting, the (very) slow-burn romance had me at hello, and the last 20% of the book is such a rollercoaster of emotions you'll be forced to pick up the sequel straight away.

This book started off so awesome. Our main character Lara is described as a badass and ruthless assassin and from there I'm hooked. The opening scene? Immense. My interest levels peaked to 5000. However, slowly as the chapters unfold where Lara has been described as this cutthroat, trained since birth, deadly assassin, nothing that she actually does reflects this entirely. This was frustrating to read because it felt that the character was being described in one way but didn't really live up to that through her actions. Over the course of the book, I suppose she proves herself in little ways and I hope this is shown more in the sequel because I was coming to really enjoy her character by the end. 

This book is a solid 4 for me as I felt hooked all the way through and I loved the world and learning more about Ithicana. The romance was really enjoyable. It is a slow burner! This is an important heads up as I went into this book thinking it was going to be spicy from 20% in and it was not.  The book is told from both POVs with a heavier emphasis on Lara. I would have liked more moments between them told from Aren's POV just so we could see the finer moments of them falling for each other. Aren and Lara have great chemistry and I'm hoping for more intimate moments between them in The Traitor Queen (book 2).

Their relationship has been described as an enemies to lovers, which I suppose on the surface it is. However, it's not really knife-to-throat or "I will kill you" ETL, it's more like "Oh hey there, guess we're getting married as part of this treaty and our two nations don't really get along, but here we are. Wanna be friends?" I did however enjoy the dynamic of having our main character as a spy in the enemy's territory and her slowly finding out why they may not be the enemy she once thought they were. But enemies? To lovers? More like suspicious woman becomes the king's wife and is actually a spy and deep down he knows she's only there to get information from him about his kingdom but he wants to give her the benefit of the doubt and they both end up falling for each other anyway. Not sure what trope this is... but essentially if you like the idea of the betrayal trope then go for this. It will hurt you!

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy with a betrayal trope. Perhaps for fans of The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson who want a little more spice. I've seen this book compared to From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L Armentrout, but personally, I don't think this spice is on the same level if that is what you're looking for this might not be the one for you. I do think it will heat up over the course of the series and I can't wait to read book 2!

Rating

4 Falling Books

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Book Release Day and Review: Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

Happy Book Birthday to this wonderful YA contemporary!

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass
Release Date: May 11, 2021
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository


Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden – her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything – left the island to pursue his music dreams. Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.

And that's when Aiden comes roaring back into her life – as a VIP guest at the resort.

Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal – the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…

Where the Rhythm Takes You is such a joyous read that will keep you up all night and really give you that sweet contemporary YA experience. It is set in the beautiful backdrop of Tobago and I found myself longing to walk along the beaches, try the food, and wanting to experience everything it has to offer. This book deals with the loss of a loved one, learning to let go, and letting yourself fall into your passions. It has really left me with a fuzzy feeling, wanting to seize the day and nurture those passions that bring me joy. 

Ever since her mother died, our main character Reyna has been making sure to look after her family's hotel in Tobago and making sure it meets the standards that her mum put in place. She even put her dream of going to study art with her best friend aside. Reyna is shocked when she finds that her ex-boyfriend Aiden, who is now a major music celebrity, is coming to stay at the hotel and she has to be his tour guide. Throughout the book, we learn more and more about their history and where it went wrong. The slow burn of Reyna and Aiden's romance just killed me... and I loved it. Sometimes I felt Aiden could have shown a little more emotion and having a dual POV would have been really great at certain points within this book, however, I enjoyed Reyna's side nonetheless and the story of their second chance love tied up nicely by the end.

The way Reyna's mother's death is told to us felt so raw and so real it brought me to tears a few times. And her difficult relationship with her father and her best friend also felt realistic. There are also some funny laugh-out-loud scenes that came from Aiden's celebrity friends, who all felt so down to earth that they were a joy to read about. I loved the 'fame' aspect of the book didn't overtake the storyline. I do not think anything in the story really shocked or surprised me, there were no major twists in a sense. I would have liked something like this in the overarching plot, but it also worked fine without it. There may be some things that were seemingly predictable, but there's no denying that this book is such a fun read it did not matter.

I would highly recommend Where the Rhythm Takes You if you're looking for a YA contemporary that has all the classic ingredients but feels fresh at the same time. There is also a brilliant soca playlist at the back of the book, which is a genre I had never listened to before! This book is so easy to slip into. I read it over the course of a few days and each time I picked it up I felt I was returning home to friends. I cannot wait to read more from Sarah Dass because this debut novel hit the spot. 

Rating

4.5 Falling Books

Thank you to Balzer + Bray for providing an eARC on Edelweiss

Friday, 7 May 2021

Review: Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare

Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare
Release Date:
March 2, 2021
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository | Waterstones

Cordelia Carstairs seems to have everything she ever wanted. She’s engaged to marry James Herondale, the boy she has loved since childhood. She has a new life in London with her best friend Lucie Herondale and James’s charming companions, the Merry Thieves. She is about to be reunited with her beloved father. And she bears the sword Cortana, a legendary hero’s blade.

But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s marriage is a lie, arranged to save Cordelia’s reputation. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn whose brother, Jesse, died years ago in a terrible accident. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it, while her father has grown bitter and angry. And a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London, killing under cover of darkness, then vanishing without a trace.

Together with the Merry Thieves, Cordelia, James, and Lucie must follow the trail of the knife-wielding killer through the city’s most dangerous streets. All the while, each is keeping a shocking secret: Lucie, that she plans to raise Jesse from the dead; Cordelia, that she has sworn a dangerous oath of loyalty to a mysterious power; and James, that he is being drawn further each night into the dark web of his grandfather, the arch-demon Belial. And that he himself may be the killer they seek.

*Possible spoilers for Chain of Gold*

Cassandra Clare strikes again and breaks my heart. Surprise surprise. Chain of Iron follows our main cast from where Chain of Gold leaves off. Cordelia is marrying James to cover up James' actions and save Cordelia's reputation in society. Cordelia has real feelings for James, but she knows he is in love with Grace. The Shadowhunter wedding in this book was EVERYTHING. Gold attire with the Herondale family in attendance? Why did I not get an invite?! The plot of this book thickens when there is a series of Shadowhunter murders on the streets of London and the gang of Merry Thieves attempt to find the killer. Lucy has been spending a lot of time on her own and with Grace attempting to resurrect Jesse. Sounds bad? It certainly is. Overall, I loved all the storylines and how they unfolded in this book. If you're looking for action, romance, a murder mystery, and ANGST you will love this.

My favourite part of this series is the characters. Each one has such a special place in my heart and I love them all more than I can describe. Chain of Gold introduces them all and I felt that some were not developed as much as I would have liked. However, COI fills in this gap and I was not disappointed. We learn a lot more about Matthew. Oh, Matthew. I hope he gets his happy ending at some point he does deserve one. If you loved Matthew's humour and wanted to give him a hug in COG, oh boy it does not get any easier here. 

What can I say about Cordelia and James' relationship? ANGST. PAIN. I want both of these characters to be happy and I hope they can find it in Chain of Thorns despite every lucky star being against them. We know that James is not actually in love with Grace, but instead is being influenced by the GODDAMN silver bracelet given to him with instruction from Tatiana. I do hate that lady. There are certain scenes that have my whole heart when James has glimpses of his love for Cordelia through the bracelet haze. 

The most painful part of this book was the last few pages. It put me in physical, emotional, and mental pain! If you remember CC's classic cliffhangers, this contains another one. However, completely worth it! You need to read this and experience it.

I am such a simp for the Shadowhunter series. I think this may also be my favourite so far. It has all the characters we loved in The Infernal Devices and as a bonus, they are the parents of the main characters? This is a fanfiction come true. I would 100% recommend you keep reading if you have read TID. I am so excited for Chain of Thorns. I am sure there will be more heartbreak, more angst, more pain, more pain, and erm, more pain?

Rating

5 Falling Books

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Review: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Release Date:
May 4, 2021
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository


(US cover and UK cover)

Quinn keeps lists of everything—from the days she’s ugly cried, to “Things That I Would Never Admit Out Loud,” to all the boys she’d like to kiss. Her lists keep her sane. By writing her fears on paper, she never has to face them in real life. That is, until her journal goes missing…

An anonymous account posts one of her lists on Instagram for the whole school to see and blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears, or else her entire journal will go public. Quinn doesn’t know who to trust. Desperate, she teams up with Carter Bennett—the last known person to have her journal—in a race against time to track down the blackmailer.

Together, they journey through everything Quinn’s been too afraid to face, and along the way, Quinn finds the courage to be honest, to live in the moment, and to fall in love.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is a young adult contemporary with so much heart that I had to read this in one sitting. It deals with issues such as racism, bullying, dementia, and difficult family dynamics. It packed more of a punch than I was expected and I loved it.

Our main character Quinn is someone that loves to make lists for everything in her life, which she keeps in her notebook. The book acts as her diary and contains some of her most secret and personal lists. When she loses it and starts to be blackmailed by an anonymous account to do everything on her list of "Things that I would never admit out loud", Quinn doesn't even know where to start. 

Goffney handled the task of educating us about race in a way that was realistic and gave me things to think about along the way. I stepped away from this book feeling so empowered and in awe of how Quinn handles all the hurdles and struggles in her life. Not only handling cyberbullying but also navigating other aspects such as someone close in her life having dementia, her parents who are struggling internally with their marriage, and making big college decisions.  

In the midst of the fantasy hype at the moment, this contemporary story was such a breath of fresh air. There is a really sweet romance storyline, which I loved from beginning to end. Quinn and Carter made me laugh and smile so much. If you want an impactful story with fun and fully realised characters, I would recommend Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry endlessly! I am looking forward to more books by Joya Goffney.

Rating

4.5 Falling Books

Thank you to Harper Teen for providing me with an Edelweiss ARC!

Monday, 26 April 2021

Review: Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

Realm Breaker (Realm Breaker #1) by Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: May 4, 2021
A strange darkness grows in Allward.

Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

She soon discovers the truth: She is the last of an ancient lineage—and the last hope to save the world from destruction. But she won’t be alone. Even as darkness falls, she is joined by a band of unlikely companions:

A squire, forced to choose between home and honor.
An immortal, avenging a broken promise.
An assassin, exiled and bloodthirsty.
An ancient sorceress, whose riddles hide an eerie foresight.
A forger with a secret past.
A bounty hunter with a score to settle.

Together they stand against a vicious opponent, invincible and determined to burn all kingdoms to ash, and an army, unlike anything the realm has ever witnessed. 

Realm Breaker is the start of a high fantasy series led by a cast of delightful characters that form an unlikely team to save the realm. 

From page 1 there is a lot of detail and we are thrust into the world. Immediately we meet a lot of characters and we are in the middle of the action which becomes the plot of the entire book. I won't lie, I was confused. There is a lot of mention of "Spindles" without there being any full definition of what this is. It then becomes the root of many other words used in dialogue "Spindlerotten", "Spindleblessed", "Spindleborn", and I found myself having to guess and not dwell on it too much. I got the hang of it around 100 pages in but I would have liked a bit more explanation as there were other aspects of the worldbuilding that were described in such great detail I expected that to carry through. Even now I'm trying to remember what a Spindle is and I could not tell you confidently. Aveyard does however do a brilliant job at thrusting us into the world of Allward and taking us on an adventure through the different backdrops of the realm. If you're someone that enjoys high fantasy world-building you will enjoy what this story has to offer. We get to explore the palace, pirate ships, desert lands, and so many more unique places in this world. Definitely cross-check the map!

From the plot and the characters, I was hoping this would be a similar set-up to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. And to a certain extent, it was in terms of its multiple POVs. However, it did not match the level of epicness I was expecting. Maybe this will be built upon in the sequel? Our main characters are on a quest and to fulfill it they have to get out of some pretty sticky situations. They each bring something unique to the table and all-in-all had great voices in this story. We have a daughter of a ruthless pirate whose blood is crucial to saving the realm, a very lovable squire, a tough on the outside but soft on the inside immortal, a quickwitted assassin, and a young queen at the heart of the story who's actions I could never predict! There are other characters who are introduced later that were almost glossed over that I did not actually care about their whereabouts in the scenes. Even though the book swapped through a lot of POVs, I did not mind at all. Usually, with multiple POVs I find myself favoring certain characters over others, but I really enjoyed all of them in this book. The story was heavily plot-driven and there were points where I really wanted it to focus more on the characters. The result of this is characters with unclear motivations and stakes in the overall arching plot. I really hope this is something that is worked on more in the sequel as the author has set up a good foundation for her characters but they need to be fleshed out a bit more.

My main issue with this book is that I felt there was no real climax in the plotline. Realm Breaker acts as a set-up for the plot and just as things start to get interesting it is already the end of the book and we're left to wait for the sequel. About halfway through there was a major twist that had me gasping, but other than that I felt I was waiting for things to happen. Ayevard does put in a classic betrayal twist that she is so well known for from her Red Queen series.

For anyone who's wondering whether there are any underlying romance storylines in this book, yes however they are very subtle. Our characters are just getting to know each other here and are busy trying to save the realm so the romance storylines are very much muted. It could however mean we get a really awesome slow burn romance that picks up in the next book. 

I would recommend Realm Breaker to anyone that enjoys high-fantasy and a story told from multiple POVs. All of the characters are interesting with their own unique backstories which I hope is going to be explored in future books. Overall, Realm Breaker is a good start to the series and I will be reading the sequel to find out what happens next.

Rating
3.5 Falling Books

Thank you Harper Teen for providing me with an ARC.

Friday, 16 April 2021

My Current Reads and Book Giveaway

Happy Friday guys!

It really feels like April is flying by and there's no stopping it. I've been trying to juggle all the books I'm reading at the moment as I've come to find out that I am a mood reader. Meaning that I just read anything I'm in the mood for. This is how I have ended up reading more than 1 book at a time. Here are some I'm in the middle of at the moment.

Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare
I really loved Chain of Gold so I am so excited to have this in my hands. I'm about 100 pages in and I can't wait to see where this story is going. If you are thinking about reading this series definitely pick up The Infernal Devices beforehand because this series is set after that. I have fallen so hard for all of these characters that I know my heart will be broken while waiting for the last book Chain of Thorns.

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J Maas
SPEAKING OF BROKEN HEARTS! I have been reading Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn so slowly because I was scared to get to this book. So scared. Because this story now feels so close to my heart that I don't know if I ever want it to end. 

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Thank you Harper Teen for the ARC on Edelweiss! I am adoring this book. It is a YA contemporary about a girl who loves making lists about things in her life. However, when she loses her journal that contains all of her most private thoughts put into lists, she's willing to do about anything to get it back. Even cave into the wishes of the anonymous person blackmailing her. This book comes out on May 4, 2021.

Flock (The Ravenhood #1) By Kate Stewart
This is a new adult series that I have seen some buzz about on TikTok so I thought I would give it ago! I'm around 40% into the book and liking it so far. I don't know what to think just yet but I will put up a review soon after I finish it.

Have you read any of these books? Please let me know your thoughts!

Also, I am running a book giveaway over on my TikTok for hitting 1k followers! It closes tomorrow 17/04/21. For a chance to win a book from your wishlist!

You can enter HERE!

@samfallingbooks

Thank you guys I’m having a lot of fun 💕 ##booktok ##foryou ##fyp ##giveaway ##bookgiveaway ##amazonwishlist ##bookworm ##yareader

♬ deja vu - Olivia Rodrigo

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Review: The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni

The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer #1) by Lynette Noni
Release Date:
April 13, 2021
Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon | The Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

The Prison Healer has surprised me in the best way and is one of my favourite reads of 2021. I was hooked from the very first page and Noni's writing is so enthralling it made this story a joy to read. A fantasy with trials, elemental magic, a mysterious disease sweeping the prison, and really awesome characters. It also had so many plot twists that I never saw coming.

Set mainly in the walls of the prison Zalindov, Kiva is the prison healer treating the sick throughout her ten years stuck there. During this time, her family sneaks her notes telling her to hold on and that they will help her. Outside the prison, there is unrest involving rebels against the crown, so when the next prisoner brought in is the rebel queen alongside a note to keep her alive Kiva must do everything she can to protect her. This includes putting herself forward for the trial by Ordeal instead of the rebel queen. If she survives she walks free, if she fails she dies and so does the rebel queen. While this is happening there is also a mysterious disease hitting the inmates and Kiva must figure out what it is before it gets to those close to her. 

This story is predominantly focused on the prison but I hope that in the sequel we get to learn even more about the world and magic system. The elemental magic is touched on briefly and plays an interesting role in the story but there is definitely more that can be expanded with it. I enjoyed that this installment allows the set up of key characters, explores unrest within the prison, and builds on core relationships. The character relationships were one of the aspects I loved most. There is a light romance plot that runs through the story which I really enjoyed. I hope that this is also explored further in the sequel. The relationship between Kiva and Tipp was also so heartwarming. Tipp is a young child that Kiva took under her wing and their relationship is so pure.

The author's writing style is so easy to fall into that I was engrossed from the first chapter. Noni weaves her fantasy world flawlessly. I am itching to explore it further. If you are in a reading slump and find high fantasy too much to get your head around, pick this up! It is such an enjoyable read and the different storylines within the prison are pulled together so well and you won't even see the (many) plot twists coming. I haven't been shocked like this with a book for a long time. I would pitch this to anyone who enjoyed Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas but imagine if the story focuses on Celaena while she was in the Salt Mines in Endovier, and instead of being an assassin, she's a kindhearted and fierce healer.

There are themes touched upon in this book that I thought were handled well and with care. This includes themes of self-harm, drug abuse, and domestic abuse.

The Prison Healer is an unmissable fantasy. If you enjoy elemental magic systems, healing magic, slow-burn romance, and elements of found family you will love this book. It surprised me in the best way and I am so excited to read the sequel The Gilded Cage (release date: October 12th 2021).

Rating
4.5 Falling Books

Thank you to Kate at Hodder & Stoughton for providing a Netgalley ARC.