Review | The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

darkdayspactTitleThe Dark Days Pact (2017)
Author: Alison Goodman
Publisher/Edition: Walker Books
Read: 18th – 26th November 2018
Genre: fantasy; historical fiction; young-adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Brighton, July 1812. Lady Helen Wrexhall is spending the summer season in Brighton, where she will continue her Reclaimer training and prepare for her duties as a fully fledged member of the Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, believes that a Grand Deceiver has arrived in England, and there is no time to lose in preparing Helen to fight it. As she rushes to complete her training, Helen finds herself torn between her loyalty to Carlston and the orders of the Home Office, who wish to use her to further their own agenda. Meanwhile, the Duke of Selburn seems determined to try and protect her, irrespective of the risk to himself. With so much at stake, Helen must make an agonizing choice between duty and devotion.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Best Books of 2016

Welcome one, welcome all, to the inevitable and downright obligatory Best Books of 2016 post that isn’t at all subjective or biased in any way. (Disclaimer: that sentence was entirely a lie.)

(If you’re looking for my more stats-based wrap up of 2016 then please do pop over to my 2016: A Bookish Year In Review post!)

I’m sure you’ve seen enough of these lists floating around in the past week or so but, basically, I’ve decided to draw a line under (let’s face it a pretty crappy) 2016 in the most positive way possible – by celebrating some absolutely brilliant books that I’ve read this past year. They may not necessarily have been published in 2016, but all of them were read by yours truly in these past twelve months and, it’s safe to say, if they made this list and have stuck around despite my patchy memory, then they must have been something special. Each of these books has well and truly earned their place on this list and I’ve detailed the not-at-all-incoherent reasoning behind each choice below so that, hopefully, my flailing might persuade you to read them yourself if you haven’t already.

Right, without further ado, let’s do this like the music charts, in reverse order, shall we?

burialritescoverHonourable Mention: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Why?: When people say a story is “haunting”, I finally know what they mean thanks to Hannah Kent’s novel. Set in Iceland, it follows the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be sentenced to death in the country. From the outset we are told what Agnes has allegedly done and this characterisation of her as a “murderess” haunts her every word and interaction from this opening page. Add onto that Kent’s chilling writing style which masterfully evokes the harsh, bleak, but beautiful, Icelandic landscape, and you have an absolutely astounding book that has stayed with me for many months.

“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.”

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T5W | Inaccurate Book Covers

top 5 wednesdayWelcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Books With Inaccurate Covers, covers that have nothing to do with the story or are just plain misleading or a really tacky cover for an otherwise great read. Since I read YA fantasy, that particular genre can occasionally fall foul of cover designers. If I see one more cover that’s ‘the girl in the dress looking over her shoulder’, I may very well scream. It’s such a shame because the stories inside the covers are often very compelling, but I know some readers will be put off ever picking the book up simply because of a cheesy cover. Likewise, I know some books with covers that are just completely misleading as to what genre they actually are, which is equally disappointing.

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Review | The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

27074515TitleThe Dark Days Club (2016)
Author: Alison Goodman
Read:  7th-20th August
Genre: young-adult; historical fiction; paranormal
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Imagine Jane Austen Regency romance, with all its pomp and circumstance, mixed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer style paranormal creatures and secret societies set up to battle the secret forces of evil right under the noses of society. What you have is Alison Goodman’s The Dark Days Club, a novel which I didn’t know I needed but I should have been able to guess given that it’s a bizarre but fitting combination of everything I love in this world.

Yes, you should be amazed,” her uncle snapped. “You are lucky you have forty thousand pounds, girl. I have a feeling your lively spirit would be far less attractive without it.”

It’s 1812, it’s London, and young Lady Helen Wrexhall is about to be presented to the court of King George III. Living under the shady shadow of her mother’s reputation (the word ‘treason’ is whispered everywhere she goes), Lady Helen tries to be the best society lady she can be, including dancing, wearing gowns, and securing a suitable marriage to an upstanding Duke or Count. That is, until one of her family’s servants disappears in strange circumstances and, in the search for her, Lady Helen stumbles into a darker world she hadn’t realised co-existed alongside respectable Regency society.

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August Favourites

The last time I put together a favourites post was back in December 2014 – yep you read that correctly. I’ve always been unsure as to whether I really have anything to contribute by way of monthly favourites type posts, essentially because I’m not a lifestyle or beauty blogger.

However, I do like a lot of things in terms of arts and entertainment and I never pass up a chance to gush about them. So I thought I’d give it another shot in case I accidentally share something someone else finds and likes too!

Favourite Books

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

How can I begin to explain this book? Ok, it’s like Buffy the Vampire Slayer still demons and demon slaying meets secret societies meets Jane Austen/Regency society, complete with balls and carriages and paying calls to friends and drinking tea. If you enjoy Pride and Prejudice but think, hey, this would be improved if Lizzie Bennet was a demon hunter (no, not like the and Zombies adaptation) who was introduced to her calling by a brooding Mr Darcy, then The Dark Days Club might have something for you. On a complete separate and more domestic note, the relationship between the main character, Lady Helen, and her maid, Darby, reminds me so much of the relationship between Lady Mary and Anna in Downton Abbey so if you’re here for female friendships, the book is also good for that.

asoscoverA Storm of Swords/ASOIAF by George R.R. Martin

I am now 3 books into my #readasoiaf readalong attempt and, let me tell you, it’s had its ups and downs but I feel like now, finally, with A Storm of Swords, this is definitely a high. The first half of A Storm of Swords is, not going to lie, something of a slog, but it completely makes up for it in the proverbial shitstorm that is A Storm of Swords Part 2. All my patience thus far was rewarded, I got my Red and Purple Weddings I’d been waiting for, and also read some pretty damn amazing character development. Tyrion’s still on fine witty form too, so obviously this volume would make it into my favourites for August.

(I tried to form more coherent thoughts into a review, if you’re interested.)

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Friday Reads | 12th August

Just a quick Friday Reads post from me today! I’m going to ambitiously share what I plan to read this Friday and into the weekend ahead but, as we all know, I rarely follow through on reading plans once I document them here. However, I am sitting pretty at 49 out of 52 books in my 2016 Reading Challenge so I think I’m doing just fine.

Which is a good thing because my reading this week thus far hasn’t been brilliant. I should probably finish up some books I am halfway through so I can get my reading down to one, or two, items, but I’m nearly always a polygamous reader so I’m sure I will be diving into all of the following books intermittently over this weekend:

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