Bookish Tags, Other

T5W: Favourite Angsty Romances

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Lainey of gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam of ThoughtsOnTomes. Every week, I will post my top 5 of that week’s theme. If you’d like to learn more about it or join in the fun, head over to the Goodreads group where all the discussions take place here.

This week’s theme is Favourite Angsty Romances, so without further ado, let’s jump right in!

1. Gus and Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

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I don’t think you can get much more angsty than John Green generally, and especially not this novel. While I think Looking For Alaska is definitely much more angsty, the romance in this novel captured my heart from the start. Gus and Hazel are so cute, and I’m sure you don’t need telling where the angst in this comes from. I’ll just end by saying that this was one of my first experiences at truly heartbreaking YA.

2. Jude and Oscar from I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson 

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This book is my favourite. Everything about this novel is angst, from beginning to end, but not in an annoying, eye-roll kind of way, but in a gushing, make you want to cry and laugh and scream and punch something all at once. Jude and Oscar are so angsty that it made my heart feel like it was being squeezed at times. I mean, you can’t get much more angsty than: “I gave up practically the whole word for you…The sun, stars, ocean, trees, everything, I gave it all up for you.”

3. Twylla and Lief from The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury

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Twylla is the human embodiment of the goddess Daunen, the Queen’s executioner, and her touch is fatal. As if that isn’t enough to make her relationship to her new guard Lief risky to say the least, she is also engaged to the Prince. There is so much standing between Twylla and Lief that their romance is already angsty enough, and that’s before the main story of The Sin Eater’s Daughter even begins. Once the trilogy gets going, this relationship only gets more and more angsty.

4. Maddy and Olly from Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon 

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Another great romance story that makes you not only squeal with excitement and butterflies but also squirm in apprehension at what might go off. Not only is the romance in this novel heightened by the fact that Maddy could literally die from an allergic reaction to anything and everything, but she can’t even be safe with Olly himself.

5. Celaena and Sam Throne of Glass series – Sarah J. Maas

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At first I chose Chaol and Celaena, then I chose Aelin and Rowan, then I decided to not choose any in particular, then I remembered that there are also all the other relationships, from Dorian and Sorscha to Elide and Lorcan. This series is so filled to the brim with angsty, steamy romances that I couldn’t choose for ages, but in the end I chose Celaena and Sam because they are the sweetest of the lot in my opinion and have the most dramatic end. I don’t think anyone can quite fit angsty romance into epic fantasy like Sarah J Maas can, and even though sometimes I am a bit fed up with the prevalence of romantic pairings in the series, I still get obsessed with them.

 

Bookish Tags, Other

First Line Fridays: 10th March

Welcome to the first instalment of a new feature here at Ink Drops Books!

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?  If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above, and follow the rules below:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

This seems like a lot of fun to me. A lot of the time, when I’m shopping for books, apart from looking at the cover and blurb, I’ll read the first few sentences to get a bit of a feel for the writing style, so apart from this being a bit of fun, maybe you’ll be interested by some of the books that I include.

So, let’s begin.

Even when there are no prisoners, I can still hear the screams. They live in the walls like ghosts and echo in between footsteps.

Any idea what book this could be?

Read on to find out…

Keep scrolling…

The Sin-Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury

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Summary

Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn’t a member of the court. She’s the executioner.As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

I picked up this book after it was recommended to me by a friend, and while this book is not one of my favourites, the series as a whole is fantastic. The world gradually gets bigger, the fantasy elements more and more developed, and the characters become stronger and more vivid. To top it all off, Melinda Salisbury is a wonderful writer, and I especially love the way that she describes scenes.

You can read my full review for this book here.

Book Reviews, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy

The Scarecrow Queen – Melinda Salisbury Review

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

Rating: ★★★★★

Wow! I can’t believe that this trilogy has already reached its conclusion. The Scarecrow Queen was such a fun read that I powered through, and is a really satisfying conclusion to the series. I feel like this series has been such a journey. After a rocky start with The Sin Eater’s Daughter, I grew to really enjoy this series while reading The Sleeping Prince, and this book was absolutely brilliant! I’m gutted that the trilogy is over, and hoping and praying that Melinda decides to return to these characters soon!

Beware, this is a review for the third and final book in the series so, while there are no spoilers for The Scarecrow Queen, there may be some for the first two books in the series. 

One of my favourite things about this book was that the plot progressed steadily, and unlike some other books that deal with wars and revolutions, we don’t have to deal with huge amounts of information, politics, or military tactics that can be hard to trudge through. Salisbury instead switched perspective from Twylla and Errin, the two narrators of the series so far, and uses time jumps so that you get to read the best parts of each story, and skip the long, drawn-out process of planning a revolution, which, although I do enjoy reading, I was glad to have a bit of a break from. However, this doesn’t mean that the plot was too simple at all, just that it was clear to understand, which makes it all the better. You’re never confused, or distracted from the story because you’ve forgotten what the characters are doing or what they’re planning, and so you’re never bored. There are still plot twists and surprises, mysteries and questions that you’re dying to find out the answer to, but things move quickly, which is refreshing. Apart from this, The Scarecrow Queen offers a genuinely satisfying conclusion to the story, and Melinda Salisbury ties together all the loose ends about the different aspects of the story, and yet the ending leaves me wanting so much more – in a good way! I don’t want to let these characters go, and I really hope that we see more of them.

The book also focused on the characters and their journeys as individuals, which I loved to read. Both Twylla and Errin are in completely different situations than we’ve seen them in before, and I liked that the book didn’t get bogged down with technical details so that we could really see the individual characters’ stories. I have always liked Errin’s character, her determination and resolve, but it’s Twylla who I really loved in this book. Although I didn’t really take to her in The Sin Eater’s Daughter, I couldn’t get enough of her in this book, and now I can see properly the full journey that she has gone through, which makes her even more interesting. In this book, Twylla is leading the fight against Aurek, The Sleeping Prince, so we see her having to do something that she isn’t very used to – leading people and making decisions. I loved that we saw her training to fight, which is miles away from the dainty Daunen Embodied from the first book, but even more than that, I loved that we saw her reaching for what she wants, and it was great to see her go from being indecisive and scared to knowing exactly what she wants. I also really loved the relationship between the main characters and the way that we see them engaging with characters that we haven’t seen before. I particularly enjoyed the relationships between Twylla, Errin, and Merek. For a while, I suspected a cliche love triangle, but Salisbury made it so much more interesting. Each of the characters shares a genuine friendship and camaraderie with each of the others that was so wonderful to see. Romance played a part in the book for several characters, but it wasn’t cliche, and it didn’t overpower the main storyline or the characters’ individual development.

Finally, more than in the previous books, I found Melinda Salisbury’s writing to be a real pleasure to read. I’ve found it to be quite simple at times, which is not a bad thing necessarily, but isn’t always my style. However in this book, I feel like she really managed to evoke atmosphere and emotion through her writing in a way that I hadn’t really felt in the previous two novels. A perfect example is the initial chapters that show us Errin’s imprisonment with Aurek. These were so creepy that they made my skin crawl, and I loved the way that Salisbury didn’t use the character’s names, which made it feel even scarier. There were more descriptions in this book than in the previous books, which I loved, and more in-depth insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings.

Overall, I’m quite surprised that I’ve given this 5 stars. It wasn’t even until I sat down to write this review that I realised that there wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book, but then, every book in this series has surprised me in some way. I’m so glad that I stuck with this series. I felt like there as so much more to tell about the world and the characters after The Sin Eater’s Daughter, and I was thankfully proved right. This series was so much fun to read, and I definitely recommend it to anybody who is a fan of YA fantasy!

 

Book Reviews, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult

The Sleeping Prince – Melinda Salisbury Review

 

 

 

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Taken from: @inkdropsbooks (Instagram)

 

Rating: ★★★★

The Sleeping Prince is the sequel to The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury which I reviewed recently (here). While I found The Sin Eater’s Daughter somewhat disappointing, The Sleeping Prince was the complete opposite. I went into it expecting it to be like the first book, but this was the complete opposite. The characters were relatable and jumped right off the page, the relationships were more complex, and the storyline had me hooked from the start.

Something to note if you go into this book after reading The Sin Eater’s Daughter is that The Sleeping Prince follows a new set of characters. Gone are Twylla and Lief, the Prince and the Queen. In this book, we’re introduced to Errin, who from the very beginning captured me. Her and her mother have had to move to a village near the border of their kingdom after her father died and they were thrust into poverty. She had to leave her apprenticeship to be an apothecary and she is barely scraping by. She is also harbouring a grave secret that could put them both in danger. Her mother is sick with what Errin thinks is a magical disease that makes her go crazy when the full moon is out. When the village is evacuated because the Sleeping Prince (the story from the first book) is going to invade, Errin faces the great problem of how to get her mother to safety without anybody realising what’s wrong with her.

sleeping-prince_melinda-salisbury_fullUnlike Twylla in the first book, Errin is so proactive and determined to get her way. She always has a plan, and refuses to let the world trample all over her. Throughout the book, I felt more and more like I respected her genuinely for not only the backstory that Salisbury gives her, but for the things that she did throughout the book. She travels across the kingdom, hunts people down, fights enemies, and all the while, she is just focusing on her family and getting them to safety, not glory or victory. I also enjoyed the other characters that were introduced, such as the mysterious Silas, and eventually when the story meets up with that of the first book, it did so in a completely surprising way that I was not expecting. The characters from the first book that made a reappearance in this one were more three-dimensional and alive than in the first book, and seeing them working together (or against each other) gave the whole book a different dynamic to the first.

Another thing that I really loved about The Sleeping Prince was that we got to see some more of the magic in Melinda Salisbury’s world. The first book was completely set within the castle grounds, but in this book we are in a different kingdom, we learn more about the myths and history of the world, the different types of magic and creatures, and so much more. The world really expanded in this book which gives you so much to think about and enjoy.

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t expecting too much, to be honest. I had enjoyed the first book, but I had found it to be slow-paced, and I didn’t really like the characters. If the books were longer, I don’t think I would have got this far into the series. However, I feel like Melinda Salisbury is always pulling something out of her sleeve to change your mind. I thought this book would be okay, but I actually really enjoyed reading it and whizzed through without wanting to put it down. Now I absolutely cannot wait to read the next instalment, so look out for the review to The Scarecrow Queen!

To read

Book Reviews, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult

The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury

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Rating: ★ ★ ★

This book was so passionately recommended to me by a friend that I was dying to read it by the time I picked it up. The concept seemed so intriguing that I was sure it would be great, and although the concept of it was, I found the book as a whole to be a little disappointing.

Twylla lives in the palace, and is engaged to the prince, but that doesn’t mean she’s happy. She is the embodiment of the goddess Daunen, which mean that her touch is fatal and she must serve as the Queen’s executioner. The only people who are immune to her touch, and so not terrified of her, are the royal family themselves, but they barely speak to her, and so she is mostly alone. However, this all changes when Twylla is assigned a new guard – Lief. He treats her like an ordinary girl, talks to her, tells her stories, and jokes around with her, but more importantly, he can touch her. Twylla must figure out how much of what she has been told is truth, and how much is a lie, and what her place in the world is now that everything is being thrown into doubt.

I absolutely loved the idea of a girl who can kill with her touch. I absolutely loved the idea of a girl who isn’t sure whether she really is who people say she is. Everything about this sounded great to begin with, but Twylla just fell flat. Although I understand that her character is that of  a girl who has been raised pretty much in isolation, devoted to her goddess and to tradition, I didn’t feel like there was enough of an insight into Twylla’s mind to make me relate to her. She didn’t do anything because she’s terrified, but I didn’t see her thinking anything of note either. She spends the whole book afraid, while everyone else acts, and I kept waiting and wishing that she would do something to gain my respect, but it just didn’t come. Although I’m not exactly a big fan of stereotypical ‘strong female characters’, Twylla was the complete other extreme. I don’t feel like she deserved the title of heroine based on her actions in this book.

sineatersdaughterMost of this book is quite slow-paced and based around Twylla realising the dark realities of her life in the palace. To be honest, I had no idea where anything was going for most of it, but I didn’t mind because Melinda Salisbury’s writing is easy to read and, while not right up my street, I didn’t mind it. It didn’t linger too long on any one aspect like some writers do, and the book isn’t particularly long, so I didn’t get bored. However, that all changed towards the end of the novel. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that made me do such a drastic switch from being sort of uninterested but reading because I didn’t want to give up to making me stay up late into the night to finish it! The last few chapters moved so quickly, and everything – I mean everything – went to hell. All of the passages from earlier in the novel that I didn’t really know the relevance of suddenly were relevant and fit together like a puzzle. While I would have liked for the drama to have been a bit more evenly spread, it didn’t really ruin the reading experience because it’s quite a short book, but it does mean that if you get bored, you just have to stick it out.

The final part of this novel that I’m going to discuss is the romance plot. It was predictable from the moment I read the blurb, but predictable isn’t necessarily bad. Lief wasn’t a bad character or love interest, but he also fell a little bit flat because he just seemed too perfect. I’m not sure if there is a male equivalent of a Mary Sue, but Lief was it (Google tells me it’s Gary-Stu, but that sounds stupid, so I’m not going to use it). While there were some plot twists with regards to this, I just didn’t really care about Lief or the love story. I resented how quickly the relationship developed and deepened, but this won’t bother people who are more into love stories than I am, and the way that Melinda Salisbury wrapped up this novel rescued this plot line as well.

Update: Since reviewing this book, I’ve reviewed the second book in the series The Sleeping Prince. You can read that review here!