Review: The Chalice and the Crown by Kassandra Flamouri

Sasha Nikolayeva is a young talented and determined ballet protégé. As she prepares for the role of Odette, a performance that is to change her life and future, her family history of madness and neurological disturbances catch up to her until her mind and body deteriorate to the point where she risks losing not only her career but also her life.

Waking up in the land of her repeated nightmares, Sasha finds herself a thrall, a being less than slave, a pet to be used for her life force for the comfort and entertainment of the citizens of the enchanting City of Roses. Whilst forced to endure the harsh cruelty and indignity of her subjection, Sasha also finds friendship, comfort and love in the very city which threatens to snuff out her body and her soul.

Fighting for her freedom, she much choose between the two worlds she is caught in, between the life and family waiting for her at home and the rebels and cause that have unexpectedly become dear to her.  

A truly great read. The storyline is captivating and enthralling from beginning to end. Sasha is a well written protagonist and the writing style allows the reader to become engrossed in her mind and emotions. Her confusion and turmoil is projected in a way that is gripping and palpable throughout. The tension of her situation is laden and desperate that it pulls the reader into its oppressive darkness.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

xx

-iM

Series Review: Lux by Jennifer L. Armentrout

BRIEF OVERVIEW:

The Lux series is pretty dang amazing! It introduces the concept of other life forms in a very interesting and at times thought provoking ways. The main characters are so very well written it’s painful! They are realistic and not at all stereotypical despite first appearances. They are relatable, lovable and just gorgeous. The storyline is ingenious and as a whole the series is perfect. A definite favourite.

Shadows (Lux #0.5)

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The prequel to the series Lux, this short story introduces us to the characters and idea of Luxen.

Dawson Black is a Luxen, a being made of light living on earth. As an alien life-form, he has to keep his true identity a secret from all humans for the safety himself and others like him. That has never been an issue until Bethany Williams enters his class and easy-going, fun Dawson can’t stay away. Despite the warning of his guarding and triplet brother, Dawson and Bethany get close and risk exposure and far worse repercussions than he ever thought possible.  

This is a great short that introduces the characters, albeit not all. It sets the mood for the series but, in retrospect, does not compare to the main books in that they are far superior. That being said, this is very good, easy and enjoyable read.

Obsidian (Lux #1)

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Katy knows who she is and what she wants and moving to a small town isn’t on that list. Encouraged to make friends by her mom, she knocks next door to find the most handsome but infuriating being. Daemon Black, whilst gorgeous, irritates quiet Katy far more than she ever thought possible. Despite their hate-hate relationship the two end up alone often enough for her to realize there is something major off about him- he can freeze time and is an alien being made of light.

Recommended to read alongside Oblivion (Lux 1.5) which follows the same story line from Daemon’s point of view.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this read. I found it witty, funny and altogether captivating. It is very well written and the characters are very real and engaging. While on first glance the protagonist, Katy, seems like a stereotypical nerdy girl with her love of books, she is anything but typical!! She is what I call a character well written and perfectly developed.

Onyx (Lux #2)

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

After an Arum attack on Halloween night, Katy is now connected to Daemon Black. Whilst her attraction to him is strong, she is insistent he is not who she wants, not after how he treated her at the start. He, however, is determined to prove they should be together, and not just because of the connection linking them together and giving her his powers.

Wanting a bit of normality, Katy goes out with the new boy in school who has his own secrets. He attempts to help Katy control her new-found powers and keep the Department of Defence from finding out about her. But when she sees someone who is supposedly dead, everything changes and not for the better.

Recommended to read alongside Oblivion 2 (Lux 2.5) which follows the same storyline from Daemon’s point of view.

This book picks up right where the first left off and is so much more! This instalment really shows us what Katy is made of as well as portraying a completely different side to Daemon. Their character development makes one fall in love with them individually and together. The events of the storyline are intriguing and unexpected.

Opal (Lux #3)

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Holy moly macaroni. This book made me suffer.

Opal picks up right where Onyx left off, Adam is dead, Dawson is back and rather unhinged, determined to do anything and everything to get Beth back. While Daemon tries to keep his brother safe it’s Katy who is able to get through to him and she promises they will help get Beth out. But that is easier said than done, especially when Blake also reappears and threatens them into working together. Opal is where all the actions happens, it explores the relationship of Katy and Daemon as well as Katy’s personal character development. The emotions are raging and the ending is heart-wrenching.

Recommended to read alongside Oblivion 3 (Lux 3.5) which follows the same storyline from Daemon’s point of view.

Origin (Lux #4)

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The unimaginable has happened. Whilst getting Beth out, Katy was captured and Daemon will do anything to get her back. Choosing between his family and her is not really a choice anymore and he dives head-first into enemy lines. Literally.

Katy, meanwhile, is all alone, scared and a little confused. Captured and tortured by Daedalus she can’t help but wonder if some of the things they say are not totally crazy. Holding on to who she is, her only comfort is that Daemon got away.

Action-packed from start to end with all sorts of things hitting the ceiling fan, it will keep you on the edge of your seat and holding your breath.  A dual point of view book perfection.

Opposition (Lux #5)

by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Last instalment of the series, this book will have you holding your breath and your heart pounding for a while before you are able to relax and even then it’s like sitting on a pincushion.  The Luxen are on Earth, and not the friendly type. Determined to take over the world and destroy mankind and hybrids, they are nothing like the friendly aliens we have come to love.

Katy is once again alone and afraid, having watched Daemon walk away from her and join the newcoming Luxen, she is left behind in a state of shock and denial.

Daemon has to prove his loyalty, and love and Katy are two things he cannot even think.

As the lines between good and bad get blurred, the oddest of partnerships are forged in order to save life as we know it. 

This last part of the series feels totally different from the first four. If you thought the events of the previous books were intense, this blows them out of the park. It is a good completion to the series, however, and really portrays the power of the relationships forged over the first number of instalments. The characters were all undergone a huge development and this is really showcased in this book.

 OVERALL, this is an amazing book series. Like with all things, I enjoyed some more than others but that being said, the story line was fluid throughout and made sense, no book was odd out or unnecessary. The characters are some that I have fallen in love with and will not forget and the idea as a whole I found original and innovative. Lastly (but as importantly), I found one of my other fave series through Katy’s book recommendations and I am living for that! Check it out here with my Sweet series book review.

xx

-iM

Future Publications: The Ringmaster’s Daughter By Carly Schabowski

The Ringmaster’s Daughter is the entertaining tale of Michel Bonnet, a young Parisian man at the time of the Nazi’s invasion of France during WW2. With the help of his closest friend he escapes the city and, unknowingly, joins the travelling circus train of Le Cirque Neumann as a stowaway. Following a rocky start with the ringmaster, Michel is allowed to remain with the troupe, caring for and training the horses, on the condition that he keeps to himself and does not interact with the performers. But keeping to himself becomes difficult as he makes the most unlikely of friends and catches the eye of the enchanting Frieda, the star of the show who is under the protection of the ringmaster. It soon becomes evident that they, along with everyone else in the troupe, are hiding some dangerous secrets.

This is a sweet, albeit stingingly real, tale of life as an outcast during World War 2. The magic of the circus and first love permeates the pages and the tension is palpable throughout.

Expected publication date: 7th July 2020.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

Xx

-iM

Monthly Readathon

I’ve been quite bad with reading during the month of June. I’m not certain why exactly but I feel that part of the reason was because of my book choices. Being me, when I don’t enjoy a book, I will not leave it and start another, I will stop reading entirely. I know, I never said it was smart.

So here’s a little list I’ve compiled to take away the eternal question of ‘what book shall I read now?’. These are a few picks that I’ve had my eye on for a while, some books I’ve put off too many times to count and some oldies that have been sitting on my kindle for too long. This is in no way a set list, I may deviate from it at times, read additional ones or none at all, whatever. This is a little to read list. Feel free to join and let me know what you think of them. I am also always up for new recommendations because a girl can never have too many books!

  • The Chalice and the Crown by Kassandra Flamouri
  • Djinn by Sang Kromah
  • The Chronicles of Narnia  #1-7 by C.S. Lewis
  • This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
  • The Rape Trial Of Medusa by Michael Kasenow
  • Shades of Lovers by Catarine Hancock (Future Publication)
  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
  • Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
  • The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen
  • Evolution Series Books 1-2 by Kelly Carrero

Book Club Choice: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a thought-provoking, emotional tale of a little girl dealt a rough hand at life.

5 year old Kya is abandoned in turn by each member of her family, the school system, and the town she lives in which labelled her the ‘Marsh Girl’. Intelligent beyond her years, she makes the decision to live off the land and comes to see it as the family that will not leave her.

Years of loneliness leave her yearning for a friend, and when one appears she is torn between what she wants- companionship, and all she has known all her life- abandonment.

Years older, Tate worms his way into Kya’s life, trust and affection through their shared love and respect of the marsh. He nurtures, educates and encourages her, seeing her as far more than the freak child living in a swamp.

Whilst following the life of Kya from childhood into adulthood, the story takes you to a prologue set in the future depicting the suspicious circumstances of the death of a prominent town member and then follows the two storylines artfully.

A great read with very heart-wrenching themes that include abuse, abandonment, racism and the healing power of nature. The physical and emotional growth of the protagonist is enlightening and inspiring. The writing style is engaging and easy to read. I found it to have rather stark similarities to the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee, so if, like me, you enjoyed one, you will enjoy the other.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

xx

-iM

Future Publications: When I Come Home Again by Caroline Scott

When I come home again begins in Britain at the end of WW1. It is the tale of a soldier who survived with his life but not his memory. Given the name Adam, he is found and brought to a rehabilitation home by his doctor James, who then attempts to aid Adam in the recovery of his memories. However, it soon becomes clear that Adam does not want to remember, having successfully locked away the trauma of war.

Adam settles into his life of oblivion, relearning and rediscovering his love of nature. But when a newspaper article publishes his photograph and story in an attempt to find his family the peace Adam has become familiar with is upturned. Three women come forward to claim Adam as their family, each with a compelling case of their own, who will swear Adam is their Mark or Ellis or Robert.

Written from the point of view of numerous characters, each of whom have lost a loved one to the war, this book explores trauma, hope and death and the complex coping mechanisms of humans in response to these emotions. The nature of the tale is such that it intrigues its reader and prompts them to guess the outcome which is deeply ingrained in fundamental human sensibility.

It is a very compelling retelling of what I’m sure is hundreds of similar tales. It is thought provoking in very emotional ways, leaving the reader with many what ifs, however, the realness of the story resonated throughout in unexpected heart-wrenching ways.

Expected publication date: October 29th 2020.

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

xx

-iM

Fooled & Enlightened: The Englishman’s Scottish Wife (Love’s Second Chance #16) by Bree Wolf REVIEW

I received an advanced readers’ copy of this book and am very happy to be able to write this review.

I have to start by saying that I absolutely adore the Love’s Second Chance series, I’ve read every instalment and it’s only normal that some I’ve loved more than others. This one was a very pleasant surprise as I did not expect to get to read about Maggie’s second chance at love, especially not with Nathan (once I remembered him from previous instalments I certainly did not expect to sympathise or come to like him as a protagonist).  While the storyline is endearing, I found that the character progression was slightly unrealistic and, quite frankly, a little lazy. Some major topics are touched upon but not enough time is left in the storyline to allow them to progress organically. While a good portion of the book is unnecessarily allocated to that one day (if you’ve read it you’ll know which I’m talking about), the beginning and end of the book felt rushed.

However, all in all, did I enjoy the book? Yes. Is it my favourite of the series? No. Am I intrigued by the ending? BRING ON THE NEXT BOOK.

Find on Amazon and Goodreads.

xx

-iM

A day in Portsmouth

A Day in Portsmouth

As per tradition, b-day three years ago (yes that is how late this blog post is) was spent and celebrated in England. A bit different however, in that London was not the city of choice but Portsmouth. It was somewhat unintentional but turned out to me a most lovely day. So if you chance to find yourself in those parts (once lockdown is lifted and quarantine is over obvi, be safe kids), here is a little itinerary of things to do

  • Brunch

You want to start the day right, right? Portsmouth port has numerous lovely breakfast/brunch places to choose from. Our choice of brunch spot was Slug and Lettuce and it was perfect. The décor is what I want my future house to look like.

  • Shopping

If you’re in a spendy mood, there is a lovely outlet shopping street at Gunwharf Quays with a variety of stores from Ted Baker and Allsaints to Clarks and Cath Kidston, all offering up to 60% off all year round. It is simply fabulous, even just for a stroll around.

  • The Dickens Trail

You need not be a fan to appreciate that Portsmouth was the birthplace of one of the greatest classics of all time. Join a series of guided walks and talks or just take a stroll around the Birthplace Museum and see his old bedroom. There is nothing like seeing where history was born and made!

If you follow the gram you’ll know that I have a thing with climbing the highest objects in a city and Portsmouth was no exception. The 170-meter observation tower is ‘the centrepiece of the redevelopment of the Portsmouth Harbour’ but it is not for the faint hearted. If you don’t love heights I would not advise the ascent. However, if you’re like me you will greatly enjoy the ride and the countless photo opportunities, mainly the panoramic view of the first deck and the glass walkway which can be both thrilling and terrifying. 

  • Afternoon tea

When in the land of the tea, one has tea. There are countless beautiful places to have afternoon tea in the Portsmouth area (in any area really, you’re in England after all), including the Spinnaker Tower, but we decided to take a walk and enjoy it at the wonderfully tranquil and picturesque Parade Tea Rooms. It is a mere five minute walk from the main town and just what one needs to get a good feel of the beautiful English town.

Now, having written all this I have made myself sad because it will be a while still until I can make it back to England but hey, I shall continue to live vicariously through my google photos, and if you like, join me on Instagram to watch me reminisce ;)

xx

-iM