Monday, 22 May 2017

Two Candle Thieves


So if you are a fan of our blog, not only are you the bee's knees but you also may have been wondering where we've been. Well, Becky and I (pretty much on a whim) decided to start up our own bookish candle business! Yes, there are quite a few out there but we are still building up our name and hoping to distinguish ourselves from the others out there (who are amazing because we now know how much work goes into it!!) During a conversation in which we both realised we hadn't seen a bookish candle dedicated to Inej from the Six of Crows duology, Two Candle Thieves was born. I had made candles in the past myself and Becky is good at the ol' Photoshop so it was us against the world of wax. Despite only having our shop since February this year, it has received so much praise, support and sales that we are overwhelmed every single day. We only use natural products (vegan-friendly) and at the moment, our candles come in 190ml jars! We also use our own photos for our labels. So without further ado, here are some photos of our current products and links to where you can find us.


Our Welcome to Weep candle inspired by Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. This has scents of bergamot, green tea, lemon, raspberry and more. Found here.

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Our Blood Shrike candle inspired by Helene Aquilla from The Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. This has scents of amber, vanilla and cloves. Found here.

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Our True Story candle dedicated to Karou from A Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. This has scents of fresh roses, cedar wood and cinnamon. Found here.

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Our Stars Eternal/Night Triumphant candles are sold as a pair and limited stock. Dedicated to Feyre and Rhysand from A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Stars has scents of jasmine, pine and amber. Night has scents of sea breeze, citrus and lavender. 

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Our High Lady & High Lord of the Night Court candle inspired by A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas has hints of lilac, jasmine and sea breeze which will transport you straight to Velaris. Found here.


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Our Thief at Sea candle inspired by Lila Bard from the Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. This has scents of freshly cut roses, sea breeze and gunpowder to transport you alongside our favourite cross-dressing pirate. Found here.

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Our White Wolf candle inspired by Adelina from the Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu. As well as having scents of dark fruits, jasmine and sea breeze, this candle's label also features a photo of my husky, Jayden! Found here. 

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The candle that started it all! The Wraith is inspired by Inej Ghafa from the Six of Crows duology. It has scents of warm cinnamon, burning amber and fresh breeze. Found here.


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Our Liesl & the Goblin Grove candle is inspired by Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. It has scents of pine, snow and citrusy Goblin fruits. Found here.

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And that is our shop! We have a lot more candles planned for the future, including one inspired by the Lara Jean trilogy and the women of A Song of Ice and Fire! If you go to our shop, you will also see that our newest venture is vinyl stickers which are only £1! So once again, thank you all so much for the support and we hope you love our candles as much as we do! 







Love,

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor


“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable," she pleaded. "Something beautiful and full of monsters."


“Beautiful and full of monsters?"



“All the best stories are.” 

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I've been a huge fan of Laini Taylor ever since reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone all those years ago, so Strange the Dreamer was such a highly anticipated read for me. I'm so happy to say that it didn't disappoint.

I've taken my time writing this review but, for those of you who haven't read this book yet, I'll be avoiding spoilers throughout this post!

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So, as always, Laini's writing was absolutely magical; Strange the Dreamer truly felt like a fairytale, and I could almost taste and sense the beautiful descriptions being weaved throughout this story. I didn't think it was possible, but I think Laini's writing has improved so much since DOSAB - despite that being such a beautifully written trilogy, she's somehow managed to grow within her writing and surpass it.

Although the story is fairly slow paced, the world building and character development means that this isn't an issue in any way. I have to admit that Lazlo Strange is definitely one of my fictional crushes now - the gentle giant trope, his love of books, and just the general fact that overall, he is a dreamer - he was a perfect main character, and that's coming from someone who often struggles to read novels with male main characters. Besides Lazlo, I adored all of the characters, and immediately fell in love with Sarai and her story. The way in which each characters path intertwines to connect each thread of the story together worked in the most perfect way, and although there weren't necessarily any huge plot twists or surprises in my opinion, Strange the Dreamer had such a wonderfully woven plot and left me craving the sequel. 

Without giving away too much, I also loved how easily Strange the Dreamer could be linked to the world of DOSAB, in terms of its mythical and magical aspects, especially within the world building (although I'm not sure if this was purposeful). irregardless, I enjoyed forming the connections between the two stories.



Overall, Strange the Dreamer is a story of gods and monsters, of an orphaned librarian and a half-human girl with dreams that they can't escape, of lost cities and lost histories, of long-standing prejudices spanning centuries, and of a dreamer who just wants to be the hero of the story, despite believing that he has no skill to ever achieve that goal. It brings together a strong social commentary on how grudges can be held against a group of people based purely on the actions of their predecessors and a simple overarching message to never give up your dream. If, deep down, you have a storytellers mind and a dreamer's soul, this is the book for you.

love Becky @

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Diverse Recs: Books with Trans Characters



Goodreads | Book Depository




If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

We follow the story of Amanda, a transgender girl who goes to live with her father. She falls in love, makes new friends and learns to love the body she should have been born with. The novel switches between present day and flashbacks all the way through Amanda's childhood to her attempted suicide and finally, her transition. This is a YA contemporary with all our much-loved themes but having it told by a transgender woman makes the story so much more relevant.








Goodreads | Book Depository

Dreadnought by April Daniels

Dreadnought is the first book in the Nemesis series by April Daniels. We follow the story of Danielle, a superhero who just happens to be transgender. This is a world where superheroes are a part of everyday life and when Danny is confronted by a dying Dreadnought, one of the world's best superheroes, it isn't long until her life is completely changed when with his dying breath, he gives her his powers and changes her from the boy she was born into the girl she has always been. Faced with her new appearance and blossoming superpowers, Danielle is drawn into the world of heroes and villains alongside her fellow class-member/masked vigilante, Sarah/Calamity as they work together to stop Utopia, a super-villain hell bent on controlling the world. 







Goodreads | Amazon


When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore


This beautiful magic-realism story follows the story of a lost girl who has roses growing from her wrists and Sam, a transgender boy with a Pakistani heritage whose culture is explored through his paintings. Sam and his mother have always followed the practice of Bacha posh, the cultural practice in Afghanistan and Pakistan of families without sons picking one of their daughters to live and behave as a boy, in order to accept his identity. Although this book is heavily metaphorical and magical, it still manages to deal with many intense issues - such as gender and race. Overall, this is the story of the friendship between Sam and Miel.





Goodreads | Amazon



George by Alex Gino

A middle-grade novel incorporating what it means to be transgender and how it is manifested in children. When people look at George, they see a boy but inside, she knows she's not. Despite the heavy issues, this book being narrated by 10 year old George allows it to remain a lighthearted and heartwarming, especially George's blossoming friendship with Kelly who accepts her without question. Female pronouns are used throughout the entire book and during one scene, George renames herself as Melissa and from that point on, that is her name. I think it's so important to have a middle-grade novel that focuses on the positivity of a trans character and the acceptance that should always be in their lives.









Goodreads | Amazon


Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Beautiful cover? Check. Beautiful story? Check. Own Voices? Check. Diversity? Double check. Just checks everywhere for this amazing retelling of Peter Pan. Despite (unfortunately) being quite short, this story definitely packs a punch as we follow the story of Pan who returns to Neverland after resigning to live his life as Wendy Darling. However, growing up has only fuelled his true identity as a boy. Coming back to the Lost Boys who have now become men and his old rival, Captain Hook isn't what Pan expected. What is extra unexpected is the attraction he now feels towards Hook leaving a new question, who the real villain is. This book is cute and fun and Pan and Hook could have been SO toxic but Austin nailed it. Definitely pick up this adorable retelling!








Goodreads | Book Depository


Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

This young-adult fantasy novella is packed full of diversity despite being so small. Our main character is asexual (whose identity is confirmed and discussed), there is a trans boy whose identity is discussed in a wonderful and fascinating way and there are also secondary characters, one of Japanese descent and the other is Latino. This story takes place in a home for 'wayward children' and all is seemingly normal, except for the disappearing children who end up in magical lands. Heartbreakingly beautiful, reminiscent of Narnia and yet jam-packed with diversity. Despite the trans character being a secondary character, his identity is still treated with respect so we thought it was worthy to mention in this list. Also, the sequel Down Among the Sticks and Bones is out in June!





Goodreads | Book Depository





Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Upon delving into the world of book Twitter, you will probably come across this novel almost immediately. A superhero story packed with diverse characters including a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese main character, a lesbian love interest and a trans boy called Bells whose identity is only confirmed when he is casually asked about his binder. The best news? The sequel, Not Your Villain, gives us Bells as our main character! This series is set in a world where superpowers are the norm but who is to say that they are more powerful than their sidekicks? This book is fun, full of the good kind of tropes but most of all, full of diversity. Also, who wouldn't want that cover on their shelves?






Lots of love,
Angharad @

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Laini Taylor Event at Waterstones Liverpool

Hi everyone!

So we've gone a bit quiet again recently, partly due to the opening of our store, Two Candle Thieves, and also as Angharad's away at the moment and I'm just finishing up with my degree. Hopefully once the last of my assignments are submitted and Angharad's finished gallivanting about in the south of England, we'll be posting more frequently again!

Today's post is a bit different from anything we've done before (partly because we've never attended book signings before - unless you count the Jacqueline Wilson event I went to when I was 12...) but anyway - I thought I'd share a bit about the Laini Taylor event I went to in Liverpool a few days ago!


As soon as I saw that Laini was touring the UK, I knew I had to be at one of her events - I've absolutely loved her writing ever since I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone around five years ago, and I had been waiting to read Strange the Dreamer ever since I heard that she was writing a new novel. Unfortunately, Laini wasn't visiting Manchester on this tour, so after considering the three nearest event stops to me, I decided to attend the event at Waterstones in Liverpool - I've been to Liverpool many times for photography work, and as I was anxious enough about going to a bookish event for the first time (and on my own) I wanted to be in a city that I was fairly familiar with! 


Luckily, I ended up not having to go to the event alone, and met up with Amy (www.amyjanealice.com), Lauren (www.northernplunder.blogspot.co.uk), and Beth (www.iambookmad.com), three fellow Manchester-based book bloggers. I'm usually an awkward mess when meeting new people, but these three are so lovely and it was so great to meet some book lovers who live close to me! So after travelling to Liverpool and grabbing some food, we got to Waterstones, and I couldn't have been more excited. 

There was a little talk and Q&A - Laini spoke about how Strange the Dreamer was originally Sarai's story, called the Muse of Nightmares, but Lazlo just kept coming back to her, and so the first book in the series became his story. I'm so glad she chose to write the book this way, as I have to admit, Lazlo is definitely my current bookish crush. I feel as though I should have taken notes during the talk (as a few other people there were) so I could remember it all better, but I was just so awestruck that I didn't even think to do so!

One interesting link between Strange the Dreamer and Daughter of Smoke and Bone was the mention of being impaled on spikes - this is at the very beginning of Strange the Dreamer (so no spoilers here, don't worry!) and mentioned briefly in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (about Czech nationalists attempting a rebellion against the Nazis, and subsequently being impaled on a gate surrounding the building that had become Karou's art school). Laini hadn't actually noticed this link until it was brought up but assured us all that she doesn't have a phobia of being impaled on a gate.


After the talk, we queued up for the signing - the four of us were panicking a bit about getting the train back, but the lovely Waterstones staff moved us closer to the front of the queue (with the help of a very kind man who let us cut in front of him - if you're somehow reading this, big thanks to you!!). It got to my turn to speak to Laini, and I was honestly so nervous! I got up and handed her my books and mumbled some rubbish about how it was my first book signing, I was sorry that I'd brought so many books with me to be signed, and some other nonsense. Laini was such a lovely person though! I also gave her one of our Welcome to Weep candles and got a photo with her (below). We were all given two Strange the Dreamer moth temporary tattoos, which are so pretty that I can't bring myself to actually use them and have stuck them on my bookcase instead!


I do feel as though I was such a puddle of awkwardness, but hopefully next time I'll be less nervous now that I know what to expect from author signings and events a bit more. I'm really hoping to somehow be able to attend YALC this year, and if I do I'll get to meet Laini again which would be amazing!

love Becky @

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Hunted by Meagan Spooner




Beauty and the Beast has never been my favourite story, but when I saw that this BATB retelling was set in medieval Russia and incorporated aspects of Ivan Tsarevitch, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf, it went straight onto my TBR list!

Hunted follows Yeva (nicknamed Beauty by her family), a young girl who's a skilled hunter after training for years beside her father in the woods close to their village. Yeva has a comfortable life with her father and two sisters, spending most of her days accompanying the baronessa of the village with a group of other women. However, she grows tired of living up to the standards of high society, and longs to live in the woods and carry on hunting - and also to meet someone who will understand her unconventional ways and treat her as an equal with admirable skills, rather than a submissive woman. 


When Yeva's father loses his fortune, her family is forced to move back to his small hunting cabin deep in the woods. This may seem like a blessing in disguise for Yeva, who is finally able to escape the confines of high society, until the day that her father goes missing after becoming convinced that there is a beast living in the forest chasing away his prey. Yeva is then forced to go deep into the woods to search for him. What follows becomes a merging of Beauty and the Beast alongside Ivan and the Firebird, mixed with multiple other Russian folktales that I've come to love over the years.

I generally have three problems with Beauty and the Beast, and thankfully, Hunted eradicates all of them. First off, the stockholm syndrome. Yeva gets to know the Beast and forms a bond with him before knowing that he is the one who imprisoned her, and once she finds out, she struggles with her fondness for her mysterious friend Ivan, and the beast who chained her up and who she believes hurt her father. There is also a conversation between Yeva and a friend of hers about abusive relationships - something which I've definitely never seen in a Beauty and the Beast retelling before, and which improved the story as a whole so much. Issues like this need to be addressed in these sort of stories, and I was so thankful that Meagan Spooner took the time to add this conversation into the book. 

Second, I've never really liked Belle/Beauty in these stories. Thankfully, Yeva was a much more interesting character - she's a strong female character (and we can never have too many of those, in my opinion), she had depth, she was incredibly selfless and always put others before her (even those who hurt her), she was determined and she knew exactly what she wanted, and I really came to relate to her story. The author's note at the back of Hunted points out that this is very much a coming of age story that the author herself feels relates to her own life, and I could also relate to so much of it, so Yeva really grew on me. 


Third, the sisters. I don't think I've ever read or seen a version of Beauty and the Beast where Beauty's sisters aren't awful to her, but Yeva's sisters, Lena and Asenka, are both wonderful characters in their own right and are always looking out for their younger sister. I really enjoyed both of their individual stories and would definitely read more about them. 

Fourth (I think) the Gaston character. We've all seen this guy be the typical douche (lets take Tamlin in ACOTAR, for example) but Yeva's suitor, Solmir, is actually such a nice person and admires Yeva's talent for hunting and tracking - he doesn't treat her like she's below him or expect her to be the typical wife figure, and constantly reassures her that he'd never impose any expectations on her if they were to marry. When she's unsure about being with him, he doesn't push her at all and promises to protect her family when she leaves the cabin to search for their father. There was honestly a small part of me that was shipping him with Yeva, he was just that lovely!

And finally, the 'fall in love to break the spell' trope. Without spoiling anything, I'm so happy to say that the Beast isn't constantly trying to force Yeva to fall in love with him in order to break his curse. He believes that his curse has to be broken in other ways that require Yeva's help - but I won't say anything else on this as it'll spoil too much of the plot! 

I have to say that the incorporation of Ivan Tsarevitch, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf worked so perfectly with this story, and the second half of this book is definitely more of a retelling of this folktale than of Beauty and the Beast. It was done in such a clever way, and I'm still in awe at the way that the author managed to weave the two together and set the result in medieval Russia so perfectly. I'm always on the lookout for new books inspired by Russian folklore, and I'm so glad that I came across Hunted.

love Becky @


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Latinx Book Recommendations


In light of an upcoming book which appears to have severe themes of cultural appropriation for the Latinx community, here are some books from the community, with majority being Own Voice novels. Support these books and their authors and let their voices be heard as they tell their histories and their stories and be careful of the damage caused by supporting misinformation and appropriation. 

Goodreads | Book Depository





The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

After 'borrowing' her father's credit card without permission, Margot finds herself having to work in the grocery store owned by her family as punishment and to pay off her debts. Margot is desperate to maintain her fought-for reputation at her private school, and refuses to let her family get in the way of her attending the ultimate beach party. The Education of Margot Sanchez looks at class and cultural issues, family secrets, and the building of new relationships whilst trying to maintain old relationships, with friends who could never understand the situation that you're in. 






Goodreads






I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

A YA contemporary telling the story of Julia, a young girl left to pick up the broken pieces after her sister dies in a tragic accident. Unlike her 'perfect' sister, Julia still lives at home and becomes the brunt of their mother's grief as all her failures get pointed out. However, what if her sister wasn't as perfect as everyone thought? This is a story of self-discovery, secrets and what happens to the ones left behind. This book will be released on October 17th, 2017.






Goodreads



Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Not only being blessed by the world's prettiest cover, this magic-realism story follows the Nomeolvides women who have tended the beautiful estate of La Pradera whose magic entices guests from all over the world. However, these women have a tragic legacy: if they love too deeply, their lovers will mysteriously vanish and after years of this, a strange boy appears in their gardens. One of the women, Estrella becomes enamoured by this mysterious boy who doesn't know where he is or where he has come from. This book will be published on October 3rd, 2017.








Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

This short but powerful novel follows Sierra Santiago, a budding artist from Brooklyn. She is looking forward to a good summer but that is until a strange guy turns up to a party, starting a chain of unusual events in New York. Sierra soon discovers the Shadowshapers, a supernatural order who can connect with spirits via paintings, music and stories. Finding out not just about this order but also about her family's history, is Sierra ready to face her destiny? The sequel, Shadowhouse Fall, will be released on September 12th, 2017.






Goodreads | Book Depository



Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

A YA mystery novel following Anastasia Phoenix, the always odd girl out plus black belt plus speaker of four languages. Moving to an International city with her scientist parents is hard enough without being the sister of a mission girl who is presumably dead. Anastasia is the only person certain her sister is still alive and when she finds a trail of evidence, she becomes part of a conspiracy much bigger than she anticipated. But her only goal is to find her sister. Joined by Marcus, your typical bad-boy with a heap of secrets, the two try to uncover the secrets around her sister's disappearance but everything is not as it appears.







Goodreads





The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers 

Being the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City, Camilla del Valle Cammi is used to a life of private planes and paparazzi. It comes with being the daughter of a telenovela actress and a voice-over artist for blockbuster films. However, when her mum gets cast in an American television show, everything changes when the family move to LA and things aren't quite as glamorous anymore. For once in her life, Camilla is struggling to fit in, especially when her new friends thinks she is a scholarship kid and daughter of a domestic. This book will be released on May 9th, 2017.







Goodreads


They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Adam Silvera strikes again with a book you just know is gonna make you cry and smile, probably at the same time. Following the story of Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, this young-adult novel joins them on their last day on Earth as they meet over an app and agree to spend their last hours together. Going from strangers to friends in just a couple of hours isn't something either of them expected but knowing you'll both be dead in a few hours tends to speed things up. Heartbreaking, profound and proof that your entire life can change in a day. This will be released on September 5th, 2017.









Are there any Latinx books that you're anticipating? 
Let us know in the comments ready for the second part of this post.
Love Angharad @