If you’ve been following along you’ll know that the end of chapter 30 saw Ailsa follow a horse into the woods only to find a mysterious stranger and realise she is not alone…DUN DUN DUN *dramatic musical interlude*. I couldn’t wait to race into this week’s reading!
During week 4 we have, again, found out lots more about the writing and inspiration of this book from the author herself, Caroline Logan. This week we’re talking more mythical creatures and fears.
Week 4: Chapters 31-41
These chapters started off with Ailsa being attacked by something whilst she was separated from the guys. We then followed her recovery from this ordeal holed up in a cute (or at least in my brain) rural tavern. We also have a traditional ceilidh, which is lovely to see in fiction, followed by the trio walking headlong into more danger.
My favourite part of this section
In one chapter Ailsa has a dream about her past where we get to learn a little bit more of her family life as a child. I’m really enjoying getting to unravel this backstory and seeing the true depths of hatred, fear, and prejudice experienced by and directed towards those that the communities of citizens perceive to be changelings. This chapter also shows the strength of Ailsa’s mother who ensured her daughter was able to live despite the villagers trying to knock the door down to take and murder her. I’m really intrigued to find out more about Ailsa’s mother and brother as these flashbacks feel very significant, more so than for character background purposes.
I also loved the development I saw in Harris. His personality is beginning to unravel and we’re starting to see just how much he cares for Ailsa. As I said previously, I AM SO HERE FOR THIS.
what i’m looking forward to in the next section
More Harris and Ailsa. More cuteness with Angus; I love that the two of them have such different relationships with him.
After Caroline shared some visual inspiration for the characters in her book during week 2, week 3 has seen some very specific scene inspiration, and some writing methodology.
I’m loving all of these ‘beyond the page’ updates!
Week 3: Chapters 21-30
Walking and angst! Questing and cuteness. Ailsa, Harris, and Duncan head out on their quest to retrieve the Stone and bicker like an old married thrupple and I loved it. We also learnt a bit more about Prince Duncan and the life of a ‘spare’ in this world. Ailsa began to open up to the guys too, and there’s a definite hint of romance in the air between her and Harris. Let me tell you, I am HERE FOR IT.
What did i enjoy most?
The mic-drop at the end of chapter 30! I’m trying to be very strict with myself and write my next post at the end of reading the block of chapters. The final page of chapter 30 made it very hard for me not to race straight ahead.
I’m also loving that there are so many great redhead characters in this book. Growing up a redhead, I’ve often found in films/tv/books that redheads are the villains or ‘evil’ characters which bothers me. However I feel like the way Caroline is writing Harris and the other redheads is healing those little wounds. I don’t mean to sound all sentimental.
Only a short update for this week as I’m keen to race ahead into week 4’s chapters!
In week 2 of this read-along of Caroline Logan’s first book The Stone of Destiny, we read chapters 11 – 20. I’ve also learnt lots more about this book as Caroline has been sharing insights of character inspiration over on her twitter page. My favourite discovery this week is the process of naming places in this fictional world.
Week 2: Chapters 11-20
In these few chapters we get to learn a little bit about the workings of court. We see how the court functions, including a ball and the King’s council. We also meet the Royal Family who are charismatic additions to the character list.
Most Promising new character
My favourite new addition to the book is without a doubt Prince Duncan. If Harris’s cheeky personality wasn’t already enough, Prince Duncan adds to this in bucket loads. He’s clearly the life and soul of the party and so much fun. Harris and Duncan bounce off of each other and their budding bromance is possibly my favourite relationship of the novel so far.
Stand out world building moment
I love how we’re slowly learning more about this world and I loved a subtle hint of the world beyond Eilanmor’s borders. The Crown Princess, aka pregnant Queen in waiting, is from another island in this world. When watching the prejudice that Ailsa experiences due to her birthmark and perceived status as a mythical changeling, the Queen retorts that in her land people believe the mark shows the child has been touched by the Gods. I love that this clearly means we have more mythological interpretations from the different populations in this world. I’m really excited to find out more, and it looks like Caroline is going to explore these things as the novel and series moves forward.
what am i most looking forward to in the next section?
This is slightly spoilery so skip the next couple of paragraphs if you haven’t read this far.
With Ailsa, Harris, and Duncan heading on a roadtrip/quest, I am fully anticipating this being so much fun. I sense a love triangle. I’m going to love the bromantic banter between the guys. No doubt our trio will also run into some trouble which will mean more badass Ailsa to enjoy. I really think the action is going to ramp up in the next block of chapters and I can’t wait! Bring it on.
You can catch up with the first part of the read-along for The Stone of Destiny by clicking here. Follow Caroline Logan on Twitter for more background information on the book as we continue reading!
The Stone of Destiny by Caroline Logan is the first book in YA series The Four Treasures. Ahead of the publication of book two, The Cauldron of Life, towards the end of this year, Caroline is hosting a read-along with bloggers and readers of the first book. She will be giving us insights along the way, and we will all be celebrating Scotland and the myths and legends that inspired this story.
Thank you very much to publisher Cranachan Books for sending me a copy to read.
Without further ado, let’s get into my first impressions of this novel and week 1 of the read-along. Visit Caroline’s Twitter to follow along and learn a little bit more about this series. Here she is to introduce you to her books!
In this first part of the novel we meet the protagonist, Ailsa. We find her alone and living off the land. Very quickly she stumbles across a woman in trouble and saves her and her brother from attack. Whilst they are recovering from the attack the mysterious woman, Iona, convinces Ailsa to accompany herself and her brother Harris on their mission to offer them protection. Having nothing keeping Ailsa where she is, she agrees and the trio begin their quest by first heading for the capital city of the land.
What do i think of the characters?
I really love all three of the principle characters so far. Ailsa is a certified badass. She is ballsy and can handle herself. I’m really enjoying her snippy comments and her dynamic with Iona and Harris. I’m intrigued by the snippets of her life that we’ve learnt so far and I have so many questions about her past that I can’t wait to unravel. Iona is great too. She seems like the guiding light of this novel, all wisdom and grace. Harris is the comic relief and his witty remarks and comebacks are everything. The banter between him and his sister, and the arguments with Ailsa are everything. His personality oozes off the page.
What did i enjoy most?
I love the mythology element in this story. It lead me into a research spiral, which is always a good sign. In these first few chapters we learn that Ailsa is seen as a Changeling by the village she grew up in due to a birth mark on her face. It’s also quickly clear that Iona and Harris are Selkies, mythical shape-shifting seal people. I’m hoping we get to learn more about all of this as the novel moves forwards.
What am i looking forward to in the next section?
As well as seeing where the mythology develops, I’m looking forward to seeing what life is like in the capital city. I love world building so I can’t wait to see what this world has to offer, especially with such a stunning map in the front of the book!
After seeing lots of other Bookstagrammer’s enjoying I was thrilled when Sudio approached me. I’m really happy to have discovered what all the fuss is about.
I chose the Sudio Klar headphones in white and have been using them since the beginning of May.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
The sound quality of these headphones is unbelievable. With the noise cancelling turned on, it’s so immersive. Everything is crystal clear and the volume has an excellent range.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
With over-ear headphones I usually find that my head starts to hurt after an hour or so. That is not the case with the Sudio Klar. The headband and the 2 speakers have memory foam padding that moulds to you and then bounces straight back. It took 7 hours of Zoom calls and continuous wearing for any head aching to occur. These have been perfect for long meetings and catching up with family, as well as listening to podcasts and audio books. I cannot wait to be using them on my morning commute again.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Sudio aims for a ‘clean, elegant Swedish design’ which I think they nail! I am HERE for all of the Scandinavian minimalism. I adore that these headphones are simple yet they make a statement. I also love how practical this style is. All of the buttons for operation are on the one ear speaker. They are distinguishable by touch which means I can easily control the volume, answer calls, and mute the microphone at the touch of a button whilst still wearing them. I also find it really useful that, although the Klar are wireless and operate through Bluetooth, there is a wired option. The wire comes with the headphones and you simply plug into the jack on the headphones and then into your device should you be caught between charges to continue listening on the go. An adapter is required for the iPhone lightning connection.
Sustainability is something really important to me. Over the last couple of years I have done a lot to reduce my own impact on the planet in my lifestyle choices and I am now shopping much more consciously.
I was therefore really happy to find that Sudio are an environmentally ethical and responsible company. They have a goal to become a carbon neutral organisation taking measured steps towards that. Here is what their website says about this.
If you want to get your hands on some Sudio headphones take a look at their website:
Talented, artistic, oppressed. Sarah has been learning to survive in a world that has become dangerous for her, her mother, and all other Jewish citizens throughout Europe. So what is a girl to do when she becomes unexpectedly orphaned? That’s right. She becomes a spy in a boarding school for the Nazi elite in 1939.
Sarah is one of my favourite novel protagonists in a long time. She is resourceful, ballsy, BRAVE, and mouthy. I love how she deals with her horrific situation, how she strategises and overcomes.
Matt Killeen expertly weaves Sarah’s backstory and experiences of being Jewish in increasing oppressive Austrian/German societies in the 1930s into the wider plot, which I found very educational. I found myself doing lots of research to fill in the gaps where my own knowledge was sadly lacking in this area of European history (this was further sparked by the Author’s note at the end of the novel). The plot was SO GOOD. Excellently paced and the twists towards the end of the novel were so brilliantly unexpected, I found myself moving the book as far away from me as I could whilst still being able to read.
A thrilling, well researched book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I cannot wait to read book 2 and, hopefully, learn some more about the Captain!
What I’m Currently Reading
Title: The Big Four
Author: Agatha Christie
First Impressions: will be at least a 4 star read
The story so far:
I am loving being back with Poirot, my favourite fictional detective. So far we have had a gentleman climb through Poirot’s apartment window and promptly drop dead. Now Poirot is on the tail of The Big Four, a mysterious criminal organisation. What’s more Hastings, Poirot’s friend, is back to narrate the story for us! I’m enjoying this one so far, but then I always enjoy a Christie.
What I’m Reading Next
Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
This is a re-read before I read the sequel Good Girl, Bad Blood. Click here to read my review and keep your eyes peeled for a review of book 2.
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered bySal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth . . .
This week we have free rein to discuss something bookish we love. Enter my favourite book series that I have been following from the beginning!
I first read The Bone Season weeks after it was released as my Grandma thought it sounded like something I would love, after she had seen Samantha Shannon giving an interview about the book on BBC1. Book 2, The Mime Order, was published when I was at college. Book 3, The Song Rising, was published whilst I was hating every second of uni. This series dragged me kicking and screaming through the trauma of the end of my education and I love it.
Set in a future where the world has ‘fallen’ to clairvoyance and the Republic of Scion is trampling the world into submission, Paige Mahoney must survive in the safety of the Criminal Underworld of London. Paige’s job is to break into the minds of other voyants as the right-hand woman of Jaxon Hall, one of London’s Mime Lords. That is until she is attacked, abducted, and taken to the prison city of Oxford, kept hidden from the world for 200 years. Let the fun (and the emotional torture) begin!
Here are a few reasons why I adore The Bone Season series.
1. Each book (so far) is almost a love letter to a city. The Bone Season = Ode to Oxford. The Mime Order = Ode to London. The Song Rising = Ode to Edinburgh (with a side of Manchester thrown in). The Mask Falling = Ode to Paris.
2. World building. Following on from the fact this series explores different cities and locations, the general world building is so vast. So, so vast. We have orders of clairvoyance along with innumerable types of clairvoyant, we have the entire history of the Scion regime, we have the history of an entire different species, we have transport systems, have recreational activities and entertainment, it goes on and on and it’s insane.
3. Etymology. The genius of the words and the names. Honestly if you want a deep dive into etymology go straight to Samantha Shannon’s Twitter.
4. Jaxon Hall. He’s a sassy, brilliant, sly, pain in the ass. Please read this series he is such a great character.
5. Slightly shallow but, look how pretty 😍 Who wouldn’t want these on their shelves?!
6. It’s going to be a 7 book series! The first 3 have already been published, book 4 is on its way in January 2020 and then there will be 3 more to look forward to!! Samantha Shannon is also known to write chonky ass books so think of how much book fun is still to be had!
7. These books are a musical education. Trust me. Oh, and Samantha Shannon has created some rather helpful Spotify playlists to accompany the books.
8. Girl power! Women run the show in this series. Including the antagonists.
9. Representation and inclusivity. This series contains a multitude of characters from different backgrounds and life situations. This includes POC characters and LGBTQIA+ characters.
10. SLOW. BURN. ROMANCE. Enough said.
See more of my favourite things over on my Bookstagram!
Thank you to NetGalley who kindly provided this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I’d like to apologise for this long overdue review. I was sent this e-ARC a while before lockdown began. A busy few weeks at work pre-lockdown and the initial lockdown blues of being unable to concentrate enough to read have prevented me from reading and reviewing this book. I did manage to read this in its publication week and I’m happy to be finally sharing my thoughts.
Our protagonist, Lady Eleanor, witnesses a murder. Except the body vanishes, and the police seem to have no desire to investigate. So Ellie begins sleuthing around the village to solve the murder herself. On the surface this is my perfect book. This concept is so intriguing and I thought this would be a real brain teaser of a novel. Unfortunately not.
The plot began painfully slowly and didn’t really start getting anywhere until around half way through. Honestly I thought the whole first half of the novel could have been cut and it wouldn’t have impacted the story. There was one small side character introduced in the first few chapters that popped up again later in the novel to be useful in ultimately solving the crime, but otherwise there was nothing remotely useful or entertaining in the first half of the novel. Once the plot finally got a move on, everything was very predictable. I felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities for real red herrings and twists to really get the reader going. Unfortunately, I felt the plot was severely lacking in this area.
There was a lot of effort made to drip feed Eleanor’s backstory into the novel. This was the main thing that kept me interested in the book. All I wanted to know was what happened to Ellie’s parents and more about her global travels. *Spoiler alert* we don’t find out what happened to Ellie’s parents. I can only assume this is planting seeds for later books in the series however the mystery element of this mystery novel was not executed well enough for me to read another book in this series.
Ellie is a confusing character. She spends the first 20 chapters doing absolutely nothing except despising other characters in the book for not taking her seriously because she’s a woman. Bright uses Ellie’s every line of thought or dialogue to express that the police in the little village Ellie now lives in is backwards as there are no female officers. She constantly provides social commentary that the men around her are underestimating her before she even opens her mouth based on the fact she’s a woman. She even goes as far as to suspect characters of murder based on how they treated her as a woman and not a shred of motive or anything remotely relevant. The first couple of times it’s brought up, fine, that’s setting the scene. But after that? Honestly, Jesus Christ I get it. The novel is set in 1920s England. We know the social position of women in this time. I felt it was irrelevant to the plot or the character development, especially considering no semblance of a plot was taking place. The second the plot began heading somewhere, the ridiculous commentary stopped clearly showing it served no purpose.
So Ellie was set up as being very pro-women’s rights and very forward thinking for her era, so I thought ‘great’! Surely this means Bright is going to use her protagonist to shut down irritating tropes of women in the 1920s right? HAHAHAHA WRONG. Every time an attractive man enters her field of view she suddenly can’t function and goes weak at the knees. It’s all blushing and feeling faint when an attractive man strays too close. Very cliché.
So which is it? Fainting flapper girl and a hopeless romantic, or trailblazing modern roaring 20s woman (who FYI could have romance without the stereotypical weak, woozy, fainting cr*p).
Clifford, the butler, is a pain in the rear. One of his personality quirks is he is very pedantic. Fine, that’s established early on. But sometimes it feels like this gets in the way of meaningful dialogue and it SERVES NO PURPOSE. Honestly so infuriating.
I did however love the rest of the cast of household staff who each had distinct personalities, really contributed to Ellie’s character development and felt like tangible people.
Unfortunately this book just left me feeling kind of meh. For the most part it felt like I was reading FanFiction of something, and I’d like to point out I’ve read novel-quality FanFic, but this is more an inexperienced author who hasn’t found a voice. The voice is confused, the third person narrative doesn’t work when Eleanor spends so much time inside her own head and voices dialogue to the dog instead of having the novel written in first person…but maybe that’s just me?
I’m really upset that I didn’t enjoy this book as the blurb sounds like everything I adore in a novel. I really expected so much more from this book…
I’d like to thank NetGalley again for sending this e-Arc to me in exchange for an honest review.
Move over Miss Marple, there’s a new sleuth in town! Meet Eleanor Swift: distinguished adventurer, dog lover, dignified lady… daring detective?
England, 1920. Eleanor Swift has spent the last few years travelling the world: taking tea in China, tasting alligators in Peru, escaping bandits in Persia and she has just arrived in England after a chaotic forty-five-day flight from South Africa. Chipstone is about the sleepiest town you could have the misfortune to meet. And to add to these indignities – she’s now a Lady.
Lady Eleanor, as she would prefer not to be known, reluctantly returns to her uncle’s home, Henley Hall. Now Lord Henley is gone, she is the owner of the cold and musty manor. What’s a girl to do? Well, befriend the household dog, Gladstone, for a start, and head straight out for a walk in the English countryside, even though a storm is brewing…
But then, from the edge of a quarry, through the driving rain, Eleanor is shocked to see a man shot and killed in the distance. Before she can climb down to the spot, the villain is gone and the body has vanished. With no victim and the local police convinced she’s stirring up trouble, Eleanor vows to solve this affair by herself. And when her brakes are mysteriously cut, one thing seems sure: someone in this quiet country town has Lady Eleanor Swift in their murderous sights…
When I saw this topic I thought I was really going to struggle but it turns out that this list filled up very quickly.
1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Didn’t go anywhere near Tolkien until I was towards the end of my teens.
2. The Little Prince/Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I came to this book whilst learning French but I would have loved to appreciate this book during childhood.
3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I watched the film as a child but never read the book (and still haven’t…)
4. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Same as above…
5. The Borrowers by Mary Norton
And again. Honestly I feel like this theme dominated my childhood…
6. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
One of my favourite Disney films and never even knew it was a book until I was in my teens.
7. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
Same story as with Peter Pan.
8. The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton
As I kid I was far too busy with the Rainbow Magic Fairies/Animal Ark/Magic Pony books. Goosebumps was another popular series when I was little and then, on top of all of that, the Harry Potter series was being released throughout my childhood. So with all that exciting children’s book publishing going on, I couldn’t think of anything worse than picking some ‘ancient’ books instead. I really regret that now…
9. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Unfortunately this is another story of not knowing these even existed until after the film…
10. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Film again…This was a film I watched time and time again with my grandma. Never knew it was a book first, still haven’t read it…
I blame this on my parents and my family not reading. 😂 Ever. They are big cinema buffs though, as you might be able to tell.
See more of my favourite things over on my Bookstagram!
This book (and the entire series actually) has been on my shelf and my TBR for a long time. I bought all 3 books in the series several years ago and they’ve been sat on my bookshelf ever since. Towards the end of 2019 I finally got around to them, after uni destroyed my love of reading almost irreparably, and I am so glad I am now on this bandwagon.
Whilst I really enjoyed book 1, Siege and Storm actually had me rolling my eyes quite a lot. Here’s what I thought.
Just when you think Mal and Alina might have it a bit easier, at least for a little while, they get caught again. Guess who? Shock horror, yes that’s right, The Darkling is back – and only a handful of pages after they shook him off. That’s a theme of this book to be honest, escaping and then being caught again almost immediately by someone or another. The Darkling initially drags Alina with him whilst looking for the sea whip, AKA yet another Grisha amplifier, which he can use to further control her. Naturally they succeed because tracker extraordinaire Mal is on the case. He and Alina kill the sea whip themselves and then escape…
The new band of escapees drop themselves straight into more trouble in the last place that Mal and Alina want to be in. It is capture disguised as freedom as they can’t really freely leave. Alina essentially doesn’t escape for the whole novel as The Darkling keeps appearing to her and causing problems. It’s exhausting and doesn’t seem to serve a purpose except to irritate the reader. Yes it causes conflict between certain characters but I don’t think it actually adds anything of value to the novel.
There’s lots more questing, when Alina discovers there is actually a third amplifier, which allows for a fair amount of world building. I loved that we were able to learn more about Mal and Alina’s childhood which gave us some adorable fluffy moments (yes I ship it please don’t judge). However the similarities in embarking on a quest where so strong for me that it made this feel like a carbon copy of Shadow and Bone, and makes it difficult to judge this book on its own. For me, the characters really made this novel as there were some excellent additions to the series.
I love lots of the new cast of this book. One is notorious privateer, Sturmhond. What a sassy, wonderful, pain in the ass he is. I adored him, his particular brand of humour, and his cutting remarks. His interactions with the characters we already love are brilliant.
Twins Tolya and Tamar are also standout characters of this book who should be protected at all costs.
Unfortunately, Mal becomes even more whiney in this book. I mean honestly, he needs to get a grip. He starts fighting Grisha and just generally being an angsty, miserable, moaning idiot who puts other people in danger as a result of his actions.
To top it all off The Darkling gains some interesting and horrific new powers that just keep growing and developing into greater horrors…
Lots of the newer cast are from other regions in the world this series is set. As such we are able to learn more about nations such as Shu Han. This is definitely a strength of this book and I loved how this added depths to certain characters’ actions.
I did enjoy this book for the most part however I did find the repetitious plot frustrating. I also feel like the conclusion of the novel was such a horrific low that I can’t see how this is going to be resolved in the final book. It left me very despondent and seemed like a ridiculous conclusion after everything that Mal and Alina had worked for. I can understand the final fight, a common fantasy trope but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go from here…
I guess I’ll have to work that out in Ruin and Rising.
Soldier, Summoner, Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long. The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army. But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.
from Waterstones – I am not affiliated with this, or any other, bookshop.