An underrated series: ‘The Witchlands’ by Susan Dennard

Hi everyone! We are aware that we haven’t posted a review in a while and so we have decided to blog about a series close to our hearts and one of our all-time favourites: ‘The Witchlands’ series by Susan Dennard.

Are you a fan of elemental gifts, sophisticated world building, and serious character depth?? Then this series is for you! We feel like this series is particularly underrated in the bookish community and the publishing world and we hope you give it a chance because it is a spectacular read!

Here is the blurb of ‘Truthwitch’ the first book of the series…

“In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. 


Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.
After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.”

 

From the synopsis you can tell what kind of genre this is; (e.g. YA, high fantasy, romance, adventure – basically the perfect combination lol), but what this excerpt fails to communicate is the sheer scope, depth and fun that this story gives and as the series progresses this becomes more and more apparent (especially in book 2.5 – Sightwitch). Alas, we could go on and on about how amazing this series is and bore you, so we will emphasis a few key things what makes this series so great.

  1. The characters.

They are diverse! We have POC, LGBT, and Disabled to name a few. We have characters from every walk of life and Dennard addresses them in a positive, healthy way which is hard!

They are written really well! We get different viewpoints in each chapter showing us their side of the story, showing us their imperfection, prejudices and backstories whilst also seeing them from each other’s POV.

They are written really, really well. The first book shows us four main characters: Safi, Iseult, Merik and Aeduan…. And man! They are perfect! Fleur has always loved Safi and Merik out of the four, whereas Star has preferred Iseult and Aeduan….and then you read book two and then you love them all equally! And honestly we love the friendships and relationships they make with the others on the way; they blend and interact brilliantly and it keeps you captivated throughout the whole book, we cannot wait to see more characters introduced!

  1. The Covers.

If you’re on Bookstagram or you just love a pretty cover, you are going to love these books. I mean LOOK AT THEM!

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Also it’s got a map – any book with a map is a plus for us! (Meaning the world building has got lots of history and geography – which is also perfectly diverse!).

  1. If you liked that you’ll love this!

We hate comparing books to other books as it discredits the author, but its hard to tell if you’ll like a book unless you’ve got something to compare it to right? So here are some other works that we find has similar vibes.

Did you enjoy watching ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ when you were younger? Or loved reading Elise Kova’s ‘Air Awakens’ series? Well you will adore this series, aProcessed with VSCO with m5 presets the same elemental concepts are underlining throughout the plot – yet presented in a completely different way, as the story has many layers and story arcs intertwining alongside the main POV’s. You definitely get the elemental vibes and find yourself taking the Witchlands quiz to see which Witchery would suit your personality – both of us got Air (we get that in every elemental quiz lol).

Are you also a fan of the ‘Throne of Glass’ series by S J Maas? A fantasy world with multiple point of views and great character development? Yes please! This kind of skilled writing is evident in Dennard’s work, although we would argue that Dennard’s characters are 100% more likable and more pleasant to read about!

We hope after this post you will be willing to give this series a try and love it the same way we do! We cannot WAIT for ‘Bloodwitch’ to be released this February – we need to know how our favourite cinnamon rolls are surviving! In case you are interested here are the links down below where you can purchase them!

Truthwitch

Windwitch

Sightwitch (2.5 Novella)

Bloodwitch

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and we hope you have found it helpful! Let us know in the comments which series you find to be underrated in the book community. Also what are your thoughts on this series? We would love to hear your thoughts and theories! Stay Cosy and Keep Reading! – Fleur.

How we edit our photos

Hello Everyone! We have had a number of enquiries about how we take and edit our photos on Instagram, and we thought it would be easier for you to see and understand on here then us trying to explain it via DM or comments on Instagram. And so without further ado let’s begin!

First of all, for all of our photos we use the Canon EOS 100D camera (to view press the link below…) https://www.canon.co.uk/for_home/product_finder/cameras/digital_slr/eos_100d/

This Camera is small and relatively cheap for a DSLR camera, great for amateur photographers. We have used this for years and is still as good as when we bought it. We never take photos on Iphone as the quality is never as good – even if it might save us time. When taking the photos we put it on the sunset setting, just to put a yellowish tint on the photo – as most of our sets are grey tones. This then warms up the photo and adds a more cosy glow. Once we have taken our photos (we take them in bulk, a week in advance as we both work full time) we upload them to our laptop and them email them to our web address on our Iphone/iPad. From there we will edit our photos on Apps on our Iphone.

We use VSCO’s M5 filter for our base filter and turn the dial to 9. Hopefully the picture on the right will show you what I mean here.

We then send the photo over to the app Snaimg_2845pseed where we press TOOLS – DRAMA – BRIGHTEN 1. This will then wash the photo out and make it very bright and warm toned. See the photo on the left.

Still using Snapseed go to TOOLS – BRUSHES – EXPOSURE. We then darken areas of the photo we want darker mainly using -0.7 but it can be lower or higher depending on the lighting and props we are using. (See picture on the right).

And that’s it! We will occasionally dim the corners with the Instagram edit features, but very rarely. As you can see it is a long and tedious journey from the camera to the final photo, but we think it is worth the effort! Let us know what you think! We hope this helps and it’s clear enough for you to understand. Thanks for reading!

Spoiler Free Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

5/5*

Children of Blood and BoneZélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

 

Guys, this is so good! If you haven’t read this already I highly suggest you do. Go and buy this now, if not for the amazing story then for that gorgeous cover 😉

Where to start? This story felt like 4 mini stories in one (amazing ones I add), moving from one fast paced scenario to another, covering fight scenes, festivals and pirates to name a few. The story follows Zelie as she journeys to undo the work of the repressive King and bring back magic, accompanied by her brother Tzain and Princess Amari. This story felt like an accessible epic, both easy to read but not simplistic, unique but not unusual.. if this makes sense? No? Ok…

I went into this book thinking that with over 500 pages, some of this is bound to drag and become unnecessary, but honestly I couldn’t pinpoint any moments that I could have edited out. It had good pacing and a good mixture of action and plot building. The writing is great and all the characters are fleshed out with their own personalities (more on the characters later!). I love that this high fantasy was set in West Africa, and more specifically focused on Yoruba culture (my husband is Yoruba so it was great to see that representation and discuss it with him throughout!). It had everything you’d want in a YA fantasy and more.

The world building was great, it reminisced the modern world and combined African history with Yoruba mythology. The magic system was also amazing, BTW did anyone else get halfway through and desperately want to take a quiz to see which Maji you would be? I’m still looking for that quiz BTW.

Readers be warned that this book is pretty violent in places and has torture scenes, attempted rape, derogatory terms etc. However you know the author is using the violence as a discussion on race in the modern world, including black lives matter. The social commentary is done is such a subtle but powerful way and I applaud Adeyemi on how she managed to do this.

 

WARNING: Spoilers ahead- if you have not read this yet, come back when you have! Then we can discuss 😀

OK the characters. Honestly I went from meh, to yay with some characters and yay to meh with others. At first I wasn’t sure about Zelie, she seemed a bit abrupt and inconsiderate, however by the end of the book my mind changed completely and I totally rooted for her. Sometimes showing that softer side is an advantage to the character, and I think seeing Zelie’s softer side in the latter half definitely built on her character arc.

Tzain, on the other hand, had the opposite effect. As soon as we met Zelie’s brother, I felt like this is the kind of character I love and I liked his strength and kindness. However later on in the book I found him to be quite irritating and a little hypocritical. Sure he can have feelings for the princess but if Zelie has feelings for the prince? NO WAY GIRLFRIEND.

Ok, Ok…I know I’m being a little unfair and I know Tzain has his reasons; he just seemed a little hypocritical to me and a little moany. Please turn back to being lovely, I loved you so much in the first half!

Amari was another one I didn’t like so much to begin with but grew on me throughout the book. Honestly the only way I can describe Amari in the beginning is ‘whelp’. Her intentions were good and I’m glad she wasn’t prone to violence, she just seemed a little weak and everything evolved around Binta, and to be fair, seeing your best friend murdered would have a huge impact, but sometimes there’s a bigger picture going on… ok I’m being harsh.

Inan.. sweet cinnamon roll Inan. Honestly Inan had massive Zuko vibes from Avatar: the last air bender. I know I shouldn’t have liked him and I should have been angry, but I couldn’t help but want the best for this guy! I’ll admit his feelings towards Zelie moved a little fast and little too strong for my tastes, but I’m 90% sure Inan is my favourite character. TEMI WHY YOU DO THIS ENDING TO ME?!

Although I have made some comments about what I liked and didn’t like about the characters, it all added up to them being amazing. Sure I didn’t love them all at the same time and there were some bits I didn’t like, but that’s what made them realistic and gave them variety. I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us… and please say Inan is ok?!

What did you guys think? Let me know!

Until next time books friends,
Star x

Spoiler Free Review: The Forgotten Book by Mechthild Glaser

The Forgotten Book by Mechthild Glaser
Isn’t it beautiful?!

 

4/5 Stars

Emma is used to things going her way. Her father is headmaster of her prestigious boarding school, her friends take her advice as gospel, and she’s convinced that a relationship with her long-time crush is on the horizon. As it turns out, Emma hasn’t seen anything yet. When she finds an old book in an abandoned library, things really start going Emma’s way: anything she writes in the book comes true. But the power of the book is not without consequences, and Emma soon realizes that she isn’t the only one who knows about it. Someone is determined to take it from her―and they’ll stop at nothing to succeed. A new boy in school―the arrogant, aloof, and irritatingly handsome Darcy de Winter―becomes Emma’s unlikely ally as secrets are revealed and danger creeps ever closer.

This book is a boarding school mystery, set in a castle next to the woods in Germany which has magic and fairy tales, oh and has a Pride and Prejudice plot… sounds good right? What I personally liked about this book is how it makes you feel with those bookish vibes, much like Glaser’s previous book, The Book Jumper. Library’s and books play a prominent role in this story, and I don’t know about you but I always enjoy a book about books, and it probably helped that I read this in a cosy bed with hot chocolate while there was a snow storm raging outside… perfection.

I’ll say here that this is a fun, quick and simple read, nothing ground breaking and nothing complex, just a good fantasy story to curl up in a blanket to and read on a Sunday afternoon. As mentioned this book is partly based on Pride and Prejudice, so if you don’t know the plot line of P&P you may enjoy this a little more as it will be less predictable. The book pulls off the P&P aspect in a none- cringey way and the characters are all pretty likeable, although I didn’t love Emma as much as I hoped as the main protagonist, but hey it didn’t make me dislike the book.

It did take a little while to get into the full swing of the plot, and the second half is definitely stronger than the first, but that’s when the fairy-tale aspect comes into play and you know we love a good fairy-tale! I won’t say anything more about that though, as I don’t want to get into spoiler territory and its probably best going into this book blind. Just know that this is a cosy read which incorporates fairy-tales, magic and pride and prejudice, and if that sounds good to you then what are you waiting for?

Until next time book friends,

Star x

Spoiler Free Review: Timeless Fairy Tales by K.M. Shea

Here at WEBOOKINGLOVEIT we love a good fairy-tale whether it’s an adaptation, retelling or a complete original. And so when I discovered the Timeless Fairy Tale series by K.M Shea I was intrigued and fell immediately in love with the Universe. Here is a quick broad summery of what you can expect:

“The continent is under attack. A prince is cursed to take on the body of a beast, a selkie’s pelt is stolen from her, an ogre rules in Carabas, a princess is cursed to sleep, and the elves have shut themselves off. Catastrophe and chaos rule as myths become reality and dark magic threatens to choke all that is good. Can the world be saved?

Timeless Fairy Tales are a series of fairy tale adaptations. They can be read in the series order, as they are listed below, or out of order. Each book focuses on a different main character, but there is some overlap as the events in each story impact the world they take place in.”

“Beauty and the Beast, book 1; Wild Swans, book 2; Cinderella and the Colonel, book 3; Rumpelstiltskin, book 4, The Little Selkie, book 5; Puss in Boots, book 6; Swan Lake, book 7, Sleeping Beauty, book 8; The Frog Prince, book 9, 12 Dancing Princesses, book 10.”

When I first read ‘Beauty and the Beast’ I was captivated by the world building, character development and the adorable romance. It had the perfect blend of originality and the classical fairytale we all know and love, something I struggle with when it comes to retellings, but this series gets the balance just right! However, the more I read of the series the more I loved the growing diversity of the characters; from Prince Severin’s grumpy strategist personality, to Prince Toril’s daft persona. Even though they are all different all the characters are attractive in their own way, which I find highly unusual in YA, so thumbs up to K.M. Shea!

Another bonus I found to this series was the way each story contributes to a larger picture, and interlinks so you can always check in on your favourite character (Personally my favourite character is Colonel Friedrich from ‘Cinderella and the Colonel’) and your favourite Country (Verglas is definitely my fave country so far). Let me know who your favourite is in the comments below! That’s the beauty of this series, you can always guarantee there will be a story/character that you will love.

So if you’re looking for an easy, quick read with a perfect blend of action and romance – this is the series for you! Feisty females and Charming Princes are all I need to enjoy a good fairy tale and this series delivers in abundance. I will confidently give this series a 4/5 stars, as I loved seven of the ten books, the other three (Wild Swans, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty) didn’t appeal to me, but that is my personal preference. I highly recommend this series guys so take a look and let me know what you think!

Fleur

Spoiler Free Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

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4/5*

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

I’ve been meaning to pick this book up for so long, and thanks to Harper Collins who kindly sent us a copy, I have been able to do so! And yes I am very late to the party on this one but so, so happy I finally picked this up!

As the synopsis above states, this story follows Em who has taken the place of Prince Casimir’s betrothed, tricking the family and marrying the heir to the Lera throne so that she can take them down and avenge her parents. As this storyline alone will suggest, stakes are pretty high and the story has you on the edge of your seat wondering if Em will be discovered, and if so, what will happen to her. I’ll be honest here and say that if you have read a lot of YA set in warring, magical kingdoms then this plot will not be the most unique and refreshing, however it is very entertaining and if you are a fan of feuds, magic, tragedy and romance you will really enjoy this.

One of the main things I liked about this book is the world building. The kingdoms all have their own personality and relationships to each other and to magic and I found this really intriguing. It was done in a really clear and concise way so that you knew the traits and beliefs of each kingdom but weren’t left confused and overwhelmed by the details. Also I love the Ruined and can’t wait to read the sequel to get more information on their magic and (hopefully) meet more characters from there- more Ruined please!

I was pleasantly surprised by the characters in this book and so happy to report that none of them got on my nerves! A very rare occurrence indeed! Em did have the potential to annoy as she does fit into the typical YA ‘tough girl’ trope, but she didn’t! I liked her loyalty and her baddassery (that’s a word right?), but also liked to see her human side, yes people, sometimes badass female characters are human and can’t help be attracted to nice, good-looking men! And let’s face it Cas was a nice guy, and I like nice guys- so yay for Cas. My favourite character, though, had to be Aren. Just read it if you haven’t guys, so we can talk about Aren, he’s a cool guy.

The one part I did not like was around the 300 page mark which was pretty much a chapter devoted to the romance. I did not like that chapter. If you love romance though, you will probably like this and it does give you a little respite from the politics and violence, but honestly I just didn’t like how the romance was executed here, it felt rushed and a little unrealistic, but maybe that’s just my sceptical self. Also the below quote:

And he’d taken his shirt off and slung it over his shoulder. Em found herself staring at one particular drop of water making a journey from the base of his throat down the center of his chest. She watched as it rolled down, sliding across his skin and disappearing into the ridges of his abdominals. She had never wanted to be a drop of water so badly.

Yeah, no. This is not for me.

All in all I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to pick up the next one. If you guys haven’t read this yet but have thought about it, I recommend you do! It’s a quick, entertaining read and I’m pretty sure the third book comes out this year, so good timing!

A minor caution to younger readers that this book does include a fair amount of graphic violence.

Until next time book friends,

Star x

Spoiler Free Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood
Ahh Fairy Tale Goodness!!

 

4/5 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

A book based around dark fairytales? Sign me up!!

Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect from The Hazel Wood, but we received this gorgeous copy in our February Fairyloot box themed ‘Twisted Fairytales’ and lets just say this book fits that theme perfectly!

As the above synopsis says, the book follows Alice as she tries to find her mother who unexpectedly goes missing after her grandmothers death. Its probably best going into this book blind, as there is a lot of mystery and intrigue which will have you itching to pick the book back up when you have to go and do life things.. yeah annoying adulting.

I have heard a few reviews saying that this book is slow, and looking back I do admit that the first 50-70% is pretty none productive, but it didn’t seem to bother me while reading it. Maybe this is because I read it cosied up inside with treats while it snowed outside, and lets face it those are the perfect vibes for a magical read! But a word of caution- if you like none stop action then perhaps this book isn’t the one for you.

The characters are all pretty well fleshed out and I have to admit Ellery Finch was fast becoming my favourite character of the book, as Alice is frustratingly bitchy/ short-fused with her temper… you”ll find out why when you read it! The book dips into the fairytales of The Hinterland every now and then throughout the book and I must say those parts were my absolute favourite! (needless to say I am SO HAPPY that Melissa Albert is releasing a separate book full of the fairytales- its going to be epic!)

This book has been compared to Alice in Wonderland and if you enjoy Wonderland retellings I think you will enjoy this. Oh and another thing- there are a lot of F-bombs used in this story, so if your a younger reader, just be wary of that.

All in all I enjoyed this read and it will always reminds me of that super snowy week in February where I read about the Hinterland fairy tales. If you’ve read it too, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Until next time book friends,

Star x